Wednesday, 7 December 2016

December

December has always been a lovely month for me. It is an amalgam of many sweet things, like, the chilly evenings and mornings, the Christmasy feel in the air, a sense of new beginnings and many others. The image of December that first comes to my mind is the delicate flower of either white, yellow, purple or pink that blooms during this month. Many women in Tamil Nadu string these flowers to adorn their hair. Once when I happened to look out of window here in Goa, I spotted many white December flowers. For few seconds, I wondered whether I was at home or in Goa. These flowers start blooming by mid-November and are sighted till mid-January, till the winter has packed its bags and left, giving way to spring and pongal.

This December and last has added a new set of memories for me to associate with this month - the floods of 2015 and the deaths of 2016. While the chilly evenings still remain, the thoughts are punctuated by the knowledge that people who were part of our collective memory are no longer alive. It will be quite strange when I go home in Chennai with the knowledge that our Chief Minister is no longer there. Sometimes, when bad news of home is heard when one is miles away from home, I guess the impact is slightly deeper. On hindsight, the emotional outburst at the loss of someone who I was not quite familiar with, seems a bit strange, December will always remind me of 'Amma.'

December also brings many other memories of songs, music and imaginations. But then I blame the nip in the air for those melancholic thoughts. Sometimes melancholy is sweeter than joy; The knowledge that the melancholia was once a lovely page of memory brings sweet joy.

Ah!

"All in the saddle we spend Christmas Day, / Driving the cattle over snow covered plains. / All of the good gifts given today, / Ours is the sky and the wide open range.…"

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

I wish I had known - A tribute to Steveroni (1933-2015)

One reason why I haven't shut my blog is that I have my treasure trove of memories in the posts, comments and pictures. That I have not been frequenting here is another story by itself but today, I wish to record the absence of one such peep whose sad demise was unknown to me until two days ago.

My beloved Steveroni.

From the time, I began blogging, he has been a regular peep who popped lovely, funny, insightful and genuine comments every now and then. We then connected beyond blogs and started communicating through emails and then Facebook. He used to blog in The Fourth Dimension and now and then I visited his blog as well. But those memories belonged to my active years of blogging, which were between 2008 and 2012. The posts were intermittent but we always managed to keep in touch. He last commented on my blog on 07/02/2015. How I wish I had blogged regularly so that I would have somehow known that the silence from Steve meant that he had transitioned.

This irks me about the online world, that some things are never known. Perhaps people might miss the posts and wonder but some would never know. How strange it is to realise that the happy and vibrant Steve would never ever comment on my Facebook posts or my blog posts!

Perusing his Facebook profile and comments, I got to know that Steve has passed on to the other world in September 2015 and a year later, I start wondering and get the news. I also think what I would have done if I had known earlier?

I would've not awaited his comments on my posts on Facebook.
I would've not checked my mailbox for a reply for the mail that I had written to him.
I would've not awaited his posts on my posts.

This is the second peep that I have lost from my blogging circle. And, to think that I have not even met him makes me melancholic. I wonder how many friends are still in the dark about Steve awaiting his comments and words of wisdom.

I will miss you dear Fiddleman - Hope we meet somewhere there. Until then, be well and spread cheer - which you have taught us to do.



An excerpt from one of his mails to me:

Do you know? I had a strong feeling that your life was changing for a month or two. You 'writings' had changed. Finally, that "JOY" you wish us all seemed to have found its place in YOUR soul. You can see I wish you the best--even writing TWO replies. (I always over-do emails and posts--grin!)
PEACE
S

Sunday, 31 July 2016

The forgotten bucket list

Way back in 2010, having bucket lists and ticking off items from that list was something everyone was doing. I am guessing that people still do it. Many blogs I had then followed had these fascinating lists and also encouraged others to have a list. I did make a list and labelled it "101 Things to Do Before I Die." Those days, I was a passionate being, quite restive and found a thirst for many diverse things/activities for me and my family. Later I even ticked off certain items with a smug feeling. For a long time now, I had forgotten that I had a list like that. Today, while rummaging my Google mail folders, I saw a label titled, "101 . . . " and felt nothing; There was no desire to do those things listed there and what I once saw as fascinating, did not evoke any vigour in me. I think somewhere down the line, I just stopped imagining that I needed the urge to experience certain things.

I would not say that I have lost my zest for life and living but I have let go of that hot pursuit of experience that I needed to possess before I die. Perhaps I have learnt the art of acceptance - the acceptance that if something has to absolutely cross my path, it will! In 2010, I was a different person - scarred by certain life-changing episodes and learning to cope with crises and hence I was desperately looking for a purpose, maybe to keep me distracted and busy and the bucket list seemed a fantastic placebo. But then as I began healing within and life started in full force - I forgot the bucket list.

Getting married, finding a job and engaging with every single day with complete focus and concentration has somehow left me with little time for bucket lists. Today, the list makes me smile and wonder about the diverse things that I wanted to do sooner or later. I still want to do some of those things but I have no urgency - I will do it when I do it but never do it for the sake of doing it or striking an item off my list.

That said and done, I am in admiration of people who draw a list, patiently tick the items off and experience new levels of adrenaline rush. They remind me of me when I was down in the dumps and full of energy for something purposeful and fun.

Sometimes, only sometimes, I wish I could have the same gush of excitement as I had when I was eagerly drawing up a list to tick off. Ah, well . . .

Monday, 25 July 2016

Watching Kabali in Goa

I cannot say that I am a fan of the Superstar Rajinikanth but I like to join in the excitement that surrounds him and his films. Having been in Chennai for the better part of my life, a Rajini release did not incite any excitement in me. I did have friends and acquaintances who went insane over tickets and detailed planning on first day, first show matters but I remained aloof from all of them.

Then marriage happened.

Along with marriage, change of location happened.

Then Rajinikanth became one of the synonyms for home and Chennai.

It is always said and largely believed that one starts craving for home in different ways, some of which are quite unusual and one of those was Rajini. Heaping praise for the superstar and getting a high talking about him were aspects of me that baffled me. Very easily, I could turn from a demure teacher to a crazed fan of the Superstar when my students criticised him. I was always a fan of good acting and films that were close to reality. But Rajini was beyond the circumference of my usual like of films. He is a phenomenon worth studying - a vortex that one gets pulled into willingly.

But for the first time catching a Rajini film after two days of its release was something I did not expect that I would end up doing (I guess earning and having one's one own money in addition to living out of Chennai does that!) I JUST WATCHED A RAJINI FILM YESTERDAY!

Watching Kabali was an entirely different experience in Goa. The theatre was housefull (what else!) and almost the entire hall was filled with Tamil speaking people. It was definitely a joy to behold Tamil Nadu in Goa! But alas! my joy was short-lived because many of the Tamils here were only Tamils by birth and not spirit. The children were not as fluent in the language and hardly knew the charisma and wonder of Rajini. They sat there placid and unmoved while I was jumping and hooting in glee. I was quite sad that I was not able to whistle otherwise I would have shrieked with full power. The claps and hooting were only present when Rajini first made an appearance in the film after which the spirit slowly ebbed away. I was quite excited and beside myself and could hardly contain myself whenever the superstar crossed his leg or uttered, "Magizhchi," (translated joy) but everyone around me were unmoved.

For me Rajini is not Rajini but my years of growing up in Chennai, my memories of school, sightings of huge cutouts of superstar when any of his films were released, friends bunking classes to watch first day first show of Rajini's films - In short HOME. Home means many things to me but on this occasion, home was Rajinikanth and Chennai. This explains why I was a bit low when I did not spot any cutouts, life-size posters or any merchandise of the superstar - In Goa and for Goa, Kabali was just another film (from South India). I went to watch the film not because it was a Rajini film (I also watched Mani Rathnam's O Kadhal Kanmani on the second day of its release) but because I wanted to vicariously experience the spirit of my growing up years and memories of distant teenage.

Needless to say, I enjoyed the film - the complete package with popcorn, hooting, clapping, standing up and applauding the man and also shedding copious tears when the superstar misses his wife whom he assumes to be dead.

Thalaivar - magizhchi!


Sunday, 12 June 2016

Ruminations before the beginning of a new academic year


My college on a rainy day


My college reopens in three days. It will be my third year in this college and after spending two years with the various departments and people, one feels that one has seen it all. In spite of my two years here, I feel a certain anxiety coupled with anticipation when I look forward to the coming year. I will be teaching the same subjects albeit one and more or less familiar with the students as well. The introduction to new energy levels and slightly different goals and aspirations gives me the feeling that a thousand butterflies are preparing to take flight from the pit of my stomach.

I wonder whether every teacher has this feeling of an anxious anticipation. Perhaps they might or they would have become comfortably numb carrying on their business like a robot which is devoid of any tingly pre-academic year sensation.


The path leading to the main entrance again, on a rainy day

Alongside, I also wonder whether I will be like this after ten years. Will a new academic year make me feel giddy with excitement and anxiety. Will I look forward to the raging adrenalines of young students as they burst forth with tireless hormones and shiny smart phones. Will I be able to cope with the information overload that my students seem to possess, challenging me with news of the latest gadget or the selling price of an IPL team. Will I smirk at them when they say that FC Goa has won over Chennaiyin even without me having watched a single match.

Although I complain to others and the students themselves that the ought to shake off their susegaad attitude, I like their company better than the whiny adults who lose no time in making lives miserable for those around them. Well, this is not a sweeping generalisation and all students/adults do not fit into that description. There is a lot of trust and sense of belonging when I am in the company of students. To cite an example, once a senior member of faculty happened to be a bit rude with me and immediately the students started showing their solidarity by vocally stating their position on the rudeness. Even though that incident warmed my insides, I am careful not to take sides or even show a minute iota of affirming their actions. Well, sometimes I tend to romanticise the student-teacher relationship.


The lovely triangle campus with glistening rain

Now, standing at the threshold of a brand new academic year, I cannot wait to find out what kind of students I will be meeting for each class and how they will respond to my theatrics and eccentricities -- They will either take to it or brush me aside as another old soul who tries to be in line with the young minds of this generation.

Ah, well! I hear the pitter-patter of the raindrops as I write, diverting my attention to the beautiful weather. I shall pause to revel in the rain and leave ruminations of my new academic year to be soaked by the smell of red earth and pouring rain :)

Picture credits: Author's own

Thursday, 9 June 2016

A collage of this and that

The past few months just gushed by giving me more than a bowlful of memories. I am afraid that the bowl is slightly overflowing. It happens almost always - there are so many things happening with us or around us that we fail to stand/sit still and savour one moment. But I managed to savour many such moments. It is June and half a year has already whizzed past giving a glimpse of an international conference, some solid academic contacts, a discovery of beautiful places and monsoon in two of the states closest to me - Goa and Kerala (in that order).

Sometimes when beauty happens, there is an urgency to preserve the moment - I somehow want to scribble atleast few lines capturing the moments but I refrain more out of laziness than a stoic vow to etch the moment in the crevices of my mindscape. Alas! How many such moments will I strive to remember. I also realise that I remember only certain happenings; my sister tells me of a time when she was rather pale and sick but me, being me, don't even have an iota of remembrance of that episode. I loathed myself for the loss of that memory. Age is rapidly spreading its tentacles on my once-upon-a-time-sharp-memory. Then I remember that one is only as old as one thinks. Bullshit. One is forced to think of the age only when there are obvious symptoms, such as forgetfulness, in my case.

I guess I should just BE. Thoughts of memories, remembrance, nostalgia and so on and so forth should just happen, not forced out of the person's being. The blog is one such place where I strive to preserve memories but then, did I just say that one should live in the moment and no matter what I do to write what I remember, I am fabricating a story which is romantic and readable. What could be said in a few words, I drag to a post and then gloat over the written crap. Well, I am overfed with so many stories these days that my stories seem jaded to me. Quora, today, jolted me with a line that said that passive entertainment should be cut off from one's life if time and productivity should be improved. I guess that is precisely what I should be doing - limit my online reading of anything and everything ranging from the Stanford rapist to Trump to breast-feeding to yoga poses for a sexy back! I have become a carnivore of the highest order when it came to chewing and swallowing information.

I am tired.

I wish I write more.

I strive.

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