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." 

Friday, October 22, 2010

I, the Chumbakian

Aren't these a tickle!

Chumbak is a collaboration of the brains and brawns of Shubhra, Aliie (yes, that's how it's spelt!) and Darth Vader (Apparently it really is him. In the flesh.) And as the name suggests, they started out to produce fridge magnets after Shubhra rightly realized that fun fridge magnets are not born in India. Thus started her quest and years later, she ended up founding her own company and naming it after its raison d'etre: Chumbak (meaning magnet).



I think Shubhra is pretty awesome. She had a dream, followed it and is persisting on it. I want to be that. Follower of a dream. That could be my epitaph. Or something a little more well written but you get my drift right?

Maybe it works because she had only one dream and a big dream at that. I have too many dreams so I don't know which one to follow. So you cant really blame me right? Right!





Anyways, Chumbak sells mugs, posters, tins, notebooks, coasters, keychains, postcards and a lot of other funky stuff that anyone would love to own.

I bought my dad their 'My perfect father' mug that describes his big heart and even bigger arms to perfection and he reciprocated by buying me an Aigner watch! These mugs are so awesome, they bring out they best in everyone!




I'm waiting with bated breath for them to come out with the whole set for the entire family. There are many more things that I covet. A laptop, a car, an iphone, a Chumbak 'My perfect daughter / sister / granddaughter / niece' mug....

Check out their web page. I'm sure you'll leave happier than you entered. You might be poorer of course but there's no price for happiness now, is there?

Lots of chocolate for me to eat

If you were to ask me to pick between chocolates, cakes, ice creams and cookies, I would, without hesitation choose cakes. In any flavour. There is something about a childhood staple that sticks with you for life. I think I grew up on cakes. I don't remember a day in my childhood that there wasn't grandma made cake in the house. Not that she was fantastically creative or innovative about it. It was always vanilla, lemon, orange or chocolate. With butter icing. The kind of cake that never goes wrong. The one you get deep, guttural(literally and metaphorically) cravings for in the height of any emotion.

Few make good butter icing these days. It is always adulterated with milk or water or lemon juice. And of course there's the ultimate fake: 'I cant believe it's not butter butter'. Maybe that's the reason my arteries are not completely clogged yet but nevertheless, it's sad.

I have been on a quest to find the most perfect cakes for a while now. I have made countless cakes over the past 11 years since I started baking. Good cakes, disastrous cakes, cakes with lava spewing, cakes made accidentally with rice flour instead of cake flour, cakes with too much salt and too much sugar, cakes that look like hell but taste oh so good. Every kind there possibly could be.

But last night I made the most fabulous chocolate cake that looked so pretty and felt and tasted divine!

Now before I continue, I separate chocolate cakes into two categories. Those made with oil and those made with butter. They both belong to different flavour families and texturally are worlds apart. Those made with butter are somewhat denser in texture and have a bite to them. Somehow their flavor is also more rounded and wholesome. The more the butter there is the more decadent, rich and sinful it gets. This is the kind of cake with crunchy crusts and melt in the mouth insides. The continuum could range from a cake that is too floury and almost sponge cake like to the flour less chocolate cake which I would only describe as the devil on a plate.

Oil cakes on the other hand, at its best are light as silk. They have a satiny, cloudy texture. Like cotton candy with raindrops on it! Ok that may be a bad analogy. But oil cakes are light and moist and disintegrate, rather than melt. 

If I were to compare an oil cake with an element, I would say that it would be like the air on a really rainy day. Light but with kind of a resistance to it. And oh so moist!

And a butter cake would be pure earth that has been fired to perfection.

So on that note, I give you my recipe for a chocolate oil cake. Actually it belongs to Hersheys' I think but its MINE now!

Devour!

Cake

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water 

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. 

Frosting

1/4 cup Butter 
1/3 cup Cocoa
11/2 cups Icing Sugar
1/8 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting. 

If you're wondering why Ive succumbed to the adulteration of the butter icing with milk, its only because an oil cake requires something a little lighter than the classic butter icing. It needs to be lighter, more yielding and pliant. Try it. Money back if you don't love it.

And listen to this while you cook. 

And this while you eat. 

And this while you clean.

Joy in a line

If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
of my affection
and think, "It's beautiful
here by this pond.I wish
somebody loved me,"
I'd love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
at peace,
and ask yourself, "I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them."


- Richard Brautigan 
 
Who wouldn't adore this? It is everything a poem should be for you and me. Simple, sweet and heartwarmingly kind. Yes I think it's a kind poem more than anything. Lifts me up and curls up my lips. And that's all I need to be happy for now. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Good Wife's Guide




When I first read about the Good Wife's Guide from 'Housekeeping Monthly' over at Sweet Pea's little kiwi blog, I was ticked pink. I couldn't believe that any magazine (even a misogynist one), much less one intended for women, even as early as the '50s could propagate such values. I was convinced that it was a joke, but one that a male chauvinist or rather a satirist had created as a commentary on expectations of women.

Curious to know the origins of this curious little tale, I snooped about and ended up predictably at Snopes, which had but of course discredited the story as a fabrication intended to highlight 'outdated societal behaviors and attitudes and portray them as worse than they really were as a way of pointing out how much we have improved.' Well, point noted. Snopes has as usual created a compelling and intriguing argument about what would have possible caused this article to be born and also gives instances of other absurdly archaic articles titled 'Slave Consultant's Narrative' and the outrageously hilarious 'Advice to young brides'. I am convinced that only a man or woman of rapidly flowing highly concentrated creative juices could spin such a yarn. I wonder where humanity would be if we took these to heart and chose to follow such codes of conduct word for word. But clearly it is commentary or even a satire at best and a mockery at worst of the values espoused by highly moralistic institutions who tend to pervert meaning and truth and make up versions of it that suit their purpose and convenience.Whatever said and done, it serves to entertain for sure!

Coming back to 'The Good Wife's Guide', imagine if the article were to be true. Agreeing that it is highly exaggerated and some parts of it even border on absurdity, is it truly to be rubbished as regressiveness in entirety. I couldn't help but feel that sadly, most of the points mentioned are still what most successful homemakers do, whether they tout a career along with the family or in absence of it. Failing these, she is most likely condemned and labeled a 'lousy wife' and 'unqualified' mother.


The challenge
Its implication
Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.
Practically speaking, this is what most married women, with or sans work and kids do in any case. Women come home and cook and have a nutritious and appealing meal for the family ready while the children study and the husband either does odd jobs around the house or comes later or watches TV, depending on how house trained he is. To raise an outrage to this proposition is to dramatically take on the role of a feminist and proclaim, ‘How dare you assume that the woman is supposed to be doing these things! This is abuse, a modern form of slavery. An outrage! A travesty of justice!’
Oh just breathe! It’s called sex roles. Women nurture. Men protect. It’s a basic difference. By cooking a meal for her family, women are just doing what they innately are best at and probably enjoy the most. If you ask me, I would any day rather cook a meatloaf than fix a faucet. 
Prepare yourself. Take fifteen minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
What we need to understand here is that the evening is for the two of them or for the entire family, rather than for just the man to enjoy being fussed over.

Taking a deep breath, washing one’s face and touching on make up allows her to enjoy the fruits of her labour more than anyone else.

Hardly anyone would argue that the woman is entitled to and undoubtedly should dress up to please herself in the presence or absence of others. Anyone telling you that tidying yourself up after a meal and presenting a pretty you in front of a husband is a sign of submission and an invitation to discrimination is clearly just exhibiting a case of sour grapes. And you would do well not to pay heed.
Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
Ummm…in more ways than one, this would work very well in maintaining your husband’s interest and attention. After all, nothing better than to feed to one’s fantasies!
Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.
Do this before he comes. After he comes. Whenever. A pretty and well kept house is everybody’s joy. There’s hardly a contention there. Better yet, make the kids tidy up.
Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his personal comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
The fire, if you ask me, should be kept going in winter anyways, irrespective of the husband!

Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not one of them. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
Of course the latter part is better ignored, but communicate! This cannot be stressed enough! Talk about everything under the sun! Talk about your day, your work and the people in it. A problem shared is a problem halved. Sharing is caring and you will be all the happier for it.
Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.
Of course, if he comes home late once in a while, you should rejoice and plan a night out with your own friends. But if this is an everyday phenomenon, refer to previous steps.
  1. Communicate
  2. Dress up nicely
  3. Greet with a smile.
Be the incentive for him to come home and no one truly achieved this by complaining.
More often than not, the problem will solve itself. And if it doesn’t, the problem is much more deep rooted than you think. Or maybe he genuinely is a workaholic. In which case, points a, b and c should anyways offer the solution.
 Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself body and spirit.
Your husband, you, your dogs and everyone else living in it should see your home as a place of peace, order and tranquility. In today’s mad world, we cannot afford it to be anything but that.
Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.
This should be done by all family members for each other! You for your husband and kids and of course them for you! And if not, do it for yourself. Have a cool or warm drink as soon as you come home and watch your evening improve.
Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
Trust and faith are integral parts of any relationship. Nobody wants to be criticized, judges and nitpicked on all the time. Have faith that he will indeed be fair and truthful. If you go by popular culture as propagated by ‘The Secret’, you will be rewarded by an honest and fair husband because that is exactly what you expected. Of course, anything that you are uncomfortable with should be discussed. But nobody got anything they wanted by nagging, screaming, kicking and crying. Talk rationally, calmly and equanimously. Not as a doormat and definitely not as an authority. Be the equal if you want to be one.
A good wife always knows her place.
That is true! She does! And it is at the centre of her home and her family’s heart.

Of course, to abdicate their right to question any actions of their spouse is dysfunctional and counter – productive and is antithetical to the idea of communicating in a positive and solution creating manner.

Additionally, a sense of self respect and self worth is crucial and imperative in any fulfilling relationship. Believing that your thoughts and concerns are of minimal importance next to those of your partner is a sure fire way of destroying this.

Thus on analyzing the article it is clear that it is the ‘whole’ that is offensive rather than the parts. Because really, only 2 of the parts are really regressive and deserving of a good bashing up. Which brings me to a very important idea.

The context of analysis. a.k.a. the framework.

With the picture of a kitchen of a woman cooking, the date 1955, the name of the magazine (Housekeeping Monthly. How outrageous to assume that Housekeeping is what the woman would and should be doing!) and a stereotypical label such as ‘The Good Wife’s Guide’, this article, at the outset, created a framework from which it was judged. In 5 seconds, an intelligent mind could have judged and given you a gist of the article and the reader’s typical response to it. That is how successfully the context and framework was created by the author. It is this that leads us to react in a particular way to information rather than the information itself.

Now imagine a different scenario.

This is the story of a happy, young, newly wedded couple. It’s the Mr.’s birthday and the Mrs. has a special evening planned for him. This is an article that her best friend gave her to follow, to plan a special evening for her husband. Now read the above steps. Doesn’t seem so offensive anymore does it. And precious little in this list would be inappropriate or unwarranted in this context.

And there is no argument that in a dream marriage, the husband and the wife would be treating each other in the best possible way. I for one, think that everyday should be a celebration. So I'm game for dressing up, special meals, cleaner houses and flowers through the day if that's what it warrants.

In short, rather than rejecting anything that seems ‘off’ at first sight, it may help to try take things out of their natural habitat and viewing it without the rose / blue coloured glasses. And if you do this for your marriage, your husband and children will love you for it and you will be all the more blessed.

And honestly, most husbands would worship a wife like this and completely reciprocate. And if he doesn’t, you are much better off being single. And a month of being a ‘good wife’ is just the way you can find out. But Ill bet my bottom dollar you’ll reap what you sow. With dividends.

Heels over head


I love these shoes!

It's hard not to love anything that has been touched by Heidi Klum. But these shoes!!!! Drool-worthy!

 And these shoes!

If I had to wear one pair of shoes for the rest of my life and the heels wouldn't kill me, I would probably choose these. Dainty and delicious. Just the way I like them ;)

They are Valentino and they are the find of The Cherry Blossom Girl. May God bless you dear child!

  
Omelle (pronounced /ähm' elle/. How chic!) is a 'luxury footwear with a distinct and imaginative voice'. I would gladly give my entire footwear collection for just these 6! Ok maybe not. But still! They are so beautiful!

These shoes really look like clothes for the feet. A button here, a ribbon there and a bit of wool of the ride. They have personality, character and comfort etched on them. And they're oh so pretty!


And when one of the founders got married, she wore Omelle shoes, obviously, and so did most of the female guests. The wedding was beautiful as are the shoes! 

See, these are the kind of friends I need to find.

Heads up!

And for more on today's theme of footwear, how absurd is the phrase 'head over heels!'. It signifies exactly the opposite of its literal implication. 'Head over heels' describes someone who is topsy turvy and that is exactly what doesn't happen when the head is over the heel! Strange is the world and strange are its people! And I'm confused!

Shoes, Glorious Shoes!

I think shoes are one of God's greatest gift to mankind. Ok. Shoemakers are the gift and the gift is to womankind. But think about it. It is the only item of clothing you could own that you could wear irrespective of the size you shrink or expand to. And the enormity of its implication boggles my mind! Permissibility for guilt free shopping! Why? You could possibly wear it for the rest of your life because you can't get too fat or thin to wear it. For such a privilege, it comes at such a low cost, and that to me is a sound investment!

Most shoes look good on everyone. Think about it. How many of us would actually have the gall to wear something modeled by a professional feeling absolutely secure that we look as good or even better! I couldn't say that about pants, shirts, dresses or skirts. But shoes are selfless little creatures that work unconditionally to make you look and feel better.

You could challenge me and tell me that jewelry would perform the same function. Diamonds are after all the girls best friend, but how many diamond necklaces could you afford anyway? Who really could go on a whim and buy some bling. And cheaper jewelry is hardly timeless and hence fails in the contest by default.

But a shoe! Imagine a pair of tan leather boots! If I did own one today, I reckon I would be wearing them 50 years later too. How bout some classic black stillettos. Or satin pumps. Or slut red strappy heels. Or pretty pink ballerinas.

I would happily only inherit these from my mother and I would gladly pass these on to posterity. Shoes are my legacy to the world. The protect my feet, make them look pretty and make me teary happy. And proud of having made a wise and learned choice on where to place my money. Shoes complete me!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

And I "quote"

"Most people are other people.
Their thoughts are someone else's opinions
Their lives a mimicry,
their passions a quotation"


- Oscar Wilde

Next turn, please!

"You know whether the country you are in believes in reincarnation by taking one look at behavior on roads.", my yoga teacher jested, during a session on reincarnation. "The wild abandon with which people conduct themselves can only be from the surety that even if they die, their soul persists and life will recommence in an other form in an other place." A new beginning. A new adventure. Sparkling and spanking new. And improved to boot! What in heaven's name could be wrong with that right? Right.

My driving classes, I have observed, are an abiding testament to this remark.

My life on the road: It is a well proven fact that I am a girl of no patience. And I take no time to panic. If my panic was a car, I'd go from 0 to 150 in 2 seconds. Bad joke I agree, but the metaphor is essential. When I see a hole in the road, a car trying to overtake or a traffic signal blinking yellow threatening to move to red, my spontaneous reaction is always the same. I rev. And zoom faster than the wind.

This is disconcertingly (though predictably!) followed by the instructor slamming the brake and the clutch and a harsh, forceful veer of the steering wheel. And surely, a litany of insults follow of how I am ironically hasty to jump into trouble. And to think she is the one who continually stresses that the driver must ensure the comfort of the passengers. Hyprocrite!

But I realize that when I drive, my overarching sentiment can be summed up in 3 innocuous word. 'Come what may!' In an unsure or even threatening situation, rather than wait and act tactfully, I impulsively jump into it and try to scramble my way out with the cheeky hope that everything will be fine. I have been thinking of why my innate reaction is such, to most of life's events.

It is today that I discovered the link between my actions and a commentary on all cultures with a certain belief system. Its indeed fascinating how conditioning can influence and dictate the most basic of thoughts actions and reactions.

Let us now look at our counterparts in any voyage.

Tom, Dick and Harry: In India, the road might as well be the footpath. And it most often is, with the number of humans on a road outnumbering the number of cars by the tens in smaller towns and cities. It must be the courage of the collective, because I cant think of why else people walking on the middle of a road would dare to continue doing so, even at the sound of persistent horns. It is almost as if everyone's in  some La-la-land with fields meadows and streams, oblivious to big machines with giant rubber wheels that can move and trample.

The four legged sort: Animals on Indian roads are a funny sort. They seem to love dirt dust and pollution because their favourite spot is the middle of the road. The sound of horns and people yelling is their lullaby and maybe the smog is what they get high on! You would think that cows would lust after green pastures and blue skies but apparently crossing the road and staring at traffic head on is what gives them their cheap thrills.

It is interesting to note that a recent study proved that it is possible to conclude whether a community in India is beef eating or not by counting the number of cattle that you can see on the roads.
(Don't ask me what the source is.) If cows are allowed to wander on the roads with onlookers gazing at them reverently as they cause a near collision and almost force another entity into reincarnation, you can be assured that you will be slaughtered if you even attempt to slaughter for a steak. Forget the number of people these cows kill with accidents. You'll be damned if you try to keep the cows off the road!

Partners in Crime: I honestly sometimes wonder what is going on in the minds of drivers and riders as the surge forward without a pause at a stop signal, overtake through the right and ignore any rules about lane driving. At best, driving here displays an utter lack of etiquette and is a blind race in a bumper car contest at worst.

Which leaves me to conclude: Thank God for provisions to reincarnate! And as for my next life, I call dibs on being born a cow!