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10 Jan 2011

Incessant Rain

As I awoke, I wished for more sleep
Until I heard the pitter-patter outside the window
A smile curved on my face and sleep walked off

A sight to behold was this rain
The shiny leaves and dripping barks of wet trees,
The earth with a melting chocolate bar appearance

The colours of nature getting unstained
The thirst of the soil being quenched
As curtains fell from the skies to this planet

The music of the skies in concert
Changing rhythm and speed so often
Creation of a new song each time

It went on all day and into the night
It went on all night to my next morning
I woke up and it continued to drip

Didn't it need a break I wondered
Maybe it was me that needed one
Will it stop while I step out?

Quotes from Brida: Paulo Coelho

Choosing a path meant having to miss out on others. She had a whole life to live, and she was always thinking that, in the future, she might regret the choices she made now.
“I’m afraid of committing myself,” she thought to herself.
She wanted to follow all possible paths and so ended up following none. After her first romantic disappointment, she had never again given herself entirely. She feared pain, loss, and separation.
These things were inevitable on the path to love, and the only way of avoiding them was by deciding not to take that path at all.
In order not to suffer, you had to renounce love. It was like putting out your own eyes not to see the bad things in life.
Ever since time began, people have recognized their true Love by the light in their eyes.
“When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.”
“Don’t bother trying to explain your emotions. Live everything as intensely as you can and keep whatever you felt as a gift from God. The best way to destroy the bridge between the visible and invisible is by trying to explain your emotions.”
“But how will I know who my Soulmate is?” Brida felt that this was one of the most important questions she had ever asked in her life.
“By taking risks” she said to Brida. ‘ By risking failure, disappointment, disillusion, but never ceasing in you search for Love. As long as you keep looking, you will triumph in the end.”
Nothing is completely wrong. Even a broken watch is right twice a day.
Original blog is here.

9 Jan 2011

IPL 2011 Selections

I'm missing the IPL drama back home. The news, discussions, slapping each other back and forth, the spicy bhel puri that is dished out every time the term IPL pops up. Unable to bear the ignorance anymore, I googled for an update on the teams, as one after another friends and family vented on Twitter and FB. 

Cricket, glamour and money have always been the main ingredients of IPL, not necessarily in that order. Possibly in the reverse order, money being the most (in)famous player of all. The mindboggling figures splashed across the internet, therefore, failed to bother me. Of course!

What I miss most is the accusations hurled and explanations provided, the juicy arguments across the teams, by team owners, cricket afficionados, the fans, policiticians and anyone who cared to venture an opinion. Somewhere in the midst of all this, there is always a few true facts hidden. Some probably untrue but put out there in a seemingly reasonable package to appease the legality component. 

Among one of these, I wish to find answers to RCB's decision to hack Ross Taylor and Kevin Pieterson from their team. Weren't they two of the best players in RCB last year? I remember being at the stadium at one of the RCB matches, screaming myself hoarse - Taylor Taylor Taylor - as Ross Taylor played a brilliant innings. Twitter and FB splattered my undying love for the man, throughout the duration of the match. In the next match that I followed, my love had passed on to Pieterson, who smashed the ball with his bat like an unstoppable. Once again, the Twitterati and FB world found me spewing cheers to Kevin Pieterson, my man of the hour. It was these and only these that, at the time, drew the light of my devotion over the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

What was Mallya thinking? My sibling says "They realise they need better reasons for losing, hence the tactic". Rings true, I admit. I didn't find their names on any of the teams. Surely, they deserved their minutes of fame while it lasted. I bet there are others who faced similar fate. There are other decisions by IPL team owners, captains, etc that are being torn apart by the media and public, not to mention peers. All that I miss. This is my penny's worth of contribution to the debate that I do not get to witness. 

Oh, the joys of being away from home...

PS. The teams, from a page belonging to the Herald Sun.

5 Jan 2011

It's Raining FML

The first thing I did when I got home from work today was this.


Fuck YOU! And you, you, you and you too! 

Seriously, it's unbelievable how many things can go bugger all in one day. 

My new sunscreen. It claimed 4 hours of protection, water-proof, sweat-resistance. All I did was run 20 mins in cloudy weather and when I walked into the lady's room at work, there was someone else in the mirror. Someone who resembled me but a couple of tans darker. Bloody hell! A day at the beach, playing in the water had not given me a tan last week! That's how my day started. 

Spent hours trying to find answers for a client who won't understand that if he doesn't tell me what he wants, I cannot give it to him. @#%@$^#&$#&

Decided to call it a day and get some personal work done. Spent an hour making phone calls. Here goes.

Beauty parlour for a hair appointment. After keeping me on hold for... let's be kind to them, I won't mention how long... the friggin' machine finally comes alive and says to me, "All our executives are currently handling other calls. Please leave your name and number, we will call you back" and hangs up on me. Hello? Wait! When do I leave my name & number with you? After you hung up on me or before you tell me to do so?

Insurance company. This call didn't keep me on hold for too long. The guy who answered was very apologetic. Why? As part of my employee benefits, I'm eligible for a good discount on international travel insurance with his company. Nice, eh? Yeah, right. That is if his fucking company will give me a fucking insurance, in the first place. Excuse: I am not a permanent resident of the country. Yay!

Bank1. Sorry we can't give you a credit card because you don't have sufficient credit history. Oh really? You trust me enough to give me a job with access to the credit card information of every customer of the bank but you can't trust me enough to give me a card, for which I will pay you fees and charges? Brilliant!

Bank2. Remember how they say if something is too good to be true, it probably is? They offer credit cards with no annual fees. Five phone calls so far. At every alternate call, the girl on the other line tells me that they haven't received my documents. The girls on the other alternate calls say they've received my documents and will forward it to the appropriate department for verification. And oh, they have a mailbox that can receive email but not respond. None of the girls have a fucking email account they can use to respond. If I need confirmation that they've received my email, I have to call. And wait to talk to a new person each time. And the next person after the current one has a different story to tell each time. How cool is that?

It rained on my way back home, could not run. The real rain, I mean. With water and all that shit.

4 Jan 2011

2011: Manual For Conserving Paths (Paulo Coelho's Blog)

I'm in a rather pensive mood tonight. Three friends, one offended me and two others made me happy. I find myself clinging to the heartache rather than rejoice. Why does a negative emotion cut so deeply even as joy bubbles over? For one in such a state, I naturally turned to PC's rather reflective blogs. Suits the mindset, you see. The below is another of PC's writings. Click here to find the original.

1] The path begins with a crossroads. There you can stop and think what direction to follow. But don’t spend too much time thinking or you’ll never leave the spot. Reflect a lot on the choices that lie ahead, but once you have taken the first step, forget the crossroads for ever or else you will always torture yourself with the useless question: “did I take the right path?”

2] The path doesn’t last for ever. It is a blessing to travel the path for some time, but one day it will come to an end, so always be prepared to take leave of it at any moment. However enraptured you may be at certain landscapes, or scared whenever you have to make a great effort to go ahead, don’t get too used to anything. Neither to the hours of euphoria, nor to the endless days when everything seems so difficult and progress is so slow. Don’t forget that sooner or later an angel will appear and your journey will reach an end.

3] Honor your path. It was your choice, your decision, and just as you respect the ground you step on, that ground will respect your feet. Always do what is best to conserve and keep your path and it will do the same for you.

4] Be well equipped. Carry a small rake, a spade, a penknife. Understand that penknives are no use for dry leaves, and rakes are useless for herbs that are deep-rooted. Know also what tool to use at each moment. And take care of them, because they are your best allies.

5] The path goes forward and backward. At times you have to go back because something was lost, or else a message to be delivered was forgotten in your pocket. A well tended path enables you to go back without any great problems.

6] Take care of the path before you take care of what is around you. Attention and concentration are fundamental. Don’t be distracted by the dry leaves at the edges or by the way that others are looking after their paths. Use your energy to tend and conserve the ground that accepts your steps.

7] Be patient. Sometimes the same tasks have to be repeated, like tearing up weeds or closing holes that appear after unexpected rain. Don’t let that annoy you – that is part of the journey. Even though you are tired, even though certain tasks are repeated so often, be patient.

8] Paths cross. People can tell what the weather is like. Listen to advice, and make your own decisions. You alone are responsible for the path that was entrusted to you.

9] Nature follows its own rules. In this way, you have to be prepared for sudden changes in the fall, slippery ice in winter, the temptations of flowers in spring, thirst and showers in the summer. Make the most of each of these seasons, and don’t complain about their characteristics.

10] Make your path a mirror of yourself. By no means let yourself be influenced by the way that others care for their paths. You have your soul to listen to, and the birds to tell what your soul is saying. Let your stories be beautiful and pleasant to everything around you. Above all, let the stories that your soul tells during the journey be echoed at each and every second of the path.

11] Love your path. Without this, nothing makes any sense.

2010: Closing Cycle (Paulo Coelho's Blog)

A friend sent me this for New Years. Makes a rather interesting read. Click here for the original.

One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through.

Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters – whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished.

Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave your parents’ house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended all of a sudden? You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened.

You can tell yourself you won’t take another step until you find out why certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust, just like that. But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your sister. Everyone is finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill.

Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away.

That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!) to destroy souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or donate the books you have at home.

Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts – and getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place.

Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them.

Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood.

Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.

Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are always put off waiting for the “ideal moment.”

Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back. Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person – nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need. This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important.

Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life.

Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust.

Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.

3 Jan 2011

India From Outside

As one of thousands of people who leave their homes and travel to other countries to gain experience, knowledge and an improved lifestyle, I crossed the seas and arrived at this island. As is human nature to adapt to current surroundings, so did I. I went a step ahead and ensured I remain busy so I don't remember what I'm missing from where I arrived. I had so much fun being "a Roman in Rome" that it became my life. Occasionally, a moment like this came up.

10 mins into watching Karthik Calling Karthik. Hadn't realized I missed all this so much. I wanna go home! 

A friend responded to me on FB and said she felt the same way every time she watched a Bollywood movie. Last night, I stayed up till 1.30 watching a movie that I'd not only watched but knew was not all that great. 

It reminded me of another friend from US who is a big fan of Govinda, now a has-been celebrity in India. I had scoffed at her taste back in the earlier days saying that is what happened when you were away from home. 

Today, I can relate to it. I still won't chase Govinda but I can sit through a crappy Hindi movie and get nostalgic. 

It makes me wonder if this is why Karan Johar's movies are such big blockbusters abroad. Not all of them are good but he touches a nerve that non-residents can feel. Something they can relate to. It's like buying readymade "Nan bread" at Woolworths or Coles. Like thinking it is the closest thing I can get to eating naan at home, so I'll buy it and if it takes alright, I'll like it. Reality is that it is nothing like a real naan made in India. A mock-up of the original, if you will. 

Same applies to the localities of that place. KJo's movies have a sprinkling of India and culture but the locations are those outsiders can identify with. Then the drama and the "tradition" that might not really be India but what is believed outside of India. A smattering of all that and you have a hit Bollywood movie that might not work in India but will bring in moolah from outside. 

India from within India is so different from India from outside. A lot of people ask me about Indian culture and if this is how we do something. I try to explain to them that Indian culture is not one culture but many. South Indians are so different from North Indians. We speak over 25 languages and have almost as many cultures. If you dig deeper, there is the caste system and sub-caste system, where tradition varies within one culture. 

I have not met one expat who told me (s)he loved ragi mudde or rasam. Or even heard of it. India, for them, is "nan bread", "dahl", tandoori chicken, butter chicken, biryani, etc. All tailored to suit their exotic palates too. I wonder if we could tailor a mudde or rasam that way. Maybe not. Maybe that is why we can get that stuff only in India. 

Most of what is seen outside is the North Indian culture. More so Punjab, Mumbai and Delhi than any other. It's Indian culture alright but it's not the mirror to all of India. Just a peep through the window. Try explaining that to somehow who is baffled that every Indian can speak atleast 2 - 3 different languages. 

A Day Trip to Bribie Island

How has the new year been so far? Well, it has been all of 3 days and nothing has considerably changed from last year. Unless you count the fact that I haven't worked at all this year and yet expect to get paid for these days.

That's just me being cheeky there. Ignore me and read on. 

The day trip I spoke of in my last post turned out well. The weatherman said there was possible rain on New Year Day and definite rain on Sunday and Monday. As normal, (s)he was lying. It rained on Saturday. Non-stop. Drizzled, increased, stopped, poured, showered and did all of that in various permutations. May I also mention that the following couple of days have been bright and sunny with no sign of showers?

Praying that the rain will not deter my companions from going ahead with the trip, I set about getting ready for the day. I think it almost did in one of them but for my insistence and her baby's excitement at going to a beach. What we would do in the rain, at a beach, we were not sure. We decided to go because the plans were in place. 

As I announced later that day, someone up there really loves me. Or maybe the li'l one. Whatever! It was a couple of hours worth of train and bus journey before we arrived at Bribie. It could have been later but, as I said, someone up there loves me. We hopped off the train and standing right there, ready to leave as soon as we hopped on, was the bus to Bribie. We got off the bus near Woorim Beach and voila, no more rain! A quick scan of the what and where of our surroundings, Kid and I changed and took off towards the water. 

The long stretch of white sand felt great under our feet. The first splash in the brown waters of the Moreton Bay assured us there was no need to acclimatize. Perfect water temperature for a play. There were too many sea-weeds closer to the beach but we wanted to play with the waves further down anyway. It must be all the summer rain, we gauged. The clouds hid the sun but restrained from dampening our beach-day out.

Splash splosh splash. Click click click click. Shower. Change. Time for the bus. Rain. Whooosh.

It poured heartily while we ordered our lunch and spent 2 hours enjoying a yummy margherita pizza from Dominos, a delicious order of pancakes with maple syrup, cream and ice-cream and some crummy French Toast. While someone up there loved me and the kid, it was not the case with the kid's mum. 

She asks a boy on the beach if he would take a picture of us and he goes, "Ummmm... ah... No". 

She orders pizza at Dominoes and we all wait outside for them to call us when it's ready. 5 minutes later, another crowd goes in, orders and leaves with their order. Another 5 minutes and the same repeats. We peep in, the girls are chatting on phone, hugging each other and having a merry time, showing no signs of getting our order ready. Ten minutes later, mum and kid go in & are back in seconds, with the pizza. The order has been ready for a while, we waited for the girls to call us while they waited for us to go in. Duh! Hot pizza, anyone?

She orders French toast while I go for pancakes. We finish the pizza. A massive serving of pancake arrives. We've finished the pancakes, the coffee, a conversation and just missed our bus, so we have to wait an hr. We tease her that they must have forgotten her order. She goes in to check. Sure enough they have! What were the chances of that? When it finally comes, it is a tiny serving, all of 2 slices of bread with a smear of omellette. 

She walks to the bus driver on our way back to confirm that we are on the right bus. The driver snaps at her, "Didn't you see the board before you got in?"

Back to our day trip. Rest assured that her day being snappy did not meddle with the spirits for any of us, her included. From then on, throughout the journey, it rained like the rain Gods were having a gala to bring in the New Year. Stepped off the train at my station and walked into the damp air but no rain. 

As a kid, I used to believe that if I did something on the first day of the year, the rest of the year would follow suit. If that is true, this year is going to be fantastic! So far, the trend seems to be in order. A day trip on the first Saturday of the year. The next two Saturdays have been booked for day events too. All of them involve taking the same train and then another means of transport from the station. Interesting.

1 Jan 2011

Xmas to New Year

I've been slack on the blogging front. I think up stuff to write, I have the material and then I get lazy. After a blissfully beautiful Christmas, which I insist on calling "the traditional Aussie Christmas" even though people tell me there's nothing traditional about an Aussie Christmas, I made up my mind to blog about it. The draft page remained open on my Chrome for a week before I shut it when I had to restart my PC for updates. That was the end of it.

It has been a crazy week. Busy and free. Full and quiet. Odd and lovely at so many levels.

Christmas Eve involved attending a family mass at the Holy Cross Church at Windsor. It was my first time. I've wanted to do that for many years now. A lovely experience. It felt nice to be at a place of worship after a long time. I had not realized until then that I missed going to a temple or church. It was touching to see that many people with an unfailing faith in God. There were bits when the priest was speaking that seemed to come straight out of the movies. That could be because movies take things out of life in an attempt to make it seem real. It felt out of place but that was just me, of course. I was allowed to take pictures but alas my mobile camera is not the world's greatest. In the end, we all held hands and prayed, then when everyone whispered "Peace be with you" to each other, in reverence, it took me a while to go from 'psst psst psst' and 'Merry Christmas??' to what it really was. Managed to return some myself, eventually.

Christmas was perfect. There is no other way to describe it. Ever since the festive season started, I had begun to feel more than ever that I wanted to see what the inside of a Christmas was really like. I wanted to spend it with an Aussie family and see what they do. Everyone I spoke with merely said "lunch with family", "exchange presents", "that's about it". I wanted to be part of it anyway but no such thing was going to happen. So, I got a stack of books from the library and told myself that I could atleast lose myself in the magical world of stories. That is when I received an invite to attend a 10-day camping trip to Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. Excited as I was, it was too short a notice to obtain time off at work and to prepare myself. I hated having to let it pass. Then an angel sent me EM, girlfriend of RVR, from my Krav classes, at our pre-Christmas BBQ. 

RVR picked me up from home at 10 on the morning of Christmas Day. The afternoon was spent volunteering at a church, helping with the community lunch for the lonely/homeless/poor. It was interesting to meet so many people, listen to some of the older ones talk about life in their younger days, the even older ones discuss their times, really young ones argue about the fascination of their generation. EM's mum KM chattered away and introduced me to everyone. Such a social and amiable person, she is. Reminded me of my mum. Went back home to EM's parents where EM and I made dessert - chocolate biscotti tart with caramel filling. Yumm. Watching the family exchange gifts in private, is a memory to lock away and cherish. Showered, changed and got lost catching up with the rest of the extended family that came in for a fabulous Christmas dinner. Meeting all those people, the chatter, the excitement, the exchange of information was so overwhelming. The Christmas dinner was a gala affair, starting with PM "saying grace", the Christmas crackers, reading the cheeky jokes aloud, the 3-course meal, the conversations... can't say enough about it. Later, the exchange of presents, reading newsletters, sharing news, more talking, the excitement in the air was simply marvellous. At the end of an enjoyable evening came the goodbyes. 

I was the first to arrive when the day had just begun and the last to leave. A quiet drive back home with RVR, talking about stuff. Bedtime. A perfect Christmas.

Boxing Day was, of course, all about sales and shopping. Even though I had a late start to my day, thanks to the fun and frolic of Jesus' birthday, I shopped till the stores closed. The next day, it was more shopping again. My day started earlier but the spending spree was on till the shops closed. Buying gifts for others can be so much fun, especially when the salary's just been credited into your account. When you toss in a few things for yourself in there, it only gets better.

Back to work after the tightly packed 4-day weekend, which also included cleaning up the mess I call home. I loved it nevertheless, needed to exercise my brains. The 3 quiet days at work went by like a fantasy. Less people, no noise, lots achieved. 

New Years Eve was somewhat like Christmas Eve. Spent the evening with BT and NT. Only, this time it was watching fireworks instead of mass at the church. Walked back to the station, noticing how crowded the city gets on such days (where do all those people come from?) and eyeing the drunks warily, enjoying the colours and how Brissie comes alive on occasions like this. Twenty minutes before the switch to 2011 I knocked off for a good night's sleep.

New Year Day has started on a warm summer morning, just cool enough to enjoy a hot cuppa. Quiet, except for the odd bird. Shooting off to a day trip with friends. Looking forward to a fun day to reign in 2011.