Tag Archives: conversation

The Stained and Strained Collars

The International Workers Day or Labour Day is just around the corner. As much as the significance of the day, this short, quick and dirty blog post also aims to celebrate the working class across the world.

“Uzhaippali Illatha” song from the movie “Uzhaiplai” is always the first thing that would strike my mind every time I think of the Labours Day, followed by the famous Triumph of Labour statue by Marina Beach. I am yet to hear another song that glorifies the significance of the workforce as much as this one.

Whenever we think of this day, we mostly relate it to the blue collar workers, the stained collars who do the manual labor. Undoubtedly, they are the most suppressed workforce throughout history. We tend to often sympathize them when we learn about their hardships. But, what we fail to do is to empathize and that includes me too.

A week back, I was a bit furious with a delivery person for canceling my order and with the other not delivering my lunch on time. Then a couple of days back, a few relatives dropped by home for lunch. So, my family tasked me to pick up food from the same restaurant where I ordered last week. I felt burned out just for one trip to the restaurant and back in the hot Chennai sun. It took doses of juice and a long afternoon sleep to completely recover from the fatigue. At that point in time, all I could think off was the delivery guys whom I was furious with. Probably, next time when someone comes to deliver in the hot sun, I would give them something cool to drink or give them some extra tips. Among all their struggles to make their ends meet, these little things might put a smile on their face and keep them going.

With enough being said on the suppressed sect, let me jump to the depressed sect. Yes, If you have guessed it right, I am talking about the white collar workers, the strained collars who are tied to their desk forever. Typically, we tend to oversee their strains. Maybe cos they don’t have to do any physical labor. Maybe, cos they dress neat and work comfortably in an AC office. But, on the flip side, they are the ones who suffer the maximum from the mental health problems as a result of workplace stress. Lack of work-life balance and physical activities put them under the high risk of inducing major lifestyle-related conditions such as depression, insomnia, hypertension, diabetes, and heart diseases.

Self note: So, my dear desk clinging friend, it’s high time you keep a check on your mental as well as physical health.

Wish the stains wash away and the strains loosen up and relax. Happy International Workers Day.

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The Golden Temple Saga – Trip To Remember – Amritsar, Delhi & Agra – Part 2

Don’t be surprised for publishing the post a little earlier than usual. Also, this post is predominantly just about one place and it’s totally worth it.

A short recap from the last blog post to bring you up to the speed. Inspired by the below song, I convinced 4 of my friends to travel along with me all the way to Amritsar. On our 2nd day of the journey, we visited the most famous Attari – Wagha Border between India and Pakistan. And, it was one remarkable experience.

By now, you all might have guessed the place. It’s none other than the Sri Harmandir Sahib, famously known as the Amritsar Golden Temple. From the local sources, we got to know that the Gurdwara is less crowded during the early hours of the dawn. Kavinnila  (a.k.a Kavin) and I were super excited and planned to start as early as 4 am. On the other hand, Shashi, Remya and Shalini was super tired after a crazy day, so they decided to opt out for some more rest and join us later.

As planned, we started a little later than 4 am. As our hostel was just in walking distance from the Gurdwara, we didn’t have any trouble reaching there. It’s a hard rule that men and women who enter the temple must cover their head by wearing a scarf or a turban. On our way to the temple, there was a respectable old man who offered me a headscarf and even tied it on my head. Later, he DEMANDED DONATION for the same. It’s quite unfortunate that there are people capitalizing situation like these. If you are visiting the temple, kindly don’t entertain such people. There are tons of head scarfs placed in bins just outside the Gurudwara for free.

One could get easily awestruck by the glittering structure against the background of the dark sky. And, I am no exception. Just before the main entrance, there is a place where you can safely deposit your footwear for free. A continuous stream of water flowing through the entrance cleanses your foot before entering the temple premise. OMG, I have never been to such a peaceful and calm religious place. I felt the tranquility of the place subdue my usual excitement. And, quite short of words in precisely expressing that feeling. The main temple sits in the middle of Amrit Sarowar (Pool of Nectar), a holy tank where devotees take bathe. We went around the Parikrama (Pathway surrounding the tank) clicking some pictures before joining the queue leading to the sanctum. I am not even exaggerating, the devotees here are the most self-disciplined ones I have ever seen. Firstly, there are no separate queues except the one dedicated for elderly and physically challenged people. Irrespective of their caste, creed, gender, social and economic status, the rest of the folks share the same queue. In spite of thousands of devotees waiting in the line for hours, we didn’t find even a single person trying to push others or trying to get ahead or even speak loudly. Probably, we are the only uncouth ones in the crowd who are incapable of zipping their mouth. You would be amazed to see that there isn’t anyone except just an elderly guard near the entrance of the sanctum to control the crowd. All the time spent in the queue I enjoyed the devotional songs with marvelous deep voices played there. To my surprise, while entering the sanctum, I spotted a group of musicians performing live. That’s some incredible stamina and serious devotion performing continuously without any drop in their energies. A few moments passed entirely lost in the charm and resonating music of the place. Again, the blissful experience is hard to explain with words. It’s two storied structure with its walls & ceiling filled with pleasing decorative artworks. The devotees quietly find a spot for themselves to sit, read their holy text and meditate. Again, there is no one to control or manage them. Further, we reached the terrace just to get lost in the breathtaking view from there. We were offered Karah Prasad, a sweet made of whole wheat flour, Ghee (clarified butter) and sugar on our way out of the sanctum.

The following are a few awesome pics clicked by Kavin.

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Sri Harmandir Sahib, Golden Temple – This Beauty

The Karah Prasad didn’t completely solve our hunger problems, so we headed straight searching for the Langar Hall.

Langar is the term used in Sikhism for the community kitchen in a Gurdwara where a free meal is served to all the visitors, without distinction of religion, caste, gender, economic status or ethnicity. – Wikipedia

So, no one returns from a Gurdwara hungry. Might be the effect watching umpteen number of documentaries on the Golden Temple Langar, it became a dream to have a meal there, cos it’s no ordinary Langar. Following are the amazing facts that make it more special[Source].

  • It’s the world’s largest community kitchen.
  • On an average, 1,00,000 meals are served every day, absolutely free of cost.
  • More than 90% of the workforce involved in preparing and serving the Langar are volunteers.
  • On an average, The kitchen consumes around 1800 kgs of pulses, 5000 kgs of wheat flour, 1400 kgs of rice and 700 liters of milk daily.

Just at the entrance of the hall, the volunteers handed us a plate, a spoon, and a bowl. After waiting amongst 1000s of devotees, we were allowed into a large dining hall with carpets laid in parallel rows to sit down and eat. With not much difficulty, we found ourselves a spot amidst a large crowd. Then, they served us, Roti (flat bread), Daal (lentils), Sabzi (vegetables) and Kheer (dessert). OMG, the food was not only yummy but felt soulful and wholesome. Once done eating, we handed our plates and cutleries to another set of volunteers stationed at the exit of the hall. It’s quite amazing that the Langar is run entirely out of donation from the Sikh community across the globe. Their philanthropical mindset and natural willingness to serve people is highly commendable. I came out of the Gurudwara with both my soul and stomach filled. I am never a religious person, but the vibes this place gave me is beyond any typical place of devotion. It was a long dream come true for me and definitely, a moment to remember for the rest of the lifetime. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.

A few meters walk from the Golden Temple took us to yet another significant landmark, not only in Amritsar but also in India’s struggle for independence. It’s Jallianwala Bagh where the sorrowful Amritsar massacre took place. On 13th April 1919, Reginald Dyer a British army Colonel ordered open fire at unarmed innocent civilians who gathered to celebrate the festival of Baisakhi which resulted in the infamous Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. Around 1000 died and 1500 injured in this Mishap. One could still see the bullet marks on the wall and the Martyrs’ Well where many jumped to save themselves from the shooting. The place also houses a small museum to provide more detailed info on the incident. This place reminded me of the sacrifice made by many that lead us to the path of freedom that we enjoy today.

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The Memorial

It was already past 1 pm when we got united with the rest of the gang after visiting the Jallianwala Bagh. We all were hungry by that time and unanimously decided to have lunch at a nearby Dhaba. There is no way we would miss the famous Amritsari Kulcha while being in Amritsar. The Dhaba served a yummy Kulcha with some Chickpea Curry and a sour chutney which I loved. From there we reached our hostel, freshened up, packed our bags and headed straight to the railway station to catch Amritsar – New Delhi Shatabdi Express that’s destined for Delhi.

Wait, the day didn’t end here. A couple of interesting things did happen. The first one was a sheer coincidence. We again shared the compartment with the same family that traveled with us from Delhi to Amritsar. The next one was a pleasant surprise. A Postcrossing friend Mr.Piyush came all the way to Ludhiana railway station to handover me some awesome postcards when our train halted there. The best part was, my phone was in silent mode and didn’t hear the ring when he called. The train just started moving when I returned his call. As the train was already in motion, he came running and handed me the envelope. That’s an extraordinary gesture to show towards a person whom he oddly knows. Thanks, Piyush. It means a lot to me.

Phew, That’s how yet another incredible day came to an end.

The next day had some serious twist and turns for us. But you got to wait until the next blog post in the series.

To Be Continued …

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.

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.

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?

A Dream Come True – The Beer Challenge

Yaay, One more blog post for this month. That must be quite surprising for the ones who are following my blog regularly and my friends whom I torture to read my posts. It’s Just with an intent of blogging more frequently in the future. I badly wanted to publish this blog post before this year ends as I consider this as one of my greatest accomplishments of this year. After reading this post, you might think it’s kinda bragging or think why should someone write a post for such a trivial thing as this. But, for me, it’s a long dream come true.

There is a small backing story behind this enthusiasm. So, it’s flashback time.

Mosquito coil rotating …
My early college days…

Mom: I don’t want you to go night out with your college friends.
Me: Why? You never objected to night outs with my school friends.
Mom: I know few of your college friends drink.
Me: So what, I don’t.
Mom: I’m just worried that you would also start drinking irresponsibly like them.
Me: I promise, I definitely won’t drink now ma. But, I can’t promise that I would never drink forever.
Mom: No, you are not supposed to drink forever like your dad. It’s an addictive bad habit.
Me: I will drink when I get settled and when my dream come true.
Mom: Dream, really? What’s that?
Me: We should have our own home, sofa and LCD TV. I want to drink canned Beer sitting on the sofa and watching the TV.
Mom: You are seriously crazy. Let’s see.

Those were the times we used to live in a tiny rented house in Thiruvottiyur. Now, I have no idea why such scene became my dream. Maybe the influence of watching English movies and series.  My grandpa died cos of excessive drinking and smoking. My dad is still a teetotaler, in spite of having an alcoholic, abusive father and growing up in a rough neighborhood. The lives of above two men made me much determined against drinking and smoking. I always wanted to be like my dad. But, I do indulge in Breezer and Wine once in a blue moon. So this post is no more about alcohol or the beer as mentioned in the title.

Fast forward, I completed my college, got a job, even bought an own home and sofa. The only piece that was missing in realizing my dream was that LCD TV. There were many times I bought in the bill of buying a new TV to my home council and my mom vetoed it all. She clearly did it with a fear that I would drink Beer as challenged. It’s not just my mom who was against it, guess who colluded along with her?, my old LG TV. But I can’t blame it for being in proper working condition for the past 19 years. Consequently, my mom used it as a solid reason against buying a new one. As they say, perseverance is the key to success. After years of lobbying the home council on the benefits of a new TV, I eventually got the budget approved to get one. That’s how things are done at my home, nothing is bought without everyone’s consensus.

Our 19-year-old LG TV

A month went on researching, comparing TVs and awaiting the best deal. Finally, the day before the Christmas, I got my new Sony LED TV delivered home. It’s a mere TV for many, even my parents weren’t excited about it. But, for me, it’s a 10-year-old dream becoming a reality. For the sake of a closure, one day I will definitely have a Beer sitting on the sofa watching that TV. But, for now, I will enjoy the Breezer that my office friend bought from his Goa trip. Nothing gives the kick of fulfilling one’s dreams with his own hard earned money, not even the alcohol.

Just when got delivered

Finally

Happy New Year Fellas.

Where To Look Out For Best Things In Life

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players” once said, Shakespeare and I agree with him. I would also like to add my own words to his, “All the world’s a school, And all the men and women merely students”. Because in life, it’s not just school or colleges where one learns his lessons. Lessons are out there everywhere, all one has to do is to keep their mind broad and open, to learn out of it. They say Buddha got enlightenment under a Banyan tree, just like him, we too get enlightened at unlikely places by unlikely people. Below is one such incident.

“All the world’s a school, And all the men and women merely students”

One thing my mom appreciates is my expertise in buying vegetables and that’s the only shopping I enjoy. I always believe that good and fresh ingredients are the basis of yummy food, that’s why I take my own time to pick them from the local market. We usually stock the vegetables for the week on the weekends. Likewise, last Sunday my mom gave me a list and asked me to get them from the market. In the market, when I tried to pick some tomatoes, I found most of them overripe and rotten. Then, I complained about the same to the shopkeeper and asked him to add some fresh stock. Next to me was an old grandma and she said: “If you don’t know to choose properly, why complain the shopkeeper” in a sarcastic tone. Those words not only touched my ego but also put a sword straight into it. Cos, All my life, that’s one of my skills I am very proud of. For a minute I let my ego settle and politely asked her to look at those tomatoes herself. Within a few minutes, she picked more than a kg of good firm tomatoes from the same pile which I complained about. I kind of feel embarrassed as the shopkeeper kinda laughed at me looking at my skills put to shame by her. But, what actually hit me like a hammer is what she said next.

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“Your generation wants everything at arm’s length and too lazy to reach for anything beyond that. You must have the patience and put some effort to search beyond other’s arm’s reach and that’s where you find good things. You people have no patience at all and easily judge on what’s outside.” She complained as she walked away. Initially, it felt like usual grumbling by elders on the current generation, but later every word made sense.

“Your generation wants everything at arm’s length and too lazy to reach for anything beyond that. You must have the patience and put some effort to search beyond other’s arm’s reach and that’s where you find good things. You people have no patience at all and easily judge on what’s outside.”

That’s my enlightenment point, at an unlikely local market by from an unlikely old grandma whom I have never met before. If I have to look back, all the great things in my life have happened beyond my comfort zone. Maybe, I should stop being impulsive and hold a bit of patience and think through while making decisions.

Keep your mind broad and open, you will have no idea when and where you will stumble upon your source of enlightenment.