Archive for July, 2007

AMAZING..INCREDIBLE…I’m running out of exclamation words

July 27, 2007

It’s been a phenonmenal time here in Tanzania…first at the Ngorongoro Crater, and then in the Serengeti since yesterday. We started with a superb time birding in Kilimanjaro airport while we were waiting for KM’s brothers to fly in…and then as we drove into the Ngorongoro Conservation area, we started with a night sighting of a leopard so close by…and except for the rhino, I think we have sighted all the animals,birds, reptiles and other stuff one could think of…and then some….

Two things which are fantastic…the total lack of plastic in the wilderness, and the immense discipline of the wildlife trips, which means that the animals are not afraid, and do not melt away immediately (though of course some do)…we have got some phenomenal shots and videos…the highlight being a pride of lions, including two cubs, walking down the road amongst the safari vehicles, another of two Thomson’s gazelle fighting in dead earnest, four types of vultures feasting on a carcass, two lionesses circling around a kill which they cannot eat because a band of baboons are trying to chase them off, a couple of ostriches doing a mating dance…with a couple of cheetahs as audience, the incredible line of migrating wildebeest stretching kilometers across the Serengeti plain….some of these are very far away, though….and the really colourful, splendiferous birds…the crocodiles and the hippos, the baboons and the vervet monkeys, the hyenas and the different kinds of jackals….

We have had hardly any sleep, because the power went down at night almost every day, and we had to recharge the camera batteries, and download the photos and videos….when we could.

At Kirawira camp, where we are now, the internet connection costs 10 USD for 15 minutes, so my next post is only going to be when I reach Dar es Salaam after the trip….

All my friends, I can do a lovely presentation on the Ngorogoro Crater, the Serengeti, and Lake Manyara (which we are going to day after tomorrow)…when I return…

Oh, Tanzania….words are just NOT adequate, will have to say it with the pictures. How happy I am that I took up photography!

Revisiting is enjoyable!

July 22, 2007

I was looking for a poem by someone, that I had posted earlier…obviously I hadn’t tagged it properly, I couldn’t find it.

Well, I typed it into my entry, but meanwhile…

I found that revisiting some of my own verse, and some poetry that I have posted, is most enjoyable! noelladsa once said that revisiting what she has written was fun…I must agree, now that I did it.

Must remember to tag THIS entry properly!

It must be very clear (at least to my women friends) that I am all packed and ready…and the other half is just about getting to it!

Soon my posts will be Out of Africa…

Pics will follow…

July 22, 2007

Heh, heh, my last few posts have been musings, with no pictures…because some (hopefully) lovely pics of the Serengeti and Mt Kilimanjaro are going to come along soon…wish us a good trip and great sightings please!

But let me include this wonderful misty view of the hill ranges from Nandi Hills…

View from Nandi Hills

My friends on LJ…I am sure, that if I don’t access it for even a day, you will make the most interesting and amazing posts…oh, well, I will catch up sooner or later.

Can this be?

July 22, 2007

From the LJ of putu99:

(Yes, putu99, I am enjoying your LJ, and now I realize you are a friend of varshax— who never posts any more…)

as my advisor’s ex-husband (they continue to be great friends)

Can this really happen? Well, yes, I suppose… in this instance, it HAS happened….but somehow I feel, that if a marital relationship sours enough to break up, the friendship underlying the relationship will, too; the friendship would probably be the FIRST thing to go. In fact, to me, the marital relationship is mainly about friendship, and if there were no sex or romance or spark, a marriage would still survive perfectly well on good friendship alone…after all, many arranged marriages are founded on good companionship rather than romantic attraction. But when the marriage breaks up, the negative experience would spoil the friendship, too. I think friends can become lovers, but lovers can rarely get back to being friends…but this couple that putu99 mentions seems to have achieved this..a remarkable feat.

Oh well, thank goodness for a happy marriage…a good relationship, whether marital or not, is such a rock-solid foundation for one’s life, and is a constant source of strength and comfort and joy. When, sometimes, one is at odds with the whole world, how lovely to feel that one can turn to another person and be given unconditional and sometimes wordless comfort and solace, which enables one to face the world again. And when things are going well, there is always the joy of that special glance across a crowded room, that the poet calls “the kiss of the eyes”…

Stephen kissed me in the spring
And Robin in the fall
But Colin only looked at me
And did not kiss at all.

Stephen’s kiss was lost in jest
And Robin’s lost in play.
But the kiss in Colin’s eyes
Haunts me night and day.

…a great springhead of the joy of being alive. When one thinks how rare and wonderful it is to find this kind of love, I am amazed that people should be against it, just because it is between two people who are not married to each other, or between people of the same sex.

Notes to Parents…

July 21, 2007

The family culture in India gives prime importance to the family unit over individuals, and clubbed with our culture of unquestioning respect, it can often be taken by parents to mean that they have complete control over every aspect of their child’s life,even when that child has turned into an adult.

In the past few years, I am increasingly coming across many youngsters who find this quite stifling. While they do love their parents and are willing to obey them within reason, controls that seem to treat the youngster as a child and not as a grown person make the youngster’s life increasingly difficult, as s/he struggles to be an adult outside and a child at home.

One of my nephews was berated for talking to his neighbour’s 17-year old daughter. I ask you! He just talked to her across the garden wall..Well, maybe that was an extreme example, but I also know of parents who said, “The child will go out of control if we give hem hes own way…” as if the youngster would have none of the values the parents are supposed to have installed!

A young man or woman may go away, live apart, finish hes education, and get a job. But when s/he moves back to the parental home, all the controls that were in effect when the child WAS a child seem to take effect again…no partying, constant watch over the whereabouts, no permissions granted…

How did these parents handle things when the child was away? Could they control the child’s early homecoming, or behaviour in other ways? And if they couldn’t control it then, why would they want to do so now?

The child has chosen to come back and live with the parents, but s/he is no longer just a child. S/he is an adult and should be treated that way. The parent has to consciously remember that actually, this adult requires NO permissions or sanctions at all. That s/he abides by the rules of the household is entirely because s/he chooses to do so, especially if the youngster is now financially independent.

But parents often seem to forget this. They keep on controlling the youngster’s activities and very often, this sows the seed of both discontent and rebellion. Very often, the young adult takes the easy way out by lying to the parents about hes activities, not realizing that by doing this, s/he is putting hesself in the wrong, too.

Less often, the young adult makes an honest,principled stand for he srights. Sometimes…rarely, alas…a sensible compromise is reached, and the parents start treating the young person as an adult and peace is restored.

More often, though, emotional scenes result. It is the parents who seem to have the need to control; they try everything, including emotional blackmail, to get the youngster to conform to their rules, many of which the youngster finds both archaic and illogical.

Parents keep quoting the “safety” of the child as a reason for their control. I find this very similar to Islamic extremists demanding that women stay at home and wear the burqa, to be “safe”. Parents seem to confuse ignorance with innocence. A young adult cannot be sheltered away from the world; the whole job of the parents is to prepare the child for adulthood…and what is the use, if then, we prevent our children from BEING adults? It’s like telling a baby never to walk because there is a risk of the infant falling and hurting itself…

In India, I find so many parents (and children) proudly claiming things like, “I don’t smoke/ drink in front of my parents/ S/he doesn’t smoke/drink in front of me.” What’s so wonderful about this? If you know, and your child knows, the s/he smokes or drinks (and I still can’t understand the moral value put on these two activities), why does s/he have to do it behind the parents’ back? Is hypocrisy such a great quality, to be praised? Do we really want our children to be Jekyll and Hydes, have one bland personality in front of us, and show hes wild side when we are not looking?

I have heard several parents proudly say, “S/he will do exactly as I say.” Oh my goodness! Do you have a child or a robot or a pet dog? If your child does not have a personality of hes own, surely you have been too restrictive?

Parents cannot…and therefore should not try to… control grown-up children. In fact, at any age, unreasonable control as a parenting tool sows the seeds for its own failure. If parents are reasonable, and a good set of parameters is worked out for the young adult living with hes parents, it’s a great outcome, and both generations benefit. The filial bond becomes the stronger for the mutual respect, tolerance and understanding, and the child/parent relationship evolves into a very deep and strong adult/adult relationship.

Of course, not all children are the same; some are content to think like their parents do, and in these cases, it doesn’t really matter if the relationship doesn’t evolve very much. But in most other cases, the transition is required..and the effort must come mostly from the parents.

We are proud of our Indian culture, and generally, with very good reason. But there are areas where our extreme stress on obedience should give way to mututal respect instead of permanent child/parent relationship.

I think it’s the parents who need to grow up. After all, the young adult is young, and will be hot-headed and eager to try life. It is up to the parents to be wise and mature and handle the butterfly emerging from the pupa. The most successful parents are those who produce, not children, but mature, responsible adults.

Childhood incident

July 21, 2007

Reading the journal of premkudva is so enjoyable, with the antics of his daughters bringing a smile to my face and brightening up many a dull day. And the best part is that it brings back so many memories of my daughter’s childhood…

I had just taught her how to “borrow” numbers from the next column and do subtraction ( I don’t remember if she was in Class II or III at the time) and she came back from the end-of-term examination with her maths paper, which I proceeded to check. On one sum, she had a most weird answer. Unable to find out how she arrived at that answer, I asked her. “I borrowed, like you told me!” she said proudly.

Turned out that she had borrowed a number…from the next sum! Her child’s logic was was she to know that the other sums on the question paper were off limits for borrowing?

My bebby, so grown up, so far away today…I go back and enjoy your childhood, now and then.

Transportation..the new and the old…

July 21, 2007

A snap of the road leading away from the Ranganathittu river landing…

Transportation...the new and the old

I like the way the CR-V is right next to our age-old form of transportation, the bullock cart, laden with palm fronds which will be used for fuel, to to make a thatched roof….

I love the beauty of the banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis), an ethnic tree, that spreads over the road, casting welcome shade….

It’s a beautiful, calm evening. Somewhere, beyond, the rushing world whizzes past, but here it’s peace and quiet, punctuated only by the cowbells and birdsong.

Sunrise and sunset are, to me, really wonderful times.


July 20, 2007

Incredible…again and again, it happens, and we think, next time we’ll learn…but no, we don’t.

Truly, our emotions make fools of us. When we are swayed by emotion and feelings, rationality takes a back seat; the emotions cloud one’s judgement, and we start justifying our actions to ourselves, saying that because of a, b, c reasons, what we are doing is the only course possible.

Another person does something that we feel to be wrong. We lose our equilibrium over it, and decide on a course of action–well, more a reaction to the other person’s action– which is, in a different way, also incorrect.

We still the small voice within us that tells us, no matter what the behaviour of another person may be, we should not put ourselves also in the wrong. When friends point out something that is incorrect in our own hehaviour,we cut the friends off, much as we cut off our inner voice. At this time of roused emotions and stirred feelings, we do not want to hear anything except our own point of view; we want to feel justified in what we are doing.

It’s incredibly difficult not to let emotions and feelings rule us…all our efforts to conquer our emotions seem to fail within a split second when our feelings reach a flashpoint, and a normally rational response is destroyed by our emotional storm. The tsunami of feelings rages, and the calm landscape of our minds is laid waste.

I think it is freedom from the rough and tumble of our emotions that the Buddha speaks of as serenity…that calm in the face of both happiness and sorrow that gives us Nirvana…perfect tranquillity. But for the average human being, that serenity is as far out of reach as the far side of the moon.

It’s easy to think that one has found that serenity, when things are going well. It is when the tides turn against us that we come up against the negative emotions and find that we are, after all, still being tossed upon the roller-coaster ride that our emotions take us on.

There is a beautiful bhajan by Guru Nanak, which talks of the qualities of such a human being:

jO nar dukh mein
dukh nahin mAney
sukh saneh aru bhay nahin jAkey
kanchan mAti jAney…

aru nindA stuthi bhay nahin jiskO
lObh mOh abhimAnA
harash sankatEy rahE niyAri
nAhin mAn apmAna….

AshA man kA sakal thyAg key
jagtey rahEy nirAshA
kAm krOdh jehi tharsEy nAhin
jyoon hi ghat brahm nivAsA

guru kirupa jinhi nar pE keenhin
thinhi ih jugti picchAnhi…
nAnak leen bhayO gObind sO
jyoon pAni sang pAni…

The man who does not see sorrow in sorrow,
Who is equally unfraid of pleasure and attachment,
He knows gold to be mud…

The man who is not afraid of scorn or praise,
Who is immune to greed,infatuation or egotism;
He retains his calm in both happiness and in crisis;
He has no sense of pride, or shame…

The man who has given up all the desires of his mind,
And lives, desireless;
The one whom neither lust nor anger can oppress…
Therein lives the BrahmaN.

The man who has the mercy of his Guru
Is followed by the world;
Nanak wants to be one with the lord (Gobind)
Like water becomes one with water…

Post Script:

Er…no. Nothing has happened to ME…this is just a philosophical, rhetorical, academic reflection!

It finally came to this…

July 20, 2007

KM often keeps saying he has forgotten names of people, places and things…today we were chatting and he was mentioning that he forgot something…and later in the conversation, he said, “I forgot somthing earlier..what was it?”

He even forgot what he forgot…!

Bangalore Traffic Police…Verse, and Worse….

July 19, 2007