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With the advent of online social networking, need arises to revise the definition of “Like” in dictionary.

Like (pronounced lahyk)

  • Acknowledgement or thanking someone for a wish. Can be used in place of “Thank you”.

The new online social norms dictate that, one ought not to be disheartened if the response to a Birthday wish is a “Like”. That’s the social networking lingo for one to say Thank you. Time is money my friend. If one can convey the same message with a single click, why spend time hitting numerous keys on the keyboard? The key hits for “t h a n k <space bar> y o u”, and if you are more expressive than that, perhaps followed by “! ! !” and a “: )”, are time consuming especially when you factor in the number of wishes, many of which are from acquaintances with whom interactions are limited to just one post a year, one has to respond to.

  • Agreeing or acknowledging with an opinion. Can be interpreted as “I agree” or “I second that”.

Usage of this variation is widely used when someone posts an opinion or shares social or political news currently in limelight.

    • Exception – some confusion prevails on the use of Like in response to sorrowful events. Does it mean that one likes the bad news or perhaps likes that his/her friend has a redundant superfluous opinion on the matter? In most cases it is interpreted as an acknowledgement; however, it has to be noted that this is in direct conflict with the historic definition of Like, which is to find something or someone agreeable, enjoyable, or satisfactory.
  • Petition signatures or votes. This is the most recent addition which was brought on by a few incidents on Facebook. A soon-to-be-mother solicited the use of Facebook to acquire 10000 ‘likes’ in order to win a bet with her husband to decorate her to-be-born baby’s room in her favorite NFL team’s theme as opposed to his. Another incident was two kids seeking 10000 ‘likes’ to convince daddy dearest to shower them with a trip to Disney.

Related phrases – double like, super like. On the surface, these phrases indicate lack of vocabulary; Au contraire they signify that the viewer wishes to express more than the usual degree of liking.

If tomorrow never comes

I opened my inbox and found a letter he had emailed,

“You forgot to invite me to your wedding!” he complained.

It had been a while since we had last spoken,

I regretted that such a treasured friend I had forgotten.

I replied with my sincere and heartfelt apology,

And a promise that sometime, I’d catch up with him and his family.

Fret not; I kept telling myself, each time I felt the guilt,

I convinced myself, I have a lifetime to make up for it.

Thinking back, I remember, I had not attended his wedding ceremony,

Thought I’d just catch up with them later when they come back to the city.

Fret not; I kept telling myself, each time I felt the guilt,

I convinced myself, I have a lifetime to make up for it.

I was happy for him when he discovered new joys as a father,

I thought to myself, I should congratulate him and meet his darling daughter.

Fret not; I kept telling myself, each time I felt the guilt,

I convinced myself, I have a lifetime to make up for it.

.

Many precious moments had gone by,

Our childhood friendship had gone awry.

I finally return that phone call to my friend,

It’s ringing; but there’s no answer at the other end.

The “next time”, “later” and the “lifetime” I thought I had, are long past

I realize that the connection is now, forever lost.

The distance, now too far to be crossed.

.

What’s come in the way is life itself,

With a tinge of heartache, I promise myself,

To hang on to the warmth of the good times gone by,

As I bring myself to say the last good-bye.

I count the days..

Written on Aug 17, 2007

I wasn’t able to sleep all night long,

Your flight had been delayed, my wait prolonged.

Anxious to see you, eager to feel your touch,

Unable to concentrate, I could not do much.

Butterflies in my stomach, I waited for you,

Been a year since we last met, it all felt so new.

Every time the phone rang, I sprang up thinking it was you,

Until finally at 3 you called and said “I love you”.

I was ecstatic; I was on cloud nine,

Knowing I would be face to face with you in some time.

.

My happiness knew no bounds when I saw you,

This time it felt familiar and comfortable, not awkward and new.

Next few days were the happiest days of my life,

Even the times we fought like husband and wife.

You are all that I wanted, no one can love me the way you do,

You make me what I am, your love so unconditional, so pure and true.

.

Time again for your flight, standing here your arms wrapped around me,

It feels perfect and right; I know we were meant to be.

My eyes filled with tears, my heart filled with pain,

I count the days to when we will be together again.

.

Hope

A poem (using the term loosely!) I wrote when I was 18..

A rose in my hand I hold
and ponder over what my friends just told,
One by one the petals of the flower I pluck
wondering whether he’s also love struck
I’m his best friend he says
well,what can I say?
To me,he’s like the beam of happy rays
During those dark gloomy days
Every moment that he’s with me
He makes me laugh
even when i’m down & life seems rough.
I know not what’s on his mind
whether a picture of me in his eyes i’ll find,
but some where deep in my heart I see,
Aa ray hope that someday together we’ll be

Dharma.. “But it is not Rama’s creation, nor his forebears. It is the way of the world. The law of nature itself. Mortals only chose to interpret it and apply it to their own world. And even that interpretation will change as the eons go by. In another age, far distant, it will come to mean merely Duty, like a given task or chore. And still later, in a dark age filled with garish soul-blackening light, the age of Iron and Death, it will mean merely Religion. A series of rituals, the true origin or purpose of which will have been long forgotten, obscured, and worst of all, perverted. But today, here and now, in this last phase of the Age of Truth, it means what it means to us. A way of life. A way in the world and beyond” says Jambavan (Bear a.k.a rksaa) to Hanuman on Dharma.

I just finished reading Ashok Banker’s rendition of “Ramayana”, an epic narration by Maharishi Valmiki. Before I talk about my experience with this incredible whirlwind of a story, I would like to thank Mr. Ashok Banker for taking on this monumental task of translating the epic story into English. A victim of misplaced pride coupled with arrogance, I opted out of learning Sanskrit while in school (who needs Sanskrit in this new age, thought my ignorant mind). As a consequence I was not able to read any of the great epic stories of India. Although never a rebel, I did have a tough time simply being handed down the interpretations of the religious stories or scripts without having the opportunity to read and ponder over it firsthand (well, almost; because all retellings are but interpretations of the original story by the author!). So I’m glad to be able to read the retelling (not a translation but a retelling) of the great Indian epic story… “Ramayana; Rama’s yana (journey)”.

The story is rich with characters and stories intertwined meticulously. Although the main protagonists are Rama and Sita, the other characters are so well sculpted that you are drawn not just to the gripping life story of Rama but to those surrounding him as well. Rama’s journey is one of grandeur and extraordinary feats. Right from the get-go, it is a gripping tale, filled with mysteries and adventures. The pieces of the puzzle are scattered as you begin the journey along with Rama and falls together into the final beautiful image as the saga comes to an end.

Rama is sixteen and the crown prince Ayodhya as the story begins in this book. Instantly, the reader falls in love with his personality- his innocence, his discipline, his simplicity, his charm and his being. You feel the pain of the hardships that Rama has to face and the rage at the conniving people that are the cause for those. But the story is so beautifully written, it does not present all things black and white. It brings out the grey shades in all, including Rama and Ravana. The beauty of the epic; it does not lay out rules or examples to follow. It merely attempts to capture and interpret the life of a “follower of Dharma” and leaves you to wonder, interpret, learn and relearn. If you love magic, adventure, mystery, emotions, this is a must read.

In this retelling, the author deviates from the original narration of Ramayana at a few places (that I know of!). I know this not because I have read other versions but because I have heard countless tales from grandmothers, grandfathers and even great-grandmothers. But I have no complaints; this is the author’s retelling, in his own words, based on his learning and assimilation of the story. And that’s the very beauty of the great Indian Epics. They do not restrict one’s mind; you are free to explore, learn and grow with each narration and each retelling.

The last chapter, Uttara-Kand, however, left me desiring for more. For one, the idea of Rama, the one who could not falter, banishing his beloved Sita is one that I could not fathom. I could tell that the author also had trouble comprehending and narrating this part of the story because as I read through it, I felt that the author was not completely convinced himself. I tried to look up other references (internet, other books online) but have not found any retelling or interpretation that could fill that gap I felt.

A note to the readers- I read the book on Kindle and the kindle version had many grammatical errors; the mind corrects as it reads but it does irk the reader.

All in all it was a good read (long read!) enriched with learning and some very thought provoking moments. I would definitely recommend this read. Pick any translation; original, if you can read Sanskrit. Ashok Banker’s Ramayana is definitely a good pick as it is not just a translation, it is a retelling of the epic, a good one at that. It will definitely leave you wanting for more.

And now, I’ll leave you with another excerpt from the book that struck a chord within (there were many such moments but the two I have listed here are ones that I kept going back to, to read and reread.)

Valmiki to Lav and Kush about his Ramayana when they ask for his interpretation and opinion.. “It is a mistake to listen to interpretations and versions of any fact and assume that they too are fact. Only truth itself is truth. Anything that refers, references or even repeats it is but a version. For no repetition can be perfect and exact in every detail. A man is a man. A portrait of a man, no matter how accurate, is not the man himself, merely a portrait. Similarly, a story of a man is not the man himself, merely a story. My Ramayana is already a version of itihasa, not itihasa itself. To know that truth, one would have to live and observe those events oneself—not merely as a bystander, or even a participant—but as Rama himself! Until you can walk in his paduka and be Rama, you can never truly know what he was and why he did what he did, you can only offer individual interpretations —and when it comes to interpretations, each one is as valid as any other. So be careful of judging him. For by doing so, you are judging only an ephemeron. Like an insect that lives only a short time, any poem, portrait or description of a man is simply a moth. Hold it close to the Agni of truth and that version burns to ash and disappears. Only the flame itself is truth. And who can enter into the heart of Agni and live to report that truth?”

The feeling of helplessness… in knowing that something cannot be reversed and is lost forever.

We fight with our near and dear ones, we forget to call them back when they call us or we’re simply lazy to pick up the phone and call, we postpone meeting them to a later date.. Sometimes the distances can be crossed, the differences can be resolved; at other times when they cannot, we know we have a life time to make up. But sometimes, without any warning, what comes between us and our loved ones is life itself..

“I’ll call you back this weekend“… “let’s catch up sometime“…  “I can’t talk right now, I’ll call you back later“… What if that “weekend”, the “sometime”, the “later” never arrives? What if the connection is lost forever? …What if the person is lost forever? Then we are left with a void that cannot be filled. In a vacuum, yearning to reach for something… someone… who is no longer there.

What lives on are good memories and the warmth that it brings along with it.. along with a tinge of heartache.

Pretty little faces

I had tried to sketch portraits numerous times but failed miserably each time!! While the sketch itself was good, I never seemed to get the bone structure right. When my friend Richa was moving back to India, I wanted to gift her sketches of her two very lovely and adorable kids whom I had grown so fond of. My first attempt at sketching Nannu (her daughter) fell flat. Disappointed I took notes and started all over again, this time with a different approach. From other artists I had heard of and seen portraits done using grids. So I drew grids on the photo and on my sheet (kind of like a map), got the basic outline or positions of the facial organs drawn, removed the grids and started sketching. And that method did wonders. The outcome…

Of course it helped greatly that I am in love with those kids, so the passion with which I sketched this was much more than any other portraits I had attempted in the past.

If you are looking for a never before experienced outdoor adventure trip, look no more. It was the first of its kind trip for me. When my friends from Minneapolis, Prashanth and Sheia said we’d be going canoeing, I pictured it to be very similar to the kayaking and canoeing in Key West where I had been earlier this year. But I was met with a totally new experience that took my breath away.

My trip to Minneapolis included numerous fun stuff, but I’ll skip right to the part where we entered BWCA. Sheia had already made the necessary arrangements to obtain permits to enter BWCA (check out their website – http://www.bwca.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=gear.your). Before we ventured out, we had to first get the gear and the canoe. Sawtooth adventures (http://www.bwca.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=outfitting.ofdetails&busid=84&buslink=1) is very close to many of the entry points and the folks there are very friendly. The basics we’d need were already booked and ready for us – canoe, paddles, life jackets, tents and sleeping bags. Apart from that, waterproof packaging is very important considering the chances your canoe may topple or one of the bags may fall into water, you’d not want wet food or wet tent. We got one huge waterproof bag for the tents & sleeping bags and one waterproof barrel for the food. There were numerous other accessories like waterproof gloves, socks, etc. If you like me are easily bitten by cold, consider taking the waterproof gloves/socks. I was not too miserable without them though.

And the fun began… After securing the luggage to the canoe and Prashanth hanging a fishing rod on his canoe, we entered the wilderness area through the boat access point in Homer Lake around 4 PM(ish). The wind was blowing North to South at around 15 mph (we were told by the friendly folks at Sawtooth outfitters). As we had been wisely advised, we tried to stick to the North shore of the lake but no sooner had we entered the lake, we found ourselves zigzagging all over the lake.  Amidst a downpour, it took us a while before the fumbling stopped and the rowing and steering began.

We had chosen a circuit route via Homer Lake, Vern Lake, Juno Lake and finally the Brule Lake. (See map below; apologies for the low clarity!)

So the aim was to reach mid-way, i.e. end of Vern Lake by night-fall. Looking down at the map I thought “hmm, not that tough! A zig zag here and a zig zag there”. Yeah right! So those little tinsy-winsy blobs of islands on the maps weren’t as tiny after all; moreover it’s so difficult to recognize them when you’re actually *in* the lake. We soon got lost trying to find the first portage. After much rowing around, some anxious souls whining and some enquiring with other campers (who were far and very few), Anish decided to get off the canoe and investigate what should’ve been a portage but looked like a muddy swamp. He disappeared for a few minutes and then returned victorious; we had found the portage* at last!! The boys carried the canoe while we lugged the barrel of food (literally. It was a water-tight barrel) across to Vern Lake.

By the time we reached Vern Lake, the sun had lit up the sky with a beautiful orange flame which reflected warmly in the lake below. We had to settle into a camp close by and pitch our tents before it was too dark and cold to do anything (cook dinner too! Phew!) And so we camped at the south end of Vern Lake instead of the north end as we originally intended. A quick photo session and we dived right into setting up the tent and getting the fire started. Since it had just rained, getting the fire started was frustratingly difficult. All we managed was to kindle a flickering flame that lasted about 5 minutes before it went out and we had to start all over again! Soon enough the tents were up and the ready-to-eat food was ready to eat (no fishes on the first day I’m afraid). Exhausted from all the rowing, we gobbled up the food, spent some time laughing and retired to our tents. One tip – never pitch your tent parallel to the wind. Even with all the layers of clothing (and I mean “layers”, I was wearing four layers, gloves and skull-cap!), I was freezing to my bone.  I woke up in the morning complaining about the body ache. But when I got out of the tent, the sight that met my eyes made me forget any ache, physical or otherwise. I just stood there with my jaw dropped in awe. See for yourself…

We sat in silence for a while and then took turns to row out in the still waters. Prashanth put out his fishing rod again in the hopes that they may have fish for breakfast or lunch today (I say “they” because I’m a vegetarian). But alas! No fish for breakfast too.

It was the most pleasant and peaceful experience I have had in a very long time; hearing the birds chirping, feeling the warmth of the sun caressing my face in the cold winter weather, watching the water spiders attempt to disturb the stillness of water (and fail miserably), listening to the silence and… watching George do a “wheelie” with the canoe. In case you are wondering what I mean, see below.

After constantly being reminded that we need to move along, we packed up and started northwards on Vern Lake with Prashanth’s fishing rod hanging out of the canoe. We reached the Juno Lake after crossing a beaver dam. All was calm and uneventful for a while until we heard a scream. I looked back to see what or who might have fallen in the lake. But… as it turned out, finally a fish had taken the bait! (One unfortunate Northern Pike). My friends scaled and fried it as soon as we reached the next portage, eager to celebrate Prashanth’s catch. They seemed to relish it while I mourned the dead!

We continued on to the Brule Lake where we found more folks on kayaks and canoe. It was windier and the lake was larger than the ones we were just rowing on. We stuck to the south shore and after an uneventful (apart from the zig zag-ing and occasionally straying from the intended path) couple of hours, we finally reached the boat access on Brule Lake. Dragging the canoe onto the land we had a smile of content on our faces and I bet we were all thinking one thing about the trip that had just ended – awesome!


* Portage or portaging refers to the practice of carrying watercraft (in this case canoe) or cargo (our food and tent) over land between two lakes.

 

 

 

I miss…

I miss waking up to the familiar chirp of birds outside my window

I miss the familiar sound of the gate announcing people come and go

I miss the racket caused by the neighborhood boys playing cricket on the road

I miss the annoying potholes and the puddle, more annoying when it rained and poured

I miss the power cuts and the evenings spent in candle light

I miss the festivities, especially the look of lit up skies on Diwali night

I miss my ride, my “Kine”; I miss the rattling of scarily loose parts and an engine so old

I miss Kamath’s “be careful” speech every time it broke down on some lonely road

I miss my granny’s long winding stories about her past adventures

I miss annoying her while trying to click a picture of her without her dentures

I miss the feel of her wrinkly soft hands, her chubby cheeks

I miss telling her how my day was and listening about her endless TV series week after week

I miss the weekend volunteer work with Ishan, Niranjan and Ady

I miss my little friends from Ashrams who in many ways continue to inspire me

I miss the weekend travel to home sweet home in Bangaluru,

I miss my mom’s cooking; the “pulao”, the “gojju” and the simple “anna-saaru”

I miss my dad’s calm attitude in the face of any problem and his familiar comforting smile

I miss Sagar’s frequent antics and his attitude in taking on new adventures in style

I miss my home, my family, my friends, and so much more

I truly miss everything about Mysore…

When one of my close friend mentioned that his New Year resolution was to learn a musical instrument, I was extremely inspired to strum the guitar once again – something I discontinued when I moved from Mysore to US (and let’s face it; I don’t have a ear for music!). When I told my boy-friend about it, he rightly pointed out to me that the impulsive buy would simply add a guitar in my room that would go untouched while I divide my free time among my other hobbies of painting, sketching, photography. How I hate it when he is right!!

That’s when I sketched this guitar.. If I couldn’t get one, why not sketch one! 🙂