Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or treat ?

Just as the US presidential race was headed into a final showdown beyond all heated debates and vigorous campaigns into the ballot boxes,nature decided that things were too hot to handle and decided to display her power. And now, for the past couple of days the "Perfect storm" has dominated the airwaves. The estimated destructive power of this superstorm "Sandy" resulted in shutdown of the powerful New York Stock Exchange office for two days in a row. This is the first time the markets have been closed for consecutive days because of weather since a blizzard forced the N.Y.S.E. to close for two days in 1888. Now that is one powerful storm right? This was the "before" part of story, the hurricane now having made landfall and thus gotten weaker, it is now time for the "after" part of the whole episode.

 The havoc wrecked by the hurricane surely needs time to be cleaned up and for many people, the storm was the "trick" that nature pulled on them this Halloween. Many have lost their homes, possessions and their loved ones. Such losses can never be made good but time, they say is a great healer and life must go on and it will indeed... In true spirit of humanity, in the most heavily affected areas, Halloween will not be celebrated normally this year. In New Jersey, there is an executive order postponing Halloween celebrations statewide in the face of the chaos resulting from Sandy's passage. New York authorities postponed the traditional costume parade for the first time in history. After all what is a city without its citizens?

On the other side of the globe, there is a cyclone that has hit coastal regions of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in India. This weather visitor goes by the name "Nilam". It is once again Nature showing us that no matter how ever much technological advances make man feel he is the master of the Universe, reality is far from it.

Will mankind realize its folly and learn to respect Nature before its too late?

All pictures are from Google images

    Thursday, October 25, 2012

    The grass was greener... - a 77-fiction

    77 Fiction is a form of micro fiction that refers to the works of fiction limited to a maximum of seventy seven words excluding the title.

    "The grass was greener
      The light was brighter
      With friends surrounded
      The nights of wonder..."   
    cackled the scratchy CD from his Bose Wave Music System III,  his indulgence from his first salary in a  far away land. Although the crooners were a bunch of youngsters screaming their lungs out, it sounded far sweeter than the Pink Floyd version to Mani's ears. Ah those good old college days... That Skype conference call just could not wait any longer :)

    Image is from Google images

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    Celebrating the sacred feminine?

    Over the past nine days, most of India celebrated Navaratri with devotion and fervour. During Navaratri, Shakthi/Devi is worshiped in nine different forms. While the rituals vary depending on the regions, the essence remains the same - worship of the Sacred feminine. Similarly over the course of the calendar year, there are rituals devoted to worship of rivers and seas and even Mother Earth.This is true of not just India but of the world. Across most cultures, the feminine is worshiped either as the Mother Nature or as the Holy Mother or as the Goddess of knowledge/art/love. She is the bearer of life. But this adulation is sadly restricted to the divine world. The human world seems to narrate a different story.

    There is a "International Women's day" that is now famously celebrated all over the world on March 8th. Why, there is even a "International Day of the Girl Child " that is in place from this year. Henceforth October 11th has been earmarked for the same. Ironically its very first celebration had the Taliban attack on Malala Yousafzai, an advocate of girls' right to education as a backdrop. Each day, we hear/read news reports about atrocities against women. For every act of violence reported, there are many that are buried deep in the society out of fear or shame or ignorance. Even our reaction to these sort of happenings is scarily muted. For most part, such news has become commonplace, it is almost as if we have become immune to it. While our ancestors had a noble intention of respecting all objects whether animate or inanimate, somewhere down the line the central thought behind the worship seems to have gotten lost behind the rituals and the hype and hoopla. The domestic violence, female-foeticide/infanticide, dowry harassment, discrimination at many levels that hampers her education, health and her very existence by pinning her down each time she tries to stand up to her tormentors are the demons that need to be vanquished. 

    While policies by governments and initiatives by various social and corporate organizations are a step in the right direction, a modified mindset of the masses is what will take this movement to the next level. It is not that the woman is weak and needs to be always protected and safeguarded. It is just that the world, not just men, even the women themselves should learn to respect themselves. In this world of give and take, one must give respect and take respect, do your duty and then enjoy your rights. It does not matter if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, young or old; what matters is standing up for the right thing. While it is a sin to hurt someone, it is a greater sin to bear the hurt silently. Women need to raise their voices against any form of injustice. For the victory of the good over evil, a battle must be fought always. I like to believe we are fighting that battle and one must never give up fighting for the right thing. One must always remember that the night is darkest just before dawn.

    It is not about who is greater - man or woman? It is about what is right for mankind, the justice, the equilibrium. I hope the day is not far when the feminine will be celebrated in her true spirit. That would be the celebration of humanity and divinity combined.

    Happy Dasara!! 

    All pictures are from Google images

    Friday, October 19, 2012

    A chink in the knight's armour...

    Think of a knight and the image your mind conjures up for you is that of a brave and strong man clad in armour and mounted atop a horse equipped with sword/lance or some kind of weaponry. Basically an image of strength and fearlessness. But every knight has a chink in his armour of which he is generally aware and takes great care to shield lest others take advantage of it... Now why am I talking of knights and armours in this day and age of sophisticated and scientific warfare you may ask. Here's why...

    About a fortnight ago S and me caught up with the animated movie "Hotel Transylvania", a truly funfilled presentation :) The cinema hall was filled with as many kids as adults and entertained one and all in equal measure. How could it not? It's tagline read "Even monsters need a vacation". While I'll not venture into the details of the plot, its essence is one which you'll find in the human world. The central characters in the movie were Dracula  (Ah yes the infamous blood sucking count...), his daughter Mavis (the chink in the armor!!) and a human(the luvv angle in this love triangle :P). While the movie starts off showcasing the Hotel Transylvania as the ultimate getaway for monsters (remember their need for vacation?), you cannot help but notice the paternal instincts of Dracula that materialize in almost every frame of the story.

    It was simply adorable to see him teach little Mavis how to transform herself into a bat and fly, I just loved the cute lil pink helmet he put on her before he began the training(Safety first!!). There are many such tender moments including when he plays her favorite song and enjoys all her antics like the proverbial chase around the house or in this case literally around the house for being a monster she can walk on walls and ceilings you see :D that showcase the special bond. Of course towards the end, in true filmi style he goes hunting for the human he had sent away himself after realising his daughter's romantic feelings for the human, manages to find him and bring him back to unite the young hearts nearly dying in the process but then its an animated movie, so it has to end with "and they happily lived ever-after..."

    The point I'm trying to make here is that a daughter has a very special place in a father's heart. A daughter wields some kind of a magical power over her father, she can make him melt as if he were ice-cream and not the tough guy that the son or the mother see him to be. Oh yes, a father is quite harsh on his son, but rarely so with the daughter. He cares deeply about his children but a father does not usually express it in words, some fathers do but most of them keep their most treasured feelings to themselves like the proverbial knight. The world never gets to see the softer side of the strongest man in the world that I know(Sorry my dear husband). Remember that line in a an advertisement, Dhara ad if I remember well, "My daddy strongest :D"... Yes, that is how any child will feel about his/her dad. I know that you care a lot about me Appa, it's just that you don't say it out loud... But you have been and will always be there for me whenever I have needed you, Thank you Appa :)

    Pictures are from Google images

    PS: Amma, this post does not in anyway undermine the special bond we share :)

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Wordless Wednesday-1

    "A picture is worth a thousand words" is a very popular phrase. Words are not always required to convey or express your thoughts. An image is more effective at times. And thus mushroomed the thought of "Wordless Wednesday" in blogosphere... Why Wednesday? My guess is that it sounds much more interesting than say a "Wordless Thursday". Another reason could be Wednesday being the middle of the week, blogger could be pressed for time to come up with a worded post and hence to have a post and yet not spend too much time, came up with WW...

    Below is my first attempt at going wordless-

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    First the rain,then the thunderbirds!!

    There's something magical about rain that makes me feel refreshed. The aroma exuded by earth when it rains after a dry spell, ah that is revitalizing and soothing. It seems the rain-gods have taken a sudden liking to sunny San Diego and so for three days in a row now I have woken up to the sound of rain as it "pittered and pattered" outside our home :)

    View of rain from our patio

    From a sprinkler show on day 1 to a  light shower at regular intervals on day 2 to moderate rainfall in the wee hours of day 3, rain has sure announced itself in this year. Coming from Bangalore where it rains whenever the mercury crosses into the uncomfortable "God! its hot" zone or during the monsoons or there are cyclonic depressions near the coastlines, I was beginning to miss rains here when the temperatures touched 35 on the Celsius scale. I was infact complaining about the lack of rain to S.And then though the temperatures had dipped a bit and there were dark clouds gathering up occasionally and one could see the red skies at night, rain seemed evasive.But not anymore I guess. I couldn't resist and clicked a few pics of rain from our patio.
    I ended humming a popular kannada melody ಮುಂಗಾರು ಮಳೆಯೇ ಏನು ನಿನ್ನ ಹನಿಗಳ ಲೀಲೆ.....
     (Translation: Oh pre-monsoon rain, what magic do your drops possess? )
    Ah the magic of rain indeed...

    When there is rain, can thunder be far away? But this is a thunder of a different kind. Its time for the annual Marine Corps Air Show at Miramar. This is the largest military air show in the US and hence we have jets thundering through the skies of San Diego since yesterday. It reminds me of the biennial Air-show in Bangalore. Oh those spectacular displays and those daredevil spins and nosedives by the pilots and their flying machines... the very thought revs us up with enthusiasm and zest for life.

    You can check the following link to check out the source of the airshow images and photo gallery that feature sample photos of what the show has to offer - MCAS airshow

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Born to be wild

    It was a typical morning in South India. The entire household woke up to the notes of M.S.Subbalakshmi's Suprabhatam  but for the sleeping beauty. She lay all cuddled up on her special bed. Even the aroma of fresh filter coffee(she had loved sipping coffee during the rains) wafting in from the kitchen failed to wake her up... Finally when the Sun streamed in through the window grills lighting up her skin golden, she yawned and stretched her tender-self and opened her tiny little eyes much to the amusement of  Kamala who had been watching over her keenly. "Amma*, She's awake... Amma, Sunaina woke up...", Kamala called out to her mother. Within minutes, Amma came in with two glasses of milk, one for Kamala and the other for Sunaina. Both the girls slurped up the milk in a jiffy as if it were a competition. "Can Su and me play for a while in the garden?" asked Kamala. "Sure dear. Be careful with her and don't trouble her too much", so saying Amma went back to her chores.

    Kamala was thrilled that her mother was letting her play with Su. The last time they had played with each other was nearly six months ago when Kamala was home for her summer vacations. It was Kamala who had come up with Sunaina's name. She had chosen the name after loosing herself in those deep-amber colored eyes that oozed mischief and innocence. She had gone back to her residential school with a heavy heart at the end of what had been her best summer vacation. Now for another 3 weeks, she could play with Su to her heart's content.Both the kids were lost in their world until Appa** came home for lunch.

    Seeing their games, Appa whispered to Amma "Oh how adorable they look together!! I can't imagine how Kamala will react when she comes home next summer. Sunaina will be nearly a year old then... I cannot keep her with me any longer. She needs to go back to where she came from, the forest, after all that is her home. She was born to be wild...". Amma comforted him saying "Don't worry dear, I'll speak to Kamala about it. I'm sure a smart girl like her will understand ".

     But there was no need for Amma and Appa to be worried as Kamala had overheard their conversation. That night at dinner, she spoke with a very serious look on her usually chirpy face "Amma I know that we cannot keep Sunaina with us forever. After all she is a tigress, but till my holidays end, I'll spend every waking moment with her. I'll cherish the time I have spent with my little pet forever. As a forest officer you are only doing your duty Appa and I understand that."

    Kamala went over to Sunaina's bed and kissed the little cub goodnight. And so it was the end of another day at the Bhadra Tiger reserve.

    (Background: Kamala's Appa was incharge of "Project Tiger" at Bhadra Tiger Reserve and had brought home the cub he found while following the tracks of a dead tigress after succesfully hunting down poachers.)

    PS: Tiger, the national animal of India is on the list of priority and endangered species of world wildlife fund  .
    In India, efforts are being made for tiger conservation through Project Tiger.
    According to world wildlife fund "The tiger population is at its lowest level ever, with possibly as few as 3,200 remaining in the wild."

      *Amma - Mother
    ** Appa - Father

    For source of image of the cub, click here
    For source of Bhadra Tiger reserve map, click here

    Saturday, October 6, 2012


    Creeping in silence,
    casting her spell all around
    she lit up the eyes.

    Picture is from Google images

    PS: This is my first attempt at Haiku, a verse of three lines of up to 17 syllables, generally in 5-7-5 format

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Into the sunset

    Its been over a month since we got our DSLR, a Canon T3i. The first place we visited armed with it was Point Loma, a hilly peninsula that is not quite a beach but one that offers a great sunset view. It is about 15 miles from our home and we reached there in time to soak ourselves in the setting sun on a perfect summer day in sunny San Diego. It being summer, the sunset was scheduled to occur a few minutes before 8PM. For someone from India this might sound a bit strange, sunset at 8 in the night?? But then that's how it is here in the US of A during summer(which is why there is the concept of daylight saving time).
    Driving into the sunset
     A little bit of trivia about Point Loma - It is apparently the place where Europeans first landed in California.
    Sunset cliffs at Point Loma
    The cliffs stood majestically while the waves of the Pacific Ocean gently lapped up against them and the now dull yellow sun was nearly ready to sink into the cool waters or so it seemed.

    Countdown begins
     The evening sky soon turned into a bright orange and since there were no clouds in sight, there were no other hues but just the color of sunset - orange tint all across the horizon. In the next ten minutes, all we did was soak in the beauty of nature, savoring the visual treat and soon it was time to head back home.

     Sun kissing the Pacific
    Sun sinking in silently

    Nearly sunk
    End of a lovely day!!
    After the sunset, we just drove along the sunset cliffs enjoying the cool breeze and that was indeed the end of a very lovely day.If we headed further down south beyond Point Loma, we were told we could get to Cabrillo National monument, but our sunset rendezvous meant we had to do that some other day. Living in sunny San Diego meant many beaches and many sunsets, but the one at sunset cliffs will remain special...