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2016: The Year That Taught Me That Anything is Possible and Nothing is Impossible

Loving Happy New Year wishes to all of you and I say this with all my heart. If I don't feel it from my heart, I can never sit down and write these words to you. 2016 has been a roller coaster year for me - I am sure it may have been the same for you and your loved ones too. 

Life will keep unfolding, the best thing we can do is to keep evolving and making new choices that bring us more peace and clarity about being in the "present." I don't know if this sounds like mumbo-jumbo nonsense - yikes, I hope not.
As a working mom, the toughest challenge that I faced this year has been to be fully focused on my son. As my son is growing older, he has far too much to tackle in his studies. What I strive for is to have open discussions about any topic that he has questions about even if it means answering questions that are not easy to find a balanced response to but we discuss everything openly. 
I am not a control freak mom and I don't aspire to be one. I want to watch my…

KR Meera's The Gospel of Yudas: A gripping, disturbing portrayal of the Naxalite movement during Emergency in Kerala

Winter mornings are great to read gripping novels that explore the heart's longing for the forbidden, but you need the comfort of a warm sweater, an inviting quilt and a cozy bed to snuggle into. 

And lots of chai - piping hot, laced with a dash of cardamom.

That is how I read the first sentence of KR Meera's novel, The Gospel of Yudas, translated by Rajesh Rajamohan, and the sentence simply leapt  into my consciousness as I read the words, "A traitor can never sleep. His hunger is eternal; his thirst, insatiable."

I HAVE to say this: This blurb took my breath away - the different shades of green-blue tones and the sinking girl evoked strong emotions even before I touched the first page.




And you feel a spark of rebellion stem from within when you read poignant sentences like this, "In our lake, dead bodies raced among themselves daily to find their way to the surface," and "In our feudal home - our Naalukettu - before I went to sleep in my room under the y…

Vidyarambham: How and why Malayalis celebrate writing the words ''Harisree Ganapathaye Namaha"

For Malayalis, Vidyarambham is an auspicious day on which the elders and children mark the day by writing the sacred words, "Harisree Ganapathayeh Namaha." The observance of this ritual may differ from region to region, community to community and family to family. Whatever I share here is based on how vidyarambham is celebrated in my home. 

Vidyarambham: How Malayalis observe this sacred day

In families where the children are gearing up to enter pre-school or play school and are not yet ready to join the formal schooling system, Vidyarambham marks an important occasion for an elder to introduce them to the world of "vidya" or "knowledge." The words ''Harisree Ganapathayeh Namaha" are written on the child's tongue by the grandparent, an elder or parent.  

 [Image credit: Travel Manorama Online ]

Vidyarambham: Why it matters 

An interesting aspect of Vidyarambham ceremony lies in the relationship with the person who is marking the words for the …

A little boy always pops into my heart

A little boy always pops into my heart - he has shining eyes, a bubbly smile and laughter that is almost melodious and lyrical. I can close my eyes and see his face burst into smiles. He's a miniature "me" - so to speak. And maybe that's why I adore him more than words can express.

A few months ago, a senior Seva Dal in Puttaparthi had the most surprised look on his face when he saw a little boy called Vihaan Rajit remove his sandals carefully before entering the room, do a full padanamaskar in front of Swami's portrait and then come to answer questions related to his identity and passport. He bowed to the Seva Dal with a bright smile, his hands folded in namaskar, saying:  Sai Ram.

The Seva Dal turned to my father and asked, "He's your grandson from Sydney?"

When my father nodded, the Seva Dal looked stunned and he said, "We rarely find our kids show humility or respect to elders these days." 

I told you guys - he's "miniature me&quo…

Say a little prayer for me in the language of love

Recently, I saw the blurb of a book which asked, "How many of you (Hindus) have seen the inside of a Muslim home and how many of you (Muslims) have seen the inside of a Hindu home?" The question provoked a spark of anger in me because I do not view relationships through the prism of caste, community or religion.

However, I understand what the distinguished writer was trying to say - we are so insulated in our ways that even when we talk about tolerance, we still don't dare step beyond the boundaries of our community, caste or religion. 

When I say this in North India, I am told, "You have only read about Partition. You haven't lost a family member or seen a tragedy unfold before your eyes - it's easy for you to talk like this." Maybe...

However, one of the many advantages of having grown up outside India and then during my teens, in Kerala, is that I never learned the social distinction between "Hindus"and "Muslims." There was never &qu…

Love letters and romantic writing: The world needs more of them

This weekend, I began reading a book that I could not put down. The title is 'The Love Letter and other stories' by Buddhadeva Bose and translated from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha.

Each story takes you back to a bygone era when love was communicated through glances and love letters.

Remember, one-way love? You love some one but the person doesn't recognize it. There is a real-life quaintness, an old fashioned charm that breathes life into every story.




I was spell bound. Here's one excerpt from the book:

"...A letter is a woman on a tryst, a veiled lover, mysterious but guileless... How often do secrets and whispers come to us in our lives? But whenever a letter comes, it is always in secret. When it speaks, it is in our ears. A letter is as intimate as a kiss; but a kiss, even the longest kiss does end; the same kiss does not offer itself twice. The letter remains; it can be reread, regained, it is never lost, never finished...."

This world, I believe, needs more…

'James and Alice' movie review: Brilliant performances by Prithviraj and Vedhika, 5 things to know

Sujiith Vaasudev has many fantastic movies to his credit, as a cinematographer. His cinematography is refreshingly different and you would know what I mean if you check out his work in the following films: Drishyam, 7th Day, Memories, Anarkali among many others.

With 'James and Alice',  Sujiith Vaasudev makes an impressive entry as a director in Malayalam cinema. Here are 5 things to know about the movie 'James and Alice':


'James and Alice' movie review: A solid story narrated in a refreshing way

'James and Alice' is not just a love story. You have a solid script and a refreshing format that takes every scene in this movie from strength to strength. 

James (starring Prithviraj) is a struggling, but talented painter-turned-ad maker who is married to Alice, the daughter of a rich NRI. They fall in love and tie the knot against the wishes of her NRI father (starring Sai Kumar).

So far, it's nothing new. But wait - it's not what you think it is. 

The stor…

How to start your day happy in 7 easy steps

I love to start my day with a smile. So, I have a couple of happiness routines that I like to follow.  Sit up. Pause. Contemplate. The first thing that I do is I sit up, slowly and close my eyes, hold my palms up with love and gratitude as "Namaskar" to my Guru.  Express gratitude. Thank Earth. Before I step on the ground with my feet, I bend down and ask forgiveness and loving energy from Mother Earth for trampling on her all day. I convey my gratitude that the ground beneath my feet keeps me and my loved ones safe.
Sing a song over a cup of tea And while I brew tea, I sing kirtans. If I don't sing kirtans, I play it on my phone so that the energy stays divine and hopefully, seeps into my first cup of tea.  Rewind to the 80s' childhood days. When I was growing up, I always woke up to a very cheerful, energized home environment.  My mother would be in the kitchen, cooking a nutritious breakfast and supervising every little detail - whether my dad's shirt was ironed, whet…