Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Aveyla

Another travel post... we went to Maldives last month to celebrate Mom and Dad's 40th wedding anniversary. We (me and my brother) wanted something close by since nobody was interested in flying long distance, and Maldives seemed like the best option. But searching for a nice resort was quite time consuming, cause Maldives is a collection of numerous islands and tourism and fishing dominate their economy. So resorts are everywhere, some islands contain only the resort with no sign of local life or villages. And the pictures of these high end resorts are amazing, cabins right in the middle of still blue waters and perfect landscapes everywhere. It was manicured nature, clipped here and nipped there to make it picture perfect. I was slowly growing desperate, I didn't want to go to any of these places... somehow they seemed to lack soul, that earthy charm was not coming through. So I delegated the search to my sister, I was behind her night and day to find a nice resort that didn't seem stuck up like the Apple brand. So after a lot of searching, we came across Aveyla Manta Village which seemed like a great place, the pictures too gave off this nice down-to-earth vibe. So I emailed them and they were quick to respond to any questions I had, we finally decided on this place and booked our rooms after a lot of emailing.    

The capital of Maldives, Malé (pronounced Mah-lay), is about an hour and fifteen minutes flight from Trivandrum. After landing in Malé we had to take a 20 minutes domestic flight to Dharavandhoo island where the resort Aveyla is located. Driving through the island you see small nondescript houses with the particular hammock styled swings hanging from trees. Aveyla, which means 'Ancient' in the Maldivian language, is architecturally beautiful and has a cute little reading nook, the rooms are clean and spacious and the few standard dishes they have are quite nice.We stayed here four days and most of the time we were in the ocean rolling around in the white sand, playing in the turquoise waters, going for long walks on  the beach, sitting in the sea immersed swings and checking out the village. I can see how we evolved from the ocean, there's this inexplainable affinity to the ocean... she always seems to beckon us back in. The beach had a deserted island feel to it, there were hardly any folks around and since nature was the primal landscape artist here.... the beach had all  kinds of beautiful decaying stuff lying around. There were dead tree trunks stretching into the ocean and they made this trip even more memorable cause of all the scrambling and climbing I was doing. To get on the higher branches, my brother would kneel down and I would climb on his knee, up his shoulder and then get onto a high bark. It was pretty hilarious, most of the time we would topple over into the water, but once we got on top it was pretty cool... the scrapes and cuts were worth it all, not to mention the awesome picture opportunities. Just walking on the beach was like a treasure hunt, with a lot of beautiful ocean junk lying around; we came back with a bag full of it. On our last day on the island, it was thundering, lightening and sheets of water were hitting the ocean while waves were crashing the shore and the wind was whistling through everything... it was nature's grand orchestra biding us adieu.
video

Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Danny effect and the Cooper effect

With all the free time I have now (thanks to Cooper) I thought of writing something here. 
This is Cooper, a friend's dog, and whenever I go home to Nagercoil, we generally hang out together, talking and taking Cooper for long walks in the colony. This time was no different, we were on our walk when this stray little street dog started barking and I was holding cooper's leash... my hand in that loop when Cooper suddenly became way excited than usual and took off after the stray like Flash on steroids. He dragged me along and I couldn't keep up; I stumbled, fell on the bad road and bruised myself. 
And since I had nothing better to do, I made a collage of the wounds to send to my sister... who found it hilarious that I fell. So anyway, went to the doc, got my tetanus shot and now I'm just taking it easy for the next few days. And one person has been constantly on my mind since this incident, Danny.

I met Danny about 12 years ago in Santhi Nilayam, the special school I used to work in. He was a five year old Down's syndrome boy who rarely spoke, he was extremely shy. Ask him anything and he would look down, but ask him about his younger sister and you would see a smile on his face. One day in school, he jammed his little finger in a door. It was jammed quite tight, but all he did was stand there with a tear running down his face. Somebody else saw this and told the nuns, they went to see and the top bit of his little finger was ripped, it was hanging by a shred of flesh. And Danny, just stood there with tears running down his face, not a sound out of him. They quickly put the tip back on wrapped it up in cotton and carried him to the rickshaw to take him to the nearest hospital. In the hospital too, the doctor was stitching up this little kid's finger yet he did not utter a sound, just silent tears falling from his eyes. My God, I was stunned... he stole everybody's heart. He must have been in immense pain, yet not one sound or tantrum, he just let the tears fall. After the stitches were in place the doctor said he was a brave kid, then Danny lifted his head looked the doctor in the eye and said that he would go home and tell his mother about this. What a kid, that day I knew these kids were extraordinarily special. I keep thinking about him cause this pains a little too... that's when I see his cherubic face with the soundless tears. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

There is no forgetting...

The recent death of the four nuns belonging to the Kolkata-based Missionaries of Charity in Yemen, is hard to take in. They became nuns for a reason, they wanted to dedicate their lives to serving God by caring for the infirm and weak in society. They weren’t a threat to anybody, they were just caring for the aged in a war torn region. The people who shot them dead must have been really scared of what they stood for: love. Why else would they have shot harmless nuns and kidnapped a priest? They couldn’t understand this brand of love they depicted, and in typical barbarian fashion they decided to deal with it by eliminating whatever made them question their vile beliefs rooted in selfishness, vengeance and a self-gratification ideology.

Fr. Tom Uzhunnali, the Salesian priest supposedly kidnapped by the IS, was serving the spiritual needs of the sisters and so far there hasn’t been any news about his whereabouts. Official reports suspect that he has been kidnapped and one can only imagine what he is going through right now. Wherever he is, we can only hope and pray that he will get through this ordeal. This is the kind of life they lead, people who go out of their way to serve others in society. Though the nuns and the others who were shot down are no more, they have lived extraordinary lives and they will live on in the hearts of the people they sacrificed their lives for. They have loved and given of themselves more than most of us would in a lifetime, they embody the perfect essence of Christ.

And lastly, I cannot let the month April pass by without writing about the more than 200 Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped and kept in captivity since April 2014. What can you say about a world that doesn’t care for them, that doesn’t think they are worth rescuing? As of now no one really knows about their plight, almost all of them were forcefully married to their captives and reports are now arising that a few have been employed as suicide bombers. There is no effort being made to find them anymore, somehow no one seems bothered, especially the Nigerian government. Atrocities are bound to keep happening, this is not a perfect world, but how can one section of the world completely forget the other section that is suffering day in and day out. Life can be cruel, but those with a voice should never stop speaking for the voiceless. One should continue telling their tale and remembering them,reaching out to them if only in our thoughts… to forget them would be an even bigger crime.

This is an article I wrote for the church magazine...

Monday, February 01, 2016

And so it goes...

So where do I start.... January was fun, been so buried under books, didn't really find time to jot down stuff here. January started off on a fun note; after a midnight mass under flashing lights that were really giving me a headache, yeah, my church in the village is really big on tacky lighting... it's almost like a contest here. The more tackier and multicoloured the lighting the more it depicts your devotion I guess, and every religious establishment takes this rule dead seriously. I'm not kidding, I even went and told the guy in charge to please switch off the flashing lights during the service and he had the audacity to tell me to go inside the church and sit with the humongous crowd. Anyway, I went back to my place and whispered to my brother in law about the lack of etiquette in church festivals, and my sister glared at us and asked whether we had any ourselves...
 The church with the flashing lights and multicoloured stars...

After the midnight mass, we came home with the cousins, cut a cake, drank some wine and then set out at 2am to the farm. Once we got there, we got into the water tank and soaked around till 5am, downing tequila shots and eating unhealthy food, which I can say in hindsight is not that great when you find your head spinning in the morning. So no one was more surprised than me, about the way things turned out, anyway...
 Here is my river, a cousin took this awesome picture, thanks Veena :)
Another river we visited 
Met Indira there, rubbed her ears and they were like really rough with tiny hair bristles... her eyes were piercingly beautiful. 

And so it goes, that's what I'm listening to right now, check it out...

Don Williams, I remember his songs playing on the radio when I was a kid. Dad used to listen to him, Charley Pride and the like... but Don Williams always stood out, his songs have this evocative quality to them and this one here is no different, what he sings is heartrendingly true 'Nature goes about her business, with new surprises everyday.'

That's what 2015 will be remembered for, the surprises, the trips, the conscious unlearning, the stirring of the sands of time, the clarity amidst the din, and for the Sherlockian trip down the mind palace, where fragmenting into Christmas decorations and the heightening of every sensation was exhilarating and scary at the same time (kinda like the abominable bride, it was well worth the wait).
Here's to many more trips of the mind, body and soul... 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

In Search of Incredible

So December has been really hectic so far, well the actual craziness started with my sister's birthday on November 30th, when the city (Madras) started experiencing torrential rains. We were cooped up inside enjoying the downpour (little did we know that more was in store), taking pictures and getting drenched in the terrace and making merry like kids... the rain always does that, brings out the kid in you. So anyway, the rains continued through the next couple of days and then mayhem took over, the city started fragmenting into islands. It was chaos everywhere, but the stories that kept pouring in about ordinary people pitching in to help the flood affected people shed some sort of light on the whole ordeal. We tried to help by volunteering in church and driving around searching for bread and water to deliver to relief camps. We lost power for a couple of days, and that was another experience hanging out in candlelight; talking, musing and wondering if others were safe (we had difficulty contacting a few friends). 

Then the Bombay trip happened, I couldn't make it in time for a cousin's wedding because of the floods (ya ya yasser is awesome). Apparently, Yaseer, my cousin's friend braved the floods and made it in time for the wedding, a fact which was drilled into me by the bridegroom. But I did fly in a few days later and it was amazing, like unbelievably awesome the whole week in Bombay with the cousins. Growing up, me and the siblings used to spend almost every summer vacation with them in Bombay, and now going back there after eight years was like revisiting a part of my childhood. Those days we spent packed like sardines in the living room talking and giggling the night away, it hasn't changed... now more people have been added to the pack (the men we each ended up marrying) and all of them are incredibly cool too. it was a wedding to remember with many 'moments' to cherish and an atrocious amount of selfies that have become the highlight of the week (this Bombay trip deserves a post entirely to itself, will do that next year).

Then the moment we reached home in Nagercoil, we were out again caroling and creating a ruckus with the church gang, We cracked ourselves up over a truth and dare game that went on long into the night. After coming back to the city, the house was being painted and everybody was going crazy with the mess. So because of all the drama that has been happening, there wasn't enough time to set up the tree or assemble the crib, And I couldn't let Christmas pass me by without attempting to make something to remember,
So I set up this little crèche in my room. There was an old Asus laptop box lying around and I had some black chart paper, so sketched the parents and baby Jesus and strung some lights around and stuck a star. 
Placed some of the old pine cones here... 
Even the tag line of the Asus product seemed to fit in with the theme of the season, 'IN SEARCH OF INCREDIBLE'. The incredible is present in all of us, we just have to search inside ourselves to know it, to live it, to be it. 
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas season and an incredibly exciting year ahead.