Friday, December 15, 2017

Indian outside India

Traveling to me is an excellent way to connect with people from around the world. I stay at hostels which offers a good platform to meet people. Interacting with others helps you learn about them and you develop your acumen. A harmless banter, a useless knowledge or even an important topic of discussion expands your view of the world. I did not know Guinness available in other parts of the world is not "Guinness enough" from an Irish man. How about the presence of Christianity in Jordan? You can of course read about it; but the interactive discussions and questions and more discussions with a local is so enriching. I can discuss sushi with a Japanese and then turn around and ask a Mayan descendant what does it mean to an actual descendant now while sharing hazelnut and chocolate cookies made by another hostel inmate from Israel.

The way I have questions for them, I as an Indian face lot of questions. Some of them are stereotypical, most common ones that I have been asked are the same questions wherever I go. First question is always about why am I without an accent? They have met Indians with thick accents! Indians dont know how to converse politely. Indians are generally not considerate. Why am I not like a typical Indian? Are you living out of India? That may explain your un-Indianness. These questions embarrass me and makes me sad. Yeah, what a bad reputation we have built for ourselves? Now apart from explaining why I am without accent, I now have the moral obligation to correct their misunderstandings. How do I tell not all Indians are rude? How do I convey Indians at heart are good but the society has made them run an never ending rat race? Why am I trying to sweep the truth under the carpet? I do get approving and appreciating comments "You are not like the other Indians I know. I thought all were the same." Should I take this as a compliment? I only cringe whenever I hear this and trust me! I have heard this many times in different parts of the world from different people.

The follow up question is always about safety in India. "I've heard that its not safe for girls in India, how bad is it?" or "How do you manage being a woman in India". "Dont you get scared walking on the streets?" "Is it true that you can get robbed and raped?" Imagine this! you are representing your country and someone is asking about the news they hear, how do you cope with it? Should I say - "You know, its not everyday and everywhere such incidents occur." If I try to play down an incident - even one incident, then I am being unfair. Yeah, maybe bad things travel faster in the wind than good ones. But hundred good things cannot make up for one bad incident. It doesn't end there. Those people who've traveled to other places want to visit India very bad. But they are unsure, they are scared. I feel sad as an Indian, perhaps ashamed too. I admit the facts but give them few tips on pockets of India which are gorgeous and are very safe to visit. That is the best I could do for my country.

Travel has taught me to make better judgement, to respect differences and make space for everyone. It has taught me to be inclusive and humble. Travel has taught me how frivolous we all are. It makes me to laugh at empty egos and irrelevant ideologies. Travel has taught me to be human.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sketches and Haikus

Been away for a while now. I have lots to say, write and throw my opinions on events happening around; but the moment I am about to write about it; I feel like I have only to complain. Growing older makes you wiser and more prone to taking things by your stride, isn't it?

To this day, I am not sure if its just too many bad things happening around in the world or that news and information is at our disposal that we are getting to know everything; which we normally wouldn't have earlier? Either way; what I am sure is our tolerance level has come down a lot. 

When I am not running around to office and back in this brutal Bangalore's traffic; I sketch and write Haikus. Sketching started off as a way to pass time and now it's growing on me. I think I have improved with each work; learning the techniques and the tools. Here are few. 

I have been able to give away a couple of these pieces and give the money got from it to help few charity organizations. I do my bit to give back to the society; why not encourage others as well through this? If any of you are interested in taking a look at all the works; please state it in the comment section, I'll share the link.

The other activity that keeps me occupied are writing Haikus. Its been a great learning and every month when I get an email from NHK World TV that my work has been accepted and would be published on their website; I just feel so happy. To have my work chosen among 1000's of haikus they get from 100+ countries each month is a great achievement. Here are few published ones.

What are your thoughts on these haikus?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


I am an observant lady. I tend to notice the trivial things that happen around me; that makes me feel connected to surroundings than just being aloof. I am a reserved person; but I won't let a chance go by if I were pulled in an interesting conversation. Here are few recent happenings.

Yesterday; while buying cilantro/coriander bunch from the old woman with her vegetable cart; I noticed for a split second a tiny worm 🐛 crawling in the bunch I picked. It made me so happy to see a living creature in that bunch. Vegetables are grown with synthetic manure, growth hormones and pesticides these days that finding a worm among them is like a diamond in the rough. I used to be annoyed as a kid when I would come across worms while cleaning/chopping vegetables without realizing they could thrive only because the veggies were grown organic. Now I yearn for a worm. 

I commute to office by Uber or OLA. The cabbies are an interesting lot. Some tend to mind their business with the radio on playing assorted songs; the ride is pretty quiet and dull. Others tend to start a conversation with you. Why not? I have quite few posts on my conversations with cabbies wherever I've traveled. The conversations are mostly about Bangalore's traffic, their struggle being a cab driver and such. Last week; while getting home from work, the cab I rode on had a talkative driver. He started with how he has been hearing about IT going down and not a lucrative career opportunity anymore. I responded with a "Nothing is easier these days". He agreed to it and continued to say how he has already decided for his daughter to prepare for Indian Administrative Service and get a "government" job. You see, working in a government/public sector is always deemed safe in India. The job security and the pension after retirement is a privilege not the private sector employees get. I lauded his decision while imagining in my mind his daughter should be finishing school and in the process of graduating college. The conversation steered away to other topics for few minutes and later got back to his daughter. He mentioned how his daughter can speak many languages when she was only in 3rd year of primary school. Whoa! and her career already decided!!

I recently learnt that there are different types of beer glasses. This one is called Tulip glass. These are designed to trap and maintain the foam head. This type helps enhance the flavor and aromatics of hoppy and malty brews and are generally used for stronger brews like double IPA or Belgian brews. The bulb like bowl allows to swirl the beer allowing it to release the full aromas. Some general knowledge here huh!

Do you remember the fruits of rain trees? You'll find rain trees in abundance in Bangalore. As a kid; I did not know that it was a rain tree of the fruit that I used to collect were from the rain trees. These fruits would be crushed, mashed and mixed with castor oil and made a ball to play cricket. It was left to dry for few days before used. It was called cork ball and was hard, painful when hit with it. This was an easy alternative to buying the expensive tennis ball. Only recently did I realize these were fruits of rain tree, falling off during spring. 

And finally - I love animals and have soft corner for dogs. Dogs - anywhere, any type and any time have my time and attention. It started raining when I was out at a pub over weekend. It was a sudden pour, the sight of rain made me walk out the door. As I was standing enjoying the aroma of the wet earth; a stray came by and stood beside. He wanted to protect himself from getting wet. He kind of nudged me and as I pet him; he gradually lied down and put his paw this took me enough pain in my heart to ease away from him without him noticing. Dogs dont let anyone near their paws and this was an ultimate gesture of trust. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

When to Stop

Few days back; I got a call from a friend. He seemed very dejected. This person would not generally call me and say, “I wanted to talk”. At times, we just need to be heard; without wanting any advice or being judged. This was the situation here; and so, I casually enquired about his well-being.

If you are distressed; all you need is a nudge to vent out. My “how are things?” did just that. He mentioned how his business has hit rock bottom. Payments were being delayed indefinitely, orders were difficult to come by and months of struggle to sell off the business was not materializing as well. His lament was how all his efforts and time were going down the drain. He has been failing repeatedly and could not figure out where was he going wrong!

No one can be hard on us than ourselves. We berate ourselves for our failures; overlooking the fact that it’s not only one’s efforts bring success. You need support of people for your success and growth. Business is all about collaboration; where individuals work together to achieve a common purpose.

We often face such situations in our life; not just in business like my friend’s case, also in situations relating to career, education, marriage, personal success.

We are wired to focus on the outcome than the journey itself; which is an enriching learning experience. Not being able to achieve your goal does not mean you are a failure. For one; it is best to set realistic goal. More importantly; you should know when to stop chasing a goal. When you face this dilemma, asking yourself these questions might help.

  • Is your heart still in it? Maybe. You believe in the idea and persistently strive for it. But if it’s not working well; does not mean you are a failure.
  • Are you gaining or losing more from it? If you are losing and falling into an abyss, it is better to revisit the goal and the returns. Is it worth your time and effort? I asked my friend if he thought if it was still worth the risk with his debt building up day by day. He was heading nowhere and not only losing time, health and energy but also carrying huge debts that he must repay without any support or collateral.
  • How long are you willing to pursue your goal? It is always better to set a timeline, break the goal to manageable chunks and work on them one at a time. Setting a deadline makes it realistic and lets us review the feasibility regularly.

Stopping is not a sign of failure; not at all trying is. The lessons learned are precious and knowing when to stop avoids wild goose chase.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Trump's Twitter Blunders

The President of the USA is known to be very active on twitter; particularly late night ramblings. Twitter is where he communicates his policies and decisions that affect not only his country but the world.

Some of his ramblings in the past have been dissected and made fun of. There was also a joke going around; that the first task the WH officials would do once he became the President would be to lock his twitter account. Well, Mr. Trump has been repeating his gaffes. Few days back; he left a two word tweet "WE" and the everyone had a ball trying to fill in the rest of the words he would've supposedly wanted to write.

The tweet "We" started a movement and the handle #we was trending like crazy. It was just a two letter word but so powerful and inclusive. It was deleted within minutes but nothing leaves the internet; does it? The tweet was retweeted 1000 times and was memorialised by witty folks on the social media. From snarky comments to completing the word with lyrics to satire; it was a melee of creative thoughts and the reflection of what people think of the President and what they wished for like his resignation, better health care, wanting to know his close ties with Russia and so on.

The best one I loved among the lots were the below ones.

Earlier this month; Trump got confused between "Council" and "Counsel" when he tweeted thus: He meant "Counsel".

The desperate Merriam-Webster dictionary went on to educate Mr. Trump on the two homophones. 

Did he learn? Nope, never! He again went on to tweet 10 days later; now with the spelling "Councel". He did retweet the same message again with the right spelling but perhaps was tired to delete the old one!

Mr. Trump did something similar last night. He posted something on Twitter that had a word that has people scratching their heads.

What is covfefe? Perhaps; Mr. Trump invented a new word. Or did he convey an encrypted message? Is it short for some complicated word? Or is it some word in European language or Arabic that he might've picked up during his recent travel?  Or did he just doze off mid-tweet?

Well, Trump sure does keep everyone at the edge of the seat? People have already started using the word "covfefe" in their posts and is sure going to be another crazy twitter handle. Some have started speculating that it might mean "coverage". It does come close to that. Meanwhile; I am wondering how do we pronounce "covfefe"?

Maybe "covfefe" is a mystery that will unravel much to world's joy.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Nasty Rains

Rains are beautiful, it brings life, energy and hope. But when its merciless; it can be trouble. The past few days has been raining cats and dogs in Bangalore with gusty winds. The inconvenience is inexpressible. Rains - are beautiful only if you are not stuck in it.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Looking back

I just noticed that I've crossed my 500th posts few posts earlier. It didn't excite me as it had when I crossed my 10th or 100th or 200th.

Been writing since 2008; this blog has seen me evolve. I've neglected it, not been regular. The kind of passion I had towards multitude of topics surprise me now. I was looking at my timeline and see the number of posts per year consistently diminishing. Perhaps; I got tired of writing about the same stuff or my creative juice stopped flowing or that I got pulled into other interests. Whatever the reason, its good to just go with the flow.

I write lot of poems and haikus these days compared to prose. I want to publish a book; rather few books. Well, the procrastination is strong in me. If any of this should come true; I need to set a tight deadline and start planning and implementing.

I feel energised when someone truly comments and shares views about a topic I write; when they relate to it and tell their own story or when they say they were tempted to try something after reading my post. Its a beautiful feeling.

I hope I can cross 1000 here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Diminishing trades

I was returning home after running an errand this evening. I saw these three guys sharpening knives in front of a bakery beside my house. 

I ran to my house to get the two kitchen knives to sharpen. It wasn't necessary but I was excited. It's not easy to spot mobile knife sharpeners these days. These men were still sticking to a legacy.
What are these nice mechanical knife sharpening machines called? They are run by pedalling a wheel which rotates the grinding wheel mounted on top. The knife's edge is held parallel to the wheel. The fire sparks that emits while sharpening is something nice to look at but better be away from them. 
I remember seeing them often as a kid. By the time I came back with the knives, they were gone! I cursed myself for not hurrying up. Then I saw them carrying their machines on their back and walking away. I tried whistling to get their attention, well I'm not a good whistler. So I just ran after them and got the knives sharpened. I asked them why they left so soon from the bakery, they said nobody came by to sharpen the knives and so they left.
Seeing them pedal the wheel as the knife was being sharpened was mesmerising. Yeah! i find that little joy in things as these. Moments like these take you back to your growing up years. Not everyone wait for these people nowadays. It is much easier to replace a blunt knife with a new one rather than waiting for these guys when you are not sure when they'd turn up and if you are going to be at home and notice them when they do turn up.
Busy lives, most of us work, start early and return late. And the little time we get free; we either want to chill at home sleeping or on TV or loaf around. I was thinking how much such old profession and trades are getting lost these days. We used to have women selling coconut broomsticks, rangoli powder or even men on their cycles coming to your doorstep to dye old clothes or even mobile tailors. 
Alas! It's a priviledge if you come across any of these bygone traders these days. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Why I stare

Err....I don't stare; though a friend always catches me "staring" at people.

I like to observe at things happening around. I can observe a cow swatting away flies with her tail as she is walking in her own rhythm without being bothered about all those honks on the road with the same interest as I would watch a lady swirling her hair as she talks to her male friend flirtatiously.

One can watch the world go by caught up in a frenzy of activities. You could actually create a humorous situation in your head and place yourself amidst those serious ones and laugh at it. Let me admit; mind you, this is a secret I haven't revealed to anyone yet. As a student; I've often visualised my teachers breaking into a dance in front of the class whenever they would be annoyed at the class and yelling. What I would visualise was an imaginary transition from their tense mood to a jovial one and start to dance! See! this is what I am talking about; it's impossible to ever get bored.

The indulgence I get in a crowded place like waiting at the airport lounge or sipping coffee by the street watching crowds is inexplicable. I get to be myself - being shy and reserved, I can easily hide and be non-existent as I watch the world!. I love the anonymity; times when you don't have to force a small talk or smile or hide your face behind a book.  At such times, there is no need to feel guilty at all. You can just sit aimlessly for minutes if not for hours without someone having to stare back at you and just let your imagination flow.

Watching people and animals - oh! it is so enriching. It has made me undergo a deluge of emotions - from feeling happy to sad, from feeling accomplished to worthless. There was this one instance where I was waiting for my connecting flight from Guadalajara, Mexico to Guatemala. There were this Central American origin American family who were enjoying their pepperoni pizza while the kids played on their respective latest iPhones. My hand involuntarily clutched my 3 year old broken and dented old iPhone and buried it deep in my handbag. I didn't want to be seen with a broken phone. It was a funny reaction of mine! Nevertheless; the after-thoughts were interesting. Why did I feel ashamed? Was it because I felt though I earned; I couldn't afford a latest iPhone? Or was it the thought of feeling thankful that I at least had a phone and was able to travel to my favourite destination? Was it the thought of how could few indulge while the vast majority had no access to basic water and food?

It's the butterfly effect; these observations invoke in me. It could start as a silly thought and end up with "what is our purpose in life?" kind of philosophical question. Like the way it happened last week. I was on my way to work when I saw a dog lying on the side of the road on a flyover. I just had two seconds of glimpse. Right after that; a volley of emotions consumed me. Was the dog alive yet? Why was it on the side lying? How long has it been there? It was hot and the road would be scorching. Did it get hit by a vehicle and put aside to die or was it left there from some other place? Why was a lone dog on the flyover? They don't generally do that! The entire morning went in brooding and a mixture of sadness and guilt for not stopping by. Even as I was commuting; I had to control the urge of asking the driver to turn around or stop. What would I do even if I turned around and went near the dog. Which auto or cab would be ready to transport an injured animal to a hospital.

I actually left office in the noon; unable to control my thoughts. I went back to check and the dog was not there anymore; perhaps corporation disposed off the body. Throughout this ordeal; I was actually contemplating whether had I not been looking around; would I have felt this guilt and agony? What was it? Does it mean these pathetic things don't happen if I didn't see them?

Well, the post turned out to be intense. That's the beauty of observing things around you. You learn a lot, you introspect, you become aware. The spirit of life, the void of lifelessness, the ray of hope and the vacuum of despair - they all co-exist.

Friday, April 21, 2017

An Effort

Writing has been very enjoyable. Its a stress reliever to me; to express your views, to write a poem, to share what you observe and your perspective. I've always looked forward to writing - purely on the basis of sharing my views and my experiences with like minded folks.

However; blogging has turned out to be an effort these past few months. I often make up my mind to write regularly here and then don't turn up. The step motherly treatment meted out to my blog is unfair; yet why am I repeating it?

I was retrospecting; what's making me wary of blogging. I think its more than one factor - firstly; the very thought of signing in, drafting and publishing an article is time consuming. It also means using a laptop or a notebook. Apart from that; the lack of interaction with bloggers and readers here has diminished to a great extent. I remember those heydays 4-5 years ago when people would start pinging me if they didn't see a post every 3 days here. We waited for the posts, commented and shared views honestly and defended the views with passion. The views were very much unbiased and without expectations. A reader didn't comment on one's post to be returned a favour.
And then; it all started tumbling down. You-comment-on-mine and I-will-do-the-same trend started. Some of the posts were totally irrelevant; more like adverts promoting a product. The fun waned. It was no more passionate, no more fun.

Likewise; reading a post and interacting with each other is not instant here. And it is not easy to have a n-way conversation. To grab attention is one thing, to manage to keep a party interested given the medium is impossible. And then I wonder; do I write for myself or for others? Of course; a verbal diarrhoea of my views and thoughts does make me feel lighter; but I would love a chatter, a discussion. It definitely soothes - to be heard, to be encouraged, to be criticised. We humans thrive on interactions isn't it?

I noticed my medium of sharing and participating has shifted from blog to facebook. I dont think it happened suddenly - the ease of use, the interaction and accessibility has made it compulsive for me to share more on Facebook than here. No! I dont have thousands of friends; i have a hundred. And yes, I know each one of them; I am not someone who would friend a total stranger. Facebook for me is not to show my day to day activity; unless its beautiful and it can motivate others. I share my poems, haikus, sketches and photography there. I write posts, share my opinions and at times engage in passionate debates - all those things that I was doing here!

Perhaps; its a natural transition and I shouldn't be too worried unless I stopped writing. Writing matters; not the medium of sharing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Crunch of the snow as I walk on them
Muffled by the howling wind.
Air wet and frigid; I bend my head down
Protecting my naked face from the biting cold
As if in respect to the harsh weather.

Rhythmic marching; one step at a time
Not a creature in sight; an unwelcome eerie.
This night seems to be long.
Awaiting in anticipation; a flicker of light,
The warmth and the coziness of bed.

I wish someone was walking with me.
My hurried steps wander; homebound.
The blurry slush, squelching as I drag my feet.
I’ve defined my path, so no turning back.
I’ll defend it; until I hit the high wall.

Crossing a bridge; rickety and narrow.
The black of the water shimmer
The moon’s imperfect reflection; dances.
Teasing me of my situation. Ah! An irony.
Wait in the wings I will; quiet and patient.

Squeezing the compass in my hand, I continue.
I turn a bend and find myself at crossroad.
Two narrow path fork; which one now?
Halting in my footsteps, I gaze as far as I could
Do I see any signs of light? Far away?

Those thoughts reach me again.
My fingers caressing your face.
The scar on your nose; you were conscious about.
I really liked them. Have I told you that?
Sure, its not relevant now; is it?

I cast my eyes again on the forks.
I need to pick a path and continue.
Its gotten late. I feel so lonely.
Guess I should keep walking.
And I wish you were walking with me. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Picture clicked by me at Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka back in 2012.