Diwali markets: Lights, glitter and crowds

It’s that time of the year again. Diwali’s here (and at the time of publishing this post, almost over).

I don’t like Diwali very much. I hate the firecrackers and noise, the smoke and pollution it brings with it leaving me ill by the time the festivities get over. It’s a time I get all irritable and morose and develop a Scrooge-like persona. Well, not really, but almost.

The only saving grace about Diwali and also the only thing I like about this time of the year is the Diwali market that springs up all over — stalls selling lanterns, clay lamps, sweets, flowers, rangoli powder, clothes … So, every year, the week before Diwali is for walking through the various markets in the city and enjoying the buzz, the colour, the wares on sale and sometimes buying them as well. Like this set of beautiful diyas I bought a few years back.

Clay diyas, earthen lamps, Diwali diyasThis year, too, was no different. So amidst stocking up on my anti-allergens and inhalers in readiness for Diwali, I also explored the markets in Chembur, Matunga and Vashi. For the first time, I also took pictures, thanks to my new smartphone with a smarter camera. :)

Come, see what fascinated me in the markets and duly captured by my camera phone. :)

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Why I haven’t quit my job to travel !

“Why don’t you quit your job to travel full-time?” is a question that I’m asked quite often.

When I created a separate Contact Page on this blog about 2 years back, it was for a better way to engage with my readers and those wishing to connect with me. Soon, I started getting mails from readers wanting more information about the places I had travelled to or wishing to travel with me in the future; requests for book reviews; invitations to events; PR agencies wanting my contact details for their database; people seeking permission to use my photographs and posts on other sites; people wanting advice on how to start a travel blog and monetise it…

But the most interesting mails come from a group of people who want to know my ‘life story’. In other words, the story of ‘how I quit my job to travel’. This group of people are usually in their early 20s, fresh out of college/university, have never had the experience of working in a job (but hate the idea of a job anyway), and have dreams of making it big in travel blogging / travel writing business. My reply to such mails is usually standard: “that they should read the “About” page on this blog which would tell them that I work full-time, and haven’t quit my job to travel or do anything else”.

The correspondence doesn’t stop here. The next mail usually comes with the question, “Why don’t you quit your job to travel full-time?” or a variation of this. Depending on the tone of the mail and my mood at that time, I either reply with a shorter version of this post or just don’t bother to respond. I know it’s bad practice to not reply but, frankly speaking, I’m fed up with these mails. I’m fed up of replying to people who are convinced that the best way to travel (or do anything in life for that matter) is by quitting their jobs.

I’m so fed up that I decided to write a blog post on “why I haven’t quit my job to travel”. Another reason for writing this post is because the Internet is full of articles and blog posts on how people have quit their jobs to travel or do ‘something meaningful’ (just do a simple search and you’ll know what I mean). There are hardly any articles on why one doesn’t have to or want to quit their job in order to travel or do ‘something meaningful’. In fact, I have come across only one such article so far. This post is a teeny-weeny attempt to correct that imbalance of perception.

There are many reasons, big and small, as to why I haven’t quit my job to travel; I’ll only share the three main ones here.

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There’s a Tablet in the house – Part 2

“How could you be so careless?” Amma glares at me.

“Well… you know, I just forgot.” I try to look nonchalant and cool; needless to say, I fail miserably.

“Forgot? How can you forget your mobile in the office? You have it attached to you like an appendage at other times !”

“I do not !” I protest.

“Amma, don’t exaggerate,” pipes in my brother, who’s visiting from Pune and is busy surfing on my Dell Venue Tablet. “This is not the first time your daughter has forgotten her mobile in office. You should know by now that she does it quite regularly.”

I glare at my brother and he grins back cheerfully. Really ! Is this the time to bring up this habit of mine?

“Yes. But is this the time to forget? What are we supposed to do now? How will we know what time Dr. Shashank’s coming? Or even if he’s coming today.” Amma is, to put it politely, in a flap.

“Of course, he’s coming, Amma. Dr. Shashank did say the last time he was here that he would be here today at 8.00 am,” I say soothingly

“He also said that he will confirm with you,” Amma snaps at me. “And in case you haven’t realised, it is 8.30 am and he isn’t here yet. He must have sent a text message to you about today’s session.”

I wisely keep quiet.

In case you’re wondering who Dr. Shashank is, and why my mother is in such a dither over him at 8.00 8.30 am that morning, read on.

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There’s a Tablet in the house – Part 1

“Can you play the tanpura before you go?”, Amma (my mother) asks. I have just settled her in bed for the night and have switched on the night-light when she makes this request.

“Of course,” I say, reaching for the Tablet kept on the nightstand. I switch on the Tanpura App and within seconds a soft, sonorous drone fills the room. Amma smiles with pleasure and within minutes she’s fast asleep. I wait for a little while before leaving the room, reducing the volume a bit.

“Paati’s (Tamil word for grandmother) asleep?” asks AA, my niece, as I pass her on the way to the kitchen.

“Yes. Let the tanpura play for another 10 minutes or so and then you can use the Tablet if you want to,” I tell her.

“Okayyyyyy, ” AA drawls out her thanks.

“And after you finish, AA, I’d like to use it for a while. I want to catch up with the news,” calls out her mother and my sister-in-law, SV.

“Okayyyyyy. I won’t take more than 10 minutes; just want to check my FB and mail,” AA replies.

When I look in to say goodnight to SV and AA about half-an-hour later, I find that they are sharing earphones and watching something on the Tablet intently. I smile and head for bed thinking how quickly a device that everyone in my family had not shown any interest in, had suddenly become the most convenient and coveted thing in the household.

That device was a 8″ x 5″, book-sized, Dell Venue Tablet sent to me last month as part of the Dell blogger review programme.

Dell Venue Tablet, Product Review

The Dell Venue Tablet

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Knowledge Whiteboard Library

Ever so often I come across an initiative, an organisation, a person or a group of people, a book, a film, an article, a piece of music… that leaves me feeling enthused. Since it also leaves me wondering why I haven’t heard of it before, I set off on an eager and happy quest to find out more about it. When such an initiative is that of a friend, it leaves me a little shocked. Pleasantly and happily shocked, I must hasten to clarify, as it happened when I heard of the Knowledge Whiteboard Library. Let me elaborate.

It all began with a telephone conversation a couple of months back with Rajshri Mahtani, founder of Knowledge Whiteboard (KW), and also a friend and a former colleague. Somewhere during our conversation Rajshri casually mentioned something about a library at the KW and the growing collection of books. I was intrigued and was left thinking… library? What library? How come I don’t know anything about it?

I decided to visit the KW office, which is located Santacruz in Mumbai and find out more about the library for myself. Sometime last month that is just what I did and sure enough, there was an interesting story waiting for me. :)

Knowledge Whiteboard Library

Dr. Rajshri Mahtani

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The social movements calendar 2014

You might wonder why I’m writing about a calendar when we are almost half way through the year. The thing is, I forgot to write about it when I received the calendar in January. And the reason I forgot is because I’ve always considered the Social Movements Calendar (SMC) to be more of a resource, and less of a calendar, in the sense that it is not time-bound for me. Besides, I never give away the SMC even after its “validity” is over. As to why I do so, well… read on :)

Originally conceptualised by the late Smitu Kothari, the 2014 SMC Calendar is its fifth edition and returns after a gap in 2013. The good people from Intercultural Resources India, who bring out the SMC, have this to say about it:

The Social Movements Calendar 2014 is a collective process and a non-profit endeavor meant as a tool to educate and create public awareness about the vast array of people’s struggles in India.

Like previous editions, this one too is an effort to document peoples’ struggles and protests. While the previous two editions were theme-based —  “peoples’ struggles against international financial institutions (IFIs)” in 2011, and “saga of labour struggles from colonisation to globalisation” in 2012 —  the 2014 calendar does not state any particular theme on the first page of the calendar.

Social Movements Calendar 2014, Intercultural resources, People's struggles, social issues, calendar

Protest against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant

But when one goes through the calendar it is to discover that the most recent protests in India have been included in the calendar. Continue reading