Thursday, October 19, 2017

WHEN QUOTES WERE BEAUTIFUL GIFTS

It was an evening in September 1993 and I had just returned home from Bangalore after a work assignment. It had been just a few months since I got married and there will still a few well wishers and relatives who could not make it for the marriage, visiting us to wish us a good life as we took the road ahead. As I entered my room, I saw a quotation, beautifully framed and hanging on the wall opposite to the window. “Ours maths teacher was here yesterday and he gifted this. He was sad that he could not meet you”, said my wife. I was still looking at it really absorbed in the intensity of the words while she continued, “It will be good if we could meet him at school sometime”. Both I and my wife were students from the same school, she being just a year junior to me. The quote read “A strong marriage requires two people who choose to love each other even on those days when they struggle to like each other” – Dave Willis. From that day, every time I went into my room, my eyes encountered these words.  When marriage took me through a range of emotions, these words hit me with varying intensities and found their way into my intense thinking, creating ripples of different dimensions. With the break of dawn, through noon leading through to twilight and then into the night, I saw these words in varying shades of light and varying moods of mine. Each time I read, I felt them sinking into me deeper. It has been years now and still these words prove to be the foundation on which our marriage is riding the waves in an ocean, sometimes like a royal ship and sometimes like a flotsam sans directions. But the ride is still on. There are several corollaries that I draw from these lines and each has a different interpretation depending on the situation.



In 1994, I gifted my mother-in law, a framed quotation that read “A mother understands what a child does not say” – Jewish Proverb. That wall hang is still there adorning the wall at her home. A quote as a gift was considered respectable and many in those times gifted these for marriages and other important days. In the years between 1977, when I had grown enough to understand such quotes, till the late 90s when the internet started slowly weaving its labyrinth, I had just seen a handful of quotations including the wall hangs that my eyes had spotted in other homes. A few of these had an impact on me and had got written into my mind permanently. Of course, we did read the Bible everyday and most of the verses there, were to be memorized as part of the Sunday School exercises and competitions. But this way, we encountered each verse probably only once or twice a year when competitions came in. I am not including them in the scope of this list although some homes had wall hangings that displayed Biblical quotes too.

We have traveled forward through another twenty years and we have seen the internet invasion and the mobile invasion. Every day quotations find their way into my phone and my mail box, like a swarm of bees. By the time I read and assimilate one, the next one is here banging on the doors of my mind. Liking a quote on Whats App is the fastest disposal method most of us adopt. It satisfies the sender and also gives us the relief to go ahead and remove it from our device. But as a result, these don’t sink into our mind sufficiently for implementation. Some really fantastic words come and go and I wish I read these over and over and slept with them to make them a part of my life. But before I hug them, another bunch is knocking my doors to let them in. We no more gift quotations to our dear ones or friends as these quotations are now all around us like the air we breathe and have become very ordinary entities. We have been flooded with quotations that we almost gasp for a breath of fresh air.

May be, we should take a few and hang it on our walls again. May be it's just fine to browse through just a handful of quotations and go really deep into them so as to implement them, rather taking in a truck full and sending them into the drain with no action.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

IN LOVE WITH WATER - PYKARA LAKE

I create the biggest fuss when it comes to stepping into water rides. It's a kind of paranoia. 



My family is very cool about these rides. So they push me into it and once we are on our way, I start enjoying the water body.




Sunday, September 24, 2017

GREEN TREAT -LALBAGH

It's a pity that we were hard pressed for time and so we just rushed through this green stretch, clicking snaps. We did not sit and relish the beauty and serenity here.









Sunday, August 13, 2017

EXPLORING THE ARAVENU VILLAGE, KOTAGIRI

Our three days stay at Coonoor was about to finish and we were ready for our return journey to Chennai. We were busy with the final stint of taking snaps in the greenery at our home stay, that afternoon. We had still not thought about the suggestion given by Bala, our guide and cab driver, who had taken us around Coonoor and Ooty through the three days. It was to take the route running through Kotagiri to go to the Mettupalayam railway station.



We got into the cab and Bala took off through the normal route to the Mettupalayam railway station. That's when I asked him if we were going through Kotagiri. He told us that since we had not confirmed about it, he was taking the normal route. We requested him to take us through Kotagiri and so he turned and drove back for some distance that we had covered and then, proceeded towards Kotagiri.



Since this is a roundabout route, traffic is significantly lesser when compared to the normal route. The whole route has a beautiful canopy with tall trees standing guard on both sides. We drove through this canopy for a very long distance. I really wished that we got down and walked but unfortunately, we had not planned out our time for this scenic and quiet place. 





















Bala told us that many spots on this route were popular cine shooting places. The place is so quiet and fresh, that you will find very little sign of human habitation, for a long distance that our eyes can scan. The different birds with their songs keep us entertained right through.

We left that place with a promise that we would get back and spend more time there on our next visit. It was an irony that we got to see the most beautiful place after the whole trip was done.

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.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

IN LOVE WITH TIME

I recall the dialogue of the famous method actor Shri. Nana Patekar from the movie Ab Tak Chappan when he, the leader of an encounter police squad, sets out for an encounter with a person who is a tyro in the team. He describes to him, the profile of their work, about being patient and how to go about with their job. He tells him "When we have information, we kill people. When we don't have information, we kill time. Don't be desperate. Be patient". He was only describing how to get into a job and focus when things fell in place and then get out of it and wait patiently when there was nothing to do. This waiting patiently is something all of us go through almost everyday in our life. If we are able to focus on something in that waiting time, then we can reap a lot of benefits out of it. We will not have to fight with time to spend it, but on the contrary we will love time and love spending it that way.


Over the last few weeks, I had the opportunity to spend some time inside two college campuses around Chennai, as my daughter had to take up some academic challenge encounters which are popularly known as entrance exams. For the first one, I went there pretty early in the morning, following exactly the rules as spelt out in the admit card. For the second one also, we were there pretty early, although the college had not specified any time that was abnormally early, by which students should be there at the centre. So, in both cases, me and my daughter had almost one hour to spend together, after we located the examination centre along with the building and floor where it was located. 

I think, the colleges assume that even if the students are going to be accompanied by their parents, they could still end up being irresponsible and check in for the exam at the last moment. That way, the academia puts the students and the children together under the same umbrella of irresponsibility. I have experienced this at my daughter's school where for a prize distribution ceremony, parents were called in at such a time, that I witnessed a stage being built right from scratch for about an hour and a half. And so the actual function started thereafter and went on for another three hours.And believe me, this was on a working day and at peak noon. Since then, I have been very protective of my time and I try and anticipate such waiting times coming up and then plan with things that could be done in that time space, as far as possibble.

Each test that my daughter took up, ran for two and half hours on an average and so I had almost three hours time at my disposal at each centre. I had some plans in mind and I executed them very well while waiting there. I felt satisfied at the end of the few hours spent there. I also took some time to observe how the others who accompanied their children spent their time. Some of these were parents, some siblings and some were individuals sent by the parents to accompany the children.

A large part of the crowd was busy with their mobile phones. Most of the people in the crowd, came as a family. Some of these spent their time sitting out under the shades of trees and chatting while having some snacks. It was a good time for them to spend as a couple while their child was away at the test. For some it was a time as a family as the second child had also joined them. I believe, as a family, they would have loved spending their time that way.

There was one family sitting inside the waiting hall that caught my attention. The mother had a plaster on her left leg and she had it lifted and placed on a chair. But even though she was in that state, she was repeatedly writing the same one line prayer in a diary and I saw her turning several pages in those three hours. This prayer would possibly have been for her other child taking up the exam. For her, her time was well spent. Her husband and daughter though, were busy meanwhile with their smart phones. Unless we have something to really focus on in a smartphone, it would be a wandering journey and that would finally make us a mentally tired person at the end of the wandering.

There was one person sitting near me and laughing out so loud while watching a movie on his mobile with his earpieces on, that people sitting around often turned around to understand what was happening. Although he was on his smart phone, he had something to focus on and that way it would have been pretty satisfying for him.

There was a young lady, possibly the sibling of someone taking the test, sitting with her laptop. She was working with such killer focus that not once did she take her eyes off her laptop to view the people who were sitting all around her. Another person near her had to literally walk up to her and tell her about a centipede that was making its way up the laptop charger cable onto her lap. Her focus was so inspiring and her time according to me was well spent.

I spent some time with my mobile phone camera and shot some pictures of the setting sun and the green stretches. I spotted a lot others who were doing the same. There were a few who kept walking randomly within the campus for a while. They stopped and took pictures at random spots as a family.  Even this according to me is an activity that gives the satisfaction of having done something.

When my daughter stepped out of the second exam, she asked me "How did you kill time?".  I was happy I didn't have to kill. If we have some plans listed out, I believe we don't have to really kill time. We can romance time and use it on things we love to do.

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