Wednesday 9 December 2020

The left and right of the earphones!

 I sometimes wonder that I spend most of the screen time interspersed with trying to find the minute L and R of the earphones. It has become an obsession. I can never seem to remember the left and the right looking at them. Some of them know it. I don't. I forget. 




I think that I would remember this details the next time I use the earphones but I fumble and try to read the minute L and R. I have to be sure to get the complete experience. Sometimes I think that the details don't matter. But a small voice reminds, "The devil is in the details." What an evil simile! Why the devil? Why not someone else? Why so much power to the devil? For that matter why couldn't it be, "The victory is in the details" or " The power is in the details?" A bit of research into the origin reveals that the idiom is a German saying. Well, so much so for the English language. Well, the confusion between earphones and headphone and pods is another post for another day!

The details are sometimes unnecessary stress! I find myself frantically searching for the minute L and R when I have to conduct online lectures. From being someone who never used head/earphones, I have landed myself on the other end of the spectrum where L and R have become the bane of my existence. I guess I should enroll myself in OCD Anonymous with specific reference to earphone L and R obsession.

This and more is the effect of the virus in my routine. 

Sunday 6 December 2020

A clean, well-lighted place: The importance of spaces for the mind

 "A clean, well-lighted place" is a short story by the American writer, Ernest Hemingway. When I entered the Café ChaiCoffee (hereafter CCC), it is this title which resonated in my mind. Incidentally the short story is set in a café and through the waiters and one elderly patron, discuss life and its happenings. Places and spaces are quite an important feature in the lives of people who thrive on ideas and stories - and if the place is well lighted with greenery, it is an added advantage.

When we first heard of CCC, we were quite exhilarated to discover the place which was just a few kilometers away from where we lived. The next day we drove to the place after speaking at length to Sneha, who is the proprietor of the café. Exuding warmth and enthusiasm, she filled our senses with a sense of welcome and camaraderie. As we followed the directions, we gradually were transported into another world amidst the sounds and boisterous main roads of Dabolim. The place which is tucked away could truly be described as a treasure waiting to be experienced and savoured. The first sights that greeted us as we parked our vehicle charmed us while we tried to choose an apt place for sitting and working. 

While I had no knowledge of the Café owners or their long association with art and artists, I googled Raj Bhandare - and imagine the surprise when I discovered that he is the brain behind the Nirvana brand of T-shirts, which is one of my favourite brands with its quirky and urban art prints. My day was made! And then when I looked up the café, I found art alive in every space, inviting one to get lost in the ambience.

When the space makes one happy and calm, the food becomes secondary. But if the food is close-by, the sense of fulfilment is immense. A senior waiter in the short story, reminisces on the importance of having a clean, well-lighted place to spend time and savour diverse things of life be it time or memories. The waiter is spot on because more than a café to spend time, it is important that the place is clean and well-lighted so that an individual feels at home. 

 "You do not understand. This is a clean and pleasant café. It is well lighted." 

~ 'A Clean, Well-lighted Place'

CCC is the newest landmark for those who enjoy quiet spaces splashed with art and a friendly ambience along with short eats to boot. A wonderful space to sit and work without disturbance punctuated with food and friendly chats with the hosts who make it a point to visit each table and share pleasantries which by itself is a delightful gesture. 

While I reminisce on Hemingway and well-lighted places, you could visit the café for an experience worth revisiting and remembering. CCC is located in Lane 3, Upper Orchard, Near M. E. S. College, Zuarinagar-Goa.

Happy soaking in CCC.

Friday 13 November 2020

Thinking beyond low-cost airlines: Thoughts around Soorarai Pottru

 Suriya's recent film, Soorarai Pottru goes beyond the trope of a hard-working middle-class individual fulfilling his dreams with sweat and toil - it is reminiscent of the existing gap between the rich and the middle-class. The antagonist Paresh who derides the common man sitting next to the likes of him and flying is a stark reflection how 'certain' facilities are seen as available only for an exclusive percentage of people. Liberalisation and consumer driven economy slowly started diminishing the exclusivity of the upper class people. The rising ability of the middle class to spend money on brands and other durables started dissolving the divide thereby causing the upper class sections to reach out for products that were more exclusive than the existing ones. Many middle-class people who were slightly better off than those in the same class started feeling the brunt of affordability of prized brands such as Fabindia, film festivals such as IFFI and many other such events which was considered the space for only a 'certain' kind of crowd. 

Captain Gopinath's victory ushered in that space which was usually considered as the privilege of a select few. Paresh's disdain of the common man with his sweat, grime and low status is actually a reflection of many middle-class sections who are able to afford many durables which was hitherto unavailable to their parents and forefathers. When the grapes which were now attainable were no longer sour, the same availability to certain others causes a sourness of the mind. 

The mind is powerful to ascertain the status of people based on their appearance, language and habits. It is the same mentality which considers knowledge of English as superior and a certain background. Talking in the native tongue is most often looked upon with a frown and displeasure. Similarly a well dressed person is treated with respect in the clothes/jewelley/shoes showrooms which reflects on the person who is meting out this treatment. But it mustn't be  forgotten that the person who is an employee in that particular showroom might come from a similar background of those who he is 'taught' to despise and show disdain. 

How do these judgments come into being? The disposable income? The high paying job which is a part and parcel of many pay commissions? The value attached to superior brands which has been given power by the buyers?

This is where Marxism and Socialism comes into play. These theories might have been a failure but one needs to be aware of the ideologies. Today, Marxism is an ideology which has to be applied to diverse situations and people. As long as the ideology is capitalist, people like Paresh would go to any lengths to avoid being seen in the vicinity of the so called aspiring middle-class people. And to challenge that, we need Captain Gopinaths around, forgetting that he might or might not be a socialist by ideology. 

Tuesday 15 September 2020

A poem for troubled times


Today, as I reflect on the past days and more to come, there is a slight perturbation which stirs my thoughts. But I keep myself going and try motivating myself so that I don't despair. There are some days when my words are sufficient but on other days, there is always poetry.

Here is a poem that I have been going to when thoughts of fear assail:

Everything Is Going To Be Alright, by Derek Mahon
How should I not be glad to contemplate
the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?
There will be dying, there will be dying,
but there is no need to go into that.
The poems flow from the hand unbidden
and the hidden source is the watchful heart.
The sun rises in spite of everything
and the far cities are beautiful and bright.
I lie here in a riot of sunlight
watching the day break and the clouds flying.
Everything Is Going To Be Alright

Hope this poem lightens your day and brings cheer to you in these grim times.

Take care and stafe (stay safe)

Monday 14 September 2020

Walks to remember

 Evening walks have become a part of my day for quite some time now. I like walking all by myself so that I could regulate my walk, stop sometimes to spot birds/flowers/butterflies/clouds and perhaps complete my phone calls. There are several people who I spot on a regular basis; Sometimes we nod, sometimes we smile or sometimes we look ahead without any action. The regular trail is quite comforting because I understand the contours of the road and small bumps here and there. 

There was a gentleman who I regularly used to see during my usual walks. He was short, dark complexioned, with a prominent paunch. His clothes fit snugly and his shoes were the sports kind in white colour. He never missed a day or rather I never missed seeing him whenever I used to walk. 

Walking is a strange affair - we form connections with the path, the birds, the trees and the people who cross our paths. We may or may not talk to the people but they are part of the walking. Two days ago, we heard the news that the gentleman had passed away. He suffered acute breathlessness and passed away while being taken to the hospital. An immense sorrow clouded my mind and I regretted that I didn't smile or talk to him. He came from the same linguistic region as I. I could have at least uttered a hello or a nod. That I would never see him again while I went walking hit me hard. Strange affairs!

Feeling sorrowful for a relationship that was purely on a sight-basis is still sorrow. I hope his family finds comfort for they could not even give him a proper farewell. These and many more are the passive regrets that Covid-19 has brought about in our lives.

Rest in peace, sir. I will miss you on my walks.

Monday 29 June 2020

An ode to Wikipedia

When we began our research, the first writing advice given by my supervisor then was that we should not quote/cite from Wikipedia. His reason was that since it was something where anyone could edit the content, the authenticity was questionable. That was impressed upon my mind and I gave the same advice to my students. I altered my stand a bit and told them that they could start off reading their basic information from Wikipedia and then follow it up with the references given on the same page towards the end. Of course they love their Wikipedia and the depth of information it offers and I cannot but accept that fact. Wikipedia is easy, basic and comprehensive and quite useful for a beginner who is seeking information on any topic. But the copyleft philosophy of the website is something that is quite impressive - free for all to edit, contribute and use.

Piqued by curiosity on being a Wikipedia editor, I signed to become an editor and voila! the process was quite an easy one. I began editing content and then realised that one cannot be frivolous about the additions and deletions. Since the content is out there for everyone to read and cite, there is a greater responsibility associated with the same, I concurred.

But this present post is a dedication of love to Wikipedia for certain pet peeves of mine. Here it goes: In the recent years, say five years or so, the availability of films on various platforms has been mushrooming at a quicker pace and these have enabled people like me to access many films which were hitherto inaccessible. While I watch these films, mid-way I pause and quickly change the tab to Wikipedia and read the entire plot of the film. I know that this dampens the thrill of watching the plot unfold but not for me. I know the plot but like to watch how it has been handled by the director. And here, Wikipedia is something that succinctly provides the content for me - Not IMDB which is limited in content but good in rating; not the reviews which are mostly one-sided and not useful to know the storyline. But Wikipedia gives out the spoilers and the other sundry stuff which is quite interesting to read and is a separate thrill altogether.

Well, so I am armed with the exact storyline possessing full knowledge of the killer, the twists and other giveaways and I watch the film - with the same intensity if I were watching without knowing the storyline. And , Wikipedia has always been my faithful ally except in some cases where the information furnished is short and just a peek into the plot.

Well, Wikipedia is definitely the go-to place for me when it comes to reading film's storylines and spoilers.

Raising a toast to the humble Wiki and here's to many more Spoiler Alerts!

All images are from Wikipedia - the copyleft website!

Thursday 7 May 2020

Red Salute aka Lal Salaam

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club's CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG 2 where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of May to the 7th of May, 2020.

The colour theme for today's post is RED. 

Red brings to my mind, the Left and the pioneers who have led the movement upholding the rights of people, especially the marginalised and the voiceless (read as the ones being silenced!). It is but the vibrant red which has the place of being attached to a cause - that too a most pressing and vocal one that! The fiery attitude, the hot words, the bloody slogans - all worthy of the colour and the movement. Yes! I am talking about the Leftist movement also known as CPI and popular in the states of Bengal and Kerala.

I was introduced to this greetings Lal Salaam while in college. Many of the fellow Malayalees and Bengalis who were passionate about the country and equality, used to greet each other with a chirpy Lal Salaam and many of us who were slowly getting initiated into this whole history of Marxism and Leftist ideology were fascinated with the greeting. But then we weren't members of either of the states, hence we upheld our Dravidian greeting of Vanakkam which was a safe greeting devoid of any ideology or colour. Bland, apolitical and neutral yet a beautiful three-syllable greeting. I'm digressing here.

But when I say people from Kerala and Bengal, don't be mistaken that everyone is so. NO. Only a fraction of the citizens who passionately believe in the cause of the oppressed and the marginalised greeted so. Some people who didn't support the Communist party were also keen to the causes of the people and saw themselves as part of the ongoing struggle. It wasn't a fashion statement for it was loaded with energy, zeal, mission and urgency. You knew that if one uttered the words, they were aware that they were privileged by education, money and a certain standing in the society, yet knew that they were in the battle of the masses.

It has been proven that the red state of Kerala is in the forefront of the present day Covid-19 battle. With the plans, press meets and the immediate actions undertaken by the present government led by Shri. Pinarayi Vijayan, the state has been cohesive in bringing together many brains and ideas to redeem the situation. While naysayers and critics continue harping on the loopholes of the Red party, it is for everyone to see how Kerala has flattened the curve against the virus, having previous experience of tackling the Nipah virus which shook the state in 2018.

Red also denotes the struggles of the Dalits, transgenders, adivasis, and number of voiceless people/communities, where blood has been shed for mere survival in a democratic country. Red unites the people all over the world in spite of numerous internal factions and diverse mindsets.

Red says STOP. The red party also says STOP to the aforementioned struggles.

Stop closing your eyes.
Stop pretending that you are the heir of privilege.
Stop saying, "We don't need reservation."

Lal Salaam.

Image courtesy: 1. Shutterstock 2.

Today marks the last day of the #CBCVIBGYORBLOGTAG2. Please do visit the blogs of KaushikClementKumutha and Pratip who are also participants of the #CBCVIBGYORBLOGTAG2.

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Orange is the new . . . return to boredom

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club's CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG 2 where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of May to the 7th of May, 2020.

The colour theme for today's post is Orange. 

The colour Orange invariably, of late, reminds me of the series, 'Orange is the new Black.' It was quite a hyped series which streams on Netflix. I saw a few seasons until I became quite bored of the episodes. Series appeal to me in the initial few seasons but after a certain point, I tend to give up. Netflix still reminds me to complete the series but I do not think that I would. It was for the same reason that I gave up on 'LOST,' another gripping series which kept me engaged for quite some time. And then dead people started reappearing in different timelines and I was thoroughly distracted, pausing now and then to view other tabs. But I must say that these series momentarily take your mind off certain aspects of life that you wish to temporarily forget.

'LOST' was a case like that for me. I was undergoing some crazy situations which troubled and stole my peace of mind. 'LOST' found me and made me lose my pain - It was a drug that I willingly administered to myself without the guilt of time and work. I was on long leave and could indulge myself how much ever I had willed. But then things began getting better and 'LOST' became a slow drag that I started avoiding. Now even Netflix has taken it off air.

Coming back to 'Orange is the new Black,' it tells the story of a woman named Piper who goes to jail for possessing drugs and the series is about her experience in prison with diverse inmates who are both crazy and wild. It is easy to get caught in their travails and motions of life and for some time, I was a voyeur to their lives. Then slowly the episodes started getting the better of me. The same lesbian-drugs-power-politics-affairs-scandals and so on started doing the rounds and I gave up. I must say that I'm in great awe of everyone who has the will to complete the series that they start watching. I could complete only series with limited episodes such as 'Sex Education,' 'YOU,' 'Lust Stories' and 'Four More Shots Please.' I, of course did not much enjoy 'Four More . . .' nevertheless I completed it because it was short.

Please do visit the blogs of KaushikClementKumutha and Pratip who are also
participants of the #CBCVIBGYORBLOGTAG2.

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Yeah they were all Yellow!

Look at the stars
Look how they shine for you
And everything you do
Yeah they were all yellow
I came along
I wrote a song for you
And all the things you do
And it was called "Yellow" . . .
(Coldplay "Yellow")
This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club's CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG 2 where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of May to the 7th of May, 2020.

The colour theme for today's post is Yellow. 
Today was the second day that I went for a long walk in our beautiful campus. Some restrictions were imposed during the earlier weeks on the timings of the regular walks and the radius of distance and all that has been cleared. It was the same campus and same beautiful trees but my eyes lapped them up greedily heady with delight and happiness.

Golden showers scientifically known as Cassia fistula. A flower used for Vishu celebrations in Kerala, locally known as kanikonna

I have always enjoyed my walking time - a time of solitude and campus-bathing with the trees, birds, river Zuari smoothly flowing and the chirpy voices of students and others playing. But today summer has bathed the campus with yellow - it was a golden delight to savour the cassia, copper pods, frangipani and other beautiful flowering trees. These trees sway in the gentle breeze taunting me to capture them and save for posterity. I have lost count of the 'yellow' pictures that I have in my many folders and presently on my phone's gallery. How much we try to steal and save these sights - sometimes I never see them again but social media has given me a nice way of storing them and viewing them time to time.

While the campus is bathed in yellow, the sun also reminds me that it is summer time and alas! we aren't in London to exclaim, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day" for that would be the end of any romance. But strangely I also basked in the glory of the evening sun in spite of sweating and panting during the walk.

Yellow has seeped into my being and left me like the lyrics of the Coldplay song,

So then I took my turn

Oh what a thing to have done

And it was all yellow . . .

Please do visit the blogs of KaushikClementKumutha and Pratip who are also
participants of the #CBCVIBGYORBLOGTAG2.

Monday 4 May 2020

Greening the conscious

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club's CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG 2 where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of May to the 7th of May, 2020.

The colour theme for today's post is Green. 

The colour Green is an oft abused colour when it comes to expressing the natural world around us. Anything environmental/eco-friendly is green. Conferences on ecology/environment have splashes of green all over and the staff members also proudly display their green coloured attires complemented by green coloured folders, pens and other paraphernalia. Of late, many news reports and conscious citizens have reduced the effects of the corona virus to mention that there is less pollution, the air is clearer, the mountains are visible and so on. Some exclaim, "The green world is happy!" While this realisation is dear, it is also a gross reduction of the whole environment that has improved in say one or two months. 

A fern that I captured with my mobile camera while on a trip to Amboli, a hill station in South Maharashtra in August 2018
This is incidentally called an 'eco-hotspot'

One of my academic peers and ecocritic, Stacy Alaimo writes on her Facebook wall,

"Just because people are hearing more birds, and cetaceans are hearing fewer ships, doesn't mean that the oceans are not full of plastic, the world isn't full of toxic chemicals and radiation, and countless species and habitats and ecosystems have already been destroyed. Those species will not magically return. . . ."

The same birds which have been there are singing everyday but given the condition of the quiet around, people are waking up to the same. Green has come to signify the earth and anything that concerns the earth but sadly it stops with just that. There is an 'eco' prefix in many activities be it a corporate company's CSR or a cosmetic product which often lures probable customers with the 'eco' prefix. Synonymous with the colour green and the prefix 'eco' are the words, 'organic,' 'natural,' 'bio, and so on. It's wonderful that many of us have become aware of the ongoing climate change and the rapid acceleration rate of habitats and ecosystems but how much could we contribute and take responsibility.

I leave you with the words of Alaimo,

"The broken and horribly unjust systems will cause the most vulnerable to suffer and die during the pandemic. And struggles for social justice and environmentalism will most likely be even more daunting once things return to "normal," given that the crisis will be used as a reason for accelerated extractivism and social austerity."

Sunday 3 May 2020

Bleed Blue

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club's CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG 2 where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of May to the 7th of May, 2020.

The colour theme for today's post is Blue. 

Bleed Blue is a popular tagline of cricket fans in India when the team is playing and sometimes this tagline applies for the local IPL matches too when the team Mumbai plays against any other team. I wonder who came up with that tagline because bleeding for me is mostly associated with the menstrual cycle or washing clothes with colours that bleed. Well, the tagline always gives me images of the colour blue just washing off and the players wearing blue get drenched in blue fluids and the ground is slowly turning blue because the players are bleeding blue and finally when it is done, the players' clothes are white because the blue has been washed off and the ground is soggy. The match has been cancelled. So much for 'Bleed Blue.'

But the vivid image that I associate with Blue is the musical blues, which originates in the African-American belts of the US in the 19th century. The music tradition is a lively one and the name means melancholy or sadness. The intensity of slavery and the condition of the blacks in America was depicted in these songs and often these songs became the anthem of Black slavery also falling in the category of 'protest music.' Perhaps that's why we often exclaim, 'I'm feeling blue,' 'Oh if I could drive the blues away!' and connecting the idea of moods and blues, I would often exclaim, "Ah! This time of the month gives me the blues" - a blend of the red flow and blue moods. And the fine result of blending these colours give another vibrant colour - Magenta, which luckily isn't part of Vibgyor!

Blue is also the favourite colour of gender-benders who work for discouraging gender related colours where blue is almost always preferred to signify boys and pink for girls. But I must admit that men look good in blue, be it shirts or denims and sometimes that factor reduces their ilk to blue which further transforms into a stereotype which demands to be followed. 

Well, so much so for the colour Blue. But I won't let you go without a favourite Blues song by B. B. King. 

Please do visit the blogs of KaushikClementKumutha and Pratip who are also
participants of the #CBCVIBGYORBLOGTAG2.

Saturday 2 May 2020

Indigo is the new red

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club's CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG 2 where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of May to the 7th of May, 2020.

The colour theme for today's post is Indigo. 

Indigo was a relatively unknown colour to me in terms of utility. I knew the colour only as the reason for the British to trade in India. The dye started it all. Until recently, say ten years or more, Indigo was not a colour that I would think in terms of garment, or any other product and then the whole barrage of the garment-induced craze for indigo - Was it Fabindia? Perhaps. Then the entire apparel industry started promoting the colour and the people lapped up the colour almost to the point of dizziness. It wasn't common to hear:

"Indigo is my favourite colour."

"Indigo is love."

"Indigo goes with any colour"

"Indigo is Indigo and nothing can beat it." 

Then the world of commerce banked on the popularity of the colour and unfolded many items in this colour - Curtains, towels, home decor, and as they commonly say, the rest is history.

Then Indigo airlines was born in 2006 as a tribute to this colour which has its roots firm in history and has travelled from being the reason for India's bondage to the favourite colour of its people.

Now, I like Indigo too for its earthiness but what I dislike about this colour is that it bleeds too much
and I always have to take utmost care while washing any Indigo coloured fabric.

Please do visit the blogs of Kaushik, Clement and Kumuta and Pratip who are also
participants of the #CBCVIBGYORBLOGTAG2.

Friday 1 May 2020

Violet hues in the time of Lockdown

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club's CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG 2 where
some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day
starting 1st of May to the 7th of May, 2020.
The colour theme for today's post is Violet.
One cannot see the colour violet, I read. No, it's not purple but a different shade of purple. It is confusing for me who always used violet as a synonym for purple. Alas! My professor used to say that there are no synonyms. Coleridge said that first and my professor led me to that. I still believe that there are no synonyms. Every word is distinct and could fit a particular context so yes, violet is NOT purple. I think we are a species who always like to group similarities and tag them/it with a generic word which is often suitable to the context with minuscule degree of difference but then how do others even spot the differences. Instead we stick to the easy way of grouping similar characteristics together like substituting violet for purple.

We do it all the time, we have set words for different aspects of life: Cool, sexy, hot, woke, feminism and so on. We use these these words over and over until we think whether we are limited to these alone. Our vocabulary stunts rather allowed to stunt by us because we don't care to notice. We JUST want to throw our thoughts and words out there - this explains why blogging has taken a back seat for many who were active few years ago. The patience to engage with newer outlooks and perceptions are slowly but definitely disappearing. Some of us seem like the last species of bloggers who are often seen as artifacts who rightfully belong to a bygone era. But then aren't museums and history fascinating? Like the colour Violet which is not purple but like purple liked by many.

I used to know a member in the church named Violet. Her lips were affected by leucoderma. She was called Violet aunty.

Did you see Violet aunty?

Violet aunty was looking for you!

She used to talk fast and loud, forcing herself close to you. Being diminutive, she was oddly funny. She had two daughters who fortunately weren't as colourful, meaning they weren't named after colours. Isn't it a bit funny to imagine South Indian Christians sporting colour and flower names but having personalities quite contrary. Well, don't be harsh on my passing judgement. Violet aunty is no more and we no longer go to that church.

So much so, for violet memories.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Food and eating in the time of Corona

Things that were considered normal in the routine are still normal but the observation to details has gone up a few notches given the availability of time and leisure. For example, remembering finer details in films and connecting them to our everyday life and living is a passable but noteworthy activity. The other day, I was watching a disturbing 2017 film titled, The Killing of a Sacred Deer which is available on Netflix. Without discussing the film, I would like to mention a small detail in which one of the characters mention how he always keeps the best part of his meal for the last. For example, he loves fries and whenever he orders burgers, he keeps the fries for the last because he wants to end his meal with his favourite item. This detail is quite insignificant when you consider the entire film but not quite not when someone in your life does the same. My husband is so - he loves eggs (in any form) and almost always saves the egg for the last ensuing me asking for it because I would have finished mine along with the meal. For me, the item that I like has to be part of every bite and hence when I finish eating, all the dishes are done - leaving a clean plate. My husband is the opposite. He saves his eggs, the meat dishes and other favourite items for the last and after eating everything else on the plate, slowly eats the egg or any other item, savouring the taste, much to my chagrin. Well, I can't ask for it without getting fed on a lecture of how I have already completed eating, I had my share and blah, blah, blah. The end result: He does not share! Ever! Perhaps on a rare occasion, he might share based on his whim or fancy but that occurrence is like the blue or pink moon. Well, let that be.

The sunny-side up that we often fight for

Now let us talk about Feni, our non-human companion. He adores food - any time, any food except vegetables. He starts salivating the moment he hears his vessel being handled in the kitchen making us wonder whether he imagines the food, which is still to be proved. Sometimes, he smells some food and stands next to us in the kitchen with hope writ large on his face. A hope that is ever present and is for the now. He may or not get that particular item but he never loses hope again making us wonder whether he knows what hope is - The truth is that we often view his actions and thoughts according to our human parameters and would like to do so even when we realise that what we think is just our own perception of things. During this time of lockdown, we are able to observe Feni and his antics alongside enjoying them. Earlier food was something that was served to Feni since it was the time for food but now it is the feeling that Feni would be waiting, he has smelt the food and let us treat him and nourish him is the thought.

Feni captured in a fancy manner in one of his moods (could be before or after eating)

All of us are trying our best to live during these times and engage in whatever fuels our time and mind. But then there are days when everything seems to be a never ending drag that drains the mind and body and at that time food and eating become routine.

Hope you are well and safe during these uncertain times.

Thursday 16 April 2020

The clash of the brain and brawn

The recent lockdown has all of us cooped up in the confines of our homes which is a bag of mixed emotions. For me particularly, the lockdown has brought house-work and a feverish craze to clean and sparkle the home, which isn't a bad thing, after all but it does have serious implications - I am unable to give myself to any intellectual or academic work. Reading, writing and attending to various activities of critical insights leading to a paper in a journal/book is practically impossible for me. But on the days when I set aside the housework-that-never-ends, I am able to focus on activities that require the brain and not brawn.

I have often wondered on the disparity of the brain and brawn. Many friends who are academics don't much indulge in house-work for it is time and energy consuming leaving no time for any other work. Here I am also tempted to think that I have always given more weight to work that involves the mind instead of physical work but the lockdown has brought to the surface ground realities - The house work cannot be ignored and I being I, cannot leave anything half done (The saying, Well begun is half done has always given rise to a conflict in me!). Cooking has become an elaborate affair and so has cleaning and shining the sundry stuff around me. I enjoy seeing the work of my hands and take pride in the sweat of my brow but I'm not quite content; I think of the academic work that could have been done in this time of lockdown. This is when existential angst smothers me and I start missing my helps. How I wish they would relieve me of this but I also know that I am a better worker than them - cooking tasty food and shining my vessels and clothes brighter. I am perpetually drenched in sweat and always on the run - vessels, clothes, hair everywhere (my nonhuman companion's) and of course, the plants and the cobwebs! Sigh.

Someone I know refers to housework as menial job which requires no much thought but mechanical rendering of the work and I think that person is right - Because when I tick off each finished task, I am glad that I don't have to be critical or analytical (perhaps analysis into how to remove that oil stain or how to reach a corner which my help has conveniently overlooked through for eight years!). And at the end of the day, I sometimes feel happy that there is no much thinking involved - at the same time missing the fact that I could have written couple of essays or short articles.

At the end of the day, the brain and the brawn keep me engaged and away from thoughts that arise from the dark labyrinth of the social media though I am yet to master the art of detachment from the same. But I do wish earnestly that I manage time to distribute to both the Bs - the brain and the brawn.

Friday 10 April 2020

Being home!

Home is the new downtown! The rooms are the places we visit when we need a little break now and then from the same rooms. The sound of a distant train catches my attention and I'm all ears - we haven't heard a train in the last few days. I try to gauge the train by the time only to realise that my kitchen tap has a leak and hence sounds like a passenger train. Small mercies! I let that tap be - I enjoy the sound of the train that is otherwise impossible to hear during these days.

My nonhuman companion, Feni, is a welcome entity in these quiet times. Taking care of him, understanding his language and entertaining him and us is another new routine which we enjoy and relish. I often wonder whether he understands that we are with him 24/7 - Is he happy? Is he stress-free without having to gaze at empty walls and chew furniture. He hardly bothers about the furniture or anything remotely chewable. I think he is indeed happy.

Sometimes thoughts rush in where angels fear to tread - but I allow them to run their course and pass. Sometimes I do give in to them and feel despondent but that is a normal behaviour, I reckon. I engage in sundry works around the house - It's nice to see clean and well lit spaces! I seem to cultivate new routines and re-routines. Actually there is no routine - I do what I ought to do and I do them mindfully.

My reading has been awful, though! I had imagined that I would read like there is no tomorrow only to realise that every tomorrow comes and quickly leaves without me reading. It's a phase, I concur and let that settle in.

I have been cooking delicious meals and enjoying eating them at our own pace. We don't have a clock at home; The mobile's time is our go-to which we ignore going to these days. Time is a forgotten entity unless the mobile is in our hands. It's wonderful to reverse roles. How long you have kept me in your clutches - now it is my turn! It's a moment of victory.

I hope you are doing well and keeping yourself amused by observing your queer antics!

Leaving you with a 1964 pop song that I have been listening to of late, written by Hatch Anthony Peter and performed by Petula Clark.


When you're alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go - downtown.
When you've got worries all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help I know downtown.
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown
Things will be great when you're downtown
No finer place for sure downtown
Everything's waiting for you.
Don't hang around and let your problems surround you
There are movie shows downtown.
Maybe you know some little places to go to
Where they never close downtown.
Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova
You'll be dancing with 'em too before the night is over
Happy again.
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go - downtown
Where all the lights are bright downtown
Waiting for you tonight downtown
You're gonna be alright now
And you may find somebody kind to help and understand you
Someone who is just like you and needs a gentle hand to
Guide them along.
So maybe I'll see you there
We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares
So go downtown
Things will be great when you're downtown
Don't wait a minute more downtown
Everything is waiting for you

Tuesday 31 March 2020

Made in China

Yesterday while cleaning my book shelf, I came upon a beautiful box - you know the drift - The box in hand leads to a myriad of memories yellowed with time and exaggerated emotions. But the box in question was a fairly recent gift, say two years and I lovingly caressed the same when lo! behold, I came upon the three words, MADE IN CHINA. I felt a cold shudder. The beautiful box seemed to have lost its sheen and felt like a heavy stone in my hand. I looked around and many beautiful objects that were housed in my home were from China. Needless to say, my mind quickly thought of the present virus - which is incidentally MADE IN CHINA! I thought of the many strings which are presently attached to the country - The barrage of angry Whatsapp forwards, call to boycott Chinese products and stop eating noodles (the post did not mention manchurian recipes!), the xenophobia against the people from north-eastern India because of their facial features which are Mongoloid. I think how hate spreads easily through technology and it isn't difficult to arouse a group of people who are constantly fidgeting with their mobiles and passing the message to another group of individuals - eerily similar to the way the virus is spreading far and wide. It just takes one unassuming host to propagate the message and then there is a chain - a never ending chain of messages and people who spew hate and venom and awaiting a chance to strike - virtual and real.

The mob psychology is fascinating to observe and study. It had been thought that fiery speeches and rousing words kindle the minds of unsuspecting people who then act accordingly. I think of Marc Anthony and his powerful, "Friends, Romans, Countrymen . . ." which stirred the crowd into a mob and let loose fury and blood-thirst. Today, one has to tap away on a mobile and innocently forward a xenophobic message and then witness how hell breaks loose. Technology is both a curse as well as blessing. It becomes the instrument of the hand that uses it.

As for me, I ruminated on the array of brilliant products that the Chinese could conceive of and only imagine how our homes would be without their products.

Hopefully, like other Chinese goods, the virus also should be short-lived, is my supplication.

Hope you are safe and aware.

Sunday 22 March 2020

My brush with lockdown(s)

I am not unfamiliar to lockdowns. I remember my first lockdown - it was in April 2011, a month before I was to get married. I was down with chicken-pox. I know that it does mean a big setback in terms of wedding shopping and all that jazz but it was bliss in disguise of a disease. I was brought back from the place I was teaching during that time - Tiruvarur by a special car which was hired by my mother. After I set foot at home in Chennai - it was quarantine till the shiny balls disappeared. I lived sans bath, sans spice and sans mirror - you would know the usuals if you had experienced chicken-pox. But the icing on the cake was that I MISSED most of MY wedding shopping, which was done kindly by my dear mom and sister. Those were the days of no Whatsapp so no videos and photos of clothes could be sent; My sister would call me and describe the design to the best of her abilities and I without even listening, would remark, "Buy whatever you feel would look good on me." So much so for my wedding shopping. The best part  comes now - juices to coll my body down, not to mention the buttermilk and tender coconut water! Bland food did not appeal much but I saw that as a detox. My skin and hair looked healthy, my complexion revived, my mind was clear and before I forget, I completed reading a book (not advisable) which was catching dust in my modest library.

Today's lockdown is different - Of course I am cooped up at home, which is not unusual but I am devoid of the luxury of getting food and drinks served at my bed side. I cooked, cleaned and did a bit of reflecting and was generally a relaxed home body wondering about the next area to be cleaned or next book to be read. But the feeling of quiet has seeped in but I also have a niggling thought on stocking up of essentials in case Goa decides to extend the lockdown of today.

You see, I don't have my mother to worry about those aspects.

Hope you have been well and content in times as these.

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Going on . . .

Sometimes, I wondered aloud in class that we were a generation which hasn't witnessed any major wars, plagues and life-turning events. I didn't know whether it was good or bad because I have often heard my parents and grandparents discuss events like the Indo-Chinese war, Independence, Emergency and so on. I wondered how it would seem to be living in the midst of crises yet going on with life and living. I should acknowledge the fact that there was no social media to escalate the range of the events but even then, I had imagined the fear in the air which seeped into the minds.

Then 2019 and 2020 came along bringing some traumatic and fearsome events, which perhaps would be my share of anecdotes for future narration.

The anti-CAA agitations across the country

The riots of Delhi

The fear mongering messages across the capital

Corona Virus

These events have not entered my circle of geographical location but it has definitely seeped into my mind and the people's collective unconscious. Being a minority has given me my own fears and having dear ones travelling has triggered a COVID-19 scare. I assume that these kind of fear would have accosted the minds of my people when there were events happening in the country even though they were far removed from the circumference of the danger zone. Of course, for viruses and wars, the fear is a collective one which is evenly spread and quite panic-ridden.

I know that this would pass but living in these times is like the unknown fear which torments and asks one to rise up and act.

Friday 17 January 2020

2020 Meanderings

2020 began with thoughts of decades, achievements and general goodwill. Social media was ablaze with the Citizenship Amendment Act and its implications - sometimes it felt as if Apocalypse was at the doorstep so much so that it did not feel like one was heralding a brand new year. It is a new decade and year nevertheless. A new year, no matter what, engages one in introspection and a sense of beginnings. If you are of the reflective kind, then the old giving way to new holds the tugs of your heart's strings and coerces you to look back and forward.

I was thankful for 2019 on a personal level while I was in trepidation about the general happenings around me and my country. While my heart was overflowing with the turn of events in my life, I was unable to savour them because my country was reeling under protests of CAA and related issues. The economy of my country worries me in spite of me not being an economist. Can one be happy about something when the country is at a loss for common sense?

But hope is a good thing and I have it flowing in abundance out of the depths of my being and as long as it is present, I could gladly look forward to 2020.

How was it for you?

May we face the coming year, 2020, with the steady serenity of a tree — that supreme lover of light, always reaching both higher and deeper, rooted in a network of kinship and ringed by a more patient view of time.
(Via Brain Pickings)

Picture Courtesy: Blogger's archive


Related Posts with Thumbnails