Monday, February 16, 2009

This Valentine season....

This Valentine weekend, the Ram Sena group headed to Lalbagh, Bangalore to ensure couples do not indulge in too much fun and frolic. However, members of the group were seen in compromising positions themselves and some were even seen neglecting their duty totally to chill out with the likes of other couples that were present. Shocking indeed to the larger community who rely on them to keep the couple menace in Lalbagh under control. Exclusive shots below.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Um, sort of!

Person A: Do you get up in the morning everyday and cook? Must be hard!
Person X: No! Noway!
Person A: Oh! So how come you bring packed lunch to office everyday?
Person X: Well…..
Person A: You have a cook?!
Person X: Um, sort of! I have a mother in law…..

Hmm, thank god for good and able mother in laws. Touch wood!

Pleasing others

Do you know any animal, plant, or any other living thing in this world other than man which tries to please another individual of its species? Fight definitely, seduce yes, love maybe, but please? Only man, I think, wants to please another man.

When I say please here, I would obviously like to make it distinct from other actions. Pleasing to me seems like something that is done with an ulterior motive. It is an act shrouded with niceties on top with a hidden interior. The act of pleasing itself is not the goal; the individual who is trying to please another is actually trying to get something else done. Maybe get the other person to like him, love him or give him something. Maybe it’s all about approval and acceptance.

Why do we want to please others? Why can’t we just say it as it is? Live it as it is? Why worry about what others think of you? Why worry about getting others to like you? Why care?

Why worry about fitting in?


PS: I read this somewhere in a blog.... “You don’t fit in because you were born to stand out” .....Loved it.

Edited to add: I came across an interview with Yvonne Foong in a newsletter, and when I went to her blog I found a post titled "Pleasing people is stressful, then why do it?". Yes, pleasing others is awfully stressful and if you are compelled to do it for an important cause (like Yvonne), it will be even more nerve-wrecking. Hope Yvonne gets all the support she requires, financially and otherwise.

Of diseases, ailments…. and thoughts

I read these two pieces of articles today that got me thinking about ailments, diseases, and their cures & treatments. At first glance, the articles appeared totally un-connected. The first one talks about this new method of treating Cancer – threateningly yet comfortingly named “CyberKnife”. It is a robotic radio surgery system which has been imported to India for the first time that will enable Cancerous cells to be destroyed through minimal surgery without affecting the surrounding tissues. The procedure is completely automated, does not require any monitoring by doctors or experts, and the patient gets cured of Cancer within as short a time as a week compared to the 5-6 weeks treatment under the traditional surgical method of Cancer treatment. The article makes one imagine the patient getting up and walking away after the surgery (maybe a few days later), returning to the life as he knew it (at least the semblance of one) before he discovered the disease.

The second article is about the holistic healing of mind and body. It is an excerpt from a book called “Heal Thyself” and talks about how treating diseases with just material intervention is totally useless. The excerpt starts with saying that diseases are manifestations of the unrest between mind and soul in the physical body. It is merely a symptom of disquiet in your self (beyond the physical body) and treating just the physical body is like doing away with just the symptoms and not really the underlying cause of the disease.

Now, let’s go back to the first article on CyberKnife. By just killing the cancerous cells in one’s body if one can do away with their disease it is wonderful. But what about the underlying cause of those cancerous cells? How did they come about? What caused them? What is the guarantee that they won’t recur again? In a few words, no. No guarantees. The doctor (or the robot computer) does not know why the patient got Cancer but what they can do about it is to make sure the Cancerous cells are destroyed. Maybe as fast as the body can produce them. So in essence, the procedure only treats your symptom- in this case the undisciplined cells, and not what caused the Cancer.

I am not being harsh. I do not expect people to live with their Cancers…..We all seek to get cured of the different ailments and diseases that strike us as quickly as possible, and if they can be done away with by a simple visit to the pharmacy, we are happy. Take for example, my daughter contracting the ordinary cold. By principle (and psychological fear of medicines), I avoid taking tablets and hope to get cured naturally (by which I mean letting my body take care of itself, believing in its immune system, and plain and simple willing myself to get cured). So I am trying to pass on this belief and follow the principle with my baby as well. I do not give her any medicines for the first two days. I watch her suffering with her dripping nose, put up with her irritable mood, struggle with feeding her, and generally get dejected myself before succumbing to the temptation of an OTC drug. I am relieved when I watch her breathe easy next day. My husband and in-laws are happy too with an “I told you so” expression in their face silently chiding me for not giving her the syrup at the first sign of a leaky nose.

With a passing thought to my principle, I forget all about the situation and we all get on with our life. I console my mind saying that I can’t impose my principle on others and make them suffer for it. If my daughter can get well within a day by taking medicines, by all means she should. Why would I put her through those miserable two days in the name of natural curing?

Now, if the situation were to be about me…….. My principle does hold good better than that. That is, if it is just a cold. Give me something worse than that, I’m as susceptible to human temptation as anybody else. For instance, some of the worst diseases/ailments that happened to me physically were Malaria, Jaundice, and an arm ‘almost-fracture’, not to mention those endless hours of toothache. I have memories of twisting and turning long into night in pain and “something else” which only the diseased know about. I would have gladly worshipped the docs who had treated me. No natural cure for me sir, no. Bring on those painkillers and antibiotics as soon as you can get them, please.

Ha! How fickle the mind is. How vain in touting principles.

Now coming back to Cancer and treating the underlying cause. I had this friend once whose father had died of Cancer. During one of our many conversations, we happened to discuss that and what he said about his father’s death made profound sense to me. His father had been fighting with Cancer for a long time before he succumbed to the disease. My friend remembered his father as a strong man, some one who never believed in defeat and who always fought till the end. He was the kind who wouldn’t let anything affect him much, not even the most terrible of diseases. So naturally, even after he discovered his disease, he kept up his good spirits and those around him. But soon, the pain and suffering caught up with him. But he fought for years. And his family really believed that he would come out of it. Until the day before his death. That day, his father just admitted defeat. He became mentally exhausted and told his family that he couldn’t take it any more. He was giving up. He died the next day. To this day, my friend believes that his father did not die of Cancer. He died because he chose to die. He died because chose not to fight any longer.

This leads me to another thought (or theory if you will) that I have heard about Cancer. They say that Cancer is just a manifestation of the fear of death in your mind. You fear dying and slowly the cells in your body get that message. They start refusing to die themselves. And there you have it, uncontrolled growth of cells that don’t die. Cancer in other words. Yes, all of us fear death in one way or another but maybe those who get Cancer are more afraid of it than the rest. Maybe it is more psychologically deeper than that. The theory goes on to add that ultimately the cure to Cancer is tackling that fear in your mind. Just accepting death as a natural consequence of being born. If only that was as simple as it sounds.

Tying all this back to the article on holistic healing of mind and body….. One does need to be really strong to believe in one’s own sense of healing. Healing both mentally, physically, and spiritually. Not giving into the easy ways of curing just the physical body. Difficult. Very difficult indeed.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Eat Poop, You cat!

I played this game called "Eat Poop You Cat" at a recent class of mine and it turned out to be really funny! The game is similar to "Chinese Whisper" aka "Telephone" with a bit of pictonary thrown in. Though originally I had intended to have the students play "Chinese Whisper", "Eat Poop You Cat" sounded even better when I read about it in Wikipedia.

The way it is played is simple - You start off with a phrase, the person next in line draws a picture to represent the phrase, the person after gives it a heading (phrase), the next one draws again and the next gives it a phrase again and so on and forth. Of course, participants should not show their phrase or drawing to anybody else other the immediate one next to them. So by the time the game moves to the last player, the first phrase is completely distorted and least resembles it! And it is totally hilarious. If you don't believe me, check this out. Somebody has made the effort to capture some of the "Eat Poop You Cat" games people have played.

Traditionally, the game is played on a single sheet of paper with participants folding the filled part to conceal it from the subsequent players. But since my class had lot of students, we decided to have each one write/draw in their own paper and just show it to the next person for a brief while before taking it back. I collected the papers from all of them at the end and we had a good laugh going through the evolution my phrase (I started it) went through! I'm sure it would have even more funny if I had not warned the students to refrain from obscene or sensitive phrases/drawings. Being a facilitator made me a prude :(

Anyway, check out the results for yourself below.... how my starting phrase "The crocodile smiled at the silly green bird" became "Four of them laughing"!!!!!

The Crocodile smiled at the silly green bird

The Snake is trying to eat the Chicken

A person harrasing another with false words (!)

A person is scolding someone

Jolly days with team mates (!)

Lucky boy with 2 gals (!!!)

A group of people talking

Four people standing together and discussing

4 cartoon standing... they are talking to each other

Four of them laughing

BTW, if you want to know how the name of the game came about, I have no clue. I'm as curious as you. A prelim search on Google didn't reveal anything great!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Can’t wait for happily ever after (The final part)

(Read Part 1)
(Read Part 2)

Priyam returned to the present with a bang and felt herself being shaken. She opened her eyes and found herself staring into Ram’s fierce eyes.

Ram looked at her tenderly and asked, “Priya, where did you go? Were you thinking of our days together 7 years back?”

Pushing herself away from him, Priyam stepped back and with a deliberate intention to hurt said, “No, Ram. Am just thinking of how to get rid of you this time round like you did me the last time”

“Stop it” cried Ram, “How can you expect a 21 year old to leave all the life he had known and dreamed for, and elope with the girl he had met just a year back?”

“I had fallen in love with you with too, Priya, but I had not been prepared for marriage so soon. I had wanted to make something of myself before committing myself. But you had been in too much of a hurry…….” he continued, going on to explain how he had come over to her house the next day only to find she had left home. He had been sad too but he had dreams he wanted to accomplish and he had moved on.

“But not a day went by without me regretting the way our relationship ended, Priya. Please believe me”, he ended sincerely.

With each word he spoke, Priyam felt her heart breaking into a thousand pieces. Oh, my god, what had she done in her foolishness. In her hurry to get her happily ever after, she had spoilt their tender relationship. Priyam could hold her tears no longer and she broke into heavy sobs. Ram gently gathered her to him, tucked her into his strong arms, and started rocking her back and forth.

“Hush, My kitten, Come on now, it’s okay” he whispered “There’s time enough for that later.”

“What do you mean?” she couldn’t stop herself from asking, hoping.

“Well” he grinned, “Just that I don’t plan to let you run this time and you have all the time in the world to fling your accusations. For now, can’t you be content with enjoying our first night together?”

Can she dare hope? Is he saying what she is thinking? But this time around, she will not rush to grab her happily ever after. No, sir, she is going wait…. for it to come to her.

Almost shyly she whispered, barely audible, “Yes.”

Can’t wait for happily ever after (part II)

(Read Part 1)

Priyam didn’t want to recall the details of that fateful day. But her mind did not listen and she was instantly thrown back into time. She felt herself being surrounded by the sounds, sights and smell of her life seven years back. She saw herself, an innocent and beautiful Priyam, walking hand in hand with a handsome looking Ram, strolling in the deep gardens of Bangalore in the hour just before Sunrise. They had had the habit of jogging together in the mornings but that day had been different.

They had met at college during their final year, she a communications student wanting to be a journalist and him a technologist studying computers. They had been so different from each other – as different as extreme opposites can get. She had been outgoing while he was ever the brooding one. She had been content with life’s small pleasures while he had wanted the moon. She spoke one language and he another. The list went on.

But their chemistry had been undeniable even back then and she had had no resistance. She had fallen deeply in love with him and had wanted to spend most of her waking hours with him, ever mindful of the end of term when they may be forced to part ways. Like the young and foolish do, she had never thought about their dramatically different backgrounds.

She had thought their love can overcome all the differences, she had dreamed of a happily ever after. On that particular day, they had met up for their jog as usual. She had been feeling particularly nervous. The term was scheduled to end in another week and she had wanted Ram to utter the reassurances she sought.

Save for a few joggers, they had had the park to themselves. They had decided to take it easy that day and agreed on a leisurely stroll around the park. Of course, they had stopped frequently and after looking around to ensure nobody was watching, had kissed each other repeatedly. Their desire had only heighted with each kiss they shared. Priyam had been thrilled when Ram had taken her face in his hands and murmured his first “I love you” to her.

Throwing caution to the winds, she had poured out her feelings to him and had asked him to marry her. Ram had seemed taken back, even shocked initially but he had quickly recovered and had uttered “Sure” in his normal quiet fashion. That had been enough for her. She had made all the arrangements and she had wanted it to be a big surprise for him. Stupidly, she had thought she will offer herself to him and he would find it impossible to say no. Oh, how could she have been so foolish?

When her parents had temporarily gone out of town, she had thought it a heaven sent opportunity to prove her love to him. His initial hesitation at her proclamation of love had been increasingly sneaking up in her thoughts making her uneasy. So she decided to take their relationship to the next level to show him she truly loved him and had invited him over to her house for the night in the pretext of studying for the final exams together.

She had even dressed up in sexy lingerie. When Ram knocked the door, she had almost screamed in joy. Yes, he had come over which must only mean he really loved her back. She had opened the door, ushered him inside, and had dramatically taken off her clothes in an attempt to seduce him. She had expected Ram to take her into his arms or at least stare at her but she had never imagined what he said next.

“Priya, what do you think you are doing?” Ram had cried bending down to take her discarded robe and handing it to her, “Come on, get dressed. Let’s get started with our books.”

Oh, she had been mortified. She had wanted to bury herself ten thousand feet below the Earth and never surface. Their relationship had gone downhill from then. The next few weeks had been tense with exams and the shadow of her actions on that night. She had felt like a swimmer out of depth desperately trying to stay afloat. She had tried to convince herself that it must have been his sense of honor that must have made him do what he did. He must have wanted to wait till they were both independent before taking the big step. She had tried hard, really hard to deny it had been anything other than his love and honor that had come in the way. Oh, she had been foolish.

On the last day of exams, she had sent him a note declaring her undying love adding that she will be waiting for him. She had suggested for them to run away somewhere, perhaps go on a vacation to sort their life. She had packed her bag and had gone to the designated place to wait for him. She had waited…….. till the clock had continued turning to announce the dawning of another day. She had not wanted to believe that he wouldn’t come…. But he had never turned up. And she had never seen him again. In her anger over her own foolishness, she had not returned home and had taken a train to another city and another life. Oh, she had been so foolish…..

Can’t wait for happily ever after (part I)

The room was silent except for the whisper of bodies rubbing against each other and the rustle of sheets. After what seemed like just a few minutes of loving but in reality over a couple of hours, Priyam and Ram lay back breathing heavily, content and exhausted. What had they done, thought Priyam. She had been so careful all these years and for this to happen now is the cruelest thing that can happen to her. Oh, how can she do this to herself? She had denied herself love and pleasure the past few years knowing that she will get hurt otherwise. Isn’t one hard lesson enough in one’s life?

They had met again at their class reunion. She had never expected him to turn up which was why she had thought it safe to go. After all, how many technology hotshots turn up for reunions? So she had really been shocked when she had spotted him in the party and had tried sneaking away without being noticed. But fate had had other plans and before long they had bumped into each other in spite of her calculated moves to avoid him.

One glance from him and she had felt like her 20 year old self all over again. Naïve and susceptible to silly emotions. She had pretended she had not been affected meeting him but what she had not counted on was the inescapable chemistry they had shared. She had tried hard to remain unaffected but somehow he seemed determined to charm her. And before long one thing led to another and they found themselves alone in her apartment. She did not even want to think about what transpired after that though admittedly it had been the most wonderful thing that had happened to her.

It had been their first time together and it had been all that she had imagined and more. Priyam stared at the ceiling and wondered what will happen next. They had already broken up once and she was not sure she could take it again. Oh no, not again.

Moaning like an animal in pain, Priyam quickly gathered her clothes and rushed to the bathroom without glancing at the tall lean figure in the bed. Ram can take care of himself for after all doesn’t he have the most perfect and successful life of all in their class? Others are not so fortunate, especially her. She had no time to revel in this aftermath of intense loving, however she longed to. Dawn will break soon and with it reality will descend on them like a heavy shroud of mist. She had no strength left to face it with him. She needed to be alone. She needed to protect herself.

After hurriedly getting dressed, Priyam returned to the room and tried to get some semblance of order back.

“Aren’t you getting dressed? Your family must be missing you” she tossed at him angrily.

“Priya, don’t. Please don’t” he replied, “There is time enough for that later.”

"Ya right. When?” she retorted, “When you are thousands of miles away, safe from me?" she shouted with a shrill laugh trying hard not to give away any of her emotions.

"This should never have happened” she cried almost in a whisper.

“Yes, I know” Ram said, infuriating her even more.

“You bastard, how dare you? How dare you stand there and say that to me after all these years? After all that happened? If at all anything shouldn’t have happened, it was me meeting you. Oh, how I wish I had never met you” she hurled hurtingly at him.

Ram got up from the bed and started getting dressed but not before she noticed him flinch. Priyam immediately wished she could take her words back. Was it possible she might have hurt him?

“Priya, I never meant to hurt you” Ram said hesitatingly. “Can’t you forgive me for what happened in the past?” he murmured. “For heaven’s sake, I was just 21!”

“Forgive?” whispered Priyam, “Yes, I can forgive you Ram but I will never forget. You left me alone…. I trusted you……”

Passion Writing Contest

The passion writing contest came out with the winners today. Can't wait to read the winning entries. Meanwhile, since my pathetic attempt at a romantic story failed to impress, I may as well publish it here at least for posterity sake. Here comes "Can't wait for happily ever after".

Monday, February 2, 2009

Creative Writing

I chanced on an ad for a Creative Writing Workshop at Bangalore in DC sometime back and immediately got intrigued by the idea of attending one. The ad gave very little details except for the start date and the name of the company (Still Waters) that is conducting it. Though I was clear about pursuing something related to writing in the long run, I was not sure if creative writing is the field I wanted to get into. And I had never heard of the company either. I toyed with the idea of actually calling up the contact number that was given in the ad for a day or two. For the past month or so, I had been looking at taking the diploma course in writing offered by Indira Gandhi University or Symbiosis but unfortunately, I had missed the term this time. So with a few more months to go before the universities took their next set of students, I was feeling kinda impatient to get started with something related to writing. So when I saw that ad, quiet accidentally at that (I never read DC - my household peruses ToI!), it seemed like serendipity!

I eventually rang them up and after seeing the workshop agenda, quickly decided to enroll for the session. The 8-week long workshop is conducted by Vijay Nair, author of "Master of Life Skills" and will cover "craft of writing short stories, novels, playwriting, poem and screenplay writing." The fees for the workshop was Rs 7000/- for working professionals. Deciding that it's a small amount for learning a life skill (ya, that's what I am hoping it will become, at least partly!), I signed up.

The first session of the workshop happened this weekend and the experience was humbling to say the least. The participants were all from diverse backgrounds - engineer, architect, doctor, housewives, college kid, name it, we had it! There were a couple of writing exercises (obviously!) after which we were supposed to read aloud our pieces and the others were invited to comment on them. I had thought I was decent at writing but well the feedback from the others hit right where it mattered. Ouch! Oh ye Ego of mine, quiet now, quiet. Ha! That's like a good girl. Good.... I digress!

The workshop has put the idea of serious writing into my idea and I'm happy for it. Over the next few weeks, I expect we will be doing more of these exercises in different forms of creative writing and also doing some reviews of books. So at the end of eight weeks, if nothing else, I will come out far more wiser on whether I really want to pursue creative writing. Here's to humbling experiences!