Sugar’s the Target


Target, the retail chain, announced that it’d remove signage that has long communicated separate aisles for boys and girls. Boys’ aisle had toys and action figures, whereas girls’ had dolls and costumes, mostly.

After the announcement, reactions came pouring in and were divided among the shoppers. A lot of them complained that the removal of signage was nothing but stupidity, that boys and girls would always be boys and girls. I too felt that signage was necessary, as it carried forward a long-held tradition, also saving shoppers their time. But, when a lot of shoppers welcomed the announcement and I understood why they supported it, I scrapped my deep-seated rationale, appreciating Target’s move wholeheartedly.

The belief that boys can’t wear pink or girls can’t play with action figures is a fundamental mistake. If a boy wants to play with a barbie doll, or a girl wants to imitate a superman figure, let them; and let’s not decide what they must have or which aisle they should avoid. When we make these decisions, we’re apparently limiting their evolving worldview. What let-them-be will do is that when they grow up, they may be far more schooled about gender diversity and complexity.

If girls loved the action figures, their inclination to take up a sport or join the military in the future may be natural. Similarly, boys’ fascination for dolls may, in later years, put them at ease when caring for a baby as fathers. Being natural is always more effective, and satisfying.


Sugared drink manufacturers will go to any length to make sure consumers continue to sip Coke, Pepsi and other drinks. They were covertly funding some scientists to come up with findings that a good exercise could offset a bad diet.

There hasn’t undoubtedly been a single evidence to prove that if we exercise every day, we can eat anything. When food enters our system, it causes metabolic and hormonal changes, and exercise can only do so much. Science says that the more sugar we consume, the more pressure we put on the insulin to process it; and insulin will gradually lose its power, making way for diabetes and other diseases.

Isn’t this shocker enough that a can of sugared drink has 15-18 teaspoons of sugar?

I see people drink their tea or coffee without sugar, leading by example of how much they value their health, only to drink a can (or glass), if not two, of sugared soda. How’s that!

Acceptance, Publication.


It’s a bit unthinkable that I’ve been away from blogging for almost four months. Four months! It’s a long time and yet it doesn’t seem long at all, as though a truck whooshed past in slow mo.

I sent a couple of stories out during these months. An online journal accepted one, thrilling me.  They publish a new piece, once a week, every Monday. I waited to see my fiction on their website so I could write a blog post here linking it to the piece. I waited.

Eight weeks passed, and Mondays continued to be menacing. I considered writing to the Editor to ask the date of publication, but decided against it, as it might be perceived as impolite. But when the story didn’t appear last Monday, I wrote to them, and got a response within an hour that my piece would be published on May 23, 2016. What?

I rubbed my eyes, scratched my head, then comforted myself thinking the month of May this year was still away. No! We’re already in August, and the year mentioned in the response was 2016. Huh.

There was another note in the Editor’s reply that though my story would certainly appear on their website, it might also be in print, if chosen for their yearly anthology.

My instinct said that I shoot them a mail, seeking clarification on the bewildering year-long gap between the dates of acceptance and publication. But I stopped, and surfed their website thoroughly: the contributors, whose posts have appeared, are published writers with some having been published in ten other journals; the journal with categories like Fiction, Non Fiction, Academic, Poetry, and Multimedia, chooses one story from among these categories per week; the last short story, under Fiction, was published six weeks ago.

If I calculate, 4 pieces per month multiplied by 12 is 48. Since their reading periods, when one can send the stories, are three months in the beginning and three months in the middle of a calendar year, they perhaps accepted around 45 stories for publication before they accepted mine; they claim that they receive hundreds of submissions every year.

Which means May 23, 2016 is rewarding, nevertheless. A truck whooshing past in slow mo is comforting.


Glass guts gravity

My legs shivered, feet appeared to slip; I feared the glass would break.

But something written on the wall to my left in big, bold letters The glass floor can withstand the weight of 14 large hippos redbull-ed my legs. But tragedies happen – went the thought in my head – that a dozen-plus hippos might not be heavy after all. My palms were moist.


It was sunny that morning, but Toronto trembled in the treacherous December chill outside. The observation deck of CN Tower, with this straight down view, could terrify even those (at least for a few seconds) without acrophobia, as they stand afloat 1,122 ft over the ground.


Still standing, I braved the baby steps, while children laughed as they jumped and ran on the glass ground. I stepped to a side, squatted, and placed a hand on the glass, facing the camera. The sweat on my palm vanished, leaving cold trails on the glass.


Don’t you worry, you are safe: 256 square feet of solid glass – five times stronger than the standard required weight – should be the (f)actual thought in your head.



She’s quiet, but there’s a flow
of unvoiced thoughts, her glow
has warmth of color, they blend in,
like the bows after the rain.

She smells pure
like the dews of the morning grass
her presence, her lure
seen a gerber in a vase?

She smacks his forehead
might hurt — glad it’s a sign
that she trusts his word
as they toast Mumm Cordon.


But: like a gazelle, she’s ahead,
in a jungle, as the lion pursues
she finds a cave, is almost dead,
she sees that he sees her virtues.

In a world where happiness is rare,
where pretense is the new care
she loves as he lays bare
his truths, nothing more to share.

Refreshing is the breath of the spring,
when awash in the warmth of the sun,
their shadows are proportional, they grin,
their creating memories, moments of fun.

Now she ain’t quiet
her words sound right
she sees that he sees her,
gives him permission, her.

The Numbing Silence


Heavy alloys set on descent,
no bumps, nor dent, yet
And without the knowledge,
nobody sat on the edge
Only a few minutes before,
did he try to smash the door
Only a few seconds ago,
made their cries echo
Then the silence—
—the crashing silence.

What’s in the mind of someone who wants to commit suicide?

End life, plain and simple.

But the decision to kill oneself doesn’t come overnight. It may take days or months or years before the fear of pain that results from death is gone — before one is like a log of wood, numbed to the senses. These determined ones may have overcome their pain thresholds by sheer mental prowess. They may have stopped thinking about pain, and have lived a belief that the lifeless aftermath is a beautiful escape.

We have long heard two types of suicide:

1) Those who commit it in the privacy of their room – by hanging, poisoning, etc. – where they may or may not blame others for their voluntary action.

2) Those who commit it in their obsession with an ideology: the suicide bombers brave death’s brutal assault, taking a number of people along with them.

The Germanwings plane crash tells us about a different kind of suicide: one that is voluntary, leading to mass murder (of 149 other souls), and it hasn’t been terrorism.

The co-pilot wanted to destroy the aircraft. He manually changed the autopilot settings – and waited – for the descent. The captain who was locked out of the cockpit kept hitting the door. The co-pilot was relaxed, as the plane descended at 700 kph.

APTOPIX France Plane Crash

Though I understand he was mentally ill and there rests the case, I’ve been asking myself these questions:

1. Did he think that if he crashed the plane the way he did, the pain of death wouldn’t be as excruciating, and more people would share his experience?

2. Was he ready to die? His peers and others said he was a nice man. The airlines stated he was 100% fit to fly. He also lived with his parents, and ran marathons. But the documents recovered at his apartment included a doctor’s letter, which said he wasn’t fit to work. He loved French Alps.

3. Was that, after all, a painless death? Since the descent was perhaps smooth, no passenger probably thought they had only seconds of life left. It was instantaneous, a beautiful escape into the unknown?

B/W Photo Challenge Day 5 (The Bond of Brothers)

For the Day 5 of my B/W Photo Challenge, I wish to present the proof that I am a proud father, and a proud uncle.

My brother and I are two kids in our family. The elder in the pictures is his son and the younger, mine. Both were born – 5 years and 7 seas apart – on the same day (Indian Standard Time), April 20/21.  Why they are “the Bond of Brothers.”

20131103_144459 Casual

IMG_5001 Shush

20131103_144840  Deep

IMG_4382  Hold



B/W Photo Challenge Day 4 (The Empire State Building)

1915207_216692185624_3916343_nClouds may gather, dusk may approach, people may whisper — the Empire stays true to its name.

For the Day 4 of my B/W Photo Challenge, I show you the 360-degree views from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. I have previously posted pictures of the Empire State, but these ones are from atop the structure.

We seek moments of happiness in the sea of structures. We can be in or among the concrete, but can’t become one, can’t become numb.

IMG_3046The South view: Downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, Hudson River, New Jersey. The Freedom Tower stands tall.

IMG_3078The North view: Midtown, Uptown, Central Park (being an oasis).

IMG_3148The East view: East River, Queens, Brooklyn. 5th avenue, in particular, is a memorable walk in Manhattan.

IMG_3066The West view: Hudson River, New Jersey. It’s a beautiful river dividing Manhattan and New Jersey.

IMG_3051Panoramic view covering East River, Downtown Manhattan, Hudson River, New Jersey, and a slice of the observation deck itself.

I link Sabiscuit for this challenge. Sabiscuit is an impressive blog.

B/W Photo Challenge Day 3 (The Yacht Man)

For the Day 3 of my B/W Photo Challenge, I present to you the Yacht man. I took these pictures in the evening, from the living room of our apartment.

He’s up on the mast, probably repairing the halyard. But when I was clicking him, I wondered as to what he had for lunch, if he’d fought with his family that morning, and strangely, if he would add coke or soda to vodka.

DSCN1555I don’t think he’s checking his mobile here. But he may want to, considering the altitude might give him a good reception.

DSCN1564Here he’s clearly trying to pull a tool out of his repair bag, but first he’ll have to find it.

DSCN1553The work has begun, and he’s peering in the direction of Brooklyn.

DSCN1554Is someone calling him from below, or is he gauging the altitude? “Would I survive if I fall – and if I do – what would I be left with?”

DSCN1562He has a good view of downtown Manhattan. The Hudson River traffic will be at its peak, as dusk approaches.

DSCN1545That’s the full view of the yacht and the man. Quite a way up.

DSCN1559A wider view.

DSCN1561The widest view the camera could capture. Can you spot the yacht man?

DSCN1565This is the most zoomed-out click. The camera had it enough, and he looks tired, too.

It turned out, by the end of it all, that I had forgotten to eat lunch, had fought with family in the morning, and I would add coke or soda to vodka when I drink (socially).

I link Blewbird for this challenge. This blog has several breathtaking pictures. Please visit.

B/W Photo Challenge Day 2 (Love/Hate Snow 2)

For the Day 2 of my B/W Photo Challenge, I wish to continue to assault you with more snow. But I promise I’ll kindle you with warm subjects from Day 3 onwards.

IMG_0359Have you ever tried sitting on them? If they are only flurries the first five seconds would feel cushy – thereafter – sit at your own risk.

11053084_10153219093570625_6815545349298158174_nWorkers shoveling snow was a good sight, because the sun shone bright, made their shadows bigger and them warm.

IMG_0329Most of us may frown at this when we don’t have to answer nature’s call. But when we do, it may be the best thing in the world. Still, there are those who want cleaner options in times of crisis.

11025163_10153219094380625_8579846165506570706_nWhat the wheels could do to the whites: they become muddy, slushy – and, lose what, the white.

IMG_0371All of us have a lone, long journey. We come and go alone. It is the only truth, and once we understand this truth, we’ll feel freer than we did before.

I link Maniparna for this challenge. Her posts are interesting, and her pictures mesmerizing.

B/W Photo Challenge Day 1 (Love/Hate Snow)

This is my B/W post for Day 1 of the 5 Day photo challenge. The wonderful Prior linked me for this challenge.

We all know what happened in Massachusetts when it topped 100 inches of snow in a record breaking winter. Contrary to what the weathermen had predicted, New York, New Jersey and some other states in the East Coast were spared the assault.

Though it’s been snowing in NY and NJ intermittently, last week, snow fell for two consecutive days, showing more purpose.

Five pics from those days:

DSCN1816This gull was perched comfortably on a snow-kissed railing. If you look into its eyes, there’s purpose without a purpose. Now that’s a bit of contradiction. Let me explain: (I felt) they live a purposeless life, but to be purposeless they have to be purposeful. They could be the spiritual guru of the birds fraternity. (My header is this bird without some of the crop).

DSCN1838If bicycle were a man, he would tell the snow to leave him alone, and attack a Mercedes instead. “Spare me,” the bicycle said.

DSCN1867These are not my footsteps, they could’ve been mine. But I followed them, as some followed mine.

DSCN1869A bed of crystals, upside down, will grace the gravity.

IMG_0379“Whose car is it?” “It’s mine.” “What will you do about it?” “What will you?” “Nothing.” “Nothing.”

I link the fascinating Kim Gosselin for this challenge, considering she is a lovely photographer, too.

Keeping it real, and raw!

Cease, Cows

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