Sunday, 9 July 2017

The curse of the blue ticks

The former days of land line telephones and long distance letter-writing was a bliss when compared to today's instant messaging. Those days one received a call that they have reached and the rest would not matter until another call was received. But today, the blue double ticks on WhatsApp makes the heart palpitate needlessly. Just yesterday, I was trying to contact X and saw only a single grey tick. For a while, I was calm then the imaginations soared. I tried keep them at ground level but to my dismay, they seem to have a mind of their own. I was frantic for the blue ticks, at least the double grey tick marks. But no. I started panicking. I was thinking about the million possibilities that could have prevented X from seeing the messages - Mind you none were simple possibilities. Sitting miles away, one cannot help but wonder at the million impossible things that could occur.

In the midst of all these, I wondered about the days of yore when two blue ticks did not exist and how people went about their lives carrying on routines without speaking for days and weeks. Even then people were awaiting news but did not require instant blue ticks. The tricks that the mind plays when the blue ticks are missing, is deplorable and I'm not exaggerating. The basis of existence depends on those two blue rascals.

No matter who the person is, the blue ticks are reasons for many fights and heartbreaks. If the person has seen the message at 10. 30 am but responds only at 10. 00 pm, the he/she can be sure of some hard questioning. Now, there are three categories:

1. Single grey tick - message not seen
2. Double grey ticks - Message delivered but not read
3. Double blue ticks - Message read



Either of the categories could cause potential harm if in a particular frame of mind and the most adept at this is the female of the species (I speak for my specie and there is no overt discrimination, I suppose).

Some may ask:
Where were you? Why did it take so long to see the message?
Why did you not respond even if you were online?
I was so frantic, what happened to you? Why only a single grey tick (This question of course plays in the mind)

Now you understand why I consider the blue ticks as cursed. Perhaps the closer the person, the greater the frantic levels!

Let peace prevail in the heart and imagination be reserved for better things.



Image 1 courtesy: Internet
Image 2 courtesy: Internet

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Love, Sex and Growing Up

Today while watching the 1961film, Splendor in the Grass, directed by Elia Kazan ( Yes, he directed the hot Brando in The Streetcar Named Desire), I was wondering how the film holds relevance today, much like what it used to in the 20th century. The film largely deals with sexual repression, mental illness, Christian values, and other related aspects of growing up. Bud and Deanie are high-school sweethearts who enjoy a cosy relationship. While Bud would like to have sex with his girlfriend, Deanie resists, in spite of feeling the same for Bud. She owes this largely to the value system and the concept of being 'pure,' which is drilled into her psyche by her mother and the society in general.

I could closely relate to the film because when I was growing up, things were quite similar to the that of 1961. Every teen fellowship that I attended in Church emphasised of being 'pure' which is being a virgin and keeping the wedding bed undefiled. EVERY. SINGLE. CHURCH. MEETING. My aunts, as soon as I attained puberty would regale how every girl should be like 'fire' and not allow any guy to touch her. Somehow the idea that every boy was evil was drilled into my head. It was okay to fall in love but make sure that the boy in question does not touch you, was the common sentiment. I guess it is no much different today. In school, the couples in love who sat with an arm's distance from each other were always held up high on a pedestal. And if by chance, anyone tried talking about how the kiss of last evening, she would be labelled as a 'forward' girl - whatever that meant.



Teacher, priests, aunts, parents, even peers were always advising on how boys were mean creatures who have been sent by the devil to seduce and corrupt the girl. In the entire picture, it was conveniently forgotten that girls had the same feelings as well. Both the sexes were battling a thousand diverse feelings of passion and desire. In the film, Bud is quite exasperated and frustrated when Deaney does not allow him to go beyond kissing; He slowly withdraws from her in spite of loving her immensely. His father also advises him that he should have two kinds of girls - one the good kind like Deaney and the other - the one who would sleep with him without any qualms. Bud does that precisely but cannot two time Deaney and so breaks up with her, driving her to an institution for the mentally challenged.

The film in passing mentions Freud whose experiments on the connection between human psychology and sex made great breakthrough in the 20th c.  The film knits together various aspects of love and sex in a beautifully written story. Watching the film, I was led on a rueful journey through my teenage years and the various incidents colouring those times. While no one spoke of practising kindness, compassion and the virtues of knowledge, sex without being named was the preoccupation of every adult and of course, every teenager.



I hope the times are gradually changing now and parents strive to have healthy conversation with their children about various topics that affect them as they step into the turbulent teens.

I quote lines from the film, from the poem Splendour in the Grass (also the name of the film) by William Wordsworth:

What though the radiance
which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,
We will grieve not, rather find
of glory in the flower,
Strength in what remains behind;
 . . .

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Missing trepidation

A new academic year is on the threshold but this time, I seem to be calm and collected in starting the new year. Usually, I feel anxious and jittery but this time it is a different feeling altogether. I don't know whether it is the familiarity, or a sense of belonging or something else. Last year around the same time, I wrote about how I feel anxious and a sense of butterflies taking flight at the deep end; I guess I have passed that stage but that also makes me wonder whether it's the age - ageing does that to you! Nothing seems to surprise or shock you and you have the uncanny ability to anticipate and foresee happenings, reactions, responses and everything else. For example, I can exactly predict what my colleague will say when I ask him/her something; I know what response a student will give when asked some inane question. So much so, I can even predict how meetings and exams will go. Hmmm. No place for novelty, it spells out loud!

But wait, there are moments, tiny ones, which take you by surprise and in some cases, extreme surprise, which make you feel alive and reassure you that yes! moments like these are also there - invisible but there and that they needed to be provoked. Now, it does seem that I am contradicting my self - perhaps so, you have to give some credit to my thought process which is getting rusty and mellow with age! No, before you even start thinking, "Ah! No, you are not so old," let me assure you that this has nothing to do with ageing but ageing of the mind and experience.

That said and done, I await moments - moments that make people engage to their utmost levels devoid of compulsion, marks, people-pleasing and doing-things-for-the-sake-of-doing. You get the drift, right. I just hope and pray that the forthcoming year gives me moments to cherish and job done sans procrastination.

New semester, here I come! Are you ready? 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Coming home

It has been a year since I last visited Chennai. You know how it is! When one is away from one's home (now, which one is this? I have three - the home where my mom is, my husband's home and my home in Goa) - I would call it the Chennai home, the place where I grew up, studied, loved, lost and finally left after getting married. Well, staying away from Chennai makes me yearn for it - pining would be a strong word, perhaps longing would fit - Chennai in my imagination is all mellow and soft with edges burnt with the flame of nostalgia and preserved smells like a template. I go ooh and aah and let out sighs and sounds of emotional outbursts to the great amusement and anger of my sibling who finds my gushing a bit above the prescribed limits. I don't mind those admonitions feeling only happiness and loaded sentiments.

Then the heat gets on to you - First it touches you, you brush it off; Then it spreads across, smothering you, you try to ignore it; It coerces you to say it, I suppress the words;

Finally, I spit it out - "It is so hot! Goa is not so hot!"

The entire bubble of emotions and nostalgia goes away, Woosh! Then another wave of nostalgia fills the gaping hole of the previous one - Well, this wave is the grand narrative of heat nostalgia - Of how it used to be hot those days and we did not bother but now the heat is unbearable and that we have become creatures of comfort and that we were better off without internet, blah blah and that we read and played and ate chilly-*^%$ing-mangoes! Ah! Have you experienced nostalgia fatigue - where one nostalgia replaces another and finally you wonder whether the reality that you are living is much better.

Coming home is always lovely - until your imagination wears off and you itch to get back to your regime and routine.

Assessing my states of mind sometimes I wonder what is the home that I am longing for - this is a perennially running question in my mind - whether home is a place, person, emotion or imagination and I wonder whether I will ever get an answer.

I wish it was as simple as clicking 'Home' on Facebook and watching the people on your list ranting, raving, expressing and lying.

Monday, 1 May 2017

The taxi ride

It was balmy and mellow January evening. If you had grown up hearing, "Chennai has only three seasons - hot, hotter and hottest," then this evening would have put that statement to rest. There was a nip in the air with the hangover of Christmas and the dawn of a brand new year. The year was . . . never mind! Sita was looking out of the taxi's window and thinking of a time when she wore pinafores and sported a pixie. She remembered the name, 'Vinit' distinctly. How could she forget that name which was always hounding her during her classes, in her History books and by her friends and his who were constantly hooting his name when she passed by. The taxi-driver honked and Sita not the one to let go without a conversation, started talking to the driver.

"Where are you from?"

"Tambaram."

"How long have you been driving the taxi?"

"Five years."

"Children?"

"One boy. He is quite smart. he wants to become a Collector when he grows up."

"That's wonderful."

The conversation stopped mid-way when the taxi reached his house. He was waiting. Sita was seeing Vinit after twenty years! A grand rush of a giant wave of nostalgia hit her. She did not know whether it was the same for him. He greeted her and seated himself in the front, next to the driver.

"For *&^%'s sake, we are meeting after so long and you occupy the front seat and not to the place next to me," Sita fumed but smiled when he politely asked her how she was. "I am fine. It has been a long time, no?" "Yes, almost twenty years," Vinit mused. It was quite evident that the same rush of nostalgia was hitting him as well but he effectively controlled himself while directing the driver to the restaurant which was in a beautiful location.

The restaurant situated next to a water body was a lovely place especially when one was washed in a wave of colliding pasts and presents. The seating formalities done, the pace was awkward. Sometimes when one has been out of contact for long, starting and continuing a conversation becomes uneasy and stressful.

"What would you like to order?"

"Some starters and a cocktail perhaps."

"Okay."

"So, how are you? Tell me everything since the time you left school," started Sita.

"Where do I start?" answered a smiling Vinit.

While the details of the bygone was shared and the concoctions were being downed, it became apparent to Sita that Vinit had not changed much since the time she knew him. It was surprising to her that this evening was the first time they had spoken comfortably and long. In school, it was a brief exchange in corridors save the one time when Vinit directly approached Sita just as she was preparing for an exam and trembling asked her, "What did you ask my friend?" Sita finding herself in a quandary quickly hushed Vinit away mumbling something about the exam in a few minutes.

"So, do you like the food?"

"Yes. Not bad."

It was time to leave and the same taxi was waiting for Sita and Vinit, who insisted that he will see Sita home and return in the same taxi.

This time Vinit sat next to Sita. The evening with its coolness and the sugary drinks stirred Sita's insides that the moment Vinit's body slightly brushed her's, she felt strange sensations that started from the pit of her stomach. She was dizzy with pleasure for a man who was by and large a stranger during her school days and with whom she just had the first 'real' conversation. Perhaps January's balmy evening was the mischief, she bemused.

Without thinking, in a husky voice, she whispered, "Vinit, I feel like holding your hands."

"Hold it then."

Carefully and gently, Sita interlocked her fingers with his. Silence. Sita first gently began to knead Vinit's fingers, building the pressure gradually. Vinit was squirming and pressed his body next to Sita's. With the pressure of Sita's fingers on his, Vinit, kissed Sita on her neck gently. The bodies speak a different language under the thrill of building pleasure. Vinit had started to breathe heavily whispering, "I still love you, Sita. I wish you were mine." Sita silent yet speaking through her fingers.

The taxi-driver could not fathom that the girl who had been talking so earnestly with him a couple of hours ago, was a different woman now - those types which indulge in heavy petting in the taxi's back seat.

The taxi had reached the bend of Sita's home. It was time to say goodbye. Both Vinit and Sita knew that they might not meet again.

Some taxi rides are a concoction of past memories and present desires, bemused Sita as she stood waving to Vinit as the taxi whirred to life after dropping her.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Familiarity

At the shack:

First time: Smile
Second time: More smiles
Third time: How are you?
Fourth time: The usual?
Fifth time: How many children?
Sixth time: _______________


At the grocer's:

First time: Smile
Second time: Prices are going up
Third time: How many children?
Fourth time: Smiles


At the Staff-room:

First year: Hellos and how are yous
Second half year: What about children? Hurry up before the bus leaves the stop
Second second half: No children, more time no?

Familiarity definitely breeds contempt!


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