Women, the power of courage.

Until recently I was acquainted with only two left-handers in the female fraternity and both Bharghavi Akka and Amrita are dear cousins from my mother side of the family. But the unique trait of these two individuals is that they have a mixed-dominance in the change of hands between different tasks.

Unlike the dominant use of the right arm in every work executed by the right-handed people, my left-handed cousins easily interchange their hands depending on the errand, and that’s out of common in the world.

Yesterday I had an oppurtunity to travel in a Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation city bus number 507D. The route operates between Krishnarajapuram and Yelahanka Old Town, taking a traffic clogged Ramamurthy Nagar, Ring Road, Nagawara and Hegde Nagar circuit. This one-off journey offered me an oppurtunity to observe an usual task carried out in an uncommon approach and it was an amusing diversion in otherwise what turned out to be a long and tedious ride.

Last evening at 6.20 PM I got in to the bus at Krishnarajapuram, settled in my seat and looked around for the conductor to purchase the ticket. Since it was the originating station of the bus, very few passengers had occupied the seats. As the bus slowly rolled out from the dusty platform, a slender figure got in from the front door and immediately set out to issue the tickets.

The lady conductor was dressed in a standard khaki chudidar uniform, a cream coloured weather beaten leather bag dangled from her right shoulder and a automated ticketing machine was hanging from her lean neck. Except for a pair of small earrings, she was adorned with none of the jewellery or the makeup that has now become essential add on for the women of her young age.

Sporting such a deliberately unrefined outlook, she had consciously made herself look insipid in her man dominated surroundings. If she had to work her way through the preying eyes of the beast, it was essential for a woman of her occupation to stay natural and blend in the crowd. But what triggered my interest was not her natural beauty, instead it was the manner in which she was issuing the tickets that caught my eyes.

The lady was a left-hander and until last evening I had never spotted a left-handed conductor on any of the journeys in my 39 years of travel by buses.

As she approached my seat, I handed her a 50 rupee banknote and requested for a ticket to my destination. In one swift pull with her left hand, she seized the currency from my fingers, folded the note vertically in middle and neatly tucked it with other banknotes already crammed between her right hand middle and ring fingers. Following in quick succession, using her left hand she pulled out a two 10 rupee banknotes from the cash stack and passed the currency over to me. Subsequently, the lady opened the cash bag, rummaged with her left hand for a 5 and 1 rupee coin and neatly dropped the pair on my palm. These were the return changes that were due to me. In next second, using her right hand she grabbed the ticketing machine and with her skinny left hand forefinger, she punched the unlock key, hit the destination code and as soon as the details were printed, still continuing to use her left hand, the conductor ripped the paper in one tug and swiftly thrust the ticket in my hand.

The entire transition lasted about 10 seconds and before I had safely placed the ticket in my wallet, the lady was already collecting the cash from my neighbouring passenger.

The attentive quickness of a graceful lady, coupled with the use of her delicate left hand for a simple task of issuing the bus ticket had turned the whole affair in to a strangely captivating wizardry.

As the bus passed from one stop to the next, slowly the number of passengers increased inside the bus. At some point during the journey a large group of passengers got on to the bus and as all the seats were filled by now, most of them ended up standing in the aisle. While the conductor got busy issuing the tickets to new passengers, I got busy staring shamelessly at her left handed magic.

As I continued to stare at the brisk moves of a left hand, the conductor finished issuing the tickets and her arms were given a rest. Suddenly, I was aware of a pair of eyes watching me stare at someone else’s hands and I felt awkward. With a doubt, I slowly looked up and glanced at the conductor’s face. Her eyes were set firmly on me and promptly my face turned red with guilt.

As we looked at each other for a few brief seconds, we exchanged a soft smile, reliving me of the anxiety.

Except being stupid, today women do better at every job that was once meant only for the men and that’s the power of courage.

Happy Women’s Day.


The 27 Year Old Hairdo

4th February, 2018. Sunday.

It was a lazy Sunday morning and after a good night of sleep, I had got up without the need for any hurry. The Sun was shining through the Coconut palms swaying outside the window, but the air inside my room was cold. On the deserted street a hawker was shouting his wares, a dog barked somewhere in close vicinity and as I stood infront of the mirror looking at my lackadaisical image reflected on the glass, I groaned in disbelief.

My hair was terribly messed up after the prolonged sleep and if Kamala atte* had to see my mane in such a ghastly shape, she would have not liked it. As I continued to gape at my thatch in disbelief, I remembered a childhood incident that was partly instrumental in shaping my present-day facial image.

My present hairdo, a reminiscence from the summer of 1991

It was the middle of 1991, a year that marked the beginning of a decade which witnessed changes like no other decennium, before or after. During the ten years leading upto the new millennium, the government liberalized its economic policy and welcomed foreign investment. The notorious Licence Raj came to an end. Bulky computers with monochrome monitos started to appear in offices, there were new gadgets on shelves and the music from the movies started to sound better and more romantic. Every Friday as we witnessed more cinema releases than ever before, there were new Stars born and older heros started to slip further from our memories. The fashion trend changed from traditional to curious, the Coca Cola returned to India and sparked the infamous cola war. As a whole new digital generation was added to cradles each day, the working woman became a norm in every urban household.

It was early June and I was on a summer vacation. Free from the grinding routine of my residential school in Shyampur near Bhopal, I was enjoying the holidays at Bhagya atte‘s home in Mysore.

By the summer of 1991 I had already spent six months away from Karnataka, the State in which I was born and lived since birth. During the days spent in Madhya Pradesh, except for the feeling of being in the same Nation, I felt isolated from the culture that surrounded me for fourteen years.

In my new State of residence, the communication language was Hindi in which I had little proficiency. Unlike Karnataka, the climate in Madhya Pradesh was harsh with prolonged winters and dry summers. The way elderly dressed was different in its shape and style, the shops sold alien savouries and sweetmeats. The people in the rural surroundings of Bhopal had faces that were fair in complexion, sharp in features and a body frame that looked physically malnourished and weak compared to that of the people from Karnataka.

In central part of India, the food was completely opposite to that of South Indian States – at home the core of my diet was rice, but in Madhya Pradesh it was replaced with wheat. In Karnataka we had pakoda* as evening tea time snack and halwa* as an festive sweet treat, whereas in my residential school these were part of the regular breakfast menu.

Throughout the day when life was surrounded in such remarkable unfamiliarity, it was easy for an fifteen year old ninth grader to get influenced and cultivate new habbits. Similarly, with each passing day, I started to enjoy the company of my new friends and within few months I was able to decipher and converse the unaccustomed dilect. The food which tasted strange a few weeks ago turned out to be delicious and as I ended up watching more Hindi movies, I realized the existence of a young Bollywood diva called Divya Bharathi. But there was one key element that influenced me the most and it’s the hairdo of my schoolmates.

My schoolmates from Shyampur, near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh during 1991/92

Many of my classmates, teachers and people I met during my days at Shyampur sported a hairstyle that was novel to me. Unlike today, during my growing up years the South Indian men styled their hair in a particularly widespread method – they neatly parted it from one side. But at my residential school in Madhya Pradesh many parted their hair from the middle and for a curious teenager, it was strangely good looking.

Within few months after reaching Shyampur, I had abandoned my side parted hairstyle and adopted a new middle path. It looked more natural in my new settings and I liked how my hair waved from the middle.

Back at Bhagya atte’s home in Mysore during the 1991 summer vacation, one particular morning I had finished taking bath and dressed up infront of the mirror. Following the customary buffing of the talcum powder, I picked up a comb and got ready to groom my hair. As I was about to part my hair from the middle, Kamala atte walked in to the room.

Standing next to my fifteen year old skeletal figure, Kamala atte gently turned me towards her and took the comb from my hand. Drawing the comb through the still moist hair, she tenderly patted on the scalp and straightened the hair towards my forehead.

As I silently stood with closed eyes and stiff neck, holding my chin with her one hand Kamala atte rearranged my hair, parting it from the left side. In a brief second she had crossed out the center parting from my scalp and given my hair a new styling from the old days. When she had finished grooming my hair, Kamala atte handed me the comb and walked out of the room as silently as she had walked in; and in those few minutes while she had styled my hair, there was not a single word spoken between us.

As I checked my reflection on the mirror, my neatly arranged hair with the side parting had enhanced my looks much better than when my mane was divided from the middle.

In last 27 years, on many a occasions I have had my hair trimmed millimeter short and few times I have even had my head neatly shaved. But whenever my hair was long enough to be styled with a parting, I have always tried it the way Kamala atte did it in the summer of 1991.

*Atte – Your father’s sister, either the younger or the elder by age.
*Pakoda – A fried snack.
*Halwa – A soft sweet confectionery.

The Toughest Battle, The Sweetest Win!

Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody”
– Mark Twain

It was the toughest battle I had fought and it was a fight against the most brutal enemy I had ever faced. Strangely, it was a war within; a duel I had dared with my own dark evil side, and hoped to win.

If my villainous side had triumphed in the crucial conflict, I was to lose the very core of my soul. And if my upright faction in my mind was to finish first by slaying the brute in me, then I was destined to be the ultimate winner. But either case, I was right in the middle of a ‘mother of all wars’!

The feud between my two conflicting sides was brewing for over a year, and in last few months my mind had turned into a bloodied battlefield like I had never witnessed before. Since the beginning of 2018, there was a strong urge in me to go berserk and destroy every damn thing that cared to get within my reach. But at the same time, every so often I heard a soft whisper emanating from the depths of my confused mind, warning me not to be a fool.

As the days turned in to weeks, the evil in me started to turn more into a shamelessly opportunistic hyena to win the battle. But the good part of me never grew beyond a terribly plain jackass, and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

After trying months with numerous tricky propositions to drag me from the influence of a crooked part of my self, the good squad within my intellect came up with a dubious suggestion – get on a train with nothing but one song.

Suddenly, I heard a villainous laugh somewhere within me!


As I stepped onto a train decked with dark red and blue livery, the devil in me laughed with a hint of tease, clearly taunting my intention. But I decided to walk in and take a chance. I was hopelessly tired and I desperately wanted the melee in mind to cease.

Getting in to the sparsely filled coach, I walked around with a hestitating gaze, narrowed down a window seat and rested with a sigh. Taking out the mobile phone, I plugged in the earphones, opened the music application, selected that one song my righteousness had chosen and clicked on the play button.

Immediately, I felt disoriented. The song my morally upright fraction had chosen was loaded with something I had not expected, it was a befuddling dope!

As the song started to play, with increasingly soft jolts the scenery outside my window started to transform from the busy city life to that of a tranquil rural hymn. With each passing mile, the song in my ears started to unfurl in unhurried loop. As one replay followed the next, a slowly engulfing ardour emitted from within my heart and hugged me in a tender warmth. It was nothing like I had ever experienced, and it was strangely intoxicating.


The journey lasted six hours, the song looped for six hours and I was afloat for six hours in a passionate rage – the six hours of cold-blooded ravage in which I did nothing but chase, confront and slay every devil hiding within the deepest corners of my mind.


After twelve months of self inflicted moratorium, today I’m in position to do something I love the most – to put my mind in to words with ease.

Her Maiden Glide!

​Sitting on the edge of an outstretched boulder, she peered down the deep valley and from somewhere far below the cliff, she heard her mother’s cheerful calls. Focusing sharply on the sound and narrowing her vision, she tried to map the vast expanse streched ahead. The distant horizon looked unending, and welcoming.

Since the day she was born, she was looking forward for this moment. The very first time she had seen her father take the leap off the edge, she was spellbound and today it was her turn to conquer the heights.

She was not nervous, but her tiny legs were shaking in anticipation. Her mind was focused and with a natural instinct flowing through her veins, she jumped off the cliff and spread her fresh wings.

The sudden gush of wind on her feathers lifted her up, and she immediately felt weightless. Beating her wings for the first time, she soared high, loudly called for her mother and from somewhere far below, she heard the delighted reply.

The Sun was shining bright and the afternoon sky was clear. She kept her head stright, looked ahead, channeling the breeze across her gleaming cheeks. Slowly, she climmed up in circles and when she reached far above the hills, she stopped flapping her wings, allowing the warm air to help her glide.

As she flew, far ahead the Earth seemed to merg with the unknown in a large curve. Surprised, she looked down and as far and wide as her young eyes could see, she saw the world in a new perspective. The huge valley was now a scratch on the land, the trees were one large green canvas and the mighty pond was just a puddle. The hills looked beaten, a hazy mist covered the landscape and except for the soft whistling sound of the wind, all she heard was the silence of the skies; and for the first time, she felt at home.

The man and his speaking trees!

He was out in the woods since daybreak and as he aimlessly wandered among the thickets, he sensed a lethal hush slowly descend from the dense canopy.

This was not the first time that he had ventured in to the forest. Ever since his wife was found dead hanging inside their home, the only place where he got solace was in the dark jungles.

He was poor, he had no kids, he wore tattered clothes, he hardly ate, none of the relatives cared for him and the only friends that he considered his were the trees in the forest. On many a occasions, people had seen him standing close to the trunk, looking high up through the branches and mumbling in strange words, as if having a serious conversation with the trees.

Today as he stepped deeper into the jungle to meet his best friend, a large peepal tree that grew next to a creek, he could sense that something was not alright around him. Since midday the birds had stopped chirping, winds had died and many herds of deer that he usually saw hanging about in the shades were missing.

Surrounded in such strange silence, for the first time his mind strated to feel uneasy among the trees. With every step he took, he gradually started to hear strange noices float through the bushes and when he waved through the knee deep stream, he could feel something following close behind him, something he dared not to turn back and look.

Slowly as the dread overtook his senses, he started to move faster. Rushing past each tree, he looked at them with imploring eyes, as if begging for help and when he got closer to the creek, he began to run towards his best friend, the large peepal tree.

No one has heard or seen him since that strange afternoon and people believe that he is still living happily among his friends, the trees with which he could converse.