Tag: blog

To new beginnings!

I’ve been putting off this post for a while, maybe simply because I don’t want to have to deal with the thought yet. But WordPress persuaded me today, saying, “Write a post about something that should’ve been left untouched, but wasn’t. Why was the original better?”

Well, my entire life is about to change this month. For the past year, I’ve had a daily schedule; I’ve been able to tick things off a list that I made at the beginning of the year. It’s been mostly filled with work at Deccan Chronicle. The year actually flew by, but it has perhaps been the most fruitful year in my life, in terms of work and personal life. Su and Anand lived one kilometre away from my house. My Friday nights were almost always spent with them. I interviewed a few awesome people and grew close as ever to Nuvena, Sneha and Zoya. And I have to now bid goodbye to all of these people.

If you don’t already know, I have quit my job at Deccan Chronicle and have 11 days left there. So that means I won’t be seeing these silly girls, Nuvena, Sneha and Zoya, everyday. Sunayana is going to be in Orissa for a year, starting tomorrow, and Anand is going to Chicago for maybe two years. The thing is, I’m used to living away from my sister. For six years, she was away, studying, and for a year, she was in Amsterdam. But now, I’ve grown surprisingly close to Anand and having them both away, might be an extra pain to deal with and I don’t want to come to terms with it. They are my gang! No matter what my problem is, I go to them. “Should I quit?” “Should I buy these pants?” “Should I change the poster in my room?” “Should I put pickle in my curd rice?” You get the gist.

I don’t think the change of circumstances ever makes a difference in one’s life. It’s the people. It’s always the people. And I had gotten too comfortable with these people.

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I suppose getting too comfortable with a phase in one’s life callsfor a change. We are all excited about change. By ‘we,’ I mean Su, Anand and I. Su is in Orissa to help in rural development. Anand is off to USA from work, which means alone time in a new country, which is always a good thing. And I’m looking to write and travel as much as I can before I settle into another job. Maybe that’s what has gotten me all jittery. I’ve always been like Jenny from Marley & Me. The organised-kind with life plans and a bucket list to follow. Right now, I have absolutely nothing to organise because I don’t know where my life is headed! I’m so confused. On the one hand, I have people asking me “What next?” every time they see me. And on the other, I have my own mind asking me to take things easy, and take up whatever comes at me. I’ve always been told to listen to my mind, by my mind.

This looks like a silly diary entry, with nothing for my reader to take away. I know. But I have to set these thoughts free, and make some space in my mind, you know. Because every little thing is changing.

The left side shift key on this keyboard isn’t working. It has always worked and now it isn’t.

I hope that’s the only bad change out of everything I have mentioned in this post.

All in all, I’m looking forward to 2015. Supriya is coming back in January (hopefully). Sunayana is going to visit in January. I may go to Orissa to visit her. I may go to Shillong to visit Priyam. I may travel to Chennai, Pondi, Kerala and who knows where else!

But I’m going to miss the perfect past year. The nights at 1522, the gossip lunch time in the pantry at office, making tea with Nuvena, riding back with Sneha, drinking chai at the adda, staying over at Su’s where we always fell asleep trying to do something constructive, making plans to go for runs regularly and failing, going for movies, watching the matches together, watching Su and Anand argue about BJP (and watching Su shed a tear when he insulted Modi), attending parties where pretentious people came and waved their hands about at each other… Wait, I really don’t think I’m going to miss that last bit.

Su and Anand, just for the record, I love the team that the three of us are. (If I say anything more cheesy, I think Anand might remove me from the MVM Rowdies Whatsapp group.)

 

Anyway, cheers to new beginnings!

*Deep breath*

 

 

 

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God, are you listening?

Dear God, I’ve been meaning to write to you for quite some time. In fact, I thought about it during the second week of September, when I came to meet you at the Malur temple. At that time the #IceBucketChallenge was at its peak and I saw you participate too, except it wasn’t voluntary. You were not only doused with ice cold water, but also ghee, milk, curd, honey, sugar, banana pulp, turmeric and so much more. You were in the form of Lord Narasimha that day, the lion-headed form of Vishnu, mythically known for ripping out Hirankashapu’s intestines. I was wondering why people were feeding you, a carnivore, with things that I eat as a pure vegetarian. It struck me as bizarre. But Su offered me another explanation that those were not for you to eat, but they were used to give you a nice snaana so that you can have glowing skin – like royalty, is what she said. But for all I cared, it was just a waste of a packet of Nandini milk and curd, because you were just a rock, sitting there with a poker face, not responding to the beautifying treatment one bit. Instead of wasting it, I could have eaten it, or given it to one of those poor people outside the temple, who would have relished a rare meal delightfully.

Nevertheless, I had a pleasant time at Malur anyway amidst nature, the farmlands, the gigantic shady trees and the stray animals there. Also, at office yesterday, we also did a pooja for you. This time, you were in the form of Saraswathi, the flawless, calm Goddess who plays the veena. Or at least I’m guessing that’s who you were, because I couldn’t see the idol the poojari was dressing up. You were hidden beneath all those flowers and clothes. I was standing way at the back. You might not have seen me either. That pooja was like a test of patience for all of us in office. It went on for half an hour, and 30 people stood before you, shifting restlessly from one leg to the other, sending text messages to postpone meetings and waiting for the final aarti so they could get back to their chairs.

Now, you may wonder why I’m telling you all this. It’s just that every time these kind of mass prayers happen, I never get to talk to you enough. Besides, I’m more comfortable writing to you than talking to you. And I don’t get the point of mass prayers anyway, because at the end of the day, it’s just that one faithful person really praying to you. Everyone else is in their own world, mentally distracted. I don’t mean to offend you by saying you have just one guy praying to you, and I know you know what I mean because you can see right through me, through everybody. That’s what I’ve been told ever since I was born anyway. I don’t see a point in trying to make a conversation with you, because I need to have my eyes closed to concentrate, and a few people find it amusing when I keep my eyes closed. I have been through that phase of course, where I giggled when people tried to concentrate. It just doesn’t make sense. There’s too much distraction. The point of praying to you is to be able to talk to solely you, to thank you for everything you’ve given us and ask you for everything else that we want, right?

I wish you’d let people know that one doesn’t have to travel a thousand kilometres to see you and pray to you. Chumma you let these people do what they think will please you and you laugh at them inwardly. Don’t think I don’t know. It’s not cool, God.

Please somehow let people know that you don’t care about that hundred rupee note that they put in the aarti, or the silk saris they adorn you with or the thousand shlokas they chant without knowing what it means. (I myself can chant the entire vishnusahasranama and I have no clue what a single word means! This blogpost is way more meaningful to me.) Tell them that they don’t have to waste precious resources on idols, when there are a million poor people in this country who don’t have a single rupee. Tell them that all they have to do to please you is be good people. Tell them they don’t have to go out of their way to be good. Even a simple act such as picking something someone dropped and returning it to them is good, right? I sure hope so. It was nice talking to you, God. Thanks for listening.

Just a rant because we live in a material world

I’m typing simply because I’m using a Mac, just for the experience. It’s quite fancy, but I don’t think this keyboard has ever been used to type a document of any sort. Or someone spilt something on it.

There’s so much talk of technology happening around me. I’m buying a new phone, a Google Nexus 5 I think. These phones are so expensive. Sometimes I think it’s pointless to spend so much on non living things. (Silly statement because you can’t really spend on living things, unless you buy things for those living things. Ok this is a complicated topic.)

I remember meeting a lady for an interview – the founder of Daily Dump, and her position in office was ‘Compostwali.’ She is the most environment friendly person I’ve ever met, save perhaps for my vegan cousins. She had the oldest Nokia phone, one with a monochrome screen. She simply shrugged and said, “It serves the purpose.” I wish I could be like her, an immaterial person.

A few days ago, I read this, an article about a great big elephant in Kenya poached for its tusks. It was one of the most depressing articles. I’ve read about crocodiles being killed for bags and deer being hunted for their antlers. I’ve also read about elephants being poached for their tusks, but this article was especially sad, because it was a rare species of elephant. Here’s an excerpt from there.

Satao (the elephant) lived in Tsavo East National park in southeast Kenya and was celebrated as one of the last surviving great tuskers, bearers of genes that produce bull elephants with huge tusks reaching down to the ground. It’s hard to imagine what was going through the minds of the poachers on the day that they approached this mountain of an elephant and shot at him with crude bows and poisoned arrows. It must have been terrifying and yet the sight of his massive gleaming tusks probably left them salivating with greed.

I don’t understand why materialism creeps into EVERY aspect of human life. Well, I know this doesn’t quite fit the “materialism” bill if you go by the definition of it – a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values. But I’m using the word in a broad sense. Don’t go all editor on me. I wish whoever decides what is precious and what is not, just makes a worldwide statement that ivory, leather and silk and other animal-killing materials have absolutely no value anymore. How can any man have the heart to kill all these animals that ask for nothing, except to be left alone? It’s ridiculous.

Courtesy: The Funk Hunter (Some page on FB)
Courtesy: The Funk Hunter (Some page on FB)

I’m not bragging, but I don’t feel the need to own anything that’ll make me feel rich. I don’t like jewellery, I live in a modest, cosy house that doesn’t boast of anything luxurious, I don’t understand why people go gaga over expensive branded shoes, clothes, Swarovski stuff, and bags. Heck! Someone in my office owns one of these!

Coach bag

Who pays Rs.20,ooo for BAGS? My frolleague argued that Coach bags are an investment, and once they’re vintage bags, you can sell them and makes tonnes of money. Pfft! Whatever.

Buy me that, buy me this... Gahh...
Buy me that, buy me this… Gahh…

Bags are meant to store things. How does it matter what word is written on them in a fancy font? Similarly, I wear clothes to cover myself up. No matter how inexpensive the clothes are, they can still serve the purpose. My theory (I cooked this one up last night) is that people need brands to compromise for their image, or the lack of it. I believe I can pull off even a roadside tshirt that I paid Rs.50 for and don’t need a brand name to make me look good. I’m not saying I don’t indulge in Adidas and Nike sometimes; it’s just that life is not all about that. As I write, I can imagine shopoholics thinking, Hey, we’re not asking you to join us. What the hell is your problem? Well, I rant about it because it bothers me. What annoys me the most is when these same shopoholics hesitate to spend some 200 rupees for a better cause, like donating it to the poor or for their own meal, or for a gift or something. You get what I’m saying, right? They spend enormous amounts on diamonds, shoes and dresses, but think twice before spending it for a good cause. Ok, maybe shopping is what I have a problem with. Who knows!

You know what has made me more and more furious these days is the outrageous amount of money people spend on weddings. What is the point? You want to show off how much money you have? Isn’t marriage supposed to be the coming together of two souls? I’ll bet 50% of the people invited to weddings in India are meeting the couple for the first time on that day.

I’m not even sure what I want to say. I’m just sad that the basic purpose behind all aspects of life are lost in this pitiful material, money-loving, greedy and pretentious world.

 

 

Oh the pain of keeping in touch with people!

It’s been a year since I passed out of ACJ. Three years since I passed out of MCC. Five years since I passed out of Jain. Seven years since I passed out of school (Carefully omitting the name).

I’m in touch with six people people from ACJ. Three people from MCC. Five people from Jain. Three people from school.

I’m not trying to do some graphical analysis of this.

Ok wait. Let’s do it. Let’s use some of the gyaan we got at ACJ, while studying New Media, shall we?

Keep in touch graph

Clearly, it’s a highly inconclusive chart, made just to remind me that I still have all these multimedia and infographic skills. (Admit it, it’s pretty awesome!)

So my friends were texting me the other day, a few complaining about how I don’t keep in touch, a few complaining that they’re keeping in touch with people they don’t want to keep in touch with and a few keeping in touch with me in the process of texting me.

How hard can it be to keep in touch, really?

Well, REALLY hard.

I think unless you’re in a relationship and think of it as imperative to speak to your boyfriend/girlfriend, it’s going to be really difficult to get yourself to pick up that phone and text your friends or cousins.
I remember the first time I had an uncomfortable experience regarding this. It was back in school. I had a solid gang of friends, and we called ourselves the Spiral Squares (Yeah, we were 14). Varsha was one of them. She was pretty much a best friend, and we played computer games together, did “combined studies” together, listened to music-that-I-can’t-put-down-here together and sat together in class. It was in class 10 that I really got close to her.

school
Sneha, Pooja, Me, Sohini and Varsha (This was the first and last time we all met together after school. That’s ONCE in between 2006 and 2014)

On the last day of school, we were all just talking standing outside class, when Varsha actually said a formal goodbye, which I brushed off with a careless wave of my hand. She persisted, “No I mean it. Things aren’t going to be the same again.” Back then, I had felt awkward having to make such emo conversation. I was in denial and the talk drifted away into some other topic.

I realise only now how true that was. We have both grown into completely different individuals and rarely speak to each other, although we’d like to speak more often.

Even when I finished my course at ACJ, I was so confident that I’d keep in touch with Sanjana, my immediate roommate. Vishwadha and Disha were on the other side of the room, and hence not immediate. They were cousin-roommates. :P Anyway, I was always so surprised about how Sanjana ended up as my roommate, because we were SO similar and NO one else understood me in college as well as she did. She was the perfect room mate with whom I’d watch Game of Thrones, eat Maggi, heat water for bath, shop for fruits, share my secrets and talk all night. I was so confident that there was no way I’d be able to go even one day without talking to her and that I’d keep in touch. But after we parted ways, we have hardly spoken. Well, we do talk now, after reading something like this. Even if we’re busy with our own lives and even if both of us especially suck at keeping in touch, we push ourselves and talk to each other, share pictures and discuss our lives. Today also happens to be her birthday! (Wish her in your mind.)

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Sanjana, this is the ONLY picture of just us together. Just saying.
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Thank you Cynthia for this picture of Disha, Sana, Fishy and Me. It’s our second best picture. : P

This whole issue of keeping in touch has become so horrible, that I have forgotten I have friends living next door. I returned early from work this evening and wasn’t going out on any assignment or to meet any friends. I just sat at home, thinking “Oh God! What to do. I’m so bored.” I sat restlessly, watching my fish, did the dishes for a bit, and suddenly I remembered that my best friend, Uttara, lives next door. It was a shameful realisation. Years ago, we were rarely in our houses by ourselves. I was always in her house, or she, in mine. I remember when we were 3 and 5 years old, we’d step out of our houses and shout, “Ajji! Me Uttara cha ghari la zaaoo ka?” (Ajji! May I please go to Uttara’s house?) No, my grandma didn’t know Marathi, I’d ask her in Marathi anyway. In fact, I learnt Marathi only to speak to Uttara when she was a baby, because she couldn’t speak English yet. It was just a thing we did. We weren’t really asking for permission. Now, it’s like our parents have to push us into each other’s houses. Occasionally, I go to my balcony and she comes out, (we can shake hands from across our buildings on the first floor. That’s how close we live) and we chat away into the night until we go inside and sleep, go to work the next day and remember to greet each other a month later.

People I grew up with. It's just horrible that I don't have a picture with Uttara! This is Adit, Uttara, Pranju, Prerana, Me. None of us really look like that anymore.
People I grew up with. It’s just horrible that I don’t have a picture with Uttara! This is Adit, Uttara, Pranju, Prerana, Me. None of us really look like that anymore.

Even Supriya for that matter! The whole world knows we’re best friends. Anytime I meet someone from school, they have to ask me “How’s Supriya doing?” Be it a teacher, or a classmate. But we rarely speak. When she called me up on her birthday from UK on June 6, it was the second time we were hearing each other’s voices in a year! You know, we’re the kind of friends whose voices grew to sound exactly like each other’s. No one can differentiate our voices over the phone.

DSC08337
Supriya and me. One of the few pictures of just us together.


We’re all stuck in our own tiny worlds, our own minds, always thinking about the moment. I’m not calling anyone selfish. It’s the most normal thing to not keep in touch, because you know, that when that friend is with you, everything will be as normal as ever. That’s the liberty you have with such close friends I suppose. You know that nothing will ever change.

I know that if I meet Sanjana, we’ll talk like we knew each other all our lives again, although we really have known each other for just two years. I know that if I meet Osama, I’m going to speak to her exactly like I did when we were ten and eight years old. I know if I meet Supriya, we’ll watch Princess Diaries, eat some pasta and go out for an orange candy walk, like nothing has every changed, although our lives our changing every minute.

On Tuesday, Priyam is coming to Bangalore, which means the rekindling of the MCC friendship. I’m really looking forward to it, because with every set of friends you have a different discussion, which you need to have from time to time.

DSC04833
Friends from MCC. Nishi, Priyam, Me and Avi

Oh, I need to thank WhatsApp for seriously bringing all my friends back into my life.

And thank you, DC people for staying in touch with me everyday, whether you like it or not. :P

DC people
Me, Sneha, Zoya, Nuvena and Namita

Ok, this is sounding like some vote of thanks speech.

Bye people. 

Stay in touch!

Tatas!

(Wow! There are NO boys in this post except Adit. Just noticing.)

 

 

All for a few sMILES

I just returned from the most perfect bike ride.

Wait. Before I type anything else, I want to let out a great “Haaaaaaaa!” (That’s a loud, dramatic, exuberant sigh of relief).
Boy does it feel good to write on my blog again!

Yes, so as I was saying, the most perfect ride.

Scooty Pep+ – Check
Evening time – Check
Homely streets of Malleswaram (No traffic signals) – Check
50 kmph – Check
Clouds and tiny, scattered drops of rain after a hot noon – Check
(The most cliched) Smell of rain – Check
Wearing shorts – Check
Sleeveless top and no jacket – Check
No helmet – Check
Let my hair out – Check
Happy because my hair is really short and I don’t have to tie it so it doesn’t get knotted – Check
Singing out loud, not caring about fellow riders – Check

Every single one of those aspects was equally important to make my ride perfect.

That ride ended within a kilometre. Just saying.
The happiest moments are indeed short lived.

It’s not like I’m unhappy when I generally ride. But I have to resort to doing things like this.

20140203_103739_20140203214110383
This was the beginning of my week-long social experiment

I’m not sure whether I’m blogging about it because I did it, or whether I did it so I could blog about it. I’m confused about that these days. This social experiment started simply because I went to a stationery store for something, and happened to see a slate. I had almost forgotten that slates existed. Usually, little children would remind me of them, but now my niblings doodle on tablets, so they’ll never experience the magic of a slate – of being able to carve something so solid onto a black board and make it disappear with nothing but the swish of a wet sponge.

So I bought a slate and some calcium sticks and for a few days, just drew something and kept it at home.

One fine day, I mustered the courage to write something on it and put on my bike. So I said, “Don’t honk, ok? Please?”

I actually wrote that message after a lot of thought. Should it be “Don’t honk you a**hole!” or “Don’t honk. I’m not blind. I can see you coming.”? Finally, I decided to go about it nicely. It kind of worked. People didn’t honk. But i’m not sure if it was because they were so distracted by the fluorescent slate and forgot to honk, or if they actually paid heed to my words. Either way, it worked.

Throughout that week, a series of messages followed. I figured it was the most organic way to reach out to people and drive some sense into them (pun intended) .Well, I didn’t go about preaching things. I was just trying to keep the air around me positive. And it magically was! Messages like these don’t fail to make people smile. Be it the Oh what an attention seeker kind of mean smile or the What a silly girl  kind of skeptical smile or the genuine Awwwww so sweet kind of happy smile. In this case there is also local baays getting their cheap thrills going, “Machaa nodo! Eno bardiddare!” (Hey mate look! She’s got something written there!)

Here’s what the messages looked like.

Bike-4
After the Earth cooled down

So when I had smileys like this, with such cheesy messages on them, it was really important that I keep my cool as well and not lose my temper on the streets and smile back at anyone who smiled at me. This was easy on the day it rained, because it was a pleasant ride. But when I put a message like the one below, it wasn’t so easy to be cheery.

Bike-6
It was most people’s weekend, but not mine

I work on weekends. So I was mostly making other people happy reminding them that it was their weekend. Two bike riders caught up with my Scooty (ok fine, slowed down to stay alongside my Scooty), and asked me what special I had planned for the weekend.

Actually, people came up to me and spoke on every day that I had a message, not just this one. And they’d all come and speak right in the middle of a ride! They wouldn’t even wait for a signal. So I’d have to concentrate on riding and fail to give them a witty answer like, “Isn’t every weekend special?” or something. I just smiled, shrugged and said, “Nothing really.” That’s the mother of all boring replies.

But there was a large sector, that didn’t understand my English messages. They’d come up to me and ask me what’s written on the slate – Auto rickshaw drivers. This message below was for them.

IMG-20140416-WA0003
To cater to the kannada speaking folk. It says, “Ride carefully : )”

Well, people smiled at that. But it was a bad idea to put that message. People thought I’d written that because I didn’t know how to ride properly and I was advising them to be careful around me. Some man said, “Medam, you can put an L board instead.” So that was a face palm moment.

And then came the toughest challenge. To be happy on a Sunday. While on my way to work.

 

Bike-2
That’s my dad posing. He liked the idea very much.

It was really hard to keep a smile on while going to work when everyone was probably riding to go to an elaborate brunch or something. But it had a good effect. I kept my smile on and smiling, I think, makes you feel genuinely happy. On the day I had this message, some aunty flicked her cell phone out of her bag and slyly clicked a photo of me, thinking I wasn’t looking at her from the rear view mirror. but it only made me happy. I hope she shows it to more people and they do what I did too.

I ran out of messages after a week and got tired of the pressure of having to smile all the time. And the watch man in my office building requested me to take it off, saying he was being harassed by passers-by who asked him about it when he knew nothing about it. Poor guy!

But it’s a great social experiment, to see how people around you react. And if I had the patience, I’d keep it on forever and start everyday with a clean slate.

I must be given an award for that pun.

Most recent of all, however, was voting day in Bangalore! April 17. I had to go to work. My dad, though,  made the best use of the slate. Look what he did. : )

Ram - vote message

 

He rallied around the city with it, as he went to drop and pick up my mum, who had gone for election duty.

So go spread some smiles.

Do what you can to be a good person.

Cheers!

 

Happy Birthday Amma

This is one of the most difficult blog posts I’ve written. You cannot possibly put down everything you feel for your mother. I love her. I admire her. I get angry with her. I want to be like her. It’s a flurry of mixed emotions. I can’t give voice to all my mixed-up thoughts though. That’s why I haven’t, until now, dared to venture out to write about my mum.

It’s her birthday today. I’m glad she was born on this day because
1. Without her being born I couldn’t have been born.
2. She makes a difference to WAYYYY too many people. She’s a happy wife. (And that means a LOT). She’s a favourite aunt. She’s a playfully troublesome mother-in-law; to my colleagues, her food is indispensable; she is a role model best friend (I build my friendship with my best friends looking at her and Prema aunty), and she is nice enough to make coffee for the guy who comes to deliver Nandini milk at 6 in the morning. You get what I’m saying.
3. She is a Sagittarian. I don’t know how that makes a difference. But I like it that we’re of the same sun sign.

DSC_0893
:)

My mother, I believe, is the most ideal mother. She has always let me have my freedom, the perfect sort of upbringing. She never told me “Swathi study! Do your homework! Swathi do engineering. You need to earn well.” She never called me into the kitchen to do the dishes. She let me learn things at me own pace. Life-wise, she’s too patient. The only things she did bother me about was, of course, “Swathi fold your blanket! Come down for dinner! Not after 40 mintues! NOW!” and she would (and still does) shout out my name every 30 seconds until I go to the dining table. Gosh! That does bother me. But she has never been intrusive, never wanted too many details about everything. Even my dad for that matter, I love them because they let me be me.

The thing is, I have never given it thought, about how important her role has been in my life. I have never thought “Oh what will I do without amma?” because I can’t even imagine considering such a situation! Honestly speaking, I think of her either when I’m really happy or when I’m really sad, and I believe one thinks of the few people who matter most in such situations. And I instinctively think of her. That’s when I want her with me the most. The in-between, non-superlative emotions go by because they aren’t significant enough.

Also as I’ve said before, we don’t express emotions in our family. We never send text messages to each other saying ‘love you’ either. Just sometimes, when amma is proud of me after she reads an article she likes or if she’s in an exceptionally happy mood, she comes and pecks me on my head. I savour that moment. Of course I’m not going to express that, because my ego (or something) won’t let me. I see other mothers hug and kiss their kids all the time, no matter how old they are, but my mum hasn’t done that often. Which makes the rare display of affection even more precious. And somehow the fact that it doesn’t come too often makes me comfortable. I don’t expect any of you to understand. It just makes me feel that we understand each other no matter what. I don’t even hestitate or think of the aftermath of telling her a big secret or anything, because I’m always confident that she will finally let me have what I want. She is not one to say no. She’ll let me do anything that makes me happy. Not many people would do that. (Oh also here’s a tiny secret. She preaches that you should never hate anyone, that you should always forgive. But she absolutely hates Ranne and Chabbria and Vishnu Murthy Chintadri and whoever else plays the bad guy in  TN Seetharam’s serials. Hehe.)

A lot of people tell me I look “ditto” like my mum. And my sister gets that a lot too. We don’t mind of course. She is beautiful. (Thankfully we have really good looking parents)! It’s an honour, if anything, to know that our looks haven’t gone wrong. Someday I’d like to be just like my mum. No mummy, I don’t want to be a dummi (not dummy. Dummi. Read it right). (I trouble her a LOT that she’s fat). But the other day, my dad was in Delhi, and I was trying to sleep in my room, but I couldn’t. So I went and slept next to amma. I was sleeping next to her after REALLY long. Maybe five years or something. I just lay there and stared at her, for as long as I could without feeling like a creepy person. In that little bit of street light, my mummy looked so pretty. She has the silkiest hair, doesn’t look a bit her age and her sharp features are just flawless. Of course I can’t sit and look at her when I’m awake. That’ll just be weird. Anyway, I had the deepest sleep that night, I’m not kidding. I’m quite a scared person at night. It’s nice to sleep with my amma once in a while, feeling both protected and protective.

And she’s the coolest mum, because which mum would watch an entire football match of Arsenal’s (if I miss it) just to tell me the score later? She’s too cute! She says, “I watched it because I love the way the fans in the stadium sing, but you should always support whoever scores.” The previous few seasons, she was all like “Oh why do you have to support Arsenal? Look at Manchester United. They’re scoring. You support them.” I almost disowned her at those times. Now that Arsenal are on top, she’s a Gooner as well. So, this season, I especially love my amma.

Here’s what Su has to say: Amma is SuperMom! Super-Human actually! Everyday, she has the time to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner, do all the cleaning and washing, go to work, religiously go for yoga, meet Prema aunty, attend every function there is,  make Chakkli, KodbaLe, Chikki, kobbri Mithai, jamoon and just like that, be in touch with every friend, attend Sanskrit/Gita classes and even get office work home these days! Phew! The only free time she gets is probably 10 minutes when she reads the paper! I have never known what either of my parents do in their free time, because they have no free time really! (She only watches TV during dinner).

Not once has amma asked for our help around the house or kitchen, not even during Janmashtami where she singlehandedly creates 20+ varieties of mouthwatering Thindis every year without fail! You call her at 6 in the evening and tell her a cousin is going abroad and wants to carry her chikki, she will attend Yoga class from 6:30-8 and Chikki will be ready and packed in a ziplock bag by 9 ! After I am married and not living with her anymore, I am appreciating her awesomeness even more! All my life, not once has she cribbed and asked what to cook today!(which is such a big question now everyday!) nor has she complained that there’s too much work ever!
At Amma’s place , everything feels like it happens by itself, except the magical hands of amma are behind everything that happens.

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY amma! :) We love you more than you can imagine!

– Appa, Su, Anand and Swat

We’ll stop here now. But here are a few things other people have to say about my mum.

Navu – Gayathri mami is the most spontaneous and frank person. I love that about her.

Tatha and pati – She is so straight forward. That’s the best thing about her. She will never tell you something just to please you. If she thinks you’re wrong, she’ll tell you you’re wrong. But what can I say? I like everything about her! She’s my daughter after all!

Doddamma – She’s the most kind hearted person. She would never ever hurt anyone. And she is always so frank!

Varun Ram Iyer – When you think of her, you think of the simplicity of beauty. And the beauty of simplicity. She has the simplest smile that can warm a heart. Purely because it’s so genuine and it does not do anything but wish the best for you

Adit – Her menasina saaru!! (I don’t need to say anything else.) But she is the most kind and loving person.

Sanjukta – She packs so much into her day and does it so very effortlessly. I’ve never seen or heard of her being tense or losing her cool.

Hrishi – UPPIT! Enough said!

Suman, Seshi, Surabhi and Sudarshan – Happy Birthday! We love you very much. Love your magnanimous heart and enthusiasm for everything in life. You are a super woman as you manage kids, home, office, social engagements, and your hobbies so smoothly. So proud to be part of the family.

Nuvena –  Her raasam rice is just wow! She’s an awesome cook! I’ve never gotten to meet her though!

Supriya – She’s my second mother. That says it all. Love her a lot!

Pooja – She’s so simple. I like how such small things make her happy, like honey cake! Also, she isn’t like a mom! She’s like a friend. I like the fact that she religiously practices yoga. Also, the way she talks makes me feel like a kid!

Uttara –  She’s so very caring, open and frank and broadminded!

Now you see how many children she has! It’s not just me and Su.

We all love you too much ya mummy! Hope you have the happiest birthday ever!

A call to wake up the writer in you

(Starting abruptly because I can’t think of a better way to start)

In Deccan Chronicle, we have a column where we get bloggers to write something Bangalore-related. Unfortunately, they’ve given me the job of scouring the internet and finding a good blog to publish. You will not believe how difficult that job is. You probably think, Oh! There are so many blogs. Hell no! Do the job once and you’ll know how hard it is. I’m just upset about people not writing. Not because it makes my job difficult, although that’s one of the issues, even otherwise, why don’t any of you write? 

I’m sure half the people on my friends list on Facebook are journalists or journalism students. I don’t see any blog posts being written! My teacher at ACJ made me make this WordPress page and it’s the best thing I’ve gotten out of the New Media classes. It’s such a blessing, this blog. All students were asked to make this page. But not one has maintained it. It’s so important to write! It helps you improve your grammar, your command over the language improves and you begin to have a way of putting your thoughts down. Most of you are really intelligent people, and have deep meaningful thoughts I’m sure. Why waste those thoughts? Put them down. 

Write
Seriously!

Tyrion Lannister once said, ‘A mind needs a book like a sword needs a whetstone.’ I can’t agree more. Imagine if all those authors had decided not to write their books and just keep their thoughts to themselves. Well, I’m not asking you to write something deep, reflective and informative. I mean look at the load of crap I write and get away with! Look at the mindless stuff Varun Agarwal and Chetan Bhagat wrote and became best sellers! Take a look at the Twilight series! (Just kidding. Don’t even look at those). But trust me, it feels so good when random people text you or ping you out of the blue saying, “Nice write-up, can’t wait to read the next.”

It’s not so difficult at all! I’m sure some of you have blog pages that lay long-forgotten, asleep somewhere on the internet. You needn’t even write on a blog. My creative writing teacher had advised us to write just one page of something everyday; best advice ever. You can write about anything! You can build five paragraphs around something as tiny as a tweet you saw, or a little incident on the road, or an animal, a news article you read, a movie, a play, a match, a concert, chewing, taking a leak, anything. You could even challenge yourself to choose a different word each day and write about it. If you’re a journalist, it’ll help you immensely. Even otherwise, writing helps you remember better. I told my sister to write about her year-long stay in Amsterdam. She wrote for two days and forgot all about it. :-/ But I’ve written a little about my Euro trip, so I made tiny notes at all places I went to, and I remember all the places so well! When I read what I’ve written, I feel like I revisited the place.

Well, I’m not forcing you. But it’s a good habit to cultivate is all I’m saying. You don’t need to be able to write well either. I read this somewhere. It is one of the most important lines (for me) I’ve ever read. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. 
Just write as you would speak to someone. Learn a new word everyday. Click a picture to go along with it. Buy a new exciting pen or notebook (This always works for me. Recently found a Hero pen, the kind I used during my school days. Can’t stop scribbling writing neatly now). Make it a fun thing for yourself to do when you have free time.

Good luck with it.
Cheers!

PS: Here’s a blog I really like. She writes about anything and she makes it interesting. You could take inspiration from here.

What can we do about rape?

I got sucked into the whole rape business that’s doing the rounds. But I think I’m a bit too insensitive to write about such issues. Rapes, sexual abuse, molests, happen every single day in every nook and corner of the city and no one can do anything about it. Yeah, well, you’re probably going to go all Rang-De-Basanti on me and say, ‘Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota hai, use behtar banana padta hai. You make a change, Light candles. Protest. Strike. March. Stop eating, etc.” I honestly don’t think all this makes a difference at all.

There is absolutely no point blaming police officers or politicians or the city’s corporators for not installing enough street lights. Note that I’m not blaming the Bombay girl. I’m not even saying she invited it. (When it’s a case like this, seems like everyone is waiting to pounce on some fault that a writer commits). I’m not being a defeatist either. All I’m saying is there is no point in all this outrage after the incident has taken place.

Sure, you can probably create enough noise and make the government have the accused castrated and hanged, hoping to instill fear in future potential criminals. But if the rapists are drugged/drunk, they’re hardly going to think about laws and stop themselves. I am a photographer and a journalist myself. I know the country is unsafe as hell for girls in the dark I would never venture out into abandoned buildings in the dark without protection like pepper spray or my metal hair stick (the one Vidya Balan uses in Kahaani).  My alertness comes instinctively having lived in this country for 22 years. Of course I have been groped, molested, etc. I consider it as normal as tripping over a stone. But I make sure i crush the stone, however hard it is. It’s been a while since any guy dared to touch me and not because I dress like a man or something. I dress rather well, I think. I probably give them mean stares or just plain angry looks. I don’t know.

See, there is nothing wrong in women wanting to be able to feel free and roam around as they wish. But until the country is ready for such a thing you must do your bit to protect yourselves. Even if you have a guy with you, if five men come upon the two of you, the guy is useless. My friend, who used to walk with me on dark abandoned roads (my journalism school was situated in one such foresty, shady, location), used to tell me, “if more than three guys ever try and attack us, you just run.” He isn’t a wuss. He is big, strong and hungry to throw a few punches all the time. He was just being practical when he said that.

But having said that, it is a poor state of affairs that a woman has to wear a chastity belt to protect herself. My journalist friend, Fishy, who also happens to be a feminist says, “By all means we must take precautions, just like we would when we’re in danger, bu the point is, we must have strict laws. If, in spite of that, such criminals aren’t contained, then it’s because they know at the end of the day, the survivor will have to bear half the blame. They know the society will only tell girls to be more careful. Do I really need to put my career, my assignments and passion, all on hold because men can’t control their di***?”

Yeah, she’s one of those angry people. It’s annoying because now we have new rules in office. The editor has told the girls not to cover events that are too far away and to always travel with four or five people and not just the photographer. She said, “It’s foolish to try and be brave these days. I’m not risking it.” Well, she does have a point. No one wants to be held responsible for such issues. But I’m a loner and I don’t want to be with five other people during parties. Hmpf.

Another colleague said that they should legalise prostitution in the country. It’s like legalising marijuana right? Reduces the consumption of hard drugs like cocaine, heroin and whatever people are consuming these days. Legalise prostitution and there will be fewer rapes. But if sex is all these people want, I don’t think they’d gang up against a girl and commit such cruel acts. These men are like Prince Joffrey! They have a psychological disorder. It’s more than just sexual violence. In fact, it isn’t sex at all.

Well, I can’t really think of cruel things to do to punish these men. But if any man lays his hands on me against my will, trust me, I have watched enough Game of Thrones, to feel normal enough slitting someone’s throat and sticking their heads up on a spike and displaying it to the entire city.

Assholes.

You can buy pepper spray here. Or buy a pocket knife. Or a sword.  Or an axe.
I’d pick the last two. I can look good, like I’m from the Middle Earth or from Westeros and I can feel safe and protected.