4 The People

Yaay, it’s the last day of the month, my conventional blog publishing day. There is always something special about the month ends. Those are the days I deliver something concrete in spite of my thoughts drained as much as my pockets. Time to time, I use my blog to pour out my frustrations. Maybe, it’s cos I feel doing so in social media is kinda cliche.

“4 The People” was a Malayalam movie that was released when I was in my 10th grade. The same was released in Tamil as “4 Students” too. The song from the movies used to be my favs especially Lajavathiye and Unthan Vizhimunai. Most days pass by tuning into the morning radio show waiting to listen to these songs along with my other Rahman favs. That’s quite nostalgic. But, this only hit me after I started writing this blog post. So, this post is definitely not about this movie. If you are as nostalgic as me, you can listen to the songs below.

If you are from a middle-class family like mine, there is a high probability that you would die without meeting that “Naalu Peru” (4 /*the*/ People) who influenced your life more than anyone else in the universe. They are dedicated and care for you so much that their long nose is poked into your life forever. Fortunately, my parents didn’t impose much the choices of that “Naalu Peru” on me, until lately.

For most of my life, I was brought up as a freethinker. Even though I had a lot of thought differences with my parents, we always discussed and debated openly on those. Predominantly I was left to my own choices. As soon as my marriage got fixed, things gradually began to shift. I could see my preferences been overridden with what considered to be the preference of that “Nallu Peru” without any logical reasons that I could comprehend. All of a sudden, from the color of my clothes and my beard to the way I talk required the social approval of those “Naalu Peru”. Eventually, there were instances where I saw my self-respect vanishing into thin air. What really pisses me off is, when I shake my head for whatever crap you say for the same of courtesy, I am one good obedient guy. But, when you push me beyond my threshold with your stupid pieces of advice and make me counter it with questions that make sense, you bloody question my upbringing. “Pullaiya romba arpurdhama valathurukka ma nee” (Sarcastically commenting, you have awesomely raised your kid )  moment only.

Probably, These are the questions that I would definitely ask when I face those “Naalu Peru”.

  • What’s your problem?
  • Where were you when we had problems?
  • How are you this good at finding faults?
  • We have a dedicated job in our company called Quality Analyst, who’s only job is to find faults, would you be interested in joining full time? Why do it for free when you are good at something?

If you are one of that 4 people, kindly pay attention. I don’t want to live 4 the people, but to live 4 my people. To live 4 me and my loved ones. So, get lost. Peace.

P.S: Really sorry for the frustration overflow, I really needed to vent it out of my garbage collection.

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Essence Of Time

It’s already half past 9 in the eve and all I got is less than 3 hours to publish this post. My laziness, a busy month, procrastination and a lot could be blamed for writing this in the nick of the moment, as usual. However, my strict monthly target of at least one blog post per month and a hand full of readers who regularly read my blog is what that motivates me to keep on writing. Can’t thank you guys enough.

I almost hit the wall deciding on the topic for this blog post. What came to rescue is the topic that I was discussing with my fiance yesterday. Yeah, you read it right. I am currently engaged and getting married pretty soon. Wait for it guys, that episode deserves a separate blog post.  There is a reason why I had to mention her here and I really feel pity for that poor soul. Just for the mistake of making me wait for a couple of minutes, she had to painstakingly listen me talk about punctuality and integrity of the Japanese people for half an hour. In the ESSENCE OF TIME, I will keep this shot.

There is a general opinion that we Indians are quite insensitive about TIME, which I feel is true to an extent. I have this best buddy of mine, out of all the times we have met, only once he was on time and that lead me to a deep shock. I am really sorry da to pull you down here, didn’t have a choice. This doesn’t mean I am punctual all the time, but at least try to be on time. Worst case, I apologize when I am late.  It’s okay to be insensitive about your own time, it’s once own choice. But, where we fail the most when we fail to appreciate the time of others.

“Arriving late was a way of saying that your own time was more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you.”
-Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club

I wish I could say the above is my all time favorite quote and all that. But, just copied from Goodreads site so that it suits the context.

Have you appreciated the friend who patiently listens to all your ranting whatever the time of the day it is, the friend who spends hours and days to get you an awesome gift  for your birthday just to make you feel happy, your parents who lost all their own time taking care of you and finally, that relative who takes finding mistakes and advising you as their lives mission. We fail to appreciate their sincere efforts and take them for granted, don’t we?. They are spending something invaluable on you. It’s only fair we return them time and undivided attention, cos that’s the only thing that’s at par that’s worth their efforts.

Thanks for taking your valuable time to read this post. Now it’s your turn to thank me for spending my precious time writing this to enlighten you all. Just Kidding. Peace.

Serendipity

Believe me, I don’t even know how to pronounce the title properly. Thought of using some fancy word in the title so that it would boost the readership of this post. But, later realized that it’s no longer a fancy word. #Overuse #TwistInTheTale

Serendipity
ˌsɛr(ə)nˈdɪpɪti/
noun
The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Most of the people close to me are well aware that I collect postcards, even a bit obsessed with it. So far, I have collected 541 postcards from 90 countries and made a few awesome friends across the world. If you aren’t aware of the term Postcrossing, I highly recommend you to read my post “The Story Of The Random Postcards“. Don’t worry, if you are too lazy (like me) to open the link and read, the following must help.

Postcrossing is an online project that allows its members to send and receive postcards from all over the world. The project’s tagline is “send a postcard and receive a postcard back from a random person somewhere in the world!” Its members, also known as Postcrossers, send postcards to other members and receive postcards back from other random Postcrossers. Where the postcards come from is always a surprise. – Wikipedia

So by this time, you must have understood that most of the cards I receive are absolutely from totally RANDOM people. Random coincidences are some of the best kinda stories to narrate and brace for it, cos here comes one.

Two friends from The Netherlands Sanne and Kristen planned to write postcards together cos it would be so much fun. Yes, there are people like us in this era of Facebook and WhatsApp who think writing postcards is so much fun. Now, let’s come back to the story. So, Sanne & Kristen requested for an address together from the site. Guess what? To their surprise, they both got mine. Whenever an address is requested, a code is also generated along with it so that the recipient can register the postcard upon receiving the same. Guess what? even the Postcrossing code were consecutive numbers. Here comes the best part. They wrote, “We weren’t sure if Ravi is your first or the last name, so we decided to start differently”. As they were confused with my name, Kristen addressed me as “Dear Gokoulane” whereas Sanne addressed me as “Dear Ravi”. They even posted it together at the same place and time, so that I would receive it together. Thankfully it did.

As I love food, they have sent me yummy Dutch Snacks Postcards with awesome stamps.

So, Thank you, Sanne & Kristen.

The Land Of Trolls & Hypocrites

How about a quick itsy-bitsy blog post to meet this month’s target. Really can’t help my BUSY schedule and procrastination.

I wanted to write about this topic for a while. But, had to hold on until I complete my Sar Pass trek series. What inspired me to write this blog post is a series of comic styles cartoon titled “The Artist-Troll War” by one of my favorite artists Gavin Aung Than, the one behind Zen Pencils.

The Artist-Troll War 1: HATRED BREEDS HATRED
The Artist-Troll War Part 2: NEGATIVITY DESTROYS ALL
The Artist-Troll War 3: CREATORS > HATERS
The Artist-Troll War 4: GOOD ART TRIUMPHANT

The land I am talking about is not something not alien to us, in fact, it has become an indispensable part of most of our lives. Once it was quite greener. A great place to socialize and make new friends. A playground for new ideas. But now, as the title says, it has just become a land of trolls and hypocrites. As many of you might have guessed, I am talking about the SOCIAL MEDIA and its beloved NETIZENS.

Every day when I scroll down my social media feeds, what I see is people fighting in comments and tweets trying to force their opinion on others. Isn’t It used to be much more fun, peaceful and secular place? I wonder why we have become less tolerant? I sight scavengers who paint everything out there with the shaded of politics, race, caste & religion, and shamelessly feed on it for their personal gain. I really pity the guys who invested their passion, time and talent to build such platform. They might want our data and mint money on it, but definitely not this.

I really appreciate constructive feedback, but trolling other works just for the sake of getting attention is totally unfair. As one of my friend mentioned in his status, we must be mature and learn to see art as a distinct entity from the artist who creates it. Trolling and personally attacking a person for their work is just unjust. If you like someone’s work, do appreciate them. As Kevin Smith once said, “It costs nothing to encourage an artist, and the potential benefits are staggering. A pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favorite film, or the cartoon you love to get stoned watching or the song that saves your life. Discourage an artist, you get absolutely nothing in return“. But, it’s absolutely ok to dislike one’s work or even feel that it’s below par. In that case, better leave them undisturbed. Either they find their own set of audiences or later realize it’s not for them. Trolling them gets you nothing.

Do you know what makes me laugh even more than the hilarious memes? The long, well-drafted statuses of the hypocrites. It’s fun to be a spectator, that too when you know the person well in reality. It’s good to share things on social media, but I don’t think, to do things just for the sake of the status is any good. BTW, whom am I to judge. I just fear that people have lost their originality when it comes to social media. Whether we admit it or not, we all have become moral hypocrites. It’s just the degree of hypocrisy that varies.

I got nothing to conclude. Just reflecting my thoughts with a far-fetched hope that social media would be a sane place to socialize, share information and productively discuss actual problems.

Itsy-bitsy? Who am I Kidding?

Trip To Remember – Trekking Sar Pass – Part 6

Finally, will get myself done with this blog post series. Here goes the final one.

Day 11 – 28th May 2017

I woke up with a mixed feeling, on one hand, I was happy about completing the trek successfully, on the other, I was sad that it came to an end. Once done with our morning routines, breakfast, group pic and one final batch roll call, we left the most beautiful camp of the whole trek around 8 AM. The route was a bit steep and felt like never-ending. We had to lose an altitude of 1400 ft in less than 5 km. I stuck with Lavanya for the whole route. Once we even lost our way in the middle ignoring the route markers and was screaming for help. Luckily, one of the fellow trekkers responded and that helped us be back on the route.

A couple of hours later, we reached a small eatery down the Barshani Village (6600 ft), finally some place to rest. In the meantime awaiting Nigilan and Buddy to return, I indulged myself in hot Maggi and refreshing lemon tea served there. It was already 12 PM when they both joined us. Then, we took a short walk to catch the bus that would get us back to Kasol. In the bus, we noticed a couple of guys smiling and laughing at the silly things that we spoke in Tamil. Then came that magical words, “Neenga Thamizha?” (Are you Tamil). That’s how we meet Anirudh and Mukund, 2 civil engineering guys from Bangalore working on a construction project in the valley. It was awesome conversing with them.

Around 4 PM, we reached Kasol, should blame the terrific traffic at Manikaran for the delay. We were too hungry by then and the Tibetan Eatery nearby the Kasol Market came to the rescue. We had amazing Thukpa and Momos there. It was already around 8 days since we took a bath. So, we found a natural hot spring bath area and took a relaxing bath. OMG, the hot water in the cold weather felt like being in heaven. All the others in the group decided to reach Kullu the same eve, but for various reasons, yours truly decided to stay back for a night at the base camp and start the next morning. It was a great experience at the base camp, was awarded the trek completing certificate and was asked to share my experience to the upcoming batches. Everyone at the campfire gathering laughed when I ended my note with, “These mountains got some serious ALTITUDE problems”. As usual, I had my dinner and dozed off early, that’s how an yet another awesome day came to an end.

One heavenly Thukpa

 Day 12 – 29th May 2017

I was informed that the 1st bus of the day to Kullu will be by 6.45 AM, So was all set by then to leave the camp. The bus came spot on time and I boarded it just opposite to the base camp. The bus was mostly filled with students and locals. The best part all along the ride was the songs played in its music system, just loved it.

Around 9 AM, I reached Kullu and rejoined with my friends at the famous Sapna Bakery for the breakfast. There we ordered SIddu, one of the most famous and typical dishes of that region. It kinda looks like an enlarged MoMo but tastes entirely different. The one which we had was awesome and I loved it. Then we headed to the hotel when my friends were staying so that I could keep my hefty backpack and continue roaming for the rest of the day. There I met the retired defense personnel, whose son owns that place.  He was too courteous and patiently gave us the direction to reach the Naggar Castle, our next destination.

From Kullu, we reached Naggar by bus and from there we reached The Castle by taking an Auto Rickshaw. Naggar used to be the ex-capital of the Kullu region and the King ruled from the castle.The view from the castle was spectacular and it exhibited some of the old artifacts and objects used during the King’s period. We had our lunch at the in-house restaurant itself. The food was pricey but the taste wasn’t that great as it looks.

What came to rescue is the Home Made Bakery, just outside the castle. They served yummy Apple Pie, Brownies and Tarts along with refreshing homemade fruit juices.

In the meanwhile, this awesome Lost & Found incident happened and have already written a separate blog post on it. Then we returned back to Kullu in a crowded local bus, got freshened up at the hotel and left to the bus terminus to catch our bus to Chandigarh. I immediately dozed off as we boarded our bus around 9 PM, that’s how an yet another awesome day came to an end.

 Day 13 – 30th May 2017

It was quite early in the morning when our bus reached the Chandigarh bus terminus. We spotted a Maggiwala (the one who sells Maggi) a few meters outside the terminus and decided to get done with our breakfast there. He sold sandwiches and tea along with Maggi and I ordered an egg Maggi for my breakfast.

As our flight is around afternoon, we had a lot of time to spare. With not much energy to explore the city, So, we went to the Rose Garden, took some rest, listening music and again went to the famous Pal Dhaba for lunch. OMG, the food was awesome there. Their Butter Chicken is definitely something to die for.

Later, we took a cab to the airport and boarded the flight back to Chennai. Outside the Chennai airport, the harsh Sun kissed my skin to remind me that I am back home. Just as a kinda ritual, I brought home some Biriyani concluding the trip. That’s how an awesome trip came to an end.

 

With a lot of fun, food and awesome experiences, this is indeed a trip to remember.

The End.

Trip To Remember – Trekking Sar Pass – Part 5

Dear Reader,
If you are growing impatient about this ever going series and wondering when would this end? Just be patient as always, probably one more post after this one. All you have to understand is, yours truly is neither creative to come up with new content frequently nor blessed with frequent awesome trips like this one. So, got to manage with this for the love of blogging.

Day 10 – 27th May 2017

I woke up wishing someone would wish me that morning. Wondering why? It was my birthday. The day started with a great disappointment as my only expectation wasn’t met. I was absolutely fine with the fact that others in the camp had no clue about my birthday. But, what let me down was my friends forgetting the same. Can’t blame them either, it was actually a bit hard to keep track of the day and date during the trek.

The only thing that I gave me comfort was a bunch of candies that I carried all the way from Chennai. Sudeshna, my pen pal sent me some chocolates and candies for my birthday all the way from Guwahati, Assam. She also made sure that it reaches me before I leave for the trip and in her letter, she instructed me that I must have them only on my birthday. Being a sucker for chocolates, it was too hard for me to resist having them all along the trek and save it from myself for the D-Day. With a strong will, I made it happen. Thank you Sudeshna for all the love. Following is a small video I recorded to thank her.

For the first time on my birthday, I felt lonely without anyone around wishing me. I restrained myself telling my friends that it’s my birthday. On the contrary, the narcissist in me acted otherwise and let them know by my own mouth. They served noodles for breakfast along with some hot tea. As usual, we cleaned our tents, packed our bags and assembled for the count before leaving the camp. To my surprise, all of sudden, everyone sang the birthday song and wished me. Wow, isn’t that awesome?. Once complete strangers are now my friends and wishing me for my birthday, this is what I call the beauty of traveling. These sort of instances make me realize that traveling is definitely not about the destination, but about the journey and the people whom we come across. Think it’s enough talking about my birthday, let’s move to the trek part.

We were excited about the next camp not just cos it’s the last camp of the trek. Since the induction, have heard plenty about the serenity and beauty of this place from the camp leaders and the batches who have completed their trek. I would say, this was the easiest leg of the whole trek. All we got to cover is 12 km with an attitude change of just 3000 ft. The only exciting part of the route was doing rappelling that too with a minimum vertical drop. Other than that, It was more like walking in midst of the woods all the way. Not soon after our lunch, an excited bunch of us, including me, lost our way to the camp and got stuck in the pine forest. Thankfully, our guide came to the rescue and directed us to the camp.

One of my most fav pic from the trek

No wonder every one praised the beauty of this place and call it the Switzerland of India. Around 2 PM, we finally reached the most beautiful camp of the trek, the Bhandak Thatch (8000 ft). It’s grassland and a grazing land where the cattle are reared in the summer, everything there seemed lush and green, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. I haven’t been to Swiss yet, but this place made me wonder if Swiss is as beautiful as this one. We were able to spot Cows, Horses and Sheep. With plenty of time in our hand that day, we played UNO, Kabadi and did some funny Dubmashes too. At times, I would just climb up the slopes, spot a silent spot and get myself immersed in the mesmerizing beauty of the mountains.

The guys managed to arrange for the campfire after getting permission from our camp leader. Later that evening, we had our dinner early and gathered around the campfire. The burning pine logs gave a distinct pleasant sweet smell uplifting the mood around. From there on, it was all fun. We sang, danced crazy and everyone wished me again for my birthday. The craziness continued until the rain disrupted the fun. With half a heart, we dispersed into out tents and dozed off.

IMG_20170527_195147389

One best pic of the trip. Still feels like a magic

Started with full of disappointments, it turned out to be one of the best birthdays in my life. That’s how a yet another awesome day came to an end.

To Be Continued…

Morrie & Me

When is the last time you saw me writing a blog post on a book?  You wouldn’t have, cos I never did. In spite of my reservations against blogging about books, this one made me do otherwise. If you ask me why? the most appropriate answer would be, none other connected with me as deep as this one.

First of all, I would like to thank my sis Sarumathi for gifting me this wonderful book with a sweet personal inscription on the first page. During one of our conversations lately, she mentioned that the book reminded her of myself when she read it and that’s the reason why she gifted the same. So, Saru, I am too glad that you did. As you mentioned, it’s definitely something that I will treasure forever.

Where do I start, how about the book’s name? It’s TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom. This short read is all about the author’s discovery about his terminally ill old sociology professor via a TV interview, his efforts to connect back with him and a series of Tuesday meetings between them that follows. This non-fiction is a project of Mitch Albom, a wannabe musician turned sports journalist along with his dying professor Morrie Schwartz to fund his treatment.

Why I loved reading this book?
I experienced this strange feeling of feeling both heavy and light-hearted simultaneously while reading it. I was able to well connect with Morrie, his values and his view about life. Tons of times, I have questioned myself on my view on life and the values I uphold. Reading this book felt like someone sitting next to me, gives me a Hi-Fi and comforting me by saying, hey, I am more or less like you and probably you might die merrily if you stay the same. I am always quite skeptical about recommending things to others. But I strongly recommend this one. I completed this book on a Tuesday, isn’t that a silly coincidence.

Concluding this blog post with a few of my favorite quotes from the book.

“Accept who you are; and revel in it.”

“Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.”

“Death ends a life, not a relationship. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on- in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.”

“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.”

“Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others.”

“If you’re always battling against getting older, you’re always going to be unhappy, because it will happen anyhow.”