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.


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