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.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

The furore over Shashi Tharoor and S. M. Krishna

Our politicians make the news and if there is no chance for that they see to it that they somehow keep the media busy. The recent episode of Tharoor and Krishna moving out of their hotel rooms after being reprimanded by the Finance Minister clearly stirs a hornet's nest. Why hornet's nest? 1. The public gets to know of the super ultra lifestyle led by the union minsters 2. If government officials cannot stay in government lodgings, how come the government can vouch for its services? 3. Shashi Tharoor tweeting about this episode.

Government lodgings are supposed to be providing a state-of-the art services for its officials at least when they are in power but when ministers fail to utilise this then the whole idea of 'government services' seem to draw a bleak picture. This also brings in the various government related public services: Hospitals, Schools, Colleges, etc. Shashi Tharoor of course could not compromise on his privacy and gym but then if he needed that facility why not try and make these government lodgings more lucrative and user friendly. As for S. M. Krishna, he had his own reasons which seem quite plausible.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee publicly reprimanding the two ministers out-of-the-blue comes as a surprise/shock. Down the ages many of our ministers have been quite extravagant in their choices and lifestyles. From conducting grandiose weddings, to installing statues, etc. there have been many examples of government officials doing it the big way. Either Mr. Mukherjee should have checked the details before asking the two to vacate or he should have been patient and tackled the issue later on. All of a sudden the FM intervenes and causes a furore which makes an unapologetic Tharoor go tweet tweet. This again shows how inconsistent the government is in many of its dealings. The public which depends on the media to be informed about the working of the government is further stifled by this news not because the two were reprimanded but because this kind of lavishness is nothing new when it comes to politicians.

Monday 7 September 2009

"I Hate Ugly"

Quite an emphatic statement! This is the latest advertisement promoting Allen Solly casual wear. This print ad is that of a girl who is shown with a paint brush in hand and the backdrop is that of a wall that is worn out with time and weather. The words I HATE UGLY are painted in bold on the wall. At the bottom of the page is the sideline which says: "Who says I have to like things the way they are? What doesn't look good to me, I change." Then the words MY WORLD. MY WAY. ALLEN SOLLY are printed in the extreme right side of the ad.

The ad left me reflecting on the increasing thrust on individualism and identity in today's media. Ads which promote the self are packaged in a very sophisticated manner by the ad man and fed to the hungry masses in dollops. The ad would not have ruffled me if it only said: "Who says I have to like things the way they are? What doesn't look good to me, I change" but then the strong words I HATE UGLY reflects a very narrow perspective of thought process which modifies the beautiful and nicer things to be the best and most sought after. I can understand when we close our noses or stop breathing while passing by a dust-bin overflowing with an assortment of stuff or at the most avoid passing through ways that have open drains. But then, isn't that a reality too? The words I HATE UGLY spell out a certain disdain on one aspect of life and its reality while shamelessly glorifying the need the satisfy one's own self.

Many advertisements justify feeding the self and its whimsical demands. That we need to cater to ourselves first and then the world has become a growing norm. Creams promoting beautiful skin which attracts the opposite gender, kitchen appliances which again raise the self-esteem are among few of the dozen examples. Thankfully there still exists some ads where values and respect for the self as well as the others are projected.

I just wish that the ad men realise what statements as I HATE UGLY spell out to the growing generation that drinks out of the heavy udders of the media world.

Saturday 5 September 2009

Don't think twice better still don't think at all

"Statistics reveal that women are more emotional than men." Am I more emotional than him. Let me call up X and ask her. "X, do you think you are more emotional than Y (Y is a man. Obviously). Now X is listening and her mind races into the flashback mode. Instances of 1986 comes to her mind. She starts sniffing and the caller is kind of moved too. This is exactly what statistics and researches do to humans. The non-human world is blissfully unaware of any such researches and statistics and go on living life as its meant to be but we humans. Alas!!

How many times these studies move us into adaapting ourselves to think the way the studies point out. Even though sometimes, we might not be able to agree with it, we find it inadequete that we are not like that. The stronger of the species ofcourse sail through all this nonsense without as much as batting an eyelid but the most vulnerable ones. What to say of them.

Now coming back to the first analogy. Men can also be as emotional but then the studies are so popular that men tend to think that it is inappropriate to be emotional. These studies are like a double edged sword: Do they make the people believe that because of the studeis they are like that or do the studies prove that which has been quite prevalent.

The number games provided by these statistics are also quite fuzzy. The survey would have been actually conducted with a few samples of men and women but then when that is projected for the entire population, its just ridiculuous. All these statistical data, are they applicable to the tribal women/men, men/women who spend their lives in the pavements? Maybe No and might be Yes.

Probably the finale of this post would be this: Don't get carried away into moulding yourself into what the studies and statistics reveal. Use them to enhance your knowledge in a sociological way but not such that you go about ranting and raving about trivial studies that are conceived in air-conditioned labs and research rooms.

Thursday 3 September 2009

internalising the external

Many things happen that remotely affect us and even if it does affect us we go on as always without any remorse, pain or empathy. The news yesterday had flashes of the missing chopper of Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy, Andhra Pradesh's Chief Minister. All of us were glued to the news channels to comprehend the fact that someone as important as the chief minister could go missing. It was a poignant moment as we were analysing the various aspects of the incident.

The dense forest, the bad weather and other things had rendered the search difficult. This incident also brought to light the various chopper related problems. That the chopper was not maintained properly was highlighted. Why does India always have to find things out in the last minute when there is some mishap. Why cannot instruments be maintained well enough at all times. Certain questions can never find answers.

The man who went missing is not even remotely connected to me but then why does it affect me so much? Perhaps because he is another vulnerable human being who inspite of being the Chief Minister is prone to unexpected accidents. The fact that he would have undergone a mental and physical stress is another reason for the anxiety. Given his age hunger, thirst and other things would have caused him distress. As I write this post, news of the chopper being traced fills the news channels. I just hope he is fine and returns home to his family and the anxiety filled state for a successful term as Chief Minister.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Arriving at a definition of 'Normal'

Wondering as always at the things that are taken for granted a phrase from a friend made me pause on the question: What is normal? I may pack certain things which for me are pretty normal but then it may not be the kind of definition that my sister or mother may adhere to. Probably let us analyse certain insights into the very common word -- normal.

A schizophrenic: That voice, the voice which echoes within me always. Its the most normal thing. Voices.

A student: Classes? Movies perhaps. This is pretty normal yaar.

Lover: Roses/Moon are passe. Gazing into the eyes. Na. Why do the normal?

Rakhi Sawant: Arrey arranged marriage is naarmal. I go for Swayamvar. Not so naarmal these days.

Mother: Sacrifice, love that is unconditional. These define normalcy for mothers throughout the ages.

Scanning through the above instances, the word 'normal' is pretty unique to individuals and maybe types. But then is there something 'normal' that fits into the vocabulary of every one irrespective of being a mother, student, etc. Maybe sleeping in the afternoon, eating and other habits can be classified as 'normal.' I must admit that this post is a tad fuzzy but then normalcy is like that after all.


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