Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My Valentine of Little Things


I believe that love lives also in the little things. One can climb a mountain, dive into the ocean, and base jump from the International Space Station, but that is just a single incident in a lifetime spanning thousands of incidents.

If love does not live in the little things, then it very well may not live at all.

So, here is a teensy-weensy incident. Of love. As a reminder of love in marriage, on Valentine's Day.
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I'm a person who dislikes idlies, a South Indian breakfast staple, made from rice and urad dhaal. My wife, on the other hand loves them, so from time to time, we end up having idlies for breakfast.

A few years ago, I came home one afternoon to find my wife in a jubilant mood. She had that glint in her eyes, which meant that she had a surprise for me.

She drags me off to the kitchen and asks me to taste something - something, the likes of which I'd not seen before. They looked like flattened idlies. I started to protest - I don't like idlies! - but she would have none of it. "Just try it", she coaxed me.

I agreed and bit into one.

It was fantastic.

Basically, she had taken the idlies from the morning, pan-fried them with some good masala and butter/ghee, and the result was delicious.

Her thought process:

  • We needed an evening snack
  • Dan doesn't like plain idlies
  • The idlies would go to waste otherwise

Bullet-point number 2 above is why I remember this incident.

This may be too small for you. Too insignificant. But that's okay...

What I would advise you to do is this: go create your own, small, seemingly-insignificant-to-others kind of love moments with your spouse. Every now and then.

Then, watch your marriage become a fantastic labour of true love.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Between the Indian flag and Mahatma Gandhi



“Jallikattu protests  - All roads lead to Marina” screamed a headline.

Truly, on Saturday evening, as we made our way to the famous Marina beach, we could see almost every third vehicle on the road was headed there. There were men and women dressed in black. There were bikers stopping by the roadside to hold up placards and signs. Some even held up phones displaying pro-Jallikattu messages.

When we reached the signal on Mount Road just before the Chepauk stadium, we made a quick decision – we decided to head straight. We had heard that vehicles weren’t allowed till the Marina, so I figured that we could start much higher North and ride down the road adjacent to the beach.

There was nary a vehicle on Flag Staff road, and my wife and I wondered at the completely deserted road. When we turned the last curve of the road to join the ‘beach road’, there she stood.

The Indian flag. Waving boldly in the breeze. As if to say that Indian-ity reigned supreme – come what may.


My heart gushed. My face filled with joy. I was incoherent as I tried to scream back at my wife sitting behind me – “Look at the flag waving so boldly and beautifully!” I was loving it.

That’s when it struck me. The protests, completely peaceful for the past six days and being praised by all, were sort of ensconced between the Indian flag and Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial, at the end of the Marina beach, just before the lighthouse.

Between the Indian flag and Mahatma Gandhi.


As we made our way slowly through the numerous bikes and cars, we felt swept up in the moment – of the movement. There was fun and laughter. There was music and dancing. There were police-people standing by silently, patiently – with disinterest. We figured they knew that the protests were not going to get violent.

There were volunteers in the middle of the road, requesting us to switch off our headlights. Requesting us to proceed slowly. Guiding us with hand signals and hoarse voices. Volunteers who had the sweat pouring off their foreheads.

I’ve spent a bit of time on the Science Express (a Government of India – DST project), so I know how difficult it is to stand from 9.30 am to 6.30 pm in an AC coach. These volunteering kids were standing out in the hot sun. Some, for the whole day. Some, for just a while.

I turned to my wife and remarked  “These volunteers cannot be paid! There’s no way one can buy such dedication with money!!”

Between the Indian flag and Mahatma Gandhi.


Roughly when we were halfway down the road, we decided to enter the beach area and park our bike. We wanted to be in the thick of it all – not missing anything. We really felt (and thought) that history was being made then and there – and we were determined to be a part of it.

Once we entered the beach area, it was relatively easy to find a parking spot and park the bike. We then started walking back towards the Indian flag.

As we passed people in several clusters and mini-groups, and many others who were just walking about – happy to just be there and show solidarity, we saw signs of different kinds and calibres. There were sign boards simply asking for a revoke of the Jallikattu ban. There were signs calling for stronger decisions, such as banning organisations that petitioned for the ban. And I was left with translating some smartly written, witty Tamil signs to my wife (who can’t read Tamil).

The signs and slogans varied in intensity and quality. There were masks of cows – store-bought and home-made. There were devils’ horns being worn to symbolize the bulls that take part in Jallikattu.

Then we came upon a mini-group holding a poster with Bharathiyar’s likeness on it. A Tamil poet, his words, “Jaathigal illayadi paappa” (There are no castes, child) are known to every Tamilian, as much as they know to speak the language itself. A renowned man. A great man.

Happy satisfaction welled up in my heart upon seeing this. That people were referencing some of the greatest minds in Tamil history.

Between the Indian flag and Mahatma Gandhi.


There are some, who, in online forums and in personal conversations, have told me that we (the people of Tamil Nadu) should be Indians first, and Tamilians next. I try to explain to them that to be Tamilian, is to be Indian. Every Tamilian is after all, an Indian by definition.

After all, can we blame those who say such things? There are Tamilians asking for a separate country. There are Tamilians who support militants and terrorists in Sri Lanka. There are Tamilians who go against the very definition of peace, and a country united in diversity.

Thankfully, those are not the only Tamilians around!

Others, like the lakhs and lakhs of people gathered at the Marina beach over six days, defined the meaning of a peaceful protest. They defied the saying that you need money and incentives to gather a crowd. They defied the notion that women can’t be safe in a crowd. At night. In Western clothes. In India. They defied every single accusation that’s been bandied about, with respect to the gathering of crowds in our fair and heritage-rich country.

Along with these wonderful Tamilians walking beside us, with us, at the Marina that day, I remembered other Tamil greats like Kodi Kaatha Kumaran (Kumaran Who Safeguarded the Flag, who held on to the Indian flag during a peaceful protest, even though the ruling British beat him – even to his death) and Kappal Ottiya Thamazhan (Tamilian Who Steered a Ship, V. O. Chidambaram). And my heart soared, with delight.

Between the Indian flag and Mahatma Gandhi.


What after all, is the Indian flag? Let’s not confuse ourselves here. The flag isn’t a symbol to be held sacrosanct, unquestionably, beyond every other human or humane, logical reasoning. But it is a symbol that helps drive unity, that fosters sibling-hood, and engenders a sense of freedom and equality.

It rallied our people around it, to fight against the British. Peacefully. And it rallies us, time and again, when we are divided along the lines of religion, caste, creed or any other notion. To protest and outrage against injustice.

And what of Mahatma Gandhi? A symbol of how to gain independence peacefully, he is a world icon to protesters and revolutionary leaders everywhere, of how to fight without raising a fist.

That is exactly what we were witnessing here, then. Lakhs and lakhs of protesters, joined in unity. Rallying around a cause. To simply say, “Don’t force us.” To inform the Supreme Court of its overreach in this matter (at least, as they saw it). And protesting peacefully.

Between the Indian flag and Mahatma Gandhi.


The day after the next, on Monday, things went downhill. While it isn’t exactly clear as to who hurled the proverbial ‘first stone’, this much is clear – a group of rowdy goons and a few members of the police force behaved in a manner that was completely unworthy of the Tamil greats I’ve mentioned earlier in this passage. Stones were gathered. Fires were lit. People were beaten. Brutally.

The peace was destroyed.

And the whole world called the protest, “Shameful”.
Why focus on the lakhs and lakhs of peaceful protestors who sat in vigilance for six continuous days, when you can easily point fingers at the less-than-hundred-or-so civilians and members of the police force, who acted out on that day? Easier to point fingers, than to applaud peaceful protests.

Or so it seems.

But somewhere amidst all this, somewhere in the hearts of people, something is alive. A spirit. A spirit of defiance. While at peace. A spirit that cannot be quelled or killed. A spirit that can be rallied together to stand up for ourselves, if the time should ever come.

If that time should come, I happily look forward to joining my spirit with theirs and standing beside them. In peaceful protest. For freedom and justice.

Between the Indian flag and Mahatma Gandhi.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

What I Want to Do in Life

Business photograph designed by Onlyyouqj - Freepik.com

This is something I wrote when I was nearly 30. I just got up one night in July/August 2014, and typed this out on my then-new MacBook Air. Many of these I'd already either started or been involved in some way or the other. Some of these I'm sure, I can't ever do.

But here's the thing - I finally know what I want to do/be in life. Apart from the job that I do. Or maybe, even at the job that I do. My life's mission statement for the next thirty years or so. Here goes...

(The purpose of me putting this out there is two things: Firstly, if this can help inspire and 'sort' the thoughts of others, it should. Secondly, if anyone wants to discuss any of these aspects of 'doing' stuff with me, please feel free to get in touch)

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I want to write. That includes fiction - romantic short stories, thriller novels, metaphorical essays, tributes to relationships in my life - and non fiction - challenging the political, social and cultural norms of today.

I want to blog. About technology, by way of reviews, opeds, and news. About bikes, in a similar manner. About restaurants, to keep track of the awesome dishes I order when I'm eating out. About films and TV shows, to point out things in them that most people miss.

I want to write and compose music. And then get various great singers to sing all of it. Maybe even sing a few of them myself. Then give it all away for free downloading. Just to help inspire people.

I want to shoot short videos. On two separate branches... First, to inspire people and give them hope. Second, to inspire people to live better lives, question the norms of the day, and seek deeper answers to the questions of life.

I want to take photographs. And tell stories. That inspire. That give hope. And that constantly keep pushing people to be better than who they already are.

I want to develop education. Conduct workshops for teachers. Help them to harness technology. Help them to widen their vistas. Assist them to open the minds of their children.

I want to sharpen ministry. Assist ministry workers to harness technology. Enable them to utilise all available tools. And rock the harvest for God.

I want to lead the church. To always be challenged. To always love, regardless of the costs. To always hold up Jesus as the supreme example for our living. To always take theology only from the word.

I would also like to do something substantial in society. Lobby for the cause of women. Challenge the notion that fair is beautiful. Change the way women are perceived in our society, in ANY society for that matter. Highlight environmental issues. Reduce our carbon footprint. And uplift the poor and work towards rural development also, as much as possible.

I want to disciple and develop people. Help them to grow out of their own regressive shells. To help them see themselves as God sees them. And help them gain confidence to face the challenges of this dark world.

I want to be there for my family. A loving husband, a caring father and a wonderful leader. To sacrifice self for them, at every possible turn, to every possible achievable goal.

Most of all, I want to live. For my Creator. Exalting Him. Worshiping Him. Adoring Him.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Falling

Designed by Freepik

Written on 9th Nov, 2016 - 10 pm. For my lover - my wife.

When all the trials of yesterday
Keep me far away from you
When all the joys of our tomorrow
Are further than you are

What have I got to do
In time
What have we got to lose
Right now

Is the world far away
From us
Are we drifting out from shore
Go on...

Hold me
Like the world is falling
Every moment that we're
Keeping apart

Love me
Like we're always running
To the place we're wanting
To be our home

That's all we got to do

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Every Day

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When the freshness of the chase is still alive
When the dew of the morning is not yet dry
When the heat of the sun has not yet risen
Stay in that moment
Stay for a lifetime

Where the memories you've made refuse to leave you
Where the mistakes of yesterday no longer define you
Where the worries of the world melt in your hopes
Stay in that place
Stay for a lifetime

When the love you hold becomes warmer to decide
When the colours of nature fill you with joy
When the tranquility you seek, is found in life
Make that your state
Every day, for a lifetime

When the light of your life fades from within
When the child that you reared, cleaves from your self
When the joys that you seek, are found less and less
Flee from that burden
Don't stay for even a day

Till the shore that you yearn, is reached in full
Till the curves in your path, are just happy challenges
Till the ones you hold dear, hold enough of you dearly
Find such a place
Stay for a lifetime

Thursday, December 24, 2015

7 Days without The Force Awakens: Day 7

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII) poster from StarWars.com
Since Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII in the Star Wars filmogy) is releasing only on the 25th December (instead of the 18th December, like the rest of the world), I'm trying to keep everyone's Star Wars 'fixes' up, in the countdown to the India launch with the 7 Days without The Force Awakens series. We're on Day 7 now - which means The Force Awakens tomorrow! Yeah, baby!!!

1. We're almost there! Just 24 hours for the Force to Awaken in India! Yipppeeeeeeeee!!!! See and LOL at this meme from a week ago...


2. Read this spoiler-free review of The Force Awakens from The Verge. Trust me, there are ZERO plot-spoilers: http://www.theverge.com/2015/12/16/10243884/star-wars-the-force-awakens-review This should help prep your anticipation for the film's release tomorrow.

3. Watch the full set of trailers and spots for The Force Awakens below (have you seen all of them?!) I'm sure you can skip the 1.5 hour long Red Carpet premier video though (2nd video in the below playlist).



And tomorrow, go watch The Force Awakens. In theatres. IMAX, if you're in a city with an IMAX theatre. Enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

7 Days without The Force Awakens: Day 6

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII) poster from StarWars.com
Since Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII in the Star Wars filmogy) is releasing only on the 25th December (instead of the 18th December, like the rest of the world), I'm trying to keep everyone's Star Wars 'fixes' up, in the countdown to the India launch with the 7 Days without The Force Awakens series. We're on Day 6 now.

1. Watch this fun-tastic video of the cast of The Force Awakens, along with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, singing the Star Wars theme, A Capella style!


2. Read this thorough, well-written article from The Verge on what happens across the Star Wars universe (outside of the 6 films as well) in the events leading up to The Force Awakenshttp://www.theverge.com/2015/12/16/10215194/star-wars-the-force-awakens-guide-canon

3. Watch the Cinema Sins video for Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (it's only Part 1; you can click through to Part 2 when this ends). WARNING: Mild NSFW for language of the narrator,


Visit again, tomorrow morning (roughly 9 am IST) for what to do tomorrow.