Thursday, 3 January 2019

Smart and Smarter


#TheFitIndiaMovement #GettingFitWithFlipkart

"Alexa! How do I look?"
"Alexa! What do you think love is?"
"Alexa! Play 'Thunderclouds'..."
"Alexa! Paint me like one of your French girls..."

Image result for virtual assistant

I have started using my Amazon Echo voice as not just a virtual assistant, but also a companion who listens to me without any emotional investment. I know it sounds terribly lonely of me but I can assure you, it's not the 'Her' case. It is just…a whole lot of fun.
The other day, my mom kept complaining that she is not walking enough and how much she wants to be fit again and the entire story starting with- “I used to be stick-thin like you before I got married…”
And then it struck me what her new year gift could be. You see, flowers and cards are passe. She has gotten too many of them from too many people. And chocolates? Well, I had rather not, because they actually turn out to be pseudo gifts when I end up devouring them all. So, this time, I got my mom a fitness band. First-class. Such health-consciousness, much wow.
You know the best thing about smart devices? Well, they are smart. Duh.
But seriously, I like the way they give you prompts. It’s so familiar and kinda sweet.
A few months ago, my friends gifted me a beautiful silver-bracelet-watch. But when I turned up wearing it on my right hand the next day, they staggered.
"I have never seen you reach any place on time. And yet, you choose to wear two watches!"
Well, I couldn't possibly give up wearing my favorite MiBand 3, could I? And so, yes, strange and funny as it sounds, you will find both my wrists adorned with watches- one is the pretty silver showy one and the other is the ruddy practical one- my fitness band. It has almost become a habit to check how many hours of sleep I got the previous day because trust me, it is always a revelation. You might think you slept for eight hours because you went to bed at 12 and woke up at 8, but it is somehow never that. And I am not just talking about the variations of sleep- deep, not so deep and light; it's the actual number of hours that you don't realize you spend surfing your phone or just thinking and idly staring up into the ceiling before actually falling asleep. And let's be honest, don’t you get that thrill of accomplishment when you feel your smart watch vibrate and tell you that you have finished your quota of steps for the day? It even shows a cute badge of honor that I totally gush over.

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Smart devices have infiltrated our lives in ways some of us (who are not Luddites) really appreciate. Smart home, smartwearables, smart camera, smart lights, voice recognition, fingerprint locks, these are actually pretty cool. And the gadgets go beyond coolness now. They are handy, sophisticated and they make life simpler and infinitely more fun. For those of us who spend more time looking at some sort of screen or other, these fitness gadgets are more than blessings. They are the need of the day, hour and minute as they push us to improve our stiff postures, change our sedentary lifestyles and move our asses from the uber-comfy couches and do something worthwhile with our hands and feet.
What with all sorts of neoteric movements doing the rounds, I think the most important movement has escaped publicity that it deserved. Yes, I am talking about the Eat India Movement.
Lol, I am kidding, duh.
Of course, I meant the Fit India Movement.
A truckload of thanks to Flipkart for spearheading this frightfully important movement because this is one revolution that can actually unite people in ways unimaginable.
#GetFitWithFlipkart #SmartHomeRevolution



Monday, 31 December 2018

The Quest For Lassi


 #AmritsarDiaries 



I don't think I will ever learn to lift my own bags. You may think 
it's kinda royal and high maintenance of me but trust me, the only thing it is, is downright annoying. Lugging my only suitcase up and down two flights of stairs to reach platform no.3 seemed to summon up all the strength I had gleaned from the lassi and dal makhani we had had from Kesar da Dhaba the previous night. And that reminds me of our quest. The quest for the best lassi in town. In all of Amritsar, to be honest. 

On our very first day to the foundation school where we were supposed to impart 'education' and do something for the kids, I learnt a few things about a few people. First of all, our cabbie. Our cabbie was called Lucky. (Guess he wasn't so lucky to have us, hee hee!). He looked like he had a couple of kine at his place, and had been fed on their fresh milk since boyhood.
And it turned out he did.
He also turned out to have an ambulance siren for a horn and a skull for a gear head.
Pretty badass, huh?
You wouldn't say so if you saw him. He was so unfailingly polite and incredibly sweet that we liked him at the very outset. Gentle giant was what occurred to me when I saw him.

Then we met the kids at the school and I realized what love and fandom looked like. Primarily love. The kids loved me like no boyfriend ever had. They listened open-mouthed to whatever I had to teach and irrespective of whether they understood much of it, they asked me if I would come the next day. During recess, they would stare at me and whisper among themselves, shake my hand and beam a full set of 28 teeth at me. I had never felt fuller, happier, more loved. Oh yeah, one even tried to take my autograph. Quite an ego boost, I know ;)

Let me now come to the group of three people who I was clubbed with.


One of them was my bestie and roommate. I am calling her N. You know, the BFF kinda person? The one who you think might have been a lost sister at a kumbh mela? Who we strike an immediate companionship with? Who give us the feeling, ‘excuse me, I think we rock’? You know, those quotes about not meeting often and yet being besties somehow, because you start off from wherever you left last time and it seems like you never left? Yep, that's her. From being the rock that absorbed my tears this entire year to being my official beauty expert, she is the elder sister I never had. Thank the HR for doing some things right ;)


The other one, P., was a bubbly perky ball of energy who looked like she was perpetually high. In all the good senses, you know. I knew her from before and I liked her. But there was something she said which touched me to the very core and told me that bro, you have struck gold in here. “Everyone deserves all the good things in life,” she told me on a shopping spree while we were buying Christmas gifts for the kids and I was like, bro, you are the perfect perfect Santa! And lo! She turned out to be THE SANTA. The most secretive Santa ever. Sending us cards and stuff through the hotel guys and we really DIDN’T EVEN KNOW. Till a few days later. Damn. Well, I guess I can safely use the word love for her.


The third member S., was a guy who looked like he would rather not have been clubbed with us because he hung out mostly with the mate from his alma mater and tried to vainly hide the annoyance on his face when I reached the reception a complete hour late on the very first day. Typical yours truly. But he won us over (or we won him over? Or it just seemed so?) with his droolworthy photography skills when he clicked brand new and very many display pictures of us without uttering a single complaint. Did I tell you that he shares with me the talent of falling asleep in the car at the drop of a hat? Well, he had me at SRK and sarsonkekhet when P. and I frolicked about among the mustard flowers and he let us play cliche and ultra-cheesy and mushy songs from DDLJ with nothing more than a smile on his face (which may have been a grimace of resignation but we will let that pass).

Not that it helped my timing much, because we made him wait almost everyday.
You see, time and I have never been on good terms. 
But music and I are. Only in the listening sense, you know. So, I somehow managed to convince my peers that my company was sufferable. I acted like the DJ and gave them a jukebox kinda feeling and suddenly all of us had songs we wanted to re-listen to. And share with each other. Share songs. That's one step already in the friendship department. 
Add taking group classes, soaking in whatever sunlight that filtered through the fog at noon, taking the kids' swings for ourselves, playing games we had last played, like, 12 years ago? and re-playing our school days; and soon we were thick enough to want to go out together. 


An unplanned walk in the night started us on the quest to find the best lassi in all of Amritsar. And Punjab. And the Punjab in Pakistan (as S. helpfully points out every time we stretch our itinerary to inhuman lengths). Of course, we sampled all the usual places like Brothers, Kesar, Qila Gobindgarh, and the rest of the places people recommend and even went to places that no one recommended. We asked Lucky, the cabbie, if he knew where we would find the best lassi. He mentioned the town hall and we took him to a dhaba just to ascertain which was better- the lassi at the town hall or at the dhaba we were at. Lucky ji though gave us a lovely reply. He had never had lassi outside his home. And well, what could compare with lassi from fresh milk from a cow in your backyard?

Well, I'm not sure if we discovered the best lassi in town, but we found something even better. We found each other and cheesy as it sounds, it is actually sweet. 
Because you see, memories with friends are different from memories with lovers. The latter may be too predictable, may hurt and cause pain, but the first ones are your bulwarks, your support systems and they tide you through the storms in your life.
Let the start of this year be given to friendship and all the good things that come with it!


Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Calypso’s Curse



He saw life looking at him with beady eyes and turned away. 
He knew that life wore a monocle and knew how to lock its target on him. 
He knew that it would take him by the horns and play with his deepest fears. 
He knew how judgmental it was and realized that he didn’t have an extraction plan. 
That this mission had been ordered by him and was being carried out by him and there just was no one to get him out if things got out of hand. 
And things were never pretty much in hand in the first place.

Because he was under a curse. 
The most terrible one of all. 
He was cursed with love. 
Not just falling in love. 
But drowning in it. 
Gasping, floundering, hurting in love. 
Like Calypso, who was destined to lose her lovers. 
Because love is genuinely the wretchedest curse of all.  

Sure, he had stories in him. 
A bag full of heavy-duty scary stories about himself. 
And even some good ones. 
The ones that may make some laugh. 
And some others weep.

Because most of those stories were about birthdays. 
Birthdays that were celebrated with love-shaped cakes. 
Love-shaped cakes of two kinds- the tastier one to be eaten and the creamier one to be smeared on the face. 
Because smeared faces reminded him of a handsomer visage and a sweeter time. 
When birthdays were never forgotten and didn’t have to be revived through Facebook reminders. 
When empty conversations and comfortable silences over countless cups of coffee felt richer and meant more than fancy wishes and elaborate presents sent through fedex.

He saw life looking at him with beady eyes and turned away. 
He knew that he was cursed. 
He was still very much in love. 
With what had been and what now could never be.    

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

She


 

She is not a round peg in a square hole. She is a shapeless mass looking for a fixture that would fit her or change as she does with each passing moment.
Her thoughts are bombs that can blast you out of your comfort zone.
Her words are poisoned barbs that can sting you with their truth and then stay in and infect your life.
Her love is a minefield. One wrong move and you may be destroyed.
Her love is a microscope searching for a spirit like hers among the parasites that hound her life.
Her love is a lie detector test. I fail at it everyday.
Her love is an active volcano situated right above my peak. The magic lies in her fire.
Her love is a balm that can soothe all my worries away.
Her love, you know, can take you places like the deep seas, the highest peaks, the hottest hells.
Her love is the light at the end of the tunnel, to reach which I can die a thousand deaths.



Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Black Magic




You love well.
Or as well as you have been taught by me.
But you don't know how to fix things.
Unloved things. Broken lives. Severed ties.
You don't have the duct tape to patch up fragmented souls and cracked consciences.
You only know how to love blindly.
You don't know how to take that love and apply it like an ointment on my scarred surfaces.
You don't know how to fall in love the way I don't know how to rise from it.
And it is important to rise from the battleground of crushed expectations because love left to rot in the dungeons of apathy turns bitter and becomes hate.
Because love is magic.
And hate is a part of love.
It is black magic. 


Friday, 31 August 2018

Ennui

Winner of the Blogchatter #LightsCameraChatter Contest 



The day tastes rotten,
Rancid and sour, like a lemon from being out too long in the sun.
The inside of my mouth tastes like yesterday’s dreams that have turned stale from being imprisoned in time.
A sleepy boredom has set in like rigor mortis, stiffening my senses.
I need a bath.
To revive me from this ennui, this tiny little death.
To wash away the old fragmented ideas that swirl around in my head like dead bodies.
And to don a few things that I think may look good on me.
A bit of courage.
Some nonchalance.
And a chutzpah that wordlessly announces to the world that I no longer have any fucks to give. 


Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Shoelaces




I can tell you how I learnt to tie a shoelace.
Shoelaces are tricky.
Tricky little snips of fabric that untie themselves just to make you bend really low.
So that you stoop.
Low enough to make a mistake.
In that sense, shoelaces are like you and me.
Like people who flit in and out of our lives like flies through an open window.
And some of them untie themselves before you.
Just for the fleeting fun of seeing you try to figure them out.
To see you try to make out the tricks up their sleeves.
Like the wiles of a conman.
But the trick is to take them by the horns.
Avoid the fuggy world spinning past you and focus on the coils.
Take one of them and pull it in with the other.
And tighten.
So hard that not a single scream can escape.
And then you make a flower out of the repressed screams.
Out of all the asphyxiation and the garroting and the suffocation.
That is the trick.
You don't tie a shoelace in knots, you make a flower out of it.