Thursday, March 1, 2018

Sridevi - some thoughts

Looking at your phone, the moment you wake up, has become the norm of the day and it has overtaken the first spot from "brushing your teeth" amongst the " first things in the morning" contenders .

Last Sunday I woke up to the news of actress Sridevi' s death . At first I thought it was fake. Then the quintessential hunt for facts on Google followed and it was true. It was shocking of course . Not because she was a celebrity or because she was a diva, but because these incidents or news keep knocking you on the head to remind you how unpredictable life is. No one knows when a thunder bolt or a shower of flowers can land on anyone.

Being a Tamil girl , I can't help reminiscing some of her beautiful roles in Kollywood. The timid Brahmin wife in Meendum Kokila , the confused adolescent in 16 vayathinile , the girl battling some ironies in life in varumayin niram sivappu . She was beautiful and perfectly aware of how she needed to carry herself . I was seeing one of her interviews and yes, she was a woman of few words . Perhaps that was one of the key things that helped her soar to that height.

I read somewhere that she was around 10 when someone cast her in an adult role . Some of the best known directors we know were ruthlessly self centred when casting their heroines . Fresh faces ! That's what they needed ! 10? Seriously ?

A lot of things are going on in the media about her death, some dignified and some absolutely nasty . Of course then there are articles about these articles on social media as well.

Don't even think about those reporters hounding the related people to speak two words about their emotions and their mental state due to the loss. We can't blame the reporters alone. Look at the number of hits these videos are receiving .

I normally do not feel compelled to write about a recent headlines or current affairs.

What triggered me to write this post were some of the forwards I am receiving on WhatsApp.  There are so many meme s and jokes about bathtubs . About actresses removing the bathtubs in their homes . About hen pecked husbands taking their wives to a holiday in hotels with bath tubs . It's endless.

Yes we need to take everything in life with a smile. But is it mature behaviour to make a mockery of someone else's death or a family s loss just because we are not related in any way but recipients of the news ? Will we relish it if someone made a joke of a personal loss ?

Then there was video taken secretly in the place where her body had been placed with the caption " photography was prohibited but someone managed to film it " . So we all decide to storm into the privacy , the related people had requested and happily spread it around . Its social media after all !

 One of my favourite quotes from filmdom is "with Great power comes great responsibility " .

The highest sense of responsibility needs to come when another person is suffering be it someone not at all connected to us.

When someone has lost her life this need for responsibility gets even more heightened.

The rate at which we send forwards has blinded us leaving no time to pause and think . We consider it our birth right to troll and hurt .

Maybe it's beyond control today and the numbers are infinite and they themselves may have developed an immunity towards these. But nevertheless

Let us pause and think.
Let us pause and reflect.
Let us learn to respect people.
Let us learn to be respectful atleast at the time of their deaths.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Silent noises

My kids have a book called "Night Noises" . It's about a little boy who lays awake in bed at night and tries to figure out the sources of the different sounds he hears ....

This morning when I woke up, a myriad of sounds came to my ears .

The top on the list are the birds from the trees near my apartment . The cuckoo bird and it's winged friends announce to the world that the sun's rays are almost there . Blessed are they for they don't have mobile phones that make people lie awake; as they read post after post of the ill-effects of not sleeping on time , like them and share tgem with their sleep deprived counterparts all over the world;it's an ironical world.

The cars on the road make rhythmic sounds as they speed along one after the other . This noise is different based on the weather ....if it's after a rainy night the splish and splash of the water can be heard too! Oh yes there is that guy who simply cannot go slow, even if his rush cruelly disturbs the calmness of dawn and is adamant  to spread the noise of his blaring horn !

Sometimes there is a gentle breeze outside and I can hear the moving leaves;. the twig that decides to free itself from the bondage of the tree and fall down; sometimes the rain drops that slide like an excited kid to the tip of the leaves and start their journey to kiss the earth!

In a few minutes the alarm on my phone starts ringing . The phone is on vibration and does a jiggle on my bedside table . We have a small musical clock that my husband had purchased in Europe . That starts chiming too . These three sounds compete with each other in piercing through the morning silence and to push me out of my bed .

My eyes and muscles battle with the inner push to rush and wake up my son and get ready for school .

On a week day the push mostly wins and there we are running and running...there is a war between
 patience and annoyance ....
calm utterings and tensed yells....

the silent noises slowly give way to the chaos ....

Monday, January 22, 2018

A new thing to learn each day

I had a boss a few years ago who used to tell us that one ought to learn at least one new thing per today .

It could be anything - a simple new feature on the phone , a new word , a cooking tip , a new short cut on Microsoft word or excel ..anything

I really liked this principle . So what new thing did I learn today?

Day One :
I visited the restaurant in my office for breakfast and I saw the lady there chopping cabbage .
So what's there to learn from there ?She held the cabbage like a ball in her hand, then she made vertical slits and then horizontal ones and then sliced her knife through and whoah ! the pieces of cabbage fell like magic. It was an amusing sight.
I am not going to try that at home for i would get neither her precision nor the way she aimed perfectly at the cabbage but it did look like a special skill indeed .

Day two:

I enrolled for swimming classes . I have been wanting to do it for so long and this time I surprised myself by actually doing it . First day a few tips from the coach is what entered my system as a new learning .

Day three :

I took a new bus route back home from work . In a place like Singapore that's highly digital it is fun to get down somewhere in the city and then figure your way out using the numerous apps available , the hundreds of road signs and of course ones own common sense and sense of direction . I thoroughly enjoy this activity .

So what new thing did you learn today ?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Few realizations in just a few seconds

Today I met Mr.Bean.

Well that's what I thought.  For a second .

I was starting from office . As I stepped outside the lift I saw this man walking towards me .

Hey Rowan Atkinson I thought! That's one tough surname to pronounce .

Then the realization stuck me that this particular gentleman was Indian though he bore a very strong resemblance to our comic hero !

That's when he realized I was staring at him thinking "God  knows how many people have told him about the strong resemblance ."

I also realized that he had caught me staring at him when he gave me a quizzical look .

I quickly averted my gaze and walked away.

All of this happened in like a few seconds . But just look at the number of words I have managed to type !

Have you ever caught yourself staring at someone and realized that he caught you staring? 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Few memories from the railway tracks

Yesterday  I was getting back home after work on a local train. I was standing next to the door and for a second, leaned against it and closed my tired  eyes. I became conscious of the rhythmic noise of the train wheels moving on the tracks. Nostalgia and memories aplenty filled my mind and it was kind of soothing and familiar. Like a home turf!

Every trip to my grandparents place in Chennai would be on the Mangalore Mail from Kozikode. We would start at around 5 in the evening and reach at around 6 next morning.

Air pillows and blankets were common things most of us carried apart from chapathis or idly neatly wrapped in newspaper parcels. For a kid of 7 or 8 being able to fully inflate an air pillow and securing it properly was a huge milestone. So was removing the plug , deflating it and rolling it properly. In a time when there were no mobile phones, one had no choice but to engage in some discussions with the co-passengers. It was common to see two neighboring cabins getting engrossed in a vehement debate about some topic of interest to all.

When it was time to sleep, someone would politely ask if we can hoist the middle berth. I was fascinated by the way we used to attach them using those iron chains. Of course there would be exchanges of the seats for those unable to climb that ladder. Again being tall and strong enough to put up the middle berth was an achievement in itself.

Once we were supposed to catch a train at Salem junction. We both i.e. my brother and I were small kids. It was raining heavily and there was a kind of chill in the air. The station tea stall was open and they served ice cream. For us kids no matter what the time or the weather ice cream was ice cream.

Our dad merrily joined our childish craze and got us chocobars , a favorite before the Cornettos came in. We may have caught a cold after that but none of us cared. At that point our worlds had only one source of joy - icecream and we fully indulged in it. We often reminisce that night and how we happily munched on our vanilla and chocolate mix while it was raining cats and dogs on that small railway station. End of the day it is little joys that matter in the long run I guess.

As a parent I often wonder and assess whether I am able to give such little joys to my own kids. I guess that just happens in ways we don't realize but our children may remember.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Short Story - That Evening at the park

 I have written a short story after quite a long time for the Notion Press Contest here at Singapore.

Please do read it and if you like it, please vote for me.

Short Story - That Evening at the park #Notionpress -

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Can we smell or taste in our memory?

These days, I go on a 30 minute bus journey every morning. Initially I tried making some random conversations with the people seated next to me - the weather, the traffic, politics, the dog next door that was addicted to barking - there were a whole lot of topics  in queue to quench my insatiable thirst to educate the world about my opinions and thoughts. "Quite rainy today right?" I would quip and the girl next to me would slowly turn in my direction . The earphones inconspicuously lodged behind her tresses, in her ears, would reveal themselves to me and I would make an embarrassed apology. I get bombarded with glares of "Why are you talking to me? Don't you have your own cellphone? How dare you pull me out of the virtual world?" Hence, I have decided to be content with the company of my mobile device or the characters of a book that I am reading.

Apart from spreading messages on whatsapp that have absolutely no value in improving my life or that of the receiver's I listen to music. I feel that the earphone is definitely a beautiful invention.The poetic beauty of the lyrics enveloped in the permutations of the musical notes can make me ecstatic.  That moment in my life, when I am letting myself get drenched in the notes emanating from the player into my ears is bestowed by the universe on me and belongs only to me! Nothing - work pressure, family responsibilities, the complexities of my own self can touch it.

Strangely, a song that I heard in the morning, would hibernate in my mind after I alight from the bus and suddenly start playing back sometimes in the evening or even the next day. A specific part of the piece where the voice, or the crescendo of notes, or the intensity of the lyrics had managed to strike a chord - subconsciously though, would go on a repetitive mode! This would result in me humming those lines and experiencing a minuscule slice of the pleasure I had gotten while actually listening to the song.

While brooding about this , I observed something. We have five senses - sight, taste, smell, hearing and touch! But can our memory repeat all of them? I think the lanes of memory are restricted to the senses of sight and hearing. Once can only recollect the pleasures or displeasure that we associated with these senses and the situations where we came across them, and not the actual sense itself! Oops, long sentence! Did that make sense?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
We call it mind's eye and yes. We often have memories as images and it is very easy to recollect a sight or a scene from the past. The teacher that said an interesting story, a picturesque scene from our holiday, scenes from the past that we relate to intense emotions, be it happiness or sorrow - hanging out with friends, moments with family, moments when we lost loved ones, moments when an accomplishment gently added itself to our cap of feathers , moments when we felt insulted, times when we felt embarrassed , the expressions of various people during these moments - They can come back and play like a movie in our heads. Think of a person that you are very attached to, then think of someone who derives pleasure in adding misery to your life. What came to your mind?

The same thing applies to hearing - We can recollect things people said to us and their voices would play back in our heads. I am sure that as you read this you are trying to do this in your head. Recollect something your boss, or your spouse or your friend said yesterday and yes, you can hear their voice , their words and their intonations too. Think of any song that you like and you can recollect the actual singer's voice be it male or female. Not just that but the entire set of musical and digital instruments that worked alongside in creating the song! The words that were said to admonish us would make their presence felt with absolute ease. I think they reside on the topmost layer of our memory. Words that caused us hurt would stay like a birth mark forever!

What about smell, taste and sight? I think the human brains abilities are a bit diminished with respect to reproducing these senses in our memory. Think of your favorite food. Biriyani, Icecream, Masala dosa! Whatever! Yes you can see sights of it in your mind, you may be filled with memories of when you ate it last or who makes it well. But can you actually feel the taste in your head? Yes your mouth might water but its at the memory or want of the pleasure. Not at actually experiencing it. If we could, how easy would it be to follow healthy diets right? We can keep eating salads and be satisfied with memories of tasting fries and burgers!

The same thing applies to smell too. Can we actually smell something in our memory?Go ahead, try smelling roses or sandalwood. Again we would be filled with memories related to it. For instance my memory rushes to Guruvayur temple and the priests there vigorously rubbing small blocks of sandalwood against rocks to make the paste given as prasadham. The sights and the sounds from the scene come back,but the smell? I would have to wait for my next visit to Guruvayur for that.