5word5 theme 55 – Journey

#latepost – I was going to post this over the weekend but decided to wait it out for some entries that were in the works. Glad I did!! In any case, this being the last theme for Season 1 of 5word5, there’s no guilt of giving the next theme late!!

They say ‘the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step’. My journey with words started with three people.

  1. My late maternal grandfather Mr. N S V Eswar who encouraged me to write frequent letters to him (and to my parents in the summer vacations when I was with him and my grandmom!). He always replied and asked questions in his letters so that I would definitely have to respond as well! Over time, I wrote very long, descriptive letters to him about school, my friends, exams, the weather, music and plans for the next vacation when we would be together. To this day, ‘snail mail’ holds a very special place in my heart because it’s where I first learnt to put my thoughts and feelings in writing. This also translated into long (sometimes frustratingly so) emails to family and friends when the internet took over.
  2. My mom Shanta Balasubramanyan, who though never herself harboured much love of reading (largely because she never had the time) always ensured that I am never short of books to read. If I was not studying or singing/learning to sing, I always had my nose buried in a book. Reading made me think and thinking made me write!
  3. My friend Aarti Iyer (Aarti akka, as I fondly call her) who really inspired me to get creative with my writing. Her poems and greeting card messages felt so special and personal. But more importantly, it made me realise that I don’t have to be a famous poet or an author to write – that as an everyday person with a love of words, I had the power to make someone’s day.

Thus began my writing journey. I wrote poems and made cards with personalised messages to everyone thence. I spent my vacations writing poems which then expanded to essays and articles. One particular vacation, I even tried my hand at writing Hindi poetry (let’s leave that for another day!). But it wasn’t until Young Times (my favourite kids magazine growing up in the UAE) published my short story for the first time in 2002, that I dared to believe I was any good.

That was then. I decided to blog when I was 18, with no idea whether I would keep up with it or it would be another one of my passing fads that would phase out. There have been phases of incessant writing – one post a day vs long, extremely long phases of deafening silence on my blog. Doing the blog marathon last year and then embarking on this rather ambitious 5word5 target of 2 posts a week (to begin with), really pushed my limits in terms of thinking and writing discipline! All-in and not counting the hiatuses, I have had a tiny voice in the blogosphere for 15 years now. Far beyond my wildest imagination!

It’s been quite a journey. My mom had suggested the theme for this last post of Season 1 and I felt it summed up 5word5 so well. Because that’s really what this has been – a fun trip with all you amazing co-passengers.

All you lovely writers who contributed to 5word5!!
Size of your name on the grid is based on number of entries sent through the 55 themes! But my gratitude to all of you is equal 🙂 🙂

While we are on word-clouds (because I absolutely love them!), let’s also look at the themes that received the most love in the form of your contributions!!

If you missed any of them, head over and read them now.
(Size varied by number of entries for the theme)

Tbh, it feels somewhat odd to not have to think of the next theme and plan the next post after the last 30-or-so weeks of doing it. But the break is important, because for me, anything that I do for too long becomes boring! I am sure that’s true for many of you as well! I just wanted to hit the pause button before I got there!

And while I’m on a break from 5word5, maybe some new wacky idea for the blog will hit me!

This has been a great collaborative experience – to have so many of you participate week after week – special mention to Anusha, Shruti, Snacky and Julie, my most consistent contributors! I hope all of you will continue writing and that I keep getting to read your lovely works!!

Watch till the end!

On that note, the last of Season 1’s 5word5 below!!

Slokabs

My son lugs his toy train across the hall. And I can’t help but ponder – There are two kinds of journeys. The ones that you plan to the last detail. And the ones where you just take off. Life (and motherhood!) is a blend – with all the preparation, every day is still a new adventure!

My musings

Sloka and “5word5” motivated people to tag along in their journey!
I surprised myself by contributing and suddenly along the way realized what is meant by a writer’s block!!
Now as this sojourn wraps up, I will miss reading the awesome variation in the interpretations and thoughts of a single word! Kudos to you, Sloka!

Julie P

A year of solitude, the world watched go by;
But if there was something, I enjoyed was 5word5.
Little clues unravelled a whole new world.
Words and sentences slowly unfurled.
Every week I admired reading others writing flair.
Anusha, Snacky became some familiar names I cared.
Thank you Sloka for this wonderful initiative you shared.

ShaBby

Ever since the pandemic hit in March-2020, there has not been any holiday.
Then a trip by the name 5word5 with 55 stations came along. I decided to get onboard. Though I couldn’t contribute to every station/theme, I visited them all and was amazed and happy to read them. Enjoyed this journey so much!

Anusha Arvind

Started writing after a long time. Thanks to Sloka! It has been an interesting set of themes that really made me think. Sometimes given me perspective during these tough times. So very refreshing and relaxing. Always eagerly awaiting the next theme. Allowing the creative and imaginative juices to flow has been a truly delightful experience.

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

Julie tagged me on Facebook,
Asked me to participate in a word challenge.
I had been in a writing funk for months now,
55 words twice a week was something I could manage.

Sloka’s words made me ruminate,
I had to Spin, Alienate, and Blossom.
These past weeks were wonderful,
This journey has been awesome.

Anusha Arvind

Let your heart sing
Don’t let go of your zing
Be hungry for more
There is plenty in store!

Free from worry
Sing in glory
Create your own story
So what if your dreams are crazy?!

Spin positivity
Immerse in nature’s beauty
Life is a beautiful journey
It’s time to Unlock! You have the keys!

Aditya Arora

Call it a dog race or a rat race, our journey has a start and an end. It’s up to us on how we lead it. We don’t have enough time to bother with the details, some will find pleasure in the grind while others find happiness being still. So it’s better to do YOU!

Dhiraj (blog)

Journeys are taken to reach another place, time or to just get away from impending chaos. You could plan it or go with the flow and it could all go wrong either way. The best journeys are when your mental makeup is to enjoy, regardless of what happens on your way, to your promised land

Ashokwahi.Wordpress.com (blog)

Though there is no entry of any journey in my journal since last year, I have traveled a lot! In 2019 I traveled all over the world. I visited five continents and saw four new countries. But my journey this year has all been within, and it can be called My Journey to Self Realisation.

Snacky

On his daily walk, Vishnu saw a beggar having hiccups and gave him water. Sadly, the beggar died after drinking it and Vishnu was jailed. Viewing the roadside CCTV footage, the cops realized their mistake and released him. Despite the hardships, Vishnu was happy at being released, because life is a journey, not a destination.

Nimesh Balaji Shinde

I just love to dive into pages of a script and discover new worlds. These pages form a bridge between my reality and fantasy. As I shuffle through them, sometimes a character falls off and creeps into my world. I then take him on a journey beyond his imagination and present him to this world!

Vibhuvi (Bhuvi Dhamecha/Vibha Laljani)

Drive
She started at 188lbs and set off on her journey by walking 10,000 steps a day. She set her budget to 1200 calories. Her luggage – dumbbells and kettlebells – was heavy. But it built her core and helped her tone. Wrong turns did occur. Yet, she lunged and kickboxed till she reached her destination 139lbs.

Bala R (blog)

I lost myself a hundred times
I found myself once or twice
I started on this path on my own
But it seems I have to pay the price
Often at crossroads, I tread on the path which is wrong
Only to realize my folly
I’m a changed person today – strong,
Tired, brooding yet jolly.

Anupama Menon

For the millionth time, she looked at the clock and her eyes desperately searched the lane leading up to her house. She could almost hear the sound of the bells ringing cheekily and her son calling out to her as he parked his cycle. It was ten years later. He never did complete that journey.

Milan Singh Solanki (blog)

Fear and thrill had caught her by foot
Standing on the edge
Guessing the depth
Guaging the height
What would paralyze her,
the weightlessness or the sudden burst of water?
Jumping to ‘find out’ made sense
The instructor said “Go”
She took a leap of faith
of 30 ft into the volumes of Great Ganges!

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And it’s a wrap! Thanks once again to all the contributors – we have a little community of our own now and I look forward to read more of your writings beyond 5word5 – on your blogs, insta pages, FB pages or even your mails/texts to me!!!!!! Don’t let the writing bug get away this time!

I hope to be back with Season 2 of 5word5 soon….until then, Adios, Amigos and Tally-ho!!

P.S. If you’re new to my blog and wondering what 5word5 are, head over to this link to read all about it. And wait for Season 2!!

5word5 theme 54 – Opinion

We all have them, don’t we?! Sometimes we say them out loud, sometimes better sense prevails and we keep them to ourselves.

The thing about opinions is that everyone doesn’t necessarily have the same ones – even if it’s about the same things. Because our opinions are fitted to our personal frames of reference – which in most cases, for things that don’t affect us directly, never give the entire picture.

It’s like the story of the elephant and six blind men – one at the trunk, one on its side, one hanging on the tail, one clutching it leg one holding onto its tusk and another feeling its ear – each one had a completely different of what the elephant may look like. The one at the trunk said the elephant is like a cobra, the one at the leg disagreed and said it might look like a tree trunk, the one on the tail equated it to a rope while the one at the tusk thought it might be a spear, the one on the side thought it must be like a giant wall and the guy at ear, argued that it’s definitely like a hand-fan.

Neither has any clue what the other guys are basing their theory on and each one believes they have the complete picture, when in reality, none of them do! Might be a good thing to remember when we open our mouth to give our opinion to someone! But more importantly, do keep this parable in mind when listening to others give you theirs.

By Kakoli Phukan, yourquote.in

In the current world where social media and opinion polls rule, don’t let the opinion of a thousand other people come in the way of forming your own.

Of course, as a financial consultant in my parallel life, I do tend to give out my professional opinion to people a fair bit. But then again, I am paid for it……

Anyway, moving on to the 5word5 of the day!!

Slokabs

Ambar loved to talk. He had an opinion on everything and gave it to everyone – solicited or unsolicited. What’s worse, he took offence if they disagreed. He may have made a great politician but unfortunately, he was a reporter! He had the power to sway a nation, if only he used it well! He didn’t.

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

As “Dilliwali Girlfriend” played on the radio,
She thought back to the songs from the 90’s.
Some of the lyrics were brow-raising and disgusting,
Sexist, colorist, and filled with sleaze.

The feminist in her was contradicted.
The catchy numbers, dances, and costumes were attractive,
Her opinions had changed now,
But the nostalgia held her captive.

Anusha Arvind

She saw her standing there all along. Simple, poise and level headed. Grounded by her beliefs yet unopinionated and free.
She was self empowered and strong, still stayed as cool as the winter breeze. She rediscovered herself every day. For a moment she froze. To her surprise, it was her own reflection! Neglect or reflect!

Milan Singh Solanki (blog)

P – “You are always finding flaws in me.”
G – “You are so bossy.”
P – “I think you are just too self-involved.”
G – “You are so not ‘warm'”
The ‘thoughts’ and ’emotions’ were at war;
exchange of anger and disappointment in play.
The ‘love’ was trying to bind together
what ‘opinions’ were eager to tear apart.

Snacky

Ananya’s parents found a guy through a matrimony app and thought he is the perfect match for her. Nobody asked Ananya’s opinion. Ananya was silent until the guy’s parents demanded 50 lakhs cash. She shouted loudly at the dining table. She cried in her father’s hand and asked whether she was a burden for them.

Julie P

There were once three stooges,
Left, Right and Centre.
When the Left cried about Liberal values,
They were pulled right back by traditional morals.
The Centre called for moderation,
gently nothing on either sides.
You never saw all the three of them together,
But boy! They created a racket when they flew in opposite directions!

Slokabs

Avril had been mis-diagnosed by her earlier doctor. Thank God she took a second opinion.
“Forget it, atleast you’re fine now”, her parents said.
“Take a legal opinion and sue him”, her friends advised.
“Or better, put it on social media”, they said.
Everyone had an opinion, but she was just glad to be alive!

Slokabs

“It’s 4:55,” said Ray politely to the woman beside him who wanted to know the time.
“No, it’s 5:05”, his friend John said.
“You’ve set your watch ten minutes ahead, you egghead!” Ray teased.
“Haven’t,” John replied obstinately.
Everyday truths – Everybody’s watch shows a different time, yet each one believes his watch is right!!!

(inspired by a quote I read!)

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“Season 1” of 5word5 is closing soon – with Theme 55. LAST THEME IS UP ON THE BLOG NOW! If you haven’t already (or if you had and slipped off!), jump (back) on the bandwagon to be part of my story!!

P.S. If you’re new to my blog and wondering what 5word5 are, head over to this link to read all about it. And wait for Season 2!!

5word5 theme 53 – Hint

“There are always signs, you just need to see them.”

“The universe doesn’t always give you answers. It simple gives you signs.”

These some quotes (attributed to various people) that I’ve lived by. We don’t always get what we ask for or think we want. But what we do get, are hints to what we really need. From the universe – from nature, from people in our life, frok rank strangers even sometimes!

Our intuition is also nothing but a hint – sometimes to what we believe but mostly to what is right for us, for reasons that may not always be explainable. That’s why they say, “follow your gut”!

Sometimes, even the saddest or toughest moments hint at silver linings or a shining light at the end of the tunnel. The ongoing pandemic is a classic example of this, don’t you think? If you really think about it, it’s given us so many poignant and rather direct hints about what out needs and priorities are (or should be!).

Dont ignore the signs. Take the hint! Follow your gut. The trail of gold dust will lead you to your rainbow and that elusive pot of gold (whatever that gold may signify for you!!).

After another of my rather philosophical rundowns, let’s jump in to the 5word5 of the day!!

A quote by one of my favourite poets and the only one to have made 2 appearances in the ‘My favourite poems mini series’ on this blog last year (Two roads diverged in a wood and Miles to go before I sleep).

Slokabs

A birthday ritual he’d enjoyed since he was six was the treasure hunt for his gift! On his 20th, he woke up, excited to find the clues. There was a note on his closet mirror – “You are our treasure. So this year, for your birthday, WE are taking YOUR hints. Now, ‘come out’ to us!”

In honour of……

Milan Singh Solanki (blog)

She collected them,
wherever she could
She relied on them
Like a great friend would
Gave her the courage
to pick the ‘unusual’
The choice at first looked bizarre
They would make it look ‘contextual’
They spoke to her deepest self
more truthfully than anything
She believes in signs and hints
and consequences they bring!

Anusha Arvind

Years of hard work and dedication
Attend to duties with determination
To give you the best care
No matter what you wear

They hold on to their patients
With a lot of patience
Service of highest magnitude
All they hint for is a pinch of gratitude

We humbly bow down and salute you in every town!

Snacky

Ananya and Ravi got more subscribers for their trailer breakdown video. They normally do celebrity success stories and debate on a few reality shows. But this review surprisingly had more views. In that video, they just gave hints about each frame from the trailer. Since the video got trending, they planned to do more reviews

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

Her favourite player had won today. She had been jumping with joy the entire evening. As she retired to her room, she noticed her pillow and blanket and felt the sudden urge to curl under it. All the excitement of the evening had suddenly vanished. She felt empty. A hint of sadness had hit her.

Slokabs

Nancy had crashed. The perpetual fatigue, the endless toxic conversations that went on inside her head, constant aches and pains, lack of appetite and rapid weightloss – her body had given her so many hints. But this time, she decided to take them and promptly picked up the phone to make an appointment with her therapist.

Slokabs

“The quick Brown fox Jumps over The lazy Dog!”
The amateur hackers looked at each other. “Who sets up an obvious hint like that?!”, they thought. They didn’t have much time. He would log in anytime now. They had to copy the bank information before a duplicate login got registered.
They entered “TqBfJoTlD!”
“Password accepted”!

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“Season 1 of 5word5 is closing soon – with Theme 55. LAST THEME OF SEASON 1 OF 5WORD5 COMING UP NEXT WEEK!!! If you haven’t already (or if you had and slipped off!), jump (back) on the bandwagon to be part of my story!!

P.S. If you’re new to my blog and wondering what 5word5 are, head over to this link to read all about it. And wait for Season 2!!

5word5 theme 52 – Sacred

Sacred is usually seen in the context of religion. Sacred texts, rituals, songs (hymns), chants and places like Varanasi, Golden temple, Jerusalem, Mecca/Medina, Angkor Wat, Mahabodhi temple, various other temples and monasteries believed to be the birthplaces and legacies of various religions of the world. In general, sacred refers to something that’s considered holy and unquestionably pure that has stood the test of time and gets passed on from generation to generation in the form of tradition or culture.

But not all “sacred” practices or habits are necessarily linked to religion. We all have some practices and beliefs that are sacred to us, whether based on religion or otherwise, that we hold on to because they mean something to us. To that extent, sacred is not an imposition, it’s a choice and a very personal emotion, something that you do for yourself and not because someone asked you to. Whether it’s meditation or art, gymming or swimming, your choice of food (vegetarianism/veganism, keto/paleo), reading or writing – basically something that you don’t compromise on.

Then of course there are sacred relationships – between lovers, married couples (after all they are joined in ‘holy matrimony), friends, siblings, parents and children – each of these relationships have their own tenets but what is common to them is they are all built on a foundation of trust and mutual respect. That’s why certain friendships/relationships stand the test of time (and by that, I’m not referring to ones that are forcibly or obligatorily maintained but ones that are truly special for the people involved).

I recently came across the term “sacred geometry” and though I’ve known about it all my life, I never knew that’s what it was called. It’s the science (or art, whatever you want to call it!) of drawing intricate patterns and geometric shapes that signify and are believed to generate positive energy (you can read more about this here and here). In South India, they are called kolams and in various other parts of India, rangoli. But I had no idea they had such a strong presence and history in other religions. Mandalas, similar symbols in Hinduism and Buddhism, are also a form of sacred geometry. I would like to recommend two immensely talented women here whose work I closely follow on Instagram. The first is Puriya, a dear college friend – you can check out her stunning mandalas on her page Puriya.Onkar.Art. The second is one Mrs. Hema Kannan whose profile I stumbled upon totally by accident but I’m so glad for it because her kolams are a treat for sore eyes (though I can’t imagine making them myself!) – you can check out her page thelotusshakti.

That’s all from me. Over to the 5word5 now!!

Slokabs

She was not a religious person but she had read volumes about spirituality. Cooking for her family brought her ultimate joy; the kitchen was her sacred place. The rituals of chopping, sauteing, pureeing and mixing were therepeutic to her – the humming of the oven like a background chant and pressure cooker whistles like temple bells!

Anusha Arvind

Fear or Faith
Rituals or Righteousness
Discrimination or Devotion
Scared or Sacred
Do we fathom the meaning?

It’s necessary to know the differences and not blindly read scriptures. Why are we confused?! There’s much to revive. Just like flowers bend to the breeze; let’s be with ease.

Unity is strength. Open your arms to the Universe!

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

I inherited a couple of gems from school,
Added some in my undergrad,
My first job gave me lifelong companions,
This circle of friends made me really glad.
My stay in the US added a few more allies,
Gurgaon’s friends were first-rated,
I’m the luckiest girl in the world,
My friendships are truly sacred.

Milan Singh Solanki (blog)

Endless trips to the
Gurudwaras and temples,
She passionately sought answers
Explanations and examples,
The ‘blind faith’ could not impress her
‘Curiosity’ would always press her
Fighting for what seemed a perpetual hunt
Tagged and rejected,
Faced all the brunt
Then she found it one day
“It’s within”, she could rejoice that
Loud and upfront

Snacky

Jaanvi was confused about her father’s request to meet Jishnu. She wondered if he would approve of her choice! She often meditated whenever she needed clarity. She had set up a sacred space in her home for this – a compact air-conditioned room with some aromatic plants, crystals and perfumed candles. Perfect for her yogic escape!

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“Season 1” of 5word5 is closing soon – with Theme 55. So just 3 more themes to go after this one! If you haven’t already (or if you had and slipped off!), jump (back) on the bandwagon to be part of my story!!

P.S. If you’re new to my blog and wondering what 5word5 are, head over to this link to read all about it. And wait for Season 2!!

5word5 theme 51 – Poison

Sometimes it’s a thing and sometimes it’s a feeling. It’s usually something we can easily live without, may even be better off without and yet just can’t seem to shake off. Whether it’s whiskey, coffee, resentment or rage, one thing is sure – we all have our poison!

When we were kids, we used to play a game called Medicine Poison (a variant of a game popularly known as Ice and water) where the Denner would try to ‘freeze’ the runners by hitting them with a shriek of Poison while their fellow runners can release them with a touch of Medicine. The Denner won if he managed to poison all the runners before any of them can be ‘revived’. The real life equivalent of that game is, I think, Weekday-Weekend….. where you are constantly battling everyday blues to somehow make it to the weekend unscathed!

Speaking of getting through the day, this native American parable is my go-to on days when I feel my brain is in overdrive feeding me with negative thoughts. I’m reproducing the story here but you should totally check out the detailed write-up on this page.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

 

 He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

 

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

 

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

The story of two wolves

Leaving you with this thought provoking story today, before we check out the 5word5 on this theme!

Slokabs

Rita’s tongue was swollen, she’d developed hives all over her arms and couldn’t speak. Her friend quickly found her Epipen and luckily, Rita was saved.
“I mentioned nut allergy”, she hollered afterwards. The restaurant clarified there was “just a drop” of peanut oil in the garnish. “Even one speck is poison for me”, Rita said.

Julie P

She had arranged for a baby sitter, blow-dried her hair and even bought a new outfit! It had been years since she had done something like this.
6.00 pm, the phone buzzed.
Standing in front of a mirror, with a mock laugh, she asked, “What’s your poison?”
The date cancelled. She poured herself a Rose.

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

The grounds that I was bullied on,
The corridors that I hated.
The teachers that made life a living hell,
My childhood that was mutilated.

As I drive by the campus a decade later,
Those memories are still present.
I forgave and removed this poison from my head though,
I have nothing left to resent.

Anusha Arvind

There was a sudden thunder
Her mind did wonder
Why this unbearable anger
What made her surrender?

To blame love or hate
Nothing left to debate
She was in deep grief
Caged in by her false beliefs

She woke up feeling abysmal
Realised all the poison was internal
Change was essential
Lesson that became eternal

Snacky

Since Diya had to work on her thesis last year, she couldn’t spend proper time with her family. Diya now took her family for a fine-dining experience in a cosy restaurant for her successful thesis submission.
Diya and Riya ordered food items under the must-try category. Both prayed that they shouldn’t get food poisoned tomorrow!!

Slokabs

Jolly, a lawyer witnessed a customer having a severe allergic reaction at the curb-side restaurant.
He decided to send out two emails.
One to the victim, inciting her to press charges.
And the other, an anonymous poison pen to the FDA.
Now he just had to wait till the case found its way to him!!

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“Season 1” of 5word5 is closing soon – with Theme 55. So just 4 more themes to go after this one! If you haven’t already (or if you had and slipped off!), jump (back) on the bandwagon to be part of my story!!

P.S. If you’re new to my blog and wondering what 5word5 are, head over to this link to read all about it. And wait for Season 2!!

5word5 theme 50 – Story

When I started this series, I had no idea how long I would carry it on and I am so happy it has lasted 28 weeks and 50 posts – my longest ever continuous blogging streak in 15years of discontinuous blogging history . Huge thanks to all of you regular readers and writers for making this happen for me 🙂 You have become an integral part of my story!

So YAY – it’s the Golden Jubilee post of this series! That calls for some champagne popping and shimmery lighting with these stars flying out of your screen. Because I celebrate even my smallest victories. (So pardon the loooong intro and my overzealousness in the 5word5 section of this post!)

I would credit my love for stories in all forms – storytelling, story-listening and story-reading – to my maternal grandmom (nani), eldest maternal uncle (mama) and youngest maternal aunt (maasi) who lit up my childhood summer vacations with their bottomless arsenal of fables, folklore, mythological tales and even some creatively made-up stories. To add to that, my parents always encouraged me to talk to them about my day, observe people and things around me, string them together and find connection and meaning in the mundane. So I was letting my imagination run amok and cooking up stories in my head since very early in life! I see and interpret stories all around me and am always eager to know the “other” side to any story!

To be honest (and at the cost of sounding totally wacko), I also kind of related to Meghna in the Bollywood film Jaane tu ya jaane na who had devised a game called “What’s this?” as an escapist ploy to her rather sad reality. Basically, she looked at everyday objects like a cement mixer or a wheelbarrow and saw them differently. So the cement mixer becomes a giant that has swallowed a little boy, and the wheelbarrow becomes a rocket launcher. No, I don’t relate to her need to escape reality, nor do I completely endorse her version of the game (or see her vision of those objects), but I have to say, I like the concept of the game – which is to see regular things differently. Quite like looking at clouds in the sky and trying to see if their shapes remind me of something. Years later, a similar principle was applied to a ‘Creativity and Problem-solving’ training I attended at work where a similar exercise (i.e. see this picture and list down all the things it reminds you of) was used to introduce the concepts of six thinking hats and unconscious bias (not getting into those here for obvious reasons…..maybe in a future post!)

I have frequently imagined that my entire life is just a chapter or a page in a magnum opus novel and that all the importance I give myself is probably meaningless in the larger scheme of things. (Reading this post by Tim Urban on his addictive blog Wait But Why only put things more into perspective than ever.) I really have no idea whether, how and how significantly my chapter affects the rest of the novel. Your story, my story, our story……all fit into the cosmic puzzle somewhere undoubtedly, but where and how, we will never really know. But then again, my story is the only one I know inside out. So it’s all I can do to live it in the best way I can!

Then there’s the question of whether our stories are pre-written or do we write our own destiny! If you’ve been a long-time follower of my blog, you’d know from my earlier posts that while I do believe in destiny, I feel life is after all a decision tree and at some point, we have to believe that we fully control our actions – maybe not our thoughts or feelings but definitely our actions! So our stories are only an outline or a framework that we see ourselves in and are constantly evolving every day of our life.

If you think about it and really look around, stories are all around us. No one is living a completely mundane, decrepit life and we all have some story to tell! The best thing about stories is that they always bring gifts – the gift of joy, laughter, empathy or insight……and it is scientifically proven that what you learn in story form, you retain better!

Anyway, this post has become way, way heavier and longer than I’d intended so let me not go rambling any more and let’s get down to business with the 5word5 of the day!!

Slokabs

“An autobiography of a book
Everyone writes their stories in me, but where do I go to write mine? What if I don’t like their handwriting? Or worse, their thoughts?! After all, the keepers of secrets can have secrets of their own too!”
Neelu smiled, marvelling at the thought process of her 15-year old self!!

Milan Singh Solanki (blog)

Sitting on “charpai”, on the terrace of their ancestral home,
all cousins would first absorb the mesmerising effect of
being in total darkness with no street lights around,
a phenomenon witnessable in village alone.
Gazing at the stars, they would talk about
ghosts of the paddy fields,
sticking closer to each other
with every sentence!

Slokabs

Birbal, Tenali Raman, Chacha Chaudhary
Shikari Shambhu, Kalia, Suppandi
Mowgli, Swami, Charlie, Harry
Matilda, Belle, Fiona or Hermione
Aesop’s fables, Grimm’s fairy tales
Tinkle or Amar Chitra Katha, never far away
From each one, learnings galore,
Afternoons spent, lost in another world
A childhood rich with treasures like these,
They’re not mere stories, they’re memories!

Julie P

It was 9.30pm already, Rohan was not home yet. Amma had given up calling him.
She went to the balcony to double check if she could spot him on the road below. The trains passing next to her building made a familiar metallic sound, awakening her from her daily narrative. Rohan’s picture stared at her.

Slokabs

Krishna mesmerised those around him with his stories. But those who were listening to his stories had no clue that stories of his leela had spread far and wide. Who knew that Gokul’s beloved cowherd would become the mastermind of the greatest Hindu epic and impart the greatest story of all to his beloved Arjun!

Snacky

Yahoo Messenger not only dealt with varied kinds of relationships and happenings like friendships, love, arguments, etc., it also gave me an attractive nickname.
My Cyberspace friends introduced me to an interactive forum, where I had to register with a unique username and it’s “Bakoda”, which gradually transformed into “Snacky”.
And that’s my naming story!

Slokabs

“Story time, ma”, 5-year old Akhil said.
Maya knew which story he wanted. It was the same one every night. The one she’d conjured when he was three; about Sweetopia, a country with cake mountains, ice-cream snow, chocolate fountains and biscuit roads. Tonight, Akhil asked if Sweetopia had dentists! Her little one was growing up!!

Anusha Arvind

What’s in a story
A mystery or a thriller
Romance or comedy
Anything worth sharing
Is worth reading
Sense of humor and benevolence
Values or life lessons
Some characters leave strong impressions
Be it Enid Blyton or Sidney Sheldon
A companion in childhood
Leaves behind memories
Some close to the heart
Some leave a mark

Slokabs

As a kindergarten teacher, Sumi told a lot of stories. There were story-telling sessions everyday and she prepared well to give her children as much learning from her stories as possible. But her favourite time of the year was when kids got back from vacation. Because for once, they had more enchanting stories to share!

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

There once was a storyteller.
Every night, he told us a new story.
I hardly remember those today,
but I remember wanting to finish dinner quickly.

We snuggled into bed every night,
Waiting for a freshly minted tale that could have been a bestseller.
My cousins and I were lucky,
My grandpa was a storyteller.

Slokabs

The old war veteran hired an apprentice to write his biography. The young chap arrived, enthusiastic and ready to take notes. “So, tell me your life story, Sir”, he said. The ex-Major took off his shirt, bared his war wounds and said candidly, “My life story is but, a chronology of bullet wounds my friend!”

Anusha Arvind

A crispy biscuit at the base
Melting cream cheese
A dash of strawberries in its place
Some butter to grease

The aroma from the oven
Baked to perfection
Nothing but temptation
A wonderful culinary creation

A slice on the plate
Taste that lingers on the palate
A joy to make
The story of the cheesecake!

Slokabs

Bharti witnessed the media’s darling socialite being shot dead by a public figure at the pub. She couldn’t believe her luck in landing this huge story purely by chance. She excitedly texted her boss and immediately got a call. “Drop the story. Forget you were ever there. Or you and I will both be dead!”

Aditya Arora

Every individual’s story is different, and each story can be made into a movie.
The casting and setup are different. And some moments are relatable, while other instances don’t make sense at all.
But, if only it was possible to wake up in someone else’s story, maybe we would have been a more tolerant society.

Slokabs

Mohit wrote screenplay for movies for his living. But his heart was still beating for his first love. He missed the stage – the thrill of hearing the applause each time, the instant improvisations, the tiny ways in which every performance was different. In his plays, he was not just a storyteller, he was a magician!

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

A story of a chocolate pastry,
The one I bought from Monginis as a child.
It cost a mere 25 rupees,
Every single time I bought it, I smiled.

It was chocolate-y, gooey, and delicious,
It made my heart warm and happy,
It had powers from the great beyond,
It could make your day un-crappy.

Slokabs

“There are always two sides to a story”, the village head said. “I cannot decide without hearing the boy’s side.”
Amar was amazed that Mukhiya-ji was so just even when his daughter was the victim. “He knows that she was promiscuous and is now feigning innocence”, he thought to himself.
Amar was killed that night.

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“Season 1” of 5word5 is closing soon – with Theme 55. So just 5 more themes to go after this one! If you haven’t already (or if you had and slipped off!), jump (back) on the bandwagon to be part of my story!!

P.S. If you’re new to my blog and wondering what 5word5 are, head over to this link to read all about it. And wait for Season 2!!

5word5 theme 49 – Charm

Charm – a surreal quality that you can never quite put your finger on. Something that strangely draws you towards itself – a person, a book, a picture, a scenery. It’s usually something that oozes a positive energy of some kind – a charming person is rarely a mood-spoiler, a charming book is rarely depressing, a charming picture is rarely inspired from something unhappy and a charming scenery is rarely man-made lending itself a mystical vibe!

Speaking of mystical, ever seen how a snake-charmer hypnotizes his subject? Seems like charm can cut both ways! Don’t let someone’s charm sway you so much!!

Do you believe in lucky charms? I had a shirt that I would wear to every one of my CA exams. Luckily by the time I did my CA, the exams were held on alternate days which gave me ample time to wash and dry my “lucky” shirt! When I was in school, the trend of having charms everywhere – from school-bags to pencil boxes to keychains to cars and of course as jewellery- really caught on. A trend that is still very prevalent and one I’ve also been guilty of following!

A person or a thing can be your lucky charm. I know people who carried a little teddy or a photo of someone they love everywhere as a good luck charm. It’s been known to work – largely because it serves as a reminder of what or who you’re doing something for or how far you’ve come!

Last year, I did a really fun DIY project to make shrink charms out of takeout box lids. If DIY is your thing, this is a pretty quick and interesting project – do check it out! They also make great personalized gifts! Check out the video here!

Coming to the 5word5 of the day, what I’ve written is not what I’d originally planned for this theme but it seems fitting for this lovable being who was indeed a lucky charm in our lives and who we are deeply pained to have lost yesterday!

Slokabs

A sparkle in her eye,
A spring in her step,
She charmed her way,
Into all of our hearts;
With nothing but love,
And happiness to give,
Playful and fun,
A lick for everyone!
Sparkle! You’re missed,
You’ve left a deep void,
We’ll hold you in our heart,
Till we meet on the other side!

Nimesh Balaji Shinde

She kept quiet a lot,
because she was different from the lot…
Her eyes talked to me,
in ways that only I could see…
She giggles like a child,
has a side that’s also wild…
With a clean heart,
She’s my poetry and art…
Simple, innocent and calm,
my love has an old world’s charm…

Anusha Arvind

The day is warm
Crimson hibiscus and lilac lilies bloom
Butterflies visit off and on
Animals feeling content on the farm

The birds come sit on the branch
A hello they sing as a song
Bees come and kiss the nectar
Alongside the churning sound of the tractor

The countryside is calm
That’s its charm

Julie P

Ditch the heels, you don’t want to fall for someone at first sight.
You see, Prince Charming is not what he seems to be! Don’t fall for his flattery and niceties. Wear trainers and run as fast you can. He can be a wolf in sheep’s clothing!
Why  didn’t they teach you this in fairytales?

Snacky

Ravi’s phone rang and it was none other than Ananya. She asked Ravi to share the Google map location of his house since it is going to be her first visit. Ananya was very much excited to meet Ravi’s parents. The moment Ananya was there, she felt Ravi’s house was full of charm and character.

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Golden Jubilee post up next! Who would’ve thought?!! Yay 🙂 🙂

P.S. If you’re new to my blog and wondering what 5word5 are, head over to this link to read all about it. And wait for Season 2!!

5word5 theme 48 – Puzzle

I’m puzzled about my love for puzzles – as someone who usually liked to meticulously plan everything out and know the destination before the journey begins, I’m curiously drawn to puzzles. For a change, I seem to enjoy the fact that the solution will emerge as I get closer to it! There’s a certain satisfaction that comes from getting it right.

I love all kinds of puzzles – jigsaws, 3D puzzles (did one and stopped myself from buying more because there’s nowhere to keep them and I don’t have the heart to dismantle them!) but most of all the mental puzzles (brainteasers) – riddles, word puzzles, logic puzzles (guess the next in the series, Sudoku), crosswords, even the whatsapp emoji puzzles (guess the movie based on the emojis etc!!). I love quizzes too – a given thing considering I was part of quiz club at school and college – but the big difference between quizzes (also technically a puzzle, BTW – trivia category) and other intellectually stimulating puzzles is that when it comes to trivia, you either know the answer or you don’t. But in puzzles, you always have a chance to figure it out – the process of getting to the answer is as exciting as eventually getting it right!

If you’re as much of a sucker as I am for puzzles, then you’ll love this amazing app that reminds you to flex the muscles of your grey cells for a fixed period everyday. It’s called ‘Peak – Brain Games and Training’ (here’s the link to the Android App and the Apple App). I realise I also wrote about this on Theme 13 – Peak – seeing as how much I’m talking about it, you can imagine how much I love the app!).

Oh and I recently found out there’s this awesome cafe in Chennai, India called Untangle which allows its customers to do puzzles as they sip on their latte and a piece of chocolate cake. It houses 800 jigsaw puzzles, 80 logic puzzles and 250 boardgames and their biggest is a 24,000 piece jigsaw, the final form of which will take up 17 ft space. While I can’t wait to visit, for now, I’m content with following there Insta page here for updates on when they’ll open again post lockdown and more importantly, a bunch of daily puzzles!

But aside of all the literal puzzles, the puzzle that both puzzles and calms me the most is the figurative one I wrote about in this post 13 years ago! In case you don’t feel up to going back and reading it, I’ll summarise it for you – Our whole life and this whole world is all one big puzzle. A lot of people fit in our puzzle and we all fit in many others’ puzzles! People may come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime but one thing is sure – they always help to complete your puzzle! Once again, thanks to everyone in my life that’s part of my puzzle – my life is fuller because of you!

And on that note – here are the 5word5 of the week (considering I missed one weekly update in the middle).

Slokabs

She grew up watching Crystal maze and Takeshi’s castle on Nickelodeon. She always solved the daily sudoku and both easy and cryptic crosswords in the newspaper. She loved birthday parties, then office parties that included treasure hunts! And now, her mobile was filled with puzzles and games. She loved intellectual challenges. The tougher, the better!

Anusha Arvind

Filled with purity
Tons of curiosity
Free as ever
Totally clever
A child is easy as it gets
A gem that shines from million facets
With no inhibitions
New determinations
Learns with inclinations
Effortless in emoting
Expresses without hesitating
Innocence and bliss
A child’s kiss
The creation is incredible
Why adulterate it, always a puzzle?

Snacky

Apart from spending a lot of time studying, attending classes and socializing with peers, Diya also had limited time for playing mobile games. Her mobile was loaded with unique kinds of puzzle apps. She used to advise her twin sister Riya to play puzzles as it makes you clever and happy, if you resolve it.

Julie P

Solving jigsaws was Madison’s favourite thing in the world. A little ponder, a bit shuffling of the pieces and Voila!
“You fit nicely here!” , her mum  occasionally helped.
Whole Sundays could be spent doing complicated thousand pieces in few sittings. Yet when it came to attending Sunday school. It was clear. She was a misfit.

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Honourable mention for a regular contributor 🙂 Shruti Pimplikar who wrote a #65wordstory that you can check out on her Insta page right here!

P.S. If you’re new to my blog and wondering what 5word5 are, head over to this link to read all about it. And wait for Season 2!!

5word5 theme 47 – Chant

Apparently, one of the most powerful sounds in the world is “Om”; a sound that even the Big Bang theory (the actual theory, not the show!) and therefore the creation of the universe is associated with. Most sacred rituals and anything to do with spiritual or mental well-being (such as meditation, yoga or music lessons) start with the chanting of this sound.

There was a whole drama few years ago, about how the visual vibrations of magnetic fields around the sun as recorded by satellites created an eerie humming sound that sounded strangely like “Om”. You can read all about it on this link -> Did NASA record OM sounds from the Sun?

There is a lot of power in chanting. There’s no doubt about that. That’s why there is such a thing as home ground advantage in team sports – where the home team’s local crowd support them by cheering them on and chanting their victory slogans. That’s why a pop star performing in front of a live audience can perform straight for 4hours, drawing on the energy and vibrations from the audience chanting her name! That’s why positive affirmations are so powerful – when you tell the mind what you want it to believe. Whether it’s “I can do it”, “This too shall pass” or “Go Corona, go”, deep down we draw strength from these phrases.

If you think about it, ancient sacred and Vedic chants in our own religions all emerged out of a need to put a message out to the universe. Our forefathers may have done it in Sanskrit or Latin but because we have limited exposure and knowledge to these ancient languages, we devise our own ways of doing it in English, or any other language that we are comfortable communicating in. In other words, instead of saying “Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu” (sanskrit verse which means may everyone in the world be happy), we speak in a language that comes naturally to us and may say, for instance, “May God bless us all”! That’s as much a chant as any! Don’t you think?!

On that note, “May reading these 5word5 make your day!!”

The Sun apparently “chanting” Om!

Slokabs

He woke up to the rhythmic chanting of Sanskrit verses set to a familiar tune. As a youth, he’d hated waking up to the sound of these chants that he believed were intentionally played loudly enough to wake him up! But today, hearing them brought renewed joy. Because it meant his hearing aid was working!

Six

The Hindus chant the names of god while they climb mountains and stand waiting for hours on end, for a fleeting glimpse of him in His temple. When they return, they shall say, “It was never about the temple. God was with us all along the way. God was with us long before the mountain”

Julie P

It was a hushed celebration but sure to make international headlines. What was wrong in hosting a fairytale mid-air?
Blessed chanting, fine Silks and flowers were welcome in these times.
But down below, the mighty enchanting river was humming a melancholy song.
Mourning those who were submerged without their last rites. Only desperate sobbed chants.

Anusha Arvind

The world chants in unity
For things to rewind to normalcy
Children yearn to hear school bells
Grannies miss the echoes of temple bells

Going for morning walks
Having little talks
Laughing out loud in the park
Not having to wear a mask

What have we done O supreme!
Forgive us and let us be

Snacky

When Ravi ended his wonderful speech by telling everyone a huge thanks for supporting him, the spirited crowd started to chant his name. This brought tears of joy and happiness for Ravi. He once again got the mic from the anchor and said he wanted to dedicate this prestigious award to all his lovable fans.

Slokabs

At the designated hour, the collective chanting of the powerful mantra began just as he’d advised. Soon, there was a buzzing sound like thousand of bees in a swarm until you could clearly hear the air vibrating to the repeated energetic chants. Thunder. Lightning. Rain. The self-anointed godman once again claimed credit for nature’s benevolence!

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P.S. If you’re new to my blog and wondering what 5word5 are, head over to this link to read all about it. And wait for Season 2!!

5word5 theme 46 – Magic

I’ve grown up on a steady diet of fairy tales so I was introduced to the conventional idea of magic very early on – everything to do with fairies, wands, pixies and pixie dust, of innocent unassuming damsels turning into fair maidens overnight (or less)!

Then when I was about seven years old, I went to a magic show for the first time. Actually, I didn’t go, the magician came to our school. And my beliefs were confirmed. That if one had a wand, they could turn anything they didn’t like into anything they did – shoes into slippers, homework into board games, corn flakes into chocos (don’t judge, seven-year-old remember!). Thus began my quest of how do I become eligible to own a wand and learn magic.

When I was ten, a relative dashed my fantasies of magic by informing me that there was no such thing. “It is all an illusion”, he said (the adult equivalent as I have now learnt is “sab moh maya hai“).

Ten-year-old me was devastated. Because that was also the time the first book in the Harry Potter series was published and I was waiting ever so eagerly for my Hogwarts letter, having toyed with the idea of writing to them more than once. Who I would have written to if I went ahead with that plan, I have no idea but it seems like I was convinced that Hogwarts existed in real life!

Fast forward to a few years later, as a young teen, I had accepted that there was no such thing as magic and I had stopped looking for it. I was also learning a lot of science and ‘logic vs magic’ so I was questioning more and believing less.

Then I got to my last day of school when suddenly, my whole life up until that point flashed before my eyes. A journey of seventeen years compressed into a little slot in my memory – I felt like a computer program. It was as if lines and lines of complex code were archived and stored in a back-end program with just the final output showing on the user interface. And that felt like magic. The magic of time. The magic in the realisation that “day by day, nothing changes. But when you look back, everything is different” – a quote by CS Lewis (author of the amazing fantasy series “The Chronicles of Narnia”, the series to which this quote belongs).

That was the moment that made me believe in magic again. Because everytime I look back on my life, I see how far I have come by just getting through one day at a time, getting through days I never thought I could have gotten through.

I wish I could go back and tell ten-year-old me that magic is not an illusion. It’s a process. A process of transformation – from what is to what can be!

Yes, I still revel in conventional magic. Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia (even the Ramayana and Mahabharata which have their own share of magic) and many more still enthrall me no end. I find the specific instances of magic hard to believe, no doubt. But I do believe the underlying common thread that runs through them all – that magic plays a part in taking you from where you are to where you are meant to be. And a part of my heart always hopes that somewhere, in a parallel universe, such fantastical worlds may exist!

While we are on the subject of how magical time is, I have to add that Facebook just notified me about my FB blog page turning one year old today! What a year it’s been! I’ve blogged more consistently then ever before and I have many of you regular contributors to thank for keeping my motivation up! Thanks for adding a bit of magic to my blog and my life!!

And with that, moving on the lovely 5word5 of the day!

Slokabs

Arjun was distraught. His favourite toy, the red fire truck was broken. He wailed and wailed until Mum told him to leave it in the balcony with some cookies. The pixies will come at night and fix it for you. It’s magic, she assured him, winking at Papa who’d have to play magician again tonight!

Six

The smell of fresh mud after the rain. The raucous shouts of laughter at family dinners. The touch of human skin. The sun streaming in through your bedroom window on a quiet morning. The pretty words and pictures that made you cry. The warm breath and blood keeping you alive. Don’t you believe in magic?

Shruti Pimplikar (blog)

Have you ever been enchanted by the magic of words? Have you ever met a book you fell in love with? Have you read a story that gave you a hangover? Did you miss the characters after you were done reading? Did you want the book to never end?
Which book are you thinking of?

Anusha Arvind

A timeless collection of characters
The Express at nine-and-three-quarters
Showcased some special friendships
With an interesting experience of quidditch.

The unexpected twists
The golden snitch
Lessons on spells and potions
A unique way of tuition

The perfectionism of Ms. Granger
The Weasleys’ anger
The quest of Mr. Potter
Brilliance and magic created by the author!

Couldn’t resist adding this!

Snacky

The day when Jaanvi spoke about her relationship with Jishnu to her parents, Jaanvi’s father yelled at her mother and went inside his room. Jaanvi’s mother started to cry. But he came back promptly and uttered the magical phrase ‘I am Sorry’ and hugged them. And he asked Jaanvi to organise a get-together with Jishnu.

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P.S. If you’re new to my blog and wondering what 5word5 are, head over to this link to read all about it. And wait for Season 2!!