Saturday 31 December 2011

Looking forward to 2012

This year has been quite eventful in every sphere of my life, I should say. For the first time in my life, I got chicken-pox; After years of toiling, I submitted my Ph.D thesis and I also willingly gave up my single-hood. Well, the aforementioned were the highlights, if I may say so but there there have been other aspects of the year which gave life a wholesome effect. Blogplicity, an interactive blogging community gave me lovely blogger pals and their blogs, this year.

Looking back, I am older than last year and younger than what I will be next year but that has not hindered any process and progress, of course, I have changed my moisturizers and lotions. I have lost touch with people with whom I used to correspond and interact when 2011 began. I do miss them but then life had other paths which were already carved out, for me and them. They will always be on my mind and I wish them good health, prosperity, wholesome life and above all joy in every sphere of their lives.

Learned to compromise in a big way and also learnt that compromise is the only way in which life can go on without much breakdowns. Well, I don't like that word now. It irks me: COMPROMISE.

Reading the variety of blogs that are littered over blogland, I realise how much topics are out there and how much is left to explore. I must say that 2011 has been a boom time for many blogs. Well, well,  . . .

For the first time, I was stranded in a train while the cyclone Thane passed. When I read of the many deaths and destruction caused by the cyclone in today's paper, I realise the intensity of the situation.

I don't know whether I have become wiser this year but I know for sure that life is full of surprises (perhaps, shocks) and those arrive at a time when one least expects them. And that the phrase, 'I have moved on,' and 'Move on with life' is quite overrated. Even some institutions which have been held dear by many are quite overrated. Well, some people don't realise that truth. Good for them. A little funny for people on the other side, like me, for instance.

The world has lost many artists that have coloured my growing up years. Though their deaths didn't affect me personally, I do miss their presence in this world. That they lived in the same world as me gave me solace. But now they are no more. Maybe good for them to have escaped this life.

Inspite of everything, the new year holds promises and new beginnings and I look forward to it with the same child-like pleasure of my early years. The new year does have something, isn't it. William Arthur Ward is just right when he said:

“Another fresh new year is here .
. .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!” 

Image: Internet

Monday 19 December 2011

Wishes for the season

Dear Readers:

It has been wonderful to interact with you in the past eleven months. I will be away for about ten days now and shall see you just before the year comes to an end. But before I leave, I leave you with best wishes for this lovely season. 

Image: Internet

Saturday 17 December 2011

Moths and related thoughts

When the day slowly fades and dusk appears, many moths make an appearance in my home. These moths are dull looking creatures which sometimes irk me and sometimes don't make any difference to me. Yesterday, a dead one was lying on my kitchen floor and while I was looking at it intently, my thoughts meandered to many things related to moths, one of them being the film The Silence of the Lambs (TSOTL). And, TSOTL is always Hopkins, Hopkins and Hopkins. I remember when I first saw the film, I was smitten by the personality of Sir Anthony Hopkins. His suave dialogue delivery, his intelligent observations, his philosophical demeanour, his love of fine food and the way he responds to Clarice saying, "Good Evening, Clarice." I wondered if any man could be as polished and splendid as Hopkins. I would weave imaginary dialogues with Hannibal and enjoy the witty repartee.

Whenever anyone mentioned TSOTL, I would rattle off about the excellent dialogues of Hopkins, often to amused looks by the listeners as Hopkins was a cannibal in the film TSOTL. Many times I have observed that people tend to look only at one aspect of the character in question. Hannibal, being a man-eater, blinded people to other facets of his character. Inspite of being appalled by the manner Hannibal eats human brain in one of the films, his character in the film and the two sequels, have never ceased to enthrall me.

Anthony Hopkins' signature on a photograph of a still from the film,  The Silence of the Lambs

I don't know how many have watched the film TSOTL and reveled in the finer aspects of the film like the dialogues and the way the mind works. I have watched the film several times now and time and again, I seem to enjoy watching just the dialogues between Hopkins and Foster. I like films which have cerebral dialogues delivered flawlessly and smoothly. I don't remember any other character as well as I do this one.

As for the moth, I swept the place clean and returned to my thought of Hopkins. Now, if you haven't seen the film, you might wonder about the connection between the film and the moth. I guess, you have to find that out by either watching the film or reading about the same in Wikipedia.

When one thought leads to another and another, one can get quite comfortable and rooted to a place, say the couch or the bed. After all the thoughts are done, time seems to have gone by effortlessly. Reality strikes hard and seems dull like the colour of the moth. One cannot have imaginary dialogues with Hopkins forever.

So, what are your thoughts after reading this post.

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet
Image 3: Internet

Thursday 15 December 2011

Meandering on my calling

For a long time now, this thought and related thoughts have been filling my mindscape and I haven't been able to arrive at any conclusion. Teaching is a noble profession. It is indeed . . . until I began officially teaching at a University. Now, this is ambition and calling for me. I had always imagined that if one has likes to do something and pursues the same, it will be fulfilling, wonderful and all that jazz. But nurturing an ambition and actually pursuing it are two different paths. Hope you get what I mean. I had assumed that since I like being with young adults and also liked literature, teaching would be the ideal occupation, if I may say so. Well, the whole world also thinks that way. And, teachers are always looked upon by almost everyone. This rosy bubble coupled along with my desire made me a teacher. I have also shared many tales of my occupation as a teacher in this blog, which many of you have read and commented.

But somewhere down the line, I realise that possessing a love for something alone does not keep you going. The practicalities of the real situation sometimes wriggle the initial enthusiasm and drain it drip by drip. I had always presumed that the industry of education is quite a sane place. Time and again, I have been proved wrong. Back-stabbing fellow teachers, cut-throat competition for popularity, messing up marks in favour of a favourite student, and many more tales fill the education industry. Now, when I think back, I seem like a fool who thought that all was fair in the world of teachers and students. I wonder about my calling. But mind you, leaving a job which pays a salary at the end of the month, is not easy. When lovely quotes which says, If you don't like your job, QUIT, I wonder. I wonder whether it is as easy as the quote makes it out to be.

Another thought that niggles me while on this profession is drawing the line between being emotional and professional. I always tend to relate at a personal level with most of my students. I laugh when they are happy, pat when they are down in the dumps, nod when they walk with their love interest and advice when they want me to. But this attachment always sends wrong signals to the students. They tend to assume that if I am close to them, then that will earn them more marks. But I just cannot give marks freely. I give them the marks they deserve and that strains the relationship. The student assumes that I have two sides to me: the friendly one and the that of a strict teacher. And, off she/he goes about telling everyone how I gave him/her very low marks. Phew!! What do I do?

Only this job gives you two months holidays and you can come home early, blah, blah. Well, I do accept that fact but in the term days, the amount of pressure and stress that is loaded on the individual is enormous. The students' faces always clears many a cloud and gloom - Well, I accept that as well but how long? Sometimes, I think that it is quite early to arrive at such thoughts as this post carries. I have been teaching here only for a year and before this I was in a dreamy residential school called Rishi Valley, which I blame for my higher standards of expectation.

I also understand that wherever humans are present, there is bound to be jealousy, competition et al, but then enlightened souls in the education department ought to be different from the others (so I thought/still think).

Sighs. Such a long post. Tell me, what do you think.

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Wednesday 14 December 2011

I cook, I click, I post . . .

The recent avalanche of food blogs, pictures of food on Facebook and the delight in exclaiming, "I love to cook" has had me thinking. Decades ago, feminists outcried against the fact that cooking and kitchen were the rightful place for women and during those times, women tried liberating themselves from the kitchen and other labels. But now the woman of today has risen up to the fact that cooking is a skill which she wields quite efficiently. Displaying the various items cooked on social networking sites, lay claim to the attention that she needsfor her rightful skills.

But has this phenomenon reduced woman again to the confines of her kitchen? But if she is enjoying the glory, what is the problem? And, I am also wondering if the media with its glossy cookery shows and glamorous chefs has again pushed the women to the same old place albeit a bit classy in the present day.

All said and done, I enjoy cooking as well as eating but have still not ventured into posting pictures of the food I eat everyday. Perhaps, I will never do it. Why should my private table be set in front of the whole world? Is it to prove that in spite of being a working woman, one can cook delicious stuff by effectively managing time or is it to prove to the world that exotic dishes is not the privelege of a select few or why should Nigella Lawson get all the drools and wows. Well, the whole idea of exhibiting food at social networking sites shouts out to the fact that cooking has once again become something that one should feel proud of.

Though unproven, it is for a fact that the kitchen is the brewing place of many a quarrels between the women of the house, that of the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law reigning supreme amongst the others. And as it has been oft said, 'The way to a man's heart is through the stomach,' it is no doubt that food and exhibiting food is a fashion statement in the present times and for now, it is to stay.

I forgot to mention, the word 'food porn' which is in vogue these days has me in splits!!! Who thought porn would venture into the world of food (chuckles).

Eat well. Stay smiling. What say, dear readers.

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Sunday 11 December 2011

Stifled between cultures and world views

Growing up in the eighties without a television-set and certain other gadgets, life seemed to be very simple and devoid of the layers that now come to possess me. Long time ago, I wrote a post on how dualisms suffocate me and meandered on my identity which seemed to cris-cross several identities. I feel children growing up in today's world will face the nagging problem of being stifled between cultures and world views. And, it's not only children but many individuals like me who are faced with this dilemma. Let me explain.

Being born in India, there is a specific culture and value system which is present inherently within us. With the onslaught of globalisation and different cultural perspectives of the so-called West, one faces a crisis when it comes to adhering one's own culture as well as accommodating into the Western culture. I cannot draw a line of demarcation between cultures but there are some characteristics that are quintessentially Indian. One glaring example of this is the concept of 'space.' Years ago (atleast from the conversations I heard), there was nothing like, "My personal space" but now this phrase has become a predominant part of every second conversation. Perhaps that's why there is a conflict between the joint-family system and the nuclear one. Personal freedom is being underlined in red by every single individual but this was somehow not given much importance before. I cannot say whether it was good or bad. Somehow, it seems to me that India always put others first and then the self. The seeping of Western media, ideas and MNCs into our psyche has blurred the ideals and values that our culture possessed. Now, I don't mean to be parochial but this is a hard fact that one has to come into terms with.

In turn, the West is now turning to Yoga, spirituality and other quintessential Eastern systems for values and other gratifications while we, on the other hand are swinging between two extremes of the East and the West. Sometimes being caught between these two world views makes one hazy and nauseous. As someone, I don't recollect who, remarked that in today's world, religions, cultures and other systems are placed in the global supermarket and it is up to us to choose whatever we want and follow the same. But why choose something when we have something quite invaluable? Perhaps, it is another dimension of the global to embrace many cultures and practices. Well, I wonder. I, for one, cannot see the world as home!

This post was quite an existential rant, if I may call it so. If you make any sense out of this, please do share your views.

Image: Internet

Wednesday 7 December 2011

"You belong to the throwaway generation"

A few weeks ago, when one of my senior colleagues opened his lunch-box, he remarked: "Susan, I've been using this box for the past thirty years. My wife used this lunch-box when she was at school and then I used this when I was teaching at Madras and now here it is." I wondered about the years and the stories that the lunch-box carried. I asked, "Sir, didn't it occur to you to change the box?" He replied, "It was good so why change it?" Overhearing this conversation, another colleague remarked: "You belong to the throwaway generation. We are the keepers." Now, this comment unsettled me. "Do I belong to the throwaway generation?"

I have seen my relatives keep many things that belonged to their ancestors. I never imagined that it had to do with the generation. Forgive me, but America's sociologists like labelling each generation. For example, The Baby Boomers, The Rock-n-Roll, and so on. I have also seen documentaries which mention that the manufacturing houses don't make products that are intended for long-time usage in today's world. Throwaway products rule the roost. Looking around, I find that most products are intended so. But the throwaway tag directed at me, was disturbing. I don't mean to deny that sweeping generalised statement of the generation, but there are exceptions.

There are many references to clearing away clutter from our houses. And if one observes, the objects that add to the clutter are those which are kept for the sake of sentiment. And, after a period of time, the objects add pride to the owner. It is not without a feeling of pride that one remarks: "You know, my great grandmother used this towel/bed/fork/spoon/napkin/knife . . . and so on." Well, I respect sentiments and if the object is in usable condition, there is no need to do away with the same. Now gradually, I am sounding like one who is the rightful member of the throwaway generation. I find that keeping things that one does not use is absolutely unnecessary. Maybe, I don't know where to draw the line.

This discussion here, brings to my memory a few lines from Pamela Redmond Satran's quote, "Every woman should have."

a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family…

Going by the quote, I realise that sometimes having objects owned by others carry the negative energies and failures of the previous owners. So why not possess new goods when one moves into a new home and life? Do I still seem to belong to the throwaway generation? Maybe, I cannot deny that fact. But I do confess to having keepsakes which I cannot part with easily.

So, what do you have to say on this topic.

Images: Internet

Thursday 1 December 2011

By any chance, are water and creativity connected?

Maybe it is just another of the many coincidences, but I am beginning to think that there is some mysterious connection between water and creativity.

Let me explain: Three places that drive my mind to uncountable thoughts: potty, sea-shore and bathroom. If you ask me what is the common denominator present in all the three places - Yes, it is water! Water is present in the potty, sea-shore and the bathroom.

Of course, being alone in a place forces oneself to concentrate on one's thoughts and hence the creativity puzzle is partially solved. But in the sea-shore?!?!? Even when I am with friends and family, thoughts just gush within and I'm forced to give in. I think it's the influence of water. Now as I am writing this post, another thought just crossed by. Yes, the water present in alocohol. When one is under the influence of alcohol, one gets quite creative and imaginary. Well, now that is another line of thought.

Coming back to water and creativity. This post was born out of two potty sessions and developed while at the shower. You see why I am growing stronger into believing that water and creativity are connected.

Well, what is your take on this? Maybe it is the same for you as well.

Image: Internet


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