When Virtual merged with Real- the meet

Continued from here..

Smitha:   Well, I have known her for close to 5 years now, she is one of the closest friends I have in the Blogosphere today. I have loved her writing from the day I discovered her blog, Any Excuse to Write. There’s an amazing charm and warmth about her that comes across beautifully in the way she expresses. I love it especially when she writes about parenting, for that’s when I relate with her the most.

So, three years back, when Smitha mentioned that she was planning to be in Delhi in July, around the same time I was due to be on vacation, I knew I had to meet her! Thus began a flurry of mails and calls exchange bundled with loads of excitement to fix a day and venue to meet. We decided to meet at Nirula’s. Even though this was the first time I was meeting a blogger friend outside of my computer, yet  I didnt sense any inhibition or hesitation to meet her. We had spoken to each other a lot of times on phone, been in touch through mails, we had shared our pictures with each other. So, to me, this meeting was purely another way to take our friendship forward. And when Namnam and I met her and her darling daughter Poohi, as she is more adorably and popularly known in the blogworld, it didn’t come as a surprise when the four of us hit it off! We had so much to talk about, that not once did it seem that we were meeting for the first time. It was particularly endearing to watch Namnam and Poohi talk and bond so well. Sometime last week while browsing through my albums on FB, I started looking through this particular one of our meet up, titled Virtual merges with Real( yeah right, thats where I lifted the title of my blogpost from!), I had this huge smile splashed upon seeing this pic where the two were hugging each other tightly and flashing their toothy smiles! Ah, how I wish I could grab them right then and cuddle up!!This meet up with Smitha left me immensely glad that my first blogger meet was such fun and memorable. Because after this wonderful experience I was open to more such meet ups with bloggers! However, I had to wait for one whole year to experience the fun again..

Swaram: Another wonderful friend I have known through blogging. She blogs at The Song of Life.  When I started reading her blog, she came across as this lively girl, with a child-like nature to her, much in love with her life. However, with the passage of time, I have sensed that though, she still has kept her love for life very much intact,  she has also evolved into this hugely driven woman with a relentless zeal to bring about a better change around her, who truly believes in being the change she wants to see. Which makes me immensely proud of her ! And honoured to be her friend.

It was a very short meet that I had with Swaram in July 2011. She was on her way to Kargil as a part of this drive her organization had taken up to deliver messages to soldiers on Kargil Vijay Diwas. Delhi was her transit point. I was not sure what time she would be arriving, so again, a couple of mails and calls exchanged here and there and we decided in the last minute to meet at Nizamuddin Railway Station. My brother, Namnam & I reached the station, went up to the platform the train was arriving at, and saw this spirited bunch of backpackers getting out of the train. Yes you guessed it, it was Swaram’s group! She was with her Su and her team-mates :). We hugged, shook hands, reintroduced ourselves, did some catching up( not necessarily in that order though :D) and proceeded to ComeSum food junction right at the station complex. We took a table, ordered a few snacks, and engaged in some detailed chatting! It was wonderful meeting and knowing Swaram and Su.  Wish we had more time in hand though. Since it was getting dark, and also they had to travel a bit farther to get to their hotel, not to mention how exhausted their faces looked, we couldn’t stay chatting for long. Nonetheless I’m glad that we could make it happen despite despite Swaram’s tight schedule.

Ashwathy: What drew me to Ash, who blogs at C’est la vie mon ami, at first, was her famous and hilarious Matrimonial Mish Mash series! But what made me connect with her , was her very first post which I happened to read by chance. The post where she had written about her grandfather. A post, which till date is one my favourite posts by any blogger. And it will always be. That post made me cry, made me want to run to my grandmother’s lap, because I could relate with the post so well, considering my attachment with my own grandparent.

How I wish you’d write more often, Ash! Miss reading you..

Namnam & I met Ash in August 2011. She was in Delhi on a short visit, while we were there on our annual vacation. It was a good chance to meet up, which I almost blew up because of my last minute changes every now and then. Finally, a day prior to her return to Kerala( or was it Bombay? Help me here, Ash!) we decided to meet at the Select City Walk, Saket. I was to come to that part of the city anyway for a family gathering and Ash was sweet enough to agree to meet us at the mall. When I saw Ash walking up to us, the first thing that sprang to my mind- “Whoa! She is so tall!”. To say I wasn’t intimidated by her tall and elegant stature would be a lie!  But as we exchanged our hellos and hugs, the intimidating sense gave way to a delightfully comfortable vibe! We seated ourselves in Haagen Dazs, chatting away to glory, while Namnam found a way to occupy herself with her favourite chocolate ice cream! 🙂

Meeting Ash was a lovely experience. We have tried to meet again, twice already but in vain, once when she had come to Dubai last year and the second time when I had a plan to go to Bombay this year, only to quash it for some reasons. Hopefully we’ll be lucky the third time :).

Rakesh: It was his movie reviews that got me hooked to his blog. His reviews were crisp, precise, sometimes ripping-apart, nonetheless thoroughly engaging. His forte, as I understood from his posts, was his terrific sense of humour. And as I explored his blog further, read him more often, I got a chance to know that alongside being ‘obsessed with movies'(in his own words), he also had interesting opinions and observations ranging from heavy duty stuff like capitalism, marketing to parenting his son, to his adventurous escapades in the desert, to gender inequality among others. This is the zone he blogs at, or rather used to blog at. Its been lying dormant for more than 2 years, as I noticed just now when I went to link up his blog here!

Umpteen movies have released in the two years that he has been away, yet none of them have succeeded in bringing him back to review them. Wonder what will! Sigh!

Our chance to meet came along when I went to Dubai during the Eid break in 2011. Yep, the year proved to be quite a fruitful one for me in terms of meeting bloggers! 🙂 It was a trip packed with visits to all possible attractions Dubai was known for. And in between these visits, I was lucky enough to squeeze in time to meet, not one but two bloggers.

We had gone to Kidzania, a fantastic indoor theme park, modelled like a city complete with buildings, streets, vehicles, a functioning economy, where kids get to indulge in role playing activities, perform jobs, earn in kidzos, get to open a ‘bank account’,manage their money and so much more. Its a fantastic concept which R and I thoroughly enjoyed exposing Namnam to. She had a blast here!

Anyway, it was from here that Namnam, R & I went to meet Rakesh. He was gracious enough to not just invite us to his beautiful home, but also pick us up and take us there. His lovely wife treated us to a refreshing cup of masala tea and yummy pakodas, the typical Sindhi way! 🙂 It was a delight to watch his adorable son warm up to us so well and so quickly! It was lovely getting to know Rakesh and his family a bit more 🙂

Rakesh( Brat): He is probably the lone blogger who is seen galloping around others’ blogs more than his own! He is one of those who give bloggers like me the much needed push and encouragement to write more through the comments he leaves on blogs. My interaction with him began when we bumped into each other at a common blogger friend’s post. His rib tickling comments were a treat to read! No matter how serious a post would be, he would ensure to leave at least one funny comment that would lighten up the whole atmosphere. And his quality to laugh at himself alongside poking fun at others made meddling back with him and his devilish comments, as much fun! This is where he can be found snoozing!.

The Brat and I too met in Dubai, at the same Eid break of 2011. We met on the day of Eid, undoubtedly the busiest of the days. Being a holiday the Brat and his friends were planning to come to Dubai Mall, and incidentally we had planned to go there too. So, calls exchanged and we decided to meet inside the mall, without realizing how crowded it would be that day! For one, to get to the mall was a huge task because of the insane traffic jam we got stuck in. And when we reached the mall, we were hit by the sight of another huge jam, this time caused by the rush of people trying to get in. It was as though the whole of Dubai had decided to hound the mall that day! Anyway, once we were inside, the crowd got spread out a bit, making the walk a bit easy. We reached the particular point we were supposed to be and in a few minutes there he was, the Brat. We did a bit of chit chat while standing there since we couldnt find a good space to sit- yep, it was SO crowded! I introduced him to R and Namnam, he gifted Namnam two Enid Blyton books which she loves to date..so much so that she pulls it out of the shelf to read every once in a while :). We, then took digs at each other, out of habit- he felt I was shorter than the pics he had seen of me while I said he didnt look as short as his FB snaps! Dont ask me, who was complimenting whom though! 😛

Since the place was getting packed with more and more people, R and I felt that it would be safer to head back to the hotel before it was too late. Since finding a cab was next to impossible in that mad rush, we decided to try the Metro Rail instead. And the Brat, the sweet guy that he was, offered to walk us to the nearest station. He took us through a less crowded route, which was a long walk but a good one nonetheless with a favourable weather on our side. The long walk also gave us more time to chat with the Brat. It was great meeting and knowing him outside of the blogosphere 🙂

The Girl Next Door: I started reading her not so very long ago. She is someone whose thoughts are quite similar to that of mine and as a result, whom I felt a great connect with. Her views on parenting, on topics close to my heart, her love for travelling, her yearning to explore new places, the kind of books she loves to read, are some of the things I have been able to relate to well. She blogs here.

Our chance to meet came knocking when I mentioned in one of my posts about going on vacation to Delhi and TG came by and shared her plan to be in town around the same time. The next thing I knew, I was shooting a mail to her asking if we could meet. A few more mails back and forth and we agreed to speak once I had landed to fix a day and place.

When I called her after a few days of arriving, I was greeted by the sweetest, softest voice that I had ever heard! Her voice had such a silky smooth feel to it that I remember wondering how beautiful she would sound if she were to sing a song. I had even planned to ask her this, but forgot.

So tell me now, TG, do you sing too? 🙂

Anyway coming back to our plan to meet up, things got off to a slow start since TG got busy exploring Delhi streets while I got busy with my family get togethers. And then one fine day it just worked out like magic, when TG suggested that we meet at Deer Park. I literally jumped at that suggestion! The first thought to cross me was, ” Namnam would love the place!”

And LOVE she did! Namanam and I set off for the park with my sister-in-law. Since there was still time for TG and OH to reach, the three of us used our time walking around the park, spotting deers and peacocks, feeling elated at seeing them up close. And the weather was just perfect for the outing, with cool breeze and light drizzles ! Namnam, especially scampered here and there happily, sometimes in swings and slides, and at times looking out for peacocks. She couldn’t contain her excitement at seeing so much of greenery all around!

In a while TG and OH joined us too, and we continued our walk with them, while chatting and getting to know each other. It was lovely meeting TG and OH, an extremely warm and friendly couple. It felt, especially very nice to meet TG and finally be able to put a face to the wonderful blogger that I had interacted with all this while. She is as sweet and soft spoken as her voice, in fact even more!

To read a better account of our meet up, hop by TGND’s post, which also has some lovely pictures of peacocks and deers 🙂

With this the post draws to a close. It was a wonderful experience meeting each of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart 🙂

When Virtual merged with Real :)

I have been sitting on this post for the last 3 weeks- since 12 september @ 9.18am to be precise as per the Revisions tab on my dashboard, which also tells me that I have made 25+ revisions already by now. But no matter how much I try to restrict it, the post keeps getting longer and longer and longer. Add to that, the terrible writer’s block which has been sucking me in, making me struggle to write.  At one point, I almost abandoned it. But I couldn’t. I didn’t have the heart to do it. You know how it is. When you invest a certain amount of your time and mind on something, after a point, no matter how bored you are, how so ever much you feel that it’s not getting you anywhere, you still cling on to it hoping you would find your way. You feel a sense of binding towards it. And you don’t want to give it away until you have brought it to its successful completion. That’s the way I am feeling with all these words I have typed in here. I dont know where they are leading me, but I am still tapping and typing without giving up, hoping I will find some kind of amalgamation to my thoughts and find an end to my post.

And thanks to Indiblogeshwaris’ friendship prompt of this week, the post gets an added push of revival! 🙂

So here I am, still on it. Trust me, I am a wee bit short of fainting as I notice the number of words I have typed in so far- 3000! 😯 😯 And I’m still tapping…

I seem to be taking Mark Twain pretty seriously-

I didn’t have the time to write a short letter, I wrote a long one instead.

😀

Anyway, to make myself and those of you who are still around reading me, breathe a li’l easy, I have split the post into two. And here goes the first half..

When I started blogging, wrote my first post…or subsequent few even, friendship was the last thing on my mind. Because till then, I always thought that to be someone’s friend I had to know the person for ‘real’, see the person for ‘real’, talk to the person in ‘real’.

To be honest, I had never used the term virtual in my conversations, for I didn’t know what it meant….until I started blogging. ‘Cos it was after venturing into blogging that I understood the term in its truest sense.

Now, this blog was mainly created as a vent-turf. And till date that is what I use it for. Also.

For, today, after 5 years of venting , my blog is grown beyond that. It has become an extension of me, where I get to not just vent my frustrations, but also share my happiness, my anxieties, my achievements- parental or otherwise, where I get to journal my daughter’s growing up, where I get to capture the precious moments I spend with my family through the pictures I click or merely by way of jotting down in words. So as it turns out, my virtual is as real as I can possible make it through this wonderful medium of blogging.

So coming back to what I started off writing (yep, I got deviated a bit and I read that from your confused-faces! ) friendship was not what I had expected to come out of blogging. But believe me, it is surely one of the most beautiful gains I have had from it. I could never imagine that by the mere way of what we write could connect us to people in a way that a wonderful bond of friendship could be formed that I would cherish forever.

In the five years, I have made some wonderful friends through this space. Friends whom I have been able to relate with, have felt a connect with through the way they write. Friends who have shared similar views as me on issues I have felt strongly about. Friends who have made me laugh, pulled my legs, made fun of me. Friends who have inspired me with their clarity of thoughts, their large heartedness, their selfless deeds. Friends I have looked upto for their sheer power of writing, their powerful and liberating thoughts. Friends who have always encouraged me with their reassuring words whenever I have expressed my fears and lows through my posts. Friend with whom I have been able to talk absolute nonsense, yet get an acknowledgement, as little as a *nod* or a ‘smiley’ no matter how idiotic I may have sounded! Friends with whom I have differed in opinions and have had fierce discussions with, yet who never judged me. Friends, who have taught me not to be judgemental either.

Now, some of them aren’t around writing as much as before. And some..well, some are so far away from blogging now, that I doubt if they even remember they used to have beautiful blogs once, which so many of us looked forward to reading- yes Sols & Saksh, that one’s aimed at you two! 😥 :cry:. Oh how I miss reading them all! But what does make me immensely glad, though, is that most of these friends I made, have stayed in touch even outside of blogging which makes the friendship even more special and just as real.

What I find amazing is how close and attached I feel to so many of these bloggers even without actually having spoken to them. And even more amazing is that when we do get around to talking and eventually meeting, there’s never a feeling of awkwardness or inhibition. Thats the magic of friendship, isnt it?

A few days back, while chatting with a group of friends on What’s App, we got around to asking each other the number of bloggers we have met in person so far. Which reminded me that I was to post an account of a meet-up I had in July this year, with the sweet Gal Next Door. Right then I realized that, aside a fleeting mention of my meet-up with Smitha about three years back, I had never really blogged about the other bloggers I had met.

So today, let me do just that. Here are the 6 wonderful people I made friends with through the world of blogging and had the good fortune of meeting in person as well…

To be continued..

Why I write..

Well, for one I love the way it makes me feel every time I jot my thoughts down.

Image courtesy http://writetribe.com/why-i-write/
Image courtesy http://writetribe.com/why-i-write/

It makes me feel immensely liberated when my thoughts find an outlet through my writing. I feel words that flow through my hand do far more justice to my emotions, to my sentiments than the words that get uttered through my mouth!

I have been an introvert all my life. So I am not very comfortable getting into fierce discussions in a group or with anyone. I am one of those who rather prefer being the listener. I do have my own opinions which I voice when I feel I need to, but largely I avoid confrontations and stay in this side of the fence as an observer. So there are times when I feel I should/could have voiced my thoughts a bit more vociferously, which is when I turn to writing. And I pour my heart out then. The words that I long to say out loud but fail to, find their way through this page of mine in a way that makes me want to write and more.

Not only bigger discussions, sometimes I also take note of the smaller conversations, the littlest of moments that I experience or indulge in. And I love the sense of gratification I get as I pen my feelings down.

I feel empowered when I get to touch upon issues that I feel strongly about. I have been able to talk about issues like gender bias, education, parental predicaments, prejudices over menstruation by way of writing. Even those catchwords that I scribble in my diary or the notepad of my phone, that crop up while a post takes form in my mind, give me a strange kick of satisfaction.

Which brings me to the next reason why I write. Interaction. I love the fact that writing or blogging allows me to interact with those who come and read what I write and share their thoughts. They help me to see my viewpoints from their perspective and widen my horizon.

I realize that this very aspect of writing and interacting has made me far more assertive and participating in real life interactions as well.

Even now as I type these words I am humming a song, sporting a smile, indulging in some playful banters with R because I am feeling wonderful at having been able to set my thoughts into words.. so what if they are gibberish!

Write Tribe Prompt

PS: Image courtesy http://writetribe.com/why-i-write/

HELP: Google Reader shutting down, can someone suggest an alternative?

Please!

I have noticed that every time I log in to my reader, the alert about Google Reader discontinuing its services from July pops up on my screen!

I remember a few of my blogger friends breaking the news about this a couple of months back, but I didnt pay much heed to the warnings because my google reader was anyway lying dormant for months and I was going through a major lull in blogging. So I had no inclination to open my reader and check. Also I vaguely remember an article doing rounds about the news merely being a gimmick initiated by google to fool its readers on April Fool’s Day! Correct me if I am wrong, people.

Anyway, post the May photo challenge l revived my blog-hopping( quite vigorously at that :D) which made me log in to the Reader only to be greeted by this not so welcoming message every other day.

Hence seeking your inputs.

Now I have already added all the WordPress blogs that I follow, to my WP reader. What I am clueless about is the Blogspot blogs that I have listed there.

Where do I shift them?

What reader do you all use?

Any suggestions will be highly appreciated 🙂