Scary Incident On Halloween

I am once again rethinking the reason for doing overtime in this god forsaken office. This project is important to me. As a matter of fact,  my promotion depends on it, so it is a pretty darned priority to finish the project by this month’s end. With a week left, my boss sprang a nasty surprise on me and said that I need 2 more years of data to justify the changes I suggest. The fact that these changes could save the team, the office, and all other branches hundreds of thousands of dollars does not matter at all. To my misfortune, my project coincides with another smaller project that my boss’s favourite is submitting, so he is trying his best to block my project and clear the other. I know, this is everyday office politics, and I am determined to come up trumps. 

Anyway, coming back to my current dilemma, it is 11:30 in the night and I am the only one on the 3rd floor. For the past 30 minutes, there has been a weird smell in the office and the lights in the corner office have been flickering constantly. I cannot confirm this, but I think there is someone else on the floor above mine, and that person has been frantically searching for something since quite some time. All this is giving the place a very creepy vibe. If my project was not so important, I would have fled this place long ago. 

I’m not generally a scaredy cat who believes in Ghost Stories, but I have heard of a few strange occurrences in this building. My office consists of 2 buildings. I started work in the old building that houses a major bulk of the staff. We were recently moved to the new building as part of the office expansion. Since the start, the building has been fraught with unexplained shadows, strange voices, accidents, weird smells and a host of other problems. Many of the housekeeping staff and security refuse to work late in this building. The fact that the whole property is reclaimed graveyard land does not help with the rumours either. Considering this whole back story, I agreed to work late due to sheer desperation and now I am paying for it.

 I am tired and overworked, staying late in an empty office building where I hear strange sounds, weird smells and flickering lights. All this seems like a premise for a good horror flick. This thought jolts me out of my daydream. Rather than complaining and getting scared, I decided to wind up my work and come back tomorrow. As I start picking up and packing all my files, I can hear the noises get louder. It sounds like someone speaking in frantic and hushed tones, but the language is strange. This triggers my panic and I randomly stuff all my things into a bag and start running for the door. Weirdly, even those disembodied voices seem to run toward the door. As I open the door, I see a workman looking around in a panicked state. I figured he was the guy searching for something on the floor above, so I called out to him and asked him what he was doing here. He was startled to see me and told me he lost his way out and had been stuck here. Though I find the story unbelievable, I do not waste any time and start toward the exit. I tell him we’ll talk outside as I’m not liking the creepy vibe of this place. We both rush toward the stairwell. The weird smell continues to linger in the air and I feel a sense of foreboding. As any sane person would do, I started chanting gods’ names in my mind and sped up toward the exit. Soon enough, the workman and I exited out of the building into the open, we quickly crossed the yard and ran toward the old building where the security staff are housed. 

Once I reach the place, I feel a sense of relief as I see one of the guards run toward me and ask if I was alright. I leave the workman out in the yard and follow the security guard telling him about the scary ordeal. I tell him about the smells and the lights and the sounds. I explained how I met the workman and why we ran out of there. We then turned to the workman to learn his story about why he was in the building.

There was no one there, we looked around the place, but couldn’t find him. I asked the security guard if he saw the person running along with me. I exited the place with a person, so the guard should have noticed someone else too, right? The guard told me he wasn’t sure who it was, though he said he vaguely recalls someone behind me. We decided to check the CCtv to confirm the story. The cameras in the new building were not placed at the best angle yet, so I was not captured in most of them. The last camera in the ground floor caught a good shot of me running across the floor, but the workman was just a blur following me. It appeared that he was moving to fast for the camera to catch a good shot. 

All this seems mysterious and creepy to me. Since I was already tired, I decided to book a cab home and forget about this whole incident. I vowed never to stay late in the building again. As I reached home, I had succeeded in pushing the matter to the back of my mind. I worked the whole weekend from home, and finished the project.

Come Monday, I arrived at the office in a fresh and happy mood because I can submit my project today. I also managed to submit my work by the end of the first hour. I felt optimistic for the first time in months. But, my good mood did not last for long.

As soon as I set foot in my office, I was summoned to a meeting by my manager and one over. It seems that the incident from last week has created quite a stir. The security guard scripted a whole horror movie from that incident and he managed to rile up the janitorial staff and the guards. I was apparently the proof and alibi for the story. Within the hour, the story gained notoriety even among the office staff and everyone was panicking. This was the reason why my manager and his manager called me in. We also had the ops director on video call as the matter was getting out of hand.

Despite the whole Ghost sighting fracas, I was more concerned about my project. So, I decided to use this moment to toot my own horn. I started to discuss the importance of my project as the reason for staying late at the office. I also narrated the sequence of events, and tried to play it down as the irrational fear of a tired mind. I told them that I could have been mistaken and the workman must have rushed from there in a hurry too. The director was happy with me for playing down the incident as unimportant. He asked my manager to send an office email to diffuse the matter and downplay the issue. They asked me to corroborate this email to which I readily agreed. We went ahead as planned and the story blew over within a few days. As it was quarterly RnR time, the focus soon shifted to the new projects and promotions. 

A month passed before I met the security guard again. He became a local hero, much to the chagrin of the management. When I met him again, the guard told me that he planned to quit his job as he feared retribution from the ghosts. I tried to convince him there was nothing of that sort, but I myself was scared to stay in the building after office hours. Though I convinced the management, I knew what scared me that night was real. During our conversation, as I was trying to convince him to stay, an old man walked up to us. He asked us if we knew about the guy who saw the ghost. We balked and told him it was us. He took out an old photo and asked us if that’s how the ghost looked. We were shocked to see it, so we asked him who it was. The old man got all teary eyed and told us it was his uncle. With a little prodding he told us his story. 

The old man’s family were the keepers of the graveyard. The family traditionally kept watch over the graves and ensured that no one disturbed the dead and the dead never disturbed anyone. As a part of this tradition every few centuries, someone from the family was tasked to stay back after death and protect the living trespassers from the dead ones. 

Though the graveyard was razed to the ground, the old man’s uncle stayed back on the land to protect the living. He still did his duty to keep the dead from harming the living. The old man proudly stood in front of the new building and prayed to his uncle and told him thanks. 

Both the guard and I were shaken by this news. We stood there and prayed as well. We were not sure if we should be scared that the place was actually haunted or to be happy that we had such a diligent protector. By the next quarter, both the guard and I quit the job and hoped never to venture in that premises after dark.

Harmony Beach Park – Montego Bay

In May 2021 the 16-acre Harmony Beach Park was opened to public in Montego Bay Jamaica. It was built at a cost of 1.3 billion dollars. It is a flagship project by the Urban Development Corporation. It was opened by the Prime Minister, Most Hon. Andrew Holness. Harmony Beach Park is located along Howard Cooke Boulevard and entry is free for all. I visited the park in July, the wide-open green space, the shady trees, the cool breeze, the clear blue waters and the clean beach was very, very beautiful.

There is a trail built for anyone who would like to jog in the park and this jogging trail is made of special recycled rubber. The beach at the park is a big plus. The early morning view and sun sets are great.

There are good rest rooms also and locker facility for visitors to store their belongings. The best thing is that there are enough of security personnel and I know am safe. No vendors are allowed into the park. I saw some new shops also constructed but they are not yet let out. I guess soon the shops will also open.

There is a special play area for children and a basketball court also. I have been to the park a few times to take either an early morning walk or an evening walk and it was very relaxing. The Park is well lit in the evening and during the day there are lots of trees that provide shade from the heat. Due to the pandemic, I could not visit the park as often as I would like to.

In Our Next Birth

The Bhagwat Gita explains that every being that takes birth eventually goes through the doors of death to be reborn again in a new body. The body is perishable but the soul isn’t, it changes from one body to another as it passes through the cycle of life and death just as a person change from his old clothes to new clothes. But what the Gita doesn’t explain is where exactly will the rebirth be and in what form will we be reborn again. This last line brings us to our topic today.

Even thought reincarnation is a concept that is specific to Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism, imagine if every person in this world believed in this concept. I am not recommending that everyone should but just contemplating what the world would be like if everyone believed.

A person born in his present life with all comforts could be reborn in any war torn or poverty ridden country, terrorism ravaged country or a place oppressed by a dictatorial regime. If we are gifted with a human birth in this life, the next one could be that of a stray animal or scavenger, bird or as some endangered species. What if we are reborn as a chicken in a claustrophobic cage waiting in a butcher’s shop watching each and every fellow bird butchered.

Is it enough to take comfort in the fact that we have air that is still not too bad to breath, water to drink and the temperature is bearable? What if we are reborn into that time in the future where climate change has gone to the extreme and the changes are irreversible and survival itself is the greatest achievement. Wouldn’t we take better care of our planet if we are certain that today’s grandfather could be tomorrow’s grandchild in another vulnerable part of the world?

 Selfish and opportunistic politicians take advantage of international disputes and supply weapons to the war fearing nations rather than trying to maintain peace. Greed dictates every decision. Occupying territories that don’t belong to them, starting trade wars, pushing countries into the throes of poverty in the name of developmental projects or devious money lending schemes and the worst of all terrorism, chemical warfare and biological wars all of them are crafts of the trade. We even have dictatorial regimes that prey on their own population and suffocate their basic rights. What if the oppressors are reborn as the oppressed? Can they handle the misery that they themselves created?

Disregard and disdain for that which is inappropriate, unfair and immoral just because it doesn’t affect us directly in this birth could spell doom for us in our next birth. If every one understood this fully well and worked to achieve peace and harmony, we can create a better world.

Today if we take delight in racism, religious discrimination, religious intolerance, what if in the next birth we are born into that same religion we abhor or the same race that we tried to trample or born into that same hatred that we created?

If everyone believed in reincarnation, it’s not difficult see what kind of a world we are creating for our rebirth. We are sowing the seeds for the harvest we going to reap in our next birth. If knowledge was used not to create more misery but instead to save and improve lives for everyone, we will be creating heaven on earth for our next birth.

Short Story: The Road That Leads to Nowhere

A village shepherd took his sheep to graze in a meadow outside the village. The meadow was close to the forest so most people avoided this place. On one such occasion when the shepherd fell asleep, a ram, an ewe and a lamb wandered into the forest looking for juicy green leaves. All three of them ate until their stomach could hold no more and rested well. When the family wanted to return back to the shepherd, they realized that they were lost in the big bad jungle.

Since then, the family of three sheep were wandering in the forest, searching their way back home. The lamb played with the fawns, the baby monkeys and the rabbits under the watchful eyes of his parents. He jumped with the frogs, chased the butterflies and scared the lizards. When there was trouble lurking around the ewe bleated and he understood the warning call immediately and ran with them.

As time passed by the lamb grew taller and plump. He became very comfortable with his forest life. He left fear far behind and his confidence grew taller than him. Even though the ram and ewe knew that the forest was not the place for a family of sheep and they were trying their best to find their way back home, the lamb knew no other place in the world and felt that the forest was his home. He thought that 0he can never adjust to the village life his parents described. The lamb never realized how lucky they were to survive so long in a forest.

The lamb’s over confidence and immaturity was a cause for concern. One day a few wolf pups approached him. To him they looked cute and friendly. They spoke of wonderful new places he had never seen and of their way of life that was so different from his own. The lamb suddenly realized how much more freedom and unrestrictive, fearless lives they led. This new perilous friendship brought about a lot of changes in the lamb. He abhorred the vigilance of his parents and how they dictated who to play with and whom to keep away from. “Am old enough to know what’s best for me and don’t I have any choice of my own in my life.”, he lamented. The reasons for his parents watch over him and the restrictions they laid out where beyond his understanding. He thought they were over cautious and looked at the jungle from a very negative view point. “Trust me, I know how to keep away from trouble.”, he told them, “You don’t have to come behind me all the time.”. He spent more time with the wolf pups.

The pups invited the lamb to their house in the cave. “You live in the cave? My mother never allows me to go near the cave.” Said the lamb with a mix of excitement and curiosity. The pups laughed at the lamb and said, “what’s there to fear about the cave? My mom says it’s the safest place in the forest and mom serves us the most delicious food in the cave. We love our mom and we love our cave cause it’s the best place in this whole world.”. The lamb told his emotionally charged sob story to the pups and explained how frustrated, heartbroken and fed up he was with his parents.

The lamb was in a dilemma, a faint voice inside appealed to him to go back home and the loud voice yelled what’s the harm in tasting a bit of freedom. The pups are my best friends and they mean no harm to me that’s for sure, he thought. The lamb followed the pups to his cave while the ewe and the ram bleated their heads off asking him to turn back. They are not our kind and it’s not safe to go with them explained the ram in many ways. They will eat you up warned the ewe. These cute creatures and eat me up thought the lamb. The lamb ran behind the pups into the cave and the wolves guarded the entrance. That’s the last the ewe and ram saw or heard about the lamb.

There are times in our life’s journey when we are present with situations that are so confusing. On the one hand it’s the voices of experience and reason telling us to go one way and temptation pulling us the other way. It takes a good amount of faith and determination to do the right thing. God forbid, if anyone falls prey to temptation, it could mean either the end of a dream career or loss of a golden opportunity. But what if it means the end of life and all happiness like in the lamb’s case? Carelessness, temptation, overconfidence and the like are qualities that are similar to the innocent looking wolf-pups and following them leads to nowhere good. The voice of reason might sound bitter, restrictive, unappealing or distasteful to pallet in that moment but it keeps you going towards your goal.

Lessons We Learn From Our Pets

I read this quote by Christopher Hitchens on pets that every owner would have realised at some point.

“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”

That is a true statement. Because you chose the kind of dog or pup you want. However, a kitten chooses you to take care of it. A cat won’t allow just anybody to pet it. 

Isn’t that interesting, it almost feels like the cat is saying, “I don’t think you are good enough to be in my presence.”

Do I Have The Right To Complain

In our world, there is an abundance of love and a multitude of hate.
I have not seen extreme hatred but, I have also not felt a loving embrace.
Do I complain about the lack of love, or should I feel great for the absence of hate?

I have a family that is overprotective to the point of suffocation,
I know they will not leave me alone to take the fall, but I do not get to try something new and adventurous.
Do I complain about being held back from flying, or should I feel safe that I will never fall?

There is an ocean of opportunities for the talented and the educated.
When my job does not appreciate my talent, and I can only get this mediocre job,
Do I complain about my talent that goes waste, or should I be thankful to even have a job that pays?

I have the drive and desire to succeed.
I lack the guidance and wisdom needed to move ahead and succeed.
Do I complain about the absence of guiding light or succumb to the desire to succeed by any means?

I have my life planned out for me and well-wishers who will arm-twist all my hurdles.
I am standing at the top of the podium getting applause for a victory that I did not win,
Do I complain that I did not get to work my way towards a victory, or should I just stand and soak in all the ill-gotten success?

Weekend Adventure With A Rat

This weekend started like every other weekend. On Friday evening, I caught up with all the news and relaxed on my bed. One news article was playing on my mind. Due to recent weather changes in Australia, they have seen an unprecedented wave of mice infestation. The news article showed images of teams of mice running helter-skelter in barns and fields. Frankly, it scared the daylights outta me. I was taken back to my childhood when I encountered a small rat at school, and in its attempt to escape the room, the rat ran up my teacher’s leg. The incident took place in our music class, it was filled with different kinds of instruments, and the whole scene was complete pandemonium with 20 children, a teacher and a rat running around.

I went to sleep with these thoughts and woke up early the next day to see my nightmare realised. As soon as we opened the backyard door, a small rat ran into our house to escape the rain. As soon as we saw it run into the house, the chaos began. My maid, mother and I were jumping up and down, trying to escape the path of the rat and, hopefully, scare it away. But the rat was here to stay and hid behind the shelves. We needed a game plan to tackle the rat, and we needed it quickly.

Firstly we closed all the other rooms in the house to contain the rat in one place. Since it still was early in the morning, we could not run to the store to get a rat trap or those sticky pads. We each took a broom and started to scour each room to scare it and corner it. After half a day of frantic searching and running around, we managed to herd the rat into the balcony of our bedroom and forced it down the rainwater drain. We immediately blocked the drainpipe to make sure it did not come back up again. Finally, we were able to breathe a sigh of relief. We ended up tired, dusty, and hungry, but the house was once again rat-free.

Though we are drained out, the rat forced us to reorganise the house and remove all waste and useless stuff that was lying around. We did a quick cleanup under all the beds, corners, shelves etc. We did this to ensure that there were no hiding places for these cretins anymore. What should have been a relaxing weekend turned into a home cleaning mission all because of a rat.

The Loved One

Hello everyone!! I want to thank you all for your continued love and support of the blogs that I post. Encouraged by your kind support, I have recently tried my hand at short story writing.

I have written a short story about someone I hold dear in my life. As is my usual style, I wrote the story to record and share incidents and lessons that teach us something. This story is of someone who has taught me many valuable life lessons with love and fun.

The short story is a part of an anthology with 20 stories on the theme of loved ones. You can buy and read my story and the others as an e-book or a paperback version too. Both are available to order online at the links attached.

INKFEATHERS STORE

Inkfeathers Paperback:
https://inkfeathers.com/shop/anthologies/the-loved-one/

Inkfeathers eBook:
https://inkfeathers.com/shop/ebooks/the-loved-one-ebook/

AMAZON PAPERBACK

Amazon India
https://www.amazon.in/dp/8194932459

Amazon.com
https://www.amazon.com/dp/8194932459

Amazon UK
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/8194932459

Amazon CA
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/8194932459

AMAZON E KINDLE

Kindle IN
https://www.amazon.in/dp/B096RZ7FRW

Kindle US
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B096RZ7FRW

Kindle UK
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B096RZ7FRW

Please support me in my maiden attempt at short stories by ordering your book today. Thank you all and, I hope to receive your continued love and support.

How Effective Is Cancelling A Person?

Cancel culture is the latest buzzword nowadays. It is a way to call our small and big celebrities on their behaviour, views, misdeeds etc. Recently, we have seen several famous people who were cancelled for various reasons like their past tweets, behaviour, views and opinions etc. I became aware of this cancellation culture during the very public dispute between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. While Johnny Depp was dropped from major movie franchises, many were calling for the cancellation of Amber Heard. This was when I became aware of the act of cancelling celebrities and what it entails.

Many famous stars and public figures were cancelled in the past years, for example, actors Lea Michele, Chris Pratt, Ellen DeGeneres, Shia LeBeouf, author J K Rowling, Piers Morgan from Good Morning Britain, YouTubers Jeffree Starr, Shane Dawson, James Charles, David Dobrik and his vlog squad, musicians like Marilyn Manson, Lil Nas X, and many more.

Before I start telling you about my grouse with this cancel culture, I would like to explicitly state that I do not condone the wrong deeds of any of these celebrities, YouTubers, musicians etc. Many of them deserve harsher punishments for their actions. In fact, I am happy to see some of these famous personalities get their comeuppance.

Having made that clear, I also want to question what we aim to achieve by cancelling them. Some of the people listed above have done real-world damage, for which they should be legally prosecuted in court. Whether it be bullying, slandering others image, perjury, harassment, endangering other lives, harassing minors etc. When one has done such heinous acts, is cancelling them an apt punishment. Do they not deserve a stricter legal binding punishment? 

All these people who were cancelled were public figures, celebrities that thrive on publicity and staying in the public eye. So it makes sense to cancel them and cut off the celebrity worship that they enjoy so much. It is like cutting off oxygen for some of them, yet we also have people who thrive on negative publicity. People like James Charles and Jeffree Starr have made an art out of issuing apologies every time they are caught and continuing with their degenerate behaviour. People like Piers Morgan and JK Rowling do not care for their cancellation. They continue on with life as if nothing happened.

So that brings us back to the very pertinent question of, ‘How effective is cancel culture?’

It Is Time To Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Often in life, we all reach a point where we are unhappy with the way things are going, yet we are unwilling to try something new. We feel that the known devil is better than an unknown angel. We might have faced many struggles before yet, we find it daunting to work our way out of this predicament. We pacify ourselves that the difficulties don’t outweigh the rewards yet. These are all classic symptoms of getting stuck in a comfort zone.

This comfort zone might be in our relationships, workplace, the projects we choose or life in general. On whichever front, it is just as detrimental to a person to stick to their comfort zone. It forces us to settle for less than the best. Even though we know we can be better and achieve more by taking a risk, it does not matter. Our fear of taking a chance just dulls our senses and distorts our objectivity. Comfort zones are like quicksands that appear harmless until they have pulled us in and we are stuck too deep to fight it.

Our fear to try something new, the inertia to change, the pessimistic attitude towards risk, and so on can hurt us on many levels. They are not just hurting us emotionally and financially but also psychologically. Many people waste their life stuck in the same relationship or job because they are scared to spread their wings.

As with all my posts, this one is also inspired by personal experience. Earlier, in my job, I was so comfortable in my own misery that I stopped seeing it as hell. I made excuses for bad managers, horrible hours of work and less pay. I perceived them to be industry standards. I felt enjoyable work is a myth, and everybody hates their job, so I would just suck it up and carry on.

I have since changed my job and even changed professions. I do not claim that life is better. Yet, I remember why I took the decision to change and that it was a valid concern. So as long as I know that my reason to change, I will not regret jumping out of my comfort zone.

There is no easy way to get out of this. One just needs to find the determination to change. The best way to fight your comfort zone is to keep pushing and challenging yourself. Having a loyal support group to help you change can be a big help.

At the same time, never forget why you have decided to change. As long as the reason is valid, we will always find the strength to keep fighting. Sometimes an honest and rude shock from reality can also wake us up. There are many ways to help you recognise the trap of comfort zones. We just need to be willing to take a step ahead.

Revisiting A Long Forgotten Childhood Memory

In the last week of February, my husband and I were driving in the streets of Ironshore. Ironshore is an upscale community in the outskirts of Montego Bay, Jamaica. There are some beautiful houses in this neighbourhood. Anyway! As we drove towards the A1 highway, my husband suddenly exclaimed, “Seema chintha gubbalu!”. I had no clue what he was referring to.

He stopped the car by the sidewalk and asked if I saw them on the tree nearby. I explained to him that I am hearing that word for the first time. He pointed to a tall tree in a piece of wasteland by the road. Before I could get a good glimpse of the tree, he got out of the car and walked towards the tree.

He picked a delicate, pink and white pod that was curled up and appeared to have burst open. He showed it to me and said that these trees were commonly found in and around his village in India. He ate them a lot as a child.

The scientific name of this fruit is Pithecellobium dulce. I did a little research to know that these trees a commonly found in Asia, Central America, Mexico and South America. It is called by different names in different regions. The bark, fruit, seeds of this tree are used to treat various ailmentsKaushik V. Kulkarni and Varsha R. Jamakhandi from the College of Pharmacy in India have explained a few interesting facts about the tree. The uses of Pithecellobium dulce are described in the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry. It can be accessed at this website:

https://www.phytojournal.com/archives/2018/vol7issue2/PartJ/7-1-390-353.pdf.

The pods of Seema Chintha burst open on the tree when they become ripe and ready for eating. They taste sweet when ripe yet have a mild sour taste at the same time. The best way to describe the flavour is like chewing on fresh rose petals that were sweet. After eating the first one, I couldn’t stop. I ate them all, one after another.

After picking a bunch of pods from the tree, we separated the delicate white fruit from the pod, removed the black seeds and washed them thoroughly before devouring them. I couldn’t help notice the delicate white flowers hanging down. They were so beautiful and feathery that I decided not to touch them. Bees and wasps were hovering around too.
For now, I am going to leave you with this last picture of this Seema Chintakaya. For my husband, this was a wonderful memory brought back from his childhood.

Wise Words Are Like Pure Gold

In an earlier post, I had introduced you to the poems of Yogi Vemana. This 17th-century ascetic had written extensively on morality, ethics, human pathos and spread this wisdom through verses known as Vemana Satakam or Vemana Padhyalu.

The current verse is another pearl of wisdom from him:
Alpudepudu palkunadambaramuganu
sajjanundu balku callaganu
kancumroginatlu kanakambu mroguna
visvadabhirama vinura Vema !

In this verse, Vemana talks about how an unintelligent person can fool others with his loud voice and grand plans. His words are extravagant, but they hold little water. However, a wise man speaks softly, without any drama. His words are few, yet the meaning and impact are profound.

He compares the words of an unwise speaker to a brass pot that makes a lot of noise when disturbed. At the same time, pure gold may appear similar to brass, but it makes no noise.