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Ash. Spiritual. Happy in my own way. Writes Random Stuff. Ice Cream. Night owl. Ice Cream, again.

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Son's Vengeance!

Murderer! He shouted.

I was caught unawares as I heard the sound of my door getting slammed. I turned around and was shocked to see who was standing in front of me. A mistake that had grown up due to my reckless nature, and a mistake that I had failed to have taken care of at the right time. There was no one else at home, the maids were off and there was no way out of the room. I was cornered. He had timed it properly and waited for the right time to pounce.

Masterstroke. 

‘I’ve not come to ask you why you killed my father. I’m here to seek vengeance’, he said, his voice loud and clear in the close room. 

I knew it was of no use trying to reason with someone who had made up their mind, rather trying to reason with someone who had lost his father because of me. Still, worried about my immediate future I tried to say something but he dismissed me.

‘Please, listen to me! I accept that I was the reason your dad is no more, but it was not my decision. I was forced to carry out the orders from up above!’

He knew that the blame game would start and people would start pin-pointing others. He was prepared for this. But his investigations and sources told him that he had found the right person and that if he spared the culprit tonight, the next day his own life would be at stake. He tried not to listen to what the culprit (I) had to say and wanted to get his work done and leave at the earliest. But then his instincts told him that making this man speak would help him get some more information on the dastardly act that was committed and the injustice that was done to his father. So, after a split-second decision, he gave the culprit a chance to speak.

‘Go on, tell me who all were involved in this!’

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Spirit of Chennai!

No one can really be prepared for an emergency. Mainly because we somehow think that in the event of a calamity (god forbid), we will be spared of impact. But does luck favour us every time?

Nope.

Last Tuesday, It started pouring. Continuously. Badly. With Vengeance. The highest ever in over a century. This went on till Friday, forcing all offices to close operations bringing the entire city to a standstill. Streets were water logged and power was out in many places; mostly as preventive measures, network was down and reaching people even through landlines became an issue. Ground floors were badly damaged in many areas, forcing people to move to higher floors and in places where that luxury wasn’t available, they were forced to wait in knee/waist/neck-deep waters till help came by.

My 78 year old Grandmother said this was the worst ever floods she has witnessed in her lifetime. The damage was too much, emotionally and financially. 

Just imagine this. You are forced to live without any dependence on technology, without much human contact, learning to use every drop of water wisely, and being forced to sit in one place because of the difficulty in venturing out. Or even worse, being forced to move to another safer, higher level accommodation under someone’s mercy, leaving behind everything that was yours till a few minutes back. Imagine how it would be when you’re desperately waiting for someone to give you a piece of bread or biscuit or anything palatable. Imagine how it would be to see everything that you saved and built over these years slowly sink in the waters, in front of your eyes.

Image Courtesy : Google (Not mine!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Home is where the heart is!

My father had planned for a vacation right after my sister completed her 12th exams. Dad wanted her to chill out after a hectic year of preps and exams and preps and exams. We were in Goa, in a wonderful villa overlooking the sea amidst a beautiful property. It was around the third day of our holiday, when we were relaxing after a para-sailing experience that we noticed my sister was slightly down. When dad asked her what was wrong, she said that she was home-sick. Mom, Dad and I were surprised and did not know how to react, considering that the very people who were at home were present at that moment. She said she liked the holiday but was beginning to miss home. 

Image Courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos
There was this friend of mine at work who never looked forward to the holidays like how other hostelers do. She had opted for an individual room and though she preferred staying away from the hostel gangs, she was someone who would keep herself occupied some way or the other. She always used to tag along with us city dwellers and despite the considerable distance involved she used to manage and ask us not to worry. She used to come with us for movies and shopping and for anything and everything. Sometimes she used to spend time by herself cooking and reading and inviting us to her place. She maintained her place very well and she took special care in decorating each and every corner. She even told me that she looked forward to spending time in her 1BHK room than her hometown because this place made her comfortable and made her look forward to going home after a hard day’s work.

Home is where the heart is. But is it your home or home away from home?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Spell of Rain, Whose Mischief Couldn’t be Managed!

I really wish I’d received my letter from Hogwarts. I know I would have had to wait for 6 to 7 years to learn to apparate, but at least I would’ve been able to fly on a broom till then. Considering the current road conditions (the small stretch of concrete or tar amidst the potholes), I’d prefer to apparate or fly rather than ride, drive or walk in/on/around Chennai roads.

When my mom warned me about the possible rains in Chennai a week back, I didn’t give that much of a thought. Riding during the first day of the rains turned out to be a very difficult affair with reduced visibility, and with the eyes constantly trying to find a way among the vehicles, pedestrians and water puddles. On top of this, care had to be taken to avoid getting drenched by the water splashes from bigger vehicles, which could have been wonderfully Instragramed through Slow-motion video in my camera. I was skeptical about riding right through the puddles since it proved difficult to guess how deep the puddles were, so I had to avoid all the short-cuts and take the main roads. Somehow I managed to reach office and vowed not to take my two wheeler to work for a few days.
Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

4 Years and Counting...!

What a journey it's been so far! :-) 

It's been 4 years since I stepped into the corporate world. I remember by first day very well. Mom and Dad dropped me at our Training Center and I stepped into the building with a bunch of documents and a truckload of dreams. And here I am, 4 years later, standing with considerable satisfaction looking back at how things have gone so far, how incredibly lucky I’ve been and looking ahead, looking forward to the rest of the journey.

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos
Over the 4 years, I’ve switched between teams and this is my 3rd team.  I’ve jumped to completely different streams, which is not quite common in a predominantly technical oriented organization. I started off as a developer in Java (hey, I am an oracle certified programmer in Java!). After a year of working in Java, as much as I got to learn I got bored because I knew I’d have to keep doing the same thing over and again and I moved to a non-technical role. I had to take up an interview and some written tests and then I was ready to become a Technical writer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Festive Spirit - Here, There and Everywhere

During the Diwali weekend, I was riding back home from work through the commercial hub of Chennai - T Nagar. As I crossed a flyover, I couldn’t stop to admire the brightly lit buildings. I could sense that festive spirit that was around. Scores of people had descended on the streets of Chennai to shop for themselves and their loved ones. The lights, the noises of the crowd and the 'Sale' signboards everywhere, did add to the festive spirit and from nowhere I had started feeling excited.

Commercialized Celebrations?

Many people cry that a lot of festivities have been commercialized. Considering that they are done to keep customers (citizens) happy, I don’t see what's wrong with that. I get to wear new clothes, make/buy sweets and savouries, watch special programs or movies and burst crackers (depending on my budget). But when you step back and take a look at the big picture, it's about sharing these moments with our loved ones that makes it all the more special. I see it as a way of expressing our love and affection for those around us.  Buying new clothes for the family and extended family, bonding while preparing special sweets or enjoying a good conversation while eating them, bursting crackers with the tiny tots and the elders; all this gives us an opportunity to spend time with our fellow beings, something which we might not be able to do on a daily basis. So on these days, when you have options to pamper your loved ones with stuff apart from your love and affection, what's wrong, I ask.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What makes you happy?

I stumbled upon an old post of mine which was written along similar lines. You can read it here. Happiness Is...

I was reading an article online and I stumbled upon this question. I assumed this question must have been for the ‘Happiness Is…’ series (of which I’m a big fan) and then I noticed that the author had asked people to list things that make them happy , without them being directly involved. I liked this train of thought. Personally, I’ve always associated happiness with things that make me feel good, or when I’m the recipient of some good deed. So it was interesting to think of situations which genuinely made me feel happy without being directly involved.

Here is what I thought of while I was riding back from work.



Happiness is … Seeing planes take off.

I’ve traveled enough by planes, yet I always get excited whenever I see a plane taking off. It’s amazing how something that was on the ground a few minutes back, just soars in the air and heads for the skies. I always relate to it fighting against all odds and moving on to pursue one’s dreams :-)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Article Published : Decision Awaited - Will they or Won't they?

An article that I had written here has been published in The Hindu Open Page :-)

The article is on how some people take ages to make a simple decision. You can find the article here.

Call me old school, but there is something amazing about seeing your name in print, especially when it gets mentioned in a reputed daily like The Hindu. No matter how many times it happens, every time I feel happier than the previous times.


Thank God and the person in charge for the open page articles, they had somehow missed mentioning my name in the web version and promptly updated it after I wrote to them.

And thank you dear bloggers for all your support and feedback, which has made me the person I am today.

Thank you! :-) 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Who is your Superhero?

I met a few friends last week and we were catching up with each other's lives.  We spoke about a few things and then the conversation veered off to superheroes. We weren't exactly arguing who was the best, it was more of an analysis (where the Batman always stood first!). And then people were voicing out their favourite heroes.  We were still talking along the lines of fiction until one friend mentioned a real-life person whom he considered as a superhero. We got talking along those lines and it was interesting to note how small gestures could make anyone a superhero. Later, when I was driving back, I was trying to remember instances where I really thanked God for sending a superhero/guiding angel in my way.
Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

I was 4, mischievous to the core and really gave a tough time to anyone who had to or volunteered to look after me. I was visiting a relative's place with my Grandma and my sister. While playing, I saw a hole along the platform. Curious to see what was in that hole I bent slightly to take a look. All I could see was a dark deep hole (dug for a bore well and unattended), I then knelt down to take a better look. Before I knew it I had slightly lost my balance. If not for a driver who happened to see me bending down and rushed to pull me back, I'm not sure how life would've been. At that time, I did not know why Grandma was shouting at me, and I thought she was cross that there was mud all over my dress. That driver, was an angel who came from nowhere and saved my life.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Diktats for Maintaining Discipline?

(This article is based on the 'Rules for Girls' for a college in Chennai that took Social Media by storm)

(This post has been featured in Blogadda's Tangy Tuesday Picks)

You form a system, single-handedly. You ensure that you are the deciding authority. All workflows end with you, irrespective of whether they are in favour or against you. You decide what the rules are and thrust it on others. You use the word ‘discipline’ and tag a hundred so-called-rules under it. Then you proudly claim that this model works for all because no one has spoken against it. But wait have you ever allowed anyone to speak against it?

This is exactly is wrong with many educational institutions in the city. I’m not going to pin point just one or two, because this phenomenon is prevalent in many institutions. When you take a list of the rules and wonder what significance some of them might have, you would get the same answer from all sides – Discipline. I remember the Dean of a very popular college, which remains the most preferred colleges to pursue studies in the city, saying that they believed in self-discipline and not in inculcating discipline after almost 2 decades after being around. At least that made sense.

I’m not advocating that ‘Discipline’ isn’t necessary. It definitely is. But in what context and to what extent is what matters. For instance, it blows my mind to think how a girl talking to a guy can be considered breach of discipline (this rule is common across many institutions). Perhaps folks from the Neanderthal age are still under the assumption that if a girl and a guy speak there can be only one reason for it, and we say we have come a long way from then. Sigh!

To make things worse, there are a few supervisors whose job profile demands that they monitor the activities of the students. Though I appreciate the intention of the institutions to provide a job for people who would have served as good body guards (I’m being very polite), it is annoying when students are not given respect and are treated like filth by people who I’m guessing were not hired based on their education. Where did the Human rights commission go now! 

At times, such rules make us forget the very intention of someone joining the institution. The managements get their priorities all wrong and in the name of promoting quality education they do all this drama. I’d really like to ask those people, if despite imposing all these so-called rules for students, how will they allow the student to concentrate on studies, when the focus is always on a god-knows-what definition of discipline? 

The school to college transition is important. But what is more important is the campus to corporate transition. That is where people get to know what it is to be out there. These institutes claim to prepare students for the future. But wait, which corporate policy says that guys and girls aren’t allowed to speak or celebrations of any kind are banned? We do have birthday celebrations at work, with team lunches and Fun Friday activities. These are not any privileges, it’s just basic courtesy and the right way to treat a fellow human being irrespective of where the person is in the hierarchy. Do those management gurus know that?

Like someone mentioned, if you want to avoid students getting distracted, instead of banning a hundred things, just ensure that you improve the quality of education. Fair enough? Or are you trying to camouflage the lack of good standards in education by imposing all this on students?

The nation needs an answer! 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Alone? Yes! Lonely? Not Really!

A few days back, the parents announced that they had to travel for a few weeks. I wasn't exactly happy or sad, but staying alone was something I enjoyed. Of course I was going to miss my mom because she is always around when I’m home, but I was ok with that. I managed being by myself on and off for a few months in the past two years, all thanks to my nephew, so I knew I could pull it off.

So, I woke up on Saturday morning and savored by cup of coffee with the newspaper. I spent almost an hour reading and relaxing because my instincts told me that I wouldn’t get this time back, at least for a couple of hours. And then the routine started. I had to prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner,  clean up the house, go to the temple, do some grocery shopping for the week and take care of laundry among the many other chores. After all this I had time to actually relax just before calling it a day.

 Why bother to remember when you can put
 them down in these cute Sticky Notes. 
Amidst all this, I received a call from a friend. He invited me home for lunch as he thought I must be missing my parents and sitting thoroughly bored at home. I was happy he was calling on to check, but I told him I anyway had to go out in the evening and had so many things to be taken care of before that so I would come home another day. But I was getting reminded of what he said about me (sitting idle) getting bored and sitting all alone.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Battles That We Fight!

A few days back, I overheard a group of girls talking about one particular girl. The news was that the girl being spoken about hated flowers. She hated the smell and sight of flowers. Initially they thought it was one of those things which people normally do to get attention, but then they realized it made her very uncomfortable. Curious to know why she was affected by something as wonderful as flowers known for its visual appeal and aroma, one of the girls approached her and asked her the reason. This is what she had said, 

‘I remember the day our house was full of flowers, that was the last day my Mother was home.’ 

Ram hated bright open spaces. He always preferred to occupy a dark corner wherever he went, if at all he went. He ensured his room was always dark, with just enough light for him to wander around without tripping over anything. Over time, he became a recluse and almost cut-off communication with others. He liked spending time by himself, staring from the balcony of his dark room. 

He looked at his wheelchair and the prosthetic legs and wondered how different life would have been had he not met with an accident. If only the light from the Lorry had not blinded him that fateful night. 

All of us have our own battles to fight almost every single day. Of course, we are all human beings and its only natural that our lives are full of ups and down. Yet sometimes we forget that others around us, have their own battles to fight and we end up with assumptions and biased opinions even without knowing the big picture. We resort to generalizations under the assumption that what is good for one, would probably be good for all.

Monday, August 31, 2015

When Dreams Come True!

For some time now, a few things have constantly been on my mind. You can call them dreams, goals or whatever term you use to describe something that you work/pray for. Being someone who focuses on getting things done and striking them off the bucket list/ToDo list, it is annoying when you are left to wait and pray for things to happen, when they aren’t in your control (No, I wasn’t praying for a miracle).

When you have to work towards something, you know what you’re up against. You know what you should do and how long things will take. But when things aren’t in your control, and the wait seems almost endless, it can be slightly difficult to manage. Look around and those with similar goals get it done easily, but when it comes to you Murphy seems to take special interest ;-)

Image Courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos
Ok, fast-forward to the current day. A few dreams of mine did come true. Those that I worked for and those that I had no control over.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review : Three One Act Plays, The Hindu Theatre Fest 2015

The Hindu Theatre fest was back this year and what a lovely set of plays they had featured. I wanted to ensure that I went for at least one of the plays. I wanted to go for Hamlet first, but that was scheduled to be played on a weekday and I wasn't so sure about it. So I opted for Three One Act Plays - Timothy (Evam), The Grand Rehearsal (Theatre Zero) and Radiopotti (Stray Factory).

All 3 plays were wonderful. We were told that we could send our reviews of the plays. Promptly I sent mine. Not only did it get published in the following week's Metro Plus Edition under Citizen Reviews, it also won a meal for two at The Park :-) I was all hyper on Tuesday morning when I saw my name in the paper. Of course, who wouldn't be?

(Here is the link and the pic. I've posted the review here, as the contents might not be readable in the pic.)

You can read it here - Take 3 : Three One Act Plays



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Quotes Challenge #3 : Staying Wary of the Comfort Zone!

Through one of my friends at work, I got to know about a particular team. I was told that the nature of work was quite interesting and was not as hectic when compared to the other teams. The timings were set and there was hardly a need to stretch beyond the schedule or work on weekends for that matter. 

I thought this was such an ideal team to work in. You tell people in IT that they don’t have to work for long hours or work on weekends and I’m sure you’d see them all charged up and happy like a child with a candy. One possible disadvantage was that, there was considerable process work (popularly known as excel sheet work) apart from the actual work. Why I am calling it a disadvantage is because 1. It is boring and 2. Once you start with one set of process work, you get absorbed into more and more of it. Finally 2 years later if you tell people you were working on excel sheets (at a relatively lower position in the corporate hierarchy) you aren’t considered a good resource. 

Image Courtesy : Google

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Quotes Challenges #2 : Never Dim your Sunshine!

People. We are a strange bunch I tell you!

There are so many kinds of them. For this post, I am going to consider two categories: those who are secure of themselves and those who are insecure. The secure ones are happy. They know what they want from life and are not easily influenced by others. The insecure ones are a nightmare to be around. They might be extremely talented, but they get insecure when they meet someone who might be just 10% of what they are. They always feel threatened and need a constant source of approval from others. They aren’t confident about themselves.

Let me give you a very common scenario. There is a Manager, a Lead and a Team member. Let's say that the lead is very talented and has a sense of insecurity. The team member happens to be good at something and gets an appreciation from the manager or someone even senior. What happens now? The lead gets annoyed and threatened. The leads starts imagining situations in which the lead will no longer be required. To vent the frustration, the lead brands the team member as someone with an ‘Attitude Problem’.

What could have ended with a simple compliment, is unnecessarily blown out of proportion and someone is targeted personally for something in the professional environment.

This wonderful cake was given to me on my last day in a team. This was organized by my mentor, all the way from Delhi who got in touch with a few people in Chennai to get this done. This is the same person who sent the quote referred to in post. Am I not lucky to be blessed with such a wonderful mentor?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Potpourri of My Life!

I'm writing this because someone asked me how I was feeling and I realized I was feeling all this at the same time. Trust human beings to complicate the most simplest of simple questions. 


I'm happy!
I'm getting to do something that I've always wanted and it all happened by luck. Speak about being at the right place at the right time. 

I'm (slightly) worried!
I've been trying to do something for a while, despite my best efforts and despite taking help from an expert I'm not able to make much progress. Giving up seems easier and the thought has occurred to me many times, but somehow I'm pushing myself to keep going. I celebrate even the smallest achievements but I'm not sure when I'll give it up. So tough to stay motivated when you don't see results. I'm slightly worried!

I'm proud!
Yes, I'm proud of myself (not haughty). I completed my 4th 10k run at the Dream Runners Half Marathon 2015. Not the best run, but enjoyed running it. I think I'll run again just for the medal. Aren't they getting fancier day by day! :-)

I'm nostalgic!
I've been doing something for 2 years. At a high-level it's the same routine, but at a low-level the work involved was interesting and not monotonous. Moreover it took me to the most amazing work location one could've asked for. And now things are changing. I'll miss the people and the comforts of the workplace. I felt so comfortable, the open spaces made me feel at peace. Didn't they rightly say that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Sigh!

I’m excited
After years of travelling to school, college and office by vans and buses, I finally finally finally get to ride to work. Earlier I used to spend almost 4 hours in travel, and now it’ll be reduced to about 1.5 hours. As Ross said, ‘I’ve been given the gift of time’. I feel like I have more time now. I’m beginning to like this already.

I wanted to include a few more things, but they weren't as overpowering as these. 

Anyway, how are you feeling?


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Quotes Challenge #1 - The Problem with Being Strong!

I like quotes. There is something about those words, which have been spoken from experiences. When you can relate to the quote, it feels amazing that years back someone had similar experiences about it. So, when I saw posts on the Quotes challenge, I naturally decided to take it up.

One of my favorite quotes, that I’ve come across till date,

Image Coutesy : Google
I don’t know how exactly it happened, I’m a strong independent person (to an extent). People whom I’ve known have told me this very many times and even asked me how I became the person I am today. As much as I like to talk, I’m very bad at answering things that happen without my conscious effort. I tell them it’s probably got to do with the genes, the upbringing, the environment, exposure and all that. I’ve never really given it too much of a though myself, to be honest.

Sometimes I’ve wondered if I was being a hypocrite and putting up a bold front to justify my persona.  Only then I realize that it’s an option that I chose and inadvertently it became a habit. I have very clearly defined lives – My life, Life with Family, Life at Work, Life with Friends and so on. So if there was a problem with any one, I had my way of taking care of things with the help of people from my other lives.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

What is your dream career?

"Twenty years from now you would be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do, than by the ones that you did do"

Mark Twain's words have had a great impact on me. I happened to read this a few years back and the words remain intact in my mind.

The other day I told my Mom I wanted to learn to play the keyboard. She gave a sarcastic look and continued with her work. In her defence, her reaction is justified as I'd told her I wanted to learn music the previous week, and the week before that I said I wanted to learn to make terracotta jewellery and the week before that... You get the drift!

My name in Sanskrit means a horse and I was born in the Chinese year of horse. So there is a considerable influence of horse in my life. Just like a horse, I get distracted easily. If something doesn't hold my attention for long I don't think twice before giving it up. I'd rather try something new and fail in that attempt rather than doing something which doesn't challenge/stimulate me. So that’s how I took up activities like painting, dancing, yoga, Zumba, marathon, swimming, baking, driving and a few other activities. I have given up a lot after getting bored.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Of the days gone by!

It felt weird staring at the mirror. The person who stared back seemed a lot different from the person whom I originally knew. Though there wasn't any obvious difference, I could see certain changes. This person was slightly exhausted, but the fire was still burning in her eyes, if not brighter. This person was different from what she was a few years back. And how quickly she has changed. Has it been 3 years already?

Image Courtesy: Google
And that's how it struck me how fast things were moving. June 30th 2015. Half of 2015 is done and I was just getting started with my resolutions. I want to shout 'Wait' like how a small kid does when others start the game, before the kid is ready. I know it's a lost cause because time isn't going to wait. I remember 2013. That was a very happening year. Just when I kept convincing myself that 2013 was over and that I had to embrace 2014, that year was over too. And now we’re halfway through 2015. Sigh!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Will they or Won’t they?

(A version of this article has been published in the Hindu Open Page. You can find the article here)

I take pride in the fact that I can take decisions fairly quickly. Yes, I give it some thought and arrive at a conclusion just like most of you, only a lot quicker. A close friend of mine, on the other hand takes all the time in the world to decide (irrespective of whether it’s something trivial or important). I'm sure there are many who belong to that category. I'm usually not bothered by this as long as I'm not involved in the decision or if the decision doesn't impact me. But, if it involves me in some way, I can tolerate up to a certain threshold. Beyond that I get cranky. Allow me to give you a clearer picture. 

What do I eat today?

Every afternoon when my stomach signals that it's time to hog, I immediately lock my system and head to the cafeteria. I look at the menu board and wait in a queue to pay the bill (See, even when I'm hungry I follow rules). As luck would have it, the person before me in the queue would always have to take the most difficult decision ever. North Indian meals - Regular or Special. What's amazing is how these people take the liberty to contemplate the pros and cons of this decision during their turn to pay the bill. Interesting right? 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Article Published in 'The Hindu' Open Page

Hello there, 

After a really really long time (4 years), an article of mine has been published in the Hindu Open Page :-)

I had written this on my blog, and sent a slightly modified version to the Open Page. And with luck, the article got published in a week. I had no idea it was published, until a friend messaged saying she loved the article. It took me a few minutes to understand what might have happened.Since I was on my way to work I called up Mom and asked her to check, and lo it was there!

There is nothing more than the joy of seeing one's name in print, that too on The Hindu :-) It took some time for the feeling to sink in, and I'm still flying in the air :-)

You can read the article here - Choosing the right read.



Do let me know your thoughts on this. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

For the Love of Writing!

You know how you're doing something and suddenly you get an idea and then you realize life is not going to be the same forever. I'm sure many of us would've come across such life-changing ideas. That's precisely how writing happened to me. 

A few years back, all it took to start writing was my Dad's new laptop and an agenda-free home-alone Sunday. Almost close to a decade later I'm still writing (I'd give you the actual number of years, but decade sounds cooler). 

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

Creative Writing

I always had an interest in grammar. I liked the rules and loved the exceptions (rebels like me) to the rules so much that I used to read Wren and Martin when I could find time. One day we had a talent exam and there was creative writing, which I had attempted for the first time. I wrote something and remember giving a last minute twist. Imagine my surprise when I won a special mention for scoring the highest in creative writing. That's when I silently thanked my Grandma, the books that I'd been reading and Wren and Martin for all the story prompts.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: The Wedding Trousseau and Other Short Stories


This book is written by Ankita Sharma and published by Humming Words Publishers. Ankita is a well-known blogger, who blogs at Humming Words. The book is a collection of several short stories. The stories are normal everyday occurrences which everyone would be able to relate to. Of late I’ve been reading a lot of short stories and so I did not hesitate to review this when I was asked if I could.

What I liked most about this book was the variety it had to offer. Each story had a different backdrop and it felt nice to read plots which were fresh and which had not been done over and again. Ankita has taken pains to ensure that different aspects of human emotions and relationships were covered. With each story, you read something new (sometimes unexpected) and find interesting aspects of people.

What I felt could have been better was the way the story was written in a few places. The plots were good but at places it was difficult to keep track of what was going on. For me personally, a few stories that I came across had some negativity, which was a part of the plot. Though I’m not a fairy-tale fan, at certain places I was looking for things to get better, when they were actually going the other way. This is from a personal point of view, because I always prefer happy stories to stories where good people don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Overall, those who are fine to read any type of story, this would be an interesting read. For those who want the good guys to win, some of them may not be the way you expect it. Probably that was the author’s way of ensuring that the plots were not very predictable. 

I would rate this book a 3/5. 

You can buy this book from amazon. It is priced at Rs 170.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Writing Your Way to Happiness!

I read this wonderful article on Writing Your Way to Happiness in The New York Times blog and I couldn't stop thinking about it. Here is a little background before you read the article. 

I always believe in Abstract thoughts and Concrete words.

We have so many thoughts running in our minds that often, we find it difficult to focus on a specific task or to find a solution after some analysis.

Assume that you have 10 tabs of a browser opened. In one of those tabs you try to download a video, and in another tab you try to call someone through Skype. The other tabs are doing some trivial work. You realize that things are awfully slow and that you need some dedicated bandwidth for the most important issue at hand. You prioritize and close other tabs that might not necessarily be required at that point. You always have the option of coming back to it later. And voila, your work goes on smooth.

Do you think the human mind can operate in a similar way? Not at all!

We have so many thoughts (tabs) going on and the more we try to forget something to focus on something else, the more conspicuous it becomes. If I ask you to think of an elephant for a minute and then tell you not to think of the elephant, guess what you would be thinking of? ;-) (Yeah, I borrowed this from Inception).

When our mind is free, we can think a lot. That's great. But most of the time when we have many things to attend to and when we still need to think about something important, we do not have the option of shutting down other thoughts. (How we wish there was such an option!). That's when the 'Concrete Words' comes into picture. 

When you give your thoughts a certain shape, it becomes easy for you to make more sense of it. When you speak about it or write about it (a much better option), you can clearly see what's in front of you and focus on that.

This article (Writing Your Way to Happiness), justifies how writing can benefit you, at a more personal level. Read on.

 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

When Lord Shiva granted me a boon!

Last night I had a dream. I was standing somewhere in the Himalayas and doing some sort of a penance. When Lord Shiva (I think!) appeared before me satisfied with my performance, sorry penance (appraisal terms are hard to forget) and asked me for a boon, my happiness knew no bounds. The winds blew violently, the birds sang happily, the temple bells rang loudly to celebrate my happiness. Without missing a beat I said,

‘Thank you Lord Shiva! As for my boon, please make people respond to my mails.’

Lord Shiva was puzzled at something which he thought was too simple to be worthy of a boon. He repeated what I said and asked if I was sure about what I wanted. I reaffirmed and briefed him about my experiences.

Some people consider themselves way too important to respond to a mail immediately. It is considered good manners to respond to an email at the earliest possible. So naturally not many respond. It would take about 4 to 5 carefully timed reminders, luck and some black magic to get them to respond. And if they don't provide adequate updates, we need to mail them again and start praying.

Friday, May 1, 2015

People and their Bizarre Ways!

A few days back I had to interact with someone for some work that I had volunteered for. As luck would have it, we did not exactly get along well and both of us were clearly annoyed by what each had to say. I tried not to take it personally, but beyond a point it was getting over me. I kept myself in check because my priority was to get my work done and a many were dependent on me for this.

During one of our conversations (read arguments), the other person who couldn't tolerate my incessant questioning, tried to scare me (I guess that was his intention) by saying that he had the power to escalate the issue to some senior and left the sentence hanging abruptly. I gave a relaxed 'So, what do you want me to do?' reply. He repeated his words and waited for me to react. He had carefully told me that he had the power to do it and he did not say that he was actually going to escalate the issue. I calmly asked him to go ahead and told him that I wasn't going to be threatened by that. I also added that it might give me a chance to take it up with the seniors too and give them the complete picture as to what was happening.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Does 'Popularity' play a bigger role than 'Content' ?



I Google for the most random things. That’s how I stumbled upon an old blog post by someone who had ranted about how a popular blogger (a decade back) had been receiving a lot of attention for some badly written post. According to him, the post was one of the worst attempts by the blogger and he couldn’t understand how people (a lot!) were able to appreciate the blogger for the attempt.

What was interesting in the post was the Content vs Popularity that he spoke about. He argued that sometimes when a person is popular, either because of their blogs or because of some other reason, their posts are always a hit, irrespective of the quality of the content. That got me thinking and I paused for a while to see if I had witnessed something similar in the Blogosphere.

Despite what everyone says, ‘Is content always the ‘King/Queen?’

Not always, would be my answer. 

I'm not generalizing, but the more I thought about it the more I realized it was true in some ways.

Thanks to the many blogging forums, I try and read as many blogs as possible when I'm bored. There have been times when I've come across some wonderfully written poems or a well-balanced article and there would hardly be any comments appreciating their efforts. Or worse, it would just be a 'Good one' comment. You might probably say that the blogger wouldn't have promoted the post well (apart from blogging forums). I agree. But doesn't that stand testimony to the viewpoint that content isn't *always* the king/queen?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Celebrating 8 Years of Blogging!

My blog turns 8 this month.

With four years of random blogging and four years of regular blogging, my blog crosses another personal milestone. This was an equally remarkable year as my blog was featured in the Top Indian Blogs and among the Top Bloggers in Chennai and a weebly interviewed me (I loved answering their questions). And also, thanks to an internal forum at work where we’re allowed to write, a lot of people have been reading my blog and giving me their feedback. One random person at work (who had attended a session of mine) came up to me and said she read my blog. I’ve still no idea how she found out it was me. The highlight of all this was when someone I admire (a celebrity of sorts), happened to go through my blog and spoke with me for almost an hour when we happened to meet. My happiness knew no bounds and I’m sure that my blog was happy too :-)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Choosing the Right One!

(A modified version of this post has been published in The Hindu Open Page. You can read it here)

I’m not sure if it has anything to do with my OCD, but I can never leave a book half-way and go on to read a new book. It’s not possible to judge a book by its first few pages, so I proceed with the hope that it would get better. What if the story had a good twist, and what If I missed it? Sometimes it gets better, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a risk that I know I have to take. And a good book, makes it worth the risk.

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos


A friend of mine, who is also a voracious reader, sets a book aside the moment she loses interest. Even if it’s within the first 20 pages. When I happened to talk with her about this habit of ours, we realized that both of us were at two extremes. We joked about how each one should have a threshold. She said that the threshold should be slightly higher for her (so that she doesn’t miss a book that might get better with the story) and slightly lower for me (so that I wouldn’t have to waste my time reading not-so-good books), considering our reading habits. Fair enough! 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Breaking Queues

It’s funny how some people always want to follow the rules and are often the first to break them.

Take littering for instance, some people go at lengths to talk about how people don’t have civic sense. Later they end up throwing a banana peel from their window. Another thing is how we aren’t good in forming queues. During my first trip abroad I was amazed at how people formed a queue without being asked to do so. No rushing, no pushing, no fighting. We talk about standing in queues, but sometimes it just doesn’t work for us.

A few days back, I was at the supermarket doing my weekend shopping. I was the second in line and waiting for my turn when an old lady stood to my left. When the previous person had paid and left the old lady asked the person at the counter to bill her purchase. When the billing lady pointed out that there was a line and it was my turn, she immediately apologized and offered to stand a few places behind me. I realized it was a genuine mistake and since she was old, I asked the person at the counter to bill her purchase first. The old lady said thanks and left.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

'Do you have a Problem?' 'Me too!'

When someone is upset, we try to cheer them up. It’s not that we are trained that way, but if you notice we often try to share positive thoughts and perhaps even our own experiences, give them some encouraging words and make them feel optimistic.

This is what I used to do, till an incident changed my approach.

I was casually talking with a friend about how life had changed a lot since college. I’m not sure what exactly triggered that thought, but my friend started pouring out her problems that started shortly after college. She was venting about how everyone around her was being unreasonable. Nobody cared enough to understand what she was going through. She went on and on, and I didn’t interrupt her. I felt she would be better if she spoke about it.

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

After she stopped speaking, for almost 5 minutes none of us spoke. She then felt guilty for burdening me with her troubles. I told her it was fine, because I was going through some problems too, both personally and professionally, and that I could totally relate to her. She was shocked. I was surprised at her reaction. For a minute she left all her problems and asked me in a sarcastic way what could possibly be wrong in my life. I was slightly annoyed and asked her what was wrong if I had problems.

Doesn’t everyone have problems to deal with?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The 'Life-Work' Balance!

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a few like-minded bloggers. We were brainstorming about a new initiative which we had in mind. At one point we happened to discuss about Work-Life balance (You know when you're talking with a group of bloggers, you end up talking about everything but the intended topic). People spoke about how work-life balance was critical and even if the scales tilted slightly to any one side inadvertently, things might not be smooth.


Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

At this point, a senior in the group asked all of us to define what work-life balance was. We knew things were bound to get interesting and waited for people to give their own views.

Of the many versions of the definitions that we heard from others, the most striking one was given by the person who asked all of us the question, 

'Life-Work Balance : When you can talk about yourself for 5 minutes without mentioning what you do at work, you can conclude that you maintain a very healthy balance.'

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Art of Small Talk.

Thank you Blogadda :-)


A few weeks back, I conducted a session on Client Communication for a group of associates at work. The session contains a slide on Small Talk. So before proceeding with the agenda, I tried to engage in small talk with the participants, without mentioning why I was doing so. There were about 15 people who had turned up early. I spoke about how it was nice to see people turning up before the session started, and how the system was taking all the time to boot. I tried to get into a conversation, so I looked at one lady and told her that I’d remembered seeing her previously. I asked vague questions about with Block she was from and she started responding. 

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

After this small exercise, I proceeded with the agenda and when it came to small talk, I reminded them of the conversation I’d tried to initiate earlier. I was trying to convey the importance of small talk and what topics one can opt for when one of them said it was practically impossible to know what the other person might be interested in talking. Apart from general weather and non-controversial topics, I tried to explain that it wasn’t that difficult and we would probably need a few basic questions to get through. He wasn’t completely satisfied. So, I told him I could initiate a conversation with anyone in the room.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Confession Box.

I was reading a book, when I came across a point where the protagonist goes to a church and heads to the confession box.  That’s when I kept thinking how easy things are for those who go to churches. Not that we can do anything and then confess about it, but there are certain things, which might seem trivial, which are better off shared with someone rather than keeping it to ourselves. But there is a problem here, whom do we share it with?

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos
You might wonder why this such a big deal.  We have friends and family and there will be at least one person with whom we share a good rapport and a comfortable equation. But the problem is, people judge us or we are scared that people will judge us. Not in the wrong way, but we’ve come to a point where people around keep evaluating us. We are aware that the moment we open our eyes and take a step forward, people keep watching us. This includes our close family members and friends too. Sometimes we might not want to, but inadvertently and subconsciously we end up judging others. Not for each and every simple thing, but you never know.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bye Landmark!

If you are currently in Chennai and a person who loves reading books, chances are that you would’ve spent your weekend running around Mount Road. Thanks to the Chennai Book Fair at one end of the Mount Road and the 90% Clearance Sale at Landmarks, Spencers Plaza at the other end, I’m sure even those who use only eBooks these days would’ve been tempted to pick up a few books.

I got to know from a few people in twitter that there was a 90% discount on selected (most) books at Landmark. I had just got back from the Book fair on Saturday, so I made up my mind to visit Landmark on Sunday. It was very important for us was because we knew Landmark was shutting down (for now). So we wanted to make the best use of the books available there, one last time.

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

When I heard a few months back, that the Landmark outlet at Apex Plaza was closing down, I was surprised. I thought ‘Why would anyone want to close a bookstore which every Chennaite had fond memories of.’ There were many more outlets in the city, but somehow this was one close to my heart as I remember spending very many Sunday afternoons here. My dad, sister and I used to come here and spend hours reading books. After a while we would go to the stationary and buy different types of pens (My dad and sister had a big craze for pens).Then we would go to the Music section. We had the option of listening to music in certain corners and we used to pick up cassettes and CDs. Archies Greeting cards used to be available there, and irrespective of whether we needed them, we used to go through the cards. We would leave after a while only to come back in another week or so and carry out the same ritual. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

So, What’s New?

Are you still wishing people for New Year? It already seems like something from the past for me. Today when an acquaintance wished me for the New Year, my immediate reaction was ‘Wasn’t that long back?’ Though it’s just been about 10 days since the year started, things are so hectic here that only now I realized I hadn’t blogged this month so far.

So 2014, was an interesting year for me. Taking a step back and looking at all what I did (and wanted to do), I wonder from where I had the energy to do so much. Most often my energy levels oscillated between I want to spend every minute doing something to I want, to I want to just eat Lays and watch Friends again (and again… and again…). I did waste time doing nothing, but I did do a lot of stuff. So when people who read my blog asked me what plans I had for 2015, I felt I had to take it slowly.
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