Friday, December 30, 2016

I am Engaged to Myself First

Today my blog turns 7 years old :)

I was 18 when I started blogging. I cannot believe how much I have transformed over these years. But I am learning every day and I thought the best way to look forward is to make a few resolutions and hope my constant companion, writing, is at my side and helps me fulfil them.

#1 Know that I am enough

Though my anxiety and over-thinking has helped me strive towards perfection, it has also magnified my failures out of proportion and has caused my self-confidence and self-esteem to plummet. I have been raised in a world where competition, results, numbers and conformance make sense and failing to achieve these seem to make my existence meaningless. This year I promise to breathe deeply, work hard and not be attached to the result as the scriptures say.

#2 Be Happy

I am not a happy person. Content, yes, happy, no. Who knows how long I am going to be on this planet? I vow to be happy every single day, sing, dance, write and shout off roof tops that I am alive. Of course, I'm going to be sad, angry, hurt, disgusted, pitiful but I will not let my eyelids close without reaching peace on my own terms.

#3 Hope

When despair, doubt and darkness permeate every inch of your surroundings, the survival of hope is endangered. In my true obsessive, possessive style, I shall hold on to it.

#4 Accept Myself

The previous year I was committed to being myself, to not be as docile as I was before. However I forgot that with that, acceptance of who I am is also required. I have messed up and the perfectionist in me loathes those parts of my life. While I thought that forgiving others would be the biggest battle, I was wrong. The biggest battle is forgiving myself.

#5 Be Engaged to Myself

I promise to talk to myself everyday, analyse what I've learned and grow a little bit. Everyday. I promise to listen to my fears and inhibitions. I promise to rejoice the small victories. I promise to not seek validation for my existence because in reality, we are all alone first and then we share society. Because I cannot truly complete society until I am complete on my own.

This post was inspired by a lot of things, but mainly an article I read on why women are wearing an engagement ring on their pinky finger to signify that they are engaged to themselves. While the sentiment is admirable, I do think it's a marketing ploy to ensnare single women :P

Advance happy new year, let's rejoice and grow together. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Journey of a 100 blogposts begins with a Single Word

When Chennai Bloggers Club (CBC) announced a blogging competition on the topic how blogging has transformed me, I couldn’t help but smile.

I started blogging in 2009. I cannot believe that seven years have passed since I typed the very first word. I’ve already written about how I took the baby steps into the realm of blogging.

In this story, I shall dive into my ocean of memories and present to you the jewels I have gained in this wonderful journey.

I joined college in 2009. As an engineering student, I realised my days of writing are numbered and my thoughts were itching to be cast into the written form. Fortunately for me, I was introduced to the convenient mode of blogging.

When I began, I didn’t expect it to be read by anyone. I expected my blog to be a literal translation of “web log”, a public diary that will be perused by me and perhaps a few others at most.

Over the years, the storyteller in me became quite ambitious. My keyboard has hummed across a growing range of topics. Today, I was surprised to see a 102 blog posts. I am not a regular blogger. In a typical Libran fashion, sometimes I blog every week to perhaps once in every four months. In spite of that irregularity, I felt happy and blessed to have created this digital content that has forever marked my evolution as a writer and more importantly as a person.

Emotional Stability

When I write, there is no judgement. There is no fear of someone cutting your thoughts in short. Emotions empty easily into text. There may be comments, but that comes later on. A blog post that is completed is a medium for release and an exercise of tranquillity.

An Archive of Memories

While I may be blessed with photographic memory, I am going to age and memory does fade with time. A blog post behaves as a duster that removes the cobwebs from a glass door that is an entrance to a particular incident.

A Window to Who I Am

No matter how articulate I am in person, my blog posts tell the reader of an entire journey. While a person who just met me might know who I am today, a person who has read my blog will know why I am who I am.

An Opportunity to Share
Sometimes my blog posts have motivated discussions on social media and brought about different perspectives that have taught me about the world and how people think.

A Box of Chocolates

My blog is really a box of chocolates. You will love some posts. You will not agree with some. You will fondly recollect some. (I have added a “Search” feature to aid that purpose :) ). I’m confident that it will leave any reader with an impression, be it good and or bad and that gives me immense satisfaction.

In conclusion, blogging has made me content, honest and happy. It has made me eligible to participate in a forum like The Chennai Bloggers Club. It is such a fulfilling task to look back at what I have gained and what I have become. Even if it is in the nick of time, I’m happy to participate in this collaboration between Sweek and CBC. #chennaibloggers #autobiography

And yes, this post won the competition ;)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Book Review : Untitled by Gayathri Prabhu

A random purchase based on no recommendation or inclination, "Untitled" became yet another book to make itself home in my bookcase.

I had also bought "To Kill a Mockingbird" earlier and was planning to write a book review on that. As masterful as that book is, the whole world knows about it. This book on the other hand lit the wick of my imagination much like the embers in the lamps of the house of Wodeyar women.

This is a historical fiction set in the times of Tipu Sultan. The protagonists are two painters - Richard, an English artist and a Brahmin boy Mukunda who is drawn to art rather than the art of reading planetary movements.

The author beautifully brings out the many facets of Tipu Sultan - the ruler, the strategist, the merciless and the merciful. The book moves at a fast pace. From Richard's arrival in Madras to his reception in Srirangapatinam, we learn of the turmoil he faces. India, like it was for many Englishmen, was his coming of age story.

We also get a glimpse of the society's rebel - Mukunda. As the son of an astrologer, one expects him to docilely comply with the promptings of fate. But here is a boy who believed destiny was his own making.

My favourite character is Suhasini, the dark daughter of a fair priest, her intelligence knew no bounds. She is cunning, manipulative and charming. Her strong personality comes to life with the author's choice of words. She becomes the trusted informant of the Wodeyar Queen who was imprisoned. 

The book is replete with historically accurate information. It truly transports the reader to another time. An era where the king relied on both strategy and astrology. An era where Indians were not yet viewed with the loathing that will come after the First War of Indian Independence in 1857. An era where communication could take months. 

Yet, some things were timeless. The earnest will of the soul to not conform be it Richard, Mukunda or Suhasini. The absorbing nature of passion and art. The fact that there are no real victors in a war. The fact that humans can become animals when there is nothing to lose and there is no accountability.

This book is worth your time. The prose is almost poetic. If I had to find a flaw, I'd say I found it unbelievable that all the main characters had such a fine instinct about the uncertain future.

The subject is close to my heart. A trip to Mysore had prompted me to churn out this historical fiction. I felt like I visited the same places, but in another time. Do buy this book :)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

How an Introvert behaves with Guests

Happy Deepavali to one and all :)

As much as I enjoy good food and positive vibes, dealing with people on festivals is not my cup of Horlicks.

Now I know there will be some people going how ungrateful I am as a human being to make fun of my family. Time for a defence that such people are not going to accept anyway. You can only make fun of the people you love :)

#1 The Awkward Smile

Here's the thing. Just because I don't talk doesn't mean I don't observe. Also, because I'm not talking, it means I have over-analysed every detail. So if you're going to say something smart/cheeky/cunning, I will know it and I will have a super sarcastic answer for it. But the fear of falling into disgrace checks my tongue and lo and behold - the awkward smile.

"You washed you hair?"
The clearly wet hair that the owner gave up de-tangling which looks like a cuckoo's nest curls in further fright.

"You're already 25"?
Yes my eternally 16 aunt.

#2 Lowering Expectation

Sometimes I'm not careful enough. Sometimes I make eye contact with fellow human beings who cannot comprehend the state of my existence. I learned this trick from my sister that when you feel backed into a corner and in pressure - always lower expectations.

"You won't study after this?"
I don't even have one journal paper. If I want to be a good professor, I need more publications so I am thinking of doing a post-doc.

*Total Silence*

#3 The Genuine Fake Smile

This is very different from the awkward smile. The genuine fake smile occurs when you are smiling at a completely different scenario but the listener thinks you're smiling because you accepted their unsolicited advice.

For example, a person keeps complaining about the lack of freedom by her elders. She then proceeds to advice me on something. And says she would never allow her son's wife to behave the way I did.

I smile at the hypocrisy, she smiles at her liberal doling of punyam.

#4 The Disappearing Act

Suddenly adults and children will begin to congregate into groups. As I am neither old enough to be an adult because I'm single and not young enough to be a kid because I've finished college, I stealthily creep into a room and sleep.

Once again, this was all for fun. Who knows how judgemental I will be when I am old! Let's hope we remember these annoyances and try to make life easier for the next generation ;)

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Day Kabali Released

July 22 2016 was a much awaited day for the the Tamil film fandom. However, that date is etched in my memory because it was when my maternal grandfather passed away.

He had been battling cancer for the past one year showing enormous willpower, through two surgeries. He had been living with us for the past few months. Echoes of his footsteps across the house, the image of him seeing TV, the smile that floated across his eyes even after a portion of his jaw was restructured keep swirling in a mixed haze.

He had been rushed into emergency quite a few times. I thought that Friday was just the same. By evening six thirty, I learned he was no more. Even though I knew he was in the fourth stage of cancer and I knew this was inevitable, the situation was a shock. It was not in the middle of a surgery or something so grave, I feel like his cancer spread instantly and suddenly.

The first feeling I felt was guilt. Should we have gone to hospital earlier? Should we have been more mindful of his needs? It was slowly replaced by a deep sense of loss. Were there anything else I would've said? I usually go home on weekends. On a whim, I went home on a Thursday. I feel as if it was to talk to him one last time.

I then started feeling anger. The day before, the doctor had informed my grandfather he was critically ill. Until then, he always had hope. I blamed the doctor initially and especially because all his other parameters were normal. It took some time for my sense of fairness to kick in that even if the mental factor is there, the illness was bad too.

My mother was inconsolable as she was holding his hand and literally felt his breath fade away.

In this chaotic turmoil, I felt three emotions surge - love, pride and a bit of equanimity. The love was because apart from the pain of the loss, I felt such acute pain for the people who were crying, the people I cared deeply, my mom and my grandmother especially.

I felt pride as I saw the positive aspects of my grandfather's life shine.

The equanimity stepped in when the reality of death solidified.

My tears refused to leave my eyes. To me, an honest inspection of emotions comes naturally through writing than tears.

It hasn't always been like this. For the past two years, I've been flying off the handle, crying every other day for some reason or the other. Yet, something as grave as this left me in shock. And instilled a bit of courage also I guess.

My grandfather read everything I wrote and published and complimented everything to my delight. I've always considered my near photographic memory a bane, but now as I can see the scene in 1080p, I feel blessed.

My grandfather was born on August 23, 1941. Like all Leos, he could be exemplified as a man who always did things his way.

He was born in Burma and was smuggled to Chennai when Japan invaded Burma during the Second World War. His life story could be right out of a movie. His grandfather was a barrister who studied in Cambridge, a story that many question. Anyway, he remembered a trip later on SS Rajula where he loved the taste of rasam and dry fish.

Confronted by poverty, he joined the Indian Air Force in the hope of square meals at the age of 19. His extraordinary physique helped him succeed there. He won several national level awards in swimming and had confronted many wild currents. He was first posted in Bangalore and then in several states of North India. My grandmother recalls several air raids in Chandigarh where houses would be covered in black out paper. My mother speaks Hindi fluently having had to struggle through Hindi medium schools at time. She recalls Tezpur in Assam and Chandigarh. My grandfather reminisced how there used to be quarters where there was only a single dry latrine and he'd take my mother a long distance every day for her to use the single functioning toilet. My mother and grandmother told me how proud they felt when they saw my grandfather marching with his comrades on Republic Day at Delhi.

He got his AMIE in electrical engineering and then retired at the age of 35 and settled in Chennai. He joined his brother in a business that floundered after a few years. At this age, he realised his skill set was woefully inadequate for the job market. Trying his luck he went to Singapore. He earned well and was active. Apart from being a manager, he did a lot of quirky things, a clerk, a newspaper man, what not!

His work also took him to a lot of Middle Eastern nations like Qatar and Saudi Arabia. My mother says their family used to eagerly await the postman for letters that would arrive 15 days late.

He was in Kuwait when Saddam Hussein's occupation occurred. Three months after my parents wedding, on Aug 2, all forms of communication were severed. My grandfather drove from Kuwait to Amman, Jordan on his Landcruiser, a journey of 1200kms. He then sold his car and took a flight to Bombay, then took a train to Chennai and finally a cab to our house. He landed at our house on August 23, exactly on his birthday.

My father remembers in awe when my grandfather once jumped onto a sunshade one storey high and then opened the door when he found it locked. This was when he was 50 years old. Patience was not his virtue.

Before the war, he was extremely rich. Relatives still say how lavishly he conducted the wedding and showered his first grandchild, me, with innumerable gifts. A year or two after the war, again he was left with nothing. This time he was in extreme depression. After that, military pensions were revised and he had an income from his Air Force career.

That was the peculiarity of his life, it always oscillated between extreme success and abject misery. He was definitely far from perfect. He was honest but highly impatient. Knowing him, he'd have wanted me to write about his flaws as well. He took his health for granted as he could never recollect falling sick. He loved to project himself as an important person. When I had a formality in admissions, he contemptuously claimed the college is gifted to have me and I wanted to just sink into the floor. Sometimes, he has been extremely rude because of his impatience when things don't go his way and has hurt many people, even within his family.

On the positive side, he had a huge group of diverse friends, could become friends with anyone. He was really generous. He loved him wife a lot. In his day and age, he said horoscopes are useless and proved that if you love someone, you'll stick by them. It was an arranged marriage but without any horoscope matching. Even in his last days, he used to remind my grandmother to put her eye drops and I used to tease him the sometimes I wonder who is the patient.

After that, he visited my uncle in US a couple of times and then sold his house in Thiruvanmiyur and built one in Velachery when I was 14 years old. I wore a half saree for the first time during the house warming and I had this thick curly long plait. Seeing that he used to call me இளவரசி, meaning princess. It was because of my grandparents, I've retained my messy hair for that sentiment.

That was the house we had the funeral.

I felt it was a good time to be single. For the first time, I yearned for a companion to rest my anguish. Apart from a few initial messages, I hadn't opened up entirely to anyone, waiting to be there for people in much more grief. I felt good knowing my grandfather never knew I was crying unstably, he only heard me giving him hope earnestly. I realised most of the reason I was crying was a sign of hopelessness. It was unsettling for me. I was not the type to cry that way. I don't think crying is weakness but chronic crying is definitely something to be looked into. Facing my loss on my own, has made me so strong overnight, that I feel I'm finally out of it.

I will miss you thatha, but I will cling onto the memories dearly. Your இளவரசி is back, stronger than ever before.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Coaching Classes : Boon or Bane?

Having attended a large number of coaching classes in high school, I feel qualified to write about this. Throughout my school life, it was a very touchy subject. Schools prided on being self-sufficient and looked down on students who went to coaching classes. Many peers did not respect me and assumed that whatever brilliance I exhibited was from prior knowledge from these classes. Relatives felt I was so stupid that I required coaching. Despite all this, why do students attend coaching classes and is it useful at all?

This is from my personal experience, my views cannot be generalised to any class. There is an ocean of difference between the quality of classes.

#1 Peer Pressure

This is the No.1 reason for me attending coaching classes in 9th grade. My parents felt I was losing out on an edge that some of my peers may have. Initially, I was disgruntled. I was not some idiot who required coaching. But when I joined there, I loved it. I made lasting friendships. I was a painfully shy and quiet kid. I doubt I learned anything useful but I enjoyed the company.

#2 The Difference in Syllabus

This I felt at the end of 10th grade. When I attempted to solve previous JEE papers, I was at a clear loss. There is a humongous leap from 10th syllabus to 11th. And the gap is even more prominent with entrance exams. So, I applied for many IIT-JEE coaching institutes. I could not afford half of them. Then, at a tradeoff between quality and cost, I settled at the best option available to me. Even the coaching classes had an entrance exam! Very soon, there'll be coaching classes for those entrances :P

#3 School vs. Coaching

This is where the crux of the issue lies I feel. Most school teachers concentrate on completing the syllabus and most coaching classes concentrate on clearing ranks. Amidst these crazy races, the central goal of learning, the concept, is lost. Again, this is a sweeping generalization as I am going to list a few exceptions below. It is not particularly anybody's fault. As a result oriented society, working in a limited time-frame, say 2-4 years, we are fanatic about achieving a goal and these are the paths available to them.

#4 Engaging Children

With working parents and distracted teenagers, coaching classes became puddles of guaranteed concenration. It has become a teenager creche if I may go as far as that. Like I mentioned before, I made a lot of meaningful friendships, sometimes with those professors themselves!

#5 Small Sizes

Since a lot of school teachers do not to take subjects to a required depth, many coaching classes thrive. I found this to be particularly true for Physics. I fell in love with the subject at coaching classes. Once again, I'm emphasizing that school teachers are not to blame. As they have a class of students with varying abilities and interest, more often than not, they have to pander to the lowest common denominator.

The Million Dollar Question: Did these classes help?

First, let me list the classes I went for. Ninth and Tenth standard, I went for coaching in Science and Math, It was mostly concept oriented. I remember he used to make fun of my teachers for making mistakes and I used to pounce on him and defend them. Simply because the complaints he picked up were from students who were not paying attention to my teachers in the first place :P I liked going there, it was light, funny and in words of another coaching prof, "Intellectual Entertainment". I felt like it was brain exercise. Plus, I was an insufferable know-it-all at that time, it was fun :P Both, to be made fun of and to be myself :D In 11th I went for IIT Coaching. That was when I fell in love with Physics. I could not cope with the strenuous hours. I quit mid-way but continued learning Organic Chemistry. Then, in 12th I went to three coaching classes, Math, Physics and Chemistry. I dropped out of chemistry in 2-3 months. My math mam became a very good friend, she used to  find mistakes in questions where my answers were correct, something I had not experienced before. She used to call them compensating errors. Last but definitely not the least, I am indebted lifelong to that Physics coaching sir. What was previously a love for Physics, he made me win her hand. He instilled so much confidence in me and sharpened my skills.

I do not know how much they contributed individually. If I had not gone for any of these coaching, I would not have got into a premier institute.  Collectively, for me, they worked. That is because I love to study. I think if you are invested in these classes and have a yearning to learn new things, it's a boon. If you go there because your parents or friends told you so, it's a bane. I could not gain this expertise in school. Why that is, is not completely clear to me. I have a hunch it is because we have large classrooms and less teachers that we cannot get as much individual attention as we deserve.

Any Drawbacks?

The first time I thought my life was meaningless, I was 16. The tremendous pressure to achieve is something no child should have to undergo. I do not think coaching classes are to blame per se. If the teaching methodologies come together, such that if you put effort in school, you can achieve the results you desire, nothing would be better than that. Many students coach weak students after school. If you coach students at the other end of the spectrum as well, that would be awesome. That was the irony of the situation. Most people think that the lives of students like me who enjoy studying are rosy and set. It is very difficult to fathom how rocky their roads are.


I didn't go for any coaching during college. College syllabus was quite self contained. I felt the difficulty level was 10% of what I needed to understand in school. I qualified in GATE as well without coaching. I didn't score a great rank but just qualified. I went for CAT coaching and that was a complete unexpected disaster, Thankfully. I think after that kind of effort at schhol, studying just became easy.

Would I put my kids in coaching classes?

I wouldn't because I'd be one hell of a teacher for them ;)

Also, this post is based on a conversation when me and my friend were discussing we should start a coaching class in case we don't graduate :P

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Things I've done on Facebook That I'm not Particularly Proud of

Hi, I can't believe I'm writing this. I'm having a high fever and that might explain why I am being so reckless. My justification is I'm sure this is all relatable.

#1 Stalking
I have stalked plenty of profiles on Facebook. No, it's not a creepy way of stalking into a complete stranger's profile. Maybe it is, that's up to you to judge. My parents are trying to find a suitable match for me and when they give me someone's name and college, I'll be stalking his profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Quora. Most often than not, Quora gives you a picture of his character. But none of my detective skills have paid off as the horoscopes won't match and apparently if my parents do not get a match by this August, I'm not getting married for a long time!

#ForeverAlone #LoveYourCareer

#2 Trying to get 100 likes on a Profile Photo
I am so guilty of this obsession when I started using Facebook. There are some standards I hold dear. I won't directly ask anyone to like my photo. But I will dutifully like everyone's profile photo change. Believe me, girls have a long memory. We know when we see your profile photo change, whether you liked our previous profile photo or not :P Whether we use that information or not depends on how our mood is that particular day. First the photo will be visible to Friends except Acquaintances, then paranoia will drive me to restrict it to a Close Friends circle. I never crossed 100 on the photos I tried :P


#3 Trying to get untagged from a photo

Yes, I do some questionable things with my friends that I definitely don't want some of my friends to see :P Before you go overboard with your imagination and think of shady places, it would mostly be a dinner I went out without informing my parents on the spur of the moment. Or some photo in which I look hideous and I do not want to get advice on how to look better. The scramble to get untagged from that photo is something Michael Phelps would be proud of!


#4 Over-reacting to Social Posts

If some post is anti-feminist, no matter how obscure the post, the fact that one of my friends shared it makes me explode like dynamite. This may or may not be a good thing. Sometimes I feel guilty, that the person is not to blame, they are also products of the society. Then I'll feel if we are to change the society, we need to call this out. To make up for it, I'll like all other posts by the said person to assure that it was that one post and not that person that affected me.


#5 Judging People by their Online Status on Facebook

Yes I have done this :P Forget blue ticks on WhatsApp. If someone is online on Facebook and not answering me on WhatsApp, a call will be resounding soon :P



All these things are absolutely useless as you'll realize when the years tumble down. It's been seven years since I started using Facebook. When I didn't try I got many likes for many ordinary, run-of-the-mill photos because they depicted me. The maximum likes I've got are for my academic achievements and I'm proud of that. My communication with my parents has improved by and large such that untagging isn't too much of a deal. I still do react to anti-feminist or sexist posts, I do think everyone benefits from feminism and there is a negative connotation behind it today. But I try not to over-react. It's a balance I still struggle to find. I've stopped seeing who's online on Facebook completely. People who care about you will talk to you, meet you, no matter what, You don't have to put the effort for it. We're adults, we've become busy, there is no need to feel lonely. Finally, yes, stalking in small doses is fine as long as it's not the only basis of your opinion of a new person.

Facebook has brought a lot of people distant and near together and given us exciting ways to share, learn and grow. Let's use it to celebrate our lives on this planet together!

This is my entry for the 'Tagged' contest by 'The Chennai Bloggers Club'. 'Tagged' is a new book releasing this May by debut author Kaarthika. Here is the link to pre order the book -… .

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Speaking on Stage

About a month back, I gave a talk on women in technology. This is the blog edition where I pretty much describe how the day went.

First of all, I was very excited when I was approached to give a talk on something that I'm passionate about. I was also touched by the confidence the organizers had in me even though they had never heard me talk.

I started preparing for it, in true Indian student style, two days before the day. I had spent more time sharing pics than I had in actually preparing for the talk. That guilt surged in me and I worked hard to produce the best talk I can.

I enjoy talking on stage. I have a stage accent, that may be borderline annoying to people who aren't used to it, but to me, it sounds of dignity and assertion. I had thought-provoking questions, an element of comedy and a few slides. My theme was to point out that there is a requirement to reach out to women, give out true stories and present alternate societies in a compelling way.

With all these intentions, I arrived at the venue and predictably got lost. By the time I found my way, the lift wasn't working. Welcomed auspiciously thus, I walked into the venue. I was one of the first people to arrive.

Nobody is going to come. At this stage, I became nervous. No matter what the situation was going to be in front of me, a packed audience or a desert without a fly or a crow, I was nervous.

Finally, the event started to about a 120-member strong audience. The first speaker spoke so casually about her life and I was astounded by many similarities. But much to my chagrin, this was not a formal talk! There she was jumping on heels and pretty much connecting with the audience. I started taking mental notes. I realized my formal self is not going to fly with this audience.

However, I'm somebody who plans out every detail in my mind's eye. To change my approach completely in the last moment made my blood pressure shoot up! I delved into the chaotic mass of memories and pulled out bits of stand-up comedy, initial attempts at English and school and a bit of a gossipy voice I heard somewhere and strung together an accent. I think it made me more relatable.

Well, I started off without a mike and nobody could hear me at the back. Years of being appointed leader in school has given me a loud voice albeit it is often mellowed down due to a lack of confidence. With a silent exhalation where I imagined my fears disappearing, I started once again.

The rest is history. I was talking about me, things that matter to me. The words came effortlessly. Yes, the audience was laughing, they were catching my eye, they were paying attention, with every passing slide my confidence soared. Before this experience, any attempt at me being funny would be an abysmal fail because the intersection of the things I find funny and what others find funny is usually the null set.

At the end of it all, I enjoyed the questions. They brought out facets of my character that I had hitherto not explored.

I'm really happy to have had this experience. I had a lot of positive feedback after the talk. As a person, I also feel like I'm steadily improving my emotional stability with personal altering experiences like this.

Kudos to Swathi and Karthik from Skcript who invited me for the Google Women Tech Maker's event. Everybody was a winner that day!

To sum up, I am grateful to my parents and teachers who refused to give up on my painful shyness and pushed me on to the stage. It is on stage that I learned to face my fears and it is there that I learned that I can help conquer others' fears as well.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


It has been such a long time since I wrote on history. Today my fascination has been captured by Aryabhata. It started with a conversation I had with my father this morning. He reflected that all sculptures of Varaha, the boar avatar of Vishnu who lifted the Earth from infinite waters, clearly depict that the Earth was round.

I thought the theory that the Earth was round was known somewhere in the 1500s when Ferdinand Magellan travelled around the world and reached the point at which he started even though he never changed direction. I have recently been disappointed to know that was just a practical demonstration and that the fact was known much earlier by the Greeks.

Curious, I wanted to find out which was the earliest source that stated that the Earth was round in India and stumbled upon Aryabhata. Not only did he know that the Earth was round, he also gave an excellent approximation for the Earth's equatorial circumference. All by the age of 23!

This was a work written in the fifth century. Naturally, any likeness of his face has been lost to the sands of time. Precious few details remain from his personal life. He migrated to Patna for higher studies and there is some evidence to show that he was the head of a university.

Sanskrit writing. Image: Diggleburnz, via Flickr.

One of the most striking features that I find is his strict adherence to complex Sankrit poetic metre while stating facts and proofs. He must be an accomplished poet and his command over the language must've been high. It is heartening to see such precise rationality go hand in hand with elastic creativity.

It also makes you understand why some verses went thus:

"Add four to 100, multiply by eight, and then add 62,000. By this rule the circumference of a circle with a diameter of 20,000 can be approached."

This verse also propounded the value of pi to an accuracy of 4 decimals.

There is plenty of material online on what Aryabhata has written that would interest a mathematician. For a researcher like me, it was strong feeling of deja-vu to see him cite his sources to earlier Vedic texts.

He also challenged religious authorities in the Rahu-Ketu theory of eclipses and stated that shadows were responsible for the same.

I feel somewhere in the pace of modernity, we've forgotten the sheer wonder of nature. Driven as we are by applications, sending rockets and creating engineering marvels, we've left the wonders of the galaxy, the stars and the poetry that exists in the universe.

These days, the only time we are bothered about planets is astrology. True story by the way, when my mother tried to say no to an unfavourable proposal, the opposite party did not consider mismatch in education, character or temperament as a valid ground for declination but was completely convinced by a mismatch in horoscopes!

Stars are fusion reactors out there.
They may no longer be there,
as we see them frozen in time.
But to the child in me, that looks at the night sky,
They are twinkling marvels, just making me feel sublime.

Tonight, I plan to be drenched in star light once again. You?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Love Letter

This has to be the most poignant love letter I've received till date and thought I'd share it.


You are the most wonderful person I've met. I know you get defensive whenever someone compliments you but I also know that you secretly enjoy it. So I'm not going to hold back anything I feel.

You are so committed to your work, you're doing a PhD. You love to teach, to help. You want to serve people. You're so patriotic. You're multi-faceted, you cook, you dance, you compere, you write, you play the keyboard and you do all of them so diligently. I've never seen anyone else so persistent in their goals nor so dedicated.

That's what I love about you. It's not that I'm impressed only when you praise me or converse with me, your existence itself is an inspiration to me. Your attitude pushes me further, to better myself.

As a person, you're loyal, humble and just. You never put any of your friends down and you could have 1001 meetings, you'll somehow manage to help people. You make my conscience sharper.

I love the way you look at people in the eye and speak. What beautiful eyes, just like a doe with those curly eyelashes. You make me feel confident.

And you never get angry, how do you not get angry. Sure, things upset you, irritate you, but you never get angry. You do get rude sometimes when you're cornered, but anger doesn't engulf you and I've never heard you shout. You make me check my temper.

Passion is what drives you. It is the core of your existence. The heat from it is so palpable, that it ignites the hearts of its neighbours as well.

But I am not like you. Though you enrich my life and make it so much better, I get angry. I get angry when you feel sad with the same intensity as your passion. I get angry that you let people take you for granted. I feel angry you put yourself for the last. I feel angry when you don't stand up for yourself.

I know you would just want me to let it go. I know you'd say that this is just your karma.

No one as beautiful as you should suffer so much. Pain is inevitable, suffering is not. Love heals all wounds. Why do you not allow our honeyed rays of love soothe the rough sores on your heart?

Oh you're not perfect, you know I've to be honest. You have a tough exterior and a super soft personality ensconced inside. It misleads people. You are extremely absent minded, and no it is not a compliment. While you are brilliant in academics, you are clueless about things everybody know.

That is also so lovable though. You exist in dichotomies, suspended between euphoric happiness and abject misery, sparkling brilliance and absolute stupidity.

Never forget I'm always there for you, a cushion for your fall, a shoulder for your tears, a ear for your fears and a pillow for your dreams. My greatest happiness lies in you soaring above the clouds with your famous Mona Lisa smile.

I love you, just how you are.

With Love,
Your Soul

No matter whether someone is in a relationship or is single, self-love is so important. I thought this was a quirky way to explore that where I wrote a love letter to myself.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Invisible Gender

This post is dedicated to people who identify themselves with the third gender. In India, transgenders have often been regarded holy. However, that has not protected them from discrimination at work or even inclusion in our society. While discrimination is a fundamental problem in India along the lines of gender, economy, caste and religion, we interact with all these sections of society. We're friends with people from different religions and economies but how many of us have ever had the opportunity to talk normally with a transgender?

In my experience, I've awkwardly thrust money into their hands at traffic lights, intimidated and afraid.

In this gloomy scenario, I was pleased to find that the Bharatanatyam teacher at my college is a transgender. She was fresh and amazing. She was very passionate about the dance form and had trained rigorously for years.

There wasn't an iota of awkwardness. All my initial inhibitions had just melted. I felt proud of my institution for not discriminating against her.

It opened up a platform for discussion on this pressing issue and gave hope for the winds of change. Everybody has a bit of femininity and masculinity in them. Biologically, we have both hormones - testosterone and estrogen. Some of us like to express ourselves in different ways. While the society today doesn't bat an eyelid at a woman who dons a suit, it looks down upon men who outwardly exhibit feminine characteristics. I think there is a subtext here which implies manliness is more superior, but that is just my view. After doing some cursory Wikipedia based research, I was happy to see that Tamil Nadu had a lot of schemes for the improvement of their welfare.

I think things are looking better. Recently, I saw a band perform which comprised completely of transgenders. I envision a day in the future when a man can wear feminine clothes and receive the same supreme unconcern as a woman in masculine clothes.