I write so I can breathe. I am constantly evolving, mindless at times, frustrating even perhaps but heck, I wouldn't change the smell of freedom that comes with writing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Violation and Tolerance

(Warning: This post is long, blunt and direct in places. If you are not up to it, and not an adult, please do not read it. Yet, I wish to God every Indian reads it and tries to soak in the harsh reality of it all and does something about it.)

Today's cup of coffee is very bitter indeed. While I savour my cuppa, the truth that I sip in along with it is the bittterness and frustration of being an Indian, leave alone being a woman. There are days when one's mind lingers on too many emotions that tend to overwhelm us. There arises a deep ache and slowly creeps in a twisted feeling in the pit of my stomach. This particular feeling, for the past few days has wrenched my heart, twisted my gut and has dug into deep personal spaces where I, as a woman, purely as a woman and a human being exist. The nightmares do not end...


The rape of the twenty-three year old shook us up. This is not a new story. Women are raped every day in India (and the rest of the world). Men too. This is horrific and it is true and we are an indifferent lot to simply be outraged for a day or two (while the media feeds us horrendous details of the tragedy) and then forget about it when something else takes away their attention from it. It is not a tragedy that a brutal rape happened. The bigger and frightening tragedy of it all is that this will all be forgotten. The indifference is palpable, sickeningly so. That, is the tragedy because there will be another woman or man who will be raped while we shake our heads, talk about the cruelty of it all and do nothing about it. 

The police are supposed to protect us, safeguard our lives and ensure we are secure when we step out of our homes (and sometimes within our homes). Why should we be afraid to live, to work, to walk, to run, to be happy stepping out of our homes? Apparently, we have every reason to be so. Here is one of the tiniest tip of an iceberg that you have no idea about. Read up The Rapes Will Go On It is a rather long read, of four pages. But, I would ask you to read it nonetheless. You need to know these names and what you are up against when you walk into a police station (this is Delhi NCR) to file an FIR for a rape. 

I would rather see the public who quietly walk away from seeing such things happen in front of their eyes take a more pro-active approach and really beat the shit out of these guys...because, quite obviously the people who are supposed to safeguard our women are not doing anything and all they do is blame the women. Harrish Iyer rightly said, we all pray for sons... and forget to teach them to respect women. I will not generalize all men. 

But why is it that the outrage is just by women and a few bunch of men? Don't our men friends want to safeguard us, to stand by us in helping us fight this (what seems like a perpetual) losing battle? Don't protest here...go do something about it. Set the system right by not accepting something like this happening in front of your eyes. Not any more. We may not have done anything until now. What stops us from beginning now? Here is an example of what happens with those who cover the news. Watch this. Men Don't Fear Cameras or the Media (please put up with the 20 seconds advert because what you need to see is not posted on U-Tube for free but needs a sponsor). So, are these men going to be caught? You take a call. There are hundreds of people who ply Delhi roads. These men have been caught on camera. Who has the balls now (or a vagina, more appropriately - apparently because balls are weak) to ensure these three men are caught and taken to task? What this girl is facing is not something new. I have faced it. So have you or someone you have known. Some of us have faced it a lot worse than this. 

I watched a video on NDTV online yesterday. I watched Sushma Swaraj speak up and demand what the government is doing about it. Thank you Ms Swaraj, but you got it all twisted and it is your negative attitude toward a woman who has been raped that makes it all the worse for the survivors. We are not 'defiled'. We have undergone trauma, brutality and a terrifying experience that will probably give us nightmares. What we need is to get over it and get on with our lives and not live under a 'defiled' stigma. This is what is wrong with your perception (and probably a lot of women and men look at it the same way). A woman's body and soul perhaps has been violated. Yes. But, do not crush it even further by labeling her (or him) with a stigma of 'defiled'. That is a bigger and deeper thing to be scared of. Agreed, it will take years to heal, sometimes, not at all but don't make the journey of healing even more difficult. You, as a woman, in a seat of power where what you say and do has an impact, need to change your perception. Why blame the men alone? Here is why the society views the rape victim as a nobody and as the walking dead. Because, you are creating it. 

I am amazed at the outrage with which the kith and kin of women go about commiting murders in the name of honour killing because their sister, daughter, niece (and so on) has decided to spend her life with someone she is happy to be with. What stops that enraged spirit from standing up and not tolerating rape and abuse? There will be rapes commited within homes, in the quiet of the night, by an uncle, a father, a brother or a cousin and even a husband but all of it is quietly swept under the carpet in the name of upholding respectability in the society. The threats seep these women and children into a fear and inability to voice out the torment of being raped day in and day out. A lot of people will protest when they read this. I know that. They will protest that it is not so in every family. Really? Even my family will protest. I know better. Some of the women in my family know better. They are too afraid to say it. They face the fear of losing the stability of their lives and will continue to be so. I am sorry for them. I refuse to be like that. I realized decades ago that we will all decide to fight our battles when we have had enough, in so many ways. 

The deep-seated cause of it all begins at home. My friend Harrish rightly said this today. Read it and I know, a lot of you will agree....(of course, some of you will deny...but if you are being indifferent on the road when you see someone being molested or teased or raped, you are as much a part of this) - 

"Paai Laagu Pappaji... Main rape kitta!"

Arrest the parents. Excluding the pathological rapists, I firmly believe that rapists are made by bad parents. Better parenting, and an open culture, and not death penalty would reduce gory incidences like rape.
I agree. If you cannot bring up a kid with values and respect for human beings, men and women alike, it is the parents. You have no right to bring a child into the world if you cannot inculcate values in them. Why do you even pray for having a son? So he turns either into a rapist or someone who shuts a blind eye to when something like that happens? Why is Durga, Saraswati, Lakshmi or Parvati worshipped? How can that be? But yes, that is the truth. What will it take for us women in India to let go and be Kali instead? What will it take for men in this country to realise that some day, it will happen? It will be too late then. Too late. Why forget that women weild knives in the kitchen every day, they light a fire every day? 

Somya  Lakhani wrote this and I want to share it:
Today, something has changed inside me. I want to walk with a rickety wax candle in my hand till India Gate or Jantar Mantar or the PHQ. I want to walk, for I have had enough. I am not the lifeless entity fighting for survival in a hospital, I am not the one with marks on my face and rods thrust inside me. But I am still one of the victims. Everyday I am a victim.

And no, unlike a lot of people, I am not going to do a Delhi rant. No. This could have happened anywhere – the city, in my eyes, is inconsequential. You're allowed to disagree with me, I will respect your opinion. It's the people that disgust me – the rapists, the number of people who saw the semi-nude girl on the road who didn't cover her up probably, the cops who are happy that they have “successfully” nabbed the main accused, the TV reporters who leave no detail of the gruesome act to imagination and the politicians who are making this a battlefield for their own good. These people make my blood boil and I want to be part of the march to let them know that they have even converted me. I was the cynical person at home who thought no amount of walking and public show would change things. See, your attitude has even changed me?

However, what disgusts me the most is the fact that we all will forget it tomorrow. It would join the ranks of one of those many incidents that have happened in my city, my country, before. We are angry right now. Very angry, no doubt. But tomorrow something else will indulge us and we'll forget her and her pain.

I hope and pray she doesn't live. I hope she dies in that hospital and doesn't wake up to a society that doesn't value or respect her. A society that won't even let her take a bus at 9 pm. A society that will constantly remind her that she was raped. And I hope those six disgusting men (suggest another word, for they are not humans) do not get Capital Punishment. It'll be too easy on them, a peaceful death. They don't deserve that. They don't deserve feeling liberated. Torture them slowly, everyday and make them go through the agony she is going through. Kill them, everyday, every minute of their life.

The Mayans were right when they said the world will come to an end in 2012. 

They probably meant humanity.

Too many questions. Too many people afraid of being the solution. Too many preferring to be a part of  the problem. Too much quiet. Too many forgotten values. We have no conscience any more. We sit in classrooms, in lectures, in satsangs listening to stuff we never pay attention to. We have let go of our morals. Somewhere in this race for becoming a developed nation, we have degenrated into callous beasts and frightened twits who lack courage to take action, to do our bit. We watch this every day. A rape. An abuse. In our homes. Outside. No, waking at 4 am in the morning to pray does not absolve you.

We women, as much as the men are the culprits.We treat our children differently when they are growing up. We teach our daughters how to dress, how to curb our instincts, how to be the demure, a compliant weak woman when we grow up so we can find a man suitable enough to marry. We teach our daughters to cook, train them to ensure we please the opposite sex when we grow up by being obedient, by being chaste (beats me). We do not teach our sons to respect their sisters. We give them preferential treatment. We permit them to get what they demand for right from a smaller age. We do not teach them that women need to be respected. We do not teach them that their sisters need to be protected from men who are likely to abuse her. We do not teach them that it is not honourable to kill her because she seeks happiness. We do not teach them values of being a kind, thoughtful and compassionate human being. How does one expect a sea change overnight in a man after he has grown into an adult?

No, do not kill the girl child, not when she is in the womb, not when she is born. Kill the male children is more appropriate......"even better, kill the parents who want to kill girl children; have they ever wondered where they came from? It was a WOMAN who gave birth to them after all!" (as stated by a friend) Not that it is a solution but the outrage of it all hurts like hell, all the time. They are the ones who are growing up and killing women (and men) all over and over again...because those nightmares do not end. Not all men, however, thankfully are like that. You may end up with someone who will love you despite it all. But, your nightmares, they will come, to haunt you, even when you have put it all behind. Some nights, they will ravage your spirit again, seeking out your fears and tormenting you again. That is the reality a woman or a man who has been raped goes through each time another woman or man has been raped. 

We ask our girls, women to stay indoors. Why? Why should it be the women who needs to stay indoors? The man who has no ability to carry himself with a positive attitude and respect for women should be the one punished. I do not need to stay at home. I am not raping someone, or teasing, or molesting someone or abusing someone on the streets. The man is. Let him stay at home. Let him not venture out until he gets his senses right. We women especially are betrayed, by our own women and the men as well.

If you cannot bring up a son properly, please do not have one. If you cannot teach your child to be a man of values, courage and ethics, please do not carry them in your womb. If as a father, you cannot teach your son to respect a woman or another man and turn a blind eye to violation of their body and abuse, please go kill yourself. I have no expectations from a government that has laws protecting the man who abuses a woman or another man sexually and destroys their life. I have expectations from a society that professes to be developing. Perhaps, it is time a better way to curb this begins. If not for ours but for generation next at least. I am an Indian. I do not wish to ever be ashamed of being one. I am.

We live in a world that is never going to be ideal. Agreed. But, we can be the change.

If we cannot...we need to be afraid...very, vey afraid. 

Copyright@Sandy2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

Death and Life

There are days when one’s mind lingers on too many emotions that tend to overwhelm us. There arises a deep ache and slowly creeps in a twisted feeling in the pit of your stomach. Truth, there will always be days like that, where everything makes you too happy, or too sad, wrenches your heart or digs deep into spaces inside you that you wish you never went and are glad you don’t. Not frequently.

When you acknowledge death as the single most significant reality the desire to make the most of being alive becomes either pointless or completely significant. For me it’s more significant. It’s a journey towards the inevitable, like a stepping-stone onwards. A close brush with death does that for some. For some an out of body experience can assist you to visualize and not be afraid to die. Most people forget to live in the actual sense because they are afraid to die. When all the cards are on the table you have it all out, you are exposed and thus unafraid; because to lay all the cards on the table is either a courageous or an insane thing to do.

As we continue to grow and as each day passes by, we learn. We learn that all is never fair in life. The person who you expect never to let you down will let you down and you will learn. When your heart gets broken time after time, it will be harder, but you will bear it and survive and you will learn. You will fight with friends, you will drift apart, you will hug them when they need you, you will end up accusing them for things they didn’t and you will learn. You will laugh and then you will cry just as hard and you will learn.

You will learn that nothing ever is easy. You will learn that you can either live it and make something out of it or crib the rest of your life. When you know and acknowledge your life’s truth as much as the inevitability of death, you will learn to live. To live right. 
 
- Sandy

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Of Judges Judgment and Attitude

It is said ninety percent of one’s emotions is determined by how one interprets events to oneself. In our world, there is place for imagination, fantasy, dreams, ambitions, controversies, the adamant opinion and the free spirit exuberance that skims, titillates, teases, tempts, dances through the sense of sight to arouse all the others. A person who looks for a sense of propriety might as well stick to reading books that belong to the shelves of a child’s Moral Science classroom.

In any other place there is place for a sense of propriety but that space has to be shared with the inane musings of the creative mind of artists, people, everyone else around you. For those who do not acknowledge this for what it is, it sure is a tough survival, it’s lonely. But then, the only reason you would be talking to yourself is because you are the only one whose answers you accept. So, why is there such a fuss over the words or colours borne out of another person’s mind?

Dare with Class. While there is a place for all of indignant self-righteousness, there isn’t an acceptable place for those who step on other’s toes and seek attention by stepping on them. If one doesn’t understand a writer’s world, or the world of friendship, one should not step into it, nor seek to hit popularity charts or buy friends by way of stabbing someone one doesn’t like. It’s a choice eventually and a matter of perception. To dare is a form of courage, but even that does not call for the attention of critics for a Pulitzer, or a Grammy, or an Oscar or an Emmy or whatever, unless presented with class. Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge. Other’s just gurgle and think it’s a big deal. It’s like smoking a cigarette. If you pull all of it in acceptance, it’s a first puff burn but you get to get it all in and figure out what smoking is all about. If you do not pull it all in, you are not smoking a cigarette. You are only pretending to.

Be Honest to Yourself. People who seek an unknown audience and are anxious to improve the circumstances of their surroundings ought to begin from their humble selves. Sadly, pitifully, they choose to be concerned to improve the circumstances of their surroundings without being willing to improve themselves. Learning and growth, and for that matter education, in this institution called Life does not come without asking questions and seeking answers. If you do not seek, nor ask questions, you are sadly, already dead. And then, who are you to blame someone for your misfortunes, most of which never happened anyway but were simply assumed for want of getting attention one sought? Being judgemental and calling yourself righteous in the bargain is a sorry excuse. Who am I to judge? Why bother to be cleverly disguised as a responsible adult when all one wants to do is point fingers at someone else for seeking the kind of attention one has failed to get otherwise? Why crib and cry when the middle finger goes up in response? If you say something, stand for it. Forget world improvement until you can visualise your own turn signal first.

Be Positive. Thinking positively may not let you do anything but it will let you do everything better than negative thinking will. I think it was Zig Ziglar who said that. There never is a hopeless situation. Yes, there are plenty of hopeless attitudes. Most people would rather die than think; in fact they do so. Value friendship unconditionally. If you cannot stand by your friend, you are not one. Then, you are just messed up in your head about definitions of friendship. Perhaps, you meant acquaintance. There is a difference. Never prostitute the word to mean anything else. A friend is a person who knows all about you and still puts up with you and sometimes doesn't know anything about you but it doesn't really matter. Lots of things change in a person’s life and lots of things don’t.

Unlearn to Learn. Don’t let schooling get in the way of your education. In this full time school of life education does not begin or end in school. Every moment is a period in school. Some flunk and flunk till they understand. Other’s merely mug and score high marks but never understand. God loves everyone, but ever think about why he prefers “fruits of the spirit” over “religious nuts”? Growing old is inevitable…growing up, optional. Nobody gets a licence to kill, but when you are learning, even to drive, you get a learner’s permit. Being crazy is a way of life. It helps people to explore and not go insane. If you have figured out this statement, you will be fine. If you haven’t, you seriously need unlearning to learn. Mistakes are proof that you are trying. To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid and welcome learning in extremes of ways possible.

Life is tough. Nobody said life was going to be easy. Get a helmet. Live life. I want to live life, question it, shake it up and stir it to taste a perfect cocktail…I want to live life as in really live or die trying. It would be a waste otherwise. Every morning is the dawn of a new error and every sunset an overcoming of that error, not by doling out apologies but by an acceptance of one’s imperfect perfections. If you abandon the search for that what is not understood yet, that which is to be figured out yet, then you might as well settle for a good fantasy and live in a Utopia that gives you a perfect righteous world to live in. Learn to laugh at yourself. "Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for, they will never cease to be amused." Better to be amused than sulk with indignation and disappointment.

Lastly…if you do not like someone’s attitude, stop being with them! Stop whining!

- Sandy

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ponder This


Sometimes, when there is too much to say, nothing comes out. Perhaps, that is because the flow of thoughts is way faster than the speed of your fingers on the keyboard. Life seems to become like that sometimes. You try really hard to gather it all up and it keeps spilling over. We get restless. It is like being in a noisy retreat (yes, I did intentionally say ‘noisy retreat’) within yourself, the time when you go deep within and attempt to find your peace with life, with your own emotions and feelings that have a way with barging into your life and making you miserable most times. I am jubilant today. I am sad tomorrow. I am everything. I am nothing.

So, every so often, there is wisdom in letting go. When you are in a transit into something you have no clue about, you might as well appreciate what you see, feel, hear, touch, smell and make small attempts to begin to recognize these as tiny gifts that life throws your way. Eventually, let’s accept the fact that we are all looking for all sorts of answers. I have taken the time to find my answers and realize that the answers are all around me. I have become aware of these little nudges from what surrounds me and of the voices inside me. My gut tells me stuff I should pay attention to. When I ignore it, I walk right into trouble. Yes. I am a gut person. Perhaps. No. I haven’t found all the answers.

What is within and without together seems to form something realistic but in an abstract meta-physical sort of way. Okay. I know there would be a better way to put across what I mean to convey. For now, this is it. Umm…not really, I want you to think too…so yes, I play here, with words.  

Every decision we take in our professional life is like a calculated risk. We take a chance here. We forgo another there. We are meticulous about the attention we pay to little things because we would otherwise lose our job or mess up our career or our business. My question is, do we extend that same courage to our personal life? Why do we become such sissies about fighting for those we believe we desire the most in our life? Recall here the number of times you have kicked ass of people at work because they simply did not do what was required of them to do and it messed up your work. Recall the number of times you sat patiently explaining what you wanted, how it wasn’t working and what could be agreed upon going forward so it doesn’t happen again. Why do we do our jobs professionally and make good grades performance-wise and then treat ourselves and those we love like dirt in our personal life?

The number of what ifs that fill our heads with we want to deal with something personal is not even funny. If…if….if… Hypothetical situation, imagined outcomes, situations that are visualized and chances not taken. It all changes destiny. Our destiny. Do we take a call and dare or do we shelve it and let it rot until it degenerates, a relationship that dies its death because you really did not reach out and paid attention to it?

Ponder this!

- Sandy

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bounce

Bounce, bounce, bounce. The crux of the matter is that it’s not the ball that is interesting; it’s how you bounce it. Life's a lot like that. Sometimes you just bounce it lazily, like a stroll toward the hoop, lazy strides and an effortless basket and then you have it spinning like a top on the tip of your finger, you dribble tight, controlled, you move on random mode, you move and play in style. Basically it’s a ball of a ball. Alright, this is really stretched. The point was, you will make life the way you want it to be. It’s like drifting into a world of action, of romance, of tragedy and fun, of commas in the right places of beautifully worded sentences that transfix your sight onto wider horizons, take you through a fast paced thriller or a lazy summer sun.

So, where does it all really find reasoning? It’s the books you read, it’s the things you collect. Let me explain, relationships are like that. A book... you buy because you want to read it and have been waiting for that kind of a book. You make a friend and feel, well, here's someone I’ve been hoping I’d meet and soon you spend all your time with it...undivided attention, page after page, you sigh, you smile, you laugh, you marvel, you cry, lines that get embedded in your head, lines that blur, lines where you doze off and take a trip to dream land. You are on such an excited phase and then you finally turn the last page and know what the person is all about. Everything is shared and known. What really happens after that? You leave it on a bookshelf or perhaps introduce it to another friend of yours. The story is re-told and you share the book and you talk about it and a bond is formed.

Finally, it gets to rest on your bookshelf. What do you do with it then? Do you dust it every day? Do you open a page every now and then to re-run what's in it? Do you just leave it to gather dust until you need it again? Relationships are like that. They need to be dusted with care and looked after and nurtured beyond the first flight of reading. Life goes on and the books on your shelf remain. You lose some, some tear, some get exchanged for another, some lie there uncared for, like it’s become a part of your surrounding and even if you don’t really bother much about it, it’s still there...never mind the termites and the silk worms that eat into the pages, slowly erasing and destroying what was once a beautiful treasured sought after part of your life...or...is it still the way it was the day it came into your life, because you make it a part of your everyday life?

Bounce bounce, bounce,...play, read, do whatever, but always live with a sense of wonder and awe everyday...never take people for granted and do whatever you have to like there's no tomorrow...
because there isn't! 
 
Copyright@Sandy2012

Why are we so Afraid?

What is it that holds us together? What is it that makes us stop when we know what we are doing is right by our own convictions? Why do we need to explain everything? Why do we need to draw conclusions? How much time do we spend in running after money? How much time do we spend journeying within ourselves?

The revelation of what and who we are and how we can address our own spiritual needs is a journey that is full of awe, amazement and wonder. It is like getting under your own skin to know yourself, to try and understand what holds you together and what limitations we bind ourselves in by way of making rules all the time about almost everything. We are such an opinionated lot. We judge everything that comes to us. Among all the things we learn we seem to take a much longer time to learn to just be…to just feel, to just touch, see, hear, smell, taste without making a judgement about what we see, hear, touch, taste smell, feel. There is a purpose to everything in life; a purpose to you and me existing, a purpose to our being, to our possessing senses, to having a body.

Sometimes there are thoughts, long hours of daylight and darkness, of looking for reasons why we are drawn to some people. What is it that makes it work? It is as if time suspends and moves, thoughts confound and reasoning floods over. There is peace and then there is restlessness, emptiness and a void too deep to fill. Languages, I read, are what restricts people from sharing of knowledge. Would I believe that? Yes, come to think of it…if we don’t have knowledge of the ancient times, what happened then, what our beginnings were, it is not because it happened long ago. It is simply because we don’t know the language completely; the ancient language where all that symbolism stated everything. So, while we have preserved our findings from excavations for instance, we never really can interpret it all…or can we? There is a universal language of aura, of energies, of waves all around us that blends and ripples, only, we are too drowned in the noise of our daily material existence to think about it or even hear it.

Okay, I know I am not really talking about anything specific here. I am just musing, writing down thoughts that have been nudged gently from sleep to awaken and cultivate, move and absorb and develop. It seems to me as if each step I take is towards a point where the magic of the energies will stir and engulf me and I will know what to do to make my life more worthwhile than what it is now…and then on the other hand, I wonder if darkness is better than light. Is it? Sometimes I believe that…why? Ah well…if you are already in darkness, all you can do after that is move towards light. I have paths to tread upon, yet not ventured nor made.

Why are we so afraid to look within ourselves? 

Copyright@Sandy2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Day in 2006 in Lagos

 (An old post I found...)

Our daily life leaves us wondering for a few moments about a lot of things, sometimes totally insignificant, sometimes totally significant but something that we haven’t yet realised…ah well!

I went to my daughter’s room this morning - four snoozes later – and snuggled up to her like I do every morning and lingered there smelling her baby fragrance and wanting and wondering if I will ever be assailed again by such a heady thing again drawn from my own womb.(I’m still wondering…sigh!)

I start my prayers in the bath and I wonder if I’m doing right.

On my way to work, I sit in the passenger seat, my ipod chanted away my morning prayer (before the other music takes over) as I did the rounds of the prayer beads, thought at the same time about inane things in my life, watched the yellow commercial vehicles pack in people like sardines, wondering if I was right in doing so many things at the same time while it was probably right to just focus on the mantra I was chanting. I wonder if I am just being a hypocrite.

I found no traffic today and I wondered if I should text the other colleagues in my office to take the same route so they could also reach early…scrap it! I did not but I wondered.

I came close to the last flyover that I need to pass before my tiny red Picanto turns into the huge parking expanse. Before the road climbs, in the median between the two roads, there are a number of squatters who have been there for over 3 years I presume. I presume so, because I have seen them there for this period at least. So, there is this woman who has twin boys. I wonder what they do when it rains. Do they really have a place to sleep? I wonder.

Just as I begin to climb the flyover, there sit a bunch of twelve young boys eating their breakfast together. This is a daily event. The garbage truck, orange, cant-be-missed shade of orange continues to collect garbage. Under a tree sits a twenty-something girl, talking to herself and I wonder if she is being abused every day, if her daily existence depends on how she makes herself available to the men around or if she is affected by AIDS and thus left there to fend for herself…I wonder if she has eaten.

I reach the end of the parking lot; get off my car, switching off my ipod, disconnecting it from the charger and adapter, having finished my morning smoke and cross the road, up the stairs into a fourteen floor glass building. The security greets me and I smile back and wish them all. It is a daily routine. I wonder if they do it because they are pleased to see me or if it is a means of getting to be friends with me so I can accept another CV for a relative or friend. I wonder…

I get off on the ninth floor and open the office door. I am usually the first to reach the office and thus have the key to the main door. I am a stickler for punctuality and hate myself when I am late. I wonder if it is such a bother for those who never are on time. I wonder if I would be an easier going person if I took the liberty of being late deliberately. I hold the thought for half a second, shake out of it…but, I wonder.

Three things I realised and try to imbibe in myself every day and I do just the opposite. Well, most times. I try not to have expectations, not to judge and not take people for granted or be taken for granted. At work, I achieve only the last of the three. I expect otherwise bright candidates to come up for interview. I judge, analyse, shred them thoroughly till I get one that fits the bill. I wonder if I can ever get to do my job and at the same time adhere to these things. I wonder and then I think it’s not for me to wonder because I am paid to do that. I feel okay for a while…and then I wonder.

I log in, check emails; official, personal, read through blogs, comment, take interviews, discuss and investigate problems, squeeze in time for breakfast or coffee, chat, work and personal, multi-task like crazy, and then wonder if I only worked, how much time would it take me to finish all of it? I spend eleven to twelve hours officially in the office and wonder…

I wonder next if I should spend forty minutes making my daily report or am better off using that time to finish off something else. I eventually do it and get the hell out of the office, glad to be through with another day, satisfied that I have earned my pay. I take off my ID card, the lapel pin on my jacket stays, go down the lift breathe air and then breathe nicotine and let go. I wonder if it was a good day, if…ah well…I wonder.

The Driver takes off from the dark desolated parking lot; I can smell the weed in the air, squatters everywhere smoking up their drudgery into the air. I think, will my luck run out today? Is it my day to be robbed or mugged? I pass by. Sometimes I am stopped by ruffians. I share my Benson and move on. I wonder if it was the Benson that did the trick or they simply think I am not worth the trouble. I wonder about the stories I hear of the number of people who have got mugged. I thank God in that moment and wonder if there will be traffic on the road. I wonder…

My daughter’s nanny calls. We go through the routine of what-will-I-cook-for-dinner what-did-she-have-for-lunch and decide the menu for dinner. That done, my ipod hums the tune to match my mood and off I go to pick my friend at the nearby island and we sit at the parking lot, smoking, and cracking jokes, bitching and getting the general frustrations out. We are still sober then. I pack off the driver with transport money. I wonder then about the traffic. When it clears reasonably I gun the engine and we drive home, relatively blazed, blazing across a thirteen kilometre bridge towards home talking inane things I wish I remembered the following day. So, on we go and I wonder if I will remember…among the more elevated wondering she and I do on a day to day basis.

I drop her five houses away from mine down the street and call a friend to inform that I have reached home safely. I climb the stairs, chirpy, dazed, and tired and I hear a delighted squeal as the door opens…I wonder if the day really happened.

I am home. 

- Sandy

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Day After


Ganesha, patron of arts and sciences, deity of intellect and wisdom has arrived at our homes, in our street, in our locality and in the city and country. What a versatile God, who sings, dances, writes, chants, plays, fights like a hero, being an obedient son, being a family person. In Mumbai especially, this is a day when irrespective of how much you would have annoyed someone, they come together to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. Oh wait, no. We do not come together anymore. We compete, for noise, size, donations, d├ęcor, dances, shows, and item numbers, what have you.

Was it really like this when it all began? Why did people celebrate it in the first place? Lord Ganesha’s department in the bigger scheme of things is to place and remove obstacles, lord of letters and learning, lord of intelligence, wisdom and intellect. (Do not confuse this with knowledge. I think Goddess Saraswati has a position in that.) He holds supports and guides people through life. I have to patiently explain this so as to get a macro perspective on this conveyed to you before I say more.

No Hindu home is without an idol or a picture of Lord Ganesha. No prayers are chanted from ancient scriptures without invoking his name and beseeching blessings from him.

Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated mostly in homes, quietly in prayer, giving free meals and welcoming one and all. It was Lokmanya Tilak who transformed this festival into a public event. So, what was being celebrated quietly in homes came out into the streets so as to bridge the gaps of resentment that people feel through the year. This was 1893. There was a reason for it. There was a purpose. It was to bring together the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins so that India could be free and the movement unified different castes of people so as to achieve that objective of a free nation.
 
Now, let me get to my question. Are we doing this right? For the purpose this started for? For bringing together a diverse lot of people so they can all unify and be the change? No. We are so not doing that.

Let me begin…

Here are two pictures of Mumbai’s most revered deities. These pictures were taken by me at different points of time this year in two different locations in Mumbai.


This picture is of a headless Sai Baba. How did I make that out? By the posture we have so deeply embossed in our heads of the special way he sat. So, a headless much-revered Guru, Spiritual Guide, God (whatever the relationship between you and Sai Baba is) is sitting in the receding and approaching waters of the Arabian Sea at Apollo Bunder. I won’t say much…but I think we need to think back about what we are doing. 
 


This second picture was taken at Carter Road a few days ago. It is a statue of Lord Ganesha. A statue that did not wash away. It was built with a lot of love; it was as solid as they make it. Now, a year later (I am presuming here), the statue is an integral part of the Carter Road embankment. It sits watching a swamp overgrowth, strewn with plastic (that will take more than 500 years to degrade), full of crows and ravens…Don’t even get me started. Does he wonder at the irony of it all?

I had earlier mentioned why this public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi started in the first place. Now, let us see how effectively we are celebrating it. No, no pictures here…look out of your window, yes, out onto the street and see it live. This is happening now. You don’t need me to feed images for this. You see it around you.

We bring home our most favourite God into our homes and vicinity with a lot of love. Before you step inside with Lord Ganesha, do you pause to look around you, at what needs attention as a human being to another human being and…oh well, all living beings?

The God of Arts and Science, dons a garb painted on him with poisonous chemicals, probably painted by a child who earns his living out of it or maybe not even that. My God of learning, wisdom and intellect arrives and I chant prayers, seeking his blessings to be wise, intelligent and blessed. Quietly staring with hungry eyes is a child that does not even afford an education, is working overtime and perhaps will never get out of his hell-hole. My God of obstacles removes my obstacles by extending his hand of grace through other people who are better off than me. But when it comes to the turn of the lesser accepted people who believe in him and pray to him as well (in their quietude) and my intellect begins to show me how I can do my bit to help my God grant these people their prayers, I choose to turn the other way.

I, a lesser mortal who believes that I can make a difference, spend all of what could be used for betterment, on the size, beauty and grandeur of a Ganesha that will win the competition. Did we really please our God? Did we really open our hearts to welcome goodness of spirit, love, compassion and kindness and be better human beings? Or…

Did we get trapped in the web. Jealousy. Hatred. Competition. Waste. Theft. Cheat. Mean attitude.

Did we indeed? 
 
- Sandy2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Interview

Six years of working in Human Resources has been a time of extreme emotions and feelings. You cannot not go through some really funny but frustrating moments. Here is one about an evening when I was interviewing (with three other colleagues who did not ask a single question) pilots for an airline. I am sharing this little piece I had written later that evening. The year is 2007.

This prospective candidate has already cleared his first interview. Comments of the First Panel of interviewers grade him as Very Good, Excellent and Good (whatever happened to Fair, Average???) Alright I'm a stinker when it comes to interviews but then if one is interviewing someone who is going to take people up in the air every single day one can’t be too careful and ten times over.

He is overweight. All my illusions and previous visions of smart good looking fit pilots...sigh! He walks in, unsure and stands uncomfortably for about ten seconds before he decides he has to sit down. I have two other panel members who stare at me. I roll my eyes (cover it up real quick) and then proceed to ask him to tell us about himself. His psychology sheet is in front of me. The reflection ain't too great and he blabs to reconfirm all our fears.

How many years of flying experience do you have?
22. (I raise my eyebrows) 22 years.

When was the last time you flew an aircraft?
November 2006

What Airline do you work for?
Ah...umm...Sosoliso...you know, the airline got grounded. (We stare at him)

Isn't that when they grounded... I mean when you last flew?
Yes, but I wasn't flying the plane that crashed (Lord...would he be sitting here alive if he was?)

Can I see your log book?
He hands over a thick log, green, worn, faded along the edges
I flip open the pages. The over-writing is frequent. I look up. His flying licence has expired.

You don't fill this log everyday do you?
Umm...(he shuffles and has the how-do-you-know look)

Well? (more shuffling...I can hear his shoes squeak)
Once a week. I write it down in a piece of paper and fill it in once a week.

What if you lost it?
Ah!(he relaxes with half a smile playing on his lips) I always can go to the office, they have records. I update mine by checking theirs.

How many accidents have you been in?
(It was a general question really, like even a bike, car or fire accident .I did not say air accidents)
About two...it was not my fault...he goes on to explain why it wasn't his fault...never mind the fact that those two aircrafts never took off again.

And so it goes...for another twenty minutes

Tell us about your family?
I have eight kids...only two wives ( we are all trying very hard here to keep a straight face)...is not much...my father had eight wives and 27 children.

The three of us make noise. I clear my throat. The one on my right coughs. The one on my left finds it appropriate to sneeze.

Tell me three strong points you have that make you fit for the position applied for.
Oh yes...I have 22 years of experience and I like meeting people and I have connections with the government (which incidentally has changed because of the elections though I don't see the connection here with flying)

Tell me three of your weak points.
I don't have any. I like women (he stares at me, I burn him with one of my poker stares...more fumbling...) Its not a bad thing.

I sigh. He sees it on my face that he's lost it.
Madam, please...try me out (huh!)...I am fit for the job...I can do anything.

I raise my eyebrow. Anything?
I beg Madam...I am good.

Both my other panel members look to me for closure and indicate they won’t be able to hold the laughter anymore. By now, it’s a volcano...waiting and almost erupting.

I look up, take a deep breath...not quite knowing whether to be amused or annoyed.

Mr (so and so)...This was your second round of interview. Should you get short-listed beyond this point, you will hear from the recruiting agency that sent you. Thank you. It was good to see you.

Madam, I beg...
I stare. I smile genially (oh please please please get out now before we all crack up).

Have a good weekend I say.

He gets up, bends half a knee in curtsy (o mi gawd), stands straight, turns and walks out of the room.

Pilot! I'm picking my phone to blast the first panel of interviewers. I have five more candidates to go through...it’s six in the evening! 
 
- Sandy

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Of Dreams and Destiny

Sometimes, there is an attempt to twist the tale around. This was an attempt to twist the end of Romeo and Juliet into A Midsummer Night's Dream. With no offence or attempt to be a step ahead of Shakespeare or Charles Lamb, here is a take on what could have happened...

Bad news, which always travels faster than good, now brought the story of his Juliet's death to Romeo, at Mantua, before the messenger could arrive, who was sent from Friar Laurence to apprise him that these were mock funerals only, nothing but the shadow and representation of death, and that his dear lady lay in the tomb but for a short while, expecting when Romeo would come to release her from that dreary mansion. Just before, Romeo had been unusually joyful and light-hearted. He had dreamed in the night that he was dead (a strange dream that gave a dead man leave to think), and that his lady came and found him dead, and breathed such life with kisses in his lips, that he revived, and was an emperor! - Charles Lamb

The funeral was over, and all of Verona had paid homage to the departed souls of the two star-crossed lovers who had died, and left behind the two reconciled families, the Capulets and the Montagues.

Juliet rose from her grave and walked to where they had laid Romeo to rest. She showered the sweetest of kisses on his lips and he awoke to find himself alive and with his beloved.

"Arise Romeo, my sweet love, there is no time to spare. We must rush forth from the gloom of this grave to better climes before we are discovered."

Juliet held her husband's hands and led him to a corner to meet the two kindly souls who had helped them find their happiness. Titania and Oberon stood with their attendants and the spry Puck.

Romeo and Juliet were led from an opening in the wall into a forest where chirping birds made sweet music. Tiny wings fluttered and the fairies were spirited in merry chase of each other in reception to the couple.

"Come my children," said Oberon, leading Romeo to the centre of the forest, "there is a gift for thee and thy charming bride."

He waved his hand over the clearing in the forest and there appeared a castle bedecked in finery.

"O fond Romeo," declared Oberon, "thou are to be the emperor, ruling the forest that I ruled for aeons. O sweet lady, adoring as thou art in the eyes of Titania, and of whose eyes doth Romeo say hath the peril of twenty swords, will be empress, as befitting thy praiseworthy carriage in life."

Romeo fell to his knees and bowed to Oberon, "Thou art too kind sire!" He turned to Titania, where she stood with Juliet, and gallantly kissed her elfin hands, too overcome by gratitude to gaze up to the kind fairies. Juliet stood silent, much too prevailed upon by emotion to speak, tears sparkling unshed in her dark eyes.

Then, Puck leapt and made merry music, received his new king, not revealing that he preferred the old, laid a banquet, surpassing all bountiful spread, while in a twinkle, Titania and Oberon disappeared.

Romeo and Juliet ate the sumptuous meal and decided to explore their domain. Halfway through the leisurely walk, gentle draughts played lullabies and bit by bit drifted the two to the land of slumber. Puck, awaiting his moment to bring his much-loved Oberon and gentle Titania to the forest, was unable to control his urge to play a trick...

In a trice, a fairy was transformed into Rosaline... Puck directed her to wake the two lovers while he poured onto Romeo's sleeping lids Love in Idleness, the juice invoking passion, he had kept with him.

"Romeo, my treasured love, speak to me, I beg thee. Do not lie there in the arms of Juliet and scorn my love so..."

Romeo and Juliet were roused by Rosaline's utterances thus. Romeo opened his eyes to find Rosaline in front of him. Her loveliness inebriated him and filled him with longing for her affections. Juliet watched in dismay, and Puck remained aside watching Juliet's face, as she saw her husband's love snatched by a damsel she had seen at the banquet in her father's house and now recognized as Rosaline.

Blinded by the magic potion, Romeo bent down and took Rosaline's hands to his lips, pledging his fidelity to none but her. He swore his love and allegiance and stood to ask her if he could drink from her lips the sweet wine they promised. Rosaline did not refuse him. Romeo showered kisses on Rosaline's fair face while Juliet fought hard to keep from falling, thinking in desperation of the betrayal of her affections. She found her love for Romeo being obscured by her rising ire.

"Why dost thou hurt me thus?" cried Juliet desperately, " thou doth pierce my soul with thy cruel actions."

Romeo turned to Juliet as if he had seen her for the first time.

"'Twas a mistake to love thee," he said. "Rosaline stole my heart and I love her more than my life." He then turned to face Rosaline.

"I do profess my desire to thee. No prettier flower hast bloomed in this bower than thee, O fair Rosaline." He took her arms. "O Rosaline! Sweeter than honey, purer than the lilies that grow in this forest, I love thee so!"

Juliet sat down and buried her face in her hands...the tears began to flow like a torrent unleashed. She could not accept as truth that her love would wound her thus. She lamented over her lost love, seeming all the more endearing for it. She cried out, "O Oberon and dear Titania, why didst thou leave me thus! My love forsakes me for another and I know naught what I should do!"

In an instant appeared Oberon and Titania, heeding her lament.

"Fair maiden, why dost thou appear heart-broken?" asked Titania. Juliet was relieved to see them and her gaze went across from them to where Romeo made a fool of himself with Rosaline.

"My lord!" Titania addressed her beloved. "Should thee not chase this maiden's sorrows away? I do summon up the potion that had made me love an ass so."

Oberon realized that Puck had been up to mischief. Sure enough, the sprite appeared by his side. He bowed low and addressed his king, "My lord! Joyful am I to find myself in thy presence once again. Bid me to serve thee, for I am your most humble slave and thou my master."

Titania and Oberon soothed a distraught Juliet to no avail. She felt that nothing could ever console or comfort her of his love again. Oberon rebuked Puck, telling him to explain to Juliet what he had done. While admitting his role in the enfolding drama, Puck showed no repentance for his action. After a great deal of dithering, he confessed to Juliet the reason for his deed.

Oberon assured Juliet that he would bring Romeo to his senses, and chased away Rosaline, who flitted away and disappeared. A lost Romeo wonders whither Rosaline has gone. Oberon asked him to close his eyes and poured the antidote on his heavy lids...

Romeo rose, as if from a dream. Seeing Juliet crying in Titania's arms shattered him. Ashamed, he berated himself for his lack of sensibilities. Kneeling before his distressed wife, looking beseechingly into her dark pools, he lamented, "It would be better for me to die than be the cause of thy distress. Never can I forgive this treacherous spirit that didst sorrow thy heart so!"

Juliet looked at Romeo with regret. "Romeo! Thou didst pierce my heart with a thousand arrows. There lies a stone that wearies my mind and sinks my heart into the deepest of oceans. Why didst thou, even in your dream, think of Rosaline when thou hast sworn thy life to me! Such is my sorrow, such is the pain thou bestow on me that it shall torment my heart for all my life. Whereof was born such thoughts I am to know. Such a fool it makes of me to be pained so!"

She then proclaimed: "My life had been lived finer when I died piercing my heart with thy knife, knowing that thou were mine everlastingly in death."

A rush of wind swirled them together, speeding them to their graves in Verona.

Oberon and Titania looked at each other, speechless for a moment.

Titania wiped away a stray tear and broke the silence. "They were bestowed life so they could live and love each other eternally. O king! Why did they bring this upon themselves so?"

Oberon mused.

"Perhaps life bestows opportunities on lovers
To make or mar their lives.
Bountiful did we make their world but
Thus was planned their end
Destiny decreed it
Whence methinks they would have made a fine husband and wife!"

Perhaps...

Copyright@Sandy2005

Pampered by Life

You know Life has decided to pamper you when...

...warm winds gently caress, softly whisper sweet endearments in your ears

...time ticks like the grandfather clock in your mind in a music of its own

...the mind sees, analyses and reminiscence a life replete with miracles

...every minute moulds you to what you are

...lying back in the sunshine you enjoy the breeze

...affection nuzzles at you, blooming in the flowers springtime brings

...you endorse upon your life your presence

...unlooked for, unforeseen, unintended...perchance you find love in an unlikely place

...fate hurls two people together, to snatch, to give moments in time that lasts

You know. Then.

- Copyright@Sandy2012

What are you saving yourself for?

"If you are not HERE, what are you saving yourself for?"

I have to thank Kunal Mithril for this sentence he shared last evening while he read out a page or so from the book Radical Acceptance by Tara Brack. And I know I will read this one. Soon.

And why...Why is it so hard to be in the now? This too shall pass is what we say...and if it will, why not make it worth the love and affection and goodwill we have to share? When Kunal said this, I dwelt upon the words, it lingered and made me realise just how close this was to how I am trying to live my life. I also recollected a couple of quotes that define me as the person I am and how I look at life. I pick on one today.

The first one is by Marianne Williamson that goes like this - “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I did not read this quote. I actually heard it as a dialogue in a film for the first time. I recall the film. However, the film, at all future points in my life was irrelevant. These lines, however, remained with me. I lingered upon it and my soul savoured it, tasting the beauty and life that emanated out of it. We are indeed so afraid of what someone else will think of us, whether we will be able to handle being gorgeous as human beings that we stunt our own growth and repress ourselves all our lives. Why does it become so difficult to be kind, love, kiss, hug, smile, say ‘I love you’ when you really mean it, do little things that so cross our minds but we never get around to doing it because some part of our head tells us, hey, stop, are you being funny, do you know how weird it looks? Bottom line is who are we really not to be?

What stops us? Agreed, it feels out of place. However, it is just the beginning that will feel out of place. Did you not feel out of place, learning to speak a new language? It is akin to that. Assume you are learning a new language. It may feel strange for a while, people may look at you a little weirdly…the question is, do you want to be? If you do, you will learn this beautiful new way of life no matter how much others around you think you are suddenly behaving differently. There is a perspective to this. You are, in fact, discovering a beautiful side to you that you did not discover. Please do not confuse this with the material aspect of your life. I am talking soul and you in your body, mind, heart and soul here. What others think of this is really irrelevant. Those who love you deeply will encourage you in your journey. It is still your journey. Those who thrive in fear will look at it differently. That, my friend, is their problem, not yours. 
 
Either ways, think about it! Who are you not to be? What are you saving yourself for? Especially when your NOW is the one that really is HERE with you. 
 
Copyright@Sandy2012