Thursday, May 25, 2006

Writing Workshop - X

Prompt: 'State of Mind'

The Living Dead

One moment you're lounging in sunshine and the next moment dark clouds appear out of nowhere and overwhelm you, drenching you in a downpour that has no plans to let up. You sit in the same spot, hug yourself for warmth and stare at the void in front, wondering if the rainbow would ever peek out.

How many hours do you sit like that? 2 mins? 3 months? A few years?. The only truth being that 'few' can be anywhere between 2 and 20. Why do we act so? Why do we retreat into a cocoon after every heart break, disappointment and failure? Do we firmly believe that we would emerge from that cocoon as a beautiful butterfly with myriad colourful patterns on our new wings? Would those wings help us scale new heights with a born-again freedom?

Somehow that never happens. For all the birthdays and anniversaries we missed owing to our short-term memory, our past is one emotional roller-coaster ride that we remember right down to the blue cap of the boy in the 4th row who hid our view of prized possession. The surprise encounters, the funny flips the stomach made, those chance touches, wistful smiles that made the heart lurch...everything plays before our mind's eye like a movie.

Some of us walk out of the hall, remember a few light moments and move onto the day's activities. A few others reminisce about the movie for weeks and months after, re-playing it and having new ideas on how certain scenes should have been tackled. An enlightment that arrives much after Buddha has left the Bodhi tree. Sooner or later, they too return to what one has repatedly called Life.

And then there are those souls that never leave the hall. Souls that retreat into the darkest caverns of the mind with their treasure of memories to give them company. Away from prying sunshine and soothing breezes, one lies forgotten but living in the memories that envelop every waking cell. Slowly the winning smile wanes, the eyes shrink back and one sees but the ghost of of an once admirable soul, wasting years thinking about wasted opportunities.

And there in those deep caverns, one transforms from a beautiful angel to an emotional Gollum, holding tightly to precious memories, leading an empty life. Chained to an irreconcilable past, one waits, oblivious that all one needs to do is to let go and step out into the Light.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Skin Deep Solutions

I don't want a fair complexion, in fact I hate those Fair n Lovely ads.
I love my brown skin, just that I want a flawless complexion.
Soft skin that would make even a jackfruit slide off my arm, not just an ice cube.
I am willing to do anything for it.
But I shall NOT drink Aloe Vera Soup.


I tried adding vegetables to make it a really healthy stew but to no avail, now even the potatoes taste bitter. Sugar, lemon juice, pepper and 2 tsp of salt later I am stuck with a BIG pot of bitter, absolutely unpalatable stew.

I think emptying The Mr's wallet in a spa is easier, simpler and leaves a nicer taste in my mouth.

Aromatherapy -- $65
Facial -- $75
The look on The Mr's face when I propose this plan -- Priceless *evil grin*

I miss the beauty parlours of India where you are pampered for a very nominal charge.
Till then I shall strive for aesthetic nirvana with my tweezers, moisturisers and a bottle of wax :(

The Reply

I started a comment in reply to Rohit's observations, but it turned out to be quite long so I am posting it here. My point of view could be different and I welcome more discussion on it. Thanks for patiently listening :D


I agree with you on just one account. IHF just failed to market cricket the way BCCI has done. They could have capitalised on the image of their star players but instead the present brand image is of adult men squabbling like kids.

That said, I disagree blaming everything on free market and the supply-demand model. How many dream runs do you want before we acknowledge other sportsmen?

  • The Indian Hockey team won the Champion's Challenge Trophy in 2001.
  • We won the Hamburg Masters trophy in 2003.
Did any of us know about all this? Aren't those victories to be applauded?
The President of the Inernational Hockey Federation said, "This is the best team I have seen in years." But the country can't be bothered.

When India lost to Australia in the World Cup, the whole nation turned into a mob. We screamed and ranted and pushed the team to perform better and go all the way to the finals. Do we show such emotional outbursts when the hockey team loses to Pakistan?

Ganguly is dropped and the nation cries. We protest and cry foul of the Selection committee. How many such protests were held when Dhanraj Pillay was dropped? Maybe a handful of his fans and the few journalists who cover the Hockey beat.

I am a huge Dravid Fan. I have a big folder of most of the newspaper articles on him. So does that mean I just forget about Tennis and other sports ? Or am I dismissed as an exception to the rule? Watch Cricket, yes, it's a free market and it's your choice but don't push the other players to the brink of extinction. Just because cricket is marketed well doesn't mean the other sports fraternity should languish without attention in their corners.

A player/team needs motivation to perform. I don't know if you read the link I provided but the article says how in his old age Dhyan Chand didn't want his sons to take up hockey.
Why? Coz the nation forgets you and it doesn't pay your bills at all. How many such talents have we lost?

As for new plans of IHF, there was one about starting a National League(like the county matches). Sahara was the proposed sponsor and ESPN-Star Sports was to be partner for 10 years. I do not know the staus on that front. Maybe if it has indeed kicked off, there could be hope but then again we would settle for Katrina Kaif rather than watch hockey.

Please don't ask them to prove themselves. We support cricket inspite of them doing bad. Why do you want the hockey team to win medals before you would give them a second thought?

Be an ardent cricket fan but don't force the other sportspeople(like the weightlifters in Punjab) to sell their medals to feed their families. That's the worst insult you can accord to them.
Our nation has enough and more religions. Let's not transform cricket into another religion and become fanatic about it.

Give the others a chance.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Forgotten Playground

Hockey may be our National game but hardly a handful know much about it. I didn't either until I sat and researched on the topic for a presentation at office as part of a development program. Thanks to Mr.V for his initiative :)

In an age where county matches in England get better coverage, when birthdays of 'star' cricketers' are days of reckoning, when the 12th man's fracture of his little pinky gets 'Top Story' status, it is but normal if the kid next door thinks Dhyan Chand had something to do with Chandamama comics. The truth is most of us don't know and don't care who Dhyan Chand was, to correct the little kid.

This post is not a history lecture on the origin of Hockey. You can google for all those trivia. This is just small walk down memory lane to see if there is any justification for our indifference to this sport. When one reminisces about Indian hockey, one can only talk about the Golden Era - 1928 to 1956 when we won the Olympic Gold consecutively for 6 years. It's a record that is likely to stand through the ages. But who cares if we won gold in our Olympic Games debut?

The dream run came to an end in the 1960 Rome Olympics final which we lost to Pakistan 0-1. Some say the magic came to an end when astro-turf was introduced. But the Indian team still came back to win the Olympic Gold in Tokyo(1964) and Moscow(1980).

The Indian Hockey team set records of many sorts during their dream run. The 1928 Olympics saw no goal scored against them. 1928, 1932,1936 -- 3 Golds and only 3 goals conceded, Richard James Allen was the goalkeeper of these 3 Olympics. In the 1932 LA Olympics, India beat USA 24-1.

How did USA score that one goal?
The backs had decided to let the Americans have a run, but when they looked behind, there was no goalkeeper. The Indian goalkeeper Richard Allen was signing autographs behind the goal post!

Like an awestruck Dutch journalist wrote :
The Indian ball seems ignorant of the laws of gravity. One of these tanned diabolical jugglers stares at the ball intently; it gets upright and remains suspended in the air. It only proceeds on its way when a player has bestowed a nod on approval on it.

May 26, 1928 -- The Amsterdam Games marked the debut of a Lance Naik from the Indian Army. The incomparable 'Hockey Wizard' Dhyan Chand Singh. Of the 29 goals stored in Amsterdam, 14 were by him. He belonged to an era of Hockey greats yet he stood taller amongst them all. Dhyan Chand scored over a thousand goals in a career spanning 1926 - 1948. Dhyan Chand is to hockey what Bradman is to cricket and Pele is to soccer.

In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, India beat Germany 8-1. Hitler was so impressed with Dhyan Chand's wizardry that he offered to elevate Dhyan Chand's status to a Colonel if he migrated to Germany. He turned down the offer.

The ultimate tribute was paid to him by a sports club in Vienna, which built a Statue of Dhyan Chand with four hands and four sticks. According to them, no ordinary man with two hands and one stick could have played so well. Every age produces its own genius. But the only hockey wizard of the 20th Century has been Major Dhyan Chand, the king among centre-forwards.

Yes, Dhyan Chand's birthday 29th August is celebrated as National Sports Day but damn it! I didn't know that until I read it in wikipedia. Most achievers and their achievements are relegated to the Trivia Hall of Fame; just another statistic that would help us score in a quiz or a GK test paper in school. Nothing more and nothing less.

For all his brilliance on the field, he died an ordinary man without a hefty bank balance. If this is the way we treat our Star players, we have no bloody right to complain about anyone not performing in the international arena.

Need more? Read this article on Dhyan Chand.
Autobiography of Balbir Singh(Senior)

There are more victims of neglect in our country than there are recognised pillars of achievements. The Indian Hockey Federation, like any other body in our country, thrives on favoritism and petty politics. When ego clashes are the norm of the day who has time for legends, be it Dhyan Chand, Babu, Surjit Singh or Dhanraj Pillay?

You don't believe me? Take the case of Rajiv Mishra, another sad tale.

The saddest twsit is we still don't care. When million activities take up our time and attention, we can't be bothered with legends and their fight for survival. No Sire! I can't. I have better fish to cook. Maybe we'll change, when one of us achieves something and not a soul turns up to applaud.

Till then, we can take refuge in nostalgic trips, squinting through the cobwebs to take a glance at precious gems.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Elementary, Watson!

Picked this from Me's page.

find your element

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Through the third eye

I am not a photographer but when the Sky greets you in such vibrant yet soft hues, you can't help but pick your camera and click a few snaps, inspite of shaking hands :)
Picture taken from our rickety balcony in the first week of Spring.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


The Food Blog and the Writing Workshop have been updated.
That's all I have for now.

அய்யா, எனக்கு ஒரு சந்தேகம்

நல்லா தண்ணி அடிச்சுட்டு, ஒருத்தன் உளருனா - அவன் லூசு.
ஆனா அந்த ஆளு ஏன், "நான் Fulla ஏத்தி 'டைட்டா' இருக்கேன்" சொல்றான்??

யாராவது சொல்லுங்களேன்!

Too far to make a difference :(

Thanks to the State Voterlist link in Jinguchakka's page, I realised I do have a vote. Sadly, I can't do anything with it. Damn!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Balance Sheet

Top to bottom.
Left to right.
Every which way,
My life amounts to -

Monday, May 01, 2006

Between Two Worlds: Escape From Tyranny : Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam

Life is never easy. But it takes on exceptional rough turns when it is under a dictator. That's what this book is about; the life of the author as she grew up under the shadow of Saddam Hussein. After choosing 3 fairy tales from the library, I picked this one just to balance the intellectual intake. Little did I know, I was in for an emotional upheaval.

Islam as a religion has always been a mystery to me though there were many good Muslim friends in my life. Religion is always a sensitive issue to discuss and in the wake of million deaths in the name of religion, when it is 'cool' to be secular, the last thing I wanted to do was jeopardize the few relationships in my life, in my quest for knowledge.

This book by Zainab Salbi opens a whole new world to you. A world where tolerance is as much a part as it is in ours, a world torn by differences in sects and castes just like ours, a world where willing followers were led into darkness by an incompetent and despotic leader, who felt the whole world was his birthright since he was denied a happy childhood.

The fear that Zainab speaks of here can never be completely understood by anyone who hasn't lived in such a dark cage; when you feel the walls closing in and you realise the only place you can run is the arms of the Devil himself. It is heart-wrenchingly tragic and numbingly true. For each one of you who wants to know Why Iraqis let all this happen, this book is a must.

For all its plus points, the only thing that nags me is that such a prominent figure like Zainab (she is the founder n president of Women for Women International) should write a book that has typos. I know, I am being silly but then, I would expect someone in her position who has access to the best proof readers in the country to give me a grammatically correct book, if not a politically correct one. It's her story, after all.

That aside, I truly liked this memoir and spent 30 minutes talking about it to Appa, long distance. It has also motivated me to read beyond the first 100 pages of this other awesome book, 'The World of Fatwas' by Arun Shourie, which takes us into the minds of Indian Muslims. The only deterrent has been Mr. Shourie's love for bombastic words which hamper the flow as I need to refer the dictionary every 10th word.