Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Black List

There is a unique magnificence in black, an appealing lustrous delight that isn't inherent in other colors. Black is like that blanket which carries the strength to overrule all other shades. Black signifies authority, power, virtue, beauty and élan, all at the same time.

When given the option to select five black things, a lot of random thoughts came into my mind. Black encompasses us in ways more than we can imagine. Innumerable objects possessing this color can be regarded as fantasy and deserve to be added into any wish list. However, I pondered deeply, and after hours of racking my brain, I came up with the following five black items that I would love to own in the present scenario.

1) Black Hair

Still in my late twenties, it gave me a fright when a few white strands appeared on the tips of my head. Mirrors wouldn’t deceive, but how I wish they could at times. Over the months, the count of white strands kept increasing, making me feel older than I am.

An all - black hair is what I need, not only today and tomorrow, but forever, till death do, me and my hair, apart. After all, it does hurt when college going girls start calling you uncle.

White hair is a sure shot villain. Turn them into black, please!!!



2) Black Clothes

Call me lazy if you wish, but washing clothes on a regular basis is a real menace. The shiny white shirts soon turn into gray, and I have to spend almost an hour cleaning hordes of them. Same is the case with other colors. Whether it’s red, green or blue, they all lose their shine after a few wears.

Now, imagine all the clothes are made of black fabric. The dust accumulated on them are not easily visible unless one observes them from close quarters. Thus, it is easy to wear and carry them, ‘cause they always look fresh and smart. Black also holds a certain degree of charisma and dignity, adding that much needed zing in your personality.



3) Black Penguin

Remember the TV show ‘Pingu’? The animated series used to be my favorite, and I never missed a single episode. Now, I always wanted to have a penguin as a pet, the way they flap their wings, and their walk is oh-so-cute. A black penguin would thus add a new joy to my household, giving me company when I eat my favorite rice and fish curry.

However, a penguin needs to be kept in a cold place. Perhaps, I need to rent an ice-skating rink, but then that would require a lot of money right?. Chill, it’s just a wish – list, but if I really need money to fulfill it, the fourth item comes to my rescue.



4) Black Briefcase

I love watching old Bollywood movies, where there is a hero, a heroine, and a villain. The villain, while indulging in monetary transaction, exchanges black briefcase with the concerned parties, and lo, when the briefcase is opened to verify its contents, the audience could see bundles of notes stashed neatly in it.

A black briefcase like that, with loads and loads of money, would certainly fulfill all my basic needs, wishes and desires. No more cash worries, no fear of depleting bank accounts, but only dreams of how to spend this large sum of money. Yes, a black briefcase, just like those villains carried, would change my world for the good.



5) Black Ship

I would love to roam the world, in my own black ship, charting the oceans and the horizons that promise adventures anew. Stories of travelers have always fascinated me, and who knows, I too might come upon an island that has not been discovered yet, adding a new country on the global map

Nevertheless, visiting new shores certainly is an enriching experience, and battling the waves and tides would definitely be exciting. Also, black ships symbolize the ending of isolation. In that respect, meeting new people across the globe, learning their culture and knowing about traditions that I have only read in books, will surely drive away all traces of isolation from my soul.




(Image Credits: http://whitenoise.gizmodo.com/, http://www.vectors4all.net, http://www.nothingbutpenguins.com, http://thenewinquiry.com, http://scary-wallpaper.blogspot.in)


This post is a part of #WhatTheBlack activity at BlogAdda.com

Blackistan

Black is the power, Black is the shade
Black will last, when the rest shall fade
Black is me, and black is you
Black is in old, black is in new
Black is freedom, and valor unfurled
Black ain't a word, Black is the World.

And with these thoughts in mind have I framed up my world, a country named Blackistan where I can be comfortably curled. A land of hopes and a state of dreams, a place where happiness crosses all realms. This is my list, a wish to be precise, when black comes embracing in my premise.

Five points you ask, and five points shall I tell, life would have been fun, if I had a wishing well.

1) Black Chocolate River

Can a country survive without water for long? Oh no no no, that would be so freaking wrong. But hey, here is a twist, what in place of water, chocolates exist? Yes, a dark chocolate river would flow through my land, gifting smiles and contentment like a magic wand. Hearts would wander in the tide, this black river would be my nation's pride.



Black  is delicious, black is lip smacking, this river would be the life, of every living being.

2) Black Taj Mahal

Since years so long have we heard its stories, fascinated by the tales and all the mysteries. Did Shah Jahan really plan to build, a black Taj Mahal, his desire left unfulfilled? Imagine its beauty flooded by the moon, on a cool silvery night when all eyes shall swoon. How I wish the Black Taj to adorn my land, a monument so phenomenal and magically grand.



Black is beauty, black is grace, the shining Black Taj, would illuminate earth and the space.

3) Black Hole

Wouldn't it be better if our lives could glitter, without any tension and all associated fritter. So here shall I wish for a good Black Hole, that would suck all evils from every weary soul, rejuvenating lives in the process, freeing people from every anxiety and stress. A celestial aura shall descend, absorbing the negativities from end to end.



Black is pure, black wouldn't deceive, taking away our miseries, black is positive.

4) Black Google

What about knowledge, what about fun, every world needs a glowing sun. Google would be the savior, the messiah of infotainment, but black in color, an all new statement. The white background, now replaced by black, all sorts of wisdom, to be on the right track. But why black you say, when white has its way? 'cause black has a splendor, and a majestic grandeur.



Black is the origin, black is divine, black is the universe, yours and mine. 

5) Black Flag

Too much of governance have we seen, politicians have left our country unclean. Scams and treachery have looted the land, now is the time to take our stand. A black flag to oppose all wrong politics, let's live our lives without wily tricks. Be responsible for ourselves, and our country, a land of peace wouldn't lead to black money. Walking hand in hand, a new world we frame, let them not play with us anymore, we are not a game.



Black is authority, black will rule, to bring back good time, black's the perfect tool.


(Image Credits - https://www.behance.net/, http://youtube.com/, http://abyss.uoregon.edu, http://www.computerforum.com, http://commons.wikimedia.org)




This post is a part of #WhatTheBlack activity at BlogAdda.com



Friday, July 25, 2014

Hidden In Patterns Of Simplicity

(Image Source: http://withrealtoads.blogspot.in/2014/07/words-count-with-mama-zen.html)


there are stories
hidden in patterns
of simplicity
of times gone by
before genes knew the word
'mutation'

beauty is in discovery
of a world, so old
and yet refreshingly new
to the traveler within

look through the hourglass
of the past ebbing away
the land will have them preserved
so that, someday
we can find our way




Be The Power



Perhaps, often, in lonely summer nights have I wondered, what if, only if, the choices I had made were governed not by plain instincts, but by sheer logic? What if a few words of wisdom had evoked my senses before it was too late, before I had taken the final step, blindfolded, not knowing that I was standing on the edge, and a fall was inevitable? Would life have been better if I only acted wiser?

True, we all make mistakes. True, we all learn from mistakes; but then again, don’t we all crave for a perfect guide, a perfect companion, someone who would advise us about the rights and wrongs of life, ‘cause even though we are all mature humans, we still fail to identify what’s good for us and what’s not when time decides to play hide and seek with us.

And to make my argument all the more simpler, don’t we all crave for a friend, who would be with us at all times, in all places?

Oh my dear smartphone, do you have the power to be the one, the candle, the burning lamp, throwing light on the roads that are often marred with lies and deceptions, holding my hands when I fall, patting my back when I rise again, and whispering words of strength when I walk among boulders?

You could ward away my loneliness, you know, talking with me at times, sharing what would be good for me and what not. You would, adorned with intelligence more real than artificial, embrace my soul like a real person would, cracking jokes when the chips are down, making me smile, making me laugh.

Whether one acknowledges it or not, but it’s a reality that the attention of people today is more focussed towards their mobile phones than towards their friends or family members. Games, social networking, and what not, a cell phone offers you everything, well, almost. In that respect, is it too much to ask for a super power that will make the phone understand human emotions, resulting in a much needed companionship based on sentiments?

I have hurt people in the past, in the process marring relationships that promised a lot. Why, oh why were you not adorned with the powers, my dear smartphone, to tell me not to cross the lines, and not to over step the threshold of anger? A calmer mind would have set many wrongs right? Why were you not there to hold on to my nerves, soothing my mood and eventually helping me to set things in motion?

Can you see the future? Definitely you could, but hey no, I am not asking you to tell me what all is going to happen with me tomorrow. Absolutely not. However, I do expect you to keep me away from the paths of evil, and take me across the lanes of righteousness and virtue.

I do expect, that when I fall in love, you would help me stay calm, and be sane, and make me strong and responsible enough to not fall out of it.

I do expect, that on nights like these, when the moon hides behind the clouds, you would be the silver lining in the horizon, listening to my complaints and woes, and then applying the much needed balm through your assuring words.

I do expect, that when the tides are high, you would be the perfect ‘zen’, encasing me with an aura of peace and serenity.

Oh my dear smartphone, be the power, and make the world glow in rays of hope and love. We have seen too much of wrong already. Now is the time to set things right.



This is my entry to '#IncredibleZEN' contest organized by Indiblogger in association with Asus-Zenfone.

Check out the official page below:



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Strings, Attached

(Image Credit: Kiyo Murakami)


would you mind holding on to the strings
till dusk gives way to dawn
sunshine is just around the corner
darkness, no longer shall we mourn

let tough times be memories
scribbled on pages of time
when we are attached by the strings of love
do we need a second reason to rhyme


This Poem is shared with Photo Challenge #18 - Strings Attached.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Three Little Bats



three little bats
hanging from the ceiling
in my bedroom

oh dear bats
do please come down
down down down

on an night like this
when summer blows hot kisses
let's turn on the fan


This Haiku is shared with Carpe Diem - Issa's Hot Night.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Any Writer Must Also Be A Re-Writer"

Kiran Khalap is an Indian writer and author. He co-founded Chlorophyll Brand Consulting. His travel writing is publishing in Man’s World. Kiran Khalap won the Indo-UK Asian Age short story competition in the year 1995. He has also authored the book Two Pronouns and a Verb.

'Halfway Up The Mountain' is the story of Maya, who hails from a village and belongs to a traditional family. Although she comes across as a simple girl, Maya fights adversities and many-a-heartbreak with conviction and an unassuming courage. The men in her life that she gets the closest to abandon her but she lives through all these trying times as an independent, free and successful human being. What strikes the most about her is the humane side and how she manages to live in a society which doesn't appreciate the integrity of single independent women. While unraveling the story of Maya, the author subtly brings out other elements like homosexuality, sexual politics, painting, poetry and music, and all this in an Indian context. Although we like the idea of a modern India, certain insensitive practices and mind-set still seem to prevail in our society and the book deals with them all in a brilliant story-telling elegance.


To read the full review of 'Halfway Up The Mountain', click here.





Congratulations Kiran for your novel ‘Halfway Up The Mountain’. It was a pleasure reading it, and as mentioned in my review, has all the ingredients to be labeled as a modern day classic. Knowing more about you, and the book would be an added bonus. In case you find any question offensive, you can skip it. I apologize in advance for such instances.


Tell us about yourself – your childhood and your family. 

When I was born (my father told me this story) my parents lived in one half of a 10 feet x10 feet room in Girgaon Mumbai: it was sunless, so he named me Kiran.

I had an enviably happy childhood. Even today, my school friends refer to my home as the Sanctuary of Happiness: my dad had a great sense of humour; my mom was great at cooking coastal food and homemade sweets.

My father was an auto-didact: he became one of the top commercial artists in India without the benefit of school, college or art school. He was my biggest influence, my closest friend.

I studied in a school Chembur, a suburb of Mumbai, then graduated in chemistry from SIES College Sion and then became a teacher in a J Krishnamurti school in Benaras: I was just 20 when I made this decision. 

J Krishnamurti was the second biggest influence in my life.

I taught in Rajghat Besant School, as it was known, for four years.  

As a housemaster, I also looked after students, who were barely five or six years younger to me:-) I taught everything I knew: calligraphy, judo, gymnastics, swimming, rock climbing, English grammar, science, quizzing...


Why and when did you decide to become a writer?

I did not decide to become a writer. 

Writing came as naturally to me as breathing. I think of this ability as ‘not mine’, I am a vehicle for this gift.

My non-fiction articles were published in newspapers and magazines even while I was in college.

But when I won the Indo-UK Asian Age Short Story competition in 1995, I realised that my fiction writing could also connect with readers (at least some of them!).

When I started my own consultancy, chlorophyll, in 1999, there was a sense of entrepreneurship and release...and along with that a need to do things I had left behind. I got back to rock climbing, one of my three passions, and started on Halfway Up the Mountain. 

Today I see the act of writing is an act of sharing.

‘Here is what I have experienced, here is what I have discovered as valuable for human beings, do you want to experience that same sense of liberation?’ 

That is what I want I want my books to say. 

I want to write about light, not about darkness. 

I want to write about the unchanging aspects of man, not about the changing.


How was the entire journey of ‘Halfway Up The Mountain’, right from the inception of the idea to the publication of the paperback?

It began with confusion, as would be the case for any first time writer. 

In 1999 the web wasn’t as rich as it is today, so my attempts to find a literary agent online were fruitless. 

Then my friend N Chandar referred me to Jayapriya Vasudevan, India’s first literary agent. 

She changed my life as an author. I call her ‘the most skilled literary obstetrician’! and joke that she has no other organs in her body except a giant heart! She is passionate about everything she does. 

She liked the book so much she said, “Kiran I want to publish it myself.”

That’s how her firm, Jacaranda, published it first in 2003 in India. I was glad that the launch was done by one of India’s finest writers, the late Arun Kolatkar, who was my father’s hero.

Then in 2005, Marion Boyars, publishers of the famous Ken Kesey book ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, published it in UK and US.

I visited those countries and read from my book: it was a different experience, being interviewed on BBC and ITV New York; explaining concepts of advaita; answering extremely knowledgeable audiences.

Later I also read from the book in Beijing and Singapore, encouraged (and hosted) as usual by Jayapriya Vasudevan.


‘Halfway Up The Mountain’ narrates the life of a woman in the society. What influenced you to take up this topic as the plot of your novel?

My mother used to fall ill intermittently in Mumbai, so our family worked out an arrangement: my female cousins, whose families were in villages, would stay with us to help her with the housework and in the bargain get educated in good schools. 

I used to wonder what happened to them when they returned to the village.

And conversely, what would happen to them if they stayed on? 

Then I learnt the concept of ecological refugees: human beings who had to leave because their own villages and cities could not sustain them. That is how the character of Maya was born.

Since the novel is set between 1936 and 1979, it had to reflect the big shifts in the life of the nation along with Maya’s: India being born; Maharashtra being born; Indian artists going abroad to learn the Western narratives of art and so on. 

So Maya has to bear the brunt of casteist and patriarchal attitudes from those years; though I assume some women even today suffer the ignominy of being treated as chattel.

In Benaras, I had learnt the Atmashatakam by Adi Shankaracharya, and I thought, the very idea of a shloka flowering within a girl as she turns into a woman was unique.


What are your other published works, and what projects are you currently working upon?

My second novel ‘Two Pronouns and a Verb’ (which translates as ‘I love you’ ‘She hates him’ or ‘Who am I?”) was published by Amaryllis in 2012. 

Here I have used ayurveda as a leit motif. Ayurveda says there are three key psychosomatic constitutions, and these affect the way each individual perceives reality. So I thought of three friends, representing three constitutions, interpreting the same reality differently.

I got some heart-warming responses to the book: they are all on www.kirankhalap.com

My third book is ‘Black River Run’: I haven’t finished it yet. Black River refers to the tar road; so the protagonist is a taxi driver, who is influenced by Swami Samarth Ramdas, probably the only human being representing evolution at all three levels: body, mind and spirit.

So Buva, the protagonist, attempts to live like him, but his passengers and his neighbours create circumstances that trap him.


When you are not writing, how do you spend your time?

My day job is a brand consultant; my night job is writing; my weekend job is hiking or rock climbing:-) 


Who are your role models in life?

My only role model is my father: he created his life with what he had; he never complained about circumstances. He was cracking jokes with me even when he lay on death bed, paralysed by Parkinson’s. 

I also have great respect for Babasaheb Ambedkar, whose achievements transcended his life circumstances. 


Had you not been a writer, what would you have been?

Travel writer-cum-photographer-cum-rock climber. Take one large van to live in, two dogs, two cats (one wife if she wants to join in:-)), go to exotic rock climbing destinations, shoot photographs, write about them. (I have written quite a few travel articles of Man’s World magazine).


What would be your message to the aspiring writers?

My identity is not linked to what I do, so inside my head, I am just a human being attempting to reach the next level of evolution, not a writer. 

But the one lesson I know is true for reaching excellence in any activity is practice. 

I had the privilege of having the great painter FN Souza in my home during his last Christmas, and he said, “Kiran, I can no longer draw badly, because drawing is part of my metabolism”. 

My dad filled sketch book after sketch book till he achieved his excellence.

Any writer must also be re-writer. 

Rewrite till the words have the exact sharpness and economy of meaning you want. 


What would you like to say to your readers?

My love and gratitude to you for joining me in this pilgrimage.


Thanks a lot Kiran for your valuable time. Wishing you all the best for your current and future endeavours.



Monday, July 21, 2014

A Zest-Filled Life

Life isn’t meant to be fun all the times. There would be time when one would feel down, low and dejected, frustrated with the monotonicity all around. How can one overcome these and get back his moments of shine?

Do what makes you happy, not for others, but for your own self, ‘cause life is short. Why not pass it with a sprinkling of zest?

I too face tough times, like anyone else, which is quite normal. However, I have learnt to stay positive, trying to revive the energy in one way or the other. If I have to list down five factors that add zest to my life, well, they would be as follows:

1) TRAVEL
What better way to unwind than to explore places? Yes, I love to travel, and travel a lot. Mountains or beaches, islands or valleys, anything, just anything would do to quench my thirst of adventure. It’s always a pleasure to learn about the cultures of other places, the process resulting in self-discovery.

2) DANCE
I am not a versatile dancer, and to be honest, I am blessed with two left feet. But dancing and swinging to groovy beats does give me a high. Dance has the tendency to make you forget about all your tensions, and fills you with positive energy. At least, that’s the case with me.

3) FAMILY
Staying away from family does add in me the anticipation to meet them. However, due to hectic work schedule, regular meeting isn’t possible. Counting days, and realizing that the time when I will again meet my family is nearing adds a renewed zest in me. This is one important factor that keeps me going, guiding me through across all the ups and downs of life.

4) RUN
As the heartbeat quickens, and the muscles move in sync, I feel free. Running has been an escape route for me from all the negativities of life. Jogging on early mornings and evenings (on weekends) keep my mind focused, and helps me stay rejuvenated.

5) FRIDAY
Unfortunately, this comes just four days a month, but then again, good things are rare. Fridays are like a whiff of fresh air, fragrant and blooming. While Mondays give me blues, Fridays fill my life with colors and hues. Fridays surely are a blessing of the Gods. I have no clue how I, or everyone else, could have coped up with their lives without Fridays.


This post is a part of the #ZestUpYourLife activity in association with TATA Zest and BlogAdda.com




A Few Rays Of Love

a few rays of love
drench this war infested land
I shall be content


This Haiku is shared with



Sunday, July 20, 2014

High 'Five' Zest

Tucked in my bed, welcoming the monsoon with a steaming cup of coffee and a riveting novel, as the clock silently strikes 12, the moon seeping in through my room … yes, that is zest for me. Reading has always given me the pleasure of exploring a new world, unearthing mysteries that are born in the pages of the authors’ imaginations. The best healer, the best lover, and the best friend, books certainly rate high in my world.

Thankfully, organizations nowadays have come up with several activities that keep their employees feeling happy and refreshed, and helps them to relieve their stress caused due to incessant work load. One of the games that I am involved in is Table Tennis. What can I say about it, friends? A round of Table Tennis, and it surely gives me a boost. A winning run, no doubt, heightens the feeling.

The world is adorned in paints. Don’t we all marvel at the sight of a rainbow decorating the horizon? Thankfully, I am blessed with this love of colors. A fluent brush strokes on my canvas, smeared in hues red, blue and yellow, and tinges of red and green, and time stops still. Passion can, at times, not be defined by words, but with these magical shades.

And like most guys, I do love my PS3 (Play Station). Challenging my brother in games such as Counter Strike and FIFA is fun. The contest is evenly matched, with each of us winning almost equal number of games, and that’s what makes this all the more thrilling. The day ends with plans to get hold of a new game, for the upcoming weekend, the battle planned well ahead in our minds, the strategies flowing in the nerves of we hardcore gamers. Yes, exhilarating truly.

I make it a point to keep an hour daily for myself, and my time with God. Closing my eyes, sitting in the puja room, with the divine scent of incense sticks, my mind experiences an altogether different sensation of zest. I feel calm, and at the same time, energetic, feeling all my worries seep away in the embrace of the almighty. Prayers are a vital part of my daily activity, keeping my optimism, and zest alive, and running.


This post is a part of the #ZestUpYourLife activity in association with TATA Zest and BlogAdda.com