Hi...
ramkumaar

Is that him?
No!! It can't be him, he should be here by around 4 normally, Wait, oh yes it his bike and that is his friend. Can I trust my eyes? Oh yes, I recognize that jacket and that scarf he wears around his palm always.


Is she looking here?
I can see her friend giggling, have they seen me? Could they be giggling about me? Is there something wrong with my outfit? Oh she is in my favorite top.

Adi, why dont we just walk down near the bus-stop? We could just have a cool drink and come back.
Dude, Now I realise why picked me on the way, am I the pawn for your game? Everytime this is wot happens, if ur gal atleast has some pretty friend,I could keep myself busy. Drat my luck man!!
Adi, I promise, you can use my bike over the weekend. Just give me company till that Cool Corner will you, please, please!!

Arti, are they coming here? OMG, why are they coming here? I am feeling jittery, oh god, I dont even know if I wore my pink chappals today, wot would he think. Arti tell me he is moving away.
Preethi, stop making a fuss, if he moves away, I have to put up with your lamenting for the rest of the day. Stop being jittery and be a brave gal. When he comes around, I am moving away, talk properly. OK?
Arti, you are not deserting me come what may, please please stay around will you!!

Is she looking in this direction? Why is she not even saying a Hi? Did she just blush? Oh she is putting back that strand of hair that has brushed her face, my, my everytime she does that it takes my breath away!! Wot is this Adi doing near me, atleast if he is not around, I could try catching her attention.

Did he just look at me? He and that stupid jacket, god doesnt he ever get tired of it? No actually he looks cute in this jacket. Ah that small dimple appearing near the right side of his mouth. Wasnt it that smile that I fell for? Arti, hope she does stay around, if he starts talking, I dont know wot will I do alone!! No actually, I want to be alone for sometime with him.

My my, is he coming this side? Arti, stay around will you!! Arti, Arti where are you? Oh jeez, she is chatting up with her neighbour.
This guy seems to be getting closer and closer. God, dont fail me today please, please.

Is she looking forward to it? Will she turn her face away from me? Will she disappoint me? I hope she just looks into my face and talks to me dead straight. Preethi, baby,dont fail me today!!

Check out that walk, the way he ruffles his hair, that scarf around his hand, that jacket always adds to his glamour, the same old signature scent, I can whiff it from here. That bracelet cant it anyone better. A dumb Mickey Mouse watch, stupid fellow but I actually love it. Blue is for this guy and no one else. Take me home will you, Aryan??

What can I complain about her? Those eyes are so captivating that everytime I find it hard to keep me eyes tied on her but she ties me down ultimately. That sky-blue top looks so good on her. Is it because of the color or is she so good that every color looks captivating? Those hair, I pray not a single strand falls across, if so, I am the most vulnerable guy on earth. Would I even trade her for anything? No ways, she simply completes me.

Aryan looks around, his voice is almost caught in a coarse whisper. Preethi gazes at him and bends her head down and looks at him in the most tender shyness a girl can ever exhibit. Those jet-black eyes of Aryan match those coffee-seed brown eyes of Preethi, the gaze is of mutual admiration, an inexplicable fondness, an electrifying attraction, a glimpse of a perfect world.

Slowly he looks at her and utters "Hi".



Life..Hmm. Relationships..Hmm.
ramkumaar

The world of tangibles doesn't offer much for the intangibles. Need to wonder at times where we are heading to. Everyone knows things happening around them are probably not the right ones but then the only option is to go with the flow. Which is where I would say, the human elements of pleasures are lost to be replaced by the more tangible materialistic ones. To quote an example, when there was a new TV bought at home, the pleasure element would be more to deal with the happiness of a new entrant in the family, the way we cherish its arrival, the revelling, distribution of sweets, neighbours joining us in seeing the new member, the customary pooja all done in a way to represent that this TV too is a part of my family now. No wonder you would see older generations living and dying with their lifetime purchases. But the present world has more to offer. LEDs to LCDs, specifications, formats, transmissions, pixels and what not featuring that supposedly has a lfie-cycle of 5 years. Things have to change every 5 years. Attachments is taboo here. Oh big deal, you can get something better.

What levels have we stooped down to!! Relationships is a forgotten entity. Whether it is parents or siblings or wife or relatives or friends, relationships are a bygone. Imagine how one sits far away from India, working in some corner of the world to make an earning. He gets a call and realizes his dad has been admitted in the hospital. What can he do sitting elsewhere? Sit and pray? Oh but will Indian gods hold good abroad? Is that a designer Ganesha you are praying in front of? 30 years his parents slogged giving up their dreams to chase his dream. Today his parents cant see whom have they chased. Most of us are in this plight today. Ok not everyone does this, so what happens to the ones who stay back here. An even more demanding life for the parents. Most disturbingly, the moment someone enters wedlock as he signs the marriage deed, he signs the divorce deed as well with his parents. Am I blaming the womenfolk? No, I am blaming no one here. I am blaming everyone here actually. Women have lost the power to reason this attachment and men have lost the reasoning to power this attachment.
All in all the lucky parents would end up  fostering their grandchildren which is a natural substitute for the maids to take care of kids. Overhearing a conversation between 2 ladies of the previous generation "Pavam di, thaniya kozhandhai oda thavikra, adhu naala dhaan odaren" translating to "I pity her, she is stranded all alone with a kid, hence rushing to her place". The other lady says "Yen di, ennaku onnu puriyalai, andha kalathula namma amma 5 kozhandhai vechu thaniya samalicha, nee 3 kozhandhai vechum samalicha, nammaku ellam yaaru vandha" translating to "I cant understand one thing here, in those days our mother fostered 5 children all alone, you have fostered 3 children alone, tell me who helped us then".  The underlying fact is children demand and parents grant them.

Forget the parents now, how good is a husband and wife relationship. 2 of them working in software firms. Husband lands at 8 PM, wife lands at 9 PM. Husband is on a con-call at 9:30 PM, wife has an update call at 10 PM (Yankees' time-zone). Dinner at 10:30 which is the previous day's upuma heated in the microwave, off to bed at 11:30 PM. Wake up at 6:00 AM, catch buses at 7:00 AM and off to work. And this is supposed to be quality time. Tell me how long will this last? How well can even children groom in one such set-up? Shrouded by the guilt that they cant spend time with their kids, parents think buying a PSP or buying a cell-phone will make up for the same. Poor children, having seen so many such children at mom's tuitions, I personally know what a dent it has made there. Children want to just run up to their parents and hug them, they want their parents to acknowledge that beautiful painting they have made, they want them to just be there when they come back home. A child's psyche is the most tender one and once hurt, believe me scars will remain for a lifetime. Husband cant spend time with wife and vice-versa, what is the result? Extra marital affairs, adultery, indecent relationships etc and the cloak under which people hide is that this is a world of free-will. They dont realise the world was always of free-will, just that people choose how far to stretch their will to.

If this is the fate husbands and wives face, imagine the plight of relatives. Oh yes we have seen them in marriage albums, we have seen them when they presented us something. Who are they? Precisely the point, neither do we know them nor will our children know them but I still like drawing  family trees!! In spite of it when 2 relatives meet, conversations are a bomb "My son works for Microsoft and earns 2 lakhs a month", "My daughter works for HP, she earns 50K a month" 'He is currently in LA" "She is pinging me on Skype" "I hardly see him these days". See the tone of conversations. Some fond memories reveal most of us having spent best time at our cousins' places or at relatives' places.

The only remnant is that of our friends. They come in all shapes and sizes and sources thankfully. But even there "Hi dude, wassup?" "Working out in the evening" "Yo man, latest one ipod touch" blah blah for the wannabes. Weekends is all we get to meet them but thankully this relationship survives a longer term compared to the others.

My family is the most important aspect of my life.            I cant stay with Rahu and Shani, we move out

My wife is hard-working and she completes me.              
I saw my wife last night and her project completes her.

My son is a beautiful artist, he has talent, he loves me.   
My son, dont know if he plays something, 9 PM as yet, in his tuitions I guess!!

Uncle's son is getting married, I wont be there this weekend       
Uncle? Son?Isnt that uncle dead? Oops dont know who this is.

One visit to the family god temple this week, been long          
One visit to the pub, been a long time since we clubbed.

Promotion after 3 years, I am a DGM now.          
Cut the crap dude, if not this company, another one, they offering me 50% more.

This is the world we live in.

High time we are observant of our lives, people whom we are attached to or build a sense of attachment somewhere.

If not, let all of  be ready to book our electric crematoriums in advance after paying before since when we leave this world, there wont be a single person to lift us.


Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.


Nostalgia
ramkumaar
Even as I have been reading the Times of India presenting their 25 years specials over the past week, I am but forced to think of the past 25 years of my life, what I saw, what I felt and what I yearn for.


Bangalore,1980's was a haven for living. This city then had defined boundaries and the city could be spanned in a jiffy. I have some vague memories of glimpsing the double-decker buses starting from Majestic to Jayanagar, I presume. Majestic slowly presented the Alankar Pearl Plaza supposedly Big B's property somewhere in the late 80's or early 90's. Dad had a Vijay Super scooter then and at those times color was hardly a crtieria for a vehicle and I remember this scooter completely sporting a chocolate brown look. We had some best teachers back at NPS and I remember Everyday English being a significant contributor to my proficiency in English  Grammar. Schooling was a pleasure without the burden of tutorials or online distractions. Doordarshan was the only source of entertainment then with some sensible mega-serials along with Ramayan and Mahabharat. Speed-hawk used to be a hot favorite. Sundays were the busy days since we had the regional movies and other serials to watch. Once in a month, the Oliyum Muliyum i guess played in Tamil DD channels would be broadcast here. That was the only medium then of updating yourself with the latest songs. A Dyanora black and white TV gave way to a BPL which in turn paved way for a Sony. Radio listening was not a hobby, it was every home-maker's chore. Evenings were reserved for play timings spanning across a couple of hours playing almost all possible sports based on the season. Every evening we used to visit a nearby temple based on the diety for the day. It would always hold me in awe when I would see the vadhiyar(pundit) uttering our names and naksthatrams even without asking us since we were frequenters to these temples. Weekends would see us heading out to MG and Brigae Roads the only "happening" places then here. Dad lived in Brigade Road way back for almost 40 years. The place where he lived had a Standard Motors car up for display and as a kid I would gawk at the car while dad would walk on as though he had no relation to the place. Mall culture wasnt yet in then. India Coffe House, Brindavan Hotel, Rex theatre, Cauvery Handicrafts are the only landmarks imprinted in my memory.  I remember standing in long queues to make STD calls. The first phone instrument to the house was a matter of pride. This was fortunately not the era of mobile phones, computers and people had to bank on creativity alone to keep their lives heading. When there were power cuts, I remember my mother playing word-building and other such mental games. I really miss those days.

2 months of holidays meant a trip to Chennai. Packing was an exercise in itself. Badushas and Khara Bhoondi would be prepared for each of the households there. Even as we descend, Thatha would be waiting near the entrance and the moment he sees Amma, he would give her a warm hug and you could see a few drops of tears shedding. His ease chair, green vethalai petti(betel-leaf box) is all clearly imprinted in my mind. The next day would invariably see Ladies-Finger curry since his eldest grandson(me) is extremely fond of ladies-finger. One week at maternal patti's house and one week at paternal patti's house. This would be the cycle for the next 2 months. Slowly cousins from all the other cities would descend and converge at thatha's place. Evenings would see Thatha sitting and throwing the ball from his ease chair whereas all of us would be trying the best to come out with technically correct cricket shots. Lakshmi the house-maid would sit on the steps and recount ghost stories. Mamma(Uncle) would procure the latest Tamizh movies' video cassettes and play them on the VCP back then. Family dinners would be fun and we knew no reason for regret or worry. Occasionally when it rained in Chennai, there are 2 small tanks called as Thottis in our household that would be filled with water to the brim. Thatha would make paper boats for us that we would float in these Thottis. We used to construct small temples made of bricks where we would pray dedicatedly. The home terraces were reserved for making small houses made of carpets or coconut leaves. Conjuring games was no big deal.

There are so many such memories which I feel are so precious and cant miss them out. How I wish I had one of those Potter books that would throw up pictures and videos of the past.

Life has changed so much, the connect between people has been replaced. Technology has changed people's lives. As I introspect more and more, I am only inclined to believe that in Simplicity lies true contentment. Very frankly I cant remember my first mobile number but I still remember my first landline number as 340023. I cant remember the first call I made from my mobile but I remember the first call made from the landline. Life was so simple, so carefree. We never had hassles growing up. Little did we know what the future would behold. At times when I see children trudiging along to school, I do wonder whether it is the burden in their bags or the burden in their minds that is slowing them down.

I only wish I had the Pensieve, Dumbledore always uses to show Harry Potter the past!!!

Is this your best challenge?
ramkumaar




Often in life, there comes a phase repeatedly when your self-introspection only leaves you frustrated, disappointed. This blog I will not refer to a thrid person, but me and me alone. I dont give a damn if people think this is a confession or a swot analysis. My intention here is to let the world know, a change is due and I am on the move.

For a person who has a quest for success and the purpose of life is a life of purpose, every failure seems to be a low point. For me it is the lowest, deepest and darkest gorge. I whine, I complain about everything that went against me , I blame people, I blame myself. I try to make amends by picturing the rosiest snapshots of where I want to be but I sense a disconnect between my mind and my body. They are 2 separate worlds that at most times seem out of sync.

I was never a number one guy, always confined myself to the second and third slot in any and every endeavour I took up, in every competitive phase I underwent. I aimed for the number one no doubt but was always happy to settle down to the second and third. I was never known for my determination or will power. People believe I am intelligent and that got me this far but always lacked a tinge of determination. I was never known to be disciplined in what I did. I was never known to be consistent. I was known to be complex. I have an uncanny ability to carry too much baggage from different places, too many plans, too many thoughts, too many dreams, too many goals such that it leaves me nowhere. One person was bold enough to tell me I am way too diplomatic and in the long run, it might not prove handy since there are times when I would need to take a stand, a time when I would need to stand up for what is just and right, a time when the world might treat me based on the monosyllabic affirmation or rejection I would offer. I look for ways to shirk work, hide away from the big scenes, procrastinate and recline back to the rear seat hoping someone will offer me the front seat without me asking for it.

Why am I saying all these? Simply because I and others should know where I stood , I repeat when I say stood ; it was the past and the future is beckoning me with open hands. I should remember what I was, where I will head and how far I have come. The past is over. Hence what you have read above is soon a part of history.

I am here to take on the impossible. I dont care what it means because it all means the same to me. Watch out for a makeover. A positive one,one, that will supplement the dreams I have. Reality isnt too far away. Toughness will be a virtue. Determination and grit becomes a habit. The niche will be carved. Please know that I will play only to win. I dont care if I always dont win, but I will play only to win. The power of optimisim is too big to be ignored because our mind rules us all. Luck is a marriage of opportunity and hard work. Oh Yes!! I am lucky because I believe when the mindset is ready, the man is ready and the world is his for taking. My time has arrived. Did I say I was a whiner? Please change the spelling, it is a winner now.  I will be a better man everyday, my benchmark is myself and my yearning is to beat it everyday.

I dream big always, I dont care where I am today. All these days I kept dreaming, henceforth I ll keep reaching them. So wot if I ve lost a few years here and there. I can always make up. If you dont throw my opportunities, dont worry, I will come grabbing them.If you want to push me down, you will see a reverse effect since I love the phoenix. The bigger I dream, the farther I get, the better I become.

A makeover is for sure underway, a makeover that the world will witness to see, a positive one, a newer person in the horizon and believe me you will never regret having met me. People are familiar with my makeover statuses, but remember I told you that is the past and I am the present and the future.

Life presents us always with two choices- you can choose to be an ordinary man with an extraordinary life or be an extraordinary man with an ordinary life. 

I pledge to throw in the best of my efforts, I dont care if it didnt beat records, I dont care if it took me longer, I dont care if someone got there before. I know I tried and got better than where I was. I pledge to bring in the art of self-discipline, I pledge to breathe success, I pledge to avail optimisim as my food, I pledge to quit pessimism, I pledge to discard static energy.

Let time and actions stand testimony for my pledge. God will not think twice about what he bestows me and I will strive to show him I deserved every bit of it.

Amen!!!

Simple Pleasures Of Life
ramkumaar

Few simple pleasures of life that cost you nothing, that give you immense pleasure, that can never be compared with the materialistic gains of life. Here are my few pleasures that make me feel life is beautiful.

1. Drinking a cup of tea sitting on the steps when it is raining watching the onslaught of clouds and the warm reception by earth, representing a fusion of passion and affection.

2. Watching an old-aged couple talking and laughing amongst themselves sitting on the bench in the park, they are done with all responsibilites in life and this final lap of life is for them and them alone to find solace and happiness in each other.

3. Watching the light mark of either vibhuthi/sandalwood on a girl's forehead just when she is returning from a temple or a pooja.

4. A young set of adolescents sharing a joke amongst themselves not bothering about the world around them, they revel in the spirit of the joke without worrying about who is around them or who is watching them.

5. Drinking a glass of cold water just after a sweating session of play.

6. Watching a pretty girl put back that loose strand of hair that just fell across her forehead and adjust it so that it doesnt fall again.

7. The smell of rain that is so ingrained in the earth forewarning us that the rains are fast approaching, often called as "Mann-Vasanai" or the "Smell of Mud".

8. With these toddlers, their antics can hardly be described in one single post since they are so enthralling but even more heartening is to see the proud mother's face and happiness she exudes when she cuddles her kid.

9. In the days of college, there often is a girl/guy we are linked with.Eventually when both of us have to meet and if we have a fondness for each other, the kind of expressions we give are so stupid but they are so much memorable considering how we want to run away from the scene but at the same time are teased by our friends.

10. Watching a wonderful rainbow cut across the skies denoting the color of our lives.

11. A wonderfully decked god say in a vibhuthi alankaram or cashews or butter. It denotes the passion of the priests in most cases on how he wants to dress his god.

12. The casual drive along the highways that has those huge green fields sprawled across on both sides with evenly grown crops, the odd bull driving the plough, those village rustics sitting under the shade of the singular tree in the fields for their lunch.

13. Watching the sunlight pour along the squared iron roofs of the mutrams in age old Tamilnadu houses.

14. Looking at oneself in the mirror everytime we are in the salon hoping that every bit of hair he cuts will make us look like the next generation hero.

15. Stealthily using our dad's shaving cream, after shave lotion to smell good and striding out of the room like the world was always ours.

16. Watching those flower vendors along the pavements who simply keep tying flowers without even seeing them simply chatting amongst themselves.

17. Very frankly the sound of Suprabhatham in the mornings is the most plesant sound one can listen to.

18. The odd smiles and expressions on the face of someone sleeping which can never be suppessed thanks to those fancies we behold in our dreams.

19. The expression on the face of a non-expressive father who beams with pride when he sees his son/daughter having accomplished something.

20. The smell of incense and dasangam in that solitary pooja room in the mornings when you have no other smell to distract your attention.

21. The powerful smell of strong, filter coffee for sure :)

22. The odd married woman with a small towel binding the wet hair with a small kumkum in her forehead wearing a saree.

23. Watching those 2 kids playing in the park, playing kitchen, playing cricket, playing every game possible forgetting which gender they belong to.

24. As saddistic as it may sound, the look of a high-heeled lady struggling to keep her pace right does invoke a chuckle somewhere.

25. The casual sight of the towns, cities we see when we are travelling in a train or a bus.

This post is subject to continuous editing ....

Penney - Self Composed Poem
ramkumaar

 
Sakthi illamal Sivan illai
Lakshmi illamal Vishnu illai
 
Selvathai kakum Ambaley
Unnai kakum deivam yaaru
 
Vilai illamal kodupavaley
Unn uyirin villai yennai
 
Irundhu vazhum ponney
Vazhum munnal ponnamey
 
Uyir kudukum thaye nee
Pirakum munnal pogum uyirum nee
 
Peru sollvadhuko oru payan
Peru vazhvadhuko oru penn
 
Pillaiya petral kannerey
Penney unnai petral deivaithin varamey
 
Pinn yen indha nilamai unnaku
Penn uyir vazhavendum bhoom idhu
 
Pillai ya petral inbam
Pennai petral thunbamo
 
Aniathu aan pinnalum penney
Aaanuku vazhvu danam seyadhum penney
 
Uyir vangum urimai undo
Urimai irundhal aaney nee ingu undo
 
Vaazha vey penn jathiya
Valaravai andha penn kozhandhaiye
 
Visham koduthu kollum mannidhaney
Andha visham thodatha amrithathai kandaiya?
 
Yen indha kovam?
Yen indha dabam?
Yen indha tunba,?
Petruvidu inbam
 
Pennai petradho bhagyam
Pennai valarpadho kadamai
Selvathin selvamey penn
Selvathai valakum penn
 
Vazhavai penney
Vazhavai mannai
 
Unfortunately I am not well versed in Tamizh and hence couldnt choose Tamizh as the base. But I have penned what I feel

 
 
 
 
 
 

Taare Zameen Par
ramkumaar

Hmm I dont know where to start. 31st night when all my other friends are partying away to welcome their New Year, I chose to stay back at home and was busy preparing my resolutions when my brother invited me to watch Taare Zameen Par on dvd.
Very frankly I did have my reservations about Aamir earlier for the only reason that I felt he was too idealistic and too perfect and to imbibe one such quality is not the easiest penance on earth.
Taare Zameen Par has floored me completely. I dont feel ashamed at all to say I got emotional and shed tears watching the movie. Aamir kudos to you wherever you are for this wonderful gift to the masses. The movie is full of imperfections but it is these imperfections that drive emotions. The kid has performed the role to his fullest. But more than a movie review, to me it is the underlying thought process that is more touching.

Looking at it from the broader perspective, isnt it prevalent even today that parents fail to understand their children. Why is that this goddamned Indian society so driven towards the hard ground majors of engineering and medicine and driving their children like bulls down the yoke??? Is this an ego clash between parents trying to showcase their kids?? Who is bearing the brunt? How many children's talents are lost?
India has lost cricketers, footballers, painters, singers, musicians, sportsmen, whizkids, astronauts, astronomers, pilots, teachers, cooks and the list simply goes on, thanks to the whims and fancies of parents who have held their children to ransom for their likes.

Oh God!! Even when this phenomenon is so common amongst the healthy kids, what happens to the kids that are born with slight defects??? God you were kind enough to bless these children with special talents and specail qualities and attributes to make their mark in this world but what if the bud is crushed even before it flowers? Who will nurture the bud?? Or is every child blessed with a Ram Shankar Nikumbh of Taare Zameen Par who needs to get the kid out of his shackles and regift the kid to his parents???

Indian children do have a clueless future ahead. I have personally been with kids for 15 years and I know what they undergo. For one, there are the import quality kids born to the migrant Indians who want a kid in US for green card purposes. Now these are the kids who will eventually address their fathers as "old man" and use the vocabulary of the "yo yo" world. Wonder at times what does US behold that forces such parents to forsake their parents and their kids as well. Not that the Indian kids are better, they are far worse because they need to be groomed from childhood to derive (a+b)^2 when the formula is already proved by someone. What do you expect to gain by reproving the same thing again and again? A new formula?? Nonsense!!! 
At 8th it is the BASE classes till 12th and an IIT in mind, the few ones who make it apply for passports before they pay the fees. The ones who dont make it, as in the majority are shaken, they are doomed, they think they are a part of Armageddon, world's end. After that it is an engineering with placements in mind. Then dream of the TCS,Infy,Wipro as a start and keep hoppping jobs till there is an offer from the "paradise on earth", an onsite oppurtunity. Well that marks the completion of the ambition cycle and yet again God looks on in despair. 

What did he create us for?? And what are we transforming into??

I was fortunate I chose something I wanted.

Parents, wake up!!! Your child is God's special gift to you, he is here for a special reason as well!!! Even if they are born with slight defects, they can be set right, they require you and your mental support, your smile, your happiness, your everything for you are their bolster. Allow these kids to nurture and explore the fullest potential of their lives and then each parent would realise every kid is not there to just realise his dream but to ensure his/her parents share the pedestal with him at the top of the world.

A very happay new year to one and all and I sign off this blog of urgency with my utmost gratitude to God for having created this world with imperfections that complement so well with each other. I pray that everyone just gets a chance to live the life they so dream of every night.

Happy New Year, let 2008 be a year of immense happiness and blessed souls.

Aamir looking forward to more of such movies as well.

Good Night!!!

The Humbling Experience
ramkumaar



The idea of visiting an orphanage and doing some social service was always appealing to me. However this visit to Chennai meant for the first activity kick-off of the Indi-Eudokeo community formed in orkut.
For all those goddamned critics of the ill-effects of Orkut, this was one of those activities that was meant to send a message to people that Orkut is a powerful tool for networking and using it for some good purposes as well.

The place we visited was Kaakhum Karangal in Thiruvanmiyur, it was a first timer for me, Movies had given me a wrong image of what an orphanage would look like. I expected a sprawling hall on likes of a dormitory but what welcomed us was something totally different. This was located in a small street that hardly could allow anything bigger than a truck to pass through. A small slum like locality and right at the end of the street was located this building. A painted board accompanied by the cheerful shouts of the children was what told us we had reached our destination. There was already a group that was spending time with the kids. That was when there was a white dhoti spread on the walls and the children with paint on the hands had to create impressions on the dhoti. The activity in itself was so enriching and so engrossing for on-lookers to see the kind of drawings that were being drawn.

Our time slot was from 12:30PM -1 PM. Meanwhile I decided to take a look around the place and that was when I clicked away snaps of each room. There was a small sewing room where we presumed that those ladies were making a living by sewing clothes. There was a small passage that led to  a small hall which had the statue of gandhi adorning the space. On the left side of the room was a kitchen, a small dingy room that housed the plates of all these 43 kids and that was the "Anna Dhatha" of the entire household. Nothing that revealed there was something that was rich about the place. There on was even smaller another room that housed the articles of all 53 children, i called aside one of them and asked them where they slept and she showed me the 2 rooms.

It was distressing to even think how could 40 plus children be accomodated there. Thereon we started our activities, we played passing the chocolate box and the kid that held the box would need to perform something. We started with Vasuki the cutest amongst the kids and she merrily sung a number from Rajini's "Chandramukhi". Each kid performed something, a dance, songs, riddles etc.

What touched me the most was the smile and happiness these kids exhibited. The gaiety they were in and the togetherness they displayed amidst the suffering and ack of identity this world denies them. Little they knew about the outside world or they suppressed all thoughts about the outside world. The kids were as small as 5-12 years mostly and what could we expect from these kids about the outside world. They were growing up as a family and to them the orphanage was the world. Truly remarkable children, so well behaved and so touching. It left a deep impression in all our minds on the kind of crazy behaviours we exhbit with our parents. Where are we and where are these kids who dont even know what are parents!!!

However what is needed is active help to these children, they arent materialistic, they seek love, affection and our care and attention, they dont seek isolation, they seek understanding. People may deny financial help but please please do not shun them away. 

All in all as I said a "humbling experience"  teaching us values in life.

Lastly the group of people my Eudokeons who made this possible. KGN, Major Karthik, Krishna Prakash, Aarathi, Srividhya, Nandhini,Prasanna, Sushil, Sarayu,Ramaa, Deepthi, Sumana , hats of to these people for making this visit so memorable. Each took upon an activity and ensured the best out of it.

I pray to God that this continues for a long time to come by and our community contributes to the well being of others and most importantly makes a difference in the needy's lives.

Links for the pictures of our visit:
http://picasaweb.google.com/ramkumaar.shanker/KaakhumKarangal


Laloo Factor
ramkumaar
Hmm,  I am one of those people who normally cherishes the pleasure of travelling by trains and in particular today's journey was so refreshing. But besides my personal exploits with solitude, I guess the aesthetics was what caught my attention. 

Brindavan Express, AC coach this morning when I entered was a treat to the eyes in itself. A brand new compartment, with relatively plush interiors for Indian standards. The normal experiences in a train from Bangalore to Chennai or vice versa would normally leave us behind with a sense of distaste. Unclean toilets, cockroaches journeying along our berths, unclean toilets and seats that have left-overs of travellers probably 2 days ago.

However all this seems to be witnessing a gradual change. The Brindavan express greeted us with seats that offered the maximum leg space ever so far. The spacing between neighbouring seats as well is adequate enough for some personal space. The windows are large enough and transparent enough to enable our vision to the travel span. A small stretch where there was a tank on the left with the sun shining right over water followed by a moment of silence and tranquility was a moment to treasure. Every seat group has a plug point provision for charging mobiles. 

If that was the seating, the catering staff suddenly looked lot more colorful. Their uniforms have been changed to represent a vibrance. There is a dedicated person to control the AC. Every one hour there is a staff member who comes around and collects all the used cups and throw-away plates and other disposables. The sudden rush of unreserved travellers in reserved compartments was handled well by the Ticket Collector who ensured the reserved people were troubled no way. The toilets seemed to have a few fancy sanitary ware with clean wash-basins fortunately not of steel.The pinnacle of this experience was when I was handed a feedback form to help them serve better. 

A chat with one of the IRTC staff revealed that the entire railway industry was witnessing a change and the effectiveness of customer service was being emphasised. The man behind the scenes is none other than the infamous Laloo who is credited with being the architect of the change in railway industry.
But our man knows his limits unlike others.He sets expectations, delegates work and that is where he stops. He doesnt interfere apparently with the routine work of his sub-ordinates yet has his own ingenious means of discovering culprits.

Overall a plesant journey, wondering how long will this continue, A to and fro journey made me pen this down, hoping this continues in the future and make train journeys a pleasure. 
Hail India!!!

Ark
ramkumaar

A much wanted break!!! Wants of total seclusion from civilisation.
Day 1:
Thursday morning 10:30 ,20 of us started for this place called Galibore Jungle Lodges which is around 100 kms from Bangalore.
It is located on the banks of the river Cauvery and about 7 kms from Sangam. Mind you the roads here are nothing but small streaks of muddy lanes that have been chiselled out solely for the sake of travelling. The entire way is flanked by trees and shrubs and small lakes and tanks all the way along giving us the immense thrill of approaching a picturesque place. The only factor that seemed to be troubling us was the incessant heat and we were hoping that the rain gods would show mercy upon us.
We reach the destination at around 2:30 PM, hog away to glory and then our training starts. I will not specify the trainings because my emphasis wasnt on them and was more on getting the maximum out of the location and the activites.
This place has tents as its digs and these tents have mosquito nets skirting them all around. Each tent has 2 cots and 1 pedestal fan but no lights. The entire place is cut off from electricity mind you and lanterns are the only source of light. The toilets are small condos with open roofs and the shower looked funny since it was along pipe at an elevation jutting out from the wall. 

The entire thought of staying in these tents was incommodious to start off but our attitudes changed gradually when we started appreciating the hardships.
The rain gods thankfully answered our prayers and there was a huge downpour and the entire place was pitch dark and we folks were left with t sole company of the lanterns to guide us. But we enjoyed every bit of the evening and gradually hit the sacks.
Day 2: 
The day starts at 5:30 in the morning.
I step out of the tent and it is a beautiful morning, the rains have left behind their traces in every bit of nature and it smelled so good. Right next to the trees is Cauvery, the river looks so tranquilizing, we can hear birds chirping and it is just the break of dawn.
We settle down for an hour's meditation along the banks of the river. As my eyes dart after every breathing exercise I can feel the oxygen gushing down my lungs and the sight looks so mesmerizing. I see the sun somewhere hidden between the trees and the other side of the river is girdled by small hillocks and the sky is clear at places and appears smoky at others. Right next to me is the river and it is so pretty to watch the ripples all along the river surface but it still appears calm provoking a small spiritual thought in me considering the complaints civilisation has against the tensions that prevail today. Just right across I see the trees and a few branches that are dipped in the river and the monkeys seem to be blabbering away amidst this haven.
Every thing look so serene and I feel in sync with nature, spiritual vibes are at their peak, the simplicity of the place and the attraction it beckons is exemplary to teach us the basics of life.
The next activity of the day is rappelling where in we ascend a small hillock that is around 400 feet from ground level and the rock we have to rapell is around 140 feet high and absolutely straight. We reach the top and I am the 5th person to descend, the first few steps when you are descending backwards does throw a chill down your spine and interestingly that moment though you know you are safe the mind is flooded with all thoughts of your near and dear ones.
 I manage to descend the rock after attempting a few action scenes and it was a wonderful experience, what I gained out of this was a different thought process.The first thought that I put in my mind was that of positivity and self-confidence in attempting this exercise and that carried me through, interesting to see how a few first right thoughts can set you right.
The rest of the afternoon goes with other team building activities that includes a military obstacle course involving jumping over netted ladders, descending trees, walking on ropes, jumping through tyres and it was an energizer.
All of were looking forward to the evening since we were told we would be entering the waters and what was the activity?
Rafting
We were given 6 wood poles and 6 tyres to make a raft and row across the river where we would have a flags to pick up. 3 teams get dopwn to action and we had constructed a marvel and my team won the race, the loud shouts of "hailasa" and rigorous rowing, occasional falls in the water and the very feeling of being in water amidst vigor n fun soared our energy levels to attain the peaks of bliss.
The rest of the evening was followed by a bonfire and all of us attempting to exhibit our singing skills and by time I went to sleep it was 2 in the morning.
Day 3: 
I woke up at 6 and since I had to return back to Bangalore early I couldnt join my colleagues for the trek.
However I manged to find some more precious moments of solitude with nature and that has recharged my spiritual batteries. The head cook drives me back to sangam from where I need to board a bus to Kanakpura. The head guard at Sangam takes my luggage, ensures I am comfortable and stays by my side, I see the villagers gradually gearing up for their daily business and there is an old lady who hobbles up to me,I see that her right hand is broken literally and the arm isrotating around her elbow, I ask her what happened and other villagers pour out her woes narrating the story of how her son thrashed her and brutually broke her arm with a rod. I try convincing her and others about the concept of nuclear families but then understood what togetherness means to these rustics. All in all villages reflect the simplest way of leading a life. People stay unfazed by what happens and carry on their daily chores as though there is nothing happening around them.
The simplicity they exhibit seems overwhelming in front of the flamboyance the urban life shows and that taught me a lot that day.
In short it was 2 days of spiritual bliss , totally cut off from civilisation, learning from life at roots.
An experience I would cherish forever.
"Spirituality is not a concept, it is a learning"


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