Dear Tejaswee

Dear Tejaswee,
One of the few letters that I have been absolutely certain about writing since I read about the challenge, is this one. It is truly sad that we didn’t talk while you were still alive. It’s not that I didn’t know that you existed, I did read bits about on your mother’s blog and that was all of it. I know that there are many of us who would love to have known you from before, and it makes me wonder. Would you like have been different had so many different people been your friends? Would it be different enough, for you to have been here right now, causing me to write this letter to someone else entirely?

I still remember that night when I got the call from Shail Di. I was walking back to my desk from the office canteen when I answered her phone. Something about that call made me feel anxious, and I wondered if something had happened to someone I know. She told me in a very broken tone that you had passed away. Back then, a bunch of us were following your updates on your mom’s Google Buzz. I knew that you had not been well, and were later admitted to the hospital with Dengue. We had hoped that you would recover.

It is after this call that I started reading your blog. There are still times when I find myself reading your blog, knowing that there will be no new posts, but still chuckling at the ones that you had written. One of my fondest posts, is actually from your mom’s blog. She wrote about how you wanted something ‘nice’ to eat which would also be something unhealthy. She tried to offer all sorts of ‘healthy’ stuff like milk instead. Mothers, I know 😛 But you got it right, the unhealthy foods taste so yum. I want to high-five you for that.

Has anyone told you that animals love you? While pets do love their family members, what you shared with Proton and Sher Khan was just marvelous. One look at the lot of you together, and it is obvious that there is a special bond. A part of me is a little bit jealous too, seeing the way Sher Khan bonded with you. Isn’t he such an adorable cat?

The letter that you wrote to your future daughter, is one of the most beautiful pieces that I have ever read. It has such a free flow of emotions to it. I think why this letter is special, is the fact that you wrote it when you were a teenager yourself on the cusp of adulthood yourself. You wrote it in a manner that made one relate to their own life, and what they would like to have from someone older than them at such a point in their life.

You wanted to adopt a girl. It was your one resolution that you knew wouldn’t be broken. Now, a girl has a loving family because of you. A family where she will be loved and cherished as much as you were. Your legacy 🙂

Love,
Hrishikesh

Tejaswee Rao is the daughter of IHM. Fondly called TJ by friends, she died from complications as a result of Dengue. You can read the posts she wrote at her lovely blog. This letter was written as part of the 30 days 30 letters prompt: A letter to A Deceased person you wish you could talk to.

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Dear Bindu kun & Pixie

Dear Bindu kun,

I wrote a letter to you some time ago, because I had a brand new fountain pen and ink flowed from it so smoothly that I couldn’t help but write. Now that I am doing this blog challenge, I cannot help but write this as well.

We met as fellow members of a book group which I was inducted in to by my lovely sister after I had sent her a book. There are so many ways it could have not happened. It could have been a different book, or sent a different time, or perhaps she could have graduated to a Kindle sooner, or might have missed out her morning tea that day, but certain set of events took place in the right order, with the right people for me to have found you.

I have said this before, and I will say it again that I am in awe of you. How you are able to manage work, a family, consuming books with that voracious appetite of yours, and cook is beyond me at times. Particularly when I struggle with something like making Maggi on certain work days. While we are on the topic of food, the pictures of your weekend kitchen are just not fair. Nuh uh. How do you expect us to sit on this side of the screen, and look at all the delicious cakes you bake, and stews you simmer? The only silver lining is that we don’t have it as tough as your immediate neighbors who even have to manage with sounds and aroma of the food being prepared. Well boo-hooo for them.

Do you know that you’re the person who’ sent me the most number of books? I liked the irony of you having sent American Gods and Religion for Atheists together 😛 . Oh and the cake and cookies you sent around new year’s were absolutely yum. One of the few rare moments that my friends or colleagues were explicitly forbidden (and I saw to it) from having even a single bite of the load. I had it all for myself. My precious.

When we do meet, I am looking forward to your cooking the most. I want to take in the sights and sounds of you getting about to making food. I have always believed that cooking for someone, is converting your thoughts and feelings for them into something physical, and then sharing it with them. I am sure I would end up licking something shamelessly 😀

Thank you for the food, the books, and the friendship.
Love,

Count Santulan

 

 

Dear Pixie,

For someone who got so involved in naming a rat snake that liked to say hi to the sister of mine, you don’t like the crawlies so much. But they’re so cute, no? Scuttling towards you just to say hi or hug you 😛 . Ok, I will digress from this topic lest you get tempted to want to punch me. Not that you don’t have reasons already 😀

Someday, when I have saved enough money to, I would like to make a trip to your place. I would like to sleep in at your place at least once, so that I can wake up early and kick you awake, or just yank off the covers if I am feeling kind. On second thoughts, I might prod you with a stick instead so that you didn’t kick me when I do wake you up. Or we can let you sleep in peace if you’re willing to bribe me by making Akki roti and hot rasam. Yeah, that should work out real well 😀

You’re another person who’s like family but we haven’t met in the flesh yet. Had we been in the same city, I would be eating a number of meals at your place. Or call in with ice cream at impromptu times, because ice cream.  Then you would tell me off on how so much ice cream is not good for me, and would end up eating half of it so that I don’t have to eat all of it. Such a generous soul you are 😛

But seriously, you’re the person who genuinely cares about people in your life in a manner that is not over bearing, and makes one feel warm from the inside. When you do get here, I can dump a bunch of books at your place for you to read. Personal recommendations from my personal collection, that I think you’d like to read.

Thank you for sending me pictures of the creepy crawlies that you meet on your walks (and in turn creeping out your husband in the process). I promise to treat you to puffs and patisseries when we meet.

Love,

Hrishi

 

 

Written for the 30 Days 30 Letters prompt: A letter to someone you wish you could meet. Other bloggers can add their links to the linky below:


 

Dear Gigi

Dear Gigi,

Before I get down to saying anything else, I must thank you for sending me a copy ‘Of Marriageable Age’. I had spent years looking for it, but was not able to find a copy of it. You cannot imagine the joy opening your package brought me, when I finally held the book in my hands. I haven’t gotten around to re-reading it yet, just like I have not read Hedgehog yet, but I will do so in due time and have full joy in doing so. The fact that chocolates came along made time stop for a moment.

Sometimes it is funny, how facebook affects people. In this case, brought us together via common friends. While we are yet to meet in person, we have spoken so much that it would seem we’ve met so many times before, probably over coffee. You’d love that 😀 . For some reason, it seems so very natural to have developed this level of comfort with you.

You’re such a widely read person, and I understand that I am not the first person to tell you that, and will not be the last. I have a fondness for people who love to read, people who get absorbed in worlds that are not their own, and live the lives of others. It sort of makes you appreciate the things in life you wouldn’t otherwise.  Maybe someday I will get to read what you write. Not write in the book sense of manner, but scribbling and meanderings. They offer a much more insight into what goes in the mind of the writer, or so I think.

Some day, I imagine we will meet over pancakes, with some blueberries maybe. We could follow that up with a visit to the city museum. Remember the pictures that you had shared with me? It has such wonderful sights, and how the light plays with the carvings, shadows and stone playing with each other. I would definitely like to visit your favourite book store, and pick out a book for you. A nice hardback preferably. A book bought without any prior reading upon, except what the cover offers and the wonder of what the pages bring forth.

Perhaps when we meet, it will be like meeting an old friend after a long time. Maybe we will not just be internet friends.

Love,

H

 

Written for the 30 days 30 letters prompt: Your favorite internet friend. Others can add their links to the linky below:

Dear Old man who sat next to me on the bus

Dear Old man who sat next to me on the bus,
Of course I don’t know if you actually read my blog, because I never mentioned my blog in our conversation in the bus. If by some means you did stumble upon my blog, neither of us do know for sure that it is the other person on the other side of the screen. Maybe this letter is something that might hit a familiar chord with you.

You and I met on a bus ride from Ahmedabad to Baroda one evening years ago. The bus was incredibly slow and took almost twice the time it normally takes. Both of us could have still not had had this conversation, had my mobile not been on low battery. I generally keep my earphones on, or use some app if I am not sleeping on the bus. On account of not having a good charge, I pulled out a book from my bag. I still remember that it was ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by ‘Ayn Rand’.

You could have kept to yourself but luckily for us, your curiosity got the better of you. You asked me with wonder how people of my age were reading the book. I confess that my initial feeling was that of contempt, primarily at the idea of being disturbed by a stranger while I was reading. However, better sense prevailed, and I told you that this book had been a recommendation from my mentor. He had in fact repeatedly insisted that I do read it.

While we did discuss the book, as to why I liked it and why you didn’t, you began to ask me about my job. It was a different manner in which you asked questions. We discussed processes, systems and control mechanisms. How the cost spent quality control ends up more than paying for itself in the long run, and what your personal experiences had been about it from your time at your own work place.

To this day, it remains one of the freest flowing discussion I have ever had with a stranger. Thank you, for the conversation that day. Thank you for the time that felt that it passed faster than it did, and for the re-assurance that not all old people who chat with you have marriage or settling down to discuss.

 

 

I wrote this for the 30 days 30 letters prompt: A letter to a stranger. Other bloggers can add the links to their posts in the linky below:

Dear Carrot Tyrant

I came across Shail Mohan in my early days of blogging around 2005 or 2006. Back then we used to blog on Yahoo! 360 (which was sadly shut down by the folks at Yahoo!). One of my early memories is that of her coming in my dream as a lecturer in college, who proceeded to order me to eat carrots as they are good for eyes. You may call her the Carrot Tyrant for that, but be prepared for any red bricks that come flying your way.

Dear Shail Di,

When I first saw you on 360, you came across as a person who was generous in the use of virtual red bricks. Soon my curiosity got the better of me, and I started frequenting your blog more. One thing lead to another, and a friend request later you were my adopted blog sister. And what fun times we’ve had since then.

I guess I was lucky that your (formerly) bald sister was in Baroda, which mean we could meet when you made your trips to the city. I loved the dosas you made for me. Having someone cook for you is such a delight, which is why those dosas were extra yum. Come think of it, it was my first trip to Baroda when I came to meet you.

Meeting her in person for the first time
Meeting her in person for the first time

 

What was even better that when you came back again, I had a job. This meant that if I couldn’t host you in my kitchen, I could at least take you out for food. I remember that you didn’t have ice cream, I should probably have had your share instead 😛 .

shailsev

But apart from the meeting in person, what we’ve really bonded over has been our conversations. I think you’re responsible for a chunk of my views changing when it comes to feminism. Reading your blog in the early days, made me see things that were so obvious but were either hiding in plain sight, or what I was choosing to be conveniently blind to.

I love your devotion to photography. I now know the names and identification of some birds because of the pictures you take. It is actually refreshing to see someone put in time and effort like this out of choice and not because they have to do it. You’re so lovely that you even brave out to take pictures of chameleons for me, in spite of the fact that you think that they’re icky at best.

When people say that family is not just blood, they are right. We’re example of the family we choose. I have always felt a form of kinship with you in a manner that you’re one of the few select people that I feel strongly about. Which is why I write this letter to you, the closest someone I have to a sibling.

With Love,

Count Santulan.

PS: I am not going to stop with sharing spiders on your wall any time soon. You’re going to have to put up with that for longer 😛

 

Written for 30 days 30 letters prompt: A letter to your sibling (or closest relative).

Other bloggers can share the links to their posts in the linky below:

Dear D

Dear D,

I am not writing your name here and using a letter instead so that people won’t be able to make a connection as to who you are, for obvious reasons. Sometimes I believe it is downright uncanny as to the manner in which you get an insight into what I write. I am of course referring to some micro poems that I had written, and you called them on spot on in our chats. Our chats, how I love our chats.

What I love the best about them is that the honesty we share in it. We don’t seem to run out of things to share with each other. That we can at times not talk for days with only as much as a good morning, and then pick up after for a long conversation is an aspect that I cherish. I remember the time we met for coffee, and spoke so much and go so carried away that the lady on the table next to us had to ask us to tone it down. To be so lost in conversation with another person, it is not a surprise that it left a cherished memory.

But all of this, makes me happy and worried at the same time. We’re two different souls, so very different. I am an atheist, and you’re religious. I would go to all ends if it meant getting what I want, and you’d give up all things if it meant doing so for the family. And yet I find myself gravitating towards you, Gravity, yes that is what I think of. A force that I cannot see, yet it definitely pulls me towards you.

One of the earliest conversations that I remember with you is of your time in Bombay when you had gone for a friend’s marriage. It was followed by some time on the beach with friends, where you chatted away to glory. The idea of it stuck to me. A time spent with you in a place where our conversations wouldn’t be interrupted. I would want to cook for you. I haven’t done that yet. Happiness has mostly involved food for me. And cooking for someone, I believe is putting what you think in to some thing physical.

I would definitely like that, a time together, conversations and some cooking. But let us see where and what end up with.

With love 🙂

 

Written for Day 2 of the 30 days 30 Letters prompt: A letter to your crush

Other bloggers can add their posts to this linky:

30 Days 30 Letters

Letter writing was the best part about English exams in school. Apart from the fact that they carried the most marks for the least amount of effort, they offered me a chance to get creative in an otherwise short and boring exam paper. Where else could I ramble to the municipality about the dangers posed by the mosquito infestation I had made up because the society gutter had begun to over flow. I could write letters to my cousins making them jealous of the fictional snow ball fights I was having in Shimla while they had to make do with the annual weeklong trip to the beach.

There is truth to the fact that a vast majority of letters that I have written have been for official purposes, and most communications with family or friends being relegated to phone calls, chats, or the occasional odd email (which was to plan a time to come on chat). Of course nothing has ever stopped me from actually writing letters or emails to people, but I never came around to doing it.

During one of my searches for a quote, I came across a blog (which sadly no longer exists) and found that that particular post was a letter written as part of a prompt or writing challenge. This is when I came to know of the 30 days 30 letters challenge, where you write a letter a day for 30 days. Each day is associated with a different person. Some days are for specific people like your parents and some for people that you would associate with a feeling or emotion, like a person you miss the most. The list for the 30 days is:

1 – Your Best Friend

2 – Your Crush

3 – Your parents

4 – Your sibling (or closest relative)

5 – Your dreams

6 – A stranger

7 – Your Ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/love/crush

8 – Your favorite internet friend

9 – Someone you wish you could meet

10 – Someone you don’t talk to as much as you’d like to

11 – A Deceased person you wish you could talk to

12 – The person you hate most/caused you a lot of pain

13 – Someone you wish could forgive you

14 – Someone you’ve drifted away from

15 – The person you miss the most

16 – Someone that’s not in your state/country

17 – Someone from your childhood

18 – The person that you wish you could be

19 – Someone that pesters your mind-good or bad

20 – The one that broke your heart the hardest

21 – Someone you judged by their first impression

22 – Someone you want to give a second chance to

23 – The last person you kissed

24 – The person that gave you your favorite memory

25 – The person you know that is going through the worst of times

26 – The last person you made a pinky promise to

27 – The friendliest person you knew for only one

28 – Someone that changed your life

29 – The person that you want tell everything to, but too afraid to

30 – Your reflection in the mirror

 

While I have been meaning to do this for close to two years now, I got the final nudge when sister of mine  (who blogs at Shail’s Nest) asked me for blog challenge suggestions. This was followed by a thinly veiled threat of me having to write for all 30 days should I choose to join in as well. Since my blog has been largely dormant for some time now, and I have been meaning to exercise my brain with this for some time, I agreed to join her in this.

What is interesting is that while you have to write 30 letters, you may end up to writing more or less than 30 people. This is because there might be a person whom you will associate with more than one prompt, or there might be two people you might associate with one prompt. I will start with the first letter some time tomorrow today, and link the individual posts to the list above as I move ahead.

If you like this, feel free to join in, add your name to the linkup below:

 

Triops: 200 million years old indestructible pets

Many people like to have pets. Pets bond with humans, and are known to be a relaxing factor in our lives. As much as people like to have pets, some don’t want to (or cannot devote time to) taking care of the pets. Pets after all need feeding, bathing, cleaning up after, and medical attention. Which is why some people choose to have fishes as pets. Fishes can be fed easily, require only periodic cleaning (which can be outsourced), and little medical attention.

What if there another pet that you could have that didn’t require as much devotion and care as cats/dogs and could be taken care of as easily as fishes? What is even more wonderful about these pets is that they are living fossils, being as old as more than 200 million years old. This is the time when the forefathers of dinosaurs were first seen, making them older than dinosaurs as well.

Known as Triops, they are crustaceans and are even called tadpole shrimps on account of their resemblance to both (tadpoles and shrimps). There is a neat ‘trick’ called diapause they use to live so long. When there is a shortage of water, the eggs enter a state of dormancy. In other words, they become inactive. In this stage, they can tolerate temperatures up to 98 degrees C, which is close to the boiling point of water. Once their eggs are immersed in sufficient amount of water for close to 24 hours, they hatch. Otherwise they are for many practical purposes, indestructible. You can order a jar of eggs online, and hatch them in your own aquarium.

triopseggs
Notice the pink eggs

 

Once they hatch and mature, they can produce sexually, so you don’t need to buy more eggs. Females are known to be able to undergo self-fertilization, requiring no sperm of the male to fertilize their eggs before laying them. This is what a young tadpole shrimp looks like.

800px-Triops_longicaudatus2

And this is what an adult looks like.

Triops_australiensis_belly

After hatching they can double their size in 24 hours, growing up to a maximum of 4 inches long. This is a picture of them with a human hand for scale and comparative reference.

triopshand
image via cracked.com

 

I personally find them amazing, as to how they are able sleep through unfavorable conditions and they hatch out when sufficient water is available. Plus they look pretty neat too.

Checking out Kotak’s Jifi

Banking is a necessity. Where else would we store our hard earned money for safekeeping, or withdraw from when we need to spend it? Digging up the earth and storing money in a deep pit, and doing the digging again to recover is too ancient. Besides, there is always the chance that someone might easily take it from there, or it might suffer damages from the elements. This is also why I like to be updated with the latest in banking, for the convenience it offers.
I don’t remember when was the last time I went to a store to make my phone bill payment. If I want to order some pizza home, I do it online. Utility bills are taken care of online. Banking has evolved to something more than just a means to store your money. This is why I am keen when it comes to new facilities and features to banking. I decided to check out Kotak’s Jifi which offers some new features.
Zero Minimum Balance:
As much as I like saving money, sometimes you have one of those cash crunches at the end of the month (because you had a tiring fortnight that required multiple helpings of eating out, and purchase of new books that you would eventually get down to reading), this helps.

Social Banking:
By linking your twitter account with Jifi, you can operate your account via twitter and hashtags. I was skeptical about the security, but they have a dedicated secure server and all the info is via Direct Messages and not tweets, which keeps it private. Most of the available functions are pretty common these days (cheque book request, balance details, etc.). The feature that caught my attention is the ability to find the nearest ATM, when you’re hard pressed for cash and someone won’t accept cards. Just send them a DM and they will send you the address of the available ATMs in your area.
While this is a good facility, I don’t see myself using it much out of fear that someone may see my details on the cell. I know that I can protect my cell with a password, but I use it frequently which makes a password tedious for me.

kot

Friend Referral:
When friends or family join Jifi via a referral from you, you get bonus points that can be later redeemed as 1 INR worth each point. Based on a maximum of 25 Referrals per year, you can collect (and redeem) 6250 INR worth points. Which is an added bonus.

Transaction points:
This isn’t a feature that is new or limited to Jifi. Different banks have different manners of executing this. In Jifi you get 25 points for transactions above 500 INR, with a maximum limit of 1800 points a year. So this is 1800 INR bonus for us, which is nice.

Banking Application:
This offers the same facility to operate your bank account via mobile (as is the norm with banks these days). For reasons mentioned in Social Banking, I will not be using this.

Platinum Debit Card:
This is helpful when you want to make large purchases (like electronics) or are travelling and might need cash. The card gives you a higher transaction limit by which you can withdraw 50000 INR daily, or spend 2 Lakh via swiping for purchasing. Additionally there is insurance for card loss and misuse, so that adds a later of security.

Account availability:
While the account is easy to open, and is done online via a friend’s referral or through the Kotak Jifi website (https://www.kotakjifi.com), it is currently limited to select 12 cities. Now this is what prevents me from opening an account, since my city is not a part of the list (Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Pune). In this case I think that they should have started with more cities and covered a larger customer base. They’ll be adding more cities soon, so will have to wait for when I can get an account.

Since it is free to open an account (and you get joining bonus points), I am looking forward to open an account when I can.

 

I came to know about Kotak Jifi via Indiblogger, and have written this blog post for it.

How to backup your blog

I love blogging. As a matter of principle, I like my own blog posts as well on the account that I have written them. Sometimes when the mood does set in, I read my own blog. I read random posts, and the comments and replies. It is fun, brings a sense of nostalgia, and I end up catching some typos or grammatical error that I may have managed to incorporate. As much as I would like to, I am not always connected to internet. It can be highly impractical to be so. Which is why I like to make an offline backup of my blog so that I can read it as per my convenience.

Another added advantage of taking backup is that should something happen to my blog, I can restore my posts and reader comments. In fact when I moved from Blogger to WordPress, I was able to easily transfer my posts and comments in a jiff instead of manually copying and pasting it. Most blogging platforms do support this feature. It is popularly known as exporting, and is done via an XML file.

 

Blogger:

Go to the dropdown menu next to the Orange Compose button on your home page/dash board. Click on settings.

bloggersettings

Select ‘Other’ at the bottom of the left sidebar, which will lead you to ‘Other’ settings. You can now click on Export Blog to export your blog via the XML file. Save this XML file on your computer.

bloggersettings2

WordPress:

Open your blog Admin dashboard, and not the reader page. You can access this from the thumbnail at the top right of your reader, or ****.wordpress.com/wp-admin/ (where ****.worpdress.com) is YOUR blog address.

Go to Tools and then select Export from the drop out menu in the left sidebar.

toolscreen

 

You now have an option to export for free or a paid ‘Guided Transfer’. Select the free ‘Export’ option, and save the XML file to your computer.

export options wp

Now these are the XML files that contain your blog back up data, but you cannot read them. You will need to upload this data to another blogging platform where you can maintain another online backup, or you can save them as a PDF (which you can use to read offline like I do). We will use a free facility via the BlogBooker website.

 

Generating the PDF backup of your blog:

Open the BlogBooker website (http://www.blogbooker.com)

You can select your blogging platform (Blogger, WordPress, or Livejournal).

Select the ‘Choose File’ option to upload the XML file you have saved. Enter your blog URL in the ‘Blog URL’ form box.

wpbboker1

 

Below you will have some options choose from. These include the date range from which you want the posts, the paper size (for printing), whether you want the reader comments, and the order of posts (Chronological – order of posting from oldest to newest, Reverse Chronological – order of posting newest to oldest). Click on ‘Create your BlogBook’ button above.

bbookeroptions

After the processing is done as shown on the screen, you will get a process completion message on the screen with a Book image that shows that your PDF book is ready. You can click on this open it and then save it, or right click on the image and select ‘Save link as’ or a variation of the same and save it on your computer.

processcompleted

 

And Voila, your blog now has a backup that can be used for an online backup (XML file) and another (PDF file) that can be used to read offline. You can also have this PDF file printed and bound to convert your blog into a hard copy book.

Cheers.