Sunday, October 31, 2010

Azure Waters

[This is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to people alive or dead is purely coincidental.]

"That is not Blue", you declared, tossing your long ponytail in emphasis. "It is Azure."
"Same thing."
"Isn't that just like a man", you said. "Calling 'azure' 'blue' is like calling your 'boutique investment house' a 'bank'. You wouldn't like that would you?"
"Whether it's azure or blue, the water is just as tempting", I said diving in. We frolicked in the pool all afternoon.

Megan, my love, did you flash into my life only to teach me the shades of blue? Did your mother ever suspect I stayed with her as long as I did, only because of you?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

In October 2010, the Burrow is presenting a collection of drabbles inspired by the colours of the Spectrum. Read this Bule drabble and many, many more  exclusively at the Burrow..

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Swinging on Gates

The gates of the house I grew up in were ten feet high, or twenty. They towered over me and weighed a tonne. Only a giant could even think of scaling them, I always thought.
But despite their size, they were perfect for swinging on. For many years after that, I did not find a swingable gate.

Yesterday, I taught my kids to swing on the tiny gates in their grandfather's house. They love it, and have already spent several hours doing nothing else.

But watching them play, I wonder if my gates were really as gigantic as I remember.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

What about you? Have you swung on gates? And are they really as big as they seemed when we were kids?
And do check out Danette's fantastic post on perspective- here.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Her concentration was intense; she would not be distracted from the task literally on hand. A perfectionist; she had to get every line of the pattern just right.

Her customer had paid her in advance. She only came a few times a year; however satisfied, it was unlikely her customer would ever remember her enough to come back to her. She could have done a bad job and gotten away with it. But she gave it her all.

For her, applying henna was not just a way to earn some extra money. It was her passion.

Passion makes everything worthwhile.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

What is common to Maslow's Theory of Motivation and Writer's block? Head across to Burrowers, Books & Balderdash  to find out, and to read an awesome drabble on finding intelligent life on Mars.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


On the train the other day, I was suddenly reminded of a holiday in Goa. Normally, I would have immersed myself in the memory, but on that particular day, I chose to probe further. Where had that memory have come from? It was a day like any other, a train like any other, but something had reminded me of the lovely resort we had stayed in three years back.

Then I saw it- a silk scarf in the same shade of blue as the lagoon-shaped swimming pool of the resort.

Isn't it amazing how some colours can trigger buried memories.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

In October 2010, the Burrow is presenting a collection of drabbles inspired by the colours of the Spectrum. Read them exclusively at the Burrow..
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Listen to yourself

My first trip on the Delhi Metro. The man at the ticket counter told me which platform to go to. My instinct told me he was wrong, so I asked another. He corroborated what the first guy said. The signage was ambiguous. I asked a third and got the same reply. My sense of direction could not be that wrong. The train arrived. I should have climbed on, but I chose to obey my instincts.

A train came on the other platform. I climbed in.

Had I not listed to myself, I would have ended up in the next state.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

They do it for their husbands

Beauty treatments, new clothes, matching bangles, dressy shoes. Intricate henna patterns, exotic bindis, professionally applied make-up.
On Karva Chaut, every woman tries to looks as beautiful as a bride-  she needs something to take her mind off the growing hunger and thirst. She eats before dawn, and breaks her fast only after sighting the moon at night- the same moon which invariably plays hide and seek. It is difficult but not as difficult as not being able to drink anything till sunset.

They do it for their husbands. Do the husbands appreciate it? Most just take it as their due.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words. Another drabble on Karva Chaut here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A 'Rewind' button in your life?

This post is inspired by a question that Margot Kinberg placed on her blog - "If you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you, and what would it be?"

'Rewind' means going back in time and doing something differently from how it has been done. Tempting, isn't it, to ask for that power?
But is that all it is made out to be?  You can choose not to date the guy who later hurt you, but you can't transform yourself from the geek to the glamour doll even if you wanted to. Avoiding the heartache would have been worth it, you may think, but can you be sure you will not end up meeting someone worse?

No 'Rewind' button for me. I'd rather make choices and not look back.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pretty Stamens all in a Row

[This is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to people alive or dead is purely coincidental.]

She attracted men like a flower does bees. One flutter of her eyelashes, one hint of a smile, and she had them where she wanted them- at her feet. She had her group of ardent admirers. But that was not enough- she wanted to collect them all.

I could have killed her when she stole my man. She had so many, why did she want the only man who had ever cared for me?

Now she is dead. Someone's murdered her. I say good riddance. But, I am the detective assigned to her case. I need to find her killer.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

In October 2010, the Burrow is presenting a collection of drabbles inspired by the colours of the Spectrum. Read this Yellow drabble and many, many more  exclusively at the Burrow.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday Challenge: What is Important?

Twenty million. Two followed by seven zeros- that's how many people live in the city that I call Home. Walking is an occupation fraught with danger- the pavements that have not been claimed either by the buildings that line them, or by vendors, sport potholes that can swallow up a grown man. Pedestrians are forced to share road-space with vehicles, animals and numerous construction projects. Walking in Bombay is not for the faint at heart, and it is never something undertaken without purpose.

When Crazy Jane issued her Friday Challenge # 29, I am sure she did not intend me to risk life and limb. But I needed to clear my head, and since that is what she promised her Friday Challenge would do, I decided to risk it. I put on my sneakers, and went for a walk. To "not think of what you have to, should, might, or can't do. No doing at all. Just a walk to remind yourself of the most important thing." I had no idea what that most important thing would be, but I was sure I would discover it during the course of the walk.

I dodged traffic, I sidestepped people, I nearly stepped on the tail of a sleeping dog, but realisation of "what is  important" remained elusive. I found my way to the flower market. There were flowers of every hue and colour. Orchids and lilies. Marigolds and hibiscus. Roses and chrysanthemums. An overdose of colours and textures. Of shapes and sizes.

It was all very beautiful, but something was wrong.

Was it the blue of the orchids, which any child would tell you came not out of Nature but out of a bottle? Was it because traditional mango leaves didn't quite go with the exotic orchids? Was it because the purist in me disapproved of the strings of thermocol beads strung around the floral garlands?

I tried to remember Crazy Jane's instructions - "breathe in and out and notice the colours, the smells, the sounds and...". I was on my third deep breath when realisation dawned- there was an overdose of colours, but there there no smells and no sounds. I could not taste and I was not allowed to touch. It was only colours, and shapes and the indication of textures.

All of a sudden, I realised "What. Is. Important." It is important that you engage all the senses in whatever you do. It is not enough if you are only seeing, or tasting, or hearing, or touching- you need to do all of them.

But what is perhaps most important is that while doing it, you have to feel. Because without feeling, even the most varied sensory experience is meaningless.

See, smell, touch, hear, feel. And let each of them, overtake your life.

A couple of days back, Debra: She who Seeks passed on the Prolific Blogger Award to me. Debra describes her blog as 'Random Thoughts on Random Subjects with No Real Purpose in Mind'. She may choose to say that, but her's is one of the most organised blogs around. Ever so often she picks a theme and analyses it to the smallest detail. Right now, she is dealing with Labyrinths, and if there is something about them that you always wanted to know, stop by her blog before you look anywhere else.

This is an Award I have received before, but that doesn't mean I can't pass it on a second time. This Award goes out to all the participants of NaBloWriMo 2010. Whether you have posted every day, or not, this Award is for you for having the courage to start.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Grass is Greener, even for Goddesses

Lion or Tiger? Looks more like a Horse to me.

Same Goddess. Same Demon. Same Festival. Different Mounts.

In Bengal, Durga rides a Lion. A ferocious creature who thinks nothing of sticking his sharp claws into the demon.
In Gujarat, she is astride a Tiger. An gentle animal who has learnt to pose gracefully for photographers.

The strangest thing is that the only lions found outside a zoo are in Gujarat, and Bengal is the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger.

Wouldn't it have made more sense if Durga rode a lion in Gujarat and a tiger in Bengal?

I guess even Goddesses want what is more difficult to get.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Head across to Burrowers, Books & Balderdash if you want to hear me get Delusional about Pirates and men in Pink.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Angelic smile, and an Award

He was listing out his grievances; I had heard it all before, and was barely listening. One sentence hit the mark, "Everyone scribbles on my books."
"Who scribbles on your books?", I demanded. "You are the one who scribbles on our books."
"Not at home. In school."
"Who does?"
He named names.
"Why don't you tell Teacher?"
"I am afraid."
"Then I'll tell her."
"Yes. Do."

That triggered the Mommy-alarm. "Are you sure you don't trouble them?"
Angelic smile.
"Because if Teacher tells me you trouble them, I'll be really angry."
"Then don't tell Teacher. Nobody scribbles on my books."

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Vicki Rocho @ Rambles & Randomness passed on the "One Lovely Blog Award" to me a couple of days back. If you haven't visited Vicki yet, you are missing one lovely blog. Check out her post, Kissing up to Karma, and help her spread a bit of unexpected happiness.

Since I have already received the Award, I am not passing it onto anyone right now. But I reserve the right to do so when I have the mindspace to list some more Lovely Blogs.

Thank you Vicki, and thank you EVERYONE for reading.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Predicting the Future

Coin-operated telephones! Does anyone even remember them? You know, those ravenous contraptions which allowed you to place a call and keep talking as long as you fed them an unending diet of coins. Mobile phones have all but ensured their demise.
Not too long ago, the entire family shared a telephone line and thought it was the height of luxury to have a second line. Now you phone your hubby from the next room, because you feel too lazy to walk across and talk to him.

Can we even predict what the future would bring? Would we really want to?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Releasing Today

Science Fiction was the genre I fell in love with when I was a teen, and even today, I find it hard to resist a 'classic' science fiction book. So, when a review says that a book, “…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.”, there is no way I am not going to pick it up as soon as I can.

The book is  Alex J. Cavanaugh's "CassaStar", which is releasing world-wide today.Though officially categorised as Science fiction/adventure/space opera, something tells me the book has enough 'coming of age' undercurrents to appeal to the reader of YA also.

Don't take my word for it. Check out the trailer-

and rush to pick up your copy of the book at -
Barnes & Noble
also available as an e-book - Kindle, IBookStore, Nook and others.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vijaya Dashami- Victory of Good over Evil

Vijaya Dashami is commemorates the victory of Good over Evil; of the saintly Rama over the evil Ravana. But I was never comfortable with that interpretation of the epic battle.

Rama sprouted the moral code when it came to others, but he was not above breaking them; Ravana often conducted himself with more honour than Lord Rama. As I saw it, in that particular battle, good and evil were labels reserved for the victor and the vanquished.

But on Vijaya Dashami, I do hope for the victory of Good over Evil. Of common-sense and basic humanity over inefficiency and corruption.

I know a lot of people may want to haul me over the coals for questioning the definition of Good and Evil. I am open to a debate, but before you yell at me, please read an earlier post of mine - What is good and what is evil?
A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gotta Love a God .... who wears nail paint

[This is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to people alive or dead is purely coincidental.]

"Cool nail-paint", I gushed. Fake smile plastered on my face.
"If you insist."
"Don't be so grumpy. You have to admit it is a lovely shade of violet."
"It is not the colour I object to", growled Ganesha. "It is the indignity of being subject to wearing nail-paint in public."
"So you wouldn't mind if it were in the privacy of your bedroom?", I winked.
"Wait till I get my hands on you!"
"What are you waiting for?", I asked. "Just do it. I can see the headlines, "Ganesha Idol assaults woman in public'." 
He grinned. "Wouldn't that be something?" 
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

In October 2010, the Burrow is presenting a collection of drabbles inspired by the colours of the Spectrum. Read this Violet/Indigo drabble and many, many more  exclusively at the Burrow.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saraswati Pujai

Saraswati Pujai was the festival I always looked forward to as a child. The Goddess of Wisdom, Learning and the Arts, she was worshiped as a pile of books bedecked in bright cloth and jewels. On that one day, I always got a break from studying- Saraswati couldn't be expected to preside over my homework on her birthday, could she?

When I was a little older, I realised that giving her a break meant I couldn't read either, which left me with not too much I could do. Now I have the Internet.

Except... does she preside over blogdom too?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Bombay is a city where.....

[This post is a part of Blog Action Day 2010- Water. 
Blog Action Day is an annual event held on October 15, that unites bloggers from around the world in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussing and driving collective action. This is the third year that I have been been participating in this movement.]

Bombay is a city where.....

...the rich don't pay for running water, while the poor spend a fifth of their income buying water from tankers....

...lakes run dry every summer, even as the city gets waterlogged after the slightest rainfall....

...sewer lines often burst near water lines, and the poshest localities get 'drinking' water unfit even for washing cars...

...practically every house has a built in storage tank, but few invest in rainwater harvesting facilities...

...rainwater is allowed to drain into the sea, while pipes bring water from hundreds of miles away.

If there is a solution, it eludes me.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Water leaking from tankers transporting water to drought prone localities 

Lack of access to hygienic water takes lives- through wars fought over water, and through water-borne diseases. Make a difference- blog about it, sign a petition, and consider making a donation- even $10 can save a life.

Gathering Moss

[He would have been 76 today. But where he is, he can choose the age he wants to be. And I think he would have chosen those golden years of my childhood, and his early fatherhood.] 

Most people measure life by how far they have come. Not so my father- he was content to stay still and watch the moss grow. While other fathers were in the bar sharing a drink, he was teaching me to appreciate rocks- the whorls on piece of agate, the jagged edges of a quartz crystal and the mica powder that clung to your fingers. No mindless movement for him; he had time for those he loved. 
Some stones can never stay still, rocks cling steadfastly to what they hold dear. Solid, as a rock was my father- always gathering moss.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

In October 2010, the Burrow is presenting a collection of drabbles inspired by the colours of the Spectrum. Read this Green drabble and many, many more  exclusively at the Burrow.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Durga Puja

Shiva may be the most powerful God in the Pantheon, but he is also the most foolish. Easily moved by intense penance, he grants boons to his devotees without thinking of the consequences. Hindu mythology is full of stories of demons who charmed Shiva into granting them immortality and went onto terrorize the Universe.
When Mahishasura, who can be defeated by "no man, God or animal", unleashes his Terror, there is only one being who can save the Universe. Shiva's Consort, Parvati, may be the Mother Goddess, but as Durga, she is also the Supreme Warrior.

We worship her today.

Shiva on a Shop Sign, presiding over offerings to be made to Durga

For a longer version of the story, do read an older post of mine - Durga's Annual Homecoming- most mothers and wives would empathise with Durga.
A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Random Musings

Around midnight, last night, after I got off a telecon with two of my collegues in the US, ironed the school uniform of the older one, and hunted down the missing white sock of the younger one, I realised a Random Wednesday post was due at Burrowers, Books & Balderdash. Since we post at noon GMT, technically, I had 17 1/2 hours to dash out a post, but today promised to be yet another day which could be called rhythmic only if cacophony is a rhythm, and I did not trust myself to find time to write anything reasonably coherent.

I then thought I would get away by posting a couple of truly random photographs. But the very first one set in motion a train of really random thoughts, which I penned down in the 'compose post' window. So head across to Burrowers, Books & Balderdash to see if the post does justice to this photograph.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Garba-deep - the Representation of a Mother

An earthen pot with a flame inside. The flame that is lit on the first day of Navratri, and kept burning for Nine Days and Nine Nights. The Garba-deep which is worshiped as the symbolic representation of the Mother Goddess; which is the Mother Goddess.

The name says it all. Garba, the womb. Deep, a flame. The flame burning brightly in a womb. The Mother nourishing her child.

It is not a Goddess who is worshiped. It is the Mother who is worshiped as a Goddess.

When religion demands worship, why then are Women treated as badly as they are?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Monday, October 11, 2010

"Thank You!"

[Just a couple of days back, I was mourning about how people seem to have forgotten all about something called courtesy. But just when you start thinking that, someone else reminds you of the power of two simple words- Thank You!.]

I was walking towards him when one of his bags split and medicine bottles spilled out. He seemed unaware of it, so without breaking my stride, I told him his stuff had fallen. He bent down to pick them up, I walked on. One of his bottles had rolled ahead, son I picked it up and gave it to him.
"Thank you", he said, looking me in the eye. He held contact much longer than it took him to utter those two words.

The whole encounter took less than a minute. But the warm glow remained with me for hours.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happiness in Manolo Blahniks

[This is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to a person is purely coincidental.]

The shoes didn't even match her outfit! Agreed, I don't know much about women's fashion, but when you have a gazillion pair of shoes, why wear zebra-patterned one with a bright yellow dress? They don't look particularly comfortable either. But they are Manolo Blahniks. And that apparently excuses everything.

Manolo Blahnik. I googled it. You don't  want to know how much those uncomfortable contraptions cost. Let's just say, one can comfortably feed a family for a year.

Wonder what's got into my mother after the divorce. Wasn't she much happier when we were splashing through puddles in our all-purpose crocs?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

In October 2010, the Burrow is presenting a collection of drabbles inspired by the colours of the Spectrum. Read this Red drabble and many, many more  exclusively at the Burrow.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Is Courtesy Dead, or Extinct?

I was waiting for a cab, when a middle aged lady descended with her mother-in-law and two grown children. In the commotion of acting extremely harried, she didn't even notice that she had dropped her sunglasses. I picked the glasses up and handed them to her. "Thanks", her mumble was barely audible.Five minutes later, a cab drew up. Even before I could move, she opened the door and got in.

I wasn't in a hurry, so didn't create a scene. But, I wonder if she even realised what she had done. Would a gesture of courtesy have killed her?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Friday, October 8, 2010

Nine Days of Navratri

Nine Days of Navratri. 

Nine Days of worshiping the Mother Goddess; a different manifestation every day. Nine days of fasting; nine nights of feasting. Nine nights of frenzied dancing; of offering yourself through dance to the Divine Feminine

Nine Days of celebrating Fertility. Nine days of Worshiping the Divine in pre-pubescent girls, in teenagers in the flush of youth, in mothers young and old.

Nine days of festive wear, even in offices and court-rooms. The Nine colours of Navratri. Nine days of the city awash in different hues of the same colour.

Nine Days of Navratri. A celebration of Womanhood.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

I found out about the colours of Navratri only last year. If you would like to play along, the order of colours starting today is green, grey, pink, white, red, blue, yellow, violet, peacock green.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Womanly skills

One part of me was concentrating on my knitting pattern, while the other was talking to my husband.
He seemed mesmerized by the yarn flying over the knitting needles. "Wow, that looks really complicated", he said at last.
"It is", I replied modestly. The stitches are easy, but the pattern is rather involved. I showed him the pattern- twelve lines, few alike, each with a variety of stitches.
"I could never do that", he admitted.
"Of course. This isn't easy."
"But how do those old women knit such complicated stuff?", he asked.

Why are the traditional "womanly" skills always underestimated?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Editing Process

When I was asked to write a blog post for my organisation's blog, I put on my most cerebral cap and tried to come up with a definitive thesis on the state of primary education in India. After six abortive attempts (spread over seven days) to go beyond the first paragraph, I decided to quit attempting to be someone else, and just be myself. Half an hour later, I had a 'straight from the heart' story of an amazing girl who couldn't even write her name at 9, but who, after the timely intervention of a local charity, became the first in her family to graduate from high school. I thought my job was done after I proof read the post, corrected a few minor typos, and sent it off with a bunch of accompanying photographs.

Little did I suspect that was only the beginning. The post came back to me after a week, accompanied by a mail which said, "We love it, but.......". The list of suggested edits seemed longer than my entire post! Far from "loving" my post, they seem to have found something wrong in every paragraph.

"But this is the best part of the whole post", I often wanted to scream. "If I take it out, there would be nothing left." I am, however, a professional and I always listen to other professionals, so I soldiered on.

Editing the post took three times as much time as writing it had done. But when I re-read it after I was done, I was in for a very pleasant surprise - the new post was much better than the first draft had been. The parts I had been asked to take out would not have made sense to someone who did know know me and my writing style- the post that ultimately went up was accessible to everyone.

I have always shied away from the editing process- I now realise that even if it is as painful as a root-canal treatment, it is also as necessary.

And if you do want to read the blog post, click onto From a Construction Site to a Courtroom.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Writing about Writing- Not!

Writing about Writing always seemed an almost phony thing for me to do. Sure, I have been writing for over three decades (I wrote my first poem when I was eight- wish I had preserved it for when I was famous), but given the amount of time I actually devote to writing, and the magnitude of my output, I have as much right to write about writing as I have to write on how to run a marathon.
But, there is one microscopic sub-sub-sub-genre of writing where I am prolific. So click across to read me talk about writing Drabbles.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Procrastination, my friend

Six months back, the filling on my pre-molars fell out. I should have got the cavity filled immediately, but April was a mad month. "I need to find a good dentist", I justified. But you don't exactly find a dentist unless you look for one. My tongue found something new to explore.
Then, the pain flared up. I couldn't hear myself think. I didn't trust myself to talk. Ibuprofen didn't help. Neither did clove oil. I passed the night in excruciating pain. And found myself a dentist the next morning.
Root-canal treatment was the official prognosis.
Why do we delay?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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