Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Knowing You

Suddenly, all I can think about are all the things I don't know about him. All the things I never had the chance to learn. I don't know if his feet are ticklish or how long his toes are. I don't know what nightmares he had as a child. I don't know which stars are his favorites, what shapes he sees in the clouds. I have no clue what he writes in his journal or if he writes at all. I don't know what he is truly afraid of or what memories he holds closest.
I don't know how he holds his pen or if he shakes his leg when he is waiting on something. I don't know how his breath smells like . I don't know how his hair feels like or if his hands remain hot or cold. I do not know. And I don't have enough time now, never enough time. I want to be in the moment with him, feel his body against mine and think of nothing else, but my mind explodes with grief for all that I am missing. All that I will miss. All that we have wasted.

Perhaps you can afford to wait. Perhaps for you there's a tomorrow. Perhaps you have many many tomorrow's to come that you can let the todays slide and have so much time that you can waste. But for some of us there's only today. And the truth is, you never really know.



(¯`•._.•[Writing For Life]•._.•´¯)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Coquettish Angels


November. The leit motif of the month is children.

I must confess that I am somewhat envious of anyone who was born after 1984. By the time they had gathered themselves and by the time they could make sense of what was happening around them, the intellectual infrastructure was up and running.

The internet, which has revolutionized the way people LIVE today, had become popular – by the time these kids reached 15.
Google which has empowered one and all, indiscriminately, by providing access to a world of information at the click of a button and has made it so easy for people to get smart, was operational - by the time these kids reached 17.
Cable television. Cable TV had just been born when I was 13 or 14. Anu kapoor’s Anthakshari was gaining popularity. Reality shows were yet unheard of.
But in just a few years, there were multiple news channels, more sophisticated, smarter and sharper than ever before.
The talk shows, the debates like the Big Fight on NDTV, the Discovery and Nat geo were only few of the many stimulants packaged and available already to the 85 borns by the time they reached 16.

It does not matter anymore whether a child today is born with a silver spoon or not. The intellectual infrastructure is incomparable to any other blessing a child has received before.

But,……………But the child of today isn’t quite a child.

Even as I begin, I don’t know if this is pointless ranting, if this is the same old recurring, nagging complaint by the older generation about the ways of the new generation; but the fact remains that there is a huge gap, somewhat blatant, somewhat flagrant and it is but inevitable for the more observant of us to discuss this gap and make those unavoidable comparisons.

Children of today are tending to reach adulthood far earlier than they are meant to. Whether this is fortunate or otherwise, is debatable.

For one thing, they are way too smart and independent. They can operate with ease a number of gadgets like the remote control, the television, the computer, the music system…etc.
The pleasure of teaching the child, all those things it is curious to know, from the very beginning, is no longer savoured by the elder whose privilege it has been to condescend to guide a blinking innocent.

The pleasure of being that all-knowing-big-brother is taken away by a smart kid who already knows more than you.

That shy, apprehensive kid, afraid of unknown people and needing handholding is extinct today.
It renders you, the elder, somewhat useless or redundant.
In some cases, their boldness and confidence receive so much encouragement and praise from proud parents that they become somewhat impertinent. I find this rather irritating.

The very fact that they don’t need you anymore makes them less deserving of your sympathy if not less deserving of your love.
I personally preferred it when they needed me, when they evoked my concern, my protective instinct, when they asked too many questions and knew too little, when they needed to hold my finger firmly in their tiny fist to explore the wide wild world. The assurance, that whether or not somebody else in this world needs me, a child definitely needs me is now taken away from me.

I also observe, somewhat poignantly, that the child of today has lost a certain innocence. Parents are responsible to a large extent. Most of them do not see the fine line that separates smartness from impertinence, exposure from over exposure, ignorance from innocence and independence from detachment.

A colleague, a mother of a 7 year old who had left her kid behind in India as she traveled to the US and stayed there for a few months was telling us all with pride that the child did not miss her or wince about her absence even rarely, that he was taking care of himself very well, that he called her up only to remind her of all the fancy toys he wanted her to bring him and that he did not want her to return to India if she failed to bring him those toys!

Such detachment! I would have been deeply pained if I learnt that my child did not cry for me even once! And the mother found it very convenient as she was spared of a big headache and could move on with her career.

Have you been watching all the reality shows on television? I am talking about those in which children sing and dance.
I can’t stop shaking my head in utter disbelief at the endless pretences, shameless lies and rigged up, staged disputes that are made part of the shows just to help the program get better TRP ratings!
To hell with the director of the show, to hell with the judges and to greater hell with the celebrities whose livelihood solely depends on such lies and pretences and whose most important means of getting visibility is farce.
What about the children? Does anybody spare a thought for them? Lying, pretending,……Is this what we want to teach them? Is this the kind of exposure we want to give them during their formative years? Alright, they have talent and they deserve a platform to exhibit them. But why does nobody, not the government, not even the parents of the children protest against such loathsome practices as staged brawls? Why such effortless acceptance of hypocrisy and deception?

And the dance competitions. Ah! What a gory scene! Have you ever watched this show called Boogie Woogie? A machine of sorts that has an incredible capacity for making every participant – boy, girl, child, man, woman – don a whore like disposition.

I have had the good fortune of watching a few episodes where the competition was exclusively for children. All of them must have been below fourteen years of age. The girls were wearing plunging necklines (already!), performing gyrating hip movements (already), jiggling their breasts (even before they were fully developed!) and giving suggestive looks and winks to the judges even before understanding fully, the meaning of those looks (I hope so…the matter would be worse if they already understood the meaning of those gestures!) amidst cheers from the audience, judges AND parents!

Some of the children were just six years old. Cheeks sucked in, mouth protruding. Coquettish expressions on angelic faces! The younger the daughter, the prouder the parents! I haven’t seen anything as disgusting as this. How can any mother bear to see her daughter trying to look or behave like Bipasha Basu and Mallika Sherawat, leave alone feeling happy about it?

And when a fourteen year old girl consented to have sex with the son of a Goa chief minister, the parents kicked up a big fuss about the guy raping a minor and all that.
What the hell was the fourteen year old doing, consenting to have sex when she should be playing with Barbie dolls?
What kind of upbringing has the mother given her? And why is she accusing the boy instead of whip lashing her daughter for sleeping around?

As I said, the fine line is blurred… the fine line that separates smartness from impertinence, exposure from over exposure, ignorance from innocence and independence from detachment.

Let us keep them away from the race. Let them be innocent. Let them depend on us a little. Let them walk to adulthood at a leisurely pace. Let us not push them towards adulthood. They are not fancy show pieces at display for neighbours to admire. Let them be dumb. It’s alright. Let them know, when it is time for them to know.

Let them be the children of Tagore’s world…the children Tagore’s dreams were made of…

On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.
The children meet with shouts and dances.
They build their houses with sand
And they play with empty shells.
With withered leaves they weave their boats
And smilingly float them on the vast deep.
They know not how to swim, they know not how to cast nets.
Pearl fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships,
While children gather pebbles and scatter them again.
They seek not for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets…


The greatest gift you can give your child is childhood. A prolonged one.

When my friend Pramod, a creative man in the advertisement field, was asked by his friend to suggest a suitable name and tag line for a kindergarten he was opening, Pramod rightly said…

INFANTASY
Because First Steps Last.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

To the Dryad

The chirping of merry birds
the melancholy song of brook
the lovers half asleep in the bush
the sunlight giving their cheeks an auroral look

lying there on a soft-bedded grass
with their forms intertwined
isolated from the world
united in their souls and mind

then, there are men
as handsome as Adonis
soothed by Dryad’s lullaby, they
rest in the arms of Morpheus

And when the earth bathes in silvery luster
of the moon that lights the raven sky
with wind’s moan and cricket’s song,
whispers of Cupid and Psyche’s sigh

she hears all this while she wanders
companionless in the oak land
but as happiness blossoms in her heart
the buds bloom and dense greenery clothes the woodland

when hope dies, her leaves dry up
gradually, in the brook, they fall
until nothing remains except for the silence
the echoes of which tell her sad tale to all

Friday, June 27, 2008

Root Cause Analysis

It’s a story about those days, not so long ago, when reading was not a hobby but an activity that I would engage in only occasionally. Poetry, painting and drawing had become hobbies of the past. Come weekend and there was plenty of time but nothing to do.
I would pick up my mobile, scroll through the list of contacts and call up friends one after the other. Movie, lunch, dinner? Sometimes, a friend would agree and we would have fun. Other times, I would hear from all of them that they had already made other plans or that they wished to rest at home or that they were bankrupt or …..
So I would sit on my bed all day in a godforsaken PG (paying guest accommodation) and get bored.
One day, unable to stand this boredom any longer, I decided to go shopping all alone.

I went to Commercial street. I bought a white skirt with pink floral prints on it. I ate American corn from one of the makeshift shops. I entered “Westside” thinking I would only window shop. After three hours I came out of the shop with 4 Salwar Kameez suits and a stole in my shopping bag. I bought 3 pairs of earrings from a street hawker. Although I was not hungry, I entered Woody’s and had cauliflower fritters and some “Pesarattu”.

I bought a pair a beige coloured angle boots which would go well with a long skirt. It was 7 PM. I had spent a good 7 hours shopping. I decided to return. I came back to my PG (can’t say “I came home”) and flaunted my purchase to my roommates who exclaimed that the skirt and the suits were so beautiful. I looked forward to that day when I would try them all. I had spent 5000 rupees but what the heck, it was a great weekend.

This was the first of a succession of weekends that saw one after the other, the numerous malls of Bangalore, Brigade road, MG road, some more commercial street, more shopping, more eating and more spending.

It’s been a year now.
The white skirt with pink floral prints has not been tried once for there has been no occasion to wear it. The angle boots are still in the box for I haven’t found a skirt to go with it. I wore the stole only once and I don’t have a matching dress for the earrings that I bought. The cauliflower fritters and “Pesarattu” that I ate in Woody’s were soaked in fat and I really shouldn’t have had them.
In hindsight, the 5000 rupee worth pleasure that the weekend shopping had brought with it lasted only until the next weekend.

How mistaken I was in believing that shopping and spending would help me defeat the feeling of loneliness that engulfed me during those weekends!

Recently, as I watched a famous talk show, I learnt that people buy a lot of things out of compulsion without realising that they are doing it to beat the loneliness in their lives. It is their way of filling up the lacuna or vacuum in their monotonous, uneventful life. Spending time in malls and buying materials keeps them occupied, gives them pleasure (though temporary) and they deceive themselves into believing that their life is very “happening”. It’s a psychology “thing” that has actually been documented.

We forget that material possessions cannot satiate an individual beyond a certain limit. Shopping to kill loneliness is like drinking sea water to quench thirst.

*******************************************************************
My grandparents in Mysore lived in an antique mansion that sprawls over a piece of land that is 100 by 120 feet in area. She was blessed with 9 children. The other occupants of the house were a brother of my grand mom, 2 children of her sister, my oldest cousins who went to college there and my great-grandmothers.

During the earlier days, the members of the family had to run the household using traditional means and methods. But as days passed by, modern home appliances made their way into the house one by one. The kitchen became equipped with a mixer, a grinder, a heater, a gas stove and a refrigerator. A television set was installed in an empty corner of the hall. All members had agreed upon a list of common programmes and they would assemble in the hall before the TV to watch the same.

Although too many children lived in the house, not too many clothes needed to be bought. As the oldest outgrew his clothes he bequeathed them to a younger one; the younger one bequeathed his clothes to his younger one and so on until finally the youngest one inherited all the clothes in the family as he grew up. And when the youngest brother outgrew his clothes, he bequeathed them to the eldest brother’s son. :-)

One day, a two wheeler and a four wheeler were driven into the courtyard. The vehicles were used to escort the aged and middle aged men and women of the family to places and in case of emergencies.

25 years have passed.

The antique house stands where it stood. Some members continue to live there and some have moved out. There has been proliferation of people as well as property. I am not in close contact with all the descendants but only a few of them.

I will talk about four families who live close by. Two of them are brothers and two others first cousins of the brothers.
In the age of nuclear families, needless to say, they live in four separate mansions. Unlike olden days, even the women in these households go to work. There are just 2 children in each family. Some are recently employed and some go to college. As a reason, for most part of the day the houses remain empty.
But I am told that there are enough occupants even in the empty houses. Although they are small families, each member has a separate bedroom and there are guest rooms too. Each room has a television so that the members may feel free to watch any channel they please unlike those olden days when there used to be conflicting interests and a common list of programmes had to be prepared.
Although people these days have a poor appetite, there are two refrigerators. One for the kitchen and one in the hallway upstairs to store water, chocolates and aerated drinks so that the children don’t have to run down the stairs into the kitchen all the time.

There are two fancy cars and two bikes in each house. All are independent.

While it is good to see such proliferation of wealth and abundance of materials all around, it is saddening to see that in today’s world, the virtue of sharing seems lackluster before the artificial shimmer of “personal space”.

This concept of personal space was unknown to India. It has come from the west. I don’t have anything against it and I enjoy it myself for some part of the day, but as I see it tending towards extremity, I can’t help smiling sardonically at its implications.

People seem to be building walls around themselves. They have acquired layers of protection to shield themselves against their own fraternity. One has to exercise caution even while talking to friends for you may ask a question casually (or even out of concern) and the other person may narrow their eyes and ask “Why do you want to know?”
Husband and wife no longer proudly claim to know each and every thing about one another. There is space between the two of them also!!

The amassing of materials – be it a private two wheeler or a private wardrobe of clothes and accessories, a private car (one for every member of the family), a private room, a personal TV set – is a manifestation on the surface while the actual cause beneath is a mindless chase for privacy and the absence of willingness to share.

********************************************************************
Supermarkets and shopping malls.

Cookies, sweet corn, handbags, soft toys, clothes, accessories, cosmetics, footwear, jewellery, furniture, electronics, entertainment, automobiles, real estate and lots of people.

A superfluity of materials. A feast to the eyes. It feels so good to just be in a mall.

But beware. Beware of the crafty salesman behind those counters … You are the guinea pig of his experiments. Even as you enter his shop just to do some window shopping, he is trying all the tactics, tricks and trade secrets he has gained from the newly acquired MBA.

He is out to trap an unsuspecting shopper.
He is constantly thinking about how to get a fat slice of a customer’s wallet.
He is scheming to entice a customer to spend his hard earned money to buy his product whether or not the customer needs it so that he may become richer.

He is a parasite.. feeding on your weaknesses. Feeding on your loneliness, on your aloofness.

If there is a lacuna in your life, he benefits because you will shop more to fill that lacuna.
The lesser you want to share, the more he benefits because that way, you end up buying more.

All of them in the malls thrive on your weakness, on your problems.

But it’s not the salesman’s prosperity I am jealous of, as I write this.
It’s not the “emptiness in peoples’ lives” alone that saddens me nor is it the “diminishing of the virtue of sharing”.

I write this article today, because we are faced with a cause that is above all other causes. A cause that I will call an emergency as it is screaming for attention.

It is the cause of environment. Even as we engage in rhetoric and shout slogans of “Save environment” and “Stop deforestation”, we fail to realise that it is we who are responsible for the state of our environment today, in more indirect ways, than direct.

Why did I talk about weekend shopping and why did I tell you about my grandmother’s family?

To prove a point that our innocent consumption of goods that is caused by factors rooted deep in aspects of psychology and sociology is having implications that actually affect our environment and we are not even aware of this possibility.

Let’s do some quick analysis.
1.All goods available in the market and shopping malls can be classified broadly as those made of either natural substances like wood, cotton, jute, fibre etc. or man made, synthesized substances (there are many).

2.For every natural product that is made, some amount of nature is being depleted. And for every synthesized product that is made, again, an amount of nature is being depleted because the raw material comes from nature, even though it may be as little as a mug of water.

3.The processing requires energy.

4.The processing results in solid, liquid or gaseous wastage to be released to the environment.

5.In the factories that perform the synthesis, man power is being harnessed resulting in an increase in human activity and thus, the environment is warming up .

That was the story of production. Now the story of consumption.

6.A mall has to be built where the goods will be showcased. This mall sprawls over an acre of land which was made level, either by closing a lake or by felling trees that occupied it before.

7.The entire mall is air-conditioned. Needless to say, this consumes copious amounts of energy and releases more chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere.

8.The consumer drives to this mall and more often than not, the vehicle is a large four wheeler. You already know it releases carbon monoxide. It also increases traffic, necessitating the widening of the road for which hundred year old trees lining the road will have to be cut down.

No matter what you consume, a cup of corn, an ice cream, a piece of garment, a handbag, fuel for a vehicle, soft toy, furniture, a home appliance, electricity… be mindful of the fact that it affects the environment one way or the other.

Even a large mansion that you own occupies a large piece of land and can be thought to have encroached into what ought to have been a rice field or a mango groove. Why desire several mansions then?

One may issue or follow a hundred specific rules to protect the environment. I will say just one thing that will summarise all of them. Cut down on consumerism. DO NOT BUY. (Unnecessarily).
It is the only holistic approach to save our environment.

But that sounds a little negative. Isn’t it? If you have read my previous posts (I am not against war, I am for peace) where I talk about the law of attraction, you will think I am contradicting myself here.

So rephrasing it to give it a positive tone, I would say, “Lead a life of simplicity”. Consume only as much as you need. Cultivate good hobbies to spend your time fruitfully, so there will be no room for lacunae in your lives.

Before signing off, I will leave you with these thoughts.

Two things are important in life.
How we live &
What we leave.

For future generations are not simply survivors but also inheritors.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

World Environment Day 2008

Today is World Environment Day (WED). The World Environment Day slogan for 2008 is

Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy.

So here are a few ways you can immediately implement to go carbon-neutral -

  • REPLACE your light bulbs with CFLs
  • WASH CLOTHES at 30 degrees centigrade and no higher if your washing machine has a temperature setting.
  • WALK OR CYCLE. Use public transport or carpool.
  • SWITCH OFF electronic gadgets, don’t leave them on standby. So turn that computer off while retiring.

Here are a few implementable ways from the The 80 Ways To Celebrate WED 2008:

  1. Adopt a ‘green’ way of life
  2. Art made of recycled materials
  3. Bicycle parades/races
  4. Buy a fuel-efficient car
  5. Carpools
  6. Dedicate your blog to World Environment Day on 5 June (We are dedicating the whole month to it...so full points to the writers on Writers Blend!)
  7. Join an environmental group
  8. Keep your neighbourhood clean
  9. Kick the CO2 habit!
  10. Never litter
  11. Offset your emissions
  12. Organic farming/cooking
  13. Plant a tree
  14. Plastic bags: avoid them!
  15. Rainwater harvesting
  16. Reduce, re-use, recycle
  17. Rehabilitate natural habitats
  18. Replace your light-bulbs with energy saving ones
  19. Save paper
  20. Sort rubbish
  21. Switch off stand-by TV and computer
  22. Use sustainable modes of transportation (walking, jogging, cycling, skating, carpool)
  23. Vehicle emission monitoring
  24. Waste less!
  25. Xpect environmental responsibility

Do visit the World Environment Day 2008 Page to see how else you can contribute. The planet needs us. More than that, I am sure you will agree, we need this planet.

So save it!

Happy World Environment Day!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mother

Long ago,
Before the first human was born,
Before the first tree began reaching for the sky,
Her life began.
She breathes.
And grows.
Her blood rushes through her veins.
She can speak her mind
And she can feel pain.
She can feed us when we're hungry.
She can heal us when we're sick.
She has the power to give us energy
And the power to make us smile.
She is not a thing.
She is the Earth.
And there is a reason we call her Mother.
Everyday 19 more of the earth's species disappear.
Forever.
But there is hope.
With your help, whales have begun to return,
The bald eagle is off the edangered list
And one million acres of rainforest were protected forever.
We only have one planet.
We only get one chance.
Our Mother needs our help.
Do something.
Anything.


If you thought the text was inspiring, watch the video. I guarantee you, you will be moved.

We only have one planet, we only get one chance. Spread the awareness.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Love The Ride!

Jacaranda trees in bloom, a shy lavender canopy…

Two children in slightly tattered clothes running by the side of the road, carefree and fearless- embodiment of a feeling of pure joy…

A broad stretch of tarmac upon which the wheels glide (Well, mostly) and a feeling of floating on…

A Wildcraft showroom with a multifarious window display and a reminder of my wild side, a passing flash of all my dreams for the road…

A view of the placid waters of a lake, ducks, geese and grebes swimming calmly oblivious to the rush on the busy road, a sudden sense of calm and a smile…

A Gulmohar tree in a boisterous orange bloom, unable to contain itself, pouring its joy out to a multitude that is too busy and too rushed to notice…a grin…how can it be so happy?!

Majestic Brahminy Kites decorating the skyline with their splendour, a graceful swoop and then a soar, a circle with wings outstretched, sheer beauty and another smile…

A peek at the many pots-and-plant sellers by the roadside, the soothing green…another glance at the gallimaufry of the earthen-ware seller up the road, the colours, the feeling of elation and wonder, of relaxation even amidst the rush…the irony…

A tree-lined road and the sunlight filtering through…the expanse of green and a mud path lit up by the warmly bright sun…a lone dog capering down that road…a wish to join it and caper along…

A milestone on the road…wait...its an idol…and the vehicles are carefully veering around it and continuing on their way…an unclaimed deity pitched on a busy road with no temple to shelter the protector; then again maybe not that uncared for, it has flowers at its feet…a strong urge to take its picture, the photographer in me disappointed by the hurry…and a thought – there are times when people avoid God too…

Songs in my ears…the beat and the melody…oblivion from all the honking and screeching around…my heart jiving along…all my favourite songs…a feeling of pure ecstasy!

With such sights and sounds, I could never hate going to work. The road that stays the same yet changes everyday like a movie that you’ve seen before but presents a different perspective the next time you see it…the music that fits every frame…even amidst all the pollution, noise and the sour faces that I have to drive through on my way to work everyday…I Love The Ride!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

One night @ an IT Company

''At the stroke of the midnight hour, when half of the world was in slumbers, i noticed a well lit bay with a few software engineers slogging it out to clear the release date well in time....“, these are but day to day occurances in an IT Services company in India. Its night 12.50 AM, and I am still staring dumbly at this dumb computer screen wondering when would the ordeal end and I would go home and hit the sack, to be back in the morning and burn another day....

Its the not the work thats killing me but the time it takes to put in the stuff I churned out into the testing machine, in essence its a two minute job but following the right processes its already 14 hours since I started working on this transition but have no idea when the Tech support people would do my work.

Of course being at the bottom of hierarchy means that my work no matter how important it is, is still down in priority...I wonder whats the purpose of my working so late, when the end consumer would never even know and neither would he bother as to who created all the tools he/she is using for her/his business...it seems so inconsequential. Its like being an unknown force working for those who would never know you....Thats life, and thats work for me, I do it everyday for a living....