Thursday, September 1, 2016

Have you ever reached that moment when you can't recognize yourself ? I did

Bangalore Diary Part 4
September 1, 2016

For many years, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. Everything seemed hunky – dory. But then came a point when life stopped, just like that....... I shocked myself by stopping to recognize me. I have always been my best friend. And one fine morning, she was gone and left me to grope in the dark.  And that could be scary – VERY SCARY.

I always knew that being on the brighter side of life was a Herculean task. But I hardly left no stones unturned to make my life better.  I could easily identify my flaws, earlier. The process of rectifying them made me a stronger person. And, one fine morning, I just forgot how to do that. 

Whenever, I looked at the mirror, I could not recognize the girl in there. That might be the reason why the reflections never got registered in my mind. Another way of putting it is : “I don’t like the girl in the mirror. Because she is so lost and that’s not me.” 

Then, one day reality struck like a thunder bolt. Even the strongest woman could get tired of being strong.

I started thinking of all those personality development quotes which once made me strong but in vain.

Then came the next realization - “I was acting strong.” 

I mean…I was not in fact strong but acting as if I was strong….. Oh My God…..

 After so many years, to be precise 12 years, I shut myself in a room, switched off all the lights and started crying and crying.


Pic courtesy :

Monday, July 25, 2016

Her Houses

Bangalore Diary - Part 3 
July 25, 2016

It was 2 am in the morning. And we were watching the movie ‘Apartment 143’. She told me about it then.

 “I used to get scratches all over my body…. just like that. I always felt a presence as if someone was watching me. Surprisingly, this is the only house which has spared me from such an experience.”   What surprised me was neither did I disbelieve her nor was I scared. And it was not so me.

Why did I believe her? I did not know and I was so sure that she was not lying.

Her work took her to many places. She had to live in a huge Bunglow, while working in the remotest corner of Bihar. “I was only using one of its rooms. A man would come and prepare food. But he was not staying there,” she says.

 There’s a dense woods nearby.  “I used to hear muffled voices. And these scratches….. I was sure that I had not hit upon something to get those. It all felt sephulchural,” she says.

 Maybe, I was so shaken (not scared) by the whole thing that I did not want to hear anything more on the topic, that night. Besides, the fact that ‘Apartment 143’ was based on a true story was lessening my self confidence to sleep alone in a room. 

Adding fuel to the fire was her boyfriend's remark “When you concentrate on something sharply, you can attract those elements towards you.” I might sound frivolous …But I did not want to invite any such elements that night. I had to switch on the light to sleep.

But the whole conversation excited my curiosity and I asked her the next day.

And she began her story.

Let me tell you, it was not an unusual story. You might have heard lots of such similar stories. But what hit me was the sincerity with which she told the whole story.

Though a Keralite, she was born in Manipur. She was then an only child of her parents. They were living near a dam which was being constructed. Her father was working in the electrical wing associated with it.

She recollects “I used to sleepwalk when I was a child. It was dangerous as I was living near the dam. While sleeping, either my father or my mother would tie a rope on my leg which was tied to them. But one day, I even managed to hoodwink that. Thanks to that someone who spotted me on time.  The habit gradually faded after a point. '” 

Years flew by. She came back to Kerala to do her post graduation. Since the college was away, she had to stay in a hostel. 

There, she met that blue eyed girl. She was one of her room mates. “Something was disturbing her. Her relationship with a guy had gone sour. He was blackmailing her with some of their intimate photographs. She was depressed to the core but confessed to me after a promise that I would not tell it to anybody. But I could not keep my word because she went missing one day,” she reminiscences. 

They searched her everywhere in the hostel but in vain. 

Two days after, their warden informed them that the blue-eyed girl had reached her own house. 

Next day,she was sleeping in her hostel room along with other roommates. It was late midnight and she felt the blue-eyed girl was standing in front of her. She was wearing a white churidhar with blue polka dots on it. 

She was asking amidst sobbing “ Njan paranjirunnathalle arodum parayaruthennu,” ( I have asked you not to talk about it to anybody). And what followed then was a loud scream. 

“I saw her. She was right here wearing a white churidhar with blue polka dots on it,” she told her room mates who were wide awake by then. None of them believed her.

After a year, a police van arrived in their hostel. They wanted to know about that blue-eyed girl. “ She had committed suicide. They showed me her photograph. Dead…wearing a white churidhar with polka dots.”

“That was just the beginning. I had a break from such experiences when I shifted to this house.”

 After that I never got a chance to talk about it.  Though we are always together, I often forget to ask her.

Pic courtesy :

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

That house

Bangalore Diary - Part 2
June 15, 2016

That house added a new chapter in my life. But it was not my house. That’s why I used the word ‘That’.

There was a tree in front of it. Someone would always hang a small garbage bag on it and there was another one with a few dry leaves here and there, on the opposite side of the road.
 It reminded me of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ where Vladimir and Estragon waited endlessly for someone named Godot. Their unending wait was portrayed by a tree with full of leaves slowly transforming into one with a few.

I wanted to touch those trees [the trees in front of that house :) ] but forgot to do so. There was a flat nearby and on it’s walls grew the creepers, which set a perfect background for a romantic tryst.
The street used to be deserted. Pigs, cows and bulls roamed freely. Occasionally, you could see some people taking a minute to bow and touch those cows and bulls in reverence. The bulls’ horns were too sharp that I would wonder what they would do if the animals went berserk.

From the street where ‘that’ house stood, take a few turns left and right, and then you would arrive at a main road with an array of activities - street vendors, shops, people, Paani Puri waalahs’, a temple, a women selling flowers in front of it etc etc.

 But ‘the house’ was not mine.

Interestingly, everything surrounding it had left an indelible impression on me. Perhaps, that house would be the first one in my life which absorbed only my pleasant precious moments. It might have wanted to take in some of my agonies but I had none to offer at that point of time.

I would not disclose what those moments were or whose house was that but to share a realization that you did not have to make something your own to love it and cherish it.

Pic Courtesy : / Google

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Miss YOU and THOSE days

Diary 6/13/16

I was writing incessantly for the past five years because I was a journalist. Hence, I never felt the need to update my blogs, frequently. I started my first blog to learn writing. But as my job offered a lot of space for writing, I hardly bothered to update it, regularly.  

Apart from this above mentioned reason, I always felt writing at home a bit tedious. I could never figure out the reason for long. Now, I understood what was preventing me from writing.
I never had a ‘Table and Chair’ to write comfortably. During my journalism days at Kerala, I stayed at houses with minimum furniture. There might be chairs but not a proper table. 

Without a table and a chair, you would end up in your bed with your laptop/netbook.. Sleep can invade you soon. After sitting uncomfortably for long, you would want to lie down. Then, the laptop/notebook would be on your belly. Your head would ache and it can soon destroy your concentration.

One fine morning, may be today…I realized that I missed many things by not being active in the blogs.

I started two of my blogs 7 years ago. I was active for three years. When I pondered over those days, I could not believe that I was secure amidst so many insecurities when I was writing there. I never went out seeking friends for I had many from the blogging world. Never once did I suspect of their genuineness. It was their inspirational words which made me think for the first time that I also could write. I used to spend hours in front of the computer reading others’ blogs. Many lives just unraveled before me and it was a pleasant experience. I came to know a lot about the other world. When it was Christmas, New Year or Halloween, those blogs would look absolutely fantastic. 

I never ever felt that they were miles apart. You would get genuine responses from them. I remember putting up a post where I said I was not able to write. Anne Gallagher, who has now become a renowned writer, told me this :

“Speech is silver, silence is golden, then thinking must be platinum.
Here's something to think about and then write...
It was a dark and stormy night. The trees swayed in the whistling wind...
Now you finish it.

Oh!…How I miss them.

I would not have become a print journalist, had I not interacted with them. 
If you ask me if I ever had been nostalgic, my answer would be a ‘ NO’. Because, each day came with a new experience and I never had to look back. But if I really want anything back it, would be those blogging days where I felt the bloggers were like a family. We used to encourage each other by giving them awards and linking their blogs. Is that custom still in place or is it that I could not see it as I was on a hiatus.

I want to come back – blog and write.

Pic Courtesy : Google/pinterest...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Salem.......An Experience

I am sharing a small write up which I wrote for CRY- child rights and you, the organisation for which I work. Every new joinees will be taken to a project which is funded by CRY. Hence, I got the opportunity to visit Salem People Trust (SPT) at Salem, Tamil nadu. It was a hell of an experience. My write up would be small for an experience like this. But still I have tried to jot down some of the still afresh memories .

Please do take time to read this small write - up.

Salem is at Tamil Nadu, a South Indian state.

Here it goes.......

I met little Meena during my project visit to a village called Kuppannoor at Salem. Female foeticide, bonded labour, child labour, child marriage, untouchability- you name it, the village has everything.

I do not remember when Meena started holding my hand. I stayed in that village with my team for about 5 hours and she did not leave my hand even for a minute. My hands were profusely sweating and the little girl was wiping it with her soiled dress, then clutching to it as if she never wanted to leave it.

When she was convinced that I would not leave her soon, she asked me in Tamil “ Nan ungale akkannnu koopidalama” (“Can I call you Akka?” Akka is sister in Tamil). Overwhelmed with emotion, I told her “Yes, dear”.

She was one among those many underprivileged children in the village who were denied education. Belonging to a bonded labour family, there is a huge chance that either she might end up being a child labour or could be a child bride. But on that day, she was not aware of what is in store for her. I cannot ever forget her smile and those big eyes with hope.

Meena, you will always be in my prayers.

Shockingly, some grandmothers in the village were just 33 years old. Besides, many had been forced to undergo female foeticide.

The dalits of this village belongs to the Arundhatiyar community, considered as the most inferior group among dalits. Majority of them are under bonded labour for a meagre monthly salary of Rs 300 for many years. For outside world, they were untouchables, but I assure you, they make the best tea and will serve it you with lots of love.

The children at Ponmalai nagar village again amazed me. Sans any facilities, they were a bundle of talent. If given facilities, they could challenge any privileged child.

My note would be incomplete if I didn’t mention Jayam who have started bringing real change into this downtrodden community. Through her, the community has already started witnessing change.

The post was originally published here

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bangalore Diary - Part 2

 So, I joined an NGO which deals with child rights. Now, this is a surprise detour in my life. Not in the wildest of my dreams did I think, I would land up in an NGO. I work in the media wing.

Sometimes, destiny has a strange way of fulfilling your dreams. Five years ago,when I joined a newspaper, I thought journalism was my calling. To prove otherwise not even a single incident has happened all through these years.  But to my dismay, one fine morning, it has ceased motivating me. 

Going to office became a tedious job. I felt like I was repeating myself.  There were time, I even doubted, is the life asking me to take a step towards marital bliss. I am not against the institution of marriage. But leaving everything which I fought for, just like that did not make any sense to me.

 I decided to move out of Kerala. I landed up in Bangalore. I joined an organization which dealt with news. But that was really distant from ‘ real journalism’.
Even before, I started off from Kerala, I had a strong feeling that this particular job was not something, I would stick for a while. But I have to go to Bangalore and needed a job to live. So I took the plunge. And all my apprehensions got confirmed once I joined the organisation. Every day became a tedious one and I quit the organization. For the first time, I felt, I do not want to do journalism anymore.

 I attended many interviews….content writer, copy writer..But that never excited me and maybe because of that I never got through.

Those days, without a job in a new city really made me think what I really wanted from my life…

There were so many things in my life which I was clasping to my bosom like a treasure. I listened to my heart and it said

 “Shalet, those were not the real important things. You are holding them holy all through your life just for nothing. Come out of those norms.”  

I realized I wanted to travel and write.

 Where will that lead me?.... I do not know.

Will there be a career growth? ….. I do not know. 

What will my parents say? Just throwing away a job like that and doing something which cannot guarantee anything materialistically…… I do not know.

I do not know and “ I do not care.  And I started feeling light. Is that what you call truly liberated.

 Then I asked me again --- “What I want from my life?”
I need an affordable roof, some money so that I could travel. Where to begin?

 The most suitable place is Kerala - my own state. ( Kerala lies at the south of India).  This might not sound a great thing for many of the travel writers out there. But for a person who is yet to know her state is a great thing. With no job and little money, I felt confident for the first time and I was all set to take on life.

 And then came “the surprising detour”. I have already applied to the same NGO for a vacancy in their media advocacy wing and they asked me to appear for an interview and a written test. To my surprise, I was selected. 

And the first thing they asked was " Are you ready to travel?" And I was like " Really"....

“ I have to Travel”. …Did you hear that? Yes Yes…..

And I also have ample to time to take up my individual journeys also. Hence,once, I settled down, I am all set to Travel….

This is my travel blog  --- Diary of a budding Travel Writer
 If you are interested, please do visit...