Monday, February 29, 2016

Sunsets

There's something very humbling and peaceful about watching the sun set. You know that this is probably the one reason life on earth exists. The sun chose to warm us and our food with its presence. Yet, when it's time comes, it sets gently without much ado.
You know it will rise again. Can we someday hope to mimic the sun? Relentless in its cycle and full of hope and energy.

Riding the waves

The waves seem calm from the outside. They're soothing to look at and you think it would be an easy ride to the shore. Then the first bump happens. It's like you're sitting on an uncomfortable bench and it drops from one step to another. The steps are not of uniform elevation though. This keeps happening again and again.
To top it, you're hit by salt water droplets of varying intensity.
This, to me is how life typically is. It seems super simple at the outset and as things so, something out the other happens and you're on a ride you have no idea how to control.
What's interesting is how you react to it. You could cover your face and keep quiet, you can screen at the man handling the boat to be careful, you can hang on for your dear life and protect your luggage or you can just enjoy the ride as you have things in a water proof bag and a little water won't spoil it.
You don't need someone with you to ride the waves. The experience is overwhelming and you might not have the inclination to chat and enjoy the view. Still, holding the hand of someone sitting right behind you reassures you.
I have to admit. I want someone with me to ride the waves and enjoy it as much as I do. Life is all about the ride. Nothing more, nothing less.

Walk in the clouds

Imagine a very very tall tree. Now imagine a rope bridge hung on top of it. Then connected to another tree and another and so on for a quarter kilometer. Now throw in a nice beautiful mist.
Then add two people to the scene who are waiting to walking around in the bridge in the skies. That, was us. In the canopy walkway. :) I'm becoming more adventurous as I grow older. Perhaps zindagi Na milegi dobara did influence me.
P.S I was to scared to take pictures in the canopy walkway in Borneo. Hence pictures are from the place before the walkway.

Rafflesia

This is supposedly the largest flower in the world. It takes 9-14 months to bloom and lasts just for 4-6 days when it does. Only one in ten buds get to bloom. The rest are destroyed by natural elements.
We managed to see one in bloom on the fourth day. We felt lucky and blessed.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

From swimming to snorkeling

Three years ago, I started learning how to swim. Float is the more appropriate word here. I overcame my fear of water with my other half and we spent a lot of time in the pool. Last year, thanks to some issues in the pool and some unsavory elements hanging around it, we did not swim as much.
Today, we went snorkeling. I can only marvel at how far we've come together over the years. The experience was out of the world. We saw so many interesting fishes and corals and had no intention of leaving the water.
I guess life is all about evolving together. We've been doing that for almost five years now and I really hope we do that all our lives. To the love of my life - let's evolve together and enjoy every single memory we create.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sand bubbler crabs

Everywhere in the beach(in Borneo), we saw these intricate mud bubbles. It looked too scattered to be the work of shoes and we thought some tiny insect was at work. We couldn't see any in the morning and forgot about them. As we came to watch the sun set, we saw the patterns again and they distracted us from our selfies for good. A little googling revealed that these are actually created by sand bubbler crabs who burrow the mud looking for microscopic food particles.

So many of us were walking around and they continued undisturbed in their quest. Perhaps their wise old men equivalent have told them to ignore the big blundering idiots who keep walking around stepping on their work all the time. How do the crabs feel when careless feet destroy their work? Or do they not care at all? They've already found the food they wanted and this was just a means to them to get to it.. Could they have forgotten about it?

I keep working and I get paid for it. Technically the reason I work is to put money in the bank. If someone unwittingly destroyed my work, without even being aware it was something done with a lot of effort how would I feel?

Am I becoming too philosophical over things created by creatures that might not be thinking so much? Or is this a lesson to tell me that I should also stop thinking and like said in the gita do my duty and not focus on the result? I know not.

P S the picture is of the work partly destroyed by big feet.

Blessed by fireflies

We went on a river cruise in the night to spot fireflies. Imagine a really serene river, a sky so full of stars, that you wonder where they are when you look for them normally, a bunch of strangers coasting along, everyone intent on seeing spots of light.

The boat man, had a leaf hiding a torch and made wing like motions with it. Suddenly they appeared. Yellow colored tiny stars springing out of the river. It was awesome.
I was trying to follow one when one landed on me. A couple more followed their mate and right there, in the middle of the boat, I was blessed by fireflies. There was a very calm feeling that instant and I think they wanted me to feel it.

Did some ancestor of mine discover fire inspired by these unassuming works of art? I know not. I can only wonder. I know that I'm going to carry a part of that river with me wherever I go.

The elusive proboscis

Today we spent our afternoon looking for the elusive proboscis monkey in Malaysia. We were in a boat with a dozen others and all us waited with bated breath.

We finally got a glimpse after what seemed like ages but was hardly ten minutes. We saw another as a bonus just before our boat turned. I was so awestruck that we didn't even try taking a picture. (Also was difficult to capture them.)

Maybe the monkey was trying to remind me that life will go on even if I don't keep recording it. The experience was beautiful and memorable. Like the first dolphin I saw last year.

It was a very beautiful ten minutes as I noticed so many things that I usually lose in my attempt to capture the moment in my phone.

Beauty

They say that beauty is in the beholders eyes. To me, the waves are a thing of tremendous joy. I can't express the calm and peace I feel when I stare into the waves. They remind me that the same things happen again and again in varying frequency. The waves don't stop. They might pause. Just like our experiences in life.
I'm vacationing with this beautiful view from my room and thanking God for ask that he's blessed me with.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Being a vegetarian

I've been one all my life. Earlier I didn't know any better and later the first time I tasted boiled egg, I saw a chicken run around my room accusing me of killing it that I never revisited that habit.

Today, I'm in a country where the restaurant serving local cuisine didn't have a single vegetarian dish and I ended up eating yogurt (which isn't good for me) in Star bucks.

How am I going to survive in a remote region? I can only wonder.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Metamorphosis

While the music soothes
and the air calms
My heart skips a beat - watching you smile

How is it that silences are so meaningful?
How is it that conversations are so effortless?
When did you transform into a part of me?
When did I forget who I ought to be?

You made me smile when the days were dull
You touched my soul with the right words
How will I let you go?
How can I hold on?

I know not.
I can only wonder..

Monday, February 22, 2016

Homage

To Kill a Mockingbird was one of those books I read in college that affected me in more ways than one.

It made me realize how rampant injustice is even in the smallest of things and at that point, it served as a wake up call to me and made me move on. 

I came across this quote in FB and I had to share it in my blog, to pay homage to someone who was there for me with her words when I needed some kind of solace.

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what"

Even today, this quote makes me wake up and look closer at everything around me and reminds me to just keep moving.

Watching the world

On Sunday, I found this one watching us as we drove past. The dog and Buffalo friendship seemed too cute to ignore. Animals can coexist peacefully in ways we never can.

TV less

Given all the excitement in my life, the one thing I was completely disconnected in the last month from - television. Today, I got to spend sometime in front of it and the sheer mindlessness of it all was very relaxing. I started wondering why I did not get a chance to do this before and 30 minutes passed me by before I broke off the spell.

It is nice to be spell bound and mindless for sometime. It is quite relaxing to say the least.

Living healthy

As a part of the resolution to lead a healthy life, we have joined a community farming initiative. We can rent a small piece of land (around 600sqft) from a farmer and he will help us grow our vegetables organically. We can plant one vegetable or a combination of veggies in neatly divided blocks and watch them grow and also contribute to their growth.

On Sunday, we had our first meeting and I was impressed, overwhelmed and inspired by the people I met. They were all from the IT world and really interested in growing their own food. Some were new to the idea, some had been doing things for sometime and the others were veterans. But every single person there seemed committed to making things better for the world around them. 

Looking forward to learning and to someday being able to teach. :)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Fitness mania

Last year, a very young neighbor of mine passed away all of a sudden. His death had a great impact on me and I started eating better, focusing on my fitness etc.

This time when I went to the US, I got myself a fitness tracker. I thought it would make me more conscious and aware. It did for the first few days. Then I realised that due to a bug, when I was in the car, it was incrementing my steps thanks to the jerks my car goes through in the pathetic Bangalore roads. I got so upset that I stopped using the damn thing.

Then, coincidentally, with all the stress, I started eating comfort food (read greasy and fatty) and now I'm wondering how to get back to being health conscious. That amazing dry fruit lassi I had this afternoon makes me want to reconsider...

I don't want the whole fitness thing to have just been a craze.I really dont want to fall off the wagon again. Please dear Lord, give me strength.

Reactions

I kept cursing my bad luck. I kept seeing all the dark things that loomed around me. I was depressed, suspicious and plain pissed off with the world and everything about it.

After ten days of crazy, my granny passed away. This is the final straw was what my confused brain told me. But seeing her lying peacefully in the icebox, I was in a state of wonder. It reminded me again of the fact that life is so transient. It can begin and end any day. It owns us and owes us nothing.

I can't control anything that happens to me for as much as I delude myself with a sense of grandeur and invincibility, when the time comes, nothing can stop that.

Only thing in my control is my reaction, is my ability to forge relationships that matter, my hope to do things that matter in any small way I can.

Once I started thinking that way, I started seeing the positive in every single thing. Being able to distance myself from all the negativity and crazy, helped me so much. Maybe this is my grandparents' final gift to me. The hope and the conviction that everything is for good. One way or the other.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The final goodbye

My grandmother passed away on Saturday, 13th February. She was 86.

She was married when she was 13 and spent almost 70 years of her life with her husband, before he passed in 2011. She loved animals and was the most soft spoken person I knew. Simple and beautiful, with hardly a handful of grey hair, she never sweated the small stuff. She was very careful with things and used to recycle anything and everything possible. The exam papers my grandfather corrected would come covered in a cloth bag that she would recycle and make foot mats out of. The flowers we got would come with a string that she would re-use to tie stuff up. 

My childhood memories involve her in a thousand different ways  cooking for me when i fought with my mom, plaiting my sister's hair, watching the snake catcher cart away some 50 snakes from an empty plot nearby - it was a mixed bag.

When I wanted to get married to my husband, she never lost her cool and trusted my judgement. When we got Laika and Zoya to Madurai, she called them into the house and offered them biscuits and even sat with them when we went on a trip.

She had collapsed on 7th feb and woke up from a coma when my sister and I entered the hospital room after driving frantically from Bangalore. She called our names with difficulty, signaled to my sister's new specs and asked about our dogs. Even when she was in such deep pain, she was kind,loving and accepting.

I did know that someone in a coma - seldom wakes up and when the organs start failing, things can go only one way. Still, hope was my companion. 

Driving to Madurai, I did not really feel depressed on Saturday. We decided to drive as both my sister and I had a lot to do at work, due to taking off the previous week to go see her. We reminisced about our childhood and how someone who had never left the house or worked, was an example of female empowerment. She knew what she wanted and lived life in her own terms.We were glad that we got those few moments with her before she passed. 

We knew she was no more and that her physical body, was not going to be there with us anymore. She was in an ice box and when we kept her out to perform rituals, the clothes she was wearing moved in the wind. I thought she was alive. She looked so peaceful that I half expected her to get up and start asking about me. 

How can I ever achieve her kind of peace? How do I let things slide without letting it affect me? February has been a tumultuous month for me with a lot of things burning me simultaneously. Her passing was like the one thing that was final. Everything else seemed minor in comparison. I have bid her a final goodbye but I know that like my grandpa, she will always be with us in spirit.

She will be missed and I am not really sure if I can ever go home again. It feels like there is nothing there without her. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Peace

So, today we went to a temple after work. It is located outside Bangalore (more on the temple later)

On the way back, we stopped at a small bakery in the middle of nowhere. This gorgeous dog came and sat down behind us. He had really expressive eyes and waited patiently for us to finish eating and ate the bun we got for him with so much love. He held it with his paws and ate the corners, then finished it.

In all that traffic with people buzzing around, thinking about the next thing to do, in the hunger he had,and the exhaustion he was surrounded by, this fellow some how found peace and in including me in his meal, he gave me a small part of it too.

Point of view

Everyone is entitled to their point of view. Recent incidents have made me realize that what caused heart ache was not my perception of the incidents, but what I thought we were perceived as.

If I get down to it, worrying about the perception of others is like going down the rabbit hole, or the staircase that comes in unwritten. To some extent, we can control perceptions. But for the most part, we can't. Perceptions are dictated by opinions and experiences people have had.
Biases which exist for eons without us even being aware of it, cannot be changed or even influenced through minimal interactions. Like attracts like. Some people want to gang up with others that think similarly in a certain aspect and crush the rest that don't because they want a validation that their opinion is correct.

Everyone wants a validation for their existence and for actions they take.

I read Tolstoy's anguished commentary a while ago, where he debates the point of everything. When someone like him, at the peak of his glory can have so many questions, how much more would normal human beings have?

How can I even begin to think that it's possible to know a person or how they'd react? How can I expect people to confirm to certain behavioral norms that I think is right or acceptable based on my biases? How can I expect anything basic in a personal relationship when basic is itself relative? I'm mainly referring to acquaintances. I'm not talking about family or friends. One you can't help what you're born with and the other is your choice to live with or lose.

Most conflicts come in when you're trying to form the relationships. Some differences can be tolerated and the others, cannot. It has to break at one point of time or the other.

Maybe, it's easier to just let things be. It might not be such a bad idea to ignore and move on.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Interpretations

I have been reading my gita on and off for a few weeks now. Not because the book is boring or difficult, but because I really want to incorporate and understand whatever I am reading.

Devdutt says that everyone has an interpretation of the Gita and this book is his. I want to learn Sanskrit and actually read the verses in the original language and see how mine would be.

My current view of the world is often clouded by what I call a decision tree. Any analyst knows how one works. You have one or more outcomes, they lead to more and so on. At the end if you follow a set path, it ends in a certain way.



But the funny thing is, like with data, in life too, decision trees are not the most effective. There are no discrete outcomes. Each outcome is a combination of outcomes and also actions. 

My favorite belief - there is no right or wrong. Just different shades of grey and different possibilities and probabilities. Could potentially be my clouded interpretation too. :)

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Protect the roots

I read this story somewhere. Not sure where.

In France, there was a vineyard. Once there was a forest fire that was spreading fast. The son of the vineyard owner got buckets of water ready, but even he knew the attempts were futile. His father came out and started cutting the plants and asked his son to do the same. He explained that it was always critical to protect the roots as they will definitely help the plants grow later. This was a business example which spoke about identifying the root of each business. But for me, it was about something else.

Everyone has something that is their core. No matter how much damage they sustain, no matter how many much the flames burn and no matter how difficult it is, we have to protect our roots. Everything else can be gained back sooner or later. I'm wondering what my roots are. Family? Integrity? Hope? I don't know. Only time will tell.

Charity

A colleague of mine, donates 10% of her income each month to charity. I've never done something in that scale till now. But lately, given how I've kind of lost faith in socializing (as when it comes to a mob, it doesn't matter how well they know you. They lynch anyway)

I'm wondering if I should just associate myself with a good charity and focus on spreading positivity through any means I can. I've often thought about why I don't think twice about eating in an expensive place, but I can't even seem to think about giving to those in need. Maybe, I should just stop thinking and start doing.

Dog days

An educated professional I know called my dogs wild, aggressive and said that they're eternally in attack mode. His argument, dalmatians, pugs and other breeds look and behave like pets. Mine don't. They're a danger to children and neighbors.

Should a person like this deserve a response? What do people get out of spreading fear and panic? I've been contemplative ever since and have come to conclude that fear triumphs all emotions. When combined with bias, it's easy to victimize and target individuals.

Nothing else matters except being able to get rid of the object we fear and gang up where possible to achieve that. After all, the cave men in us are still waiting for an opportunity. Funnily, it was the same cave men who domesticated said dogs.

In the light of the day

Thick hands with long nails
Try to catch me

The land beneath my feet transforms
And becomes quick sand

The air is pure poison
And I struggle to take a single breath

A creature stirs from deep within
Threatening to engulf the person I want to be

I almost give up
But hope refuses to let me be.

The first ray of sunlight
breaches the thick stormy clouds

I recover and try to calm down

In the light of the day,

A little blue bird flies all alone
A frolicky puppy jumps around
A herd of cows give me a knowing look
Bees are busy collecting their honey

My monsters hide,
Temporarily vanquished.
Neither storm nor light permanent
Everything, including me just transient.

Monday, February 08, 2016

In the end

In the end, after all the drama, all that you can hope for is not more money or more fame. They can maybe make life easier, but when the time comes, a spoon of water from a loving hand will make all the difference.

Mob mentality

When the recent incident with the girl from Tanzania hit the news, I was shell shocked. I never believed that something like that will happen in Bangalore.

Then, I started thinking about a few things happening in my life and I realized that as much as we pretend to deny it, all of us are capable of this and more. When was the last time you believed what the rumor mills told you about someone or something? When was the last time you succumbed to someone else's irrational fear? When was the last time you accepted an opinion which you knew was wrong just because it was easy?

There - you have been mobbed.

Everyone of us has a responsibility. To be discriminatory, to be rational and to always, be empathetic, no matter what. Your humanity should be the one thing that comes first. Your greatness, your intelligence, your power - all that, is secondary. Moment you forget this, you are on the path to becoming a part of the mob.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

The acid test

We've gotten cctv cameras installed in our premises. We had a couple of people working in the set up. Throughout the four hours it took, without any prompt, my dear dog Laika was supervising them. She made sure they didn't move near the rooms or my things and just kept watching them.
I've realized she's a great judge of people and that an acid test for anyone is how she accepts them. If she actually takes them on, they should be OK. If she's wary, something is off. Let me test my theory.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The one good thing

So, we're facing a lot of harassment. What and why, is not something I feel like talking about or reacting to. Suffice to say, when it rains it pours and people are "never" what they seem to be. The one good thing about anything bad- you learn a lot of life lessons. My lessons thanks to all the shit that has hit the fan:

1. Popular opinion can always be swayed only through emotion. People don't want to be rational. They want to be seen as empathetic
2. There are always people who are jealous or upset with you for things you take for granted and they pretend to be friends because they want one of the following:
a. Figure out how you have what you have
b. Show everyone they are popular by interacting with you
c. Wait for an opportunity to discredit
3. It's OK to live life the way you want, but it's not OK to tell it loud. Then, you're seen as a rebel who has to be quashed and controlled. Especially if you're a woman, the big ***** can't stand it
4. Sometimes, as eloquent as you might be, it's better to be silent. Not because you're wrong but because anything you say can and will be twisted.
5. Always understand what makes someone tick and pray that you can find out without something going wrong as to who your friends are and who you cannot even have a passing relationship with

Good thing with all this, I lost the one kg that's been eluding me and I weigh as much as I did in school. :)