Tuesday 30 March 2010

When someone else’s fear becomes yours

“Don’t get into the train from there; it will not stop for long.” “Don’t wash your hair after seven in the evening; you might contract a cold which will never leave you.” Well, well, well, how many times we internalise someone else’s fear and allow it to play on our waking hours. It’s strange to think that the thoughts that have not even remotely crossed our minds suddenly become prominent and affect our thinking patterns.

Fear has the remarkable ability to control our decisions and hold sway over us. Allowing fear to overpower our thoughts often give rise to a string of fears which attach themselves to the main fear. For example, taking the train instance from the first line, the fear of losing the train followed by the fear of losing money and then not getting to the stipulated place at the right time and etc, etc.

Observing this pattern of fear getting a grip on our psyche is a slightly difficult thing to do when we are wallowing in that emotion. At that particular instance, stepping away from the situation puts things in perspective. But somehow one cannot philosophise while undergoing the twin tensions of fear and its various effects.

I try to remain calm and try to have an objective perspective to the pressure of fear BUT my purpose gets defeated when an external force like x, y or z kindle the fire of fear and leave me all fuelled up.

I realise my inadequacies as a human and allow fear to take over me and challenge my ‘trying-to-be-calm’ attitude. The fear that was previously unknown to me slowly becomes MINE own. I don’t leave it at that. I pass on this fear to various scapegoats that cross my path. The fear is passed on . . .

As I write this post, I wonder how many innocent relatives/friends who were oblivious of any fear have contracted it from me. The fear continues . . .

I think it’s high time I stop giving in to someone else’s fear and internalising it.

Sunday 28 March 2010

Sucked into the willing suspension of disbelief

I love Coleridge for the expression "willing suspension of disbelief!" Whenever I watch a movie and get engrossed with it, I turn into the characters. Especially when the character is an individual who fascinates me, I become her/him for a few minutes of film-viewing. Now this is getting a bit complex. Let me explain. I don't behave or try to act like them in my everyday-life; rather I put myself in their place. I wonder what I would have done if  . . .

Sometimes when serious decisions are to be taken by the character, I start my journey. What would I have done when situations like walking away or remaining behind confront me. Watching The Three Colours Trilogy by Krzysztof Kieślowski, I associated myself with all the women characters in the three films!!! According to my personality I arrive at a certain decision AND if the character takes the same decision as me, I allow myself to extend my imagination: Perhaps the director knew someone like me. Maybe his love interest had certain traits like that of me. Hmmmm.

The saner part of me sometimes fails to keep an aesthetic distance from the film that I am watching. Certain characters are etched in such a way by the directors that the individual is a bundle of contradictions. Such characters interest me as I try to mentally speak to the character and try analysing their problems with them.

Another way in which I tend to get into the film is when certain minutes seem like a deja vu.Pieces of my life always find places in the films I watch and think about later. The thinking and analysing sometimes goes on for days together.

It's a shade of my personality to allow myself to be sucked into the willing suspension of disbelief!!!  Maybe  the movies I see are ones which fall into the 'realism' mode  which reflects on the existential meanderings of life and individuals.

Image courtesy: Internet

Friday 26 March 2010

And you thought only bottles were plastic!

Plastic is everywhere. Just turn around and you will see that almost every second thing your eye rests on is something made of plastic. Well, it does not stop there. It extends beyond that -- plastic smiles, greetings, compliments, hand-shakes and so on.

I always thought children had the most innocent and the real smiles but now-a-days, I am disappointed that I don't get to see the 'real.' They have also become plastic. The smile which is an easy giveaway is the first sign of being unreal or plastic.

What does it cost to be real? Absolutely nothing, I say. I have heard of smiles that make a person's day and brighten up a room but most of the smiles today are for the sake of smiling. There were days when artificiality was relegated to surgeries to make up for inadequate body parts but today the most loveliest of faces 'wears' a pseudo-plastic smile.

The smile has been finding a lot of mention in self-help books and videos. So many assume that smiles are something mandatory to be worn as an identity-card, otherwise they would be carried off by secret agents. This criterion makes them smile, not a real one but a plastic smile that is much better when not forced. 'Smile increases the face-value' so we have a whole generation of people smiling away not because they want to but because they want to be seen as positive and happy-go-lucky.

If you thought this post is an exaggeration, then read this from the BBC website. 

Ban Plastic (in smiles as well as in bottles)!!!

Picture courtesy: Internet

Monday 22 March 2010

A beauty so touching that you sob

Traveling by bus today afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised when my friend from Rishi Valley called me and asked me to read a column called Footloose in the Sunday Magazine of The Hindu. Footloose talks about places that are tucked away into the city where not many wander off in their ‘tourist’ expedition. The particular column my friend asked me to read was about how the writer sobs every time she sees a place that is “remarkably stunning” (using her own words).

Cut to 2006:

Location: Tungnath, Located at an altitude of 3,680 m (12,073.5 ft), Uttarakhand

Some of us from the school where I was working at that time decided to go on a trip to the Himalaya. We were quite overjoyed at the thought of this trip. My friend, her daughter and I were a bit slow to climb the Tungnath peak. The others had managed to climb very fast (at least faster than us). My friend and I were slowly trudging along the path. As we went higher, it was difficult to breathe and the way became slippery as it began snowing. During the journey, at times, when we looked around there was no one. It was quite dreary and lonesome. We were very bitter but kept encouraging one another. As we were nearing the place, we saw crows. Sign of life finally. When we saw crows, we understood that there were humans nearby. My friend’s mobile ticked with life as she received a message. So long it was dead! After a grueling hike, we finally reached the top to view the temple of Shiva. Ah! What joy! A temple between white sheets of snow.

Both of us started sobbing.

Sobbing as if a dam had broken lose.

It was the sob which contained a million emotional outbursts – the beauty of the place which completely bowled us over, the sign of the temple finally after a very long hike, seeing snow for the first time in our life and the joy of having made it finally.

It was so perfect that both of us realized exactly what was going on in each other’s mind. We allowed the tears to flow till it stopped on its own accord. It didn’t for a very long time.

When some women say that great sex makes them cry, is this they are referring to? A spiritual experience where all the senses are satisfied.
These tears are rare and valuable as it is caused when one is moved completely from the within.

I am glad my friend called and reminded me of that experience.

Do you have instances as these when you have sobbed involuntarily without stopping. Do share them with me . . .

Sunday 21 March 2010

And all that jazz . . .

After ruefully mourning the anxieties of being a research scholar, last evening I attended the Indiblogger’s meet. Now for those who do not know, Indiblogger is an Indian blog directory and an active community for bloggers in India. The second meet for bloggers in Chennai was organized on 20th March. Now this is the first time I forced myself to attend a blogger’s meet but I should say that I was not disappointed. 

Walking in alone, I was a bit apprehensive about the whole evening. I was hoping to bump into someone in whose blog I have commented and vice-versa. Striking a conversation with another equally apprehensive-looking person made me relax. Of late I have been visiting the blog of Anju Sabu, a lovely blogger who infuses sketches and posts together. While sitting and taking in the whole atmosphere, Anju passed by me and said: Susan! Whoa. I was thrilled.  

It was quite funny in that meet as when I asked somebody their name, they responded by giving me their url: Fix-it.blogspot. Then I had to give them an ‘Ahhh’ glance and ask them: Please tell me your name. Hmmm. So much so for bloggers! 

We were given placards and we had to go around the room asking people to write their comments and url (now this was like writing comments on people’s blog!!). It was hilarious as many were wearing their placards on their rears and we had to write on the rears . . .

Now another fun part: There was a huge screen which displayed the tweets of people who were present there in real-time. Many of them were feverishly tweeting while the meet was in progress. Obsessive compulsive tweeting, as I would like to call.

Now as I was going out, a quiet blogger who walked in late also walked out with me. I liked talking to this quiet kid who was quite unassuming and felt lost. We exchanged our blog addresses and parted ways. Our parting words were: We are leaving just as we came – ALONE. That’s the truth of life as well: We come alone and leave alone.

Ah! Did I mention that all of us got free T-Shirts with the logo of Indiblogger. Proud to be a blogger!

Friday 19 March 2010

Anxieties of a research scholar

Today my neighbours left to their native place with packed bags and smiley faces. Years ago, it was the same with our family. Come summer, we would finish all our exams, throw away the books and leave to our grandma's place.

Now all that has changed.

Being a research scholar, I have no holidays and as icing on the cake, I am a full-time scholar. This leaves me with the situation of every day being a working day and/or every day being a holiday. When people ask me about my weekend plans, I have to tell them with a straight face: I don't differentiate between a week day and a weekend. That gives no room for further conversation. Period.

I also face the peril of working at odd hours of the day and sometimes it so happens that people around me don't ever understand my inability to help with chores around the house. This stifles me.

The beginning of the research  is all rosy with dreams of having a Dr. in front of your name but as the time goes on, a vague feeling about the meaning of the whole 'research' slowly seeps the insides which leave me with a sense of restiveness.

Now about blogging: Everyone feels that I waste time by writing meaningless words in something called a 'blog' when I ought to be writing my thesis. Expletives have to be stopped.

I would like to quote my blogger friend's expression about being in the last leg of the thesis-writing:

Just hang on that last mile - which is the most difficult! But I do promise that the moment you submit it, you'll feel such relief. It's like being pregnant - that last month is so cumbersome and u just want it to be over, but the minute it's over, there is great joy and relief.
that's at least what I've been through.
I have really funny stories from my last month of "thesising" - I threw out my dad from my my apartment, managed to have one of my worst fights with my partner over what kind of vegetables to put in the salad, was grouchy and snappy at everyone who came my way, I mean I had MURDER in my eyes. During the last week, when all I lacked was a few touch ups, the introduction and the abstract, I almost gave up on the whole thing, saying "who needs this degree anyway?!" and I just wanted to crawl inside a seashell and stay there. The last night was spent on proofreading - and of course I didn't sleep and went to University to print it - walking like a zombie, but I MADE IT.
After that - I had a lot of apologizing to do and was lucky that everyone forgave me...
I wish you have an easy "birth"!!! 

 Her words are so quite true.

And finally everyone you meet ask the most prized question: "So when are to going to submit your thesis?" As if a thesis is another application form to be filled and submitted. This is quite irritating as people ask this question whenever they meet me. Sometimes I face this question almost every day in a week.

On a lighter vein, I am going to attempt a book on the dynamics of thesis-writing and handling people when I complete my thesis. Anyone volunteering to be the second author of the book with me? I shall be more than glad.

Signed by
Frustrated Research Scholar

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Being courteous in Blogland

Courtesy whether in the real or virtual world is quite welcome and appreciated. In the blogland, especially, since one does not have the opportunity to see the reader face-to-face, courtesy becomes the signature of our personality in addition to the posts we write.

Personally I like it when the comments that I make in other blogs are acknowledged. A simple 'Thank-You' or a few lines in reply to my comment is well appreciated. Having the habit of returning to the blog once I make a comment, I get very disappointed when my comment is not acknowledged. Now I can understand when there are a multitude of comments; the blogger cannot acknowledge each and every single individual and so a common 'Thank-You' note which includes the names of the individuals who wrote comments is a noteworthy sign.

I quite like visiting people who take time to reply to my comments and thus an effective dialogue is carried on between the two parties. I remember instances when I decided that I will never visit blogs which do not write a return comment to my comment. And trust me, I have not visited those places again.

If a reader has visited your blog for the first time and left a comment, courtesy demands that I welcome the reader and appreciate the time taken to visit my blog. This creates a personal rapport with the fellow-blogger. Better still it would be nice to visit the blog of that individual and write a few lines of appreciation.

I must proudly admit that the readers that visit my blog are quite courteous and liberal with their comments and insights. I have learnt many valuable lessons from a few of them who take time, care and thought to write down their honest insights on the post. I do not want to name them one by one, but I definitely appreciate their presence here.

The virtual world is a faceless remote land and when one's presence is acknowledged it makes a great difference. Connecting with readers through comments is the only mode of communication and dialogue so why not strive for it.

Finally blog awards are something which make the blogger's day. Even though I don't much enjoy the tagging and other extended aspects, I do like the blogger who spends time and gives away awards (though I seldom do it).

My readers are welcome to add to this list of courtesies and I know that you would have a lot to say . . .

Picture courtesy: Internet

Saturday 13 March 2010


What are your immediate thoughts on seeing this picture? Well, for me its not a very pleasant sight to behold. Graffiti is something which has been in our culture since long. But the graffiti that held its place in history made  political or revolutionary statements that made the general public to think and act (certain times). But as time passed by, graffiti has been reduced to scribbling one's names or just scrawling a heart with two names written.

This kind of crude writing of names just to pass away precious time is quite annoying. We can find this kind of scribbling everywhere - museums, railway stations and in some cases even in buildings which are are given the heritage status by the government.

What is the psychology behind this kind of behaviour. This is seen mainly observed in school and college students who tend to carve their names in trees, walls, rocks, banners and many other places which seem a nice place to etch their names. Solidarity in having a gang, lover and impressive mobile numbers make the students to scribble their names in walls which are clean and just painted. Why? The urge to possess and own a particular place in the wall gives them a rush of adrenaline and excitement. Every year the government spends big money to preserve many of its historical monuments from vandalism without any effect from the public who love to deface clean walls and rocks.

The word 'quiz' which was also born from graffiti is one example which stands apart. I know that many people who scribble on walls do not know about the word 'quiz' or any revolutions that were born out of graffiti. All that they know is that they have time and means to etch their names for posterity (or so they think) much to the annoyance of people who love to see clean walls.

"I think graffiti writing is a way of defining what our generation is like. Excuse the French, we're not a bunch of p---- artists. Traditionally artists have been considered soft and mellow people, a little bit kooky. Maybe we're a little bit more like pirates that way. We defend our territory, whatever space we steal to paint on, we defend it fiercely."
—Sandra "Lady Pink" Fabara (Source: Wikipedia)
So what is your take on Graffiti dear reader?

Monday 8 March 2010

I would like to know . . .


Is it the place where you were born / place where you grew up / the place where you are living at present

Saturday 6 March 2010

And then the string of beads snapped

For a long time now, say four years I have been wearing a string of beads. Before that I was wearing a similar string of beads for about five years. I quite liked wearing that string of beads which resembled a string of prayer beads used by the Buddhist monks. Since that fascination, I have been replacing the beads everytime it snapped. The beads had become synonymous with my personality.

Not many liked wearing those beads and therefore that was a value-addition to that string of beads. AND ToDaY the string of beads which was with me for long, snapped and the beads fell down Slloowly . . . one by one . . . rolling . . . frolicking on the folds of my clothes. For a long time I had worn those beads and as time passed by the beads started wearing me. When people commented that those beads looked good on me and gave a mystical quality to me, I was elated. The casual liking to wearing beads slowly started acquiring a different meaning. It became an extension of me. I started associating my image with the beads. Since not many wore it, it became my signature. The few days I would remove it, atleast one person would ask me about the 'notorious' beads of mine.

I had allowed the beads to define me a certain way. Or rather I imagined the beads on me to define me. And today when the beads snapped, I felt an identity melting and that I could not do anything about it. I started thinking how something as insignificant as a string of beads could overpower me into defining my self. Not long ago, I had written a post on emotionally attaching oneself to something. How true!

The beads that wore me had finally snapped this evening. I think I will not replace it this time.

Picture courtesy: Internet

Wednesday 3 March 2010

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"

Nooooooooooooo. Whenever I listen or read this line from Shakespeare, it evokes lovely images in my mindscape but then all of a sudden there is a jerk . . . I BECOME AWARE OF THE ACUTE HEAT and reality dawns on me. Lovers all over the world read out these lines to their beloved but when in India, I guess this will/does not hold good. Summers in India, especially in Chennai are hot, sweaty, dusty and cruel. The heat gives one the feeling of melting away eternally. The water-melons, musk-melons are all lined up in the market-places with people buying them to alleviate their heat. Umbrellas, caps, shades and cottons are out on the streets in full glory.

Shakespeare talks of the summers in England where it is lovely with a gentle breeze to soothe the soul. And so he is justified when he compares his beloved to a summer's day with golden hue and all but imagining a love-struck individual in Chennai comparing his/her beloved to a summer's day would invite some suspicion. The beloved in question would immediately think of the sweat, heat, dust and dryness and the lover would be dismissed with a curt glance and bitter phrases.

When I read of winters and snow in Jenean's and Zuzana's blogs, I wonder about the difference that is prevalent. There they are wondering about spring and the sun while I have already started complaining about the heat and sweat. When bloggers post pictures of snow, I can't help but feel a wee bit jealous but when they talk of the gloom, traffic snags and lost connectivity, I revise my thoughts. It is a well-known joke that in Chennai there are only three seasons: Hot, Hotter and Hottest!

Probably "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day" was written for lovers in a particular geographical location in spite of Mr. Shakespeare being universally celebrated. Dear readers, summer is here in my part of the world and it is not very nice.

Sonnet 18

~ William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Monday 1 March 2010

My photograph is a liar

Attributing human qualities to inanimate objects reflects the literature background of the one writing. Have you ever heard this: "When I saw your picture, I thought you were blah blah blah but when I am talking to you, it is a contradiction." Boo. Now this statement mildly irritates me. Judging and second guessing the person's traits from the image. It happens all the time. Now even psychologists assert that within five minutes of seeing a photograph, the individual is judged and discerned. NO. It cannot happen. Based on experiences and previous analysis, one often tries to dissect the image and perceive it. Well, the perceived becomes the real until (I don't know when).

I am guilty of this as well. "Well, he looks arrogant," "She looks like an angel" -- The first judgment is on the characteristics and the second is based on looks. The first one can be wrong and the second one, I don't know. Why is that every time we seek to fence and border one's personality based on images, looks and voice. I might look absolutely adorable in a photograph but in reality I can be someone who is quite adorable but with shades of gray! Now does that qualify as adorable?

The 'About Me' column is another shade of the image. Again judgments are made reading the 'About Me' column and probably that is why many individuals don't mind writing and filling up those columns. You may say that it is my perception that images are often projections but not reality. Maybe. In a certain frame of mind even I would take that position. But not today.

So all said and done, my photograph is a liar or perhaps it is but a partial truth to the real me.

Image courtesy: Internet


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