Thursday, July 23, 2009

Living the Wow

Be still
pause
linger
for a moment
catch the magic
in a falling raindrop
capture the miracle
of the first sunray
celebrate the smell
of morning tea.
Talk to the wandering clouds
Chase a rainbow
Tweet back to the birds
Let a butterfly
alight on your shoulder
live
love
laugh
Bring back the magic
the wonderment
the wow

Lost and Found

How I yearn for the lonesome sea
rushing, roaring, rolling perpetually
What does it ponder? what does it pray?
Is there hope or just dismay?
Alive n' kicking or plain frustrated
Are its dramatics authentic or narrated?
Is the blue sky its only audience?
Colouring it with its own moods and vibrance?
How I wish I were lost in the breeze
No voice, no murmur, no 'thanks you', no 'please'
Dance if I could with all that is me
Joining the sea and the sky, break free!
Languages abound but I want no words
Just want to drown in a sense of purpose...

Conundrums

I came across two baffling usages of words in the last few days. They comprise of (or should I say 'comprise'?) comprise, biweekly and bimonthly.

Now, to be frank, I have grown up using 'comprise' in the sense of 'made of'. Apparantly, that's incorrect! According to my reliable online resource http://www.dictionary.com/, which is again based upon Random House Dictionary, 'comprise' has had an interesting history of development.
To quote: "In addition to its original senses, dating from the 15th century, 'to include' and 'to consist of' (The United States of America comprises 50 states), 'Comprise' has had since the late 18th century the meaning 'to form or constitute' (Fifty states comprise the United States of America") Since the late 19th century it has also been used in passive constructions with a sense synonymous with that of one of its original meanings 'to consist of' or 'be composed of': (The United States of America is comprised of 50 states). These later usages are often criticized but they occur with increasing frequency even in formal speech and writing."

The dictionary further states that the traditional rule is that 'The whole comprises the parts and the parts compose/constitute/make-up the whole'. For instance, 'The Union comprises 50 states, whereas fifty states compose/constitute/make-up the Union'.
Apparantly, there are writers who still maintain this distinction. But 'comprise' is increasingly being used in the place of 'compose', especially in the passive voice: 'The Union is comprised of 50 states'. This is what even I have been using since a long time!

However, singling me out for blame wouldn't be right, because apparantly this usage has been increasing. In the 1960s, 63 per cent of the Dictionary's Usage Panel found this usage unacceptable. But in 1996, only 35 per cent objected.
So that's about the first conundrum. Should I bow down to the Queen's English or should I continue following vox populi?

The second conundrum is about the meaning of bi-weekly and bi-monthly?
You tell me: Does is mean twice a week/month or once every two weeks/months?
Got you! Didn't I? Well, apparantly, both the meanings are in practice!
Check out the following links, the authorities in the English language:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bi-weekly
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bi-monthly
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bi-weekly
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bi-monthly

I do understand that I can squeeze my way past the confusion created by 'bi-weekly' by replacing it with 'fortnightly' whenever required. But what do I do about 'bi-monthly'?
Aah! English language is both fascinating and silly, and perhaps for these very same reaosn it is so popular... eh! What say?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Is this Home?

I miss Dehradun.

Labeling it as home-sickness wouldn't be fair. Because it isn't just my home that I miss, but the entire city, the air, the roads, the bakeries and most of all, the mountains.

For around 24 years, every morning that I woke up, I would be greeted by the austere presence of the silent giants. Sometimes blue, sometimes green, sometimes gray, and innumerable mishmashed shapes in between... forever playing withe their misty companions, the clouds.
In the summers the peaks would turn grey, and there would be no sight of clouds. The vivid blue sky would provide a stark contrast to the heat wave beneath. The breeze would transform into, what we call, the loo - which in the vernacular lingo means hot wind, not the restroom! And the mountains would stand stoically day in and day out. At nights however, one could often see the stark lines of forest fires in the distance, as if the heat really did become unbearable for the rocky giants and they are venting their feelings in the dark of night.

As the parched earth calls out to the clouds, one fine day the sky gets overcast by ominous grey clouds. Mottled in various shades of grey, these block the sunlight. The relief is short lived as humidity takes over, drenching all in sweat even in bath and making the very air heavy to breathe.

And then, there's the deluge.

The heavens pour displaying their might. Often there are no drops, but streams of water! The hypnotic sound of the continuous downpour is interspersed with deafening thunder and lightning.

I've lived in Mangalore, a coastal town, and Bangalore. But nowhere have I witnessed thundering and lightening as extensive, boisterous and spectacular, as in Dehradun. It is the mother of all pyrotechnic shows!

As the rains recede, the mountains take on a lovely green hue. Vibrant and rich, the various shades of green glisten in the subdued sun, contrasting uncommonly against the grey sky and the white swans gliding in the foreground.

It is a magical time. Every evening around 3:30 it rains heavily. And then remnants of the rain clouds - wispy and translucent white cloudlets - cling on to the hills and mountains, dressing them in sheer serenity. And then, when the sun sets, these very cloudlets burst forth in tantalizing colours such as fiery orange, pinks, violets and yellows... it is mother nature's reality show...

Come September and the rains recede, giving way to chill in the air and the festive spirit in the hearts of people. The clouds continue their visits to their peaked friends, but lesser in quantity and more friendly. The Autumn skies are like the canvas of an artiste gone creatively crazy... every few minutes the picture alters.

And in winters, the mountains drape themselves in white - snow white.

This is how it happens. First it becomes really cold. Then it starts raining. The cold is so so cold, that if you venture out, you'll feel your limbs are being chopped off in 'cold heat'. Get the picture? Add to it the dreary grey skies and a sun that shies away from the cold wind. And when it rains, all you can do is to cozy up in your rajai and sip hot chocolate. The next morning you brave the biting cold and venture to the rooftop, and the sight takes your breath away.

The semi-circle of mountains is capped white, glistening, sparkling white, with white clouds rolling up and down their slopes... How do I describe that beauty? Well... it doesn't just influence the eyes. You feel at a loss for words... 'wow'...'wonderful'.. etc don't suffice. You give up and surrender to the beauty. You don't search for words, but revere it in silence, allowing the magnificence to seep into you and steep you with a silent and heavy exhilaration. And... you just pray.

In fact, you don't pray, but the prayer happens... a wordless prayer, not to ask for anything, but arising out of a sense of overwhelming gratitude...

Yes, that's my home.

In the journey of life, the directions can get pretty dull and unclear. However, the birds need no direction to reach home. Their instinct leads them. Similarly, life may become dull, confusing and muddied... but the way home is always clear. Who knows... the end of the journey may be home itself?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Suitable Candidate

Tomorrow Bangalore goes to the polls. I have been wondering who should I vote for.
On one hand is the BJP veteran Ananth Kumar. Giving him stiff competition are Krishna Byregowda of INC and Capt Gopinath (Independent). I consider only these three as worth mentioning.
While discussing with my friends a few days ago about who would they vote for, I came across a strange quandry. My good friend said that he supported Capt. Gopinath, but would not vote for him since he is not likely to win, and hence his vote might go waste.
The logic of shifting loyalties with the candidate who is likely to win - in this case it is Ananth Kumar - did not make sense to me.
What does the vote stand for?
It symbolizes the strength of support a candidate has.
So whether she wins or not should not be of the only consequence. Even if she loses, the number of votes she loses by signifies a lot!
If a candidate like Capt Gopinath, who elicits immense respect, admiration and trust in the common man's heart, loses, the number of votes he garnered will draw the line between hope and despair. If he loses by a narrow margin, there will still be hope for the next elections. People will have faith in the fact that good candidates, who aren't from established parties or are not true-blue politicians, can also win.
I hope people aren't swayed by cynicism and make the right choice tomorrow.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Women in Blue

I had a fantastic Saturday morning watching a group of spirited, determined and charming girls put on a great show on the telly.

No, I'm not referring to the Miss World/Universe/Earth/Asia/whatuwill contest, or the sloppy Indian version of 'So you think You Can Dance', but the ICC Women's World Cup 2009.

Well, I must confess that I didn't know that women's cricket had a World Cup too. But then again, I'm not a cricket fan. That said, I didn't continue watching the game because the players were women, but because it was a good game!

In fact, it seemed like a slightly different replay of last thirty minutes of 'Chak De', with Indian kudis facing off Australian babes. India scored an impressive 234 for five and beat the hosts by 16 runs! Be it Anjum Chopra's cool 76, Mithali Raj's impeccable fielding, Jhulan Goswami's tightly controlled run rate or wickets taken by Gauhar and reema, these girls knew how to kick ***! I specially loved Mithali for her clever lunges and dives while fielding that kept the competition from scoring expensive runs.

And I wondered - This is a good game! This is a game that should be highlighted! This is a game that should get more sponsors!

Sponsors and TV channels are interested only in the number of eyeballs. In turn, the number of eyeballs is related to 1) the game 2) the players. Incidentally, both these factors are quite easily fulfilled here.

First, we are talking about cricket. It is an undisputed fact that cricket is religion in the Indian subcontinent and hence rests the case. As for the second factor, think again. We are talking about a group of young, sprightly and smart girls who know their game. Thrill, excitement, suspense, angst, delight - they give you all in a scope of 50 overs. As far as 'presentability' is concerned, these lasses looked really cool in their blue overalls! Must say their Aussie counterparts were not less spectacular either!

The bottomline is, here's a group of women who are doing something unconventional. They are garnering applause and spreading cheer through a medium that's been traditionally male-centric. And they are doing it without flaunting any of the 'typical' assets that are unfortunately considered mandatory in showbiz/advertisements.

So, I give them kudos for playing such an engaging game, and for making me slightly interested in it! I am hopeful that I will be seeing more of them as the time passes and wish that they attain a similar status of stardom that is bestowed upon their male counterparts in this country.

As for men who like sporty women, I would recommend checking out the teams. You would not be disappointed ;) Here's the link to the official ICC Women's World Cup site:
http://iccwomensworldcup.yahoo.net/index.html

May the best women win!!!!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ramblings

Alone, I stand
Looking ahead, and back
Trails travelled and unknown.
Behind are the woods - wistful, grateful, sorrowful
can't just leave them behind, can I?
And yet, the sky ahead is turquoise.
A blissful wind slaps my cheeks,
the sun burns me a rich brown.
It stings... and feels alive.
What is it at the horizon?
A gathering storm, I must say,
as I get drawn towards its.
Crazy?
Ah... yes. Passion is crazy.
Being alive is being crazy.
Being happy is being crazy.
I laugh, and move ahead
as the tear drops behind...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More About Idea of India

A glance by chance at the list of articles by Shashi Tharoor led me to this article, also incidentally named - 'The Idea of India'.
While I put my thoughts about the same subject in the earlier blog entry in an elementary way, here's an intellectual giant elaborating the same in a much more engaging and pursuasive write-up.
Enjoy!

What's The Issue?

Just read an engaging column by MJ Akbar - 'All religions are not the same, but fundamentalists are'. He is right on three accounts:
  1. Fundamentalists are totally out of sync with popular culture. They are holding on to their own outdated notions - that are incorrect in the first place - and enforcing them on others with impunity.
  2. All religions are not the same, but fundamentalists are. Akbar Ji says that they all share an aversion for modernity and a hatred of gender equality. I totally agree.
  3. He says, "India is one nation among many that emerged from the ruins of the British empire claiming the mantle of modernity. This is not because Indians are superior to their neighbours, but because the idea of India is better."
"The Idea of India" - This is one of the most powerful phrases I've ever come across. The idea of India is so gigantic, vast, expansive, all-endearing... that there is no space for 'one' right way of doing things. India is a micro-cosm, a poupurri of colours, sentiments, beliefs, cultures, philosophies, cuisines, festivals, physical attributes and what not.
On a different note, when it comes to describing myself, I often say that what I am today, is a sum resultant of my past. I feel that this logic is applicable to everyone, and should be extended to the country as well.
What India is today, is a sum resultant of its past - the good, the bad, and the ugly. The fact is that that we need to accept it in all its wholeness. Could there be an India without the Taj Mahal? Could there be an India minus the quaint French charm of Pondicherry? Could there be an India without Bodh Gaya, Khajuraho or the Lotus Temple? You cannot have India by subtracting the influences that created what it is today.
The 'Idea of India' is that of equality, freedom, democracy and secularism.
The Sangh Parivaar and its subsidiaries must realise that they are simply alieanating themselves from India by propounding their narrow minded theories. India doesn't need moral policing. It needs professionalism, accountability, transparency. Similarly, the 'secular' front must become secular in the real sense by not engaging in minority politics. Meritocracy is the order of the day. Let the worthy, win!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Monkey Trouble

Monkeying can be both good and bad.

In fact, it can be pretty bad, as is obvious from my previous post about the Goons in Saffron. Watching the news made my bile rise, and I tried to divert my thoughts to monkeying of a different kind. Mistake me not dear reader, I am just referring to the fantastical acrobatics of our Darwinian ancestors, the real and honourable monkey. Honest to word, I felt much better and would now like to relate to you the same.

The apartment where I live is next to the sprawling campus of the Central Silk Board. Apart from the hundreds of worker, the campus is also home to a group of monkeys who take refuge in its greenery in a city that is today defined by its traffic snarls and concrete jungle.

Last year, in July, the monkeys made a surprise visit to our apartment, and had ravaged my potted plants kept out in the balcony. Understandably, I was shocked and appalled to see the destruction, and in the following months took great paints to nurse my plants back to health. Luckily for me, the monkeys didn't appear again, or so I thought.

A week ago I was sipping my morning mug of tea, checking emails in my study. Vijay was likewise working on his laptop. In all appearances it was supposed to be a usual run-of-the-mill weekday morning.

Having finished my tea I picked my mug and walked towards the kitchen. But Instead of proceeding I stopped dead in my tracks.

As if in slow motion my mind detected a trail of fruits on the dining room floor. First was a huge papaya, partially eaten, then was a pulpy, red stuff, which I decided not to ponder over. Then there was an onion, again half eaten and some more unrecognizable mashed stuff. As my unblinking eyes traced the trail to the top of the dining table, I saw a bunch of grapes lying outside the bowl and... (this is the worst part)... a large pool of a liquid that looked like water.

My sudden halt alarmed Vijay who was on the phone. He hastened to cut the call and hurried to my side. And predictably, even he was dumb-founded! What could have happened? Who could have come in? Why is the house in such a state?

After what seemed like an eon, my mind jolted into action and noticed the bite marks on the papaya. Large jaw, almost human, but not as big. Next I noticed the red, pulpy stuff... hmmmm... tomato. What about the onion? The bite marks on it corresponded with those on the papaya, and I silently congratulated myself. Ah! I had missed noticing something earlier - a bunch of bananas was missing! I moved to the table and inspected the spilled water. Where did it come from? Did a bottle fall off? Hmmm.... no... As I watched, the water trickled to the side of the table and started dripping on the floor. I wondered as I watched and made a deduction.

It was a monkey, a young monkey, alone, away from its group, that visited our balcony. The door was open, from where it detected the green grapes in the bowl. As it scampered across the living room to the dining table, it saw the yellow papaya under the shelf. Excited at the prospect of so much food it scampered to the shelf and took bite from the papaya. From that point it could look inside the kitchen, where onions are kept in a basket along with potatoes. The sight of the shiny maroonish onions lured the monkey inside the kitchen.

(I can almost visualize a kid in a candy store!!!)

The monkey retraced its path, carrying a bunch of bananas that were kept next to the papaya, back to the dining table. There it dug into the packet of vegetables I had bought the previous evening and ate up a juicy tomato. Then, in the exhilaration of finding his new land of plenty, he decided to mark it as his territory. And yes, he marked it in ways more physical than psychological, the way most animals do - by urinating (uggghhhh!)... on my dining table!!!!!!!

(I have no words or expressions to demonstrate my indignation at this point!)

While the simian adventurer was thus marking his new territory, it heard footsteps of a homo-sapien (poor me). His survival instincts kicked in and he was gone before I even reached the crime scene.

I must say that Vijay was baffled, intrigued and disgusted by the whole episode. But he also admired my Sherlock Homes-kind-of-deductive-capacity. After a gallant offer of cleaning up the place, he relinquished that job to me and proceeded to throw all the food that had been touched by the surprise visitor into the garbage bin.

Wow.... though my simian guest was unwelcome and unexpected, I didn't feel angry. In fact, I thought it was really funny! And I think that things like these should happen once in a while to jolt us out of our 'routine' lives! Personally, I think it was nice, sweet monkey, in the teenage phase, hungry and trying to establish its domain. I'm just glad it didn't get interested in my purse, or Vijay's ID card which were also kept on the table...

I'm glad that this world still has real monkeys - creatures that stay true to their nature, don't have perverted thoughts, live and let live. Mutalik and his goons can take some lessons here, eh?

Goons in Saffron

I am a Hindu and I am ashamed.

I am ashamed because Goondas are using Hinduism - perhaps the most diverse and all-accepting religion in the world - to achieve their pathetic 15 minutes of fame.
First it was the Ram Sene, and now it is the Bajarang Dal, who are destroying the unique harmony and cultural pou-pourri of Mangalore. I lived in this charming town for a year, while I was dating my husband, Vijay. And now I wonder, if I were still living there, would I have been dragged out on the street, beaten, abused and embarrassed, for being friends with a boy???

I sincerely wish that the girls who were molested in Mangalore come out and identify the culprits. Otherwise our silence will be taken for acceptence, giving confidence to these ruffians' perverted minds. Being a woman myself I can understand the fear of being 'branded for life'. But then, why should we accept a branding system that is flawed in its very conception, and is unfair, unjust and illogical to its core?

I also wish that people celebrate Valentine's Day like never before. Even if they have no plans or no partners, they must come out and celebrate. Because it is no longer about right or wrong. It is about our fundamental right to freedom. We must tell these goondas without mincing any words that their crude political games will not work here - not in the midst of educated, aware and responsible citizens. And if these 'goons in saffron' cross the line, we must not hesitate to get them prosecuted.

We all know that there are innumerable real issues that need urgent attention - illiteracy, casteism, gender discrimination, corruption, bribery, rape... the list is endless. But these hooligans refuse to think straight and are bent upon getting media visibility and hence political mileage through disrupting communal harmony. After all, what can one expect from people like Mutalik, a political sidekick with almost 53 criminal cases pending against him???