Friday, 24 June 2022

The Magical world of Motivational Strips


Eschewing nonsense, just focusing

on literature, loving it,enjoying it, immersing in it

no room for tension, just friendly hands

motivating,encouraging & supporting each other!

This then, is the magical world of MS

anyone and everyone sans bias

from any part of the world

get noticed, appreciated, celebrated

in this lovely garden of MS!

Having recognized,motivated, showcased members

MS now seeks new talent, nurturing seeds for the future

from among school kids!

what next? who knows?

persistently on the path of innovation

with ideas new and fresh always is MS

unique, one of its kind! 

NB: I composed this poem on the occasion of the 4th anniversary of the worldwide on line literary group Motivational strips


Thursday, 23 June 2022

The Second Innings - Book Review


"The Second Inings" authored by Neerja Bhatnagar discusses in detail the challenges associated with life after 60, when you have retired and still have a fairly long innings of life. A few decades back, life expectancy was a lot less and many people bid goodbye to this world  within a  few years of retirement. These days with better medical facilities a person can hope to live for another twenty years. This means he or she needs to be prepared in terms of a number of factors, be it financial independence or emotional stability to smoothly face the 'second innings' of life. 

In this connection Neerja's book discusses aspects such as planning for retirement, appropriate eating including the inclusion of  'super foods packed with many nutrients in one's diet, dealing with the generation gap, tips for remaining mentally and physically fit , health insurance plans,  preparing for death including making a will,  having a "Senior safe home" and information on Government initiatives and schemes available for senior citizens. 

What I loved most about the book is that it gives sufficient tips to ensure that your life after 60 is engaging and exciting by taking care of the various aspects that particularly the senior citizens have to contend with. As for example in chapter 4, the author discusses in detail about the importance of "Bone health" as you age. Often, this subject does not get its due importance while dicussing health issues. The author has suggested incorporating vital vitamins and minerals like calcium into one's diet. She has also given tips to help keep 'forgetfullness' at bay, dealing with depression and the importance of expressing gratitude.  I also liked her  suggestion to share the areas of  your expertise with your partner so that he/she will have "the basic knowledge to deal with it" when you have left for your heavenly abode.

As a senior citizen myself, the first 8 chapters for me were breezy and inspirational while the latter was instructional. The initial chapters were heady and spoke of the possibilities and even gave links to how senior citizens have made a mark at ages 80 and 90 plus. The author also mentions the English movie "The intern" in which protagonist rejoins corporate as an employee long after retirement and makes a mark. I could relate to this as I had loved the movie when first released and had even written a poetic review of it in my blog ( ) . There is some Sound advice in the book on accepting and giving recognition to the younger generation so as to win their interest and engagement. There is also advice to give up the habit of being a 'constant complainer'.

The chapter on "Being independant in Golden Years" exhorts the reader to be practical and take help wherever required like cleaning a ceiling fan. It also gives tips like timing (Smart watch tracking) your daily physical activity, engaging in mental activities such as taking classes for students, learning a new skill, being social since friends keep us young and volunteering for social causes. As I was reading the first half of the book, I was feeling elated. I was patting myself on my back on the belief that I was already doing the right things after retirement through blogging and other activities. 

However, as I came to the latter half , I realized that lot of practical matters needed to be attended to such as having good and suitable insurance plans, ensuring bank nominations, writing a will, modifications in the house that may be necessary to make it safe for senior citizens as you age. The latter half also discusses how the modern gadgets like a smart phone and Echo show (Smart gadget with built in Alexa) can be be a big help in eliminating loneliness among the elderly. 

Finally, I would like to suggest that some of the inspirational tone and tenor in the first part of the book can be incorporated  appropriately in the latter part to alleviate a pall of gloom that a reader may experience of the impending sickness, loneliness, depression and death. In the early part of the book, links have been shared to inspirational stories of senior citizens like Ravi Bala Sharma ( Dance dadi & internet senzation), Harbhajan Kaur ('Besan ki barfi' entrepreneur at 90) and Poonam Sapru (  signs/messages of motherly wisdom on Instagram). A couple of such motivational stories could be included in the latter part of the book  with a suggestion that adhering to the tips discussed in the book in terms of health and motivation would ensure a zestful life and keep at bay loneliness and depression.

To sum up " The Second Innings" holistically covers all aspects and challenges that senior citizens face post their formal years of work. As a senior citizen, I for one, would keep it at arms distance as a short reference manual to consult for 'anything'  that may come up. I would recommend it to all my friends and readers similarly placed as also to everyone who has a loved one who is a senior citizen.  

NB: (1) This review is part of the Blogchatter's E book carnival. You can download the book for free here

(2) My book " 26 Verses and 26 Prose notes on 26 Lofty Topics" is also part of the carnival: can  Access  here. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Life Perspective and Experiences: Interview with an Argentinian Student


Preamble: During my visit to Australia, I learnt that my younger son Tarun had as housemates youngsters who had come from other countries like Argentina, Mexico and Japan on a student visa. Apart from studying, they supported themselves by taking up part time jobs. My curiosity was aroused and I felt that an interview would be an opportunity to know more about another country as also the circumstances under which they chose to come to Australia. In this regard, it was a pleasure for me to interview Juan Cruz from Argentina who is pursuing a bachelor's degree in digital design. 

Argentina is a country in the southern half of South America. It is the largest Spanish speaking nation in the world by area. It has a population of 45.38 million. At one time held among the top 10 rich nations of the world, Argentina presently is a developing country with the second highest human development index (HDI) in Latin America after Chile.  

Rajeev Moothedath (RM):  It is a pleasure to meet you Juan Cruz and to have  this conversation with you. 

Juan Cruz (JC) : Thank you. It is a pleasure to meet you too. Looking forward to our interaction.  

RM:   At the outset, would you like to tell us a little about where you lived and grew up in Argentina? 

JC: I was born and brought up in Palermo, a neighbourhood of Buenos Aires situated in the north of the city. My father is a car consultant in a Japanese company and mom, a consultant in a HR consultancy firm that was founded by my maternal grandfather. 

RM:  which school did you go to? Could you share a little about your school life experiences?   

JC:  I studied at the St Xavier's school in Palermo. I was not particularly interested in the formal subjects taught in school like math and science. My interest was in music. Fortunately for me, we had some good teachers who  introduced me to music and art/ drawing. They encouraged study of  poetry, literature and learning of languages like English apart from Spanish. They introduced auditory learning with the focus on mimicking the new language. 

RM: Sounds interesting. How did you spend your free time back then in Argentina after school and in the weekends? 

JC: As I already mentioned, I loved music and spent around six hours everyday for practice. During the weekends, we went to parties- talked, chatted, listened to music and enjoyed barbecue!

RM: Did you have any difficulty in completing school, given your lack of interest in formal subjects? 

JC: Well, I took help including attending extra classes after school and passed the 12th grade equivalent in our country. I then enrolled for a  4 year advertising course but gave it up to pursue a job. I felt that further studies can be continued later in a foreign university.  I worked at the job for two years in an agro based company, assisting in designing the image of products for marketing department. 

RM: So, how and when did you decide to move to Australia and resume studies?   

JC:  I happened to meet and become friends with an Australian by name Jock, who basically hailed from the country side in Australia. We talked freely; he also visited my house and met my family.  Jock invited me to come down to Australia to work and study. I came to Australia on a student visa to do  B.A.Digital design which I would be completing in June next year. 

RM: So what jobs did you take up to support you during your stay in Sydney?  

JC: I worked at a gourmet food joint for one and half years and presently for about a year , I am working with a wine seller. In the present job, I get to manage time better and am able to find more time for studies.

RM: How would you describe Argentinians? What four things would you say is important to them? 

JC: Well, basically Argentinians are charismatic by nature. The problem is we also choose our political leaders  based on their charisma and not on their plans or ability to govern the country. As a result, our country is not doing very well unlike countries like Germany whose citizens are frugal, disciplined and know how to get their country to work. Presently, the people are angry because there is no money. 

The four things important to an Argentinian would be politics, foot ball, family and barbecue.   

RM: That is an interesting observation. What other information would you like to share about your country and country men?  

JC: Argentinians are inclusive and welcoming of people of other cultures who come and live in Argentina. However, after they have come, it is expected that they merge into the lifestyle and culture of the local people. Therefore, you will find that over a period of time many have taken Spanish names and adapted to the culture.

 In Argentina there is no dearth of good raw produce of  cattle, milk ,cheese and other related products. This means that we get quality, fresh food and we know how to cook our meat in a good, tasty manner. However, there is a homogeneity in the style of cooking with hardly any place for variety.  In Sydney,  on the other hand, with the intermingling of many cultures there is so much of variety! 

RM: Going forward, what are your future plans both professionally and personally? 

JC:  I am planning to complete my course and work in the area of design in any advertising company. I am also hoping to  get a work visa in two years time so that I can work in Australia. In the personal front, I seek to keep expanding my knowledge in terms of understanding life, have time for  my passion of music and guitar.  

RM:  Why is it that you prefer to work in Australia?  

JC:  As against the homogeneity in my own country, Australia gives exposure to a number of cultures, be it  domestic, European or Asian. It opens the possibilities to meet and learn more about diverse cultures which I value a lot. 

RM: In your present abode at Sydney, you have housemates from other countries and have had opportunity to taste their food as well. Which Indian food do you like the most and why? 

JC:  That is an easy question! I love the Indian  palak paneer and can eat any amounts of it at any time. I love its colour and texture; it is a humble yet tasty dish! 

RM: Now that is a wonderful way  to end this conversation. Thanks a lot Juan for your time and informative answers. We not only got to know a lot about you but your country as well! 

JC:  Thank you. I also thoroughly enjoyed this interaction.  

Friday, 17 June 2022

Book Review: Realized Inner Voice

After the  formal launch of the #Blogchatter Ebook Carnival on 13th June 2022, I downloaded quite a few books that I was interested in reading and "Realized Inner Voice" by Richa Newatia  was one of them.  The book interested me in terms of the title and the topics that it promised to touch  namely various aspects of life such as hurt, broken hearts, pretensions, being judgmental etc. It is purely by chance that the book was also chosen by the Blogchatter team for mandatory review. (Each author is expected to review two books- one chosen by the team and another of his/her own choice).   

As a reader, discussion on  various aspects of life and  introspecting on them interests me. Often times  poets are naturally attracted to nature, love  and romance. We also get to read poems on harsh realities like poverty or women's issues. Comparatively, less of poetry is written on the seemingly mundane day to day life or seeking insights about them. Therefore, my curiosity was aroused and I looked forward with anticipation to reading the book. 

At the outset I would like to compliment the author for choosing the topics such as "suffocating love" "simplicity in writing" "Making mistakes and learning from them rather than avoiding mistakes". It is obvious that she has an earnest desire to bring such topics to the table so that they are debated and discussed  for facilitating continuous improvement. Some of the ideas that I liked in the book include (1) Accepting human beings who are dark in colour in the same way you accept and enjoy dark "Chocolate ice cream" (2) While pedaling  your "cycle" to achieve life goals, you also need to check whether it is actually where you want to go lest it involves compromising on your inner peace of mind and (3) Simplicity in writing is to be welcomed and cherished rather than be apologetic about. "A blur of memories" is an insightful poem that exhorts you to not be bogged down by the 'sad', 'empty', 'broken' memories and that with time they will blur and fade away. 

At this stage of the review, it is necessary to appreciate the purpose of a review. while appreciating the good parts of a book , it is also necessary to discuss the areas of improvement so that the author can use the feedback effectively for the journey forward. It is observed that in most poems, prose sentences have been cut and placed as separate lines to give it an appearance of poetry.  As for example the poem "The mistake" would read thus if words were not split : " Is making a mistake right or wrong? No wrong in committing a mistake. But not accepting is wrong.And not trying to make it correct is wrong. Knowing the mistakes and repeating them is wrong."

 I was  also guilty of the above tendency while participating in the A2Z challenge this year when I had  set for myself  five line verse restriction for each topic. I  ended up writing long prosy lines to pack in the maximum possible in few lines.  To my mind,  the author can consider writing a longer book as this short book is barely able to touch the surface of topics that need a deeper understanding and articulation. Further, one could notice grammatical  and spelling errors that could have been avoided with a little more diligence and attention. 

The author would do well to write in prose rather than poetry. Further, perhaps writing in Hindi or a regional language that is more comfortable would enable the author to  more effectively articulate her ideas.  In her poem "Simple Writing" the author Richa Newatia makes some interesting points that I subscribe to completely. She says that "It is difficult to be simple"  and that what is important is expressing your 'unique' self and ideas. A matter of caution though is that  it is necessary  to have a good vocabulary and then choose to write 'simply' drawing appropriate words  from your repertoire . It is not about writing 'simple' because you do not know more words.   

I would like to conclude by wishing the author the very best in her writing journey.  It is clear that she has things to say that are meaningful and worthwhile and has an ardent desire to do so . Choosing the right medium and preparing adequately for the tasks and challenges ahead would stand her in good stead as she blossoms into her full potential as a writer. 

NB: (1) This review is part of the Blogchatter's E book carnival. You can download the book for free here. 

(2) My book " 26 Verses and 26 Prose notes on 26 Lofty Topics" is also part of the carnival: can  Access  here. 

Saturday, 11 June 2022

My E Book ”26 Verses And 26 Prose Notes on 26 Lofty Topics” published by Blogchatter to be Released on 13th June 2022


My E book ”26 Verses and 26 Prose Notes on 26 Lofty Topics” published by Blogchatter has been  released on 13th June 2022

 “26 Verses And 26 Prose Notes on 26 Lofty Topics” discusses 26 important topics that impact our day to day  life in a big way. The topics covered include aspiration, bliss, compassion, sleep, delight, money, winning, karma, trust and many more! It is written in an interesting format of five line verses on each of the topic followed by a brief note in prose. Readers can look forward to some deep insights from reading the book.

 NB: Readers can download the book for free for a limited period by logging into Blogchatter using their Google or face book account.

#Blogchatter Ebook   

You can log in to Blogchatter at the link given below to access the free books of the carnival and download for free.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Spring amongst Seasons

 In the ALS Perfprming Arts challenge for the third week of May 2022, on day 2, we were required to sing a regional song. I chose to sing  a Tamil song  rendered by P.B.srinivas in the 60s film "Paavamannippu" . The song written by veteran  lyricist Kannadasan is set to music by the celebrated duo  Vishwanathan- Ramamurthy.. 

I  have translated the song into English for the understanding pleasure of  friends not knowing Tamil.

She  is the sweet spring amongst seasons 

A Portrait/ painting amongst the arts 

she is the month of *Margazhi amongst the months 

and  lovely fragrant Jasmine amongst the flowers      ( she is..)   

Among birds, she is the  lovely dove

a lullaby amongst all forms of songs 

among fruits she is the queen Mango 

and cool breeze amongst flowing air  (She is.....)  

when it comes to smiling(like white  milk), she's a child

She, a young maiden when embracing the cool dew/fog 

when taking care, she's  like a mother 

oh dear,  she has now made me a poet!   (She is...)

* Margazhi is held a very auspicious month in the Tamil calendar for offering prayers (falls around early January)   

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Surma/ kajal filled eyes...

 In the ALS Perfprming Arts challenge for the first week of May 2022, on day 2, we were required to sing a regional song. I chose to sing  a Malayalam song from the 60s film "Khadeeja"  written by veteran  lyricist Yusuf Ali Kechery set to music by the inimitable M.S. Baburaj.! 

I  have translated the song into English for the understanding pleasure of my Non Malayali friends.

Oh surma  shaped eyes,  oh sunflowers

filled  and overflowing with sweet  sweet love! 

oh kajal filled  eyes.../ surma shaped eyes....

Why do you push aside the window curtains

and send / throw  a  net at me?

why do you send honey dipped arrows

straight into my heart...?           (Oh surma shaped eyes...  )

Hop on to the wings of  a  dream thought 

and come to me oh beloved

share with me the intoxication and music

of your lovely blue gaze...   (Oh surma shaped eyes...)

NB:   Surma is an ancient eye cosmetic which is  made by collecting soot (black ash , the burnt residue of either oil or ghee).