Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You are YOU!

[People often tell me they are not sure when a drabble is true and when it is fiction. This conversation flowed  exactly as I narrated- I have only edited the repetitions to keep it to a hundred words.
No points for guessing which of the two I am.]

"I wish I could run like you."
"What are you waiting for, just start."
"I can't."
"Of course you can. If you really want to, I'll have you running in a month."
"I can't."
"Is it that you can't, or that you don't want to?"
"Same thing."
"Not really. Maybe you don't make and effort to run, because you don't really want to."
"That is true. I am worried about hurting my knee."
"But in that case, why even think of running?"
"Because I want to be able to run like you."
"Why would you want to? You are you."

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Future

A new person was manning the store. He looked familiar, and I finally placed him. When I'd moved here, he'd been the young boy who home delivered groceries.
"Haven't seen you for awhile", I said.
"Two years", he told me. "I've gone back to the village. I'm working there. And also studying. I'm just helping out here for a month."

I placed my order. He rattled off the other things used to buy.
"How do you still remember?", I asked.
"How could I forget?", he replied.

If the future of the nation is in his hands, the future is safe

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why not Try?

[This is a work of fiction, but based on a superstition I encountered when I visited a village recently.]

I am an educated woman, even if I choose to live in a village seeped in superstition. I know all about immunizations and building immunity. I know that when my son falls ill, it is because of bacteria or viruses, not because someone's cast the evil eye on his. I trust modern medicine.

But my son seems to ill all the time. Even if antibiotics cure my son, his immunity is so poor, he soon falls sick again.

If hanging a used shoe outside the entrance to my hut is going to keep away the evil spirits, why not try?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

You are what you decide to be

"Are you a long-distance runner too?", the friend of a running partner asked me. We had just met, and she wanted to slot me.

"Yes", was the answer I should have given her. I have run enough races to qualify as a long-distance runner.
But I do not have the dedication to long-distance running that others do, and cannot in really prefix "long-distance" before runner.
I decided to be vague. "Actually, you are a long-distance runner the day you decide to call yourself one", I said.

Isn't that true for much else too? You are what you decide to be.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, November 26, 2010

We cannot Forget

Two years back, the hubby came home from a tour. "A bomb went off near the airport", he said. "Let's turn on the TV and see what it was about."

We turned on the TV. There were images of terrorist attacks. But not where he thought it should have been. When hundreds are dead, nobody reports on a bomb that killed only two.

The Terror Attacks shook up the city, the nation. The news channels spoke of nothing else for days, then they stopped. Life soon went back to normal, it had to.

But, we still Remember. We cannot Forget.

A photograph taken three days later, which sums up
 the attacks- life as normal, but nothing can
ever be the same again

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thank you, for making me a Mother

You are no longer a little boy. At seven you are already going through an angst I didn't know even in my teens. I know the world confuses you. I know you are often not sure of your place in the grand scheme of things. I know you seek answers to questions that I wish I could shield you from. I know you have already faced betrayal and been the focus of jealousy.

I know close you came to rebelling. And I am proud of you for remaining true to who you are.

I love you, Young Man.

Happy Birthday!

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Weekly Spotlight: Patricia Stoltey

When Wednesday rolls around, I get to say thanks all over again for being able to meet such wonderful people in blogverse.

Today, I get to turn the Spotlight on-

Patricia Stoltey was one of the first friends I made in bloggiverse. She was big, I was puny, and I was thrilled when she gave me my first blog award. But that's the kind of person Patricia is- however busy she may be, she always has time for everyone.

When she is not promoting other writers, or teaching us how to do cool stuff with our blogs, Patricia is over at Blood Red Pencil sharing writing tips with everyone. And she finds time to take and post some of the most amazing photographs ever.

What are you waiting for? Visit.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can we ever know?

There was a time when I thought anyone who took part in a marathon was a breed apart. It wasn't even on my bucket list, because it was something I could not even think of doing, ever. I was right in a way- nobody I knew had ever run a marathon, so why would I think it was doable?

Then I started running, and found that I could. Not well, or fast, but for long periods. Three years after I registered for my first half-marathon, my love affair continues.

Can we ever know what we can do unless we try?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

And if you want to know what a marathoner looks like, do check out this inteactive feature of 99 faces of the NY Marathon- Faces at the Finish

Aren't they just like you and me? Aren't they you and me?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Is it me that has changed?

I dropped in at my old office today. Almost all my former colleagues were still around. There were not as many new faces as I may have expected. A couple of new cubicles had been constructed, but 'my' coffee mug was still around.

I should have felt at home. But I didn't.

The whole place seemed to have changed beyond recognition. Everyone was so cynical, and patronising. Nobody seemed passionate about what they were doing. The Energy I so loved about the place was missing.

Can so much change in just three months? Or was it me that has changed?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Kolam outside the front door

[This is a work of fiction.]

She takes a pinch of rice powder and allows it to trickle through her fingers. Her expert hands trace out the curving lines of the pattern that is etched in her mind. The kolam takes shape on the floor.For years, she has gotten up at the crack of dawn and drawn a kolam outside her front door. The complicated creations she displayed as a new bride gave way to simpler ones when her responsibilities increased.
How much longer will she be able to continue? Will people know she has gone when there is no kolam on her front door.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Time to BE

I am always so busy being ME.
A mother obsessed with getting the parenting thing right.
A professional focussed on tasks and impact.
I am constantly striving, thinking.
Of miles run, and the time taken.
Of books read, and stories unwritten.
My life is frenetic, and would not want it any other way.

Lost on that lonely trail. With nobody in sight, and no idea where I was. I could forget myself. The birds were chirping, the sun was rising, the trail wound on. I could be one with nature. And I was.

Sometimes, it is good to just BE.
A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

A Wonderful Dream

"A Wonderful Dream" was the essay topic, and my second grader wrote a rather scary story about a witch who forced him to eat four flavours of ice cream- chocolate, strawberry, butterscotch and mango. He didn't quite want to eat the ice cream, but did, because she threatened to turn him into an ice cream cone if he didn't.
It was a fantastic story, but not quite what was required. "Is that a Wonderful Dream, or a Scary one?", I asked.
He thought about it, then wrote an essay about a day spent in the park.

Did I kill creativity?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Workaholic

"You are quite a workaholic aren't you", my colleague asked. "No way", I reacted immediately. "There was a time when I was, but no longer. I work hard to achieve a work-life balance, and I think I am succeeding." Her smile told me she was not convinced.

But then I thought about it. I do spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about work. My work creeps into my personal blog, and into my interactions with other people. That's not work-life balance, is it?

I thought some more. I love what I do- so what if I am a workaholic?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Weekly Spotlight- Jane Kennedy Sutton

After Margot Kingberg, and Jan Morrison, it is time to turn the Spotlight on-

Jane Kennedy Sutton may not be the most prolific blogger around, but every post of her's makes stays with you for days, even weeks. She writes mostly on books and writing, and though she almost always has a strong opinion on things, she presents the other side of the argument with as much passion. Which makes her blog a perfect delight to read.
She's currently on a blogation, which perhaps makes this the wrong time to turn the spotlight on her, but if you just scroll, you will find enough at Jane's Ride to keep you satiated till next Monday.
A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Empower a Girl

At nine, a boy plays cricket with his friends. At nine, a girl is responsible for her looking after her younger brother.
At nineteen, a boy spends his first salary on the best mobile phone he can afford. At nineteen, a girl is saving up to buy her first cooking stove.
At twenty-nine, a boy is seeking to escape from his family responsibilities. At twenty-nine, a girl is fighting to ensure her children go to school.

However you may try to deny it, boys and girls are different. And to empower a girl is the only way to enable change.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Do also check out my Topical Tuesday post on the same topic at Burrowers, Books & Balderdash.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

The Simple Life

The Simple Life they call it. Where you breathe fresh air, and drink pure water. Where you grind your own spices, and drink milk from your own lifestock. Where the vegetables are fresh, and grown without fertilizers. Where you don't own a TV, nor are connected to the Internet. Where the wind whispers secrets into your ear and you talk to nature. When you think deep thoughts, and write great books.

The Simple Life is one you aspire to; hope to attain 'someday'. But what if that is the only life you ever had? The only life you can afford?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Children's Day

[Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India was born on November 14, 1889. His birthday continues to be celebrated in India as Children's Day.
But for the majority of the nearly 300 million children in India, the day is practically devoid of meaning.]

She is nine. The lamb is her pet, her friend. She plays with it, cuddles it, and sometimes even goes off to sleep hugging it.

Her elder sister looks after the goats. She feeds them, milks them, cleans their shed and ensures the lambs get enough milk.

The sister is getting married in spring. She will then inherit the responsibility of looking after the goats.

The lamb will cease to be her friend. It will become her livelihood; the creature that stands between her family and poverty.

She is just a child. But her childhood will soon be snatched away.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Her life....

Her life has been spent in a village which was never on the map of progress. She's never known electricity, has always walked five kilometers to fetch water. The nearest school is a couple of miles away.
She'a borne six kids of which four survive. The two oldest daughters are married; the older is expecting her first child.
She's had a hard life. She's seen so much. She is tired. She seems so old.
She is a year younger than I am.

Till I met her, I never quite realised how lucky I am that I was allowed to bloom.
A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Friday, November 12, 2010

But the answer is....

Son's Social-studies Assessment Sheet-
"Name a fruit which has one seed."

The teacher had marked it as incorrect, and I agreed with her. Wasn't 'mango' one of my son's favourite fruits? Why couldn't he write that instead of 'cary', whatever it may be.

But what was 'cary'? I tried the word is several ways, and got it on the third attempt- 'Cherry'. A cherry does have one seed. He has spelt it wrong, but deserved some marks for trying.

I suggested that to the teacher. "But the answer is mango", she told me.

There wasn't much left to say.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

That place where I am going to be

Fifteen years back, dial-up connections were rare. Today, we have plug and play internet cards.
Ten years back, usage of mobile phones was restricted to those who could pay a fortune to use them. Today, every second person and their mother and daughter has one.

And yet, there are places where there are mobile phones, but no electricity to charge them. A place where nobody can use a computer because there is no electricity to run them on.

That place is Rural India, and that's where I am going to be for two days.

How will I survive, I wonder.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Weekly Spotlight- Jan Morrison

Last week, I had trained the spotlight on Margot Kinberg's Confessions of a Mystery Novelist. This week, it is the turn of another dear friend and her marvelous blog to take their place in the spotlight.

She introduced me to the word "Miksang"; uncovering the truth of pure perception. That magical moment when we see something totally uncluttered with perception- adding nothing, leaving nothing out.

Miksang may be used in the concept of photography, but to me, that word best describes Jan Morrison's blog, Crazy Jane. She is the wise teacher who guides you in discovering yourself as a writer and as a human being.

Whether is is compelling posts on Paramitas, or Friday Challenges that make you stretch yourself, or picture postcard-like photographs from British Columbia, Crazy Jane has it all.

Could anyone want more?

Jan is 4 followers short of a hundred. Would you help her take the number to triple digits?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jugad- Innovation at its best

It is not a baby she has in the pram,
but her shopping. Innovation!

The power went out, plunging the elevator into darkness. I'm not scared of of ghosts and goules, but the prospect of being trapped in a dark elevator with perfect strangers for an indefinite period was slightly disconcerting. I fumbled for my mobile-phone- the screen would provide a bit of light. But before I could fish it out, the person next to me switched on his flashlight, and the one next to him, and the one next to her..... Everyone had a flashlight, except me.

I looked closer. The flashlights were built into the mobile-phones!

Jugad*!!! Indian Innovation at its best!

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

* Jugad- Hindi word implying 'we will somehow find a way'.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Difference between Right and Real

"Isn't Will Solveit a good guy?", asked my son. "Then why does he chat with his friend while his teacher is teaching?"
I had no answer. You really should not be chatting in class. It is not to say I never did- I've passed notes on chits of paper for as long as I can remember. And had the technology existed, I am sure I would have IM-ed too. But it is 'wrong'. No matter how boring the class, you should concentrate. And children's books should not condone disruptive behaviour.

How do you draw the line between 'right' and real?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

I am also blogging at Burrowers, Books & Balderdash on how Reading helps you to determine what is Right and Wrong.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Memories: Sound

The frenzied beat of the dakis took me back to another time and another place. To my childhood in Bengal, where the beats would waft into my room and wake me up at the crack of dawn. I rarely complained because the beats reminded me that the Durga Pujas had come- the best time of the year to be in Bengal. Durga Puja! The smells, the sights, but more than anything else the beat of the dakis.

Many years later, in an alien city, I heard the same beats. They brought me back to a home I had almost forgotten.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

To Ensure Financial Success

'Shree Om' is always the entry made on the first page before starting new books of account. It is also the notation made at the top of every new page.

Shree. Or Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity.
Om. Or Ganesh, the Lord of Auspicious Beginnings.

Invoking them before starting an enterprise is the best way to ensure its financial success. Requesting them to bless your books of account is something only a fool would neglect to do.

In Northern India, 'Lakshmi-Ganesh' are worshiped on Diwali. It is any wonder that the Hindu Financial Year starts the day after?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Memories are made of these

My first Diwali away from home. Most of my classmates had gone back home, the few of us left behind tried desperately to capture the atmosphere of the festival on campus. A massive rangoli made with coloured powder at the centre of the open-air plaza. A thousand earthen lamps lining three stories of balconies enclosing the plaza- each a flickering point of light dispelling the gloom. It seemed like Louis Kahn had designed the campus with us in mind.

It was Diwali as I have never known it. And the start of my love affair with rangolis and earthen lamps.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Happy Diwali, Everyone!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

When I was old enough to know, I decided  I wanted to be a scientist. Not a scientist who cures people or makes the world a better place but a scientist who discovers esoteric stuff. Things never quite worked out that way. No regrets, but sometimes it is fun to think of how it may have been.

I spent yesterday in an integrated school that we help fund. There were smiling faces all around me, and I was glad I am doing exactly what I am doing.

We take different paths, but if we seek it, we all find happiness.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Weekly Spotlight- Margot Kinberg

Last Thursday, I was in Rural India, in place where mobile connectivity was sporadic and internet virtually non-existent. The place was much less than a hundred miles away, but the approach roads were so bad, the journey took over four hours each way. By the time I returned, I was too exhausted to even think of getting on the internet.
The next day, I found that the post I had scheduled for the previous day had far more new commentators than any post normally got. The mystery was solved soon enough Pk Hrezo had chosen to shine the spotlight on  me and my blog, and the new commentators were all followers of her's. Though I have been tardy in visiting the blogs of all the people who commented (I will get there by the end of this week, or month, or year, I promise), a few have already become 'friends'.

A lot of blogs feature a "Blog of the Week" regularly, but till I saw the response to that one post of Hrezo's, I never realised how powerful the concept could be. It is a great way to introduce your favourite blogs to your followers- who knows what could come of the interaction. And since I am a great believer in cross-pollination, I had to adopt it.

I first thought of it as a sporadic feature, but even without much thought I could think of at least three stellar blogs which do not have a quarter as many followers as they should have, so I am going to do it once a week for as long as I have worthy candidates to feature as the blog of the week.

So without further ado, I introduce the Blog of the Week : Confessions of a Mystery Novelist

Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, Margot Kinberg calls her blog. What you get everyday is a thesis on a different aspect of life as interpreted by mystery novelists.

A recent post, for instance, was about characters who come alive in a story even though they are actually dead. Six fantastic examples, where you would not have thought even one existed. If the wisdom she packs into every post, even when she is supposedly discussing something else, is not attraction enough, Margot unfailingly responds to every single comment.

Whether you love mystery novels or not, you have to visit Margot's blog.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

There is coffee, and there is Coffee

"Everytime I go home, I bring back enough robusta to last me till my next trip", said a diplomat's wife.
"Have you tried the local filter coffee", asked another diplomat's wife.
"You mean you get coffee in India?", asked the first.
"Of course you do. It is not quite expresso, but it is quite good."
She looked doubtful, but the other one persisted. "You really should try it. You may like it."
"I'm not too adventurous", the first confessed.

I was amazed? Is there much point in living in a different country, if you carry your own world with you?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Image credit - Ambarish

Monday, November 1, 2010

Youth- the Future of India?

When a friend from America visited me, one of the first things she said was, "I can never get over how young India is. I have seen barely a handful of older people all week."

Her statement seemed strange because, of course, there are older people in India too. But the numbers prove her right- almost a third of the billion people in India are between 10 and 24 years old. And because it is primarily the youth who migrate to cities to escape rural poverty, almost half of urban India falls in that age range.

Imagine the latent productivity.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Once a month, I contribute to my organisation's blog- do check out my latest post on Youth in urban-India.


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