Our Trip to the Land of Lions- Sri Lanka- Part I

Ever since I heard from a friend about the beauty of this place, it found itself a spot in my list of “must-see places around the globe”. When we were contemplating on planning a vacation this Christmas holidays, Sri Lanka was the first destination that came in our minds. In spite of being questioned about its safety, we decided to go for it.

We had our tour planned by Deepa Travels, Adyar. The agent did a fine job organizing everything for us right from air tickets, visa and hotel to local cab and tour guide.

With a lot of uncertainty about our travel itself (due to work pressure and last minute plan changes), we finally left to Katunayake Airport, Colombo on the 21’st. The flight journey was a short pleasant one that lasted a little over an hour (Yes, Chennai- Colombo is a lot closer than Chennai- any ports within TN). At Colombo airport, we were received by our tour guide, Mr. Nilantha Fernando, an extremely warm, friendly person. Within moments we were out on the Colombo- Kandy highway in our Toyota Prius (:-) We did spot many high-end refurbished/ new Japanese-make commercial vehicles on the road). The first thing that caught our attention in SL was the cleanliness and greenery all around us. We felt as though we were in our very old God’s own country- Kerala. And apart from occasional sights of police patrols, there were no signs of anything but calm and peace.

The roads are well laid and it remained the same almost in every place we went. It was quite a sight as we drove on the road nestled among thick bushes and trees. The whole stretch had local vendors selling produce from their vegetable/ fruit garden- Mangoes, Jack Fruit (SL has Mangoes and Jack fruit grow in winters unlike TN/Kerala where the season is usually between April- July. I envy them :-(), King Coconut and what not. Nilantha was sweet enough to stop by at every store and Somu and I ate our hearts full. A couple of hours later, we reached the Pinnewala Elephant Park near Kandi that’s a sanctuary for over 80 elephants.

The park is open to the public daily for some entrance fees. It was great to see a number of animals all in one place, well taken care of. There are several shops attached to the park. One that caught our attention was this :-p …

Rest of the story to continue... 

My list of divine ragas [Poem]

The sound of waves kissing the shore,
Sometimes even my loved ones snore,
The googoos and gaagaas a baby mutters,
Are bliss that can make my heart go flutter.

The creaking noise of the crickets in dark,
The twinkle I hear when her smile sparks,
The myna and even the cuckoo’s chirpings, 
Have no bounds to the joys they can bring.

Music of Illayaraja, and his 80s hits,
Nothing matches up when she hums it.
Rustle in the leaves, whistle in the breeze,
Can you think of compositions better than these!  

Every word that break out of her lips,
Her every word though it may have a lisp,
Even the sound of her inhibited silence,
all sent from heaven to fill up my sense.

~ Somu

Photo Courtesy : Thethingswesay

My Best Friend

When patches of my sky darken,
he is the moon I depend on,
to brighten up my dim mood,
and unlike its vanishing stint,
he is there evermore, his fondness for me
never diminishing.

Time of the day carries no meaning,
he is there when I need to talk,
give vent to my spleen and get things out of my system.
He speaks no word,
yet his listening compassion gives me
all the soothing effect I need.

His mere presence is magical,
giving me a sense of security,
a feeling of dependability,
and the assurance that he is there,
even when everyone else discards me.

So many years have passed,
and so many things changed,
yet this bond has stood the test,
gaining in strength with every passing day.
Even now when all else fails,
the only one I turn to is he – My pal,
My Best Friend.

Every bloom would declare...

Life is a battlefield. Every bloom would declare.
Daylight follows darkness. Every dawn would swear.
If hope, faith and zeal can be your life’s spine,
your ambitions would one day see sunshine.
Oh Heart! Change. Have the nerve to face,
the mightiest of peaks and the tiniest haze.

A heart should never be broken into pieces.
Never should dim thoughts invade your peace.
Every man has his scar, hurting him much.
Time would one day heal, with its magical touch.
A stone unleashes a figurine, enduring chisel’s blow.
With hearts that persist pain, joy and bliss grow.
Everyone’s life is a struggle, so why grief in eyes?
Dream and daily drudge. Your vision would realize.
Oh Heart! Change. Have the nerve to face,
the mightiest of peaks and the tiniest haze.

Lyrical your life , and boundless your thoughts.
Breathe in hard work, from the bottom of your heart.
With eyes full of dreams, and a heart full of desires,
No one can surpass you, if, with passion, you perspire.
Comrade! Plant a seed in your heart, a tree would mature.
Shame and stalemates would become handy manures.
No history is without letdowns. So, why misery in eyes?
If you have a goal, and the clarity, you'd surmount the skies.
Oh Heart! Change. Have the nerve to face,
the mightiest of peaks and the tiniest haze.

Never underestimate the power of Search Engines

Am not an SEO expert. That said, I try to use as much Search Engine Optimization as possible from the little knowledge I have garnered over the years. While we have our Facebook groups and Twitter following and other social media to promote our posts and bring in as much traffic into the blog, the power of search engine traffic should not be underestimated.

My traffic source overview - Google Analytics
Here’s why :
  1. While referral traffic is limited to number of fans, followers etc…, direct traffic is limited to the number of folks who know your blog URL, the audience from search engines is “literally unlimited”
  2. If posted appropriately, search engines bring in major mass of the traffic into the blog, as can be seen in the above graph
  3. People who search and come into the blog are genuinely looking for the information) you have posted (assuming the content is relevant to the keyword(s) that brought in the hit). This is likely to increase the bounce rate.
  4. New posts may have only seasonal readership if promoted only through social media. However, posts in archives can be treasures and can continue to bring in more traffic than new posts if optimized for search engines. An old post of mine on decoupage still is the most read post every month. Thanks to Google.
So, if you say, “I don’t write for search engines”, think twice ! You don’t have to write for search engines. But if you can make your content friendly enough for search engines to pick up, there is much more readership your blog can enjoy. Agree ? Don't agree ? Leave me a comment.

P.S. In the pie chart that you see above, search engine includes Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, AOL and few others.

Personalize your twitter background

Did you know you can use your twitter background to convey more information that you would want ? Personalizing your background enables you to move away from the default standard templates that Twitter has to offer.

Custom backgrounds can help your profile stand apart and also convey as much information as you need about your blog / site that you are promoting through your tweets.

Here is a template that you can use to modify and personalize your background.

Just download this image onto your desktop. Open it in mspaint. And just change the three shaded portions into whatever that you want. And you have your custom Twitter background.

Once you have your background, get into settings -> Design -> Change Background -> Select the image from your local PC.

While you are at it, do check out the other custom Twitter background that I made for my profile.

Which one do you like ? Do leave me a comment

The Road Ahead...

Looking back at life can be quite a challenging feat, especially when you have already lived more than half of it. And to summarize it in just six words can only be close to impossible, when brevity is not in my nature. Now this post is being published as part of  "CBC's six-word memoir tag" where I have to describe my life in just 6 words. Check out this post by Sowmya Swaminathan who is a journalist in the making to understand what this is all about. And CBC (Chennai Blogging Club) by the way is a group of fun loving bloggers from in and around Chennai. 

When looking back, I come to realize there have been ups and downs, goods and bads, successes an failures, happiness and the otherwise, and I find it quite a task to be able to bundle the whole of it in a 6-word package. And so I thought, why look back, when I can look ahead and see how I want my life to be from this point on. I probably can learn from the past and script my future the way I want it to be. Given that, I cannot think of my life as being anything but a "brilliant, unforgettable, and a successful experience".

This is a poem I wrote 8 years ago when 6-word memoirs did not exist. But today, a one line excerpt from these lines have been used to fulfill the purpose of this tag :)

My achievements, I try recalling.
The ones noteworthy,
the ones that made a difference,
the ones that changed a life,
the ones that moved a soul,
the ones that made my parents proud,
the ones that made me stand tall.
To my shock, my memory fails me.

As I retrace my path,
I try looking
for the flowers in their full bloom,
from the garden that I nurtured,
for the adherents following my footsteps,
for the mark that I have left behind,
for the memories that I have been part of,
for the soul that could distinguish me.
To my dismay, the search proves futile.
Barren is the entire trail,
bearing no inkling of my stride through it.

A startling revelation it was.
Now,lies with me the challenge,
of making my life memorable,
of making myself treasured,
that I remain etched in the minds of my posterity.
As I take up this trial,
I vow ,to make my journey,
a brilliant, unforgettable and a successful experience.

Gomathi Shankar, it is now your turn... Go on. Let us know your life in Six Words.

~ Somu