Saturday 30 October 2010

i wish i was somewhere else . . .

Certain times a strange feeling envelops our being. Now this is a bit difficult to explain in words. One just wishes that he/she is somewhere else but here. Sometimes when I am in the middle of my usual day doing the usual chores and duties, I feel that I should be somewhere else. Mind you, this feeling is not caused because I dread the day or the chores. It is just a surreal feeling that encompasses me. It lasts for more than a few minutes, say for about eight minutes or so. At that time, I just stop whatever I am engaged in and suddenly wish that I was in a different place and an unknown time-zone.

This feeling seizes me unawares. After that gush, I wonder what accosted me. I am left with a lovely tingly feeling. It seems quite real and also surreal. During those few minutes, I am not where I am. I am there and not there. I imagine but that imagination is real for those minutes.

The realm of imagination for those eight minutes is always something happy. I am either singing or smelling roses or eating a lovely meal in a quaint wee place. I wish that I am transported. I am not me but still I maintain my identity. Slightly confusing? Well, those minutes leave me so.

I wonder whether those moments have some purpose to occur in my busy day. I don't know. That feeling does not come often. It comes when I least expect it. And it is not a fanciful forced imagination which is fantasised by me. The feeling holds the reins rather than the other way round.

Some things are lovely when it happens. But they do leave us a bit confused.

Strange fits of passion have I known 
And I will dare to tell 
But in the lover's ear alone, 
What once to me befell.

~ From William Wordsworth's "Strange Fits of Passion Have I Known"

What say? Do you experience these strange transportations?

Wednesday 27 October 2010

The hidden power of the monosyllable NO

Have you ever tried saying NO to someone close to you or somebody whom you think will understand when you say a NO. Well, if your answer is in the negative, you belong to a luckier selection of humans. I am tempted to use the cliched sentence: There are two kinds of people in this world -- the forever 'yes' ones and the 'no' ones. The former are found everywhere but the latter exist in obscure pockets.

I classify myself as occupying a place in between: A sometimes 'no' person but that does not work well with me. Eventhough from childhood, I have been taught to state my preference, I did not know that certain preferences are taken far too personally.

Sometimes my mother assigns some task to me and she also tells me that I can either do it or not. I opt for the latter and then . . . everyone in the house seems to think that I am a disobedient child. I have grown up too much that I can vociferously say a 'no.' I get confused by this outbreak and finally do the chore assigned to me to prevent further outbursts.

I thought it would be easier with friends. But no. Many times, friends take it for granted that one should always be a 'yes' person if we are united by the thread of friendship. A simple 'no' can lead to a cast-down face, sullen expression, stern behaviour and some talks on the bond (age) of friendship. So much so for a 'no.'

For many years, 'yes' and 'no' were the same to me. I could either choose to do something or not but what I did not realise was that there are many emotional strings attached to these simple words. An 'yes' can open up joy and happiness while a 'no' always triggers negative vibes. It is very rare to stumble upon a person who can take both answers in the same stride.

Probably that is why in this part of the world, no one easily utters a 'no' for fear of many repercussions. Most of us are 'yes, I will do it' people. Examples of 'yes' seeps into almost every aspect of our life: relationships, food, jobs,  and others.

Does your culture allow you to say 'no'? Leave culture, what is your idea of uttering 'no' to someone?

Image: Internet

Sunday 24 October 2010

Pre-meditating the usage of foul language

In today's world, it is almost next to impossible to refrain from using unparliamentary words in every context. We have a Hollywood movie channel, which has subtitles for its films and every time a character uses foul language, we can see four asterisk symbols (****). This is the norm as it is not 'nice' to display four-letter words on the screen while screening the movies for Indian audiences. Fine. But in today's world, usage of these words has almost become a part of the daily parlance. There were times when I used to detest these uncouth words. I strongly resolved not to use these words. I still do but in fits-and-starts. There are some absolute places where the usage cannot be restricted. Let me illustrate. If a man tries to grope in public transports, I cannot pass him off with a mild 'Stupid' or 'Idiot.' I am forced to use expletives not only to convey my anger but also to make him feel small and dirty. Whether I succeed or not, I cannot know but I am left with the small pleasure of having given him a piece of my mind in just FOUR LETTERS in addition to some three or more words.

Despite the fact that I use expletives on choice ocassions, I cannot help but detest the usage of these words in every context. Sometimes I wonder about passing off these words as interjections, but no. I believe that the usage of four-letter expletives are something that should be reserved for special occasions. Most words that are part of expletives are sprinkled in every sentence and used as a noun, verb and an adjective. I can understand when out of sheer frustration, someone says: **** but uttering it with every action is taking it a bit too forward.

Today's children use these words to look 'cool' and 'in.' While everyone who uses these words know that they ought not to be using it, few seek to rectify it. I can understand if an old sailor or a man from the army uses foul language a bit too frequently but others.

I always seem to regret the usage of four-letter words after I spew it out in an extreme passionate emotional status. The process continues . . .

Do you believe in clean speech and using words with hygiene? Tell me . . .

Image: Internet

Friday 22 October 2010

Is complete freedom possible?

I have wondered many times about the oft repeated word "freedom." As children, freedom would mean to not complete homework or staying home and missing school. We would often complain: "We don't have freedom to take leave as we want." That was freedom those days. As years passed by, freedom took on many hues and definitions. Prime among them were the freedom of speech, religion and expression.

At different stages, within my limited parameters I weighed the thoughts on freedom in life. I pursued different schools of thought which passionately dialogued with liberation of the self and freedom. I tried that process of "liberation." I succeeded for two and a half days.

Whenever India celebrates its Independence day, I wonder whether we were really free. Though we were free from our colonists, we possess the colonial hangover in every facet of our life and so much so, we happily wear it on our sleeve!

There is no complete freedom. Only degrees in pockets here and there. If we don't worry too much about the thought processes and the like, we are "free" from the chains of "freedom." But if we choose to debate on whether we possess actual freedom, we are chained. Chained not by not being free, but by worrying too much about freedom.

While pondering on freedom, I cannot but help think of the last two lines from Auden's The Unknown Citizen
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd: 
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

Hmmmmm. So do you think you possess complete freedom or is the question absurd.
Image: Internet

Monday 18 October 2010

I am a lyricist

Sometimes a tune is so beautiful that one can't help but trying to sing that song with our own lyrics. This is a trait mostly seen in kids who just invent their own words to a song they don't know very well. But somehow I don't seem to outgrow that trait. And this can be quite embarrassing at times. But I can't be blamed you see as the lyrics I invent fit in so very well.

Sometimes the singer's voice is not quite clear and the lyrics are misheard. But it so happens with me that I don't mishear the song but think that what I sing is THE right one. Finally one day I get to hear the song and then I realise my mistake. But whatever said and done, the original lyrics never replace my old lyrics.

I thought this problem was unique to me (as I always do) but there are many like me:

* When Bob Dylan first met The Beatles, he told John Lennon he liked that song of theirs where they sing, ‘I get high, I get high’. Lennon embarrassingly pointed out the line was: “I can’t hide, I can’t hide.”

* This song is one of the most misheard songs out there. "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix. The lyric is:
“Scuse me, while I kiss the sky.”
It is often heard as:
“Scuse me, while I kiss this guy.”
“Excuse me, while I zip my fly.”

“Excuse me, while I eat this pie.”

* This is a 1970s song that was often misheard by a lot of different people. The song is "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedance Clearwater Revival. The lyric is:
“There’s a bad moon on the rise."
It is often heard as:
“There’s a bathroom on the right.”
“There’s a baboon on the right.”
“There’s a fat man on your wife.”
“There’s a bad move on the right.”

“There’s a bathroom on the rise.” 

Well, I told you I was not the only one out there who hears wrong lyrics.

And I know for sure that there are many of you who are also budding lyricists. Right?

Misheard lyrics courtesy: Internet
Image courtesy: Internet

Thursday 14 October 2010

Things no one will tell you

There are some situations in life which come to us headlong and we have to tackle it first-hand. For instance, today, someone very close to me bought some eatables with great love but since I did not want to eat, I refused the food item. The person felt quite offended. I did not know how to react or respond to the situation. I felt small. These kind of things are something that no one can explain to us before hand. One has to be in that situation and learn.

Another instance like that is the issue of people (people always confuse us in different ways). There are some individuals whom you like and some you don't. But there is another category: Those whom we don't like or hate. I would call these people, "the ones in the grey area." In life, no one prepares you for the "grey" people. We learn at a very young age about dualities: good and evil; love and hate, etc., but what about those in between. I can never fathom how to deal with the grey areas. I let them be. Rather, let them rest.

Similarly, early in life we also learn that there are some people who are friends and only one person is a lover. But as one advances in age, there are grey areas where the boundary between a friend and a lover always seem hazy and clouded. No one tells you about all these things. We have to figure them out by ourselves. 

Sometimes the whole process of life seems like a journey of trials and errors. We grope, search and wonder about things which we think are strange and confusing. But is it really that way? Or is it the 21st century with all its trappings and pseudo-realities which confound our sensibilities? I am sure that whatever we experience are "twice removed from reality and a shadow of shadows," as quoted by Aristotle. But still we feel that the experience is unique to us! Irony and paradox, thy name is Life!

Well, what do you  have to say on this?

Image: Internet

Tuesday 12 October 2010

"If I had another pair"

Traversing through the different chores of the day many times we wonder: "It would be great if I had another pair of hands." Well, the one pair that I have doesn't receive its due and here I am signing an ode in prose to the hands. Last week as I was roughly scanning a weekly magazine, my eyes fell on a group of athletes who were celebrating their victory. They wore jubilant smiles and stood tall with their laurels. Everything was fine except for their hands: They did not have hands. I was amazed at the tenacity of those young athletes but also wondered about how we take certain things for granted. As a reflex action, I held my hands in front of my eyes. I saw them line by line, finger by finger as if I was a Quality-control Inspector.

I spoke to my hands and rendered a silent gratitude to them. When something is very close to us and made use of almost every second, we seldom realise its importance and worth. I mentally tried making a list of the things that I do with my hand. Ah, I don't think I should list the actions here. Let me give some time to you for making your own list. The list that I had mentally made was mind-boggling. I use my hands for everything.

I wondered about the possibility of showing love without hands. I had to discover new ways to touch. I cannot imagine touching without hands. However good I am with my words, sight or any other expression, I cannot touch someone physically without my hands.

When one loses a part of the body, nature always enables to substitute that particular organ with an intensified another organ. But that is a bit too complex for me to think. I cannot do that. Even for typing this post, I have to use my hands.

And anyone can identify people with their hands: Mothers by their coarse yet loving hands; fathers with their rough and callous hands; friends with their tender and caring hands. One just knows. Sometimes when I am sleeping and someone touches my cheeks, I can (in my sleepy state) recognise the hand by the touch. Marvellous, isn't it?

Why don't we stop to reflect on something that is US invariably? I refrain from saying 'part of me' because I see every part as wholesome which makes me. So every organ is at once a separate as well as a complete being in itself.

Speaking of hands, who can forget the lovely painting "Praying Hands" by Albrecht Durer.

Hands!!! What do you think is the best use of your hands?

Do you actually give them the worth they deserve? Show them some love as you charge through the day.

Image: Internet

Saturday 9 October 2010

Looking at the other side of life

Knowingly or unknowingly we all think of death and how it might come to claim us. Quite natural. But there are some of us who anticipate it every time thus losing out on the present scenario called 'living.' This post was gradually born when I was in the midst of a lecture on British Literature. The resource person is a retired professor of Literature and a charming old man. But I noticed that many times in the course of his lecture, he invariably spoke of death. He told us about a man who travelled with him the day before in train but died due to cardiac arrest this morning. And after that, he remarked: "What if I die the same way today?" While adjusting the microphone's volume, he would say: "What if there is a shock and I die?"

I quite agree that for a man of his age, death is something that constantly niggles the mind but to anticipate it all the time is a bit unnerving. It is a fact that everyone who comes into this world must go, but why waste the precious moments thinking of something that will anyway come.

At this juncture, I would also like to cite another example. There is a man who serves as a gate-keeper in our University. He happened to chat with us a few days ago. He is a man who has retired from the Army. What he told us never left my mind: "The life in Army was wonderful. Even though death was always lurking, it was a great life. Now there is nothing left. Life has become boring." His words stuck me. Imagine always living in the shadow of death! There might be a bomb-blast or a bullet-rain anytime. But that man was very happy. In fact, he even has a bullet wound on his shoulder and left thigh but it has not deterred him. He finds civilian life boring! What a contrast between the old professor and the retired army gate-keeper.

I often think of death and the various things associated with it. In fact I have even imagined my own death with people saying things like: "Even yesterday, she was having coffee with me and talking about D. H Lawrence!" Well, so much so for death.

Let me pause with a lovely poem on death by John Donne:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

So, do you ever think of death? Does it scare you or does it seem like an extension of life in another form? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Poem courtesy: Internet

Wednesday 6 October 2010

do you think you have your landscape in you?

all of us come from a specific region. but sadly even though our roots belong to one place, we are far removed from our roots physically. but inspite of that, one inherently possesses some traits that belong to the place of our roots. for example, whenever i eat, my mom points out that i closely demonstrate the eating patterns of the place from where my father came. sometimes her comment quite irritates me but it is something that i cannot change. the same can be said about the way i argue: another trait of people from a specific place!

it is quite interesting as to how we possess traits of our ancestors even without us consciously realising it. it can be called 'genes' but i prefer to see those traits as the cultural habit of my landscape: the place where my roots lie. what makes it more interesting is the fact that inspite of having no much connection with the place of my roots, i have traits that are common to that place!

i have heard some people saying, "the sea in me makes me crave for fish and crab." probably that person might just use the above line as an expression but digging into that person's roots might point out to the fact that that person is indeed from the coastal region. when one pins down oneself to one place, one ceases to be a citizen of the world. while the term 'citizen of the world' sounds quite grand and cool, it seems quite generic and all-encompassing. and this is too grand for me to think!

long ago, i read a novel and something from that struck within my mind. the protagonist says something like this: Long ago we could identify people by the shoes they wore. But now everything is uniform. Everyone wears the same Nike shoes and trainers.

so, what landscape do you belong to and what trait reaffirms that? your grandma would have told you something about that trait!

image: internet

Sunday 3 October 2010

Tongue in cheek?? Nah!

Sometimes when one is not in control of food that is available for consumption, the realisation that the tongue has a separate personality comes into being. In Tamil, people use the phrase "My tongue is dead" to refer to ill-treatment of the tongue by the quality of food; The food that is served is so bad that it has caused the death of the tongue's ability to taste (metaphorically of course). Well, one comes to know about the tongue only when an individual is in a situation where the food has to be eaten for the sake of survival and not for taste.

But a person who loves food not only for survival's sake but also for the food's smell, taste and texture will surely find his/her mettle tested when forced into a place where the food is not exactly to one's taste. And this is what I found out when I recently shifted from home to another place. Eating the same food everyday for breakfasts and lunches has rendered the tongue quite 'dead.' More than the actual food, the predictability makes the tongue suffer.

Maybe as an individual, I can pacify myself by saying that food eaten is only for survival but alas! my tongue does not think so. The tongue demands that it be served tasty food at least once a while, if not everyday. There have been days when the tongue refuses to be satisfied. It is almost as if the tongue will go on strike if the food does not scale to its taste. I am rendered powerless in controlling the tongue and in turn the reverse happens.

How often I think that certain organs of the body function independently! The tongue is the most notorious for functioning like that. It demands, coaxes, pleads and curses if the food is not to its standards. I cannot control that teeny-weeny muscle. People talk about controlling the tongue when it comes to speech. But speech and food, I reckon, is the domain of that wee muscle.

Now if I start about the heart controlling the human existence, I can go on and on. Let me pause.

Do you think that your tongue controls you when it comes to food? Do you feel tamed by its demands and tastes? What is food to you: taste, means of survival or just another mundane activity?

Image: Internet

Friday 1 October 2010

Losing a bit of Myself and gaining a bit of Me

Every year, apart from the New-Years, there is day which pleasantly reminds one of the year that has passed by. I am referring to birthdays. It is a time of the year where one can reflect, ponder and hope about an assortment of things. Birthdays not only mean years or passage of time, it is an occasion to check our growth and our shortcomings as well.

As the clock strikes 12. 00, I love to look back at the year that has just ended. I wonder at the times when I was down at the dumps but still managed to get up and move on; laugh at the stupidities that were knowingly or unknowingly committed by me; shed tears at apparent loss of certain vital things; recollecting the new things that happened to me in the bygone year and be grateful for every single day of the previous year.

Sometimes I just can't help crying while thinking about the joy of being alive and happy. It is sad when one observes the world around with its face that is scarred with gloom, despair, inhuman conditions and sickness. Entering into a new year is truly something special and fortunate.

In the process of growing older, one also leaves a bit of something that no longer seems to complement the self. But at the same time, one gains common sense, wisdom and practical knowledge by the experience of the passing years.

In a previous post a few months ago, I had pondered on the changing faces of birthdays as the years increase and this post is an addition to those thoughts. After all I love to meander and reflect on things over and over!

Birthdays are to be taken with the sagacious advice of Mr. Browning: "Grow old with me, the best is yet to be."

So, how do you see birthdays? Happy to grow older and wiser??

Image: Internet


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