Saturday 29 August 2009

Siblings ga ga

Repeated news clipping of a possible split between the Gallagher brothers Liam and Noel led me to go on a flashback mode and think of some of the siblings who managed to touch the listeners with their melody.

My growing up years in Bombay was filled with radio strains which was playing in the background. My mother used to hum along as she carried on with her chores. The Carpenters were one such group which was always featured in the hits of those days. This memorable band consisted of two siblings - Karen Carpenter and Richard Carpenter. They did manage to give some lovely songs that still enthrall the listeners who tune into the English radio stations.

Another sibling band was The Everly Brothers - Don Everly and Phil Everly. Their rock and roll songs captured the mood of whatever they were singing. Their one song 'Let it be me' is one lovely simple song which can never be forgotten. The song has been rendered by many performers including Elvis Presley and all of them who sung the song have lent their own unique signature to the song.

Another celebrated sibling band was the Bee Gees which comprised of Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb. The adolescence years could not have passed by without the crooning melody 'How deep is your love.'

Its just wonderful to imagine the immense success these siblings saw during their active years though in their later years they seemed to have fallen apart either by death or by differences. But the coming together of siblings is something which cannot be comprehended by me as working personally as well as professionally with a blood relative has its own pros and cons. I can very well relate to the differences between the Gallagher brothers. But on second thoughts, why cannot blood relations patch up as soon as they fight. 'Blood is definitely thicker than water' but then are the differences so irreconcilable? Oasis cannot be imagined without Noel or Liam. Just hope that they reconcile (with Noel returning) and belt out lovely numbers as before.

61 - Does the number matter?

Feels like yesterday
When the first entry was posted
Seducing topics found their space
Queries were posted
Friends commented
To- be friends also commented
My name became synonymous with 'meanderings and reflections'
Sixty seems a good number
The sixty-first ought to be another great number
Number does matter sometimes
Am glad that sixty is done
Providence has been kind enough
What more should I ask for

Thursday 27 August 2009

Bats sing love ballads while mating but where are the humans singing ballads?

Brazilian free-tailed bats supposedly sing ballads to woo their prospective mates. My immediate expression was the cliched 'So sweet.' That is something very unique as singing ballads were the terrain of the homo sapiens so far! Reading through the article made me wonder on the disappearing species of men who used to sing ballads to woo their lady love. Of course this tribe has not entirely vanished, they still do exist in some pockets of the world.

Theories like Feminism, terms like 'male gaze,' etc. has rendered some beautiful aspects of the whole episode of romancing and mating very cerebral. Come on, now who does not like to be wooed by a man/woman who sings for you. These days there is no time for songs nor the leisure for taking the time to write an exclusive ballad for your 'special' person. These days the internet offers a range of products and ideas that the old fashioned 'singing for your love' has gone out of beat (using a musical expression). But I am glad as I still come across special people who sing and express their love.

Three cheers to the Bat world which is not threatened by the internet, media or any other gadgets. Lucky (female)bats who get ballads during the mating season. Sigh Sigh. I have nothing to complain. You know why.

Tuesday 25 August 2009

A month to detox, reflect, ponder and rectify

Talking to my friend this morning brought about the topic of the month of Ramadan. My friend who belongs to the Islamic faith explained the purpose behind the month which holds good for everyone. The thirty days of fasting is not exclusively for fasting alone but covers a whole range of aspects: Learning to reflect on the shortcomings and rectifying them, cleansing the system of clutter and unwanted energies, developing a spirit of forgiveness and empathy, learning to love others unconditionally. But do all these things actually happen within an individual?

Thinking on the points that she had mentioned, it struck me that fasting is not restricted to food alone but various kinds of fasting which would help every individual irresective of faith. The fasting of desires, negative thoughts, unnecessary chatter, idleness, et al.

The baggage that is collected over the entire year is made light by the thirty days. But many times the act of fasting is restricted within the narrow confines of food and water. Its a time where meditation and prayers govern the day.

The act of breaking the fast is also something very communitarion. The family waits for the sighting of the moon which according to me, is a lovely way to observe the skies which one normally does not do. The sounds from the mosque at this time is quite soothing with strains of nasal depth and tone. The date which is used to break the fast also has a specific connotation.

On the whole, I think a fast should be observed by not only Muslims but all of them to detox their hearts, mind and body.

Sunday 23 August 2009

Facials, sea, good conversation and a nice vegetable salad

Some days are unlike others: They are wholesome, well spent and give the warm feeling of contentment. Yesterday was one such day. Sleeping in late was another addition to the day's activities yesterday. Breakfast was a leisurely act with little food and lots of conversation. A day where all the members (three) of our family sit and meander over the breakfast table. The loveliness seeped through the next part of the day's activity: Going to the beauty parlour.

Now I have a special philosophy when in comes to the parlour. Its a nice way to get pampered, enjoy conversation with the girls who provide the services and also exchange meaningful smiles with the other mates and of course get indulged which falls in line with the pampering. Making conversation and niggling someone with thoughts is something I don't have to struggle much with. One girl there told me how she enjoys giving massages as it involves working with the hands. I shared my fascination for doing things with the hands viz., kneading the dough, handling the clay, mixing salt to the idli/dosa batter and washing vessels. We both (the girl and I) were listing things that involve using the hands to a greater extent. She also told me that she enjoys giving massages and so does it very well as its is something she likes doing.

The hours at the parlour gave way to a lovely meeting with one of my student/friend (It is very rarely that one gets a student who is also a nice friend). We spent the evening talking about seemingly important as well as not-so-important things about life, people, animals et al. The best part is that we both can talk about any random topic and get hundred percent involved as if that meant the whole world. Sitting by the seashore and watching the water gives way to excellent conversation which borders along the lines of introspection and reflection. The day came to an end with the both of us enjoying a lovely veg salad from a place called 'Jelly Belly.'

I came home and hit the bed with thoughts of the facial, sea, vegetable salad and the lovely conversation with my friend.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Quintessentially Indian

Years ago an email was doing the rounds: The email listed 100 things which were done by Indians and at that point of time I was pretty glad that I did not do most of the things which were mentioned in that list. This morning reading an email from a friend prompted me to think on the 'Indianness quotient.' Every culture has its own peculiarity which can also be a diversity. The reference in the email was about age. Many times, we are feel pretty delicate asking someone their age (I am quite brazen in asking people forthrightly buut thats another issue altogether). But Indians (when I say 'Indians' here I mean the general population who live in India) have no qualms about asking any detail to any body. It starts like this: Whats your name? Afer the name is mentioned, the region is guessed and then the second question: Where do you work? How old are you? How much do you earn? Married? Children? etc, etc. But then this tribe is slowly dimnishing atleast in the cities and 'developing' towns. A certain kind of homogenised culture is starting to form and this is largely the by product of globalisation. Its considered impolite to ask people their age, their wage, and other aspects. Probing into the details of personal lives is also considered quite rude. But then, I guess we Indians are genetically made that way. Like in Italy, the sons are pretty close to their mothers and therefore remain home not bothering even to get married. The mothers pamper the sons and feed them even upto middle age! Now thats pretty strange for us but then they are made like that.

'Colonial hangover' as it is termed by the literary circle exists to a greater extent in almost every phase of our lives. But now even the colonial is given a desi flavour and has become Indianised. We adopt and adapt. Despite the fact that globalisation is slowly seeping into the predominant areas of our life, there are some things that make us essentially Indian. Thats the peculiarity which belongs to us. I guess we should be happy with it. At least there is something diverse from the other cultures of the world. If every culture were the same, it would be pretty boring and predictable.

Monday 17 August 2009

Tamil Nadu paves the way (I am tempted to add 'as always' but then . . .)

Watching the prime time news wasn't very interesting until today. The transgendered community of Tamil Nadu thronged the ofice where they were given identity cards. Now this is a laudable step by the Tamil Nadu government as it holds the light for other states to follow suit. The transgenders now can also access free sex-change operation from the Government hospital free of cost. Now why did this particular news item aroused my interest? Well, the reason is a pretty obvious one: That this community is one of the most marginalised and misunderstood one in the society. Even the tribal communities are given status as 'Scheduled Tribes' but the transgenders cannot be categorised either by community or by familial connections. They do not even possess a ration card. The society shuns them and their family disowns them (in most cases). That they are born men but possess the psychological set up of a woman unsettles many. That they do not fall into the conventional category of 'male' or 'female' makes people sqirm in their seats.

I frankly do not know even how many people respect them for what they are. People keep away from them either because they are afraid or they disdain them because of past experiences. Spending time and having stayed with them, I can confidently say that its all the state of mind which is an impediment for many of us. They are as loving, emotional, friendly and irritable as any of us. Next time you see a transgender, be polite and give a smile. They would definitely return the smile back.

Everyone is a weather god at some point in their life

I can bet on the title for everyone becomes or rather is forced to become one at some point in their life. Now don't assume that becoming a weather god is some great and profound task. No. Its just a simple process. It goes like this: You have a date with someone special and you are wearing something beautiful but then the sky is overcast and it threatens to pour anytime. What do you do? Become a weather god. You utter a command: "Let it not rain today." At this precise moment, one becomes a weather god. Following the rage of Paulo Coelho's book "The Alchemist," everyone has a rather tinted way of looking at the universe. One presumes that if something good has to happen then the universe will help you and so you stand in a very dignified way and assume that you are a weather god. You want the rain to stop for your selfish reasons. Well, I am one of those too. Sheepish to admit but nevertheless true.

Humans are so very whimsical: On one hand, we know that it has to rain or shine as its the cycle of nature. Blame it on global warming, the cycle is distorted. But then there are droughts everywhere and the farmer needs the rain but then . . . There are clothes to be washed and dried and chores to be completed which needs the sun. Traveling in public transport becomes a pain in the rain and so one wants the sun but then one sweats and is fatigued, and so rains seem a nice escape. What do we want? That is the question.

Coincidentally it does stop raining when one wants the rain to stop but then its just a simple coincidence. We are not weather gods neither are we gods. We are after all homo sapiens that have caused the greater damage to the planet than any other being found here.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Obsessive Compulsive Blogging

It all started innocently as everything else does: "I will write whenever I feel like jotting down certain meanderings of my mind. I will write exclusively for myself and whether anyone reads my posts or not is not of my concern." These were the thoughts with which I started my debut in the mad world of weblogging. Then a person wrote to me saying, "Your reflections and meanderings are written very beautifully and I have become a follower of your blog." I was exhilarated. But then it lasted for a week or so when I promised myself to write regularly. Then the same person wrote again, "And how come you have not written in February and now March?" Hmmm, the lazy me took control of the meanderings from being etched.

Come November: The meanderings had taken a toll as my mind was in a chaotic state. I wanted to unknot the various tangles. I began writing. Writing maybe a post or two in two weeks. Another follower sprung up. "Maybe I need to write more," went my mind. I gave excuses for not frequenting my blog. Who cares anyway except for me?

Random reading of a friend's blog. Liked the ramblings and sighed - "How well she writes." Then something caught my eye. A logo of India which read 'Indiblogger.' Curiosity. Clicked on that logo of India. Skimmed through with half baked interest. The word 'directory' hit me. I registered. Voila! now I am an Indiblogger and my blog is listed in the blogs of India. Cool. Now what? Hasten to put my blog up for a review. Got a rank. Was thrilled. The need for writing almost became an obsession. While travelling the thought was "Will this be a good title for my blog?" The followers went up by three. Not as bad as it began. Peope do read my blog. Now do I think about readers? Well, I am not in a state as I was when I began but then somewhere I still think that I do write for myself. But maybe not! Readers encourage you, their comments egg you on, their hits inspire you and they enable a cerebral exchange (though not all of them).

Now: The obsession has turned to be an obsessive compulsion. An obsession to write and a compulsion to write more frequently.

Saturday 15 August 2009

Mamma calls me Joe

Names form the basis of identity for many. The study of names is interesting enough but that of pet names/ nick names is further interesting. Searching for the origin of pet names, I did not come across anything substantiate but nevertheless thought this would be a nice entry to spill my fascination with names. Selecting names for the new arrival is definitely a process by itself and its quite amusing to see the arguments and opinions about the selection of a particular name. But after the first process of the 'real' name is done, the pet names follow. It is quite entertaining to observe the same name getting different variations. Lets sample this: The name Joseph's pet names are as follows: Joe, Jose, Jo, Little Joe, Joey, Joe Joe (I can't think of more than this). Dad has a way with one pet name while the aunt has another. The generation next with its trends and slang have their own way of referring to their loved ones which call fall anywhere between whacky and totally silly.

But I am interested in how the pet names are formed. The most mundane people who do not show any signs of being creative come up with the most out-of-the-world pet names. Names like 'Pappu,' 'Choto,' 'Baby' are some common ones in the north of India. Similarly the state of Andhra Pradesh has the loving term 'naana' for almost all children whereas in Tamil Nadu there are many such names for children. What is more interesting than the pet names is the fact that these names stay on even when the child is past the age of being called with endearment. Little Joe remains little Joe even when he is a doddering old man of eighty (but the people who call him like that might be a scarce tribe). Now there is a subtle difference between a nick name and a pet name. Nick names are often target of a particular weak spot of the kid in question whereas a pet name is something like the 'real' name but used in informal contexts. There is also the system of 'register' name and 'other' name in India where there is a very formal name that is entered in the school register whereas another less grand name that is used by everyone in the family.

As for my names, even I have many in the kitty: Mamma calls me many names according to her moods, Sister calls me . . . Well, I am not sure whether I should go on with this but then if there is anyone who wants to share the 'names' experience with me, feel free to drop in and 'feel at home.'

Thursday 13 August 2009

Masked faces and unmasked paranoia

The protagonist of this post is definitely not a Page 3 socialite, quite important than that. My protagonist commands only the Page 1 of not one newspaper but every single one that is in print. The celebrity status that is achieved by this protagonist is something one cannot ignore. Finally the protagonist has arrived in Chennai with pomp and applause wait not applause but with masks. People talk about it everywhere: In the buses, in the trains, at schools, at markets, at coffee shops, at gossip sessions. Well, its obvious that my protagonist is powerful for it evokes fear and sustains repeated diatribes. There is a new class that has risen everywhere: The people with masks. There is a strong line of demarcation. The one with masks look down upon the ones with no masks and the one without masks look at the ones with it thinking "Poor souls, their immune power must be so low." The language is that of fear: A fear that makes one take several baths depending on the number of visits out of home (No wonder, the water levels are fast depleting everywhere), wash hands almost like a possessed being and the worse of all -- ADVICE. Every person has their two bits to offer when it comes to Swine Flu. Special arthis are done in Temples to appease the virus, prayer meets are held to drive the virus into the depths of the earth and doctors, not to forget them, are oh! so well prepared. (An Aside: Apollo Hospital, Delhi has refused to treat Swine Flu). When the whole population is bowing to the virus can bloggers be left far behind?

An inevitable strain of me: ADVISING: Please do take care and keep yourself armed with information and of course masks!

Monday 10 August 2009

How many notes must a man decipher . . .

Reading a recent blog post on musicians and music had me meandering about the true lover of music: The one who knows about music or the one who does not. Well, I may not be quite clear in stating my argument. Lets put it this way: Can you enjoy music only when you understand the chords, notes and other things or can you enjoy it being on the other side too. There may be two arguments here: One - You can understand music better if you know the technicalities of it. Agreed. Two - Enjoying music is lost if one keep nit picking about the technicalities. I certainly belong to the second group even though sometimes I tent to be flustered at not knowing the scales, etc. But then is it absolutely essential to be able to decipher the notes, scales and other things to enjoy music better? Cannot one, over a period of having listened to music, differentiate between 'good' and 'bad' music (if there is anything as good or bad is another debatable topic). In fact I have always prided in the fact that my taste in music is fairly decent and probably I can give my two bits in a conversation about music.

Now for the point one: Knowing about the intricasies of music always has an edge over not knowing it. The way one talks after knowing the ragas, talas, etc is a pleasure to the hearer whereas if one talks about music on the surface level, it just might prove to be some information out of Wikipedia. All said and done, who is the one who enjoys the music better? Maybe both the parties enjoy it equally as one is just listening and taking it in whereas the other is scrutinising but nevertheless also taking it in.

The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind (Bob Dylan).

Friday 7 August 2009

Dualisms suffocate me

Listening to a talk on post colonial theory left me choked and gasping for the plural identities I don. I realised that my being operates on dualisms: man/woman, feminist/non feminist, inntellect/pragmatic, etc, etc. I strive to define myself based on an identity but then the identity is always in a state of constant flux. What is my identity? Am I a Tamilian, Am I a Christian, Am I a South East Asian. The answer probably is that I am everything. The politics of identity sometimes seem to stress my notions of identity. Does my ancestory define me? Maybe it does but then what is my past? Is it the Christian past or the non-christian one before conversion. Can I call myself a being given to reason or do I operate on a practical basis.

These and many questions that lace themselves on identity niggle me today. Well, as for tomorrow, I might be free of the dualisms for it will become another past that used to be a part of my yesterday.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Stumbling upon philosophies

Browsing, like switching channels in a television, never fails to surprise the curious mind. Recently while browsing for a definition, I accidentally stumbled upon the philosophy known as Ubuntu. I have heard of Ubuntu as an open source software distributed by Linux. Finding the name fascinating, I repeat it to myself, sometimes soft and sometimes loud - U BUN TOOO, UBUN TOOOO, UBUNT OOOOOO. Some words are like that. They are nice to repeat out loud. Some samples: Checkoslovakia, Madagascar, Boutros Boutros Ghali.

Well, now to Ubuntu. The word is derived from the Buntu languages from Africa. Like the name, the philosophy also sounds very interesting: My Wikipedia says, "A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed." How nicely put! The six letter word says it all: Self esteem, Respect, Everything is connected to everything else (This is the first law of Ecology).

Relecting on the word, one thing strikes my mind: Death of the Self. The supreme ego which tends to rule over the individual has to be completely negated. At the same time Ubuntu also holds a strong sense of the individual's worth which comes from a self realisation. This self realisation is knowing oneself and accepting the known rather than trying to change or alter it. I'd like to quote again from my Wiki. This time its what Nelson Mandela quotes of the philosophy: "A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn't have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not address themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?"

A nice philosophy to reflect on where we stand in the egocentric scale. I can't stop myself from thinking about another simple thought along the same lines: "Love thy neighbour as thyself." Any guesses as to who said it. You know it, I know.

Monday 3 August 2009

Splashes of Red

Journeys by the road always give something pleasant to the sight that leaves one to meander and reflect. These days it is the mop of red that one sees while traveling across signals and traffic jams. The Gulmohar (Royal Poinciana) as it is known in India is an exotic species. This season being the time for its flowering lend a lovely sight to behold. In the lush green expanse, splashes of red add a lovely hue to the 'only green' carpet of trees. When one travels, everything outside seems to last but for a few fleeting seconds and during those fleeting seconds, the red colour is both refreshing and welcome.

The Chennai Corporation is to be lauded for its rule to remove hoardings from the city's skylines. A few months ago all one could do was to gaze at the giant vinyl hoardings of some jewellery showroom, a new food joint or semi clad women advertising some brand of jeans. The people were forced to gaze at the loud and flashy hoardings simply because they did not have a choice while stopping for the signals. Now its different: People in Chennai are able to see the green and now being the time of Gulmohars to flower, its a visual treat.

Its not only the Gulmohar but also Amaltash, Trumpet flowers and other flowering trees to show off their lovely hues. It is that time of the year when the onlooker is fighting hard to resist the green signals in order to enjoy a few more seconds gazing into the colours sprinkling the green cover and thinking of days when there was nothing to do but gaze and gaze at Gulmohars bloom.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Atheism VS Morality

An eternal debate this one. Like the nature/culture debate, the atheism/morality debate is a never ending one. The entry is a result of a recent debate with one of the students who is also a vociferous supporter of atheism. Well, my professor used to say "No atheist is a real atheist." I cannot agree with him more on this as many atheists whom I have spoken to are either anti god or anti theism. Both do have a subtle difference: The former is against god and the latter is against religion. So much so, the band of agnostics also border themselves somewhere in the anti god anti theism circle.

Now the question: Do atheists lack morality. Now all moral/ethical grounds base themselves in religion. Good/evil, right/wrong and all such demarcations have their foundation in religion. And religion creates a set of rules rather instructions to ensure that a certain harmony pervades in the society. But where do atheists fit in this framework? Are they not part of the society. Well, they are. But I would further like to categorise atheists into mini sub groups: a) Strong Atheists b) Not so strong atheists c) Meek Atheists and d) Shallow Atheists. The last two kinds are relatively harmless as they keep their beliefs to themselves and allow themselves to run along the lines of society without causing much murmur. But the forst ones are the vociferous ones who talk the post modern language and try breaking down every form of conformism. But then the society still goes on. Why? It has seen people of these kind and chooses to accept them without causing any uproar.

Now coming to the question of morality. Do atheists follow morality or do they break down every code arguing that it is the bane of religion. Or do they follow a form of atheism when they are young enough to defend themselves and slowly become shallow atheists as they grow older. Well, morality is something that should not be considered as part of religion. I guess its rather a set of principles that are to be followed by individuals to maintain a rather sane living in the society. But then what makes the society?

The post remains unfinished . . . for I am not clear on this one. Reader, thy help is sought.


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