5word5 theme 25 – Silver

The next theme for your writing exploits is “Silver” – no prizes for guessing the reason for this theme!!!

If you’re new to my blog and wondering what is 5word5 or just want to refresh the rules, I have a pretty detailed intro post that you can read and get up to speed here!

As always, send in your 5word5 stories by Friday morning (India time!) and I will publish it on my blog along with the next theme! Go ahead – Unleash your creativity!!

5word5 theme 24 – Alienate

There are many reasons why one may feel alienated – it may be because of not being able to ‘fit in’ to someone else’s definition of ‘normal’ or because of a genuine issue – physical (eg: bad odour……a problem that is more common than it’s spoken about by the way) or temperamental (eg: bad temper and mood swings).

Sometimes, there are politics at play – where people try to divide and rule or antagonise one person/group against another with the sole aim of creating discord. Sometimes, and most painfully, the most vulnerable in society – the sick, the poor or the old – are alienated and left to fend for themselves.

Sometimes, we may consciously alienate ourselves from others to get some space – avoid confrontation or constant nagging, maybe avoid all those parties and hanging out sessions to sit back with a mug of coffee and read a book!!

Parents sometimes feel alienated by their kids when they become teens and start showing signs of growing up! They have their secrets and their own lives and are not so dependent on the parents anymore.

When faced with a tough decision that involves choosing between the mind and the heart, it sometimes helps to alienate yourself from the situation so that you can look at it from a detached perspective. Always easier said than done!

A sociological perspective talks about alienation where workers in a capitalist market are so exploited that they don’t feel a sense of identity with the products of their labour – they are so at the bottom of the value chain that the benefits and success of the products they helped create dissipate before they reach this layer. In a modern parlance, a lot of people feel this sense of alienation – from their community, their religion not because they have been debarred or ousted out but because they don’t associate with a lot of the beliefs, customs or practices. To each, his (her) own!

Be that as it may, sometimes it’s important to alienate all the noise around to find the music within; alienate the humdrum of life to find your own rhythm! Alienate all the distractions to focus on the message that the universe is singularly sending out to you every day that you wake to see a new dawn – to alienate yourself from your past because “today is the beginning of the rest of your life”!!!

Slokabs

They were alienated and ostracised for no fault of theirs. While the Covid pandemic saw examples of great solidarity and benevolence, Naina’s family experienced the exact opposite when they tested Covid positive. Upon recovery, she started an NGO to provide essential supplies to Covid-affected families so that no one had to feel that way again!

Anusha Arvind

She didn’t like big building blocks
She wasn’t interested in stocks
Couldn’t be a part of any flock
People would mock

She was alienated
As she did not “fit in” the designated
Didn’t want to succumb to crushing pressures of society
Wanted to discover herself in totality

Who was She? The best she could Be!

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

Watch that new movie that is showing in the theatre.
Watch how there is an actor, an actress, and a villain.
Tell yourself how typical that is of movies these days.
Watch the same movie again.
This time ignore the characters and the story.
Alienate the music. Listen as you fall in love. Sing along.

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

“Who’s got the power?” They sang. They spoke of Johnny Bravo, the Flintstones, and Dexter’s laboratory.

On a lazy Saturday morning, as she watched a video of Telematch a German series, she hummed, “Bananas and Pajamas are coming down the stairs, Bananas and Pajamas…”

The shows which alienated her as a child didn’t matter anymore.

Snacky

Rishi and Lakshmi were chatting about Social Media where Rishi was bringing out some thought provoking facts – 50% negativity is circulated by fake ids. He wanted to alienate himself from these negative things and wanted to spread love. That’s the reason for him to begin a page where he can educate people about positivism.

Badmaash Dil

“You treat me like an alien”
His accusation didn’t hurt her. He wasn’t completely wrong but the real truth was that she was feeling alienated in this bubble called life.
She couldn’t feel anything but a sort of numbness engulfed her. She couldn’t hear anything yet silence was deafening. She couldn’t see anything but darkness.

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5word5 theme 23 – Pretend

For most of the world, it’s been about a year that we have started physically wearing masks, thanks in no tiny part to Covid (Some parts of the world have been wearing them since SARS-2003). But let’s not kid ourselves. We’ve worn masks of pretence all our lives.

Those who you see smiling around you – are they really happy? The ones that say ‘I’m fine’ when you ask them how they’re doing – are they really fine? When people do something for you, are they doing it out of love or fear or to just live up to some expectation and avoid confrontation?

Ever heard of the story of the wolf in sheep’s skin, one that has its origins in a Biblical idiom? There was once a wolf that saw a sheepskin spread on the ground. Wily as he was, he wore it and mixed up with a flock of sheep intending to feast on one of them soon. No one suspected him and as the shepherd led the flock to their pen at dusk, the wolf-in-sheepskin also followed suit. The shepherds gathered that night for a feast and since sheep was on the menu, a servant was sent to fetch one from the flock. The wolf-in-sheepskin met his sorry end because he chose not be himself.

A similar moral story from the animal kingdom, part of Aesop’s fables, is that of the donkey in lion’s skin – one about being pretentious. A donkey once found a lion’s skin and decided on a whim to put it on. As he walked merrily towards his village, everyone fled. He felt proud and delighted in this foolhardy game. But in his excitement, he opened his mouth and brayed, which instantly gave him away. His owner came and gave him a sound whipping for causing such a fright.

Before you wonder if you have accidentally stumbled on a children’s blog, let me shift gears from moral stories and get to the point – pretending to be someone else, whether better or worse than you as in the above two stories, never bodes well because eventually you have to face the reality of who you are. Long story short – You don’t have to pretend – you have to believe. And there’s a world of difference!

I did a pretty long post on “Being authentic” as part of my #30daysblogmarathon last year which you can read up here – it basically sums up everything I want to say on this topic! Also read this lovely article I chanced upon while looking for pics for this post – masks of pretence!

One of my fondest memories from childhood is draping myself in my mom’s saree (or better still, her dupatta) and pretending to be her. The lure of growing up was so strong then that I look back now and wonder exactly which part of grown-up life I was drawn to the most! I never have a sure answer – perhaps it’s the freedom to do what I want! But now, I find myself pretending to be a child when I play with my little one and its the happiest feeling ever, to feel that nothing matters but this present moment! And now, I’m just pretending that life is this simple!

But if you really think about it, that’s how life is – no matter what our present situation is, we always imagine ourselves in seemingly better ones (future or past, depending on what’s going on in our life!), pretending to be there and living those moments in our mind’s eye! And there’s no harm in that as long as it puts a smile on our face!

And here come the 5word5………

Slokabs

7-year old Shyla: Why are round pizzas served in square boxes?
Dad: Because it’s more convenient.
15-year old Shyla: Why do ads for sanitary napkins show blue stains?
Mom: Because its less taboo.
Unsurprisingly, Shyla is always trying to fit her round self into others’ square frames of reference, conforming to some invisible standard of propriety!

Dhiraj (blog)

Some people are honest. Some people are liars. Some people lie to make an impression that they are honest. And some people are probably honest liars. A little bit of punning there. But the biggest harm one could do to oneself is lying to yourself, by pretending to be someone else. Stop pretending. Be yourself.

Nimesh Balaji Shinde

They say; Fake it till you make it…
In the end we are all liars…
We’ve been taught to always win & compete at any cost; rather than just grow organically…
Twisting the truth & reality of this world has become our second nature…is it possible for us to lead our lives, without pretence?

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

Let’s pretend it’s 2010.
Let’s pretend we’re in Maldives.
Let’s pretend our phones are not an extension of our bodies.
Let’s walk on the sand and feel it tickle our feet.
Let’s look out for the tiny crabs.
Let’s build a sand castle.
Let’s wade into the pristine blue, green and turquoise ocean.
Let’s live.

Anusha Arvind

It was her resolution to give up coffee. She succeeded for a couple of days. The third day, she visited her friend and the aroma of filter coffee from the kitchen stimulated her nasal receptors. The saliva from her mouth almost dripped. She pretended as though she had great control but it was pretty evident!

Badmaash Dil

It’s really ok to cry …You don’t need to pretend and act normal!”

The void was never going to fill and she had to work out a way to live with it. Pretence wasn’t a viable solution and it surely would break her down. Her mind kept repeating those words and tears flooded her eyes.

Milan Singh Solanki (blog)

There was a duality,
Always a dynamism,
Fluctuating between the two realities;
She dared to switch from one
To the other;
She risked plummeting down a chasm,
Of judgements and abandonment;
Though it was dark,
She was enlightened from within;
Struck by a sense of liberation,
Living at her truest self,
She recoiled from pretence.

Julie P

“Many Congratulations! You handsome couple.” The bride blushed, the groom shook hands for the hundredth time. They were weary from the week-long celebrations but had complied to their parents’ wishes. They forced smiles for the cameras.
As they played the old video recording on their twentieth anniversary, it was time they stopped forcing their smiles.

Snacky

Yaara likes her job as a mental health counselor. She gets to interact with a variety of people which gives her different perspectives. Many times, she has to pretend to understand their situation and put herself in their shoes to give them proper advice while at the same time not letting their problems affect her.

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5word5 theme 22 – Strength

Bulging biceps, boundless brawn;
Nerves of steel, calm on the crown;
Of the body or of the mind;
Bearing burdens, without a frown.

Talent, intellect, resilience or charm,
Or something else, with which to disarm;
What’s your USP, the brand you ride on?
In the jungle of the world, how are you armed?

One to many, many to one;
You may be alone, or the weakest in a ton;
Go headlong, all or none;
The strength of the team may lie in the unlikeliest one!

And if you still need convincing,
sit back with your poison, whatever it may be;
And digest what I just said over a strong dose,
Dark brew, whisky on the rocks, or a cup of simmering hot tea!

Not comprehensive but these are some of the connotations of ‘Strength’ that I associate with the most! And while we are still on tea – one of the best quotes on strength I’ve seen is this one:

A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

Eleanor Roosevelt

The quote by ex-First Lady of the United States (made famous by her but its origins have actually been traced to an Irish proverb) refers to women because she used it as part of a campaign on women’s rights. But I don’t need to add that it applies equally to all humans.

Before we head over to today’s limited 5word5 on this topic, I just remembered I did a 5word5 on Strength in my New Year Greetings post here. Do go check it out if you haven’t already!

Slokabs

Despite being mocked for her choice, Maya knew she had to do this. She was the only woman in a 100-member team; the first-ever mixed team in the history of Kerala’s boat races! She knew it would be tough, but she would persevere. After all, the strength of a chain lies in its weakest link!

Dhiraj (blog)

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger says Kelly Clarkson. If you can’t take the heat get out said Andy Roberts with his bouncers – fast and slow. Resilience in the face of adversity is the true test of human character. This is where we really get our will to survive – our inner strength.

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

She took a moment to pause and reflect on her journey from the past three years. She had moved continents not knowing what her next step in life looked like. She left a good life to go back to an old one. She had taken it in her stride. She was strong. She was me.

Anusha Arvind

The cog wheel rigidity and tremors were something he was getting used to.The pills were making him drowsy and he was starting to develop a shuffling gait. They said it was Parkinson’s. Cognition was fading. His wife stood by him and gave him strength. She always stood as a pillar of support in every sense.

Snacky

Arjun received his offer letter in an IT firm as a “Business Analyst” after a lot of tussles in his life. Joining a Multi-national company was overwhelming happiness for him. Yara is one of the main reasons for this ecstasy. She is an outstanding persuader. Yara is nevertheless a pillar of strength in Arjun’s life.

My musings

Birds flying high on their delicate wings!!
Tender vines of climber plants bearing huge fruits!
Ants lugging food beyond their weight are all baffling!
Straightening time and again after being trampled upon! Are grass shoots teaching us to be resilient?
Do humans stretch only when push comes to shove? Or does their mentality limit them?

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P.S. None of the content on this blog to be reproduced or lifted without permission

5word5 theme 21 – Ecstatic

When was the last time you felt ecstatic – delirious with joy, an almost transcendental other-worldly feeling – when the dopamine and serotonin levels in your body were at giddying levels and the only thing that mattered was the present moment? For me, it was when I could eat spicy Indian-chinese food after a year-and-a-half! Well, that….and the reason I couldn’t eat it for 1-1/2 yrs before! (Read my 5word5 below if you haven’t figured it out!)

Ecstasy (the feeling; I can’t speak for the drug!) is a fleeting moment and can sometimes change you forever –
– It could be that feeling of your significant ‘firsts’ – the first bunking of college, the first kiss, the first love, first successful stage performance, the first time in an aeroplane/helicopter/ship, first time living alone, first adventure sport experience (hike, scuba, bungee, paragliding….whatever!) – the knowledge that the thing you once feared is now behind you!
– It could be the oneness you feel with God inside a small, empty village temple
– It could be the simultaneous feelings of wonder and triviality – wonder at how large and marvelous the world is and the corresponding triviality of our existence when viewed from the top of a mountain or from an airplane window (and then I see THIS quote! Providence? Maybe!)

Keeping it short and sweet this time and diving right into to the stories for the day 🙂 Hope they put a smile on your lips, a bounce in your step and a flutter in your hearts!!!

Slokabs

In that moment, she forgot all her worries. She forgot that she had milk boiling on the gas. She forgot about preparing for the presentation to her firm’s largest client. She forgot that she had fought with her husband last night. Those two pink lines on the little white strip were all that really mattered!

Anusha Arvind

A butterfly emerging out of its cocoon
The lovely full moon
The pink cherry blossoms
Pinching a baby’s bottoms

A little girl admiring her anklets
Hearing the crickets
The magnificent clouds
Natures’ fascinating sounds
A puppy wagging its tail around

Watching The rain
Riding The train
Are a Few fantasies
That I’d say is ecstasy

Milan Singh Solanki (blog)

Some chose the still,
Some chose the dance,
Some chose the ordinary,
others chose the romance

All are wondering
All are on a quest
Oh! we won’t settle
Never for the second best

All requesting it to come true
what has long been a fantasy
Started marching long back
Finally, about to arrive at Ecstasy

Julie P

“Oh boy! Curry and Naan!”
” You underestimate me woman, I could eat the whole plate. He tugged her blouse. He waited patiently.
“Don’t you ignore my dimpled cheeks now.”
“Ok, this is it. My favourite song!” Everyone stopped eating. Conversations paused. All eyes were on a tiny human wiggling his bum, trotting around the restaurant.

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

Divya knew her friend liked a treasure hunt,
Discovering secretly kept gifts was a hobby.
Gifting made her truly ecstatic,
Making her friend run around was worth every penny.
She knew her friend was a romantic at heart,
She planned a big surprise for her.
When it came to gifting,
Divya was a true connoisseur.

Badmaash Dil

He jumped at the chance of being alone with her on the wheel. He was ecstatic, determined to pour his heart to her when they soar to the heights. He smiled mischievously thinking she couldn’t run away today nor would her friends ruin their moment. But little did he know that she had different plans.

Badmaash Dil

She was ecstatic and had never experienced anything like this before. Suddenly, his hands gripped hers, his fingers entwining hers. Surprised, she turned to him. His eyes were already gazing her. His deep brown orbs locked hers then and there. She couldn’t look away. Only the jolt of the Giant-wheel brought them back to reality.

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5word5 theme 20 – Temper

Did you know that to temper a metal means to heat it and cool it down repeatedly to harden it and make it stronger? Perhaps that’s what temper does to a person as well – you boil and boil and when you cool down, your heart has become harder than it was before. But stronger, I’m not so sure!

Temper is one of those personality traits that can easily impact your relationships with people and therefore, it gets a lot of footage. It doesn’t matter how much someone may say “Bechaara, dil ka achcha hai magar!“, no one really likes to be around an angry soul! A person with a bad temper can let a seemingly harmless situation escalate beyond control and spoil the atmosphere for everyone around. On the contrary, a person who is able to keep his/her calm even in trying moments earns a lot of respect and is loved by all.

We all have our bad moments, bad days even. Everyone is allowed some leeway. But often, it’s not the temper itself but what one does in their angry moments that really makes a difference. If you’re one of those people who have the strength of character to walk away from the situation when in a bad fit, that’s more than good enough. But it’s not the good sense that we are always able to exercise.

The ballooning number of domestic abuse cases (not to mention the alarming increase during the lockdown) is not funny at all – there are people for whom not just verbal abuse but physical abuse has become a way of life that they have accepted mostly because they have nowhere to go. Instances of harassment at work, failed marriages (though temper is definitely not the only cause here), strife between parents and children, broken friendships are all examples of extreme outcomes but not really as rare as we’d like to believe. Because our closest relations are unfortunately, the ones we take for granted the maximum.

I admit to having a short fuse (very much so, at times!) and have many times in anger, said things I have regretted terribly later on. An apology doesn’t always heal the wounds, in fact it never does. When I introduced the 5word5 series, one of my foremost inhibitions to the name I had chosen was the relation between words and swords – words said in anger indeed cut deeper than swords. There’s no getting around this fact.

My temper, as a tod-mom, is tested to the limit every day. It’s all I can do to smile through gritted teeth and somehow hold myself back while my face turns all shades of red and purple in the effort – After all, I do believe in gentle parenting. I try my best! On some days I succeed; on others, not so much! On the days that I don’t, I am conscious to the emotional scars I am inflicting and that’s why, I try twice harder the next day. Over time, I have come a long way and online resources have helped a lot in teaching me the appropriate language and responses to deal with toddler behaviour.

In reading these, I have learnt that I am not alone. Many of us have trouble not just controlling our temper but even just acknowledging that we have a temper problem. And many times, this is not just a personality trait but a manifestation of some underlying anxiety or stress – someone may be going through a really tough time mentally and emotionally and may be channelling their frustrations elsewhere.

I would also go so far as saying that if you know someone you love or care about or work with who seems to be angry or wound up all the time, do not hesitate to reach out and let them know – maybe not in the heat of the situation but perhaps once things have cooled down a bit. Not everyone is comfortable talking about their temper. But you never know, they are probably feeling worse about it than you. And the reason they haven’t apologised may not always be their ego (though I am not denying that many times it is) – but that they don’t have the courage to apologise, because they are thinking they probably don’t deserve to be forgiven.

Why not be the bigger person and give them a piece of nicely tempered chocolate to sweeten them up a bit? Or a lovely homemade khichdi with some aromatic dal tadka (hindi for the very comforting cooking technique that’s common to the Indian subcontinent) to warm their tummies and their souls?

After a lot of faff about bad temper and not enough about tasty temper, let’s move on to reading what some of you wrote about on this rather uncomfortable theme!

Images courtesy Google. Collage courtesy Befunky.com

Slokabs

She loved cooking and would often try out fancy recipes, making her family helpless guinea pigs! But today, she was craving comfort food. The mustard spluttered noisily in the hot oil as she added curry leaves, peanuts, ginger and chillies to the wok to elevate her humble curd rice! This was bliss on a plate!

Slokabs

Her insides were burning as if someone had set them on fire. She carelessly rubbed her nose and ear lobes to douse the smoke she imagined was coming out of them. “Your uncontrollable temper is affecting team performance. We can’t afford to lose high performers because of you. Sorry! Get a therapist”, he had said.

Anusha Arvind

The brilliance of a teacher
She was not a bad character
Sometimes showed a little temper
To make sure the class was in order
She brought out the best in them
With her own charm and rhythm
The children learned to express
Without any fear or distress
Essence of teaching others
She had extra-ordinary calibre.

Anusha Arvind

Temper and hunger
Two things that come together
Why I wonder
Does that mean I eat to feel better?
Holding on to anger
Or before pouncing like a tiger
Try drinking a glass of water
It may make you feel lighter
Let the moment pass so it’s not bitter
It makes you a better character

Dhiraj (blog)

Temper is an unusual word. Most likely you would use it to say that he or she has a bad temper. Why, is there no scope for good temper, may I ask. But then to know what is good temper you need to understand the process of making shiny chocolate that melts in your mouth.

Snacky

Rishi hit Lakshmi’s motorcycle. Even though it was a minor scratch, Lakshmi lost her temper. She calmed down a bit, when Rishi revealed that he is an associate storywriter and environmental activist. Lakshmi happily introduced herself as a stage artist. As they wanted to know each other better, they went to Café that was nearby.

Badmaash Dil

Tonight wasn’t different
His temper always recurrent
Something usual occurred
Her whispers went unheard
His eyes pierced a hole
Hurting her entire soul
Not an ounce of love
Only rage glowered now
Where had she gone wrong?
Did she ever really belong?
Darkness engulfed her whimper
Again unleashing his temper

Was this her sealed fate?

Badmaash Dil

His temper knew no bounds. He had always felt that she understood him well but no, she never knew the real him. He was a fool to have misjudged her actions.
His ego soared up and screamed back at him to throw her out of his life while his heart ached with just that thought.

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5word5 theme 19 – Fuel

We all need our fuel – literally and metaphorically!

Fuel for our brain,
Fuel for our tummy;
Fuel in our cars, and
Fuel for our hearts!

It’s just the fuel type that differs!

I recently “read” the book Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia. (I put the word read in double quotes because this was the first time I tried an audio book format on Audible and it was a great feeling, being read to after all these years!).

One of the cornerstones of this book is finding the answer to the burning question “What is the reason for your existence?”, which is another way of asking what makes you wake up with a bounce in your step in the morning. We all need that little push, a little something that sparks off ripples of joy in our mind and heart – whether it is that morning coffee, a call from a loved one, an hour reading a good book, some energetic exercising…..whatever it may be, something that fuels us. A colleague from work did this pretty neat review of the book which summarises the key takeaways.

Images courtesy Google. Collage befunky.com

Also, check out this really heartwarming video “British Airways – Fuelled by love” which was part of their marketing campaign in 2016. A little far-fetched albeit, but fuzzy nevertheless!

And on that note, let’s move on to the 5word5 of the day!

Slokabs

First thing in the morning.
During that long work meeting.
After lunch.
After a particularly harrowing phone-call.
As soon as she got home from work.
And maybe one bonus cup – just for today!
They are tiny cups, she reminded herself. How bad can it be?!
She remained unapologetic, she had to!
Coffee kept her going!

Nimesh Balaji Shinde

“No, you are not made for this..” “You won’t survive for long..” “Why are you wasting your life..? “Most of the time, he was rejected and made fun of, for his choices… There was constant pain, sadness & anger within… But he used them to FUEL his dreams and proved everyone wrong with Self Belief…

Ashok Wahi (blog)

Fuel prices are rising everyday in India for more than a year. And it is like adding fuel to the fire of pandemic. Higher fuel prices increase transportation costs and add fuel to the already high inflation. If this does not add fuel to fire of your imagination what is the fuel for your thoughts?

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

I wake up each morning, conditioned to report to the sire.
Where has the motivation gone? There is no fire.

I try to inspire myself when I get stuck in this mire.
It’s an ongoing struggle. There is no fire.

Where in the world is my heart’s desire?
Where’s the fuel to start this fire?

Snacky

Jaanvi began book reading as a daily routine from her college days. She became an ardent fan of storywriter Vishnu. Moreover, his book “The Greatest Gift” was fuel to her brain. It speaks about how health, happiness & love are integral parts of our existence and how we need to share them with the world.

Anusha Arvind

It was a chilly evening. The two of them were stuck. Their car broke down as were out of fuel. They still wanted to make the most out of everything. Unpacked their tents, set up a campfire, munched on homemade sandwiches and cut fruits under the moonlight. They were glad they got themselves their fuel!

Dhiraj (blog)

And out of nothing was created something, something that could transport which was called the wheel. But that was not enough for the inquisitive human mind, because he / she wanted to start a fire. Though Billy did make the argument that we did not start the fire. The question really was – What was the Fuel ?

Badmaash Dil

The word “FUEL” obviously makes one think about petrol/diesel and their rising prices. But, I prefer to step away from the obvious onto a much wider meaning and that’s a fuel for our thoughts. It is a trigger, a fire that can either create or destroy depending upon who is being fuelled and by what.

Badmaash Dil

His insane thoughts perplexed him. Rebuking himself, he wondered what fuelled his long lost desires. Momentarily, he had lost his self-control. He had nothing else to blame but himself.
He couldn’t afford to scare her away. Just for her presence in his life, he decided to put off the burning desire he felt for her.

Anusha Arvind

Fuelled with love
A child grows up
To be a toddler
Learning to drink from his cup
A child becomes receptive
Acquiring perspectives
In The blink of an eye
A teenager with hormonal rush of ‘X’ and ‘Y’
An adult learning to explore
People, places and more..
Pumping up some fuel
Before things become slow!

Julie P

Welcome to fire safety drill!
Two stones can cause a spark.
Look out for inflammable material.
Gasoline, Electric circuits.
No cigarettes Monseuir!
Any deodorants Madam?
Well, we didn’t start the fire.
Billy clarified that it was always burning!
A caveat on using new fuel.
It causes an Inferno!
A Two hundred and eighty character limit.

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Next 5word5 theme coming up in an instant!

5word5 theme 18 – Detox

Detox, while usually associated with drugs and alcohol de-addiction as a step to remove the toxins in the body, in recent times has come to mean much more. Because toxins don’t enter the body just through drugs or alcohol. They could come from the polluted environment we inhabit and the various particulate matter and chemicals we are exposed to everyday. Detox diets are short to medium-term dietary interventions to cleanse the body.

Detox diets typically involve fasting, consuming fresh fruits and vegetables and abstaining from all kinds of processed and junk foods. Detox or infused water has become a trend over the last few years – usually cucumber, lemon/lime, orange/orange peel, tomato, watermelon, mint, celery or other mild flavours are used. There are lots of resources available online on detox diets that work but if they are being used in connection with rehab or de-addiction, it is usually advised that they are done under medical supervision.

To me, detox is about more than just the body. It’s got a lot more to do with the mind.

Sometime in Jan-2020 when I exceeded my own expectations by blogging continuously for 30 days as part of a self-imposed #30daysblogmarathon, I spoke about my ‘Onion theory of resistance’ or ‘Onion detox’ on this post. Over the past year, I’ve had a few different opportunities to apply this theory. In each case, it only made me more sure of its impact.

The onion detox is simple – whenever something becomes too much to handle (whether it’s a substance, a person, a habit or an experience), avoid “it” for a bit. Two things come out of this exercise – you realise that when you shut yourself to it, whatever was taking up too much of your headspace suddenly ceases to matter as much. And secondly, when you do have to face “it” again, it’s less toxic for you because you have now successfully experienced living without it.

Sometimes, we find life becoming really overwhelming. At such times, taking things slow, doing what you love and diverting your mind to things, people and activities that recharge you can do wonders. What is this, if not a detox?!

Animals and birds migrate to warmer places in countries that experience peak winters. This is the equivalent of humans going on vacations when they are faced with harsh circumstances – might be the weather, the job, the relationship or anything else. But when you go on a holiday, whether it’s to the hills or the beach (where you’re closer to nature) or even from one concrete jungle to another, you breathe a different air, you break away from a certain routine, eat some different food and have some different experiences . Whether it’s a trek, a yoga retreat or a swim (whether in a luxurious pool or in a natural lagoon or even a crowded beach), skydiving or scuba or even just a few days of completely unplanned activities which may include Netflix and chill, indulging a hobby or visiting an art gallery or trying out a degustation menu – your mind is on a break from the mundane! And that’s what recharges you so effectively.

Marie Kondo, or KonMari as she is popularly known, has changed the way we organise (or should organise!) our spaces – whether at home, work or while travelling. Her methods and tips largely boil down to de-cluttering. Get rid of what doesn’t bring you joy is her top mantra, contrary to the habit of hoarding that many people are guilty. Sometimes de-cluttering your surroundings can really de-clutter your mind!

And of course, how can we forget the digital and social media ecosystem that surrounds us nowadays. Sometimes, we see some of our friends, acquaintances or FB/Insta contacts go off the radar – sometime for temporary periods and sometimes seemingly permanently. Staying off social media or setting alarms to ensure you don’t end up checking your notifications (Whatsapp included) more than a fixed number of times a day is a way to consciously guard oneself from the easiest addiction of our times! Sometimes, a digital detox is not just desirable but quite necessary to start living in the moment.

A great book in this regard is “Detox Your Life: A Practical Guide to Detoxing Your Body, Mind, Home, and Relationships” by Rebecca Clio Gould. She keeps it brief, to the point and provides advice that is practical and relatable. Do check it out.

Stress is the most silent killer of our times and the root cause of so many lifestyle diseases. Detox whether in your diet or your lifestyle is sometimes essential to keep you going. As they say, “Sometimes you need to slow down, in order to speed up!” So every once in a while, hit that pause button on the excesses of your life and make a conscious effort to become physically and mentally healthier!

So here are the 5word5 on this theme 🙂

Slokabs

Of the varied impacts that Covid-19 had on our lives, one notable is that for many, at least for the first 3 months of lockdown, there was a forced ‘consumerism detox’. No shopping malls, no restaurants, no vacationing – a true taste in minimalist living. For many, this may just be a new way of life!

My musings

A rural stint for career growth she dreaded !!
Yet, gradually against her wishes, country life grew on her. The slow pace, simple healthy lifestyle, uncluttered her mind giving her divergent options to explore.
The holistic life approach cleansed her body, mind and soul!
Now, she would be challenged to maintain it back in the city!

Slokabs

Sheeja’s mind was overflowing with negativity, her sense of self-worth was plummeting and she was sure she needed a therapist. One day, whimsically, she got down to spring-cleaning her home. As she swept away the cobwebs on her walls and crevices, she was surprised – it simply felt like they were in her mind all along!

Anusha Arvind

Reading my favourite novel
Blowing a bubble
A Long chat with my bestie
Eating something hot and spicy

A few brush strokes
Laughing at some jokes
Solving a crossword puzzle
Watching the drizzle

Some fresh air in the park
Seeing a horror movie in the dark
Simple pleasures of life
That keeps the spirit alive

Julie P

“Oh! A Mother’s day present from my year old’s Dad!”, she answered, as she picked the massage catalogues. She had come so far after a stressful year. All the sores and pains. And scars. As she sipped her herbal tea, she made yet another resolve. To annihilate all her painful memories with her own mother.

Badmaash Dil

Pranayama was to clear his breathing. Gulping in green tea and honey was to detox his body.
In the quest for peace, he tried meditation but in vain. Every inch of his mind was bursting with toxic thoughts and he failed to realize that no detox mechanism can help him cleanse his heart & soul.

Badmaash Dil

She was slowly getting used to his routines. After a jog around the apartment complex and few stretches, lemon juice in warm water with a pinch of salt and honey was his detox potion. Salt and honey….unusual combo indeed just like him. She grinned thinking about her hero, rough and tough yet soft and sweet!

Milan singh Solanki (blog)

They sold me an idea
Asked me to “Detoxify”
While all I wanted was
Eat some fries and “Spotify”.

Whatever I may choose
no-one else gets to tell,
you can sell me the propaganda
but my choices, you can not sell.

Which “detox” we need more
The blood or soul?
We can not be sure

Aanchal

“2021 , The year I’ll turn my life around”, she thought. Time for the ultimate “Life Detox” cleanse.
Detox Diet – Check.
Digital Detox – Check.
Skin Detox – Check.
Even Detox Water! – Check…
Until her phone rang “Hey, what are you doing tonight? You Wanna come over?”
If only there was a way to detox your toxic ex.

Snacky

It’s a tough 3 days for Vishnu. His team is laying the extra-mile effort to complete a critical project. Vishnu sensed that this circumstance is toxic for him from which he needs a detox for sure. He talked to each project member and set optimistic strategies. The goal was accomplished in the next 2 days.

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I hope you are liking the intros on each theme that I am posting! There’s a poll on my FB Page – if you haven’t already, please do visit the page and post your response. The poll will be open till end of this week! After which, I will try to modify my intros suitably 🙂

Next theme up….in a jiffy!

5word5 theme 17 – Ink

For the longest time in my life, I only wrote using ink pens. The whole process of sitting my inkpot down, unscrewing the top of the pen, gently using the filler without spilling any ink (because the stains were quite a pain to get off!) and making a mess, then slowly screwing the top back on holding the pen upright and taking a moment to quickly smell the ink once – inhaling a sharp, almost simultaneously metallic and woody fragrance – before closing the inkpot and stowing it carefully away brought me great joy! It made me feel like I was writing something very important because it was reminiscent of ancient times when important messages were written on scrolls of papyrus with precious ink and sealed with hot wax! Ink pens will always remain my first love! Inspite of the smudge they sometimes used to leave on paper or worse, on my clothes!

Ironically though, I hardly “write” any more. Most of my writing, as many others nowadays, is typed. So we end up using more printer ink than anything else! I do miss the smell, look and feel of ink on paper. Are you as obsessed with ink pens as I am?

Edited to add: a word of thanks to the old school “white ink” without which I my notebooks would have been a cluster of spider-webs because of cancelling out my errors!!

Ink has also been used by many artists to create sketches and elaborate artworks. There’s an online challenge called ‘Inktober’ which was launched in 2009 and has since become a worldwide movement. The classic version happens in October every year where every day of the month, participating artists make an ink drawing – 31 days, 31 drawings. For those who feel this is too much, there’s another version – the Inktober52, where participating artists have to complete one ink drawing per week all year round. No themes, no restrictions. It can be anything, the only requirement being that it needs to be posted online with the applicable Inktober hashtag. Now I’m not even remotely an artist but I follow a couple of my friends who have been doing this for a few years now. It’s amazing what you can do if you push yourself to stay consistent. If you’re one with a flair for drawing, find out more about Inktober here (if you don’t know about it already, that is!)

Inking oneself has become a fashion statement in recent years. Back in the day, only pop stars and celebrities got fancy tattoos. In India, certain communities had a tradition of tattooing either their own names or god’s names or revered symbols or in some cases, the husband’s or child’s name on the wife’s arm. The process was often way more barbaric and painful than modern tattooing processes (not saying they are not painful) and looked quite different too – there weren’t colour options and they were a dull green. If you want to read more on the history of India’s tattooing tradition, this and this are pretty neat synopses. In today’s day and time, tattooing (and multiple piercings, while we are on the subject) is much more commonplace and has become a way of making a fashion statement as much as celebrating an event or a memory. On that note, here’s a question for you!

If you had to get a tattoo, what would it be?

Let me know in the comments section!

Talking about a very different type of ink – watching Masterchef Australia introduced me to squid ink. Being vegetarian, I had no idea about such a thing and I was quite amazed at how it was being used to add black colour to foods. Now I don’t necessarily find the colour appetising but I can’t deny it’s artistic! Apparently, squid ink is the only natural way to get black colour in food. The other options are activated charcoal (ugh, don’t want to imagine that taste in my mouth) or animal blood (bigger UGH – used in black pudding). Bottom line – no black in my food please! If there was contract that could ensure this, I would totally ink it!!

And lastly, Indian companies inking deals for their Covid vaccines have been happy news for the past few months, but none as satisfying as the Indian government finally signing on the dotted line to issue these in India in January 2021. Well begun is half-done, as they say!

On that note, let’s dive into the 5word5 for the day!

Images courtesy Google. Collage courtesy Befunky.com

Slokabs

A name. A bird.
A yin-yang. An elaborate painting.
A butterfly and a tree.
To others, she was a hippie. But getting inked was her way of cataloguing her life!
Her relationship, then her freedom.
Her spiritual awakening, through her art.
Her breaking free from shackles; to shelter others like her.
Every tattoo meant something!

Nimesh Balaji Shinde

Those tiny hands were itching to draw…. Her mother got her some colored ink and their garden straw… Dip dip , Splash splash… After some colored finger tips and a huge creative mess, a masterpiece was created… 30 years later, on a wall in a gallery, hung the same masterpiece about to be sold in millions…

Snacky

Govind was receiving work pressure from all sides. That day, he decided to discontinue the IT industry and to reunite with his local Kabaddi club. Kabaddi was his passion. Before Pro Kabaddi League’s auction day, Govind was man of the series in Inter-club competition. Next day, he inked a deal to play for “Chennai Legends”.

Badmaash Dil

“Pen is mightier than the sword”, “A pen is a double-edged sword”.
We can go on with the importance of a pen. And like blood to our body, Ink is the lifeline of a pen. Ink means permanent and however you try to undo, the mark remains forever. Hence, Think wise & Ink it right!

Badmaash Dil

Ink reminds me of the days I started using a pen. Not sure if the kids in this generation can relate to my excitement. The first pen, using a filler to fill it with ink….everything was a whole new experience. And not to forget the famous hero pen, which was considered a luxury among pens.

Vikram

A distant shout made her look back. It was Akhil her Ex. The pleasantries soon turned into deep discussions as if they had never been apart. Somewhere she started hoping of getting back. As she waved him goodbye, she noted a tattoo on his wrist – Letter R inside a heart. The ink made her rethink.

Anusha Arvind

She flipped through the pages
Some had torn edges
There were faint ink stains
The Memories still remain
Self written with her fountain pen
Each story was a special gem
Etched in her heart
Mystery or romance she did justice to every part
An urge to write again
Confidence built-up, as it was her terrain

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

R had her grandmother depicted on her left wrist.
S was living in the moment on her right ankle.
R was honoring a grandparent she admired.
S wanted to be angelic and spiritual.
R had a Celtic Knot that appeared floral.
S had a Zibu symbol that matched her initials.
Both representing worlds.
Both inked.

My musings

Just before her marriage, her family learned of his true colours. She had utmost trust in him and on his pleading gave him a week.
However, he used the time to spread stories about her!
The pandemic provided her space and peace. Her parents were supportive and grateful that they hadn’t inked their relationship yet!!

Dhiraj (blog)

There was a time when the colour of the ink meant something. The commoners used blue ink. Professionals used black and blue ink. And there was those evil teachers marking my papers with the Red Ink. And then you had the glorious of them all, the bankers and the CEO’s using the fabled Green Ink.

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5word5 theme 16 – Perennial

Perennial stands for continuity. It represents something that will be there forever (or at least some kind of “forever”!).

In botany and herbal medicine, perennial plants are those that aren’t seasonal. They live through all seasons, most significantly, winters and continue to grow and flower over many years. Unlike annual plants that complete their entire life cycle within one year or biennials that live to see two winters.

Similarly, in Geography, perennial rivers are those that have a stream throughout the year and never dry up. Most of the large rivers in India are perennial but there are many that aren’t and depend significantly on rainfall to fill up their streams – the non-perennial or ephemeral rivers. There’s a third category – intermittent rivers – which depend on certain events like melting of glaciers or a spurt in ground water in mountainous areas.

But aside of academics (and the forced trivia that I’m inflicting upon you), perennial is an emotion. Like a perennial, everlasting kind of love or, when you think of some people, a perennial pain the a#%! (These days, since the lockdown, I associate “perennial” even more to a state of laziness and “boredom hunger” (it’s a thing, believe me! Read here).

If you think about it, what is perennial really? In life, I mean? What can possibly be perennial when WE, our lives, are not? Immortality is not a thing, not yet anyway!

Aren’t we all guilty of thinking, planning or (worse!) worrying about things and events so far in the future that, if you stop to think for a moment, you really have no control over more than half the variables leading to that event. Not even your own decisions.

When you decide you’ll ALWAYS or NEVER do something again, who can guarantee circumstances that enable you to live up to that stance? Aren’t we perennially fooling ourselves, then? Imagining that we control everything when in reality, the only thing we control is – our reaction to things that happen to us.

Come to think about it, we don’t have to commit to be perennially anything – we are humans after all; we cannot be perennially happy or perennially angry (like Hulk!). As this quote by Nobel Laureate Bertrand Russel reminds –

What we can commit to, however, is having a perennial attitude of positivity, acceptance and forgiveness which govern our reaction to the curveballs that life perennially throws at us!!!

And lastly, perennial existence or immortality is a myth – The only way to remain immortal is through leaving your footprints on the hearts of others. In this regard, reproducing this beautiful quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that I have mentioned on my blog before as well – a perennial favourite!

After an overdose of worldly philosophy, let’s move on to the essence of the post – Our 5word5 stories on ‘Perennial’!

Slokabs

She did not believe in settling into a state of comfort. For her, there was no cosy, stable ‘happily ever after’. Just a perennial hunger for more – more growth, more money, more freedom, more variety in life and not a moment of inactivity. It was no surprise, therefore, that she was perennially burnt out!!

Badmaash dil

The word ‘Perennial’ takes me back in time to my Geography class in school and right into the lesson about rivers. It describes rivers having water all year long. Let’s add a philosophical touch to it. Our life is perennial, flooded with happiness and sorrow, of course till it plunges into the ocean called death.

Anusha Arvind

Harmony in the house
She shared everything with her spouse
A relationship built on perennial trust
Everything felt like it was at its best
A little chaos with tons of love
There was nothing to prove
Perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness
Sometimes drove each other nuts
Often no logic
Still would feel like magic!

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

This feeling of being bored, 
Is oh so perennial.
Forever present, 
Forever trivial.

This feeling of being bored,
Seems to have taken over everything; 
Our jobs, ourselves, our lives,
It’s the constant that is never leaving.

This feeling of being bored
Is oh so perennial. 
I think it’s a side effect, 
Of being a millennial.

Julie P

She waited solemnly by their usual spot by the window. The sea breeze gently caressing her face and the coffee keeping her hands warm. “This is it!”, she thought, checking her wrist watch. The finale. Closure. Just like the hundreds of romantic films, they had watched together. There was only one thing missing. Perennial rain.

Dhiraj (blog)

Why do leaders love to build statues of themselves. Why does it matter if a road is named after you. What difference does it make if you are mentioned in some form of the written word. The reason and objective is to remain perennial, perennial in minds of the now and the future to come.

Vikram

He couldn’t believe what had just happened. They knew it didn’t fall in societal norms but that never mattered. He tried hard to think that it must be her compulsions. The moments they had had kept flashing. They continued to work alongside, restricting exchanges strictly to work. The chatter in their minds had become perennial.

Aanchal

“Religious disharmony is a perennial problem in our country and you should be cautious of what you SAY” , the judge declared ; “Your bail is denied” . And when India celebrated its 72nd Republic Day as a secular democracy , the comedian slept in jail tonight – penalized for the words he never said. Frankly, the joke’s on us.

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