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For the First time in Forever..

We were living in a concrete jungle, popularly known as apartments. There were many kids to hang out with and the terrace is always under lock due to us. They said it’s for our safety. One day, one of the wooden door bucked under climatic influences. And that’s when a new horizon opened to us, literally.

We, the gang, were school going kids, in a generation, when the kids aren’t actually burdened with too much of schoolwork and parents let their kids play along with others. It was those golden days, when we would play till we are drenched in sweat, our tummies ache with laughter, air is filled with happiness, our cheerfulness an inherent identity of the neighbourhood.

Though we have played our hearts out on the ground, the information that the door was cracked open, invited to explore us more. And the opening was good enough for us, the kids to get in, but very hard for grownups to follow us in there. And of course, it became our secret spot for playing.

We were playing there and it was on one of those days that we happened to stop our games, just to enjoy a moment around us, when the sky was painted with the myriad of colors of the sunset. So far, sunset only meant that it was time to end or games and return home. Now it was a whole different thing.

We started noticing it when the Sun takes a glorious shade of light yellow, bordering orange and we stood near the outer wall and silently watched as it turned into all those shades before it buried itself into the outlines of what lied ahead. And we continued to watch in silence, till the sky has lost its lighter color and started to darken. It was a wonderful moment and all of us fell for it. And we kept returning to the terrace simply for that moment.

Like all good times, it too came to an end, when one day one of our parent started searching for us and with all the usual ruckus around getting caught, we were forbidden to the terrace and the view of sunset wasn’t the same when watched from ground of a concrete jungle.

But I am smitten forever with sunsets and the golden hour forever. And I still watch the sunsets with the same curiosity and wonder we had then..(and at times I get stared at for being so curious over sunset :/ )

Do you remember the first time you stood memserised by the magical colors of that golden hour?

Everlasting friendship..

It’s said that if a friendship survives for seven years, it will last a lifetime.

Yes, it’s true for me.

Our friendship started when we were seven and now we are decades stronger.

How it started?

When I moved to a new neighborhood in apartments. Contests were being held as part of their annual celebrations and there is only one competitor for mein every contestI entered into. In later years, we teamed up and the association always got very similar prizes for both of us, irrespective of the first and second places we would get.

Also, we were mostly considered twins, due to our facial similarities and also the way we were always found together almost at all times, despite attending different schools.

How did it survive?

After five wonderful years, we had to shift and it was the first time, I experienced the pain of parting ways. It was the time when telephone digits were just three or four and existed only in certain offices and such.

But the pen pals were in rage, by then. And yes, we wrote to each other occasionally and shared few cards, though the times we remembered each other were much more than that.

Later, we connected over phone after years, and the teenage years went busy in our own separate ways. When we met again after almost a decade, nothing much has changed between us and now the technology keeps us connected!

Our story together alone could take up much space and few of them might be coming up in this series.

How about sharing your longest friendship story?

Do we need BookReviews?

Today I am deviating from my theme – nostalgia, apologies, if you were expecting it!

A recent conversation with a friend lead to the topic, why book reviews are important and here is my personal, non-researched view on that question.

I’ve been reading books for years and still haven’t bothered with reviews until the past few years.

It was when I started picking books myself rather than read what’s recommended by dear and near. When I started exploring the plethora of categories and titles, I was literally confused on what would suit me and what wouldn’t.

So, I started searching for the title in Wikipedia, to get a gist of what is awaiting in the content. But that wasn’t a helping, when I started picking up books that aren’t very famous. And thus I stumbled upon Goodreads.

Until, I was part of publishing a book, I didn’t realise the impact of reviews completely.

Now my perspective of reviews are much different than what I started with..

I feel the reviews are important because of these points.

  • It conveys the emotion of reader.
  • Helps a new reader to pick a book more often than a book without reviews.
  • Constructive criticism helps the author improve their writing.
  • And honest positive review is to the author, what the sound of first clap to a live performer is.

There are few downfalls as well to book reviews.

  • Reviews by amateur/immature readers, doesn’t give an objective review.
  • Also, when the reader is not familiar even with popular books of the same genre, they couldn’t identify the inspiration/theft of ideas from other sources. (And it’s really disheartening to read huge praises being misdirected)
  • Paid reviews – it’s true that it’s very very hard to get genuine reviews for new books by persons, yet to become famous. But considering an author famous, only based on paid reviews is totally unfair.

So I do believe that avid readers must come forward to write honest reviews and create a trusted platform for new authors and help the growth of genuine creativity.

And Blogchatter’s platform to bring them together is a right move in that direction. The details of the program are here.

Cry for help!

A big house, grand parents, two cousins, a game.

What could go wrong?

Nothing much, unless the game is to play police and thief, by a 5 year old and 3 year old. And the police decides to tie down the thief in an adult sized chair with real rope with real knot!

Oh yes, I did tie up my cousin and was not expecting to have tied a real knot and also was not expecting my cousin to start crying, because he couldn’t get out.

I started panicking as just one of the two is enough to land me into a good scolding and how am I going to resolve either of them?

And I too started to cry.. Don’t judge me! I was a helpless five year old!

And of course, eventually he was rescued from the knots and indeed we both had received scolding for the next hour or so.

Though till day, we haven’t discussed the instance as grown ups, it created a fear in me to get into games, from which I couldn’t rescue myself and it has also helped me to learn tying knots properly, to remove or to tighten.

And just like every crying memory of past brings a smile in the present, I do smile whenever I see any kid playing police-thief.

So what’s your smiling memory from your childhood?

Bed-time stories

As a toddler, I needed my dose of story for the night, before I slept. And after a while, I needed fresh stories and didn’t care for repetitions.

My mom, besides being my mom held the super power of being a past student of English literature, fan of Tamil literature, avid book reader, an awesome English teacher. And she also has a soothing voice and is pretty good story teller.

My pestering for new stories made her introduce world classic literature to me as bed time stories. And this went on for years, almost till I was eight or nine year old. By then she handed me books and I let her off duty as my story teller. I still ask for a story once in a while from her, even though I know that, she starts the story by breaking the suspense and yet she keeps the story interesting till the end.

Amidst all those years of hearing stories varying from Indian epics, Tamil classics, Religious tales, moral stories, Shakespeare plays and what not, one story stands out.

Actually it’s a novel. My mom’s favourite novel, “The citadel” by “A.J. Cronin”. Yes, she told that for days, as a series. And I vaguely remember the outline of the story, but to this day, I could see one scene of it before my eyes.

The protagonist, suffers some serious downfall in life and his wife, the love of his life, crosses a road with butter in her hands to meet him back and comfort him somehow. And while crossing she met with an accident and dies on spot, with the butter still clutched in her hands and slowly melting away, unlike her.

The story is good on many levels and for actual story, please get your own copy. I’m yet to read the actual book, and remember again, why the death is a vital and path changing moment for the protagonist.

If I was a good painter, I could draw out that busy road. Since I could just spit words….

For the vision of a lady, in black and white, like the ones in Charlie Chaplin period films, over a track of trams, amidst a fairly busy road, sprawling on the ground, with one out stretched arm with butter, other near a basket of groceries, blood crawling out from under her, lifeless eyes staring, is still pretty vivid in my memory.

Even though I have not read the story, it is one of my favourite novels to date!

So What’s your favourite story of years?

An initiation

Few long years ago, when I’ve started taking baby steps into the world of literature, an initiation happened. And the details are….

Bharathi was introduced to me even before I started crawling.. For my favorite lullaby was the song written by him.. In the early class, for school competition, I frequently dressed up as Bharathi and secured prizes every time. So that’s the prologue for this following incident.

My dad was leisurely lying next to me and we both were chattering away. Across us, on a line, two cloth hangers were hanging empty and swaying. They were sort of perpendicular to each other. A hit on the left edge, made them sway on the right edge. Hence, they were on some kind of perpetual motion.

My dad pointed it out and said, see they were chattering and playing with each other. It was fun to me, to see how that non-living thing came to life.

And that’s when my dad picked up a small bound pink book and read out something in the perfect voice to amaze a kid with those little sound effects.

It was about, how two strings hanging from rooftop are given name, life, romance and how they alternate between life and death, by the power of wind.

And without even recognising, I fell in love. With the wondrous words of Bharathi for its simplicity and the imaginable story believable by the kid. And also it felt so important, even though I couldn’t fathom the profound meaning of it, by then.

To this day, whenever I see something fluttering in the wind, I remember that day, when I kept looking at him, as he kept reading out the story, in awe, for the story, for Bharathi, for the time well-spent, for changing something mundane forever.

Just like, as the drop of stone, has no inclination of how far the ripples caused by it can reach, that day had nothing extraordinary to know, it’s going to impact my life huge decades later. For that was the same prose-poetry, I took up for translating and felt a pride for my translated work. 

The story, original + translation available here.

So what do you remember of the first step into a long journey?