Monday, November 10, 2008

Marc Riboud

I have just discovered Marc Riboud. Albeit a little late but then that's the story of my life! Tasveer is having an exhibition of his work starting this friday going on till the 7th of December. I must see it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Children in an adult's world

Today as I drove home I watched a little boy trying to cross the street. He was running with his school bag on his back and his lunch basket in his hand. He must have been 8 or 9, but he was alone crossing a busy street at three in the afternoon.

The world is unfair to children. They are born with little feet, little hands, and imaginative minds. With this they need to contend with a big world, big people, and practicality.

When parents walk, children must run to keep up.
When parents take a trip, children must sit strapped in a car, or an airplane for hours.
When teachers bellow children must listen.
When adults need to sit down children must stand up.
When drivers need to move children must get out of the way.
When adults speak children must understand.
When adults are late, children need to hurry.
When parents are busy, children need to play on their own.
When adults are talking, children must not but in.
When adults are working, children must be quiet.
When adults say, children must obey.

Later more children negotiated with this big world. One boy in his school uniform asked me to stop so he could go across and fetch his friend who was also asking me to stop so he could cross the road. I stopped, worrying about the cars behind me. They got across.

It's not fair. It's not fair that a child must live in an adult's world. Not at all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Busy Busy Busy

Coming off my Sabbath Rest life is now in high gear! We've moved house and the internet connection has not moved with us yet. Time has become so precious. My day starts early and ends late, and is packed in between. Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing. But I know I have. I get like that when standing in the bus for two hours on my ride home from work gets a little tiring. It was time for me to get back to the world and I should make the most of it.

Everyday I think of stuff I want to blog about... but don't get the time. Once our connection is set up at home it should get easier. Till then I'm not going to stress about not blogging!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Job

I have a new job that I'm really excited about. I started last week. For now I go in thrice a week but will do it full time once I'm done with my classes. After the interview I wasn't very sure if I would be selected but... I was! :) Good feeling.

The only thing is that it's rather far away... and I am back to taking two buses and leaving at 7:45am and traveling for two hours one way.

So I am a little stressed. But nothing good comes for free now does it?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Culture Class

I must say I have enjoyed this semester. My students are bright, interested and willing to learn. I think my course this time has improved from the last and I'm glad it has. It should.

I've been learning a great deal from them. They too force me to think differently, to learn more and grapple with more. For this I am grateful.

The course will soon be over and I will miss going into class.

Gerald Stern

I had arranged a meeting with Jeet Thayil and two of my student from my Culture class who loved These Errors are Correct. I had taken Jeet's poems to class and played the CD. The two bright young women are students of Literature back home, and one is looking to do a post graduation in creative writing with Poetry as a major.

So we had coffee and Koshys. The girls were full of questions and I could see that they had done their homework. They had devoured the two books of poetry I had given them and worked out exactly what they wanted to ask Jeet from form, to titles, to imagery to design art. It was a good meeting.

So through the meeting Jeet mentions some poets and asks if we've read... and we had to say "no". Then he mentioned Gerald Stern and when we nodded blankly said, "Are you guys writers?! What do you read!" So we were commissioned to head off to Blossom to pick up Gerald Stern's American Sonnets which we found after much searching and almost giving up. But we were glad we found it.

I borrowed the book from the girls and have been reading it. I love the way the poems sound. And today I looked Stern up and found him on Poets.org along with audio clips of his poems. It's always wonderful to hear a poet read his/ her poetry. Somehow it adds more meaning and you understand it better. The sonnets require repeated reading and their beauty - I think - lies in the fact that you don't fully understand them. There is a sense of mystery to them. Sometimes you think you've had a sudden surge of enlightenment and begin to see something. Is that what the poet wanted you to see? I don't know.

But I see it nevertheless and I like it. A few days later I will return to the same poem and see a little more. They are not poems you can read once and do away with. You have to keep coming back.

Something new

When I was working in my communications job I began a book. A book of learnings if you will. Everyday I would have my book open at my computer as I worked and when I came across something I did not know before I would write it down. Since we were in the business of newsletters I often had to read about a variety of things from skyscrapers to digital oil fields, from different kinds of tea to what would keep monsoon chills at bay. So I thought I should put it down.

Another reason I started this book is that I realized my life had become very 'small'(according to me). I had my job, I had home and church and that was that. I wasn't growing in anyway, I wasn't pursuing any of my interests, I was merely surviving. I almost had a breakdown one night because I realized that I had turned into a very boring person. Even the old "dry wit" was sparse. I had become boring even to myself. When this happens of course one loses confidence and self-worth. I didn't want to meet new people or talk to anyone I didn't already know coz I had no clue what I would say!

So the book not only documented what was new, it also pushed me to try out new things. I would listen to internet radio and listen to genres of music I would never have before! I began to read about kitchen gardening, quilting, art, music... anything that I found interesting. A new song each day, a new painting and artist, a new composed, a new quilt pattern... so much to discover! Life takes on a new meaning when you want to explore. Everything is so much more interesting.

So, I think I should start again. Something new each day. Something that I have not heard, seen, felt, tasted, or done before. I should do it!

The Elephant, the Tiger & the Cellphone

I really like this book. It's interesting to read and tells me so much that I did not quite know about my country, or puts in words thoughts and feelings I have had about her. It's strange but I felt like I was reading a novel when I read Shashi Tharoor's book. I didn't want to put it down and waited to find out what he was talking about in the next chapter!

History has always been difficult for me to read. Though this is not a historical book, it does give the present a socio-historic context that helps us understand life now a little better. Must read.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Vision

A year ago at a Sunday School Teachers' Training programme one of the facilitators asked us to write a paragraph describing the person we wanted to be at that time. So we had to think of everything we wanted to be, knowing that we were not those things, and put it down. We had to write it in the third person. Here is what I said in 2007.

Carol is 27, full of energy and has a zest for life. She is hopeful, positive yet practical. Her warm smile and welcoming manner makes her approachable. She takes care of herself - watching what she eats and getting enough exercise.

She has many interests but is currently pursuing theatre and photography. She reads a lot especially in areas of children, education and society. She cooks now and then but her day is not consumed with everyday household work. She tries to be involved with children - teaching them and being part of their lives.

She's learning to be a disciple of Jesus and everyday she tries to become more like him.

In life and marriage she is learning to love - her family, her husband, God and herself.


I think it was nice for me to put that down then. And I should really look at who I want to be now. I can already tell that a lot has changed and some of it is the same.

I don't that good a job of taking care of myself and am afraid may not be too into being a disciple of Jesus also... so I need to work on that. But I think I am working towards becoming a better person. I don't know how warm and approachable I am though. I need to keep coming back to this.

Children and abusing

It's Saturday and the kids are out playing. Amidst shouts of "What ra!" and "Play da" and "OUT!" is the "Shut up!" and "I'll kick your face ah!" They're my neighbors kids and I have seen one of them from the time he was a baby. Over the past few months I've been hearing them swear at each other a fair bit. Threats of knocking each others teeth out, breaking limbs and generally bringing pain fly around as much as the rubber ball they play lagori with. They are learning new swear words. I can tell since we hear them spell out that much loved four letter word late in the evening. It's like their are educating each other on the different words they can use.

When do children begin abusing each other? When do they begin to think that swearing and insulting others is cool? These boys are probably in the fourth grade but I have heard younger fellows cursing each other in Kannada even at the age of three! They can't say much else but they do have their abuses down. It seems that's one of the first things they learn when the head off to play school.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sewing Machine

So I'm thinking of buying a sewing machine in a couple of months. Not sure which one to go with though. Singer has Embroidery machines, Electronic Sewing machines, and Sewing machines. Since I was hoping to quilt, they do have a quilting machine - the 7469Q Confidence Quilter™



But I also want to do some craft kind of stuff. I'm not sure if this will work for both. It should I suppose. Dunno.Anybody with any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hello life :)

This is not to mean that I was not living for the past six months. In fact I felt more alive during this time than I did the previous year, or the year before that. Life has opened up for me and I'm enjoying it. I feel... lighter! :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Coming back!

:) It's been 6 months! I've been on Sabbath Rest since April and have been posting on insabbathrest.blogspot.com

Soon I will come back to Life and the Living. This makes me smile. I feel like I have spent my time well (for the most part). Of course there could have been things I could have done better, but I am happy with this time. I have become a different person. I got to take a good look at myself and am now able to move on. I'm sure the listening and learning does not end here. It shouldn't. I also need to see how I can interweave the two... take what I learned from Sabbath Rest into life. This will be interesting.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Taking a break

It's done! I have quit my job in the search for meaning, purpose, beauty, creativity, life, reason and above all - God. Actually I believe that getting things right with God will lead me to all these things anyway! So... I will be posting on insabbathrest.blogspot.com for a while... for as long as I am in Sabbath Rest. So...see you there!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

There is so much

There is so much in the world that I have not seen,
so much that I have not experienced.
So much beauty that I have not known,
so many stories I have not heard.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Love and Cancer

Last night I heard about a young man whose wife passed away recently. They had been married for 8 months. He fell in love with a girl, and then found out she had cancer. They married anyway, lived together for about 2 months, and then she had to go to another city for treatment. In the next 6 months she passed away.

Before she went to the hospital, he took her to a parlor, and she had a pedicure, and manicure, and facial, and the works. Now he bought a new phone, since the old one has all her messages on it.

This is not the movies. It's real life! And these are real people, in our time, in our journeys, taking tough decisions, giving meaning to life, and love.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Faith: The Substance of Things Unseen



Two close friends gave me this book about three years ago. They didn't know anything about Penelope J Stokes, neither had they read the book. I didn't read it then, but reading it now, I feel this is the right time for me to have picked it up! For those of us contemplating life change; for those of us wanting to step out in faith but are afraid; for those of us who know there is more to life than 'this'; for those of us who have always believed we must do more, and be more; this book is just right.

I am glad I am reading her book now, even before I take my break. In the hundred and odd pages that I have read, she doesn't say anything that we may not really know, but she says it! It's there on print! So, reading her my doubts of irrationality and general anxieties of being slightly insane, are put to rest.

It's simple, it's clear, it voices what I have thought and felt, and it holds great wisdom from someone who has left the shore. Thank you Nigel and Selena for this wonderful book! And thank you Penelope Stokes for living well, and writing about it too!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Disappointment

You remember my colleague who was trying to get her child into school? (Free education)Well, yesterday the list came out and the little boy's name was not there. My colleague is devastated! When I saw her this morning, her eyes were all puffy and she had the saddest look ever!

One has to think why a pre-school admission is causing so much grief. Yep! The boy was only entering pre-school, not kindergarten. She could try next year. There are other schools that he could go to. So, why be so depressed?

The context however, adds more light. My colleague lives in a joint family. There are two other children in the household who go to the same school that she applied to for her son. So, expectations are high, and to add, the family leaves no opportunity to sarcastically rub it in. It seems that my friend went ahead with this effort to enroll her son into the school, despite the family's obvious disagreement. And now, I think, she feels she has lost.

She really did want her son to get into this pre-school. It would better his chances of getting admission into kindergarten next year, and then she wouldn't have to worry about admissions till he needs to go to college. It's sad to see though. She really wanted this.

I suppose the fact the admission is given on the point system, which in many ways, refers back to the parents, rather than the child, couldn't have helped much. I wonder if she worries that she may have ruined his chances in some way. I hope she doesn't. That would be hard to live with.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Here's to life and the living!

It's done! I gave my one-month notice to the company I work with a couple of days ago. Come April, and I will not have a regular job. It's my leap of faith. After a year of believing that God does not quite care for my financial or physical needs, I have decided to let Him lead.

Our income will be cut by 50 per cent. That was the only thing holding me back from leaving. Well, we will just have to manage I guess!

The effects of this move are showing already.

I respect and love my husband more.(How many men would be ok with letting their wives doing this and take on all the financial responsibility? Especially those who want to do more with their lives than build a house, buy a car, and wear branded clothes?) In fact, he is the one who let me want to live life again, want to discover and explore and dream. And I am so grateful that he supports it. Am I blessed or what!

I am opening my mind to new possibilities.

I have begun to explore areas of interest that lay dormant for so long. (More about that in the days to come).

I am excited about life! I want to see what will happen!

I am excited about God! And... I want to see what will happen!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Elvis Presley

Yesterday I came up to my room and found Part 3 of Elvis: The Official Collector's Edition! Carefully propped up on the pillow of our bed, my husband had found the magazine at a store in Safina Plaza, Bangalore. Knowing me only too well, he bought it of course.



The magazine is fantastic! Each part apparently focusing on different parts of Elvis' life. So this one has his birth, his gospel music, Elvis, That's the way it is, and the story of Elvis and Colonel Parker. AND get this! There are Elvis collectible artifacts! Part 3 has The deeds to Graceland, Elvis' Dixie Motor Club card, a charity cheque bearing Elvis' signature! There is also a mini-poster promoting Elvis, That's the way it is. Being the official collector's edition, it has some pictures and information that you don't normally find so I'm really excited about it. Well... anything to do with Elvis gets me excited and sad at the same time. I can smile and cry in a second.



Now... what is even better is that I came up today and once again, lovingly placed exactly like yesterday, was Part 4! I can't tell you how great it felt to see it. I was looking at the back of Part 3 earlier and thought it would be great to have Part 4...and here it was! The beautiful part is that my husband found it, bought both yesterday, but chose to make the whole thing special. And it was.

So...Part 4! Yeah!! It has a football sketch drawn by Elvis, the registration document for Elvis' pink Cadillac, and Elvis' Honorable Discharge document from the Army. This is so fantastic!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What they think of me



They did a round of introductions recently at work and this is a little of what they said...

The dormant activist. Don't you dare offer her Coke. Or uphold the current Indian education system. If you do, you can be sure she has enough arguments to knock the wind out of you. A thinking person's favorite. She blends reason, wit and sarcasm into her copy! And of course, gets upset when clients cant appreciate either.

Hmm... so that's what they think. Dormant activist. Maybe true. I have been dormant mostly. What I feel I really should do is find a way in which someone would listen! Like I said in my previous post, every time I say something, people don't really listen. Is it the tone, the anger in my voice, too much passion, what is it? How do we make people listen?

We don't care

Every time I begin to talk about the environment, Coke's atrocities on the world's water, the situation of our education system, anything that I feel strongly about that I really think everyone should feel strongly about... I hear a "Ok...here she goes again...," or "Simmer down, it's ok..."

Why would anybody think that depriving an entire village of water to make Coca Cola is ok? Or the melting of the ice caps in the Arctic region, or the death of the polar bears, or the fact that it is really very hot in Bangalore right now, and the reason is global warming? Why is everything bloody ok?

The reason it is ok is the same reason we are in this mess. Most of us don't really care as long we have our conveniences, as long as we are not the ones being evicted from our homes because the whole village has flooded! As long as we get our water, and our food, and our clothes... we don't care if someone else has a well infused with pesticide, we don't care if children on an island are eating mud-cakes, we don't care that little children stitch the soles of our branded shoes... the hell with all that. We don't care!

And so we will go on... not listening to the voices that speak... not hearing the cries... not caring.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Killing's not the answer

Killing's not the answer
No matter what you say
Killing's not the answer
It isn't God's way

We all must get together
Try to help mankind
We must stop the fighting
Fighting makes us blind

- Jose Feliciano

Simple song. Powerful message. When will we hear it? When will we stop killing in the name of peace? The earth is drenched with the blood of her children. And yet we continue to murder. Our reasons - someone looks different, someone believes something other than we do, someone is blocking our way on the street! Life is too precious to take in one sweeping, unthinking act of hatred or fear. When will it all end?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Free education?

Article 45 of Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution made it the duty of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to age 14.

The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act 2002 has provided for free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years as a Fundamental Right under Article 21A of the Constitution. Also, the Act provides under Article 45 that the State shall endeavor to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of 6.


A colleague of mine is trying to get her three and a half year old son into a reputed school in Bangalore. There has been some change in the way they do their admissions now. In keeping with the Ganguly Report they are following a point system. And, as some parents would think, the school was under just a little bit of pressure about filling their coffers with the sales of admission forms. Note admission forms – not fees, or donations, or building fund – just the admission forms. So they have done away with admission forms. Now all you need to do is buy the prospectus for Rs 300, which you need to refer to in order to write the letter requesting for admission. Hmm – so what was that about the admission form fee again?

The next issue one must talk about of course is the big F word – Fees! “Well last year it was Rs 43, 000, I don't know what it will be this year. “ 43 THOUSAND!!! My friend has been putting aside money since her child was born, timed the exact month and year and has her deposits maturing just so she can pay the institution a sum that could feed a family of 5 for... I don't know how long. All this for one year of schooling. Schooling that will supposedly prepare him for the big bad world, and equip him to enter the rat race. Well, maybe I shouldn't be too hard on the education system these days. Maybe there is something worth Rs 43,000 that they will be teaching the little fellow. Like the letters of the alphabet, numbers, nursery rhymes... and then weights and measures and so on. Yes... all very important and necessary.

Of course, through all this, the child will not be allowed to question anything, will have to simply follow the drill, will get lost in the crowd, will definitely learn his 2 times 2, and a whole bunch of other words, and sure enough make it through high school and go on to become a doctor... or an engineer perhaps. I'm not sure how much his schooling is going to cost my friend. And then there is college and a professional course, and a Masters in the States.

The trend seems to be that parents need to pay a great deal of money to get their children through a school with a 'name'. Whether it is the fees, the donation, or the other expenses that come up through those 10 years, not to mention gifts for the teacher and principal.

My cousin's 2 year old will start play school soon at Rs 17,000 a year in June. She wanted to send him to a Montessori school, but that would mean they would be dearer by Rs 35,000 so she chose the play school.

The State of course does provide free education in the guise of Government Schools. This would mean a lack of facilities and teachers, children dropping out early, girls leaving school to work, bad food in the mid-day meal, etc, etc, etc...

When will our children be given their rights?

Monday, February 18, 2008

I must fight my own mediocrity

I must fight my own mediocrity
Battle with it and drive it
into the abyss

If I am not
What I want to be
I am to blame

There must be struggle
to become

Phototramping

I was looking at a photography site (in my endeavor to educate myself on this fine skill) and came across Maciej Tomczak and his site phototramp.com. Maciej calls the site an "online forum dedicated to budget-travel photojournalism."

The man apparently goes around the world, documenting his low-budget travels through photographs. And the pictures are something else! I especially like a close up shot of an animal he took in Alaska, I can't figure out which animal it is, though by the cold blue eyes I can tell it must be rather menacing. Black head with blue eyes and the focus is on the eyes...sent a shiver down my spine but I had to keep looking at it. When else would I get to look into the eyes of a predator?

He also offers tours that interested folk can take with him. Think he might be on one now in Asia. Would be a fantastic thing to do sometime - once I have a decent camera, and the money!

Grilled Vegetables for those who don't cook



I don't cook much. Having to make three meals a day, everyday, throughout the year weighs me down. So much can be done in the time it takes to prepare food on a regular basis that is consumed in approximately 15 – 20 minutes, often with very little conversation to accompany it. Still, one must do the things one must do I guess.

For those of us whose culinary skills have much to be desired here's what I did with some vegetables, olive oil, and an oven.

Chop a bunch of interesting vegetables like red, yellow, and green bell peppers, some mushrooms, baby corn, broccoli and onion. Add some tofu to it and the dish is even better. It's probably a good idea to give the baby corn and broccoli about 3 minutes in the microwave each. Now ideally I think grilling vegetables will have to be done one kind of vegetable at a time. The onions get done faster than the mushrooms, the mushrooms faster than the bell peppers, the bell peppers faster than the baby corn, so you might either end up burning the onions or under-cooking the baby corn. Still if your family is not too picky, and you don't have then time, I say put them all in at a time!

So, once you've got all the veggies together, add some olive oil, basil, sage, salt and white pepper (before putting them in). You could use other herbs as well depending on what you have at home. Mix em up and put them in the grill section of the oven at about 180 degrees, on low heat. You will need to keep a look out, and turn them around a few times so you don't burn them too much. It takes a bit of time, but the result is great!

Use a nice bowl/ platter, place a bed of lettuce on it and place the vegetables and you have a rather pretty looking, and tasty dish.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Inspired by Mattie J T Stephanek

I had not heard of him before. This is my loss.
I found Heartsongs at a local book fair and so found him on the internet.
I had not heard of him before. And this is my loss.

I have read his book now and read about his life.
I have heard about him now. And this is my gain.

If you haven't read his books, or heard of him. You should. It will be your gain.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Have you seen the old man?

We were out to dinner. Before we went in we met an old man, wrapped up in a blanket waiting for someone to drop a couple of coins in his hands. I did, and we went in to eat. The restaurant was filled with young people, eating, laughing, enjoying their time and meal together. A child slept as her parents picked on gobhi manchurian, another couple looked like they were having a fight, and the burly looking man who served us talked of Valentines Day. The old man sat on the street, looking in. He carried his life's treasure in a huge plastic bag, handles tied together with a cloth.

How must it feel for someone to sit on the outside looking in at people who spend hundreds of rupees on one meal, when he couldn't afford one. What had this man been through? Did he have a family, children, what was his life like? When you sit on the street, a brand, the latest phone or computer, the finest cuisine, the fastest car... none of it matters. When you need to sleep on the footpath it doesn't matter if you're wearing Victoria's Secret...

We got him some fried rice. He accepted like he was receiving prasad and said, "Thanks ma" and nodded his head. How much one meal must mean for those who are hungry. How much a blanket must mean for those who are cold. How much a smile means to those who have no one.

I was reminded of an old song yesterday. Ralph McTell's Streets of London sums up the experience.

Have you seen the old man
In the closed down market
Kicking up the papers with his worn out shoes
In his eyes you see no pride
Hands held loosely at his side
Yesterday's paper, telling yesterday's news
So how can you tell me you're lonely
And say for you that the sun don't shine
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you through the streets of London
I'll show you something
To make you change your mind

Have you seen the old girl
Who walks the streets of London
Dirt in her hair and her clothes in rags
She's no time for talking
She just keeps right on walking
Carrying her home in two carrier bags


In the old night cafe at a quarter past eleven
The same old man sitting there on his own
Looking at the world over the rim of his teacup
Each tea lasts an hour, and he wanders home alone

Have you seen the old man
Outside the seaman's mission
Memory fading with the minor ribands that he wears
In our city winter the rain cries little pity
For one more forgotten hero
And a world which doesn't care

So how can you tell me you're lonely
And say for you that the sun don't shine
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you through the streets of London
I'll show you something
Thank will make you change your mind

Jose Feliciano in Bangalore

Yesterday we were at the Johnnie Walker One Tree Music Festival 2008 featuring Jose Feliciano. The concert of course was brilliant and everyone had a great time. What I can't get is these guys who show up at concerts and make a whole lot of noise, shout requests like they are at a common bar with the local band playing, make sure their comments on music, the band and anything else that crosses their minds. Yesterday a guy shouted, "We love you Jose! And I like you're band too, it's a good band." Oh yeah...thank you for your approval mister! And then there were people whistling and shouting while they were performing! What joy is there in listening to music like that? I understand people are excited and everything, but I think what we lack is a sense of respect for the musician, and the music, and the audience. These are not a local wedding band that you can shout out requests to. After all the years of playing,the genius that the man is, the legend he has become, why would he want to stray from an obviously well planned and rehearsed performance just to make a little whiny, loud, disrespectful person feel special?

PS It reminded me of the young kid who shouted requests at the Frank Gambale and Maurizio Colonna concert in Bangalore a few months ago. The kid said, "We want some blues" and Mr Gambale said, "That was blues man, where were you?" So the kid, again said,"We want some more!" To which Mr Gambale replied, "Well, we're gonna play what we want to play so there."

Hope

I stood at the window of our 6th floor office, Maurizio Colonna's classical guitar playing on my shuffle. It's a cool day today. Reminds me of the Bangalore I used to know. The soft breeze, the kind that brings a chill with it, but not something that makes you cover up. The kind that tingles on your skin, and caresses your face, and makes you feel like you could fly. Add beautiful classical guitar music to that breeze and you experience weightlessness. I look to the left and can see the trees also taken up with this feeling of flight. They dance in the breeze, swaying to the wind's tunes. The sun is not harsh on them today. And then I can see school children on their playing field. Little girls in uniform, and school bags, running, laughing, talking...it all seems so beautiful. I looked out the window, and felt that maybe there was hope for the world. That maybe, just maybe, we could change the effects of global warming, devastation, and the misery we have brought on to the earth. Maybe, we could enjoy those beautiful cool days we once knew, and children would still play in open fields and trees would give us shade.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Getting water



We stopped to get some tender coconut water on our way back from Coorg near a village and this little girl was there, filling water. Notice her scraping off the meat of the coconut. It's not one she bought, but something she has picked up from the many that were discarded by passers by. Like us, others had stopped in their big cars, enjoyed the cool drink, haggled maybe about the price, eaten the white fruit, and carelessly thrown the shell...for a little girl from the village to come at noon, and scrape the remains.



As I watched her, she protected her pot of water like it was her life! Even shouted at the older women who tried to get to the tap before her. Like others, this ten, or eleven-year-old will carry two, maybe three pots of water home for her family to wash, cook, and bathe with.

Washing



Same village, to the right, this little girl washes clothes. The rights of the girl child...???

Camera woes

So, right now I'm taking pictures with a Fuji Finepix, 3x zoom digital camera. Looking to buy a good one... have been recommended a Sony DSC H7 but not sure if that would be the best thing for me. Have to make up my mind soon!

Taking pictures




Took this picture in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India. Fresh honey! We unfortunately didn't have time to chat with the man who was selling it, or even buy some. I don't like the taste of honey but am always fascinated by the honeycomb.

So much to do, so little time


Now that I have opened myself up to life and all its possibilities I am a little worried that I will not live long enough to experience the wondrous joys there are. I have to take a moment and read that sentence again. For about 24/25 years I have been a true pessimist. Today, for me to say that I actually want to live life to enjoy it, is almost absurd! Anyone who knows me would be surprised, I know my husband will be overjoyed (even though he knows the high will come down sometime and then I will want to die all over again), but I think it is important for me, and my friends to know that I do have times when I revel in life!

Blame it on the Sleeping Beauty Ballet Suite I am listening to now, or my husband's optimism and love for life that probably got me started anyway. Either which way, this is a good feeling!

Now I can only think of all the many things that I could do with my life right from gardening, to sewing projects, to learning about art, and music, to travel, to education, to dancing, to activism, to writing... the possibilities are truly endless!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Moonlight Sonata




I am listening to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, and I remember that I used to play this piece – a simpler version I am sure. I started off with piano lessons when I was ten. I even did a Grade I with honors, and worked on pieces at the Grade 4 level, but never took exams after that. My piano teacher, a dear old Anglo-Indian woman whom I still love very dearly, thought it was better for me to not take up the exams. She thought it would simply lighten my parents pockets, especially since I was not going to take up music seriously. I guess she was right. Or maybe the attitude didn't really help me. I didn't practice much at the time. Not one of those children who was drawn to the toil and struggle that becoming good at one's skill involves.

My tryst with learning the keys kind of ended when I was seventeen. I must say however, that I had a great teacher in the last couple of months of the journey. Rohit, a young pianist, who now plays and teaches music somewhere in the States professionally, changed the way I looked at piano lessons. I practiced more, was interested, thought the piano was cool, and actually enjoyed it! Till then, my lessons were more of something I had to do on my parents insistence. Unfortunately, those lessons didn't last long and there ended my association with the piano. Not motivated enough I guess. Also, the fact that when you're young your parents want to show off your skills and ask you to play each time someone comes home does not really help.

Today I thought, why didn't my first teacher play these pieces for me before she taught them to me? I mean, I had no clue what the music was supposed to sound like. Rohit on the other hand, fished out the music we were learning, played it for me, let me take home the tape and really got me interested in what I was playing. It made such a difference.

Many years later, I enjoy listening to classical music. I wish I could have started off by listening. Maybe then, I would have wanted to play!

Then again, nothing to stop me now.

Where's my return gift?


Over lunch, a friend of mine narrated her horrendous experience of managing her 5 year old nephew's birthday party. Her sister had invited about 30 children and 40 adults to her only son's big bash. After an interesting puppet show for the kids, it was time to cut the cake. Song sung, candles blown, pictures taken, my friend and her aunt decided to save themselves the trouble of carrying the cake to the floor below, and carrying it all the way back up, so they went ahead and began cutting for distribution right there. The poor things. One must never cut cake in front of 30 excited young children, and definitely not a Superman cake!

“I want his head!” “I want his left boot!” “Give me his cape!” The cries surrounded them. I could only imagine the chaos as she narrated the soon-to-turn sordid tale. Little eyes staring at the sweet treat, little hands groping to get their share, little voices getting louder by the minute! Lord help! The children descended like a swarm of angry bees protecting their queen – in this case a 7kg Superman cake that each one wanted for himself, and yes, herself.

My friend and her aunt did they best they could to contain the mob of 3 foot monsters, and cut cake, and serve, and bring children water, and bring them tissue, and try to stay calm. Then the kids gorged on Superman's body parts, drank a lot of water, and of course did not want to eat any dinner.

After a generally rambunctious two hours, the kids were ready to leave, and the adults ready to drop! Then we have the clincher. They came up to the birthday boy's mother and said, “Where's my return gift?”

At this point in the story my jaws really did drop! I have not heard of kids demanding for return gifts at birthday parties. I mean, don't parent's teach kids to be well mannered anymore? Agreeably the adults could have done a better job of handling the whole cake affair – basic rule, take the cake into a safe place, cut it up into equal-sized pieces, and serve them on paper plates with napkins. Also, we can say that the kids were excited, too much sugar, mob mentality and all that... but still! I remember we had 40 kids at our birthday parties and nobody pounced to take the head of the little ginger bread man! Now don't get me wrong, I love children and work with them all the time. Probably another reason why I'm so worried about them.

And what of demanding for return gifts? Now, when seen as an isolated incident, it may seem funny, even cute for children between the ages of 4 and 7 asserting themselves, and getting what they want. But I really worry about the state of aggression and materialism that has crept into our children these days. Apparently return gifts are mandatory at kids parties and children will ostracize a child, if their party didn't have any. So in the grand social circle of 4 year olds, it's really important to have a 'happening' birthday party.

God help us all!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Why did Eve eat the fruit?

In my Sunday School Class today we were talking about Hearing God's Voice. We were looking at Genesis 2 and how the first humans, though they had understood what God had said to them about not eating the fruit from the tree, still listened to the voice of the snake. As we talked about how Eve was able, until then, to actually speak with God, have the most real relationship with the Creator, have a great life, had understood perfectly well about not eating from the tree and still chose to go ahead with Satan's offer, one student said, "Maybe she did not know that 'Satan' was in the garden. Maybe God didn't tell her about Satan, so she really did not know that she had to be careful."

I have never thought about that before. Why did God not warn them about Satan? Why didn't He not only give instructions about the tree, but also tell them that evil would be lurking in Paradise. I don't really know... and maybe we are not meant to know. But it would be interesting to find out.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Dying well

The other day my husband and I were talking about how life has changed so much for people we know who have lost their spouses. After years of marriage, being single again is almost crippling for many people. And in India, for a woman to be widowed sometimes takes away any reason to live! There's a lot to say about the plight of widows in India, but I won't go into that for now.

I really want to talk about what my husband said during the conversation. "We should prepare each other for death." This may seem a bit gruesome, but it's a very good idea. Everyday, as we live, we also need to prepare for death. After all, we are getting closer to it. But don't get me wrong, this is not a morbid preparation where we begin to grieve right away!

I think preparing for the death of our spouses, and our loved ones, will only make us love them more, to show that one act of kindness, to hold them a little closer at night, to let go of the silly little things that irritate us about them, to not raise our voices, to go the extra mile and do something for them - even if it is inconvenient, to put their needs before our own, to cherish every moment we spend with them, and to live life to the full.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Wait!

Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord -Psalm 27:14

I must wait for the Lord to speak. This is because I have been on somewhat of a silent, distant relationship with Him for a while now. Sometime in the beginning of last year I got the feeling that I had to take care of myself. That really, there was no one who could actually look out for me, and this included God. Somehow, I got the feeling that God was not really around much. Illness, and death of loved ones can do that to you. How many times have I cried and pleaded with God to heal. It never came. After the burials, prayer became harder. I was standing at a door, banging and banging and He wouldn't let me in. At least, so I thought.

Anyway, I decided I would have to do this on my own, so I changed my job, counted my pennies and did what I had to do. It's hard being an adult - fending for yourself, looking out for your family and other people. It's tiring! And might I add, I was very busy with the house of the Lord too! Like my SS teacher said, "You are in your Fathers house, but you just got busy with the housekeeping!" That is only one side of the story. It's not that simple.

So, the end result - frustration, anger, resentment, disappointment, sadness, grief, hurt.... All of it.

The thing is that I know I have so much more to offer but I'm holding myself back because I am afraid I will not have enough to eat! Or enough to wear, or a roof above my head, or a car to drive in. I am worried my children will have the same hassles and that I won't be able to pay for their education. And the best part is, I don't even have kids!

"Do not worry about what you will eat or what you will wear..."

I should have thought of what the Master said a little earlier. I should have believed Him.

So now, I have worked for close to a year, doing something I really did not want to do in the first place, and I have eaten and gotten bigger, bought some nice clothes, driven around in a car and added to the pollution, and who knows what else!

But I have also learned, I have explored, I have extended myself, I have been enriched.

It's overwhelming how God lets you do these crazy things like be upset with Him, or not really converse with Him, and yet, He continues to work in your life, and continues to take care of you...it's really quite incomprehensible!

And yet He does it and so here I am. Back again... forgiven...embraced...loved.

Giving up meat

This year I gave up all red meat and chicken. It's been a whole month and I don't miss it at all! I do eat fish and egg whites - for the protein and Omega 3 fatty acids. But it's been good to give meat up. I think I lost a kg... :)The benefit is that I find it quite refreshing. After all these years, I felt light after a New Year's lunch! When we go out now, I need to find other things to eat rather darting straight to KFC, or choosing the barbecued spare ribs at a Chinese restaurant. So it really is a whole new experience and I'm enjoying it.

Taking control

I've been fighting weight for as long as I can remember. My dad used to wake me and my two brothers up at 5.30 in the morning to take us jogging. I hated it. Twenty odd years later I struggle with weight...am Grade 1 obese... and don't feel too good about the way I look. Being over weight has had many implications on my life, and really has defined how I look at myself.

Anyway, without more moping... the reason I began to write about this whole thing was that today I made a positive move in my thinking towards weight loss. I got so sick of sitting on a chair in the office that when I came home, I went out for a walk! It was a short walk - don't know if it did me any good on the calorie front but it sure made me feel much better. I even kept moving after I got home, danced around, did some stretches...honestly, I didn't want to stop! This is a big thing for someone who normally takes to the television for evening recreation.

As I exercised I thought that I should write about this... I intended to keep a diary but then... what's blogger for huh? So ... I'm gonna talk about this right here.. and who knows...maybe we can share ideas and stuff.

For me... this is not only about losing weight. This is about taking a hold of my life and saying, " I will do what I want with my life...I will be who I want, I will become who I want, I will live my life on my own terms!" Phew... It's great just saying it!

This is the start of a beautiful journey... I just know it!