The ’30 under 30′ list!

At one point or the other, do we not all want to be in some kind of list? List of students who move on to the next class in school. List of students who got into the prestigious college. List of people who can buy land in Mars. List of people who survived an accident. List of people who would make it through one more day. Endless lists of endless things. Endless feats. 30 under 30, 40 under 40, 50 under 50… but why? Lists give you a sense of accomplishment. Ticking every item, striking off each accomplishment – a list is a definitive way of measuring success at a personal level. Impersonal lists may or may not be definitive, but they still are a means to see how far you have reached.

Sometimes I wonder how cool would it be to be actually featured in some ’20 under 20′ or ’30 under 30′ list. It would feel super amazing I suppose. 20 under 20 is gone and 30 under 30 is also slowly slipping away. Never mind though. 40s and 50s are right there intact. Okay, now it sounds very weird. It’s almost like I believe there has been any such actual accomplishment in life. To clear things up, that wasn’t quite the intention of this intro. I am only trying to put my thoughts about lists and their relevance in our lives.

You and I – we all have lists. From grocery to daily to-dos – the list of lists is endless. Do you often wonder how these lists take control of our lives? Marking things on it and striking them off are so satisfying, aren’t they? The feeling of accomplishment of something. And it is all that we all live for. Some mental lists, some paper lists, some unwritten lists – reminders on the things to chase for. It is fascinating how aimless one feels without a list of action items. What happens to free will and thinking on the feet? Oh well, they do exist. But almost always enveloped by a big picture of some bucket list or to- do.

There were times in life when I had more than 3 to-do planners. With groups and folders and RAG status and what not. I still have some of those kind. But all of them are for work. I’m too scared to keep one for myself these days. It just feels like a blaring proclamation of my failure to strike things off them. Or some such weird thought. And lost in that fear and uncertainty, I guess I’m just missing out on some really fulfilling moment of life. Exactly like so many other moments in life.

P. S. This is a writing I’ve been working on for some months now. With many interruptions and excuses, I managed to delay this forever to be published. Ironically, this one strikes one thing off my ‘not-written- down’ list – write away with an endless expanse of ocean outside the window! Last word written exactly in time before my last day with this view – oddly satisfying!

The Tamarind Shade

‘This is the last batch from here’, said father, tossing in the final jackfruit into the trunk. Inching to probe why, I retracted my words as an afterthought. It’d only pave way to another round of blaming. How much I don’t care about the construction, how I’m not paying attention to its details and on and on it’d go. Why else would I not remember that the jackfruit tree is going down to make room for the Vaastu appropriate kitchen! Sigh!

Decades later, that scene still stays fresh in memory. The chopping down of the tree, starting of the construction – I wasn’t there for any of it. It was only way after the completion of the house did I even come back home. But for some unknown reason, that random conversation and a vague memory of the ‘plot’ linger.

Sitting down in this tamarind’s shade, I feel connected to this strange land and place. Like it was never so strange or unbeknownst. Life has always been full of gratitude for me. Many things to be grateful for and many people to thank. Appumash tops my list of people to be grateful to. Ironic enough, I’d perhaps never thank him for I’ve never really known or met him. A wandering soul in an ottamundu ( ‘a slightly dignified version of a loincloth) that I spot once in a while in the neighborhood. That’s all I knew of the man. But as I learnt that he is the one throwing tantrums and standing against the slaying of my tamarind shade, there grew a new sense of kinship with the nameless soul. And I learnt he has a name – Appumash – as a memory to be grateful for, forever.

After all, it is just a tamarind tree, isn’t it? What’s there to be grateful for a tree? One could say nature’s balance, sustainability and global warming or whatsoever. But it’d be far from the truth. I do not possess such great visions for the future of the world or concern for our existence. Neither would Appu mash have them, I presume.

A companion in my solitary afternoons. The majestic branches arching over the house as a shade. And the fond memory of mother cribbing about the fallen
leaves that ruin the yard. And father dividing and distributing ripe tamarinds to everyone who pass by. That is what the tamarind holds for me. An image of my past, a shoulder in the present and a hope for the future.

But is it also the darkness that takes away our share of the sun and the moon? Does it not appear as haunting hands through the windows? One could view it, in all its vicious and dark shades. But to my eyes, it is a magnanimous tree in the brightest phase of my life, being my shade and shelter.

After every withering autumn, I wonder if it’d ever turn green again. With its luscious green, isn’t it protecting my soul more than what I could ever do to save its existence? Somewhere then, a tree becomes more than just the shade as it embraces you and holds you tight to its roots.

To New Beginnings!

These days have been about masks and PPEs. All in an attempt to protect ourselves from an unknown (do we know it yet, really?) enemy. The way I see it, what came in handy with these masks is the fall of facades. There’s no compulsion to smile broadly, or acknowledge an acquaintance. Not even an attempt to hide a frown. The mask does it all for you. The ease of covering up all that you feel or forced to express. Does sound like a blessing in disguise, doesn’t it?


The above is a write-up from a while ago when Covid-19 was still ‘news’. Somehow, I was convinced to find a silver-lining even in those dark times (maybe not entirely silver – let’s settle with bronze!). Over the past few months, however, the wave of optimism died a slow painful death. Work was growing beyond acceptable limits, friends grew further away with almost no see and less talk – life was stalling in short. When all else fails, you turn to family. But for me, that also failed when they threw my fancy dinner suggestion out of the window. So yeah, New Year’s Eve is a complete flop. Rather, it almost was. And suddenly, it rained! And in that instant, everything changed for me. The drizzle, the fragrance of the earth and the gentle breeze! New year is always new hope, no matter how clichéd it may sound. Happy New Year! To new beginnings!

The transience of time,
The newness of each moment,
The lingering hope of each dream,
And a will to chase them all.
That’s what I wish for the year,
For you, for me, forever.

The month-long race!

I ran a month-long race and won against myself. I took up a challenge and wrote for 30 continuous days – scribbled would be a better word. Every productive activity must have some takeaway. So what are my key takeaways from 30 days of blogging?

  1. Don’t repeat this stupidity. The challenge eventually makes blogging a chore more than the passion to write.
  2. That being said, find some other excuse to write. Perhaps, start some series similar to the travel diaries or book reviews done in the past.
  3. Every random thought in life deserves a spot. Today’s stupidity might become tomorrow’s wisdom. Write away without reservations. You’re the most important reader.
  4. There were random comments and likes (apart from the ‘spammers’) on the blog from within the WordPress community. What I realised on visiting their sites: Good content is all around you. You just need the eyes for them.
  5. I don’t really have a 5th takeaway. But 5 is a round figure! Give in to your random pleasures like compulsive writing. It pays off in the long run.

All that said, will I come back to blog again tomorrow? I highly doubt it. But I’d frequent the space more often than before. Until then!

The Wait

Until I come, you said.

Until I die, I said.

The wait was a promise,

For you, for me, for us.

Time wouldn’t wait, nor

Would the world around.

As everyone and everything,

Embrace change and transience,

The sea of change stood still,

Waiting at the shore, for

You and me, for us.

Until I come, you said,

Until I die, I said,

Until you be, the sea said.

A conversation

Person:
Why can’t all people be equally happy or equally sad?

Why are some more happy and some more sad?

Another person:
I guess that’s an eternal question that doesn’t have a solution.

It’s also similar to asking why are some people rich and some poor.

Disparity is rooted in humanity.

In material and immaterial attributes.

Wealth, happiness and what not!

Person:
Beauty is in disparity is such a cringing statement that I can’t stop uttering.

Another person:
Isnt it not?

What drives us to live?

Desire?

Where does desire come from?

Disparity.

If all of us live unhappily, or equally happily, what do we look upto? What makes us live for the next day?

Person:
Yeah, that’s what I meant. But we can say that philosophically because we are on the other side of the equal.

Another person:
Yes.

Person:
It’s simple. When problem hits us, it stops being beautiful in disparity.

Another person:
Disparity is not really beautiful or ugly.

It is merely something that exists. And could be a root cause of all human existence.

Exactly like ego.

Without ego, there is no humanity.

These are some abstract constructs that keeps us alive.

Desire is driven by despair. Despair is driven by ego. God knows what ego is driven by. Our human nature?

Person:
😊

Person:
Some equals are more equal than some other.

The Music in Life

Classical music is something very close to my heart. Neither am I a singer nor can I even actually enjoy it. But it is a very nostalgic thing to me. It reminds me of the ‘horrific’ music classes I was forced to attend, the ‘rich’ family where most relatives have got something to do with music and all those dreadful Navaratri days when I was forced to sing at random homes. Most of my painful associations with music came to a stop ever since I passed on the baton to my sister. The only difference perhaps is that she actually sings. There was a time in life where I was very choosy about the genres of music. Over time, I’ve begun to realize music is all that matters, no matter the genre. I now listen to very random tunes and enjoy the presence of music in life. I’m no longer searching for the music of my life, but merely bobbing my head and tapping my toes to every tune that flows by. Life is so beautiful when you discover the music in it. Wavy and fluid.

Alone with You

The breezy walkway that leads up to you,

The fine grains of sand that crumble under my feet,

The stone-laid pavement that’s still warm from the afternoon Sun,

And the shimmering light that beckons me to your door.

Those are my memories of a past with you,

The days of love and the days of despair,

The days when I rush to you for a word of solace,

When all you’d do is the incessant smile,

Without a blink, without a thought, without a word.

I look around for the cues you leave,

The silent chat and the momentary pause,

And in a quick swirl, I turn around,

Walk away like I wouldn’t return,

But between you and me, I never leave.

When the crowd is gone and the sky is dark,

It’s just you and me, over and again.

From the darkest of the night,

To the brightest of the Sun,

It’s just you and me, over and again.

No News

Around a century before, on an April 18th, there was no news to publish and the media just played music. That’s what Uber Facts told me. Not sure if that’s true, but I wish it were. What a blissful day na! Like today, so blank, so routine, so normal. Just another day filled with no thoughts but plain moribund existence. So yes, it is a no blog day.

*Slow Doordarshan music playing in the background *

Payanangal mudivathillai!

Every time, I go travelling with my parents, the one thing that stays is the decision that *that* would be the last trip. But every next time, I am still travelling with them, with the same thought over and over. Payanangal mudivathillai. The journey never ends. But somehow this time, I am looking forward to more of these trips. I almost realise that I have always loved them anyway. Or may be, over the years, they just got better and better.

The one reason I probably love it may be is that, we always travel to Tamil Nadu. North or south or central. It will always be some part of the state. And I so much love this land, the people, the culture, the language, the temples, the all-night awake streets. I so much love being here. And every trip gives me strange experiences. The old lady who invites me to the seat next to hers, worrying if I hadn’t notice the vacant seat. The intimate addressing from total strangers, building innocent associations, genuine despite their transience. The down to earth aura that comes so innate with locale. The senthamizh that flows so fluently. The mallikai vaasam, from the jasmine clad women. The busy street and the crowd like nomads, stranded and lost, or often mesmerised and stunned by the glow of consumerism. The shopkeepers call out, coaxing you into buying stuff and endorsing even undergarments! The street vendors yield to bargain to any unimaginable level, and offer ‘special’ interest and discount to ‘all’ their ‘special’ customers, if you care enough to talk and build a rapport, of some identifiable measure. Nobody keeps trade secrets here! I was surprised how that old man explained the exact mix of his beyond perfect filter coffee! Was he so sure I’d never replicate it or did he just not care! There’s more to a coffee than just buying and sipping thru. There’s relishing a coffee and personally appreciating the taste to the old man who made it for you. “Coffee pramadham!”.

And today’s pivotal joint in our itinerary was Nellaiyappar Temple, Tirunelveli. The temple, in one word, is a maze. I am so surprised by the sheer awesomeness in the architecture. Not just for the sculptures, or the Saptaswara pillars,(where you here the seven swaras of Carnatic music, by the clang of each stone pillar, that vibrates like they were strings of a veena). Its a maze that they have built up there. The numerous doors at every passage, that leads to another set of numerous doors to numerous deities and sculptures. You don’t get lost there coz the most inviting paths are the most trodden direct paths, circling the temple in the shortest route. But if you choose to enter every next door you see, you’re probably to end up in some dark enclosed space with vermillion spread forms of Gods, with unknown names. I should probably upload a pic or two of the temple, to elaborate the greatness of the expanse. Looking forward to a similar mind blowing episode tomorrow, at Tiruchendur Murugan sannidhi!