Sunday, December 20, 2015

Musically Yours: 2015

At times, a very small change in thinking can bring about significant changes in life. For me, the most dramatic change last year was the acquisition of a Windows phone. Before that, I guess, I have been running somewhere in the Middle Ages of ignorance and darkness. Suddenly these observations shock me considerably:

·         That I can do so much with my phone
·         That I can leave so many chores unfinished and sit with my phone
·         That I can’t do without it any longer
·         That I can kill hours with it altogether
·         That I can listen to favourite songs endlessly

This year, the songs vary in theme and style, but they have managed to be a kind of foothold in a slightly confusing reality.

Most of these songs were accidentally stumbled upon but they have played in this habit of playing in the head so much that they have become part of yearly event calendar this year. The best of the English earworms are Ed Sheeran- Thinking Out Loud , Ellie Goulding- Love Me Like You Do, OMI- Cheerleader , Selena Gomez- The Heart Wants What It Wants and Alexandra Burke- Hallelujiah

Among the desi ones, the best song with each version vying with the other for its magic is Tere Bin; be it by Uzair Jaswal, or the song from Ek Paheli Leela sung by Tulsi Kumar that accompanies Sunny Leone’s assets or even the Bhojpuri version.  

So are the songs from Hamari Adhuri Kahani especially Yeh Kaisi Jagan Le Aaye Ho Tum, Samjawaan from Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya and Naina from Khoobsurat. However, the best cheer-up songs for me are Dheere Dheere recreated by Honey Singh and Gulabo from Shandaar. So are Vidya's remixes of Love Me Like U Do/Hosanna, Mere Sapnon Ki Rani/ Same Old Love and Balam Pichkari/ How Deep is Your Love. 

So, this post celebrates a year of songs played, replayed, lost, found or forgotten, just like every single year. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

A bad day

I mean everyone has those days when nothing really seems to work. It is hard to get out of bed and when you finally manage to pull yourself together, you find that you are terribly late.Then you dress down so that you can make up for the time lost but the moment you reach work things go topsy-turvy. 
Then you decide to go to the library and read but on coming back you get struck by the exhibition nearby. You get befuddled by what you see and end up buying a few trinkets. But when you get out it's drizzling heavily and you are caught wishing wipers for your glasses.Then something strikes you as it rains heavily and you decide to go home. Looks like the entire day should have been spent on bed succumbing to your demons.

But then it turns out to be a really bad day because the auto driver hears some other location and tadang! You are right in front of a very famous school in town and suddenly you realise that you might have to try hard and count to ten not to lose your temper.Finally when you reach home paying the prize, the first thought is that may be you should have bought a few lacquer bangles from the exhibition. Those looked so enticing but then they were sold in dozens and  may be that was too much.
May be there isn't a day like today when I had to trace back four routes just because the auto driver said he knew a shortcut that never really existed and because of me who should just have stayed at home lazily curled up reading brand new books that smell fresh that have dream worlds postponed to tomorrow. May be tomorrow might turn out to be a good hair day!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sacred Space

Dark, dark, dark, scarecrows from past,
May stand in green fields of delight,
Appearing like a witch out of nowhere,
Showing their graceless faces filled with paint,
Casting shadows on our bliss,
Tearing at it with sharp paws and long nails.

When a shadow falls, run, run, run,
Come home before it gets too dark,
And take delight in our sweet talk,
By the hearth, sit in comfort idly,
For the little lamp of hope,
That I put along with our prayers,
Will shine bright, brighter,
Scaring away all shadows,

There are no shadows, my dear
You are at home, beside me,
In our minute but perfect sacred space.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The art of living

You were the obsession of my young years; the one who taught me much, with encouraging words; the one who listened to the secrets of this heart; you were the little that I had to give away in a season of silence.

You took time to listen; never saying a word even when you were bored. It was real, I know, your interest was not feigned because your heart was big enough to keep people in.

I was na├»ve pouring out my dreams of being a writer and you said in jest to dedicate my first book to you. When you went away, I was lost, for it was in your absence that I understood that I made a mistake in letting you go.  

You were no love; but a mentor; yet the songs speak otherwise; for in your absence, the heart grieved for you, made you its monarch, mulled over the alchemy of a bond that needed no words. All the songs were a way of coming to terms with a sad reality without you.

Yet you are an epic moment in my evolution; one who taught me an art of living in the moment and holding a mind like an open cup; so much that
I feel that I thank you more for what you were, in an amazing season of silence.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Reading between the lines

You felt strong when he was around; as if you could break down every rule and do whatever you please as long he was with you.

You never saw with what tenderness I had built up a dream adding years for detail across those moments of togetherness, more valuable than anything in this world.

Yet you broke my world, calling a devil of a decision, an Angel and pretended indifference to enforce what you wanted. You valued faith in god and what people thought of you.

You read too much between the lines based on the wreck that you were. But in a way, some of what you understood were misreadings, assumptions of events that never existed.

And I like the fool that I am listen to your words, looking at what might have happened if I had chosen my happiness rather than obedience.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


You uttered your platitudes and filled this head with more throughout the years. It was as if you wanted love not to flow only in your direction than yourself.

You heard but never understood the muffled tears, the heartbreaks and the disappointments. You never bothered to see what these eyes craved for or what this mind longed for.

I who had modelled your acts of rebellion than your platitudes,see how you have wrecked lives through your emotional tugs of war, ruined any chances of happiness by your fixed rulebook and when it comes back, this boomerang of indifference, your tears at not being to handle a heartbreak surprises me most of all.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015


You and I have melted with the twilight, with the miraculous hues that are gathered in the skies.
You have worn my reds against your blues and found peace in a magical embrace .

In this perfect bond of silence, we have watched the evening star rise and the rest brightening with our kisses. 

On an evening like this with you by my side, I couldn't think of anything more to say than "thank you"!

Thursday, June 04, 2015


You live a life of hope that everything will turn out to be alright while I hold this mixed life with laughter and tears.

Your dreams stand apart like strangers who wait to be introduced while I plod on weary with the little that I have.

But some days when I really make an attempt to listen, I realise that you and I are not that different at all, only two names for the same endless quest for fulfilment.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Alohari Anandam

“Remember the Frenchman who asked his grandmother at what age we get free from the temptations of love. The old woman said she didn't know” The Doctor’s Dilemma, GB Shaw.
Sarah Joseph’s Alohari Anandam ( Per Capita Happiness) explores the winds of change that perplexes and confuses a Syrian Christian family in Kerala. Published in 2013, the novel deals with controversial themes such as loveless marriages, marriage of senior citizens and lesbianism. Joseph’s characters liberate themselves once the yoke that they carry become too much for them. 

Emma and John Mathai are the senior citizens who decide to get married with the support of the young generation and Paul. The typical reaction to a couple who decides to get married so late- a widower and a spinster- are jokes laden with obscene humour. However, Joseph treats the theme with much sensitivity and her Emma is a lovely bride who rejects all makeup and finery on her wedding day that her niece Ishana has designed for her. 

Ishana is the designer in the family who runs a funeral parlour and a beauty parlour. Joseph satirises the way in which all church rituals have become focused on clothes, jewellery and the aesthetics involved. On the occasion of a baptism, Ishana’s thoughts are entirely on the stone-vessel that she chose for pouring the water. She represents the new generation who sees marriage as a trap set to limit individual freedom. 

The lovers in the novel Paul and Anu carry the burdens of their marriages. Paul is married to Teresa, a lesbian who is forced to marry him. Anu struggles to bear the weight of her loveless marriage with Cherian. When the idealistic Paul meets the dreamer Anu, they feel a strange comfort and are drawn towards the lovelight that they see in each other’s eyes. As Paul says:

“There are people who become happy with the little that they have...both among men and women. Not just that, the majority is like that. They try to unravel the knots of this world. Small achievements make them happy. Small losses hurt them a lot. Their longings for love are of a shallow nature. But there are people who seek themselves in their mates. They need a life of deep love. For them, marriage is a failure, if the lover doesn’t complement their mind, body, intellect and emotions. It is not necessary to have such a relationship within marriage and that’s when you seek another relationship” (Free Translation). 

Joseph's novel Alohari Anandam, celebrates the joy of living and individualism. Through her beautiful and lyrical evocation of the Song of Songs, she recreates love as a Garden of Eden shared by those who want to experience the happiness of being fully alive, emotionally, spiritually and physically. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015


You have always held me back;  with your words, your written and unwritten rules, your opinions on everything, teaching me to lose again and again rather than win.

You have never given me breathing space; instead choked whatever breath I let out, holding me by the neck so much that in your absence, my words were like a fountain.

On days, when you are away, your voice enquire in subtle tones whether I have missed you day or night; and I answer that I have found my sacred space again.

Even the walls don’t hold me back any longer; the sunrises and sunsets looked splendid in the vantage point that I had, of being a demigod in my solitude.

But these days are past now; it’s again time to relearn your rules, your language and your way of thinking; do nothing except what you say; it’s time to go home.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Of Libraries and Library Books

For me, library visits mean a lot as can be seen from my trademark huge bags that can carry huge tomes and a slight damage to the right shoulder from carrying them around regularly. So are the constant mind-fogs that come from having too many things on the mind such as the home and the heart, the things to buy and the things to get rid of. 

Libraries and I have a long history of events- finding them, losing them, misplacing them and of reading them so much at the cost of eyesight and a sense of reality. When I was doing my M.Phil, I had placed a book on the Automatic Book Return Kiosk in the Central Library, only the find that the machine refused to read the book and it was a kind-looking staff who enlightened me that the book belonged to the College Library and not to the Central Library. 

I had my excuse that I was juggling a baby, a thesis and a household and that it was difficult to keep track of all the library books that I had taken. Those were the days of the late returns and heavy dues and mind-fogs resulting from having too much on my hands. 

It was in the same library that I had a spat with a guy who formed a new parallel queue for a pretty little thing and called my attention to it, when I have been standing in a straight queue for around fifteen minutes. However, I was too embarrassed after my mercurial outburst, that too in English that I had not gone to the library for a few months.  

For someone who spends a good deal of time in the library, it is at times a little disappointing to see a new notice on fresh arrivals: “Writing or marking on books is a punishable offence”. On seeing this notice the first time, I could not help thinking of my college days, when I was more or less an accidental scholar who found the right books at the nick of time, on the eve of the exam and gorged upon them as if there was all the time in the world to read them. 

Studying English literature was no fun as most people believe. I have had so many relatives and friends tell me, “Oh! All you have to do is read novels”. Sadly, it was not true as I discovered during the second and third years of my graduate study. Buying all books needed was out of the question as most of them were unavailable or way too expensive. So, hunting for books in the library was part of the routine and with time, I was familiar with most of the shelves and what they held. 

The city libraries were part of these book-hunting trips though most of what I read was books that were no part of the syllabus. Only at the beginning and the end of a semester did I think of text books; otherwise it was all Agatha Christie and all the readable ones. But at the end of each semester, on my serious visits to the library, I was always fascinated by the comments and notes on the margins made by some previous reader and at times, I even recognised the handwritings of my teachers in some books. 

Yes, I love it when my number is stamped as the first user on fresh arrival. There is certainly a pleasure in handling a new book: the fresh smell of crisp pages and the ideas that look new and inviting but a much-used and well-thumbed library book offers much more for a reader and student. Just like the books that I had seen in those days, the books left traces of the ones who had read them before- markings, numberings, explanations, critical comments and more not phone numbers as feared by present day librarians. The meanings written next to difficult words or the names of poetic devices with explanations, these texts were most probably used by teachers for their classes. 

In the present age and its demand of annotated editions (that say more than the writer), the ordinary library books on English literature could supply easy reading just by the fact that they were read through the minds of good scholars who could chew and digest the work by marking key words and underlining what was important. But I do remember a girl who studied with me, who had seen me underline a sentence in a library book and screamed “That’s a library book!” in the same tone as “That’s my boyfriend!” 

May be I am just a little zany; but as a teacher, I will be honoured if any day, if a student comes across my handwriting in the pages and recognises it as part of a painstaking but rewarding procedure of preparation for classes and feels the same way as I felt when I had seen those writings, numberings and markings against the margins made in a familiar hand. For someone, whose heaven is a library, whose dreams include having a coffee counter inside the library; finding a new book to read is a pleasure but reading a well-thumbed and annotated one is an even more enjoyable experience. 

When I was a teenager, I had read this story named “An Evening in Grand Central”, in which a man falls in love with a woman just from the comments that she had written in a book that he comes across. The book is a second hand copy of Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage and when they decide to meet she tells him that she will wear a red rose on her lapel. On the day of the meeting, he comes across an old woman wearing a red rose while a beautiful girl in a green dress walks by like “the springtime come alive”. But he decides to talk to the lady only to find that his love is none other than the girl in green dress and that she is waiting for him in a restaurant across the road. May be she was too shy to meet him in person, God knows!

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