Tuesday 28 September 2010

Behind the scenes . . . literally!

Many of us have been in that place. If we observe enough, we shall never fail to be amused and entertained. Oh! I am talking about sitting behind tinted glasses and watching the world pass by. I call this a specialised form of people-watching!

I don't know how many have actually done this. Have you been seated in a room or a vehicle where people outside cannot see you but you can see everything that is going on outside. A hilarious experience, by Jove! Well, there are many sorts of people who pass by, giving you ample laugh bytes. Some narcissists take pleasure is admiring them in the glass (behind which you are sitting and grinning); some check their nostril hairs! Phew! There are some who check whether their make-up is fine while some just wink.

There is voyeuristic pleasure in this act as the person outside the glass (doors/car-windows) is most of the times oblivious that someone is actually inside. Even though common sense knows that since the glass is raised, there ought to be a person inside, is never thought by any individual. Sometimes life is like that!

We are quite oblivious of what is actually happening. Probably the term 'rose-tinted' came from that. But the only difference is that as a pass-time, we are inside and having fun while in the real sense, the individual covers the mind and imagines fun!

And sometimes the reverse can happen. We imagine that since the glasses are tinted, people outside cannot see us and therefore we can have our time. Not always! If the person outside looks carefully, (s)he can look through!

Rose-tinted glasses, anyone?!?!?

Image: Internet

Saturday 25 September 2010

Where did I leave my innocence . . .

I have recently started teaching as a guest faculty in a University. The place is a rustic one and most of the students are from in and around the place. Though the institution is a University, it is still in its formative stages.

One thing that constantly captures my thoughts while interacting with the students is their obliviousness to an assortment of things. The students, if I can say are 'raw' and an epitome of bliss. They are not exposed to the bigger world around them and are quite happy. Observing them, I have often wondered: "Have I lost my innocence?" Being educated frees the mind of different trappings but the price one pays is the loss of something primal, instinctive and blissful.

Education forces us to think beyond the seen and coaxes us to question almost every single thing. This can get stifling at times. Blissfully unaware of existential s***, post-colonial angst and whatever, the students here meander through life. I know they might see my position as quite privileged in comparison to theirs. But looking at them, I cannot stop thinking: Where did I leave my innocence? I would love to answer: School, University and Mind boggling Theories.

Do you also sometimes feel like the way I do?

Image courtesy: Internet                                           

Thursday 23 September 2010

Just for laughs and thoughts :)

 If I see something that I think my readers will enjoy, I cannot but post it here. This funny poem had me in splits and I thought why not share it with you. Hope you enjoy Michelene Wandor's poem.

~ Michelene Wandor

Medusa. Sit down. Take
the weight off your snakes. We have
a lot in common. Snakes, I mean.

Tell me, can you really turn men
...to stone with a look? Do you
think, if i had a perm -
maybe not.

Don't you think
Perseus was
a bit of a coward? not even
to look you in the face

you were beautiful when you
were a moon goddess, before
Athene changed your looks
through jealousy

I can't see what's wrong
with making love
in a temple, even
if it was her temple

it's a good mask; you must
feel safe and loving
behind it

you must feel very powerful

tell me, what conditioner do you use?

I would love to hear what you have to say on this.

Monday 20 September 2010

Soaking into a new place

Places are strange. With some you fall in love instantly, while some tease you and coax you to leave. I have experienced both. But some places just don't gel with you. While I always keep my eyes and mind open to a new place, I can immediately sense the feeling of being a bit stifled. I allow that to pass. I imagine that the place and I will gradually fall in love.

I have often wondered whether it is the place or the elements of a place which warm the insides. Do people matter when one does not like the place? What if the place is lovely but the people aren't? Does it make a difference?

I had imagined that I don't much like big cities. I was wrong. I like them. I like them to the extent of having a dispassionate relationship with them. It is a paradox. Cities like me. They seduce me with their neon lights and bright sights. They sometimes take me on never-ending journeys into labyrinths of pleasure and love. They have long trains and bus-rides. I love sitting inside those buses and trains imagining that it would last forever.

Sprinkling mountains, lushness of green and quiet nights: Can they satisfy me? Once they did. But that was a dream that was fulfilled. And I was young and willing to let go. I still would let go but the place does not allow me to.

Places and I have a strange love-hate relationship. What makes you like a place? What do you expect from a place? Tell me . . .

Image courtesy: Internet

Saturday 18 September 2010

Hands stretched: The other side

Travelling regularly in trains, I often encounter beggars of both genders walking the aisle and stretching out their hands. The stretched hands belong to different age-groups. I don't like giving alms for various reasons which I will shortly discuss. Today when an old man stretched out his alms, I looked at him and nodded a 'no,' indicating that I will not give him anything. He immediately started mumbling something in an angry tone. It seemed that he was abusing me for not giving him anything.

Personally, I feel that begging will not solve the bigger problem. And another reason that I refuse money is that there are many beggars who fill the trains and streets of Chennai. One can see different groups of people: blind, lame, with children, singers, old people, etc. I think that by dispensing a few coins when hands are stretched out will not yield anything. Sometimes I throw philosophies outside the window and don't mind giving coins. But I am always confused by this persistent problem.

There are some beggars who tag at clothing and follow the person for a distance. Many individuals give a few coins just to get rid of the persistent member. Another instance is that of beggars hurling insults if you refuse them alms.

In India, the problem of beggars is increasing by the day and there seems no solution either by the state or central government. It is sad. I would love to contribute something where the problem is solved at the level of the root.

There have been times when I have seen children begging and when I offered to buy them food, they bluntly refused. The wanted money instead. There have been reports that there are syndicates which employ people to beg and collect money. The point of begging as an employment is also somewhere at the back of my mind.

When I was in UK, I was happy to see that there were hardly any beggars who hound you on the streets. If so, what is the problem in India? Maybe the alarming rate of increase in population or are people opting the easy way out.

I am still wondering about the old man who mumbled abuses at me. Why does he beg?

What do you think people should do when accosted by beggars?

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Have I told you lately . . .

You know we take a lot of things in life for granted. Take for example, saying 'Thank-You.' There are many times when we feel gratitude and warmth for something that happened to us but we seldom express it. Well, this is my 200th post. Not a very great milestone, nevertheless it makes me happy happy. I did not intend anything like this when I started this blog. Starting this blog was a very personal motive which I thought will enable me to rid my emotional baggage. But here it is, read and loved by all of you.

So, today I am expressing my gratitude to all my followers and my commenters. You have made me feel special and worthwhile. Exchanging thoughts and ideas across ether is something that I enjoy and look forward to every time I post.

And I should add that you have given me the opportunity to be part of your excellent blogs. Reading your posts, expressing my thoughts and waiting for your next post is something which is cherished and loved by me. We are all fellow travellers in this blogosphere and I must say that the journey is/will be quite eventful and nourishing with you for company.

So let's uncork the champagne and toast for US!!!

Joy always :)

Image: Internet

Sunday 12 September 2010

Working hard to reverse stereotypes

Once upon a time, not so long ago, we were fighting stereotypes and tags attached to a specific gender or group. But now that is gradually becoming passe. Now, we have left stereotypes and are working pretty hard to reverse stereotypes.

Branding a woman with specific colours, chores, views and jobs, though still exist are giving way to something else. People, these days try to defy what is stereotyped about them and work hard to present a 'different' view. Now this is not something 'bad' or 'uncalled for.' But the very idea of defying stereotypes is slowly becoming a compulsive obsession. For example, the colour 'pink' is always seen as a woman's colour. But despite the fact that some women love the colour, they opt for other colours which do not essentially carry the 'feminine' tag! In the process, one is trying to consciously reverse stereotypes.

It is remarkable that in many issues, stereotypes are gradually melting. But I wonder whether going against stereotypes leads one to consciously avoid certain things that one loves and wishes to adhere to. If a woman feels good about getting manicures and pedicures, it does not point to the fact that she is very feminine and loves to pamper herself. Even if she loves to pamper herself, why not. Is it a stereotype that women who admit that they love the beauty parlours are vain and overtly feminine. No. A man may pamper himself by discussing about politics passionately but does that limit politics to men alone? No.

When I look around, I see many women who say: "I don't much like the colour pink, you know. They call it a feminine colour but I prefer black." I have often felt like asking: "Do you like black because it is not a feminine colour or because you genuinely like it?" This is but one example. There are many all around us if we care to look.

These days men try pretty hard to assist women in chores around the house. Why? Of course they care but they are also aware of the stereotype that is merged with their sex: Men don't involve with the chores around the house. Again a case of trying hard.

Well, as much as I am against stereotyping, I am also in chagrin of trying hard to go against stereotyping. On second thoughts, maybe trying hard to break stereotypes will help in complete wiping out the old stereotypes before the new ones come searching. A case of standing between the devil and the deep blue sea!!!

Image courtesy: Internet

Friday 10 September 2010

Throw in a couple of stars, will you!

Walking across blogosphere throws many wonderful sights and words. You would definitely agree with me on this, won't you. I must tell you that Mr. van Gogh is spread all over this terrain in many forms. Let me pin down to one of my favourites: Starry Night. When van Gogh painted this in September 1888, little did he know that this piece would become the most reproduced one from his collection. It is said that he painted the piece 'Starry Night' from memory.

People have used this painting in many forms:  an expression, a greeting card, a song, to refer to a beloved's eyes and so on. Some people have blogs which are named "Starry Night" or "Starry."

I can get lost in this piece as I love stars and also the works of van Gogh. Perhaps his tragic life has given more mileage to him. I have explored this topic in one of my earlier posts. I have also talked about stars. But the desire to make a combination out of stars and van Gogh is something I have been  yearning to do for a long time.

Whenever I see this piece by van Gogh, I get a bit melancholic.  Not exactly melancholic, but reflective, I guess. The more I gaze at the picture, the more I allow myself to be transported into that scene. And when I am transported, I feel that I am not alone. There are thousands of people and stars. Perhaps this is a collective expression of a piece of art. There are so many out there who feel the same way about "Starry Night." I almost feel that all those people are standing and becoming entwined with the stars. What a lovely transportation!

Now another experience is when I hear the song "Starry Starry Night" by Don McLean. McLean's voice gently leads us to the wonder of van Gogh's paintings. It is a lovely tribute by one artist to another.

Let me give you the lyrics of the song "Starry Starry Night"

Starry, starry night.
Paint your palette blue and grey,
Look out on a summer's day,
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
Shadows on the hills,
Sketch the trees and the daffodils,
Catch the breeze and the winter chills,
In colors on the snowy linen land.

Now I understand what you tried to say to me,
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they did not know how.
Perhaps they'll listen now.

Starry, starry night.
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze,
Swirling clouds in violet haze,
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue.
Colors changing hue, morning field of amber grain,
Weathered faces lined in pain,
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand.

Now I understand what you tried to say to me,
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they did not know how.
Perhaps they'll listen now.

For they could not love you,
But still your love was true.
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night,
You took your life, as lovers often do.
But I could have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you.

Starry, starry night.
Portraits hung in empty halls,
Frameless head on nameless walls,
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget.
Like the strangers that you've met,
The ragged men in the ragged clothes,
The silver thorn of bloody rose,
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow.

Now I think I know what you tried to say to me,
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they're not listening still.
Perhaps they never will... 

It is amazing how this man Vincent van Gogh with a simple theme like stars has captivated so many different thoughts, souls and works of art.

After seeing the painting here, what do you think. Does it remind you of love, Vincent van Gogh, Don McLean or NOTHING.

Image: Internet

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Pockets of joy

This week has been a bit hectic. Many things going on in my mind scape, many forms to fill up plus the corrections in my drafts. The list is endless or so it seems. I have yearned to write a blog post since the past four days but it just did not happen. Though I am not yet on the verge of addiction, blogging does give me joy. Reading comments on my posts and writing comments on my favourite blogs is just wonderful and uplifting. This is what I call my 'pocket of joy.'

On a hot summer day, while I was waiting to cross the railway line, I noticed a few crows playing in a small pool of water. The rain had left its mark in the form of a wee pool and the merry crows were cooling their bodies in the water. Though I was sweating, it was interesting to watch those crows wetting their feathers and having a good time. A pocket of joy for the crows on a hot day!!

Coming back to blogging. Inspite of having a tiring day and being fatigued, the moment I log in and see my page, I am thrilled to bits. I cannot say that I can blog or visit blogs endlessly but doing so in the midst of many things makes it unique and joyful. That is why blogging is one of my 'pockets of joy.'

I think all of us have our own 'pockets of joy' that we indulge in to make us feel good. This cannot be a 'forever moment' that was written about a few posts earlier but it definitely makes our day nicer.

So my dear readers do you have 'pockets of joy' in your busy and gruelling schedule. If so, why not share it with us.

Image: Internet

Saturday 4 September 2010

Love Love Love

The title is a bit mawkish, I admit but I sincerely hope the content is not! Sometimes one needs to say a word twice or thrice to bring out the REAL emphasis of the word. There are times when I feel overwhelming love for my mother, sister, grandfather or friend, so it is just not enough to say what one feels in a plain sentence. And so I go: "I feel love, love, love for you" coupled with a tight hug and big smile. It just captures the mood right.

Now using one word thrice can be quite contagious. The first time I heard this was in a place I cannot remember now. The girl was cooing to her beau: "I am in love, love, love with you." He smiled. The smile said it all. And at the end of it, all I could remember was "Love Love Love."

Using the same word twice or thrice does not make a great difference but it does describe the overwhelming state of the person's heart. And the best part part is many individuals use a word twice or thrice to place greater emphasis. Take, my dear friend Nevine who says: "I have Home Home and Other Homes. Home Home is Cairo, Egypt. Other Homes are every country and city I've ever lived in... and there are many." I found that rather cute (another cliched word in today's world). Instead of explaining what we want to say in four or five formal lines, we resort to using one word twice for the emphasis.

But this usage seldom works when we need to express anger or pain. It dilutes the essence of the emotion. So finally we have a usage which should be exclusively used for happy times.

While writing this post, I took off for a few seconds and imagined saying the same for lust: "I feel lust lust lust for you with a pinch of love." Now that seemed funny but not entirely. Try saying that in a husky tone!! (Winks and smiles)

After completing this post, I am happy happy. How about you? Are you feeling jumpy jumpy today? :)

Image courtesy: Internet

Thursday 2 September 2010

Lady Macbeth syndrome in continuum

Lady Macbeth washed her hands and rubbed so hard to get rid of her guilt. This washing of hands to get rid of guilt was christened 'Lady Macbeth Syndrome' by clever psychologists. Now this syndrome, I figured could be applied to many other facets in life. Take cutlery and china for example. When I feel quite angry about something, I would like to break cutlery to rid my anger. I picture the object of anger in the innocent cutlery and have this urge to break them into smithereens. But alas! I cannot do that.

But washing of hands is the act that is done more often to rid of something within us. I have seen friends who have done something they should not, take a bath two or three times. A symbolic cleansing of the within through the outside.

Playing football and handling the ball to rid of some pent-up emotion is not new to us. Imagining the ball to be the impossible opponent, one hits the ball so hard that if the ball had a voice, it would have used the foulest expletives.

Now how much relief or succour does this kind of behaviour give us? It helps us vent for some time but does not guarantee the complete wiping of the guilt, anger or thoughts of failure. But in those small actions of ridding ourselves of a particular emotion, we demonstrate that we would indeed like to get rid of something that lies within us but is not good for our well-being. Just that thought will enable us to take further steps in finding a way out. Maybe Lady Macbeth's guilt was so much that she found her own doom. I wish she had waited for the guilt to melt away.

This post is another ramble. I would love to know your thoughts on this expression of the inner mind on external objects.


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