Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jingle Bells

As a kid, I had been fascinated by Christmas Eve. As I grew up, fascination gave way to fondness and familiarity. I do not know how it all began. Whether it my missionary education, or the growing familiarity by reading novels and story books by western writers, or the sheer simple beauty of the festival. The snow, the lights, stars, bells, gifts, the Christmas tree, carols, cakes, cookies, reindeers and Santa Claus; which kid would not be enchanted. And it does not even matter that you are not born a Christian or that you are from a place where the Christian population is small. And therein lies the beauty of the festival.

I have been educated in a Don Bosco School. During Christmas, we would be enjoying our winter vacation. My father served in an university and the students used to organize a Pre-Christmas function in the university auditorium. At the entrance would be a Christmas tree with decorations. There would be dances and carols. "Silent Night" was sung along with a act of baby Jesus with Joseph and Mary. And of course the main attraction of the function, good old Santa Claus. The whole auditorium would echo with "Jingle bells jingle bells, jingle all the way" and Santa Claus would enter and run around throwing toffees. After that packets containing chocolate cake, nuts and toffees would be distributed. We kids used to have so much fun. With the passing years, the function was replaced by a choir group visiting each house in the campus singing carols. Although the function was missed, the sweet music of the carols resonating in the winter air was ethereal.

My sister and myself used to celebrate Christmas in our own small away. With the help of Deta, we would put up star over our front porch light bulb, hang decorations on any plant available and make  greeting cards. Even we are grown-ups now, every Christmas, I give my sister a greeting card and a small gift. Last year we bought a bell and decorations for the house. The bell (hanging between a string of mango leaves!) still welcomes anyone visiting our home. I love movies revolving around Christmas. And this time of year, there are lots of them coming on television.

Christmas caught me off guard in my very childhood and the enchantment is enough to last a lifetime. With the fog and chilly air, along with the bright lights adorning the city is already giving a 'Christmas'y feeling. I am hoping to have a enchanting Christmas this year. Wishing one for everyone out there too! Ho ho ho!

"Christmas, Christmas time is near
Time for toys , And time for cheer
We've been good,But we can't last
Hurry Christmas,Hurry fast
Want a plane, That loops the loop
Me, I want a hula-hoop
We can hardly stand the wait
Please Christmas don't be late"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Chirpy Mornings

Indian House Sparrow

Ever since I moved to my new residence, the first sounds that I hear when I wake up in the morning are excited chirping of the ghor-sirika (house sparrows). In our apartment building, the sparrows rule. The apartment my sister and myself moved into was vacant for sometime, and it became the playhouse cum toilet of the house sparrows.Their favourite hangout trees are the tejpaat (bay leaves) and jetuka (henna), whose branches almost touch the railings of our kitchen balcony. It was my sister who indulged them, not me. In the mornings, she fed them rice grains, cooked rice and even bhujiya (snacks). I tease her saying that she will make the bunch of sparrows obese.

Common Mynah
Feeding birds has been a part of life for our family, especially my father. Back home (in upper Assam), Deta (my father) have built a food tray with a shed, complete with a bowl of water. There is a variety of contenders for the food served there. Of course, like anywhere in India, crows are a menace. But in our home, it is the xalika (common mynahs) who rule. With Deta's daily supply of rice, roti and biscuits, they have literally become plump and lazy. They don't look for food anymore, that too in a place where their natural food is abundant. A couple of daauk (water hens) are another inhabitants of our household. They roam around the drains from the kitchen basin almost all day long. They are very quick runners.

White Breasted Water Hen
A pair of kopou (spotted turtle dove bird) also features in our home compound. Unfortunately one of them was hunted down by a predator, and now only the remaining one roams around. It is really very heart wrenching to watch the lonely lovely dove.

Apart from the birds, the naughtiest house members are the kerketua (grey squirrels). They have their nests up in the jack-fruit trees, feed on any fruit and vegetable available in the house, plus the supplies from my father. They seem to have the  most fun too. You can catch them running and chasing one another around, all day long.

Spotted Turtle Dove
I almost forgot to mention their bathing extravaganza. All the birds including a family of owls (yes, owls!) enjoy a morning or an evening bath (depending on their mood and convenience), in the mini pond created by Deta with an old ceramic basin, originally meant for water lilies.
Grey Squirrel
 
Back in my abode in the semi metropolis, I feel lucky to at least have the sparrows to feed. My sister recently relocated to Delhi for a job opportunity. And the responsibility of feeding these cute things fell on me. By the time I am awake, they are already inside the living room (their playroom) through the ventilators. A week back, they even tried to build a nest inside the panel cover of the curtains. As evidence, I found twigs and feathers near the windows, sparrow shit on the curtains and also one of them inside when I reached home one evening from work.

So the first job in the morning is to feed these all time hungry sparrows. These days I am feeding them bhujiya (snacks) and sweets. Four crows and  a common mynah are also tough contenders of my daily treat. I let the mynah feed but chase away the crows. The sparrows feed and then try to break away pieces of the broom in the balcony for their nest. Absolute 'khai paat phola's (Assamese idiom meaning one who make holes in the very plate he/she eats in). So broom is now inside. However, these birds are my company in the house and connects me to the nature in this fast evolving concrete jungle. Watching and feeding my avian friends in the morning definitely chirps up my day, apart from getting me late for wok.
 
An alarming article I came across today while searching pictures:

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Luxury of an Auto Ride

I work and reside in one of the fastest growing cities of India. Guwahati, the capital city of Assam, the gateway to North-East India. But unfortunately, the modes of public transport in the city has not grown over the years, except for the fares. Especially auto-rickshaws. They are the kings of fare rise. With every increase in the fuel prices, they raise their fares. And mind you, no meter system. I have never seen any auto using a meter till date. The minimum fare has become fifty rupees, which is for a distance not even a kilometer. Two years back, the fare for the same distance was thirty rupees. Well, compared to other metros and big cities of the country, auto-rickshaw fares were and still much higher. In all major cities in India, there is the concept of shared autos. But not in Guwahati. So, an auto-rickshaw ride in this city is either a luxury or a majboori (compulsion)! 

The auto-rickshaw drivers charge the commuters so highly with the excuse of high fuel rise. True, but in ninety percent cases, as per my personal experience, they cheat common people. A late evening, add some rain, and will be charged double or at least fifty percent more fare. Surprisingly, I had the good fate to come across a negligible number of honest auto-drivers. I have been charged twenty rupees and forty rupees in two separate cases for a distance of a kilometer in the past one month.

And as far as the fuel prices reason is concerned, it is high time that CNG is introduced in the city. Or at least, shared autos should be introduced route-wise. This will not only result in lower auto fares, but also make the auto-rickshaw the true common man's vehicle.Don't know when the concerned authorities will take notice of the situation.

Till then, in anticipation of a future, where auto-rickshaws will switch from the luxury mode to the convenience mode..

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Karma

"As you sow, so shall you reap" goes the old English saying. This is the very basis of "Karma". It simply states that if you give good, you will get good, and if you give bad, you will get bad.  Although the philosophy of Karma is known to be of Indian origin, Karma is an universal phenomenon . What goes around, is bound to come around. All major religions of the world speaks of Karma in some context or the other.

According to the Vedas, if one sows goodness, one will reap goodness; if one sows evil, one will reap evil. Karma refers to the totality of our actions and their concomitant reactions in this and previous lives, all of which determines our future. Humans act of their own free will, thereby creating their own destiny. Hence, Karma is not fate. A good summary of the theistic view (of the Vedanta) of karma is expressed by the following: "God does not make one suffer for no reason nor does He make one happy for no reason. God is very fair and gives you exactly what you deserve."

The Gurbani's law of karma holds everyone responsible for what the person is or is going to be. We harvest exactly what we sow; no less, no more. Based on the total sum of past karma, some feel close to the Pure Being in this life and others feel separated. According to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, "According to the karma of past actions, one's destiny unfolds, even though everyone wants to be so lucky".

According to Buddhist Philosophy, Karma is categorized within the group or groups of cause in the chain of cause and effect. Any action is understood as creating "seeds" in the mind that will sprout into the appropriate result when met with the right conditions. Most types of karmas, with good or bad results, will keep one within the wheel of samsāra (cycle of birth), while others will liberate one to nirvāna (free from suffering).

Although Islam views all human dramas as the will of God, the Qur'an states that the good or bad fortunes that befall man are the results of God's reactions to man's own actions. 

If you carefully listen to the song 'Karma is a bitch', you will realize that it's conveying something practical. When loosely translated to English, it says, "This wheel keeps rotating; the whole world dances on its rhythm; if you slip a bit; it shall take you in its control; you shall pay for whatever you do, in this world itself."

Modern theorists argue that Karma is very much predictable like other natural phenomena such as gravity and is devoid of any spiritual linkages. Sakyong Mipham eloquently summed this up when he said, "Like gravity, karma is so basic we often don't even notice it". 

On the other hand, Karma is also considered a myth and illogical. As the Burmese proverb says, "Worthless people blame their karma".

I feel the concept of Karma is very basic and inherent in mankind. From our very childhood, we are taught to be kind and good. We are taught not to do anything bad so as not to displease the Almighty and bring on His wrath. We are taught to be kind, loving, peaceful and helpful because these would please God. These very simple teachings translate into the concept Karma, what goes around, comes back around. Whatever it is, spiritual, cultural, natural, philosophical or illogical, Karma is surely something to be pondered upon. And Wayne Dyer seems to rightly have summed it up,"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours".

Friday, September 2, 2011

Innocence Lost

"Every life is march from innocence, through temptation, to virtue or vice".
~Lyman Abott
 

Children today seem to be fast losing their innocence in line with their senior counterparts losing patience. Almost everyday, I find myself reading news about minors involved in crimes which were supposedly committed by adults alone. Abduction, extortion and homicide are no longer "Don't Do's" in minors' list. Children being used in and being forced into terrorist activities and petty crimes is another story, whereas minors committing crimes on their own accord is a different story altogether. What I am talking about is the latter.

Leave alone the other parts of the country or the world, I am shocked to learn about incidents from my home State. There was incident of a high school "love triangle" where one boy killed another. In another a group of high school boys kidnapped one of their juniors and demanded a huge ransom from his parents. When the father could not cough up the money, the boy was chopped down to pieces. What kind of a conscience does those school going kids have that allowed them to commit such a gruesome act. Today's newspaper features a news that in one town three minors were arrested for raping and then burning a 14-year-old girl. While young boys take the path of violence, young girls  play the role of call-girls (yes, by choice) after classes. Such cases are not new in history, but definitely on the rise in the recent times. Children today are a sad lot.


Motive of majority of such isolated incidents involve money. Why do today's kids need so much money? I feel the answer is linked to the ever-increasing consumerism and the peer pressure to maintain a certain life style. Parents with money give a handsome monthly allowance to their kids. And the reason they put for such extravagance is that they in their times could not enjoy enough because of lack of money and so want their children to make the most of their lives (in terms of having fun and spend money however they want). But sadly, they do not bother to monitor what their children are up to. Kids today need the latest gadgets, have to jump into the latest fashion band-wagon, give treats only in international (at least national!) retail food outlets and go out on expensive dates. And while such kids roam around showing off their branded clothes and latest gadgets, the not so privileged ones do not want to be left out. And hence the answer to their irrational behaviour.


Another reason behind such behaviour I feel is the early exposure to literally anything and everything. Thanks to television and internet, children today are exposed to violence, sex and monetary luxuries from the moment they are born. Children are increasingly faking their age to sign up for social networking sites. On such sites, one can find kids as young as 10 years using abusive language. They are smarter than their parents and can easily breach child locks on both television and internet. Given the circumstances, it is not surprising that we find children around us behaving more and more like adults.


Consumerism, pampering parents and early exposure to the adult world are slowing sucking out the celebrated innocence of children. Being a witness to the depletion of innocence is saddening. In this troubling world, children are meant to be the solace. If even these apostles of innocence fall, where are we supposed to go.

"It may part of a one way evolution... or it may be we are currently on the downside of an innocence cycle where one day, with an up cycle, sweet will be entertaining again".
~Christopher Knight 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Of Starry Skies & Summer


Before the advent of the inverter, power cuts in summer meant staring at the summer starry sky, fanning the mosquitoes away, playing all kind of games in the moonlight, chattering away the power cut hours.

As kids, my sister and myself spent almost every weekend with our maternal grandparents. As power cuts were a regular feature in our town (and it is still is), those black out hours were pretty intellectual for us. As soon as the power was out, we would carry our cane chairs out on the lawn along with the bamboo hand fans. Our grandpa would ask us all kind of GK stuff and we too in turn ask him all kind of questions.We would play "Antakshri", but not of songs but of names of places! If the sky was clear, he would show us the milky way and teach us about the visible constellations. We would search for satellites (moving stars!) and watch out for shooting stars. Grandpa taught us to tell planets from stars. It was during such sessions that I got my first lessons in astronomy.

As we grew older and our grandparents moved out of town, other activities filled in the power cut hours. As we resided in a university campus, we could go on long walks within the campus. Children of the same age group would chat together while our parents would also do the same. Those hours were also that time of day, when  all the family members would come together and have chit-chats. As children, we would listen to the life stories of the elders, funny incidents, family stories, real ghost stories, and so on. We would learn  songs, jokes and games. But of all, I simply loved to gaze up at the sky.  I could look at the moon playing hide and seek with the clouds, while changing its position continuously and twinkling stars at length. The stars, the moon, the clouds, they all gave me a surreal feeling. A feeling that I am a particle of the same mighty universe as they are.

As I grew more older, and pressure of studies built on, I had to stay inside even during power cuts and continue studying. But even though, when I needed a break, I would come out and sit on the front porch steps and look up for sometime.

And now I stay in a city, where the stars are not visible even during blackouts. But thankfully, the moon is comparatively bigger to be seen and luckily visible right from my room window. At times the moonlight falls on my face while I sleep at night and drifts me back to the summer days of starry skies.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Poor Mouse

I woke up to a humid and sleepy morning today. Slowly I dragged myself to the bathroom. To my utter surprise, I found a small mouse in the small bucket in the bathroom. One-fourth of the bucket was filled with water and  only the mouse's nose was above the water. It was very still. I presumed it to be dead. It had surprised me because, I had been at my current residence for almost two years now, but had never seen a mouse in the house before.

Anyways, I started moving the bucket with my feet to make sure that it was really dead. But then it started moving and swimming in the shallow water. It tried to scramble out of it but couldn't as the mouth of the bucket was too high for it. I started thinking how I could get rid of it. My sister was still sleeping and I didn't want to wake her up. And also I couldn't think of killing the poor thing. Ultimately I decided to carry the bucket by the handle and throw the water along with the mouse over the railing of the front veranda. As I live on the 2nd floor of the building, the mouse would fall down and get away from our place for good. 

But the mouse was smart and aimed itself to fall on the slab on the outside of the railing. Well, what now I thought. But I didn't have to think for more than a couple of seconds. As the the very wet little mouse was celebrating it's freedom by the slab corner, a cunning crow was watching it . The crow came swooping down and picked the wet and weak mouse in its beak and carried it away to the neighbouring roof! The poor little thing was squeaking it's heart out.

Poor mouse. For all it's struggle from keeping itself dying in the water for ,God knows, how long, it ended up becoming the breakfast of the crow. Life can treat us real funny at times. When we think we had just been  spared, life  nails us. And when we think we are thrown deep down in a hole, life throws in a long rope.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Of Dust & Ashes

What is Life? As a student of a missionary school, I learned in the Moral Science subject that life is a gift of God. Now who is God? Again, God is the creator of all, who is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. 

Starting from the tiniest micro-organism to the largest animal, there are zillions of lives. Everyone has its own story. And everyone of us live in a limited world of existence. For a plant, life starts in the form of a seed, which grows up with the help of water and sunlight, bears fruit (which is food to somebody up the food chain), get its seeds pollinated by pollinators and dies sooner or later. Apart from the regular life activities of growing, being food to someone else, reproducing and finally dying, animals have some additional activities like fighting for power, defining territories and doing specific activities in the herd.

It is said that on Earth, human beings are the supreme beings and God created us in His like (I often wonder,  why on earth were we human beings entrusted with all the knowing. It could have been anyone of all the species!). We, too, spend our lives in the regular life activities like any other animal. Only in addition, we fight for anything and everything.

Life is time bound and the world is beautiful. So are we supposed to live the beauty and contribute to the same or make it ugly by complaining and fighting. As I see it, from time immemorial, human beings have been craving and fighting for power alone. It may be power in the form of beauty, money, leadership, control, religion or possession. Power is momentary because it ends with us. But the beauty of good is eternal.

I am not an atheist. I believe in that Supreme Being that pull the strings of us all. And I feel His presence in everything I see and know. But I also feel that religion is the worst gift that He had given us. It makes me sad when people propagate that their way of knowing Him is the best. There is no best way to know Him, but only one--faith and faith alone.

In the movie 'War of the Worlds', there is a shot where it showed the micro-organisms inside a plant and the scene slowly zoomed out showing first the plant, then the area, city, country, Earth and finally the Earth as a speck in the universe. In the movie 'Men in Black', in the end, it is shown that big creatures are playing dice with the celestial bodies. Who knows, that might be true!We are among the tiniest of the tiniest part in this universe. I, personally, am awed by its vastness.

The universe is endless and timeless. And yet we think we are the mightiest and the greatest. Our problems, our thinking, our stubbornness proves to be trifle and ridiculous in comparison. The things that we love, fear and fight for are belittled by it. We all are a part of a much bigger plan. There are things to see and know beyond our regular lives. We are a part of the universe and we shall be going back to it when we die. No matter how much we fight for power, it doesn't matter in the end. It is not going to change the fact that we are made up of dust and ashes, and dust and ashes we shall be when we cease to breath...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book-Smitten

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."  ~Charles W. Eliot

I have been in love with books as long as I can remember. Books has always been my best friends. As a kid, when I used to visit my relatives and family friends, I would ask for a book (in relevance to my age of course) and settle with it in a corner and be engrossed in it for the whole time.

I guess I have got my love for reading from my parents. I have been always surrounded by books. The last thing my father does before going off to sleep is read. And I, too, have inherited his habit. My mother always finds some time to read something or the other in the day, no matter how busy she is. My sister and I used to compete (and we still do), so as to who can read which one first and threaten the other to disclose the ending.

"Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. " ~Author Unknown

With books as my companions, I have traveled far and wide. I have been enchanted by fairies and pixies, lived the life of a boarding school, solved mysteries and discovered new places, laughed and cried with the characters, walked along the corridors of history,  charmed by the princes and princesses, mesmerized by the striking similarities of different faiths, exalted and disparaged famous and ordinary lives alike, but have drawn lessons and knowledge from all.

"Books are a refuge, a sort of cloistral refuge, from the vulgarities of the actual world. " ~Walter Pater

There is a book for my every mood. Reading makes me forget all the worries of life and transports me to a different world altogether. As a child, I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton books. I think I have read all of her books available in our school library. When younger, her stories of fairies and magic were a treat. How I wished that I too had a little fairy or a pixie  for a friend. As I grew older, her boarding school tales and mystery solving children replaced the fairies. There were also Tinkle, Panchatantra tales and Budhi Aair Saadhu. Then came the season of Nancy Drew and Archies, followed by Mills & Boons and Sidney Sheldon. As an adult, I started reading  biographies, religion, philosophy and semi-biographical novels. I am patron of Paulo Coelho. These days I am trying out books and writers of different genres. Books , which I have read recently, like Jinnah, The Twentieth Wife, Bengal Nights, Myth=Mithya, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, Prisoner of Birth, Like A Flowing River, The Memory Keeper's Daughter and so on are all from different walks.

"Good as it is to inherit a library, it is better to collect one."  ~Augustine Birrell
 
When my sister and myself were small, our maternal grandparents gave us whole trunk full of story books which belong to our mother and her brothers. At home, my father has a small library. So having known the joy of books, I promised myself that I would get myself at least one book a month when I start earning. And my collection is slowly growing.

"A blessed companion is a book, - a book that, fitly chosen, is a lifelong friend,... a book that, at a touch, pours its heart into our own."  ~Douglas Jerrold

I believe I have been smitten by books for life. With them, I am never lonely. With them, I am happy. Being lulled to sleep by a book at night is my perfect ending to any imperfect day.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Butterfly Connection

I do not know what is with me and butterflies. I am simply fascinated by this creature. I don't know what is it about it that attracts me so much. But I feel I am connected with it somehow. So I finally decided to look up as to what a butterfly signifies and how it is meaningful. I was surprised of what I found. The butterfly has a lot of symbolic significance especially for women.

The butterfly is seen as a symbol of rebirth and/or transformation. A caterpillar is a rebirth of the cocoon which ultimately becomes a beautiful butterfly. On the other hand, it stands for transformation, because a caterpillar is not the best sight, but when it transforms into a butterfly, there is hardly any one, who would not like the sight of a butterfly. At the same time, before the caterpillar turns into a butterfly it has to wade through hard and rough times. So a person who has carried himself/herself through turbulent times can also use a butterfly to signify that.

Butterflies are considered to be delicate creatures and so are taken to stand for delicateness. But though butterflies have a delicate look, actually they are way stronger than we presume them to be. Therefore, women might also want to convey, through a butterfly, that although they look delicate on the exterior, they are way stronger from within.

It is a common misconception that if the wings of a butterfly are touched, it may die. So the butterfly stands for fragility of life as well as simplicity.

The butterfly is also a symbol of freedom. A butterfly has no restrictions while it flies. It goes in any direction it feels like and sits on anything it wants to. So a person who utilizes his/her freedom to it's maximum potential and there is hardly any things that can put brakes to it, can use a butterfly to denote the same.

Two butterflies in playful mood around each other is seen as a symbol of love.

There are many links with butterflies in mythology from all over the world, many of which, in particular Greek mythology, link butterflies to the human soul. In ancient Greek the word for butterfly is "Psyche", which translated means "soul".The Ancient Greeks also considered butterflies as the souls of those who had passed away.

In the same lines, i.e. human souls, a butterfly is a typical symbol of "After Death Communication" (ADCs or ADC signs).  ADCs/ADC signs are signs received by people which affirmed that their deceased family member or friend had survived physical death and continues to live in another dimension of existence. Typical symbolic ADCs include butterflies, rainbows, flowers, many different species of birds and other animals, and any number of inanimate objects. I won't dwell more on this subject as it is of a different genre altogether.

Apart from it's symbolism, the life of a butterfly is fascinating too. It's journey from a egg through a larva and chrysalis into the ultimate breathtakingly beautiful butterfly is simply amazing and inspiring.

The butterfly is essentially a symbol of change, hope, joy and color. In my place, it is said that if a butterfly sits on anybody, he/she will get married soon! This is from the book Animal Speak, by Ted Andrews:
"Butterflies bring color and joy with them.  When butterflies come into your life look at how much or how little joy is within your life.  Lighten up.  Look for Change.  Don’t forget that all change is good.  ...Transformation is inevitable, but butterfly will help teach you that growth and change does not have to be traumatic.  It will teach you that it can occur as gently, as sweetly and as joyfully as we wish."

Going through various articles and writing this post, I have found my connections with this pretty creature and also drawn various lessons. May be I was a butterfly in some other life or might come back as one to check on my loved ones after this life. I don't know, but I do know for sure that I definitely have a butterfly connection.

Information sources:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

One day--Many lives

One day--duration of the Earth's single rotation. But it's a single day of life of every single living being on this planet. And for a mayfly it is its entire life.

One any given human day... 
  • Someone is born. Someone dies. 
  • Someone was waiting for it. Someone was dreading it. 
  • Someone is happy. Someone is sad. 
  • Someone is laughing. Someone is crying. 
  • Someone is sound asleep. Someone is wide awake.
  • Someone is waiting. Someone just arrived. 
  • Someone falls in love. Someone breaks up.
  • Someone is getting married. Someone is getting divorced. 
  • Someone is tensed. Someone is relieved.
  • Someone is enjoying. Someone is suffering.
  • Someone is wasting food. Someone is hungry.
  • Someone is thankful. Someone is complaining.
  • Someone is mean. Someone is kind.
  • Someone is praying for the sun. Someone is praying for rain.
  • Someone gets promoted. Someone gets fired.
  • Someone passes. Someone fails.
  • Someone wins. Someone loses.
  • Someone makes peace. Someone fights.
  • Someone is living a fairy tale. Someone is living a war.
  • Someone loves. Someone hates.
  • Someone forgives. Someone avenges.
  • Someone is running from family. Someone is longing for one.
  • Someone is lonely. Someone wants to be alone.
  • Someone is charmed. Someone is disgusted. 
  • Someone wins a lottery. Someone loses every penny.
  • Someone sees a ray of hope. Someone loses all hope.
  • Someone starts believing in God. Someone turns an atheist.
  • Someone is praying for another day of life. Someone can bear no more.
And when it ends, it had been one day and millions of stories.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sea of Words

A year back, a colleague and friend sent me a gift subscription of AWAD (A.Word.A.Day), a web Newsletter of Wordsmith.org

It sends one new word everyday to my email.It gives the word, its pronunciation (with an audio file), meaning, etymology, earliest documented use, usage and a thought for the day. The newsletter takes me to a world of new, most unusual and intriguing words. Every week, words of a particular theme (it might be common origin, certain forms, double identities, etc.) are introduced. It's a whole sea of words and makes me realize how less such words are actually used. I shall cite a few examples and restrict to their meanings only:
  1. Usufruct-- noun: The right to use and enjoy another's property without destroying it. 
  2. Taradiddle or Tarradiddle--  noun: 1. A petty lie. 2. Pretentious nonsense. 
  3. Triskaidekaphobia--noun: Fear of the number 13. 
  4. Pedigree--noun:
    1. Lineage or ancestry.S
    2. A distinguished ancestry.
    3. The origin or history of a person or thing. 
  5. Schwarmerei-- noun:
    1. Extravagant enthusiasm.
    2. Excessive sentimentality. 
  6. Lebensraum--noun: Space required for living, growth, and development. 
  7. Seadog--noun:
    1. A veteran sailor.
    2. A harbor seal.
    3. A pirate or privateer.
    4. A faint rainbow-like formation seen in foggy conditions. Also called mistbow, fogbow, and white rainbow. 
  8. Tautology--noun:
    1. Unnecessary repetition of an idea, especially in different words, for example, a good-looking beautiful woman.
    2. In logic, a compound statement that is always true, irrespective of the value of its components, for example: Tomorrow either it will rain or not rain. 
  9. Excommunicate--verb tr.: To formally exclude someone from a group or community, especially from a religious community.
    noun
    : A person who has been excluded in this manner.
    adjective
    : Having been excluded. 
  10. Sidereal--adjective:
    1. Relating to the stars.
    2. Measured with reference to the apparent motion of the stars. For example, sidereal time. 
  11. Jejune--adjective:
    1. Dull; insipid.
    2. Lacking maturity; juvenile.
    3. Lacking in nutrition.
Previously the newsletter used to send 7 words a week, but recently it decided to bring it down to 5. It says that they are getting complaints of over information and subscribers are asking for more applicable words. Whatever it is, for me personally, wordsmith.com is enhancing my knowledge and vocabulary base. I have a separate folder in my mailbox where I store all the words emails so that I can go through them again in future.
I thank my friend who introduced me to this vast sea of words. Ironically, he  himself does not  go through the newsletter anymore for the same reason, over information. 

Anybody who is interested can click on the link mentioned below.

http://wordsmith.org/awad/index.html 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Animated Lessons

Most people generally have the notion that animated movies are made for children and they are the ones who are meant to watch it. But anybody who watch animated movies will testify that the movies have lessons and morals for everyone. 

I am an animation movie freak and can watch them all day long. I am often teased about it and told that I am still a little girl. But I don't really mind . If people don't watch them just for the sake of being grown-ups, they are missing out on valuable and forgotten lessons. Last night I watched 'How to train your dragon' and it was simply amazing. It talked about pressure of expectations, parent-child relationship, friendship between man and animal and mostly about believing in oneself. Any given animation never fails to teach us a lesson. I will share what such movies have taught and reminded me:
  • Spirit---  to have an indomitable spirit and never give up
  • Toy Story series--- friendship. teamwork and cycle of life
  • Shrek series--- love, never giving up, value what we have
  • Ice Age series--- friendship, kindness, respect for all living beings
  • The Wild--- parent-child relationship, setting examples, overcoming our fears
  • Finding Nemo--- love of parents, inter-dependency of beings
  • The Incredibles--- importance of family, coming out of shell and teamwork
  • Madagascar series--- friendship, leadership, courage
  • Lion King series--- lineage, courage and leadership
  • Wall-E--- effects of human activities on the Earth and nature, importance of protecting the environment, spirit of the human race
  • Despicable Me--- everyone has a soft side and goodness inside
  • How to train your dragon--- pressure of expectations, parent-child relationship, friendship between man and animal, believing in oneself, listening to our heart, be what we are
  • A nightmare before Christmas--- everyone has individual roles to play and reversing roles only lead to disasters
  • Up--- love, companionship, spirit of life
There are many more instances. Such movies amuse and bemuse me at the same time. They neither fail to teach me a lesson nor fail to lift up my spirits. Being an ardent fan of animated movies, I prefer this kind over real people movies any given day. Be it children or grown-ups, there are animated lessons for all in all animated movies.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Joy of Shopping

I simply love to shop. But I don't shop till I drop. And so I cannot be labelled as a shopaholic either.I realized how much shopping can be liberating after I attained financial independence. Earning my own bread and butter gave me license to spend.

I am often being remarked on how often I get stuff for myself and the house. Though I don't shop in bulk, I buy things often. Be it apparels, accessories, gifts, cosmetics, books or anything else. The truth is buying things, no matter how petty they are, makes me happy. When I am sad or I get lonely, shopping gives me refuge. When I achieve something, I shop to celebrate. When there is some occasion, I shop to gift myself. And sometimes it becomes a source of entertainment. Shopping experience is truly my spirit lifter.

I am a shoe fetish. But footwear shopping often ends in frustration. The reason being my shoe size. It is a couple of times smaller than the standard size (No, I am not mentioning my size here), I hardly get it at one go. And so if I get my size in a single attempt, it has to be my lucky day.


When I was still studying and had limited pocket money, I promised myself that I would at least buy a book every month when I start earning. And I  am almost successful to keep that promise each month. And I mostly do that online. A year back or so, the bug of online shopping bit me. And since then, I have been buying things online including books. It is amazing how you can shop sitting in front of your PC and getting the stuff right at your doorstep.

Men has always acknowledged shopping as the most irritating activity of women. But they fail to acknowledge it as a wonderful stress buster. As Elayne Boosler rightly quoted, "When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping.  Men invade another country.  It's a whole different way of thinking". And I feel that unless we are shopping ourselves to bankruptcy, it is a healthy habit!!!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sorry--the hardest word

In the recent times saying "Sorry" seems to be becoming increasingly difficult for us. Be it our personal, professional or day-to day life. It reflects the fact that we are so much reluctant to admit our fault or mistake, no matter how trifle the fault may be. This is evident in smallest of examples.

I travel in public buses everyday to and fro work. Many a times, my head becomes victim to the elbows of ladies passing by my side. Sometimes my head is hit so hard, but the person never remember to apologize. In another incident, I was wearing pointed heels. That evening I was very tired and weary about something. And in the bus, I stepped on lady's feet in the crowd. And I am embarrassed to say that I forgot to say sorry that day. These are small instances but they really got me thinking.

We will have innumerable situations in our personal as well as professional lives where we find it really very difficult to say sorry. A trifle with a colleague, but why should I say 'sorry', let the other person apologize first. A quarrel with our fiancee/spouse/sibling/friend, I won't say 'sorry' first. These are our normal thoughts. This is because we associate  the word 'sorry' with admitting defeat. The ultimate culprit being our big inflated ego. And we choose to forget that having a fat ego can easily break invaluable relationships. This is not only restricted to our individual lives but extends to the entire human community.

Like any siblings, me and my sister fight a lot. When we were younger, we would go for days without talking to each other. But now we have become wiser, and when we have quarrels, we say sorry and make up immediately (that means within a couple of hours!!). I once had a trifle with a classmate and we didn't communicate for almost a year.

Keeping a fat ego for a pet has never benefited anyone nor it will ever. Saying 'sorry' do not always means admitting defeat. It also means that 'I care'. So we should all try and start saying 'sorry' whenever needed even if "Sorry seems to be the hardest word". And trust me, it always makes you feel better.