Blogging

Spinning the wheel – My reflections on blogging

A couple of years ago, I stood in Kathmandu’s famous Swayambunath temple. I stood transfixed, besotted by all it offered. Of particular interest was a stellar set of prayer wheels. They were exquisite and seemed to offer something deeper and more joyful than what was apparent.

I watched in quiet awe as people came by to spin the wheel, reciting something quick and muted. The older folk turned it with gentle ease and with a ready rhythm backed by an effortless flow. I stood there for a long time. Taken by the magic of it all.

There is a reason why I think of that now.

IMG_5160

A few days ago, I was in Kolkata interacting with some bloggers there. Friends at Blogadda were hosting a meeting and I was passing by and happening to have to time at hand. It was delectable. Both the conversation and the consequent thoughts that it has sparked off. I shared some of my views there and the kind folks there were kind enough to stay put and listen. Some of them reached out to stay connected after the event! Which left me smiling.

Ever since, ‘blogging’ has been on my mind, wondering if I could have been more pointed and coherent.

For, to me blogs are special. They offer the scale and opportunity to thoughts and expressions. Blogging has had a profound impact on my life. So much so, that I could go out on a limb and proclaim that it aided in changing the course of my life.

Here are some reflections on my journey of blogging. Five points. Not much I think. Top five, if you will.

1. Blogging is a craft. People excel in a craft because they love a craft. Awesome bloggers that I know, publish content because they love doing so. While their voice and points of view get heard, it is a relentless discipline at getting better at it, that rests beneath. They treat blogging with respect and intensity. A certain sense of joy and deep value that passionate practitioners of any craft can relate to.

2. Getting the basics right is such an important facet of any picking up a craft. The basics of blogging, in my opinion, revolve around creating good content and finding a way of reaching it to people. Now, ‘good content’ in itself lends itself well to a long conversation. But the idea is this: Content is key. Statistics on the number of hits, where the hits come from, at what time they come etc are incidental. Focusing on getting better at putting the message across makes a substantial difference. You become a great batsman by watching the ball and spending time at the nets. Not by staring at the scoreboard.

3. Participating and building community conversations matter. Making friends via blogs is a natural consequence. The bounty of friends that I have made just because my blogs have been around for a while is a true bounty. Perhaps bounty with a capital B! Blogging is about people and conversation.

I have enjoyed growing with a set of bloggers. Going far beyond knowing them through their blogs and being present when they turned a new page. Grooved by passion and polished by time, this intimacy has evolved beyond the URL. A blessing that is so rich, that it stays outside my limited capabilities of describing it.

4. Responses to posts and ideas over all these years have varied. Swinging from idolatry to the downright dismissive, teaching me a thing or two in the process. The famous lines from Kipling’s ‘If’ has much mindshare now:

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…”

To be equanimous to comments and responses after I hit ‘Publish’ has been one huge piece of learning. Blogging lends itself well to comments and staying calm help.

People who read a blog in the initial years happen to be friends and relatives. People who are generally of the kind kind. A heap of good comments can show up every time you published. I learnt it the hard way, that it’s so easy to get swayed by it. I have one piece of advice: Don’t! Keep working on the craft. If you are into writing, do read this book by Stephen King.

5. After you have put down Stephen King, do make it a point to read other people’s blogs. The better ones. The getting better ones. The ones that you disagree with. The ones with a point of view. The ones with a flourish in language. Whatever. Do read.

For reading helps in finding inspiration and establishing a connection. These connections and inspirations span generations and geography. But present an interweave that goes beyond the obvious. And in a good way, will lead you to stay curious. In the present day templatised world, staying curious can sometimes make all the difference!

So there, those are my top five reflections on blogging.

Now, back to the prayer wheel.

The prayer wheel is profound at many levels, as I discovered. The prayer wheel is spun with a meditative stance. You stay focused and get better at it. There are several beliefs and practices that surround Prayer Wheels. There is one that hugs my mind, though. The Tibetan tradition has a practice ‘of dedicating any accumulated merits that one may have gathered during practice to the benefits of all sentient beings‘.

That to me is at the centre of it all.

To share a point of view, with love and a degree of compassion is an opportunity that is available to everyone with a blog. The choices, of course, are ours to make.

Goan Zest

Buffaloes

”Ouuccchhhhh’.

Her scream from inside the car on any other day would have caused a scarecrow three miles away to jump in fear. Or so it seemed to me. I was at the wheel of a TATA Zest.

Its was a small road. A cowherd and his set of buffaloes were walking towards us, on our lane. I had steered the car to stay a safe distance away from the buffaloes. As we crosses them, one buffalo, on a whim moved to the centre of the road and swung his tail to hit the rear view mirror on the left. A couple of feet from where Nandita is sitting.  The sound was deceptively deafening. No collateral damage to the car. The last I saw the buffalo, there seemed to be none there either.

I could have sworn the bloody thing was premeditated. For as we passed the cowherd, his more than mischievous smile was on ineffable display. Nandita, fresh from the scream, expressed some rather pleasant thoughts she had for the cowherd and his buffalo. I spotted the cowherd’s trudge on the rear view mirror. He seemed to be on a song, while I was shaken.

The three of us, Nandita, Neha were the trio that was testing out the TATA Zest. Some more context and details are here.  This is my second and final post that I had promised. A review of a car(or for that matter, any product) on the blog, is something that I have never done and I barely have knowledge of automobiles as a nursery kid would have of the constitution. Or any other fat book, for that matter.  Earlier today, I asked myself how I wanted this blogpost to read. I wrote ‘precise, honest and flowing’. And then, I don’t know what got me to write ‘Clarkson’.

Car reviews with a soul, bring the visage of Jeremy Clarkson to my mind. None else. .

For several years, Top Gear was my favourite program on BBC. On all of TV, for that matter. Jeremy Clarkson James May and Richard Hammond, held attention in a rather unbridled sort of a way that escaped adjectives. Gripping drama and dripping quaint British humour, they had me tune in regularly. Clarkson was irreverent and had a deep resourcefulness to source a capacious assortment of adjectives. I write in past tense, for I dont watch much TV these days. But am sure (and I hear) they continue to be their usual selves to date. Every other auto show host since then, has looked like someone still recovering from a very intense combination of jaundice and constipation. As the buffalo swung his tail to catch the rear view mirror, that was my Jeremy Clarkson moment. My gripping drama. That was that.

Let me for a minute talk of P.Chidambaram. Now, Jeremy Clarkson and P.Chidambaram sitting on adjacent paragraphs must be enough for you to call an ambulance to ferry me to an asylum. No, all is well. Thank you. I have a reason to bring P.Chidambaram into the picture.

Who would believe if I told you that PC and his babus spawned an entirely new ‘genre’ of cars?  From my preliminary reading, they do seem to have worked on it and I am open to standing corrected here.  Well, as finance minister in 2006, he announced an 8% reduction in any car less than 4 meters in length for cars housing a 1.2L petrol or a 1.4 L diesel. He didn’t care to add, if the car could have a boot or otherwise. They just had to be less than 4 meters. An entire class of cars arrived : trimmed down versions of a hatchback with an appended boot as an afterthought that had no way of concealing how pronounced afterthought appeared! If there was a lousier evidence of mass production of ‘cut & paste’ technology, hmm, well, well..I am not sure how I should end that sentence.

The TATA Indigo was the first amongst a set of ugly, ‘cut and paste’ cars. If that was the worst one could have imagine seeing, Maruti Suzuki came up with Swift Dzire. An even more bizarre appendage of a boot to a wonderful car called Swift. One of the greatest ironies was to call this ‘cut & paste’ assortment of metal, ‘Dzire’!

A buffalo. Jeremy Clarkson. P.Chidambaram.  Hmm. What an assorted spray paint of a start to what was supposed to be a precise review. Sigh. Ok. Quick, let me add some zest!

First off, the TATA Zest is different. When designers sat on the table, their brief was to build this as a sub 4 meter car. It is not a ‘cut & paste’ car and It shows. The lines are bold and it has a rather ‘wanting to move forward’ kind of agile look. Maybe thats what pissed the sedentary buffallo and its wayward ways.

The car handled like a charm taking to the small roads of Goa almost with a familiar shrug of the shoulder. The Zest provides ample leg room with élan that clearly makes it inviting. Especially so for Indian families and their small extended ties. Of course, we know how small our extended ties are!

Now, let me get some petty things off my mind. Stuff thats been humming in there. Like a rattling fan. First off, the petrol engine. Wonder why they call it 3-in-1. Its an automobile engine. Not a dishwashing liquid.  ‘Three engines in one’ as a primary brand proposition requires a large dose of courage and a generous degree of audacity. Or so I think. Although am sure there must be reams of research to back it up. But then, thats that. Second, the engine operates in three modes to operate which TATA Motors have chosen to call : ‘City’. ‘Eco’ and ‘Sport’. Wonder if any one else thought of the Honda City and the Ford Ecosport, every time the three modes were spoken of! Maybe its just me and my cynical ways.  Sorry.

Nevertheless the engine did well and everyone said ‘peppy’. If you expect that car to turn into some kind of a ‘Batmobile’ at the press of a button as you move from ‘city’ mode to ‘sport’ mode, well, you will end up a poor sucker like me. So much for marketing.  Truth be told, overall the car handles well, for its class.

Goan cyclist

We clicked a few pictures shifted speed, accelerated, paused, stopped and got a few locals on the road driven to their wits end, as we tested out the horn. It seemed that the horn was placed by a campaigner against ‘noise pollution’. To get it going required the full supply of calories from a heavy breakfast. All the same, it was good for verdant Goa. Goa is a place where life happens in slow motion. Even rain seemed to be taking its time. People have a relaxed tonality to life that will inject you with allure or paralyse you in silly awe.

If you met the great Achilles himself and asked him to point towards the better example of his much famed heel, he could well point in the direction of Service standards of TATA Motors.  The TATA folks tell me, that story is changing. And that they have moved from 13th place to 7th on the JD Power rankings for service. Hopefully, that translates to something useful and differentiating.  I stay stubbornly hopeful that the new thinking of being a ‘design lead’ thinking versus being a ‘engineering lead’ company will take the car and the company a good distance.

The moment you switch topics and talk about the diesel car and the Automated Manual Transmission, you will catch me smiling far more.  In the middle of a rather fetching highway after manoeuvring to a position where no vehicle was in sight and after checking with the ladies if they had their seat belts on, I put some speed to the dial of the diesel Zest. It responded like a famished lion that spotted prey. It didn’t quite feel like diesel, had brilliant auto transmission and the noise reduction inside the cabin was near perfect.

More buffaloes dotted the greenery of Goan fields besides the highway. I stayed careful. Neha and Nandita took to the wheel with a matter-of-fact ease that didn’t surprise the car as much as it surprised them, I would think. They seamlessly wove through recalcitrant traffic and some indecisive rain which stayed troubled deciding if it should pour down or hold back.  While the windscreen wipers laboured with ease, I clicked a picture of what the windscreen held. Some remnants of what the clouds held a few moments ago. Pretty good picture I thought even as coherent happiness continued its elusive streak.

Rain

Back to the car. There are 3,75,369 reviews of the car now detailing the specs of Torque, displacement, head lamps with LED lights and some three zillion other categories where TATA Motors claims to be ‘segment first’. Please look them on up on the net.  The car is a neat package. And when TATA Motors will ‘price it for volumes’, as offline conversations threw in hushed tones, well, it will get many nods of approval.

Considering all of this, you may ask, with your head tilted to one side, “would buy the car?”. The answer clearly, is a ‘No’. End of story.

Except, that its not quite the end of the story. I am not in the market for car in this segment. If I were, this will get to my top three cars for consideration for sure. For those that are looking for a car in this segment, I reckon TATA Motors will be out to redefine ‘value for money’.

Good design and features that adorn higher segments sit pretty here. Maintenance doesn’t seem like (am hoping like hell here) it will take a generous stab at the bank account. It looks good. Drives good and has ample space all around. Plus, did I tell you about the Harmon Kardon audio system that besides playing music and all that, was said to take voice commands and do a slew of things just stopping short of ‘change my complexion’.

So there! Look at it for sure. Buy it if it fits you. Thats about the Zest. End of story.

Oh wait. The story has another element. While the Zest is just another car in the TATA stable, what it has more than convincingly done is this : forcing the TATA brand into consideration set of cars, that I will consider in the future. That is an even more important ask than just selling one car. But, that’s just me and I tell it with no qualms. I am no Jeremy Clarkson and there is no swarm of people who will do my bidding. Finally, its officially, end of story.

Ah, there is one more thing. Jeremy Clarkson once said, “Column writing is like gas. It fills in available space”. I stop right there. The end.

Designing the future

They jumped back. 

Much like I did many months ago. At that time, I was walking the streets of San Francisco when what seemed to be a green shrub moved many meters, came close to me and out sprung a much bearded man. 

Putting on display teeth coloured like the crimson Sun.  

He was playing a prank much like the Canadian show ‘Scare Tactics’, the TV show where hidden cameras capture open mouthed shrieks escaping from the throats of innocent passerby in front of whom are propped corpses or broken bleeding hands or something more grotesque!  

His crimson teeth and his harrowing shriek were gruesome enough for me to yell and jump a good distance. A few more inches and I would have landed in Mumbai. That was how far I jumped and I saw from the corner of my eye the entire city of San Francisco wiping away buckets of tears, full of mirth. 

That was exactly how some people jumped, when I posed them a question, without warning: “Look, if we should be designing the future, what should we do?” It was partly the strength of the question itself that made people emit a sputtering cough.  The other part, I must admit, perhaps was due to the sudden poser of what seemed to be a rather pertinent question in the most inopportune of places. 

Like a bathroom stall. When the guy is standing next to you and doing what he is supposed to be doing in urinal.   Or during the morning run, when ace marathoners were counting their steps and running to a choreographed plan.  And to slightly more comforting environs, like a cab or an auto.  The startled looks from Taxi and autorickshaw drivers will stay etched in my mind forever but co-passengers on a plane whose jaw dropped almost all the way to the Earth upon the sudden propping of the question, was something else though!  

Let me explain this a bit more.  You see, when BlogAdda.com & INK talks put out an opportunity to write out a post on designing the future, they quite helped break a lethargy induced labyrinthine walls that had held ideas to ransom for a long time.  Before I could start, I realized I had to be clear about what I hoped to get: My design for the future.  

And it went like this

I dreamt of a future that will be inclusive. Meaning ‘inclusive of all age groups. Of all classes. Of the rich and poor. Or the fit and the falling.  Irrespective of whether you are based out of Minnesota or Mumbai (The ‘Boulder or Bangalore’ expression has been traipsed all over).  

It had to apply immaterial of whether someone was a janitor or the Joint Secretary! Literacy, economics, skin colour shouldn’t come in the way.   Therefore it should cost next to nothing, yet be simple enough to practice and shouldn’t require “the skill that seems like Edison’s wizardry” to a grandma as she watched her grandson play Angry Birds on the I pad. 

Now that was an inconceivably towering future.  I was happy. 

With some satisfaction I reviewed the contours of what I had come up with. In no time, the satisfaction melted only to be quickly replaced by a deep churn in the stomach. If such was the contour, what could be solution and would I, of all people be able to come up with one?  

I’d rather seek help, I thought. And promptly thought I would ask random people seeking an answer.  It proved to be a swell idea. For every conversation left me refreshed. Some by what people wanted and yet others by the elegance with which people shared it all.  The bottom line: It left me with hope that all is not lost. At least not yet! 

For, the future that people wished to design for themselves was simple. Not one spoke of the next big gadget.  Surprisingly, none spoke of producing electricity from lint in the butt crack. Or something as arrestingly innovative as that.  Not even the everyday utterances like ‘global warming’, price rise or for that matter, corruption. Topics that I thought would stay in the forefront of people’s minds.  

NONE. I was flummoxed. To put it mildy.   

This was no national referendum.  Perhaps it was the surprise element. Or maybe how I looked, or asked the question. Or perhaps it was the lack of time to give a considered response. Whatever!  I had a variety of answers. All in the same genre. 

The answers bordered on these: Empathy. Listening. Conversing. Respecting each other. Innovation. Spreading some real happiness and cheer. Quiet reflection. Kindness.  

That made sense. Think of it, we are immersed in our gadgets. Locked up in apartments with wafer thin walls yet iron like cells. Our worlds have shrunk from the vast expanse that mother Earth had to offer to the silent vacuous confines of singularly lonely spaces punctuated only by the hollow glow of a Television set.  

Our view of the world shaped largely through that hollow glow mistaking argument for debate and searching for new lows in the quest for new least common denominators. We have very little time and lesser interest in seeing if another point to a story or a person exists, leave alone embracing it! 

The stories that we hear of fellow people that inhabit the earth, our next door neighbours and their cultures, their Gods their beliefs, practices are all monochrome ones. Perhaps black and white too.  Very narrow definitions that is easy for us to accept and process. Mixed up and cemented. The spectacular colour that every life can hold aloft for us, forever lost in the perpetual quest for speed in ‘slotting’ people, places and countries.  

A pattern was emerging in my mind and in another conversation; I asked a CEO friend ‘Where should we begin’. And he replied, in-between generous sips of his coffee and silence, ‘it’s not simple you see “. Just as I thought there he goes again, he said:  “If we need to design the future, we have to begin with the people that will take charge of the future. Our children”. 

 That made sense. 

On the way back from that meeting, I asked the elderly taxi driver what we should be doing! He said in a matter of fact manner ‘people must talk to each other’.  It hit me like a ton of brinks and silence engulfed the cab. Ironically omnipresent for the rest of the journey.  

That was a very productive day, by any stretch of imagination.  I was hunched on my desk till the wee hours, pondering on what the two elderly gentlemen had said.  I wrote on a piece of paper: “Are children taught to think?  Do they even get to stay still? Reflect on what they do? What they haven’t done? Do they get to play with a diverse set of other kids? Do they understand the value of simple conversation? Of listening and talking. “ 

I went to bed with those thoughts and woke up in a few hours. My plan for designing the future was ready!  It wasn’t anything spectacularly new.  For in one word, it was about CONVERSATION. 

Conversation!  The future ought to be a world where conversations flourish. Where we hold an idea aloft with empathy and debate it. To understand another not only from one monochromatic view of ‘an ‘issue or a position but to accept a person the way he / she is.  

That led me to my grand action proposal:  It’s time to mandate ‘conversation’ in school. Allocated time. Every day. To just find someone new, and talk. Get to know the person. The family. Perhaps exchange lunch.  Understand the food. Talk about interests. Reflect on the conversations. 


How about writing essays on such conversations?  How do we teach our kids to be passionately curious about many things in the world? To entice them to listen carefully and to sort the music in the noise! The design for our future thus must have conversation at school as a key!

With a flourish I told the missus the grand proposal.  Silence greeted me. Silence with hands on the hips. “Could you change her diaper please” was the response.  

 And as I dutifully changed my daughter’s diaper, I thought if my idea was some idealistic hogwash?  
Another ‘wayward waste of time’ as the missus would have liked me think?  What will it get us?  Will this lead to Promised Land? A land of plenty with smiles with angels playing the harp, science to liberate us and the latest maps that will keep us happy?

Perhaps not.  But this seemed to be a pretty good place to start.  Imagine a future where people talk to each other. Listen with empathy. Pass on some kindness. No, not necessarily ‘agree’ to all what the other person says. But enough to hear the other person that instills grace, even in defeat. 

And what better a place to start than school? My daughter let go of a laugh which thrilled me no end. 

The missus rushed in. Only to see the diaper change accomplished to perfection.  Her arched eyebrow in a surprise laden appreciation was all I needed to think that I had her stamp of approval to my idea.
  

The gap between the end and the bend !


We meet after a long while. After what seems like an eternity.  

He speaks of lost opportunities and missed chances. Inbetween stories of his valorous wins and overflowing juggernaut of his conquests. 

He suddenly stopped, and asked, why he hadnt seen a blogpost from me in a long while. ‘Have you given up on blogging ?’, he asks.

I tell him there is a difference between a ‘bend’ and an ‘end’ ! 

He looks vaguely. Emptily he fiddles with his brand new Rolex, which I think is a fake one, and says, I should blog about this. 

And I agree. 

Waking up yet again !


This blog & its readers have been pretty close to my heart. High up there, on the ‘important aspects of life’ hierarchy. Like all such aspects that are truly important to life like ‘love’, ‘family time’, ‘personal health’ etc, this blog too has silently suffered the insufficient attention (of even the incoherent writing). But as is with everything else that’s part of this ‘A list’, the situation is alterable!

Change !!

These have been busy times. Seeing some deep discussions, decisions and mind occupying stuff. So much so, that blog posts on ‘Teachers Day’, ‘Anniversary’, ‘modern day Bangalore’ and many such, havent had movement beyond two gloriously vapid paragraphs. Such ferociously loquacious attempts have since been consigned to the safe confines of the trash box with an flourish that begs many an award.

Hmm.. inbetween the last post on the Anna Hazare and this one, a few things have changed. While Anna Hazare himself has broken his fast, friends have moved on from having his picture as their profile picture on facebook. Those are besides the point.

What is well within the point, is the fact that my computer monitor screen has been flickering away to oblivion. Singalling the end of many years of dedicated service as pointless blogposts and passionate indulgences ( in photography, reading etc…what were you thinking ? ) were satiated through the net!

In other news, there was some travel. Noticing the pranky nephew and his brand new pranks were hugely satisfying. There were regular business meetings and other interactions that brought me face to face with interesting sets of people and a diversity of perspectives that can be mildly put as ‘abundant’. Which brought me to marvel at the spectrum of God’s creation all the way through. Oh yes, there is a spectrum out there. Let me stop going any further down this road.

Work has been heady and hectic. Had to state that. Just in case there are folks from work read this page. Really. Its been. Ok ?

So today, when the feet kicked out the slumber and emerged from the sheets, there was a resolve to restart all that ‘truly mattered’. With a promise to myself to drum up an explanatory post. That’s this post people.

Thank you for all your love. And just in case you are asking, ‘so whats new ?’… well, people look at the header and the ‘up in the cloud’ addition.

Change they say, generally begins in the head.

On this blog, its gone as far as the ‘header’ and not beyond ! 🙂


A goodbye and a hello !


A certain ‘she’ wrote a seemingly simple mail sometime back. Articulate and without much extravagance, she said that she could ‘sense’ that I was an ‘interesting’ person from whatever she read, but the blog ‘looked dated’. I went over her mail a couple of times. ‘Looks dated’ appeared six times in three paragraphs.

That was setting one energetic cat amidst all the sedentary pigeons. That something needed to be done was becoming evident. Given that this ‘she’ was a regular on the blog and generally had good intentions. Plus this wasn’t exactly the first time I was hearing this. Numerous friends had mentioned it. Many times over. Yet, this time, for some unknown reason, it was action time !

Furtive thought trains lead to ideas that were vacuously vapid or those that required an extravagance of time and money. (Both of which were are in perpetual short supply). If not any of those, whatever emerged from convoluted whorls of the brain, were ‘already taken’ !

Over time, laziness set in. The blog looked the way it always looked, while several attempts at ‘good posts’ came alive as temporal eccentricities! Readers kept coming and going. Ofcourse, some of you have stayed on, which I would like to believe is a function of arrangement of words here, although, I have a lurking feeling that it perhaps a consequence of alignment of my stars.

Either way, thank you!

Many other readers left comments like ‘ I read your blog, the pictures were nice’ which said quite a heapful on the quality of the writing. But life went on. The sun rose in the East and religiously went to the west. The Chinese were conquering the world. Scandal birth rate competed with rabbits’. The milk man was regular and late. Rentals were up. Work kept me occupied. Life was normal.

It was then, that yet another ‘he’ wrote rather plainly, that no matter what I thought of myself, I was no Scott Adams. To dramatise that further, quipped that having Dilbert as a profile picture was akin to having ‘your neighbours kid as your facebook picture’. That dramatisation hit the nail far and deep, not only for the muscle to quake but also the bone to ache.


My erstwhile profile picture

The silver lining though, was that he had presented a seemingly simple solution : Just change the profile picture. ok. First step to the solution. Ok ?

Voila !

Immediately ( a.k.a few weeks) a few precocious folks that are in the know of such cerebral matters were asked. Several ideas were tossed at a speed that was impossible to catch. Many went over the head and some went overboard.

‘If your blog carries your name, your photograph must be the mascot’ insisted most of them. I had to politely explain to them that the attempt was at reader ‘excitement’ and not readership extinction.

Blessed with a plain and forgettable face, bulges in wrong areas and recessionary trends in the rest, I could make a pretty picture in an ad for ‘this man transformed himself using our product’ with a before and after picture.

To spare you a long and laborious story, a new logo was to be created. That stood for ‘Kavis Musings’. Amongst the few options that came up, the missus rooted for this.


“It represents you. Your pictures. And your writing”.

It was stated differently though. Something along the lines of ‘Somekind of a loud mouth with an air of self anointed importance, and a wide eyed grin, waxing eloquence over seminal topics of global importance, that range from the way Trash Cans are designed to spelling mistakes in hoardings’. (And so on. You get the drift. Don’t you?)

Which when politely asked to explain, was eventually translated to : “It represents you. Your pictures. And your writing”. I quite agreed.

So there. That’s my new digital identity. Hopefully, you will like it. And continue to shower your tolerance and genorisity by coming back here.

Quite obviously you will see huge hoardings in your hometown announcing the change. Incase you don’t see those hoardings, please keep looking.

Ohh! I almost forgot. That was blog post number 500.

Realisations at 30000 feet !

I realise. I realise that the last time i wrote a blog post, was a period in history called ‘long back’. Or perhaps ‘So long ago..’. Giving it a stone age kind of feel. Stones. Deer skin etc ! Now that is stretching it too far. Yes. I realize.

I sit here on this airplane. With such realisations and impressions.

For instance, there is this grand realisation that people can stretch their vision far and wide. The lady sitting next to me has been reading all that i type onto the screen. It feels a little odd, to put it mildly.

I realise that typing that sentence has had no effect on her.

I realise. There are people in this aircraft, that are rude and crude. Like life. In general. As though there was a prize for being so. And there are people that are nice and neat. Like there is a prize for being so.

I realise. That if you don’t get the window seat, the chances of the one that did get it, wanting to get to the loo will be high! Almost as soon as the seat belt sign is switched off. You almost think, that the seat belt was the cause.

I realise. People can think no end of their cleverness! Like the gent who just refused to shut down his phone. ‘This is an important call’ he said. Sure pal. The rest of us are traveling in aid of the airline industry ! I realise that i sometimes rue my not having pursued some martial art technique or the other. Preferably something in the vicinity of ‘Gaze Kill’ !

I realise that nobody pays attention to airline safety demonstrations ! And of course, airline safety demonstrations are so vapid that they give vapid a bad name !

How about something like the air-hostess announcing “as soon as I am done with my demonstration, three random passengers could be asked to do the demo as a surprise test. If you fail, you would travel in the cargo compartment !”

I realise that air-hostesses and their names are getting my interest. With names like ‘Honey’, ‘Ruby’, ‘Pretty’, ‘Sweety’… well, first name basis seems to be one heck of an interesting arena !! When all of them are in the same flight, that could be providence doing a sun dance. Flights of fancy. Of course!

The lady sitting next to me, is getting restless now. So am i. This post has been thoroughly supervised by her ! Not that I am new to supervision per se.

Especially, when I have been married to her for a while.

Ah, that’s one more realisation ! Or perhaps admission ! Heights, you see. heights !

High 5 ? What 4 ?

On a bright sunny morning, a cuckoo flew into my mobile and congratulated the five years of
blogging. ‘Five years ! Phew !’ Said the mail from the kind soul, amongst other things. ‘Kavi’s Musings’ and five years ?

An extraordinary act of kindness for the cuckoo to look into my archives,keep track and reveal the score.

Ambivalently feeling both like a fossil and a lost in sea survivor arriving to a Republic Day welcome, the eyes popped and the heart beat surged. But five years? I wast sure. Toes and fingers aided counting and as has been the case from second grade, the result was inconclusive.

Profusely thanking the cuckoo and staying comfortable with that confusion, the mind went on a celebratory sepia tinged trip down memory lane.

It all started one Bangalore weekend. With my brother in a act of great kindness teaching some basics of blogging. Armed with fledgling knowledge and feeble know-how and delusion du jour, the tentative steps rolled out. One by one. And have rolled on.

It started with writing for a voice. Meandered to counting comments and then rested on counting ‘hits’! It didn’t take long to baulk at the meaninglessness of one more set of numbers of think of !

These days, its more about just being myself and having fun ! In some sort of surreal dance of joy to see the posts from fellow bloggers and my own insipid attempts at insight ! (Did i hear you say ‘fossil’? )

But hey, its been one heck of journey. One that would not have been possible without readers and co-travellers who have come back for more ! So a big thank you. If you are reading as far as this line of this post !

Given that this blog has side stories for its main story, coupled only with my own amateurish attempts at photography from half a camera, well, gratitude is mandated ! And the writing, well, writing…well, that slope is as slippery as a public toilet !

But, hold on. Am still lurking. Still learning. Still alive. This blog may not be setting the back-alleys of Bombay, Bangalore or Boston abuzz. Heck, it doesn’t even light the bulb in the balcony !

But then, it isn’t in the lighting up business. What has mattered is the love of friends around the world who have been found, established, rediscovered. The power of ideas exchanged. Calibration of the mind and whiff of what lies on the other side of the green ! Attempting pulchritude in the midst of pervasive pessimism !

Over filter coffee, sepia tone and beaming pride in tow, the missus was informed that the blog completes five years today. Only to be told, with ample evidence and enough proof to send defence lawyers to perpetual retirement, that that the blog is only four !

‘Not five’.

Of course the rest of what was said with an arch of the eyebrow, a sniff of the nose and oodles of love, vaguely in the domain of : growth is a slow process and that someday she does hope that i too will grow up, shall remain confined to the safety vaults of harmonious matrimony and world peace.

Heck. So what. Its an anniversary for this blog. Four years is no small time either. Before the missus lands in the scene, give me a High-Five people.

Quick. Before she asks ‘What 4’ , i must thank you for coming back to this page for more. Such acts of kindness keep the world spinning, i must say. If someone consents to be a chief guest, next year we’ll have a party !

(Presiding over a five year heap of posts from a blog like this would require courage, kindness and hope in equal measure ! Think about it. We have a year to go).

For now, i have been holding up my palm in the fond hope that someone will slap my palm and not aim anywhere lower !

Hits or Touches ?


And there is this lady. Who inspires with such inspiring accounts of personal courage, resolve and a passion to set things right. Driven with love and care. Her blog is here.

A couple of weeks back, she put a message up on her blog. About a free give away of a novel. To anyone who asked. And i did. Only half believing that a book will land at my desk. We lived many seas apart, you see.

Yet, in a couple of days, the publisher wrote. And last week, the book arrived. Roxana Robinson’s COST. Its proving to be an insightful and touching story.

It causes me to wonder about the number of people that i connect to on Kavis Musings ! The happiness that permeates, and the love that comes forth from readers and friends are just beyond measure.

And then, there is this gentleman. A simple soul with a large heart. Who lives in the UK. His blog is here.

The other day, he called. And we spoke. For about an hour and a half. Overseas call. He called. And we spoke about culture. About our pasts. Our families. Our histories. Our likes. And dislikes. Our people. Our surroundings. And so on.

Peels of laughter. Gasps of surprise. Shouts of joy. As we caught up with each other. Under normal terms, this would fit any conversation between friends. Old classmates, co-workers and others, who have gone their ways.

Or perhaps like the lost brother from the Indian cinemas. Yes, the one who got separated at a temple festival, only to reunited by a handkerchief or a song!

It was another matter though, that it was the first time, i was speaking to him.

He left this comment on this post asking for a contact number. He called from the UK. And we spoke. Insightful and impacting conversation. And i realise that good and goodness reside all around us. If only we are are more aware !

I for one, never could imagine that this blog has touched people across so many countries. And shores. And brought a wonderful array of friends and family together.

And i realise, i am often dumbstruck when some one asks me ‘why’ i write. The truth is difficult to state. But here it is : ‘i don’t know !’ It is beyond loving writing and sharing. Or photography. Or technology. Etc.

Like a man or a woman, who is dancing to music that seeps out of an ipod plugged to the ear, unmindful of an audience thats there or otherwise…i just am in the moment ! And thats exactly what happens when i compose a post here !

Having said that, I am ever greatful to readers who have flocked back again and again ! Like Shobha, Rush, Aleta and others who have stated it so. Lou and Balaji just tipped that feeling into a full fledged meandering post ! And there is a new wind in the sails, to get a bloggers meeting going on again.

There is so much life on planet Earth. Wonderful people. Stories of struggle. Wins. Losses. Passion. Persistence. Love. Joy. And just a feeling that we are all in it together. So, go on, keep those posts coming !

One more thing. Frankly the number of hits a blog gets isn’t big deal ! That’s a number that doesn’t matter. If lives are better off, and living is easier, and the soul is soothed, well, the numbers really don’t matter.

Hits are about numbers. Touching the soul is about life.