Monkton Mondays!

I keep meaning to write and when I finally sit down to do so…I see it’s been 3 weeks since I last did! I could apologise but I’ve been busy having good times πŸ˜› I mean…one has to occaisonally go about and do happy blog-worthy stuff no? πŸ˜‰ Lets see…last I posted was just before we left for Goa for Junior’s spring break. What followed were four glorious days of fun and frolic with friends and family πŸ™‚ Break was longer but I had carefully choreographed the visit so it sou;don’t exceed my tolerance threshold! Make of that what you will πŸ˜› but if you’re anything like me and/or know me well, you’ll understand why I can only manage short bursts of joy in Mom’s home! Believe me it’s better that way for the both of us πŸ˜‰

Back home in Bangalore and we still had a weekend before school re-opened, so we visited the Banerghatta Biological Park and took a safari. There’s also a zoo which we avoided on advise from most friends who said it was totally avoidable. The safari was great fun though, and although the animals are in a controlled environment, it’s nonetheless exciting to spot a lion, a bear and a tiger…lolling around and sleeping off the dry summer heat πŸ™‚ Junior was beside himself with joy and I’m always happy to get that perfect shot. In June, we are off to Kabini – to visit the Nagarhole National Park. I’m super excited at the thought and am crossing every part of my body and mind in the hopes of seeing a tiger in the wild!! I’ve heard one once in the Kaziranga National Park and the sound still gives meΒ gooseflesh in the best possible way.

This last weekend Junior turned 6 πŸ™‚ He still isn’t bothered about parties and so we did a cake-cutting in school, the day before and spent his Birthday morning visiting Martins Farm and playing with the farm animals there; while in the evening we saw Aladdin – a musical play where we met several of his classmates and they all had a ball running around in the manner of headless chickens πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜› I think they all enjoyed the goofing around more than the play!Β You know how little boys can get! And whileΒ I was looking for books as return gifts, I discovered Tullika. I’d heard of Tullika of course – an Indian Publishing house that does fabulous children’s books but didn’t know that they also offer special Birthday packages! Ordering the books was a piece of cake thanks to the prompt and extremely helpful Aneesha πŸ™‚ I picked my books and sent them a list and sat back and relaxed. They sent me the books wrapped in gorgeous wrapping paper that matched the book covers complete with printed Thank You cards!! They even sent Junior a free book as a Birthday gift. Truly awesome service Tullika!!! Thank-You once again, especially to Aneesha who co-ordinated with me πŸ˜€ Cannot recommend them enough!

Add to all of the above,Β planning a trip to Ooty on the 17th of this month, my ongoing Photography challenge and reading East of Eden…and you know I’ve been a busy bee! WellΒ that brings us unto today…the first day in a long time that my mind feels peaceful enough for aΒ return to a routine. Hubby’s Birthday is coming up on Friday, but since no gifts are to be given nor expected – it’s all cool πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜› And so to Mr. Monkton…It seems only fitting that I should dedicate this week’s post to Junior – who brings me more joy than I imagined possible and more hope that I believed existed. He makes all sadness bearable and all happiness happier πŸ™‚ And there are times when I look at him and wonder what it is in me that deserved him…whatever it is…I treasure it and I treasure him ❀ :* Now enough with the sappiness and lets get to it!

a-birthday-blessing-edward-monkton-6006096-0-1342798896000Happy Monday People πŸ˜€

Never miss a chance to dance in the rain!Β 

Take52 Challenge: Week 11 – Unlucky

This was a tough one! Bad luck doesn’t always make for great pictures – or so I thought! Turns out I was wrong. Of course πŸ˜› We have some fantastic pictures on the site…a blend of concepts and techniques that make for fascinating viewing! As always the process of learning continues.

So of course I was thinking about Luck and what it really means. Some people believe Luck is being prepared and ready to seize an opportunity as it arises. Some people, and I must include myself in this category, use it to define events, good and bad, over which we seemingly have no control. Perhaps the lack of control is an illusion? A question of perception? But when I think how minuscule we are, how ruled by circumstance, how reliant on the judgement and skill of others like us, in most situations, then I have to believe in some mechanism or underlying unifying force/aura/energy, call it what you will, that nudges the Universe in any one given direction. Of course our choices have power! They can sway the Universe too, I just feel that ever so often they are acting in conjunction with the ‘Unknown’! Or perhaps that’s just me indulging my dramatic side and my penchant for the mysterious, for Fantasy πŸ˜‰ Whatever the reason, I do believe. Coz how else can you explain why one person wins the million-dollar life-changing lottery, while others spend millions of dollars on lottery tickets that don’t win them a penny?! I think Luck adds a fun dimension to what might otherwise be a humdrum existence…being prepared all the time is very wise indeed but I’m not sure it’s much fun πŸ˜› Well not for me anyway – I’m much to instinctive to ever be prepared; but I’m prepared at all times to be instinctive πŸ˜‰

And on that very confusing and rather silly note, lets just get to the pictures shall we? πŸ˜€ I know, I know – I ramble…it’s what happens when adult interaction is at the minimum πŸ˜› The first things that I thought of were ‘black cats’ and ‘salt spills’ and in the absence of real, live cats, I decided to practice my photoshop skills and superimpose a stock image of one on to a picture of the Moon I had taken recently. Then in the same vein, I added some text to my picture of spilled salt which I had carefully arranged to spell Luck. Although I liked the way they turned out, none of them seemed right. Then I thought of the Snakes & Ladders game that is a current favourite with Junior and since Luck and games are so closely linked in our psyches, I decided to go with that. I used my Macro lens (it has become quite a favourite of mine even when I’m not actually shooting Macro), and clicked away! I quite liked the result. Let me know what you think, will ya? πŸ˜€

And here is the picture I took for the Challenge…

Unlucky-Dice

Here’s to a Lucky Weekend People!

May the Luck of the Draw be always in your favour πŸ™‚Β 

Monkton Mondays!

Today is Holi – The Festival of Colors! Like all things Indian, there are myriad stories that surround one festival πŸ˜‰ My favourite of the ones surrounding Holi, is the story of Prahlad, son of the Demon-king Hiranyakashyapu. How’s that for a tongue-twister eh? πŸ˜‰

Well, in manner of all Demons – old & new, this one too got so full of himself, that he declared that the World should worship only Him and none of the 36 million odd Gods that were around. However he harboured a fervent devotee of the Lord Vishnu (The Protector), in his own home, a fact that was like a humungous thorn in his demon-hide! The young prince Prahlad was pious and steadfast and under The Lord’s protection – a fact that saved him from several attempts on his Life. I think his Dad once tried to have him trampled to death by a mad bull elephant – NOT cool! Finally King H called on his evil sister (I wonder if she was a twin), conveniently named Holika (you see where this is going?) for help in killing his son. This is why I say – Family is overrated much πŸ˜›

Holika had a magical cloak (move over Harry!), that protected her from Fire. Supercool methinks! So anyway, she sat on a burning pyre, and on her lap sat Prince Prahlad, calmly meditating on The Lord’s name. I’m telling you – Meditation is the way to go People! And Lo and Behold (God, I’ve been dying to use that expression!), the cloak miraculously flew off her and onto the Prince, saving him. Meanwhile Holika was Toast! I must confess I feel a little sad for her, but then I’ve always enjoyed the Demon in me πŸ˜‰ But for the rest of the goody goody World – All’s Well that Ends Well! Good once again conquers Evil and one more festival is added to the ever-lengthening list πŸ™‚ And for those of you who are interested in the end of the story – The Lord Vishnu appears in the form of a lion-man, grabs the evil King, sits on the threshold and literally tears his heart out!! Oh yeah – Beware the Vengeful God People πŸ˜› Then the good Prince P becomes the good King P and everyone is happy except the dead and we all know they don’t count!

The purpose of the tale, other than it took me down memory lane and was fun to write πŸ˜‰ is to explain why we light a huge Bonfire on the night before Holi, and call it Holika! It signifies as always the triumph of Good and a phoenix-like renewal from the ashes of loss. I wonder if Rowling ever read this story? πŸ˜› Last night we witnessed our very own Holika and she was pretty fiery πŸ™‚ And although playing with colours traditionally follows the Holika, times they are a-changing my friends. We played with colours yesterday morning, because it was a Sunday and so – convenient πŸ™‚ It was fabulously fun though and Junior who’s been terrified of playing before, was happy to smear colours on us and himself and even willing to be drenched by water guns πŸ˜€ some of which by the way, could easily be mistaken for army-issue! He’s growing up and it makes me a little teary, but well – c’est la vie.Β 

In other weekend news – finally began Steinbeck’s East of Eden and am already half-living in the Salinas valley πŸ™‚ I’m just about a 50 pages in and already I know this is going to be an unforgettable saga of gargantuan proportions. Sorry for the floweriness πŸ˜› Have been wanting to use ‘gargantuan’ for ages too πŸ˜‰ And so on to Mr. Monkton…I chose this image because it reminded me of how ‘In the Groove’ we were yesterday – dancing to the latest Bollywood numbers, coloured faces grinning maniacally, carefree and happy! It was a good feeling! A Wonderful feeling πŸ˜€ I FELT it! And it’s very clear that Β Ms. Bunny feels it too πŸ˜€

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Happy Monday People!

May you always find COLOUR when you need it πŸ˜€

Take 52 Challenge: Week 10 – Angle

It’s all about Angles this week and suddenly I see them everywhere! This is the first time this has happened for me…that I’m literally seeing the subject of the Challenge everywhere, in everything, all the time! It’s rather overwhelming not to mention a tad weird πŸ˜› They are truly ubiquitous – whether in Nature or the man-made World, whether geometrical or metaphorically, as nouns or verbs…it’s all a matter of perspective. We’ve had some lovely angled shots this week…some soft, some sharp and some downright dramatic. Angles tend to do that – add drama. If you sense a metaphor coming, breathe easy πŸ˜‰ I’m steering well clear of them this week. There’s such a thing as too much thought and I’m just not in the mood. Although I must confess that was my intention when I began to write. You’re congratulating yourself on your lucky escape aren’t you? And the fickleness of my mind?! You and me both πŸ˜›

Last week for the Roots Challenge, I shunned Mother Nature and went man-made. This week I embraced Her πŸ™‚ And like most Mothers, she didn’t disappoint πŸ˜‰ I found this plant with dagger-like thorns encircling its thick stem from top to bottom – a throwback to some medieval torture instrument πŸ˜› They were protecting the most delicate greenish-pink buds that offered a wonderfully soft contrast. The flowers however I didn’t like very much…they were flat and lacked the alluring innocence of their younger selves! See, I promised no metaphors! How am I doing so far? πŸ˜‰ It was harder to get the right angle than I had imagined. Translating 3D into 2D is tough and doesn’t always work. I took a lot of shots and finally chose this one…

Natural Born Angles!
Natural Born Angles!

Here is what they were protecting…

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And here are some others I took just for fun…

The Weekend is upon us People! ENJOY every ANGLE πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€

Take52 Challenge: Week 9 – Roots

I should have posted this last week but better late than never! The theme of the Challenge was Roots, once again a word with many meanings and as many interpretations, several of which I’ve enjoyed viewing on our site. I love that about this Challenge, it’s making me look at things from different perspectives πŸ™‚ Again, I knew I didn’t want to take a traditional ‘root’ picture. For one, there weren’t any interesting roots or even root-like objects in the near vicinity. Lots of trees but with their roots tucked safely underground! So I decided to grow my own…and since I have a non-existent green thumb, they would have to be grown from something that I could not destroy πŸ˜›

I came across ‘water candles’ on Youtube while surfing for ideas and decided to try them out. I’m not a ‘crafty’ person (pun unintended!), but these seemed simple enough and I wouldn’t have to go shopping for material. I have plenty of used candles and a million wax crayons thanks to Junior! So into my little fondue pot went the chopped up candle wax and a brown crayon and in 5 minutes, I had some nice bubbling, melted wax. I must say I felt very accomplished πŸ˜‰ Then I poured small amounts of the melted wax onto a plastic base with a votive previously fixed, and dunked & swirled immediately in a bucket of water. The instructions said ice-cold but I didn’t bother with the ice. It was fun to see the strands of wax stretch out and rise the instant it hit the water πŸ™‚ They looked more like icicles than roots but I didn’t care. I used my macro lens to get up close and personal with my waxy roots!

Roots of Wax!

Last week, I also managed to download Photoshop and Lightroom – Finally! Now that I have them I’m looking forward to learning more about editing. I think it’s a great way to add some more fun into the photographic process. I’ve been using Youtube to study Photoshop tutorials and learnt recently how to blend two pictures into one, inspired by my friend Wendy who used the technique to create a wonderful image for the Roots Challenge. I used it to create another picture which if I had got done in time, I might have submitted for my Challenge. Then I found a rather nice ‘root’ picture that I had taken a year ago in Bombay and I used Photoshop to change it into a painting (an effect I really love). I thought it turned out rather nice.

As for Roots – I’ve just posted about how ‘Rootless’ I feel in my soul and how this ‘rootlessness’ feels authentic for the moment. So for now – it is what it is, and if ever I do sprout some myself – I promise, you guys will be the first to know.Β Meanwhile for those of you with Roots – Bask in their Glory πŸ™‚ And for my fellow ‘Rolling Stones’ – Enjoy the Ride!

Monkton Mondays!

It’s been a mixed weekend. Spent the first half of International Women’s Day in School at the PTM with Junior. All was well except that I was down with one of those inexplicable attacks of the common cold – you know the ones where you were perfectly fine the day beforeΒ (or so you thought!) but woke up to a hundred sneezes? Yup! That’s the one! Well, Mom had to be on duty, cold or no cold, predictably; and so she was, again – predictably. Dad was…lets just not go there shall we? Wouldn’t want to begin the first post for the week with a rant against husbands. So passΓ© n’est pas?!

Junior has found his footing in school, more or less. He’s happy to go, happy to learn and generally happy for the most part πŸ™‚ Fingers crossed for Grade 1 in August! The second half of Saturday I spent ‘zonked out’ in bed. There is no better term to describe it, I promise! It was the sleep of the afflicted and it was restorative to say the least. Woke for an hour around dinnertime, when Hubby redeemed himself a tad by taking the Munchkin and himself out to dinner and bringing me back some Pepperoni Pizza. And before you jump down my throat saying Pizza is not appropriate nutrition for the afflicted; let me jump right down yours and say IT IS πŸ˜› Proof lies in the fact that I felt much recovered on Sunday and was able to attend my first Sunday Soul Sante – a Bangalore institution of sorts I imagine, a fiesta of arts & crafts supplemented with the requisite food stalls, fashion show and live music πŸ˜€ The traffic was killing but luckily the venue was practically in our backyard, and I had fun wandering around with Junior, discovering little treasures, for an hour or so. That’s my limit in a crowd that size…longer is unthinkable!

I don’t know whether this is a part of growing older too (so much of what I feel and experience seems to be), but routine weekdays are now ‘easier’ than planning weekends πŸ˜› This morning for example, I must confess to feeling a disproportionate elation on the arrival of Monday πŸ˜‰ Perhaps the fact that I look forward to writing this post and a new theme in my Photgraphy Challenge has a little something to do with? Possibly…whatever the reasons, it feels good to be alone, in a silent house and able to write; able to think. Also I’m happy to report the number of sneezes is down to 10 πŸ™‚ and that I have finished my latest Julian Barnes book, Levels of Life, which has reinforced my love of his writing manyfold. He writes about grief (don’t they all?!), but he weaves magic with his insight into ‘grief’ and ‘the mourning process’ as he sees it, so that in the end it doesn’t leave me feeling as depressed as I expected it would. As always he tells not a conventional story – that is not his way – this reads more like a philosophical essay perhaps – I’m unsure of where and how to slot it, which for me is part of its allure.

Through ballooning and photography, and the journeys of three fascinating real-life characters (completely and utterly unknown to me), who are ‘put together’ and ‘torn apart again’, he explores the mysteries of the human heart and mind and weaves his way to the story of his own grief, his own journey, his own process. All this is in 118 pages! Along the way, he taught me a few new words too, ‘divagations’, ‘recidivism’, ‘solipsism’…words that I had to look up and that are now happily a part of my consciousness. Every thought he offers, every feeling he feels, felt real and resonated with forceful impact, no doubt because of the loss of my own brother 5 years ago. I identify on a gut level where he’s coming from. No explanations required. Needless to sayΒ I’m in complete agreement with one of the judges who awarded him the 2011 Man Booker Prize, who called him ‘an unparalleledΒ magus of the heart’. I don’t know of a better way to describe his writing πŸ™‚

And so to Mr. Monkton – I must confess I’d almost forgotten him in my Barnes soliloquy πŸ˜› but not quite! What with Women’s Day (although everyday is Women’s Day in my book!), and finishing this book which may be obviously about grief but is just as obviously about love, I think this thought of Mr. Monkton says it all. I’ve always thought that we women never do as good a job of loving ourselves and other women as much as we do with the men and children in our lives. And I firmly believe that’s it’s the only way forward! So here’s to self-love without which I believe there can be no form of lasting love at all.

The-Only-Way_Monkton

Love Yourself People! You’re WORTH it!Β 

And then…Pass it On πŸ™‚

Happy Monday!

Thursday Thoughts…

Lately I’ve had Roots on my mind – the botanical kind, the metaphorical kind and the ties that bind. Unsurprisingly, all this interest in ‘delving deep’ arises from the fact that they’ve are also the theme of this week’s Take52 Photography Challenge!

I’ve said this before and I’m saying it again – I consider myself the proverbialΒ ‘Rolling Stone’, one that gathers a few bits of moss while otherwise going about merrily on its way. It’s an existence that suits my restless soul, and so the question of being rooted in a place, while occasionally seductive, is never a long-term goal. But as with all things, times change; and with Junior’s schooling to think of, I cannot quite give in to the ‘traveling’ urge whenever it strikes, which is fairly often! Consider the facts – I have lived in one city but changed 4 houses in 10 years! The longest I’ve lived in any house as an adult is 4 years! I’ve grown up in Goa and that’s where I’ve lived the largest chunk of my life so far, and yet, I cannot and do not consider it ‘home’. Not in the way I would like to. It’s my parents’ home, the house I grew up in, became a doctor in, got engaged in, got married from, lost my brother in…but it is still most definitely my parents’ home – NOT mine. So although it’s most certainly the closest thing to home, it isn’t quite the same.

And so it got me thinking about what ‘Roots’ really means? I feel happily rootless for the most part and enjoy the feeling of belonging ‘everywhere in general but nowhere in particular’ πŸ˜› Am I kidding myself? Living in denial? Probably. Should I be concerned at these divagations and get myself a settled life, whatever that means? (Ooh! The very thought sends shivers down my spine!) Or is being ‘Rooted’ just a feeling in our hearts, like Christmas?! I like to think it is – after all haven’t we all been taught, “Home is where the Heart is.” But the heart is unpredictable, a wayward mistress who pulls this way and that, going wherever fancy dictates πŸ˜‰ She is redolent with good intentions but we all know where those may lead πŸ˜› At the moment she has brought me to Bangalore and so I try to grow roots yet again, in another new city! Do you feel ‘rooted’ where you are? And I don’t just mean geographically.

I often feel I’ve been born in the wrong time, the wrong place, the wrong everything – and yet I have no idea at all of what the ‘right’ time and place would look like. At times the restlessness is so acute, it’s hard to find focus. I feel like a caged bird, staring at the open door, my gift of flight forgotten. Maybe it’s the Sagittarian in me – the horse stamping his hooves, chomping at the bit to begin roving. So no…I’m not sure ‘Rooted’ is for me, or that I’ll ever be rooted in place, although Time shows more promise πŸ˜‰ Somewhere deep inside I want to live in Narnia, in Middle Earth – walk among talking beasts and Fauns, commune with Elves and Hobbits and bask in the grace of Aslan πŸ™‚ When I look around me and see the World – ridden with strife and traumatised by the collective abuse of us arrogant humans – I want so desperately for the fantastical to be real. A sanctuary from all the chaos. If wishes were horses eh?

And so I try as best I can to bestill my aching heart, when that wanderlust strikes. And I think about where I might put down roots if I had to. Then I close my eyes and dream – of Narnia πŸ™‚

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