Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rising from the Ashes

It took two blazing buses and over fifty passengers being charred to death to wake the Karnataka RTO up and make them at the very least begin to yawn.  For decades private buses have been plying on Indian roads with untrained drivers at the helm. Sporting licenses with suspicious origins and driving buses which probably have never made a trip to the RTO for registration; these drivers have been anything but professional when it comes to driving. Refurbishing buses from the scrap yard and violating every single rule in the book, these accidents were waiting to happen.

The RTOs have conveniently ignored these monsters on the roads; until now that is. With two back-to-back fires within a fortnight of each other they have had no choice but to sit up and make an attempt at getting their act together. It is not an easy task that lays ahead of them, training drivers and bringing in discipline but then a stitch in time might have minimized the need for such an activity in the first place.

The amends seem to have begun- driving refresher courses and videos that show safety procedures very similar to the air hostess jig we get to see on flights. The RTO assures that within a stipulated time period private travel operators will begin to adopt these measures. Meanwhile they will do their bit by mandating a driving course along with medical emergency trainings for drivers seeking new licenses with them.

Safety procedure videos onboard bus sounds fine enough. All the drivers need to do is play the CD before they begin their nightly dose of Bollywood/Kollywood/Sandalwood dramas. What about those buses which have no screen to boast about? The RTO has covered that ground as well. In the absence of video, the tour operators are being mandated to conduct a manual demonstration. Now that would be a sight to see wouldn't it? Imagine those hefty khaki clad conductors/drivers with sleeves rolled up and a beedi sticking out of their mouths.  Next picture these very menacing looking fellas trying on the life jackets and seat belts and swirling and swishing around pointing out the emergency exits. All that would be missing is a dash of red lipstick and an hour glass figure.

As funny as that picture might seem, will the customers care for it or the videos in any way? Whether these processes are adhered to or not, will customers raise an objection? Buses ply in rural as much as they do in urban areas, how many passengers from smaller towns and villages will be aware of such mandates?

To lend authenticity to the initiative, the RTO has announced a tie up with Ashok Leyland, Tata and Volvo to conduct refresher courses. In an initial exercise, drivers were taught about defensive driving, safety requirements, and how to operate the emergency exit among other things. Speaking of mandatory driving courses and medical emergency trainings, it is indeed a concept much welcomed and one that should have been introduced eons ago if not earlier. The question is whether it will hold any value and have any impact now.

How much of a difference will these courses make to the driver’s conscience? How many of these private bus drivers actually approach the RTOs personally for the license? Of the few who do, how many will not creep a few notes into the officers pocket and whistle their way out? While these steps are being taken, how will they be measured? Karnataka alone boasts of a fleet of over 8000 government buses. There is an equal or greater number of private buses out there that drive on interstate as well as intrastate routes, how will the office be able to monitor the adherence to the rules and the impact they cause?

So the RTO must be quite happy with the press announcement. Conjuring two “revolutionary” measures out of thin air is no mean joke. While they party and rejoice, there is (yet) another question that bothers the worried mind – what about controls on the cargo that these buses carry each day? The amount of baggage they carry other than that belonging to passengers is humongous and tends to take a toll on the infrastructure available to carry the load. Or is that not supposed to be dangerous enough to cause disasters that can kill?
Pessimist as it might sound, these are questions that exist and continue to remain unanswered.

Not to be left out from the limelight, travel portal has decided to pitch in as well.  The CEO claims that each travel operator seeking to register with the portal undergoes a background check on aspects such as the availability of an emergency exit and a first aid box. Unless they meet Redbus’s qualification criteria they will not be allowed on board. Users are also being urged to leave reviews and ratings on how their journey had been; if the driver was rash etc. Taking it a step forward Redbus now intends to track the driving speeds through GPS enabled phones belonging to the passengers. On paper it does sound too good to be true but once those journeys begin will the bus operators allow such monitoring to happen?

Karnataka RTO seems to have finally woken up, but have the rest of the RTOs across the country? Private bus operators are in large numbers all across and flout rules everywhere. A bus inferno can happen anywhere just as it did here.

Regardless of whether the action taken by Karnataka will create an impact or not, it would be meaningless in the larger scheme of things if other RTOs do not learn their lesson and begin taking such measures proactively. Equally hollow it would be if the very drivers in question did not take the initiatives seriously and begin to lead a new life as far as driving on the roads is concerned. 

The value of life in this populous country has always been suspect. Despite the pessimism which questions the sustainability of any initiative taken to protect life, the steps are always welcomed with open arms with the hope that things will work out for the better and optimism will rise out of the ashes of such incidents... 
If only it would.

Top post on, the community of Indian Bloggers

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Lesson From Life

Sarita was elated. Her students had performed extremely well in the mid terms. Hours of revision and practice seemed to have paid off.  Feeling satisfied she glanced through the student list not at all surprised by the name that showed right at the top. Radha had excelled beyond her expectations… yet again, scoring full marks in almost all subjects. It was tough to expect anything but the best from this girl, she thought. She wasn't alone; every teacher that taught the 7th standard held a high opinion of Radha. She was the apple of every teacher’s eye.

It was a year since Sarita had joined the school as a Maths and Science teacher. Her first class as class teacher of “7th A” had left a lasting impression on her mind and a reason to look forward to her teaching career. Radha had stood out right from the word go. Smart and immaculately dressed, she was a model student. Excellent in studies and extra-curricular activities, her IQ kept all teachers on the toes. A scholarship winner, she not only scored well but also motivated her class mates to do better. To cut a long story short, she was the all rounder every school yearned to have. For the first time in her twenty year career, Sarita had developed a soft corner for a student.

The school bell rang, shaking her out of her thoughts. It was time to announce the results to the students. She picked up the report cards and walked into the classroom, making the noise turn into pin drop silence. Sarita looked around and broke into a broad smile, making the class heave a sigh of relief. “The results mustn't be that bad”… the same thought ran across everybody’s minds. The announcement of who had topped the class came as no surprise to them; instead they screamed their voices hoarse and clapped till their hands hurt when Radha went up to collect her report. She was a quiet girl who kept to herself but was loved by everybody.

With the exam tension now a matter of the past, students had begun to let loose with the sports day events. Class races, drills, march past and pyramids were the focus of everyone’s attention and studies had taken a back seat. Radha excelled once again, winning the class race, the Long Jump and the Javelin throw. This time she raised the bar with surprise wins in High Jump and Shot Put as well.

Convinced that she was witnessing perfection at the age of 12, Sarita marveled at her abilities and decided she would nominate Radha for an international Science symposium to be held in Chicago USA. After the Sports Day fever had died out, she called Radha to the staff room after school hours and said “Radha, you have been performing extremely well in both studies as well as outdoor activities. You must have heard of the Science Symposium being held in Chicago, I want you to participate. I will work with you through this project; I am sure we will win. There is nobody other than you who can win this for us”. Expectantly she waited for Radha’s response and was taken aback when she got none. After what seemed like eternity Radha spoke up slowly “ Maam, I appreciate the confidence you have shown in me however I don’t think I can take this up”.  She sighed and without any warning ran out of the staff room.

Bewildered, Sarita wondered “what could be the problem? She is so smart, wonder what the problem is…”. Days went by and the incident was soon forgotten. It was the end of the term and the school picnic was round the corner. Each student had to contribute Rs 100 and parents had to provide a dish for the lunch. After making the announcement, Sarita was leaving the classroom when Radha walked up and said “Maam, I will not be able to come for the picnic, please excuse me”. No amount of cajoling could convince her; finally Sarita gave up and walked away with a disturbed mind that kept mulling over Radha’s behavior.

It was the weekend but nothing could relax Sarita’s mind. She kept thinking of Radha and her behavior. Unable to think straight, she decided to visit the beach, something she had not done in a long time. The waves crashing against the rocks had a calming effect on her; she doodled on the wet sands; Radha playing strongly on her mind. At a distance she could see the silhouette of a girl selling flowers to the women on the beach. “That girl looks to be the same age as my students and here she is selling flowers… what a life” she thought, turning back to face the endless blue that lay in front of her. Suddenly there was a tap on her shoulders and she heard a voice “Madam, will you buy my flowers? It is the last garland, if I sell this I can go home to do my homework”. The voice was familiar but she could not believe her ears. She turned around and stared into the eyes of her star student; the all rounder she was so proud off. With a gasp Radha ran away towards an older lady dressed in a patched Sari sitting with a basket of flowers. Together they briskly walked away into the growing darkness, not once looking back.

Tears welled in Sarita’s eyes as realization dawned and all her confusion from the past few months faded away. The scholarship, the denials to go for picnics… everything started to make sense. She stared at her student until she became but a dot in the crowd. She had raised the bar beyond studies and extracurricular activities... this time she raised the bar with her attitude for perfection in an otherwise imperfect life. 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. This time the entry had to contain, ‘This time, she raised the bar…’

Thursday, November 21, 2013

An Active India… A Stronger India

There was a time when children played out in the open without any qualms of falling sick. They danced in the rains and splashed mud all around, building castles on the beach and playing “gilli-danda” or “lagori” on the streets. Childhood memories were made of laughter and mischief and not of common colds and flus. That was the time of our grandpas and grandmas, a time when immunity was at its high, not to be dithered by weather changes, mosquitoes and flies.

That was a time that is now steadily disappearing into the past; never to come back again.
As newer generations take birth, childhood is getting redefined. Evenings are made of iPad games and television shows while Cycling, Cricket and Football are being left behind. A slight drizzle or winds that howl now and then are reason enough for children to stay back at home glued to their screens. Add to it a healthy dose of fries and smileys and evenings turn from good to perfect for them. Happy and gay this armchair childhood might make them feel, but something will always stay amiss; something that is adding to the lines on every parent’s forehead today – Immunity and resistance to illnesses.

The slightest weather change or play in the rain leads to sneezes followed by high temperatures. Cold and Flu’s are on the rise; so are typhoid, hand, foot and mouth and the likes. If pollution gets added to this unhealthy mix consider your fate cemented for the downfall. Viruses and bacteria are growing in abundance, laughing away as their attacks get more vicious than ever. All we can do is sit back helplessly and watch as our younger generation fails to garner the immunity they require to keep these organisms at bay.

There are many factors contributing to this; most pertinent being a decreasing interest in outdoor activities and increasing effect of fast food and an imbalanced diet.

Healthier diet: pray what can that mean?
In earlier times, as soon as a child learnt to eat, they were introduced to fruits, nuts and vegetables along with the healthy doses of protein. Each meal was homemade and while sweets and savouries were loved as much, the wholesomeness in the meal was never forgotten. Given the hectic lifestyles we have today, time has become a precious commodity and the minutes spent in one’s kitchen a rare phenomenon. The helps and cooks do their bit, but the times when hot fresh food would be cooked in our kitchens for every meal are slowly on the decline. Come weekends and it is time to unwind and relax thus making eating out more convenient than at home. Evening snacks are about frozen “ready to fry” foods that never fail to sound yummy to the taste buds. Instant noodles were controlled in our diets by our parents but our love for them has ensured they stay on our children’s plate more often than they did on ours. Pizzas and burgers today count among favourite foods making them the easier option to satisfy the child’s hunger when in need. Pre-cooked and frozen foods, excessive intake of fried delicacies and increased consumption of outside meals are taking a toll on our immunity systems; imagine what they would do to that of a child’s? These need not be completely cut out, but a balance needs to be struck with nutritious food to boost immunity.

What a balanced diet ensures is that the right nutrients and supplements are provided to a child at the right time – at childhood. A child’s metabolism is extremely high and the diet can become effective only if it is channelized in the right direction – through activity and physical fitness.

Outdoor activities: why are they so important?
Early exposure to outdoor sports like our ancestors had, results in developing a robust immune system. The key word here being Early. In olden days getting wet in the monsoons while playing a game of “gully cricket” might have led to a couple of sneezes early on, but the child sprang up and went back to the game as if nothing had happened. Small bruises and cuts they might have got, bleed they would have but the child emerged with a body physically stronger. What made this possible? – The adaptability of the human body to weather and grime due to frequent exposure. After all it is well known that the physiology of a child is designed to recover faster and be more involved with their surroundings. Yes, as unusual as it might sound, if children get used to those rain drops and that sudden chill, chances are they will fall sick lesser. Last but not the least outdoor activities will imply a more active childhood developing into a habit of an active adult life. A habit for activity would in turn mean lesser tendency to lead a sedentary lifestyle in your later life. As a corollary that would mean minimal dependency on vitamin supplements to boost nutrition levels.

In addition to activity and diet, what lowers immunity is constant dependency on antibiotics and analgesics to fight ailments. They do achieve their objective and rid your body of the illness however it comes at a cost – your immunity. The stronger the antibiotic, the harsher it is on your immune system. Regaining back the lost immunity becomes a herculean task and as any doctor would put it; a healthy diet comes to the rescue. If the problem is addressed at its roots, strong medicines will not be required to address it and cause any further damage in the process.

Agility and Adaptability are two human abilities that begin to slow down with age. These characteristics are at their prime during childhood making it all the more crucial to give them the necessary boost at that age.

Immunity can always be injected through supplements however its longevity will depend on the continuous intake of those pills and syrups. If ingrained into the lifestyle right from the beginning, it will ensure a natural immune system to be developed within the body.

Recent surveys only add to the urgency to bring about a change. A grim outlook is not only limited to India but the rest of the globe as well. Today’s children are not as active and fit as their parents used to be and it is anything but a compliment to the latter. It cannot get any scarier than this.
It is a dire state of affairs but the grey cloud comes with a silver lining. Brands such as Dabur are doing their bit to help fortify the immune system from the core, in a natural (Ayurvedic) way as opposed to fighting through antibiotics... esp. with launching flavoured chyawanprash’s which can attract both young and the elder alike. As they continue to do their bit for the betterment of society, the first step to ensuring immunity must begin at home.

Parents need to give priority to their child’s health by taking a few lessons from the previous generations and in fact from their own. Guaranteeing a balanced diet and encouraging a mentally as well as physically active childhood will be the key to inculcate a robust immune system in the generations to come.

It is time to begin that journey now rather than pushing it off to later because ensuring a brighter tomorrow for our children is in nobody’s but our hands.

This post is written for Dabur Chyawanprash contest hosted by Indiblogger in association with Dabur

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Last Twenty Four Hours

He gazed at the staid looking building, gripping the cold steel handles unaffected by the howling winter winds. An ambulance had drawn up to the entrance; paramedics were rushing with an accident victim towards the hospital; the sight made memories flash by, painful reminders of the night he was brought in. He grimaced; those were the only memories he seemed to have of his entire life.

Robert jerked back to reality as another Ambulance sped up; it was going to be a busy Christmas at the hospital. He navigated around setting the wheels in motion only to crash right into a baby faced burly security guard who reached out instantly to steady his chair. Those worked out arms held him tight; flashing what seemed like a skull engraved on his forearm. He had seen that tattoo before! If only he could remember where. He looked up at the guard, in time to see him bow and tip his hat in reverence before disappearing back into the hospital. Just then he saw the man who claimed to be his brother, arrive to take him to the place that was supposed to be his home.

He was an amateur boxer they had said, sharing a room with his older brother – his only family. He was training for a local boxing event and had started on the jump rope that fateful day. As he jumped higher, the entire room had heard a cracking sound followed by an excruciating cry of pain. Sirens had rung out into the silent snowy night as the paramedics had rushed him to the hospital. He had been unconscious for over a month; when he did stir he had no inkling of any memory from his past.

He jerked out of his thoughts as the cab came to a screeching halt. Home had arrived, or so he was told.

The next morning rose bright and clear but his mind was clouded with confusion. How much ever he tried, he could not forget the tattoo he had seen the previous night. Pushing aside those thoughts he got ready for his appointment with a post trauma counselor. It took little over twenty minutes to reach the clinic. The cabbie helped him with his crutches and dropped him to the main door. He turned around to thank and pay the driver but he was already heading towards the cab. His forearm flashed in the glaring sun revealing an engraving as he got into the cab. With a quick salute he disappeared into the traffic without taking any fare. It was the same tattoo he had seen before. If only he could remember where.

Suddenly he realized he wasn’t alone; he looked around meeting the gaze of every stranger on the street. Wherever he looked people stared back at him. A butcher from across the street gave him a nod just as a bus passed by; its beefy conductor waving out. Both had their sleeves rolled up displaying that familiar sight again. He had seen that tattoo before! If only he could remember where.

He heard his name being called out; it was time for his appointment. The nurse helped him limp into the counselor’s office and settle down on the couch. Maybe he could speak to the counselor regarding the tattoo he thought. He was still trying to shake off the eerie feeling that had gripped him when the counselor walked in. Nothing in the world could prepare him for what lay in store next.

The counselor stopped in his tracks on seeing him. His jaws dropped and he seemed to lose his balance, turning to the couch arm to steady himself. He turned to face Robert and asked “Sir, what are you doing here?”  Robert was shocked on being addressed as Sir. This was the first time he was meeting the counselor and here he was behaving as if he already knew Robert; just like all those men he had come across since the time he left the hospital. He wondered if the counselor sported a tattoo as well just like others. He didn’t have to wait for too long to know.

The counselor was already rolling up his sleeves and flashing the skull at him. Like with the rest, He had seen that tattoo before! If only he could remember where.

Everything seemed to be in a haze for Robert. He closed his eyes trying to make sense of what was going on and then it struck him. He could ask the counselor; maybe he could throw some light on this mystery that seemed to be stalking him ever since his discharge from the hospital.

He turned to the counselor and asked “Do you know what this Tattoo is about? Why do you call me Sir?” With an incredulous look on his face the counselor replied “Sir, don’t you remember this? This is the symbol of our brotherhood, the boxing cult of which you are the boss”.

Cult?  Boss? Was this for real? Rob wondered. The counselor guessed what was going on in his mind, he swiftly moved forward and helped Rob face the mirror. Turning him around he made him look at the reflection of his shoulder. The skull face started back at him.

“There Sir, you are the only one to have our symbol engraved on your shoulder, you are the boss of the cult, a cult that is creating waves across the country” Said the counselor with a reverent look on his face.

Robert went pale and staggered. He was the ring leader of a network of boxers whose penchant for boxing made them play with their lives as a part of the cult. What had made him give birth to such an order… and why? A brotherhood that gave an adrenalin high but made one live life dangerously on the edge; why had he done it…. Why? His head began to throb as fragments of memories started to flash making him lose ground and disappear into oblivion.

The counselor caught hold of him as he fainted. The tattoo flashed yet again. The faces he had seen began to form a kaleidoscope in his mind. Finally the last twenty four hours seemed to make sense.  

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Friday, November 15, 2013

"Doctor" Mr. Tendulkar

The Gold Coin used for the toss at the 200th Test
Source: OMG Sachin Facebook  Page
Achoo Achoo Achoo
Went my nose for the last two nights
How much ever I prayed
Things did not look too bright

The nose had reddened
And the throat had betrayed
The head went heavy
And the temperature astray

Hot & Sour and Sweet Corn
Piping hot soups were in galore
I gargled through the night
Fighting the virus with a furore

Why take the trouble one would say
Cold and Fever are the order of the day
Aye Aye my head would usually nod
Had today not been November 15th
The day of the cricketing God

So out came the tissues
With Cough Syrup and Tabs
As I popped them all in
To watch the Little Master bat

For Colds come and Fevers go
And falling sick is a regularity
But watching the Maestro one last time
Will be my memory for Posterity

Monday, November 11, 2013

Aata Majhi Satakli!

It was a boring Sunday night made exciting by the time spent flicking the remote buttons. There was not a single season that we hadn't already seen nor was the reality in the shows as real as we would like it to be. To make matters worse, the movies on air seemed worse than Krrish 3. With not much of a choice and even lesser to lose we decided to spend some “quality” time watching Himmatwala. That’s how bored we were.

Initially we thought it was the 1983 moving starring Jeetendra. We were more than eager to jump into the time machine and experience those village fights, evil zamindars and munshijis and emotional Mas who cry rivers of tears each time their invincible son is hit with the local goon’s lathi. Joining the bandwagon would be the oppressed behans and the heroines with their thumkas, dancing around trees and in melas, not particularly in that order.  

It turned out to be the 2013 remake, with Ajay Devgan flexing his brawny muscles and Tamannah venturing into big bold Bollywood with a yesteryear remake.  Given how boring our night already had been, this dampener was not all that surprising. However the optimist in us saw the silver lining that was vehemently shying away from any little sanity we had left last night. Ajay Devgan was known for his powerful and intense roles in Zakhm and Hum Dil De ChukeSanam. He would have definitely breathed in some freshness into this role, wouldn’t he? He would surely be better than Jeetendra. With that thought planted firm into our minds we relaxed against the cushions, put our feet up in the air and began munching the popcorn.

Our optimism did not last long. Twenty minutes into the movie and we had already begun feeling the absence of good old Jeetendra in his made to fit white trousers. Those (in) famous snowy white shoes that I couldn't stand sight of at one time were drearily being missed right now. I was mentally taking back all the sarcasm that I might have let out in the past about this particular Kapoor.

Yes, those fights, the cunning saala, the cruel zamindar and the Ma clad in all white were all there. So was the vulnerable behan screaming “bachaao” and the Zamindar’s feisty beti going all demure and innocent on meeting the Himmatwala. But the charm and rustiness so characteristic of the eighties was entirely missing.  No doubt Ajay looked as much the Hero, but the style that is characteristic of Jeetendra was nowhere to be seen. Tamannah looked very much at home in the apasara outfits but could in no way match the screen presence that Sridevi had. Mahesh Manjrekar probably snarled his best for this shoot but his feet were too small to fit into the shoes the Late Amjad Khan left behind. Leela Jumani as the behan need not even be spoken about, there are few who can match Swaroop Sampat’s innocence and simplicity, Leela surely is not one of them. Paresh Rawal would have been the only saving grace for the remake if any, had he not decided to ape Kader Khan instead of using his own versatility.

Last and equally bad were the songs. If dancing on huge drums coated with holi colours made us roll our eyes then, they made us wish for a fast forward button on the remote now. The lesser said about the music the better, esp. the remixed scores.

We couldn't get through the entire three hours. It was plain impossible to do so. Watching the actor who gave us “Zakhm”, doing this movie had begun to hurt a lot more than expected. No doubt the original was gaudy but it somehow seemed less garish after watching the remake. Even an item number could not pep this one up.

There was only one thing that could salvage whatever was left of my Sunday night- I picked up a PG Wodehouse to curl in bed with. 

Friday, November 08, 2013

Forever Yours

It was hate at first sight; that was the emotion I felt when I first met him. Lazy, satirical, a dreamer with a wicked sense of humour, he was everything I wasn't.  I had an obsession for cleanliness and control while he found peace in madness and chaos. To cut a long story short, if he was chalk then I was cheese.
He had fit like a glove with the rest of my group. Since the day he had tagged along with his cousin, our friend, he had hit it off. It was impossible not to like him they said, all their reasoning falling deaf on my ears.  He must have realized my hostility; nothing else could explain the twinkle I saw in his eyes each time he looked at me.
Much to my dislike we had many an interest in common. I loved to shuttle a rally while he enjoyed smashing the shuttle. I found peace in penning my musings while he was known to be a witty blogger.  Privately I loved his writing style but shunned his work in public. My explicit rebuttal was met with a nonchalance that exasperated me beyond measure. He found tremendous joy in cementing my feelings, not giving any importance when I expected some. He seemed to enjoy seeing me twiddle and twitch and was thoroughly amused by the effect he had on me.

I was a sucker for good old fashioned romance, having seen the “platinum day of love” advertisement I wished it would come true for me.  He ridiculed the concept of fairy tale romance and falling in love, laughing at my Mills-&-Boons-like behavior as he liked to call it.

We would have continued to be at logger heads had it not been for the trip to Maui, Hawaii the group was planning for the thanksgiving weekend. The romantic in me loved the idea of visiting the Island, well I could ignore his presence and have a fun time, I thought.

Swaying palms and molten sunsets set the mood in Maui. We began our three day trip with a drive on the ‘Road to Hana’ – a picturesque drive through what seemed like heaven on earth, an unforgettable journey to say the least. I noticed he had gone quiet since we landed in Hawaii, I didn't have to try very hard to avoid him, he had taken it onto himself to do so… there was something amiss I could sense but was unable to place a finger on it.

We spent day two exploring the beaches that dotted the coastline and ending it with a mesmerizing Luau.  The soulful Hawaiian music filled the air as we watched the dancers bring the lyrics to life. I glanced around feeling happy and content only to meet those emerald green eyes that looked away each time our gazes met. What was wrong with me I wondered, here he was staying away from my path, yet I was filled with a feeling of emptiness.

On the final day we made the much awaited trip to Haleakalā, the shield volcano that made up 75% of Maui’s map.  Having heard much about the Haleakalā sunrise we set off at 3 AM to arrive in time to herald in the new day.

The sunrise was known to be sacred in Maui; I could feel the sanctity as soon as we reached. I was overwhelmed by the sight that greeted us at the grand summit overlooking the crater like valley. The temperature was hovering around freezing but the mesmerizing view in front of us took our minds off the biting cold. It was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. All went quiet, taking in the beauty of what lay in front of us, esp. he who seemed lost in his own world. Once again that unknown feeling tried to make its way into my mind, I brushed it off.

The Celestial Canvas at Haleakalā
As the time for sunrise drew close, the sky was lit with a hue of colours that left me awestruck. My childhood bedtime stories then came to life as I saw the morning star rise over the horizon triggering off the morning chant recital by the forest ranger. The purple haze of the horizon then melted away, splashes of orange and red spread across the sky like wild brush strokes across a celestial canvas announcing the arrival of the Sun. It was truly an ethereal moment. My hands had turned blue in the cold by then, distracting me from the beauty that was taking shape.

As I watched the sun rise, I felt a hand grip mine rubbing my palm to relieve the cold, sending a surge of warmth through my body. Everything seemed so right at that moment. This was the feeling I had hoped to experience ever since I understood the concept of love. I turned around and started into those emerald green eyes again, eyes that were filled with pure emotion and the twinkle that I had mistaken all this while. That unknown feeling that had been evading me through the trip now became crystal clear… I had been dreaming of love all my life and it had been waiting in the shadows just round the corner.
Sunrise panorama at Haleakalā
As the magnificent Sun rose proudly into the sky, the moment of truth dawned onto me. Subconsciously we leaned towards each other, embracing and melting into a kiss. We lost count of time; everything seemed to fall into place with the sheer acknowledgement of the feeling that had surfaced between us. Friendship had taken a whole new meaning. Whoops of joy from our friends made us break apart. The group wasn't surprised as much as we were, this moment was long in the waiting, they said.

I wanted to be angry with them but the day had given me a certain high, a joy that I was itching to share. Life had turned its pink cheeks my way and love was in the air. All I could do was blush while my friends thumped our backs and jumped with joy.

They say there is a thin line that divides love and hate. For me, it had been the horizon at Haleakalā. I continued to hold his hand, the feeling as magical as the sunrise had been. From here on our anniversary could only be celebrated with Platinum, nothing else could surpass the molten gold that symbolized the beginning of this eternal relationship. Yes, this was my platinum day of love.

Note: This post is written for The Platinum day of love contest hosted by Indiblogger in association with

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Just Cannot Shake It Off!

Let’s face it; we all love them and can never let them go. Not even when Mamma’s glares follow us all around the house and the supposedly better half wonders why s/he married us at all.  You place your bets but never let the stakes be too high, knowing the probability of losing are 1 almost all the time.

Try as I might; I cannot stop myself from raising that disobedient brow when I come across them nor can I get rid of the sheepish grin when eyes roll at mine. Habits! - Some endearing, many nagging while others frustrating. If life was a departmental store, there would be many shoppers claiming ownership to one or more. I am sure they would come in different colours and sizes, adding spice and zest to our otherwise boring lives.
Source: Alter

Size “XS and S”, Colour “Pink”- those quirky charming little behaviours that make u go awwwww. They are usually available in small sizes, do not take up much space,but have enough top of the mind recall. If you enjoy licking the cream instead of mixing it with the coffee, you will be greeted with smiles here. Twiddle the thumb every time you are impatient, then this section is for you. If rocking that left leg each time you are nervous make the entire room go tremble and clenching your fists when you break into peals of laughter sends your friends rolling on the floor then you have come to the right place. You can match your bras and panties to the shade for every mood and buy those mismatched socks to wear every day and no one will raise more than a brow. I promise.

Size “M” and sometimes “XS and S”, Colour “Amber” – that pesky brattiness that makes you want to pull your hair out comes in slightly bigger sizes given the effect they have on everyone. If you feel leaving a few drops behind in your tea cup adds to its daintiness and not just wastage, then this is where you feel at home. Paying with lovingly crumpled notes might seem crazy to your local grocer esp. when he needs to literally iron them to know how much has come his way, but it makes perfect sense to us (who are) loyal to this section. Leaving your books and files all around the place might seem annoying to most, but in the eyes of your fellow shoppers in this aisle, they form kaleidoscope patterns to sigh over. Untying and tying shoelaces seems like such a waste of time. Leaving them tied on and slipping your feet in and out feels so right to do, despite the admonishing look piercing the back of your head. If every aspect of life is a nail biting finish then you will find plenty of those movie buffs for company right here.

Size “L” and “XL”, Colour “Red”- Stay away! Yeah, these habits can torture you like none other and this is a section never sought after. All sizes here scream large or more to keep in tandem with the sizes of the pupils that come across these behaviours. Ever wondered why many dig their nose in search for gold so much - What else can one expect with gold rates sky rocketing every day?  A clean shave attracts more than a second look but the hair left behind buries the sink hole. Deodorants smell wonderful if used to serve its purpose rather than just adorn the cosmetic shelf. As much as sharing spreads love, grabbing food off another’s plate without consent only heightens the hate that stems from it. Talking of table manners, if you love to talk while you eat; be prepared to have thy neighbours sit a cautious distance away.  Sleepy head are you? Cover the mouth before others count the number of cavities the yawn displays. 
Yes, they scare alright but they are found sitting nice and snug in that corner of the store.

While different sizes fit different people, some of them come in a size that fits all. The most popular being the toilet seat. While the ‘Mars’ians prefer it left up, the ‘Venus’lings love to leave the seat down. It starts with being adorable, moves to being annoying and finally ends with world wars breaking out.

Whichever size be it, whatever colour it comes in, we all own some or all of them. Hell might break loose or the gods may descend but nothing can take them away from us. Charming or queer, delightful or peculiar, annoying or downright frustrating however they might be, they come with us as a package deal. Sometimes we manage to give them up esp. the larger sizes but it takes away a part of us for the better or the worse.
Meanwhile the glares continue, the grins widen and the brow rises higher and higher till it all becomes a way of life.

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Friday, November 01, 2013

Book Review: An Hour Too Soon

An Hour Too Soon?. by Christopher SantosAn Hour Too Soon?. by Christopher Santos by Christopher Santos

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted to stop at just rating this book, but then I noticed the lack of any review on goodreads or on the internet and decided it warranted at least one.

The title and the brief of this book are compelling enough to pick it up for a read. The entire story revolved around “What if?” What if a particular incident had happened an hour earlier? Life would have had a completely different definition for the Howard family- Grant, Susan and their beautiful teenage daughter Cindy.

With that breaking point, their family breaks down without anyone knowing who is at fault till much later in the book. Christopher Santos does a good job of gradually building up the plot, taking it to a point where hell breaks loose and then dealing with the mayhem that ensues. In fact he goes a step ahead and gives the reader enough food for thought to battle in their minds over the suspense he has so carefully built in. Finally he unveils the mystery and had he stopped there I would have considered giving him 3 stars. But he doesn't stop, he continues with a post trauma story that feels a bit forced and leaves you with an impression that Santos wanted to just give us more and more pages to read.

Despite a story line which deals with issues this world is facing today and that can find empathy with many readers, there are loose ends that Santos could have dealt with in a better manner. Some character nuances and behaviours that play a crucial role in the aftermath are not explained clearly. Stopping at a logical point would have given the climax the attention it was due and the book might have left the necessary impact but the melodrama he brings in post that becomes the deal breaker.

P.S – I have intentionally not delved into the plot as it would have given away the sole premise of this book.

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