100 Days of Blogging

#25 : Day Eight : My teeny-tiny bucket list

Not exactly the type to wish for something long term. So here is my teeny-tiny bucket list of things I want to do by next year October

  1. Learn to ride a geared bike.
  2. Finish off Neil Gaiman’s collection of short stories – Trigger Warning.
  3. Bake a red velvet cake with icing.
  4. Learn to do make up properly.
  5. Visit West Bengal/Kolkata during Pujo (Durga Puja).
  6. Make a crying child stop crying.
  7. Get a new haircut.
  8. Spend a day all alone by myself.
  9. Spend time with an old stranger listening to their story.
  10. Compliment one person from the opposite gender and one from the same gender.

WHY?

I almost learnt to ride a geared bike back when I lived in Tirunelveli, but life had other plans.

Neil Gaiman’s book – I truly loved the stories I read but after a point I couldn’t just read that book. His narration and language is too beautiful for me to stop reading the book midway.

I have a fascination for red velvet cakes and nothing like witnessing your cake rise perfectly.

Make up and me – *Sigh* I never bothered to learn how to do proper make up. Dab that cream, spread that powder and la, I’m done decking up for that wedding. That’s how it has always been.

The “Visit Kolkata during Durga Puja” has been on my wish list for ages now. I first witnessed a toned down version of Durga Puja when I was in class 9 at the Madras Kali Bari which is run by people from Bengal. Since then, I’ve wanted to visit the original celebration.

It breaks my heart to see a child crying. I’m never good or popular with kids.

I hate my hair. Period.

Freedom is a precious thing. It feels good to be surrounded by people whom I love and who love me back, but I wonder how would it feel to spend the day all alone.

I’ve grown up listening to my grandparents narrating stories, their own life stories. That feel of a different era is unmatched. Wonder what other people have to tell.

It feels great to receive genuine compliments, just passing on happiness.

100 Days of Blogging

#24 : Day Seven : Chilika Lake

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It’s been a week since I started this a blog post a day for 100 days – 100 days of blogging challenge. Today, I decided to take the photography route. The above picture was shot by me using my Samsung Galaxy Grand phone. No lens can ever capture the beauty of this place – The Chilika lake. I spent 4 hours on this very boat with a rower who didn’t speak a word of English or Hindi. It was fun communicating using sign language.

We spotted migratory birds and dolphins, living happily in their own environment. There was a patch of land in a part of the lake beyond where the lake mingled with the sea. The color difference was so prominent yet so beautiful. The sunset was the highlight of the trip. Life at that moment felt so peaceful without the buzzing and whirring of technology.

We drove down to Chilika lake from Bhubaneswar which took us about 3 hours. There are trains available but we choose to drive down to experience Odisha.

100 Days of Blogging

#23 : Day Six – Cigarette

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This was a nano tale I wrote few months ago just after witnessing a boy all of 10 years  old smoke. It was during my trip back home when I saw a little boy, tousled hair wearing clothes too big for him sitting on a bicycle smoking away. It was after 7pm and that area was dark  as the canopy of a well grown tree shaded the light from the nearest lamp post. He was alone but the place has enough human movement. People gave him disgusted looks before moving on. However, no one bothered to go talk some sense into him.

It crushed my heart and I walked towards him to have a little chat. As I approached he stared at me but was unperturbed and smoked away. I said Hi and started talking about why he shouldn’t smoke. He still kept smoking turning a deaf ear to my advice. When I finished, he asked me to mind my own business. My heart skipped a beat at the intensity with which he said that. I found it prudent to listen to him and back off.That incident numbed me in a way.

100 Days of Blogging

#22 : Day Five – Mansplaining

The Oxford dictionary defines Mansplaining as (of a man) explaining (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing. I’d rather call it just another way by which a man satiates his egos and swallows his insecurity. Having worked in a male dominated industry for a good four years now, I have been at constantly at the receiving end of a man’s insecurity and I know what it feels like.

There was this pre-sales workshop which I was tasked to attend. There were just 3 participants, and I was the only female. The instructor made it a point to quote examples of cooking only and kept interrupting me every single time I was trying to convey a suggestion or some technical point. That was nothing short of blatant sexism. I decided to take matters in hand and had a little chat with him during the recess.  I made it clear that I don’t like to be interrupted and can comprehend the subject just like my male colleagues. After all, I do have a degree and a medal in the subject in question. Things were much better after that. Today, after the US presidential debate, it was a happy consolation for me when Hilary Clinton faced the same situation yet kept her calm only to prove Trump wrong piece by piece. Obviously, politics is after all a male dominated field. She surely must have adapted herself to all that mansplaining.

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It is a common notion and a rather foolish misconception that women are incapable of comprehending subjects like economics,engineering or developmental policies. If they had their way, men would even interrupt a woman and explain about childbirth in a supposedly correct manner and pretend they know better than women. It doesn’t really matter if the woman has a PhD in the subject of discussion, she is a woman therefore she can be interrupted and can be “schooled” or “educated” by a man.

What begins as a simple interruption eventually would lead to the ultimate act of domination – violence. What starts as harmless interruptions will one fine day transcend and morph into a mindset of not respecting a woman. Isn’t it wise to listen and then be the judge of one’s depth of knowledge? Silencing a woman or for that matter, even a man and preventing them from expressing themselves is a clear act of violation of fundamental human rights. In case of a man, silencing is the maximum that happens. Has there been any incident reported where a man beats up a person of his own gender because he didn’t listen? That is clearly not the case with women. Haven’t we read about women being abused for even talking?

It is imprudent to assume that women are dumb and cannot match a man’s assimilation skills when it comes to areas which are dominated by men. We are qualified just as a man of our level is. It is just that we aren’t the types to prove the depth of our knowledge and feed our insecurities by ‘womansplaining’.

100 Days of Blogging

#21 : Day Four : Rage and Heart-Break

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A couple of weeks ago, I was reading this book – The Sentimental Terrorist by Rajesh Talwar. The book is set in Afghanistan and intricately depicts the culture and state of affairs of that country.The narration about the state of women shocked me to bones. Women virtually were living a cursed life akin to that of a vermin. Since a young age, world politics has always held my interest. Back then, I recollect devouring factual articles about Taliban’s atrocities in the name of religion. However, none of these articles managed to capture pure sadness and anguish. Today, all those articles and reports seem like  a mere  piece of paper inked with black die in a certain pattern. I stumbled upon a poem while reading that book and looking up on facts from the book. Emotions hit me like tornado. There are words which could kill if strung properly and there are words strung like from this poem which drives a twisted rusted knife into the very core of your heart, leaving you feeling helpless, sad and angry at the injustices of the world. It took me a while to recover from the emotional turmoil the poem had wrecked. The blatant injustice that was confined to one country has become widespread now. This poem was written 18 years ago, yet every woman can relate and connect with it. The world, sadly hasn’t become a better place at all.

This poem – “Look into My world” is authored by Zeiba Shorish-Shamley and was featured in the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights covenant. She dedicated the poem to fellow women from Afghanistan. Women have cribbed and cried enough about the general state of affairs of women. All that said and done, why is that the balance has never tilted? Is it too much to treat a person from the opposite gender as equal? Does religion give the power to harm a fellow human being?

The poem – Look Into My world.

They made me a prisoner in shackles and in chains
Do you know of my guilt? Do you know of my sins?
These ignorant savages, who cannot see the light
Keep beating me oppressing me, to show their might

They made me invisible, shrouded and non-being
A shadow, no existence, made silent and unseeing
Denied of freedom, confined to my cage
Tell me how to handle my anger and my rage?

They destroyed my country and sold it to invader
They massacred my people, my sisters and my mater
My children are dying, they murdered my own father
They killed all my brothers, without a thought or bother

The reign they impose, dictates hate and fury
It butchers child and elders, no judge, defense or jury
It bans art and artists, punish poets and writers
It sells drugs and armors, nurtures terrorist fighters

In destitute and misery, I hang to this life
I keep on trying to hold down the strife
Can you give me an answer? Do you know of my choice?
Am I the source of evil? Can you hear my voice?

Is this my religion? Is this the way of culture?
Do I deserve this fortune to be pray to vulture?
Pain is so intense, should I end this life?
Taking a cup of poison? Pierce the heart with knife?

My horrific persecution, is based on my gender
Forced marriage, prostitution, my sell by offender
Seeking the way to redress, finding cruel injustice
Caught in the vicious circle, win peace? and win justice?

Seized in the web of horror. despair, fear, starkness
Lost in the world terror, death is near and darkness
World is beset in deafness, silent, cold and dormant
No one hears my laments, no one shares my torment

Listen to the typhoon’s roar, it signifies my wailing
Look at the rains of hurricane, my tears with no railing
The rage of volcano, declares my screams
The wrath of tornado, views of my dreams

Hear me, feel my pain, you must share my sorrows
It could be you in chains, if not today, tomorrow
Join me in resistance, with no stop or pause
We can defeat this evil, be victors of my cause

This rule cannot detain me, I will defy and fight
To reach the dawn of freedom, I seek the justice light
I will crush these masters, I will burn this jail
I will tear these walls, in this accursed hell!

 

100 Days of Blogging

#20 : Day three : The Madley Market

Jarring sound of  blaring loudspeakers from the nearby railway station  welcomes one to the  Madley market or the famous T.Nagar vegetable market. Mixed aroma of fresh sugarcane juice, chaat items, piping hot coffee and delicious softy ice-cream combined with the raw smell of various vegetables and fruits assaults the olfactory. On a typical weekend, that aroma is marred by disgusting stench from humans, thanks to the insane crowd.

The vegetables and fruits are fresh in the evening. The market is normally stocked in the afternoon I suppose. The prices are reasonable and the weight is pretty accurate too. The market is very accessible. It is located right next to the Mambalam railway station and is of a walk-able distance from the T.Nagar bus stand. The famous or the rather infamous shopping hub – Ranganathan street – is situated right next to market.

My oldest memory of stepping into this market was back in 2000, when we first shifted to Mambalam. The sight and the smell was maddening for a little girl who had grown up in a relatively calmer area – Besant Nagar but, thanks to weekly trips, this place grew on me. It’s been 16 years since I first steeped into that area, a lot has changed. Modernization has taken over, inflation has increased, the prices have gone up, but one thing remains the same – the maddening crowd and the warm sellers. Until next week!

100 Days of Blogging

#19 : Day Two – My Work-in-Progress Story

Day two of hundred days. I wanted to share something close to my heart. I started writing this on January 1st 2016. I had a plot, logical with solid characters. I started writing with gusto, completed 6 chapters until it all fizzled out. I have no idea why that happened. I stopped writing. Today, when I chanced upon this, stashed away in an ignored corner of my laptop. I re-read it and wondered why I didn’t continue. So here is an excerpt from chapter one.

kingSri Chamarajendra Wadiyar X – By Raja Ravi Verma – An intriguing work of art which caught my eye.  

Chapter – One :

The moon shined on casting an eerie glow on the forest. It was a full moon day. Trees stood still as though they had been commanded to do so. Owls hooted and wolfs howled joining the symphony orchestrated by nocturnal insects. A horse galloped steadily, the sound of which disturbed the symphony. The man riding the horse was dressed in olive green as though he was trying to blend into the jungle. His muscular leg was covered with tightly draped green dyed Antariya with a kutcham while his torso was covered with thick black dyed leather tunic that was cut short to his waist. He wore a traditional Satavahana military headgear with flaps covering his ears. His mouth and nose were covered with a black cloth tied to his headgear. It was apparent that the man didn’t want to be recognized. His choice of weapon and the locket that hung over his neck seem to betray that intention. He was carrying a sharp sickle fastened to his back. The handle of the sickle was plated in gold and had the engraving of a ship – the emblem of the Satavahana Empire. The golden chain on his neck had a skewed five point star shaped pendant. The centre of the pendant encased a vile looking bluish green liquid. The man apparently belonged to the royalty for gold wasn’t really affordable for the working class.

As he approached the edge of the forest, a small village with huts built out of mud loomed into view. The village was surrounded by a fence made out of wooden sticks with sharp edges. The sticks were bound tightly with thick fibre rope.  Small bells were tied to the rope in equal distance with a big bell hanging in centre.The fencing was obviously meant for animals and not for humans aiming to attack the village. The man slowed down and eventually stopped as he approached the fence. He unmounted the horse and flexed his legs and shoulder. With his long legs, he could have easily jumped over the fence without making noise, but he choose to ring the big bell in the centre three times. He repeated the same action twice. It seemed like a specific code.

A scrawny figure walked briskly towards the man from the hut nearest to the fence. As he approached the man, his face drained out looking pale as a ghost.

“Namaste, what brings you to us in this ungodly hour Maharaj Ji?” asked the scrawny villager with folded hands. The man on the horse obviously was none one other than Raja Yagna Sri Satakarni himself. It seemed like the king was a regular visitor to the village.

“Pranam, I’m here to meet Vairini” replied the king.

The villager nodded and parted open the fence. He motioned the king to follow him. Together,they reached the other end of the village which ended in a river stream. The last hut on the line near the bank was largest of all the huts in the village. The circular hut could easily accommodate 10 people at ease. The hut was painted in white colour unlike the other huts. Thin brown cloth hung as makeshift curtains covering the entrance.The lantern burning inside the hut cast a glow on the ground though the tiny window. In spite of hut being large in width and height, the entrance was just enough for the scrawny villager. A small bell was suspended on the entrance of the hut to announce visitors. The villager rung the bell three times and repeated the same twice. Parting the curtain of the entrance, a petite young woman appeared and bowed mechanically without making an eye contact with her visitors. She motioned the king to follow her into the hut while dismissing the villager with a wave. The king entered the hut bending his gigantic frame to fit through the entrance.

The hut was sparsely furnished. Pots of different sizes were stacked neatly on an open wooden shelf that occupied large space. A broad low rise stool (moda) was placed in front the shelf. The woman motioned the king to sit on the stool while she sat cross legged opposite to him.

 The maharaja couldn’t take his eyes off the beauty that sat in front of him. Her lustrous black hair was tied up into a bun with wisps of curls falling over her perfectly round olive toned faced. Her eyes, framed by long eye lashes were dark brown and seemed to convey a sense of melancholy. With high cheekbones, a sharp nose and think pink lips, she was the epitome of beauty. Clothed in starched white cotton Antariya and a simple brown blouse, her slender and petite frame was in stark contrast with the man sitting opposite to her.

 “Maharaj Ji, are you going to sit here staring at me all night?” asked the woman in a soft sing-song voice.

“uh…hmm….apologies Vairini. You are too beautiful to not be admired. Sadly I don’t have all night” replied the king letting out a sigh.

Vairini chuckled and replied, ” Now that we have established you don’t have all night, can we get to business?”

“The Sriparvatiyas are closing in faster then I anticipated. The Panchakarni from other locations reported three successive events of attempted thefts which were of course unsuccessful. They are yet to figure out that I am also a part of the brotherhood, but that advantage would be lost soon. It is just a matter of time before they figure that out” explained the exasperated king.

“Isn’t that what we anticipated all along? But what worries me more is your search for an heir. You aren’t really working on either finding one or fathering one aren’t you? I really don’t wish to see all the hard-work that my people did going waste Maharaj ji” replied Vairini.

“Vairini, the prospect of matrimonial bliss with any woman other than you seems impossible for me.I would only be cheating some poor woman who would probably marry me with lot of hopes and dreams.I lost my heart to you long ago, but I respect your decision to reject my proposal. As to finding a competent successor, I am diligently working on it. With a war looming yet again, I frankly don’t know whom I can trust. ” replied the king solemnly.

Vairini let out a sigh and hung her head in sorrow.

The king reached for his chain and pulled it over it head in one swift motion. He held it in his hands and closed his eyes while chanting something inaudible. The king handed the locket to Vairini whose face registered confused with the King’s offer.

“Here Vairini this is master key. I want you to have this and safe guard it till I come back for it with a worthy successor in tow. I know it is not your duty to protect my treasure, but I plead you to help for the greater cause of humanity” pleaded the king.

 Vairni took the chain from the king’s outstretched. She was careful not to make any physical contact but the king simply tried to hold Vairini’s tiny hands with the pendant in her palms as though he sought assurance from her. Frowning deeply, Varini complied with the king. It seemed futile to resist the king as she was physically no match to him.

 Vairini  stood up, breaking the physical contact. She placed the chain inside one of pots on the top row of the shelf.  From another pot, she took out three small cylindrical objects and a chain with the pendant that looked similar to the chain which the king gave. Except the star shaped pendant attached to this chain was slightly more skewed than the original, but this deformity of sorts could be noticed only on keen observation. She then bent to retrieved a parchment which was hidden beneath inside a compartment on the lowest rack plank of the shelf.

 Handing over the chain, Vairini said “This is the exact copy of the key that we initially made while testing the lock mechanism. I had rejected this owing to minor angular deviations but this will do as an replacement to ward off those observant spies hot in pursuit for the original.” The king put on the chain without a second thought.

Next, she handed over one of cylindrical object. The object had a small wick like attachment in one end that could be twisted while a conical cap of sorts rested on the top of it. It could easily was compact enough to be hidden inside the King’s broad palm while it seemed a bit large in Vairini’s tiny hands. She motioned the king to follow her outside. She placed the cylinder on the ground and pulled the wick while also giving it a twist. The object shot up about 10 feet above the ground and burst into brilliant red flame that seemed to light up the entire sky. The king stood rooted to the ground gaping at the display of firework that strangely didn’t give one bit of a noise like whizzing or flaming arrows did. Vairini smiled at the king’s reaction and went on to explain,

“Magnificent! isn’t it? These objects are still being tested. The one that I gave will go up to 60 feet. Given that our village isn’t really far from your kingdom, I want you to use these to signal me if you are in mortal danger. This is the only way I can know if you have fallen so that I can ensure that my people escape. If the Sriparvatiyas get to you, it won’t take long for them to trace us to the eggs. I pray to Lord Rudra that it won’t come to using this, but one can never be sure. These are very stable, but handle with care” warned Vairini. She then went back inside the hut and took her seat while the king followed her still looking at the spot in the sky where the cylinder burst into flames.

Note : This story is not  historical fiction purely. This excerpt is an unedited version. Constructive criticism welcome. What I really need, I realized, is motivation. External motivation to be exact because self-motivation isn’t working at all. 

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