Dec 31, 2007

2007 in review

Continuing the tradition of 2005 and 2006, it's time to work on the exercise of looking back on the year 2007. There were some areas where I focused upon very well and other areas where my focus has reduced.

1) Got enrolled to PGSEM course at IIMB this year. My dream to study in one of the best institutions has come true. The past six months have been eventful and a wonderful journey has just begun.
2) Worked on many projects at work that kept me busy throughout the year and has been a very good learning experience as well.
3) Was part of the Dream Newsletter team at Dream a Dream for three months. Took interviews of volunteers who were part of other programmes such as art, drama and summer camp. It was fun to take notes while asking questions and then creating an article out of the interview. Since my Saturdays are occupied by PGSEM classes these days, I couldn't contribute much to Dream a Dream this year.
4) Visited Kodaikkanal and Vythiri,Wayanad (first time to the Northern part of Kerala)
5) Blog updates have increased to 72 this year, thanks to my sudden outburst of writings in December. Rambled 18 English and 4 Tamil poems and 6 short stories.
6) Visited a planetarium for the first time in my life.
7) Visited my primary school after a span of 17 years. Nothing has changed - the same "big" master, my LKG school miss "Ruby". I was so glad to relive those childhood memories.
8) Went for day trips to Mysore, Shivasamudhram falls and Kotilingeshwara temple.
9) Attended driving classes and then stopped in between as I got scared to drive in Bangalore roads :-( Anyway, I'm glad atleast I learnt the basics of driving.
10) Contrary to the previous two years, my reading habit has gone down considerably.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the fitting finale)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Fake book written by an avid Harry Potter fan)
- The man-eater of Malgudi by RK Narayan
- Joker in the pack by Ritesh Sharma and Neeraj Pahlajani

My 2008 goal is to achieve balance in all areas of my life and not focus on only a few and ignore the rest.

Wishing everyone a very happy and bright new year. May 2008 be the year when your dreams become a reality :-)

Dec 20, 2007

Journey on the road

My contribution to Totally Optional prompts - Road signs redux

A journey on a road called life
mysterious signs are intuitions
crossings and speed breakers around
guiding directions are values

option to stop and relax
or take the highway and zoom past
traffic signals to regulate,
recognize and not stop aghast

Pristine beauty all around
A smooth ride it is!
Potholes and bumps abound
A rough ride it could be!

excited and energetic
dull and dragging,
continue the drive
the journey is the destination

Contradictions

My contribution to 3WW

Words for this week - clumsy, fire, overlooked

A posh car driving down 4th lane, RC Nagar in a misty morning is not something new. Ravi goes to the nearby park for a jog, parking his car right outside the main gate. Though it's hardly a kilometre from his villa, he prefers to drive down to the park and then start his jog. Switching on the heater, his fingers tapping the steering wheel for a Bryan Adams song, he feels the warmth of air swooping past his face.

The rustling noise of the broomstick from the sides of the road doesn't reach his eardrums. Or does he purposely overlook the actions of people from the rest of the society? Muthu wonders. He is an employee of the Municipality and his daily duties are to sweep the roads and streets of RC Nagar and the neighbouring areas. His sweeping of the 4th lane and observing Ravi's car taking a turn towards RC Nagar has become an everyday affair happening at the same time in the early mornings. As a sweeper, his work is never clumsy and the roads look clean after his strenuous efforts, for all the irresponsible people to throw garbage again throughout the day.

Dropping a half smoked cigarette bud, Ravi gets down his car and enters the park. The waste papers and garbage collected so far has found their purpose now. Muthu picks up the still-burning cigarette, gathers the papers together in a lump and lights up the fire. He feels the warmth in his shivering palms and places them on his swollen cheeks. Slowly the sun peeks out of the clouds, veering the temperatures of the day. After a good rest, Muthu continues his duty, with the sun giving him the needed warmth.

Dec 19, 2007

Magic

My contribution to Monday Mural

A universal language
no words spoken,
no pleasantries exchanged
no adjectives needed

intrigues every living being
the presence of a companion
hearts to share
willingness to care

realization of the soul
that someone is mine,
time stands still
a message from the divine

A sparkle in the eyes
when soul mate is around,
the magic of love
spreads peace abound

No moribund state
in its life cycle
pure bliss in eternity
an unexplainable miracle

Dec 18, 2007

Slow down

Immerse in fresh air
smell the bloomed red roses
admire the smile of an infant
feel your breathing patterns

Not a roller coaster ride
that starts and ends in a few seconds,
a graceful ballet is life
that has its own twists and turns

Reality not an ultimatum
Embrace inevitable changes,
focus not on the momentum
but every step towards the ranges

Target not the summit
as new horizons appear,
but the stones and sand
that glitter in the near

Slow and steady
says the turtle,
the rule that works
against every hurdle

Dec 16, 2007

The birthday wish

My contribution to Writer's Island - "This season"

"Ma, where is my blue bag?", shouted Sheela from her room. "I don't know, search in the cupboard" Rathi answered in a not-so-interested tone from the living room, watching a reality show on TV.

Sheela didn't mind her mom's unresponsive attitude. She has been used to such responses since her childhood. She has all the comforts in the world, a 15 year old teenager could ask for. A room of her own, a personal computer, the top-notch school that she goes to and all the books and gadgets every child would dream of. Although born on the New Year's eve, her birthday was never special. It was just another day but with a huge cake party with her parents' friends and colleagues. When Rathi was expecting a baby, she hoped and prayed fervently that her baby would be a boy. But to her utter disappointment, it turned out to be a girl. Who says gender discrimination prevails only in low income, illiterate families? There are many such upper middle class, well educated, discriminating "Rathi"s throughout the world.

Sheela was very well aware of her mother's coldness but what made her happy was her dad Diwakar's affection. She has been his little angel and gave her all the care and comfort she ever needed. When Sheela asked her dad that she would like to spend her birthday this year with her grandparents, he immediately obliged.

Her packing was almost done and she was eagerly waiting for her dad. It's an overnight journey to the village named Kishanpur. Vishnu, her grandpa has been waiting in the railway station for his son and granddaughter.

"I have to leave in 2 hours. I'm taking the day train back to Mumbai", Diwakar said to his mom Sharada who was expecting this reply. "You carry on. We have our little Sheela here for 2 weeks. We are going to have lots of fun together", Vishnu was expressing his joy.

"Grandpa, what are the places to see around in this village? Dad has got me a new digital camera as a birthday gift". "Lots of places, my dear. I can take you to some temples and then we can walk through our fields". Sharada, meanwhile served her a plate full of different home made sweets. Sheela could sense the happiness in her grandma's eyes. She hasn't stayed at her grandparents' house before, thanks to her mom's hatred towards her in-laws.

The first few days were spent in roaming around the village with both her grandparents by her side. "This is our grand-daughter", exclaimed Vishnu, though the priest in the temple never questioned who this new girl was. There were many new experiences and special moments in her first week of stay at Kishanpur - the first time she ever tasted the sweetest tender coconut water, stepped onto lush, green fields, ate her meal on top of a banana leaf and most importantly, the first time someone caressed her hair when she was falling asleep. She loved the pampering showered by her grandma and her excited and lively grandpa. She relished every moment spent in the village. She was more than happy to share her experiences in Mumbai to the awe struck villagers. Though initially hesitant, she has also made some new friends of her age in the street and also started to enjoy the new games that these kids taught her.

"Happy birthday, dear Sheela", sang her grandma and grandpa. In front of her was a dish that looked like a cake but it wasn't. "Sorry dear. We couldn't get you the normal birthday cake that you would be getting in the city. So I made this milk sweet in a round shape", blushed Sharada. "Oh grandma, this is lovely. Let me blow the candles and taste it", hurried Sheela. "First make a wish, my child", said Vishnu. Her wish was undoubtedly to spend her next birthday with such caring grandparents. This day turned out to be her best birthday ever. Although small in monetary value, the gifts from her new found friends were a treasure to her. Her grandpa has gifted her an antique violin piece." I used to play regularly but these days I'm not using it. I hope you get to learn and enjoy the music", he mentioned.

As every good thing comes to an end, so was her vacation. With lots of beautiful memories, she came back to her home in Mumbai. While unpacking, she touched the violin and could feel the presence of her grandparents. "This holiday season was the best", she started to write her diary.

Dec 14, 2007

A perfect evening

My contribution to Sunday Scribblings - #89 Dance

A culmination of music and soul
so enchanting, so pure
I sway in a trance
tapping my feet

shoulders move to the beats
hands swing to the rhythm
the enthrallment has begun,
transporting to a whole new world

I jump and rejoice,
expressions now flowing
I feel the emotions
Grateful, it's drizzling

A cool breeze to
give me company,
My palms filled with
raindrops so many

The nature's concert,
to all six senses
I dance like
a little princess

Dec 13, 2007

Unbounded life

My contribution to Totally optional prompts - Birds and bonds

Gliding into the clouds
flapping the wide wings,
Exploring the distant lands
A life so unbound

Roam around the world
Reach for the distant skies
No boundaries, no limits
A life not to belong

Love and care for the nestlings,
snuggling in its cozy nest
A harbinger of growth
A life so worthwhile

Vast blue oceans,
New unknown territories
flying with no measure
Experience meant to treasure.

Dec 12, 2007

A peaceful end

My contribution to 3 word Wednesday

Switching off the headlights,
parking his four wheeler
Closing the front door
he walks towards the lonely trail

A dark, muddy, less-trodden path
Spooky, freaking noises
Carefully taken footsteps
Wandering, fearful eyes

Destiny unknown
Direction unclear
Lands in a virtual land
at the end of the world

No armor to shield
faces the worst fear
brainwaves at the fastest speed
peaceful death so near

Dec 11, 2007

The moment

My contribution to Writer's Island prompt - The moment

A sunny morning
an anxious beginning
Will I get through?
to be part of software crew

To make myself stand out
prayers chanted loud,
Shutting down other choices
Ruling out external noises

The deciding moment
no room to repent,
heart pumps fast
adrenalin flows aghast

no reason to sob,
I got my first job
The offer is mine,
pay myself to dine

freedom to stand
on my own feet,
the turning point
a memorable feat

Dec 9, 2007

Joker in the pack

Another interesting, light-hearted fiction in the lines of "Five point someone". This time, it's not about the IITs but the IIMs, specifically IIM Bangalore. As a present student of IIMB, I could relate to many of the instances and characters. But it would be more appropriate for full time PGP students/alumni since it reflects on one of the important phases of their lives.

This story captures the exact emotions and ambitions of a typical middle class family and the relatives' pressures, how a kid's life turns topsy turvy with the board exams and engineering days, how the peer pressures impact one's daily life etc. The subtle humour is really good at some places. The storyline is very easy to relate by someone who has passed school in the late 1990s like me. This is definitely one interesting book to read on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

The protogonist Shekhar Verma and his adventure in various places in UP on account of his summer placements is very well narrated. The interviews during placements were gripping and I was hoping that our hero gets through. It's all a happy ending except for the split between the hero and the heroine Anoushka.

"Joker in the pack" is not as humourous as 'Five point someone" but I would definitely recommend it to someone who enjoys stories based on school and college life.

Competition

My contribution to Sunday Scribblings #88 - Competition

A benchmark to accomplish,
A horizon to reach
A milestone to target,
A landmark to set

Doesn't end there,
Compete with full spirit
The bar set high,
There is no limit

Takes you to new heights
and achieve new targets,
Healthy competition
creates a perfect mission

Realize your full potential
with a never-give-up attitude
Challenge your self today
for a better tomorrow

for without competition,
Minutes are dragging
Days are boring
Life is never soaring

Aim for the pinnacle
and way around obstacles,
If it's worth a fight
Never let go off your sight

Dec 7, 2007

Seven traditions

My contribution to Cafe Writing - December project (Option six)

I would like to relate the word "tradition" with the different festivals that we celebrate throughout the year.

1) Diwali (festival of lights) is our favorite festival that we look forward to every year. We buy new clothes for everyone in the family, put a small mark using vermilion on the edges and place them in the Pooja (prayer) area, on the eve of Diwali. It's a traditional way to thank God for the new clothes.

2) Another special festival is Saraswathi (Goddess of wisdom) Pooja, the ninth day of Dussehra (a 10 day festival in October). We keep our textbooks, pens, pencils and other tools in the Pooja area and then offer prayers. The textbooks remain in the Pooja area for the whole day. As kids, we loved this tradition because of the fact that we don't have to study the whole day.

3) Bhogi is an interesting occasion in the month of January. During childhood, I used to love celebrating Bhogi with my grandfather. This day is marked by burning old and unwanted stuff on the streets early morning and playing a set of small drums. My grandpa would bring all sorts of junk items from the nook and corner of the house and dump them into the fireplace. We used to be astonished with the amount of junk he has been collecting over the year. As I grew up, I became aware of the extent of pollution this tradition was causing and I stopped celebrating Bhogi. Nevertheless, those times that I had spent with my grandpa were memorable.

4) Bhogi is followed by another festival, Pongal. Though this festival is celebrated in a grand manner in the villages, we, the city dwellers miss all the action. The only ritual that we practice is to make Pongal (a sweet dish made out of rice, pulses and jaggery) and shout "Pongalo Pongal" while the dish starts to boil. I've been continuing this habit ever since I started cooking myself.

5) Do you want to see if you have committed any sins in the past year? Then Vaikunda Ekadesi is the perfect day to get those estimates. We play "snake and ladder" that day and whoever falls as a prey for the big snake is the one who has committed many sins. Interesting, isn't it? I still have the traditional snake and ladder board and the special dice that we roll to play this game.

6) The best festival to satisfy your tastebuds is Krishna Jayanti that falls sometime in the month of August. Lots of sweets and savories prepared over a span of three days and stacked neatly in huge boxes!! The waft of the sweet smell would pervade the entire kitchen for those three days but we couldn't taste those preparations until the prayers were offered. I also liked to create the imprints of baby footsteps to mark the arrival of Lord Krishna.

7) Last but not the least, I love the entire month of Margazhi (between Dec 15th and Jan 14th) for the perfect cool weather and the divine renditions of Thiruppaavai in the nearby temple early morning. I used to make colourful kolams (designs made in front of the house using rice flour and colours), wearing a scarf to beat the cold and listening to the songs being played. I used to maintain a book full of different kolam designs and always wanted my kolam to be the best in the whole street. This habit is almost gone these days and I wish I could revive it someday soon.

Dec 6, 2007

Tradition

My contribution to Cafe Writing - December project (Option five)

I loved this challenge. I wrote this poem in 9 minutes (between 10:01 AM and 10:10 AM) and haven't edited it. I know this is not a good one but I hope I will get better at it soon, with more practice.

Tradition
not something that you follow
not something that you crib
not something you adapt
not something you adjust

Tradition
a binding love force
a proud realization,
turns monotonies into
fun and laughter

Tradition
celebrating festivals
family time together,
meals and delicacies
on a certain platter

Tradition
something to remind
for years to pass by,
something to carry forward
for generations to come

Tradition
defines one's character
with principles and values,
designs a game of life
with expectations and surprises

Tradition
loved by everyone
but rare to accept,
will to follow
but lazy to admit

Tradition
Converts diversity
into unity
Converts singleton
into groups

Dec 5, 2007

Necessary ritual

My contribution to Cafe Writing - December project (Option four)

"Sumi, where's my coffee?", Shyam's first question in the morning as always. "On the dining table", replied Sumathi, his wife. He savours his coffee with another of his can't-live-without habits, reading newspaper ofcourse. Shyam has always been an early riser. Sharp at 5 AM, he is awake and bustling with energy. His next course of action is to walk to the nearby CM Park and jog along with his friends. He likes to observe the different people who visit the park and their mannerisms - some prefer to walk briskly while some others prefer to take a lazy stroll. Being a regular for the past 28 years, many of them recognize him and offer a smile.

He quickly gets dressed up after coming back from the park. He heads straight to the Pooja (prayer) room to offer his daily prayers. "Breakfast ready", Sumathi's voice echoed from the kitchen. After a sumptuous breakfast, Shyam leaves for office, waving goodbye to his wife. The clock struck 8 AM. These 3 hours are preprogrammed into his system. He knows exactly where he will be and what he would be doing. Such was the schedule he has been following for the last 28 years. He is very happy about this and always believed that this jump start every morning has been the secret behind his success. He is a senior manager at a reputed multinational bank.

It's a different story today. Although the schedule is the same, it doesn't give him the jump start as it used to be. He is happy about his retirement and glad that he gets to spend more time with his family. But he is wondering what he is going to do starting from tomorrow. No more excitement, no more monthly paychecks, no more jump start routine. Sumathi completely understands his feelings and doesn't want her hubby to get a post-retirement syndrome and become depressed.

Sending good-bye emails, meeting his friends at office, settling all the financial matters and a big farewell party - the day that just swooped past him in a jiffy. He returns home with lots of gifts and good wishes but a feeling of emptiness inside.

Opening the door, he realizes that his house is completely dark. "No power? Sumi! where are you?", Shyam enters the living room. He notices a candle glowing in the store room. There is dead silence and he is starting to get freaked out. He enters the store room. "Surprise!", shouts Sumathi from the corner of the room, switching on the lights. He's in fact expecting this surprise from his wife and knows that there will be a cake in the middle of the room, having known her for the past 30 years. But that's not the case this time.

The room is looking colourful, with the two opposite walls in splashing red. A painting board is standing pruodly with lots of brushes and paint colors around in the corner where Sumathi is admiring her hubby's reaction. In the other corner, there is a huge book shelf with classics that Shyam used to love reading once upon a time. He also notices that his computer has been shifted to this room from his study. "Who told you that you are retired, Shyam? Your work from today onwards is to renew your painting hobby and also get immersed in classics and other books that you loved to read. I want to see you here in this special room every morning at 8 AM. All right?", Sumathi expresses her wish to her dear hubby. Shyam is happy that he doesn't need to give up his necessary morning ritual. Just because he is retired from the bank, it doesn't mean that he is retired from life! He is now looking forward to restart his painting hobby after 28 years. Life is colourful again, thanks to Sumathi.

A new beginning

My contribution to Cafe Writing - December project (Option three)

Sun rays at dawn
piercing the skin
awakening the senses
touching the soul

Bird flock from the nest
aiming for a new horizon
The blooming white jasmines
adorning my flower garden

A cool breeze
through the window
the wafting aroma
of fresh coffee

Gift of a new day
not a mere ritual,
but a miracle of hope
microcosm of peace

Dec 4, 2007

The present

Winter at its full bloom,
Nothing better than a warm room
Distant fields in complete mist
Only the clock ticks in the wrist

Time stands still
welcoming the festivities,
Colours of Christmas
and a hope for a new year

Time to dream
Moments to relish,
with loved ones
hours to cherish

This beautiful month
has lots to offer,
Everyone's waiting for
the cool December!

Dec 3, 2007

Not to be ignored

My contribution to Cafe Writing - December project (Option two)

I have the power
to face boldly
the commanding heights,
the worst fears

A small stature
but a larger than life image
one single move
can make the enemy rage

Not to be ignored
I trip the opponent
I initiate the first move
I win close contests

Arsenals of attack
can become useless
So many options
at my defense

One step at a time,
my king in his prime
in the life game of chess
I'm the impeccable pawn

Dec 2, 2007

ஏன் இந்த அவசரம்? (Why such a hurry?)

I hope all those rash drivers who only know to honk and cause chaos on the roads because of their impatient and arrogant attitude are reading this poem.

பொறுமை இழந்த மனிதா
எதற்காக இத்தனை அவசரம்
இரவுநேர அமைதிப்பொழுதில்
எதற்காக ஒலி எழுப்புகிறாய்
நடந்து சோர்ந்த கால்கள்
ஓய்வு கேட்கவில்லையா?
வேலை செய்யாத கைகள்
சுறுசுறுப்பாகி விட்டனவா?
பகுத்தறிவு இழந்த மனம்
கல்வியால் மாறிவிடாது
எறும்புகள் கடைபிடிக்கும் குணம்
எக்காரணத்தாலும் மறைந்து விடாது
பொறுமை ஒருநெல்லிக்கனி
அதன் விளைவுகள்
ஒரு நிமிடத்தில்
கறைவதில்லை
ஒரு நொடி வேகத்தால்
ஒரு வாழ்வை
இருட்டி விடாதே!
ஒரு அலை கோபத்தால்
உன்னை நீ
இழந்து விடாதே!

A rough translation in English

The one who has lost patience
Why you are in such a hurry?
Is there a reason to honk
in this quiet, peaceful night?

Doesn't your swollen feet
demand you for some rest?
or does your inactive hands
want to be busy?

Your mind with no common sense
will not change with your education
The discipline followed by ants
will never change for any reason

Patience is like a gooseberry
It's effects
doesn't vanish
in a minute

Let your one second of speed
not darken another's life
Let your one splash of anger
not make you lose yourself

A moment that could have been

My contribution to Cafe Writing - December project (Option one)

Does her effulgent smile claim that she has the whole world's happiness? One might ponder. Her glistening eyes and the joyful look on her face might reemphasize that she is the happiest person one has ever met. She is returning home with lots of stories to tell her dad. Her new friends, her class teacher, the black board and the different colour chalk pieces, the school bell, the text books and pencils - she wonders where to start. A new experience for the 3 year old, Shrishti. It's her first day at school.

Her dad, Prakash is a postman and wants the best for his daughter. Shrishti is his only source of happiness in his struggle to get ends meet. He has faced many twists and turns in his life but today, the turn he takes towards RC Road prove to be a bad twist in little Shrishti's happiness. The speeding car, with no respite for traffic signal hits his bicycle and he collapses in the middle of the road. His vision starts to blur and memories of his childhood starts to kindle. How his life was shattered after his father's death! He has to live for Shrishti. He cannot see his little daughter suffer.

Sparks of conviction and will power bring him up his feet. He gets up and looks at the world staring at him, with no one to offer him a helping hand. He has been delivering mails for so long but today, there is no one to deliver a message to the nearby clinic. With blood oozing from his left side of the face, he starts to walk. A little girl in her bicycle comes by that way. She is appalled by the observing crowd and rushes towards Prakash with her handkerchief. Some of them, clearly embarrassed offers to take him to a doctor.

Lying on the hospital bed, he prays that nothing serious has happened to himself and he can get back to work soon. He sees Shrishti standing next to the door, with tears gleaming from her eyes. She walks towards him and brushes his hair softly. The magical touch of his daughter feels a bliss to Prakash. Seeing her smiling face, he knows he is perfectly fine. "Dad, this is the picture I drew in my class today", she showed a piece of paper proudly. The happy moments are back but on a different note, those could have been stolen by the rash car driver.

Walk

My contribution to Sunday Scribblings #87 - Walk

free steps
swaying hands
relaxed shoulders
gentle motion

I walk
towards my destiny
I smell
red roses

Fully blossomed
on either side
with dew drops
stay abide

blushing towards
the reddish sun
blossoming in
serene beauty

My legs rejoice
my heart enjoys
my eyes glisten
my face brightens

birds in harmony
reciting a symphony,
"morning's here
fly with no fear"

The woods
feel fresh
I dance
and relish

my best buddy
offered by nature,
my everyday walk
on this green pasture

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