Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Guest post: Siddharth Anikar


On a rainy afternoon, he stared at the drops on the window wondering what he could do to pass the time. As he watched a couple of them race down, he remembered his adolescent and early teenage years when he'd sit and play on his video game console for hours without giving the slightest regard to the weather. He went into his room and dug out an old box and there it was, the mechanical companion who'd given him so much happiness through the years. He wondered if it would still work, so he started looking for the accessories. He found the power adapter, the controllers and the cartridge that had his favorite game. He was ecstatic! He plugged it in and made all the connections like he was Dr. Frankenstein creating his monster. The screen turned on and he started his favorite game. On the screen, it said 1 player or 2 players. Then he looked around the empty room and realized that he was missing the most important thing of all.

Batman and DC fan(but of course!), connoisseur of rock (from death metal to folk, Viking, melodic, etc etc to groove- he knows it all), lover of cats and dogs alike (ahh, kindred spirit!), fellow gif maniac, gamer and another one of those amazing friends! 

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Friends We Have...

1. The one friend you call for help, or when you’re angry or worried, or maybe when you just need a place to stay.  I am so grateful that I have someone like you in my life.

2. The weekly dinners with that one friend of yours. I cannot emphasize how much I enjoy them.

3. The unexpected helpfulness of a friend, and then the subsequent bonding you develop over a little kindness. It’s good to know you have friends who will help you in your hour of need.

4. The sensible friend at work who looks after your best interests, and makes an effort to be a part of your life. What would I have done without you?

5. The friends you call and make sudden plans with. A little excitement goes a long way in life.

6. The one friend from college who welcomes you into her circle with excitement. It’s like the first year all over again.

7. The friends you make plans to go to dog and cat cafes with. Kindred spirits :’)

8. The friends you spend late nights with. We should do it more often.

9. The friends you spend all morning cooking with. I didn’t know cooking could be this fun when you’re around people whose company is never boring.

10. The new sorta friends you make on a trip together. I really enjoyed the journey with you.

11. The friends from school and college who check up on you every now and then to make sure you’re okay. You give me hope.

12. The friend who sends you a heart every morning to cheer you up. You make my day brighter.:)

Fill your life with positivity, I truly believe it makes a difference.The kind of people you ‘choose’ to surround yourself with, they are the ones who will affect your mood in the end. But always, always realize, being happy, staying happy, is a choice, albeit a difficult one, but a choice none the less.

Today, I thought I’d write about anxiety and depression, but I wasn’t ready yet. So instead I chose to write on happiness and positive thoughts. A lot of what I’ve been writing here recently has been about good thoughts, perhaps its experiences, perhaps not, but if you’re hurting right now, I want you to be able to read something that makes you feel a tiny bit lighter.

I don’t know where you are, who you are, but I hope when you read this, you smile a little, hope a little, and feel a little better. You’re not alone, if you need help, you need only ask, for if you ask, only then shall you shall receive. Please take care of yourself, and remember to love yourself enough to put yourself first.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Thank you

1. To that friend who listens to me whine and knows my secrets.

2. To my parents who suffer me and are ultimately always there to support, although they don't make me realise it all the time.

3. To my brother who forgives easily and asks for forgiveness with equal ease.

4. To the wonderful guy who sends me a heart every morning to cheer me up.

5. To the friend who made life a bit easier for four months and who will soon leave the country.

6. To the old friends far away who still call, even when I don't always do the same.

7. To the friends who taught me friendship isn't forever.

8. To the person who taught me what love shouldn't be and to the person who taught me what love needs to blossom.

9. To that stranger who smiled so brilliantly at me that I will never forget it.

10. To the friend who insists I get a jacket and brings a sweatshirt for me.

11. To the stranger who asks me how my day is going.

12. To the friend who makes impromptu plans and brings me out of my comfort zone.

13. To the authors who write books that help me escape.

14. To everyone who shows a little bit of care, unexpectedly, which makes me believe a little bit more in humanity.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Of Happiness

We'd been driving for quite a while now. The winding road led deep into  forests and areas yet to be to be scarred by humans. It was quiet. Trees on either side enveloped the road and hugged its sides. Even the road had someone by its side, I mused.  The canopy gave glimpses of a cloudy sky now and then.

It had been a tough week. Work, family, and relationships, everything seemed to have taken a downhill road. I felt like I was barely holding everything together and not breaking down in the middle of a  meeting seemed like a great achievement. Nights were getting harder, for sleep had become more elusive. Haunting memories of how it was before returned, I had promised myself I wouldn't let myself go through something like that again. But lately that promise had been harder to keep. I didn't want to spend nights drowning in tears and pretending I was happy the next day, again and again. The idea itself was tiresome.

I was broken out of my reverie when his hands laced through mine and held them tightly. I hadn't realised we had stopped. The view was breathtaking. Miles and miles of forests and lush greenery, and a distant river glittering like diamonds in what little light the clouds let through. I heaved a sigh and looked at him. He had already been looking at me...we smiled and stayed, I don't know how long, but it didn't seem like such a long time.

"Are you happy now?", he asked, his brow furrowed with worry. It was so very tempting to straighten those lines of worry.

"Yes..", I replied, "so much." One silent tear rolled down my left cheek. I felt his hand squeezing mine, I squeezed back, and we smiled again. "Thank you", I whispered. He turned my hand and brought it up to his lips, and lightly kissed the back of it.

And we sat like that for a long time, silently, holding hands, perhaps both of us wishing for the moment to never end. And as we sat, for once, the universe did seem to be conspiring for us. If ever there could be a perfect day, it was this and my heart grew lighter as time grew more envious.

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Weekend Getaway

Having finally made up my mind to get at least one thing on my bucket list, while I was still a dependent student, I finally took one to Mysore, during my internship at Bangalore. A small trip, nevertheless baby steps to hopefully something greater. J

The initial plan of taking a train to Mysore completely flopped, it resulted in me standing in quite a bit of awe at the number of people standing outside the Bangalore Railway station at 5:30 am to get a general ticket. I learnt that the reserved compartment ticket counter does not open until 8 am (sighing-I should have booked it online earlier, but no, I wanted to get the experience of booking a ticket just before the journey).

So that resulted in me looking around for a bus to Mysore from Bangalore. Thankfully, previous research helped. I took a bus from Kempegowda Bus Stand to Satellite Bus Stand, which is about a 5-10 minute journey (witnessed a speeding bus hit a bike at a crossroad), and from this bus stand, took a bus to Mysore(they have regular buses from here to Mysore).

The journey was pleasant enough, I was drowsy owing to the early morning waking up (3 am, I kid you not). Soon enough, the half empty bus, filled to capacity, and a man in his late forties sat beside me. Drowsy me chose to ignore everyone until we reached the mid-way point and stopped for tea. Then, I just couldn’t sleep. Soon enough I found an enthusiastic talker in the man, and having received his opinion on how I should proceed, what I should do and what I should never buy (scarves are over-priced in Mysore, he told me), I thanked him for his kind suggestions, he disembarked one stop before me, while I got off on the next.

Google Maps is a life saver, I must admit, and within a 5-minute walk, I was at my booked hostel. A charming, old building, wonderfully placed in a nook, with its own quirks, made me wish I wasn’t just here for one night. It’s a backpacker’s hostel called, The Mansion, 1907, situated within walking distance of the bus stand, Mysore Palace and the zoo. I stayed in a mixed bed dorm, with three bunk beds. A girl from Quebec and two guys from the US were the current occupants, however, there was one more who was never really around (later that night I found his presence in the shape of a human-shaped body on the lower bunk of the middle bed). Having struck up a conversation with the girl, who has travelled to about 11-12 countries(talk about goals), and is still visiting more, led to a conversation among all present.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear an exclamation from the door, and on looking up, finding a colleague I had previously worked with at the door. Such coincidences. A quick discourse revealed he was travelling with his friends and a family member and was here for pleasure.

Having already planned an itinerary and hell-bent on visiting every place I had jotted down after much debate, I embarked after those, after a pleasant lunch. My first destination was Somnathpur Temple, situated about 35 km away from Mysore. Due to perhaps the distance of the place, the place was not much traversed by tourists. A quick talk at the cab agency led me to conclude that I’d be way over budget if I chose to take a cab. The only other option was a bus (unless I chose to hitch-hike, which is a huge no-no in India). From what I had read before, there were no direct buses to the place, I was supposed to take a bus to Bannur, and from there a bus to my destination. The locals I talked to supported the claim. So a bus to Bannur was what I got on. Having no clue as to how I was supposed to change buses, or where, I talked to the conductor of the bus, a lady. She turned out to be one of the sweetest and most helpful people I met there. After we reached Bannur, she got off with me; talked to the conductor of another bus about my destination, and made sure I got on the bus safely. I ended up feeling like a little girl, but hey, I was grateful for the help. The new conductor was another cheerful fellow, who kept reassuring me that he’ll get me safely to my destination, much to my amusement. And voila, within no time, I had arrived. I was bid goodbye with the correct directions to the temple, and a girl who had got off with me, pointed it out while we walked together towards it as well. It was hardly 100 meters away. When I think about it, I am still amazed at the helpfulness and concern of the local people in Mysore and near bouts. It makes me happy and all warm inside.

The temple with its gorgeous architecture did not disappoint; so many stone carvings depicting age-old stories of Gods and Goddesses. Not being a frequented tourist destination, it was serene and retained its magnificent voice, not yet drowned by the crowding hordes of tourists. There I met a young lady, who had travelled one boring Saturday afternoon all the way from Bangalore on her scooty for a quick-getaway, two different Malayali families and the prettiest little girl I had ever seen, she was visiting with her family I supposed.

Soon enough, I was back in Mysore and on my way to the famous Vrindavan Gardens. By the time our bus got through traffic, it was already 7 pm and the sun had set some time back. A short walk down a road had me stare aghast at the sheer amount of humans crowded in there. I decided to move forward anyway, I wasn’t going to go back after travelling for almost 2 hours to get here. I walked down the path that led to the gardens, I didn’t notice the group of men/ boys I had passed until claps and leers drew my attention to them. I glanced back quickly and was a bit shocked to find they were intended at me-a girl travelling without company. It was crowded and it was dark. I chose to ignore them and walked quickly towards the gardens, thinking perhaps I was wrong and simply over thinking this. In order to convince my brain, I walked into the garden, off the path through some bushes and proceeded to stand near a fountain. I was lost in the moment, it was night, the fountains sprayed water on you, and it was pleasant. A few pictures later, I figured there’s more to explore, and started to move away. I turned to move deeper into the garden, but as soon as I did, I got a definitive shock; the bunch of men had decided to follow me into the garden through the same bushes. I admit I was freaked out, I didn’t think they would actually come through the bushes, the same way I had (it was not a path; I had simply used it as a means of escape). I circled around back to the bushes and onto the path again, praying I wasn’t seen. Things that ran through my mind- I singled out a family to whom I could ask for help and prepared whatever resource I could use, just in case something happened, including my voice. So I stood behind the bushes and watched these men look around for me (I could understand pieces of what they were saying, it was Tamil I believe-“where did she go”, “where”). I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw them move deeper into the gardens. I quite literally semi-jogged the opposite way, across a bridge, through those garden, back across the bridge, a short walk, and onto the next bus back to Mysore. Yep, that’s how my visit to Vrindavan Gardens went. Exhilarating, to say the least. After I had calmed down enough, my mind wandered over to more important things, like dinner, and a sudden craving for pasta surfaced. A quick search led me to this quaint little Italian place called The Old House, and I admit the pasta was delicious.

Back at the hostel, I made my getaway to the swing upstairs to just relax and soak in the night. There I found my colleague with his friends. An hour or so passed just conversing, after which I moved downstairs. I thought I could use the time to introspect. Soon, I was joined by my colleague and one of his friends, and before we realised, it was almost two hours past midnight. I can say I genuinely enjoyed our conversation, and there are very few conversations I’d skip sleep for.
The next day dawned quickly, and after a quick breakfast, I went around to the zoo, which was about a kilometre away from the hostel. It would not be wrong to say that it was worth the time. I hadn’t been to a zoo since my middle school and my childish fantasies of visiting zoos seemed to have disappeared. Additionally, all the animals in the zoo seemed to have made a pact the night before, to show their backs to the eager onlookers, and well, that was that. At the zoo, I met a vivacious school-girl of 13, who was on a school trip. She wanted to become a chef and baked quite often, from what she told me. I was glad to have such an animated person to accompany at the zoo, it made it all the more interesting.

Next stop on my list was Bangalore Palace, to which I was running late, having set up a meeting there with the two Americans. The place was teeming with people and it was hot. I have to admit, in its time, the palace must have been majestic in its grandeur and luxury. In its stateliness, it still managed to reflect the opulence it must have once boasted of, a century or so ago. A detailed audio-tour of the private rooms of the palace, and we made our way outside. Our fancy was caught by a horse driven carriage, on which we made our way to look for a place to eat. It was easy to pretend that I was a part of the royal family and was being given a tour of the family’s land, in a decked up private horse-carriage. With such romantic notions in my head, we finished a lazy lunch and made our way to St. Philomena’s Cathedral. One of the tallest churches in Asia and built in Gothic style, it is said to be inspired by the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.  Very soon it was back to the hostel. A short rest, wherein I chose to fill in my travel diary and it was back to Bangalore again. 

I was happy. I had my few brief moments of respite from reality, met a lot of wonderfully helpful people, made momentary memories, and like all things, I let these memories wash upon me one final time and let them be just that- memories- the kind of memories to be smiled upon while absent-mindedly looking into the distance when some fly away thought or a floating word reminds of this place.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Beautiful Conversations

Have you ever had a heart-to-heart with someone? A conversation completely devoid of judgment? Just two people expressing their emotions or stories in a way that suits them best.

Some of the best conversations I’ve had have been with strangers. It’s so easy to forget real life for a moment and lose ourselves in our problems with strangers, knowing that you probably will never see them or speak to them again. There’s something almost magically transient about it, feeling the weight of your unheard stories lift off of your shoulders. It’s like you are losing your worries into the wind whose currents will carry them far, far away, if not for a while, for a moment at least. It’s always left me wondering how easily I can reveal my fears to strangers but not to the ones who love me.  I suppose that’s how all of us are. We tell strangers things because there is no commitment, no staying on until we separate, no promises, unlike with the ones we love and who love us. Uncertainty, the uncertainty of them, of a future with those we love, with the ones who love us, because, let’s face it, it’s human nature, nothing is permanent. I like to think we are all aware of this folly in us, yet we keep hoping, hoping we might be the exception to the rule.

You also learn, when you listen to their stories, their lives. I absolutely adore it. I love listening to their stories, about their families, their hopes, their dreams…so many thoughts run wild through my head and the palpable excitement of their hopes mixes with my own hopes and desire, of hoping for new, different things. You realize there are so many different perspectives to explore and so many lifestyles. Makes you realize how small a part you play in this momentary thing we call life.

And above all this, you develop this ache inside you, an ache to make a difference, to play a small part in their lives, no matter how small, in the hopes that your memory lives on after you pass them by.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Little Things in Life

If you really think about it, there are so many things that could cheer you up, little things, accidental things, stumbling upon an unexpected circumstance, immeasurable, momentary, ephemeral...
Imagine a lousy day, you've been stressed out and overloaded with work, nothing is going the way you want, yes, you know, that kind of a day, what makes you feel good? What makes you feel a little bit better? What makes you happy?

I have thought about it a lot during the past few days, and have deliberated my actions towards those things which make me happy after a lousy day, and trust me, it has helped me feel at least a little bit better.

1. Writing down what I am grateful for. If things are not looking up, and life at that moment seems impossible, I try and remember all the things I am fortunate to have. No, it doesn't always work, but it helps. I also have daily reminders set before I end the day reminding me to be grateful for at least one thing. Every day at 10 pm sharp, my phone pings and reminds me to sleep with a grateful heart.

2. Pizza/ Choco Lava Cake/ French fries. Yes, you heard me right. Eating junk food makes me happy. I don't know how, I don't know why, but it does and it will remain on the top of my lists and I am not ashamed to admit it.

3. Helping a random stranger/ or even a friend, without expecting anything in return. If the world has been especially cruel to you, and no matter how many times you have tried, life just doesn't seem fair, well, what better way to make the world a better place than to lend a hand unconditionally to someone.

4. Thinking of those dear souls who love you and take time out of their day for you. Be it your family or friends, there is someone in the world who cares about you, and you my friend are lucky to have them. Thinking about them makes my heart fill with joy. Be it those crazy friends of yours who take the day to spend time with you, fall asleep during your night movie sessions, come to see you off, send you daily reminders of how loved you are, inspire you to take one more step, or that family of yours, who even though you fight with on a regular basis, you always keep going back to them. Maybe spend some time with them.

5. Treat yourself. Spend a day pampering yourself, Take yourself out on a date, keep those phones away (except to make reservation at that restaurant you always wanted to try out or at that new spa), read a book, pursue a hobby, go trekking, travel, cook, buy some flowers, go crazy dancing or singing, lose yourself in the pursuit of whatever it is you love to do.

6. Connect with your old friends. I admit it, I am a very bad friend when it comes to keeping in touch, I'm horrible at it. So if any of you are reading this (you know who you are), I am sorry. I love the fact that I can call you guys and we can start off as if we never stopped talking. Those precious gems in your life!

7. Clean and organize. I don't know what is it about organizing and going on a cleaning spree that cheers you up. It helps me think clearly, get a better hold on life.

8. Get your perspective right. Write down your goals. Write down how you are going to achieve it, make steps, divide, work on each step, one at a time, tick them off on your list, put milestones, and celebrate when you achieve them.

9. Exercise and yoga.  Burn out all that stress and worry you have been holding up, If you're mad, take it out on that jog and run an extra mile. Or take deep breaths as you take control over your body,

10. Pray. When in doubt, when you feel hopeless, when things haven't looked up for ages, when you feel alone, kneel and pray. Let all your emotions drain and surrender. Perhaps you don't believe in God, and that's okay too. Even if you don't, send a little prayer out into the universe and hope to be heard, you never know if you'll get to hear something back.

11. Cry. Personally, I have never been a big fan of letting people know I cry. But that doesn't mean I never cry. I do. A lot, actually. Just not in front of people. Favorite places include a washroom cubicle, my bed at night or any place where I can be alone until I get a better hold over my amuck emotions. Cry as much as you want, for as long as you want, it is a natural event. And after you're done, promise yourself you will not cry for the same reason. You might not always keep those promises, but it's worth a sincere effort too.

12. Communication can solve a lot of issues. Talk to people. If it's a particular person that has caused you to stress out, be upset or angry, talk to them. Be polite but effective. If it doesn't make a difference, you tried, but if it does, way to go! If you can't talk to that person or if it's an unfortunate circumstance in your life, talk to someone you love, someone you trust, someone who can tell you what to do (if there is a need), someone who can hold you up and support you when you need them, your best friend, you significant other, your family.

13. Do something about your problem. Take a step back, look at your problem, then solve it. If you don't think you can, ask for help. Find out how to tackle it and then do it. Take action. There's a solution to every problem, it's something I firmly believe in.

14. Look up at the stars. Yes. If I am unhappy and I am outside, I look up at the stars. It makes me feel better. Maybe it's the vastness of the universe and realizing how insignificant I am, or maybe it's just the beauty of it, but it helps.

Image Courtesy

This is life. It will have it's ups and downs, and it's up to you to decide what you do during those times. Take only the good from the bad  (more difficult than it's sounds). Be happy.


Sunday, 12 February 2017

The little kid at the airport

Little dark eyes looked up
A wave, and in return a shy smile
Shyness won
Mother's cloth protects against all.
A curious glance, then a shy smile
My heart grew distracted more
Little nothings passed between us
Then they walked away,
The little boy, family, bags and all
To an unknown design.

Monday, 30 January 2017

The January Santa

Past midnight she came, darkness providing refuge,
The stairs grumbled and sighed in protest.
Now the stocking hung, she wistfully watched
The dying embers take their last breaths.
Death called out like a panacea, however,
Reconciliation lay in Time's hand alone.
With morning came, excited voices 
And the pitter patter of little feet.
The stocking discovered, dolls and cars and trains
Held tightly in each little hand.
Unnoticed and unobserved, the little girl held
The discarded stocking close to her little heart.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

By the Window

Sitting by the window seat, the sun shining on my face, I wanted to tell someone how the clouds reminded me of cotton, of perhaps what heaven looked like, of how I wished I could jump from one to another, of what I dreamed and thought about. I wanted to explain how the light shining down on me made me feel different, special, how that one cloud looked like Dory from Finding Nemo, how whenever I travel I play out the scenario of a plane crash in my head, how I've felt the last few days, my hopes for the next few days, my inhibitions and worries, how my heart is breaking and no-one knows.

Sitting by the window seat, I also realised that I had noone to tell them to.

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