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Showing posts from February, 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 ca…

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?

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 th…

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…

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.

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&#…

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,…

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 th…

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 educati…

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 St…

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 bee…

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 i…

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 u…

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 …

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 a…