Wednesday 28 July 2010

A winter grace

As one grows older, one should necessarily become wiser and true to the inner self, is the common belief. But sometimes this is a path which is harder to take. Being true to the inner self and having an authenticity between the expressed and the inner self is but a hard thing to do. But then it's never too hard to cultivate harmony.

Dogmas, cynicism, prejudices and other qualities as these should ideally be fading when one grows older but why does it become more prominent as age advances. When I was younger, my knowledge of certain things was limited and so I was not very judgmental as I am today. Even simple acts are tinged with sarcasm and cynicism as age adds on to the self.

Especially when I see politicians of today, I wonder what it is to age with grace. They seem to get murkier with age. I am no one to judge but these are the thoughts that keep ringing within me as I grow older. I always wanted my personality to be of a single shade coloured with joys and smiles. It does seem like that most of the time but when it does not, reality checks are shuddered.

When Jung remarked "A winter grace," he was referring to the grace and charm of the individual with the advancing years. I stand critical of myself and even want to add "A winter blight." I am not quite old but I am definitely older than say, ten years ago but I would say that the number of age has got nothing to do with the age of personality and inner character.

I find myself lacking each time I weigh the scales. I know I can try but procrastinate the goodness. And I am good at giving excuses to get on with everything.

Winter grace . . .

Image courtesy: Internet

Monday 26 July 2010

In what language do you think?

In India this is what instructors advice to young people who want to master English: "Think in English." The demure students just nod away as if they understood the very difficult process of being able to think in a language not their own. And I must tell you that like me there are many others who have been exposed to English earlier on in life and thus even the thinking process is in English. I am not a native-speaker of the language but studying in schools whose medium was predominantly English, I never learnt my mother's tongue. I can speak Tamil and also manage to read it but thinking, it is only English. Now whether it is good or bad, I don't negotiate.

Now thinking is a process which is very personal and intricate and out of the blues when an instructor advices to change the language of thinking, it gets a bit stifling. But eager minds who could do anything to learn a language, try that as well. Now if someone asks me to think in Mandarin or Dutch, I might have to undergo a complete transformation of the mind to do so. Now I don't disagree that where there is a will, there is a way. If someone asks me to do that in gun-point, I might try.

Even when students approach me and ask me for advice to speak good English, I always (without any forethought) say: "Think in English." It is better said than done. I guess the language of thinking is something which happens in a very early age and is conditioned in a certain way. Somewhere after thinking for about sixteen years in the mother tongue, and then switching to a new thinking language is a bit difficult, not impossible, I reckon.

Researches say that one can swear only in the language of their thinking. And the word for 'mother' is another example. Despite the fact that I think only in English, I always prefer calling my mother amma, the Tamil word for mother. Strange are the ways of language and the human mind!!

This is the case with all the languages, not only English, I guess. If I may ask, what is the language in which you think. Are you happy with that.

Image courtesy: Internet

Saturday 24 July 2010

Layers and folds

Reading between lines

The common things that most women do so well. Certain traits are acquired, certain cultivated but there are those eternal ones which one is born with. Let us take the emotion of feeling pain. Even when I utter the word 'pain,' I can think of atleast three references to what caused me pain. Effortlessly it flows. No initiation. No forcing. It just flows. And how . . .

I remember whenever I am so pained that I start crying, I cry not only for the present pain but for all the pains that have passed by me. And that happens in chronological order. That's magic. How can one be coherent in pain? Well, it happens.

After the order, comes the detail. I think no one else can be a sucker for details as me. Gradually the scene unfolds (of the past pains). The dialogues. The exact words. The pain that was there then. The days of wallowing in self-pity. The end which strengthened and made me spur on.

The place and the time: Well, I tend to take it a bit further and think of the songs that reminded me of that pain.

This does not happen when I am happy. Happiness captures only the present moment. No flashbacks. No details. Probably that is why happiness is lovely to be in as it completely wraps up your senses to the present. And that's why I like to be happy happy. Sometimes one forgets that and raises tragedy to greater heights calling it the high point of emotion. Nah.

Let me leave you with a poem by Hopkins. It talks of pain.

'No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief.'

~ by Gerard Manley Hopkins

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
Woe, wórld-sorrow; on an áge-old anvil wince and sing —
Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked 'No ling-
ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief."'

    O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.

Poem courtesy: Internet

Thursday 22 July 2010

Wanting the NOW as FOREVER

Traveling and walking on the beach does this to me. A mad desire to seal time and wish that it was forever. While traveling in trains and buses, the gentle breeze, lulling movement makes me so lazy and comfortable that I start my fantasies. The first one, which would inevitably want entire life in a train/bus. I just don't feel like getting out and walking back home. It seems like a crude jolt of the embryonic delight.

Next, is the time when I walk in the smooth sand. Ah! I just wish that I could walk and walk into tomorrow and invariably want that FOREVER. Coming back home brings me into a different reality and time.

In instances as these, my thoughts flow to Rip Van Winkle and his sleep. How would he have felt after waking up after twenty years and finding everything so very different. Imagine not recognising anyone from his past. Oh! that would have been so cruel. Winkle froze in a particular time and that became FOREVER to him.

I am not only talking about lovely moments which many of us want forever nor I want everything to be hunky-dory like in 'feel good' movies.  All that I am talking about here is getting lost in a moment rather say, the present and feeling that it is FOREVER.

What are your FOREVER moments.

Images courtesy: 1. Government of India

Tuesday 20 July 2010

I know it is new . . .

Today I bought myself a silver bangle. I love silver accessories and it gladdens my heart when I buy something in silver. But the buying is not the point of this post. The feelings that accompany when something new is bought is the point of focus.

When anything new is acquired, however small it is it gives the buyer special joy. No one knew about my silver bangle except for me but that changes my mood, lifts my spirits and in a way empowers me. The article need not be something big, it can be something as insignificant as a pen or an eraser but then it is new and that adds to the joy.

Today after buying the bangle, I wore it and lo! behold my hands were instantaneously not my hands anymore. It was the instrument that had newness in it. I used that hand for almost everything: talking over the phone, itching, opening my bag, waving . . . Well, I knew that I was sporting something new and it gave me a thrill to observe that when I indulged in some action.

This feature particularly holds good when sporting new lingerie. Ah! that feeling. In a way, it gives an extra special feeling as no one but you knows that it is new. Well . . .

But this feeling exists mainly for tactile and materialistic objects. The newness of a day, sunrise et al are not given so much importance. It is because it is not worn by us or felt by us. It is of a higher point of appreciation, right.

Whatever said and done, the power of 'new' captivates and holds us till the 'new' gradually becomes old. But silver, you know, grows nice as it becomes old. So for now, I won't think of old.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Let's talk: No cliches please

After writing Dream-Stealer, reading the comments spurred on thoughts on usual things about many topics but what stood out of the thoughts was CONVERSATION. The dream-stealer loved conversations and so did the women in Nevine's Lady Grey with a Lemon Twist. The dream-stealer always wanted to enliven her conversations and so stole dreams but not everyone is as innovative but everyone does try what comes best to them.

Many self-help books advise: "Appear to be genuinely interested in the other person. Listen." So much importance is been given to something which has been there for quite some time now. Along with the importance of conversation, there is also something else that tags along: The need to be in the driver's seat. Topics are being scouted (Now I begin to think whether my blog posts also try to do that. Well . . .).

What goes into a conversation. Knowledge? Wit? Humour? What? Do we actually think before striking a conversation. Some weeks ago I posted a status in my Facebook which said: "Susan yearns for a soulful conversation . . ." but alas! not many chose to reply except for one sympathetic being. Maybe I was asking for too much.

Now what does the adjective 'soulful' have to do in a simple conversation? Maybe it's just a genuine interest in making conversation for the sake of it with no frills attached. No intention of winning the woman/man, not to create impressions and please, not to show-off.

Does 'true' conversation exist only with friends? Or does it also become something of a facade like the women in Nevine's Lady Grey with a Lemon Twist. Sometimes I've had the best conversations with random strangers in buses/trains or in a queue where we were waiting. We didn't try to make conversation because it was the 'done' thing or because we wanted to impress each other. We just conversed as we wanted to talk. Simple.

Maybe I should pause now. I can go on and on. Can I hope for completely banning plastic conversations like plastic smiles.

Image courtesy: Internet

Wednesday 14 July 2010


She wanted this for a long time and finally it was coming. Quite excited and anxious, she prepared for the event.

The day came. She was allowed fifteen minutes. She was angry that she was not allotted the sixty minutes that she had asked for. They said: "First sit through for fifteen."

She was advised to sit in a wee corner and observe the entire process. She was thrilled. She pulled a chair and made herself cozy in a "nice" corner. The process was going on. It did not have an exact starting time. She was told that since there was no beginning and no end, it did not follow any plot. She was happy that she will not miss anything by not being there for the beginning.

She started listening, observing and . . .

She noticed restlessness, uneasiness, sudden happiness, blankness.

She stopped. She cursed herself for not bringing a book. She had asked for sixty minutes and got only fifteen minutes but it seemed like eternity.

Distracted, she tried to "think." She could not. The "process" was quite loud almost hijacking every other thing. "How could this be?" She tried to remove herself mentally from the scene and think of water and small boats but the "process" was almost suffocating her senses. She wanted to go. But it was only seven minutes. She had eight more left. She figured in the "process" many times. She wasn't interested. "Let me go." "Please let me leave this place."

Silence. This was her own asking. There was no escaping it now.

Finally but slowly the fifteen minutes were over.

She ran outside. She was wrapped in sweat. Life wouldn't be the same again.

The dream-stealer woke up. Many times she had imagined being inside the mind of someone and observe the processes of the mind sitting in a wee corner. She always wondered if that would be a romantic affair. But after the dream, she revised her thoughts. The dream-stealer finally dreamt and was glad she had seen a dream but unhappy that being inside the mind of someone was so terrifying.

Monday 12 July 2010


Love                           Lust                                         Denial
               Tender                           Love                                     Affection

Denial                                 Truth                                  Love

No No No
                                   High                         Low

Happy Happy
Want Need you
                                        Love you



Friday 9 July 2010

Laced with degrees of comparison

Ever wondered how most of our conversation  has the mode of comparison laced at the subconscious level. Every time I remark: I like coffee, I am subconsciously saying that I like coffee better than tea or colas or better still vodka! The same applies for clothes, people and situations.

Now I start meandering into thought whether this is a social and cultural conditioning. Do we always look at people, objects and emotions in the comparison mode? When does an individual learn this: as a child or as an early adolescent who has some experience in life?

When babies cry while being fed with milk instead of orange juice, do they react to the taste because they don't find it as appealing or simply because it does not taste good. It's a wonder to observe all these nitty-gritties of life.

Just pause through your thoughts in a given time and observe yourself and think how many times your thoughts are based on comparison. When you decide to read instead of watching television, you compare; when you exclaim, "I love kissing!" you are comparing it with something else, say caressing; when you remark "I love this place," you are doing a fast mental comparison of different places and arriving at a conclusion.

Of course, along with all this, memory plays a pivotal role which aids in comparison and decisions.

And so what are the tales of comparison in your experiences . . .

Wednesday 7 July 2010

An aside called 'Octopus Paul'

After yesterday's comment blooper in Blogger, the next best thing is Octopus Paul, the psychic predicting the winner of the different matches. Well, the sports page cannot get more interesting as different papers devote a section to a news article with the picture of Paul. World Cup 2010 has all the right ingredients to cater to different mediums!!! Literally.

Telegraph just reported: "Psychic octopus Paul unfazed by death threats." I am enjoying this side-kick. After the prediction that Spain will win against Germany, people have started taking Paul more seriously.

I wonder at the state of mind of the players tonight. Will Spain be encouraged because Paul predicted their win or will Germany try to be more strategic and alert after the prediction. Along with many others, I am also interested and anxious to herald the verdict delivered by Paul.

But this kind of psychic predictions have existed for many hundreds of years now. Kings and generals have always consulted mediums and psychics for advice and wisdom. The World Cup is also not short of being a battle field with equally strong emotions and passion.

Octopus Paul is certainly a star in its own way with celebrity status and extensive press coverage. It is time the world gave importance to mollusks of the sea like octopuses along with marine mammals like whales, dolphins and the like.

Finally I choose to end with few lines posted by a friend on Facebook:

XX is going Dutch for the remainder of the World Cup - Kom op Oranje!
Non-Dutch readers will note that the language looks quite familiar. This is because English is a debased form of Dutch (Low German). And since the Dutch takeover of England in 1688 we are really a province of the Netherlands. Ergo when 'they' win we can share the glory-esp when they beat ancestral enemies Germany OR Spain!

Paul, we shall wait.

Image courtesy: I saw it all over the net but I chose this anyway

Monday 5 July 2010

Facts of life

Step 1: DENIAL (Who me? No No. I could not do that)

Step 2: PRETENSION OF CURIOSITY (Do you think it was really me? Maybe it was x who was also there)

Step 3: SHEEPISH ACCEPTANCE (You know, it's been there for quite some time now)

Now for a few seconds, I would have held your undivided attention at the same time made you think of a thousand different situations which could have initiated the same three steps.

Well, these three steps comes from a person who SNORES and avoids confrontation. Almost everyone snores and most often not many accept that they do so. A simple act of making bizarre sounds while sleeping does not appeal to anyone (even if it is in an unconscious state of sleep). Recently I found out that even small children make sounds similar to snoring. All of us love being prim and proper even whilst sleeping but of course, we cannot be on the vigil.

To add to this three steps, it would also be interesting to analyse the different stages of this friendly act  through the years of my existence. In the eighties, while I was growing up, my grandmother would remark at a person who was snoring: "Looks like he had a very tiring day. See! how he is snoring. Don't wake him up."

After a decade, doctors researched this topic and came out with the results that if the wind pipe had some congestion, then it affected breathing and caused snoring. There was nothing to worry about that. Great news.

Bang, came the new millennium with it's sophisticated equipment and high-end researches. 'Sleep-apnea' is what it is referred to in medical terms with corrective surgery, if it gets too loud or hard to cope with. Our community web page, Wikipedia even offers tips to partners with spouses who snore -- Earmuffs with extra padding (!!!!!)

But after all this, I wonder why it is hard for a person to accept that they snore. Most of my family members whom I accost with snoring, follow the three steps mentioned above religiously. As I type this, I think aloud for myself as well. Why do I refuse to accept that I sometimes do snore. Is it a pathological desire to give a picture of the eternal 'sleeping-beauty' who looked lovely even as she slept or is it a picture of ourselves that does not make any unpleasant noises while sleeping, an unconscious state where one is laid bare of all the pretensions and staying-on-guard. It can be anything. How easy it is to lie and utter a 'NO' instead of calmly saying: "Yes I do snore." After all it's free will. Why make an issue of snoring and it's denials.On second thoughts, one does not know what happens while sleeping, maybe the other person is lying to pull our legs. Sounds convincing. Hmmm.

Image courtesy: Internet

Saturday 3 July 2010

Injecting interjections. Wow!!!

Language is wonderful and I can never cease to be amazed by it's different forms. I've been thinking of the different words I frequently use and interjections seem to be a feature that constantly appears. And in case, you did not know what interjections were: They are words used to describe emotions. But that definition does not explain it all.

Words like 'Well!' 'Geez!' 'Voila!' and others are examples of interjections. Now, well, this is not a post on grammar. I just meant to say how by injecting interjections, we save uttering a number of words. Words like 'cool' and sexy' also can be called interjections.

Just a look at the many comments I write stand example to my heavy leaning on interjections. They all have 'well,' 'aww,' 'oh,' 'hmmm' and certain other words that express how I feel.

The words above can also be called my pet interjections. How incomplete our vocabulary will be without these lovely interjections. They of course don't receive as much importance like certain other words but how can we survive without them. I tried doing a simple exercise: Writing and speaking for two days without interjections and boy! it was not easy. Well, injecting interjections have become the norm for me. Oh! so wonderful.

Well, what are your pet interjections. Err . . .

Image courtesy: Internet

Thursday 1 July 2010


"I am a dream-stealer," she exclaimed emphatically to her amused companion.

"Can we have a strawberry tea and an ice-cold lemon tea, please?"

The companion nodded and slowly replied: "I think you are mad, unethical and stupid."

"Why do you think so?" she asked warming to the strawberry tea. "When people can steal ideas, cars and children, why not dreams?"

"Well, stealing ideas, cars and children are accepted as it is the norm but dreams?"

The sun chose her to shine upon thus causing her small diamond stud to sparkle. She took another sip of her strawberry tea relishing it as if it was the most wonderful concoction in the face of the earth.

"You don't know me at all," she argued with her companion who was looking at the baby in the next table.

"Let me tell you, this will never get you far. You will have to face hellfire for stealing people's dreams and you can never be forgiven."

"Why do you use such complex words when you can dismiss this as something silly and simple."

"It is NOT silly and it is NOT simple."

She slowly asked her companion: "What do you understand when I say "dream-stealer?""

"Well, you try to destroy people's dreams by stealing it. Though they don't know it is you who are doing it, nevertheless . . ."

Sipping her tea, she started, "You know whenever people tell me their dreams and I find it so wonderful, I repeat that dream to someone else pretending it was mine. When people are engrossed in my narration, it feels good and the conversation flows endlessly." She stops for a few seconds and continues, "You know this phrase 'dream-stealer' is also not my own."

Sipping the last of the cold lemon-tea, the companion nods muttering "Dream-stealer."

P. S: My first attempt at writing fiction.


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