Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Village visits (with pics)

"Go to the villages: that is India, therein lies the soul of India".

I probably realised the essence of what Gandhi said, the other day, when I happened to
visit some village areas in Thrissur district (my hometown). As part of our RAWE (Rural Agricultural Work Experience) programme, we had to visit the Killimangalam and Thiruvilwamala watersheds in Thrissur. As it is, people lament that we never get to see a 'real' village in Kerala. Hard to believe?
But then, that is the truth. The rural-urban divide is more pronounced in other States compared to Kerala. Most of the so-called villages here are well-connected to other places by roads and have electricity.... a far cry from villages in other States. But these areas, which we visited, were definitely unlike the town area. It mirrored the agrarian past of the State; well atleast partially. Because I can't claim to be a witness of the agricultural situation before. I've heard my parents and other elders describe the verdant paddy fields and the various agricultural operations....in short, "the good old days", as they put it.
Hence, from what they tell me, I can make out that agriculture in Kerala, as you see it now, was not what it was erstwhile. As is well known, it is dwindling at an alarming rate.
Coming back to the point, the visit to the villages was a refreshing change for me. A chance to leave the 'concrete jungles' for once and enjoy nature and its pristine beauty. It was an eye-opener as well.... we get so comfortable in our cushy lives.
We begin to think that four-lane highways, big shopping malls and retail outlets, higher incomes with innumerable spending options are the paradigms for development. But then, I realised that it is not.
Pardon me if I seem to express a done-to-death opinion, but development is above and beyond it. And progress has to be all-inclusive. Otherwise, it widens the chasm between the haves and have-nots. Seeing the simple lives the villagers lead made me wonder...why can't we all lead simple lives like them ? Why the mad rush to make a million bucks if it does not give you happiness or peace of mind? Why not be content with simple living? What prevents us from simple living? Why is society unmindful of mindless opulence? Why do we hoard wealth ? Does it ultimately make any sense ? Why is it that money is everything now?
Strange are the ways of all the world...and it leaves questions galore. I guess I'll have to find out.

On that visit, we happened to visit a UP school in the area. And seeing those kids made me miss my school days and childhood. For one, they had our SAME uniform! So much for the exclusivity of Hari Sri uniforms! Anyways, watching kids always makes me nostalgic. Truly, childhood is a golden phase in a person's life. Plus, I love kids!! Aren't they just adorable?
The funniest part was when they 'attacked' me... coz I happened to have a camera ! It was break time, and they all came running and wanted their pics taken!!! I had fun !
And they managed to put a smile on all our faces.
So much for talking... I'd like to give you a small glimpse of the places I saw that day, through what I could capture through the lens. I sincerely hope I could capture the rusticity and idyllic nature of the place.So those who haven't seen greenery in a long while...enjoy!
Where art thou, diminishing paddy fields ?

Just mind-blowing... Water... and in plenty !

My favourite pic in the lot ! The Cheerakuzhipuzha....

All smiles.... and ready to pose!
I'm speechless... seriously.
(Shot taken whilst inside the moving bus.)

The punarjani at Thiruvilwamala
Beautiful pond...ain't it?
Vegetation even on a rocky patch...now that's what
you call determination !
No.... we weren't looking for a needle in the
haystack ! lol
Thought for the day: "Live simply ,that others might simply live."

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Future Tense

It is natural for us to be anxious about our future. Most often than not, we are anticipating it and that's all what we seem to care for. Similar is my case. For the past few weeks, all I can thing about is "What lies ahead?"
It is even more crucial, considering the fact that I'm at crossroads. That's coz I'm about to finish my undergraduate course (well, within 6 months, maybe !). And then the question naturally arises...What next?

I've my heart set at doing MBA. But then, what surprised me the most was the reaction people gave to this unassuming ambition of mine. The most frequently asked question (FAQ!) was: "What about marriage??"
I say, "It can wait!". But then, I know most of 'em are thinking that I'm wrong. I can't fathom why people don't take girls with aspirations seriously. And I don't know why people narrow down the 'marriageable' age to, say, 20-23! Most elders are worried that we (as in, me and my sis) would've crossed that so-called 'limit' if we pursue future studies.

And the next thing they wonder about is us doing MBA outside Kerala. Frankly, I am all for going out of Kerala and doing MBA. Don't get me wrong. I'm not among those who think 'Kerala is a shit hole' and it's not coz I have 'attitude' and stuff! Neither am I trying to run away from here. I believe that I need some exposure....how long will I remain a frog in the well ?
Most of my friends have been living away from home for their UG course. They are independent, they do their own stuff. Most of 'em are infact placed in good jobs already! So I feel that it's time I went ahead and explored the world outside as well. After all, I'll get some first-hand experience and information which can do me good. Sure, I'm a very home-loving person and I'm bound to feel homesick. But this is how you get over it ! And it's inevitable that I have to leave my home and this 'protected' life one day.
So why not now?

The next thing people wonder about is sending girls (here, us!) 'outside' Kerala. Well, frankly I'm non-plussed over such doubts. It's beyond me to answer such things. I guess it's just that they think in our best interests and hence are worried about our safety. I appreciate that. But then, I don't see any problem in going out. Girls or boys, if you can take care of yourself I don't think security is such an issue. Well, if it's otherwise; I guess I'll just have to find out!

My dad is the most worried, I believe. He is too caring and protective. He can't imagine us leaving home. But then, we can't remain daddy's "li'l girls" all our life! Every Friday he calls, we go all over this again ! And now that the various application bulletins are out, the feeling is sinking in. I have to prove myself now. It was my decision and hence, the onus is on me! It remains to be seen where I finally land up. But then, being the optimist that I am...Everything will turn out for the best ! Inshah Allah.
Thought for the day : "Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Monsoon Memories

We had a versification competition at our college, as part of our inter-class arts fest. Needless, to say, I took part ! The theme was 'Monsoon' and we were given 1 hour for our creative venture. So here's what I wrote. It isn't great; but then, there was the time limit. So, I had to think of something (and fast!).

The theme I chose to associate with monsoons is the memories one has of it- as a child, we are thrilled by the innocence and purity of the rains; as we peak our adolescence, rains become romantic (!!). And then, there is dread and despair associated with it when it lashes out. Rains are also considered auspicious...a sign of good fortune. So the poem I wrote was a humble endeavour to link these thoughts. Here goes...

Monsoon Memories

With a cup of coffee and some pleasant thoughts,
I sit by the window; no company I sought.
For the rains beckoned memories from the past.
The downpour casting a spell atlast !

I rummage through my mind; I see myself small;
A wee bit chubby, but fairly tall.
The rivulets on the road, my source of pleasure;
Oh! Childhood memories- truly a treasure.

And then, I see myself walking with him.
My heart overflowing with emotions upto the brim.
Walking down the road on that rainy day;
His company had then made my day.

Dread creeps in as I recollect,
The day my friend was brought in dead.
The rains lashed out; it was a storm.
And the despair seemed to linger on.

And then my wedding I can clearly see,
The downpour was as strong as it could be.
"Blessings of the Lord!", everyone said.
And I see myself blushing; a newly-wed!

The rains have seen me through thick and thin,
Been with me like my kith and kin.
It is still raining...and I can see,
That our relationship will last; let it be !

Thought for the day : "The smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Where is the world heading to ?

As I write, the umpteen number of news channels are covering various stories across the globe. And the saddest part? EVERY bit of it is depressing (to say the least). Let's start off with the London-Glasgow 'foiled' (rather, 'failed') terror plot. The latest (at the moment) is that Indian doctors are suspects. Muhamed Haneef has been detained in Austraila for interrogation; similarly, Sabeel Ahamed has been detained in Liverpool. To think that they are responsible would be to jump to a premature conclusion. After all, one is innocent until proved guilty.

Nevertheless, life for Indians in the UK is going to be an uphill task from now on. By corollary, Indians will be mistrusted and a possible racial backlash can't be ruled out. Gordon Brown, the PM of the UK, has called for stricter policies and scrutiny of recruitments to the National Health Services (NHS). And indeed, if doctors were involved....I wonder-
How can educated, intelligent, rational people abet terrorism?

Next prominent news doing the rounds is the clash between security forces and Islamic students at Lal Masjid, Pakistan. There are talks of 'jihad being declared' and also the threat of 'suicide bombers'. A theory doing the rounds is that it is a 'staged' episode to divert attention from the removal of the Chief Justice. Nevertheless, bloodshed and gore is imminent, is what I can make of it. Infact, bombings have already taken place. The Government might move in to forcefully evacuate the radicals from the adjoining madrassas and the Masjid.

And then, the story of Suraj, a 6-year old boy (some news channels claim 2-and-a-half-years) stuck in a borewell which is 180-feet deep. It has been more than 30 hours (I believe) and the child has not shown any signs of consciousness. Are the military forces working for a lost cause? Nothing can be said. Last heard, they were trying to make a parallel path to reach the child. And to add to the agony, the crane doing the excavation rolled over and injured another 5 people ! Another 'Prince' you think??? Well, atleast he was fortunate to get out of it alive. There have been many such cases in the recent past...and none of them survived. What happens of this...only time can tell.

Another terrible story I came across was that of a girl child being buried ALIVE (yep...ALIVE!!) by her mother (yes again....her MOTHER!!!) and grandfather (I believe, in Hyderabad). That was the most inhuman thing to do! It seems the child was the 8th girl child born to that couple. And to make it worse, the father suspects that the child is not his (nopes...it's NOT a movie plot !!). That prompted the mother to resort to this. The child's cry attracted the attention of the neighbours and that's how the child got a second chance at life. With so much resistance, it is only obvious how the child will be recieved by her 'family'. We may lament, criticise and condemn the mother (and the act). But imagine, if she had to resort to it, what must have forced her into doing it? No, I'm not supporting her or justifying her. But then, that's worth cogitating.

I'm an optimist (mostly). But I have been searching for the proverbial 'silver lining'.

Sadly, it is nowhere to be seen.

Thought for the day: "If you don't long to live, then you won't live too long."

Sickness sets in

I'm physically at my WORST now!
Needless to say, the monsoons herald an array of diseases. It's bad enough that one gets fever...but no! It doesn't end there for me. I have throat infection, sinusitis, cold, cough and sneezing too !!!! (not to forget the ubiquitous fever, as I said !)

I'm heavily drugged (NO pun intended!!). The sedatives lull me to sleep...and my eyes feel as if they are weighed down by stones. The worst part is being bed-ridden. I just feel like getting off the bed, but no !
I'm weary...sigh...

I believe it all started when I got wet by the rains, on Sunday, as I was coming back from my CAT coaching classes (yep, I was on my scooter...and I have no raincoat!). Monday passed off fine as well; had a slight headache though. But whatdya know? On Tuesday, I can barely open my eyes. High fever sets in. And then, I go visit a doc and buy the requisite medicines. I put up a brave front today. I said to myself, "No fever can conquer my indomitable spirit!".
I force myself out of bed and go to college ( Uh-oh! bad choice). And then, after I come back from college...even HIGHER fever sets in!! Now I am conscious (so to say). Don't know when the sedatives will start to work its wonders again. Infact I'm drowsy already *yawn*.

Please pray so that I may recover soon. I have my mid-terms lined up next week. Won't be going to college tomorrow. Cheer me up people !

Thought for the day : "Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. "

Friday, May 25, 2007

And it rains!

After months of grueling heat, we all breath a sigh of relief ! The rains are here. The Met Department has much to cheer about. Finally their predictions are spot on ! May 24th, and it rains.

It felt amazing to hear the pitter-patter of rain and feel the cool breeze. There is something mystical about the rains. Truely, we all felt like parched land recieving drops of much-awaited water.

And undoubtedly, it heralds activity for farmers. The cultivation of the 1st rice crop (Virippu) will set in full swing. And everywhere hope germinates afresh. The monsoons come with a promise of plenty. Whether it provides Nature's bounty remains to be seen. Or whether it uproots all sense of security, by lashing out on the crops is uncertain. Here's hoping this monsoon only nourishes all things; that it does not sink the crops; and our hopes.
Let's pray that it does not destroy homes...and lives....

So take care to keep your surroundings clean, prevent disease vectors; and last but not the least.....

Enjoy the rains !

Thought for the day: "Income these days is something you cannot live without or within."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mirror mirror on the wall

“Mirror mirror on the wall,
who’s the fairest of them all?”

I happened to watch an episode of Oprah Winfrey Show the other day. And I was surprised to hear about Jenny. “So who’s Jenny?” you ask.
Jenny is a 28-year old woman who has already had (hold your breath) 26 plastic surgeries!! She decided to go under the knife because "My ex-husband told me that my nose was too big, that my boobs were too small, so eventually I got a boob job to stop the comments.” And from then on (albeit clichéd), there was no stopping her. She was 25 when she first had her brow lift. So if you consider the fact that she is only 28 years old now, it implies that she had 26 surgeries in a span of three years (??)!!!
Mind boggling figures those. She has had Botox, cheek implants, three nose jobs, veneers on her teeth, three lip implants, two boob jobs, three breast lifts, and liposuction on her arms, stomach, hips, thighs, and knees. Jenny says that the total cost of her plastic surgeries is about $80,000.
Look closer and frankly decide. Is that close to “perfection”? What is perfection? And is it possible to attain perfection?
(To me, that appears fake...plastic, if you will).

Meet the new kid on the block… the surgery addicts! Sure, you’ve heard of drug addicts, alcohol addicts, smoking addicts….but ‘plastic surgery addicts’??? At first, it seems easier to pass off such cases as ‘freaks’ or as exceptions. But then, it mirrors an alarming trend. And it’s not just one person.
I was surprised to see there were more such cases. These are of course, extreme cases of excessive ‘obsession for perfection’. There are many other individuals who are just as eager to get a ‘makeover’; it is just that they don’t have the resources, the knowledge, or access. So what is with this whole ‘appearance’ thing? Why is it that when some people look into a mirror, all they can see is imperfection? Sure, we occasionally stare at the mirror and wonder why the noise is a wee bit pointed, why the hair-line is receding, why the lips are too thick. But to be obsessive to such an extent defies logic.

Today is the age of ‘looking good’.
Want to impress your prospective employer? Your boyfriend? Or your Boss? Then look GOOD!
Infact, personality nowadays is grossly mistaken for appearance. People are engaged in improving their looks and forget about themselves in the process. In turn, their confidence and performance hinges on their looks. They end up believing that improved looks is a solution to all their problems. And let’s not blame these hapless souls alone. Today, guys don’t want to date girls; they are interested only in ‘chicks’, ‘babes’ and ‘hotties’ who have swinging busts and butts. So you have self-obsessed women undergoing face-lifts, breast implants, nose jobs, liposuction and the works. They try to fit in because they crave for social acceptance.
And society does nothing much to ameliorate the situation. We have models with wafer-thin bodies sashaying on the ramps. On what account they are ‘models’ to others, I have no clue. They would sure give the under-fed Somalians a competition!

But not all women bow owing to social pressure. For some people, it’s more of a psychiatric problem; a sense of feeling inferior on account of their looks. In Jenny’s case, her husband’s comment triggered it off. And like any other addiction, it never ends with one. You change your nose a little to realize that it doesn’t suit your face, and then you ‘change’ your cheeks, brows, lips and so on to make it ‘perfect’. Then you want a hot bod, so then the tummy tucks and liposuctions are resorted to. This is known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), which usually strikes people in their teens. It is when the subject is obsessed with how she looks and is constantly worried on that account.

A clear case of lack of self-esteem and self-loathing.
And that is what exactly needs to be tackled. People should realize that they are worth more than what they weigh, what their nose looks like or what colour they are. Until then, we’ll hear of stories weirder than that of Jenny’s.
Quote for the day: "Say nothing good of yourself, you will be distrusted; say nothing bad of yourself, you will be taken at your word. "

Monday, January 22, 2007

My tour- through photos....

"Yahan har kadam-kadam par dharti badle rang,
Yahan ki boli mein rangoli saath rang;
Dhaani pagdi pehane mausam hai,
Neele chaadar saare ambar hai...
Nadi sunehri, hara samundar, hai yeh sajeela,
Des rangeela, rangeela...des mera rangeela...
Des rangeela, rangeela...des mera rangeela..."


Pictures speak a thousand words....
so here are the sights and colours of India....

Lights...camera....FOUNTAINS !!! Atop Moti Magri, Udaipur

Udaipur Palace....didn't take d interiors...it would've made me
poorer by 200 bucks !

Birla Temple, Jaipur

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Raj Ghat- Gandhi Samadhi...

Bahai Temple, Delhi

Qutub Minar, Delhi - Up close and personal !

India Gate, Delhi

Rajpath, Delhi

Agra Fort (where else...at AGRA !)

THE Taj Mahal !

A Beautiful panel.....at the Taj

Suban Allah !!!!

Golden Temple, Amritsar

Sarson da khet-- Roadside snap! (taken from within the bus!)

Sar KATAA sakte hai lekin sar JHUKA sakte nahi ! - Wagah Border...

Rock Garden, Chandigarh

Ermm....another 'rock garden' perhaps....!! Palampur
(reminds u of "saathiya".....yea??)

Snow-capped mountains....Palampur again...

Church of St.Johns in the Wilderness...

The evening sky...AMAZING isn't it?

The monk (who sold his ferrari?? lol)

"Footprints on the 'snow' of Time" ...

On our way down from Gulaba....

PICTURESQUE or what??!!!

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.....

Hadimba Temple, Manali...(Roja was shot here ppl!)

Solitary grazer ??? ;-)

Har har Mahadev ! Ganges....Rishikesh


Well, frankly the WHOLE process of uploading these pics has been really tiresome. Heck, more than the tour ! I had close to 400 pics; and choosing a few to represent the kind of exposure I had was definitely an arduous task in itself. But the pleasure was mine !! Truely amazing places; don't you think?? I hope you've had as much fun watching these pics as I had posting them (and visiting these places!). Hope this 'motivates' you to go and explore India. And not like I claim to have seen the whole of India...but believe me, go check out the places.

So here's to Incredible !ndia ....

Thought for the day: "Try and fail; but never fail to try ."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Long time

Hey there,
So finally the new year has come. Oh boy ! can't believe that one WHOLE year just went by. Time DOES fly, doesn't it? So here I am after quite a while. Not that there was a dearth of things to talk about. For instance, our North India tour; it was AMAZING !! I never imagined I'd see sooo much of India...the Taj, Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh, Wagah Border...and even SNOW !Truely a gratifying experience in every sense of the word !

And then there was the Hari Sri alumni; a 2nd reunion within 2 months (boy, we can't get enough of it!). And not to forget, the epoch-making execution of Saddam Hussein at the very fag-end of the year.

But every passing year is witness to metamorphosis- individually, in a family, in the society and in the world as a whole.The world is just not the same as you saw it when you went to sleep last night. It is upto us to make sense of the changes occuring around us; to grab the essence of the ever-changing life and to make the most of what we have. So as we turn another page in history, here's me wishing you all the best in life.
May Success be your mantra.
Hope- the wings on which you soar high.
Peace- what you pray and yearn for.
Courage- to see you through the weary paths in life.
Love- the only thing you believe in.
Experience- the one thing you can trust.
Wisdom- let each passing year add more to the account of wisdom.

Happy New Year folks !!!
Thought for the day : "Do unto others as you want others to do unto you."


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