Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The traditional wrap-up post for 2015 - the year that was!!

And so, we are back with the traditional year-end post.
I love traditions. They make me feel secure, that everything is right with the world at that moment. Be it daily, monthly or those randomly regular ones, they make me feel contented. Like those temple visits on festival days, or how it always rains on Christmas Eve. New dresses for special occasions, midnight birthday wishes, Appa’s rituals before the Shiva poojai in the morning, Amma’s chanting of the Lalitha Sahasranamam, the good morning and goodnight messages, the messages that come checking up on you, asking if lunch was done or whether you have reached a particular place, the hugs, or the random ruffles on the hair. I take note of quite a few of these traditions. I derive my sense of stability and comfort from them. I wait for them with an anticipation that belies the nonchalance I portray. Even if one of them gets missed or is out of place, I get antsy. A little nervous, like something is going wrong.
This year-end wrap up is like that. The year does not feel complete without one of these on the blog. It is a tradition that has come up over the last couple of years. A sort of wind-down on the happenings of the year. A way of looking back over the year that has been and one that will herald the New Year into our midst. I cannot miss this for any reason. :) Something about this makes me feel good when I write. :)
This year, 2015, has been a good one. Lots of fun was had, many trips were done, a bucket list item was checked off, and a few wishes have come true... All in all, a DARN GOOD YEAR!
I am thankful for this year. It has been a while since I felt about a year like that. I cannot remember the last time that I was happy that a particular year has gone well. This year however, I am grateful and appreciative of whatever it has sent my way.
I gave up making New Year resolutions a few years back. I just do not have the tenacity to stick onto them. They feel a lot like rules and I for one am not too fond of rules. Therefore, I put them down as wishes, things that I would like to do. This year has been one that I have managed to complete most of whatever I wished for. As I stated in my previous blog, I travelled a lot this year. Memorable ones, out of which three were road trips, two were to destinations I had previously travelled to, but still were more fun than the last times and on top of my list is the one where I checked off a much-awaited thing off my bucket-list. Yes! I am talking about the bungee jump. You can see that I’m quite proud of it :P I also managed to read a lot this year, all thanks to the Kindle I was gifted. I completed my reading challenge of 24 books in a year, another achievement that I am quite proud of.
This year there have been more of the fun moments than lessons, for which I am thankful. It has been a year of acceptance, one of letting go. It has been a year of knowing that there are things outside my control, things that I cannot do anything about. This year the regrets have been fewer, the smiles a lot more.
My wish for 2016 is quite simple.
For the coming year, I hope for more of the madness, magic and only some of the mundane.
I hope for more of the journeys, more of fun and more of joy all around.
I hope and wish all of you, oodles of ecstasy, and masses of good health, heaps of wealth and truckloads of cheer all year around! :)
 I wish you all a wonderful year ahead, one where you live life to the fullest, one where you smile, look back and say, what a year it has been! :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A gap-filler tag from Sunday Stealing before the traditional New Year wrap-up post :)

1. What did you do in 2015 that you had never done before?

Travelled almost every month :)

Finished my Reading Challenge of 24 books in 12 months. :)

Petted a few stray Dogs, a Rabbit, a Parakeet, an Elephant and a Tiger :)

Played in the snow:)

Did the world’s tallest bungee jump – personal achievement unlocked.:)

Survived sub-zero temperatures :)

Quit my job :)

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My primary resolution was to travel a lot. Which I think I did :) I am definitely going to have this resolution for the next year as well along with a few more.:)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

One. She had a beautiful baby girl. :)

4. Tell us a valuable lesson you learned in 2015?

Patience. Going with the flow. Waiting for the tide to turn.

5. What was your favorite new TV program?

Quantico. Yes! Say what you want, but I think it is quite interesting.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

Work satisfaction.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Sep 27th 2015 – Lifetime achievement unlocked – world’s tallest bungee jump.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Doing the bungee jump. :) No doubts there!


9. What was your biggest failure?

Learning how to handle some conflicts of emotions.

10. What was the best thing you bought?

I did not need to buy this one. The Kindle that was gifted to me by the gang.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Mine :P :P I accomplished quite a few things that I wanted to this year :)

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and disgusted?

A few people that I thought could not really stoop so low.

13. What song will always remind you of 2015?

Forever trust in who you are, Nothing Else Matters – Metallica. It is a pleasant memory.

14. What do you wish you had done more of?

Travel more. :) Write more :)

15. What do you wish you had done less of?

Cribbing about work and job.

16. What was the best book you read?

This year has to be two of them – Amritanshu Pandey's Seal of Surya – the Legend of Ikshvaku and R. Venketesh’s Of Gods, Kings and Slaves – the Siege of Madurai.

17. What one thing would have made your year measurably more satisfying?

More travelling :)

18. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Patakha Guddi – Highway. (Note: not saying that I’m like her. But I would like to think of myself as free-spirited.)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Someday …

Someday I want to travel so much that I get tired of it. I want to soak in all that is there in the world, seek new experiences, and live to tell fantastic tales of and about the people in them. I want to visit all those temples that hold meaning for me, about the legends that shape them, take amazing photographs of them and write about them into a coffee table book that highlights their pristine and serene beauty. I want to climb a mountain and watch the sunrise in the distance. I want to take sips of tea from the thermos, sit, and revel in the beauty. I want to leave a small indication on top that I have been there. I want to shout out to the world from the high and feel the wind on my face.

Someday I want a place that I can call MY HOME. With the name etched on a wooden board outside, a little bell hanging by its side. A small cozy two-storied haven. Wild flowers growing around it. A small stream gushing by the side. At the foothills of a mountain maybe. Idyllic. Plenty of windows that let the fresh air flow in. A sky roof that lets the sunlight filter in and on which the pitter-patter of rains can be heard. Plenty of woodwork, and wrought-iron work. A well-quipped kitchenette and pantry. Cookbooks lining the island in the kitchen. . Plenty of nooks and corners. Minimalistic designs.
Someday I want to be with a person whom I can cozy up to near the fireplace on cold winter nights, maybe with a glass of steaming hot chocolate by the side. Someone whom I can just lie with my head on his shoulders watching the embers in the fire die down, talking about small things that may or may not matter. Maybe take in a movie together with fingers entwined, or just cuddle up within one blanket and fall asleep in front of the stonewalled fireplace.

Someday I want to have kids, who will scribble on the walls, make me yell at them, or cajole me into joining them on that. With whom I can work on school projects with, make clay models, have them potter around behind my back, asking me a zillion questions about the what and why of everything.
Someday I want to have a dog. A Lab that gambols around and answers to Sargent. One that wakes me in the morning. One that never leaves my side and sticks onto me like glue. One that I can snuggle up to days that I feel alone and miserable. One that begs me with those puppy dog eyes to take him out for a stroll on those balmy evenings after the sun has set.

Some day in my haven, I want to have a studio, with a mural of Lord Shiva on one wall. Shelves filled with books, knick-knacks from travels, curios one-of-a-kind, and Amma’s paintings. Hued colored walls, muted shades that throw shadows and patterns during twilight. My dance anklets. A small music system. Multi-colored throws and rugs and cushions that brighten up the place.

Someday I want to write about the things that make me ME. The smell of old books. 4am conversations, which are peppered with lots of laughter and sober moments of realization. Windswept hair during fast bike rides. Drizzles on the face while taking long walks. A glass of rum on cold nights with people who matter to me. Military prints. Sarees. Ethnic jewelry. Adventure sports. Writing. Mythology. Temples. Tea at the roadside stalls. Hot molaga bhajjis. Vatthakozhambu. Filter Kaapi. Sunsets on beaches. Smoky eyes. Dance. Music. FRIENDSHIPS that make or break the world for me. Early morning quiet. Easy conversations. Surprises. Random hugs. Long drives. Card games. The very first sip of tea or coffee in the mornings. A good movie. Songs that touch the heart. Cycling. Traditions. Slokams. Roadtrips.

Someday I want to turn these dreams into reality and write a book that I can pour down all my life’s worth into, one that I can read in my old age, look back, and reminisce about a life well lived.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Triumph! (55 Fiction series)

She sensed his eyes on her much before she saw him.
Mahi, they called him. Bullish, Arrogant, Chauvinistic.
A reputation built on savagery preceded him. 
Now, he had her targeted.
For his smirk, sneer, a condescending look, she offered in return a slash, thrust, and a beatific smile.
Her job done, Shakti continued her journey. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

9 years and counting... :)

I completed 9 YEARS of blogging yesterday. That is a long time for someone like me who gets bored of things and hobbies fast. It is also one of the few things that have been a constant in my life these past few years. One of the few that I stick to out of the handful that I have. J
I started blogging exactly 9 years ago, on a balmy Thursday evening at ASB. A year into my MBA course, I was at a loss. Until then, my only outlet was random diaries, notebooks and such most of which I had burned the year before I joined for MBA. Yes. I was not thinking. Being obsessive about keeping my secret scribbles were more important. In hindsight, it was probably a blessing in disguise. ;) :P Blogging therefore was quite new. On a rocky internet connection, sitting at our third floor computer lab, I gingerly opened blogger and tried navigating my way through it. My biggest inspiration then was this senior from my school called Sandhya. Hers was one of the few blogs I had come across and I openly admired the effortless way that she wrote. I hijacked the title of my blog, from a friend who had casually mentioned it in passing, created a blog, and was on my way. Devious uh! :P
Being a not-so-very-expressive person myself, I admire people who can express themselves eloquently. I have a high regard for people who can do things effortlessly. Like public speaking. Having the ability to say no. Dancing. Writing.
When it comes to expressing myself, I find that I prefer writing to speaking them out.
I admit! I am sucker for words. I unabashedly revere people who can create magic with words. I find myself frequently getting lost in other people’s words, and seeing reflections of myself in them. This is usually coupled with self-pity at the fact that I will never be as good a writer as the person’s words that I have just imbibed, and as well awe of the words that I have just gotten lost in.
When it comes to blogging, I’m usually a stickler for perfection. The words have to perfect, the sentences framed just so, and the meaning conveyed just right, no innuendoes other than the one that I have intended. Out of the 351 posts that I have published over the last 9 years, only about 1/4th of them are up to that level of perfection that I so desire. The Mahabharata Chronicles are one of them. Other ones are under the label Knitted Yarn and Being a Girl. These are my favorite ones. The ones that I have written long back when I started blogging are more fluff pieces than anything else is. Now when I read them, I cringe and think about how much better I could have written them. Most of my turbulent 20's are covered in here. However, I do realize that they are an essential part of my life that show how much I have evolved and how much has changed from back then to now. From whom I was to who I am now. :-) :-)
These days, blogging is like therapy. Gone are the days when I had to blog just for the sake of it. Nowadays I blog when I feel like it. When I want to express something. Some Joys, some Hidden Angst, Snippets of Life, New Beginnings, and of course Milestones like these.
Tweaking the popular adage,
“My words sound better coming from my hands than from my mouth. My Expression, My life! ;-)"
Here’s to countless more years of blogging and expressing my life out! :) :)  Cheers!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Life's updates over a cup of coffee :)

Disclaimer. Anticipatory Bail.

This is going to be one of those boring posts, much like a gap-filler. Mostly because I keep being asked why I am not writing anything these days. But also, I really want to break this rut that I am in!!

A fancy title, lots of blaming mundane stuff, some general updates, lots of excessive smileys and a promise to return to blogging seriously, that is what this is going to be about. So if you’re expecting something concrete, sorry :) :) One of these days, soon enough, I will post quality stuff. Today, however, is not that day. :D :D

Blogger tells me that it has been 157 days since I blogged. That is equal to 5 months and 4 days. 22 weeks and 2 days.

No, I did not do this math. I used Google. That is a huge number of days that have lapsed. I do not even want to get into the calculations of how many weekdays and weekends that is. And No! I do not have any specific reasons! I can blame lack of motivation, writer’s block of plain laziness. I can also blame bouts of travel. Oh No!! I will not blame TRAVEL! It is the best thing to happen this year. :) :)

Technically, I should have had enough stuff to blog about. As I said, I have done a fair bit of traveling this past 6 months compared to the usual spending long weekends cooped up in SG. I could have also continued my Mahabharata Chronicles, which I do intend to continue by the way – there are piles of unfinished drafts lying in the folder… :)). I could have done some tags. As I remember, they used to be my most favorite blog topics a couple of years back. :P Not that I found any worth my time.

So what was I up to?

I travelled a bit, made use of the lots of long weekends that are there this year in a good way, stayed at home the one longest weekend because of lack of planning. :-/ Something that still irks me. Anyways, let’s not dwell on that!! I am looking forward to change that in the rest of the months in 2015. This year however so far, I have been to Leh – Ladakh, Penang, Ipoh, Bali, and home! :-) :-) I know! Not too bad huh! :)

On the milestones front, I turned another year older, completed 2 years at my current job, and completed 6 years in Singapore. I started learning a new dance form (Odissi), gave it up when I went on a two week break with the family to Bali, I checked some things off my bucket list and added another few items on it. I have a few more things pending for this year that I need to check off.

Oh also, I had the most awesome birthday ever with a kick-ass cake to boot, and baked by a close friend. Idea conceived by the best friend. :-) Nope. Can’t post any pics here since it’s too racy for this blog :D Suffice to say, good friends, great night-out, dance, dinner, drinks, and brilliant presents. :) :) Fun was had, and HOW!!! :) :)

As part of the above celebs, I was gifted a kindle this year, something that has been on my wish list for the last 2 years. I was on the fence about an e-reader but can I tell you the stats?  14 books in 4 months. That is some achievement even by my standards! It’s GOOD, people. Take my word for it! I still love my books, smell of paper and all that, but this little device has been a lifesaver on my one-hour plus train journeys back and forth from home to office.

Someone very kindly reminded me about a couple of months back; it has been 6 years since I landed on the shores of Singapore. That is a long time even by my standards. Normally in about three years or so, I get that itchy feeling to move out and head to a new place. I still do get that sometimes here. Have to figure out what to do about it. Been everywhere here, seen everything, done almost everything – time to head to a new place huh? I mean, I am comfortable in this place. It has given me a lot, but it has taken a fair bit as well, so my feelings are quite ambivalent in that regard. The one thing that I will always be thankful to Singapore for – FRIENDS.

Oh boy, I can definitely ramble on eh. I mean, I actually thought I would not have anything to write about.

Ok. I think I should stop here. I hope this gives me back the mojo to continue the blogging efforts, especially ‘The Mahabharata Chronicles’. :) :)

In the meantime, if you do see me, do ask me why I am not writing anything these days; it seems to do the trick. ;) :)

Until the next blog then...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dhritarashtra - The Mahabharata Chronicles #10

The Princess shuddered at the old sage’s touch. His wizened fingers were callous and coarse. His face was a grotesque visage of lines deepened by years spent in the wild. The matted hair with tendrils escaping from it reminded her of the gnarled roots of a well-lived tree. She could not believe that the Queen Mother had thrust this nightmare upon her. This; when the mourning period for her dead husband was not even over yet. A small but audible sigh escaped her and she shut her eyes tight, willing the ordeal to be over soon.

The aged sage looked down at her. He could well understand the qualms within her. He was no Gandharva to look at, but then this was what his so-called mother willed and therefore he had no choice. It was a harsh but much needed decision of niyoga to ensure that the lineage of Kurus flourished. However, he was apprehensive of breaking the news to the queen mother. He was thinking of what was the best way to break the news to her, when her summons came.

Satyavati looked at her son, born of sage Parashara, standing in front of her. He had an unsure look on his face. She wondered what could have happened that his expression was such. She had heard the screams and protests of anger and agony from her daughter-in-law, however she had chosen to turn a deaf ear to that, her strong-willed mind intent upon the lineage that would be brought forth through her first-born, if not King Shantanu’s children. With a foreboding that belied her usual self, she beckoned Vyasa to her, and asked him of the outcome.

Krishna Dwaipayana, the dark-skinned one replied thus,
“Of your daughter, Ambika shall be born a great and mighty boy, as strong as ten thousand elephants. He will possess inordinate intellect, abundant vitality and will beget a hundred sons. However, since the princess did the grievance of not opening her eyes when I was with her, the boy so born will be blind. He will be named Dhritarashtra – “one who wields the power of the nation and holds it together.”

Dhritarashtra wandered the castle aimlessly, his thoughts taking him through the murky annals of his life. The strength of a thousand elephants – Bah! Of what good was immense strength when his own kith and kin looked at him with pity. He remembered the day Vidur, his closest friend and stepbrother had expressed what was uppermost in everyone else’s minds. Nobody else had voiced it out in front of him and none would have had the gumption to, but he had heard the whispered murmurs, and felt the sly glances. Over the years, he had developed a keen sense of hearing, and acute perception. As the eldest of the family, he was the rightful heir to the throne. He had not let his blindness get in his way to proving his capabilities. There was none as strong as he was and as experienced as him in combat warfare, blind as he maybe. He had proven himself worthy of the throne in every aspect. Yet, it was not to be.

He had accepted the decision to crown Pandu as king, with his usual calm demeanor and his head held high. He had found himself, cheering along with the family when the coronation took place. He loved Pandu like none else, he was after all he was his younger brother but deep in his heart, he felt the twinge of jealousy raking its head up every now and then. He wished it were he on that high and mighty throne, looking down on his subjects. Holding high the staff of Hastinapura, proving to everyone that he was the rightful possessor of the rule. Except that, it was not to be. For; a king to be blind was unheard of and considered blasphemous.

When Pandu knelt before him for his blessings, he felt a pang of shame for the thoughts flowing within him and blessed him wholeheartedly, that he would succeed as king. However, the injustice still rankled within him rearing its ugly head once every few instances. He vowed immediately that his sons would not undergo the same agony that he was enduring.

It was with this thought that he agreed to get married to Gandhari, the beautiful princess of Gandhar, one of the vassal states of Hastinapura. He believed that his queen would be whatever he could not be. That she would be his sight and ears and his equal in all rights. However, when the queen found out that her husband was blind, she had taken a red cloth and tied it over her eyes, reasoning that she wanted to share the pain her husband was suffering. He had felt cheated, that he had missed yet another chance; that life had thrown its dice against him yet again. Emboldened by the thought that his hundred sons would soothe his suffering, he kept quiet and continued as the regent king when Pandu renounced the kingdom and left for the forests with his two wives.

For a while having enjoyed the monopoly of power, the threat of having to give up the throne, came back to haunt him when Pandu’s sons and his wife Kunti returned from the forests, after the former’s death. From then on, it had been a rollercoaster ride of sibling rivalry, friction, multiple instances of strife, paltry fights and finally the day it had all come to a standstill – The day of the Game of Dice. For him, that was the day his sons’ fates had been sealed.

Dhritarashtra sat on the huge jewel-encrusted throne. His frame looked diminished as opposed to man who was supposedly the strongest of them all. The most recent emissary from the battlefield had only brought more bad tidings. He had already heard the latest reports of the war from his trusted advisor Sanjaya. He cursed himself for having turned an already blind eye to the errant ways of his sons. He lamented the fact that he was losing his sons one by one each day. He blamed himself for not having been sterner with them when the situation demanded. Deep in his heart, he had known that this was to be expected. This war, this carnage, these deaths, they were all inevitable.

He had caught Krishna alone a few days later after the bloodshed and had bemoaned to him about the cursed life he was leading. He sensed a small smile playing at the corners of Krishna’s lips in the answer the latter gave. He reflected upon himself as Krishna had told him to and became aware of his actions as a tyrant king in one of his many past lives. Giving into a passing whim, he had cruelly gouged out the eyes of a swan he had come across in that life and killed its hundred young cygnets, without any remorse. His mind in a swirl, he dejectedly ruminated that the cycle of karma was finally catching up with him.

And so it was, and so it would be, until the all-consuming thoughts burning inside of him, manifested itself as a forest fire, pervading his present being, freeing him of the torment, bringing along with it the peace and calmness he had been craving for.

His mind filled with the appearance he had begged and pleaded Krishna to show him, until the latter had relented relieving him of his blindness temporarily and granting his wish.

That image, of the Lord Supreme, in all his glory, in his Viswaroopa, would forever be imprinted on his mind.

As also, the enormity of the words his nephew had whispered into his ears before he left;

“The tranquility as well as the turmoil that binds a being to his current existence 
is defined by the ripples of his actions, good and bad, accumulated over his many lives.
One can neither change it nor will it otherwise.
That what is meant to be, will be.”

Grahanam - A review!

It has been quite some time since I penned something on this blog, and even longer, since I wrote a movie review. But there is no good time ...