Monday, May 1

Z is for Zap #AtoZChallenge

Zap is to destroy. It is a powerful thing to destroy someone….or something. Crush it!

´Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.´

There is an apt saying about how one can gauge the character of a person by the power they possess. It is not trying times or setbacks that test the character of a person as much as the power that they hold. In fact as Lincoln holds the view, most people have the sufficient resilience to get by adversity.

But Power is lethal…it´s intoxicating. It gives any person a high…a false high…a false heightened sense of importance over another person.

Men feel more powerful than women owing to the gender attribution of physical strength and place in society. Elders feel more powerful than children owing to their age and experience. One country feels more powerful than the rest owing to their economic and military strength. A boss feels more powerful than his employees owing to his hierarchal position. A rich person feels more powerful than the poor owing to his bank balance and assets.

A person´s real strength and character is tested when they have power. Most people are blinded by  power to see their real selves anymore. They misuse their position of power to zap other people of their energy and strength.

Even in today´s times, there is a certain section in the society that believes domestic violence is perfectly okay and an integral part of the certain cultures. Nothing to make a big fuss out of it. Like a parents hits a child to correct...likewise the husband hits his wife to keep her in check.

Any sort of violence (physical or emotional) and crafty manipulation is a gross abuse or misuse of power.

Yes, at the end of the day, we are all human beings and we commit mistakes. But ultimately, we have to learn coming terms with our inner demons. We have to be aware of our position of power to make or break another person, life or thing. And despite how much power we hold, when we choose to zap someone else, it speaks a lot more about our character flaws rather than the one we zapped with our physical or emotional blows.

The power we hold comes with an added responsibility to inspire through words or action and build someone else's life. And definitely not to zap them of their powers.


Y is for Yonder #AtoZChallenge

I love to yonder both literally and figuratively. Yonder is the far distance. I love going to faraway destinations and discovering something new. It could be as simple as a new dish or new sights or something as complex as learning a whole new philosophical bent of mind.

Figurately, I love to yonder using the power of my imagination. If there is one single powerful thing God has blessed us with, it has to be our imaginations. If we can imagine it, we can do it.

Through Yonder, we tap into our subconscious state and unleash our inner power. We stay attuned to our intuition and dream the impossible. We imagine, we dream and we create something extraordinary.

To me, when I think of the word Ýonder´, I visualise the dark night skies with sparking twinkling stars in the backdrop. Our aspirations are like that far night skies…..its endless and its gorgeous. We aspire to reach there someday..somehow. And that´s what keep us going and moving.

It is wonderful to dream big. Because that´s where all great things begin. What we imagine, we become..we achieve. Even if we don´t go the yonder, we will reach way much farther than where we currently stand.

We will not be stuck in one mode…one way of thinking. When we have to go the yonder, we have to keep moving to reach our destination. All that movement translates into wonderful mistakes made, life-altering failures, crucial lessons learnt, startling achievements won, glorious memories made and a constant evolution of our whole self.

So, tonight just take a walk outside before you hop onto your bed. Watch and gaze endlessly into the night sky. See what patterns of constellations you can spot. What aspirations you can find up there in those endless, countless faraway stars?

Once you find your Yonder…your faraway aspiration, keep and treasure these wonderful words by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, a proponent of the power of Positive Thinking, ingrained in your heart as you set on your grand journey -

´Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you´ll land among the stars´

Always always aim high. There is nothing to lose really and all to gain!


Saturday, April 29

X is for Xenophobia Everywhere! #AtoZChallenge

I hate Muslims.

I hate Christians.

I hate all non-vegetarians who kill innocent animals.

I hate all beef eaters.

I hate Hindus.

I hate idol-worshippers.

I hate Trump.

I hate Obama.

I hate immigrants.

I hate patriots.

I hate Pakistan.

I hate India.

I hate Americans.

I hate black people.

I hate white people.

I hate fat people.

I hate feminists.

I hate women who have no spine.

I hate that new co-worker.

I hate Biryani.

I hate Sonia Gandhi

I hate Narendra Modi.

I hate ....I hate....I hate....this thing or that person....I hate ...I hate

The dictionary meaning of Xenophobia is dislike or prejudice against people from other countries.

Politicians use it to fan the fires of the sheeple against the enemy - The Foreign One.

Whether it is the Hindus or Indians perceived as the enemy in Pakistan.

Or the Middle East terrorists or Indian techies or Mexican workers or Russian spies perceived as the enemy in United States.

Or the British or Italian or Christian or Muslims perceived as the enemy in India.

Or the American or all whites or all infidels perceived as the enemy in the Muslim countries.

The real life cases of Xenophobia is sadly everywhere. In fact, it exists even in our own homes, work places, class-rooms etc.

A daughter-in-law is perceived as a foreign element in her husband´s home. A revolutionary person is considered foreign at a workplace. That odd student who is so different from the rest of the class is considered foreign in the classroom. A transgender is foreign to the society. Family or group politics are the outcome of Xenophobia - foreign ideas, thoughts, tastes and distastes.

Xenophobia is everywhere and we are all knowingly or unknowingly participants of it. I firmly believe all of us are racists in varying degrees, including me.

Someone foreign is our enemy.

And we are the foreign enemy of someone.

Saturday, April 22

W is for Writer Impressions #AtoZChallenge

‘Why do smile so much in the pictures?’, my girlfriend remarked.

What´s wrong?, I said.

´Well, you don't look like a writer from your pictures?´, she said.

´Really! What is a writer supposed to look like?´, I enquired with a hawk-like interest.

´Well, you know…Messy hair, lousy clothes, geeky glasses,…a look and expression that screams .that they don't give a damn to the world and what it thinks. They don't even give a damn about themselves. And, they are serious….dead serious…like they mean business…to change the world or something on those lines. Not, smiling happily and contented like you and looking all pretty and nice in some great outfits.´, she said.

´But a writer is real right. I am not faking happiness and this is me. I like to dress and express myself through my outfits too. Fashion and style is not always frivolous you know.´, I enlightened her.

´´Well! You and I know that! But try telling that to strangers who read your articles. Fashion and style is frivolous to writers. They just don't give a damn.´ she argued. ´Let me show you.´

And she took me to her room and opened her laptop. She browsed through google images and showed me several pictures of Arundhati Roy.

´Look at her! She doesn't care about her messy unkempt hair…the silver strands in them or her wrinkled up saree with mismatched blouse. That´s the look of a writer. Bingo!´, she screamed in euphoria.

So, we went around discussing and arguing more. Well! She was a very good friends and so we both had the liberty to disagree with each other´s views.

My argument was do I have to mould myself to fit a certain impression of the profession that I am in. Whatever happened to bring Ýou´ to the table wherever you go.

The fact is I write well. Nothing can change that fact whether I look or don't like a writer.

Recently, Sania Mirza came to the ´Koffee with Karan´show. Karan Johar asked her whether it doesn't bother her that her dressing style might alter people´s impressions about her as a serious tennis athlete and clothes send a message of frivolousness unlike other sports stars.

She justified her stance that this is who she really is. She loves fashion, glamour and style. And she is also a Tennis sports champion having won many world titles. She agreed that most sportsperson were simple but that was their personality. And this is hers. She wasn't unapologetic about it and she said people´s perceptions didnt bother her because she was focussed on doing what she needs to.

Isn´t there a saying on the lines of ´you make the outfit and not the other way around´? So, is seriousness ascribed to only professions such as medicine, teaching, writings and the likes and frivolousness attributed to the fashion and glamour industry?

Aren´t there glamorous doctors just as plain jane actors?

What about the popular adage - ´Don´t judge a book by its cover´´?


V is for Vacations #AtoZChallenge

“What we want out of a vacation changes as we age. It changes from vacation to vacation. There was a time when it was all about culture for me. My idea of a real break was to stay in museums until my legs ached and then go stand in line to get tickets for an opera or a play. Later I became a disciple of relaxation and looked for words like beach and massage when making my plans. I found those little paper umbrellas that balanced on the side of rum drinks to be deeply charming then. Now I strive for transcendent invisibility and the chance to accomplish the things I can’t get done at home. But as I pack up my room at the Hotel Bel-Air, I think the best vacation is the one that relieves me of my own life for a while and then makes me long for it again.”

Ann Patchett, “Do Not Disturb,” in This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

This quote, by far, is my most favourite quote on Vacations. Nothing bonds people more than a vacation. I remember my childhood days were filled with family vacations and those memories are timeless. The hangover of those vacations, some of them decades back, still remains.

The childhood memories of Kerala remains a strong memory. The fresh lush evergreen beauty of it doesn't fail to charm me every time I go there. I love going on a slow boat ride in the backwaters and gorging on the super delicious cuisine it offers.

My husband is an adventurous soul. He loves the great outdoors and ever since our marriage, I have travelled like never before. That is one of the wonderful things about marrying someone who has completely opposite interests and tastes as your. We do share the same value and belief systems though.

I remember our first vacation together to his hometown, Goa. I fell in love instantly with the place. It was similar to my town, Kerala yet there were stark differences. I wished how I could have spent my childhood years studying and growing up there. The colourful Portuguese style houses, the food, the culture, the beaches and the lifestyle stole a big part of my heart.

Anyway, for me I love my vacations to be amid mountains. Even better, if they are snow capped! I absolute love the huge mountains in California. It always felt like the mighty arms of God himself. Every time I was there, I actually felt hugged in a big warm embrace by God. Everywhere you look in any direction, you see mountains. I cannot explain the feeling of love, warmth and security I experienced by just being in the midst of the mighty mountains. I remember the beauty of the silence in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I absolutely adored those red mountains at Sedona in Arizona. The snow capped mountains with innumerable pine trees at Lake Tahoe took my breath away. And the best thing I loved about Vegas was the road that took us there. The mountain landscape looked straight like a scene out ´The Wild Wild West´ genre of movies.

What are your happy memories of a vacations?

U for Understatedness #AtoZChallenge

The dictionary definition of understatedness is the quality of being restrained and unpretentious.

I have always admired people who exhibited understatedness in all aspects of their lives. Without feeling the need to be popular or show off their worth to others explicably and who were just happy in their own skin.

There is nothing more appealing than the quiet confidence that comes with understatedness. That true understanding of one´s own worth among others is quietly powerful. There are so many who fall in that category. A few of them who come to my mind are A.R.Rahman, Amala Akkineni, Ratan Tata amongst many others.

While their work speaks for themselves, they are naturally understated in their dressing, bearing and manner. Their subtle intelligence and elegance is inspiring. Like the calmness of an ocean in a mood of stillness. They are mighty and powerful and yet so understated without blowing their own trumpet.

The same goes for Modesty. I genuinely think Modesty is often under-appreciated or understated in today´s times. It is so closely with understatedness, elegance and class.There is something very appealing about anyone who chooses to be restrained by choice when they could be otherwise. They don´t want to hijack the attention with their presence and manner. When it comes to their dressing, it is almost always something that is timeless and pleasing to everyone.

The quality of being unpretentious is also highly attractive. It shows that they don´t take themselves too seriously. I think it is a wonderful quality to have.

T is for Talent #AtoZChallenge

´God has not given me any extraordinary talent of creativity or writing like you. I have no other option but to work in a job and lead an ordinary life. ´

I met an old friend of mine in college a few months back. I was meeting her after 8 years and we were discussing our future, family and careers. So, as I was sharing with her my plans, she tried to reason with me to forget the normal pursuits of working in a job and just follow my heart and dreams. One because I could afford to take that risk with my current circumstances and second, because according to her, I was talented and creative. Which she claimed she was not.

I disagreed with her statement that she had no great talent. As kids, we were taught ´The Parable of Talents´ in our Sunday Catechism classes. If you are familiar with the story, you would know that God blessed every one with talents and it is upto us to multiply those talents in this lifetime. That is the message of the parable basically.

Doesn't everyone have a talent if we really introspect and look inside? Maybe, some did not have the chance to explore their talents as children and haven’t yet discovered it? Isn't it true that talent doesn't come in one form alone? There are so many kinds of talent and some undiscovered to the world as yet.

Yes, Talent is God-given! However, I´d like to believe that we have an equanimous God who has blessed everyone with just the right amount of talent. I never knew I had the talent to write until I actually got down to it. I never knew I had the talent to dance until I actually got down to breaking into a jig. There are probably so many more talents of mine that I am probably unaware of as yet.

Imagine a guy at the gates of Pearly Heaven before St. Peter when a ray of sunshine spotlights on me and the voice of God thunders -

´Hello Skylar! So, What happened to the talent of eating 2000 lemons in less than 2 mins that I had blessed you with? You just missed being in the Guiness Book of World Records due to your ignorance. Now, what punishment should I give you for this blunder?´

Éerrr God! Make some lemonade???????????´

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