The Cycle of Life

It is hard to think of anything else while you and your bicycle are going down a hill at full speed. When all you hear is the rattling iron and all you see is the unending road ahead. With the wind in your hair, you feel you can do anything! Maybe, losing some control is the best way to gain some insight.

Yes! We have bought a bicycle. My friend, AA and I always wanted one. Since the start of college, we had been eyeing every cycle-owner with envy, imagining how it would feel to own such a thing of beauty. We had also been putting it off for the next semester. But after ‘some’ delay we are finally proud owners of our bicycle. We call her ‘Siyahi’, owing to her navy blue colour. And boy! we are in love with her.

If you happen to come down to NITK , and you see two girls on a cycle, one with her hands stretched wide, kissing the breeze and the other trying really hard to balance, while peddling with all her might, you can safely assume that they are us. Who is who, I will not reveal here.

I have spent the past month honing my riding skills, which in my case meant learning how to ride a cycle all over again. To people who say that you can never forget how to ride, I would say… Well…Yes, you can! It is possible! After seven years of staying off the wheel, I was falling into the ditch again. But that’s a thing of the past now. I have successfully conquered that obstacle and I am glad to inform you that now there is more riding than falling involved when I hit the pedal. It has been so long since I learned something. Not just read and later forgot. Like actually LEARN! There is something so pure about the joy of completing a physical task, where its just you and your body, and nobody else. When you are zooming straight ahead, the world turns into a tunnel. Everything looks like a movie being played in fast forward.  Its you and the road. Nothing else matters. You keep going on, hoping that this would never end. This feeling of being the master of your destination - the master of your fate.

After many riding sessions around the campus, I finally feel confident to take her out. Pavinje is a river bank close to our college. AA and I will be going there tomorrow for our first out-of-college-Siyahi adventure. I promise to put up pictures of the sunrise. Hopefully, we will get up on time. For now, here are some pictures of the good times:

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ITTF STIGA Trick Shot - Ganapathi Subramanian

The International Table Tennis Federation ( ITTF) is set in search of the world’s best table tennis trick shot. The ITTF STIGA Trick Shot Showdown, challenges Table tennis enthusiasts around the world to send in their best ever table tennis trick shot to prove to the world they have the best trick shot in the world. The 2014 showdown promises to be the best ever. In addition to the prestigious title of owning the world’s best table tennis trick shot, the winner will also walk away with US$4,000, , one-year STIGA Sponsorship, and a 4 day 3 night trip to the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Bangkok, Thailand to meet top table tennis stars.

R. Ganapathi Subramanian, a third year B.tech student of NIT Trichy, whirls in his trick as the only entry from India. A blind folded back service to hit a small target that falls as the dot placed upon i in “STiGA”. The trick is performed with all its elegance and tint. Watching him blindfold himself at the start of the trick, in a place away from the TT table, makes the trick interesting and obviously more challenging. To blind fold oneself and yet manage to hit from the right spot is great talent and relentless practice. It is jaw dropping as one watches the ball tip-tap and turn around before it bounce across the net. And it is amazing as the ball skims the coin on its path. To see the coin fall to complete the dot on ‘i’ in “STiGA” is pure elegance.

“A trick that completes STIGA” it can be called.

Being the only participant from India in this international level competition, Ganapathi Subramanian stands taller among other participants and his trick needs encouragement. To watch him perform click here.

Having won the third maximum views online, Ganapathi Subramanian has made it to the finals of this prestigious competition. Fighting among other top 5, this only Indian participant has made the world look upon Indian Table Tennis. Fueled purely by his passion for Table Tennis, Ganapathi Subramanian has steered his way to the finals. The finalist is chosen on a vote basis. To vote for Ganapathi Subramanian click here. For the Indian spirit in you, follow and vote for him.

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Maria

 

It was half-past moon when I heard the sobbing

echoing through the walls and raining upon my window.

I could hear your quivering lips on the other side!

Why were you shy Maria? Why were you afraid?

Of coming to me?

Did you think I’d sprinkle your tears

on the wounds you made on me?

I can hear your smell at the door…

I put my hand on the knob and feel

the heat of your skin…

I have been standing where you left me Maria

I’ve felt the sting of all those men making love to you.

I have seen your broken shadow twitching under the bedspread!

And every time I wanted to dip my fingers in your chest!

And pluck the black-hole from your heart!

But now that you’re at the door Maria

I’d lick your voice clean of all the sobs.

Pluck stars from the nest of darkness

and plant them in your hair!

So that every time the wind kisses your neck,

a song is born in the black-hole of your heart.

 

 

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Prayers for Bobby: Are we killing our own children?

Prayers for Bobby is a simple, heart-touching film. It does not boast of fancy locales, cutting-edge technology or high melodrama. Rather, it tells the story of a mother who is guilty of killing her son through her actions and her journey towards redemption. So Bobby is a teenager who grows up in a close-knit family in the suburbs with the dream of becoming a writer one day. But to his utter dismay and fear, he discovers that he is not like the other guys his age. Bobby has a secret and he realizes that this secret would turn his world upside down. Unable to deal with the torrent of questions and doubts that plague him day and night, Bobby attempts suicide. However, his failed attempt brings his secret to the limelight and all hell breaks loose in the happy family. Bobby, who has always been his mother’s favourite child, discovers revulsion and rejection in his mother’s eyes. He fights a losing war with himself, torn between his own happiness and his mother’s rejection of who he is, until one day, unable to come to terms with her repulsion, he leaps from a bridge.

As one might have guessed by now, Bobby was gay. He was one of those who the society tags a ‘freak’, an ‘abnormality’. His mother’s obsession with purging Bobby of this ‘disease’ makes her blind to her son’s struggles. She fails to see that Bobby is dying everyday, a little at a time! Bobby’s suicide starts to feel like a murder: a murder of an innocent at the hands of societal norms, the murder of a child at the hands of his own mother due to lack of acceptance in her! Bobby’s fall is the fall of humanity into the abyss of prejudice and discrimination. When Bobby dies, so does a part of humanity. The movie pokes the latent but vicious dragon of social stigma in the eye.

Bobby and many others like him die everyday. All we do is come up with opinions, counter opinions and more opinions. Here is a society that only excels at debating. Questions are many, answers are pre-formulated and prejudiced opinions. What goes unnoticed in the cacophony of voices are the lives that are at stake. Social stigma and the fear of being a social outcast are becoming inconspicuous but potent weapons of mass murder. In such a scenario, are we not becoming guilty of genocide? All it takes is acceptance and support from the dear ones, from the ones they love. The taboo that we associate with LGBT is not something made in the heavens. It is not something that we should blame on the gods and religious faiths. The taboo is born out of our minds, out of the lack of acceptance in us, out of our disbelief, out of our rejection of anything that is a little different from what the masses do! And such a taboo can only disappear the day we decide to let go of our faulty prejudices. After all, god only helps those who help themselves. The syndrome of homosexual discrimination and detest does not have answers in the holy books. The only cure lies in our minds and perceptions. So before you call someone ‘gay’ or make fun of a guy because of his ‘girly’ mannerisms and vice versa, spare a thought. Would you have done the same had people discriminated against you for choosing choosing tea over coffee?

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Attempts at a love poem

I knock on your door

you take my hand

and we run…

We are knee-deep in grass.

drops of sunlight

rain down upon us.

I collect a handful-

you give me a chase,

we run through the grass

we stumble and we fall,

scattering a few sun rays.

Our breaths become a

whistling wind through reeds.

I tear away and collect

your smiles.

Days from now when

the shadows grow long,

I shall keep them

on the window-sill.

And find rain, storm and sunshine

in your smile.

 

 

 

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Storyteller

So here in my studio

in a deserted attic,

I try to make stories

out of memories of moments.

Nobody finds me here while

I develop pictures:

black and whites, sepias,

colours and monotones.

I hang them up

and let them dry.

But I can not drain the voices

trapped in them!

Unfinished stories float before me

like vanishing patterns of a kaleidoscope.

Do they even know?

That I want to make stories?

These people and these things that

move about in rectangular frames?

Inside my studio in the attic

the gargle of traffic moans,

banging from wall to wall,

trying to find their voices

in these photographs!

Stories enter the storyteller’s den.

They never leave!

I try to make stories of moments

in pavements and in streets!

I want to tell stories.

Instead, stories come to me.

And I am left to wonder

what happened after this…

 

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Gill Ma’am

The fans are spinning at full speed, spreading the yawns all around. The desks are neatly arranged in rows with the students sitting in pairs staring at the blackboard, which is now ghostly white, reminding us again of the long day at middle school. I am seated on the third bench from the front, feeling as uncomfortable as any teenager. I look at the ‘cool’ kids around. I feel lost and out of place. Most days at schools were like this. The sun would rise and reach up high, while we sat there staring blankly ahead. But that day, she walked in. Wearing a crisp cotton sari, devoid of makeup with her hair worn really short and her spectacles reaching right down to the tip of the nose, she wished us. Her voice commanded attention and in one ‘Good morning’, we all sat up straight. She would be our English teacher.
She studied the rows and columns, taking everything in with one strong piercing stare. We knew then that her class would be like no other. She taught us poetry, Shakespeare, grammar and William Blake. English had never been taught with so much passion before.

One day, she announced that we would be writing an article about the contrast between the life of an underprivileged boy and a rich boy. The first task would be to come up with a catchy title. ”A good title is never longer than five words”, she said.
“Think hard! Then come up to my desk, tell me what thought of. Surprise me!”.
I remember, I took more time thinking about the title than the article itself. I had to get it just right. When it sounded perfect in my head, I gathered my courage to go up to her. Her persona was intimidating, so I walked as slow as I could.

She was busy correcting into our class notebooks, placing dots above the ‘i’s. She was so deeply immersed that she failed to notice me. I managed to utter a feeble “Ma’am…”. Still lost in her job, she inquired, “What is it, Ishani?”

“I thought of a title, Ma’am.”
“Let’s hear it then?”
“So similar yet so different.”

To this day, I remember her reaction. She put her glasses aside, closed her register and looked up. And then, she smiled. “Well then, go ahead.” I knew that I had done well. I had created beauty. And, she was the first one to appreciate my creation. That is how it all started. That day, I saw the strength in my words.

I have come a long way from there. The last seven years have brought about a tide of change. I am little less awkward and a little more confident. I have met some great people in college, who encourage me to write, even on the days I feel too lazy to do so. ‘The Fishbowl Network’ has given a platform to my writing and I don’t feel so lost anymore. I have often thought of that day and wondered how my life would have turned out if that class had never happened. Maybe, I would have never discovered my love for words. Maybe, I would be incomplete. I had been yearning to meet her. I wished to thank her for all she had done, but always got caught up with trivialities of life. I did go to Delhi quite a few times, but never made an effort. You see, I thought I had time.

This summer was spent in Bhutan. Encircled by mountains, life was going pretty good. My mum’s colleague invited us over for dinner one day. There was good food and great company, chatter and laughter all around. There I met a boy, who was an year younger to me. I found out he had graduated out of the same school. I was overjoyed. I eagerly asked him about her, and how she was doing. He looked straight into my eye, and said, “Didn’t you hear?”

I took a deep breath. Somehow, I knew what he was going to say next.

“She passed away last year.”

I lay awake the entire night thinking about her. Twisting and turning in my bed, I thought of that day again. I thought of her smile, her sari, and her thin glasses. I felt like I had cheated her. In my bubble, I had forgotten about the harsh truth of life - the fact that it is too short.

It is impossible to talk her now but I would like her know that she is big reason that I am a writer today. Thank you, Gill Ma’am. I wouldn’t be who I am today, if you hadn’t looked up and smiled.

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