Monday, April 21, 2014

Rafting on the Ganga

No, don't scroll down looking for photographs - there aren't any.  But do continue to read.  Rafting on the Ganga was one of the highlights of our vacation.

It was totally unexpected.  We weren't planning it at all.  But AEF suggested it out of the blue.  "Why don't you go white water rafting?" she said.  "I'll look after Puttachi."  Even as we looked this way and that, she suggested it to her team of researchers and field assistants, and urged them to go too, and before we knew it, we were a team of eight, and one of them knew an adventure group who arranged a raft for us at a discount, provided us with an extra guide, and everything was settled.

But how about Puttachi?  Would she stay with AEF, whom she barely knows?  I asked Puttachi.  She listened, and she nodded her yes.  That was it.  Granted, part of the attraction of staying back with AEF was that Puttachi was looking forward to spend time with her new friend Himani who lived next door to AEF's field station. ( Himani is a calf, but what is a different species when it comes to friendship?)  But the alacrity with which she accepted was heartening.

But yet, I had a slightly disturbed night.  It was the next level of Letting-go for me.  Yes, AEF is a friend I trust completely, but I would be going rafting.  On the rapids.  On the Ganga.  Without a phone.  So far from home.  Leaving Puttachi.  In a remote little village. 

It helped that both AEF and Puttachi were supremely confident they would manage.  It was only half a day, after all.

And so, off we went.

We drove to Rishikesh, where we left our things in the jeep and parked it near the Adventure guy's shop.  We got into their jeep, loaded the life jackets and paddles in it, and the inflated raft on the roof of the jeep, and drove upstream to Shivpuri, 16 km away.  We drove by the Ganga, next to the very river-route on which  we were to come back rafting. 

Beautiful sights.  Deep green valleys, turquoise green waters, white sands, blue skies.  And the heart beating to the prospect of a never-before adventure.

We reached the spot where we would begin rafting.  We wore life jackets and helmets, and sat in the raft, and then the guide gave us the "training."  He told us how to paddle, how to lock our feet, what to do if we fall out of the raft, what to do if the raft topples.  He also said that there was an 85 pc chance of the raft toppling, and it was here that I started panicking.

We started.  The first two rapids were quite terrifying, and the guide noticed that I seemed afraid.  He probably thought that I would fall out in a panic, so, as we went into the third rapid, he made me sit in front of the raft, hold the rope in both hands, and crouch, with only my head outside the raft.  So basically, I faced the third rapid head on, literally.  And I knew I was safe because I had the rope nice and tight in my fists... my knuckles were white too - so there.  And I enjoyed myself thoroughly.  Got tossed about, got completely drenched.  And I wasn't afraid any longer.

And then, it got better.  We reached a stretch of calm water, and here, the guide asked us to just Jump.Into.The.Water.  And guess what, we did it.  Into the Ganga.  It was cold and it was lovely, and it was a 100 feet deep but of course we had on our life jackets.  For a while, we made a human chain and free-floated.  And it was bliss.  And oh, by the way, this is the Ganga, remember?  All my sins have been washed away, mind you. :D  Now, as long as other people's sins haven't come and latched onto me....

After this, I almost hoped the raft would topple in the next few rapids, but they were quite tame.  In fact, one was so mild that it was like riding on the pot-holed roads of Bangalore.

There was even a midway break place, a  Maggi-point.  By the way, if I had a rupee for each Maggi-point I saw all over Uttarakhand....  we stopped here, and ate - what else, Maggi, got the cameras out of the waterproof bag, took some pics, and then continued.

And then finally, we floated under the Ram Jhoola and the famous Lakshman Jhoola, past the Tryambakeshwar temple.  This place is quite beautiful and had a certain atmosphere, and was very clean for a pilgrimage centre.

We ended the ride on a ghat, and I was "reunited" with Puttachi at a restaurant in Rishikesh.  Seriously, I don't think I can thank AEF enough for what she did for me. :) 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Rajaji National Park

Rajaji National Park is situated in a unique place - part-Shivalik range, part-Himalayan ranges, and part grassland, with the Ganga flowing through it too.  As a result, the biodiversity is pretty rich, not only in terms of fauna, but flora too. 
Here are some pictures.
The ground was covered with leaves from the deciduous trees
in some places.  It looked lovely.

Have I told you I like young spring leaves?
I have?  A million times?  Okay.
It is a 35 km circuit around the park, takes about 3 hours.

See, this is what I was saying. 
Geographical diversity.

A deer gate-crashes a langur congregation

That's Puttachi and me in the open-topped jeep. 
S was relegated to the lesser seat - next to the driver.


This elephant was quite close.

It is shy - off it goes.

Mamma and baby - enough to send Puttachi into raptures


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blooms in Uttarakhand

Never seen neem flowers in this colour before!

Mango blossoms were particularly thick in these parts.


Palash again


Wild roses

Rhododendrons were everywhere!

Rhododendrons up close. 
Puttachi loved them.
She kept picking up fallen flowers
 and carrying them back to the room.
Rhododendron squash (Buransh squash)
is pretty refreshing :)

No idea what flowers these are.
Also see: Trees of Uttarakhand
                Birds of Uttarakhand


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Some winged treasures of Uttarakhand

After a post on the Malabar Whistling Thrush (whose song I frequently remember, with what can only be called longing) I had written:

I told you I am on the verge of bird mania.  Now all I need is a good pair of binoculars and a holiday in the jungle with AEF. :)

And this holiday fulfilled this wish (and fuelled more wishes, but that's for later.)  Such a pleasure walking with AEF (Avian-encyclopedia friend) in the jungle looking at birds!

And birds are such delightful creatures.  Each time I come back from a spate of birdwatching, it hits me all over again.

But birdwatching is one thing, and bird-photographing is quite another. 

Some amateurish efforts, mainly an attempt to document all this for myself.

White-capped red starter

Green barbet

Red-vented bulbul

Bee-eater.  Notice the tail in the tail.

Sunbird.  We saw purple sunbirds too.
Utterly beautiful, flighty creature.
Actually shines in the sun.

Green barbet on a peepul tree.
There were no leaves on this trees. 
Just loads of figs, and so
there were lots of birds.

Not quite sure which one this is.
But it had just taken flight.

The jungle babbler, probably?

Coucal (Kembhoota in Kannada)
These two were making such a ruckus!


Add caption

These little bee-eaters
were bathing in the mud!
We saw several other birds that I couldn't capture on camera - coppersmiths, lapwings, scores of peacocks, tree pies (beautiful birds with long tails - couldn't catch any on camera), parakeets, water hens, grey hornbills, wagtails, kingfishers.... such a treat.

Also see: Trees of Uttarakhand
                Flowers of Uttarakhand

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A few trees of Uttarakhand

My love for trees is common knowledge to regular readers of this blog.  Every spring sees me go nuts, and this time, I had an added advantage. I could swoon over the trees of Uttarakhand too!
Locally known as "Kusum" - these are leaves, not flowers. 
In Rajaji National Park

New leaves - Rajaji NP

Travelling in an open jeep is great for tree-watching!
Here's a langur leaping among the bare branches of a tree.

Rudraksha tree - the fruits

And when the fruit is broken open
- you see the famous Rudraksha seed.

These looked like Bharatnatyam dancers to me. - Rajaji NP
I lost my heart to Deodar forests.
 - Landour, Mussoorie.

Aren't Deodar's gorgeous?

Speaking of bare trees - how beautiful is this!
These young spring leaves of the Indian horse chestnut
are among the most beautiful leaves I've seen. 
They were everywhere in the Landour forests.

These horse chestnut leaves
caught the sunlight so beautifully!
 This is shortly before sunset, Landour.

Horse chestnut leaves again -
framing the sunset that signalled the end of our vacation
- Landour.

Also see:  Birds of Uttarakhand
                 Flowers of Uttarakhand

Saturday, April 12, 2014

What to do this summer.... and a book review.

Don't want to send your kids to summer camps, but at a loss about how to engage them during the holidays?  Here's a link to my article in today's DH Living on what to do this summer. 

In the article, I've touched upon the importance of unstructured time for children.  This article speaks more in detail about it.  Do read.

If you're an aspiring freelance journalist, I highly recommend the book "Everything you wanted to know about Freelance Journalism" by Kavitha Rao and Charukesi Ramadurai.  My review of this book is up on Women's Web.

I'm back from a lovely little vacation.  Pictures and write-ups coming up next week.


Friday, March 21, 2014

A walk at night

I couldn't have said it better.

Going for a walk at night - alone - such a simple desire.  But it really is just a dream.

As a child, and as a teen, I loved going for after-dinner walks with my father.  The roads were quiet.  Traffic, which wasn't much to begin with, was sparse.  My father and I walked, and we talked.  And I came back refreshed.

S and I went for a few after-dinner walks after we got married.  Not as many as I would've liked, but they were lovely anyway.  These became non-existent after Puttachi was born.  I sometimes look out of the window at night, and I look at the moon, and feel the breeze and I wonder how lovely it might be to go for a walk.  

But what if I did go out?  Let me tell you what happened a few months ago.  This was after we moved into our new house.  Our apartment complex has a fair amount of walking space.    Late one night, at about 11 30, just before going to bed, I looked around for a missing water bottle, and I realized that Puttachi must have left it in the children's play area.  I wanted that water bottle right away, for some reason, and so I told S that I was going to the play area to see if it was there.

I walked out without a second thought, but the moment I got out of our block, and hit the walking path, I froze.  I looked over my shoulder.  I crossed my arms across my chest.  I looked all around me.  I frowned at dark corners, and stared suspiciously at shadows.  And I nearly ran.  I ran past the mango trees, the cycas, the tamarind trees, past the  pool.  I passed a night queen plant, and was only vaguely aware of its beautiful fragrance. I reached the play area, and there sat the water bottle, glinting in the moonlight.  I grabbed it, turned around, and ran back.  I got back home, and S said, "Must have been beautiful outside, right?"  And the only thing I could say is, "I didn't notice."

I know that our complex is secure.  I don't believe in the supernatural, and I am not afraid of the dark.  I was on the walking path, and it was fairly well-lit, so I wasn't afraid of creepy-crawlies in my path.  So what was it?

It was the utter unfamiliarity of being alone, outside, when it was dark.  My mind, and my body are conditioned to feel unsafe and scared and suspicious in such a situation.  And all I could think of was to get back to the safety of my house.

And I hate that feeling.

I want to feel safe. I want to reclaim the freedom that rightfully belongs to every human.  But I don't see that happening in the near future.

And that makes me immensely sad.


Monday, March 10, 2014

The Little Mermaid

Deep in the big blue ocean, there lived Meena, a Little Mermaid.  Meena loved listening to her Grandma's  stories of the world beyond the ocean, where humans live.  She spent hours in the public library, reading about humans, and looked forward to turning eighteen, when she'd be allowed to swim up to the surface of the ocean and see a little of that world herself.

On her eighteenth birthday, even as she was dashing around in excitement, raring to set off on the adventure she'd been waiting for all her life, Grandma called Meena to her, and started affixing oyster shells to her tail, in honour of her becoming an adult.

"Ouch!  It hurts!" said Meena.

"One has to suffer to be beautiful," said Grandma.

"Beautiful?  And who said oysters on tails are beautiful?  And I want to be happy, not beautiful!"  said Meena with a laugh, and wriggled away from her surprised Grandma's grasp.  She swam to the surface, sat on the rocks and spent all day looking at the vast, blue sky, the fluffy white clouds and the ships sailing by.  She was particularly fascinated by the seagulls, and wished she had wings like them, so that she could fly in the sky and see what her beloved ocean looked like from above.

Towards evening, the clouds darkened, and a storm gathered.  A passing ship lurched in the gale, and a man fell off it.  Nobody on the ship seemed to notice.  Meena swam up to him.  He was unconscious.  She held his head above water, knowing that humans cannot breathe underwater, and steered him to the nearest island.  She waited to make sure he was fine, and tried hard not to stare at his legs.  She noticed that there was something in his jacket pocket - it was a book. 

"Hmmm," she thought, picking it up.  "He's a reader.  Must be an interesting man.  I'd like to be friends with him!"  

But there was a merpeople rule – humans and merpeople weren't allowed to be friends!  Meena sighed.  Just as the man regained consciousness, Meena plopped into the ocean. 

After she got back, she realized that she'd brought the book with her.   She opened it, and  found the man's name - Manav, and his address in it.  Her eyes gleamed.  She'd go to return the book - what an excellent pretext to explore the human world! To hell with rules!

But how would she walk on land?  She went to The Witch who lived in the dark depths of the ocean.  She knew several spells.

"I'll make you legs to walk with," said The Witch, "only if you lend me your beautiful voice for as long as you're away."

It didn't seem like Meena had much of a choice.  She parted with her voice, lost her tail, and got two legs in return.  

She surfaced at the beach nearest to the address in Manav's book.

It wasn't easy.  Walking hurt.  She felt heavy.  Besides, she couldn't talk, and she noted with disappointment that humans weren't so kind to fellow-humans who were a little different.  But Meena was a determined, resilient young merlady.  With the help of pencil and paper, and with a little sign language, she asked for directions.  It took her a few days, but she finally found Manav.  She gave him his book, and explained how she had come by it.  He was quite sceptical at first, naturally, and then intrigued.  And thankful to her, of course for having saved his life.  They hung out for a bit, and really enjoyed each others' company.

But Meena missed home.  Her feet hurt.  And she'd had enough of stealing food (tasteless at that – hardly anybody used sea salt) to fill her stomach.  And she was tired of spending the nights in chlorinated swimming pools. Besides, the course in reef biology she'd enrolled in was due to start in a week.

She left, with an understanding with Manav that they'd meet frequently.   She retrieved her lovely tail and her voice from The Witch.

So, every weekend, when she can get away from her coursework, she and Manav meet  at the beach and talk, she in the water, and he on a rock.  Though she's not exactly head over fishtail in love with him, she likes him.  Manav is learning scuba-diving.

And we leave them here.  Whether Meena marries Manav or not, she's the kind who'll ensure that she'll live happily ever after.


This story is written as part of the Twist-A-Tale contest on Tell-A-Tale – reading and writing stories for this age.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Which came first, the tree or the seed?

Puttachi is eating a tasty fruit, and she says:  Amma, this is so tasty! Thank you for giving it to me!  But wait, who bought it? 

Me: Papa.

She: Ok, I'll thank him.  But wait.  He did not make the fruit.  The tree made it.  So I'll thank the tree.  But wait!  Where did the tree come from?  The seed.  So I've to thank the seed.  But wait.  Where did the seed come from?  From another tree...

She pauses, looks confused.

She: Amma, which came first, the tree or the seed?

Me: Aha, you've hit upon the chicken-egg question.  (I explain)

She: This is so strange... let me think...

She's been thinking about this for the last one week, and suddenly out of the blue, she'll come up with an answer and an explanation.

Amma!  I think it is the tree.  The seed perhaps just formed, just like that.  But how can it form just like that?  No no... wait... (Thinks some more) Or it dropped from somewhere.  But from where?  There has to be a tree somewhere ......  Or maybe atoms just got together and formed the seed.  But wait....! 

And it goes on and on.

I'm loving it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Puttachi reads about herself

I'd put it off for too long, giving Puttachi parts of this blog to read.  But for a couple of days, S and I had been reading and enjoying a few of the early posts about her, and so today, I picked up this post and we sat together as I read it out to her.  She loved it - the joy and amusement in her eyes and smile was absolutely heartwarming. 

Not just that - She made a correction too.  I'd written in the post:
...... I started singing "Lambodara" too. [Lambodara lakumikara is the first composition taught to students of Carnatic music]. .......... [The second line is Ambaasuta Amaravinuta"]. She likes Ambaatuta and sings it all the time. My guess is that she thinks it is a song about cows, because "Ambaa" is her word for cows.
"No, Amma," she said today.  "I'm not sure about that age, but after I was older, I thought it was a song about you.  Amma-Amba.... "

So, I guess I'll have to start publishing an Errata section as she reads more posts about herself.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Another first

I like firsts.  Though I've had a Kannada article published in Sudha ages ago, this is the first time an article has been published in a glossy English magazine, complete with a picture of mine.

Check out the February issue of Complete Wellbeing magazine, for my parenting article, "Healthy Competition - an oxymoron?"

The article is not available online, I'm not sure if it will be, but I will let you know if it is.

Btw, this is the photo which inspired this post.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Book reviews

I admire book reviewers.  How can they read a book, keep it aside, place themselves at a distance and write objectively (hopefully!)  about the pros and cons of the book and how it affected them?  My own experience with book reviews on my blog is to gush, haphazardly mentioning all that I liked about the book.  As for books I don't enjoy, I just don't talk about them. 

So, when Women's Web asked me to review a book, seeing that it was non-fiction (which I thought might enable me to be objective) and about the subject of CSA, on which I have written before, I agreed with alacrity, because I needed this experience - of writing an unbiased, structured review.  

Friday, January 31, 2014

Day 31 - Chandra

Chandra, a biography of S.Chandrasekhar by Kameshwar C Wali  is one of the most absorbing books I've ever read.  I've already spoken about this book twice this month (1, 2), and I promise this will be the last time I'm going to talk about it.  But this time, I'm really going to make a strong recommendation - do read it.  For several reasons.  My father has listed all his reasons here, and mine are more or less the same. 

The book is as much about Chandrashekhar and his life, as it is an account of several worlds, and the intricacies of how they work.  After you read the book, you are left with so much knowledge and understanding of varied things, people, establishments, societies. 

I find it both surprising and sad that the common man in India doesn't know more about this remarkable person.   The number of things he has done in his life will leave you dumbfounded.  And there are several tasks that he has taken on in tandem, each one of them a mountainous task of its own, and accomplished them all with elan.   

Such a determined, meticulous, organized person!  And what pleases me most that he commanded universal respect and affection from everybody he interacted with.

And of course, huge credit to Kameshwar C Wali, who has done a superlative job, writing intimately about Chandra and his life, making the reader feel that she knows Chandra personally.

Somewhere in the middle of the book, I got the feeling, "Isn't there a limit to what this man can do?"  And just then, the author writes about someone who says, "I've come across the term Chandrasekhar Limit quite a few times, but I don't think there is a Chandrasekhar limit."  Exactly my feelings!

Btw, I promise that you don't need to know astrophysics, or even physics, to appreciate this book!

And that brings me to the end of January's one-post-a-day.  I enjoyed it more this time than when I took on this challenge the last time, in June 2013.  And thanks for being by my side, and cheering for me. :)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Day 30 - Self-esteem, stuttering and romance.

Just happened to read this excellent article - Why should disability spell the end of romance?  The writer of the article started losing her vision in her teens, and writes among other things, about dating and romance for "disabled" people, and "nondisabled" people's views on the marriage-worthiness (or rather, the lack of it) of disabled people.

Many, many of her experiences were familiar to me.  Though I'm not "disabled" (I don't like that word!!) I stutter, which was enough for scores of people to decide that I wouldn't have much choice in choosing my partner when it came to marriage (that is, if someone would deign to marry me!)

In school, some classmates would pair me with another classmate who stuttered, saying, "perfect pair!"  and laugh and laugh.  "Come on, you'll be right for each other!" they'd say.

 Several times, in school and college, when it came to light that, say, X had a crush on me, even if X was not a very palatable character, some would urge me to "consider."  Would these well-wishers of mine have "considered" X for themselves?  Not in a million years!  But I?  I should consider him, because, you see, I had trouble getting my words out, and so I was less-than-worthy, and I would have to settle!

But all these comments didn't affect me.  On the contrary, I just looked at these people with a kind of exasperation mixed with sympathy.  But what was it that made me so confident about my worthiness?

For one, neither my family, nor my close friends ever made me feel I was different, let alone less-worthy.  It also helped that I was good at a lot of things, and this little matter of the stutter, though it gave me heartache at times, didn't really come in the way of my appreciation of myself.   Besides, during my teens, at the time when this self-esteem thing is so fragile, I actually had a little fan-following of my own, and many of the guys in this group were excellent, "eligible" fellows, some of them even quite "sought-after" by other girls.  [And I wasn't even "good-looking," if you are inclined to think that these boys were bowled over by my looks.]  As a result, very early on, I became aware that the fact that I stuttered didn't really matter to those who mattered.  And I went ahead with my life, and when I found S, neither did he "settle," nor did I!

But not everybody is as fortunate as I am, in terms of the people in my life, and in terms of how my life shaped out.  There are people struggling with their image and self-esteem, and it just doesn't help that "non-disabled" people are so inconsiderate in their comments.  The article I linked to speaks of several such incidents, and deals with a number of topics.  It is worth a read, and eye-opening on many levels.

P.S. Forgive me for all the phrases in quotes.  It is just that I don't like those phrases, but they are so appropriate for what I wanted to say!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Day 29 - The Glorification of Busy

Being busy has become a status symbol these days.  People wear it as a badge of honour.  "Oh I'm sooo busy" is a measure of how worthy you are, how successful your life is.

When I say that S comes back home early from work, and we play badminton, and he plays with Puttachi, brushes her teeth and puts her to bed - I am doing the poor man an injustice.  I should say, "Oh, he gets back early, but then he has call after call - he is busy the whole evening and into the night - even his weekends are full."  That is the measure of true success, you see.

But why?

This article resonated with me - The Busy Trap.

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.
I could see why people enjoy this complaint (that I'm too busy); it makes you feel important, sought-after and put-upon.

In a conversation with my aunt recently, she said, "People think that being busy is an aim in itself, but I thought that the point was to be busy enough to earn a living in as little time as possible, and then spend the remaining time in creativity and self-improvement, and enjoy life."

*Cue - Bow deeply thrice in said aunt's direction.*

I couldn't have said it better.

I'm not saying that one shouldn't be busy.  Life is short, after all, and there are so many things to do - so fill it up by all means - but why has busyness become so exalted?  I get many compliments about how I "keep myself busy."  Questions are also framed that way, when people realize that I don't go out to work - "So how do you keep yourself busy all day?"   Why should I keep myself busy?  Why should not being busy make one a less important person?  What if I choose to fill my days pottering about  my house doing nothing, and totally enjoying it?

Let's stop glorifying the business of busyness!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day 28 - Unconditional love.

Before I go on to the subject of the day - please read my story "The Connoisseur" published on Women's Web.  It is a short story, less than 500 words long, written entirely in dialogue.  Comments welcome!


We know that we love our children unconditionally.  For us, it is as much of a no-brainer as is the fact that we do love them.  But, unfortunately, our actions and words don't always reflect it.

I'm not sure if I've written about this before, but this was brought home to me once when Puttachi was about 2 or 3 years old.  We were cuddling, and I just asked her a rhetoric question, "Why does Amma love Puttachi?"
She immediately replied, "Because I am a good girl."
I was aghast.  I said something like, "No Puttachi, I love you because you are you.  You are my daughter, and I love you.  Whether you do bad things or naughty things or good things, I'll love you anyway."

After a few months, in which I repeated this a couple of times,  I asked  her the same question, and then she said, "You love me because I'm your baaaaby!"   And when I'm upset with her about something, she asks me softly, "Are you angry?  Are you upset?  But I know, you love me anyway."

This is what I want for her.  But I also want to be able to show her my unconditional love without using words, just by actions.  But how?

That way,  my parents never ever told us that they loved us. But we knew anyway.  They are really chilled out parents - they accepted with equanimity everything that we did, or did not do.  I have never experienced fear or hesitation telling them about any of my misdeeds.  It is to this that I attribute the total security I feel about facing life.  I know that whatever happens, I can turn to them and they will just accept me for what I am, no questions asked.   It is this feeling of security that I want to give Puttachi too.

But I'm not sure how to do it with actions.  I try, but anyway, I use words too. That's a very western concept - saying it out in words, isn't it?   It doesn't come too naturally,  saying, "I love you, no matter what."  (It gets easier with repetition :))    Anyway, I do it because Puttachi must realize that we love her unconditionally.  We might be upset or angry or disappointed with her, but we'll love her anyway.  She should know it because I firmly believe that a secure atmosphere at home, where the child feels completely and unconditionally loved, is a must if the child should spring forth into the world with joy and confidence.

Your thoughts?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Day 27 - On realizing that introversion and shyness don't necessarily go hand in hand.

When we were in my teens, and first heard the terms introvert and extrovert, all of us rushed to fit ourselves into one category or the other.  The general impression we had about these terms at that time was that introverts were shy, and extroverts were bold, and liked to be around people. I couldn't put myself into either category.  I wasn't shy, but everything else about introversion seemed to resonate with me.  Besides, back then, to be labeled an "introvert" wasn't a compliment, you see, and so when I learned about the term "ambivert," I jumped at it.

The years passed, and my personality crystallized.  After I realized that there's nothing "wrong" in being an introvert, and when I read more about what introverts are, I comfortably slotted myself into the "introvert" category.  I had all the classic traits - I like being by myself, I prefer small groups to big ones because too many people tire me, I like quiet days as opposed to busy, social days, and after even an enjoyable social event, I need the rest of the day, and the next, to recuperate.

But - the shy factor was still bothering me, because I am not shy at all.  And then I read some articles that busted the myth - introversion and shyness do not have to go together.  And there you have it - I am a not-shy introvert.  And in case you are wondering, yes, there are shy extroverts too!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Day 26 - The joy of theatre

Each time I go to see a play, I come back with a full heart.  There's something about telling a story through drama that is very effective.   The real-time, spontaneous, interactive performances - especially in a beautiful, well-designed, intimate space like the stage at Rangashankara - it is such a complete, wholesome experience!

I haven't been to too many plays, but I've watched a fair number.  And it never ceases to amaze me how much drama groups can achieve just by the clever use of lights, music and minimal props.  Each play I've watched has thrown at me a particularly unique way of creating an atmosphere, communicating an idea, or bringing out an effect.  Induces goosebumps in me!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Day 25 - Being nice

Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)  

Yeah, very nice quote.  But what if one doesn't know how nice is nice, and towards whom one should target the niceness?  

Throughout my life, I have had trouble with being nice. I personally feel I'm not nice enough, but people who matter have assured me that I am sufficiently nice.  I'll believe them, for convenience's sake.    

But I do think I can be nicer at times.  But the problem is, when I've made an effort to be very nice to somebody, I've been stalked in return, or been given loads of unwanted attention, which I've had a tough time getting rid of.  Or else, I've been taken for granted, and my time has been imposed upon, or my efforts have been belittled. 

It has become like this - every time I find myself being nice, the thought crops up - is it worth being nice to this person?  And I've been distressed by that thought.  

So I tell myself, "Look, do what comes naturally to you, the repercussions be damned."  

And so, it continues.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Day 24 - Musical child?

When Puttachi was very young, I tried to find out if she could carry a tune.  It didn't seem like she could, initially, and it didn't even seem like she had a sense of rhythm.  I was prematurely worried.  I come from a family which loves music, and a sense and appreciation of music comes naturally to us.  So I was upset that Puttachi probably didn't have it.

In hindsight, I was probably comparing her to my cousin, the only one I had seen at close quarters at that age, who happens to be exceptionally talented.  Anyway, I expressed my doubts to my mom and she said, "Nonsense, just wait a bit."   She also told me that I probably don't surround Puttachi with enough music, and so perhaps she hasn't quite soaked in it enough.

My mother did have a point.  For a few years after Puttachi was born, I avoided music.  It was perhaps because Puttachi talked so much that we were involved in constant conversations.  As a result, my brain was constantly buzzing.  And so I craved for silence and peace, and the last thing I wanted was music to disturb the silence in my head.   [That stage is  past me, by the way.  I again listen to music while I work.]

So, anyway, I waited. Gradually, I saw that Puttachi could indeed carry a tune, and when I tried making her sing with a tamboori, she sang with the correct shruthi.   That gave me some peace.  Then I worried that she didn't have a sense of rhythm.  But that came too.

And then one day, we went into the badminton court, and switched on the lights.  The lights made that soft electronic hum, and Puttachi listened to it, and with that hum as the shruthi, she sang Sa-re-ga-ma-pa correctly.

I told my mother - "Whether she learns to sing or not, whether she likes to sing or not,  whether she'll sing another note in her life or not, it doesn't matter any more.  Just the fact that she sang the right notes with that random hum in that badminton court - that is enough for me."

I'm sure musically-inclined folks will know what I mean, and how much that means to me!
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