Monday, November 29, 2010

10 things in my life that I could never have thought to be remotely possible a year ago...

1. That it’s easy to BE HAPPY.

2. That life is NOT COMPLICATED.

3. That it’s really OKAY not to blame someone/something all the time when things happen to go wrong – sometimes things just go wrong for no sense or reason.

4. It’s simply too easy to sit on that throne of judgement ,look upon and judge every single person out there – but it takes a lot more than courage to put my own conscience under the scanner..

5. More people are good than bad – it was just that I was so busy trying to figure out how bad they actually were and ended up missing their best parts :-(

6. Issues in any sort of relationship (marriage ,friendship, family, work) can be worked out without having to resort to raised voices or hurtful remarks .

7. That shopping can be greater fun if it were shopping for someone else other than myself ;-)

8. Its fun laughing at myself sometimes :-) Laughing out aloud when someone pulls my leg (in a healthy way, of course! Not out of malicious intent) feels much better than scowling hard and handing out nastier retorts!

9. That it’s not the gift that matters but the gesture & thoughts behind it.

10. It’s not the count of friends on my FB account that’s important – Its knowing who amongst them would surely stand by me during troubled times that’s important.

11. That, being a homemaker is NOT BORING!(I know I exceeded the count here,but couldn’t help myself from adding this :-p)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mr Murphy Vs Dr Peale...

What is it in some of us that makes us doubt even our most fervent beliefs? Personally, I think,A lot of us are believers (in our own ways) and cynics at the same time.I beg to be excused, if you disagree with me, but in my defence, I'd like to put forth a few points - We pray for sun on a cloudy day and yet step out with umbrellas...We give our best at a job interview and come back hoping for the best,but secretly we're already considering taking up the next best offer that comes our way, if we fail to make it past the interview.At work, we give our heart and soul to getting the project at hand completed well before deadline,and yet we're also thinking of plausible explanations to give Mr Boss if we don't make it to the deadline..Isn't it strange that, despite things going on well,its hard not to think of stuff going all wrong?Even before the going gets tough,some of us are already making plans to bail ourselves out?!

Well,If you're a person unperturbed by such conflicts, CONGRATS, you sure are one hell of a believer and I beg you to leave me your contact details(And I'll be in touch!!).It could be that you're a true believer, confident in whatever you do or it could also be that you're so sure of yourself,brimming over with overconfidence that you simply fail to plan for any contingencies and get smote when things go awry..(there,the cynic in me speaks again!).Personally,I'm a great ''backup plan specialist''- You'll find multiple backup archives of even my least important files on the computer.I double bag even tissue paper rolls fearing that the first bag might just rip!Oddly enough, its easier for me to imagine a worst case scenario than the best possible one..(I don't know if its just me,folks!)I sure am a great believer,but I do admit,I have this big battlefield in my mind where there is a perpetual war waging between my steadfast soldiers of belief and the mighty orcs of doubts!!!

But I guess its the 'never-say-die' attitude of my Lilliputian soldiers that makes them put up a stiff fight and yet hold fort against the dark orcs of doubt and mistrust.And come to think of it,If the fort were to fall,it would mean the end of all hope - And the thought of a life without hope seems utterly unlivable even in my darkest dreams...Though it would be lovely to wake up to great mornings and think of nothing but positive thoughts all through the day,I've got to admit,Mr Murphy's Laws somehow takes over Dr Norman Peale's positive vibes!And its not that I haven't tried,but the battle still continues - But watch out this space, cuz I've not given up as yet on my little soldiers ;-)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

To believe or not to believe....

How often have you rolled your eyes at the sight of a friend getting all worked up after an unfortunate black cat crosses her path or roared with laughter while at work when someone remarked ''I knew it would be a bad day - there was this jet black crow staring straight into my eyes this morning just as I stepped out..'',well I could personally recall countless incidents at home and at work when I've even made caustic remarks on all this mumbo jumbo of illogical beliefs and superstitions.

I would think - why do people believe in superstitions, myths and legends still? After what globalization has done to the world, making NY and London look like global villages.And our own India, being touted as becoming the world's third most powerful country by the year 2013- Isnt that just great?!Touch wood,Hope we get there real fast!!! Oops, did I just say 'TOUCH WOOD'??? What was that about?!Thats when I realised that I was not as immune to superstitions as I thought I was..And that was why I was forced to have a little 'think' about a lot of these unfounded beliefs that millions of us still have...Of course they were all inherited - from grandmothers and greatgrandmothers. But, how is it that it manages to outsmart even the most suave modernists amongst us and pops out of the blue and hits us when we least expect it? How does it manage to work like a reflex in many of us - The furtive touching of the other earring when someone accidentally touches one or perhaps the anxiety that a tiny house lizard that fell on your shoulder can create - and let me not get into the universally detested number 13!Im sure these beliefs have nothing to do with religion . Could it be because we find it hard to accept so much randomness in life that we ended up creating our own irrational rules for certain things that happen, thereby taking relief from it? We are well aware of scientific explanations to every phenomenon around us and yet a lot of us choose to hold onto what grandmothers' tales taught us..

Scientists in a recent study have established that superstitions have helped us evolve and survive - centuries ago,(hypothetically speaking, of course) pre historic man could have interpreted the cry of some animal as a sign that some dangerous animal was lurking nearby and would have headed for safety - but the animal's cry could have been for any other reason too. Yet the fact that the prehistoric man moved into safety would have worked out well for him if there really had been a leopard in the grass! He would have been alive for a few more decades to retell his dangerous encounter to his children and grandchildren!!

So this false linking of cause to effect could also have been beneficial at times.That would explain why even today we are pleased at the thought of forseeing things that could happen and averting them or changing the course of things in our favour.In this light, I think it would be right to believe that as long as we know where we stand between ignorant and being superstitious and more importantly,as long as the tradeoff between believing and not believing in something works out positively for the believer, it really doesnt matter if the sight of the old balck cat freaks you out!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

My first shot @ Travel writing.....Dover,England.

''The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!''
- Mathew Arnold.

The melancholia symbolising Mathew Arnold's 'Dover beach' was never apparent to me as I sighted the delightfully picturesque seaside town of Dover with its towering white cliffs. The port of Dover was of strategic importance to England in the 18th century as it directly overlooked mainland Europe.It still looked busy and bustling with activity today as I walked along the promenade. As I headed out on a steep, narrow climb to the gateway to the white cliffs, I couldnt but admire the lovely view of the deep blue sea, though, the steady hum of vessels and machinery at the port, almost drowned the roar of the sea.

And finally , I could see the chalk white cliffs looming ahead and quickened my pace. Milky white cliffs,scattered over with lush greenery - segulls,by the
hundreds, calling out, swooping, flying and circling the cliff tops..It was nature - unrivalled and almost untouched.Behind the cliff face are miles of hidden tunnels that were created during the Middle Ages and later played a role in the defence of Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. The tunnels were later enlarged to become the Secret Wartime Tunnels beneath Dover Castle. It is said that the walk along the white cliffs of Dover are one of the best coastal walks of England, and now I knew why.. Lying ahead were miles of lovely greenery with narrow, well worn,white paths..For a walk in the rugged cliffs,the ups and downs were'nt all that steep, making it a very pleasant walk altogether, without much huffing-puffing!

All along the walk, I'd hardly have counted a dozen people, which made it all the more tranquil.. After every stretch of climb, the land gently fell away,and every living soul that moved in the valley below for miles and miles could be seen ..I couldnt but help think that this would surely count for the worst ever hinding place in all of England!!! As I walked further along the ridge for a few more miles, I almost came to the very end where the last white cliff ended. Right below was a 180 feet fall.. There was this tiny cove at the foot of the cliff, completely inaccessible , but with a lovely, cosy little beach.. It looked wonderful, almost reminded me of Robinson crusoe's lonely island... I really wouldnt have minded being a castaway in such a place of beauty!

I just sat there at the ridge , gazing over at the vast sea stretching to the french coastline far far ahead and wondered if there was someone out there watching me too.. Rudyard Kipling's poem "The Broken Men" , came to my mind, which ends with the lines "How stands the old Lord Warden? Are Dover's cliffs still white?" referring to the homesickness of the English exiles'.. And I replied to myself ''Yes, white still they are and shall forever remain the towers of reassuring strength of humanity...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Jogger , Inspired!!!

After a long bout of cold wintry months, summer was here and the days were getting warmer and cheerful in London.

I was still weighing a miserable 75 kilograms and was classified as being overweight and pro diabetic.. It amused the doctor to know that I was a lifetime member of a fitness centre and worked out regularly - It sure did nothing to my weight that proportionately went up with my age.

That was when my husband suggested I consider walking outdoors as an alternative to my workouts - I eyed him doubtfully - He was the only person unperturbed by my weight issues so far and had let me amuse myself with my ridiculous diets and workout overkills... A suggestion from him could mean either thatI definitely had crossed the threshold of my permissible weight levels in his analytical mind or that he seriously wanted to strike out my gym membership expense off his monthly bank statement( which anyways was doing no good!). So I decided on a fine sunday to test his theory by taking a jog in the nice little park grounds near our place.

Let me share something with you here. I never took a fancy for running around outdoors in parks as I lacked the confidence to just jog alongside athletic young men with their six packs and women with their fancy adidas running gear (in pink!!!). It bothered me to think that they would silently laugh at my unsightly bulge around the waist and my huffs and pants. Yeah people, It made me self concsious.But I'd often dreamed about joining the outdoor runners when one day I would have lost a few stones and looked as lean and mean as them...As for now, my fitness centre had a secluded section for women who wished to workout in complete privacy - It was frequented by women like me , who were too self conscious to have a workout amidst the fitter ones..

It was a pleasant sunday morning and as I walked in through the park gates I was glad to see that there werent as many runners as I had imagined there would be.There were just a few amateur walkers and joggers around. Thank God for late saturday nights and sunday hangovers!! With silent relief, I started my warmup stretches on the lush green grounds. There was a nice breeeze about and it felt good against my face. A few minutes of strtching and I was on my way - slow jogging with quick little steps, the ipod playing A.R. Rehman's latest numbers...Not bad, I thought - I could do this again.

Gradually , as I jogged ahead into my second round, I started exchanging smiles with my fellow joggers/walkers - A couple of elderly ladies, all wrapped up (yes, it was summer.) chatting away as they slow jogged (read 'walked') , A middle aged couple with their two dogs at a brisk jog and a few lone walkers like me.. And in the grounds, people started wandering in.. A few old men, A local cricket team for their practise match and quite a few people walking their dogs.... Soon,the ground was all lively with cheers erupting every now and then from the cricket team guys and excited dogs barking all over the place in their frenzy of having found open spaces to run around and tree stumps and lamp posts to relieve themselves at will!

Mr.Rehman's music somehow sounded better still here in the open amidst the tall tall trees and the lush green grass... Perhaps it was because music and nature together somehow drew you to them till you somehow feel you are in harmony with them.. You're sweating , panting , but yeah, its alright, and you feel at peace.. I passed the elderly lady who had brought her little grandson and his dog out to play. The exuberant look on her face as she saw her grandson gleefully kick around a ball with the furry dog yapping around at his heels,fetching him the ball whenever he kicked it hard and far.. A smile broke out involuntarily on my face as the old lady pitched in with a weak kick of her own,when the ball came her way.

And as I passed the team playing cricket ,carefully keeping my distance to dodge any stray balls headed in my direction, I saw the player at the boundary being ticked off for paying more attention to the pretty girl having her morning run than on the ball - he apparently misfielded every time the girl drew near the boundary! I slackened my pace to hear more of the argument, but the other players came over to cool things off and the team took a breather, much to the disappointment of the elderly man, the uninvited lone spectator of the match. He sat on a bench across, his book by his side , untouched.. Im sure he'd have followed every ball in the match with all his attention - Now I could see a little frown on his face as the team relaxed under an old oak tree.. He probably was silently urging them to go on with the game..

An interesting couple were coming across at me - The man was pushing a pram with a sleeping child and his slightly plump wife jogged alongside , swinging her arms wide and taking deep breaths. She could have been trying lose some weight post delivery and her husband probably would've tagged along. Anyways it was funny seeing the guy with the pram trying to keep pace with his wife.. The cricket match by then had resumed and I couldnt help glancing at the old man who now had a wistful expression on his face and was staring hard at the bowler. What was he thinking of, I wondered - his own days of playing cricket, perhaps or the bowler who perhaps reminded him of his own son or grandson ? I suddenly stopped and sat down on the other end of the bench. He was slightly startled and looked across at me - I gave him my biggest smile and an out of breath 'Hello'. He gave me a wider smile and a cheerier Hello. Then he was back concentrating on the game.. I sat there for a few moments, gazing at the match along with him - as if we were friends of old, cracking jokes and watching a game.. I slowly got up and walked away, the old man didnt notice, he was still focused on the game..

My phone rang just then - It was my husband asking me if I was yet again on one of my 'workout overkills' as I'd been away jogging for an hour and a half...''I'll be back in ten'', I said and headed towards the ground's exit... And as I walked back, I felt ravenously hungry - a nice healthy appetite - to write...And write, I would. Those glimpses of mundane life I saw on my morning run, somehow made words and ideas erupt out of nowhere.. I would come back , I decided , every day if I could, for I could get enough inspiring ideas from these everyday sights to write a dozen novels, at the least....

There couldnt be another better way to lose weight!

Friday, July 3, 2009

It may not be the most impressive of topics to begin with for an amateurish writer as me!
But then, I'd be happy with the knowledge that I started off the first of my literary endeavour with an uncomplicated piece of thought about my country - India.... Cliched though the topic may sound. It really makes me wonder at the way I've taken the fact for granted that, my country is mine by birthright and that It really isnt necessary for me to acknowledge my gratefulness in any way... It was almost that, being born into India, and living
in the bowels of the great subcontinent itself was a gesture of thankfulness from my part.... As I look back, 24 yrs from today , I really wonder if i've ever wanted to express my thankfulness to India in any way - I can vividly recollect memories of criticisms mouthed at the sad multitudes of the underprivileged in the country, the disorderly, unkempt and polluted towns and cities,unsatisfactory infrastructure and the lackadiasical administrative
bodies..... But try as hard as I might, I cant remember one single thought of my having thought about my role as a citizen - I was just a spectator, like many others - attributing my minimal contribution in improving the state of things to the philosophy that - 'Nothing ever changes here, simply because people are comfortable in the very discomfort that they live amidst'.., forgetting the fact that in thinking so, I sadly fell into the same category.
Ironic, isnt it? And now,as I wake up day after day ,in this esterwhile capital of the colonial empire, London, I cant but help reminisce of my wonderful country and yearn to wake up again to the unnaturally warm,sultry mornings of my hometown Chennai,in the beautiful state of Tamilnadu and experience the microcosm of what I could call the Indian way of life.

It is not a secret anymore - our ancient past, much older than the civilizations of Egypt and Babylon, that had bequeathed its descendents riches in plentiful, of which we proudly carry forth even now , the non materialistic part - our culture ,to be more precise, having lost the other riches in the long course of history.Even having seen the most extreme of poverty, we've steadfastedly hung onto our riches from the past and beliefs in indealism.I'm
sure, few countries would have attracted as many conquerors as India had in the annals of time, that it makes you almost wonder whether it was her riches alone that brought forth battalions from far and wide, or some magical charm that she was capable of exuding, which enamored these mighty heroes to come hitherto...I wouldnt want to delve into all this history as much of it is well known by now, but , my point here is to simply make a confession, one that
might cause me acute embarrassment, in revealing that I owe the knowledge of my country's astounding past, not to my textbooks of Indian history ,or to the tales told by grandmothers, but to a couple of episodes of an amazing documentary on India, on BBC , by Michael Woods.Wait, there's more - And that it took me 24 long years to actually realise and make a little sense out of what my country's intriguing past meant and how little impact it had on me..
Believe me, I'm not here trying to call in for an excuse to point fingers at the Indian education system or blame them for my ignorance, but it still doesnt make sense as to why I do not see in a country like ours, with so great a history , actually do anything about making the current and future generations stop, ponder and wonder at the magnificent times that India has seen in her history , going back 7000 years in time.I never, for instance, have met any person in India say, with a passion to travel across from the east to west from the north to south, unravelling
history and reveling in it.. But I can list out atleast a dozen acquaintences whose life's dream was to travel around the entire of Europe,Australia and where not. It could be that Indians do not try and reinforce the importance of our history in a better way on the newer,younger
generation who are starved for want of a proper insight into our past.. Very few infact are even aware of the fact that India , is the world's most ancient surviving civilization, with a distinct unbroken continuity stretching back into pre history.

History , I feel , shouldnt just be an isolated part of our curriculum, it needs to be made less fearsome and more lively to young minds inorder to ensure that the vast sea of information, with its numerous names,dates and years doesnt intimidate them,but rather , flow across and sink in with a kind of impact that would make them understand it better, if not, crave for more!! Disjointed chronology of happenings in history, mere chapterisations and undue emphasis on certain periods alone, would make the entire history learning process a monotonous drudgery for our young and dynamic minds. Instead, a subtle stress on the fact that every momentuous
event of Indian history, from the most ancient Indus valley civilization , stretching across to the Aryan age to Medieval India and the great Mughuls to the long and ardrous freedom struggle and liberation, needs to be progressively taken one after the other , each era culminating in the start of another, that the transition doesnt appear random,broken or out of place.

Now that was just an idea of sorts that just came to mind when I pondered over just how many people still get turned off at the very mention of History - the root cause often seems to be a strong hatred for the subject imbibed deep inside, ever since their good old schooldays.It did Come as a huge surprise to me that a subject so diverse, so vast that it literally cannot have boundaries defined,and comes along with an opportunity to delve into the past of our
great ancestors and find out the deepest of our society's roots , could so universally be detested.No other study would let you understand and be comfortable with your own rich culture...Think about it.