Morning! :)

It has been a beautiful start to the day. The sun kissed tree tops reflect off the shimmering green on to a sky that’s so blue that your eyes will hurt, with a few scattered tufts of white. The slanting sun rays touch softly and playfully upon the tops of the buildings making them look magical. The peaks of the nearby hills stand out in vivid contrast to the blue sky and the thin mist. Where the sun is, there are supporting elements of purple and pink skies… The whole atmosphere seems mystical, those once-in-a-rare-while kind of moods. Nature has welcomed monsoon. Time for us to do so

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Friends, That Are Not Forever

How much a person comes to depend upon friendship in a lifetime is beyond comprehension to ordinary thought. As author Massimo Pigliucci says of Aristotle, ‘Aristotle’s opinion was that friends hold a mirror up to each other; through that mirror they can see each other in ways that would not otherwise be accessible to them, and it is this (reciprocal) mirroring that helps them improve themselves as persons. Friends, then, share a similar concept of eudaimonia [Greek for “having a good demon] and help each other achieve it. So it is not just that friends are instrumentally good because they enrich our lives, but that they are an integral part of what it means to live the good life.’

Having been witness to some quite exemplary examples of friendship, it is only natural to feel that warmth seep into you and make you want to discover the joy of having to build a relation with a person that’s compatible to you yet again, over and over.

The previous month saw the passing away of one of the most cherished of relatives, leaving an empty place that is but an ode to friendship. What moves on, always, is never any person, or any relation, I think. It’s just the concept that goes on to take a place of secondary importance in our own minds.

I quote Andrew Sullivan from Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex and Survival, “You can tell how strong the friendship is by the silence that envelops it. Part of this reticence is reflected in the moments when friendship is appreciated. If friendship rarely articulates itself when it is in full flood, it is often only given its due when it is over, especially if its end is sudden or caused by death. Suddenly, it seems, we have lost something so valuable and profound that we have to make up for our previous neglect and acknowledge it in ways that would have seemed inappropriate before…”

In the recent past, I had this soul awakening, thunderstorm-in-the-mind, eye opening experience, in that order, regarding my own friends. The whole support system that I thought I had turned out to be illusory, and it dawned that different people call out to, and for, different aspects of you. The ones you are friends with the most are not necessarily the ones you get to spend the most time with, and the ones with whom you do indeed share laughter, tears and insecurities with, are not necessarily the ones you want to be with. The people I had, I have them now too, I do. They are good people, just people who do not see things as I do; or the plain truth, people who are not in a symbiotic relation with friends. Free spirits, in other words!

Friends of family, friends since school, friends, that are family. Blessed are those that have them. Ties, that go deeper than conceptual understanding. People, who reinforce the goodness in people. Ones that stand strong, unswayed by the test of time. It feels wonderful to be a witness to such a bonding. It’s a kind of an anchor – at a time when your own belief systems take a hit.


Note  – The quotes from writers Andrew Sullivan and Massimo Pigliucci are largely courtesy of articles on Brain Pickings, a personal blog by Maria Popova.

#BengaluruDiaries

The summer of 2015, I’d been on a visit to Bengaluru, and I’ve to say that the city is, in many ways just the same as Mumbai is.
On a busy Monday evening, when you would expect the streets and markets to be relatively empty, and the city peaceful – it’s just about the opposite! Streets filled neck-to-neck with people that come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colours and ethnicities – all of them ‘Bangaloreans’, Kannadigas or otherwise. Temples stand shoulder to shoulder with hardware stores, stationery stores wrestle for visibility with those selling adornments – accessories like trinkets, bangles, necklaces, earrings. Lingerie stalls jut shamelessly out of the footpaths onto the roads, and the Gods are well taken care of and appeased in many a roadside shrine.

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The people here are largely just as filthy as those in Mumbai, with plastic litter jostling for walking space with the pedestrians.
At Chickpet, the wholesale silk haven of Bengaluru, dresses and drapes in all shapes and sizes are variously displayed. Ganigarpet is the place for all kinds of gift-items and other nitty-gritty. Avenue Road is just off Ganigarpet – all by-lanes here appear to be similar – it’s like a maze with crisscrossing roads everywhere with excessive wares on display!

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There are sellers of all kinds of things here – jackfruit, bhel, mangoes, more mangoes, paan, sweetmeats and savouries, guava, and other fruits, (stalls selling) sugarcane juice, and the apparent South Indian favourite – sweet corn!
Excessive vehicles were a sight in this marketplace too, continuing the impression of Bengaluru as a city with too many vehicles. I say excessive not because of the lack of people to own/drive them, but because they are all out in a grandiose display everywhere you look. The result is a watery-eyes, stifled-breath, kerchief-on-face kind of pollution. The residents don’t seem to mind, though! The climate is pleasant here – how, marred by all this pollution remains a mystery to me! (Hint: maybe because there are more number of trees here.)
All in all, the city is an ordered chaos, and totally lives up to its reputation of being a metropolis, replete with wide roads, a booming real estate, and blotches of greenery right in the middle of it….you just get swept into the way things are!

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Trans-genders

My first ‘meet’ with transgenders after passing of India’s transgenders equality bill was at a nondescript station called Tilati, where my train made an unscheduled halt en route to Bengaluru. What i have generally observed about eunuchs is that they tend to be a happy bunch, inspite of the problems they face. This group I met, was no different 🙂

When they saw me, camera in hand, at the door of the train, their faces lit up like an excited kid’s. “Arre, humara bhi photo kheencho na!” (“Hey, click our picture too!”), they chirped. The said request fulfilled, they went their way, beaming.

I think this is how memories are made.

What the bill would mean for transgenders, whether they would finally get their rightful place in our society, how long it will take, i do not know. Till then, I say let us just treat them with compassion (and not pity or disgust) and share with them their smile. Say what?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender

Happy Birthday, Dad.

It’s my dad’s birthday today. Which, it doesn’t really matter, for he has been there for me always, irrespective of the boundaries of time or space.


Dear Dad,

Happy birthday. Given that it is already late evening now, I should have perhaps wished you sooner. But this isn’t anything unusual, isn’t it? We have never really spoken much; words definitely don’t define the extent of our relationship.

I’ve wondered, a lot of times, when I was but a child, why, we don’t ever have real meaningful conversations. Philosophies of life kind of talks. Why conversations were mostly limited to the need of the moment. Later, I was told, ‘Dad isn’t an emotive person. He doesn’t really know how to express.’ How is a person then supposed to talk, I wondered. There were many questions dad, but no one to answer. There were many stories too, but no one to tell to. Being an ambivert myself, I have been a victim of my moods as well.

I understand I’m not the daughter you would like me to be (read obedient, traditional, religious, etc). I realise there might not have been a lot of moments for you in which to feel proud of me. We do not meet at the same plane, either. But what I realise when I look back upon my 19 years is that you have been ready to invest the years in me, being there, silently, as I fall, learn, fail, and even repeat some mistakes. For that, I’ll be ever grateful. For me, you have slogged, fought, sacrificed.

I do not promise to change. I might not get moulded to fit into the frame you’ve in your mind for your daughter. But it doesn’t matter, really.

On this day, I wish for you to keep growing in your mind, to keep adding to the results that years of experience and Grandpa Time must’ve given you. I hope that one day, we’ll both be ready to meet on an even field. On that day, in a place which will be beyond right and wrong, good and bad, unshackled by the constraints of the society, we’ll talk freely…and I’ll tell you how important you are to me. That, and that I love you.

Yours lovingly,

Your only daughter.

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An evening with Dr. Kalam

On the last day of the recently held ‘Techfest’, an initiative of IIT-B (Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay), the guest of honour of the day was the former president of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. After having heard many references about the man since childhood, and having read his words of motivation for the youth, it piqued my interest to be finally seeing him, and attending a talk by him.

The talk was in the evening, one of the last talks of the day, and the following are some of my thoughts before the session, and a bit about the lecture itself.

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Notes from my diary –

(Sometime before the talk was scheduled)

Today might be the day to get an idea of the hype that surrounds Dr. Kalam. Abdul Kalam’s name brings feelings of warmth, honesty, the sense of the person’s humility, & greatness. What is it that draws these qualities in parallel with his persona? Time to find out.

Courtesy, Techfest – 2015, IIT-B.

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(Minutes before Dr. Kalam’s entry)

What spectacular entry would it be? What would herald the arrival of the ‘awaited one’?

Music? Drum beats? I think it’ll be the thumping hearts. Anxious to catch the first glimpse. Eager to absorb it all. The moment is exciting – like one is awaiting announcement of results; like the last ball of a cricket match that will decide it all…

Hundreds of people. An awesome place (with beautiful lighting, and good ventilation). Tight security arrangements. Countless mike – checks.

One name. APJ Abdul Kalam.

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He entered to a standing ovation. He finished, again receiving a standing ovation. Thunderous claps boomed across the hall from time to time….

‘My topic for today is ‘World Vision 2030 – empowering the 3 billion. Topic okay?’ he asked the audience.

And from there, he took us on a merry walkthrough with real earnestness, inspiring zest, and a passion so genuine that it was impossible to not be awed. Dr. Kalam spoke of various things. He explained his vision for the world, the dynamics of global manifestation, namely environment, people, economy, and ideas, the need of a borderless globe, his perception on what were the most significant scientific contributions in 2014, etc. He called on the youth to be the leaders of the future.

“Sir, how did you become so great?” asked an innocent little voice at the end of the session.

‘Great is a relative term,’ he said, amid fitful laughter. ‘You must have a dream, continuously acquire knowledge, work hard, persevere, and be unafraid of problems. Then, you get success.’

The people’s president had spoken.

Brand new.

What if it wasn’t the 2nd of January, 2015 today but some other day? Perhaps 31st December, 2014?
How different would the perception of the day be? Do we all live our lives so purposefully as to make each day count?
With the turn of a year, we celebrate new beginnings, renew our hopes, set or re-set our goals, and more importantly, look forward towards the future. But while looking ahead, do we also create a present that’s worthy enough of the future?
New year wishes are exchanged like crazy, with what the social media being on an all-time high. In the virtual world, are real relations retained? Worked upon?
There are hundreds for whom a new year would simply mean another year of survival. I pray that they get a fair shot at living this time around…
Given the number of terror attacks and diseases (global and otherwise) that marked 2014, it is a reassuring thought to think of the families of victims and survivors moving ahead in the direction of peace with the positive aim of forgiveness. I wish for them, strength.
I wish for all of us that we get more sensitive about the things happening around us, and give in to bringing about a positive change.
I wish that love prospers.
Amen.