Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pune Litfest 2016

Quite enjoyed the litfest this time too. Was sad that I couldn't make it for the Neil Hollander workshop on writing though. Kulpreet Yadav's session which was a semi workshop was a surprise consolation.

Caught the fag end of the Astrology workshop and found it quite interesting, specially the slide on how to handle different Zodiac signs. Cancerians are insecure, Librans are indecisive...hmm. Saggi with let them be free and Leo- flatter them, were no surprise :-)

Enjoyed the exercises on writing like trying to connect 4 images. Might do that as more of a practice, it was helpful and new. Forces you to be more detailed.

Thoroughly enjoyed the Shakespeare quiz. Felt good to be quizzing after a year and got some cool Shakespeare coasters.

On Sunday, I liked the Roald Dahl quiz. It's great to see kids today love him too. Happy 100th birth year, Dahling! Hope you're scandalizing the angels up there.

Liked the Books for Bricks stall by CRY on the lawn and the Enid Blyton exhibition too.

Also surprisingly enjoyed the session on crime. Want to read Helen Smith- her woman detective sounds interesting. Mr. Kumar's real life insights in the CBI and crime fighting was the stuff thrillers are made of.

The poetry slam session was OKish. Liked one poet who performed about salsa and flirting. The exercise on 5 things you hate was revealing though.

The Brazilian music, dance, martial art medley on the lawn was also fun.

I like the intimacy of this festival, with the workshops. That's something JLF doesn't have.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Have been having a whale of a staycation. The trick is to not stay so much at home :-)

Went to the mall on Saturday and spent 7 hours there...reminded me of Delhi days. Hubby had a great birthday with mango cake and a fireworks candle.

Sunday- finally went to the writers' meeting I'd always wanted to go to...soaked in Pagdandi's atmosphere...admired it's thatched ceiling and wooden bookshelves. Quite an action oriented group- we were supposed to write on one of four prompts- a poem emerged on hope which I was quite happy with.

Meet the same people at events of a similar nature- finally remebered had met one of them at the Pune lit fest.

Checked out the new mall and took a selfie with the Johnny Bravo lookalike mascot. Had a 7 layer burrito which seemed more Indian than Mexican.

Went for an art exhibition and saw one painting which stayed with me- a clock in an eye.

Legs gave way then... so headed home to a gabfest with a gal pal overseas.

Monday- Had an awesome foot massage which used still feeling fresh. Finally went to Funky Kona, which lived upto it's name, although the food was so-so.

Watched most of Now you see me 2, which I liked, surprisingly. Once you get over the fact that you need to unwillingly suspend disbelief, the magic stunts, by their sheer novelty and sleight of hand, endear themselves.

Trying to download it, but sadly the dear old gov has blocked all promising links.

Today- Caught up on some research, wrote here, enjoyed the rainy day and finished watching 21 grams. Sean Penn...mmm. Cooked.

Tomorrow's open.

Varying candy leisure time with work helps make it sweeter.

PS- My first gif in a blog post- woo hoo!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New year, new things

It has truly been kairos, going back to Cal. Meeting family and friends, watching plays, etc. Enjoyed seeing the Ashtavinayak temples when I came back to Pune. They were all so different and inspiring. Ganesh ji was sometimes in warrior mode, and sometimes genial. It was truly a road trip- we spent most of the 2 days on the road, the 8 temples each took about 15 minutes. Just the one in the Buddhist caves took an hour, as we had to climb 100 steps to reach it.

Enjoyed Hannah Silva's talk in Pune. British Council got her when she came for the Tata litfest in Mumbai. Deconstruction in action- she plays around with words as sounds, using them as echoes to create new meanings.

Just from this one statistic- 40% of those who are amputated in war go back to war, she created a chilling performance piece, with the refrain It's a positive thing, ringing in my ears still.

Sometimes leaving out vowels, sometimes consonants, her staccato speech pressured language to explode in new realms of what is possible to express thoughts.

Also did some local sightseeing- Vohuman Cafe was a serendipitous find. Also went to Fergie- reminded me of College. Did University today- scored some beautiful trees, in dramatic poses near the Performing Arts Department :-)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Ravi Gulati’s Manzil

I first heard Ravi Gulati, founder of Manzil (an NGO for educating underprivileged children), speak at Delhi School of Economics. His piercing eyes captured me. Although other speakers had Powerpoints, he simply spoke.

And his words hit home. He talked about how he explained to the villagers of Ghad, at the foothills of Dehradun, who had studied only to Class IV, that after Class XII he had studied further, Class XII etc for college years and then for IIM A.

They were amazed. What did you study for such a long time? He had no answer.
Perhaps that’s why Ravi founded Manzil in 1997. At that time, in 2005, over 80 children would come to his house in Khan Market, to learn. I want to help too, I told him. Come over, he said.

When I went over one weekend to Manzil, the first thing that struck me after I climbed the stairs was a beautiful mural of a tree. There was peace in the air. It was very organized. They put up a notice that I would teach English on weekends. About ten children signed up for my class.

I taught them grammar. They were bright and hungry to learn. They were overjoyed when they got good marks on a test I gave. We want help with spoken English, they said. We would practice shopping expeditions on the terrace.

I looked out for them, and helped them later too. One boy, Manoj, began making candles. I got him a stall at a b-school Diwali mela. Another child was painfully shy, because he had studied in a Hindi medium and now had shifted to an English medium school. Break up the letters, I told him. Then you’ll be able to pronounce them easier. His reading improved, and so did the volume at which he read.

Ravi would come and go. I think he had a family member who was differently abled, perhaps that’s why he set up Manzil, to help children like her.

Although I gave tuitions later on to other children, they were never as satisfying as the ones I gave at Manzil. I felt as if I was making a bigger difference there. The children would laugh at my Hindi, and correct me. So I learnt while teaching too.

I even ended up teaching Economics in Hindi! Whatever the children needed. Some, like Anish, even came back and helped run Manzil and teach other children. They danced, acted, made films, learnt their way around a computer too.

It is a happy place.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Next is Us- The LG Nexus 5

Our phones are our lives now. They’re what we reach for in the morning, spend the most time with, and sleep next to at night. Spouses feel left out when we pay more attention to our phones than to them.

But a phone has to be worthy of such attention, right? Who’s going to waste time on a non smartphone? Here’s one with killer looks- the LG Nexus 5! So you can feel good just by looking at it and watching others look at it.

But what good are looks without performance, right? Does your nosy family like to snoop on your phone? Keep them out delicately with the super efficient Fingerprint Sensor.

Selfie time! The great megapixels in the camera will make you look gorgeous for Facebook. It’s a good way to capture moments and store them in your phone, to show to relatives later, with explanations.

What’s the number one bugbear when it comes to smartphones? Battery. You can do these amazing things, but only for a while. The reversible USB Type C charger works scarily fast, so that you don’t have to twiddle your thumbes for long, and can get back to playing Plants vs Zombies 2!

Android rocks- there are more apps on it and it is more open than that fruit. What’s better then than a Google phone? Nothing. With updates as soon as they are out, you’re sure to be the first to enjoy the benefit of a phone that just keeps getting smarter.

A smartphone is a bit like a marriage- choose carefully, else you could be facing the three year itch a lot sooner than you thought you would. So, check this phone out for yourself and I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed. Have fun establishing a nexus with this one against the world. 

“I am participating in the#ChampIsBack activity at BlogAdda.“

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Pune International Literary Fest 2015- Haiku workshop

The Haiku workshop by Kala Ramesh at the Pune lit fest was the best part of it. 

She spoke about the 5 elements and how progressively they involve our senses, just like haiku involves our 5 senses. Space- eyes, Wind- touch, ears, Fire- eyes, touch, ears, Water- eyes, touch, ears, taste, Earth- eyes, ears, touch, smell, taste.

Zoka, or the creative force of nature, comes through clearly in haiku.
A haiku is open ended like a semi circle, so that a reader can complete it by remembering her experience.

It begins with a static backdrop,a fragment- the first line.
The second and third lines, or phrase- the movement, are joined to the first by a moment. So  the scene cuts (kirae) from the first line to the second. There is usually a seasonal reference, or kigo.

There is a sense of oneness with nature and life- satori. In seryu, there is no nature.

We pretended to burst a balloon- never realised how many of our senses are used in doing so! From touch, taste, smell, ear to eye- it covers it all. That little exercise taught us to be more aware of our senses.

Here's a haiku by Basho-
The sea darkens; 
the voices of the wild ducks 
are faintly white. 

See how he mixes two senses and contrasts colour? He's one of the four masters of Haiku, as you can see, with good reason. 

Here's another one by him-

In the twilight of dawn
A whitefish, with an inch
Of whiteness

Ryokan, a Buddhist monk, wrote this-
The thief,
left behind,
the moon in my window

We also read a haiku by Sandi Pray. Here’s an innovative one by John Stevenson-

And one by David Steele-
stuck to the slab  
the                  I 
of the frozen f sh

Here’s one closer home by Sunil Uniyal-
Red Fort Delhi -
the guide twirls his moustache
talking Shah Jahan 

Then one by Michael McClintock-
A poppy…
A field of poppies!
The hills blowing with poppies!

Here’s one by Alan Summers-
train whistle
a blackbird hops
along its notes

So the first line of a haiku is short, then there’s a long line, and then again a short one. In total, there are about 9-14 syllables.

Drawing a haiku is a good way of staying on track.

A haiku strives to bring the extraordinary out of the ordinary. No capitals or full stops are to be used, although articles can be used. This helps reaffirm the cycle of life.

Finally, here’s a seryu by Anita Virgil-
Really alone:
An itch on my back
I can’t reach

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

To a fitter us, heart to heart

Metabolism slows down as we get older. I want my husband and I to start good habits now, when we are in our 30s. That way, we won’t blimp up and have health problems later. The problem is, eating healthy is boring. So is exercising.

When is it fun? When we compete with each other. We rival each other in seeing who will lose more weight first. If one of us gains weight, he or she forces the other one to stand on the weighing scale too!

If I refuse a sweet, my husband reduces the portion of the sweet that he has taken. I try to make healthy stuff, so that we are full and not tempted to have junk food too often. Weekends we usually take a break and eat what we like.

I like having oats for breakfast, which my husband likes too. Both of us are fond of fruits and shop for them on weekends so that we have them within easy reach during the week. Lunch and dinner are normal meals usually- roti, sabzi, dal, so that’s healthy. He takes a fruit to office to snack on, and has dry fruits too if he feels more peckish. I like having muri in the evenings.

We try to walk together on weekends, which is way more fun than me taking rounds while listening to the radio. He educates me about car models, pointing out the good ones as we walk by. I am able to maintain a good pace too if I walk with him, as he walks fast.

When we go out dancing, that’s definitely a fun way to burn calories! We also walk fast in the mall and while shopping at the hypermarket. Every little counts. We have an exercycle, so we pedal while watching TV. I also burn calories giving him massages!

I need to lose a couple of kilos according to the Saffola Weight-Heart Test and so does he, so we should go trekking! That;s a great way to trim the waistline and get refreshed too. I liked the diet and weight plans they suggested too- very sensible and doable.

“I am joining the Saffolalife #ProtectHerHeart initiative and pledging my support to better heart health in Association with BlogAdda.”