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.

Hyderabad

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.

Rameshwaram

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.

Chicago

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.

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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.

Camouflaged


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!

tough

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. 🙂

Falling in love with the journey


ALERT! I may get philosophical at places. Hey, I’m back to blogging after a long long break. What do you expect? 😉

After a fairly long time, I had the chance to travel by train last week. If my memory serves me right, this is my first train journey alone. There was another time when I traveled alone but I chanced upon a neighbor from my town and he was in the same compartment “watching over” me, so that doesn’t count.

I don’t actually prefer traveling long hours by a AC bus/train. I’m the “open the windows, let the wind blast your face, don’t mind the hair getting tangled” kind of a person. Stuffy AC spaces are not my thing. But unfortunately, due to ticket unavailability, I had to book a seat in the AC compartment. Little did I know that I was going to have an amazing journey nevertheless.

By the time I boarded, it was lights out. Everyone else in the compartment had climbed into their berths and were asleep. It was 09:15 pm and for a night owl like me, that’s like the start of the day 😀 My phone’s battery was running out of charge and the socket in the compartment was already in use, so decided I’ll just step out and plug it in the common one they have near the doorway.

So I walked to the door, kept it open and started enjoying the rush of wind hitting my face and of course checking texts on the charging phone. The TTE was nearby and struck up a conversation with me. This went on for sometime after which he put his game face on and was determined to clear level 271 of Candy Crush. 😀

I stood there for more than an hour. When I travel with my parents, standing near the door was a strict no no. Here I was, relishing every second of my time there, grateful for the solitude, because at times, that’s exactly what you need. I had conversations with random people. I watched as people stared into the mirror. And sometimes just blinked into space.

As moments ticked away, I realized I was falling.

Falling in love.

Continue reading “Falling in love with the journey”

Colour play


Do endorphins get released everytime I see a play of colours? Because colours make me instantly happy!!! And India has SO much to offer when it comes to colours. I hear how bloggers from other countries wait for summer, so that they can shove all the monochromatic outfits and opt for some colour in their closets.

Well, in my place(a state named Tamil Nadu) we get to wear colours everyday!!! Because it is summer all the year round!!! (with one or two months of rain). Before you wish you were in my shoes, consider all the sweat and google about Tirunelveli’s average temperature 😉

Clothes aren’t the only colourful things here. You can’t spend a day outdoors in India without spotting a “rangoli” or atleast a simple “kolam”. It’s a form of art where patterns are made on the floor with coloured and ground rice ,sand ,chalk powder or salt. Flower petals are sometimes used for the same.

This one here is made with coloured rock salt. This adorned our department’s entrance more than a year ago.

Don't you want to just feel it?
Don’t you want to just feel it?

This is done for all special events in my college by the students. The standard “welcome mat” 🙂 Look at all the contrasting colours!!!!  Bliss ❤

P.S: If you are wondering why I misspelled “colour” over and over again, then you probably are not aware of British English spellings 🙂 The British introduced English to India, so we go with that!

Have a look at what “contrast” means to other people!

Dear past


Dear Past,

Hello there! You’ve been in my thoughts for a long time now. I see you visiting me so often. Is it that you miss me? It’s sweet to think someone misses me but you have a skill of injecting the same feeling into me, making me miss you too, which, I tell you, can be too much at times!

But it’s funny you know, you can visit me anytime you want, just dive into my thought puddle but I can never do that. All I can do is watch you from a distance. I can’t grasp you no matter how hard I try. You elude me quite well, I commend you for that, you cheeky little fellow!

I need to be honest with you, while sometimes you fill me with bliss, other times your memory just sickens me. How can someone be good and bad at the same time? You sure know how and are a good one at that! You seem to encompass both the good things and bad things in my life. I wish I could separate them both and keep the good nearer to me you know. But you’re adamant to not let go of them. You are like a mirage- I see you at a distance, run to you to have a closer look but alas, you vanish and appear a few feet away.

I see your appetite is increasing at an alarming rate these days. You seem to swallow days and moments hastily, sometimes even snatching them from my hands. When I wake up tomorrow , today would have already become a part of you. My future is fast approaching, my present is shrinking and my past is beefing up. That’s scary!

I see many people hating  you, cursing you and wishing you didn’t exist. How does that make you feel?I’m sorry but sometimes I catch myself doing so too. But I actually am happy you happened. By grabbing the happy days from me you make me more appreciative of the moments I have at hand. By taking the sad things away from me, you give me assurance that I don’t have to carry the weight anymore, by being irreversible, you make me want to be more careful with my choices each day and by visiting me now and then, you constantly remind me who I was, who I am now and how far I’ve come. While some think of you as a hindrance and a pain, I believe you actually push me to a better future. Sure, I have my moments but at the end of the day, I realise you are inevitable!

I’m not sure what address I should write down on the envelope. I think I’ll just leave it on my table. You are definitely going to pick it up anyway as you become hungry later today. So, I guess I’ll see you around. Bye!

Love,

LynAn

Overnight success doesn’t exist


Hard work- I’ve been giving some hard thought to this. And have come to realise that my view of it has been heavily distorted thus far.

There are three kinds of people, as is widely believed. The kind that give it their all and work hard to get going up the ladder of life. The second kind that just wish things came easily and slop around waiting for victory to just happen or fall into their laps. And then the rest who work enough to get by not exerting or striving too much.

Apparently when there’s a classification, you got to fall into one class. But I just don’t seem to fit in any of the above. So I figured it’s time to bring in the fourth kind. I call them “last minute hard workers” which would be the perfect alias name for me, because that is so me.

I do believe in hard work and I know that’s the only way to succeed. But what I didn’t know or accept is that hard work takes time. I am the kind that would procrastinate stuff and then when the deadline is scaringly near, I’d toil really hard compelling my body to forget all about sleep. Later when I don’t get the results I expected, I’m like, “Oh I worked so hard!”, shoving it away like it’s not my mistake.

It’s taken a while for the truth to occur to me and I guess it’ll be a while for me to actually change, but realisation is a good thing, so I’m glad. Hard work implies we got to stay committed to the work at hand for a long time , making some necessary sacrifices but never compromising on devotional time and family/friends time. The results may not start appearing as soon as we want them to but we ought to remember that hard work is not just about a good start but also about keeping at it.

Vik Muniz-Brazilian artist, photographer, sculptor
Vik Muniz-Brazilian artist, photographer, sculptor

It is also important not to beat ourselves up when we don’t end up being the best. The concept of being the best is so illusional these days. We should work to be “our best” not “the best”. Sometimes our best will earn us the “the best” status but sometimes our best may not be good enough in the sight of others. The real challenge is to better “our best” from time to time. In the process, just DO NOT burn yourself out. One step at a time works pretty fine 🙂

Live by this!
Live by this!

Saying is one thing, doing another! If you’ve been a slacker or a procrastinator like me, then it’s going to be a tough battle trying to turn from your ways. This is where a change in perspective steps in. Not all of us are where we want to be doing what we want to do. Some of us have been forced to settle in a place different from the one in our dreams. So it makes it all the more harder for us to love the job or work given to us and give it our best shot. But let me tell you, if you’ve surrendered your life to God, then you can be sure that you’re where He wants you to be and there’s a purpose behind it. So we need not see our work as just “work” anymore , but as a way to serve God and tell Him that you are okay with His plan. This gives us peace and happiness, more importantly, contentment.

col3-23So hang on, work hard, and smile, for tomorrow comes the song! 🙂

There is something else that takes time. Click here to know what it is.

There’s more to it than what meets the eye


When in school, our English paper had an exercise called Proverb Expansion. We will be  given a proverb which we’ll have to explain and add an illustration to. It was one of my favourite things to do in English class. As I was an avid reader of short stories back then, I could write a story for almost any proverb and my illustrations were much appreciated by my teachers.

We are usually given a few sample solved exercises which included common proverbs like Look before you leap, Knowledge is power etc. One other such proverb was “Appearances are deceptive”. The illustration given to us was about a man who looked like a decent young fellow but at the end proved to be a thief. I remember wondering back then, why it couldn’t be the other way round.

A couple of events over the past month have proved to me that it truly works the other way round too.

We always tell ourselves not to judge people. We never openly judge them. But sometimes when we see someone a picture gets painted in our minds even before we get to know them. And that affects how we see the person ,which is not far from judging.

He sings in the choir. A college student or so I heard. There’s also something else I heard, that he was an arrogant person who knows not to respect elders. I don’t know this person, but still when I see him, this is the only thing that comes to my mind. After years of carrying this preconceived idea, I finally came to know more about him and his family. He is a super talented guitarist. A hard worker. As if this is not enough for me to respect him, there’s something else- After all these years, their family recently adopted a little girl and is raising her. This boy I speak of holds his sister so dear and takes care of her like she means the world to him. When I saw this, all those mental pictures of him just vanished. Totally. And I realised how wrong I was to tag him as so and so even before I knew the real him. Okay, so now, the lesson was setting in.

Those sure are deceptive!
Those sure are deceptive!

But I guess God wanted me to learn the lesson all over again.

She was a mother of two. I see her in church all the time. She’s very stylish, definitely not like any other mom at church. She acquits herself confidently but somehow she came off to me as being haughty. For years, that’s the opinion I had of her. One day I sat next to her during the church service. The chair became crowded, 4 people can be housed comfortably, but that day there were 5. My elbow would hit her at times. I was quite nervous that she was going to show her “attitude” but surprisingly she turned and smiled as I apologised. I was amazed. And stayed amazed as I observed the way she worshiped. And then “the light bulb over the head” moment. This was God’s “Appearances are deceptive” illustration to me.

Then and there I asked God to help me to have an open heart when I see someone. Not to hold “ideas” of a person before getting to know them. Even if they are what they look like, why should that affect how I see them.?Maybe there’s an untold story. A painful past. We never know. All I’m asked to do is love my neighbours as I love myself. Nothing else matters.

appearancesThere are few more posts here on what others think about judgement. You might want to check them out.

Waking up my inactive blog!


Hello there. When those few who follow my blog get a post notification in their reader or their mailbox, there is a good chance that they are going to go, “There was a blog named Encounter? When did I start following that?” Well, that is because my blog has been dormant for the past four months. Yeah I know, that’s a long time!

Blogging is all bout reading and writing. Though I’ve been ridiculously behind on my writing part, I have been enjoying all the joys that the reading part has to offer. Discovered wonderful blogs and read some of the best posts in the last few days. A cup of tea and a blog- just the right recipe for happiness!

I started keeping a journal and I’m always writing stuff there, so that’s the reason why I didn’t miss writing in my blog, ‘coz otherwise I can never ever stay away from writing this long! Also, so many things have happened over the past months,really, so many that at times I felt like it’s too much to take in, but folks, I survived and am better than ever! There are a myriad of things that I’ve learnt and realised. So, I decided, sharing some of them with you would be the perfect wake up post for my blog! 🙂

The first and the most important thing that I learnt is to accept failure. And that was hard, very hard. Doesn’t mean that I’ve never ever faced failure in my life and this was my first, but this time,it did affect me in ways like never before. I couldn’t accept it for one, and I couldn’t accept myself after that. The only thing that helped me out of it was alone time. I would talk to myself, cry to myself, and then kneel down and cry to God. I had been depressed once, so I was very careful to not enter into that stage again. I didn’t want to lose it. And, I didn’t. I wanted to learn from the failure and not die from it. After hours and hours of remorse, suddenly, in a moment, I chose to get up and be strong. Even I don’t know how that happened, but it did. But I was also very careful to tell myself that accepting failure, doesn’t mean I should get used to it. I should accept it, but not go numb. I realised I could actually use failure to drive myself to be better. But easily failure could drive you to think that’s how it is and things can’t be changed. Don’t be deceived.

failure

I also learned that faith is not just for the good times, but for the bad times too. It is so very easy to have faith when things are going well, when you have done good and the sail is smooth. But that’s just not what faith is about. As the NIV version of Hebrews 11:1 puts it, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Yeah, even when we do not see hope ahead, we need to have faith. Even when everything fails, we need to have faith. I have seen some use the phrase “blind faith”, but faith itself means blindly believing, hoping,trusting and most of all, resting in confidence.

first_step

I learnt to smile, AT ALL TIMES. Not just smile to hide the pain, but smile from the bottom of my heart. That takes a lot of courage. I made a commitment a month ago to stay calm and just smile when things aren’t going well and to dress up and show up even when I don’t want to. I succeeded in doing so in class. Before this commitment, I used to keep a long face when something isn’t right with me and people who see me will be able to guess that I’m having a bad day. But for the past three weeks or so, I’ve been able to forget everything and keep calm. That actually helped me sought things out faster and better.But  I’ve not been able to follow that at home, I start losing temper easily. I think maybe I’m taking it for granted the fact that I’m accepted at home no matter how I behave, but that has to change, and I sure am trying my best.

Happy

I believe all of us have those two or three places, those groups of people, around whom we always feel small, inferior and that we don’t measure up. I used to blame those people for making me feel that way, but a lot of thought made me realize that if I feel small around someone, then it’s my fault , not theirs. How easily we blame others! It’s really very important to have confidence in self. I never used to believe in myself when I was younger. When I grew up I started believing in God and in turn His purposes. I am one of His purposes. That realisation made me change by leaps and bounds. You may not measure up in certain things, not “good enough” according to worldly standards, but to God, you are perfect, a being who was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and He has a great great plan for you!

stand_tall

Sometimes I look at achievers, I look at success stories and go ,” Why does it come so easily to them and not me? Everything they touch, turns into gold, but I’m not able to excel in atleast  one thing. Why such injustice?” Yeah, that’s how it seems on the outside, but we never really know what the person had to go through, we never really know. Maybe it actually did come easily to them, but why does it have to discourage me? This is again about faith in self and faith in God’s doing.And also in His timing. This reminds me of the parable of the talents. (Matthew 25:14-30) Surely God has given us gifts. To stand around and wait for opportunities to find us makes no sense. I need to go out there, start trying things, and only when I multiply my talents , will God bless me with more. So the time spent in standing amazed at others, can actually be spent in fine tuning our talents! Let others’ achievements inspire you and not discourage you!

best_of_everything

So yeah, here comes the end of the year!! Just two months to go!!! I’m incredibly happy about all that life had to offer me this year, and who knows, there may  still be more in store! Prepared to embrace life! 🙂 I’m leaving you all with this video which inspired me a lot.