Sunday, July 7, 2019

GG-M-P-D mantra ....repeat GGMPD

Most Indians must be familiar with "Maata Pitaa Guru Dheivam" the order of prominence amongst those to be revered . Above everything else is the mother , then the father followed by the teacher and lastly the Almighty(Dheivam)!
We live in times when we have changed this MPGD order to GG-M-P-D!

Google Guru - Maata - Pitaa - Dheivam

Since we have Google, we take out the Guru and of course coming to Dheivam - that is there in the list as a honorary mention ... These days WhatsApp seems to have more piety than temples and with Google Guru we hardly have any other spare time for anything else .

I cannot recall any day of my life where I have not googled ( oh Yes! That's an accepted verb now) anything except maybe for the pre internet ignorant blissful era!

This morning I had to go to a particular place let's call it  Destination D.

Except for Time travel, Google maps seems to be the answer for every other form of commute!
And so I queried - "Google maps!how to go there ?"

Option 1 :

Take bus from home to MRT(Metro Rail Station) A - 5 min
Take train from MRT A to MRT B 20 min
Take another bus from MRT B  to Destination D 20 min

Total  : 45 min

Option 2 :

Walk to MRT A - 20 min
Take train from MRT A to MRT B - 20 min
Take another train from MRT B to Destination - 5 min

Total 45 min

And no other options!!!!

If I combine the two and take the bus to MRT A instead of walking, and then take two trains, it would require only 30 mins. But Google did not suggest that!

It is suggesting that if the last phase of my journey is a shorter comfortable train one, I better walk the walk ... Either stand for 15 min or walk for 20 min. Nothing less! Don't you dare take the shorter one with minimal physical effort !

"Go on! Burn those calories you built up ! I am aware of your pizza nearby search yesterday" says Google!

Who else but an affectionate loving teacher would be so concerned about my health and overall well being ...

Way to go Google baba ! We are blessed !

Now repeat after me!

Google Guru - Maata - Pitaa - Dheivam!!

Monday, May 20, 2019

The park , the child, the sparrow and the butterfly

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Today on my way to work I saw a child in a stroller being pushed by someone in a park.

The weather was beautiful. The sun was shining down on the lake and the ripples in the water moved beautifully. There were so many birds all around.  White birds on the lake , little mynahs hopping on the pathway looking for crumbs , tiny sparrows producing loud tweeting noises totally out of proportion to their tiny physiques. 

The child was observing the birds. Not these ones. Her bird was standing upright, could bake cakes with her feathery hands and was wearing blue shorts and a green shirt . The cartoon kept running on the mobile phone in her hands and she was totally oblivious to the other sights around her .

I am thinking one day the sparrow would perch on her shoulder and join her to watch the baby toon songs and series.

As my bus sped along I saw a poster . "Hindi tuition classes .... composition comprehension grammar ....we cover everything " . On the right was the picture of a happy grinning child in a park chasing butterflies and catching bubbles. Oh yes! That's what they get to do in a tuition class that covers everything . 

We live in an age of enclosed confused childhood !! The digital millennials ! 

Monday, April 15, 2019

I am listening a book!

I am reading a book.Well hearing a book! ....I mean listening to a book ! Whatever !

Its an audiobook and what IS the right word here ? Someone kindly advise !

Usually i download ebooks from the local library system to read from my phone . That itself cannot be compared to holding a good paper book in my hands and immersing myself in its contents as I instinctively turn the pages. Add a hot cup of coffee , a gentle rain to the scenario and it becomes a scene straight out of a television advertisement. 

But an ebook has its own advantages.  Easy to carry around (Actually they occupy no separate space) to begin with, and whenever i spot a new word , a double click leads to an online dictionary or wikipedia! How cool is that!

I found Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novel in the library website and downloaded it , assuming it was an ebook. Only later did I realize it was an audio one. When the universe has thrown this new experience in my way why not try it ?

 It started! There was a faint music and a lady's voice started with the contents. Somehow I could not focus for the first few minutes. On further thought, I realized that the way she read the book, as in her tone, pronounciation and the expressions she added to the words were way different from what ran in my mind voice when i read from print. I had to tune myself to listen to her.

As it progressed, focussing became easier, but she was changing voices and accents for the characters.  That was one talented narrator but i found it a bit distracting. Also the way she paused between words was professional but reminded me of the cartoons my kids watch . I felt like a kid to whom someone was reading a bedtime story. Now that i am all grown up, it needs a lot of patience.

Some places where i might put in a lot of drama into the tone , she read in a nonchalant sort of way .  For someone who can spend hours watching reading or creating drama(Ahem!) , it was quite difficult to cope with .

I read book reviews on goodreads and there are so many members who mention "listening to the audiobook!" I think that is what introduced the concept to me but i had never tried it before.

It also does not have the liberty of skipping paragraphs or pages when you know exactly what is happening and find the descriptions prolonged and boring ! You just have to listen !

Having said that, audio books would definitely be a boon to those who are not well and are in bed. It could be soothing when reading could be a tiring chore.

For the extremely busy folks they could catch up on their reading while driving with an audio book.  In fact the audio included an interview piece with the author who said thats how she reads (or listens may be!) too!

It also made me wonder that for someone with a good voice and pronounciation it could be a good way to make money. Read books to convert them to audio format ! In todays workd of Siri and Artificial Intelligence we may not need humans for that. That needs another post by itself !

Monday, March 25, 2019

Life is not fair ! Seriously !

I am sitting in the bus . Its like any other Tuesday . Most of us, the employed folks are dragging ourselves to work on cars,buses, bicycles and what not ....muttering a " I wish it were Friday!" under our breaths . The ones on the bus are lost in instagram, face book , downloaded videos on Netflix and some other social media rage I am yet to familiarize myself with . Our salaries need to take count of every second we spend for the employer . But we love Fridays ONLY ! How can we love our jobs ? We have demanding bosses, annoying subordinates , difficult clients and the torture of being holed up in well lit airconditioned offices !

The man who sweeps the park everyday takes a second to glance at the speeding buses and thinks that his own children in his home town would be getting ready to go to school as well. It would take another year for him to visit them !

 There are those that are staying at home due to circumstances , carrying on with their daily service of making the homes spick and span and are muttering " I hate this life! If only I had a job. "  They look after the children , ensure that the family is well nourished, maintain the homes as clean as a temple. Yet they hate what they do. Its not a real job after all !

Then there are those that have just finished studying or had the misfortune of being a victim of company cost cuts and are now hunting desperately for an opening or a means to make a living . An interview call fills them with hope and then comes the anxiety of awaiting the results . Its either a new beginning or another opportunity down the drain !

Life is simply not fair to any one of us ...Seriously!!!

The girl next to me is listening to something on her phone. She has her headphones on, but i am convinced, that the lady driving the car next to our bus can clearly hear it . I should find out the make and model of that phone. Super volume  i must say !

I feel sorry for her ears. Yes ! akin to the statutory warnings on cigarette packs, phone manufacturers do indicate that listening to something at high volume is unhealthy . For those that cannot read, they do have a color indicator. But sometimes what we do is too important for the general improvement of mankind!! Where do we have the patience to make note of all this ? I mutter a silent prayer under my breath for the well being of her ears and all the complicated circuitry that helps us to hear .

Then I remember my friend who is an ENT surgeon and has recently started her practise in town . I had muttered a silent prayer for her too! That she may get many patients and that may her practise flourish !
Now these two prayers contradict each other !

If all ears are good how can my surgeon friend survive ??

Let life take a call ! After all its not fair !

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Give me some sunshine

Aaditya Hrudayam Punyam Sarvashatruvinaashanam
Jayavaham japennithyam akshayam paramam shivam

These are the first two lines of Aaditya Hrudayam a Hindu Sanskrit hymn praising the sun God. It refers to the sun as destroyer of enemies. Here enemy is not to be taken literally . Lack of confidence, lethargy , stress ,  ill health and a lot of things that harm us from the inside will be wiped out by the power of the sun !

This is not a post promoting religion. Today morning as i was driving , the rising sun had me spell bound. Not hot , but warm and loving - a big orangish yellow circle in the sky and i was reminded of this.

Well yes, i know scientifically there are millions of stars in the galaxy like the sun but to us its a visible beautiful source of energy that hovers over us , illuminating all our lives.

Social media is full of ways in which solar energy can be tapped .There was a time when the only solar panels I knew were the maroon chips at the corners of calculators.Thats about it! Now, we have roads being laid with hidden solar panels to solar panels floating on water. 

I often hear people living in hot humid places complaining about the weather . People living in cold places know the hard reality! .... the grass is not green on the other side....Not metaphorically but even literally because even grass needs sunlight to grow ha ha

Have you seen the movie "Chronicles of Narnia" . The evil white queen removes all the sunshine and greenery and leaves the land white and cold and barren ! When the curse breaks it transforms beautifully!

In fact all our lives revolve around this burning sphere as our tiny planet revolves around it. The water cycle, the rain , vegetation , crops - Every morsel of food we consume and the entire planetary life cycle depends upon it.  Have you seen the first scene of the song "the circle of life" from The Lion King ? The sun the song the singing !

At a personal level one of the things i love in life is the gentle morning sunshine. The one that gently spreads its rays  through our windows, comes around you and holds you in a warm embrace ! 

There are lots of things recommended to fill our beings with positive energy. Sun salutation is an important aspect of yoga. Traditionally the recommended direction for most activities is east west along the solar trajectory .

Stand facing the morning sun, gently close your eyes and take in as much energy and positivity as you can . You would be filled with enthusiasm and vigour and a renewed confidence!

Of course the vitamin D comes extra for free ! 

I remember reading the story of a king who was perennially sick. Then came a famous physician, gave him a long mallet and advised him to get on horseback and go about hitting a ball with it .  The king got cured and polo was born . 

Let the sun in and your days will be sunny!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Showering Music!!!

6 40 am.
Our home is busy getting ready for the day ahead. Monday morning - worst of all! ...weekend inertia for everyone! The pressure cooker breaks the morning silence with its shrill whistle as it sweats away to make our take away lunch. I go and knock on the bathroom door, and cry out in a quintessential mother-in-the-morning voice "V you are going to be late !."  That interrupts my little boy's (well little is just because i am used to that term, he is ten now) day dream and i hear the shower head going into full fledged force.

After a few seconds, an incredibly soulful " aaa ahaaa ahaa " is heard along with the sounds of the spraying water . His knowledge of rock music is limited but he loves the tamil cinema numbers that border the genre . He goes on singing loud and clear, the lyrics coming in now. His voice is good and so is his singing. It takes all of my self resistance to overcome my guilt in disturbing his morning reverie.

Well, to be honest, i love singing in the bathroom too. Its a kind of meditative state where you hide away from the world and be the performer and the audience combined into one person. Pure bliss ! Trust me, its not an intentional act. It just happens when you are totally "in the moment" . That is precisely what all self-help books ask us to get into, right ?
Image credit: Me myself and Sketch app

My theory is that bathroom singers are those that can stop a minute to admire the flowers on the way and are in no hurry to join the mad rat race we all are embroiled in. Well, may be thats taking it a bit too far but not a bad theory i suppose!

Apparently the hard tiles and confined space of the bathroom provide an acoustic environment that make us sound very good and that is one of the reasons people start singing in there.

Sometimes i have heard people say " i cant sing...i am just a bathroom singer " . Well one should not demean oneself like that . To me, bathrooms are the best place to test ones vocal abilities. A person who sings well in the bathroom loves music , sings well and can put in a lot of feeling in . Outside of that confined space, he just needs to learn how to get his voice into a similar state of symphony.

Have we not seen in the music competitions on TV - the idols, the super singers etc - judges mentioning " there was not enough feel in there . It lacked the intensity " . Well singing is at the epitome of feeling when one is engulfed in the water droplets pouring out of the shower ....

Immersing oneself up to the in neck-deep water and then singing is a traditional practice that is supposed to soften and strengthen ones vocal chords and singing abilities.

As Sanjeev Kumar rightly sang in a movie, " Tande tande paani se nahaana chaahiye...gaana aaye ya na aaye gaana chaahiye" ....translating to " you must bathe in chill cool water and whether you can or not you must sing! "

....vaazhga valamudan!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Good old rotary dial phones

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In todays world, landline phones , i mean the ones rooted to their spots are becoming a rarity.

There was a time when they were the luxury belonging of many a home especially in India.

Before the push button phones there were the rotary dial phones . I was always fascinated by them especially the whirring noise with which the dial retracted to its position . I loved telephone numbers that had the number 9 , that stretched the longest .Even the dial and ring tones were loud and distinct for these phones.

I used to watch in absolute fascination whenever my dad picked up the receiver and started dialling someones number. One thing about these phones is they were lesser prone to error when dialling someones number . You could press 8 instead of 0 or 2 instead of 3 in a push button one. That was a rarity with these beautiful pieces of engineering art.

Those were times when neighbourhood friendships developed through permissions for "your kith and kin to reach you through my telephone"

There are numerous movie songs that have been picturized around the idea of phones. The heroine would be perched on 1 and the hero would climb up a rope from 0 to reach her and they would go " la la la la la"

After some time there were only push button phones and then came the chordless ones.

If i get a chance i will definitely get a rotary dial phone. Wonder if they will still work in todays Voip set up !

Image source : wikimedia commons by Nition1

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Flash fiction - Smoke

The orange of the angry flames was hardly discernible in the trail of dark grey smoke that followed him like a cape. He had his arms flung out wide on either side of him , his claws gleaming menacingly. With a cruel snort emerging from his nostrils, the gigantic dragon furiously approached the little rabbit , as she whimpered and cowered in terror. She still tried to keep her ears absolutely straight drawing the last ounce of courage from her inner self. Suddenly ,from somewhere,a ray of light pierced his belly!He let out a roar of defeat and shattered into a million pieces! The little rabbit smiled and gently floated away.

I continued to gaze at the morning sun and the clouds. Nature paints new stories every moment in the azure umbrella that hovers over us.