Thursday, 17 December 2009

Masks and faces


“In the room, the women come and go
Talking of Michaelangelo.”

The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’ never was one of my favourite poems until I realised how much I could associate with it, and how much more it is true of our lives today. I came across this poem in my 11th standard poetry text and was not too fascinated by it. But somehow it has managed to stay in my life, and sauntered across my path a million times over after that. So it credits some mention today.
I was thinking about the above quoted lines yesterday, at a poetry meet at the Taj Mount Road Hotel. It is a posh and beautiful place, but somehow, I knew that I was out of place. I couldn’t place myself amongst the talking multitude of people muttering seemingly-sweet nothings into each others’ ears. It forcibly reminded me of this poem. It was the same circumstance, and I, here, was Prufrock. Over and over again, through the night, these two lines would resonate inside my head, and I mentally thought of penning it down in my blog. So here it is.
Maybe last night, we all were preparing “a face to meet the faces that (we) meet,” like the masque, where we do not need to show our true face, but rather a facade. [I wonder which word came first- face or facade, and whether the root of the two words are the same]. These faces are easily stripped off when you look at yourself in the mirror, and force yourself not to lie. It is tough, is it not, to face the truth? Hmm... another meaning to the word face- to confront. Interesting that the word ‘face’ seems to mean both confronting as well as masking. And thus Janus is justified. Though she looks at both the present and the past, she is also a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
And that is all that we are. We are mere imitiations of dark and light merged into one being. We are masques and images that refract light, like million pieces of glass, except it doesn’t have an original sun. We are shadows of a non-existant sun. We are thus, nowhere and everywhere, and thus mirages of reality. The real does not exist, but only the simulation. We are, then, the simulation. And it all boils down to the fact that,
“In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michaelangelo.”

Sunday, 13 December 2009

The ideal home

When I was young, and visited my grandparent’s place, I was always caught by the house they lived in. It was a small, individual house, not too comfortable, but perfect. It had two gates leading into it, and it was surrounded by trees and plants of all different kinds. My mother fondly recalls that they never had to go to the market much for vegetables, because they had almost all of it right at home. Each entrance had a tinnai (a bench- sort of) where you could sit all day and chat (arrattai, we call it), and we would feel the wind on our face in the evenings. But my favourite pass-time used to be the moments when my cousin and I would cook up stories in our imaginative heads, and enact them in our little front yard. I would be the goddess durga, and he would be her ‘vahanam’, or we would be two awestruck children at a park or fair.
There was a small roofed area just before the door to the house, where we would park the cycles and keep the iron boxes of old- the one where we had to fill coal inside. I remember the days when I would look at it with trepidation, wondering whether I would burn my fingers on it.
The house itself, I vaguely recall. It was a two bedroom house with a small hall and dining room, and the pooja attached (I think) to the kitchen. It was concise, and small and pleasurable to visit. The backyard had a well, and a stone slab for the washing of clothes, something I used to love sitting on when it wasn’t being used. And then if you walked half circle around the house, you would chance upon the stairs that led you up to the terrace.
The neighbourhood itself was comparatively silent. There was a ground opposite, where in later years, my cousin would play cricket. There was a small ‘Arun Ice Cream’ shop where my grandmother would always take me to buy ice cream. The roads were mud roads, but neat (as I remember it at least). And every week-end, my grandmother and I would go to the nearby Hanuman temple and would devoutly bring home the prasadam for everybody.
At some point in time though, that house ceased to exist, and we created a new one. And I know this sounds a little ‘R. K. Narayan-ish’ but the home lost a flavour that it once cherished. It wasn’t the same any more. The trees had gone, though the building itself, was bigger. And there were no steps outside that you had to secretly hunt for to find the terrace and look up into the stars. My grandmother didn’t live to see that house.
It is one house that I would choose to imitate, if ever I were to look for a dream house in my life. It inspired in me lot of childish thoughts that probably still remain and alter me. I know that there must have been many flaws in that house, but it was the ideal home to me.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Ultimate Dance Battle (against Cancer)

A spark of an idea can prompt a revolution. And what better than the language of dance to convey a message? M D Rashmi and Deepti Nirmal ask this of the youth of today. Though only women of twenty one, they aspire to bring about an awareness amongst the present generation about the risks and hazards of unhealthy lifestyles through the means of a dance battle.

Even if young in age and experience, these two women have managed to stir the interest of society by posing sharp questions about present lifestyles that can affect us drastically without our realising it. The idea of a dance battle crept up after discussions with doctors and researchers from the Cancer Institute, where they realised that today’s way of living can even lead to major health issues like cancer. They wanted to vociferously speak out against drinking, smoking and constant splurging on junk food, which is also a primary reason for cancer in youth.

How it evolved

Words,in this instance, does not come through advice, but rather through action. Rashmi and Deepti use the unique method of dance for awareness and inspiration, and hope to infuse a change. Vision Vogue Enterprise, their event management company, which began three months ago, decided to produce “The Ultimate Dance Battle Against Cancer”. They believe that “the cause is the drive”. They enjoy their job, and believe in their cause. It is their sole motivation. Putting their heart and soul in their work, they aim to inspire people, especially the youth, to repair their way of living.

Neither Rashmi nor Deepti have had prior professional experience. Hailing from Madras Christian College, from a Visual Communication background, both women have started their own company out of sheer will power and have prospered solely based on what they have been able to observe and implement in their bussiness stratergies. They have managed to assemble enough contacts in the bussiness world, and they convince us that they will survive. Nothing is impossible, is one of their common ideologies. Hardships have been a part of the game, but they have learnt only through experience. Neither believe that this would have been possible if it had not been for the family support that they acquired. It is this as well as their sweat and blood that has got this youth revolution going.

The message

The word they want to spread revolves around the hazards that can lead to cancer. The cure for such a disease is hazy and research has not yet found a solution to this problem. Doctors and researchers thus emphasise on prevention. And this prevention is possible only by spreading the word- unhealthly living (smoking, drinking and junk food-eating) is a primary source for cancer in humans. Today’s generation has to believe and aspire toward a good and healthy lifestyle.

About 8,50,000 cancer cases are diagnosed every year and there are about 5,80,000 cancer related deaths every year. Of this, 50-60% of all cancers are environmental and 20-30% of the cancers are caused due to dietary habits as well as reproductive and sexual practices. Tobacco causes 50% of cancers in men. To prevent all of this, we ought to be in control of body and mind, and we need to begin to take care of what we eat and drink.

It is this that the dance battle is out to convey. It is a means to raise money for the Cancer Institute, but it is also a message. With the support of around fifteen people, these young women intend to hold a dance battle, which is the first of its kind in India, promoting western styles of dance which have not been able to gain prominance here. The battle allows different dance groups to dance simultaneously and the judge selects the best team from the lot. Since it is a new field that is yet to be explored in India, it allows for fair competition as well as judgement. Held at the Jawaharlal Nehru indoor stadium, on the 13th of February, in connection with the World Cancer Day, this dance battle promotes a new concept in the field of event management in India. Dance groups from around Tamil Nadu will be sparring with each other to promulgate an event of great magnitude and hopefully of a revolution.

Due to its very nature, this battle has attracted big media and will definitely attract big audiences. Around 6000 people are expected at the JN indoor stadium on the 13th of February to witness this event.

Vision Vogue believes that the youth can be stirred only by the youth, and this event is most definitely of the youth, by the youth and for the youth. We can bring about a change. We will bring about a revolution.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Roots

I have never been rooted to the ground. I feel that I have always been airy, flitting through the clouds, not too concerned about earthy matters. Never weighted down by these, I never did search for my roots- still haven’t, though maybe it is time to begin. I know I am of a certain caste, class and creed. And it never stuck me to observe those around me, and look at how they differed from me. Not in a negative way- positive tones only.

So, when a friend asked me about my culture, I was a little clueless (still am), and I started thinking about it. Why is it that I have never bothered to try to find it? - To look for my past, present and future in relation to contexts around me? I follow customs and traditions that are practiced in my house. But that isn’t all there is to culture.

Why do I not know my language? I only started asking this question to myself recently… in the past few months, that is. Why is it that I am more comfortable expressing myself in English than in my mother tongue? Is my language dying out in me? It is only in the near past that I have begun to feel that my language is unique, and special. There are some words that I would never want to replace, nor ever could, because only my language offers me those words and the impulse that throbs behind those words.

In fact, a simple word, like ‘rattam’ (“blood”), can mean so much more. It is not only blood, but passions and angers. It goes way beyond what ‘blood’ means. I do know that English offers this too. Obviously. However, it is only around now that I realise that I took my language, and my roots for granted.

It is time I get grounded. It is time I waft back down to reality, and to what I have to claim as inherently mine.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Conversations at 3 in the night

Silent feet tip-toe in, just as you are about to walk out
And the words flow and spring and sing and chant.
Never knew the meaning of a conversation,
Thinking of past, present and continuous harmonies-
A million considerations and recognitions
That you did not know existed
Float up to the surface.

Nothing of importance, of consequence,
No notes of high-tea and elegance.
Simple jingles of everyday life
Rekindle a spirit, a fire
To know, to read, to see and inquire
And change the route of a car
On a collision course
With Destiny.

Laughter chimes a mellifluous tune
And binds a bond stronger than love or friendship,
because it remains unnamed and unique.

Conversations at three in the night.

- I do know that there are people who will argue that three o' clock actually is morning time, but it sure does feel like the night when you end up talking till three. Try it, and you'll understand what I mean. It isn't precisely the same when you end up watching movies till three.

Sojourns of a lost Kitten

I was left alone on a tree;
there was no one to take care of me.
I squirmed, not knowing what to do.
I shrunk back,
Tail between my feet.
A quick hand snatched at me.
I dodged.
I landed on a shed
And my balance was lost.

I flew- for the first time-
like I never knew was possible.

And then, there was cold:
Sheer, blistering cold.
My heart sped and dropped.
And then there was another grasp
And life breath shuddered around me-
A sharp, freezing wind,
Sharper than the water's cold.
And then warmth,
And loving hands.

Where am I?
Where will I go?

- This was written when Simba entered our lives, and changed it for the few days before our holidays, leaving a little hole in our hearts when we had to leave. He is about the most lively kitten I have ever come across, and I want to cuddle him in the palm of my hand again, and watch him clamber up your dress to curl onto your shoulder. Waiting to show him The Lion King. I'm sure he'll be impressed!!!

Monday, 9 November 2009

hello again...

It has been a long while since I opened this site, and I guess I need to pen down something about HCU! Well, in the few months that went by here, it has been an absolute roller coaster ride of fun and confusion, studies and random roamings, nature and the wild (well, sort of at least) and classrooms. But especially chai-kadai wanderings, senseless ponderings and happy meanderings.

Now it's time for exams and it's time to study. I have asked myself many a time 'Is this how a student in her MA should behave?' and have always come up with the response 'No.' But sometings are too good to miss out on, and I'm happy still trying to be a kid. Well, partially....
The cold gives an amazing high, by the way. Try cycling round, round, round... and the campus becomes Terrebithiya, and you are the lord of the world. Tell me, do you know what it feels like to be free falling?! Open your eyes and you'll see a whole new world spring up in front of you....

And 'As the June-light turns to moonlight, I'll be on my way..."

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

On a night....

It is dark. The night stretches out beyond midnight. The night is forever. There is a wide stretch of rock lying, resting, beside a quiet lake. Solitarily, two hands hold feet close to the chest as the wind whips across the face. There is a symphony of the croaking frogs (or toads) and the subtler backdrop of buzzing insects. The music is deafeningly beautiful. They conjure images of peace and tranquility. They remind you that you are not alone. There is always music; if you care to search.

Monday, 1 June 2009

On a dream

Dip your hand into paint, and draw out your dream
A meagre yellow taint on a dripping wet screen.
Play out your music like a psychedelic film-
A strain, joyous or melancholic, of a thoughtless whim.

Slowly, painstakingly, carve it, like an idol of Siva.
Mould it, but hold it, and don’t let it flutter away.
Trap it, arrest it, and pin it on paper today.

Sing until, magic imbued, the metal rings with power
And it clangs and it clatters into a momentous spiritual hour.
As the fires leap into the shape of that wisp of a dream,
And the paint is splashed brightly onto an imageless screen.

Ideas pour into coffee mugs and rustic libraries
And grow around them, gardens and tangible sceneries
Of darkness and happiness and moments of solace,
And the thoughts idle, and with the ocean plays.

Cluttered minds relax on huge-pillowed settees
And await an idea to wash in with the breeze.

(I prefer not to name this one)

I am a maker of coins.
My trade specialty is in gold.
I weld them and shape them
In perfect spheres of lustrous metal.

And I traversed the streets
With pride on my sleeve,
A slight ego glowing around me.

And one day, I met a Buddha
Who in silent speculation
Made gold out of thin air.
The Alchemist had it easy, I thought,
And all the fame.
And then I saw the
Veins of contemplation
Glitter through his gold,

And what I had made seemed mere forgery.
And I was no more unique.
Humbled I stood,
And I cannot promise to stop forging
But I shall attempt to
Set out on a soul-search
And maybe one day
I shall design
Pure Gold
Out of
Nothing.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Who said angels know everything?

Who said angels know everything?
Our wings carry us across the earth
But we are not of the land-
Mud; earthen-pain; earthly sorrow.
Our wings cry out to fly to the heavens again.
To see the Gods again,
To touch freedom again.

Our music you may love,
But your harsh resonances
Flash against our torn wings-
No longer feathers of white,
But stained red with your
Brethren blood
And singular hate.

Release us from your shackles.
Do not pray anymore.
Our wands no longer function,
And our angel-dust sparkles no more.

The clouds hang in a sullen stupor-
Heavy tears welling, often unshed:
They cannot bear us any longer.
They, too, turn crimson with anger
And are painted a poisoned red.

If I were to ask of the Gods,
I would ask them to revive my kin-
The niads, the nymphs lie dying
In your smoggy din.
And I would ask to fly.
Ah, to fly again
Into joyous isolation.

We hang in a limbo-
Puppet-strings from the heavens.
But instead of God's golden threads,
Your fleshy chains control us.

We will leave, believe you me-
The skies above us beckon.
The stars that are dead are born again,
And we will fly to create 'em.
Abandon hope, ye mortals,
Doomed to hellish lives.
Where cheerily thou abandon love,
Thou ought not to survive!

Reflections on a computer screen:

She sits, alone.
Her face is bright. Happy.
Lit by the monitor's whiteness.
She looks down. Types. Enters. Clicks.
Her eyes sparkle off the glass-
Like the flickering light.

She sits and sits,
Waits and waits.
The clock behind her
ticks and ticks.

The smile slowly wanes.
She touches up her hair nervously.
One half of her face is lit by the screen
As she turns her face to the clock.
She adjusts the web-cam
And waits. And waits.

The clock strikes,
Signaling an hour gone by.
In a hazy-black, non-movement
You can register a single tear drop down.
And the whiteness of the site
Becomes the blackness of emptiness.
She stands up, turns around and walks out.

An empty chair.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

I fear I'm becoming one of THOSE people!

I fear I am becoming one of 'those' people: people who do not care; who have not found their true calling, waiting for nothing in particular. I fear I am becoming a nobody. What do I really want? I do know I want to teach. But, honestly, I already know that cannot be it. It could not sustain me forever. It is temporary.
I know I want to set up a library. Definitely; someday. Clueless, but hopeful I stand. It is impossible to figure it out- yet. It is too vast a dream. When will it come true; how... Such questions. I have not thought about that place in a while now, what with entrance exams and all. Not that I have studied much, but I have evaded the thought of a new beginning. When will it come true?
I know I love literature, but what in literature? It is such a vast field, you would not believe it. People think, 'Ah literature.' But it is a philosophy unto itself. It ought to be carefully scrutinised to comprehend, and truly appreciate. What is in a word, except the ability to please or wound, is it not?!

I realise this is becoming more of a 'what I want to do' post. But that is just it. Where am I? Am I becoming a slacker? A computer-addict? A non-dream-realiser? Hopefully not.
Sometimes, you need a dream-catcher: to watch over your dreams. Not only at night, but even in the hours of morn.
I dream that I will live quietly by the sea, unmolested by the cacophony of the city lights and city sounds. A little peace in a cavern of silence. But suddenly, I find that loneliness is maddening. It presses in on you like a scream. And you grow restless, and your body aches to be free again, when ironically, you are the most free of all creatures. I fear I am becoming one of 'those' people who cannot come to terms with their isolation.
We all live in our lands of isolation, and find strange consolation in empty conversations. Where will you find a person who is truly free? When can you sit and stare into eternity? I want to be there. I want to be that person.
But I fear, I am becoming one of 'those' people.

Quote for the day:

"Love means not ever having to say you're sorry." - Love Story

Sunday, 24 May 2009

something, nothing/somewhere, nowhere

I am sitting in Kolkata as this gets blogged in, and I am just back from the 'garden of peace', Shantiniketan. It is an amazing place. A township in itself, I saw the variety of shops that sell cotton kurtis and jolna pais (cloth/jute bags) and gypsy beads and gypsy earrings. And the atmosphere was lovely. Today was a day for the rains and we were fortunate to miss the scorching sun. The place was alive with the greenery of the trees and the little rain drops drenched the earth with the aroma of life. I repeat, it was amazing!
The buildings were (yes, my friend called it quaint, but i choose to call them-) ancient. I like ancient, for some reason. I think I ought to have been born in a different era! However, back to the topic, the buildings were a paint-peeling-off cream, with moss all over- a nice antiquey look. And the skies were gray with the colour of an impending downpour.
The people were not too bad, and the place was humungous, but it was beautiful. I might not have accomplished much, but it gave me a sense of belonging. People have thought me as Bengali. Maybe I am?! At heart!
We lunched at Shantiniketan itself. And on our way back, we stopped at a sweet shop and bought some roshogollas and some mishti doi and later had some tea. And the thing is, with your tea and your mishti doi, you get a good supply of matkas that are worth taking home, and painting and keeping your room bright and beautiful. It was an amazing trip. And on our way back the downpour began and didn't stop for quite some time. The fields of green and the skies of blue-gray. It was a pleasant three-hour journey back.
Sometimes, you begin to think, why have we lost that life of leisure and why have we plunged into this frenzy of technology? What happened to all things bright and beautiful? It is not worth it to lose that. Never. Olden days of non-cell-phones and non-laptops. Once, just once, I'd like to be there. And this seems to be that 'there'.
In every dream, there is a reason, and in every reasoning there is a certain madness I suppose.

Friday, 27 March 2009

something on Music

Most of my life, especially in MCC, I have become absolutely dependent on music. Not just a specific kind of music, but general music. And somehow, it is the most important thing in the universe. It has existed even before language was perfected, in beat and rhythm. A beat, a breath, a gallop becomes a part of music, and inherent even in nature. There is a tune in the sway of the tree, the deer chase by a tiger, in the slight flutter in the air. I confess that I know nothing about music: absolutely nothing. Yet even I can tell that this song is horrid and that one is lovely; that this one is fast and that one is sorrowful.
I do not know of a person who does not listen to some form of music. In the Indian scenario, that is impossible, because songs are in every movie that we see- both bollywood and kollywood.
Yet, nowadays, movies have lost the quality of melody. One rarely comes across a song that is soft and flowy. It is all about remixes and fast beats. Not that I complain. I mean, fast paced is lovely, but once in a while there has to be something that is slow and sweet and not melancholic. Sometimes people miss the oldies.
And sometimes, like it is necessary to sit down and go wild and crazy, it is also necessary to just make music, and the world will be a brighter and better place: Make music, not war. And I really wish I could, but unfortunately my sense of music is miserable! I do not get pitch and rhythm. But every time I sit and listen to something, I am transported in to another world and that world is amazing, and that is all I know.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Sitting in front of the computer.

Holidays. You would think it is a word to whoop with joy! But, I don't know. Maybe holidays don't mean the same anymore! Now, it means sitting in front of the computer and doing absolutely nothing. I don't say that I don't have things to be doing. But this is so addictive it is killing me! I do not want to be typing this out right now, but I prefer it to reading Sanskrit or writing assignments which I should finish by the 8th of March. I do know that sounds a long time away, but believe me I have loads to do.
That sets you out to pondering as to what is so addictive about the computer? Well, primarily, the swivel chair that you set your behind comfortably into! And the screen which provides you practically everything, especially the 'getting in touch with friends' part. Not as though I do not meet my clasmates sooner or later, but there is some cheap thrill in being online! I do not know why!
I think I should read! Hmmm.... why it is not happening, I cannot fathom. I am supposed to be a bookworm. Well, apparently I am not! I do not know!
Well, today was a little more productive I would say. Stitching happened and some sanskrit learning. I do hope that I shall soon learn to live without any support system to take my mind off boredom.
Boredom is a surprisingly intriguing concept. It doesn't arise out of a lack of something to do. It rises due to a laziness. In fact, a lot of people speak of this boredom nowadays, it makes you wonder how people survived before. But amazingly, parents have managed without too much at hand and without any boredom to speak of!! Well, maybe it is the 'thumb generation' or maybe it is the lackadaisical present. But boredom does arise and a restlessness creeps in, making one desire for adventure and seek cheap thrills. Movies become an inegral part of this boredom! - "I'm bored. Wanna go for a movie?" is a common tag line that goes around.
Flimsy thought now flit through my head, as to whether I should not be seriously considering closing this site and doing something with myself. I shall now stop and I shall attempt to do something productive.

Signing out.

Friday, 6 February 2009

A flow of thought

I do not want to name this feeling, but it is there.
Deep down inside, I feel it squirm a thought into my head.
Why do we trust humans so? What is it that makes us want to bond?-
Be friends? - NEED friends?
Loneliness is an elixir. Sometimes you should lock yourself up and explore what you can do with yourself.
How do prisoners pass through the 'chamber' (or whatever it is called) and come out sane?
Disillusionment.
People will never be what you contrive them to be. So why bother?
But there is a spot inside of you that craves a little attention.
Damned attention! We are selfish selfish people.
We need that pat on the back.
One line that I intend to follow up on someday-
Said by Kurt Vonnegut: "Write a poem tonight. Make it as good as you possibly can. Four, six or eight lines. Make it as good as you can. Don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it to anybody. When you’re satisfied it’s as good as you can make it, tear it up in small pieces and scatter those pieces between widely separated trash receptacles and you will find out you have received your full reward for having done it. It’s the act of creation, which is so satisfying."

Genius he is!
I would have loved to meet him. Sometimes the world passes by a great person (not Vonnegut, but just saying...) and it is pitiful that new talents could die due to lack of inspiration.
That's why inspiration is a spark. That's why it is 'in' spiration- you inspire it. You breathe it! Vital for living, and yet so hard to find!
It is no wonder we all rot and die.
Maybe people aren't so bad, once you get yourself a distance! Maybe you will never find the perfect man, or lover. Maybe you have to keep adapting and changing.
But then, there is always a blossom of a butterfly wing. Maybe we should take the time to really percieve and really listen and we shall be at peace with ourselves. But then....