Letter Writing Update #2 : Typewritten Letters!

Well, my grandfather’s typewriter is here, and I’ve started sending out typewritten letters, too.

If you’d like to receive a letter, or think I should send one to a friend or family member, click here. 🙂

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Snowfall at the Top of Europe!

Have you seen snowfall? Do you remember the first time you felt snowflakes on your head and shoulders? Do you remember how the landscape, earlier coloured in shades of green and brown, seems to have worn a white blanket – one that thickens gradually?

Well, my first time was today!

We were on our way to Jungfrau, Switzerland today, and after a ninety minute bus ride from Engelberg, we hopped onto a train to visit the peak. The cogwheel train chugged along moving at a sharp angle, and the ride was perfect – there was just a clear glass window between us and the gorgeous view outside! And that, that’s when I saw it for the first time. I saw snowfall for the first time! I remember how excited I was when I realized that it wasn’t rain, it wasn’t even hail, it was snow falling from the skies! It was like God was grating cheese over a slice of bread, slowly covering the visible patches, till you could see no more, and not stopping, grating some more, just because he can.

Say hello to a picture from Kleine Scheidegg, where we had to change trains to get to Jungfraujoch, my first picture in the snowfall!

On the way up, we went though a few tunnels, and I couldn’t help but wonder how they managed to tunnel though the mountain and how much determination it would have taken, to keep going over 14 years (1898 – 1912)!

Fourteen years.

“On 21 February 1912, the miners use more dynamite than is permitted and blast through to daylight. The shout of ‘Though!’ echoes along the tunnel and the workers fall into each other’s arms. The masterpiece has finally been achieved!”

Moving on, one of our favourite places atop Jungfraujoch was the Sphinx observatory! It was still snowing when we got there, I wore an armour, 2 thermals, a sweater, coat and woolen muffler later, I plucked up the courage to go out on the -12°C temperature (yes, well below frozen!) I’m one of those people who feels really really cold, even in temperatures higher than those, but my armour? It made sure I could bear the cold for a full 74 seconds. I finally, finally understand what they mean when they say windchill effect, now.

Achievement unlocked.

And then, we decided to go out there again, because occasions like these deserve pictures, just to make sure the memory doesn’t get as blurry as this picture of my sister that I took!


At 3,454 metres, not only does Jungfraujoch have the highest railway station in Europe, but it also has the highest post office in the continent! And yes, we sent out postcards from there, they’re to reach home with a stamp that says “Top of Europe”.

Taking letter writing to a whole new level, quite literally!

Oh yes! We treated ourselves to a scrumptious lunch at The Restaurant Bollywood, Jungfraujoch, after which we headed back down, fatigued from the constant heavy breathing to get accustomed to the altitude, but happy that we went up there and experienced all of that awesomeness.

On the ride down, I remember noticing the streams still gushing past, despite the cold and the stillness of the snow. Nature and it’s wonders.

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Hello, gorge-ous!

It’s been a crazy brilliant ten days. I don’t remember the last time I felt this care free, relaxed and, honestly heartily happy. We’ve been planning this trip to Europe for a really long time now, and now it’s happening, right here right now.

But this post? This post is about today. It was our first day in Switzerland, and after a boat ride on Lake Thun and a visit to Interlaken, we went onward to Aare Gorge. Aare is the longest river that runs entirely within Switzerland. We approached the gorge from Interlaken, it’s a half an hour drive, and saw glimpses of the river throughout.

Now, the Aare gorge was formed by the Aare river cutting into the hard limestone which changed the geography of the area over the past centuries.

You know, metaphorically, it’s a perfect example of how of you keep going, little by little, carving your way out one step at a time, you can make your own mark and change the landscape altogether.

Yes, I’d seen pictures before. But the experience? Wow. There’s nothing like that I’ve felt before. Imagine walking on a winding, windy path that takes you past gushing water and shooting through openings. Picture the sunlight seeping in though the cavities in the gorge, colouring the river in innumerable shades of blue and green. Couple that with the pitter-patter of droplets falling on your head and shoulders as you walk into a tunnel. Listen closely to the sound water makes as it hurries past you, and the sound it makes as it drops down from a height, and that of the wind playing with your hair, now put those sounds together and play the symphony.

This place made me so cheerful today! One of my favourite experiences, for sure. I came out of the gorge grinning, hoping I could stay longer, wondering if I’ll ever be back. More tidbits from this trip once I’m back!

I’ve never before written on the go, like this, but it’s just one of those memories I couldn’t wait to share with everybody. After all, happiness only real when shared.

So if you’re still reading this and haven’t opened another tab to check out Aare Gorge, here we go.


Open Letter to Somebody Who Just Received ICSE/ISC Results

Dear you,

Phew! I bet it’s been a long day. I bet you’re tired by the time you read this. Tired because of the anxiety that bothered you before the result was declared, tried because you probably attended a zillion phone calls from distant relatives, tired because neighbor aunty needs to know how much you scored in each one and compare your grades to somebody else’s, tired because you probably didn’t sleep much last night- a few of you probably even pulled out your question papers and tried calculating the result.

Well. All that’s over now.

The cat is out of the bag.

Breathe.

A lot of people are going to tell you about how these grades are the most important in shaping your career and your future- don’t let them fool you. After all, how can just one thing define your entire future?

A lot more are going to tell you about how these don’t matter at all. About how nobody really cares about these marks- don’t let them fool you either. Every little step matters. Every play you were part of, every obstacle race you ran in, every examination, every march past, every time you tried something, but failed, and every time you tried something and succeeded. Every little bit matters. Every little bit defines you. Don’t let this one thing overshadow all that!

Whether you’re somebody who estimated your result exactly correctly, or somebody who didn’t bother estimating at all, whether you’re somebody who can’t believe they scored so low, or somebody who scored a lot higher than they expected – there’s just one thing that’ll define you. What you make of this result. How you decide to take it in your stride. How you resolve to leave no stone unturned to succeed in your future endeavours. How you make sure you give your all to whatever you pursue.

That’s what will define you.

Yours sincerely,

Somebody who’s been there.

Sacred Heart Convent School

It’s always nice to revisit places that remain the same, even after all this time has passed.

With Kanika Mathur.

Why do I create?

This post is part of the Discover Challenge. The topic is Raison d’être, meaning “the reason or justification for existence.”

So, I asked myself, why do I create?

To feel more like myself.

There is the humdrum of life, and then t      here is writing. Writing helps me take a break from the monotony and just, be. Be the thought I am, be the opinions I am, be the worries I am, be the curiosity I am, and most importantly, be the awesomeness I am. It helps me understand myself better by giving me time to put my thoughts under the scanner, and actually let myself feel everything that I’m experiencing.

There are times when I need to let a part of myself go, or I want to share a little bit of myself with somebody else. To let them in. To let them know that I’m letting them in. That. That’s when I write letters to them. I like writing to people because it means so much more to me than just a text message.

Often, it acts as my time-turner and lets me go back to a place and time and revisit a memory as I pen it down. Often, when I read things I wrote in the past, it surprises me, I can’t believe I wrote that, or that I even thought of that. And sometimes, it acts as my mirror, reflecting what I’m feeling when I read the words I’ve written.

Writing is my rawest, truest form of expression.

Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Characters I’d Like To Revisit

Top Ten Tuesday is created by the guys at The Broke and The Bookish

Today’s topic is: Ten Childhood Characters You’d Love To Revisit As Adults (i.e. a novella or something to see what they grew up to be) — you could always just pick YA characters you’ve read recently you wouldn’t mind revisiting in 10 years or so. Or you could pick 10 characters and guess what you think they’d be doing in 10 years or 20 years. OR you could go the other way and wish for coming of age stories for adult characters you love. 

Beware of spoilers!

This is my first ever Top Ten Tuesdays post, and yes, I’m a little late, but read on! 🙂

  1. Percy Jackson: Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan

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I remember being fascinated with demigods and wanting to delve into the intricacies of Greek mythology after reading the first book of this series. As far as the character, Percy is concerned, I’d like to know if he ever resented having the powers he did, if he ever wanted to be just like any of us non-demigods.

  1. Charlie: Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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Charlie from Perks of Being a Wallflower always had a lot of ideas. But, did he ever find in himself the confidence to turn his ideas into reality? And, did the abuse he had faced in his formative years continue to haunt him years after?

  1. Mr. Goon: Five Find-Outers and Dog by Enid Blyton

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The Five Find-Outers and Dog are Fatty, Larry, Daisy, Pip, Bets and Fatty’s Scottie dog, Buster. And, then there’s Mr. Goon, the policeman who always lost to the children as far as solving mysteries was concerned. Did he ever try working with them on a case? Or did he ever start giving up?

 

7. O’Sullivan Twins: St. Clare’s series by Enid Blyton

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Midnight feasts at St. Clare’s. I recall reading about those here, first. Did the twins remain as playful and fun as they were at boarding school?

  1. Draco Malfoy: Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

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Yes, Draco’s been featured in the epilogue of the last book, but I’d like to know more about how he dealt with life after Hogwarts and the person he’s become now.

5. Charlie: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

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Oh, I want to know what new flavours, shapes, sizes and tastes he introduced at the chocolate factory. Which new machines did he set up? Did he ever let humans into the factory, or was it always just the Oompa-Loompas? And, how his humble and virtuous character grow as he takes on new responsibilities?

  1. Neville Longbottom: Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

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He’s one of the most underrated characters in the Harry Potter series. We’ve seen his character form and grown by leaps and bounds in the books, but the core of his being remained constant.

3. Jonathan Livingston Seagull: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

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I want to know the seagull’s experiences while he flew to other flocks to help them fly better, the resistance he received everywhere and how he convinced the seagulls, every time that there were ways to fly faster.

2. Rusty: The Night Train at Deoli by Ruskin Bond

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Have you read the short story Night Train at Deoli by Ruskin Bond? I want to know if he ever went back to find her. Did he ever get off at that station when the train stopped there? Did he ask more people about her? Or did he just let her remain a memory?

1. Matilda: Matilda by Roald Dahl

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I fell in love with this smart, bubbly and exuberant character who also had telekinetic powers. Throughout the book, she learns how to control and use these powers to her best interest. But, how does life turn out to be with Miss Honey? Does she ever regret leaving her parents? And, more importantly, how does she further enhance and use her telekinetic powers?


After all these years, which characters would you like to revisit?


Movie Mania: 4 Relatable Old Hindi Movies

Yes, I know the new Game of Thrones episode was released today *OMG YAAY*, and you’ve probably kept yourself up-to-date with all the new TV shows and movies. But now, are you looking for something to watch (while you wait on the next episode to roll in)?

I’ve been exploring old Hindi movies for a month or so now, and some of them are really relatable and relevant, even after all these years. I’d like to strongly recommend a few.

But why should you watch these? Yes, a slow moving storyline, unrealistic fighting scenes, no vfx and average video quality might be reasons enough to steer clear off old movies, but I’d like you to try looking beyond that, to imbibe the essence of the movie, to try and align yourself to the time these were made in.

The “What I liked most” section might contain some spoilers, I’ve tried my best not to give away much, so you could skip that if you intend to watch the movie. If you prefer not knowing anything about the movie before watching it, I suggest you  skip the description, also and just take my word for it.

Abhimaan (1973)

Abhimaan2This Amitabh Bachchan-Jaya Bhadhuri (Bachchan) starrer follows the life of a well-acclaimed, popular singer who romances and marries a girl from the village who is the daughter of a sage and is a trained classical singer. After their marriage, they move to Bombay, he encourages his wife to sing with him in movies. They share a lovely bond, but what happens when she outshines him? What happens when she stars getting more offers than he does? What happens when his pride comes in the way?

The songs. The songs are the best.

What I liked most:
The gradually changing behaviour of the protagonist towards his wife. The emotional conflict he endures as he tries to be supportive towards her endavours, but still experiences pangs of jealousy. The acting is superb. So much is unsaid in dialogues but said through body language.


Kanoon (1960)

Kanoon2Are you ready for a black and white movie? Brace yourself, this is a really good one. A judge commits a murder for which a thief gets charged, the witness to the murder is the public prosecutor, a man in love with the judge’s daughter, soon to marry. So, does the public prosecutor try saving his relationship by letting the judge get away with murder? Or does he decide to do right by the law? A few scenes here and there might remind you of Hitchcock films. This intense courtroom drama also raises some interesting questions about capital punishment.

What I liked most:
Honestly, the storyline. Loved the suspense and the twists here and there. I have to mention the opening scene, where Kalidas, who is accused of murder asks if the judicial system can punish the same man for the same crime twice over. This scene actually got me interested in the movie.


Anand (1971)
Anand22A jovial seemingly happy-go-lucky terminally ill man, Anand (Rajesh Khanna) visits his friend during his last few months. Even though he knows he isn’t going to survive for more than a few months, he refuses to let his illness get the better of him and spends his last days filling everybody’s life with happiness.

What I liked most:
The part where Bhaskar (Amitabh Bachchan)’s wife discovers the tape recordings of conversations between Anand and the girl he loved. The point where we realize that people are not really as happy as they seem, the man who is making everybody else smile has grief gnawing his insides, and that his interpretation of love wasn’t of the selfish form. That scene really struck a chord.

And, no review is complete without this quote from the movie, “Babumoshai, zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahi!”


Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971)

Hare Rama Hare Krishna2I wasn’t sure if I’d add this movie to this list, but when I tried to align myself to the time this movie was made in, I realized that it was really forward its time. It starts with a family of 4, in Montreal which goes through a turbulent patch, resulting in the parents getting a divorce and the boy starts living with his mother, while the girl lives with the father who marries another woman. We’re then whizzed off a few years ahead, where the boy (now, the super-handsome Dev Anand) receives a message from his father and sets out to locate his long lost sister (played by Zeenat Aman). He finds her, with a changed name and no memory of her childhood. This movie is set amidst the rise of the Hare Krishna movement, shows her in the company of her hippie friends, under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Will he be able to remind her of her childhood? Will he be able to bring her back?

We all know the songs, Hare Rama Hare Krishna and Dum Maaro Dum, don’t we? See where they comes from!

What I liked most:
The end. That was a completely unexpected end. I thought we were going for a run of the mill everything’s alright ending, a and-they-lived-happily-ever-after one. But this one, left me surprised.