Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reality, go away…

After copying and pasting other people’s ideas and thoughts, the ones that resonated with mine, it’s time for me pen down my own thoughts…well, does it really matter? People rarely stumble on my blog; even if they do, they don’t find my writing compelling enough to stir out a response. But, is that the only reason why I must write…for people to respond? Nothing could be more pathetic a reason a write. But, what could possibly be a reason for one to write…to lighten yourself? Or, for a transient high at seeing one’s ability to commit to virtual screen the subjective reality of one’s thoughts? Now these are more pathetic reasons to write…well, to say that am writing just because I want to write, without any expectations—I don’t want you to respond to what I have to say…am not inviting you for a discussion…am not even hoping you would have read so much to get till here—I believe is a ‘safe’ reason to write.

Somebody I admire a lot once said, “for some reason fiction dances out of me, whereas nonfiction is wrenched out.” She couldn’t be more correct. In real life, dreams happen/dance out of you as if they were there always, like a pleasant green meadow or a clear sky. And, events (reality!) are so out of place (wrenched out of you) like a parched dry land in the middle of an enormous ocean! Why do these things happen? Is this some sort of mystical law? The law that unites/homogenizes all things? Is this the law of subjective reality? Is my reality something so very far removed from the reality of person A? Is person A’s reality only a dream for me? Then, the law of unity doesn’t apply anymore, because my universe is governed by a different set of laws. Then, in that case, I need to be in a different plane of existence, where I don’t have to compete with someone whose reality has been only my dream. That person can never become an ‘ideal’ for me. I need a different world…a world that has no control…a world where I can be what I am…where I am not told to behave like a woman…where I don’t have to stay ‘where’ I am supposed to be…where the dalit is not a dalit; just a human. Where people don’t crush each other through economics, skin color, ‘God’s word,’ body type, or institutions like marriage, patriarchy, and capitalism.

How much longer will it take for dreams to come back…reality is sickening!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Simi, please shut up!

After watching the latest episode of We the People on NDTV last night, to say I am numbed is simply an understatement. Of the many things that irk me about NDTV is the type of people they give air time! Simi was one of the panelists, and guess what type of solutions she was rattling of to contain terror! Stop paying taxes! Wah! What else can she think of, even at this hour of intense grief and anger? Even at this hour, Simi is bothered only about how her ‘hard-earned’ tax money is spent! So, if she doesn’t have to pay taxes, she’s ok with the terror attacks, eh? What skewed logic does this excuse for a human have!

Then, she tells Barkha to go atop some high-rise hotels and check out the flags flying in the slums around. She says, you’ll not find the congress party’s or the shiv sena’s; it’s Pakistani flags! I wonder if there are countries where one can be given life imprisonment for talking nonsense. First of all look at her ignorance and stupidity in equating the congress and the shiv sena! Then, the outright illiteracy when she declares the muslim/islam flag to be Pakistani flags! Can’t she see the coincidence? Is she also blind, besides being stupid? God help this country from idiots like these…

Monday, December 1, 2008

Weird Ad Sense!

A rather odd-looking antique car zips past dry fields. In a twinkling of an eye, you see the reason for the oddity—the headlights are replaced by half-naked young boys. Another young boy dressed similarly tries to take a shorter route to reach the car’s destination on foot! He runs just in time to climb down into the Raja’s chandlier before the Raja, coming by car, sits for his food. There’s just time enough for the half naked boy to climb into his spot in the chandlier and pop a mouth freshener that whitens his teeth enough to replace a light bulb. He shows his teeth in a plastic smile just in time for the ‘lights’ to be on before the Raja is seated for dinner! There are several other boys munching the same mouth freshener and replacing light bulbs in the garden where the royal ladies are playing shuttle cock. They are also there around the fence of the palace with their smiles; they are there in every nook and cranny of the royal chambers, ‘lighting’ up the palace. This is an ad for “Happy Dent,” mouth freshner!
What a strange way to advertise for a mouth freshener! Is this absolute death of creativity or the outright arrogance of the upper classes that has blinded them to their own stupidity? Isn’t there a law or something that prohibits such brazen display of feudalism? By the way, isn’t feudalism and slavery illegal? Isn’t this a marker of human rights violation? All said and done it’s just a horrible excuse for an ad that must be banned on the basis of supporting illegal practices and also for lacking in basic aesthetic sense.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hey patriots!

Beware of the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry, [who] infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How will I know? For this I have done. And I am Julius Caesar

Friday, October 31, 2008

Strange Fruit

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some thoughts…

Again, as is the case with my writings, this was also spurred by a rather angry exchange between two sisters…

So much for the prelude…my case is this: Too much of ‘modern’ thinking is makes people extremely individualistic, inward looking, and absolutely averse to any kind of collective work. Obviously, the next question is, how does one define modernism…

At the risk being ridiculed by many clear-thinking people, I attempt to construct my ideas here. I do believe and understand the idea of space and independent thinking and ideas, but at what cost? Who calls the shots about whose space can be taken and whose cannot be. Where is mutual aid? Where are the responsibilities that come with living together?

I have always been a proponent of people over the age of 18 having their own home and that policies need to be lobbied for a change that will enable young people support themselves financially and socially. However, given the ‘development’ that our country has seen in the last 60 years, I guess this type of living is out of bounds for the majority in our country. In that case what does one do? Wait till you are 25 or 30 when you are financially independent to make your move? But, by then the social fabric of family catches up, and familial obligations rule the roost with the need to create families without really going into hows and whys reigning supreme in one’s mind.

Given this scenario, do we even have the concept of space? Of individuality? Of the realization of one’s dreams? Of the collective failure that we as a family, community, and country are facing? Is it possible that the whole nature of space is either eulogized or ridiculed? Have we failed to balance? Have we failed to understand the other because each one of us is so busy looking only at ourselves? That too only through the eyes of the other, in which case we fail by default!

Then, the question about balancing…is there a real balance? Many a young people have untold problems about their parents, which incidentally is healthy especially considering catastrophic effects of being in the my-parents-are-god state. The point is when the situation is such that one has live with one’s family and there’s no way out, how does one make it work without threatening the basic fabric of life? This is where problems with too much knowledge and no application comes. When we understand too much about patriarchy and its hold on people and how it has destroyed women’s and chidren’s lives, isn’t it more important for young people to change this world order sensitively?

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there maybe in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud andaggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in theface of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things ofyouth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You area child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

--- Max Ehrmann, 1927

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Memories

As the years roll, when memories fade into oblivion, the only recourse that one can take to preserve the beautiful memories is putting them down in black and white…I miss…

The days I would hang on to the window hoping to see the smiling face of an uncommonly common man cycle toward my house every evening…

The days when the smartest woman in my world walk towards my home every evening and I running into her arms…

The days when I would simply give up my share of ‘yummy’ snacks to the little hairy thing born 5 years after me…

The days when I opened my new textbooks to smell them…

The days when daddy covered my notebooks with brown paper, and when they tore with the back of calendar sheets…

The days when I used to be thrilled to get ‘free’ labels to stick on my notebooks…

The days when I got excited about learning a new subject because history and geography came only after class 1 and botany, zoology, physics and chemistry only after class 6…

The days when I didn’t care about getting wet in the rains or getting leg sores…

The days when I would walk on the road and sing without people staring at me…and, then suddenly imagine myself to be riding the street hawk bike and speed past people like a tornado…

The days when I would feel an enormous sense of achievement and pride at being able to recite 10 bible verses…

The days when we’d go to early morning church services and wait for them for the whole year…

The days when an outing to the beach or fair was an annual event…

The days when playing was necessarily in the outdoors…

The days when being able to look into the well and spite into it when no one watched was a big secret…

The days when digging a pit with garden hovels was a big deal…

The days when watching wild honey being harvested from the trees in your house was common…

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ek choti si kahani...


“Oh my God, what’s this?” my domestic help let out a squeal as she entered the balcony to sweep it. The balcony was filled with all kinds of debris because my neighbors upstairs were renovating their house. “You tell them to clean up the place, I will only sweep it, am not throwing it out,” my domestic help said decisively. Being a Tamilian in Delhi is not a very easy thing, especially if Hindi isn’t exactly at your disposal, even if you had studied it with √©lan and even won a scholarship for scoring high marks! Well, I did all this in Tamil Nadu, where one emotion that unites ALL Tamilians irrespective of their class or caste is the raw hatred they feel towards Hindi! Incidentally, my accountant at one of my workplaces in Chennai refused to smile at me the moment he saw that I had studied Hindi in school! Boy, it is one of those things in life where you don’t have a choice! Mom and dad in their dreams of seeing their daughters in ‘comfortable’ central government jobs put us in Hindi sections despite the smirks from all and sundry!

Anyway, my help had decided that I must definitely talk to the neighbor, and I started composing my lines in chaste Hindi..aka..my text book Hindi. I decided that I must be my polite best even if the neighbor irritates me, which delhities do so well. Actually, am not exaggerating. If you are a single woman, a tamilian, dark, smart, and have a go-getter attitude with friends visiting you in cars, cycles, and autos, you have had it from the neighbors, even if you are living in a south Delhi apartment. Well, I don’t say that evry one in delhi is like this, but even sane, good people behave differently if you fit in the above description. Anyway, as I was rehearsing my lines near the sink, my eyes fell on the bathroom window! It was gone! Yes, the glass was completely smashed. The sight set me on fire, all my tamilian passion fueled the fires, a strange mix of tamilian pride and feministic anger surfaced and my chaste Hindi was in no time replaced with some choicest expletives from Tamil, Hindi and English. I rushed upstairs, taking two steps at a time and banged the door of the ‘over-smart’ North Indian neighbor. A 16-year-old guy opened the door and moved away to hold a doggie away from me. Of course, the doggie did mellow down the anger, but I was in no way prepared to face what happened next.

A middle-aged woman entered the room and greeted me with one of most beautiful smiles I have seen. I melted at the very sight and gasped for breath and words, forgetting all the rehearsed lines. I looked at the doggie for inspiration, he nodded. Taking that as some sort of divine intervention, I quietly explained to the neighbor about the broken glass and the debris on my balcony. She cheerfully said, “beta, aap nahi rehate ho nah, isiliye hum saaf nahi kar sake.” (Daughter, you are not here during the day dear, that why we are not able to clean it.) Then, I mumbled about the broken glass, which she accepted to fix soon, and then she enquired if I had had breakfast and that I must come to her place often and have food and even chat with her. I just looked at her wide eyed, smiled and hoping some of her cheer and love will rub off on me. I hadn’t understood till that moment the price of a smile…it is truly invaluable. It was such a beautiful start for my day, I continued to smile at every one and even wish people…a smile can make all the difference to you and people around, only if you choose to do it more often.

Keep smiling always…

with lots of smile....signing off...
ammukutty

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Understanding the meaning and quality of space


A discussion with a colleague about space got me started on this whole debate of space…the need for it and occasionally, its denial or even nonexistence for the uninitiated. Let’s start from the basics…when exactly do we understand the concept of space, aka, individual space versus community/shared spaces. In India, having an individual space is a luxury, whereas in the developed countries it is a fundamental rightJ why is it a luxury, and in some cases, considered a curse, in India? One obvious reason of course is the paucity of space, what with just single families owning acres and acres of prime property at the heart of the city. The poor of course are left to ‘share’ the leftover space, besides the leftover food of the rich and the mighty.

I have heard many a lament about nuclear families, the dying of the unnecessarily glorified joint family systems, the importance of family dinners every single day, even if people of the family come home at different times! But, practically speaking, aren’t nuclear families more workable? Is it really necessary to indulge in mollycoddling with one’s extended family members every day? Don’t family dinners every day bring in their share of problems? I mean, when I am working on an important deliverable at work or when I have this irresistible urge to have a MacD dinner, should I numb my feelings and revel in the joys of a family dinner? With changing lifestyles, food habits, preferences, and even waking hours, shouldn’t the society and the family remold itself?

I believe, to satisfy one’s needs, we have created structured institutions that have brought in their own share of problems that have no simple solutions. I see structures, such as the ones in which women definitely moving into the husband’s house with proper markers of marriage, giving up careers to tend the parents-in-law, men working hard to earn an extra buck to give the son the best so that the son in turn will support his old parents, make people to share a compulsive space at the cost of the realization of conscious choices. However, with industrialization and globalization, one is constantly faced with choices! Ten years back, I didn’t even know that I had a choice about the kind of clothes I could wear! Extrapolating the idea, a lot of us didn’t know, or rather still don’t know, that we had a choice about our beliefs, our religion, our clothes, our identity, our profession, our partners, and our food habits! But, today, the world I see has changed so much that I cannot exist without being conscious of the choices before me and making informed choices! I can no longer be without exercising my free will. And, when I exercise my free will, I am at loggerheads with structures that have failed to change with the time!

I do not advocate for the ‘going away’ of the family, but I definitely advocate the need for the people who make up the family to meaningfully relate to the trends of the world. An interesting example is choosing one’s partners. Today’s world presents one with a multitude of opportunities and scenarios where you need to make quick and correct decisions, whose consequences you are ready to face. Sometimes, you even plan to mitigate the risks! We make such foolproof plans that will simply not go haywire. However, when a girl and a boy like each other, the biggest opposition seems to come from the ‘seemingly caring’ families! In such a scenario, isn’t the family playing a detrimental role in building an individual’s confidence in one’s choices? Especially, when the individual is supposed to be making choices every single minute? Does this point bring us back to the question of space? Can today’s family adjust to the needs of the changing life and accommodate everything with positivity and love? I find it hilarious when people say they love their children, but hate their childrens’ choices! In such cases, I find the family redundant and pointless! In such cases, the family contributes to shrinking an individual than in building one. How can families, which are fonts of love and emotional bonding, be reduced to places where an individual’s ability to express and live is smothered in the name of duty, caste, religion, and tradition? How does one assert one’s space, more because if I don’t start asserting my space at home, I can assert it no where else?

I believe, that to become a developed nation in the true sense of the word, we need to understand the essential difference between individual space and community space, love and control, emotions and values, care and helplessness, and individual choice and a prescriptive lifestyle. We need to share our resources not our mental spaces, we need to share love not our individual minds, we need to share our food not our food habits…

To be continued…after more enlightenment;)

Destination Sikkim - Till we meet again

On the third day, we went to the Sikkim Himalayan Zoo. It was day of little rain and much mist. The walk into the zoo was surreal because o...