Can you live with it?

Train journeys have become my routine. Once a month I travel from Chennai to Tirunelveli, a 12-hour overnight journey. No matter how uncomfortable they can become at times, I would always prefer trains to buses. What do I say? Love is blind. 😉 Or should I say, love is long suffering. 😀

I embarked on one such uncomfortable journey a few days ago, where I had to share a single berth with a co-passenger due to non-confirmation of tickets. It isn’t much of a big deal, except that both of us will end up waking up tired with the space constraints and awkward sleeping positions. But if we are lucky enough, some berths may clear up along the journey as people get down at intermediate stations and we’d finally get to stretch. Unfortunately for us, berths cleared up only as we almost neared the destination. But something is better than nothing, eh? So we gathered our belongings and made a move. I was just moving to a different compartment in the same coach, so I figured my suitcase could stay where it was.

Observing this, an old man asked if I am sure about leaving it there and if there were any valuables at all inside.

“Oh, just clothes.”

“If you were to lose them, can you live with it?”

*awkward silence* “Yeah uncle, I can.”

I mean, I did think about how much the suitcase was worth, if I had any of my favourite clothes inside and all that, but at the end of the day, I could live with losing it.

“Well then, you have nothing to worry about.”

Ha! Random stranger offers me words of wisdom. If I can probably live with losing something or not getting something, then there’s actually no point worrying about it. This can be my material possessions, my job, my friends, just about anything.

This really doesn’t mean I can go about being careless about every other thing of mine. But if there isn’t something I can do in my power to safeguard it, then I might as well give up worrying.

If I were to lose the most precious thing I ever had it would break my heart, but I can live with it. If I were to be judged several times by strangers, well I could live with it. If I were to be judged by friends and family? Ouch, yet I can live with it. If I don’t get the attention I sometimes yearn for from dear ones? They have their own struggles, so I can live with it. Strained relationships? I need to get myself together first and try my best to fix it, but at the end of the day, if it still doesn’t work out, I should accept it and live with it. If I were to face issues at work, I should try my best to deal with them or look forward to what I can do, but still it’s just a job and not life itself and so I can live with it. Aging? Lol, I have to live with it! Worrying about any of this is just pointless or more subtly, fruitless.

But, there are some things probably you and I cannot live with. Hurting someone you love with quick words. Doing that one act of selfishness when you could have just been considerate. Saying things you will regret later. Doing something impulse driven. Going to bed angry. Giving up eternal joys for temporary pleasures. Trading heaven for the world. Now these, these are the very things I cannot live with. And probably the only things I should be concerned about.


2017: The year that was.

2017 was the year I travelled the most, and travelled the farthest too! It was not some resolution I ticked off, in fact I had no idea I would even embark on half the journeys that I did. But they happened and I gratefully embraced them. Each of them was a different and beautiful experience in itself and I am surprised how I never came to write about them! So here is a round up post of the four amazing trips I went on this year.

Gangtok and Darjeeling

What a way to start 2017! This is probably the trip we anticipated the most. Planning began as early as November 2016 with the excitement building up each day. This being a cold region, most of our conversations were about warm clothing to carry and precautions to take. Of course all of us dreamed about the hill rides, animal spotting, sunrise views, local shopping, and umpteen other experiences that would ensue. Though sadly, I was down with flu just before the day we had to start, I still had so much fun and braved the weather. Thank you dear self for being strong. 🙂 And guess what? It snowed! And why exactly do I sound hyper? Because we come from a tropical region where the average yearly temperature is 28 degrees on the Celsius scale. 😀 So to experience temperatures as low as -8 degrees and actually see flakes of snow was surreal. It took a good while for us to snap out of it. Another unforgettable experience was watching the sun rise over the Kanchenjunga mountain ranges from an altitude of 8482 feet. It was crazy amazing that we had to hold back tears.


This was the one time I travelled for friendship. 🙂 I was blessed enough to meet Ramengmawii, who I call Rami, during my college days. We’ve been through so much together and our friendship has stood the test of time. We exchange very few words but I don’t think anyone outside my family prays for me as much as she does. As she hails from a state that is 2400 miles from mine, we didn’t think we would get chances to meet after college. But fortunate for me, she moved to the South to take a few classes and I knew I had to go see her. A whirlwind trip to Hyderabad was set in motion. 🙂 Her very friendly roommate joined us too and we roamed the streets of Hyderabad like the happiest women on the planet. But more than any of that, what I enjoyed the most was my time with her and even the occasional moments of just sitting next to her and being silent, knowing how much we love and hold each other dear. She makes me feel blessed beyond what I deserve. And of course, we broke out in tears, when I had to leave.


A quick weekend trip again with few of my friends from office. Such a serene and peaceful experience. This is a small and humble town in Tamilnadu, its beauty often overlooked. We drove to the point where the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet. This was such a joy watching, with one side roaring with waves, and the other still and calm.Our drive to this point was through an abandoned town called Danushkodi that was washed out years ago by a deadly cyclone. The remains stand as an eerie reminder of the catastrophe. My favourite part of the trip was taking a train ride over the Pamban rail bridge. Where do I even begin? This rail bridge is built on top of the sea and feels so close to it, that it almost seems like travelling in a ship, only better! And the views, the smell and the colour of the sea, the wind against your face, all these are to die for! I definitely intend to go again.


Here comes the biggest and most unexpected trip of all my life! My first overseas trip and guess what? It happened on my birthday week. 🙂 This was a business trip, but we sure had lots of time to explore the city. Each day was an experience in itself with so many new things learned and memories made. We took a ferry ride over the Chicago lake, watched Halloween and the glorious colours of Spring unfold, even tried octopus(!).  I also had a couple of days all to myself where I went around and visited new neighbourhoods and tried new cuisines. I’m still drooling over Budlong Burgers, by the way! What amazed me the most was how friendly the people were, always greeting you with a smile and willing to help. So the best part of this trip? Watching my first live Broadway- School of Rock. I am on top of the world every time I even think of the play. The kids were super amazing, so were the lead adults. My favourite song was “Where did the rock go”. So heart tugging! I had several first time experiences during this trip, including the scary VISA process. 😀 I will cherish this all my life. 🙂

Check out my Instagram if you want to see more photos!

And folks, that’s a wrap. And here’s one thought I am finishing 2017 with: What am I that He is mindful of me?” ❤

Let’s see what 2018 holds.

Dear Reggie uncle, thank you!

A numbing news made its way to me on Sunday evening through an SMS. Honestly, most of us knew this would eventually happen but just refused to be prepared for it. Dear Reggie uncle had passed from his temporary home after more than a year of fighting  cancer with much grace and patience. I’m pretty sure he was ready because cancer or not, he always lived life one day at a time and never wanted to plan far too ahead.

Being a professor, a writer and a wonderful human, uncle had touched the lives of many, and gently influenced mine too. I wanted so badly to bid farewell to uncle and see his face for one last time, but couldn’t make it. But I did go on a quick trip home to meet his family and friends a couple of days ago in his thanksgiving prayer gathering. My, what a blessing it was. I’m sure everyone carried back not just great memories of him but also lessons for a lifetime. This one line that uncle’s sister-in-law mentioned while talking about his life and death has stayed with me.

Reggie, you showed us how to live. Now, you’ve also showed us how to die. What more can we ask for?

As I was struggling to find words to comfort his wife, dear Caroline aunty, I was once again amazed by how gracefully she handled everything, though it was too big a loss for her. She said, “Pearlyn, I’m so glad you are here. I was even thinking about making you talk today. But with lots of things going on, I couldn’t coordinate.”

Oh aunty, how I wanted to talk, not exactly before a gathering, but to uncle himself. How I wished to sit and talk with him and tell him how he not only has a way with words, but also a way without words. How he was not only a great teacher in the class, but outside the classroom too. How I never finished the letter I started writing for him when I knew he was sick. Oh how I wish.

As I reminisce moments with uncle, here are the ones that stand out. His beautiful “Hello,ma” with which he has always greeted me. His soft yet authoritative voice was to me a perfect oxymoron. Our conversations were limited but rich. I had what I would call the honour of translating one of the articles that uncle had written. He had strong diction over both Tamil and English, but still, uncle and aunty were always supportive of up and coming writers, and hence my chance. Uncle had such brevity in his writing, with the right amounts of humour infused in it so as to not dilute the essence. It was a huge challenge achieving the same in my translation, but I was so very excited. I put my very best into it but I was also ready for uncle to tear it part by part, because how else will I learn? But what he did was beyond my understanding. He printed out my copy and edited it with a pencil and called it suggestions, not corrections. He could have very well taken a red pen and made the corrections even without consulting me, but he didn’t. He treated it as if it were my own piece, though it was just a translation. His words of appreciation were more than what I deserved. Uncle was an encourager all along.

There was also this one time my writing got published in a national daily. We met many months later, when he remembered and expressed how happy he was to see my name in print. He said wonderful things about the piece and insisted that I keep writing such satirical pieces. “I read your article to my class as an example of a great short piece. You should definitely keep writing, we need people like you. And I started typing a long mail to send you. But I never got to complete it, but good that we’ve met in person now”, he said. I wish I could read his half finished mail now, just like I wish he would read mine.

I’ve also observed what a loving husband and father uncle was. He was the unsung hero who always pushed aunty to do more for Christ and also supported her along the journey. When I used to volunteer at their office, uncle would get us lunch along with his favourite chicken and also hot and fresh snacks for the evening. His hospitality was overwhelming, yet he did it so subtly and without attracting attention. I’m filled with a blend of emotions right now. Of course there is sorrow, but I am also immensely happy and grateful that I got to learn from him.

Dear Reggie uncle, thank you for mirroring Christ to us. I know you wouldn’t like us saying that we want to live like you, but we really do. Thank you for all the love and appreciation. Everything I ever write, I attribute it to you. We will try to live a life worthy of heaven, so that one day, we will meet in Christ and worship together.

Bobby Pins

My mom and I do not share our dressers. Actually, I do not have one. Mine is typically a big cupboard where I throw in all my stuff. So each of us has our own set of pins, hair clips and the like that we don’t usually share. During rare times when there is a safety pin crisis, borrowing happens but we don’t care about returning them. So, I found it really funny when my mom asked me to carefully bring back her bobby pins that I was using that night. While dressing me up for a Easter play, she preferred to use her bobby pins as they would better secure my shawl to my hair than the usual pins I use. I’m pretty sure she mentioned at least a fifty times to not lose her bobby pins. I kept saying how senseless her attachment to them was. But she wouldn’t budge. She repeated the chant as I was about to leave. During my ride, I was pondering over why she would be so hysterical about losing her favourite bobby pins. I mean, those are not irreplaceable, though she believes they are! She is very much convinced that no store would have that particular type. Is there more to this obsession, I thought. Why does she hold on to such small things and fear over losing them? She has given me far more valuable things and not care if I spoilt them. She would give up her favourite saree if I wanted to cut it up and stitch a salwar. She would give her rings and earrings up if I happen to like them. She would let me have the only pair of slippers she is comfortable with, if I fancy them. She would give up her portion of the ice cream for brother and me. Why then would she want me to return her bobby pins?! Is it because she has no control over bigger things that she holds on to the tiniest of them? Is it because she has pampered and taken care of others for so long that for once, she wanted to be pampered and treated special, with her definition of special being returning her bobby pins? I don’t know. But all she ever asked me was to be careful with her bobby pins. Just bobby pins. And I failed.

Dying one final time

When shorthands become too short

Shorthands. Some blame it on the character limits on texts, some on conforming to the trend, some on sheer laziness, some on the inadequacy of time itself. And this is not even a teen or an young adult thing anymore. When my “Take care, grandma” was responded with a “K.Tx.U2”, I knew, this thing just got real! Seeing that text, I thought, “Poor grandma couldn’t handle multiple tabs, she typed the captcha text in the wrong screen.” Or, did she just give me her password? I would not have taken a second look, if not for the fullstops.
There is enough ramble going on already about how irksome and utterly confusing shorthands have become. Honestly, I’m tempted to do just the same and add noise to the chatter. But for a change, I thought I’d look closer and find patterns if I were lucky enough. And lucky I was. One thing short hand enthusiasts do is, they get rid of all the vowels. Their firm belief is that, the English language can, and in their world does exist without vowels. The only times they can be allowed to stay are when they are the first or the last letters in a word. If you can manage to dispose of even that, then great! Why would you type “exam”, when you can just say “xm”? But things can get worse. When my friends shorten my name to Pearl, well, that’s cute. When they choose to go all lower case, I pacify myself saying, “No big deal. They are comparing you to the real pearl. Chill.” But imagine my dismay when I see something like, “Hpy bdy prl.” Prl? I think things have gone way too far. So what do I infer from that? Parallel? Peril? Oh, a peril I can really be!
Observation number two. No repetition allowed. Letters aren’t meant to be repeated. Not for emphasis, not for stress, not for anything. Just cut it out. “Bel”,”bles”,”les”,”adres”,”coment”. This is beginning to sound French!
That brings us to the third and final observation that I would like to record. This is more than just a shorthand practice. This is pure humility. The absolute denial of self. The strong opinion that “I am not important.” So why put myself in caps? I shall rather be addressed “i.” Whether I start the sentence, appear midway or am right at the end, let me be made smaller. Quite a conviction, right?
I believe there are so many more. But the Grammar Nazis out there would have already died a thousand deaths reading this. So, I digress. Or rather, i dgres.


Plagiarism is no longer an undiagnosed disease that silently creeps in and kills. People are more aware than ever of its deadly impacts that they would do anything to keep it off. With plagiarism being one of the most talked about topics today, I would do no good to the reading community by jotting down another 400 words about it. While the blatant copy, paste plagiarism has been chased and thrashed and flogged, there are other subtle and equally deadly forms of it that never see the light of day. Yes, they lurk in the dark. And the reason one of them thrives? Because it is done with mutual consent.

What if the person is ready to give away a work of theirs willingly to be used in somebody else’s name? I know, I know, ghostwriting is an industry in itself and as long as writers don’t mind somebody else being credited for their work, who can blame them? But what if in this seemingly harmless process, someone is actually harmed?

College competitions are a great way to pave the platform for your talents. They could, and they have been in many cases, what you call stepping stones for a person’s work to gain recognition.  I believe the best way to hold such college writing competitions is to do them impromptu but just so people should turn up, they could be announced before hand. The topics however should be given on the spot to judge how well a person could write off the cuff. But I guess my seniors thought that giving a set of topics ahead of time would help competitors group their thoughts and decide what they want to write on. Fair enough. They must have felt that 18-20 year old boys and girls would never get someone to ghost write for them, learn it by heart and lay it down on paper just so they could score. So just imagine my sheer disappointment when I came to know the winner herself won this way!


For someone out there, his/her much deserved victory has been denied and that according to me is sad and unfair.  It actually comes down to personal discretion. Can we even call this plagiarism? I would say plagiarism in camouflage. You judge.

P.S: Soon after I knew it happened, I discussed the incident with the person involved directly. She regrets it very much and from what I know of her, she would never do it again. Here, I am addressing the issue, rather than the person. 🙂

Savouring the unpredictability of days

Six years ago today I registered with WordPress, with no clue of what this is all about. But the idea of writing to the world thrilled me enough to make me take the plunge. Looking back at my Hello World post, I can’t help but laugh. Too much excitement written all over it. Messy grammar, thoughts, words. Six years ago, I did not think the blog would last this long.

Three years ago, when I tried my hand at homour and rambled about my disappointment with modern restaurants, I did not think it would make it to the pages of a nation-wide newspaper.

Three years ago, when I was placed in a software company for a hard core coding role, I did not think I will ever get to write again.

Two years ago, as I moved to the shiny Chennai city for my internship, I did not think I will ever fit in.

Two years ago, when I, with some sort of magical courage, requested for a role change, I did not think this blog would be convincing enough for my employer to trust my writing abilities. And I did not, for a moment, believe that I would be given the new role.

Two years ago, when I published my first and jargon-filled post on the company blog, I thought technical writing is what I will be doing in the coming days and was content with the same. I did not think things could get better than this.

One year ago, when I was thinking of ways to talk about a feature, I did not think a technical post would blossom into a beautiful little story.

9 months ago, when the idea for this blog post was conceived, I was not sure if I would be given the space to attempt such a thing or if this piece would ever see the light of day. I did not think that literature and business could blend beautifully if we get the portions right. And never did I think that exactly six years from the day I started blogging would I actually publish a company blog piece with as much passion and excitement as I would a personal piece.

All these years, if there is one thing I have observed, then it is that you never know what lies ahead. You never know what new adventures can present themselves. You never know what will happen if all you ever do is what you have been asked to do, but with passion and love. You will never know when the streak of monotony will end. But it will. And you will know how interesting your trail has been only when you finally reach a milestone and look back. Until then, let you and I just savour the unpredictabilty of life, as it comes, one day at a time.

And finally, six years ago, I did not think my sixth anniversary blog post would be made from a mobile phone. 😀

To see the extraordinary, you must know the ordinary

November 14, 2016. I expected it to be that time of the year all of us in India pull out our childhood photographs and post them on social media with a very nostalgia-evoking, heart-sinking, wish-I-were-a-kid-thought-stirring quote. Well, that happened.*Guilty as charged.* But something else took dominance this year. The November supermoon. The moon’s closest encounter with Earth in over 68 years.

All of mankind can be split into the following three categories based on our reactions to the supermoon:
  1. Supermoon enthusiasts:  Ones well read about the phenomenon and actually looking forward to it.
  2. Supermoon mushrooms: Ones excited by all the hype, driven by the desire to join in and make some noise. After the rains, the mushrooms disappear too.
  3. Supermoon who?: Ones who go- What supermoon? What’s so great about that? Wait, it’s just the same freaking full moon!
I’d like to think of myself as a supermoon enthusiast. Being a sky gazer that I am, I was stoked about the phenomenon from the minute I read about it. Supermoon or not, I gaze the skies everyday. The sun, the moon, the clouds, just everything about the skies thrill me. So much so that my friends think I should get married to the skies. And when you love something that much, you tend to observe and soak in every little detail. I know what shade of orange the sky was yesterday and how it was different from today’s sunset. I know if the moon is shrinking or growing without looking at a calendar. I observe cloud patterns with such engrossment that I can recreate the image in my sleep. This is the reason the supermoon was so special to the enthusiasts. We were actually able to see how much brighter and bigger the moon was than its usual full moon self. Because we spend hours everyday enjoying the ordinary scenes, when the extraordinary happened, we were the first to notice. We could see the difference and appreciate the phenomenon for what it was, not for what it was projected to be. Enthusiasts stay enthusiasts, since sky watching is more of a passion to them, than a habit.

Most of the people, however, are supermoon mushrooms. They were just way too excited, even more excited than the enthusiasts. My guess is they’ve never stopped to look at the skies or the moon. The supermoon is just an excuse for them to go out and moon gaze. On November 14th, the perigee occurred in the evening around 4:50 when the moon hadn’t risen for us. We started spotting the moon in its reddish orange glory from around 5:30, after which it slowly rose and became its usual white shade. So, those who saw and marvelled at the moon well into the night were not actually seeing the supermoon, because the moon had already started drifting away by then. If you had told the mushrooms “Today is supermoon” on any other full moon day, they would have enjoyed it just as much. So if you really loved the moon that day, please do look at it more often. The more you know the ordinary, the more amazing extraordinary would be to you and you might even become an enthusiast. But if that doesn’t happen, mushrooms tend to become the supermoon whos with time.

Coming to the supermoon whos, don’t hate on them. Because they are just normal and honest people. They don’t let the hype get to them. If they like something, they like it and if they don’t, they don’t! As simple as that. They may become enthusiasts in the future, but never mushrooms.

Experiencing Vardah from my windows

No beating about the bush. Cyclone Vardah was a beast, a beast that scared the life out of most of us. The Chennai floods was another devastating disaster last year, but for me, personally, Vardah had a vaster impact. Something I wasn’t ready for, despite warnings issued in the news. As I write this post, the city still struggles to be up and going. This is one of those times one realises how grateful we ought to be for a roof over our heads and food on our plates.

I was in my hometown (580+ kilometres away from Chennai) this weekend as warnings of a cyclone with winds as heavy as 100 kms/ hour were issued. But none of us at home worried about me traveling the night before Vardah because one, we did not know what a 100km/hr wind meant. Two, a similar cyclone warning was given earlier this month but it kind of passed without much damage, just spells of heavy rain now and then. So the thought was “How worse is this going to be, no big deal.”

Rains started to pour as my train neared Chennai accompanied by gusty, howling winds. I thought the winds seemed that strong because we were in a moving train. I was proved wrong soon enough. Umbrellas couldn’t stand the force as I ran to catch my next local train to my place. Rains intensified by the time I reached home, so going to office was not an option. Power supply was cut leaving my mobile phone with no battery charge and my emergency lamp flickered and died after a few hours. Who wants a lamp in the morning, right? Actually, we did. It was dark the whole day.

Next to go was the water supply. I was already short on food. So, hungry and dizzy and tired, I sat by the window to watch the cyclone hit us hard. It was no less than ghostly. Rains weren’t heavy but they fell on us with such great force. The winds were insane, with the sturdiest of trees bending and breaking like pieces of styrofoam. But what was really blood curdling was the noises that accompanied. It alternated between a child wailing and a wolf howling. The winds fell so hard that the doors and windows shuddered with each blast. Trees were uprooted, electricity poles fell and thatched roofs destroyed, all before our eyes.

I spotted leaves being carried by the winds, then came umbrellas and small pieces of wood. When I saw bigger logs and roofs flying away, I knew how worse this was getting. Then came a point when deafening noise of the winds, flying particles and rain filled the atmosphere that nothing was visible anymore. I feared that the windows would give way, but what I did not anticipate was rain water entering through gaps as thin as hair. Such was the force of the winds. It was pitch darkness as I stepped in my hall, shocked as I felt water on the floors. Rest of the evening I tried my best using sponges to remove as much water as I can, mopping the floor and trying to seal the window gaps, but in vain.

The wind died down later that night and it was just rains for a while. Totally exhausted, I don’t remember when I fell asleep. When I woke up around 6:30 yesterday morning, the sun was up- a welcome relief. I made it to office, to see the beautiful bucket shaped glass building damaged in places. The campus trees were uprooted, our ground floor lunch destroyed completely, the car parking fences resting on the cars. But the most heart breaking sight of all, our favorite signature banyan tree took a heavy beating, something we hadn’t expected at all.  As painful as it was to see all of this, I was happy that I finally had a way to call my parents and also found something to eat. Hunger is cruel. Talk about the everyday things we take for granted!

Many took refuge in office, which was evident from the overflowing dorms and dinner queues. It is a blessing to work for an employer that took care of its struggling employees during such a catastrophe. This is the second time we are experiencing this, the 2015 floods being the first. It’s been two days since the cyclone hit. My floors are still damp, power lines are yet to be restored, there’s water scarcity throughout the city, but things are looking up. Yes, it will be a long time before the city is back to its former glory, but that’s the thing about Chennai, it is known for its resilience.

I do not have any photos to share, and there are enough photos on the news already. But this I can say. Vardah has taught us, yet again, to be grateful, compassionate, helpful, and maybe in some ways, joyful- to take things as they come and move on.