Saturday, January 28, 2012

Birthday Wishes for Appa

Today is my Appa's birthday. I returned yesterday, back to university, after a long break, and as I see the yet to be unpacked bags around me, I realize that the pangs of homesickness have not completely disappeared, despite this being my sixth semester. I guess it's more so because of today's significance. Birthdays at home are quite modest occasions. Special prayers, maybe a payasam or a meal out, and a gift or two for the one celebrating it- quiet celebrations that fill you with warmth and contentment, and they soon become memories that you continue to cherish. I just wanted to pen down something for my dear Appa. So here goes...

You taught me to ride my bike,
Reassuring me when I was scared.
In the Nilgiri Hills, we would often hike,
Guiding me along, you always cared.
You told me stories to make me smile,
You encouraged me to read and speak out.
As I walked on, mile after mile,
You were always with me, throughout.
To me the virtues of hard work you taught,
Moulded my faith in Him, from whom all help could be sought,
You taught me to chase away my fears
You held me and wiped all my tears.
As I make my journey into an unknown world
I miss you, Appa, but I am comforted to know
That you are with me,
Each step of the way.

Happy Birthday Appa! Your presence in my life is a miracle, one that I thank God for, every single day. :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wandering in the Wadi

Last Friday was an epiphany of sorts for me. Friday, being the weekend in this part of the world, is usually reserved for a relaxing day at home. But last week, I persuaded my parents to take a trip to a wadi, nestled in the Hajjar mountain ranges, tucked away in the eastern Emirates. Wadi is an Arabic term for a valley, and this particular wadi (locally known as Wadi Wurayah) is supposed to be popular among trekkers and adventure enthusiasts.

So off we went to the wadi. I was amazed at how the roads were actually cut into the mountains, as easily as a knife sinks its way into a cake; it made me marvel at how mankind has actually altered landscapes to suit our own progress. After a steep ascent, we reached an area from where, the vast valley stretched out below. The valley, much like the sky, seemed endless, and the view was gorgeous, to say the least.

A little bit of exploring told us that a waterfall was located just below. We wanted to climb down the mountain, but were woefully ill equipped for what seemed like a treacherous climb. As a child, I had gone rock climbing and I was looking forward to doing it again, a mixture of nervousness and excitement filling my being, and then I realized that both my parents and I were not wearing the right kind of shoes. So the only way to get down the valley and to the waterfall would be to drive back and trek across a pebble path.

Plodding along the Pebble Path was great fun. The mountains, flanking the path on either side, were occasionally interrupted by a burst of green- mountain plants adding colour to the sandy brown of the landscape. In certain areas, the red sandstone on the mountains glistened in the sunlight and it was truly a feast for the eyes. The pebble path meandered on, snaking its way into the depths of this oft unknown corner of the country. Appa, the geography expert, told me it was possible that this area was once a riverbed, now all shriveled up and dry as dust.

After a half hour trek along the path, we finally reached the waterfall. After the majestic, awe inspiring view of the valley, this waterfall was something of an anti climax, especially if you've walked so long, and have been expecting something in the league of Monkey Falls or Kutraalam. So, we were a trifle disappointed to see a tiny waterfall, and even more annoyed at the garbage strewn around by careless tourists. Just when I was thinking 'What! I trekked all the way here to see just this!', the beauty of the entire landscape struck me, like a blow. Imagine mountains and valleys and the miracle of this tiny waterfall in a vast desert land! My mind wandered to bygone eras, and I thought about the meandering pebble path, once a roaring river. As these thoughts tumbled in my head, it began to darken and the first stars of the night peeped out of the velvet sky. I became aware of the perfection with which the Almighty created this cosmos.

As we trekked back, the pebbles on the path began to annoy me and I found myself grumbling about it. I began to think only of the pebbles and forgot the wonders of the wadi. Here comes the epiphany I was talking about in the beginning- how often do we focus on the pebbles of life, rather than the picturesque peaks around; how often do we look at 'scars' rather than 'stars'! We let small things frustrate and annoy us. At some point in time, we focus only on the problem, forgetting all the blessings hitherto bestowed on us. Wandering in the wadi reminded me to enjoy the sunshine and the breeze, appreciate the wonders of nature, and most important of all, be thankful, simply for the joy of being able to witness another dimension of the cosmos. Gratitude is indeed a wonderful feeling! 'Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow'.

Monday, January 9, 2012

From the South of the Tropic of Cancer

The first week of the New Year has been incredibly busy for me, for I've been traveling nearly 100 km twice daily, between Dubai and Fujairah, thanks to my internship. Whilst I do somewhat enjoy the drive, there's no denying that the journey leaves you rather tired, especially if you need to travel every other day. But this post isn't about the difficulties of road travel.

While traveling, I like to listen to music, in particular, south Indian movie songs, with a specific liking for Kollywood. Notice the phrase 'south Indian'. It isn't because I'm parochial or myopic. (I'm not!) It isn't because I'm against other languages just because I speak a couple of southern tongues more fluently. (I'm not!) It's simply because that is what I'm used to, a sense of liking that has been derived from habits gathered over nearly two decades. So this is what happened during an evening ride back home after a long days' work...

The previous day I requested the uncle, who had kindly consented to take me back, to switch on the radio. Then he had asked me which FM I preferred, to which I said, the Tamil one. He usually didn't listen to anything, so I definitely was not forcing my choices upon him. The next day, as we were returning, I requested him to switch on the radio again. And voila, it was a popular Dubai FM that catered almost exclusively to Bollywood music. No problem, anything to listen to, so that I can relax and de-stress, I reasoned to myself. But a few minutes later, I realized that I couldn't hum along and found myself yearning, somehow strangely, for the familiar tunes of namma ooru dappankuthu. So I requested uncle to change the FM. (Does this make me a fussy co-passenger? I hope not :/)

Now, it should be kept in mind that uncle is not from India, and is amongst the large group of people that believes that Hindi is the national language of the country. So, he turned to tell me, 'Isn't Hindi your national language? Shouldn't you be learning it, and hence, listening to Hindi also?'

In my half baked Hindi, I stammered that Hindi was not really a national language. It's more like an official language. I wanted to quote the fact that you would do better to ask for directions in English, rather than Hindi, far down south, for example in Tamil Nadu. Moreover, I also wanted to explain how, despite the fact that I had learnt it till grade 9, I still cannot speak it fluently, largely because no one at home speaks it. But, I was tongue tied, and found myself wishing that my thoughts could speak for themselves out loud. As the familiar songs from Kollywood blared out of the stereo, I found myself thinking about the linguistic diversity in the motherland.

Talking about linguistic diversity, I recall an incident back in NUS. I was returning to my hostel with a Malaysian friend, and on the way, I met one of my Indian friends, to whom I spoke in English. Upon seeing us talking in English, my other friend asked me why we were talking in English, and not an Indian language- this is so because, apart from English and the fact that we're Indian, there's nothing really common between us, linguistically. It is indeed an interesting scenario!

Anyway, learning Hindi has been an interesting experience. I could always count on Hindi to pull up my scores in middle school- Ironically, I don't think I've ever scored below 90% in this subject, a tongue which I can barely speak. I guess the fault lies with me- I never took an active interest in trying to speak the language- and that was simply because on the southern side of the Tropic of Cancer, there are other languages that people prefer to speak, languages that have been a part of their lives for centuries, something that has evolved along with them, down the ages. I just wish people who insist that you need to know Hindi, in order to fall into the category of being an Indian, would remember that.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

This New Year, I will...

This New Year, I will...

Work more, worry less
Prepare more, procrastinate less
Grin more, grumble less
Pray more, fuss less
Laugh more, sulk less
Live more, exist less.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Birthday Wishes for Appa

Today is my Appa's birthday. I returned yesterday, back to university, after a long break, and as I see the yet to be unpacked bags around me, I realize that the pangs of homesickness have not completely disappeared, despite this being my sixth semester. I guess it's more so because of today's significance. Birthdays at home are quite modest occasions. Special prayers, maybe a payasam or a meal out, and a gift or two for the one celebrating it- quiet celebrations that fill you with warmth and contentment, and they soon become memories that you continue to cherish. I just wanted to pen down something for my dear Appa. So here goes...

You taught me to ride my bike,
Reassuring me when I was scared.
In the Nilgiri Hills, we would often hike,
Guiding me along, you always cared.
You told me stories to make me smile,
You encouraged me to read and speak out.
As I walked on, mile after mile,
You were always with me, throughout.
To me the virtues of hard work you taught,
Moulded my faith in Him, from whom all help could be sought,
You taught me to chase away my fears
You held me and wiped all my tears.
As I make my journey into an unknown world
I miss you, Appa, but I am comforted to know
That you are with me,
Each step of the way.

Happy Birthday Appa! Your presence in my life is a miracle, one that I thank God for, every single day. :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wandering in the Wadi

Last Friday was an epiphany of sorts for me. Friday, being the weekend in this part of the world, is usually reserved for a relaxing day at home. But last week, I persuaded my parents to take a trip to a wadi, nestled in the Hajjar mountain ranges, tucked away in the eastern Emirates. Wadi is an Arabic term for a valley, and this particular wadi (locally known as Wadi Wurayah) is supposed to be popular among trekkers and adventure enthusiasts.

So off we went to the wadi. I was amazed at how the roads were actually cut into the mountains, as easily as a knife sinks its way into a cake; it made me marvel at how mankind has actually altered landscapes to suit our own progress. After a steep ascent, we reached an area from where, the vast valley stretched out below. The valley, much like the sky, seemed endless, and the view was gorgeous, to say the least.

A little bit of exploring told us that a waterfall was located just below. We wanted to climb down the mountain, but were woefully ill equipped for what seemed like a treacherous climb. As a child, I had gone rock climbing and I was looking forward to doing it again, a mixture of nervousness and excitement filling my being, and then I realized that both my parents and I were not wearing the right kind of shoes. So the only way to get down the valley and to the waterfall would be to drive back and trek across a pebble path.

Plodding along the Pebble Path was great fun. The mountains, flanking the path on either side, were occasionally interrupted by a burst of green- mountain plants adding colour to the sandy brown of the landscape. In certain areas, the red sandstone on the mountains glistened in the sunlight and it was truly a feast for the eyes. The pebble path meandered on, snaking its way into the depths of this oft unknown corner of the country. Appa, the geography expert, told me it was possible that this area was once a riverbed, now all shriveled up and dry as dust.

After a half hour trek along the path, we finally reached the waterfall. After the majestic, awe inspiring view of the valley, this waterfall was something of an anti climax, especially if you've walked so long, and have been expecting something in the league of Monkey Falls or Kutraalam. So, we were a trifle disappointed to see a tiny waterfall, and even more annoyed at the garbage strewn around by careless tourists. Just when I was thinking 'What! I trekked all the way here to see just this!', the beauty of the entire landscape struck me, like a blow. Imagine mountains and valleys and the miracle of this tiny waterfall in a vast desert land! My mind wandered to bygone eras, and I thought about the meandering pebble path, once a roaring river. As these thoughts tumbled in my head, it began to darken and the first stars of the night peeped out of the velvet sky. I became aware of the perfection with which the Almighty created this cosmos.

As we trekked back, the pebbles on the path began to annoy me and I found myself grumbling about it. I began to think only of the pebbles and forgot the wonders of the wadi. Here comes the epiphany I was talking about in the beginning- how often do we focus on the pebbles of life, rather than the picturesque peaks around; how often do we look at 'scars' rather than 'stars'! We let small things frustrate and annoy us. At some point in time, we focus only on the problem, forgetting all the blessings hitherto bestowed on us. Wandering in the wadi reminded me to enjoy the sunshine and the breeze, appreciate the wonders of nature, and most important of all, be thankful, simply for the joy of being able to witness another dimension of the cosmos. Gratitude is indeed a wonderful feeling! 'Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow'.

Monday, January 9, 2012

From the South of the Tropic of Cancer

The first week of the New Year has been incredibly busy for me, for I've been traveling nearly 100 km twice daily, between Dubai and Fujairah, thanks to my internship. Whilst I do somewhat enjoy the drive, there's no denying that the journey leaves you rather tired, especially if you need to travel every other day. But this post isn't about the difficulties of road travel.

While traveling, I like to listen to music, in particular, south Indian movie songs, with a specific liking for Kollywood. Notice the phrase 'south Indian'. It isn't because I'm parochial or myopic. (I'm not!) It isn't because I'm against other languages just because I speak a couple of southern tongues more fluently. (I'm not!) It's simply because that is what I'm used to, a sense of liking that has been derived from habits gathered over nearly two decades. So this is what happened during an evening ride back home after a long days' work...

The previous day I requested the uncle, who had kindly consented to take me back, to switch on the radio. Then he had asked me which FM I preferred, to which I said, the Tamil one. He usually didn't listen to anything, so I definitely was not forcing my choices upon him. The next day, as we were returning, I requested him to switch on the radio again. And voila, it was a popular Dubai FM that catered almost exclusively to Bollywood music. No problem, anything to listen to, so that I can relax and de-stress, I reasoned to myself. But a few minutes later, I realized that I couldn't hum along and found myself yearning, somehow strangely, for the familiar tunes of namma ooru dappankuthu. So I requested uncle to change the FM. (Does this make me a fussy co-passenger? I hope not :/)

Now, it should be kept in mind that uncle is not from India, and is amongst the large group of people that believes that Hindi is the national language of the country. So, he turned to tell me, 'Isn't Hindi your national language? Shouldn't you be learning it, and hence, listening to Hindi also?'

In my half baked Hindi, I stammered that Hindi was not really a national language. It's more like an official language. I wanted to quote the fact that you would do better to ask for directions in English, rather than Hindi, far down south, for example in Tamil Nadu. Moreover, I also wanted to explain how, despite the fact that I had learnt it till grade 9, I still cannot speak it fluently, largely because no one at home speaks it. But, I was tongue tied, and found myself wishing that my thoughts could speak for themselves out loud. As the familiar songs from Kollywood blared out of the stereo, I found myself thinking about the linguistic diversity in the motherland.

Talking about linguistic diversity, I recall an incident back in NUS. I was returning to my hostel with a Malaysian friend, and on the way, I met one of my Indian friends, to whom I spoke in English. Upon seeing us talking in English, my other friend asked me why we were talking in English, and not an Indian language- this is so because, apart from English and the fact that we're Indian, there's nothing really common between us, linguistically. It is indeed an interesting scenario!

Anyway, learning Hindi has been an interesting experience. I could always count on Hindi to pull up my scores in middle school- Ironically, I don't think I've ever scored below 90% in this subject, a tongue which I can barely speak. I guess the fault lies with me- I never took an active interest in trying to speak the language- and that was simply because on the southern side of the Tropic of Cancer, there are other languages that people prefer to speak, languages that have been a part of their lives for centuries, something that has evolved along with them, down the ages. I just wish people who insist that you need to know Hindi, in order to fall into the category of being an Indian, would remember that.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

This New Year, I will...

This New Year, I will...

Work more, worry less
Prepare more, procrastinate less
Grin more, grumble less
Pray more, fuss less
Laugh more, sulk less
Live more, exist less.