List 5 things you like about you

This blog topic is tricky. But, come on. What’s the big deal about self-love?

“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”
― Charles Bukowski

Like, one of my friends, mentioned to me the other day, we all spend most of our life’s time with our own self.

In that context, it is imperative that I enjoy being with myself and appreciate the goodness in me.

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So, jumping straight to the list of things I like about myself.

  1. Learning:
    At any given point in time, I have observed and acknowledged that I always enjoy learning, in its truest sense. I strive to learn from my respective gurus / mentors. I also learn through my interaction with people, belonging to various groups.
  2. Trust:
    I like how I am wired to trust anyone and everyone without any prejudices. I give everyone, a fair number of chances. When things don’t work their way, I get, that it’s time to let them be. I like that, I have learnt through time, to pick myself up and move on.
  3. Time:
    I do juggle between work, family, friends and my own goals. I definitely like how I am able manage time for all these things. But, truth said, the folks in my life are extremely supportive and make this happen for me, seamlessly.
  4. Communicate:
    With life experiences, I have learnt to communicate well. I like that, I can clearly state what I have to say or what I feel. Again, a lot of people at various instances have made me this person I am today.
  5. Enthusiasm:
    For those of you, who know me well, you’d instantly agree on how crazy I am. I like that, I can almost laugh out loud on anything and everything. I hold a child-like enthusiasm which lets me explore, travel places, experiment on things, stay raw and radiate within.

The ‘hope’ run

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Today’s run was extremely special for many reasons.

This was my first run with The Wipro Chennai Marathon.

I’d signed up for a 10k. And, I was not at all motivated to run this morning, for many many reasons.

But, then, running is not just a physical pursuit but a mind game as well. I told myself, that I am not quitting and would participate. I labelled it as ‘Hope’ run in my head and reached the start point.

Through my run, I felt humanity, for others and myself.

I rediscovered myself through this journey.

It was a run where I sweated out all my negativity, insecurities, doubts, unpleasantness and everything that would not help me progress.

And, for the stats, I completed the run at an average speed of 6.31 kmph, which is by far my best.

I took 01:20:46 duration to complete the entire run.

P.S: I’d like to record my gratitude to all the amazing coaches at The Quad, especially Raj Ganpath for being an inspiration!

Also, Meera Sundar, Prasanna Kumar, Karthik Natarajan: Today’s run is dedicated to you folks! 🙂

‪#‎TWCM2015‬ was conducted today i.e. Jan 31 2016, to celebrate the spirit of Chennai, that suffered rain floods in Dec 2015.

Hampi – run, travel, food and all of that!

 

 

Hampi Heritage Run was announced and it was around mid December, that I decided to register for a Half Marathon. Little I knew about Hampi, but after experiencing this beautiful place in the last 3 days, I assure, it’s a place worth visiting multiple times.

The breathtaking Hampi, the huge boulders, temples that were constructed atleast 1000 years ago, the scenic views, it’s people, the fellow visitors, food, everyone affected me.

How to get there:

Hampi is closest to Hospet.

I took two trains to reach Hospet [Chennai -> Bengaluru -> Hospet]

How to reach Hampi from Hospet:

Hampi is about 14kms from Hospet. You could either take an auto that would cost anywhere between Rs 200 – Rs 300 for one way.

Alternatively, take a bus (301, 302) from Hospet bus station. Costs you about Rs 14.

Accommodation at Hampi:

There are plenty of options in Hospet and anything on Station Road is your best bet since its close to railway station and bus station.

I stayed at Amrutha Residency, that costed me about Rs 750 per day. Contact details: +91 8394225225, +919880544559

Places to see in Hampi:

  • Enthrodwaraka Temple
  • Virupaksha Temple
  • Monolithic Bull
  • Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple
  • Kadalekalu Ganesha Temple
  • Chandrasekara Temple
  • Saraswati Temple
  • Narasimha Temple
  • Purandaradasa Mantapa
  • Vamana Temple
  • Vittala Temple
  • Tungabadra river
  • Hanuman Temple (Kishkinta, across Tungabadra River)
  • Laughing Buddha (Kamalapura)
  • Tungabadra Dam (Hosepet)

Food options to explore:

  • Moonlight Restaurant (near Virupaksha Temple)
  • Mangotree Restaurant (near Virupaksha Temple)
  • Andhra Mess (Station Road, Hospet)
  • Udupi Hotel (Station Road, Hospet)
  • Bikaner Sweet Stall (Station Road, Hospet)

P.S. This trip was made possible by some dear friends (Sriram, Bharath, Karthik) and I am extremely grateful for the experience.

Music and mostly prolix

Being born and growing up in a musical household meant that, I’d be encouraged to pursue Carnatic music even before I’d speak.

The following quote holds a testament for my upbringing. And, I am beginning to realize what a blessing it is to have lived life this way.

Music is there to enrich your life and make you aware of things in a slightly different way. ~Andrew Eldritch

Everyday, I was either made to listen to live concerts of reputed musicians, or listen to recordings from several tapes / radio relaying concerts of yesteryear musicians. My thatha (grandfather), my guru, Sri Thirupoonthuruthy Venkatesan would ensure that I paid attention to every little nuance and absorbed as much as I can. I reminisce these listening sessions with him which included Alathur Brothers’s (who were thatha’s gurus) ‘EmA Ni Ne’ in Mukhari, GNB’s ‘Manasuloni’ in Varamu, MLV’s ‘Nannu pAlimpa’ in Mohanam, Semmangudi’s ‘RAma Ni SamAnam evaru’ in Karaharapriya, M S Subbhulakshmi’s ‘SarOja Dala Netri’ in Shankarabaranam and many alike.

Until I turned 15-16, I knew nothing, other than music. I’d simply learn compositions taught by my grandfather, resume to endless hours of practice sessions at home with my amma following up on a day to day basis. 24 hours wasn’t enough but, amma ensured that I utilized every minute of it towards music and only music. Indeed, life was very different back then.

Sometimes, I begin to wonder the amount of things my amma has done, to make me who I am today. She was and is still a working woman. She could have progressed and moved up the career ladder. She chose to take it slow and never wanted to shift base from Chennai. She’d never retire on weekends, she almost single handedly managed home, aging grandparents, me and my erratic music schedules, very diligently. She missed being away from appa. So was appa missing all of us. But, they both made the conscious choice to do this, for me.

While amma was a disciplinarian, appa was liberal in every way. Possibly, because, I am the only daughter and he mostly got little time to spend with me back then. His enthusiasm to learn was infectious. He had an ear for good music and considered himself a fanboy of K V Mahadevan, M S Viswanathan, Ilaiyaraja and in that particular order (in current times, I tried influencing him, but that’s not affected him). He kept traveling on work and whenever he was home, he would narrate his musical influences mostly through story telling. It’s because of him, I got into exploring this side of the musical world (amidst a lot of resistance from amma).

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” ~ Aldous Huxley

I grew up, and suddenly, I preferred silence over music. Which only meant that, I needed a break from this beautiful art, especially in terms of performances. And, maybe, this is part and parcel of a package called life. I got into academics. Was mostly an average student, but worked very hard to catch up with everything that I thought, I missed in the last 18-20 years. I just wanted to stay away from all lime light that music exposed me to. I never quit learning music, but took a break from performing, very consciously.

The last 5 years between 20 and 25 was a phase, where I listened to more music – of all forms. Call me a rebel, call me a fool, call me anything you want. But, this would be one phase that I’d call a liberating one. I listened more to Hindustani Music, Ghazals, Jazz, Metal, Rock, Fusion and to endless genres and forms of this art. I rediscovered myself through this journey.

Today, at 26, I continue to learn from Sumithra akka. She has helped me gain confidence and strength as a person. I see life coming back in full circle.

But, I am still confused, I am still insecure about what I should do, in terms of performances, my contributions for the art and a plethora of things. The battle is between art and art itself. Unless, someone who has gone through the last 26 years from my shoes, I don’t expect anyone to understand this, as well.

For now, I just trust that the art will take care of my being and help me sail through this phase and to a better one, at the earliest.

Through this journey, I had support and empathy from several musicians and I am ever grateful for their presence. You all know who you are.

Strength, pain and all of that

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All of us cause pain to our loved ones – mostly unintentionally, unconsciously. We seldom realize – what the person in pain goes through. Unless, until we get into their shoes. Or, we are sensitive enough to relate to the experience.

Human beings are complex. And, human relationships are more complex. Beyond comprehension, in most cases. We care for our loved ones the most, we also cause pain to these folks. Why? Is it because we are protective? Cautious? Possessive? Because of Love? Insecurity?

Recently, realized that, in reality, some words are louder than actions. Although, we preach that actions tend to be louder than words.

As human beings, have we numbed ourselves to express the right things at the right moment? Have we become insensitive to truth, honesty? Indeed, possible, with the way we all have masked ourselves to various situations.

I knew of a girl, who wrapped herself inside a bed cover, listened to songs. Everyone thought she was fine and strong as a person. But, she laid there in despair. Somehow, there is a lot of intensity when you cry, silently, all alone in the night.

But, it’s a scary thought that this girl might numb herself too, about various things. I do have a question though. Will she really be a stronger person? Well. Time can only answer this.

first half marathon. check.

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‪#‎myfirsthalfmarathon‬ ‪#‎coimbatoremarathon2015‬

it was easy to give up,
especially between 15-18kms,
but my brother, Karthik Natarajan ensured I did it,
one Mr Augustine, who was a pacer, he warmed us every time with a sincere smile,
the Pandian Thatha, who listened to devotional songs sung by TMS and cheered us,
the words of a kid who asked how much more distance she could run to her mom,
the specially challenged runners,
the professional athletes, the slow crawlers similar to me,
the volunteers who served water, glucon, lemon, fruits,
the security, NSS, police personal who asked us to push and give our best,
the tall, short, fat, thin, dark, fair, all human beings who ran this, just to challenge themselves and their ability,
the aptly placed bill boards having words of wisdom,
the beautiful Coimbatore climate,
most importantly, the amazing parents for always being encouraging and supportive.
Meera Sundar and Prasanna Kumar for getting me into running!

Thanks, all of you. 🙂

Coimbatore Marathon 2015 will stay close to my heart.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest..

Last week, a random search on the Internet took me to this blog – ‘Cuckoo Forest School‘ (The school is situated at Puliyanur Village, Singarapettai).

After having spoken to one of Cuckoo’s members, Sivaraj, I figured that the last phase of the workshop was coming to an end. And now, after spending about 4 days with this birdie, I believe I had one of the best lifetime’s experience, reinventing myself.

I will let the pictures do some talking.

On our way to the construction siteIMG_3235

Bird farm under constructionIMG_3290

 Fancy shelters at the siteIMG_3215

 The breath-taking view at the site – the school will be surrounded by these beautiful mountainsIMG_3286

 Mommy and her pretty looking chicksIMG_3287

 blues, greens, browns and more hues. IMG_3298

 …our humble abodeIMG_3283

One of Cuckoo’s volunteers playing Raag ‘Durga’IMG_3284

Orientation on alternative medicine and the wise man answered to all of our endless questions.  Special mention goes to the boy  (let’s call him DJ) wearing blue=black t-shirt in the picture. For literally being the center of attraction. IMG_3293 

Aatha, Apaththa, Paati. We adorned her with various names. But, all she lovingly did was, to feed us amazing food.IMG_3289

To end this journey, with one of my favorite black and white moment. IMG_3296

From the morning chores to working at the site; from the Frisbee games to rhythm sessions with the kids; from the night walk to early morning runs through the village, from the mafia games to the antaksharis, we have had the best of times in the past few days.

Thank you Cuckoo Family (you all know who you are!) for being super awesome.

I went with naught expectations and came back to civilization, having discovered a treasured melody, named ‘Cuckoo Forest School.’

For more details, get in touch with: Sivaraj +91 99656 89020 / Senthil +91 99024 10113

Between the lines by Nandita Das

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Between the lines‘, casts Nandita Das (as Maya) and Subodh Maskara (as Shekhar) – a real life couple, whose characters bring out the subtleties of their relationship as a lawyer couple.

Shekhar Anand is a successful, sought-after criminal lawyer, while, Maya is today’s urban woman, who juggles between home and working at a law firm.

The couple met at a law school, 14 years ago and fell in love while teaming up for ‘arranged marriage’ against ‘love marriage’ in a debate competition.

10 years of marriage, a 8 year old Arjun, life of this couple has come a long way with clear demarcation of job descriptions for each to perform and execute.

Everything seemed perfect like the brownies Maya made at home. Until one day, where they realize that they are on the opposite sides in an attempted murder case, Shekhar as prosecutor and Maya, as defense lawyer.

As they fight the case in the court room, there is only a thin line difference between their professional and personal life. We see that, their own inequalities begin to surface through the lives of their respective clients.

At the end, as audience, we only become witnesses to those subtle emotions that emerge out beautifully through their characters and more so enthralled, when it hits hard on our own emotions.

Directed by Nandita Das, written by Nandita Das and Divya Jagdale, this theatre act deserves all the standing ovation it received last night.

Special mention goes to The Hindu, Evam for organizing this extremely well!

Random laws of life – a rambling by self

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One weekend, I began to pen down hazy thoughts about life. Sharing with you, what I have perceived through my life experience:

  • Love: It is important to love, because, it helps us appreciate life fully. Loving someone is deliberate, conscious and it means, you choose to appreciate all of them, for who they are.
  • Integrity: Actions speak louder than what you say. Practice what you preach. And, be who you are and share what you believe in.
  • Justice: Equality is what we all thrive for. Respect people genuinely. For, you don’t know what their story is all about.
  • Acceptance: Stems from being just and fair. But, accepting goes an extra mile. You now have an ability to understand this other person’s story, their perspectives, their ideas, their opinions, basically, all the things that make them and accept them for who they are.
  • Patience: They say, good things come to those who wait. But, I believe that your attitude and how you act matters the most, while waiting. The current situation might be extremely fragile. But, let it pass, stay calm.
  • Habits: One of the most important habits that’s helped me is to count my blessings. Every single day, I am grateful for the kind of family, friends, love of all the good people, the life I have been blessed with. I’d also say, waking up early, investing in yourself (exercise), the kind of food you eat are baby steps towards building some decent habits.
  • Courage: Follow your heart, its easier said than done. But, nothing can gratify self more than pursuing what we want. It feels like a huge step ahead, but it’s worth giving it a try!
  • Failures: Embrace them! Because, failures teach you lessons worth a lifetime.
  • Lead: Dislike something? Be the change maker. Influence. Take the lead.
  • Follow: Love someone else’s initiative? Relate to it? Shun your ego. Collaborate with them, join the team and make a difference.
  • Values: At the end, your values make the person you are. Your ideals, your believe system is important. Never ever undermine them. For, that defines you as an individual.
  • Truth: Being true is one thing, but being true to oneself is another thing. The latter helps you to evolve.
  • Learn: There is so much to learn everyday, from everyone around you. You absorb, what you seek.
  • Teach: Because, teaching is one metric that will make you realize how much you really know.
  • Forgive: Life’s too short to deal with conflicts. Weeks, months or years later, you are only going to laugh at things you were angry for. Like Thumper says: “If you can’t say something nice.. don’t say nothing at all.
  • Nothingness: At times, it’s an asset to do nothing at all. Take moments to pause and reflect. It helps you gain some clarity and reinvent yourself.
  • Selfless: It’s the most powerful thing to do. To be at the giving end always.

What I learnt from running DRHM 2015?

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Someone asked about my experience – from today’s early morning run.

In simple words, I experienced so much goodness around me. And this is available in abundance for all of us.

I lived these moments through the spirit of a 7 months pregnant lady who ran today,

the challenging guy who wore an instrument to replace one of his legs and walked the entire stretch,

the chirpy kids who were living the moment, ran with their dads and moms and seemed more excited as their parents pushed forward,

through those endless cheers and motivation from people whom I would have never had the courage to greet on another occasion,

nature for unraveling its beauty as the day grew longer.

.. Chennai Runners, you were inspiring in more than many ways.

Thank you for taking me back to our roots of being good, expressing well being and respect for each other.

Well done Dream Runners for organizing a great show. There were flaws, but you need something to improve in your next event, right? 🙂

Next set of Marathon events:

  1. Terry fox Run
  2. Coimbatore Marathon
  3. Chennai Wipro Marathon
  4. All events for the rest of the year