Impact of Quitting Social Media

One thing that I liked the most in social media platforms is the motivational speeches. The interesting thing about motivational speech or any speech for that matter is that it is usually a two ways road for the speaker and listeners. Not all motivational speeches have the same kind of impact on the listeners.

For most parts a speech is so much about how it is delivered, toned and pitched. It is also about the images the speaker evokes in the listeners, that makes a motivational speech, a most effective medium of self-expression.

My experience with social media channels are limited to Facebook, mild Twitter exposure and from opening to closing of Instagram account. I never came across flame messages and always thought multiple times before I wrote anything on social media.

Not that I was shy about expressing my thoughts, I personally I thought it was not necessary to have a screaming match online with a total stranger, who I didn’t even know and the stranger me and of course, family members are too busy to check social media postings. So I had a relatively peaceful Facebook experience.

I moved out of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram only this month, hoping I would find a more creative ways of doing other things in life. Not surprisingly, the only thing from social media, that I missed was the motivational speeches in Facebook.

That kicked off my curiosity, and I started to wonder, what makes a good motivational speech, in the first place? It brought many thoughts to my mind, such as positive view of a negative situation, a sense of well-being for the troubled-mind, a peace that all is not lost and thereby some hope is attached to the life situation.

There is much more that I looked out for in a motivational speech. I was silently looking for confirmation on the thoughts, that I held, which I would use for situations in life. When there were a lot of pressures, it is then, that the best or worst part of my inner self comes out into the open.

Motivational speeches for me became a reiteration of what I believed in. Having moved out of most of social media channels, I am much happier, but I still felt that, I was running away from the facts of present day life. But much of the stress that is there in our life is it truly justified?

There are moments in my life when I refuse to fight and just take flight as an option. The choice of leaving Facebook was also close to flight because I was really unhappy being in that space. I refused to live in some kind of social pressure to live up to an illusion of my projected self and fable of my own life.

I didn’t like it one bit. Moreover my writer friends were all in the Facebook and I had been putting off the decision to quit the medium, merely for the fact, that I will lose touch with my friends. But this month, I braved up and quit the space and I am none the worse from the decision.

There is a sense of peace from having quit the space. I have nothing against social media, I merely wanted to live my life without comparing against others who are much more socially active and having the time of their life. My tasteless life seemed really to be of no worth.

Facebook made me more depressed and worthless. To prevent the sense of being alone in a huge crowd of friends, I decided to subscribe to Motivational speeches, after a while even those speech couldn’t remove the despondency I felt within me. I was convinced there was much at stake for my peace of mind in it too. So I peacefully arrived at the decision to quit.

It is nearly two weeks of having quit social media platform and there is a marked difference. I am happier and I do things because I like it and not for some post on the internet. That thought feels much more an healthier attitude. I am sad that I will not be able to reach all my writer friends; but I know they would want me to be happy with whatever is good for me.

Okay then Facebook, goodbye you were entertaining, but I must move on to find my rainbow! Life is not tied down to that red circle with numbers on a blue background on the right edge of the top screen. Real life is much more than that!

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Surprised In the Summer of 2000

It was in the year 2000, that I came across Ponniyin Selvan and before that I knew nothing of this epic book. It had happened quiet by accident like much of my other experiences in life.

My father ran a family trust that had printed two books and he wanted to collect the payment for the earlier batch, so he took me along to Higginbothams, a book store in Chennai.

He left me with the books, while he went to settle the payment issue and I was left lost in the world of books displayed on the shelves. Of course, my father regretted leaving alone with the books once he saw the arm load of books that I was carrying to buy.

I was browsing the books in the shelves when I came across a book titled “The First Floods” of Ponniyin Selvan (Part 1) translated by C V Karthik Narayanan. It was the last book on the 12 books I was already holding. But after one look at this book, I moved no further and picked that book to begin reading, just when my father came searching for me.

One look at my expression and my father asked, “You are not thinking of making me pay for all those books, are you?” Well my father can be very easily convinced and I believe my sad puppy face did do its magic. But then he bargained hard and eventually I dropped all the books and chose Ponniyin Selvan alone. I was hugging the copy close to my heart as I walked out of the shop dreaming and quietly convinced that I am the actual owner of an entire world.

It was nearly two years later, that I was able to get the rest of the parts of the book. Appa got a promise from me when I got all the parts on the same day that I am not going to ask him for anything for the rest of the year and I readily agreed to not ask him anything for the rest of my life! But my father just shook his head and got me the books.

My father was a fair person who didn’t exploit the situation by asking me to give up any of my wild ways in life. Mind you, on that day I was willing enough to agree even to study the dry subject Economics too, if I had to redo my college. I was that agreeable to any conditions for the rest of the books.

To this day, if I come across a book, it would stop all my other works completely and I get warned, threatened by my mother for not doing my assigned chores. Eventually, she will give up on me as she knows nothing will stop me from completing the book. She also knew that I will bug her for the rest of her working time to just talk to her about the story that I read. There isn’t any hope for my confirming to house rules until I finish the book that had captivated my sensitivity.

Both my parents were surprised that I was so goo goo and gaa gaa about the historical novel which was popular during their young adult days. They were happy to have a conversation about the Kalki magazine being their favorite and how people in their house would fight for the copy.

Once I finished the book and I wanted the rest of the books. I reread the Part 1 book about couple of more times and every time the magic remained and never vanished from my imagination. I think I feel in love with Vallavarayan Vandiyathevan that summer of 2000.

Around that time, I was part of a Writer’s Mailing List through email. It was very basic and I was trying to get any native English speakers’ opinion on my work. I found myself wanting in trying to be calm and collected but it took me a long time to understand their critic on my works. I wished to know if I could even contemplate publishing them in the future.

I remember writing a piece that was totally inspired by Kalki’s “The First Floods.” Even today when I reread that piece of creative non-fiction, I am reminded of the causative feel that made me write. Even now I feel that magic of reading the hero on a tired horse traversing along the banks of Veeranam was so romantic for me.

When I wrote that piece I was like nothing could be more magical than the moment that I am drawing out of my memory that pure imagination. I almost felt that Chennai had turned into something special and when the Koel’s call resonated in the sky darkened with rain-bearing clouds, my heart would just sing a timeless and ageless song.

I tried really hard to read the book in Tamil since the magic of a language cannot be captured at the same level. But honestly, I think C V Karthik Narayanan had done an exemplary artistry with the translation. The rhythm of a Tamil story in English was beautifully captured. Since then, I am trying to write like Kalki but then nowhere near as yet, I am not giving up hope though. But the truth is that, if you write the way you write, the writer within will find that personal rhythm which the reader is able to connect with eventually.

My favorite character in the epic novel was Nandini and I just loved her role as a vamp. I was like rushing to read the books because there was such energy in the work that I felt enervated as the plot unfolded. I think none of the characters were willfully bad. The shades of grey that I found in their personality were such pleasure, that I found happiness in the balance expressed in the story.

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Embedded Family Time during Electricity Outage

I think sometimes Human beings are in a kind of continuum in the social skills. I have read in some book about the cave dweller habits of telling stories around a fire. I think it must be in the social science book in school.

The interesting part of the important piece of information, was given in the details about how the cave dwellers spent their nights telling stories and creating social stories that were common knowledge!

How they spent their time around the fire which ensured the protection and source of light to dispel surrounding darkness thus dispelling fear of the unknown. These gathering leads to some interesting story-bites about hunting and adventures and songs with crude musical instruments.

The concept of darkness seems to bring out fear in people and this is universally applicable over the timeline of earth. But then, the community comes together and assures themselves about being safe even in the temporary darkness.

Darkness has lurking danger, which I am sure everyone feels even to this day, especially when opening the door to an unlit house, apartment, room, walking in a dark alley, or just when there is no visible light.

That apart, of late I have observed that Chennai doesn’t get as much power cuts are it used to. With advancing technologies of powerful Generators, power cuts are just the time it takes for the switch over from the main power source to the ancillary power source.

But back in the past, there used to be a lot of current cuts and each house would look pretty with various sized candle lighting up the house. I don’t know how the houses would have looked up from the sky.

When there is a common distress in a community, then this brings the people suffering come together. Exchanges such as, queries if the electricity department had a timeline for rectifying the fault, and other such questions gets exchanged.

Of course the fact that the mosquitoes have a fields play with uninterrupted source of food chain. The interesting thing about power cut was that it brought people together.

In our house, when there is a power outage the family members get together in the verandah because that is the only place with a grill that provides fresh air. The conversation ranges from any wild topics or it would be extempore singing sessions with entire family members.

Of course, appa and amma would hum and let us do the hard singing. We never thought about being a nuisance to the neighbors. Surprisingly, they never complained!

Mostly, songs from Raj Kapoor movies and some early and late 80’s will be explored. Surprisingly, we never tried the current songs. These days the music channels screen the latest movie songs and make it almost as popular as the old time songs.

There were different types of power outage experience for me. When I was in the fourth and the fifth grades, the power-cuts-based socializing was different from, the one I had as a adolescent.

Those from the school days were to race to put out the candle when the current vibed on the line. Especially during the time when Cricket matches were going on then, there would be the battery operated transistor blaring scores and the small community of like-minded listeners would gather.

This state of natural sharing happened when people got together during times of distress. Even to this day, it quietly happens when I have conversation over the windows with my neighbors.

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Realms of Fairy Tales in King’s County Library

I had visited King’s County Library twice and the first one was to find books on painting and the second was for Fairy tales. My short visit to Seattle was for pleasure and some time with important people in life. I love visiting libraries, which ever part of the world that I travel to. I make sure wherever it is, I visit one in the vicinity.

King’s County was a small library compared to Larkin Library in San Francisco, CA. This library catered to small community, but then, the collection of books and magazines are one up than the local Indian library.

During my first visit to the library, I was in search for pictures that I could replicate using Acrylic paints. But unfortunately, I couldn’t find any in the library.

Here was my issue at hand, I had a painting project underway with no images to replicate.

After much searching around I found a poster with common birds in Seattle and settled down to replicate them. My revised painting project theme, became the common birds in US, specifically Seattle.

By the time, I made the second visit my project of five common birds had been completed and I was moving on to write a fairy tale flavored short story for age group of 6-9 years.

I wanted to know about Fairies where else but the library will be the only place to get inputs on the topic. My generous relative dropped me off at the library and promised to pick me up. I had an hour and the whole library was mine! Heaven!

For a moment, I just stood there and felt the emotional calm of the place. Then, I browsed and found the small collection of books still in the library with the help of the Librarian.

Within a few minutes I was in the world of fairies and nuances of their ways with humans became three dimensional view. Imagination in a human is the best gift that gets doubled, when the mind also churns lot of more details from text to image transition.

I was so engrossed in the details of various kinds of fairies and other elements connected with various countries, that I forgot where the time had flown. Among the various stories and research materials that I read, there was one from Norway which was very intriguing.

The fairies were also known as Little People who were well-versed in playing instrument and mesmerizing people. The story was about a human mocking a fairy and challenging that he could play the very tune better than the fairy. The boastful man challenges to play the tune and come out of maze unscathed.

But the little people keep him imprisoned in the maze and so this flute player’s tune is often heard from the channel’s in the ground. I was totally taken in by the story.

The library’s calm and peaceful environment was such an inspiration that I was shocked when my phone vibrated in my pocket. I jerked into the present and started to get ready to leave the library.

I remember that moment even now as an emotional touchstone, wherein the reality and imagination have a head-on collision. Sometimes, I live for those kind of moment. The world of books is a great elixir when the reader least expects.

 

Photo Courtesy: Srividya Suri

If I Can Read, So Can You!

Reading habit is only for the book lovers! – is definitely a false notion! People who start out to cultivate the habit of reading fall prey to this hurdle. This hurdle hinders the progress of taking up reading habit among beginners.

Let me remove this mental hurdle by stating that, anyone who wish to start reading can do so, in small baby steps and with achievable goals.

People with different levels of reading ability can still learn the habit of reading. Try with a few pages every day before bedtime. It is an excellent way to relax after a stressful day as explained by Reading Partners.

Reading is slowly built through regular practice of picking a book at a fixed time. Reading skill leads to enriching experiences in life.

Anyone who is familiar with the Three R’s of reading would understand the joy one can derive from it.

And the Three R’s are pretty simple too!

To take in reading as an habit, it is necessary to bring about a change in your habits. You know well that change is ‘hard in the beginning’, ‘messy in the middle’ and ‘gorgeous in the end’.

I am not saying that you would become a prolific reader who finishes a book every day. No, but what I am saying is that you may be able to read at the very least two pages a day of your favourite author’s work.

The idea is to start in small baby steps and progress towards improving your reading skills with assured confidence.

Reading can be enriching to all who practice it!

Reading activity engages the mind at various levels and improves the chances of opening up venues to connect with the current language skills and present-day socio-lingual interpretations.

Language is a dynamic element in a human life. The fact that Human are the only species given the capability to produce meaningful bunch of sounds and effect a communication through it.

But the surprising things about current day methods of communication are that, the return of the hieroglyph styled graphics are replacing the actual words. The speed at which people scroll through information in the form of words, images and sounds in their electronic gadgets can be very interesting study; but then, it could be challenging too.

Though the mind is built to handle large scale of data and process it much more efficiently than a super computer, it is necessary to slow down and actually read a book that has structured syntax.

A book allows you to slow down and read through each and every word, to get the complete picture of what the writer wishes to explore with the readers.

So what are these three R’s?!

Reforming, Recollecting and Rewarding! The benefits of reading make for an experientially richer person and grander personality.

Since with each book read, the reader undergoes pseudo-experience through the fiction or non-fiction presented to them!

Reforming is an outcome of varied reading

The first R or Reforming is the basic benefit of the reading habit cultivation.

When the reader’s perceptions begin to expand through the act of reading, then the outcome will result in better human understanding.

A book is a form of having a personal conversation that is at an intellectual level with another person without the restriction of social interaction.

There are times when the thoughts represented in the book might run parallel or converges with the belief system of the reader.

This experience with the book leads to new understanding of varying perspectives. The varied experience in the world of books actually enables a reader to be better fitted for taking a studied approach to problems.

As a way to problem-solving ability building, the reading habit helps with multiple views, which are given exposure through wide reading or pseudo-experiential knowledge.

Since one may not be able to experience everything in life, the books become a source of gaining experience by reimagining the written words.

Recollecting with impressive remembrance

The second R or Recollecting is the after effect of the reading habit.

For every reader, there is a special bonding with their specific favourite books. While reading it, the reader can discover and later cement the shared concepts in their reflective memory.

The best way to appreciate a thought placed in a book is, when it becomes etched as a memory in the reader’s mind!

There have been innumerable moments when people have been so impressed with the writer’s thought that they would happily reproduce it as their own. Ownership feeling that comes from the experience of reading is truly ecstatic!

The beauty of the words arrangement and the in-built naturalness becomes a new understanding through the act of reading.

It is not rare to see people recite it with equal flair of competent, which the writer aimed to showcase for the world to experience.

Reading is a reward by itself!

The third R or Rewarding is a very subjective matter. It is as diverse as Science and Arts subjects!

In this mechanized life, everybody is seeking to reach the high scales of self and social based expectations. The act of reading is a reward by itself and joy gained from the act is fulfilling by itself.

Sometimes, the current century’s outlook of being successful and a winner who beats all the games to reach the top can be very restrictive. One cannot place the definition of success in life by mere social recognition standards.

Sometimes, the rewards of reading a book are not an immediately recognized change in the socio-economic condition of a person.

Let say, you pick a book about making more money. You will not become rich the very next day! Surprisingly, that is not a factual truth and is an illusion.

The actual rewards of reading are intrinsic and internal growth which may or may not be visible for all to see.

Reading books will allow you to explore various thought systems which are available among our human thinking minds.

Reward of reading is not just the similarity in the readership experiences; but differences too are rewarding! The aim should be to expand one’s knowledge base not just within our comfort zones; but also, based outside of our comfort zones.

So then, pick a book to Reform, Recollect and Reward yourself, even if, you disagree with the writer for the most parts of their book!

Finding the Writer’s Flow

Have you ever experienced that sense of lightness that comes while working on a special piece. There is such a race of ideas that nothing else count for the moment but the task at hand. I have had those moments but they are like the butterflies wings. Touch it and your fingers are colored with their skin dust. The Positive Psychology calls it as “Flow.”

Steven Kotler in his article “Flow States and Creativity” in Psychology Today, provides a technical definition of ‘Flow’ as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.”

I found this state, whenever I have found myself just sufficiently challenged. At the same time, if few of the information were backed by my past experiences, then the combination is a killer one. Within this relative familiarity section I discover my inference of the self in slow disclosing pattern.

Flow according to me is something that happens to your state of being. It is like, I find myself inside a warp-hole where everything is about what I am doing. Somehow, I am accomplishing it but blocking rest of the noise and distraction of my reality. I become engrossed in my own little world that I have made for myself.

But generally a Flow State is a human experience that an employee goes through in professional place, while accomplishing a slightly beyond the reach of the employee’s limit challenge, with their entire focus of attention zeroed in on the task.

There are many books on the working of human brain that have explained how the various processes happen within the brain. Encyclopedia Britannica even goes to the extent of explaining that the brain processes less than 50 bits in a second.

Psychologists in their line of research have found that when a brain is engrossed completely to exclusion all other distraction, then the subject under study is experiencing the “Flow state.”

A Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who was the pioneer of Flow research has found such wealth of information about this state. He founded the Positive Psychology and propagated ‘Flow’ concepts. He began his research in 1975 and since then, much development in the research has happened.

What brings about this state? This state happens at what condition? These and other questions are far more interesting to note. The flow state needs certain individual’s internal physical and psychological weather condition to kick in.

He kick-started his tests with artists and creative types; later he expanded his research work towards other professions too. He used experience sampling method (ESM) to observe the subject under scrutiny.

It was in these tests that he came to know of High-flow and Low-flow states, where he also found out how these states influence his subject under study.

Csikszentmihalyi’s research had brought out the following six factors that result in the occurrence of flow in individuals:

  • Completely intense focused concentration on the current moment
  • Action and awareness become one
  • Loss of reflective self-consciousness
  • Complete control of the involved task
  • Distortion of temporal experience
  • Having an asautotelic or activity providing a intrinsically rewarding experience

He states in his book “Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life” that “if you are interested in something, you will focus on it, and if you focus attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it. Many of the things we find interesting are not so by nature, but because we took the trouble of paying attention to them.”

In our work day we make a number of choices and decisions. The flow depends on what we choose to do and how we planned to perform it, this then would make our evaluation of our tasks as blur of events or almost art form of accomplishments.

Of late, I am watching the Flow word in my workplace application. My mind goes to the other meaning of the word Flow. When words “work” and “flow” combines in my brain I’m busy thinking about the flow happens within me.

When I get interested in the task I completely forget the office and people around. That kind of state, I actually don’t feel hunger either. I found the trick to be happy in my flow doing any type of writing tasks. The point is, the state of flow is an intense feeling that grips the experiencing person’s complete attention to exclusion of everything.

Within this state one could be close to the state of meditative silence. In this silence creativity can be nurtured and expanded to its relative stretch. Writing act is also a kind of experience that takes over all other distractions into its vortex of creative silence.

I usually have a set of activity such finding a uncluttered spot and use the same device to write. I would begin with reading up a little of the draft or old works to get into a swing. Once the mind kicks in I am ready to give free reign to my imagination.

I absolutely, love to be in that state and to explore until I feel content. Check out for yourself if you can find your flow in blogging or any writing activity!

Research

Flow, the secret to happiness

http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?language=en

Alex Vermeer, works for MIRI

http://alexvermeer.com/finding-flow/

Leo Babauta, Zen Writer from San Francisco

http://zenhabits.net/guide-to-achieving-flow-and-happiness-in-your-work/

Pursuit of Happiness

http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/getting-in-the-flow/

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/mihaly-csikszentmihalyi/

Quotes

http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/27446.Mihaly_Csikszentmihalyi

Image Source: https://armidarhea.wordpress.com/module-3b/

Feeding the Child Right

I feel truly inspired after my solids feeding session with my youngest niece D2 and the idea was to write a fairy tale; but then here I’m writing a CNF. Life is truly a wonderful gift and if one could spend time seeing it with the right attitude.

My nieces and nephews have always been my inspiration. I still remember that I wrote my first short story for my brother’s first daughter N. Then, I wrote a poem for A and for K my brother’s youngest daughter, I wrote a ballad. Then both A and K together created a partially done story-line which was converted into visual medium, my little Minions!

Whereas, in my sister’s children case, I wrote a story for my nephew D and for Niece D2, I was inspired to write a fairy tale. There was such great fun with children. Actually, D2 is watching me write lying on my lap. She wants to type too, but then I have to tell her, that “Dearest, I will give you a chance like your brother.”

Life is all about learning new things and with children you learn a lot more. My first experience with feeding my nieces and nephews began with N when she was returning to her home. We had camped in our eldest uncle’s flat in Mumbai and that is when I had the pleasure to hold N on my lap as she was fed by my SIL.

I watched her eat her solids and something in my heart moved and the story found its nebulous start to form in my mind. It took me more than three months to write that story. I even sent it to my brother to read out to the baby N who will not understand a word of it.

N was the first for so many of first time things story-wise. When we paired up to create imaginary things it used to be complete March Madness and peerless Spring Equinox. I feel that it is easier to write if I used my little family members as audience for my stories. I found stories that used them were more interesting and compelling.

My sister’s son D was so interested in Russian folk tales. I, somehow am attracted to folk tales and fairy tales, which gives me great inner pleasures to explore in great depth. I have a latest collection of folk tales by Nelson Mandela presented by SIL after her Africa vacation.

Even today, I can still feel the magic of watching Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre production of fairy tales. There is much that can be learned and unlearned with children. When we become adults our sense of finding right and wrong becomes too strong. See life with a child’s mind everything will be funny and absolutely comical.

But for the first time D2 inspired me to write a magical realism story. Why not a fairy tale that has a single heroine! It should be her adventure and doesn’t end with her married and living happily ever after in a castle in the far away rich kingdom.

Long time ago in the land far known to all the little people, there was a little baby Rose. Her father was an adventurer who was lost in the search of a unique star outside the rims of the Universe. Rose wanted to find her father, so leaves her mother’s gentle care, and goes in search of her father. With this base, any level of expansion can be done.

But then, where is the magical realism in this?! But then, it is a nebulous and much is unsaid. D2 is interested in the story since she is eager to type. Okay short break. While D2 is happily playing in her Gimboree figuring textures, I get to write.

Both my brother’s and sister’s children are keen readers and their sense of humor is so typical of fun loving children which is part of our family DNA. I enjoy reading magical realism so much, that I feel, the stories with magic in them makes them truly wonderful.

Annotated with my niece’s musical rendition of happiness that can be found in her singing voice, I find that books of fairy tales and folk tales could provide children with innumerable new understanding. Nebulous is expanding and finding it own creative energy which means it is time to write that story.

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[Poetry] Exploring Romantic Poets from Britain

Poetry can quietly get into your mind and create a load of emotions which gives pleasure. I had an especially soft spot for Romantic Poets of Britain. I liked the various movement poets for a unique reason, given that I like to be widely read. But I loved nature worship so much, that Romanticism movement was closer to my likings than other movements.

My best four poets of the Romanticism movement were William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats. All these poets praised and extolled the power of nature. They explored with words the immeasurable beauty of nature.

I remember reading these Romantic poems as a young girl in my 8th grade. Around that time I had begun experimenting writing down my emotions in a young and formfree poems, which were too emotional and lacking in balance. I never experimented with anything more than four line stanzas based poems since that was the level of my control over the lines happened to be.

But my interest in reading romantic poems was a spiritual experience which I will never trade-off for anything. In the cloak of a poem, one could easily annotate one’s life experiences with sharp words.

These four poems, that I am interested in sharing here carries their own wonderful and different beat. William Wordsworth was far more cheerful than Samuel T Coleridge. Or even for that matter each of these Romantic Poets had their own special style of glorifying Mother Nature.

The pleasure given by each of the above poems is basically unique. It is like there are different emotions running around in our mind. The power of poetry captures within those few words a world of expressions.

Daffodils’ made me feel so spirited and positive. Yet in the presence of such wondrous image of the flowers sway and dipping in synchronous way makes a human heart to feel it deep within their soul.

Frost at Midnight’ brought out the protective mother in me. Though set at a dark place yet it shows sparks of innocence that becomes a prayer for the dear ones that come into our lives.

The Cloud’ was bouncy and almost begging for it to rain its knowledge on me. I always felt that cloud cannot be captured and shut into few verses; but then, P B Shelley just does that.

To Autumn’ made me smile at John Keats way of praising and extolling the greatness of the season. Somehow I like the British Autumn over American Fall. The word ‘Autumn’ has a sensuality to it which a mere ‘Fall’ can never replace.

If I could just take my pick of words from both the variant languages then I will take some from British and some from American and some from Indian English.

Any language for that matter has the power to penetrate into the inner most recess of the human heart and bring about a change. I feel a poem is a combination of a poet’s entire rainbow of emotions. Their personalities become the strongest presence that calls out to human sensitivity.

Not only do I just enjoy the presence of a poem; but also enjoy creating them too. Because of its emotional content I tend to keep my poetry just for myself and share with no one. Yet sometimes there is a secular poem that burst forth for sharing. Those poems are rare and as always have my emotional side coloring it.

Larking at Larkin Main Branch Library in SFO

Larkin’s Main Branch Library was my hangout space on days when I felt that I made a wrong choice to study MFA in Writing at CCA. Especially, during the winter my mood swings were really bad, I made sure that I picked my mood dead carcass to the Library. The choice was between Mission Library and Larkin Main Branch. Mission won mostly.

During my stay in San Francisco, I was entirely dependent on Google Maps for directions to any place in US. It was almost close to real address. I am a person who gets lost in my bedroom, so it was quite a challenge to reach places. But it used to be so exciting to take that printout at the Writer’s Studio, kind family members house or even jotting it down on a piece of paper.

This also meant that I had to plan my visit to the place way ahead of the time, since I needed the printout of the directions. I would only take printout of those directions, which are really crucial; but for the rest, I would depend on writing it down.

Surprising thing about the Google Maps would be, that you can actually plan to the last minute of your travel plan. Of course, I took longer to walk to the BART and Muni stops, so I would plan a couple of minute earlier departures from my start point.

So the first time that I went to Larkin Library was on a sunny chill morning of October. I needed to find some material which the Mission Library indicated as available in the Main Branch.

It was pretty much easy to go to Larkin Street, if I took the BART from 24th Mission Station to Civi Center Station. I would find a spot to sit down to dream away hugging my backpack.

My backpack was special because it had everything that I needed. There have been times, when I felt, if I started to walk away with just my backpack, then I really didn’t need anything at all.

The interesting thing about going to the Main Branch Library was that I would be confused which exit to take. It happened every single time I get out of the Civi Center Station, even if I have visited the place almost many times, I would get lost and have to figure the place despite my jotted directions. I simply don’t get the left or right directions and get confused very quickly.

I had very few friends and I tried not to disturb them with my pestering company. But I must say my friends in US were really interesting people, who I enjoyed spending time with. The pull of a quiet library is very stronger than talking with people. I still remember the day when I shared silence with a fellow writer Veronica. She didn’t mind my being quiet and talking intermittently.

That’s one thing you can say for the friends from CCA, they provided me space to just shut off and remain silent. I read so many of their works for the workshop and I wished that I could talk to them about it on a one-on-one bases. But my shyness got the better of me and I couldn’t really talk to them all. I always landed not stating what I felt about the piece even in the workshops.

My first semester was such a huge stress for me. I didn’t know the place but it was not strange that I was in a new place. Since I could connect to the place at a higher level, it was the people that I needed my energies to settle down. Once I settle down, then it is so easy to converse.

One fine October Sunday in 2010, my mood swings were really high and I needed the calm space of the library. I got ready and started towards the Larkin branch library and religiously jotted down the details of the directions. It so happened that I had arrived early to the destination. So I had to hang out until the library opened for the day.

Out there at the location, I found a Sunday market and hung around to look at things being sold in temporary stalls. There was this sense of places mixing in my head and I remembered markets of Singapore and Chennai. All my commerce day lessons came rushing to my mind.

The sense of place in my life is very connected and especially when I needed to find my inner balance. After hanging for about an hour the library doors opened and I went in.

My first impression of the library could be summed up in a word, Palace. The architecture of the library was so Roman and I felt like Alice floating in air. For the first visit, I was just hanging out there on polished floor and tall rooms. I felt I might have lost a few inches, since I felt the rest of the people were taller than me.

I remember the grey shades of the library warmed by brown shades of desks, shelves and splatter of colors that were the bound books. The first visit was just spent walking around the place. It was only in my second visit that I even try to take out the book that I had searched in Mission Library.

I relaxed to the moment spent in the library and my peace restored with my confidence in me to go on. There is no amount of talking can get me to calm down, as much as a visit to a library can accomplish. Larkin Main Branch Library was my angel in disguise.

Image Source: https://sfpl.org/

Libraries Are My Soul Healers

My childhood, youth and womanhood have been spent in various libraries. I love things being arranged even though I lacked the talent to arrange things. But my life has such wonderful moments that are pure communion of my spirits with higher spirits.

Places and spaces influence me and it is after a while that I notice people. Usually I’m in my own world when I am in a library. The library has always been the answer to calming down my emotions which get haywire at the drop of the hat.

My First Library | West Mambalam, Chennai

My brother took both my sister and me to the library. It was pretty trick stuff for him. But both of us are good followers. We were well warned not to run amok on the main road. So I remember spending time sifting all the comic books. We were given a budget of one book each. But eventually my brother got two more books for us.

That way I must say my sibling and I sport affections that are almost similar to each other, in the cases of comic books. My sister loved less wordy more graphics. I still remember how both of us would giggle uncontrollably when we saw the Roman’s flying in the air in Asterix and Obelix series. The humor that is so apparent in the comic is really a “vera level” (a different level).

School Library | T’nagar, Chennai

I was in my eighth grade, when my school started having the library open for students during the lunch hour. I would always rush to get my share of all those young reader books. I picked innumerable Agatha Christie mystery novel. My favorites were Hercule Poirot, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. I usually solve the mystery before it gets over. I used to enjoy myself immensely.

British Council Library & American Council Library | Chennai

I was so far only familiar with a dusty local library and maybe organized small area library books in school; but then, heck man, I love books whether dusty or clean or clustered or spaced-out. My first spacious library was British Council Library during my college days and I loved reading all the classics that I could lay my hand on.

G K Chesterton was my all-time favorite. I loved P G Wodehouse and Jeeves series was simply superb to read and enjoy. Later I also joined American Council Library and mind you that place was so calm and silent.

Yishun Community Library | Singapore

One of my needs was to be in a place close to the Library. My ex-husband found a place close to the Yishun Community Library and even to this day I am most thankful for that one kind deed. Library would be where I would be after lunch and I totally enjoyed myself.

I was able to find volunteering jobs with the Library and I was most happy. I would volunteer to arrange the books and tell stories in the library storytelling room.

I have this wonderful story from Yishun Library that it is etched in my memory forever. I was on my fourth Thursday of story reciting stage when it was close to Christmas and I wanted to pick a story about Jesus and the manger. But found a Santa Claus story which I happily recited to my little group of young listening minds.

When I finished the book one little Chinese boy got up and said can we hear the music attached to the book. There was a button in the book which when pressed gives out music. The boy showed it to me and I was totally unaware of it. I was doubtful whether the music will play; but still went along with his suggestion. We found out that it worked and the group of six children all took turns to press the button. That day I felt I owned the world.

Woodland Public Library | Singapore

The Woodland Public Library was a sight for my sore eyes. Whenever I felt emotionally empty I would go to the library traveling by SMRT and sneakily enjoying an egg puff.

There was huge water fountain in the library which blended with the ambiance completely. I would spend hours with a book in my hand in front of the fountain. It was almost like Zen meditation for me.

I picked some really wonderful adult graphic books and the children section was divine. I loved sitting in the short chair watching all the children run around and quiet ones with a book in a hand under the artificial tree that was kept in the middle.

There could be any amount of discomfort in my life; but it would all melt when I am in the library. Life is filled up with moments such as these in plenty. These moments are all surrounded by good book read or emoted with in the course of my reading it.

Mission Library | San Francisco, Calif.

I was not really checking out for places near a Library to stay, but then magically, I found that Bartlett Street had a library and I would ever so often, walk down the street and pick some books from the Mission library. Library is the best place for me emotionally and spiritually. I always found my balance when I visit a library.

These days I don’t visit Libraries as often as I used to; but keep finding new things to read by actually creating my own little library at home