When The Stars Aligned

When The Stars Aligned

Do you believe in fate? Do you think events are pre-destined by God or some supernatural power? Is the future pre-destined?

What do you think?

I remember reading a gripping short story ‘The Fatalist‘ by Isaac Bashevis Singer, (winner of the Nobel prize for literature, in 1978.)

My poem on fate, ‘When The Stars Aligned’

 When the stars aligned

Is life predestined? I ponder
Gazing up at the blue sky yonder
The alignment of stars in a certain way
Do a favor and fortune our way sway? 

Does Fate spin the thread of destiny?
Leo, Virgo, Scorpio or Gemini?
The constellation, the galaxy, the celestial sphere
Star gazing raptly with hope, awe and fear.

 Heaven benignly smiles on the blessed few
Yet frowns on the rest. Unfair!! You argue
For Fate rages against this unfortunate lot
In a web of inevitability they are caught. 

They toil and toil away in vain
Only to despair in sorrow and pain
Fighting their battles over and over again
Woe is life! Just to remain sane. 

But oh for the favored lot, on luck they ride
Fate gently carries them across the tide.
What then befalls a person's lot
If against Fate he valiantly fought? 

Fate, kismet, karma and kind
Astral influences of soul and mind?
Does Fate then our life destine?
To each an inevitable part assign?

 

Trip to Goa

Trip to Goa

We booked a Goa Holiday tour last Xmas-New Year season and what a memorable trip that was!  I have been to Goa many times and Goa always casts a magical spell over me. Goa instantly sets you in a lazy, vacation mood.

We traveled to Goa from Bangalore by train. The beautiful scenic route is a real delight. The train passes through the Castle Rock forests and the Dudh Sagar waterfalls is a stunning sight to behold. Lush green vegetation, teeming forests,  tunnels, curving rail lines, mountain slopes,  gushing waterfalls,  picturesque villages, people sitting outside in the courtyard of quaint houses, under the shade of green coconut trees, flash past like a gorgeous gallery. We visited the golden beaches along the Arabian Sea coastline, the blazing Sun, the golden sand and the aquamarine blue sea are irresistibly attractive. The beautiful Portuguese architecture, the old world charm, the clean roads and tropical spice plantations, the lovely churches., the spectacular beaches are exquisitely fascinating. We had lots of Feni to raise our spirits, we enjoyed the fresh seafood, the heavenly cuisine.

Goa is truly a traveler’s delight. We saw many charming ancestral homes, splendid mansions, forts and grand cathedrals, the lovely palm-fringed beaches, the beautiful Mandovi river on which we enjoyed a boat party, the emerald green fields, in the background.  We enjoyed shopping at the colorful, bustling markets.  We visited a spice farm. We visited the Aguada fort and Candolim beach, where we took a trip on a boat and spotted many dolphins at Dolphin point. On the other side is the Sinquerim beach which I found to be the cleanest beach, quiet and serene, we were held spellbound by the sheer beauty of the place.  The magnificent Candolim Church and Chapel of St. Lawrence. We visited the Calangute beach which was rather crowded.

Next, we travelled to Ponda to visit the Spice gardens, where we were given aromatic lemongrass ginger tea. The guide explained to us the various spices in the gardens like vanilla, nutmeg, pepper, bay leaves, cashew nut cinnamon, cardamom and other spices. Included in the tour was a buffet lunch of fish and other dishes.

It was also wonderful meeting my old school friend who came down from Bardez to meet us. We enjoyed the delicious Goan dishes. Goan cuisine is simply divine. We had juicy prawns cooked in coconut milk and other seafood that were heavenly. We enjoyed our beach holiday and returned to Bangalore by train, drinking in the wonderful scenic beauty of the place. A lovely, captivating place that will stay on in memory for its breathtaking beauty.

Goa: A Memorable Vacation

Goa was a memorable vacation for me

It had all, the sun, the sand and the sea

Colorful blossoms and cashew nut trees on both sides

The guide on the tour bus pointed out all the beautiful sights.

Golden sands rolled before us in the distant horizon

Beautiful beaches, oceans of sand, we had great fun.

Sprawling heritage house where they offered us Feni

We were high on those as we had one too many.

The boat party in the middle of the river Mandovi was memorable

The song and dance fascinating blend of Goan music truly adorable.

We returned by train, the beautiful sights and sounds filled my mind

When I overheard someone saying that the Guide was actually blind.

Many years have passed,  yet I often recall this with a sigh

How he described all the beauty, seeing it all with his mind’s eye.

 

 

     GLANCE (ACROSTIC)

 

Gazing out the windows

    Landscapes flash past

    As in a picture book

    Nature beckons with

    Captivating charms

    Enthralled, I look…

On the trail of “that lost thought /idea that could have changed the world”

On the trail of “that lost thought /idea that could have changed the world”

Have you ever experienced this? A sudden idea strikes you.  A thought.  The spark of a brilliant inspiration. It descends on you in the middle of nowhere, when you least expect it when you are simply going about your daily life, unprepared for that great insight, that brainwave to strike you. You want to capture it. On paper. Write it down, before it escapes your memory. Make it your plot. Your story. Your book. Your magnum opus, so to speak. You realise in an instant that this is no passing thought. Not an average, common, garden-variety one. But a great illuminating flash, an epiphany, no less.

And right there, your sleep-laden mind works on that vague idea and converts it into a plot for your story and how beautifully the plot unfolds and flows seamlessly into a captivating story.

Well, it happened with me. Last night, just as I was falling asleep, I had this brilliant flash. A great plot. A sequence. I plotted the entire novel in my sleep and even went as far as the second and third book in the series. All in that half-asleep state.

But amazingly, when I woke up at the break of dawn, much to my dismay, I found that brilliant, inspirational intuition, that great idea had escaped without a trace, along with plot, story, book, series and all. It was as if it was a dream and no such thought had crossed my mind., when in fact, although asleep,  I had spent the better part of the night, building up my idea into story lines, chapters and books.

I even remember screaming “Eureka”, in my sleep, because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you discover something of great significance, that will have a great bearing on this world. Change the world, impact the world, if you will.

But thoughts and ideas are slippery entities. They escape into another world. So, where do all these thoughts go? You can’t expect to retain them unless you capture them on paper. Or if you have a photographic memory, you could capture them on the canvas of your mind.

Maybe, I thought, if I just lay down again and pretended to be asleep, it would return contrite, begging for my forgiveness, for having thus escaped, without notice. So after a long futile chase, on the trail of my lost thought, down memory lane, I decided to rest awhile. Because the law of expectation states that things or people are more likely to appear when you least expect them. I can’t vouch for this, though. So, my plan was to lie in wait, allow the big thought to revisit, not knowing that I am right there lurking in the corner, waiting to pounce upon it and capture it, before it could elude my grasp again.

But try as I might, it was like a mirage, shining at a distance, shimmering, beckoning me, but as I approached it stealthily, it disappeared into oblivion, floating in the sub-conscious,  diving deeper into the mists of my clouded mind, always eluding my grasp.

No gun can capture, no net can ensnare a “thought” that has escaped the mind. It needs to return of its own free will.

So, here am I, still on its trail. Sadly, the world will have  to wait for that magnum opus.

 

Treasures of the mind

 

Misty memories
Of moth eaten moments
Of an enchanted evening
A nostalgic night
In a haze
Floats to mind
A vivid vision
So elusive and ephemeral
Slip out of memory's clasp
Into an illusory world.
Oh! Give me back
Those moth- eaten moments
Those misty memories
Those memorable moments
Those meditative musings.

*************************



Thoughts, images, impressions, musings
 Churning, whirling, spinning, swirling 
In the inner sanctum of the mind 
Dwelling, screening, sheltering, nurturing
Yearning for expression
 Passions, emotions, sentiments, feelings
 Aching, pining, craving, seeking
 On the canvas of the mind 
Sprouting, budding, blooming, blossoming
 Bursting in a riot of expressions. 

 

What Is This World Coming To?

What Is This World Coming To?

Why is everyone busy, in today’s world? Why this frantic pace, this mad race? What’s all the hustle and bustle about?  We hurry to the office hoping to reach on time, dash to meet deadlines, rush to meet an important client, race to catch the last flight. In our great haste, some of us don’t find the time for breakfast. Deluged with work, we skip lunch gulping down cups of tea trying to catch up with endless pending assignments. Preoccupied with files, data, graphs, reports… head buried in work. We have no time for family and friends, leave alone getting to know our neighbor. We are unable to get out of this race. We are zooming through life accelerating faster and faster. It’s like we are caught up in a wheel that’s spinning ever faster carrying us to dizzying heights, rapidly hurtling to uncertainty. Wait! Stop! Pause! Reflect! Why must our lives be so demanding? Why has everyone become so ambitious? Why this burning need to be a success at everything?  Why is it not acceptable in today’s world to be laid-back, relaxed and “not perfect”? Why is today’s world all about “My career’, “My goals”, “My ambition”, “My life”, even if that means treading on others and crushing their hopes and dreams? This world is now all about, “I, me, mine and myself”.  There is an intense focus on self. Not the internal self which ought to be about being compassionate, kind, loving and empathetic. Believe me, those virtues don’t exist in today’s world. They’re long dead; killed by our selfishness. What really matters is my next promotion, my pay packet, my vacation, my party pictures, my house, my car. All about one’s own self. A friend of mine, who I wished to meet for old times’ sake said she couldn’t meet up with me as she had no time to breathe. She had an office assignment deadline she had to meet. No time to breathe, indeed!  Now that’s what this world has come to. Pause and reflect. When was the last time you watched the beautiful silver moon gliding across the starlit sky or watched raindrops fall like pearls on green leaves?

We need to really step back and question our actions, ambitions, motives, our thoughts and goals. After this rushing about we are exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. We don’t find peace. Full of worries, troubles, anxiety and stress. We fall asleep tired and wake up exhausted. Not refreshed.  We are always distracted in this digital world, with millions of thoughts racing through our mind, unable to concentrate. Unable to wind down. Students are burdened with studies, parental pressure and expectations. Parents and peers, society pressurise children to succeed in exams at all costs. Consequently, children are stressed. Even though we have so many conveniences in today’s world like  we don’t have to trudge miles to reach the nearest school or Post office. We can shop from home, work from home. We have all services at our doorstep just by a click of the mouse. From information to every service. So where does all that time saved go?  Yet we don’t find the time to indulge ourselves in pursuing what is truly worthwhile. We yearn for solitude and peace in this hectic, chaotic life. We need to detox our body and mind. Read a book, paint, walk, enjoy the beauty of nature. Our body and mind will be refreshed. Practice kindness, compassion.  Starting now.  I am determined to practice regularly. This will make us better persons and make this a better world. Just take it easy. Be happy.

 

Here’s my poem  Heart, Mind & Soul

My heart craves for moments
To indulge my soul in bliss
Away from toils and cares of this world
To eternity and immeasurable peace.

My mind delves into depths of time
Seeking treasures sublime
Hold moments captive in memory's realms
Recollections like fragments of shattered dreams.

My soul weary sailing turbulent streams of life
Swirling in life's discord and strife
Longing for that bright day dawning
To merge with infinity yearning.

 

TEN BEST BOOKS OF ALL TIME-My List

TEN BEST BOOKS OF ALL TIME-My List

TEN BEST BOOKS OF ALL TIME | MY LIST

I love reading books. Most of my fondest childhood memories are sitting in a comfortable corner reading a captivating book. Books are filled with so much treasure; they have the ability to transport you to distant lands that can only be imagined. Reading books has expanded the capacity of my imagination in tremendous ways and it has increased my knowledge. I benefit from books in many ways, my mind becomes remarkably enriched, I learn about new things, reading books is very entertaining and the pleasure I derive from reading is absolutely out of this world. Reading inspires imagination and fuels creativity. I have been able to connect with other cultures by reading books. In the words of Henry Ward Beecher “Nowhere is human nature as weak as in the bookstore”, I can relate to this statement as an avid reader. A bibliophile. Books are my passion.
Getting completely lost in the world of books, being absorbed into another world is an experience I look forward to. I enjoy the solitude, the quiet time I spend reading books. There are many benefits of reading, it is a relaxing activity, and it is also pleasant and luxurious. It launches you into a world controlled by imagination- a magical world. Books provide an easy escape from the troubles of this world, leaving behind the mundane life. Books are therapeutic, they have the ability to heal our wounds and rejuvenate our lives back to a vibrant state. Books give joy, a boost to our soul, support character development and impact our lives in very distinctive ways. Books are a reliable companion; they are the greatest treasures on earth.
I can easily mention “Jane Eyre” as one of my favourite books. It was written by Charlotte Bronte. I also love “The Post Office” a play by Rabindranath Tagore. I read this book when I was 11 years old and the memories of Amal- the child still lingers in my mind to this very day. It is a very poignant write.

Compiling a list of my ten best books was quite challenging because I love so many books. It’s difficult to choose just ten amongst such rich treasures, so here is a list of my ten best books of all time.

1. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: I loved this book because it met all the qualities of an amazing thriller. The suspense and intrigue were absolutely fascinating. This murder mystery written by Agatha Christie tops my list for many reasons. The thrilling story will keep you guessing who the real murderer is until the very end of the book and the truth will almost knock you off your chair.
Roger Ackroyd, a widower, was betrothed to Mrs Ferrars, a wealthy widow. In a twist, she commits suicide and Roger Ackroyd is murdered in his study. Enter- Hercule Poirot, our star detective. He was called upon to solve the murder case of Roger Ackroyd. The following events lead to a startling twist at the end. The British Crime Writers Association nominated this book as the best crime novel ever.

  1. The Post Office (Play): This is an enthralling book written by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The book is spectacular for its poignancy. It tells the story of an innocent child who starts out life plagued with an illness and as time goes on, harsh realities of living set in. The experience of the child as described in this book will move the reader to tears.
    Amal, the main character is a young boy who suffers from an incurable disease. Confined to his room, Amal looks out to the world through his windows, wishing to experience the world out there.
    This popularity of this play made it necessary for it to be performed in French, Spanish and other languages. It was a huge success in Germany with over 100 shows. The audience related the theme of liberation from captivity which was connected to the horrors people had to live through in the concentration camps during the World War II.
  2.  Three Men in A Boat: This book is one of my favourites, it made me laugh so much, I am sure readers will enjoy reading through every page of this book that has been packed with humour. It was written by Jerome K. Jerome, a real comedy in which an expert writing technique was used to create humour in the various situations described in the book.
    The book is a funny narrative of a trip made by Jerome K. Jerome and two of his friends across the Thames on a short vacation, there is a dog in this story that just makes the experience even more hilarious.
    This work was recognised by the BBC, it aired the story on the radio very often.

    4.Jane Eyre: A spectacular novel written by Charlotte Bronte. This book is one of my all-time favourites. Timeless classic. I acknowledge the literary genius of the three Bronte sisters. The story is about Jane- a simple girl who has an unwavering ambition to make it in a world dominated by men. Jane Eyre was one of the earliest feminist novels. These lines from the book prove it beyond doubt “It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action, and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”

She braves this world armed with her education determined to be recognised. I love Jane for her fierce independence and standing on her principles. To quote Jane Eyre: “I am a free human being with an independent will.”

The love story is delicately woven with romance, intrigue, and empathy. The captivating conversation between Jane and Rochester will be entertaining and enlightening. It is easily a wonderful literary masterpiece.

  1.  Gone With the Wind: The writer of this book Margaret Mitchell is known for this compelling classic. Her writing technique has the ability to draw you into the story- a rare ability. You will love the depiction of the main characters Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara the daughter of a cotton plantation farmland owner, as you read through the pages of this American Civil war story.
    This book is a best seller with over 30 million copies sold globally. Its unique title was adopted from a poem written by Ernest Christopher Dowson, the storyline pulls you through the lives of slaves who worked on the vast cotton farms in the South.
  2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: This is another all-time classics; I loved this book as a child. This compelling story has been made into movies many times. It is a masterpiece written by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson).
    It begins with the adventures of Alice who mistakenly ventures into the wonderland- home to strange characters. It is an entertaining book with interesting conversations, humour and poems. Poems laden with satire like the “You are old Father William” became more popular because of this book. It is an excellent read. Many parody poems in this book are wonderful humorous pieces of work, which even became more popular than the original.
  3.  The Short Stories of O’Henry: O’Henry delivers his best in every story, the master of twist endings. This is a collection of stories expertly written to thrill the readers beyond their anticipations. Popular choices will include the spectacular stories like “The Gift of The Magi” and “The Last Leaf”. In the short story category, O’Henry stands out paving the way for any aspiring writers who are encouraged by the annual O’Henry awards for excellent short stories.
    As expected, the movie industry has selected many of the short stories written by O’Henry to be made into great movies. One of these is a gem of a classic titled “The Cop and the Anthem” starred Marilyn Monroe.
  4. The complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle: Truly the master of crime and mystery. I still have vivid memories of the stories in my mind; this is not surprising because of the captivating methods used in writing these stories. Sherlock Holmes is the proficient detective, always analysing the crime scenes with so much detail that hold you spellbound.
    The notable recognitions for these stories have made Sherlock Holmes very popular. The Guinness world records organisation recognises Sherlock Holmes as the most commonly depicted movie character ever. The extent to which Sherlock Holmes has been used in movies, radio, stage performances and other media over the years will almost make you believe that he actually exists in real life.
  5. The Complete poems of Emily Dickinson: Emily Dickinson’s poems are intense. They are painted with feelings that are beautiful, painful and sorrowful. I recommend these poems to readers who get a thrill from poems that express a variety of emotions including love, death, new birth and nature. These poems can bring some sadness into your heart when you read into the text, there is also narratives based on ethics and morals in these pieces.
    Readers will have enough of these materials to satisfy their needs because as many as 1800 poems written by Emily Dickinson which has been posthumously published.
  6. Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse: If you love humour, this is the book for you. Laughing while reading a good book is an experience I wish everyone can experience. This story is about an overconfident Jeeves, a valet with “skills” that he insists must be used to take charge of his master’s life. He asserts his position as the protector and saviour of Bertie Wooster and his friends, vowing to shield them from compulsory social functions that can kill a person with boredom, the nosy relatives, and also using his experience to get help Bertie make a good impression with the women. These hilarious stories have been adapted into films and television. Packed with humour, a usual feature of Wodehouse books, you will feel very happy reading this book to the very last page.

There you have it, my top ten best books of all time. Don’t hesitate to start reading them and feel free to add your suggestions.

A Poem & School Days Memories

A Poem & School Days Memories

Yesterday, Lathika my best friend from school days, who is now in London, called up. We had a great time conversing, taking a trip down memory lane as we lost track of time. It was as if the years rolled back and the miles melted away and there we were sitting beside each other reminiscing the sweet memories of our school days. Our school was an Elysium. I remember the beautiful red Gul Mohar and purple Jacaranda adorning our school campus. We had great teachers. Our school moulded our lives, our destinies. 

Here’s my poem, “Newton’s Law” reminiscent of school days.

 

Newton’s Law

I was inattentive in Science class one day

When the teacher at random looked my way

I didn’t look up, I wouldn’t dare

There’s no escaping that intense glare.

 

Asked me to explain to the class

Newton’s Law of Gravity and mass

My mind was a blank, heart beats louder

For an answer, I started to flounder.

 

I stood before the class trembling with fear

“Gravity,” I said…and then oh dear!!!

I fell off the stage onto the floor

How the class with laughter did roar.

 

The children tittered in great amusement

They didn’t know my sad predicament

The teacher said, “You’ve demonstrated gravity”

“Although you did it with much levity”.

 

At length, I returned to my seat

With much applause did they greet

Now I look back upon this and ponder

I decide to listen and not let my mind wander.

Copyright@Nandita Das

Women Empowerment

                                               

Women empowerment is a subject close to my heart.

There is a drastic increase in crime against women. Newspapers and TV channels are full of occurrences of violence against women like dowry death, rape, domestic violence, moral policing, assault cases and sexual harassment Our political leaders fail to ensure a safe India for women. India is now considered the fourth most dangerous country for women. This is the harsh reality of India. What has made India so unsafe for women? Why can’t women be made to feel more secure in our country? It’s because women are not considered a priority.  The dismal record of surging crimes against women attests to this.

 In most homes in India, equal rights and benefits for women are simply a myth.

 

Here’s my short story (flash fiction-“Silence Is Not Always Golden” by Nandita Das.

SILENCE IS NOT ALWAYS GOLDEN (flash fiction)

 

Neena talked twenty to the dozen. She was the Mistress of repartee, wordplay, and witty rejoinders.

So, on this June afternoon, it was rather surprising to see a quiet Neena.

No Neena-esque witticisms. All was quiet on the Neena-front. Her parents wondered what could have caused this spell of silence? When nothing could compel her to speak, her friends wondered if she had lost her faculties of speech.

Towards evening, in came Dev, her best friend. All heaved a sigh of relief. Surely, Neena would speak now. With Neena and Dev around, you couldn’t get in a word edgeways. Their conversation flowed. No full stops. No commas. Like a waterfall, you never knew where it began or ended.

But Dev’s appearance did little to alter the glum silence. The family began to despair when Dev spoke up. “Well, it’s almost seven now. Neena’s reticence is admirable. She wins the bet. Silence until  7pm. I better give her the Rs.400”, saying which he drew the money from his wallet.

“Neena burst out, “It’s 500, and not a rupee less.”

“Well, technically, you lose the bet, Neena. It’s still 4 minutes to 7, and I did deliberately say 400. But you win, anyway. Here’s your 500. Well done!”

“Oh! I shall never again keep silent. Even if I am paid to.” Neena countered.

“It’s sheer torture. Just think. Women in our country are silenced. Not allowed to speak up against the injustice of gender discrimination they face every day. They are silenced into conforming to society’s dictates.  Silenced in the name of culture and traditions. They are forced into silence when they face oppression in our patriarchal society. If they speak up, they are considered rebels and worse. They are violently silenced. Silence is not always golden.”

(For more on the subject of Women Empowerment please order your copy of  “Girl On A Mission: A Long Walk To Equality” which is on pre-release now on Amazon.com. Releasing on 2nd July 2016.)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GW1B6CQ