Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Bucket List

There are times when you are sure of what you want and then are times when you just draw a blank. When I was presented with this topic, I experienced the latter state of mind. But then this comes in a good time. Treating this as a chance to do a little introspection and understand my soul’s aspirations before it departs for a trip to next world. So here it goes, the ten things I must do before I die:
  1. Have my own library
  2. Travel to Rishikesh
  3. Trek to Chandra Taal lake, Spiti valley
  4. Visit Landour and meet Ruskin Bond
  5. Learn a foreign language
  6. Participate in a golgappa eating contest
  7. Learn swimming
  8. Read my old NCERT history books
  9. Participate in a half-marathon
  10. Write a blog post every month

This post is a part of IndiSpire, initiative for Indian Bloggers by IndiBlogger. IndiSpire topic of the week: Post about your Bucket List - The ten things you must do before you die #LifeDeathBucketList.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Standing at the crowded Tambaram station, she shifted the umbrella to the other hand, and wiped the grime and sweat from her brow. After waiting for him for the past one hour, her patience was beginning to wear thin. She made her way through the crowd and sat on a bench overlooking the station entrance which admitted a fresh stream of passengers every minute. Dipak had promised to meet her there after his classes got over. The station was a half an hour ride away from his college. The signal near his college was notorious for its hour long traffic jams. There was a very good chance that he got caught in one of them. Or maybe there was the extra class which the head of the department had been planning for long time. She tried to pacify herself by trying to reason out the delay in his presence, but was running out of both time and excuses. 

The group of girls who had taken seat next to her were discussing the latest Surya movie. She found the topic of discussion excessively juvenile and was annoyed at the effect their presence had on her already disturbed mind. Thankfully, their talks came to an end and they dispersed.

All her previous calls made to Dipak had gone unanswered. Fidgeting with the mobile she debated if she should just walk away and board the train. As if on a cue, the unmistakable automated female voice announced loudly, “Passengers please pay attention! The next train to Chennai Beach will be arriving shortly on platform number 1” and then the voice continued to relay the message in Tamil and Hindi. Her eyes looked furtively at the group of people, scanning them for Dipak’s familiar face. Her irresolute state of mind was proving to be of no help. Next moment, the train pulled in sounding loud notes; women made their way to the ladies compartment, others moved towards the closest coach with an empty seat.

Dipak was nowhere in sight. Reluctant, she took slow steps and climbed into a coach. As she settled into a seat in the farthest corner of the coach, with a heavy heart, eyes brimming with tears, she silently made a vow not to wait for him. It was all empty promises, with heart break written all over it. As the train chugged out, her mobile notified a message from D. He wrote: Mamta came back with the kids. She is not agreeing to the divorce, and we fought a little. I am sorry, it got late and I missed my train. I have boarded the next train; will meet you in Tambaram shortly.

Without a second thought she typed back: Do not wait for me. Its time you make a choice. Goodbye.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. WOW theme of the week: Post must include the line: '... and I missed my train.' 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Original Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou

Women live under the illusion that their body dimensions define their identity. They are suffering from an unhealthy body image. There is a tremendous pressure on the youth to conform to the society's image of a healthy human, which for the majority of us is not reality. There is a lot of unhappiness, negativity resulting from the societal rejection which ultimately leads to an identity crisis. I have friends worried about their weight gain, when not sweating it out at the gym and trying out new diet recipes, we look over fashion magazines and fawn over the gorgeous ladies that grace these pages. And every one of them without an exception is a skinny version of us. A recent news item took me back to my Gender Studies class back in 2009. We were studying this poem by Maya Angelou, Phenomenal Woman. After the first reading, i looked around and saw the faces of my friends. Our eyes shone with admiration, amazed at the sheer brilliance of the poem and its idea. We were completely bowled over by its powerful message. It was nothing new, unknown to us. On the contrary, we possessed knowledge of it. The poem celebrates womanhood in its true essence. It celebrates the gender, sexuality, and power that it embodies. It encourages women to discover, embrace, and bask in the glory of their true identity. A woman's identity is the confidence, the attitude with which she takes on Life. She is built with it, and every form of her exudes this power. It is authentic, unique and cannot be bought, faked, or duplicated. Discard the fake ideas, be yourself. Read the poem, be inspired by yourself!
Phenomenal Woman - Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size  
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,  
The stride of my step,  
The curl of my lips.  
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,  
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,  
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.  
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.  
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,  
And the flash of my teeth,  
The swing in my waist,  
And the joy in my feet.  
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered  
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,  
They say they still can’t see.  
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,  
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.  
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.  
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,  
The bend of my hair,  
the palm of my hand,  
The need for my care.  
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Phenomenal Woman was first published in 1995. Maya Angelou passed away on 28 May 2014 at the age of 86. She had a difficult childhood, growing up in a U.S.A. which was stricken with race crimes and gender discrimination. She was a brave, strong willed woman who never gave up hope and displayed courage even in the most gravest times. She will forever remain as the original Phenomenal Woman. An inspiration to women across the world.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Classic Moments in Chennai

Eight years ago, any mention of my imminent move to this city would bring out the similar reactions from people - they were mortified at my decision, dismissing the city as a land with the hot, humid climate, where Hindi is not widely spoken and appalled at the misery of the city whose residents pay money for drinking water. For better or worse, I decided to embrace the city and I have never been disappointed. I had arrived in this city with doubts and worries on my mind. I was enrolled in a city college for my graduate programme, and had left home for the first time. I was supposed by be suffering from homesickness, a condition brought in when one is separated from family and friends and all that they have been familiar. But on the contrary, except during the annual Durga Pujo celebrations, not many a time did I miss home. Chennai became my second home. And as this month is drawing close to its end, so is my period of stay in Chennai. Nostalgia hits me hard, as I walk back the memory lanes tracing the path to my early days in this city. I am already fighting a losing battle against the surging emotions - feeling a sense of loss –What made this stay so memorable, unforgettable? They would be my classic moments of the city as I remember it.

Hostel and fabulous roommates: My roomies hailed from the north eastern state of Manipur. From day 1, we hit it off. We discovered our common love for Shakespeare and Shah Rukh Khan (in my defence this was pre-Chennai Express times), dosa and dahi and of course Korean dramas. They introduced me to fermented fish, pickled mango and sweetened chickpeas, and I returned the favour by treating them to lip smacking treat of sattu ka paratha and chilli pickle which my mum packed when I got back from my bi-annual trip to home.

The 10 rupee movie ticket: What is the price of a movie ticket in Chennai? Take a guess. 250? Nope. 200? Wrong again. Rs.120. That is all a seat in any multiplex would cost in the city. Now, for the student bonanza: All front row seats are up for grabs for Rs. 10 only!! I understand it means spending a couple of hours craning your neck, but for a student torn between her love for cinema and books, it was a good bargain.

The beach: The beach clearly sets Chennai apart from other metro cities. Witness the glorious sunrise and sunset, with hot molgha bajjis with chutney, sundal (boiled and seasoned chickpeas), and of course sample a wide variety of sea food caught fresh by the local fishermen and cooked right at the spot for you. Visiting the beach for some it is a part of their daily routine, for others a weekend haunt, some come here to seek solitude; some come to celebrate with friends and families. And when it gets too crowded you can always walk along the sea shore, footwear in hand - feeling the wet sand scrunch under your feet as the waves come and kiss your feet once in a while.

Connemara Library: It boasts to be one of the oldest public libraries of the country. I first entered the gates of the library as a college student who needed the reference of a couple of books that were not housed by the college library. The red bricked building with green windows had a look of the old colonial times, people buzzing around in the campus with the tall trees casting tall shadows blocking out the sun offering some respite from the heat. On stepping in, I saw a long hall with  tables lined in the centre flanked on either side by tall wooden racks holding books from the different times, of all possible color, size and volume. It was clearly my Alice-in-Wonderland moment.

And then there are the small moments, the people, tiny details which define my life here. The prospect of  moving means not seeing the patti selling malligai flowers at the end of my street, waking up early and not hearing the suprabhatam, missing the usual greeting from the friendly conductor anna from the MTC bus, no more quick trips to Pondy Bazar, bidding adieu with a heavy heart to the city which introduced me to kotthu parotta and mini idliAs John Denver sings farewell to his sweetheart:

All my bags are packed I’m ready to go
I’m standing here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin’, it’ early morn
The taxi’s waiting, he’s blowin’ his horn
Already I’m so lonesome I could die

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Four months had gone by and they had never exchanged a word. They worked around each other – R filling the water bottle from the water-bubble at J’s side of the room, J leaning over R’s stuff to reach the switch board, R getting back from work to watch another Korean series and laugh out loud over the silly acts, J watching Bade Achhe Lagte Ho and sigh out loudly every single time Mr. Ram Kapoor says something endearing to say to his better half – both moving away, giving space when the other was in the vicinity; communication between them was non-existent. They shared the room, but did not share their words. Each seemed so absorbed, sunken in the silence – that they were wary, almost afraid to break it, afraid to disturb the sanctity of what silence usually meant.

The relationship had soured, and the situation had come to this. Few months ago they were congratulating each other to have found the perfect roommate in the other, and today their silence was only testimony to their acknowledgement for the other. Girls who would spend hours together discussing work, friends, family, shopping in Pondy Bazar and dancing together the crazy moves of meringue and calypso in the weekend held Zumba class – could now barely tolerate the sight of each other. ‘What happened between them’ - neither could figure. Both parties were aware of the relevance of the question, but neither wanted to be the one find the answer.

Yesterday I saw R speaking to the warden. She was paying up her monthly rent. Along with the rent money, there was a letter with the subject: Vacating Room in bold letters. Turns out she is leaving the city and J. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014


She saw him waiting across the road, and quickened her footsteps. Half-running, half-walking she crossed the road, and stopped. They were meeting after four years, and she did not know what to do next. He smiled and said, "Come on here, give me a hug!". She laughed nervously and threw her arms around him, knowing it will never be the same again, she was in love with him.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. WOW theme of the week: Post must contain the word 'Love' and the story should be completed in 5 sentences.