Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Return Ticket

It is just about 4 days now after returning to Doha from India. Was a long vacation for me , of close to 2 months and I ensure I do that each summer. When I wrote the first sentence I actually counted with my fingers, friday..saturday...and Tuesday today is only the 5th day in Doha. But seemed longer. Much longer. And this is what strikes the difference for us. 

We wait for summer every year to book out tickets to India. More, more, we want more number of days there and we click on the return date as delayed as possible. Yet it happens that these days just whoosh past making a lot of memorable noise and we are all set with Return Ticket in hand!

Few years ago, my daughter was barely 4 years of age, when I was working, and I had enrolled her into summer vacation classes in Doha. One morning after talking to Chandrika, my friend who was leaving to Mumbai for long vacation (I had only 20 days sanctioned from my office) I casually asked my girl. "You will go to ajjis house? Alone? Chandrika auntie will take you in big flight and drop you there."
She instantly answered in affirmative with twinkle in her eyes and brushing them shyly. And I clearly remember the frock she wore, where she was seated in the living room, and how she seemed so excited after that, humming and talking to her dolls and hopping all round the house.
Then I held her and asked repeatedly. She showed me her bag and insisted she would go!

I still remember my informing this  to  Chandrika and my hubby. Both were surprised and eager. But as the flight departure was soon enough on the same day, online booking was closed. Chandrika and her husband Dinesh ran down to air lines office and purchased a ticket for minor while we arranged no objection letter for minor child to travel with friend. After 2 hours I was suddenly anxious. She was only 4!. What was the hurry to send her only on the basis of her excitement? But what put me back right was I was doing all right! My best friend was taking her. My sister was picking her at Mumbai airport. And my mother was going to take care of her in India. So what could be wrong. Nothing. I was convinced.

And yes, she excitedly packed her pink bag, favourite clothes and left with a happy good bye.

Even today my family take it up lightly as a moral story for the younger kids who get cranky even to eat or sleep. "Look at Jui akka, she came to India alone at 4. Played here, ate and slept all by herself without sticking to amma or paapa"! 

That was the beginning. She is now 15 and younger one 5, and I always ensure my kids have spent ample time of their holidays in the company of family members in India, seen the life there, don't cry seeing the lizards and mosquitoes. 

Now, my daughter who is 15 laughs when my son mentions Manipal as India and then Bengaluru or Mangalore are called by their respective names. But there was a day she too did just that. Going to India meant going to granny's place. And that was Manipal.

Ask her now, and she has cherished memories from those summer vacation times. Small things mused her. The touch me not plant, the cows at the gate, beggars singing with odd musical instruments, frogs in monsoon puddles or the centipedes curling up here and there. 

And so as a ritual, this summer too I was there. In India. Precisely in Manipal. For more than 3 weeks.  My son is now 5. And it is enjoyable to notice he too enjoys India the way my daughter did. The same fun tricks played in monsoons. In fact they are getting better and better. From not fearing the mosquitoes to not fearing a cobra hardly 1 foot away from them. Yes. Indeed.

I was taking kids for a stroll in the afternoon when rain had slowed down with sun showing its way a bit. It was then my eyes noticed the creepy crawling greenish long thing. I stopped. I pointed at it and told kids, walk fast. But they stopped. To have better look. By then I noticed it was yellowish, crawling too slowly and rising its hood, all signs it was a cobra. My daughter confirmed it first. It is a cobra amma she said.
That's it. My son's proficiency about creatures was alerted (yes, and he has surprisingly unbelievable knowledge about creatures). It was me who was frightened, of the aesthetics (overgrown weeds with creepy insects over our head) may be for security of the kids, and asked them to move on. This nagarpanchami while I was unable to visit the temple due to a death in the family, I almost was lucky to have the darshan of the Nag right where I was. This is what my elders at home told me. Pity, in the anxiety, did not bother to take a picture of  it, though I had my phone right in my pocket. 
But then aren’t holidays about creating memories other than visiting lovely destinations, and clicking beautiful pictures? I do have vague pictures of the enchanting paddy fields with lush green shoots, few peacocks and pea hens. At times when my car is full of kids, mine, those of my siblings, the kids find pleasure in nothing but a long drive in the rains to the Suvarna river, on the uphill and down hill roads literally squealing  “wee” and, pointing at random cow pooping on the roads, or a dog barking at my car. 

Well, I must tell this. Genetics go quite strong.

I told this to my daughter this holiday when she insisted I show her Udupi Krishna Temple, take stroll around, show her my school, without her pesky brother chattering and howling. Why I said, genetics here, is that this was what I loved doing in my growing years. Going to the temple hall, listening to the "Madhva Pravachans" with my bestie Anu, writing scholar exams conducted by the "Mutths".  There is something special about walking around these Mutths when the speakers faintly play spiritual mantras and a group of devotees sitting around singing loud bhajans. And this is exactly what my girl feels too. "I love the vibes" she said, hopping around like a baby.

And overall, I love the "vibes" when, the kids enjoy "my town" the way I do!,  love eating in temples, or the local delicacies, just the way I do!

Most friends in Doha enquire with me about Manipal that they have heard as the International town, or educational town, especially after seeing the pictures of the rural landscape that I post. This is the best blend in my town that the town was originally a forest and just few kilometers crossing the town borders are well spread rural areas. We have temples nestled in paddy fields surrounded scantily by woods where I often take kids to watch peacocks. And my family and friends knows the place by the name "kecop (peacock) jungle" as named by my 5 year old.

Well, all said and done, there is so much life covered in these few days. Neither can words match them, nor any pictures. That is what a holiday in India is for my  NRI kids. Enjoy the monsoons and grab the return ticket back to the sand dunes before the school begins. 😃

A short post after a long time, let me know if you found it interesting.✋💛

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

My April Book

The only book I read this April was "5 Questions Of  The Inquisitive Apes. Authored by my blogger friend Subhrasis Adhikari. This book is a non-fiction work and the second one to be authored by him.
It embarks on a lovely journey of how we came to be, what we are, why and how, in millions of aspects, en-capsuled in a few of 200 pages odd. Though there is a sound research work, what I loved most is the real life anecdotes he connected his analysis with.

I am yet to read his first book, but here we go with this one for now.

Questioning our own existence on this earth and delving straight into the curiosity of questioning about it, the author quotes Einstein saying never stop being inquisitive or lose the holy curiosity.

Started off with a appealing anecdote he had during a train journey, about our perception of understanding what we see and what we understand, the author went on to say there is always more to the truth from what you see. The book kept me hooked on as I read about  how we came to be.  The author has summed it all up there. The evolution of the apes to we beings. Right from the Big Bang theory to various tell tales from Africa or Egypt.

Unlearning the rainbow is something that commonly muses me as my daughter debates that I sometimes do not even an iota of an idea what shade dress I am myself wearing. I enjoyed that chapter, in the middle of some class of physics, quantum mechanics, psychology, neuroscience.

The interpretation of the 1.2kg protien, the brain which is the marvellous creation of evolution is presented with cognitive view. The psychology of optics and the connection to human nature, concluding it to the individual perceptive habit.

Freewill is a illusion, and are we mistaking randomness for freewill? It strikes a chord. Sometimes we unlearn our prejudices and lot of our moral value become irrelevant he says.
Human behaviour explained with enthralling anecdotes. Curious human mind is well interpreted when you say even the fundamental things like time and space are more mysterious than we can think of.
One things really shocked me. Apples, onions and potatoes have the same smell. Seriously? I do not want to accept that.

Further he tells about a logical angle to the biology and sex, the female and male social hierarchy and behaviour pattern, going on to analyze the successive versions of feminism from 18th century to the metoo campaign. If it was a war for social power or not, woman definitely is the goddess of the liberal society is what I could feel from reading it.
Had never known of the breast tax, and how it came to an end. The Hijab protest of Iran was however known to me.

Right from the beginning where he mentioned about the Big Bang theory, till the end of the book, as he questions our being, what angle we think about us. We could even think of us as an fact or information! Our association with our body. For me, memories were close to heart, but when author says they are electro-chemical information stored in brains, and also urges us to ponder over how about storing memory in some bank and then transferring it to some other body, is what I had to read over again and again. Memory transplants are apparently tried on rats and I dread this should stop at this.

Complexity of our character. You will be hooked on to the flow of words where the Author talks about Path to God. Like there is no success formula, every soul has his or her own journey in this path to derive happiness. Classifying human mind into pigeon hole is impossible yet the neuro scientists do, concluding every soul has more than one character. For the same reason, we can hack our brain. yes. Hack. By Yoga/meditation/ and the new therapy- the laughter therapy.

Self actualization is important and control of the gross body is explained with vivid examples. The Yogas, the Oxycise, and the practice of Meditation/Dhyana through which we can control our "intellect" is what is eye catching.

Atoms? Genes? We matter. Because we are the matter that makes the universe. The unproven fantasy of us being just souls v/s just a collection of cells. The contradiction of we control the brain or the other way is just nailed in here. Claim of soul being proven is still a fantasy else someone would have received a Nobel Prize for it he says.

The magic words of the author, talking of the magic wand for Pain/Stress, the endurance of pain and how he connects it to faith is remarkable. Beginning with a gripping miracle anecdote from Kolkata, he says while our Babas have cured cancer with a healing touch, the modern cities like Singapore too sell zero point magical wand for stress relief, just like the Harry potter magic wand. Did you know WHO statistics shows India is top in the list of depressed countries? 

And as we battle with faith and truth, the word of 2016 in Oxford Dictionary is Post Truth. We believe in what is shown to us rather than the objective facts.
What makes us happy  is connected to the Human Development Index. Did you know about a bacteria for happiness and Oxytocin the love hormone and many more? Was all new to me.

Over all, the pursuit of our entire being starting with Big Bang theory to different characteristics and hierarchical structure of our development, is all sometimes a maze. The questions of the inquisitive apes remain with n number of vivid answers. In vivid world of science, fantasy, spirits or as a common social being. With the catastrophic changes, like the sixth extinction or the global warming, it is upon us to chose to nurture love or hatred, suppress hatred and promote peace. It is through stories we can create strong society, a happier one and that would be the triumph of the inquisitive apes, he says.

Overall, the book geared up my learning. 
I liked many lines in this book, but a few random lines were:
  • Equality does not exist in nature. We humans create them.
  • What we are today is combination of selfish desires, cultural emotions and intelligent tactics.
  • Vision is our strongest sense
  • It is our conscience to check the eggs before we roll the eggs into our nest
  • May be it is Physics that wants us to be happy
Dear Author,

Glad to know from your Bio that you are a established Toastmaster too. However this read is neither your evaluation nor a detailed or a perfect book review. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and this is just my quick review.

Dear readers,

This book is sure a very intelligent and engaging book. A must read.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Who Says Times Can't Be Relived

Image Source; Google

I am sure, it is an easily agreeable fact that, when we just want to get out of our monotonous routines, we look back. Be it flipping picture albums, talking of past to our family members or listen to some music, specially the old classics.

Well, when it came to this morning mood, two things mused me to re-write this old post.
1. Looking back at my very old posts, this one from 2010 tempted me to re-polish it and share.
2. As I take a stroll in the sprawling lawns in my residential community where the kids are occupied playing different games in the open, a few adults crib we do not have a play pen for kids. "What more did we want than this much open area available while our urban towns are stuffed with only artificially turfed play pens? Also a good turnout of kids who play every evening. In fact I moved here, only for this luxury for my kids!"

As for my growing years in school,in our good old days, most often the playground was our streets. We were a dozen of romping horses on the community streets, mixed majority of girls and boys, with all the under 15 united in a gang.

How many of you can easily connect to these games we played? Names are endless, at the same time, they are close to me when written in native language! 
Kere-Dada; Kuntebille (Hopscotch); Chowkabaara; Dodge-Ball; Knocking the tower of stones ; Kabaddi ; Fire in the mountains; Dog and the bone; Kho-Kho; Running a cycle tyre all on the streets with a stick;
How many of you have called the spirits? Still wonder where did some of such creepy games originate? 
Do remind me of any such game that you want to share. Of all, I would say, the random nameless ones were always the best. Running after one another, specially in the rains, or picking up wild berries far in the areas close to the fields. 
I recall, more funnier games where-in we simply enacted the television soaps. The detective Byomkesh Bhakshi, or the creepy Kile Ka Rahasya, the He-man or the Shakthimaan which came much later in 1990's. Though the traditional games have almost lost their identity, this trend surely has not changed much, though the difference is the animated and cartoon version have their own magnitude and influence.

Jumping between compounds of the row houses was just a  custom.  Especially when we played hide-and-seek, the favourite game. We were allowed to religiously intrude into someone's terrace, between another's guava tree branches, or the  garage. Scared the squirrels on the trees, chased snoopy the catty and many more. Street dogs hated this gang and never wandered anywhere close to these hurricanes!
Screaming at loud decibels, was mandatory. No neighbour was annoyed. In fact these pepped up every body's evening tempo. No kids or no noise just haunted everyone.

In small territory, we bustled covering miles. Screamed at top of the vocals; sweating piggish; called each other names like 'fatty, swollen cheeks, egghead, duffer'; made faces out of anxiety; also seldom banged and bumped into quarrels. Am sure many of the graduate schools have adapted games from the rural -traditional games. They sure were good communication and personality building games then.

And needless to say, we compare the current times to the old, call those games quite productive where the best part was the connection. Connection between the children. By my experience, I bet it was the factor that effected our strong bonding that even today I can connect to many friends, irrespective of age. Those many of whom I even connect on Face Book may have been one of my play mates but our bonding meant a lot.

Having said that, talking of comparison, yes, I find myself smiling with a strange essence of satisfaction when I see both my kids wandering in the lawns with their cycles. Playing random games with the bunch of children irrespective of age, come back with mud packed clothes, sweating and tired. 
Last night, when my 4 year old walked inside the house exhausted, almost ready to crash on bed, telling me "give me food" is when I feel, "yes. this was how we we want our kids to re-live some of our moments". Somewhere, yes, we all are greedy that way. And I am.

So who says, times can't be relived!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Hollow

Two little eyes sparkled and
stared from the hollow
eyelids blinked in resonance
with the winter evening breeze

crawling out from the hollow
wee, came the little figure, down the slide
both tiny hands clutched on to her long black gown
sliding slow as snail, expectant eyes

wee, and down, stomping on the sand
swooshing few in air , two little foot walked
rubbing a pinch of dust off the eyes
the figure stopped moving

and out reached two big hands stroking her head
fed her expensive cookies and colourful juices
but little anxious eyes wandered
seeking something not mysterious

little eyelids blinked more now
in resonance with a flickering smile
as another little figure that lingered around
with bright florescent yellow jersey dress

"can we play together"..gleefully
made another little figure
hollow in the eyes of little figure filled up
as her lips carved out the best smile.

P.S. - I take my son outdoors playing. This poetry was written quickly during one such visit. Playing in groups is a rare scene these days. Our children are enjoying the urban play pens with parents right on their back.
Many times I notice few kids being reined in, with set of instructions.
Let them free. Let them play  with other children. in full glee and spree.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Pondy Was Fine for A Woman Solo Traveler. Part 1 - Promenade Escapade

And I was going to a teeny tiny town, like a speck or dot on the google maps may be. Still tinier yet magnificent was the view from the plane. As the set of wheels rolled out, and as the images of huge sea line unfurled into of a small lump of earth, I was landing in Pondy. In an airport that resembled more like a mammoth playground where two small domestic airplanes nicely stayed.  My heartbeat was too excited. All was fine. But I was alone. That made a difference! So much wanted trip, the solo escapade.

I did not want to complain about the grumpy driver that drove me to my hotel accommodation, but I will. It was till the end of the trip that I came across  all grumpy and unfriendly male drivers. I was told the place was safe for woman travelers. Now I know why! 

A small town, a Union Territory, this White Town is connected well by good public transport including two wheeler that can be rented out at several places. This is a boon for travelers. All across the town you see plenty of cyclists. A scene I loved on the streets.

Puducherry meaning "New town" was what TamilNadu called it in Tamil. And the new town still shines out in the old architectural whelm. A mixed culture of south India and the French. Lovely wall-shared row-houses with bunches of colourful bougainvilleas on the compounds decorate the French colony streets. Most government offices seemed so untouched by the construction technology. They still existed the same as they were in the French regime. I chose to stay in the busiest place in the town. The Promenade Hotel gave me the best view of the sea at a distance of hardly 50m from my room. I would call it a leap-able distance not walk-able. 

The biggest statue of that Gandhi standing tall by the sea in the centre of the Promenade guarded by  huge pillars carved exquisitely, was almost visible form a corner window of my room. 

It is a myth to feel the sea is the same everywhere. Stepping onto the promenade stretch gives you a contrasting view of two important things you notice. 1)The serene sea and the monstrous waves. 2) Second the abundance of clutter among the rocks. I could call it one of the most cluttered beach. However the stretch still charms you.

Everyday people take their walks by the sea, religiously and probably this is the most crowded life center of the town.
Promenade should be nicknamed Promisade.

Morning scenes include some usual joggers, yoga sitters by the sea, an old man distributing cookies to street dogs. My 
morning runs were calm and undisturbed by the dogs unlike in Manipal .  Our Manipal street dogs just do not trust any runner on the roads. The dogs here seemed to be understanding. They dug up their places in sand and lazed around most times except when hungry. The quite orange dawn time is when the waves seem bit ferocious in the quietness of the surroundings. 

Evening scenes here, include a a set of artists seated on several spots with their tripods and pencils and papers. They will produce a sketch of yours in few minutes that you sit facing them. And I got mine done too! And then the sari clad ladies, sari worn high up just below the knees, beautiful wrinkles and worn out hand bag and some shady flute like stick in hands. One of such ladies smiled at my palm and promised me I would one day marry a "bright" guy and have two children. I sent her back happy with a mere 100 rupees and the lady who translated me the Tamil "forecast" into English with a thunderous laughter. 

By nightfall in the burnt sky, one can still find few younger groups of youth loitering on the stretch. As for a traveler, I would suggest staying in one of the hotels facing the sea. My nights were calmer and the sound of the sea waves were soothing. Reminded me of the Colombo nights. The ocean view room and the same sounds of the waves. 

Honestly, the sprawling sea at times did frighten me. Especially when I sat staring at the sea, and every wave swelling up to the shore breaking down upon hitting the rocks of the promenade. That every swelling gave me a scare yet continued to lure me. I continue to cherish every moment spent with them

Apart from the promenade stretch there are quite a few beaches in this small Pondy and few other spots of importance. Continue to read, in the next post. post coming soon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Why I Purchased Plums Today

Picture source

Where we not told stories in our childhood? I was read stories from Amar Chitra Katha, from Leo Tolstoy's books,  and those Russian magazines of  Masha. I still feel those soft strokes I gave to the A3 sized board books of "Masha And The Bears", dad would bring from his office library. Over a period, I happen to retain few stories in my mind that mom read to me and one of my childhood favourite  was the "Plum hannina vaate" meaning the seed of the plum fruit, in kannada.  The story originated from Leo Tolstoy's book but was translated in some Kannada book. Unfortunately, I can not recall the name of the book.

Plums in the eighties were those luxury fruits that made it's appearance in the fruit vendors shop once in a while. That first time when the fruit and the book with the story both arrived home together mom had read this story to us.

"One day Raju's  mom purchased some plums from the market. Plums were a rare product then. It was a big catch and a golden fruit haul by mom.  She  carefully washed them and arranged them in a basket to be eaten by entire family together after dinner. 
Raju the youngest among the 5 children, could not withhold his curiosity.  He polished his tongue every time he saw the ripe crimson red fruit in the basket. Though he had never tasted them before, mom's treatment to the fruit made him realize it indeed was something unique. Tiny inquisitive mind was soon up to mischief as he grabbed one of them and relished it alone hiding in  a corner of the house. Then gleefully hiding all his euphoria he sat at the dinner table. 
Now dad noticed the count of the golden fruit and  immediately announced "children, who ever has stolen the fruit, please tell me urgently. Because the seed that you have swallowed will grow into a tree in your stomach and branch out of your ears and nose next morning. We must not let it happen".
Dad had nailed it. Soon Raju admitted his mistake and the family laughed out aloud but with a lesson for Raju and all the children on not to be greedy and also honesty is best policy. "
How cute. We had a big fancy for the fruit as well as the stories my mom narrated to us in childhood. Also I have to pass on the legacy to my children and stories are one thing that keeps my hyper active four year old son quite on a couch. He can listen to a dozen of them at once and blink at me and his books constantly. While I picked a few plums this morning from the hyper-market it unexpectedly brought back my memories and also added a story onto my cart for my son. 
Gone are the days of grandpa, grandma stories. We have gadgets replacing them to my dismay. We often end up in this discussion of bookish education and those of values of humanities. And I give a thumbs up to reading books to the children or narrating them stories from life. 
This is a flash post today. Anybody having good suggestion for story books for my kid please do leave a comment with title of book and the author.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Converses With My Moments

Puffing away the day's chores
that I count down with all my will
sometimes against, but with affection

running length and breadth with the tick-tocks
marking down unending to-do lists
cheering everyone I love, and then me

smiling at gale of chatters that matters
calls , talks, blue ticks, for every soul touched
with every cup of coffee, every plate meal

just dawn to dusk is not my call
pretty odd  reverse way too, work to work
charging away tough jiffs

every job accomplished, fulfilled promises
every concluding day, fuels my brain and brawn
stimulates every nerve and my bone

living thousand moments, cuddled up in me
looking away from chores into open pages of life
as I write and write and write, love you, I tell my moments.....