Friday, September 28, 2012

Of Communication

The one thing that we human beings – the so-called ‘social animal’ – rely upon is Communication. Surprisingly, this is the same thing that we seem to be extremely bad at, at least most of us. There is not a single thing that we can say that is not open to misinterpretation.
Take as simple a thing as the routine greeting “Good Morning!” I have had responses ranging from the routine “Good Morning” (or ‘Morning” from the super-bosses!) to the combative “What is so good about this morning?” to the ill-willed “So! You think I will not even know it is morning unless you tell me so?” It seems like this ordinary phrase can mean a pleasantry to some, a statement of incorrect fact to others and an insult to the ultra-sensitive few!
What, then, can be said about the longer sentences? When a husband says, “Today the meal was really delicious” one can imagine reactions ranging from pleasure to “So it was not good all this while?” to “Am I your cook that I should satisfy you?” depending upon whether it is taken as praise or as implied criticism or as a patronizing gesture. The way it is taken seems to have scant little to do with the words that are used.
When you call up a friend and he responds, “I am busy now. Can we talk later?” what do you think? Do you take it literally to mean that he is stuck with something or that he is acting pricey or that he is trying to avoid you? Every communication seems to communicate a lot more than the mere words – because it is interpreted through a prism of past history, the circumstances of the people concerned as well as the expectations that they have of each other.
If from sentences that are, in and of themselves, inoffensive there is so much offense that can be taken, what then can be said of words of criticism? “You do not look good in this hairdo!” is simply an invitation to responses ranging from “If you think I am ugly, why did you marry me?” to “So, you do not love me nowadays” to “Who is that other woman?”
I always wonder why people will do this to themselves. It seems to me that the meaning read into words is invariably the interpretation that causes the most hurt to the person doing the interpretation. It seems to me that people hate the idea of being happy – considering that they invariably seem to bend all their capabilities to find their way to misery!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Good in Me, The Good in You

I am thrilled that my 100th post of the current calendar year is again a tag post. When I started blogging I thought that the genius of my writing would shine through like a beacon and draw readers to my blog like moths to a flame! The idea that the light of my genius did not cause my blog to shine like a star and people can be dazzled only when they came into my blog dawned on me much later.
The question was ‘How do people even know that your blog exists leave alone know how you write?” Blogging Communities were certainly a big help but networking, it seemed to me, was the only way I could inform people that I too inhabit this sphere. Of the many means of networking, tagging is one way of being introduced to readers and of introducing good bloggers to readers.
I am blessed by the fact that I have found enough affection from fellow-bloggers, who have been kind enough to tag me repeatedly. Since I have been tagged in my early days of blogging, my own memories of scrounging for readers (and I am still scrounging!) is too fresh in my mind for me to let go of the opportunity of doing my bit for other bloggers by way of tagging them. This once I am trying to limit myself to bloggers whom I have not already tagged as well as bloggers who are not already familiar to the known readers of my blog.
As usual I am getting ahead of myself. I have been tagged this time by a very popular blogger – and one of the few with whom I have met and interacted – The Fool. It is a privilege to be tagged by him and he has also been kind enough to write in praise of my posts – and coming from a reviewer of note it means a lot. What I do not understand is that he claims that I need no introduction! To maybe a handful of readers that is true but the vast majority would probably react ‘Suresh, who?” It is nice to be considered popular but it would be far nicer to actually be popular and I would not want the former to come in the way of the latter!!
To get back to the subject under discussion, let me first mention the rules of this tag.
1.      You are tagged.
2.      You give links to posts that belong to each of the following categories
1)      Your most beautiful post.
2)      Your most popular post
3)      Your most helpful post
4)      Your most controversial post
5)      A post whose success surprised you
6)      A post that you thought did not get the attention it deserved
7)      A post which you are most proud of
3.      You select five bloggers for passing on the tag and inform them about their being tagged.
My most beautiful Post: I am not too sure if beauty is a word that will ever spring into anyone’s mind upon reading any of my posts. If, however, I may extend that term to mean ‘emotionally touching’ and if I may assume that a post qualifies based on the nature of the comments, I would say that ‘The Gates of Hell’ would qualify under this category.
My most popular post: I have no means of assessing popularity except by pageviews or comments. Bar one post, ‘Yesterdays and Tomorrows’ qualifies as the most-viewed post and, certainly, has invoked the most comments of all my posts.
My most helpful post: I normally write either humor pieces or short stories and thus, except as entertainment, my posts cannot qualify as helpful. I have written quite a few pieces on Philosophy, however, which may be considered helpful. The one post that is most materially helpful is, possibly, “The Arithmetic of Retirement”.
My most controversial post: I am normally non-controversial and like to be so. The one time I deliberately wrote what I thought of was a controversial post was “On Criticism on Blogs”. That, surprisingly, did not cause any controversy with any disinterested reader. “My Guest post for Alka Narula, Again” on the long-standing 'Ram’s treatment of Sita' issue did give rise to a lot of argument, if not controversy.
A Post whose success surprised you: I think of all my posts as just what the world should be rushing in to see and read first thing in the morning and, thus, obviously I am the last person to be surprised when any of my posts succeed! (So much for my reputation for modesty!!) “Eviction”, however, surprised me when it gained 200+ page views in a day – and without any spam comments to explain the upsurge. If you consider the fact that – up to then – not a single post had got 200 Page-views in toto you can understand why I was surprised and continue to be so.
A post that I thought that did not get the attention it deserved: I am modest – as everyone will tell you – and, thus, I do not expect more than a quarter of the English-literate population to read each of my posts. Going by those ‘modest’ standards no post has truly got the attention that I think it deserved!! Even by the standards achieved by my latter-day posts none of my earlier posts have been paid any attention.
For me, however, ‘Marketing Battles’ is a 8-part post that deserved more attention. It is a fun tale to read in my opinion. It can also be read as a relatively painless introduction to the basic concepts of Marketing Management. At another level it is also a parody of a world that advertising can bring into being. With all this it has largely been an ignored series – whether because of the length or because the values I see in the post are only a mirage, I do not know!
A post I am most proud of: Mmm! For this I have to select the one that I found difficult to write and managed to do very satisfactorily. The Fool had challenged me to write an Indianised version of the movie Wild Hogs - which I have still not seen - and I managed to write ‘Desi Wild Hogs’ and, in my opinion, did a very decent job of a humorous story.
Now for the bloggers I wish to tag.
Abhyudaya : I have been a fan of his cartoons for some time now.
Bhushavali : The amount of traveling this young woman has crammed into her life is astonishing.
Ash : I like her humor posts though she is articulate about social issues as well.
IndianSatire : He runs a nice line in funny horror-scopes.
Kappu : Writes fiction and day-to-day happenings with equal versatility.
I do hope that each of them actually continues the tagging and bring more bloggers into the purview of their respective readers.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Trip to Munnar

Lounging lazily on the verandah in front of our wooden cottage at Club Mahindra and gazing out at the view in front of me, I could not help thinking that it was worth the tiresome and, for me, fearsome journey from Bangalore to Munnar. Fearsome merely because it involved a 130 odd kilometers drive from Cochin to Munnar. My stomach tends to be considerate of the cars I ride in and tries to lighten the load on the car by emptying itself through the mouth. Luckily no such mishap happened – though R.Suresh, Venky and Meera may violently disagree about the luck, because it meant that they had to listen to me singing non-stop!
 The play of mist and sunlight on the valley and the distant hill was endlessly engrossing. It had been raining in Munnar and how lovely greenery looks when it is glistening with moisture! The drive towards Club Mahindra had its entrancing sights too – with waterfalls and the orderly verdant beauty of tea plantations – and the destination lived up to the promise of the route. R.Suresh and Venky were almost coerced into clicking pictures every other second since every change in the light and mist play highlighted a new facet of the view (All pics in this post by R.Suresh on his IPad).
One of the things that I relish in any stay at Club Mahindra is the sumptuous spread – particularly for breakfast. I have never been known to be a frugal eater but, when I am here, I tend to outdo myself and that is saying quite a lot. An over-full stomach and a road trip do not normally go together – and it was one of those normal times when we went to view the Gudampara valley.
The road for the most part was quite good. Then, we shifted to a jeep to go inside the forest towards the view point. Of all the tracks that I have traveled this one easily takes the cake for being the most bone-rattling trip ever. For about five kilometers, we felt like clothing probably does inside a washing machine.
The view at the end of it all was well worth the trip. The plains of Tamil Nadu were laid out like a miniature model in front of us and even distant towns could be seen. The guide said that, beyond a point at the view-point, it was Tamil Nadu territory – and, as if on cue, our mobiles chimed with SMSes welcoming us to Tamil Nadu!! We had barely spend about 10 minutes there when a sudden downpour caught us out in the open and we were drenched before we could race back to the jeep.
It is one of my idiosyncrasies that I constantly overestimate my own physical prowess. We indulged in river-crossing – which meant that we dangled upside down, harnessed to a pulley that ran on a steel cable across a piddly little stream and were expected to pull ourselves to the other side by the strength of our arms. Looked easy enough when R.Suresh did it first but, God, came the time for me to pull myself over it was pure hell. After hitting the middle and with my overweight body pulling the cable down so far that the angle of ascent seemed about 30 degrees, I was totally exhausted by the time my head hit the platform on the other side. When the chap asked me if he could pull me over I assented eagerly – mentally kicking myself all the while for not having thought of asking him to do so at mid-point!
Meera opened my eyes to a new world of plants. Hitherto, all I had seen was that they were mainly green and of various shapes and the little bits of color that dotted the landscape were flowers. Being a serious plant-lover and grower, she had insisted on a visit to a nursery. That is a visit that will live on in my memory. How endlessly inventive and beautiful Nature is in the shapes, sizes and colors of leaves and flowers! Being enraptured by a view is nothing new to me but getting engrossed in the minute details of the components of a view was an enthralling experience. (By the way, Meera bought about a dozen plants and was agonizing for the rest of her stay there about whether she would be allowed to take them back home on the flight. In case any of you are wondering about the same, they do allow you!)
By the time the visit ended, it seemed such a pity that it ended so soon. Well! There is always a next time!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Salad Variations

I never knew what I had let myself in for when I promised myself to attempt every single contest on Indiblogger this year! There I was, happily thinking that I would be writing essays about various matters of utter disinterest to the populace at large, and what do I find? First I have to write about ‘Internet is fun with Vodafone’, when the jury in my mind was out – and scattered to the four winds – on whether Internet was fun at all! As though that were not enough, I had to write about Lakme sunscreen lotion, in which I even managed to win a consolation prize. Then came the Dove Hair Care contest – and only someone who has lost almost all his hair can understand how vexing a topic it can be for him. Thereafter, the bachelor had to gird up his loins for a dissertation on Love Marriage vs. Arranged Marriage.
With an imaginary trip to Melbourne done, I heaved a sigh of relief only to remember that there was yet another contest that sought recipes!! RECIPES!! Ye Gods, was it necessary to drive in the lesson about the risks of making thoughtless promises so thoroughly. Admittedly I had not proved a bright student in the past but does this not seem like too much of over-kill? Should I roll over and die like Caesar and leave Anthony to say, “This was the unkindest cut of them all”? Should I, like Cain, bemoan “My punishment is more than I can bear”?
With my fingers crossed that none of the readers, who actually read Cooking Woes, would turn up to read this one, I sally forth into the contest to win stomachs. Mmm! Fruit slices, fruit drinks, pasta, sauces and corn! Now what does one make with all this and find edible? I commune with my brain and find that it stubbornly refuses to consider pasta edible! Now what? Maybe drowning the protests of my brain in alcohol would help!
Ah! Now, that is a brainwave.  Why not give recipes for cocktails? Vodka, Pineapple juice, crushed ice with a pineapple slice stuck on the glass – now that would use pineapple juice and fruit slices, would it not? Vodka, Green Apple juice and crushed ice? Having drowned alcohol in every possible beverage and consumed it, I could think of even a vodka and prune juice combination. So, maybe, I do have a few recipes!
Hang on a second, though! Is it likely that any possible manner of drinking alcohol has been left out of the reckoning by the eons of drinkers? Do I not remember P.G.Wodehouse mentioning a combination of whisky and Orange pop in one of his pieces? I mean, if even that weird combo has already been tried out, what chance do I have of having any combination of alcohol and beverages being considered unique? Mmm! Not such a brainwave, after all!
What had I ever done in the kitchen using sauces? Avoiding thoughts of my kitchen exploits had become second nature – after all, one is not too interested in exploring a series of one’s own debacles – but I force myself to go through that painful process. Try as I might, the only thing I can remember is adding water to tomato sauce, boiling it, adding a dash of pepper and then convincing myself that it was tomato soup! That can hardly be a unique recipe considering that every other restaurant does the same thing, if it offers tomato soup on the menu!
Corn! Ah, I remember having used corn – and, for once, maybe it is worth mentioning. Not that, of course, it is necessarily unique but I do not remember hearing or reading anything about this salad variation that I made of the ‘Kosumari’ that is commonly served in Karnataka weddings. So, here goes!
Split Green Gram- one cup
Del Monte Corn  - half a cup
Grated coconut   - one cup
Grated carrots     - one cup
Green Peppers    - 2-4 (finely diced)
Lemon                 - 1 (medium)
Salt                     - to taste
Oil                      - One table spoon
Coriander leaves, Asafetida and mustard seeds.
Soak the split green gram for two hours. Boil the corn in salt water. Drain the water. Mix the soaked gram, boiled corn, grated coconut, grated carrots and the diced green peppers. Add salt to taste (Ah! That gives me great satisfaction! How much I have suffered from the various recipes on offer which give this enigmatic line!! Tell me, if I take moderate salt, is it a teaspoonful to a kilogram or a ton? No one seems to bother to mention the range of usage for salt!) Add the juice of the lemon to the mix! (Ah! How easy that sounds! When I first tried it, I squeezed the lemon directly on to the mix and de-seeding operations on the salad are worthy of a separate post!)
Add the mustard seeds to the oil (you could use Olive Oil, if that suits your pocket! In which case you probably need only a teaspoonful!) and wait till it sputters. Add a hint of asafetida (How broad a hint you take is up to you. Some can do without any hinting!!). Season the mixture above with this.
If you are not too pernickety to use your hands (and if you really think that eating with your hands will not cause undue damage to your sensibilities) you could use your hands to mix this up properly. Else, of course, I shall ask you enigmatically to toss the salad and leave the means to you!
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.
You could substitute Split Green Gram with Split chick peas – in which case you soak them overnight. Grated carrots may be replaced with diced cucumber. You could use a chilli sauce instead of the Green Peppers – but I shall not be responsible for the results (Not that I am, even when you use Green Peppers!)
If you are interested in anti-oxidants more than taste, then you could substitute sprouts for the Split Green gram. If, on the other hand, you wish this to be a meal rather than a salad, you could boil a potato or two, peel, mash and add to the mix.
Ah! Looks like I have given the recipe for dozen salad variations- all in one recipe! Hail, Master Chef (Now, who else will call me that?)! The only thing that remains is to give this thing a name. Not knowing French or Italian is a great handicap in giving appropriately impressive names to dishes. I shall have to call this a “Corn Kosumari” and leave it at that!
If you try this dish and find it inedible, you have the option of drowning your sorrows in one of the cocktail variants that I have outlined earlier!
Bon Appetit!

Friday, September 14, 2012

A predictive letter?

Dear Suresh,
You must be surprised to be receiving this letter from me. It must thrill you to know that this letter is from your future self. The problem is that, as is usual with you, this thrill is likely to be misplaced much like the thrill you get out of showing your palm to anyone claiming nodding acquaintance with palmistry. But, let me not anticipate your reactions.
World wars may be fought, people may get worked up about corruption and governance, India may lose at Cricket and food may be getting scarce but you would only be worrying about your performance at school. So, there is hardly a point in my telling you all about the world, for you would only skip it as not being important for getting good grades. So let me concentrate on school.
You will be astonished to know that you can get something right! You always were afraid that you would have a pretty undistinguished academic performance at school and how right you were! It may make you glad to know that you did not etch your name in the records of the school for the most abysmal performance ever by a student – but having said that, I have said all that can be told in praise of your school performance.
You were always the sort to keep picking at a scab and irritating the wound. It is unlikely that you will be satisfied with a general statement and will want a subject-by-subject dissection of what went wrong. Do not blame me if you feel like burying your head in the nearest coal mine.
In English you were decent and continued being so. You, however, never make any great use of it. You could have learnt to say, “The government has callously disregarded the danger to pedestrians etc. etc.” instead of “The government has not taken care of pedestrian needs etc. etc.” and become a top-notch journalist. You could have learnt to write, “What is Life without xxx Deo” and become a advertising guru – you did not! All the use you will put your English to is to say, “Dear Sir, With reference to your letter no. ….. dated……….”!
I know mathematics is always your bugbear. For you mathematics is mathematics and apples are apples. So, if someone asked you, “If you had five apples and you gave me three, what would you have left?” you get angry about the other guy asking you for three of your apples. Physics and chemistry only confused you and biology made you gag at night remembering the half dissected frog jumping all over the place to the tune of squeals from your fellow-students.
Despite all that, you will get into Engineering (IIT?? No! This is not a daydream, boy, this is a statement of future fact) and even pass out. The problem is that you may be able to pass exams but you will realize that being an engineer is a lot more (and a lot less) than adding B.E after your name.
You know how great your geographical orientation has always been. So, when you find in the control room that a valve has gone bust and it needs instant action to avoid a catastrophe, you run around in circles crying piteously, “Valve! Valve! Where is the valve?” Not quite the picture of the dashing engineer running to the rescue of the production unit, is it? (Well! You can take pride in the fact that it is people like you that probably caused the invention of the GPS – a step-by-step guide to reaching your bathroom, among other things!)
That will shift you into the arena of finance via an MBA. Since addition and subtraction is just about what you are capable of, you do not do too badly there. The biggest realization of your life dawns on you later. No matter what esoterica of mathematics a person learns, what is most important to him is addition. People spend all their lives adding up their wealth and going gaga (or not!) about the total. Whatever else they may do to eke a living, they end almost every day in enjoying this additional activity!
I will leave you on a happy note! You were right about one other thing. You always thought that you would hate working – and, boy, you have no idea how right you will prove to be in the rest of your life!
With best wishes,
You from the future

This post is part of the contest A letter to yourself.. on

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wandering in Melbourne

Shopping and restaurants! The former has held no appeal for me and the latter fills my mind with dread. Ah! The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. The moment I try anything that I have not tried before, my digestive system rebels! No matter what the plumbing accessories manufacturers say, it is difficult for me to think time well-spent if all I see is a wash-basin – appropriately adorned with what used to be in my stomach – on a trip to a new place. Nor do I think I would be a welcome companion if my stomach acts like a high-yield gas well with outlets at both ends. Thankfully, Melbourne is supposed to have a restaurant for every palate and, thus, I can relax and look forward to actually seeing other things than my bathroom fittings.
A veritable feast of art, culture and architecture awaits the visitor to Melbourne. The Melbourne Museum, the Johnston collection, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian centre of contemporary art are just a few of them. One can imagine an art and culture lover to lose himself in the creative expressions on display. It is a shade more difficult for me to imagine myself as that art and culture lover! With practically no eye for visual creativity, all that I get when I visit museums is a crick in the neck. Then, when I see someone else’s photographs and descriptions of the same place, I go, “Ah! You mean it is that same place I visited?” It is thus that, whenever, I visit museums I feel like I am preparing for an examination – from someone or the other who is bound to ask me, “You went there and did not see THAT?” in contemptuous tones.
If I give the impression that the moment someone tells me, “It is your time to visit Melbourne, NOW”, I make a list of all the things that I cannot or will not do in Melbourne, I really cannot blame you. The idea, however, was to get that out of the way before I get to talk of all the things that I would do there.
One of the most attractive options for me is that Hot Air Balloon ride at dawn. I have always loved watching a city from above while landing at a destination and, from a  Hot Air Balloon, I can take it all in more leisurely and with a wider angle of vision than is provided by those oh-so-small aircraft windows. Not to mention the novelty of the ride, itself, as well as the vision of a dawn sky. (What do you mean that I am so full of hot air that the balloon ride is superfluous? I don’t get that at all!). Of course, having seen the city in its entirety from the sky, I can dispense with city tourism and get down to what I like doing best!
Cruises! God! There are so many mouth-watering prospects for cruises in the place. I am particularly taken by the River Gardens cruise that promises you picturesque gardens and parklands. What can be better than floating on water and feasting your eyes on picturesque greenery? The South Island fort cruise is another enthralling prospect promising stunning seascapes, a trek and delving into underground passages. Mmm! A delicious prospect! Further away, there is the option of the Yarra River cruise.
The mention of Australia instantly evokes memories of fantastic beaches. What a plethora of beaches there are to explore in Melbourne – each with its own unique beauty and offerings. The spectacular sunsets of St. Kilda beach, the sensational Melbourne skyline from Brighton Beach, kite-surfing and beach volleyball at Middle park – the options seem endless! Not to mention the possibility of trying my hand at snorkeling and wind-surfing. The fact that my only idea of swimming is going straight down would be a great help in snorkeling but for the fact that I do want to come up alive as well. Anyway, one has to see what can be done when a man is unable to imitate a fish – except in the stink! (What was that? My only idea of beach-views is what I derived from watching Pamela Anderson in Baywatch?? I will have you know that I was watching the beaches in Baywatch – not that I claim to have studiously averted my eyes when Pam swam into my vision!)
If that were not a surfeit of options, there is parasailing, rock-climbing, abseiling and sky-diving too. Ah! Well! Even if I am refused the option to take up deep sea diving because I do not know swimming, I cannot be refused the option to sky dive because I do not know flying!! The only limit on what I can do is what my thin wallet will allow me to do.
The prospects at Melbourne seem so endless that the only fear is that I shall spend the stay there in the dread of hearing the words, ‘It is your time to leave Melbourne, NOW!’

Friday, September 7, 2012

On Criticism on blogs

There may be people who are thrilled about receiving a negative comment about their blog posts. There may even be people who may go singing and dancing around the house when someone dislikes what they have written. Why, someone may even call out his friends and relatives for a party to celebrate the fact that someone has found errors in his blog post. I, however, am yet to meet even one of these wonderful beings; not even in zoos and museums.
Given my limited exposure to the world I have always gone on the – possible mistaken – impression that negative criticism makes people unhappy. Given that blog posts are made available for free reading, I have always tiptoed silently out of the blog when I did not particularly like them. After all, no one was holding a gun to my head and threatening my life if I failed to make a comment.
The only reason to make people unhappy by criticizing them is if such criticism can make them improve. A negative comment on a blog post can help the blogger improve only if it specifically cites what is lacking in the post and, if possible, how it can be improved. Comments of this nature on my blog – though they do not give me a thrill of happiness initially – make me thankful to the commenter since he has cared enough to spend time on trying to improve my abilities.
With one exception! Recently, I received a comment on one of my posts – that it was coincidental and how he liked my previous post better! The second half made me think that the first part was not merely commentary but was meant critically (Of course, I also thought that the commenter could not have been fool enough to think that I wrote the story without realizing the coincidence in it!).
Now, when a person sets out to make a negative comment on fiction, I prefer that he knows something about the craft of writing. A coincidence is a cheat on the reader only when it pops up out of the blue to solve a knotty problem set up in the tale by the author to tantalize the reader. When the entire tale is about what happened after the coincidental meeting, coincidence cannot be criticized. If he meant that the conversation thereafter was coincidental, he had not bothered to read the story with any attention because there is nothing in the story that says that the speaker did not realize who her audience was. Someone who gives himself unwarranted credit for his own perspicacity has always impressed me badly – but then I do realize that I may not be typical.
When I comment, I still refrain from mentioning my suggestions for improvement in the blog itself – preferring to mention it in private to the blogger. Almost all ideas relating to reader reactions are a matter of taste. I have the humility to understand that my own tastes may not be the mirror of the tastes of the world and I would rather not allow my comment to color the perceptions of other readers.
Again, with one exception! I found another commenter with the irresistible urge to be honest on other people’s blog posts when it came to negative comments and not necessarily constructive. So, I decided to see if he could take what he dished out. I had found something concrete that I wanted improved on his post and, contrary to my usual practice, I put in the comment on that post. As far as reactions on his blog to my comment went it did seem as though he could take it too. Then I found that he had felt the irresistible need to be honest on a ten day old post of mine hosted elsewhere!! Looked like I still had not found that elusive person who was rendered joyous by negative criticism!
I am sure that no-one can be foolish enough to think that comments like “You could have done better” or “Your story seemed disjointed” endears the one who so comments to the writer. Nor indeed can I see how these comments help the writer to improve himself since nothing is mentioned about what could have been done better or why the story seemed disjointed. If I am in a very generous mood, I can only think of these comments as emanating from people who think they have a duty to express their feelings on blog posts regardless of whether their confidence in the validity of their comments is utterly misplaced.
In my working life, I have come across very many manipulative bosses. Their idea of managing is to make comments like “I expected more of you” and “This letter can be written better”. This is a sort of posturing of superiority without any concrete demonstration of it that is expected to keep the subordinate on tenterhooks always seeking his boss’ approval. I have always reacted very badly to this sort of underhand manipulation even when I was being paid to go through it. In my ungenerous moments, it seems like these commenters behave exactly in this fashion and it sits ill on me to take this sort of posturing from anyone, leave alone from people less than half my age and with far lesser writing credentials than would warrant their assumption of superiority.
I have never been a votary of the belief that honesty is an adequate excuse for rudeness and much less in the assumption that rudeness is necessarily a demonstration of honesty. A belief in your own abilities is self-confidence but when it has to be buttressed by putting someone else down it is brashness. And, from the diatribe here, one can see that brashness is not one of the qualities that I love in my fellow human beings.
Lest it be thought that all my comments were like this let me hasten to add that it is the very fact that most of the people who commented on my blog have commented positively (or not at all! And the absence of comments has always been sufficient indication of a blog post gone wrong!), which made these comments stand out. There have been a few who have commented critically with concrete reasons and they have my thanks. I have been blessed, touch wood, by an absence of flamers of the personal sort.
I have no intent to have people admire their perspicacity and superiority in the mirror of my blog at the cost of putting me down. If you have something positive to say, I shall of course be ecstatic. If you have something concretely negative to say, I may not be happy when I read it but I shall nevertheless feel thankful for it in time. Otherwise, in case you did not know it, you can actually walk out of the blog without commenting! There are really no penalties for doing so, believe me!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I am Kreativ too

I have been called various names in my life – most, if not all of them, pejorative – but ever since I started actively blogging, I have been called names that my real life friends would stoutly refuse to acknowledge as being descriptive of me. First a lot of bloggers called me Versatile. When I told my friends about it, the first reaction was, “You are lying!” When I proved it with the respective blog posts the unanimous outcry was, “What did you pay them?”
We live in dissolute times and the most altruistic of us have to prepare ourselves for such unjust accusations. Despite the fact that they could invite the attention of India Against Corruption, two wonderful bloggers – Kappu and Sapna – have dared to call me Creative. Ouch! Being Creative means that I have to be creative with my spelling as well so it is actually Kreativ. The saving grace for this duo is that my friends may actually agree with them in part – if only for the creative excuses I have made all my life to avoid work!
Unfortunately, it would stretch what remains of my creativity to impossible limits to find more facts to share about me. If there be any such strange person who is actually interested in knowing things about me, I would invite him to I amVersatile, Versatile Again, Tagged or And now the Liebster. Enough facts about me will be presented there for even the most masochistic person to eschew any further interest in my persona or doings.
I must also beg off on finding more bloggers to pass on the award. My creativity is temporarily in abeyance and, thus, I find myself at a loss for an acceptable excuse for not doing it (See what years of not working can do to you. While I was working I could always find admirable excuses for avoiding work!). I can only plead laziness. There are so many great bloggers around so it is not a dearth of Kreativ bloggers but the sheer effort involved in listing them and providing links that is a killer. I do think I have done my share of bringing great bloggers together with appreciative readers in my short span of five months, so I think I am entitled to a free pardon on this issue this time.
The one thing that has surprised me in my days of blogging – and that which continues to surprise me as can be seen by my permanently bemused look – is that fact that there are so many people in this blogosphere who have affection for me. I am and will continue to be indebted to them.
Many thanks Kappu and Sapna for considering me Kreativ!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Strangers in the Night

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 31; the thirty-first edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is 'Strangers in the Night'

“Sneha! This is Vijaya, our estate manager’s wife”
Sneha barely glanced up to acknowledge the greeting. The warm smile of recognition died on Vijaya’s lips. Was this the same girl who shared a room with her at college? The poor girl whose fees she had paid, whose books she had bought and whose wardrobe she had purchased? The one who was so willing to do any job for her? This woman bedecked in golden finery was scarcely recognizable as the poor yet lovely girl at college.
“Rama! I do not agree that it is luck that makes us what we are. It takes intelligence to keep what luck has given us.”
“How do you say that?”
“Well…there was this girl at college with me – Lakshmi! Born of rich parents and could have lived a life of luxury. She was fool enough to love a middle class botany student and marry him against her parent’s wishes. They disowned her and she is now probably eking out a miserable life somewhere”
She had not changed all that much from college – bar a few wrinkles on her face. The night was dark but the place was festooned with party lights and, so, it must not be too difficult to see her face. How could Sneha not recognize her – Vijayalakshmi – while she talked so disparagingly about her?
“Don’t you know what your friend is doing now?”
“No! After I married Rajiv and we went for our honeymoon to Switzerland, we lost touch. Anyway, she would only be embarrassed to meet me now”, said Sneha smugly patting her silk sari and adjusting the diamond necklace around her neck.
Vijaya was embarrassed. How could she have invested so much emotion in this woman who could not even think of the possibility of happiness without a Ferrari in the garage? How blind she had been when she held affection for someone who seemed to dole out her love and attention in proportion to the recipient’s bank balance?
Vijaya took leave of the duo. It was better to pass each other as strangers in the night.
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: The Fool, Participation Count: 5

Guest Post for Alka Narula Again

Just back from Yercaud and I find that my second guest post for Alka Narula has been up and running a few days. This link may be entirely superfluous but then it all counts towards adding to my post count. :)

Need I say that it is a serious post again.