Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Void

When you start typing cluelessly on the keyboard wondering if you have anything left to tell, any story, any experience that you have not already ranted and raved about. Then you look upto the screen and are surprised to see, the nothingness has evolved into the semblance of a mini rant, so you plod on, filling up the empty space with words from an uninspired mind.

You wonder casually, why would anyone want to read something which never was supposed to see the light of day, something that would have done better to stay unseen in the recesses of a personal diary. You smile evilly, those are the perks of being a blogger! 
Your rants about everything to absolutely nothing have an audience, of like-minded individuals. Each waiting to launch his verbal diarrhea on unsuspecting, mandatory audiences. 
Yes, you guessed right, it is time for revenge! 😈

Here I am at a loss of words, still I decided I would put up a blogpost with virtually no content. At least I am being honest, aren't I?
Hmm, so what does the void mind want to rant about? 


What does the void mind want to say? 
The cleaning spree from today's morn,
The maid mania from everyday,
The bliss of domesticity,
The travails of corporate life,
The sweaty tussles of the local train,
The bustling buzzes from the grocery market,
The hectic toddler chase, 
The blistering argument with the teen,
The reminiscent adventures of childhood,
The recent escapade to the moon and beyond,
The tirade on the better half,
The blush of the last romance,
The wisdom of years,
The folly of words,
Oh what will it be, what will it be?
The mind was void you said?
The void mind that refuses to stay still,
The one that flits and floats,
That refuses to lay anchor,
That fails to acknowledge,
That some things are better left unsaid!

Till later folks, when Relax-N-Rave has something better than THIS up its sleeve!
Sorry for this infliction!

­­Copyright © 2017 KALA RAVI

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Of Prenups and Bhishma Pratigyas

A man's life is not easy. On the job and career front, you have to be incredibly pushy and aggressive to get anywhere. On the domestic front, you need to be that strong shoulder to lean on, while at the same time you've got to be broad-minded, witty, suave, earn handsomely, be a sympathetic listener with a penchant for traveling and cooking, chores and oh, yeah, good at clicking Insta-worthy pictures! Yes, these are prerequisites for good husband material. (Feminists are so going to sue me!)

Cheer up guys! You think these testing demands are all to do with modern changing times? Nah, far from it! The compelling stories from Mahabharata, stand witness to the fact that women hold the sway while men are fooled into thinking they do! From the maze of tale-within-tales and countless characters of this mighty epic, just one tale, of one man is enough to confirm that men have never held the upper hand!

The story and face that comes to mind is of a perpetually distressed actor Rishabh Shukla portraying the role of Maharaj Shantanu in B.R.Chopra's epic serial Mahabharat. 

Fear not if you've not seen this ol' timer's once upon a time Sunday staple serial. The point here is, the man has played his role perfectly, Maharaj Shantanu had every reason to be distressed.

The Tale of King Shantanu

In his previous life, Shantanu had been the powerful king Mahabhisha of the Iskhvaku dynasty who had ascended to the heavens after a successful innings on earth. A blessing, no? Apparently not, for despite reaching heaven, he gets cursed by Lord Brahma for ogling at Devi Ganga at a gathering when an errant wind displaces her clothing, revealing her body, while all other Gods bow their heads in bashfulness. And what a curse! To be born as a mortal and be emotionally traumatized by the woman he had cast his lecherous gaze on! 

Thus the cursed Mahabhisha is born as Shantanu to the virtuous Kuru King Pratipa. Since Shantanu's two brothers relinquish their desire to rule Hastinapur, he becomes the default emperor. Good things don't last, do they?

As is fated, Shantanu meets the divine Ganga and is swept away by her beauty. Here, dear friends, comes my first understanding of a prenuptial contract. Devi Ganga agrees to Shantanu's marriage proposal on the condition that he will never, like ever, question her actions. One question and she's out, and the marriage kaput! Pretty strong, huh? Well, the good king agrees and the two get married. Soon, they have a baby. 

The excited, first-time father gets a shock when he sees his beloved wife calmly carrying the new born to the river and drowning it. This repeats on a loop six more times! All he can do is be a mute spectator, helplessly wring his hands in despair (You do remember the prenup?) His beautiful Ganga heartlessly drowns seven children born to them.
Each time he follows her and is dying to ask her, why is she perpetrating such a heinous act but refrains from speaking out loud for fear of losing her. (No questions asked, takes a whole new meaning here, doesn't it?)

Finally the eighth time around, Shantanu cannot stop himself. As Ganga is about to carry forth the same act, he stops her. A simple, why are you doing this? And poof goes the marriage!

Ganga swiftly carries out her threat, deserting a flabbergasted Shantanu with the explanation for having drowned the seven babies. The seven babies were reincarnations of Vasus who had been cursed by Sage Vashistha to be born in the mortal world. As a favor to these Vasus, Ganga had agreed to give birth and liberate them from the mortal world at the earliest. (Doesn't say much about life on earth even way back then, what with everyone wanting to escape it!)
The eighth Vasu, the eighth baby that Ganga had failed to drown, thanks to Shantanu, had been cursed to a long life on earth. This baby she now carries away with her, promising to deliver him to the king at the right time.

Lonely King Shantanu, free of any family distractions, performs his kingly duties exceptionally well (point to be noted) and is declared Emperor by all. One day, some years later while strolling along the banks of Ganga, he comes across a divine youth arresting the flow of the mighty river with a barricade of skilfully shot arrows. His doubts as to the youth's identity are confirmed when Ganga appears before him, introducing the boy as his long-lost son Devavrata, now proficient in the scriptures and every kind of weaponry and warfare. Devavrata is joyfully welcomed and crowned Yuvraj/heir-apparent by the king. 

The king, now relieved to be handing over reins of the kingdom to capable hands, is enjoying a brief respite on the banks of the river, Yamuna for a change. What is it about the riverside and this man? 
A beautiful fragrance grabs his attention. He traces its origin to be emanating from the beautiful Satyavati, adopted daughter of Dusharaj, the chieftain of fisher-folk. How a lady smelling like fish (she was also called matsyagandha) drove the king into a hopelessly romantic tizzy, we shall never know, but that is what happened!

King Shantanu, now bitten by the love bug approaches Dusharaj with the intent of marrying his daughter. Once bitten, twice shy, didn't seem to have been written way back then. This wily fisherman with the point of ascertaining an advantageous match for his daughter lays forth, you guessed it, a prenuptial condition, the condition that Satyavati's children will inherit the throne. This of course is in all unfairness to his first-born son, Devavrata the crown prince and it is rejected vehemently by King Shantanu. 

The king returns to his palace, pining desolately over his lost love. Perceptive Devavrata notices his father's condition and decides to find out the reason for his moroseness. When he comes to know of the reason, he goes to meet Dusharaj. The adamant chieftain refuses to budge from his stand, wherein the large-hearted Devavrata renounces his throne in favor of the children born to Satyavati. Not satisfied with this, Dusharaj still voices his doubts on Devavrata's future progeny laying claim to the throne. And THAT makes the young prince take the unimaginable oath, the oath of never marrying, of lifelong celibacy and to serve the throne of Hastinapur till his last breath. (Yeah, that incredibly memorable scene from BRC's Mahabharat, of Mukesh Khanna a.k.a Bhishma taking this immense vow - aakhand pratigya amidst deafening thunder and lightening!)

Suffice it to say, King Shantanu doesn't know whether to be happy to have gained his love or to be crushed by the fact that he's lost such a capable son/crown prince to the whims of a fisherman and the probability of handing over the throne of Hastinapur to an uncertain future.

What ensues of course is the rest of the lengthy and convoluted epic that is Mahabharata! 

A man, an Emperor with virtually limitless power and sway over his subjects was dictated by the ways of his heart and manipulated by those wielding control over it. 


So dear men, see what a tough time men, nay even Emperors of yore faced? 
Your misery has company from times unknown!

Reference: Wikipedia

­­Copyright © 2017 KALA RAVI

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Serendipity at #BNLF Dehradun

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Striking the iron while hot has never been my forte. So a good two weeks after all the buzz surrounding the #BNLF Indiblogger meet at Dehradun has died down, I decide to do my own post on it! Also, Relax-N-Rave seldom has personal posts on it, so yeah, I guess it is something of an exception that I am doing this post.

A bloggers meet in Dehradun sounded like a manna from heaven for the desperately-in-need-of-a-holiday me! I jumped at the opportunity and booked my flights and hotel stay in Dehradun.

The BNLF (Blog Now, Live Forever) meet organizers, Indiblogger (IB) in association with The Valley of Words (VoW) had promised the attendees of some memorable experiences. 
At the very outset, IB made it very clear that the bloggers attending the event would be doing so at their own cost, both travel and stay-wise. This was a no draw for the majority blogging community. Still a reasonable size of people, yours truly included were determined to make it to the event.

Let me warn you that if you are expecting a blow by blow account of the events at the venue, I am surely going to disappoint you. Diligent bloggers have done a fair job of it already. Late-latifs like moi, are here only to Relax-N-Rave.

My expectations from the BNLF meet:
A bit of fun, relaxation in the cool environs, meeting virtual contacts and nothing else.

What I got:
A whole lot of fun. Made the best of pals, when I'd kinda given up on forging close new bonds. A realization that great experiences don't solely come from best organization and immaculate planning.

About the meet:

The meet can be best described as resembling a last minute plan by collegiates (IB), chaperoned by a warden (VoW), where you never knew what trick or treat awaited you! But hey, if you really went to college, you'll realize that your most memorable trips were made by well-meaning gaffes, an integral part of the wonder years! The IB team had inadvertently let out on what to expect when they tweeted a day before the event that they were like headless chickens! And at the risk of being forever ostracized by the IB team, I shall proceed with my account of the experience.

17th Nov, Day 1:
The initial registration and distribution of a welcome kit was followed by dinner in the open lawns. I was thrilled to meet fellow bloggers I'd only known virtually. Many new names, new faces yet all eager to connect. By a stroke of luck, well before the meet, we'd created a small group of prospective attendees. This was the best thing we could have done! Our lil group  was an island of refuge in the sea of bloggers...err, sea is a hyperbole for the turnout!
So there we were in the open lawns, comfortably shivering in our seldom used woolens brought out in honor of the event, clicking away selfies and groupies. 

The undercurrent of discontent over the ill-famed dinner coupons got lost somewhere between the soulful country numbers belted out by the versatile Bobby Cash, the lovely open air ambiance and classic North-Indian fare!
Time to herd into the warm conference room made cozier with the IB crew's special cocktail punch.
I think this cozy meet was the most memorable part of the BNLF for me. Anoop and Renie the stalwarts of IB, were visibly distressed by the way things had proceeded thus far. Their heartfelt apologies and promise to make things better made everyone in the room realize that we were in this thing together. The blogging community however far it has come today is still meted a step-motherly treatment by a world dominated by pro journos, published writers and authors. The BNLF meet was/is a statement of coming together, of melting differences and standing in solidarity, supporting an upcoming super-power - Bloggers and Blogging! 
Individual introductions broke the ice and eyebrows shot higher as we came to know more about the blogging superstars amidst us. Already things were looking up with this meet!
As promised, the IB team ensured people got dropped safely to their respective hotels from the venue on both nights.

18th Nov, Day 2:

The early morning much hyped Ruskin Bond Walk happened along the dusty, pleasantly nippy streets of Dehradun. Here, I blank out the relevant details of this walk to more attentive bloggers' accounts of the same. For me the walk was more about enjoying the weather, the company of new friends and building up an appetite for breakfast!

Breakfast at Bikanerwala was sumptuous, calories have a way of soothing ruffled feathers like no other way! Post breakfast, people split up with their own pre-planned agendas of exploring the Doon valley. 

With Anoop's help, our group got a mini-van for the sight-seeing expedition, the best decision ever!

Reminiscent of school/college trips, we overgrown kids had a blast on the tour while visiting the splendid Forest Research Institute, the Mindrolling Monastery and finishing it off with a tour of the over-crowded Paltan Bazaar.
The sleepy town that I had imagined Doon to be was far more crowded than the by-lanes of Mumbai!

The actual BNLF event started later in the evening with a musical band that I have no recollection of and a Tibetan dance that was err...ho-hem!
Again back to another indoor venue. IB entertained the audiences with the 'What Bloggers Hate to Hear' college-style gig. There was also a game that involved QR code screening that my mobile simply didn't comply with! A healthy bloggers debate on various blogging-centric topics ensued. Then came the presentation by UC News team, with a new initiative to increase the reach of bloggers. Some interesting keynote speeches by prolific bloggers followed by an IB award presentation for the literary/poetry sections raised cheer and also speculation on the much anticipated IB awards in other categories.

Pic courtesy: Indiblogger

I am a bit hazy about the sequence of events since it was well past midnight but I remember things winding up around 2 a.m with IB T-shirt distribution and the group photographs.
The IB team despite the shortfalls of hosting the event in unfamiliar territory managed to liven the event and make happy memories for all.

The event we'd been looking forward to attend for well over two months had officially come to an end. But not for me, and a small group of friends who had decided to stick on a day more, to well...just stick on and keep the party goin'!! 

We guys met up the next morning at the quaint Kalsang Ama Cafe  for tete-a-tetes, more giggles, laughter and groupies!

This was followed by some quality time spent with retail therapy and hand-rolled ice-cream, sealing the bond of friendship for us!

And so, we come to the end of my little narrative on the BNLF, Dehradun 2017 experience.

Wait a minute, I never mentioned the VoW, did I? Oh, yes, it had a lot of talks by famous, upcoming and wannabe speakers from the literary world. Yes, you guessed it, I didn't attend a single talk, I have attended far too many lit-fests in Mumbai and I consciously stayed away from any intellectual stimulation!
I did visit the numerous stalls of tribal handicrafts exhibited at the venue and sated the incurable shopaholic appetite.

A short, sweet experience that confirmed my views on life,
Live without expectations and you shall not be disappointed!
Yes, it was not the best-planned, high profile, goodies endowed event I've attended but I can happily say, I came away with loads of goodwill, new bonds with some really wonderful people, heartfelt affection from kindred spirits and a whole lot of sweet memories! 
Serendipity at its best for me!

In case you are really curious to know about the various aspects of BNLF that I have not covered,  you could visit any or all of the following bloglinks of my dear blogger friends.









­­Copyright © 2017 KALA RAVI

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Winning the Asian Paints i-Style Contest

A chance participation in a virtual decor makeover contest run all across the country by Asian Paints called the Asian Paints i-style contest declared me as the Grand Prize Winner!!

What was the contest about?
You have to select a virtual room of your choice on the Asian Paints Colourstore website and give it a makeover with furniture, wall finishes, decor accessories, light fittings etc. available on the site.

This is the room I created and named, 'My Cool Green Den', THE prize-winning entry!!


For once I had won a substantial prize! Happy, happy me! 
The Grand Prize Winner was to receive a Home Decor Makeover worth Rs 2,00,000!!
So here's my post detailing the Makeover!

The Makeover Journey Begins
Firstly I decided on THE room to makeover - My living room it was! I started making a shopping list as advised by the Asian paints executive. 
Some of the partnering brands for the contest that I looked up were,
The Label Life, The Yellow Door Store, Orange Tree, Six Inch, The Wishing Chair and Maspar. I surfed the websites of all these brands and came up with a wishlist, no mean feat! While preparing the list I had to keep aside a tentative budget for the wall makeover by Asian paints. 
I visited the beautiful Asian Paints Colour Store in Bandra and was given a tour of store displaying the wide range of wall finishes that the company offers. With the help of their in-store design executive I finalized the wall effect I wanted. I also met Interior Designer Esha Gupta at the Colour store and discussed the makeover with her.

I was keen on a Before/After shoot for the makeover and Asian paints sent across their photographer for the BEFORE shoot.

So here we have this living room (Size - 22' x 10'), with an extendable flower bed area.
I decided this was the best time to go in for a TOTAL MAKEOVER for this room.
This led to me drawing up plans for civil, electrical and flooring changes besides the furniture layout.

With regard to the civil work, I planned few changes:
Include the available flower-bed into the room and create a ledge seating with storage underneath.
Level out the wall next to the window, so that I could position a TV on that wall.
Change the flooring to something rustic and unique. 
My overall design concept was to have a cozy, inviting room with earthy tones and minimal furniture.

After a month long civil remodeling, the room started taking a new shape.

Looks messy, doesn't it? Till the painters and carpenters get into the picture, civil work doesn't convey how much work has been accomplished!

So once the civil and electrical works were done, I got the carpentry and lastly the painting team in, and now you can see the transformation!

For the feature walls, I selected the Minaret stencil from Asian paints and it was deftly executed by their master painter, Salim.

In the meanwhile, the shopping list I had drawn was making its way home, one package at a time!

Finally the goodies were ready to be unpacked into the brand new room!
All items were ordered from The Yellow Door Store in Delhi. 


Tada!! The spanking new room makeover!!

And, there you have it! The BEFORE-AFTER classic comparison!

I am grateful to Asian Paints for creating such a wonderful and creative contest, giving people an opportunity to make their dream room come true!
The chance participation in this contest was thanks to Blogchatter! 

The Makeover Room as it is now known, has several new additions and is a cheery, inviting space that will be a fond reminder of my happy win!

­­Copyright © 2017 KALA RAVI

Monday, 30 October 2017

With Great Power comes Great Responsibility

With the latest Marvel movie about to hit the screens on 3rd Nov'17, I am being personally tutored to understand the background stories and specific super powers of the various characters in movie. I love super-hero fantasy movies as much as the person next to me, save my mom who doesn't understand what the whole fuss is about! I was so aggravated at having to explain to her that the man on screen could burn holes with his vision, fly and lift loads the size of the earth while kissing his girl. And yes, yes that's a DC movies hero, I know! Hmm, when I know all this why are my kids hell-bent on tutoring me? Just so that I don't nag them while watching the movie about, who's this, why is his hair short, didn't he have an evil brother, why are they friends now, what's his power exactly....!! Yes, life has come a full circle, I am now a certified, pesky, under-informed parent myself.

Hmmph! Little do those brats know of the in-house super-power! Arghh, no I don't mean the dad! Well, he does have this incredible power - To go into REM sleep state in less than 2 seconds. But no, I am talking of a much more technologically advanced being...moi!

Raised eyebrows, disbelieving smile, a snigger, oh yes, I can imagine you're doing all of that. But what can I say, it just happens to be the truth.

Curious are you?
Well, might as well be out with it, this post is after all meant to uncover the new challenge to Gal Gadot and any other Guy Gods!
So, wait for it, I have this amazing, Power of Technology Manipulation and Disruption (PTMD)! Wow or what? You no comprenez? Okay lesser mortals, it is the power to disrupt electronic/electromagnetic signals.

I've been doing it unknowingly for years, blaming it on everything from freakish coincidences to plain sabotage. But with age comes wisdom (duh!), so I eventually caught on. What exactly does this power do, you wonder? Well in lay terms, I can tamper with electronic gadgets anywhere within a radius of 5-10 feet of me. Currently, my powers are limited to disabling devices/ gadgets but I am sure there will be a yang to every yin, and it is just a matter of time before this super-mom hones and fine-tunes her power to desired results. Imagine with a swish of my hand, all gadgets come to life, purring in a contented hum...instead of dying on me!

I fondly recollect how it all started; with simple feats of the tubelight fusing out when I switched it on, the hot plate getting short circuited, the doorbell falling off when I rang. Aww, the wonder years! Over the years, I have bamboozled desktops, laptops into crashing irrevocably, camera memory cards getting corrupted, mobile phones losing battery charge faster than you can take a leak, the entire house fusebox breaking down....and so on. 

It is hard not to brag, but since I've started the ball rolling, let me proceed. I believe my powers have now expanded sufficiently to operate remotely. I can jam TV channels! Yes, it is true! I just need the intent. I just need to relax, settle down to view a program, and unconsciously enjoy it. Voila, the channel just blacks out. All other channels will work perfectly, save for the channel I  want to view. Mind you, this is not a one time event! I have achieved this consistently over several channels, service providers through so many years now! Ahh, the travails of having super-powers, of having to sacrifice watching and enjoying movies with the family! 

Speaking of family, a burden I hold to my chest is the fact that I haven't come out about my secret with them. You know how it is, Spiderman, Superman, Batman, all these chaps keep their super-hero lives a secret from family, to protect them. Well, I am keeping the secret from my family to save....myself from their wrath! After all, it doesn't hold you in good stead to reveal that you are the reason the laptop crashes so often along with the long line of gadgets that keep falling sick, sometimes fatally so! When any such calamity strikes, we all wisely nod our heads in resignation and say, "We are fated to bad luck with all gadgets!"

Much as I fancy sporting a fancy, non-latex-custom-made-for-Indian-sizes, super hero costume and flaunting my powers, I am damned by their very disruptive nature. Who wants a circuit breakdown or a TV blackout when a super hero walks in? 
No matter, I just need to channelize the powers the other way around. Ermm, maybe I am a prospective villain, after all villains do have super-powers too, the negative kind! But I don't wanna get bashed up and locked away in phantom zones or mirror dimensions for eternity, do I? No sir! 
I am aware of my powers and for the universal good, they shall lie buried - The secret of a wannabe super-woman - Electro-Magneto-Neutralizer Super Momma!

On a parting note, I'll never scorn or shoo away a black cat, I know how she feels, to be wielding the yin part of a super-power!

 Image source: Flickeringmyth