Thursday 11 December 2008

Into December . . .

well well well. its almost eleven days into december and few days for a brand new year to start. a beginning of new things, one assumes and ardently hopes. hope is a good thing. it keeps one alive with expectancy, it creates a pregnant desire for change and above all believes in the power of things that 'might' come. even yours truly is a victim of hope. there are many four letter words that come to my mind but hope always stands out. maybe the situation forces one to have nothing else but hope. it is good to hope and be hoping: note the semantic difference. one is a noun and the other is a verb, i presume! i never liked grammar. the poem, 'a grammarian's funeral' by robert browing, lighted my senses as the title brought a hope of death: death of grammar. funny, yes but sure. well, meanderings and ramblings have a pattern - they don't follow the norm, they follow the stream of consciousness. the term brings virginia woolf to one's mind.

the rambling goes on and so does hope and ofcourse december and another year of ramblings!

Friday 5 December 2008

the railway gate operator

another random conversation. this time the person was the one who operates the railway gate in the meenambakkam gate. often one sees them and pass by with a smile or a nod but never really talk to them. their personality is so subsumed by the railway lines and the gate that they ofter seem part of the railway landscape. last night while waiting for the railway gate to open, i struck a very casual conversation with the gate operator. he along with another man were doing the night shift which starts by 9 at night and ends by 7 in the morning. he tells me that he has been doing this for the past 25 years. in the given day and time when one shifts jobs as a matter of routine and satisfaction quotient, this man seemed happy and content doing the same job for 25 years!! (reminds me of a song which also has the number 25. for 25 years living next door to alice) well, he seemed proud of the job he was doing. he patiently explained as to how there were two levers and both have to be used simultaneously otherwise it will lead to a confusion of signals and the trains cannot move. it almost seemed that he and his colleague were the reason for the trains to move, stop and proceed without any hassle. the man (i am very apologetic here as i did not ask his name but then his identification lay more with the trains, the railway gates than his name). he told me that he will be retiring next year and that he has only six more months to go. i innocently asked him, 'what will you do after that,' for which he replied, 'i have done enough, what more will i do?' i felt rather sheepish asking that question to him. the small room that is provided for the two people is quite anything but a room and there is a mosquito coil emanating fumes through and through choking one's breath. i asked the man whether they knew all about the trains and their timings to which pat came the reply, 'no' as the trains can be delayed or cancelled so one cannot say the exact time (i would have used this opportunity to proudly exhibit my total knowledge about all the trains passing but he chose not to - a lesson learnt).

well, that was one memorable tete a tete with a person of the railway landscape. connecting with him that night made me humbler in many ways. contentment, joy and a very no nonsense attitude is something quite hard to find these days where 'my space,' 'my individuality' rules the order of the day.

Sunday 30 November 2008

Treading on to December and the last month of 2008

Sitting few hours away from the next month, I wonder at the passing November. I must say that the month did not take very kindly to me. Or is it the other way round? Did I not take November in the right spirit . . . Well, I can ruminate and introspect. Reading the Big B's blog was truly connecting to him in several spheres. He may be the ruling man in Bollywood but his blog connects one to the man - the real man who is great, vulnerable, sad, angry, tired, sleepy, grumpy and many other things. I resisted writing comments on his blog, maybe I wanted to be a secret reader of his everyday travails. It unfolded like a page of the book of his life. He is like any of us and is humble enough to show it and bare it all. My admiration for him has moved in degrees. Nice and neat blog. Well, coming back to a review of the passing November, all I can see is that I am not what I had assumed I was. When bared of high talk and emotional strappings, I was a vulnerable woman standing and waiting for something nice to happen. Well, that is me and was. maybe at this instant I am changing and growing. November will be etched (I say this as of now) in my mind or maybe in later years it will become a faint and faded page of history that exists but does not seem as alluring. History interests me now but earlier it did not. maybe things might change like that. Sweet November you are passing by . . . I cannot thank you less for you unfolded many things that were unnerving and moving at the same time - The floods in Chennai, The Mumbai episode and certain aspects that involved yours truly. I shall wait to enter december with hope and grit for that will lead me on the new year with promising horizons - Sometimes unknown melodies do seem sweeter than heard ones (Thanks to Mr. Keats for this).

Reader, never lose hope. Always keep sight of joy for sometimes it likes playing hide-and-seek.

Friday 28 November 2008

Why do I not smoke but write and talk . . .

a quality that i am very proud of! why do i not smoke but write and talk? let me make myself clear that i am not against smokers or smoking. maybe i have some health concerns with being an active as well as a passive smoker but absolutely nothing with the quality of smoking. i am sure about that, you see. well, that is why i prefer to talk and write. talking with people, writing long hand written letters, tapping away mails on my computer and off late writing these blog entries. i frankly do not know who is following my blog, i do not even know whether anyone is remotely interested in reading my meanderings and ramblings but still i write. i write for me, myself. like hamlet who said, "let me and my bosom debate a while." this quality of hamlet struck a chord with me during those days and still is struck to the being, that is me. well, that is why i precisely write - to allow a debate with me and my mind, heart or whatever. the 'high' that one gets from smoking and drinking and see it as a way to lift oneself from whatever situation (maybe they genuinely feel it that way), i do with writing to people and of course talking to people. for a long time, i did not talk, the way i am talking vociferously now. i kept myself from talking and sharing but now i talk and talk and meander and coax people to follow me, my thought processes, my feelings and my pains. by talking i share and force my inner dialogues to hit the outer realm, i.e. my mouth. when i talk, i get responses, maybe they are responses that don't make me comfortable, maybe they are responses that scare me, maybe they are responses that soothen me BUT i get responses nevertheless. what say, reader? smoking and drinking can be a social affair or an individual one but there are side effects like cancer (i cannot think of anything more) but talking and writing, do they have any side effects? maybe they do, of a more deeper kind. whatever the case, they are not as painful as the insides being slowly eroded. and talking and writing is an addiction worth flaunting. that is why i write and talk instead of smoking.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

How Cannot I not Nag . . .

Well, sometimes the mind works so fast and makes one beserk that one needs to do something. Well, this contradicts the path of meditation and being calm, but sometimes I choose not to be calm and let my impulses drown me. Then I realise, "Was that me?" Then I hit myself - this is me under an absolute adverse situation. Well, I surprise myself at times and hope that the surprise element does not shock someone else as someone else's perception of me. After the mind works on me and forces restlessness on me, I sit by and wonder, "Is this the done thing?". Well, the saner me says "NO" but the emotional me says "Why not, what else then?" This is what precisely Eckhart Tolle tells one not to do. But did he have any idea as to how difficult its going to be once a situation arises. I did enjoy reading Tolle but in reality it was difficult to follow him. Maybe one should resort to the adage, "Practise maketh a man perfect."
Striving to seek and not to yield!!

Friday 21 November 2008

Allowing pain to wash over and drown you

Pain is always seen by one as something negative which causes a llot of heartache, loneliness and a low feeling. It is definitely true that pain does cause all the above given sentiments and in addition to that there are also other things that pain causes. It causes a cathartic therapy within one's being. Pain is always seen in a negative light but little do we realise that the same pain which causes so many ebbings of neagativity makes us something hard to break. it is therefore good for pain to envelope us, drown us and submerge us. We often get restless, cause ourselves misery and welcome sorrows with arms open wide little realising that all that we need to do is wait for the pain to get inside of us, break us and thereby shake us out of our comfort zonez. Now comfort zones are something very personal and subjective and every one of us possess atleast one such comfort zone. That is the point. We need to destroy one comfort zone and get out of it knowing fully well that we can come out of our comfort zone but alas! we form another comfort zone. Now what if that pain becomes our comfort zone. Well, it is the best comfort zone ever as pain subsumes us in sorrow, there is an internal cleansing going on. A washing machine effect that cleans, wrings and finally dries. The end result need not be written down to be found out. Experience pain and let me know the results.

Wecome pain, welcome loneliness for in that you can find out your self.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Something that made sense to me!

The real meaning of security
Our obsession with protecting ourselves makes us less safe. That's the message from Eve Ensler, who travels the globe to end violence against women.Eve Ensler October 2005 issue
I am worried about our single-minded focus on security. I see this word, hear this word, feel this word everywhere. Real security. Security check. Security watch. Security clearance. Why has all this focus on security made me feel so much more insecure? What does anyone mean when they speak of security? Why are we suddenly a nation and a people who strive for security above all else? In fact, security is essentially elusive, impossible. We all die. We all get sick. We all get old. People leave us. People surprise us. People change us. Nothing is secure. And this is the good news. But only if you are not seeking security as the point of your life.
Here’s what happens when security becomes the centre of your life. You can’t travel very far or venture too far outside a certain circle. You can’t allow too many conflicting ideas into your mind at one time as they might confuse you or challenge you. You can’t open yourself to new experiences, new people, and new ways of doing things. They might take you off course. You cling desperately to your identity—you become a strict Christian or a Muslim or a Jew. You are an Indian, an Egyptian, an Italian or an American. You are heterosexual or homosexual or you never have sex. At least that’s what you say when you identify yourself. You become part of an us and, in order to be secure, you must defend against them.
You become your nation, you become your religion, you become whatever it is that will freeze you, numb you and protect you from change or doubt. But all this shuts down your mind. In reality, you are not one drop safer. A meteor could fall from the sky, a tsunami could rise up from the sea, someone could fly a plane through your building. All this striving for security has in fact made you much more insecure. Because you must watch out all the time. There are people who are not like you, people you now call enemies. There are places you cannot go, thoughts you cannot think, worlds you can no longer inhabit. So you spend your days fighting things off, defending your territory and becoming more entrenched in your fundamental thinking. Your days become devoted to protecting yourself. This becomes your mission. This is all you do. You find ways to get as much money as you can and food and oil and everything else you need to be safe. You take these things from other people if you have to and devise new ways to do that. You invent security systems to check pockets and IDs and bags. Every object becomes a potential weapon. I travel a lot and every time I am in an airport there is a new security threat—one week it’s tweezers, the next week it’s rubber bands.
Of course now you can no longer feel what another person feels because that might shatter your heart, confuse your basic thinking, destroy the whole structure. Ideas get shorter—they become sound bites. There are evildoers and saviours. Criminals and victims. Those who are not with us are against us. It gets easier to hurt people because you do not feel what’s inside them. It gets easier to lock them up, humiliate them, occupy them, invade them, kill them. They are merely obstacles to your security.
But all of this offers only a false sense of security. Real security means contemplating death, not pretending it doesn’t exist. It means not running from loss, but feeling it, surrendering to sorrow, entering grief.
Real security is not knowing something when you don’t know it.
Real security cannot be bought or arranged or accomplished with bombs. It is deeper. It is a process. It is the acute awareness that we are all utterly interdependent and that one action by one being in one town has consequences everywhere.
Real security is the ability to tolerate mystery, complexity, ambiguity—indeed hungering for these things.
In my life I have defined myself at one time or another as a Feminist, a Buddhist, a Jew, a Vegetarian, an Anti-Nuclear Activist, a Bisexual, a Playwright. I wanted to be included, to be a part of something, to be approved of. I wanted to locate myself, not be lost, avoid messiness, avoid death. All of these identities have protected me from my shadow, my darkness, my sexist/racist impulses, my meat eater, my violence.
As a part of V-Day, an international movement to end violence against women, I have travelled to more than 40 countries and met women and men who through various circumstances—war, poverty, racism, multiple forms of violence—have never known security or have had the illusion of security forever devastated. I have met women who, under the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan, lost the right to work or be educated or even see the sky. I have met women with their faces melted off from acid. I have met college girls drugged and raped in fancy U.S. colleges. These particular people, rather than turning violent themselves, have gone into the heart of the pain, the loss. They have grieved and died into it and allowed and encouraged this poison to become medicine. These warriors now devote their lives to making sure that whatever terrible thing happened to them does not happen to anyone else. Because the transformation of suffering rather than their own security is the goal, they are in fact creating real safety for others.
Something happened when I began to travel. I got lost. I became uprooted in time and space. I became a permanently displaced person. At first it was terrifying, not knowing who I was or where I was. Then I realized that we are all essentially displaced people, all of us are refugees, we came from somewhere—and we are hopefully travelling all the time (even if we never leave our rooms), moving toward a new place. Freedom means I may not be identified as part of any one group, but that I can visit and find myself in every group. Freedom does not mean I don’t have values or beliefs. But it does mean I am not hardened around them. I do not use them as weapons.
Freedom means not being owned, not occupied, not bought.
Freedom means finding the place in me that connects with every person I meet rather than thinking of myself as different, better or on top.
It means opening my heart to my granddaughter’s little perfect fingers, taking in the fragility, the tenderness there, the potential loss.
It means feeling what the suicide bombers must have been feeling at the same moment I am grieving those who died in the bombing.
Believing there is a power determining everything at the same moment I know there is absolutely no one in charge.
Feeling angry at my teenage son for doing the opposite of what I suggested at the same moment I marvel at his independence.
Freedom is not knowing where you are but being deeply there.
Not waiting for someone to save or rescue you or heal your terrible past but doing that for yourself.
Not putting your flag in the ground.
Being willing to get lost.
Living without borders and passports.
Freedom is about being vulnerable to one another, realizing that our ability to connect is more important than feeling secure, in control and alone.
Eve Ensler is an American writer, most well-known for her performance work The Vagina Monologues, V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, and her upcoming national tour of “The Good Body ( This text is adapted from a talk she gave at the TED: Technology, Entertainment, Design conference in Oxford, England last July.

Monday 17 November 2008

A la Simone de Beauvoir

Well, I never thought that my life will start resembling that of a feminist, philosopher and an assortment of different things - de Beauvoir. I first came across this name when I was doing my Literature in Womens Christian College. We were all naive and young and feminism and liberating ideas were quite novel and thereby fascinating to flirt with. For years calling myself a feminist was something which gave me a bloated ego where any form of chivalry was totally destroyed. My poor unassuming male friends were in a state of total confusion when I attempted on the travails of opening the door, volunteering to carry my bags, et al. So much for being a feminist and Simone de Beauvoir was always on my mind! Well, the plunging into the domain of higher studies cleared the notions of myself calling me a feminist and I ventured away from the portals of Feminism; Simone de beauvoir was still there. Now other things from her life started interesting me. Sartre came into the scene! Well, existentialism seemed to rule the order! That was the introduction of Simone de beauvoir and Sartre.

The Part II of the reflections continue way after the introduction of the two thinkers. The life led by the two caught my attention. The companionship of the two, a relation where the two were constantly there for the other and lived by the strong dictum of honesty and a right to explore people and experiences outside of them. The relationship that sustained the both of them throughout the rest of their life after thier meeting at Sorbonne. I quote from an online source, "They were famous as a couple with independent lives, who met in cafés, where they wrote their books and saw their friends at separate tables, and were free to enjoy other relationships, but who maintained a kind of soul marriage. Their liaison was part of the mystique of existentialism, and it was extensively documented and coolly defended in Beauvoir’s four volumes of memoirs, all of them extremely popular in France: “Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter” (1958), “The Prime of Life” (1960), “Force of Circumstance” (1963), and “All Said and Done” (1972). Beauvoir and Sartre had no interest in varnishing the facts out of respect for bourgeois notions of decency. Disrespect for bourgeois notions of decency was precisely the point."

ell, so much for Simone de beauvoir in my life. Now if the reader is speculating an assortment of things, I am encouraging him/her to do so for speculation is an art of assumption where the mind is free to think anything.

Sunday 12 October 2008

Conversations while traversing on a rainy day in an auto

Reality struck me when the bus halted at the CMBT bus stop entrance and the sounds of Trisulam, Airport filled the air. I was journeying from Madanapalle, a small town in Andhra Pradesh to Chennai by the APSRTC (Andra Pradesh State Transport Corporation Bus). The sounds that jolted me were from an Auto driver who was keen to get passengers and end his day. It was raining and therefore I grabbed the chance and jumped into the auto (My otherwise strong bargaining skills were put to rest by the rain and the urgency to hit home). Then we (the auto driver and I) started the journey towards Meenambakkam, the place where I stay. Five minutes after we commenced the journey, I was accosted with the question from the auto driver (AD, hereafter) "Where are you coming from?" I was once again shaken from my reverie of watching the rain and the landscape that changes after the rains. "Madam, where are you coming from?" I mumbled a vague answer "Madanapallee." He was satisfied and again, "Madam, are you from here or are you from Andhra?" Now I was getting impatient. I answered "Chennai." Then, "Madam do you work here or there?" Me: I am not working, I am still studying. The AD: Madam, are you studying to become a doctor? Well, the truth was that I was studying to become a doctor but not the doctor he was referring to but a doctor of letters. Well, then the AD asked me "Madam, are you married?" Strange questions but I liked the way he struck a familiar and easy way or conversing with an absolute stranger. I answered "No." He started off, "Madam get married a little late and do not have kids until five years get completed after your marriage. Have five years for enjoyng life with your husband. Travel everywhere. See different places, meet people and enjoy doing together the things you like." I was all ears. Then he started, "Look at me, I got children immediately and all plans of me travelling went wasted. I would love to visit many places but taking the kids would cost me a lot and that's why I tell you don't hurry with things." While talking to me he was peering into the rear view mirror to look into my eyes and talk. he know the art of talking with strangers. He spoke quite a lot of things about life, politics, the state of economy, the policies of the government, the family life and an assortment of funny anecdotes and happenings from his immediate life. We were no longer strangers. We knew each other's names. In case, you're wondering about the time . . . Our journey was for about half an hour or more as it was a long drive on a rainy day from Koyembedu to Meenambakkam. When we reached our destination, he gave me his number and said, "Do call me when you need an Auto in Koyembedu." The rains coupled with the vibrant conversation was one unforgettable journey.


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