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.


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