Thursday, April 30, 2015

Small victories

Yesterday, a crazy driver did not come to pick up my sister. He spent 2 hours covering a distance of 1.5 km and she finally gave up and decided to come home on her own. It was pretty late and we agreed to pick her up from a point 30 mins away from home.

As we drove towards her, the traffic in the opposite direction started to build up and there were rows of vehicles crawling in 1st gear for almost a kilometre. There was no way we were going to be able to drive back in that route. We decided to pick a longer albeit relatively empty road.

It was a series of shortcuts and I continued to drive through them. There were really tiny lanes with no road. The vehicle seldom crossed 20kmph and we proceeded carefully down narrow roads. To add on to the party, the slight drizzle which was our constant companion, became a heavy downpour. I was driving in the dark, through narrow lanes and in a heavy rain. There were instances when we had to cut across the road or take a U turn and only as the drive continued did realization dawn that I was able to manage.

A year ago, I would have refused to drive through these roads in broad daylight. As i navigated the lanes, there was pride in my growth as a driver. These are small victories that should not be forgotten. It did not matter that it took us 1.5 hours to return home (Entire trip should have taken 45 mins to an hour). It did not matter that I was exhausted. I was very happy and delighted with life.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The shoot

My friend had come home this weekend to take photographs. He is an amateur photographer and a very good one at that. As he went around taking pictures, I was so impressed by his vision and his persistence. He was relentless and he spotted a lot of places we could pose in. We clicked pictures in our study, terrace, balcony and even the park and swimming pool in our community. Everything looked very lovely through his lens.

We had initially thought it was going to be fun. After all, how tough could posing be? But as we went through the effort for a few hours, we realized just how much goes into a good posed photograph. He explained the effect of light, our clothes, the angle we held our faces in etc. and it was mind blowing. I can never dismiss a photograph in a magazine now.

We got some really lovely photographs which we keep drooling over. Then, he sends me a message today, saying that, "Thes are not sharp enough, we need to take a few more." I just gave up. :) (Secretly I am delighted. I can get to look gorgeous thanks to his lens)

Hunger and Thirst

Hunger is a funny thing. Whenever I am stressed or excited or happy, hunger is an automatic reaction.Food seems to be the solution to everything. Pausing to contemplate, when I was wolfing down Bhel Puri, it seemed natural to decide to drink a lot of water every time I think I am hungry as my water consumption levels are pathetic.
It is going to be fun, similar to the time I decided to drink 3 ltrs of water a day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rapt attention

I think Laika is trying to tell me to stop posing and just give her the biscuit. Zoya is pleading in a way only she can. :)

What attentive and obedient dogs.




Social addiction

Logging into facebook is a luxury, my life has not had for the last 2 weeks. It was a decision taken when realization around time spent browsing random posts sunk in. Not only was there no learning from most of the articles, but there were also a lot of things left undone as there was no way to keep track of time once the blue monster was seen.

The effort was successful - until today, when a log in occured - just to look at Sachin's post about his new website. 15 minutes in the evening slipped through my hands before my sensible side took over. 15 minutes that could have been spent editing, or reading or cooking or even better, eating. So again, am back to not using the medium and wondering how long the next period of De-addiction is going to last. All personal messages get sent to my inbox, so if there is any genuine communication, there will always be a response. It is just that the "Bombat Dawgz" posts are going to be left unread.

P.S - Avoided I's as much as I could. :)

Editing

I finished writing my book almost a month ago today. Given my crazy schedule, I was not able to edit it and my mother and I finally got down to doing it. Every time, we go over something and rewrite it, I marvel at how much work this is. The writers all over the world must have spent hours just reading, rereading, editing and re-editing. My head spins and I am wondering why I am using so many I's in such a short post as that was a warning given to me. Will this ever get done? Is there a victory dance and a publishing in my future? God only knows. For now, "KEEP CALM AND CONTINUE TO EDIT". :)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Avengers - Age of Ultron

The Avengers are back and man, it was a show worth seeing. I am a huge fan of superhero movies from when I can remember. Avengers has a very important place in my heart as it is one of the very few movies I watched twice in the theater. Both of us were pretty kicked about the age of Ultron being released and we lined up to see the movie well ahead of its release date. We were thrilled to find tickets in Urvashi, which is one of the best theaters in Bangalore as far as I am concerned and we went all geared up to watch another installment. This one, did not disappoint as well.



The plot follows the avengers in the aftermath of the Hydra attack. They try to infiltrate one of the Hydra  bases and there they find Loki's scepter, as well as two enhanced human beings who have been experimented on with the scepter - the Maximoff twins. They fight the Avengers to defend the base, but when Stark tries to take the scepter, they let him for reasons known only to them.

The Avengers are convinced that their battle is over and they head to the Stark mansion for a night of revelry. Thor has decided to take the scepter back to Asgard and Stark and Banner decide to try to understand it in the three days they have left before his departure. They realize that the jewel actually protects something which looks like a piece of code and they leave Jarvis to decipher it as they move on to the party. Jarvis deciphers it and brings Ultron to life. Ultron has a different concept that Jarvis and he destroys him while trying to escape.

Ultron recruits the Maximoff twins and together they wreck havoc. Ultron also decides to get himself a body made and contacts a scientist who can help him with that. The Avengers hunt all over trying to find Ultron, whose intention is the destruction of humanity. How they succeed in their mission and what price they pay, forms the rest of the plot.

The screenplay is efficient. The action scenes are mind boggling and someone like me who usually does not like action scenes can also enjoy it. The dialogues are witty and I felt that Ultron got some of the best. (I have a soft corner for James Spader after Blacklist, so that could be why I enjoyed it even more). I fell in love with the characterization of Ultron and every frame reminded me of the power of a story. How a universe created by a few creative minds can entertain so many millions and sustain their interest for a number of decades. It is fascinating and encouraging.

The Maximoff twins and Vision are interesting additions to the plot and I wonder how they will use their powers in the next installment.

I would love to say that Iron Man stole the show, but this time he had some touch competition from Ultron and also from Hulk and the Black Widow. Another wonderful installment and I am sure I am going to watch this movie again and again and again.

The case of the picked flowers

We all ought to stand up for what we believe in. Something as basic as that always seems to be the one thing we are experts in goofing up. We either do not stand up for what we believe in or worse, we are so aggressive in our defense that it ends up being an offense and causes more harm than good. I see a lot of examples of this every day. I wonder if bottling up anger can cause the aggression and if we address the minor issues, it will get sorted earlier.

My neighbor loves my hibiscus. Now, I hate picking flowers as I feel they look much prettier in the plant. I pick a few for pooja and I also pick the dead ones and dry them for making something for my hair. For the last week, Laika has been barking like crazy and when I go out, I see my neighbor standing with his hand full of flowers. His children also come around and pick it like it is in their garden. They have not asked me and they just go ahead. I know it is just flowers and I know it is not a big deal, but I get very angry as I feel that these people are just taking advantage of me. They dont have a basic human courtesy of asking someone. Today, I decided to call him out and told a polite hi when Laika went ballistic. The conversation was as follows:

"Your flowers are so nice. You have so many every day" He remarked and continued to pick flowers
"Yes. I pick them after they dry for hair treatment." I told him
"Is it? Good for you there are enough left after I pick." He remarked cheekily and walked away.

I wanted to punch him. He did not even thank me for letting him use the flowers and he usually makes fun of me when I garden saying that I water plants which don't need water and that I have a forest in my house. I wonder if I am being silly by getting irritated about these things and I also wonder if I am being ridiculous by not standing up for myself.

Dreams that come true

Lately, I have been revisiting a lot of beautiful things from the past and also things that are awesome about my life right now. One thing that made me grin real widely was my Rajasthan trip last year. I studied in Pilani. I loved traveling even when I was in college. However, due to multiple reasons, I could not travel as much as I wanted.

One of my favorite memories of college is travelling to Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Bikaner in my final year. I saved a lot from my internship ( I was just getting 7k. It seemed such a princely sum then!!) and used that money to travel. We camped in the desert, we stayed in places over looking the fort and we visited the rat temple with a very drunk driver. It was a very memorable trip for a lot of reasons.

We were a gang of girls who knew how to live with each other and have fun. I am not in touch with any of them as much as I thought I would be, but that is another story altogether. Anyway, during that trip, I resolved to my then best friend Rama that some day, I will come back to the same places and travel in style and spend as much as I wanted on things I really wanted to buy and did not necessarily need.

When Sachin and I went in August, I got so many lovely things without batting an eyelid. Things which seemed so ridiculously expensive then, seemed pretty affordable now. I did not think much about it when I was buying, but when i looked back, I could see where I have come to. It was a very proud moment for me. My mom was the one who reminded me of all this. I am so happy to think about this and I feel that finally, i have managed to achieve some of my smaller goals.

A snapshot of the place we stayed in Mt.Abu:



I feel that we are always upgrading our goals and our dreams that we often forget to pause, savor the minute and feel thankful. Thank you dear God. You are really awesome.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The case of the crazy driver

Yesterday, we were coming back home through Indira Nagar. It was pouring pretty badly and we were all in a hurry to reach home. We stopped at every signal and finally it was our right of way. A bus came right in front of us and couldnt move any further as an extremely brilliant woman had chosen to take a U Turn. It was a deadlock and to make things worse, a bike tried to go through the tiny distance available between the Bus and the other car.

We couldnt do much as there were other vehicles behind us, so we just stopped the car and went back to cursing the morons and then talking. A poor traffic policeman came and redirected everyone and cleared the gridlock. I was happy that the traffic cleared but I felt so bad for that man who was sincere enough to execute his duties in the heavy rain. I wish I had such dedication.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sharing knowledge

From when I have started working, I am used to using google to find out what I want. In the last 2 months, it has been at a record high and I have been thanking a lot of bloggers who have been patient enough to explain a lot of questions I had effortlessly through their posts. They dont even know who I am and half the time, I dont know them either. This knowledge sharing has been a very important thing in my success and I am glad I was born at a time when I could be part of the knowledge economy.

That being said, I am wondering if i should also start a blog to explain some tips and tricks I am picking up myself. Or maybe, I will just contribute in forums.

Planet of Monkeys

Today, my mother heard her backyard tap open. She saw a very happy monkey drinking water from the tap. She went to chase it away and went to our house to check. She was greeted by the sight of a monkey sitting on our dining table and trying to bite into a fake apple kept in the table. The animal ran away as she was with darling Laika. They stole a box full of powdered rose and were sitting under my plaintain tree and eating it. It is funny to think about it now, but when she messaged me, i was extremely upset and I felt so violated. Laika refused to leave the house and sat guarding as she must have also been very irritated. Zoya normally hates monkeys, so I am imagining what she must have tried to do.

We have no idea how they got in. My hunch is that the maid must have left the back door open. My mother however, feels that they must have figured how to use the knob in the door and opened it themselves.

Now, I have to do something about it. Maybe set up a grill door or cut the plaintain and close the backyard off. I have refused to do it till now. I wanted the space and the green, but I am wondering if there is a point in it all. How do we get rid of the monkeys? I dont know. I can only wonder.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Looking back

This weekend, we watched all of our wedding videos with family who had come down (but had not been to our wedding). It was so nice. We could see the happy faces of people around, remember how naive we were then, remind ourself of how much we went through to finally get married and last but not the least, appreciate our lives together again.

In a few instances, it was painful as well as we saw a few who had passed away. There is a little regret which creeps in and you wonder if you did the best you could have for them and if you were truly genuine in your interactions. I can only wonder for there is no right answer to that question. Looking back is fun and a very beautiful experience. I have resolved to see my older photographs often as well so that I remain determined to be fit and not over eat. :)

Heat

Bangalore has a very cranky weather now. It is so hot in the afternoons and I see my dogs panting all the time and rushing for water. In the evenings, the temperature drops and it begins to rain out of the blue.

Every summer, I find the weather hotter than the previous year and I wonder what we are doing to earth to deserve this. Are we just being inconsiderate and careless and we are getting it back? Or are we forgetting the basics? Or even scarier, is this the new norm? I dont know. I can just dress appropriately and cross my fingers hoping that things become better.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dedication

This image conveys so many messages to me. I somehow feel inspired and happy to have seen it up close in Ellora and it gives me hope and courage.
Would the person who carved it felt fear and respect and love when he saw his completed work of art? Or would he have been detached about it? Like he was just doing something he had to do? I dont know. I can only wonder and be thankful that he did what he did so that I can come and see the image a few centuries later and share it.


Friday, April 17, 2015

The room

You are stuck. However you look at it. You are initially irritated, angry, upset and finally depressed when reality refuses to budge.

 You are depressed as a lot of things you thought you could count on, are as flimsy as a peacock feather and you run into a very thick wall in whatever direction you turn. You just have to claw your way through and then you think that hitting your head against the wall can make a bigger impact. It infact does, but only on your head and you are stuck in a windowless room, bleeding your way to a slow and steady death, a very painful one at that. All because you did not have the common sense to build a door. You lose consciousness thinking of all the things you ought to have done better including having an alternative, having an exit plan and not locking yourself out from the world in a room without even a lock somebody can break open and save you from.

You lose consciousness and you see your soul departing what used to be a well nourished body, but what is now nothing more than a thin piece of skin stretched over weak and broken bones. You wonder whats the point of it all and you slowly, painfully, ebb away.

The record

I was a good student. I mean, i loved studying and I never could understand why someone would not want to do it. That being said, let me tell you a story.

I hate drawing. I must have frequently visited my biology teacher's nightmare. She was a very good teacher and my diagrams must have frustrated her to no end. She was usually poker faced and only once in a while I got glimpses of anger.

One fine day, I decided to draw a plant which grew on a trunk. I forget what it is called now, but the idea was to show a symbiotic relationship. I got my lovely microtip pencil out. (I still collect those) and I stared at the blank page strategising until I got down to drawing it. I actually spent quite a long time on that particular drawing as I really wanted it to look good. Finally, I was elated with the result. I put it carefully in my bag and went about studying the rest of the subjects.

The next day, I was very proud of my diagram. (Humility has never been my virtue) I showed it to my friend in the study period (the first half hour in school was actually study. We were supposed to sit in the lawns and study quietly) I did not say anything and the look of pity on her face was unmistakable. "Don't feel bad. You have marked all the parts correctly. It is also neat. So you will get 4/5" She consoled me and went back to studying. I was dejected. All the joy I had felt at my work was gone in an instant. But, when I looked at the diagram again, I was happy. I knew it was an improvement and my teacher also appreciated it. I can still see the picture now as I write.

Looking back at that incident today, a few thoughts cross my mind all centered around doing something which is not your strength:

1. When you start working, you are repeatedly told that it is better to focus on your strengths and improve in areas you are weak in. Half the time, you have the chance to delegate things to someone who does it better than you. At those times, I wonder that if it were school, would I do that? Would I find a strength in an area I thought I was traditionally weak in?
2. All of us have the habit of judging things hastily. When I was class 6, I actually liked drawing/painting enough to take up a painting hobby class. I loved what I did and the teacher was super encouraging. But the students who came there were like professionals. Some of them sell their paintings now for a living. I gave up after being made fun of for my works of art. Should we stop judging hastily? I mean, what do we ultimately get out of it? In the long run does it even matter?
3. Lastly, I think about the young girl spending time learning and doing something she was not good at. I still have that trait. I do not know when to stop and I have learnt so much and moved beyond areas I was supposed to be working in. Maybe the education system has its flaws, but it taught me to never give up and to always look for a chance to learn. Everything is interesting and everything is possible.

Long way home

My grandfather celebrated his 80th birthday this weekend. We drove down from Bangalore to Chennai for a quick weekend trip. We took a shortcut from Hoskote to Hosur while going and from Shoolagiri to Hoskote while coming back. It was splendid.The small towns and the happy faces in them were a sight to behold. It started raining on the way back and there was not a soul to be seen. For a minute I wondered why all the population in India was stuck in huge cities with pathetic living conditions and pollution. I guess, not finding lucrative jobs is pushing more folks to the congested cities. Some day, I want to live in a farm and just not worry about the common concerns of city folk.

On this long route to my current home, i resolved to find my permanent one where I can live as one with Nature. It is going to take a long time. But I am not going to forget it, no matter what. :)

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Inner peace

I have written about this scene from Kung Fu Panda 2 a couple of times. When Master Shifu catches a single rain drop and deposits it safely. This is contrasted with one of the final scenes in the movie when Po, who has been catches a canon ball and throws it back. He finally finds inner peace. It is a beautiful scene and a wonderful movie.

Now, I am really seeking some inner peace. I think I have reached a point where a lot of things don't make sense as this critical element is sometimes a little out of my reach. I dont know when I will be able to find it. Hopefully, it should not happen when I have to catch a cannon ball. Or perhaps, I have to say that I want it to happen when the time is right and that I can actually recognize it for what it is.

What does she seek?

 

This is Zoyas new favorite pose. She is found staring out the window every day. She just keeps looking at the road, where just a handful of people walk and she is very happy to wag her tail when her friend walks by. This can be classified as one of those things I want to understand. Of all the mysteries of the world, being able to understand what goes on inside the head of my dogs would be one of the best.

How much they observe.. How much they know.. If only they could talk or if only I could understand them better. Life would be so much more simpler and far more interesting.

When it rains

The sky is clear..
There is not a cloud in sight.
There has not been for quite sometime now
The land is parched and it longs
with a longing understood by just a handful
The cracks and the holes become bigger and bigger
But the much needed moisture is nowhere to be seen
The thirsty animals walk around
Tired and falling down at every other step

And then, the clouds gather
all of a sudden, there is activity
Shelters sought, hiding places rediscovered

Then it rains
It rains
and rains
and rains
It just pours
There is no respite

Land erodes and goes away
as it must
It loses too much
Much more than it thought it would
The animals are drenched
and they shiver even in the best of shelters

When it rains
It pours
There is no respite
There is nothing to stop the fury
So pause before you wish
Ponder before you  hope
if you can handle all that you want..

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Masinagudi - nature at its best

We had a wonderful weekend in Masinagudi, a beautiful town nestled in the foothills of the Mudumalai forest. Most tourists visit Ooty, at a higher altitude and are not aware of this escape available to them.

We had been planning for a Masinagudi trip for a long time and it finally came true. We started late after dropping the jokers off and sadly, we hit Mysore only around 1.30. We stopped for lunch at Fortune J P Palace and had a pretty sumptuous treat. From Mysore, Google Maps showed us a route which covered a lot of tiny villages and we ended up driving from 2.30 to 6 and hit Masinagudi at 6. The exhaustion was not felt at all as the last one hour was through the forest and we saw a lot of awesome sights. There were wild elephants, boars, bison, monkeys, langurs and a variety of birds including peacocks posing for us to click.

We stayed in the bear mountain resort and the place is so in touch with nature. We were greeted by three lovely dogs who acted like we were their long lost friends and then proceeded to our simple rooms. The place is so calm and serene. We had a simple dinner and walked around the property only to be greeted by a herd of deer which just stood and watched us. We did not try to go near them and they left us pretty much to ourselves. It was a different experience. I have seen deer in the zoo, but seeing them at such close quarters was awesome.

We walked near the resort the next morning and were greeted by a lot of such herds. We found few tiny cottages around that had friendly folks who gave us tips to spot wildlife and directed us to streams. We saw the giant malabar squirrel eating peacefully and I was so glad that this beautiful place was still untouched by crazy human hands.

The visitor outside our cottage


They munch on unconcerned:



These are pics clicked on my phone. I have even better ones in the camera which I have not downloaded as yet. :)

Paying your dues

Often in life, we have to pay our dues. Sometimes, the process is quick and dirty and you heave a sigh of relief at the end of it. But most of the times, it is not. In fact, most of the time, you dont even realise you are paying your due. If you are lucky and are blessed with hind sight, one day far off in the future, you might. Otherwise, you are stuck contemplating what made you deserve what you are going through.

The joker might think that what doesnt kill you makes you stranger, but I think that if something is going to kill you, you better drop it and run far far away. Some things are just not worth the trouble. Yet, when I consider that I ought to pay my dues, I wonder how and if i can ever strike a balance. Is the cost of paying my due, much bigger than what I got in the first place? Or does that question become redundant because one has a life time to reap the benefits? I can only wonder..

Dont feed the monkeys

We went to masinagudi last weekend. The journey through Mudumalai is mindblowingly beautiful. We were watching the forest and when we entered the forest, there are lot of posters warning us against feeding the monkeys. This set however, seems to have interpreted it as, dont feed the monkeys, they can feed themselves. :)

Right in front of our eyes, they jumped on a moving van and pulled out vegetables from it and had it sitting on top of the very board that advised us against feeding them. It was like watching a movie. Pretty cool to be honest. :)

Monday, April 06, 2015

Comic Con 2015

Yesterday, we visited the Comic Con in Hebbal. It was if anything an expensive affair. Parking was a 100 bucks and the per person entry was at a whooping Rs.450. I was of course very upset about the prices, but I forgot about it once I was inside the actual venue.

There were just too many cool things to see and enjoy. Whether you wanted to have something to remind you of tintin or asterix or LOTR or GRRM, you did not have to look too hard. Of course, the number of Marvel and DC fan kid memorabilia was much higher than anything else, but it was so nice to be able to find things not normally found in big shops.

Another thing which astounded me and gave me hope was the sheer number of friendly artists who dotted the venue. I met quite a few good ones and I intend to take their help in getting my book illustrated. I am also super excited about the new books we got - one by C G salamander and a collection of graphic novels illustrated by Vivek Goel.

I did not think of dressing up for this year's event, but I had a good time taking pictures with those who had. We missed the cosplay event, but looking at jokers, assassins, vampires and robots was a pleasure. The food was of course pathetic, but the atmosphere and the brownies being sold more than made up for it. I loved the brownies and cup cakes and I broke my fast to munch a few yesterday.

Overall, a great experience, but i just wish the prices were cheaper. :)

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Piece by Piece

In life, a lot of things are built piece by piece. What is interesting is how you see the whole when you begin and how it ends up being and all that happens to move from where it was to where it is. It is very exciting when things begin - when you have a germ of an idea and when you just have that feeling in your gut that you want to do something about it. That is the best part.

The middle, when you actually start working towards the end and when all you can see are incomplete pieces - is the most frustrating time. Personally, I want to drop everything and run as far and as fast as possible when things are slow and torturous.

Somethings never end. Somethings end too soon and Somethings never begin. Right now, we are working on another phase of redecorating the house and I wonder how this process would turn out to be. Another pleasurable exercise or a painful one. Talk about being positive. :)