Friday, January 30, 2015

Looking back to 2011

Today, I happened to go through my photo collection in my hard disk.  After I was admiring my lean and trim self from then, I got into a complaining phase about myself, but coming to think of it.. A life with no change is a life not lived. So all good here, just physically heavier by some kilos.
Getting back in shape is the agenda this year.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Happy Christian New Year 2015

Life is often all about perspective - a point of view. The way one views the same situation makes all the difference in the way one will react to it!

May your Christian year 2015 be filled with a positive perspective always --

Here is a picture to echo this predicament --

This is captioned - "Its all about the perspective"

Short Story : Alamu's journey into the world of Ramayana - Part 3

Here is the third and the finale part of this series -

Alamu’s Journey into the World of Ramayana – Part 3
By Vatsala Dorairajan

Story so far…

Alamu, a young girl, begins yet another journey in her wonderland. This time, She is transported to a strange place where squirrels speak and young boys run errands and collect firewood for their Guru. She listens to a rather intriguing conversation among the boys, and before she can realise or do something about it, she gets magically transported to another place that is resounding with soulful music. 

Read on ---
Alamu steadied herself to a chorus of voices filling the air with soulful music. Instinctively looking up to see what the squirrels would lead her to, she heard two mellifluous voices joining the choir inside, heard from just above her head. Puzzled and confused about squirrels singing so well, she discovered that it was actually two beautiful young girls that got down to enter the adjoining hall, to an arousing welcome by the singing choir. 

 Picking up distinctly well tuned Tamburas, the duo started to lead the choir to some more singing. Alamu could make out that these were well practised songs from the finesse with which they were being rendered. And as the voices came down, and the girls started speaking, it became apparent that this was a group of music aspirants, and the girls were going to teach something new today. Tuning into the class again, she heard the children repeat after one of the girls.

 "Let us learn the final two lines of this keerthanai today - Repeat after me --

Theli Neerin Nilai Kondu Ketpom Unarvom,
Kali kondu Solluvom Seshanin Daasanom."

The children sing-songed the words, repeating twice, after which the other girl started to teach them the tune of the said lines. 

 A few rounds of repetitions and corrections later, as the children were about to sing, the older girl gestured and asked - "Are you able to understand what these lines imply?”
 "'We should listen and grasp like clear waters?" asked a child innocently. The girl smiled and said - "We are asked to stabilse our minds such that the mind becomes as clear as water" - much to the surprise of the children. And as all of them began to practise the whole song, it all began to come together in Alamu's mind. 

 Not able to contain herself, and about to jump into the scene, Alamu found that the chorus had come to an end, and the girls were explaining something. “Isn't it a wonderful metaphor that Guru mama has taught us? That, by keeping our minds steady and calm, it becomes as clear as water?” - “Yes akka, this is a very unique expression!!” answered one of the kids. As the other kids nodded in agreement, the said akka continued - “ Indeed. Guru mama directs us to learn to control and direct our thoughts, by which the mind becomes calm and composed. And with a calm mind, one can overcome any and every kind of situation in life. A clear mind, like clear water, is of much greater use than a confused mind, like muddled water”.

 The whole group was silent for a few minutes grasping the gravity of such a metaphor in the backdrop of the Tambura's drone, when 'Akka' spoke again - “While this is such a inspiring and interesting thought, can you imagine this metaphor being used in reverse?” --- While all the children were intrigued by this question, Alamu had divined where this explanation was heading. This was her “eureka” moment, and all the puzzling questions in her mind about this strange odyssey so far began to fit into place in her mind

--- “While today, we are being directed to emulate clean waters, can you imagine a time when clear waters were compared to the minds of people. There was a time when there were such noble and good natured people, that their minds were so calm and clear, that Rishi Valmiki compared the clear water of the River Thones to such people's minds? And how clean the environment and the rivers would have been then, and how great the people would have been that a river’s clean waters reminded him of good noble men and their minds? So much so, that it inspired him to settle down on the banks of that river so that he could pen the story of Ramayana!!” ” concluded ‘Akka’.
Somehow Alamu was growing fond of this ‘Akka’ :)

 The children beamed with the element of wonder and the surprise of such a thought. Alamu was as speechless as them. Not only had she learnt a new song from those two “Akka”s today, but also, she had time travelled with them to the era of Rishi Valmiki!! That too on a tree! And accompanied by speaking squirrels, that transformed into two beautiful girls who sang as beautifully. Weighed down by so many thoughts, she rested her head on the wall from which she was peeping in, closing her eyes to let all of it to sink in. She was also trying to recollect where exactly she was right now, when the whole world seemed to shake violently and her head hit something very hard! There was loud noise and commotion. Opening her eyes to see if it was the children leaving from class, she was startled to see her mother calling out to her. Looking around, utterly confused, the damp cold grass under her feet reminded her that yet another journey into her wonderland had just ended. She followed her mother back to the house, with a chuckle on her face and mouthing to herself, “Wow, Just Wow!”

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Short Story : Alamu's journey into the world of Ramayana - Part 2

Here is the second part of this series

Alamu's Journey into the World of Ramayana - Part 2

by Vatsala Dorairajan

Story so far...

Alamu, a young girl, begins yet another journey in her dreamland. This time She is transported to a strange place where squirrels speak and young boys run errands and collect firewood for their Guru. She is hiding from the view of the squirrels and the boys, and listening into a rather intriguing conversation --

"What a tiring day! Let us quickly take rest under this tree. Would you like to have some fruits?" said the elder of the two boys. The other one replied in affirmative, and both started munching the fruits from their cloth bag. There was that wonderful glow on their face that one couldn't take their eyes off them even if they wanted to. Alamu was no exception to this. She watched them without batting an eyelid.

 "Bhraata, hurry up, we need to collect firewood and firesticks and return to prepare for tomorrow's lessons as well" said the younger one to the other. "Sure, I have almost finished my fruit, just give me a few more minutes" said the elder. The two boys had distinctly different complexions, the elder a little darker and the younger one a little fairer, inspite of them clearly being brothers. "Ok-kay bhraata!" beamed the younger
one, "what was it that Acharya mentioned today? It was a very interesting comparison, isn't it?" he continued. "Indeed" came the reply again. The younger one was clearly the more talkative of the two thought Alamu.

 "But although we just learnt it, I am not able to recollect it clearly. What was it about Tamasa river, that Acharya mentioned?". With an affectionate smile on his face, the older of the two boys said, "After Devarishi Narada told him about the story of Rama, Acharya came to the banks of our Tamasa. And he was so struck by its clear waters, it reminded him of the minds of good ad noble people and he said --
 "Akardamam idam teertham Bharadwaaja Nishaamaya |
 Ramaneeyam prasannambu sanmanushyamanoyatha || "

"Wow, Tamasa was so clear at that time Bhraata? Like the clear minds of good people? Such a nice comparison!! I will definitely tell Amma about it." said the yonger one. "Tamasa is as clear and beautiful even today, my dear. And recounting to Amma is possible when we reach back home, so hop along my brother!", so saying, both of them quickly got up and left.

 Alamu's concentration on the subject of the conversation was broken by the commotion from above her and before she could realise, the squirrels almost ran over her to the spot next to the tree to grab the left overs from the boys' snack. She watched them pick up the nuts and left over fruits, and just then something happened. One of the squirrels snapped its paws and that tree started to turn. Instinctively clinging onto the nearest branch, Alamu saw the two squirrels make a lunge to the nearest reachable branch of the tree as it started spinning fast. Speaking squirrels, spinning trees, some river called Tamasa, Alamu was thoroughly perplexed where this was all leading to. Was this a dream? or reality? And not to mention the headache that she was developing due to spinning along with the tree. Just when she was about to cry out in pain, it all stopped. The tree had stopped spinning, and was now stationary near a stable of cows.

To be continued...

You can read Part 1 of this short story here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Short Story : Alamu's journey into the world of Ramayana - Part 1

Some interesting news - Presenting to the august readers of this blog - My 3 part short story - "Alamu's journey into the world of Ramayana",  a parallel of the famous novel "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Caroll  -'s_Adventures_in_Wonderland

Alamu(shortened from Alamelu) is a young girl, who is known to often wander into interesting and intriguing places with help of Nidra Devi, the sleep fairy. Read more to know to about her experience this time --

Alamu's Journey into theWorld of  Ramayana   - Part 1

by Vatsala Dorairajan

That gentle cool breeze wafting just around her face while the sunshine warmed her feet made it feel all the more comfortable and cozy for Alamu to keep her eyes closed in sleep for some more time. It was a few minutes later, that it struck her that she had gone to sleep on the cold damp grass under her favourite mango tree in her garden and it was winter when she slept. But this felt warm and pleasant and cool, all at the same time.

 So what was this place? And where was it? Intrigued to know where the sleep fairy, Nidra Devi, had brought her today, she gently opened her eyes, sat up and looked around to see if she could identify anything or anyone around her. Before she could make any sense of the surroundings , “I wonder what Rishi Valmiki taught the brothers today”, squeaked a voice above her. “I just cannot wait to lay my hands on the nuts that are going to fall off their bags as they trundle along this path”, squeaked yet another voice. The conversation and the voices, both were very amusing to Alamu. A quick glance upwards the tree that she sat under, revealed that the owners of the squeaky voices were two squirrels, intently gazing at the row of huts just a little ahead along the mud path beside the tree that Alamu was sitting under.

 “SPEAKING SQUIRRELS!! “, totally awestruck, Alamu silently listened into their conversation. “Always nuts over some nuts!! Now pay attention, they will be here any minute now”, exclaimed the first squirrel. Just as the other squirel opened its mouth to lash out a retort, all the three's attention was disrupted by two beautiful voices humming “Rama Seetha Rama Seetha Raama Ram”.

 Are THESE the boys that the squirrels were so excited about? Who are these boys anyway? And Valmiki wrote Ramayana, right? How come these boys are learning from him? Questions upon questions were piling up on Alamu's mind, and her curiosity grew two times taller than herself. Containing herself, she watched intently as the two boys came closer to Alamu's tree. By this time, she had managed to hide herself behind it, so as to not get noticed by anyone else. Settling down nearby, the boys began to talk.

To be continued...

The other news good news about this piece is that it has been accepted for publication in the latest(January edition) of a newsletter of a Pathasala dedicated to South Indian Religious Tamil Literature.

The public link to the image version of the published article -

The public link to the entire newsletter (English content is from 5th page) -

The blog post of the Pathasala linking to this particular edition of their newsletter  -

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why a nameplate does not make a brand

This - is a poor experience that I do not wish on my enemy. But the sad reality in India is that we go through such experiences every day. It is abnormal if someone does their assigned task without requiring a reminder,a nudge, a raised voice, a yell, and an outcry in that order.  So whatever Volkswagen may have been or even now is in Germany, the people manning the stores in our India have been recruited from the regular pool of common people. And hence it doesnt matter whether you are a Volkswagen or a local garage wala, unless you are willing to lung it out with people to get something done that rightfully should be yours, nothing is ever going to move here.

The curious case of Vishal Gondal's Audi loitering about on the streets when it was supposed to be at the service station is also under the same category.

The fact of the matter is that for a brand to give that feeling to you, there needs to be a synchronized commitment by the people(who form the organization) towards the customer - Right from the door man standing at the gate of the showroom, to the store manager, to the regional sales head, to whatever designation the big boss of the company holds. Because the spirit of the brand starts in the heart of the people working there, and then reaches the customer only through them. What name plate you hang in front of your store matters much less. An Audi board with heartless behaviour is worth nothing whereas some random "Batliwalla & Sons" with high customer orientation is a multicrore business proposition.

Think about it.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

today's Environment,Health and An Immune India tomorrow

In the last 60 years since India became an independent nation, many things have changed. The country's outlook has changed. Economy has changed. New Industries have come up. New companies have come up. Style of working has changed. And with all this few very important things have also changed which are going to define our tomorrow.

1. Environment - The climatic conditions, the amount of green cover around the country, the soil texture, the water table, the increasing use of chemicals (pesticides,fertilizer, today chemicals are even used to ripen the fruits on the day the shopkeeper decides to sell the fruit)

2. People  and their lives - Mindset of people has changed from "I need to keep things carefully and preserve them" to a "I can get a new one if the current item is not around" - A consumerist mindset and increased level of affluence has become the norm today. In addition to this, the society has become highly performance oriented. There tremendous pressure to achieve and deliver results across age groups and across professions, even children.

And because of these two factors, today, the entire brunt of this is taken by the human body. With vegetables having much lower nutrition levels, and a polluted environment, a child's body has to fight hard to cope with the pressures of school and extra curricular activities and demanding parental expectations today. And it is going to be even more so, in the coming years. Hence it is very important to ensure a healthy body, for which a good immune system is essential. But how to strengthen this, when all external conditions are averse to this? This is where our ancient knowledge about herbs comes handy. It is time to revisit the value of the various herbs that grow in the nooks and cronies of our nation and harvest the best out of them.
Like Aloe Vera, Tender coconut, methi  for its cooling properties.
Like Mustard Oil to keep warm in the harsh winters of the north.
Like Henna,shikakai and reetha that condition and shine the hair just like that.
Like taking chyawanprash and pepper tea when seasons change to protect yourself from seasonal flu and fever.

These are small things, and cost very little, but go a long way in building immunity.
After all immune children today ensures a Bharat immune to diseases tomorrow.