Dec 27, 2010

Rukavat ke liye khed hai !

The reason why you are seeing just wordless wednesdays for the past two weeks is because I am on a mini blog break; to relax, rejuvenate, take stock of the year gone by and for a long awaited family reunion. Will be back in a week or so with hopefully many fresh anecdotes and tales.
Meanwhile hope you all are enjoying the festive season !

Dec 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday #6


X-mas - Harbourland Kobe, Japan


Dec 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday #5


On the way to gangotri


Dec 13, 2010

One foot in the Grave !

 This is what http://www.urlai.com has to say about my blog :

nirjharani.blogspot.com is probably written by a female somewhere between 66-100 years old. The writing style is personal and happy most of the time.

So I am a tottering old woman but at least I am a happy one ! :P

Dec 9, 2010

2011 South Asia Book Challenge !

I absolutely love books and usually lap up any challenge that has to do with reading! So when I read a post over at Swaram’s about the 2011 South Asian Challenge hosted at S krishna’s Books I sighed up in a jiffy. This challenge requires us to read books by South Asian authors in 2011. We can choose any level that we want right from reading just one book in the year to reading about 10 books. I have decided to sign up for the South Asian Guru Level. This will require me to read over 10 books in the year 2011 by South Asian writers! Hope I succeed! I have decided to try concentrating on writers from other South Asian countries besides just India.
This particular challenge is only about writers in South Asia, but aside from taking up this challenge in the coming year I am also going to try and read more books about Japan and by Japanese authors. It has been a very long time since I read anything by a Japanese writer!
So get ready for a lot of books related posts in the coming year !

Dec 8, 2010

Book Review - We Can Pull it Off

Author: Suresh Taneja
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing
Price: 200/-

 
In his debut book, Suresh Taneja attempts to find a solution for the most rampant problem facing our country – Corruption. And he does this not by preaching or boring us with moral lectures but by writing a story about four friends who come together to transform our country. The book begins in 2030 where India is entirely different from what we see now. India has become a super power that is actually providing aid to countries like U.S and Indian companies are the biggest and the best in the world. The four friends, who were the key alchemists in bringing about the revolution, tell their kids how they went about it. I am not going to go too deep into the story because I really dont want to be a spoiler, but what I like best about the book is the fantastic ways in which the author provides solutions to the problems facing our country. The solutions are innovative and yet so grassroot and simple that one wonders why our country doesn’t actually implement them.This book is a brave attempt by the author to write about the situation in our country and how all of us can come together to make India a better place.
Unfortunately, the book falters a bit as far as narration and characterization is concerned. The narration drags at many places and none of the characters are talked about in depth anywhere. The author just skims over and sketches a brief characterization of the four friends and so the reader is not able to connect well with them. The book also tends to be repetitive at times and lacks a good flow at many places. This book is a refreshing change from the usual campus stories and teenage romances but purely from the literary point of view, this book lacks finesse and fails to engage fully.

 
Note – This is an author requested review

Wordless Wednesday # 4

Little Monks -Palampur

Dec 7, 2010

Music in My Pocket !

I am the sort of person who abhors change of any kind, especially if the change is technology related. I am not at all technologically savvy and as my tech – geek friends put it not so kindly, for someone who’s worked in the IT industry for the past 8 years, I should be downright ashamed of my lack of knowledge! But I simply can’t seem to understand or operate half the technological devices out there. The latest technological gizmos and inventions do not make me quiver with anticipation and excitement. They just make me nervous and I continue to stick to my current way of life like a limpet stuck fast on a rock! Off course, technology has changed and continues to change our lives for the better. It’s just that I am not one of those people who go eagerly with the flow, I am one of those who trudge along grumpily, resisting with all their might!
So I guess I was the only person on the face of this planet who didnt exactly whoop with joy when Apple invented the iPod.For the life of me, I couldnt understand what the fuss was all about.I wondered what sort of people liked to walk about with earphones dangling out of their ears all the time. Music means a lot to me, life would be pretty pathetic and drab without any music; but for me listening to music also requires a certain time and place. `You can’t just listen to music anywhere and all the time, I mean then it would just be a distraction` or so I told everybody who cared to listen.
And then, Apple introduced their iPod Nano while I was in Japan. Now, the land of the rising sun is one place where you would be forgiven if you assumed that the kids there are born with earphones growing out of their ears like some sort of extra body parts. Everybody, and I mean everybody right from school kids to housewives to business men, to the guy sweeping the road have earphones stuck in their ears. Even the cook in my favorite restaurant cooked while listening to music on his iPod. iPod Nano was introduced in Japan a few days before Christmas and the people went almost berserk. They were actually queuing up in the snow to buy it as if their life depended on it. The iPod mania seemed to infect my friends as well and within weeks they had all bought one. Suddenly it became almost impossible to have a decent conversation with them. I had a long commute to work,but I really enjoyed it because almost all my friends used the same train and time flew by as we chatted and laughed together. Not any more! Now all of them plugged in their iPods as soon as they left home and spent all the commute time tapping their feet to music only they could hear while I stared moodily out of the window. All efforts to make conversation were met with blank looks till I yanked the earphones out of their ears. It made me feel totally lonely and isolated. Life I guess become good for them but truly miserable for me! My pleas that I was bored or threats on how anti social they had all become fell on deaf or rather on earphone- plugged ears. Instead, every time I complained they told me what a big idiot I was for missing out on something so good.Soon,I was mighty fed up of feeling left out in a world entirely dominated by a tribe of iPod zealots.So I grumpily tramped off to the nearest mall to buy myself an iPod nano. Once there I was confronted with iPods in a dazzling array of colors and a whole lot of paraphernalia I couldn’t make head or tail of. Any how I chose a blue colored iPod nano and returned home feeling very smug and pleased with myself.
I then spent a considerable amount of time uploading songs in it. Finally, I plugged in the iPod and in that instant my life changed! After I had got used to having earphones in my ears (yes I am weird that way I don’t like things like earphones at all!) I was totally having a blast! I took to the iPod as a fish takes to water! The endless commute became easier once I started using my iPod. Reading was not possible while standing in a crowded train but listening to music was and the music helped me forget the milling rush and the crush of humanity around me ! I used to listen to a lot of Hindi songs then, may be because I was so far from home and there was something very comforting about listening to Bollywood songs in a foreign land ! Maybe it is nostalgia but even now whenever I listen to those songs I am instantly transported back to those train rides to and fro from work. Shortly after I bought the iPod I joined a gym. The trainer had one look at me spilling out of my clothes and put me on a very strict regime which I felt would most definitely kill me.I used to plug in the iPod as soon as I started walking on the treadmill and listening to music helped me take my mind off images of my legs buckling under me and of my lungs bursting. At work having a cup of strong coffee when I felt sleepy was replaced by listening to some music. When things became too stressful, all I had to do was listen to some soothing music on my iPod. I no longer cribbed about feeling left out, I was a converted iPod zealot now! My iPod was my faithful companion during long train rides, endless waits at the airport for connecting flights and even while I stood in a line waiting to pay for my groceries. I fell in love, and am still in love with my iPad Nano. It’s sleek and feather light and I love the idea of carrying my music in my pocket. I’ve had it for close to five years now and can’t imagine a life without it ! The iPod changed my life again but this time it changed for the better!
I look at the latest technological gizmos with a less jaundiced eye now.I am secretly wondering if I should buy kindle although for the sake of public façade I still vociferously maintain how much I love the crispy feel of paper as I turn a page and the comfort of a book in my hand and how kindle will spoil all that !

Check out Buytheprice.com and connect with Indian Bloggers at BlogAdda

Dec 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday # 3

Nov 30, 2010

A book for all seasons !

As someone who is a certified Bookoholic I am fond of all the books that I have. Some books I like because they make me laugh, some because they make me think and some because they are sheer masterpieces with words woven into them as beautifully as an intricate tapestry! And then there are some special books that you can read again and again and again and never tire of. They give you the same comfort as a soft fluffy blanket on a cold winter day, warm and familiar. Books by Ruskin Bond make me feel that way. All his books are precious to me but there is one particular book by him that is very very close to my heart. And that book is Scenes from a Writer`s Life.
 


Scenes from a Writer`s Life is basically a memoir in which Ruskin Bond talks about his childhood years in Dehra, the brief but lonely years he spent in New Jersey and London as a struggling writer and his nostalgia for his friends and for India while he was there. I bought this book about 13 years back, just a few days after it was published.I guess the timing was simply perfect because a few weeks later I got an opportunity to go to Japan. I was very excited about it, it was something I had wanted for a long time. But my happiness was also tinged with little niggling fears. It was my first time in a foreign country and the first time I was going to be away from home for so long! As I packed my stuff for the year long stay, I mulled over which of my books I should take with me. Airlines to Japan only allow you a measly 20 kgs so I could hardly carry all of my books, much as I wanted to ! I had a hard time deciding the few books I wanted to take with me and I am so glad I chose Scenes from a Writer`s Life as one of them. This book turned out to be a real blessing in those first few harsh and lonely days that I spent in an alien country without any family or friends. Sitting in my small apartment in Tokyo, as I turned the pages and read Ruskin Bond`s poignant descriptions about the time spent with his friends in Dehra and his reluctant decision to leave India to become a writer, I could relate to it instantly. I could understand his loneliness, his yearning to get those days back again and yet his determination to follow his dream. In the chapter, “The Pure, the Bright and the Beautiful” Ruskin Bond writes about his going away「A month, only a month and I shall leave with the autumn…… I wish time could stand still now, this very minute, and that life could carry on this way. But my accursed ambition would not have it !」It was the same “accursed” ambition that had brought me so far from home and family to Japan! During those days, this book was my solace, something I turned to whenever I felt homesick. I read this book every night before I fell asleep and to a lonely and troubled heart this book was a great comfort and a source of inspiration!
Japan is almost a second home to me now, a country that I have returned to again and again. But even now, all I have to do is turn the pages of this book and I am instantly transported back to those very first days in Japan ! I have had this book for over a decade now and have read it innumerable times. It has become rather worn over time, but this is one book I can never let go. It has too many memories attached to it !
Another very very special thing about this book is that it has Ruskin Bond`s autograph in it. I had an opportunity to meet Ruskin Bond when he was in Delhi for a Book Reading and from all his books that I have I chose Scenes from a Writer`s life to get autographed! You can see his autograph here. Although its not a very clear picture!



I am extremely fussy about lending or giving away books, and It will be very difficult to get me to part with this book but if I have to lend it, it will be to someone who really appreciates what this book is all about. This book is not for the logical, calculative kinds, this book is for people who follow their hearts more than their minds!
This book should go to someone who is trying to chase his dreams. In his unobtrusive, gentle manner, Ruskin Bond might just give him some courage!

Note - This post has been written for the Blog Adda My Oldest Book and its memories Contest in collaboration with  FriendsofBooks.com.
Friends of Books - Library that delivers and I connect with bloggers at BlogAdda.com

Nov 24, 2010

Haiku - Memories


A handful of memories
some lost dreams
like sand slipping through my fingers

Geisha Girls - Wordless Wednesday # 2

This snap was taken by me exactly 5 years back on 24th Nov 2005  in Kyoto !
 

Nov 22, 2010

Haiku - First Bud


The first bud peeking out of the frost
 like a stranger
unsure of his welcome


(This Haiku has been written for Haiku Heights. This weeks Prompt word was Stranger)

Nov 17, 2010

Autumn - Wordless Wednesday # 1




Autumn - Kyoto, Japan
 

Nov 14, 2010

Confessions of A Book Worm !

There is a tag doing the round of the blogosphere about books. I love to read and there can be nothing better to break the dry spell on this blog than to write about books. But I found the original tag rather long and tedious so I tweaked it to make my own personalized tag about the joys of reading!
So here goes -

1. What do Books mean to you?
They are as important as food and water. Hardly remember a day when I haven’t read a book even if it’s just a few pages. Once I start reading it’s as if I am transported to a magical world. They have the same restorative effect on me as music has on some others!

2. What are your Favorite Authors?
① Ruskin Bond. I have done a whole post on why I love Ruskin Bond so much. His writings are simple yet very eloquent. The power of his words lie in their very simplicity and gentle humor which I feel is much more difficult to accomplish than any complicated piece of writing.
Gerald Durrell. He is simply hilarious! I have never seen anyone have a way with words as Gerald Durrell. His flamboyant use of figurative language simply amazes me.
③ Some others that I enjoy : Shashi Tharoor, R.K Narayan, Jhumpa Lahiri, Satyajit Ray,O henry (actually the list is endless)

 3. What are your Favorite Poets?
Tagore, Harivansh Rai Bacchan, Shelley
I also love Haikus especially by Basho

 4. What are your Favorite Childhood Reads?
I once did a whole post on childhood reads. Two huge favorites were Target magazine and Amar Chitra Kathas. I think there is a whole generation out there that swears by Target and ACKs. I had a whole almirah full of them but gave them away in a fit of madness. Something I’ll never forgive myself for!
I also lapped up anything by Ruskin Bond and Enid Blyton.
Another favorite was The Borrowers series by Mary Norton.

 5. What’s your Favorite Genre?
I am not fussy about what I read. But my favorites are Fiction, humor and travel. I am not too fond of Mysteries and Suspense though.

 6. Something you can never ever bring yourself to read ?
Chic Lits and Mushy Romances like MBs. I think I am the only girl who hit puberty but still avoided MBs like they were the plague.

 7. What are you reading right now?
The Prince of Ayodhya by Ashok Banker. And loving it!

 8. What’s on your reading list next?
River Dog by Mark Shand and Difficulty of being good by Gurcharan Das

 9. Any author you would like to meet?
Ruskin Bond. Met him briefly at the Habitat center once but would give away my right arm to be able to meet him at his cottage in Landour, where he stays. 

 
10. Do you have an e-reader?
No. Cant imagine getting one! For me reading is like a whole ritual that must be enjoyed. I love the smell of paper, its crispy feel as I turn the pages and the comfort of a book in my hand.

 11. Any Books you thought you wouldn’t enjoy but got hooked to? 
   The Secret – was very skeptical before reading it but liked it.
  Twilight series – My only exception to Mushy, romantic books!

 
12. Do you read comics?
Ohh yes! I absolutely adore Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts. I have a whole collection of Peanuts. I also got into the habit of reading Mangas while in Japan.

 13. What’s your Favorite place to read?
Coffee shops and a sunlit corner of the room. But most of my reading is done on an old comfy sofa with my feet tucked under me.

14. Any funny memories associated with books?
I was once caught reading Gerald Durrell’s [Picnic and such like pandemonium] in History class at school. I was in the middle of a hilarious story and burst out laughing at something rather funny in the plot. We were studying World War 2 at that time. Everybody turned around to see what I found so funny about the Nazi Invasion !

15. Have you ever devised ways to read when you were not supposed to?
I spent half my childhood doing that! I have read books in classrooms, closeted in the loo when I was supposed to be asleep, under the quilt with a torch and by keeping a book over my textbooks!

 16. How fussy are you about your books?
Very! I lend only if I know the person well. Also God help you if you dog ear my books or if I find the book even slightly worse for wear than I lent it in!

 17. Do you have a separate library or a reading room at home?
Would love to but don’t have much space right now. At the moment my books just occupy every available inch of free space in my house. My dream is to have a nice sunny room with lots and lots of bookshelves where I can keep my books and read to my heart’s content.

 
18. What is your favorite language to read in?
English, Hindi, Japanese (in that order)

19. What makes you love a book?
Narration, how the author plays around with the words

 20. What makes you loose interest in a book?
I hate it if the plot moves along at a slow pace.
Another thing that puts me is off is Bad translation. So many times the beauty of the words is lost because the translator couldn’t get the essence of it. I noticed it several times when I read translations of Japanese literature and then the original in Japanese.

 21. Are there any particular books you turn to when feeling low?
Anything by Ruskin bond is a sure mood up-lifter. Wanderings in the Himalayas by Swami Tapovanam is also something that acts as a balm for the soul.

 22. How do you choose the books you buy?
I like to skim through books in bookshops. If I like what I read then I buy it! That’s why I hardly buy books through the net.

 23. Are there any languages you wish you could read in?
Bengali. I would love to read Tagore in the original.


24. Any favorite lines or quotes from books you’ve read ?
                                         We look before and after
                                  And pine for what is not

Our sincerest laughter with some pain is fraught
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought
                                                                      (To a Skylark by Shelly)

25. A few of your Favorite books ?
① The Lamp is Lit and The Scenes from a writer’s life By Ruskin Bond
② To Kill a Mockingbird
③ The Great Indian Novel – Shashi Tharoor
④ Corfu Trilogy (My family and other animals, Birds Beasts and Relatives and   Garden of Gods) by Gerald Durrell
⑤ Wanderings in the Himalayas – Swami Tapovanam
⑥ Gone With the wind - Margaret Mitchel
⑦ Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri
⑧ Swami and Friends – R.K Narayan

I am not tagging any one specific for this one because this is for all you book lovers out there! You can do the whole long tag or pick up any specific questions you liked. Leave the responses in my comment box or do it on your blog. But please come back to drop a link here so I can hop over and read it!

Nov 10, 2010

Why I haven’t been blogging !

If readers of this blog (If I have any left by now!) are wondering where I’ve been hiding these past few weeks, I haven’t written because I couldn’t think of anything to write. You see blogging is a not such an easy task. No Sir it isn’t. As someone very wise said once “Writing is easy; all you have to do is sit in front of your typewriter until the sweat on your brow turns to droplets of blood.”

So this is why I haven’t been blogging:

• I dipped into my well of creativity but came up with mud instead of ideas.
• Nothing interesting is happening in my life.
• Nothing interesting is happening in my neighbor/friends/colleagues lives.
• Nothing interesting is happening at work.
• Nobody tagged me :(
• Nothing has made me angry, happy, contemplative, thoughtful enough to    write.
• None of the prompt sites have any interesting prompts.
• Couldn’t find any good topics to steal surreptitiously from other blogs !
• I am still waiting to get up in just the correct creative mood in the morning.
• I am waiting till I read some brilliant posts on other blogs and I am ashamed enough of my own procrastination to do something about it.
• I am waiting for that perfectly brewed cup of coffee that I can sip while writing.
• I am off junk food/sugar this month and I am spending too much time on controlling my cravings to write anything.
• I am waiting for my toothache to go away magically (as even wild horses can’t drag me to the dentist!)
• I am waiting for the first flowers of spring so that I can be in a happier mood.

Oct 21, 2010

Haiku - Rejoice in Silence


Clicked by me at Palampur in March

As you walk in silence
through these mountains
can you hear your soul rejoice ?

Oct 20, 2010

Celebrating Navratras the traditonal way !

I celebrated Navratras in Chandigarh after a very long time and participated in a long standing Navratra Tradition of our family-of Worshipping `Sanjhi`.
Punjab has a traditional way of celebrating Maa Durgas` visit on earth. In almost all Punjabi households, a ‘Sanjhi’ or Mother Goddess is created out of cowdung and mud and then plastered on the wall. My grandmother used to make Sanjhi by moulding cow dung in the shape of figures and then painting the face to give it a life like look.My aunt has kept the tradition alive but the only difference is that she uses only mud and instead of plastering the Sanjhi on the wall she uses a huge piece of cardboard.


In the Sanjhi you see above, she has created the faces, hand and feet and the flowers out of mud and then painted them. She has used paper for the dresses!


The two flower pots with the green leaves is another tradition followed during Navratras. On the first day of Navratras, seeds (usually Barley) are sown and then watered every day. This signifies prosperity and good luck. Almost every festival in Punjab is linked to farming. Usually the farmers start sowing seeds for wheat and other pulses after Dusshera and sowing of these barley seeds is actually a prayer to the Goddess for a good crop.
It is believed that Maa Durga comes down to earth to visit her parents during Navratras and returns on Dusshera. Usually the sanjhi is taken off the wall and immersed in a river on that day.(Similar to Durga Pooja). The barley has grown a few inches by then and is plucked and given to brothers by sisters. This signifies continuous prosperity and happiness in the family.

Oct 13, 2010

Yes I am Single. So?


Marriage! That all important thing in a woman’s life! Something that gets even more importance in our society than other trivial matters such as education and women’s rights! Our social mindset is such that an Indian woman is only considered to be a “complete woman” if she has a mangalsutra around her neck and a baby on her lap. As someone who is single, I am constantly being told how essential marriage is for a happy, secure and stable life. It’s a social norm that must be followed; my “well wishers” inform me earnestly. Honestly, I really can’t seem to understand this point of view.
Marriage according to me is a conscious decision to spend your life with someone you truly love and want to be around the rest of your life. What does it have to do with a woman’s security and social acceptance? The general arguement is that a woman needs someone in her life to “Take Care” of her. Are we trying to imply that the modern Indian woman is not capable of taking the major decisions in her life and looking after her own needs? As for the majority of women is this country who are not financially independent, isn’t it a better idea to empower and educate them so that they become self reliant instead of just marrying them off to someone so that they are “looked after” for the rest of their lives. And how many times does it work? Haven’t we all seen umpteen examples when a woman is ill-treated by her husband and left to fend for herself? Usually women don’t even have the courage to walk out of an abusive marriage because they are afraid of the social stigma.
What we need to do is change the mindset of the society. We need to stop treating a woman as a “Responsibility” or a “burden” and treat her as an individual with the freedom to live her life as she wants. We need to acknowledge and support a woman’s right to fight against an abusive marriage instead of telling her to quietly accept her lot.The Problem is, a woman’s hopes and aspirations don’t stand much of a chance in our male dominated society. Indian woman is supposed to be the epitome of sacrifice – She is told that she must compromise her own happiness and desires for the good of her family. Yes, there is a little give and take in every relationship. We make adjustments and sacrifices for the people we love – be it friends, family or siblings. But do we really need to submerge our own identity to get the so called fulfillment and social acceptance that marriage offers? My question is - is marriage the only thing a woman can derive happiness and contentment from? Isn’t the freedom to follow our dreams and aspirations and live our life the way we want enough to make us happy? Wouldn’t a woman who hasn’t found the man of her choice, be happier living alone, doing what she wants, instead of getting stuck in a marriage where she lives a stifled existence. Tell me wouldn’t you rather be in the driving seat of your own life rather than let your life be driven by someone else where you wouldn’t even have half a chance of back seat driving ! Some of us are lucky enough to live life on our own terms. But we are a minority, and even if our family is perfectly all right with us being single, society is definitely not.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not against the institution of marriage. A marriage between two people who truly care for and understand each other, is a real blessing. What I am trying to say is don’t make marriage a social compulsion, something we are obliged to do even if we are not happy doing it. Let a woman make her own choices, let her decide if she wants to stay single or get married and give her the right to walk out of an abusive or unhappy marriage without making it a social stigma.

edited to add: This post is one of  the winners of the Tejaswee Rao Blogging Awards - 2011

Oct 12, 2010

55 Fiction at Ginger Chai !

Ginger Chai has published a 55 fiction that I have written.
It can be read here
Thanks a lot Ginger Chai !

Oct 8, 2010

Autumn Leaves - Haiku



Autumn leaves flutter down
 like tired souls
at the end of their lives


(Visit Magpietales to get a picture prompt each week)

 

And History repeats itself !

A year back I had written about the travails of travelling by the office cab. Well a lot has happened in that one year. The management finally god fed up of our constant badgering about the downtrodden cab and we got a swanky new cab. Then unfortunately two of my cab mates who had become very good friends changed jobs and the cab journey lost most of its fun. Even more unfortunately three new people joined the cab who I can only describe as The Whiner, The Foren Return and Mr. Punctuality Personified. The whiner whines about everything. She whines when the cab is early, whines when it is late, whines when she has to sit in the front (AC too strong) whines when she has to sit at the back (too bumpy). Mr Foren Return on the other hand has spent four years in Australia and deems that land to be fit only for gods. If the Australian government wishes to redeem its image after the recent racist attacks on Indians, all it has to do is get this guy to act as their PR agent. Every day we endure a new installment on how great Australian infrastructure is, how everyone follows traffic rules and the roads are so clean that `you can eat off them mate`. Mr Punctuality Personified on the other hand is obsessed about reaching office on time. His is the last stop and god forbid if we reach there even a minute late. We are harangued by phone calls asking us where we are, how many minutes it will take us and do we not realize that he can’t afford to waste office time standing on a bus stop.
Any how I digress. What does all this have to do with history repeating itself ? Because today, exactly a year after I wrote this, our cab broke down on exactly the same spot as it had last year on this day. You see, our cab owner went home for navratras and took his swanky new cab with him. The replacement Indica was so decrepit and rickety that even Ratan Tata wouldn’t be seen dead in it. So today morning, I sat in the cab squashed between the whiner and the foren return listening to the whiner complaining about lack of space and the Foren Return pontificating about the spacious cabs in the land down under. Then the unthinkable happened. While the cab was bravely wheezing its way up the Ashram flyover, the engine coughed once, twice and then gave up on its valiant effort to climb the flyover. A policeman already harassed by the rush hour traffic made his way to our cab, extremely irritated by this addition to his work load. He beat his Stick on the bonnet and said arre jaldi hatao kitna jam laga diya. Our driver spewed a stream of paan on the road, swore volubly in haryanavi and asked us get down and push. Now we all reacted in typical fashion –
Whiner – Oh god how can I push, so much traffic , its so hot ……..
Foren Return – (while hardly making any attempts to push) this would never happen in Australia you know. A cab would never break down there man …. Such good traffic man ….
Punctuality Personified – How much time will this take. I really can’t waste time stranded here………..
The cab driver realizing how useless we were in the situation, spotted a few workers on CWG duty and cajoled them to push. Thankfully the car started after a few pushes and we reached office very late and thoroughly irritated.

(8th Oct 2011 – Dare I even think about it! )


Sep 21, 2010

Simply Coffeelicious !



There is a café in Tokyo that I used to haunt. You have to drink their coffee to believe the flavour and the cheesecakes there are simply to die for. You would find me there every weekend, enjoying their coffee or simply spending time reading or working.
Today, sitting in Delhi, thousands of miles from Tokyo, I suddenly thought about that cafe. I felt as if I was sitting there, in that soft-cushiony red sofa by the wall with a cup of cappuccino in front of me. I could actually smell the coffee, feel the mist swirling up from the cup and the rich dark aroma of that heavenly brew tantalizing my taste buds. I could see the chocolaty-brown froth delicately balanced on the top. I almost saw my self digging a spoon in the slice of moist, creamy-rich cheesecake and feel it melting in my mouth.
My taste buds are all a-tingle now and suddenly all I want is a cup of that coffee.
Ever Happened to you?

Sep 17, 2010

55 Fiction- The Circle of Life

The old man walked slowly, laboriously; oblivious of the kids around him. Pausing for breath, he watched the brown leaves fluttering down, like tired souls at the end of their lives. Nearby, the freshly planted saplings swayed with the breeze, puny but showing promise of growth. The kids played on, full of vitality and life.

Photo clicked by me in Japan - Nov 2005

Sep 13, 2010

55 Fiction - Triumph






He ran furiously, blood thundering in his ears, each breath searing his lungs, every fiber of his being focused on the target;painted an ominous yellow and blue. A last burst of adrenaline; he lunged forward, grabbing the handle by his hand. Triumph! He had managed to catch the last bus home.

Sep 10, 2010

Confessions of a Compulsive List Maker

I have a confession to make. I am addicted to making lists. Actually if compulsive list making was a type of OCD, I would be in a padded cell by now. Every morning when most of mankind is groping for their morning cuppa my fingers are itching not towards my cup of coffee but for a pen and paper. I don’t rest in peace till I have written down a list of everything I want to accomplish through the day. It’s not caffeine that gives me my morning kick but making lists.
I have a separate list for everything – grocery shopping, clothes shopping, things I need to clean and sort, books I want to read, cuisines I want to try, places I want to visit, favorite websites. I even have a list of topics I want to blog about. My computer at work has a Post-It with a list for tasks I need to accomplish that day or week. I can face any situation in life provided I have a list ready. At the doctors’ clinic, I am known to whip out a list and ask questions from it much to the doctor’s amusement. I even make lists about what to pack whenever I travel. Once for a cousins wedding, I made a list of what to wear when, and which accessory to wear with which dress. Before meeting a close friend or family member I make a list of things I absolutely must tell them about. For those wondering, yes my memory is in absolute tip top condition thank you. Give me any memory test and I will pass with flying colors ! Its just that whenever you meet someone after a long time you get so carried away that you might forget to mention a few important things that happened in their absence.
And I am a master organizer of these lists. The items in my shopping lists are categorized according to each shop I will visit or sometimes even down to the items in the same aisle getting listed together. I have been known to berate shop attendants when they change the way things are placed on their shelves because it just about ruins my whole list!
Send me shopping without a list and it’s very probable that I will come back with a lot of things that I don’t need and nothing of what I need. If you want me to do something for you, better make me write it down! Important things in my lists are double underlined and have arrows pointing towards them.
You can never make me take a decision unless I have listed down every pros and cons of the issue. My friends are so exasperated with me that they think I need to join a List Makers Anonymous to cure myself of this malady. I rather think it’s a neat habit. And anyway I got it from my mother. She is an obsessive list maker and she got me hooked to it when I was really young. Mom says she got it from her dad. So if anything is to be blamed its heredity. But I am sure I am not alone in this. I am sure most of you make such lists too. Don’t you? Umm you DO Don’t You !
Oh Well I guess I better write down “Find List Makers Anonymous” on my list and double underline it !




Aug 25, 2010

Meeting Just the Mother of Two !

Some friendships are forged in childhood, friends you grow up with and who are a part of all your childhood escapades. Some friends are made in college and the predominant memories with these friends are of classes bunked together, movies seen, last minute cramming before exams and hostel days. Some friends are ‘Travel’ friends who are only remembered when you need to take off on yet another backpacking adventure. Some friendships are simply convenience friendships with people you have tea or lunch with at work. These people are conveniently forgotten once you change your job.
Then there is a special breed of friends called 'Blog Friends'. Friends whom you meet through their blogs, start off by commenting on their posts, move on to exchanging e mails and messages and gradually a friendship develops. They become a part of your life and you feel happy in their happiness and concerned when their messages and blog posts are less than cheerful. But these friendships feel slightly tinged with the unreal. You’ve never met these people in real life and your image of them is based solely on blogs read and mails exchanged. But when these virtual friends and their families step out of the blog pages and you actually get to meet them the experience is like magic !
This is what happened when I met Preeti Shenoy of Just a mother of two, her husband Satish and their two very adorable kids Purvi and Atul. She was in Delhi from UK on a whirlwind trip and was sweet enough to squeeze out time to meet me. After innumerable discussions about where to meet and a lot of tearing out of hair due to Delhi’s notorious traffic jams we finally managed to get together.
To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive about the meeting. I am not an extrovert by nature and tend to get choosy about making friends. But as it turned out, I was worried over nothing! Preeti is such a warm and genuine person and it was so easy to talk to her. The awkwardness that’s usually there when you meet a person for the first time was totally missing. We connected immediately, conversation flowed effortlessly from topic to topic and off course about the two things closest to our hearts; blogging and writing ! Time simply flew past while I was with her. The saying ‘Life’s finest moments are those that you spend in the company of friends’ describes our meeting to the T !”
I had been quite skeptical about virtual friendships before but now I feel that they are real – sometimes even more real and enriching than our other friendships !

Jul 27, 2010

My Dream Job - Lost in Translation !

[Edited to Add - This post is a winner in the BlogAdda `My Dream Job` Contest. Thanks a lot BlogAdda !]

This post is my entry for the Blog Adda Dream Job contest, sponsored by Pringoo.

Dream Job ! Ah that elusive thing which we all yearn for but rarely get !

Since childhood I've had two passions, Languages and Creative Writing. I love learning languages, love to understand their mysterious intricacies and how to use them. I have been learning languages since childhood and have even made Japanese, a foreign language my profession. Now, after a Masters in that language I am doing something that is not even remotely similar to what I had ever visualized doing. I work in the IT industry, a non techie sticking out like a sore thumb amongst all those technically savvy people!. When I started learning the language, I had visions of myself wearing ethnic clothes from Fab India, doing literary translations and discussing Japanese art and literature over coffee. The only thing that has come true is that I wear ethnic clothes! Instead of doing literary translations I translate technical specifications and instead of discussing literature over coffee I spend my time with the so called techie nerds who think Yasunari Kawabata is not worth knowing because he didn’t write an idiots guide to Java programming !
My Dream job, my absolute I would die for it sort of dream job combines both languages and creative writing. I would love to make a living out of literary translation. Literary translation is translating works of literature from one language into another. The art of translation, especially translating literature is a difficult one. You need to take care of both the lingual and cultural nuances in such a way that the reader feels he is reading the original and not a translation. I love the challenge of finding the exact words that would convey not the dictionary meaning but the real essence and spirit behind what the writer wants to say. To be able to translate well you need to have not only a flair for words but also a creative bent of mind.
I don’t yearn for success or great accolades in literary circles.I just want to write, to translate simply for the love of the language, because I love to dabble with words, to play with them and use their magic the way I want!
And while I am it, I would like to enjoy my work, do it at my own pace, without the corporate worlds' stress for deadlines. I want enough time to enjoy that sunset, to take leisurely walks, to take out time for the simple pleasures of life!

While describing his life as a writer in his Book 'The India I love' Ruskin Bond has written 'Here I am, doing my own thing, in my own time and in my own way. What more can I ask of Life?'

Indeed what more can one ask from Life !

Mood Uplifters ! Day 7

Today is the last day of the Positivity Experiment. When I Started off with it, I thought it would be difficult to find five Mood Uplifters everyday. But surprisingly it hasn’t been that tough. Over the last few days I have realized that its simply all about attitude.If you WANT to feel positive and Happy, even small things will make you happy, but if you are bent upon being miserable and complaining about things; nothing will make you happy. This experiment gave me an entirely new perspective about life. I learnt to count my blessings and realized that all I have to do is shift my focus from the negative to the positive to realize how enriching and happy my life actually is !

Here are my five Mood Uplifters for today:
1)We`ve had lovely weather since morning. Its been raining off and on but instead of becoming humid, the weather is very refreshing and cool.Just like a hill station ! Delhi summers have suddenly become very pleasant !

2)I played Mastermind today after a long time. I love this game and have been playing it since I was a kid. And guess what I won !

3)I had Bhutta (corn on the cob) in the evening. After Pakoras, that’s my second favorite thing to eat in the monsoons !

4)Discovered two very well written blogs that I think I would like to read on a regular basis.

5)We have a sort of community pet. A cat who lives around the park. She just had kittens, and those furry little things are one of the most adorable creatures I have seen in a long time. I spent a lot of time watching them frolick about and learn how to climb a small tree. The smallest kitten of them all, managed to climb up looked down with what I imagined was a triumphant look, then promptly lost its footing and came tumbling down. It was hilarious to watch !


Although this is my last post on the 7 Days of Positivity experiment, we are keeping the magic alive here. Please do join us !
I wish you all a life time of positivity and Good thoughts. Stay Happy and -

Jul 26, 2010

Mood Uplifters Day 6 !

A long time back, I was working with a senior on a stress full and rather difficult (for me) project. As a newbie I was very nervous and looked at the gloomy side of things pretty often. My senior would constantly try to cheer me up and tell me to think of the experience I was gaining rather than how tough it was for me.One day,after he had endured my whining for a long time, he looked up at me and asked `what’s your blood group?` (He knew what my blood group was). `Surely you now that ! Its B +ve `I replied. `So why don’t you BE Positive then! `was his response. Great lesson there and one that I have never forgotten.

Here are my five Mood Uplifters for the Day:

1)I had a lot of 「Me Time」 this morning. No one was at home and I could write, plan, think and work undisturbed. I really cherish whatever moments I get by myself, especially early in the morning.

2)I had a long talk with my mother and discussed something that had been troubling me for a long time. Felt much happier after talking to her.

3) While surfing channels Discovered Chupke Chupke coming somewhere quite by accident. I was thrilled ! Its my all time favourite movie. I can see it again and again without getting bored !

4) Played with a very adorable girl with the beautiful name of Mrinali today. She is all of two years and she’s like a burst of sunshine !

5) Kishore Kumar songs – All day long. Need I say more !

Good Night and whatever your Blood Group may be, always remember to - Be Positive !


(Image courtsey http://www.theeqsite.co.za)

Jul 25, 2010

Mood Uplifters! Day 5

In continuation with the positivity experiment,here are my 5 Mood Uplifters for the day !

1) One of my aunts has been staying with us for the last two months and I have truly had the most memorable time with her.She is my fathers' sister, he's got four, but I am extremely close to this one. She has an amazing ability to get along with all age groups and that gets her the Most Popular aunt award from everyone in my generation! But we both share a special affinity that goes beyond the usual aunt – niece relationship. We are like kindred souls. We understand each other perfectly and are comrades in arms in most of my activities especially travelling. I remember how we had gone to Ajanta Ellora with a group of girls we had never met before and how quickly she had become everyone's favourite though they were at least half her age ! She is an incredibly positive person and is always spreading her sunshine around !
I am truly grateful and thankful that god has put her in my life and for the special bond we share. She is going back to Chandigarh tomorrow and she will be sourly missed !




2) I am grateful for my love for languages and my ability to learn them quickly. Someone I met today was very surprised that I know 2 foreign languages and a few Indian ones. Learning languages has always been a passion and it comes very naturally to me. My dream now is to learn Bengali. I think it’s a very sweet language and I would like to read Tagore in the original !

3) I am truly grateful that I discovered the magic of blogging. I love to write and have also got published as a kid. Blogging is a fantastic medium for me to express my creativity. I have also come across some very interesting blogs and made some great friends too ! I now wonder how I managed to live without blogging !

4) A friend pinged me today and told me that she had read two books in three weeks. Now this is one person who never ever reads - something that is a sin in the eyes of a book lover like me ! I have tried hard to get her to enjoy books but without any success
. So the fact that she had started reading made me really happy ! In jest I asked her if I could make this one of my happy points and she said why not ! so here it is !

5) We spent a lot of quality family time together today. We did the usual stuff like sitting around talking and watching a good music show on TV but it was fun. I am always thankful for the time we spend together as a family because most of the time we are scattered in different cities !


So these were the five things that made me happy today! Hope you have a Happy Day too !

Jul 24, 2010

Mood Uplifters ! Day 4

Today is day 4 of the Positivity experiment and I am pleasantly surprised at how quickly it has spread! I have been getting so many mails and messages from friends about how interesting they find this experiment and how they are using it to turn around their lives! It was just started on a whim but now we have so many people joining in and telling us how happy it is making them. The response was so overwhelming that Preeti has started this facebook Group so that the positivity can continue to flow even after 7 days !
Do join in and spread the positivity around by sharing with us the five things that made you happy !

(To those of you who are reading my blog for the first time, the 7 days of Positivity initiative was conceived by Preeti Shenoy over at Just a Mother of Two. It’s a wonderful concept where we blog about 5 things that we are grateful and thankful for every day. The idea is to focus on the happy and positive things in our lives and not on the negative.

(Please read my previous posts to understand how it works !)

So here are my 5 Mood uplifters for the day!
1) A very good friend whom I had been badgering to read my blog for a long time finally started reading it regularly because she was intrigued by the Mood Up-Lifters posts that I have been doing! She also wrote me a lovely message telling me how much she enjoyed my writing and that quite made my day !

2)I love listening to Yanni and had bought a lot his cds many years back. I had forgotten about them but came across them today while looking for something entirely different. I spent an happy hour or so listening to them and rediscovering the magic of Yanni !

3) During lunch at home we ended up discussing how delicious my grandma’s mango chutney was and how much we miss it (she is no longer with us). This made me take a trip down memory lane and remember the summer holidays at my grandparents. My happiest memories are of the time spent with them so remembering those days really made me happy !

4) We made bhelpuri at home today. crunchy, tangy and very spicy. Just the way I like it !

5) I needed to read and sort out a few important papers. A boring task that I had been putting off for a very long time. Finally tackled it today. I’m glad I finished it !.

My list for today is made of very simple and mundane things. But that’s the idea isn’t it – to enjoy and be happy about even the simplest things in life !



Jul 23, 2010

Mood Uplifters ! Day 3

Today has been one of those days when you want to crawl back in bed, pull up the covers and wish for the day to start afresh ! I got up with a severe neck pain because of which I couldn’t sit at my Laptop or do much reading. Since I cant move about much not being able to do even these two activities made me real mad and (I am ashamed to say!) feel rather sorry for myself.Then I remembered about Preeti’s 7 Days of Positivity experiment that I am doing. Surprisingly that made me even madder because suddenly I was in no mood to look for any positivity. But as the day progressed, I forced myself to deliberately think of things that would make me happy.

So here are my 5 mood uplifters of the day:

1)I just need to sit at my dining table or stand at the front door to look out on a beautiful park with hundreds of trees and plants. Although there aren’t many flowers in this season, It’s a beautiful eye dazzling green. Being a big nature lover, I am very grateful for this park.

2)There are a few birds which come to our verandah every day to eat the bird-seed and drink the water we keep for them. There’s this particular pair that came in today and all their antics and hopping around really made me laugh.I tried to click their snap but they flew off every time I went near.

3) My cousin smsed me a joke today. It made me instantly laugh out loud and I in turn sent it to my friends and received a lot of smiles in return!

4) Realization that although I am going through a lean phase health wise, I am still better off than so many people. Today I felt that I am slowly and surely mending and I should be grateful that my illness didn’t turn out to be as debilitating or threatening as it could have been. And I am really thankful for that !

5) I feel very grateful to my Dad, Mom and my aunt. We should always be thankful for our family but lately I have been going through the usual mood swings that come when someone usually very active is confined indoors for a long time. They have been extremely supportive and simply wonderful at cheering me up and also tolerating my temper tantrums !

I woke up in a foul mood today but as I slowly started looking at the positives in my life, my mood drastically improved. We all have our ups and downs and life is not always the way we want it to be, but the most important thing is to always –

Jul 22, 2010

Mood Uplifters ! Day 2

In continuation of yesterdays post, Here are my 5 mood –uplifters for the day :

1)I discovered 2 of my long lost cousins on facebook and it was simply great reconnecting with them and going through their snaps (One lives in Nairobi and the other in California and I haven’t seen them for at least 15 years !)

2)I had written a report in Japanese for our parent company in Japan. Today I got a mail from them appreciating the effort I had put in. They said that my command over the language was incredible (thats the word they used!) and I wrote like a native Japanese! That sure made my day!

3)I have been unwell lately and am not allowed to move about much. (am working from home). My aunt came to visit me today, bringing with her lots of cheer and good wishes. Along with that she also brought a lot of food – sweets,kachoris,dhokla, chocolates, fruits; enough to feed an army! (Yeah she is one those who feel that feeding people till they pop is the only way of showing your love :-))


4)I have a lot of books and they were all piled or stocked rather haphazardly on the book shelves and my desk. I tidied up the shelves and the new arrangement of books look neat and gives me much more space ! I get extremely irritated if my surroundings are cluttered so this felt really good !

5) Today I went to the neighborhood park after ages. I didn’t walk about much but being out in the open after spending such a long time indoors made me absolutely deliriously happy ! It was like flying after being trapped in a cage!

So I have celebrated a lot of little things that have made me happy today. Have you!

Jul 21, 2010

Mood Uplifters ! - Day 1

Preeti of Just a mother of two has a penchant for thinking up very motivating and interesting stuff on her blog. She is doing a 7 days of positivity experiment right now where you are supposed to write 5 things that you are thankful or grateful for every day for a week.
I think Positive thinking is a very important ingredient for a happy life and as I have also mentioned
here, we are really and truly made up of our thoughts and if we think positive, positive things will happen to us.

So here are the 5 things I am thankful/grateful for today :

1) I got three books I have been wanting to read for a long time from a newly opened lending library very close to where I live. Actually you can only take out one book at a time, but the young owner turned out to be a great book lover and we instantly connected – talking about various authors and books for over half an hour. As a result he told me I could take out as many books as I wanted in one go :-)

2) A Phone call from a very dear friend. She has a great ability to make you laugh and see some positivity and humour even in a seemingly hopeless situation. Talking to her was a instant pick me up !

3) Rain glorious rain! It rained like crazy today and yesterday – There is a cool breeze blowing and everything is a fresh emerald green !

4) Pakoras and Chai in the evening– They go hand and hand with the rains (need I say more !)

5) And last but not the least – It is my brothers Birthday today. He lives very far, in Canada but we celebrated his birthday in Delhi by having both Halwa and Kheer (Slurrp!!) I am very very thankful for his love and grateful that God has put such a wonderful person in my life !

There ! that was a great mood uplifter ! Try it, its loads of fun :-)


Jun 30, 2010

Back with a bang - and a new Tag !

This blog has remained untouched for a long time now. I need to bring it out of hibernation, to shake it by the scruff of it neck and make sure something creative falls out on those blank pages! I have been away from the blog world for quite a while, actually I have been away from the outside world for quite a while; trying to recuperate from a sudden illness that laid me flat on my back for more than 8 weeks. While reading Preeti’s blog yesterday (she had very wisely decided to do a blog marathon while I was away, leaving me with hundreds of unread posts to catch up on !) I came across this tag and what better way to break the jinx of not blogging by starting off with a tag from her!
So here goes …
1. What curse word do you use the most?

Sh*t

2. Do you own an iPod?
Used to till last December, till I lost it at the Bangkok airport !

3. What person do you talk to on the phone the most?

My Mom

4. Do you still remember the first person you kissed?
yup, I sure do !

5. Do you remember where you were on 11/9/01?
Yes, In Delhi, doing a job I loved and surrounded by the most wonderful friends! On that day we were worried sick about some friends who we knew worked near WTC.

6. What was the last movie you watched?

Wake up Sid (on TV)

7. Has anyone ever called you lazy?

No

8. Do you ever take medication to help you fall asleep?

No, recently I had wanted to once or twice, when the pain got too bad but always managed to convince myself I shouldn’t !

9. Has anyone told you a secret this week?
Yup.. And a nice secret it was !

10. What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?

The way a person dresses and carries himself

11. What are you looking forward to?

Ohh lots - An illness free spell, going for walks,getting back to writing, Monsoons, rejoining office, driving again, going for the long overdue haircut,being able to travel again (actually it’s when you lose these everyday mundane things that u realize how much they mean!)

12. Do you own any band t-shirts?

hmm..No

13. What will you be doing in one hour?

Sleeping, I guess !

14. Is anyone in love with you?

yup, loads of people (I hope!)

15. Last time you cried?

Last week. Was so frustrated on being cooped up in the house that I cried)

16. Are you on a desktop computer or a laptop?

Laptop – HP

17. Are you currently wanting any piercings or tattoos?

No. Not my thing

18. Would you ever date anyone covered in tattoos?

yew .....No !

19. What were you doing before this?

Eating a mango

20. When is the last time you slept on the floor?

Last year in Japan. My apt was totally Japanese style with every thing floor level.

21. How many hours of sleep do you need to function?

7-8. I am like a zombie if I get les that 7.

22. Do you eat breakfast daily?
Yup, this is one meal I never ever miss.


And I tag ...you !
 

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