Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gifts etc

An article in today’s newspaper was something in the vein of “Least romantic gifts a man could give a woman” and it listed out five points, or five items.

1. Tools. This includes anything that involves her breaking a sweat. It doesn’t matter if she hates the vacuum or needs a new hand mixer for holiday cooking; they are still associated with work. Work is never romantic.

I wouldn’t mind being gifted tools. I like tools, they are helpful, especially for people like us who like doing things themselves and wouldn’t call an electrician or mechanic unless everything is completely disembowelled and there is no hope of putting it back together.

2. A stuffed animal. Unless your partner is in high school, or insane, a stuffed animal is tacky. Especially the kind that comes with sets of perfume, chocolates or any product that doesn’t need a stuffed monkey to make a sale. Flowers are incredibly romantic. Flowers held by a dog with a heart on his chest that says “I Ruff You” is a crime against common sense.

Completely agree with this one. I think stuffed animals should not be sold to people above the age of ten.

3. A pet. While a pet is an incredibly cute gift, it’s also a huge responsibility – which is why it’s one of the least romantic gifts, when you think about all the work a pet entails.

A pet as a gift would be wonderful – I've always liked animals. But our current housing situation does not allow us to keep pets so I'm not keeping any. If and when we move to an independent house I would think of getting one.

4. A self-help book. She doesn’t want the one she loves to present her with a book to solve all her problems. You are supposed to think she is perfect. Regardless of whatever personal issues she needs to walk through, she doesn’t need to be reminded of them on her birthday or on your anniversary.


5. Gift Certificates. A gift certificate is a great way to say: “I know nothing about you, so here; go buy yourself something from a store I think girls like you would shop in.” Do you really want your girlfriend or wife thinking you spent three minutes on her gift?

A gift certificate is light years better than a gift you hate, eg clothes/jewellery you know you'd never wear but you have to smile happily and ooh-ah at the right places because it’s a gift after all and you don’t want to look ungrateful. Oh by the way, for all you gentlemen, if you're gifting jewellery, don’t give fakes. If you can’t afford the real mccoys, buy something else other than jewellery.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Don't worry, be happy

Haven’t we heard it all- pearls of wisdom, secrets to a long life, shortcuts to happiness etc etc. The other day I was listening to a radio show and the RJ was reading out from a list – 30 ways to be happy, or something like that, and what was in that list really made sense. I mean it was not some unachievably nonsensical things like “Think high quality thoughts” or Forgive and forget” or “Achieve inner harmony” etc etc. it was simple achievable things like “Read a comic book” “Look at your old photos” “Watch the sun rise” etc etc. I have my own list. It might not make you happy, but it works for me. You may have heard of them somewhere before, but well I never claimed to be original when it comes to this subject.

Get a good night’s sleep: If I don’t get my seven hours my whole day is spoiled, headaches and dizzy spells and general grouchiness envelops me all day. Get a sound sleep, wake up, take a refreshing bath; it’s one of the best feelings in the world, and you’ll feel ready to take on the most challenging things in the world.

Get in touch with your old friends
: This is one thing you should do. I'm not saying go to every class reunion just because you sat with them in a classroom fifteen years ago, but track down your old buddies, make that phone call, send that email, I guarantee you it’s a nice feeling. Recently an old friend of mine emailed me out of the blue and it felt good being remembered.

Smile and the world smiles back: I'm quite a miser when it comes to smiles. People have asked me many times why I am so serious and so unsmiling; so I tried to be a bit more cheerful and a bit generous with the smiles and to my surprise I didn’t look like an empty headed fool - people actually smiled back.

Do something you love: This is a bit tricky. We’ve all heard the saying “Do something you love (for a living) and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Finding something you truly love is very difficult, especially for someone as vague and oscillating as me. I'm still looking, still trying to figure out what makes me really happy, what kind of work I will never get bored doing for the next forty years.

Clean up: Inside out. Clean your house, clean your room, scrub that bathroom floor, and dust that shelf. Empty your thoughts, your feelings, tell it to someone or to your diary.

Can’t forget? Try forgiving: Don’t hold grudges, it will only fester inside you without the other person ever knowing and in the end it is you who suffer. You don’t have to go and tell the other party how you’ve forgiven him/her and make a spectacle of yourself, forgiving is inside the heart. Once you’ve decided to forgive, that wound which was unhealed automatically gets itself healed, making space in you for more wonderful feelings and emotions.

Laugh: Read a funny book, watch a funny video, laugh at something funny your friend has posted online, talk to someone who makes you laugh. Do it in the morning before you leave for work/college. It will be with you all day and will help you get through a difficult day. This has always worked for me, but the side effect is that you will remember that funny thing at the most inappropriate times, so self control is very much required. But laugh inside.

And last but not the least - go shopping.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Another one bites the dust

I was eating lunch today in the cafeteria when I first heard about Prabhakaran’s death. It was on TV, “Prabhakaran Dead”, written in big bold letters. I returned to my desk and immediately logged on to BBC, and there it was – Prabhakaran shot dead. I was not surprised, but I kind of felt sorry for the man and his lost cause. He fought long and hard for 37 years for a cause he truly believed in, and all he got in the end was a gruesome death, “His body was badly burnt when his armour-plated van was hit by a rocket and burst into flames.” – Died like a true hero, or rather, a true villain. If it was the movies, after making his escape on foot /by car/train/plane he would be pursued by the hero who would eventually catch him and they would fight ferociously and recklessly, and since he was the villain he would die the most horrible and nausea-inducing death, he would fall off a cliff and bounce on the rocks a hundred times/would get his head blown off by a rocket or bomb/would be impaled on a sharp rock/fence/wood that would conveniently be found at the fight scene/ would get crushed by some heavy machinery / or get sucked into a huge rotating fan or wheel and blood would splatter out .... you get the picture.

When we think of LTTE the first thing that might come to our minds is Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination on 21 May 1991. I remember that day, or rather one thing about that day. A neighbor (who at that time was a politician’s wife) came running into our house blabbering “They've killed him, they've killed him.” The whole country mourned, and Rahul Gandhi so young and lighting his father’s funeral pyre must have evoked many tears. Those images and memories came back to me when I first heard of Prabhakaran’s death.

I don’t know if it is an indication of abnormality or strangeness, but dead rebels and captured terrorists/criminals always bring out the sympathizer in me. I hated Saddam Hussein like everyone else did when he was in power and he was the big bad guy, but the guy got captured and photos of him with his unkempt white beard came out, and he looked so pitiful and so like somebody’s father/grandfather. I felt a bit sad the day he was hanged, and the videos made everything somewhat sadder. Kasab, one of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai, got captured, and he looked so young and so vulnerable. He no longer looked like the machine-gun-toting bullets-spraying maniac. He looked like somebody’s son.

A few days ago some photos of Prabhakaran were published in the newspaper; in the swimming pool with his son, with his parents and wife and children. He looked very normal, like any regular family man, and if you’d seen that photo anywhere else you'd probably have thought “Oh just another South Indian family.”

In the end, we all die - no matter how good or bad we are.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sing-along Saturday

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” we used to write in our handwriting class in school. Miss Lucy was our handwriting teacher, and she was very particular about it. I remember one day she taught us which alphabets have loops and which do not have (b, f, h, k, l were the looped ones, d, p, t the unlooped ones). We used to have that work book aptly called Cursive Foster, the beginning pages would have sentences whose words were dotted and we had to trace the dots, thus in a way learn cursive writing. As the class progressed and as we went deeper into the work book, the dots slowly disappeared so that by the time we reached the end of the book the dots were completely absent and we were supposed to be able to write perfectly in our own nice cursive handwriting. No wonder everyone had the same handwriting back then.

Then we went on to class 5, and Miss Sangte-liani was our Games teacher. We never actually played any games; she used to teach us old songs. Well, nowadays you can find almost everything on the internet, and I looked for two of those songs, the only two I can still remember, as of now. One of them was The Old Folks at Home, which I discovered is the official state song of Florida; you can read more about it here. And then there was Polly Wolly Doodle - here’s Shirley Temple singing it in the movie The Littlest Rebel.

Don’t have any money, you’ll still be bright and sunny, sing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Second chapter is out

Go check it out. I know I look like a depraved person, announcing a new blog post on another blog, but well, it's so exciting. I promise this is the last time I will announce any new chapters or new stories, so kindly forgive my insensitivity and insanity. Will come up with a new blog post soon, very soon.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Story

So I went and got started on a story. I've written only the first chapter, you can read it here . Yes, I've created a new blog where I will post the stories I write, assuming I write more chapters and more stories. I thought a lot about stories the past week, and decided it was best to just jump in instead of looking from the outside and wondering how deep the water really is. Let’s hope I don’t drown or get lost among the sea weeds and ocean junk. Please read it and let me know what you think of it. If it's good, bad, okay, unbearably boring, silly, anything, whatever your opinion is let me know. I'm itching for your feedback. Say whatever is on your mind, my feelings won’t be hurt.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Joy Journal

I love diaries and writing in them, it’s something I inherited from my father; he’s kept diaries for as long as I can remember. If you go through his old stuff you’ll find some curved mildewed diaries of all shapes and sizes, some dating back as far as the 60’s. My father’s father, a schoolteacher for forty plus years, was also a great lover of the written word. He regularly contributed to the newspapers and magazines of his time, I don’t remember much about him because he lived in Champhai and died when I was twelve, but he would send us letters all the time, written in his curvy handwriting and always writing something encouraging.

I think I was unconsciously influenced by my father and grandfather to write. When I was a kid I used to write stories all the time, that is I would get some grand idea and would start writing a story (it was always about princes and princesses) but I never finished a single one. So much for perseverance. Until now I haven’t written a single story yet, haven’t tried it once, although I've read a million stories and have a fair idea of what would grab my attention and what would make an interesting read. The thing that’s holding me back is fear of failure. “I've never studied literature and drama and how dialogues go and how to properly frame sentences and paragraphs and whatnot, I don’t want to make a laughing stock out of myself.” I know it’s a silly silly thing and that you’ll never know unless you’ve tried it and that there are millions of material and courses out there that would help me polish my skills a bit and help me grasp the lowest rung so I can slowly inch my way upwards - but I'm too lazy to do some research and some digging around. Never mind, this post isn’t about my writing skills, or lack of; it’s about diaries and journals.

At some point in our lives I guess we’ve all kept diaries or journals where we write down our innermost thoughts and feelings and sometimes some downright ridiculous stuff which at the time seemed normal and important but when you go read it again after a few years you realized how silly it really was. When I started out I mostly wrote about everyday life, what I did, what I ate, who I met etc etc the usual girl stuff. Then it went on to feelings, thoughts, ideas, dreams, and daydreams. If something nice happened I would record down entire conversations, or what I could remember of it. But I rarely write when I'm happy, I write when I'm sad and angry and mad. Some people when they are sad/angry/mad cry and scream and shout, some people break things, some people sulk, some people write poetry and sad songs, me I write whatever is in my mind. And tear it off and throw it away later.

Recently I came across an article, I don’t remember if it was from the newspaper or from the internet, which said we should all keep joy journals. You know, journals/diaries where we write the things that made us happy, or something good that happened to us. Count your blessings sort of book. It should not be something that you wished would happen to you (like winning the lottery or having all the pretty girls/guys fall for you). It should be something that actually happened and that made you sit back and smile and feel good. Nothing is too small or insignificant, nothing too unimportant or trivial. If it makes you happy, write it down. “I went shopping today and didn’t look fat in the dressing room mirror.” “The taxi/auto driver actually had change today, for a change.” “My boss gave me a pat on the back for a job well done.” “My mother-in-law postponed her visit by three days.” “My roses bloomed.” “My phone bill was surprisingly low.” “The temperature went down by two degrees.” Etc etc . It’s up to you to decide what is important and what is not. If nothing makes you happy, don’t write anything, leave that day blank. If negative and sad thoughts creep in while you're writing, put your pen down immediately. If you are a grouch who never feels happy, don’t waste your money buying the diary/notebook. If you feel the world is full of sorrow and sadness and suffering, go look for the nearest lake to jump into.

So yesterday I went and bought a notebook, one of those spiral bound colourful little things. Took it home and wrote the first day’s entry before sleeping. Woke up this morning, read it again, and it makes life good, makes me realize that good things still happen no matter how bad you think things are.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


“I'm worried I don’t know how to get in touch with people,” Ezra said.


"I'm worried if I come too close they’ll say I'm overstepping. They’ll say I'm pushy, or… emotional, you know. But if I back off, they might think I don’t care. I really, honestly believe I missed some rule that everyone else takes for granted; I must have been absent from school that day. There’s this narrow little dividing line I somehow never located.”

“Nonsense; I don’t know what you're talking about,” said his mother, and then she held up an egg. “Will you look at this? Out of one dozen eggs, four are cracked. Two are smushed. I can’t imagine what Sweeney Brothers is coming to, these days.”

Ezra waited a while, but she didn’t say any more. Finally, he left.