Author Archives: Rambler

That which remains

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Memories are always cherished. They are the only thing of your loved ones that remain long after they are gone. Still why is it that, after a period of time, we wish we had more memories of people we care about? How is it that our parents have a long list of memories from our childhood, and none from our recent past? Why is it that we end up having to think hard to relive a memory of our time with our parents?

Memories are moments of life which survive the test the time. For moments to survive, they need to have occurred in the first place. Having said that, moments do not occur, they transpire over time. You realize moments, a while after you have lived them. The key here is the time factor. Unless you “live” them, you wouldn’t realize your moments. Unless you have your moments, you won’t have the joy of memories.

I was thinking about ways we could fill our lives and our parents’ with memories, and here is a list of things which would add joy to our time with parents.

Be a part of their activities:

Parents have their own set of activities revolving around their interests. Your mom might prefer going to a nearby temple, over dining out. Your dad might like taking a walk to the neighborhood market or enjoy the simple joys of working on a crossword or a soduku. It may bring a smile to their faces, when you volunteer to be part of these day to day activities of theirs. The small time spent with them, doing things which they love to do, can surprise you with happiness which you may never look for in these activities.

Include them in your activities:

You could just be watching TV on a Sunday, [Yes,  watching TV is an activity, even though my wife disagrees], it’s nice to pull your parents along to watch a song which you know they love. They might be busy in their world, but I am sure, they wouldn’t mind dropping in to watch their favorite song, when its on TV. If you have plans for shopping, or even a visit to your favorite “chatwallah” round the corner, it would be nice to invite them to join you once in a while. It is possible they would want to avoid this intrusion into your life, but reassurance that they are invited whole-heartedly can work wonders. You would know many facets of their life, which I am sure you will treasure.

Discuss a problem with them:

Parents have loads of experience and would have faced a whole lot of problems in their lifetime. Having solved all the problems for their kids over years, suddenly they are of not much use once the children grow up. Times have changed, and world has changed a lot, you might feel they are not of much help in the problem you are facing today, which might be true as well. However, there is nothing like the feeling of being needed by children, there is nothing like having the satisfaction of having helped your children. Why rob them of this pleasure?

Discuss the problem you are facing, they might have some great insight which might help you, even if they don’t, just talking about the problem, might ease your burden, and bring them joy. Discussing a problem does not mean complaining to them all the time, or forcing your problems on them.

Try to help them out in their problems:

Many of the new age parents are financially independent; this does not mean they do not have financial problems or that they do not have doubts and dilemmas. Introduce them to newer financial products which they may not have access to, and discuss your idea of finance and it management.

They might have many issues, which they would not know whom to contact, they may not even be able to identify their problems. Lending an ear, can help them figure out many of their problems and issues. Its very common for the old people to dismiss their children’s advice, or not be able to follow what the children are trying to convey. Just like your children, your parents too can come across as adamant, and stubborn. Please not that you are trying to solve their problem, and just like the way you let your children make mistakes, you may have to deal with letting your parents make mistakes too. The experience of being a part of their problems, is as rewarding as being able to solve their problems.

Go on a vacation:

Living with your parents, or visiting them often, helps in spending quality time with them. however, thats not enough. Taking time off, and heading to a vacation, however short in duration it may be, helps you to spend a relaxed time with them. Many a times, with the amount of pressure on individuals these days, the time spent with family is either an aftermath of a busy day of work, or in preparation of the things to come at work the next day, even weekends are spent in attempts to rewind from a busy week, or trying hard to relax before the madness of the coming week. A relaxed vacation can bring a much needed open mind when spending time with your parents. A vacation also usually brings out the youth in parents, giving them another reason to smile.

Gift them needful things:

People usually have lot of occasions to gift their parents; there are always birthdays and anniversary, and fathers and mothers day. The clichéd saree from your first salary to your mother still lingers around. It’s nice to gift them big, but its even better to have an eye for their smaller necessities. Be it a pen which needs a new refill or a worn out wallet of your dad, a soothing gel for your mothers cracked heals, or even refill of their prescription medicine. It is not that, they cannot afford these, or that they can’t do these chores on their own, this just gives them the satisfaction of being looked after, and provides you of the joy of taking care.

A family meal:

One shared meal with the family everyday is easiest way to build memories. Even most silent of the families open up over a dinner table. Dinner table conversation involves everyone in the table,  it can vary from discussing a cartoon character, to worrying about the country’s financial and political woos. Sharing a meal, provides a common ground for sharing opinions, and sharing each other’s highlights from the day. There are many a laughs and smiles which always remain long after the eaten meal has left your system.

Request a dish:

A family always knows each other’s likes and dislikes, and food has always been a big part of Indian households. Even today my uncle sends my favorite peda from Ahmedabad, whenever someone comes over. Why not make it a point to celebrate food once in a way. Why not request your mom to cook your favorite dish, amidst your busy week. Why not ask your dad to decide the menu for the Saturday’s lunch, believe me, even non foodies love to decide the menu.

A small get together:

Most of us do not share our social lifes with our parents. We never have time for people who are important to them. We do not consider it important to share people who are important to us with them. How many of our friends really know our parents, or have spent 10 minutes over coffee with our parents. It might be worth organizing a small get-together involving both worlds. You can keep it intimate with few of your best friends, and few of your parents friends.

Just because I have mentioned these points over here, does not mean I practice all of them. I may have followed some of them, and might have thought of trying some.

As I collect my memories of my parents, I would love to discover more things which I can do to earn them.

On the other side.

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Ah! my stomach hurts
Phew! the breakfast today sucks. I want something else
Mom, students are picking on me at school, I wont go to school from now on.
I didn’t sleep well last night, and now my head hurts, do something about it.
Damn!, No power since morning, and we have the cricket match today. Why can’t you give a complaint to KEB
Why does grandmother have to worry about how late I take bath, would you please tell her not to bother.
The waiter has served a coffee which is cold, why can’t you shout at him,
The sheets are dirty and the lunch served is not hot, how can they get away with such service.

Yes, yes. I know you all get the idea. I have listed a bunch of complaints and cribs I used to have. Isn’t it fun complaining?. For a long long time, I have been complaining, to my dad, to my mom. Its almost mechanical, for children to complain to parents. As a child, what I did not notice, was that, it was mechanical for my mom also to complain to my dad. So where does that leave my dad?, who does he complain to?.

Marriage changes our life in many ways, some good and some bad. Its always fun to complain, as long as you are the one who is complaining. [The last part of that has been a more recent realization]. Today when my wife complains to me, I realize how it feels to be complained to, how helpless it makes us feel at times, how irritated we get when the problems are trivial [in my point of view], how frustrated we get when the solutions is not accepted by the complainer, how foolish it feels when the complainer is not even up for solving the problem.

Sometimes I listen to my wife complain, and my mind is shouting back at me. “Hold on, I don’t want to listen, I want to be the one who complains. No, not you, you don’t get to complain to me, I am the one who has the privilege”.

Complaints are mostly a way for us to vent our frustration, in many a cases we are fully aware of the fact that, the other person has absolutely no way of solving the problem. Unfortunately a person who hears the complaint, does not see it in the same light. He is obligated to solve the problem, or dismiss the same. In both the cases listening to complaints lead to a whole lot of irritation

When I think about things in retrospect, everything makes so much more sense. However, in the moment, I just don’t want to listen, I want to escape, I want the other person to stop. The irritation just shows up clean and clear on my face.

I guess marriage needs me grown up in a whole lot of ways.

Until then, I still want to be the one who gets to complain.

Entering a temple

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As I was walking into my workplace today I saw a man walking in ahead of me. He did not have the employee badge, buy his attire he looked like he works as one of the support staff.  As we were both about to enter the automated glass door, he did something which caught my eye. He touched the glass and touched his forehead and his eyes. [This is a gesture called "kannigotkolodu", in other words saluting a divine entity]. We usually do this when we are praying to the god, or entering a temple as we consider the temple a divine abode. His action was impulsive and am sure it was part of  his daily routine.

I do not think his gesture is blind faith or superstition. In it, I see a lot of respect for the place which is giving him his livelihood. His act made me think,

How many of us employees have this feeling of entering a temple as we enter our workplace?.

Do we really value and respect our job as much?

Are values like these outdated in todays fast paced IT world?

The story of loris.

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I was on my way to work today, listening to my ipod, and the song “surmayee ankhiyon mein” from the movie Sadma came on. Now don’t ask me why I listen to a lori [A song meant to induce sleep] on my way to work. I am definitely not the types who listen to peppy music in the mornings. As I was enjoying the tremendous song, and happily feeling the emotions it inspires in me, it struck me that in the past few years there has been no new lori song, nothing I can remember in movies, I don’t even want to get into the state of non filmi music in India.

I was thinking what could be the reason behind this change in the taste of music lovers [I assume the industry does work on supply demand basis].

How many of modern day mothers really put their babies to sleep by singing songs?, well to be frank how many of the mothers really put babies to sleep. With this fast paced world, where the ‘mom’ is usually more busier than the ‘dad’ running around the house and having to work, I do not think she would get enough time to put the baby to sleep, let alone spend a relaxed few minutes singing loris to the kid. Actually I find it a little sad.

The taste in the music too has changed over the years, with slow songs not finding many takers, and I don’t think any one would feel like sleeping listening to a “dinka Chika”. I remember one of my cousins, who has this habit of singing songs all throughout the day when she is doing her household work, in fact we had a nick name for her as “ATN” one of the old music channels which kept on playing hindi songs. When she got her baby, she continued to sing along throughout the day, and  one day we caught her trying to make the baby sleep by singing the song “Tu Cheez Badi Hain Mast Mast”. We actually couldn’t stop laughing and didnt stop teasing her for a while.

Is the concept of a lori too unrealistic and something which shows up only on screen. I always wondered about that. My mom never sang loris to put me to sleep, in fact she would be too tired by the end of the day to even talk to me, being a working mom, that too when my father used to be away all the time was not easy for her.

Frankly speaking I don’t see my wife putting our kids to sleep in future by singing songs. Have loris become outdated?. If they are, it adds on to a list of many things which I feel sad to have become extinct.

Since movies have been one of places where people want to run away from harsh realities of real life, its high time for some music directors to get back the lost glory of the loris back on screen.

A birth tree

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Recently I read about the idea of birth-trees. No , I am not talking, about the tree which matches your star sign. I say that because, you google for “birth-tree” and top 10 hits are about how to find your birth-tree. The birth tree I am talking about is an interesting concept in many communities, where in, they plant a tree when a baby is born. I read about two very different philosophies behind the same act [Ritual, if you want to term it that way].

Some communities in Kashmir have a practice of planting a tree in the name of the new born baby. Since birch is the most common variety in Kashmir, its usually a birch tree. The idea behind the tree planting, is to nurture the tree along with the baby. The children too are imbibed with a sense of ownership for that tree, thereby making them take care of it. This tree is considered as a financial investment, and when the child grows up, it can be sold and the money can be used in setting up of the person.

Few parsi communities too have a practice of planting a tree for the new born baby. The parents take atmost care of the tree. They believe that the soul of the baby stays with the tree. Even when the children grow up and have to physically move, parents still have a feeling that their children are still close to them in spirits.

One practice is financial and practical, where as the other tends more towards the spiritual sides. I liked both the ideas; firstly it results in people planting the tree. Secondly and most importantly, it makes people think trees are our future just like our kids.

Is memory going the appendix way

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I remember a conversation I had with my friend a couple of years back. He moved out of the country after our graduation, and has remained there ever since. Once,after a couple of drinks, when we were all nostalgic, and remembering our college days, he said that even today he remembered my home telephone number, and all he needs to do, is get to a telephone keypad and the numbers just come back to his mind. Strangely, I had his home number remembered, even though we haven’t dialed each other on that number for years now.
As I was taking my shower, where usually all my posts sprout from. I was just wondering that, today, if someone asks me my wife’s cell phone number, or my parents, I actually struggle. I depend so much on the address book on my phones that, I no longer care to remember the phone numbers. I am sure, my mind would not hesitate much, if I ask it to remember these numbers, it is just that I no longer care.
We seem to be dependent so much on these gadgets, have we begun to lose our abilities?.
Just like the hunting instinct which was once the primary weapon and the skill of the human beings which no longer seem to be seen, even in traces. [Salman Khan is an exception]. May be with this information age, we are making our memory obsolete.
There was a time when going to a reference library was a norm. People would spend hours together to find the information they wanted, in the process discover so many other things. The skill to find the right information, included ability to remember the author names, books, the racks and rows, Involved inter personal skills of interacting with a librarian, or a friend, or a professor who had a better skill then you. Today all that is replaced by a simple text box on google. All you need to know is, what you want to know about.
The influence of search engines is so much in our lives, that there are times when I am searching for a misplaced thing, and I wish if google could search through my belongings.
Do we call this technological advancement or laziness?.

Why does it feel so long

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I close my eyes and,
I can still feel
the dusky brown skin.

With my eyes open,
I can still feel,
those smooth tanned curves.

With a smile on my face,
I can still feel,
The sensation of you on my lips.

With every breath of air,
I can still feel,
The tingle of your fragrance.

With every passing moment
I can still feel
The freshness of our moist kiss.

I agree, its been just a while,
but,
Why does it feel so long.

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P.S 2012 has been a no coffee/tea year for Rambler..so far. Why this, Why this new year resolution di.

Book list 2011

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There was a time when I used to update my book shelf  regularly. Well there was a time when I used to blog regularly.

Anyhow, I have made it a point to update the book shelf atleast once a year, and finally todays the chosen day for book list 2011.

2011 was an year of new ventures when it comes to books. I finally broke away from my known territory of non fiction, and made major inroads into fiction.  Towards the end of the year I also experimented with Science Fiction with considerably good results.   I also had a good year in terms of numbers, 25 books in 12 months was way above my usual numbers. No wonder I haven’t been blogging. 2011 also saw a major addition to my book shelf, the Kindle.

The pillars of the earth Ken Follett **

A historical fictional story set in medieval times. Gives a brief insight into architectural masterpieces and what goes behind them. Huge book in terms of pages. In between had a feeling that I was watching a television series or a bollywood movie. In all an OK read

Dork Sadin Vidukut *

Got mislead by a charming cover, and a unknown familiarity to the title. This is one of those time pass books which have flooded Indian book shops. I did laugh over a couple of pages, but then in all a very dull affair.

Urban Shots Paritosh Uttam *

I expected the book to be good. Its actually a collection of short stories, many of them which I could not relate to, or sounds too filmy. Definitely worth a skip.

Corporate Atyaachaar Abhay Nagarajan *

This was probably the book which made me stop buying contemporary [Read Chetan Bhagat Wannabes] indian books. Books   set either in IIM’s IIT’s or today’s corporate world, with a story plot which involves an underdog making it big or having an OK life at the end of all campus fun seems to be the plot of all books these days.

Wish Melina Geroza Bellows *

I picked this up at a second hand online book auction. Its actually categorized under chick lit. Unfortunately I didn’t read much about the book and just ordered. Its an OK book, which my wife liked more than me. If you are one those who like sex and the city, then probably you would like to read this book.

The prince of mist Carloz Ruiz Zafon **

After having loved Angel’s game and Shadow of the wind, I wanted to read the Prince of Mist written by Zafon. This was actually meant for young adults. The highlight of the book according to me is the writing style and the emphasis given to expressions of the young adults in the plot. The images are so vivid that one can actually see the book unfold in 3D.

Dreaming in Hindi Katherine Russell Rich *

This book is about a person suffering from a serious illness accepting a writing assignment which requires her to travel to India and study hindi. I actually loved the plot of the book, and had high expectations from it. This book was very boring, and had to struggle to finish it. May be its the lack of humor or the dry presentation. The book didn’t work for me at all.

84 Charing cross road Helene Hanff ***

I think this must be one of the most read books in the world. The book does not fail to meet the expectations. Its a collection of letters written by a reader to a book store. What I liked the most about the book was the innocence which is evident in the letters. I actually wanted to read some more when the book ended. Definitely worth a read.

Delhi Adventures in a megacity Sam Miller *

I started reading this because of my strange fixation towards travelogues. This is actually a very good and detailed documentation of Sam Miller about the Delhi city. If I had probably read this an year back I might have loved it, Now that the reader in me is spoiled because of all the spice of fiction, this book came across as a very bland one. I actually remembered the passages when I was recently in delhi, reading the road side boards.

Agastya [Kannada] ***

This is a detailed story of the sage Agastya. If you are into mythology and keen on reading more about not much written about people, this is a must read. It also helped considering I was recently watching a lot of documentaries on the subject.

Animal Farm George Orwell ***

If there is any book which can come close to Jonathan Livingston Seagull, it has to be this one. The idea of a fable being used to depict something as big as this one, is an amazing thing a writer can accomplish. Its a small book, but very profound. Yet again a must read.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Dr Seuss **

Its actually a kids book, but fun to read. If you are a parent, you should definitely read this to your children.

1984 A Novel George Orwell ****

Probably one of the best book I read in 2011. I got hooked onto it like a magnet. The book has amazing narrative and puts you in a complex set of motions. I just love the ending, and the eventuality with which the story unfolds. A must read.

Aleph Paulo Coelho *

Paulo Coelho has never been this disappointing. Apart from a couple of quotes, I did not relate to the whole book. Its as though the author is trying to describe a huge phenomenon which is extremely hard to believe in. I would rather reread eleven minutes.

The Great Gatsby Scott F. Fitzgerald ***

This is a good little book. Its very different from the usual ones, and an unusual love story. At the end of the book, it makes you wonder, can it happen like this?. I have heard they are making a movie on this book with Leo De Caprio. One thing is for sure, I will not watch the movie.

Anna Karenina Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy, Joel Carmichael **

If you are game for a looooong unending filmy tale of people, this book is for you. I struggled to finish this one, and almost visualized a tele series with Ekta Kapoor directing this.
One thing which I liked about the book was its setting. It is set in Russia, and the culture and the attitude of the people there was something which I was not aware of. This book gave a pretty insight into medieval Russian outlook.

Indian calendar system ***

Its a book describing Indian calendar system and mathematical principles behind this. It explained so many things which I used to follow blindly. If anyone is interested in Indian calendar, and significance of various special days we follow, this is a must read book.

Devuru DVG [Kannada] ***

This is a short essay in kannada written by DVG, arguably the greatest Kannada poet of all times. Its about explaining GOD and his features. There is no myth in the essay, its just a collection of advantages disadvantages of belief in god, the characters of such an almighty and more discussion about the same. A definite read for all the people. Its also available in English.

Wise and other wise Sudha Murthy **

A collection of short writings by Sudha Murthy. Its a good read.

The finkler’s question Howard Jacobson **

It gives a good insight about jewish culture, and also is humorous at many parts. Its about a Christian who has a doubt that he is a jew. Its about a looser and things he goes through in life. Its a fun read.

The Postman Always Rings Twice Cain, James M. ***

Its a mystery. Its set in olden times in America. I had fun reading some parts of it.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #1) Adams, Douglas ***

My first attempt at reading science fiction. The book makes you imagine a lot. The idea of a space travel, and earth being an experiment kind of intrigues the reader.

 If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler Calvino, Italo **

I have to admit, this must be the book with the most bizarre narrative I have ever read. Its very confusing, and very difficult to follow. But thats the selling point of the book. There is no way I can describe the book in few sentences. A very unique read.

Foundation (Foundation, #1) Asimov, Isaac ***

Foundation, The first of the books in the trilogy, had me glued to it for most of the time. The fictional aspect of the book is good and different. What struck me most is the similarity between the content and Indian Mythology. I actually would love to do a long post on parallels between the two. A must read book.

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller **

I had heard a lot about this book. I had borrowed this once from the library in 2009 and had returned after reading a few pages. The book has too much explicit content and language for my comfort. However This time around I could complete the book. I couldn’t find the reason for the hype around the book. Its about an American in France, who is leading a close to a homeless life doing small chores in France. His frustration with life and sexual encounters form the main plot of the book.