Sunday, November 26, 2017

Enigmas and Dogmas

As teenagers, all of us dream of becoming something.

Since the age of 13 or so, I have been in the pursuit of becoming this enigma... the mystery woman that the boys die to get close to, someone who everybody is eager to know about. The woman doesn't talk much, smiles just a little, has eyes that can draw you deep into their dark depths. The woman who will attract you but will never let you come close to her. She will leave your wondering. And she comes with a special brand of beauty and grace.

Today, at 4 decades of existence, I do have Enigma but only on my retro playlist - (even that once famous band of the 90s has now faded into oblivion). The mystery happens when I wonder how I ended up wearing the old pair of jeans when I was actually planning to wear a chiffon salwar kameez, with a chiffon dupatta, chiffon scarf, and chiffon bangles. (Ah! Manish Malhotra and Yash Chopra didn't think of chiffon bangles #LostOpportunity)
Leave alone an enigma, I couldn't even manage to become a lady, that I had dreamt of becoming.

Oh! I did get an anonymous love-note slipped into my desk when I was Class VIII. It said "I love Priya." I should have blushed. Should have acted coy. But what did I do? I let out a loud guffaw and bellowed "Hey who's that?", frightening enough for the anonymous lover to shrink further into anonymity. Well, he wanted an intimate date and all I did was INTIMIDATE. #LostOpportunity

The problem with me is that I can't leave anything to suspense. Anything I feel, I have to express it. Be it love, anger or disappointment. If there is an itch, it has to be scratched, so to speak. (I can't ever imagine Aishwarya Rai scratching.)

The other problem is my compulsive need to talk. If people have been out of touch, I don't wait for them to text first. I do. And then I talk and talk and talk (them actually listening is usually not a prerequisite.) So what's left for them to wonder about? As if that were not enough my gutter mouth can make the husband blush even after so many years.

Oh and those meaningful smiles. I tried. I practiced. Two hours in front of the mirror every day (there were times when I actually had 2 hours of my own for such creative pursuits). Nope. I only ended up with pursed lips and flared nostrils. Well, at least that checks off 'deep-dark' in the list.


For the love of god have I've tried to peck like a hen when I eat with men but what do I do when I have an appetite larger than theirs? So people around me do wonder. Wonder how I did it.

I've been trying to write poetry with a feather-tipped pen but the family tells me to try Stand-up Comedy. Lo karlo baat! I've been trying to grow long, luscious tresses but the girl at the parlour, every time she sees me, she chops off the 3/4th of an inch that took 6 months to grow. She shakes her head and tch-tches "too dry ma'm" (And I'm hoping there are no other hidden references there). Talking about references, I've been subjected to the range - from the extremely rude "Tom Boy" to the more gentle, "gruff voice, good for western music". Well, I've learnt to take all of that with a pinch of chat masala and a peg of whiskey. See, even that's not a lady's drink.

Forget me. Even my lady-parts are not ladylike anymore.
Hey! But I AM sensitive, extremely touchy and hopelessly romantic. Yes, I can't blush but that's okay, I suppose.

So what do I do now? At this ripe age, all I can do is....give up? No! Never! I will try and try and try. Only time will tell if I will end up like Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur or the famous Cuban lady with the Cigar.




OR




Pic Courtesy:
http://nobleyreal.blogspot.in
Lorrie Cramer via Flickr

Friday, August 04, 2017

In Love and So Lonely

Relationships don't always break because of differences of opinion. Sometimes, two people much in love with each other can also get very lonely. Each is an individual in his and her own right after all. They do go through their own personal battles.More often than not, it has nothing to do with the lover at all. I guess this happens a lot in this new world, where long, loving glances are not everything.

And it's this loneliness that often becomes the last sigh of a loving relationship. It usually takes either one of them to carefully step away from this dangerous cliff and in the process save the three - themselves, their loved one and their love itself.

This song always brings to my mind this last dangerous precipice that a relationship is in. The girl is risking it all to bring both of them to safe ground.Wow! Never seen anything like this before. And the beauty of the song is that she says she needs him. She doesn't try to get a step above and offer a condescending shoulder. But he is is so lost in his inner turmoil that he only sees the pointlessness of it all. Yet, she doesn't give up. She tries and tries and tries. She says life is sure to be beautiful if you are with me. He says it won't make a difference whether she is with him or not. Life is bound to be as heartless as ever. Listen to the song, it's built just like an argument. His pain makes you want to take him in your arms and cradle him to peace and derive peace for yourself in the process.




I don't have to say anything about the video. It speaks for itself between 3:20 and 4:20. It has captured a moment of intimacy like no other song video has before. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Boycott: Thums Up or Thums Down?


I have been reading about the boycott of soft drinks by the traders in Tamilnadu.

I strongly believe that carbonated soft drinks with artificial flavouring are no good and completely unnecessary. Yet, I have some questions:
1. If the Coca Cola plant is draining water from Thambaraparani, where do the local brands, Kalimark/Bovonto plant get their water from?

2. Can the government stop all soft-drink manufacture for a while in order to make better use of water resources?

3. What are the actual reasons for the boycott?
Is it because they want to promote national brands in lieu of the foreign ones?
Is it to stop the the depletion of natural resources to manufacture a product that is perhaps not an 'essential commodity'? In that case, won't the local brands also come under that tag?

4. I am imagining an visual of a foreign tourist from say, a Coke guzzling region like the USA. He is touring around Mylapore in the month of June,thrilled with the rich heritage and culture of this 1000 year old neighbourhood. Suddenly struck by thirst, he goes to a shop and asks for Aquafina. Shop-keeper says no. Bisleri. No. Coke. No. Then the friendly shopkeeper offers the tourist fresh, tender coconut water and the tourist takes a selfie with the coconut, the caption on his photo being "I love Chennai...so natural, so real."

Am I being too naive?

5. Okay, another visual. They say foreign companies haven't been setting up shop in Tamilnadu due to bureaucracy. A very resilient investor goes ahead with his plan, brings in his team. Gives them posh houses in MRC Nagar. Takes a while for the expats to settle down. Slowly emails marked 'Personal' go the HR in the HO. "I tried to take my team to a night out in town. By the time we complete work it is 9 pm. By the time I search for a decent pub, it's 10. We take 30 minutes to take in all the teenager crowd, the noisy music. Before we can blink, it's shut down time. We are home by 11:30 p.m. Forget nightlife, forget buying a can of beer to chill at home, it is nearly impossible to even find a can of coke or sprite. Every time I ask my grocer for coke or Aquafina, he politely advices me to get them from the posh hotel nearby. This is getting very inconvenient and demotivating. Please advise." Now, I am being too negative? First-world problems you say?

Like I said right at the beginning, my only grouse against soft drinks is the health reasons and then harmful effect these factories have on the environment.
This post is more about thinking aloud. I need your thoughts and opinions please.

References: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/T.N.-traders-not-to-sell-soft-drinks-mineral-water-brands-made-by-MNCs/article17090938.ece
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/chennai/jallikattu-tamil-nadu-merchants-urged-to-boycott-coke-pepsi-from-march-1-4491889/
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/jallikattu-coimbatore-hotels-boycott-coke-pepsi/articleshow/56702546.cms

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Parenting Dilemmas

A very challenging parenting moment this evening.
Junior wanted to play with a girl, let's call her A, in the apartment who is Junior's on-and-off playmate. She checked on the intercom and A (younger than Junior) said she was busy. Junior let it go but accidentally found out that A was in fact playing with B and C (also Junior's playmates) at her home. 

Junior was almost in tears. I tried convincing her, "Perhaps A wasn't in a mood to play with you..." I said. "...maybe she wants to play with them instead." Junior wasn't convinced and insisted that I ask A about it. 

Dilemma # 1. 

Shouldn't have done that. But I did. I called over the intercom and asked A what she was doing. She said she was doing her homework. I asked her if B & C were with her and she said "No." On asking her again she hesitantly answered that she was actually playing with B and C. I gently told her she could have taken the easier way out by speaking the truth. "You must never tell lies because it hurts people." She responded with a meek 'okay' and I said 'bye' and hung up. Junior called A some names and said she was very angry. I hugged her and said, "It's okay, now that you have called her all bad names, you should be okay in two minutes." (I know I'm being judged for allowing Junior to call people names.)

In less than three seconds the intercom buzzed again. It was A announcing that Junior could "come and play with us if she wants to." 

Dilemma # 2.

Shouldn't have done that. But I did. I said, "I will tell her that but I don't I want to send her. If she still wants to come, she will. But I think you should play with B & C today." 

Dilemma #3.

I turned to Junior, "Baby, let them play today. I don't think you should go today. Come, let's both play." Junior screamed that she rarely gets a chance to play with them as a group. I pulled her close and said "Baby, allow people to come to you and play but never go begging for people to play with you. You must love and respect yourself first." Junior was furious. With me? With A? I don't know. She stormed into the bedroom and slammed the door, only to come out in a minute asking me if I could play with her. We watched a few funny movies scenes on TV (which got her giggling), then went downstairs and enjoyed a good hour of physical play. Her and me. Me and her. 

Backstory: This is not the first time that A has done this. There have been several instances when she has been at home but would get her folks have said she isn't at home or that she's sleeping. Her idea or her family's, I wouldn't know. I've never interfered. There have been many instances when she has come home to play with Junior and we've never turned her away even if we've had guests at home. 

My questions: 
  • I have seen children speaking lies about petty, insignificant things but at what point do they learn to 'avoid' people and resort to lies for doing that? What role does family play here? 
  • I know interfering in the matter of kids is not a great option but how else could I let A know that we actually know the truth? 
  • How do I teach Junior what self-respect is without teaching ego? 
  • Is it okay for me to allow my child to play with someone, be it another child, whose lies appear a step above just childish, innocent white-lies? 
I've been in deep thought. Junior isn't a toddler anymore. She is a thinking person on the brink of her tweens. She doesn't need to know everything but she needs to be told something. Just a 30 minutes before this incident, Junior told me that the snack her grandma prepared needed improvement but grandma might feel sad if she told her so. I  told her that it was okay to give her feedback. As long as she is gentle and appreciates the effort grandma has put in, her feedback will not hurt. She did just that and it worked so well. 

In my book of parenting, relationship guidance is one of the most important lessons a parent can give a child (either subtly or openly). What about you?




Pic credits: https://www.etsy.com/listing/60655907/giclee-print-childrens-wall-art-mom



Sunday, August 28, 2016

A duet of two loves



Vikram Seth's An Equal Music. One of the most satisfying reads in ages. The last page of the book felt like a warm hug. I closed the book, held it to my chest, closed my eyes and smiled.

If you ask me if it had a happy ending, I would counter it with, "what IS a happy ending?"
The life of every individual is sprinkled with unique experiences.  Each person perceives those experiences in a unique way and deals with them in a manner he/she knows the best. This is the quality of humans that I love and enjoy. However similar they might appear, every individual on this earth is as different as the stars in the sky.

It is this uniqueness of human character that is so wonderfully painted in An Equal Music. There are love stories and then, there are, well, love stories. What we have here is just that but dealt in such a beautiful depth that you wonder if some of it could be autobiographical. Perhaps and perhaps not, and therein lies the strength of a writer. To make you wonder how in the wide world does he know all this? How can a person be so perceptive? I think it has got to do more with a very deep level of understanding and intuition than plain research.

The story is all about love and loss...and gain. Michael Holme, a gifted violinist in a quartet is our protagonist. His routine that hangs between clefs, staves and a sheet of recurring painful memory, suddenly gets jammed into a few discordant notes. He hears music in everything - be it the song of a lark, the church bell or the hum of a fridge that emits a note "stuck irksomely somewhere between G and G sharp."

The two loves of his life are off to make a quick exit, threatening to leave him loveless, musicless and maybe lifeless. What does fate offer him finally? The way he embraces his destiny, is the wonderful last note that the author leaves you with. "The rain has washed my earlier tears away." (Part 8)

The novel has a just a few but endearing characters, all of them with a life of their own, with a truth of their own. Michael, he sometimes tires you but hey, he's not a superhero. He's just another man on the street with his fears, doubts and an unstoppable train of thought. Julia Hansen, Michael's past, is fast becoming the most important part of his present. A talented pianist, she is beautiful, affectionate and oh, so real - a woman caught between her heart and her head. She has a certain gift and a challenge that I've never read about anywhere before. I must say, her character 'resonates' with me on more than one level. The way Michael goes so deep into the said challenge is a tad annoying but looking it at from a musician's point of view, it sure is justified.

Then, there are the members of the quartet, each with a charming quirk and a life of their own, again so true to life.

The author's note says "Music to me is dearer than even speech." As for me, I'd never be able to choose between music and the written word, speech ranking a close third.
This book has been personally so enjoyable not just because it is a beautiful romance fiction but it is a duet of two of my own loves. Language and music. And An Equal Music is full of these two things, in equal measure. Though I love Western Classical Music, my knowledge doesn't go beyond a few symphonies and composers. It was a pleasure discovering so much more while reading the book. I found myself googling pieces, names and notes. Reading the book with The Art of Fugue  playing in the background was an experience by itself.

"I put my hand on my shoulder where your head rested. Then I say your name once, twice, a third time, a fourth. Some nights I sleep like that, remembering you; some nights I only sleep as dawn comes in." (Part 7)
I am partly ashamed and partly glad that is my first Vikram Seth novel. His style and use of language...is it prose with generous poetic touches or poetry in the garb of prose? The Golden Gate more openly claims itself to be a novel in verse. But An Equal Music just springs pleasant lyrical surprises. Vis-a-vis a film maker, to think that all a writer has are words to explain the workings of the human mind, a palette of emotions - pain, joy and confusion. And to do all this with clarity and precision is indeed a gift put to a fantastic purpose. No image or camera technique can match the effect of such lines.
"The phone rings maddingly, maddeningly. I let it ring."

Seth also uses wit and humour at every suitable opportunity with a charming deftness. The sweet-silly scene with the critic Nicholas Spare and the punch; the scene in the aircraft about the green and cream sandwiches will take me sometime to forget.

It gladdens the heart that the book is by an author of Indian origin, without any of the mysticism that many writers with an India-background indulge themselves with.

Normally my choice of books depends upon the experience of the last book that I have read. But for now I think I just want to snuggle between some cozy sheets of music.
"Music...is a sufficient gift. Why ask for happiness and hope not to grieve? It is enough, it is to be blessed enough, to live from day to day and to hear such music  - not too much, or the soul could not sustain it - from time to time." (Part 8)
My library copy that I postponed returning as long as I could

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hey people, leave us kids alone!



Just saw this event happening. This is a talent-show to spot the city's smartest all-rounder.

This thing is wrong on so many levels. As parents who've lived an average of 30-40 years on earth, are we 'all-rounders' yet? How can we expect babies who've lived a maximum of 10 years on this earth to be all-rounders? And look at the categories...skin, hair, photogenic?


The kid would 'catwalk' on a ramp and come to center stage. They would be asked to talk about themselves and display their singing and dancing talents-all this in flat 5 minutes. The three judges would then pack the children off with an off handed applause, a cliched comment and a certificate.
I was watching helplessly as a mother was grilling her daughter about forgetting a few lines. She went "Why didn't you say, I'm a big girl and I'm a talented girl'? You said that at home". The girl's smile disappeared like how rainbow would disappear into dark clouds. She quietly sat herself on a swing with her bent. She didn't even play on the swing. The mother and grandparents would still not give up prodding her to go and 'at least' dance. The girl wouldn't budge. The mother soon got busy taking selfies against the banner of the event.

That child might forget the whole incident. Or might not. It appears that children forget easily. The danger is when thoughts of failure, rejection and shame go and get stuck in the deep crevices of the sub-conscious mind. And then we sit back in the comfort of our living rooms and blame schools, parents, films when we see adults with deviant minds. These adult deviant minds were obviously not born as adults. What kind of childhood did they have? Does anyone pause to find out? Think of all terrible things happening in Chennai and around the world. No place is safe any more.

One might think I'm blowing a silly talent-hunt out of proportion. I'm not saying a failure at such competitions will give rise to criminals. All I'm saying is CHILDREN DON'T NEED THIS. Their life is already more complicated than they can handle. Let's not make it more complicated. I also want to say that parenting has never been as difficult as it is now. We deal with a lot more than our parents had to. Let's not make our own lives complicated. Though most parents won't agree, I know the feeling parents go through when their child 'fails'. I have to confess about going through the horrible phase of pushing my child to be 'smart and outgoing'. What about letting the child pick one interest and encouraging them to hone it?

My sincere appeal to parents. Please do not subject yourselves or your children to such events which have nothing but the commercial interest of the organisers. Let's be happy. Let our children be happy. Let's allow children to experience childhood and explore the joys of life. Children don't need medals and certificates. All they need is love, affection and lots of (physical and emotional) space to play.

Love you all.

Hey people, leave us kids alone!



Just saw this event happening. This is a talent-show to spot the city's smartest all-rounder.

This thing is wrong on so many levels. As parents who've lived an average of 30-40 years on earth, are we 'all-rounders' yet? How can we expect babies who've lived a maximum of 10 years on this earth to be all-rounders? And look at the categories...skin, hair, photogenic?


The kid would 'catwalk' on a ramp and come to center stage. They would be asked to talk about themselves and display their singing and dancing talents-all this in flat 5 minutes. The three judges would then pack the children off with an off handed applause, a cliched comment and a certificate.
I was watching helplessly as a mother was grilling her daughter about forgetting a few lines. She went "Why didn't you say, I'm a big girl and I'm a talented girl'? You said that at home". The girl's smile disappeared like how rainbow would disappear into dark clouds. She quietly sat herself on a swing with her bent. She didn't even play on the swing. The mother and grandparents would still not give up prodding her to go and 'at least' dance. The girl wouldn't budge. The mother soon got busy taking selfies against the banner of the event.

That child might forget the whole incident. Or might not. It appears that children forget easily. The danger is when thoughts of failure, rejection and shame go and get stuck in the deep crevices of the sub-conscious mind. And then we sit back in the comfort of our living rooms and blame schools, parents, films when we see adults with deviant minds. These adult deviant minds were obviously not born as adults. What kind of childhood did they have? Does anyone pause to find out? Think of all terrible things happening in Chennai and around the world. No place is safe any more.

One might think I'm blowing a silly talent-hunt out of proportion. I'm not saying a failure at such competitions will give rise to criminals. All I'm saying is CHILDREN DON'T NEED THIS. Their life is already more complicated than they can handle. Let's not make it more complicated. I also want to say that parenting has never been as difficult as it is now. We deal with a lot more than our parents had to. Let's not make our own lives complicated. Though most parents won't agree, I know the feeling parents go through when their child 'fails'. I have to confess about going through the horrible phase of pushing my child to be 'smart and outgoing'. What about letting the child pick one interest and encouraging them to hone it?

My sincere appeal to parents. Please do not subject yourselves or your children to such events which have nothing but the commercial interest of the organisers. Let's be happy. Let our children be happy. Let's allow children to experience childhood and explore the joys of life. Children don't need medals and certificates. All they need is love, affection and lots of (physical and emotional) space to play.

Love you all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Thank You for the Music

Thank you Illayaraja.  Thank you Beethoven.  Thank you Thyagaraja Swami. 
Thank you Rahman.    Thank you SPB.    Thank you Janaki.    Thank you Yesudoss. 
Thank you PBS. Thank you MSV.    Thank you Kannadasan.    Thank you Veturi. 
Thank you Gulzar.     Thank you R D Burman.    Thank you Kishore Kumar. 
Thank you Nusrat Saab.     Thank you Sonu Nigam.       Thank you Shivkumar Sharma.
Thank you Kenny G.         Thank you Yanni.      Thank you Frank Sinatra. 
Thank you Beatles.  Thank you Elvis. Thank you Kenny Rogers.    Thank you Jim Reeves.
Thank you Abba.      Thank you Bryan Adams.    Thank you Madonna.   
Thank you Michael Jackson.     Thank you Jagjit Singh.     Thank you Vividh Bharati. 
Thank you Chitrahaar.     Thank you Top of the Pops. Thank you Compilation Albums.
Thank you street-corner recording stores.     Thank you lyrics books. 
Thank you tapes, CDs and pen-drives. Thank you internet. 
Thank you friends, cousins, siblings and Fauji Bhais.


THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC!