Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Optimism and Pessimism

I had two accidents today. One was truly not any body's fault. An electronic component caught fire. The other was completely my fault - I left milk on the stove and absentmindedly went off to the terrace. I watered plants and brought in all the clothes that had been drying there only to find the vessel on the stove smoking and the house filling with a horrible stink.

What had kept me preoccupied was, a piece of news I heard that people belonging to a particular religion were creating havoc in Agra. Thousands of tourists come to Agra to see the Taj Mahal everyday. Their lives are still in danger as mobs killed one person and injured a few policemen. The reason - that four people who had been taking part in a religious procession had been killed by a speeding lorry.

Now anyone who lives in this part of the world would know that hit-and-run accidents happen all the time. We have famous actors, sons of multi-millionaires and popular politicians involved in these accidents. Drunken driving is a way of life for the notorious lorry drivers here and accidents on the highway happen every hour, in fact.

Accidents happen to people all the time. Time, location and especially the religious beliefs of people do not play a role in deciding who is hurt when and where and how. I still do not believe that people can actually go out and vent their frustration on other innocent people. I completely understand the grief that they must be experiencing for the dead loved ones. But riots for what? Against whom? Why are they doing this?

While people celebrate 60 years of Independence and economic growth, we remain so backward in our ways of thinking, in expression of emotion. We want to tell women what to wear and what not to and where to go and where not. We ill-treat children. We exhibit our worst behaviour to anyone who seems inferior to us. And worse, we go and take out our anger on people in these violent ways. How can the lives lost be got back or can it ever be avenged?

People have told me that I am very pessimistic about everything. I disagree. I am actually optimistic to the extent of being impractical. I see all these things happening everyday and still I go back to believing that the world can be changed and made better... Even though I hear of these dreadful things...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Where was I then. Where am I now.

18 July 2004:
Around two years ago, my brain functioned in a way that made me believe entirely that I was invincible. I held on so tight to my opinions and beliefs that I felt no one and nothing can make me change them. I was great and my world was simply superb. Nothing forced me into taking decisions I did not want to make. I was my king. If I listened to and obeyed someone it was my own wish to do so. No force. I never had to do anything that I did not want to. Sometime later I thought that my life wasn't my own. But considering my situation now, my life was definitely mine till now. I am living my life for somebody else. My choices are not my own. Where is that confidence and independence that I thought would come with adulthood. When I was young and hated school and homework, I used to dream about responsibility and respect from others. I dreamt about the rights I would get. I waited impatiently when I was 16 to be 18. Now two days from that mark in my life, I wonder what I was so impatient about. What made me think that I would be powerful and great when I become 18 I don't know....

27 August 2006
I cannot believe this...I was so eager to grow old. I was so eager to be thought of as an adult - respected, not sidelined and ignored and insulted. But now I am one and I don't think I really enjoy it. I am still insulted, I am still pushed to a corner. I am still treated like an idiot.
I never wanted to grow up in a world that has these kind of people. No one seems to think straight, no one seems to want to behave responsibly. No love, no care. Only "I". Self-centred and selfish people who manipulate others...

I really wonder as to what those incidents were that sparked off these angry words. I honestly do not know who I was calling self-centred etc. But I am still disappointed. I still remember being a child in school, hating the thought of going there. Dreaming about adulthood.
Now here I am, thinking about childhood and those sunny, fun days. Games, life, friends, hops and jumps - not measured steps.
I guess I will always be dissatisfied with what I have. I used to dream then about the future, now I think about the past. That alone has not changed.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The feared and revered monarch

I am typing this thing offline waiting expectantly that my broadband connection will suddenly spring back to life. The cute little green little flickers violently for two seconds and then goes out again. Reminds me of a fish jumping around when taken out of water.
We have begun treating the modem with awe and respect these days. Never touching it, carefully removing anything that may have been placed near it by mistake so as not to disturb it at its royal location on the table. We have tried observing it so as to find out what exactly angers it enough for it to take time off from so kindly helping us connect to the world outside.
Once we noticed that it went off every time there was some loud noise. So we turned the speaker down, shut all the doors and windows. We even started whispering to each other out of fear of offending Modem Maharajah. It worked some times. He was pleased enough to grant us a few minutes of uninterrupted service.
We realized once that he does not like it hot. We could not open the windows that bring in all that noise through. So we had to turn the fan on. It is pretty cold down here for humans with the fan on. So we sat huddled in blankets looking up at MM to change his mood.
Sometimes I take to staring at the box trying to will it to start working. Sort of try to hypnotise or work magic on it. But maybe I could succeed in bending metal spoons with all that staring but not MM. He is beyond that.
Once somebody was audacious enough to place a book carelessly on MM. We saw the book and removed it. But MM was so angered that he decided that we had to be taught a lesson. He decided that he would severe our connection exactly when we were in the middle of doing something really important, like mailing a 5 page long mail that had not been saved. He decided that he would never disconnect when we wasted our time wilfing through the net. And so it is till today. I still am waiting for MM to cool down and look down at me with kindness. So if this writing ever finds itself on the net, you know that it is because of the kindness and magnanimity of Modem Maharajah!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


I am settling down in this comfy chair to write about one person I adore, admire in my mind and absolutely put down outside... Amma.
She has to be the most amazing person I have ever known. I know everyone says this about their mothers. But, when I distance myself from what and who I am, as I usually do, and look at this lady... I am filled with wonder. I am curious sometimes as to what she is really made of, what is there in that mind of hers. What does she really think. What does she think of me. I am totally clueless as to where she gets that energy, enthusiasm and pure love for everyone who comes by.
I have never ever seen her jealous or filled with hatred for anyone. Never any negative emotion. Never grumbling or complaining about anything. She can live on just air and tea and still work like a slave, always cheerful and energetic. She grins all the time like a Cheshire cat, even if you are making endless fun of her, like we do often. I feel ashamed when I say something very damaging, sarcastic and about her and still get a hearty laugh from her at the dark humour (if you can call it that) in what ever I say.
She has many interests ( some obsessive interests) like sudoku, card games, sudoku, and adventures into orkut and blogger, sudoku and ... some sudoku. :D She just loves that game. She can sit for hours on end peering at the screen with her glasses to play the game on the computer till someone very rudely reminds her that she has a hungry family to feed. It is amazing how she learns things. She has to be the most computer and Internet-savvy person of her age that I know. When she gets time on the computer, which she rarely gets these days with 3 strong competitors for this seat, and when she makes up her mind that sudoku is not the thing to do now, she goes out and takes several worlds by storm. You can see her on orkut, you can see her on "tagged" and many other sites. She loves exploring!
She has been a major influence in my life, in spite of the fact that she has never imposed anything on us. She has to be the most liberal and understanding parent. She is always a friend and more often a sort of child to us! And she has immense belief in us. In spite of the fact that I am acting like an extremely selfish being these days, she has kept up her trust in me. I am more than thankful. She is always the perfect fan. It struck me from the blue to see a comment on this blog from her when I had never told her that I blog or my blog address or that there is such a thing as a blog. At the drop of a hat she can actually start telling us about blogs and vlogs. The latter I had never heard of, till she told me. Strange role reversals.
If there is one person I look at as a role model - it has to be you amma!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The wonder that is childhood

I recently saw this kid on a bus journey. A very pretty, active child, around 6 years old. She was jumping up and down on the seats, singing some very popular movie song loudly - chanting the same line over and over again actually. She was proving to be too much to handle for her parents. They obviously did not want her yelling and jumping to disturb the other people in the bus. They were even embarrassed maybe. But there was no holding this kid down. She was in high spirits and no one could stop her from having a good time. After a while of trying to quiet her, the parents gave up and dosed off.
Travelling alone is a blessing, but it also means you have to be at your creative best to keep from getting bored to death. The weather was stifling and so my brain felt duller than ever. After a while of looking out the window, I started looking at the bright antics of this cute kid. She was so full of life and I was happy that she was there. After a while of being ignored by her parents - she turned around and looked at me.
There I was - quite an evil-looking stranger, what with my heavy eyelids and ugly hair-do. She looked at me for a while. Now, I had been used to being this unnoticed, admiring watcher. It so happens with adults, that if they for some reason have been looking at somebody and are caught in the act by the object of their attention, their immediate reaction would be to look embarrassed and turn away. But here I was looking at an innocent kid. I was embarrassed nevertheless because of her deep, penetrating(so it seemed) look. I wanted to turn away, but couldn't. Then, suddenly she smiled at me.
Here I was, locked up in my own world of silly worries. I had just forgotten to look at the best things of life. Stupidly thinking that I was the centre of the universe. I had stopped enjoying things that had made my childhood that extremely wonderful part of my life - the reason that I am what I am today. Laughter, wonder, curiosity, innocence, openness, unconditional love, courage to ask and learn. The simple smile.
I slowly returned the smile. I was shocked at how difficult it had been for me to return this simple gesture. How closed my world was becoming. How absorbed I was with myself. Worrying every second about what somebody would think of my actions. "Everything you do in your life is to get attention." How true. And how disheartening. There is definitely more to life than some body's attention. Like that smile.
I promised myself that was not going to lose my brain to the mundane world of adults - the so-called practical thoughts of how to make more money, how to save it, how to make a great career and what-not, living like a vegetable in short.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I have written my thoughts (about problems faced by India, focusing mainly on treatment of children and their education) in this blog. This has been creating some resentment among people. Since it is creating uneasiness I would like to apologise for any ambiguity in my posts and clarify.
This is going to be a lot about "ME", "MY thoughts", "MY ideals", "MY ..." whatever. So kindly forgive me for boring you.
I am, have been and will always be a great patriot at heart. I support Indian cricket team madly...any Indian team for that matter. I love singing patriotic songs. I love a lot of things about India. I love the weather, the natural beauty, the diversity in each and everything. I love the fact that I get to say anything I like and get away with it. I don't have people snooping on me and jailing me or torturing me for voicing my opinion. I love the fact that I am free to go anywhere and do whatever here. I rejoice that I live comfortably, I dress well, eat splendid things, am able to and allowed to think. I am secure wherever I go. I get everything that I need or want.
For all this I am tremendously grateful to my country and its people. I am grateful to all those people who died fighting for this country's freedom. I am proud that I belong to the same country as them. There can be no one as courageous and strong as people who sacrificed their happiness, their families, their friends and their lives for the sake of something as abstract as 'a country' keeping in mind that the idea must have been so crude in their minds. They had spent their entire lives under foreign rule, they could not have had a good idea about what self-governance and freedom would actually feel like. I hope I make myself plain there. I am extremely proud of my country, its heritage and its history.
I am a very strong critic of anything that is dear to me. I believe I have a hand in making changes to anything that I belong to. My family has always been the target of a whole lot of my criticism. I criticise my mother for being naive and gullible. I hate to see that people around her are fooling her and taking advantage of her. I criticise my father for being blunt, it hurts people around him. I would like to see him as a diplomat with all that honesty. I criticise myself for a whole lot of things. I criticise my sister for not using her abilities to the full. I criticise because, I know of the possibilities if changes are made. I want to see these changes and realise possibilities.
My criticism allows me to analyse things. I have come out with a lot of theories based on these criticisms. Recording them here... I hope it will help as notes. I just want to make a record of the thoughts that I have so that I will be able to see it a few years later to continue carrying on the work that I plan to do.
This is the reason why I criticise India's citizens. I see that when they shed their inhibitions and their desire to ape other cultures, when they shed their selfishness and when they begin to be more open-minded, ours will be a country - better and more secure and happy. We have love, hope, courage and strength in our blood, in our genes. It is this terrible contamination of ignorance and narrow-thinking that is causing us to be trodden upon and helpless. It is because I think that my country is dear to me that I criticise.
I shudder to think of how life would be if India had been anything other than what she is now. Hearing of stories about famine, starvation and wars in countries around the world, places where women are slaves and children are beggars, still other places where children are gun-totting, swearing miniature "dons"... we are blessed here. India is almost a safe haven...almost.

Dealing with poverty, sickness, unemployment etc. is a smaller job when you think of dealing with the roots of the problem - ignorance, closed minds and badly implemented education system, among several other things. These things are not visible at first look, they are hidden and deeply embedded. Education here is not able to create awareness, it does not open people's minds. That is why I am convinced that it is a failure. I see a logical connection between this faulty education system and all of India's problems (all of the world's problems infact).
It has been brought to my notice that empty words are worth nothing. I am grateful, actually thrilled, to know that people believe that one person working for change can make a difference. I am determined to make my dreams and ideas take shape. These dreams and ideas have everything to do with reforming the education system and making the lives of children - the next generation that is going to actually see the colours of India flying high - better. I am talking about children from all possible environments and backgrounds.

I stress again, my opinions are not and will not be forced on anyone. It is against my principles to force my thoughts on others, even as I expect people to respect my right to voice my opinion. This blog is my way of keeping myself focused and on the right track - that of reform and cleansing. If I sound very pompous and self-important it is because I don't want to be taken lightly. I strongly believe that my methods are going to work, they might need some refinement though.

Thanks for taking time to read my babble on myself. I am not that important. But this country definitely is.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A writer

I was drinking some coffee today morning. I hate coffee and I cannot imagine why or how people put themselves through that torture and believe that they actually like it!
I had sat down before drinking. So I did not realise that I had not put my big helping of sugar into it(it usually covers its ugly taste). It was worse than usual. But I was too lazy to go back into the kitchen to take sugar. Why drink it if you don't like it you may ask... well, maybe because
  1. I like torturing myself!!!!(I am just joking.That is totally not true!)
  2. I made some extra coffee and just hate wasting stuff(the goodie goodie me)
  3. I wanted to write about it in my blog that off late is getting a lot of traffic!!!!!!You know... spread some more wisdom in the world (The saintly me)
  4. I was just giving my dad some company(which as you may guess is the right answer!)


To more serious stuff:

I tried to imagine how I would describe the experience in words. This is what popped into my head..
"The steam rises into my face and it feels good in this cold weather. I smell it and remember trips to the market as a child, passing through the lane where the coffee vendor ground his coffee. I was intrigued by what coffee would be like especially because it was banned for me then! I slowly sip it. It is hot. The flavour is there. It is strong, milky coffee. The taste spreads in my mouth. It tastes bitter and slightly ... umm err umm"
Stop of thought flow. I don't know what to call this taste. Is it... salty? It is strong. It is bitter. It has no sugar at all. The taste registers. I still remember its taste. But I simply cannot explain it in words. My inefficiency? Or the lack of words in the language.I tried to think of words in other languages that could be substituted here.

Search Returned "Nil" results.

This is a real life experience that I still remember clearly and I am unable to describe it properly. I wonder how writers are able to convey things that almost completely exist in their imaginations. It must be pure talent and a command over the language that is really good. Is that it?
I don't think so.
Being a writer requires:
  1. Imagination and creativity
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Skill
  4. Dedication
  5. Perseverance
  6. Patience (especially when writing or typing are both such inefficient ways of recording thought)
  7. A great memory
  8. Experience
  9. A sharp eye
  10. A sharp mind to process information fast, analyse it and record it
  11. Concentration
  12. Coherent thought flow

To my mind, even describing a real event requires imagination. So this list applies to all kinds of writing work. As to describing things or events, what about the aroma and flavour of ghee in sambar rice... (for a change something that I truly enjoy. You know I maybe was not able to talk about the horrid taste of coffee, because it was horrid!) Think... so do I get the right words... nope!

New thoughts:
"Maybe, our language has not evolved enough to contain words for all the tastes and sounds and smells and sights that nature has. We are quite an inefficient lot compared to nature and its marvels (or horrors when it comes to coffee) We don't think in words. We just resort to language to express thought. "

I still wonder if there is a word for it... maybe I should ask somebody else if they can describe it...