Fjords, Norway – the sail (part 1)

Luck was on marido’s¬†side when we chose our wedding date, it’s just five days away from my birthday. I know that makes it fairly easy for him to get me ‘all in one’ gift, take one vacation, one weekend fine dine etc etc.. Ahh ahh, you think I’ll let him get away with that! Ha ha. Now, we celebrate the whole week instead of just two days ūüėȬ†Many months ago marido¬†came up with a brilliant idea of cruising this year. We’ve never cruised before, so we stored this special experience for our first wedding anniversary cum my birthday. I’m convinced even before I start, that, my write-up wouldn’t really justify our experience, but, let me give it a try.

It’s time to sing my cruise song, our journey to the Fjords of Norway.

You think first timers ain’t judgemental. It’s true that we don’t have a prior experience reference to compare with, however, we keep a score of ‘loved it’ and ‘hated it’ by comparing them with similar and sometimes even vaguely similar situations. For example, sitting in airport lounges waiting for the flight to board you is as painful as sitting in the airplane for hours taking you across countries. On the contrary, we went to the port 3 hours before sailing and it took a minute to give away our luggage, 15 minutes to process our documents and get our cruise cards, 5 minutes in security and in a blink we were on board. We reached our cabin in another 5 minutes that includes a walk on the gangway, a cheek to cheek smiling welcome photograph and taking the lift to seventh floor. We weren’t even thinking of our suitcases and guess what, they were already standing outside our cabin, you know, like those statues to welcome you. Food!, our stomachs grumbled. We went straight up-to the restaurant. The captain’d said, there is one man on this ship who gets maximum applauds in the beginning, but, by the end of cruise everyone hates him for giving them those extra waistlines, he’s ‘the chef’. How true! We ate such delicious meal all along.

In a few hours we settled in comfortably. The ship became our beloved home. This home held around 2000 passengers and 900 crew. Probably we were among the younger travellers of this cruise by age. Energy of the much older crowd, if not as much as ours, was delightfully higher. Trust me!. They’d dress up for the bow tie nights, dance on the floors, gamble in casinos, join the tough walk tours, win bottles of wine in quiz, sing along with karaoke. It was an inspirational sight for us. It taught us an essential lesson. Life isn’t complete until you’ve walked all your miles. It isn’t finished until the flat line beeps on your monitor. So, till then, kick in your suitcases and kick out any apprehensions. Explore and Experience.

Art and Entertainment. In the last few years, I’ve made conscious efforts in attending events and trying art. Marido¬†has happily joined along, okay I admit, forcefully for a few. Anyway, together we’ve attended musical shows, watched painting in the galleries and museums, laughed until our stomach hurt in stand-up comedies. What happened in the ship was, a pamphlet which would have a list of events that’d run the following day, would be dropped in our cabin every evening. We’d eagerly wait for it and plan our shows. We watched two stand up comedies, two dance drama and a piano concert during the cruise. A dance drama that portrayed the musical band ‘Queen’ remained our favourite. We had to walk past an art gallery when we went to watch these shows. The artists had coloured their canvas with the modern day randomness. We liked a few. The eyes were so well defined in the hairy highland cows painting. Busy day rush, modern politics and war were simply put in the hundreds of images created in the form of stencil men – it was a very interesting piece of art. The double deck red bus on a well lit street just after a rain was reflecting stories of a common man.

I can keep singing this cruise song in loop, writing its lyrics and humming its tunes. Let me grab a coffee for now.

Voice of a routine!

It’s 6am. My alarm rings, Mom has called twice and it’s time to get ready for the day’s noise.

I freshen up and gulp my milk to gear up for my day. Dad chases my cab in our honda activa like a superman and we manage to stop the cab that would have missed me otherwise. I get in to nap again while my cab crawls like a snake in the Bangalore traffic.

I reach office in a sleepy face. First things first. I splash some water with a pace and give my eyes a liner and tie up my hair.

I keep my bag and walk to the big window to watch the endless sky and the buildings in construction.

Hi! Hello! Morning! some wishes exchange with near and dear cubicle ones

I already hear some mouse clicks while I walk to the elevator which takes me down to the canteen where I stand in long queue to grab my pongal upma poha dose vade chutney and sambar. Sometimes a sandwich wins.

I look up for emails and get to my work with focus. Someone interrupts or a phone rings and grabs my attention. Sometimes I cut the conversation and many times the conversation wins.

A few hours pass by and I decide to take a break. I make some coffee and sit by the sofa in the common area. Before my mind drifts to the thoughts of my morning, the printer prints and vomits bundles of paper.

I get back to the meetings and we argue over our points of view before we can conclude or roll it over for another day. My stomach has already begun to churn the liquids and is demanding for food.

The food coupons make their way in exchange for our mid day meal. I stuff the food in and talk to my colleagues about robots, drones, movies, sport and anything under the stars.

Morning repeats post noon. However the heavy lunch leaves me with a sleep to battle. After a few hours, its time to grab my bag and run to my cab that takes me back home. Yes, you hear more vehicle sounds and a lot more snores. The balloon sellers are now selling car mats, wipes and shades.

I come home with almost no energy left for the sport I love. As I rest on the sofa with a small snack and a coffee, my mother is watching TV that’s showing all the woman villains in their drama. This runs for four hours every evening and she wouldn’t let me switch to news, sport or documentaries.

I take a brisk walk and hear the dogs bark from a road further down. Neighbour aunty stops me for a quick chat. I come home and pull out my dumb phone to browse, browse and browse more.

Its dinner time. I relish the delicious food and have a word with my dad who’s had a busy day too. The book in my hand is narrating stories and the sleep has begun to conquer me. My mother reminds about the next day’s wake up call before I retire to bed.

Another routine day is waiting to arrive. Until it does, let the silence pour in. Lights off.

 

Fundamental issues – Food!

When we pull out annual statistics of the amount of food / agriculture produce we are wasting and the number of people dying out of hunger / malnutrition, it leaves me wondering why we aren’t able to plug one another. Despite our success in production, transportation and storage technologies, how is it that they haven’t turned affordable and deployable. Government policies, innovative business models and even corporate social responsibility have not been able to fix our fundamental issue, food. To live in an ideal world situation is an unrealistic ambition, but, to shrink the existing gap is an approachable goal, isn’t it? Where does it start?

Let us begin to understand, why do we produce more? Some produce like cereals and pulses can be stored for years when the supply can minimize due to natural conditions ex drought, extreme rain, etc. Why should we produce more fruits, vegetables and meat? They perish faster and managing their waste is another problem altogether. At the same time we have depleted our resources like the rich soil and water with excess farming and poultry. How could we bring a balance in demand and supply?

Now, why doesn’t the produce reach everyone? Aren’t they affordable or do they get wasted due to transport and storage issues? Or in the name of quality and assurance ex. length of a banana, color of a fruit etc, does a lot of produce get wasted at an industrial sector? Why can’t technology help in computing existing data of excess nutritious produce and help it reach children, women and adults who are suffering from malnutrition?

While some people who could afford a nutritious meal are turning to dieting, a nutritious meal is still far from reach for the below poverty line. Why?           

Bookcase!

Our home in Bengaluru has a small burrow. This cellar has been my bedroom that I shared with my sister. Our room has hosted many things which have remained as memories tattooed in our mind. Before we were moved into this room it was used as a store room and you could imagine all the unwanted yet wanted. It’s a different story that the situation didn’t change much even after we moved.

There is an old iron trunk which I think was sent as a gift to my aunt for her wedding. The rusted piece holds bolts, nuts, screws, spanners of all sizes, a hammer, wires. I think our engineering drafters have gone in there too. My dad, he role plays a plumber, an electrician, an architect and what not. He uses his toolbox to fix any problems that comes around at home.

The summer heat in Bengaluru could crack open coconuts I believe. My mother found a place for coconuts and pumpkins in our beloved bedroom / store room. I’m sure she had hidden intentions in doing this. It placed an opportunity every morning for her to come down to pick up a coconut for cooking and she could use this reason to wake me up in her screechy voice. I remained like the pumpkin under my study table. I didn’t move an inch despite her extra efforts

At the end of our staircase was a bookcase. Just in case you’d trip down, you’d be swallowed by books. My uncle had a huge collection of books that he left behind and they were stacked up in this bookcase. He had a flair for reading up anything, so we had books from all genres. Some were what he bought and some were gifted to him by the author themselves. The shelves were keeping these books for many years.

There definitely is a beautiful feel when you hold a book, but, I’ve also adapted myself to reading from my kindle reader. It turns out that we don’t need a book case anymore. I miss our bookcase, but for books they’ve always remained. Some books I’ve read from last december to this june

We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Daring Greatly – Brene Brown

Life with no breaks – Nick Spalding

Every Day is a Holiday – George Mahood

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Black Vodka – Deborah Levy

Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy – Sadhguru

Brick Lane – Monica Ali

Reading Ashwin Sanghi’s The¬†Sialkot Saga now.

A very special mother’s day

Hmm, mother’s day was around the corner. Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp were loaded with messages as emotional as it could get. Every mom is a super mom and very special in every way. This mother’s day was special too.

Our weekend’s include a walk to the close-by super market. Rain in the past weeks have made the plants lush with green. So the walk way trees, shrubs and creepers have grown dense. We stepped out for our regular walk and turned around the pavement. I continued my chatter with marido.¬†After a few steps he pulled my hand to gesture a stop and waved me to look to my right. A few cubs of fox were playing. They look at us as we stare. We watch them for a while and move along thinking how amazingly a mother has chosen to bring her cubs under a dense shelter, probably to save them from rains. Despite their difficulties the cubs went on to play and make their mother happy in their world of joy.

London canals are habitat for many ducks and seagulls. Few¬†months ago we saw a duck safeguarding her eggs on a raft. She battled the cold nights in all her strength and a few weeks later the yellow ducklings hatched out and began quacking for food. The father would dive into the water to fetch food and he’d promptly go back to feed the babies. We were wondering how long would it take for the ducklings to get into water and fetch food for themselves. ¬†It took a few more weeks indeed. Recently we found them swimming in the waters to grab their piece of bread and it’s so amazing to have seen them being nurtured and grow.

Mothers sow their seeds of thoughts in their children and then beautifully encourage their children to discover this world.

Neeliah Nayaka

For holidays I’d travel to grand-ma’s home and that’d be our summer camp. Half of my summer camp would be in Thirthalli (dad’s native) and the other half in Udupi (mom’s native). The travel from Bangalore to our village ‘Patlamane’ was a tiring one with ten hours travel time. Our journey would start with a red coloured KSRTC bus from Bangalore to Shimoga. In the six hours journey I’d ask mom to buy me groundnuts, biscuits and chocolates. After some munch I’d stretch and sleep on mom and sister. Once we got off at Shimoga, we’d stop by at Thrupthi canteen to eat curd rice, one among the best curd rice I’ve had. The journey isn’t over yet, we still have a long way to cover, not distance wise but time wise. We’d have to take a bus from Shimoga to Thirthalli and then from Thirthalli to Ganapathikatte. Sometimes I’d feel travel sick and a few times that I’ve reached intact, I was supposed to run for 2km and send my cousins to mom and sister to help get our suitcases. There are two ways to reach home, one by the main road and another through¬†our betel-nut farm. I’d take the farm road, because it’s fast and also I was scared of a¬†pond on the main road. I’d run to grand-ma after, who would¬†get up from her bed, smile at me and ask ‘ivaga bandhya’ (did you arrive now?). I’d say yes,¬†then wait by her side and she would slowly pick a¬†plastic cover under her pillow which would have¬†my favourite orange candy. By then mom and sister would arrive and everyone gets into a melodious conversation. I’m lost in the talks and also in time now.

I’d slowly walk towards the entrance to see the vast betel-nut¬†trees. I’d then step towards the cowshed. All the cows are munching their evening grass meal and I walk-in to speak with them. The shiny black cow standing next to the entrance is ‘Saraswathi’. Standing next to her is ‘Lakshmi’ and beside is her calf drinking milk. Lakshmi always delivers a male calf, always. The orange cow at the far corner is ‘Parvathi’. She usually uses her horns to shoo away unknowns. This cowshed has sheltered many cows in the 60 odd years, the names have changed but the stories have remained the same.

I walk near the wooden gate, pedestrians can walk by in the small opening and when a motorcycle or a four wheeler comes, someone has to slide the four wooden bars which are resting on a small pillar, to make way. I see thousands of jamun fruit on the pathway, they all are smashed and have oozed out purple liquid. I see my cousin’s jeep up the road and I run towards it. I see an old man by the jeep. He’s squatting and smoking ‘beedi’ (thin cigarette). He is wearing a shirt which I guess would have been white once, now it’s full of mud. He’s got a striped shorts and has put a towel on his shoulder.¬†He’s got a curly hair and has cracked legs. I go near him and he throws his cigarette away. He smiles and I can see his broken tooth. He asks ‘Puttamma! chennagiddira?’ (little girl, are you doing good?). I smile back and¬†show my broken tooth and tell him that I’m doing good.

Neeliah¬†Nayaka, who is an essential part of my school summer holiday memories. So many jeep journeys with cousins and him, his infectious laughter, walking me up the hill to drop me at cousin’s place, his puppy face when doddamma (dad’s elder brother’s wife) would scold him for drinking and coming home, his silence, his tree climbing techniques and the wild fruits he’d bring me.

Joyful days, Joyful memories and Joyful Neeliah¬†ūüôā

Why do I do What I do?

Isn’t the first time I’m asking this question to myself.

I have some strange and some not so strange behaviors. Without a single miss everyday I talk about pets I’ve had. You know, like a pet obsession. They have been my best friends. They’ve petted me equally in our growing together years. Now, I have to talk about my next best friend, book. Books and authors have been my friends, my mentors¬†and also sometimes my opponents. When I’m reading a book I immerse and I absorb the characters like a sponge. I can walk and talk like them until another book and a new set of characters play my psyche. Thankfully I’m not a big fan of sci-fi. Grabbing books have been super easy these days. I’ve turned into a thorough kindle girl, so easy and so handy. The idea of shopping turns me off these days. Also I’ve noticed, I’m very uncomfortable shopping while someone’s with me all along, strangely, I could purchase a wardrobe full in an hour when I’m all by myself. Some husbands would love to have such a wife, while, marido’s¬†different, he wants to walk along the stores with me. Well, you see, unlike attracts. That reminds, I get attracted to problems like a magnet. I hardly can air difficulties or grievances. But, problem solving gives me a thrill and a purpose. These days, I’ve found myself a new hobby. It is to¬†sit by for days watching a tree by my window. It’s coloured its leaves, shed them all, been standing strong in the cold winter, growing back into tiny green edges and now its all of green to sway happily in the wind.

I think.. only think.. I have deep sense for details and I could let go of it all in a click.

We drove by the giant mountains around California. Some were neon white covered with snow and some were standing bare with tinges of green grass and yellow wild flowers. We are so tiny in the vastness of this nature and yet we create so much complications around Рpolitics, industrialisation, relationships, world trades and what not. They remained my vacation thoughts. In the US visit I realised we watch more of Trump bizarre than they do. As my routine commenced I got hooked to the French election story and its result with the victory of the youngest, Macaron. Then I went on an unf$*k your habitat mode and did some dumping and house clean up. It felt like a therapy, except that once a while marido was in a playful mood to create ripples in an otherwise meditative ambience.

I think.. and think.. I have a butterfly mind which wanders in its thoughts and makes me do what I do.

A lot of stories I’ve picked to read have been a re-read of history. Some discussions I have are¬†on how to make the best of everyday. I often take opportunities to¬†make strategies on business for future. Past, present and future take their chances in circles.

I think.. and also think.. adequate curiosity is the essence¬†to add flavours to my life. It’s hard to make sense of it in bits, but I’m beginning to look for my patterns. Questioning with why, how and what are acting as my tools.