Can’t be her.

The world celebrates mothers today. I am heart warmed by all the pictures and words that I see. Cool moms, loving moms, moms who are best friends, sacrificial moms, so on and so forth.

I’ve never really taken fancy pictures with my amma. I wish her on Mothers’ day, but have never sent her paragraphs of why she is the best amma ever. Haven’t penned poems for her. Maybe once or twice, anna and I have signed greeting cards for her. But that’s about it. She doesn’t sit down to tell us she loves us either. We don’t surprise each other on birthdays. Big fat celebrations don’t exist in our family. We don’t take yearly family trips to exotic locations. Heart to heart conversations are a rarity. We’ve hardly said “I love you”.

But this woman I call amma, I am sure she’d lay down her life for us, if she has to. In fact, I think she does that everyday, wearing herself out to the point of exhaustion for her family. There’s love in the hot cup of tea that awaits every time I visit my hometown. She didn’t spare the rod when she raised me, out of love. She has rebuked me so that somebody else wouldn’t. She has both rejoiced in secret and cried in secret for me. She is the most overworked and under appreciated woman I know. 29 years of serving people by caring for and treating their animals, as well as their troubled souls. Even after retiring, her hands always find work to do. It’s like she whispers every morning, “Work, wherever you are, I will look for you, and I will find you.”

Three years away from home and I’ve inherited nothing from her. I can’t cook like her. Can’t keep the house spot-free like she does. Can’t fold clothes like her. (How on earth!) Can’t come back from a long day of travel and go straight into the kitchen like her. Can’t wake up in the middle of the night just to check if everyone’s sleeping tight and if the blankets cover us well. Can’t pray like her ignoring the aching knees and the thinning disc. She’d even put off going to the doc because she’s scared they’ll ask her to rest. “I can’t afford to rest, Pearlyn.”

And oh, can’t love like her. She would never hate me but even if she were to, that hatred would be more loving than the highest level of love I can give her. Now, that! That just blows my mind. Even more unbelievable is how she would blame herself when something goes wrong in one of our lives. No way.

She’s not like the well-dressed, glowing mothers they show on TV. When I think of my amma, I think of how she’d run around the house in a sweat drenched nighty, how she’d cry every time I came home with a scraped knee or a bleeding face, how she’s up early in the morning reading the Bible and praying for her family, how she’d look at her wrinkled face in the mirror, worry for a second and then move on. These are not necessarily beautiful scenes, yet there is no greater beauty than this.ย She deserves a perfect child, but here I am. And surprisingly, she’s okay with me.


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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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 ofย 8482 feet. It was crazy amazing that we had to hold back tears.


This was the one time I travelled for friendship. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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(!).ย  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. ๐Ÿ˜€ I will cherish this all my life. ๐Ÿ™‚

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?” โค

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 ย 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.

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.

Experiencing Vardah from my windows

No beating aboutย 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 asย 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.ย  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.




From a picky eater to a foodie of sorts

I used to be a picky eater. A very picky eater. Food was for survival, nothing more. I loved eating mom-made food but I was never really all pumped up when something special was being made, like most foodies are. I have heard food lovers go on and on about the ecstasy of taking in the aroma of freshly cooked food, of getting the first bite, of taste buds getting tickled, of savoring different cuisines and of the satisfaction of a hearty meal. While this is all really interesting to listen to, I never understood their love for food. The only thing that ever got me excited was tea.

This naturally meant my portions were usually small and gobbling down food was a habit. In our part of the world, biriyani is the king of all food. It is not everyday that biriyani is cooked in homes, but for any special occasion, there HAS TO BE biriyani. When a friend comes with a lunchbox full of biriyani to school/college, people just pounce on the box to get a share. And trust me, I am not exaggerating. When biriyani is brought, the classroom is a war zone. And me? I just wanted peace! Continue reading “From a picky eater to a foodie of sorts”

The Power of Words

The past week, I have been asking some of my friends this question- “What excites you?” and insisted that they stick to the little things and the simple joys rather than winning-the-Olympic-gold or grabbing-an-Oscar kind of excitement. Most of the answers hit close to home and it was exciting to get a view of how different things affect different people.

I have my own list too, which is clearly topped by tea. Yes. Tea is more than just a beverage for me. Too many emotions attached to it. Few others in my list wereโ€” riding pillion in a long stretch of empty road (used to love long bike rides with my dad as a kid. It seems so long ago now), a train ride in a window seat and wind blasting my face, the clouds and the skies, the sun and the moon, the sea breeze. There is another important thing that excites me. A quote or a line from a book, a movie, or a song that just touches me or moves me or makes me go awww. Words are powerful. Words evoke feelings. Words excite. Words heal. Words hurt. Words build. Words break. Words are magic. This is why I started writing in the first place.

I look back to my childhood summer vacations when I would search for books through the loft in my grandparents’ place, like a poor man would dig for treasure. I would pull out a book and carefully turn the brown pages that have become brittle with time. I would read those archaic Shakespearean words and wonder what that was all about. In spite of my inability to comprehend them, I would fall in love with the mystery and beauty of it. And I have stayed in love ever since.

Continue reading “The Power of Words”

4 Things only Nocturnal Beings could relate to

If you are a morning person, let me tell you, none of this is going to make sense to you! ๐Ÿ˜€ For a night owl, on the other hand, this is going to be 178 seconds of bliss! I however encourage you early birds to read on- come see our world and see all that you are missing ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you sleep anytime after 12 am on a regular basis, you must have been preached enough number of times as to why it is such an unhealthy habit and why you should change your sleep pattern asap. Fine. But let’s just put all of that aside and for a few minutes celebrate the wonderfulness that the nocturnal beings get to experience every day night.

My sentiments exactly.
My sentiments exactly.

The Birdie myth

Of some of the experiences early risers boast of getting, the most common one is how they wake up at the crack of dawn and hear the first chirping of the birds. Oh my bird! Those are lies, please don’t believe them. Birds start chirping at 2 am-ishย and we are the ones who get to hear them first everyday!! I’m no ornithologist, so I don’t really know a bird’s biological clock. For me, technically, a day starts at 12 am and 2 am comes before 6 am, so yay!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

Continue reading “4 Things only Nocturnal Beings could relate to”

Eleven-Part 2

A month ago, dryyellowsoul from creativenerd was kind enough to nominate me for the Liebster award. Sadly, I decided not to do awards sometime ago but the challenge was too interesting to pass up! ๐Ÿ˜‰ The task is to state eleven random facts about myself and also answer eleven questions that the blogger has framed. I also remember doing the same challenge three years ago, so I’m naming this part 2 ๐Ÿ˜‰ You can find the part 1 here.

Now onto 11 random things about myself.

1. I talk. A lot. I’m a HUGE talker. Especially after I get to know you, there is no stopping me ๐Ÿ˜€ Not serious stuff though, I tend to bend towards the lighter side. So I talk loads and laugh hard!

2. I like to be addressed by my name. That is, I like “Thank you, Pearlyn” better than “Thank you”. I feel it is even better than “Thank you dear” or “Thank you ma”. (ma is a term of endearment in our local language)

Continue reading “Eleven-Part 2”