City of Blinding Lights

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Why does this city look so different during the night from the day? Do people also seem different in the night from the day? There has always been something about this city after dark; it’s a whole new life at night.

Just as people put on their best look and get out at night, the city also puts on its jewels. The diamond lit marine drive, the tantalizing Juhu Beach, the palatable food at Mohammad Ali Road, the enticing Gateway of India the list of places to visit at night is never ending. It’s a city that never sleeps. Whatever time one decided to venture out you will find a substantial number of people on the streets and roads.

Although when people generally talk about Mumbai’s nightlife, I observed that most of the people relate it to the clubs and pubs, all the dancing, partying and drinking. They tend to overlook the actual beauty the city has to offer to its people. We tend to take the things given to us for free for granted. The fact that one can walk down the streets of Mumbai without thinking of getting raped or mugged is quite an achievement. I would generally think twice before stepping out alone forget night even during the day in any other city but Mumbai in India. But Mumbai is always bustling with people and also because of the open environment; it doesn’t come as a shock to the people here.

You can get food at every nook and corner at anytime of the day or night here. There were times when I was living in Manchester there was nothing to eat because everything shuts down at 8 pm and all the restaurants at 11pm. It came as a shock to me on my visit to Mohammad Ali road, where at three in the morning the place was packed with people. I have never seen so many people anywhere at that time of the night. There were people of all ages, from all backgrounds at the same place. No one cared about his or her caste, colour or status. Why couldn’t the world be like that? This city for sure unites you and the only caste that exists is called humanity.

The city is one offers safety, security, food, peace and sanity. Where there is no differentiation on the basis of anything and varied number of options to choose from for everything. What more can a person ask out of life? Hence a trip to Mumbai is sure to be incomplete without experiencing its nightlife.

This, we call life.

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Things, things are made of these days
Volumes, of volumes around us
Material is immaterial
Secrets within secrets they lie.

Acts behind acts is living these days
Takes after takes we call life
Artificial is real
Signs within signs they find.

Know, known is unknown these days
Delay in delaying the wait
Unshown is shown
Time within time they slide.

Deciphering Dreams

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I often wonder where the mind wanders while I am asleep; to places unfamiliar, with people unheard of, for reasons unknown. As though it’s living another life of its own. Does this mean that we all have a twin personality, one that we can’t forget and one that we never remember? It’s said that around two hours of our night’s sleep is spent dreaming; dreaming of bizarre, extraordinary and sometimes realistic events. Some believe that dreams are meaningless and have no significance to real life, while others have proved that dreams are symbolic expressions of desires residing in the unconscious mind. So, how does one know what to believe? And if dreams are carrier of messages, then my dreams are definitely not appearing to be a good sign.

In 4 of every 5 dreams I have I am either in close contact with death or dead, subsequently with me waking up in panic. I don’t completely believe that dreams mean anything, but since it has been such a recurring dream I thought I’d look it up on google. There I came across a dream dictionary, which suggested a significance behind almost each type of or every element seen in a dream. I didn’t know how much to trust their interpretation, but still gave it a read.

“To dream that you die in your dream symbolizes inner changes, transformation, self-discovery and positive development that is happening within you or your life. You are undergoing a transitional phase and are becoming more enlightened or spiritual. Although such a dream may bring about feelings of fear and anxiety, it is no cause for alarm as it is often considered a positive symbol. Dreams of experiencing your own death usually means that big changes are ahead for you. You are moving on to new beginnings and leaving the past behind. Metaphorically, dying can be seen as an end or a termination to your old ways and habits. So, dying does not always mean a physical death, but an ending of something. If you dream that someone is telling you that you are going die, then it implies that you are being pressured to make an important change or choice. You are about to embark on some new life adventure. 

On a negative note, to dream that you die may represent involvement in deeply painful relationships or unhealthy, destructive behaviors. You may feeling depressed or feel strangled by a situation or person in your waking life. Perhaps your mind is preoccupied with someone who is terminally ill or dying. Alternatively, you may be trying to get out of some obligation, responsibility or other situation. You are desperately trying to escape from the demands of your daily life.”

So, they gave both a positive and negative picture to the whole issue; leaving me confused even further. I tried to even see which aspect seems more appropriate to my current situation. But again, they both could be either definite or deceptive. I was in the midst of a new relationship, moving to a new place, adopting a new lifestyle; so for me the dream could mean either a positive or negative connotation.

I decided to go with my positive instinct, and believed that it signified a new beginning, a new journey, a new adventure. Firstly, because off-late every time I wake up from such a dream I call my boyfriend up and share it with him after which the dream doesn’t seem scary or eerie anymore, which could be interpreted as a beginning of a supportive and understanding relationship. Secondly, a bad dream might just be a positive premonition since it is not reality and one where I have the option of waking up from. So, however haunting or awkward my dream might be when I am asleep; the truth is life is only what I dream with my eyes open.

Why Travel?

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Journey to a new place, for me, is like the best kind of love affair; where you learn a new language to express your love, where you seize who you are, who you’re in love with, where sometimes lose track of where you’re going but still carry on for the thrill and adventure, and where with every journey begins a love story, some classic, some great and some which last forever. For all you know, it doesn’t even matter if the story has been written before, because no two love stories can ever be the same.

Journey to a foreign land, for me, is like a quest for the unknown, where we travel in search of both self and anonymity. We battle between who we are and who we should be, where we are and where we should be. We travel to lose ourselves, and sometimes to find ourselves. As Pico Iyer sagely puts it, ” What we find outside ourselves has to be inside ourselves for us to find it.”

So, when I ask myself, why do I want to see the world? Why is it essential to go to a place, and then why write about it later? My head says, “Because I want to examine different cultures, experience different lifestyles, explore different opportunities, embrace different moments.” While my heart says, “Because I just want to try and find a piece of myself everywhere I go to put together one day.” I would say, a tourist is merely a person who complains, “It’s not the same as in my country.” Whereas a traveler claims, “It’s not the same anywhere I go.” Traveling is not a just a hobby or holiday, it’s a way of life. For this life I would travel everywhere, anywhere, sometimes again, and sometimes even if it means falling in love over a 100 times.

The World As I See It

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People see places
They see the world as rich and poor
Some see it as black, some as white
I see no line that divides.

Around the world we go
Combat cultures, savour the flow
Live the life of others
It’s nice for a day or so.

The world is no black or white
It’s no big or small
Nor despicable or frightful
It’s part artistic, part adroit.

Once you enter such a world
You leave the exit far behind
If you happen to come across a door
It’s your chance to magnify.

Be yourself

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Stay clear

The storm is near

Wind is screaming

To close all doors

 

Shut up thunder

You’re scaring her

Go somewhere

Miles away

 

Sky is dark

With a hint of light

Look above, look ahead

Yet no positive insight

 

Close your eyes

Feel the forces

It’s a miracle

You’re still alive

 

Just breathe now

For it’s almost over

Last thing to do

Be yourself tonight

X-Men: The Last Stand

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Someone once told me, we are not cut out for this society.

I believed I was adjusting fairly until the force started to pull me towards it.

I definitely wasn’t from this world.

Although, their understanding was beneath mine.

The rituals, the obligations, the wastage of resources, mostly the mind was beyond mine.

I couldn’t cope up with it, I felt the need to release my thoughts somewhere, I wanted to feel free.

A few comprehended my disguised thoughts, others defeated it.

The fight of a mutant is not one without disadvantages.

But, it had begun!

It’s snake boat race day!

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Oh thithi thara thithey, thithey thaka they they tho…

Oh thithi thara, thithey thaka they they tho…

Oh thithi thara thithey, thithey thaka they they thom…

When I woke up this morning I was extremely energised. Although I am born and brought up in Kerala, I have never gone to watch the glorious Nehru Cup snake boat race ever. I was very excited, even though I had no clue how the race was going to be or if it would be worth at all. At that moment I was more charged to use my DSLR camera which I was going to use after almost a year. Since iPhones I have been so lazy to use any other than the phone camera; instagraming pictures all the time.

The journey had begun. One hour to go till we reached the site of the event. We were four of us but none had any idea about what was going to happen there. The thrill of the whole experience lied in the ambiguity of it. Even so the entire time I was extremely skeptical to use the camera since I had lost all practice of using it. To top it all as soon as we got there it started to rain; with it washed away all my hopes of trying to click any pictures, but we thought we shall still give it a shot. And once we reached there it was so crazily crowded, noisy and slushy; I had somewhere given up hope of watching the race. There was no way in hell we would have made it inside. Just then we found a pole and got a little adventurous. Each of us took turns to climb on it to get at least one glimpse of the event. I got a little greedy, I asked one of my friend’s to hold the umbrella for me while I stood on the pole and took at least one picture of the event.

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So I did manage to get one, however unprofessional looking and blurred it was. I was happy at that moment and thought that at least I had proof of being there.

We started to head back thinking we won’t get any closer so no point staying. That’s when we saw a little door, where only tourists could enter. We went through there, to finally realise we were adjacent to the finish line.

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We squished, squashed, tugged through the crowd and somehow managed to get a little closer to the water.

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It was an amazing sight even though I was mashed between three sweaty, tacky and alcohol breath locals.

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The entire place looked spectacular. There was a thrill in the air that was so contagious. The crowd cheering, the speeches overwhelming, the boats were just getting lined up; all set to race.

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I was standing on my toes to get a glimpse of the entire spectacle, trying to capture the moment each time.

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The men looked geared up and packed with energy.
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But the roar from the crowd grew louder when a boat rowed by all women made an appearance.
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The crowd was everywhere. There were houseboats lined up in front, some watching comfortably from their personal yachts, some swimming in water, some camouflaged on top of the trees.
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The boats now started to move towards the starting point; the race was about to begin any minute.
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The umpires were scattered everywhere, with their eyes concentrated on the boats passing by.
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The fire force taking its position. Ready for the boats to set the scene ablaze with excitement.
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There were cops lazing around on boats waiting in anticipation.
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The divers sitting tight, anxious and alert.
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While I was waiting at the edge taking pictures of the now impatient crowd and the calm waters which in no time would be flooded with boats racing for honor and life.
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Just then, my friend screamed from a distance that the race has begun. It was all haphazard henceforth. The boats were being rowed so quickly, I barely got a glance.
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We hurried back as soon as boat number# 16 touched the finish line, as we were in no condition to go through a stampede on our way out of the place. The walk back to the car was peaceful, yet enlivening after watching one of the world’s most breathtakingly beautiful event. I don’t know if I will ever come back to watch it, but it definitely is a one time experience every person should live.

The Rebirth

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I feel inspired

Sitting under tangled threads

Amidst a creative revolution

One space. Infinite grace.

Looking on the brighter side

Worth a golden glaze

Charcoal face

Where were thou?

Mistakes men make

Vanished by a prayer to the sky

Waiting on a frozen spot

We slide into a new life.

Tiramisu: Heaven in my mouth, hell in my kitchen.

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To make tiramisu has been on my bucket list for a while now. I love to bake desserts, but never got down to making tiramisu because earlier the ingredients were not so easily available in my city. But then finally I made my first batch of tiramisu. I never in my wildest dreams  thought it would be such a cumbersome process. I started my day at 10:30 in the morning with the first step and the most important layer of this creamy italian dessert. Initially, I thought I was doing something wrong because it didn’t look like what I had seen in the video. But then eventually once the egg yolk, sugar and milk took the consistency required there was sigh of relief at my end. I packed it off in the refrigerator as suggested then moved on to the next step.

The toughest and worst part of the whole experience was making the ladyfinger cookies. How I wished then that we got the ready-made version here in Kochi. It would have saved me from all the torture and wastage of ingredients. I made a total of three batches, of which only the last one seemed a little edible. Even though they were like a weirder and egg-smelling version of sponge cake, unlike what they should have been. Thankfully, though, that worked out fine as it was the last of the ingredients on me and I was getting a bad feeling that my very first batch of tiramisu was going to be ruined. But I still went ahead with preparing the next layer. I was adamant not to give up and lose hope yet. Even if it did turn out inedible, at least I would know the next time where I had gone wrong.

So I began whisking the cream and vanilla, the easiest and the yummiest of the three layers that comprise a tiramisu. Meanwhile, my sister helped me with soaking the eggy savoiardi’s in the coffee and rum concoction. Although, her alcoholic instincts compelled her to soak them longer than required, mine suggested adding some of the prepared coffee liqueur to the whipped cream for that little extra flavour.

Layering it up. First, I arranged the ‘so-called’ ladyfinger cookies that were by now drunk and tipsy with alcohol. Then the cheesy layer, which was followed by the creamy one. Midway into repeating the three layers I realised that maybe my dish is a tinge bit small for the quantity I had prepared. Noway could I have tranferred it all into a bigger bowl, so had to eventually cut back a little on the last creamy layer. On the bright side, at least it’s that much less intake of calories. Powdered with a generous sprinkle of cocoa, the only thing remaining was to wrap, refrigerate and wait for 6 hours until we all got to taste the disastrous yet much-awaited dessert.

After 4 hours cooking time and 6 hours waiting time, it was time to taste my favourite dessert (not so much anymore or only as long as I don’t have to make it). Taking the first bite, my heart was racing but I breathed a sigh of extreme happiness and exhilaration when my sister moaned out a huge yummm. I knew then that my task was accomplished and all that hard work hadn’t gone down the drain.

Feedbacks: My aunt, grandma and mom took two helpings each, my sister took three and my dad took two bites (for a person who hates desserts, it’s a big deal). I guess a clean dish is a compliment enough.

Drawbacks: Too much alcohol in the biscuit layer.

P. S: In case of any leftover whipped cream, treat yourself to a divine creamy cold coffee. Trust me you’ll need it at the end of it all. 🙂