Category Archives: Thoughts/ Ideas

Whenever I come back to blogging after a long break( which has happened several times btw), I feel stumped at the thought of what I could write about. There are several reasons for this.

1. I am always thoroughly guilty about my lack of perseverance and feel the need to write something very nice which will make my page stats go berserk.

2. I also try to comment and read up on what others I have follow have been writing about and I feel tempted to write about a whole bunch of ideas.

3.Invariably the last post I have written promises an upcoming awesome insightful post and often I have forgotten what the hell that was about. BUT! This time I remember. Its coming right up my lovelies.

4. Its usually filled with profuse apologies about my absence which could happen again very soon.

Nevertheless, we shall remain forever hopeful and go right ahead, writing our souls out to the world, yet cupping our hands around this very soul to never sell it to this duniya (TERMINOLOGY: Duniya= world , language: Hindi)

On this note, before the promised insight, here is another insight on this duniya by a wonderful poet and lyricist, the late Sahir Ludhianvi.  But I like this version by Piyush Mishra from the movie Gulaal , much more.


Here is the meaning.
so deep, so profound, so fucking depressing. yet so powerful.

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February 20, 2013 · 5:21 pm

people getting married

My grandparents are my favourite people in the world. They are also quite deaf and I suspect its my grandma’s habit of watching TV real loud that made him hard of hearing too. When they are around, conversations are funny and repeated four times. We all talk really loudly and the TV volume is further increased and so we all talk more loudly. Even if they want to talk about something secretly, they go to the other room and talk loud enough for us to hear. haha! I love them. Blindly and more than anyone.

Last year, they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. It was on 2nd April, 1951 , a day after April Fool’s  Day ,(my grandfather often jokes about it) that they got married. So 60 years on, we arranged a great party and even had their friends from old times over. Watching them that night, and even now, it struck me that even after so many years of being together, they still have things to say to eachother. They even spend all their time together, so its not as if they are informing eachother about what they did that day. They look out for eachother and truly care. They still fight and crack jokes about eachother to us.  But I know, they would crack without eachother.

 

My grandparents’ wedding photograph, 1951

Their marriage was arranged by their parents and they hadn’t even met before they got married.  And this is how it turned out. On that one day, I felt may be marriages can work. But may be it was just them. May be they wouldn’t have separated even they hated the guts of eachother simply because of societal stigma.  One never knows.

My grandparents of Grandpa’s 80th birthday ceremony

Yet, I am somehow, never lay my hands around the idea of spending the rest of your life with one person. Though I understand the value of companionship, the idea of spending the rest of your life with one person, really scares me. You might say you are in love with him. But I wonder if it won’t fizzle out, won’t you begin to doubt, get bored, get scared or fall in love with someone else? I know that divorce is fairly common and accepted now. However, why would anyone enter a relationship, already anticipating an end and knowing that they have a way out of it?

I read in the news today that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are splitting after 5 years of marriage. Can you beleive it, after he clowned around so much on Oprah. I don’t care about them at all but didn’t they have time earlier to figure out that they don’t get along? Arnold Schwarzernegger and his wife split up after 25 years of marriage because of some illegitimate child he fathered many years back. I know I can in no capacity understand her situation, but I suppose I could forgive some mistake like that. Especially if I have discovered that for 25 years  this person has kept me happy and we can be in the same room, without shattering plates or having the silence shatter us.

Marriage is something I haven’t understood even with the countless movies, famous couples or even with my own family and parents. I don’t know why its necessary to put that tag on your relationship just because society is comfortable with it and thinks it appropriate for you to want it. Even live-in relationships can have everything a marriage has. and have equal chances of failing, ofcourse. Why does an acknowledgement by a governments civil laws or by a religion, make a relationship sacred or more important? I am sure the breaking of any other relationship should be just as painful and important or unimportant.

In India, parents think its their duty to get their children married by the mid-twenties and pay for it too. The whole event or the not timely occurrence of it is a stigma and becomes an over-riding question in the lives of the parents, grandparents, uncles,aunts, neighbours and colleagues. It becomes everyone’s business really.

As my understanding of it stands now, love usually fizzles out. and after that its just habit and fear of the lack of this person, or of loneliness that keeps one going. Marriage usually adds other wheels like children and property to this.  I am not really sure of all these things about relationships are marriages.  But I sure of one thing- that I am afraid to find out the truth.

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My Himalayan Story 2012

I was in the Himalayas this summer. Trekking upto almost 13000 feet, we crossed the Saurkundi pass in the Kullu valley through an expedition organised by the Youth Hostel Association of India. From reporting at the base camp to touching the base camp again after the trek it was 11 days in all.  As we climbed and went to each campsite, nature in all its splendour was revealed to us.

The thing about the Himalayas is that never ceases to amaze you. I have been to the Himalayas before while trekking on another valley, and yet, this time again , I was moved beyond words to see snow-peaked mountains. It’s incredible to see these shimmering white all around, except perhaps a few mountains far across that have black clouds hovering above and are shrouded in fog, and you know that it’s snowing there. The fresh sweet water, the wind whispering tales of where its been, green blades of grass uncrumpled, the kiss of the first few snow drops –  everything resides within me.

The wind is young, the wind is alive.

This time, we were the 15th group to leave from the Saurkundi base-camp at Babeli and were hence called SK15. Quite funnily, my younger brother was chosen the group leader and after two days of acclimatization, we set out for the top.  I have been on such treks before, but what was extraordinary was that 25 deaf-and-dumb students from a school in Bhavnagar(Gujarat) were trekking with us along with their teachers for guidance. Spending many days with them, they taught us not just the sign-language, but many more lessons. They were always so excited to learn and really see what was around them. They accepted their handicap as a part of something god-given and never were they upset about it. I remember, once I was talking to one of them in sign language and telling him that I love to dance. I asked him what he liked, drawing?singing? To that, he indicated, ‘yes, singin. But I can’t really sing because I have no voice.’ Thats when I realized. I had become so engrossed in conversing that I had forgotten his disability. A glass shattered within me as I realized that even our hobbies have so much to do with our senses which we so often take so much for granted. They could not hear music. I was distressed. I apologized to him and he just replied saying that god had made him that way. I also realized that its stupid that I was surprised at these children being able to trek. Ofcourse they could. They had their limbs, but more than that, they had the will. It was me who was disabled in the mind, to think that this was a great challenge for them. They had conquered much more, a long time back.

I suppose some disabilities are apparent, and others are not. In some way, we all are disabled. Or “differently-abled”, as its called in the parlance of our times.

Wes once told me something very remarkable. He pointed out how they laughed so uninhibited and with so much truth, when infact, they couldn’t even hear themselves or each other. Its been more than a month since this, and I haven’t gotten over what he said.

Well, getting back to the trek. We lived in tents at each camp and got simple yet nourishing food that will give us the stamina and strength to climb. It’s always fun at these treks. There are so many different people around, there is time to socialize and yet be alone and contemplate. Everything from politics to stupid toilet habits are discussed, and a new intimacy is found. This is a comfortable one, where there is not much hope of meeting again, though there are promises. This is an intimacy , that you think might soon fizzle out with distance,and so there is also an uninhibited-ness about the bonds formed. I met a lot of fabulous people here. Aparna, Minhaj and Wes, being the closest. Ofcourse, I found out once again, that my brother is a superb guy. At one of the lunch stops, a guy came along with the local attire and jewellery that women in the Kullu valley wear. He rented it to me for Rs 20 while I clicked pictures with it on. I even held a kid (baby goat) while I posed and learnt some steps from the local folk dance from him. 🙂

In one of the camps, Dora Thatch, I witnessed a sight we only see in paintings. Up away a little above, the hill we were on was silhouetted against a deep navy blue sky. In it, was a single large planet, the shining Venus. I had never seen her so large. On the hill, we saw silhouettes of ponies grazing and bounding around.  I saw this, and such beautiful sights that I don’t have the right words to describe.

I hope my brain and my memory, can forever recollect these sights and images and people in the exact shape and shade. I don’t want to forget the details. I don’t want to forget the water’s taste. Most of all, I don’t want to forget that freedom. I don’t want to lose it.

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Breaking the ghetto

As I mentioned earlier, I am visiting my parents in Kuwait this summer. But honestly, it’s quite easy to forget that sometimes over here. Now, we reside in a part of Kuwait where mostly Indians and Pakistanis live. When we step out of the house, people on the streets, parks and malls looks exactly like the people back in India and it does not really feel like we are in a “foreign” country. The local shopkeepers and street-end grocers speak Tamil and Malayalam(south Indian languages) and you can be sure that anyone in the area will respond to your Hindi. Before we go ahead, I must emphasize to those who don’t know already, that Arabs (West-Asian origin)look quite different from Indians (South-Asian origin) in terms of facial features and physical built. Now let’s get to the point.

Why does an Indian or South Asian ghetto even exist here in the first place??! Why do people like to flock with others of a common or even a similar origin irrespective of whether they like the fellow clansmen or not?  This scenario is not just limited to Kuwait, every city has such spaces that can be said to be an area specifically populated by people of a specific races, countries, religions, regions, languages, ages.   All my parents’ friends here are Indians and as far as I can perceive , belonging to certain privileged castes(as such a problem exists in India), class and I suppose also largely vegetarian like my family. I remember meeting a particular Aunty who always always criticizes Kuwaitis whenever she speaks. She talks about how “they” waste food in restaurants, splurge money, ill treat maids, buy too much stuff at the mall etc. But how can a certain people be just generically criticized of a behaviour that I am sure exists even outside of them and I am definitely sure exists also in the people this Aunty will call her own brethren. She probably hasn’t really spoken to a Kuwaiti beyond an “excuse me” and not interacted with them at all. Don’t such preconceived notions definitely stop her and us all from actually ever really getting to know anybody who is born different from us.

Its really strange that what people consider “community” changes in different places and often depends on how far they are from a place they consider their “home” or the place they belong to. For instance, back in University, the Tamilians, Bengalis, Assamese, etc made what they call cultural associations so that others of similar origin and language can gather and mingle, celebrate festivals, eat, date , etc. Delhi also has a Bengali ghetto called Chitaranjan Park and Okhla has actual territories that are divided as Hindu and Muslim where people belonging to the other religion don’t even enter. 😐  Yes, so grave is the situation in the capital of India.

But boss, you should see an India v/s Pakistan cricket match. The most recent of these stand=offs was the ICC World Cup 2011 Final match and it was just crazy how the Indians rooted for the Indian team and rejoiced when Pakistan lost. I suppose the situation is the same on the other side of the border as well. The tension between the countries remains and is quite bitter and aggressive especially when there are unfortunate acts of violence in either country. As for me, I am of a delicate heart when it comes to this, and wanted Pakistan to win that cricket match simply because they needed the victory.

I emphasized the tension between India and Pakistan because I have seen that Indians and Pakistanis bond with each other when they are in Kuwait. The other day we went to an amusement park here and met another family who looked “very Indian” and on speaking we got to know they are Pakistanis and we hung out for sometime and there was not an ounce of bitterness. I suppose that for a lot of people , meeting someone from anywhere near where they are can kindle a sense of brotherhood. I wonder why a brown skin among a sea of white faces should make someone feel at home. (Ofcourse, the same could be different or the exact opposite perhaps for say, Indian who is born and/or brought up in America.)

Guys, so please, just ‘unghetto’. It could make a world of difference. It is actually going to make for a safe interdependent neighbourhood because that is how we could begin to deal with trust issues that have enslaved our minds and bound us from new experiences.

May be I have no right to say all this because I haven’t lived in another country for very long periods, but so far, I have noticed that for me “people are just people”. hah, that’s a line from Regina Spektor’s song, Ghost of Corporate Future. She also says “the world is everlasting, its coming and its going.” So I want to make the most of this world while I come and go and know that I could, without any preconceived paradigms, experience all the people and things that make the world as wonderful as it is. I hope that when it comes to it, I don’t run to some Indian ghetto in whichever part of the world I live in and mix it up bitches!

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Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

Last week in our Surveying Western Art class we learnt about the artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), a contemporary of Vincent van Gogh. Though this Gauguin fellow is highly problematic, politically incorrect, racist and quite a male chauvinist, I love his work and style. His use of colours, ways of seeings and plain cheekiness intrigues me and I guess that is what makes me appreciate him.

Anyway, one painting of his that we saw was titled Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? . Painted in 1897, the painting is an artistic representation of the conflicts and questions that plague Gauguin at that time. As the 19th century was being engulfed by the promise and threat of new discoveries and challenges to beliefs.

Here is the painting –

Paul Gauguin, Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

And here is a commentary and small catalogue on the painting taken from http://litmed.med.nyu.edu/Annotation?action=view&annid=10412 that gives a great insight into the painting.

Irrespective of whether one grasps what Gauguin is trying to show in this painting or not,  I am really struck by the fact that its has been 115 years now since he asked this question and painted this masterpiece. Yet, after more than a century, in 2012, we are still asking the same existential questions. If anything, we are all the more perplexed by the whirl and enmeshed nature of reality and life around us.

Indeed I ask, Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

 

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When I can’t make “When I grow up..” statements

Whenever I call or text someone to wish them on their birthday, I find myself running out of creative ways to wish them and birthday related stuff to talk about. I mean, apart from the usual ‘what are your plans for the day?’, ‘hope you have fun’, ‘where is the party?’, et al what does one ask anyway.

But I think the conversation is easier when its someone’s 18th birthday, atleast in India. There are these list of things you are legal to do – like voting, get married, donate blood, have sex, get a license. So when you wish someone, you can tell how fun life ahead is going to be with all these extra activities they can do legally.

‘You are an adult now. There are so many things you can DO now!’

But what really is Being an Adult? Obviously just arriving at 18 doesn’t make us any more adult than we were a day before. Adulthood comes with certain events in our lives that have nothing to do with birthdays.This may come to you earlier than at 18 years, or if you are lucky, much later.

Something I saw today made me realize that these events are changes that actually hurl you into adulthood and most of the time, its without your permission.

My friend of 11 years and classmate from school lost her father yesterday. Like me, she is just 20 years old and in that confused phase of life when you are done with college and have to decide where you want to take your life. But the events of the last 40 odd days when Uncle got hospitalised and admitted in the ICU and yesterday when he breathed his last, seem to have suddenly moulded her into a woman. Today, when I and a few others spent the day with her to help out with anything and just talk to her, we witnessed how boldly she was taking it in her stride. She did cry occasionally a little and may be she will cry to sleep and cry in the solitude of the bathroom, but her maturity was apparent when he held her wailing mother with a look of strength and calmness and an embrace that seemed to ward off all grief. May be it is today, more than ever before, that she would start living and feeling like a” responsible adult”.  Having said that I still don’t know if that is a real defined term.

But perhaps I got a sense of it today too. Before heading to her place, I was waiting for another friend Busty below her building and saw some kids playing hopscotch. Thats when I realized how it was not very many years back that we went out to play with our friends. When there was a death, it was our parents who had to deal with it and think about what are the correct things to say.  And suddenly now, we had to deal with it and think about what are the right things to say to console someone. Does one smile? When is one supposed to leave? Is there a particular colour of clothing for this occasion? Regardless of these immaterial things, what can you do to make your friend feel ok?

It is said that we should always embrace change and not resent it. But when this change is something out of your control, and something you didn’t even choose, what do you do? May be there is no choice but to accept and embrace it.

But how long is it before you are at peace with it?

It was great when as kids we could play outside till dinner time, watch cartoons, remain untainted and innocent and rarely ever wonder about worldly problems. Though adulthood might be bereft of these things, I have always liked to believe that life, even in its adult version, is going to be awesome despite its ups and downs. But I just wish the transition was smooth for us all.

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Shangri-la

Shangri-la is an  imaginary remote paradise on earth.A remote and secluded hideaway of great beauty and peacefulness. Correction : Its not imaginary.

I was just there.

A bunch of my friends and I went for a trek to the Himalayas along with a trekking group.We scaled Sar Pass at 13800 feet which over looks the Parvati Valley. The Himalayas in its quiet snow-clad peaks makes one listen to their own inner voice.Each of us had new experiences, secured new bonds and friendships, new ideas,new insights.The beauty all around , the snow,the greenery,the waterfalls,streams,the countless stars, the oh-so-impossibly photoshop blue sky and the fresh air keeps everyone in good spirits.It can make you appreciate nature and make us realize what we are loosing.It can give us answers that we have always had within us.It can make difficult decisions easy to take and accept.

Its not just the atmosphere that does this to you.Its the people around. Our fellow trekkers came from different fields and belonged to different age groups and different parts of the country.They all had wonderful qualities and love for nature.We would trek together for hours , discuss philosophies and issues that are important to us,learn from each other, support and cheer each other. We encountered some heroes too. These were the lady porters who carried the rucksacks for some trekkers.The would trek up all the way from their village way below and be at our campsite before we leave each morning.After we reached our next higher campsite, they would go back all the way again to their village and walk back once more in the morning.All this with such a cheerful demeanor.

This trek taught a lot of things. Every place has something to give and teach us.And so do it’s people.

It was definitely a welcome change from the fast never-ending circuit life that we lead in the cities.For a change , there was no 8.03 train to catch. It just never mattered what the time was. There was no cell phone,no facebook or internet, no news to occupy your mind and time.

Most importantly, there was time for oneself. To think. and the surroundings were such that gave you clarity.There was love for the world.And love for one-self found.

I made peace with myself. I believe again.

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Remember when you were young , you shone like the sun..

About four years back, on the first day of FYJC (11th std) in college ,my English professor told the class about how we should make the most of our youth. She said , when we are young, we are full of dreams.Our eyes have a certain glimmer. We are hopeful about the future and so sure that the world is great just like everybody in it and that things are going to end up just fine. We are joyous and carefree.She also said that by the time we reach our final year in college,the light is gone. We let go of so many of our dreams and don’t believe.  She hoped for us that our light remained.

I hoped so too.

But it didn’t remain.

I’ve wanted to become a journalist ever since I was 11. I knew I would do really well. There wasn’t a hurry to get anywhere. Just sheer belief in my own ability and will power. I was sure my light wouldn’t fade.

And yet ,now barely 4 years down the line,  I have become more cynical than I used to be. I still believe in the awesomeness of the world and the universe , but I have become aware of the bad people and also of the bad in me. My belief system has changed. My opinions. The way I see myself too. My idea of success is in doubt. And now I even question whether it is important to be successful. Atleast if the societal idea of success is important to me. I am a people person and very social , and yet I have become anti- social in a way.  I largely differ with majority of the people I deal with everyday. I resent being conditioned with certain ideas that don’t go with the rest of my new ideas and feel irritated by my inability to break this conditioning.

There have been so many new discoveries and learnings. I am excited and curious about the future. about science. about the learning and knowledge that is yet to come. about the universe.

And yet I know,…Somewhere, the light has dimmed.

And when I read this, I see so many ‘I’ s . And I wonder , who the hell do I think I am? Why do I think I am so important in this universe when I am all but a microsecond in the lifetime of a star millions of light years away. What is life about and where is it heading? Or does it even matter? But of course it matters! That is what keeps us going , right? The frequency if ‘I’s shows such an ego. Who is this ‘I’ that I keep talking about? Have I turned out to be the way I was meant to be? Have I turned out to be like rMU would have been had she not been nurtured by society in any manner? What was I meant to be?  Have I just formed myself to fit how I am described?

There are so many questions. But are they important at all?

Or should we continue with our rants about putting on weight , global warming and  rising prices?

There is one life that I know of and many purposes to it. When there are so many questions and uncertainties  , belief  and hope are important. And though I am the eternal optimist ( I am a thinking one which doesn’t work at all) , the light has somewhere dimmed a little.

And now,

I remember when I was young,
I shone like the sun…

Its not as if I am ancient now .

Nevertheless, there ensues a search for the light again , and some answers too.

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