Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Day 11 - The city that means home

You know a while back I had started this section on the blog called Out of Focus.

Let us revive that as a part of this 30-day challenge, shall we?

Kochi Backwaters

This photo was taken two years ago when I was on board my father’s ship. He happened to be posted in Kochi during that time and we as a family grabbed the chance to spend one entire day on board.
Boy, was it fun! We had a grand guided tour of the ship followed by a lovely meal.  Post which, my sister and I watched the dolphins from the deck, and waved at almost every other ship that passed by.
(Of course I also bullied her into posing for photos at almost every nook and corner.)

The day came to an end sooner than we expected and this was the last shot I could manage before sunset.

Isn't she a beauty?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Day 10 - Hang on Jon Snow

I remember writing about this particular sitcom that I was addicted to.  But then that was before GRRM's masterpiece.

For those who know me well or even others who may have spent a ‘considerable’ amount of time with me would know how much I LOVE this show. (to the point of obsession, really. :-I)

And good for me some of my closest friends feel the same too. About those who never had anything to do with it, well I converted them. Now they are hooked too.  *Evil Laugh*

In case you just scoffed at what you read above, I suggest you begin by watching the History and Lore videos. A sheer delight to watch, these videos are true examples of story telling at its best.

Huh? You never enjoyed reading mythology and fantasy while growing up?

Not even a single story from Amar Chitra Katha sparked your interest?


But then again, nothing beats watching the actual show.  As I type this, Episode 7 awaits.

Hang on Jon Snow, I pray you don’t get on that mighty ship.
Till I settle on my yielding throne, armed with cuppa and chips.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Day 9 - The Estranged Taxi Driver

One thing I really miss in this city is a Metro. Not that finding a taxi here is difficult or anything, but sometimes you are forced to ride with drivers who are garrulous and tend to ask you a zillion questions about your nationality, your place of stay, etc.

Thankfully the rules here are pretty strict that they wouldn’t think of pulling any stunt (touchwood!) or they would face the music BIG time. Not just one or two, it’s their only 4367 questions that you have to put up with. Not all are this way, but some can drive you nuts. (The intention is not to generalize.)

I remember this one particular taxi that I got into in front a popular supermarket.  The driver appeared silent at first. As luck would have it, I was on phone with my dad and he immediately realized that we shared a common mother tongue. And the questions began as soon as I hung up. He started by asking me where I am from, what I do, my family members etc. I answered the first two questions very curtly but I pretended like I am busy after that and ignored him completely, hoping he would get the message.

Somehow he didn’t seem to care, he only wanted to talk. I didn’t budge and pretended to be on the phone. But that didn’t have any effect. It was as if he just wanted a human being to be there to listen. He started with his childhood in Kerala and went on to talk about his family members, their lives and what not. I lied that I had other appointments and asked him to drive faster.

Suddenly out of nowhere he started talking about wars and began raving about some political parties that he supported during his college years. Then he started taking names of global leaders and abusing them. Before I could ask him to shut up, he turned around and asked me if I knew to make bombs!!

He said that he knew and he has taught many in his hometown how to make them. Warfare ran in his blood he claimed. He referred to a few global tragedies and said those folks who were bombed deserved it. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I had to get out. I asked him to stop immediately, handed him the fare and got out.

He didn’t seem affected at all. Not one iota of regret or surprise or shock. Nothing! With absolute nonchalance, he took the fare and wished me a pleasant day!

I walked away as fast as I could.

These days I make it a point to carry the most valuable weapon of self-defence while traveling alone –  ear phones.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Day 8 - Remembering Gita

The year was 2012 and we both happened to be staying at the same place in Jersey city.  

I first met Gita at the hotel lobby one evening when I was back from work. If I remember clearly, she was enquiring about a taxi service with the receptionist. It was my second or third day in a foreign land and I was happy to chat up with any Indian who appeared to be in the same shoe that I was – Alone and traveling on work.

Forthright and unfussy, she was a Godsend while I nursed bad bouts of jetlag and homesickness.

We chatted for some time and Gita helped me familiarize myself with the hotel facilities and the neighbourhood. She assisted me with  basic cooking and accompanied me to super markets and taught me how to spot a good bargain.  It was Gita who introduced me to Google Voice calling and till this day I use it for all my ISD calls. (Yep, I didn’t even have a smartphone then. Don’t ask me why! ) I was thrilled beyond words then to be able to speak to my family and friends, and that too everyday with such ease. In short bumping into her helped me get over my homesickness.
Later as the days grew by, I began to feel absolutely at home and every weekend I would be out visiting friends in Jersey or out sightseeing in NYC. Gita used to  travel a lot on work and I barely saw her during weekends.

One weekend when we both were in the hotel at the same time, we decided to spend the day together. It was a fun day! We took numerous photos by the water-front in Jersey city. Took the subway to Times Square and visited Madame Tussauds, and saw our first 4D movie. .

She asked me if I would mind having a meal with her at the Saravana Bhavan in Manhattan. (Truth be told, the last thing on my mind was an Indian restaurant during my first week in the US of A. I was thinking of trying some pretzels, bagels and a hotdog, maybe? ) Such humble and kind-hearted people are not easy to come by. I said "YES" in a heartbeat. For a pure vegetarian like her there was no better option than a nice mini meal cooked to perfection, just like how it was made at her home in Chennai.  (You will be interested to know that we had to wait for 30 minutes for a table.)
That was the only weekend we got to spend together. Her stay in the US ended within one month of my reaching there and she eagerly waited for the last day to arrive. Gita was one of those who had to travel very often to the West on work and she had grown tired of it and missed her family and homemade food terribly.  

We exchanged emails shortly after we both reached India. Soon we got engulfed in our own lives and the trip of course became a distant memory.
While rummaging through some old photographs the other day she came to my mind and I instantly searched for the old mail thread and dropped her a note. Unfortunately it bounced back. I tried to search for her on social media, but so far no luck.

Gita, this one is for you.

Trust you are keeping well  in whichever part of the world you are and doing what you do best.

Putting a smile on someone's face.



Thursday, May 14, 2015

Day 7 - Move over Interstellar

“ Why are you so complicated? You know the next Christopher Nolan movie is going to be about you!!!”


I laughed so hard during that argument. I can’t even seem to remember what it was about.

Here’s to many more years of laughter and of course, movies.

Happy Anniversary Sweets.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Day 6 - Lessons in Positivity

I am big fan of podcasts and videos, and not to mention TedX Talks.

While I shall post a list of my favourite talks on this site one day,  today I want you to watch this video as it is really heart-warming.

 Kudos to Lakshmi Rebecca and her team for this fantastic idea and of course “Margarita with a straw” just got added to my list of movies to watch.  It’s amazing how free-spirited and resilient Deepa is.

The video took me back to all the times that I have visited the ladies orphanage where my mother volunteers. Unlike Deepa here, those women were left at the orphanage as their families had no means to look after them.

I have not seen a more cheerful bunch of women.  I still remember this one time when I was visiting, they all got together and sang a song for me that they had heard on the radio. I was so overwhelmed with the gesture that I felt my eyes moisten.

The best lessons in positivity often come from unexpected quarters.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Day 5 – Observations

How many WhatsApp groups are you a part of?

I have lost track.

They normally fall under these two buckets -  Groups where actual conversations happen. Groups which exist only to share photos, videos and 'Good-Morning' quotes.

The latter of course is the most active when you are typing an important e mail at work.

That aside.

If you pay close attention, you will notice that the "participants" who are the most active, who are a storehouse of photos and videos, are the ones who truly want to talk, to someone, anyone.

Yet they prefer to hide behind technology. And sadly, no one pauses to ask why.



Thursday, May 7, 2015

Day 4 - Finding Serendipity

Gosh. I still can’t believe I made it to Day 4!

Anyhoo, before I take a quick break for the weekend.

Here is a true story on Finding Serendipity.

See y’all on the other side.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Day 3 - Xtend Barre-ed

So I went ahead and signed up for this new type of workout.

Talk about the ultimate test of flexibility!

Oh and to add to that, there were two pregnant women who seemed to be more at ease than the majority of us in that room.  (I am convinced pregnancy does give one super powers.)

Thankfully, the second class was waaaaaay smoother than the first. And I came back home completely satisfied of having worked those muscles. Woot!

Apparently this total-body workout is in the news as well these days. The next fitness fad?

Well it is pilates, yoga and ballet. All rolled into one.

Exhaustive much? ;)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Day 2 - Yet another favourite book

I read this book last year and it immediately became a favourite.

I usually stumble upon books via blogs, Goodreads, personal recommendations, etc. But this one sparked my interest due to the movie trailer .  (Have I ever mentioned that I frequent IMDB to browse through trailers before I decide which one to download?)

And yes, I watched the movie after I read the book.  I urge you to do the same.

I do not want to review the book here as there are already zillions of reviews available online. But I sure can tell you that I am in awe of the author’s unsurmountable level of grit and faith. 

Cheryl Strayed is an excellent story teller and if you did enjoy her writing, you may find this interesting.

But what really stayed with me is her plainspeak here.

“Go above your nerve”


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Day 1 - Just like that

Exhaustion had become her. Almost every cell in her limbs had begun to cry out loud in protest.
Barely a gulp of water left, she reeled under the heat of the feisty sun.
Almost there, Almost done……..she told herself in quite whispers.
In case you are wondering what the above is about, allow me to explain.

This is what happens:

  • When you sit on your butt for 1 whole month with barely any exercise (walking around in an overcrowded mall for 4 hours straight to find that perfect pair of jeans obviously DIDNOT count) and then you wake up one morning filled with remorse and you decide to go for a run.

  • When you don’t write for ages together and then when you start, you cannot stop till you make it sound sufficiently (overly) dramatic.
In other news, I decided to challenge myself to write for 30 days ( Ahem. hopefully continuously!) starting today.
I really truly badly madly deeply hope to survive this one.