Friday, December 31, 2010

Gregorian Holiday

And a very merry new year to one and all.

Oh, I forgot.

The only audience I have are my little coterie of faeries and goblins, who don't celebrate new years day according to the Gregorian calendar!

So here's to a very merry new year to me!

May it be less like last year and more like 1984. (No reference to George Orwell's seminal work. 1984 is the year I was born. I bet I was loved and pampered and called beautiful and a blessing a million times a day. And everyone catered to every whim of mine. And everyone tried to make me smile when I cried! It's like a fantasy! I bet this would be what paradise is like!)

2010 was a wretched year.

I killed a man, robbed a few banks and went to jail, called off a wedding and broke a heart.

a. The above mentioned events have nothing to do with each other.

b. Only two of the above are true.

c. I'm proud to say that I believe I'm capable of all 4.

Having said that, I would like to say that I wish to be less of me and more of Mother Mary, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Archangel Gabriel, Archangel Raphael, Nigella Lawson, Adrianna Lima,  Audrey Hepburn, W.B. Yeats and Henri Cartier Bresson this year.

Cheers!

A haiku. Of sorts.

It is
As if
The sky has taken
Offense
To the firecrackers intruding
It's space
And is threatening to
Defeat it hands down
In a battle of brilliance
With its show of
Lightning

Food's on me

So technically, I've been on a diet for the past seven days. From freakin' 24th December onwards! Don't be impressed by my iron clad will power because I started a diet on Christmas Eve, the most gluttony inducing festival of the year. There is none! Christmas for us is no different from any other day. This is because we cherish life so much so, that every day is Christmas, New Years and Valentine's day all rolled into one for us. Life's just pink and awesome.

Ok. I'm kidding.

If you want to know the truth and promise not to label, Ill tell you why Christmas is no different from the 10th of March or the 4th of July. It's just that we are all too lazy to celebrate Christmas. At the outset, before you excommunicate me from Christianity, proselytize me into atheism, label my behaviour as utterly despicable and unforgivable or blame my upbringing and my forefathers' impudence, let me tell you that for the first 8 years of my life, there was Santa and for the next 10, there was Christmas with all it's trimmings. So to be fair, my forefathers did do everything right. It's just that post that, I've been conditioned to just let the holiday pass by me. And here's why.

Celebrating Christmas implies that I
  • Find the Christmas tree from the innards of the attic in my grandfather's house
  • Find the baubles that go with it
  • Throw away the broken baubles because they are so badly packed (By me, of course!)
  • Get screamed at because I am SO efficient at packing
  • Pay my own hard earned money (Ok. My father's hard earned money) and buy new baubles
  • Put up the tree and decorate it
  • Put up the nativity scene
  • Clean up my room
  • Dispose of all reptiles, amphibians and insects that reside in the alleyways of my cupboards and bookshelves. To make things worse (yes, it could get worse as you'll see in a moment!), I live on the 10th floor of an apartment building. I'm guessing it would be harder to chase them out from my apartment and all the way 10 floors down and then out of the block, than if I lived in a house. More importantly, where would they all go and how would they adjust to the harsh cruelties of the world, after having lived in the company of my Cashmeres and Silks, studying Shakespeare and Rumi all day. The spirit of Christmas present and future wouldn't allow me to partake in the aforesaid massacre. That's actually the reason I don't clean my room also. You do understand, right? (But God forbid, I try explaining the situation to my parents! Jeez!!!!)
  • Help Mommy cook the Christmas meals (I love my mother and everything but we get along like fire and water. And in the kitchen, this metaphorical example becomes literal as her biggest complaint is that I'm like a fire which she constantly needs to put off! Talk about a spirit that is antithetical to the Christmas spirit! Humph. So anyways, cooking with Mommy is ruled out for sure, which means, she would be less than pleased to cook alone. Which means, the kitchen fire will not burn on Christmas Day.)
And if these arguments are not convincing enough, there are these events that need to occur post Christmas.
  • Take off the tree
  • Pack up the tree
  • Pack up the baubles, new and old (Since packing is not my forte, this leads again, to several altercations which sometimes end up in screams and tears. I would like to specify here that only Mommy screams. I never scream. I am the most calm, composed and perfectly behaved person I know. And you better know it too!)
  • And to top it all off, end up sad that Christmas is over! Along with yet another year. And face the grueling fact that we're all getting older and none the wiser. (That's not my fear. I can't be any wiser. My brain might explode if I do. I'm just talking on behalf of Mommy again.)

So to make a long story short, it's pretty much just like any other day for us. 

Anyways, getting back to the point, I have been dieting for the past week, and yesterday, I decided to start Alla Svirinskaya's formidable 4 week detox (detailed in her beautiful and awe-inspiring book called Energy Secrets). Roughly, it means avoiding
  • meat (but obvious)
  • dairy
  • eggs
  • flour
  • sugar
and also drinking stuff like clay water, ginger - lemon juice etc, along with a whole load of meditations.

I have done it once before, and pretty exactingly, if I may add, so I thought that this time would be breezier. I am painfully aware that for someone who eats half a cake for a meal, followed by some veggies for dessert, giving up sugar and flour is not an easy task. Therefore, I imposed the diet on myself with a lot of determination the last time round, but I guess my assumption that it would be easier the second time caused me to commit a lot many more infractions already. And yes, dinner today was a piece of Citrus Glaze Cake.

So the story is that yesterday, I had gone out in the evening to buy gym clothes (Yes, I'm a very dedicated gymmer) when I saw that a new restaurant called Aladdin had opened up in my neighbourhood. My heart leapt! Could this be a Muslim restaurant?!!!!
(Don't judge me. 
I live by stereotypes. 
I'm a stereotype. 
And stereotypes are there for  a reason. 
To simplify.
I. Like. Simple. 
Period.) 

Now the reason I love Muslim restaurants is that I think they know their food more than anyone else, and this is especially true in Kerala. Undoubtedly, the best food in Kerala is cooked by them and everyone knows this fact. The tastiest and most popular restaurants are owned by them, the best wedding caterers are Muslims and so are the best cookery show hosts. And more importantly, they cook unabashedly with as much butter, ghee, fat and oil as their heart pleases.

And my heart sure gets pleased. (Like Shakespeare said, the heart has it's reasons of which reason knows nothing. Or something like that. But you get the drift.)

So I walked in with Mommy (who loves food as much as I do and eats even more) and my weary, woebegone eyes see a sight that quenched its thirst, much like a sip of water after days of the Sahara sun.

A scarf covered head.
In front of a table of food.
And more such women.
And men.
And kids.
And more scarves.
And tables full of food. 

And my heart leapt yet again, and this time, jumped straight out of my mouth and settled on an empty chair. (Ok. I'm kidding.)

But my heart did leap. 
And so did my diet. 
But the diet did jump out. 
It jumped out of window this time.

The funeral is tonight.
Same place, same time as the death of the diet. 
And the food's on me.

Best foot forward

I'd mentioned a couple of days ago that I had started working out again at the gym. It has a steam room and everything. (In Trivandrum, that's leaps and bounds ahead of the closest competitor, which I'm pretty sure is a modified garage.)

So I did 2 days of cardio and 1 day of weights and of course, as luck would have it, (I'm totally not being sarcastic here.) my knee gave up on me yet again and now I can't even walk properly, much less gym! Without exaggeration, walking entails me putting my right leg forward and dragging my left leg into position. What's funnier is that I can't keep my leg stick straight and neither can I fold it completely. So when I walk, my left knee has to remain considerably bent, which means that I'm not only limping and dragging my feet but also tilted to one side!

Now, I'm no stranger to people pointing and laughing at me. I'm princess of flops and falls, to put it lightly. But yesterday the point and laugh activity was at a whole new level. And I'm pleased to inform that everyone I met participated merrily.

Some people spread joy with their good will and largeheartedness. They are the ones who in their next life will be born as Nigella Lawson's grandchildren. I guess I'm the kind who spreads joy by allowing myself to be the butt of the joke. So logically, this implies more Karma points for me, right? All I ask for, is Nigella on one side and Jamie Oliver on the other as ancestors.

It's a pretty fair deal if you ask me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Diaz, here I come!

I've been going to the gym for the past couple of days and I'm in agony now, to say the least. To say that it hurts where I didn't know there where muscles or sinew would be an understatement. My forearms hurt! (I never knew that forearms could hurt after working out!)

I blame myself solely for this. It's a compulsive urge that I have that I need to do this every 6 months. And then stop. And then start again. And wake up to a fresh wave of pain! And persist and struggle and persist some more. And then stop!

This must be the 6th cycle; The 3rd this year, post my stint with dance (Baratnatyam to be precise) and then my month long yoga class in the hills. And now this. I cant believe it would still hurt so much!

All I have to say is that I better look like Cameron Diaz when I'm done. I better.

The best thing in the world

What's the best thing in the world?
June-rose, by May-dew impearled;
Sweet south-wind, that means no rain;
Truth, not cruel to a friend;
Pleasure, not in haste to end;
Beauty, not self-decked and curled
Till its pride is over-plain;
Love, when, so, you're loved again.
What's the best thing in the world?

Something out of it, I think.

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Clouds with silver linings

You must be doing something wrong if when you retire at the end of the day, you think that your quilt is the best thing in your life right now.

But you must be doing something right if you own such an awesome quilt in the first place.

Squint sitting pretty on MY quilt with MY book.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

These are a few of my favourite things

I have this new thing for cherry blossoms. They are so stunningly beautiful. Considering that my only interaction with cherry blossoms is through my Bath and Body Works Body Mist and through the countless pictures I keep looking at, I'm not sure how legitimate my adoration is or how long lived it will be. But in the meantime, I'm going to revel in them and indulge my love for them by looking at pictures of cherry blossoms and clothing myself with the Body Mist from top to toe!

And while I'm at it, I also what to share what Cannelle et Vanille has done with Cherry Blossoms! She got inspired by them and made macarons based on the theme.

Cannelle et Vannille's spread on macarons for Martha Stewart's Weddings
Cannelle et Vanille's Aran Goyoaga is a pastry chef and a self taught food stylist and photographer (incidentally, she uses a Canon 5D) whose beautiful blog is such a joy for the beholder. She writes simply and poignantly and her food styling is clean and crisp with a touch here and a tilt there.

I could spend hours on her site, just looking, gasping and learning. I wish there were more people like her in this world and I knew all of them!

Now, moving on to macarons. Not macaroons, but macarons (pronounced as in macaroni). Now macarons are these quaint little Parisian treats that the blog world and the real world has been going ga-ga over. If I had a penny for every time I have read about it on a blog, I could have started my own macaron shop by now. (Or moved to Japan and owned a cherry blossom plantation, for that matter! I could live in a little white cardboard house amidst the tree fairies and elves and I could party with the mad hatter and Alice! Sigh!). And here I am joining the bandwagon of bloggers!


Source: melangerbaking.com, colinwoon.blogspot.com, anh-minh.com, paulettemacaroons.com, ablefortwo.com.au,zencancook.com,notsohumblepie.blogspot.com

Anyhoo, macarons are these sweet treats made of egg whites, almond powder and granulated and powdered sugar (much like macaroons, except that macaroons are made of coconut powder, rather than almonds). The confectionery is characterized by a domed top, ruffled circumference known as the foot (you need to know this!), flat base and an eggshell like crust that (ideally) yields to a most, airy interior. And it is presented as a sandwich of buttercream or jam (or any filling for that matter,including ketchup) between the flat sides of the macarons.

While  Larousse Gastronomique (again, deserving of a whole blog) cites the macaron as being created in 791 in a convent near Cormery, some have traced its French debut back to the arrival of Catherine de' Medici's Italian pastry chefs whom she brought with her in 1533 upon marrying Henry II. However, the macaron as it is known today, called the "Gerbet" or the "Paris macaron", is the creation of Pierre Desfontaines of the French pâtisserie Ladurée, and is composed of two almond meringue discs filled with a layer of buttercream, jam, or ganache filling. Popularly, Ladurée is recognized as the inventors of the macaron as we know it today. Awesome story, ain't it?

Now, if you're wondering what my point here is, I would like to say that this is about my latest dream: To move to Japan, buy a cherry blossom farm, build a Japanese style house, bake macaroons and sit in the shade of my beloved trees and read Cannelle et Vanille all day.

Sounds about right!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Funny sorta people

Today, one of my best friends called me and asked me whether I was tired of not working and later whether I was tired of not being financially independent anymore. (FYI, I quit my job a year back and I've been traveling and chilling at home and then traveling again for the last 1 year.)

It made me realize how most (most, most) people need stability and constancy. And how they need a job. And it sacred me a little that I have been perfectly content with my situation for a year now. No, I don't miss working or earning. I missed learning and that's one reason I quit my job. Now I read all day - blogs, books, magazine, headlines scrolling across on television, toothpaste lables, billboards... pretty much whatever I can get my hands on. And I am so happy with that. And no, I don't feel like I'm wasting my life.

And in that spirit, I am quoting W.H.Davies.

Leisure

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

This is my thought for the day.

And yes, I would feel like I was wasting my life if I didn't have time to stop and stare. And that is another of the reasons I quit my job a year back. (There are plenty of reasons, but more on that later.)

Honestly, I really feel that misery loves company and those who work and are miserable doing it, would rather live in denial of the fact that they do have a choice to not participate in something you dislike. And to perpetrate their fallacy, they want to drag everyone else in! (It is equally possible that I am trying to validate my choice and proclaiming that everyone else got sour grapes.)

But how else can you explain parents forcing their kids to get married! I mean, look at them. Most of them are so obviously mismatched and miserable. And then they force you into the same institution that created the trouble in the first place.

A funny sorta people we are!

2 of 1

Today I realized the a majority of the couples I've seen of late resemble each other. Not, that the man is effeminate or the girl, masculine; it's something about the structure of their face. Or some such thing.

I have heard it being said that often when you spend considerable time with someone, your mannerisms, expressions, gait and behaviour start to impinge on each other's territory and end up as resembling each other, but this is not what I'm talking about. The couple I'm talking about, whose wedding I went for today, hardly know each other. And I could see, from 100 feet away, an uncanny resemblance between them. Their faces were of the same shape and their smiles were carbon copies.

They say that soul mates resemble each other. Could it be that in an impulsive moment, God changed his own rules and thundered, "I'm sick of the burgeoning divorce rates and all the bad publicity I'm receiving because of it! Henceforth, 90% of couples who fall in love will be soul mates of each other!"? Or could it be that we are de-evolving and are all start to look like each other! OK. Maybe not! Or maybe I'm just good at identifying resemblances between faces! How 'bout that, huh?

My giftedness aside, I just wonder what it means that Thom and I look as different as day and night! What does that mean, big man up there? Huh?!!!!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

His-story and Her-esy

To be honest, this is just yet another saga on love. You'd think the world would have had enough of them but in all fairness, a planet that hosts so many would have as many love stories, especially on accounting for each one's version (which more often than not, differs as night and day!). And then there is a pure third person perspective, such as this one. And as much as I claim to be a person who denounces love stories and states that they are all the same, there is something beguiling about the webs that are spun in the wake of love and this intriguing phenomenon that I observed is what led me to chronicle the following. 

Sasha Susan Jacob  is the third daughter of a family of three beautiful girls and she lives at my father's, where she is currently a house guest. She is big and blonde with luscious brown eyes and the swagger of a prized catwalk model.  Now Sasha is truly a prolific member of the community. She touches the life of everyone she meets and makes a difference in her own way. While she strives to spread values that she embodies, such as goodness and cheer, all year round, side effects of contact with her do include blubbering (maybe just in me), blabbering and slobbering (again, I've been told that it's just me!).

Judy and Max are old tenants of the house and while they stopped paying rent a while back, they make up by playing security guards immaculately and subsisting only on leftovers (as opposed to Sash, who needs 3 gourmet meals a day!!!)

Now the truth of the matter is that there is no story here if I go by its classical definition, that a story is to have a beginning, a middle and an end. But there are events, conversations, characters and twists and these are what I want to recount.

Judy wandered into my home a long while back, looking for shelter and a meal in return for her services as a nightwatchwoman. Now before you bunch your brows in displeasure or raise them in disbelief, let me reassure you that Judy is a lean, mean slaughter machine. She is slim and dark with ripping muscles and a scowl that can send anyone running. And boy, can she take care of her territory! We soon found out that she was tempestuous at best and cantankerous on an average. Only our house-help, Pappu is rumored to have seen her at her worst and he seems so scarred by the incident that he refuses to look her in the eye out of fear. 

At that time, Bruno was the Rhett Butler of the village, so to speak, and on acquainting with Judy, fell madly in love and decided that at his ripe old age, she, young and nubile, was his best shot at a settled life. And thus he too started living in my humble house in the company of his dusky damsel.

Soon, Max was born into the happy household and joy abounded as two became three. Max grew into a handsome young lad, perpetually ebullient and teeming with inquisitiveness - just the child that any parent would want. He was everyone's pet and everyone loved him to bits. Until a fated November day that is. A cold day, an unfeeling day was that Tuesday. Nondescript in any way but that. But to those who noticed, there was a certain quietude in the air, a lull that to the prescient, forebode ominousness. And that was the day their conformist and linear lifestyle deviated and took another path. And it was simply Max's Oedipal plots that did the unraveling. Nothing more, nothing less.

Now Bruno had his share of wild oats that he had sown in his heydays. But he loved his wife and son and the thought of his son being a competition for his wife's attention was implausible for him. And it became his undoing. It seemed as if he knew that he was no match against his dashing, spirited offspring for the affection of his still young beau. He retreated into a world of his making, where he was young and virile, just like his son now was, and his lady was by his side. And in his quest to keep his ego intact by extracting himself from the equation, it was an unsuspecting Judy that he pushed out of his life. And it was Judy who found him lying lifeless by the river. She had always blamed his flagging spirits on his aging bones and his death confirmed it!

Now Max couldn't have hoped for a better twist in the tale as his father's death. In a guise to soothe his disconsolate mother, he fed her some great meat and poured her some fine wine and proceeded to impregnate her. And this is how Pluto, alias Kuttappan came into being.

Now Kuttappan was always a wild child! Stark, raving mad was he! And he caused every kind of trouble in the book and became the bane of his parents' existence, while passersby watched and remarked, "Serves Max right, for having treated his father so!" And they were right in a way. What goes around does come around. At least, in this case, it did.

Everyone watched as he lived a life of ruin and one day, the inevitable was uttered. "Kuttappan needs to go away. To reform school!" The words resounded painfully but there was nothing to be done. And that was the last the house saw of Kuttappan.

It was around this time that Sasha came trotting, in her pretty little clothes with her pretty big hair. And she was the much needed distraction of frolic and frivolousness. Of course there was the initial animosity induced by a need to claim territory, but soon, all could see that while Sasha was a pretty as a picture, she was also as dumb as the next blonde, and conclusively, not a threat to any. And then they started to clamour for her attention. Max, seemingly having given up on love post the disaster of a son, that his previous tryst with romance had brought upon, wanted to be Sasha's BFF and only that. He followed her around and gave her his things but not once was there an indecent proposal. And Judy, as comical as the thought is, wanted to be Sasha and this spun itself into a classic tale of the ugly duckling trying to be the swan. Because as skilled as Judy is, her looks are not her forte. The comic relief provided by this, helped ease the trauma brought on by Kuttappan's departure.

This was not to be for long, because May brought along unrest in the form of Rocky, an army brat with a bark that was bigger than his bite. And it was love at first sight for our Judy. Having had sworn of men since her romp in the hay with her progeny and the heartache it had brought her, Judy felt a stir in her heart as she beheld the golden gorgeousness that was Rocky. She left no stone unturned to make her intentions clear. She paid homage to her neighbor by visiting him daily, often with gifts of her love: a handmade corsage, a cookie halved or a prettier pebble. And he predictably paid no heed. Judy was not a looker and Rocky had his sights set only on blue blood. In this little village by the river, Sasha was the closest to that, and it was Sasha that he coveted.

Poor little Sasha who is more timid than a mouse, is scared out of her wits of Rocky and tries sincerely to stay out of his way. It was while we were waiting for this saga to unfold that we realized that Sasha is actually truly, madly, deeply heels over head in love with Max. Max, in his bid to win Sasha's friendship, possibly displayed his best side to her and this is what ensued. Sasha is now desperately trying to woo Max, often in the presence of Judy, who appears as cool as a cucumber (Judy probably thinks that this little affair would get Sasha out of Rocky's way). And Max seems almost frightened of what would ensue if he gave in to Sasha's moves as he shies away timidly from her. But I'm convinced that he secretly enjoys the attention of this stunning flaxen haired lass because of the way he ensures the maintenance of comfort in the distance. It is also not unlikely that smart alec Max is trying to kill two birds with a stone and trying to make Judy jealous, though this clearly does not seem to be working. But I bet that's what the sly creature is thinking.

But then again, who knows what dogs think!

Updates will follow in real time.

Starring



Sasha!!!!









Max!!!!













And Judy!!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Forever and a day

Feels like it's been forever and a day since I last posted. It's a combination of inaccessibility to the net and an unsettled mind that has caused the hiatus. I have traveled quite a bit in the past month and a half and in that sense, there is so much to write about. But I never intended to chronicle my life here so maybe I can resume writing without an account, an explanation or even a passing mention of the time passed unless I feel the urge to essay it out. Right now, maybe I'm overwhelmed. And to write about it would be to break it down, to rationalize it and to add colour where it is grey and vice versa; It would involve stepping out of the nebulousness of the afterglow that I want to continue basking in. And that's all there is to it.

But as for now, look at these mindbogglingly fantabulous Louis Vuitton shoes! 


They are from the Winter 2010 collection and are made of ostrich leather (regrettably, I might add, because as much as I love these, the images of the skinned ostrich, dead or otherwise are weighing heavily on my conscience).



These are made of calf leather and I love them almost as much. They are so sophisticated and pretty and I can totally picture Audrey Hepburn wearing them. And I heart anything that I hypothetize that Hepburn would wear.



And these , made of baby goat leather, are from the summer 2011 collection. Hawt, Hawt, Hawt!!!!






And these Jimmy Choos are lace, snake print patent shoes with a glimmer of fishnet stocking and are pretty enough to launch a thousand ships! Sigh!

Now it's dawning on me that as much as I love all these shoes, I can't stop thinking about the poor baby animals. I guess ignorance is truly bliss. Or at least, denial is. I was totally convinced by these shoes until I read the innocuous captions indicating their source. Ostrich, calf and lamb.

If you ask me now if I'd rather own a pair of any of the above or ensure the life of a baby goat, I would hands down choose the latter. I would choose to let the creature live. So would most of us, I presume. But to be proactive and vociferous about cruelty against animals and an utter denouncement of products that involve their ill-treatment or slaughter is another ball game, and one that requires sincerity and discipline, which I'm not sure I have. (It also involves not swearing at animals when they attack or pseudo attack you! Last week, when I was gaping at the architectural marvel of a 15th century temple in Hampi, a calf totally butted me playfully. As harmless as the intention was and as unharmed as I was, the event unnerved me for quite a while and there is not a cuss word that I haven't used on the poor beast!)

Now for those of you who want to see a movie that might flip around your life, (or at least your day), watch 'Earthlings'. It is a documentary narrated by Joaquin Phoenix about us earthlings and the various ways we show differential and preferential treatment.

Anyways, this post has truly been confused. I feel like I'm unable to focus after a month of wandering. But watch the movie and don't buy leather shoes however good they look is probably what I'm trying to say. Adios.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kiss's Beth

Beth, I hear you callin'
But I can't come home right now
Me and the boys are playin'
And we just can't find the sound
Just a few more hours
And I'll be right home to you
I think I hear them callin'
Oh, Beth what can I do
Beth what can I do

You say you feel so empty
That our house just ain't a home
And I'm always somewhere else
And you're always there alone

Just a few more hours
And I'll be right home to you
I think I hear them callin'
Oh, Beth what can I do
Beth what can I do

Beth, I know you're lonely
And I hope you'll be alright
'Cause me and the boys will be playin'
All night

'Beth' was penned by Kiss's drummer, Peter Criss, along with Stan Penridge, while both were still a members of Chelsea, a NY based band that disbanded after their first album. The song was initially written apparently as an insult to Rebecca, the wife of guitarist Mike Brand and, according to Criss, a notorious hypochondriac, who would frequently interrupt recording sessions and rehearsals. Apparently, Criss also commented that the song also reflects Criss's wife Lydia's lamentations while Criss was on tour but this is unconfirmed.

Several years later, when Destroyer producer Bob Ezrin was presented with the song, he re-wrote the lyrics and suggested the piano and orchestra. Gone was the caustic (and reportedly profane) diatribe against an annoying woman. What it became was a sweet ballad about missing a loved one while on the road; telling her that even though you're not there and have a job to do, you're still thinking about her. However, it was Gene Simmons who suggested a change in title to "Beth", presumably to be more recognizable as a female name. There is another version of this story, that Simmons was concerned about fans believing it was about English rock guitarist Jeff Beck or, worse yet, misconstrued as a gay love song about the guitarist.

Beth was originally released on their 1976 album, Destroyer and although being a ballad, not typical of their sound, it is their highest-charting single, reaching #7 on Billboard's American charts. It is one of only two gold selling singles for the band (the other being 1979's "I Was Made for Lovin' You"), and their first of two Top Ten singles (along with 1990's "Forever", #8).

The lyrics are tender and kind and the tune complements it perfectly. It is so easy to listen to it and be lost in it. As if it's a tune that's in our blood that's been forgotten in time. Its a song to which I could smile my brightest, let the tears flow in abandon or just be my calmest. Like a broken record. Playing over and over and over again. It's a song to which I could be still in time.

Teary beautiful, this.

Publish Post

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Food for thought!

With the tag line as 'We concept, co you don't have to.', Steal Our Ideas' is a laugh a minute. Started by 2 admen, it clearly knows the punch and goes right for it. I just had to spread the word. So here's to the spirit of reblogging.


Perhaps

Perhaps not to be is to be without your being,
without your going, that cuts noon light
like a blue flower, without your passing
later through fog and stones,
without the torch you lift in your hand
that others may not see as golden,
that perhaps no one believed blossomed
the glowing origin of the rose,
without, in the end, your being, your coming
suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life,
blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze:
and it follows that I am, because you are:
it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we:
and, because of love, you will, I will,
We will, come to be.

- Pablo Neruda


Maybe this is the point I'm trying to make....

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ode to a dog

All the care in the world can disappear for a moment if you can play with a dog. Its cheeriness is contagious. It's a tried and tested fact. I have gotten through death, despair, agony, failure and heartbreak with the help of my dog.

She was my pillow; I could hold her with my cheek pressed against her soft fur as long as I needed.

She was my counselor; patient while I told her every little grievance I had with the world and its neighbours, staring at me comfortingly with soulful brown eyes. As if she knew and understood everything I was going through. As if saying, "I understand. Mmm Hmm... So how does that make you feel?"

She was my playmate, always ready to entertain my spurts of nervous energy with a game of catch.

She was my toy; always ready to take a joke even if it was on her. I named her Nicole Kiddog in jest and she never once complained even when the world laughed at us. 

She was my best friend. Always welcoming, even when I returned home after forever with nothing to offer but a smile and a handshake.

She was my parent. Forgiving of my inequities and loving unconditionally. And always always ready to give what she had.

I miss her more than words can say.

This poem is by Pablo Neruda.

For Nikki.

A dog has died

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.
Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.

So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.


Translated, from the Spanish, by Alfred Yankauer

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Perspective

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." 

- Viktor Frankl

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Me against the world

I found this picture at the etsy shop of http://iseelifethroughalens.blogspot.com/

Factoid 1: My greatest quest in life is to find my purpose; my calling; my destiny.

Factoid 2: I have been actively and passively engaging in this on a conscious and sub-conscious level in all the ways that I know of, all my life.

Factoid  3: Once in a while (actually, a lot of times in a while), I become absolutely convinced that I have found my calling and that the quest, though long overdue, is finally over.  This event is not a pretentious or a half hearted resignation to fate. It is a sincere and honest belief that I have discovered the blueprint for my life. My destiny.

Factoid 4: When this happens, the following events unfailingly result every time.
  • Scene 1. The place I'm at at that moment. 
    • At the moment of revelation, I tell whomever is around me that I have finally found my calling,  and after the spontaneous response of uncontrollable, rolling on the floor clutching the stomach laughter, they inadvertently conclude that either I'm trying to pull a fast one on them or that I'm being sarcastic about myself, both of which they inform me happen at an alarmingly high frequency. I console myself that though my credibility has taken a severe beating, I have found my calling(!!!!) and there is no power stronger and no glory greater.
  • Scene 2. In conversation with my father. 
    • Again, there is spontaneous laughter followed by a solemn oath of support from him. Father: 'If this is what you truly believe you want to do, I will support you with whatever you do. But if you start on this, you must persevere till the end. You know that Rome was not built in day and neither will you be. If you want to be a tailor, you can be, and I will support you. But then you must be the best tailor you can be. A job not done is better than a job half done. You must be clear of that!.'
    • Me: By this time, I start shaking in my skirt because, to be honest, I start wondering what the nitty gritties of my calling would actually be and I wonder of I could or even want to go through the process. 
    • Father: When he realizes that I'm floundering yet again, thats's when he loses it and gives me a disco version of how I'm 'wasting my talent and my intelligence and my oppurtunities and that it really hurts him to see my squander my life away.'
    • Me: This is when I'm trying to build a failing argument on how this is indeed a workable plan. But honestly, my mind is like this '#$%^%#^&%*'. (I'm not cursing. It's actually random symbols that float through aimlessly.)
    • One of us bang down the phone, mercifully ending a bewildering conversation. 
  • Scene 3. Lying on my back staring into space in a reverie of how awesome my life would be as an identifier and follower of my destiny.
    • In my dream, I'm hobnobbing with the rich and famous or planting an organic garden that stretches to eternity or being mobbed by grateful children and parents whose life I have touched or giving an acceptance speech after winning The Pulitzer or happily creating ceramic at a kiln or painting murals or cooking up a storm in a state of the art kitchen... you get my drift. Life has regained it's colour and I am happy once again.
  • Scene 4:  On the phone with Thom.
    • I tell him I finally found my purpose and have a brilliant plan on how to make it work. He patiently says 'Good Liz... tell me what it is.' (I know that he is groaning inwardly at this point but never mind.) 
    • I tell him my plan, having gained back lost confidence and gushing at the prospect of a self actualized life. He says, (and he always says the same thing. With alarming consistency. But steadfastness is him.) 'You should find out more about it. Of course you can do it. You can do anything you want if you set your mind to it. But I still think that writing is what you do best. Think about it. Take your time and figure it out. It's fine. You know who else started out late in their life? Buddha and Jesus Christ. You are going to be fine. And I will support you any way I can.'
    • And I do an encore of my response. 'But I don't enjoy writing! And I suck at it. I think I would make a fantastic waitress though!' (Or gardener or potter or IAS Officer depending on the calling in conversation.) 
    • Unconvinced, Thom always replies 'We'll see!' So much for that. 
Dejected by everyone's lack of enthusiasm and absence of vision in seeing that this indeed is my destiny, I decide to call my indefatigable mom, whose greatest regret in life is that she became a doctor when all she wanted was to be a beautician or even just a housewife with a little house, an Ambassador car and goats to get milk from. Now she would get me, even if no one else did.
  •  Scene 5: On the phone with my mother.
    • Me: 'Mother, I think I know what I want to do. I want to open a little cafe that sells everything that ends with 'cake': Cupcakes, Pancakes, Mousse Cakes and of course, Cakes!
    • Mother: 'Ha! Every day I call you, you have a new plan. And they are all so whimsical. One day you want to be a yoga teacher and the next day, a healer. And now its baker? I think you should stop your nomadic existence and come live with me. I love you so much. When you were small, you used to do everything I wanted and I used to make you do so much stuff. Waaa! Now you don't listen to me. Waaa! Even your grandfather misses you and your brother misses the cakes you bake. (But of course I can't be a baker!) Come home and do M. Sc. Psychology and M. A. English through distance education. You used to be such a good student even though you never studied. You can get so many degrees with no effort. But look at you. Waaa! You have only one post graduate degree. And your job? It paid nothing! Waaa! And where are you in life now anyways! Stop working and come sit at home now! Enough is enough. Waaa! (And I'm not exaggerating. This diatribe is delivered in one breath. Without a pause. In this particular order. And the 'Waaa!' is her whining. I couldn't think of a better way to put it.)
    • Me: Speechless. 
  • Scene 6. Lying on a bed on my stomach, trying to bury my face into the pillow. 
    •  I'm so confused at this point that my head is about to explode. 
    • Could I have been wrong? Was my brilliant idea just an exercise in my creativity where I'm unwittingly thinking laterally and arriving at out of the box solutions to problems? 
    • Do I subconsciously know that these are just fancy plans to punctuate my otherwise mundane days and humdrum life with much needed colour? 
    • Am I setting myself up for failure? 
    • Am I sabotaging my own chance of worldly successes and gains? 
    • In my bid to remain n my comfort zone, am I pretending to want an unbeaten path, so that when I end up back on the beaten path or off the path and on my couch, I can console myself saying 'I did try!'? 
    • My mind races, my heart beat quickens and my foreheads get clammy. At this point, I get my version of an anxiety attack. It's not as fashionable as the actual anxiety attack but it's fun nevertheless, in retrospect. (Claustrophobia and Anxiety attacks according to me, are the most fashionable of diseases. Apparently, everyone suffers from them! Everyone who is swanky and in vogue at least. Kleptomania should really be the most stylish disease. At least it literally lets you be stylish with all the clothes you could steal. I had an ex room mate who was a kleptomaniac and she was impeccably chic. She knew just what to steal. The disease and her personality were very complementary!)
But I meander.

Two minutes post the huffing and doing jazz hands in front of my face, I am back to the equanimity. Or at least my version of equanimity. And I neatly compartmentalize my 'brilliant idea' into the chest of vocations to be pursued sometime in my life. The Lord said, 'Taste and See.' I'm just doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

And like Thom says, it's better to try and fail than to do nothing or trod the same road. And I'm secretly hoping that my purpose in life is not 'to find the purpose of my life', in which case, this could go on till the cows come home.

Factoid 5: Getting back to the thing that started it all, the fortune cookies that say 'Look for the dreams that keep coming back. It is your destiny.', here is my list of dreams that keep coming back. Maybe I need to choose my destiny, rather than it finding me.

1. Photographer (The most persistent dream and my biggest dream of all)

2. Potter / Artist (The new addition to my list. And honestly, my hands are itching)

3. Travel Show Host (I love travel, I love food. One way I can do this for free is is by being a travel show host. The clothes and styling are just perks.)

4. Documentary film maker (That's what I studied to be for my PG.)

5. Psychologist / Counselor / Social Worker (That's what I studied to be for my UG.)

6. Journalist (Says Thom. But take a look at my blog. Succintness is not my saving grace. Hyperbolic rants are more like it. Maybe I could be a columnist.)

7. Baker / Chef / Restaurant Owner (Food, glorious food!)

8. Food Critic (Free food, glorious free food. Plus I get to be a lean mean killing machine!)

9. Soap / Organic Beauty Products Manufacturer (I can save the world one pretty face at a time.)

10. Product Designer (So many awesome things there are floating around in my brain that will die unfulfilled deaths if I don't bring them to life and allow them to serve out their destiny. Like me!)

11. Alternative Healer (This is one area I love learning about and I love engaging in. Alternative therapies. Parapsychology. Metaphysics. Plus I want to save the world. Two become One.)

12. IAS / IFS Officer (This is my mother's and father's dream, rather than mine. They think I'm a brilliant failure, to put it kindly.This is their solution for redemption.)

13. Organic Farmer (I am hereditrarily a  farmer. All my ancestors were landlords and farmers. I love food. I want to save the world. Three become one.)

14. Handmade Paper Manufacturer (I heart handmade paper. They have so much personality and are so real. I have such a huge collection that if I actually wanrt to start a shop, I wont even need to manufacture them.)

15. Bookshop Owner (Books are the closest to my heart after my family and travel. I could spend eternity curled up with a good book and not feel wasted. That's actually why I dont feel wasted now, even though everyone around me deems me to be. Books are my world.)

16. Traveler / Nomad / Wanderlust Satiator(I admit that this is not well thought through. No, I dont know who will pay for me. No, I wont be working. Yes, I will get tanned and sunburnt. Maybe I'll just sell some land of my landlord farmer ancestors to travel.)

17. Owner of Paris (Actually this is my biggest and most persistent dream and Not to be a photographer.)

Never mind everything I said. 'Owner of Paris' is the way to go. At least it is, if I believe in the above mentioned quote. And I do. So there.

Silence of the butterflies

I think butterflies are ominous looking minions of the devil himself. If their wings were faces, they would be grotesque - with hooded eyes and a gnarly mouth. Which other insect has such potential to elicit fear? And its no coincidence that Rorschach ink blots all look like butterflies. Even symbolically, its butterflies that are our demons.

And for a little trivia, read about the symbology of the insect as depicted in 'Silence of the lambs.'

Case closed.


On True Love

In unminced words and reserving all flattery while giving credit where it's due, Kumarakom is just a becoming tourist destination in the back of beyond in Kerala. It is one of those places that look like every other place in the state, but fate turned on its head one day and decided that it was Kumarakom's time to dazzle. Lo and behold, she became one of the most popular destinations for wandering hippies, meandering westerners, green starved metro folks and haute Malayalis who have to join every bandwagon there is.

Don't get me wrong. The place is absolutely gorgeous. Stunning, even on a bad day of any sort. But so is the rest of the state. Kumarakom is just a blade of grass in the meadow that is Kerala.

I could wax eloquent on Kerala and my love for it. Verdant, it most surely is. But in Kerala, the green is a different shade as the rest of the country. One that is deeper, richer and more burnished. One that is immaculate and incorruptible. One that epitomizes the land's lusciousness and fecundity.

And the sky remains blue the way God intended for it to be. In tones of cerulean and sapphire. Azure and cornflour. Without a trace of the smog and smoke that seems to have cast its signature on a large part of the world.

When the monsoon arrives in all its glory, the land becomes purer, as if cleansed. And the rains allow the maintenance of this purity with its cycles. While it rains for most part of the year, it is almost as if it pauses intermittently to allow the earth to breathe again. And when the turgidity ebbs, it resumes its downpour and builds it back to fullness.

To find a 'pretty as a picture' spot in Kerala is the easiest task. Kumarakom is one of them but it certainly is not a rarity. It is just a part of the ubiquitous beauty of the state.

This September, it was my fourth trip to the village. And as expected, precious little has changed. Of course, you cannot ignore the proliferation of hotels and resorts on the shoreline, but they too seem to have paid homage to the identity of the place and have used colours, materials and artifacts in their construction to not only blend in completely, but also reinforce her essence. Even the houseboats seem to have taken a cue from this and have stayed away from any amount of garishness. They are all wooden, with roofs made of dried coconut leaves. In fact, the only thing that sticks out like a sore thumb here is the sound of these motor boats. But magically, almost as if the peace and quietude of the landscape imposes itself and overpowers all the senses to dull out discordant elements, the sounds fade away completely from consciousness.

Aboard the houseboat that my father had generously hired for the day for 3 people, my mother, the seafood aficionado and the person who is genetically responsible for my gluttony, which I prefer to call 'love for the good living', bought 6 whole pomfrets, got them fried, and proceeded to eat all of them over a period of 4 hours. And these pomfrets are big! My father was almost vengefully polishing off beer after beer, and at the end of 4 hours, he and my mother were, needless to say, in very high spirits.

My gaze remained afix through the camera lens at the panorama. The motion of the boat and the languid sight that I beheld was lulling and almost meditative and possibly rendered my brain activity to produce the delta waves intended otherwise for dreamless sleep, a stage more relaxed than deep meditation.

To sum up Kumarakom in a nutshell, I would have to use 2 descriptors. An experience in consciouness and mindfulness, and a journey to gastronomic decadence. It definitely is a slice of the best of the state has to offer. But failing to forget that it is but a slice, and a small one at that, might be the biggest hazard.

Below are some of the pictures I took on my trip this time round. It's funny. This post was intended to comprise of 2 lines and 3 pictures. But I have noticed that anytime I talk about Kerala, my eyes glaze over, a silly smile plays on my lips, my heart beat speeds up a bit and I start paying due homage. This must be what true love feels like.



Friday, October 29, 2010

Challenge Accepted

A month back, in response to me boasting about my dexterity in the kitchen, Thom challenged me to prove my mettle once and for all with a simple Mallu full course meal. Easy peasy right? Well, it actually was. And my love for cooking is reinforced every time I cook now. Good Food=Positive Reinforcement=Heightened Interest in Cooking. I guess this is after all Thom's sly ploy to get me to cook full course meals for him! But then again, who's complaining.

Today I treated my grandfather to brown rice, a beans side, a pumpkin, yam and raw banana curry with tempered coconut, veggies sauteed with coconut and curd, stir fried yams, chicken roast, banana chips and a chopped mango pickle. Ha Ha! Doesn't it sound awesomely exotic? Well its not. To God's Own Countrymen, this would translate to rice, beans thoran, erisseri, avial, chena mezhukkupurati, kozhi roast, ethakka varuthathu and kaduku manga.

Everyday fare. Easy peasy. But the beauty remains that the taste does not detract however many times you eat it. That I guess is the principle and pleasure of honestly good food. And I revelled in it in heaps today.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Porcelain Porlacein!

 













 Kristen Wicklund is undeniably a compelling argument for anybody wanting to undertake pottery as a vocation (such as moi!). To have the power to bestow blessings such as these to the world is the greatest privilege! Ok. Maybe I dramatize unreasonably, but her work is so beautiful and so inspiring that its hard to stop.

The pieces are crocheted cotton lace dipped in liquid porcelain and fired in a mold, which burns the fiber out completely and leaves a hollow porcelain shell of lace. The creativity of people and the ingenuity of their devices fascinate me.

Lace and porcelain. Doesn't it sound quaint, exquisite and whimsical. As if it would form part of a story that started 'Once upon a time...' with everyone living 'happily ever after' in the end. Sigh!

And this is not all she does. She makes the same thing with plastic bags! Talk about triple whammy! You couldn't say no to this girl if you tried!
This is lace (measuring 5 feet across and growing) which is made from strips of plastic shopping bags.

Que Sera Sera

It was the worst journey of my life, that bus ride from McLeod Ganj to Manali. I was sitting on the second last seat and I could swear on myself that the driver didn't miss a single pothole or fail to swerve the furthest at every curve. Sudden brakes and horns were rampant and punctuated by screams from his mates to others on the road. I reached Manali and hopped on to a share cab to go to a hotel (A random hotel. I couldn't care less about where I rested my head at that point as long as I knew I could) and this is where yet another career loomed in my horizon.

The possibility of pottery started as inadvertently as that. The British sounding, expensive luggage touting co-passengers in my cab were halting at Manali before proceeding to Keylong. And they were on their way from Andretta.

Curious sounding name, that. And it instantly piqued my interest. You see, I am someone who is continually on a quest to find my calling. Any mention of an intriguing name, place, animal or thing and my spontaneous reaction is to wonder whether it is the work of God's minions, directing me towards self actualization. And that glimmer of hope is indeed a joyous feeling in my barren field called life! (Ok my life is not a barren field. It has too much drama in it, if at all. But my career field, kids could play cricket on!!!)

I was told that Andretta is a little hidden treasure trove of a potters village, where the esteemed Mansimran Singh teaches pottery. Apparently Pondicherry and its likes are pop for serious potters and that the big daddy of the pottery scene in India is Andretta. Here I was trying to sound all knowing on the subject of pottery and ceramics while actually wondering whether Andretta was the name of a place, person or a pottery school!

The ride ended and we all went our separate ways and moved on to greener pastures(actually in the case of Manali, it would have to be greener 'grass'!) but the idea of Andretta has stayed with me, and here I am, three and a half years hence, writing about it.

Andretta is a small village in the Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh, that was home to an Irish writer and dramatist named Norah Richards. Her husband had been a Professor at The Government Collage at Lahore. After her husband’s death there, and a short stay in England, Norah returned to India in the mid-30’s. She settled in Andretta where she built a beautiful English style cottage, constructed of mud, slate and bamboo. There she taught drama to students from the Punjab. She frequently hosted famous theater personalities and artists in Andretta and many built mud huts and made a home there. Norah also invited Sardar Gurcharan Singh, the master potter from Delhi, who was responsible for introducing studio art pottery in India. He built a house and a small pottery center for summer use in Andretta.
 
During the time of Norah, there were vibrant discussions about art, drama and the philosophy of living in a rural environment. Her ideas were very sound on how one should live in the countryside, using local materials for building houses, how you should live in harmony with nature and encourage local people to do the same.

After Norah’s death in 1971 there was a lapse in cultural activities, but now Andretta is having something of a renaissance. BC Sanyal’s daughter Amba has started a new venture “Norah’s Centre for the Arts”. Sadar Gurcharan Singh’s little summer pottery has evolved into the thriving Andretta Pottery and Craft Society started by the Sardar’s son Mansimran Singh. And that is how Andretta came to be.

The idea of staying in an idyllic place like the Kangra Valley and learning art from the greats undoubtedly fascinated me and has since never left me. Now that I am in a cross road in my life (Knowing myself, I am sure there will be many more), and I have the liberty of choosing what I want to do and start afresh yet again, I am wondering whether pottery might be the thing for me.

While I am not the world's best artist, I think I at least have a creativity bone hiding somewhere inside, and right now its completely insatiated and is spurring me to go on this wild adventure. It seems like something I would enjoy. I love colour and texture and I love playing with the balance of these and if I do end up dabbling in it, this is what I want to experiment with. Pottery might set up the perfect ground to play with that. It's such a raw art. This fact attracts me immensely. It forges such an intense connection between you and the elements of earth, water and fire. Meditation at its best I would imagine. I think it just might be the creative outlet I need.  I could live in the wild amidst leaves and eaves, with dogs and dragonflies and play with mud and water all day long, casting mother earth into curious little shapes.

Oh! What a life it would be!

The Tragedy of Errors

Isn't it tragic that after a break up, the only person who has the proficiency to mend your broken heart is the one who broke it in the first place, but he /she no longer has the right or the liability to do so.

What is one to do then but sit and watch fireflies in the night?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

it's in lowercase in my heart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart) 



- e.e.cummings 
 
this poem is for my baby brother. i wish i could tell him this but he would laugh on my face if i did. stupid adolescents!

anyways, e.e.cummings is my all-time favourite author. (yes, i couldn't stop gushing about mary oliver yesterday but cummings never left my soul! and yes, the article in lowercase is a tribute to his writing style. i wonder why it never caught on! makes so much more sense than typing in caps for the first letter and then in small letters. not to mention the 'I's in caps. who invented capital and small letters anyways. its such a purposeless concept.)

verses of his suffice to lift my heart to gladness even from my deepest blues. momentary though this comfort may be, to an  forlorn spirit, the worth of a warranted tool to soothe the soul is immense.

his poetry has a quiet, non intrusive, calming element to it. much like a grandmother's warm hug. like a mug of warm peppermint tea on a cool afternoon. like the lap of gentle waves on your bare feet.

it's unconditional. undemanding. and yet wholly yielding. its there for you for whatever you need. to lift you up, to make you joyful, to sew you up and make you whole again.

and because my grandmother and my brother are not there for a hug anymore, all i have is cummings and my warm mug of peppermint tea. and you know what. sometimes that's enough. 

To be mindful of wonder

Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?
 

Wonder and delight couldn't be expressed more simply than Mary Oliver did, in this poem of hers titled 'Mindful'. Succinctly, she expresses her amazement at the beauty of the world and she succeeds in creating a reflection of this feeling in the reader's heart. Isn't this the meaning and purpose of poetry? A transference of emotion in all directions of time and space.

Oliver is an American poetess born in 1935 in Ohio. She began writing poetry at the age of 14, and by 28, she was a published author of her first collection.  Her fifth collection of poetry, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984. Having served as 'Poet In Residence' at Bucknell University (1986) and the 'Margaret Banister Writer in Residence' at Sweet Briar College (1991), she moved to Vermont, where she held the 'Catharine Osgood Foster Chair' for Distinguished Teaching until 2001. She has continued her celebration of nature, with published collections as recent as 2009.

Oliver's creativity is influenced and inspired by the natural world. She engages in long walks near hear home and frequently writes about her encounters and the emotions stirred in her while on these walks. In a rare interview, she said, “When things are going well, you know, the walk does not get rapid or get anywhere: I finally just stop, and write. That’s a successful walk!” 

Referring to the simplicity of her style and themes, the Harvard Review wrote of her work as an antidote to "inattention and the baroque conventions of our social and professional lives. She is a poet of wisdom and generosity whose vision allows us to look intimately at a world not of our making." 

She is often compared to Thoreau and Whitman for her affinity to observations of nature and its processes and to Emily Dickinson, for her interior monologues. Jeanette McNew in 'Contemporary Literature' described “Oliver’s visionary goal,” as “constructing a subjectivity that does not depend on separation from a world of objects. Instead, she respectfully confers subjecthood on nature, thereby modeling a kind of identity that does not depend on opposition for definition. At its most intense, her poetry aims to peer beneath the constructions of culture and reason that burden us with an alienated consciousness to celebrate the primitive, mystical visions that reveal ‘a mossy darkness – / a dream that would never breathe air / and was hinged to your wildest joy / like a shadow.’”

Oliver and Molly Malone Cook, her literary agent and partner of forty years, made their home together until Cook's death in 2005. Staunchly valuing her personal life, she gives few interviews, proclaiming that her writing speaks for itself. She currently lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.



This is her picture from way back. Doesn't she look like some one you would've liked to talk endlessly about sunsets and butterflies in another world, in another time...



Now that we have a picture portrait of how wonderful she is, I want to add more colour and post more of what she has written. Her words are so poignant, I could never stop reading them or being over awed in their presence. She instills wonder and delight in me. And I could get addicted to the feeling. 

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
call to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

The Swan
 

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music - like the rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?


Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives --
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
continually?
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left --
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened

in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
     but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn't ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean's edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.



When death comes


When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

When death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.


When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.


In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

I just cant seem to stop! Here are some immortal verses from her poetry and other quotes. This is only because I am painfully aware that if I post the whole poems like I've been doing so far, this post will run to pages. And my 2 tremendously valuable readers, 'Arsenios' and 'The Sartorial Diary' might disappear forever.

"Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields...Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness." 

"Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed." 

"Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Talk about it." 

"You want to cry aloud for your mistakes. But to tell the truth the world
doesn't need any more of that sound."  

"For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry." 

"I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed."  

"...there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save." 

"Ten times a day something happens to me like this - some strengthening throb of amazement - some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness." 

"Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?" 

"I stood willingly and gladly in the characters of everything - other people, trees, clouds. And this is what I learned, that the world's otherness is antidote to confusion - that standing within this otherness - the beauty and the mystery of the world, out in the fields or deep inside books - can re-dignify the worst-stung heart."  

"Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled---to cast aside the weight of facts and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world. " 

And if you have reached thus far, I applaud you. And I end with this, not out of a dearth of her poignance but because a taste is sometimes all it takes before you pause and take a sip. So this is the pause. 

"Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine, then keep on going."