Saturday, May 31, 2008
(From one of my favourite poets/singers/personalities - Jim Morrison, of the Doors)
Shake dreams from your hair
My pretty child, my sweet one.
Choose the day and choose the sign of your day
The day's divinity
First thing you see.
A vast radiant beach in a cool jeweled moon
Couples naked race down by it's quiet side
And we laugh like soft, mad children
Smug in the wooly cotton brains of infancy
The music and voices are all around us.
Choose they croon the Ancient Ones
The time has come again
Choose now, they croon
Beneath the moon
Beside an ancient lake
Enter again the sweet forest
Enter the hot dream
Come with us
Everything is broken up and dances.
Friday, May 30, 2008
(Intro: There are times in my life that I would really not have to do much except write, especially for myself. I begin the day with you, sometimes. I also end the day with thoughts of you. This was written with a lot of you in my mind, I think.)
The car is on the track – swerving amidst the grind and the grunge. The village is swept clean by the conservationist but the city is hot and humid with the sweat of young minds and the dirt from the river. The gold coin needs more fuel – that manna for the engine and me. The road is like a black seething river – polluted by the wheels of the gold coin. The gold coin becomes the flash of lightening that possesses the river and thirst for water is quenched just like I am full of fuel.
There are new wares to be sold in the city and there are postures to be hung – postures are strange and unbecoming but so full of regurgitated angst. Angst is like fuel for it blocks the mind of progress. Fuel – that manna that is thrown up to the sky by the sea that is reluctant to share. Will those that keep the fuel for themselves share the fortunes of the city? Fuel – that manna brings more gold coins to the city. The baby rocking in the cradle cries for the gold coin is careening down the road without a care.
The television screams out news of price hikes. I am smiling now for I will be full of fuel. Fuel – that divine liquid that pollutes the city and keeps me crying for more. The by- product of fuel is sold in markets that bring more lucre. Plastic is turned into wares to be sold and bought but the degradable is lost now in the fog of fuel. Wares from the villages are becoming scarce and the market becomes a trading place for plastic.
The learned try to infuse the air of democracy but the city is tired of talk just like I am. The fog of fuel has contaminated the minds of the city dwellers and democracy is lost in the process. Talk is cheap on the streets but fuel is not. The price is higher than the city can afford yet I am happy being full of fuel.
A man of fame and policy is shot dead in a nearby island – the island has been in turmoil. There will be more turmoil to follow for the man was the island's hope. Hope is burning in a shallow lamp for the city and for me. It is often swept asunder by the people's war and the war for fuel.
The gods are angry at the city for the rains are patchy and warm winds blow away the monsoon. There will be shortages soon but not only for fuel. Shortages will create hunger and more men for the people's war and the war for and of fuel. The man of God brings blessings for the family. He ties them together with a string and tradition is kept in tact.
The fog of fuel is slowly taking with it the age-old traditions that have bound the city. Democracy will thrive but so should tradition - hand in hand with the gold coin? The gold coin that has maimed will be driven for show. But the man of God comes walking on his bare feet. He does not have a gold coin to show but he is armed with tradition more powerful than the wheels that tear. I am happy though for I am full of fuel – that manna that is potent for me but not for the city.
The chimney sweep used to make me think of a 'wholesome' life. it is funny how we interpret words for ourselves and others. After I reached some levels of maturity, I began to reassess the idea of being whole. No pun intended!
I have been fortunate to have quite a few opportunities thrown my way - work, travel, study, vocational stuff, even art. As I try and figure out the next best steps forward, I am starry-eyed sometimes and, also, quite dazed. Surely not? You would not believe me even if I gave you the facts and figures. I am in a stupor of confusion and delight. I cannot, however, make up my mind given present conditions. My mind has, usually, not been taken into consideration on many, many decisions and events that effect my life. In fact, neither have I - the whole that I am and the cog that I am a part of.
The wheel analogy is very symbolically important in our culture(s). Continuity, forwardness, clock-wise and bearing the heavy burdens of labour, love and other stuff.
As a child of a community that thrived with people and, perhaps, for people, I am still a thinking person that values community, people, thinking - essentially. No jokes on the Neanderthals this time. I'm serious!
So, for those of you who are reading this blog and/or give a rat's ass - where am I at as a thinker?
The car slivers down the tar road slowly but carefully - careful not to hurt and be hurt in return. It is a day of rest. The city rests peacefully and the road is half empty. Sounds of blaring horns and screeching gold coins do not reach my ear. I hear the twitter of a chirping bird and the giggle of a girl child touches me softly. Fish in a pond – the water is green with slime. I am waiting for my manna just like the fish.
There is talk of the city that is driven by show. Pretensions will always hurt just as the gold coin has been hurt time and again. The thick smog of grandiosity smells like fuel. It emanates from the mind of the shallow just as fuel is gorged up from the earth. Fuel – that black slime that keeps me yearning for more.
The great man of God breathes his last in a faraway city. Crowds throng to bid him farewell. His earthly remains are paraded just like his legacy. He was a man of faith but is faith enough? I cling to my dreams of a better tomorrow. Tomorrow – when I will be full of fuel. Fuel – that manna that brings disease but makes me feel complete.
The radio blares more news – adjustments in the stock market will create panic. There is trading and trials but who is the winner? The city that rests peacefully today will violently awake tomorrow. Cars will jam in the roads that bear the burden of their wheels. The gold coin has trampled, torn and maimed but the drivers remain smiling. The fish get restless with the fog of fuel and I will feel complete.
There is news of a city nearby that has been wiped clean of the fog of fuel. Clean and clear, the air is hot but the heat is of nature. I am waiting for more news that will spell doom for the city but not for me. I will be full with fuel – that manna that is unnatural for the city but not for me.
The gold coin is the show and the go – it slithers like a snake but it tramples like a foot. Fuel – that glorious manna that keeps my stomach gnarled and begging for more. The TV show brings knowledge to the fore – knowledge that has been passed from the ages just like fuel – that manna that is spewed up from the earth just as knowledge has been regurgitated for the young.
Insight will shine just like the gold coin but it will not trample but bring justice for all. Progress is a double-edged sword for it brings more fuel yet will bring light to the dark city and wisdom for you and me. Fuel and wisdom – will they keep me hungry for more?
I am full of fuel today but when will rest come for the city and me? Rest is easy for the driver but not for the trampled.
The driver is smiling for all to see for his gold coin is his toy and my full belly will ache again tomorrow. I am smiling too for I see that the gold coin will drive again tomorrow. Fuel and wisdom – they should make the city thrive not thick with soot. Wisdom is shining in the distance just as it is brought to light on TV and fuel will keep the roads dark again.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
The car careens. It is early morning and the fog has lifted. This is the fog of winter and not the fog of fuel. There are a few gold coins gleaming on the road but not many. The city shines with morning dew and the sweepers are busy at work. I sigh but I am not coughing. I am full.
There was more anger on the streets – violence begets violence. The price of fuel has gone up. The students rise in protest but I am happy that I will not be hungry for fuel – that manna thrown up from the earth. There is more anger on the news – the radio and the television blare and spew speculation and contempt. Will the city ever be free from fuel – that manna that makes them angry and me full?
We pass the river. It meanders through the city like a watchful snake. The river is dark and dirty like fuel. The city and its people have polluted the water, which is sacred. It is the manna of life that the people have infected with their greed and grime. The orange seller sits by the road and sells plump fruit. He is unaware of the anger for fuel.
Time is ticking like a bomb and the watch repairman repairs the watch. He is giving the city more time. More time to think and judge and learn so that the lessons of yesterday will not be the realities of today. Time is of the essence but does the city respect it? It has contaminated time just like the river and the bomb ticks slowly away.
The leader in a distant land proclaims his vision for the city and me. The prices will rise and the city will be dark and hungry. Ownership – the word is alien in the city but not in the hills and beyond. The hills are green and lush and the people know how to till the land. The land is potent but not in the city. The city has become dry and so have I.
A famed lady in a nearby land is dead. She was the mistress of glamour and progress. There are many women of progress in the city but they are still trampled by the city and me. The women in the hills revolt against the people's war. They revolt for their children's sake. But the war rages on fueled by the city and me.
There are new strands of thought in the city but will they be allowed to speak? Speak now for all to hear before you are trampled by the gold coin. Wisdom is great and wisdom will shine. The gold coin should not be allowed to drive over these words of courage and progress. But I am slowly slipping into hunger for fuel – that manna that begets violence and rejuvenates me.
My driver is nervous for he may not drive the gold coin for all to see. He is the body that is the product of the city. He drives and tramples and pollutes the river as do I. Yet there is hope in me for the city, for him and for me. He seems like a child with a little toy. The gold coin is his toy that was snatched in his childhood. And fuel is the water that he could not drink for it was snatched just like the toy.We reach the garage, nervous just like the city for time is ticking for the city and me.
(Note: The city I live in is very unique. Some of that has rubbed off on me and my friends. I hope someday to have it all together and show you why.)
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The car jerks forward. White buses screech to a grinding halt as the convoy moves. My driver crosses the lane and gets a loud shout. He is impatient but happy that he is driving. The gold coin shines and tells the story of fuel and me. I am impatient too for there is much to see.
The palace is white with lime coated paint. The city is now dark again not white like the palace. The palace is the home of the government – that body that propels the gold coin and me. Fuel may be found in the earth. There is speculation. Who will sell it and who will pay? Will I be full always or will I still need assurance from the body for that fuel may be for some and not for me.
The radio and the television blare news about the tidal wave. Water and the sea become dark like fuel – that manna, that glorious oil that calls me. People are dead and lost to the sea. Hope is dying but there are some stories of survival and glee. Reconstruction, rehabilitation, renewal – the body redeems the pledges that were made of new life to those who have lost their loves to the sea.
Deep in the earth is the fountain of fuel – that manna that becomes one with water. Is it fuel or water that the sea throws up? Water is for them but not for me. Fuel is for the gold coin and me but there is always need for water to sit and be. Gnashes on the body made by the force of the water and blood gushes out. The sea reclaims the land that was snatched from it.
I hear the news of people power and people wars. A war has come to an end in a distant land and a leader is elected in another. There is hope for democracy but is there hope for me? I hear more news – this time a man of God is indicted and punished for the world to see. It is an example of justice, justice for you and me.
The convoy ends in a dirt road. The gold coin is now hidden in the midst of houses and horns. The road is not ridden with tar but it caresses the gold coin and me. I yearn for fuel but I see that hunger begets hunger. Children are playing on the road. Laughter is beautiful for it begets more for them and me.
I laugh a throaty gurgle and it is replicated in the music that gushes on the radio - sounds of laughter and sounds of pain. I am hungry and it is a cry for fuel – that manna that seems like water but water it could never be. The driver is angry for the road has deserted him. He can no longer drive the gold coin for all to see.
We reach the tar road again. Now we are on familiar territory. My driver smiles and caresses the gold coin. But I am nervous for hunger is whining inside me. Half full and half empty – is that all I will ever be? The city churns with fuel as do the gold coin and me. The car reaches the garage but I will never reach fullness. I am always hungry for fuel – that manna which drives the city and me.
(PS. As a blogger, I am relying on the discretion of the readers for some compliments.)
I was so 'into' my study of literature that I forgot about the more humdrum realities that we face everyday. I fell madly in love with TS Eliot and almost became his promoter. The Hollow Men should have been followed with a sequel - wizened women.
So all that men are from here and women are from there stuff makes me think. Yes!
Within the confines of our own sensibilities or lack thereof, there is one crucial factor that makes me want to smile. People. My life as a blogger is interspersed with almost surreal musings. They remain the mainstay of my intellectual life apart from other lesser evils.
I soaked up literature with gusto. Now I feel the need to smile. Again and again. The lord is my shepherd. I never fully knew where my literary studies would take me. There wasn't quite the whiz surroundings for gainful employment back then. And then, I got hooked to the germ of my present pursuits. They don't pay me well. They never did.
Life as a person of sensitivity makes me angry sometimes. And also very, very smug and cruel. Are you with me here? There used to be a time when I chose to follow the road that seemed well-traveled. You know, peer pressure and all. There were other considerations too. Now I like Conrad even more.
In our relations with ilk and others, there is a mountain of revelations. Believe me, I should know. But none that really shook me that much. We were all fed with stuff. Then, suddenly I woke up and said to myself - you have got to be kiddin' me!
"I grow old, I grow old. I wear the bottom of my trousers rolled."
The interplay of light and dark is very fascinating to me. We have dwelt on it for years and years. But eventide kinda makes it all ok. What do you think?
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
A car rests. After slivering up and down, rest is welcome. I am thick with soot and the fog of fuel. I am resting but painful in the awareness that I am hungry. Fuel – that manna for the stomach.
The radio blares and we all listen. A corrupt man awaits judgment. I am pleased for justice will shine. Bright young hopefuls are coming forth to tell their story. It is a story of hope. Yet I am wary – my fate is still untold. They tell their story of books and of learning. I am learning as they tell it. I learn but will I remember?
Warm sounds and songs of peace are sung. The road is meandering towards that white dove that we all want in our land. My land is cold and hungry just like my stomach. The radio blares songs of peace yet it is elusive. The war has captured many and shorn more. I read in a magazine that more lucre will do more damage.
Trade is important but the land is insecure just as I am. Guns and bullets are traded and so are men and women. A woman is going to her home of learning – progress is bursting. The woman speaks of dreams and hopes for herself and her land. I speak of dreams for myself and for my stomach. The woman will learn and teach some more who will do the same. Let them learn and teach again.
The stomach gnarls and I suck it in. The garage is dark but warm. It smells of fuel – that manna from the earth. Distilled into its present form, it spurts out of the container. It is that oil that propels the gold coin and me. The gold coin is driven and my driver is smiling from inside. He has driven the gold coin for all to see. He is driving for all to know. The gold coin drives him and becomes his show.
There is a strike today. The tired road gets rest, as does the gold coin. They are walking like they used to. The city looks friendly now not crowded and dark like when the gold coin is driven. People seem happier, they do not need fuel – that manna for the driven. The picture is warm and welcome. They get exercise and their stomachs are not heavy. But I am not full.
The cold is warm but not sooty. Fresh dew has fallen and they touch it with their bare hands and feet. The tires of the gold coin do not trample it. That sacred liquid is transparent. Fuel is not – that tasteless liquid for the driver and me. The radio again – the strike is for the war and by the war. Yet it is juxtaposed with that peaceful melody. There is hope for the land but is there hope for me?
The dog plays with my body. It takes a bite out of me but I am hungry for fuel just as the dog is for play. Stray dogs walk around. There are only a few gold coins to be found. The dogs can roam freely for they will not be trampled by the driver or me. They bark out their hunger just as I do mine but mine is a tale of hunger for fuel and theirs will never be.
(Note: There is a lot of concern on matters raised in the journal entry here. This was written quite sometime back. I hope it will be taken with a pinch of salt.)
Monday, May 26, 2008
A moment of advancement. Collaborative advancement.
The Artesian well was a part of our curriculum at school. I learnt so much there, you would not believe! They kept telling us that life would teach us more. How to live. How to be.
Somehow the lessons keep coming back to me. Maybe, I'm just a sucker for words.
In our day to day experiences which are shaped and maneuvered by a myriad elements, I find myself reverting to those lessons again. I am not sure what we take away from the life lessons. You know, the real world stuff. Did Artesian wells suddenly become defunct? Do you know?
I had this picture in my mind of myself as a successful person back then. What that entailed and still entails is something of a mystery, even to me. I think that goes for a lot of us. Losing a friend, job, dog, friend, article, friend......
So when I 'reassess' my life, I find meaning sometimes and fulfillment other times. Yes, they were right. An idle mind is the devil's workshop. On the other end of the gamut, rising to many challenges and 'occasions' just becomes a part of the trade. You know?
I am not necessarily a pat on the back every day kind of person. But we do need friends. With that, I'll add this - bonds, commitment, consideration, human frailties, foibles, TLC.
Taking one's life a step forward never felt this good. I will reiterate that. We need to move ahead. At least, I do. Does that go for you as well? I hope so.
Now I am at a point that seems unbelievably important. Do I finally find those red shoes and take off or look around and find the original plan? Or plan A, in other words?
This begs the question: why do we lose our way so often? Are we all passive herds that make merry on roast pork? I think not. But, you know, takes one to know one - we have to sometimes see the spark. Relationships have always befuddled me. They do that in a way I find strange, to say the least. Where was I? Where did I go and lose these great feelings and people? Do they exist in my plane of reality at all? Or is mine completely out of whack?
And then, I look around and see the folks that are within hearing distance and think, seriously?
I do like people. Really.
With that out of the way, I feel like patting myself on the back. I do know about stir crazy, then? With all that jazz about social networking, I have not yet, to this day, received a single invitation to, basically, social network. What does that entail? For me, it involves a couple of those variables I wrote about up there. How about you?
Sunday, May 25, 2008
There is something about meeting people for the first time that makes us all wary of why we need to do that. I mean, the Digital Age was supposed to make us all happy! I found great friends all over the place but the whole communication milieu became charged with numbers. We were taught to mouth or articulate our words right to the last letter. Bump!
Seeking a mode of connecting and merging with one's own and with one's chosen companions has become very 'send/receive'. I like that. But, the oral cultures of the world somehow never just fade away. Had you noticed? Keeping in touch has been made easy to the point of being faultlessly simple. Yet, I find some sort of 'disconnect'. It's like I just feel pulled into an inbox of spam.
The Coffee House of yesteryears seem so eclectic and, maybe, a world of sensibility and conversation that we have yet to rediscover. I sat in a cafe over the winter this time - just writing, reading and watching the world go by. I would have liked to chat too!
I forgot the way we used to talk about people because I was caught up. Now I forget to save a draft, sometimes.
I used to love getting pictures from my friends. They sent a great many and I exchanged quite a few. Now we seem so stupefied by 'object and portrait photography', I'm not sure if interpretation serves them well. Did she go to the beach or just become one?
So, bottomline. I'm willing to put up with spam if you are.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
For those of us who came to the Internet a little late - have no fear! We are all here. In this craze of kbps and the darn dial-up, I am also thankful that the place where I live is sufficiently geared. Directions change. Paths merge. Crossroads are watched over by the Wizard of Oz. Or at least that's how it was a while back. Gardens, however, remain and sometimes become the missing link. I used to think HTML was my saviour and then, I tried the CMS. You do not want to broach that subject, EVER!
So I came across a form of therapy that just blew my mind. Really. I thought I'd reached heaven. Really.
But, they found me there. And did I spout fire! Gradually as the days passed by, I found little comfort in angry words. I mean, there's only so many for all of us to use. It wasn't necessarily a change of approach. Just making my peace with the world and all its denizens. Imagine!
I thought about becoming a singer once. My friend and I wanted to dress up and perform. That did not work out. In fact, I thought cigarettes just made me more croaky. They did. And then, the honey thing took over. Yes, we should all sing. Singing in the shower is reserved for the showering kind.
As I turn on the TV, I await those nice songs with baited breath and anticipation. They are fine songs. The voices are even better. I sit and think to myself - must be something there! Have you ever wondered where singing originated? Wow!
Friday, May 23, 2008
Cars are stuck in a jam, hot and smelly. Fumes of gas spew into the air and cause confusion, in the air and in the mind. Fuel again – that manna from hell. My manna has been emptied into the engine and I am hungry again. This time I sit strong for there is more shortage and news.
The paperboy shouts out the headlines. The vernacular is strangely potent and welcoming. I can barely hear the words but I believe it is more about the 'war'. The newspaper has found its reader and there is an exchange of lucre. The newspaperman will drive again tomorrow.
A man-child dressed in raw and rough shrouds is selling hot gram. Will he walk again tomorrow? The air gets thicker with the fumes and we all cough. The gram seller shouts out and three dark women in a truck giggle. There are red tomatoes along with them. These have come from the country. The pristine bucolic colour of the tomatoes is bursting from the plastic bag. The women buy gram and tease the seller. The vernacular is even warmer.
We pass a park - shabby little trees and overgrown grass with stories to tell. There are broken iron wedges on the fence. These keep out and bring in. Those hands that have torn now tear and tell. There is a space for storytelling. It is just that - telling a story of neglect and woe. Neglected by the powerful but powerful in their opinions.
I have my own story of neglect but I still have hope. There will be shortages as there is one today. The drivers are on strike. They will not pay overdues - dues that are sucked from their coffers and payment for plying the roads. There is a slogan painted on a white blanket. Fiery red letters scream out their angst.
My driver bows to a pond with a temple. The vernacular again – it smiles at me now. Surrounded by water, the deity is calm and wise. The angst will spill but not blood. There should not be blood. Blood spilt long ago is still dark on the road. Tires might burn but blood will flow not dribble.
A bronze lantern swings in the wind. Signboards and markets sell their wares. The lantern is strangely comforting. It is the light that burns on a beautifully carved platter. It swings and the movement is like a song. There is a gesture of hands joined together and then the vernacular. I still have hope for myself and for them.
The ditch is deep – the earth overflows. Cycles jingle jangle alongside the crevice but do not fall in. The art of the driver is learnt from his father. I hear a horn but it is not vernacular. It is a strange noise amidst this scene. My driver smiles and shows the gleaming gold coin. The engine rattles and roars and we move ahead.
We reach the garage. The driver and his gold coin heave a sigh of relief but I am not full.
(PS. This is Day Two. Suggestions for improvement are also welcome.)
Waking up in the morning feels like it's a part of our daily rituals now. Nothing to it, folks. If you need alarm clocks, we get them here. Cheap!
Saying good morning was a part of what you might call a life skill that was transferred to me. It feels good to say it now. I say it with a passion that you might find a trifle surprising. It's like saying - wow!
So we used to wax poetic about the morning sunrise that hits the hills and the mountains. I live in a mountainous region. There was this hill somewhere that was called Tiger Hill, if I'm not mistaken. Who names them and why?
I have actually never seen the morning sunrise quite as they describe it. But it seems like a wow! experience. I do enjoy the morning papers. It's like I have something new to experience everyday - vicariously! Tea, you all like, right?
I did see the sunset a couple of times. Wow! Sometimes where I live, the clouds turn a seering rust with the sun playing tricks on my eyes. Yes, every cloud does have a silver lining. I should know!
What is the average age of a dolphin. Anybody? We do not even want to get into lifespan. Then we have density, census - et al. Geography used to be great. We were told that our geography teacher was an Afghani princess. She was also one of my favourite teachers in school. She laughed at my 'vernacular' elocution piece and I thought she had a gift. I have met many gifted people since but they get one thing wrong. Life can also be a gift. They behave like there's this two-pronged approach that basically says: OR ELSE!
So back to my jibes at the good folks out there. Where's my gift?
I like enjoying the bounty of nature. We all do. Some of us just do not realize that nature is not a force of anything. It's nature. Put in another way, it's there. There are millions of words that explain why it's there. Why wouldn't there be? But it's there. Sometimes you've got to take it as it comes. The wonder of it all is that we are allowed to enjoy it and sometimes we see that it's not abused and overexploited. I love reading about conservation but it is not my forte! I learnt some great concepts and knowledge. (;-))
Our dog does not like thunderstorms. After I read Wuthering Heights, I wanted to be a storm. We'll see how that works out. I'll keep you posted.
I believed in fairy tales until I read Little Women and then, I got it. We are meant to have goals and ambitions and plans. Really.
It used to be of infinite delight to me that I could cook. (I still can.) But now I find solace in salmon spread. It costs a lot of money so we enjoy every byte. Life can dish out some good stuff. I meandered through life with great ease and then, great dissatisfaction. Now I like tea.
I find study and reading very rewarding but writing also provides the kind of 'intellectual stimulation' that most of us often suffer from a lack of. What can I say? It's down time.
So having meandered, I reached a point in my life that just took my breath away. I am still alive! We all are, for the most part. But this revelation came at a point when I did not want another bad hair day. I took up art. I found it incredibly exciting and fun. My Mum almost threw the pencils away. Parents!
I took out some old cassettes which really are not that old and I sang! The cat almost brought the entire neighbourhood in and you know the rest. So relaxing can't be all bad but now I find rejuvenation equally promising. There's so much going on in our lives that we need to streamline a little. That's a term from the 90's.
I have friends and family. They either forgot or chose to. Now I am reaching out and that's mighty fine too. Only thing they hardly call and I have not been to a 'gala' in a long, long time. I'm not complaining. They don't even use that word anymore.
But, for the record, I am finding new avenues for work, play and everything in between. (Just in case you were wondering.)
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I wanted to sketch a vase with some flowers but I got the sizes wrong and then, only the vase was on paper. I'm hoping to see some flowers cut and in the vase but, for that, I think we might need a collaborative effort. Rarely are we in awe of flowers but they let us know so we canonize them in verse, paper and others.
I'm not completely sure what a daffodil looks like. We really need a more knowledgeable approach to nature. A lot of the flowers might not be around to save us from our doldrums. The winter of our discontent is, also, sometimes one that is frosty and cold.
Why this bonding with the flowers, you might ask. I think I just like them and find them a beautiful natural creation. Sometimes they symbolically represent the whole of nature and, at other times, just the wonder of it all.
I grew up being questioned about naming the flowers right. It was a quiz that still finds its way into our conversations. I saw some orchids flower once and I was impressed. Surely they do that for a reason. How about the season?
There used to be a nursery somewhere that I visited. It was like the experience of being in a coop gone au naturale with just the right temperature. But it was interesting and the colours! In short, I like flowers. Daffodils, anyone?
But, there are days when my heart leaps up when I behold a tee shirt in my hand. Seriously.
So, I went around town and got 2 tee shirts I would not trade for a zillion. There is something innately fascinating about the experience of wearing a fancy new tee shirt. While the purchasing moments can be a trifle annoying, the feel of it when I'm back home just makes me want to giggle with elation. I did it - came home, wore it and did I show it off! I sense a certain amount of discomfort amongst my fellow earthlings when that happens. What? Is there an age tag as well? I loved to see the brand tag and then I felt sick. Those darn tees, I tell you.
While blue jeans can be explained away by the many rises and falls of giant economies, tees are just us! Toys are not.
Once in a while, my tees become something of an occasion. Ha! If God were one of us, he would be wearing a tee that says "I bought this in heaven." I get this urge to ask you kind people to furnish me with some pithy saying while I ruminate the glory of a tee. God would be smiling now.
In modern day parlance, we hesitate to call this phenomenon: "life as we know it."
I have overcome my thresholds and feel renewed by a sense of complete and utter calm (mostly while I write and you all know about my food thing!). Well, we learn something new everyday, now don't we?
So, back to my very literate literary terms - the magnitude of which, sometimes, even I am taken up by. How does obfuscation sound to you?
I used to have a sense of humour and then, it died!
Just to key you in to my inner workings, I am now well-stocked. I tremble to write this obvious little word but it seems befitting the moment. Stacking, on the other hand, I just never got a grip on. Once I moved away a little from Literature, I found myself hilariously out of sorts. And then, I got into the tech thing. Oh boy!
Monday, May 19, 2008
(An introduction: I wrote this somewhat excitedly a while back. Amidst the dust, fumes and traffic congestions, I could not stop myself from writing about a trend that chokes us all, in a myriad ways. It also keeps us warm and happy with annoyance, concern and sheer indignation. I did not plan to become a jerry can but, maybe, the writer's voice should be minimal in matters such as the one below. Enjoy!)
Cars move about, swift and solid. I sit in the garage waiting for my manna from heaven. Recent days have seen a shortage of it yet it is required by all - for mobility. There were days when cars were few and far between and mobility was just as necessary. They walked then, now they need fuel.
My importance is directly proportionate also to the affairs of the state. I hear the news sometimes and I am struck by the state of affairs. My lifespan is welded together with the perceptions of people who drive and are driven. They drive and are driven to a place in time but also drive and are driven by the need for show.
I sit and wait for my turn to come. It comes in fleeting moments, as fleeting as that smile that has been wiped from the child's face. The child that has lost a father to the "war." I sometimes cry for succour just as the child does but my woes are not of the heart. Rising prices, fallen soldiers and a city that thrives on fuel – I still hear the news but now I am at the edge of my seat. My fate is not yet sealed.
Fiery engines clash and clutter amidst the serpentine roads. These roads are weary and worn out. Misshapen buildings sprout from the edges and the people look angry. Anger – the feeling is a new object in the city just as the deformed building. The city is angry – crowds of people gather and throw stones at the establishment while it appeases and pacifies. How long can this go on?
Two men fight for a throne-like seat and yet the rest look on with awe and anger. There are others who chose to remain glumly silent as the engine crashes into a courtyard and progress is maimed. I am thrown about in the mayhem and my equally misshapen body is now renewed with fuel - that wondrous liquid by which the city is polluted and gagged is my manna.
I reach home propelled by the car and its driver. There is more news on the radio. A woman has been scarred for life just like progress and peace. The woman is telling her sorrowful tale while the perpetrator is in chains – chained for letting his lust loose. Wisdom from years gone by is regurgitated on the television – the mother must breast feed her child. The cycle of life that was cut short by the white man's money is now celotaped and the milk flows smoothly just like the fuel.
I tumble back on to the garage and am warm with the knowledge that I am full of fuel. The city will drive and be driven and I will await my fate on the television. The price will increase, there will be shortages and I will be renewed. The city coughs up its dryness and my driver is at peace that I am full. He will drive again tomorrow.
The car is half empty but gleams like a gold coin. The road that it has driven on has patches of tar – white man's money again? The engine has been cranked and it jingles to a halt. Winter has set in and the cold air is cramping its style. Tomorrow it will be cranked again and the road will be heavy once more just as I will yearn again for fuel.
Note: These are a few lines about the many rivers in Nepal and some of their symbolic values.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
On peace, power and patriarchy
Nepal is at a crossroads - a cul-de-sac. Peace is elusive but a well-known word. Will there be lasting peace or even a moratorium to the violence? We read about the need for peace, about the lack of will for peace and it remains strangely close and comforting.
Is power at the center of the current stalemate? Symbolic swords are bandied and the nation turns towards stability, progress and prosperity. Can there be any of these along side the will to power? This great imperative is not new in a country that has historically seen powerful ideology and political will. Is this singularly overarching need to walk ahead of the rest and, in so doing, dictate to those who are behind a patriarchal trait?
In a society that has long been patriarchal in nature, can we impose a concept of peace that is inherently non-patriarchal? The man who leads the pack will always defend his position and some in the pack will rebel. It is said that power is the prize that rebellions of all kinds hunger for.
This leads us to reassess the concept of peace that we now hold dear. What does it entail - a simple end to the violence or more? How will this end come about? And can this extended goal come about without a reassessment of the nature of our society? History, culture and geopolitics have all contributed to our present realities and we cannot wipe these away with the blink of an eye for an indefinable peace.
Do we know how to achieve a stable, just and 'peaceful' society without first questioning our own values? History has shown that patriarchy has served many well and remained a bastion of stability and progress. Does benevolence come with a price?
These are all questions that must be asked before we even begin to see why peace could eventually become nothing but a printed word. The lack of power in a pack leading to the thirst for power and finally the tussle that will not end without wise interventions is a simple truth. Yet, these simple truths are complicated by historical, cultural and geopolitical factors long preceding the current situation. If peace is to be achieved, we must first assess it in its manifold forms and ramifications.
PS. This is a revised version of a piece I wrote a few years back. Pls feel free to comment.
Well, I had that perfect moment and hey! they're into summer these days.
So, in the heat and dust of my hometown, we usually call this moment 'serendipitous'.
Anyways, what's summer without the odd run to the run-down little shacky place that doles out fast food! Remember when we were into pizzas cuz they symbolized some form of self-expression and a parting of ways from those darn rad trads! Well, I had a chicken in a bun and fries. Are we allowed to say French fries? I thought they usually liked the politically-correct terms and then, I drank some vodka! That was some ohhhhhh.....10 or maybe 20 years back. Who's counting?
So back to the heat and dust of it all. Those crazy summer days and me, my fast food and our collective grief at the loss of true, genuine camaraderie with nature, people, animals, trees and that sort of thing.
Do I sound perturbed and not at ease? Who would have thought?
Anyways, I am trying to blog in my spare time. My non-spare time usually is spent with sundry people and stuff.
To all those who made the fast food and vodka possible, thanks! To the others - tough!
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I gathered sundry items and made my presence felt. Don't we all? I shifted things around and they ended up right back where they were - where they were meant to be. With due respect to those who dot their i's and cross their t's, I like to relax every once in a while. Sometimes that is the very reason I work - so I can take it easy, smug in the knowledge that I worked (my butt off!). Nothing new there - I might not have hunted and gathered like our forefathers but, believe me, I worked. Now, I deserve the smugness!
Strangely enough today, I don't feel smug or self-satisfied. Could that be possible at all? Do I need work or want work or just some accolades to keep me going while I arrive or derive, as the case may be. In a vast number of ways, we are all workers. Yes, folks, I have arrived!
My shopping is limited to my budget or lack thereof. No whining, I keep saying but who doesn't? So now I feel like I need to punch some buttons and have me some coffee. Do I deserve the coffee, you might ask. Who am I kidding, even I don't know the answer to that. One of those almost profound questions that we all ask to make everybody feel good. Feel good about what?
Well, to cut a long story short - we must really reap the coffee of our labours. From coffee, I move on to a more delectable subject: ice cream and chocolate sauce; the origins of which are to be kept secret. Are we all subject to patent laws?
Afternoon entertainment is bliss. I should know!
So I put forward this question - what after ice cream and chocolate sauce and entertainment? Give me some data here, friends!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
My first travel itinerary caused a stir in my surroundings. I was going for a holiday - bags to be bought, gifts and even a half-way companion. She snored, I could not sleep - we parted company soon after. The pictures that evolve in our minds of different places and people are often very bound to our own perceptions and also, of course, the information-saturated environment that we live in. But, to my amazement, travel is the real deal!
I have travelled "across seven seas" - a term that holds significant meaning and import where I live. After my first trip, I felt important and 'well-travelled'. It showed in my demeanour and my somewhat altered 'outlook'. I had been abroad!
As the years wore on, I became more attuned to absorbing people and places in a way that brought in even some of my work. We live with so much interesting and accessible diversity but we are often restrained from widening our horizons too much. How much is too much?
This is, in some ways, a nudge to people to explore and see places and people - starting with our own lands and people is a good way to be. I am thirsty to learn more. Suffice it to say, we can never learn too much. How much is too much?
The art of simple cooking as discovered by me!
Food, I discovered early in life, is something to be savoured, to be crunched on lightly, to be munched on politely and to be enjoyed with delight. I enjoy food, always have and always will. It forms a major part of my daily rituals and conversations. I eat it with the bliss that a lot of people find quite surprising.
Cooking, now that was an alien concept to me. It was something our cook, Didi, did and she did it so well. I rarely entered the kitchen and when I did I did not find anything there to entice me to take a deeper look. The aromas and smells and the hot burning stoves were all well and good but not for me. I did not see the vegetables and the meat and the poultry calling out to me as they do to most people. I was happy to just eat and be provided for. Nothing wrong with that, I thought.
It was a balmy summer morning. I was not doing much and felt angry with myself for not doing much. I was hungry and thought to myself, what can I eat today that I'll remember for the whole day? I walked around a little, wandered aimlessly and there it was, that wondrous thing – that medium sized packet of pancake mix. I turned it around in my hands for a few minutes, read the instructions and said well, I'll do this myself. I went into the kitchen and Didi was not very welcoming.
I took out some bowls, shapes and sizes of which I learnt have a unique relationship with that which is being cooked or prepared. I must have looked at the instructions about five times before actually preparing to cook. I mixed the eggs and the mix and the milk and the concoction looked interesting. This is fun, I thought to myself, must do it again.
I took out a frying pan, nonstick as it was, and lit the stove. Next I poured some oil that sizzled a bit and then I put in the pancake mix into the frying pan - gently at first and then a little heavily until there was a circle-like shape. I read the instructions again – cook until bubbles begin to appear and so I did. Soon it began to feel like I was an artist - watching, waiting, and creating. The bubbles appeared to my sheer delight and then I flipped the pancake over. The artist had created her first sketch and what a beautiful one it was too. The pancake was done and I put it on a plate.
The creation was simply delightful. I cut it into small bits and popped them into my mouth – succulent little bits of sugar and flour. I finished the pancake. It had looked stunning and it tasted even better. Didi smiled a little grudgingly and did not say anything. Cooks do that, I believe, when they see someone infringing on their turf!
There you have it – the art of simple cooking as discovered by me and it truly started with simple pancakes. When I say simple I mean simple to cook but tasty and flavorful. I eventually reached the Spanish bread stage but even that, I discovered, was simple like an art form.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Zen and the Art of Evolution
(This is an exhibition review that I had written a few years back.)
Minimalism at its very potent and strong Zen influences – these best describe the paintings of Kang Chan-Mo in the Buddha Gallery. The artist, himself a Buddhist, drew inspiration from the Khumbu region during a trek there. He has experimented with form and brought out unique substance.
The paintings can be likened to swift sketches or etches but the thick dark lines are artful. Black brush strokes on white paper – the effect is almost surreal. Each piece is a testament to Buddhist philosophy. The bird cries in the sun and evolves under it. Crowds of people swim in the sun and are warmed by it. Buddha comes next in the barest of forms and evolves with each painting. A striking piece of a leaf that becomes a bird which in turn becomes a fish represents evolutionary principles.
The landscape of the mountains is portrayed in stark realism. A cow looks on with mountains in the distance and the sun overhead – simple portrayals that bring to light complex evolutionary strings. The piece of two people in a parasitic posture speaks of synergy and life taking succour from life. Next, a bird swirls and becomes a flower.
A bird is seen from different angles – life seen from different perspectives, perhaps? The paintings are imbued with Buddhist philosophy. They are simple and convey simple Buddhist teachings. Kang stopped frequently during his trek to worship images of Buddha. These are strongly apparent in his work.
Once again, evolution is key in his paintings. A dog becomes a cow or, seen from a different angle, a cow becomes a dog. The movement carries on and a bird becomes a man. Two birds combine to create the face of a man. The paintings can be interpreted in a plethora of ways.
Kang has moved well from nature to man and to nature again. Interspersed with images of Buddha, this series of paintings captures his journey and the images in it. Strongly influenced by Zen philosophy, the artist's creations are quite rare in a world where art is dominated by colour.
Kang was born in Korea and has had eleven solo exhibitions all over the world. It is not difficult to see why his work has a singularly universal appeal. Evolution is painted in black and white and Buddha's principles are the starting point. The mountains of the Khumbu region also become the chosen landscape of the portraits.
Kang's works are thoughtful creations. They present Zen and Buddhist philosophy with rare strokes of black on white - almost a calligraphic visualization.
The Body Real and the Body Politic
Recent days have seen a barrage of opinions and an onslaught on our political leaders. This is necessary, most will say. In any fluid situation with much at stake, there will be clashes of arms and opinion. The body real will speak out for the body politic.
Are the needs of the body politic more important than those of the body real? Again, this is a debatable point. As a part that makes the whole, we will speak out and speak against. As a unit that makes the collective, we can only make the collective stronger by voicing our opinions and discontent. We hope by so doing to eventually create a collective that is suitable to our needs, environment and us.
We voice our discontent, our enthusiasm and our judgments only to make sure that the decisions made on our behalf and in our interests reflect our needs and the priorities of our homeland. A ceaseless and pointless volley of finger pointing will surely not get us anywhere. The body politic will only respect us if we respect it. And by extension, we can respect it if it shows itself to be worthy of respect.
There is much happening in the spectrum of the body politic. We must cautiously and optimistically allow for genuine debate, discussion and dialogue to bring about the prerequisites that make a healthy and fruitful body politic. Time, fortitude and respect for the genuine churnings of the body politic will enhance the process that is already underway.
If the body real requires a flexible body politic, then the same must be required of the body real. We must be flexible ourselves if the collective must be flexible to suit our needs and our concerns. Needless to say, ranting out against the body politic, as disgruntled and impatient units of the whole, may be counter productive.
At a time such as this, the need of the hour is for caution and flexibility in our own requirements. When disparate elements, forces and opinions clash, the result can only be productive and fruitful if these forces and opinions are amenable to constructive dialogue and processes.
The body politic must be allowed to construct itself and reassess its own failures and successes with the positive helping hand of the body real. A synergy of disparate forces is more helpful than a clamber.
The Conservation Landscape in Nepal: A Short Description
Once described as a place of eternal attraction, Nepal is famed not only for Mt. Everest but also for its once pristine natural splendor and rich cultural heritage. Flanked by two powerful neighbors, it was and remains a country uniquely poised to be a place of great potential but also enormously complex. Geopolitics, physical boundaries and attributes, culture and tradition as well as the many ethnic communities have contributed to making this country a haven for travelers.
Home of awe inspiring mountain ranges and lush green forests, Nepal is often characterized by three distinct eco-regions – the high mountains on the northern borders, the middle mountains, and the Terai. The terrain in these regions is as rich in biodiversity as it is scenically beautiful. The mountains and forests of Nepal harbour a rich collection of plant and animal life. Forest types, flowering plants, a rich plethora of animal species – there is much biodiversity in Nepal that merits a closer look and concerted efforts in effective conservation and preservation.
While the rich plant and animal life were once abundant, there are many signs that this abundance is gradually depleting and becoming increasingly endangered. Rapid deforestation due to the need for arable land for cultivation and the use of forest resources for fodder and fuel are placing heavy demands on the ecology and environment. Consequently, there has been an adverse effect on the diverse plant and animal life.
Nepal is also one of the least developed nations, with poverty and intermittent infrastructure development leading to inadequate provision of basic needs and necessities. This has meant that the majority of the people depend on the land and the environ for primary and basic needs. Conservation efforts to preserve Nepal's biodiversity are now in the mainstream of development activities. The need of the hour, however, is not only to preserve and manage but also incorporate the socioeconomic priorities of the local people in the areas where conservation activities are underway.
The focus of many conservation activities is mainly on the national parks, wildlife reserves and conservation areas that form 18 per cent of Nepal's land. These areas are fast becoming tourist hotspots and also places where much of the unique ecology of Nepal is showcased. They are, however, facing crises arising out of overdependence on the forests; lack of effective and systematic management, inadequate information and knowledge provision; overgrazing of pastures; and conflicts between local communities.
The biodiversity of these protected areas are the key concern of conservation efforts. However, the local people are also important factors in this unique equation. Ethnically diverse and culturally heterogeneous communities thrive in these areas. Their needs are as diverse as their cultural traditions. These communities and the ecology on which they depend require a synergistic approach to conservation rather than an approach that focuses simply on the biodiversity itself.
Shey Phoksundo National Park - Abstract of a Case Study
Shey Phoksundo – 3555 sq. km in all – is Nepal's largest national park. Situated in Dolpa and Mugu districts, it was legally gazetted in 1984, which has meant that it is now a fully functioning part of the Protected Area Network of Nepal. The Park covers the north and south sides of the main Himalayan divide and, hence, presents a unique combination of topography and climate. The complex and exceptional biotic system itself is a result of natural and biophysical attributes.
Shey Phoksundo boasts of a diversity of plant and animal life – 30 endemic plants, endangered mammals such as the Snow Leopard and Tibetan Wolf, and over 105 bird species. Trade with Tibet and Agro-pastoralism are the core livelihood strategies. It also covers two of WWF's Global 2001 Ecoregions. The stark beauty of the area and the plush cultural settings has led the region to be nominated as a World Heritage Site.
While the region is known for its natural beauty, it is also one of the poorest and most food deficient areas of Nepal. Traditional dependence on forest and pasture resources for food, energy, fodder, timber and non-forest timber products have caused serious and almost irreversible pressures on the natural environment. This presents a challenge for development and conservation activities, which have, hitherto, focused more on the natural settings and perhaps, not enough, on the confluence of the needs of the environment/area and those of the people that inhabit it. In addition, there is a lack of an integrated approach that encompasses an understanding of both the ground realities as well the development and conservation interventions that are most appropriate for the region.
The 15,000 people that live in and around the area are settled in villages or clusters. There is a need for more concerted development initiatives in the area – low literacy, acute health problems and poverty due to extreme climatic conditions and shortage of labour hamper the development of the area and its people. On the natural resource management front, the once abundant resources are gradually being exhausted and over exploited.
The area is now witness to a steady increase in the number and functioning of community-based organizations that work towards conservation and development. Community participation is seen as key to the effective and overall success of these organizations and their respective mandates. Traditional and age-old leadership structures are gradually succumbing to new forms, roles and responsibilities.
Many see the increased awareness of and participation in nature conservation by the local people as the springboard for successful conservation initiatives. In Shey Phoksundo, this awareness and interest is low, at the very least. In addition, inadequate skills and capacities hamper the success of many community-based conservation initiatives.
Shey Phoksundo National Park, its surrounding and buffer areas and the local communities of the area present a complex yet challenging picture. It must be underscored that the region, the resources and the people must come together to manage and restore the biodiversity and the natural habitats alongside the external interventions of conservation and development organizations. The natural beauty of the region and its enormous potential can only be tapped and preserved effectively if the area is seen in its entirety.
(Research material and reports from WWF Nepal)PS. Comments will be appreciated.