Archive for the ‘Life Stories’ Category


Vector 2015 Happy New Year background

Image from

It was like yesterday when I sat to scribble what I wanted to accomplish in 2015 and how I wished it should be. I wonder how the year went just like this (snap!). Throughout the last few days of december 2015, I tried to recall what I did apart from the incidents I used to write in my everyday journal. When I say what 2015 has taught me, I am very grateful for people who entered, and re-entered in my life. I also acknowledge people who choose to stay with/leave me in my life.  Without all those people, I m not I’m.

Confronting fears: I never really understood that I have been running away from certain things that I was afraid to face. However, I did not choose to confront them but this 2015 made me to do so. It was a severe downtime of my life I must admit for I was not even able to comprehend my feelings. The moment I had no choice but to accept I am failed, I was nervous, ashamed, guilty, and what-not! Somewhere in the corner of my heart, belief on healing time stick. Now, I see how 2015 also had a way to heal me from inside out. Eventually, I felt not just better, but best. I feel liberated.

Confronting makes you stand naked but, trust me, its all only for good. 

Say ‘No’: I have got this valuable advice from at least 3 of my mentors years ago. It is in 2015 that I actually used it. I let people took advantage of me that I ended up doing all their works or not doing anything for myself. I gained some courage and finally said NO – although with much difficulty. I faced the consequences and finally decided to move away from them. 2015 taught me that our life is too short to make every single person entering our life happy. On the other hand, I also realized that it is very important to think before you decide on who you would like to keep in your life. Also, it is important to make sure that you don’t give up on relationships without trying your best. My struggles with certain people went beyond my thoughtful decision and several give-ups. I not only decided to move away but to be careful of not falling again.

Certain personalities are simply incompatible with ours and the best we could do for anyone is to cut them off. 

Travel anywhere: One of my 2015 resolution was to simply visit 12 new places. However, I was able to manage only 5. Those were an Anjaneyar temple, few places in chennai, Kutrallam, Nilambur in kerala, and Chandigarh/New Delhi. Among these, chennai and chandigarh/ND are academic. I enjoyed a lot in Nilambur (a tiny travelogue is still in my draft) among all because it was purely non-academic. My second voting is for Chandigarh/ND as I got to meet so many people and see a different India. Although chennai is my least favourite, it is still close to my heart. 🙂

Make travels mandatory to break your routine and relax!

Reader-me got busy: Just like travelling, I had a resolution to complete 10 books (non-academic). I completed only 3. I love to read slowly. I found I had no time to focus on reading something non-academic when I have heaps of text-books and articles for exams. Therefore, considering my other commitments, I decided on 6 books for 2016. 😀

Read slow so you enjoy more!

Journal differently: I decided to write my journal everyday in 2015. When I read it over, things were very mundane unlike 2014. It might be because everything happened is still fresh on my memories. I also realized that I miss writing in Tamil, my mother tongue. So, its time! ❤

Write in your mother tongue despite mistakes. It will only get better! 

Gracias, 2015! For all the big and small lessons! 




Screenshot of the menubar

Screenshot of the duolingo menubar

Learning a new language opens up a new world. I read somewhere that the best time to learn a language is during childhood. However, I believe it is never too late to explore your language learning abilities. With this in mind, I have some interesting stories and insights to share. This is not just my attempt to learn hindi, then the so called national language but also a way, I discovered, out to learn any language. (FYI, India has no national language)

Back in those days, all the school going kids take up learning hindi in private classes as their hobby because of the parental pressure or maybe whatever. Passing through the levels such as Prathmic, Madhyama, Rashrabhasha, Pravesika, etc, you can finally acquire a BA (? I still doubt that but never cared to verify it) in Hindi. Regardless of the degree, I have seen how passing those exams are a matter of pride. I believe that a good institution and a right motivation can help in really learning hindi through those set of levels. I do know many people who are skilled in Hindi through this way of learning. However, I should also not deny the fact that so many people simply copy the text books and pass the exams only to get a certificate and advance to the next level. Obviously, nobody can see the point in that. After all, why do you want to ‘learn’ a language like that? I have been a ‘good’ student at school as I usually get into some top ranks.

Photo from Dewey’s Treehouse Blog

Until 8th grade, I was going to Hindi tuition yet learned for the sake of ..(well, I really can’t figure out that). Unlike my elder sister (Oh, she is always good at studies), I did not learn Hindi well enough to complete. I do not even care to which level I have my certificates.  😀 By saying so, it would be so unfair if I say I learnt nothing. It is only because of those private classes; I can read and write in Hindi and also converse a little (a little).

While my years in Bangladesh, I realize how I am capable of learning a new language. Again, I had to take up few Bangla classes but those are mostly to help us survive outside our university. It was a good start yet the real learning came from the environment around.  It was not only those Bangladeshi friends, but also the news channels from the neighbouring apartment, ricksaw wallahs (with whom we pretend that we are Bangladeshis too), shopkeepers, strangers on the road, field trip experiences, etc (sigh!) are the factors that contributed much to my Bangla. Eventually, I was able to go anywhere and get things done with my Bangla speaking skills. Although I did not learn enough to read and write the language, I am so glad to learn Bangla that always sounds sweet (now a lot nostalgic) to me. (sigh!!)

Bangla Letter. Photo from

Yes, there were several moments that gradually taught me the way I can learn a language. Those self realization moments helped me understand myself better and accept the way I learn things. I think it’s by living with the people, one can learn not just the grammar but the funs intended with the words, phrases and intonations! I can feel I am among them. I am never offended or bored when people around me talk in their mother tongue that is not mine. There is nothing more intriguing to guess the meanings and assume what it is about. (Definitely, not eavesdropping!).

green bird

Screenshot of Duolingo logo

While my bangla learning happens naturally, I came across this initiation to teach foreign languages. That is duolingo with a green bird as its logo. If you think, learning, especially language, should be fun, then, duolingo is for you. I have known their work since their inception. Serving as a great example for edutainment, duolingo is absolutely free and is available as mobile applications. “Practice makes a (wo)man perfect” – how true! But, really, how many of us are bored to do our routines? Well, duolingo has implemented several techniques that can keep you inspired everyday to practice your language. It provides you a virtual environment where you can hear, speak, read and write the language. Awesome! Isn’t it? Also, you can earn and invest lingots into lessons that can teach you idioms, and flirting. 😀

Just as any other websites, duolingo requires a signup and that can be done ‘manually’ using your e-mail account or ‘automatically’ using your facebook or google plus login details. Although the latter method is not highly recommended when speaking of cyber crime prevention techniques, it helps you to find your friends who also use duolingo. As the whole purpose of the duolingo is for learning, it only allows you to follow your friend to get updates about her progress and, I guess, comment. After you sign in, you can choose the language that you want to study and the language through which you want to study.

duolingo leaderboard

Screenshot of your progress along with your friends in duolingo.

A set of lessons appear that you can start with. As you complete the basic lessons, new lessons will be made accessible for you. If you already knew the language and just want to check yourself and learn more, there are some test outs in between those lessons. If you complete those tests, you need not go through each and every lesson to unlock new ones. Once you complete the set of lessons for a topic, your strength bar will be full. However, as you learn your new lessons on different topics, with certain time lapse, the strength bars in some of the previous lessons will decrease. Definitely, there are a lot of logical thinking and programming skills going behind this technique. You may occasionally deal with fulfilling the strength bars in the old topics or you may simply move forward.

I can remember that I have used this app some years ago but only twice until April 2015. As much I know the importance of this app, I have also been lazy in practicing. The good news is that I have figured out my routine and I am on it now. Therefore, I use duolingo more regularly. I am not a fan of any virtual games (online/video games). And, competing with others is also not my way of getting inspiration to learn. Yet, I love to see my progress and achieve my vision.

duolingo dailygoal

Screenshot of my progress on daily goal

According to duolingo, I have reached level 9 of Spanish lessons and acquired 36% fluency in the language. Can’t wait to attain 50% by the end of 2015! I have set my daily goal as only 10XPs which can be earned with the completion of just one lesson or by strengthening once in an already learnt lesson. When I get more than a week of holidays, I planned to set my daily goal as 50 XPs. Although these past two months were my vacation, the real challenge is the upcoming months. I would like to stick with 10XPs everyday as it is attainable in few minutes, increases my streaks, thus, keeping me an everyday Spanish learner.

duolingo my profile

Screenshot of my profile in duolingo

5 out of 5 stars to Therefore, if you think you are someone who can only learn a language in its environment, then go and Duolingo! I would love you read your replies to this post if you have something or anything to say! Also, if you have any suggestions for websites similar to duolingo, I would love to try it out.

Muchas Gracias!

Life in War

Posted: June 19, 2010 in Life Stories

Sangeeta (name changed), 22, studied nearly one and half years in Access Academy and currently doing her undergraduate in AUW. She has spent nearly 20 years in her motherland, Sri Lanka, and has seen the disasters of the Civil War in Vavuniya, a district in North-eastern Sri Lanka. She grew up in such a society where the sounds of the bullets triggered from the guns, unexpected blasts of bombs, everyday mourning and bloody carnage are common.
Since this is the first experience for both of the interviewee and the interviewers, there was little nervousness and tension. We mainly tried to focus on Sangeeta’s personal life amidst the situation of the Civil war in her place. As Sangeeta experienced the difficulties in her life from childhood, she was very emotional and was continuously illustrating how the bomb blast and shooting were done by both of the Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan military. One instance of her life experience in war took a long time in the whole interview process. In general interview process was smooth as Sangeeta was honest enough to explain her childhood experience being in a situation of war.
During the interview it seems that Sangeeta understood the questions and our intensions and her answers were very relevant especially about her travel and educational facilities. She and her family faced many problems just for being a Tamil. One of the difficulties that they had to face is that their family in Vavuniya had to undergo more formal processes for travelling to their capital or to get admitted in a college than the families in the southern part of Sri Lanka had to do. It seems that the government officials or the militants are dubious about almost all the Sri Lankan Tamils. The Tamil Tigers were defeated and the Sri Lankan government declared victory after killing the leader of the LTTE. When we asked Sangeeta about the defeat of Tamil Tigers who fought for the equal rights of the Tamil people, she became emotional and talked in Tamil, her mother tongue.
Sangeeta had really tried her best to express her opinion as a Sri Lankan Tamil. In addition, she was very descriptive and recited how she felt the war as a naive child. Now that she knows about the political unrest existed in her country, she should have included some critical opinions about the war and have at least talked about the damages that Sinhalese community faced during the same war. Although the main focus of the interview is Sri Lankan War, we also talked about her family, father’s occupation, travel and education in Vavuniya and her new little brother. She almost answered what we have asked and she seemed very bold enough to say the truth to the world. Overall the entire interview is quite challenging because of the need to ask more questions with the time constraint.
During war, even the head of the family, her father, was afraid and insecure. She says that her father took Sangeeta in order to show the militant that he is a family person. This shows how insecure their community people were. One of the interesting things is that Sangeeta’s family has accommodated nearly 20 victims after the war. They have also been adopting a baby boy who has lost his parents in the war and this touched our hearts. We are really amazed at Sangeeta’s opinion about war. She says war is unnecessary and it ends up losing people from both the sides. I do agree with her opinion!
“War is not necessary”