Sunday, 20 July 2014

Is the positive body image message creating lazy individuals

The avalanche of posts and essays on positive body image is astounding. The body and the individual relationship is the subject of many self-love promotion articles and is a relief to read when compared to the many articles on promoting a slim body. BUT what is alarming is that the signals sent by the positive body image posts, along with enabling people to love their body is also creating a steady group of lazy people. People have started loving their body a bit too much that they fail to understand that they are abusing it when they deprive it of exercise and a balanced diet.

Let me cite an example from my own neighbourhood.

X is a beautiful and successful young woman who earns an amount that is quite obscene. But it also happens that X is obese and is quite happy being so. Her success and pay package give her a confidence that many women don't have. She is independent but refuses to acknowledge that she has to be fit and healthy. I often see her consuming junk food like nobody's business and inspite of me gently coercing her to exercise, she winks at me and says, "I love my body. It is me." Agreed. But if you love your body, why not take care of it! Last week, X fainted while rushing to work and was diagnosed with low blood pressure and was advised to exercise in order to reduce her weight and keep other related lifestyle diseases at bay. Thankfully, she has started walking and also seems happier (at least her body must be for the walks!).

I admire X's audacity and openness to admit that she's on the heavier side and that she embraces her body but isn't her self-love also preventing her from exercising. If not laziness, then what?

Many individuals think quite falsely that exercising and eating sensibly is for people who are on the heavier side. When I discuss walking and exercising to many of my friends who are naturally skinny, they scoff at me saying, "Only people like you need to walk, not me." Really? Who are you kidding? Just try to bend and touch your toes with your hands. I bet your brittle bones will crack! Admit that you are either ignorant or lazy.

Eating sensibly and exercising is for everyone and especially if you actually admit to 'loving' your body, you should be able to understand its needs. Eating whatever comes your way along with working insane hours without adequate sleep and rushing through breakfast does not show your proclaimed love for your body.
I know that we all have certain body types and that they should be accepted and loved but being lazy and depriving the body of what it requires is definitely part of the 'positive body image package.' Period.

Disclaimer: If being lazy and sexy without exercise and sensible eating is what you believe in, then who am I to burst your neon bubble!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

On killing a tree and related thoughts

Long ago, in one of the poetry sessions, I cringed and squirmed at the detailed killing of a tree as depicted in Gieve Patel's poem, "On Killing a Tree" but today unwittingly I was party to killing a tree in our garden. A semi-grown nearly matured sweet-lime tree it was but sadly my lack of knowledge coupled with my domestic help's insistence, I sought a gardener and asked him to chop the sweet-lime tree. All was well until my husband roused from his slumber and followed the scene of the 'action' disturbed by the sounds. His look of dismay and choice words of admonition, nearly shook and unnerved me. It seemed quite unforgivable. Being a meat eater and watching live chickens being killed did not evoke such passion in me as the incident today. Even now as I recollect the bright green leaves and the threatening thorns of the tree, my mind fills with shame and sadness. I wonder why this should shake me and not the ghastly killing of chickens and goats and all that I consume. Perhaps it is the thought of having seen the tree everyday for almost eighteen months, watering it and at times talking to it while standing next to it while watering the plant. Perhaps it is an emotional response than a plantarian (Like humanitarian. My own coinage) one.




I mourn the loss and go on to dream of a supper of chicken curry and bread.

Leaving you with Gieve Patel's "On Killing a Tree"

On Killing a Tree

It takes much time to kill a tree,

Not a simple jab of the knife

Will do it. It has grown
Slowly consuming the earth,
Rising out of it, feeding
Upon its crust, absorbing
Years of sunlight, air, water,
And out of its leperous hide
Sprouting leaves.

So hack and chop
But this alone wont do it.
Not so much pain will do it.
The bleeding bark will heal
And from close to the ground
Will rise curled green twigs,
Miniature boughs
Which if unchecked will expand again
To former size.

The root is to be pulled out -
Out of the anchoring earth;
It is to be roped, tied,
And pulled out - snapped out
Or pulled out entirely,
Out from the earth-cave,
And the strength of the tree exposed,
The source, white and wet,
The most sensitive, hidden
For years inside the earth.

Then the matter
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,
Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,
And then it is done.

(From POEMS, published by Nissim Ezekiel, Bombay 1966)

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Mixing memory in reality

R responds to memory in a meticulous fashion. He never speaks of the past as often but while passing a place that was once dear to him, he never misses an opportunity to turn back and freeze the sight. I can clearly see that in the present, he is looking at his past and reminiscing his days spent in the portals of his Alma mater. But with me the scenario is the opposite. I don't turn back and hope to see me in another bygone time. Not even a fond glance. Sometimes, I find that a bit strange - an attitude of having grown rather outgrown the memory. People close to me find it scandalous. I choose to remain quiet, almost absent from the scene. I choose to see the bus stop where I stood. The car passes by the road and then turns. The once-upon-a-time familiar road is just another road where three years' worth of foot prints might be buried somewhere beneath the layers of tar and cement. Nursing dreams and chasing love marked those days of wanton abandon. No, they were not the best days of my life. I choose not to eulogize those days. 

The days pass by. Reality is something tangible not the memories. Sometimes the past is alluring but jaded and yellowed. They are no longer mine though they hold me chained to another reality and time. I like R's way of seeing things. He does not speak about his past in glowing adjectives nor does he miss an opportunity to mix a bit of memory when reality is happening.

Dear Reader, pray tell me what's your thought on this.




Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The magic of monsoon

Waiting for the rain to come and being delighted seeing it pour is almost akin to waiting for the beloved to arrive and awake one's senses. Rain is magic to the senses. I like the rain when I am indoors but in Goa being outdoors during the rain is hassle-free and pleasant. Just the thought of hearing the pitter-patter of the rain droplets and falling asleep is heavenly and the feeling continues when one wakes up to the gentle hum of the rain outside. I never complain when my newsfeed bursts with pictures, songs and posts of rain. After all in a place like India, the respite from the heat and sweat is always welcome.

Rain has the ability to bring a smile on the face and a spring to the step. My domestic beams when I open the door. She tells me how cozy and cool the weather is and she finds it difficult to get out of bed. I smile and tell her that when it rains, I tend to get up quite earlier than the summer days. She smiles. Rain gives a light feeling to our senses and every task becomes a pleasant one. Well, sometimes the rain does add to the gloom of the inner mind but that's an occurrence that limits itself to maybe twice or thrice during the complete monsoon season. I guess a lot depends on the place that one lives as well. Rain in Chennai also makes me jubilant but Goa takes the huge chunk of joy quotient. Another happy effect of the monsoon is the appearance of many birds in our yard. I spotted many small birds chirruping and making merry in the rain. After a long time, I put my binoculars to good use by trying to spot birds sitting afar.

Rain is romance and romance is breath of life - Raising a toast to the magic of rain in Goa!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Lizard in my potty

It's one of those days when my urge to pee is rather urgent and I practically dance and run and make it to the toilet and rush to make myself comfortable when I spot a tail . . . I can understand that I eulogized the house lizard to mean home but the tail sends me into spasms err . . . convulsions of horror. Though the meek lizard does not scare me or sends me freaking out, the thought of sitting on the potty with the fear of the lizard springing up into my . . . is rather scary. Well, thankfully, we have another toilet and I quickly made my way there. I was back twice or thrice to see whether the poor fellow had made it outside the WC but to my utter dismay, he or she was still there almost forlorn (my interpretation) and sad.

This incident led mt to wonder on many similar aspects of life. We take so many things for granted and expect it to be the same always. Come on who thought that a lizard, of all places would land into a WC and shoo me into the neighbouring toilet. I shudder to think what I would have done if there was no alternative to this. I was able to pee because our home had another toilet. If not, would I have used the lizard-in-the-potty toilet? Would I have overcome my fear and let go of the creepy feeling to attend my urgent call of nature? Would I have played brave? It's easy for me to philosophize over a post but still the thought niggles me and I am unable to stop the rush of possibilities.  Well, I could have always sat down and let the stream of water flow out. Well, what if I had to shit and there was no other option but to sit on that lizard-inhabited-potty? My mind also thought of the hundreds of people who squat on open spaces with the risk of being bitten by scorpions, snakes and women especially who are prone to many untoward incidents while going out to relieve themselves.

Some questions remain as questions alone. I guess I am chicken to even think of the options. I always play safe, you see.

What about you?

Image 1: Internet

Friday, 13 June 2014

When Austen turns D for desi

While airport hopping, I happened to pick a copy of Anuja Chauhan's Those Pricey Thakur Girls (2013) and after a few pages was struck by the semblance of the setting to that of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I tried hard not to compare P & P to TPTG but uncanny similarities between the Bennet girls and the Thakur girls did not allow my racy mind to stop the game of comparison. The pride of Debjani, the leading character of the story though has the pride of Elizabeth is but a pale shadow of the latter and Debjani's beau Dylan is after all a fond memory of Austen's brooding-charming-romantic hero Darcy. The eloping of the third daughter brings memories of Lydia and Wickham and of course the family drama that ensues is a reminiscence of the Bennets and their fancy balls and groom-hunting for their girls. I can understand that when one wants to pen a novel about the family complete with five daughters and extended family hullabaloos, it is difficult to do so without a faint Austenish hue to the entire setting. Chauhan has painted a book which can hop, skip and jump into a Bollywood set and I have even imagined the entire cast of the book. I think Anushka Sharma would make a crackling Debjani while Ranveer Singh would fit well with the lean and butt-sexy Dylan. I must admit that I found the 'butt' fetish of the girls a bit weird considering the fact that not many notice the derriere almost like a person's life depends on it!

The story was quite predictable but that's not what it is all about. How the story twirls and unfurls to lead to the predictable is the art of story telling and Chauhan has managed to deftly spin that tale. The episode of Debjani adding her own lines to the script of the news comes as a pleasant surprise to the reader who has all the while been imagining a trillion twists (thanks to Bollywood) to reach the 'happily ever after' scene which the discerning reader knows will definitely arrive.

Another reason for me to pick the book was one distinguished professor mentioning Chauhan's name after dismissing the entire lot of mushrooming 'writers' in today's India. He highly recommended Anuja Chauhan and asked us to pick up her books before casting a judgement on all the writers of today. Piqued by curiosity after hearing the Professor and seeing pictures of TPTG splashed liberally on my Facebook news-feed, I ventured to try this book. Quite a breezy and light read considering the fact that I completed the reading in a few hours short of twenty-four. This is the first of Chauhan for me and I would like to read what she had written before TPTG. And, for a person who has given memorable taglines such as "Yeh Diil Maange More" (The heart asks for more) and the lovable tune, "Oye Bubbly, Oh Oye Bubbly," Chauhan does have a penchant for words and phrases.

Yes, the desi Austen has conjured memories, stories and unforgettable characters with Those Pricey Thakur Girls.



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