Thursday, 22 November 2007

Happy Words

In my long association with the English language, I've developed a certain fondness for some letters of the aforementioned language. I've noticed that words with these letters tend to make me happy, much to the eternal amusement of all my friends. So after a rib tickling session of spouting some of these words today morning (in the c(o)urse of an assignment), I decided to put some of them down here so that others may not be so befuddled when i choose to go around spouting nonsense.

Now, without more ado, here goes...

Words with 2 'g's placed consecutively: There's something wonderfully lively and picturesque about words such as "giggle", "waggle", "wiggle" and "wriggle" (not to forget "piggie"). They seem to represent the actions they stand for and they roll so nicely off the tongue and are really quite pleasant to the ears.

Words with 2 'o's placed consecutively: "toodle", "doodle", "coodle", "whoosh", "swoosh"... try saying these words and you'll know what I mean when I call them happy words. Better yet try saying "waggle whoosh" together and the point will really get home.

NOTE: with due apologies to Dipti, I must also include words like "booey", "gooey" and "phooey" here.

The letter 'e': I don't think this one needs any explanation at all!!! eeeeeheeeeeeheeeee

A few more random happy words/phrases from my dictionary: "swish twish", "diddly squat" (this one is actually slang for doing nothing!!!), "pop" as in "pop goes the weasel, "plonk", "oink"!!!

Keep smiling :D

P.S: The title of this blog is another addition to the list of phrases :D

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Shared pasts?

They say a sense of past is what distinguishes the human life from an animal life. Each moment is, for a man, the sum of all past moments lived. Memories...

I found and interesting way of thinking about memories just yesterday. Two people share an experience or a moment but they do not remember or recollect it similarly. So when we think about shared experiences, are they really shared? And this is what probably makes each of us unique. That our memories are unique even if our experiences are the same. That what we choose to remember of each moment is different.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Sounds of Silence

The silence around is palpable. Some one sitting half a world away was able to sense it. But to me it is a beautiful silence. Sunny and warm in the mornings, wonderfully cold in the evenings and nights. The kind of silence in which you hear yourself best; the kind of silence that I found when I came hear initially.

Calm in the racuous laughter, serenity in the music, ease in the vivacity. The silence of a life that is comfortable, easy going, and by now familiar to all those who inhabit this little island out of nowhere.


Walking down the long winding road in a quietness that is so still that you can touch it, I can hear the blood flow in my veins, I can hear my lungs expand as I breathe the fresh, nippy air. At nights the crickets buzz much like the thoughts in my head and I can hear them clearly too.

In comparison, the noise of civilization is almost offensive, the air oh so foul. But my soul yearns for that too. To be back in the world I knew in the March of 2006. Come March 2008, I will walk out of this island, back into the waters I came from. How then will the island look from outside?

For now its serenity is as captivating as it is all demanding.

Nostalgia

Something I read that touched me very deeply... almost like seeing myself in the mirror. And so, for a second time, I will resort to quoting verbatim on this blog:

"Out of the mists of time when Josef was in high school, I see a young girl emerge; she is long limbed, beautiful; she is a virgin; and she is melancholy because she has broken off with a boy. It is her first romantic separation and it hurts her, but her pain is less strong than her amazement at discovering time; she sees it as she never saw it before:

Until then her view of time was the present moving forward and devouring the future; she either feared its swiftness (when she was awaiting something difficult) or rebelled at its slowness (when she was awaiting something fine). Now time has a very different look; it is no longer the conquering present capturing the future; it is the present conquered and captured and carried off by the past. She see a young man disconnecting himself from her life and going away, forevermore out of her reach. Mesmerized all she can do is watch it and suffer. She is experiencing a brand-new feeling called nostalgia.

That feeling, that irrepressible yearning to return, suddenly reveals to her the existence of the past, the power of the past, of her past; in the house of her life there are windows now, windows opening to the rear, onto what she has experienced; from now on her existence will be inconceivable without these windows.

One day, with her new boyfriend (platonic, of course), she turns down a path in the forest near the town; it is the same path she had walked a few months earlier with her previous boyfriend (the one who, after their break, caused her to feel nostalgia for the first time), and she is moved by the coincidence. Deliberately she heads for a dilapidated chapel at a crossing of the forest paths because that was where her first boyfriend tried to kiss her. Irresistible temptation draws her to relive a bygone love. She wants the two love stories to come together, to join, to mingle, to mimic each other so that both will grow greater through their fusion.

...

These coincidences amaze her. Never does she feel so thoroughly suffused with beauty as when the nostalgia of her past love blends with the surprises of her new love. The intrusion of the previous boyfriends into the story she is currently living is to her mind not some secret infidelity; it adds further to her fondness for the man walking beside her now."

A wonderful passage from a book called Ignorance by Milan Kundera. The past is indeed powerful, as it claims me from time to time.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Rocky Shores

There once stood a rock on a sea shore. The water would lap gently against its bottom, if at all, even on a violent day. Then one day the water did something strange. It hit the rock with a force that the rock had never before imagined. A few stray edges fell into the water. With time, the rock began to enjoy the waves. Especially on a warm, sunny day, the cool spray felt like the perfect counterpoint.

It began to look forward to this daily tryst with the water - it all seemed like a good game and the rock thought, "Why not have some fun while the water is in the mood for it. And after all, I am not even doing anything. It is the water that is coming to me. So why not?"

Then one day, barely a month later, the water went back to its normal self. It barely came and touched the rock. The rock stood there, bewildered, bereft, feeling alone. It had become so used to the water, its presence, its energy and vivacity that it began to miss the water. But the water seemed to have other things to do, other rocks to play with.

The rock stood there and wondered. Wondered if the water had gotten bored of the games, if the water had ever even meant anything, wondered why the water had started the game and not finished it. The rock's last question - would the water it considered a friend come back to it? Would they play together again? Would the rock get a chance to say what it wanted to?

Monday, 22 October 2007

A few random thoughts!!!

Much changes and many times these changes are quick, happening in a moment and suddenly the confusion is gone and you reach a decision. It seems like you always knew, only had to put the words to it and to accept it, to give yourself the time to do so. It has a been a weird time - swinging from ecstatic happiness to loneliness to anger and sadness. It has been this way for more reason than one, for try as I may, I cannot deny what has happened.

There are moments that I look forward to, that I want as part of my everyday at MICA; there are then moments that I cringe from, that I wish would go away. Ironically, they both go together. I cannot have one without the other. If I am wishing one away now, I know, given the present circumstances, that the other will go too. Just the way life is I guess. But what I have really come to understand is that it is the little things that make one truly sad or happy. There has to be nothing earth shattering to make one swing with joy or weep with pain.

I wish I could be more forthright. Not talk in riddles for I know that what I write right now will be meaningless to a lot of people to whom it is addressed but then this is the way it is going to be for now.

On a less confusing and much happier note, MICANVAS is around the corner. I am looking forward to my friends coming over, to sharing what this place is. I look forward to recreating some of the magic of last year with friends new and old. To re-explore and rediscover at a time when the campus nearly bursts open with life. At a time when the energy and the verve is so infectious that it is impossible to brood over anything at all. Four days of events, music, movies and much much more. Four days that changed a lot last year and will hopefully do the same this year.

The days since I have come back to campus have been eventful. They've made me think in more directions than one, look at people and things anew. They've also made me realise that this part of the journey is almost over and so I should make the most of it while it lasts. And on that note... Amen! :)

Sunday, 21 October 2007

"Foucault in the House"

About 10 days ago, we had an interesting guest speaker - An ex-MICAn who is now into anthropological research. She spoke to us, apart from other things, about Foucault's concept of identity and how the notion of the individual is itself systemic. To cut a long story short, individuals exist or rather we think in terms of the singular because that is how our system has been built. That is, to look at it conversely, in a society where the concept of the individual did not exist in language and thought, would not see people as distinct entities separate from each other.

Expanding on this she further went on to say that according to Foucault, identity was defined by the interaction and manifestation of the various power dimensions of society - be it family, education, law, community or religion. The point being that the notion of the individual (at least this is how I understood it) is in itself an immensely social one. That it is defined by a shared history and a shared present. Also, that one cannot ever completely escape this system and define oneself outside of it as both dissent and change, as well as ways to co-opt these are built into the system itself.

I found this whole notion of identity very interesting, as notions of self and others have always interested me. However, what I do have trouble with here, and as I was discussing with Aditi shortly after this lecture, was believing that there is nothing called an independent consciousness that perceives itself outside of language and culture. While language is essential to articulation, perception is independent of both language and culture. It is almost involuntary in the sense that if one opens one's eyes, one cannot help but see. Similarly, is there notion of self awareness that does not depend on acknowledgement from others? There has to be for the human body is a tangible physical entity that can see, hear and touch itself.

It is another of those motley things that I would like to explore... and any of you who have read Foucault - please do elaborate on what he said on this while I get my hands on at least one of his major works.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Memories

I read a post on Dipti's blog a few days ago and have been intending to write this post since then. So now that I have gotten over my laziness let me get right down to it.

To cut a long story short, her post was pondering upon how quickly she had fallen into the rhythm of things at Stanford and didn't really feel the void that she was expecting when she left home. Am going to start off by copy pasting my comment to that post.


"Maybe it is the excitement of a new place that eclipses the charm of the old ones for a while. The new discoveries overshadowing that which we already know. The eclipse will pass and you will enjoy both in a little time - the memories of old, the making of new ones.

And then again, memories are just that - remains of a life that was. So we all move on... to create memories that are better than the ones that we already have so that we may idle in a little more pleasure than we did before!!!"

I find this to be rather true for when I moved out of home for the first time last year, the first couple of months just went by in a whirl - seeing the new place, meeting new people, exploring, discovering. I never had time to think of the things that I had left behind and of the friends who were longer at half an hour's distance from me. The new is so exciting in its novelty there simply is no time to think of the old, to miss it, to feel its absence. It still happens to me... When I meet someone new or find something new to do, I get so totally involved in it that I really don't think of family and friends and other people and things.

To come to the second part, we do love making new memories don't we??? Contentment not exactly being inherent to human beings, we are never satisfied with the "quality" of the past, so we keep trying to do more interesting things, so we may tell interesting stories to other people about how interesting we are... my apologies for the sarcasm. I am not advocating contentment. Far from that in fact (considering that I am a restless soul myself!!!). But just something that I think we all do for we all like to have pleasant things to ruminate over in the few luxurious free times that we get during the day!!!

Sunday, 7 October 2007

A little introspection

I've reached a point again where I have run out of words. The happiness, the sadness, the anger... none of it comes out now. It is all there bottled up somewhere inside and I lock and secure the keys every day lest something shows. It is something that I feel I need to do at this point. Put a dam on everyone and everything, hide within. At one level, I don't want to make any doors or windows in that wall. I meant what I said to Dipti today morning - for once I really do want to be like her. To look and not really look. For once I want to keep the promise I made to myself and keep it to the T.

Time to wait life out again... to let things happen... to not let them repeat a third time round... or maybe third time will be lucky... who knows! Life for now is one hell of a vicious circle... I can't express the deja vu enough, can't say it enough times and sometimes I can't believe it myself. The coincidence is too much. Sometimes I think it is because I haven't learnt that particular lesson yet. But then I wonder if I will ever learn it for I am too impatient, in too much of a hurry always and way too restless inside.

This is the first time that I am trying to live like a stranger. I want to but it is so not me. I walked down this path once long time ago, in school. It is as difficult now as it was then. But the thought gives me solace too - If could for three years then I can now too and it is only a question of a few months. It is sad it had to come to this but for once I do say "So be it!!!". I refuse to give even a cent more than I get. Am broke enough as it is and next time may the waves break more softly, more gently and greater fortitude!

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Beauty - Unexpected, Unsought

In the land that is perhaps the most stereotypes in this country, we found beauty, serenity and a feast for the eyes (and the stomach!). Muraura, Nalanda, Rajgir, Gaya - across Bihar we went, much to the collective consternation of our parents. History - so much of it - met us at every step - all the way from 5th century BC.

An Overdose of Bricks and Moss ;)

Old construction and cyclonic rains ensured this. Red and green - beware you might slip if they were underneath your feet! They brought the beauty and the lushness alive - trees looked freshly laundered, so green and not a speck of dust. Vitality soothed the eyes and life brimmed with the sounds of our ecstasy and laughter as we frolicked like little children.

A Hot Water Bath

One of the highlights of our "rural" trip was the swim in the hot sulphur springs at Rajgir. With the place to ourselves (the police had cleared out the junta), the seven of us swam with abandon in the pool, the warm water lapping over us, undoing months of stiffness and stress. As we got out of the pool and changes the most wonderful floaty feeling, nothing would have bothered me that day and I wish I could feel that way everyday of my life - the most blissful, dreamless sleep that 2 hours were almost enough for an entire night. It awoke a new hunger (not just for food as sulphur water does) but for life and living and happiness and that bliss of completeness that was that night.

History Came Alive...

... at the Nalanda ruins as we walked through the ancient university. And yet again at Bodh Gaya. I really can't say much here except to wait a couple of days for the pictures for they really do speak a thousand words... far more eloquently than I can write at any rate!

Bihar

We know it for the the lawlessness and the corruption but now I will always remember it for the beauty and the week of absolute fun that we had there. Wish everyone could see what we saw, be where we were in those 6 days - In a Heaven of our own.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Tomorrow is not really Another Day

The days are exactly the opposite of as slow or as fast as I want them to be. Or rather in retrospect they seem to have flown by and the present crawls along. Tomorrow I won't know where today went but as long as it is today, each moment stands out in sharp relief and I can almost capture it or so I think. But as soon as I wake up in the morning, it is a fresh slate.

I am happy in a way for then there are no grudges, no hurts that are carried over from their previous day. But then I wonder is just a clean slate or a denial of the undesirables that have happened over the past one week? Only time will tell which of those it is and I hope that one day it will truly be the former.

MICA in that sense has been such an emotional roller coaster ride. And, as I wrote in a post long long ago, everything here is magnified, intensified by the isolation, by the fact that it is still there tomorrow. Things seem to play themselves out repeatedly in almost every imaginable permutation and combination but the lock still does not click and the safe is not yet open. One day I might remember the combination that I never knew to begin with - here or elsewhere. But I am getting impatient. I hope that day comes soon.

Till it comes, there is the everyday - work, books, friends, music and writing - MY LIFE as I have lived it so far! Chinar is becoming rather like Kachnar in the emotional meaning that it is beginning to have for me. I am drawn almost everyday to go visit No.18 again. Perhaps to find the sense of peace that I had there as opposed to the restlessness here. I will before this term ends... sit there again before I lose the chance to. Recapture my first year of independence as I prepare myself to leave this place in about half a year. I am suddenly eager for things to move on, to find something new, to get past this Standing in Motion that my time at MICA has been.

Tomorrow is Not Really Another Day - It is just Another Today!

Friday, 14 September 2007

Mental Frameworks (and Fireworks)!

I have been rather restless since I came back to campus two days ago. Today finally, my parents will hand over the keys to our Delhi home and leave. I still don't know how I feel about it. At one level it hasn't really sunk in yet. It will probably only when I go to some other city for my next vacation, or when I go to Delhi and have to stay in a friend's house instead of my home.

One of my oldest friends is leaving the country today for higher studies. Yes, there is the net and we will stay in touch much as we have over the last one year I suppose. But there is the fear of what distance will do to the relationship. What the diversity of experiences will do to our understanding of each other especially when we meet after an year or more.

And then there is the fact that a decision I made is not quite panning out the way I planned it. I cannot seem to find the opportunity to implement the promise I made to myself and yes it is making me restless and angry and highly offensive (not necessarily the best way to go about what I have in mind, I might add!). I hate the fact that fate seems to conspire against me and I am angry that I don't seem to have the strength or the courage to take matters firmly in my own hands and do exactly as I had planned ( maybe there's something here and maybe there isn't). I hope today will be the day that I am able to do that... I am holding onto my resolve rather tightly, saying it aloud as often as I can to convince myself that I will really go ahead. At the same time I know I have to do this more for myself than anyone or anything else.

There's still half the day to go. Let me see what it brings. Maybe there will be another post soon. I rather hope there is. It means things have moved instead of just standing still, in an uncomfortable silence.

And in the end I must raise a toast to my first truly moody post! These mostly go on my hard disk but anyway... I felt like putting this here today.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Illusions

I showed my boarding card to the airline official at the gate, had my hand baggage tag checked by the policeman and got into the waiting bus. My ticket to Delhi had cost me a grand total of Rs. 99 (plus taxes of course!). Still it was cheaper than anything you could have imagined as recently as five years ago. Flight travel has become more affordable than it ever was.

The bus slowly filled up and as it did, my look of dreamy anticipation turned into a frown and then an audible grimace as a woman bumbled in and dropped her bag right over my foot. I just about managed to keep my tongue civil and polite. I took a second look at her and the grimace became disgust. I was so obviously traveling with someone less educated, less privileged than me.

It sounds very nice on the dinner table to comment on how the "standard of living" is improving and how once elitist modes of travel such as flights are becoming accessible to all thanks to liberalisation, competition and low cost airlines! However, as I realised the day before yesterday on that bus, the biases remain. I wasn't very happy when I saw the crowd around me, when I found some of the men staring at my clothes. And then I wonder whether such an equality was a desirable thing?

The elite do hate giving up on their privileges. I like the feeling of exclusivity and so no wonder it is not easy to fight or change the system. We are all too comfortable in the little space that our privileged position allows us to negotiate and live our lives with relatively more freedom. To risk losing that space that comes with belonging to a certain class or caste is not easy, after all it does help me fight oppression as a woman! And so we live in a world of illusory freedom and equality and to get rid of the biases requires an herculean effort (as I am discovering! I still don't know if I want to get rid of them at all!).

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Overwhelmed!

A little overwhelming for one day. 8 films - 7 short films and 1 full feature length film - back-to-back. To be honest, most of it hasn't even sunk in yet. The full impact will probably hit me when I sit down to think about the films, about 9/11, about revolution and what it means to me.

One film though I can say right away struck a chord. Made me smile so instinctively and with such heartfelt joy and pleasure. It was a five minute film about two people who see each other at a toll booth and the man asks the woman out on the radio because he is too shy to approach her directly. So simple and honest in the way it explores the insecurity and fear that each of us feel in such situations, so true to the irresistible urge that makes us take that one step forward. One of the few films that truly brings a feeling of lightness to the mind and yet leaves you feeling enriched by having been part of that one special moment that we all hope for.

As for the rest... in due course of time, when it all sinks in.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

The Day Comes Ever Closer

As the days come closer, the emotions well up. A sudden memory brings a smile of longing, a thought unsettles the peace that I had found only recently. It feels like a paddy transplantation - to be uprooted from one place and planted in another.

I've lived away from Delhi for more than a year now but it remained home. The place I returned to ever so often. The place of comfort, happiness and cherished memories. Growing up - from school to college to MICA - it has been a part of it all. My most cherished memories, the most cherished people in my life.

I remember one night. 3 friends, we had just finished a highly experimental Japanese dinner at this restaurant with my friend's sister and the three of us just decided, at 12 at night, that we wanted to eat ice cream at India Gate. Not that the ice-cream there was anything special but just to stand there, on that long straight road, in the middle of the night, is something else altogether. So, we sat in the car and drove off. My friend driving, me in the passenger seat and the third sleeping on the back seat. We floundered our way through the circles of Lutyen's Delhi, trying to find our way to India Gate on one of our first excursions out alone on the roads. We weren't afraid of getting lost (in a circle, you'll always come back right!) and so what was a 20 minute journey became an hour long one as we wandered through the circles and radials. We did get to India Gate and the ice-creams finally but it is the time spent that mattered, that made the memory.

Many such moments - rediscovering friends on the streets of Chandni Chowk, in sophisticated restaurants, in a cricket stadium; walking endlessly in winter along the wide roads I found friends, loves, became who I am. Every cherished memory belongs there, has its roots there.

The city is still home I guess but that tangible place called home will soon be gone. I know I'll return to that someday but the wait is indefinite. It could be a few months, a few years. I'll see that home for the last time in a few days. Wonder how I will react, how I will let it all go, see it all put into boxes and cartons.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Striking a Chord

The journey through film studies has so far been fascinating. 11 movies from across the world questioning our assumptions and the stereotypes we live by every single day. Last week was perhaps the most difficult and poignant as two movies struck a chord deep within and made me look around, look back and look within me; they heightened my senses and brought more depth into things I had always known.

"TWO WOMEN"

Patriarchy is such an integral part of the society we live in that even the most rebellious of us get co-opted into it. It operates insidiously, not always through beatings and physical abuse; the process so routine that most of us don't even realise that we are being co-opted into our own oppression. And this is not a story of a 'conservative' society where women must wear the veil. It is the story of every modern patriarchal society.

A wonderfully sensitive film set in Iran, Two Women explores patriarchal domination through the lense of a friendship and the journey of the two friends through life. It is the story of how society slowly breaks the confidence of a woman who believed in her ability to conquer the world. Iran is not India and yet the story is so close home that if I close my eyes and look back at the women I have known, I can find at least two who have gone through that same relentless lashing of the water against rocks, dissolving it slowly, eroding, transforming, reducing. The movie brought these women closer to me, I went back and looked at their lives anew, my respect for their fight greater. One of them was a teacher who taught me at a time when I was much to small to understand any of this. She committed suicide. Her image came back so sharply during the film that I could have been 6 years old again.

The second is technically my maid, but I have long since stopped thinking of her in those terms. For 14 years she has been with us and is today as much a part of our family as anyone else in the household. She's a thakur from Madhya Pradesh, daughter of a Congress trade union leader, brought up in Kolkata. Married and packed off to a little village in the interior of MP early in life, she had the gumption to run away with four tiny kids as she realised that she had become nothing but a maid during the day and a sexual object during the night for her truck driver (and for good measure alcoholic!) husband. Rebuffed by her family, a woman who did not know her letters, had no qualifications, and four tiny children to support, packed her bags and one fine day landed in Delhi - a huge sprawling city where she did not know anyone and had no roof over her head.

Her journey to support her children by doing domestic labour has not been an easy one. And the physical labour was the least of the obstacles. Accosted by men, shunned by society for long, acceptance was not easy in coming. Today she is the president of the Mahila Samiti of her slum.

I took a woman's rebellion against oppression for granted for isn't it the natural reaction to any form of oppression? But then I realise now that the oppression itself can become so a part of a person's nature that to take that first mental leap to recognise the need for rebellion itself is so tough and requires a will power far greater than I had imagined.

The story of a confident woman breaking was scary. What was even more scary was the fact that one is forced to become an observer to the transition within oneself as cherished independence turns to clinging dependence, confidence into constant doubt, preventing the protagonist from breaking the bonds that shackled her and held her hostage. It was scary for it could someday happen to me and those like me and I hope then that I can show the same courage as Devi, who was able to leave.

"FUNNY GAMES"

Tom and Jerry has for long been one of my favourite cartoons. Sunday afternoon lunch, I would sit with my entire family and watch as a cat and mouse played out the most rowdy and violent chases. The impact of violence... I'll never be able to watch a Tom and Jerry cartoon quite the same way again. The sheer impact of this movie was enough to freak me out and I can generally sit through some pretty graphic stuff but not when I am expected to fill in the violent sequences from my own imagination; not when the "villain" turns for my approval, smirks and carries on.

The less said here, the more. A movie truly worth watching - it puts a lot of violence in perspective be it war movies or cartoons. It jars you out of the stupor, out of the numbness that settles in when something uncomfortable happens. It forces you to be a part of the process, to feel the pain and the sadism, to see the connection between fiction and reality.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

"Love"

-- From The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.

He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.
When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

PS: I read this today for the nth time... It has always made sense. Tonight it makes more sense than ever before.

Monday, 20 August 2007

In a Moment

"Maasoom si haansi, bewajah hi kabhi honton pe khil jaati hai.
Anjaan si khushi, behti hui kabhi, sahil pe mil jaati hai.
Yeh anjaana sa darr, ajnabi hai magar
Khubsoorat hai jee lene de."
__

Each step forward,
Two back.
Happiness, joy, smiles, giggles;
Confusion, nerves, fear;
Fullness and loneliness.

Walks in solitude,
a breath of fresh air,
the mind comes back to its motley mess.


An hour on the ledge, late at night,
peaceful, quiet, still.
The room as restless, as cluttered as I left it.

The wind, dragonflies and over grown grass,

tempting, alluring, hypnotic.
New memories in old places,
replacing another time, another day long past.
New conversations in place of old ones,
new meanings & new words;
but the same skip of beats.

The sun streams in, bands of light,
the air seems clear.
But it only seems.
The clouds are not far away,
altercation between light and shadow,
changing swiftly, seamlessly.

"Standing in motion",
anticipation brings joy,
the wait is itself so beautiful

Friday, 17 August 2007

For the Love of a Nation

15th August and 26th January are two special days for me. Two days ago I celebrated the 60th anniversary of my country's independence. Every year I wonder what makes that patriotic feeling come alive with such intensity for those of us who have not fought the battle for independence.

I was born in free India; just that side of liberalisation. My country has not been invaded and I have lived through one war that for me was fought on television. Most of the things that are commonly associated with patriotism have not even touched me. I could live the way I live here in many other countries of the world.

But still the tricolour makes me glow with pride and the national anthem gives me goosebumps. Is it because I was taught that a feeling called patriotism exists? Not really. I think it has more to do with the fact that I grew up here. And with the values and culture that my country stands represents in my eyes - its beauty, its diversity, its tolerance. There is something that is common to the way every Indian lives despite the apparent differences - this is generations of socialisation and culturisation at work! There is an Indian politics, an "Indian-ness" to how we think and react. It is a country of a billion cricket lovers, almost as many movie lovers. It is the Indian-ness that I celebrate on 15th August and 26th January.

Then I wonder, what differentiates this from the patriotism that makes people from one country hate people from another; that creates wars and makes people fight? Where is the line between celebrating and destroying, creating a Sarajevo, a Rwanda that hardly seems human anymore?

I wonder as an after thought, how I would react if my country was invaded or attacked in earnest? But then it is - almost everyday. With guns, with words, with actions. So where does the hatred come from? What is the nature of their love and the nature of mine? Why is one inclusive and the other exclusive? And most of all what DOES a nation and its independence mean?

PS: There always seem to be more questions than answers in my head!

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

The Virtue of Selfishness?

Like many other, this post comes out of a chance remark and a short conversation with someone. The person in question told me that he was "selfish" and that that was the greatest virtue. A year ago I would have agreed without qualifying that statement. For I do believe that Selfishness is not only a necessity but also a virtue. But now I see a need to qualify that statement. The need arises because this very person's "selfishness" has hurt not only me but other people as well and so, i question the definition of the term itself and all that it implies.

What is Selfishness?
Is it simply the act of being concerned only with oneself? Essentially, yes. That I believe is the first step towards being selfish. But to leave at that implies several things that I personally construe as negative and undesirable. It means that one is so concerned with oneself that one is willing to step on other's toes, to hurt them, to bring them down to achieve one's own goals. It is this definition that has made a primary concern for one's own welfare a vice.

Selfishness, to me, has to be qualified by a conscious choice to not willfully hurt anyone on the way to one's destination; to not plot to bring someone down to pull oneself up; to be self-contained enough to not use anyone for one's ends but to be able to trade value for value and do things together for mutual benefit.

Should I be concerned with my own needs and desires over everything else? Yes. Should I knowingly hurt others for it? No.

It sounds simplistic and I am not yet satisfied with my answer and I shall continue to look but I cannot deny that I do believe that for me I come before anyone or anything else. And to be that way and yet not hurt others, also I believe, is possible.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

The Unimaginable

(Two posts in a day! Congratulations to myself!!!)

Kids. The word only brings a smile to my face. Innocent, playful, cute beyond description and utterly devoid of adult manipulativeness (they do have a large amount of childish manipulativeness though!). I totally adore little kids, love spending time with them and can baby sit and play with them all day! My friend on the other hand pretty much hates them. Especially the ones whom she does not know.

She and I are similar in most ways. The things we cherish are the same as are most of the things and people we abhor. But not so when it comes to kids and babies. And so, like many other times, I wonder why?

And then the quote I put when I began this blog comes to my mind - "What is unique about the 'I' hides itself in exactly what is unimaginable about a person". So, irrespective of how well I know someone, there is something still unimaginable about that person. Something that I cannot quite put my finger on, understand or explain. And conversely, there would be things about me that seem strange or unfathomable to others I would presume.

These things make each of us what we are and keep that enigma and curiosity alive; making me want to discover more - about myself and my friends. It constitutes the journey that we as people make together, understanding more each day but never quite everything. They make for the surprises and the shocks that break the routine and the mundane; that form the memories that we come to cherish and recollect years later.

Lilting, Meaning...

Songs have so much meaning. I haven’t been able to escape this thought all this past week. Each song seems specially written for something in my life – they squeeze a tear, illicit a smile, make me twirl in joy and curl up in contentment. So perfect and so complete is the joy in a simple desire even though it remains unarticulated and unfulfilled. Just the fact that the desire itself exists irrespective of the object!

Echoes from the past reverberate and new music mingles with it painting a different picture from the last time. Music has been so integral to my life here, at MICA. It has been the constant companion – in solitude and in crowds. It has defined the space I call my own, created the cocoon I return to every night.

In the middle of this musical journey, the orchestra rises in a beautiful melody, full, rich and inspiring. I dance to myself and wait, for the first time, in absolute peace – wait for life and love to happen in its own time.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

The Truth in Letters

“Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither wildly as they slip away
Across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me”

--The Beatles (Across the Universe)

Words sometimes are so apt, so perfect. In rare moments, they state a truth so simply, becoming poetry and music from mere words.

Melodies and lyrics floating in the wind name the nameless; random strains weave to make perfect sense; capturing the memories missed by photos – Memories as they remain in the head and heart.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Ensconced

Unexpected, unsought, a smile suddenly touches
like the way ray of the sun in a cold room.
The warmth cuddles, brings a contagious smile,
eyes tired but bright, twinkle, sparkle, mischief plays on the face.

The moonlight is serene,
awakening many a suppressed thought.
The gentle breeze blows hair across the face,
the simple act of removing it, fulfilling.

Life blooms as flowers open their faces,
look to the sun.
Incandescent light wipes out dark recesses,
gives new meaning to unlit corners.

Untouched, unthought, un-analysed,
replete and complete,
a few seconds in a long day,
a smile, a ray of light, warmth invading the cold.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Of One Heart and One Mind

A thought has been running around in my mind for a while now. The popular sentiment around the world is that it is the heart that feels while the mind thinks. However, I disagree. Over the last few days, I feel my mind feeling not just thinking. The emotions that I experience everyday are my mind and nowhere else. It does not make them any less intense than if they were coming from the "heart". Without the mind there would be no emotions as there would be no thoughts. Emotions and thoughts are both by products of each other - yin and yang - and they co exist in the same space, feeding on each other, nourishing, depleting.

And maybe this is why relationships are so complex - because we never identify the source of our emotions or thoughts. Nothing comes from thin air. A baby is born innocent, like a blank slate. The thoughts begin with observations, with the senses, with making the connections between the senses; emotions with the experience of the sense.

I wonder sometimes how to define these emotions that we give names to. They are so vast, so intricate, so enmeshed with opposites - a sum of every moment gone by and every moment to come; of every thought and every belief. I have felt this way more so after the last two movies that I saw. We think the choices are simple but then you wonder how a woman can accept her trans-gender husband, how a father can hate his child because he is blind and how he can then grow to love him more than life itself. What makes their emotions so enduring, so powerful?

This journey of self discovery through movies grows more wonderful each day as I reach within myself, question, find, and realise.


Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Coming a full circle

Slippery moss, rain wet bricks,
Fallen leaves
Abundant nature.
Overwhelming in her dominance,
frightening in her metaphors,
smiling in her benevolence.

The rainbow against the grey sky -
A flash of white, a spark of colour -
A warmth that envelops the chill.

Violent, gentle;
creator, destroyer;
agony, ecstasy.

She gives but it must be returned,
"Earth to earth and ashes to ashes,"
cyclical yet unpredictable.
The scales balance,
an eye for an eye,
without the world going blind.

Beautiful, bleak;
vibrant, monochromatic.

Spring explodes with the vengeance of an artist,
birds call - mate finds mate.
They come together, they part,
autumn leaves fall.
The last of the reds turn into a white winter.

Peaceful, Serene, Content.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

The Politics of Identity

Mathew has raised several questions in his sessions so far pertaining to art, religion, race, gender, class, caste and sexuality. Every thing betrays a certain politics, a set of beliefs that we as individuals hold. But more than that, the theme that runs through every discourse is that of discrimination.

It naturally leads me to question why we discriminate against another human on the basis of stereotypes. Are we all inherently incapable of tolerance and acceptance? If that is indeed so then human civilization is doomed to self-destruction. However, being the eternal optimist and believing in the goodness of human nature, I am inclined to think better no just about the fate of mankind but also about our capacity to be inclusive and celebrate difference.

The main problem with regard to discrimination and the ensuing persecution, to me lies in how we as individuals create and define our identity. The problem stems from the fact that we define individual identities in terms of collectives. Why, for eg, should 'Indian' or 'Tamilian' define me as a person? Yes, I am both of those. But is that all I am? There is something that distinguishes me from every other human being, be it a fellow Indian or an American. Why can that not be the focus of my identity?

While collective identities are highly useful in describing a geographical area or a set of socio-cultural practices followed by a group, they are also prone to stereotyping. And discrimination as a phenomenon hinges on the ability to stereotype and generalise people without paying attention to their uniqueness as individuals. It is only with generalisation that one acquires the ability to unfairly discriminate without even knowing the individual in question or having a rational reason to do so.

Group identity becoming primary also implies that each group now views itself as excluding or as being greater than any other group eyeing the same resources. Scarcity leads to a quest for dominance and while this is played out at the level of individuals as well, it becomes much more dangerous when the same zero-sum game operates at the level of collectives. For, a collective does not have rationality. An angry mob is infinitely more dangerous than an angry individual.

Lastly, none of these group identities can claim an over arching legitimacy. The only exception to this is Gender. By being a physical and objective fact, gender acquires a legitimacy that is beyond opinions and interpretation. However, how we perceive and use gender is of course open to contention. All other group identities are creations by man and there is no over riding reason or rationality to why one is superior to the other. The simple existence of difference, and this applies to gender as well, is not an indication of a superiority-inferiority equation. So, the claim to superiority of any collective identity must be called into question.

Even so, all said and done, it is not possible to do away with group identities altogether. The obvious obstacle that comes up here is that we are a highly interdependent species and moreover, each group has evolved distinct practices that set them apart and also bind the individuals who claim membership to that group. Each collective has a history and a present that cannot be denied or wiped out at this stage of human civilization.

What can be achieved, and is necessary in the long run, is to recognise both the uniqueness and the importance of the individual and to make that the primary identity as opposed to any group membership that the individual might hold.

Idealistic, but maybe if we work towards it we can prevent genocide and exploitation, stop the slaughter that could lead to the self destruction of the most evolved species on this planet.


Wednesday, 11 July 2007

???

To question what one has been brought up with is a difficult thing to do - uncomfortable and disconcerting. Is it a wonder then that when someone, in this case a teacher of film studies, provokes us to do so, many of us think that the course is "F*** all".

I sat at the dinning table in the mess yesterday after a particularly powerful movie that this professor had shown us with two of my friends and we debated whether the course should be a compulsory one at all.

At one level, i feel it should be entirely optional. Intellectually, films and culture studies (or any other discipline, for that matter) require a commitment that comes only when the choice to study it is voluntary. Forcing it down a person who does not want to study it serves no purpose whatsoever; minds cannot be pried open with a pair of pliers!

On the other hand, the questioning attitude that Mathew provokes, is I feel, somewhere essential. We are too complacent and too comfortable in our own cocoons. All 94 0f us come from varied socio-economic backgrounds and have been brought up with varying degrees of 'conservativeness'/'liberalness'. While MICA has stripped away many of our inhibitions, none of us yet have questioned our personal value systems that determine our choices, the inconsistencies that have creeped into our way of life here, the double meanings and contextual ethics that justify everything in life. So is it wrong to introspect, to discover the reasons why we hold the beliefs and values that we do as individuals and the impact that they have on our lives and that of those around us?

Discussions on gender and sexuality are uncomfortable. It does pinch a little to think of starvation on a full tummy. But it makes me appreciate my own life much more; motivates me to enjoy every moment as fully as I can. It also puts life, its troubles and decisions in perspective.

The other compelling argument that one of my friends made in favour of the class being compulsory was this - it is ultimately the choice of the individual whether (s)he chooses to think on these lines or not. Someone who does not consider gender an important issue need to listen or remember anything said in class. The class might be compulsory but the decision to introspect, look around at the world and question things is not.

Then again, the response of my other friend got me thinking. How many of us truly believe that we have a choice in everything; that nothing can be forced on us - be in happiness or sadness or critical thinking. Free will is not restricted to physical action but to mental effort as well. And to that extent each of us is affected only to the extent that we want to be. As a corollary then, we are also responsible for everything that happens to us. Is it the evasion of that responsibility that makes us unbelievers of freedom of the mind?

To me at least, on a purely personal level, this is a highly exciting course, one that is prompting me to push the limits of my mind and embark on yet another journey of self-discovery, of understanding myself and my beliefs and my actions.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

A Second Beginning

I haven't written here in quite a while; something that I suspected might happen once I got back to MICA. The rains have made the campus lush, setting off the green with the brick red of the buildings. A peacock left me speechless with its beauty and grace as I ate a bowl of hot maggi at chota. Its blue-green feathers set off the dull grey sky, adding a touch of glamour and vibrance to a bleak and damp day.

Campus is abuzz with activity but I still feel that distance. That wall that never lets me be a part of this place completely. The first year made me a woman from a girl. I want to see if I can find that girl again, or at least a part of her, for I find I enjoy womanhood too.

The tranquility of the monsoon air sets in; its fragrances putting the mind to rest. Memories of moments past create anticipation of the moments to come. A term that is filled not just with studies and career choices but also fun, frolic and parties. In this gaiety, I wonder how much I will write. A batchmate commented casually the other day that people write on blogs only when they are angry or sad or want to criticise something. I want to do none of that now. Just to absorb and to live each moment of the next 9 months. So let me see how much I write in mirth and gaiety or do I turn hither only when I need a listening ear that will not judge my deeds.

Monday, 18 June 2007

A Rare Day

I had a rare Sunday. Rare, because, thinking back I see that there have been far few of such Sundays (or even other days!) in the last one year. I stirred lazily, and spent most of the day curled up on my bed reading a book. I experience the rare pleasure of finishing a book after reading it for almost 3 hours continuously. The relief and the ecstasy and the closure is mirrored by nothing else in life.

It was a day uncluttered by anything else, when random thoughts did not enter my head; when I was completely at peace, not asking any questions, not seeking any answers.

The evening wind blew, bringing the smell of rain. The sunset over the lake nearby; the twilight sky transforming from azure to the darker midnight blue. The trees blossom in rain, getting their much needed nourishment. It is the time of the year that makes me happy. I want to twirl in the rain and dance to my favourite songs; hum those lilting melodies; recall everything of the past with a smile.

That rare day of contentment has passed but the peace and the smile both remain as does the charm - refreshing, rejuvenating.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Wangdoodle


My wangdoodle for the day from Dipti... Pssst it's Wenger's and Dipti's camera is haunted. It takes these mouth watering, wangdoodley pictures all on its own!!!

Autumn

All year a tree spends its time nourishing its leaves and fruit but come autumn, it must shed some of these leaves to preserve itself and ensure its own health and survival. Not all these leaves are dead but they are abondoned by the tree for they take up too much of its precious, and now scarce energy.


I like to think of people as trees (moving trees!), the branches and leaves being the bonds, friendships and relationships we form with other people. There comes an autumn in our lives too, more than one in fact, we we must break some of these bonds, part ways from those who were once friends.


It is not painless though. For they are not dead leaves but real living people that one has invested time and effort in. To consciously cut someone off takes as much out of me as does making a relationship, what ever its nature, work. But the breaking off is as necessary for the heart as for the head, for I must now stand up to what I believe in. Even in a place where judgments are never made, in a society free of rectitude, I must still make my judgment and not fall prey to hypocrisy of the world that I have inhabited this past year.


The Autumn now fades slowly as the last of the leaves of the year past fall making way for the beauty of clarity and sparseness. New leaves will bloom in the springs to come.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

A Veritable Specimen of the Human Species!

The silence of solitude broken by a ring,
protective shields fall away and yet cling on.
Instead of rejoicing in the free air,
there is the dank smell of fear and nerves.

There comes a time in each of our lives when we leave the home of our parents and venture out on our own; discover life, freedome, responsibility and joy of doing things for oneself.

But for every yin there is a yang. So while most people I know of my generation are self sufficient, cocky, arrogant 20 somethings (not at all a bad thing in my opinion!), here is a meek, towel wrapped overgrown baby venturing into the big bad world of business (I am making a very optimistic assumption that my new roomie makes it through the CAT).

After 10 days of complete solitude and having the room to myself, in walks this 21 year old girl with the gumption of a 0.2 year old kid. "First time out of home"!

It is abt 7 in the morning. I am still comfily tucked in bed, curled up with my little teddy, tossing n turning lazily. A corny tere liye ringtone shocks me out of the last traces of a pleasant dream. I frown and look for the source of the noise -

Daddy Dear Calling

Good Morning!
Brushed your teeth?
Had your biscuits?
Had a bathe?
Started studying?
Had Lunch?
Woke up after siesta?
Where are you?
Hows the evening going?
What's your roomie doing? Is she back? (thankfully this happens in one call and not two!)
Had dinner? Did your roomie eat?
Are you going to sleep? Good night then!

Morning Again!! (GROAN FROM THE NEXT BED!!!!)

The sister and Boyfriend also make all these calls. (Sigh! Can I kill Alexander Graham Bell? How nice the world was without cellphones!)

Little Things

A mundane trip to the chemist for a few necessities is a source of fear, nervousness and embarassment; a can ride alone to a new part of the city is unthinkable.

Where such people come from I wonder! Instead of enjoying the free air, there is the claustrophobia of nerves and fear!

Monday, 11 June 2007

Good and Evil


I don't normally copy paste stuff on my blog but this is something that set me thinking. It is a conversation that Gregory David Roberts writes about in his book Shantaram between the author and a mafia don Khader Khan. The don is explaining his idea of Good and Evil to Roberts. See what you make of it -

"'The Universe has a nature, for and of itself, something like human nature, if you like, and its nature is to combine, and to build and to become more complex. It always does this. if the circumstances are right, bits of matter will always come together to make more complex arrangements. And this fact about the way that our universe works, this moving towards order, and towards combinations of these ordered things, has a name, In the western science it is called the tendency toward complexity, and it is the way the universe works.

... this universe that we know began in almost absolute simplicity, and it has been getting more complex for about 15 billion years... It is moving toward... something. It is moving toward some kind of ultimate complexity. We might not get there... But we are all moving towards it... everything in the universe is moving towards it. And that final complexity , that thing we are all moving to, is what I choose to call God. If you don't like that word, God, call it the Ultimate Complexity. Whatever you call it, the whole universe is moving towards it.

... Anything that enhances, promotes, or accelerates this movement toward the Ultimate Complexity is good. Anything that inhibits, impedes, or prevents this movement towards the Ultimate Complexity is evil. The wonderful thing about this definition of good and evil is that it is both objective and universally acceptable.

... In order to know about any act or intention or consequence, we must first ask two questions. One, what would happen if everyone did this thing? Two, would this help or hinder the movement towards complexity?

... In the case of killing,' Khader continued, after he'd sipped the tea through a cube of white sugar. 'What would happen if everyone killed people? Would that help or hinder? Tell me.'

'Obviously, if everyone killed people, we would wipe each other out. So... that wouldn't help.'

'Yes. We human beings are the most complex arrangements of matter that we know of, but we are not the last achievement of the universe. We too, will develop and change with the rest of the universe. But if we kill indiscriminately, we will not get there. W e will wipe out our species, and all the development that led to us across millions of years - billions of years - will be lost. The same can be said for stealing.

... This is why killing and stealing are wrong - not because some book tells us they are wrong, or law tells they are wrong, or a spiritual guide tells us they are wrong, but because if everyone did them we would not move towards the ultimate complexity that is God, with the rest of the universe.'"

There is an immediacy about talking. Ideas and reactions flow back and forth, stimulating the mind, forcingit to think on its feet and respond within a few seconds. Unpredictable, spontaneous, animated and full of vigour and energy. I have had no problems, for the 21 years of my young life, with gabbing away. In fact, people who know me intimately often wish I would just shut up and give my overactive mouth and larynx some rest.

However, love as I do to talk, I always find greater peace and satisfaction in writing. The satisfaction comes from the fact that writing requires you to be precise and exact. There are so many times that have typed entire paragraphs and then pressed delete because on giving it a second reading I find that it doesn't quite say what I wish to. The chance to revise and to redo gives me a greater articulateness that I love. The mental effort, the play of words and the possibility of reading it again and again and yet again; the notion of permanence give an immense satisfaction - to know that your idea will exist forever, for people to read.

There is peace in writing for it allows me the luxury of saying what I want to without being interrupted or contradicted. It gives me the feeling that I am the only person in the world. Paper (and now the computer screen) is the most non-judgmental of all things, accepting everything that I chose to put on it.

I started this blog on a chance conversation. Slowly but surely it has become a place where I can say the things that I am not able to articulate verbally or simply things that slip out of mind. It has also become a medium for interacting with my closest friends on a different plane altogether. I have learnt not only about myself but about them as well. While our conversations have always been stimulating and energetic, this medium has brought with it more thought and consideration.

To be honest, it is not something I expected. I did not expect any of us to discover anything startling about the other, only gentle reaffirmations of what we already knew. That however, has not been the case. We've discovered more similarities and differences that I had hoped to in this short span of just 2 months. And as the physical distances between us grow, and we find our own paths in life, I'd like to believe that this will keep the mental wavelengths in tune.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Straightjackets

Human beings are the most complex creatures on this planet. So difficult to predict in their reactions, each so staggeringly different from the other. They come in all shapes and sizes - short and tall, fair and dark, thin and fat, calm, moody, temperamental. It takes years to get to know someone and they can still surprise you with a fair bit of ease. We spend lifetimes together without ever knowing everything about a person.

However, if you have ever conducted a market survey, you will realise how easily people are straight-jacketed. I presume, questionnaires were the beginning of stereotyping since the beginning of civilization.

Do you read this? Do you watch this? How old are you? where do you live? Oh so then in that case this is how you must be thinking!

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

The Forbidden Fruit


When God created the garden of Eden, he put Adam there and told him all was his to tend and to eat except for the fruit from the tree right in the center of the Garden - fruit from the tree of knowledge. He then created Eve to give Adam company. When the serpent spoke to Eve, he enticed her into eating the fruit of the tree and giving it to Adam as well. And so were Adam and Even banished from the blessed garden forever.

Now, before anyone jumps to any conclusions, this is not a post on religion, god or knowledge. I simply find the story suitable to illustrate a very personal point of my own. I seem to seek the forbidden fruit too often too. I shove far from me that and those who come easily. That which withdraws from me, I wish it closer. I fight many a losing battle and am yet again reminded of Rhett's words to Scarlett, "you only want what you cannot have!" Well so do I. What I can have, that which is at arm's reach, I do not want. I run from it as far as I can. That which I cannot have, I wait for - sometimes in glorious euphoria and at other times in wrenching loneliness.

Someday maybe the parallel lines shall meet. Till then the forbidden remains forbidden (though I would much rather be banished from Eden than wait!).

A Taxi Conversation

Whenever anyone says the word EGO, the first notion is extremely negative – of a person who blows his/her own trumpet, is completely insensitive to others, highly unlikeable, pompous, bombastic and so on and so forth. But I wonder how any of us exist without an ego. For an ego, in technical terms is what makes each one of us conscious of ourselves. It is the ‘I’ and however much interdependent we may be, the need and will to co-operate comes out of an overriding concern for the well being of the ‘I’ and the ‘ME’.

I was in a taxi with two of my colleagues on my way to grab some lunch the other day when one of them, after a heated conversation on the phone, exclaimed, “I hate people with egos!” It is at such times that I feel we use the English language too loosely, that words loose their true meaning, that we say things we do not mean and mean things that we do not say. I pointed out to her that it is people with ego issues that are a problem, not people with egos as such.

And that precisely is my whole point here. What is unlikeable is the fact that people think that concern for oneself and one’s betterment must necessarily involve pulling another person down; that there is only room for one person in this world. Completely untrue. I believe it is possible to better yourself without hurting other people – whether in a materialistic or emotional sense. In fact it is necessary that it be so. If the sole purpose of one man’s progress is another man’s destruction then mankind would have become extinct long ago and I wouldn’t be writing this. However, interdependence works only when each of us recognises the importance of independence.

I know I sound extremely Rand-ian here, but I think she has a point. Men must interact as traders. We must respect each others ego. And such comments as the one made in the taxi serve only to irk me not only because of improper use of knowledge but also because most people just don’t realise what they are saying; that they tare being hypocrites when they make statements like that without qualifying them.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Ramblings of a Bored Mind!

I sit and talk meaningless inanities all day. The wait is endless... oh for that one moment that shall give purpose to an otherwise purposeless day in office.
I admire workaholic people for their devotion to their task. However, when it eats into my time - keeping me jobless for a large part of my working day and then insisting that I stay back - I want to holler! I wait and I wait and I wait some more for my boss to get free. He just doesn't seem to. My mind wanders in a very mundane direction. I grow increasingly grubby and with it cranky. How indispensible can a man be?
There is an old recitation - oft quoted in my school assembly - about the measure of an indispensible man. And I am sure if my boss were to put his hands into that bucket of water, the result would be pretty much the same. So why then can he not finish briefing me before taking up meeting for hourso n steel racks? I assure you briefing me is a smalled task - just about 15 min.
I have finished chatting with all the people I can and I write this post in utter frustration, in a last ditch attempt to evade the boredom that threatens to envelope me and transform my good mood of days into one of grumpy sourness. I look forward to chicken soup which I shall buy if my energy sustains me - 2 dry rotis and vegetables that a sick man wouldn't eat are not sustenance enough for me. I ramble on in utter joblessness and maybe I should stop before I stop making sense all together.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

A Million and One Memories


I realise I don't have photos to capture everything... but nevertheless... here is a feeble attempt! More to follow... As many as I can. This post will be updated soon!

Monday, 28 May 2007

To Do or Not To Do?

Hamlet once asked a similar question. And though mine is not as existential a question, I feel something akin to the emotion that Shakespeare must have had in mind when he wrote that famous line.

It is a rather small thing that is bothering me, a simple matter really. But then again it is not so simple. I feel like an infant who refuses to walk for fear of getting hurt or falling. And then there is my humungous ego. Howmuch ever I try not to, I can't help getting a little egotistic at times.

The confusion at times is grave enough to drive me to tearing my hair out or other such foolish nonsense. Then i take hold of myself firmly and set myself some highly idiotic deadlines. I admit they do work, albeit for a short while. And there are distractions - neither powerful enough nor attractive enough. But mulling over them serves a temporary purpose - it keeps my mind occupied. I count the days to 22nd June.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

My Tara




In a few short months, I will no longer call that flat home. It is time to say another goodbye. My parents get ready to move out of Delhi for good. Not me yet. I cannot live without breathing that air, seeing those sights. The city is what is home to me, not just the house my parents live in. My heart is still there in more ways than one. Much still pulls me back, too many strings bind me to the only city that will ever truly be home. I find so much peace there, such belonging and a love that warms my blood. To the city that has given me happiness and memories that I will cherish forever I can only say I feel like Scarlett O'Hara and that Delhi is my Tara!

P.S: Thanks to dips for the polaroid collage idea!


Tuesday, 22 May 2007

A Rainy Day

The sky turned a deathly black. At 4 in the afternoon it seemed like midnight. If this were a mystery or thriller, the sky would be the perfect way to begin it. Inside the cooped up, centrally air conditioned office, there’s not much else you can experience anyway, other than marvel at the absolute blackness of the clouds. For a moment, I wanted to grab them and prick them with a pin so they would burst!

I stepped out to the terrace nearby. A crowd stood there. I wriggled my way to the front; felt the wind blow at my top and my hair, drops of rain reaching the covered alcove between the office and the terrace. The drops wanted to fall somewhere, they fell somewhere else, skidding in the wind. A pot lay on its side, its leafless stalk long dead and now battered by the rain. A coconut tree sways in the distance, defying its weight and bowing to the fearsome wind. I clutch the bottom of my top, lest it fly too high. In the midst of all this a little pink flower blossoms, delicate, innocent, beautiful.

The lights go on, throwing their warm yellow light on cream coloured walls, giving them a welcoming glow. The chill wind seems even more welcome.

The earth smells fresh, as though it is beginning anew, giving life to all that it can. The trees seem greener, the undergrowth more lush. There is music in every sound including the cab horns; the rumble of the thunder; the soft music in the distance. I want to sing. I sit in the cab, windows rolled down, humming to myself, at one with the world, a soft smile on my lips.

It is the perfect evening to sit by the window, feeling the wind and the water, a cup of hot coffee in hand, music in the room, blending with nature’s song.

PS: I wrote this yesterday. It could just as well have been today.


Love & Hate

Love. A year ago, I would have followed it up with peace, happiness, contentment, smiles and a few more adjectives of a similar kind. Now I also add to that list restlessness, a constant curiosity, insecurity, and occassional irritation.

Before I am accussed of pessimism, let me clarify. Love is never only about beaming at the ceiling. So much more accomapnies it. So much that I at least did not expect. It is a wonderful journey, it is something I would love to repeat (now that my first trip is finally over!). But it is not without its bumps and potholes.

Often, Love and Hate (oxymoronic as they sound) collide even today. I feign indifference often. I only fool the others. I can never fool myself into it. They are two sides of the same coin and the complete blank that is indifference I will never achieve (nor do I want to. I have cared too much to throw it all away.)

The journey is over and I am finally home. The memories like a photo album tucked away in a corner... a small, dark corner. Sometimes I switch on the light and I stare in hope for a richer, fuller album; something I can put in a frame on my desk. Sometimes I go so far as to fetch it out and turn the first few pages. Then I feel like the man in White Nights, living half a fantasy. So I shake my head and bring myself back to my world. Sometimes I feel like tearing it, but I cannot bring myself to do so. Someday, I might yet laugh when I see those photographs. For now, I lock the cupboard, pack my bags, and get ready for a new journey.

Note:
This was written about a month ago. I chose not to put it up then. I do now, for while I am not indifferent, I am less restless and more at peace today.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

The Best Within Us

This train of thought has been started off by reading the first post on my brother's new blog. Why do we need to believe in a superior being and how do we explain this to our rational selves (forgive me for paraphrasing)?

Any discussion on God always sets me thinking. Let me explain why. I don't like going to temples, I don't pray and I positively detest religious rituals. Part of this aversion is due to the religious intolerance that I have seen and read about. I don't think "God" meant for any of this to happen in his/her name. The other part of this aversion comes from the discomfiture that rituals cause me - hot, sweaty, noisy rooms is not my idea of spirituality or inner peace.

When most people ask me, I say I am atheistic because God is commonly associated with religion. I find atheistic an easy way to explain the above. But in actuality I think God is a matter of perspective. Whether one believes in God or not depends on what one defines as God. If God were to be, carte blanche, defined as a supernatural being, then yes I am atheistic.

In his post, my brother offers a slightly different definition. I am going to take the liberty of twisting it around a little. Throughout history, prophets of different faiths, have demonstrated the ability to rise above their peers in their outlook towards human civilization and individuals. To me it is this ability that is God. For it is this that makes civilization possible. The ability that each of us have to better ourselves, to reach beyond the given, has been the foundation of progress. It has allowed the human race to evolve instead of stagnating in the caves. This quest to resolve the unknown, to accept, embrace and better.

And that is why we need to believe. We need to believe that we can move beyond, and surpass our ancestors. Learn from them and take that knowledge further. To me it is the best within us that is God. And yes, to believe in the best within us is not so much a question of faith but an act of necessity and human nature.

P.S: I seem to be blogging with a vengeance today

 

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