Father’s Reflection

Looking at the cracked boundary wall of my society’s compound, I sit by the window, bathing in the mustard yellow morning that gleans through it. And while the tea does calm the nerves, it doesn’t stop me from peeping into my past. Much like the cracked boundary wall, through which pass an occasional crawler, the boundary walls of a few much-cherished chapters of my life begin to give way to memories.

The first few years of life are a little too few, too soon to expect anyone to correctly memorize the place of warts on their parents’ faces. Yet I remember seeing one on my father’s right cheek. I was also a serial convict of pressing it like a button. The wart had a rubbery texture to it, and I could see its rounded edges contract and expand as I pushed it with my little fingers. Little must those fingers be, for my father’s seemed to be bloated and huge in comparison to mine.

Similar to the wart, I’d also press the veins that protruded on his fingers. I never stopped doing it; he never complained. He would crush me into a smoothie with his embrace when we would lie down under a blanket during winters. I must have been four years old, then. Maybe even three. I watched a lot of Cricket with him.

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This is before he developed that wart.

Fast forward to today, these tatters of the once perfectly woven fabric of alive, afresh moments cloak my naked soul, speak for my inner self, and tie me umbilically to my roots. Within this passage of time, however, I have also realized why embracing my daughter is so familiar and satisfying. It has the same warmth of selfless, unconditional love.

Amongst the few memories I have of my father—Baba, as I called him—none matches the finesse in his voice when he sang and whistled to the songs sung by Talat Mehmood Sahab. How valuable was the whole panoply of the songs! The natural vibrato, the depth, and the bass-heavy endnotes in his voice have etched their presence down the memory lane. (Here’s one of my father’s all-time favorites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHs3O4f516I)

But I don’t think I can face even a small percentage of the challenges he had overcome. I lost him to kidney failure before I had turned seven. The first seven years of my parents’ marriage had yielded them three kids, and countless Carrom and Billiards trophies—Baba was a champion of almost all indoor games. The last seven years of their married life had had them through pressing times.

My mother told me once how both of them went to the government rationing shop for a name-change procedure. Baba, foreseeing a short life, sought a change in the name of the head of the family to my mother’s name. He had the willpower to face destiny. He struggled for life for six or seven long years, each of which he spent showering his love upon all four of us.

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I think I look a lot like him.

Of all that’s childhood, stepping into father’s shoes or wearing his tie or coat, all of that, was only the logical sub-steps to how I wished to be like him—there is so much that my heart says, yet my expository writing can’t put into words. Within these years, I’ve come to grow a mustache that is as thick as his. And even if I might have come to look and sound like him, I’d still want to match up to his self-belief and will power. Those few things, as my mother told me once, differentiate cubs from tigers.

I realize, a fruit-bearing tree perched quite comfortably by the compound wall. The tea tastes better. It is past seven—rise and shine.

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And Memoirs!

Memoir writing is as easy as accepting what made you you.

If there is anything lesser difficult, it is admitting to your mistake when you haven’t committed any. But life throws surprises and shocks at you. Which is what brings forth this series. On the surface, what looks like a recollection of the countless moments that make up life, each moment has a life of its own. These cherished moments, put together, are more than their sum called life.

An account of what I recall as history, my history, is what I cover through this series of posts. I can hardly blame anyone for anything that has happened to me. No one can. No one should. We would be at fault if we were to look at our past with regrets, guilts, or shame. It is despicable of us to blame our destiny for everything that made us us. If anything, we must accept everything as a part of our lives—if it were easy, like I mentioned in the beginning. Every new experience has brought with it a lesson that made me my better version.

A memoir is a bellwether that signals the arrival of storms of recollections; it is the lighthouse that witnesses tsunamis that unearth gems of wisdom from the depths of the past.

But I wish the memoirs to enable you to look at me beyond the boundaries of bone and flesh. Everything I’d henceforth share as memoirs would be dear-to-the-heart, thick-and-textured experiences. I wish the memoirs to:

  • Be natural: Show complexities of emotions and relationship
  • Be human: Show vulnerabilities and imperfections
  • Be impactful: Leave you with a message in a friendly but an affirmative way

Only then will each memoir smell unquestionably myself. Its whiff will fill the air around me with an aroma of warmth. It will break the time barriers by teleporting me into a familiar world of emotions. I will then be looking back, moving forward, and yet standing still.

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Ever Neglected. Never Neglected.

The teeming thoughts.
The cavalcade of words,
Both old and new.
That, which brings me back to life anew.

The vibrant imagination.
The kaleidoscopical memory.
The artistic renditions.
That’s awarded to but few.

The waif, in this case,
The writing and the muse.
The lore, the telling, the cure.
That desperation profuse.

The simplicity. The awe.
The determination. The jigsaw.
The striking of just the right cords.
That music. Listen, dear, that’s the cue.

The perceptions. Love and geniality.
The drumming, thumping, parading reality.
Despite despair; nothing being new.
That, which comes from within, is but You.

©Suyog Ketkar

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Working from Home: A Revelation

The outbreak of coronavirus has impacted millions of lives throughout the world. A lot of people and their lifestyles have experienced many changes, both big and small. For me, too, the outbreak has not only changed my place of work but a lot more than that. Yet, this post is far more than just a rant.

  • Given that my new workplace is only a room away, I reach the office on time.
  • My consumption of tea/coffee has reduced considerably.
  • I have become better at multi-tasking.
  • I get to choose what to suggest (and, sometimes, cook) for dinner.
  • We have an early lunch and an early dinner. Sometimes, we skip the dinner in favor of a relatively lighter meal.
  • I have begun experimenting with other hobbies, like writing, cooking, sketching. I even sit with my kid to draw and paint—her favorite hobby for this month.
  • We devote some more time to our families; We speak to our parents and relatives more often. We invest extra time with them to ensure that they are safe and sound.

The biggest revelation, however, is that it brought forth what years of married life could not: we stand by each-other. Ever since day one, it helped us rediscover, relive the feelings that became buried under a load of managing relationships, paying bills, and bringing up a kid.

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How does writing make you a better person?

This post is a reply to the question someone recently put on Quora. The question was, “how does improving your writing skills help you grow as a person?

We learn reading and writing in the early years of our lives. Like every other thing, we continue to polish it as we grow old. Despite that, only a few of us take to writing even as a daily chore, forget as a profession. Let me tell you, of the things that make us better at who we are or what we do, writing constitutes a more significant share than it currently enjoys. Here’s why I say so:

Clarity of Thoughts

Writing is tiring. First, words don’t strike. When they do, thoughts don’t always weave in perfectly. And, even if we have a smooth fabric of views, we think we do not have any new ideas to share with people around. This insecurity adds to the already long list of impediments.

We forget that we don’t share only thoughts and ideas. We share the way of sharing: the way we communicate. So long as we are clear on what we wish to express, and how to convey it, we can have an attractive style of writing. But, will this suffice? Let me bring another point.

Mental Control

You could be clear about what or how to communicate, but the moment you sit down to write, your thoughts vanish like they weren’t even there. It happens to every writer; it’s happened to me, too. The deal, here, is to hold on to the thought until you pen it down. But writing isn’t easy. It takes time and practice, both of which bring me to the next point.

Persistence is the Key

Not all great/famous writers were born with their talent. None become who they are overnight. They endure a time-taking journey before they reach an attractive piece of writing. The path isn’t easy to walk. Writers fail every day. They make little progress. There are days when they don’t proceed even a single step. Still, they continue to write every day. They choose to persist as long as they don’t end up creating likable work.

Being Someone Else

Your written work takes the reader into the world of your characters. Readers get to live someone else’s experience, at different times, amongst people not known before, and in the situations that they have never faced before. You take them there. You give them the chance to be someone else, even though for only some time. But, to be able to do that, first, you must be that someone else. You must live their life. You must undergo the same situations and face the same challenges. You must confront the same people. All of that, while sitting at your desk. While completing your daily chores. You must feel the pain your protagonist might feel at the loss of their loved ones. You must feel equally desperate to set things right before writing about it. And only then will your readers share the same feelings.

Imagine this.

You are sitting in a coffee shop. You go there every day. But, today, you are the only one in the shop. So, you get to choose where to sit. You select a chair by the side of the window.

As you sit, you realize that there is a lot that’s happening on the other side of the window. A couple is walking their baby in a pram. A hawker is calling for prospects. A man who is perched by the roadside is reading a newspaper. Another couple is walking, their hands locked. A shopkeeper is cleaning the display window. A girl on her bicycle passes by your window. Her cycle cart has a kitten who is enjoying that ride. Just then, you happen to look up to see a bird’s nest near the canopy on the porch—home to two tiny birds—in the middle of a busy street.

You are merely an observer. Yet, from that perspective, you can imagine what each one of them might be thinking—even the tiny birds that haven’t yet learned to fly.

Being someone else is that easy; being someone else is that difficult.

With that, we are back to the question. I wish you to think of all of this in totality. It isn’t easy to register the changes at such micro-levels. It isn’t easy either to feel what others feel. Or, be persistent at something even after failing at it umpteen number of times. In the long run, it does make you considerate towards others. You feel their pain. It also makes you think and weigh your words before you use them. Writing, I conclude, makes me think more, feel more, see more, and make more from every moment.

What do you think?

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Product Review: Ather 450

Today, while taking a stroll around my office campus, I had a chance to ride and review the Ather 450. Although I wished to get my hands to the more exciting and sporty Ather 450X, the experience with the smaller sibling—Ather 450—was promising.

Mahesh Gaikwad, who had traveled from their Bengaluru office, assisted us with the information. Ather 450 is a battery-operated two-wheeler with a riding capacity of up to 85 kilometers (the company claims 116 kilometers), including the pillion rider. The information intrigued my colleague, Rushabh Shah, and me. So, we chose to inquire further, which lead to this post.

The low center of gravity, the 20.9Nm torque, the mono-shock suspension, and the 51:49 weight ratio give the “super scooter” a pleasant riding experience. The ride experience is on par with, perhaps even better than, the four-stroke 125CC motorcycle that I ride to the office every day.

The specifications are enough, and given that the ride performance is subjective, I am sure that either version of the scooter will please most prospects.

It has 22 liters of storage capacity, which I think is ample enough for my requirements. The motor quickly revs to the commands of the rider, should you choose the Sports mode. The other two modes, Ride and Economy, are sufficient for city riding. The back seat is comfortable, and the acceleration/deceleration is confidence-inducing. Both versions of the scooter come with Bybre disk brakes. The only sound you get from the scooter is confirmation ping, which confirms the ignition, and later, of the belt’s interaction with the under-seat motor.

The smart design of the scooter conceals the battery under your feet, and the motor between the mono-shock and the seat. The battery is IP67 rated, and the digital display is IP65 rated, which I think was a handy addition. You can ride through water-clogged streets without worrying too much about the battery. The side stand is sleek and easy to pull out. Although I missed the main-stand, but it isn’t there for apt reasons—no one uses it and it would have impacted the battery connections.

Ather 450 comes with a digital display that runs on Linux. It comes with in-built e-SIM technology that uses a bunch of sensors for navigation and ride information, which is synced to cloud. So, the ride behavior and analytics will also be available. Ather 450X, on the other hand, has a display that runs on Android OS. So, Bluetooth connectivity will also be there on it.

The buttons and controls on the scooter had a nice feedback and operating them while riding did not pose any issues.

Pune will be the third city, after Bengaluru and Chennai, where the scooter will be available. But, the good thing is, the company plans to launch the brand in 9 other cities, too. In the time when all of us are registering cognizance of the efficiency and caring for the environment, getting to see such promising “Made in India” products is a positive omen.

The scooter comes with a three year, unlimited kilometers warranty. You can book it in Pune right now, but the deliveries will only begin by September. The production is in full swing. So, the company hopes to deliver on its promise.

With electric, hybrid, and other innovations surely looking like the possibilities of the future, hands-on experience with a scooter from the future was certainly pleasing. I look forward to seeing more of these pass by me until the time I am ready to join the bandwagon. As of today, the future looks bright and electrifying. Or should I say electric?

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