For the sunshine in their faces

I never knew that a “Duo Antakshari session” could create such a great impact on my mother.Defined as “silly and immature game”; it was yet another whimsical idea of mine to kill time on a Sunday evening. The whole plot staged almost a week ago when i asked my mom “shall we play?”. It was raining heavily outside, accompanied with loud thunders and as always, this time too she had advised me not to use either the T.V, computer or Cell phone (well, as is customary at home during thunder and lightning). But did I expect a “yes” to my naive invitation to play? Or did I expect an answer at all? I doubt.It was a question. And just that. The extreme dullness in the surrounding air had prompted me to go for such a crazy question. But to whom???  My mother? Having put forth such a weird question, i felt a bit sympathetic to myself. It isn’t the age to play-at least with your mom.

 “So here we go! I’ll start the game”- did I hear it wrong? No! I could see mom sitting in the opposite couch, facing me, all set to play. As always, this time too, she has surprised me – not just with a “yes” to my invitation, but with an additional stimulus to initiate the game. It must be her interest in the game, or the fond memories of her prime days, she was happy and excited! Fifty years had not made any significant differences in her. Neither another fifty could. Was it not the same energy and enthusiasm of a rebellious teenager, there was an extra ingredient that evidently made her a step ahead of me all through the game.

She did win the game. A well deserved victory for a true game lover. But beyond the spirit of game, beyond the urge to win, the happiness in her eyes made me realize that I was never less than a real winner. It was the same glimmer that used to decorate papa’s eyes while seeing me at the arrival lounge of railway station. Such innocent glimmers are hard to find. Once found, they stay imprinted in our minds forever.

 I realize that time has flown quickly past me- making me grow beyond the safe boundaries of home. As life evolved into newer dimensions each day, I met heights, passion, obsession and materialism at various crossroads. Life did move on. Life did move away – from home, parents and those simplest of moments that brought sunshine to their faces.

We are a generation with chains all around – chains of dreams to become big. Whether knowingly or not, it drags us away from the little shell called home; the mindless laughter and petty quarrels that define it; the joy , warmth and shelter that it can offer; the priceless value of relations.

Perhaps, it’s time for us to opt for a journey down the hill – to realize that our stories and accomplishments rest upon those of our mothers and fathers- cemented strong upon the water of their lives. May be, years later, we would understand that those little streaks of sunshine we brought on their faces were the biggest of accomplishments that we have ever made in our lives.


Reader Appreciation Award!! The Resonner way!!


Dumbstruck I was initially! here I’m with my first blogging award!.. though I still doubt whether I truly deserve this one..

A million thanks to Pamela for the nomination.. I must say, her Resonner’s blog had always been a personal favorite of mine.

The Nomination had directed me to follow a few steps as specified here:

Identify and show appreciation of the blogger who awarded you.Add the award logo to your blog.
Tell your readers 7 things about yourself.
Nominate 5-10 of your favorite bloggers for this award.
Inform your nominees that you nominated them.

So,here I’ m adhering to the rules as specified.

Here goes my Answers to those 7 Questions:

1. From where came most visits to my blog so far today?


2. From where came most visits to my blog this month?


3. Which blog posts attracted most visits so far today?


4. Which blog posts attracted most visits this month?


5. Which blog posts attracted most comments recently?


6. What are the Comments statistics of my blog?


7. Which referrers referred most to my blog this week?


And now, time for me to pay it forward!!!

Here is my list of personal favorites:

The ink dipped stories-untold

Platform 9-3/4

Cruising at the speed of eight


What an Amazing world

Words are few when the heart is full!! So, here I’m..Smiling!!!!

For HIM!!!


Walking the everyday road of life, I’ve met him rather often.

At times a rebel, an untimely visitor, a firebrand; at times a surprise, a blessing, a catalyst.

I saw him knocking at my doorsteps at unexpected hours.

I could sense his shadow growing and trailing behind me everyday.

Just as anybody for that matter, stubborn I was initially to the transformations that he brought in, but comically defenseless when they hit me.

No matter how hard I try, he continued to follow me. Devoid of an alternative, I finally opted to surrender.

I was perplexed at his pace and wilderness initially; but with the passage of time,I could see myself growing bold and matured to face his pranks.

Embracing the differences that he made in me, I continued to move ahead.

This must be an epilogue of my story.A prologue of what lies ahead of me.

He was good to me; he was kind enough. I know he has made me a different individual altogether.

Yet,I wish and pray – ” oh, change! never stop by my life again! I’ve become a slave to what I’m now. I’m addicted to the way my life is. Oh change! Go away from me. Let me be just this- Nothing more. Nothing less…

Legacy – folded and tucked away

It was the queer, disapproving look in grandma’s eyes that perplexed each of us in her room that evening. “Why is she being so adamant? After all, it’s for her own comfort”- mutterings in tones of various kind were heard everywhere and amidst all of those sat my grandma with that unusually stubborn face. Her doctor had advised her to go for a loose rob instead of her regular “chatta and mundu” and it was this simple matter that has let out an air of tension all around. For a generation that has never used this traditional Malabari Christian attire, change was an easy word. But for a lady who had never even tried a different dress other than the “chatta and mundu” for more than 85 years, things were very much different.

For generations, “chatta and mundu” was not just attire; but a noble representation of Malabari Catholic tradition (called as “Nasrani“traditions locally). Every girl born in this class wore this dress everywhere, for a life time. Leaving no scope for any additional decorations or color experiments, I have always wondered, how they have managed to embrace this white attire the entire life.

The “chatta”, which forms the top part of the apparel is a white, modified version of a ladies’ blouse. With loose half sleeves, chatta has a small V-shaped neck.”Mundu”, on the other hand is an ordinary piece of cloth meant to simply wrap around the lower part of the body. But what would attract anyone’s eye is the fan like frill (called as “njori”) that is half spread out at the back. A 3rd piece of long cloth called as “kavani” or “nadan” would be worn around this mundu-chatta combination. A brooch would be pinned onto this kavani adding to its ornamental value. My maternal grandma had a great fascination for this brooch that she used to collect it in varying design and fashion.

When and where did this traditional attire originate??I asked my grandma. She has no answer. She has seen her mother, grandmas, aunts, neighborhood ladies all wearing it. She remembers lining up for the margam kali (A traditional Malabari Christian dance commemorating the arrival of Saint Thomas) in chatta and mundu. She even showed me an old marriage photo of hers, wearing a fashionable chatta with a puffed sleeves. I can still remember that extraordinary glow in her eyes as she was trying to show me that chatta’s golden bead works in that black and white photo.

Things have changed…And so has time. With convenience, fashion, trend, western influence all taking the lead roles, chatta and mundu has hardly any takers today. From a generation of Malabari Christian ladies that has worn only this attire, the number has shrunken to 6 old grannies in my parish, all above 80, wearing this traditional attire. Very few ladies in my mother’s generation have managed to at least try it once or twice where for my generation it’s completely a no-no. As a kid, I have heard my father saying about making my mother wear chatta and mundu for their 25th wedding anniversary. Interestingly, now that this is to happen in another 3 years time, disapproving tones are heard from my mother’s side.

Destined to live in a world that adores changes, people like my grandma fascinate me. Grains of sand become lifeless in their hourglass.. People come and go, Seasons vary; yet these people remain the same. Blind they are to the changes around as the world calls them “slaves of habit”.

Out there, after all that vain attempts to convince my grandma, the crowd has slowly disappeared. Standing all alone near that window, she smiles. Perhaps, it’s that window that let her see the changes around. Perhaps, it’s that window that hides the changes from her eyes.


Here they are, in “chatta and “mundu”, at a parish fest



Your NAME does it all!!


It’s the same puzzled look, puckered eyebrows and the stereotypical reaction “sorry! I didn’t get you “, that has bothered me each me time I was asked “what’s your name?” Perhaps it’s that susmi isn’t a very familiar name for the south Indians or, it’s because of my incorrect usage of the “sh” sound (As observed by my best friend who feels that I always mess up with my own name),I always had to make a second clarification on my first name. As i grew up, my name became the most powerful weapon for me to accuse my parents. (Well, my name was an outcome of an extensive research done by my mother and unanimously approved by the family!!). Just in case you are wondering if a name could cause such hilarious roller coaster reactions, it’s time that you meet my neighbor Aslesha. Her name being a synonym for  the word “hug” in most of the Dravidian languages, has always managed to win her many accolades ever since her high school days!

Thanks to a cousin of mine who is expecting a baby soon, I had this very urge to carry out a comprehensive investigation on Onomatology (Yp! that’s how the study of Names is called as). But I must tell you, my list of obligations never ends with her; instead it is extended to numerous people around me- for instilling an essence of curiosity each time I hear their name. The lesson I learnt was very obvious- there is a tale behind every one’s name. Aaliya, for instance got her name starting with a double A, simply because her dad wanted her to be the first in the school attendance list. The name Anit was derived out as a unique combination of the first letters of his parent’s names-Annie and Itoop. And now, would you believe that a boy was named “swathanthrakumar”(the independence boy), just because he was born on August 15th, the Indian independence day? I have strong doubts whether his parents were inspired from the traditions of the Yoruba community of Nigeria, wherein babies are named depending upon the conditions in which they are born. Well, I was told that the Yorubas are known for their crazy names such as Abegunde (Sunday boy), Bejide (rain boy) etc.

In the Swahili tribe of Kenya, the tradition is to give two names for a baby- the first name given at birth describes his appearance and the second is the adult name, given upon maturity. Interestingly, it is a tradition in china to give their kids ugly, meaningless name in order to confuse evil spirits. In the Navajo community, a name is considered to be utmost precious that they are used only during special ceremonies. In case if you are wondering about their day to day conversations, they manage to address each other as “mother”, “son”, friend”, daughter” and so on..

Weird I must say, the Wikmungkan tribe of the North Eastern Australia has an elaborate child naming ceremony that take place during the child’s birth. A nurse would call out all the child’s living relative’s name one by one. The name being called out when the placenta is removed from the mother would be the child’s name!!

With a multitude of websites and books featuring on baby names, this story never ends. As i said in the beginning, behind every name there is a tale- that of traditions, hopes, interests and beliefs. While it’s just a fact that nobody likes his or her name, everyone loves every other name. Out there, my cousin is still in an expedition to find a name for her baby. And i realize, many more Asleshas and anits are still waiting in the queue.


A New testament of hope..


Strapped to this office chair, my mind opts for a journey down the hill; all set for an introspection, seeking those faces and places that embellish the life’s canvas. World is best described as an ephemeral inn making us a mere spectator of the mass influx and exodus that happen quite monotonously. People come and go, and rarely a very few leave immortal impressions somewhere in the unknown corners of our heart.  Love, happiness, sympathy, hatred, distress….emotions of multitude kind is what they gift us for a life time. Ever thought of the major rest who move past us, every single day? With anonymity taking the main lead, isn’t it true that the world is a hostile place to live in? Isn’t it paradoxical to call it a small world when we are still not very sure about our next door neighbor? Living in a much digitally aided, shrunken world, is it that we too have a much shrunken perspective?

With distance no longer an obstruction to communication, they call it a world of better affinity and relations. Counted amongst the biggest of blessings is technology, the savior that lets relations a reality. But, having fallen a prey to masked intentions and prejudiced strategies, the savior often becomes an abuse. The humorous anomaly of living in a relational world that heeds no attention to relations makes me bewildered. Here being impressionistic is all what matters .It compels us to be self centered, completely unconcerned of those around us, their feelings and emotions and the endless list of our commitments towards them.

Completely unaware of that very urge that planted these strange thoughts in me, I must say, it made me sit back, pause and ponder for a while. Though with a little pain, I realize, my commitments to the people around me, are not confined to, but invasive than what I could ever assume. Right from that unknown lady who nursed me as a newborn to that pantry boy who served me coffee a little while ago, my obligations are boundless. The list never ends anywhere; instead it grows enormously each second.

The unstated but fundamental principal of human life lies in it’s inter dependent, inter linked and inter related nature. Imagine the plight of living all alone in this world, with none to offer you a helping hand, none to communicate, none to be with. It would have been just another place; devoid of love and harmony, brotherhood and peace. Suffused with war and materialism, it would make us blind to recognize our fellow beings.

Perhaps it is because of the flooded thoughts; I can sense darkness all around me. Aspiring for a little streak of light, what fills in my mind is a new testament of hope. As rightly said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that…Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Together, let’s learn to value our relations and commitments. Together let’s be passionate to our fellow beings, let’s respect them for what they are. Together, let’s strive to make this world a better place to live in. Light awaits us at the other end of the tunnel.


Silence in the Library

The Vulcan Voice

*cue Ray Lamontagne’s “Trouble”*

This year has been rather a year of new discoveries so far, as I’ve slowly immersed myself in geek/nerd culture online (as a spectator only). I’ve learned new things, and developed new obsessions (I use the term loosely), found new causes to be excited about, and also discovered that even in a group of super smart kids, we still can’t agree (or agree to disagree) on certain… issues.
I don’t know, I suppose I thought that people who had memorized every line from the original Star Trek series wouldn’t really have problems with sexism and racism.
Beneath my tough walnutty exterior, I am a soft, squishy idealist, I suppose.
So much for nerd utopia.

I toyed with the idea of writing a few blogs on those topics… but I don’t think I’m ready to expose those parts of my soft underbelly to the light of day…

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Mallu-A wonder to behold

Take a walk along any crowded railway platform or foreign currency exchange center, you will find him – either carrying a baggage stuffed with homemade delicacies and pickles or talking loud over a mobile phone. Go, talk to him and he will give you an opinion on anything and everything. Placing one hand over his oil dripping head and the other over his belly, he would laugh aloud at regularly fixed intervals. You can call him malayalee; better known as “Mallu” all the world over and “Malabari” in the Middle East.
Mallus are always a sight to watch; especially when they are out of Kerala. One thing that Mallus deliberately boast about is of their literacy rate. The civilized intelligentsia of the state make it a point to ensure that that their kids are convent educated. Once the education is over, they are ready for an exodus-to destinations expanded all over the globe.
One can spot them amongst those software techies in the US or nurses in the UK. In case they are a little less educated, they would be placed behind the glass counter full of Seiko watches at the Dubai airport.
The gulf returned king makers who return periodically to recruit young nephews and delinquent cousin brothers for the Middle East job markets are the nerves and sinews of the brotherhoods of the malayalee boys.
Well! It is for sure that all Malayalees are not Mallus but all Mallus are malayalees. If you can see a vehicle parked along the pavement with a dusty window glass bearing a hand drawn caricature of a cupid’s arrow; be sure, it is of a malayalee. A lady wearing kilos and kilos of gold ornaments all over her body is undoubtedly again a Mallu. In corporates, it is easy to pick out a Mallu form the whole team-indeed the heavily mother tongue influenced English is the major contributing reason. Thanks to the Cuticura powder, they manage to make their presence noticeable with a powder plastered face.
Despite of all of these Mallus are respected all over the world. Their flexibility in the work environments and ability to adapt to any kind of topographies gives them the tag of “most wanted” in the job markets across the globe. No matter where they are or what the others think, Mallus live with their customs and traditions.
Finally, they visit their homeland once in two or three years, now rich enough to invest money in the real estate business, marry girls and take them away. Meanwhile they construct bungalows in their home towns, hiring some Tamilian or Biharis workers; to enjoy a retired life at home enjoying the fruits of their hardships at the foreign land. This story continues…Brain drain increases, but more revenue flows in each year.
Kerala, when offered to the world is a package wrought of color, traditions dainty foods, coconut lagoons and beaches; where green and light,100 % literacy and Ayurveda ,boats and elephants ,all find their place- God’s own country, the brochures tell you. But beyond all of these, there is a magic in this land that keeps each NRI Mallu coming back to his homeland-the reason why any Malayalee would say “only if you have lived here will you understand what this place is all about”.

Faulkner’s Light in August and Beginnings

check it out….

The Bookshelf of Emily J.

The word “August” has many meanings, and William Faulkner uses all of them and the accompanying symbolism in Light in August (1932).  I was struck by his use of the word, as both a month and as something delayed or ending.  Yet the title, in coupling the word August with “light” suggests that endings can be a good thing or that when one thing ends another begins.  I’m not sure of all of the meanings we could make from the novel, but I will try to explain my thoughts.

light in august by william faulkner


I must say that I’ve never been a fan of Faulkner’s work.  I find it intimidating and hard to read and understand, as I wrote about here.  I have trouble focusing when I read one of his novels, and I often miss good chunks of the plot because of this.  He’s known for stream-of-consciousness writing and dense run-on sentences. …

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Dude, competition matters…..

After prolonged days of anxiety and suspicion, yet another class X and XII CBSE board results were announced yesterday; though not with much pomp or show as in the previous years. I sat with my mother, a teacher by profession, staring quite impatiently at the computer screen. The images of my school days incessantly came to my mind in quick succession-those late night preparations, never ending revision schedules ,the race we had in the examination hall, the fear and anxiety that made the nights sleepless and ultimately, the fun during the ‘merit evening’..The people around looked at us with bulged out eyeballs and said “go learn…it isn’t the time for you to play. You are in class X”. Those were the days when I felt that the class X board exam is the biggest of hurricanes that can happen in one’s life.
Unable to hold the pressure any longer, I asked my mom, “who comes first this year in Xth?” To my disappointment, she said…”well, everybody who wrote the exam is a winner; and apparently there is no loser”. This reminded me about a fancy dress contest we had in the kindergarten class. The judges, not to hurt anyone’s feelings, gave equal marks to all the participants and all of us were given the same red and black ribbon. I understand that the authorities were trying to convey a message that everyone had done a great job. But I worry that a different message was sent, that losing is a hardship nobody should have to face.
Perhaps it is the same trend that even the examination boards are following these days. It is as if the grown-ups believe children are too fragile to handle defeat. Here, everyone plays and everyone wins. This sounds good in theory, but where is the incentive to keep playing? Without a potential winner, any examination loses its excitement. If there is nothing to compete for, the drive to do our best is replaced by ‘what’s the point’ attitude. Competition is symbiotic with motivation. It’s part of human nature to be competitive; after all, survival of the fittest is the basis of evolution. A competitive spirit is the key to our success as adults; why shouldn’t we foster it in children too?
In a country where ‘after school’ is all about competitions and ranks, this is absolutely inevitable. To get an admission or to secure a good job, one needs to face multitude of competitive examinations; wherein there is no process of generalizing or grading, but individual ranking.(check out the cutoff for the DU admissions and you will know how fierce the situation is)
While examinations illustrate the importance of drive and determination, they also teach children how to lose. And with that come the other valuable lessons-about learning from mistakes, searching for ways to improve and finding the will to try again. Yeah, Competition does matters, because to grow up right, we need winners and losers.