Tuesday 23 July 2013

Inter-state weddings and monolingual children of urban India

Language is a beautiful connector of two individuals and so is marriage but then both have their pitfalls especially if two individuals belong to different language-speaking communities. National integration is something of a national joke these days that people resort to whenever they speak of India and her remarkability to people who don't belong to India. But the scenario in India is completely different with a trillion castes and a million languages. And then, there is a boy who falls in love with a girl from a different language group and community. They say that everything is fair in love and war and yes, everything is fair until marriage happens. Even a few years after the great M, everything is fair until a child arrives and hastily juggles all the neatly arranged pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.

Yes, the child forces many unsought questions and niggles the peace of mind. What will the poor parents do? After all while courting, children were a hazy dream of delight who were in the distant horizon but in the present the bundles of delight bring with them some vital questions - What will be the language of communication if the parents belong to two different language systems? Is the mother-tongue always the tongue of the mother that the child will adapt to or a language that the child picks up without much ado? Then enters the great coloniser into the picture - ENGLISH. Well, the parents find it easier to talk to the kid in English, after all English is a global language and the language of communication so why not. Lullabys are sung in English, sweet nothings are cooed in English and eventually the child picks up only English. The rich and diverse regional tongues of the father and mother are gradually forgotten and remains as a hazy memory. But not all children/ parents are so. I don't know how they do it but they systematically see that the child learns both the languages.

As much as I like English and the nuances of this coloniser's tongue, I shudder to think of my unborn children and their tongue. What language will they speak? Will they speak my language or my husband's? Will they love their parents in the regional or in the foreign tongue. Ah, no matter what, English is still a foreign language and we aren't native speakers even if we master the language. As I write this, I also think of my own predicament. Both my parents spoke the same language but since I grew up in a place which was not my state, I can hardly write or read my own language. While in school, it gave me great pride to say that I knew only English but now I feel quite uneasy to admit that I can only speak my language and not read or write. And I even think in a foreign tongue! But today being the 21st century, it does not pose much of a problem but when I increasingly listen to only English, I wonder whether we are gradually becoming a country with a homogenous language system. We like to be seen in Starbucks, KFCs and Macs speaking a language not our own and swearing in cuss words that belong to another country.

Everything is fair in love and war, they say. I don't agree. What do you think?

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Thursday 18 July 2013

A post on a comment

It's one of those days when you are randomly checking Facebook, you see a comment, not on Facebook but your blog that someone was having coffee in another part of the world and that they were talking about you. A wee mom and her sweet son, who also happens to be a blogger buddy are sitting in a corner Cafe in Philippines and of all things, they are talking about me and my blog. The feeling is beyond priceless.

I think of all the odd times that we cross people's minds - Space and time inconsequential. That's how it happens when one starts blogging and posting. At different times we are thought of with fondness, I'd like to think that way. I also wonder how the image of my posts translate in their minds. What if they don't know my face - will they imagine me through my words or my posts' titles. What are the building blocks of me in their minds. I value those thoughts. That a blogger friend and his sweet mom were talking of me was communicated to me but there are many others who don't say it but still smile and think. A stray naughty comment here and a deep insightful comment there - How am I perceived? As a naughty one or as a thoughtful one. Perhaps a blend or perhaps a delirious mixture that is difficult to digest. But then do we digest all those images of words that form a personality. We sip. We take in the taste. And then forget until we find a part of that taste in ourselves.

Sometimes I think of all the blogs that I visit and wonder how much of it I sip and how much of it I savour. Do I savour all that I taste and sip or do I just sip and find the taste unpalatable. Even when I say 'unpalatable,' I remember that it was unpalatable - the bitterness is also a memory. I recently read on one of those random Facebook posters that gets circulated - "We don't miss people, we only miss the memories of time spent with people." Well, I wondered how can we miss memories without thinking of the people! The memory of the touch is as good as the touch itself. Maybe I'm just writing things on a whim. Once in a while I like doing that - moving in disconnected tangents.

When I see a fiddle/violin, I don't have to coerce myself - my thoughts on the symbol of a violin is Steve who blogs at The Fourth Dimension. His comments always make me smile and happy. I haven't met him but I know that when he comments, he thinks of me and my peace. And travel always makes me think of that blogger who was discussing me with his lovely mom. AJ Poliquit's tales of travel in The Transcendental Tourist always amaze me and leaves me with a strong yearning to back my bags which, of course, I cannot do at a very short notice! And the word Mohican and word play always stands for Brian Miller and his WayStationOne.

I firmly like to believe that these fond thoughts of me that cross in your mind at different times of the day/month/year give me a shield of well-being and happiness. And likewise you cross my mind as well. Next time, you feel a sense of being watched, you crossed my mind.

So, did I cross your mind today? Well, you did!

Image 1 and 2: Internet

Sunday 14 July 2013

When nostalgia gets a tad boring

I often wonder how long can one get nostalgic over and over the same bit that happened some time ago in our lives. Won't the nostalgia stop? Will one nostalgia replace another? Will we stop getting nostalgic after we have exhausted the emotion so much like the cassette that finally wears out due to overuse.

This is a fairly recent happening and I find it pretty amusing. I think about a beautiful memory and find that I keep returning to it every single day and by the time I've thought about it for some time now that I feel tired to think of it anymore. Succeeding that 'boring nostalgia' phase is an aversion to that memory. It is then I realise that overdoing nostalgia also gets boring. But isn't nostalgia something sweet and beautiful. Maybe when it strikes once a while to refresh the bygone years and moments but feelings of longing that strike very often lose their appeal over time. Well, the etymology of nostalgia is from the word, 'nostos' meaning homecoming. Now, I guess that during the time the word was coined, it was meant for someone who was away from home and was longing for home - the physical home and the emotional security that is often associated with the home. But now the word has evolved and comes to mean memory and longing for something that was once part of our lives, not necessarily the home itself. That's what I love about words - they evolve, wrapping in the mood and the times and mould according to the context. They change but still retain their spirit.

Coming back to nostalgia, I wonder how long will something remain so precious and lovely that each time we are filled with yearning, we feel nostalgia. I guess even nostalgia changes, rather it evolves to something else before going through a few steps: Initially the memory is beautiful and comes to our mind when we yearn for the past. Then we start clinging so much to that specific memory that nostalgia becomes the norm each day. Finally we are done looking at that memory from a trillion angles that we have explored every fine fabric of that particular memory. Then we break forth and no longer relish that memory. The nostalgia of that memory gets boring and we don't feel like returning to that for quite some time. Perhaps after a long time, the cycle will begin again.

Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps.

Dear reader what do you have to say on this?

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Wednesday 10 July 2013

A morning walk

What about a morning walk, you ask. Does it even require a post. Ah, yes. You are right. These days morning walks have become the norm for many people from diverse age groups. Then what is this - A post on morning walk! Well, for starters, I was a regular morning walk person until . . . marriage consumed me! Well, marriage actually did not consume me the way excuses and 'let it bes' consumed me. Today after a very long time, I ventured to do something that I have always liked doing - going for a morning walk.

Today's walk was different and special in many ways: My grandfather and I always enjoyed brisk walks and by the time we came home, we would be drenched in sweat and wonderful stories. He passed on last week and today's walk reminded me of him and the lovely times. I missed him.

Those days (read before marriage), after my morning walk, I could come home, log on to the internet after my morning duties and wait for breakfast to be served. Well, now I don't have such luxury. I have to think and also prepare my own breakfast. This reminds me fondly of my mom whose delicious breakfasts are not a great match with those of mine. I'm not that bad but I'm not that good as well.

After a long time, I felt the cool breeze of the morning brush past me and saw birds of different hues seated neatly on the telephone wires. The green after the rain was a soothing gift to my eyes and if a bit more overwhelmed, I would have danced on the road while walking.

So many things change within and around us and something as a morning walk can remind us of all those memories. Sometimes the very thought that everyone else is asleep but you are outside enjoying the early morning gives a certain vicarious pleasure (So much so, there is even a teeny-weeny voice which calls others 'lazy'). The thought empowers. Hence, a walk is not just a walk. It is many things. It's beauty, it's memories, it's joy, it's love, it's a smile and a dance. But will this be the case every single day? I can't vouch for that. If it is, there's nothing like that but if it's not, then it's upto us to invigorate our walk.

The bottom line is: Keep walking for you never know what each walk will give you.

Leaving you with a song from Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR): Have you ever seen the rain?

Images: Blogger's own

Monday 8 July 2013

Wishy-washy optimisim

Recently after seeing a video on The Upworthiest, I started weighing my intentions related to positive thinking and being optimistic. The cleverly made video dismissed positive thinking and optimism as delusional and wishy-washy. Of course, the video's message attacks a greater source but I would like to dwell on the positive as delusional aspect. Well, being a torch-bearer for positive thoughts, the video rattled my nerves and I wondered whether it was actually delusional to be optimistic or am I genuinely trying to hope against hope. I, of course understand that being positive and optimistic alone would not solve the crises but it does alleviate the situation. Now if I'm not optimistic, what is the other choice I have - Being negative and brooding which I definitely don't want to do. If there is a choice between worrying and hoping, no prizes for guessing my choice.

But the video also made me think on another level: According to the video, having a smile and being positive is America's way of dealing with things in a very shallow level and people who spread the message of optimism were depicted as clowns who were just moving around despondent and brooding people. The caricature was disturbing. I could, to my horror, imagine myself as that clown with a red nose and floating about with the words, 'hope,' 'faith,' 'trust' and so on. I stopped the video mid-way. I decided that it's absolutely fine if I am delusional. After all, not everything that we practice and follow can be proven to yield grand results! A quote from Christian Nestell Bovee comes to my mind,

“No man is happy without a delusion of some kind. Delusions are as necessary to our happiness as realities.”

This also brings another concern to my mind. While being positive and optimistic is sure a better way than feeling blue and wallowing away in self-pity, it is not something like a magic wand that can turn the entire situation upside-down. And that is what I call "wishy-washy optimism," which is the prerogative of many naive and quick-fix solution seeking individuals. Maintaining a calm disposition during times of crises and being assured that 'This too shall pass,' requires tremendous strong will and courage - Courage to smile at the storm and keep the inner oasis of sanity balanced is no easy task. Well, many think contrary to this. A positive attitude is seen as a solution that can bring about change in a jiffy. When someone says, 'Hang in there,' it spells out the fact that, remain in that situation, albeit with a positive demeanour and things will change when they should change. Come on, if things change just by a wish, then the world would be a better place overnight with so many of us thinking positively at the same time!

A couple of mornings ago, I read a post on one of my blogger friend Avis Viswanathan's blog. The post was about a woman Suzette Jordan who was raped in Kolkata. (Well, these days the horror levels at the word, 'rape' seldom happens because one sees news of rapes almost everyday). Jordan, of course was emotionally and physically traumatised but never allowed herself to wallow in sadness. She chose to be positive about her life and sprung forth. And please, the word 'delusional' cannot come in the picture. If she had imagined positive thoughts and moving on as delusional, then she would have been a victim in the literal sense of the word.

Anything that is good, positive, optimistic requires hard work and patience. Everything is connected to everything else and it cannot be truer in this case. It is easy to be pessimistic and go around saying, 'I'm down in the dumps and feeling blue. I cannot manage. I want to break free from this world' and so on but it takes tremendous energy and will to step out of the what-comes-normally mode and strive to maintain a cheerful and happy demenour. And that doesn't mean the optimist doesn't feel pain or remorse. One feels the pain but looks beyond that pain and also knows that the present painful state is just a stopover that will soon give way to better phases. 

So, stop being optimistic in a wishy-washy manner and strive to wholeheartedly hope against hope. The rains will come and take away the dryness but then you should be ready to wait with a smile.

So, half-full, half-empty or just a full glass ;)

Image 1: Internet 
Image 2: Internet

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Don't judge a person by the book he/she carries!

It's fine if we judge a book by its cover but the greatest folly would be to judge a person by the book she/he carries. Many of them carry books as an adornment that enhances their intellectual value. I have seen this especially in students who will go an extra mile to carry that copy of Heisenberg or Thoreau just for kicks and if one keenly observes the book will be carried in such a way that the name of the book and its author is clearly visible. Well, if one proceeds to ask them about the book, crisp sentences straight from Wikipedia will bewilder and amuse you.

Recently while on a train journey, a young man dug out a volume of a popular author's book and tried to start reading but at the second odd page, fell asleep. After that the book was neatly kept on the food tray throughout the 20 odd hours without even being touched. The man in question, of course was later wide awake and also enjoying a film on the Laptop of a fellow passenger. Okay, I'm not judging but then a book does increase the value of the individual who carries one. Now, you have to agree that if there are two persons and one has a book and the other has a computer, if you are like me, you would naturally like to start a conversation with the one who has the book. Books are great conversation starters and I am proud to say that one such book gave me a pen-friend to whom I've been writing for ten odd years now. Now before you get ideas, he is an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic church. The book in question was Antony de Mello's The Song of the Bird. I asked him what he was reading and then read a page, borrowed the book and now I even own a copy of the same book. Looking at that feeble man in the train, I could never decipher that he was such a treasure chest of knowledge. See so much for my judgment.

Reading and books have certainly become synonymous with something elite and erudite and hence many would love to be part of the circle. Please don't imagine that I am placing people who read books and certain authors on a pedestal. I also know that many a well-read individual can be an absolutely downright rascal as well. Books and knowledge and authors offer so many brownie points to people like us that the world seems different when in the company of a beautiful book. And moving around with such beauties sure increase the worth of the one carrying it. Now you understand why some deliberately walk around with Shakespeare and Darwin.

Well, have you seen books as exterior adornments meant to be showing off YOU? What are your thoughts on this?

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Post Script: Now, don't ask me about people who do carry books but trashy ones such as  . . . And I think they are way better than those who do not read at all. Harsh, right?


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