What Would It Take?

The champion on stage glides through choreographed music and synchronous applause. Some programmed tears that pop up for the camera do not take away the effort, dedication, talent and sacrifice of the winner. Being cognizant of what would it take to become a champion makes him more of a champion.

At other times, proximity numbs us from examining other lives. An uncle who waded through water to study. A neighbour who flew fighter planes. A good writer who has kept stubborn company of writing whilst  barely being able to pay his bills, ensconced in obscurity.  The list is limitless and has a promiscous stride across all walks of life. 

The spectacular ordinariness of everyday life can be cruel. What would it take to live an ordinary life that makes a difference to many, long after death.  Stellar lives with patently ordinary hues.  

For instance, what would it take to live like my great grandmother?

What would it take be like her?

What would it have taken to have a large heart, a loud mouth and a stellar soul?  The coop of grandkids and the farm of great grandkids will stand testimony to her dynamic presence and frame.  Some have her nose. Others have her presence. But none have it all. Which makes me wonder what would it have taken to be her?

Imagine 1950’s and 60’s.  Imagine being stopped at the gate of a large university in a big city, where you have travelled to. You are stopped at the gate, as you push for an admission for your grand daughter.  Imagine, you push your way across, stride through the portals of the University and go argue with a much heralded professor. Imagine winning the argument. Now imagine doing it all as a rural illiterate lady. That was her. Now tell me, what would it take to be like her?

To see a family splinter yet not lose hope. To see her wealth being usurped yet believing in abundance. To live through hatred and division with love. To believe in the girl child.  To walk tall. To love deep. To stay curious. Thats my memory of her. Enough for me to strive to learn what would it take to be like her.

I remember her free spirit and ready smile. Her worlds and her views. Her elegance and poise.  But most of all, I remember her stories. Those were vivid stories and there would be no ‘moral of the story’ at the end of it all. ‘Go figure’ she used to say. Her presience always stood alongside her presence. 

As I lit a lamp in her memory, I wondered if I should write about her. And then almost heard her sing Bharathiar‘s song to me. 

அச்சமில்லை யச்சமில்லை அச்சமென்ப தில்லையே
உச்சிமீது வானிடிந்து வீழுகின்ற பொதினும்
அச்சமில்லை யச்சமில்லை அச்சமென்ப தில்லையே

(Roughly translated to: No fear. No fear. Even when the skies implode no fear no fear)

“It doesn’t matter what others think of you or your work. Do what is right. And do it well”, she said. Even as she sank. That was many years ago.

I wish I knew what would it take to be like her.

An earlier piece about her is here

The Pink Pony

Days turn into nights. And nights lead to day. The repetitive patterns that lead to the next day, the next week, the next month and the next year form a beautiful facade that keeps in obscurity the years that speed by.

Then the years reveal themselves. Sometimes the mirror tells the story.  As a stray strand of grey morphs into a lock of plentiful grey. When a parent passes away, the realisation is stark. When a friend passes away, it is pronounced.  The parting of the beautiful facade, often comes in a reality check, happening in sorrowful environs.

Sometimes they do in moments of pure joy. Especially, if you have a little daughter like mine.

So the little miss has been going to school. She enjoys it and has had a great deal of fun thus far. One day in the last week, after a long and tiring day, I creep into bed.  Long after the little miss’s bed time. As the silence beckons me further into slumber, she wakes up. Realising that I have crept in and wakes me up too, demanding that the lights come on.

She is all excited and she wants to show me her ‘Pink Pony’. She opens her palm to reveal a small piece of plastic. I see the effect of her clutching it hard are showing on the palm too. The Pink Pony spread some pink to her palm as well.  She obviously has been waiting to show me. ‘Aryan gave it to me papa’ she said. In sleep soaked excitement. I gave her a bear hug ad asked ‘was it his birthday today?”


“No Appa”. She says. A tad disappointed and perhaps surprised at an antiquated line of thought.

“He gave it only to me”. She says with emphasis on the ‘only’.

“Ah”. I say.

With curiosity dripping out of every word I ask , ‘That sounds like fun. Tell tell me, tell me more’

“Because I like pink colour Appa”.  And that was that.

With those words she slips back into sleep. Clutching the pink pony and happy that her little secret was no longer just hers. I stare at her for a while and switched off the lights.  Her innocence and joy override my tired mind.

The next morning comes with the precision that is customary.  The missus catches me shooting darts into the clouds. “Thinking of the Pink Pony?”, she asks. “It is some toy that they give out in a Fast Food chain”, she says. I smile. I am thinking of something else.

She knows me well by now. She jumps tracks and joins my train of thought.

“She is no longer the tiny toddler that you carried on the sling” she says. I smile. “She is not the toddler who would purr like a cat to get some milk”.

I nod my head in silence. Even as I soak up the Pink Pony moment, I realise, it was riding away into the inner whorls of memory.  The simplicity of childhood, the sincerity of affection and the joys of watching kids growing up, can be the best way to age gracefully. Even as day turns to night and night to day, children add a rich melodrama to a vague momentum.  And that is precious.


When it rains, it pours. I sit and watch the rain rail against the window sill. Many years ago, when Facebook was nascent (and seems like the world was a better place) – a different profile picture greeted you on my Facebook timeline. It was this picture.




I recall the clicking of this picture. The beauty of the moment stood tall in solemn elegance. That which had just jumped off the cloud, had flirted with the railing for a brief trickle of a second, was poised to leap and flow into another moment. It got me to smile.  That it was going to jump off was sure to happen. Yet there was a small swirl of energy to the moment. The moment when imminent change that was expected just about arrives, there is a certain magic in the dramatic poise. If you care to notice it, that is.

To me, this droplet of rain, held an entire monsoon together.

My dad lived in an era where there were no special days called ‘Fathers Day’.  He wouldn’t give a damn and urge us to think of ‘meaning’. Thinking of him today seems natural, when rain strikes. For several years he had a giant poster in the dining room. It said, “A single rose can be my garden”.

That was many seasons ago. Much rain has kissed the Earth since then. Facebook has since grown. Many new people came into it suddenly adding relevance to several lives. Many left. Because of the very reason that many ‘new’ others were in. The rains, though,  have been keeping their seasonal regularity with this part of the country. I have looked forward to their arrival like a child for the customary goodie from a visiting uncle. The rains have helped keep stock of the passing years, like nothing else. The most physical of the changes to seasons in this part of the world.

I write this, sipping freshly made filter coffee and staring into the Sunday evening that is fast giving way to the night before Monday morning. Monsoon clouds have enveloped the Sun and make the intense rays of summer a distant memory, and bringing smiles to a parched population. This monsoon will be intense. I think so. I hope so.

Last July, I was in Goa driving in the rain along with some wonderful folks.  When a sudden shower got the wipers on the windshield of a new car, work hard.  This picture resulted.



For a long while I stared at this picture and realised that this picture held me tight. The new me. Whatever happened to the single drop, I ask myself? Nothing. Actually nothing. The beauty and poise of the single drop will always remain and stay close to me. The energy of a dash of drops moves me beyond the past.

As the coffee runs dry on the tumbler, I reach out to my camera. Wondering what new images my camera will capture.  Sometimes the pictures within you come alive in the words that sprout off the keyboard or the images that the camera captures.

And rain, oh rain. I have a song playing in the background. It goes like this.

Here comes the rain again
Falling on my head like a memory
Falling on my head like a new emotion
I want to walk in the open wind
I want to talk like lovers do
I want to dive into your ocean
Is it raining with you

Rose 2

A fresh sprouting of a rose catches my eye as much as it catches a bit of rain. The rain dances on the petal. The soul feels refreshed and there seems to be a colourful renewal. The rain does that to you. New hopes sprout. In a while, I peer at the images on my desktop screen wondering if I did justice to the rain. Or to the rose for that matter. A moment later I think about the new hopes and renewal.  The rain has that effect. Always.

Beware the busy life!

We were in the middle of a discussion about possibilities for the future. The future painted itself as an alluring picture. One member of the team that was discussing the problem, was clearly worried. That worry stemmed from the load that the present day and its travails threw in already. There were processes to build. Projects to complete. People to meet. His calendar remained filled to the brim. He wondered where he would pull time out from for this ‘future’ discussion?

It was soon apparent that we weren’t headed anywhere. Nobody competes against a full calendar. Unless you are insanely brave or completely naive! We were stuck. It became clear that if we wanted to get anywhere productive, we needed to step off the ‘busyness’ treadmill. That was tough. Considering how critical the present day challenges were.

We are all genuinely busy. Aren’t we? With overflowing calendars and a constant hum in our minds about how busy we are and how much we miss leisure.

The busy life occupies us and our imagination. In this lovely piece in the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert reviewing ‘Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time’ by Brigid Schulte, writes that being busy has acquired ‘social status’.  ( Here is another review of the same book. This time, by the NYT )

“Keeping up with the Joneses now means trying to out-schedule them”, she writes. Some of us are afflicted with what I call the ‘Full Calendar Syndrome’. The condition that causes palpitation upon seeing a few slots on the calendar ‘open’. Busyness reassures many of us with a sense of worth and progress. But what a travesty, that. More on that later.

Amongst the things that ‘busyness’ robs us of, is the possibility of looking around and seeing beyond our problems. Often times, the very aspect of looking in another direction gives us great clarity on the problems we work on. Full calendars and occupied minds, prevent us from creative thinking and missing obvious solutions that could be staring us in the eye otherwise.

John Maynard Keynes wrote “Economic Possibilities for our grandchildren” in 1930.  Kolbert’s piece pointed to this paper and obviously I downloaded it in some spare time, in the midst of being busy.

Its ten pages long and a fascinating piece to read, and to think of how his mind traveled a hundred years from the heights of the Economic Depression of the 1930s to peer into the future is some thought in itself.

Simply and simplistically put, Keynes felt that a hundred years from 1930 there would be so much wealth in the world that would automatically lead to an abundance of leisure!

His thoughts on the scale of our economic growth are well in tune with where the world has reached. But his posits on the scale of economic growth leading us to having substantial leisure hasn’t seen the light of the day. In fact, we have gone the other way. Wealth has only increased our ‘buysness’ and leisure has almost acquired the status of a bad word.

Bertrand Russell, another of those men, who rode those times with thoughts and words that caused people to pause and think, wrote “In praise of idleness” in 1935. (He makes a persuasive case for a four day work week which obviously, didn’t go a great distance but it’s a great read nevertheless). “The general thesis which binds the essays together is that the world is suffering from intolerance and bigotry, and from the belief that vigorous action is admirable even when misguided; whereas what is needed in our very complex modern society is calm consideration, with readiness to call dogmas in question and freedom of mind to do justice to the most diverse points of view.”

I would call to special attention “..vigorous action is admirable even when misguided..”

While ‘Busyness’ is certainly something to contend with, the other aspect that bears down on us heavily is the hysteria that surrounds our ‘busyness’, in our own minds. How many of us think our days are so packed that we don’t have a minute to breathe? Of course, most of us! On the one hand, we pack our days with much work (and if we don’t, there is worry that seeps in) and on the other our constant refrain in our minds revolves around ‘how busy we are’ and how much that interferes with what we would rather be doing!

The question that begs our attention, large chunks of it, is this : “What am I busy with?” It is but obvious that this question hardly gets asked and the possibility of it getting answered with care and thought, is even more remote.

Too busy to improve

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life” – Socrates

Socrates said it like none else.

There are strikingly simple things that can be done to jump off this treadmill. Simple stuff. For one, a simple scan of our workday will lead us to some levels of insight. Are we really busy with stuff that counts or is it a meaningless routine that we hazily go through the motions.

Conscious Choice
Leading a life of purpose and commitment, as cliched as it may sound, against a life of ‘routine busy’ is a result of conscious choice. It has to be consciously lived by design before it becomes a default mode of living. In the absence of conscious choice and action, there is enough and more of an activity swirl that happens around us that keep us going and suddenly we wonder where the last several years went!

Elizabeth Kolbert further writes, “Our frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness. Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day”.

She goes on to write, “…so it’s hard to see this pretense of indispensability as anything other than a form of institutional self-delusion”

The antidote to this of course is to pause, find some time and think about life! To figure out what you are driven by? How do we want to get there? These need to be thought through and worked out. It is but obvious that several times, our choices are unconscious. From a set of options that popped in front of us because of the circumstances that we are in. Not a set of options that we created in line with what we wanted to do in life! To use the much abused and cliched word : ‘Purpose’!

Our life choices need thinking. Its our life. Even if our lives have many elements of routine, there are always avenues to make them rich and full.

If there was one purpose to this note it is this : to cause you to get to a “pause and ponder” mode about your ‘busyness’.  If you have come this far in this post, well, you might as well consider doing that. 🙂

Writing goals down and concertedly working on it, is a great place to begin. It works. All the time. Far better then when you dont write it down. If you have the time that is. Writing them down is perhaps the wheel that can set your success cart rolling in the right direction! Its a great first step. Of course, most of us know this. The question really is, ‘how many of us practice this’!

Do you?

Crowing about the breeze

The expansive inviting air that the sea and sand bring is frequently marred by interruptions of commerce of the ‘wants and desires’ fame. Commerce that comes in the form of the ice cream seller who peddles the rosy syrupy ladles of crushed ice and the photographer chap who has the charming nerve to tell me that my camera is no good and that his camera is best suited for Juhu! We walk. Actually, we run. Me and the missus. Chasing the daughter. It must have been very funny to look at from a distance.

Imagine this. An ice cream seller, and a couple of professional photographers on a beach are chasing a couple, trying to sell them wares and skills. The couple themselves look completely haggled and freshly hassled, as they run to keep pace with their daughter. Leading them is their daughter. Running in myriad random directions that could give new meaning to what random is. With tender legs landing on shifting beach sand, a cackle for no reason and a cry at the drop of a hat. She is chasing crows today.

Ahead of the daughter are a bunch of crows. A murder of crows, if you will. The crows are in a playful mood today. They have wings that could take them to the end of the beach. But they make inept use of them today, as they respond to the daughters chase by hoping a few feet and then, a few more feet.




It must have been quite a sight. The ice cream seller chasing two overgrown couple, who are chasing a daughter at her playful best, who is chasing crows!

Today I sit by the table lamp and recall all of this happening as I read the story of the crow to the daughter. The crows were at their most playful bit.

The ice-cream seller and the photographer were the first bogeys in that silly Sunday beach train to disengage. Fairer weather beckoned the ice-cream seller in the form of a couple behind an umbrella, who certainly were talking about the policies of the International Monetary Fund & the antecedents of global warming. In some time, the photographers and their pleas for a picture in return for an exorbitant sum of money, vanished perhaps realising the futility of the chase.

It fills me with warmth and oodles of delight to recall that day.

The daughter’s relentless energy kept the crows on their toes. Or maybe it was the other way round. After what seemed like three hundred and thirty nine years, the crows had enough of this nonsense and just took off on a whim. The daughter clapped and cheered. She after all had driven the crows off the beach. Mommy-daddy slopped on to the sand. Like a marathoner who used the last ounce of his energy to cross the finish line and collapse.

And that was that. A morning at the beach. That fills us to the brim with happiness and brings a smile on my face every time we think of that time or just happen to look at snaps from there.

There are other mornings that have seen us take trips to the mall and such other places that thrive with throbbing consumers. Buying labels to super size smaller persona. Indulgences that gladden the senses,  careening past truck sized egos and slick people. These stay remarkably distant in the memory while the soul searches for many such lost morning and the wallet sheds silent tears.

In contrast, the mornings that stay are the ones when we randomly went shooting the breeze and lunging at crows, with commerce making futile attempts to reach our pockets. Or the time when we spent curled up with a book or drawing pencil sketches on the magic slate. I wonder if its just me, or that is the way with the world.

Heres to a happy week people.  Do shoot the breeze and stay friendly to crows. They give you new wings even while they are on their toes.

‘3 Worst Things’ and a few questions

When this image first landed on my phone via a Whatsapp group, as a sarcastic take on the state on the lives of a few people, it evoked a chuckle as some smart images do. After all, aren’t these triumvirate narratives dominating connected lives?!


Three Worst Things that can happn

  • Do you have Wifi connectivity?
  • How good is bandwidth?
  • How strong is your battery?

These questions hold answers that determine how good a connected experience is going to be! So much so, these have become hygiene.

But in minutes, something else happened. A metaphor jumped out from the image. Arent these very good pointers to determine life success in itself, in the new connected world and beyond? These were perhaps relevant even when technology didnt become a mainstay in our lives.

Many years ago, I recall reading Stephen Covey’s “Clock & Compass” metaphor. The Compass gives direction and the clock helps us stay the course on time.  It is a powerful metaphor. That metaphor continue to be timeless and relevant.

Perhaps a new age kid will see more meaning in Wifi, Bandwidth and Battery than in the Clock and the Compass! Perhaps. That brings me to the questions that we perhaps need to ask ourselves in the connected world and beyond.

a. Wifi is magical, isnt it? It helps you stay mobile, yet stay connected to the whole world.  A gateway to the far seas and near lands. A better connection means a far better experience.

A network of people being more powerful than individual nodes has emerged as not only an oft repeated narrative, it is simply too powerful a narrative to miss. Staying connected to this network, cultivating relationships through conversations and exchange is so key. Perhaps it is time to take a pause and ask the Question #1:What am I doing to build connections? Perhaps the question has a different ring to it if worded “Why must the people that I seek to connect to, at all care about connecting with me?” 

b. Bandwidth is a factor that determines the quality of most online experiences. The internet bandwidth and also the capabilities of the device to process all the bandwidth.  Amongst the many downsides of the connected world, the surfeit of data and stimuli that come our way, ranks amongst the highest.  Am I connected to the right folks across boundaries? People who live at the intersection of generosity, expertise and learning.

Increasingly, the inner bandwidth to process these has become so key. Cutting through all the noise outside and inside and being able to recognize patters and living fully in the moment is so key! Self awareness and the ability to dig deep beyond easy surface level awareness distinguishes the outstanding leader from the average one. Question #2: So, when was the last time I invested in increasing network and processing bandwidth? What did I do? 

c. The third aspect is the sheer energy to go on and on! The world is a small place and it never stops. To engage in this kind of a world requires energy levels of the highest order. A healthy diet, physical exercise, and sufficient rest are all important components to keep our batteries charged over sustained periods of time. A poor battery life can bring to naught any and all advantage that may come from strong connectivity and good bandwidth! Question #3: What am I doing to keep my energy levels up?

Someone said, if you don’t practice good habits consciously, the bad ones creep in unconsciously. If our lives don’t have significant plans for each of the three questions, we may not miss the opportunity of thriving in the new networked era, we perhaps are setting ourselves up for disaster.

The next time, these symbols show up on your device, remember to ask yourself how you, the person holding the device is faring on these!

There are a zillion things that you do, that could serve as an inspiration to someone to get start and it would be lovely if you could share. Would love to hear.


These days I open Facebook with a mild trepidation thinking of all the stuff that show up on my social media timelines. Ranging from the inane to the insane. From the incredulous to the ridiculous. Very rarely is there something that is truly incredible. Stuff that people post that make me go back in there. Like this video below. 

A fascinating piece that the Films Division has released in 1967. A montage of people that were born on 15th Aug 1947. Something like a 20-20. They turned twenty when free India turned twenty. The visual collage weaves their hopes for the future and gives a snapshot of what it was to have lived in 1967! 

I have watched the video a few times over now and hope you would snatch 18 minutes of your time to do so, once!
Lodged firmly in it are the reckless confidence of youth. The seemingly unsurmountable challenges of then and how they continue to haunt us now. And in the twinkle in the eye you can almost see the promise that ‘the tomorrow’ held for them.  In the assertive confidence, pale quiver in the lips or in the obscure dream of making it in the future, I see the present day sitting and smiling too. 

Only now it is all in a HDMI supported colour with more jazz. How much has life changed for the ordinary man on the street? Tom Brokaw, in a commencement speech put it eloquently : “It will do us little good to wire the world if we short circuit our souls”
What will the tomorrow hold? How different will that be?  I wonder if we have let a promise slip by. More importantly I wonder what it will take to keep the promises we made to ourselves when we were younger! What will it take for the twenty somethings of today turnaround and say, we have moved on? 
Do give the video a dekho. The wheel of time spins with remarkable alacrity. As much as things change, the scale of stuff that remains the same is just incredible. A truly remarkable piece, I must say. 

Wheels within wheels

Of the several inflection points in the evolution of man, the invention of the wheel has occupied a place of prominence that is unrivaled   Wheels have powered mankind’s evolution. Wheels within wheels have taken it to a different level. For now, we’ll stick to wheels!  

The wheel, once upon a time it was plain functional. It lent itself well for the making of pots and utensils or for a slightly more glamorous utilitarian attachment to carts, wagons et al for transport. 
Wikipedia will lead you to the information that it wasn’t until 1839 that someone thought of ‘balance’ and invented the bicycle. God bless his soul.  Man obviously didn’t stop with bicycle and two wheels. While four wheels have become de rigueur in most urban homes, the ordinary man on the street has to be content with a couple of wheels less. Or atleast one less! 
This post celebrates the ‘cycle’ in India! 
There can be no instrument that is as grossly under rated as this humble piece of engineering! We could put a man on the moon, but to an average Indian, we would have truly arrived on any planet only when a bicycle ride is possible. 
Around the world, the bicycle is synonymous with calorie burning or as contraption to save the planet. For many in India and other nations though, it is a basic means to livelihood. Here are a few examples.  


Ask the laundry guy. The clothes of an entire neighbourhood (which can get as big as a small country), gets rolled into bigger bed sheets, and carefully bundled on to become big lumps that helped balance. Taken for a wash and a press.  An entire industry survives. A neighbourhood walks fresh and sprightly! 


The rickshaw and the tricycle continue to be lynchpins in transporting people in many parts of rural India. The power of bulging human calfs, heaving biceps and ballooning invisible lungs doing the work that infinitely more powerful inanimate engines do around the world.  

While this can seem to be all romantic and such else, the bicycles last mile connect to the business world can be missed only at the cost of being comfortable with the idea that this blog is operating beyond the outer limits of its mental capabilities. 

The refills, the trips for money collections, the market visits to the local corner store, all happen more often than not on a bicycle. Equipped with specially designed carry cases that could teach design studios a thing or two about innovation. 

The list is long. Newspaper delivery. Cooking Gas. Courier services. Groceries. And so on.  The bicycle has often proven that putting all eggs into one carrier is often not a bad idea, but a necessary pre-requisite for business. 

Stories abound about how bicycles have been used for generating electricity to the Mysore palace  and similar stories that would flare your ears and stretch your imagination when you try answering the question : ‘What else?”


News when nestled within the columns of a newspaper take a different shape and hue when something similar is spotted in real life. For instance, a bicycle that can transport and help sharpen knives when stationary. A contraption that comes alive by pedaling a stationary bicycle thereby getting a different stone wheel to rotate! Which sharpens knives!  
Wheels within wheels and sharpening of knives could well sound like tales of palace intrigue and politics. But if this ingenuity and spirit of making it possible, shapes our lives, our collective futures will take to a different height by a factor that can be too high to compute.

Speechless in speed

There he was. Unmindful of the sweltering Sun and the svelte women walking by.  Staring into the sky and doing nothing but that. But doing that significantly well. A picture of poise and presence. 

“What will it take for us to do that ?”, I asked. 

“Retirement” she replied. 

I gasped. “Retirement ?!!?”

She was quiet. I figured she was thinking about it.  She added “perhaps in the middle of a long holiday. In  a place where the phones dont work. Not when the holiday starts. Not when its all set to end. But somewhere in the middle”. 

She sighed.  “But you know, long holidays are a privilege of a few”. 

City lifestyles with the comforts of instant coffee, instant photographs, instant ( & incessant) texting, instant delivery, immediate needs, first impressions, instant makeovers all provided by cash spewed from an ‘Any Time Money’ machine or credit cards that work with a swipe, has held sway over us from second to second. One thing to tend to after another! 

Thoughts piled on. 

The universal shortage of empathy, the short shift that kindness and harmony are getting in the spirit of ‘anything goes’ as long as it is ‘super quick’, ‘super fast’, ‘delivered at the door step’ at a ‘decent price’.  

I cleared my throat. Mildly aware that the topic had me started and I was like a heavy monsoon cloud waiting to pour! I

Which is when she said : “I have been thinking of a quick holiday myself”.  The emphasis on the ‘quick’ couldnt be missed.  

The speech which was all set to march like an army on fire, went straight back into the barracks.  

Pretty quickly. I must say.  

Kerala calling !

Just back from a trip to Kerala. For reasons that fall somewhere in the vicinity of ‘personal work’. For those of you that think of that as a well qualified oxymoron, well, it is very much in use. Just run a random sampling of reasons employees give their managers, when the need to take a few days off! Thats that.

Kerala is a place that one always looks forward to. Green. Clean. And ever so offering something new to be seen.

Wavy mountains, pristine plains, wonderous waterways, and always : awesome people. Cochin was where the aircraft touched down. A proud Kerelite calls it Ernakulam and the moment you say, ‘Cochin’, well, they dont give you a dirty look. But, my friend, life is slightly uphill for you after that!

Ernakulam, the metropolis it is seeking to become seems to seamlessly bridge the gap between the past, the present and the future. Its not as though I am new to this place. Some eight years ago, work used to take me every month to Kerela ! It was almost home.

This time around several things were new. Time had worked its magic. Villas and property advertisements jostled for space amongst the ubiquitous ones for jewellery. Roads were wider. At a couple of places where the mind clearly remembers a ‘dead end’ the road seems to have had a fresh lease of life, dutifully coloured by teeming traffic.

And then, there was this tender coconut vendor I used to frequent. Who was still there, vending his tender coconuts. At the exact spot where I had last seen him several years ago. It was surreal. Almost like a group of children playing ‘Statue’ and freezing a part of town. But I only had to look up, to realise how close I thought I was to ‘Statue’, yet how far I was from the truth.

For right above his head, was a new giant hoarding selling ‘3 BHK, 4BHK villas’ with a picture of a ever so happy family clinging together. Pandering to the great Indian dream of owning a house, even if it meant, paying an arm and a leg as EMI !

All the while the tender coconut vendor had been climbing up those slender coconut trees and bringing down those coconuts for the parched throat, ‘development’ had seem to have gone above his head, and completely missed him. For better or worse ? The jury is out on that one !

In other news..

Inbetween all the work that we had to complete, the greedy traveler and big city dweller that I am, took the time to soak in the clean air, fill up a few GB worth of photographs, take a peep into life in an estate etc etc ! Not to mention, soaking into the hospitality of friends and family. ( Which actually reads ‘eating like a shameless glutton.’ )

Posts and pictures follow.

Watch this space.