We are all designed to ultimately win. A library of lessons is required for this and this comes in the form of setbacks. But victory will always finally embrace us. We also need an audience, to clap, to criticize, to cheer and to boo. Let them do their job while we do ours. Troughs in life will always come in but we will revive and emerge. Nothing is more beautiful than winning in our own unique way like no other.
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.
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.
When I was into my early years at school, Dad would take me to our ancestral home in Kerala during my summer holidays and leave me there with my cousins for almost a month. I have witnessed mid summer rains and the ensuing floods that would fill up the paddy fields and come up to the steps of our house. Sometimes it would come into the house too.
My cousins were so good at climbing trees and they would do it in a jiffy. I would struggle but finally make it with their help. Many times I have sat on very nice seating trunks and watched the flood water below me, so full with fishes, frogs, water snakes and tortoises. We would buy a fishing hook and a nylon string from a shop close to our home and then catch a few innocent tadpoles and use them our as our baits. We would tie a thin banana stem that would be the float indicator giving us the signal when the bait was being taken. I have caught a few fishes and my cousins were really good at it. We have caught several varieties like the stone sucker (referred to as kalle mutti in Malayalam), the banded snakehead (referred to as varaal in Malayalam) and the catfish (referred to as kaari in Malayalam). The sizes of these were pretty big and we could either keep them in a vessel of water or keep them bound in a wet cloth and they would still be alive for a while. I am sure that the trees in my ancestral home will remember the company I gave them during these times.
As soon as I would see the floating banana stem getting disturbed and pulled I would become a shade desperate. Timing was a problem for me but my cousins would time it very well. I would either pull it up too early or too late after the fish had dragged it far into some thick bush from where it would be almost impossible to pull it out. Once when I thought I had timed it well and pulled it up, what came up was a fresh water snake (referred to as pulavan in Malayalam).
My daughter will be into college soon God willing and am still over protective of her. We have never let her stay alone with her cousins in Kerala so far. All that has happened till today has been just a few days with her cousins, with my wife giving her company. On the flip side, I doubt whether the children in Kerala today, affected like everybody else world over with the invasion of the digital devices into daily life, really venture out for these natural adventures. I feel so sad for my daughter as she may never get to experience this anytime in her life. Maybe we as parents could simulate it for her in some holiday resort but nothing comes so close to a beautiful natural package gifted by Mother Nature.
When I was a little boy, my father took me and my sister to Vakathanam every year during our school holidays. This is the town in Kerala where my mother's home is located. Being a person following very staunch principles, he would always prefer to visit the place and leave on the same day. My mother also was very particular that he did so in order to keep up his dignity. I could not understand how anyone could leave such a beautiful and rustic country in less than a day. It took real time for me to decipher the nuances of this dignity concept.
At this very spot where you see me sitting in this snap, my Dad would stand and point to the farmers who would be busy with their work in the fields and several rafts of ducks slowly making their way in the water. We would watch the fishes, the frogs and the tadpoles. It was such a beautiful sight with the air so fresh all around. He would ask me whether I would be able to paint this landscape. I would stay silent without giving a response. After the few minutes of silence between us, he would point to the trees in the distance and tell me "That place so faraway may seem far and unreachable. But you can reach there if you will try and walk towards it. So try to paint this scenery. You will be able to do it". Today, the place still remains green and pristine. The seat where I am seated is probably the only new thing that has come up over several years. The greenery is still young but Dad is no more. But his memories still remain so fresh always.
I remember that day, When I rushed into the hospital ward, With joy in my heart, To see my new born child. I still recall that feel, When I took her into my arms, The very first time. She was so soft, And so feeble, And I enjoyed and loved, That feebleness in her.
When senility, Finally catches up with us, We again become, Like these tiny ones. Today my sick father Is so feeble in my arms, That his body blends With every turn I make. So malleable and weak, He is now. And seeing him suffer, Fills me with pain. All of us make a feeble start, And then head for a feeble finish. We hardly realize this, When we are at the peaks, In life's journey. Life is still beautiful!!!
I have often been fascinated by the crowns worn by Kings who ruled India, be it the Hindu kings or those from the Mughal dynasty. More than the embellishments that the Kings had on their crowns, it was their ability to retain the crown for long that fascinated me. Anyone having a crown, knows how difficult it is to retain it. We don't need to have a real crown like that of a king to feel this situation. Even I went through this at school for many years with the first rank crown. Only later did I realize that in the huge kingdom of life, the first rank crown meant nothing.
Here's one random crown I designed using the Microsoft Paint package. May be a few more plumes and some gems studded on the borders would have made it even more superb :)) Shall post more.
My first five years at school had so much English and an Anglo flavour to it. If it was something else, I believe I would have genuinely felt the loss of having really missed something precious. My teachers, right through those five years were Anglo Indians. My music teacher too was an Anglo Indian and for the first two of these five years, our Headmistress was an Anglo Indian too. This had a bearing on almost everything that happened in a day at school, be it the way the classes were conducted, the disciplinary aspects, the way the interactions with the teachers happened, the exposure to the language that we gained through the Anglo Indian syllabus taught by these teachers, the music sessions and then the Christmas celebrations and the stage plays during the annual day meets every year. This to me, is the biggest gift I got during my school years.
The neighbourhood surrounding the school, also had a British tinge in it. The road where the Railway Mixed Higher Secondary School was located in Perambur, was studded with so many Anglo Indian families. Besides this bunch, there were those on the Foxen Street too that lay next to this road. Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine that stands on the Paper Mills Road was where many of us students went either during our lunch breaks or after school and we always got to see a large Anglo Indian population flock there. There are two other churches adjacent to our school and one of them is just beside the playground. This is where we went when we had a free period, either to play or to sit and chat. Some teachers even took classes under the tree shades, close to this church. Christmas parties were special and it happened just before the school closed for the Christmas holidays. Each student brought cakes, pasteries and decorations. We had Christmas trees decorated in our classes. I can still feel the hard pinch on my nose, given by one Santa Clause, while he went around distributing gifts. I am still not sure who it was. Annual day every year came with it's own colour and grandeur. We had lots of stage plays and singing and each of these had so many rehearsals at the Railway auditorium that stood opposite to our school. I still recall the feeling of having lip stick smudged all over my lips and cheeks, just before stepping on to the stage for the different plays. Quite a number of them set the tracks on fire and came out in flying colours in the field events too, during the annual sports competitions. Many of my Anglo Indian classmates had their homes very close to the school and I had the opportunity to visit some of their homes. My immediate neighbour at the Railway Quarters where I spent my childhood, was an Anglo Indian. Kevin Geer, the eldest of the three sons in that family, was my playmate during those years. I got to hear a lot of English music from his home. Hid dad was a saxophonist. I am in touch with many of these friends even now. My dad had an Anglo Indian friend Duncan who gave him so many English music cassettes. He even screened Biblical movies for our prayer group's annual gatherings. If it was not for Duncan Uncle, I would never have had a tryst with so much English music at that age. A life without this flavour would certainly have been bland. I really cherish those days when I lived in the middle of an Anglo Indian world.
Today's drive down the Constable Road at Perambur, was my third after the Vardah cyclone had battered Chennai. I got a pulse of the damage, when I drove down this road the very next day after the cyclone and I wanted to see it again, after the dry parts of the battered trees had fallen off. The green canopy is still more or less intact here and the loss was just a few trees. It could be because the Integral Coach Factory is on one side and the Railway Quarters is there lined up on the other side. This had broken down the wind speed in a big way.
I have a big sentimental connection with this road as it is this route I took to school, by walk and by cycle, for twelve sweet years. My mother took off on her heavenly abode from the Railway Headquarters hospital that is down this road. This was also the place where both my father and mother had worked for several years. The convoy that followed the mortuary van that took her on her final journey, took this road first. l dabbled with cycling and learnt my motorbike and car driving on this road.
Today, am on this road again, to get medicines from the same hospital for my sick father. I hope this greenery stays for long and that my romance with this road continues.