Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

8. Wednesday

I am not much of a movie watcher. I prefer reading books to watching movies, not because I am more intellectual – it is more convenient. One can open the book at convenience, and stop reading whenever one wants. It is an activity which you can completely control. On the other hand, for movie watching you need to depend on so many external factors that you get irritated most of the times.

If I ever get opportunity to watch films, I prefer Hollywood films for various reasons. They are for just one and half hours, they have variety of subjects, the treatment of the films is more realistic and funny. Most of the Bollywood movies are just re-makes – though I enjoy filmy music. I cannot continuously watch a movie for three hours. On television with added masala of advertisements, it takes four hours! Of course, if you spend time here and there in-between, you hardly miss anything. Most of the famous Bollywood films like Lagan, Tare Jameen Par…. (I do not even know the names!) I have either watched in installments or not at all watched. Watching movie in installments is a good trick. For example Lagan I watched in four different installments – each time, watch it for half an hour and then next part you watch when you have time and will.

My friend 'G' is trying to teach me film appreciation for the last few years. Whenever she comes across a good film, she insists that I watch it. Yesterday she visited my home just to lend me a copy of film ‘Wednesday’. When I learnt it was a Hindi film, I wasn’t much interested. But G knows my choices and preferences; I have always enjoyed her recommendations. So, I inserted the CD in my PC.

‘Wednesday’ is a film directed by Neeraj Pandey. Anumpam Kher and Nasiruddin Shah have the lead roles. If I share the story here, it will spoil your experience. A very good film indeed. It sort of awakens you and motivates you for soul searching. If you have not yet watched it, please, make it a point to watch it with family and friends.

While watching Anupam Kher in some such films (‘Maine Gandhi ko nahi mara’ was the other one I have seen recently), I wonder why he plays stupid roles in many films. He is such a talented actor, then why he does injustice to himself? I suppose we all do it. We have the potential to excel; we are satisfied with the mediocre life. We all have the qualities to surpass the normal expectations, but we take pride in being an ‘also ran’ kind of candidate.

To me, Wednesday denotes midpoint of journey. Half the week is over, and there is limited time to complete the promised tasks. It is time to enjoy the unexpected. It is time to decide what to run for and what to leave. It is time to be thankful for everything in life.

Well, if I can treat each day as Wednesday, good for me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I met O’Henry long back – if you consider reading someone’s writing as meeting. I kept on meeting him time and again, but never read him enough to fall in love with – if you kindly allow me to use the expression. But I had definitely marked him for further exploration.

The other day I was at Crosswords. I picked up ‘Hound of Baskerville’ and ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ – my favorite books. Then I saw ‘Best of O’Henry’, paid the bill and came home.

No, I could not read O’Henry in one sitting. His writing is not of that kind. O’ Henry makes you smile and weep, he shocks you and surprises you, he makes you anticipate and when you turn the corner you reach an unknown, never thought of destination. O’Henry at times is humorous and he indeed is subtle and philosophical. O’Henry should be labeled as courageous and straightforward writer – he writes for himself. He is passionate and also dispassionate. O’Henry entertains you and he provokes you. He brings out the best and the worst in you – he acts like a mirror!

Is O’Henry predictable? The moment you feel so, like a magician he presents a new trick and overwhelms you. O’Henry makes you chuckle and makes you think. Mind you, he makes you nervous and builds up stress. He takes you ‘inside’ the characters and gives you freedom to feel and interpret differently. O’Henry’s sarcasm is real and his language is elegant. He creates passages for introspection and he makes you uncomfortable. You cannot read his stories just one after another. You get so much involved in the stories that you pause, think and then (sometimes willingly and sometimes reluctantly) travel with the author. Sometimes you get angry with him for ending the story in a particular way. I warn you that all his stories are not about happiness, the canvas is real enough to entail pain and suffering.

O’Henry was born and brought up in U.S of A. He passed away in 1910 leaving behind 600 short stories as his legacy. O’Henry represents a different period and hence a different world. But like all great artists, his appeal is universal. I am tempted to quote various examples from his book, but I won’t do it here. I want to you to search and find beauty of O‘Henry yourself. I assure you that he is superb.

What are you waiting for? Take out your wallet, visit a bookshop, embrace O’Henry and enjoy your Deepavalee vacation.

Happy Deepavalee to all.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

6. Weakness Helps!

Sometimes our weaknesses help us.

For example, I do not have very strong memory. It was always difficult for me to write essays of the type ‘Your most memorable day’ during my school days. One reason is I get engrossed in present. Second is my habit of writing. For about last thirty years I am writing my personal diary – sometimes regularly and many times not so regularly. Once I note down feeling on paper – may be of joy or of sorrow – I conveniently forget it. It is like once I have expressed it, shared it, it has no business to appear in my life again.

Of course, there is a risk of reading the diary again and re-living the whole episode, never forgetting pain and suffering. But it does not happen with me.

I was a full time activist for more than 12 years. I had no private space during all those years. I was always in the midst of people, never was alone. That was the nature of my work – it was a public life where there was no place for things ‘private’. I was accountable to the organization for 24X365. Before that I was staying in a hostel for about six years – you know how peers get irritated if someone tries to act differently!

I had this habit of maintaining personal diary – there was always a possibility that someone else might read it. So, I started writing diary in a sort of code language. I assigned different names to persons, places, events ….. The idea was that if anyone else reads it, s/he will not be able to identify the persons, places and events. It worked well for more than two decades. It became such a habit that even after having my home and nobody without my invitation entering into it (thieves are the exception), I still maintain my diary without naming people, places and events.

Funny part is if I read the same piece couple of years afterwards, I hardly remember anything. I have to think ‘Who might be this?’ ‘What must have happened that time?’ ‘What was there to be so sad about it?’ and so on. I have to take efforts to recall things and many times I fail to recall the event. Just an hour ago, I browsed my 2006 diary and was amused at not being able to relate to anything. It was as if I was reading someone else’s diary – which I am not supposed to read.

When this realization dawned upon me, a great thing happened. I am rather a sensitive person – (I know, many of you would like to label me ‘hypersensitive’ – but that is your way of interpreting my behavior!) - so there are more chances of my getting hurt. Earlier I used to think about such people and events for a long time. But ten years ago, in the midst of a great turmoil, I asked myself, ‘Will you really remember it after say five years?’ My honest answer was ‘no’ and that was the turning point.

This has become a litmus test. I get disturbed only by things, which I think will affect me even after five years. My experience tells me that there are no such things in the past, which affect me today. Yes, some impacts are always there, but they get internalized and so do not remain external to me. My response to situation around has changed due to this and I have become a different person – I won’t say ‘good’ person, because sometime I doubt I have become complacent and insensitive. I don’t like my indifference which makes me inactive and passive. At times I wish I had more passion.

But anyway, my weak memory has helped me to achieve lot of peace and quietness

(Note: Sorry friends, I realize that this blog is going to be ‘I’ SPECIALIST… I am talking mostly about “I” ….. Any ideas about how to bring in change in this? Please, share.) *

Thursday, October 16, 2008

5. I Will Never Know

The squirrel ‘sound’ (don’t know what is it called) was audible enough to reach my office cabin at 10 in the morning. Hmmm… the squirrel gang is again in a playful mood, I thought. Wanted to have a look at them, but suddenly the phone on my desk rang and then I was engrossed in number of things. As usual my action is not much productive, but I keep on acting – by habit?

When I was going to canteen for lunch, the squirrel sound was very near to me. Now I had little time to look at them. I searched and went near the tree and saw a young one on a branch alone. The moment I approached the tree, it got frightened and its vocal cords were suddenly strained. Yes, this was a lost kid and was asking for help. My goodness, it was crying for last two hours. It was a small branch, and the kid was at the end of the branch. There was no way forward and it could not move backward (oops, many of us are in these situations, I think that is the reason I could empathize).

My heart naturally melted. But as it generally happens in such situations, I did not know what to do. I too was helpless. The young one turned on the branch and as if looked into my eyes – was it asking me for help or was it irritated enough with my inaction? ‘Come on baby, slowly move forward and come to the main branch. Don’t worry, if you fall down, I will catch you and you will be safe’ …. I was trying to tell that charming one – (with these emotions and not with these words). But the baby squirrel started shivering and became louder. May be its parents were nearby and were frightened because of my presence.

Animals, birds, trees have a way to approve or disapprove presence of human beings. (Human beings too have, but we have been trained to overlook it – that is called smartness in the human world!) . I stepped back, slowly. The baby squirrel’s shivering stopped. Was it a problem situation or not? I was confused. I stood there quietly for about 10 minutes. I and the baby squirrel looking at each other. I closed my eyes and searched for some instinct. Nothing. I was blank, the squirrel still distressed.

Thoughtfully I moved to the canteen, had a quick bite and within six minutes I was back to the tree. There was silence. No baby squirrel, no shouting, nobody was there. The tree alone was standing there. Till the evening there was no squirrel sound today. What happened to that baby squirrel? Was it playing or was it in pain? Did the mother fetch it up? Or was it unfortunate enough to visit the sky with the kite? Was it a dream? Am I guilty of not taking timely action?

I will never know.*

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

4. Dreams

I dream well.

Simply because I sleep very well.

Most nights I dream, when I sleep in the afternoon on some of the rare Sundays, I dream. It is another matter that I ‘daydream’ too – but that I will reserve for another blog. I am not going into psychological aspects of why people dream. But I think I love dreams and so I have lot of dreams.

I hardly have scary dreams. Most of my dreams are very funny, hilarious and while dreaming also I know that it is a dream – very philosophical!! Shankaracharya would definitely be happy and bless me.

No, but in really it is not the understanding about Maya and Brahman. I call it a dream because it is not somehow related to my ‘open eye’ experience. For example, in my dream I am climbing a mountain with some of my friends – and in real life I know that these two friends have never met (because they are from different ‘era’ of my life). So even in dream, while chatting with those two friends I wonder ‘how come these two know each other?’ Or in my dreams I have conversations in Tamil or Malyalam – the languages I hardly know. In some dreams I fly over clouds and so many such things…..

I also can have a serial of dreams. Meaning, if my dream is broken by a phone call or doorbell – after the work is taken care of, when I sleep again, I can ask my mind ‘to continue with the dream’. Mostly my mind obeys my command. And the dream continues as if there was no break!

At times I get confused by my dreams. Many mornings the first thing I do right after waking up is to check the facts with these dreams and smile at myself. I did a good exercise of noting down my dreams. I have about 200 dreams written down – that is the most illogical, inconsistent, irrational piece of my writing so far. This blog is running into the competition.

In 1990, when I left Kanyakumari (forever), I dreamt about too many unknown faces over months. I told my friends that ‘I am going to meet so many new people, so moving on is inevitable’ Looking back, I see this is true. Many of you are those people, to whom I first met in my dreams! Sounds a bit psychic, isn’t it? No, I don’t mean I ‘saw’ you there! Beware, Dreams can be Defective.

One can not plan to dream, but one can always take the dreams in right stride. Then it is fun and joy and smile. Sometimes it turns into reality too.

The line between reality and dream is indeed very blurred.*

3. A Miser

Story of a colleague. We were working together for couple of years. Then he retired -due to age and did not continue as an advisor (as is the custom where I work!). But he has joined a well know corporate as a consultant. He is getting much higher salary than I normally get.

Last week I met him during one of my tours. He is a known miser, so nobody expectes anything from him. There are poeple who know him for more than 30 years and never have been offered even a cup of tea.

So, one evening, when I found him across the table dining in the same resturant, we chatted. At the end of the dinner, I went to the counter to pay for both of us. He rushed to me immediately, saying, "No madam, you should not pay, I will take a treat from you in a better hotel, if I knew you were paying, I would have consumed some costly dishes......". I was surprised. I thought he has changed. But no, people don't really change!!

He offered fifty rupee note to the man on the counter. The man said, ''Give me twenty more rupees sir'' on which my colleague said, ''no madam will pay her bill''...... I was completely bowled!!

Why do people earn money if they can't spend a small some of thirty five rupees for others? Why he did not allow me to pay and saved his thirty five bucks? I don't understand..... *

Saturday, October 11, 2008

2. Old Age

Problem of old age is affecting the families to a great extent. Not only old people are problematic sometimes but the so called young (and sometimes not so young) generations don't know how to face the situation. They forget that one day they are going to get old (if they don't die before) and will be posing the same problems to their kith and kin.

I believe that you need to live well (peacefully, mature.....) to become a good old person.
Any tips?