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Showing posts from January, 2016

Day 242: Fun Poem : WhatsApp

To say hello and a hi,  normally there had to be a call.  The ringing phones and cells alike, brought joy and happiness as we talked.  Today, it is all text and chat, easy to send and receive.  A lot we use  and call it the 'WhatsApp'.  I think they named it so,  reminiscing the good ol' 'What's up' calls.  Messages are exchanged,  and all are delivered,  but just a few read and comprehended.  I only know so for the blue tick marks,  and even if it is fun to use the whatsApp,  I still miss that easy peasy talk.  The app tells me you are alive and well,  for I can see the changing display pics in swell.  Times change, so does the way we talk,  and probably these show how much we have evolved. 
© Meena Arvind

Day 241 : Picture Post :Flying Birds

This is not a great picture. It was a random click taken using an iPhone 4, a couple of years ago. I somehow like this picture as it reflects the many thoughts that cross my mind in a day. It also incidentally reflects the 'fleeting' relationships we have and make in our life. A lot of friendships and relationships evolve and keeps changing with time. Interestingly enough, the location and the person also has a connection with my thoughts.

Day 240: For a change - Tooting one's own horn!

Usually, I don't see anything good in me. Just like most other people, I always have this feeling of being not so good at anything at all (Jack ass of all trades !). For a change, I am thinking of doing the opposite here in this post. Yes, I plan to write something that I think is my favorite thing about myself.

Let me see....

What I love about myself is that I love to help others. Yes, I know most of us love to do that but this surely is my strength. After a long introspection of myself, I think I love to help so much so, I am sure I would have been a good doctor had I pursued that route. Yeah, it might sound like blowing my own trumpet (but that is what this post is all about )but honestly, there is some truth to it. I observe this as I teach my students, or help someone else with their research ideas and so on. I have found that it is easier for me to work and offer better ideas for others even when I struggle with mine. It is as though a second nature. Mind you,  I am not doi…

Day 239: Fun Poem : Collage

Just like that poem on Collage ! This is something like a 'Nimisha Kavi':) as my friend named me once. Let me know your thoughts.

Color papers cut out,
Magazine photos by side,
I take out a few words,
from someone else's headlines.
Then, on my empty white canvas,
I place these by side and a few
strewn around to create new designs.
Now, you have the same old words
just in a different context,
a new promise, new hopes, and new design.
It is just fun,
beyond words and it teaches us,
to see different and paint new thoughts.

Day 238 : Handmade design- Nostalgia

Design by yours truly and another girl from my university. We did this as a part of the Indian association for Diwali celebrations. It was a hard work as we developed silhouette's of Bharathnatyam girls (black chart) and this as the center figure. Painted using water color and sketch. I should say that the other person was super good that I was able to do a decent job!

Day 237: Republic Day

India celebrates its Republic Day today. Wishing many more years of progress and innovation, and many more 'India quizzes' for all folks who enjoy that.

Day 236 : Edho Janma 'Kalpanayil'.....

Today morning I woke up to the news that Kalpana, the versatile actor who was more popular in comedy roles is no more. It was a shock as even if I have never met her, I have had many wonderful laughs watching her onscreen. For a person who lives far away from homeland, movies, books, food, and music are a way by which we re-connect to those roots. Kalpana thus has always been an inevitable part of my life and joy. She helped me laugh at times when I was down, missed home, or felt alone. There are many actors who played a role and so did she. I feel bad writing this post. I did not expect writing this post here so soon. I was planning initially to write about each of these actors but that involved research and I did not find that time. And now, I am writing something I never thought I would do.

Kalpana is one of the sisters of the popular heroine, Urvashi. The other is Kala Ranjini. Kalpana has acted in a lot of roles that helped use her comedy forte in Malayalam and has acted with al…

Day 235: Simple Sunday Post : Paper Banana Leaf

Today as we got to attend a friend's baby shower party, a few things caught my attention. That made me wonder and realize more about the symbolic nature of human beings. We associate meanings to certain things and objects and we continue that through generations. The baby shower was a traditional 'seemantham' and thus, to make it look authentic, the parents and in-laws had taken pains to bring in a lot of things from India. For instance, to represent the flowers and garlands, there was plastic and cloth jasmine flowers for hair and garland. Then, there were the traditional small vessels and plates laden with fruits and Indian sweets. Yum! Then of course, the final part of any event or celebration (in any culture)- food. It was served in paper banana leaves to represent the very essence of eating in banana leaves. Well, the food was delicious, the hosts were generous, and the party was wonderful. But the banana leaf got me thinking about a lot of things.

Why? I call it a m…

Day 234: Kayamboo Niramayi

I have an inclination for any song that relates to 'Krishna'. Actually anything that relates to Krishna- from names, to peacock feathers, to the color blue. This was not taught to me but I remember being so from childhood. So, the same goes for songs. This has nothing to do with devotional connection or so. In fact even if the premise of the song is based on either the beauty and charming antics of Krishna, romance, or the childhood, or even just terms that relate to Krishna, I love it. This is specially true if the song is in Malayalam. There is an extra charm that the language adds to it. I remember wanting to talk to any one who had a name that was associated with Krishna and his life. Probably, the stories I grew up listening to is a reason why I love it so much.

Su.. Su.. Sudhi Vathmeekam, had a song "Kayamboo niramyi.." A romantic melody number uses the context of Radha and Krishna's love as a way to depict the relation between the protagonist and his lady…

Day 233: Show me the meaning of being lonely

"Show me the meaning of being lonely.... ". Every time this song played, I used to just stop to listen and tried learning the lyrics (I think I was in probably in 8th or 9th grade). I did not understand the lyrics much (for the accent then) but this is probably one of the earliest english albums that made me pay more attention to this genre of music. Having grown up in India, I was exposed to classical, regional, folk, and film music. With so much to listen to, English music was never a priority. So, I find this one very special, as I started paying little bit of attention to English music. Backstreet boys were a rage in the late 90's when they actually formed the band. Show me the meaning was the band's popular number from their album Millennium, a R&B pop. It is a sad song but the rendition of this group was brilliant and I love the lyrics (Max Martin and Herbie Crichlow), even though it is not exceptional, it is passable as a good one. The song also won the G…

Day 232: An actor par excellence - Alan Rickman

Alan Sidney Porter Rickman known popularly as Alan Rickman passed away last week. He was a wonderful actor and probably most of the world remembers him for the iconic role of  Snape in the Harry Potter Series movies. However, as I haven't really watched the Harry Potter movies (don't think will do as I love the book the best and would prefer it that way), my connection for Alan Rickman is with Die Hard. He played that sinister character of Hans Gruber. This article offers a brilliant tribute to the actor and that character of Gruber. As an actor, he played these roles but for us, he stays immortal because of these very roles. And probably that is why we are attached emotionally to a person's death even if we do not know them personally. We mourn the loss of that character (even as they lives on screen).

He was also famous for his roles in movies like Truly, Madly, Deeply-Love Actually and so on. It is sad that he is no more. May his soul Rest in Peace.

Day 231: Wordless Wednesday : Snow day off

Snow day off. Wish it would have looked like this to get a day off. Anyways, those who have snow day off - stay warm and drive safe. 

Day 230: Teaching Design

This semester I am teaching a new subject. It is a lot of work and a tough attempt as it is not my area of expertise. However, I must confess I am enjoying it. I love it. I take a longer time to prepare but it is teaching me my hidden strength and weakness. I love the subject and I am glad I was given a chance to teach it this semester. I am learning a lot more than I could have had I just attended the class. What troubles me is always the 'grading'. I never liked it and I can easily say it is not my favorite area.

As of now, I have taught only one class but the preparation is fun. I enjoy looking for the 'ideas' and options to teach them visualization. It is not an art class but at the same time it is important to teach design in context of business. It is not a class where one is looking at the creative and artistic brilliance alone. It is about how does that help the business. 
For all those who don't value the unconventional classes like these, you must realiz…

Day 229: MLK Day

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While in India, I have heard of this great leader, but since we have always had enough and more holidays and leaders to discuss and learn about, we probably never got to learn about this wonderful leader and civil rights activist. The reason why he was also quoted in India was the influence of Mahatma Gandhi on his approach to civil rights. Sadly, like Mahatma Gandhi, he was also assassinated. Even though there are many controversial reports (FBI) he has been an influential figure among the Black community in this country.

Even though, I have never felt that personal connection to the history of this land, every history narrates the struggle and reflects the roots of the society. And I connect to that and am inspired by that. So, does this one. So, here is a couple of my most favorite quotes by MLK.

This is very deep and I relate to this.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” 

You can see the i…

Day 228: Dulcimer

One of the most beautiful instrument I have ever come across. It is called the Dulcimer. This is a fretted string instrument. This specific one shown in the picture is a mountain dulcimer. The roots go back to the Irish settlers of the 19th century. It is made of wood and belongs to the zither family. It is commonly used in bluegrass and country music. I came across this one in Berea and the person who runs the store does woodwork. I loved the store and his work so much that I ended up getting the smallest piece of woodwork from there (the others were super expensive :)). This brand of dulcimers are very popular in the US (Warren May Dulcimers) and are traditional true diatonic. They range from $500-$800. I think they can also make it starting from $400 (I did not see it there on that day). The wood usually used is walnut, cherry. It has been a while since I visited this place (almost 2 years ago) and I can still recall the beautiful store and the nicest master wood craftsman I have …

Day 227: I once knew a girl

I once knew a girl,  who was never perturbed.  She had a twinkle,   and a little dimple.  Her eyes lit up  every time she smiled,  And Oh boy! was she ever worried? I never knew.  She never complained even in pain.   She never had a lot of friends but just the few right ones.  She was chatty,  smart and witty in every sense. 
Now, when I look around,  I miss seeing her,  she never dons a smile and never twinkles. Her eyes are dull,  and she's lonely and quiet.  Tucked away inside her shell, she is a chaos lost in time.  She gets cold feet  and never mingles.  Withdrawn and low all time. 
I still wonder how my girl just disappeared for she must know that I dearly miss her.  If she is reading this,  I just want to tell her how much I miss her quirkiness and grin.  She has to know that  she is the best the world can find,  She is the reason we are one of a kind.  She might have never gotten the good vibes,  But she has to trust for, I'm here, right beside,   For her, always and …

Day 226: Happy Makar Sankranthi/Pongal/Lohri

Wishing each of you a wonderful and happy Pongal, Lohri, and Makar Sankranthi. If you don't celebrate, then wishing you a happy day today. To those who get to eat sugar cane, cooked sweet rice, and white rice, with everything else that you get to do with family and friends, wishing you many more of that. Wishing you all a wonderful day!

Note: For the benefit of those who do not know: This is a harvest festival and marks the transition of sun into capricorn. Celebrated in different ways, the reason is the same. It is called Pongal, Makar Sankranthi, Uttarayan, Bihu, Lohri/Maghi, Makar Sankranama, and is even celebrated in Thailand as Songkran (from Sankranthi), Srilanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, Nepal, and Laos.

Day 225: Emotions in Ads

We, as human beings are tied to this big bubble by a conscious experience within oneself called emotion. There is a myriad of emotions in our own thoughts and mind and couple it with the interaction with fellow human beings and animals alike, you have a million emotions lying there. This is the very crux of human life and relationships. It makes it beautiful and at the same time complicated. Just because we have an emotional attachment to something changes our perspectives on it. Despite its complexity, we as a living organism (because, animals are emotional too) are 'alive' in every sense because of these emotions. It is not possible to not feel any emotion for a sane mind. All that we can control is how we react to it. This is possible only when we train ourselves to do so. Otherwise, our mental, and biological age shapes our reaction to every possible emotion and the feeling itself. Well, advertisers make use of this and do the very same thing. Reach out and connect with o…

Day 224 : Wordless Wednesday : One bright Summer Evening

One bright summer evening. I think this is one my very first photos (of nature) after coming to the US.  The beautiful Clinch river!

Day 223: Vivekanada's Birthday

Today happens to be the 153rd birth anniversary of Narendranath Dutta, whom we popularly call as Swami Vivekanada. India celebrates his birthday as National Youth Day as he inspired millions of young minds during his years as a monk. He was called a monk with a difference. He was a patriotic monk who inspired nationalism in colonial India. So, this is a short post that takes one of the quotes from this great man. This is one of my most favorite ones.
Note: This very quote was mentioned in 'Thani Oruvan' movie by the character-Siddharth Abhimanyu  played by Arvind Swami. I don't they gave credits to Swami Vivekananda.

Day 222: Virtual Reality

The big black lens,
that look like a diver's goggles
are now a newbie
and hopefully the future fad.
They call it the VR or the
virtual reality,
and give it many names
as they want it to be.
A pair called the rift or
was it Oculus Rift?
And yet another a gear,
oops, the Samsung gear.
Then there are a few,
that all of us can afford,
and hence, they are made of
just cardboards and wire.
These will help you be present
all over the world,
at just a touch of button
in your mind's eye from anywhere.
You can watch the games
or even the attacks,
by just being at home
and not moving at all.
I am sure it will make us wonder,
at times if anything were real
or just a cognitive snare.
Confused- if we belong just here, there or nowhere.

© Meena Arvind

Note: Just a take on the virtual reality gadgets which are becoming the new gear of interest. Attempted to write it like a poetry.

Day 221: Bookshelf

There was a bookshelf, that was a key to a million thoughts. It was not locked nor kept away,  but then not all were curious to  take a look anyways.  For ones who did, it was like   conversations with different minds,  Different places to travel and find,  Every path was not a rugged terrain, for there were a few to run and hide.  The dusty old shelf was always a place for all.  It was for the girl who couldn't talk at all,   for that fellow lost in a different world,  or for that man, who was looking for one.  It was for the calm, serene and the kind,  for the curious, fidgety, and the wise.  But never was it for the know-it-all,  for once you walk you never will stop.  As I walked in and looked at in awe,  memories of the good old smell haunt my thoughts,  I remember digging through that rusty blue trunk,  loaded with books gifted to my dad.  Every printed page was a genuine gift,  a gift to the wise to sit and relax,  for the ones lost to find their path.
©Meena Arvind

Day 220: Cast Aside

Cast Aside 

Always second and cast aside, 
I walk out before I begin to cry. 
It is hard to know the real truth, 
for sometimes I wonder why I don't belong to you. 
Is it the worth or is it just me
I know it is the big bad truth. 
Every time I shed a tear, 
there is a gap that grows an inch apart. 
It is growing up to create a wall, 
to distance not you from me, 
but to distance myself from the heart. 
Mind is troubled and lost in thoughts, 
with too many knots to tear apart. 
Will it ever be good enough?
or will the wall just keep growing tall?
I distance myself more and more
just to disappear from all this chaos. 
Always second and cast aside, 
I now walk out and never look behind. 

© Meena Arvind

Day 219: ACK : My most favorite comic series ever

Any kid growing up in India would have come across ACK series. Amar Chitra Katha. Simple translation of everlasting comic stories or picture stories. As a kid, I grew up reading the ACK series in English and Malayalam. Even now, the pages are so clear and vivid in my mind as if I read them yesterday. I am not sure if it is because I read them a million times or is it because I loved them really a lot that I cannot forget them.

It was founded in 1967 and published by India Book House. I remember, I always wanted to work there as a child. It was created by Anant Pai who was from Mumbai. He was shocked to watch a quiz show in Doordarshan and see that children did not have any grasp of Indian mythology but knew the Greek mythology better. That probably initiated this wonderful comic book series which focused on mythology, history, and other stories that reflect Indian culture. I am not sure if our childhood would have been as good as it was because of this beautiful series. Even though I…

Day 218: TBT: Winter Boots

Throw Back Thursday - Winter! Yes, we have had a bad winter here this year. In fact so erratic that even the plants and grass are confused. As I miss the beautiful winter snow, here is one from the past. Circa 2015 (From somewhere else;)

Day 217: Mozart of Madras : Happy Birthday

If I have to choose one song from the wonderful ones composed by this genius, I think I will be lost. I am sure that will be the same for every single person who loves his music. What ticks with his music is his innovation, his simplicity, and most important his very personality. Somehow, he keeps quiet, keeps it simple, and makes less noise. He creates more joy with his music itself.

From 1992, when Roja was released to this date, with Tamasha in 2015, A.R.Rahman is the man to watch out in the music world. Even though, I am glad he won an Oscar, I am not sure if that movie was supposed to have won it. Yes, he does deserve more awards for sure!

Today, on his birthday as I look back the two decades of brilliant music, I still feel the freshness as I listen to 'Kadhal Rojave' or 'Chinna Chinna Aasai/Dil Hai Chota sa' just like it was years ago. That is his magic touch. Now you can understand why I cannot pick one easily. So, here is a list of just 3 songs.

If I have to …

Day 216: Rani Padmini : Nothing special

A simple, not-so elaborate review of Rani Padmini movie!

Rani Padmini is one of the movies in the recent times that created a lot of noise even before its release. Directed by Aashiq Abu, it had two women in central characters. This was also the first time Rima Kallingal acted with Manju Warrier. It was supposed to be a road journey movie and it was shot in the beautiful part of Himachal and northern India. For all that noise it created and all the wonderful marketing tactics, the movie was not all that great. Yes, I loved the journey, I loved watching the beautifully captured Indian terrains, the songs were good, and even the narration was kind of okay. But what I did not like was the not so natural acting by both the leads. Even though the approach was to show two women who learn from each other as they travel together, the spectrum kind of stereotyped that those who look very typical, simple, and door-next door (not that Manju looked so much like that) are not as strong as the one…

Day 215: Non-Stop Writing for 5 mins: Free Writing

Today's post is going to be Free Writing: Writing non stop for 5 mins. No editing and No correction. I have given a small clip taken from this slideshare. Timer: 10:05- 10:10. I watched the timer and I tried my best to not 'press the delete/backspace'. Succeeded almost by 80% ! There a couple of typos and I left it as it is!

So, here it goes as I had a chocolate yesternight after dinner.

Chocolates have always been my favorite. I love dark and white chocolate in particular. I try and read about the benefit of having chocolates every time I indulge in one. Yes, guilty pleasure I agree. However, after learning about mindfulness and practicing it in my everyday life, I wonder a lot about the everyday goods I use. Be it a simple bag of chocolates or the cotton clothes I wear (the winter wear too), or even the car I drive. I am mindful of its origin and its journey to where it is today. This mindfulness helps me understand the beauty of every product and how we take a lot for g…

Day 214: A celebrity dinner date : Obama Sathyabama :)

A hypothetical situation calls for a dinner date with someone who is a celebrity. Yay! That sounds good. Actually speaking, I would love to be that celebrity with whom someone else can have dinner :) But as of today, the insignificant me gets to choose someone who has made a significant contribution to the society and is treated as a special and important person in this world (or at least the world around them). So, whom do I choose? Well, that is a tricky question. Even though I have a list of celebrities whom I follow once a while, there is no one that I appreciate or love fanatically. Yes, a lot of them inspire me- a few long gone, a few still making waves, and a few who are the newbies. But I have never felt this urge to go and meet them or say hello even if I bump into them (I have mostly seen, at a distance,  Indian celebrities from entertainment industry during travel).  However, one couple have always made me want to meet with them. Now, if I happen to get a chance in the nea…

Day 213: Reading Challenge 2016

This year's new challenge is going to be a reading challenge. Not sure how many books yet, as I am working on that number but in between my writing, everyday work, sleep, tv, and yapping I plan to make sure that I finish a set of books by the end of the year. I will surely use this platform to keep you all posted about my journey through that. As of now, I am hoping at least a set of 20 books but I am not sure. I secretly hope I can do one for each alphabet :) so 26 but keeping it reasonable and sticking to 20.

The list of books will surely change and vary through the year but there are a couple of books that I intend to read for sure. They are as given below.

1. When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi (to be released in a couple of weeks)
2. The Divided Island by Samanth Subramanian : I am not sure if I did mention that before, but I haven't completed this yet
3. The power of habit by Charles Dhuhigg : I am not sure why I got this but guess I loved the introduction and it …

Day 212: A New Year and a New Beginning

January 2016. Already? How fast, right? I only remember the beginning of Jan 2015. And as if at the blink of an eye an entire year has just passed by. The past year has been a kind of roller-coaster ride and I can only remember parts of the whole year. It is as though I remember one incident every month and lo! My new year has arrived. 
When I look back at my 2015, I can remember the excitement during the first couple of months as I got to do a very short trip to India and be a part of something very special in life. Then all I remember is the four walls of my office room, the conversations and brainstorming with my dearest friend, 'A' at work and 'A' at home, non-stop phone calls to my family to help ease my stress, sleepless nights, waking up to dreams of white papers with black typeface, stiff fingers and neck, horrible back pain from the long hours of sitting, yearning for a break from everything, sudden urges to disappear into an oblivion which suddenly is overpowe…