Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

The last few leaves…..

December 25, 2014

I tear off the leaf of my daily calendar.It’s a habit that’s a long-standing one… for many years, I always asked my sister in law, to buy a “rANi mutthu” daily calendar for me (I was superstitious..the 2 years that I bought one for myself, I lost my parents, and then again, once, when I did this, I lost my brother. Now, I’ve lost a lot, including the superstition, and I buy my own.)

At the start of the year, it’s a fat, thick wad of papers. It represents the future..unknown, yet to be experienced. There are hopes, there are fears. There is speculation on what may come to pass…or not.

Then, the leaves slowly start dropping. No, it’s not fall, it’s just the daily tear-off.

This year, there was a big hiatus from June to November. I came back from a visit to Scandinavia and the US, and tore off a huge chunk of the future-that-had-turned-into-the-past.Since then, it’s been pretty much a leaf a day, except the visit to Delhi which lasted a week. (I should have got my sis in law a calendar when I went, but it hadn’t come on sale yet.)

Now, the piece of cardboard has just a few leaves…dates….attached. Detachment…when I detach the leaves from the calendar, why don’t I also practice another kind of detachment? I should let the past go. Missing my grandchildren so intensely that it hurts…missing things from a past life that will never return…why do I allow these unprofitable thoughts? Attachment must drop from me, as the leaves do when I pull them off the calendar.

I will go out in a day or two, and get another calendar. Soon, it will be time for this baby-fat Murugan to go to the recycling, while another one will smile at me, over another stuck-together-with-cloth-and-gum pile of 365 small sheets of paper, that tell me the date according to the English and Tamizh calendars, tell me the auspicious and inauspicious times of the day, the “star” of the day, the time of the lunar month, and mention which south Indian temple has what festival….and also what festival it is for several other religions, as well as leaders’ birthdays and national holidays and Hindu festivals. For example, today it has the picture of C Rajagopolachari whose birthday it is, and a Santa with balloons to denote Christmas.

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My daily calendar…an unobtrusive yet essential part of my daily life. Tearing a page off usually means that twenty-four hours have gone by. What have I achieved? What have I thought? How have I treated others? I do not always introspect…but I am doing so now, when there are just a few leaves left.

Let me muse on the way this year has gone, as time creeps past, and the leaves fall from my mind, and my life, as well as from my calendar….

On the death of children….

December 17, 2014

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Yesterday,
Children reached out
For the shimmering colours
Of their future
Little knowing
That their own elders
Would burst that bubble
In the red glare of a bloodbath.
Nothing will remain now
But the memory of their innocence.
Trusting lambs,
Slaughtered where they came to learn, to grow.
Agony, incredible pain,
In the hearts of their families.
What inhuman beings are these
Whose hearts hold so much anger
And hatred, that they can kill children
In cold blood?

Every child, to me, is like my little grandchildrn, chasing dreams, with happiness and hope..

Economic development and its dependencies: different lifestyles

December 15, 2014

Visiting any large city,and observing the different worlds that co-exist, is always a thought-provoking experience. Gurgaon is no different.

Here’s the view of one of the thousands of high-rise apartments that have come up in this was-a-sleepy-village:

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To me, however, what gives character to this photograph is not the high-rise..but that cluster of buildings nestling below it, with the spire of a temple as well.

In those homes live the people who make life convenient for the occupants of the high-rises; the faceless people who provide so many services: maids, ironing-wallahs, drivers, security guards, gardeners, the innumerable tasks that the relatively cheap labour in India takes on.T The prosperous middle-class would collapse without these services that take away some of the strife of daily living in this country, rendered by people who do not have other people to take away their own strife.

Motorized fossil-fuel transport, of course, is the backbone of this kind of residential area, but right next to the motorized transport in this photo, is a greener option: the cycle rickshaw, which does not depend on electricity or fossil fuel. I was happy to see many plying everywhere.

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Here’s someone delivering large PVC pipes somewhere by cycle rickshaw, this one modified for cargo:

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In fact, I was tickled to see some motorized transportation being consigned to a dusty oblivion:

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Here’s someone who fills mattresses with cotton (or is it some artificial filler, I wonder) and then sells them:

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Some provide services by carting away the deteritus of a consumer lifestyle:

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Some get excellent exercise while commuting:

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Here’s a “chik” (bamboo-slat blind) maker, whose blinds will add to the ambience of so many “ethnically” decorated apartments:

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Other people provide services for those who provide services. Everywhere, mobile carts catered to the needs of those less financially well-endowed than their high-rise brethren:

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Here are the people who tend to the the little greenery that surrounds each high-rise:

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Here, a mobile cycle-rickshaw, so ingeniously fitted with a pressure pump,that allows car, van and truck tyres to be inflated:

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This is Indian

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at its best…no more waiting at petrol pumps to inflate one’s tyres!

The urban scenario is not a pretty one for the lower economic strata:

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Pollution and litter seem to be part of their lot, and yet they manage to exist…and thrive, and have a blue-eyed vision of their future:

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Here’s a night view, with the building (in the first photograph) to the left:

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Fascinating to see how, in the same space, so many different lifestyles go on!

The heights a job can take people to…..Gurgaon, 111214

December 11, 2014

I went for a walk today, and was awed by the size of the highrise buildings all around me in Gurgaon, Haryana…now a suburb of Delhi, the capital.

As I climbed back to my sister-in-law’s 19th floor flat (boast, boast…I can do 19 floors after an hour’s walk!), it suddenly occurred to me, as I crossed the 7th floor, that I could take a pic of the view from each floor and make it into a movie. So here’the 7th to the 19th floors:

I saw a few garbage collectors doing their jobs on each floor; I didn’t photograph them out of sensitivity…I don’t think they would have liked it.

While on my walk, I saw this incredibly tall fire-fighting crane:

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It belonged to the DLF Firefighting Service (apparently each Phase of this residential complex has one, this is Phase Five)

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I imagined a firefighter, high up on that small platform on top, going to the rescue of residents in apartment buildings, quite high up.

Then, I found something that I didn’t have to imagine. A speck on the building opposite me caught my eye.

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Can you see the window-cleaner?

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I zoomed in:

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Dangling by that rope (though it seemed a safe piece of equipment, it certainly gave me vertigo), he was busy with his work:

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I walked home, musing that those in “high places” in the pursuit of their jobs or careers need not always be the object of our envy. I salute people like this, who take up “high-level” jobs where they live with danger every working day, and take it in their stride.

On different orientation…..

November 7, 2014

A thread about cross-dressing, trans-genders and homosexuality prompted a friend to write the following mythological/religious reference on a mailing list:

Just consider the following:
1. Shiva cross-dressed as Ardhanarishwara

2. Arjuna cross-dressed as Bruhannala

3. Vishnu, not only cross-dressed, but actually “crossed over” as Mohini, had an affair with Shiva and produced Hariharaputra/Shaasta/Ayyappa.

4. We have a tradition that Aravaan, who was Arjuna’s son was expected to die in the next day’s battle—-such was the prophecy. Aravaan was asked as to what his last wish was. He wanted to marry. No one wanted to marry a person who was going to die the next day. Finally a transvestite/Hijra volunteered. That is why Hijras are also called Aravaanis. There are Aravaan temples which are visited by Hijras and others.

5. Many male Krishna-worshippers, even today cross-dress as Radha and worship Krishna.

6. In the 1500-year old Jambukeswara Temple at Tiruvanaikovil near Tiruchirapalli, even today, every day at noon, the priest cross-dresses as a young woman and performs the puja to Shiva.

7. Sakhi and Sakha are all traditions with enormous homoerotic content and are considered entirely legitimate.

8. Khajuraho has sculptures depicting both male homosexuality and lesbianism. At least our ancestors did not feel these were “dirty” for the temple atmosphere. If they are dirty, it is only because the dirt arises in the mind of the beholder.

In fact, cross-dressing, pursuit of androgyny, homo-eroticism, transvestite identities etc. are so common and frequent in Hindu traditions that they do not even call for excess comment. Arjuna, who is one of our great heroes, exhibited signs of bisexuality, cross-dressing and a refreshing androgynous personality. He was known as “Sabyasachi” because he was ambidextrous and could shoot arrows from both hands. The term also captures his inherent androgyny. Quite cool, if you ask me.

My take on homosexuality/lesbianism:

How on earth does it matter who we sleep with, or not? The people we are are what matters. I too have several friends of a different orientation; when they told me so, my response was that I was waiting for the day when it would no longer be necessary to make these statements at all.

Especially in our repressed, hypocritical Indian culture, where even heterosexual activity is so frowned upon, just imagine how tough life must be if one has a different orientation (it’s been proved that this is genetic and not a cultivated choice.)

We can be in denial, as we seem to be often in denial of there being child molesters in so many Indian families. Or…we can accept an aspect of humanity that has existed as long as humanity does. Believe me, as a naturalist, I know that such behaviour is common to other species too. If we remove the moral tag from so many things….smoking, drinking, non-vegetarianism, and others…we would, I feel, be happier people ourselves, accepting those whom we meet for what they are.

I have several friends on both sides of the spectrum, and the good friends are good friends NMW…No Matter What!

When D’s uncle and his partner (they’ve been together for 20+ years now) came to attend DnA’s wedding, we were rather apprehensive about whether they would face whispers and sniggers. But on the other hand, my friends seemed to perceive them as people, and everyone got along so well!

One of my gay friends in Bangalore laughs about the fact that landlords are so against letting an apartment out to a young man and a young woman, and unthinkingly let their homes out to two men or two women.

Let’s just meet and interact with people as people, and not go by the bodies they inhabit! And let’s remember…love is so precious and rare to find in this world, let’s not scorn it because it may come in an unusual garb….pun intended!

I must be careful…

November 5, 2014

A lesson I have learnt from the moon.

I may imagine that I am carefully showing only my illuminated, best parts to the world…but my dark side will also show….

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Two very different destinations

October 12, 2014

We pay a lot of homage
To success.
I’ve been watching a music video.
I see the packed halls;
I see the roaring cheers.
It makes me think about the road to this place, Success…
The gigs in small towns, the half-empty places,
The wondering if, after all,
One has the staying power
That, allied (or not) to talent
Could reach that elusive goal….Success.
The road that leads to Success
Can often curve, imperceptibly,
Into the blind alleys of Failure, too.
Success and Failure are like the two faces
Of Janus; one looking forward into the light,
The other, fading into the dimness, the darkness,
Of oblivion, sinking away into the numbers
That are described, in racing parlance,
As “also-rans”.
The efforts that lead to Failure
Are no less than those that fetch up at Success.
I feel for those who end up at the wrong destination….

The music video that brought this on:

Beauty defies time….

September 30, 2014

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We may exist for a minute;
Our size may be minute;
But, in the little time it has…
The fly is iridiscent,
It brings life to the metallic shine.
The casual passerby
Takes a second look,
And stands, transfixed
At the shimmer of colour, and shadows.
When the leaves leave
And the fly flies,
The memory of the fleeting moment
Remains, etched in the mind…

Reflections on Krishna Jayanti (Janmashtami)

September 16, 2014

A friend on a mailing list had talked about Krishna, and said:

Surprisingly, the word Krishna means dark/ black color. However this had not affected his immense popularity.

One point occurs to me, visiting St.Louis at a time when division based on the colour of one’s skin is more pronounced than ever, in this deeply segregated city.

​I personally find the “dark/black colour” of Krishna has been sanitized in Indian folklore (like Rama’s skin colour, too!) to a purple-blue, from the actual dark grey that “megha varNam” is…the rain-bearing monsoon clouds certainly don’t have a hue other than that!

I have heard so many Indian people claim, with righteous pride, “We venerate dark gods.” It is precisely these people, for whom the colour of even a god seems important, who seem more intolerant of darkness of skin in humans.

I think it is the other qualities of Krishna…his romantic allure, his people skills, and indeed, his crafty statesmanship…that account for his popularity.That, and his association with music, and the allied “lalit kala” (fine arts.)

I can never help being impressed by the subtlety by which he ensured that the Pandavas’ representative, Arjuna, got the first choice of his guidance in the war. (He asked one Pandava and one Kaurava to come and sit next to him, and ask their boons when he awoke. Arjuna devotedly sat at his feet as he slept, and Duryodhana proudly sat at his head. This ensured that on waking, Krishna saw Arjuna first, and gave him the first choice. Arjuna chose Krishna, and the Kauravas got Krishna’s armies. It does intrigue me that Krishna, knowing in advance the outcome of the war, so easily sacrificed his loyal soldiers on the battlefield.)

In Anjana’s high school Hindi text book (probably Class 5 or 6, in the early nineties) there was a prose passage which dealt with Krishna, not as a god, but as an excellent statesman and leader of the various tribes which made up the kingdoms around Mathura.

I thought that Rahi Masoom Reza’s characterization of Krishna in the famous TV serial as a mischieviousm impish person, not above the occasional deviousness and political stratagem, is very human, and sticks close to the persona that most of our literature and music talk about.

God or man? The choice is ours to make, based on our faith, or lack of it.

Walking into the sunset, 250814

August 27, 2014

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When, in stories, a person “walks into the sunset”, there are no pages left in the book (except, perhaps, of a listing of other books by the same author, or similar books.) But in real life…life goes on. There may not be any conclusion of the hopes–and fears– that the person carries along…and the next sunrise awaits.


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