Friday, 12 October 2018

We are TEN today!

Milestones are always a reason to be happy even if I am the lone one celebrating the same. On this day, in 2008, I had started out the space - A space of my own to store my thoughts, meanderings and reflections. The name did not take long to materialise unlike the thought of keeping this wee space alive and throbbing. Many times, I have been tempted to shut down this blog for I felt that I wasn't giving it much attention. I'm glad that I did not!

As always, I pledge to write regularly, to keep my thoughts safe and freeze them for posterity.

Leaving you with some of my memorable posts:

1. When the house lizard signifies 'home'

2. Forgiving and Forgetting . . . I could add a clause there

3. What stuff is humour made of?

4. Working hard to reverse stereotypes

5. The Journey - A Conversational Post

Here's to many more!

Thanks for sharing the journey of my meanderings and reflections. Hope we continue to travel together in the days and years to come.

Keep visiting!

Monday, 8 October 2018

'96 - Gender fluidity and conversation beyond words

Last evening, the husband and I watched a Tamil film '96 starring Trisha Krishnan and Vijay Sethupathi. My sister had earlier nudged me to watch the film. I quote her, "Don't have high expectations. It's a simple film. Just sit back and enjoy." She was right about the film being simple but she was wrong about the high expectations. Watching films quite often, as audience, I guess we allow ourselves to imagine cliched dialogues and familiar situations; This cliche is what was absent in C. Prem Kumar's '96 - a nostalgic walk sans the melodrama and long tear-jerked dialogues. The film's power lies in the unspoken words and quiet moments interspersed with a powerful soundtrack. It was as if the lyrics of the songs were snatched from the minds of the audience.

'96's strength lies in C. Prem Kumar's treatment of the entire plot coupled with beautiful cinematography. The visuals in the introductory song was subtle, beautiful and set the tone of the film. But what captured my mind was the way the director broke down the roles of men and women. Ram (Vijay Sethupathi) was not the macho alpha-male who tries to prove his brawn and brain all the time - he acts feminine at times and does not fail to feel shy or cry when the situation arises. Similarly, Janu (Trisha Krishnan) is not the coy and gentle character - she takes the lead in the second half of the film and comes across as someone who does not hesitate to ask questions and chide Ram as the situation demands. The presence of her thali or meti does not interfere with the bond that is shared by the erstwhile lovers.

The entire second half of the film's tension lay in the premise of whether the erstwhile lovers will profess their love and probably make love - but Prem Kumar destroys those age old cliches and gently leads us through the night. Sometimes when nothing much is conveyed through words, the facial expressions and body language take over and this is precisely what happens in the film. I must confess that I break into tears quite easily and '96 was one such film where I was reduced to tears, not once or twice but during several instances - the tears were for the powerful lyrics of the first song, the thought that something might have happened but did not, the blink-and-miss situation when K. Ramachandran went to see Janaki Devi in her college and all the What ifs which were generously spread throughout the course of the plot. The word 'perhaps' is the tagline of the film for me - The perhaps and the what ifs caused the free flowing tears and I guess that would have been the cause of the many tears that were shed by the audiences who watched the film.

The tears also flowed for the bygone years which was so familiar to me while I was in my X, XI and XII standards. I fondly remembered the long walks in my school's corridors where boyfriends/girlfriends waited for a glimpse of their beloveds; the quiet, stolen glances in classes, the sharing of tiffins, the school uniform, the absolute lack of communication when someone is absent and no means of finding the reason, the cycle sagas, the hero pen, the splashing of the ink on the last last day of school, the innocence of first love and FLAMES - Prem Kumar brought every element of those days alive for me. It comes as no surprise that my batch was the batch of '97 - not very different from the batch of '96. I could identify every single character from my own school days and perhaps that's why the film moved me and the fact that I am so away from Tamil Nadu and everything familiar pushed those extra tears to fall. 

Sunday, 7 October 2018

The Janus-faced attitude towards the holy cow!

This evening, listening to radio and making a mental list of the groceries to be purchased, I was broken out of my cocoon when our vehicle stopped abruptly on the NH 17 B, a little before the Dabolim junction. There were many vehicles which had stopped and people were running helter-skelter; We also saw many cattle running on the highway. We sensed that something was amiss. While we were guessing an accident, we saw a calf lying down on the highway, a little before our vehicle. It was almost on the verge of dying. My husband had just stepped out of the vehicle to find out what had happened because there was a crowd a few meters ahead of us - another cow, a pregnant one had been hit. There was also a bike which had fallen down and there were no humans who looked injured.

As I was taking in the situation, a man from somewhere rushed with water and poured it on the calf and gently into his mouth. It was a moving sight nevertheless raising questions in our minds - Would someone have cared if a dog or cat was hit. AND the question of straying cattle also accosted our minds - On the one hand, we revere the cow and raise its status to that of a mother and giver so much so that hell breaks loose when beef is consumed in certain parts of the country BUT the 'holy' and revered cows are left on their own to stray, eat plastic and disrupt traffic on the highway. This dualism/Janus-faced behaviour could be seen in many aspects of religion and culture - Revere the goddess and hold festivals in her honour but to think that the goddess could menstruate and bleed is unacceptable.

The issue of the cow and the woman is but an instance in the Janus-faced behavioural pattern of the citizens of this country If the cow could be seen as an extension of us and our family then the question of allowing it to stray and eat plastic does not arise at all. Since the cow is seen as a being worthy of worship and reverence, it is kept away as the 'other.' This process of othering by veneering is not something strange to the Indian society. For hundreds of years, there has been a dichotomy of the self and the other of humans and non-humans. This brings us to the question of nature-culture, which is often seen as a dualism. The primal community by calling the tree as their sister or the dwelling place of their ancestor have included the same in their daily lives in spite of giving due reverence to the tree but in the state society, the cow which is compared to the mother, earning the term, 'gaumata,' is a mother only in name; The mother is left to stray and even die in some cases. If such is the treatment of the 'holy' mother, I cannot but imagine the state of the literal mother!

Similar sentiments expressed in this blog-post is echoed in the documentary, The Plastic Cow (watch here: by Kunal Vohra. The documentary shows the two-faced treatment meted out to the cow and the sad state of plastic accumulating the stomach of the cow.

India is a country of contradictions which are often crude and sad and it might not surprise me if the swear words, "holy cow," was coined in India (it is not, though)!

Sunday, 23 September 2018

What happens when you plan to lose yourself?

Yesterday after a long long time, I had an opportunity to listen to a flute recital by Pandit. Pravin Godkhindi - yes, a wonderful time to lose yourself in the notes of the flautist! The evening had just began and we were settling down as the musicians were warming up. Alas! the setting had something else that was not part of our plan - The three ladies in the front row had settled down as well BUT with their conversation and attending calls on the mobile. That they were sitting in the midst of a lovely flute recital was of no concern to them. They why attend the recital, is my question.

Without much thought, I blame the mobile phone revolution that has bereft people of courtesy, manners and kindness - the three which stand in direct contrast to individualism! The three ladies were insulated as they enjoyed talking in 'loud' whispers and blissfully attended to not one but several phone calls while also filming the flute recital when they weren't busy chatting. What irks me is that I could not ask them to stop, while my companion after a few irritated looks, decided to ask them to STOP. Well, they did stop attending calls but started talking in loud whispers (I bet they were berating us).

The mobile phone which has no doubt given us many pluses has also insulated us while amidst a gathering, communal gathering and so on. Imagine this: we are enjoying a quiet lunch with our loved ones and all of a sudden the mobile phone buzzes - we rush to get the call in the meanwhile breaking the invisible circle of the chatter and catching up; While we finish the call and return to the circle - the circle has closed and it takes an effort of ten to twelve seconds to get back. But after getting back, if further calls are encouraged, then the afternoon is lost.

While it is easy to dismiss young ones of the mobile culture, it is sad to see that this phenomenon has seeped into every age bracket and gender. Have we lost the meaning of collectivism after the mobile has entered our lives?

Does the small machine control our behaviour so much so that we forget a lovely flute recital and attend to small talks?

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Teaching at 25 and after 35

The title gives away the topic and I guess that you already know the content of this post but then HOW I say it matters, and I hope that this keeps you hooked.

The passion: Waxes and wanes

The energy levels: Waxes and wanes

The students: A general lull in life

The subject: Partly exciting, partly drudgery

The feeling every morning: Depends

The situation (physical, mental and emotional): Like a graph

End result: Growing older also means that one has some firm ideologies and notions which are a bit difficult to alter nevertheless I tend to allow myself to be questioned and amused by students. Sometimes it so happens that I already know what is going to be uttered but I still shut up because students - sometimes tend to surprise you and break your pre-conceived notions!

Will I teach forever: I don't know

Would I like to teach forever: I am pondering

Bottom-line: CARPE DIEM (Every single freaking day!)

Friday, 22 June 2018

Vacation conversations in Kerala - Mostly

Hello, when did you come?

How long you are here?

When are you leaving?

How did you travel?

Did you travel alone?

- - - - - - - -

Hello, how long are you here?

When did you arrive?

Is it raining there in Goa?

How did you travel?

When are you leaving?

- - - - - - - -

Hello, how are you?

When did you come?

When did your college close?

How long are you here?

How will you travel to Goa?

When is your college reopening?

- - - - - - - -

Hello, hope you are well.

When did your college close?

Will you travel with your husband to Goa?

Did you travel alone?

How long will you be in Kerala?

- - - - - - - -

Repeat mode for all the days when I meet people.


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