Saturday, 14 September 2019

Amazing Family Shows to watch on Amazon Prime India

For unfathomable reasons, I have the tendency to either go overboard over matters I take an interest in or be totally indifferent to most things. When the former happens to productive ventures, the outcome is generally very promising. 
And when I happen to take in interest in something like this...

Someone had gifted us with an Amazon Firestick. Out of curiosity I ventured to set it up and to my utter delight, I single-handedly managed to do so! I even managed to enable a blue-tooth speaker connection! (You'll have to read this post to know why I consider this to be a feat worth bragging.)
So, it started with a few random shows on Amazon Prime. You know...just once in a while when we decided to patronize the new gizmo - Firestick working on our lame MTNL wi-fi connection, alternating it with our staid cable connection with a gazillion channels.
Enter TRAI regulations, the cable guy gets all finicky charging us 5 times what we paid him earlier. 
Result: We resolve to get a better wi-fi connection and instead of the over-priced cable channels, pursue entertainment via the Firestick. 

The rest as they say is history. I can honestly say, I have no clue where 6 months, no wait, it's over a year actually, of my life disappeared!😲😰 
Well, maybe my thoroughly squashed comfy TV viewing armchair knows!
The ad and break-free viewing on Amazon Prime is a major draw that tempts you to binge watch series upon series!

Suffice it to say, I am a rather conversant guide on Amazon Prime Movies and Shows.
Sharing reviews of a few feel-good shows I watched with the rest of my family...yes, the sofa in our TV room is due for overhauling.🙄

The Middle season 5
I cannot think of a better show to watch with the family! Trust me, I know best, after all I watched the whole 9 Seasons (24 episodes each), twice! The show ran from 2009-2018, so you'll literally be watching the cast growing up/older through the seasons!
The show is about the struggles, highs and lows of a lower middle-class American family of five living in Orson, Indiana. The characters of the Heck family: Father - Mike (Neil Flynn) a steady, solid yet dry personality, mother -Frankie (Patricia Heaton) mostly hysterical, emotional and totally adorable, eldest son - Axl (Charlie McDermott) a dandy young man, high on sports and low on academics, middle daughter - Sue (Eden Sher) the dorky, clumsy, eternal optimist and the youngest son - Brick (Atticus Shaffer) with his insatiable book reading and eccentric quirks, are simply brilliantly etched! The comic timing, the sublime acting, the script, the dialogues, everything clicks consistently. My whole family was glued to the series and we've practically memorized quite a few iconic dialogues!
Basically I loved everything about the show, all through the 9 seasons. 
A show to watch with the family. Characters that you can totally relate to, rib-tickling dialogues and heart-tugging moments that keep you happily entertained!
You could check the Parent Guide HERE.

The Office RelaxNRave
This series ran from 2005-2013, 9 seasons. The series just kept getting better and better as one connected with all the characters. 
The show is about the everyday work lives of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. You'll fall in love with each and every one of the characters. You have the crazy boss, Regional Manager with a weird sense of humour Michael Scott (Steve Carell), the smart aleck, prankster salesman Jim Halpert (John Kraszinski), the shy, adorable and equally pranky receptionist Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer), the hyper ambitious salesman cum beet farm owner, the inimitable Dwight Shrute (Rainn Wilson) along with a host of unforgettable cast comprising the staff at this office. While I didn't really love season 1, I was intrigued enough to go on and was soon hooked! Again, done all the seasons, twice over! 😜
I loved the romance between Jim and Pam and each and every one of  the quirky office staff but most of all enjoyed the Dwight Shrute's outrageously hilarious character. This is one office where the fun never stops!
You could check the Parent Guide HERE.

A British period drama set between 1912-1916, this gorgeous series ran for six seasons between 2010-2015. 
You'll be swept into the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants in Downton Abbey of Yorkshire, even if you haven't the foggiest idea about the British way of life or the social hierarchy of an era gone by.
The cast is simply spectacular and not for a moment do you feel that they are acting their parts, they simply play themselves! My favourite character from the series would undeniably be the Dowager Countess, Lady Violet Crawley played by Maggie Smith with her unmissable pithy dialogues and classic acting! The head butler Mr Carson, played by Jim Carter would come a close second with his flawlessly conscientious work attitude as head of a large staff of a royal household and a heart of gold.
If you have a penchant for the stiff upper lip and classic British humour, a love for opulent royal sets and resplendent costumes, countryside scenes amidst household drama of royal proportions, this is a show you shouldn't miss! Especially since the Downton Abbey film releases on 20th September 2019!
You could check the Parents Guide HERE.

Well, I could rave on quite a bit about the umpteen series I watched by myself through the last one year, but that would have to be on a whole lot of other posts!
Till later, Happy Couch Potato-ing!
Do share your favorite, must-watch shows! 

Copyright © 2019 KALA RAVI

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

A view like no other

We were on a family holiday at Coorg, Karnataka. On our sightseeing agenda was the Talakaveri temple in the Brahmagiri hills of Kodagu District. 
Being a non-peak tourist season, a serene temple darshan and visit to the origin of the mighty Kaveri river went off rather quickly.
With time on our hands we wondered what to do next. We spotted steps next to the temple and a lot of people going up and down it. The steps went up the Brahmagiri hill. I looked at the steep incline and the vast number of steps and felt my knees creaking in protest. 
We were debating whether we should do the climb or visit some other spot. Just then we spotted a middle-aged couple coming down the steps. My family looked at me meaningfully with a; 'see if they can do it, you can too' kinda look. 
I stopped them and enquired about the climb. They said it was 407 steps to the top. I asked them what was there to see at the top of the climb. (I'd done 272 steps to the Batu caves in Malaysia years ago and the end of the climb had rewarded us with a marvelous experience of the caves and the shrine within.)
The couple looked at each other briefly, the man smiled and said,"You'll have to find that out yourself, won't you? But it will be totally worth it, let me assure you. Just go for it!" The two of them exchanged secret smiles (Aww, how romantic, I thought) and they went their way.
So now that we had this bit of info, we decided to go for it. The sleeping arithmetician in me kicked in; 407 steps, that's roughly, 20 floors.
The tremendous fitness un-enthusiast in me was breathing strenuously after probably 50 steps. Just 350 more steps, cajoled my family.
Well, huffing and puffing I finally made it to the top after the steep 407 step climb and caught up with the others. I couldn't wait to catch my breath in anticipation of what awaited me there.
There can't be more of an anti-climax than the view from the top of Brahmagiri hills! There is a mediocre view of a surrounding valley, nothing extraordinary. The kind you'd probably not even give a second look if you saw a photograph of. The summit itself has a small platform with railings around. Absolutely nothing else! Probably the climb and the view might have been more rewarding with swirling mists, but we weren't that fortunate.

The smug smiles of the couple we'd met at the bottom came to mind, the couple that'd egged us on to take up the climb.
Yes, they'd undertaken the futile climb themselves, knowingly or unknowingly and wouldn't want to deprive others of the same disappointment that awaited the end of the arduous climb! 
Seriously makes me suspect the intent behind all kinds of reviews...of books, movies, destinations, restaurants and so on. The more the number of stars, the more dubious I get!
That reminds me, I need to do a tripadvisor review of this place. Any guesses how many stars this destination gets from me?? 😈

Anyway, we had a good laugh as we came down the hill, if nothing it was definitely an unforgettable experience! While we were coming down a bunch of college kids was beginning their ascent. My husband called out to them, "Keep your DSLR's ready for the view at the top."😈😈

A nursery rhyme I sang as a kid came back to me. One I've always found pretty silly and futile. I sang it aloud as I trundled down the steps. 
It runs like this,

A bear went over the mountain, 
A bear went over the mountain, 
A bear went over the mountain, 
To see what he could see.

And all that he could see,
And all that he could see,
Was the other side of the mountain.
The other side of the mountain,
The other side of the mountain,
Was all he could see.

You could hear it as well, at least kids today can have some visuals with this aimless rhyme!

Copyright © 2019 KALA RAVI

Sunday, 8 September 2019

When it rains, or it doesn't

During monsoons in Mumbai, all you have to do for a conversation to take off is begin with, "When it rains...," and you'll be bombarded with stereotype responses like,"it pours," or "it's time for chai pakodas," or "you won't believe the water-logging at Hindmata" or "the dams still haven't reached the overflow mark" and a somewhat wistful,"its's time for a non-rainy holiday!"
There is a subtle and ongoing joke, maybe even a trend that happens at least once during the temperamental Mumbai monsoons. It is like this: Every once in a while when the Weather Bureau predicts a terrible downpour and declares a public holiday for safety reasons, we invariably have sunny blue skies and made to order fluffy white clouds on that day!
While school-going kids are thrilled with the prospect of a rain-free holiday, office-goers (of offices that have decided to stay open despite the warnings), mope all day long at work, lamenting the injustice and blaming adulthood that has deprived them of these childish pleasures.
I always wonder what goes on behind the scenes at the Weather Bureau on such occasions. How can their prediction be so off the chart? I wonder in particular about the guy who actually issues the damning statement that is bound to land him in a seriously embarrassing situation!

Maybe this happens...

Dr. WB is at work poring over several maps and printouts on his work-table, comparing various satellite images and reports on his computer screen. 
Hmm, the cloud formation definitely seems threatening. But the wind movements are equally strong, they could buffet the clouds in another direction. After one more intense scrutiny of the entire scene in front of him, Dr. WB is reasonably sure he needn't hit the panic button just yet.
His mobile rings shrilly, the caller tune, a catchy item number song set by his son. He pounces on it to silence the offending sound. 
"Hello, papa? Have you finished the science project I gave you last week? I have to submit it tomorrow you know?"
"Err, what was it about?" mumbles Dr. WB, desperately trying to recollect.
"We had to make an eco-friendly energy haven't done it, have you," accuses the young tyrant and goes on a wail,"Mummmmyyy...."
Enter mummy,"What kind of a scientist are you? You can't even do a 7th standard science project?"
"Papa, you promised you'll do it! Now it will be all your fault if I get a zero tomorrow....mummyyyyy..."
"You better come home with the project or else God save you from me!", is mummy's ultimatum as the phone is slammed down.

Dr. WB stares wanly at the phone and then at all the charts and screens around him.
Yes, the weather Gods would have to save him from the imminent wrath awaiting him at home. Time to hit the panic button.
An official press release and intimation to civic bodies about a serious cyclone warning with heavy rains within the next 24 hours from the Weather Bureau ensues.

The Civic chief's office in turn welcomes the news with silent cheers!
They declare : All schools, educational institutes and offices to remain closed tomorrow due to cyclone warning.
In any case, they've been too harassed with relentless complaints of pot-holed roads and water-logged areas. 
Ek barishonwala break toh banta he!

I am participating in the #WordsMatter Bloghop. The prompt this time was "When it rains..."
I received this tag from Roshan at Godyears. It’s my pleasure to pass on this tag to Zainab at Slim Expectations. There are 42 of us on this Blog Hop and it will be spread over 3 days – 6, 7, 8 September 2019. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and prepare to be surprised!

I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter's #MyFriendAlexa

Copyright © 2019 KALA RAVI

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Sweet Betrayals

A hard core sweet-toothist's biggest nightmare is to be let down by a promised helping of heaven. It could be a slice of the most decadent looking cake or a crispy yet succulent looking jalebi, that tastes totally contrary to its looks - a bite and miss kind of experience where the cake tastes like bread with stale icing and the jalebi tastes like thermocol dunked in syrup. Being annoyed would probably be stating the feeling it generates, rather optimistically. You wouldn't understand the feeling of utter betrayal when such injustice happens, if you aren't one yourself, I mean a sweet-toothist. 
I've often faced such let downs at lavish hotel buffets that boast an endless variety of desserts. 
A true-blooded sweet lover will begin his meal with desserts, ensuring he tries all of them. He doesn't believe in regional or international biases when it comes to desserts. Tiramisu, baklava, turkish delights, macaroons and souffles are at complete peace with gajar ka halwa, gulab jamuns, pethas, malai pedas, and phirnis
Post this sugar coma inducing appetizer, based on his stomach's capacity for expansion, he will manage to chuck in a few staples with daals, paneers and salads, to ensure a balanced diet. 
(Note: The use of masculine gender in this case may be slightly biased, the author being considerate and completely biased towards the fairer sex.)

Dainty pastries that taste like fluff, light melt-in-the-mouth souffles that are too eggy, halwas that are sugar, ghee and dry fruit deprived, luscious plump gulab jamuns with hard tasteless centers....well, I can keep tirade going, when I am thus stimulated by the atrocities of tasteless wonders and heartbreaking, two-timing sweet finales! In fact the sweet loving community would go to the extent of calling such offences, strikes below the belt, even the unkindest cut of all. And we are not even going down the path of sugar-free desserts, the term itself is an oxymoron.

Leaving behind starry hotels, back home, when the post dinner, "meethe me kya hai" question elicits a tray of cut fruits or raisins or...(shudder) a lump of jaggery, you know it is ghor kalyug.
C'est la vie, where bad desserts allure, tempt and then stab - from the front.
You see, the pastry-chef, the halwai, the lady of the house all do it purposely out of the goodness of their hearts, to save humanity from obesity, diabetes and heart disease! 
(The author, a lady of the house herself may not necessarily subscribe to this line of thought but must issue it out of social health obligations, blah and bleh legal by-laws, and commendable consideration towards bad pastry chefs and their clan.)

You could read some more of my food-ravings here:

1) Common-place Curd-Rice
2) Ghar ki murgi daal barabar?
3) Sweet Temptations
4) Athithi Devo Bhavah, anybody?
5) Kaapi-Ready
6) Idli Seria Vanduda
7) Sweet Betrayals

All through the month of September, I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter's #MyFriendAlexa

Copyright © 2019 KALA RAVI

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Buzz Fuss

The sun was about to set. The mosquitoes were beginning their evening rounds, buzzing in swarms, droning into my ears and driving me crazy. My brother was doing no better, slapping his arms and legs and flaying wildly to shoo away the aerial attacks. We compared the black halos on each other's heads formed by these revolving pests, as to whose was bigger or more dense! We also argued about whose blood was sweeter and thus more likely to attract attention of these blood-thirsty pests! 
While we thrashed about hopelessly, I observed periappa blissfully immersed in his newspaper ensconced in his deep easy-chair. He didn't seem to be having any problems with the mosquitoes. 
We were in the native place, down south during the winter vacation. It happened to be peak mosquito season, our bad luck and their (mosquitoes) good luck I suppose...exciting to check out the flavors of city blood!😒
We'd doused ourselves from head to toe in the toxic smelling Odomos. The windows were tightly shut to the brink of suffocation, while strategically placed Tortoise coil fumes lent more drama to the scene. We'd even procured a plastic fly swatter (these were pre-mosquito racket days) each and were trying to swat the critters in a vengeful mode. Our theatrics made little or no difference to the aerial tormentors.
These country mosquitoes were nothing like the ones we saw in the city. They were definitely twice the size, probably as big as flies and were not shy, frightened or dissuaded by our tactics. They relentlessly buzzed round and round our heads and any exposed body part. It was rather entertaining to watch the saree clad womenfolk leap a feet high and curse wholeheartedly when the bites dug in at the sensitive exposed midriff. 
Periappa was sitting at the table polishing off his evening tiffin of adai with jaggery and a big dollop of ghee, washed down with a tumbler of piping hot kaapi, with absolutely no signs of discomfort. He invited us to join him at the table even though we'd already stuffed ourselves silly with the savouries and sweets periamma had fed us earlier.
I could bear it no longer. I went up to him and asked him about it. How come the mosquitoes did not bother him? What was his secret?
Periappa guffawed delightedly and replied,"Do you see how small these creatures are? Can you imagine how small their stomachs will be? All a little fellow like this needs is a tiny drop of my blood. So I allow him to take that measly drop. Once he's satiated he will not bother me again and I believe he conveys to his pals that I am their partner in crime, so they don't bother me either. Good no?"
I sat down, flabbergasted at this logic. It did seem to work for him. 
Maybe if we stopped taking our aerial attackers so seriously, they wouldn't oppress us as much. A wee bit of blood in exchange for a buzz-free evening seemed to be a good bargain.
(To clarify, this episode is from the uncomplicated, not so prevalent, 'pre-malaria-dengue' days when a mosquito went about biting people on strictly official business, foraging for food and not with the ulterior motive of inflicting unsuspecting victims with dreadful fevers.)
Sadly, large-hearted periappa recently passed away. I think this would be an ideal epitaph for him:
Enjoy life, stop complaining and fighting off your troubles, they'll vanish soon!

In life if we stopped complaining and fighting off our troubles so actively and aggressively, they wouldn't bother us as much. They'd simply follow their own path and fade away in due course.

periappa:  Uncle - father's elder brother or husband of mother's elder sister.
periamma: Aunt - mother's elder sister or wife of father's elder brother.

20th August is World Mosquito Day

Enjoyed this post? Read more southern-spiced pieces....

The Mami Saga:

1) Common-place Curd Rice

2) Kaapi-ready

3) Of Dangling Drumsticks, Wily Vadus and more

4) Idli Seria Vanduda?

5) Mamievolution

6) Buzz Fuss

Copyright © 2019 KALA RAVI

Friday, 2 August 2019

The Seat by the Window

It was her lucky day; she’d got a seat by the window after ages and was gazing idly at the rather unsightly view outside. The train had stopped at Kurla station, notorious for overwhelming crowds, where a thousand got off each compartment while a thousand more got in, all in a matter of a few seconds. The station was a rampage with each person jostling to find their way towards or away from the train. With a lurch the train started again and she caught sight of man staring intently at her from the now rapidly disappearing platform. She brushed it off as a figment of her imagination and concentrated on the open book on her lap. 
The next day she got a side seat, after having stood for a good 40 mins. At Kurla station she noticed the man from the previous day desperately scanning the ladies compartment. She continued to observe him as she was sure he couldn't see her seated all the way inside. The train moved and the man looked angry and frustrated. 

The following weeks, the train was so crowded that she had the misfortune of being stranded at the entrance of the compartment, unable to plough her way inside. She could feel the intense scrutiny of the same man's eyes on her from the platform, standing at the same spot. She pretended to be unaware of his gaze but managed to sneak peeks from lowered lashes. He was probably in his 30's, of an average height and built, fair complexioned, always dressed in kurta and jeans, sporting a stubble and disheveled hair, a rather ordinary looking man except for his furtive eyes and thick brows. It made her very uncomfortable, this stalking. God knew, since when it had been going on. She was aware that she wasn’t a classic beauty but something about her made heads turn wherever she went. Maybe it was the trendy clothes she wore or the way she carried herself. She started wearing dull conservative clothes, no make-up, but still nothing changed; the man persisted with his ogling.
This could not continue, she thought worriedly and decided to change tack. She took the ladies compartment located in the front. As the train entered the crowded Kurla station, she spotted the stalker. He looked at his watch and started scanning the train, waiting for the ladies compartment in the rear. She was wary yet a thrill passed through her; she'd managed to give the stalker a slip.
The next day, she was innocuously seated in a middle seat in the front ladies compartment. Her heart jumped to her mouth when she perceived disapproving eyes boring into hers. The lecher had somehow figured out her plan and taken the adjoining men's compartment and was now staring at her through the metal mesh partition.
Thoroughly rattled, she stopped taking the train altogether and resorted to cumbersome bus routes instead. 
A couple of months passed in sheer agony of travelling in overcrowded buses stuck in traffic jams and she desperately hoped that the creep at Kurla station would have given up the idea of stalking her by now.

Today, she got into the train at Tilak Nagar, a station before Kurla station. All the daily commuters were pleasantly surprised to see a brand new train and empty at that, rumble into the platform. It was fresh and clean from the railway yard.
She was pushed into the ladies compartment in a swirling mass of arms and bodies and wonder of wonders; she bagged an empty seat near the window. The new train, its spanking upholstery and trimmings, made for an excited buzz of conversation in the ladies compartment.
The train rolled next into Kurla station and to her horror, she saw the wretched man there. Restlessly striding and watching with furtive eyes. When he caught sight of her sitting by the window, his expression changed to one of fury. He looked every inch crazed and psychopathic!
It terrified her when she saw him approach her at a run, wildly pushing through the crowd. She cowered and sat away from the window, her spine and head plastered to the back of her seat.
With a cry of rage he pulled out a bottle from his pant pocket and flung its contents towards her just as the train pushed forward.
Acrid, vile liquid oozed down the closed clear glass shutters of the now fast accelerating new train. A collective loud shout passed through the compartment as her co-passengers noticed what had just happened.
She’d just escaped an acid-attack, by freak luck, courtesy Indian Railways.


I am participating in the #WordsMatter Blog Hop. The prompt for this month was "Outside My Window".
I received this tag from Amrita Basu at Healthwealthbridge. It's my pleasure to pass on this tag to Jyothi Nair at Shortened Tales.
There are 47 of us on this Blog Hop and it will be spread over 3 days - 2,3, 4 August. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and prepare to be surprised!

Copyright © 2019 KALA RAVI

Friday, 19 July 2019

The Not-So-Polite Observations of an Old Sour Grape

Hey there! If you are a blogger friend, I heartily congratulate you for having made it to The List. Non-bloggers (is there a muggle-like word for them?), it is a big thing to be on The List if you are a blogger. It is a comprehensive list, kinda like the Yellow Pages Awards for bloggers. Every blogger worth his words will be on The List. 

Every once in a while (probably every two months?), I am pleasantly surprised to see updates upon updates from delighted bloggers of having made it to The List. It is most likely that it is every blogger's dream to be acknowledged, to make a difference with words and thoughts that reach across the globe, enlightening, entertaining, healing the world with his/her prowess and knowledge.

I hasten to visit The Site, every time it comes up, and scroll down to the R's. R...Ra..tensing as I arrive at Re...nope, not there. Oh, yes, yours truly and blog are not on The List, as usual. Well, what did you expect, I say to myself. Writing whimsical stuff when it catches your fancy that caters to no one in particular, goes by a punchline that says, Always Expect the Unexpected, and you expect to be on The List? Pah! So not happening!
Are you even a blogger if you are not on The List, I ask myself. Yes, existential questions and self-doubt rack the mind. 

I casually wonder at the ingenuity of the person compiling The List. Smart guy/gal, this one. I hear listicle is a favorite blogging tool to help generate good SEO. (Look Ma, I am even learning to use some tech jargon in my blog)
This guy generates these listicles much like the honors list or the report cards one used to get in those harrowing wonder years. There are categories of these listicles, and pretty exhaustive lists these are. Besides the Top 25 Blogs, Top Travel Blogs, Top Food Blogs, Top Personal Blogs, there are other lists as well. Well-meaning, all-inclusive Lists like 1st, 2nd, 3rd consolation prizes, everyone gets to be on a List. In fact, it requires a special kind of talent to not make it to The List. Ahem! I surmise, I have not lost my touch in this aspect - consistently not making it to any list that matters.

The ones on The List definitely form the happening crowd of bloggers - some veteran reknown names, some consistent players, some newbie bloggers, some who've entered blogosphere from the happening Instagramland, to conquer this third-world SM realm. Yes, it does have the creme de la creme of bloggers. 
Blogging is much like Bollywood. You need to keep at it consistently. Be seen everywhere. Create controversies. Hob-nob with the hob-nobbable ones. Oh, yes generate content too.

And then I think...what if in the next Season of Listings, my blog makes it to The List? What then? Won't I be doing everything I could to tom-tom the breaking news, shouting it off roof-tops, nay, SM timelines? That ethereal moment in the limelight, however feeble its light, is what drives every being to chase his dream. Maybe I'd go that way too. 
Then again, I could demur! Be like the hoity-toity Amir Khan type or the award-waapsi type, and not do it very quietly either. I'd head to the SM and nonchalantly disclaim my claim to fame - that should make for some desirable noise - ruffling feathers.

Speaking of ruffling feathers, I think this post is certainly going to make inroads on that aspect.
Meh! I am just a good ol' sour grape! 


Copyright © 2019 KALA RAVI

Monday, 8 July 2019

Melon, Almond, Peach or Grape?

Don't judge a book by its cover, for appearances can be deceptive. 
Sounds great on paper, but real life and real people can be so confusing and paradoxical!
Just when you think you've figured out a person, he does a 360 degree turn and you are left wondering if it's the same person!
Still, I think inherent personality traits could be analogized to these edible references...
Image source:Pixabay
A melon is hard outside and soft inside. 
A hard almond shell has a hard nut inside.
A juicy soft peach has a hard seed at its core. 
A grape is soft outside and inside.

Then again, whatever the personality type is, there just might be some situations, certain circumstances that challenge, make it imperative for him/her switch from their stereotype. 
Most of us are not just black or white, but varying shades of grey. A timid cow can turn into a roaring lion while a raging bull may become a docile kitten. 

Hard outside, soft inside
The ex-king of RuritaniaThis fictional character from P.G Wodehouse novels has left a lasting impression on me*. 
"The ex-king of Ruritania's position as official stander on the sidewalk outside Barribault's Hotel was one of splendour and importance." - Full Moon (Blandings Castle)
This statuesque and imposing personality is the first one you encounter when you have to enter the Barribault's Hotel which welcomes only the creme de la creme of society. The ex-king admirably performs his designated task of daunting and deterring lay mortals or "the proletariat" as Wodehouse puts it, from entering the hallowed echelons of Barribault's. His mere presence seems like rigorous scrutiny to undesirable clientele, making them squirm and spirit away. 
But then, one is relieved to note that the blue blood of the ex-King tends to run a little less blue at times. It just happens that the position he holds is a lonely one and he occasionally gets off his high horse to seek the company of lesser beings. And hey, he is a pretty normal fellow, sociable even, when he does that! 
Sometimes one needs to look past a daunting exterior, unravel it and get to the soft core. 
* I'll have to admit here, my partiality to all things Wodehouse, compelled me to select this character over other more deserving references!

Hard outside, hard inside
On the other hand, what if you took the example of the ex-King of Ruritania to heart and decided to venture into a lion's den hoping to bring out its deep-rooted/non-existent gentleness? 
I certainly can't imagine the spine-tingling, Hannibal Lecter being anything other than what he is! Brrr! Foreboding exteriors can have equally scary interiors! 
Many times you hope that difficult, adamant, hard persons will eventually turn out to be congenial, approachable, but they are like a granite stone - what you find outside is what you will find inside - hard, rigid and unbending. The kind of person most likely to lead an army to victory or head a successful enterprise.

Soft outside, hard inside 
It is extremely challenging to deal with people with a gentle demeanor and a strong heart. Yep, silk hiding the steel within. Not necessarily a negative trait but it certainly can throw you off-balance. You can misinterpret their soft exterior as a weakness and land a rude shock when you encounter the unyielding or strong center. Ask Ravana about Devi Sita, Duryodhana about Draupadi or Allaudin Khilji about Rani Padmini. Beautiful, fragile beings who couldn't be made to budge or bend against their wishes.

Soft outside, soft inside
It is no hoot being a softie and a pushover. Almost everyone, takes you for granted. Take Yudhisthira or Dharmaputra for instance. A character who was soft-natured, easily swayed, and gentle to the core. Characters you want to scream at, "Have some spine for God's sake!" Then again, in a world so chock full of hard nuts, sometimes all you need is a soft marshmallow or a gooey-centered choco lava cake with no rude surprises waiting inside! 

And then again, what is a hard or a soft trait? 
Is hardness a negative trait, one that is ruthlesss and tough to break? Or is it an armour to shield the softness within? A turtle would literally think so! 
Is a softness a trait of weakness, one that enfeebles its beholder? Or is it an enigma to flummox a tough opponent? A wolf in sheep's clothing would certainly be disconcerting!

We humans have this innate need to find good in ourselves and in our fellow beings, even the harshest ones - like looking out for rainbows when it's raining. 

So what kinda personality are you? 
A Melon, Almond, Peach or Grape? 
Maybe you're a bit of all, a fruit cocktail?
Don't know? Well, nothing really makes sense, life doesn't make sense, you've just got to fake it till you make it.


Copyright © 2019 KALA RAVI

Monday, 24 June 2019

Just an evening walk

It is past mid-June and monsoon still hasn't hit Mumbai in earnest, I ponder as I watch the overcast skies and laboriously stroll on my usual walking track. It's a 2.5 km circular paved walkway surrounding a water body. One that has currently almost dried up in parts and left a choking stench. The stench motivates even the laziest walkers to turn into eager runners in an attempt to get past the overwhelming nasal assault in a hurry.
Ugh, I wince as the enthusiastic jogger passes by me, dripping sweat all over. Everyday I am awed by his perseverance at giving strenuous exercise a shot in such unbearable weather. 
Discussing the idiosyncrasies of the weather all the time, we Mumbai folks are rather going the British way, I say. While fair-weather folks write happy poems on nature, lesser mortals are left thrashing one another on social media, or like me transform to Dame Crib-A-Lot.
I smile at the young couple (overweight of course), enthusiastically pushing the stroller, their sweet baby asleep now. It is a lifestyle challenge to not put on weight with the abundantly available junk food, comfortable, effort-free living and screen addiction. It's a wonder a couple this young even has a baby, what with fertility issues being a common feature nowadays. 
Today out of the blue, my son decided to do something inexplicable. He asked to join me on my evening walk! What made him want to do this...when he could be at the mall chilling out with his friends or playing games on his tablet? I have no clue! Right now, my pride and joy know no bounds as I see him parking his cycle to join me.
I've decided to show off the merits of my beautiful walking track, the glorious sunset views, and if his attention still persists, discuss my observations of the people I see everyday on the track. It's a Sherlock thingy you see - the new one in the series 'Elementary' that my family is currently hooked to.
We pass this heavy-set young person (boy-going by his close-cropped hair, girl-going by the chest straining tee-shirt) walking briskly as he/she huffs by. A lady in dainty pink track-wear and a glossy, high ponytail jogs past. My son remarks that people who are really keen and serious about exercise always have a frowny or sour face while they are at it. Hmm, that is quite true, I muse. Maybe it is the strain of the focus or the harsh weather or maybe it's just what I've suspected all along - exercise is no fun!
My son reminds me of how we all loved walking on our holidays abroad. Oh, yes I remember how enviously I used to watch the locals who exercised so enthusiastically. Especially the office-goers who changed into sweats, jogged a cool 7-8 km, showered, grabbed a quick lunch and went back to work, all rejuvenated. Sure, you can think and do all that when the weather outside isn't like this!! 👇😠😰😓 Out here, a stunt like that would be suicidal! 
The group of three middle-aged women (err, like me? No, older!) is approaching. Always dressed to the nines in the best branded jogging suits, shoes, armed with fitness trackers and head phones, they are all also heavily made up! God knows how they miss seeing each other or themselves in the mirrors post the workout - with smudgy kohl-eyes and washed out patchy foundation, scary!
Further along the path, we see the bench with the old couples, neatly dressed, sitting on "their bench" enjoying the mild breeze. The men are inevitably discussing politics and the women as usual, speaking in hushed whispers. They must be exchanging notes about their husbands, daughter-in-laws or maids, I am about to tell my son. Tut, tut, I reprimand myself and tell him instead, "They are probably discussing a new recipe."
Several lovey-dovey couples pass by, new ones every day. What is common however is, the look of total absorption on their faces when they are talking to each other and their utter determination to snag the perfect selfie. To be young and in love! Examining it further, I think love was simpler in times of landline phones, no internet, letters and photo albums!
Image by <a href="">Willfried Wende</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>
We are heading towards a spot on my walking track that will bring us to a bench which is always occupied by the same man, irrespective of the time of the day. I am eager to hear what my son has to say about this strange character - the man on the bench.

Earlier, I'd thought it to be a mere coincidence that this man chose to be on the same bench every evening. When I changed my walking time to mornings, he was still there, at the same spot! The stranger thing was, he was always writing something into his notebook and never looked up. Maybe he was working on something complex like accounting/book-keeping and he was tallying end of the day records? I started observing him more keenly. A diminutive, nondescript personality probably in his late thirties, he was always dressed in a modest white shirt and grey pants. The bench he sat on had old newspapers spread across. There was small bag beside him with more books, a lunch-box and a water bottle. One day I even managed to have a closer peek into his notebook that he was so intently writing into. He was making intricate squiggles and doodles, scores and scores of them! 
Weird! Maybe he is a homeless, harmless, quirky guy who is trying to create a Guinness record on crazy scribbling, living on a park bench. What will he do when the rains come? I wonder. Without fail, I see him on his spot, at his book, every single day that I walk. 
We are approaching the bench...but what is this I see? Arghh! The man on the bench is missing, absconding from his fixed address - bench next to light pillar no 56 is empty! 
The son looks at me expectantly. But what can I say? The man has disappeared! I check to see if I am at the right spot. I am. Theories on the missing person race past my head, while my son calmly pats my shoulder and says, "You know ma, you could just have been imagining this? You have been watching quite a bit of Sherlock." 
Humph, just my luck! I recollect (possibly a past-life regression) a chapter from math on probability. "What is the probability of an event that has been consistently taking place  for the last six months not happening when you really want it to?"
Feeling deflated and embarrassed, I move ahead, casting furtive backward glances to check if the blasted man is back on his seat. 
We are almost at the end of the track and I am still unable to come to terms with the guy's disappearance. I momentarily freeze on my tracks as I see him approaching. It takes me a bit to realize it's him for I've never seen him upright, or walking or doing anything besides poring over his notebook. Hallelujah! I excitedly nudge the offspring and whisper, "It's him, this is him!"
He does look pretty normal, doing something equally normal...walking alongside a woman, talking in muted tones. I pretend to take a break to tie my laces. Oh, so the man decides to walk and talk. The couple passes us by and I turn to look back. He has his arm around her shoulder. Nice. Normal. Pah! 
"Come on ma, it's too hot, I can't take it anymore!"wails the son. I agree, I can't take this let-down anymore! We head back home. 
There is loud crash of thunder and it starts drizzling. Tomorrow, I am definitely going for my evening walk, come rain or shine. Will he be back on his bench doing his routine doodling or will he be gallivanting around like today evening...I wonder.
And you never know, if the rain really sets in and the sweat on my back actually dries up, I might dole out happier musings!


Copyright © 2019 KALA RAVI