Category Archives: Musings

Musings at Dawn

Something struck the lamp on the wall.

I know .That doesn’t make sense. But that’s what my hand just wrote of its own accord. Its 5.45 am, not too early, but early enough for me to be groggy to write. This is the first time I’ve attempted writing at this time of the morning right after waking up. It’s still dark. I’m writing in the dark in my dairy sitting in bed. Three reasons- 1 -I like writing in bed, 2-I don’t want to switch on the light as it will disturb the rest of the family; 3- writing on the PC/laptop in the dark with the light shining into my eyes gives me a headache.

I know I will be typing all this later into the laptop, but I don’t mind the effort, I mind the headaches. So, I write in the dark in the dairy.  In fact, I can even write with my eyes closed (another Arjuna in the making?); the hand familiar with the formation of letters doesn’t need light or guidance. The only challenge is to keep up with the thoughts running astray.

This is an exercise advised by an author for amateur writers. The exercise is to write down thoughts, anecdotes or stories, whatever it is that comes into one’s mind the first thing after waking up.  I wonder –can writing be taught or is it an inborn talent. I should hopefully know in the next few months. I spend all day long, writing, reading and dreaming up stories. The kids have been upset with me for not spending enough time with them, not giving them enough attention. What to do, sometimes in the midst of a board game, an idea strikes and I scamper off to find my laptop just like a child who’s just spotted the ice-cream truck on a hot summer day and doesn’t want to miss it. Perhaps, I should forget the ambitions, the aspirations and make the kids happy.

I hear the pitter-patter of unclipped paw-nails on the wooden floor. Skipper is up. She’ll be sitting at the foot of the stairs, waiting eagerly for one of us to come down when she’ll start wagging her tail that will go thup-thup on the wooden floor. This wooden floor is a funny thing. One can hear the squeak or shuffle of footsteps that is characteristic of each member of the house. So one knows exactly who is going in which direction and no-one can sneak up on another. That’s a good thing I suppose.

I hear a train hooting loud and persistent, perhaps warning some errant early morning walkers. An auto is spluttering the first specks of the day’s pollution, a lone crow is plaintively crying out to another non-existent one. It’s strange that we don’t hear any crows during the day, in fact no birds at all. There was a time when the Bangalore dawn was redolent with the chirping of birds, the heady fragrance of the Sampige flower. During the summer hols in slow lazy Bangalore, walking down sankey lake, we used to admire  the shaded tree-lined boulevards ,  sprawling houses and the cool soothing breeze carrying flowery perfumes . My cousin and I would pick a house and hope that there would be a handsome guy in there we could marry- just because we fell in love with the house. Now, of course I have my own ‘sprawling house’ with my own ‘handsome’ guy in it.

A breeze is whooshing causing some of the windows to creak (they badly need oiling- I‘ve spent many a night in disturbed sleep due to those creaking windows). I hear the clitter-clatter of vessels, the tic-tic –ticing of the automatic burner. The maid is here. She has turned on the gas to heat the milk. It’s time to end my little world of musings; time to get out of bed, get kids and their lunch-boxes ready. Another new day, another new attempt at finding voice.

Mother

Mother,

Witty and wise

You gave me a perfect life.

With your X-ray eyes

You always knew what’s inside,

Worry or Joy

You were there by my side,

With arms –a-welcoming

Be it day or night.

You were patient with me

When I couldn’t tell wrong from right.

It seems only yesterday

When you were my guiding light

But now it’s my turn

To make sure you’re alright!

Timelessness

“Time doesn’t seem to pass here; it just is” – J.R.R. Tolkein

A warm salubrious breeze ruffles our hair gently. A  hazy group of  men sit on the rocks; a young family test the waters, pondering if they should get in. No hawkers, No crowds. Except for the sound of the sea, it’s pretty quiet. The sky is grey, almost colourless, only the golden glow on the waters hinting at a sunset. A sunset here turning into a sunrise elsewhere.

As we walk towards the water, there is a sudden impulse to let go, further impelled by the excited children who jump right in. The water is warm and muddy and as our toes start to sink into the wet, soft sand; a familiar feeling sinks in, like having met a long lost friend.

A heap of shells, some whole and some broken, just like our dreams and hopes, lay washed up on the shore. Time seems to stop here as footprints of the past and present merge together. Yet, the continuous rush of the restless waves- waves that can be gentle and caressing or cold and unforgiving remind us that time is unstoppable.

And as time beckons us to continue on our journey of life and routine, we hope to return someday to the eternal, everlasting, and timeless beauty of another beach, another sunset.

Related:

Frizztext’s story Challenge : Letter T

Road Trips

No stop signs, speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down
Like a wheel, gonna spin it
Nobody’s gonna mess me round

Everyone loves a good road trip once in a while! Wind in the hair; sun in the eyes, maybe some dust too; engine at full throttle; listening to ‘highway to hell’!!

There are movies dedicated to road trips (Thelma and Louise and Road trip) and road trippers too who pursue the hobby very seriously.

My road trips haven’t really been road trips in the true sense, more a method of travel to get to a destination. I’ve travelled by road in many countries, but the most memorable ones have been here in India.

My earliest memory of a road trip was as a child of 10 or 12, travelling with my father’s extended family to the temple town of Tirumala for a wedding. The drive through 7 hills with hair-pin bends , steep roads and deep gorges on one side was a challenge for even an experienced driver. Halfway up, it started raining cats and dogs and visibility reduced to almost zero. The driver continued driving; the relatives started chanting bhajans (prayers). Whether it was divine intervention or the driver’s acumen, we reached the summit in one piece!

Delhi to Dharamshala  was another eventful , never-ending journey with 2 flat tyres and an un-cooperative driver intent on driving way below the speed limit. The only  consolation  was that the extra hours helped to catch up with old friends with beer and tandoori chicken!

Others trips were memorable for their scenic landscape, such as Ladakh for its stark mountain ranges and steep winding roads; Rajasthan for the dry, sandy and rugged topography.  Our recent trip to Chikmagalur was also dotted with some lovely rustic scenery.

Ladakh
Ladakh
enroute Chikmagalur

Driving on Indian highways requires more than just admirable driving skills. You will encounter partly constructed or non-existent roads, dodge villagers, chickens and goats trying to cross the highway (not their fault if the highway cuts right through the village!) and mistake a single beam of light for an oncoming bike(more likely to happen when there is no separation between traffic going in opposite directions) which in reality will be a speeding truck , probably carrying unsuspecting animals.

Enroute to Chennai
On the Chennai to Bangalore Highway

Related:

Frizztext’s A-Z Story Challenge: Letter R

An ordinary Quest!

“The real act of discovery lies not in finding new lands, but seeing with new eyes” – Marcel Proust

I recently came across this video where the speaker informs us that to be creative, we need to think like a traveller, since we tend to be hyper- aware of our environment while travelling.  So if we can keep our brains super active, as in travel-mode, and notice common and everyday things, we can capture fresh ideas to use in our lives and work.

But more than travelling, it’s blogging that helped me to look at the common and ordinary with new eyes, be more aware and curious of the happenings around me.  It made me feel like a hunter who tracks, pursues and captures, only in my case it was  ideas and knowledge.

Blogging is such an integral part of my life, that I’m now introduced to people as an avid blogger, just as I was recently at a women’s get-together.  But when the ladies heard my blog’s name, I had to quickly clarify that my blog actually has no aspects of home-making.

It then came to my mind that perhaps I should also put this disclaimer on my blog, so that it doesn’t confuse the readers who may expect to read about parenting or any other issues that concern a homemaker. Though to give myself some credit, I actually intended to share my life as an individual and a homemaker through this blog. But then I hit 2 roadblocks.

  1. My sons forbade me to write about them- especially what they said or did. (The only allowance I got was for the dengue dairies!!)
  2. Others like my mom didn’t want me to write about any member of the family –both immediate and extended, lest someone takes offence (as I seem to lack the artful skill of diplomacy!)

Left with no choice, I started rambling about things that had nothing to do with the blog title. Sometimes, I wondered if I should change it or even stop blogging, wondering if it made sense to post something just for sake of it. But I couldn’t stop – since what started out as a hobby soon became a passion. And added to it was the unexpected response from friends and family-   like the encouraging note I received a few days back from an old and special childhood friend whom I haven’t met in over 15 years.

So I continued writing and blogging soon became a quest – to find my voice, a niche for my blog; to learn about other cultures, experiences and especially about writing.

Since I’ve been reading about how important it is to have a niche , I hope that you, my readers, will bear with me as I venture on this quest (and continue with my ramblings) until I ‘m able find a niche . (Or maybe I never will :-)!)

Related :

FrizzText’s Story Challenge Letter Q

DP Challenge: Something Completely Different

The Daily Post has thrown a challenge to do something completely different this time. The writing challenges have actually already helped me to move out of my comfort zone several times. I wrote short fiction once, when I usually write non-fiction. I wrote poetry in my last challenge when i hardly even read it and I attempted to write on politics in a previous challenge. So, this time, I ‘m writing an open letter.

Dear Generation Z,

As a parent and teacher of generation Z , I constantly worried about your casual attitude towards education, the kind of values learnt and future college and career prospects. I specially worried when

  1. You whiled away your time on gadgets and websites that were so painstakingly created by  people of my generation (Gen X) for ‘useful’ purposes.
  2. You did  not bother to acquire knowledge the way we used to, hours poring over books,      as you believed all information was at the tip of the fingertips.
  3. You considered books and newspapers as antique ephemera.
  4. You answered ‘Nothing’ when asked what you did in school today.
  5. The only words you read were 140 characters long or the incoherent ones in instant      messages on itouch.

But yesterday, my gloomy prognostications were proved wrong. Yesterday, I had the honor of being on the jury panel in my son’s school to assess the students’ presentation as an indicator of academic progress.

I saw a bunch of lanky 6th graders trying to hide their nervousness under a cloak of insouciance.  As they presented their work in front of the jury, I realized that not only had they read books,but in fact several of them, with powerful, thought-provoking content. Books such as George’s secret key to the Universe, A Hundred Dresses and Samir Ek and Samir Do that dealt with issues of differences and discrimination . How certain children are ridiculed because they are different from the rest or conversely even though two children are very different, they can still be friends.

By integrating these readings along with other activities, each student then presented their big idea or take- home message, each one a unique, distinct, and powerful idea. Such as ‘The law of nature is order and regularity’, “Difference doesn’t matter in friendship”, ‘Unity in Diversity’, “It  is important to have harmony within us”.

Important and insightful messages.

In this era of globalization, when the world has apparently shrunk, yet differences seem much wider and are rarely tolerated, I think it’s wonderful that these students are already thinking about these issues and reflecting on them. Hopefully, they will incorporate these ideas into their own lives when they are ready to step into the world and make their own decisions.

I believe that education, apart from teaching you how to read, write and do math, should help you to think, reflect , believe in yourselves, be tolerant of other cultures and make right decisions . We can then look forward to a bright future where we can have more inspiring children like Malala ,who slowly bring about change one step at a time.

Keep up the good work!

A proud parent.

Email: Bane or Boon?

What could be a better way of starting one’s day than with a resounding clap or sometimes whisper of endorsement from one’s Inbox? Every morning, groggy from sleep, the first thing I remember is the post I put up on my blog the previous night and quickly reach for my laptop.

As soon as it turns on, ‘Google chat’ is activated. I’m then notified of the emails I’ve received including those ego-boosting ones from WordPress that tell me the number of likes and comments my blog has garnered.

My day has now officially begun!

I have ‘Google chat’ on all day long, so even as I ‘m writing this, I know immediately of any new incoming mail. Distracting? Yes! But I can’t bring myself to turn it off!

I don’t really achieve much through email. I’m a homemaker who lives close to most of my family and friends. Facebook suffices to keep in touch with those who live away.

So, I could technically do away with email. But how can I, when it has given me interesting anecdotes and material for this post.

1. Mistaken Identity

This morning, I found this message from Facebook in my Inbox.

“X posted on your timeline, “happy birthday!” ‘

So, what’s wrong in that you ask? Nothing, except that it wasn’t my Birthday!

One of the banes of having a common Indian first name is that I often get emails which are meant for someone else. Once I received an email from an acquaintance with details of his company’s business strategies. Luckily for him, neither I nor anyone close to me worked in that field!

2. Entertainment or annoyance?

I happened to meet a stand-up comedienne sometime back. Last week, she emailed me a you-tube clip of one of her performances and cced it to her entire contact list. By the end of the day, I had received video clips from several other aspiring stand-up comedians and emails from celebrity management companies!

3. Platform for Debate?

There was an interesting exchange of emails among the moms of my son’s class when we were asked to put up a skit on folktales for storytelling week in school. The following debate took place regarding the choice of folktales that were considered as ‘suitable’.

Mom 1: I have always wondered why so many folktales/fairy tales/mythology are so violent. It keeps me from sharing a lot of those stories with the kids, unfortunately.

Mom 2: I see what you mean! I grew up on a massive diet of Indian mythology/folktales and was so keen on bringing up my son on the same. But sadly he just never took to them. I wondered if it was the illustrations – which had many rash strokes, unlike the soft colours and beautiful images in the American books he saw/read.

Mom 3: …storytelling is a fascinating human practice. It is never just about the storyline, is it?….the messages and morals are contained somewhere between the lines and the dramatic imagery. What better way to introduce kids to common sense, social justice, right vs wrong, human values (truth, compassion, respectfulness…), and the staggering wealth of Indian Mythology and historical tales?

Mom 4: In the child’s development of moral radar, I would err on the side of doing a story that evokes a moral dilemma but stays away from the macabre and has much room for discussion. These tots of our have a burning desire to engage with such content.

A stimulating read, to say the least!

4. Real Significance

The one only time Email played a significant role in my life was when I moved abroad and missed my family terribly. Phone calls were prohibitively expensive and a once-a week luxury. It was when I looked forward to hear the assurance in my dad’s voice; the subtle anxiety in my mom’s or the excitement in my sister’s voice. Email couldn’t replace any of that but it gave me the instant gratification for chit-chat in my quiet and alien life and the whisper of validation that I would be just fine in a strange new land.

This post is in response to the weekly writing challenge: Mail it in!

Justice Denied!

Two years ago on September 13, 2010, Ishaan, son of international award winning filmmaker, Shonali Bose and NASA scientist –turned filmmaker, Bedabrata Pain, died of severe burns, caused by a defective Wahl’s Groomsman Beard and Mustache Trimmer. He was just 16, an 11th grade student at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, California, who excelled in Chess, Math and playing the piano. A young, bright life snuffed out brutally due to a faulty design.

I first met Ishaan, as a boy of 6, when Shonali and Bedo, friends of my husband, along with their 2 boys came to live with us for a few days on their trip to Boston 12 years ago. Of course, I do not have any memories of the child, but I can say that the worst nightmare for a parent is to outlive one’s children and even more so when they die a horrible death.

We bumped into Shonali last December in Rajasthan (we were staying at the same hotel). She had moved to Delhi with her mom to seek solace and recoup from the tragedy. Incidentally, when my husband was talking to her, she received the call from Anand Mahindra informing her that she was selected winner of the prestigious Sundance Academy Award, the only Indian to do so.

Shonali and Bedo filed a case against the Wahl Clipper Corporation for causing the death of their son. The trial started last month on August 28th. On the first day, the Company’s attorneys offered them a settlement of half a million dollars, which they refused and even tried to malign the boy’s character. Even though the fire department investigators confirmed that the only source of ignition in the bathroom where Ishaan was shaving was the shaver, in the end, the jury unanimously gave the verdict ‘not guilty’ due to lack of evidence.

Shonali and Bedo haven’t given up. They may have lost the case, but in Shonali’s words, the battle has just begun. This is her posting on her Facebook site:

“Today. Sep 13, is the 2nd anniversary of my first born Ishan’s passing from this earth. As his mother – I treat this day with utmost honor, as it signals the end of his amazing journey on earth. I do not mourn his loss on this day. Instead I am filled with peace, light and strength emanating from every corner of this vast universe – an energy that my son is now part of. He lifts me and holds me in his embrace and I feel beautiful inside and fortunate to have such a bond; to have such a son.”

Shonali has now decided to take on Wahl clipper by urging people worldwide to boycott their products.

A full feature can be found here:

http://www.bangaloremirror.com/article/81/2012090820120908234712044eb730fb/Trimmer-cuts-a-life.html