Monday, August 31, 2015

The Flash

For the last five weeks I have been enjoying colors infinity HD. The series that has stolen my heart is "The flash". I've fallen in love with Barry Allen and can't seem to wait for Monday nights.
Despite having long days, I sit in front of the television late into the night watching Barry try to save the world.
I know it is going to end sometime soon.. But until I have this, I'm going to be thankful for the power to dream and for technology that has brought a lot of beautiful things to life.

Reaching the limit

Sometimes, I really like to challenge myself. Try that one thing, I normally never would because it would be interesting to do it and I might learn something out of the whole experience.

Today, I have taken the first step towards doing something that I have always wanted to but never actually done. If things go the way I see them going, I should be able to share the activity with the unfortunate folks reading my blog. Until then, suffice to say I am really excited about the possibilities life has to offer. :)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Happy onam

Yesterday was onam and mom and I had fun collecting flowers and setting up a pookolam. Most of the flowers were from our garden, but we also picked violet flowers from an unoccupied house nearby. It was fun going and picking flowers I shouldn't have.
We have never done this together as most of my onam celebrations have been in Kerala but doing something like this in Bangalore was also nice.
The best part was my realization that I had angelic dogs who refused to step on the flowers and kept running around the arrangement. Long live Laika and Zoya!!!

Friday, August 28, 2015

A busy day is a happy day

For the last few weeks, I have revamped my schedule completely. I wake up early (a little as usual) but instead of beginning work immediately, I get ready like i would to go to work, walk my dogs, pack my lunch and either leave for office or work from home. But I get ready.

Being a sloth and not caring what I wear usually has worked for me, but it has made me forget even what clothes  I have. :)

It has been working really well for me. On days I am done early, I spend my time reading. On the others, I just work in my work area. I am glad to be restarting my old habit of walking the dogs twice a day. It is not a very long walk, a pretty short one, but getting up early and getting so many things done is so peaceful in so many levels. Who knows.. given the way things are going, I am going to be able to wake up at the hours I used to go to sleep in once upon a time. :)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Walking alone

I usually walk with armed guard. Whether it is from one room to another out just around the gated community I live, my two devils always are around. When I walk in there city in either with friends or family or on the phone.
Today my sister had taken Laika and Zoya for a walk as I was walking with my mom. Our walk done, I went to find them and spent some time walking alone, contemplating life. It was a beautiful cloud covered night and I felt so peaceful. I missed the dogs as I realized how comfortable I usually am to just be with them.
Here's a small thank you to the smaller blessings in life..
Like company down the strangest and the funniest of paths

Why reading is essential

I am a book worm. I have read over a 100 books this year and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I feel that a lot us dont value reading as much as we ought to. When I tell most people that I spend my free time reading, the usual question I am asked is - "Dont you get bored?" or a comment like - " I sleep if i read a few pages" greets my ears.

I do not enjoy sports, but I do try to play because I get to know more about people when I play with them than when I actually talk to them. That being said, here are five reasons I think why reading for pleasure should be made compulsory for all adults:

1. Your language improves - this is the simplest and the most definite advantage I can see. Irrespective of which language you read in - whether it is English or your native tongue, your vocabulary improves by leaps and bounds when you read.
2. You come up with wise quips on a lot of situations - Your vocab improves and you then start coming up with funny one liners and come backs during a conversation making you a far more enjoyable person to spend time with
3. You get to escape to another world - whether it is a mystery or a fantasy or a thriller, books have a way of taking the readers to another dimension altogether
4. Your mind expands and you see a world full of possibilities. I dont know how, but every time i read a book - whether it is fiction or non fiction, I see a million opportunities in the world around me. Opportunities I never noticed in the first place
5. You have a way out of most tough situations. At least for me, in a lot of tough situations, I think of some of the characters I have read or some of the wise words from authors and sooner than later, I have a solution. The world becomes my oyster again.

I wish I could share my joy of reading with more people. But considering that wont happen too easily, I am at least glad to be surrounded by family who love reading as much as I do. :)

Daniel Faust - Craig Schaefer

I have had a wonderful last 3 days. The main reason for that is Craig Schaefer and his insufferable hero Daniel Faust. I am usually not a big fan of urban fantasy or even horror as a genre. But the 5 books in the series were so gripping that I spent most of my waking hours when I was not working, just giving Faust company. Faust is a very engaging character. His wrapped sense of honor and right and wrong makes him the perfect anti-hero anyone would fall for.

There is an overall arc across the 5 books and apart from the common hero, there are also a host of other interesting characters.  Vegas has a strong underground Occult community which Faust refers to as his family. His almost parents - a gay couple, his ex-girl friend and still friend JJ and his ex-boss Nicky are all introduced gradually. 

The first book "The Long way Down" introduces Faust and his soon to be Girl Friend Caitlin who is a Demon. His nemesis - Lauren Carmichael is introduced in the first book and she has a role to play till book 3.If you thought the first book was dark, book 3 takes you down a path you never wanted to walk in the first place. It just puts you in an uncomfortable spot and laughs at you as you squirm your way out of one difficult scenario after another.

In book 4 "A Plain Dealing villain" a new set of characters who are interested in getting Caitlin and Faust out of the way are introduced. Faust tries his best to lie, cheat, fight and just somehow get out of each tough situation he faces. His success is usually relative as more often than not, the end game is something none of us expect till the very end.  Books 1 to 4 teach us about the different creatures - Demons, Cambions (born of a union between Demon and Human) and of course the Conduit. But the author shows that irrespective of who comes from Hell, human beings are more scary for it is their ambition and greed that invites trouble that is worse than what you can find in any hell.

I loved book 5 the best as the occult element is relatively less and it shows just how scary plain human beings can be without much help from Hell. Book 5 sets up Book 6 really well and I really cannot wait to get my hands on the same.

Craig Schaefer has found a way to the list of my favorite authors by making me read and reread paragraphs and understand the world of Faust much better than I would like. For someone who likes simple and happy stories, this is a big leap. Thank you!

Ambition

Ambition does strange things to us. Sometimes, we let go of a few things that are valuable because they dont seem important to that part of our life. At other times, we constantly keep trying to evolve, to become a better version of who we are as we want to make things better for us. At a few other times, we fight, we destroy and we just lose sight of a few important parts of life.

Seldom is there the ability to balance sense with ambition. I see my generation of those that have it all, struggling to make simple life choices as they feel they dont have enough. Their ambition to be better than their peers just drives them completely crazy. I have lost sight of a lot of things when my eyes were clouded by ambition, but I realized sooner than later about what I stood to lose. However, the more time i spend out there in the world, the more i come to accept that a lot of us, dont even see what we are doing as we are possessed by a demon, who is also a very very hard task master.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Another form of expression

I read a lot. This year I have read at least some 105 books. Now, I am not doing a great job in writing a review about the book. I have been meaning to, but I never get down to it.

A friend of mine is another voracious reader like me and she does not do the review writing as well. So we have decided to try and launch a video blog. This weekend marks the beginning as we try to shoot, figure out the upload etc. etc... We have a few weeks before it is 100% live, but I really want to do it.

I am hoping that this is part of my reinvention to doing what I want to do and figuring out a way to actually doing it successfully. Fingers crossed.

Ticket to Ride

Another board game we got off awesome Amazon. ( I dont think i can thank amazon enough for making board games available in India which were never here before)

It is a railway themed game. The objective is to build a train route across the country. In our case, we got US of A. There are two types of cards available. The first is the destination ticket that highlights two cities that have to be linked to get bonus points.

The second is an extensive set of railway car cards.The cards are of multiple colors and look amazing.

At the beginning of the game, each player is given 4 car cards and 3 destination cards. They can choose to have at least 1 destination cards because if the route is not laid out, you will lose the number of points highlighted in the card.

At each turn, a player can 1) Pick 2 cards - Either 2 face up cards (one if it is a locomotive - which is like a wild card) or 1 face up and one facedown card or 2 cards from the deck. or 2) Build a route - the route should be only between two connecting stations 3) Pick up destination tickets

You can choose to hoard the cards you pick and play only when you have enough railway car cards to build long routes. You need to balance between covering more stations and building long routes. There is no wild card to make you lose your car cards, so you can afford to hoard.

The game also has a longest route bonus, so you need to play strategically.

A pretty interesting game which can pull you in for almost an hour or more. Definitely recommend it

The games on offer yesterday: Had such a lovely day.
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Puttani Hejje

This weekend I did something we usually would not have done. We attended a classical arts performance in Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. It was a program called Puttani Hejje, meant to give children an opportunity to show case their talents to the world. It had children from Bangalore and a few from Surat participating.

We stayed only for a few programs as we had to drop someone back home before too late.

The enthusiasm of the children to perform classical dance and music was contagious. At this day and age when most of us have all but forgotten the arts in our attempts to be modern, i was thrilled to see children and parents trying to keep the craft alive. Recently, i have started listening to Carnatic music again and watching these programs makes me want to perform on my own too. Some day soon.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Too much too soon

I often feel that getting too much too soon is not always a good thing. Once you get all that you possibly thought you wanted, you forget to experiment and evolve. You are stuck in a beautiful place,but still stuck and do not realize it until its too late. You become what you wanted to be, but nothing beyond it. You forget about a lot you can actually be. I am not talking about being ambitious and climbing the corporate ladder here. I am referring to every aspect of one's life. Whether it is good health, or the food you eat, or the people you interact with..

While a lot of people might disagree with me, I feel that life is worth living only when you keep striving and keep changing with the times. Evolution is the only way to live. Without evolution you just fade away sooner than later. Learning is half the fun and living is amazing only when you get a chance to keep evolving. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The analyst's dilemma

I am an analyst by profession. I love numbers and I always find a way to make them make sense. What works so well at work, doesnt work that well for me at home. A lot of tough decisions are affected by two big variables - the unknown and the emotion.

Logic works well enough, but once emotion and gut feel come into the picture, things just go for a toss. How do I make decisions when there is emotion and the unknown? How do I just make peace and live with things without numbers to take the call?

Difficult. :)

Walls

The funny thing about walls. They are initially there to give a structure. Create something which would not exist without it. Rather, give a structure to something which cannot be defined too easily. Control it.

But somehow along the way, the walls begin to close in. There is no space to move and you wonder how something you built to prevent things from getting in, is actually not letting you get out. What do you do then? Demolish them completely and start over?
Or do you just try to figure out a way to expand it and prevent it from closing in?
Moving from one situation to another, but still in the same comfort zone.. Is that a good thing?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Thyagaraja keerthanai

Its official. I have started listening to Carnatic music again. I was the same person who kind of spurned it a few years back and moved on with life.But listening to Bhaja Govindam, made me wonder about the decision and now I am listening to Thyagara Keerthanai. I really want to participate in the Thyagaraja Aaradhanai in my own small way next year. Let us see how that resolution goes. :)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Back to square one

I mentioned in my last post about Cindy finding a place to stay. Somehow, it didnt work too well and she is now with us. Tied outside my mom's house as our dogs dont seem to want to get along with her.

While we are mostly happy that she hasnt been maimed or killed and has a shelter that is legitimate, we are also unhappy as this is not the best way to keep the dog.

Zoya hasnt taken to her at all and ran away from my house to my moms to pounce on her yesterday.

It is going to be very difficult to decide what to do. Short term, she is safe and can heal from her illness. But long term.. what will we do? She is happier in the streets. We need to find her a house soon.

I hope some miracle happens and she finds a home.

She has also shown me a wonderful side to a few people who I have not paid much attention to in the past. So maybe she came into my life for a reason.

Btw, she looks so unrecognizable after a bath (courtesy my friend who owns a pet shop).

Monday, August 10, 2015

Hope amidst darkness

There's a stray that's been living in our gated community for a long time (around three months now ) and a couple used to feed it.

Today all of a sudden, the women in the road gathered together and started shouting at the couple for feeding the dog. Now it's a female dog with two broken legs. She's been limping and not troubling anyone because she's not strong enough. The children throw stones and poke her with umbrellas. She doesn't snap or react.

I befriended her on Thursday before leaving for a vacation, hoping to re-home her sooner than later. She loved to be touched and was delighted when we petted her. I thought shed be in a safe place soon. My dogs have been scaring her away so she finally came to me when our gundas had gone to the day care. But before the best laid plans could be implemented, things went south. My grand dad used to be scared of strays too and chase them away. So perhaps its karma coming back to bite me now.

Unfortunately the neighbors weren't as tolerant and were convinced the stray would eat their kids.

I don't have children so I am not supposed to understand these things or their fears.

But I know its inhuman to drag a dog out with a plastic wire and throw it out and also that it's bad manners to shout at your neighbors who feed them like you bargain in a fish market.
I was getting ready to go out and hence couldn't react to the drama in my semi clad state. I was petrified of what they'd do to the dog and was trying to call up an NGO for help. Then I saw a lady hunting for a rope. I spoke to her and realised the couple wanted to keep the dog. I was surprised to say the least. Apparently the dog had come back inside after being thrown out. Maybe food motivated it but i think love also played a role. The family wanted to give her a chance.

We helped them by giving them leashes and calling for a doc to vaccinate her. Now she seems happy. I'm not sure if they'd keep her long enough ( a remark motivated by my mistrust of people in general)but today as much as I lost my respect for people, I also found hope, so I am not complaining. Also, Cindy does seem happy. Her legs haven't been fractured, so that's good news.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Bhaja Govindam

This song (or another version of it) has been constantly in the back ground for the last few weeks. It has helped calm me down and makes me feel so amazing. Such a beautiful song. Maybe, once in a while, the solution is in the music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4FUQxn4CnY

MS does have a wonderfully soothing voice.

A musical change

When I was a kid, I learnt Carnatic music for quite a few years. Over time, I fell out of touch with the music. A few months before Laika came around, there were a lot of attempts by me to practice and sing. After getting the dogs, being with them was far more relaxing than anything else. Last month, we (my sister and I) were asked to perform together at a family function.

The house has been resounding with the music of Bhaja Govindam since then. It has been very relaxing to learn the song and even listen to it. Perhaps things are going to change, perhaps the singer in me is going to wake up and want to do more performances.Only time will tell. But I am very excited about Sunday, the day of our first performance together.

Disappointment

All of us deal with disappointment in one form or the other. I think the worst situation to be in at times, is when you have disappointed someone who placed a trust in you. The trust could be something as small as you being asked to pick the person up or something as big as being entrusted with a task the person thought important for them. Either personally or professionally.

I have recently disappointed someone and I dont know if things can ever go back to how they were. It seems impossible now but I am hoping that time heals all wounds. I had sacrificed a few things hoping to not do just what caused the issue, but difficult choices are never easy for anyone to digest.

A very heavy feeling rests in my heart and hopefully, over time, it will heal and become slightly lighter.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Goodbyes are not forever

Goodbyes are not forever,
The roads are long..
And way too winding
The bumps and the troughs are but temporary..
Fly as you might want to,
But sometimes pause and wonder
Worry not
The world might pass you by,
But another is on the wing...
Waiting just for you..

Goodbyes are short
Or perhaps long winded
They cause that tug in my heart
And bring my whole world crashing down..
Temporarily..
The change, minor or major
Just permanent.

Somethings are necessary
Somethings are not
I wonder now
If this one ever was..

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Gaming and the like



This is how one cupboard in our library looks like now after the clean up. It is full of board games and graphic novels/comics. I am yet to plough through a few of the comics (mostly Amar Chitra Katha - sue me. :) ) but most of it has been read quite a few times. The Asterix, Tintin and Calvin and Hobbes are like the crown jewels as far as I am concerned.

Last week while holidaying in Kerala, we played "Rune age", "Colossal Arena", "Archeology", "Risk" and of course a few games of "Rummy". It was fun and brought us closer.

As we rearranged everything, I was reminded of why we started playing in the first place.

My resolution is to spend more time playing board games each week. I am sitting in front of "Ticket to Ride" as we speak (thanks to Amazon for that). There are going to be a few more coming by and I cant wait to get started.. This is so exciting!!!

A new hobby

The last week has been spent just cleaning up the house. I always outsource the job to someone else, but since I was sick of watching television and reading, and my thoughts were almost killing me, this was a solution.

The experience was very liberating in a lot of ways. Some junk got thrown out, somethings got rearranged and the house looks very different. Perhaps I will try this once in a while. :)