Tuesday 22 December 2009

Joy always

I have immensely enjoyed the interactions with you in the past months. I shall be away for a brief period but not without promising that I shall soon be back tapping away in this blog. While I am away, I wish you the peace, joy and love of this season to remain with you throughout your lifetime. I pass on this ancient words of wisdom to you as you journey in life.

"Hold on to what is good even if it is a handful of earth. Hold on to what you believe even if it is a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life even when it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand even when I have gone away from you."

~Pueblo Blessing ~

Joy always,

Susan Deborah

Saturday 19 December 2009

And the award goes to . . .

Well, I have become a target of the famous 'tagging' game. I am not for these taggings but I would like to acknowledge my gratitude and appreciation to some of my fellow bloggers who have made the blogging journey worthwhile and lovely. Ashley has passed on a nameless award to me and I am grateful to her as she has given me a chance to express my heartfelt gratitude to a few others. I will call this a 'Gratitude Expressing Award.'

The conditions:

1) List 7 things about yourself that nobody knows (Have to think hard)

2) Pass on this award to 7 other people (I am passing it on to 11)

3) Comment on their blog and let them know that they are tagged (I am too lazy to do this!)

Seven things about myself that nobody knows:

1. I dislike short forms in any form in text messages and emails. I detest 'k' instead of 'okay.'

2. I sing aloud . . . very very loud when I am walking in a place where there is heavy traffic. Only then, I will not be heard.

3. I  can remember many things in detail even if I have seen someone for only one time in my whole life - details like colour, action, first line spoken, etc.

4. I obsess over a song compulsively like digging into the history, the number of artists who have performed the song, the composer's details, the history of the singer, etc.

5. I ego surf almost everyday.

6. I tend to have an extra something about smell. People tell me that I would have been born a dog in my last birth. Funny but true.

7. Now the last . . . I had to think hard for this list.

Now, I don't insist that you have to follow the conditions but then you should pass on this award to the people you think deserve this award.

I pass this award to:

1. PNA - For her lovely posts on the quirkiness of life. We share a kindred spirit on many issues and what makes her special is the way she takes on life - HEADLONG.

2. Tangled up in Blue - A perceptive and emotional writer. She has taken a month's break now but I do hope she comes back soon.

3. Jenean - She is a true gypsy at heart and her blog is an example to that. Her quotes from all over the world along with lovely art makes one stop and reflect.

4. Sarah - For her tender posts which encourage and sustain. When one is down in the dumps, Sarah's posts force us out of the dumps..

5. Gaia - For her lovely insights on life from her own experiences. She nudges one to be aware and conscious of each moment.

6. Zuzana - Visiting her blog is like seeing snapshots of lovely dreams. Her love of life and art comes across her blog which makes one sit back and sigh (long sighs of 'I wish I were there').

7. Vinay - His posts are very subjective and to the point. I have enjoyed reading his food posts and his take on the bureaucratic system.

8. Silver - For her reflections which make me sad as well as peaceful.

9. Khulud - For giving instances of life from her part of the world and encouraging us to be part of her journey of life.

10. Sameera - I like her blog's title 'Everyday is a little life' and that is what her blog is precisely about - her everyday life.

11. Nevine - Ah! I am hooked to her writing. The way she delves into the depth of her character's mind and body is amazing. Her poetry as well as fiction reverbrate with the pulse of life.

Now its your turn to express your gratitude . . .

Wednesday 16 December 2009

People watching

Dear Reader,

I assure you that you shall not be bored if you cultivate the lovely art of people watching. You can do it anytime, anywhere [except the loo and the bath when you are alone (public baths excluded)]. Desmond Morris, British Zoologist and ethnologist popularised the whole 'watching' series. Desmond Morris' books held (and still holds) great fascination for me. But this post is not about Morris as much as its about watching people.

I discovered this streak in me long time ago when I had idle hours at the railway station or the bus-stop. Watching any one for more than a minute makes them look eccentric and funny. Ever noticed how the cobbler looks only at your feet and nothing else. If the feet do not catch his attention, he slowly looks up to the owner of the feet and many-a-times I have surprised him by looking at him and catching his glance.

Another interesting watch: Couples exchanging talks through their eyes. A look/glance is enough to convey the message - Anger, love, irritation, touch - everything is exchanged in a glance. Mothers and daughters also have their glances and looks to convey messages in a crowded place where talking aloud is not possible.

Hurrying people in the railways stations are the funniest of the lot. They scurry, push, swear, forget etiquette and other niceties while rushing past to get into a train. Once inside their demeanour changes to that of a polite, sober and amiable individual.  Now to the inside of a train: I have seen women holding back tears after a conversation over the mobile, dreamy eyed after waving to someone in the station, angry after a talk with someone over the mobile. I have also seen pregnant women who touch their stomach with tenderness.

Children who make people watching fun: Especially when they dig their noses and slyly wipe it on their books, friend's clothes and the bars in the playground. Some babies (toddlers literally)  smile only at certain faces while totally ignoring the others. I have seen babies particularly attracted to smiley faces and hands with rings.

Have you noticed the women and men who clean the floors of the airport. They seem to start off judiciously but once they reach a certain point, the actual cleaning stops and what follows is a pretense of cleaning. The same can be said of people cleaning the railway stations. Seeing beggars 'put on' a blind act and later counting the coins is not something new. But while one observes them doing it, it takes on a new meaning.

Observing is very helpful at many given occasions. If you have not stopped to actually 'see' the people around, let me tell you, you discover your self doing so. Why? For in all those people, there is a part of you. I have been all those people mentioned above at some points of the life lived so far. 

Sunday 13 December 2009

Lies, more lies, love, betrayal, interruption and more . . .

Scene 1: 

A: Hey, where are you? Its getting late. How long should I wait?

X: Just reaching. Be right there. (I hope she doesn't know that I am still home!!)

Scene 2:

Mother: Its quarter past nine. Why aren't you still home?

Daughter: I am just at the junction near our house.  Click. (Disconnects the call)

These are common examples of everyday happenings. These small lies do not appear as lies at all. Its just cheating on simple things to keep the person at the other end assured. There begins a deluge of lies which give way to a string of other vices.

Ever since technology has given the mobile phone, the title of the post has become a norm of life for most of us. Atleast for once I wish we were somewhere in the period before the mobile phones existed. In the days of yore, if one promised to  be in a place at an appointed time, they would arrive as promised or else the person at the other end would have to wait patiently. But now . . . one retorts to lying in order to keep the person at the other end satisfied. Pretence.

Betrayals have become next to impossible as the personal mobile reveals it all. Gone are the days when only the inner clothes were the most personal and closer to any individual. Now its the mobile phone. People keep it next to them while sleeping, eating, bathing, ironing - to name a few. Since this is considered private and personal, touching someone's mobile phone is an act of infringing the space (now this is the most abused word of this century and it deserves a separate blog post!!!) of that individual. Again it was simpler as well as difficult to have affairs and betray in the past unlike now where things are easy as well as detectable. Texting, missed calls and long hours of conversation in an unlikely place (read loo, terrace, etc) have become tools of suspicion.

The parent-child relationship is already littered with innocent lies and the mobile phone has done its two bits (no, a dozen bits) in adding value to those manipulations. Another tactic is to disconnect a boring caller, switch off the phone and later text the person saying: My battery was low and so the phone got disconnected. Hmmm. Deception. Creative manipulation.

Etiquette is forgotten, time has taken second place and values are diminishing. I can list many attributes to the innocent looking harmless mobile phone but then how can I forget that even I use it and on many ocassions have used the tool as a weapon of lying and cheating.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Can I ask you for a cuppa coffee

The very mention of coffee invites stimulating thoughts to many. Some relate with the refreshing aroma, the almost bitter taste, the slow warming of the insides or a rejuvenation on an exceptionally tiring day. Well, yesterday having attended a talk on coffee, made me reflect on many aspects of this refreshing drink. The speaker traced the history of coffee in India and the cultural connotations. Interestingly coffee along with many other foods like chillies, ground nuts, tapioca, tea and sugar is not indigenous to India. These food products were introduced by the colonial legacy. Coffee was in fact considered as a substitute for alcohol as it had some intoxicating properties. 

Only the late 19th century witnessed the raise of coffee in India. Hmmmm. Seems like we have had the drink forever! The speaker mentioned how coffee was viewed with a certain cultural anxiety as alcohol is today. People from the lower strata of society did not drink it. It was consumed only by the upper crust of the society. Coffee was also the realm of men and women who drank coffee were viewed as rebelling against the 'male-system' as they were seen as 'fast' women. Patriarchy!!! Interesting!!!

Now the coffee drunk in mainstream places (read cities) is different from that of the rural. There is also a distinction between the coffee in Northern India and Southern India. Tea is famous in North India where coffee is in the South. Even in South India, Tamil Nadu favours coffee while Kerala prefers Tea. Cultural habits, you see!!

After all this, the coffee we consume is actually a clever consumer package which is not the exact quality of coffee. We pay almost three times the original cost of coffee. Furthermore, the price of coffee is decided by Nestle in Switzerland and not in India (this is the popular Nescafe, Nestle's product). Even in America the democrats and not the republicans, favour coffee, so the statistics say. 

Now did you ever think that the lovely coffee you so enjoy has this kind of splendid history. Every food has its own background. Would be lovely if you could provide trivia about some favourite food of yours. Afterall food is an indispensable part of culture! 

Image courtesy: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2093/2036286348_0b5b217b4e.jpg

Saturday 5 December 2009

Love . . . naturally . . .

Reading through Part I and Part II fiction of my blogger friend Nevine's blog, I could not help but wonder at some of the conventions and conditions of the notion of love. I also noticed the different perceptions of the male and female mind. Culture and mainstream society has ingrained our mind with the picture of a man and a woman while thinking about love, sex and other related ideas.

Traveling to Madurai last week for purpose of my research, I moved closely with the transgender group that lives there. Being a researcher of gender and related concepts, I encountered a spectrum of sexuality which completely baffled me and opened me into a colourful world filled with a mish-mash of relationships. It was a revelation to me: The existence of different hues of sexuality in comparison to the usual 'heterosexual' one. Media fuelled by the mainstream which is further fuelled by the cultural domain has strongly impressioned the heterosexual norm that one is choked by the variety that is presented by the so called 'other.'

But what I found interesting is that even though my transgendered friends live in a community, they fall in love with a man (who is gay as well as married having a family) and follow the norms like any heterosexual couple. The male-to-female transgender assumes the role of a wife and does everything that is expected of a dutifully married woman in the Tamil society. Even this is love. There are issues of jealousy, trust and fidelity that creep between the couple.

This further brings me to write about the 1994 film that I saw in the telly a few days ago: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The film tells the story of two drag queens and a male-to-female transgender who take a road trip through Australia performing in many places. The story showed the emotional humane side of the three individuals who have their strengths and weaknesses. However strong and aggressive they appear on the outside, their inside is populated with a mirage of emotional anxieties ranging from fear, anger, restlessness, etc. The director has tactfully shown their life as well as  people's reactions towards them.

Now coming back to love and relationships: My experiences of staying with them as well as watching the film makes me wonder whether the treatment meted out to them is justified. At the end of the day, they are no different. They are plain human beings who crave for love, express their anger and fight for causes that are dear to them. This is also love.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Let the credits roll . . .

Maybe I have a peculiar affiliation to the movies. I like watching the beginning of the film and the credits rolling. That does not mean that the movie holds less fascination. No. I just cannot get up when the credits roll and this causes a lot of annoyance for people who sit in my row when I happen to go to the movie-house.

The feel of the credits rolling gives me a special thrill. I wait for that sound track which is saved for the last bit. I also like to catch the various names of the different people who have contributed to the film. And if its a foreign film (English included), there are several people whose names are either Susan or Deborah and that gives me a special joy. A child-like happiness to see my name. No strings attached. Sometimes I strain my eyes (many a times the credits are so very tiny) to see the lead character's name if I do not happen to know them. Well, I could definitely google the name but then why do that when I can find out when the credits roll.

Now for the spectacular beginning: I especially adore the 20th Century Fox, Columbia Tristar openings. The whole beginning gives me goose-bumps and I am at the edge of my seat with wonder. And it happens everytime the film opens. The tune, the logo - everything is the opening of a dream for me.

The credits sometimes has 'behind-the-scenes' which are quite funny and hilarious. They enable one to savour some of the happenings on the set which make us to view the real people behind the characters.

The willing-suspension-of-disbelief is incomplete for me without the beginning and the credits rolling. Are you a bit insane like me while watching films.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Bordered and fenced

Robert Frost remarked: "Good fences make good neighbours."  

But I can never reckon with that statement. Why? While growing up, the notion of boundaries and borders did not make any sense to me. Being a very dreamy sort of a person, I always assumed that borders and fences were the greatest barriers to friendships and relationships. This idea was quite strongly imprinted in my mind and made me think the same about countries too. I never ever imagined that borders could be the prime issue of dispute and eventually wars. How naive I was!!  Even during my undergrad days, I took it for granted that it would be great to live in the border areas as one can have the best of two countries. One side it is India and the other China/Pakistan/Sri-lanka or whichever place. Then I learnt about the ongoing conflict in Palestine. I was devastated. I just could not fathom that someone can fight for a place. Again How naive I was!! 

A simple piece of land which has not been drawn by man nor arranged by any man becomes a place of conflict. The whole conflict between Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and China baffles me. If China wants A. Pradesh, let it take it, I used to think but then its not Arunachal Pradesh alone but the whole politics of religion, land, people and other things which are intertwined.

I also read that the Alps is melting and since it is the border that separates many places in Europe, certain places will be extended leaving a lesser place for the other. Now that is the nature of borders -- porous and fluid. How can a government control something that is governed by nature. I agree that we live in a world where places are controlled by governments but then it still confounds me that something about a border can cause wars and blood-shed.

Saturday 28 November 2009

There is a nip in the air . . .

After evoking memories of Jim Reeves in my last post, the season of Christmas is something that is constantly knocking in my mind's door. I realise that there is precisely 26 days left for Christmas. I am not a great Christmas aficionado nor Santas come and give me gifts, but there is something lovely about this whole season. Chennai is essentially a hot place and so the winter season is quite welcome with its chilly breeze and cool days. The air is heavy laden with a languorous spirit which is good as well as not so good.

While we were children, this was that time when there were exams followed by holidays which used to bring happiness and joy. Of course we would dread going to school after the holidays as our results would be given.

Our house is located in a very "prime" part of the city where on the right we have railway lines, on the left is the airport and in the middle we have the national highway. Come winter, we can hear all the sounds so clearly -- the siren of the trains, the taking-off and landing of planes, the buses, ambulances plying on the roads. Even though the sounds are not quite welcome, we have subsumed them into our life without any difficulty. This reminds us of the arrival of winter --the clear sounds.

Last evening I played 'Winter Wonderland' CD 2 where jazz singers croon Christmas numbers with their signature style and rendition. This season is also a great one which reminds one of romance and past loves. Winter romances are lovely as they turn out cosy and warm (Sigh Sigh). I don't know why but whenever I fantasize about romance, its the winter season with the chilly breeze.

This season also brings out the lovely scarves and stoles that have been tucked away for the entire year. Imagine wearing them in Chennai during a hot day!!!! There are carols conducted everywhere. Songs, holidays, good spirits are what make this season so very special. Ah! I forgot the gentle chilly breeze and the moisturizers which can used in abundance for the skin becomes sooo dry. And the icing on the cake: the early morning and early evening mist which gives a smoky effect to the whole place. I wish winter lasts forever.

This day last year:  Why do I  not smoke but write and talk

Thursday 26 November 2009

Cravings of a weak body and mind

Coming back from Madurai has left me fatigued and sick. All I do is curl up and sleep and drink hot water at regular intervals. But sometimes when one is sick, strange cravings occur which need to be satiated at the very outset. And guess what was my craving: JIM REVEES' Christmas songs. I so much wanted to listen to his songs and see his pictures. So here I am writing a blog post as well as watching the gentleman croon on You tube.

Jim Reeves is not Jim Reeves alone. The very mention of Jim Reeves brings a mish-mash of memories which include childhood, Christmas, love and many others. I remember my mother playing records of Jim Reeves. It was a huge disc and the pin had to be set at the right place otherwise there would be screeching noise. The very process of the setting the pin is a lovely memory. Every Christmas had us playing his songs and the season's flavour starts right from the first week of December. Well there were the other songs like 'Welcome to my world,' 'Bimbo,' 'Mexicali Rose' and others which would play during the rest of the year.

Jim Reeves never failed to continue being with our family. After the record player, it was the cassettes. We had plenty of those small rectangular cassettes (my God, I am talking as if it was a hundred years ago) which we played and played resulting in the voice of the singer becoming funny and coarse. Then we reverted to CDs which we purchased and still have them. But the days of the record was the most unforgettable for it was a ritual to bring the player and set it for the raptures to unfold. The records used to be kept in a safe corner of the shelf safe from any damage.

Punctuating all this was the radio which played/plays Jim Reeves quite frequently. Again I owe this to my mother who tuned into All Asia Service broadcast from Ceylon (now Sri-lanka) and listen to the deep-baritoned Raj who played Jim Reeves almost everyday. I tune into radio stations even now and request Jim Reeves but my mother has ceased listening to it.

I introduced Jim Reeves to many of my friends and made them glued to his deep voice. Jim Reeves is one of the singers who became quite famous in India and Sri-lanka. When I think of the tragic death he confronted, I am quite overwhelmed.

The world misses Gentleman Jim!!!

Now for some Jim Reeves trivia: His favourite poem which hung on the wall in his office and featured in several Jim Reeves books:

The Indispensable Man 
by Saxon White Kessinger
Sometime when you’re feeling important, 
Sometime when your ego’s in bloom, 
Sometimes when you take it for granted 
You’re the best qualified in the room. 
Sometimes when you feel that your going 
Would leave an unfillable hole, 
Just follow these simple instructions 
And see how they humble your soul. 
Take a bucket and fill it with water, 
Put your hand in it up to your wrist, 
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining 
Is a measure of how you’ll be missed. 
You can splash all you wish when you enter, 
You may stir up the water galore, 
But stop, and you’ll find that in no time 
It looks quiet the same as before. 
The moral in this quaint example 
Is do just the best that you can, 
Be proud of yourself, but remember--- 
There’s no indispensable man.

Picture courtesy: http://www.johnrexreeves.com/jim02.jpg
The poem courtesy: http://johnrexreeves.com/poem.html

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Jil Jil Jigarthanda

Now is that a tongue twister?!?!? I just returned from a three-day trip to Madurai, an ancient and renowned town of Tamil Nadu. I had to go there for doing field-work and collecting materials for my research. Now the research and other details will not be given importance in this post as much as the cold beverage Jigarthanda. Well, the name is quite funny and nice to pronounce. Jigarthanda can be literaaly translated into Hindi as 'jigar-heart and thanda-cold.' 'Jil Jil' is the tag which makes the name sound rhythmic and funky. The words 'jil jil' can be translated into Tamil as 'cool cool.' I would have definitely liked to dig into the etymology of the word but then I shall do that on some other occasion.

Now to the drink itself. If one goes to Madurai, one cannot return without having tasted Jigarthanda. I first learnt about this drink while watching a travelogue series on Madurai. This was long long ago. Even in Madurai only one or two places serve this drink. This drink is a blend of a sweet rose/sarsaparilla syrup, ice, kulfi ice-cream, a jelly made by soaking almonds and making a paste and thickened milk. A glass of jigarthanda costs about Rs. 10/- for a small serving and Rs. 15/- for a slightly larger serving. The resultant concoction is a delicious drink which melts into your mouth making you crave for more and more. This time I limited my consumption to a glass but during my previous visits, I allowed gluttony to take charge of me and had two-three glasses.

The shop which served this drink was not very crowded. I assumed that local people had grown a bit weary of the drink and given that it was not the crude and dry summer season, they kept away from jigarthanda.

Now you know when your travel itinerary includes Madurai, don't leave the place without having Jigarthanda along with witnessing the famous Meenakshi temple and the Tirumalai Nayakar palace.

Nice to be writing after a brief gap of about three (only three!!?!? Seemed like ages. Sigh!) days.

Saturday 21 November 2009


Have you heard this word before? Well I haven't. I was reading an interesting blog today and found this word. How many words are there in this world and a life-time seems quite short to know all of them.

Coming to feral: Well, its from the Latin 'fera' and it refers to an animal which has escaped domestication and returned to the wild.

I guess this word can also exemplify me at times. I always feel wild at certain times when I am away from home and on my own. I can't identify myself as being domesticated too. Am I feral?? Strange questions like this pop at times when I am least prepared for an answer. Life is like that after all.


Thursday 19 November 2009

The first step

Some of my ruminations this afternoon while traveling in a public transport service prompted me to translate it into a post. The reflections were on first steps. How many first steps does life have for us. Its just amazing to think of all those first steps. Some are here. Maybe you can share your first steps too after reading this one.

The baby's first steps are the literal first steps which make parents so very excited and thrilled. Imagining no steps for the baby paves way for a fear that it might be unable to walk at all. The first step in this context is walking.

The first step towards realising a career is the chosen area of study but now many of them do not do what they studied. In fact their careers and qualifications are in dire contrast. Nevertheless there is a first step!

Now for something that is close to the heart. Literally! The first step in love . . . The first glance and then you know it all. Now for the career part, one knows what the first step should be but for love, it is unexpected. You do not know when (maybe arranged marriages are different) it shall come and if it comes, how should the first step be.

There is a first step in blogging too. Deciding the template, the first post, the excitement . . .

The first step after a death, loss of trust, accident (any loss for that matter) is something which demands a lot of emotional strength and comfort from people closest to us. The first step in this case needs a lot of reflection and introspection.

There are first steps in almost every aspect of our lives. I cherish all the first steps. The first step is indeed vital for "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step."

Photo courtesy: vpm.org/215398.ihtml

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Everything is connected to everything else

Today's paper carried an article which had the headline "UK kids to be taught respect for bees and spiders." My initial response to that was, 'Good.' Now respect is something that is pretty outdated these days. When humans cannot respect another human, extending respect to non-humans is something laudable. I was quite happy with this progress by the UK government. Children should realise that every living being should be respected for its intrinsic self-worth. This is what the philosophy of Deep Ecology propagates. The founder of Deep Ecology, Arne Naess, stresses that the core principle of Deep Ecology is to treat every organism with equal importance. This treatment enables a joyful and peaceful co inhabitation with different members of the ecosystem.

Children as well as adults derive a delightful pleasure by stamping cockroaches and small insects. Stray dogs and cats are tormented mercilessly by children who love to hurl stones and empty cans at them. Furthermore fledglings are also displaced from the nests when curious kinds want to take them home. Now if the government passes this as a law, children will learn to take care and respect the space that these organisms have in the environment.

If only humans realised that one small change in the ecosystem caused by the extinction of one specie could affect the entire planet, then I guess they will be responsible citizens. I hope all the governments pass similar laws to reiterate the fact that everything is connected to everything else which is the first law of Ecology.

Along similar lines:
"Kangaroos in the Firing Line"

Sunday 15 November 2009

Modern or post-modern times, Matrimonial Classifieds Rule

I always assumed that as times change, people also change. But the Sunday's classified matrimonial columns have a different story to tell. Reading the classified column especially the brides and grooms wanted is a treat on a lazy Sunday. One comes across several interesting advertisements that I cannot do without reading aloud to my entire family. There are some advertisements which tend to impress me like the the for a HIV+ man who wanted a HIV+ woman as his life partner. Now that is one singular case which impressed me. But this Sunday had an exceptionally well-written advertisement for a groom which went like this:

If your son is handsome,
tall, highly educated, having at least
one Degree from IVY League
or other renowned
University of USA
and is from a
educated family,
then our daughter-
27 years, 5' 7",
very beautiful,
highly educated,
Kshatriya family
could be the ideal
match for
your worthy son.

If these
short details find your
kind approval,
please contact:

This was the exact manner in which the advertisement was printed not one but twice in the same page. This left me wondering why such a highly educated girl would first, agree for an advertisement like the one above. Second, I always assumed that education liberates so why the mention of 'Kshatriya.' That might have been the parents' inclusion (again its an assumption). If the girl was so beautiful and highly educated, why didn't she choose to find someone (now this is not possible with everyone, but still I am thinking aloud). If the girl is indeed what is advertised and considering the fact that she allowed her parents to print this ad in a leading newspaper, then I am thinking whether the advertisement is itself some kind of a joke.

Above all this the final sentence of the ad says that, "If these short details find your kind approval . . .." By what means are these details short. And the kind of groom they require - "handsome,tall, highly educated, having at least one Degree from IVY League or other renowned University of USA and is from a respected, educated family . . . Now look out for the words that are in bold. Now that is a very sophisticated package - handsome, tall, IVY League. Whatever happened to qualities like honest, hard-working, open-minded. Leave that. What about our own Universities. Don't get into thinking about me being parochial. I am not but I am just thinking that if educated girls and parents would opt for IVY Leagues, where would that leave our well-bred Indian University educated men.

Unheard melodies are definitely sweeter than heard melodies.

May the Universe enable the parents of the girl who placed this advertisement find a handsome, tall and IVY League man as a groom for their highly educated and beautiful daughter.

Along similar lines:

Newspaper Travails

Friday 13 November 2009

Friday the 13th!!!!

Sometimes superstitions colour the minds of people but in our case, the events led us to think of the day. It is little surprise that today is the 13th and also a Friday. We, as a family believe that all the days are good and so are the dates. But then, today is Friday the 13th. Lets see what made me think of the day and date:

1. A few things which were on the terrace for drying got lost. Not that the lost articles were priceless. Nevertheless . . .

2. The door of our house which has an internal lock system got jammed with all of us outside. We had to break open the lock to open the door.

3. My sister mixed two varieties of rice which were meant for different purposes. She could not decipher that they were two different types.

These are some random things. Maybe they would have happened anyway. The date and the day is a coincidence. But still  . . . today is Friday the 13th!!!!

Common sense is not so common

Rousseau cannot be more right while uttering: Common sense is not so common. When one realises that individuals around you cannot fathom something as common sense, it is definitely very irksome. Take for example, the windows of the train. While it is raining the passengers near the windows move away but do not close the window. If they stopped to think of the vast crowds of people that will soon fill the train but will not have seats, they will for sure close the windows. as a result the seats will be wet and hence unoccupied. Another fellow passenger, few days ago had the thought but not the common sense. She was talking over the phone in one hand and with the other was attempting to close the window but unsuccessfully. She tried doing this for a couple of times but the gave up. Her complaint: The windows are too tight and cannot close. I, who was a witness to all this, immediately got up and closed the widows using both the hands. Is that not a case of lacking simple common sense.

We live in a colony where each block has four houses. We live in the first floor. After the incessant rains in the past week, the stairs are filled with grime and mud. Our neighbour cleans only the part that is in front of her house but leaves out the rest. Now this is a mighty case of not having the common sense to keep the place clean. People show selfishness in small instances as these.

Sometimes when people are asked to pick up some stray papers that spot the otherwise clean area; They say: "But I have not thrown that paper, why should I clean it?" They very fact that the place will look better if not for that paper does not strike their minds but more so the fact that they should do something that was not caused by them is their concern.

These tendencies of the common sense was restricted to a definite age-group previously and so could be let off by saying, "Oh! its the age, you see." But now, almost people belonging to various age-groups exhibit their foibles. My grouse is that why do simple things not strike people. They can understand rocket-science but normal everyday common-sense eludes them. Now I am wondering whether this is cultural . . .

Wednesday 11 November 2009

The MULTI fascination

America is referred to as 'multi-cultural' or 'multi-ethnic.' Now that was something in use for quite some time but off late there are many such 'multi' which are in use. This word has become so ubiquitous that it has become a cliche which absentmindedly embellishes conversations. 

The idea of 'multi-tasking' is spoken about by everyone especially women who are efficient multi-taskers. When we need to go out for a decent meal, we find 'multi-cuisine' restaurants which offer delicacies from various parts of the country and sometimes this 'multi' also extends to cuisines of other countries. Whether the taste is authentic Chinese or Thai requires another post to debate!

Now for hospitals -  There are 'multi-specialist' hospitals where we can consult with the dermatologist, endocrinologist and many other logists under the same roof. How can I forget the gym which has 'multi-fitness equipments' to work on each part of the body and make it aesthetically laudable.

Take the vitamins which have almost become mandatory in everyone's diet supplementary. They are again 'multi-vitamins.' The most common of the uptown crowd - 'multiplexes.'

These are some of the 'multis' that  raise their hood everywhere that I am almost  wary of them.  The  idea of 'one,' 'single,' 'unique' is slowly losing its sheen. But why? Can't something be only one and yet offer the best. Can't a restaurant offer only South-Indian and yet be special and unique. Of course by prefixing 'multi' the idea of 'many' is stressed. Fine. When America is called 'multi-ethnic,' it portrays a picture of unity in diversity but my question is whether that unity is present in reality or the word is just another hype.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Vignettes of a rainy day

I realise that I am dwelling a tad too much on rain. This time its a few pictures that my mobile managed to click on a very heavy rainy day.

This is my favourite. The father and son duo looked very cute and so I asked their permission to take a picture. They were quite pleased, so I assume.


This is taken from the inside of a train. The water droplets are the most loveliest part when it rains.


People rushing to and fro the station Tambaram in Chennai.


This is when the train is nearing my destination. This place is something that I don't even give a glance at other times. But I could not do so this time as this place transformed itself into the garb of an old English countryside in the rain. Ah! the wonders of rain.


Prosopis juliflora basking in the glory of the rain. This plant is quite dusty and unappealing during the summer but here she is all lovely and clean after the spell of showers. The local name of Prosopis is vellikathan (guard of the fence).

Thursday 5 November 2009

newspaper travails

This is a post which is an exclusively personal experience. Any similarities to the experience in this post is purely coincidental and perhaps can happen.

In my house: Reading the newspaper = Being free.

Whenever I sit with the newspaper to devour the juicy bits and pieces of information that is fed, my mother invariably calls out to me to do some chores. This happens quite frequently. My sister will be doing something and I will be reading the newspaper when the door bell rings. The immediate response is: "Ask her to open the door, she is only reading the newspaper." The news item which I started off with a nice frame of mind, a good position in the chair gets altered and there I rush to open the door.

A few minutes later: Please check the milk. Pack the tiffin boxes too.  Why me? You are just reading the newspaper only.

Now reading the newspaper requires a  particular spirit. The letters and words beckon to you only during a specific time. Other times it is just a  piece of long paper which does not even interest me remotely.  Now this cannot be understood by the others (here, my mother and sister). 

The timing at which my  presence is summoned is quite interesting. It is always when I am in the mid way of an article where I just about to know whether the criminal was punished or let go with a warning; whether the Ambani brothers made it to the court or not; the verdict by Shri. Sibal on the IIT issue. Its just at the climax of the news piece that I am called. If I want to complete the news item, the milk will spill or the restless person who chose to make an appearance at the door will ring the bell again or the presswala will leave thinking that there are no clothes. 

I wonder why the world won't allow a person to read the newspaper in peace. Now I know why my grandfather used to take the newspaper with him to the loo!

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Difficult to imagine a world without Claude Levi-Strauss

He is 100. He died. A period to that magnficient work done by him.

I don't know how many of you even know him. His name Claude Levi-Strauss often reminds me of the Levi's jeans but then he was not remotely connected to that. He was an anthropologist and ethnologist who did commendable work on myths, tribal communities, identity, patterns of thought and other fascinating ideas.

The study of literature was incomplete without his books. When we read about myths and the human identity through myths, his theories came in quite handy. Strauss' anthropological theories are quite fascinating and interesting.

I don't want to write everything about him in this post but I would definitely like you to go and read up more on him and his insightful work.

Strauss, may you live on!

Sunday 1 November 2009

1st November


Ten long months have gone by

and two remain.

The year has been wonderful

in spite of  being bitter-sweet. 

Met many people.

Wrote many posts.

To all the lovely people out there

A joyful, peaceful and content November.

Pleasure knowing you all through your posts and the soulful comments.

Anticipating lovelier moments  in blogging!

Saturday 31 October 2009

Can only someone as Forrest Gump love unconditionally . . .

I can see this movie any number of times and still can relate to it. I cannot say that this is the best movie ever made but I can definitely vouch for the humaneness that this movie portrays. Forrest Gump can reveal different layers of thoughts and interpretation each time. The most obvious being the power of the self, the warmth of a story, making a difference in others' life and unconditional love.

This post will talk about one of the endearing aspects of this film: unconditional love. Sample this dialogue:

Forrest Gump: Will you marry me?
[Jenny turns and looks at him]
Forrest Gump: I'd make a good husband, Jenny.
Jenny Curran: You would, Forrest.
Forrest Gump: But you won't marry me.
Jenny Curran: You don't wanna marry me.
Forrest Gump: Why don't you love me, Jenny? I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is.

When thinking about unconditional love, Forrest Gump inevitably comes to my mind. Along with it there are certain other questions that also accompany. When seen in the perspective of being smart and suave, Gump does not definitely fall into that category. He is not the romantic ones who can wax eloquence about love and other aspects of love. What he knows is that one should love dearly and unconditionally no matter what. Throughout the movie, the female lead Jenny gets herself into various entanglements like drugs, wrong men, etc. But then she always falls back on Gump who is there to offer solace, comfort and strength. Jenny knows that Gump loves her as no one can ever can but still she does not take that love with open arms. Perhaps as Gump said "He was not a smart man" and thats why Jenny cannot accept him.

This also raises another question: Can only the no-so-smart- man offer unconditional love. In all practical terms Gump can be called a stupid man who can only do something when he is told to. He lacks the clever and practical sensibility that is quite vital for survival. But then if Gump knew all the practicalities and manipulations of life, would he be the lovable Forrest Gump.

Seeing the movie always made me wonder if I would fall in love with someone as Forrest Gump. Maybe not and thats why I can enjoy the movie as it offers me the willing suspension of disbelief that momentarily creates a pseudo reality.

What ever said and done, I can never tire watching Forrest Gump.

Thursday 29 October 2009

The conflict between the real self and the projection of the self

Several times when I react to a particular situation, I think: "Thats not ME." These "Thats not me" situations seem to be niggling me at least once a day. I would like to use this post as a 'digging deeper' process. Now why does this happen? I guess there is a real me - personality, characteristics, etc and I respond/react in such a way that my self usually is but then I imagine myself to be something else and take that image to be the real one unless certain situations jolt me out of that self-realisation.

Sometimes the projection of myself in my mind is that of a calm and composed person. Well. Then a circumstance occurs where I am required to be calm instead of becoming restless. Me, the being responds absolutely in a different manner. I rant and rave and after the first round think: "Wait, was that me? But I am supposed to be calm and collected." There bursts the bubble of the 'calm and composed me.' Thats not all. This happens many times. I analyse myself and find many dualisms that exist within me. Dualisms are quite different from projections of the self but then they are conflicts nevertheless.

I guess its time that  I cease to  have a projection of me and accept the real me. But will that happen? I know its a process. That will save a lot of trouble for my being which never seems to be satiated with what it is.

Along similar lines:
Arriving at a definition of 'Normal'
Dualisms suffocate me

The rains have arrived . . .

Finally after dodging the state for weeks, they have come with their usual cheeriness and gusto. The north-east monsoon predicted for 15th October have come a tad late. They have been pouring the night long leaving the roads like a huge chocolate and the leaves shiny and new. Its a lovely sight to behold the leaves which take in the water as a refreshing bath to cleanse them of their dusty and dull demeanour.

The rains have not come alone this time, they have brought me tears, fears and a detached feeling. Yesterday morning the rains made me marvel at the droplets that so precariously line the railway doors and windows. Today the rain has left me with certain uncertainties and lingering doubts that seem quite stubborn and meloncholic.


The rains have gone now for a short break but the tears haven't.

Along similar lines:
Everyone is a weather god at some point in their life

Sunday 25 October 2009

Watching Girish Kasaravalli's work for the first time

In the age of mushrooming channels vying for attention and TRPs, there is a channel (I don't know how many of you know about it) called Lok Sabha TV. The channel deals with events in the Parliament and other social issues like health, education, economic reforms and gender. Alongside all these programmes, Saturday nights hold special interest for me as they telecast NFDC award-winning films from noted filmmakers. The weekend classic has a repeat telecast on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm. The best part of this package is the uninterrupted viewing. There are no commercial breaks or any other interruption. We get to watch the entire film sans any break and that makes the slot worthwhile.

Last night the movie was Nayi Neralu, a 2005 Kannada film by the noted  filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli. I have heard his name many times, promising myself that I will for sure see his films but then I just could not do so and finally last night I made it.

The story evolves around the belief of reincarnation. But the greatness in the film lies in the fact that one can peel layers of thoughts and ideas from the film. Social issues like the trauma faced by widows, emotional aspects like love, lust, sympathy, anger and betrayal, relationship problems and many more were handled in great detail by Kasaravalli.

The protagonist Venku is a widow whose life revolves around her daughter, Raji. Raji is a modern young woman who does not believe in rituals and other religious sentiments but turns around when she finds her mother in love with Vishwa. The problems begin when Vishwa in another village claims that he is the reincarnation of Venku's husband, Ramanna. Venku's father-in-law is persuaded by his wife to visit Vishwa and bring him home. Venku, at first is unable to accept a stranger in her house who claims to be her husband but things gradually change and she accepts him. Even Raji who comes across as a very perceptive modern girl is against her mother when she discovers her mother's love for the stranger, Vishwa.The same society which could accept the stranger as a son could not accept him as Venku's husband.

The scenes where Venku is chastised by her people and others is very poignant. In one scene, she tells her friend: "You told me that things will change if I am a married woman but now I am neither accepted as a widow nor as a married woman." Another scene that is quite disturbing is when Raji, Venku's daughter is against her mother accepting Vishwa, who is of her age, as her husband. Venku tells her and her parents-in-law that everyone accepts whatever they want to accept. The truth is what each one sees. My truth is different from yours so you cannot come to terms with it. Perspectives is what she was referring to and that also reminds me of another movie that I saw last week, Rashomon  by Akira Kurosawa, which also deals with different aspects of the truth which is perceived differently by individuals. That was a stray thought.

The film evoked many questions, thoughts and debates within my mind. A film worth watching which has a lovely feel from another century. I am sure to try and watch other works of Kasaravalli.

Saturday 24 October 2009

I can make tea anytime . . .

Today while sitting and lazing after breakfast, my mom told me something that sounded very sweet but at the same time explained a lot of unexplained dreams and small wishes. My mom was married off quite early at the age of 16. She aspired to study but then her mother did not want that. My mother got married and moved to Bombay from our native place. My mother told me that initially after she got married, she sensed a freedom which was previously absent. She remarked, "I thought, I can make tea anytime and have since I was the one who was making it." This thought of hers triggered a series of thoughts and talks. My mother told me how the excitement of making tea for herself anytime made her feel good. There was a certain freedom that she anticipated. In comparison to her mother's place where her mother was in charge, she was in charge when she was married.

Many of us have these small pockets of freedom which we relish even though in the larger framework, these seem quite insignificant. We always think that we will be free when we are educated, live in a place which is our own, when we are married . . . But then these are instances where we postpone our freedom and eventually we realise we are never free. My mom did make tea whenever she wanted to but then looking at it  from a wider angle - she could never study. She was a mother at an age when girls are in the final year of their under graduation. She does regret that she was never able to study but then a cuppa tea keeps her happy. 

Sometimes its the smaller things that are very insignificant to others that make us happy and content. The purpose of this post is very hazy to me -- Is it freedom, small desires . . .

Friday 23 October 2009

Not that song again . . .

I know this happens to us most of the time. Atleast once a week maybe. A song is struck in your head refusing to let go of you. The song can be in any language, genre or period. But it is with you. You wake up with that song in your head, hum it through the morning, sing it when you can no longer hold it and its the last thing on your mind before you sleep. Now I am struck with a song like that. The song is stubborn in its grasp of me. 

The song is not the song alone, mind it. The song brings memories: smells, people, places, time and all other things which is not welcome always. The song seduces you to dwell with it and coerces emotions that you would be better off without. Sometimes songs struck in your head give you a happy happy feeling. Thats of course welcome. A friend, an old love, smells that you could not do without . . .

Let me see what I can do with my song.

Tell me what song is ringing in your head right now.

Thursday 22 October 2009

Let us go then you and I . . .

Oh! yeah, these lines belong to Eliot. Well, this post is a sort of a digging exercise into our posts of yore. Upon examining a few fellow blogger's blogs, I found out that though there are great posts when they began writing, those are often neglected by the readers. My own blog stands example to that. The traffic that one encounters in the present is only after the gracious registration into blog directories like Indiblogger, etc. Okay! I am not trying to promote my earlier posts or something but then readers are like that - LAZY. They read the posts that are presented to them upon clicking the link and maybe they might venture to see two or three posts that are on the same page. What happens to the earlier posts? Will they never see the light of the reader's eye. Now I can sense the familiar allegation slowly rising its hood: I write for myself and not for anyone else. Okay. I agree with that but then the question I would like to raise is: When you do like reading something that is worth your time, why restrict yourself to the first page or at the most, second. Why don't you travel to the first ever post written by your favourite blogger and see the paths traversed or better still you can view the change in the subjects and thoughts.

After all this, I can only say: Its up to you to follow the thought that this post promotes or else . . . maybe you are plain lazy. Catch 22.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Extended family

Blog hopping has become something quite habitual these days. I find it especially worthwhile to read the comments on a particular post which even I found interesting. Two days ago, I found a link in one of the comments. The link led to stories of different people who found comfort and love through their online friends and acquaintances. Although I always take on the side which is against technology, I find it amazing how people can relate to you despite the fact that they haven't met you. Online dating is of course a well known fact but getting friends who are very very different in their culture, time-zones, spirituality, etc is something that is just wonderful. I have read many articles about the hazards of divulging information to strangers whom we have not met but then these friendships go beyond that. They are purely based on trust, instincts and a mutual streak of personality.

I am fortunate to have found many wonderful people like that. They are from many parts of our country as well as outside. We share different time-zones and there are times when we haven't kept in touch regularly but then the bond exists. A single liner mail, a birthday wish and the occasional online chatting is enough to sustain the bond. These people are there when one needs them. They are patient enough to read the long mails and reply with longer mails. They offer slices from their life tales to tell you that "It shall pass."

They are a special family - an extended family of sorts. I just wish that I really get to meet them sometime and give them a nice big bear hug to tell them that "You really made a difference."

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Why do poets express so well what I want to . . .

I celebrate myself,
and sing myself,
And what I assume
you shall assume,
For every atom
belonging to me as
good belongs to

from Song of Myself  by Walt Whiman

Sunday 18 October 2009


Mornings are the loveliest part of the day. This is the time of the year when the warm months give way to the approaching winter. Not that Chennai boasts of chilly winters but still it is winter! While traveling to Church this morning, the city was a landscape with silhouettes. The morning mist shrouded the city with rays of sunlight penetrating through the clouds. The tiny droplets of water that were found on the windows of the cars announce the change in the season which also brings images of Christmas and a new year.

The city looks different at different parts of the day. In the morning she is sleepy with the blanket of mist covering her. She reluctantly wakes up to the sun and gradually loses her dreamy state. Vehicles start plying and the fumes that accompany it give a very grayish crowded aura. The evening which slowly subdues the heat of the afternoon is a welcome change from the heat but nothing can deny the pregnant silence of the night. Even though vehicles do ply at night and shops are closed, the city looks very different from what she did during the day. She appears distant, dark and mysterious. But early mornings are something that makes the city surreal. Chennai with its flyovers enable the taxi to zoom past without worrying about traffic and jaywalkers. Especially early mornings. The buildings look elegant sans people; bus-stops house sleeping people; trains run faster. There is a certain visual pleasure that is absent during the busy hours of the day.

Sometimes I wish the dream continues but dreams are like that. They pass away. But then another dream takes its place.

Saturday 17 October 2009

Bird-watching on Diwali morning

Diwali is only noise and more noise to me. The bonus is the light which glows the streets and the trees. This year Diwali meant something else: Bird-watching in the Nanmangalam Forest Reserve. We started at about 6: 30 am and took the local transport. We were eleven of us and we were all armed with the usual suspects: note-books, pens, binocs and a bottle of water. Along with birds, we saw different-hued butterflies, dragon-flies, locusts, calotes, chameleon and small insects.

Bird-watching is not something one can do on a sudden whimsical note. Though the idea of bird-watching seems very fascinating, it is an exercise which demands patience, quiet and a certain level of interest for spotting birds and identifying their calls. Our group was an assortment of students, professors and others. There were two Germans in our group who provided some interesting comparisons and contrasts with birds found in Germany.

Out of the many sightings today, what remains etched in my memory is the striped keel back (a snake specie) that raised its hood out of water to catch a bird. There were two to three keel backs in the same lake and two of them raised their hood out of water for many seconds. We also admired the many frogs which jumped into the water as if swimmers jumped into their respective laps. The white kingfisher was lovely with black and white feathers. It was very uncomfortable with our presence there and kept flying back and forth in a restless manner. No matter what our intentions, we were intruders.

At the end of the five-hour journey, I emerge as a person who has added some more species to the already existing list in my memory. I hope the entries remain etched. And this entry would remain incomplete if I don't thank Hopeland, an undergraduate student of Zoology, for arranging this session and providing his expertise and time exclusively for us.

You would also like: Arun's write-up on the same session.

Friday 16 October 2009

The missing human connection

Two days ago I visited the British Council Library after a long time. During our post graduation, BC (as we used to fondly call the Library)was a regular hang out. All of us in the class would plan and choose the topics for which we wanted books for and make a trip. Since the place was quite far from our College, it was a long journey but then we were a gang of many so we happily went to BC. The journey was interspersed with comic anecdotes, stories of our quirky profs, a recap of the books we wanted and assignments for which the deadlines were fast approaching. That was the nostalgic bit which never ceases to tire me.

Present: I was shocked to see BC totally revamped. The spacious library has shrunk in space and of course the number of books have reduced. The management section has grown considerably unlike the literature one which does not boast of many books. I often found myself stepping aside for a person to pass by and this takes up the precious time and also disrupts the process of looking for a book. And the most disappointing aspect of BC was the absence of people sitting in the counters and telling us politely that the books were overdue or the time for returning the books. Now a shiny card does everything. One has to swipe the cards for renewal or return. First it was the ATMs which shut out human contact and now even the libraries follow suit.

It used to be a great relief to see the polite staff behind the desks smile at us and provide the necessary details about the books. I say relief as it was a welcome break from looking at the books for a longer period. If we were regulars at the Library then the 'familiarity' smile that would greet us was lovely indeed! Now there is nothing like that. BC has many value added services that has occupied the space meant for books. The corporate ambiance screams loud at every corner of the place making people like me restless and listless.

I am glad that the American Library (USIS) in Cathedral Road in spite of every hype remains the same where the books as well as the staff are friendly as ever. The icing in the cake is that I also get the 'familiarity' smile as I enter the Library.

Thursday 15 October 2009

Perception Perspective

Are we a part of this world


Are we a world by ourselves

Sepia-hued reality

The world takes on a different tinge from the time I wear my shades. A sepia hue envelops the sky, the roads, the people and all things. I cry vintage and yearn for the rain when I see the clouds threatening to pour anytime. Even though sometimes I acutely feel the extra addition to my face as something to be taken off, I don't. It is not an exaggeration when I say that my emotions seem under cover when the shades are on me covering my eyes, concealing my expressions. I see everything but at the same time for the person opposite me, I don't see.

Sometimes closing my eyes for a few seconds while walking seems great as if I have closed the world itself. I can gaze at the eagles soaring above without twitching my eyes. Why, sometimes I venture to look at the sun eye-to-eye. What power can those simple polarised glasses wield.

I want reality so much that I remove my shades but the moment I do that I regret and put them back. Sepia seems lovely when compared to reality.

At least for some part of the day, I try a different reality -- a sepia-hued one!

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Is this freedom?

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way --Victor Frankl

Tuesday 13 October 2009

What do I write about

should I start narrating my rigmorales about Root kits infecting my system and disabling my net connection and forbidding me from filling words
should I talk about the feminist lecture I heard bits and pieces of as I was running about organising dinner and other things
that I wanted to think aloud about star gazing and there I find exactly that written by a person whose blog I admire
shall I start pouring out my anxieties as a researcher
begin gushing about how 'Hey Jude' always makes me think and think and finally leaves me either happy or morose
that I was walking down the road singing very very loudly and the traffic was a perfect camouflage to the shrill of my joy
about a certain someone who exclaimed that 'Why should I prove my identity every time I write a comment on your blog? Makes me think Susan does not trust me.'
that John Denver's 'Annie's Song' gives me images of a country-side man singing to me, looking deep into my eyes and playing the guitar as if only I mattered to him
and more . . .

I realise that I have already written so much.

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Glimpses of the last five days


Sandhya and I share a relationship of smiles. We started greeting each each with a smile and smiles are never-ending whenever I pass by her. Sandhya is a girl of about fifteen or sixteen who sells buttermilk sitting by the pavement. Weary drivers, pedestrians and student relish a cup of buttermilk to get respite from the scorching sun. I always pass by the makeshift shop when I walk to the nearest railway station. There have been times when Sandhya has kept a mango for me and has given it to me saying "This is very sweet, you will like it" and in return I have given her a pack of gum (a vey unworthy return gift but nevertheless from the heart). The next day she eagerly asks me, "Did you like the mango" and then we smile, the usual lingering smile. I met her two days ago after a long time. She told me that she has stopped sitting in the pavemnt shop as her marriage has been fixed. Sandhya: will she be happy? was she asked whether she would like to marry? She seemed happy that she was going to be married. Maybe I was reading too much in between lines as 'educated' people always do.


I detest these visits. They are very lifeless and dull but then people-watching saves me. There were many couples with puny-looking babies. The babies were all with black eyebrows painted with a kajal pencil and a big black mole near the lip to ward off the evil eye. Conversations were about babies, their sleep, laughs, urinating, burps et al. A TV which was perched on the highest point that one had to crane the neck to view it. Many ring tones that either go on at the same time or one after the other demanding attention. I try to close my eyes and sit still but then a baby prods me to smile and make funny faces. Not another visit.


Sunday's 'Literary Review' a supplement of 'The Hindu' had an interview with Kanimozhi, a member of Parliament and also a poet and activist. I enjoyed reading excerpts from her poems. Here I quote some for you:

Never was out of love
And never continued to be in love,
Not with the same
Neither the loved one remained
The same
Nor it is possible
To live without love

Chasing our dreams as if
Chasing butterflies
Like winged rainbows they fly
Beyond our reach . . .


My professor asked me and few of my friends to come to his class to see a play that was performed by his student as part of their course-work. The play was a condensed version of G. B. Shaw's 'Pygmalion' which was made famous by the film 'My Fair Lady.' The actors were first-time actors and it lasted for 30 minutes. The nice part was that the students were quite excited by the whole show and managed to do their best while I felt that they could have taken care of many details but since it was their first time they could be pardoned. The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain. It was a nice nostalgic trip that reminded me of the time I saw 'My Fair Lady' and the songs that were sung over and over again.

Wednesday 30 September 2009

A tribute to the passing 20s

This post is special as not often one gets to write something like this. This post is a note of nostalgic praise for a decade long companion: The 20s. Standing on the threshold of a new year, it is with fondness and love that I walk down memory lane. What a companion! You gave me so many things to cherish, love, admonish and introspect.

There were so many people who walked in and stayed; loves that were lost; loves that were nearly lost; betrayals that threatened; educational qualifications that boost the self-esteem; places that enthralled; music that continues to play on; Himalay that made me feel so small and full of awe; gadgets that fail and never fail to keep me connected; books that I have returned to over and over again; books that remain untouched but always make me say to myself:"I will sure read this one day."

Films that struck a chord within me; people who I wish I never meet again; Food that tingled my taste-buds and made me feel like a glutton; events that destroyed 'the' perception of me in my imagination; jealousy; sloth; greed; conversations that lasted a whole night; conversation that never happened in real time but gave pleasure in the mind; moments of sheer bliss; responsibilities; fear; faith; stress; hope; prayers; poems; friends; mentors; family.

The list can go on . . .

Thinking of the decade I can only say: "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" (The last line from Tennyson's "Ulysses")

Sunday 27 September 2009

Will the real swear-words please stand up

Being away from my blog has driven my thinking nuts. Every incident becomes a 'blog post' in my mind and everyone I see seems a potential character for the blog matter. Well, that brings me to today's entry. Swearing! Gosh! how easy it is to hear people swear in English (I am talking about the breed that is commonly known as the 'middle-class' with which I am familiar and part of). The f's and b's spring forth like 'something-for-which-there needs-no-practice.' How many of us even know the swear words in our own mother-tongue? This post argues for the knowledge of the mother-tongue in addition to the highly adopted usage of English.

I do not seem to claim to know all the words and thats why I strive to write this. WHY? How many of us curse in English as the need arises? Another thing is that unparlimentary words sound 'okay' to the ears when rendered in English. But translating the same words into our tongue does not sound dignified. A bad word is a bad word for heaven's sake be it in any language! The f word has become so ubiquitous that it is almost part of the so called 'proper' language. Every word is prefixed with the f word! Ridiculuous. If everyone were to do the same with their mother-tongue how would it sound? When we pass by people who are fighting on the streets and hear some sharp swear words, we twitch and cringe but when we hear the same words in the College canteen or a board-room, we do not react at all. Its part of the normal vocabulary. Hmmm. So much for English and globalisation that even swear words have become homogenised. No one swears in their tongue. English curse-words rule. No diversity I say!

Wednesday 23 September 2009

The Blame-Shifting game

As I write this post there is a mental note that keeps thronging me saying "Are you worth it?" How many times we paltry species called human resort to the eternal blame-shifting game. When someone asks me something which I have done but guilty, I am quick to conveniently shift the blame on to someone else. Adam started this in the garden of Eden followed by Eve. How nice it is to immediately disown the act.

On an everyday basis this game thrills me. The mind over the years has gained an aggressive perfection of the blame-shifting game. I wonder why is it so easy to lie, to shake free of any accusation? Is it because there is a gene like the 'selfish-gene' which makes it so easy to claim oneself free of any misgiving. Is it a kind of perfection that the beings yearns for that it cannot tolerate being pointed out at. Are we so thick-skinned that we don't realise that we are putting the other person in a tight spot by blaming her/him. We move this to a further level by blaming the weather, mood, time, traffic, etc. The list can go on.

Strange are the ways of man who has been given the faculty of thinking. Animals don't do this kind of trivial things. I would be glad to exchange places with any member of the animal kingdom. I know I am to blame for the ingenious tricks of my mind in order to find a plausible way to shift the blame. I am striving not to resort to this kind of triviality. Hope gives me the strength.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Existential Angst

It deepens and makes you wallow. It envelops one to the point of OHHHHHHHHH. Everything reeks of irritation that stares down hard at you. It is like being in love but with a twist in the emotional state. Everyone seems a potential irritant.

I pity myself. I do not want that. I force myself to rise and move but a strange comfort seems to overpower me disabling the very thought of action.

I want to be non-violent in my words, my thoughts and deeds but then even that seems threatening.

I want to flee and I want to remain. I wait for phone calls and do not want to speak if the call comes. Contradictions, dualisms, people, me: All perplex my projection of me.


Thursday 17 September 2009

Stumbling on Italo Calvino

My last post had a comment from a dear friend to read Italo Calvino. I typed out the name and found his writing (atleast whatever I read) to be interesting.

Thanks Samuel Johnson for Italo Calvino.

Here are two quotes from Wikiquote by Calvino that you might find worthwhile to ponder:

* Everything can change, but not the language that we carry inside us, like a world more exclusive and final than one's mother's womb.

* In an age when other fantastically speedy, widespread media are triumphing and running the risk of flattening all communication onto a single, homogeneous surface, the function of literature is communication between things that are different simply because they are different, not blunting but even sharpening the differences between them, following the true bent of the written language.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Ah! the pleasure of water sliding through the skin

Oh yeah! You read that right. The post is about water and skin. Many times I have marvelled at the sheer joy of the feeling when water flows through the skin. This wonder prompted me to write this post and share the bounty of joy. Well, there is nothing like the sensation of water coming into contact with the skin. How I wished I were a Dolphin or a frog for partaking the pleasure of being in water always.

Just because water makes me thrilled, I like my bathing sessions. A time of dialogue with the self where no one can intrude. Its just water and me. Being in water enables many things to surface: thoughts, sensations and cleansing. Sometimes I take the whole process a bit too far when I want to have it the Zen way. Bathing for the sake of bathing and not allowing any stray thought to venture into the mind. It sure has its joy but sometimes I just cannot bridle the thoughts. This post would not have been here if not for that stray thought which tickled my mind while bathing.

Not bathing alone but any activity that enables me to come into contact with water enthralls me: washing, cleaning, cooking. Water has that lovely quality of at once bringing all your focus to the present moment. One cannot touch water and also think of something else. At least not at the same moment as the first touch occurs. Maybe after the initial touch is over, the next few minutes can give way to meanderings.

I wondered about this affiliation. For those who might wonder about the zodiac connections, I am not a water sign. Water is something that strikes a deep chord within me. Nothing can beat coming home after a hectic day and heading to the bathroom for those sessions that not only clean and refresh but also enable one to get ready for the next part of the plan. A bath can never be compromised with anything and anyone. This affinity definitely gives me reason enough to use it judiciously as I want to have water till I leave this earth.

Friday 11 September 2009

Close encounter of a weird kind

Last night was unusual.

12: 15 a.m. Trying to get sleep after a long day trying to get my driving licence. A murmur of voices close by. i went over and looked outside the widow. Nothing. Returned to the warm bed and again trying to sleep.

A sudden thud followed by a door-banging sound. I was wide awake now. Again peeked outside to find nothing.

The banging became louder and then it was that everyone in our block were awake. A man was trying to run outside our block. We heard our neighbours screaming. The man had locked my neighbour's door from outside.

The man was caught. The security was summoned. The security was of no use. He chickened out. Our neighbour with all anger started beating the man. The man started babbling in a pleading tone in an unknown tongue. His tone was a sing-song one.

Police were called. The men from the nearby blocks came out. All of them were not able to restrain that lean man who spoke an unknown tongue. He tried to run away but was caught.

Till about 2: 45 am the police were standing in front of our block with the men who came out.

The man started singing in an unknown tongue. Police did not understand his language. The Bengali from B block, the Bihari from C block were summoned to decipher the language but of no avail.

The drama continued . . .

It was growing stale.

I went off to sleep but then morning was interesting as different people had various versions to the close encounter of a weird kind.


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