Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Stay relevant, Stay cool: The Big B Way

As the most-loved, admired and respected host of the popular game/quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) and many other appearances on the television, Amitabh sir has been redefining and reinventing the art of staying relevant. His life has many lessons for all of us who strive hard, everyday, to keep away from all-pervading negativism, cynicism and pessimism that can easily distract us from focusing on our purpose and goals. I've always looked upon him for inspiration and strength in times of turbulences, holding on to the seat belt as it were, as the flight of my life saw many forms of aggressive and unruly weathers.

He is my favourite host and my idol who never ceases to motivate and ignite to just-do-it and be-at-it! He has set an example for generations to reinvent oneself, adapt the art and craft with time, connect with people, be resilient and so on. And his cool quotient is simply unmatchable!

I wonder, isn’t it tough to be so active, so buoyant and so very interested and empathetic with every single participant on a game show - so very consistently in each episode? 

I sit and admire the myriad expressions and listen intently to the emotionally modulated baritone of this amazingly powerful person! I learn something new each time I see him on screen. Whether it’s an ad for Polio eradication or Swachh Bharat Campaign or whether it’s a commercial done for a consumer brand or any snippet of interview or a speech delievered at an event.

With age, with that unmatched grace, he weaves magic on my TV screen and love the way he engages with people - the real people. I love the way he elicits their stories, making them feel comfortable and very naturally and spontaneously throws in humorous tidbits from his personal anecdotes. Even today, this star attracts the same attention as he used to when we were kids and he ruled the Hindi cinema! True, it’s got something to do with his name - Amitabh - meaning, one with limitless splendour.

Growing up, as a Bollywood hero we saw him in many roles, we watched him fight the baddies, we watched him romance the most graceful ladies, sing soulful songs and his immortal dialogues became a part of the cultural repertoire. His life had its ups and downs and we saw him through. He redefined entertainment on TV, or rather edutainment in some ways with the first season of KBC in 2000. Till then not many movie stars would venture into TV shows and risk their larger than life image. And in turn, KBC resurrected a waning star who had so many more years to shine for the younger generations.

Truly splendid Amitabh sir, you continue to be my guiding star; I have learnt a lot from your life about how to keep performing and doing what you can do best, learning from your struggles and survival. Your professionalism and discipline is something I try hard to imbibe. Your all pervasive grace on screen is so magnetic that I tend to forget all my other distractions and worries and watch and listen to every word you say. And your eyes say so much without you being aware of how much of your wisdom gets passed on through them.

As an ardent admirer of yours, I’m already a member of your extended family; today, on the occasion of your 75th birthday, I wish you a long and healthy life with more and more years of active presence on the all the screens.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

When regular becomes boring

Often, the regular becomes boring
And the normal gets tiresome
And we long for something exciting
Should something exciting always be a BIG thing?
Need not be, right?
Small changes in our routine
Simple tweaks in the mundane
A bit of variation in the regular
Can be so much fun!

Like trying the road never taken
And driving without Google maps
And advice, for a while:)

Like going on a holiday
And not taking any pictures
Like watching a movie in an unknown language without subtitles
Like reading a book backwards
Like wearing a colour that was never you!
Like sketching a self-portrait
Of 'me -when I was a kid'
Like ....
There is no end to things we could do to beat the all-too-familiar
And the regular!
A bit of discomfort
A bit of uncertainty
A bit of unknown
A bit of insanity
Bring so much colour and spice
In the otherwise regular life!

The puris in the picture were a part of a festival lunch I prepared when I wanted a colourful platter to break the boredom of other regular, predictable items on the menu. It was like a quick hack to make the meal a bit more interesting!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The unveiling

Does each morning bring a new surprise?
Any surprise, by definition is new
If is it already seen, isn't it deja vu
Then it’s not a surprise

Some mornings bring pleasant surprises
Like this morning, in the midst of a green veil
The sight of this lovely Butterfly Pea
Or Shankhapushpa flower
Just peeping out and untwining itself
With shades of cobalt, indigo, hues of blue

A moment of self-unveiling 
To watch it bloom and unravel 
Disentangling from the creeper 
with a push from the gentle breeze
And it gets its way with good ease

Is unveiling a natural thing?
Does one have to wait to be unveiled?
There’s a lot of beautiful stuff 
That gets unveiled everyday
A hidden flower or a hidden thought
A hidden talent or a hidden act
Any hidden good thing for that matter
Discovering, observing and unveiling
Isn't it much needed for our well-being!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A quick visit to Modhera Sun Temple, Gujarat

Today, I simply couldn’t help visiting my blog that’s been neglected for quite some time now. I felt guilty of not writing and thought I wasn’t being fair to myself! And of course during the last 12 months, I haven’t made many memories either, if I had, it would have definitely been up on my blog! Though the year seems to have been impoverished in terms of filling my repository with precious memories, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to key-in few words, as my stay comes to an end at the guesthouse of the beautiful EDI campus, Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

I was lucky that this work related visit  gave me few hours to rewind and renew my energies with a short-long drive to the nearby historical Sun Temple at Modhera.  I missed visiting this precious monument during my last visit to Gujarat and this time I managed to sneak a few hours. 
 Modhera is about 80 Kms from Gandhinagar, and the drive was quite pleasant. And the cab driver Joshibhai made the journey even more interesting with his anecdotes on demonetization and many other tidbits of current affairs. There was so much to catch up I thought! 

Well, the most interesting story he told me was about how he dealt with a passenger, a chain smoker who was willing to give away any number of old notes to get packs of cigarettes and the funny incidents that followed...the drive was quite entertaining with a chatty companion. After we crossed Mehasana, the road was a bit patchy and uneven but this didn’t bother us much as we saw the many golden mustard fields on both sides of the road. It seemed like a scene straight out of the Kajol and SRK’s song in DDLJ J

The Sun temple was built in 1027AD by the Solanki kings and suffered a lot of damage during the rule of Mohamad Ghazni. No deity is worshipped in the temple and it is maintained by the Archeological Survey of India. Being Sunday, the temple was filled with foreign tourists and local visitors and it presented a beautiful sight bustling with selfie-lovers, architecture and history lovers and heritage enthusiasts. The fun part of my visit was to see Joshibhai clicking many selfies and videos as this was his first visit to the place. For a moment I wanted to forget about my selfie-shyness but that didn’t work; and Joshibhai was quite expert at taking pictures. 

Another memory I carry from this visit are those little school kids from a primary school who were accompanied by their teacher. Two of the came to me and asked shyly “what your name? and others joined them and wanted to talk in English. They told me they are from a Gujarati school and the teacher was apparently unhappy with the kids breaking out of their group. I listened to some very creative English from them and took a group picture.

We went around the temple and saw the intricate carvings (though mostly damaged) and also spent some time inside, admiring the exquisite pillars, the arches and the ceiling. The next point was the adjoining ornated step well with interestingly beautiful geometrical patterns when viewed from the top. As you get down the steps it’s a wonderful feeling to real the water level and look up to get a magnificent view of the temple (both the mandapas). The vast lawns around the temple complex make the environs serene and peaceful.

This memorable short trip was refreshing and got me recharged to get back to my timelines and roadmaps, resuming from where I paused!

Friday, August 26, 2016

When Brahma Kamalam bloomed in my balcony

It was just two months ago. My mother had just reached home after a short trip to Bengaluru and was rummaging through her bag for few sprigs that she got from my brother's neighbour. When I saw the stem (leaves) she carefully managed to get, I could quickly identify it was Brahma Kamalam and I told her it’s a difficult thing to see the flowers bloom, even if the plant takes root, since it would take ages to grow. Going by whatever I had heard or read about these flowers I thought it was next to impossible to have this spectacle unfold in my balcony. But luck had it the other way. And, my mother's green thumb does the magic again.

Last evening was nothing short of a miracle.  Earlier in the day, at 12 noon to be precise, when we saw the bud tightly wrapped in greenish maroon streaks of sepals, it seemed like it may take few days to blossom. But, perhaps due the rainy and humid day, by 5.00 PM the bud had puffed up showing the inner whitish petals. In an hour, there was more loosening of the bud and my excitement know no bounds as we were about to witness a rare nocturnal occurrence of Brahma Kamal blooming in our own balcony.

I left my laptop behind and forgot about the pending tasks for the day / evening. I simply didn’t care about anything else, not even the endless mosquito bites, and sat in the balcony for hours watching the unusual spectacle unfold - in layers of petals and a whiff of something like frankincense in the air around the planters. My weakness for taking flower pictures was it its peak as I took several of them and 'reported the event live to my close friends and family', thanks to WhatsApp on my Sony Xperia.

Brahma Kamalam, (not to be confused with the mythical Himalayan variety or the state flower of Uttarakhand) is also known as Nishagandhi and Bethlehem lily as I googled to know more about this exotic flower. The mythical name apart, the flower is supposed to be very auspicious, going by the popular belief. Actually, the process of watching the flower open up is quite a sight to behold -  more like spiritual. By midnight, the flower was in full bloom, it felt like a tiny piece of moon landed on one of the flower pots with its amazingly white surreal feeling!

My mother had a nice name for it - she instantly called it bin paani ka kamal meaning lotus without water. In fact, it was nothing short of a lotus in a planter, clinging on to a frail bamboo stick for support. As the petals layered out, and the whole flower showed up in full glory, we started worrying about its short life and how it would soon droop and wither before the first rays of the Sun. And that’s exactly how it was this morning - I simply couldn’t believe how it lay lifeless! The huge white floral wonder that stood erect majestically last night, was completely languished, shrivelled up into a bud.

So symbolic the entire process was! It was like witnessing a short life filled with power packed performance, giving the best it could and creating happy memories. It was just not a happy feeling when I saw the withered sight and simply couldn't believe it was the same flower, but feeling of loss was quickly balanced with the beautiful and baffling memories it left behind. So evocative the entire experience was! So much to be cherished till the next blossom! Nature is divine and she never ceases to amaze us :)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Conversations over coffee

Please don’t read in between the lines, going by the title of this blog post. No, I didn’t ditch my tea! Archana, Madhu and Kavitha, please don’t be disheartened - the gift tea packs you showered on me are all in tact and I cherish every moment and every sip with those endless flavours from as far as Australia, Sri Lanka and Ooty. While my diehard addiction to tea will last as long as I’m around, this time, for a change I picked up a pack of granulated coffee from a near by supermarket - a hypermarket to be precise. Perhaps got carried away by the introductory offer on this brand of coffee and so on! A temptation I couldn't resist.

And, today as coffee replaced my afternoon tea, I asked myself why this sudden change in me? May be I just needed a CHANGE. It’s good to try out new stuff once in a while, right? Coffee was more of a student-days thing, not just a beverage; it was a must-have for those late night reads when most of us believed that caffeine is the best saviour when you need to sharpen your senses while slogging for research and project deadlines. The mandatory steel filter/percolator at home now lies unused in one of the racks in kitchen, a memory of younger days, when conversations happened mostly around those cups and tumblers filled with a unique roasted aroma wafting through the brain to stimulate the intellectual hormones, if there's anything like that! Remember this was not instant coffee!

Coffee, for me,  was when there were no Cafe Coffee Days and Starbucks in Hyderabad and our nearest source of freshest coffee was Ramesh Coffee Stores in Sitafalmandi, Secunderabad. Coffee is nostalgia about heated debates and discussions about English Education in India with a bunch of friends, some of whom smoked along and I did not mind the passive effect as we were engulfed in discussions about some burning issues in the country. Coffee, for me, was when we had our fill of Idli or Dosa and simply couldn’t resist ordering a cup in a Kamath in Hyderabad or a Sagar in Bengaluru. Coffee distinctly evokes those library and fieldwork days at IISC Bengaluru, which had an outlet /canteen of Tata’s if I remember right. And, my most unforgettable original coffee experience was whenever I visited Dr. Rajagopal on EFLU campus. I don't remember missing out on any occasion, their freshly filtered coffee, served most traditionally, in a small steel tumbler.  This was most refreshing after a somewhat long drive to their place for a quick catch up.

Coffee was when my parents disliked the caffeine overdose as a means of staying awake late nights to read, write and while away time imagining how I could change the things I could not! And did not know the difference.

Coffee was idealism - tea is realism!
Coffee is my past and tea is what I live for.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Golden moments with the Gulmohars

Mobile phone camera is not an extension of our eyes (sometimes it’s good not to go with Marshall McLuhan J )This is what I wanted to tell myself by resisting to take pictures of the flamboyant and grand Gulmohars as I passed through the green avenues and verdant expanses in Bengaluru. Instead, I consciously savoured every luxuriant sight and tried to frame them in my memory, overcoming the itch with a new Sony Xperia in my hand.

And this memory instantly connected me with a painting of Gulmohar that I did as a school kid and lots of lovely memories of the Gulmohar trees near my house when we lived on the CIEFL/EFLU campus and of course, the then green environs of Osmania University. Gushing Gulmohars have always been my favourites when as kids we used to play under the trees in the park or the road-side or collect the fallen flowers after a heavy storm or rain. They are perfect companions for summer along with Jacarandas and Copperpods, as they add so much colour and life with their regal splendour in the otherwise dry and arid landscape.

These passion-filled midsummer wonders have so much to tell. Look at the way they proudly stand out in the graceful green background with shades of scarlett, vermillion and red.
  • Don’t they remind us of how brilliance scores over everything else in whatever we do
  • The flowers are delicate and short lived – they can be easily brought down even by an unassuming summer shower. But the moment they wither, they delightfully deck up the ground with petals strewn all over, forming a tapestry of colours – deep, bright, cheerful and vibrant.  
  • And what about the way they flame up the surroundings? This is so much like being a confident go-getter by making our presence felt 
  • Most important, Gulmohars blossom for a short while; they are seasonal but they make the most of it through their royal, stately and impactful presence!
The tropical magic of Gulmohars is so much like what rows of colourful Tulips do in cold climes, right!

It was a mid-week Bengaluru visit, work-related, short and hectic. Travelling absolutely unplanned has it own anxitement. The relaxing views of floral delights helped me overcome some stressful moments and crazily unorganized work schedule that I was drafting for myself. Nature is always inspirational and absolutely magnificent!
If it wasn't for the zeal and zing of Gulmohars, my visit wouldn't have been so memorable!