Saturday, October 27, 2018

Setting - An important element of Creative Writing


Storytelling is one of the great form of expression of thoughts and ideas. From the ancient days, we all have been practicing sharing anecdotes with our friends and families. There is interesting exchange of anecdotes in informal or formal setting which always excites and charms the listener. It is said that humor added in our story shakes the indifferent from the stupor. So everyone adds their own uniqueness in every tale they share. The foremost element that captures attention in addition to the elements that we are going to read further is our own charm or uniqueness of story-telling. Same applies to Story-writing. A well-defined or written story should have necessary elements which will entice the reader to go further and shove it away. Every element is unique in creative writing. Each holds a significance that will highlight the stories and make it complete.

To mention, story-writing, as a whole, has elements namely plot, character, setting, conflict, resolution and theme. The six elements come together to create a promising story. But it has often left me to ponder that which one is very crucial and which will take the story ahead. Without which the reader will miss the major part in the story. And that thought made me study further on this subject and that led me to write this article.

How significant is ‘Setting as an element’?

Travel is cathartic

Travel is liberating. It is a great escape from the routine life and mundane tasks. What is life without some amount of travel at regular intervals? Travel gives a chance to explore our child as well as wild side. It liberates, cleanses our soul and give us new enthusiasm to take on life ahead. And that is how we look at the element ‘Setting’. It is often a delightful element to write as well as read.

We all are Nomads by heart.

Place plays an important role in a story. Historically we have been nomads and that part of us is very much alive even now and always it shall be. We have the insatiable wander-lust which raises its curious head most of the times. Be it an escape from the mundane life or going for an adventure ride or to discover oneself, we all want to discover new places and weave new stories through them. We don’t hesitate to take the road less travelled and create a new story out of them. Making our journey to remember through penning down its uniqueness, is what most of us want to do.

We bring in that quality in our reading too. We always look for the places mentioned in the books and that which protagonist travels and spends their time in. The place which technically called as ‘Setting’ is thus weaved in a manner that will entice and enrich the imagination of a reader.

We put ourselves in the place we write

Every person writes and describes the place through their own lenses. The place holds a personality of a writer and it totally exhibits the uniqueness of that writer. May it be a beach, any hill side destination, or a garden, the writer puts himself in the location he is choosing to write on. So Setting gives a chance to put oneself on print.

Because we cannot travel always

Travel is not something we can do always. We have our work-life, deadlines, school pressures, household chores to look after, pay bills and the list never ends. Though it is always looked up as delightful escape from the slew of chores and activities mentioned, we cannot do it every now and then. For some it is always categorized as luxury or privilege and not a necessary item. In that case, reading put all our worries to rest. It cures our temptation to travel in a subtle way. We follow the sights the writer has explored, the culture that he/she comes across on his travel and those verdant or fetching landscapes. All through the ‘description of setting’. All through the sight transformed to words of the writer. Not able to travel always is balanced out by reading a nice book full of engaging descriptions of places.

Setting as a first element

We all watch movies. Even the visual communication aims to put setting as a first segment in the story. Some of the best movies start with describing the location without any dialogue. The simple image of birds chirping with the warmth of the sun blanketing the village or a busy urban life shown with sea of humanity walking without meeting each other’s eyes, or an airport scene with chaos. Many movies brim with the element of setting coming first in the order. It cannot always mean the geography or contours of the story but also means much more than what one can imagine. “One shouldn’t appeal for attention, your performance should command it.” As the saying goes, Setting never appeals for attention from the reader or viewer but its description will always turn the reader to come hunting for it. Thereby engaging him/her with the story it will take ahead. The curiosity in the cat gets never killed by the setting but the imagery used in it will always make the reader wanting more.

At the outset, Setting is very important in creative writing. It is the time and place where a scene occurs. It can help set the right tone, influence the behavioral pattern of the characters, time-travel, visualize the scene, and set an emotion to the story. A lovely setting shown on the cover page always makes a reader pick up the book immediately. It is like many tools packed on a beautiful case. The other elements are packed and neatly enclosed with the lovely case called setting.



Friday, October 12, 2018

The Yellow Chrysanthemums


On a silver shady night, when on a road
So many thoughts flooded my mind
The visage of the snowy ball that was on board
Winked at me sitting far away in the heaven’s abode

I stayed unmoved and untouched

The memories swept over me,  
Swirling wind brought the sudden rain
Clambering all the way down from the clouds
With a determined promise though
To heal the hot soil and remove its pain

I stayed unmoved and untouched

Rains in November, I could not fathom
Even when it brought lovely outcomes
Playing with the paperboats, the merry hearted children
Pushed and pulled each other in the downpour
Ripples in the water shone in the white light
Like the summer of good memories in the darkest night

I stayed unmoved and untouched
  
Awashed with water, the path smelled freshness
The trail of lights snaking their way in the inky darkness
Everything felt calm in my senses
Until you came with your traces
Became heavy the air, the lush green filled by yellow
Breathing your soul into me, you had me mellowed
No more dry my eyes were, my neck craned at the view
The verdant landscape did not touch me, only you do

The weight of responsibility thrust on me
To swallow the bitter pill of my past
With the matrimony that left me with a wound
And landed me like a photo on a wall, lonely and downcast

All of these you brought me, then and there
I accepted life was uncertain and not fair

Now I assertively say that my life is not bare

Kissing the sky. Racing sun moved towards the thicket of dark
Occupying each tree and shoots, walking with shoulders square
Playing new music and signaling new day
Your yellow hands beckon, I born again in your each wave




A Strap That Stripped My Struggle And Taught Me Life Lessons


The recent trip to lingerie shop gave me a much needed insight towards life. Yes you heard it right. Lingerie shop!

So here the saga goes,

I have always had been in search of good bras which could give me a correct fit and comfort. And I found it really hard to get one. It was like discovering oneself or to an answer to much sought after question “Does god exists?” The argument is still on. So is the search for truth. The truth here being “Is there any correct fit for my cleavage? Can they ever feel home? I will tell you my encounter with the varied set of bras. Some act like they follow strict guidelines but the minute I get busy hanging out with my schedule, they let my cleavage leap out providing it a freedom. Putting their hashtag ‘breakfree’. Some don’t have strong support system and putting the straps at place becomes another routine work like keeping the tucked hair at place or like the parents of brattish children. They don’t listen to you yet you yell at them. And some gives you that level of comfort where you yearn for freedom from them more than them looking out for one. They are the ones who keep my cleavage very close to my heart. Yes, Literally!

Nowadays, variety in the bra fraternity is similar to the poor alphabet A which stands for so many things. A stands for Artist, Ambedkar, Amritsar, Arjun from Mahabharat and so on. Let me tell you my daughter’s first words book’s saga. Introducing Alligator to a 2 year old toddler, can anyone beat that? A which stood elated with the position as first alphabet is now shedding tears and is feeling helpless. What happened to that fruit which kindled passion between Adam and Eve? What happened to that fruit which has a beautiful red skin all over it with a juicy interior inside? What happened to the humble fruit which enjoyed the status as label for the letter A and played in the innocent mouths of toddlers. That making it sweetest in the category of fruits. A can be nothing but Apple. There is no replacement for Apple. They are entwined with each other for eternity. A and Apple are the couple who enjoy marital bliss forever. Likewise I am in search for that ‘A’ for my Apple in the middle of thousands of options available in bra domain. The one which will keep mine stay in equilibrium and be blissfully married to my cleavage.

Coming face to face with the level of comfort teaches you many things. To name few, it helps you reflect on your struggles which you faced, before you discovered the comfort, giving your life a meaning or a bigger purpose. The comfort that I yearned and the thirst for that comfort was quenched with the right bra. In other words, nobody wants to be stuck in a relationship that is not making them happy, be it a bra or our personal relationship with people or anything in this universe.

Comfort, for many, gets translated into luxury. This is a word which is misconstrued for ages and have taken a form which is completely different from its self. According to yours truly, comfort has two levels which is basic and luxurious. My tryst with the right bra gets a place in basic comfort box. So what are we doing to achieve the level of basic comfort? Why do we put aside the goal in achieving that and toil to stay in the struggle zone forever. It is our foolishness to stay inert at many times and not aim for the comfortable zone. We may remain calm but our hearts will never be at peace. The struggle sometimes captivates us and after a point of time we forget that we ever tried to achieve the comfort.

Why keep on sulking if heaven is at the end of the tunnel? Its you who have to pass through sticky and sickly green snatches in the recess of the tunnel and reach out to the light at the end of it. So go on, step into the right shoes and walk to the path of comfort. Comfort is for one who aims to achieve it. I can understand that every person has a different definition of basic comfort and I am not denying that. But having known what would satisfy your need and pacify your wretched nerves, it is time we make that decision to smoothen the wrinkles on our path and be at peace with achieved comfort. And I am sure every person with their focused effort, can make their A meet the Apple, regardless of the size of the struggle. Like I did mine. Pun intended.

I wish to quote the words of the acclaimed author ‘Mark Manson’ from his book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*&k’, “Nobody else is ever responsible for your situation but you. Many people may be to blame for your unhappiness, but nobody is ever responsible for your unhappiness but you. This is because you always get to choose how you see things, how you react to things, how you value things. You always get to choose the metric by which to measure your experiences.”




Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The History of Mathematics - Book Review


Maths has always been a hot topic in my household. South-Indian, you see. It is an indispensable part of our life right from the beginning. If Swaraj is the birth-right that Lokmanya Tilak was so fond of, Maths is the birth right of every South-Indian family. If you cannot score centum in Maths means there is some serious mistake in your genetics. Hence, the fact that you need to be a pro in Maths glared so bright that it blinded our vision. If you wanted to move ahead without faltering, you had no choice but to ace the subject.  There is a saying ‘we can hate it but cannot ignore it’. I can see you nodding at this and that is what exactly Maths is all about. The subject is everywhere and you cannot ignore. Right from our accounts, daily grocery shopping, maintaining bills and so many other sundry things, it highlights its glorious visage left, right and center.
I can still hear my mother scream,” Does your one cup rice have 3 cups of water?”, when I was shutting the lid of my pressure cooker. I shuddered with fear. “Oh heavens, Maths cannot stop interfering in my life. It has entered in my kitchen too”, I went on sotto voce.
When did Mathematics take birth? What was the genesis of it? How did it spread across so many civilizations and what was the contribution of each civilization to the rise in the knowledge of this subject? How many of us have tried to find out the answers? Curiosity brought me to Archana Sarat’s “The History of Mathematics” which covers variety of aspects that one wants to know about its origin.
‘The History of Mathematics’ comprises of 26 tales that marks the origin of parts of Mathematics. The author has skillfully crafted the tale surrounding the history and facts through proper research. The book undoubtedly shows that the subject is very close to author’s heart.
Sharing some snippet of the stories I liked from the book:
I liked the story of ‘Tally Marks’ very much. I have often wondered why this horizontal line is drawn across the 4 vertical lines. Tally marks help save time and east out the process of counting. The story narrows the minutest detail of its origin and how the fifth line cuts through making it look like a barred gate.  That’s a brilliant way to put it and teach the children without getting into the point of confusion.
I felt the story ‘Much ado about nothing’ found it quite interesting. It gives an idea about how civilizations were open minded about sharing and accepting the new knowledge that they came across. There was a great amount of sharing new ideas between civilizations like Indus, Mesopotamia, China and India in terms of Mathematics to broaden their horizons and make the life easier than it was. 
The story that I felt little bit exaggerated is Akkad feels cold. As compared to the other stories which flow very naturally, this one offers more fictional air. Nevertheless, it tickles our funny bones by the way the tale is told.
The excerpt I found amusing:
“They don’t know that I have adjusted the strings of my lyre to follow mathematical proportions. It will be too hard for them to accept my explanation that music and mathematics go together. I believe that only mathematics and music can purify one’s soul.”
Music and Mathematics go together. Every harmony that string produces is a work of mathematics and the above lines expressed by one of the finest mathematicians vouch for that.

 The History of Mathematics’ will make you come to it again and again and take in the sweet essence of it. This book is not only for adults but it can also be read and understood by children. It can make an excellent book-club selection as it has the ability to draw deep discussions, bring on more ideas, assimilate them and even regale the tales within. It will also serve as a wonderful collection for teachers to keep in their class library.
You do not need to be a Mathematical genius or a subject matter expert to read this book, as Archana says “you are already a Mathematician”.
Having read author’s previous book ‘Birds of Prey’, which was completely a different genre based on psychological thriller, I picked up this book the minute I set my eyes on it. I love Archana’s way of storytelling as she completely brings life-like images of a particular scene to the reader’s eyes. The story revolves around many civilizations which contributed significantly in expanding the breadth of Mathematics. Our very own Indian civilization has been a pioneer in many mathematical concepts and helped Arabs and the western countries to adapt those concepts. My chest swells with pride having known that so many Mathematicians and Astronomers originated from India but at the same time I feel bad knowing some of them leaned on to the religious beliefs and fabricated the concepts keeping in mind the interests of society.
If you love Mathematics and want to know how its concepts came into existence, with brilliant stories giving a background of each concept, rush to a nearest store and pick Archana Sarat’s ‘The History of Mathematics’. Great content with beautiful expression of thoughts will surely delight you.







Friday, September 15, 2017

Mindfulness - All you want to know

Mindfulness. The word has made a buzz recently because of ever increasing stress on her lives. The busy days, deadlines, meetings, college exams, school projects, extra-curricular classes and what not. The list is endless. The common factor which unites these things enlisted is none other than time. Time is a greatest equalizer and we cannot hold back even one second out of the 24 hours. So where is the time to include mindfulness? Can it exist in our schedule? How does it fit? Time to think, ponder, internalize and put into action.

That day when my trainer said something which came as a shock to some and surprise to many. The idea of 50 suryanamaskars was standing huge and tall in front of me. It was like a mountain to be conquered. But I thought that as a challenge and accepted it with full might. The day came and we all were looking at each other, smiling, chitter chattering, and giggling among ourselves. Everyone was wondering whether it would be easy or we will leave it right in the middle. But after the warm up, when we started our prayer to commence our task of getting to 50. My mind became one with my body. I brought all my senses together and started to focus on first Suryanamskar. I breathed with every move. And I saw that my body became one with my mind. The heaviness of other 49 got lifted from my shoulders and the thought of one at a time overpowered my senses. I achieved even the 49 suryanamaskars with ease as if I have started the first one. 

The idea of one at a time with all my mind into it excited me. This is what mindfulness is to me. Why should we give so much importance to other 49 if we are starting off with 1? 49 is the mental load that we carry which is helpful enough to increase the stress and build the pressure so don’t bother about it. Think each number as 1 till you get to that number 49. In other words, think each work as this is the one thing which you have to do it now, at this point in time. Put your heart fully into it. Engage yourself in every minute detail of the work. And finish that task efficiently. Slowly you will see the dramatic surge in your productivity and efficiency. Then move on to another task. This will not only get you to finish the task but also you will do it without stress. Anything without stress will always give you satisfaction and that task will be looked at as remarkable achievement.

Mindfulness is nothing but one work at a time minus stress and more of focused thought. This will not only help in your schedule management, work management, and meeting every deadline or striking all the points in your bullet journal but it will help you lead a healthy lifestyle or holistic lifestyle in other words. Your mental health as well as professional health will automatically gain more brownie points.

Mindfulness is the art of embracing the moment and enjoying it wholeheartedly. Our lives are full of tensions and stress which we carry throughout the day and most of the worries are caused by mindlessness. We often forget about pausing the moment, staying in it totally, breathe freely with the task and finish it thoroughly keeping all the minute details into account. By multitasking we just do all the work and take pride in it but often the nitty gritty of the work is left unseen. This is seen in maximum moms be it office going moms or stay at home moms.

Motherhood is beautiful journey but it is surrounded with lot of expectations, responsibilities, judgements, guilt and accountability towards your kids all the time. Being a center point for all these factors often leaves you exhausted, frustrated, vulnerable and further leading to mindlessness. We can try to avoid that by being more alert, more focused and getting things done in our way. Moms are always judged by how they treat or carry themselves. If one is giving some time to their looks or wellness, they are often misjudged as selfish, being more concerned to ones looks or prioritizing self vis a vis the children. This thought is being ingrained in our system and tradition so it takes a village of strongminded women to set it right. So it is not at all bad or wrong to give importance to one’s looks and body as if you look good and feel good, you will be more confident and confidence will help you achieve better, enhance the connection with your babies, improve mood and face each day with a broad smile.


 Also take ‘me time’ often which is the time you give to yourself. It can be 10 minutes of listening to your favorite song, reading books, playing a musical instrument, painting, going for a walk in the garden, socializing with your neighbor or just speaking to your friend. Get your shoes on and walk the path of ‘me time’ every day and see the difference you give to your life. It will only improve the mindfulness and awareness to the everyday situations as they are and your response to it.  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Coorg Diaries


Coorg historically known as Kodagu is a place to be definitely placed in the “To travel” list. It is a beautiful place with magical setting situated on top of the hills. The view is breathtaking at all levels. This is one of the alluring place and I am sure it will leave you speechless with its cool climes, historical significance such as ancient monasteries (Tibetan and Buddhist) and the fetching views of valleys. Coorg is 3 hour drive from Mangalore, Print capital of India. It is approximately 145 kms from Mangalore whereas 100 kms from Mysore. Mysore is the closest railway station and you can club the trip visiting most popular Mysore palace and Ooty. While it is run of the mill for the local folks out there, it was exotic for us. One cannot bring the view and experience in one’s camera but one has to truly be in that situation to embrace the magical delight that a place offers. Definitely a no frill village reveling in the basics, but it offered us an exquisite artistic beauty to our thirsty eyes.

Our Stay – Hotel Le Coorg in Madikeri ( Mercara in English)

Hotel Le Coorg nestles in the foothills of Coorg and stands tall with its modern setting amidst the blanket of nature. The rooms are very well maintained. The building is well planned and serves as a delight to stay with your family. The breakfast here is well thought and prepared with keeping everyone’s interest in mind. To say the menu and the spread is diverse and suitable for north and south food lovers as it is designed keeping both the tastes in mind. The staff is very courteous and goes out of the way to bring you the best. The welcome kit has fruits mainly bananas and pear. You are offered a cup of hot coffee once you land there. The level of hospitality offered by each and everyone here is truly a customer delight in every sense.

Places we saw

1.       Raja Seat

This is located near our Hotel and served as a delight for the days we stayed there. The name Raja seat comes from a story which dates back to centuries and centuries ago. The kings used to take their queens out to this significant place to relax and spend their time with each other. The monsoon adds to the already delicious flavor as the valley is shrouded by fine mists and the rolling clouds take over the green hills. The heaven itself is descended and place its shine on the valley it seems. The lovely sunset view is the most promising view and crowds throng in the evening to get a taste of it. The garden overlooking the valley, huge lawns, the places to click pictures and pose are some ingredients which make this recipe of Raja Seat worth grabbing a bite.

2.       Thalacauvery

Thalacauvery or the birth place of river Cauvery was some 35 kms odd from our hotel. We hired a rickshaw to take us to this place which is 8 kms from Bhagmandala. The small pond which has the Cauvery river water is eneveloped by huge building structure with flight of stairs taking us to the temple. The small temple is placed right in front of the pond and worshippers offer flowers, take blessings, do some puja and sprinkle the holy water on their heads. The weather was lovely. Sun was slighted by the wintry climate but the rays were making their presence felt on us.

3.       Bhagamandala

Bhagamdala is the place where Triveni Sangam( the unison of three rivers namely Kannike, Cauvery and Sujoti) is. The point of confluence is magical and as per the information from local folks, one of the river water is underground and the mouth of that source is unknown. It is called as Gupt Gamini due to its mysterious presence. The temple situated in front of this sangam is Bhagandeshwara. The lord shiva is celebrated and worshipped and the place looks like its dates back to eons ago as the structure of the buildinh, setting and the atmosphere looked very traditional.

4.       Abbeys Falls
      Abbeys falls is the major waterfall and stands tall in the list of important places to see in Coorg. It was raining cats and dogs when we reached this place. It was beautiful and a great deal of excitement surged among us when we had to take a flight of stairs (Huge block of stairs to say) to get close to the falls. It was flooded with people clicking selfies, pictures and videos of the falls. Local folks told that the water from the falls are not conducive to get drenched or wet or bathe as there were many fatal incidents occurred earlier. In William Wordsworth’s words “When water rolls out from the mountain springs, there comes a sweet inland murmur.”  He adds, landscape gets connected with the quiet of the sky. This will not be termed as meddling or an interference but a synergy of two things that multiplies the natural effect in a bigger scale.


5.       Madikeri Fort
The fort is situated on the hills and has a unique structure.  It was founded by Mudduraja in some 17th century as per the local folks. The fort houses a beautiful palace .The Madikeri museum was built right next to it but it was closed that day so we couldn’t get to see the artistic renditions of the artists located in Kodagu.

6.       Omkareshwara Temple

This temple is 2 kms from our hotel. We chose to take a walk to the destination but that was a wrong call. The temple is situated pretty downhill and the path is very steep so you need lot of patience and stamina to engage in the walk. Nonetheless, the temple is very pretty with its presence in the locality close to nature. The pond encircling the river renders a sight that you would want to carry home. The golden doors, the lovely structure of the temple will pull you towards it at least couple of times during your stay. The advantage of walking to this place is you can watch those beautiful houses coming on your way. The huge bungalow sized houses with its quaint feel and setting will serve as an escape from busy urban life.

7.       Raja Tomb

As the name goes, there are three tombs built in this place. A beautiful well planned and maintained garden overlooks the tomb giving it a palatial view. It is some 15 mins from Raja Seat and was very close to our hotel. It is popularly known as Gadhige.

Food stories

We stopped over at BMS on our way to Coorg and on our way back to Mangalore Airport. It is 20 mins from Mangalore airport. The huge building which has a restaurant and lodging is well built and surrounded by palm leaves. The restaurant offers delicious south Indian food. In our stay, the biggest boon came in the form of Swaad Restaurant which is just a stone throw from our hotel.  The food is very child friendly specially if you are travelling with a toddler, it becomes a go to place for lunch and dinner as they offer fully cooked rice, not so spicy sambar, the vegetable( oh they don’t charge for every extra veggie and sambar bowl, at least they did not with us), and a sweet dish. This mentioned menu is for children. For adults, you get a sumptuous thali (full meal plate). There are also other options available but we stuck to this more often. The people here are very nice indeed and go out of the way to bring you the best.

Few delights we came across with while we engaged in our evening walk which became a ritual during our stay.

Colorful flowers adorns every balcony of the rustic houses which are built very strategically. The vibrant blooms peeking out from the window, the climbers flowing out and figuratively blends with the bricks and structure, the plantations of coffee, pepper and rubber, the variety of family run homestays, riverside locales and many more things, all in the lap of nature will push you to believe and wonder if this quaint village is drawn out of a children’s folk tale.


A place generally becomes sought after, for its people, the view, the food and its simplicity. I promise you that these items that I mentioned will definitely be in your plate named as Coorg. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

An Evening at Martin’s Inn Resort



It was a sultry evening. I sat with my cuppa of masala chai in front of the calm view. The nature had painted quite a beautiful view. The flight of birds were heading to their destination and some of the birds were neatly perched themselves in midst of the branches of the tall palm trees. The rustling of leaves of the palm trees added a musical delight to my ears. The sun was hitting my balcony and I was bathing in the warmth of it. The distant sound of waves clashing the edges of the cliffs augmented the existing magic. I strained my neck to see the sun entering the horizon. Like Pablo Neruda says, every evening in the balcony of the sea, a fire is born, wings open. The ball of fire was clearly visible and I could imagine the sweat stewed hours that it put the whole day to shine down on us, to illuminate the dark corners of the world and also acting like a silent admirer of green blanket of nature. Music is the most alive of all forms of art and I heard it through the action of birds, waves, and the tiny tots. The gouged lawn in front of our resort was the eye catching element and I could smell the globe of petals withdrawn from the flowers of the trees even from distance. The local folks were rushing to their own place after finishing their daily chores and duties. The cuckoo sitting on the tree was busy cooing and making a sonorous sound. Such was the atmosphere. Fresh, clean and so virgin ready to lose it all for the mankind. The tryst with nature lasted for few more seconds before I heard a loud cry of my girl. I sat my tea on a chair and went inside to pick her up. Bringing her to the balcony, I showed her the true magic of Mother Nature and her kindness.