Starry Nights?

For the past three-four months, I have been staying in a newly developed area of Bangalore. And during this period, I have not seen a single star. Sounds too dramatic? Something that is said just for effects? But this is true.

Actually I, too, had not noticed this. Then a few weeks ago, a message made rounds on the social media, ‘Tonight, the moon and its star,Alfa touri or Alde baran (locally, we call it Star Rohini) would be closest possible to each other. So don’t forget to see this.’ At night, I watched the sky curiously; I did see the moon, but no sign of Alfa tauri. Then my son pointed out, haven’t you realized it, no stars are seen, at least not in this part of the city sky.

Well, that was true. I tried to keep a watch and see if any stars are seen. I couldn’t find a single. The sky could be cloudy sometimes or may be hazy on few other days, but for all four months?!

This is what the air pollution and smog are doing to our skies. I know this is a little bit of deviation from out topic of #DarknessForStars and light pollution. But even when there is darkness (due to frequent power failures), the sky still remains bleak, dull gray — and blank, totally devoid of any specks of twinkling light.

Agreed, there is an excess of bright light around, especially in the cities. Added to that, every person is attracted, like pins to a magnet, to various ‘enlightened’ screens — be it a mobile, a computer screen or a television screen. So majority of the population has neither time nor inclination to have a look outside to find out what is there in our surroundings, leave alone bother about the far off skies.

Even when people step outside, there are innumerable glittering things around to arrest their attention; so star-gazing is a thing of past. (Or may be it has acquired a new meaning in the new world of metropolises).

So along with the light pollution caused by numerous bright lights, neon signs reflecting to create a sky-glow, we also have to consider the curtain of air pollution / smog that seems to have swallowed up our shiny friends up there. It appears that we have created an additional layer of atmosphere that has blotted out the glittering specks in the sky. The new-age tiny-tots wouldn’t even know the meaning of their nursery rhyme ‘Twinkle twinkle little star….’

 

This post is written in response to IndiSpire Edition 164: #DarknessForStars

[Despite the light around us in cities, we cannot see the most beautiful wonders of all- A glittered night sky. What are your views on light pollution, and memories of those wonderful starry nights? #DarknessForStars ]

Out Of My Comfort Zone….

I had never imagined that I would take up an office job — that too, after being only a home-maker for twenty eight long years.

It was not a conscious decision just to break away from the comfort zone. But it definitely was a big step, because it is not easy to take up a 9 to 5 job after spending 28 years in the confines of the four walls.

Someone informed about a vacancy in a science academic institute, and I thought of giving it a try. Almost all the family responsibilities were fulfilled by then, so why not? Of course, only my decision did not count here. I had already crossed 50, so any employer would have thought twice (or more) before appointing someone nearing retirement age. Luckily, they too did not have any issue with a 50+ worker.

Thus started a new phase of my life — balancing household work with an eight hour job. It surely wasn’t easy. The house-work, purchasing daily requirements etc., which earlier I could comfortably spread over a span of 8 to 10 hours, now I had to cramp it all within one and a half hour in the morning and 2 – 3 hours in the evening. This, while managing a demanding job in the 8 – 9 hours in between.

Along with the time crunch, the other major hurdle was commuting in Mumbai’s notoriously crowded local trains and buses, at the peak rush hours. It was difficult, however, I did manage, not for just days or weeks, but for four years.

The job itself wasn’t a cake-walk; it would have been foolish to expect it to be so. Though I had a masters degree in science, I had never put it to academic use. It was not just brushing up my knowledge, but also to learn many things anew. New type of work, new people and to learn and adjust to all this new environment — each thing was a challenge.

At 52, I was the oldest among all (including the employers), yet I was well-accepted by all; but still, there was quite some resistance and feeling of rivalry from a few whose work profile was similar to mine. Some even tried to create trouble for me. But things changed and later we all became so friendly that now years after me quitting the job, they are still in touch with me.

All in all, it was a great experience. I learnt a lot, I enjoyed even more. Most important, this experience helped boost my self esteem.

I would have missed out on all this, had I not taken the risk of stepping out of my comfort zone.

 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

A Welcome Change!

The other day I was at the billing counter of the local horticulture shop, when someone rushed ahead with, “Hey brother, give me one packet of ….”

I gave a typical ‘irritated old woman’ look and the stocky, bespectacled youth returned an apologetic smile, “You see, I had finished my purchases and left the shop, but then I remembered ginger-garlic paste….” I moved aside and he bought his spices. Continue reading

In Search of ‘Roots’.

Generally the books that keep you riveted to their pages are — the suspense thrillers. At least, I find the mystery thrillers un-put-downable. But I guess the suspense thrillers are meant to be compulsive page-turners and so, it is no wonder that all these books make a great read.

Truly speaking, I generally remain loyal to my pet genre, not deviating from it towards any other type. But quite a few years ago, someone gifted me ‘Roots’ by Alex Haley.

Just because the book was with me and at that time there was nothing else worth reading, so I thought of giving it a try — and within not time I got hooked to it.

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Alex Haley was an American journalist – writer. This book is his research about his family history and his search for his roots which took him to the deep jungles of Africa. This is a saga of how African tribesmen were captured and transported under inhuman conditions to America and sold there as slaves.

One of these was Kunta Kinte (from Gambia), the author’s ancestor, who landed at Annapolis and led a life of a slave on plantations. The story unravels the trials and tribulations of him and his next generations. At times you feel that you cannot go any further and yet, you cannot take your eyes off the book.

This book proved my belief  wrong, that only suspense thrillers make a compulsive read. (Later this book was make into a very successful television mini-series)

There were some controversies about the authenticity of Haley’s claim. (Later the author conceded that it was ‘fusion of facts and fiction’) However, here I have commented on the book only as a reading material — irrespective of whether it is fact or fiction; history or genealogy. And in my opinion, it is an un-put-downable read.

 

(Written in response to IndiSpire Edition #157 at Indiblogger)

Against the Odds!

One can find anything and everything in the city of Mumbai — except space. And so, a small balcony of the apartment becomes a mini-garden. But during the April of 2016 we suddenly had to lock our house and go away for more than 15 – 20 days. The months of April, May and June are the hottest months in the tropical country and it is not possible for any plant to survive long without water. However, there was no other way out.

We had a fair idea of what to expect and just as we had dreaded, on our return, we found the green patch in our balcony all dried and dead. One of the prominent among these plants was a Hibiscus or Shoe flower plant, which had given us many such ruby red, jewel toned flowers. During its blossoming season, everyday the plant would be adorned with at least 8-10 such flowers. So naturally we were sad to loose this particular plant.20151214_081833-01

Somehow, we just didn’t feel like throwing away the dried brown stem and thought of giving it a chance. We cut off the dead branches and only the stump remained. My husband had read it somewhere that moisture can be trapped if the cut off stem is covered with polythene. We did that and continued watering the pot through the heat of May.

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The moisture was indeed getting trapped as we could see on the insides of the polythene. But there was no other sign of survival. We had lost all hopes but still continued watering it.

By June, it was two months since the plant had dried up, so no chance of any revival. Then by mid June, the monsoon arrived in a full force. And we heaved a sigh of relief – as we detected a slight speck of green on one of the lower dried up branch.

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Slowly, very very slowly the green dots started taking the shape of tiny leaves. The entire process, from its dried up state to the appearance of the green specks, was painfully gradual. But the resilient plant did return from dead!

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I do am aware that here the picture quality is not perfect for a Photo Challenge. (At the time, the pictures were clicked only to record the process and progress). However, these pictures tell a story of ……….. A Survival — Against the Odds!

 

Linking this post to the Weekly Photo Challenge : Against the Odds!

 

 

Need Of The Day – Relax.

Relax – the word brings to mind many images; something calm, serene, something that conveys peace.

No two opinions about the fact that, of late, the world as a whole has turned into a great roller coaster ride. With too much of competition in every walk of life, in every field imaginable, each person is busy running a mad rat-race — and trying to be the fastest of them all.

The result, as expected, is tremendous stress. And that is when one needs stress-busters and means of relaxation. Continue reading