Friday, July 31, 2009

Whale or mermaid?

Recently, somewhere in France, a poster featuring a young, thin and tanned woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said:


A woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.

To Whom It May Concern:

Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans). They have an active sex life, they get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia, the Barren Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia. Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.

Mermaids don't exist. If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human? They don't have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them not to mention how could they have sex? Therefore they don't have kids either. Not to mention who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?

The choice is perfectly clear to me; I want to be a whale.

P.S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver and a coffee with my friends. With time we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room it distributes out to the rest of our bodies. So we aren't heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy. Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror, I will think, Good gosh, look how smart I am........

I truly loved this email a friend sent me. Actually anyone who sends you this is a friend. We spend so much time thinking about our weight and if we do not, we are expected to anyway.

I love ELEPHANTS too!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Meeting friends

Today would have been just another day, had a friend of mine not called yesterday. She doesn't live here anymore or rather splits her time between this place and her home abroad. She has been here for a month but we have been unable to meet up ( I know, I know, I am a terrible friend). At first we wanted to meet up with the entire family and some others we know. Then we decided to do it with just our own families. You'd think that matching the schedules of eight people, a couple of dogs and a cat should be not that hard, right? With just the weekends open, thanks to school and early wake up calls, we couldn't even do that.
So yesterday when we spoke ( oh, that was also after playing some phone tag!) we figured that we would meet up. So we did.
When you are is a set rut or a holding pattern, you never realize how fun it is to break away. Once you do, you always feel you should do it more often. We all have stressful hectic lives. As the sandwich generation, life is sometimes getting smothered between the two generation slices, with little irritants liberally slathered on. At least occasionally we must all try and slip away from it all. Keeps you smiling. It did, for me!

PS. The bonus was discovering that one is not the only one dealing with strange children, crazy neighbours and impossible relatives!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nice to read

Been too busy reading to be able to write much. most of the blogs I come across while browsing have been obviously written by young thing. As a woman over forty (there is that figure again)I find that the content and even the language rather , well for the want of a word, different. I mean, I enjoy the blog and all but there are times when I feel like I want to identify or get validation from what is being said. The other day,I stumbled on this blog and found very good writing, well presented and very much to my taste. So I am now a regular visitor..thus the reading. For any one interested is the site to check.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Absolute Justice

So now Kasab has confessed. After all the overwhelming evidence against him, we still had to have a trial because we wanted to be fair and just. More importantly, we wanted to APPEAR fair and just!. Even now, despite the confession, the trial may still go on for a while I believe. Sometimes I think that things go too far. I pride myself on the democracy and freedom that exists in our country. Yet I wonder why we need an expensive trial despite fact that Kasab had such a mountain of evidence against him.

Just what is justice? Just today, the highest court in the country ruled that a mentally challenged rape victim could give birth. I know that there are no easy answers, but allowing someone who cannot manage her own life, safety and security (which led to the rape in the first place) to have a child? Her caregivers tried to argue against it.

How can she ensure a good life to this new life? What if the child is a girl who falls into the hands of a monster similar to the one who raped her mother even before she is old enough to know the facts of life? Where can we draw the line on competent parenting? I am not advocating that the society or the government be given absolute right over free will. Nor am I of the opinion that 'big brother ' knows best. So what are the options?

Why should the trial with Kasab be continued when the money saved can be used for other things? Will we allow an actual nine year old to have a baby just because she feels so? If not, why is it just to allow a nineteen year old rape victim with the mental age of nine to have a baby? Does anyone have the answers?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fear is the key?

I was waiting at the school bus stop the other day. A young mother with a small child was trying to feed him some food (yes, at the stop) and I heard her say in exasperation "You better eat your food or that aunty will take you away". As a bystander, I had absolutely no intention of doing any such thing, but the child who had been smiling at me, eyed me suspiciously and took a bite of the food in question.

"You better take this medicine or you'll have to go to the doctor." "If you do not behave that uncle/aunt will take you away." "Eat you food or the garbage man will take you." These are common threats we dole out to our children. This is so typical of Indian parents. I speak as one myself.

In fact the most common threat I've heard (when I was young, particularly) was "wait till your father comes home" almost as if the father were an ogre and this threat should strike terror in our hearts. Hardly the base to an open , honest, communicative relationship.(and then they complained that we never told them anything)

Disciplining children is a very difficult job, but are we not pushing the problem to another time when we proffer such threats? What happens if we have to take the child to the doctor at any point (maybe for a life saving vaccine)? The child is likely to be terrified and most uncooperative. Creating a lifetime of fear and dislike is hardly positive, even if it takes the heat off temporarily. Who knows where fears grow!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What are you afraid of?

She admits it. It is a big problem. Touch wood! She can still ride her trusty scooter and move about. When she visits her birth place she uses the public bus service. She still prefers to travel by train and prefers to make her own reservations. Post retirement, (age 67 now) she chose not to continue in her primary area of competence , teaching Maths, and works with an association for the blind.

She keeps in touch with her core competence by helping any students who may need it, but not be able to afford help and also by sponsoring the schooling needs of one child every year. Her philosophy being "every little bit helps and we should do what we can".

If you think this picture of Independence has no issues, well, you would be wrong. Living by herself (even though she could live with her children and she admits there is no problem in that) poses an issue. No, no, It has nothing to do with fear of being robbed or hurt. It has nothing to do with managing daily chores too.

Her real fear is "Should I bolt the door from inside at night?". Yes, I know. It may sound silly, but she feels it may be simpler to keep it on latch to enable her family to let themselves in, in case she never wakes up. Sounds irrational? Hard to believe that a woman so strong seems to have such a trivial concern? Who knows? Look within. We all have fears that seem silly. Like fears of being cheated. Fears of being snubbed. Fears of looking less wealthy, smart, pretty ! Why else do we not trust our help, try to stay within our comfort zones and pretend to others? We boast of the recent trip abroad or the expensive piece of jewellery we just bought. We pretend to appreciate books and films that are critically acclaimed. We fear not fitting in. Fear being the odd ones out and so on....Think about it and you'll see.

At least her fear is a practical one. So what are you afraid of?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Where the mind is without fear

We can debate on anything. We need not know a thing about it. Look at the debate on section 377. So what is it and what does the judgement say? It matters not at all. We have had public, private, local and national debates on it. Open the newspaper and that is a headline. Switch on the TV and all you hear is section 377, gay, lesbian, homosexuals etc.

How many have actually understood what exactly all the debate is about? I have not read any judgement. But then, I do not need a judgement to tell me that what happens between two CONSENTING ADULTS is their business.

So why are we debating so much? We seem worried that this will bring about a depraved society. As if sexual preference/ orientation is contagious. Something that we can catch from another, just by exposure. There are many arguments being bandied around. The most popular oft repeated one being that we need not copy the west. Some one even argued that 'they ' would make pre-marital sex legal next! I was not aware that it was illegal in the first place. I thought it had to do more with morality and social sensibilities. From what I understand, all this judgement does is stop homosexuals from being dubbed criminals. It does not foster or encourage sexuality.

Also, are we not proud Indians who love to claim this poem and poet, Rabindranath Tagore?

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow
domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought
and action--
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake

If we truly wish to live by the sentiment in the poem, we do have to let all sort of thoughts find their ground. As for debating, well, it is a good thing, but hopefully armed with better understanding and more informed minds.

Friday, July 10, 2009

For funerals and a wedding

Do you know who Shree Dasari is? Well, you will, soon enough. After all did you know who Jade Goody was, till a couple of years ago? And while you may have heard of Shilpa Shetty, you never heard of her more till she was racially 'bullied' in a reality show. Mrs Jaya Bachchan has called Rakhee Sawant a celebrity without a cause on the Karan Johar show. Yet even a channel with the letters NDTV in their name promote her liberally and we can OD on 'all that you never wanted to know, and never asked' about Rakhee! (One of the promos appeared to have men walking over hot coals for a chance to marry her!)

Whoever said that everyone will get their fifteen minutes of fame, never realized how much money they will make out of that fifteen minutes of fame or how long drawn those fifteen minutes will be. A line that says it eloquently goes 'earlier you had to be special to be famous, now you just have to be famous to be special'

It does not seem to matter what you are (in)famous for. Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and their ilk have more attitude and bad behaviour than talent to their credit. We know more about the long and short of Brittany Spears' marriages than her music . Brangelina seem to be making more money selling the rights to their baby pictures than for their movies.

Even dying can earn you a fortune. It appears that there is a resurgence of Micheal Jackson's music and it is selling like hot cakes after his sudden demise. In recent times, this is the most he has been in the news. They are even anticipating that all this will wipe out the millions of dollars of debt he was in. Every channel telecast the funeral and the ones with the most extensive, exclusive coverage and juiciest sound bites from 'friends and family' is reaping the benefits of popularity and TRPs.

It doesn't seem to matter what you do, you can reveal your deepest darkest secrets or those of your best friend, You can kill an endangered animal or indulge in racial abuse, you can expose skin, or cry sexual abuse, you can get married, have babies, or even die.. and you can make money for it. Who knew it better than Jade goody, who made a fortune by abusing, apologising, falling in love, getting married and dying, all by age twenty seven. Who knows, Shree Dasari, allegedly the current abusee (sounds better than 'victim of racial abuse'), may use his fame even better.When you have your fifteen minutes of fame, you better be savvy enough to use them wisely!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A wing and a prayer

In the last few days three stories that caught my attention have a connecting thread running through them, though they are very different. Babli the little girl , who needed a liver transplant (and a miracle) to survive. Her short life was a saga of how hopes soared and plunged on the roller coaster of emotions, finally ending in a tragic way. There was the Yemeni airliner crash in which about a hundred and fifty people died. What was really miraculous was that one of the passengers, a teenager survived! Micheal Jackson's death was another shocking event. All the money and fame came to naught and could not save his life.. Three stories with unexpected endings.

Babli's mom initially did not have the money or hope .when it all seemed to all miraculously come together, neither the money or the hope or the prayers helped. Who knows what emotions, hopes and prayers went through the minds of those who were on the plane that crashed. Did the survivor think that she would make it and be the only one? Did she pray? Did she ever lose hope as she clung to the debris? What of Micheal Jackson? Did he know that he was dying? Did he wonder why he could not get help despite his immense fame and fortune? Did he pray or did he have no time for that?

I believe in the power of prayer, in the power of positive thinking. Yet I wonder why the collective prayers of all those who read about Babli ,did not work. Why was there only one survivor of that crash? How did she survive so miraculously? Or for that matter, must the Jews not have prayed at the concentration camps? Why are some prayers answered? The answers are hopefully out there somewhere? Then again, maybe like some prayers, some questions too are unanswered.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Countdown to the microwave minute in life

I was waiting in front of the microwave, waiting for the one minute to get over, so I could move on to the next task, when it struck me. This was one minute of my finite life that I was wishing would move fastand get over. This was one minute that I was spending just staring at a machine, waiting for it to end. This was one minute that would never be back and all I wanted was for it to be over. When I think of all the minutes I have spent over the last few years, waiting impatiently at this very machine, I realize that they do add up.

How often have you waited at a traffic signal which tells you that the next green light is in x number of seconds? Very likely, you had a frown on your face and were tapping the wheel, willing the x seconds to flash away. Mind you, not just for the light to turn green, not for the opposing traffic to stop (a tall order these days, in any large city) but for the seconds to countdown to zero.

Our countdown to zero begins the day we are born and without any realization of what lies beyond, we are impatient for it to go faster and faster. We cannot wait to grow up , we cannot wait for our children to grow up. We cannot wait for the workday to end, we cannot wait for the weekend to start. We rush to board the plane and wish the journey would end fast. We want to move on to the next task on the list.

In this countdown, I have often missed the sights and sounds that go along. In this hurry to get things over with, I think we forget how important it is to savour the present. After all , life is a collection of many many minutes. It makes no sense to wish them away!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Name game

They have called it an engineering marvel, a new age sculpture, a short cut (ok, so not every one is blessed with imagination). What they cannot agree on though , is what to 'call' it!
The bridge has not even been open for twenty four hours and there is already a controversy about it. ( Actually, I should be happy it took at least that long before the controversy came up) Some want to name it after Rajiv Gandhi, while others want to name it after Veer Savarkar. This is a beautiful futuristic looking piece of engineering, which will cut the commute drastically. Instead of appreciating it, admiring it and making the best possible use of it, we create a controversy.

Whether the bridge is called by this name or that, it will still do the same, and be the same for the commuters. 'A rose by any other name ..' and all that. Humans can find a problem in anything... maybe because controversy draws attention. It is also the easiest and most sure-fire way to get attention. ( How many can identify Rakhee Sawant at a glance?)

As for Shakespeare's contention of 'what's in a name' , well, there is a lot of mileage to be gained from the controversy you stir up and in this day and age, who doesn't want their fifteen minutes of fame!!

Water water

The papers are full of it. It has even made it to national TV channels . The rains are delayed. The reservoirs have water just for another couple of weeks. I read about it. I see the urgency in the news report. That is where it stops.

On my morning walk today, I counted about eight cars that were being washed clean. This, at about seven in the morning. As the office hour approaches, I am sure there will be many more shiny cars, bouncing the glare off one another in the fast lane. We all seem to believe that we live on islands, impervious to what affects others. How else can we explain the fact that we just splash the cars around us with gallons of water, while the house help next door lugs home water from distances after standing in long lines, just so she can cook a meal? Not that she herself is above all the waste... the tap's on as she does the dishes, the Ganges does not flow as fast and furious as the water for washing clothes and so on. The philosophy seems to be 'Have water, will waste'

While living in the moment may be a great way to a happy life, it is hardly the philosophy to a healthy planet. When asked what the third world war was going to be about, someone said that it would be for WATER. Seems to me, unless we wage a private war on waste of resources, we are not very far from that war!

As for those shiny cars, a bucket works equally well....all it needs is just a bit more attention to detail.
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