..glow..

The word glow brings me images of sunsets I watch from my fourth floor balcony. Sunsets are quite an experience. The clouds, the colours, birds flying back to their nests, the cool breeze. And along with all that, at a corner of the mind there is hope that the next sunset would find us in better mood, in better spirits.

 

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Icebreaker

Toastmasters is a platform that I joined recently in my organization.

Cross-posting the transcript of my first speech – The Icebreaker

The Icebreaker

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts”

Good Evening Toastmasters and guests,

These lines from the play “As You Like It” by William Shakespeare suggest that each stage in a person’s life calls him/her to play a different role. Let me take you through some of the many parts Shakespeare talked about! I am Vijay Sankar, and back in May 1984, I was born in this city – Trivandrum.

I walked half a kilometre to my school – Loyola. The years in Loyola laid the foundation – for my interests, for my character and life, in general. I tasted failure quite early at school by failing for an exam in first grade. My mother, who was nursing my infant brother at that time, was completely taken aback when she realized that the first grade of my times was quite different from theirs. Thanks to her prayers, I never disappointed her again in similar fashion.

As a school kid my ambition was to become a space engineer, my parents being scientist engineers at ISRO. Watching or reading about rocket launches by ISRO still gives me goosebumps every time.

My father introduced me to a library for children – FunTime Library. A small room full of books opened the world of literature and an even bigger world of imagination to me! My love for books continue to this day, and I hope it stays so, forever!

My time in Loyola helped me develop a few facets – I became a sportsman, a writer, a performer and an academic – probably in that order. Some parts still remain! Loyola blessed me with outstanding teachers, loyal friends and fond memories.

I walked again – this time from home to College of Engineering, Trivandrum. College was a different experience, especially for someone stepping in from a boys’ school. I took quite some time to break the shell. Strikes, bunking classes, combined study sessions when exams arrive, sports and cultural events. It was fun.

Somewhere along, the space engineer dream lost the race to the IT boom. I accepted the offer from Infosys and joined their Mysore campus in 2005. A grueling but enjoyable six months of training in Mysore, followed by another month of training in Chennai.

Finally, I was posted in Bangalore. It was my first stint away from home. From the luxury of having homemade food to being content with food from restaurants. There was a bright side to it – I was able to appreciate my mother’s culinary skills better.

In a couple of years, my transfer to Trivandrum materialized. I have been here ever since. The last two years have been spent with an enthusiastic bunch here at Oracle.

My interest in photography was rekindled while in Infosys. It has been journey of discovery in many ways: I made new friends, learned to appreciate finer detail, connected better with nature, observed people. I also learned to appreciate classical dance, Kathakali and other traditional art forms.

Along the way, I met Amrutha, when I was requested to record her violin performance for an event in Infosys. She became my wife in later years and continues to enthrall me with the violin.

My little brother, Unnikrishnan, gets the largest piece of my heart. My family revolves around him. I was excited to welcome him as a baby to the family. But soon, I felt something amiss about him. I couldn’t quite understand why my parents gave him so much of their attention – to the extent of ignoring me many a time.

As I grew up, my mother explained about his epilepsy and dyslexia. From that day on, I became his protector. My mother gave up her career in ISRO to look after him. She ensured his successful completion of high school and higher secondary education. His struggle continues, and our efforts to support him have never taken a back seat.

My family brands me short-tempered, impulsive. My friends say otherwise. It is my zodiac sign, you know. Gemini!

Let me conclude with the words of Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“Don’t look for the flaws as you go through life;

And even when you find them,

It is wise and kind to be somewhat blind

And look for the virtue behind them.”

Thank You!

.. wall texture ..

The moment I stepped into the room, the pattern on the walls struck me. The different shapes, the play of lights and shadows. My thought was that it looked like a motif from an ancient era! 

Holiday Inn Express & Suites

Gachibowli, Hyderabad

Textures – my first post for a photo challenge 

So Long, My Friend!

She closed the door of the car, looked at me and smiled. Her eyes reflected the depths of despair, the emotional turmoil simmering beneath. I wanted to reach out to her once more, to take her hand and reassure her. It would never be enough to fill the void, though!

As she walked down the road, a part of me walked out with her. It would be long before I see her again. I wish I could be with her, to be the shoulder to lean on. I wish I could drive her around one more time. I wish I could sit with her at the beach one more time. I wish I could hold her one more time. The wavy hair, the naughty smile, the bubbly laughter, the warmth of her hug. The moments stayed on with echoes of her emotion. She looked back before I could call out to her. A wave, and a smile. And she was gone.

The journey back was hard and lonely. Driving through the lanes and roads which we had travelled just an hour before. The frames played out everywhere. The actions, the words, the feelings, the music. They would forever be etched in memory. Those moments created soulful melodies I had never heard before. Interspersed with melancholy notes, a reminder of reality.

She was trying to balance her emotions all through. She came for me, to take time out for me. Though she was crushed within, her smile had cheered me. It was as much about her, as it was about me. The struggle to come to terms with the loss, the battle to fill the vacuum. I wanted to be of help, but she didn’t let me be. Or did she? Time would tell me someday, maybe.

An angel keeps watch over her, shining bright in the sky. Her guiding light and guardian.

The traffic around faded into oblivion, and the sounds receded into the background. Her smile, and the wave remained, along with the warmth and affection.

So long, my friend! Till next time!

Morning at Vellayani

We use the phrase ‘photo walks’ to denote the walks we do for the purpose of taking photographs. These days everyone can claim to be a photographer with high resolution, high definition cameras available in smartphones and aided by scores of apps that can tweak photographs. That makes us, who straddle backpacks with a DSLR and different lenses for different purposes, seem like an oddity. Having said that, there is no bias against anyone who exclusively shoots with their smartphones.

My friend Tom and I decided to drive over to Vellayani on the outskirts of Trivandrum city over the previous weekend. An early morning walk at Vellayani has a calming effect. Just outside the city limits, we have an area that comprises a lake, some irrigation canals, paddy fields and few vegetable farms. A typical Kerala countryside village so near to the hustle and bustle of the city. A walk along either side of the canal towards the lake is a welcome break from the hectic schedule of the week. It is not photography alone; there is an unspoken conversation with nature that makes this early morning photo walks at Vellayani a refreshing experience. An experience devoid of sophistication – not entirely though, we are carrying a load of sophisticated technology in our backpacks. A couple of hours away from smartphones, iPods, laptops, tablets, home theatres, instant messengers and the like that are now a permanent fixture in our lives.

When we set out for a photo walk, the obvious rule is to reach the destination before the sun is up. And many of my friends end up asking me ‘Why so early’? And I end up giving them a wry smile and saying ‘That’s the best part of it’, leaving a few of them still puzzled. We observe how the world comes to life. The day wakes up with the sun climbing out of bed in the east. To be witness to this cosmic spectacle is indeed the best part of it. And before we see the sun, we see the colours. If we are lucky enough, that is. Not every sunrise splashes colours over the place. We were lucky this day. And we were just in time to see the sun rise. The time just before sunrise, and the time just after sunset – bookmark them!

 

We usually commence our walk at Vellayani from Punchakkari. The place is reachable by bus also, as KSRTC plies on this route from East Fort to Punchakkari. That is where we embark on our morning walk alongside the canal and towards the periphery of the Vellayani Lake. As we parked our car near the small bridge, we could see a school bus and school kids wearing colourful shirts assemble along with a couple of teachers. The kids were carrying small notepads and pencils; a few had water bottles too. We noted that the teachers were having a camera and a pair of binoculars in hand. It seemed really heartening that the teachers decided to show the beauty of nature to kids rather than confine them to classrooms. It was a really happy feeling to start the walk with. We smile at them, the cameras inviting curious looks, and walk past onto the unpaved road along the canal. The left side of the canal is mostly paddy fields, and with small narrow brooks running across the fields at few places. The right side is mostly used for cultivation of vegetables and plantain.

 

The green fields on one side, the canal on the other, and the colours just before sunrise – it felt really good to breathe in the cool air along with the colours and sights. And sounds too! The chirping of birds, dogs, buffalos, ducks, kingfishers, bee-eaters, drongos, bumble bees, cranes, storks, herons, swamp hens – the list is long. As we progressed with our walk, we could see a congregation of sorts – of cows and calves. They were lined up for being milked. The calves stayed close to their mothers, though ambling about restlessly. A few dogs were also lying beside these cows, curled up, comfortably enjoying a relaxed morning. We pause innumerable times in search of something that could be framed for posterity. The golden rays sparkling over dewdrops, butterflies shaking off their inertia, ducks having a dip in the canal, villagers with innocent faces walking past, the white-throated kingfisher sitting among the branches of a tree and crooning its distinctive call – sights and sounds that amaze and instill wonder.

 

Even if I came back without any photographs, the walk along this canal is definitely worth the travel and the time. That is, for someone like me who loves the simple pleasures and sights nature has to offer. If we start judging our photo walks with the number of photographs we have as keepers, we lose the whole point of the walks. Remember, the journey is the experience, not the destination!

..an ounce..

An Ounce

For long, I waited for it.
A signal, a sign, an indication.
It never arrived, it never will again.
It was stifled, smothered, suppressed.
My heart yearned, my mind pleaded,
My conscience ached, my limbs folded in prayer.
Despair creeps in, silent like the night;
Lips tremble in fear, eyes deeply shut,
Streams of sweat drenching the body,
Gloom drowning the soul;
Waited, and waited, and waited,
For a shimmer of humanity,
For hope to breathe into…
It never was to be,
As the blade swooped down,
Sending the stream of thought flying in a splatter of blood.
My head in its place, I woke up mumbling:
An ounce of humanity, please!

Vijay Sankar
19 February 2016

…sparks and fireworks…

It came up casually in one of the conversations during the late afternoon hours in office. My friends asked what inspired me to write one of my poems. It was an interesting question, and his intention was to get an insight into what goes behind the scenes of a poem. The explanation of the actual scenario evoked amused laughter. I wouldn’t blame my friends – the explanation actually sounded comical and silly. As I look back on it, it amuses me too. I wouldn’t call myself a poet – that is too high a pedestal to place me on. The intent of my writings has been personal contentment as I used to write only when I was strangled by emotions. It helped me to feel relieved, letting go of an emotional state.

The question that sparked a frenzy of thoughts was about the spark itself. That one small moment of inspiration – it could happen anywhere. We have seen it happen on the sporting field, we have heard numerous stories of creative genius from the field of art. It could be happening in the field of science too – a slice of time that could spark your Eureka moment (not literally, better not!). It could be anything – seemingly irrelevant, routine stuff, things that you never noticed before. A sound, an expression, a colour – it could work wonders. It could set you on a track you have never been on before. And it could also take you for bumpy rides. It could rip you apart, and it could pain you. You may reach the heights of euphoria and the lows of desperation. All of these could be the result of the spark.

I was recently watching an interview of Harish Sivaramakrishnan, the vocalist and founder of the music band ‘Agam’. In his conversation, he was mentioning the way some of their songs were born. He says it all happened, and nothing was planned. It was an interview I loved watching. It is all about how we take that spark in – and, let the fireworks begin!