Perception Matters

Hubby and me visited Subhash Park in Kochi after a long 23 months. It used to be our regular spot for relaxing and unwinding pre-covid….. Unfortunately, COVID had kept the park locked for months many and I was longing for our long and careless slow walks ….and those silent reminiscences triggered by lively and rhythmic movement of backwaters! 

It was late in the evening and darkness had set in much before we walked in. Sunday seemed relaxing but not inside the park… it was quite crowded….and that came unexpected(we had hardly seen it crowded, may be we never visited on a Sunday earlier or may be it’s the unlocking and the frenzy that comes along)…. We didn’t walk much and headed straight to those benches overlooking backwaters and harbour. We were lucky to find a vacant bench close to water despite Sunday’s chattering crowd. Water level seemed to have risen considerably and buildings on the other side appeared half submerged in water – appearances can be so deceiving at times!!

Velvety waters seemed full of life yet looked relaxed. The rhythmic movement was truly intoxicating and I started to feel free, happy and floating, ….may be they were just dancing to the mellifluous beats underneath and were luring me to follow path…to go with the flow for the best experience. Night light seemed to add a visible drama there – for those who bothered to look….. And I looked around ….. almost all seemed busy … Perhaps Sunday is not the day to look for mind wanderers or ponderers!

Eyes wander back to the rhythmic lasya of backwaters. These waters are always on the move……as if in pursuit of something…… marching ahead vibrantly per command. Sometimes it looked as if they were carrying weeds to one side but a little while later brought them back only to carry them forward again… never resting though….perhaps a forever wanderer there! It’s a bliss to watch and sink in the life in its movements.

Perception matters and mind influences perception… when mind was disturbed, water appeared disturbed and turbulent …. have occasionally thought here is something more restless than my mind! … rhythmic movement then seemed so heavy laden with burden!.. but the same water danced in mirth, full of life, rushing on to the fore to share the joy whenever my mind was happy…. Perception does matter …. what we see outside is a lot based on what’s going on inside! Isn’t that so?

Everyone I meet has something to offer
I learn sometimes and
fail sometimes
I listen to some and
filter out some….
Unconsciously get attracted to some and
consciously seek some…
A seeker within silently observes and learns….
And keeps seeking further
from nature and every being around…
exploring further!

These pictures were clicked before closure of the park due to Covid. (Pictures clicked this time didn’t come out well due to limited night settings in my mobile camera!)

Carry Me Away…

Image credit; Suliman Sallehi @ Pexels

I stand tall
yet feel small…
free and light…

As the spinning rays of distant sun
scanned and cleansed me so
I stood here thus, alone
intrigued by the silence of these towering giants
humbled by the vastness and calmness everywhere…

I soak in the all encompassing energy around
and bathe in the innocence and freedom within…

I stand here thus
all set to soar high
ready for the change and challenges ahead
carry me away, oh, whispering winds
whisper in my ears the secret to board your wings
am ready for the voyage and adventures ahead!

 

In response to https://lifeafter50forwomen.com/2022/01/17/what-do-you-see-117-january-17-2022/

An Epistle to Self

Hey Jumbo,

Been wanting to write to you for a long time now but could never really garner up the spirits to bring the brain and body to do the task. Well, here I am now and hope to continue as intended.

Have often neglected you and hurt you badly, no salutations…no endearing words…. oft-times started abruptly and ended abruptly….. but I know for certain by now that you are the one true energy that will stand by me at all times…. however stupidly I may react to you…. And buddy, thanks for all the understanding……and support. It’s made all the difference as I look back.

Have slowly started to understand your language – for you don’t speak our language or any other language that I have been taught…. in fact, I realise you don’t have any language to be precise!….. but you communicate…..It has taken years for me to make it out. But I don’t know how, as a child, it was much easier and we could understand and help each other better…. Perhaps, it’s me who has changed as I grew older…. perhaps I grew distant from you in the process of trying to grow and gain and be with the world….

I have grown and gained now…. may not be the way the world expected…. certainly not the way I expected either.. but I have indeed gained and still working on to improve further…..Have realised that whenever the going gets tough, I have to let you take over, shutting out the ‘me’ of this world,….. to just be….and let you be….. there is winning in this surrendering, there is gaining in this surrendering! And yes thanks much for being with me all through….

(a leaf from the epistle)

a personal combination of warli, water colour, mandala and zentangle.

The Scattering

Image credit; LuizClas@ Pexels

Sky looked happy and shy
And she was glad to be there thus happy…
Felt so joyful…
As ground below felt so playful…
Feet went dancing around and
She flew here on earth like those birds flying afar….

As the girl danced on….
Sky gently scattered colors yonder
Prepping the stage for scene next
Sinking the earth in a mystical light
Perfect for silhouettes and splendors magical….

In response to Sadje’s https://lifeafter50forwomen.com/2022/01/10/what-do-you-see-116-january-10th-2022/

The Wonderland Called Curiosity

Lost Innocence

In the wonderland called Curiosity
anything and everything is interesting and awesome
every day ..every moment…
triggering the explorer and discoverer within
to see, to play around, to know more
to live the moment and to live it fully…

When did I wander off this wonderland?
when did curiosity die in me?
perhaps it got smothered
by the schooled ideologies and tutored thoughts?

How I wish I could re-inhabit the wonderland
How I wish I could be like the kitten playing with the flower bearing shoot there…
most gently…most inquisitively…..
to see really, to play around without inhibitions….
to know more… to be and to let be…..

How I wish I could unlearn and just be!

In response to Sadje‘s What Do You See #115 photo prompt

Obsessions with a little hard nut

A cute little hard nut grabbed all attention one day and opened up vistas of creative possibilities to explore…..!

Mind has been ruminating on thoughts and topics many to write…but finally, here I am feeding on screen, words and pictures about a curious interest that began in early 2019 and has bloomed to a serious hobby with purpose now.

This post is about my amateur creative attempts that started with a tiny wobbly coconut shell.


I wonder where to start and find myself asking how did this interest really seep into me?… Looking back now, I can say I never really ‘saw’ nature till we reached Oman. Oman’s vast vacant lands, unending deserts, tall timeless mountains, colorful sands, sea and the sounds and silences of nature made me realise that I am nothing but an insignificant speck amidst the vast enormity around…. Trees seemed eternally awesome beings accepting and accommodating all that crossed their path. Every old tree I saw made me think, “perhaps they have been here for many decades and may perhaps continue to be here (even as this tiny mortal body of mine ceases to exist), standing witness to everything happening around and experiencing the rise and fall of seasons and societies”. Yet there they stood, patient, undemanding and unimposing. I was starting to learn my lessons in humility from nature around.

Observing birds and animals made me think there is nothing so uniquely marvelous in us humans. Somehow felt, while they don’t harm other beings for their personal comfort and luxury, we don’t mind usurping their joy and freedom to feed our own wanton needs. I guess perhaps this exposure to nature’s enormity and humility started to rein in my desires and wants.

My observations bettered and so did the urge to accommodate nature ‘as is’ without harming – just as nature does. Standing witness to sheep and birds chewing in bits of plastics and reading articles on plastics inside sea creatures rang enough alarms within and consciously started buying less plastic. Wherever there was an option or a possibility, went for wood and more natural earth friendly alternatives. Started preparing spice powders at home like mom and grandma(that reduced bringing home a whole bunch of packing materials whose destinations I was unsure of)… and this made me feel better. Started loving the idea of reduce, reuse and recycle as I thought this might lessen earth’s burden. Tried to buy less and make things from what we have at home. The most successful attempt was making kitchen tissue holder with old pamphlets and magazine papers.

When I came back to India and the land of coconuts down south, the silent drive within to support and unharm our environment took a pleasant twist when I got a bag full of small coconuts from hubby’s home(sizes of about 5-6″height and 2.5-3″diameter).  The smallness seemed insanely cute and fell in love with those round, brown, stubborn yet beautiful coconut shells. Cleaned them and kept them with me for a while and started experimenting by growing different plants in small and big coconut shells I had collected subsequently. As they were wobbly, used seashells I had picked from beaches to fix the base. This made them look like tiny round creatures standing on big and small flipper feet😀.

Observed that plants were quite happy growing inside those small and big natural planters. (Cocopeat is one good medium to grow plants suggested many gardeners here, perhaps coconut shell helps further the growth process with or without cocopeat). And this inspired me to keep experimenting with more coconut shells and different plants.

The difficult part was cutting to the desired shape and sanding. I didn’t have electrical tools to speed up the process with lesser effort. Some shells were quite rough and required multiple rounds of sanding. Somehow, the process of sanding was kind of a meditation and carried on with it. I used to sweat a lot, smelt unique and arms were sore upon completion of each shell….. but guess mind was finding solace as I never felt pain or tired while sanding – rather the final smooth finish made me happy and content. Noticed that more matured shells were more harder….mind murmured perhaps it’s so true with us humans too, atleast some like me, … we keep accumulating dirt as we grow and perhaps need loads of sanding to see the truth! Feel that small kids see a whole lot of things better with their open-mindedness – no inhibitions, no schooled ideologies and no calculations!

Well coming back to coconut shells, now it’s been a little over 2 years since I started my experiments and (though it’s not a big period), from the small trials so far, I happily vouch that coconut shells are one of the best plant friendly, eco-friendly planters. Of the many coconut shells I worked on only one has broken to pieces so far and that was a work of a visiting pigeon.

I created a vertical garden using these coconut  shells and have managed to keep at least one coconut shell planter in almost all tables at home(family had to learn to adjust with my idiosyncrasies…no choice there😁).

While recommending to family and friends, some were sceptical saying it looked sober… rather like a grim piece of home décor. So I painted them using acrylics (though I prefer the natural colour personally) and drew different shapes and pictures to satiate their interest. Added clay to bring in characters and stories to the planters. And I should say I am quite happy with every planter.

They are small in size and people with bigger gardens, acres of land and fertile soil may not feel the need for growing plants in a tiny coconut shell, but for someone living in a small apartment and who loves everything big and small, I find this idea satisfying. And certainly, they make excellent small indoor planters!

While doing planter project, started collecting small broken pieces of coconut shells and recently have started working on those pieces to make decors, jewelries and accessories. Now I have a tool to do sanding faster and have started to look for tools that would help in cutting and carving too as the interest keeps growing. Creating small eco-friendly jewelries are quite satisfying too and want to explore more in this area. May be one day will update my experiments in jewelries and accessories here.

Every time I complete a planter or jewelry, I feel happy and content that I am using something that otherwise goes as waste from home. There are many cute small planters available in market – made of plastic, clay, ceramic, metal, acrylic, cement, glass etc. .. but feel happy to have chosen coconut shell – no water misused or wasted and no global warming in the making process. …Sorry for the lengthy post and all the deviations from topic initially – I was introspecting and shared along mind’s musings and reflections!

Still an amateur and learning through experiments and mistakes. My finishing has improved greatly and final products look a lot better now. Hope this interest keeps growing and that I get to learn more and more. If anyone has tried working with coconut shells or any other natural product/resource, it will be a pleasure to hear your experiences, suggestions and recommendations.

The War Within

These concrete cupboards
feeling safe within… yet nauseated
and these warring factions within –
can control, but cull them I cannot
The free spirit needs freedom, independence
Else will rot in despair and disgust
An epitome of anguish to become.

The self defences and reasoning,
Call it ego you may..
I say it self-respect gone abundance
Am learning the right and the wrong
Do give me time….

The silences in between
Call it attitude gone astray you may
I say it helplessness garbed as self defence
Am learning the right and the wrong
Do give me time…

Please don’t call everything wrong in me
It cannot be so, isn’t it?
Am I not but a creation of energy?
Created to create energy around?

The warring factions within
Control I can, but cull them I cannot
free spirit needs freedom, independence
Else will rot in despair and disgust-
An epitome of anguish to become.

a twilight click from home

These words were in my Evernote for a long time now, written and saved during one of the difficult times while trying to figure out the good, the bad, the right and the wrong ….. and the ways of being for a harmonious living!

Why?

why do you demand solutions you deem perfect?
why those equations?
why anticipate step by step results?
why preconceived notions and theorems?
this is life……not math!

The Structured Chaos – color pencil art

The Absence

It’s been 5 years since I posted anything here……

Can’t really believe that it’s been 5 years! Had stopped writing abruptly when Mom fell sick and left this world in a wink of time – before I could actually grasp the situation. I found myself struggling hard to believe, accept the truth and live with it. She was the silent strong pillar who had inducted me into the world of alphabets, words, languages, imagination and crafts….. and persuaded me to pen my thoughts as I grew up. Dad played his part by indirectly nurturing the flames of reading habit…..

Absence of Mom and Dad leaves a big vacuum within, that can never by filled again…..how much ever you try! Never knew till then Mom had such a great influence on me….. always thought I was more attached to Dad! May be it was his absence in the later years that made me cling onto her all the more…..

Apparently, all that happened in life after her demise appeared to drain my energy further….may be its the soberness inside….. Indulged in various activities to calm the chaos and find peace within but could never restart writing.

Perhaps am here now to find myself back through writing, exploring and sharing…. to restart and reframe…. perhaps to know more, to understand better….

Hope to continue the interrupted journey here taking baby steps again.

Drawing is one art form that’s been keeping me company for last couple of years….. zentangle, mandala, madhubani and pattachitra – intricate lines and curves of these art forms seem to satiate an intense thirst within. Happily sharing below some of my drawings.

I apologise to all who had dropped in between for not responding to your queries/comments. Thank you so much for sharing your time and thoughts.

எனக்கும் தருவாயா ஓரிடம்?

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மணல்வெளி தன் சிறு துகளை
தோள்களாம்  தேரேற்றி
ஆனந்த நடமாடி
சித்திரமாம் உன் கையெழுத்தில்
தாளத்தில் வரி எழுதி
பதியாமல் நீ பதிந்தாய் மணல்வனத்தில்

காற்றே

சிறையில்லா உன் சிறகுகளில்
தருவாயா
இச்சிறியவளாம் எனக்கும் ஓரிடம்?

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When sun kissed the sands and called it a day….

There is something compelling about the Sharqiah sands, perhaps it’s the emptiness ……or perhaps the fullness…may be its the vastness that stretched far wide to the horizon…or perhaps it’s the color – rich coppery redness splashed athwart playfully by generous someone! ….whatever it be…. found myself mesmerized, enthralled and subdued every time we visited there.

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clouds crowded thither….
a mob of fanatic followers there…..
stifling those jubilant red, yellow & orange afar..
for a crepuscular splendor magical

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occasional winds whizzed in
spattering coppery sands amorously

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wind’s scripts tiptoed sinuously 
weaving a layered ornamentation
for the coppered robe earth wore this side.

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Sun & earth spinned on…
an unwavering rhythmic sufi….
on a relentless serene voyage….

and I  sat there on the ornated dais…
drenched in bronzen shimmer…
inhaling desert sands as she 
gently pulled the blanket over….

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Un’desert’ed!

There was a time when silence deafened my ears. I was so seasoned to  the sounds of city traffic, its absence triggered disillusionment and deafness for a short span. It happened everytime I visited our ancestral home. It was in the interiors of a village blanketed by tall areca palms, coconuts, scented jack, nutmeg and sumptuous mango trees. It looked as if earthy maiden sprawled herself leisurely and reclined quietly for an unending siesta there! There was nothing but silence, voiceless winds, noiseless rustles, less talkative birds and homes that stood forlornly solitary and far apart ….and then I longed to go back to the city!

We visited Sharqiah sands in Oman recently for a nights’ stay there. It’s a desert that’s quite old by age. The sands looked untainted, free and quiet. There was nothing but serenity and silence – l felt empty and hollow within …everything around  seemed rich….. I felt light as a feather …. yet there was heaviness within and around…..there was stillness… yet it was brimming with life …..and I sank in the freedom there!

I realize I love silence more now…. sounds and silence of nature make me more comfortable these days!

It’s probably the sea these sands were once part of, that made them free and move rhythmically calm now!

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This is one hike up and down I ventured without me bothering anxiety or anxiety bothering me! I felt safe somehow – desert sands will never desert – she lies there arms stretched far and wide to hold me in fold if I slip, as best as a mother could!

I left behind giant footsteps…to be covered soon leaving no trace!

Lives many there are – desert it may be but never deserted!

silence gathered around
summoned by desert winds
I sat there …. amidst the sea of sands
on the ornated mound

inhaling silence
engulfing serenity
game to be carried as wind fancies

Sands moved
cuddling and caressing the sands beneath
soaring a wee above 
for a soft sufi spin there
for the joy of freedom
for the joy of life ….
…all to become one with the sands beneath!

To be the desert – to be untaut, to be unbound, to let the winds play tunes, play patterns, to be vast, to be open, to just be!

Dreamy matters!

     Clear blue sky and unending horizon beckoned me pleasantly….. no towering concrete structures between me and the horizon to obstruct my view far and wide… I could see the the entire city…may be more from the balcony up there above! With spirits soaring high, inhaling fresh friendly air, I gazed down …. at thinly lined crisscross serpentine roadways beneath …..far far beneath.. …. I heave a sigh, glad to be long long way away! …. Hold on… what do I see here? … Men walking …. in air – just a few there – but …yes indeed walking! Excited and enthused I step out, heaving a big sigh along a beaming smile ……. with unbound happiness surging within…….I slowly step ahead…. yes … I CaN …..WaLK iN ThE aIR … I take a few steps ahead carefully …. rush back overwhelmed … spellbound, euphoric, I smile, I laugh and I turn around, eyes wide open….. !!!…..er…ugh…..!! its dark, oh…..but….how?….oh…. I still feel euphoric……ugh…..!!!…. ….!!! It was all a dream! …..psssssttt….sssttt!!!

     Dream, it’s been like a TV screen locked inside my head – a screen that gets switched on and off randomly in sleep to play shows different. It rarely replayed a show and I’ve been watching shows many since childhood – fascinating, amusing, sometimes frightening!  No, it has not bothered to disturb my psyche yet – linked it to TV for the bizarre drama it presented!

     Dreams are like those clouds on sky! Clouds that doodled pictures different every time! Sky remained serene and plain….  clouds added the drama!

When I was a kid, I was so intrigued once bearing witness to a spectacular array of metaphysical scenes in my dream that I couldn’t help describing it to a schoolmate. I then learnt dreams are not to be shared. It’s absurd. And don’t ramp your absurdity! Mom was the only silent listener whenever she could spare time for my dream narratives and she always asked me to offer prayers before I went to sleep ….hmmm….. I thought dreaming was bad and remembering even worse! I learnt to keep the picturesque madness within!

Dream
my life-size theater where
I walked in air with clouds
climbed cliffs
found barricaded doors I escaped
wandered happily in paradise
felt threatened by creepers
walked sheepishly barely robed

Once in a while, I saw something in my dream which eventually unfolded in reality – it was exciting yet unnerving! Gladly, most of the time, it was just shows different on my TV screen and I kept watching until a few months after college when I decided to dissect a dream to know its source. This happened because a particular show was getting replayed – again and again – that was unusual and I wanted to know why? I wrote it all down!

I realized it was a themed melodramatic depiction of a specific aspect of my life with symbolic props and characters(after all its a show and its gotta be peppy…yep!). Incidentally, it was a plight I was consciously not giving heed to in physical reality, probably it was boiling within! After dissection, that dream just stopped disturbing me. I knew what to do. It brought me not just solace but success!

It’s not that I dream every day. But when I did, I became curious to break it to know the source. No, certainly not all were possible to be tracked. Its not that I remembered every scene either. Sometimes when I woke up in between with emotions still hanging on me heavily, I tried to skim through those scenes consciously just to store them for later dissection. It worked sometimes. It didn’t sometimes. Sleep gained more importance on bed. When prime characters in the show involved familiar faces, I failed in tracking source – I lacked clarity there! I remained consciously blind to something!

Dream
my life-size theater where
self presented to self
its form rudimentary,
desires uncurtained,
emotions uncurtailed,
perceptions unbridled,
to explore, to navigate
vistas unnoticed, uncared within
to know, to be!

Someone did ‘science with dreams‘ and recorded ‘dreams are made of geomagnetic activity‘. Glad I didn’t know about it when I decided to dissect my dream. I might have missed out on the fun, excitement and knowledge!

May be dreams are not totally made of geomagnetic activity, it probably has something to do with what goes on within one’s mind – may be geomagnetic magnificence provoked those bizarre metaphysical streaming and unnerving scenic displays!

But then, what do scientists say for dreams that eventually unfold in reality or dreams that showed past events unknown to you ?  

Photos clicked @ Kochi and Oman

 

It’s all in the game – Playing Marbles

“It’s all in the game”

Fourth in the series on low-cost, nontoxic, less addictive games from the past …. and its about Playing Marbles this time!

In India, this game is more fondly called ‘Goli’, ‘Goti’, ‘Kanche’…. It used to be an all boys game usually played outdoors – on streets, vacant grounds and even school premises! 

playing marbles

Thinking aback, “Goli’ was one game my brothers took me in without recommendations, persuasions and bargains despite me not fitting in the ‘gender’. Glad games don’t have genders. As for my brothers, I should admit they included me in many games they played within the tall walls of our home – sometimes to fill in the number, sometimes to avoid my silent outbursts later! Thanks to them! They used to play a game akin to cricket indoors and they hardly failed to line me in despite my sickeningly pathetic batting, bowling and fielding – I never improved there! In marbles, it was different- the glow and glitz of those glassy restless spherical balls kind of pleased and elated my spirits. Designs seemed to wriggle within and I was happy to let them loose on ground. When a marble broke, I was curious to know what was inside. I handled them pleasurably, lovingly, less carefully and much willingly.

They say Playing Marbles is similar to golf! I think its strangely connected to billiards – knocking a ball with another ball! In both games, they use stick(golf club/cue stick) and holes/pockets are many. In ‘goli’, a player strikes a series of marbles with one marble to make them all reach a single hole-with no accessories or tools! 

Teach your children Newton’s different ‘Laws of Motion’ playfully!

Advantages in playing marbles are many – whether it be learning basic physics or basics of life per se -one’s action and probable reactions; the need for focus and necessary skill to reach goal – this game provides all!

Movement of marbles, force we use, resulting collision that trigger more movement, external factors that affect movement including breeze, uneven surface and weight of the marble – yes, it’s more interesting to learn basic concepts of physics this way – force, friction, mass, surface and how these factors affect behavior of a marble. Inquisitive child’s mind will learn these concepts at ease playfully.

Therapeutic benefits:

  • Improves fine motor skills (involves coordination of small muscles in our hands and fingers to work together for tossing the marble) – Speed, direction and movement of a marble is dependent on player’s exertion of appropriate pressure on the marble that is tossed. Gradually, player learns to adeptly control his finger movements, force and tossing styles.
  • Develops concentration & focus
  • Improves Gross motor skills (involves usage of large muscles of our body to perform a movement – in this game more specifically large muscles of arms and legs)
  • Improves eye-hand coordination
  • Enhances spatial awareness 
  • Visual processing skills – Understanding distance between his/her tossing position and gauging the force that needs to be exerted to strike opponent’s marble/s to make it all reach hole.
  • Socialization skills  – Players devise their rules and learn to agree for a fair play. It is this agreement of sorts which will help in learning negotiation skills, developing mutual understanding, trust, healthy competition and cooperation. When played in groups, kids learn the concept of equal opportunity and learn to wait and accept.

How to play?

Materials required:
Small glass marbles(about 1 cm in diameter) 2 – 5 marbles for each player

A Shallow (heel-sized) hole is dug in the ground (if playing indoors, create a small goal post)
A stick or a chalk to draw lines
A leveled ground helps in free movement of marbles

Number of Players:

Minimum two. More the number more interesting gets the game as more marbles come into play and available for possession.

How to Play?

Unwritten ‘Agreement of Sorts’

In our mode of play, each player started his/her game bringing in two marbles initially into play. Players brought in more marbles in his/her subsequent turns – minimum and maximum number of marbles introduced per turn per player is decided in advance. A player starts his turn positioning his shooter marble from a predetermined line. Marble that is used to strike or shoot other marbles is called a shooter marble and some players had a special or lucky marble for this purpose.

Every time a marble lands in the hole, player gets an extra chance and his next flick is from the vantage position that his shooter marble has rolled to. If the shooter marble falls in the hole, player loses a turn, but gets to keep his shooter marble with him.

The start

All players toss in their shooter marble simultaneously from a predetermined distance. Player whose shooter marble lands first in the hole starts the game. 

Basic play

First player throws his two marbles near hole. If both lands in hole, then second player gets the chance. If one or both marbles remain outside, then first player gets to strike them. If he manages to flick these marbles to reach hole (with his shooter marble), he wins all marbles in the hole and continues game bringing more marbles into play. Else, he gets the one with which he hit(shooter marble) leaving the other one/two marbles per se on ground.

Second player starts his turn by throwing in his two marbles near hole and flicks his (shooter)marble to strike opponent’s marble/s gently to make them all reach hole. He wins all marbles that gets dropped into hole else gets the one with which he hit(shooter marble) leaving the rest on ground per se. Game continues till all marbles of all players are brought into play and won. Player who manages to drop maximum marbles in the hole is declared winner!

Number of marbles each player brings into the game and whether players get to keep all marbles won by them are decided by mutually agreed rules. At home, all marbles went to one common box at the end – possessions and ownership mattered only while playing -that’s what happens when you play with elder brothers – you gotta listen despite your crazy hunger to possess them all!

Techniques in tossing marble:

Complicated styles make the game more challenging and how you choose your tossing style is your choice.

Knuckle down-player holds his/her shooting marble in the crook or curve of his index finger while resting the knuckle on ground and shoots or flicks the marble with his thumb.

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Flicking-player places his shooting marble between forefinger & thumb. Hold your forefinger back with the thumb exerting little pressure and then flip or snap the forefinger forward. This style of tossing is similar to flicking the striker on carrom board.

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Indian style of playing involved holding your shooting marble in the forefinger/middle finger of left hand (right or left is dependent on the ease of player) and stretching the forefinger/middle finger backwards exerting pressure by forefinger of the other hand while resting the thumb of your left hand on the ground. Marble is held tight between the fingers before pressure is released. A comparatively difficult style that demands flexibility of both hands and it requires practice!

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Different ways and styles for playing marbles are shared in “other links” and “video” down the page.

This post is longer than I intended. It was a little difficult recollecting the mode of playing but hope ‘ve not done injustice to memory and happy times! These old games don’t come with written rules which gives us the wand to make it twisted or simple as our mind fancies – leave it to your kids to design theirs but sure its worth a try! 

How to play marbles- links:
http://www.landofmarbles.com/marbles-play.html
http://www.wikihow.com/Play-Marbles

For younger kids there are options different:
click for Video
http://spaghettiboxkids.com/blog/how-to-play-marbles-part-1/
http://spaghettiboxkids.com/blog/how-to-play-marbles-part-2/

It’s all in the game – ‘Skipping’

‘It’s all in the game’ series continues and this time its about ‘skipping’. Skipping may not be a game per se but what’s in a name or term for a child? Anything that involves loads of fun and energy is interesting and irresistible!

Click here to read earlier parts of “It’s all in the game”

Kids have always amazed me – their curiosity, readiness to explore, utter inability to wait, the will to win and will to forgive … some skills there certainly I would like to relearn and retain now! They’re quite competent in maneuvering small and large screens expertly – that’s absolutely admirable but in the process they shouldn’t go unawares of the ways of maneuvering physical body!

It’s my association and experience with kids and adolescents at two different institutions in the recent past that changed my perception on activities, games and their varying impacts on human body, mind and cognitive skills and this series is a result of the same! 

Kids start by imitating and learn by exploring -whether it be handling gadgets, playing games or exploring nature ………….it all starts with us! So let’s start

skipping

Skipping is a simple activity but it plainly exhibits one’s power to fight against gravity and kids literally love this anti-gravity movement. 

I remember those school days(of ’80’s) when girls smuggled in their skipping ropes to school just to enjoy the fun at break hours. Some of them had more than a pair at home and they brought it all to share(with pride no doubt)! They jumped, not just for the feel and fun, but to challenge everyone to beat scores. It may be a solo performance or a group activity – jumping the rope together emphasized understanding and unity between friends! Ability to keep count and count speedily were matters of some concern but what mattered most was – fun, entertainment and happiness!

For us jumping the rope and skipping the rope meant the same and we did it either ways as per will. (Personally, I bettered at jumping then but now I prefer skipping-I keep losing breath while jumping now!)

skipping sceneAs a child, this game had made me reach my ‘highs’ and ‘feel light’. I was surprised when I found my friends had failed to introduce these activities to their kids now. It wasn’t intentional -it’s just that they forgot! These games are less charming now! Besides, just like me, they too were unaware of the positives! They were trying hard and spending more to keep their kids engaged! I gifted skipping rope and introduced different games. Those happy faces make me happy in turn and …yes, I too have my bit of fun and energizing exhaustion with them! Kids love anything fun, they get bored easily and gotta give vent to their energy! 

And now we get to the benefits of Skipping. This is for all those who value ‘knowledge’ – I appreciate that and here we go! I’m not a professional and ‘ve sought professional help to give a fair picture.

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* Prerequisites for skipping – a child should be able to stand, walk, hop & jump with good balance.  Any child with these prerequisites (above 3-4 years of age) can be encouraged to do skipping.

Precaution:  It is advised that children with heart problem should be allowed to do this activity only under doctor’s advice and therapeutic supervision.

Therapeutic benefits and precautions have been compiled under guidance of Mrs.Nirmala Solanky Venkateswaran, Occupational Therapist, who has been serving kids and adults for over 55 years. She needs no introduction to those who have read the earlier parts of ‘It’s all in the game‘.

Besides fun, skipping helps in burning calories too – it’s a good stay fit exercise. So don’t hesitate…. gear up and get your skipping rope today – not just for kids!! 

Options in skipping are aplenty and you may check the youtube link here:
Different types of skipping on youtube 
and for more options please click here

 

A wanderer’s beach pondering….

This has been in my Evernote for a few days now…. drafted during our drive from the beach. It was not a weekend trip but an in between one to Al Sawadi.

Beach looked deserted being a week day – may be its the Ramadan fasting and warm weather that kept everyone home.

I stood watching shells that were strewn generously on sands – shells and conchs of sizes many, shapes many and shades many that spoke of lives lived and still living in waters -sea seemed to be brimming with life!

You never feel alone amidst nature! Loneliness may be an excuse… solitude is different -you revel and revive in it! 

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its not the sands that tickle your feet all the time – shells do it intermittently…..almost everywhere!  

At Sawadi sands, I get tempted to pocket a few shells every time!

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sands at Sawadi are darker in shade…shells shine sharply here!

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waves churned with unbounded joy
liken a bundle of school kids let loose
bathed and garbed in new found happiness
frivolous, joyous, immensely happy
they raced, they chased, mirthfully bashing one another
falling frailly – giggling rapturously
never wanting to end the fun
they turned aback
to relive it all – all over again!

Sea was relatively calmer last time. May be seas too are prone to mood swings. They need winds to bubble up. They have their high and low tides too – gravity, moon and sun playing their roles perfectly they say!

What am I but elements with 60% water inside and isn’t it quite natural that I too am prone to high and low tides surging and falling within?

 

All images were clicked at Al Sawadi beach, Oman

the bronzen treats

setting beams
of the simmering fireball
spilled silky tenderness
on subjects all –
and I bathed in the
gleaming satiny radiance!

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bed may be a thin rim of rusted iron, matters what?  certainly a soothing beamy spa in progress …..or is this catzy heliotherapy? Saw this cat enjoying heliotherapy same time everyday just as the sun was setting…this happened for weeks together 

surging beams
of dawning sun
stretched arms serenely

scattering shimmering lustre most gently
and I basked in the
radiating bronzy glow!

DSCN3204-7That’s the beauty of setting sun. He can blacken you out from behind.

A silhouette or a soft bronzian glow – all depends on where you place your lens – either way it’s just beautiful! 

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting” (– Ralph Waldo Emerson) 

a mind & its windy affair!

‘Mind’ – this word grabbed my attention when I wanted to write about winds – I wasn’t looking for it… but noticed it everywhere and heard it in conversations – contexts different, intents different – but the word slithered in!

When I was a child I used to think mind was in heart! That was well before my exposure to hypocrisies and vanities of life. Well, heart has nothing to do with mind it seems! Good for me… ….my heart! …. still wonder why people often villainize heart and take it to gallows for mind’s caprices!!

Curiosity made me google ‘mind’.

Mind
Noun
1. the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought”
2. a person’s intellect.
Verb
1. be distressed, annoyed, or worried by.
2. regard as important; feel concern about.

Researches and journals had pages many on mind’s workings and google listed them in screens many! …….but..where is mind?…….still a mystery? …..!!….. Mind is not confined to brain nor to consciousness they say….. Well …. it becomes difficult to comprehend – once you step on realms other than real, conscious and concrete! May be its better to leave it all to mind  …….to know more…to explore! 

Now that leaves me to continue with what I wanted to share here – wind!

Desert winds are charmers and they can be heedlessly noisy when they want to – may be because they don’t have trees to converse and share! When they get intermittently gutsy they keep howling through window slits and gaps nonchalantly demanding entry and ears.

These winds can raise columns of dust off the arid land creating dust ghosts of sizes many and forms varied – a bizarre performance that may last a few seconds to minutes.

They are unlike dust storms or sandstorms that last for minutes longer blinding the entire space with smokes of dust or sand.

On a windy day, from my window I can see the elemental dance of dry grass and diffident sway of dry land bushes in tune with wind’s blowing beats. As I wonder how those tiny feathery birdies manage to anchor their tender bodies against gushing winds, a sparrow flutters its wings and regains balance in a jiffy landing most softly. So does the bee-eater!

In India, have soaked pleasurably in the pleasing cool breeze that caressed and cuddled coastal parts of northern Chennai, post lunch, all through the year – more in summer. Have happily inhaled calm and cool air of Kochi streets post sunset. Wind in Oman is warmer both day and night between May-October and this makes it less friendly during this time… but plainly its hard to find a more friendlier weather in the Persian Gulf!

at sea
receding waters hurriedly sewed

scaly fringes on shore’s hems  –
water’s autograph endorsing windy affair!

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patterns diverse on drifting sands-
never satisfied with design last sketched…
wind’s desert whims are they!

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hide and seek on mountain ranges  
the haphazard game that winds played 
carving sculptures of sizes several
scribbling stories intrinsic in volumes myriad!

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Winds can be calm, breezy, noisy, stormy, ravenous and so are our minds! It is by happenstance that ‘mind’ caught my attention when all I wanted to write was wind – Wind and Mind – the invisible unbounded wanderers of spaces hither definitely possessing raging skills to create wonders and havoc! 

 

The above images and video were clicked and recorded in the Sultanate of Oman

It’s all in the game – ‘Five Stones’

Click here to read earlier parts of “It’s all in the game”

This is second in the series ‘It’s all in the game’. This time its all about ‘Five Stones’ – a game which was played widely amidst kids few decades ago when there were no electronic gadgets of interest! This game demanded quick eye-hand coordination and good sense of timing – it was quite a challenge! Many a times I messed it up but it was all fun nevertheless…. I used to watch my friends in awe as they quite deftly stole the show with rapid eye-hand movements.

It wasn’t the machine memory that decided winning chances of the player and it certainly wasn’t about winning or losing all the time….. it was about giving and taking too(friend loses a chance to give you one) – it was learning and understanding one’s abilities… and accepting & entertaining relationships!

Not every kid is interested in regular sports, yoga or dance but every child loves to play and games involving physical movement can be total fun and challenge. When played in groups, they are more fun and entertaining. Learning one’s own body and learning to manipulate its movements are skills that can be imparted through games. These movement games need energy in lots and kids have the same in loads! Kids get bored easily and these zero-cost games can keep our kids engaged.

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5 small stones are all that’s required to play this game. When it comes to playing with stones, some of us are quite concerned about kids and their safety. If apprehensive, prepare your own small bags of rice, sand or saga seeds (for model check the video on youtube-How to make your five stones – cloth bags). You can fill in the mini pouch with anything you feel perfect – its your creativity and the game is all yours! To know how to play the game, click on the link at the end of this blog.

I have added in the advantages of playing ‘five stones’ for those who ask why ‘five stones’ now? I did seek professional help to give a fair picture here. Kindly share in your thoughts on these games to help me pen more!

Why play ‘five stones’? – the benefits

  • Tossing the stones  
    • Gross motor development (involves usage of large muscles of our body to perform a movement – in this game more specifically large muscles of arms)
    • Improves Visual processing skills (locating the stone – air & ground)
    • Improves Eye-hand coordination
    • Improves Concentration
  • Picking stones from ground & seizing the tossed stone in mid air (both tasks at the same time)
    • Fine motor development (involves coordination of small muscles in our hands and fingers to work together for precise movements)
    • Enhances reflexes (reflex is an action that is performed as a response to a stimulus and without conscious thought)
    • Enhances Spatial awareness
    • Involves Eye-Hand coordination
    • Improves Focus & Goal orientation
    • Increases Control & Multi-tasking
  • Taking turns & following game rules helps improve
    • Socialization
    • Abstract thinking
    • Memory
    • Alertness
    • Discipline
  • Helps the child 
    • improve sitting tolerance
    • learn sequencing
    • in personality development
      • enhances self-confidence
      • learns to win & lose

This game is suitable for kids aged 5 and above. Therapeutic benefits are compiled under the guidance of Mrs.Nirmala Solanky Venkateswaran, Occupational Therapist experienced in the field for over 55 years. She needs no introduction to those who have read the first part of It’s all in the game‘. Her dedication has been an inspiration to me and she is the one who has been a strong supporter in penning my thoughts on old games and activities. 

I found these videos on youtube, click the link for view:
How to play five stones 
How to make your five stones – cloth bags

click to read further   How to play Five  stones?

 

How to play ‘five stones’

five stones2

 

Click here to read the first part & benefits of playing Five stones

How to play?

Materials required:  5 stones of similar sizes or 5 small triangular cloth bags filled with sand/rice/saga seeds.

Number of players : Min. 2.       Age – 5 years & above.

Method of play:
As with all traditional games, there are no formal or written rules and the steps and rules differ from place to place. The steps narrated below may serve as a guide to frame your own rules. If you find it difficult to follow the steps, please check the video link below.

There are 8 steps to complete the game and the player who completes all 8 steps in minimal attempts becomes the winner.  If a player misses any of the steps, next player takes the turn. Once all players complete their first turn, second round starts and the players continue their turn from where they left in the first turn. 

To start a turn, the player throws all 5 stones in air and tries to catch as many stones as possible on the back of the same hand.  Stones that are caught(on the back of the hand) are then thrown up again from back of the hand and the player catches as many stones as possible in the palm of the same hand. If no stone is caught, the player loses turn. Player who catches the stones starts his turn.

Step 1

  • Throw all 5 stones on ground.
  • Pick one stone. While tossing it in the air, pick one stone from ground and catch the tossed stone before it falls to ground (all in the same hand). Now you will have 2 stones in hand.
  • Toss one of the caught stones into air and pick another stone from ground. Now, you will have 3 stones in hand.
  • Repeat the steps till you have all 5 stones in your hand.

Step 2

  • Throw all 5 stones on ground.
  • Pick one stone. While tossing it up in air, pick 2 stones from ground and catch the tossed stone.
  • Toss one of the stones in hand and pick remaining 2 stones from ground.
  • You will have all the 5 stones in your hand at the end of step 2.

Step 3

  • Throw all 5 stones on ground.
  • Pick one stone. While tossing it in air, pick 3 stones from the ground and catch the tossed stone as well.
  • Complete the toss for picking the remaining stone on ground.

Step 4

  • Throw all 5 stones on ground.
  • Pick one stone. While tossing it in air pick all 4 stones on ground and catch the tossed stone as well.

Step 5

  • While throwing one stone in air, place four stones on the ground.
  • Toss one stone up again and catch it while picking all four stones on the ground.

Step 6

  • Throw all 5 stones on ground.
  • Pick 2 stones and while tossing one stone in air, exchange the stone in hand with another one in the ground.(remember to keep aside the stone you exchange)
  • Repeat the step for remaining 3 stones.

Step 7

  • Throw all five stones on ground.
  • Pick two stones and while throwing both stones in air, pick one from ground and catch the two falling stones one in each hand.
  • Repeat for all 3 stones.

Step 8

  • Throw all five stones on the ground.
  • The opponent selects a stone to be tossed in air.
  • Player picks the selected stone without disturbing other stones, throws it in air and picks up remaining stones on the ground in one clean sweep.

Found these videos on how to play Five stones on youtube, click the link for view:
How to play five stones 
How to make your five stones and play

The steps, methods & strategies differ from place to place. Players choose and create their own steps and agree upon the sequence of steps before starting the game. These games can be made as complicated or as simple depending upon the players. Now go ahead and create your own style.

As a parent, its our personal presence more than material presents that play vital role in our kids’ emotional development. Let’s play these games with our kids and involve other kids too. For children, it’s 100% fun and entertainment. These games would no doubt help you lighten your spirits and ease the relationship between you and your child. More than most – therapeutic benefits of the games are not just for kids, it’s for all! So go ahead and harness your skills further for a better performance at home, work & life.

For further reading on how to play the game you may check the following links on google:

http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_194_2005-01-07.html
http://www.traditionalgames.in/home/property-games/five-stones-kuzhangal-anchankal-kallankal

a piece of self that brought peace!

an impasse infiltrated 
through spaces open 
and crevices unmended
follies and foibles kept the door ajar 
a visible nothingness 
crowded my vision
I stayed calm, deeply calm 

I took to clicking pictures when an eerie emptiness was slowly penetrating my disturbed spirits. Conflictingly, all that I clicked during this period was brightly lit flowers and luscious green leaves – I clicked loads of them! It wasn’t a conscious move – just happened so!  

Saw vibrant colors scattered abundantly, elegantly and thought they turned more beautiful in smaller frames!

From fire to the tiniest grass, to fallen feathers, fallen leaves, barren branches, thorns, insects – I clicked them all slowly.. ……. insatiably! 


The symmetry, gravity, delicacy, creativity – all got me engrossed! Somehow they all seemed to convey something – but never deciphered what… neither pondered to figure that out! Loved seeing them in small frames!  It somehow helped me make peace within!

Dragonflies amazed me with their power to stay oblivious to things around (looked like some kinda meditation). I got hooked on to them day after day. The regular ones never felt bothered with me hanging around!

I’m no photographer but photography helped me stay calm when nerves could’ve wrecked signals across gray matter! It’s solely an unconscious indulgence mind chose to delve in! I was rescued unscathed…more calmed, more tempered! Our ‘self’ always finds its own way out!

May be one day my love for photography will fade just as it bloomed – unobserved! I may sync in tune with the wholesomeness and see no pleasure in capturing them in small frames! But for now, it continues to satisfy and I make peace within!

I thank all who have dropped in earlier and appreciated photographs here…your words have powered my lens more!

 

 All the above images were clicked at home using a basic compact digital camera -Panasonic (Lumix series – DMC FS62).  My interest grew and I moved on to Nikon Coolpix with more options but still cherish this old camera for all the peace it helped me locate!

……….

P.S: I am truly overwhelmed by all the support and appreciation. I never thought that my clicks would attract attention! Honestly, it makes me happy! Definitely it was not a pastime – it meant a lot (an immense lot) more to me – it gave me peace, made me calm and contented! My interest has since grown in plentitude and it’s been a few years now! Looking back and ‘connecting the dots’ – it all makes sense to me now!

(June 9, 2016)

The phantasmagoria of sorts

To call Pooram a festival or ritual may be demeaning –  undoubtedly it’s an adrenaline pumping spectacular display of human vivacity without digital interference! (Pooram is a ceremoniously colorful temple festival held every year in the central and northern parts of Kerala between Jan – May).

My fascinations for Pooram are for reasons truly simple – instrumental music – Panchavaadyam and Pancharimelam! (five-instrumental and four-instrumental (percussion+wind) performances played rhythmically in full throttle)

artistes stand in rows facing each other
may be for better understanding between notes,
may be fanning mutual inspiration,
a performance of high volt it is,
they need the synergized energy.

accelerating beats and blows
powerfully shuts off  
all decibels in proximity.

sync in soon with the crescendoing harmony
or feel throttled sooner.

those electrifying acoustic vibrations
inject a wave of enigmatic energy into my nerves,
the overpowering harmony keeps me hypnotized.

all other music are trifling cacophonies
and I revel in the rhythm of encircling euphoria
consuming gallons of amphetamines
impulsively expelled by the orchestrated crescendo

Click here for the magnetic spell this music casts on spectators! 

(Click on the image for larger view)

Pooram is an experience that’s one of its kind – ‘a phantasmagoria of sorts’ – a fascinating, flamboyant experience that leaves me not just exhilarated but restlessly contemplative….

I love everything about Pooram/Thalappoli but for these two:

Elephant pageantry
I love the paraphernalia –
decorated umbrellas, ornated golden head cover, ornamental fan – but
I feel uncomfortable
amidst those towering majestic denizens of residence different
ordered to pose poise,
assembled to stand unmindful of
the orchestrated decibels that thundered high and 

clamoring cacophonies of crowd inimically excited!

They do look majestic and royal ….but they also unsettle me totally! I highly adore their tolerance level – but I implore – this part needs reworking!

Final fireworks – Grand finale that’s connived to speak for the grandiose of events – a series of fireworks of all kinds to showcase the exemplary culmination of the event. It was just once did I witness this final cataclysmic display of pyrotechnics. It lasted just for a few minutes but the accelerated heartbeat lasted much longer!

Earth trembled beneath my feet
as buried balls exploded within
spitting sounds
threatening, deafening, maddening…
cells within rushed nervously…
clicks went jittery…
the show lasted but a few minutes
effects lasted and lingered on!
-a certain death promoting extravaganza it seemed!

The images were clicked during Thalappoli (a miniature version of Pooram) at Kalladathur Temple, Padinjarangadi, Palakkad Dt., Kerala

The lingering gingering Indian Identity!

Its hard to unlearn habits …….harder still to unbecome an Indian! For an average Indian locating a fellow Indian somewhere in the known circle is vital! It makes us feel more comfortable.  

DSCN2063-2.jpgAnd it’s usually easy to identify a fellow Indian (what are we if cannot do at least that much)! The first thought that pops on seeing an Indian is the predominant north-south tag (I often wonder why the east-west tag is not as hot as north-south tag!) – this is done without much fanfare (skin color, features, language & dressing – the last 2 may sometimes be deceiving if abroad). Next comes the search to place the person in his/her State – not the mental state of course  (that comes much later into picture) but the region or the federated state or province to which he/she belongs!  This may go on till we manage to locate the person with someone or some place relatively or distantly or vaguely known to us! This may not be the case with everyone but…. many would agree! The more the age, the more the curiosity, the more the questions!! No complaints! I love my lingering gingering Indian Identity and definitely I never want to unbecome an Indian. 

(Image is a beautiful wooden statue of a woman hand carved by Kenyan artisans)