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Friday, December 26, 2014

Do, if you dare

I have seen lives ruin, homes shatter and promising futures dim out because of one deathly habit, yet I cannot understand the inducements it holds. The allurements of nicotine is strong and above rationality.

One of my very dear friend once asked me if I have to put my finger on one such habit in men that I really hate and beyond my tolerance which one would It be? I did not have to think long and the answer was straight and prompt: Smoking. (Being brought up in Indian scenario, incidences of women smokers is still not common and almost alien to me, and belonging to muslim community the evils of alcohol is equally remote).

My maternal great grandfather failed his lungs because of his addiction to beedi (a rustic form of cigarettes) and that heralded the downfall of his empire. I don't blame him for the consequences of his death, but he was a very commendable man and deserved a better death.

One of my aunt's husband was a chain smoker and died of lung cancer  within 13 years of their marriage. He was a very gregarious man and had thousands of colourful dreams. It took away his entire earnings and savings to try and save his life and in the end he left a void in his wife and two little boys lives, plus some really pressing and heavy debts. and I know how different their lives would have been if he had only kicked the habit and was still here.

My father's uncle invited Asthma on himself due to the same nagging habit of smoking, my mother's uncle died of heart failure because he couldn't kick the habit despite young with several family responsibilities and doctor's strict warning, and more recently one of my sister's brother-in-law suffered a nearly fatal gall-bladder infection as a result of his heavy smoking and had to have it chopped off to save his life.

If it did anybody any good, it was understandable, but God only knows what made man to invent such a nasty habit, and what hooks people to its horrible smoke! Of all thing I know, humans were and are better off without it.





A beautiful poem contributed by a wonderful friend I met recently, Jeanneclaire Probst.

And I do know a few men who won over it and whom I salute for their will-power and achievement.

My mother prides over her father who loved his family above himself, and when his mother-in-law showed him sense, on my mother's birth, to quit smoking for his better health and future, he took heed and never touched a cigarette again. Whenever he felt craving for it since then he looked at my mother and the innocent trust and love in her eyes steeled his will.

My uncle himself is so grateful for that one slap my father gave him when he was caught smoking for the first time. He says it was his wake-up call and he could not dare touch another cigarette for years after that and soon understood my father's care and his own good in that one slap.

Would love to read your thoughts on this post.

All those who smoke, just give this blog a serious thought and which is a better option for you?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Honey-sweet trail of travels

We all love a good journey. May it be a casual visit to a relative in neighbouring town, a family vacation to a well-acclaimed destination, a day off at our favourite club or a business trip abroad. Whatever the reason, whatever the destination, as long as the trip is pleasurable, hassle-free, non-disastrous and embarked with the right companion/s (even if it our own self) it is always fun, memorable and refreshing. Few, who are a bit more of the adventurous kind, do love a little hassles and off-the-track experiences, but at the end of the day- all's well that ends well.

But those journeys that we embark on with kids have a different magic and uniqueness to it.

Visit http://membership.clubmahindra.com/TeddyTravelogues/index.html for some amazing travel stories with children.

I still recall the family vacations and school-picnics of my childhood with awe. Even after so many years, their magic is not lost to my own eyes. Those fake treasure-hunts, excavations and explorations arranged by our school staff on our trip to the countryside hamlets near our town when we were in our primary school. My first trip to the family-resort "Silvan Villa" in our home-town, our first visit to the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium and Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore when we were in high school, and my visits to Tamilnadu via the meandering-descent of hillocks near Pernambat. All these trips are so special for their once-in-a-blue-moon experiences and the magical turn of events their offered.

I still remember how excited I used to become at the prospects of train-journeys. For me the chuk-buk chuk-buk sound of the engine and the off-the-road trail amidst lush-greenery transported to a world of magic and surprises. I especially used to look forward for night-fall when the tiny fluttering glow-worms would appear to add the finishing touch.

But the travel-experiences involving my little nephew have a different-feel in themself. He is around 4 years old now. I remember the first time we took him outdoor on a little trip to the neighbouring town. He must have been just over 5-6 months old then, but he was so amazed by the entire new experience, to realise that the world was bigger than the confines of our home he was used to till then and so many people rushing about in strange seaters (read, vehicles) and all, he clung tightly to our fingers by his tiny fists and kept startling and looking around at the chaos around and every new sound his mind registered. He fell asleep in an hour or so but his expressions and trust in us are embedded in our hearts forever.

He now goes to a play-school in Bangalore and recently went on a little-trip to the famous Cubbon Park there from school. It was his first school trip without his parents or any family member around and we were all wondering as to how it will all turn out for him. The first he did after returning home that evening was call up my mother and relate the happenings.

You can guess the magic and excitement of the novel experience he had, in the conversation that ensued between them.

He: You know! I went to the park today and came back just now!"
My mother: How wonderful! Did you enjoy, love?
He: Yes! You know, granma! it was VERY good.
(not waiting for any further questions he went on himself).
You know! There was a VERY BIG train also there. (meaning, the famous toy train meant for joy-rides). It even goes round like a 'D'...
My mother: Really! That's amazing, precious.
He: And you know! The bus we went in... of our school! It was also SO BIG!

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's natural to fear, but...

Fear is a very natural emotion. There is nothing to be ashamed of about it. It is the most obvious reaction and it makes us realise our fall-backs and find our strengths.

But when fear becomes an obstacle rather than a constriction in life, and when it is rather irrational it is so much more of a necessity than choice to defeat it. Running away from Fear is never a good option. It will follow us wherever we go. We need to face it and overcome it to reclaim our life, our worth and victory that is ours.

The new mountain dew video (Tamil) captures the very essence of human struggle against fear and the sense of liberation on overcoming it so wonderfully, you really need to watch it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wsbgh3U7tnY&sns=em

Join the fight against fear https://www.facebook.com/mountaindewindia

We all have such stories to share where we had our devils to fight, our own battles to win and our proverbial territory to claim.

The demon I had to fight in my student years was stage-fear. I was a very studious, witty and out-front student. I never even batted my eye-lids when I had to ask the teachers a question, express a doubt, stand by my friends or even clarify my actions. I don't recall as to why, but I used to freeze before the mike and audience on stage. My words would get caught in my throat, my mind would go blank and after few minutes of hopeless struggle I would retract with a feeble "thank-you." I had even given up enrolling in such competitions after I failed three or four times.

But one incident which stands out is when my favourite teacher in higher-primary school enrolled my name for a speech competition on her own accord for she had observed my communication and expressive skills and believed I stood a good chance to win. For her sake I willed myself one more time, and prepared with all my heart and soul. I even rehearsed before my family and friends to subdue my fear. My sister had even adviced me to not look at the crowd but at the wall behind them.

But when the big-day came, and my name was announced, I had only gone past the initial acknowledgement of the judges, teachers and students present, and the topic at hand when a wandering glance at the gathering made my lips go dry, my thoughts wayward and my limbs cold. I stood there glancing from my favourite teacher in one corner, to my friends in the crowd, to my sister in the far corner. Tears began to blur my view and words completely unconnected to each other stumbled from my mouth trying to make one proper sentence. I never felt stage-fear more strongly or more real before then. It was me versus my fear...and my fear won.

I couldn't even manage a sorry or thank-you. I simply stole away my eyes from all those who knew I had prepared a good speech and had expected a good show, and retired to a corner seat trying to with-hold my tears for I didn't want any more attention.

My parents and friends were sympathetic towards me after it was over, my sister spent hours discussing the whole disaster trying to find an antidote, and my favourite teacher didn't even as much as mention a word about it. She was just as usual. It was as if I had not even participated. I couldn't decide if her silence was more hard on me or her remarks would have been.

But i had never felt more humiliated before my own self, and it had me I began to participate in every competition, debates and assembly slots I felt up to. For me, it was a matter of my self-esteem now. I didn't care if I won or lost. I didn't care how other participants performed. It was my battle against my fear and I had to win over it.

It was not easy. I fumbled, I failed, I lost everytime but every time I also progressed a little further on, maybe a minute, a paragraph, a point or almost to the end, but every time I fought a little longer and every time I felt my enemy become weaker.

My liberation came in the form of the special personality-building lectures and work-shops my high-school arranged for us in our matriculation year, and finally when I joined my graduation course. The lecturers, classmates and ambience were so friendly and fostering, my strength and confidence grew stronger and stronger. It gave me a whole new perspective and platform. I took part in personality development courses, several seminars, projects, debates and competitions and also won quite a handful prizes and trophies. But i would rate my crowning glory to be the day when I graduated.

It wasn't required for me go on-stage, nobody expected me to nor forced me to do it. But I was so grateful to my Almighty, my parents, my sister, my friends and my teachers who had supported me through all my ups-and-downs, showed me the light and never let me give up.

I went on stage by my own will before the entire college- staff, administration, lecturers, students, their parents and the special guests and gave my thank-you speech without fumbling, without missing a word and without stealing my gaze from the audience.

Friday, December 12, 2014

We, the solution

Whenever we think of the terms dirty, unhygienic or low standards of living the image we get in our minds is of slums and forsaken lands now used as garbage yards, where people have no sophistication in behaviourism, and live a crude and rustic life.

I agree these areas do need reformative measures and awareness of personal hygiene and sanitation on a large scale. But are areas outside these slums in cities and towns free from such menaces?

In the very heart of such big dream cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, etc the truth is far from being anything dream-like. Take a fleeting look at their bustling market areas, heavy traffic points, bus stations, railway junctions (even railway tracks), street corners and harbours. Everywhere you find packets of wastes, strewn garbages, open drainages, walls and side-walks sprayed with spits and nauseous fluids.

Then we cry hoarse over the increasing pollution, deadly diseases and disease-bearing insects and bacterias, lose of immunity, and lack of preventive and remedial measures.

Without accepting that we are the problem. We allow such bad habits to foster by silently overlooking them, by slackening our own habits over simple excuses and contributing to the increasing litter directly or unknowingly.

The other day one early afternoon as I was returning home attending a quick errand with my mother, we noticed a little toddler in his uniform relieving himself at a street corner his mother standing vigil behind him. The deed, though not in a good stride, was not so prominent as it is an usual occurrence in every city, town and village in India. But actually shocked us was after the child was done, they both very leisurely strolled to their home just across the street.

We just couldn't comprehend why on earth the mother couldn't rush the child a few more steps to the home instead of letting him defacate just across the street? Is public hygiene and proper sanitation measures only a myth? Or public and personal health so available to be taken for granted?

It is just not the story of a single mother-child pair. It is not even the plight of only those rural areas where proper urinals and hygiene standards are not available. How many amongst us Indians can claim to have never been a witness to such acts?

It is so true healthy sanitation habits and hygiene begins at home. It is our duty to teach our children proper cleanliness and hygiene, and also set proper example, for them to follow and for our own good.

It's really simple yet effective everyday tasks. Like,
-Recall what we learnt as children.
-Follow what we preach.
-Believe in what we teach.
-Use hand sanitisers and encourage others too.
-Use effective disinfectants.
-Do not litter around.
-Do not spit on streets and pavements.
-Use polythene bags if nauseous.
-Discard waste according to government guidelines.
-Recycle.
- Join Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and like-minded individuals in the Banega Swachh India campaign initiated by NDTV network and Dettol India by visiting the link here:

http://swachhindia.ndtv.com/

Do not discard the obvious into oblivion. We can be the change. Laziness can be lethal sometimes.

Wake up. It is our nation and our responsibility.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Swachch Bharat! My clean India

I am often tagged teasingly by my friends and peers as "The Environmentalist" due to my commitment to ensure proper hygeine, my efforts to combat littering and ensure proper disposals in my presence. It is all in good fun and it never hinders me from my commitment, because I know I am right. I am determined, because I love my nation.

From infancy we are taught that cleanliness is second to Godliness. We are trained to not only to keep our body, mind, manners and books clean, but our surroundings and the entire eco-system as well.

As children we are given lectures about the importance of hygiene and the hazards of litter. Rewards and punishments were used to enhance this message and imbibe in us such healthy and good habits. Whenever we made an effort at cleanliness we were given accolades and rewarded little medals and candies; whenever we were caught erring, like unpolished shoes, dirty unclipped nails, littering the school-premises, etc, we were made to stand dunce outside classrooms and scolded before in front of our peers to ensure such acts would not be repeated.

But, as we grew up reality was far from the innocent lessons we were taught as kids. There is little resemblance to it with the public en-masse. Furthermore, we see how little others care, and at least think about it. Consequently, we wonder, "What the heck does it matter? Why should we continue picking up after others? Who cares? What difference does it make anyway? How can I alone change the world?"

And we too joined the crowd.

What we fail to realise is that WE CAN BE THE CHANGE. If we would do our bit, encourage our companions to do the same, and try to persuade our neighbours like-wise, we can make a difference. If we show that we care, those who look up to us will care too. If we don’t follow the crowd, and do our tiny bit, each and everyone of us, we can rectify the situation.

It is really strange if we think about it. We cannot bear to hold on to a chocolate wrapper, an empty packet of chips or cookies, fruit-peels or a soiled tissue cloth until we find a waste bin and simply discard it on the spot. But, we don’t mind walking through or driving past the same litter on the streets.

When the same litter accumulates near our homes; or is strewn in our court-yards by the winter breeze and clogs our drains; when the same litter emits foul odours during summer and causes flooding of rain-water during monsoons; when the same litter causes pollution and breeds air/water-borne diseases and food-infestations, we raise hell and blame everyone except ourselves. We refuse to see that we are the cause of all these evils.

We are being redeemed for our own mistakes! If we had not littered in the first place, none of these problems would have occurred?

To make our India really clean and beautiful, we need to clean our thought-process first and become children at heart once again. We must do what we did as children to keep ourselves, our homes and our surroundings clean, with the same diligence, zeal and belief.

Also do use proper urinals and public toilets. Do not spit on the streets,

Maintain personal care and hygeine to avoid all illnesses.

Separate your garbage according to Government guidelines.

Recycle.

The erring habits are really nasty and shameful for a civilized soceity and following the aforementioned points is really healthy and easy.

Join Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and like-minded individuals in the Banega Swachh India campaign initiated by NDTV network and Dettol India by visiting the link here:

http://swachhindia.ndtv.com/

Swachch Bharat! My clean India

From childhood we have been taught cleanliness is next to Godliness. We were tutored since infancy to not only keep our body, mind, manners and books clean, but also our surroundings and entire eco-system clean too. We were given lectures and lessons on how to avoid spreading litter, cleaning them if any and the good and bad effects of cleanliness and the lack of it respectively.

To encourage us further on and to imbibe in us such healthy and good habits the means of rewards and punishment were used. We were given accolades and appreciation, little medals and candies whenever we made an effort at cleanliness; and whenever we were caught erring, we were made to stand dunce outside classrooms, and scolded before the gathering to ensure such acts would not be repeated.

But as we grew up and saw little and dwindling resemblance in public en-masse from the innocent lessons we were taught as kids, and also how little the affects were seen and even as to how little others cared, we thought "what the heck does it matter to continue doing the mundane task? Who cares? What difference does it make? and, how much can I alone change the world?"

And we too joined the crowd.

What we didn't realise is- WE ARE THE CHANGE. If we would do our bit, encourage our companion to do the same, and try to persuade our neighbours like-wise, it will make a difference. If we would care those who look up to us will care too. If we wouldn't join the crowd, our tiny bit of effort would join to contradict the harm!

*I have often been tagged teasingly by my friends and group-mates as "The environmentalist" for my efforts to ensure cleanliness by avoiding littering the grounds and ensure proper disposals in my presence. But it was all in good fun and it never hindered me from my commitment, for I knew I was right and I did it because I love my nation.*

To make our India really clean and beautiful, we need to clean our thought-process first and become a child at heart again. Do what we did as children to keep our surroundings clean, with the same diligence, zeal and belief.

Also, do use proper urinals and public hygeine,
Do not spit on the streets,
And follow the waste segregation technique propagated by the government. It very easy and effective way to channelise proper decomposition and recycle. We only need to discard the wastes separately according to their nature.

It is really strange if we think about it. The very bit of chocolate and chips wrappers or a rag of cloth which we cannot bear to keep few minutes longer till we can have access to proper garbage bins and so throw it off just then and there on the streets, it just doesn't bother us to walk through the same litter or drive past it.

But when the same litter gathers by our house-corners, OR is strewn in our court-yard by the winter breeze, OR when it clogs our drains and emits odour during summer, OR causes flooding of rain-water during monsoons, OR the corporation simply accumulates the same garbage at street corners and sets it on fire (because it is too messy and expensive to sort it out, recycle or properly decompose) AND the smoke suffocates us, OR the resulting pollution breeds air/water-borne diseases and food-infestations, we raise hell and blame all except ourselves not realising we were the root cause of all these evils.

We are being redeemed for our own mistakes! If we had not littered at the first place why would have any of these problems occured?

Do think it over and do the needful. It is for our nation and our own good.

Follow the swachh India campaign started in association with Dettol India at: http://swachhindia.ndtv.com/

Friday, November 14, 2014

Love

Why does love seem so farce to me now?
Like a figment of my own imagination!
Like a killer escaped from the gallows of truth,
A dream which better not be.

The promises in lore seem prism of cheat,
The words of tradition all wrung with despair.
Why is it so difficult to believe someone would live for me?
Or that one will ever be worthy of my death?

Why does love seem so farce to me now?
Like the best enchantment of a wizard great!
A trap set by unseen eagles above,
A fisherman's net, a serpent's lair.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Teeny life's big troubles.

There are many memories of childhood that remain with us always. One such memory which my family often recall is when I was only a few months old and had a severe bout of dehydration.

They say I had to remain hospitalised in the local doctor's clinic. My parents had to stay awake all night holding me in their lap in turns, while I drifted between periods of light sleep, diarrhea, long wails of pain, and discomfort.

The night passed like a nightmare over my mother who wouldn't leave my side even when my father would take over the turn to cradle me. She would sit beside me, reciting verses of healing she remembered, blowing them over me and praying to The Almighty for my speedy recovery and health.

My father too was so consumed in worry, he couldn't catch a wink of sleep nor care for it.

Even my elder sister, who was around 5 years old then and staying over at my grandparents' home for the night, suffered no less. She was so stung by our parents' absence that she hardly found sleep and would awaken time and again crying to be by their side. From her queries it was even evident she was quite scared for me too.

It was only when my health restored near dawn and the doctor allowed my parents to take me home that their health and happiness returned.

My family has used Dabur Chyawanprash since then as part of our regular diet.

Learn more of this,wonder stuff here: https://
www.liveveda.com/daburchyawanprash/

Surely, parents love and care is the most precious gift in life, and a happy and healthy child is the heart of the family.

I'm linking this post to indiblogger's prompt "A healthy child makes a happy home."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tributes and traditions

In the concluding part of this series, let's look into some of the prominent forms our tribute to the martyrs takes and the various traditions that have evolved with regard to it over the centuries.

The present:

One of the notorious forms of tribute known to the world at large is that done by the Shia muslims who take out procession in dramatic recreation of the one taken by Yazid, who disintergrated the head and limb of Imam Hussayn and several warriors and displayed them atop lances, after declaring victory in the battle and holding in captive the family and survivors of Hussayn's side.

Shias are a division of muslims who emerged as a consequence of conflicts which occured during the rule of Hazrath Ali (father of Imam Hussayn).

The Shias immerse themselves in complete mourning annually during Muharram by shunning all pleasures in this month, reciting eulogies (poems of lamentation) and taking out such processions with acts of chest-beating and self-flagellation.

The origin of this form is obscure, but as far as I understand (forgive me if I'm wrong) it must be adopted from the lamentations of the people of Kuffa (some of the earliest shias who had sworn their faith and support to Imam Hussayn but back-tracked on witnessing a single display of wrath by Yazid) who joined the procession taken by Yazid, crying their hearts out and beating their chests, regretting their cowardice and helplessness.

To know the details of the above incident read the section of "events before the battle" in the wikipedia article of Battle of karbala.

I'm really in blind as to when, where or how the self-flagellation became a part of the ritual, but it was around 4th or 5th century Hijri (islamic calendar). Long after the battle had been fought in 1st century Hijri.

The Sunni division of Islam, however do not express such passionate forms of mourning, instead display a silent form of mourning by recalling the incidents of Karbala, paying their homage to the martyrs by reciting verses from the Holy Quran, distributing food and charity in their,name, and reciting eulogies in gatherings.

Few sufi-shrines and sects of sunni do take out simpler form of procession, but it is not done on large scale or joined by mass as it was an act done by Yazid and the Sunni's condemnation of him repels them from adopting any similarity to him.

But as many experts say and I believe the actual tribute which will honour the warriors cause and which they too would dearly wish for, is us to derive lessons from their lives and death, and inculcate them in our lives, to differentie good from evil, just from savagery and stand strong against every wrong-doing, follow the divine principles and never shun from our duties even in the most darkest hour.

I had a short yet effective discussion the other day on facebook about the message of karbala. You can access it here.

But one really wonderful message which this annual observance sends out is, and which must be of some solace to the warriors is, that the Shia and Sunni cults are so opposed to each other almost always, sometimes to heart-wrenching extent, yet in this hour of grief both come together to share the sorrow as a true family would. They stand united even through their diversities. A cause Hazrath Ali and his amazing family always sought to achieve- communal unity.

In the concluding part of this series, let's look into some of the prominent forms our tribute to the martyrs takes and the various traditions that have evolved with regard to it over the centuries.

The present:

One of the notorious forms of tribute known to the world at large is that done by the Shia muslims who take out procession in dramatic recreation of the one taken by Yazid, who disintergrated the head and limb of Imam Hussayn and several warriors and displayed them atop lances, after declaring victory in the battle and holding in captive the family and survivors of Hussayn's side.

Shias are a division of muslims who emerged as a consequence of conflicts which occured during the rule of Hazrath Ali (father of Imam Hussayn).

The Shias immerse themselves in complete mourning annually during Muharram by shunning all pleasures in this month, reciting eulogies (poems of lamentation) and taking out such processions with acts of chest-beating and self-flagellation.

The origin of this form is obscure, but as far as I understand (forgive me if I'm wrong) it must be adopted from the lamentations of the people of Kuffa (some of the earliest shias who had sworn their faith and support to Imam Hussayn but back-tracked on witnessing a single display of wrath by Yazid) who joined the procession taken by Yazid, crying their hearts out and beating their chests, regretting their cowardice and helplessness.

To know the details of the above incident read the section of "events before the battle" in the wikipedia article of Battle of karbala.

I'm really in blind as to when, where or how the self-flagellation became a part of the ritual, but it was around 4th or 5th century Hijri (islamic calendar). Long after the battle had been fought in 1st century Hijri.

The Sunni division of Islam, however do not express such passionate forms of mourning, instead display a silent form of mourning by recalling the incidents of Karbala, paying their homage to the martyrs by reciting verses from the Holy Quran, distributing food and charity in their,name, and reciting eulogies in gatherings.

Few sufi-shrines and sects of sunni do take out simpler form of procession, but it is not done on large scale or joined by mass as it was an act done by Yazid and the Sunni's condemnation of him repels them from adopting any similarity to him.

But as many experts say and I believe the actual tribute which will honour the warriors cause and which they too would dearly wish for, is us to derive lessons from their lives and death, and inculcate them in our lives, to differentie good from evil, just from savagery and stand strong against every wrong-doing, follow the divine principles and never shun from our duties even in the most darkest hour.

But one really wonderful message which this annual observance sends out is, and which must be of some solace to the warriors is, that the Shia and Sunni cults are so opposed to each other almost always, sometimes to heart-wrenching extent, yet in this hour of grief both come together to share the sorrow as a true family would. They stand united even through their diversities. A cause Hazrath Ali and his amazing family always sought to achieve- communal unity.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Day that was...

The Event (battle of Karbala and the martyrs):

Imam Hussayn, the blessed grandson of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them), laid down his life to defend liberty, truth, what was right and the cause of Islam from the tyrant and heinous successor to calliphate Yazid. It was a battle between power and prestige, between oppression and public welfare, between politics and humanity. Yes, Imam Hussayn and majority of his kin and supporters laid down their lives in this battle, but their cause was not lost. The struggle for liberation continued even after the Battle and liberation was achieved long at last. Yazid's rule was tyrannic as feared but short-lived and his death is a lesson of how God's ways work.

I found the wikipedia article on Battle of Karbala really informative and well-covered, and have not found any documents to confront the report so far. So, anybody wishing to know the entire unfolding of the event can visit the link above.

All the martyrs and warriors involved in this battle symbolise such patriotism, valour and strength, our heart swells with pride and honour for these heroes, and our souls cry over the brutality meted out to them.

But three honourables I would wish to give a special mention here are Imam Hussayn, Hazrat Abbas ibn Ali, and Bibi Zainab ibn Ali for they have each projected such different aspects that are not only praiseworthy in warfare but give a lasting message for life.

Imam Hussayn sacrificed everything he held close to his heart- his country, his home, his family, his friends and even his life, for the supreme cause and never yeilded to the extreme pressure and cruelty of Yazid. This courage becomes more commendable in the light of the fact that his death as a martyr in the field of Karbala was long ago revealed on Prophet Muhammad via Angel Gabrielle.

He didn't fear death, nor loved life more than his duties on earth. He teaches us about true dedication, courage and how life is more than mere existence.

Hazrath Abbas ibn Ali was the half-brother of Imam Hussayn and what a brother he proved to be! A true guardian, a keeper of promise and a man who honoured words and kinship above life. A man who laid down his without a regret when duty called.

Do read his section of the wikipedia article I mentioned above to understand what I mean. A brother every sister wishes for and a comrade every brother would pride in. He teaches us the value of an uttered word (an oath, promise or even testimony) and how love and dedication knows no boundary.

Bibi Zainab ibn Ali showed her strength under the most trying hour. She stood by her brother Hussayn and the warriors giving them the much needed emotional and moral support during the battle, confronted the oppressors with her strong will after the death of Hussayn, guarded and supported the womenfolk and children, and never shunned from standing for the cause her family died for.

Her role played after the battle in raising people's courage to fight Yazid and the consequent uprising is esp. commendable to note, for she never abandoned her duty using her gender as an excuse. She also never feared for her life and if it was not for her, all the lives lost and sacrifices made would have been in vain.

She teaches us the power of womanhood and how our duty rises above all obstacles.

My salute to all these valliants and warriors.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The 10th of Muharram

The 10th day of Muharram (the first month of Islamic Calendar), also called as Yom Aashura meaning the tenth day, has always been known the world-over for the martyrdom of Imam Hussayn and many of his family and supporters (blessed be their souls) in the Battle of Karbala in 61 A.H (islamic calendar), that is, 680 A.D.

Every year I have attempted to pay my homage to these great warriors through a blog dedicated to them. This year I have decided to go deeper and make it a three-part series segregated into The past ( prominence of Yom Aashura prior to Mohammaden era),
The event (the people connected to Battle of Karbala), and
The present (the traditions and state of people today).

The past :

There have occured phenomenal events in the lifetime of several prophets preceding our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them all) on this day, which have been rather blissful and liberating.

On this day (as revealed by Our prophet and various Hadiths), Our earliest Prophet Adam (blessed be his soul) was forgiven by the Almighty on this day, for eating the forbidden fruit.

Prophet Moses (blessed be his soul) gained victory over the wicked last Pharoah of Egypt on this day, and the Pharoah with his army drowned in River Nile in the epiculean tide.

Prophet Jesus was raised to heaven on this day.

And also Prophet Noah's ark survived The Great Flood beginning on this day.

There are several such incidents which credit this date with great prominence in Islamic History. To know of more of such events, check on towards end of the article SDIPRO: DUA-E-AASHURA by the Sunni Dawate Islami Public Relations Office, Mumbai.

As Islam embraces all the prophets preceding Prophet Muhammad as his ancestors and a true muslim's Faith can never be complete without the acceptance of all the prophets and their religion as true, we commemorate these events in accordance by the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (adapting the gesture of Prophet Moses who observed a Fast on this day in gratitude of the victory over Pharoah), we muslims Fast on the eve of Ashura and observe night long vigil seeking Allah's blessings as He bestowed on this day.

This Fast and vigil is very much appreciated in Islam though not made obligatory (for ease of convenience).

Allah knows His will better but one other aspect about this day which stands out strongly is, He didn't make bestow prominence to this day in the lives of every prophet, or if He has, He hasn't revealed it onto us. Also, the day invokes a rather emotional recollection for muslims, and a mixed feeling of pride and sorrow with regards to the Battle aforementioned. Maybe The Almighty willed so to discourage any superstitious or blind faith to get associated to this day! As I said, He knows his will better.

We shall look into The event of Karbala in my next blog tomorrow.

May this day be peaceful to all world-over.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Confessions of my heart

It's been years since I heard his name. I don't even recall the last time I had seen him. But when suddenly he was mentioned once again in the passing to me, my ears and brows perked up; and not much later after that when I saw him... Just a glimpse... But I can swear it was him... My heart skipped a beat, I was all doe-eyed once again and I could feel the twinkle in my eyes, the joy bursting within me and even hear my heart go tra la la la!

Really, I thought there is only one man on this earth who had that power on me. But I was wrong! Here's another damn awesome human who can work magic on me! How could I have forgotten him? But then, I think that's the way craze works. You go ga-ga over someone and as life takes over, your craze takes a backseat. Then years later, just like that a simple chat or a glimpse brings it all back in a flash, and such that even you would be amazed over it.

My guys! Hugh Jackman and Brett Lee! There's none like them for me, and there shall never be. I do have other favourites, even in their field of work, but these two leave me star-struck. I can't even explain what makes me so crazy over them, but they are numero uno for me.

I didn't know I was this crazy about Hugh Jackman until recently when I saw him endorse a new series of a mobile phone brand. I do enjoy his movies and admire his acting skills, but seeing him on tv in that ad took me over like a wave. That moment, for no other reason but just because he had endorsed it I wanted to buy that phone right away.

And when a mobile showroom in my town put out a life-size hoarding of him (with that phone) for me it was like he himself had come to town. I frequented that road as often I could even on mundane tasks, just to catch a glimpse of him and find him smiling at me. And when the shop took down the hoarding months later, for me it was like he had taken away all the colours from my town with him.

With Brett lee, my affair goes back a long time.

(To be continued- click here)

Confessions of my heart (2)

(Continued from here).

I was never a cricket fanatic. For me, it was only a means to gel with my elder sister. We would watch matches together, discuss the outcome, drool over our favourites and look forward for the next match. Somewhere down the line, from amidst these innocent crushes and budding interest one guy caught my attention- Brett Lee.

Maybe it was his deadly attack or his friendly exchanges, but I fell head over heels for him so much that I developed a strong conviction that if I ever befriend any cricketer it would be him , and not just be friends, we would be best friends. I used to even share with my sister, as we lay side by side every night, my imaginations as to the various ways we would meet and become fast friends.

Then my sister got married and moved away, and my interest in cricket too faded away th it. I did keep an update of him via news and media for a while. Then, I didn't even realise when I lost track of him in the hustle-bustle of life but then when he came before me just like that the other day  everything came crashing over me just as strongly.

The promo song of an upcoming football league has several stars from the bollywood tinsel town and the sporting world groove to its tune, and among them is Brett Lee playing football with a bunch of boys.

I had my eyes turned away from the tv when the promo first appeared, and it was my sister to sight him and explain,
"Hey! Isn't that Brett Lee after Sachin Tendulkar?"
My ears and brows perked up instantly at his mention but the promo was over by then and I had to wait for it to come again to confirm to my eyes.

I was not made to wait for long though and when I really saw him for myself then, I was trapped in that second with him and it was only we both in the entire world for me. And ever since then, I have an eye for the promo whenever tv is on and I'm still lost in his thoughts and that one frame of that video and in all those memories of years bygone.

Have you ever felt such a craze for any person?

Do share with us. It would be lovely to hear your story.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The supreme sacrifices

The Holy Qur'an abounds with stories from the lives and times of innumerous prophets, saints and their families who treaded this earth, each with a lesson to treasure and a message to revere.

But one of the things that amazes me is that all these blessed souls who were destined to serve the divine cause, of whose dedication, submission and deliverance the Almighty testified Himself, and whose love for the Lord are beyond limits and comparison, were tested with such afflictions and time and again proved their honesty and belief in the Divine word. Why?

They need not have gone through any of it. They could have lived a life of comfort (if not of luxury), and preached in the shades of silk! But no sir! Nor did they ever desire it nor did the Almighty so prefer. They had a mission and the road was in no way an easy one.

One such story is of Prophet Abraham and his son Ismael, when Allah tested both the parents' and the son's submission to his will by asking the father to sacrifice his son's life in the name of Almighty.

Prophet Abraham passed the test by willing himself to do so once the message was clear. Our Lady Hajira passed the test by accepting it as the will of Allah when she learnt of it. And Young prophet Ismael (a little boy then) passed by readily laying his life by even suggesting his father to blindfold himself during the sacrifice so that his love for his son may not intrude his love for the Almighty.

Allah rewarded them by replacing young Ismael with a ram (a variety of sheep) just as the father moved his blade across his son's neck and thus sparing the lad's life. And was so pleased by their dedication, love and deeds, that He made their deeds immemorable till eternity and including it as part of every cult that succeeded ever since.

In Islam it is celebrated as various rituals that are part of the pilgrimage to Mecca, and as the Eid-ul-Azha or the Festival of Sacrifice, in rememberance of this incident, in honour of these blessed souls and by the Divine command. But the lesson to be learnt are deeper.

What are the lessons you understand from this story? Are we imbibing the lessons in our life? Are we even pondering over them at least?

Wishing a blessed, peaceful, happy and prosperous Eid-ul-Azha to all.

And lo! He tested even those before us

The Holy Qur'an abounds with stories from the lives and times of innumerous prophets, saints and their families who treaded this earth, each with a lesson to treasure and a message to revere.

But one of the things that amazes me is that all these blessed souls who were destined to serve the divine cause, of whose dedication, submission and deliverance the Almighty testified Himself, and whose love for the Lord are beyond limits and comparison, were tested with such afflictions and time and again proved their honesty and belief in the Divine word. Why?

They need not have gone through any of it. They could have lived a life of comfort (if not of luxury), and preached in the shades of silk! But no sir! Nor did they ever desire it nor did the Almighty so prefer. They had a mission and the road was in no way an easy one.

One such story is of Prophet Abraham and his son Ismael, when Allah tested both the parents' and the son's submission to his will by asking the father to sacrifice his son's life in the name of Almighty.

Prophet Abraham passed the test by willing himself to do so once the message was clear. Our Lady Hajira passed the test by accepting it as the will of Allah when she learnt of it. And Young prophet Ismael (a little boy then) passed by readily laying his life by even suggesting his father to blindfold himself during the sacrifice so that his love for his son may not intrude his love for the Almighty.

Allah rewarded them by replacing young Ismael with a ram (a variety of sheep) just as the father moved his blade across his son's neck and thus sparing the lad's life. And was so pleased by their dedication, love and deeds, that He made their deeds immemorable till eternity and including it as part of every cult that succeeded ever since.

In Islam it is celebrated as various rituals that are part of the pilgrimage to Mecca, and as the Eid-ul-Azha or the Festival of Sacrifice, in rememberance of this incident, in honour of these blessed souls and by the Divine command. But the lesson to be learnt are deeper.

What are the lessons you understand from this story? Are we imbibing the lessons in our life? Are we even pondering over them at least?

Wishing a blessed, peaceful, happy and prosperous Eid-ul-Azha to all.

Of Yom Kippur and Yom Arafath

Today is Yom-Kippur, or the Day of Atonement for the Jews world over. The holiest day in their Faith, when all the Jews gather at synagogues to atone their sins, seek Divine forgiveness and please the Almighty so their names may be written in the book of Life for their good deeds.

By co-incidence, today is also Yom-e-Arafath or Day of Atonement/Repentance for Muslims. It is also the holiest day in Islamic Faith, when all the pilgrims to the holy city of Mecca assemble in the holy-plains of Mount Arafath to atone their sins, seek Allah's mercy and pray that He be pleased with us in this life on earth and ever-after. The rest of the Muslim community the world over enjoin the pilgrims spiritually world over through Fasting (optional), prayers and observing certain restrictions as is binding on the pilgrims.

Yom Kippur is the last day of the 10-day period starting from Rosh Hashanah (day one of Teshrie, 1st month of Hebrew calendar when the Almighty begins to write fate of individuals in the heavenly books). People’s fates are sealed on Yom kippur. Jews observe Fast, spend their day in synagogue prayers and abstain from work and all physical pleasures to please the Almighty on this day.

Sharing similar beliefs is the performance of Hajj, where the Pilgrims to Mecca forfeit all earthly chains, abstain from all physical pleasures and spend their days in prayers to please the Almighty, and muslims across the globe bond with the pilgrims by observing certain restrictions as the pilgrims, and spend the day in prayers, from the sighting of the crescent of the 12th month of Islamic calendar, Zil-Hajj till the three-day Festival of Sacrifice (Eid-ul-Azha), which commences on the 10th day of the month.

It is assured by the Almighty that whoever successfully complete their Pilgrimage in true Faith and it is accepted by the Almighty, all their sins are forgiven and they return from the plains of Arafa as pure as a baby emerges from it's mother's womb.

Allah knows better His will behind this phenomenal co-incidence between the two Faiths which are brethren-by-Books, yet divided by conflicts. But, if we are to see, it looks like a divine message of harmony and peace for the two communities and to show how both are more similar than different to each other.

Wishing a peaceful Yom Kippur and Yom Arafath to Jews and Muslims all over the world.

Of Yom Kippur and Yom Arafath

Today is Yom-Kippur, or the Day of Atonement for the Jews world over. The holiest day in their Faith, when all the Jews gather at synagogues to atone their sins, seek Divine forgiveness and please the Almighty so their names may be written in the book of Life for their good deeds.

By co-incidence, today is also Yom-e-Arafath or Day of Atonement/Repentance for Muslims. It is also the holiest day in Islamic Faith, when all
the pilgrims to the holy city of Mecca assemble in the holy-plains of Mount Arafath to atone their sins, seek Allah's mercy and pray that He be
pleased with us in this life on earth and ever-after. The rest of the muslim community the world over enjoin the pilgrims spiritually world over through Fasting (optional), prayers and observing certain restrictions as is binding on the pilgrims.

Yom Kippur is the last day of the 10days period starting from Rosh Hashanah(day one of Teshrie,1st month of hebrew calendar when the Almighty begins to write fate of individuals in the heavenly books). The fates are sealed on Yom kippur.
Jews observe Fast, spend their day in synagogue prayers and abstain from work and all physical pleasures to please the Almighty on this day.

Sharing similar beliefs is the performance of Hajj,the fifth tenet in Islam, where the Pilgrims to Mecca forfeit all earthly chains, abstain from all physical pleasures and spend their days in prayers to please the Almighty, and muslims across the globe bond with the pilgrims by observing certain restrictions as the pilgrims, and spend the day in prayers, from the sighting of the crescent of the 12th month of Islamic calendar, Zil-Hajj till the three-Days festival of Sacrifice (Eid-ul-Azha) which commences on the 10th day of the month.

It is assured by the Almighty that whoever successfully complete their Pilgrimage in true Faith and it accepted by the Almighty, all their sins are forgiven and they return from the plains of Arafa as pure as a baby emerges from it's mother's womb.

Allah knows better His will behind this phenomenal co-incidence between the two Faiths which are brethren-by-Books yet divided by conflicts... But if we are to see, it looks like a divine message of harmony and peace for the two communities and to show how both are more similar than different to each other.

Wishing a peaceful Yom Kippur and Yom Arafath to Jews and Muslims all over the world.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Award nomination denomination2

Thank you Elly Stornebrink once again for the new Liebster Award.

I'm truly honoured and love you for it.
Hmmm! Liebster award is a genuine online social blogger award created to recognize and/or discover new bloggers and welcome them to the blogosphere.

According to Lorraine Reguly's research of this award, this award exists only on the internet, and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. It has German origins – the word “liebster” has several definitions: dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, welcome, sweetheart. and apparently boyfriend(!).

It follows similar principles as a chain letter, which means it should be passed forward to a certain number of people?

The choice lies within each of us to ACCEPT it, and continue PAYING IT FORWARD or to refuse to accept it, thereby STOPPING or INTERRUPTING the chain. However, if you stop the chain, you are only hurting yourself (keep reading for benefits you will have)!

Personal views play an important part in our choice to participate. Some people have refused to accept it and have made attempts to “break the chain”. There have been many people who have been nominated, yet refused to accept it, and now their blogs have been abandoned.

Variations have been made over time to the 'rules'. Marketing plays a role in accepting this award, as other bloggers are promoted. (This is not a bad thing, however, since people should help others!)

These are the guidelines to the awardees:
1. Post 11 facts about self.
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you by your awarder.
3. Nominate/award 5-11 bloggers you find deserving and probably have less than 1000 followers.
4. Tell them that they have been tagged by you.
5. Include the image of the award in your page.

So, here are my 11 facts about self:
- I'm an aspiring writer, poet, blogger and reviewer.
- My few poems, short stories and articles have been published in Indian print and online media.
~I have been blogging since 2008. Previously in rediffblogs and presently on blogger.
~My various genre include poetry, articles, book reviews, views and analysis, theology, short stories and more recently- haiku and stories for children.
~I hail from a small mining town Kolar Gold Fields near Bangalore in karnataka, India
~I love to read, make crafts and travel.
~I am a die-hard nature lover and sky gazer.
~I love making friends, learning of new cultures and spreading goodness.
~ I also write in hindi and urdu language.
~ I am a self- confessed non conformist, as I oppose several social norms which I find annoying.
~ I love to teach and would love to be a teacher as well.

For my answers to Elly's questions, my nominees/awardees and my list of questions to my awardees,click here.

Award nomination denomination2b

In continuation of the award ceremony of Liebster award

Here is my reply to my awarder (Elly Stornebrink)'s questions:
1. Where were you born?
Bangalore, India
2. What city/town, country do you live in now?
Kolar Gold Fields, India
3. What languages do you speak?
Hindi, English, Urdu, Kannada and Tamil (there are few others I can only understand, and few I can only read)
4. What is your favourite food?
Indian style Pasta and chilli chicken
5. Do you like to cook? If so, what is your specialty, i.e., favourite dish?
I love to cook, and am good in making gravies, soups, salads, dry cooked veges, follow-the-book recipes and desserts.
6. Do you prefer tea or coffee? If so, what kind?
I can't have any hot liquid made of milk unless there's any solid side prepares to go with it.
7. What are your top three to five activities you like/love to do?
Read, write, do crafts, talk and travel
8. Do you sing or play an instrument? If so, what kind of music?
I'm not a music person
9. Have you ever performed in a school play or on stage?
Yes, as a side narrator once and as chorus in a group dance once. 10.When did you start writing?
As a talent/profession oriented way, since I turned 15
11.What do you love to write about: favourite topic(s)?
Reviews, views and analysis, theological, short stories, poems, soceity oriented.

And Here are my nominees/awardees: (though I seriously believe all these lovely bloggers are way ahead of me in the head count, and might even be nearing the mark).

Cindy Ackley,
Sunny Fernandes,
Amrit Sinha,
Roshan Radhakrishnan,
Huma Masood,
Judy Yaron,
Elly Stornebrink,
Alana Mautane,
Shailaja Vishwanath,
Tamika L Mapp

If you have already been awarded with this award, you need not re-blog about it. Just answer my 11 questions :)

And lastly, here are my set of 11 questions to my awardees:

1. Who is your favourite author?
2. Which is your favourite novel and by whom?
3. Which is your dream destination?
4. Who has inspired you the most in your life?
5. What is your philosophy in life?
6. What are the five things you love to do?
7. What are your favourite blogging topics?
8. Which are the languages you know?
9. What are your hobbies?
10. Name one trait in human nature you wish didn't exist? And why?
11. How do you define life?

Congrats to all my declared awardees...

Happy blogging to all!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Award nomination denomination

First of all I would like to thank my dear friend and fellow-blogger Elly Stornebrink for awarding me the two awards. It's such a big compliment to be nominated (which equates to awarded) along with such prolific bloggers.

I also thank the Almighty for guiding me at every step, and my parents, friends, well-wishers and peers for supporting me through. Without all of you, it would have been impossible for me to be here.

The two awards,
>The sunshine blogger awards

and,

>The very inspiring blogger awards

are indeed very prestigious and encouraging titles. I have always aimed at including both traits in my blogs, and surely winning these awards would be no less than a dream-come-true. May the most deserving nomination win.

As per the instructions, the nominee has to present7 qualities of themself. So, here is my self-praise list:

~I am an aspiring writer and have few poems, short stories and articles published in Indian print and online media.
~I have been blogging since 2008. Previously in rediffblogs and presently on blogger.
~My various genre include poetry, articles, book reviews, views and analysis, theology, short stories and more recently- haiku and stories for children.
~I hail from a small mining town Kolar Gold Fields near Bangalore in karnataka, India
~I love to read, make crafts and travel.
~I am a die-hard nature lover and sky gazer.
~I love making friends, learning of new cultures and spreading goodness.

We also have to award the titles to 8 other bloggers . So here are my awardees (you need not re- blog about these awards again if you have already been awarded by them) :

Elly Stornebrink
Judy Yaron,
Cindy Ackley,
Amrit Sinha,
Roshan Radhakrishnan,
Sophie Bowns,
Candess Campbell,
Sunny Fernandes.

And lasting here's a list of instructions to be followed by the awardees.

¤Include the images of both the awards in your nomination/accept speech,
¤State 7 pro things about self.
¤Nominate/award 8 other bloggers you find to be deserving.
¤Let your nominees/awadees know about it.

(Another award and my thank you note in my next blog:Award nomination denomination2)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Two little birdies

Witty and Mitty were two little birds. They were best friends and stayed together as often they could. Witty was very clever, and Mitty was very soft, not just on the outside but in his heart too. One day while they were flying together to their friend litty’s birthday party they saw a huge plane fly by.

For a minute they mind went blank and fear engulfed their heart. For their parents had always told them horror stories about this big monster bird, which came with a thundering noise, and caught such little birdies that did too much mischief or did not heed their parents or did not sleep on time. This monster bird then took all the birdies it caught to a far away place and cut their wings so they couldn’t fly back home, scooped out their eyes so they could not see the beautiful world anymore, and fried them for his food.

Now both Witty and Mitty were so scared as the monster bird seemed to be darting towards them only, both shivered from their tip to tail and flew as fast as they could for their dear lives.
“What are we going to do, Witty?” Mitty asked his chirpy voice shivering with him.
“I don’t know, Mitty. We first have to take shelter.”
By luck, just then he spotted a huge banyan tree atop a big cliff.
“Fast! Swoop to that little hole in that big tree ahead us. The monster is too big to enter that small hole.”
Witty’s mind was working faster than his wings.

Once in the safety of the little hole, both friends hid in its darkest corner, their eyes tightly shut, and hugging each other with their little feathery wings. For a moment that seemed like ages they felt the droning noise was yelling in their ears and the monster bird was right over them.

Then, the noise grew distant again and as they slowly opened their eyes so very slightly to see where the monster was. They saw its tail turned to them and it was flying away towards the sun. Both birds heaved a sigh of relief and danced with utter joy.

Just then Witty thought this was their golden and only chance to save all the little birdies the monster must have caught this time.
“Come Mitty, We have some friends to rescue.” Witty yelled as he took flight to follow the plane.
“Wait! Come back, Witty. Where are you going? Why are you following the monster? And who do we have to save?” Mitty screeched flying behind Witty and trying to catch up with him.
“The little birds the monster must have caught this time,” Witty explained not taking his eyes off the monster and flying as fast as he could to stay in its trail. “We cannot let them die! If we follow the monster bird to its den, we can free the little birdies when he will fall asleep and fly back home.”
“Are you crazy, Witty? If the monster sees us he will fry us straight away or eat us raw!”
“He won’t. We’ll stay out of sight and follow right behind.”

Mitty swallowed hard for he knew Witty had made up his mind and he couldn’t leave his friend alone either. The birds fluttered their wings as fast as they could, but the monster always seemed to fly faster. The two little birds soon grew tired, and just as their wings began to really ache badly Witty got another idea.
“One last time, Mitty, use all the energy you have and follow me.” Witty encouraged his friend and darted towards the plane.

In a few minutes, both were now right over the monster and landed over its head. For both were sure, that was one spot the monster would never be able to look up and see.
“Now, we can rest all the way, Mitty. The monster will take us home.” Witty exclaimed with a big smile and a wink to his friend.

Thus, Witty and Mitty set out again in their own little adventure.

To be a writer refined... (1)

I've been a member of the Ultimate Blog Challenge Community and the Ultra Blog Challenge Community for almost three months now and I have got to learn, understand and see so many aspects of writing in both these forum.

I have met some wonderful bloggers and friends, interacted on an international level and imbibed amazing intricacies of writing. I am so grateful to the Almighty for leading me here, and to both these forums and the people I met here for making a world of difference to me.

One thing which I have very recently learnt through these challenges and its participants is that consistency is one of the most essential traits to be a writer. It is a very complicated and vibrant field, and to survive here one needs to blend in all the colours and work through the way.

No matter what is on in our life and no matter what state of mind we are in, we have to write to keep the writer in us going. Once we quit or say "off" at the face of any compulsion, it becomes so difficult for the writer in us to recollect herself and continue as if nothing had hindered her path at all.

The writer in us is like a separate individual in herself, who resides within us. Whatever happens with us or around us is ours to bear or share, but the writer must remain unaffected whatsoever. She may get inspired, share in your joys, sympathise your pain or dwell on your worries by weaving words on each occasion, but to stop her from writing because of our personal reason or priorities is just not done.

I have faltered this month, succumbed to my failings and may or may not meet the challenge this month, but today I have struggled against my feelings, my failings and my faltering footsteps, and made an attempt to keep the writer in me going. The result is this blog open to your honest scrutiny.

Speak your heart out.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pride comes before a fall

"I don't know if this made it to international media but the news of a youth falling prey into a tiger's den in New Delhi's National zoo/park did create nation-wide furore.

Earlier this week on Tuesday, a youth crossed his safety limit to have a clearer look of the White Bengal tiger by climbing over the fence. As his fate could have it, he tripped and fell on the dangerous side of the fence. His death made a slow visit on him with the feline taking its time to gauge the intruder, round him up and measure up the opportunity. Eyewitness even said the youth had sat for nearly five minutes cornered, pleading with joined hands for his life. Then came his end- as swift, brutal and scary as one can imagine.

This episode is shocking, sad and scary, but it raises many questions.

° where were the authorities during the whole time? Shouldn't they have been spread across the premises to ensure abiding of rules and provide help in case of emergencies? The tiger gave them 15minutes of the youth's life, yet they arrived after his death visited on him.

° It is a myth that the creatures of the wild are always ready for the kill. In reality they do not harm until they are hungry, are attacked/angered at the first place, and/or have been tortured or feel threatened themselves. So, are the animals given all the rights they deserve in their enclosures? Or have they been neglected, and deprived of their neccessities?

° The animals of the wild, especially felines do not turn man-eaters until it's their last resort, and have been starving to death. So, are the animals in the zoo/park properly fed on time and in the right portions? Maybe that is what the White tiger in the Delhi's incident was analysing for the five minutes the youth sat begging for his life! Seeing if it can any other source of food!

India's National pride is falling in the eyes of the world. Questions have to be answered, errors corrected and needful done before we shame ourselves for it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Have you ever held a sparrow?

Years ago, one warm summer afternoon we were called out of our doors with the sound of a soft thud on our porch. Probably something had fallen over our underground tank-top.

And indeed something had. To be precise a living thing- a sparrow. We are still at a lose to guess how it landed there, but it did appear very scared. A cute little thing, it sat cuddled in one place looking around with utter helplessness and shock. When it realised our presence it cuddled up even more.

We were worried if it was hurt. I and my sister were about to check on it when my mother stopped us and warned us against touching the innocent thing for its own good.

My mother has spent her childhood in the countryside of Tamilnadu and witnessed from her own eyes, so she knows. Sparrows are very puritan kinds and never ever forgive being touched by a human (she does not know if they have other species in their taboo list). Once a sparrow is touched by a human it becomes an out-cast in its community and never taken back. In fact (my mother has seen so herself) the rest of the sparrow community pecks the erring bird to its death.

Maybe that is why, as I realise it now, I don't recall even one of the sparrow handlers in zoo and museums ever hold them. They have always entreated them to perch on their balled up fists.

So, have you ever held a sparrow? If so, have you seen it through to the end?
What is your opinion in this regard?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Little England in India

The local folk lore has it that long, long ago K.G.F was once a very large, dense jungle. There was so much abundance of gold here back then, that it were found in lumps near the foot of trees and the tribal people dwelling here back then used to pluck them up like fruit and used it for personal use and trade.

One day, a soldier of the then ruler (probably one from the Gupta dynasty) passed by its thickets and noticing such riches informed his king, and thus began the earliest mining operation that was to change hands over course of centuries and provide wealth and livelihood to countless for more than 2000 years since then.

Welcome to my home-town of folk lore and rich history- Kolar Gold Fields.

(the image of the main road leading into the town taken on my mobile phone).

Situated near the south-east border of Karnataka in India, 100 kilometers from the state capital Bangalore, it is a small sleepy suburb surrounded by picturesque landscapes and enriched with a surprising blend of cultures and languages. It perfectly reflects the world-famous slogan entire India prides itself in- "Unity in diversity".

You can learn all of its history and geography in its wikipedia page from the link below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolar_Gold_Fields

It was known by many names prior to the mining lease going into the hands of the british John Taylor and Sons company in 1880, which was then given its present name. The township was later built in the year 1902 with many british officers, engineers and skilled workers settling here with their family.

With the administration designing the entire township in resemblance to the city of London back home and coupled with the soft- warm weather and lush greenery, it was nicknamed Little England.

A title K.G.F still resonates with humble pride. It still has salvaged its original design-plan, many of the buildings and structures and a love for society and fashion in its people that seems to be inherited by its early settlers. (I'm sorry I couldn't gather enough pictures to show along).

It still has broad roads that might have not so long ago bustled with traffic and people, beautiful spread of greenery and fauna which still attracts nature lovers, abandoned and adapted buildings that still hold promise of golden future if handled rightly, a mines which was once the second largest in Asia,  now in a state of stale slowly waiting its death yet hoping for a new lease of life.

(the file- image of the workers working in the mines, as taken from the facebook page "KGF- the little england") and a mount of cyanide-dump (from the mines) which was built with centuries of mining. It is now almost 30feet tall and occupies nearly 10% of the land area (images below). *note: the image of the interior view of the cyanide-dump was taken from the facebook page "KGF- the little england", The image of the frontal view of the cyanide-dump was taken by me in my mobile phone.

Tackling the teacher's cane

In a recent blog, "Has there ever been a Mrs. B in your life?" my dear friend Judy Yaron, described the agony she suffered as a child from her English teacher, where her teacher actually thought she was doing Judy good by questioning everything she knew, but in reality she was trampling her confidence. This post reminded me of similar incidents from my own life, when I felt tortured by my kannada teachers (the regional language of where I live) during my primary and secondary schooling.

Their strict demeanour and unapproachable attitude actually made me turn away from the language. I was petrified of them, and fear and I don’t do well together. Where students generally respond to fear and learn what is at hand, my mind blocked out the subject itself and what I needed was a survival skill to escape punishment and the teachers' attention. My solution lay in memorising the questions and answers, and I managed to read and write enough to pass the exams, without really learnt the language.

This trick came very handy in tackling the classes in my high school years. As to why teachers of this particular language tended to be so strict is beyond me! There was but this one teacher (of kannada) who was strict but somehow I was able to impress him everytime.

In his very first class he tested our language skills by making us write the words he dictated on the blackboard. The good ones succeeded, the not so good ones got in his black-book in return. When my turn came he gave me one of the words he usually found students err- his name, Prabhakar. As kannada has different symbols for each phonetic, he found students usually got confused in them. I simply spelled out the word in mind and put it on the board. And lo! I had got it right.

One of the reasons that worked in my favour with him was that he was lenient enough to explain complex parts in English and allowed us to discuss them in English as well. Nonetheless, whenever he chose to bombard us with questions, I would be shivering inside hoping he would not ask me (which he never failed to do). However, using the survival skill I keenly developed during primary school, I would stand up with all confidence and answer to the point. Like a computer my mind fetched from memory and answered any question he asked.

Thus, by succeeding in creating an illusion of understanding the language, I passed my courses with flying colors, when in reality I could hardly speak a complete sentence on my own without mistakes.

Showers of blessing

It has finally rained here in K.G.F (my home-town) today, after a long period of wait and desperation.

As mid-June to mid-october is the season of monsoon in India, you can understand the relief the birds, animals and people felt on finally receiving a good shower just today through out the entire season this year; that too when all other parts of India, esp. South India and more precisely most of the neighbouring districts received irregular but moderate rainfall. All the while we were thankful for the few light showers we received and prayed for even better in the days to come.

As always several theories abound to explain our predicament. Scientifically they say as the plantation of eucalyptus trees has increased in the past decade in our district, it has upset the water balance which in turn has upset the rain-bearing clouds.

Another theory suggests that the high voltage lines of the newly laid electric gauges for railway dissipates the clouds away.

The local folks even assert that the sporadic digging of borewells to overcome the water shortage has released so much of earth's internal heat that it drives away the clouds to cooler zones where they then fall as rain.

A common apprehension however is that the Almighty is angry by the reckless erring mentality of the folks here, and He is punishing us this way.

I don't know what's the exact reason, or how much weight each theory actually carry... But I truly hope and pray our wait is over and more such rainy days are here to come in K.G.F.

And if you are wondering what or where on earth is this K.G.F, you can wiki or google it out, but do stay tuned for my next blog, for a small glimpse of my home-town through my eyes (and words).

Friday, September 19, 2014

Role distance plays

Continued from "Distance, thou art strange."

Where distance has played such magical medium on one hand, it has on the other played the trickster who slowly, silently, flungs us in the labyrinth of daily routine and such priorities where we don't find a way to interact with each other except once in a blue moon. These have been friends from my childhood and school life, who have seen through life with me. We have learnt together, played together, grown up together, shared our dreams, confided our secrets, been partners in mischief, spoken hours at length about everything and nothing! With whom I understood the meaning of friendship, who have now moved to various destinations with their life, but are still as dear to me.

Taranum Fathima, Arshiya Nausheen, Trupti Jain, Mahalakshmi Satish Balaji, Kavita, Charanya, Kusuma, Seema, and so many playmates of my childhood...
I can't blame them, I hold myself responsible most of the time. I have been the one to drop my end of the thread, to give in to the delicacy of the situation and not pursued them enough.

I still recall the after school minutes I spent with Arshiya on the steps of our school waiting for our parents to pick us up and sharing all the knowledge we had in the world. I was so hurt when in the first year she chose someone else as her best friend! But she proved herself to be a true gem and kept me as close as ever.

Charanya was the first to separate choosing another high school, but for years till she moved to another city we met often, exchanged letters and stayed up to date with each other.

Trupti was the next to go away with her family shifting to Pune, but the distance was yet to not settle between us. We sincerely wrote letters to each other every two months, and what letters they were! Each of a dozen+ pages, complete with the latest minutest development to the last detail, livened up with jokes, quotes, designs, drawings and picture postcards!

Anybody else who saw it wondered how we could write and read such novel-sized letters to each other and what on earth could we have written in such close knit handwriting, but only we knew how short the letters seemed to us. Yet now, we have each other's phone number and email id but have no time except for an occassional Hi.

Taranum has been another gem and probably the one amongst us who goes out of the way and to lengths to maintain a steady interaction and never forgotten a friend. Maha and kavita have tried their best to remain in touch since distance set in, but we all have a void in our lives which only we can fill.

My note to them is: "You remember, whenever I was asked who my best friend is, I always replied as- All my friends are best in their own ways.

I wasn't wrong and I can still proudly say so. Thank you for enriching my life and sorry for all the forfeiture on my part."

Distance, thou art strange!

It's really funny how distance plays such tricky games with our heart. Sometimes when it takes two close ones far from each other, they writh and wither in each others memory, and sometimes it becomes such a casual thing we accept it like morning after night.

I understand more than blaming distance, the onus lies on the love and dedication the two people shared betwixt them. But what when the feelings are equally true, and affection equally indepth in both the instances? I speak from my own experiences here, and of friendship- a relationship I hold truly precious and sacred in my life.

I don't know if the proverb "Distance makes the heart grow fonder" suits the instances I relate to here, because they have always remained at far flung places from me. But yes, they all have surely become important part of my existence in such a short duration that I strongly believe destiny had planned our friendship.

Cindy Ackley, Judy Yaron, Elly Stornebrink, Yatita shah, my group of co-authors from the anthology "Love stories that touched my heart", so many friends and siblings I made via facebook and in my college years! Our interactions have usually been of touch-and-go nature, and always via one telecom media or another(except for a few whom I have met for a short duration). But my friendship with each of them has clicked almost instantly, and the honesty, trust, joy, comfort and respect I share with each of them, (I know) comes from true friendship.

A personal note from me to each of them: "I don't know if we would ever meet in person, but somehow it already feels like we have, and I'm so grateful to each of you for all that you have done, have been and mean for me."

Continued in Role distance plays.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Once a first bencher, always a first bencher!

As promised in my last blog "M for phobia" here is how me and my friends became the designated first benchers in our first year of pre-university course.

Having lived 10 years of our life by the rule-book, abiding teachers, following discipline and being the goody-goodys of school, like most teenagers even we had thought we'll at last taste some freedom, there won't be any more uniforms, class prefects, assemblies, bells announcing the school hours or punishments for missing a class.

But let me clear our intentions here. We had no desire to go wayward or stir up any storms, just simple and safe liberties that will give us the ecstacy of quitting the title of "school-girls". One such liberty we looked forward to was taking whichever bench we preferred, for we were really tired of being allotted seats in class by our class-teacher through out the school years.

But it was not meant to be! The first we attended, most of the classmates had already arrived and taken the benches of their choice (leaving the first three empty). We didn't think much about it and as we were 6 in all, we occupied the second and third row, as the last few benches were very distant from the lecturer's podium, and we were not sure if we would be able to hear them.

The day went well, except for the little disappointment that nobody felt like changing seats throughout the day. But it happened the same way the next day and for days following it. Even the lecturers started recognising us as the front benchers.

It wasn't a big deal, but we only wanted to break free from the dull routine. We even tried going early and taking other seats before others arrived but their usual occupants always fought their place back. They said it was the perfect spot for them and they either didn't want to be noticed by the lecturer, or be bored by their lecture, or had important gossip to share which couldn't wait and obviously impossible to be done right under the lecturer's nose.

We even offered sweetly the front benches to few other sweet types, but no! They were too nervous to sit there and be noticed by the lecturer so easily. Their chosen spots were their perfect hiding spots!

Thus, by choice, by force, happily and unhappily we became the "designated" and "perpetual" first benchers of our first year pre-university course.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

M for phobia: part 2

Continued from Part 1

The first time was when I was in my 1st year of pre-university course. I was in college attending a language class, and I and my friends were always the first benchers (will tell the story behind this in my next blog). Right in the middle of the lecture in hopped a big green grasshopper right in front of me, and kept hopping about as if super-excited to be in a college for the first time (though I seriously doubt if it was its first time). Those who suffer from any phobia can understand how strongly it affects us.

I tried to block it out, tried not to notice it and even moved a few benches behind to help myself stay calm, but no! The -hopper hopped all around the class, and I startled about my seat everytime it did so, sometimes I stiffled a screech, sometimes I almost screamed.

Finally, the lecturer in class ( a wonderful professor with the ideal blend of cordiality and discipline about him) had had enough. He asked me laughingly a couple of times to ignore, but when I failed to do so, the next instant STOMP! That spritely little life was crushed under his feet.

I believe he did it for me. Even if it was to restore order in class, the act's onus lies on me. It didn' t deserve to die, nor did I deserve for it to be killed! I only wished it out of the class. One innocent creature died because of my childish behaviour...

The other died earlier today. A tiny little green grasshopper this time. It had somehow landed itself in our backyard and by chance I and my mother happened to be there on a chores.

It was our presence or the chaos, it got excited and started hopping about the place(actually fluttering about, to be more precise). I don' t know, if our mutual fear attracted it to me, it thought I would save him or it was trying to scare me off, but it kept coming towards me. I tried to keep myself calm and act mature, but my mother noticed how terrified I was and as she is not apt in the art of catching them and releasing in the open, she did what she thought the next best thing for me- out flew the broom and SWAT! A little life was again lost because of my irrationale fear.

I wish I could undo both the instances, but it can't be done. I'm truly sorry for the lives thus lost. And if I have any sentiments through these twin blogs, I'm sorry about it too!

Maze of my own

This was what I was like the whole of last week.

Everytime I try to write,
I always get so distract,
I'm lost in a maze of my own.

My words take flight,
Then simply disappear from my mind.
They are lost in the maze I told.

I want to read and read,
Share, like, reply and comment,
But when I wish to write...

All is lost in the maze you know.

Then my dear friend Elly Stornebrink came to my rescue, and in the past two days, she did me a world of good. The below four lines are specially made and dedicated to her. Thank you, Elly!

Then I told my friends,
And amidst them a friend replied,
With her pep talks, aid and advice,
She brought me out of the maze of mine.

M for phobia

A funny thing about we humans is that everyone of us, in general, nurture a fear/phobia of little things. I know, psychology considers this a serious and innate problem, whose roots may lie in some childhood or very old occurrence which the mind has forgotten but it's effect remains.

The phobia can be anything- fear of height, of water, of darkness, of crowd, of isolation, or even insects. What I find funny is we believe ourselves to be the most supreme of all creatures of the Almighty, yet in a little corner of our mind there's such a strong fear of a minute or mundane stuff.

I suffer from partial insectophobia, meaning I don't fear all insects, just cockroaches (esp. the kind which glides about) and grasshoppers. And bless me! These two creatures somehow find a way to be around me ever so often.

I'm a little more insensitive and brutal towards the former. I just want it killed. No other option. Even if it's out of my sight, it never goes out my mind until it meets its end. But for the latter I'm a bit lenient. They have such innocent look about them (esp. The green variety), and I don't really know how harmful they can be! So, if they are taken out of my sight, i'm happy about it. But they were killed twice for me, and I'm really sorry about it.

Continued in part 2

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Halt! Oh people!

A haiku pondering on the way the world is going with its vices.

it's clear! Look yonder,
the path we are headed now,
is roadway to hell

Monday, September 8, 2014

Unforgotten love

Prelude:

Here are two haiku reflecting the same emotion, speaking of similar feelings- an unrequited love/ the memories of a lost companion. What's even more beautiful, it can mean any beloved, and need not only be romantic.

While working on them, I got bits of both and I couldn't develop into one, so I framed both.

Now I'm not able to choose one over the other. So, please help! Tell me which of the two you find/like better? :)

The twin haikus:

>You remain with me,
  Like fragrance of crushed roses,
  Rays caught in rainbows

>You stay in my heart,
  Like life within frozen lake,
  Like droplets in cloud

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Last but not the least

Previous in the series: bound by pain, bonded by love.

9-12 of my twelve most loved novels.

The books I discuss today belong to different genre, and deal with myriad of emotions, aspects and individuals. But each a treat in itself.

The Hungry Tide, The Ultimate Gift, and Teddy.

> The Hungry Tide is a celebrated epic novel by Amitav Ghosh set in the backwater countryside of West Bengal. It travels with two diverse individuals headed for the same destination- Pia and Kanai who befriend each other, dealing with various prevalent and in-depth topics which plague that part of the world, like attacks by man-eating tigers, lives of the fishermen families, and conflicting opinions. Every character in it speak for themselves and every factor has been handled masterfully.

> The Ultimate Gift (also adapted into a movie) is a soft and simple coming-of-age tale narrated by the awe-inspiring author Jim Stovall, in which spoilt and good-for-nothing Jason Stevens, great-grand nephew of Red Stevens, upon the latter's death is forced to accept a year long challenge (according to his Will) in order to inherit a multi-million dollars worth property. He has to fulfill certain conditions set by the not-so-dear-departed for each month under the scrutiny of his lawyer, aimed at teaching him the value of various emotions and relationships like hardwork, love, dreams, friendship etc.

But will Red Stevens succeed in his aim is the real million-dollar question. It's simple approach, flawless storyline and amazing characters are what actually makes this book special for me.

> Teddy is the first of two part novel "Theodore" by the very talented upcoming author Sophie Bowns. E-released last month and presently available only in digital version, it takes us back to the days of kings and castles of victorian era England. What I love about it is it's simple and sincere language, and intense storyline.

It takes us through the life of two totally unconnected people Prince Theodore and a common girl Bonnie, as their go through life, deal similar losses and struggle to find their place in the world. The poetry versions, found in her blogsite, of some of the situations in the novel are beautiful.

I can't wait for the second part and I'm just so glad I know the author rather cordially. My wishes are with her.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bound by pain, bonded by love

Previous in this series: 4-6 of my most loved novels.

7-9 of my twelve most loved novels.

The books I speak of here are full of life, innocence, brutality, pain and tragedy. But it is the courage and commitment of the protoganists to never lose hope, never give up on life, never bow down and go down or emerge fighting for right that wins our heart.

I speak of The Diary of a Young girl, Echoes, and The Kite runner here.

> The diary of a young girl, or better known as The Diary of Anne Frank is a first hand account of the terror of Nazi regime and life during the Second world war through the eyes of a 14 year old young jewish girl, Anne Frank. It is so full of innocence, candour and pain... it makes our heart bleed.

Co-incidentally I got to read this book when I was about the same age as her myself, in my high school. Maybe it was this which made connect with her so easily.

> Echoes by Danielle Steel is yet another account of the lives and times during and in between the two world wars. A fictionalised story spanning generations, it maintains an on-the-surface coverage of the political warfare and consequences as the characters get embroilled in it. Yet even this feels so terrible, one can't imagine what went through the actual victims, survivors and witnesses.

> The Kite runner celebrates itself as the debut novel of the prolific present-day author, doctor and acticvist Khaled Hosseini. I must say, what a ground-shattering debut it is! The story of two friends, bonded and separated by fate, tragedy and torture. We grow with Aamir in it, love him, hate it, support him, revolt against him and silently witness the double standards of the soceity and the terror of Taliban just like him. We want to do something about it all, yet feel as helpless as him! Maybe that's why Hosseini chose him as the narrator from all the wonderful characters, and over himself too!

All these three novels have made me cry, but I know they and the people they speak of deserve it and more.

Note: all hyperlinks in this blog redirect to their respective wikipedia pages

Next in the series: Last but not the least