Category Archives: #IndiBlogger

Save the Earth! It is the only planet with chocolate….

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"The doctor said I need more calcium, so I'm switching from dark to milk chocolate."

What do you do when you know that global warming could target one of the sweetest solutions you have always counted on — that chocolate (or the cocoa plant) is at a risk of extinction in a few decades?

I decided to drown my melancholy in an entire bar of chocolate that I realised at the other side of my criminally-calorific break must have been saved up by one of my children.

Luckily, the brain had me covered with the build-up of the goodness of endorphins and serotonin that magically transformed my guilt and melancholy into an inexplicable feeling of warmth and goodness — albeit temporarily.

The word ‘chocolate’ itself feels like an invitation to joy, happiness and a reason to smile, unlike words like ‘eggplant’ that causes a certain adult and a child in my household to try hard to keep up a straight face and suffer from a sudden onset of ‘loss of appetite’ while the other child — who is still on the road to learning the tricks of the trade — is seen to scream her disapproval.

Chocolate comes wrapped in the pleasures of delicious moments that trigger sweet childhood memories.

Being the Five-Star and Dairy Milk generation of kids, my cousins and I willingly shared our clothes and sometimes even our homework but fought tooth and nail for a fair share of the rare chocolate treat that was painstakingly divided to the last millimetre.

On the bright side, it was during these rare moments that we put every apparatus in our mathematical instrument box and our math skills to good use.

Summer vacations meant freedom from school work and hovering in stealth mode near my aunt’s refrigerator trying to get our hands inside the colourful tins of chocolate that it treasured — the wrappers of which were saved away between the pages of our notebooks where both its ‘chocolatey’ scent and memory lingered on for days

Along with chocolate are coffee, potatoes, apples among many others in the global food chain that are found to be at a risk of extinction. While the company, Mars, is working on using scientific methodologies like the gene-editing technology to aid in developing plants that will be able to survive in the expected conditions, we have one more ‘sweet’ reason to do our bit in saving our home from the devastating effects of global warming.

As for me, the gnawing grief is making a comeback with the effect of the ‘happy chemicals’ waning. Now if you will excuse me, I need to grab another bar.

 

This is an extract from the publication in the Off the Cuff column of The Gulf News. For the entire article please click here.

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter!

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Off the Grid

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'I lost my homework on the cloud.'

The children had been invited to a birthday party.

A minute after the husband dropped us off after agreeing to meet at the same point after the party, catastrophe struck.

It came in the form of an Earth shattering realization that I had left the better part of my brains, my eyes, timepiece, GPS, camera, my Swiss Army knife, my digital toy all rolled into one – the smart phone, back at home.

I had to solely rely on my brains – or whatever little that I had brought along – to weave my way to the venue as the e-invite and the host’s contact numbers were safely tucked away in the digital confines of my absent phone.

Even as I tried hard to shake the free-floating anxiety that kicked my imagination to life and conjure up a few dozen disasters, I was pleasantly surprised that my memory of the place along with the old fashioned method of asking directions when in doubt was all it took to get my excited children to their destination.

I watched the children do funny dance moves, jump trampolines, shoot zombies unobstructed by the lens of a camera. And I must admit, it felt unhurried and carefree.

Out of habit, my hands habitually dug into the handbag for the phone but stopped midway when I heard my finger tips – enjoying an unanticipated holiday – singing my praise.

By the end of that day, I had real memories and a bunch of new ‘real’ friends.

I am no smart phone addict but it felt intimidating to be left out of the loop, but strangely liberating to make real conversation with children or another device-free Mommy without the interruption of the beep of a message or a phone call.

This leaves me thinking back in wonder about my younger, pre-mobile days when I walked the streets, lost my way, boarded the wrong bus but got home safe and sound.

My children might never have the privilege of getting lost in this well-connected world or feel liberated from the shackles of the grid unless they, like me, are forced to spend a phone-free, live-in-the moment day with only anxiety and real humans for company. 

 

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Dear friends, hope you all are having a wonderful Sunday.

Research has it that an average human swipes his phone 80 times a day. As much as our phones are a smarter extension of ourselves, it is time we ask ourselves if the digital grid is enticing us into a digital fantasy that is robbing us off reality.

What do you think?

 

 

Yellow – The Flower of Friendship

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Malayalam Short Film Review  :      Yellow – The Flower of Friendship                          (https://youtu.be/sInfTORzquA)

Writer & Director                          :      Nimisha Kannath

Producer                                           :      Muraleedharan Kannath

Cast                                                     :      Shajeeer Pakkarath, Vidhya Lakshmanan, Vipin                                                                      V and  Nihal

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What are your most precious moments when you think back about your college days?

For almost all of us Friends will top the list while books and studies will feature just above that strict lecturer whose thought can still give you the jitters.

Our sweetest memories will include the silliness, the shared moments, the teasing, the baseless jokes that had us cracking in the middle of a quiet class, the shared lunch boxes and then for that lucky some, that one person with whom you secretly shared that special bond – a bond that superseded friendship yet cannot be specifically categorized or defined.

Or in the words of Nimisha Kannath, Writer and Director of Yellow, a special bond that diminishes the whole wide beautiful world into that one person; that one person who can upturn even the dreariest day into a single moment of inexplicable joy with nothing more than their presence.

Yellow is a coming of age Malayalam Short Film with English subtitles that revolves around the bond of friendship between ‘him’ and ‘her’ currently running in YouTube on Muzik247 (https://youtu.be/sInfTORzquA). A bond that is skillfully portrayed by the actor, Shajeer – whose charming smile entices the audience into their little world of friendship, arguments, silly banter and shared moments while the actress, – Vidhya’s expressive eyes leaves the audience captivated. Their roles are well supported by Vipin and Nihal.

‘He’ is a passionate writer and she becomes his inspiration to keep his words alive, treasured in a book presented by ‘Her. Their silliness and fights add to the joy of this peculiar bond of friendship that they rarely express but choose to simply experience – both of them scripting their shared moments in a diary that they secretly treasure.

I can assure you that post the 14 minutes, you will refuse to believe that this simple yet beautiful story of friendship has been directed by the young and vibrant, Nimisha Kannath, a college student who passionately professes this to be her maiden venture with no previous experience or expertise whatsoever.

I caught up with Nimisha as she and her crew were celebrating 50K views three days after the release of Yellow.

How does it feel after this exemplary response for your movie Yellow?

Quoting Paulo Coelho – When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it, I have come to believe that in spite of all the challenges that we had to face, the response has been overwhelming and worth all the effort. I feel grateful, very grateful for all the unexpected support that I have received through the making of this movie which is my first, entirely driven by passion and the support and encouragement of my brother – Nidhin Kannath, uncle and Producer – Muraleedharan Kannath, HOD – Vetrivel and the group of friends who have stood by me through the thick and thin of the shoot.

Now that you mentioned it, what were the challenges you faced?

I have begun to believe that everything happens for a reason – even challenges. Being beginners with no experience whatsoever, the crew and I faced several challenges.

The first one was when the protagonist, Shajeer, met with an accident during the shoot sustaining a fracture to his hand. We had to suspend shooting for an entire month. Though unfortunate, this break gave me time to revise and better the climax.

Being a fresher in this field, re-shoots were often required when the scenes did not seem satisfactory causing the project to lag. From setbacks that included issues with dubbing, power cuts, meeting deadlines, extending the release date – that was originally scheduled for a Valentine Day release, we faced innumerable challenges through the shoot.

Considering that the crew members are all college-going students, exams and other deadlines had to be tackled amidst the duration of the shoot. But I will always be grateful that with every challenge, came opportunities to improvise the script and the scenes. Luck was on our side as this break gave us immense support in the form of unexpected people who came along and contributed to making this project better.

What was the duration of the entire project and what inspired you to write this script?

The shoot began in the month of October and was slated for a February release but as I mentioned there were lags and challenges that pushed the release date. The story has been inspired from the special bond I share with my bestie – Greeshma, along with the bonds that I have been witness to among friends and relationships that were beyond friendship, yet have remained unexpressed.

The story was written more than a year back with no intensions of it becoming a script for my first short film but the support and motivation from friends, my brother, my uncle who readily agreed to produce, my mentor – Richy KS, my inspiration – Shruthy Gopinathan and many others who encouraged and pushed me to start pursuing my passion that sowed the seeds of an idea to turn it into a short film.

You first showcased your pictures on Instagram that always received rave response; did that help you realize your dream?

The camera has always been my best friend. Random clicks that I first showcased on Instagram received rave responses that was the beginning of realizing my passion, however, it took a lot of coaxing from my friends to help me come out of my shell as I was not very confident that I could go this far. But once I made up my mind and started, there has been no looking back. Now that I have realized my passion, I wish to pursue a career in advertising which is slowly taking a more definite shape since the success of this project.

Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?

No, not yet. I am currently basking in the joy of this success, even in the midst of examinations.

Do you have a message to friends and viewers?

Firstly, thank you all for the support and the response that I am currently receiving. Considering that we have not used any promotional techniques other than just sharing the link – https://youtu.be/sInfTORzquA – with friends and family, and now this blog review, we have had an overwhelming response.

I also wish to use this opportunity to tell everyone that it took a lot of effort to be able to get out of my shell to pursue my passion but the joy in doing so is one that cannot be expressed into words, so please do not hesitate to showcase your talents and passion to the world – the world needs more of it!

Yellow – The Flower of Friendship is a Malayalam Short Film with English subtitles that is currently running in YouTube on Muzik247 ( https://youtu.be/sInfTORzquA ) and has received an astounding 50K plus views already. Please be sure to watch the 14-minute short film by a group of passionate college students whose talents are evident in their maiden venture.

Wishing, Nimisha and her amazing crew, loads of luck for many more success ventures.

 

 

Why are Women Terrified of Cockroaches?

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Science calls it katsaridaphobia.

The husband calls it a silly overreaction.

I can only say that this six-legged creature single-handedly sums up my personal insect hell.

With the school term coming to a close, families chose this time of the year to move back to their home country or make another apartment their home.

This move has shook up a few other families from another kingdom that must have been  thriving and breeding undisturbed in the dark crevices of drain pipes or have been forced to relocate too after the depreciating chemical barriers have been re-erected by the real-estate staff, who are seen prepping the house for its new tenant.

One roach decided to take an evening stroll and managed to invade the carefully-guarded, pest-free, chemically-barricaded fortress that I call home.

That night I sleepily walked into the bedroom and caught sight of this unwelcome guest scampering  about the white floor on its spiky appendages.

In an instant, I was wide awake, sleep gone, eyes popping out of sockets, breath caught midway between the lungs and the nostrils, adrenal medulla overworking – pumping in adrenaline for fight or flight reaction.

The mind trying to shut out the image that is crawling and wrecking my system.

When I had mustered up enough courage, I rushed to find to the husband.

On hindsight, I marvel the reaction and the multitasking power of a shocked human mind and body.

Only that my mind had been rendered that shock by a creepy crawly as big as my pinkie.

The husband was amused. He found the creature and sent it off to insect heaven.

The only relief has been that the children were locked in dreamland and hence did not witness their mother outperform them in a state of utter frenzy.

The following morning on, my paranoid eyes have been searching for unwelcome family members and a search party of the deceased invader as the hands have been cleaning better and disinfecting effectively.

But try as I might, I cannot understand why women who have crossed frontiers, shattered glass ceilings can be reduced to a shaking, shrieking, chaotic lot when it comes to cockroaches?

 

Good morning Friends, Wishing those on the other side of the world, a happy weekend while wishing my friends on this side of the world, a great beginning to a new week.

Sneezing Away a Beautiful Winter Weekend

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"Hey, you have got great empathy!"

The awesome months of winter are welcome with an endless stream of outdoor activities — along with coughs, sniffles and examinations.

I am grateful that we are spared the ‘examination’ bit as my children are yet to enter that phase of schooling, but there is no sure way of escaping the sneezes that develop into a cold and then a fever that makes a burning entry in the dead of a cold winter night when I have to toggle between checking temps, administering medications and comforting a delirious child while fighting off the urge to allow my drooping eyelids succumb to sweet slumber.

It is a joy to see the scorching days of summer give way to cool winter mornings.

Every year, the husband and I resolve to take advantage of the weather and include a walk into our routine, but I have long since made peace with the fact that sticking to resolutions is not in my stars. Nor is a slim, trim and hour-glass shaped figure.

Spooling the tape back a few weeks this winter, I wished to make weekends special by spending as much time as I could outdoors. Once I had zeroed in on one of the many events that would hold the interest of my children and us, I meticulously planned out the weekend.

My enthusiasm failed to ebb even after the husband appeared to only show interest in the culinary options available in the area or when I heard Little Princess sneeze.

By Thursday evening, Little Princess had bright red patches on her face, a sore throat and a rasping cough. We spent the early hours of our meticulously planned fun weekend nursing a sick child who quivered with soaring temperatures.

The rest of the weekend and the next four weekends were spent with paediatricians and general practitioners as we took turns borrowing the nasty cold from one another. I whiled away waiting time at the hospital catching up on the details and pictures of marathons, food fests and other events through the eyes of reporters and photographers of the newspaper and social media.

On the plus side, the frequency of our visits encouraged the friendly staff at the hospital to welcome us with more-than-just pleasant smiles. I also learnt that a doctor’s job was no easy task with getting to meet and greet sick children and exasperated sleep-deprived parents.

With a few weeks left before the mercury rises and our household making a return to some form of normality, we are hoping to go to any place other than a hospital. The husband is hoping to catch a movie, but there is no extensive planning involved for I am not looking forward to catching one of my children sneezing away our weekend plans — yet again

 

Hello Fellow Bloggers, hope you are all doing well. This is an extract from a piece published in the Gulf News. Please click here for the entire article.

Wishing you all a great Sunday.

The High Cost of an Impromptu Visit to the Supermarket

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On a cold winter evening, I snuggle in the blissful comforts of a warm bed with a book for company. But bliss can only be complete with a steaming cup of filter kaapi.

The intoxicating aroma of the ground beans cloud my caffeine-deprived mind nudging me to drag myself out of the warm comforts of the bed and pay tribute to the beans.

As I pour hot water into the filter and the gentle drip of thick coffee become music to my ears, I remember that the milk has all been used up.

There are  two options before me – a phone call and an extra buck can bring the precious bottle of milk right by my doorstep in about the time that I can chide about my unorganized ways or I can save the buck and get some exercise with a quick walk to the supermarket where I can pick up a fresh bottle of my choice of milk – from among the low-fat, full-fat, double-cream, half-cream options.

A quick browse of the counter beside it and then every counter and asile after and before it will soon stack the cart with everything that I would and would not require on another rainy day.

Realization and regret on my impromptu shopping spree strikes only after the bill has been handed over. I force myself to see the bright side of the situation, thanking my stars that I had chosen to carry the card instead of digging deep into my pocket.

I must confess that the free tutelage on haggling from the experts in my younger days during the many visits to the local market have been wasted by the supermarket revolution.

I, like the rest of its loyal customers, will queue up with a cart full of what I think are the choicest picks from the zillion brands and trillion varieties made available, willing to part with a big chunk of my bank balance and shed tears of joy when they surprise me with a gift voucher that will ensure that I am back on yet another shopping spree with a paltry discount in return for more than a decade of loyalty.

As for my caffeine-deprived, cold evening – my choice has been made and so has the phone call. I am sure the delivery person will be at my doorstep even as I dig deep into my wallet to fish out the extra buck and the music of the dripping coffee has come to a halt.

 

Some Siri-ous Thoughts about Technology and the Generation Gap

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"Would you mind if I ask SIRI for a 2nd opinion?"

It was hilarious to watch the Italian grandmother’s reaction when she heard the smart assistant give precise answers to her queries even after she called it ‘Goo Goo’. This viral video took me back in time to an afternoon when Father and I had visited the community centre back at home where a crowd had queued up to witness a new piece of technology that was up for public display and demonstration.

This was a time when the Oxford dictionary and common man understood the definition of ‘mouse’ as a rodent with a pointed snout and a long tail that usually kept the occupants of the house running after it when it made an unbidden visit and technology was at its infancy and we were yet to trust complicated computing machines that could supposedly ease our workload. We looked in awe at the wonder gadget — the mouse — placed inside a locked glass enclosure to be carefully removed and attached to the keyboard by the ‘mouse expert’ during the hourly demonstration.

When computers replaced typewriters and swivelling cushioned chairs, the outdated wooden ones, Father, for whom the change presented a bit of a learning curve, spent evenings at one of the many internet cafes that had sprouted in the vicinity. These cafes had dial-up internet connections that grated and whistled noisily while the operator-cum-instructor imparted precious knowledge on the complex technique of sending electronic mail.

Much later, we rejoiced the day Father brought home our very own personal computer. Patience was a virtue for after the dial-up had finally made the connection, it took just one wrong number on the landline phone to terminate it.

These childhood tales have now metamorphosed into hilarious bedtime stories that get Sid to laugh incessantly and beg for more instead of getting him to sleep.

Earlier this year, when digital class was no more an option at his school, Sid got his tablet. The thought of my son owning a piece of technology that threw open the doors of the internet world was daunting. While he excitedly spent the first day exploring its features, I hovered about explaining the perils that the limitless world of the internet posed. It was about then that he discovered the virtual assistant — Siri.

At first, he was curious about the robotic voice behind the glossy black screen. Little Princess joined in the questions that ranged from ‘Hey Siri, Who are you?’ to ‘Hey Siri, do you like ice cream?’ This was soon seen to gravitate to academic doubts and questions like ‘Hey Siri, can you find my Math notebook?’ I must admit that it hurt to see that my son found ‘Siri’ more resourceful than his mother, but it was concern about the misuse of technology if left unmonitored that I restricted screen time.

Even though Siri has always resided in the complex interiors of my phone, it was the hilarious answers that my children sometimes got in return for bizarre questions that got me to activate the virtual assistant on my phone. It was impressive to get ‘Siri’ to pull out selective emails, send messages, make calls and set alarms with a simple voice message. But my family was not very happy to be woken up at 2am after the phone jarred to life with what appeared to be an alarm that had been accidently set during my trials.

While the older generation is hesitant to adapt to technological advancements, the children, for whom technology has been an integral part of their existence have taken to it like ducks to water. Father, who had been both worried and excited when he was handed a sleek, shiny smart phone called me up asking me to accept his friend request on social media. Sid is now working on a science project that involves moving suspended objects that can be controlled by an application.

I wonder where that leaves the middle generation — who can rock in a fetal ball of nostalgia at the sound of dial-up connections or talk about heavy desktop computers as if they were dinosaurs, but continue to be enthralled at the pace of technology and is striving hard to keep up pace in the virtual world as much as the real world and real people. Siri is sure to have one or a hundred and one answers to that question too!

 

Hello Friends, hope that you all are having a wonderful weekend. The above is a piece that was written for the Gulf News and has featured in today’s ‘Off the Cuff’ column. You can read it here. Wish you all a wonderful day ahead.

 

Shouldering Technology and the Slump

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I know what you are doing right now.

Your shoulders are rounded and down, your back is curled and your head is bent forward at an angle (at about 60 degrees) that is exerting about 60 pounds of pressure on your cervical spine as you read this post on your smart screen.

Now that you are aware and have quickly corrected your posture, you can take a look around you. What is common in all of us – you, me, the glamorous, the cool, the sophisticated and the introvert?

We all slouch.

We, as a generation, have become every chiropractor’s dream.

In the days of yore, ‘Sit up. Stand straight’ was like a chorus that was repeated after every other sentence by our parents, teachers and even by the neighbor’s father-in-law, who was visiting. Practice (and warnings that bordered close to threats) made us perfect our posture.

It took a smart phone to ruin it.

Today, when we see someone slouching and radiant in the glow of their cell phones, we slouch over ours and text, ‘Whatsup. Who are you texting?’

While good posture helps neck and back pain while combating fatigue, it also gives you improved confidence, better memory, increased motivation, uplifts your mood and gives you the ability to rule the world.

Superman, Batman, Shakthimaan and even Wonder Woman are superheroes who stand tall in expansive postures and straight. I am not too sure that they can get away by slouching over their phone inbetween saving the world.

Now that you have corrected your posture and trying hard to maintain it, I can assure you that if this post does not uplift your mood and make you smile, then your posture will!

Good morning Friends, hope you all have a happy and a slouch-free Sunday

Snippets for a Better Tomorrow

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"I wish you'd start recycling your old newspapers..."

One activity that I love to unwind with over the weekend is to sit down and catch up with a pile of a week’s worth of newspaper. A little tower of them, when I have to make up for the previous week as well. It just about feels like you are catching up on an entire series of that popular soap or the highlights of a series of matches that everyone is talking about but you were too caught up in the web of chores and responsibilities to sit back and enjoy. The advantage is that you never miss the details and you save the stress of figuring out that nail-biting, heart-thumping finish as you have already heard it.

I am also among those people who cannot drink in every inch of the newspaper or a magazine without cutting out (read tearing out) an interesting article for later reference or to enjoy a read of the same at another time.

My cutouts for that week will depend on how I feel like on that particular day.

If it is a period after a stint of holidaying and binging, my cutouts would range from  eating right or eating less to a series of yoga postures that seem graceful when performed by the toned woman in the pictures but close to impossible when it is your turn to try. Sometimes it is sport and other times a dose of inspiration.

Instead of cutting out just the article of interest, I usually save up the entire page.

Little Princess is delighted to see her mother tear up paper and just to keep my catching up going without untoward tantrums  from her side, she gets her turn at tearing after I am done with mine.

Now these saved-up snippets overflow from shoe boxes that occupy the uppermost deck of the cupboard. Having realized that the tomorrow has never come and those life changing alterations that I had once resolved never became, I recently took a quick peek into one. I was left in a fix as to what part of that paper inspired me to save it up. I am even left wondering if Little Princess swapped hers with mine.

Now, I might need another weekend to deal with those.

What Do You Practice?

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'How can you just lie there all day?' Read the rest of this entry