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What Italy Taught Us

The cobblestone road that let millions  walk on its uneven, hand-laid stones for centuries also allowed us to tread on them. The feeling was surreal.  Michelangelo, Casanova, Bernini, the Popes, prisoners, lovers, criminals and sages had left invisible footprints on them.

Inhaling deeply and feeling the charisma of old world charm around us, we walked in a narrow alley close to the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Out of nowhere came an SUV, speeding towards us. Our first thought was that someone had made a mistake and was driving where driving wasn’t allowed. We quickly aligned ourselves with the stone walls to avoid being hit, but to our dismay a Vespa came from the opposite direction and both the vehicles crossed each other simultaneously and managed to not even touch us. We were relieved and fascinated. Struck by the smallness of the alley, the carefree attitude of the drivers and our own acceptance of the whole scenario, we walked on. We were loving the MAYHEM.

Amid the fumes of the vehicles, the chatter of the tourists and the insistent calls of the vendors, we sat down for our first meal in Italy, on tables that spilled into the narrow alleys. We were surprised as to how little space do we actually need and how we are used to spreading out in the US. When our meal came, we noticed the difference in portion sizes. Are we served like we are giants back home? The portions were small but when we were done, we felt they were just enough for us. Not a morsel wasted or stuffed. Food was flavorful and did not come with any sides. Adequate seemed to be the norm. Another norm was bottled water. “Still or sparkling,” we were asked everywhere. Tap water wasn’t a choice.

Also noticeable was the presence of fear of the boss. The man at the reception in the Venice hotel was scared to death to call the hotel manager when we asked to change our rooms. Our dissatisfaction and his reluctance reached a point where we asked to call the police. Back here, the hotels (as expensive as the Venice one), would want to take care of their guests and the reputation of the hotel. Over there, we were told to —-off! Yes! That exact phrase. We had paid in full months ago so we could not go elsewhere. Besides it was ten in the night and we were hungry and the manager, who finally came cursing, blamed us for making her miss a dinner with her friends. Customer service wasn’t exactly what we are used to.

There is not much fear of getting sued I think, as a result, not a cone in the bathroom of the Vatican Museum where the cleaner poured mugs and mugs of water from a bucket on the floor to clean while we were waiting in line to pee. We used one stall while she cleaned the other one.

The best was being used to people bumping into us and us into them. But Hey! There are throngs of people visiting the city at any given time and this is bound to happen. It is okay and in fact we were relieved to know that people didn’t mind it as much as they do here.  After all, it is not easy to peel one’s eyes away from such astounding architecture.

The most memorable things about the city – the architecture, the paintings, the murals and the frescos, were not necessarily kept under closed windows. We noticed open windows in museums and palaces to let in fresh air. Very few historical buildings were air conditioned.  Sound pollution, dust and normal wear and tear due to weather related conditions probably are not given so much attention as we do here. Of course, the authorities know best but we couldn’t help wondering.

It was quite refreshing to visit a place where not everything is governed by extraneous laws, unnecessary polish and a helluva lot of unneeded space. What did come as a blow was the rudeness of a few. But a few things can’t ruin the everlasting beauty and grandeur of the place.

Owen Flanagan of Duke University, a leading consciousness researcher, writes that “Evidence strongly suggests that humans in all cultures come to cast their own identity in some sort of narrative form. We are inveterate storytellers.”

 

Although the written form of stories displaced the oral centuries ago, the writer in every age has used his or her narrator to portray some of his or her own expressions, idiosyncrasies, flaws, anger, frustration and sadness.

When the story you’re reading is from the point-of-view of a character in the novel (often the protagonist), you’re reading first-person narration. This first-person narrator makes frequent use of the pronoun “I,” and gives a direct peek into his or her narrator’s feelings which could also be the writer’s.

 

Examples of famous first person narration in literature are Scout in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird or  Bilbo Baggins, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

A writer can make the narrator complicate things in a story like there is the  interior monologue of the Underground Man in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘Notes from the Underground’ and the dramatic monologue of Jean-Baptiste in Albert Camus’s ‘The Fall.’

There’s even the strange, plural first-person narration in Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.”

There is also a narrator watching all the action from the sidelines. This narrator is peripheral and not the main character. The peripheral narrator stands at a safe distance and gives us the details about the protagonists and antagonists like  Nick  Carraway in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, ‘The Great Gatsby.’

 

A first person narration can give access into the character’s thoughts and feelings but a third person narrator can go places and give the readers the details of everyone else in the story.

It’s also super important to remember that when a first-person is narrating the story, they do not disclose everything, at least not right away.When we can’t trust our narrator, we call them unreliable.

 

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE … by Maya Angelou

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE …
enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own, even if she never wants to or needs to…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE …
something perfect to wear if the employer or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE …
a youth she’s content to leave behind….

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE …
a past juicy enough that she’s looking forward to retelling it in her old age….

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE …
a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE …
one friend who always makes her laugh… and one who lets her cry…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE …
a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE …
eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal that will
make her guests feel honored…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE …
a feeling of control over her destiny…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
how to fall in love without losing herself..

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
how to quit a job, break up with a lover and confront a friend without ruining the friendship…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
when to try harder… and WHEN TO WALK AWAY…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
that she can’t change the length of her calves, the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents..

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
that her childhood may not have been perfect…but it’s over…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
what she would and wouldn’t do for love or more…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW….
how to live alone… even if she doesn’t like it…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW..
whom she can trust, whom she can’t, and why she shouldn’t take it personally…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
where to go…be it to her best friend’s kitchen table or a charming Inn in the woods
when her soul needs soothing…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
What she can and can’t accomplish in a day, a month…and a year…

 

Writing in Sequence

A_Secretary_Frantically_Jotting_Notes_Down_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_110430-182797-712053

Many writers who write long pieces either write in sequential order or write random parts and bring them together. Their writing may resemble either a mechanical march forward or  a more circuitous path leading sometime back to the beginning. A narrow alley sometime may lead their work to the end. They then come back and work on the middle.

 

Those who defy this sequence give reign to their untrammeled thought process. Their writing is impulsive, brash and unedited – just flowing, not knowing the direction or the destination. The mood of the woods prevail and the woods have always smelled different. A tad bit fresher. Haven’t they?

 

On the other hand, the calculated and sequential mode generates fluency and perfection. Not to say that the brash and wild mode does not beget perfection. But there is a carved way that the sequential writer uses and by walking on it, he or she follows the path that has been traveled previously – the known territory. That writer has a calculated and tunneled approach and a distinct vision of the end. That kind of writing follows a set course, not deviating and thereby not tangled in the wild beauty of the woods.

 

Usually as we grow older as a writer, we tend to follow a formula and a logic whereas younger writers don’t. Their writing is not marred by rules.  Even their serious writing may have a dragon who eats corn and farts popcorn and they have the ability to make their readers believe it.  It is usually this breath of fresh air that achieves more readers’ attention than the kind of writing more mature writers pen down.

 

 

 

 

Reconnecting With Mira

From:  janya@yahoo.com
To:  miracares@yahoo.com

Subject:  I Am Sorry

Mira,

I have been thinking about you for a long time and today when I write to you I feel I should have done that long ago. I dream often of how we were 20 years ago. You and I walking to school together moving our long braided hair from side to side; buying fresh tamarind from street vendors in spite of our mothers’ warnings that they were not healthy.

You and I filling recipes sheets for our Home Science assignments but never cooking anything;  eating fried, fluffed up balls of flour with spiced water at the stall outside our school and always complaining that our mothers didn’t let us wear short skirts or go to the movies alone.

When laugh lines appear they also bring courage to admit our mistakes and a yearning for the past. Mira, I finally have the courage and maturity to apologize to you….

Please visit the http://www.vendingmachinepress.com or the link below to read the entire story.

 

http://vendingmachinepress.com/2014/02/01/reconnecting-with-mira-by-prachi-jain/

We bid adieu to 2013 more than a month ago. In the first few weeks of 2014, most of us have made mental ledgers of our achievements and morbid lists of our failures of the past year.  The pragmatic ones among us have quickly rejoiced or sulked, whatever the case may be, and moved on to what the New Year, 2014, will bring for us.

martinsWhether Martians like it or not, we are sending cargo to Mars in 2014. Thank Goodness we are checking out their hospitality before sending humans.

Mind controlled exoskeletons will be used this year for the first time by a paralyzed teen to start  the World Cup in Brazil. It is controlled by electrical signals of the brain and reads the electrodes that are placed on the surface of the head or directly in the brain. The exoskeleton will support the lower part of the body and enable the paralyzed wearer to walk using wireless electrodes attached to the head that collect brainwaves, which then signal the suit to move.

This  to me is  the best news of the New Year.

Oh ! you must have heard  the 103, 445, 364, 445, 345 google times told punch line,  ‘God created Earth . . . and then Google took over! ‘

Google Glass is going to change the world – once more.  You wear the device on your head like a headband and voila! You are all set to do a multitude of amazing things. Speak to take a picture, share, record, translate and ask. Basically, have a personal assistant except it is going to sit on your head.

glass

Petroleum will start wooing us soon if cars like Hyundai bring us hydrogen and oxygen powered cars and only take a couple of minutes to refuel.  They will also be fast.

hyundai

Other things fast and furious will be faster and more furious.  For all the advancements in technology, we will still have 24 hours in a day. Bu since we can achieve more in less time now, we would  want to do more.  All this has and will lead to more multitasking and hyper efficiency. We will use all our senses to their optimum so we don’t waste a second.

We will also be more conscious of invasion of privacy. Some of us though will still order private drones from Amazon to invade someone else’s.

We will be increasingly be aware of our diets and exercise regimens but less about the peace of mind. We will continue to be astonished at our minds’ capacity to ponder over a thing for a long time.

Words like “Selfies” and “Twerk” might make us cringe with their overuse. Maybe we will start using other words that make us roll our tongue more but make us say it quicker like ‘sup’ for ‘what is up ?’or  ‘totes ‘for ‘totally.’

You can’t really tell how this new year will un-word itself.

The New Year will give us more outrageous fashion statements by the likes of lady Gaga, unbelievable political scandals to mull over for half a day when something else will come along and a city-load of technological information to process. We just hope it will keep us looking forward to groundbreaking news like  a space concert in the next year.

Looking forward to the rest of the year!

I Resolved To . . . .

The first time I learnt what a New Year’s Resolution was, it was already a couple of weeks into the New Year and by then I had already admitted to all who asked that I did not have one. When I was made to realize  my so-called gaffe as if I had breached a law mandated by those crazy teen years, the earth under my feet shook but refused to swallow me.

Henceforth every December, I worked hard to make resolutions just so I have them at the ready when someone asks on the first day of the New Year. To my deep chagrin, I learnt that resolutions are easier to make than to follow. Among my top ones were: not getting a frequent hair cut and letting my hair grow long; keeping the A’s; learning to not feel bad when not invited to some of the cool birthday parties; and coming up with fitting rebuttals as soon as someone said something and not in the deep echelons of my comforter when mom thought I sleep talked. Of course I made more than one resolution every year for different audiences and some only for myself. Those were innocent vows, easy to keep up with and equally easy to drop.

As I grew up, I realized there was nothing wrong with not having a resolution ready, nothing wrong with having a private one and nothing wrong with not having one at all. Some years I still don’t have an answer to The Great Resolution Question but now I am not embarrassed just because so many others have one.

Now I make goals that I can achieve in a few hours or a few weeks and bit by bit, I aim to grow, to reach and to learn what I haven’t up till now. I would be proud of myself if I can start each day with peace in my heart.

Happy New Year to all of you! New Year 2012 High Quality Images and Wallpapers-24

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