Sep 24, 2012

To the Person Behind the Blogger

Dear person behind the blogger,

This letter might look a little awkward since the addressee and the author are seemingly the same person. You have been present in this virtual communication space for a long time. You have written over a hundred posts, of which some are found by me also as readable ones, and I don’t hide the truth that I do take time to read some of your posts over and over again simply for the reading cathartic pleasure. 

I can understand that sometimes you feel very dry without having any genuine topics to write upon. I know that hurts a lot. But, the way you pick incidents from the dust-coated folder of memories in your brain, and polish them with your pseudo perfectionist’s touch is appreciable. Some of those memories are nice to read, especially the child hood stories, and your memories on certain girls, and the way you narrate your desire to have them as your girl friends. But frankly, some of such memories and the narratives on them are really ugly. I hope at least from now onwards, you would give more dedication to sorting those memories in order to pick the correct one for this blog.

But, I have some questions to you. I know who you are! But tell me who am I? Am I just your Doppleganger, the ghostly double? Or just a dummy for you to show off? You always use me to glorify yourself. You create an image that is me; you call it Tomz in a narcissistic way, and write hiding behind the safe shades of that image. You remember, there are so many persons who expressed disbelief on the revelation of you as the blogger behind this blog. To cite an example, didn’t that girl once tell you that you don’t look like a blogger? Another one who knew you personally also had exhibited her helplessness on identifying you with the writer as presented in this blog. Could she have taken you and me as two distinct persons? She pleaded, didn’t she?

There are some more close friends you have, who have expressed their irritation over your habit of scrutinizing everything around for topics. You don’t know how much irritating and nauseating is that for others. They say something very personal to you, and the next day it becomes a post in your blog with your valor playing as the background theme. How cunningly you establish yourself as a humble and simple guy gaining applauds from all of your sincere and innocent readers? And you have a great explanation for your self-devotion – that your blog’s name explains it all, that you have explained it in the sub heading, and that you are maintaining a boastful blog. How irksome is that? You should understand that your self-glorification through the blog only will bring head ache. You don’t know you are actually itching your close ones and your trust worthy friends. 

I also know some of your fraudulence. You often use your blog against those who criticize you in real life. I am not citing any example, or posting the links in which you did that. Though apparently you might not tarnish someone openly, but some of your tricky words are hurting to the real persons whom you have presented as characters in your posts. You are doing it purposefully, though you pretend that you did not do anything wrong. But I know, you are doing it intentionally to hurt them, sometimes with the comic portrayal of them, and some other times by rejecting them soullessly.  And those who support you are well portrayed with a bright halo around their heads. I don’t have a better phrase than 'virtual nepotism’ to name your attitude.

I am not criticizing you very much. Not because I am afraid of you. I am not worried that you would desert me, and would put on another image. Because, I know, now your online reputation is based completely on my image. You and I have become inseparable ones. Now there is no you, or no me. Only an admixture of us is present. Neither of us can survive in this virtual world without the mutual support. I know this fact and I also know that you too are completely aware of this. 

We both know that we are the same. So I don’t think I would do emotional vomiting here more on this issue. I hope I will see a better you from the next post onwards, so that you can breathe freedom on losing your image. If you present the real you through me, you might not get so many frowns from your friends, and you will never need to face the 'you a blogger? ’ kind of questioning stares any more.

Sincerely yours,
Tomz

This post is part of the contest A letter to yourself.. on WriteUpCafe.com

Sep 18, 2012

Melbourne in a Day Dream

That day, while checking the internet on my laptop by lying on my couch in a comfortable position, I happened to visit the official website of Melbourne tourism. My earlier stints in the field of tourism journalism often make me wander through tourism websites inadvertently. Though I don’t usually stick to a particular website for more than five minutes, this was something different. Melbourne has a great touch of elegance; it has everything that a travel enthusiast needs – be it, sports, arts, beaches, or locales and activities that attract a family holidaymaker.

Thinking about it over and over again, I saw the images and the letters in the website gradually withering away. Initially I imagined my pupils sinking in a deep ocean, but that was actually happening metaphorically; my eyes were closing; I was sure that I was going to sleep. 

Hot Air Balloons over Melbourne
In the sleep I saw a dream, and I don’t know, to what extend Freudian theories on sleeps and dreams are correct. May be since I was thinking about such a wonderful heavenly place Melbourne, in my dream Melbourne appeared with its heavenly charm in its fullness. 

The dream started with something like a wind, which was formed by the letters on the webpage I was checking. I was being carried by that wind through the beautiful sky, and I wished that if I had never been woken up from that sleep, since I knew that I was dreaming. 

Suddenly I heard someone saying in my ear, it's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!! The voice was very close to my ear, so I heard it clearly. I looked down and saw I was floating on a cloud on top of the Australian continent. Knowing my wish I guess, the heavy wind lightened its grip, and I was being descended little by little, slowly along with the cloud by which I was being carried.
Federation Square

While coming down, I saw the sea side city Melbourne becoming bigger and bigger below. Along the frothing coastline, I saw humans move like tiny tots. Around me, there were a lot of huge balloons carrying people floating in the air. As I guessed, they were all visitors relishing the lovely aerial sights of Melbourne on floating balloons. 

I saw a vast area in green colour spread on a circular area below, which I identified immediately as the Melbourne Cricket Ground. As someone belonging to a country like India which breathes Cricket, I always wanted to visit this stadium at least once. But as I said before, I knew that I was dreaming.

Many sky scrapers of Melbourne city were coming closer. The buildings constructed in the Victorian Era looked much more Gothic in style comparing to the modern buildings. A vast area called the Federation Square and its sandstone buildings looked grand from the top view. The Crown Casino and the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre also attracted my sudden attention. Among other attractions those drew my attention; Melbourne Zoo, Queen Victoria Market and St Pauls Cathedral were included.
National Sports Museum

Melbourne annually hosts a film festival, the famous MIFF, which is the short form for Melbourne International Film Festival. Though this is not the usual time of the festival, seeing films at the festival and meeting world renowned film makers remained as just a mere dream.

I slowly landed in the Melbourne city on the shores of Yarra River. I could see the Federation Square and the Crown Casino at a distance. My forward go was very easy, as the cloud under my feet was helpful enough to make me move through the grounds effortlessly. The cloud jumped when it met hindrances.

The cloud took me through National Sports Museum, the awe inspiring Eureka Skydeck, the haunting Old Melbourne Gaol Crime and  Justice Experience, Melbourne Aquarium, and so many other places, about which I had been just reading a few seconds before I fell into this sleep. I also had a tasteful journey through wineries, craft breweries, and so many dining centres which all were offering Melbourne’s typical and traditional culinary delicacies.
Falls Creek Skiing

In the end, I happened to visit the Falls Creek, where I watched tourists engaged in skiing. I also wanted to try skiing. So, I slowly jumped from the comfort of the carrying cloud and tried to put on the skis. But, I was tumbled down, because of inexperience, and was slidden through the sloppy mist-clad hill sides for sometime before deposited on the base of the mountain.

I suddenly woke up, and realized vividly that it was another one of my lucid dreams. Anyway visiting Melbourne was fun and heavenly, even though it was in a dream. I wanted to visit the destinations that I saw one more time, and this time it won’t be in a dream, but in real.

(This is a Fiction written for the Indiblogger Contest organized in association with Melbourne Tourism.)

Image Courtesy: http://www.visitmelbourne.com/in

Sep 5, 2012

Hundred

Without any predetermined objectives having set, by occasionally putting smiles on its readers lips, by making them sad or angry sometimes, by giving a spark of inspiration that usually starts from their spines at times, and most often killing them with boring topics, Vanity Moments today manages to give birth to its hundredth post finally, helping its author breathe out a long restrained sigh of relief.

As the author, this post is very special to me regardless of the plain subject that it deals with. I took a long time to climb up this high, roughly a little more than five years, but at the same time I know so many fellow bloggers who reached this magical number and beyond that in a very short span of time. What I have in mind towards them is sheer admiration for their prolificness and the ability to write flawlessly and fluently.  

Most often I tried to do justice to my policy to write based on actual incidents, and not fiction. This queer writing policy is not because of hatred for fiction, but owing to the inability to use imagination in a productive manner. This inability had obviously prompted me most often to absorb elements for my posts from what I see, what I hear and what I experience in my surroundings. And many times I have been criticized by my close ones for approaching everything with a Blogger’s hawk’s eye that is thirsty of plots. 

Thankfully I remember some fellow bloggers who have been with me in the process of maturing. I remember everyone from the initial stage of my blogging who took the pain of reading my posts and comment what they felt about it. Priyanka, who used to poke me with her posts periodically through mails, had given me the initial idea of blogging. But I came here not with the aim to become a blogger. My real purpose was to find a platform to promote a short documentary which I made featuring a Beach in Kerala. So, on 2007 July 24, my first post was published with the video, but without a write up (the write up was added later). 

I have to specially thank NRI Girl for encouraging me and for having the patience to listen to what I said as part of an interview series she conducted. Walk2Write, the awesome nature blogger from Florida here needs a special mention of gratitude for helping me to reach this far with her encouraging words. She courageously calls me her favorite Indian Blogger, and that is something I consider as a recognition. 

I thankfully remember my fellow bloggers for their continuing support especially Ramesh for waking me up during periods of inaction, Britta for her whole hearted way of appreciations, Bikram for his witty remarks, Rekha for being a model blogger, Meera for her kind concerns, Rachna and Jzt4Me for pointing out even the minor factors, Ankita for being very friendly, Jyothi and Joe for their occasional but continuing visits, Joms for his sincerity, Poornima and Sayuj for becoming my characters, Irfan, Harish, and Petty Witter for  their support and encouragement, and so on. Being very close to my heart in my real life, X-N-Tric and Sony remained very loyal to my writings. Thank you guys, I am proud to have you both in my posts as characters. I also thank Stephen, for motivating me to come up with better posts even though he is very new to my network. 

I know there are a lot more bloggers and readers who deserve unfathomable gratitude from me. You have the freedom to slap on my face, knock on my head, and hit on my back, if you did not find your name among this list. I have many silent readers as well who read my posts and say frankly what they feel in personal. But I think, to mention them all, I need to keep a separate post. 

Thanking you all once again.  Seeking your support further. 

Sep 2, 2012

Strangers on a Train

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 31; the thirty-first edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is 'Strangers in the Night'
The title is directly lifted from the 1951 Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name. But that does not matter. This post is not going to be another review of one of the finest films of the master craftsman. ‘Strangers on a Train’ features the same elements of a usual Hitchcockian flick, viz, wrong accusation, macabre, and similar things. The film does not give any significance to trains as a whole, apart from its all-catchy presence in the name, and its visual presence in the opening scenes in order to create a platform for the two antagonists to meet. But, my post has train and train journey as the main theme.  

It was a Christmas season, the Yuletide was about to begin, the climate was chilly, and frozen drops of water perching on leave tops in the morning was becoming a common sight. I was in Trivandrum, so I began to pack up my things little by little to go home for a weeklong emotional hibernation. But my plans suddenly changed when my sister rang up and asked me to stay with her family for Christmas. That could be another good idea, I thought, because she had her children, my little nieces, with them the Christmas wouldn’t have made another usual stagnation phase for me. 

I booked my train tickets, to and fro. To reach her home, I had to travel the entire Kerala, since if Trivandrum is the southernmost district, her family was settled at the northernmost one. One night long sleep on train would take me to her home, and the return trip also would take another night long journey. I booked my tickets so that I would reach there on the morning of the day prior to Christmas, and after departing from her home on the noon of the day following Christmas, I could have reached my workplace in the early morning hours of the next day. 

On the day of the journey, with my travel bag, I reached the railway station on an auto rickshaw. Just like in every time, I had to argue with the rickshaw driver, that is another story. On the train, I did not find any difficulty in spotting my berth, and since the twilight had already been evanescing away, I thought about sleeping. I put alarm on my cell phone for 6:30 in the morning. My berth was the lowest one, closest to the door. I was sure that I was not going to sleep tight, since I had this problem of sleeplessness if bedded on a different place. 

The train was moving fast, tearing away the dark, blowing its horn majestically, along with its symmetric, harmonious jerks. Though the noise irritated my ears, with its frequent contact with the ear drum, it began to feel like lullabies. 

At a station, a family including men, women, and kids boarded on my compartment. I was actually on a nap, when I was woken up by their talks. The kids asked something disappointingly and disputatiously to their father, and he tried to answer them though not in a pleasing manner. He was in an attempt to find their berths by using the light from a small torch. One of the berths booked by them was mine, and my nearest berths also were booked by them. They asked me for my ticket, when I produced mine, they were silent. They decided to wait till the examiner comes. I was feeling sleepy, but the family members were talking each other anxiously, which disturbed my peace. 

When the examiner showed up in his batman’s coat, they complained at him. The examiner checked their tickets thoroughly, and told them that they had booked their berths for the day before. They all were got astounded. What could have happened? I thought. The train reaches on the station where they boarded at around 12 O’clock in night. For Railways the time will be 00:00, so starts the next day. Without knowing this, they might have booked tickets for the day before, and the person at the ticket counter might have issued tickets for the wrong day without fully understanding their requirement. 

The Examiner was trying to convince them what could have gone wrong. Now what? The examiner asked them to pay charge from the train’s starting point to end point (I am not sure) as penalty, and also he checked his list to know which berths would become vacant next. But to get some berths freed, they needed to have waited for some more hours. 

I was watching the entire actions through my half opened eyes. The whole compartment was dark except the corridor which was lit partially where the entire family found their resort in the night. Seeing my eyes watching them, one woman shed her inhibition, and sat on my berth close to my feet. She asked me about my destination, though passively; and when I replied the name of the place where I needed to go, she exhaled deeply, possibly thinking about the distance they needed to travel to get at least one seat vacant. She asked to me very politely out of humiliation that whether she could have sat on my berth. I replied affirmatively, but I guessed that sympathy might have been more hurting. 

I noticed that they stopped talking each other, and was resting by leaning on the tin walls of the corridor. While lying thinking about the family head’s helpless state on launching his family in such a situation, I saw the images of them gradually submerging in thin air, on the backdrop of the pale light coming from the corridor.

The next morning I was woken up by the alarm from my cell phone. The compartment was not packed then like the night before. The strangers in the night were nowhere near to be seen. I got ready, and after an hour I was welcomed by my sister’s father-in-law at the station. 

After spending Christmas with them, I boarded the noon train the next day of Christmas. At the station, I happened to meet the same family whom I met on the night train; yes the strangers in the night. Though they couldn’t identify me, (since I was lying in the dark, when I saw them on the train) I introduced myself at them. They were happy to see me, and narrated what happened then. But when the train trumpeted about its imminent departure by blowing the sharp horn, stopping the conversation, I joined the pace of the moving train.
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: The Solitary Writer, Participation Count: 01

Sep 1, 2012

Soaked in Many Ways



(This is my unofficial 100th post. Officially 98th, since two of my posts are kept hidden)

‘What do you think of when you hear the words Soak No More?’

Well, when I read the question for the first time, I was totally clueless without any genuine thought occurring in my mind. Later, reading it one more time, something very curious popped up in my mind and now I am laughing at it over and over again, on a silly joke emerged out because of a phrase in my native tongue, which meant almost the term ‘Soak No More’.

You ask me what it was. But, don’t curse me if this joke was not as much enjoyable to you as I felt it. The fun of jokes differs from cultures to cultures and from languages to languages. Well, I am not going to make your curiosity level raise to more heights over a reasonless joke. It was related to a teacher who was very friendly with her students. When she seemed as if she was not going to be towed down to some of the demands put forward by her students, something related to a pleasure trip or so, the students began to flatter her with sweetened words, and she retorted calmly, 

‘‘Darlings, which soap are you trying now to soak me in? I know your plays! Don’t soak more! ’’

I don’t know how many of you have completely grasped the fun element. In Malayalam language, to apply soap means in an informal sense, to flatter for some purpose. So finding her students doing the same, she trapped them all with that tit-for-tat kind of verbal retort.

Now what comes next to my mind when reading the phrase one more time carefully is my own life as a bachelor. As a bachelor who lives by his own in a city, I have to do entire household activities including washing my clothes. 

I don’t afford the pain of washing my clothes every day. Instead, just like any other lazy bachelor, I too keep them on a corner as a heap, so that by the end of week a mountain of dresses would be formed there. The heap of dresses waiting to be drenched is a sufficient reason for my calm on weekends to get spoiled. If by chance, I miss my washing activity on a given weekend, the next Sunday what waits for me in the corner of my room is a much bigger mountain. In such situations, Surf products often act as the only refuge. Nowadays I used to resort to the service of the laundry people who function close to my door step. But one of the disadvantages of their service is that they take much time to return the dresses. They often cite the reason of cloudy atmosphere, rain, and lack of employees for my dresses getting delayed after cleansing.

The laundry man has recently appointed a new chap there. He is a jovial character, and the sad part is that most often his joviality is enjoyable for him only. His way of talking, treating customers, and doing services have invited a lot of criticism from their potential clients. I have seen him many times involved in heated arguments with his busy customers, by pointing out the same reasons for not returning the clothes within the agreed time. Once, I also lose my temper at him over failing to do his service in a proper manner while returning my clothes. I remember my voice was so loud at that time, and even the neighboring shop owners popped out their heads through the windows to know from where the harsh voice was coming. Last weekend, when I went to him to give my clothes, he was on phone talking to someone. Like me, there were some more customers waiting for him to finish his telephone conversation, but he gave only the least notice to us. From the way he talked over the phone, I guessed that it might have been his girlfriend; whom he had been trying to soak in his love coated sweet words. 

I was a frequent cigarette smoker till some three years back. My long term readers know how much pain I suffered to quit the habit. At that time, the rain and cigarette smokes together could create an ecstatic experience. Whenever there poured rain, I put on my over coat, and accelerated my bike by completely soaking wet in rain towards a wayside shop where cigarettes were sold. I wonder now, how immature I was at that time to feel it as a heavenly experience to be covered in smoke while it was raining. Frankly, now I don’t find it as an interesting experience to be soaked in smoke like that. Smoke No More!

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