Thursday, April 26, 2018

W for water

For my W post I have chosen something that has no colour - water referred to as the elixir of life.

Water takes the shape of it's container and the colour of it's contents or surroundings. We cannot change what happens around us or what those around us do. Some things are totally not in our control. But like water we can beautifully blend and adapt ourselves. I don't mean to say give in to anything and everything and be a scapegoat . Like it's mentioned in many self help books what we are in total control of is not the situation but how we react to it.

Water reminds me of the beauty of the seas and oceans on our planet and the magnificent world of sea creatures.  After all we the humans with so called 6th sense occupy only a fourth of earth. These beautiful fish, sea plants , whales , sea horses , sharks, jelly fish , octopi and millions of water based plants and animals dominate the remaining three quarters .

Earth day just went by. Let's all do our part in reducing the havoc we are causing in nature . Reduce reuse and recycle. 

V for Violet

Violet reminds me of the rainbow. As kids we used the acronym VIBGYOR to remember the colours of the rainbow.

After pink I think it's the second most important colour in which all merchandise related to girl children are designed .

I get reminded of the poem

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
sugar is sweet,
And so are you.

Monday, April 23, 2018

U for umbrella

A standard part of my kids ' colouring books are umbrellas. It's fun coloring them too as they , like balloons, do not have any color restrictions. You can be as imaginative as you can.

Being able to carry their umbrellas on their own is like a huge achievement for the little ones. 

I have been amused by a scene where a father son duo keep their umbrella upside down in the rain , let it fill with water and use it as a lake for their paper boats while they get drenched in the pouring showers . I am not sure where I saw it, on TV in a commercial perhaps!

In Singapore since it can rain throughout the year an umbrella is a very common accessory men and women carry .

I do hate those times when your umbrella meekly pays obeissance to the strong wind, flips over and  drags you along . Lesson : Having an umbrella in the rain is sense, if the wins is so strong staying put at home is more sense !

T for turqouise

Turquoise is a beautiful blue green color. There is a precious stone going by the same name. We even used to get inks for fountain pens in turquoise color.

As she waited alone,
The dull blue of her heart  resonated
The turquoise gems on her that shone;
A glimpse of him and now elated ;
Oh No! Turqoise ! Her glow cannot be outdone!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

S for Saffron

Today there is a lot of realizations and social media preaching about the harmful effects of artificial food coloring .

There are some natural food colours that add not just vibrance but also nice aroma s to our food .

Saffron an expensive spice, that comes from the flowers of a plant known by the same name , adds a beautiful orange or yellow shade to food . It's mostly used in sweet dishes or in rice while making biryani .

In Tamilnadu there is a belief that drinking saffron flavoured milk during pregnancy results in babies with fairer skin .

Saffron is expensive because every flower has only three threads of the spice and hence it's a lot of work .

Another food colour generously used in indian cooking is turmeric that's supposed to have medicinal properties as well.

What natural food colours do you use ?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

R for red

Red - there are umpteen things that are red under the sun.

Traffic lights , ink used by teachers , roses , chilli powder, apples, strawberries etc.

Red is associated with extreme negative ends in today's digital world. Red spells danger ! Red means stop.Ironically today's media and social media seem to be obsessed with red alerts and showcasing the world as an absolutely horrendous place of existence .

There is a phrase that has become a common colloquial quip in Tamil these days .

" Unakku vantha ratham enakku vantha thakkaali sauce a " which translates to " if it happens to you it's blood but if it happens to me it's tomato sauce ?" :D The flow and humour in the quote is of course lost in translation.

It refers to people who make it a big deal when they are in a particular situation, but belittle it when others go through the same. Another way of putting it is , we will know what a person is going through when we actually go through it ourselves . It's easy to get judgemental or opinionated .

We say in English also right?..we have to put ourselves in others shoes . Without that,it's very easy to point fingers and get all high, mighty and accusatory.

Red is an important colour in Asia. Especially here in Singapore, when it's time of Chinese New Year we will see red decorations everywhere . All malls would have figure of the zodiac animal pertaining to that year in red . There would be red lanterns all over the place. Red is meant to bring good luck and happiness .

After all that red, I decided to wear red to work today . Beware ! Stay Away ! :D

Q for quilling and quilting

Quilling is an art that has gained a lot of popularity of late . It involves rolling and pasting coloured paper to create beautiful designs . I think it's an activity that we can get kids involved in. It will boost their creativity , increase their attention span and above all it sounds like pure fun.

It does require some patience though .

Quilting is sewing together multiple layers of fabric in beautiful patterns to make quilts . I read in a book recently about people pursuing it as a hobby. If I remember correctly in last year's April A to Z challenge there was a blogger who shared her quilt work .

I never learnt to knit though I am quite fascinated by the way a yarn of wool can transform into beautiful sweaters and scarves .

Then there is good old sketching and painting of course . I like to draw sometimes though I don't do it often. A blank paper with some colour pencils fills me with a lot of excitement . It's a beautiful feeling.

Art can be therapeutic. It's a tool which helps you focus on something completely and in the process helps relieve a lot of stress that's bottled up inside.

Is there any art that you indulge in ?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

P for pink

Pink has been universally stereotyped as the color representing the female species.

Especially when I go shopping here for my daughter's clothes there is an avalanche of pink .- pink skirts pink dresses pink shoes pink bags ...phew!

Girls wearing blue don't seem to get as ridiculed as boys wearing pink.

One of my favourite cartoons as a kid was Pink Panther and the trademark back ground music of the series.

Pink ribbon is an international organization working towards breast cancer awareness . I recently came to know that men can also get breast cancer though it is rare on a comparative scale.

What does pink remind you of ?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

O for Orange

Phew!! After a series of letters where there were no common colours and surviving L and M and N finally reached O.

Basic question: Which came first , the colour or the fruit? Is the colour orange called so because it is the colour of the fruit or vice versa?

Another interesting fact is that usually there are eleven segments inside an orange..Atleast the ones we get back home in India....In Tamil the words "aaru" and "anju" mean 6 and 5 respectively. 6+5 = 11 and so "aaru"+"anju" = "aaranju" --> Orange! Isn't that interesting!

Orange is a beautiful vibrant colour. It is the colour of the sky when the sun and moon swap places in the evening! Have you taken the time to sit and watch the setting sun? Its a lovely orange that slowly disappears at the edge of the earth!

Its a part of my country's national flag (saffron to be precise).

It's also the colour of my favourite animal the tiger that is an embodiment of self confidence and courage. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

N for neutral colours

Shades of white, brown, beige are supposed to be neutral especially in paint. 

They are supposed to easily blend with other colours and can also serve to tone down some of the overpoweringly bright shades .

In social circles too be it among friends , in a class or in an office setting we have neutral people. They are the ones who are quite diplomatic , refrain from taking sides and analyse critical situations  with prudence without letting their emotions controlling them. They don't raise their voice unnecessarily and usually speak without their ego coming in their way. They are confident and quite unperturbed usually no matter what is the situation around . 

Then there are  some extremely talented  people who are good at heart but quite brash and hasty when dealing with situations in life. If they have  such a neutral person by their side it's a great combination. 

Do you have any neutral folks in life ?

M for Magenta

Magenta is a purplish pink color. It's a color that finds unique place among silk sarees especially Kanchivarams.

I love sarees and silk sarees oh my ! They are my prized possessions . In South Indian Hindu weddings our bridal wear is mainly lovely Kanchivaram sarees .  I remember the fun I had shopping for my wedding hopping from one Saree shop to another .

There is an elegance that Saree gives to the person wearing it . It's a dresswear that will always fit you whether you grow fat or thin.

I think carrying yourself in a Saree is an art in itself . It should not look like you are somehow managing should be a part of you that comfortably glides along with you .

I am always on the look out for occasions when I can drape a Saree .  Temple visits , parties , functions I never let go of an opportunity

Thursday, April 12, 2018

L for Lipstick

The other day when I went shopping, I saw a man who looked like in his early twenties at a cosmetic store . He was crouched near the bottom most shelf of the lipstick section.

I was amused seeing the different streaks he had made on his arm using various shades of lipstick and then proceeded to do so with another one. He opened the lid very carefully, and made a neat line with utmost care and precision next to the ones already etched there.

Then I realized that he was on a WhatsApp video call and was showing it to someone at the other end, probably his girlfriend. That person was seeing the shades and deciding which one to purchase. There seemed to be a very urgent lipstick crisis !

I smiled and walked on. 

Lipsticks are usually in shades of  pink, brown , red . Of course I have seen almost black shades in movies too.

One cosmetic item that really fascinates little girls is this one. I remember a school competition where my friends and I participated . We were around 10 years od age if I remember correctly. There was this main dance on the show and we were singing for them at the backstage .Not the main song , a final number as a note of thanks  In other words our role was something added on to feed our "I am also participating" ego and was an absolutely unnecessary and irrelevant component   We could have been in our own selves in our school uniforms. But then we had to wear lipstick , otherwise our show would have been incomplete !  We spent almost half an hour in front of the mirror applying the lipstick while the main dancers had already lined up near the stage!

At weddings, the little girls will be after their older cousins and aunts to add a dose of color to their faces . I remember running after my cousins and also the little girls that ran after me in search of make up.

During my cousins wedding I was around 15 and in an attempt to do my own make up I had plastered a layer of white on my wheat skinned face and added a liberal dose of a horrifying brown to my lips. My mother's " your make up us a little gaudy" fell on deaf ears. Someone please destroy those photos ! Ha ha 

I remember the hue and cry netizens had made when Aishwarya Rai decided to sport a purple lipshade at Cannes film festival.

Do you have any mis-make-up stories to share ?

Image source

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

K for kaleidoscope

When one looks through a kaleidoscope we come across beautiful patterns . Rotate and they change. Rotate and they change again.

Situations in life are similar aren't they ? We need to look at them from different angles and we get different opinions, different views ! They may contradict , they may collide but each would have it's own history , it's own reasoning , it's own justification. End of the day that's what makes life beautiful.

A kid would sometimes get more joy peering through a kaleidoscope than from the costliest toys or clothes. At that one moment all that matters to him is the beautiful world this simple instrument takes him into. That is one age when we learn to get simple joys from the smallest of things.  And then unfortunately we grow up.

In today's world of virtual reality we have videos spinning around us when we fit a machine to our heads, and machines that can read our minds! 

No matter how far we go we must never forget that there are simple joys in life . Sometimes all you need is a beautiful array of colours that smiles back at you from inside a kaleidoscope.

J for Jade

My father visited China when I was around 10 years old. He got me a beaded jade necklace. That was the first time i was introduced to this ornamental stone and it's unique colour and subtle shine.

Jade is supposed to come in many colours but typically it's a shade of green.

It's called an oriental gem as it's use was predominantly in China and other South East Asian countries.

Jade is supposed to be one of the two minerals nephrite or jadeite scientifically.

Here in Singapore I have seen many jewellery stores selling exquisite pieces in Jade and also people wearing jade pendants and bracelets .

Jade is believed to bring good things to the wearer like we have beliefs related to other gemstones in India . Many people wear it for that reason. A Google search gave the following statement 'The Chinese believed that since jade objects lasted so long, they were linked to immortality. They believe jade to also bringgood luck, benevolence, purity, and enhancedintelligence.'

We have restaurants here with jade in their names . I love the subtle elegant radiance of this ornamental stone. It does not shine much yet is beautiful!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

I for Indigo

As a kid I remember mugging up and repeating the colours of the rainbow and using the abbreviation VIBGYOR to remember them right .

But for a long time I was not sure what exactly indigo was. To quote from Wikipedia 'Indigo was actually a plant that got its name because it came from the Indus Valley Civilisation, discovered some 5,000 years ago, where it was called nila, meaning dark blue'

I have read articles that to cover gray hair one can mix indigo powder with henna. The result is a shade closer to black compared to the usual brownish red that henna gives.

A Google search today gives a whole lot of links related to the low cost airline Indigo . I have travelled on their flight. Somehow I like the concept of low cost for what you use .... Thanks to this concept travelling has become a lot more affordable for many families today especially international travel.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

H for Hibiscus

For the botany class on the parts of a flower , the usual subject of choice is the hibiscus or the shoeflower. Our biology teacher made such great efforts to drill it into our heads that I can imagine an eighty year old me forgetting my own name but clearly remembering it's scientific one - Hibiscus rosasinensis. The structure if the flower makes it very easy to dissect and explain the petal, sepal, calyx , corolla etc.

During my childhood we used to have a hibiscus plant at home , the red layered variety. Hibiscus leaves soaked in water makes a great conditioner for hair. Squeeze and crush them with hands and apply to dry hair before shampoo ing and hair gets really silky soft. Am I sounding like a salon ad ? But honestly from experience it does have a nice effect and cools down your body too.

Hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia . During our 2 year stay in Kuala Lumpur , main roads decked up with light decorations resembling this humble flower was a common sight.

This is one flower that comes in so many colours and they bloom in abundance on each plant . Hence having a couple of them in your garden can add a lot of colour and vibrance. Orange, red , pink , cream , yellow and sometimes double coloured .

But I think it's predominantly an Asian flower. Not sure if it grows in other parts of the world.

Image source : wikipedia 

Friday, April 6, 2018

F for Flowers

What things are colourful around us ? Flowers would top the list.

How many colours and shades and hues they come in. A vase filled with a bunch of beautiful flowers can add so much life to any living room.

To us South Indians the white Jasmine flower with its heavenly smell is an integral part of our culture.

During my last trip to India I was amazed to see some of the women officers at the immigration counters in Chennai International airport.

They knew perfectly well to display a total business like aura in their neatly starched and crisply ironed cotton sarees and the jasmine flowers adorning their hair.

Flower garlands are also an important part of our daily lives. We use them to worship our deities. We use them to honour people. At weddings our brides and grooms exchange garlands.We use them during auspicious occasions. We use them to pay respects to the departed too.

In fact we even place flower garlands on our newly purchased motorbikes and cars after offering prayers of safety .

Little girls dressed in colourful silk skirts , a bindion their forehead and some Jasmine flowers on their tiny heads are a cute sight at any temple .

  • We love our flowers. We enjoy life through our flowers .

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

E for Emerald Green

The museum was unusually crowded. In a city with a lot of palaces and forts to visit , it was one of the last preferred places by tourists . Today a couple of schools had brought the children for an excursion.

The usual silence was missing and a cacophony of the voices of eight and ten year olds filled the entire hall. In between, one could hear the "Shhh" coming from the teachers.

Ramu was in deep slumber in his usual corner , and he woke up with extreme annoyance.He hated such days. A grumbling stomach made him realize that it was time to grab a bite.

Teacher Sushila was behind the children, fully alert to make sure they did not touch anything. She moved forward , her eyes fixed on her students. She felt a faint glow on her cheek and slightly turned to cast a momentary glance at the exhibit on her left. The crown was from the 12th century and exquisitely crafted. The emerald at the center was huge . "It's a beautiful green" she thought. Suddenly she gave a gasp. She thought she had seen something. Something that she thought looked like an eye . She blinked and looked again. " I must be imagining things" she smiled to herself and moved on.

Ramu stretched his arms as he made his way out. He was thinking of what to eat and the anticipation made him shiver in excitement.

Susheela followed the children out. No one noticed the shade her eyes had taken for a momentary second before returning to their normal shade of brown. Green ! Emerald green !

Raja Ramsingh was stepping out after 200 years . It was time to devour. He chuckled with glee. Every time he did that , the eyes of his prey turned a shade of green. Emerald green !

This post was written as part of the annual A to Z April blogging challenge

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

D for Dusky D for Denim

D for dusky:

The word dusky reminds me of renowned Tamil film director Balu Mahendra . I remember him mentioning in an interview that he thought dusky women were beautiful. In fact most of his heroines were dusky and would wear minimal make up. True to his word they were beautiful indeed.

These days social media is fighting the craze people have over fair skin and the whole lot of fairness products in the market that are actually supposed to have harmful effects . Still I find most beauty products glorifying their whitening effects.

Every complexion is beautiful in its own way. Yet sadly we humans tend to build beliefs and prejudices based on this outer layer. End of the day what would remain of all of us is the skeletal structure beneath right ?

I read in a novel about a possible future where the fashion would be to dye ones skin similar to dye ing ones hair. Imagine ! People with red yellow, green and purple skins. It would be a zoo out here .

But that would possibly be a solution to the many news articles we hear related to the colour of ones skin.

We are all beautiful. In our own selves. In our differences.

D for Denim:

D also reminds me of denim. Had thought of a short flash fiction

He stared at his worn out jeans . The slit they had made together on a warm Saturday afternoon now revealed his prosthetic leg. When it came, she left him. 
She sat on the temple steps clutching  a piece of denim fabric and praying " Give him the courage.Make him walk. This is my penance. I am not seeing him till then "

This post was written as part of the A to Z April blogging challenge.

Monday, April 2, 2018

C for Crayons

Eight year old Arun was on his hospital bed. He was in his pale green hospital gown and was fast asleep, his uniform gentle breaths blending with the soft whirring noise of the air conditioner. His mother sat on a chair next to him, her gaunt face focussed on him and devoid of any expression. 

The test results would be out today . The past two months had been pure hell. Arun had suddenly become unconscious in the playground one day .They had discovered a tiny tumour in his brain.

As if meant to be in unison with their despair,the room seemed colourless to a great extent. The bed, the sheets , the walls , the windows were all white. Even the sky outside visible to the eye was full of white clouds without a trace of the usual blue.

Her mind took turns to go from analysis of the past to anxieties of the future with breaks of blank exhaustion in between. The door opened and her husband entered holding a small packet in his arms .

Arun stirred and gently opened his eyes . "Daddy!" He smiled and the man realized that no matter how hard the day at the hospital had been for him , the child never let go of that mirth on seeing him.

"Hey buddy" the father remarked and gave him a friendly punch on his arm ."Look what I have got" . The child curiously looked at what the father took out from the packet and his eyes lit up with delight. " Crayons!" . He quickly pulled himself to a sitting position and enthusiastically grabbed the drawing book and the 36 pack crayons.

There was another knock on the door and the doctor entered. "Mrs and Mr Gopal, we have some updates " . The parents gathered every ounce of strength that they had managed to save and stepped out on the corridor with him.

Ten minutes later , tears were streaming down both their eyes. The mother collapsed on her husband's arms , unable to hold on to the ebbing  emotions and he held her tightly , his own sobs coming out uncontrollably.

They got back into the room and Arun was busy at work with his art. They moved near his bed and looked at his drawing . There was the bright sun, lot of pretty flowers in different colours and what looked like the three of them riding bicycles at the park. Their crayon representations wore colourful clothes and they were green trees all around.

"It was benign. Arun will soon be perfectly alright" the doctors words echoed in their minds.

This was written as part of the A to Z April blogging challenge.

B Black and Blue

Black and Blue. These two colours would remind us of a lot of things.

To begin with being beaten black and blue. There are so many things that are black and blue and beautiful yet thats what first came to my mind.

Another thing I get reminded of now is the fountain pen or ink pens that we used back in school. As students the colours we mainly used were black or blue . Filling ink in the pens was an important activity of our school days. I still remember the total fascination I had felt when I saw my kindergarten teacher fill ink in her pen for the first time .

There were pens where we had to fill the ink using an ink filler . Then there were the hero pens that had an in built filler . A Hero pen seldom leaked and it was a beautiful unique design in itself .

For our boards we had to highlight the key words in our answers and the teachers would advice " if you use black ink, underline with blue sketch. If you use blue ink underline with purple " . We meticulously followed this coloring mechanism.

Then there were those days when we forgot to fill ink in our pens and as we wrote the words would trail away into nothingness.

On the last day of school after the exams were over some students would spray ink from their pens on the backs of their peers' shirts in a fit of jubilation. Some schools had strict rules against this with the teachers in charge monitoring their students using eagle eyes and ready to take disciplinary action if necessary !

Aah ! Those were the days !

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A - Amber and Azure

I first came across the word Amber in a class 5 English lesson on a beautiful poem written by Sarojini Naidu.

It's called In The Bazaars Of Hyderabad.

I did not remember much about the poem but when I started reading it on Wikipedia the words started popping in my head quite effortlessly. The human brain is amazing.

This poem beautifully describes the vibrant colours and atmosphere of the markets of Hyderabad almost a century ago. In fact I just realized it holds the word azure too.

Amber is a material used in jewellery and for decorative purposes and is actually supposed to come in various shades . The color Amber is somewhere between gold and yellow. It is the colour that starts blinking at us from a traffic light just before red . Our body also sometimes throws warning signals at us, right? When we have to stop and take a break ? When we know we have been pushing ourselves really hard and need to take a deep breath and just RELAX.

Azure today is an important software in cloud technology . But it is the color of the sky when there is no cloud . Clear bright beautiful and stretching away onto eternity .

A clear blue sky is a beautiful sight to behold and realize just how teeny weeny we are in the vast expanse of the universe . In today's concrete jungles azure is more evident on the walls inside some of the apartments . But when we lie down on a green stretch of grass and look up at the beautiful blue of a cloudless sky , what fills our beings cannot be easily described in words .