Saturday 27 February 2010

State of Mind

Sometimes when words fail to describe the meanderings of the mind, I thought I would borrow them. After all words are words and if someone has already described it the way I want, let me save my thinking power. So I let the lyrics explain. The lines that kept resonating in my mind were the lyrics of Paul Simon's and Art Garfunkel's song "The Sounds of Silence" written by Paul Simon in 1964. I thought the lyrics would suffice . . .

Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence 

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turn my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence 

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared
No one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

"Fools," said I, "you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence 

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Creator albeit a mortal one

Adding up spices and condiments, imagining the end result and titillating the senses with smells is the wonderful art of cooking. Today after a gap of a short period, I ventured to prepare a chutney for dinner. Just making sure the ingredients are just the right quantity, salt and chilly powder not sprinkled in excess and the flame not too high or low, makes one feel like a creator -- A creator of fine food. My friend who enjoys cooking always remarks: Cooking is the only art where the creator is able to partake as well as enjoy the results at the same given time. It is a communion where the process is present continuous. 

Not everyone has mastered this art. It is but a gift to the ones who are willing to let go and lose themselves in the dish they are going to prepare and serve. Long ago I read a story which touched me: A mother always kept a jar and while the dishes were close to getting done, she opened the jar and sprinkled the ingredients to the pot on the stove. After her death, the children were curious to see what was inside that box. It had an old crumpled paper which read "TLC" and back of the paper were the words: Tender loving care. The creator knows that without TLC the creations are but a worthless bauble.

The end result was delicious. The creator relished as well as the others. Probably I was a bit romantic in describing the art of cooking and conjuring a nice dish. There are days when I just cannot lend myself completely to cooking and during those times the creator part does not fascinate me. After all one cannot be a creator always, isn't it?

Picture courtesy: Internet

Monday 22 February 2010

Have you ever looked at this blog's side-bar

Chances are that many might not have perused the side-bar no matter how inviting the contents seem. The blog-post is a very attention-seeking entity that somehow manages to grab and seduce all the eyes on itself (I thought of giving the blog-post a sex but refrained from doing so. Ah! the ramifications of gender are a bit stifling for me). Therefore it comes as no surprise when the question of peering into the side-bar is raised. For sometime now, my side-bar has been housing a lovely love-lyric which I don't know how many have noticed. My early days of blogging had this poem as a post but then those days I had no readers and so the beautiful lyric went unnoticed as the flowers that grow by the road-side when we take a walk (again I am sure that everyone notices the flowers except a few. Pardon the simile). So I thought I will again put that poem (translated from Tamil to English by A. K. Ramanujan) on today and for a few minutes give you the pleasure of reading those lines and getting lost in their simplicity.

What He Said
What could my mother be
to yours? 
What kin is my father
to yours anyway? 
And how
did you and I meet ever?
But in love our hearts are as red
earth and pouring rain:
mingled beyond parting.                       
-  Cembulappeyani:ra:r (Kuruntokai 40)
Another translation of the same poem by Nirmaldasan 

Who are you and who am I?
Who's your sire and who is mine?
Sprung from what illustrious line?
Yet as red earth and rain combine,
Our loving hearts mingling lie.

This love-lyric is part of the Sangam era in Tamil Literature. There were many poets who wrote the poems but none were known by their names. They signed the poem with a line from the poem. So the poet who wrote the above lines was known as the poet of Red Earth and Pouring Rain. This tradition absolutely amazes me as the poets during that age did not want any attention and thus remained being anonymous. The poems of a particular landscape consist of elements that are found in their region thus making its appeal very local and unique.

The ancient Tamils also divided their landscapes into five major regions namely kurinchi (the mountains), mullai (the pastoral), palai (the desert), marutham (the riverine plains) and neythal (the seacoast). Each landscape was associated with a phase in love. The poem above is from the kurinchi landscape and exemplifies love in union.

The ancient Tamil system of connecting their landscape and the emotional patterns in love is a convention that has led many modern poets to write similar poems.

Hope you enjoyed reading the poem. Ask me for more . . .

Photo courtesy: Internet

Saturday 20 February 2010

If not for memories, what would I do

"Let's go to Palimar, I so feel like having an apple shake" -- Well, these lines have stood frozen in the crevices of our memory as we can utter them no longer. Opposite to our College, there were rows of shops which are hangouts for many students like us. A last minute photocopy before the exams would see us rushing to Akash Xerox. Akash was known for offering good photocopies at reasonable prices. I have photocopied countless number of an assortment of materials from him. Opposite to our College was the famous hangout Palimar which offered us lovely milkshakes and short eats. In Palimar, if we ordered one shake, we would be given two large mugs of milk shakes and we would be absolutely delighted. Many hot discussions, proposals of love, first meetings, last partings, after-exam treats, idling away when time was plenty and sometimes reading took place in that small juice bar. Then there was a small recharge shop which we ran to recharge our phones just before getting into the railway station.

But now alas! all this remains only in our memories.

Every time some building that we have frequented is demolished or closed down, a part of us also is crushed. Yesterday morning while my friend and I were walking towards our College, we found to our utter dismay that all these joints were razed down to the ground. Those buildings were an extension of our College for us as for every thing we crossed the road and let ourselves get lost in those shops.

The rubble and dust were like a part of our sensibilities being lost and forgotten. In a recent post of mine, I marvelled at the amazing quality of memory and art and today it is this memory which enables me to cherish those lovely days when those buildings were places with meaning and not just rubble and dust.

They say that the shops were demolished because a highway is to be built but then . . . highways to where??

Thursday 18 February 2010

An Ideal Husband

Well, don't be mislead by the title. I am neither going to talk about the 'ideal' husband nor give you insights about obtaining one. To start with there is nothing 'ideal.' One can dream, fantasise and even imagine that there exists something 'ideal' but then I am sorry to have punctured your rosy little dream-world. Wasn't that a fitting exposition to this post. You may have to agree with me here as now comes the 'real' post.

If you have been enamoured by somebody called Oscar Wilde then you would have probably guessed that the title belongs to one of his plays. When I browsed through the television pages for picking a good movie, the title of this movie caught my eye: 'An Ideal Husband.' I must confess that in spite of having read other plays by Mr. Wilde, I haven't read this one and to add to the treat was Rupert Everett in the cast. I had liked and almost adored Everett's role in 'The Importance of Being Earnest.' As Algernon Moncreiff or the lovable Algy, he did complete justice to the character. Similarly his lines in 'An Ideal Husband' were also swimming and witty. I know that these were Wilde's lines but then Everett can be seen as a slice of Wilde himself.

The play/movie talks about the romantic notions of 'an ideal husband' and takes careful steps to break them one by one. While the focus of the play is on the 'ideal husband,' I could connect the theme to anything that is considered 'ideal.' These days we have many lovely gifts which say 'To my ideal wife,' or 'To my ideal daughter,' but does the complete 'ideal' exist? One can attribute the ideal qualities to super-humans or even perhaps the divine but in the mortal race, can we strive for the 'idle?' Well, feet of clay is part of every individual. Isn't it?

It's amazing how Wilde manages to break the tinted vision of many individuals through his plays which are high on humour and witty repartees but at the same time drive home the crude realities of life. Probably that is why he employs liberal dosages of humour to the truths of life that many want to rubbish away. Even in 'The Importance of Being Earnest,' he breaks the ideals of class and gender.

Taking examples from his own life, he was no way close to the ideal. His wild ways and wilder dressing habits brought about sharp criticisms from many sections of the people. But then if he chose to be 'ideal' we wouldn't have had such lovely plays and memorable lines.

Some lines from his plays to give you a peek into his thoughts and wit:

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his. (The Importance of Being Earnest)

Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die. (The Importance of Being Earnest)

All sins, except a sin against itself, Love should forgive. All lives, save loveless lives, true Love should pardon. (An Ideal Husband) 

I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself. (An Ideal Husband) 

Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear. (An Ideal Husband)

I don't at all like knowing what people say of me behind my back. It makes me far too conceited. (An Ideal Husband)

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. (An Ideal Husband) One of my favourites. I dedicate this splendid quote to all my readers.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

When life-lines stood still . . .

Have you ever been stranded in a crowded train with unfamiliar bodies touching you and that almost you fainted with the breath from a stranger's face. Well, this is what happened to me at about 10 in the morning. I will not say that I have never been in a situation as this but then it has been sometime now that incidents as these occurred.

Railways here are known as the 'lifelines of the country.' They are the legacy that the coloniser left behind and one of the many things that most people don't complain about (the other thing that they don't complain about is the English language). Hmmmm, ok now to the stranded tales of woe. As we got our tickets, we also got to know that was some problem and the trains were not plying. We decided to anyway wait for the train and finally saw a train approaching. We did not get it. It was packed like a tin of sardines. We waited for the next train and also managed to get in only to realise that the train that looked a bit okay from the outside was packed. We were literally pushed inside. I was happy as I did not have to hold anywhere. 

Then it started . . . breath, stories, ring-tones, conversations et al pushed on to you. One was forced to overhear mobile conversations, jokes about being in the papers the next day, permission from office as the train was delayed, curses, fights -- All the aforementioned had the same topic -- that the train was packed and the passengers were stranded in one of the stations.

We decided to get out. Very difficult. We managed. The station was swarmed with people looking morose and angry. No one knew why the trains stopped. We were not alerted. This is the way it is in Chennai. We accept everything and do nothing. I was thinking that if the same had occurred in certain other places, they would have demanded to know the reasons and people would have fought for their rights. But here, we love peace and harmony. We just carry on even if the life-lines snap. After all we are peace-lovers and will remain so!!!

Sunday 14 February 2010

The best blueprint for love

I Corinthians 13: 4-8, 13

4. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn't jealous. It doesn't sing its own praises. It isn't arrogant.

5. It isn't rude. It doesn't think about itself. It isn't irritable. It doesn't keep track of wrongs.

6. It isn't happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. 

7.  Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.

8. Love never comes to an end. . . .

13. So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the best one of these is love.

Does your love have all this???
Picture courtesy: Internet 

Thursday 11 February 2010

The wonder of art and memory

Ever wondered that even the silliest, funniest and embarrassing incidents take on a lovely tint when recalled. Failed lives, disastrous mistakes and the like also lose their aggressiveness as time goes by and when we think back, they appear as an experience which has left us rich and sober. The same is with art. Even a trash can overflowing with garbage looks quite artistic when expressed through a painting or a sculpture. This attribute always tends to fill me with a sense of awe and amazement.

The same trash can which overflows with dirt can be a very displeasing sight to behold turns on as a lively expression when seen through the medium of art. Despite the fact that the overflown trash can will never be emptied in the painting, it enables us to gain a different perspective to the everyday aspects of life that never fail to disturb us.

Memories also are pretty similar to trash can in a painting. Now when I look back and think of certain images from my life, I don't feel remorse or pain. I marvel at the ability of the mind to use those same images as weapons of self-embellishment and courage. I always used to have discussions with friends about memories and nostalgia -- most of the times they are only 'good' ones. Its very rare we hear people say 'This sound gives me bad memories.'

Talking of memories, it is strange how different materials become memories of something else. Talking with Barbara, my buddy from Queen's University, Belfast has enabled me to view different objects as extensions of memory which invariably is linked to life and places.

Being a person who has a memory of almost everything, I can be called as someone who 'solidifies events and freezes them in the crevices of memory.' And also looking at different art pieces down the time enables me to look at memory and art as something that preserves the freshness of everyday life albeit in different mediums. Art and memory transforms!

Picture courtesy: Internet

Monday 8 February 2010

When Orion walked with me . . .

With earphones playing 'Chicken Fried' by Zac Brown Band and brisk walking down the joggers park, I looked up and behold! who is walking along with me - ORION, the hunter. Now did I ever mention that  I am absolutely fascinated with star-gazing. When times seem tiring and eyes need some soothing, I look up and spot the few constellations I know. Orion is one of my favourites. I just like to spot the hunter with his sword and other paraphernalia. I can gaze and gaze without any thought nor action and get lost in the multitude of stars.

While we were children, we were quite amazed that the moon followed us wherever we went. I always used to ask my father: 'How come the moon knows where I go? It is always following me.' My dad would make up different answers to pacify the ever-springing questions and I got immense joy by looking at the sky at regular intervals and spotting the moon follow us. This was the same feeling that I experienced today while spotting the Orion right above me. Fascinated as always by the hunter, I found that this constellation is visible throughout the world. Wow!!! That someone at the same time as me would be looking at Orion made me feel connected with every being and life-form.

Foolish as it may seem to think that Orion or the moon is keeping pace with me, it also gives a strange camaraderie with the universe. Giving science and common sense a break for a while, it felt wonderful to be walking along with Orion. Now the song in my radio went on from playing 'Chicken Fried' to 'It's Raining Men' by Geri Halliwell. I looked up. As strange it may sound, Orion went from being above my head to the left of me. So long we were walking beside each other but all of a sudden (!!!!) the hunter decided to move a bit. Hmmmmm. I just think he did not like me listening to 'Its raining men' when he was around!!!

Picture courtesy:

Saturday 6 February 2010

Forced stillness suspends life

At half past nine, I sat down all charged to get some work done . . . and off goes the electricity! Well, now the electricity going off is nothing new for us but what surprised me was that it was out for about ten hours! When one has a mental picture of how the day is going to be spent and the whole day is given to someone who seldom works consistently, the power-cut is definitely a suspension of life. Hmmmm. The stillness comes from the fact that there are no electronic appliances working and therefore even the minutest of noise is quite annoying. The constant whirling of the fan subsumes many other sounds and in the absence of that sound, I could hear the flushing in the loo, the flying of newspaper pages, the sound of footsteps and my heart palpitating (well, the last one was an exaggeration!).

Time drags itself in the absence of electricity. I find myself walking round and round the house wanting to sit and read something but I could not register the heaviness of the content that the book imparted. I did what I liked doing the best - Meandering away to the topic of electricity and its frills. I read in one of the blogs that one sign that you are addicted to blogging is that you see every experience as a prospective blog post. Well, they were right, after all! I wondered why electricity has become such an indispensable part of our lives. It is almost like one seems incomplete without it. But no. It does not happen always.

And sleep . . . I tried that as well but sleep again did not take pretty kindly to me and refrained from befriending me when I need it the most. I was quite happy when I received a message from a long-lost friend. The messages meandered into a conversation. Then I got down to writing letters to two of my friends. The no-electricity part slowly faded when I got down to doing some work other than what I had intended for the day.

Finally when the power supply was restored, I wasn't in a mood to appreciate it for I was already suspended in doing other things.

Picture courtesy: Internet

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Did I hear 'a good sense of humour?'

If you are familiar with the way some conversations meander, chances are that you might have not missed this line. Lets say that the topic gets down to asking X about her/his choice of partner. And pat comes the reply along with a string of other attributes: "(S)he should have a terrific sense of humour." Now whatever that means. Some time ago, the whole notion of sense of humour wasn't much part of general conversation. I cannot say that it was totally absent but it was seldom mentioned. But now everyone talks about 'a terrific sense of humour.' Well, let us see how this goes . . .

A sense of humour is quite important, I reckon, in this world where time is sparsely available for the lovelier aspects of life. I would like to categorise humour under this tag. What say? I guess so. What is this sense of humour? Is it the ability to make others laugh or the ability to laugh at yourself without your ego blinding your foresight or is it the ability to produce intelligent humour which does not harm anyone or you and is enjoyed by everyone. Or it is all of the aforementioned. I fail to define, rather refrain from defining the meaning of 'sense of houmour.'

Now coming back, since when did this attribute become the criterion for choosing a prospective life-partner. And so how can we identify this trait or rather how long does it take for someone to identify this trait. Can that one be answered? No, it cannot. Every intelligent thinking individual who possesses even a pinch of common sense can see that the quality of 'sense of humour' cannot be determined easily. 

I have known lovely people who have a 'terrific sense of humour' but are definitely not 'great' partners to their spouses. Their sense of humour gets jaded and faded when time casts her shadow. I guess sensible and intelligent people know the value of humour and can keep it alive by adding spice to their wisdom but finding intelligent, sensible people with a good sense of humour is slightly difficult given the lack of time.

Hmmmmm. Now this is getting a bit long-winding. I will let you decide, readers. Tell me . . . 

Picture courtesy: Internet


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