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


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.