Friday, 17 October 2014

When two friends from those times came visiting

The past two days have filled me with a special flavour of joy. One doesn't use flavour in the context of joys, isn't it. But joy does have a flavour - nostalgic flavour, romantic flavour, happy flavour and so on. Well, the flavour of joy that filled me was the nostalgic types. Yes, in the span of two days, two bloggers/friends who had not paid a visit to my blog for a long time stopped by to say hello and record their thoughts.

The connection between Asif and me goes to 2009 when he used to frequent my blog and I his. We shared similar thoughts and a love for fine words. His comments were long, succinct and warm. His words filled me with joy and I would wait for his knock on my blog.


Asif stopped his visits. We did correspond over mails but even they stopped in 2011. Then wonders of wonders, I find his comment on my last post. he brought back memories of those days when traffic to my blog was heavy and comments came pouring in.

It was a joy to see Asif stop by and record his thoughts like old times.

Thanks Asif.

The second visitor is a long-distance runner whom I met over words and thoughts - Myriam Loor. We chanced upon each other's blogs and were quite regulars at each other's space. Running took her away from blogging and though she is a fantastic runner, I miss reading her blog posts which were practical, everyday instances which I could relate to. We are Facebook friends and pass by each other quite often but the intimacy we shared over our blog space was special.

Thanks Myriam for the comment. It was indeed a joy to see your name in my inbox - a reminder of earlier times.

Blogging is indeed special and it always will be!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

35 years on the face of this earth!

It has been a long time . . . nearly 35 years on this earth. It does evoke wonderful feelings of warmth within my insides. Does it feel different? No but still everything is not the same as before. I have always maintained that birthdays are special - not because i celebrate my birth but because I am alive to celebrate life and its fulness. No, everything hasn't been a smooth walk on a clean surface but yes, the walk has been worth the journey. I revel at the small and big joys life has given me and also my ability to receive them.

I celebrate the thirty-five years of having seen, experienced and lived the life that I call mine. I deem it as my joy to have shared this span with many people - some who still remain and some who have taken different paths. I am grateful for the treasures of music, emails, bloggers and books that has enriched and sustained me.

I raise a toast to the joy of breath and thought.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Signs of the times or mere carelessness

Every teacher I come across (I should say colleagues, I suppose) laments on how most of today's students are completely oblivious to their roles and responsibilities. And if one gets carried away, it is not quite difficult to agree with my fellow teachers. There is a strong sense of I-care-a-hoot attitude in most students of the present generation. This predicament often leads me to think of my student days and whether our teachers also shared the same feeling that we were oblivious to our duties. I like to think that we were naughty and quite the rebels but never careless about our responsibilities. I can also support this statement with examples of some of my own students. There are quite a handful of naughty and mischievous students who are also quite careful about their duties and responsibilities. I still vividly remember my classmates and batchmates - Of course, there were the usual boyfriend-girlfriend issues, not completing homework, late coming and many such common issues but not many students showed a bashful and aggressive attitude towards teachers. It baffles me to just see some students who are completely devoid of common sense, good manners and some social responsibility but I am also quick to add that not all students are like this.

I can relate when my colleagues seem quite miffed by the general behaviour of the majority of the students these days. Do we blame their parents, internet, or just dismiss their attitude as that of the times. But why are the times feeding a bashful and I-don't-care attitude? Is it the short attention span or the mindless thinking that one is empowered and hence can act in a certain way? The information technology, I reckon, has fed people with so much information without any support system that one tends to think that one is wise and intelligent. Humility was still a virtue when I was in College and it still is in some quarters. Can we dismiss behaviour of this kind as signs of the time?

I am thinking and wondering about the handful of students who still remind me of my days as a student. When a handful can retain some 'old-school' traits, why not the rest. As a teacher, I feel responsible for this kind of behaviour and at times feel quite powerless as well. Maybe teachers who have been there and done that can answer me. And, that does not mean I am new to this. I have been in the field for quite some time but still my queries remain unanswered and incomplete.

Dear reader, pray tell me what are your thoughts on this.

Friday, 29 August 2014

When Angelina Jolie (finally) married Brad Pitt

The Occident always amazes and amuses me. When I read the news of the celebrity couple getting married, the first question that arose in my mind was - "Why did they have to wait for so long and come on they already have six children to boot?" In fact, I was speaking out aloud in my mind the existing cultural differences between the Occident and the Orient. In terms of love, marriage and legalities, the Western world always confounds me. Take for example my friend Christine. She has been seeing her boyfriend Bill for over ten years and naturally I had assumed that the question of getting married is an obvious. But no. When I asked Christine about their wedding, she injected aloud before exclaiming, "Well, he hasn't even asked me yet!" Now it was my turn to let out an interjection. Whaat on earth? Well, in India (atleast the one I know), if someone was going around for quite some time, it was a given that they would be married. After all those years of courtship, the question of a formal asking is out of the question. The only question is, "When can we possibly marry?" But Christine's answer stressed that inspite of love and marriage being the common denominator the way it happens is quite different in both these cultures. I therefore assume that people can be together for quite some time and choose not to get married or they would prefer to wait until the time is right (which is after getting a brood of six!) But then, this is not the case with every Western couple. Christians mostly are in a committed relationship and marry once the guy in question has asked the girl. Now, whether the asking is just a formality or something that is done to confirm the relationship is unknown to me.

When I was discussing this with R, he opined that in the Western world, the legalities come first than issues of trust and comfort. If not, why did Pitt and Jolie take so long to formalise their bond. Didn't they trust each other or did they second guess that something might go wrong and hence it is not wise to enter a formal and legal bond? Now, after being together with a person for an extended period of time and sharing almost everything - emotions, days and nights, children, bed, bodies and so on, how can one just go on thinking that if something goes wrong, one can leave. Is it trust versus legalities or something else?

In India at least, the moment one falls in love, it is not amusing or naive to think that one will get married to that person. In fact, most of us were like that. We thought that naturally love would lead to wedding; Of course, life taught us that it is not always so. Even then the idea of going out and waiting for the guy to ask for the hand is a bit ridiculous. What if the guy never asks? What if the guy thinks that his position is not quite sound and takes his own sweet time? Will the girl in question wait endlessly inspite of living together with the guy. These and many more questions amuse me when I think of the Western world and their systems. But sadly, the urban population in India is tilting towards these systems and I fear the day when the whole world resembles America.

Dear reader, what are your thoughts on this?

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Lover of books but undecided about THE book!

Many times I  have been tagged to list the first ten books that come to my mind when I think of the books that have affected me. I am always at a loss. I panic. I feel strange because it is quite difficult for me to list books like that. I know one always remembers and treasures the memory of books that have had profound influence on us but I fail miserably in that exercise. I do accept the tag and list down the books but I have to try hard to recollect the books that 1. I have read and 2. The ones that have affected me. I just can't do that and I admire those who can just list books like swatting a fly off their face or something. I adore books. I can't have enough of them. I hoard them and I can beat any miser to it. I hate lending books though I always want to borrow! I would rather buy a book for someone than lend one of my own. When someone discusses a book I like, I willingly join in but if someone asks me just like that, 'Who is your favourite writer?' I go blank. I always weigh endlessly - trying to somehow mask my great confusion and I almost always end up blurting the first name that comes to my mind. And the first name is the name that has crossed my weighing and has been sieved out - but still the name is not THE name or the book THE book. I hope you get the drift.

The world of books and writers is something that I cannot fathom. It is like a sea where one swims and it is quite difficult to say which part of the sea fascinated me. I mean every single part belongs to the bigger whole and every single book/writer contributes to the whole experience of reading and enjoying the world of books.

Every time I take up the tag, I end up thinking extra hours about the books I enjoyed reading and how each one has affected me. I coerce my thick memory to squeeze out atleast three or four titles. No. My mind has a mind of its own and it refuses to relent. I give up and forget the incident until another tag by my book-loving friends comes up. My rigmarole begins afresh leaving me wondering about the different titles that haunted me since the time I had signed up for the pleasures of reading and escaping into untraversed lands and diverse people. And, each time I escape and return, I am a new person. I allow myself to be reborn in a metaphorical way. In the journeys of Che, in the passions of Marquez, in the dreams of Coelho, in the ramblings of Bach and many many others, I have lost and gained myself. I was moved beyond my limits and I returned renewed to the present. At times my present coagulated with the book's present!

I cannot list books off my head for every book works in me in a unique manner. I allow myself to be!

Reader, do you share this predicament with me?

Monday, 18 August 2014

(Un)Changing gender roles and general perceptions

Since the time I have started working, my husband and I have made some adjustments to our roles and responsibilities. One of them is cooking - while I prepare the breakfasts and dinners, my husband takes care of the lunches. These changes are made to suit our timings and availabilities. Since he remains at home during mid-morning and early afternoon, it is easier for him to prepare lunches.

But alas, these changes are almost attributed to the man being considerate and extra loving towards the wife, which I won't deny but the vital point is being narrowly missed. The point that cooking and cleaning is the sole domain of the woman and anything that is beyond those parameters is seen as a stroke of luck. WHY? Generations of cooking and cleaning has rendered the act of cooking and cleaning as the woman's work. And if the man assists in the kitchen or doing the laundry, the message sent is that he is being thoughtful and considerate.

Everyday at my workplace, my husband gets admiring phrases and loving vibes when I mention that he prepares the lunch. Women who are fiercely independent with their own salaries and strong opinions also tend to believe that cooking and cleaning is a woman's work and if she gets any help from her husband, then the wife is a lucky person.

Nothing has changed. It will take atleast a 100 years to change the mindset. The actions, roles and responsibilities might have changed but the fact that certain jobs are for certain genders has not changed. And, this is not something in India alone. When I read some posts/articles/essays, the author who is a woman credits her husband for being a darling, sweetheart and understanding husband/boyfriend simply because he takes care of the laundry and does the dishes.

I know that I am writing about something that has been done and dusted atleast a few million times and inspite of that I am confounded by the fact that nothing has changed. Feminism exists and most urban women are aware of it - either through first-hand or second-hand experience AND all these theories of women empowerment has not stopped women from thanking and praising the men to the skies when it comes to doing household work. Women still think that cooking and cleaning is their job and if anyone offers to relieve them from that, then it is an act which deserves praise and glorification.

And only men (some, atleast) can say that cleaning vessels is therapeutic. Ask that to a woman and she would show how actions speak (and cause immense pain) louder than words.

A long way to go . . .


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