Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015

This has been a remarkable year with so many awesome things. Thank you for everything. I'm happy with the decisions I took and with the changes and challenges I faced. Thank you 2015- you showered me with a multitude of blessings.

Personally it has been a landmark year for the blog with me writing 289 posts, the highest since I started this blog. I'm happy and at peace. Happy new year everyone. May you be enthralled with life and with all the ups and downs that are an essential part of it.

Healthy living

How is it going to be possible with options like this right next to the billing counter? We picked up a few bottles for our party and a kid who came already finished one by himself. Sigh. I'm complicit.

God in small things

We stayed for a night in Bellary hoping to cover the fort there. We were all so tired from the trip that we woke up pretty late and it was too sunny hence we decided to visit the place and not attempt the climb.

The fort is built on a monolith and looks solid. What I will always remember about this fort is this group of kids using a water bottle as a sled and sliding down the slopes. The joy in their face reminded me that there's God to be found in the smallest of things.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Anjanadri hills

In hampi, we took a boat from near the Vitala temple to Anegodi. There were bikes being moved along with humans. The ride itself was an experience.

Anegodi was so fertile. No wonder kingdoms battled with the Vijayanagara dynasty. We trekked up the Anjanadri hills. It was 580 steps one way. There were quite a few people attempting the climb in the hot sun.

One man walked up to me and my sister and asked us what we do for a living. We said software, as explaining our finer occupation gets very taxing and we leave that conversation for people we'll keep running into. I continued to climb up as based on my previous long climbs, I know that stopping makes me want to rest longer. A few minutes later, I hear the man telling his wife, "See software people are climbing and you, the person who works on the soil is unable to." :)

We reached the peak in about 30 mins and spent a long time looking around. This place to me, exuded an aura of challenge. The wind blew from all directions and there were lot of smaller places to climb to.

The climb down was much faster. In life as well, it's harder to climb up, but far easier to fall down from any pedestal.

Into the middle of nowhere

In Badami, there's Agastya lake near the caves. We decided to walk around the lake the other day. Soon after we started our exploration, we took a path through the village as parts of the pathway were covered with water and we were nowhere near flexible as the village women.

As we wandered through the village, we found a road behind the archeological museum and took it in the blazing sun. We had a few goats for company, but otherwise, there were no tourists around. It was a beautiful route and we invented a lot of stories about the place as we walked around.

We reached the summit after a long walk and the view was amazing.

In most places, I feel there's a spirit that's waiting to be discovered. Where tourists frequent, their curiosity and interest changes the spirit but in those untouched areas, the aura is there, waiting to be experienced.

Badami's aura was one of serenity. The city saw Vaatapi, it saw the Chalukyas, the pallavas and even the British. It knows that the powerful die, that worshippers change and that things admired disappear. Nothing will remain forever except perhaps art.

The lost city

This was our second visit to Hampi. But this time, we took a guide in the royal enclosure which was basically where the king lived. He walked us through the different places and even showed us an underground chamber. His passion for the lost kingdom was contagious. I loved the story that there was a pipe line bringing water to the area so the royals could play holi..

In one of the walls there were engravings of camels. Also in the main platform, we saw smaller carvings of women going out for a hunt. The guide looked at us and said that equality was there from those days.

The plates of the soldiers were huge and my favorite was the stepped well discovered in the 80s.

I have a strong feeling that there's a path between the underground chamber and the lotus mahal. Perhaps, in an alternate universe, I'm the archaeologist who made the discovery.

Undiscovered gems

This vacation, another couple had the exact itinerary as ours. Only difference, they were staying longer in hampi. The guy told us about a group of temples in lakkundi. We googled the place and decided to visit it. We spent three hours there and felt it was insufficient.

The level of detail on the sculptures was just mind blowing. The temples were symmetrical and peaceful. After a very dirty Aihole and a crowded Badami, this place was a breath of fresh air. We walked around the empty village and befriended a few local kids who were following us.

We were treated like royalty. A couple of temples were opened for us.

What's interesting here is that the temples weren't destroyed by the invading mughals, but the Jain temple was constantly desecrated by the Hindus and the Hindu ones by the Cholas.

Since the place was untouched by tourists, it had a rustic charm to it. We ate food in a small eatery and it was easily the best food we'd eaten during the trip.

The sad state of a few historic monuments was a constant in the trip. Maybe because this place is unknown and the locals are so proud of their history, it is cleaner and in a much better condition than the well known ones.

A must visit for those that are traveling to see the world and not for the world to see them.

The voices of the dead

I was in Gol Gumbaz last week. The structure has a central chamber built to echo sound. I felt like the dead were trying to talk to me. I wrote this in my phone that day. Perhaps I'll make this into a short story.. I'm still contemplating.

The dead talk to me.. Every single day. Almost all the time. The first time I heard them, their voices surrounded me. I drowned in it and completely lost myself and my identity. I woke up to a deathly silence. They usually leave me alone - if I'm overwhelmed. They don't want me to become insane. They will lose all lines of communication with the living if it happens.

Forbidden island

Sachin picked up this game the last time he went to the US and we've been putting off playing the game. Finally today thanks to two persistent friends of Laika, we got around to playing it.

It is a cooperative game. The players work together to defeat the board. A lost city has four treasures which have been hidden to prevent people from stealing them. Every move within the board takes you closer to causing a flood which can remove parts of the island and even submerge you. If one player sinks the game is over. All is not lost for you have treasure cards handy. You can use them to pick up the lost treasures and also use the special cards to save yourself or your team. Everyone gets a special power. The pilot can fly anywhere, the engineer can mend multiple parts in one go and the diver can just swim away when things go wrong. Together you save the treasures and fly out. Very beautiful concept that's been executed well.

It was a very interesting 30 mins. A game I'd love to play often.

A thing of beauty

I came across this beautiful temple near the lake in Badami. A very beautiful dog was the lone occupant.
A few centuries ago, someone built this temple with a lot of thought. The sculptures, the shape of the building, the location.. Everything must have been thought through.

Maybe, it was built to rival something that has disappeared right now. Well never know. But what we can know is that, no matter how many years pass, and how much intentions and governments change, a thing of beauty is a joy forever. How many enjoy it, that depends on how many can open their eyes, how many are in the right state of mind. :)

Chitradurga fort - day one

I've been wanting to visit this fort for a long time. Every trip we take in this route, we plan to stop here. Unfortunately it never happened. This time around we managed to make time for it and man.. It was mind blowing.

The whole fort is shaped like a snake so the enemy cannot enter easily. There are seven gates- each more ornate than the previous. This place also gave wings to my imagination as I saw the whole war happening.. What with secret doors, underground chambers, prehistoric engravings, heavy duty artillery and a very interesting story about a woman who killed 80 men using a ulakkai by the time her husband finished lunch.. Our guide was very dedicated and his stories were so lively.

I'll write a longer piece about it sometime later as I want to relive the experience. For now, I want to just tell the world to watch out for such small gems of Indian history which are located in nondescript towns in the middle of nowhere.

Back to pavilion

We returned yesterday after an epic road trip. When you're on the road, everything seems different and routine is so far away. Unfortunately, if I keep moving, it will become a routine by itself.. So perhaps that's why vacations have to end. To remind you they're special and to make you watch things and relax.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Vacation Time

From when I can remember, December has been vacation time. Except for December 2010 when I was in the notice period in my first job, every December, I have had time off from school or college of work and for 6 of the last 7 years, visited some place of interest. I wanted to relive a few of those vacations and hence I am reminiscing or rather showing off here...

2008, we visited my aunt in Nasik. It was my first vacation with just my mother. It was great fun and we travelled from Bangalore and back by train. I shopped, ate, overate and went all around Nasik and the nearby areas.

2009, we went to Coorg and Chikmagalur. The trip was unforgettable as both families thought something had happened to us as the phones were out of reach. They tried contacting our friends, each other and finally heaved a sigh of relief when we reached solid ground.

2011, we went to Hampi and Pondicherry. Hampi was my first trip with my mom in law and till date I think it played an important role in her understanding me. :)

2012, we went to Srilanka - a land i want to revist for more reasons than one. It was our first vacation abroad as a couple.

2013 - it was Ajantha and Ellora - my mom, sis and mom-in-law joined us and they got to know each other well

2014 - was the year of a legendary road trip - first parts of Tamil nadu and then Mangalore, Udupi and Sringeri with a friend. We aren't in touch any more, but my last few memories of time spent with him are really pleasant.

In a few days, (I am paranoid about some thief reading my travel plan and breaking into my house) I will post about our vacation this year and also thank all gods I know for the life that I am lucky to lead.

Generation gap

There is this song I was raving about earlier this year - "Wear Sunscreen."

In that I remember a line to the likes of, each generation thinks that their leaders were better, their childhood nicer etc. etc. I know I can look it up and put in the exact line, but I think you guys get the drift - how every one is convinced that their life was simpler than that of the next generation.

Earlier, seeing a kid with a funky phone was to me an example of a generation gap. Now, I see the necessity in a few cases, especially when a few naughty kids pretend to not know when they should be home. Using a phone as a reminder to call them seems logical. Not all get funky phones, but then, it really shouldn't matter as what one parent can and will afford is different from another.

Recently, I was speaking with a boy in my team. He was very young but looked much older, largely due to his lifestyle. I am not being judgmental here - I actually like the boy.

He was telling me that he couldn't afford to repair his watch and hence had let it be. I was suggesting a few shops where he could get it repaired and then he shows me the watch online - its a tissot. I am not familiar with brands, but I have to be living under a rock to not have heard of Tissot. The price just shocked me. It was close to 20k. He is not much younger than me, but the fact remains that it seems to be a normal expense for him. He also is the proud owner of an iphone.

Till date, I think a lot before buying anything expensive. We do spend a lot, a lot more than what we imagined ourselves spending even 5 years ago. If i ran into my older self through some time travel portal, i will hear a earful about my lifestyle.

But then lot becomes a relative term.

We went to this swanky restaurant Saturday night. It was not a place we would usually frequent as it is more a pub than a restaurant and since none of us drink, we go to places where the food is the key. The place was 4 floors and each floor was packed. There were so many people, barely out of college, drinking, smoking and having fun. Then, there were a few more very obviously out of place, but just gawking at the pretty girls and trying to look cool.

We loved the food there and hogged to our hearts content, but a small part of me wondered why I never consciously seek out places like this and why I never tried to hang out with a crowd to chill like this.

I have never actively sought out company to chill while drinking as I've been blessed with company that can chill even while setting up golu padi or while cooking together or foraging for fruits (of all things) together or traveling. We are all just different people. But I get bugged to no end when I am just branded as boring because I don't indulge in alcohol. Can some of them socialize without drinking? That calls for a different post altogether.

The population that looks for such different modes to chill, to spend and to indulge is just 4-5 years younger than me. Our lifestyles, our choices, they couldn't be any different. Still. we are similar in that the IT industry has moulded our life.

This generation gap is not of decades - it is hardly of a few years. How much are things changing? I have no clue and I can only watch.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Pedestrian Headache

We carpool to work. I have not driven to office even once( in the new job). Since my husbands office is a little away from mine, he drops me and then I cross the road to get to mine.

It is a headache to say the least. There is a signal meant for pedestrians like me to cross over. Unfortunately, nobody ever follows it. The cars' speed seems to increase whenever there is a red. The poor pedestrians are left bullying our way across the road. We wait patiently till there are around 20-30 of us and then we walk across the road. I am sure that the ones on either corner are having a mini-heart attack when they are crossing the road. I was in the corner only once and my heart rate accelerated so much. If I ever take to a life of crime, I know how I will feel before a heist.

There is this movie in which the heroine is trying to flick a valuable painting. She trains a lot, goes through this room full of lasers by twisting and turning. I am sure,she will identify with me. And perhaps, she might get hit as these cars don't have any pattern and are the bosses of the road.

As a driver myself, I always stop for pedestrians and get honked every single time by the vehicles behind me - even, (and this is the funny part) if the signal is a bright red.

Why are we so irritating? Does it stem from a place of superiority as we can afford swanky cars? Or does it stem from a lack of sensitivity? I don't know. I just know that I am going to continue to walk and hopefully survive.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A story of two rides

Yesterday, I was traveling for work. We had a really nice cab driver, who spoke to me in Tamil, to a colleague in Malayalam and to another in Hindi. I was really impressed with his linguistic ability and when he was taking me back to the airport, I asked him how he knew so many languages.

He started telling me his life story. He had migrated from Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu to Mumbai 30 years ago in the hope that his uncle would help him find a job as a technician. His uncle was not very supportive and he joined a factory. Unfortunately, they shut down and he had to find another job. A malayali boss took pity on him and hired him as a driver. He worked with them for 15 years and also got married in that time. He had three kids and his in-laws hit a jackpot with some business venture paying off. His wife wanted him to ask her father for money and he refused. He takes money from money lenders at huge interest rates to educate his children.

I was reading an article about people joining Uber as drivers as it is very lucrative. This poor driver, doing a minimum wage job he hates, living a life that he feels is not worth the effort - tells me that he drove for 48 hours straight with Uber and still hasnt made much. What do I believe?

Today, I had to go for a conference and I took an auto. The driver asked me if I was Tamil as I was supposedly very polite when I addressed him and told him where I wanted to go. (That is a theory I have to test, but I think it was a lucky guess). He was happy that I could speak fluent Kannada and give directions to him in the same.

He was remarking about how much Bangalore has changed ever since he started driving an auto in 82. Apparently, he once sped away from Madiwala as the area was too deserted and he was scared someone might hurt him at 12 in the afternoon!

He had saved very diligently and invested money in a chit fund for his sister's wedding. One fine day in 2000, the chit fund disappeared with all his investments. Till date, he is paying back the loans and has decided to not have kids.

He said that I was the first customer in a long time to watch the traffic and not look at the phone. He asked me, "What do people do all the time with the phone?"

After I got down from the auto, I received an email from an investment firm asking if i wanted to invest in mutual funds and gain high rewards. I know it is unfair to compare the fraudulent chit fund with a mutual fund, but my mind made the connect. For those from the lower strata of the society, it is so difficult to make money and so many things we take for granted, they cannot comprehend let alone embrace..

The whisper of stars

I was reading this book yesterday and today. It has a really scary concept.

The resources in the world have run out and all that is left is governed by the UN. People living within the UN boundary are able to have access to resources and the rest, do not. They live outside the safe zones. The ones within the safe zone are asked to hibernate - spend every alternate year in a deep sleep and come back to lead their lives after that. When they are sleeping, they are hypnotized, but have no idea what is actually happening.

Jen, a straightforward police officer, accidentally stumbles into a plot she is an intrinsic part of and tries to save her world.  Nathans life changes after his wife Kat, an investigative reporter was killed when she was following up a lead on Jen's dad Jacob. Jacob had hidden an artifact in front of Jen and the artifact possesses enough power to build and to destroy. How Nathan and Jen try to figure out the conspiracy forms the rest of a powerful story.

I was able to relate to the story as I find information availability is biased much more than we want to believe. Now, in a way, I feel people in the world are hypnotized by social media. They see what they want to, spread it, believe in it and are more than happy to sleep all through their lives and forget some sad realities..
This book reminded me that some science fiction is actually closer to reality than any one of us would want to believe. I hope that I am truly awake to my realities at least and that if it comes to it, I am able to make the right choice.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Attachment for Detachment

There was a time in my career, when nothing mattered more than my job. It would be an understatement to say that I was obsessed with my work. I couldn't think of anything else to do. Even reading and travelling took a back seat. I researched, thought, strategized about what to do, how to do, how my life will change if i do A first instead of B and so on.

I wasn't an MBA and that led to a lot of introspection, especially when relatively sane friends went insane with MBA preparations. There were just so many aspects to life that made it very complicated and I was lost. Even moving into a brand new house did nothing much to reduce my stress.

One fine day, two years ago, we thought about getting a dog. Through a strange twist of fate, we found one in 15 days. Life changed for the better after that as I had the best teacher living with me. 

A dog taught me to take life one day at a time.

A dog taught me to love unconditionally and to always be happy

A dog reminded me that beauty can be found in the smaller things in life.

A dog accepted me for who I was, however I was.

A dog made me to finally just let things be.

I still love my job and I love to work, but I am learning the art of distinguishing work and life and trying to do justice to both. It is a very long road and I still become obsessive and upset, but I know that I am on the right path. I know that my path is going to be carved by me and me alone and that no matter what happens, I will have a couple of companions walking right next to me.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Surprises

Last week, in my eating spree, I went and had an icecream in Swensens. A brief history of my relationship with Swensens - there was a point in time, I might have become their brand ambassador. I have lost count of the number of people who've been introduced to the place by me. We did pretty well - Swensens and I.

This whole year, I was nowhere near an outlet. Finally giving into temptation, when we walked into one, I ordered one of their relatively smaller sundaes (The menu hasnt changed at all! I have had every single item many times over)

50% into it, I couldnt have another bite. It was overwhelming. I surprised and shocked myself. While I spent a lot of time last week cribbing about over eating, this reminded me how less I was eating compared to how much I used to eat!

For a few minutes, I was truly happy and of course later upset thinking of the unfinished ice cream and wondering what indulgence I need to find now. One piece of chocolate seems to be the right thing..

This piece is not intended to make fun of anyone who loves ice creams. This is just my personal story of how much my life has changed over time and how moderation is not necessarily a bad thing.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A challenge

I was on a very strict diet. Note the use of the word was. Lately, I'm so tempted by food. I've had 3 meals out in two days. It's just unbelievable and sad.

Sad because I'm getting my dry skin back.. Slowly but. That's a consolation. I'm challenging myself today to go one week without eating out. No snack except a fruit bowl. How much will I be able to control? God only knows.

If I'm traveling and there's no other go, I'll try to eat healthy. Please give me the strength to get through this..

Friday, December 11, 2015

Falling ill

After quite sometime, I am ill again. I dont know the trigger. Perhaps my 15 mins of yoga was saving me all these days while disaster was lurking in the corner. Now that I am not doing my suryanamaskara, the vultures decided to swoop in. Perhaps it is the weather - Bangalore is in a crazy place right now. Perhaps the commute, perhaps the pollution... there are way too many causes.

I dont like this state too much, so I am going to restart my suryanamaskara with a vengeance and hopefully recover soon and not fall sick again. :(

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Privilege

I have posted about being constantly harassed to have kids.

Anything which talks about the taboo topic of the effects of pregnancy on a career without bringing in how beautiful motherhood is, catches my attention.
I am not sure how many have watched this ad of myntra.

It is a new age ad. I really do appreciate it. There are women out there who are making decisions without treating pregnancy as a handicap and who actually are ready to confront  their bosses. They want to manage their career and their children as both are equally important to them. Some are successful in growing professionally and personally. The majority, well, they are quietly swallowing it all up and moving ahead.

This ad did strike a chord with me as I have seen people being discriminated against (never directly, we are all too decent right?) because they choose to have children. One manager was telling this friend of mine who was trying to learn something new at work, "Why are you bothering about it, you will get an average rating, nobody wants to put down a mother. All the extra hours will not help you get a very high rating. Go focus on your child." It was his luck that my claws stayed in that day.

Coming back to the ad - it is beautifully shot. It is a dream. But there is the issue - it is just a dream. It is way too ideal.

When you are pregnant, especially, when you are perhaps a few weeks away from delivering, your mind would be on figuring out how to handle all the changes in your life. There are going to be way too many for a normal person. Identifying what to do after a 3 month maternity leave and how to manage the kid, is probably right in the top of the list of questions.

How the hell are you able to make such a big financial decision as the lady in the ad does? How deep must your pockets be, to be able to actually go ahead and rent and build such a big office? Given the real estate rates, renting or buying is just way too expensive. Who are you really? You are not the norm for a new age woman. You are an exception. The new age woman is still working on her identity. She has perhaps managed to plan her pregnancy, plan her life to a large extent, but she might not be in a position to actually start off on her own. I would love nothing more than for this to be a reality.

Even for someone as privileged as me, it is a big distant dream. Perhaps possible after a lot of sweat and tears, because I have a very supportive family and I will have someone to take care of the kid and someone to actually feed me and help me retain my lifestyle with all the expenses a kid would bring in.  But for someone not so lucky? It is not going to happen. Perhaps someday, our banks would be ready to give such loans out, our society would be able to see beyond the size of a stomach. Until then, I will just be happy watching these ads.

Temptation

So that's what I finally gave into and had a bite of today..
I love chocolates and I've not eaten any (much is closer to the truth) in a long time. I love Godiva and getting it as a gift from the US was awesome. It stayed in the fridge for almost a month untouched. Harini from last year would have gobbled it up in a week. Harini now just took a bite and let it be. A huge difference..

Thank you God.. For the temptation and the joy of giving in.

Ill-informed

One of my childhood memories is of my grandfather sitting in front of the TV and watching the Tamil news. I used to throw a tantrum when some program of mine got interrupted. Still, he persisted in watching it( he seldom did things I didn't like). Even when he was sick, he got a cable connection for the black and white TV in his room. My father, watches debates in television and is quite up to date.

As for meMe- I hate watching news in the television. I don't want to know all that's wrong with the world. Looking at a news reporter tell what's happening around the world puts me ill at ease. Always the one to believe that like history, news is also written by the victors I stayed away. I read the economic times, but that's about it.

Facebook started showing me things that were trending. This, I soon realized was even worse than television news. The mob likes to talk about negatives much more than anything that's positive. Marissa Meyers severance package is more sensational than the army men risking their lives and saving people. In fact, garbage in Chennai is shown, but nobody talks about the people giving away their salaries and the minimum they have to start afloat. Even dog groups have longer discussions on abused and abandoned dogs than of happy dogs and owners.

Have we as a society become negative? Or is it just that those that are positive are out making a difference instead of talking about it? I want to believe it's the latter. If it is the former, there isn't much hope left. I'd rather be ill informed than informed of only the ills. Hope is the best thing ever.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The "silver" affair

There was a point in time (my amazing college years) when I loved watching movies. I took a course called "Critical Appreciation of Literature and Cinema" ( I am a mechanical engineer, but was lucky to study in probably the best college in the world where they encouraged you to experiment with your electives). Weekends and even week days were spent watching movies of different languages.

Then, when I started working, watching a movie in a theater or in my newly acquired laptop was a weekly affair. 3-4 movies in a week was normal. I had my mornings free and the 100rs ticket in forum was a heaven send. That failing, there also were my crazy friends who had hard disks full of movies from all over the world and my brand new laptop - Life was one long movie then.

Over the course of years, I have actually lost touch with my habit of watching movies. I started watching quite a lot of English tv series. Star World(even the Premier one), Comedy Central and recently Colors Infinity have gotten me off my movie high.

Maybe my attention span has come down. Perhaps, I dont have so much time in one go. Or maybe, I am back to reading books with a vengeance. I cant pinpoint the exact reason. However, the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I need to make time - to watch at least one movie a week. Something good and worth the time and effort and review it.

Self Sufficiency?

It does come at a price. I have been maid-less for sometime now and it has been a truly eye opening experience. (10 days since I officially fired her, but more than a month since she has stopped working)

I know where everything is in my house now. I realise that 80% of the things that were supposedly washed and stacked in a rack havent been used in ages. I spend 60 mins to 90 mins everyday cooking, cleaning and in general getting to know my house and my habits better.

I am not sure how much longer we will continue with this, but we have learnt a few important lessons:

1.We have to not accumulate so much. We need to be less materialistic. A lot of things we got are hardly being used!!
2. We have to reduce some existing clutter (we have already thrown away a lot of vessels. Clothing is going to go next)
3. Cleaning the house is like working out. You just cannot sit and do anything. For people stuck in desk jobs, this is essential
4. It is not that difficult.
5. Time management - If you are a successful professional, you will actually find this experience similar to managing any project you might have. A lot gets done when you actually plan it.

Now, I am not a very gourmet cook. I make simple things. Also, I have a job with flexible hours, so we are out of the house by 730 and back by 6. This gives us quite sometime at home. Would all this change if my responsibilities evolve or if we get to have longer hours? Only time will tell. But in just 10 days, I have become far more efficient in a lot of things. Maybe, just maybe, this is here to stay.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Peace

Just look at her sleep.. Her friend is sitting right next to her and trying to wake her up.

A new experience

Yesterday, we volunteered at the Bangalore lit fest in the book store by atta galatta. (We got new t shirts!!) It was a very different experience.

Collecting feedback from everyone, arranging books, directing people around, looking at authors - it was fun!! The whole day was nice and calm. We loved the experience.

Doing things for the fun of it, has fallen off my agenda. Making money has become my primary concern. Once in a while, doing things like this, gives me great peace of mind.

Friday, December 04, 2015

A remote observer

Social media has become a very powerful tool over the last few years. It is such an intricate part of our lives, that a lot of us have forgotten how things were before the advent of this medium. While it is a curse in a lot of instances, seeing how social media is helping folks connect to each other, find lost people, organize relief efforts and saves lives in Chennai last week, I am forced to change my opinion.

I am but a remote observer with family in Chennai who are all thankfully safe (Divine intervention I am sure) . Facebook opened my eyes to the state of people I know all over the city. A friend has asked me to help coordinate efforts all over the city while sitting in Bangalore and that has got me interested and excited. Whether it is going to be of a huge help to people or not, the effort will give me some peace of mind.

Disasters can strike anyone, anywhere and when it does, it doesnt matter how rich you are, or how big your house is, or how many cars you have. Everything just floats away.

High Flyer

I traveled for work to Mumbai day before. It was a day trip(second time I did that!!!). I dont want to talk about work in my personal blog, but I definitely want to talk about the experience.

Up till 4 years ago, the only time I had gone on a flight was when I left my home to go join college. In my first job, there was never a necessity and exploring Karnataka and Tamil Nadu by road was all that my traveling included.

When we got married, we flew to Sikkim (Bagdogra to be exact and it is not in Sikkim) for our honey moon and after that, all my flights were international. This year however, has been primarily domestic. I have to admit that I love it.

Starting with Cochin, Hyderabad, Goa, Mumbai - we covered 4 different states through flight (5 if i include the return to bangalore). The cheap air fare made it possible. We even left our car at the air port as that made more financial sense than going by cab. It was very smooth.

This time around, I was lucky enough to get a priority pass ( i am not revealing how) and I walked into a lounge by myself and sat down drinking a bottle of water and sipping some watermelon juice. I felt on top of the world. Like, I had somehow arrived. It might not sound logical to most, but that experience was very refreshing. Maybe it is materialistic - this joy of mine..Yet, I really dont care. I am delighted with life and everything about it right now and flying without wings. (literally)

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Faith of the Nine

This review will definitely be biased as I know the author personally (it is my husband) and have read everything he dishes out.

The plot follows three characters - Fateh - a soldier, Ishan - a precocious kid and Abhaya - a monk of a secret order as they make their way around a world that is perhaps on the verge of an apocalypse. The older gods have forsaken Janani and a powerful god, Pruksa is protecting the masses. All is not well and though a few can sense it, not everyone is ready to speak out. Each of the characters see their life changing and are forced to come to terms with it and take a few decisions that set the stage really well for the second book.

Faith of the Nine is perhaps the only epic fantasy I have finished without complaining. There is so much of nail biting suspense, action and magic. Janani is a world that has been built with a lot of thought and you cannot help but get transported to that world that is so similar yet so different from yours.

Each character (major or minor) is well crafted. Of the three main ones, I cannot pick one as a favorite and I would love to get to know them even better.

At its heart, Faith of the Nine is a story of rediscovery. The three main characters, who are each very different from each other, embark on a journey to know the world around them and come to terms with it. Whether they manage to change it or not is the question the author leaves us to grapple with.

My only complaint - the book needs stronger women. Bhaya and Ruksar are interesting, but we definitely need a few more.

The book can be purchased here