Has Facebook made you a better person ?

Positive-Quotes-Facebook-Covers-18

I love Facebook and I am on Facebook because I love to share.

so cute

So cute

( all picture credits : Internet )

I was recently complimented by a friend, who thought many of my posts were useful and informative, along with updates of events and people in my life. So finally, here was one person who was not like ‘you-are-always-on-Facebook’ types. I have heard that so often. Thank you friend !

Those typified types, tell me this : So how do you know I am on Facebook all the time, if you aren’t too ? And the difference being, that I count (read matter) on Facebook and you don’t ! Because all you do is snoop into peoples’ lives willingly and then whine about it. And you either have nothing worth sharing, or are a private person or not sociable enough. Ha ! I finally said it and it makes me feel good !!

This positive comment by my friend egged me on taking up my pen, oops, the keyboard! Not that I had not given it a thought earlier, but this was the prompt probably I was waiting for.

Facebook has certainly improved the quality of life for many of us. Those that use Facebook judiciously – those that don’t let it consume their waking and sleeping hours that is.

And please , please lets leave out exceptions in this forum – those that have misunderstood this platform. Hope they learn the ropes some day.

Facebook has made some us of better writers than we used to be. There is a writer, be it of prose, or poetry latent in most of us. Isn’t that very evident everyday as you see scores of updates, film-reviews , sports-discussions and debates flying across Facebook? Who else would have given us this platform to be as articulate as we are now? I am sure language skills have heightened along the way too! Some are still not there, but they will be, given time I guess.

Dont agree, depends on how you use it

Dont agree, depends on how you use it

About 1 billion people used Facebook on a single day going by the stats provided by Facebook as on August 24, 2015. More than 1.49 billion active users access Facebook worldwide on a monthly basis and they are counting. So, a change coming into so many lives.

Has Facebook made us better thinkers ? It’s important that you keep good company even on Facebook !! But yes, I think it has made us better thinkers. To all those who post opinions, inspirational photos , start debates on sociopolitical issues that affect or torment all, or most of us, kudos to you! You want to make a difference and bring in a change by motivating people to think. A sweeping change is a far-fetched dream, but even if a percentage of the population or authorities take cognizance of it, we have risen by a few notches. We are in the process, just look at the stats:

Every 60 seconds , 510 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded.

Facebook has made us better photographers. There are apparently 300 million photo uploads everyday. Isnt that mind-boggling? Where was this love of photography universally prior to the spring of 2004, when Mark Zuckerberg along with his college room-mates launched Facebook ? I am sure the first few hundred postings were merely photographs and nothing else. We have become more creative , more aware of camera angles, of creative lighting and of editing.

Wondering what to do about the driver's licence part!

Wondering what to do about the driver’s licence part!

I can hear someone from the side-wings hiss “but you have all become narcissists”. I was expecting this ! But come with me, lets open this door and see whats inside.

Facebook has opened the doors of awareness. Made us more aware of ourselves and our surroundings. Aren’t we all better groomed today, thanks to Facebook in part? Now admit it, as you step out of your rooms, all dressed , be it for work or an outing, whats the first thing that comes to mind? Your phone camera ! So,  isn’t a lot more effort going into making yourself more presentable ? That’s not being narcissistic, that’s being more careful about one-self.

Ha ha !

Ha ha !

We are becoming our own stylists and who is motivating us ? Like-minded fellow beings posting their pictures in various attires. A thumbs up to that.

There is another hiss this time even meaner ‘but you are all a group of attention-seekers’ !!!!!!!

Oh come on, give me a break!

Lets go back a bit in time. Youngsters stay where you are, you may not understand this journey. Those whose childhoods were spent in the 20th century – do you remember those moments of excitement, when you donned new clothes for festivals and the like and you ran around to members of your family showing off your attire ? Why even to neighbours sometimes !! What would you do if you had a social media platform then?

Gotcha ! As homo-sapiens we crave for appreciation, it’s a trait typical to our species.

We share our thoughts and photographs on Facebook because we want to. Your prerogative to like them or not. But do look at the stats again here. On an average, the Like and Share buttons are used and viewed across almost 10 million websites daily, as of 10/2/2014. It must have grown by leaps – we are coming to the close of 2015.

So yes, it makes us feel good to be recognised and appreciatedFB fans

Facebook has turned some of us into social activists of sorts. There is a streak of goodness in most of us humans. Mind you, we are not taking pictures of ourselves all the time. We bring out our phone cameras when we want to right a wrong too – on the streets, at work, at home, at cinema halls et al. And we post them on Facebook – to create awareness and bring about a change in our attitudes and behaviour, to become more responsible. It has worked many a time, bringing about a paradigm shift in the way we conduct ourselves and in the way our politicians and bureaucrats have risen up to occasions.

Now this is a happening of this afternoon. Driving back home after lunch, we saw a few metal road dividers that had toppled on a busy stretch of road in Adyar in Chennai. My son who is an actor, pulled over, crossed the street and struggled to put them back in place. I could see that they were not only heavy but chained to one another and he was struggling to get them up. Another Samaritan came lent a hand and the road dividers were back in place. Proud mom that I was, attempted to videograph it, but in my excitement forgot to click the start button on my phone-camera. I would have loved to post it on Facebook, but missed a golden opportunity of conveying a sense of responsibility in civic life.

Another occasion where I was able to get a needy student funds for her education through Facebook. A note of thank you to my  lovely friends – Ramesh Kalghatgi, Sateesh Jadhav and Richa Kapoor.

There is a bit of a leader in all of us. Todays generations are richer in terms of life-experiences than the previous ones and the lessons gained from it are manifold. I am not sure if we have become better people, but we certainly have gained an angle of ‘smartness’ if you know what I mean. So our heads are teeming with ideas and concepts for change in ourselves, fellow-beings and the SYSTEM. We want to share them, collect opinions and start a campaign perhaps. So we hit Facebook. Be honest, don’t tell me you haven’t re-looked at your personality* and made a few changes in the way you think and live, after reading some sensible posts!

*Personality as in the sum-total of the physical, mental, emotional and social characteristics of an individual (defn. in psychology)

Golden key and puzzle pieces - 3d render illustration

Pic courtesy : Corporate Alliance

Above all else, Facebook has reconnected us to family and friends of far and near. How else would we be updated of family trees; of additions to and exits from families? Of achievements and events of those that we care about ?

Facebook has made us better shoppers. It has changed our life-styles for the better. Through exchange of ideas on lifestyle pages and Google analytics. Facebook and Google are actually working on our behalf to up our style-quotient, for home and fashion ! I like it. I like shopping suggestions being splashed across my page. To open the purse-strings or not is my choice, though most often I give in to the temptation !!

Facebook has boosted businesses. Right ? I can see several nods from all those that have utilised Facebook for promoting and building their businesses. Ad-spend on Facebook is fast catching up. Revenue from advertising on Facebook totalled a cool $3.54 billion in the first quarter of 2015 !! Facebook is too big to ignore. And 42% of marketers the world over have reported that Facebook is critical to their business.

FB for business

Talking of business, there is something I wouldn’t do – I wouldn’t post negative reviews or comments about a business, a movie or a sportsperson. This of-course is my personal preference. A mountain of an effort would have gone into starting or building a business, hundreds would have slogged for the making of a movie – I am not going to gainsay them, even if I feel let down. While I do understand the corrective powers of social media over man and his handiwork, I have till date not been able to take up cudgels on social media. I could be wrong, but I am in doubt and so I stay away.

Facebook in a way is the step sister of e-commerce. Selling on Facebook incorporating some of the disciplines of etailing has turned heads of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) into better strategists, better negotiators, has fostered better employer-employee relations and brought together better logistics partners.

 Facebook has made many of us tech-savvy.

Grandma

Don’t we all have at least one person in our immediate or extended families, that has embraced technology by the sheer lure of Facebook ? Good enough.

On a lighter note, why even our domestic help have started updating statuses on Facebook. The downside of this being, it takes some education to make sensible use of the platform.

Following close on its heels are various apps being downloaded to make better use of Facebook for personal gains or business. And that means more business opportunities for tech people like app developers and advertisers.

Gosh! I am finding it really hard to compartmentalize , one benefit permeating into the other. That’s how much Facebook has occupied our space.

Facebook has created job-opportunities. Out of the several, I can think of Social Media Managers as the biggest beneficiaries. Those that manage celebrity pages, business pages, content writers, graphic designers, illustrators, online advertising and marketing strategists and so many more. Let me tell you, this is an exciting field that I am personally kicked about.

social media manager

Pic courtesy : Business 2 Community

16 million local business pages were created by May 2013. I don’t have the current stats though.

Facebook has made us better home-makers. Given a choice I would like to devour every bit of information on the net, and specifically Facebook. But that would mean ‘only reading, no time for implementation’ !! Home décor ideas, cooking tips, fitness trends, nutrition plans, options in appliances, party and wedding planning, travel destinations……how much can we digest ? But all for the good. I stand better equipped today because I am better informed. Agree ?

Is Facebook secure ? Oh please, this is quite clichéd ! It is as secure as you can make it to be. Any gap that you leave in matters of security online or offline, be sure of it being invaded upon.

I have not been on the receiving end of anything unpleasant on Facebook. Or am I saying it too soon ??? The only exception being a fake profile was once created with my name and display picture which was soon thwarted by Facebook on my reporting it.

I could have left out some other plusses of Facebook, please add them in your comments if I have. This is an attempt to bringing out the positives of Facebook, because that’s the way I see it and use it. Nothing is perfect and some could see a few accompanying minuses of the platform, but then again, you can’t have the cake and eat it too! Use Facebook as you please, use it wisely.

Like FB

I would love to hear your comments !

Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge – Two feelings and an object !

A picture clicked one early morning in the sleepy town of Mysore in Karnataka , India , while on a walk. Two lines of thoughts shot across my mind at that moment. A sense of emptiness . Or a round of hot aromatic cups of coffee had been shared between a family before the busy-ness of the day rushed in. Much later in the day as I took a re-look in my phone camera did I notice the distressed state of two of the chairs. The beautiful chairs look coveted and probably would be refurbished soon. As much as that may be , I , for reasons unknown had no heart to delete it from my gallery and here we are.

Poor light you may say , but it’s precisely that which has made this photograph warm and endearing to me. Care and comfort as its title. This is a cousin that loves her puppy to distraction.

Would you guess what these are , unless you have seen them before ? Seats in the lobby of a star hotel. Not that I found them particularly pretty , but they just caught my attention. Amn’t I glad I didn’t delete these pictures ! As a blogger , every bit of your thought and every pic is food for thought and the pen ! Thank you WordPress !

Mirror musings , the Illusionist , the Therapist

Mirrors are Enhancers , of Space , Mind and Science

I had a garden in my bathroom and I lost it when my bathroom mirror crashed ! I lost the greenery , I lost the space , and music doesn’t sound the same anymore ! Where has all the brightness gone ? My bathroom is quite pretty but it has lost its soul ! I wish I had taken a picture while it adorned my bathroom. The mirror that had given me light , space and sound broke a few days back , shattering my chilling out zone. Hung right opposite the door of the bathroom which in turn faces a large window , the mirror was my gateway to a verdant surrounding. It was an illusion alright , mirrors are illusionists , but it felt like I was amidst plants and flowers , the image lifting my spirits every time I stood in front of the mirror , to brush my teeth or remove my makeup.

Light

The mirror brightened up my bathroom reflecting sunshine from the outside , through the door and the window opposite. Another window is strategically located at a 90 degree angle to the mirror with a flowering creeper on its outside and it only enhanced the feel of the room . Sunbeams played hide and seek , while the leaves and branches of the trees swaying in the breeze, gave me a sense of well-being and soothed my mind ! But now , with the mirror gone , feels denuded.

Space

I now feel claustrophobic ! Mirrors are space-enhancers , right ? With my illusionist gone , it feels like I am walking into the wall opposite every time I step into the bathroom.

Sound

You all know there are acoustic mirrors , mirrors that reflect sound waves. Such mirrors were used in Britain during World War II to detect sound waves from the enemy camp and their ammunition. There are , apparently a few such mirrors still around the coast of Britain , but alas , not easily accessible to the public or the tourists. I am now certain that my bathroom mirror was close to being an acoustic mirror , probably by default , I don’t remember having paid heavily for it. But , yes , music sounded better with the mirror in place . One of those that are hooked to music , I keep my bluetooth speaker tucked in a dry corner. But with the mirror gone , it sounds flat now. Wondering why I haven’t got myself a new gleaming one ? Work has been hectic , but will find time to do mirror-shopping in a day or two , else I may slip into depression ! And yours truly is not alone in this , my family cribs about it too. Have you all heard of the joke where two houseflies are identified as one male and other female ? The fly that perched itself on the beer bottle being a male and the other that buzzed in front of the mirror , the female . No longer does this hold ground. I love beer as much as the men in my life are obsessed with mirrors ! On a lighter note , ha ha ! And while on this , a few mirror-facts.

Mirrors and healing

This world would be a barren place without mirrors. While they are good for your vanity they are therapeutic too. Neuroscientists work with mirrors and they are used for certain kinds of healing , specially with phantom limbs attached onto amputated limbs. Its called mirror-therapy  , invented by Vilayanur S Ramachandran , using mirror-boxes. Click on the two links , very informative.

Mirrors and moods

I have noticed , in myself and in others that most often , we look into mirrors in happy , cheerful moods. Very rarely does the mirror attract grey moods , or perhaps once in a while , like in the movies when actors emote in front of mirrors , and that’s clearly a cinematic touch. We stop by , even if it’s a distant mirror in the airport or a hotel , to look into when upbeat , but give it a miss in lesser moods. Agree ? But your mirror can be your best friend and critic and its fine if you spend time every day looking at yourself. ( not letting it become an obsession though ) As Tennessee Williams puts it , “There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realise that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors.”

Or improve on what you did not like , would be MY take.

Mirror self-recognition

I guess humans take to mirrors most naturally , it is said children usually develop mirror self-recognition at 24 months. But this world is full of differences and that is what makes it worthwhile. In countries like Fiji and Kenya , children failed to pass tests of mirror self-recognition even at six years of age and exhibited reactions of shock ! Not because they are genetically or psychologically different from the rest of us , but because of cultural differences , in the way mirrors are used or the importance placed on mirrors in those habitats.

Mirrors and animals

Well , many animals are observed to be indifferent to reflections in mirrors. Do pets pass the mirror self recognition test ? Those that have pets can tell , I don’t have one , so am unsure. Researchers have tried this experiment and its interesting. They marked a few elephants and gorillas on their faces and led them to mirrors. While elephants did exhibit self recognition in mirrors , they remained unperturbed by the marks and were observed to have walked away. However , repeated exposure of the marks to the pachyderms in the mirror finally led one elephant to try and touch the real mark on its forehead.

Elephant and marks

Pic courtesy : Psychology forA.com

But gorillas is another story. These animals are said to be easily embarrassed. On looking at their marked images , they were observed to scurry to a private place to rub away the marks they saw on themselves in the mirrors. Smart ones. Like us.

Gorrillas and mirrors

Image courtesy : Rebecca Turner

This marking method has revealed that other species could also be much more self-aware than we give them credit for. Most of them seem to be mammals – chimpanzees , orangutans , bonobos , gorillas , elephants , dolphins , killer whales and such. Yes , close to us.

True Mirrors

Keeping the most interesting to the last. What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror ? You think the mirror reverses your image , right ? Your left shows as the mirror image’s right ( because the mirror image is facing you ? ) and vice-versa. We told you mirror is the best illusionist. But wait , a true mirror concept was developed , where the user got to see their reflection as others would see them , again for reasons of vanity , to effectively apply makeup ! Try this and you will love it. Position two mirrors at 90º angle and look at yourself where the two mirrors join. Lift your right hand and your mirror image will lift its right hand too ! Lift your left hand and your mirror image will lift its left hand too ! Isn’t that how the world sees you ? I tried my hand at it and this is the best I could do at an available source.

I remember , two-generations old grandmas chiding us when we looked into mirrors very often as little children. Their intentions were noble and it was the grand old days , but times have changed and how , we now live in a world of mirrors , powered by mirrors. I look forward to your mirror-experiences , share if you have any.

The Buddha and Marigold

Meditative moments with the Buddha and the Marigolds

A Buddha image or a statue never fails to stop me in my tracks , captivate me and transport me to at least a few minutes of private contemplation even in a public place. Those few minutes are meditative , powerful enough to permeate my being with small bouts of serenity.

I was at a friend’s place for a party last night and was drawn to this figure of the Buddha in her living room even amidst boisterous conversations and a lot of gaiety. The lighting helped , or rather the meagre lighting helped , making it all at once dramatic and striking. I stood there transfixed for sometime , completely oblivious to the chatter of the party , my mind captured by the beauty of the Buddha , the subtle light of the lamps lending lambency and the almost silent trickle of water in the base that glistened and twinkled. The yellow marigolds only seemed to add a sense of worship to that corner of the room. I had to capture the visual beauty. Those few minutes were meditative.

So enraptured by this visual , I am certain to see this image in my mind’s eye every time I think of Buddha.

I was drawn to the yellow marigolds equally , backlit beautifully. I wondered if the flowers had been placed there for worship or for the purpose of decoration , could be both ! The hostess of the house is spiritually inclined and is a Bharatanatyam dancer along with being into wedding planning. That speaks for the aesthetics !

Lotus and marigold are two flowers primarily used to worship Buddha and decorate the place of his worship.

Marigolds symbolise auspiciousness in Hinduism. Yellow and orange also signify renunciation and are ‘the colours’ used during our rituals in various ways to signify surrender to the higher being. May I take you back to my earlier post Orange Glory the Colour of India in response to the Daily Post photo challenge  to bring home the point ?

More interesting would be what is often quoted as a significant reason to using marigold during worship in Hinduism. The flower has a stout , erect stalk , which sometimes makes it hard to pluck it from the plant. In fact , the Sanskrit name for marigold is ‘Sthulapushpa’ , which signifies exactly that.

It symbolizes trust and faith in the Divine and imbues the worshipper with a will to overcome obstacles along with the intent of surrender to the lord.

Some more in praise of the marigold. It is known to have protective properties. Marigold does not have a pleasant odour , unlike most other flowers and yet is used for worship and decoration. Wondering why ? The flower is often strung into a sort of a garland called the torana , hung above the doors of traditional Indian homes and the unpleasant odour is said to keep insects at bay. The same goes for worship-time. It keeps insects away from the place of worship and the idol.

Another instance from the past when I got rooted to the spot on beholding this Buddha in a terrace garden at another party. Another private moment of contemplation.

Fengshui Buddha

The Buddha for Fengshui

India , Thailand and Cambodia have several Buddhist monasteries all over ; have visited most of them. My mind is now set to tour Leh Ladakh , Tibet and Nepal. The Buddha calling ! Insha’Allah !

Boxes – Ephemeral joy of shopping

The Evanescence of the Box-moment !

ephemeral joy boxes

Ephemeral joy in boxes

Boxes are a bit like the future. Those whose contents are our coveted products. Those that we pay for in the shops. Those that are cherishingly thrust into shopping bags and brought home. Those sealed paper board cartons that hold the magic and promise of the unexplored.

I am dreaming of the scent that is treasured in the perfume box , of the richness in the chocolate box , of the softness in the face-cream box , I will soon bask in those sensuous feelings and the aniticipation makes it all the more exciting. Thats why boxes are a bit like the future , they signify my dreams , absolutely material at the moment. And the moment of unravelling the goodies within – I call it the  ephemeral moment.

It all begins even while I set my eyes on the goodies at the shop counters. A sense of ownership as you pay for them ; the weight and feel of the shopping bags a feel good factor ! An impatient journey home , cant wait to open the treasures !

It gives me a high , as I very carefully slit open the box-cartons. Oh , they even smell so good , a certain something fragrance of the fresh cartons wrapped in shimmering glossy cellophane ! Akin to the heady , crisp aroma of new paper and ink. Here is why I may never read from Kindle.

There , I am in that ephemeral moment ,…..it’s now fleeting and in a few seconds will be gone ! A future-like instant unfolding into the present slips by to become the past !

Fresh Collage – Dollops from Here and There

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Fresh.”

The word Fresh is mnemonic ! Tired after a tough day of work , this word fresh conjured up thoughts of water , flowers and dawn when I opened my desktop and settled down in the blogging world with a cup of coffee. And true to my thoughts and even to the beverage on my table , I found these pictures clicked sometime in the past. Though working on another post , couldnt resist posting this one. Fresh !

Fresh bonsai Adenium bloom in my garden

Fresh bonsai Adenium bloom in my garden

Early morning rays streaming through a door and lighting up the feet of the deity at a temple. This is an archaelogical wonder ! Fresh fragrances of the flowers and incense , fresh water for the rituals of the morning , fresh minds , freshness greets every worshipper as you step into the precincts of the temple.

Early morning rays , fresh to the mind

Early morning rays , fresh to the mind

As coincidence would have it , today is festival time in some parts of India. ‘Ugadi the festival is called and it signifies the onset of spring/summer and the beginning of the new year , the lunar calendar way .This platter below which is readied for the festival is freshness incarnate , what with the the freshly cracked coconut , the sliced raw mango , a cube of jaggery , freshly plucked neem flowers , freshly ground spicepowder and salt , oh wait , salt is the odd-man-out here !!!!!! So , we grate and mix all of the above and eat tiny portions of the mixture. Symbolic ! The sweetness of the coconut and jaggery , the sourness of the raw mango and tamarind , the wee-bit-bitterness of the neem flowers , the salt and the spice signifying the highs and lows of life. As kids we we tried in vain to escape eating this , but our elders almost always manged to feed us with it. We would grimace and gulp it down , without as much as chewing it. And now , I feed it to my son , history repeating !

Ugadi platter , all things fresh

Ugadi platter , all things fresh

And here’s to the effervescence of freshly brewed South Indian filter coffee ( kaapi ). The photo I clicked a month ago at breakfast at Hotel Siddharth in the sleepy town of Mysore comes handy now. Blogging has taught me to keep my ears , eyes , nose , mouth open and my camera poised  , you never know what challenge The Daily Post is going to throw every week !!!!!! We , Indians relish our beverages , tea and coffee in short glasses sometimes. You guys must try it while in India , the taste and feel  is undenaibly superior.

Fresh coffee in short glasses , not cups

Fresh coffee in short glasses , not cups

You must be wondering how random this is getting , but its in keeping with the Fresh challenge , right ?

Chakku , fresh after her bath

Chakku , fresh after her bath

So here is this Chakku , for thats her name , fresh after her bath ; after all the fuss and the squealing and snapping and growling at the bath , she is being featured in a blog. Wish she could know that !

Hey , I actually feel fresh after writing so much about the attribute despite an exhausting day. Its all about our thoughts , right ? On that note , I must narrate this. A young girl walked up to me at the gym while I was in the midst of my workout ( ggggrrrrr ) the other day and asked me “how do you manage to look fresh even at the gym” and answered it herself saying ‘probably because you are smiling always’ ! I did acknowledge that the gym is a happy place to me , I love working out. So , yes , its always the mind that rules. My next post is going to be related to this.

Till then , Ciao !

Sunspared and Sunlit – Both beautiful

What is common between these two pictures ? Yet , what is different ? The beauty and play of tender sunshine.

 

Sunspared and Sunlit

Sunspared and Sunlit.

A sliver of sunlight binds the two in a way I chose to see while my camera clicked

I wondered. Would the lovely white flowers lose the serenity  had they been bathed in sunlight ?  Would the peace of whiteness been diminished ?  All the same , the sliver of sunlight dancing a step away from the flowers adds depth to the picture.

“Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’ in the woods of our experience.” ― C.S. Lewis

Sunlight fell upon the plant ; the plant received a borrowed splendor. ( borrowed in part and modified from Rumi’s quote )

The plant had gone unnoticed the previous evening as it stood shielded away from the sunlight of dusk. But the early morning rays brought to it a lambency that caught the eye while it basked in the warmth of the tender sunshine. And I exclaimed , “Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.” ― Roman Payne.

Eye to eye with a Crab

The Crab Moment

Is this baby crab a shutter bug or was it attracted to my Aviator bluish violet shades ? Fancy thought ? Yes , maybe , but you will never know !

Nothing crabby

Nothing crabby

This little crab scurried out of its hole as I sat on the beach taking pictures of the sea and all else beautiful around. As I poised my phone camera to click this guy or girl , this is the pose I caught in that moment. Was I looking at the crab or was the crab looking at me ? It halted thus for several minutes , giving me ample time to get the best shot. I was too amazed for words ! It stayed in that position even after I had moved away my camera as if guarding its little home and darted back deep down in seconds after that. Doesnt it look endearing and curious ? Dont miss those eyes , that fixed gaze ! Later in moments of random browsing , got to read that recent research indicates crabs being able to distinguish a few colours and specially sensitive to violet.

Be that as it may , it was a simple , lovely moment I was caught in with a little Crustacean and it stayed in my mind for long.

Haunted lanes haunted my mind

The thought of this haunted lane intrigued me once many a time and then after I dared to search for the ‘haunting ones’ , haunted me for a night and two.

Blue Cross lane

Blue Cross lane

We used to live in Besant Nagar , a posh suburb of Chennai and had to drive through this lane called the Blue Cross lane to reach our home , tucked away in the interiors. It truly is a long , beautiful quiet lane , canopied by trees , but the quietness of it is ascribed by many to the eerie happenings of the night there. Stories abound about some ‘fortunate people’ having seen forms hanging by the trees or walking along the lane. Why , there are one or two spots where lamps are lit , flowers are given in offerings and occasionally I have noticed traces of blood , which I suspect are the remains of a poor unfortunate animal sacrificed nocturnally to appease the ‘whoever’ ! My guess is also that the rest of the remains are expunged from the site for fear of retribution by the cops for defacing public areas. Small mercies !

I have used the word ‘fortunate’ in my earlier paragraph to describe people who have been privy to these sightings. I am a curious and a questioning one by nature and hence was inquisitive , nay , eager to experience it for myself. My husband , my son and yours truly , we have driven on that lane on several nights , late past midnight , but the lane was as it should be. Just a lane !

That night , again well past midnight , after a dinner , as we drove on that lane , I lowered my side of the windows , put my head out and literally looked for any sign  of it being haunted. The whole place seemed in order.

We reached home in the next few minutes , changed into our night clothes and went to bed. I am a light sleeper and one to crash the moment my head hits the pillow. But sleep evaded me that night. I had quite forgotten my train of thoughts of just a few minutes earlier. I tossed about for a bit and started becoming aware of a third person in the room , but could see nothing. I sensed someone moving around and come close to me at one point. I froze , yet my pride stopped me from waking up my husband , for fear of being laughed at in the morning. All I could do was pray and take cover under the quilt. I was trying to shut that someone out , but spirits can see you through barriers , I remembered having read somewhere and broke into a cold sweat. More prayers and some more as I lay still while the night was slipping by. I don’t remember when the eeriness left and slumber came. I woke up a bit bleary eyed and narrated my experience of the night nevertheless , and yes , my family was amused !

My day caught on , I drove back on that lane to reach my work place , my nightmare had been pushed to the deeper recesses of my mind. Evening became night soon and the thoughts came back ! I asked my husband to wait in the room till I showered , dressed and came out. I was unusually quiet at dinner and apprehensive as I tucked myself into bed with a book and some music. I insisted on leaving the bedside lamp on and he grumbled no end. No one came that night and I slept peacefully. The next night was uneventful too and soon I forgot about it all.

Another time , another story. My lower back had given way and I needed physiotherapy to relieve me of the pain. The clinic happened to be adjacent to another so-called haunted place , De Monte colony in another suburb of Chennai , Abhiramapuram. Now it is common knowledge in the city about the this place being haunted , but I was blissfully unaware of it. Parked my car in a convenient spot , got the treatment and in a casual conversation that evening mentioned the location to my husband. Oops , he said , I was in a haunted area again and went on to tell me the story.

D'Monte colony lane

D’Monte colony lane

Apparently, there was a man named John D’monte who lived in one of the houses with his family. He was one of the directors of Arbuthnot bank, a leading mercantile bank in Chennai that went down in 1906. It is said that his son died mysteriously , disappeared from on board a ship while returning to India after his studies abroad and soon after the couple died too.  Since then, the house seems haunted and people who have passed by the road have shared experiences of the paranormal kind , like hearing voices, seeing doors open, seen specters wandering the streets. Nobody really knows what happened to the family, but the entire area is haunted is the belief. However , there are a few houses that people have taken up in the colony and they rubbish these accounts.

I continued to park my car in almost the same spot in the next 3 days and wondered at my luck at getting free parking space in such a busy area , till it dawned upon me that the spot was probably being avoided !!! I decided to park somewhere else the next day. That afternoon , during my power nap of sharp 10 minutes , I dreamt I was swept away by some weird force on to  the terrace of a multi-storied building and even as I stood there , the building swayed precariously as if it were a tree caught in a tempest. I clutched hard the parapet wall with all hopes of surviving the upheaval dashed ! Even as my heart was in my mouth , I woke up and was thankful to be in the comfort of my home.

So , what was all this about ? My mind playing games with me ? A note of caution not to dare too much ? Or are there really spirits that don’t like to be challenged on their existence ? Why do only some people get to see these apparitions and why not others like me ?

Please share your views or experiences if you have had any. My mind is not at rest on this subject , I am still curious !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Dog’s Musical Evening

I am someone who runs for cover at the sight of any breed of pet dogs , but will warm up to them once we both get familiar and then I cant stop my oohs and aahs admiring and petting them. And in this case , my exclamations were even more pronounced ; you will see why.

My husband and I were visiting my cousin Anil and his wife Preeti in Mumbai ( Bombay ) , India. They , along with their son Shourya , stay in a lovely suburb of the city , called Powai. We were on a super high after taking in the beauty of Powai on a pleasantly chilly winter evening. Undulating streets lined by high fashion stores lit aesthetically would suddenly pave the way for stretches of quiet strolling parks and quaint bistros. Enticing coming together of glamour and quiet beauty , if you know what I mean.

We looked forward to a lovely evening of conversations spiced by either Jack Daniels or wine. The mood was such ! But our bubble burst when Turbo , their dog flew at my cousin on entering the house to give him his welcome hug and I froze ! The rest of the evening looked dubious. Turbo , I knew would hover around me and I would have to learn to get comfortable with him. I wasn’t quite looking forward to the task , but had no heart to ask them to lock him up either.

Soon enough glasses of drinks clinked , Turbo did his rounds of sniffing and snuggling amidst our cheery , loud conversations and laughter till that singing moment and mood came in. Turbo had tired of us by then and prepared himself to shut us all out and snooze on the soft sofa. I sang a peppy number to some appreciation. My husband , who is gifted with the talent but at most times makes a fuss when asked to sing , surprised us when he took up next.

I am a big fan of his singing and he started with this Hindi melody “Rim jhim gire saavan” , sung enchantingly by Kishore Kumar. Hardly was he into the second line of the song , when Turbo , who had all along tucked his face into his forepaws and was probably entering dream world , looked up and around and fixed his gaze soulfully on my husband.

The soulful looking up

The soulful looking up

In the next instant , he got out of the sofa , walked towards my husband gently , licked his elbows and snuggled even closer to him. I worried at that moment that the singing would stop , because my husband is not particularly accommodative with pets in general. But no , to my surprise , he even started stroking Turbo gently on his neck. I sat there transfixed , watching both. Turbo then nestled himself on my husbands foot peacefully , turning to look up at him every few seconds. The song got over and as we all cheered , Turbo got up from where he was sitting , walked across the room , climbed the sofa and curled himself once again to sleep.

It amazed me and amused me no end. I even forgot to take pictures of the –man-and-the-animal-bonding-over-music-moment ! That was my first taste of such cute animal behavior. And at that moment I didn’t think I would be writing about Turbo in my blog , so it is going without pictures.

I did google on ‘do dogs love music’ after that and yes , read lots about how dogs and cats and some other animals calm down to soothing , gentle classical music.and how music is being used at vet clinics and hospitals to treat animals of some ailments. But dogs seem to be very sure of what music they like and want , no pop or rock genres for them ! No wonder Turbo ignored my singing !

While its one thing to see them enjoying music and calm down , it’s quite another to see this dog walking that extra mile in quiet appreciation. Not much of an animal person , but truly delighted to discover their sensitivity and in that dear Turbo has been my teacher.