Mountains or the seas

His brown eyes, the thick rims of his specs, his dark skin, his soft touch, the hypnotizing safety of his arms, his warm embrace. His childishness and maturity, what is better than the other?

Mountains or the seas? She knows that he likes the seas better, each of his travels was in search of the end of the lands. To submerge in the setting sun, to wait and watch the ships, the size of a dot, disappear at the end of the seas. To see sea gulls floating in the wind.

One windy evening, while walking on the beach he had found a girl from a coastal village with braids on her wavy hair and shells in her hand. Her dreamy eyes and her infectious smile. Her tanned skin as salty as his kiss.

The seas she knew had a shade of grey. He took her to see blue seas and turquoise seas. To rocky beaches and sparkly ones too. Daughter of the sea, he just took her to her different homes far and near where she guides him to find seashells invisible for all.

Sometimes she takes off his thick black specs and looks into his deep brown eyes where he carries all the seas he admire. The little streams of her joy, the streams of her sorrows, the rivers of her memories, the rivers of her love, all flowing towards the sea that he is, the home that he is. A deep sea where everything meets and becomes beautiful.

Late night musings

I don’t want to stare at an empty page while thoughts ripple inside my head, I want to pen it down. No matter how insignificant or worthless the voice of my thought could be. Well, what would it sound like anyway, ‘the voice of my thoughts’. Sometimes I hear a manly voice, sometimes puppy sounds, sometimes I sound like my mother, sometimes like a lady, and so many other sometimes. Whatever it sounds like, looks like you and I have a mass that occupies some space in this big round earth, part of a bigger world. Our corner office as significant and as worthy as any star you can think of in the grant anatomy of things. In a lesser schema of things also I guess. Hence I gather the guts to shout to the world my late night musings in my corner office of my wordpress blog.

Back to the point, yes my rippling thoughts. What are those??? Defining things, asking question words like whats and whys and hows to yourself to have clarity came naturally at the moment. Where the hell did it come from…I am not that organized, my messy desk can be the proof of my innate disorientation. Looks like I am subscribing to the world. Showing proofs and having the question words float around my head. Not so bad for my worldly life. The late hours are meant for exactly these kinds of disorganized thoughts and hazy writing. My introverted heart feels cozy in the quiet of the nights, its in its pajamas and not thinking about the mornings.

Recently one person told me about her amazing childhood, the times she climbed trees and ate wild berries and played with friends and worked hard. How she bathed in the wild streams and washed her clothes, the beauty of her home close to the jungles. She told me how much she misses those days and also that she feels bad we did not get a chance to see all this. She was fortunate to be born where she did. 

Felt like I have missed out. But being a loner makes you many things, it makes you an outcast, it flourishes your imagination. Though I could not live that life, I have imagined all these in my childhood. Night is a beautiful feeling and it triggers my imagination. Our mind is a complex place, it adapts, it balances. When you miss out real life, it paints it with imagination in the most colorful ways. The kid who had many friends got something out of it and my loneliness gave me something else. Nature’s part in giving lawyers and journalists and writers and artists.

Have I told you how much I wanted to travel in a train. There was no need to travel by train for me as a child. The image of a train has always been poetic inside my head. In a pragmatic sense what is romantic about Indian railways. Is it the chaos, is it the hygiene or lack of hygiene, is it the beggars ???

But I have dreamed of travelling in a train. I would lie down in my bed and imagine at night, about the wind blowing on my face in the window seat of a train, the rhythmic noise of its old engine. The chaiwala’s chai song, the lights, the conversations. And it was the exact same when I traveled in trains, the nights were the same, the early mornings even better. Each time I travel by train I think of the nights I lied down imagining all those experiences. It makes me happy, a sense of achievement that gives me a satisfaction, many might find hard to achieve by grand victories in life. Indian railways is not about the chaos, the beggars and other stuff for most of us, its all the other things.

When tourist come to visit India, it is said they will either fall in love with it or run for their lives. I think these are exactly the kind of things that differentiate the two categories of the tourists. Whether they will get annoyed by the chaos or see past it or enjoy it or find the other things.  

This spontaneous eruption of my disorganized thoughts, let it be chaotic, no introduction, no conclusion, lacking flow, whatever it is, it is among the little things in my life that gives me a little rush of satisfaction. Sleepy time now, my mind will be ready with the dreams to be projected in the screen of my brain, scripts where wild animals are chasing me in busy streets or me loosing a teeth or two or may be if the script writer had a good day a script of a beautiful dream might be waiting.

 Sayonara

PC: Internet

Into the city, from the wild

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Years ago, a small ripe fruit floated down the river from a dense forest of sweet mango trees. The seed sprouted in a city park and grew into a magnificent mango tree. A wild mango tree in the banks of one river, too foreign, too wild for the city. The intense smell of its ripe fruits were sweeter than the familiar smells. It flourished spreading its branches everywhere. The authorities took good care cutting the branches, they made sure it won’t touch the electric lines. Like the city tamed it when it ran wild.

Nobody knew how the tree felt about its life in the city park, because it could not speak and they could not ask. They wondered if the tree felt misplaced there. Nobody knew if the tree felt wild or if it felt like it belonged there. The leaves kept dancing in the wind. Some said it leaned forward to the river looking at the way its ancestors took to reach there. Some simply said it was leaning for light and water.

Rivers always flowed like trains along the paths and tracks it was meant to run. The train carried hundreds of people from far away villages to the city heart. The people carried their bundles and cloth bags and kids. They ate their neatly packed home cooked meals. Gandhi had said, ‘India’s soul lives in villages’. The villagers took a small part of those souls in their heart when they boarded those trains.

Well, all of us reached here once from one place or the other and act like we own what was never ours, what will be never ours. We came floating like milkweeds caught in wind, we came floating like a ripe mango. When new people come we act like in some way we are different. How is it that civilizations took years to develop hundreds of languages and yet don’t use words to speak most of our mind. We give our mind in bits and pieces like its pieces of bread. We seldom talk down at people, mostly we look down at people. And the villagers tried to fit in. They stitched the cloths that is not stared at, dressing up like a ‘gentle man’. They shaked hands because ‘namaskaram’ is not polished enough for the formal settings they feared. Well the magic worked, he was not looked at differently once he put the new clothes on.

And in this citification process, some of the migrants had already lost the village souls that Gandhi talked about and that what they took from home. Some got pickpocketed, some souls died of thirst and hunger, and it dried and withered away without food or water. But mostly the migrants conserved that soul they bought from their village and lived for long. So mostly the city was full of villagers dressed up like a foreign gentleman and called themselves a city man. And sometimes the city men wondered why I need this dumb tie, well it serves no purpose. Belt is fine it can hold up the pants if it is loose.

So again, how did our mango tree feel??  did it feel out of place. Mmm…, well it flourished in the city, it kept spreading its branches wild and it was cut all the time… The park kept it well groomed, the perfect round sphere of green on a straight brown trunk, with the sweetest wild mangos the city had ever seen. But one thing for sure, the tree never lost its soul.

PC: Pinterest, Mangoes in the Evening Light by Dorothy Boyer

The Window from where I watch rains

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Back home there is a blue window

From where I watch the monsoon rains

From where I dive through lost thoughts

And submerge into dreams

**

It’s rattling white curtains partitioned on sides

Blurred in the periphery of my unfocussed eyes

At times I watched monsoon rains,

At times I watched the dark nights

**

There is a blue window from where –

I have watched countless dusks and dawns

From there I watched time pass

From where I watched my dear ones part

**

Those windows from where I stared into the dark eyes of nights

Slipping into sleep in the noisy silence of chirping crickets

Those windows were my hiding spot where I laughed and cried

Covered in the lush green vines and one old mangostein

**

Teary eyes and some good byes

Don’t remember if I shut those windows when I left

I wonder if those vines and night rains

Peeked inside at least once to find one missing girl

**

Back home, a beautiful place

With blue windows from where I watched monsoon rains

With a rooftop from where I watched clouds float

Floating away just like me

***

 

Pic Courtesy: Andrew Allanson

Book in hand: Man’s Search for meaning by Viktor Frankl

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Viktor Emil Frankl  was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor, surviving Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Kaufering and Türkheim. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Emil Frankl   is  a must read book of all times.

Centuries or decades away from the present, is too far away from my todays and my realities. World, just like me tends to forget intentionally and unintentionally. When history is brought back to my generation we call it boring. Deaths look like statistics and events torture me with the details, where years are hard to remember and people’s name too foreign for my tongue. And history becomes a story, when facts look stranger than fiction, somewhere in the back of the mind I guess I did not acknowledge it as facts, half heard, half remembered.  Good I guess, we are blessed with the power to forget and move on. Otherwise to remember the holocaust everyday would be unbearable.

Each passage of the book where life in the concentration camp is explained in this book, the smells, the feelings, the sights, the world… you are made aware of the human mind.  The extremities of its tolerance, the extremities of its cruelties and sadism, the extremities of helplessness, the extremities of survival. The author, a survivor of the holocaust takes us with him to his days in the Nazi concentration camps and shares his observations, his story of survival.

When man is stripped away from his identity, when man is stripped away from all that he thought he is, what is he then? When he is not treated as a human being or an animal, how he transfers to his primitiveness was thought provoking. Walking like a flock of sheep, trying to move to the center of the flock, dreaming of food, losing feelings and how survival is his life.

It is very biographical and you have these life excerpts and the author’s analysis of the situations. Like a wave you are riding through the lows of the moving life in the camp and highs of the objective reading of human psyche. It becomes a bible for sufferers at times, when you have no control what control you can have. We all need a meaning to our suffering. At the verge when you have nothing left, no reason left it makes you understand the light is within you, the line of thought, the right perception if  you identify,  that is what helps you.

The comedy of early memories

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In some fine day, like one of the lonely evenings during this quarantine, you can look at the cute baby photos of yourself. The little hands holding your parent’s fingers, the dark circles on your parent’s most peaceful and overjoyed faces from long sleepless nights. We can choose to sigh with awe at the cuteness of our own baby faces. The same innocence and cuteness that stole your parent’s hearts and sleep.  Suckling the cheese ridden fingers from your pizza, and sipping the coke in the bliss of our home, you can take a walk down the memory lane, the oldest of your memories.

How happy our parents would have been on the first day they saw our faces. The twinkling starry eyes, the gummy smiles, the milk teeth afterwards. Mesmerized by their babies, cheering each of those little steps. So bad the baby could not hold those precious memories in their fragile brains. Years pass one by one and the milk teeth have started falling one by one. By now Mommy has joined back to work, both parents balancing house and work.  A thousand lullabies have been sung, and a thousand stories have been told.

And in one of the busy overstressed days, the kid wants to hear the thousand and first  story, one more of the lullabies. Right at that moment when the dam of immense control is broken, and your parent’s face turned red, they snapped at their cute little prick. For the very first time in their entitled lives, where one cry and all wishes where granted, the first fatal blow befell on their little ego. This unbearable sorrow leaves a mark on their mind forming the gloomy blue ball of a sad memory which rolls through the alleys and settles in one corner of the memory lane.

Among most of our earliest memories lies one of these first insults. The little insignificant events that hurt us, it was so big and unbearable, when the bed time story was refused, being scolded for being dirty, not behaving in front of strangers, in my friend’s case making the foldable chair a stretching exercise equipment.

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Book in hand ‘Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything’

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‘Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything’ is the debut non-fiction book formed out of the collaboration between economist Steven Levitt and New York Times  journalist Stephen J. Dubner. The unique aspect of this book is that it is not dealing with a singular topic. This uniqueness is what has attracted millions of readers to it I guess . I love the book’s title -Freakonomics, sounds pretty cool and trendy. When I started off I was expecting something in lines with books like ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ , but the book has little to do with Economics. It is more like sociology through the eyes of an economist. This book is a free country with lots of free speech and exploration of myriad topics. So great book in short. But given the fact that there are so many lists out there including this book in ‘must reads’ in all possible categories I could find like teens, twenties, thirties, the expectations were over the roof. This lead me to gift this book to a friend even before reading it. If there was a toddler category, people would have suggested it there also I am afraid. So what I am trying to say is my expectations were not satisfied given the popularity. But again it definitely comes under my good books category.

You know that feeling when you are sitting with your friends in  a circle and you start talking about anything and everything. Some smart ones will challenge the common views, ‘Really! Do you believe that, you know what I think…’, the person starts like that, he/she has some new ideas to share and what they say, interests you as well. There, no one is afraid of judgement and speaks loud and clear. It may or may not be directly related to your life, but you want to listen. The book talks to you like that pal.Like every good book, this book is opening you a new window to look at things, and in this case by challenging conventional wisdom, stripping a layer or two from the surface of modern life and seeing what is happening underneath.

Let me take an interesting idea explained in the book. We have this tendency to attribute correlations between different events or things. Many times, a brain storming session will result in a wide range of possible factors that resulted in the occurrence of that event. The thinkable factors might range from a good luck charm to governmental decision making.

For example, in the book the authors question the idea that a politician can win votes by spending more money in his campaigns. He says that the campaign money has little to do with the results citing different statistics and examples. They say that only a good candidate can pool a huge amount of money in the first place. Through such examples they are stating that just because two things are correlated does not mean that one causes the other. A correlation simply means that a relationship exists between two factors—let’s call them X and Y—but it tells you nothing about the direction of that relationship. It’s possible that X causes Y; it’s also possible that Y causes X; and it may be that X and Y are both being caused by some other factor, Z. An example of a ‘bad correlation’ sited in the book was- A folktale of the czar who learned that the most disease-ridden province in his empire was also the province with the most doctors. His solution? He promptly ordered all the doctors shot dead. So a couple of correlations like this and how it has been questioned, makes the reader agree with the authors many a time.

But this is a one-way court room where the plaintiff is alone with defendant absent from the scene. If the reader decides to be the judge here, that is a biased judgement we will be making. So hear it out and feed your thoughts by opening up avenues through which your mind can walk through.

Another thought that interested me is the assessment of fear. Statistics tells that a swimming pool is much more dangerous than a gun but what scares us more- a pool or a gun. Apparently, the risks that scare people and risks that kill people are fairly different. It’s the imminent possibility of death that drives the fear, interesting isn’t it. I also liked how the book discusses incentives, its possibilities and limitations. The book says that incentives are the cornerstone of modern life. And understanding them—or, often, ferreting them out—is the key to solving just about any riddle, from violent crime to sports cheating to online dating. And lastly I cannot leave without mentioning there is a part about parenting in the book, where that person in your friend circle is saying ‘Seriously! Do you believe that, you know what I think…’, and that’s worth hearing.

And to prove the claim of uniqueness I made about the book, take a look at what the chapters cover

  • Chapter 1: Discovering cheating as applied to teachers and sumo wrestlers, as well as a typical Washington DC–area bagel business and its customers
  • Chapter 2: Information control as applied to the Ku Klux Klan and real estate agents
  • Chapter 3: The economics of drug dealing, including the surprisingly low earnings and abject working conditions of rack-cocaine dealers
  • Chapter 4:The role legalized abortion has played in reducing crime , contrasted with the policies and downfall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu
  • Chapter 5: The negligible effects of good parenting on education

 

And also if you want to test the waters and see if the book is your cup of tea, there is Freakonomics, the movie. So watch it, if it interests you proceed to the book or vice versa. Freakonomics the movie has some same, similar and different stuff to offer while it is not an exact adaptation of the book. So enjoy a good read all.

Single parent family, success stories

Lately I was reading a book and unexpectedly landed on statistics related to children of single parent households. Turns out an astounding percentage of these kids end up developing drug addiction or becoming criminals. With so much negativity  around this topic I wanted to share my views as an insider.

I don’t intent to make this a monologue about my life but my views are shaped from my own journey, so a little background is inevitable in this context. In a South Indian society at a time when the concept of single parenting was almost non existent, where a widow has two options, either remarry or become a life long dependent on her family for their leftover in return of her services. Its brave to take a less travelled road, its braver to pave the stones for your new road. Me and my brother grew up in a family headed by this woman. I don’t see a flaw here, I see a magnificent and empowering soil for a young mind to shape. I see opportunities for a child to learn a thousand lessons life takes a lifetime to teach a person from an affluent family or a so called normal family.

Dear single parent or kid, if a single web browsing scared you, you should remember in many ways you will be able to have a better life than what you think. You become the captain of the ship and the sea. For your children you are the world, you are not challenged in your decision making, you are the final answer, the arms to which they come running to. It is as rewarding as it is challenging.

Future unfolds itself, my Mom took each day as it came. Good and bad times she takes with a smile. She never changed or grew bitter, she has always been the most playful and childish among the three of us. Mostly our house had a positive ambience which is the most important thing a family requires. This is the most important part of what I have to say.

The second important thing according to my opinion is that the kids should live in their reality where good and bad times should be transparent to them. The occasional lows are fine, don’t hesitate to let it out when things are too heavy, sooner or later your kids will understand, your parents will understand. We were often described as a little matured for our age as kids. But how much can an infant, a toddler, a teenager absorb, the gravity of her mother’s courage when for her it is the life she knows, it is her normal. Even though I have always tried to understand and appreciate the life choices and perseverance, as years pass by more perspectives to think about the past opens up and you learn to appreciate it more and more.

It would have been suffocating if we were constantly reminded of our father’s  absence. I have no memory of him and was easier for me to feel complete. It is as a grown up that I analyzed the what ifs.

For my Mom her personality, her knowledge and education was her backbone. She found jobs, worked hard, took risks. She had ideas, she followed it, believed it and kept going. At the same time she was cheated, her money was taken and sometimes she was judged. But each baby step of success was so sweet. From the pretty little frocks she bought me to the new refrigerator, furniture, house and to the honor she has received in her field of work. It is so fulfilling as the children from a single parent household to be a part of this journey. It is so fulfilling for kids for their opinions to have a great value.

So was our lives the epitome of perfection? nope. But there were so many good sides to this story. And could life have been different if it was not a single parent household. Yes I would not have had to lie to people that my father is working abroad as he used to because you don’t want to advertise yourself as a vulnerable candidate in terms of social security. And also in many other ways. But at the end of the day we have turned out alright, the kids have turned out alright. As empathetic human beings with no history of drugs or criminal background. I just think of a single parent family as a super nuclear family.

 

 

The silver anklets on my dark feet

My beautiful brown skin,
Dark and invisible for some minds
Overlooked and forgotten by some eyes
My dark skin, in it’s feelings and memories
Is all the angst, the shame it was made to feel
And the way it felt vulnerable

My dark skin, it should have always known-
How it loved the nights more than the days
How it loves the deepest shades of night
I should have worn my silver anklets on my dark feet, a thousand years ago
I should have worn my crowns, the way I own it now

Familiar love

This familiar love
So subtle,
Mostly unnoticed
This familiar love
No strings attached
Mostly silent

The kiss that made you smile in your sleep
That soft look in someone’s eyes
The sound of someone’s sweet voice
The touch of some wrinkly hands
The long kiss, closed eyes
The warmth in someone’s hug

All gone one day
You reach an unfamiliar world
You wonder what you lost