Thursday, July 28, 2011

In the city of lakes was born a Prince

Long time ago in the city of lakes was born a Prince under the sign of the Lion. The king and queen were so pleased to see the baby boy with curly hair and the killer smile.The king invited all the fairies in his kingdom to come bless the baby.

12 fairies came up to meet the baby boy. Fairies granted him a wish each.
"May he have crooked teeth with a killer smile that will sweep the hearts of many", said the first fairy.
"He'll be great with words and meet his destiny through words" said the second fairy.
"He has a heart of gold and noone can ever fight him", said the third fairy.
"His love for weapons will keep him amused and resourceful",said the fourth fairy.
"He will fare well at any job he chooses and will be lucky with numbers", said the fifth fairy.
"He will weep for his loved ones and win their hearts with his softness", said the sixth fairy.
"He will get all that he desires and have a blessed life", said the sixth fairy.
" He will travel on path less travelled and cross the seas", said the seventh fairy.
" He will have many friends who will quote him as a role model in life", said the eight fairy.
" He will have a great appetite and a healthy body to enjoy life to the fullest", said the ninth fairy.
" He will plan like noone has and amaze his loved ones with his meticulous nature", said the tenth fairy.
" He will be obsessed with cleanliness and order which will be an asset in his later years"said the eleventh fairy.

The baby boy smiled and cooed in his bassinet. Before the twelfth fairy could bless the baby boy there came in a witch whom the King had forgotten to invite. In her seething anger she cursed the baby
" You cannot be too perfect to enjoy these blessings, I will create an imperfection with which you wont enjoy all that was bestowed over you". She then shrunk the baby boy;s left palm and flew away.

The queen and king were shocked to see their baby boy was no more perfect. "He will survive", said the queen. " But with such pain?" asked the king.

The twelfth fairy had not yet blessed the prince and came forward and said " It can't be undone but I can help. He will conquer the world despite the curse and fall in love incurably with the chosen one who'll meet him in a red and white cloak 29 years from now"." He will also kill the witch and open his world with a sword on the night of his 31st year, for the sword is his treasure that will lead to his destiny".

The king and queen were too dazed to believe all that happened. The prince grew up into a handsome young man with the curls and killer smile. He got good at words and numbers. His heart of gold won him many friends but he never met his lady love.
And years later through his world of words he met his lady love and when she met him in real she was dressed in red and white.

But he still has not found the sword to open the oyster and kill the witch.He has been patiently waiting for the night of his 31st year, the night he gets his sword and his destiny changes forever. He hopes he lives with his lady love fighting over and over forever and then they perhaps can live happily ever after. But the sword and that night awaits him...............

Happy birthday my prince from the city of lake. Your sword awaits you and so does your destiny

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Life is good when unexpected

Life never works the way we expect it to be not atleast for me. Life teaches you these lessons through serendipitous incidents. A lot that we shove away as trivial and silly in our daily life could be miracles around the corner which changes our life or at least our staunch perspectives. My encounters with strangers in life has been like this. We are taught not to mingle or interact with strangers. Though as kids we had to be indoctrinated this way to keep us safe,as we grow this tends to mould us into paranoid freaks. Hence people remain islands. But I have often beleived we can connect to the world outside without really knowing anything about it in real. So here are some thoughts on how strangers have changed me, moulded me and even challenged me to reconsider my stance on life.

This blog for instance is one such example. None of my friends actually read what I wrote and even if they did, they never told me how they felt, nooone I knew commented or encouraged me rather they asked why did I have to do this. Judging by this behaviour of theirs I should be rethinking on what 'friendhsips' mean but then again I rather put more time into writing. So most of the followers here are strangers and in my life strangers have appreciated and understood me more than my near ones.

I remember crying at a church in Dharwad weeks after my dad passed away. Once a Mangalorean woman asked me in Konkani why I was crying. I hardly knew her language but I simply poured out my sorrow to her. She sat there silently, held my hand throughout and kept comforting me. I know it sounds like a scene from a movie but I never felt so comforted. There are times I walked around this campus looking a for a soul like this woman. She did not seem to be very educated but she definitely knew how to support someone in crisis. Kindness from a stranger surprises me. I am sure she would not remember me today , I can't remember her face either but she remains a memory afresh- a soul who touched my life when I had noone to turn to.

I was travelling unexpectedly for home with no reservations on a train at an uearthly hour. I had heard of general compartments and the struggle in there. I was considering if I should take this train at 3 am with no women in my vicinity when a guy asked me " first time?" . " Yeah", I said. We soon discovered we had the same destination in common. " Pretend to be a near one of mine", he said. I had no option so I agreed. I was scared if he would drug me so I tried to be awake. The moment I got into the compartment, I could feel him as a shield, protecting me from the thrusting men around. He made way for me, settled me and spoke to me with authority to confirm others speculations of we being a couple. I suddenly saw the others took no interest in me. We sat in silence for the next 6 hours reading our books. And finally when we reached our destination we parted ways with a smile he even showed me the the snap of his fiancee. I don't know why he did it or why I chose to trust him . But a stranger saved my life again.

I don't mean to say all strangers are nice, but neither are all the people we have known in life. After all the line between strange and familiar is so thin. It stops at a hi, a lending hand, or perhaps a click on the follower button of an arbit blog :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I like to cut....

By using a title like this I am sure it’ll be difficult for me to put things in perspective and redeem myself. But let me give it a try. I like to cut, but not in a psychopathic way, and certainly not myself in a sado-masochistic way, or masochistic even. I am sure it has nothing to do with flesh, well sometimes, and in no way related to blood. So the least I can assure you so far is that my liking to do it is not directed on humans and it doesn’t cause pain either. Even then I sometimes think that there would just be a thin line separating; or a world’s difference, depending on which side of the debate you are, my penchant for it from that of a psychopath’s. Because, unlike them, I like to exercise by predilection in inanimate objects or after it is made inanimate.

The earliest memories I have of getting mesmerized by a sharp object was the razor blade, the 7’O clock or the Wilkinson types, used in the saloons even now. Dad used a conventional razor and I used to look out for blades, when he was done using one. Even though it would have lost the shine and glint, it was potent enough to cut through papers, plastics, vegetables and anything else which used to catch my fancy. What fascinated me was the fineness with which the blade used to cut through things and even though it was not the strongest of the lot, it had a sharpness which is difficult to rival even now. On special occasions, say if I would have got hold of a styrofoam piece, I would snitch a new blade from dad’s inventory and running that sharp blade through the things would give me unparallel delight, not to mention the smoothness with which the blade would guide through the Styrofoam, smooth like a baby’s bottom. But my joy would be short lived if I get caught in the act of cutting things, and in a very tight spot to explain how I got hold of a brand new razor blade.

And when I had thought nothing would beat the razor blade, in came the surgical blade, courtesy mom, and swept me off my feet. Not that mom gave it to me saying, “young man, how about graduating from a razor blade”. I had to struggle hard to lay my hand on one, because as compared to a razor blade its surgical cousin was kept tucked in high unreachable places, away from the unpredictable sons lingering around in the house, and one would not find a used one either. But what a work of art it was, many folds sharper than a razor blade and many times stronger. It had overcome the flaws of the razor blade, which when used on a styrofoam sheet or block was difficult to maneuver, and unlike a razor blade it had the shape and size to fit perfectly between ones fingers. But it was many years later that I realized its true utility - to cut through skin and flesh. This is where things get a little gory and I would expect small children and expectant mothers to skip to the next paragraph. It was the time I had mastered the catapult and I say ‘mastered’ because I was regularly gunning down small targets like the humming bird or twitchy ones like squirrels (these escapades will be detailed on some other posts later). Somewhere it dawned on me to skin the squirrel and display them as trophies in the house, similar to tigers and leopards. This is when the surgical blade unfailingly did justice to its vocation. Though it was a task the first few times but later on the blade and I were working seamlessly as one. With two potent weapons – the catapult and the surgical blade, I let loose a hunting spree which led to a great migration of squirrels from our colony and it only slackened when the desktop computers arrived on the horizon.

The next time a sharp thing caught my attention was when I was in Kerala and the guy who had come to pluck coconuts showed me his means of livelihood. It is called a ‘Kathal’ or ‘Vettukathi’ at our side of Kerala and the first time I saw it I was transfixed, as if I was looking at a 1911 9mm Desert Eagle. The guy had kept it in mint condition and felt like a collector’s piece. But only when he got about his business that I truly understood its potential. When one is hanging fifty feet above the ground, on a straight and branchless wonder like a coconut tree, one needs tools which will do the job quick, real quick. Not that I was not amazed to see how bunches of coconuts startled falling even before the Kathal kissed them, but when Dad asked the man to trim down an old tree that my eyes truly popped out. Just with two strokes he would chop down mighty branches and what clean cuts it made. Oh! It was magical. Like a hot knife through butter. Later on I pestered dad to buy one for our household use, but we didn’t find one of the same make and size. Apparently it was custom made. On a later date, when I was at mom’s house in Kerala, in no apparent fit of rage or anger, I picked up a Kathal and chopped down many grown up trees, which looked unwanted. Maybe the coconut man’s spirit took hold off my body and worked through me. It was only after copious thrashing and whipping that I regained my senses and was told that the plants were let there to grow into trees and to be sold as timber. After that incident I am very careful in chopping, trees or plants, to be sure no one’s around, lest be caught and thrashed.

I don’t remember if anybody ever asked me what I want to be when I grow up, but I am sure at least once I would have said – I want to be a logger. Now as a city dweller, my passion survives on occasional slicing up of onions, aubergines and potatoes. My favourites are mushrooms. Oh! What joy they give. I hate onions because they do funny things to your eyes and won’t let you do it in peace and it’s usually Bhujji who finishes it for me. As far as the tools are concerned, we have a small collection of shiny knives, big and small. They are not as sharp as the razor or surgical blade and for obvious reasons that things might get out of control in a kitchen and should it fall in the wrong hands - wife’, the husband may be left nursing a cut or stab. I recently got a good meat knife through a friend’s brother in Kuwait, as Bhujji had said they used to get good ones there. This one holds good and feels sharp, though we have not yet used it. I think we both have matured in our relationship and can handle sharp things around us.

P.S. – Yours truly is celebrating his birthday later this month and is open to the idea of receiving sharp and shining objects (stainless steel is preferred, brand not conscious) as gifts. And assures everybody, in writing, that it will be used for cooking purposes only.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My kiddo's at school

I have started my field work again with a new bunch of kids. Kids I meet these days amaze me in many ways. I wish we as adults had half their excitement, contentment and determination. It's very easy to explain stuff to kids, they understand when you put words in the right sense. I know my friends with kids would tell me to remember these lines for those later days when I have my own kids. But that's again a significant question as to why we lose patience with our own kids. No amount of field trips can perhaps prepare one for parenthood and as a parent your job does not end by 4pm at school. However should it make us irritated and impatient to understand these little adults? Recently a kiddo asked me why I had no babies if I was married. Before I could answer the other kiddo told the first one, that it happens to many married women- they don't have babies. And they both put up a sad face and told me I would be fine. I was amazed at how they did not require an answer from me. That's kids.

Recently I realised how much we could learn by observing and listening to kids which half of us never do in life. We really don't have the time for kids and elders and what we do to them has happened and happens to us- something I label as the boomerang effect.But closely observe the kids and you might benefit from insightful learnings.

We were discussing on love and relationships at 4th grade and suddenly a girl got up and emphatically told me she was against love. on further discussion she revealed people who ran away and married never got fridge, TV and bed and so she does not want to miss out on those comforts for love. Her parents dont have any of these till date because they had a love marriage. Suddenly the group went silent as if they were all ruminating on their friend's points . As I left school that evening I could not stop wondering if our conditioning as girls were contributing to dowry deaths in a way. We expect from parents and demand from our kids don't we? Behind hushed doors of educated families and open alleys on the uneducated aren't we all the same? And if school is a microcosm of the world out there wasn't the 4th graders views a reflection of ours?

I really don't know and I really don't believe these are fanciful passing thoughts.Hope some of you reflect and share your views on this.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Catharsis of a research scholar Part 3

If Facebook and Orkut never came my way I would have missed out on all my school friends from Kuwait. But now that I got to see them and What they do I am amazed at how things changed over the years. When I left after 10th we had no email ids but maybe those left behind studied together for 2 more years and could share email ids and stay in touch. I was all eager to get in touch with my school buddies but some even asked me " Teena Who?" and the others sounded bored to listen to what I was doing. And the remaining who did meet me got mauled in my pseudo intellectual wars. Sreeja remains but she's always been akin to me and I think we haven't grown beyond 10th std and all our experiences have grounded us to be who we are.

I woke up today and felt old ( few grays can do that to anyone) but then on facebook I saw pics of my buddies. And I began to wonder what is it that's giving me wrinkles and greys and the structure of a 60 year old. Am I going to die young? Maybe it's Chennai that's making me this or is it because I am not a doctor or engineer? Should I go for a massage or therapy?

And then I laugh at myself. "If not for research we would all look much saner, healthier and younger said my Senior from the next cubicle". And I wonder if it's true. When was the last time I watched a movie? read a comic? took more than 10 minutes to eat or shower? ironed my clothes or dressed up sweet? And why wasn't I doing it? And then it dawned that my senior was right.

If I went back to my school buddies I could pass for a tramp with what I am wearing today. That's what research does to last year scholars, makes you want to hide from school buddies :)
But lethargy has enveloped me so warmly that I would not change anything for anyone, anymore. And I know why I ended here today, coz I was meant to be here.

Sreeja, thanks for living next door at Blore and what a beautiful coincidence you are ;)

Note: These are random reflections please dont get back to me asking if I have a load of complexes buried in. I dont even edit or re-read what I write. And I atleast am honest to put up the honest thoughts I have rather than put on a mask and act cool.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Life in Pixels

I don't remember which was the first picture I took, as I see a lot of people showing me the first picture they took and it did hold promise for them, and I don't remember the latest one either. Just like the way I often write (Bhujji would say I rarely do nowadays) I try to do a little bit of pictures as well, not sure if it comes out as well. Can't say I know the science of it, but then a point and shoot camera doesn't demand much.

So here is a series on pictures; not detailing the cameras that were used, a series on life around us; not on the lens specification and just about anything that fancies our eyes and certainly not about shutter speed and contrast ratio. Just plain point and shoot!!!!!!

A view from the backseat

Miss you tons