Sunday, August 13, 2017

EXPLORING ARAVENU VILLAGE, KOTAGIRI



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

MY FIRST BOOK IN THE HANDS OF MY VERY GOOD FRIEND

It was in 2003 that I landed in Kolkata for the first time. This was as part of work. I had very few contacts there and they were in Old Kolkata. They were my very distant relatives. The work place location was pretty far from Old Kolkata and there I met a young man Vimal. He was my first point of contact there and with the passage of time we became friends. It was through him that I got connected to many other friends in Kolkata. 

After my dabbling with writing right through my school and college days, I had ventured into writing again with pretty serious objectives. sometime towards the end of 2000. And in 2003, I had just a small bunch of poems in my hand. My method of sharing these poems then was through e-mails. In 2009, I started blogging and thereafter , these poems got shared through Orkut. Later, with the advent of Facebook, the blog links got routed in there. And now we have WhatsApp, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ in addition  through which these links are getting routed.

Vimal was one of those very few who got to read those first poems that I kept distributing through my e-mails. 


Vimal, according to me has been gifted with lots of self belief and I could see that right then in 2003. He is a much younger man but he has truck loads more of self belief  than I have. There is a reason why I am saying this. After reading a few of my poems in 2003, he introduced me as a poet to everyone we met. I think it took a decade for me to believe that there was a poet in me. So many people had to repeatedly tell me "You have it in you", for me to believe it. Vimal had more belief in me that I had in myself and he was quick to spot it too. I remember presenting him with a book and a poem "Friendship's True Friend", specially written for him, when he left Kolkata for his stint in the USA.

Today I happy to see my first book in his hands in Denver, USA.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A TAILOR BIRD AT OUR HOME

Last weekend, we had a pleasant surprise in our home garden. We saw a bundle hanging at the edge of a branch right in front of our sit out place. Never would I, have ever imagined of a bird coming up with a nest at that point. All of us go past that branch everyday to check the level of the water lying in the sump that is just beyond it.


With the passage of time, we realized that it was a tailor bird busy crafting its unique piece.


I went through Wiki and found that there is lot of information out there, but what struck me most was the nest building process. A variety of processes classified as sewing, riveting, lacing and matting go into it. It begins by the piercing of a single leaf or may be more than one too. The great part of this nest building is that the piercing of the leaves do not damage them in anyway. A damaged leaf would soon turn brown but it's a miracle of nature that the leaf still remains fresh and green. The sewing is done with plant fibre or spider's web.


The irony is that while I am still debating with myself and being indecisive as to whether Chennai should be the place where I should be into the future, with all the water crisis and climate related natural disasters that it's prone to, the tailor bird has been pretty swift in deciding its location and has been very aggressive in building its home at my place too :))

Thursday, July 20, 2017

MY FIRST BOOK ON SALE AT THE AMAZON STORE: INDELIBLE ETERNAL ETCHINGS

It's my pleasure to share with you my first compilation of poems as a book. These are poems of the adult romance genre and were scribbled and compiled in response to a call from Amazon Kindle. Writing romantic poems at this age has been an experience as I had to recall flashes from my mind and also put in several pieces from my imagination :)) It has been a very satisfying experience. These were written in a very short span of time and am happy that I was able to make some impact.

I did very little part of this book at home and that was only the editing part and the posting of the manuscript into the site. The writing was done while on the daily journeys to office and back to home, while waiting at malls while my family did their shopping and while waiting for my little one when she was taking her entrance tests at different centres in the city.

Fortunately, the places where I sat down and waited most of the time had lots of greenery. There were lots of birds here who also joined me with their chirps while I carved out these pieces.

As soon as some of my friends saw the book, their first reaction from seeing the cover was "Why such a topic at this age?". "Don't judge my book by its cover", was my response :)) I hope all of you will enjoy reading these pieces and empathize with the feelings carefully carved inside.

Titled "INDELIBLE ETERNAL ETCHINGS" it is available on Amazon Store as both Kindle eBook, Paperback and Kindle Unlimited in some countries and  as Kindle eBook and Kindle Unlimited in a few other.


I just got one customer feedback from some reader in the UK who has spotted it on Amazon. Some extracts from the feedback is below:

"You can sense the buzz, and smell the fragrance of rural India as he dreams of his love. Some of his comparisons with nature are beautifully constructed: 'butterflies sucking nectar from a bark' for that is where his love kissed the tree,  ‘I am a slave chained helplessly in your galley’, ‘like a surreptitious thief you crept inside my heart again’.
The poet has certainly hit the target for me, while Cupid missed!"

Am pasting the link below where you could see the full content of this feedback. Please scroll down to see the same.


You may visit the following Amazon sites based on the country where you are for purchase:


Countries offering Paperbacks, Kindle eBooks and Kindle Unlimited

USA

UK

GERMANY

FRANCE

SPAIN

ITALY

JAPAN

Countries offering Kindle eBooks and Kindle Unlimited

NETHERLANDS

BRAZIL

CANADA

MEXICO

AUSTRALIA

INDIA

Happy Reading. I will be very happy to hear from you on your experience.

Friday, June 30, 2017

A GREAT PLACE TO CAMP AMIDST THE QUIETUDE OF NATURE

This is our third visit to Coonoor and it has been by far, the most memorable of all. A great hostess makes a big difference and Mrs.Leenu Kurian gave us a very warm reception when we landed at Strathearn. She was very helpful and very proactive in giving us all the care that we needed. Strathearn has a lot inside it that gave us that rustic feel of nature. It's a small bundle of nature packaged well and since it's also close the Bedford circle, accessibility to hotels and shops is also really good. The SIMS park is just at a walking distance from this stay. The efforts that have been put in to maintain a heritage Scottish bungalow and to make it so presentable are really praiseworthy. I have always loved sitting lazily on antique furniture and watching the magical hues of nature and I had that opportunity again here. We had a good view of the lawn from the patio. We had all the facilities in place for our stay and an antique touch to it.


At the break of dawn each day, we could hear the chirps of so many birds. I loved the rays of sunlight slowly creeping in at dawn through the antique ventilation located close to the ceiling. We really enjoyed sauntering around the green expanse studded with towering trees and beautiful flowers especially the ones bordering the entrance pathway and the roses standing tall and demanding attention. There are lots of spots where we could take some very good snaps. A few dogs and cats gave us good company. We also had the opportunity to witness the acrobatics of the monkeys. The dining room was superb with a beautiful layout and with tall windows for us to have a feel of the green that lay beyond. We enjoyed the breakfast and chats we had during these sessions. Our hostess was very patient in answering all our questions about Strathearn and Coonoor. 


After the breakfast sessions on both the days, my daughter and I spent a lot of time observing the two huge old paintings that adorned the walls. They were beautiful. I again came back towards the end of the day, sat in the patio and watched one of them in the waning brightness of dusk and in dark times of the night. It looked truly beautiful and took me back in time. These were painted directly on the walls and are as old as the bungalow itself. Strathearn was a great place to stay and we could see attention to detail and the care taken even in many small things and even my daughter spotted some of them. Truly commendable.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

MAKING A MARK

The memories of the state board chemistry public exam of March 1986 and the period from when the results were announced till the time I stepped into college, are still fresh in my mind.  My daughter has just finished with her 12th CBSE board exams and it’s interesting to see, how so many patterns still remain the same, when we see the situation that students are into, across the years. In the month of September in 1985, when the quarterly exams results were being declared by the teachers for the 12th standard, each student was called up and a feedback was given on his or her performance in front of the whole class. We were just 70 students and this was a batch that had been picked up after a lot of weaning out of the non performers in the 9th standard. The state board scores were out of 200 and the toppers reached a maximum of 175 in the main subjects like maths, physics, chemistry and biology. It was not that scoring much higher was difficult but I think the best students were yet to get into the preparations with a killer mode, as the final public examination was still a good 6 months away.


Our chemistry teacher was distributing the answer sheets and giving her feedback while my heart kept pounding. I wanted to remain calm but marks were everything for me and I just waited without being able to thinking about anything else. The top students in the class collected their papers and the maximum score stood at 174 so far. And then I heard my name being called. “I just kept this paper for the last. Can anyone imagine how much Roy has scored?” asked my teacher. There was pin drop silence and my heart kept beating faster. “He has scored 193. I am really happy with his performance. Give him a big hand. Please maintain this momentum Roy, keep scoring higher and finish with a centum”, she said with a warm smile. It took time for this to sink in as I just could not hear the sustained claps and thumping on the desks from my classmates, while I walked back and sat at my place. I felt very special that day. Many classmates had just joined the 11th standard from other schools and in their eyes I created an impression. I was already a serial first ranker right through most of the years at school and my old mates knew that, but this was something special.  And so, in addition to the topping the class and a centum in maths, there came in another expectation to score a centum in chemistry too. Each expectation grew every day in me like within a huge pressure vessel, slowly building the pressure inside, every day.

In the days that went by, I developed special strategies for attacking the chemistry question paper. There was a ten marks organic chemistry question right at the end and I always cracked that first and then with the huge momentum that I gained out of it, I raced through the entire paper and finished in pretty well each time. I was getting a rhythm and success was smiling at me each time in chemistry. I really felt that I would get the centum that I was so keen to. But then, on the day of the public exam, my plans did not fall in place. The ten marks question just did not give in and I had to skip it and finish the rest of the paper and then get back and try it again. It never came through. I could not enjoy the examination and I was not relaxed right through. When the results came, my score was again just 193. On the whole my scores were pretty good and it got me a mechanical engineering seat at the College of Engineering, Guindy, the top college in the Anna University that day, but still I was crest fallen that I had not got a centum in chemistry. What hurt me more was when I faced the questions that my classmates, my chemistry teacher and other teachers asked me as they had huge expectations from me. My Dad’s friends and our relatives had expected me to top the state. It was an irony that I carried this pain inside me for several years although I had admission offers from six engineering colleges and three medical colleges that year. The root to this pain was in my trying to satisfy what others were expecting from me. It was more to do with questions such as “How will I face them?”, “What will I answer them?” that was running inside me.

Our society and our external world is still the same and they are always keen when it comes to 10th or 12th standard results. On the day the results were announced for my daughter, I had a large number of calls and messages on my phone. A few of these were from those who were genuinely interested in the progress of my child, but the rest I believe were just those who wanted to quench their inquisitiveness and gather some news to talk about it elsewhere. I responded to a few and left the rest as I could not at that point in time. I responded to them later. There were a variety of questions like “Any centums?”, “What is her MPC score?”, “Has she got into Anna University?”, “Why did she take Computer Science when the computer industry is in doldrums?”, “What is her total and percentage?” and “Why is she not going for medicine. It’s evergreen?” and so on. At one point I thought it would be sensible to hire an exclusive person for a month to handle public relations. A week before the results were announced, I noticed a number of people calling my daughter while at church to ask her about the results. It was an intimidating experience for her and it was very similar to what I had gone through. This has become like some kind of malignancy that has affected our society. From my experience, I have seen how communication skills, presentation skills, monitoring skills and other soft skills have really helped individuals move up the ladder. The marks scored just becomes one minuscule element in our career journey.

Now, let me place some interesting statistics in front of you. An MPC score of 197.85 that I had scored in 1986 is a pretty high score. But I have several friends who scored much lesser than me and who had to study in colleges which were not as highly rated as the one where I had studied, but have raced to very high positions in their career. Three of them are vice presidents in multinational companies. A lot of my classmates and school mates, who could never score the marks that I could, have made a lot more money than what I could and have lot more assets in their possession than what I could buy. So if it’s just money, assets and position, even then only a few in the circle enquire about it. In the twenty four years that I have been out of college, this society who has been after me on my marks has hardly asked me anything on what I am doing in my job. They will probably surface again with their questions if I sit at home without a job and as long as I pick up my office bag and leave every day morning and go somewhere and come back in the evening, they are fine. I have not had one person in this circle who has asked me “What did you do with the engineering you studied?” or something like “Did you develop anything new that relieves the common man from the suffering he is going through every day?” These are questions that really ponder around making a mark in the field and not just the number game and rat race. The best that you could get from a few would be “What is your salary there?” or “What is your position there?” It does not really matter to them about what you do in that position or job.

In 2005, I was into an assignment as a contractor with a leading aircraft manufacturer in the USA. A elder relative of mine derived a lot of pride in sharing the news with a lot of his friends that I was in the USA and that too with this leading company, the name of which was known to every common man. In 2007, I told him that I preferred to take a change in my assignment as there was nothing new that I was learning or doing. I could sit there and continue but that would be a vegetating exercise. “Be there itself. That brand is known to people here. I don’t know anything about the new company where you are heading for.”, was the advice I got from him.

Even today, we tend to take career decisions or decisions on what area to pursue in our studies based on how society looks at it. Even if it's not that way, we face stiff resistance from different quarters due to our choice. That decides our market value for marriages and our face in the society in general. The earlier we break it, the better, but in India, this will continue to be in vogue.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

ALBUM EXTRACTS - MOUNTAINS OF YERCAUD

I had a funny situation with our guide who took us around in Yercaud. He took us to different viewing spots and showed us the mountains. At some point I asked him, that something was similar in the mountain that I was seeing with the one that I had seen just before. He told me then that it was the same mountain and that we were going around it :)



The pictures that you see above has so much resemblance in shape to the forehead and neck of an elephant and even the colour has a close match.







I loved this piece written on the rock. A nice way of saying that the place was dangerous.

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