Thursday, April 10, 2014
Thursday, April 03, 2014
The Mind is a strange thing.
It is all about being sporty. Or even Olympian.
Sometimes, it's about competing against itself.
Like mobilizing into a sensible start, and taking a leap, high as you can, and sometimes, as far as you can, despite knowing that there is a wee chance that one might crash land. And then reflecting about it, and doing it all over again.
Like sometimes, doing a restrained mindslog run, observing stuff around, very self-aware , with new learnings; and then , at some point, energized and suddenly getting excited , and pushing for something, giving it your all,
Like getting hold of something unpleasant, and deciding it has no place in your life, and so you clutch it tight , whirl around at higher and higher speeds, and fling it as far as you can. It could be a ball of confusion, or a loaded mind disc, it just needs to go as far as possible from the mind.
Sometimes, the mind is so focused, it knows where something needs to hurt someone. And so it is about pointing the sharp edge of the word javelin, and ensuring the throw hurts whoever catches it.
Sometimes though, it's something between opposing sides.
Like a mind persona whacked like a tennis ball, forehanded whips and backhanded compliments, and sharp vile smashes and insults lobbed away sky high, and occasionally dropped cunningly across doubtful nets. And just when you pick up the pieces, and look skywards in supplication, you are whipped on to the other side, to devious applause.
And à propos the world we live in, this also comes in S, M and L. The size having to do with the problem size. Sometimes, a small quick slap and whip across a green table, a brittle mind cracking across helplessly . Sometimes, misled by a medium feathered thought, a slower wandering, and tumbling deviously across badminton nets. Two minds, in a game of one upmanship, , unwilling to accept that there is only one winner.
There is destruction of belief, good sense, as ambition soars, and a killer instinct sharpens itself. You come to a fork in the road and take the wrong one. The way back isn't easy. Provided you wanted to come back, that is.
But sometimes, minds get touched by the ethereal. There is a slow stretching to absorb and understand, a deep bending to pay respects, a gentle twirl to amuse the supporting earth, and sensing imminent achievement, then a sudden graceful leap of thought, flying high , drunk on the energy of potentials. A dance of the mind, that has rehearsed and rehearsed the happy moves, knowing full well, that those watching share the wonder as well.
Today, the minds are all about the first type. getting kicks out of pointing and throwing. Or possibly the second type, where it it is all about the perceived returns.
Talking about multimind games is pointless. Too many minds corrupt the thought. Thoughts then imbibe more quantity than quality. There is a verbal and physical bashing up of those perceived as a threat. There is a politics of the mind. And the sport is a gone case.
Like all Olympics, these mind Olympics too have crises and problems. Too many misleading influencers.
And yet, to its eternal credit, there are those minds, that keep on the weather beaten track, still full of potholes of fear, doubt and loss, slogging one step after another, sometimes, limping along, sometimes on a run and sometimes in a weird walk; there are yet some minds, that firmly hold on to the age old handlebars, and get cracking with the floor exercises, which will one day help them fly high and delight those watching them, as they pirouette and jump and leap in celebration , delighting the endorphinal orchestra...
There are no special, periodic , Opening and Closing ceremonies.
Just one ceremony when you are born, and one , closing it all, in the end.
But like the real Olympics, the win is momentary.
What matters is how you played the game.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
( Methylation, it’s a big word that you probably don’t think applies to you, however, read on because knowing about methylation could improve or save your life. Methylation is the process of taking a single carbon and three hydrogens, known as a methyl group, and applying it to countless critical functions in your body such as: thinking, repairing DNA, turning on and off genes, fighting infections and getting rid of environmental toxins to name a few.)
This post was inspired by this one .
We Indians, it turns out, actually have a particular gene. Or marker. Or whatever you might scientifically choose to call it. It is always a dominant gene, and there are very few people in whom this might actually be a recessive, if not a missing gene.
The gene goes by the acronym IIMB.
Stands for "It Is My Business "....
Sometime back in the last century, the particular gene was observed to be behaving.
I mean, yes, the natural curiosity to know what was clearly NOT your business existed. But there was a decent amount of self regulation.
You might have belonged to that strata of society that thought sleeveless blouses were the height of "forwardness", or wearing short divided skirts during tennis was an unparalleled act of bravery. But we let them be. There was a lady with red hair who was part of my parents group that played tennis (of sorts) in a neighboring house plot. Influenced by certain difficult to get comics that we poured over, we used to think admiringly that she was kind of half way blonde and getting there, and admire her bravado, till a maternal glare silenced us during a conversation to find out the real thing.
It was Mehndi. It was also none of our business.
Years passed. Fashions changed. Tolerances changed. The IIMB gene too, began methylating. Those who observed their own folks exhibiting the dominance of this gene, often took it upon themselves to practice its dominance.
Sports was a big thing in our college, I stayed at the hostel, which was considered a questionable and/or brave thing to do. One was into badminton at a decent level of proficiency. There were tournaments, I was entered for singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles, and a Sardar classmate came to ask if my doubles partner would partner him in the mixed doubles. There were no problems, she was a great player, and she agreed . The practices would be held daily, and certain people got unduly interested . These were daughters of families I had known since school, and erstwhile community folks. These folks would pass me by with what can only be called controlled smiles, accompanied by knowing looks. These folks were also blessed (or cursed) with a highly dominant IIMB gene.
Very soon, a signed letter reached my folks who were then living in another town about 150 miles away. My "forward" behaviour was documented, it mentioned my "moving around " with a Sardar friend, and the tone was entirely about a well wisher desperately alerting the family so I could be saved before I went completely haywire or to the dogs. The height of IIMB-ness. The gene must have been shining out of their eyes and ears.
That, my folks knew about the tournaments from my frequent letters, that they knew about the fellows who were part of the teams, and were completely updated on the wins and losses by me and my partners, was unknown to these IIMB-well wishers. The IIMB exponents received a stinging but polite letter response, informing them that they, my folks, were completely informed and thrilled with my sports progress, my friends and my partners, and did not need any extracurricular inaccurate and false information.
The practice of IIMB methylation continues.
You get accosted in elevators where people tell you alternative solutions to Fair and Lovely, and rue the fact that you encourage your daughter to swim, which in turn "makes her dark". You get asked if you don't feel ashamed about wearing a swimming costume at the pool, and you mentally crack up with visions of yourself floating in six yards of billowing fabric, trying to do the freestyle, coming out and challenging the typical Bollywood rain-and-wet-saree-outfit scene, as you emerge out of the pool. 33 years ago, I resigned from my job, which was considered a fairly stupid thing to do and quite unheard of, since I stayed withing walking distance. The next day, as I emerged with my son in his stroller , from our hospital where I had gone for some clearance certificates, some amazing exponents of IIMB stopped me to ask if I was leaving for the USA . (That I started working again later, and subsequently retired honorably probably confuses them. So be it. Exercises for the IIMB mind)
What analysis, what concentration, what interest, and what nonsense ....
Way then, into her late sixties, my late mother discovered hair dye. She tried it for a few years, then decided the chemicals were too dangerous, and I would occasionally observe her using plain kajal to touch up what she thought were excessively prominent white streaks. Such was my recessive IIMB status , that I never dared ask , forget question her about this. I know folks who use mehndi, and get certain tinges in their hair. But it's always clear that this is not and never likely to be a subject for advice and debate.
On a personal level, one has tried these things. While suddenly showing up with jet black hair is not likely to change people's opinion of you, it is too much trouble , trying to be what you are not. Once in a while , in the manner of enjoying an exotic fruit, one treats oneself to such things. And like exotic fruit, these things are not mandatory.
So before a family wedding, while IIMB types plead with you to visit a hairdye place ("you need to get a facial too") , you indulge your daughter, who suddenly takes things in hand , literally, wraps a thing around your shoulders, and proceeds to slather stuff on your hair. You enjoy the surprised looks on people's faces. You also don't notice, how one month down the line, the white has started inching up. You don't care either, as you revel in what your daughter did. :-)
But I am sure some IIMB lurker has.
In the meanwhile, someone recently got married, and spent hours getting her mehndi done for the big day. Amidst the artful swirls and intricate mehndi designs, there are two prominent tattoos that show up on the forearms. One is of a butterfly, and one is of a Canon Camera. These were done ages ago.
Tattoos , did you say ?
And I am waiting.
For the IIMB types .
To rush and advise with their interpretations. Solutions. Emails. Letters.
Or does it mean that the dominance of IIMB is receding?
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Inhaling, is serious business. Sometimes, it is also an unpleasant business.
The sheer topography, weather, and density of Mumbai, has widened the mind, so much so, that the numerical variety of smells you have to deal with in daily life, seriously challenges the number of olfactory neurons sitting, aram se, amidst the cilia at the back of your nose.
It means , beginning your day with the smell of boiling , sometimes overflowing milk, mixing seamlessly with the smell of puja lamps, flowers and garlic tadkas from the neighbors kitchen, amidst whiffs of powder and deo's as assorted folks secure their temporary body fragrances, exit through the door and permeate the elevators, in a clash of sandalwood,lavender and sometimes even pinewood, in city that is losing its green at an alarming rate..
Then there are various combinations, hitherto not thought off by fragrance folks in Paris. The leading smell would be a fine combination cow dung and diesel, often imbibed by our pores, as we wait for Mumbai's lifeline, the BEST buses, which again open the doors to a world of different smells. Unwashed shirt smells mixing with gleaming coconut oil smells as you fit yourself into a space designed for someone half your size. Sudden whiffs of jasmines as a lady in a morning silk just out of mothballs, struggles to reach the exit door. Many times, a fellow will push past, reeking of alcohol, designed to make you throw up early in the morning. We need to be grateful that phones don't smell; the bus would be a confused haven for fragrances, given the number of passengers busy staring at their phones and moving fingers.
The trains are a different world altogether. They ride roughshod over landscapes that reek. Of an unsanitary city, that doesn't care for its women and children, of creeks that are treated like dirt , stuffed with trash, the mangroves starved, so that shameless mercenary types can build . So the smell of rotten fish mixes avidly with the smell of the fresh fish baskets carried in the trains by the fisher women ; sometimes rotten fruit under some seats making their presence felt, all mixed with deos and perfumes across the spectrum of price, mingling in Brownian motion in the ladies compartment. Station smells, particularly when empty, a combination of rexin, metal, steam , fire and smoke, interspersed with bathroom smells.
There are some smells , a good decent hot water bath and scrub will get rid off. When the water is available, that is. Since we realized the value of the Sun only after the West pointed it out, the quickest way today, to get hot water is the instant geyser, which most of us use, in preference to the old style boilers and heaters that enhanced our electric bills wildly.
And so a daily return home, followed by a quick hot shower gets the smells out and the squished muscles freed.
There are however, some smells that have no easy solution, instantly Racoldian, or not.
These are smells of money that came from cheating, corruption, lying and crime. Hot water of all the instantly angry geysers in the world, will not be enough to wipe out these smells. You get these smells sometimes in temples as well, when you see certain worshippers performing complicated vidhis , beseeching God to turn a blind eye to their dubious activities .
But. Not all smells are smelly, although they sometimes do have a Racoldian solution.
He was in his late eighties, a hitherto very active and fit person, coming to terms with the sudden effects of old age, which confined him to a bed. Most of his family was overseas, except one member who stayed with him off and on to take care of him, and work along with the nursing and home care.
It was a life where you triumphed if you were able to turn on your side on your own, or mouthed a silent victory whoop, if could lead a spoonful of soup into your mouth. It went without saying that baths didn't happen, and sponging was the order of the day. The mind however was alert, and he looked forward to friends and relatives who dropped by.
There was attendant lady, Mangala, who would manage his meals and cleaning when the family member was not there, or late. And then one day, there was excitement. Some of the overseas family was about to arrive in a few days. Mangalabai looked forward to these things in a world where people were so few and problems so many.
One morning she woke up his daughter , the local member, at 4 am. No, there was no problem. Just that after weeks of sponging and horizontal baths, she wanted to organize a proper bath/shower for the patient, and wanted to know if one could go ahead. "So many visitors coming to see him and stay with us, and ma'am, we cant have him smelling of ointments, food and stuff; help me ...... "
And so they both helped get him seated on a computer chair with wheels, and trundled over to the bath, where a bucket was filling with hot water from the old Racold geyser, mixing nicely with drops of Dettol. The daughter helped lift him up by holding him around his chest from behind him, and held him vertical , bent over backward herself, but supported by the wall, while fresh , hot and clean water streamed all across him, and he got lightly but carefully scrubbed, keeping in mind the instructions of the doctor. An early morning freshness rivalling that of the just emerging flowers in the garden. A careful dry rub , a good dusting of medical powder, and he was ready, smelling of health and old days, in some simple clean clothes, to meet another day.
No one bothered about the status of the computer chair. It probably dried somewhere on its own. It too, had got a hot and fresh cleaning thanks to the hotwater treatment . Someone threw a fresh dry towel across it, he sat down on it, and they slowly trundled back to his bed, where he laboriously stretched out, helped by the two women.
Fresh, clean, and generating a fragrance which was a strange mix of antiseptics, care, comfort, lightness, cleanliness and concern. He felt tired, but hungry, thanks to the exertion amidst smells and hot geyser water
And so , it seems, that smells are not always in the nose of the inhaler. Sometimes, they are in the eyes, sometimes in the ears when you listen to unsaid wishes, and mostly in the mind.
Possibly aided by the instant hot water geyser. The old man approved. He always frowned on wasting of electricity by keeping on boilers carelessly the whole morning.
The circumstances of the bath were a bit odd, but he felt good ; about the bath, the geyser, his family and staff.
Did you say "smells" ?
What smells ?
Monday, March 10, 2014
(Very clearly, one is a child's observation and one, a mother's, both being the same individual.......)
Fifty years ago.
The emphasis was on sides. The bride's side or the groom's side.
The former always had several ladies bustling around in a permanent crisis-handling mode. The bride was the least important. There were standard sarees, standard jewellery , the muhurtam or auspicious moment was always what I called a Prime muhurtam (indivisible by any number) like 8:47 am etc. There was never a hint of any fancy makeup on the bride's face. Jewellery was not so much about what suited her, but more about what needed to be seen.
The groom's side had an intrinsic victorious look, that manifested itself in the form of relaxed folks, accompanied by what one might call expert commentators, in the form of older grand folks. They sat in the first row in the wedding hall, keenly watching the proceedings, with an eye on who was presenting what to whom, occasionally nodding in a fashion that implied "I told you so ...". The groom's sister usually enjoyed her day in the sun (if not yet married) , and an opportunity to flaunt her enhanced status (if already married), all the while thinking about how she went through it all herself.
There were no quick and fast religious rituals based on conveniences of guest folks going to work or the priests having to go preside at another place. There was a time for each ritual and was strictly adhered to.
Someone from the groom's side sulking about something was always de rigeur. The reason could range from the absence of a certain delicacy in the food, to what would be hitherto unseen level of ordinariness in a particular gift. At some point the mother-in-law/son-in-law's feet were washed in some ritual, and folks from the groom's side who refused to have this done, were considered akin to saints.
Soon after they were pronounced man and wife, the bride was led to the enclosure meant for the groom's side, and gifted sarees along with someone vicariously insisting that she change forthwith into sarees "from our side" .
The bride was usually asked to "say" her husband's name in a rhyming couplet having to do with God, stars, gardens, flowers, kind in-laws, honor, respect and so on. This was usually done after displaying a suitable and approved level of shyness.
The food was always traditional, there were jilebi and laddoo gluttons who devoured stuff by the plateful and were applauded, with a wild disregard for their metabolic state. Some predecided lady with latent musical talent was urged to sing , and with a suitable humble delay, she would start, her right hand on a piece of chapati/puri , eyes looking down into the sabji, or even a shrikhand, while some kids 3 lines away had a ha ha moment.
There really were no receptions. Brides were not supposed to go beautify themselves in parlours. If at all there was a reception, someone purporting to be a beauty expert came to do the bride's hair etc. Very clearly, the only place the bride went to, from the wedding venue, was the house of the in laws. There were no buffets, and multi cuisine deals. There was a "plate" consisting of items arrived at from a judicious mix of sweet, spicy, hot, fluid, sometimes accompanied, inexplicably , by Coca Cola.
Which brings me to the preferred activity of kids at the wedding. Most families didn't allow their kids to drink Coca Cola. No one kept crates at home. And so weddings were a wild free-for-all. (Many who grew up during the time Coca Cola was banned , and Thums Up appeared on the scene, may not realize that we did have Coca Cola in my childhood , 50 years ago. It's just that we kept our distance from it, at home ). This always resulted in bunches of kids having competitions to see who could drink the most, with disastrous consequences later. There was no bride-groom divide amidst kids, hitherto united by the objective of glugging down unlimited bottles of cola .
There really were no professional photographers. There were, if at all, candid photos, clicked by guests and family chroniclers. Small children, attracted by the fancy chairs meant for the bride and groom, usually landed up magically and sat on them , while the bride and groom went to touch some one's feet somewhere. (This has possibly remained unchanged even today)
An amazing feature of these weddings was what is called "Waraat" in Marathi and possibly "Baraat" in Hindi. Unlike the north Indian custom of baraat being a collection of the groom's side folks dancing in wild abandon around a baffled horse carrying a decorated groom to his wedding, the "waraat" , a post wedding event in Marathi weddings, was almost always a decorated open vintage car (the likes of which are collected by rich folks today), with a flower bedecked umbrella canopy on top.
It was led in front by a uniformed band playing suitable tunes which were then popular, along with a set of folks walking along with big petromax lamps on their heads. This flower bedecked car, being possibly being driven at 5 kmph, was followed on foot, by all kinds of folks , walking sedately behind, in suitable finery, in a great show of unity , as the bride and groom proceeded to visit the family deity at a popular temple, before reaching the in law's house. A prosperous groom's side would often have a fireworks display preceeding the band. Some troublesome kids were often plonked in the front seat of the vintage car from where they often instructed the band to play certain tunes at times. The bands would often play what are now considered old classics, the lyrics all having to do with a bride leaving her parental home, having to find happiness in the house to which she was being "beqeathed" . Towards the end , it was not unusual to see young parents in the waraat , carrying sleeping kids, walking slowly, patting the child's back.
They had probably, as they say , " been there, done that ".......
And I think about all this, today, when weddings are more about how the bride and groom want them to be. When mandatory rituals are now explained before being performed. There is an indulgent attitude towards the bride's and groom's wedding clothes, more so when it harks back to old traditional wear, with the groom wearing a dhoti and puneri pagdi, and the bride in a radiant traditional yellow nine yards. Digital photography has meant unlimited clicks, and a detailed chronicling of the events of the day. Beauticians think nothing of visiting the bridal house at 5 am to "do up" the bride, hairstyles, makeup, and a beautiful draping of the wedding nine yards. The bride and groom chit chat before and after the event, much at ease. There are fun "mangalaashtakas" sung before the final Sanskrit verses by a young person from the groom's side, bringing a smile to the faces of so many from the bride's side. The "sides" per se, are mostly virtual, as the guests mingle around and mix around the vidhi mandap, waiting for the final verses to start. Poses are held , aided by the officiating gurujis, so that various stages of the ceremony can be documented electronically, closed eyes are instantaneously detected and the click redone. The bride still says the groom's name in a rhyming couplet, and it still mentions flowers, God, trees, honor, in-laws etc, and similar elderly folks nod in approval, all the while knowing that the bride simply normally refers and calls her groom by his name in second person singular. Almost no one sings at the sit-down lunch, which is in itself rare these days, what with the multi cuisine buffets happening. Receptions are dress-up occasions, with grand decorations and entire meals . There are videos made, and thousands of photos clicked. You sift through these and the photographer presents you with a fancy album at the end of it all. All this for prices which would be considered outrageous , but we don't talk about that.
The only thing that remains unchanged across almost half a century, is that heartfelt tug in the mind of the mother, as she sees her daughter depart to step into a new life .......
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
It was Bhaidooj day, a quarter of a century ago, when the three of them brought her home.
He, and his Mom and Dad. Traditionally , he was supposed to give her a Bhaidooj gift, which he did. He gave her a brother. And a father and a mother.
For all of them, it was a voyage of discovery. About how a non regimented very young mind worked. There was implicit trust in family. There was an urge to do everything her brother did. Including carrying big school bags, cycling (never mind if you needed to dash into a bush in lieu of brakes), playing tennis (waving a bat as tall as herself and strewing leaves instead of tennis balls), carrying water bottles (famously on a trip to Germany , in case the plane 'stopped' in the sky en route, and there was nothing to eat and drink). Sometimes, she even tried to emulate studying.
And then it was a whirlwind , which would occasionally calm down to an orderly breeze. New places, new friends, new opinions, and new discoveries. New crazes, new fetishes, new secrets, new words, new talents.
At one point she was, besides school, learning kathak, karate, tabletennis, attending an early morning physical fitness camp, cycling, and swimming. Somewhere by the end of primary school , only swimming remained. Till she left college. Almost.
There was a childhood, and then a teenage, replete with rebellions and questions. Some questions had answers, some did not. Some answers were questioned. rethought, and at some point accepted on trust.
It took some time to decide who to trust outside the home. There were friends a plenty. College, classes, fun activities, field trips, and she discovered photography, thanks to a point and shoot first gifted to her by an uncle. Introduction to social media happened side by side with a firming up of opinions, however opposite they might have been to older folks in the family. There was an avid following of trends followed by a suspicious stop. The trauma of not being pencil thin with ruler straight hair. The former was built into her physique, but the latter was made possible at one point, and she went a few clouds higher on seeing the response from friends.
Divali has always been significant for her. Much before she even knew what Divali was. For years together now, she has been visiting the place where she came to us from, during Divali, specifically Bhaidooj , to share sweets and games with the little kids there.
Sometime around last Divali, she met someone who turned out to be someone special. And decided to go to the next step.
She didn't know how many well wishers she had.
They came is droves from across the Ghats and the Oceans, beating the Expressway toll naka agitations, and delayed flights across the Pacific and Atlantic. A day full of friends and relatives under an open air mandap, in a flower bedecked mini mandap, where the ceremonies happened. She in a traditional yellow nine yards saree, and he in a dhoti and coat with a traditional Puneri Pagdi . Transformed into a Paithani laden evening reception amidst lake breezes, pale golden lights, delicious food, and a waterfall entrance; she was always fascinated by magic, and this was magical.
Way into the evening, the guests had departed; some to catch flights to meet leave deadlines, some , in anticipation of a work Monday, and some, who suddenly realized that the event for which they had come was over.
Dinner done, the set of parents and the couple walked over to the car. Her brother was very much there, on a special leave from his University.
This was an unseasonal Divali for her, what with the lights, and the food, and the glitter, and the pujas.
Once again they stood together with her, in the quiet of the tree laden driveway.
Everyone had left.
Once again, it was just her brother, her Mom and her Dad. Dreading the moment, but trying to hide it all.
Her new family came down the steps. And she went off, stoic in her farewells, excited, and smiling , looking ahead into her new life, with her new family.
Like she did , twenty five years ago. Another Divali.
When there was a brother, a Mom and a Dad. Waiting for her.
They still do. So they can hear all her fun stories, exchange glances with her special person, and have a good laugh together......
Saturday, February 22, 2014
I am not sure anyone has noticed, or even researched this.
I mean, shame on Science Daily, Medscape and similar serious types.
But there is clearly a connection with things becoming suddenly serious, folks trying random solutions, and Global Warming.
Just when i was getting serious about this, I did come across this paper published in the Annals of Serious Stuff:
"An analysis of Item Number performances by Endorphins when faced with insoluble problems and the subsequent reactions of the Amygdala-in-law : a Five Star sweet study."
I mean , election year is very serious stuff. Sense often goes off for a toss. We have grown men, fighting for pieces of paper in Parliament, punching other serious folks, while some hyper types simply keep running to the well of the house in desperation, in answer to eye signals from some other serious types.
Very clearly, a rap on the knuckles is not the solution. Neither is a high pitched voice urging folks to sit down. Some think a glare might turn errant types into mush. It doesn't.
It needs Out of the House Cadburized solutions. Subsidized Five Star Chocolates for all MP's. Excessive shouting and fights, and the Speaker presses a lever, and chocolates spring up at all desks, and the Endorphinal Drool factor takes over. The ravaging of the wrapper, the first look, the political neurons going "Aiiyo" in the brain, and a gradual quietening of voices , as the sweet chocolate solutions make the endorphinas go "Ta Thaiyya ".
For the rest , it is easy. We have elected folks who do fisticuffs, who nod away to sleep due to possibly political hypoglycemia, or excessive financial hyperglycemia , and some who even take off their shirts to display their absolutely nonexistent abs. These are rudderless folks. Possibly undergoing a second childhood. They need a serious objective to work towards. As befits their exalted status. Like say, Five star.
Like any serious party would announce today "No wrapper will be left wrapped, unless we have covered all the members of this august house.".
Like Global warming, which is universally accused of raising tempers in the above mentioned paper, this solution is also universal. Applies across ages.
The solution is also a stress buster , as one learns from children.
Like a little girl of 5, who then, 20 years ago, went to Germany with her family, completely oblivious of the land and its language. While her folks were stressed initially over the new language, formal customs, etc, she went headlong into things. The solution was discovered when her mother went to make her bed, and found chocolate wrappers daily under her pillow. Clearly , she didn't know about the endorphins, but she didn't know the spelling of SERIOUS either. It also gave her lots of energy to fight a hefty classmate who threatened all the girls in kindergaarten and hogged the swing.
The same girl , recently got married. As you know, marriages in India , are serious stuff. At least for those directly involved and their families. Hundreds of guests, thousands of scrutinizing eyes. Some that bore deep, despite cataract vision, observing the adornments et al. An early departure to the wedding venue, and her mother, clearing stuff in the afternoon, and wondering why the daughter didn't appear to eat anything in the morning, suddenly comes across a half finished gift pack of 5 star chocolates behind a laptop.
Clearly, the stress busting continues. Seriously and Successfully.
Serious conditions, clearly being alleviated by the national chocolate solution. And it holds for quadrupeds too. Bovine visitors, original residents of the area where the aforesaid girl got married, clearly smelled the chocolate, despite the non existent fodder, due to certain scams. They were observed, ambling over to an area near the wedding venue, viewing the bride, and snorting in best political style, to the immense delight of all the little kids present.
And like so many things, that have become acceptable today, by virtue of they being excellent life solutions , we see this demolition of seriousness all around us. Unlike demolitions by the Mumbai Municipal authorities which are bitter and traumatic, these are sophisticated five star demolitions with no collateral damage. If life was a street, some would have insisted on naming a Five Star Chowk. (Garden maintained by Cadbury).
Like what happened at the evening wedding reception of the aforementioned girl.
Serious lights, serious photographers, serious poses, a stream of serious folks ambling across the stage wishing the girl and her family. And suddenly, there is a vision in white, that darts in, plonks herself between the couple, and envelopes the couple in a hug, decrying all the seriousness and generates one of the best five star chocolate photos of the day. Much like a rich cream sitting comfortably between two layers of chocolates, sometimes even emerging to cover them.
Many smiles. Many more grins, And some hearty laughs.
I am serious. About chocolate. I mean, I know Global Warming, and papers being published regarding item numbers and endorphins, and step-amygdalas instigated by stuffy hippocampuses. Or is it Hippocampi ? Who cares ?
You don't need to agonize over spellings, and weird names.
Don't be serious. Just enjoy a Cadbury Five Star.
And remember it's spelling. So you can write about it.
And find solutions for the Nation.
P. S. A five star thought just occurred in my short term memory. A serious thought. About a lifetime supply of the aforementioned chocolate, for the aforementioned girl.
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Police joining Politics , Politicians acting like Police, hitherto low lying neta folks indulging in fodderless chewing of the cud , as they plot Telanganic liasons of the splitting kind; these are clearly exciting times, with the public watching and reading meanings into actions and words of those who purport to lead us.
A bit like being under the scrutiny of the nation , on television, and indulging in crises after crises.
I thought this was a bit like Big Boss. Except that in this case, everyone inside the national house was individually a Big Boss.
And thought that it was time to repost something I wrote in 2010. Four years down the line , nothing much has changed.
Big Boss in the Service of the Nation....
It has occurred to me, an ordinary commoner, disgusted with the handling of corruption in the country, that some innovative solutions need to be looked at. And not all of the solutions, can be found in things like retired justices of Supreme Courts/High Courts, Joint Parliamentary Committees, Interlocutors etc etc.
It has also occurred to me, a stupid commoner, that the best way to nab a corrupt person, is to set another person with corrupt tendencies to catch him/her. Which should make for a very very interesting show given the rules.
The thing to do is to announce a special Bigg Boss season immediately. The rules of the Bigg Boss show allow a special house with many rooms to sit around and yak away, but just very few bedrooms and bathrooms. The rule says you must speak in Hindi, which throws up very interesting possibilities of candidate selection. Since you are not allowed to leave for any reason, and maintain outside contact, this will be more secure than those who sit in various different custodies of the law , police,judicial etc etc. And the best part, is that someone like the High Command, hitherto called the Bigg Boss, appears only as a voice that does individual interviews , asks for opinions , and finally issues its own edicts about who to throw out.
Main contenders for entry into the house would be Suresh Kalmadi, Sheila Dikshit, Sudhhanshu Mittal, Lalu Prasad Yadav, A. Raja of the DMK, Mayawati, Ashok Chavan, his ma-in-law (who he deleted as a relative), Raj Thakre, Jayalalithaa, Uddhav Thakre, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Ex Mumbai commissioner Jairaj Phatak, Sushama Swaraj. Various mothers-in-law, daughters , sons, can be added on later as and how required.
While the insistence on Hindi in the Big Boss house constructed in Panvel, Maharashtra, would make for interesting events with the Thakres inside, It will be interesting to see Kalmadi and Lalu bonding over crunches at the gym inside, with A Raja, urging Jayalailthaa to try the treadmill , and she giving him a distrustful look and checking out the speed setting.
Bathrooms, as per slightly older political history have often served as places to store the loot in secret compartments in the walls. Given the paucity of bathrooms in the Bigg Boss house, interesting conclusions can be reached by timing everyone's usage of the same, and the conditions of the walls.
While Sheila Dikshit, Sushama Swaraj, might bond at the kitchen counter , it would be interesting to see if Mayawati agrees to the Manuvadi idlis that JayaLalithaa might prepare. A Raja, uncharacteristically , a bit careful after his resignation, might watch Mayawati for any ill effects of the idli, before trying some himself, simply out of a sense of homesickness, though the possibilities of him enjoying Lucknow cuisine with Sheila Dikshit cannot be denied.
Lalu will be found sitting out in the sunniest part of the house, bare chested , feet up, on a chair, chewing away on his thoughts, as he tries to impress upon Suresh Kalmadi the need to include his son and heir Tejaswi Yadav in the Indian Olympic Committee, so he can learn from the bosses. Every time one of the Thakres ambles by , he will smile and wave, while spouting invective about communal forces. Ashok Chavan's mother-in-law will try and inch closer to Sudhanshu Mittal , thinking that only a tent supplier can now provide her a roof over her head, so cruelly denied to her , by fellows like Vilasrao Deshmukh, out to get her son-in-law, Ashok.
Since no outside contact is allowed, it will illuminating to see how the inmates appear to outsiders watching the serial. Possibilities of hundreds of Bihar and UP politicians watching for secret signs from their leaders cannot be denied. Something like, a scratching of the knee and spitting to the right by Lalu Prasad being a sign that folks needed to look in the lowest shelf of the cupboard to the right of the party office door in Patna. Or Kalmadi , waving his hands around to signify a helicopter, something to be kept ready for escape once he is out. A Raja, depressed at being away from his Relia-ble cronies, will be seen ensconced in a deep sofa, as if twice the gravitational force , 2G was in operation, and wondering if he got out just in time before 3G started acting.
Raj Thakre will practice his speeches in Marathi, with only Uddhav , Kalmadi, Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Jairaj Phatak for audience, since the rest won't understand. Mayawati will try and attend , in her effort to learn Marathi , and woo the Marathi Manoos in the next election.
The Big Boss , will actually be a lady. Aloof, up there, and with informers amongst the inmates. She will interview each inmate to get his or her opinion about the others, so that they can decide who and how many to evict. At the end of the day, she will listen to her "own conscience", pull some wool over her own eyes, and reach her conclusions with the help of her son, who has sneaked in as part of her security.
The nice thing is that all the hitherto corrupt types will be together in custody , keeping a keen eye on each other, and watched at all times by the nation, in the Bigg Boss house. They will eventually expose each other. And instead of spending on the various committees & investigations, you will actually have sponsors falling over each other to pay for this broadcast. As Obama is fond of saying, a win-win solution.
In the meanwhile, latest reports have indicated that Pamela Anderson of Hollywood and Baywatch fame, (where she does a 100 metre sprint into the ocean clad in a swimsuit of uneven proportions, chased by lifeguards) , was seen entering Bigg Boss house .
Sushama Swaraj was seen pursing her lips and shaking her head, Sheila Dikshit closed her eyes, Mayawati stood still as a statue, and while Lalu, Raja, the Thakres, the ex chief ministers, Suddhnashu Mittal, and the ex mumbai commisioner stood open mouthed and staring, Jayalalithaa was seen removing her voluminous cape, and rushing to cover Pamela Anderson with it.....
Further news is awaited...
Edited to add : I dont watch this show, and have simply observed it in the process of surfing channels. But Wikipedia mentions all the rules. While the recent government (nov 17th) rule about not broadcasting it in prime time, and relegating it to 11 pm slots is very welcome, in the above situation, it will simply serve to keep all the worthies out of public view : a typical quick way to get the stuff out of the public's memory....so what's new ...?
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
I've known about Award Nights . (I didn't say I have been to one. Just saying....)
And red carpets, and flared gowns, bow ties, and people ties, swishing cars and banging doors, gliding Mercedes and flashing diamonds, sachharine comments and sweet truths, and folks literally flying in, harnessed to a massive cage above a stunned audience....
I wonder if anyone has heard about Award Afternoons. About arriving sputtering in a vehicle, with one less wheel than a Mercedes, open air style, convertible on the sides. To be greeted by a spiffy shining dark jet black dog, who smells the air around you with deceptive ease, and lets you pass with his boss saying "Namaste". Then someone takes everything on your person (except you) and passes it through an X-Ray machine. I am just glad they don't see my broken rib and fused tailbone. Your belongings are then returned to you, and you enter the Republic Day Brunch Parade.
This is about the Parade, I did. On Republic Day, January 26. 2014.
At the Courtyard by Marriot Mumbai Airport. Who held a contest to define Republic Day as a dish, and asked us what it should be and why....
Naturally, as befits a 64 year old person, brought up on the celebratory properties on Payasam, my entry was a poem about the Patriotic Payasam.
I won . :-) Those Payasamically curious, may read the poem here.
A Brunch for 2, on Republic Day , at their Mo Mo cafe. Naturally, the family photo expert attended with the camera.
The only thing different here was, that WE were the parade, as we walked amidst the breads and the salads, and chaats, and regular lunch stuff and pastas, regaled by the mocktails.
A bit different from sitting in one place, inside barricades, either cheek by jowl with muffler wrapped folks, or elegantly wrapped in shawls in special enclosures, applauding , seeing the various folks go by....
Ours was a perspective of the parading types. who watch the folks in the stands and galleries.
And naturally , this being Election Year, we had something to say about certain folks.
Friday, January 17, 2014
Sometimes , I wonder.
How someone, with a paneer obsession for almost a quarter of a century, can suddenly now, actually turn her nose up and away, when faced with a paneer choice ?
How someone, who almost always gravitated to the T-shirts and jackets section in shops, suddenly cannot pull herself from the kurtas and salwars section overnight ?
How a bracelet-and-charms aficionado, seriously looks up and says "You are supposed to wear 12 green glass bangles in one arm, and 13 in the other...." and looks troubled when someone else disagrees ?
How someone who swore by heels and despised flats, suddenly turns away in shoe shops, when confronted when heels guaranteed to topple you as you run for 6:56 am fast suburban train service.... ?
How a confirmed midnight chocolate snacker (with a yet unbroken record of imbibing 1 kilogram of assorted Hershey's chocolates over a 2 day weekend), seriously looks up and says "you know you are supposed to fast before the pujas and rituals...." and proceeds to berate you for offering something to eat.
Well ? It happens.
When certain life stage changes are imminent.
Virtual lenses modify the eyes, ear drums percuss louder when inputs are special, and wings appear in the mind.
One tries to research the origins of customs that are so convincing to some. And finds out that the original custom was a brand ambassador of commonsense; in an effort, over the years, at mindlessly following things, we have managed to mess up the real priorities .
Some one's troubled face when confronted with the absence of a full fledged celebrated "haldi" ceremony in the planning of a wedding, led to a few discussions with someone who is a a scholarly officiating wedding priest who explained.
Turns out, that in Maharashtra, earlier in the last century, the ideal marriageable age for girls was 8 years. (Never mind the boy's age. You thanked your stars if he was 20, and practiced looking stoic if he was 32. ) This was an age when kids played outdoors in mud, climbed trees, enjoyed swimming in local rivers, since there was no Internet, cell phones, malls with multiplexes, television, movies, and so on. When faced with an imminent marriage, the religious rules demanded some elements of cleanliness and purity , and the kids were subjected to a decent scrubbing with haldi and besan before bathing. Haldi (turmeric) was a well know antiseptic (among many other properties) , and it made sense to land up at the wedding rituals as clean and pure as you could be , in the days before L'oreal, Fair and Lovely, and Ponds.
It was also useful to check out about the fasting. There is much to be said about not encouraging the currently prevalent system of following strict fasts to be concluded by eating a selection of heavy celebratory rich foods, all in the name of "customs".
Sometimes, those who cannot bear to be away from food, do so if God is involved.
And then , there is also the ancient classification of food into Taamsi food and Satwick food.
Folks today, tend to over imbibe taamsi stuff, and look askance at a vegetarian you, if you object to them mixing up serving spoons in the vegetarian and non vegetarian stuff. You are derisively called a ghass-phoos type if you get your kicks from spinach and cabbage, and many aspire to eating things that have hearts and eyes , in an effort to keep up with the times and Joneses. Asking someone to fast before a religious ritual , avoids taking sides in the satwick and taamsi debate, and gives the body a decent break , so it can rest and rejuvenate fresh and clean inside , before approaching God.
(The gentleman I spoke to, was all for those with problems like old age, diabetes, acidity and other stuff, partaking a light meal , milk etc before attending and performing a ritual. He also mentioned the need to wear new and or freshly washed clean comfortable clothes at the ritual , instead of the specially, touch-me-not silk dhoties often required ... ) .
While this may perturb those whose idea of honoring the Almighty is to sit at the ritual studded with gold, diamonds and heavily adorned silk, it is clear, that the various other customs really arose out of the social interaction systems prevalent in the old days.
Mehndi was never about designs, but about plans.
Young girls , at 8 and 10 , apprehensive after a childhood with societal restrictions closing in as you grew up, were clearly stressed going into their marriage. They probably saw the husband for the first time at the wedding ceremony. Mehndi applied to the extremities of the limbs, strengthened and cooled the nerves . The artistry took their mind away from anxieties about an unknown future. And the girls enjoyed the mehndi fellowship with other girls in a life where there were not too many social occasions for them to enjoy outside the house. There was also a custom of hiding the husband's name/initials somewhere in the design on the palms, and various theories were propagated about dominance depending on whether the husband was able to find his initials in the design on the wife's palm after a search.
Clearly, this was not about party games. In an age, devoid of online matrimonial portals, Cafe Coffee Day, Starbucks, cell phones, whatsapp, and discos, this was a kind of game-cum-smart-effort, to get the couple to feel at ease with each other, as the husband held the wife's hand, and searched for his name in the design on the palm.
It boggles the mind to think about how all this degenerated into the currently fashionable so called "customary" events where folks in fancy clothes, gyrate to specially choreographed filmy songs, with suggestive lyrics.
Yes, cultures across the country are different. There are womens' traditional dances like the garba and certain maharashtrian game-like events, where the girl's friends do traditional graceful dances, to songs with lyrics that talk about the various in-laws in a humorous yet respectful way. A kind of "Introduction-to-inlaws 101" course.....
Many things, originally of great utilitarian and comfort value, have now been thoughtlessly parodied, and the original meaning has been lost. Vested commercial interests market occasions in a way that makes folks feel insecure unless they do them .
So the old idea of families travelling by bullock kart and on foot for days together to the bride's place for the wedding ceremony, leading to the custom of offering warm water to wash feet, has been parodied into a custom where the groom's feet on arrival, are washed by people double his age, although the groom arrives from somewhere by an air conditioned car, and sometimes the last few metres on a horse taller than the car. A not so subtle suggestion of some one's deemed high status.
So many , customs and events, earlier existing for reasons of hospitality and convenience have now become situations where importance is given to all the wrong aspects.
We are experts at doing this. Disobeying the original intention and parodying things.
Long time ago, the registration of a marriage was not compulsory. If you so wished, you went to the registrars office, filled up forms, showed proofs, and your marriage was registered after suitable safeguards were in place, like public announcements and a waiting period. People in that office looked on with great interest at the couple in question, and even fantasized about whether they had run away to get married, whether there was some interesting opposition or simply just rule obsessed folks with lots of time on their hands.
The minute the government made the registration mandatory, the erstwhile quiet office, is now teeming with all kinds of staff, officers, lawyers, touts, and people out to make a quick buck. There is a price for everything. A parody of something that was introduced with good intentions.
We so excel at flouting rules, sidestepping things and finding loopholes.
I often think about how things will be, say twenty years hence. What will be the customs then . What stuff we will parody . What stuff we will market as an unavoidable requirement.
And whether someone will actually look back in history, and write a post like this.
And whether I will be around to read it :-)
Like I said, sometimes, I wonder.