project 365

Wish, Hope, Believe

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I don't care what she says, I really wanted my wife, Janaki to write this post. And it took a lot of convincing to get her to write out her "rants and thoughts" as she calls them. But I finally managed to get her to grace my blog. If I did take part in the #100 days of happiness thing, this would undoubtedly be up there on the top. So, without further ado, here goes - Ladies and Gentlemen, my wife Janaki, with her first ever guest post. Do give her a round of applause and leave your comments in the box below.divider Wish, hope , believe - To me, these three words are independent, yet interlinked. To me, they signify the triumph of the human spirit and of a never-say-anything-is-impossible attitude. For if you don’t wish, you can’t hope. And if can’t hope, then you sure as heck, aren’t going to believe that it can be done.

So when Sid asked me if I wanted to do a guest post on the prompt "What are the six impossible things you believe in?”, I was a bit stumped. Whilst I know for a fact that he asked me to write a post, because he was busy working on a “finale” to his short story, I did find the topic quite intriguing. But I didn’t want to write about Fairies and Santa Claus and Unicorn and Magic and the rest. (For the record, I do believe in them ) I decided that I was going to “twist” (Sid’s own words here) the prompt around and write about two things that I wished for, two things that I hoped for and two things that I believed in. And well, this is it.

I wish:

….that somewhere in an alternate universe, I could be a career oriented woman, a home maker and a mom, whilst being able to give my 100% to each of my different persona

Image courtesy Google Search

Before I go ahead, I’m going to take a minute to thank Sid. Yes, you heard right. I’m thanking him for all the compliments about me (and every other mother) being a “Superwoman” in one of his recent posts. Yes, I manage being a working woman as well as a mother to rather naughty toddler. Yes, it’s also true that I probably have it a little bit easier because Sid helps me out too, in whatever way he can (though there are days when I wonder if I have two kids). The truth is I manage somehow. But there have been days, where I’ve had to leave an unwell Rishi at home, because I couldn’t afford to miss an important client meeting. There have also been days, when after putting him to sleep, I’ve worked away through the whole night to meet a deadline. Yes, I manage. But I want to do so much more. I want to be able to be there for my son, whilst not compromising on my work either. If only I could come home from work with 100% charge, like a smartphone taken off charge, and pay my undivided attention to my little son. But then again, there is dinner to think about. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for one of those “Time-Turners” that Hermoine had, in the Prisoner of Azkaban. Things would be so much simpler for a working mother.

….that the people in our society would actually be sincere in their thoughts and actions

Image courtesy Google Search

It could very well be, that I’m the only pupil from this school of thought, but I’ve always wondered why we need to do things, just to make people happy. No, I’m not talking about phoning an aunt that you haven’t spoken to in ages to wish her for her birthday, just because your mom played one of the many “you-owe-me” cards. Or being a nice to others and generally polite. I’m talking about words like “love”, “thank you”, “sorry”, "please" and plenty more adjectives being thrown around without people actually meaning it sincerely. I mean, if you do care, then make an effort to say so.  People who know me well, will tell you that I don’t do that. I do things only when I strongly believe in them. For eg. I believe in apologising when I'm in the wrong. But I'm not the kind who keeps saying "sorry" over and over again, without actually meaning it. For if I was truly sorry, I wouldn't repeat it. But these days, people think they can get away with everything if they say a "sorry" or "just kidding".The problem with that is that it often makes me come across as a snob. But then again, do I actually care about what others think of me? I’m sure you know the answer to that one by now.

I hope:

………...that it will be possible, once again, for a woman/girl to travel alone at night without being reduced to a nervous wreck

Image courtesy Google Search

I hope, because I know it is possible. When I was in London, I’ve travelled alone a number of times. And sometimes during rather un-earthly hours, say post 1am.  The transport network operates perfectly and you can go where you want, when you want. Why, I’ve even taken a cab flagged off the main road, without wondering if I was going to be safe. But now that I’m back in India, I don’t even try doing anything like that. I’ve been reduced to having to take my trusty little can of pepper spray. And I hate that. As much as Sid tries to make sure I have my space, I hate that I’m not able to step outside a 5 km radius, without being inundated with calls from family concerned about my safety. Which eventually makes me treat every man, woman and sometimes a child, with suspicion. While the media, the NGO’s and the politicians have all been playing the blame game, no one has actually benefitted. Yes, I’m an “Aaj Ki Naari” (Modern-day woman) so to speak, but I’ve been reduced to a situation where I have to think twice before I venture out alone at night (or even during daylight sometimes) without a male companion. And I hate it.

……. that old age homes don't become the norm of the society

Image courtesy Google Search

Having had the chance to stay abroad for a number of years, I’ve had the opportunity to observe a lot of people. Especially a lot of familial relationships. Both the parents and the kids are relatively independent. The kids are often biding their time, till they can “move out” of home. And the reality is that in a lot of families, as soon as kids hit their teens, they do just that. Yes, they probably return for their Christmas or Easter breaks, but apart from that, they are busy for the parents. Yes, I understand the need to be an independent person. I'm one too. But I can’t even start to imagine leaving my parents in an old age home, not just abroad, but even in India too. Of course, I am not painting every one with the same brush. But the amount of “retirement homes” popping up (which by the way, is just a fancy term for an old-age home) frankly scares me. Yes, it took me time to understand what my parents have sacrificed to take care of the three of us. Often, I hear my parents and in-laws talk about arrangements that they would like to make, if the inevitable happens to one of them. And, I end up getting offended. Because the mere thought that someone could be reluctant to take care of their own parents is, well, let’s say almost blasphemy.  But then again, I guess when their “friends” are being offered similar solutions by their off-springs, they can’t help but think that we may behave the same way too.

And finally, I believe:

….. that it is possible to share joyous moments socially without it being promoted via social media

Image courtesy Google Search

Even though I’m an engineer, I have my share of issues with technology. The more Sid and I discuss this topic, the more we agree to disagree. Of course he’s a social media addict. And frankly, I’ll be surprised if he even decides to publish this point. Here’s the thing. According to me, technology is something that is supposed to aid communication, and not become a substitute to communication. There is a very thin line between the two. I sincerely can’t remember the last time someone said, “I’ve got some happy news that I need to share. Let me call them!”. Now, we just tweet about it, or Facebook it. Recently I received a marriage invitation from a close friend. It wasn’t a phone call as I would have expected. It wasn’t even a personal email. And this is someone I’ve known for over a quarter of a century. Someone who even calls my mother, Amma. I got a rather impersonal Facebook group invite. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to react. Of course I complained. And in turn, I was told “Oh, you’re too old fashioned”. Today you receive most information such as child birth, marriage, promotion, and sometimes even death, through social media. But then honestly, hasn’t it been a while since technology started replacing communication. Forget communication, think about this. How many times have you stopped in between having a really good time with a friend, or your family and said “Here, let’s take a picture. I need to put it on Facebook.” I do my bit of sharing on Facebook too. After all, it is probably one of the best ways to share. But the lack of "social etiquette" and "opening out your entire world, from what you had for breakfast to what you're going to do next?", sometimes is a bit too much. Just my opinion. This also goes for all the people who keep at their keypads (oh sorry, touch screens) whilst at social gatherings, birthdays or dinners.  Sadly, my husband is one of them too.

…. that  at some point in my life, I will go travelling the world. 

Image courtesy Google Search

Risk - now, that’s a term that I'm not too familiar with. I am planner, a pretty meticulous one at that. I carefully plan and have always taken well informed decisions. I’ve often been told that I tackle most of my situations like the character of Ross, in FRIENDS - with a pros and cons list. The fact that Sid is the one deciding to explore his career options at this stage, is a testament to that. I don’t think I’d have ever done that. I’d still be making a list :) But the other thing is that I love my job and sincerely cannot see myself doing anything else, at least not for a while. So, as a planner, I’m not the kind to drop everything in one go and take the next flight out to a destination that I don’t know. I really wish I could. Why, I might even get till the airport. But before I hand over that card (or cash) at the counter, I will stop re-think. But I live in the belief that at some point in my life, I will be able to do that. Last weekend, I happened to watch the movie “Queen”. The protagonist and I couldn’t have been more apart in some of our thoughts. But the one thing, I did say to Sid after watching the movie was “Someday, I want to travel the world. And I definitely don’t want to be sitting with one leg into the grave, when I do that ! I want to live life on my own terms, some day.”

I guess Sid’s “writing” has influenced me a bit more than I gave him credit for. I have no other explanation as to how I weaved my way through completely random topics from “Time-turners” to “retirement home” to “social media”. And with that, I shall take your leave. Thank you for taking the time to read some of my thoughts (and rants) on some really random topics, which remain close to my heart.

- Janaki

Oh, and if you do spot some typos or grammatical inconsistencies, blame Sid. He was in charge of editing :P

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – the White Queen, Alice in Wonderland. What are the six impossible things you believe in? (If you can only manage one or two, that’s also okay.)”]

Shoulda, woulda, coulda

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8690084_origProcrastination is my middle name. Or it would be, if I had one. Luckily for me, I don’t. If there is something that I can put away doing indefinitely, I will. And this isn’t a new characteristic that I’ve suddenly picked up, now that I’m working from home. I’ve always been so, probably for as long as I can remember. Of course back then, I didn’t know the word for it. I used to proudly say that I was "Mr. Last Minute.com", as if I was some sort of super hero. However as I grew up, I was "made" to realise the various connotations and meanings that this ‘alleged super hero name of mine' could be misconstrued as. So I set about searching the magnificent English language and found this magical word which defines a part of me - a procrastinator. Mr. Procrastinator - if I didn’t know the meaning, I would have said it sounds like a cool nick name. Ok. I digress. So as I mentioned, my procrastination in doing things (or rather not doing things in a timely fashion) has been evident to me for a really long time. Back when I was a child (I still am - at heart that is), I always waited until the end of the day to do my homework, except when my mom lovingly asked me to (read : ordered) complete it before going out to play. When the exam schedules came out, one of the things we kids always unnecessarily concerned ourselves with was “how many off-days we had before a particular exam”. I too was interested in it. But only because I wouldn’t touch my book until the day before. Ok, that’s untrue - I would touch the book, but there’d usually be a small story book tucked somewhere inside that. Again, the only exception would be when my mother would kindly sit me down to work through some tests. And it wasn’t just studies. I’d been taught from a young age that it was good manners to wash my plates and utensils after a meal. I would put them in the sink with the righteous intention of washing them later, and then forget about it, until my mom would remind me about them. Taking out the garbage had also been my responsibility, one which I'd often conveniently put away till later. Now, there’s really no harm in that, unless you have a cat around the house, who loves to go through the garbage.

There are more important things in life : Image courtesy Google

Despite being given numerous talking to’s, I still continued to procrastinate. My parents finally just put it down to my “childish charm” and hoped that adolescence would teach me a thing or two about why I shouldn’t put things away for later. Alas, I’d say they didn’t have their fingers crossed tight enough. During my teenage and pre-twenty years, I was largely away from home. So needless to say, dishes piled up more frequently and garbage toppled ever so often (even without the cat). And studying was no longer just last minute, it became selective. I would often leave it, until the evening before exam. And even then, I would only learn selective topics, keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that I'd studied enough to pass. As for homework and assignments, they were often hurriedly scribbled work that I’d have put together whilst on the hour-long bus journey to college. Why, I even procrastinated in (actually I prefer the phrase “waited for a reasonable period before”) asking my now-wife JP out on a date. As for the hand in marriage thing, let’s not go there. Five years into marriage and I’m not really sure if I'd even proposed to her. She may have had enough of my procrastination and decided to take the “bull by the horns”, so to speak.

Once again my parents, together with my lovely wife, hoped and prayed that marriage would make me a more responsible person. Whilst they weren’t entirely disappointed on that front, my procrastination still continued. Things that I were interested in and found enjoyable such as reading, watching TV, playing on my Xbox, cooking, movies, eating out and all other such important activities were being executed in a precise and timely manner. Why, I even started cleaning up the dishes promptly and taking out the garbage daily. But I still procrastinated about other things such paying bills, doing the laundry and other trivial household chores. Another bunch of things that I dawdled about were social commitments in general and keeping in touch with certain relatives. Plus there was Facebook and Twitter. And online games. And the Internet in general.

And then out of the blue, I became a parent.

To date, fatherhood has been my single greatest teacher. And I still have miles to go before “I sleep”. I suppose I should be a bit honest here too. I procrastinated at procreating too. Ok, that didn’t come out quite so well. (Sid, enough with the unintended innuendos!) What I meant is, we both procrastinated and dilly dallied with the decision of creating an off-spring. Me more than her, I suppose. I wasn’t sure I was ready for all that responsibility. And I’d both read and been told about the nightmares of three-hourly feeds, unearthly diaper changes and the likes. But eventually I was convinced and we had a little one. Yes, for the first few months, seven to be precise, I hardly procrastinated about anything. It was like I’d been reborn. I did everything promptly and sometimes even without being asked. Frankly it was a rather pleasant surprise to all, including me. But that’s the thing with life. Some things are just too good to be true. And eventually, as the little one grew up, I slowly started putting things off again. During my watch, diapers were left on a tad longer than they should have been, milk bottles were sterilised at the last minute and so on.

Fast forward to the present. Our little one is all of 22 months old, and as you can see from my “M for Mischief series”, he is quite a handful. As a work at home father, during my main shift of 12-6 (he goes to play school in the morning, leaving me with some time to procrastinate!), I am frequently on my feet trying to play a combination of Super Heroes from Superman jumping over tall objects to Mr. Fantastic who can extend his arms  ( and other parts as required) to catch falling glass containers and plates. So there’s hardly any time for procrastination.

However you should know this about me. I am a staunch believer in the phrase “If there’s a will, there’s a way”. So eventually I always get around to doing what’s required of me, even if it’s at the last minute. Sort of like this post :)

Keep calm and procrastinate now ! Image courtesy Google


Disclaimer(s):

I know some parts of the post make my parents sound like they didn’t pay proper attention to me. That is untrue. If anything, they’re guilty of paying me extra attention. Kindly refrain from confusing my procrastination with laziness. That’s not to say that I’m not lazy. That I am. My procrastination arises from the fact that I am too engrossed in doing things that I’m really interested in at a given point, that I sometimes “forget” that I pushed something else aside in the past. Finally, I know some of those lines shed really bad light on my parenting skills. Please don’t call Child Welfare. I’m a decent parent :)

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda : Tell us about something you know you should do . . . but don’t"]

The Red Carpet

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Merrick Kirk admired himself in the mirror once again. His hair dresser had done a fantastic job and his unusually wavy hair was neatly combed back with copious amounts of hair gel. His agent had insisted that he retain the goatee that had become synonymous with his last on-screen character, Robert Lance.  “I look dashing! he thought as he smoothened out his beard. “Now, where was Marcus with that William Westmancott suit? he wondered as he started prancing up and down the dressing room. This was his day, and he wouldn’t let anyone, much less Marcus spoil it for him. Glancing at the watch again, Merrick  sunk down into the sofa next to the dressing table. Marcus was late and he was going to pay for it. BEV_001_subnav-welcome2Marcus Driskoll rushed up the famous Rodeo Drive, clutching the ridiculously expensive suit in one hand and a boxed pair of Berluti handmade shoes in the other. As he waited for the pedestrian crossing to turn green, he looked at his watch. He was meant to have been back 40 minutes ago. He knew that although the fault lay with the shoe-maker, Merrick would put the blame onto Marcus, without so much as batting an eyelid. If he cared so much about time, he should have sent me with the car and the driver. Instead I get to run around like a headless chicken and have less than 30 minutes to get everything sorted. Well he can wait. " thought Marcus as he crossed the road. He could now feel the sweat beads start to run down the nape of his neck and he was sure that there were dark patches under the armpits of the navy blue shirt that he wore under his suit. I miss the old Merrick he thought as he covered the last few miles to the iconic hotel that Merrick was staying at - The Beverely Wilshire.

Merrick and Marcus had been best friends since their elementary school days. Hence it came as no surprise to either of their parents, when they’d both announced that they wanted to go to the same college in New York. Merrick’s parents, as always, had no objection. They had given him a  free rein and were happy as long as he kept out of trouble. And with his father’s real estate business booming, money was not an issue. The same wasn’t true of the Driskolls. Though not poor, the Driskolls weren’t that well off either. Mr Driskoll had his own garage where as Mrs. Driskoll was a teacher at Blue Hill Primary. Despite the fact that they would have to tighten their purse strings a bit, they still let Marcus join the same college as Merrick.

College life was a breeze for both the youngsters. And then Merrick had been offered his break as the second lead in George Calib movie, alongside the talented Alexander Richard. The role had come by as a pleasant surprise for Merrick, who had been the regular lead at all the shows that were being enacted by the local Drama and Arts club. But it had been Marcus who’d pushed Merrick to give the role a shot. He’d even prepped his lines with him and drove Merrick all the way to Los Angeles for the audition. So once Merrick was offered the role, he demanded that Marcus be taken on board as his own Personal Manager. The movie had been a huge hit and success had arrived overnight for Merrick. He soon replaced the likes of Alexander Richards and became one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. And Marcus too had enjoyed in the shadow of his friend’s success - the parties, the stylish apartments, the first-class travel, the girls and of course the money.

But this almost instant-stardom had brought about drastic changes in Merrick and Marcus was still struggling to cope with his new attitude. Merrick had become extremely conceited and had no respect for other people or their time. It seemed like success had gone to his head. Everytime Marcus had tried to broach this topic, Merrick had gone on the defensive and just pushed him away. “People like me, in spite of all this. They pay money to watch my movies and they throng the streets whenever they hear rumours that I’ll be visiting. Why should I bother being so humble? They love me the way I am” he’d said. And to add insult to injury, Merrick had even accused Marcus of having “being-sidelined" syndrome. His exact words were “You are just nitpicking because you are successful because of me. You’re just jealous because people notice me and not you. If it wasn’t for me, you’d probably be back home running your Dad’s garage. We’re friends, but remember who pays your bills too!” . For the sake of their friendship, Marcus knew that he should have just quit his  job then. However the Golden Globe Awards were just around the corner and Merrick’s last role as a tough NYPD cop had acquired rave reviews and the rumour mill was working overtime with almost everyone saying that he was in with a chance of winning the prestigious award, which was a pre-cursor to the inimitable Academy Awards. Marcus knew that if he quit at this point, Merrick would be in real trouble as there was no one else who better knew his schedule and requirements than him. So he’d played along and decided to announce his decision to leave once the ceremony was done.

As Marcus pressed the elevator button for the Presidential suite, he took note of his dishevelled appearance in the elevator mirror. His favourite Armani suit was now crinkled from having to carry too many things. His dark-tanned Tanino Crisci Lilian shoes now had streaks of white paint and dust from all the running about from the afternoon. Oh how he hated Merrick ! As he entered the presidential suite, he noticed that Merrick had fallen asleep on the sofa next to his dressing table. He hung Merrick’s suit in the cupboard and placed the box of shoes on the table. And then he proceeded to wake up Merrick.

“…You’re late! I knew I should have asked someone useful to go. You are trying to undermine me on purpose. You know that I hate being late and now because of you, I’m going to be. Did you at least get the right stuff?” yelled Merrick as Marcus woke him up from his nap. “Well, you can always make a fashionably late entrance” chided Marcus in response. Throwing up an obscene gesture with his hand, Merrick walked away to the washroom to freshen up. As he shut the door, he said “Marcus, at least make sure the car’s ready and downstairs in 30 minutes. Do something right!”

Marcus frowned and walked over to the french windows that looked out into Rodeo drive. The man had everything and yet he seemed to have lost his manners somewhere. Instead of thanking him for getting everything sorted at such short notice, he’d just had a go at him. And once he's  dressed up for the occasion, he’s going to get even more cocky. One day when he’s all dressed up wearing that smug attitude on his face, I wish I could throw a rotten tomato at him. That’ll bring him down to earth!” he mused as he rang the concierge desk to send for the car - A 2013 Rolls Royce Phantom. The perks of being a celebrity thought Marcus as he hung up.

As the elegant pearl white Rolls Royce Phantom drove up the hotel driveway, Merrick could hear the roars and cheers from the people gathered around the hotel.That’s for me. They are cheering for me! he thought. He could feel his pulse starting to race. He straightened his expensive white suit and prepared to exit the car. He needed to make this entrance. This was the beginning of even better things and he could not falter. I’ll slowly get out of the car, look around, give a curt wave and a dry smile and then walk up the Red Carpet he thought as the car came to a halt. He noticed that next to him, Marcus was fervently tapping his legs and wiping his palms on his suit trousers. “Marcus, get out and open the door for me. It’s time for me to get out!” said Merrick.

Marcus looked at him in shock. “But that’s not your Manager’s job. They have people for that!” he said. “ But I want you to open the door for me. So just get out and do what I ask you to do!” yelled Merrick. Teeming with anger, Marcus exited the car and walked around to the other side. And then he opened the door. Merrick exited the car in absolute celebrity fashion showing off his recently-whitened teeth, offering a curt wave of the hand as a way of acknowledgement and his gold-rimmed Ray Ban aviators reflecting the sparkling lights from the photographers. And then he started to walk - slowly and purposefully, making sure that all the attention was on him. Marcus followed him maintaining a suitable distance. This was going to be a long walk he thought. img-thingSuddenly there was a loud pop, followed by a strange hissing noise. Marcus felt a light mist on his face and held his right hand up in reflex to shield his face from any further spray. Though he couldn’t see it, he could hear some commotion just a few meters away from him. And then laughter. Confused, he took down his hand and looked ahead to ascertain what the issue was. And then he too laughed. Standing there in the middle of the red carpet, his $80,000 tailored white suit drenched with rust-coloured smelly water was the Golden Globe nominee for Best Actor in a Title Role, Merrick Kirk. 


In case you’re wondering what happened, the Red Carpet was laid under the hotel’s patio, over which were the pipes operating the hotel’s old sprinkler system.  Unfortunately for Merrick, one of the ancient sprinkler valves opened up right as he was walking down the Red Carpet unleashing a spray of rust-coloured water. The cause for the sprinkler malfunction was ascertained due to the presence of a high wattage light being placed near the sprinkler head.

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Ripped from the Headlines - Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an articlewith a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article.  This post has been inspired by the article Sprinkler soaks Golden Globes red carpet  "] * Images courtesy Google Image search

Take Two - The cat and the tot

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I’m going to start this post with a confession. This has been the toughest prompts that I’ve had to tackle. But then again, it could have been because of the sheer randomness (or eerie similarity) of the two “objects” that I captured. So one lovely morning, armed with my cellphone, I walked out of my flat and into the open world. The objective was simple - capture the first thing that I saw. Since I stay in a gated community, most of the things I’d see if I walked out of my flat would be uninteresting things like buildings, buildings and more buildings. So instead I decided to capture the first thing that I walked out of the building.

The optimist in me was secretly hoping that it’s be something nice like green grass or beautiful flowers. So you can imagine discontent when the first thing I spotted was a cat preening itself right at the entrance to our building. Now by the time I got my state-of-the-art smartphone to unlock itself and get the camera ready, all I was left with was a few pieces of cat whiskers and fur. The cat was no where to be found. So instead here’s a picture of a similar cat from the internet. We’ll have to make do with that for now.

ghemotoace-par-pisica Though not extremely fond of cats, I was relatively upbeat. After all, I could write about cats. Grinning happily, I took the lift back to my flat. The wife and son were fast asleep when I’d departed for my morning photographic endeavour. As I opened the door, I looked downstairs and saw our door mat on which the word “Welcome” was neatly engraved. "That’s the first thing I saw. The next thing I see better be something I can write about” I thought to myself as I shut the door behind me.

20140110_193506Suddenly I saw a blur of white rushing towards me. I looked down and saw my son hugging my right leg tightly, still dressed in his fancy white pyjamas. “Great” I thought again. “I can definitely write about my little one”.

And then the actual prompt dawns on me. I was meant to link these two random objects together. “This could get ugly” I thought to myself, as I captured my son’s photo. After almost a whole day’s pondering over how I could potentially weave a post that included a cat and my lovely son with the same ink, I had come up with zilch. That’s when my wife stepped in. And opened up my world to the uncanny similarities between the cats and young kids, especially toddlers. So with that in mind, and lots of gratitude to my lovely wife, here are a few apparent ones.

Demand & cuddles: This one’s so obvious that I am wondering myself why I hadn’t noticed this before. Probably because I don’t own a cat. But both kids and cats demand their cuddles. And sometimes a tummy rub too. Forget kids, even I need a tummy rub too somedays, but the wife refuses. Ok, that’s another blog post. Both cats and toddlers love to be cuddled, petted and tickled under the chin. They know how to get your attention when they want it, and simply refuse to wait for it. At the same time, they’re rarely always in the mood for cuddles. Cuddles are to be given at their convenience and not the other way around.

They are forever curious and exploring Have you ever seen pictures of “that cat who stuck its head down the toilet” or “kid who got his head got stuck in the trashcan” floating about on the internet? Well believe it. I’ve seen it both happen. Both of them are known to be inherently curious and you often find themselves in rather sticky situations because of this. They love to investigate anything and everything.

Following you Another similarity between these sly felines and the little munchkins are they love to follow you around. Though not always, this phrase holds good most especially when you need to use the bathroom. Regardless of whatever you may be doing, they will attempt to come in. If you, by some fortunate timing, manage to shut the door, you will never escape the wailing and the thumping/ scratching against the door.  Sometimes it almost makes you feel like you’re a rockstar and they are your groupies.

The case of the missing objects If something small is mysteriously missing, there’s a very good chance that one of them probably took it. Of course asking them isn’t going to really yield much in way of information. The solution - check their mouth first. You’ll probably find it in there.

Super-regenerative nails (or claws) I’m not sure if it’s something they eat or if it’s some sort of hormonal activity going on, but a toddler’s nails seem to grow at alarming rates. And the worrying thing is that they’re often not afraid to use it, just like cats.

Toys Both toddlers and cats have their favourite toys and they slobber all over it. Further more all their toys make their presence felt everywhere. Talking about which, you can buy them all the expensive gifts you want, but they’ll find something as simple as a cardboard box more interesting. And yes strings, cat’s love to chase them; toddlers love to put them in their mouth.

Food Both cats and toddlers are really picky about what they eat. Even if you make or give them something they’ve gulped down on previous occasions, there are days when they sniff/look at the plate and then glance back at you as if to say “Really? That’s it?”. Talking about food, here’s another similarity. Both of them need to know what is it that you’re eating that they are not.  And very often, they’ll want it too. Here’s another one. No matter how many times you tell them not to play with their food, they will do it.

Naps Another one of those obvious things that you wonder why you never noticed. Both of them can be so active at one point and can fall asleep suddenly and in the oddest of places. Ironically in spite of probably being the smallest living beings at home, they take up the most space in bed.

Climbers If there is anything that can be climbed onto in your house, both your cat and toddler will have climbed then. Be it the chair, the sofa, the counter or even the dining table.

Your kind of people And here’s the final one. People who don’t have them (both young kids or cats) look at you in a very different way. It takes a fellow cat-person or a fellow parent to understand the trials and tribulations of having either one of them (or in some case (Bless them!) both of these)

Come to think of it, now that I have a toddler already, maybe it is time to get a dog.

Oh, and a disclaimer : No cats or toddlers were harmed for or during writing of this post.

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Take two - Run outside. Take a picture of the first thing you see. Run inside. Take a picture of the second thing you see. Write about the connection between these two random objects, people, or scenes. "]

One night in the Bronx

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Sweating profusely, Samir took refuge by the side of dumpster in the dimly lit alley way. The running footsteps of his assailants echoed ominously through the rather silent night. “Should have listened to James when he told me not to stay in the Bronx” he mused as he tried to catch his breath back. He heard the footsteps slow down. It sounded like they were just up at the entrance to the alley. Still panting, he tried to hold his breath so that they wouldn’t hear him gasp. He heard one of them mumble something and then there was a crash. From the sound, it must have been one of the many aluminium trash cans that lined the alley all the way to the dumpster.  

“They must be tipping over the trash to make sure I’m not hiding there” he thought as he pushed himself closer to the brick wall away from the light. Not too far away, he could hear more trash cans being thrown about. They were closing in, like predators for the kill. Except that there was nothing stealth-like about the manner in which they were trying to find him. He knew he’d be a sitting duck if he continued to stay there longer. He had to do something. He slowly crouched up. He was going to have to make a run for his freedom. Suddenly the long shadow of a man fell across his feet. From the looks of it, he had a baseball bat in his hand. Slowly the shadow of the man with the bat turned and walked away. Samir breathed a sigh of relief. It looked like he was going to be fine. He looked at his watch. According to the luminous dial on his watch, he’d escaped from the thugs in under 30 minutes. But he was going to wait for a few minutes, just in case.

 

He listened carefully. Apart from the noise of a few vehicles passing by on the main road, it was still largely silent. He slowly rose up and dusted himself. He was going to have a nasty bruise on his temple, where one of the assailant’s fist had collided with his head. Gently massaging the area, he walked out of the alley. At the entrance, he peered both to his left and right. Apart from a few cars and a couple of drunk revellers, there was no one else that he could notice. Going with his instinct, he decided to turn right. Steadily he walked away from the alley and into the main street. Suddenly he heard the shuffling sound of footsteps behind him. He turned back to look and then froze. He was staring right down the barrel of a gun. A bald behemoth of a man, in whose hands the gun almost looked like a toy, was grinning. Samir noticed a few empty gaps from missing teeth.

 

Having never been in such a situation before, Samir stood there unsure how to react. A few seconds later the bald man spoke. “Turn around slowly. Put your hand behind your head and keep walking. And no funny business, unless you want a bullet or two put in your sorry head!”. Samir did as he was asked and started to walk down the road, past the alley that he had taken refuge in a little while ago. Fear started to encompass him and he could feel his heart beating rapidly. He’d read about situations like these in books. He’d watched numerous news reports of other people being held at gun point and had tried to imagine what he would have done. But his brain had just gone blank. He could feel the point of the gun nudging against his back every time he slowed down. So he kept walking, only being guided directionally by the gun-toting stranger. He had no clue where he was or where he was headed to. Along with fear, a feeling of helplessness had started to set in too. All he knew was that he had to walk if he didn’t want his brains splattered on the sidewalk.

 

Samir checked the time on his watch as he walked. It was 2:13 am. “Not the best time to be walking about in the Bronx” he mused as he wondered back how he’d gotten into this situation. Having recently broken up with his girlfriend, he had moved into a dingy studio apartment in the Bronx a few weeks ago. A lot of his friends, especially James, had expressed their concern at moving into a place that was often referred to as “The Hell hole” in their circles. But then, he had no job, no career, no girl friend and whatever he’d saved up was no longer enough to stay in downtown Manhattan in the flat he’d shared with Sarah, his ex girlfriend. So he moved out here. Though he usually chose to be aloof when he encountered any kind of problem, especially one’s that he was not part of, today something different had happened.

 

Having had a couple of beers too many, Samir had decided that he wanted to take a walk through some of the rougher Bronx neighbourhoods. At 5”10’ and weighing less than 8 stones, Samir was a scrawny man and very out-of-place in the Bronx. Yet when he’d seen a couple of thugs almost beat the life out of a Hispanic man, he had decided to intervene. Fortunately for the Hispanic man and unfortunately for him, the single punch that Samir had thrown at his attackers was right on target and broke one of the attacker’s nose. Although it took him a few seconds to realise the enormity of his action, once he’d realised it, Samir had started to run, eventually finding what he thought had been a very secure hiding place behind the dumpster.

 

He was snapped back into his present predicament by a sharp nudge against his back. They had come to a large T intersection. From across the road, he could see a large black Hummer parked  on the pavement. And leaning against the vehicle was an enormously tall man easily weighing over 22 stones and built like a statue. And he was holding up a white bandage against his nose and glaring at him. “Go on! Cross the fu**ing road!” yelled the man who was holding the gun against him. Samir stood frozen to the ground. He was now starting to shiver and sweat at the same time.

 

Behind him was a gun-toting goon who was looking for a reason to use the weapon. Across the street, in front of him, was the apparent leader of this gang whose nose Samir had just broken in his sudden desire to be a hero to some unknown Hispanic chap. And not only did this man have a gun in his hand, he also had two other goons, probably his body guards, who looked like they could crush Samir with their bare hands. Samir felt helpless again. Death was almost a certainty. Though not a staunch believer in the miraculous powers of the  “Person above”, he silently crossed his fingers and put his best foot forward.

 

Suddenly there was a loud screeching of tires followed by the sound of multiple gun shots. Samir clutched the left side of his stomach and fell to the pavement. As he curled up in a foetal position, unable to concentrate on anything but the piercing pain, he heard the familiar sound of the Police siren. Though he could not be sure, he almost felt like he was within touching distance of the sound. As the sound of more gunshots filled the night air and the smell of gunpowder whiffed up his nostrils, Samir slowly opened his eyes. His hands were bloody but the pain had subsided considerably. There was a Police car blocking his view of the street across. He turned around to his side.

 

Lying beside him, still clutching his gun, his mouth wide open in shock and  a rapidly reddening circular patch on his forehead, was the goon who minutes ago had walked Samir up to the junction at gun point. In desperation, Samir tried to pry out the ruffian's gun from his dead hands. Unable to do so, he slowly sat up and kneeled over behind the vehicle. Through the shattered windows of the car, he could make out the rapidly changing blue and red lights of the siren as well as the hustle of activity on the other side. Gradually he stood up, a bit more confident, now that he could hear no further shots.

 

As he walked across the street, which was littered with glass pieces and blood, he could not see any sign of the goons or their “bandaged-nose” leader anywhere. He did see a contingent of police officers mulling around the now bullet-ridden Hummer. Suddenly one of them turned around and rushed towards him. As the officer came over to him, Samir could see that his uniform was stained with blood. The man stopped right in front of him and extended his hands outwards in a shake-hand. Though he was confused, Samir extended his hand too and clasped the officer’s strong hands.

 

“Congratulations! You’ve just helped us nail one of New York’s most wanted. Well done!” he said grinning happily. Bewildered at the sudden turn of events, Samir just stood there. The officer pointed over to the huddle of policemen still mulling around the vehicle and said “Oh, before I forget. Officer Ramirez sends his gratitude for saving him from Antonio and his thugs. If it wasn’t for your timely punch, Ramirez would have been in the morgue now. The NYPD is in your debt.”

 

And with this, the policeman walked away. As Samir looked over at the thinning crowd across the road, he noticed someone wave at him. He squinted in an attempt to find out the person. It was the Hispanic man who had gotten him into this mess in the first place.


 

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Helpless - that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –-and what did you do about it?". I've merely used this prompt as the situation for a short story, which I hope you enjoyed]

http://blog.blogadda.com/2014/01/11/spicy-saturday-picks-january-11-2014-great-weekend-reads

Kick It

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What’s life without a little pleasure, eh? I know. We’ve all thought about it. Sometimes dwelling on it, sometimes just as a passing thought. As cliched as it sounds, a bucket list is made meaningful only because of the end result it provides when we strike items off that list - the pure, unadulterated bliss of happiness. There’s hardly any one of us who’s not heard about the term “Bucket List”.  Simply put, it is a compilation of activities that you want to have completed or achieved before your earthly being goes to sleep one final time. I’ve often read that people think that bucket lists are only for millionaires. That’s not true. Bucket lists are for everyone. For you, for him, for her, for them, for me - for us all. Of course depending on things that you’d want to achieve before you depart, you might need to be a millionaire for some. But essentially anyone can create a bucket list. There is no set rule for the afore mentioned list. It can be a collection of something really simple or a plethora of extravagance. I mean, there’s nothing stopping you from writing down anything on a bucket list. But that’s probably where people lose track a little bit. A bucket list is very different to a wish list. A wish list is a list of things or activities that you “wish” you could complete/purchase. A bucket list is, or rather needs to have slightly more realistic list of things. Well, that’s just my opinion. I think of a bucket list as something that helps inspire me and clarify the more meaningful things in my life.

But a bucket list is also the ultimate paradox. To achieve most things in your bucket list (unless they are all philosophical or behavioural in nature), you will need money. And to make sure you earn money, you need to work (irrespective of whether you enjoy it or not). And because you’re often too busy working, you seldom find the time to cross off the items on your list. So it leaves you in one of those Catch-22 situations, ever so often. The way to create an effective bucket list is to imagine how you’d live your life if you only had a year left.

Okay, enough with the sadness and the abstract thoughts. Let’s talk about something a bit more fun. Well, at least for me. The prompt for this post was “What is the 11th item on your bucket list?”. Considering that I was yet to make a bucket list, I knew this was going to be quite an ask. But then, with it just having turned 2014 on the clock, I decided to try and create a list of things that I think are personally achievable, if I only had a year left in my earthly abode (Don’t worry, you’re not getting rid of me that easily! We’re talking figuratively).

But instead of jotting down eleven points, I’m going to do something a bit different. I’m going to share with you the eleven phases that my bucket list encompasses.

The Traveller

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This is the extreme optimist in me speaking. As I write this, I have no hope of ever being able to travel the length and breadth of this beautiful planet called Earth. For one, I don’t have the funds. For two, I’m no longer a single person without commitments  or loans. But yes, as someone who has always been fascinated by new places and people, this will always be my number one item on every list. At the very least, I’d love to visit all the seven wonders of the world, see the Northern Lights, travel onboard the Glacier Express in Switzerland and traverse a third of the globe covering the whole 9288 kms on the Trans-Siberian railway across Asia. Additionally, I’d love to have a go at being a space tourist. Unfortunately, heights still give me the jitters. So that can probably wait. Oh, before I forget. A true African Safari. You know what, this list can be truly endless.

The Aquatic Wanderer

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I have a dream. No, not that one. But something very similar. I have a dream that one day, water bodies will not discriminate against me. That I’ll be able to immerse myself in a rather large body of water without the danger of being suffocated or drowned. And no, the bathtub doesn’t count. So, as you’ve probably guessed by this point, as much as I’d love to be an aquatic adventurer, I have no idea how to swim. Ironically enough, I used to, when I was a little kid. A rather dire incident at a water-theme park seems to have sucked out all my knowledge of how to swim. But assuming that at some point, I’ll be able to re-discover this hidden skill, there are a few aquatic adventures that I’d love to pursue - Deep-sea diving at the Great Barrier Reef, read a newspaper while floating on the Dead Sea and experience the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa in Iceland.

The Driver

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I love to drive. And as any fellow driver would probably agree, there are two stretches of roads which can make any automotive driver’s dream come true.

The first is a 151 mile stretch of road which makes for one of the most scenic drives anywhere in the world - The Great Ocean Road in Australia.This road stretches from Geelong to Portland, encompassing dramatic and diverse regional structures from surf beaches and whale lookouts to breathtaking mountain ranges and wild and wonderful natural wildlife. Not to mention the amazing Twelve Apostles along the spectacular coastline.

The second is to drive in true “Fast, Furious & Fearless” style along the German autobahns. Though these sleek autobahns form the federal motorway in Germany, they have no federally mandated speed limit. Of course, they do advise due caution and careful driving in urbanised and accident prone zones. And neither am I advising rash driving. But its the sense of freedom that comes from driving on a speed unregulated stretch of road that is sure to get the adrenaline pumping for every automobile junkie.

The Interior Designer

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Here’s a little less known fact about me. I love places like IKEA, Home Centre, B&Q, Home Depot and the likes. I can literally spend the whole day in there without getting bored. I am well aware that I say this at the risk of sounding like a total whack job, but I love to check out the way everything is designed, arranged and incorporated. A messy, clutter free house is a dream of mine, and as my wife can completely justify, I am truly far away from achieving it. As a guy I love gadgets, but I also would love to incorporate them into the house so well, that everything appears so flawless. Of course that first means that I need to own my own house. Apart from inherited houses, I am yet to purchase one. So this one will hopefully fall into place, I guess I’m still stuck in rented apartments having to take the landlords permission for everything. Having said that, we have an amazing landlord.

The Career Seeker

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Almost everyone that I’ve spoken to about it has dismissed it as my mid-life crisis. And I’m offended a tad by their comments. But truth be said, I can say at least half of us have been there. I’m talking about finding a job that you love. I’ve done a variety of jobs over the past decade (well, close to a decade) since I graduated, and whilst I’ve been good at it and enjoyed them to a certain degree, I’ve always had the nagging feeling that it wasn’t the ONE. And then I started blogging. And somehow it felt write (ok, right. Excuse the pun). And now, with a lot of support from my lovely wife, I’m trying to start afresh on a new career path. It may work out. Or sometimes it might not. But it’s a risk I’m ready to take. And this blog and every other piece I write builds up my confidence as a writer. And of course all of your feedback helps as well. I suppose, from that point of view, I should probably strike this off my list. But not yet. Hopefully soon, I’ll be writing to you to tell you that I’ve found my true calling.

The Resident

tumblr_ktgsymYp6N1qzyw8io1_500Some of you may argue that this point goes hand in hand with the travel piece. Though you wouldn’t be completely wrong to say that, I would politely disagree. Ever since I’ve read about these two places, I’ve been wanting to spend at least a night in these two places.

The first is to spend a night at the original ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, a small village 200 km above the Arctic Circle. Preferably in either the Snow Room, which is a simple, yet spacious room set at a very comfortable -5 degrees. But the guests are guaranteed a good night’s sleep. Or better yet, in the Deluxesvit, where everything, including the bedding, seating and decorations are all made of ice. And it includes an ensuite sauna and toilet. Chilly, I say :)

The second is to spend a night at the Winter Igloo village in Kakslauttanen, in the heart of Lapland, Finland. So what’s so special about this, that it’s made it your bucket list, I hear you ask. Well, imagine spending a night in either a snow or a glass igloo. You’re completely surrounded by snow and absolute silence. If you’re in the glass igloo, you may be fortunate enough to view the northern lights from the comfort of your very own warm bed. The weather inside is a brisk -5 degrees, whilst the lovely weather outside can get up to -32 degrees. This special “resort” is usually only open between December to March. As you huddle together with your partner, sip a cup of warm drink and watch the playful lights of the sky, you’ll probably struggle to think of anything more romantic.

The Helper

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I appreciate that this might be a rather strange one to put on a bucket list. But hey, strangeness is my middle name. Though mostly all of us are wired to be hedonistic, sometimes helping others can give you a lot of happiness too. It could be just helping that weary traveller whose car has broken down on the highway or offering to pay someone else’s bill that they can’t quite cover completely. It could even be helping someone to fulfil their goal. Something completely selfless without expecting any glory or mention in return. This one ought to be stricken off my list, but I’m going to leave it up there, because I think I can do more.

The Fear-Facer

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This one’s pretty self explanatory. I’m a play-it-safe kind of guy. I’m extra cautious and rarely a thrill-seeker. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s boded well for me so far. But I’d love to face at least one of my fears and do something that absolutely terrifies me. Maybe Sky diving over the Everest at 29000 feet. Or hang over the edge of 1800 feet tall Toronto’s CN Tower. Or maybe bungee jump from the Royal Gorge bridge which is only 321m tall, i.e. just over a 1000 feet in height. Oops. Just the thought of those tall structures are giving me the heebee-jeebees. Let’s move on shall we.

The MasterChef-er

687474703a2f2f677265656e746561616e6462697363756974732e66696c65732e776f726470726573732e636f6d2f323031302f30382f636865662e6a7067I love cooking. I must also quickly add that I don’t cook all that often. But I do love experimenting with food. So it should come as no surprise that I’ve got something to do with cooking on my “bucket list”. Though this list is in no way comprehensive, I’d love to have a shot a cooking side-by-side with one (or more) of these amazing, talented chefs: Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan. And to top it off, I’d love to have my food tasted by Matt Preston and Joe Bastianich. You’d have probably guessed that I’m a MasterChef aficionado. But there’s a reason behind me choosing each of those chefs. I love Heston’s “molecular” cooking, Gordon’s “get it perfect every time” style, Jamie’s healthy fast food, George’s amazing Greek food and Gary’s unique Australian-English recipes. And no, I’ve not tasted all of their food. But the proof of the pudding is in the recipe I say.

The published Author/Writer

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For those of us, who love to blog or write, this has to be one of the ultimate dreams. To be a published author/writer. The only thing that can top that is if you’re the published author or writer of an international best-seller. But then, let’s take baby steps for now. No matter what anyone says, writing meaningful stuff, be it an article, a book, a short story, a journalistic piece, an advert or even a blog is as tough as trying to cold call someone to get sales. You have to be quick to adapt your styles to make sure your readers maintain their interest and purchase your content. So yes, I truly say it deserves a piece on my bucket list. And if things go according to plan, I’ll be able to strike this one off soon :)

The Pre-Technologist

Okay, the prompt for the post was “What is the eleventh item on your bucket list?”. However I’m hoping that by now, my readers have understood me well. I am unable to summarise anything succinctly. So I wanted to share the top ten things on my bucket list too. But hey, here we are. Eventually.

NO-TECHNOLOGY

Now, though I’ve noted it down as the 11th thing on my bucket list, I am not ever sure I’ll be able to achieve this. But I’d sure like to give it a go. I love gadgets. And for me to renounce all of them completely for even a day, is quite an unthinkable ask. But at some point before I depart, I’d like to try and take at least a week long break from all technology. Technology invades every single phase of our every day existence. For once, I’d like to experience how it feels to be independent of technology. No phones, no internet, no laptops, no ebooks, no watches, absolutely nothing that is remotely related to technology. Of course, I’m not keen to go back to the Neanderthal age. But it’s more to do with having no connection with the outside world in any way, shape or form. Knowing me, I’ll probably commit suicide before the week’s up. But then again, I’m not a quitter. So I just might see it through. But something tells me, that if I go ahead with this, I might just start to appreciate the finesse of the simpler things in life.

There we have it. The eleven phases of my bucket list.

So tell me, what’s the eleventh item on your bucket list?

[This post is written for the Wordpress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts program aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Kick It - What’s the 11th item on your bucket list?"]