Wednesday, 28 March 2012

When the favourite commenter goes missing

An invisible bond is forged between a blogger and her/his commenter. When a commenter consistently comments on successive posts and is passionalte about writing what she/he feels after reading a post, there is an organic thread that unites thoughts and observations of the blogger and commenter. From the time I began my journey as a blogger, there have been many such commenters who have forged a strong connectivity with me through my posts.

But the fact is that every commenter has his/her own time in a blog. Some are there for a year, some for six months, some on and off and some only for a month or so. Whatever the duration, after commenting regularly for about a month or so, I unconsciously start looking forward to that regular commenter. It somehow seems my post is incomplete without that commenter's comment on my post. During the initial years of my blogging, I tended to crave . . . literally crave for the regular commenter's comments. I would even get a bit restless if I found that the regular commenter hasn't commented. I wait patiently till the commenter comes along and only after that I would proceed to do another post. I am still like that but have toned down immsensely.

I guess the regular commenter is not the one who just passes by leaving a mundane, 'good post' comment. The regular commenters who I wait for are the ones who comment with their soul. They are passionate about what they feel and their comments reverbrate that intensity. Such commenters also make me raise my standards of commenting. I should say that a comment is definitely something that lights one up and gives a purpose for blogging.

All seems fine until  the day the regular commenter stops commenting. I just cannot imagine why the commenter stops visiting. The reasons for the commenter to leave are many. This is the time when I say to myself: Don't get emotional over commenters. But why shouldn't I? I am emotionally connected to my blog and why not to the readers/commenters? But experience tells me that commenters come and go and I should not get touchy with the commenting part of blogging. The bond that I develop with the regular and intelligent commenter sometimes even goes beyond the space of blogging. I have exchanged emails, chats and stories with those commenters.

Now, this post is a tribute to all those regular commenters who were an active part of my blog in the timeline of my blogging. I miss them and continue to think of them when I write my soulful posts and also when I write soulfully. In the present time, I raise a toast to my present bunch of regular commenters . . . I shall enjoy your presence and comments till it lasts.

Image: Internet

Friday, 23 March 2012

Wishful thinking while listening to The Beatles

I know that many of you would have had a fleeting thought like me: I should have been born twenty years ago than the year I was actually born. I was born in 1979 and very often I have entertained thoughts that I should have been born maybe in the 50s or 60s. Not that I am unhappy with my present year of birth but I feel that the 50s and 60s had wonderful music, philosophy, art, ideas among many other splendid things. Music especially from those years still remains in the minds while the tunes of today are forgotten easily.  Many theoriticians are from the 50s and 60s - people who passionately discussed different aspects of cultures, language, society and so on. There were many political turmoils which gave way to many active groups and writers.

In spite of having the best of technology and greater creative license, there are not many fascinating things happening in this time-period. I often think of how it would have been if I was living when The Beatles had emerged. Many of my professors talk about their times and the different schools of thought to which they were exposed to. Though the internet has made it easy for us to look up information on any topic, it has also diluted many things. I find that many of my contemporaries (even me, at times) are sufficient if to get a bit of information and then pretend that one has exhaustively researched on a particular topic. I find that I know a bit of everything at a very superficial level. Now one can argue that there are people who revel in shallow knowledge in every time-period but I would like to say that the percentage of such people in today's world is of a higher degree.

Talking of the internet and other social media, I also find that life would've been less complicated then than now. People had a lot of time to pursue different activities unlike today where the internet has sucked away a greater chunk of time and energy. Many problems that the world is facing today was unheard of those days and people seemed to have enjoyed a purer state of food, air and water.

All said and done, I should admit that these thoughts and more always make me more aware of my present day and year. The thoughts leave me with nostalgia for something I haven't known or experienced but can only imagine. Those from the 50s and 60s, I am jealous of you and the times you had experienced then. 

Do you think like me sometimes? Do you wish that you had been born some time earlier or you wish that you hadn't been born at all?

Before I sign off, here's one of my favourite songs, Yesterday from The Beatles:

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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The legitimacy of an ambition

What is ambition? Why do many of us bombard young minds with the highly improbable question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Are we (read slightly older individuals than the kids) trying to make idle conversation with the young one who happen to be either a friend's son/daughter, a niece or a nephew. I have seen it many times and cringe at that question. Some smart kid who has been fed well by the parents, repeats like a parakeet,

I want to become a doctor, 

I want to become a scientist, 

I want to become an Engineer,

I want to become a  . . a  . . . a (the uncle/aunty/akka/anna/cousin who asks the question is bored and the poor kid is dismissed).

Some parents are quite happy to answer the question: I always wanted to be a doctor but somehow it didn't happen and so I am determined to make my son/daughter a doctor.

What makes an ambition? Does everyone need to have an ambition? How do we determine what we will become after say, ten years. Now wait, don't get me wrong. I am not saying that one should not have any motivation for the future, but thinking of a profession when one is three or four seems ridiculous. Don't we all change from time to time? How can a young kid dream of something of which he/she does not even know. Does the child know that being a doctor involves blood, extreme patience, kindness and long working hours or the glowing Engineer has to struggle. Well, how can ambitions be formed without having an inkling of what the profession is.

I remember as a kid I was proud to say I want to become a doctor and when I saw everyone's smiles and nods, I was quite sure that I had said something which is absolutely wonderful. Well, at this given moment, I want to run a restaurant and cook delicious food, in spite of being a teacher!!

Growing up with an ambition actually restricts an individual immensely. One is closed to the other probable possibilities that would have actually suited the individual best. If not for ambition, there would be no books and sites which scream: Turn what you like doing best into your profession. The advise comes at a point when one is too lazy to switch over into something new.

Well, what if a child says, My ambition is to be.

Are you doing something which you like or are you caught in the profession of your childhood ambition but regretting it.

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Gibson, Indonesia and Billy Kwan

Last evening, after tea, amidst intermittent power-cuts, I saw the 1982 film, The Year of Living Dangerously. First, I hadn't seen any old films of Mel Gibson and was completely mesmerised by his appearance. He is definitely handsome! Not only handsome but unidentifiable from the Gibson I know of in Braveheart. Though I felt that the real hero of the film was the dwarf, Billy Kwan, Gibson's local photographer contact in Jakarta, Indonesia, I couldn' stop drooling at Gibson. And Sigourney Weaver as a young and beautiful woman is quite different from Grace Augustine in the 2009 film, Avatar.

Set in poverty-stricken Jakarta, the film raises many issues that any thinking individual would encounter while looking at people who live in slums and despair. The Western arrogance and superiority toward third world countries; prostitution to escape hunger; clash between the left and the right -- are some of the issues that the director Peter Weir had brilliantly handled. Billy is a friend and photographer who accompanies Gibson on his assignments, is a philosophical and intelligent character. His diction, observations and comments are something that make the film a wholesome one. Billy comes across as a person who identifies the human weakenesses and strengths which help him analyse a person and thus enables the viewer to see the character as well.

The story, for most part, is shown through the eyes of Billy. And when Billy dies nearing the final part of the film, I couldn't help shedding tears. I wondered what moved me to tears: Was it Billy himself or the principles that he stood for or the betrayal that he faced from his beloved leader, Sukarno or the brutal way in which he was murdered. Maybe everything.

It was indeed wonderful to watch the younger Mel Gibson and the actress, Linda Hunt as Billy Kwan. Watch this film if you haven't still and you will find yourself thinking about Billy Kwan long after the film is over.

So, have you seen this 1982 Gibson starrer? How do you think the third world is portrayed in Hollywood? 

Image: Internet 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Laying aside the mantle of a 'superwoman'

When the word 'super' is prefixed to any word, the word assumes a greater importance. For example, the word, 'woman' is nothing special but the word, 'superwoman' makes a great deal of difference. Doesn't it? Even words like 'superspeciality,' 'supermom' and the like take on a completely different meaning. And, if one could stress that 'super' in 'superwoman,' nothing like that!

Well, two days ago, I was quite tired of my role as a 'superwoman' that I decided to take a break. Ask me how? I am now the proud mistress of a domestic help. I give instructions and she carefully follows them. I cannot tell you how empowered I feel by having someone to do my work. To hell with the superwoman, I said and employed a help. So the title of 'superwoman' is at rest.

A few months ago, I was frantically searching for someone who could help me out with the quotidian chores of our home. I could not find any. Our neighbours, who are very kind and considerate suggested that doing house-work would actually help me to work out a little. A wonderful suggestion. And, in any case I had to lose weight so why not try two mangoes with one stone: housework done and weight gone. Hence, grudgingly I became a superwoman!!! I worked at home and also outside home. I must confess that I enjoyed the attention and warm smiles of acknowledgement when people asked me: Do you have someone to help you at home? And when I replied, 'No,' I could sense people thinking, "Wow! She does not look like the working types. She wears lispstick and dresses up well. She actually washes dishes and clothes at home!!!?!?!?" I was a superwoman multitasking various jobs and actually performing them well.

I didn't much enjoy being a superwoman

Ah, I don't need to work out by washing, cleaning and moping. I enjoy cooking and will be happy to do only that. The role of a 'superwoman' lost its charm on me. I employed a lovely woman to assist me and now the title is gone, the work is gone and I am just a woman who enjoys her work, loves to cook (experiment as well) and give instructions to M (the woman who helps me).

Sometimes being a 'normal' woman is what matters. The prefix 'super' is not sought by me to validate my status quo.

Well, are you a superwoman at work or just a woman who enjoys her cuppa tea and idleness. If you are a man, what does 'superwoman' mean to you?

Image: Internet

Monday, 5 March 2012

Hollywood's obsession with bachelor teachers' films

Out of the many teacher films that I have seen thus far, nine out of ten are about bachelor teachers who are always inspiring and encouraging teachers. I overlooked this pattern until I saw Cameron Diaz' Bad Teacher and realised that this movie had a woman teacher but she was afterall a bad teacher. The question that kept popping in my mind was: Why can't a teacher be a happily married woman or for that matter even a happily married man. While writing this, I have in mind the film, Freedom Writers where for a change, the teacher was a woman but she also undergoes a divorce because her husband could not handle the pressures that his wife carried as a teacher. Well, then the only solution that saves relationship problems is to be a bachelor teacher.

The archetype of the bachelor teacher has not found places only in films, even in many schools and Universities, we find such teachers. The teachers are always there for the students - solving problems, playing basket-ball, taking students to visit museums and other stuff. The teacher has nil personal life and is always there to give inspirational and motivating speeches to the students. This raises many questions for me: Can only a teacher with no strings attached (read family, relationship, etc.) be a 'good' teacher. Does a teacher have no right to a personal life? If at all a teacher (Hillary Swank in Freedom Writers) is happily married at the time of her employment, her marriage falls apart as her husband possesses a fragile ego. Why can't the audience digest a happily married woman teacher. Let me try to answer that question. A bachelor teacher by devoting all his time for the students sets a standard of 'being there' always for the students. But a female teacher by virtue of her being married cannot spend as much time as she has to cook, clean and wash for the family. She cannot do what the bachelor teacher does.

Hollywood, by making films which exalts the bachelor teacher tradition, sets a certain standard for teachers of both sexes. Once, I remember, after seeing the 2000 Kevin Spacey starring film, Pay it Forward, one student asked me, "Susie why don't you do things like him?" I was horrified. I was at a loss for words as I couldn't explain to him that in a film anything is possible. I was also horrifed because in spite of taking a lot of effort for the students of that particular class to which the boy belonged, I was faced with a lame question like that.

Meryl Streep's Music of the Heart is another delightful film but then she is a single woman who begins to teach music to rebuild her life. What is the equation between being single and being a teacher. Maybe it's TIME and more TIME for the students.

 So, what's your opinion of a 'good' teacher or a bachelor teacher.

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet
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