Lifestyle

Make a fist

In Karate, one of the most important lessons you learn is to take an ass-kicking. You understand that you need to pick yourself up and move on.

Before every session, you socialize with your opponents. They are your friends. You like each other. You also take pleasure in roundhouse-kicking them during a sparring match. Because there are competitive elements to it.

Karate breaks down the art of fighting into algorithms. A series of rapid-fire decisions. And at times, someone figures it out quicker than you do. Then, you will fall down, palming the bridge of your nose in pain. When you get back up on your feet, you are stronger in the broken places.

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Birds and roses: October rain

I haven’t had a satisfying day of birding in a long time. Two weekends ago, the rains came uninterrupted and washed my chances away. And then all through the week the sun was out, bright and proud.

Last Friday night saw the city shrouded in gloom again. I drove about 50 kilometers away from the city on Saturday morning anyway. The sky pointed and laughed at me, and howled furiously, garden-hosing the ground below. My chances of spotting a bird other than one of the usual suspects were slim. I drove back, feeling like a wet mongrel, embarrassed about my optimism.

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It’s a jungle out there: Monkey hear, monkey talk

I have wanted to write about modernized existential despair for long. How it seems to be a generational malady, thriving on our indifference towards discovery as opposed to invention. I didn’t because I was unable to succinctly encapsulate a short introduction I had in mind into words. Instead I had a sound-bite for it. A piece of guttural noise.

The English language kept failing me (or vice versa). So I decided to move on. Only lately did I realize that it was 2015. It is so easy to record and stream digital audio these days. Even by people who spell “your” as “you’re”. And I had broadband connectivity and laughably low expectations.

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A childfree birder’s guide to good parenting

Parenting in our species is a tough nut to crack. As a child-free adult, I can’t even begin to fathom the stress involved. The lack of sleep. The pressures of safety. Financial pressures. I don’t get how they do it, but I just know it’s hard. It is no excuse though some parents make for such terrible role models. Children can learn so much from them on how not to behave, and what not to do with their lives.

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Wounds are chaos theories

Never weep over
a wounded rose,
she will only catch a cold.
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Weeding out the gardener

His garden
flowers grew,
like shadows
caught by
sundials in
a playful mood,
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It’s a bird-eat-frog world

She
stirs
at dawn,
storing
dewdrops
in the
lining of
her eyes,
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Knock, knock. Who cares?

When I was much younger I was bitter about the success stories that was I felt critical towards. Like most of us dealing with angst, I had a loose grasp on how the world should work. I sat on a high horse and complained about how Titanic was the crappiest movie ever. That bubblegum pop was a medical hazard to music  lovers. The worst offenders, to me, were those similar to me, but who just had it much easier in life.

It  never seemed to matter how ungrateful or undeserving they were.

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2014 was a number

To beg, borrow and steal
from Charles Dickens,
2015 was the best of times
and it was the worst.
Perhaps  2016 will be the same,
but I shall recollect, with love,
and by no other name, how
even the fiercest winds never
once frightened away the birds.

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Songs for stringless kites

A kite soars,
sans a string, above
crowded streets and
the wind whistles a lengthy tune,
steering it over curry leaf trees
that cough up a stiff, browning
breeze to caress its paper- mache 
cheeks, rerouting its soul
to wild, weightless worlds.

Black Kite, Chennai

Black Kite, Chennai

I think I can commute long distances without listening to music. I am also confident about typing a full sentence using just my big toe. But these are things I don’t want to find out. Music has, during my weekend trails, made a long-distance swimmer out of me. Only while birding for bonuses through bus windows or striking up a conversation with a passenger do I put my headphones away. I have forgotten to pack trekking shoes, towels and torchlights on several occasions; never my precious headphones.

I no longer have favorite bands or songs or albums. I have plenty of time for any form of good music . And I have playlists. They are like a favorite pillow, whether soft cushions or the gently-aching belly slopes, on which I can sleep peacefully.

A 15-track playlist for the silent bus traveler in you.

Alt J – Tessellate Llive from the Africa Centre)

M S Viswanathan & TK Ramamoorthy – Viswanathan Velai Vendum

Sigur Rós – Olsen Olsen (Live from Heima)

Hundred Waters – Down the Rafters

Ilaiyaraaja –  Punnagai Mannan Theme

Blue Man Group (feat Dave Matthews) – Sing Along

Alu – Martian Rendezvous

Patrick Watson – Lighthouse

Caribou (feat Luke Lalonde & One Little Plane) – Melody Day 

Ilaiyaraja – Background score for Pallavi Anu Pallavi

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird

Carter Burwell – Exercise In Darkness

Rolfe Kent – Abandoning The Wedding

Ilaiyaraja – Thendral Vanthu Theendum

Branches – Chim-Chim Cheree