February Ramblings : 19 – Journaling

I have quite a few acquaintances who are religious diary writers. They jot down the happenings of their day at the end of their day, and their thoughts on them, if any. I have not snooped into any of their accounts, so I wouldn’t know exactly what goes into the content; but I guess this would be a fairly accurate guess.

Journaling differs from diary writing. It is intermittent, and has a theme to it. A diary can be used as a base for a journal.

I had taken a course on Writer’s Village, which had Leaving a Trace as a course material. It is a comprehensive book on different types of journaling. I love how the author gives examples of people who wrote to document a particular phase of their life, or to log casual happenings and their ‘works’ were found by unsuspecting descendants who were transported to the time of their ancestors.

Anne Frank’s diary remains one of my favorite reads in memoirs. Memoirs are a collection of interesting accounts taken from a diary and rewritten to form a chronological journal.

Often times, the candidness of autobiographical writing has bothered me.

While Frank would never see the reactions her work amassed, she did have an idea that she would someday want to publish it. Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography on the other hand, was published during his lifetime, and in it he has delved into such personal details! I wonder how he would have prepared for the reception. And if he would have felt the need to prepare, at all.

Coming back to journaling, it can be for one’s own ‘personal’ purpose or to publish. A journal written for the former, and then turned into a finished work for the latter purpose would be more candid, I suppose.

That brings me a thought which has loomed large in my subconscious. (And that I forgot *just* now! Yikes! Let me jog my memory a bit… aah yes… read on read on!)

What use do ordinary people living uneventful lives have for a journal?

I might attract a volley of disapproving *SMH* kind of murmurs and even shouts from some of you. To that I say, hang on…let me finish…

We, as a society, are quick to judge. I belong to the foremost ranks of those who do so. And hence, till this day I do hold the belief that a life full of mundanes is not a full life.

That those who stress on adhering to a routine set in stone do lead uneventful lives OR those who do not have frequent events that would evoke a more than casual interest from the listeners of ‘how was their day’ OR simply those who wish to live a ‘normal’ life would not have anything to document daily. (Okay, I might have exaggerated a bit there. I am by no means condescending nor do I feel so deeply. Perhaps what I mean to say is – unless someone sees ‘magic’ in the ‘mundane’, he or she would not be motivated to write about it.)

It heartens me to say that I have found that ordinary people in fact, have the most use for a journal and their journals make for the most interesting of discoveries about human nature. How?

  1. They give one an idea of what life in the day of a citizen was (or is), in that period.
  2. The popular general notions about political inclinations and societal norms are disclosed.
  3. Their journals are proof of the depth of thought that one spends (however philosophically inclined or not) on a given subject – be it on world politics or the list of grocery to be purchased for the next week.
  4. Humans have immense inner strength. While it may go unnoticed by the exterior appearance they put up in difficult times, the written word gives us a glimpse of how the individual citizen deals with the vagaries of his everyday subsistence that keeps him from delving deeper into the hows and whys of existence.
  5. Anecdotal narration comes naturally to most of us. Journals are treasure troves of stories that would mean the world to their immediate family, thus building a sense of belonging to a larger scheme of things in the future generations.

Let me know if the above reasons to write a journal make sense to you.

I’ll leave you with this parting thought – my great-grandmother (a woman of strong character, who loved reading and would always stress upon me the value of education) and Ayn Rand (the author, of course) were both born in 1905. How different their journals would be!

Journaling thus serves to enrich the world with collective experiences of an entire generation belonging to a particular time frame – because they vary in nature beyond our wildest dreams. And however ordinary they may seem to us, our lives are worth leaving a trace! 🙂

 

February Ramblings : 14 – Expounding on an elusive emotion

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

I guess you’d expect me to talk about love today. It is only appropriate that I oblige.

A cursory heads up before you jump headlong into reading (how presumptuous can I get 😛 ) – I am by no means cynical about the romantic variety of the aforementioned emotion, contrary to what this passage may indicate. (As I say this, I must also warn you that I have no clue what I am about to write.)

There are certain conclusions that my age (I would have added wisdom, but I gracefully refrain from the temptation, which would most certainly refute my claims to the said quality) has accorded and afforded me; and which I want you to be privy to too so that you can glean some insights (if you are the younger generation) or add your comments (if you are my peers or the older generation).

The movies or the books are just parts of the whole story. Love, in real life, ebbs and flows according to the circumstances – where in this existential voyage, both of you gather a collection of happy and sad memories. Cut a chunk of your love ‘timeline’ from any starting moment to any figurative ‘ending’ moment and you have a story worthy of cinema or literature.

The ‘feels’ are all too real. I remember my Mom crying into her hanky in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. As I entered my late twenties, I too started getting emotional in movie halls. My eyes would fill up with tears of grief or joy for the lovelorn couple, as the screenplay demanded of the audience. THAT my dear readers, is nothing compared to the roller-coaster ride that your heart takes you on, as an unwilling participant, when you yourself unwittingly fall in love!

Only the self-loving can love. Having grown up on a steady diet of stories that glorified selfless love (case in point – Hum Dono), I have always held the notion that ‘love is, completing one another’. It is with utmost reluctance that I admit that it is not the case.

‘Love is in fact, evolving together.’

You may be opposites, or – there would never have been two people who were so alike. That is immaterial! You are under no obligation to ‘complete’ or entitled to ‘be completed’. On the contrary, when you hold hands, you set out on a journey of besting ‘your own self’ with an equally enthusiastic companion in tow, who in turn is doing the same himself/herself – while enjoying the experiences you share with one another, on the way.

This is where I end my deliberations. I can ramble on for eternity, for if any topic catches my fancy, my train of thoughts sets out to circle the Universe!

I hope you have enough food for thought on your plate. Do comment on whether this appeals to your palate or you’d rather have some modifications!

 

February Ramblings : 1 – Lunar Eclipse 2018

Okay, I’m too lazy to think of a more appealing post title.

Welcome to February Ramblings, a blogathon conceptualized by the Lady at Shail’s Nest. The purpose is to ramble…so here I start.

I watched the total lunar eclipse that occurred after 150 years, because it took place on a super blue moon night. (I have yet to know what a super moon means.)

In the year 2004, I had seen the total lunar eclipse that happened in the dead of the night. If I remember right, the moon was wholly red at about 2.30 am and looked like an orange – with its rough ‘peely’ (pockmarked) surface.

When I saw the ring (I know there’s no ‘ring’ ring in lunar eclipse, but I call the first illumination moment that) from the tallest building in the town yesterday, I racked my brain to remember ‘that’ moment from 2004. For the life of me, I couldn’t. Maybe I had fallen asleep after waiting too long for the eclipse to start lifting.

Let me give you a little background on how I watched that eclipse. It was the summer vacation after 12th. The younger sibling was enrolled in a Cricket Camp in Baroda, and we were also hosting one of his school friends from our town, at my Nana’s place. If you know Baroda (yes, uh Vadodara or as the locals say – Baoda), the summers are extreme. The only respite is the night breeze.

My Nana’s place was a quaint row house near the newly functional Airport, and the terrace was the perfect place to camp out with a few mattresses, for a good night’s sleep. The plus point for parents was that the sunlight at 7 am was so strong that we couldn’t sleep past reasonable waking up hours!

As usual, out of the 3 children and 1 grown-up (my Mom) who slept on the terrace, I was the only one excited about the eclipse. I was over the moon thinking – now I can boast about seeing both total solar (1999) and total lunar eclipse. I stayed awake past my bed time of 10 pm till 2.30, marveling at the celestial wonder. People on the terrace woke up for a moment or two and then went back to sleep. And looks like I had drifted off too, for when I woke up the moon was almost all visible.

So, to conclude, I had watched the total lunar eclipse partially, and only completed watching it now, because funnily enough, I couldn’t see the moon till it was fully engulfed by the shadow at 6:21 pm. I didn’t get to see the half I had seen and saw the half I hadn’t. (OMG, I’m truly rambling!)

Getting back to what is the original point of this post – to ruminate on the mental state in which I saw both the eclipses. Sorry for keeping you in the shadows…

In that summer of 2004, I had heavily messed up my board exams. I knew the results wouldn’t be too attractive, but I also thought that there was a safety net of 80% – I was not that dumb that I could fall below that. (Or so I thought.)

I had nightmares where I couldn’t finish my paper or didn’t know what to write, because I had ‘forgotten’ to attend the classes for a subject. I had shared my feelings about my grades, but I had not shared those nightmares with anyone. In the day time, I used to have a queer feeling in my tummy – a feeling of  impending dread.

Most of the times I managed to ignore it by keeping myself occupied in reading, and playing cricket with the guys. When left to my own devices, there was a constant feeling of dread running in the background.

One day, I decided to face it head on. Was I afraid of what my teachers would say? Or was it what friends and family would have to say? Was it because there were friends and cousins to whom I’d be compared to? Was it because I thought the marks would not be enough to get into a decent engineering college?

The answer to all these questions was ‘No‘. I had that feeling because I knew I had not done enough, when I easily could have.

To not keep you in suspense, I got 77.7%. The safety net didn’t catch me. I reaped what I sowed. I made up for the fiasco in the entrance exams and did get into a good engineering college.

Coming back to the future… I thought on my present mental state. I have that queer feeling in my tummy again every single day.

While the feeling is of the same nature,the cause is not the same. As opposed to 2004, in 2017/18 – I feel have indeed done all I could. After a lot of mulling over, I think the feeling is because over the course of time, I turned into a people-pleaser and the nagging feeling is because people feel that I haven’t done enough.

To sum up, my uneasiness stems from the fact that my ‘all I could‘ isn’t ‘enough‘ for others!

Looking at the eclipsed moon yesterday, I realized that I have learned to face it, and use it to my advantage. It now keeps me on my toes and makes me do the right thing for myself.

Then, I had an illusion about a safety net. Now, I have none.

I know that I’m on my own, and that makes me resolute in my vow to never have that queer feeling in my tummy again, by doing what I have to do to evolve in order to reach the best of my potential!

 

Taking stock : 2017

Hey ya folks! We’re into mid-2017.

I had updated my Facebook profile for a life event ‘Made peace with time.’ in mid-May, because I wasn’t freaking out about the time that has passed or is passing and things that are pending. I am glad the life event seems to be a permanent change in my temperament, because I still ain’t freaking out while I go through my resolution list made in Jan 2017.

Here we go:

Here are the resolutions :

  1. Win a medal.

    Well, I made it to the Nationals by qualifying in the Pre-Nationals held in Mumbai, this June. The margin was appreciable. I needed 352/400 to qualify. I shot a 358/400 in a pressure situation. I am now training at Level 6 in GFG, which happens to be the highest level of training that they presently offer. So yeah, winning is on cards, the season is progressing well.

  2. Earn money blogging.

    Why do I do this to me?!

  3. Code using SWIFT and also develop an end-to-end iOS app with cloud hosting and web services.

    Have not started. Am not sure.

  4. Write a tech blog.

    Same as above.

  5. Write a shooting blog.

    This is possible. Need to start.

  6. Write actively on thedamsel.in.

    I am not sure about the blog. I have been posting on Instagram, but it is very directionless.

  7. Read 100 books.

    Like last year, I have subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. I am even more disappointed with their collection. I have read a few thrillers and a few man-eater series from Kenneth Anderson and Jim Corbett. Right now, I have finished Shashi Kapoor’s Biography and am reading Shammi Kapoor’s. If you have any Kindle Unlimited recommendations, please suggest.

  8. Write short stories and creative pieces.

    A poem about my dead cat counts?

  9. Complete April A-Z Challenge and February Ramblings.

    Gee…

  10. Eat right, exercise and get a fit body. Participate in at least one marathon.

    Exercising. Not enough. Need to work.

Erm… I am happy I posted on the blog even if it is ‘taking stock’. Hope you’re having a good year too!

To my dead Cat

Chunky, my dear pet.
(Oh how you hated the vet!)

You were but a week or two,
when Mom found you,
licking the cauldron of ghee
in adorable kittenish glee…

Before you, I never had a ‘real’ pet
All came, and went away or were sent away pat * 🙁
But you were different
Oh you were so adamant!

To you, I was introduced –
when I came back from the tuition. Boy, I was so very deuced!
You were hiding in the farthest corner under the ‘computer room’s’ bed,
Oh hello, little one…I bent and said.

All squiggly and wiggly, you walked to me.
As I sat down, you purred and circled me.
You were so delicate, but boy, did your purring motor race!
For the first time in my life…a fur-ball had me scare(d)!

They let me keep you,
rather, they themselves kept you!
You were soon family,
The house’s youngest member, officially!

Then you unleashed your childhood.
You were a fussy eater – miss puss-in-boots.
Milk, you drank.
From bread, you shrank.
Buttermilk, sometimes.
The shake incidence, we still narrate at family story times!****

In the living room, you had your own cat-home.
A large metal cage, with a pretty dome.
By the day, the grounds you’d roam,
at night, you had no choice, but to stay home.

Then the hunter in you showed up.
At your sight, the birds would warily chirrup.
You chased insects, who did not heed you at all
One bit your nose. Since then, you ran at the sight of all!

You left behind your childhood garb goofy,
and after teenage, you turned into a celebrated beauty.
You made me an insecure Mom,
when you went out with that tall-dark-handsome Tom!

I soon realized there’s more than food in your tummy,
My God! My li’l Chunky was now a soon-to-be Mummy!
You rested in my lap,
And I watched you nap…

Days went by, and that summer, we had new babies,
I am thankful, you didn’t make me change their nappies 😛
What a joy it was, to see you transform –
from a helpless kitten, to a hands-on cat-Mom.

The rest, my dear, is history.
Far and wide, you and your clan spread your glory.
One day, just like you had appeared,
you disappeared.

I never had a chance,
to give you another glance.
Our meetings had become so rare,
after I was off to College, I had little home-time to spare.

I knew you were gone,
but my heart would have of that none.
You met me in my dreams,
leaving clues, muffled screams…

Of where you’d be,
Of where I should see…
Were you in your old spots where you’d hide
as a kitten, when you didn’t want to be grounded at night?
Speak to me,
I want to rescue you, my child…

And then I woke up,
all shaken up.
I was positive you were in danger,
and I could do nothing but hanker.

One day, you met me in dreams again,
we were at home, and you came hopping in like a mad man.
I screamed. This time with joy,
Come ‘ere, that’s my dear boy!

You played with me, to both our heart’s content,
that’s when I realised, you still seemed distant.
Almost heavenly.
That’s when it hit me.
The way you looked at me,
Even in my dreams, I knew, this is the last I’d see.
Of you, my dear Chunky,
you dear dear cat spunky.

You bid me adieu,
didn’t you?
‘Cos since then,
I haven’t seen you.

Not even in my dreams…
And now, there are no silent screams.
Looks like you’ve found your peace.
Although you were never the one for it, you tease!

Last week, I saw a movie,**
in which there was a playful doggie.
He came back to meet his human friend,
After 50+ years end…

Somehow I know you, you dead cat.
You are planning something…tell me what you’re at!
Are you gonna come back to me, when I am tired and old,
to meet ‘him’ too? He was there, back then too you know – why, that’d be gold!***

If you’d only say, and oh if you’d said it sooner,
I’d have spared that emotional shower,
when I cried my heart out, a year after you did disappear…
Yeah, I took my time until you told me that you’re dead, you heart-breaker 🙂

Now be a gem, and say you’ll be back, even if it’s for the rat(s)!
You nut, you crazy crazy whippersnapper, you smug li’l brat!

* We had a lot of rescue kittens, dogs and birds. We nursed them and set them free wherever they were found. So we had a lot of animals over, but they never stayed as pets.
** A dog’s purpose
*** Reference from A Dog’s Purpose : Ethan’s girlfriend had met Bailey, his Red Retriever dog. After reincarnation, the trio meet again. When Chunky came to live with us, Abhijeet was in town too! He hasn’t met her though. Till now that is… 😛 Ok, I am not crazy, I am just trying to make this poem as good a tearjerker as the movie.
**** Quite a story…saving it for other times…
So this is how 2 week old kittens look. Chunky was found exactly at this age –