Namma Bengaluru – Too Used to You!


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It’s a dull day once again. There has been no sun for the past two months or more. I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that I have forgotten how sunshine feels like.

As I look out of the window, my mind ponders and the same thoughts start pouring in all over again. Have I outgrown this city? Is this about the weather? Well, the rest of India is envious of us. So what? It’s so dull and dreary. No, I think it’s the traffic that wastes so much of my time or is it just the monotony of life?

It’s been seven long years since I came to this city. And, it’s the longest I have lived in any place outside my hometown of Shillong.

‘Namma Bengaluru’ – as we lovingly address the city meaning ‘Our Bangalore’ has mostly been good to me.

Unlike most people, my moving to Bangalore wasn’t a planned one, it just happened quite by chance. When I landed here, my intention was to stay for a year and leave. Instead, I ended up settling down here. And, it’s not just me, many others who have made Bangalore their home will tell you the same story.

I had moved in to Bangalore from Hyderabad, where I had spent just nine months. Hyderabad, the city of Nizams, is a great place. I loved the city but things did not work out for me probably because I hated my job and I missed home badly. Bangalore was more like an escape and I thought it was my stepping stone to go back to Kolkata where I had lived before Hyderabad for a little more than two years and where I had friends and relatives.

I was ready for a Hyderabad-like scenario in Bangalore. But, within a month of being here, I started feeling very much at home. Caring friends and helpful neighbours made settling down really easy. Soon after, my sister and a close friend also moved to Bangalore. And, three of us have had some of the best times of our lives together – movies, theaters, pubs, outdoors, you name it and we have done it.

However, in the recent past, I often feel stifled and bored here. The city seems to have no life and it feels very robotic, monotonous, and lonesome. Sometimes I even contemplate if I should go to some other city. But when I try to think of an alternative no place comes to mind. I can only think of Shillong but that wouldn’t work – there are no jobs for us.

In a scornful mood, I despise the traffic jams, the consistently depressive cloudy weather, the mall hopping culture, the expensiveness of everything, the crowded streets, the potholed roads, and so on.

At other times, I admire the inclusivity of the city, the live and let live culture, the job opportunities, the professionalism at work, the more greenery compared to other cities, the filter coffee, the juice stalls and bakeries in every lane, and so on.

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I haven’t been successful in clicking the squirrel in my balcony, its too fast but it looks just like this (P.C: Shabby Garden)

Once again, I look out of the window only to find the squirrel that keeps visiting my balcony every now and then.

And, my thoughts about the city disappear.

The squirrel reminds me of the flock of parrots that pass by sometimes, the chestnut tailed gorgeous jet black bird that fascinates me, the melodious cuckoo calling out, the sweet chirping tiny sparrow-like birds, the raven that perches majestically over the ledge, and then I find myself saying – I’ve gotten too used to this place, do I really want to go?

Chill, it’s just a seven year itch, says my sister.

Post in response to Day-7 prompt'Seven Year Itch!'for Bar-A-Thon: The Blogging Marathon

Six Minutes of Fame

Radio was a big thing when I was a kid even though TV had already arrived. Those were ‘Doordarshan’ days and TV programs had specific timings.

Though it seems like a distant memory, I can still see my father listening to cricket or football match relays sometimes multitasking while busily tending to the flowers and fruits in our garden. On weekends, my uncle would never miss tuning in to his favourite 30 minutes of afternoon Bollywood movie songs. Each song would be preceded by an announcement of its associated detail – name of the movie, the director, the singers, etc. Along with that would be a long list of people who have requested those songs. I have my doubts if those lists were genuine at all.

Even today the morning 8.30 AM local news that runs for 10 minutes is diligently tuned in to at our home in Shillong.

During my school days, I had once accompanied a friend and her uncle to the All India Radio (AIR) station, where we were participating in some educational broadcast program. Recording a program at AIR was a fascinating experience for the curious kids in us.

AIR Shillong used to run these educational broadcast programs for children, probably they still do. These programs were usually presented by teachers, sometimes as monologues and sometimes through dialogues in collaboration with students. A particular subject and topic would be provided by AIR to the teacher, who would then be responsible for creating the script and teaching that during the broadcast.

Most often, the teacher would arrange for the students as well – usually 2-4 of them. On that day, me and my friend were the two students. It was a science class but I can’t recall the topic. We even got paid – a cheque of Rs. 200 each. That did qualify as the first income of my life.

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Pic Credit: All India Radio News Shillong Facebook Page

The recording happened and a date for the broadcast was notified. My friend and I had proudly announced to our entire class in school. At home, my parents had informed our relatives. Some of them, who lived in other cities, had requested that the program be recorded through a tape recorder and a blank cassette as was done during those days.

The D-day arrived.

The 30 min program was set to be broadcast at 2.30 PM. It was a weekday and I came home early from school. That morning, I had handed over a neatly folded letter within a white envelope from my father requesting a half-day to my class teacher. My large joint family got together and the radio was switched on 5 mins before time. The program started with the presenter announcing the name of the program and providing a brief about the participants. As my name was announced I could see the proud smile on everybody’s face.

It was my quick six minutes of fame.

Today it feels funny thinking about all the brouhaha over such a trivial episode. But then it’s because of all that it became so special and memorable, otherwise it would have been long forgotten.

Much later while in college and university, I participated in several of these Educational Broadcast programs in the role of a teacher. Besides AIR, ‘Prasar Bharati’ (a statutory autonomous body that comprises Doordarshan Television Network and All India Radio) would also organize youth programs, usually debates and discussions on certain topics. I participated in several of those as well, which were a lot of fun.

There’s another interesting story from those days. A close family friend whom I fondly call uncle, used to be friends with someone senior at AIR. His affection and love for me drove him to narrate some exaggerated stories about my capabilities to his AIR friend. That person then wanted me to come up with a play to be enacted for children that would be recorded and broadcasted on Children’s Day, Nov. 14th.

Uncle promised that I would do it and quite nonchalantly dropped the bombshell on me. My jaws dropped and I was in trouble. This was something out of my purview. Fictional stories, poems, and the like – No Way! I don’t have it in me.

Thankfully a highly creative friend came to my rescue and she did everything starting from conceptualization, to scriptwriting, to song writing and everything else. All I did was arrange for the children – 2 boys and 3 girls and being present during the rehearsals and also the final show. The play turned out to be hugely popular and was aired several times. I was named as the Producer of the show without even doing anything.

And I had my six minutes of fame once again even though I did not deserve it.

 Post in response to Day-6 prompt'Six Minutes of Fame!'for Bar-A-Thon: The Blogging Marathon

Give Me Five!

It never ceases to amaze me how we always discover and re-discover aspects about ourselves. This happens to us in small and big ways every now and then, most of the times leaving us surprised.

Last week, I happened to come across Bar-A-Thon just by chance. I wasn’t following Blog-A-Rhythm, who organized this and hence had no idea. Bar-A-Thon is a fortnight-long blogging marathon where participants blog every alternate day on the theme provided or on the prompts given for each day.

The theme – run/ sprint/ marathon/ dash/ chase – caught my attention as I have started running recently and was anyway planning to blog about it. However, writing every alternate day appeared intimidating as I am used to blogging 2-4 times a month. Moreover, most of my posts are related to travel. That’s what energizes me and hence the words just flow out quite effortlessly.

Again, it was already Day-1 of the challenge and the last date of registration was over. A quick query to Blog-A-Rhythm sorted that out. Day-1 also meant that I had to post something that very day. Amidst all the apprehensions, I dived right in and got my feet wet. As always, it was the handiwork of the impulsive me and considering that I have some spare time now – a rare luxury – it didn’t seem too bad afterall. I told myself that I will write as much as I can, quite sure that I wouldn’t land up writing every day of the challenge.

Today is the 5th day of the challenge and I have surprised myself by consistently writing without missing even a single one. Moreover, my anticipation of writing only on the theme of running has been put to rest as I have quite effectively used the prompts. In fact, I wrote only one post on running so far.

Bar-A-Thon enabled me to think differently. My blog was mostly about my travel and few other stories that are quite significant happenings in my life. I would have never thought of writing on things like 108 Suryanamaskars, my virtual workplace, and least of all my shoe hoarding obsession. Had it not been for Bar-A-Thon, these stories would have never seen the light of the day and would have probably been forgotten with time defeating the very purpose of my blog. Cheers to Bar-A-Thon and a virtual high five on that.

When I started blogging a year back, again quite randomly, I had no idea of such activities/challenges. Later when I got to know, I didn’t bother to follow along as I thought I could never do it.

There are a million different ways of discovering new things about ourselves. It’s a clichéd thought I know but it is true that we have no idea of what we are capable of nor do we know ourselves entirely. Our true selves are revealed through situations, often times surprising us and catching us completely unaware.

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Pic Credit: DeviantArt

Most often, we underestimate our capabilities and get intimidated by the magnitude of a task before us. So, let’s leave behind all assumptions and preconceived notions about ourselves. Let’s strive towards keeping our minds like a blank slate, as we never know what awaits us just round the corner.

Post in response to Day-5 prompt'Give me Five!' for Bar-A-Thon: The Blogging Marathon

 

 

Around the World but Together

The five of us are catching up with each other after the long holiday while we wait for our boss, who has just informed that he would be a little delayed. Huddled in the meeting room, we share with each other how we spent the long Christmas and New Year holidays.

In the two years, we have grown very fond of each other and the miles of distance between us didn’t matter anymore. We were perfectly at ease in our virtual meeting room smiling, nodding, laughing, and teasing each other through the square little window located in the corner of our laptop screens where we could clearly see each other. The week long break has surely been good to all of us. Everyone was bright and cheerful.

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We always visualise our colleague from the island like this. [P.C. Executives Global ]
It was almost bedtime for me, while someone else had just started their day, again someone was having their usual shot of evening coffee, and someone had just woken up. Being from all four corners of the world, this wasn’t surprising. While I worked out of Bangalore, someone worked out of Paris, someone else worked out of Toronto, someone was from North Carolina, someone from Charlotte, and all of us envied the one who worked out of a picturesque island in the Pacific Ocean.

About 3 years back, I found myself in the middle of some churnings and reorgs in the company. As a result, all of a sudden I found myself in a team where I was the only one working out of India, rather Asia. Though working with people across the globe wasn’t new to me but being part of a completely virtual team certainly was.

After the initial teething problems, I discovered that working virtually with globally dispersed colleagues has more advantages than disadvantages. The greatest advantage for me is that it gives me the flexibility of work timings. I can effectively blend in my personal life with work life. I have the flexibility to go into office or work out of home.

Also, interacting with people from other countries gives me the unique opportunity to get insights into their cultures, something that always fascinates me.

The greatest challenge of virtual work for me however, is being disciplined and drawing the line between work life and personal life.

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Neither of this is me but you will almost always find me either sitting on the floor or leaning on the couch [P.C. – Global News and GoodStock Photos ]
Technology enables us to work flawlessly despite being scattered all around the world. I find working around different time zones highly effective. My worktime starts while it ends in another part of the world. This provides me a specific window of focused time to complete my work.

All of us have adjusted our work routines in order to ensure at least 2-3 hours of being together. All our meetings and dependencies need to happen in that window.

At the same time, we are cautious not to fall into the trap of all work and no play. Though we do assemble once a year at some place to meet in person, for other times, we devise unique and innovative ways of having fun times together as a team.

Once we decided that everybody is going to cook cauliflower in their own way. We then presented our recipes through pictures and stories during our team meeting. Another time, we were all given some amount of money to spend in whichever way we want during the weekend. We then presented what we did to the rest of the team. Somebody went for a spa, someone took their friends out for dinner, someone surprised his wife with a gift, and so on.

Sometimes, we also plan virtual coffee breaks with one another, where we share our work frustrations and even small things from our personal lives. My colleague from Paris shares my love for travel and on relatively lighter days our work meetings invariably start or end with discussing places of interest in our respective countries and even sharing google pictures and YouTube videos. All such things has served to bring us close to each other.

All said and done, I do miss having co-located work mates because technology cannot substitute the feeling of physical presence. However awesome technology may be, it cannot replicate the feeling of a warm hug or a gentle handshake. It cannot reproduce the camaraderie of sitting across a table and sharing a coffee or lunch together.

Luckily for me, there is another team in Bangalore office whose work is almost similar as mine. I go to office at intervals just to be with them and also attend most of their team events. This alleviates the need of co-located work mates for now. And, I get to enjoy best of the two worlds – virtual and real – as long as it lasts.

Post in response to Day-4 prompt'Four Corners of the World' for Bar-A-Thon: The Blogging Marathon

If You Can Walk, So You Can Run

  • “I think I am too old to start running!”
  • “Probably running is not meant for everyone!”
  • “Running can happen only if you have been into some kind of sports during your growing up years!”

These are just some of the doubtful questions that kept popping into my mind when I started running and it was nothing but struggle. Quite convinced that running is not for everyone, I frantically googled to find some pointers that would scientifically agree with what I was thinking. There was none! Every article that I read pointed to one thing – If you can walk so you can run.

Running is one of the best aerobic exercises for physical conditioning of our hearts and lungs. And, the best part is it comes cheap – rather costs nothing. Yet in all these years I have never given it a thought, even though I am quite particular about keeping fit. The main impetus for running came from my treks in the Himalayas. I will write about that in more detail in another post.

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Pic Credit: https://thewirecutter.com

While walking is a breeze for me even for long distances, running leaves me breathless and exhausted even if it’s just a few meters. For some time, I just harboured the desire to run as I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

It was not until one fine day when the impulsive me showed up quite randomly out of the blue. And, I changed into a T-shirt and Yoga pants, slipped into my canvas shoes, and stepped out to run. I didn’t have running shoes then. I didn’t know where to go as there is no space to run in my apartment and there are no parks nearby.

As always, I started missing the neighbourhood where I lived earlier, before moving in to my own home. Every lane used to have a park there but at that time I had never thought of running. Life is full of paradoxes….Sigh!

Left with no choice, I ran on the busy road nearby alongside cars, autos, shops, cows, vegetable vendors, flower vendors and everything you can think of in our Indian roads. Coupled with the pot-holed and broken Bangalore roads, it was no less than an obstacle course. I could run for just a few meters and then walked on, finally retracing my way back home.

The next day I went out again. This time I recalled a neighbour mentioning about a park on some street close to my home and I decided to check that out. I walked up to the park and found it to be about a kilometer from my home. It was a tiny one and you need to run around it 11 times to complete just a Kilometer. I did probably just a Kilometer or less, even walked for a few rounds, and came back home fully exhausted. I did that for the next few days with the same result – coming home all flushed and fully exhausted.

Just a few days later, I went for a run with a marathoner friend. It was just a 3 Km. run. I overestimated my abilities and feel ill. There was no running for me for a long time after that. While I am impulsive, I am quite determined too. So, I did not give up. I started off all over again and perseverance paid off.

Today I am able to run 5 Km without falling sick and I do it for at least 3 times a week. It has become a part of my regular fitness regime. Running 5 Km. is probably child’s play for many people and marathoners may even have a laugh or two on reading this. But, for me it is a huge deal considering that just a few months back I was struggling to complete even a Kilometer.

So, how did I do it? Well, I will write about that soon.

Post in response to the theme for Bar-A-Thon: The Blogging Marathon

A Shoe Hoarding Obsession

Cinderella has always been my favourite fairy tale character and the main reason for this is my fetish for shoes, though I can only fantasize and wish for her glass slippers. And if I had one, I am sure I would never leave it behind even for the prince to find it and come looking for me. Imagine leaving behind a glass slipper! I would have gone berserk with the insane attachment I have for my shoes.

I am a shoe hoarder too. Though, in the past few years I have taught myself to treat this condition and have been much better. My obsession with shoes go back to my college days and it continued for many years later leading to a situation where I had more shoes than I could accommodate. It was unthinkable for me to wear just any random shoe without matching it with my attire. I never cared much about the clothes I would wear but the shoes just have to be right.

And yes, I am the kind of person who judges a person by the shoes they wear. The first thing I notice about anybody is their shoes, and it happens quite spontaneously, without much preconceived thought.

There was a time, when I also used to be very particular about the kind of shoes I would wear. I had a penchant for high heels and stilettoes. Those with sleek straps were my favourite. This has a lot to do with the fact that I grew up in Shillong where fashion is taken very seriously. Stilettoes and high heels are almost a culture thing for the natives in that part of the country. Women in high heels walking down hilly alleys are the commonest sights. It’s almost like hiking in high heels. And, it doesn’t matter even if it is raining incessantly for days on end – incessant rainfall is quite a norm there.

 

When I moved out of my home in Shillong to Kolkata, I couldn’t carry all my shoes with me. As a result, in Kolkata I had to have an entirely new collection. My one too many shoes has often been the cause for many a discord I have had with my sister in whose apartment I used to live. She had bought this new apartment and was very particular about its décor. With my shoes struggling for space among other things, her exasperation wasn’t surprising.

The high heels and stilettoes are long gone since the time I set foot in Bangalore, probably because of the terrible pot-holed lanes and roads of this hi-tech city. Also, my newly developed interest towards hiking and trekking led to a shift in the kind of shoes I focused on. Again, there were other issues like the excessive price of branded shoes, the limited choices; the ones I liked wouldn’t fit my small feet, and so on. As a result, my obsession has thankfully waned considerably, though I still pay enough attention to not put on anything random.

I am still not at a stage where I can do away with buying shoes that I actually don’t require, though I wish I was. Shopping is therapeutic, which is nothing but dopamine release. In my case, the dopamine release happens specifically only in the case of shoe shopping.

I still get most of my shoes from Shillong, where one is literally spoilt for choice and the remarkably low prices are simply unimaginable. Even though, when it comes to shoes of my choice I really don’t care about the price. Most importantly, almost all the shoes are available in smaller sizes and my small feet are not a limitation there.

My insane attachment with my shoes reach obscene proportions at times especially when I refuse to part ways with tattered and torn ones, those that I cannot use anymore. I have even gone to the extent of carrying shoes that need repair all the way to Shillong, as I don’t trust the cobblers anywhere else.

A huge collection of my high heeled shoes still remain in Shillong and in Kolkata. I refuse to give them away even though I know I may never wear them again. I am also aware that my mother has donated many without my knowledge, which she refuses to accept fearing that it will upset me. I would hate to admit this but a part of me secretly wants her to donate the rest as well. Perhaps that’s the only way to get rid of my mindless attachment.