Saturday, April 22, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 S for Sun

The big star, our planet has been happily revolving around, ever since it got formed  has currently caused a lot of ire and frustration in my home town. Summers in Chennai are scorching. I am sure that the unbearable heat should be the first topic of discussion in most of the phone calls coming into the coastal city of India.

I love the animated images of a smiling sun that usually adorn the boards and walls of preschools and kindergartens. Its kind of symbolic of all the bright happy things in life including the smiling faces of innocent children and their simple sweet worlds. Having said that, we cannot deny that today's internet equipped little brats grow out of their innocence a lot earlier.

I am thinking of the Circle of Line song from the movie 'The Lion King'. The rising sun and the male voice singing those Zulu lyrics with absolute zeal is simply mind blowing.

ImageCredit: Ong on FlickrCreativeCommons
The early morning sun's warmth can fill us with a lot of energy and positivity. A morning walk in our neighborhood park is one of my favorite activities. I usually see a lot of people sitting facing the rising sun and doing some exercise or tai chi or yoga. The surya namaskar or sun salutation routine taught as part of yoga  is supposed to be beneficial for almost every part of the body. The sun s rays also serve as a mood lifter. A few minutes of basking in the sun can make us brisk and happy We always feel better on bright sunny days rather than dull wet rainy days right? At least I do.

The sun is the reason for a lot of things around us - our climate, weather changes, the rains, morning night cycle, the existence of plants and what not. No wonder earth is clinging on tightly in its planetary orbit.I remember watching the live telecast of a solar eclipse live on TV once. Its a beautiful natural occurrence especially the diamond ring appearance after a total eclipse.It is a commendable thing that the sun's energy is getting harnessed through solar panels in many walks of life.

I just remembered something. My laundry that was hung out to dry is still on the clothes line thanks to the showers that dominated the weather today. Tomorrow being a Sunday, hope the star of our solar system decides to chase away the clouds and shines upon all of us and my clothes!

Friday, April 21, 2017

#AtoZChallenge R for Rabbit

I asked M, "R for?" sincerely hoping that like quite a few of the previous letters, she would tell me something unexpected. For a change, she told me the expected R for rabbit. What can I type about a rabbit?

I love animals, and I believe in coexisting with them in peace without disturbing their ecological systems and habitats. But I am not a big fan of very furry things, like guinea pigs and hamsters and rabbits. Big ones like cats and dogs are fine, no problem.I even love hugging them. But these smaller ones that love gnawing at things, kind of give me a ticklish feeling when I see them.Its akin to that strange repulsive feeling when chalk goes on with a screeching noise on a  blackboard or metal scraps against metal.  Its a DNA thing I suppose. I would not want to hold a rabbit or a guinea pig though I did not mind touching an iguana at a zoo recently with my son. 

I remember visiting the Hidimba temple at Manali,India. There , we have some women holding huge (really massive ) rabbits and using them to lure tourists for photo taking opportunities.I did not find those rabbits cute or attractive. They were quite shapeless and huge like big teddy bears. Now I did a google and found out that those rabbits are Angora rabbits whose wool is actually used like sheep wool. 

By the way did you know that a baby rabbit is called a kitten? A male rabbit is a buck, a female doe and a baby is a kitten. Are you imagining deer and cats now?

#AtoZChallenge 2017 Q for Queen

The rays of the setting sun fell on the lone big diamond on the crown and splattered across the room . There were numerous other stones but they seem to step backward and meekly pay obeisance to its glory.

The crown fit on her head perfectly. She stood erect with her held held high and her cheekbones shouted authority. She looked around and could see everyone - ministers,guards, soldiers,courtiers , people, children and the entire kingdom  bowing in front of her. It filled her with a weird of absolute power ...Ruthless, dangerous and overpowering . She wanted to simply charge ahead, crushing anything that dared to stand against her under her feet.

"This thing s jinxed" thought the museum curator as she carefully put back the crown in its place.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 P is for penguin

Image Credit: Creative Commons on Flickr by ume-y
There used to be a brand called Kelvinator that sold refrigerators in India. Its logo used to be a penguin and I remember an animated penguin going "Its the coolest one!" I wonder if its still there in the market. Penguins remind us of cold, ice of course.  Did you know that some species of penguins are found in Africa as well?

Happy Feet movie is one of my all time favorites. The protagonist Mumble simply cannot sing unlike the other kids in the penguin colony. He prefers to dance and in fact, he  loves to dance. He does get criticized for it, poor fellow! This movie gives some lessons in recognizing and accepting individual talents especially in kids. It also sheds light on how various natural environments are getting disturbed and altered by human encroachments.

As depicted in the movie , the emperor penguin is one creature where the dad is Super Dad! The mother lays the eggs and goes off to the oceans to feed and the entire incubation is done by the father.  Its no easy feat. The two months of the Antarctic Winter is spent by the father penguin holding the egg carefully on top of his feet and he needs to maintain his balance. Any exposure to the freezing weather could destroy the egg and the chick inside. I am making a mental note to broadcast this info on whats app next Father's Day! 

Yesterday on Facebook I saw a video of a couple . There seems to be a machine that can give men an idea about what labor pain feels like and the pregnant woman was having fun trying it on her spouse and reminding him again and again what she would be going through in a few days time! This video was made on a light note of course.

Like the emperor penguin, nature does have a fair share of creatures where the father's job is a lot more tougher than the mother in the reproduction cycle. Nature! It never ceases to amaze me!    

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 O for Orange

I have a basic doubt about this citrus fruit.

Which came first - the fruit or the color? Have you wondered that?
Whether the orange fruit is called so because it is colored orange
or the color orange is called so because its the color of the fruit?
Image Credit: April Killingsworth Flickr Creative Commons

Another interesting take is that - An orange usually has 11 segments. (Most of the ones I have had in India atleast) . In tamil , the words Aaru and Anju stand for 5 and 6 respectively. So
5+6 = 11 = Aaru+Anju = Aaranju = Orange 

 In India, at least in the South, an orange is something you simply peel and then eat the segments. Its closest cousin the sweet lemon (Mosambi ) would be all over the place as well and would mainly be used when you decide to perform the social obligation of visiting the distant relative whom some virus had earlier visited.

Only after moving to South East Asia did I discover that these oranges are called mandarin oranges. They are an important auspicious symbol during Chinese New Year and are very commonly given as gifts.Apparently the Chinese word for orange sounds similar to the one for wealth and that is the reason for the celebrity status the fruit enjoys during that time. I discovered the other orange type , I mean the one  I was alien to  in the super markets here - the ones used for juice extraction mainly.

 I don't like orange juice much. At least the commercially available ones that claim to bring the freshness straight from the orchards to our breakfast tables. They don't taste like oranges.Do they? Heck, they are not even orange in color usually! They are a weird yellow!

If I were to ask you name one thing that is orange in color?( Oranges not allowed :D). What props up in your mind immediately?  The color of the evening sky on a beach when the sun is about to set is what I can think of.

Let me know....

Sunday, April 16, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 N is for Nose

I recently read a novel where a person becomes very successful in the perfumery business. The principle reason for this being that his olfactory functions are far superior than the average person and he is able to clearly distinguish between the various perfumes.

I compare that to my own visit to the perfume sections of department stores. Within two three whiffs, the only thing clear to my smelling nerves  would be the box of coffee beans the salesperson would smilingly thrust at my face. Fruity, citrus, flowery, musk - they all would intertwine into chaos ha ha

When it comes to sensory disabilities what usually gets a lot of attention is sight followed by hearing and speech. I wonder if there is anything called disability to smell. Definitely it wont be as debilitating as being blind or mute. Google tells me its called Anosmia. All of us have a slight experience with it when our dear old flu virus decides to attack us and our entire head feels like somebody just fit a balloon pump to it and is pumping away happily.

I have heard of a distant relative who loved the smell of  inhalers and pain balms so much that he repeatedly used them and this led to a loss of the sense of smell. This seems harmless but on a deeper thought, it could be dangerous. Food I think would be a huge problem. Food is half taste and half smell. You would not know if your food has gone stale unless its clearly visible. You would not know if there is a gas leak.

I guess the only thing you might be able to smell is when you are in a situation where you smell something fishy!

I have read somewhere that if not for the sense of smell, an apple and potato slice would taste similar. So try biting into an apple and potato slice the next time you catch a cold and try to figure out if they feel the same! 

Friday, April 14, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 M - Monkey, Mind, Meditation, Music

M actually said M for Mm...Hmm. I did consider writing a post on that. Well, since that cannot exactly classify as a word, I asked her again and she said Monkey. I suggested M for mummy and that is when she remembered that her own name started with that.

Monkeys are quite close to us in DNA and I have read that chimpanzees have started using tools and that gorillas can be taught sign language. Till my son enlightened me, I was not aware that apes are those monkeys that do not have tails. I am not even sure if I realized that gorillas and orangutans were tailless before that.

A saying we often hear is that the human mind is a monkey. There is a story in the Mahabharatha where the character Yudishtira says "The mind is faster than wind and our worries  are more numerous than straws". I am not exactly sure which parts of the grey matter in our brains control all the non-stop chatter that goes on inside all of our heads but yes there is this monkey (or a whole team of monkeys) that get easily influenced by factors internal and external and keep hopping.

Something that is stressed upon so much these days and is sought after is meditation. It is believed to relieve one of stress, calm ones mind and bring more clarity. The big question is how does one go about it?

There are numerous schools out there ....Meditation retreats where people go like a vacation and indulge in this guided practice for like say ten days. Mindful meditation is another thing that is getting a lot of attention too. Yoga schools and branches teach various meditation practices. 

Some religious practices like chanting of shlokas are meditative practices too - A few moments when we choose to simply detach ourselves from everything around and focus only on the words coming from our mouths. When we do that, our breathing falls into a rhythmic pattern and the mind gets some rest. 

Art and music can be meditative too to those who are able to immerse in it and let themselves go.Personally I feel, being a part of the music , i.e. learning to play an instrument or simply singing along to something we are listening would make us feel a lot more lighter. There would be moments when all that matters is 

The music around me and me in the music.

My monkey has done a not so bad job now in the past twenty minutes when I typed this post. Starting from the sign language of gorillas, I have traveled to playing the piano or the violin. 

To conclude I want to share a video on simple meditation advice given by a Tibetan monk on Facebook that I really liked. In fact I liked his message as well as the warm simple humorous way in which he expresses it.

I don't know much about meditation but sometimes when we feel agitated or anxious , a few deep breaths do help in calming I think.