Sunday, October 26, 2014


Let me explain...
I begin; Trying
to explain all I'm thinking
To my mind.....

Where do I start? 
I think..
No its not about where
Its about what to

Thoughts..Few linger on;
While others are blips.
Like those electric pulses;
Pulses are they...

Like a movie teaser..
Showing up enough to 
get that attention
Wanting you to scratch it make meaning out of it

Why is it lacking 
Depth? Fear of realization
Or fear of
Admittance..the thoughts
Trigger action..

I am not ready for yet..
The thoughts..
Raising questions and further
Thoughts; look beyond those rosy glasses

I'm pursued, but they don't 
Wait..for me to grab them
One ending before the other begin
All over.

Spaghetti of Thoughts....

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Understanding People

Well, such an ironical subject. People who know me well might just think that as they read the title. I know of folks who have been trying to understand me - the way I've been trying to understand some other folks.

Ways of world. Human beings - species blessed with power of expression and reasoning. We can talk, enact, write, read, paint...oh whatever ways we can to express. Unlike other creatures of the world. Yet....we are so complex to fathom.

If I see a dog; I can make out if he or she is relaxed, happy, angry or just tired. Its one dimensional. What you see is whats in its brain. So easy! I look at Gypsy's eyes and I know what he is upto. Alas! why should it be so complicated with us?

Oh! nothing that has happened with me to be despaired of. Its just that I am beginning to realise no amount of reading and understanding human behaviour is ever enough. A harmless action can make a person hide in a shell. A minor misunderstanding can change a relationship forever. Sometimes; even a harmless expression can be understood in the most different way possible and change the course of conversation. And sometimes even a straight forward confession still can't change someone's heart.

I was chatting with a friend last night. I know this person for a while now and trust me; I've neglected at times and behaved bad and yet this person has "some hopes" on me. Don't ask me what? I should be ashamed since I am not worthy of being in good books of this person who thinks highly of me.

But thinking about it; I have been like this person at some point in life or maybe I am one right now hoping for someone else to be the way I desire. Now isn't this the fundamental problem?

Desiring someone else to be the way you want them to be? Wanting them to live a life and behave the way you would like? Isn't that what sets that endless loop of expectations and hopelessness? Be it any form of relationships - parents-child, boyfriend - girlfriend, spouse, friends.....

But yeah, its not that these things happen in a day. Take a case of parent disappointed in his child for not choosing a career of the parent's choice. Let the parent be the father here and the child his daughter. Now the father does everything the daughter wants and does without even having her to seek; only with the hope that she will one day honour his wishes because he has done everything for her. Now isn't that such a false hope? Why should it be that way?

Is it correct for one to go out of the way to do everything for a crush and then expect her to show the gratefulness in the form of love? The way it happens in our movies? Seems ridiculous when we watch it on screen with those dance and songs and colourful dresses isn't it? But thats what happens day in and day out in each of our lives - minus the songs and drama.

Its not difficult to understand people at all! Its just difficult to tame our desires - Hopeless!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Here is the Taxi Driver - Orlando

One of the best things about travel is you meet interesting people - I've mentioned this earlier as well. The most ordinary turn out to be a gem; having stories to share with you and then you form that bond forever. Maybe you won't meet again but then; these short but memorable encounters are enough to carry that along with you.

One such person I met was Orlando. I had just 4 days to spend at Pittsburgh. I got to hire Orlando's taxi only on the second day. The hotel called for a taxi service and Orlando was waiting for me at the lobby one morning to drop me to office. That first trip was kind of irritating when it started. He didn't want to follow the GPS. When I stopped him to take left at the highway; he was like No! Thats not the route. I was wondering where is this guy taking me and how much should I shell out. But he found a shorter route and I paid half the charge! He gave me tips to recommend the same route to other taxis. He asked me why I don't drive. I said its been a while driving on the right side. Back in India we drive on the left. He said he felt it hard when he visited Japan and he had to drive on the left. He kept going to his right. I insisted he share his number with me since I was planning on going around downtown on weekend. That evening I mentioned my plan of going to downtown the next day and he fetch me around 8 AM.

Saturday - the distance to downtown was about 35 miles and we had good enough time to chat up. He asked me where I was going. I said I will start with Carnegie Museum of Natural History and thereon roam around the downtown. He said he was a truck driver transporting Dinosaur bones to the museum many times but he hasn't stepped inside the museum yet. He said how lot of people have talked good stuff about the museum and have recommended it.

He said Yeah one day, I am going to land up there. Not to watch those dinosaurs. But as bones myself with a plaque that reads "Here is the taxi driver". I thought that was so different of him. This guy was someone who has his head straight. Not an iota of arrogance or ignorance.

We talked about his childhood; he was more than willing to share. Originally from Puerto Rico - a Spanish living in Pittsburgh Cranberry Township for 7 years now. I said that was why he knew the place so well and that he was able to find a shorter route to my office. He said yes but downtown was still unknown to him. He has to rely on GPS. He finds it very different from Puerto Rico here. He goes to Puerto Rico once in 2 years and stays there for about a couple of weeks but after a week or so he finds himself like fish out of water now that he has got to used to life in US

He loves the tropical climate; weary of winters in this place. He also added about how he has traveled his fair share. That got me more interested and on prodding he said he has been in Japan, all of Southern Europe - England, Spain, Portugal, Italy...and north of Africa. He likes to spear fish in the ocean back in his village. How lake fishing is so ordinary and that he misses fishing. He also mentioned how as a kid he liked to travel and always wondered sitting by the ocean what lied beyond the horizon. And he did find out, didnt he? Growing up and traveling his bit around the world.

He likes to take a multiple hop flight when going to Puerto Rico and generally during day time. He simply likes to see the land from high above during flight take off and landing. This was a man who had a different persona if you looked beyond the taxi driver that he was.

When I said I have visited Costa Rica and that I loved the rain forests. He laughed and said "People come from far off to see the rain forests. And its our backyard in Peurto Rico" He was so fond of his travel sojourns. He said "Either people were very nice to him or wanted to kill him"

This man was someone who just lost himself; went with the flow and experienced great things in life. He guided me on the route to take back and if possible he could pick me up that evening. I called him in the evening, but he was busy with other clients and so I took another taxi. But we had already made arrangements that he would be the one dropping me to the airport the next day.

So the next day he was prompt at 4 PM at the lobby and gave me a call. He asked me how my day went by the previous day. He asked what all did I do and what I liked the best. He seemed to be happy with my choice of places I visited. He particularly asked me about my visit to Carneige museums and Duquesne Incline. On the way to airport; he said about the clients he had the previous evening. Guys from Texas on a visit. They were generous and tipping him a lot. In a mood to play and flirt; he knew these guys are going to get into trouble and so after dropping them at a pub; put a word to the security guard about these guys - that they are out of town and harmless. In case they got into trouble; not to report to the cops but call him and he would pick them up.

As expected; it seemed those guys picked up a fight and the guard called Orlando and said "As you expected!" . He picked them up and dropped them back in the hotel. How it was a busy day and he worked until 3 AM. He has been promising his wife that he would reach home by 4 PM each day and that she was angry with him. Today; being Sunday; he just came to drop me and once he is done with me, he would go back home and rest.

On the way, we came across a motor cycle rider on the freeway. He showed his displeasure on how these guys misuse freedom. "Freedom to being stupid" is what he said. There are these people on the road who drive bad or drive under influence. He showed me one car on the next lane and the driver was drinking. He pointed to a truck ahead and said "These guys are best. They follow rules. Guys like the ones you saw who drink and ram against trucks - they are culprits. But when anything happens; the truck guys are the ones blamed. They are in fact the best trained". I said I agreed to his point and thats common in India as well.

We talked a bit about my flight back. How long it would take. He was stunned to hear 18+ hrs. It takes 4 hours for him to go to Puerto Rico. I told him about the pilot strike at Paris and wished I could've taken Emirates via Dubai. He asked if I am not afraid of terrorists. I explained how UAE and Dubai are safe and Emirates is one of the best option to fly.

We parted ways. He asked me to contact him the next time I was in Pittsburgh. I did confess that he was a unique taxi driver to have met and that I would need a photo of his. I would write about him. So he posed for a picture. Here is Orlando.

Some people strike a chord with you to last a lifetime even if the interaction was just few minutes or hours. Orlando was one.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Travel - An Ordeal

Travel does not have to be all happy and pleasant always. Though there are those weariness of long journey and waiting time; they don't count as an ordeal.

I had to make a short business trip to the United States 2 weeks ago. I knew it was going to be a hectic schedule. I had to visit 2 offices located in different states and meet up with many people. Count the long flying time and jet lag. I was prepared for it and just wanted to finish the trip off. But few incidents that occurred was entirely out of my control and everything that could go wrong; happened in this trip.

To start with; I was pulled aside for secondary screening at the port of entry in Boston. The officer at the counter seemed terse; it was unlike all my previous experience in the US. But I thought it was just a trivial thing. After going over my documents, asking "stupid" questions, picked on my job profile and allegedly telling I came for job purpose...He scanned my finger prints; he mentioned I was to go through one more screening. I said ok and reached out for my passport. He didn't give it to me; just said "Just stand against that wall"

Now - it didn't feel good at all. How much ever they claim its a routine random check; being sided when others just walk is a bad feeling. Another office asked me to go with him and he took my passport  along. We went one floor down towards secondary screening room. A door of thick steel that opens with combination of numbers - now I've read about such security systems in lot of Fredrick Forsyth's novel.

Anyway; I was made to sit and there were few others - Africans, Asians, Muslims. In no time; another office called out my name and I went towards him. Seated behind a desk; hidden by a monitor; he started asking me questions after questions. Very rude! There is nothing called as humanity. Twisting and turning; repeating the same questions over and over again, trying to pick on even simple words like "live", "stay"....Threatened me a few times that he will have to put me on a flight back to India and that I am making it difficult for him and myself.

I was then told to bring my bags. I went out and brought my bags and the door was not opened for 5 minutes. When it was finally opened; that guy took me into another room and made me sit on an old wooden chair. He was particular I sit on that chair. Frisked my bags - everything that was in there; right from my panties and brasseries and sanitary pads. Not only such things are humiliating; it makes you wonder what these folks gain out of all these?

Heights of cruelty; not giving a thought that someone has flew long hours and probably its their sleeping time. The questions continued. He alleged that I was giving different answers. At one point I lost it and said "Look, if you want specifics; please ask me specific questions. You keep repeating the same questions over and over again and it doesn't help". To which he said that was his job.

I was made to share phone numbers of folks who I'll be reporting to. Asked more about my company and why I was here after so many years. What would've happened to the project without me traveling there; aren't there folks who can do what I do here? They did end up talking to a couple of my peers and then concluded I am not a "suspect"

By then, I was so tired and bored that I started to read my book. Oh! few questions were so silly - 9 days but you've got 3 books with you! just 9 days and you have a woollen cap with you. Why the umbrella? Why via Boston? No direct flight to Raleigh from Paris? After around an hour; my passport was stamped and I was told I can stay for the meetings. I didn't even acknowledge; I just walked out.

There was an old Europen couple and the man asked "why are we being detained?" To which - an officer said "You have entered the United States". The behaviour was notorious and it was like they are above the law and can frisk and question anybody who've entered their territory. At the moment; I wanted to say "Thanks! But I have made up my mind not to be here anymore. Please put me on any flight back home". That would've made about that officer, isn't it?

I am angry, humiliated and insulted. At the same time; I pitied them - all in the name of freedom? Whose freedom? What freedom are you talking about?

So this was while going to US. The stay was hectic; had to meet so many folks and there was no time. Overall it was fruitful. While coming back; it was another kind of an ordeal.

The flight from Pittsburgh to Paris was Delta that code shared with Air France. After flying for 4 hours into the Atlantic; they decided to deviate to the nearest airport at Gander, Canada due to a medical emergency. A person passed out and he was in pain. Unfortunate incident; for the rest of us it was going to be delayed landing, missed connections and so on.

After getting the sick person off and refuelling; the flight resumed. 7 hrs became 12 hrs and my connection to Bangalore from Paris had just 2 hrs time. Obviously; I missed my connection having landed in Paris 3 hrs into my flight take off. After going through the wait; got allotted a Jet Airways that was flying 9 hrs later. Loitered around the airport for a good hour and settled at a place sitting Chai Latte. The sight at the airport was nice. A bright cherry red piano on which few folks played, a group of Jews praying before boarding to a Tel Aviv flight.

So yeah; stranded and finally boarded the Jet Airways flight to Mumbai and from there on to Bangalore. I checked many times and they assured me of safe arrival of my baggage. However; in Mumbai the baggages didn't arrive with the flight. Complaints raised, by then I was tired and sick of all this. Took the flight to Bangalore.

The baggages arrived 2 days later; I wasn't convinced when they promised but all that ends well, is well.

Hmmm...what else is remaining to go through during a travel?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Why I Travel

Travel - It lightens me up. Anyone who has interacted with me face to face will notice my eyes twinkling and a slight smile at the mere mention of travel. My mind races, my heart skips a beat, I get the sensation of falling in love. Travel! that is orgasmic!

I have good set of contacts on Facebook; those include few of my peers. Some of them are meeting me after a couple of years. I am to discuss with them on important projects and the next steps. Instead; what we ended up talking is about my travel sojourns. I am told "Oh! are you wondering why I am not bringing in work related talks? Don't worry, we talk about it all the time. We can chat over phone as well. But this one! I want to hear from you" I was prodded "Oh tell me more about it". An array of questions and exclamations...

The places you go are unusual.

Don't you get scared?

How do you choose them?

Do you travel alone or groups?

Package tour?

But isn't travelling expensive?

Do you like architecture?

What kind of places do you like to visit?

Whats the best place you've been to?

Please share the snaps....

Folks are in awe and they exclaim how they want to be like me. And hearing me, they feel what are they doing sitting in an office and going back home day to day. They feel that I am the chosen one! that awe that surrounds me when I speak about my travels. They feel its not something everybody can do. It does make me feel blessed; to be having that mad guts to go extremes and plunge into traveling the way others could only dream of.

If you ask me; this is no big deal. You just have to start. I tell them how its not expensive. They have their opinions which I agree. In our Indian culture; travel has never been considered an educational experience. Its been luxurious indulgence - the best king side bed, princely breakfast, chauffeur driven vehicles and selective places to sight see with that familiar set of people whom you have been comfortable with. Always on the guard, not talking to any other unknown folks, not wanting to tread the unknown - be it the food, exploring a city or talking to locals. A colleague mentioned an interesting phrase for that kind of tours which I refrain from mentioning here since it could be racial. I've met young kids who take 6 to an year break; go travel and earn their own money doing odd jobs to fund travel before they get to university. Isn't that the greatest experience in life? Well, we haven't been brought up that way. We are supposed to be preparing for IITs and JEEs and SATs. Thats what gives us bread and butter; not this damn travel.

And when I start telling about my travel styles and why I do it that way; people think I am crazy ; they exclaim "Something is unusual". I smile. But I know they just want to do that - what I do but can't gather that guts. Then finally, the veil drops - like the way a bride's would. They admit they just want to do my way but for some reason they couldn't.

Financial burden - one says. I say traveling is not expensive. Another says its not safe to travel the way you do - local transport; unplanned, unreliable. I say thats how I get to feel the place, interact with locals and hear their views. What use to get shielded in a cozy limo and watch things behind a glass curtain? What use eating the familiar idly-vada and looking at things the way a horse is masked?

Isn't it unsafe? How about the language? Don't you get scared? I say - just leave it to the world; and the world will take care of you. That curtains drop once you talk to people. You realise they are just like you; they want to talk to you and help you as much as you want to talk to them. Seek help. To me - being helpless in a foreign land - be it with transport, food, language - makes me seek out. That makes me realise how trivial I am. It humbles me and shows how insignificant I am and what use the knowledge I have? It tears my ego apart. Its a spiritual experience - an addiction.

The world is vast, you know none. And yet how much we feel great about ourselves? Looking at those eons old architecural wonders makes me realise how intelligent and far more superior folks were before our time. Yet; most can only see dirt and rocks. Seeing those mountains, volcanoes, forests, deserts, seas - how powerful nature is. Yet how foolish we try to "conquer" it. What is so tough in living in harmony with nature; because man can never ever win over the all powerful nature. I do feel funny with those organisations with good noble intentions. "Save the world", "Go Green". Man! how proud are you! How very egoistic are you. You go save yourself man! The world knows how to save and sustain itself. Its you who came much later and will be wiped out sooner. Earth knows to sustain, to destroy you when you abuse her and to reclaim her rightful spot.

My favourite question that I can't find answer to - "Which is your favourite place?" Oh! what should I say? I have only traveled so little compared to you Sir! and I don't have a favourite. Each one is unique and beautiful. I will be foolish to compare one to another and in the process undermine the experience and learning I gained. Doesn't it make you feel awesome? It does - to me. I feel blessed. I feel wonderful. I feel so blessed not because I have the financial capability but because I can take that path - road less traveled.

I feel blessed because I have been accepted by that place, by the ecosystem, by those tiny creatures, trees, people, birds..They have let me share their home, their environment, their best with me. They have let me earn experience

After hearing all this - few admit their defeat. They can't do what I do. Few go with a hope that they could do what I do at least once in their lifetime. Few request me to let them know when I travel next; but thats that.  A colleague whom I've known from my previous company pinged me and said thus

Hi Bindu, how are you doing? Just saw your posts on Facebook. And wanted to check if you are in Sunnyvale 

Fall colors in Raleigh?.. I think you are a month early.

Enjoy your trip.

Hum.. I shouldn't have said that. You do live your life to the fullest. I am happy for you.

:-) Made my day. Now when did I learn this and what triggered me to discover the joys of exploration? I don't know. I do know that life is limited and there are lot of good things here one could just miss if you don't pause

Monday, September 15, 2014

Everything I Do...

I Do It For You.....

Got reminded of the Bryan Adams song. Only this time the YOU is not a human being but a pehnomenon that is Facebook. And of course others lurking behind like Twitter, Instagram and now in buried in a grave - the Orkut.

Met up with a colleague/friend yesterday and over a cup of Chai Latte, our discussion went from one topic to another like rolling waves. Totally unrelated topic being discussed at ease with this lady whom I have not spoken beyond a "Hi" back at Bangalore office. Amazed by her ability to put anybody at ease; especially an introvert like me.

Yeah; I dont recall why I said what I said. This is what I said "Most people these days can't have a normal face to face conversation beyond 5 minutes. They are loss for words; they don't know how to present themselves and aren't comfortable seeing eye to eye. But are so comfortable talking their hearts out hiding behind a computer or a phone. It does seem people have lost the art of socialising due to these so called social networks"

Thats when she said - I am out of Facebook. And I "Oh! Is that so?" And to hear more on her thoughts was so relieving because it cleared off some of the doubts I had myself. "People update what  they ate; where they peed and pooped. Why would someone want to know where they peed and pooped?"

"Any special occasions are made a big deal. If you are feeling so blessed about having a great father; why sit in another corner of the world and show it all on Facebook? Be physically there with your dad! Yes! people have started making decisions based on social sites these days."

I always ask my spouse - "Everybody seems to put up their "happy-all-time" picture. We haven't taken one. And then it seems awkward to me to be showing that affection for the sake of publicising it.  Are we normal?"

Hell! yes! we are normal and thats why we haven't done that yet. If everyone is so happy happy, cuddly cuddly and mushy mushy; why is the world a crappy place? Where is the real you? Just think the reason behind the popularity of these websites. People want to know what others are doing and then in turn want to mimic them - Peer pleasure.

An entire world of business is based on this. And those corporations are getting richer at the expense of YOU - YOU think what you see on the WALL is the real life.  No wonder people can't smile anymore unless there is a camera phone trying to capture a photo. They can't

Alas! the happiness does not lie within. It lies on the wall.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Relearning Phase

I'm in the US after 4 years. And it does seem like nothing has changed.
Being I am working with the same set of people; well almost.

Everything is organised and predictable; which is boring to me.  Most of the countries I've visited so far have been rustic and exotic in different ways. You can just chat up with people; form a group in the middle of a street and get along on some common themes even if you don't speak the same language.

Like cheering up for Read Madrid with Moroccans in Fez over a cup of mint tea! Neither knew Arabic nor French but we felt happy and shared that passion for the game. No one gave a second look at the odd brown skinned people who spoke none of their language and didn't swig mint tea by jugs!

Or like trying to understand the price of a chicken satay on the streets of Mailoboro in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. And the giggles that came from other women when we pulled out a 100000 note instead of 1000 Rupiah! Blame it on inflation there.

Very freely striking up a conversation with a former army personnel of Sri Lanka and exchanging opinions on civil wars without being worried about too much and at the same time respecting the country.

There are many more...these kind of things are not possible in few countries I suppose. For one; I have never been in Europe.  I have done decent Asia and a tiny bit of Africa and Middle East. Middle East is another story - women alone are like species. Anyway; here there is no scope of spontaneity and mistakes. I don't want to expand more on this :)

I am relearning stuff again.

On the right side of the road!

Metric? Whats that? In pounds, ounces and Fahrenheit

The fridge door is not opening! The knobs are stuck. The light switches are on but the lights are off...Well yeah you have to do the opposite way! But thank God! the grills and ovens open the right way only.

I have to exchange pleasantries and say Excuse Me! and Sorry! even if my shadow bumps into another person.

Start feeling good when shopping for clothes since I now have to look for 2 sizes less; so I am not "fat" while I am here ;-)

A friend of mine today was repeating every time I got into the car "Other side"

Well for few days though. I have to unlearn everything soon!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What Today's Ads Teach Me

I've always found advertisements entertaining. Those days when the only channel was Doordarshan; I would watch the ads for 15 minutes uninterrupted just before the Sunday evening movie. Remember them? Those 15 mins were the longest uninterrupted ads ever adorning the programs on TV.

The story these days as we all know is different. We have 15 minutes of real programs infused in between numerous ads. Talk about consumerism infesting our lives. Well, there are 2 choices. Either you accept the reality or shun the TV. I have shunned the TV almost; weekends I do try to search for useful programs among those 100s of channels at my disposal on my big LED 3D TV. Alas! no avail and no surprises. The learning channels that once taught us history and nature are airing ridiculous reality shows these days. Music channels that gave us glimpse of good rock n rolls and soul music now have transformed. Though the mission statement of those TV channels would've change; what continues to remain the same are the ads. Be it spiritual or travel channels, news or music channels; the advertisements never change from one channel to another.

So instead of cribbing, I have resolved to learn from these advertisements. Optimistic as I am; I think I have learnt a fair bit and so sharing for the benefit of others. 

Plaques and germ build up are caused due to junk food habits. So stop eating junk and you'll never have to brush. Yes people! think about it. Not only brushing, no dreaded dentist visits too. 

Looking to buy a car but confused which one to pick? Don't fret.  We have so many many "Top Car of the Year" cars. Pick any. No sweat! Ah yeah! go for SUVs only if you plan on driving them on dirt roads, mountains, rivers and ridges. Never on smooth tar roads.

Almost all beauty soaps cure almost all skin problems, rashes, itches in addition to giving you fair complexion. They are recommended by researches in long white coats. These researchers probably research on washing powders and detergents as well. The lightning white these washing detergents and powders provide, makes me opt for white clothes these days. Stark white clothes have started giving me uber confidence to face the world and charter territories meant for the ultra rich. What if it gets dirty; c'mon daag acche hai!

I found a foolproof plan to bond with your mom? Not that I need one. Yet, for a rainy day. I have learnt that it happens over hair. Hair? Yeah hair. Mum and daughter bond over a shampoo or coconut hair and their manes are of utmost envy.

Daughter not wanting to get married? Parents, I have tips for those as well. Take them to a jewelry store. The array of jewelry displaced will tempt them to get married. Don't believe? It works, supposedly.

And girls, don't be disheartened that all your hard work, college grade, skills don't get you a job. Don't be disheartened and lose confidence. A trial pack of Rs 10 skin whitening cream gives you that confidence and all the super skills and you'll land a job for sure. Why waste time running around offices, consultancies? Rs 10 will do the trick.

Great ideas don't cost a lot. No raking brains, no gathering to exchange views. Great ideas come with swapping cell phones. Wow! think about what all that idea can solve. Really? Talking about cell phones and services; if your son doesn't do anything useful but sits and lazes around; don't brand him useless. He has learnt the knack of paying your electric and other utility bills while playing a game on the phone.

The last one. My favorite. Its only during monthly periods that girls want to reach for the sky! Why? And the periods shouldn't hinder them for achieving great things. Thats why we have all those super performing sanitary pads these days. Go for it woman!

So, what have you learnt from our advertisements? 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Conversation with a Father

I tend to get started talking with the drivers of the auto rickshaw I commute on. I am in no way a small talker, not an extrovert. People who know me will nod their head. But sometimes; I just get started. Most of these rickshaw guys are the ones who come from other towns and villages and make a living in Bangalore. A good number of them are already prosperous and they just do this since its an easy way to earn money fleecing customers who dont speak the local language.

And I; for whatever reason dont look like one who can speak the language well. Maybe the way I dress, carry myself or whatever; I get talked to in Hindi. In fact; I have to ask them "Do you speak Kannada?" If I get the chance, I do start a conversation with them simply because it makes them feel good that there are folks who speak their language.

Two reasons for that belief. 1 - If you are a local; you dont hire auto. You take the more conventional mode of transport because you know the city well. If you take auto; thats because you dont know the language and dont want to be burdened with finding routes and asking people. You get taken for a ride; literally.

Anyway, last evening on my way to home from office; this elderly man started cribbing about the longer route I was insisting him to take. I ignored at first. He kept repeating it and that was when I had to interrupt and clarify that the route he was suggesting was 2 kms longer. That I didnt mind paying extra couple of tens; but that route has traffic standing still. Whereas the present route though seems longer, its shorter and the traffic keeps moving. He still insisted on his theory and that there was this extra U turn in my way and thats why its longer.

Well, the conversation moved on with more proofs and statistics and numbers from my side and his. He  further strengthened his argument with being a local of that area for 34 years. Whereas I; said that I commute everyday and I have always found which route was better. This guy got comfortable by then. He told me about his early days - truck driver.

His children are now married; living a decent life. His eldest did masters but having his own business. His daughter also having done masters working in a bank. His son in law working in a bank as well. How his children insist him not to work; but he cant sit at home.

Throughout; I could make out the pride of a father - children having a good life. There got to a point where he was trying to portray his daughter was earning best and living best. Now I dont know why he got to even compare - with me that is. Yeah lot of auto drivers do that. The truth is; they really want to earn "like" the way computer folks earn. But knowing they dont have the chance, they make it sound like a sour grapes story.

He told me how much his daughter was earning. How she was the first to be promoted and all that. Fine! He then asked me my salary. Gasp! I did tell what it was (well; I was honest). He again asked me - is it after all the cut? What you get in hand? I said that the cut was bad; tax and all that but yes thats how much I get in my hand. Well; lets say that the number I quoted was twice as what he said his daughter was earning.

Immediately; his sour grapes strategy kicked in. He said  that her daughter was also called in for job at IBM. Well people; non IT parents generation generally know Infosys and IBM. These are the greatest companies and if you are IT and dont work in one of them; you are good for nothing. Getting back to our beloved father; they decided against her working for an IT company though the salary was good for a fresher; because they demanded his daughter work night shifts.

Now; the salary he said they offered was bull shit people! I know the trends. He went on to say how her work now is good; timings good; how she gets picked up and dropped home. Now that they have a 5 upstairs building right in the heart of the city. Basically he was justifying all the reasons for not accepting the IT offer. I did laud him for taking the right decision and fed his ego a bit. But what I found amusing was this stranger was so passionate about his family and kids. He was ready to go to any length to prove his kids were the best :-)

I hope his children know how blessed they are.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dog's Life

Looking out the window...
The world seems lively.
A mutt sleeping unaware, 
Another frolicking in the mud. 
Kids! Running around laughing; playing with a ball. 
Oh! Where is my toy? 
I chewed it off, didn't I? 
The green shrubs - beckon me; to sniff and pee 
Why? I love that scraggy little doggie there, 
wagging his rope like tail. 
He likes playing with me. 
But I am not fair, am I?
I pounce, I push; unaware of 
My build and weight.
But that jolly good fella
Waits for me to come by
To play, to jump, to sniff, 
Each day. 
Now as I watch from the comfort of my cozy home, 
I know I want to be out there...
Jumping and running and getting dirty....
That's dog's life! Sigh!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Frame by Frame

There comes a day when you get to action cleaning and dusting up the house. Thats when you do go near those shelves and drawers that didnt exist all these days.

Well, thats what I did over the weekend and no, the house is not sparkly clean. While de-cluttering one of the drawers, those stack of photo albums beckoned me. I knew if I fell for it; my resolution of cleaning up the shelves and drawers that day after procrastinating for months will break. But it was too tempting not to pick those stack of photo albums. And there! the flood and tsunami and hurricane of memories rushed......Those were the days...

Simple days. Our lives were simple, our needs simpler. Or was it? But I was a kid and everything seemed so simple. The very act of posing for a family picture itself. It was an orchestrated process. The best clothes on, polished shoes, oiled and well combed hair, face powder and finally not a smile on the lips, but a serious look. The drama reached its crescendo with the photographer's arrival. A skill mastered after several attempts to pretend totally unperturbed of a camera. Well, your heart almost skips few beats shows the innate consciousness of the big black box present right in front of you. No! but dont look there. The look of unconcern took the most elaborate preparation. Look casual is what the photographer would say. Are you kidding me?

Ready-1-2-3...The moment the click of the big black box goes off was a moment of huge relief. The huge funny grin dropping back to that natural smile, shoulders slumped down, beads of sweat in the palm wiped on the sides of the shirt and skirts and the attention position broken. After that is the waiting time. The photos and negatives would arrive after a week or so. Anticipation and excitement. The brown envelope will be opened with care to reveal the frames in negatives and finally a few best prints chosen from the best.

The glossy prints would grab the attention of the entire family - moving from one hand to another. Appreciation, admiration, a few comments and ultimate satisfaction. And then, the prints would be safely encased behind a transparent plastic page of a photo album; to be secured in a cupboard as a family heirloom for generations to come. The best ones might end up being framed and find itself at the mantlepiece of the living room like a prize.

Like this one - though its a cutout of Rajnikanth.

Out of your reverie!!

Back to the present. Everyone has a camera and so everyone is a self proclaimed photographer. I dont feel animosity towards that unlike few who swear by who can be called as a "real photographer". That warrants a separate post. But there are times when its super annoying.

The excitement to capture every mundane thing is life deserves applause since people do seem to appreciate simple things in life - like eating an apple. Err...yeah. God bless you girl! You are the few lucky one out in the world who is blessed to afford and eat an apple. But taking a picture of yourself eating an apple? Is that so important? Thats ok; its you and your apple. But expecting likes and praises? Aahh we all crave for attention isnt it? Its so orgasmic!  How about adjusting the frame, the filter, the lighting all in your smart phone while others are patiently holding that smile on their face in the name of taking a group portrait?

Photography has moved from being an art to a tool now. And thats not bad at all. Everyone has a chance to freeze a golden moment from their life and everyone pauses to notice the beauty around to capture it in their camera if not for anything else. It has evolved from a defined precise moment to seamless never ceasing means to capture everything and anything. Shots after shots - whimsical stored in your handheld device never to be revisited again instead of a few frame by frame moments encased in those albums to be revisited and felt nostalgic about once in a while.

Ah! now I need to take a selfie with Gypsy. I'm off!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rain, Coffee and Book

Now who will deny such a lovely combination? There would be few things in life that will give you instant gratification. Something that makes you happy; cuddle yourself and feel everything is so flawless. A feeling of contentment, a feel of all is well and a feeling of immense satisfaction even though nothing was wrong in the first place!

The rains, a mug of steaming hot coffee and good paper back book - never disappoint you. The monsoons in Bangalore are not as severe as they would be in Kerala. But still its blessed.  They are isolated and rain in patches here in Bangalore and unpredictable. The rains do cause inconveniences. Broken branches, uprooted trees, knee high puddles and vehicles wading in those waters. But hey! rains are rains! Its not the rains that are trouble; but lack of our civic infrastructure.

Anyway why am I digressing? So rains!

I've always managed to take a road trip during monsoon along the Western Ghats. The 300 odd km trip to Mangalore or sometime the 500 odd km upto Kundapur does work wonders; especially during the rains. The numerous tiny water falls gushing out along the road, the tall and dense trees, the windy slippery roads, the tall mountains shielded by grey clouds....its all to die for!

Even without a road trip, The aroma of the wet earth is to die for. The pitter patter sound on the roof, the drops on the window grills and the outburst of drops falling from leaves when the wind blows. The dull sky can be put with; the lush green trees makes up for it. Add in a mug of hot coffee! Voila! you have heaven at your feet. A senior manager in my previous company noticed my way of holding my mug of coffee during a casual conversation. It kind of shocked me - he noticing such a simple irrelevant thing.

But yeah! holding a mug of coffee safely with both your hands - feels safe, secure and all the world all to yourself, feeling the warmth of that precious liquid while taking in the aroma. Later did I read that it reveals your traits! So the coffee - sip your coffee sitting in the balcony with a favorite book in your hand. In your comfortable pajamas while it rains.

Gray clouds, soft whistle of the wind, the constant pitter patter of rains, turning page after page of a book. Not a digital reader; but a real book. A book whose pages you can turn; the smell of the paper, the colorful paperbacks or the hard bounds, the words you can scroll your finger through. Old and battered and yellowed pages maybe - but a real book.

These makes you forget all the pain, the troubles. You tend to think of love, happiness, forgiveness, sharing and caring. And why? I dont know. These three are always a winner!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I'm Aging

Everyone is!


I have noticed changes in me that is telling me that God! I am aging...faster than I thought I would. I think this is what everyone will go through and I should not find myself anxious. I am just going through the natural process...Am I?

For one, I strongly feel my profession stresses me more than what other professions could to other people. Again, wallowing in self pity and consoling myself. Not really. The bloody MNC corporate world doesnt leave you unless they have squeezed the last drop of juice out of you. Peer pressure or the lack of it? Create one. Competition, criticism, back stabbing, manipulating....

Who the hell influenced me to take up engineering? Its making me old, bored and zombie like. It is all like finding fool's gold now. We the software people have taken an oath that we would remain sophisticated slaves for generations and savvy beggars. I would rather go begging - its tax free! 

These days, the slide and spike of rupee is more interesting to me than Tom & Jerry. Of course; I want the rupee to slide whenever I am selling my shares isnt it? How self centered I can be? The price of a kg of tomato worries me more these days. And yeah; why do I read political and economic news than enjoying Calvin & Hobbes? 

Isnt something terribly wrong here? Or is this how things are with people growing old? Unwanted worries of life, am I still attractive to my spouse? Oh the belly fat? Will he/she be bored after a while? 
Waking up with "Oh! today is the last day to pay my credit card due and I have no enough balance left!" is such a sad thing. 

My mirror shows gray hair and pigmented skin. I turn around and see a slight bulge near my waist. I get angry sooner, I cant see humor in tough times. Nor can I take few things light. I think twice to show my middle finger to morons who spoil my day. Never thought about the consequences anytime ever. But now I do. Why? 

Fear of losing the earning that pays my home loan? Fear of losing my identity? Fear of not being able to live my dreams fueled by money - traveling, photography? Fear of facing the fear? Thats it! Compromise, collaboration, diplomacy....BULL CRAP!!! 

Why to worry about staying at home without a job? Worried about compromising life style? Worried about education going waste? Worried about boredom? I dont know! 

These are all the confusions and questions for which I dont have an answer. I do know I am not alone. Oh yeah! I know very well I am aging. Because I dont show interest in listening to a new music as I used to. I feel tired waking up, lying awake and going to sleep. I am being pulled into responsible (sic) roles! CRAP! 

All go to hell!!!! 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Being Human

What does being a human mean? What are those characteristics that defines us a human?

We behave in various ways. Some of them influenced by our surroundings - be it people, society, culture and norms of the land. While some of the behavior are your own. While some behaviors are ordinary; few others could invite surprise, disbelief and shock. That happens when you go out of the behaviors defined and accepted as a norm.

But its a hypocritical world isnt it? Whats normal and whats not is defined by those in power. By those who believe they have been vested powers to uphold the virtues of HUMANS.

Whats happening in Gaza? Iraq? Syria? Why does one group think they are superior and have the right to the land, the resources and existence above all? Nah...let me not get there. We know the reasons behind all these right?

Let me stick to my personal experience. Few days ago; I had to transit through one of the middle east country on my way back from Morocco. Its not hard to guess which country it could be. I had 14 hrs transit time and thought it would be better to get out of the airport and explore the city. I enquired how these things work even before I left for Morocco. The airline agreed to sponsor my accommodation, meals and transport for that day of long transit.

On that day; the experience was horrifying. I did expect since the arrangement of getting a visa sponsored by the airline and you are at the mercy of the visa officers and all that is expected. Lets say I was prepared. But what I wasnt prepared for was the attitude and treatment of South Asians there. Well, the bulk of that country's labour class comes from India, Nepal, Bangaldesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines...And so; is it natural to be treated worse than cattle?

Be it at the immigration queue where couple of queues were made to wait for an hour. An hour! yes when the officers were wiling away their time talking to each other. The other queues which didnt boast of these labour class population were served in no time. The scene I saw once I passed through immigration made me sad.

The harsh summer sun showing no mercy to those hundreds of construction workers, airport support staffs, drivers and cleaners....Do these group get treated the same way as a first class citizen? No and why should they? They knew what they were signing up for isn't it?

Well no. They don't. Their passport confiscated, forced to live in sub standard conditions, no holidays or medical leaves. Above all; they are looked down like worms. Camels get better treatment than these migrant workers. All because they want to send some money back to their families in hope of a decent life. For these countries, these men are resources - liability.

Aah I see I have deviated from my thoughts. I didnt feel good those 10 hours there as a visitor, mind you. Coming back to being human. Language, culture, religion, practices, geography, ancestry, economic ability - do all of these define who is superior and who is not? Do these define who is entitled to health, peace, happiness? Why cant it be simple?

Why is the inequality? I watched a couple of very sad and brutal documentary recently. One - the working conditions and life of South Asian migrant workers in Qatar. The video ends with - 4000 people from India and Nepal alone would be dead by the time the first ball is kicked off as part of 2022 FIFA world cup. The second video of infant kids bought for as low as $500 from Bangladesh, Pakistan.. being used as Camel Jockeys in the Emirates. These two videos are very disturbing.

"Humanity" is not a quality of human beings. They are found in abundance in animals.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Love Letters, Graffiti and Arts - Malacca

Lets continue of my Malaysian sojourn.

Next on the journey was Malacca. Its very weird having to pass through the city of KL to travel by bus to either Penang or Malacca. So the best thing I figured out we could do was to take any transport that we could from the KLIA instead of going to KL. KL is so so far from the airport.

There are frequent buses to Malacca from the airport and the roads are really good. But by the time we reached Malacca and made our way to the heritage area for a hotel; it was well over 12:30 AM. It was the Christmas week and impossible to get hotel rooms but more than that; they were all shut. It is an experience to walk around with heavy backpacks; banging on doors like a thief in the hope of getting a guest house. But it was good to get the entire town to yourself; I mean imagine. You can stand and stare at anything as long as you want :-/ Thats paranoid right?

Anyway; the taxi driver was also sweet and he explained all the things and where we could find hotels but at that ghostly time; it was a challenge.

At one place; the landlord was quoting such a high price. We had to walk more and we finally managed to wake up some guy whose guest house had no vacancy but he managed to wake up another neighbor and we finally found a room. The morning was refreshing since the landlord offered coffee and biscuits called "Love Letters".  A full jar of Love Letters got reduced to less than half a jar in no time. It was yummy and after washing it down with the coffee; we set out to explore Malacca.

Most of the historical sites are within the 1 sq. mile area. You could do it by a bicycle or a walk. I would prefer walking anytime. Many reasons. It gives me the flexibility to pause, click and indulge in a conversation at any place. Why have the hassle of parking the bicycle and all that. If Penang was excellent, Malacca was out of the world. There is nothing special attached to it - no jazzy nightclubs, no super museums and all that. The simple charm and a laid back lifestyle is its speciality. Walking around the city, exploring it at a leisurely pace was all that it was to it.

A town abundant with graffiti and arts doesnt need anything extra. See it for yourself!
A wall, a drain pipe, a door, a roof - nah! nothing is spared.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Missed opportunities?

Its a question I ask myself....

Well, the opportunities are not of the meritorious kind. So one may say those are not "moral" ones. Hey! so what? I am a lowly normal "human" being and these days opportunities dont knock on your doors. They graze it and flee away!

And as for me; luck and me have always walked in opposite directions. So yeah! thats why opportunities that go by makes me cringe.

What kind of opportunities you may ask? Everything and anything...personal networking, work related ones, a lil' favor here and lil' obligation there. Everything man!

See! it all starts because of the weird short name I have. Not very short..but short short. Many of my friends here would already know my name. If not; here it is. No! its not the most recognized, often on news name. So don't have any expectations. The name is BINDU...BINDU..

Yeah....James Bond style.

But tell me this...does my name tell you anything about me? My native place, my language, my community, my religion, my region....anything at all?

If my name were Krishna Priya Gopalakrishnan appended by a religion/community identifier followed by regional identifier ; maybe it would tell I am a South Indian belonging to such and such community and speaking such and such language. But no! Nothing of that kind. 

Its just Bindu and yeah I have a TG attached to the end like any South Indian. Its the TG that holds the meat you know. It does have my community, ethnicity, religion, language...blah..blah..blah..attached to it and no wonder generates a lot of curiosity. And that my dear brothers and sisters I hide the expansion of TG like they have hidden the original Coca Cola recipe.

Many have asked me to expand TG and yes, there is a lot of curiosity. Human beings - curios nature - cant help. I have often refrained from it. Sometimes I get away the awkwardness by expanding it to "The Great" and people cant understand why I don't want to reveal what is just a name. It would have been easy if there was a Kurien or a Gowda or a Reddy or a Shah or a Singh or a Fernandez or a phew!!!!

But no; I dont want it that way. I dont know why; its always been embarrassing. So among my cousins; we have some who proudly flaunt their ancestry (which gives you an idea of their kulam, gothram and all that origin) while I here dont have a clue of it. And to make matters worse; I dont look typical so that people can attach me to a group. People have conveniently put me to a group or origin as they thought right. I have been "mistaken" to be a Marwari, Tulu, Malay (hehehehe), Sri Lankan (more hehehehehe) , Malayalee and the list goes on.

What would you make out of a girl (ok! ok!), strike that out...A woman who has short hair, most times unkempt, wears some washed out worn out jeans, a T shirt and roams around with a sling bag. My spouse recently commented that I am dressing up like boys (This one warrants a separate post).

OK! Now why missed opportunities?  Its easy isnt it? Just think..

I cant be part of a Malayalee gang nor can I fit myself into a Tamizh gang. North Indians look at me with suspicion while South Indians feel no commonness with me and have disowned me. At work too; people group together based on their region or language. There too, I am nowhere. The favor my Telugu colleague gets just because of her oh! so! Telugu surname is something that I am deprived off.

No ones comes up to me and starts a conversation with "Neenga Tamizh-aaa?".

So I often wonder....

Did I miss a salary hike or did I miss a promotion?
Did I miss a hot-guy in a party?
Did I miss a friendly lady group?

I will never long as I choose to remain Bindu with a TG. Sigh!

Before you think I am ending the post with a Sad face; here is a true incident that happened at the Udaipur Airport. It was 5 AM chilly and I am all brrrrrrrr trying to get inside the airport building. The CISF personnel checking my ticket asked me "Doosra aadmi kahan hai?" It took a moment for me to fathom what doosra aadmi he is talking about.

You see, only my passport has the expansion of TG and with that my name crosses the reserved 22 boxes provided to fill in my name in the India Immigration Form. The TG in itself is good enough to be another person's name. In my case, its my grand father's and my father's name put together garnished with the community name they belong to. I said there was no doosra aadmi and all and in time the CISF personnel realized it as well and we started laughing. Phew!

This is fine but I was close to being rejected boarding a flight in JFK because my name didnt fit into the provided boxes and I restored to short form which didnt match my name in the passport! Oh my God!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Content with silence
Sitting in a corner 
The world around
is so adequate 
and quaint. 
Words - can be manipulated
Actions; exaggerated
Expressions -
are one and only, 
Captured in time,
the essence. 
Expressions - 
Windows to the soul.
Expressions - 
need no language
and thus no barriers.
Try not,
to find words
to describe what I feel.
Just look at me...
And feel what I feel.
You see...
I seem,
Content with silence.
But I am telling you a thousand things...
With my

PS : This is my darling Gypsy supposedly in a melancholic mood. But bugger is just sober and relaxing. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Street View - Penang

Now how can I wrap up Penang without actually reliving the streets of Penang. More importantly; the quirky art on the walls. The century old buildings still standing as a mute witnesses to things gone by; a revolution, change of hands and yet they are standing.

The age old Chinese temples; rich with wood carvings and paintings. The family homes now converted as museums; showcasing the life of the entire clan of migrant Chinese. Now no one knows where they are and what they do.

I often think that take only memories, leave only memories. But if not for what those folks then built or stored; how would we know how they lived? Those mother of pearl couches, those rich silk shirts, the intricately beaded slippers, those jade cups and saucers and the blue potteries...

Here are the street arts that I so fell in love with. These are installed at various prominent streets by the Corporation. They explain the reason behind the names of the streets and why the street was famous was in a humorous way with cartoons. I thought it was so novel and definitely caught the attention. I could instantly get the what was happening in the streets during the early 1900s and why the name thus. Love Lane, Panggalli street, Chulia Streets, Murti street...

 A collage of all the pics I clicked.

Han Jiang Ancestral Temple was a piece of art. The temple was very calm and just beside where we stayed.

The Khoo Kangsi Clan house

And more....

And of course I tried to peep in or kick a ball.....

Sunday, February 2, 2014

People in Penang

I have realized that when I am away from my city; I tend to observe and take extra effort to talk to locals of the town I am visiting. Now why is the question. I have pondered about it. Maybe because I know my stay there is for a short period and I may not may not tread that path again. So I want to experience as much as possible; get to know people and what learn what they have to share about the place, the history and everything else.

Or maybe that I am excited to be in the new place and so observe more than I normally would do. Or maybe in my town; I am pre occupied with hundreds of things on my mind that I fail to notice them or that "There is always tomorrow. Where am I leaving; I am here" feeling.

Whatever it may be. But I have noticed that I enjoy even a simple act of brewing tea on a road side stall or taking in sight of an old man enjoying his solitude in a mosque makes it so interesting. I did have many such experiences at Penang. Penang is dominated by Tamils. Malaysian Tamils and Indians who have gone their for work. It was a nice exercise for me to figure out who were the locals and who were the working diaspora from India among them. Some of them were obvious. Like the Malaysian Tamils who are Muslims now. Maybe their great grand parents got converted to Islam 100 or 200 years ago and now you can see them dressed in traditional Malay Islamic clothing. Based on the same religious lines are the way how a Hindu Malay dressed. Or rather how they displayed their religious virtue. I found them to be very conservative and religious than what we were. The vermilion and ash dominated every forehead.

Just walk along little India; you know what it is to be in India away from India. It was more India than what India is. Indian songs played on loud speakers; Tamil movies being played on the TVs. The TVs were outside the stores on the streets; so everyone gets to watch the movie. The aroma of Parottas and Idlis and Kurmas...ummm. I would wonder if I am in some remote part of Tamil Nadu. Maybe they outdo these things to preserve their ancestry. But its amazing to see how the cultures have blended; each one borrowing from the other and yet the uniqueness preserved.

It was easy for them to recognize that we were not one among them because of the way we looked and dressed. The curiosity let in requesting for snaps with them. Malaysians like to take a picture with Indians. And they love Indian movies! And they certainly like Bangalore and have only good things to say like "Bangalore! its a clean city I heard". "Computers!" and so on. Equally were there folks thinking India is Delhi or Mumbai and very few outside the Indian diaspora knew Southern India.

There are also Chinese; who live along side in harmony and peace; adapting to the culture and food and practice. The Chinese live among their own; so do the Malay-Indians and the Malays. The migrants are found in clusters among these; blending with the locals. You could find them in a restaurant run by a local or in a Kancheevaram Silk store. Its tough to differentiate unless you talk to them. And thats easy! The local Tamils are interested more in you because you are visiting from India. They want to know how India is; their dream is to travel to India at least once if they havent. I met a man on the streets who said his sister is married off to a Chennai guy. I met a lady who has heard a lot about India and wants to visit...And so the anguish and the dreams..

Maybe the Chinese have similar stories to tell, to share...

This was one dynamic lady. Her food cart was just beside the hotel we stayed. Morning 5 to 11 is all she stays dishes out appams after appams. It was her show all the way. Customers order and need to wait; I mean they are at the mercy of this woman. She decides if she wants to serve you or not. She seemed to be a third generation Malay Indian. I was never tired of watching her in action. Her shrewdness was something I really loved.

This was a old Chinese home turned to a cafe. The menu was simple. Just a couple of sandwiches and beers. The owner seemed to be an eccentric man; considering what he named his cafe.

Right! The cafe is "My own Cafe" or his own cafe

Simple menu. Very creative. Just noticed this cafe after a long tour or the Chinese quarters and decided to peep in. The ambience and the cool atmosphere pulled us in and sat for a while swigging a couple of Tiger beers.

The owner.

Didnt I mention enough of its eccentricity? Here's more. A painting of himself on one of the walls

A steaming Badam Milk outside a cafe in the Indian quarters. The food is as every other culture; was a potpourri.  Curries and gravies with a slight twist; tea served in large mugs and so on

 Rest time!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Date with Butterflies

One thing that can keep me going even after being battered and bruised is nature and wildlife. The national park was about 1.5 hrs from the Georgetown area by bus. Though the journey was amazing; the trek left us tired. Moreover that day; it was noon and it didnt rain.

But the thought of not watching the butterflies was never acceptable. The farm is 2 kms away from the national park and frequent buses ensured we got to the farm at 4 pm with 1 hours left for the last entry.

The ticket is bit on the expensive side of 30 or 40 RM but worth it for sure. Why wouldnt you like to be surrounded by butterflies fluttering all over. I was sweaty after that long and tough day but that turned out to be a boon. I remember reading somewhere bees and flies swarm over you to drink your sweat. Thats what happened at Brunei's rainforest as well.

And so; I had the butterflies all over me; sitting on my hands; my face. Never going away even after attempting to shake them off. This living museum houses exotic butterflies; Malaysian species and some of the world's rarest and endangered. There are also tropical plants and other creatures like hude centipedes, frogs, spiders and snakes encases in glasses. Got to buy some cool souvenir in the form of pendants and keychains having real butterflies and insects.

Overall, it was a fitting end to an otherwise tiring day. Journey back to Georgetown was with sleep laden eyes and music while watching the sea coast of Batu Ferringhi pass by where the tourists had already started swarming into cafes for chill beers. One thing that was amazing was the transport and connectivity. One bus comes to the butterfly farm to transport passengers to the main bus stop 2 kms away. You dont have to worry about walking or trying to get bus! Loved Penang for that reason.

Paper kite of Rice Paper Butterfly. Its of SE Asian Origin

The rare Indian Leaf Butterfly. Also called Orange Orange Oakleaf; found in tropical Asia to Japan. Very attractive and colorful

As much as being colorful with attractive patterns; with wings closed; it resembles a dry leaf and its a spectacular camouflage. For this reason; its also called as Dead Leaf Butterfly

They were all over!

Leopard Lacewing; found from India to China; recent arrival in Malay peninsula

The Cruiser

Common Eggfly

A Indian Leaf pair

Name not known. I couldnt find it on internet. It sure must be a tropical species. Black and red head



The endangered Yellow Birdwing. Birdwings are native to Indian subcontinent, SE Asian archipelago and Austrlasia. This one particularly is endangered and now protected

Name not known.

Yellow Glassy Butterfly

This one is special. Rajah Brooke's Birdwing. Its from the rainforests of Thai Malaysian Peninsula, Borneo, small islands of Sumatra. Its a protected species and the national butterfly of Malaysia

New Lacewing; mainly found in SE Asia and Australia

Remember your Botany classes? This is a Nepenthes pitcher hanging from a tendril. They are carnivorous plants


Can someone identify this species?

The Black Bat flower; unique looking

A Green snake; not the vine snake though

Color Sergeant butterfly

A pair of Yellow Birdwings

There were more! 4000 individual butterflies of 120 kinds! All I click were some of these