Sunday, May 31, 2015

The storm

Today we saw hail. Our sweet Bangalore with its usual gentle showers decided to go all violent when we were driving around one of its forgotten roads. We were hit by hail stones. The twang on the car roof and the bullet shots on our face through the windows made it super scary. Nature has strange ways of reminding us that she's the boss. So many fallen trees, syntex tanks and even chairs that were flying around. As i like to think, we are way too tiny in the scale of things.

The book connection

We have a practice. We hunt for discounted book shops in vacation spots. We spend at least an hour in them searching for authors and titles. There is inevitably a shop selling books at a discount and the book collectors in us cannot stop ourselves from buying, reading and keeping the book as a memento.

I've picked up completely random titles and gotten lost in it. And always wondered how a piece of the author always survives. How did I in a tiny place in india pick up a book published in Germany and later translated to English? Some tourist must have gotten it along as a vacation read and left it behind. I have bought some difficult to get books as well in such tiny shops.

There is a strange camaraderie between me and the previous owner who left the book behind for me. I never sell my books or leave them behind. They're a part of me. Perhaps leaving it in a holiday spot is not a bad idea. Somebody will get to enjoy it. Somebody will wonder who I am. And I can wonder who picked my special book and revisit my destination. Its got such a wonderful ring to it.

Dolphin spotting

Its unbelievable but true... We spotted a dolphin in Goa !! It was a quick glimpse and we were too delighted to even click a pic. But we did it!!!!! The rocky boat ride was so worth it.. Symbolic that you have to cross the aguada jail to go see dolphins. Such a beautiful view for the men who can never truly enjoy freedom.

My glimpse of god

Watching sunset on a goan beach was so wonderful. This is my attempt to recreate the moment through a picture. So close yet so far away..

Flying without wings

Parasailing in goa. I overcame my biggest fear of not being in control and let myself go. Its not something as scary as bunjee jumping, but perhaps someday we will attempt that too.

Zindagi na milegi dobara

This is not a movie review. This is just a tag line for how I felt the last week. We went to Goa from kodai and I was so happy and delighted with life in general. We did so many things we usually do not. Parasailing for one and even a speed boat ride. The icing on the cake, the drive around Goa in a two wheeler. We did 180km in three days. So lovely. I can never do that in the crazy Bangalore traffic. It was divine. I felt so alive.
My laptop came along with me but was ignored completely. That explains my absence from the blogging world. There were a lot of mails once I was back, but the week without any device was so relaxing.
I caught up on reading and spent a lot of time finishing wonderful books sitting on a sun chair in a huge balcony.  Timelessness and the feeling of not having anywhere to go was so wonderful.
I wonder why every day of life is not like this. I have to figure out a way to take life one day at a time. Its going to be difficult but I have to try.

Dune Elephant valley - kodai

The first stop in our long vacation was in kodai. We stayed in dune elephant valley resort. First thing we went at the peak of summer. So it was hotter than Bangalore. Second the place is away from kodai and the route is very difficult to take. But once you reach the place, its lovely. The rooms are aesthetically done and the whole place looks beautiful. It is very serene also. We had gotten cake to celebrate a birthday there so we did not eat food over there. The bread from the bakery and all the fruits I ate were filling me up.
The staff were friendly and they even got us plates to distribute the cake to the rest of the visitors. Night was a little scary as there were some noises outside our room. We later realized it was a stray pony wandering around.
The best part of the stay was the trek to the origin of a waterfall. It was pleasant and made me feel very alive and energetic.
We felt closer to each other and one with the world around us. We checked out happy and hoped to come back next time when it will not be so hot and with our dogs for a longer stay.

The origin

Ever wondered how a beginning can also be an end? Well, that was what was running in my head as we finished our trek in the elephant valley. We stayed in dune elephant valley in kodai for two days. More about the place later. While we were there, we went on an early morning trek to the origin of a waterfall.
It was such a scenic walk and we waded through streams looking for elephant and bison tracks.
The chirping of birds and a very pleasant air kept us company through our walk. The early rays of the sun gave us enough light without burning us out. We trekked through to the very end. There we bent down to watch the waterfall crash into the rocks below. A very steep drop. While we were admiring it, our guide pointed to a diversion created in the stream before the drop. He said those sand bags have been put in place to prevent the water from rushing through so rescue workers can try to retrieve the body of a 20 year old who had died the previous day. While trying to pose for a picture he had moved too close to the tip and just fallen down. Without a hold, he disappeared in seconds.
I wonder if they found his body. The beginning of something led to the end of something else. The folly of youth to feel so invincible. To think more of the pose than of the thing being photographed. To underestimate nature. I feel sorry for the boy.

Doggy heaven

My much anticipated vacation came and went. The very first thing that went wrong was our pet sitter falling ill. We had to take the jokers along to Madurai, leave them with my dad and proceed to kodai.
My dad has graduated from a dog hater to a pet sitter and he took care of these guys for two days!! I think they were in some kind of doggy heaven because they looked so happy when we came back. It was the open air and the complete leash free existence. How I wish I could buy a house with a huge yard and just let them loose.. Some day soon..

Wherever I go

It looks like wherever we go, there is a welcome party. In Goa, we went to a beach and there this guy looking so extraordinarily like zoya was sleeping in the exact same pose. He woke up to give me one look and then went back to sleep. Is it that I've started noticing these things now or do my dogs have a way of reminding me if them wherever I go?
Look at those white paws and that posture. Unbelievably eerie.

Footprints

I was walking along an empty sinquerim bench on a beautiful evening. The waves, the wind, the solitary lady whispering sweet nothings on her phone and the two doggies playing with each other near the waves. It felt like a piece of heaven I had mistakenly walked into. My glimpse of paradise. I looked down to check if my feet were grounded and saw the footprints I had left behind.
Life is like the sea shore. You can walk as proudly as you want leaving huge deep marks for the rest to follow but when the tide comes by your footsteps will disappear. It doesn't matter who you are. Or what you did. Sooner or later it happens. Perhaps we just have to do what we want to do and forget about the footprints. They are meant to disappear anyway. This breath of fresh air and the salty taste it leaves behind in my mouth are irreplaceable.

The winds of change

I was sitting next to the beach, sipping a hot cup of tea while watching the waves and wondering what I do living so far from the waves. I looked up to ponder and saw the coconut trees questioning me. They swayed, the movement gentle and violent at the same time similar to the emotions I was going through. Peace and anger at it being temporary. A snap to remind me of my goan evening. The winds of change are here. I feel them.

Monday, May 18, 2015

E-Reader and the addiction

Last year, I gifted a kindle to my better half. Not one for electronic media and still a fan of holding a book, my reading was still restricted to books. Finally, last week, I started reading in the kindle and the sheer number of books in the same had me hooked. I finished some 3 books last week and I am on my fourth now. Since they were all books still unavailable in India, reading them was a lot of fun. I caught up on reading and kept reading almost all the time. While having a book blog seems to be the best thing to do, I am not sure if i can write enough for both this one and the book blog. Also, the fact that I have some 50 books to review for just this year scares me. Perhaps, my next week vacation would be a good time to write and create something I can look at fondly a few years down the line.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

First day

I was reading this article about some business genius. He used to advise folks - "What if today is the last day of your life? What would you do differently? Go do it now." Or something like that. That is something I have followed once in a while. But today, I got thinking - "Why should it always be about an end? Why should I be egged on by the possibility that something might end and I should steal the moments before they are gone? How do I start something new if I am scared of the end?"

I started wondering what I would do different if it was the first day of the rest of my life. Perhaps I would establish a sensible routine. Perhaps, I would do something I have never done before - as I have my whole life time ahead to experiment. As my head hits the pillow, there is going to be a reset button being pressed somewhere and there is going to be a voice that tells me when I wake up - "This is the first day of the rest of your life. We have already done some ground work for you. Now go ahead. Do what you truly want. Be happy."

Let me see how that works instead. :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Vacation

I used to belong to the school of thought that subscribed to the view that, the longer you worked, the less vacations you took, the better you will do in your chosen profession. Work was my relaxation for the longest time. I was a pretty strict follower so much so that my wedding + honey moon got only 10 working days off. Working two days before the wedding never felt wierd. It seemed natural.

Obsessing over my job, falling in love with new equations and new techniques, was not strange ever. (It is still is not to me). We did travel on weekends and even otherwise for a week or two, but I always carried my laptop around (it is just me. Not something that was imposed on me. So dont go about saying that some companies drive you crazy. People do it to themselves). Not checking my mail and not working was like being handicapped.

Over the last few months however, I have realized the importance of disconnecting completely once in a while. Rajasthan and our road trips in December really reminded me of all that is out there.

The fact that I took off in the middle of the week to attend a wedding last week (I was still working from the hotel room after the wedding, but that doesnt count) makes me feel that evolution is here to stay.

We are planning a much needed vacation at the end of this month. We are heading to Kodaikanal and then to Sirsi (Road trip fever after the nice one in December)

Every attempt will be made to disconnect. Every attempt to unwind and take life one day at a time. Let me see how it goes. :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Aur Dikhao

This ad seems to have captured the imagination of quite a few people. They appreciate it, call it interesting, etc. etc. and I cant begin to fathom why. Are you trying to tell me that capitalizing on the dissatisfaction around us is ok? Or are we all so used to not being satisfied about anything that we dont mind when it is shown to us on television? I can only wonder.

Personally, I like the jingle, but I am not a shopaholic, so the fascination ends there. Of course, if they were showing me books instead, I would have stood enthralled, watching the titles fly by and identify who the publishers were, how much they were pricing it at, what the plot was etc. To each his own. That to me is the true identity of my country - to each his own. :)

Drama queens

So, we have an open kitchen. We spent quite a lot of time training the dogs to not come near the dining area or the kitchen. Both of them pretend to follow it when we are around. We have caught Laika there once (when Zoya was watching us in the first floor and gave a warning bark to Laika as we got up to go down), but otherwise, they do not cross the line.

Yesterday, the unthinkable happened - I broke an egg when I was arranging a few in the fridge (I detest the smell of egg. But i had a cold, so it was ok). We called Laika thinking shell come running and lap it up, the lover of eggs that she is. She sat near her line and wailed. Then, when we called her again,she ran up the stairs and hid there.

Zoya was looking at us with hopeful eyes. We called her forward and she sat down and looked at us with such sad eyes. She moved forward when we called her again and then when I got up, she ran away.

We tried to leash them and walk them towards the egg and man, there was such resistance and we saw what backflips mean. Finally, I carried her and left her near the egg. She ate it all the while checking if i was watching her and she licked it clean and ran far far away.

What drama queens I have! There is never a dull moment.

An open letter to the "holier than thous"

Ok, I am very angry with a few folks who keep discriminating against us just because we have a pet. Or pets. Speaking with them doesnt seem to make a difference, so venting it out in the cyber space seems to be a better thing to do.

1. Walking an animal is not wierd. Yes, you see me out only when I am walking an animal - They need exercise and I do other things without them, just that you dont see me. I am not an alien just because when you see, I have different company and I might be talking with them. It is calming. They dont judge.

2. Making modifications to accommodate them is not wierd. And, doesnt mean, I have money to waste. Yes, I have made a lot of modifications to my house to accomodate them. It is their house as well and their safety is important to me. People do that for children, for the elderly also - why should I not do it for "just" dogs?

3. An area doesnt stink just because an animal lives there.My premises - are not dirty and stinking of dog just because there are a couple of dogs here. Dog hair will not kill you if it happens to stick to your clothing. If you have a problem, stay away. If it stinks in your house, complain. Dont imagine a scenario where it might and harass me. I am not from a planet that gives me wonderful nose that can block out the smell. I live here. We all do live together and I dont want it to stink in my own house either.

4. I pick poop - yes, there, it is out in the open. I wash hands, I use paper or plastic. So what is your problem? What is that scorn on your face for when I pick up poop for? Have you never changed a diaper in your life or washed yourself for that matter? Stop judging me!!

5. We walk our dogs on leash - always (except when they run away). Not because I am scared that she might jump on you and bite you, but because I am scared what you or a few other people will do to her when she is walking near me. She might be distracted and run and I dont want her to be greeted by stones. (Someone actually told me, "I will throw a stone at any dog walking without a leash." ) The pets will not kill you and no, we are not interested in you either.

6. Sterilising my dog is my business. Both my dogs are neutered, but that doesnt seem to matter to lofty idealists without a dog who tell me that dog population is in excess and has to be controlled. Do you even understand how difficult a dogs labor can be and how much work the pups can be? Or how expensive neutering at a good hospital is? Or how heart wrenching the guilt at what you are doing is? Perhaps you do not. Perhaps since we go through so much, we might as well be aliens

7. Yes, I see a lot of space and I want to let my dog run there. Notice, I said want, I actually dont. I run with my dog. You genius, that told me that she might pull and run and trip me and kill me, please watch your tongue. There might be accidents, but she slows down for me when I pant - instinctively. I am not an alien, I just like running with my dog as she doesnt have a space to run offleash otherwise.

8. Lastly, we are not weird as we have dogs and no kids. Have you  not heard of the freedom of choice? Is that concept so alien to you? Dogs cannot replace children and children cannot replace dogs. It is a different experience and how narrow minded are you to compare and brand?

Why is there such fear even against pets? Why is there such a hatred towards anyone that is different and the immediate branding and alienation? It just stuns me. It reminds me that perhaps, even I am prejudiced and that the prejudice and bias should end. The hatred and fear is alarming and it is actually painful to live with it in a few instances. That really doesnt mean that I am going to stop having pets. It just means, I am going to figure out a way to live with this without losing my sanity.

And promise to myself that I will try my best to not discriminate and be biased and to give everyone a fair chance at whatever it might be.

Labour

We went to my favorite nursery yesterday (to celebrate mothers day) and got a lot of plants for my mother's garden. Usually, I get my maid to plant everything. But this time, my mother insisted on doing it herself. It was amazing to watch her work (I wasnt digging. I was just walking around trimming, weeding etc.in my garden which took more time than I expected). She worked pretty late into the night and today morning, her garden had transformed. It looked lovely!

Today, we planted a badam tree ( she did all the work, I was still weeding) and it was actually fun

I also removed a lot of plants rather, cut them away as they were not growing well. Removing them from the roots seems an impossible task as they are a part of me in a strange way. Someday, perhaps, I will not be so melodramatic and the garden might look cleaner, But right now, I enjoy having a forest with a few birds that visit me everyday around. Working in the garden is so relaxing and the fact that it takes a backseat compared to other priority is depressing at times. I have to make time. I have to do it.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Knowing a city

Sometimes, you get to know a city. Understand its secrets, revel in its love for everyone who is a part of it and admire its beauty in peace and quiet. I visited Hyderabad for a day. I think I might fall in love with the city. It was also pouring, so my love for the city could have been influenced by the weather.

The broad roads, the clean air and more than anything, the food and the people. The food was unbelievably good and cheap.Everyone was bustling around but they had time to pause and chat. Market places had crowds on a weekday and the shop keepers were so courteous and willing to please.

I wanted to enjoy the city for a few more days, but since I had gone for a wedding and did not have enough leaves, I came back.I want to revisit SalarJung museum, which was lovely through my 12 year old eyes. Ramoji film city is also in my wish list. Our wish list rather.

Perhaps living in a place is how you come to love it, but sometimes, a chance glimpse can also lead to a relationship that can last a lifetime.

Deconstruction

So, my mom was telling me about deconstruction. It basically means that after something is written by an author, it doesnt belong to the author anymore. It can be interpreted in any way by the audience and the interpretations can change over time.

Also, she tells me that I dont own anything I write. There is nothing like my idea. I had written something. Almost finished a book and then realised that something was missing in it. So I am going to let it go and begin all over again. The concept is the same but it will have a different twist. Life is funny. Sometimes, I am finally ok to not chase things which I think I need.