Thursday, December 24, 2015

Random thoughts

In the end, what school you went to, what degrees you earned, what jobs you had makes no difference. Were you surrounded by people who love you, were you able to return that love, during this whole process were you happy is all that matters. If not, then all you are left with are meaningless numbers and letters printed on paper which can be easily torn.
The people you choose to surround you is the key. If you choose the right people, you have a chance at happiness. If the people you chose are not right but you hold the courage and wisdom to walk away, you still have a chance at happiness. But if you choose the wrong people and cannot walk away, you are screwed.
Life is precious, we don't realize it till we near the end or see a loved one near the end. You have to see death at 15cm normal vision distance to appreciate life. It's funny.. This whole thing called life and all the unnecessary complications we build around it..

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Compromised lives - that's the movie Tamasha in two words. This post is not a movie review, but an insight into the life that a lot of people live. As depicted in the movie, we are all running a race, we don't know what the race is about, or what it is for, everybody is running, so we are also running. Are we first or second, or ninth or tenth? We don't know. Choose your own race and ace that.
How many of us are really able to do that? Stop running everyone else's race, and run your own? I don't know, maybe because my outlook is small or because I am surrounded by lots and lots of people who are in the rat race, that I feel that this percentage of people who run their own race is very small. However, something inside me, makes me believe that I am part of the small population that lives compromised lives.
Be yourself - that's the movie Tamasha in two other words. You don't have to change for the world, or do things to please people around you. Believe in your wings and fly.
Like one of those forwards, the birds trust it's wings not the branch of the tree it's sitting on.. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I see her

I see her smile
A kind of smile that masks all pain
The broken tooth with signs of yellowing
From age
Her eyes gleam
There is a brightness in them
She is genuinely happy
I see her shrug from the cold wind
As she stands by the snowman
Whiteness like she has never seen before
Pristine beauty like her soul
Her shawl folded in half around her neck
Grey jacket which has her smell
Her hands soft and warm
Her face smooth like ice
I see her
Yes, I see her
From my soul
She took my smile with her
She took my hope with her
She took the warmth from me
And she hides now
I see her on my table
Her reflection in my shadow
I am her flesh and blood
So I see her
It was someone else at the pyre
No it was not her
I know she will come
And I will see her smile, again.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


My memory of buying clothes goes back to the vendor opposite my house in Sampangiram Nagar. The guy who owned the shop was Shanthilal. It was a small shop, with a counter in the front. He sat behind the counter, chewing his pan or a red stained mouth, from a pan chewed earlier. Everyday morning like an alarm, he opened the shop at the same time. He had hired a lady to sweep the front of the shop and draw a small rangoli. This lady was old and lived on the money she earned by doing menial jobs for others. She did this for some adjoining shops as well. She came home occasionally and my mother always fed her.
So Shanthilal opened the shop and sat there waiting for customers. Watching the inflow of customers to his shop and the other shops was an instant timepass for me. I just stood outside the balcony and watched the people who walked into his shop. Evenings were rush hours. He ended up buying the building with two floors above and three adjoining shops, which was a sign that his business was flourishing. The first floor was his residence and he rented out the second floor. When he went for lunch in the afternoon, his wife or son, Mahaveer sat at the counter.
My mother and I went to his shop once in a while to pick up some socks for my father, handkerchief, towels, or innerwear. The commodities in his shop were expensive, according to my parents, so unless it was really essential, we didn't go in there. When we didn't have the money to pay, he opened his big red book of accounts. There was a page for my father, and if we didn't have money, he would add to the account. Usually we went with hundred rupees when our need was for two hundred.
Beyond his counter there was another room full of shirting and trouser material stacked against the walls. There was a hard mattress on the floor for customers to sit and select the fabric. It was a small room, maybe 8 ft by 8 ft. When he made enough money, he expanded his shop to the next room and started selling salwar kameez, sarees, dress material. Whenever we went in, he would ask my mother, 'Thangam, saree dikhaoo, Indu ke liye salwar kameez, lelo..' 'Thangam, shall I show you some sarees, salwar kameez for Indu'. He was a true businessman.
My mother's sarees were often bought by my father on some official trips he went to, Calcutta or Orissa. Occasionally they were from our family friends who owned a silk loom. But now, when I think of it, maybe she wanted to buy a few sarees from Shanthilal's shop. I don't know.
My father bought shirt material, maybe once in a decade from Shanthilal and always gave it to one tailor, all his life. He believed until recently, that those were the only group of tailors who could stitch his shirt and pant the way he liked them. He always had a maximum of three sets of shirts and pants.
My clothes and my brother's came from Chellaram's, once a year. I think it was for my 10th birthday, that Kids Kemp opened on MG Road. With all the advertisement for Kids Kemp, I forced my parents to go there for my birthday dress. I don't know how heavy it must have been on them, but I remember feeling like a princess, in the red frock with white net all around. 
Buying the birthday dress was a family ritual and something I looked forward to. Before my birthday or my brother's we took an auto to Chellaram's. After a lot of searching, I almost always settled on a yellow dress. First they came as frocks, then skirts and blouses, and finally when I was in pre-degree, jeans and blouse.
As I entered college, the salwar kameez came from the inner streets of Commercial Street. They were always too big for me, blame it on my miniature form. They never made clothes in petites those days, it was all free size, atleast the ones you got from the bylanes of Commercial Street. For t-shirts and pajamas to wear at home and hostel, we went to Burma Bazaar. Not inside the bazaar, but the vendors on the streets around Burma Bazaar.
As my income grew, I exercised more freedom in the clothes I bought and their price. About three years ago, I switched to Fab India, and that was a lot of freedom. The most fulfilling experience has been buying clothes for my parents. Its not the arrogance, but the fulfillment, that life has come to a full circle in a little way.
Today, I shop from JC Penney or Gap or one of those shops. I can go there anytime I want and buy what I need. But the happiness of that one birthday dress, simply cannot be recreated.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

From Madhavikutty to Kamala Suraiya

I am no biographer, my interest in the author Madhavikutty was a tiny spark when I was a child. My father mentioned that his favorite author was Madhavikutty. When I grew up and started reading I picked up a few books authored by her and couldn't stop myself from rereading. Memories of Malabar is my favorite. My grandmother's house, her poem is the best I have read.
There is some feminine pull I feel towards the lady behind the words. She was just another girl growing up in the safety of her grandmother's house. She had dreams of happiness and much more. What made me curious is why she became Kamala Suraiya. As I read through Memories of Malabar or other writings about her, I realize that she never planned to become Kamala Suraiya. The people in her life and the circumstances that she was subject to forced her to think the way she did and do the things she did.
It is unfortunate that girls who grow up as innocent beings have their feathers plucked out by a man she marries who should be her partner. The trust she places in him, with her whole life is shattered. There are some brave women who fly away before the branch breaks, because they trust their wings. But there are many others who sit there scared that the branch will break and forget they can fly. They were born to fly. They wait there in anticipation that they will be rescued.
We cannot blame them because the people and circumstances in their life has led them to disbelieve in their ability to fly. And these birds become Kamala Suraiya...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Of coffee.. Of chit chats.. Of smiles..

There is a place far away from where I live now, where the coffee machine works just like it used to, the cafeteria is full of people and voices, there are people standing behind those huge glass windows talking about their woes. Every morning there was an IM with the coffee mug and a question mark. It was endless chatter about work, people, kids, school and what not. After another two hours, there is another IM, this time a group one, with the word 'lunch?'. Tracking down people, organizing the schedule, buying the same old food, or devouring the other's lunch box, and endless laughter and fun. Then there is the evening tea with snacks in our own coffee shop by the lake with plans for the evening or venting out the frustration of the day. It was people, there was a life, where I was surrounded by people. Unlike today, where I sit in my office room. My mother smiling at me from her most beautiful picture. Stacks of paper waiting to be cleared out on my desk. The dim bulb of yellow light, which makes me feel like just shutting down. There is no coffee.. there is no IM.. I have lunch, mostly by myself, either huddled in my seat at office, or on the 4-seater dining table in the corner of my house.
I know its hard to believe, that there is a place far away from where I live now, where I was happy. It was where the people around me, cast a blanket over the qualms of my other life. I lived in the happiness that they created around me, leaving my troubles locked up somewhere. I didn't have to spill out my lows, just sharing my highs and listening to theirs was happiness. There was someone who listened, someone who spoke.
There is a place far away from where I live now, where people still IM for coffee.. meet for lunch, share scores of laughter and return home to meet again. While I, reminisce in yesterday, trudging through the memories, crawling through the happiness, longing for that place that is far away from where I live now..
And yet, a voice from some inner core of me tells me, everything happens for the good and I live in false-belief.. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015


It's been a strenuous three months... without her. Not that I lived with her, but now that I know she is not around she lives in my thoughts more than ever. As I sit down to work, she sits there on my table in a red saree.. A light and shade photograph of her clicked by my father. She looks exactly the way I want to remember her...  happy, shy, colorful. This was probably clicked before all her troubles started, her face has a calmness that I have rarely seen in my growing years. Probably that is the reason why I chose this picture.
The toughest day in the last three months was my birthday. I was traumatized for more than a week before my birthday, dreading the fact that I wouldn't hear the wish from the one person I have heard all my life.. Not missing a single one. When I woke up the next day I knew what it meant to overcome a hurdle in life.
Death bring a closure to voices, touch, words, expressions, emotions, sight and so many others that we treasure so greatly during a lifetime. The only thing that death livens up as it comes, is the invisible presence of the person around you. It's not memories but the feeling that the person death took away is closer to you in spirit.
"I miss you Ma" is too small a phrase that fails to capture my emotions over the part three months. I know I will get used to it as there is no turning back time. But I want you to know that I would do anything to get back a few moments with you, as alms...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Time.. Encouragement.. Love..

Many blogs, pictures, videos have made their rounds trying to tell me what I should give my children to make them good individuals when they grow up. There were quite a few things said in different ways that it sometimes left me confused. Being a first time parent with no prior experience like almost everyone, these writeups did intrigue me, lest I may be enlightened.
An incident today, gave me the answers.
My younger son aged 8 is reluctant to try most things, his favourite rejection being vegetables. A little bit of coaxing does get him to try helping us break his resounding No. So this time, it was to try riding his older brothers cycle and be sure that he hasn't lost balance before we buy him his own. His argument was that the handle was too wide, the seat was too high etc., etc. This evening I told him that I would walk behind him if he would try. He reluctantly agreed. When he heard me telling his brother that this was mommy-kevin time, he was on cloud nine. So we set off. The first round on my street was not bad. He spotted a 2 cm high uphill which was too difficult to climb, he didn't know how to make right turns, he walked near a bridge and so on. I just stuck with him and got him home. I managed to coax him into a second round, this time a straight road, halfway to his school. It was much easier this time. He took a right turn without thinking, went uphill at the driveway, rode past a bridge, leaving me way behind.
He was ecstatic. He said, I don't need a new bicycle, I like this one, you can buy Nitin a new one! 
As I was walking back home, the beautiful sunset smiling at me, I realised that I helped him overcome his premonitions by spending time with him, providing some encouragement and love. So that's it. Time. Encouragement. Love. He is a more confident person.
I can put this formula to any situation and I think it will work. I am sure somebody has said this before and I have read in one of those how-to-raise-children blogs.. but this instance made it loud and clear...
My children have taught me the best lessons on parenting and constantly remind me that its the little things in life which matter the most!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The whole...

Nobody knows you completely. Not one person.. nah!.. Not even yourself. Because you are not who you think you are. Its just a part of you. Who you are is what you are to the people you know and the lives you touch. What you are to the other person is you.. rather a part of you. The emotions, the connect, the conversations is that part of you. And all these parts put together is the real you.
So I don't have anybody in full. I have only one part of everyone. What they are to me, they are not to another person. The equations are different. What is constant is only the equal to sign.
So technically, nobody is mine. A part of them is mine. And unfortunately, its not until death tears us apart, that we see all the parts or atleast most of it. When all the parts come together to bid one final goodbye to the person that was.. and this realization dawns on you, that yes, she gave birth to you, your whole is a part of hers, yet, you are only a part of her whole..

Thursday, July 16, 2015


She was the fourth child born to a namboothiri father and his second wife, a nair lady. At the age of 17 she left her small town Eravimangalam in central Kerala to the garden city of Bangalore to help her sister take care of her child. In six months at the age of 18yrs and 3 months she got married to a photographer employed at Visweswaraya Museum. Five years down the line she had a daughter and another 5 years she gave birth to a son.
She strove hard to put her kids in Bishop Cottons School, one of the premier schools in Bangalore. With the meagre salary her husband brought home and the additional extra income from screen printing it was a repeated cycle of rigorous thirty day struggle to make ends meet. But she stuck through it for a long twenty one years. She put her kids through engineering colleges and got them through computer science degrees. When her children graduated, she graduated as well. She cleated ICSE twice in her lifetime.
At the age of 46 she came down with Parkinsons. But that did not deter her spirit. She travelled the world, made five trips to the US, saw the grandeur of Niagra falls, grand canyon, new york, the white house and vegas. She gambled at the casinos on the slot machine and she had so much fun. She saw the arrival of her grandson as he let out his first cry in this world. She cut the umbilical cord.
Through all her troubles, she smiled. She lived by example and showed us that there is no mountain too big, no storm too rough, no day that you cannot get through. Courage was her middle name.
I have never experienced death this closely. It does bring an end of sorts. But it is not the end. She is here, in this house, around me, with me, watching over me.. like how i cannot touch happiness, i cannot touch pride, i cannot touch her. But she is here, very much here..
I don't know where she went, however, i know she is happy. She is at peace finally. She has no troubles no sorrows no pain. Her limbs are not bitten by Parkinsons anymore. She is free. She is smiling and in a very happy place.
Like every mother and daughter we have fought. Arguments, periods of not talking, patching up. But at the end I realise that there is nothing of that. It's just the happy moments..
I know the void will never fill but it makes me happy that at this very moment and for all the moments to come she has only happiness..

Monday, January 26, 2015

Little Teachers

In a few years
they will spread out their wings
they will learn to take flight
they will fly to yonder lands
to find greener pastures
bluer skies
when they leave
they will leave behind memories
they will leave the warmth
of their hugs
their voices will echo inside these walls
they will call out for me
any moment now
and I will wait
the longing
when it comes
may it be bearable
How do I let them go?
As I tuck them in today
My heart is heavy
As they taught me
the nuances of motherhood
Maybe they will teach me
the art of letting go
A lifetime of leanings
And the best teachers
Our children...

Sunday, January 11, 2015


A half circle a line a dot
Sits in your mind to rot
Many many words precede it
Alas nothing follows
Sometimes there are no words
Just a blank face
People dont read the words
Or the half circle or line or dot

I think I know the answers
I can still read faces
The veil is so tightly wound
To mask all the words
Some words still peep out

The wait is long
Nevertheless the veil will crush
Under its own burden and someday
The words will follow
The half circle the line the dot...

Why do marriages fail?

Why do marriages fail, after all marriages are made in heaven. People are meant to be, made for each other and all those decorative one liners.. In real life most of these one liners are more of a curse. Spouses want to find that heaven and douse it with fire. They want to find that astrologer who told their parents that this couple was made for each other and stab him a hundred times.
So why do marriages fail?
Every person thinks he knows what he wants in a spouse. Most often than not what he thinks he wants is not what he really needs. This is step 1. When he finds a spouse he feels that what he wanted and what he got are not in sync. He either adjusts to what he got and leads a happy adjustment life or remains adamant on his needs and tries to change the spouse. This leads to discord and an unhappy life or broken marriage. This is step 2.
Some people enter the institution of marriage not knowing what they want, completely clueless. After they are tied down they start to understand what they need and start evaluating the spouse against those needs. Surprise!! You married the wrong person. This is step 3.
There are indeed very few happy marriages and in such marriages what they need and what they think they need and what they get are all in sync for both partners. What are the chances for this? Very very low. The rest of the marriages that survive are adjustments. Some honest adjustments lead to happy marriages. Spouses give less weightage to their wishes and whims. They, again both partners try to see the bright side of things and try to blend into what they get. The last group is the most pathetic. They stick to their wish list and make a mess out of life. Either they end up sticking to each other due to social pressures or take the bold step of divorce.
Alas!! Marriages are made in heaven but the people getting married are mere mortals :-)