Ashes To Ashes

2016; what a time it’s been. The year of tragedies upon tragedies, disaster followed by disaster, catastrophe heaped on catastrophe. Brexit happened, the US Presidential Elections hit us like a sack of bricks, Kim K decided to have another baby and, just when you thought things couldn’t possibly get ANY worse…

Jayalalitha, the beloved leader of a generation of Tamilians, passed away in a hospital bed.

Amidst the sound of what feels like a million people mourning, there’s a beautiful lesson to be learned from the fiasco and it’s this;

No matter how many people would pay to touch your feet, no matter how many beach side holiday homes you own, no matter if your name is splattered on the headlines every Thursday, no matter if you rake in a bajillion dollars every day, the fact of the matter is, we all end up in the same place.

Dead.

Cremated, buried, fed to the vultures; it doesn’t matter. One day, we’re all going to stop breathing and that will be the end of that and none of the things you thought were so damn important are going to matter one bit.

So consider this a plea from a fellow human being; don’t chase after riches and fame and fortune because, at the end of the day, it’s not going to be of any consequence.

Instead, be kind. Be good. Be a nice person to be around. Because THAT’S what’s going to make the difference. THAT’S going to be the legacy you leave behind. Not a bank balance, but a throng of people willing to stand up and say, “Hey! You’re an incredible person and I like you, and you know what? I’ve got you’re back.” THAT’S what it all boils down to.

Trust me on this one.

This or That?

Often in life you reach a point
Where choices must be made
A beard choice or a weird choice,
“To attend or not the parade?”

A choice on what to wear tonight,
A choice on where to eat,
A choice on what music to play
To get party guests on their feet

And in these times, dear reader,
Keep in mind the Golden Rule,
Always listen to my advice
To keep from looking a total fool!

Goa Arts And Literature Festival – 2015

I’d dreaded this moment ever since I was invited to be a speaker at
the Goa Arts and Literature Festival a month ago and the fact that I
was a few seconds away from what I was sure was going to be my death
on stage was NOT making me feel any better.
Walking up to address a crowd of students is always bit of a tense
couple of moments for me. Children. They’re hard to please and even
harder to entertain, ESPECIALLY if you’re one yourself.

Here I was at the GALF, 2015, bracing myself for the jeers that I was
sure would follow once the students I was going to address realised
that I was barely fourteen, as old as or even younger than most of
them.

I knew I would’ve done the same if I was sitting in the audience and a
scrawny teen mounted the stage, only to launch into a detailed
description of –wait for it- herself.
“Who does she think she is??” I would’ve mumbled to my friends, who
would have eagerly agreed.

Fortunately, though, the kids I ended up having to talk to were WAY
more mature than my peers and myself. They respected me [or at least
pretended to], attentively listened to what I had to say and even
clapped [rather loudly, I might add] once I was done with my egoistic
ramblings.

Feeling thoroughly relieved, I waded through the audience till I
reached my mother and my little sister sitting right at the back.
Grabbing myself a chair, I settled down and let my mind wander back to
earlier this morning, when I was interviewed by a bunch of
media-aspirants and their college professor, which had been one of the
most professional experiences of my entire life.

Enthusiastic twenty-something’s bustled about with make-up kits and
microphones in hand as Genevieve, a bubbly student who was assigned
with the task of interviewing me, sat me down on an oversized couch in
the centre of the room, powdered my face, snapped a mic onto my collar
and proceeded to ask me hundreds of questions about my “life as a
writer,” covering everything from my blogs to my manuscripts to my
meeting with Ruskin Bond and Chetan Bhagat.

It was all over and done in thirty minutes, but it had been a great
half hour indeed.
I was pulled out of my reverie as the Lows, an interesting couple from
Singapore, began an inspiring presentation on their successful book
series “Sherlock Sam” and what it takes to make it onto the “writing
scene.” An hour and several pointers later, everyone filed out of the
hall with rumbling stomachs and several informative pointers.

My mom, sister and I headed straight to the lunch half and spent the
duration of our meal discussing and planning my next session which was
scheduled for the next afternoon.
With a stuffed stomach and a taste of what to expect, we decided to
call it a day and head back homeward.

The sun’s first rays of the day had barely pierced through the
rippling sky as we drove back to the majestic International Centre,
Panaji, for the third and final day of the Goa Arts and Literature
Festival, 2015.

Our car pulled up in front of the now-familiar reception and I hopped
off, my parents and little sister quickly following suit. I sprinted
past Goan literati and book enthusiasts, all the while keeping an eye
out for the Zuari Hall, which is where I was informed my session was
to take place.

Finally finding it, I burst in and hurriedly introduced myself to my
co-panellists; Pooja Nanisi, an Indo-Singaporean poet and Manasi
Sapre, a Mumbai-based murder-mystery author.

If the two of them were surprised that a measly 14-year-old was going
to be moderating their session on “Finding Your Voice,” they
definitely didn’t let it show. Instead, they let me lead them onto the
stage where we each grabbed a microphone and made ourselves
comfortable on the plush sofa.

The next hour passed pleasantly enough; I stammered not once and got
to learn so much about contemporary poetry, writing from within and
what a literary “voice” really is from Manasi and Pooja as they
expertly answered all of my queries.

Feeling triumphant for some strange reason, I shuffled off the stage
and back into a trance as I recalled the dozens of amazing things that
happened that weekend; I witnessed several phenomenal presentations
[like Pantaleo Fernandes and Subodh Kekar’s] met numerous, inspiring
artists from such different walks of life, moderated an entire
sessions all by myself, interacted with hordes of schoolchildren,
became the youngest speaker at the GALF for the second year in a row,
reunited with so many buddies from last year and just had a complete
BLAST.

Honestly, I CANNOT wait to go back next year.

And It’s A Six!!

Our lives are rather like test cricket!

With their batsmen -and their bowlers, too,

There’s space for more than the talented,

The intelligent, selected few.

First, there are the batsmen,

Or the extroverted lionhearts,

They walk onto the pitch with a confident air,

And inspire us to break out of our parts.

In real life, they’re the revolutionaries,

The leaders with ideas galore,

They teach us to see things differently,

With perspectives we haven’t tried before.

And then there come the bowlers,

The lethal masterminds!

The fate of the game’s in the flick of their wrist,

Their intellect leaves us far, far behind,

In real life, they’re the introverts,

The quiet-but-phenomenal ones,

They change the world without a hue and cry,

And limit the “batsmen’s” runs!

And, of course, we have the fielders,

The support, the family, the friends,

They pick us up and dust us off,

And tie up our loose ends!

How can we forget the coaches,

Who train the above three,

‘Til their arms ache and their heads throb,

But they can throw/hit/catch perfectly?

Of course, they are our parents,

And our influential teachers, too,

They correct and guide us when they ought,

And then set us free to see our own lives through.

And then, there’s the rest of us,

The spectators on the stands,

The insatiable, picky critics,

And the crazy, star-struck fans,

We can strive to be the next Bradman,

Or be satisfied in our place,

Whatever it is, just remain calm,

Remember, none of it’s a race…

And -above all- remember,

That there’s a chance for new beginnings,

Because just when everything seems lost,

Commences the second innings!!

Kaleidoscopic Kerala: A Trip To God’s Own Country – Last Day

DAY 5- KOCHI TO GOA: LAST RITES

I remember feeling absolutely DEVASTATED when I woke up that last morning, the thought of boarding a chugging train that would drop us off at the Margao Station [THAT VERY AFTERNOON] haunting me.

After wolfing down a nutritious breakfast and draining several glasses of fresh fruit juice, we lugged our suitcases from our cosy rooms to the bus one last time.

We still had a bit of sight-seeing left to do, though, and that cheered us up a wee bit. First up, the Paradesi Synagogue which displayed the most vibrant tile work; a true sight for sore eyes. [Fun Fact: It also just so happens to be the OLDEST ACTIVE SYNAGOGUE IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS. I mean, WOW!!] Next, we toured the Police Museum, taking in as many awe-inspiring relics as we could. We then diligently explored the chaotic Kochi bazaar, bargaining like professionals and bidding “Adieu!!” to the last few bits of our personal cash.

Loaded with antique trinkets and refreshments to snack on, we began our short drive back to the Ernakulam Junction Railway Station, our grins quickly drooping when it finally hit us; we were going home.

To be honest, as we desperately glanced out our cabin windows as the train huffed out of the station, trying to imprint on our minds these last few glances of our beloved Kerala, I was kind of looking forward to seeing my family again. Seeing my dogs again. Seeing my school again. [Believe it or not]

“And, you know, it’s not like we’re NEVER coming back here again,” I comforted myself, sinking into the plush train seats. “There’s always next year. Sorry, Kerala, you can’t get rid of us THAT easily!!”

Practise Trusha, practise!

Hey! Well, am in a bit of a hurry, ’cause my competition’s today! I had to squeeze in time to blog, though, so…

When I was small, and lived in this beautiful villa in the locality of a place called ‘Palm’s Springs’, a friend of mine, Ria, was always giving me advice to help me do the activity better. She’d scream when I would try out my new dance style, ‘Trusha! Jumping is not dancing!’ And when I would start singing my favorite songs, she’d say, ‘Screaming is not singing!’ and when I would try to cycle but give up after a few seconds, she’d remind me ‘Practice, Trusha, practice!’

So, as you can see, she was there with me all the time, ready with one of her dialog even when I do the slightest thing wrong. At that time, I was really small, so I just ignored her, but now I understand that there was meaning in her words. When I head to my karate class nowadays, I keep chanting my mantra, ‘Practice Trusha, practice!’ It helps me, you know.

Just a few days ago, I was just lazing in the back seat of my father’s Hyundai Tucson, when it hit me with a bang. ‘It’, the competition, was only a few days away! I had not thought about it till that very moment. From August I was aware that it was three months away, and somehow it still felt like that! I practiced my heart out in the classes after that, and now I’m confident in what I’m going to put forward.

Today, I’m setting out for my competition in just a few hours. Wish me luck!

Helping hands…

Hey! I’m back, with a new blog. And, before I begin, I’d like to remind you that my competition’s drawing real close! It’s day after tomorrow! Please wish me luck…

About the blog, well, a few days ago, I heard that Our Lady (mother Mary) was going to visit our village. It would not have been such a great thing if not for the time span before the next visit, which is twenty-five years! Plus, she’s never come so close to our village. The whole village will be gathering for, as I call it, “The great white wash!” Picking up our rakes, my neighbor and I cleared the place of dried, withering leaves. (I was the youngest helper, till my sis came, which was about an hour after I arrived) Then, my friend’s dad started cutting the weeds of the sidewalks. My mum then marched out the entrance of my house, with icy cold drinks. We served everyone, and they were really thankful. My mom offered me some, but I politely refused, as I hate coke. We worked for a lot more time, till dawn made it’s way to our sun-kissed village. I stared at the orange sky, lost in my thoughts.

It had been suck a beautiful sight, watching the folks of my village collect together and work in unity and peace. I f only the whole country, no…the whole world would follow this!

It had been a wonderful evening, tiring myself out with such jolly, hard working and humorous people. We cracked a ton of jokes, and they DID have the funny bone!

My dad was waiting at the front porch with Feni. I narrated the day’s adventures, and he listened attentively.

My village’s people turned out to be so peaceful and exciting to spend the evening with. Waht about your’s?