Thursday, December 30, 2010

Non-stops

It was quite a sight to see cheerful people in the flight to Chennai from Muscat yesterday. After a long time I heard this kind of non-stop chatter and talk. For those who know me, it is not difficult to believe that I love to talk.


The announcement said that we have landed at Chennai Airport and there was a huge round of applause and whistles.. It was the first time I have ever heard so much noise in a flight.. So also the first time I was home-bound on an International flight too. The set of students who were all cheered up, were graduates from a specific US-based university. They had to fly back to India from Muscat for a reason I won't know. As soon as we landed, there were non-stop applause, whistles and cheers. Noise - first time in a long time for me. It was easy to smile.

Then, there was the immigration counter where I was stamped an entry to my own country. The Tamil translation of the word immigration made more sense than the English dictionary meaning. You are basically taking an entry permit to your own country just because you are a non-resident Indian. The whole idea took me by a complete surprise and was a non-stop wonder till I stepped out of the airport.

Nothing seemed to have changed much over the last four months in Chennai Airport, although the regulars would notice more than what I could. Still the one thing that seemed constant was the cheer and noise that you see when people greet each other after a long time. Cant stop wondering about the extent to which we Indians, appreciate the idea of family and friends and people.

I have had the chance to take many domestic flights from Chennai airport in the past and also had the chances to see many people off on international flights; still after a few months it was very different to land here as an alien, in a city which I once knew like the back of my hand. Another non-stop wonder for me to see how people were waiting tireless for some one near and dear outside the arrival gate in the airport. Every eye showed the interest of receiving someone they knew.

We started off on the highway towards Pondicherry. It took us about two and a half hours to get out of the city limits, because of the traffic jam. I thoroughly enjoyed the wait in the traffic for the first time, because it has been a while since I saw so many vehicles, so tirelessly on the same track, in such a haphazard traffic scheme. It takes a lot of effort and strength to drive in Chennai traffic. I've seen Bangalore and I know it is tougher, but then if you are coming from a country where people complain of heavy traffic if they wait in a signal for three minutes, then it is definitely a wonder. Another non-stop wonder for me..

The fact is all of these have always been there and I have once been a part of these; still four months of life outside India makes the whole scene wondrous and new. Strange, but true!!!

Finally when we reached home, the feeling was very very different. Nothing seemed to have changed. It didn't seem like I was away for a few months at all. Another wonder to add to the list of non-stop wonders.... Wherever you have been, whatever you have been doing, however your life might have changed in the recent past, when you are back in the portals of your home, life suddenly seems comfortable and you know your way about..- The only reassurance that you are what you always were and nothing about you changes just because you have been away a little while!!!!.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dreams are facts

This post is about a recent wisdom piece that I got from a poetry by my friend. Thanks Nithya.

You can find the poetry here:

http://musicalmyst.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-post.html

The poetry may not have anything to do with what I got from it, but there are some words in this poem that drive a lot of meaning into your mind. And here is what I got from the third line:

What is happening today - a fact - may seem like a dream; [ Expression : Oh! I dont believe this!!! - exclamation here]
What happened earlier in life - fact of the past - may seem like a dream too..[ Expression: Can't stop thinking that there was a time when....!!! nostalgic fond smile here]

There are a lot of situations - incidents and accidents - in life that make life as interesting or seemingly as uninteresting as it is.

On any given day, there may be times when we are unable to believe that something is happening as if its a dream - so quick, unexpected, pleasant, and calm. (Unpleasant dreams are called as Nightmares). So also, there may be fond thoughts of the past floating in our mind, that seem like a dream now.

In both these cases we are talking about facts of life; about facts that have shaped as of TODAY. The way it SEEMS is totally up to us.

Today's fact may be yesterday's dream, for the one who has worked long and hard to see this day;
Yesterday's fact may be today's dream for the one who knows to cherish and be thankful for the fond thoughts.

Keep Working, Cherishing and Dreaming...

This post does not apply to negative and unpleasant thoughts.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Muscat Daily - City of Lights

This is a long pending post... It is about life in Muscat. May not be single post, but then I will try to write what I have seen and known so far in small snippets. And the category will be Muscat Daily.

All thanks to my friend and fellow blogger SG at http://sowmyagopal.blogspot.com who reminded me about this post. If you know me well, you would have guessed that my explorations, thoughts and experiences generally are on my blog as immediate as immediate can mean.. latest by a week's time. These days, I dont get to make much time in my mind for my blog. So, as and when I do, you'll see more up-to date posts.

Muscat, the captial of Oman is said to be one of the most scenic places in the Arabian land. Most of the scenic beauty during the day is contributed by the various colored mountains and beautifully paved roads here. The scenic beauty at night is lights.. If you get out of your house at night, all you get to see is lights and lights and lights everywhere. The lanes are well-lit by the street lights, Yellowish Orange or Plain White. (I know I am not talking the technicalities - Sodium vapor lamps and CFL and such serious science specs here.. Thats because the color is what catches me more than the science here). The backdrop of black and the distributed, patterned lighting identify the places mostlly.

A flood of light tells you its a stadium, a row of lights says it is a road, a curved pattern of lights in a winding pattern says that there is a winding road running up the hill, a neat line of lights that seem to hang in mid-air indicates that it is a crane positioned next to a construction area... The harbour or Mina as they call it here, is the best place to go to, if you want to see the beauty of the Muscat city at night. There are a lot of rocky hills that are also bathed in the shine of the glowing flash light from the ground. The whole scene makes the place very beautiful.

Most of the pavements have trees - date palms and neem mostly, with a floor light on, showing us the golden trunk of the tree. It will seem like trees in gold and silver have been planted along the side walks. Call it extremely bombastic and hyper imaginative, but then this is how I felt when I looked at some of the side walks in the roads here, as I sat watching out of our car window.

There are some watch towers of archaelogical importance here. The lighting gives the 'truly important' touch to these towers at night.

Muscat is celebrating the 40th National Day. The entire country is lighted up for one whole month in a festive mode to celebrate the National day. Every road has colorful, well designed lights in beautiful patterns.All bridges are also lighted up. There was a fireworks display also... another color splash!!!

The heavy loaded trucks here are another beautiful sight at nights. Every truck has at least three of these colors - Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, Green, White. Its quite a sight to see the well-aligned lights move in the backdrop of the night color.

The stadiums are flooded with lights, so much that would make you think that a major match or event is happening there. Even on a light day, the stadiums are super-lit with the flood lights that compete with the moon's color on a full moon night.

Every building's compound wall has half a dozen lights at least to indicate that it is a compound wall. Most houses have lights on their window sill, so you can see the beauty of the window's design and architecture.

Overall, if you want to see how lights can make a difference to your mood, you must drive late evenings in Muscat. City of Lights, quite a sight, at night.

All our attempts to capture the best of this lighting were not successful. Check the slideshow to see some photos.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Color Pallete - Mountains, Roads, and Sky

The Good God must be a super-good artist... At least that's what the scenic mountains on the way to Alhuta Caves conveyed to us.

I never knew that mountains with all shades of brown without a single speck of green, can be so beautiful until I came to Muscat. I get to see a mountain range when I look out the window of my house, but never really took time to analyze them more than a quick look in the morning, noon, evening and night. I love the border color the sunshine of the day gives to this mountain range.

Here are some selected snaps of the mountains that caught our eyes over the two hour drive to the Caves. The time of the day defines the shadow on the mountains and the contrast it renders to the original brown color. The clear sky adds an extra touch finishing touch to the scenic portrait. On a close-up you can see a lot of shades of brown, orange, yellow, and blue and green.



















The Alhuta museum clarifies the colors to be mineral-rich rocks that are believed to have been formed when the continents were formed gradually in the globe over an archealogical time period of say 400 million years ago.
It was depicted beautifully in a set of animation frames. It is easy to like Geography classes if taught this way:

There seems to have been a time in the past when the Arabian land had been blessed with the fertile richness that is presently seen in the tropical countries.
Made me wonder aloud : So, after all this land had been all green and fertile once upon a time... So, this is probably just a phase of life in the archealogical time period. Not before too long, all these mountains and the colors in them and the rocks will also take place in one of the walls of the museums in another few million years to come... When continents can be formed by some movement of tectonic plates and water turbulence or whatever the geologists call it and reason it, there is also the equal possibility of the same turbulence to occur and make this whole globe into a joint blob that you are seeing in the picture. We took this from the animation video in the museum. You can fix a time period on the panel and see how the globe would have looked like back then... It was a nice experience for us because we have never seen anything like this, more so, never thought that Arabia could have once been a part of the whole blob of terrain in the globe.. May be geography classes had it and history teachers meant to teach us, but like I said, it takes a nice visual representation to get some facts right.
I just got this fact and its just a wonderful feeling within when you get the ground reality of all these: What you see is not permanent.
Also the wonderful lesson about mountains: Even if it is a rocky mountain it has its own beauty and might that cannot be denied.
The brown of the mountains is monotonous and boring sometimes, but the blue touch and the black roads accentuate the beauty of the scene. Easy to apply this to life too in any scenario. You can make the most monotonous work interesting by a few little changes.
The blue sky, the brown mountain and black roads made me click a lot more pictures than this blog poost can hold and gave me a lot more lessons than I can possibly explain here. Surely, nature is worth watching and is the best way to learn to appreciate life better.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hurry and Worry over Study!!!!!

There is an age and time for spending a lot of energy on studies... And a baby aged six months need not be forced to hurry and worry and study the english alphabet.

There is a particular advertisement in one of the regional channels that says, " In the world today, even the KG admission demands that your child attends an interview. If you want your child to surprise the interviewers, buy this early learning package that will help your child do very well in the English Language which is very important for today's education."

The versions of the advt. go ahead and promise that your five year old can comfortably read an english book, if introduced to this learning programme as early as six months of coming into this beautiful world.

That is the point which caught my attention... Why hurry up and force a baby into reading alphabets? Why worry about your child's KG class interview? If a school is unable to understand your child's ablity to grasp new things with some simple questioning, then that school is not the right place for your child. There are some things in life that definitely cannot be forced into.. one of the definites in this list is 'Love for education'.

If parents start expecting children to live up to their expectations based on such 'not-so-intelligent' advertisements, they might have to face a bigger battle at a later date, where the child will never be interested in studies, ever.

Wonder if the school authorities, sensible parents, and psychologists and may be doctors too, will help those who start dreaming of their children mastering a foreign language as early as three years or five years or less than that!!!

May be parents who watch these kinds of advertisements should know to enjoy their time with the baby first, then the toddler, then the wonder kid level, then the child, then the teens, then the adult.... May be they should not hurry and worry about study so much as opposed to watching and enjoying the child's wonderful and gradual process of 'growing up' in every sense.

With all my prayers for the babies of this year 2010...God Bless them all!!! Let them take their own time to realize that it is a big, crazy, rush hour world outside!!!! Parents, New Parents, and Parents-to-be, please understand!!!!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

To redefine or shape your mind...

I am writing this post for an obvious reason - I am beginning to lose my temper more than before. I have decided to redefine its shape. A quick and focussed look within the inner-self uncovered a certain simple truth:

If you have had a pattern of keeping your inner peace and have changed it in the recent past, then it affects your temper. Go back to the same pattern if possible.

For an alternate and permanent solution, a quick research on the internet brought me to this link.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scIvvDZDQzI

All that mattered for me was I never took time out to keep my calm over the last few months and this point got registered this morning. Following this video reassures me that I can get back control on my temper.

Help yourself, when no help seems to be around and get back to shape in your mind.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

North Indian and South Indian food - Observations

Food.. no matter how much we want to convince ourselves saying that "Food is part of life and not life itself" and that "we eat to live and not live to eat"... most of us cannot eat anything that is not up to a certain tasty standard. There are some clickable expressions that you'll get to see around in the house if the food tastes 'not-so-good'.

There is an inherent sense of satisfaction and happiness if what we make turns out to be close to the taste standards that our folks at home expect. For a long time I thought that some people are great cooks.. but until I got around to keep my own kitchen, I didnt realize that almost anyone and everyone with some interest in cooking + knowledge of few formulae can cook well.

From my minimal experience here are some generic observations:

NORTH INDIAN:

  • Almost all dishes have one of these items to add to the cholestrol and of course taste and flavor too: Ghee, Butter, Paneer, Yoghurt.
  • Coriander leaves are used for garnishing your freshly prepared dish.
  • Kashmiri Chilli powder ( colored bright red and tastes a little less spicy) is usually added for the dark color.
  • Your kitchen must have Jeera or Cumin seeds to prepare any north indian dish.
  • It will seem like potato is staple ingredient in a north indian dish.
  • Sugar needs to be added to all yoghurt included dishes.
  • Garam Masala( mix of all spices finely ground, available in all stores catering to the Indian population) has an esteemed presence.
  • Tomatoes and Onions should be available in plenty as one or more of these are ground and sauted with ginger garlic paste in Jeera for most gravy dishes.

Do anything you want with the vegetables, but make sure you add these ingredients appropriately to give your dish a north indian touch. Most cooked vegetables taste nicer than you can ever imagine, if you know some basics of North Indian cuisine.

Be generous with oil/ghee/butter if you want to win the taste-match with the nearest popular north indian restaurant chef... and....

Most importantly.........Dont look for me to help you, if your doctor has something to say on your new eating habits and your soaring weight and cholestrol. Use your judgement when you add oil, ghee, butter, garam masala, chilli powder, potato, and sugar in your favorite north indian dish.

SOUTH INDIAN:

  • Most of the main dish is centered around rice. Rice, Rice Flour, Rice Flakes are extensively used in south india.
  • Most dishes use Urad Dhal and Red Chilly when you saute vegetables.
  • Curry leaves are a must for most South Indian dishes. They are used when you saute or garnish, but they must be used if you want to get a 'nod' from some seasoned critics of South Indian cuisine.
  • Refined oil is added as generously as you use water in some sinfully fatty and tasty fried vegetables. Use your sense of dieting when you pick up an oil can the next time you cook. And also be prepared for a sorry face, because folks are not going to like it much if you reduce oil. It shows when Lady's finger ( Okhra ) fry is not looking brownish green/blackish green with an oily shine over it.
  • Use a lot of Garlic (Chettinad style) or Asafoetida(Tirunelveli) and/or Ginger to ensure you get a proper South Indian Flavor. Most of the pure-vegetarian dishes click off well with Asafoetida.
  • If you have Tamarind at home, you are half set for a South Indian cooking session.
  • Turmeric is added in all dishes that involve vegetables.
  • Your kitchen must have all Dals to make chutneys ( indian substitute for sauce dips) with any green vegetable under the sun. Andhra Pradesh is famous for these chutneys.
  • If you are in Kerala, dont start cooking without grated coconut. Keralites use at least one coconut each day is a statistic from my experience.
  • Tanjore style cooking involves very less coconut and a lot of Rice flour as a thickening agent.
  • Rasam and Sambhar are stapled dishes in most south indian dining tables.
  • Every dish has to be sauted with Mustard seeds, except a few Kerala specialities such as, Olan and Avial. You must know this even if you do not know how to cook.
  • Every Andhra dish uses an extra chilly effect and every Karnataka dish uses an extra spoon of sugar.
  • Most tamilian dishes that use tamarind also use a pinch of jaggery to fight the tamarind tart.

Most importantly, beware of the increased carbohydrates that you eat in a day. Most South indian dishes have a lot of carbohydrates. An increased use of Tamarind necessitates an increased in-take of salt and chilli powder. Beware of these intruders in your cardiac zone.

The ancient ( olden days would be apt, but for some reason that eating pattern sounds ancient to me today) south indian eating habits had a fair balance of fats, protiens,vitamins, minerals, fibre, carbohydrates making a south indian meal very healthy and apt for the then more disciplined eating habits/lifestyle/exercise.. Presently with the invasion of multi-cuisine interest and life style changes, this ancient diet pattern does not work in favor of health. Dosa/chutney for breakfast, Rice/Rasam/Sambhar/Potato for lunch, Pav Bhaji for snack, Piza/Icecream for dinner does not contribute to good health at all. Use your mind to decide what you eat on a given day.

Lastly, do not follow the books that teach cooking exactly to the measure because they teach the right way for the taste and in today's world we are forced to follow the right way to health.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Epitome of Confidence - Bhakta Prahalad

Quick note: Divine is my new section. This post does not advocate any specific religion. It is just an observation and is best read with a generic and open mind. If you don't have belief in God, you are better off not reading any posts under the label: Divine. I am not sorry, but I must say that any comment that is offending any religion or the Divine will not be published.

On the Television, there was this scene. There were a number of uniformed young boys. From their attire and surrounding it seemed that they were at the residential school of the olden days - Gurukul. It is believed that in Gurukul mode of education, the students were taught all the arts and sciences that one needs to know in life, in a span of seven or ten years time.

One of the children was saying that his Lord, the supreme power, Vishnu is everywhere and anything in the world is possible for him. To prove his point, he walked up to the nearest flowering shrub and plucked a part of the stem. He challenged the rest of the group that his Lord will be able to stick the broken stem back to its place in the shrub. Then he closed his eyes and asked his Lord to stick the stem back. He started chanting the Lord's name - Om Namo Bhagavate Vaasudevaya.

The next scene was in God's abode..Lord Vishnu thinks aloud. "I must get the stem to stick back to the shrub, because Prahalad never doubted my ability. He just asked and is continuing to chant my name in the belief that I can do it. If I dont, it means I am breaking my devotee's confidence in me".

Good point... made me wonder, if we really have this kind of strong confidence in the Good God? Most often we pray with a little doubt, I would say. This snippet gave me a new perception to Bhakti or Devotion or Trust..

Bhakti is confidence. When you believe in God and wish for something, work on something or ask for something, if your faith is complete, you will surely get it. That is the message. We often try to reason out a lot of things..and believe in our own brains and logic more than the all-powerful God. God reaches out to help people who believe and leaves people who believe in themselves to handle things on their own, because there are others who are calling for help. When people finally call out for help, it is granted for sure.

God must be a busy entity really, answering all the sincere prayers in appropriate way.

Mythological tale it is - still gives a very good lesson for one and all. For people who understand and believe that God can, then he will :) We all must pray for Prahalad's Bhakti in life.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Notebook - A movie review

Just watched this movie called Notebook, a Malayalam movie. I am well past the teen age, so I guess I am able to understand a lot about this movie, so much so that I am tempted to write about it immediately.


There are a lot of analysis points here and there in the movie that the schools and parents and the students need to notice. As I write this post, I will try to mark the analysis points within brackets for you to figure out yourself.


The story is about three girls studying in the Eleventh Grade[ Analysis point ], in a convent school [ Analysis point] based in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. Pooja, Seara and Sridevi. The three friends have good grades, have a lot of fun and mostly importantly be together all the time[ Analysis point]. Seara's parents are legally separated and she has little interest to go home. Pooja lost her father very early in life and lives with her mother in the same place. Sridevi's parents live in Kerala. Sridevi and Seara spend their second Saturday school holidays in Pooja's place. Pooja's mother is a loving and caring person who adores and supports the three friends and their friendship[ analysis point ].She is shown as a person who knows when to interfere and when to leave them alone.


Seara is this super-bold and very considerate person(Analysis). Here and there we see incidents that prove this point. So, when her friend Sridevi is in the deepest of troubles, Seara and Pooja work a plan to resolve it. The plan misfires(analysis ) and Sridevi dies. When questioned by the authorities, Pooja denied her link to the whole scene (analysis) and Seara agrees to have been a part of the scene. Seara gets a dismissal from the school and is very disappointed that her best friend didn't stand by her when it came to a common problem for both of them. Seara leaves town and Pooja feels guilty (analysis) and the guilt challenges her sanity.


Six years later, Seara graduates from a medical school and through the efforts of a well-wisher gets to know about Pooja's wherabouts.Pooja gets well and Seara and Pooja join hands again.That is the story in a nut shell.

It seems an ordinary narrative from my blog post, am sure, but the story has a lot of points to take away for school children, college boarders, parents, and authorities of the educational institution:

Parents:

1. Be a parent and not a military officer on duty.

2. Be approachable all the time and not be a bossy manager to the children.

3. If there is something happening in your child's life, you must be the first to know.

4. The children should never know about the loud disagreements between their parents.

5. If you are having a baby, ensure that you both agree to give up your egos at least for the child's welfare.

6. If you are sending your child to a co-educational institution, remember to be open to their friendships from the opposite gender as well. Ensure that all lines are drawn appropriately to avoid unexpected twists in student life.

7. Trust your child's words.

One word: Express love and care as much as you can. Children need to know that you love them, till they get old enough to understand your unexpressed and permanent love for them.

School and College Authorities:

1. Make a moral science class compulsory for the children of all grades. Teach or instill all the niceties that the child would need to know in life.

2. Academics are important, but remember, by discouraging or insulting a poor performer in front of the class is not going to improve the grades or confidence or morale of the child.

3. Do not give grades serious importance - instead give more confidence to the child who does not perform and instill the practice of brighter students supporting the poor performers without both the sections knowing this truth. It should be more of 'giving' and 'sharing' among the children.

4. Do not be too strict all the time. Your students are scared of you is not your best reward after years of service in school.

5. Be an example and be fair, even if the dealing is minor when it comes to children's issues. 'Someone lost a pen' might be a small news in a whole maze of things, but the way the teacher handles the problem decides the attitude of a lot of minds in the class.

6. Do not put too many rules.. Afterall children are children and have all the rights to be happy in their own way. Watch them over and if need be, put barricades, else be genuine with the rules that you make in your institutions.

7. Try to reason out the behavior of the child before accusing the child a lot and degrading the confidence level further.

8. Watch over them and ensure that you be unbiased.

One word : You cannot become a child again, so let them be.... and they cannot be expected to see truth in a lot of things like you do, so be there and keep your mind, eyes and ears open.

Children:

1. Stand by your friends, but be aware of unexpected dangerous twists in life.

2. Trust your elders at home or school and take advice on things you cannot decide yourself.

3. Fun is good. Too much of fun is not too good for you.

4. If you know it is too much to handle all by yourself, let someone in your school or home know about it.

5. If there is a rule, then believe that there is a reason for the rule. If you don't know why, try to talk about it to your parents.[Although talking about rules to the teachers is not practical, in today's set up, but in future it should be possible too, if the authorities listen].

6. When you are there to study, just do that. Make friends and help them grow in studies as well.

7. Be honest, its good for you.

8. Stand by your parents and do not do anything that your parents won't approve. May be they are not right all the time, may be they don't understand, but they are your parents who love you whatever you do to them.

9. Remember that anyone older than you will surely give you an advice.. Listen and store it away. Use it based on your judgement when you need it.

One word: Your parents deserve to be happy and do not deserve to be summoned by the principal for any of your behavioral issues.

Thats about what I can write presently on this subject. During the course of the movie, I did notice quite a lot of other pointers which will definitely be interesting only if you watch the movie.

A lot of scenes in this movie are not okay in my opinion for children below 18 years of age, but considering that it is a school set up and believing in the censor board , I guess, the problems discussed are relevant to the school kids of today. The parents should decide if they want their children to watch this movie or not. Since it is a school set up all children would want to watch it anyways. What they take away from the movie is upto Lady Luck.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

About the Oasis of Arabia - Salalah

Just noticed that this is the hundredth article of this year 2010 on my blog.. and is also my first travel post. We had recently been to this place called Salalah and I thought it is an interesting travel to share with the blogger world. You'll find a lot of articles and write-ups online about this, so what I am giving here is only an outline of what captivated our eyes and head during the trip.

Salalah, the oasis of Arabia is a coastal town in the country of Oman. The lush green lawns, shrubs, trees, coconut groves and banana plantations you see definitely makes you double-check if you are in the God's own Country- Kerala, India. Salalah is on the foot hills of the Dhofar mountain range. This mountain range is said to be lush green during the " Khareef " or rainy season. Khareef lasts from June to September. The scenic beauty of the place makes it a major tourist attraction even in the off-season period.

November temperature goes up to 32 degrees during the day and drops down to 20 degrees at night in Salalah.As you drive around to visit various local attractions, you get to see the withering remains of the September greenery. The varying shades of the Dhofar mountain range is worth a picture.

Per information from some locals and long time residents of Muscat, a lot of vegetables and fruits are grown in this surprisingly fertile land and exported to other places in Arabia. The tender coconut stalls are very popular here. Your trip is not complete without a tender coconut. The banana plantations are vast spread and hence the raw bananas are good sale pieces on the coastline.

The Salalah coastline has a lot of beaches open to the tourists. Sunset on the horizon is a must-see scene during your visit.

The locals are mostly natives of Oman and Pakistan. You also get to see a lot of people from Turkey and India living in Salalah. The widely prevalent language in Salalah in Arabic, though for us Indians, Hindi and understanding of Malayalam would be sufficient. When talking to a non-Indian, if you have to speak English, cut all the connecting words and excess verbiage in your sentence to get the correct response. An interesting example we heard was this: Evenings good babies play. It means, This park is good for babies to play in the evenings. All sentences have to be tagged along with a hand signal - signalling the place or context of discussion. Amusing and nice .. Wonder if Grammar has a role at all here?

A lot of rent-a-car outlets are available if you want to drive around yourself. Average rates would be 15 to 20 OMR per day. You can also hire a city taxi and asked to be driven around. A tourist guide book, a map booklet that has pictures of the local attractions would help you ask your way around in town.Don't forget that you cannot use your super high level fiction book or corporate standards of language here. People are willing to take time to understand your language and do their best bit to help you. Thats the best about the locals here.

You might have to call up and make reservations for your stay in the hotels here. Some hotels do not appreciate advance reservations. A two-star stay costs about 15 OMR and the city center has quite a number of nice accommodations that make your stay very comfortable.

You will need two full days average time for sight-seeing in Salalah. If you are a hurried tourist, you can finish the entire trip in less than two days time. If you are visiting Salalah during Khareef, three days trip to Salalah would ensure you don't miss any seasonal attraction.

It is important that we adhere to decent dress discipline. Clothes that are too casual - those that reveal more than they cover - are not welcome. You might need to carry an umbrella or scarf to cover your head when you are roaming in the afternoons, as the heat may be too much to bear. Winter clothing is not a must, but during Khareef it can get really cold though the temperature doesn't drop much.

In the next to next posts I'll post some snap shots and descriptions of the attractions in Salalah.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Curry leaves in a cover!!!!

We always take things for granted.. and life has its own way of teaching us the lesson of valuing every single thing that we have..

We were almost done with shopping for groceries that evening... In the hypermarket that seemingly spreads to acres ( at 9:45P.M when you are hungry and have lost all energy to take that next step forward, even a market seems so vast!!!) I rushed towards the vegetables section to look for curry leaves. I have been missing it a lot since I came to this city.

In the last two shopping trips I had not looked at the right counter I guess... I had never found curry leaves.. My kitchen and the 'would-have-been-excellent-with-a-garnish of curry leaves' dishes have been missing curry leaves.. Although most of us search for the leaves in the plate and take time to heap them all aside, our cooking is not complete without that touch of curry leaves...

When I searched all the racks in the green leafy section of the market, I found little packets neatly price tagged. I picked up one, just because I thought the packing was super perfect and the leaves inside looked familiar. On a close look, I found that it was a pack of curry leaves. I could not believe that there has come a day in my life when I am actually paying money for curry leaves and that they are sealed in a cover..

Nothing extraordinary about this really, but if you had visited one of the Tamilian houses with a backyard where they grow some plants, you will see a tree of curry leaves for sure and for such people this little sealed cover full of curry leaves with a price tag, is a small wonder...

Back home, in our backyard, we have a lot of trees from which we pluck curry leaves as much as we need for our cooking. I don't like to step out of the kitchen when I am cooking, so whoever is free in the house would pluck it for me. I have also had some boring chances (yes, back then it was a boring job for me!!) of plucking curry leaves... They are in abundance and we never bothered to buy curry leaves.. Even in shops no one really pays for curry leaves unless they go to the shop just for this purchase. Curry leaves and coriander leaves are usually given free of cost..

Life really has its own way of teaching lessons..I smiled and picked up one packet of curry leaves and looked at the price tag and smiled again.. My neighbour at the same counter didn't understand why I smiled and why I took such a long time to pick up one packet of curry leaves!!! She must have thought I am out of my mind... :) Not that it matters... What matters is that I learnt not to take even the smallest gift for granted!!!.

I am waiting for my next trip to India to pluck curry leaves with a smile for the first time in my life!!! :) Okay.. there are a lot of things I am looking forward to, this one is important in its own way :)

Monday, November 08, 2010

If there seems to be no way, make one....

Yes, that is an adapted quote: A quote from the cover pages of one of the student hand book that I bought last year said: We will either find a way or make one.

Very inspiring!!!

I recently moved out of corporate and presently looking for freelance assignments online. Never been a freelancer before so was fiddling with the mouse, clicking some links on the Google search results..

I am amazed at the multitude of job openings available in the market from individuals, small scale business owners and large scale companies. Some of the jobs are too surprising!!! Like, write a thank you card and you get paid!!! This one made me click the link.. not to consider taking up the job but to see why someone wants to employ people to write thanks.. It means the employer is so keen on sending thanks and that there are too many thanks cards to be written and so is willing to employ someone. The link indeed had this job description!!..

Then there are a lot of other assignments that offer jobs for people based on their interests. You need not be a highly qualified expert professional in some field to think of earning some cash. You just need the thought of making money with some hard work that you can offer. The opportunities available are endless..

We just have to be able to think of making a way, if there seems to be none.. I dont say its easy, but it surely is possible to make a way in your own style always..

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Surprise - Surprize

I have not been really thinking much or observing much on generic stuff over the last four months, which is why, I guess I am unable to post a lot on my blog like before..

Now, as I gear up again as usual on blogger, I decided to give a closer look at the very familiar blogger window..

And there... I saw the Stats links. Surprise!!! May be it has been there all along and I have not seen... Like they say, Its always there, we just don't see it... and the it here refers to blessings in life - trivial or great.

Obviously my next step is to click the link...

The next surprise is what the stats show - I have visitors from Netherlands and Turkey and Russia as well. Blogger network is interwoven, I know, so some other search page or blog site might have brought them to my blog, but I am happy all the same.

It is exciting and rewarding to see that people read ( or may be just visit) what you write.. Another reason to continue blogging - a unique way of sharing what you think and own your words boldly on the Internet.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mind your mind

... and your home gets sweeter each moment.

A lot about making a neat little home depends on the mind set that needs to really get settled in one's head.

Marriage brought the word home-making into the limelight in my mind that already is like an over-crowded city market with varied thoughts on a hundred different things in the world...Oh, yes, I am this person who has some opinion on everything under the sun... just like most others who are like me. And home-making got tossed into my mind one fine September morning... That's when I had the first real feel of the responsibility of home-making, although I was doing my bit at home with my parents.

Home-making involves too many things and I cannot list all: That was realization number ONE for me.

  • House keeping ( which in itself can be a whole new blog, in my opinion...)
  • Cooking
  • Health watch - Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, Intellectual, and Financial

is a short, seemingly all-encompassing list..( may be I stopped the list too short... )

If I try to paint a bigger picture, it is about leading a balanced life. If you are trying to place where you have heard something similar, it must have been in your school text book that taught you the word 'balanced diet' or the last TV advertisement that you watched of a health drink or your gym instructor/dietitian talking about how to stay fit with a healthy and 'balanced diet'...

Life also needs to be balanced - Too much of anything (except love which has got vision - I am not talking about blind love that doesn't want to see practicality), is good for nothing.

Now, if the lady of the house gets these facts inside her mind and ensure that these thoughts are settled in there, then home-making becomes a practice, then a habit, and then its easy to see that the house becomes a home.

Its all in the Mind, someone said aptly. While I am in the first stages of minding my mind, I thought I'd share some thought for a start.

Home-making : A new section from today!!

Dear Readers,

I am beginning to write a new section today, on this blog on home-making which is presently my area of interest.

You'll see varied thoughts - some basic, some analytical, some skilled, some others seemingly useful, and some of them totally pointless - and totally my view of things, as usual. I didnt know that there was so much involved in this highly responsible, very delicate, and time consuming practice of life. Now, that I have begun to practice the skill, thought it best to write, share, learn about it, along the way.

If you have a constructive criticism on any of these posts, do write a comment. Would make my day and help me learn home-making better.

I am not giving any specific attention to writing style here, but then, all attention to the richness of lessons that home-making can provide.

Keep reading and help me improve this skill of home-making that has been the best inherent skill of women, worldwide.

Best,
Dew

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What is the temperature?

Its scorching hot outside. I just switched the air conditioner on and sat down in front of this computer. I am hearing the trucks screeching to a halt outside. Constantly there is some construction work happening in this neighbourhood. Tempted to give another look, I look out the window of this room to see a lot of workers with their safety hats on, hard at work on the road constructions and building construction.

And here, I am sitting in an AC room and generally relaxing after the regular routine work at home. Someone comes online and asks: How is the temperature in Muscat? And I am at a loss to answer this question.

To me, the temperature inside the house will be at the level which I set. Presently, it is 20 degrees. I cannot say, ' The climate is very hot'. Can I? What difference does the temperature outside make to me when I am gifted to sit in an air-conditioned room and write this post?

Wonder if anyone would stop to ask these poor construction workers what the temperature is like in Muscat. Is there an alternative for these truck drivers who drive endless hours to and fro the sites with tonnes of sand, concrete and cement ? Is there an alternative for these construction workers who toil day in and day out to see the buildings tall and strong? - I guess not...

Is it the compulsion in life that makes these workers capable of bearing the scorching and merciless Arabian heat outside? May be.. Sadly they seem to HAVE to put up with the burning heat outside. I am only hoping that these people get paid well enough for all the hard work they put in.

I decided never to complain on weather conditions ever in my life wherever I go, because I don't think I am or anyone who is sitting indoors in an AC room, during the day, in any place is ever qualified to talk about temperature outside. Hot or cold, we get to set the temperature indoors. Thank God and the AC invention!!.

And the next time I want to know how hot or cold is a place, I guess I'll stop by a construction work site and ask one of the workers there instead of asking a friend online, who is probably sitting in a closed comfortable room like mine.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

On Change

It just happens, whether you like it or not, want it or not, accept it or not.

Its quite natural for change to take you off-guard.

Change can be welcoming if it is given some time to sink in.

Change is often overwhelming, but it usually is manageable with time.

Change and Time are the best pals. Change happens with time.

Change rules over you in the beginning, but in course of time, you can rule over the change by an acceptance attitude.

Change is the best thing that can happen to you at any point of time.

Change always happens for the better, although the betterment does not surface immediately.

Every change small or big, has the same level of impact most often.

Change takes time to enter into your emotional self.

You are better off accepting change than fighting it.

On any change, there is always an alternative; Accept it and smile anyway.

Change is the only thing that keeps anything and everything in the world going, the way it is.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Help - Its just there....

How often have you come across situations when you are looking for some advice or suggestion and it surprisingly comes immediately from some unexpected source? Or you are looking for some support and it seems to just land right there next to you, in some form or the other?

At the Mumbai airport, I was wiping off the uncontrollable tears.I didn't like to admit ( still don't like to) that I was totally out of composure when I had just about two hours to take-off from India. I was repeatedly trying to tell myself that its just going to be okay in a while, but absolutely no relief from the tears.

After the umpteen formalities (Oh,yes, there were not too many procedures, but amidst a heavy heart and tear-filled eyes, every single check-in formality at the airport just seemed to add stress...)I was taking the escalator to the waiting area when I casually looked up.

There, on the wall was a huge advertisement board talking about an LG product. I don't recall the product that was being advertised, but the tag line caught my eye and mind at the right time.. It said, " See things differently".

Quite right.. I wiped the tears off ( yeah they did keep pouring out now and then, but the non-stop overflow stopped) and my mind was repeating this line.. See things differently..

Even now, I use this tag line whenever I need some reminder on seeing things differently. Slowly, it will become a practice, followed by habit to 'see things differently'.. And this I am sure is the best way to accept a new opinion, a new way of life, a new thing, and just about any change for that matter, anywhere and anytime.

Lets see things differently. God Bless the ad maker who has really helped me in a big way. I am sure a lot of others noticed too.. but to me this was almost a zen moment. And, yes another assurance that help is just around.. in some form or the other.. We just need to take it... Its just there and has always been.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On cleaning.....

It is not that I am seeing an array of cleaning agents for the first time in a supermarket, but this is definitely the first time I am giving this stack a good look.

I was just getting used to the idea of cleaning up and constant cleaning up required in any household. As I was walking past the numerous stacks with dozen different varieties of cleaning aids and liquids for a hundred different purposes, I was wondering if half of people's lifetime is actually spent in washing, scouring,cleaning and clearing up of dust, stains, and dirt.

In the next minute, my doubt was clarified. There was this little kid busy mopping the floor with the brand new mop he picked up from his mother's shopping crate. You should have seen the sincerity with which the mopping was happening on the already spic and span floor. My judgement says the child would definitely not be more than two years old. Trust me, I would not have held the mop so professionally. A lot of us adults stopped, looked and smiled, while the child's mother was completely lost in shopping for the best cleaning agent.Either she had seen the scene and knew her son too well, or was too busy to look. I hoped that she didn't miss this wonderful sight.

I am quite convinced that half of our lifetime is definitely spent in cleaning up and the dusting work and this art is learnt as early as 2 years of age!!!! in some houses. Okay, 'half' may be a bad statistic, so make it 'a lot of time...'

My thoughts were interrupted as the hypermarket indoor-cleaning vehicle drove past me, dusting and mopping the floor. The man smiled at the child's seemingly angry and confused look and the mop in the little hands.May be the child was wondering why this man was disturbing his
work!!!!

The next day onward, I am doing my cleaning work a little more sincerely than before, I think.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Deserted.....

"This place is totally deserted..".I have read and heard this statement quite often but it never registered into my emotional depths until one fine morning here in Muscat when I chanced to look out the window.

I was almost done with the usual routines in my new home when my random thoughts were disturbed by a 'now-too-familiar' truck's slow murmur on the 'work-in-progress' roads.

I looked out the window and saw the vast expanse of desert till as far as I could see. I have always thought that deserts would have fine sand dunes all over the place, and imagined that apart from the burning heat, the scene would be very beautiful and romantic.A sharp contrast is the view of the desert I see from our living room.It is full of stone flakes and coarse sand.I learnt later during our short trip to the nearest beach, that this place is classified as a desert because of its flaky and rocky mountains spread as far as your eyes can see.

I still think desert is a wonderful work of art. The deserts give the best touch to the twilight, dawn, dusk and night sky.

This beautiful city has been built in such a desert. Or may be the desert backdrop adds beauty to the city. Its a picturesque sight to see the rocky mountains from a screen of permanent dust arising from the coarse sand.

More observations of a first timer in this city :


  • There are too few people on the roads.
  • The heat here can fry anything including you in a few minutes.
  • Out of the ten rare people you see in a place, almost eight speak a language you cannot comprehend.
  • There seem to be many cars than people on the roads.
  • There seem to be many lights on the roads than cars and people counted together.
  • All pavements are so clean that you want to stop by to check if they are real or are from a painting.
  • The sunset by the beach is a visual treat.
  • The beautiful morning sky brightens up as early as 5:15 A.M, although the sun rise is only at 6:00A.M. It is of course spectacular with a mountainous backdrop and dusty roads. I really wish I could paint the picture.
  • The universal language in this city is silence and its a little too deafening.I touched my throat and thanked God for the vocal chord I have been gifted with. Suddenly this thanks meant a lot. We never thank God for some of these gifts.. I have learnt to speak in low tones too.I know the ones who know me wont really believe me, but trust me, I can talk in the lowest of tones and still be audible.
  • Saravana Bhavan is one savior if you want to hear some noise. Indians speak loudly is a truth I learnt at Saravana Bhavan, a branch of the famous restaurant in T.Nagar, Chennai. I could not help thinking of the hustle and bustle in Chennai.Its so much fun to think of it now, although a lot of times people in Chennai crib a lot about the crowd.
  • There are no traffic cops on the roads here.
  • Vehicles synchronize themselves so well on the wide, narrow, winding and straight roads here. Wonder if the same Indian would take care to/can drive this methodically on the roads in India?? Unsure.
  • On any given day, the hypermarket here is the most populated place in the entire city.
  • The beaches are beautiful and the Arabian water is very clear.
  • The people here love their country and respect their culture, tradition and religion. It automatically brings a comfortable smile on your face.
  • Its amazing that such a well planned and inhabitable city/town ( still trying to judge) has been built on this rocky desert land.
  • The vastness of landscapes and hugeness of buildings and the wideness of roads amaze you... mostly because you are not sure if there are as many people in this city that can put the infrastructure to full use.
  • Everything is so Royal-looking and architectural here.
  • There are a lot of beautiful women here.

All said, outside the closed comfort of our beautiful home, I still feel that this place is so totally 'deserted'. Now I know what the line means much better than I had known in the past.

Smiley note: I fully realize that this is because it is my first time in a foreign land, first time away from Internet and mobile phone for a long time, and first time in a very sparsely populated zone. I am learning to cope and I am learning fast.

This post was written last week and I could not post it until now. I have started reading the place better now. The last post had a lot of comments from readers and brought a smile on my face. I am truly thankful that I hold this blog and never felt this way as much as I did today. Thanks folks.. You are one reason why I must continue to write.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Flight, Cloud, Feeling, and Change

Welcome to the Sultanate of Oman. That was the in-flight announcement that brought me back to senses from my non-stop wonder about the clouds inside and outside. I smiled.....

Ever since my first ever air travel experience, the one thing that I cant stop wondering about is the beauty of the clouds, no matter where I am headed. I usually try to classify the clouds I see,but this time I was occupied in my own world of thoughts.

Thinking back, the clouds I saw, as I landed, should have been Cirrus. How does it matter anyways? My thoughts were cloudy. It was a very funny feeling within, and I am still unable to classify it three days later as I write this post.


I had left Mumbai,India two hours earlier. It was a rainy day in Mumbai. Within me, multiple versions of myself started reacting all at once, resulting in a heavier down pour of emotions, a little too heavy for me to take.

Little did I realize when I woke up that the end of the day would see me in a different country altogether and it was not going to be easy to leave MY country. Yes, that was the mistake. I had been sub-consciously owning the land and the thoughts of it so close to my heart that it proved very difficult to take the flight take-off from Mumbai Airport.By the way, you don't think I am too patriotic, do you? Well, I don't know if the patriotic version of me was pouring out the non-stop tears.


As I did the last checks before I left home, I could not stop the daughter-in-law version of me shedding a quiet tear.

Many times since dawn, I found it very difficult to control tears whenever I said something to my parents. I was beginning to miss them already. Only when I finally locked my travel bags, did I realize that I was travelling a little far away from home and would not be meeting them for the next few months. The daughter version was causing the maximum tear fall..

Spoke to some relatives, friends and cousins.It was easy to speak, but very hard to hang up. For those who know me, I have always been a Nokia person and I had already started missing my phone calls to different people. There were no tear drops but tears did well up in my eyes. Not sure which version of me was acting up.


Just before I said bye to my parents, I dialled my sister. For the first time, I didn't know what to talk. She was saying something but I don't think I registered anything at all.We were talking nothing in particular for two minutes and then finally the tears rolled down uncontrollably.It takes a little more strength to say bye to your sister.

I was travelling on a very happy note, but it was still difficult to take in the idea of flying out of the country. I burst out crying as I bade bye to my parents. I hated the system at the airport where you are only allowed to look at your folks from behind a glass wall.I thought it was ridiculous. All along when I was waiting in the different queues, I could not stop crying.If you ask me which version of me was crying - patriot, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, friend, cousin - I really don't have an answer.

I turned away and started walking very fast to a distance before I turned to look at my parents. It was easier to let the tears roll down without them seeing me.There was a sudden sense of being all by myself, the sinking feeling I have known every time I moved out of home for long terms - academics and jobs.(It had not been easy for the first few days in each of these places, but once I found my own group of friends, life seemed to be treating me well).


I smiled...., as the aircraft descended at the Muscat International airport. There were no rain clouds. The clouds that were around seemed clear and happy to greet me. Afternoon heat ( believe me, it was not warm air, absolutely hot air, too hot for a 32 degree afternoon temperature ) hit my face as I stepped on to a foreign land for the very first time. I was unarmed (yes, no mobile phone.. if that means something to you...) yet secure because I knew my husband's mobile number!!!!! :-).When we called up home after I reached here, there were no tears.All of us had accepted the fact that I left India that day to join my husband.

I guess, change makes life, the seemingly tough nut to crack and emotions make life, the interesting bundle of puzzles to solve.All nuts can be cracked but all puzzles need not be solved. Sometimes, its just okay to accept an unsolved puzzle. Why do we cry in some instances has no single correct answer. Setting this aside as a puzzle with multiple answers, I am gearing up to crack the new nut in front of me.For sometime from now, the topics and write-ups I write might sound a little different from the ones you have read all these years.Keep reading. May be this is due to the change. Let's get used to it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Just stumbled....

Yes, stumbled... not on a rock or stone or road, but when I kept flicking on the T.V remote after a very long time. I rarely tune into television, but as long as I was in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Tamil songs kept wafting in the air every day whenever I go out and wherever I go. So, almost always I was auto informed of what's happening in the Tamil film industry. Also, there was a Tamil television channel that used to relay some nice music. I really love the language.

When I moved to Bangalore, chances of Tamil songs were lesser than it was earlier. Computer and blogging and working and friends and phone became my circle, with very less time for television or movies. The reviews that you might have read would prove that I am not too much into movies, but in my circle, I own the highest record of watching movies in theatres which is about five or six movies in a year. As for songs or regular T.V shows, I didn't have much chance, so completely lost touch.

Over the last three months, I have been very occupied, so much so, I could not make time for movies or music. Today, with nothing better to do, I switched on the television and searched for one of the Tamil music channels which once used to keep me company, during my cooking ventures, in my Chennai times. I stopped at a particular music channel that was playing one of my favorite songs. Sang along and before I knew, the song was over.

There are some moments and some small joys that you want immediate repeats of. I wanted the same song again, but had to consider waiting for the next good song that might come up in the channel. The hosts went on talking and for the first time I hated listening to talks. The sudden spring of love for Tamil songs was making me impatient.

After all the total ramble of these hosts, I almost stumbled from my seat. The next visual showed dim light and a very frail looking female figure's silhouette shaking her head, which had totally mismanaged, rust brown colored hair all over her eyes and covered a part of her face as she shook her head. The mike in front of her and the dim light and the camera showing a long shot of the same scene made it clear that it was a stage programme. She was wearing something that resembled shorts and a top that was a little too tight for her thin frame.

Not sure why or how I did not really comment about such a scene in a Tamil movie. I understand that the world is moving towards modernisation and people are free to wear what suits them most or what they think suits them best. It is really not my business, is what I still believe. Still, cant help exclaiming how the film makers are just not worried about the impact such scenes may create among the younger generation.

It was a lovely song. I still don't understand why the girl could not have been decently dressed with a fairly decent hair-do, to sing on stage. The words and the music could have created a better impact for a first time listener, had the dress been a little more composed and nice. We cannot blame today's kids. They really don't see any fully-dressed person on screens.

Will the film makers really think about costumes??? I know there are volumes written and spoken about the improper dress sense in the celluloid world, but then what made me almost stumble today from my seat was what you read just now and the declining tamil dress sense.[meaning sensibly dressed and need not be the traditional or conservative dress code.. a lot of people don't get it when I say dress sense.]

I am inclined to believe that the Tamil pride that is mostly associated to the women folks' strength of composure in every way is slowly beginning to fade. True there are more instances to prove this point, but a quiet afternoon like today, makes me wonder if its ever possible to restore the Tamil pride back in place??

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back to the blogging world

Hello people,

As most of you might have noticed, I have not been writing for a little over one whole month, which has never happened in a long time.

I was occupied with some personal whirlwind of pleasant events in my life, that is seeing a magical and dramatic change in my thought flow and composure. So, had kept aside my computer for a while.

Many a time during this period of absence, I did come across a lot of instances ( Oh yes, lot is definitely under-stated, I am tempted to say) that are definitely worth writing about. Not sure, if I may be able to pull off a full-length write-up on the observations dated earlier last month, but then can surely say, you are in for a lot of ramble reading on whatever comes up on my mind, present or past, in the next to next posts.

Keep reading and posting your comments.

Regards,
Dew

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

There is a neat little school.....

There is a neat little school by the river;
Where the palm trees keep swaying in summer;
Where birds keep chirping the whole live long day....

That's how our School Song began. We used to sing this song every Monday morning. I wanted to meet some of my school teachers yesterday. Set out to the school that has contributed significantly to my overall development. There was a familiar wave of excitement that I have felt the last time I stepped inside the portals of the school. I felt at least ten years younger... Note the at least!!!! :)

I don't know if a land surveyor or a supervisor would have looked around the place with such an interest... My eyes automatically scanned the school ground from one corner to another. My school has three grounds and while I was in school, it seemed very long stretch to cover and we used to feel very lazy to walk the entire stretch to attend classes. Yesterday, I had to roam the entire school stretch at least three times and I never felt the stretch to be long.

My pace quickened, the smile never faded. After a very long time, I remember my face had a stapled smile. Yeah, this is an after thought, as I write this post. I was smiling for two full hours :) Never happened in a long time. It felt nice to be loved the same way, as a school student by some of my teachers. Back in school, there were times when the same teachers were a total disappointment to the cheers of the students.. (or so it seemed then ). Now, thinking back, if it were not for some of their strict rules and the then seemingly pointless disciplinary actions, I am not sure, if I would be what I am today.

Awestruck, Surprised, and the generally happy me walked around the whole place and met some of my teachers. They just don't grow old... I wonder if it is to do with staying closely associated with children, but I was super amazed to see some of them, the same way, after twelve long years. Met one of my principals who is very old today. We have always respected her, but when she left school, I was not sure if and when I would meet her again. It was my dream all these years to meet her again. It was by chance that I came to know that she was in town and was counselling in the same school.

Went in to the neat and tidy, calm and quiet room. There are some people for whom you will feel like standing up even if it is midnight and you are fast asleep. This respected sister is one of them in my mind. The last I met her was in 1992. After 18 years, yesterday was quite an experience. We spoke discipline, trends, children, parenting, marriage, culture, prayers, old times, some whereabouts of fellow friends, each others' whereabouts, achievements, health care, career, moral science, academics, teenagers, television and society.

When I stood up to leave, she stood up, blessed me and a said a little prayer for me and my folks and wished me well. What I went through in my mind is quite difficult to put on paper, but what I can say for sure is, some people live for others and they are able to see life in a different angle. This respected sister had one parting shot thought for me and you : Be a beacon of light to those around you. Thinking about it now, my name also means the same.

Wonder if I have been able to live up to that till date, but after I spoke to her yesterday, my mind says : Be a light to those around you. I am not saying it is easy or I am going to be able to keep it up, but then it is definitely worth a shot. I saw the satisfaction and the happiness on sister's face that showed the beauty of her inner self. I think, I understood the proverb : Face is the index of the mind (or is it heart), for the first time, yesterday. Amazing this school is: Even on a casual visit, there is some lesson to take back. :-)

I dialled a friend... Of course I had to tell a school friend that I was in standing in the school grounds thinking of old times.. They say, when you look back, you are growing old.. May be it is true, but this once, growing old feels perfectly nice.

When I walked out, I heard myself singing...

There is a neat little school by the river..
Where the palm trees keep swaying in summer...
Where birds keep on chirping the whole live long day....

The school motto flashed on my mind : Higher and Higher... A school student in her bright white uniform was sprinting towards the school. I smiled and she returned the smile. She had no clue why I smiled, but I did. She will realize someday, like I did yesterday, that she studied in a neat little school by the river.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Splash on Stress

  • Often, stress is a habit.
  • Stress can be permanent if we do not want to get rid of it.
  • Let's not get used to living with stress.
  • Stress is no more than a concept in mechanics, if we want to keep it that way.
  • It is possible to deal with stress, but you have to make time to work on it.
  • Society causes more stress than your self, but in the end you are the only one to be blamed.
  • Stress is directly proportional to perfectionism.
  • It is just okay to be imperfect. Nobody cares anyway.
  • Life need not be as perfect as you have carved it to be. Let's learn to accommodate minor differences and minimize stress.
  • Ego and stress live happily ever after.
  • Blood pressure, diabetics and heart aches are direct gifts of stress.

Monday, June 28, 2010

On being a busy woman

Everyone is busy... That's a known truth, which is why I can never get used to the word in my vocabulary. I have taken a break from work now and I am sharing some responsibilities at home this week. I just decided this morning, that I will take care of everything at home today. Everything just meant cooking and clearing up to me. And what with all the time I have with me, I was sure I could finish everything forenoon and spend time doing nothing at all :)

Meetings and deadlines and time lines and discussions and communications and management were all really associated to office in my mind.. Yes, we all know implicitly that a home has all of these going on all the time, but there is no rule or a board room that decides and dictates these things and the most interesting part is emails don't rule your life each morning like they do at work.. So, these terms don't get explicitly acknowledged or understood by people like me who have spent seven working years in front of a computer. Little did I know that my day was going to be super busy ( Oh yes, I am bent upon using the word now, this minute).

Make coffee and clear up.
Make breakfast and clear up.
Make lunch and clear up.
Answer the door at least thrice during the course of the above schedule.
Answer the phone at least once during cooking.
Wonder and cant stop wondering why people cant call on your mobile phone!!!!
Sprint back to the kitchen after taking the call from the land line phone to check if the favorite curry on the stove has charred to soot.
Breathe a sigh of relief ( trust me, its a lot of blood pressure spike to actually see the most awaited and favorite, carefully attempted dish to become tar black on the cooking vessel) as everything is fine. Either my call was short or I am a smart cook!!!! :)
Attend to the maid who comes in to help me with the clearing up.[ Its a blessing to have someone help you with this work, but most of us don't realize until they decide to take off for a day. I agree that people living outside India do all the work themselves as there is no concept of domestic help but those who can afford to hire a maid for helping with the cleaning, surely appoint one, in India.]

When this much was done it was 10:30 A.M. Per my plans, this was too late for a bath and sitting back to do nothing.. So, I hurried out of the kitchen. Then, I just gave one last glance at the kitchen table and saw a used sauce pan, I had missed to clean up. Quickly washed it off and with the victorious feeling that you get when you are keeping to your plans well, I closed the water tap. The spindle inside decided to break off and the water gushed out. The tap was open maximum and I could imagine a flooded kitchen. So much for my victory. It was a victorious defeat!!! No one, just no one can escape Murphy's law.

The next two hours went in trying to fix the kitchen tap with help from a plumber. All the while, the water was gushing out and I could not help thinking of a long forgotten prose lesson in school which said, " Every drop of water is precious"... :) I did my best to store the water, still couldn't help some loss.

In all when I finally sat back it was 3:00 P.M :) and I didn't expect to sleep off...the next thing I know is a loud phone ring at 5:00 P.M. Woke up with a smile.. since when, a phone ring seemed loud to me?? I don't recall, but I can tell you, its been a wonderful day that finally helped me understand that staying home can keep you busy too. Everyday you may not have a faulty pipe to take care of, but then, it still is quite challenging to meet the needs of your home :)

Yes, I didn't say a house :) I mean a HOME. While fixing a pipe is a 'house' thing, seeing the whole scene through without any tension and not forgetting other priorities/demands of the hour is a 'home' thing. :-) Its a wonderful lesson I learnt today.

Friday, June 25, 2010

International Tamil Conference - Hear say

There are a number of opinions floating around in the state about the International Tamil Conference, being held in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India. I was not too keen on commenting about it. I always believe that there are people who surely know what they are doing and what they are getting into. Often, we may not be in a position to understand why they are doing what they are. So, although I had my own view points about this conference, rather about the large scale spending that is happening in the state for this conference, I chose not to comment.

This morning, I heard an old lady remark : Wonder if someone can take me straight to the conference venue to meet the Chief Minister. I would ask him what is the significance of this conference and the money splurged in it, to the villages in Tamil Nadu where they have to run for about a kilometer's distance to fetch a pail of water.

Apparently, last week there was a T.V programme that showed the plight of a specific village in Tamil Nadu where people struggled so much for water.

Makes me wonder, where are we headed? If we are talking about culture and tradition and keeping up the Tamil trends and heritage alive, it can still be done in small scale.

My opinions aside, I still strongly believe there should be some profit to the country and state that results from this conference, else how would the authorities answer questions that are floating around, like the one I just heard from the well-informed old lady?

Its a strange little political world with quaint big questions floating around!!!!! Keeps your brows knotted in doubt all the time...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The constant surprise that beats everything else

There is so much happening around me. Our house and home is getting ready for a very festive occasion in the family. My mind has been super-busy.


Last night, I almost nodded off to sleep when my phone beeped. A very devoted citizen of the cell phone world, that I am, I picked up to see that one of my good friends was getting admitted in the hospital for her first delivery. Amazing, how this one news keeps me thrilled and excited and concerned every time, in the last so many years. I called her up, wished her well and slept off hoping that I would see the message about her new born this morning. As of this post, which is about eleven hours after the message, she is still in the hospital waiting for her baby. And so am I.

Amidst all the thoughts running on my head, this one thought about the to-be born baby and my friend keeps me too occupied. Said a silent prayer when my phone beeped again.


This message was from another friend who just got into the hospital for her first delivery too. Called her up, wished her well too. Since morning, these two people are on my mind more than anything or anyone else.

Strange how the mind gets excited about a new born baby, every time, no matter what you are doing. Heard of so many child births in my family and friends' circle and every time I have noticed the excitement is just the same. Not one bit less.

There has not been a single instance of child birth that I have heard so far, where the news did not come as a surprise. Plan as much as you want, wait as much as you have to, predict as much as possible, but the good news is usually a complete surprise!!!!Even the doctors cannot explain why they are unable to predict the exact hour, minute and second of a baby's birth.

Labor - Child birth - New born baby; A proof that there is a super power over and beyond our imagination. The only instance where the ego levels for women become sub-zero, I think.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Splash on Responsibility

  • You never know how responsible you can be until you are put in a situation.
  • Responsibility is an off-shoot of commitment and sincerity.
  • If there is no responsibility, there is no sense of satisfaction.
  • It is good to take responsibility for all your actions and words, else it will transform into a blame game which is often very unpleasant on the relationships.
  • Nobody else is responsible for what is happening, except yourself.
  • If your child has to be responsible, take the responsibility yourself first.
  • It is possible to be responsible and still be relaxed.
  • It is good to be responsible for the happiness of your loved ones, because that is all there is in life at any given point in time.
  • If you want to cut down on our monstrous ego levels, just try to be responsible for one person's happiness, at least once in a day.
  • Things just happen, and you only assume responsibility most of the times.
  • Responsibility is a big word; Its good to play it well for a happy living.
  • You cannot avoid responsibilities; if you want to, sometimes you can minimize them a little.
  • You never know your ability till you keep up your responsibility.
  • Responsibility shows yourself to you.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Turning point...............

Dear Readers,

Hope this post finds you in the best of your health and cheers :-)

I may not be able to write in the regular frequency for a few months from now. I am slightly occupied with life's present personal action-packed season. All is well,but just that I wont be able to blog as often as I used to for the next three months. Will keep posting on and off though.

I wish you all very well and hope you keep that beautiful smile of yours on, no matter what.

Best wishes,

Keep smiling,
Dew

Friday, June 04, 2010

On Spring

Most of the tropical India is tiding through scorching heat of the summer and I am writing about spring here. :-)

During a conversation with a friend yesterday, I heard this line:

Spring comes once a year.

How true!!! Well, its not that I am hearing about seasons for the first time, but then there was a zen moment when I understood that we cannot expect everything to go on the way it is.

Suddenly, some proverbs and sayings made total sense:

Nothing lasts forever, not even your troubles
This will also pass through
There is always a time for everything

Looks like, nature has all the laws of life painted clearly. It seems that it has answers to all questions that our restless minds raise all the time. Its just that we need to learn to connect with nature to understand the norms of life...

The sea, the breeze, the mountain, the seasons, the sun, the moon, the stars, the sky, the wind, the brook, the stream, the sand, the tree, the bird, the cloud, the rain, the flower, the grass - All of them, I am sure, have many more lessons to teach. we just need to search to follow.

Quick Staple : Spring comes once in a year.

Accept the hot summer, the chill winter, and the moderate autumn to welcome the brightness of the enjoyable spring. When it is spring, just enjoy the time.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Saying Good Bye is and was never easy

I remember the minute I walked out of my college hostel in May 2002. Apart from the fact that the whole idea of parting from the college hostel life was tough for my mind to take, what I recall till date, is the fact that I didn't know till the last day, that some people would miss me.

The next time, it was when I made some friendships in my work places. Chance had it that I switched quite a number of jobs and so had to say good byes that many times. Although, I can say that the number of friends I could connect to in different work places were not as many as I had in college, it still was difficult to say Good Bye. With some people, I had a tough time battling with my emotions when I said Bye. With others, I didn't know that I would have made an impact that made it so difficult for them to let me go.

The next Good bye memory was when I left a city to move to another. It was tough to see the 'Thank you, Come again' board that caught my eye when my bus moved out of the city. I remember wiping off the tears that rolled out without my permission. I still don't know why I get so attached to some places and I don't think I will ever be able to explain.

Now, I am moving out of this city in a week's time. I cannot believe that its been three plus years in Bangalore and I will be leaving in another week. I met of my friends today. This time, although I felt the same difficulty in saying Good Bye, I was able to balance much better than before. I also noticed that this time, the people I met found it very difficult to say Good Bye to me..

What I have learnt about the associations we make with people :

Some people come your way to do something for you.
Some people come your way to take something from you.
Some people come your way to support you.
Some people come your way to take support from you.
Some people come your way to teach you something.
Some people come your way to learn something from you.
Some people mean a lot to you.
and
You mean a lot to some people.

And we will never know why we are put in the company of some people to go through some expriences. This association with people is the most unfathomable wonder in the world next to the Sun and Moon and Children.

Definitely you are what you are because of the people who have been around you. Both pleasant and unpleasant experiences that your life is blessed with, are due to people. The very idea that you are blessed with some people to talk to, to crib about, to fight with, to confide in, to have fun with, and to just be with is in itself a wonder. Imagine, if each of us was in an island and did not know the company of people, would we ever know what it is like to say Good Bye??

I know from experience that eventually we will all accept the truths of parting and moving on in life. I also know that when reason meets the season, we will get back in touch. I think, that's why we get to stay in touch with some and lose touch with others.

And one more realization is, we do not get to know the reason or season.. we do not get to decide who will stay in touch and who will move on.. All we can do is give our best to the people we meet, any day. Your best and your neighbour's best need not be the same level.

You never know how much you have actually meant to someone and someone has meant to you, till you say Good bye. All said, Saying Good Bye is never easy.

Friday, May 28, 2010

On dress sense

  • Dress-up to attract respectful looks.
  • Your dress defines you and defends you.
  • The cost of your dress does not matter as much as the impression it gives about the cultured person in you.
  • Its good to check your dress sense once in a while.
  • In a crowd, its best to wear dress that is comfortable to every one's eyes.
  • If how you wear a dress does not matter to you, then you must be willing to face consequences, often unpleasant.
  • Dress sensibly as much as possible.
I am ranting off like this because I chanced to see two improperly dressed pretty girls day before yesterday night. This is not the first time I see an improperly dressed young lady, but the first time when the girls behaved like there was no one else around.

I wanted to write a whole post about this, but right now, I don't have the time to reword my language to fit my blog's principles. Some topics are very sensitive and the scene I saw about dress sense surely is one of them. Cant take a chance now when I am in a hurry.So, just decided to write a splash on all that came to my mind about dress sense.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'm feeling lucky!!!!

I am definitely not talking about clicking the I'm feeling lucky button on the google search page. I was in the best of my cheers this morning when I set out to office. I wanted to wear Jasmine flowers that according to me would compliment my hair style today. You cannot get out early in the morning and expect Jasmine flowers just like that in a completely residential locality like the one I live in. I knew it well, so just kept aside the thought and continued my walk.

Just when I shut my mind's non-stop questions on how to get Jasmine flowers at this time of the day, a flower vendor crossed my way. I stopped her and asked if she had Jasmine.. I have never seen any one's face brighten up so much, in a long time. She was very happy to uncover her bounty of fresh Jasmine flowers neatly woven into flower strands. I asked for some flowers and immediately pinned them on to my supposedly well-dressed hair.

Every time, I wear Jasmine flowers, I can tell you that my feel-good factor is very high and usually shows up as a Smile. This time, it was just me and the vendor lady, a gulmohar tree, slightly drenched black tar roads and clear morning air with no traffic. The scene was perfect and the smile constant on my face. The lady smiled too, as she counted the coins with her to hand me back the change for the rupee note I had given her.

We were standing close to the compound wall of a house. I realized this, when suddenly in between the smiles and counting of the change, an old lady gave me a beautiful fresh-plucked yellow rose. She was in her garden and had been watching the scene outside. I smiled, for I think roses are the best of God's creations in the floral world. I said a 'Thank you' to her and pinned up the rose as an added decor with the Jasmines on my tresses. We spoke for the first time in one whole year that I have spent in the same locality.

As I was just about to leave, the flower vendor, still smiling, gave another strand of jasmine. This one had some orange flowers too. I thanked her and added that also to my heavily decorated hair-do.

The first set of flower strands were because I wanted to wear them and it felt nice. The next two added collections were to share the 'joy of giving' extended by the flower vendor and the old lady. It felt nicer.The whole episode added an extra touch to my cheerful start today. Somewhere deep down in me, I felt that lady luck also seemed to be smiling at me.

It was a wonderful feeling... I logged in at work and typed a quick email to my lucky charm friend saying: I'm feeling lucky today... :-)

Some days are blessed with small joys that leave you smiling for a long time.. The Yellow Rose studded Jasmine flowers are still making me smile :-)

Every second person I meet, asks me" What's special today?".. There might be a thousand reasons, but I surely know that its just the feel-good factor in me (which I owe to the flower vendor and the old lady), that makes me look grand today. Makes me agree that God does send gifts in unique, quiet, and nice ways, without satin ribbons.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Drizzle, Rain, Laila

Bangalore weather has been awesome since morning.. As I enjoyed my morning walk on my way to work, I wished that my folks in Tamilnadu also enjoyed some nice cool summer time.. I am having a super-good summer morning and was reminded of my last weekend summer morning in my home town in Tamil Nadu. It has been scorching hot and humid there; reports on the phone from friends confirmed the same. So, I felt it a little unfair that one part of my world was struggling to cope with the summer heat and I am singing my way to office accompanied by cool breeze in a clear bluish grey sky background.

When I come in, my world changes and I am not too much of a news person. So, didn't have a clue about the rains in Chennai till my news-savvy colleagues started talking about it. Soon enough, I had a call from a friend in Chennai. When asked about the rains, he said " Yes, its raining. Laila has been troublesome.."...

I didn't want to ask who Laila was.. I am generally good at interpretations ( sometimes misinterpretations too) or so I thought. After a while, it struck me that he has already answered about the rain; so this Laila must be out of context.... I guessed later in the conversation that this rain was due to a cyclonic depression which has been named "Laila"...

Wonder why they personify cyclones, storms and winds and depressions as a female? [Indian Mythological tales have the wind personified as a God called 'Vayu'. There is no equivalent Goddess name.]

Agreed there has to be a name for the storm or depression for the reports and records, but I think there should be a better way to name them. Don't you think so??

Women are supposed to be gentle and kind. Even if you don't agree with me on this when talking about today's women, I think, at least its better not to analogize storm and cyclone with women. That way, if not as gentle as breeze and as caring as soft drizzle, women will definitely understand that they should not be as harsh as the cyclone.

Dear men who read this, if you are going to come up with one nice reason why the cyclone has been named 'Laila', without offending your women readers, then I can publish your comment.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nostalgic

The first greeting card from a school friend;
The first bouquet of roses from a colleague;
The first birthday surprise from a manager;
The first day in college hostel;

Each of these thoughts and a lot of such special thoughts can rewind your mind's film strip back to so many years of fond thoughts and memories.

For the last few days I have been getting back in touch with a lot of my old friends from school, college and summer vacation play mates. Each meeting, each conversation, brings back a lot of thoughts and nice memories from the past. Honestly, nothing seems to have changed between the old friends and me except that we have all grown-up to be taller, stronger ( or weaker, at times) and more responsible.

Earlier last week, I caught an old summer vacation play mate on the phone ( how I found out the number is beyond the scope of this post ) and before we knew we were discussing anything and everything under the sun... and when I finally hung up I realized that I had spoken to her for forty minutes.. Forty minutes after 12 years. Made my day..

Several instances with friends over phone has been happening for the last few months and each time I realize just this : The conversation today is the result of the treasured moments we had spent in the past.

I can conclude: What we do today will become tomorrow's treasured memories and at the end of the day, that's all we have. :-)

Cant go back to school now to listen to your favorite teacher's favorite English poetry session.
Cant go back to college now to sit on the pavement and tease a class mate crossing your way.
Cant go back to your first workplace and enjoy the tea break with the first set of colleagues.

There are so many moments we cannot regain now, but we surely have some memories. Let's not waste today trying to weave the entire future or dwell in the mistakes of the past or 'should-have-done' thoughts. Instead, let's live today and give our best to the moment right now, so it becomes a treasured memory, of the beautiful future, that is yet to unfold for us and our gifted circle of people.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dear Teens and Early Twenties

Let's take every chance to respect womanhood, in all the small ways we can:
  • Tease a girl if you feel like, but ensure you do not hurt her;
  • Flirt around if you must, but respect the woman in her;
  • Yell if you have to, but do not abuse her;

Due to an unexplained sense of responsibility towards college students. May be the outcome of a pending post, but this gist could not wait any longer.

Motherhood - a new dimension altogether

Last month, I had a chance to meet my friend who happily announced that her foetus is eight weeks old. The excitement is imaginable but I could not relate to it much until she told me about her first touchy experience of listening to the growing little one's heart beat. Now, I do not have a book reference to when in the entire gestation period, what development happens, but I do know that the eyes that were talking to me, were more thrilled, more sentimental, more joyous, more peaceful than they have ever been. We sat in silence to dwell in the moment - She, in her mom-to-be excitement and I, in my introspection of how her thoughts have taken a new dimension altogether. It seemed like the girl sitting in front of me was a new person, very different from the person I have known for the last three years.

Earlier this month, my niece kept me constantly marvelled at how every one's lives changed with her in our lives.

Last week, I had an email from a friend who has expressed her thoughts about being able to connect with the little one growing in her, on her first-ever blog post. I love the first timers' writings. And it is more interesting, if the writer is your friend. So, I clicked the link and was completely surprised to see the new person in her. She had expressed her joy of seeing the picture of her growing baby's tiny feet on the scanner's monitor - whatever that is called in Bio-medical instrumentation. I have not met her in a long time now, but I can surely say that she is different from the forever-teenager mind, I have known her as for the last 12 years.

Day before, I was visiting a friend whose three year old was keeping her busy. It was amazing to see how much energy these mothers can have when it comes to running after the children. Every minute is a surprise. Again, I was seeing a different person here - She and I know each other for about 17 years now and have been in constant touch, but for the last few years, I did see a lot of difference. I see her as an epitome of patience now.

The only answer that explains the unseen difference is "Motherhood". Presently, the dimensions of this subject is more vast than one can write and explain, is my take...

One word : If you cannot understand her, just accept her. For all that she has been through for you, sacrificed for you, done for you, you will never ever be able to repay her.

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