Thursday, April 27, 2017

#atozchallenge 2017 w for where

Where?  M said W for where.

God,its all the effect of being taught phonics. When i was a kid w was only for watch and it remained so for quite a long time.

Well, where are we going?  As a species where is mankind heading... One side we have brains that are developing and inventing never imagined things.... I remember visiting my grandparents in Chennai during the holidays.There were very few houses in the neighborhood that had a telephone and my grandparents one was not one of them.When my dad who used to stay back in our residential town had to call us, he would call one of the neighbors, and my mother and we kids go their house and wait for my father's  second call which would follow. Of course not much could be discussed from a neighbors home.Switch back to the present and in one second we are communicating with so many people on Facebook,whatsapp etc. What a leap!

But have we learnt to live on this planet in peaceful coexistence?  How many problems are there that we have created? Most of us do not have the time to think about others leave alone the planet.  Where are we heading? 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 V for Vase (Fiction)

Shruthi's eyes were a unique brown - honey, but a kind of beautiful honey. Now they were weary and staring at some distant world beyond the cold white walls of the hospital.Suddenly, as if jerked out from there, they slowly moved towards the frail figure of her mother, who had finally given in to exhaustion and had dozed off in her chair.  Life had been like any other fifteen year old's, till a week back. A severe headache had suddenly assaulted her during basketball practice and she swooned. Who knew that, what she thought were headaches due to being in the sun would need a complicated brain surgery? It was scheduled at 9 am the next day.

Her eyes now moved to the white glass table in the corner of the room. The peacock shaped blue vase held some yellow flowers. She hated yellow - had always had. Now they seemed to foretell something sad and unfortunate. She was a child, yet old enough to understand the complications of what was going to happen. The table on the left was covered with bouquets and cards - Friends, classmates, relatives had been visiting her regularly wishing her and trying to get her spirits up. She was surrounded by love.Yet they haunted her - those yellow flowers. They gripped on to her psyche as if they had invisible tentacles. They seemed to scream at her "You are doomed. You are gone. " and laugh in ruthless,cruel mirth. A nurse came in and administered her a sedative and she slowly drifted off to sleep.

The next thing she knew was being gently woken up by the chief nurse. It was around 6 30 in the morning. After exchanging a few pleasantries, the nurse explained the procedures that they would follow before wheeling her to the OT. "I will come back in a few minutes" she said with a smile and departed. The white of her uniform moved away from Shruthi's vision giving way to the vase at the back. Shruthi's pulse quickened with excitement. She felt a sweet surprise and a kind of beautiful calmness. The yellow flowers were gone. The peacock vase now had roses...roses in different shades of red and pink...They were beautiful and bright. She felt good. She felt alive.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 U for Umbrella

The word umbrella reminds me of the book Granny Grandy's umbrella. Its a kids book and so none of you would have heard of it  suppose. But  I have read it to my son nearly a hundred times. Granny Grandy uses her umbrella when it rains, in the sun, in a dance, to stop a taxi and even to catch a thief. I read it to my little girl as well before she decided one day to make a 100 piece jigsaw puzzle out of it.

In Singapore we have rains throughout the year. Umbrellas are hence an inseparable part of our lives.
Yet the skies would feel very weepy whenever I forget to take an umbrella with me and have no nearby shelter.If  I did remember to take one, the poor spokes of my umbrella would prove themselves powerless in front of the winds that would have  seen me and decided to assume their strongest form.

Umbrellas of different types and shapes are used across India in various temples as part of the temple processions.

Image Credit:nevil zaveri on flickr Creative Commons

Image Credit:shankar s on flickr Creative Commons

I have seen pictures of Japanese umbrellas. I think a Japanese costume would be incomplete without it. Kimono clad ladies holding colorful umbrellas look so graceful and elegant.I just read on the internet that the Japanese umbrellas are called the 'Wagasa' and made using paper!Can you believe it? Found this information at http://japan-magazine.jnto.go.jp/en/1404_umbrella.html

Umbrellas form great props when used in a dance.  Needless to say Indian film industry has used it in so many of its songs.  The movie Shree 420 starring Nargis and Raj Kapoor was released in 1955 and it is one of my all time favorites.



In fact leave the romance, the tune and the lyrics. This song has so much rain that every time I see it, I start craving for some deep fried pakoda.(an Indian deep fried snack)

Monday, April 24, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 T for tortoise

The story of the hare and the tortoise and how it is important to be slow and steady to win the race is very popular all over the world. Atleast in places where there are hares and tortoises. I have heard different versions of the tale. A recent one I saw on TV was, the hare does not sleep but a final swimming component is added to the race. The hare speeds all the way till that segment and then he is at a loss. The tortoise catches up in a painstakingly slow manner and then swimming is a piece of cake for him. 
Image Credit:Keth Roper on Flickr Creative Commons


Another tortoise I know of is the mosquito coil brand. In fact like xerox, people did not know that 'Tortoise' was just the name of the brand and not the name of the product. 

Did you know that giant tortoises can live upto a 100 years?

Whats the difference between a turtle and a tortoise?

My son enlightened me as follows - Turtles live on land and may come to land only to lay eggs. Tortoises live on land and may or may not swim. A turtle is an omnvore, has webbed feet and a much shorter life span whereas the tortoise is a herbivore and lives a lot longer.

I Some species of turtles are endangered. There is a voluntary group in Chennai - Students Sea  Turtle Conservation Network [SSTCN] that does some work towards conservation of Olive Ridley turtles.As mentioned in their website https://sstcn.org/

"During this season we walk the beaches every night looking for their eggs which we collect and relocate to a safe place. When the turtle hatchlings emerge 45 days later, we release them safely into the sea. On Friday nights and Saturday nights we conduct a walk for interested people. We use this opportunity to interact with them, and create awareness about the plight of an endangered species and the state of the environment. "

Saturday, April 22, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 S for Sun

The big star, our planet has been happily revolving around, ever since it got formed  has currently caused a lot of ire and frustration in my home town. Summers in Chennai are scorching. I am sure that the unbearable heat should be the first topic of discussion in most of the phone calls coming into the coastal city of India.

I love the animated images of a smiling sun that usually adorn the boards and walls of preschools and kindergartens. Its kind of symbolic of all the bright happy things in life including the smiling faces of innocent children and their simple sweet worlds. Having said that, we cannot deny that today's internet equipped little brats grow out of their innocence a lot earlier.

I am thinking of the Circle of Line song from the movie 'The Lion King'. The rising sun and the male voice singing those Zulu lyrics with absolute zeal is simply mind blowing.

ImageCredit: Ong on FlickrCreativeCommons
The early morning sun's warmth can fill us with a lot of energy and positivity. A morning walk in our neighborhood park is one of my favorite activities. I usually see a lot of people sitting facing the rising sun and doing some exercise or tai chi or yoga. The surya namaskar or sun salutation routine taught as part of yoga  is supposed to be beneficial for almost every part of the body. The sun s rays also serve as a mood lifter. A few minutes of basking in the sun can make us brisk and happy We always feel better on bright sunny days rather than dull wet rainy days right? At least I do.

The sun is the reason for a lot of things around us - our climate, weather changes, the rains, morning night cycle, the existence of plants and what not. No wonder earth is clinging on tightly in its planetary orbit.I remember watching the live telecast of a solar eclipse live on TV once. Its a beautiful natural occurrence especially the diamond ring appearance after a total eclipse.It is a commendable thing that the sun's energy is getting harnessed through solar panels in many walks of life.

I just remembered something. My laundry that was hung out to dry is still on the clothes line thanks to the showers that dominated the weather today. Tomorrow being a Sunday, hope the star of our solar system decides to chase away the clouds and shines upon all of us and my clothes!


Friday, April 21, 2017

#AtoZChallenge R for Rabbit

I asked M, "R for?" sincerely hoping that like quite a few of the previous letters, she would tell me something unexpected. For a change, she told me the expected R for rabbit. What can I type about a rabbit?

I love animals, and I believe in coexisting with them in peace without disturbing their ecological systems and habitats. But I am not a big fan of very furry things, like guinea pigs and hamsters and rabbits. Big ones like cats and dogs are fine, no problem.I even love hugging them. But these smaller ones that love gnawing at things, kind of give me a ticklish feeling when I see them.Its akin to that strange repulsive feeling when chalk goes on with a screeching noise on a  blackboard or metal scraps against metal.  Its a DNA thing I suppose. I would not want to hold a rabbit or a guinea pig though I did not mind touching an iguana at a zoo recently with my son. 

I remember visiting the Hidimba temple at Manali,India. There , we have some women holding huge (really massive ) rabbits and using them to lure tourists for photo taking opportunities.I did not find those rabbits cute or attractive. They were quite shapeless and huge like big teddy bears. Now I did a google and found out that those rabbits are Angora rabbits whose wool is actually used like sheep wool. 

By the way did you know that a baby rabbit is called a kitten? A male rabbit is a buck, a female doe and a baby is a kitten. Are you imagining deer and cats now?


#AtoZChallenge 2017 Q for Queen

The rays of the setting sun fell on the lone big diamond on the crown and splattered across the room . There were numerous other stones but they seem to step backward and meekly pay obeisance to its glory.

The crown fit on her head perfectly. She stood erect with her held held high and her cheekbones shouted authority. She looked around and could see everyone - ministers,guards, soldiers,courtiers , people, children and the entire kingdom  bowing in front of her. It filled her with a weird sense...one of absolute power ...Ruthless, dangerous and overpowering . She wanted to simply charge ahead, crushing anything that dared to stand against her under her feet.

"This thing s jinxed" thought the museum curator as she carefully put back the crown in its place.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 P is for penguin

Image Credit: Creative Commons on Flickr by ume-y
There used to be a brand called Kelvinator that sold refrigerators in India. Its logo used to be a penguin and I remember an animated penguin going "Its the coolest one!" I wonder if its still there in the market. Penguins remind us of cold, ice of course.  Did you know that some species of penguins are found in Africa as well?

Happy Feet movie is one of my all time favorites. The protagonist Mumble simply cannot sing unlike the other kids in the penguin colony. He prefers to dance and in fact, he  loves to dance. He does get criticized for it, poor fellow! This movie gives some lessons in recognizing and accepting individual talents especially in kids. It also sheds light on how various natural environments are getting disturbed and altered by human encroachments.

As depicted in the movie , the emperor penguin is one creature where the dad is Super Dad! The mother lays the eggs and goes off to the oceans to feed and the entire incubation is done by the father.  Its no easy feat. The two months of the Antarctic Winter is spent by the father penguin holding the egg carefully on top of his feet and he needs to maintain his balance. Any exposure to the freezing weather could destroy the egg and the chick inside. I am making a mental note to broadcast this info on whats app next Father's Day! 

Yesterday on Facebook I saw a video of a couple . There seems to be a machine that can give men an idea about what labor pain feels like and the pregnant woman was having fun trying it on her spouse and reminding him again and again what she would be going through in a few days time! This video was made on a light note of course.

Like the emperor penguin, nature does have a fair share of creatures where the father's job is a lot more tougher than the mother in the reproduction cycle. Nature! It never ceases to amaze me!    

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 O for Orange

I have a basic doubt about this citrus fruit.

Which came first - the fruit or the color? Have you wondered that?
Whether the orange fruit is called so because it is colored orange
or the color orange is called so because its the color of the fruit?
Image Credit: April Killingsworth Flickr Creative Commons

Another interesting take is that - An orange usually has 11 segments. (Most of the ones I have had in India atleast) . In tamil , the words Aaru and Anju stand for 5 and 6 respectively. So
5+6 = 11 = Aaru+Anju = Aaranju = Orange 

 In India, at least in the South, an orange is something you simply peel and then eat the segments. Its closest cousin the sweet lemon (Mosambi ) would be all over the place as well and would mainly be used when you decide to perform the social obligation of visiting the distant relative whom some virus had earlier visited.

Only after moving to South East Asia did I discover that these oranges are called mandarin oranges. They are an important auspicious symbol during Chinese New Year and are very commonly given as gifts.Apparently the Chinese word for orange sounds similar to the one for wealth and that is the reason for the celebrity status the fruit enjoys during that time. I discovered the other orange type , I mean the one  I was alien to  in the super markets here - the ones used for juice extraction mainly.

 I don't like orange juice much. At least the commercially available ones that claim to bring the freshness straight from the orchards to our breakfast tables. They don't taste like oranges.Do they? Heck, they are not even orange in color usually! They are a weird yellow!

If I were to ask you name one thing that is orange in color?( Oranges not allowed :D). What props up in your mind immediately?  The color of the evening sky on a beach when the sun is about to set is what I can think of.

Let me know....




Sunday, April 16, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 N is for Nose

I recently read a novel where a person becomes very successful in the perfumery business. The principle reason for this being that his olfactory functions are far superior than the average person and he is able to clearly distinguish between the various perfumes.

I compare that to my own visit to the perfume sections of department stores. Within two three whiffs, the only thing clear to my smelling nerves  would be the box of coffee beans the salesperson would smilingly thrust at my face. Fruity, citrus, flowery, musk - they all would intertwine into chaos ha ha

When it comes to sensory disabilities what usually gets a lot of attention is sight followed by hearing and speech. I wonder if there is anything called disability to smell. Definitely it wont be as debilitating as being blind or mute. Google tells me its called Anosmia. All of us have a slight experience with it when our dear old flu virus decides to attack us and our entire head feels like somebody just fit a balloon pump to it and is pumping away happily.

I have heard of a distant relative who loved the smell of  inhalers and pain balms so much that he repeatedly used them and this led to a loss of the sense of smell. This seems harmless but on a deeper thought, it could be dangerous. Food I think would be a huge problem. Food is half taste and half smell. You would not know if your food has gone stale unless its clearly visible. You would not know if there is a gas leak.

I guess the only thing you might be able to smell is when you are in a situation where you smell something fishy!

I have read somewhere that if not for the sense of smell, an apple and potato slice would taste similar. So try biting into an apple and potato slice the next time you catch a cold and try to figure out if they feel the same! 

Friday, April 14, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 M - Monkey, Mind, Meditation, Music

M actually said M for Mm...Hmm. I did consider writing a post on that. Well, since that cannot exactly classify as a word, I asked her again and she said Monkey. I suggested M for mummy and that is when she remembered that her own name started with that.

Monkeys are quite close to us in DNA and I have read that chimpanzees have started using tools and that gorillas can be taught sign language. Till my son enlightened me, I was not aware that apes are those monkeys that do not have tails. I am not even sure if I realized that gorillas and orangutans were tailless before that.

A saying we often hear is that the human mind is a monkey. There is a story in the Mahabharatha where the character Yudishtira says "The mind is faster than wind and our worries  are more numerous than straws". I am not exactly sure which parts of the grey matter in our brains control all the non-stop chatter that goes on inside all of our heads but yes there is this monkey (or a whole team of monkeys) that get easily influenced by factors internal and external and keep hopping.

Something that is stressed upon so much these days and is sought after is meditation. It is believed to relieve one of stress, calm ones mind and bring more clarity. The big question is how does one go about it?

There are numerous schools out there ....Meditation retreats where people go like a vacation and indulge in this guided practice for like say ten days. Mindful meditation is another thing that is getting a lot of attention too. Yoga schools and branches teach various meditation practices. 

Some religious practices like chanting of shlokas are meditative practices too - A few moments when we choose to simply detach ourselves from everything around and focus only on the words coming from our mouths. When we do that, our breathing falls into a rhythmic pattern and the mind gets some rest. 

Art and music can be meditative too to those who are able to immerse in it and let themselves go.Personally I feel, being a part of the music , i.e. learning to play an instrument or simply singing along to something we are listening would make us feel a lot more lighter. There would be moments when all that matters is 

The music around me and me in the music.

My monkey has done a not so bad job now in the past twenty minutes when I typed this post. Starting from the sign language of gorillas, I have traveled to playing the piano or the violin. 

To conclude I want to share a video on simple meditation advice given by a Tibetan monk on Facebook that I really liked. In fact I liked his message as well as the warm simple humorous way in which he expresses it.


I don't know much about meditation but sometimes when we feel agitated or anxious , a few deep breaths do help in calming I think.

#AtoZChallenge 2017 L for Lion

I think M has started to make things tricky! Yesterday I started with A for and she kept saying Nothing,Nothing! all the way to K with a mischievous grin. 

Lion - What are the words you would associate with the king of the jungle? Power? Ferocity? Style? Leadership? 

This big cat is one creature upon whom nature has bestowed a clear difference in appearance between the two genders. Wonder how a lion will look if somebody manages to do some styles with the his mane. Disney has tried it in animation form in movies like 'The Lion King' of course.What I  find unique in a lion are its walk and the depth of its piercing looks.  

People belonging to Zodiac symbol Leo are supposed to have unique traits. They are confident, loyal , friendly and above all are born leaders.

I am a citizen of India and am residing in Singapore. The name Singapore translates to "Lion City" and the popular tourist mascot of the city 'The Merlion' is half fish and half lion. India's national emblem features four Asiatic lions standing back to back, adapted from a similar sculpture that was atop a pillar at Sarnath erected by emperor Ashoka. 

Some deities in Hinduism have the lion as their vahana or mount/vehicle. I have read somewhere that what it signifies is that a person with power should not let it dominate him or his thinking. He should rise above its grip on his ego and act responsibly with righteousness . 

#AtoZChallenge2017 K for kangaroo

K is for kangaroo.

What does kangaroo remind you of?

Usually we would get reminded of a baby kangaroo in its mother's pouch. Or we would get reminded of Australia and Sydney Opera House and our long planned holiday to Australia yet to take effect.

When i was reading about kangaroos i read that the joeys urinate and defecate inside the mother's pouch. As I read in a Lifesciences Project "The lining of the pouch absorbs some of the mess, but occasionally the mother will need to clean it out, which she does by inserting her long snout into the pouch and using her tongue to remove the contents"....Hmm....Being a mother is never easy whether you are human or not!

Another interesting fact I learnt is that kangaroos can swim!!  I had no idea

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

#AtoZChallenge J for Juggle

I asked M "J for?"  She was not agreeable to the question itself as the alphabets start from A. So I had to start from A with A for and go all the way to J. Now as we move ahead with this challenge this routine is going to get tougher . :)

She said J for "juggly". 

She did add that if you juggle oranges you need to keep tossing them from one hand to another or else the oranges would fall down and get spoilt. Makes sense.

The word juggle reminds me of visiting the circus with my family as a kid. "Gemini Circus" used to be famous then. When a circus set up a tent in the city, it was a matter of discussion everywhere and a great opportunity for a family outing.

The acrobats in their glittering costumes would stun us with their death defying performances. Atleast to a 7 or 8 year old's eyes they were definitely death defying. I remember the biker going round and round in an enclosed metal sphere. The trapeze artists going to and fro and the clown who would always look lost amongst all the talented acrobats and purposely fall down to evoke laughter. The dogs that would do the tricks and the tightrope walkers and the jugglers of course. 

We are all jugglers in a way. Trying to juggle different roles and responsibilities. Oh yes! each one of us plays a multitude of roles at a time and tries to do justice to every single one of them. Every one of that role is significant in this huge game called life and we all try to do our best in all of those roles - at home, work or otherwise.Our constant struggle is to juggle all the oranges perfectly so that they don't fall.

So if you are reading this, stand up , look into the mirror and applaud for yourself. (One from me too). We all are doing our best. And sometimes our best is all that is required.


Monday, April 10, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 I for Igloo

This was the conversation this morning between M and I .

Me: M, Can you tell me a word that starts with I?
Image Credit:Steven Roberge on Flickr.com

M: I for Igloo

Me:Igloo?

M:Yes (with 100% conviction)

Me: What is an igloo?

M: Its icy. It has a semicircle with some lines. Oh yes and it has a small hole. (As she describes, she draws all of it in the air with her tiny fingers)

Me: Oh...Who lives there?

M: Kolar bear(Not a typo, thats how she calls them). Well, not a big kolar bear. Because they cannot fit in. Only little kolar bears.

Me: Its polar bear

M: Yeah, p...pa ...pa ...Pole(With a whole lot of stress on the P)

Me: So the baby polar bear goes inside and the Mummy waits outside?

M: Yes, Also the daddy polar bear, But the baby polar bear can go inside. Also the brother and the sister. (Then suddenly lighting up with a memory from class she adds) Jake has a sister too. 

Me: What do polar bears eat?

M: mmmm??? I dont know! Ice?? (She looks at me unable to figure out what on earth will be available on an icy terrain)

Me: They eat fish

M: Oh yeah, they catch the fish with their mouth and eat. (Phew! Last time she said they catch it with their hands and use a fork and knife!)

Me: What color is a polar bear?

M: White,Snow is white too.

By the way a fact I learnt from my son. Polar bear skin is black , not white. Its fur is clear and appears white by reflecting the light, just like snow.http://www.earthrangers.com/wildwire/omg_animals/what-colour-is-a-polar-bear/

Sunday, April 9, 2017

#Atozchallenge 2017 H for head

M gave me H for Head.

For now, i am breaking my own, thinking about what to pen down for this post.
The first thing that comes to my mind is the Queen of Hearts or the Red Queen played by Helena Boham Carter in the Tim Burton  movie Alice in Wonderland. The antagonist has an obnoxiously huge head and goes "Off with his head" at the drop of a hat.

Head can refer to that part of our body, nicely perched upon our torso, where our gray cells reside and define who we are. It can be a verb as well. Whatever we do in life, we need to often stop and retrospect where we are heading!

We are surrounded by and sometimes we ourselves are, people acting as heads - heads of companies,  institutions,  organizations, families - the heads of these heads have many a mind boggling decision to make!

During our trip to Shimla, our hotel lounge had numerous stuffed heads of animals - hunters trophies!  Hunting for sport is something i totally disagree wth. What fun can one have in killing a helpless animal! That too using guns and other weapons against which nature's fiercest claws and fangs stand helpless.

Then we have these headlines that news channels keep throwing at us all day long. Nowadays they are breaking the news so much that we no longer have headlines. Only head circles.  It keeps going round and round and round! We need to be a little headstrong to not let all of the negativity to affect us.

That reminds me of headaches. They can be intolerable whether real or used as a figure of speech.
I remember reading a folklore about Tenali Raman,  a historical court jester and poet in India.  It seems once Goddess Kaali (a Hindu Goddess)  appeared in front of him displaying  all her hundred heads.  On seeing her,  he starts shaking with laughter.  Angered by this, she demands an explanation.  He says " A bout of flu and runny nose with a single head is too much for me to bear. I am just wondering how it would be if you catch a cold in all your heads! " 
Let me stop at this before the head starts spinning any further.... Mine and yours!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 G for - Goat, Grass, Green and Greece

On our way to my son's art class yesterday, I asked the kids for words beginning with G. M gave me a barrage of words. My son suggested Greece.

One adage I like, and believe in, is The grass is always greener on the other side.
We often look at people and situations different from our own, and assume that its all rosy and nice. But life would not even be half as interesting as it is now, without all these problems and challenges we face on a day to day basis. Like its being told to us time and again, through whatsapp, facebook and twitter posts - Every person is fighting his own battles. Every situation has its negative sides as well.

That reminds me of a story I read as a kid. An old man goes to a shop and buys sun glasses for himself. Green seems to give his tired eyes the much required coolness. He returns home and remembers that he has to feed the goat. He rakes up some grass from the barn which his pet refuses to eat as it has dried up a bit. After some thought, the old man removes his sunglasses and puts them on the goat . Whoa! The grass is now green and the animal starts munching away happily.

Now I am planning a rapid fire of sorts with what all comes to my mind when  I think of the words Greek and Greece


  • The Greek civilization of course and all my history teachers. 
  • Greek Gods and men with chiseled bodies getting compared to these folks
  • All the Greek God based Hollywood movies - the clashes and wraths of the Titans
  • The story of the Trojan war and Menelaus, Helen, Paris and Hector. The movie Troy
  • Pythagoras and Archimedes and all the other G(r)eeks with high functioning brains who concocted all those theorems that we had to painstakingly prove in Maths exams through Higher Secondary School.                                                             
  • Alpha, Beta,Gamma, kappa, delta, psi and all the other Greek alphabet letters, modern science is generously using
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Greek salad - I love that
  • The Olympics and Athens
  • References to earliest form of democracy 
  • αββµ∆∏βα∆∆ - Now that sounds like Greek to me!







Thursday, April 6, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 - F for ....? (Flash fiction)

He had always been under an assumption that his neighborhood was a very safe place.Everyone seemed friendly and nice. Until two days ago.

The screams of that unfortunate man still echoed in his ears. That bloody sight had tormented him with nightmares and they would stay with him for life. He was sure.

Instinctively he turned around. There he was - That murderer. How could he forget that face! He was coming towards him or rather in his direction. He was menacingly advancing, and yes, he could see his weapons too! May be he would not harm him. Or would he? What would he get injuring someone diminutive like him? For that matter he had never gotten in his way. Even that day, he had been a mute spectator to his horrific act.

His heartbeat seemed louder than any other noise he had ever heard before.

 The shark moved past the small fish and the latter breathed a sigh of relief.M gave me F for fish.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 E for Egg

M continues to surprise me. I was expecting E for elephant as that is what she always says. I think she suspects Amma's daily questioning her with just one letter has some sinister purpose. She said e for egg.

I come from a family of vegetarians and eggs were also a strict no-no at home. But as a kid, and in my teens, I have tasted eggs in different forms outside of our home. These were rare occurrences though but I did like the taste.

When I went to the US on a deployment from my company, I was pretty excited. It was the first time I was visiting a foreign country. I was going to be staying on my own, in an apartment, with my own kitchen.Strictly speaking I was not on my own, I was moving into an apartment one of my colleagues had been staying alone in. I was looking forward to becoming a queen in culinary art. The fact that I had never had to cook on my own before, seemed quite trivial. My mom had taught me quite a bit and so my cooking skills were quite beyond boiling water and making instant noodles.

With eggs though I had zero experience. Zero experience with microwave too. Here was a machine that had transformed lives with its capabilities and it could do wonders for me.

It was day two after i set my foot on American soil.My flatmate was sleeping. In fact, it being a Sunday, except for the jet lagged me , the whole city was sleeping. I decided to make breakfast for myself and wanted to boil an egg.

My dumb head told me - You had boiled carrots the day before on the microwave and it could boil your egg too! I happily placed my egg inside, set the timer and waited - plate , cutlery , salt , pepper all awaiting the neat oval boiled end result. 

Bang! My roommate was jolted out of a peaceful slumber in the wee hours of a weekend morning.(It was still dark if I remember correctly) 

The egg burst and you can imagine what a mess it would have caused. The fragments were all over the insides of the oven - gooey, sticky, smelly! The cleaning that I had to do, the smell, the wrath of the poor girl who had to wake up before the best thing happened in an early morning dream...Phew!!! 

Now I don't take eggs except for the unavoidable piece of cake at a birthday party. Hence me and my microwave oven are safe :D

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 D for Dog

M went for the usual word for D. D for dog.

At first, I thought I would write about some experiences with dogs(I don't have a dog) like

  • the neighbor's German Shepherd that had bitten my little brother, or 
  • the two cute pugs that I see every Friday evening being walked by a lady here, or
  • the abandoned friendly dog in my neighborhood, that hated white cars, and would chase them with a terrible ferocity totally different from his usual soft, loving nature.


There have quite a few posts for A,B and C on dogs these past three days. I thought I would brush my memory and meander through my not-from-my-real-life dog memories, as in,  from fiction and on screen.

I have always been a fan of mystery stories. Enid Blyton's Famous Five Series were a childhood favorite. It is about the sleuthing adventures of four children and a dog called Timothy, Timmy for short, who means the world to his owner, the tomboyish Georgina, George for short.

Marley & Me is a book I thoroughly enjoyed. "Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog"  is the caption of the book and it describes the experiences of the author and his family with Marley, an extremely destructive and impulsive labrador. I have seen the movie too, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston but as all book lovers would usually vouch for - The movie was good but the book was definitely better. The episode where Marley swallows a gold necklace, and the steps the couple take for its recovery is hilarious.

I love Harry Potter and all the 7 books in the series. (Well, I liked the first few better than the more violent concluding parts). There is this huge three headed dog Fluffy, that guards the philosopher's stone and falls asleep on listening to the music from a flute. This one, I think the movie makers did a great job bringing it alive on screen.

101 Dalmatians was a movie we thoroughly enjoyed watching as a family - I mean my parents, my brother, and me.Like any other kid who watched the movie, I hated Cruella de Vil played very artistically by Glenn Close. In fact, except for places like the poles, where humans have no choice but to depend on animal hides to keep themselves warm, I detest the concept of killing animals for their fur.

 The mobile company Hutch(now Vodafone) launched a new series of commercials in India a few years ago featuring an adorable pug and a little kid with the tag line "Wherever you go our network follows". They became so popular that people started referring to the breed as "Hutch dog".


I have watched quite a few cartoon episodes of Garfield, the cat, with my son. John's dog Odie, a friendly yellow dog is usually taken for a ride and bossed around by cunning Garfield. There is one episode where the latter gets him to  do some tricks at a dog show, and is desperate to win by hook or crook, as the prize is a huge plate of his favorite lasagna.

I am an ardent fan of Tamil movie superstar Rajinikanth, and the poster for the movie Baasha where he sits next to a great Dane  is too good and shouts out "Power". This part , I mean this fan craze -  its difficult for many to fathom, especially for those who don't speak Tamil or are not his fans. hi hi hi ...


Do share your non-real dog memories from books and movies in the comments section below.

Monday, April 3, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 - C for Cup

I asked the little one C for? I was now geared up for the likes of cranberry and crocodile and catapult. She kept it simple. Went for C for Cup.

My morning cup of hot coffee just went into my system and is doing its wonderful job of rejuvenating my being. Caffeine is bad, I hear you. We Tamilians always have our coffee with milk and so its 80% milk. Healthy Coffee :)

That reminds me of the tea shops at Ooty and Kodaikanal - hill stations and popular tourist spots in TamilNadu. In a misty weather, with a few drops of rain here and there, the mere sight of these tea peddlers and their carts can lift ones soul. The steam coming from the boiling water in the cart floats away and blends with the whiteness in the air and when the cup touches the lip for the first sip(I am getting poetic now) of that tea, its pure bliss. The smell of the tea, a little bit of ginger and some green cardamom is heavenly. Someone would be selling hot corn on the cob nearby and that aroma seeps into your being too.

As a kid I used to love pouring the tea into a saucer, holding it with both hands and slurping it with that bubbling noise. (A little repulsive to my polished being now of course but fun then ). Who uses saucers these days? I wonder!

Then there are all the cups associated with the sporting world. FIFA World Cup, Cricket World Cup and the like. When India first one the cricket world cup, I was two years old and when it won again the second time, my son was two years old. A simple sweet coincidence in life to smile about.

That takes me to a TV serial I watched as a kid. A girl from a poor family is a good athlete and wins a trophy in her school and takes it home happily. The next morning she finds her drunkard father using it as a cup for his morning fill of alcohol and is totally shattered. Alcohol addiction is a serious problem especially in the lower rung of the social ladder. Almost every house help who has worked for my mother or mother-in-law has told us stories of torment due to their drunkard spouses. All the money these men earn is totally spent on alcohol forcing these women to toil in different homes to meet their daily needs. Worse is when their money is also snatched by these addicts for satiating their thirsts. It saddens me when movies spread wrong messages about alcohol being a kind of medicine that helps you forget all disappointments and failures in life. Hope society keeps changing for the better.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

#AtoZchallenge 2017 - B for Brachiosaurus

I used to be on my school basketball team. When
I was entering Class VIII, we relocated to a new town and I shifted schools.The coaches at the new place saw me on the first day and their hopes of the next year's championship went sky high. For I was quite tall, and to all appearance, was an ideal fit to be the next Michael Jordan of district basketball. ( I don't know any famous names other than that and definitely no female ones. So for now we have to live with that comparison).Soon they saw I was the personification of the running skills of a tortoise and gracefulness of a panda attempting to tight rope walk combined.

Well well well! I started off like that the day i wrote my "A" post assuming my little ones word for B would definitely be ball. We all know B is for Ball. But when i asked her B for? -  She went silent for a second, rolled her eyes , gave a deep thought and then went ba ba ba (They teach her phonics in nursery) "Brachiosaurus".

Whhhhattt?B..b...ba..brachiosaurus??? Someone did warn me in the comments.
Image Credit:London looks on Flickr

The first time I learnt about dinosaurs was when Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park got released in India. It was the talk of the town. Watching it became a mandatory thing to be done.People were like ...Have you paid the bills? Have you taken your daily medication? Have you watched Jurassic Park? I was just entering my teens then. Now my children's vocabulary includes Brachiosaurus,triceratops, ankylosaurus, parasaurolophus and...Thats all my impoverished brain can recollect!

Brachiosauruses were supposed to be huge dinosaurs that had longer forelegs than hind legs and  were herbivores. Name any dinosaur movie. The first dinosaur kind to grace the screens would be these timid creatures , silently munching the leaves and letting things be at peace. This kind of sets the perfect scenario for the entry of the ferocious lot like the bellowing, destructive T-Rex.

In the movie Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs , a pregnant Ellie slides down the back of a brachiosaurus with a Zippie Zippie Zoom, with Manny at her heels asking her not to dare to do another one of those. Being a huge mammoth, he has a slight arrogance about his size, until he encounters these gigantic reptiles and goes "I feel so small!". A lesson to be learnt there. We may think we are the best but you never know!

I wonder what would actually happen if in real, mankind manages to recreate live dinosaurs.


  • There would be an amusement park with a "Slide on a brachiosaurus back" ride.
  • Bungee Jumping could be done from its head to the ground too.
  • Instead of an elevator people could use tamed brachiosauruses to reach different storeys in buildings.That would save a lot of energy.
  • If one needs to take aerial shots of some place we just need to get on top of a brachiosaurus's head. No need of cranes or helicopters.
  • Imagine having a brachiosaurus for a pet! I am sure some totally pampered children of millionaire business tycoons would want one, that their fathers would happily oblige. Father-child photos with a smiling brachiosaurus would appear in top magazines. 


This is a brachiosaurus song my kids love singing along. I love the tune too.



Can you think of possible things that might happen if we had real brachiosauruses on earth today?


Friday, March 31, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 A is for Apple

I have decided to participate in the A to Z blogging challenge this year.

Initially I did rack my brain a little bit to decide upon a theme. Then I decided to go in the quintessential way we learn the alphabets.

My 3 year old is going to be my topic picker for every alphabet.

And here we go. As it is taught in almost every school in the world (where they teach English of course), A is for apple.

If anyone is given a piece of paper and asked to draw a fruit I think the first thing they would draw would be an apple.I am wondering why!
Image Credit : Sherwin Sibala on Flickr
1) We usually start our learning process with A is for apple and hence its deeply implanted in our heads
2) The shape of an apple is unique and symmetric. Not much drawing skills required there
3) Its easier drawing a perfect apple shape than a perfect circle which could stand for an orange or a melon
4) Size wize an apple is neither too big or too small and its design is quite straightforward unlike a jack fruit or a water melon
5) Apples have the same shape whatever be their kind

I grew up believing apples were red till they started airing an advertisement on TV for a toothpaste. A girl biting into a green apple would get horrified on finding blood along the rim of her bite mark on the apple. Bleeding Gums! Use Pepsodent Toothpaste!

That reminds me of Newton. Wonder what would have happened had he been sitting under a coconut tree or a jack fruit tree! He would have had more significant things to deal with first before wondering why the fruit fell down instead of flying upwards.

When we were returning from our honeymoon in Shimla we bought a box full of apples and we checked it in when we took our flight. After all the harassment, a checked in baggage has to undergo, our box decided to call it quits and ripped open. Imagine our surprise and shock when we found apples rolling freely one after another on the baggage belt!! While others were happily hauling their bags out we were doing apple picking ! ha ha

These days Apple is more closely associated first with the phone than the fruit it was named after. I am sure in a few decades from now there would be a question doing rounds

Which came first , the phone or the fruit?


Friday, March 24, 2017

Looking for you - Flash Fiction

I roamed around here and there looking for you.

I had to give you what I had in my hands. It belonged to you now. My relationship with it was over. I had already absorbed what it had to give me. Now it was time to let go.

You may have received things in the past and yes you will receive in future - some similar, some much better and some far worse. But now does it really matter? What I give may not be a big thing to you...But I need you to take over... for I have other things to do.

Usually you are not so elusive. This time you are making me walk in search of you. 

Is that you there? I hope it is. At last I found you.

I tossed the banana peel into the trash bin wondering why this particular bus terminus unusually had very few of them.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tyger Tyger Burning Bright! They don't eat zebras

The other day I was making up a story for my little girl. I started off with the story of a tiger attacking a zebra.
Image Credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net by anankkml

My son who is an animal aficionado quickly interrupted me. "Amma, but tigers do not eat zebras!"

"Really? I thought they were carnivores. They kill animals to eat them, don't they?" I asked. I was sure he had gotten his facts wrong.

"Well, tigers live only in Asia - in the forests and savannahs of Asia. whereas the zebras live in Africa. So though tigers are carnivores, they do not kill zebras" he explained. That made sense of course.

I had never thought of it that way! 

When I was in college I used to have a huge poster of a tiger in my room. There was an inner strength and confidence that I used to get just by looking at that 3 feet image of this magnificent creature. 
  

During our visit to the zoo, we read about the threat of extinction that tigers are facing today.  They are poached for their skin and also for claws, teeth etc. that some believe have medicinal value.  The rate at which their numbers have dwindled is very alarming. I get reminded of the dialogue in the movie Bambi.

Young Bambi: What happened, Mother? Why did we all run?
Bambi's Mother: Man was in the forest.

That one line has so much meaning in it. About the amount of havoc man has caused in nature. Sad!


But there have been consistent efforts to increase the tiger numbers in different nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. An article published sometime last year talks about increase in tiger numbers for the first time in a century.

It felt proud to see that India is one of the countries where great efforts are being made for this and which is beginning to show results as well.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/04/160410-tiger-numbers-rise-wwf-conservation-double-population/

I remember a poem "The Tyger" that we had as part of our syllabus by Willam Blake

Tyger Tyger Burning Bright
In the forests of the night

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/43687

Hope the conservation efforts bear more fruit and let us all do our part in wildlife conservation.





Friday, March 3, 2017

The eternal curiosities of our questioning minds!

Great thinkers have said a lot of things, stressing upon the importance of questioning, for that is the foremost quality required to gain wisdom.

Well, that applies to thinkers that are great. But what about the mediocre ones like me? I had the irresistible urge to add an "and you?" to that last sentence but what right do I have to make assumptions about someone else's thinking capabilities??Hmm?

I think I always liked asking questions. In my quest to be an active participant in class discussions at school, I have incurred the wrath of many a teacher. Thankfully most of my teachers were committed to their work and patiently answered my queries, relevant or otherwise. There are exceptions of course. Imagine it is the last period of the day and the poor exhausted person wants to quickly get done with the lesson and rush to the one thing that is a solace in his drudgery - his evening cup of tea. Here is a "I want to flaunt my non-existent intelligence" specimen that is throwing questions just for the sake of it! Sensing neither his ire nor that of the classmates eagerly waiting for the ring of the bell I would continue as if I were on the ISRO team that is about to send the next satellite to space.

Fast forward a few years,we started living in the internet era. This is the time, when a few hours spent exercising only ones forefinger on digital devices immerses us in an illusion that we have a string of honorary degrees behind us. This halo behind our heads becomes the most luminous during a visit to the doctor. "Is this contagious?" "Will this fever affect my optical nerve?" "Are you sure its not penguin flu?" We have to pound him with questions to such an extent that he would be seriously considering taking a break, doing a Masters in Veterinary medicine, and start treating those that, leave alone questioning, cannot even talk to him!

The other day I went to the mall and entered a shop. Seeing me browsing, the salesperson innocently approached me to ask if I needed help. Little did he know that there were almost ten blank lines waiting at  the tip of my tongue with question marks attached. After inquiring a lot about the durability, efficiency, trust-worthiness of something that I was about to buy for less than $10 I finally made a choice.  I reached the counter and opened my bag and realized,to my dismay, that I had left my wallet at home. Do I need words to describe his expression or mine?

Then there are those serious questions that society loves asking about our personal lives. "When are you buying a house?"; "Why are you shifting home? That one was so convenient!?" ;"When are you getting back to working?" ;"Why are you working and not taking care of your home?" The list is endless.

Sometimes I feel one needs to carry a board that says "NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS" the moment one steps out from home. It must also have a hammer attached to it that bangs our head every time we decide to adorn the questioner's cap. Oh yes, the one that loathes such questioning does not always stop from asking, The content or context may be different, We all do. The questions we ask may be more aligned with our own beliefs and may or may not be in sync with the general beliefs of our times.

Social media is generally inclined towards criticizing and chastising this nature of the society. But sometimes such questioning may help us to think of our states and decisions from different perspectives. It might trigger a thinking pattern that results in something beneficial for us. Hence instead of blindly shutting ones ears to any queries around us, it may be a better idea to have a filter instead and take to heart those that may make sense when thought about patiently. For the rest we have an easy option of simply ignoring.