Sunday, March 22, 2015

Defining Happiness

Happiness is an emotion, a state of when one is filled with positive, pleasant feelings. A sense of contentment and joy prevails over one's being. Happiness is unique to every person. It has a different meaning for an individual. It is very subjective, has a personalized touch to it. 

There have been many such moments where I have experienced this "happy" feeling. To me Happiness is ...

When I reach home after a 14 hour long bus journey and Ma welcomes me with open arms.
When I eat the orange ice candy on a rainy day.
When I listen to Fix You by Coldplay.
When I meet my mokka poda oru group friends from Chennai.
When Dada gives me some of his alu posto when I have greedily eaten off my portion.
When Ma applies oil to my hair and I get a head massage.
When I get books as a gift.
When I cook food for my family and they ask for second helpings!
When I see my parents after 3 months in Skype.
When my cousins come over and we have an adda over endless cups of chai and pakoda.
When the project manager takes leave for the whole week.
When I watch a Korean drama starring Lee Min Ho.
When I read an old letter from my husband.
When snuggle into my blanket with Wuthering Heights and a box of popcorn.
When the musty smell of the wet earth fills my lungs.
When India wins a match in the cricket world cup.
When I meet anyone from Jamshedpur. 
When I spot the yellow board written Chennai Central as the train slowly pulls into the platform.
When we have Tamil Nadu meals at Saravana Bhavan.
When I celebrated Holi with my roommates in Marina Beach, Chennai.
When I received a dreamcatcher woven by three of my closes friends as a farewell gift.
When my fiance surprised me at work on my birthday.
When I find money in pockets of my old clothes, folds of notebooks, and my secret hideaway.
When we have ilish machh with hot rice for lunch.
When we go for long drives along NH 44 heading towards Chennai.
When I go for karaoke with friends on Friday evening.
When friends wait patiently, delaying the party plans and I am held at work.
When I eat piping hot gulab jamuns.
When I meet friends from school and we share our memories of teachers, classroom, and days of the past.
When I write putting down my thoughts in words. 
When listening to Vividh Bharati and my favorite song is playing. 
When I watch the old episodes of Byomkesh Bakshi.

It is not en easy task to define happiness. Life consists of so many moments. Each day we build a new memory, something which touches our heart, something we would like to treasure and remember fondly when we get older.

And to make it even better, celebrate these moments of happiness with Coca-ColaPlease do check out their new TVC.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Changing to a New Self

Everyday as she looked into the mirror she saw a fat girl looking back. She would open her closet and look forlornly at her old clothes. She did not fit into them anymore; she had outgrown them. She knew this routine. She would be upset for a while, feel guilty for those moments she had snacked on a few Oreos when no one was looking, steer clear from any fried items, junk, fast food; starve, and then helplessly she would get back to holding a bag of namkeen in her hand and stuffing the contents in her mouth. She felt guilty all along! But there was no way she could break out, and this guilt was consuming her daily, slowly. 

She had a close circle of friends who loved and cared for her. Though she had been living out of a hostel, she never felt away from home. She had got to know them at her workplace, and they all had got along famously. They had so many things in common - year of birth, Coldplay, Friends - the TV series, appetite for hot chilli bhajis,Magnum ice cream, and the list could go on. 

When her weight soared up by 8 kilograms, she became a worried girl. She had been on the better side of "healthy" all her life, but never did the number on her weighing scale frighten her. Suddenly the extra kilos all started making sense to her. In the few days she had to stop often to catch her breath when she climbed up the stairs, the frequent foot aches, glum feeling that accompanied her mood swings - all these moments flashed through her mind. She had to take a bold step to save herself. Save herself from ruining her health, body, and mind. She loved her life at present and too much was at stake for her to lose. 

In her heart she knew this was a difficult target for her to achieve, but she also knew how significant it was for her personal development. Her friends encouraged her when she discussed her plan with them. Finally, she enrolled for dance classes, jogged early morning at Natesan Park, religiously completed 12 cycles of Suryanamaskar each day. There were moments when her body cried out in pain, at the sudden exposure to exercise, but somehow she kept going. It had become a battle between the mind and the heart. Eating small portions of food, stretching between hours at work, walking briskly to the bus stop - she tried incorporating exercise in her routine. She prayed silently for it to work. 

2 months later - she weighed herself at the medical room in her office. She gasped out in surprise when she saw the number on the machine. She now weighed 10 kilograms lesser! It was indeed a moment to rejoice and she literally hopped, skipped, and jumped her way out of the room, and announced the happy tidings to her friends.

As most of you might have guessed, this is a non-fictional account. It was a difficult time for me as I always had faced weight issues, but this time the figures were alarming. I soon figured out that change is not always a bad thing. 

Please do check out this amazing video from Housing who also love change!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lookup to be a Better Person

Chennai is one the oldest cities in our country. The city's walls are seeped in history and culture. Chennai Fort, Connemara Library, Anna Salai, Kapaleeshwar Temple, RK Math in Mylapore, Elliot's Beach, Dakshina Chitra - these are some iconic spots which are the landmark of this ancient in terms of age, but modern in terms of thoughts - city.

When I first decided to come to Chennai to pursue my higher studies, most people on receiving the news expressed their unhappiness. Their unhappiness stemmed from my choice of city. Chennai they told me was hot, humid, and sultry, and this is all they had to tell to me everytime this topic came up for discussion.

Having received a similar response from most of the audience, I was apprehensive of the move. I tried hard not to get influenced by all the feedback, as my bags were all packed, and tickets booked to take us down south to Chennai. Honestly speaking, I was in a state of doubt even when I boarded the train. It was one of my weakest moments in life as I was not sure if my decision would ruin my career plans. In fact, I was not even sure if I would fit in! And then I realized I don't even know the state language - Tamil! 

I was afraid of leaving behind the familiar roads, comfort of the known, and spending the next few years in a metropolis all by myself. Tears welled up in my eyes. Fear had just balled up in my chest, unwilling to leave. 

This was my state when I reached Chennai, after that everything was a rushed affair. Interview at the department, paying the admission fees, hunting for a habitable hostel, moving into my room with two suitcases and a mattress - it was all just a haze.

My parents left for Jamshedpur not much later. I had moved into a hostel not far from the college I was going to attend, and I shared my room with five other girls. Four of them had come from Manipur and one was from Salem, Tamil Nadu. Our language of communication was English. It was clearly understood that all of us had a common grievance, all of us missed our families and were hundreds of kilometers away from the place called home. That moment I learnt an important lesson. In times of sadness, one does not need any language and speech skills to help, and we all became good friends in the course of time.

Due to the nature of my subject of study, I had to frequent the public library where I discovered a treasure hoard of books. For a bibliophile, nothing is as beautiful and breath taking as the sight of a room full of books! It was my Alice in Wonderland moment. That was Connemara Library, one of the oldest public libraries in our country. The library has the distinction of housing all books that have been published in India. Every day as I walked down to the library, I used to thank my lucky stars for getting me to this city.

And for the people who could describe Chennai only by the words hot, humid, and sultry - I feel they need to come and experience Chennai. Come here not for a vacation, not for a flying visit, stay and experience the glory of this old metropolis, understand its culture, enjoy the rhythm of life bustling in its streets, and then lets hear what you have to say!

Chennai transformed me from a timid, unsure eighteen year old to a confident, independent girl. In my mind the city is a beacon of optimism, moving ahead with its glory fighting against the common perception. It showed me to #lookup and discover the wonders around me.

Do check Housing who envision a world full of positivity and possibilities.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Of Road Trips and Togetherness

New city, new house, new office, and new friends - all this novelty means new memories! After my extended period of stay in Chennai for eight years, I was eagerly looking forward to my move to Bangalore. I was told that one of the many perks of being a resident of Bangalore is the proximity to many travel destinations. And in the like-minded company of my spouse, my travelbug self has never been this happy before.

In the past three months, we have planned and gone on four road trips to Chennai, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram, and Madikeri. When the road beckons, there is no looking back. 

One of the points I learnt on these trips, is that teamwork is vital. We need to work #Together, use our existing skills to reach the destination. I am limited by my lack of driving knowledge, but I am good with directions and routes. So while my partner is behind the wheel, I am the designated navigator who is logged into Google Maps in my smartphone, checking and verifying the route and traffic details. 

Some of the best memories from these trips are on the road. I fondly recall the time when slowed down to admire the many plantations adorning both sides of the road. The sight of tall eucalyptus trees, short green shrubs of coffee, and a small house in the middle of all this greenery - it was like a picture from a book. 

Another time when passing through an old town, we were greeted with the many memorable sights - a bullock cart driven by an old man with a white flowing beard, children dressed in their school uniform walking with satchels on their back, walls plastered with the poster of the latest movie running in the nearest movie theatre - it looked like a scene out of its timeline. Somehow the life in a city had robbed us of the simple colors of life. All that looked familiar was the jazz, bright, neon hues of the electric billboards. We missed the presence of the uncomplicated life and appreciated them the few times whenever we got a chance. 

 And when It is late in the night, we are inching our way into the city leaving behind the traffic and darkness of the highway, the sight of the road bathed in yellow light is a relief -  a sign of coming back home! 

Do check Housing to learn more about their optimistic approach to help the world live better. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Unsent Letter

Dear A,

I apologize for not responding to your letter. As I had told you earlier, all my waking hours were occupied by a project of gargantuan standards which had robbed me off the little social life I had for the past few weeks. Now the project is drawing to its closure, I am having some breathing space and am able to sit down and write a letter in reply to yours.

I did not know where to begin. You see, I was hesitating till the moment I wrote down the first word, and then it all came pouring out of me. Most personal letters are intimate; they act as windows to one's soul and mind. Sometimes when one writes, its such a rush that one leaves behind thoughts of apprehension and just pens down their thoughts in a flow. One forgets to hide, conceal what they would have done naturally. So there it is, my reason. But now that I see I have made substantial progress, allow me go on.

A, it was a delight meeting you last December. People say it is the best month to visit Chennai. I am glad you visited the city at a good time. I say this because the same people complain that it is too hot here, and it doesn't get better. December, according to them is the month when its the least hot.

I enjoyed the walk, back from Spencer Plaza. We talked about quite a few things back then. I found you extremely patient as I went on rambling about my work, the books I had been reading, and what my friends had to say about you. I recall that you were smiling. I would be very much interested to know which part of the conversation did you find amusing. Frankly, I was surprised when you showed interest in my work and even suggested a few solutions to the issue I mentioned. Till date I have not been very successful in having a discussion on this subject except with my friends at work. And when I could talk to you about it, I knew that I had found a friend in you. 

When we first started talking back in June 2013, I did not have much hope for us. My search for my ideal partner was drawing a nil, and I had very low expectations. But you surprised me from the first word. How do I summarize it? We connected on so many aspects - our experiences of growing up in a steel city, love for food, Bengali culture, and movies. I could discuss Gulaal, Coldplay, and Posto in the same breath and be understood. Sigh! It was happiness redefined for me.

I hope you would give me a chance to find some moments where I can bring happiness to your doorstep. It is with this thought that I hope we can continue this correspondence. 

Yours truly,

This post is a part of IndiSpire, initiative for Indian Bloggers by IndiBlogger

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Book Review: Ramayana - The Game of Life - Shattered Dreams

This book is the second part in the Ramayana - The Game of Life series by Shubha Vilas. The timeline is set twelve years after Ram's marriage to Sita. The author has drawn influence from the writings of Valmiki and Tulsidas, and attributes his interest in this epic mythological drama to the daily storytelling session by his grandmother. The book begins with Rama's coronation as the king of Ayodhya, followed by Manthara's sinister scheme to crown Bharatha and send Rama to exile, which leads to the death of a heartbroken Dasaratha, and ends with the trio of Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana's departure towards the Dandakarnaya forest. 

High points:

1. The narration is gripping, it kept me hooked to the book with its interesting storyline. I was intrigued by the author's method of looking into the soul of the character and writing out his deepest, innermost feelings. 
2. Each page is filed with vivid description of the scene and the characters. Its like the scene is coming to life in front of your eyes. Its a reader's delight when one gets to read such a visually enriching scene.
3. There is a detailed character sketch for the characters who drive the story forward. I could feel Dasaratha's fear as he was tormented each night by the recurring nightmares, and also his relief when the subjects at the royal court accepted Rama as his successor. 
4. Presence of footnotes. This book is not only a retelling of an epic, but also aims to motivate the reader and help him in his spiritual journey as he embarks on this reading trip. It would not have been easy, if not for the presence of footnotes at the end of each page which offers a simple but detailed explanation for the section referenced.

Low points:

1. Since the book is part of a series, it is best if one has read the first book in the series Ramayana - The Game of Life - Rise of the Sun Prince. 

2. In certain sections, the narration loses its pace and there is an excess of detail which makes it a slow read. But then again good things come to those who wait, so patience is a quality that comes in handy when reading this book.

Final verdict: The Ramayana - The Game of Life - Shattered Dreams (Book 2) is an interesting read for anyone who is looking out for understanding the wisdom concealed within the stories of the epic, Valmiki's Ramayana. It provides a deep insight into the characters mind and also does a brilliant job in recreating the scene in the reader's mind. Since I havenot read the first part of this book series, I would recommend that one should read the Ramayana - The Game of Life - Rise of the Sun Prince (Book 1) first to gain a better understanding of the story and its memorable characters.

This post is a part of Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. Participate now to get free books!