Monday, December 15, 2008

India Shines! Does it?

I have heard it all before, how India has progressed, how things have changed, how there is a reverse brain drain, how people are moving back to the country, how everything is much better than ever before...haven't we all? We have all heard it, sometimes also said it, yes we have moved on, but...there are a whole list of 'buts'

The loudest I hear this 'India Shining' rant is from my own family and my mother, who so loves the coutry, she is reluctant to see other parts of the world. She is convinced that the country will 'get over' what happened in Bombay, it is a case of onwards and upwards..which is good, yes indeed, but is it really? And I am not saying so because it was Bombay as so we need to stall and think and act. I say so..because we do need to square up and look around ourselves see what (ALL)is wrong and why. Its not just my city, state, language, class, culture and is a lot more than that..

Just read Mad Momma's take on India's Elite Ironies and agreed with her view..

'Fifty million Indians doing well does not for a great India make, given that
500 million are grovelling to survive. Sixty years after independence, it
can safely be said that India’s political leadership — and the nation’s
elite — have badly let down the country’s dispossessed and wretched. If you
care to look, India today is heartbreak hotel, where infants die like flies,
and equal opportunity is a cruel mirage.'

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Google Zeitgeist

Quite interesting this year stuck inside various bits of the Google Zeitgeist.

'As the year comes to a close, it's time to look at the big events, memorable moments and emerging trends that captivated us in 2008. As it happens, studying the aggregation of the billions of search queries that people type into the Google search box gives us a glimpse into the zeitgeist — the spirit of the times. We've compiled some of the highlights from Google searches around the globe and hope you enjoy looking back as much as we do.'

Check it out here

...interesting to note Sarah Palin beats Obama on this list
..India's most popular how to according to Google is 'how to reduce weight', oddly comforting thought for me.
..very heartening to see Kashmir at the third place for top holiday destination in India..
..most impressed by Katrina Kaif for turning up on so many lists..

I am still reading through it..

Bringing up the sibling..

I do know quite a few people, including my own mother, who have been looked after as children by their older siblings. About two generations ago, people had more than the regulation 2 children. They also married younger and thus had a lot more time to have more than 2-3 children, which meant that there was a possibility of large age gap between the youngest one and the oldest one. This often meant that the older child would do a lot of babysitting, feeding, cleaning, playing and general being in charge of the well being of their little sibling. It was not uncommon to see an age difference ranging from 10-20 or more years. This allowed the oldest child to sometimes act as a quasi-parent, willingly or reluctantly.

I have heard stories about my uncle taking his 21 year old younger sister, my mother, to school till one day he overheard people at mom's school assume that he was her father, that was the last day he took her to school. Being the youngest of 6 children, my mother had the advantage of having much older siblings so her homework, heat her milk bottle and do anything she needed done without having to make much of an effort. She was babied and looked after by her siblings. Which meant that as an adult she had an almost child-parent relationship with her older siblings. They even today treat her like one of their own children. Which means they are close..but its not the same thing as having a sibling.

Siblings are friends, foes, adversaries, confidantes, the team you join when you need a big moan about your parent. The cheerleaders in your life, the people you discuss your troubles with when you don't want to worry your parents, the people you introduce your girlfriend/ boyfriend to as a possible potential tester for parental reaction later on. They are the people you are embarrassed of at some point of life. The people you whinge and crib about. The people on who you can test run your opinions about life. They are the butt of your learning attempts at criticism, they knock off your corners, remove the chips from your shoulders, they teach you how to whine, tell tales and eventually temporarily hate a person. They make you angry enough to want to kill them and ask God, why they were sent as your burden to bear! They love you unconditionally (if you have been brought up right) but they are not responsible for you. There is a Lot of difference between them and parents.

While I don't think its wrong for older kids to chip in to help out the parents with the younger ones, especially when there are quite a few young ones around. I do feel that putting the responsibility of one of your children on another child is not quite fair for the older child. Yes they learn how to care about their own siblings, but they also need the time and attention of the parents themselves, after all they are children too. I also think a sibling bond is essential but when an older sibling is like a parent the equation changes. And remains so even after the children have grown up and become adults.

I do see the need for respect and love between siblings, but the parent child equation should not be played out between children, unless of course there is a lack of options. I am told that this perspective is the reason why there is little affection between siblings in the modern world.

I think it is unfair to take a child's ability to be a child by leaving them in charge of your own children. Chipping in from time to time is very different from making them responsible for the younger ones. Am I being too 'western' in my thinking as I have been told..or is this more practical approach better in the long run?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Do something..

I am appalled at the way the media has covered the events in Bombay. I am shocked at the insensitivity of the reporters. I am horrified at the risk they put the security under..just speechless.

This petition by Vishal asks the Indian courts to formulate a model Code-of-Conduct within a fixed time frame; that should be made mandatory to the TV News Channels, to regulate the 'Live' broadcast of such and similar eventualities and operations that India might face in the future.

If you see his point, you can sign up here


The Petition


My name is Vishal Dadlani. I was born in Bombay in 1973, and have lived here my whole life. I'm a musician.

Just like the rest of the world, from the moment I learnt of the attacks, I stayed up watching television. I saw our local Police try to figure things out, I watched our valiant Officers Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte arrive, and almost immediately, lose their lives. I saw the NSG and Marcos arrive and started to watch each step of their operation, when suddenly, realization dawned! Over the next thirty or forty hours, I watched, helpless and frustrated, as our very own electronic media did things that seemed blatantly wrong to me.

What they were broadcasting in the name of the news, were in fact the exact operational procedures, locations, and actions of our anti-insurgency forces! Minute-by-minute!

I don't know anything about how the Armed Forces work, and I understand nothing of terrorist-strikes and the correct media procedures involved. There are a few questions I would like to bring up, and have answered, though.

1. Is it acceptable to us that what should have been a classified operation, was in fact an open book? Are we fine with the fact that terrorists inside the besieged buildings could have had real-time access to the same news channels that we did, thus giving them complete and thorough information about the actions of our forces? Is it condonable, that some of our men may have been placed at a disadvantage (and even killed) due to the fact that the very terrorists they were trying to locate and subdue, probably knew every detail of their positions and plans?

The electronic media may defend their position with the "Freedom of the Press" slogan that has been so often invoked, but I beg to differ. I think that in the absence of responsible self-censorship, the media must be instructed to act in a particular manner, as required by on-ground reality.

The TV channels may try and say that their "live" feeds are slightly delayed, thus reducing their relevance to the terrorists. However, consider a terrorist inside a building, who has no information as to how and from which direction the forces are approaching. Then, consider the same terrorist, a few minutes later, with complete details as to where the forces have entered from, and obviously, the direction of their approach.

It was approximately forty hours after the attacks began, (and I'm told, on repeated requests from the I & B ministry) that some channels started to point their cameras away from the operations, and started to say things like "without giving away too much detail"! Too little, too late perhaps?

This was obviously a huge mistake. I think it's crucial that this blunder not be repeated, and to that effect, a code of conduct be created for the electronic media in times of national crisis.

The electronic media must not be allowed to show a live anti-terrorist operation until it is safely concluded! They must obey when they are told to disperse, and they must respect cordons created by the operating force.

2. Another question I'd like to ask is whether it's correct, both morally and legally, for a TV channel to broadcast to the Nation, an alleged live phone call, purportedly from one of the terrorists. The perpetrators of a colossal crime against our Nation, being allowed to air their vitriolic propaganda on one of our own news channels! Does this seem wrong to anyone else?

3. Some TV channels also had "live-and-direct" phone conversations with guests within the hotels, in which the said guests divulge their locations and room numbers. I can't see the point, or the newsworthiness of this. Someone who has managed to get away to a relatively safe place, unknown to the terrorists, is made to give up his location. The guest, of course, assumes it will assist the rescue operation if he tells them where he is, but the TV channels broadcast this information, possibly even to the terrorists themselves. Is this OK by us? I sincerely hope not!

This a time of great anger for India. We feel violated and hurt, we feel helpless and lost. Without credible leadership anywhere, we are left to our own devices. I think it's important, however, that we set aside our anger and our emotional responses, and with a calm and collected rationale, think of the things we can change to make our country safer for all of us to live in.

If we can all make or facilitate one change each, I think it will add up to making a huge difference! I ask all of you to join in and sign the following petition. Hopefully the Courts will take cognizance of our opinion, and help us to make this small change that will keep our Nation and the defenders of this Nation a little safer in any future eventuality of this nature.


We, the undersigned, citizens of India, humbly pray for the following reliefs;

1. That this Hon'ble Court call for the complete and unedited footage from all TV News Channels broadcasting the attacks 'live', starting from 9:30pm on Wednesday 26th November 2008 and until the morning of Saturday the 29th November 2008 and examine the same by itself or through any appropriate agency as appointed by it, to investigate and determine the manner in which sensitive information pertaining to the movement of Counter-Insurgency Operations was broadcast 'live'.

2. That this Hon'ble Court take cognizance of the broadcast of inflammatory propaganda (if any), on any such TV News Channels, and an appropriate Writ Order or Direction be passed by the Court against such TV News Channels as this Hon'ble Court may deem fit and proper.

3. That this Hon'ble Court make and issue such other Writ, Order and Direction as it may deem appropriate directing the Authorities to formulate a model Code-of-Conduct within a fixed time frame; that be made mandatory to the TV News Channels, to regulate the 'Live' broadcast of such and similar eventualities and operations.

4. That this Hon'ble Court make and issue such other Writ Order or Direction as it may deem appropriate in the matter.


Vishal Dadlani


The Undersigned (scroll down below for complete list)

From the website mediaverve

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Where The Mind is Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake


..let my country awake..
..let my country awake..

Friday, November 28, 2008


Teary eyed,

However I still agree with a fellow famous Indian...

'An eye for an eye shall make us all blind'.

Respond we must, react maybe, but lets not jump at things and make it worse, or allow others to run away with our futures by having knee jerk reactions on our behalf.

I wonder where the Shiv Sena and company are at this time..
I wonder why NDTV calls bombay a 'conflict zone'
I want to know who the people outside Nariman house were.
I want to know how old the equipment is that is used by the NSG and the Police and the other heroes of the hour..
I do wonder if Bombay is a 'war' zone..after all wars are fought by military, not civilians..

We need to understand terrorism and make no mistake about it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Not one of mine..

Here I was wallowing in self pity and now there is horrible news from Bombay. More people killed, after the first shock of the news wears off, the mind records the numbers dead, thinks, and then notices the numbers injured. Statistics, cold and hard facts about how many were effected. And I am full of questions, to which I have no answers. I seek.

A shame, that people need to die this way.
A pity that they get reduced to statistics.
Appalling, that we 'carry on' nonetheless.
Almost nonchalant about the fact that no one 'I know' has been hurt or worse killed.

Is this not an infection of some sort that all of us have? The ability to hear bad news, horrible and terrible news, watch it live, read about it online and see photographs of it, then close the newspaper/computer/phone call and turn over and sleep. Carry on. We always carry on.

How? Why?
Are we cold people, who care only about their own limited circles? Are we so busy making our money and earning our daily bread that we feel no pain of the people who have actually been impacted by this nasty event, and the many others that have preceded it? Or maybe we do feel the pain, but shrug, since we can do nothing about it.

I borrow from Ms Roy,

'...To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget. ...'

How long will we blame Pakistan and Islamic terrorists? How long before the last drop of blood has been shed and the last atom of fight has been fought?

We have become too friendly with the word 'terrorist', we know the predictability of the unpredictable tactics they use. We have made them a part of our world and learned how to give concession to terrible acts when carried out by 'terrorists'. We are not 'terrorized' anymore, merely surprised, perhaps appalled, maybe slightly worried. But in our already crowded lives, we have squeezed this unspeakably violence in.

Why? Who are they? Why are we victims or our own species? Why are we silent? Is there nothing? anything? we can say? Is it not frustrating to be a silent spectator of this horror show?

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Stone, the Stent, the Stint and the Surreality

All done, the stone has been ground to a million pieces, the stent has been removed and my stint at the hospital seems to be over. I shall tell you about the surreal though. The shards of the stone have been picked by a cystoscope, and I, ladies and gentlemen have a long lists of firsts added to my life experiences.
~ my first stone
~ my first surgery
~ my first stay in an Indian hospital
~ my first total loss of dignity
~ my first brush with spinal and general anaesthesia

and..what this post is about

~ my first experience of regression..

So, the General Anaesthesia I was given for surgery made me pass out a lot quicker and painlessly than its predecessor which was jabbed into the base of my spine with a long painful metal injection a few days earlier. I was told GA will make my throat sore as they would send in an oxygen pipe to make my lungs work (to keep my heart going). They also told me I would be miserably nauseous and sick when I come around. The first happened the latter did not.

So, up on the operating table, I lie down, I hear the beep of my pulse, the blip of my heart and various machines winking at me, the large light on the ceiling stared back at me, looking a lot more dramatic than it does in movies and TV. They connect me to a whole load of pipes and tubes and then I am asked to look away as they put GA through an IV injection. This time there was no oxygen mask, which I had when I got the spinal Anaesthetic for the previous op. So I soon drift off, the last thing I remember seeing or feeling was the cold injection and the sharp pain of it filling my arm. and then nothing.


I cant say I was awake, and I know I was not physically awake. But very gently I felt my own presence in a silent space, silence so sharp it was obvious. Hard to describe, it was like being in a silent white room, except that white was not a colour but a light, a light so blindingly white, clean, clear and silent and a room or space which had no identifiable boundaries or edges. I did not see myself, its like my brain was in this space of nothingness. Absolute silence..and then a thought.

A mere brush of a thought, followed by a pattern of silent thoughts, slithering into this space, following each other, asking questions, answering themselves..there was no me, just thoughts and white light and silence. Thoughts, not in my voice, just there. We think in our own voices and thoughts have accents too..but this was not is what came into my the order I can remember it in. It was not this unclear, and there was no sound. Almost as if I could feel my thoughts and not think them. Hard to describe.

...I can think. can I think..
..where is my body..
..under sedation..
The Mind is beyond sedation..
..what about the body..
disdain at the body which succumbs to chemicals
...thoughts are beyond chemical sedation..
why am i thinking..
is this hallucination..
..i am clearly thinking..
..clear thoughts..
..will i remember this..
..yes..but only for a bit..
this place is very quiet and peaceful..
..very quiet..
..very eerie.. i afraid.. i am just wondering where the thoughts are coming from wondering where I am..
...have been in this space before..i know it...
..will i remember this..
..yes but only parts..
...there are people outside this white space..
..they can see me, hear me..
why cant i hear them or see them..
..oh my eyes are still closed.. am in imagining this white space.. i am here its not imaginary.. someone will call my name..

And there it was, the doctor said instantly 'Can you hear me? are you ok? nod..' and I did. Like my mind could read minds and actions of others before they occur.

The thinking inside my head stopped..slowly..I could not open my eyes for a long time and I could not talk, even though I wanted to, I could hear my mother, my sister whisper, I could hear the nursing staff tell me, we are moving you to your bed now. My mum asking the surgeon if I am awake? when I will come around? If the operation was successful. I could feel them around me, touching my hand, whispering. I could not respond. It was as if I was in a coma. It was weird.

The thoughts in my head faded, but that feeling I had..of being in such a clear, quiet, white place, where the silence and peace were tangibly sharp was strange. It spooked me when I recounted it to my family and friends later and even now as I write I have goose bumps.

It is hard to describe.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More surgery...

yes I was stoned and last week I did think it was all over and tonight the stent shall be removed and I shall be fine. Well not so easy say the Gods from above.

A bit of the stone chose the hide behind the stent and caused major pain, its still in there, so tomorrow I head for the oxygen pipe, the anaesthesia and the surgeon who shall get the stone out, watch me in hospital and then hopefully send me home completely cured.

A month has gone by in a haze of pain, a long haul flight in pain and I am still in India aiming at being completely cured.

Luck, stars, God, previous birth, bad Karma..dont know what it is, but sure is sticking around for way too long.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Just to bring the weirdness in my life to a brand new level. The last post told you about the fact that I have 3 kidneys..double on the left etc..turns out I have four. Yup Duplex Systems on left and right side!They did not bother to check the other side in London.

Have had a painful time so far in India as a medical tourist. With Spinal Anaesthesia and stents and IV medication and hospital stays.

Shall bounce back shortly.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Torn into two..

I remember hearing older women saying that they could not go anywhere alone because their husband are helpless without them. I remember hearing this and being annoyed with them for putting themselves in a situation where the man of the house wont be able to find his toothbrush without the woman putting the paste on it for him and handing it over to him. For having to starve if she is gone, going out in crushed, dirty clothes coz he knows not how to wash and iron. Gender based roles being played at their extreme. I hated it.

I also remember hoping that marriage would not change anything much. But then I would see my aunts coming to meet us without the husbands and then letting their hair down with their mother. I also remember cousins not being able to come and spend the night chatting as the husbands would take them away after dinner, not being able to talk on the phone for long etc. I used to wonder why, and get annoyed that the woman needed to be taken away, back to her married home, by what seemed like force. Against her internal will and wishes. She went quietly..and I thought..that wont happen to me. I shall go and come as I please and nothing will change.

Well, realization has struck. I would love to go and stay with my mother for a few weeks, knowing that the husband shall survive without me. He is capable of making Dum Aloos and Palak Paneer, so the kitchen is safe, he is sort of capable of finding his own things, even in a mess of his creation, he kind of knows where his things are unless I have moved them. He is ok with a fast internet connection and a Nikon within arms reach. I am sure he shall miss me etc etc..but he is an independent person.

However I am in torn into two. The need to go home, get to India, and the need to stay back and be with him. My love for my mother and family, it seems, occupies a different sector of my heart and is there permanently and does not overlap of overshadow the sector of my heart that loves the husband. Its weird, wanting to go, but not really, wanting to stay, but not really. And I know what is going to happen..the usual..when I am here I want to be there with mum, when I am with mum I want to be here with him. The solution perhaps lies in living in a house that contains both these people! But that is not always possible.

Thus the realization has struck that perhaps some of these aforementioned women went home because they HAD to, while the others seemed to make noises about not wanting to go, but doing so happily, as they missed their spouse. Perhaps they were, like me, torn into two.


Friday, October 24, 2008

I Love You

He sat there, surveying the world from his seat. Blond eyelashes flicking up and down to see things and people as they passed by. A frown of concentration furrowing his brow. His shoe kicked the air and he resettled his padded bottom into his pushchair.

Sticky bright pink sweet in mouth, he looked up with blue eyes with flecks of green.

"I love you mummy", he said.
"Love you too", said she.
She bends over to reach him and asks, "Wont you share your sweets with your dad?"

Out came the sweet from his mouth, dripping with sugar, colour and saliva and also LOVE. He took it out of his mouth with his grubby, chubby fingers and offered his sweet to his father.

"I love you daddy" he said.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I am Stoned

Well looks like the bad days are here to stay. I have been in and out of hospital, for a few weeks, with the most excruciating pain I have ever had the misfortune to feel...was diagnosed with Kidney Stones and sent home with truck loads of painkillers and antibiotics. Have been asked to join the queue that social medicine demands. Was told to wait for further instructions about when I shall be seen/ operated/ cured and sent home. So the days go by in bed, being in and out of chemical induced sleep. However this blog is not (always) about the mundane inanities of my I shall tell you the deepest secret I have held inside me since I was born.

This secret was discovered through one of the tests that I underwent at hospital, to understand why I was in so much pain, whereby a dye was injected into my body to see what is inside me. Dye injected and 20 mins later I am X-Rayed. And then on a computer screen came the image. The doctor sat there scratching his head. Trying to locate the stone in my kidney it seems. While the husband and I sat there, just staring at the screen. Something did not seem right. Well..I seem to have 't(w)o many' things inside me..I seemed to have more than 2 kidneys...yes I have three.

Ladies and gentlemen I have been blessed with 3 kidneys and now know the reason for never suffering from hangovers. Ever, despite drinking copious amounts of alcohol in small spaces of time.
Apparently its called a 'Duplex' system and means I have an extra kidney. Strange things. The weirdness of life just got multiplied 10 fold. Much thinking of strange thoughts and speaking them out happened. Why? How? Does it mean anything strange/ sinister? Do I need to have it removed? What the long term impact? I was told that its not so strange apparently.

Once the initial shock wore off..the jokes began..about going on vacation by selling the third kidney, about being a tri-renal beast, about being just about human, about being able to give love from the bottom of all my three kidneys, about out drinking all people, about eating extra for all my organs etc etc..When the stone was discovered I was told that Beer helps. Now I am being told to drink up..afterall three kidneys can do a much better job of filtering and cleaning than 2!!

The joke has now moved towards my being called a Medical Tourist, I can get things sorted in 2 weeks in India..while the National Health Service is going to see me only at the end of Nov to start solving my problems..hmm. Hospitals in India now welcome Medical tourists with open arms, as can be seen at the Apollo hospitals website, dedicated to welcoming International patients at the airport itself. They have a special marketing division, with costs in US $ for anyone who wants to come in. The idea being medicine should be accessible to all..preferably those who are able pay in the case of Apollo I would think. But I am not just discovering the world with my new found kidn-eye-s!!

On top of all this I spent Saturday night watching Michael Moore's film Sicko...again...liked where his jaw drops open when he sees the NHS hospital in Hammersmith paying patients money for the cost of transport to and from the hospital. Not complaining anymore about NHS.

....still in shock over too many things and the randomness of my life..burnt my finger this morning too..looks like the bad days are here to stay and I should start writing pleasantly surprised entries for when I do have a good day or two.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Queen Googles.

There is a Royal Channel on YouTube..and it now has the video of the Queen's visit to Google offices in London. I like the Queen's reaction to the giggling baby video on youtube, the excited American employees and the accent in Nikesh Arora's English,"google is about cool, quirky, funky things"

Sure thing...must be they have seen a 26% rise in profits.., its the best company to work for according to The Fortune online..
Google is also 4th out of the 20 most admired companies in the world..and Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and Sergei Brin are the 4th most powerful men in business today..*

The Queens visit to Google..seems slightly ironical to me..or is it just me?

*If you are wondering about the first 3..well Apple and Steve Jobs..Goldman Sachs..(!!??!!) News Corp..etc beat them to it..

Monday, October 13, 2008

Of Dust..

Lately have been ill, and thus have been lying in bed, high on pain killers and medication. Which means the man is incharge of the house..the cooking and cleaning and washing and shopping. Needless to say he now knows where things are in the house, things like the washing powder, disinfectant wipes, broom and brushes, he knew about the vacuum cleaner etc..he does help you know...
So I spent the weekend lying down to watch TV and come in and out of sleep, while he hoovered the house, cleaned the kitchen and bathroom, washed machine loads of clothes and loaded the dishwasher. He also proceeded to cook dinner (and lunch) for me.

The conversation last night was about dusting, a concept alien to most men. The Man says, ' I dont understand dusting'...the eternal debate of dusting first and or vacuum is like a chicken and egg conversation in the house. He does not see the point, or for that matter the dust. Which lead me to point out, that it nneeds doing or, he shall be able to write things in the dust on things. Specially things like the TV screen, which he proceeded to explain with the tiring wisdom only seen in engineers talking to non engineers...that the TV screen attracts dust. Which lead me to point out..dust falls everywhere and needs cleaning.

He does not agree, so now i am planning to write things on surfaces once they have been coated with dust..

The few smart arse lines that came to mind were:
~ can you see me?
~ this is dust..
~ If you can read this, clean me
~ I love you
~ Hah! proved you wrong
~ Dust is a fact of life
~ Nobody loves me
~ I demand cleaning
~ Wife is right, dust exists
~ Eat Dust!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Goethe's Faust...(Part I, Scene III)


I am the spirit, ever, that denies!
And rightly so: since everything created,
In turn deserves to be annihilated:
Better if nothing came to be.
So all that you call Sin, you see,
Destruction, in short, what you’ve meant
By Evil is my true element.


You call yourself a part, yet seem complete to me?


I’m speaking the truth to you, and modestly.
Even if Man’s accustomed to take
His small world for the Whole, that’s his mistake:
I’m part of the part, that once was - everything,
Part of the darkness, from which Light, issuing,
Proud Light, emergent, disputed the highest place
With its mother Night, the bounds of Space,
And yet won nothing, however hard it tried,
Still stuck to Bodily Things, and so denied.
It flows from bodies, which it beautifies,
I hope the day’s not far away
When it, along with all these bodies, dies.


Now I see the plan you follow!
You can’t destroy it all, and so
You’re working on a smaller scale.


And frankly it’s a sorry tale.
What’s set against the Nothingness,
The Something, World’s clumsiness,
Despite everything I’ve tried,
Won’t become a nothing: though I’d
Storms, quakes, and fires on every hand,
It deigned to stay as sea and land!
And those Men and creatures, all the damned,
It’s no use my owning any of that crew:
How many I’ve already done with too!
Yet new fresh blood is always going round.
So it goes on, men make me furious!
With water, earth and air, of course,
A thousand buds unfurl
In wet and dry, warm and cold!
And if I hadn’t kept back fire of old,
I’d have nothing left at all.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Making Mistakes

As a parent you never want your child to come to any harm. You want to make the best decisions for them, and you hope in time your children make the best decision themselves. However the point of letting go, which opens the possibility of mistakes occurring is a scary one. When is it right? if ever?

Letting go, and saying, your life, you decide. I will not push you, pester you, into behaving and doing things which I (the parent) would be happy with, is hard. Its hard to not emphasize, insist, brainwash, convince and often also use emotional blackmail, knowing or unknowingly.

As a child I sometimes found it hard to do what I wanted, as I knew I shall meet my mothers disapproval. I found it hard to resist things, but I knew I could not disappoint my mother. Being the middle child, I got over the 'approval' need mighty quick. Soon I would do what I wanted, which often lead to arguements, fights and many a tears for me, but never lies.
My mother is a tough cookie and she is not open to manipulation. Sad. She has seen through me, and continues to do so even today. She was not the modern parent, who wants to be a 'friend' and a popular one at that. Often being a friend of your child makes it unfair to pull rank as a parent when needed. We cant always be liked, and often doing things in the best interest of your child, is met by tantrums and 'i dont like you' type of comments. I guess its part of the job. Being disliked is the price you pay for correcting and guiding your child. And its often the harder route. Agreement and popularity and ease of parenting come as a package, at a steep cost.

It is only later in life that I could make decisions independently and stick to them. Initially I found hard taking decisions which my parents did not like/ were not in agreement with me. They said so clearly, this is what We think, now its up to you. hmmm! Tough one that. Sometimes the ma-isms were tacked on for further effect.

In my mid twenties, my mother told me something, which I will always remember. She said, we parents are like hands, we hold you when you are small, as you grow, we help you walk, and then the hands stand by your side, protecting you, but not holding you. If you fall, we shall pick you up, but dont keep turning around to check, we are here, always, walk ahead, confidently, make decisions as an individual, because standing as we are behind you with our support, we cant see what you see. Walk ahead, knowing that if you stumble or fall we will be there.

What she later added was, our life experiences are different, you see things which I cant imagine, you meet people, see places, do things which I have not. Your decisions are based on your sight. I am a parent, but sadly, now that you have grown up, you need to be let into another secret, I (mother) dont know everything. No I am not the walking encyclopedia you thought I was as a child. I know a lot, but not everything. This I admit came as a surprise. Mum not knowing everything, meant she could make mistakes too. This was hard to digest and took me a while to get my head around.

That I think is parenting, letting the child know what you think, what is right, wrong, black, white and also grey, and also your own limits as a parent. And let them decide. You can not influence them or push them without getting a reaction. You cant be popular or liked all the time. You dont own them. They have their own personalities, character traits and destiny. As a parent, you just need to be there. Always, unconditionally, without sarcasm, scathing remarks or bitterness. Dont chase your children away with disapproval, welcome them to discussion! Let them grow into thinking individuals who see logic and reason and have the confidence to chase their own dreams.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The return to Lahore

Eight generations of my family lived in Lahore. We are a Kashmiri Pandit family who had lived for many years in the same 'haveli' in the same location for generations. All that changed in 1947 when my grandparents packed themselves and their children, my father and his three sisters, and moved to Allahabad, as India got divided into two. The hindus moved across to India, and the Muslims moved to Pakistan, causing untold misery, death and devastation.

As a child I heard stories from my Dada (Grandpa) about his life in Lahore, the haveli, the paintings, the gardens, the library, the temple in the house, the well in the house, the furniture, his cameras, his friends, his walks, his college (Govt College Lahore) and then the sudden decision to move. He mentioned these things as memories, fond ones, I never heard a hint of bitterness or regret in his voice. He always believed in fate and destiny, and what is not meant for you, will never be yours kind of thinking. He missed his life there and at the age of 37 when he moved to India, he found it tough. They were compensated by the Indian govt for their losses in Pakistan and in his case the compensation was substantial (from my perspective) but nothing in comparison to what he had left behind, but hey, it was something. My grandma never spoke of Lahore. She had managed to dig out a Hanuman and a Kali from their home and those statues are in the temple in my house even now. She did smuggle some of her jewellery by stitching it to the insides of her clothes, some of which I now own, but she lost a lot more material wealth and peace of mind, then what she was compensated for.

Time passed. No bitterness or regret was heard. They mentioned once that they would like to go and see their home before they died, but that did not happen.

My father, who was very young when they left and had seen many pictures and heard far more stories than me decided to go to Lahore. It was the first time, someone from my family would go back.

He walked to what used to be his house and its vast grounds. It now is a block of apartments and the grounds have been turned into a market place, so there are no open spaces or trees, just a large old building (being a listed one, it still stands) surrounded by a market. He saw the name of his ancestors, still there, engraved in marble, attached to the boundary walls of the market.

He then went scouting around to his maternal grandmothers house, they were also Kashmir and had lived for many generations in the same house, in Lahore. He walked along the road, but again it was unreconizable, so he stopped and asked an old man if he knew about the Haveli and its grounds and whereabout they were. The man asked him why he wanted to know, to which my father replied, they were his grandparents and he was looking for their house. The man asked him if he knew what the neighbours were called, my father said the names and the old man's eyes lit up. He walked my father to the Fatima Jinnah Medical College, the old house had been sectioned into three blocks, with five apartments in each block. The grounds of the house now held towering blocks of the Jinnah Medical college's hostels for women!
The old man asked my father to stay and talk, but being in a rush he could not stop. The man asked him to come for a longer time when he was free and they could talk about the past.

From the sounds of it, my father was quite taken by what he saw. He did not know what to expect. He still owns old architectural plans of the house and its grounds, he has photographs of his mother as a newly wed yougn girl, sitting around the house. I have photos of my grandfather standing along with his fellow Kashmiri friends in his house. They are all memories, of lives transformed by politics and religion. However there is no resentment or regrets. Dada did not believe in wasting time regretting thing, life was too short. Live it to its full he always said, he did.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bad Day II

So the story continues. After being stung, jabbed, jabbed and cut (in reverse oreder), I thought I would come home and rest. No such luck it seems. After trawling through Yahoo Answers about, 'Shard of glass in foot' *
I decided I shall need to sort my foot out. Off to A&E and X-Rays later I was told, yup, there is a shard in your foot. We shall get it out under local anaesthesia.

Doc: Little jab under your foot and then we can cut out the glass
Me: I am not brave, have had an overdose of injections in the past 2 days
Doc: Leave glass in, it will only get septic
Me: Will it hurt?
Doc: The injection under your foot will be VERY painful, grit your teeth, then you will be ok
Me: Mommy!!!
Doc: Here we go.
Doc: all done, now let me see where this glass is.
Me: ok (small voice)
Doc: Dont want to cut your foot, so shall try push it out
Me: (silence, I want to die)
Doc: Nope, this is not coming out (goes gets a fancily wrapped sterile scissor)
Me: no pain, I am ok
Doc: (smiles, knowingly, he is thinking, HA! she will know when the anaesthesia wears off)
Doc: I see it.

he gets out this piece of glass, puts it in some tissue and hands it over to me.
All done. Go home, rest.

I think I shall get home, lock myself in a cupboard and sit still till bad luck and bad days are over. And I am able to leave home without cutting myself, stabbing myself, getting stung or getting any other injuries.

Bad days (shaking head) bad days (shaking head)

Needless to say, my mother wants to visit the local priest and ask him to say some prayers on my behalf, obviously my daily praying is doing me no good just yet.

*sometimes being an internet hypochondriac helps!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Men with sexist views 'earn more'

From the BBC's health section..

Men who grow up thinking women should stay at home may be labelled "old-fashioned" - but could end up well ahead in the salary stakes.

A US study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, suggests that they will consistently out-earn more "modern-thinking" men.

On average, this meant an extra $8,500 (£4,722) a year.

One UK psychologist said men inclined to wield power in their relationships might also do this at work.
It could be that more traditionally-minded men are interested in power, both in terms of access to resources - money in this case - and also in terms of a woman who is submissive, Dr Magdalena Zawisza, Winchester University

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Florida, was conducted on a large scale, with 12,686 men and women interviewed in 1979, when they were aged between 14 and 22, and three times in the following two decades, the last time in 2005.

The researchers asked them whether they believed a woman's place was in the home, or whether the employment of women was likely to lead to higher rates of juvenile delinquency.

Predictably, more men tended to hold these views than women, although the gap has narrowed significantly over time.

However, when the men were asked about their salaries, another gap emerged, with those holding "traditional" views earning significantly more.

Conversely, women who held the opposite view did earn slightly more, on average $1,500 (£833) more than women with "traditional" views.

Dr Timothy Judge, one of the researchers, said: "More traditional people may be seeking to preserve the historical separation of work and domestic roles - our results prove that is, in fact, the case."

Dr Magdalena Zawisza, a psychologist from Winchester University, said that there were a number of theories which might explain the difference.

She said: "It could be that more traditionally-minded men are interested in power, both in terms of access to resources - money in this case - and also in terms of a woman who is submissive.

"Another theory suggests that employers are more likely to promote men who are the sole earner in preference to those who do not - they recognise that they need more support for their families, because they are the breadwinner."

Do hope the Man has not read this :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bad day

So, I was sulking on sunday as I managed to walk over a shard of glass and cut my foot, some part of the glass seems to be lodged in my foot and I am being a baby about it. So I was limping. I thought I would go see the doctor and ask him to dislodge anything that may still be in my foot.

I walked out of my house and got stung by a bee for the first time in my life. I know some people could be allergic to stings and bites, but I dont know if I am on that list. One way to find out I guess :) I also think the mean thing was waiting outside for me, tapping its feet, waiting to have a go. One bee, at this time in the year, its autumn after all, and it finds me, in a city full of people, who are out and about, I step out for 2 mins to check mail and BANG!! hmph!

So off I went to the doctor, sat there for a few minutes waiting to be seen, feeling a bit sick but not bad enough to laugh at the others in there. The others were babies, all between the age of 6 months and 2 years. All heading towards the nurse gurgling, coming out bawling, as it was vaccination day. There I sat thinking..HA, HA (like the Simpson kid) till I got called in.

Seems to be I am allergic myself, so off came the jeans and there came the jab! Ouch!! Now the foot remained to be seen to. So guess what, up rolled the sleeve and there came yet another jab..tetanus this time. double Ouch!

Bad day, very bad day, left foot out of commission thanks to glass, right arm out of commission thanks to bee, and left arm out of commission thanks to tetanus, one half of bum out of commission thanks to anti-histamine shot. Yargh. 1 sting + 2 jabs = miserable me!

..and on my way home, the pathetic sense of humour comes back and the only sad joke I could think of, came to me.

What did the terminator say to the bee when it stung him in SanFrancisco?
He shot it, and then said, Hasta La Vista Bay Bee!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Straight Talking.

Being an immigrant in any country / city means a lot of times, the easiest conversation consists of a compare and contrast discussion of cities and places and people. In my case I have heard the Delhi Vs Bombay, India Vs UK, London Vs Edinburgh, Leicester Vs London Vs Cambridge Vs Glasgow etc etc too many times. Often leading to broad generalisations, personal opinions and some very heated heads.

So when my friend came over for dinner..the conversation veered towards the Uk vs US debate. I have never been particularly keen to visit the US..nothing lures/ interests me, call me stubborn (but I have my reasons) when a friend who defines herself as Leftist / Marxist went for a short US holiday and came back, she was surprisingly surprised to find herself liking the place. And highly recommended a visit. This though is not the point here. The converation..thats what I am talking about here.

The conversation:

Friend: I loved SFO, its great. Pretty, cosmopolitan, lovely weather..really really loved it. You must go.
Guest: Yes it supposed to be great.
Husband: Yes I was supposed to join work in San Jose, not too far from SFO
Friend: Oh you would have loved it.
Guest: You did not go? why? You chose London over SFO? UK over US..(intensely incredulous look appears on guests face)
Husband: (killer line coming): I chose MY WIFE.
Silence on the table, while friends give husband more brownie points, guest is appropriately shut up, and wife is suitably impressed!


* Need to blog about 'guest' in detail later

Monday, September 15, 2008

Some more in the name of Religion

The Delhi blasts came out the blue, as blasts tend to do. Here I was sitting miles away, worrying, fretting and hoping that by some miracle the ones I love were not close to the horrific blasts.
You always hope, that no one you know, is amongst the statistics that come out of such news. Frantic phone calls/ emails later, all seemed to be ok. Relief? Hardly. You hold your breath for the next promised one, and try to live with the held breath, whispered prayers and a wish for peace.
Some more precious lives, taken, in the name of God. In the name of freedom. In the name of justice or whatever it is the bombers want. It is not right, its not agreeable and it gets you nowhere. Killing people for what? As a reaction to something? Is it a tit for tat? No..every death, adds to the toll, does not take away from anything. It adds. Eye for an eye will make us all blind someone should we keep going? Are bombs the only way to make yourself heard? Are we that deaf to other people's plight, that we need a blast to wake us up?

Waking up, getting on with our lives, as if nothing happened? Is that a solution?
Saying, we carry on, that a solution? or an ostrich like attempt at problem solving. Why would some kill? It is not human nature.

Where are we headed?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ma-isms (Mother-isms)

Things I have heard my mother say, over the years, repeatedly, which I have over a period of time realised were not exclusive to my mother..hence the list. I dont tag, but feel free to add onto this list:

1. Listen to me, I know
2. I know because I am older (thereby wiser)
3. I only want the best for you
4. In doing/ listening/ obeying me, you shall save yourself a lot of misery
5. If you listen to me you wont suffer
6. I dont understand these new fangled ideas
7. By the time I was your age, I had been married for 6 years and had 3 children
8. You never listen to me anyway, so why are you asking for advice?
9. You think you know it all, you don't
10.There is no harm in listening to advice once in a while
11.No matter what you say, somethings will not change
12.There is a time and place for everything, you have to deal with it
13.Friends are good, but not always, maintain distance
14.My hair has not turned grey in the sun (they denote wisdom of the years)
15.Someday you shall have a child of your own and then you will understand my pain
16.For your wedding I shall do as I please, you can have your way at your child's wedding
17.There are some rules, which need to be followed, not questioned
18.A boy never has anything to lose (as opposed to a girl aka me)
19.No one wants a girl who airs her opinions freely, all the time
20.Learn to sit still
21.Dont listen to me, but then dont come crying back to me either
22.We shall think/ see about that later (means NO!)
23.You think I know nothing
24.I can see inside your head and heart
25.You can never lie to me, and get away with it
26.I always want what is best for you, you might not always see it, but I can
27.Why cant you just listen without arguing
28.There is no point in my saying anything to you, you think you know it all
29.Men expect certain things in a marriage, no matter which century we live in
30.Space is good, take it, dont explain it, never argue over it
31.The man in your life, does not need to know everything, always
32.Traditions have no reasons, they just are, made to be followed
33.I shall call you by your married name, like it or not (changed or not)
34.For me, you shall always be a child
35.Please behave your age
36.The later you leave it, the harder it will be (have children now)
37.You young people/ generation your minds are in the skies
38.I always wish you happiness, but you seem to not want happiness
39.You overreact to things, calm down, grow up
40.Tch, I am not going to say anything (followed by a 40min monologue)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


I cant wander too far from this topic. I had not been thinking too hard about it till I saw this

Tahaan, is a story set in Kashmir.

Another movie about Kashmir. I dont think it shall be able to skirt the political conflict in Kashmir.

Last night I saw the trailer, it blazed the mountains back into my mind, I heard the wan wun being sung...and it came rushing back. The love I have for the place and the strong urge to drop everything and go back. Seeing the mountains through the eyes of Santosh Sivan made me shiver..I want to go back. To my mountain land.

High snow capped mountains,
with snow and clouds intermingling,
making the peak play hide and seek.

Mist rising from the mountains,
the sheer drops and sharp angles.
The smell of winter,
of wood and wool.

A sound track plays in my head,
the thrill of being here cant be described.
The need for going back cant be explained.
The place where my soul comes to rest.

I saw the cities,
I saw the countries,
I saw the seas, the lakes and the rivers,
None held me back,
none made me turn and whisper,
I shall come back, soon.

Kashmir did.
ravished, ruined, bled.
tears, protests, death.
missing people, maimed people.
distress, stress and strong sentiments.
riches and poverty,
guns and narcissi,
lakes and boats,
beak noses, skull caps and pherans.
Pain of loss.
Attempts at peace.

The valley remains,
heart achingly beautiful.
Snow covered and mist shrouded.

Parts of it like a newly wedded bride,
hidden behing multiple layers,
glimpses visible,
hiding, shy, beautiful.
Parts of it defiant and challenging,
mother nature in all its stark, raw beauty.
Awe inspiring, beckoning, challenging,

..softly, on a misty breath..
come..come back.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Police complaints

I tend not to resort to using other people's writing on my blog, but this was too good to not share. This is a complaint to Devon & Cornwall Police Force from an angry member of the public.

Dear Sir/Madam/Automated telephone answering service,
Having spent the past twenty minutes waiting for someone at Bodmin police station to pick up a telephone I have decided to abandon the idea and try e-mailing you instead.

Perhaps you would be so kind as to pass this message on to your colleagues in Bodmin, by means of smoke signal, carrier pigeon or Ouija board.

As I'm writing this e-mail there are eleven failed medical experiments (I think you call them youths) in St Mary's Crescent, which is just off St Mary's Road in Bodmin.

Six of them seem happy enough to play a game which involves kicking a football against an iron gate with the force of a meteorite. This causes an earth shattering CLANG! which rings throughout the entire building.
This game is now in its third week and as I am unsure how the scoring system works, I have no idea if it will end any time soon.

The remaining five walking-abortions are happily rummaging through several bags of rubbish and items of furniture that someone has so thoughtfully dumped beside the wheelie bins. One of them has found a saw and is setting about a discarded chair like a beaver on speed.

I fear that it's only a matter of time before they turn their limited attention to the bottle of Calor gas that is lying on its side between the two bins.
If they could be relied on to only blow their own arms and legs off then I would happily leave them to it. I would even go so far as to lend them the matches.

Unfortunately they are far more likely to blow up half the street with them and I've just finished decorating the kitchen.

What I suggest is this - after replying to this e-mail with worthless assurances that the matter is being looked into and will be dealt with, why not leave it until the one night of the year (probably bath night) when there are no mutants around then drive up the street in a Panda car before doing a three point turn and disappearing again. This will of course serve no other purpose than to remind us what policemen actually look like.

I trust that when I take a claw hammer to the skull of one of these throwbacks you'll do me the same courtesy of giving me a four month head start before coming to arrest me.

I remain sirs, your obedient servant



Mr ??????,

I have read your e-mail and understand your frustration at the problems caused by youths playing in the area and the problems you have encountered in trying to contact the police.

As the Community Beat Officer for your street I would like to extend an offer of discussing the matter fully with you.

Should you wish to discuss the matter, please provide contact details (address / telephone number) and when may be suitable.

PC ?
Community Beat Officer


Dear PC ?
First of all I would like to thank you for the speedy response to my original e-mail.

16 hours and 38 minutes must be a personal record for Bodmin Police Station, and rest assured that I will forward these details to Norris McWhirter for inclusion in his next book.

Secondly I was delighted to hear that our street has its own Community Beat Officer.

May I be the first to congratulate you on your covert skills? In the five or so years I have lived in St Mary's Crescent , I have never seen you. Do you hide up a tree or have you gone deep undercover and infiltrated the gang itself? Are you the one with the acne and the moustache on his forehead or the one with a chin like a wash hand basin? It's surely only a matter of time before you are head-hunted by MI5.

Whilst I realise that there may be far more serious crimes taking place in Bodmin, such as smoking in a public place or being Christian without due care and attention, is it too much to ask for a policeman to explain (using words of no more than two syllables at a time) to these tw*ts that they might want to play their strange football game elsewhere.

The pitch on Fairpark Road , or the one at Priory Park are both within spitting distance as is the bottom of the Par Dock, the latter being the preferred option especially if the tide is in.

Should you wish to discuss these matters further you should feel free to contact me on . If after 25 minutes I have still failed to answer, I'll buy you a large one in the Cat and Fiddle Pub.


P.S If you think that this is sarcasm, think yourself lucky that you don't work for the cleansing department, with whom I am also in contact!!

Friday, August 22, 2008


As I walked down a leafy hill towards a London suburb I could smell the rain on the wet leaves, I could feel my stomach hurting and I was missing monsoon weather from long gone days of high school when our uniforms were drenched and every puddle was a challenge to new found maturity. I could hear traffic but there were promising sounds made by the birds and the bees..I recounted the senses we humans are known to have..but something seemed to be missing on my list..

Eyes - See
Nose - Smell
Skin - Touch
Ears - Hear
Tongue - Taste

Should there not be heart/mind in this..feel. You can see something and it can sometimes move you close to tears or towards elation. You can sometimes smell something that reminds you of something or someone, the smell of Sambhar, the smell of rain on dry earth, the smell of warmth and something undescribable that comes from the baby's head (u2 put it better I think). Sounds you hear, voices you recognise..they do make you feel depressed, happy, excited (depending entirely on who's voice it is) and taste..i must say this is the best one linked to can feel intense joy and satisfaction on eating or driking something you like, and the fact that 'feeling' drunk is something that happens to most of us at some point or the other.

How come we dont have a sixth sense which has nothing to do with Mr Shymalan and everything to do with something in your head and heart?
Use 5 senses to live and the other non listed ones to be truly alive.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Making it to the headlines across the world again. The right to self determination...separatist leaders plan to submit a memorandum to the UN office in the city outlining their demands (BBC - South Asia)

The world looks on, Kashmiris look at the UN. Why I wonder do we look at the UN..if we are so sure of what we want, why do we need nods of approval from a body which obviously is non functional or of no relevance to the greater powers in the world. The Bush does not ask for consent or approval. Why do we? Why does India even contemplate battles of words with bureaucrats and diplomats in the UN..have they made a difference? Are they capable of doing anything except rounds of useless talks.

US, UK, Russia, Iraq, Seirra Leone, Timor Leste, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq..the list of nations in conflict is long..stable lasting peace..has not happened. I really do wonder what the UN's role really is in this world of Putin and Bush and Mugabe and Gen Than Shwe and Sanjagiin Bayar..look around you..are we being realistic?

What about Kashmir? Is a seperate state a possibility? Will an independent Kashmir be safe/ stable/ secure? Is it really impossible for the Kashmiri Muslims to live with the rest of the nation? Does India really need Kashmir and its problems? Do Kashmiris really need a partition of the state? Does Pakistan know what it could do with Kashmir if it gets there? Is joining Pakistan a profitable option in this day and age?

And if there is a need for all Kashmiris to vote on its future..ALL Kashmiris should..those who are born there, those who speak the language, those who are genetically Kashmiri..everyone who is Kashmiri, should decide..not just those who live in Srinagar.

I dont have an opinion about Kashmir per se which wont offend just about every reader here, I do however feel more than a bit upset that after nearly decade of relative calm..protests have started and the 'struggle' has been reawakened. It does make me wonder, no not wonder actually, it makes me re-iterate the reality of the debate over the losses of peace and profits of war/ conflict.

More money in war. Simple as that.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's over.

Two words. Simple, effective, to the point.
Could mean relief, happiness, heartbreak amongst other things.

Could also mean fresh beginnings, new approaches.
Could mean end of patience and the ability to tolerate more of the same.
Could mean end of the rope, the line and patience.
Could be tough decision making.
Could mean the starting point of memory gathering.
Could mean the line where the past ends, present and future start.

Always means the need to move on and start again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Epic Journey

Nostalgia hits me as I make my way to Edinburgh after two years. There was a time when the Man used to live there and I was in Leicester. On Fridays I would carry a small backpack to work, leave it with security and at the end of the day I would dash to the train station to catch a 5.30pm train to Edinburgh Waverley and reach there by about midnight. I did this journey which takes 5-6 hours on an alternate weekend basis. The tiresomeness of the journey, which many of my friends mentioned, did not feature in my mind then, maybe I was younger..or maybe it was just L=O=V=E.

I would sit with my water,salt and vinegar Walkers, Kit Kat and a juicy book + iPod and make my way to Edinburgh, only to return in 48 hours. hmmmm. And last night I was trying to remember the route..all 395 miles of it..

Leicester - Derby - Chesterfield - Sheffield - Doncaster - York - Darlington - Durham - Newcastle - Berwick Upon Tweed and finally to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh - where the man lived. Romanticised in my living high up in the mountains, surrounded by dark grey clouds, crumbling rock castles built at great heights, sea waves crashing by the Forth bridge, sharp billowing gusts of wind (non fiction - Edinburgh is like this)..and he would come, get me from the station and take me home...

I must have made this journey close to a 100 times..just to see him.
Edinburgh played the role of the perfect romantic destination. Dark, brooding, old architecture, Gothic spires, stained glass churches, narrow alleyways, steep staircases, winding cobbled streets, tall trees, dark clouds, cold weather and ofcourse..the Castle perched on top of a volcanic rock, vigilance despite the years. I do wonder if the Man had lived in some place like (dont want to insult anyone here but..) Milton Keynes or..Skegness or...Grimsby..would I have been as impressed?
Too late to ask such questions..and I am rambling here..

But yes..I am making the journey Edinburgh, to see the festival, to revisit all the places I went to. And yes..I know I have been to many other lovely places in other parts of the world..but if there is one place..I would be happy to live at for the rest of my life, it would be Edinburgh. Kashmir comes close, but is not as much of a possibility as I would want it to be.

~Image courtesy jimbodownie and Alllfff

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Of culture, snobbery, pseudo intellect and other such like.

This was too interesting to not share...

Dear Dr. Kierkegaard,

All my life I’ve been a successful pseudo-intellectual, sprinkling quotations from Kafka, Epictetus and Derrida into my conversations, impressing dates and making my friends feel mentally inferior. But over the last few years, it’s stopped working. People just look at me blankly. My artificially inflated self-esteem is on the wane. What happened?

Existential in Exeter

Dear Existential,

It pains me to see so many people being pseudo-intellectual in the wrong way. It desecrates the memory of the great poseurs of the past. And it is all the more frustrating because your error is so simple and yet so fundamental.

You have failed to keep pace with the current code of intellectual one-upsmanship. You have failed to appreciate that over the past few years, there has been a tectonic shift in the basis of good taste.

You must remember that there have been three epochs of intellectual affectation. The first, lasting from approximately 1400 to 1965, was the great age of snobbery. Cultural artifacts existed in a hierarchy, with opera and fine art at the top, and stripping at the bottom. The social climbing pseud merely had to familiarize himself with the forms at the top of the hierarchy and febrile acolytes would perch at his feet.

In 1960, for example, he merely had to follow the code of high modernism. He would master some impenetrably difficult work of art from T.S. Eliot or Ezra Pound and then brood contemplatively at parties about Lionel Trilling’s misinterpretation of it. A successful date might consist of going to a reading of “The Waste Land,” contemplating the hollowness of the human condition and then going home to drink Russian vodka and suck on the gas pipe.

This code died sometime in the late 1960s and was replaced by the code of the Higher Eclectica. The old hierarchy of the arts was dismissed as hopelessly reactionary. Instead, any cultural artifact produced by a member of a colonially oppressed out-group was deemed artistically and intellectually superior.

During this period, status rewards went to the ostentatious cultural omnivores — those who could publicly savor an infinite range of historically hegemonized cultural products. It was necessary to have a record collection that contained “a little bit of everything” (except heavy metal): bluegrass, rap, world music, salsa and Gregorian chant. It was useful to decorate one’s living room with African or Thai religious totems — any religion so long as it was one you could not conceivably believe in.

But on or about June 29, 2007, human character changed. That, of course, was the release date of the first iPhone.

On that date, media displaced culture. As commenters on The American Scene blog have pointed out, the means of transmission replaced the content of culture as the center of historical excitement and as the marker of social status.

Now the global thought-leader is defined less by what culture he enjoys than by the smartphone, social bookmarking site, social network and e-mail provider he uses to store and transmit it. (In this era, MySpace is the new leisure suit and an AOL e-mail address is a scarlet letter of techno-shame.)

Today, Kindle can change the world, but nobody expects much from a mere novel. The brain overshadows the mind. Design overshadows art.

This transition has produced some new status rules. In the first place, prestige has shifted from the producer of art to the aggregator and the appraiser. Inventors, artists and writers come and go, but buzz is forever. Maximum status goes to the Gladwellian heroes who occupy the convergence points of the Internet infosystem — Web sites like Pitchfork for music, Gizmodo for gadgets, Bookforum for ideas, etc.

These tastemakers surf the obscure niches of the culture market bringing back fashion-forward nuggets of coolness for their throngs of grateful disciples.

Second, in order to cement your status in the cultural elite, you want to be already sick of everything no one else has even heard of.

When you first come across some obscure cultural artifact — an unknown indie band, organic skate sneakers or wireless headphones from Finland — you will want to erupt with ecstatic enthusiasm. This will highlight the importance of your cultural discovery, the fineness of your discerning taste, and your early adopter insiderness for having found it before anyone else.

Then, a few weeks later, after the object is slightly better known, you will dismiss all the hype with a gesture of putrid disgust. This will demonstrate your lofty superiority to the sluggish masses. It will show how far ahead of the crowd you are and how distantly you have already ventured into the future.

If you can do this, becoming not only an early adopter, but an early discarder, you will realize greater status rewards than you ever imagined. Remember, cultural epochs come and go, but one-upsmanship is forever.

~from New York Times op-ed Columnist David Brooks - Lord of the Memes

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


The waves come running to you,
happy to see you.
Eager to present you with a gift they dug up,
from the bottom of the seabed.
They come again and again,
in an attempt to appease.
The wind tugs,
like and impatient child,
at your hair, your clothes.
Wanting something,
not quite sure what.
The sticky feeling of salty air,
the burning sunshine.
Warm sand thats intrusive,
and likes the hide in unlikely places.

Sea gulls in mid air,
frozen still in their attempts to fly.
Lazy gulls that fly but dont flap,
come close,
looking out beadily for crumbs.
Static gulls, posing for perfect photos,
suspended mid-gust.

Children with spades and buckets, digging.
Building castles, being taught to write names in sand.
Babies toddling around, dropping and getting up unhurt,
wading into water and returning with soggy nappies.
Old people with books, hats and suncream,
young people with music and fashionable swimgear.

Endless white sand and green water,
long lazy walks,
with sand between your toes,
and sea shelss in your hand,
eyes scrunched up against the sand,
hair messed with the wind,
and a smile...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

North meets South

Had some people over for dinner, colleagues of the Man. I always think of Indians as one large homogenous group...the differences owing to the directions of our origin apart, we are not too different..or so I would like to think.
Well, apparently not!
For starters there is the presumption that anyone with a lighter skin colour is either part foreign. But if you are from Southern India..fair skin, plus smooth hindi = Punjabi. And I always clench my teeth and highlight the fact that there are more states north of Punjab that one ever thinks of Kashmir unless voting is around the corner I guess.

The next thing is the language barrier, Hindi is the national language..right or wrong..but most people dont speak it, people in question here were from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, they spoke good English with a different accent, but Hindi conversation between us (incl the Man) was met with blank looks. And I say..come must have seen some Hindi no! No.

The approach to food was wary, chicken curry, chola, aloo, and cabbage with peas, all made indian style were reluctantly tested. My food is not mild in terms of spice, but it turned out without pepper corns, food is not categorised as hot, which is typical of 'North Indian' it really!! Apart from the chicken nothing else was eaten..maaaaybe it was alien to the taste buds. But suddenly I was very aware of the fact that I am NORTH Indian. Hmmm!! My curiousity and fondness for food means I am very happy (and well acquainted with all things South Indian) also gujarati bearing in mind London is full of all kinds of Indian food..and I have travelled a fair amount in India. Thus this reaction towards my food..was hmm..surprising. I had made some well known dishes..Aloo is universally eaten!! Even the yoghurt was rejected for being too thick!!

Apart from the apparent, there was a distinct difference in conversation, to thinking, to behaving..including sitting on a sofa, carrying on a conversation. One person decided to sit ramrod straight and stare, whilst the other went on giggling..make me quite confused to what to do. Their opinion about my house was 'lovely' but why do only 2 of you live in such a large house..hmm? Understandable I would say. Puzzling reaction though!

Being in London and not being curious about everything around you..specially the well known, thanks to Bollywood, landmarks..well you HAVE to see them..but nope. They had not seen them and were not keen to either. Most people would restriction to spending a large amount of money causes prevention to seeing places. Hmm..not true really..its not cheap, but it aint stupendous amounts of money either. It seemed to be a lack of curiousity..and I am sitting on judgement..forgive me. But these people are paid decently.

Initially uncomfortable, then strange, turning to curious and then just plain confused happened over a couple of hours to me. Am I too North Indian or have I just not met too many different people from other parts of my country.

Monday, July 14, 2008

iPhone 3G = Cool

Ok so I am not too good at finding phones with contracts. I have had a long strange equation with most of my phones I guess as long as I have one which catches some network and has a long enough battery life I am happy.

The good old Blackberry had stopped working as well as it did before..and before I knew it, it was time to upgrade. Being married to a geek means any phone I liked aesthetically was pooh-poohed, any phone I thought was smart was not good enough for him, and ofcourse I should never buy 'first generation' technology. So I sat with my Blackberry..waiting for a nicer newer phone..hmm...I was told all about the Google phone which shall some day arrive..but now..I have gone ahead and got myself the iPhone 3G. the idea of having music/video and internet on a good looking (though slightly large) phone was appealing. The fact that the O2 contract here was the best deal iPhone is offering was mentioned by Pushkar and the idea kind of stuck on from there. However I refused to stand in long queues on 11th July when the phone was released..after much media hype, I am not going to scream for my handset, I shall not be one of those people on TV who were camping outside the phone shops, standing and standing and then watch them run out of phones. I would do that for a new Harry Potter..but for a phone..uhh..NOPE! So I ordered it and sat and waited for 48 hours.

Meanwhile the Apple fan husband decided to go hunting online for reported faults and glitches in the new phone. Looked for discussions and conversations..could not find any realistic I was told..there are no reported people have not got the phone yet...O2 has run out of handsets, as have twisted logic..there are no problems, coz there are no phones, and as there are no phones, dont be surprised if yours does not arrive tomorrow. Be prepared to battle O2 to get your hands on one. hmmm!!

And I promised..its on time. In well designed packaging...which I shall take photographs of to use for my teaching..small, well shaped, tiny manual, smart box, little text, straight forward graphics, minimal use of paper and packaging..and ofcourse all recyclable! Now I need to avoid using the Man's his iTunes library shall get now I need to buy a MacBook - Air to complete to cool look :)

Guess who is going to be busy all day reading manuals and downloading, uploading and importing? Guess who is going to hurry back home from make sure the wife does not 'mess up' the phone or his lovely computer!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

No Real Reason

After having known hectic schedules, constant chasing of my own tail, being a headless chicken, I am in a period of forced rest. Yes I am on holiday and have little to do..which means the little that I need to do also does not get done. Which means the little piles into lots and then inertia strikes. Making it impossible for me to actually do ANYTHING.
Not needing to get out of the house, translates into not needing to dress up, which now means I need some more track pants! The fact that the British summer is not really here, and from the looks of it, wont really get here either, I see no reason of getting out in the cold and wet outside.
Which leaves me at home, with the internet and TV and a LOAD of books for company. Ideal situation some would say. After seeing some people struggling to cope with 24 hours in a day..I find myself have time, sleep, books and nothing much else to worry about. I know it will be shortlived..and so I need to enjoy this space and time..I might not get it back!
However the feeling of being 'useless' is not easy to shake off, it multiplies when the husband comes home, tired, hungry, cold and wet..and yours truly has just finished watching The Simpsons with yet another cup of tea!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Nothings sweet about me

I seem to be unable to stop..I keep singing the chorus of this song..well have been doing it since Saturday morning..I am starting to get to myself!!

This is Gabriella Cilmi 'Sweet About Me'

Ohh watching me, hanging by a string this time.
Don't easily, the climax of the perfect life.
Ohh watching me, hanging by a string this time.
Don't easily, smile worth a hundred lies.

If there's lessons to be learned, I'd rather get my jamming words in first so, tell you something that I've found, that the worlds a better place when it's upside down boy.

If there's lessons to be learned, I'd rather get my jamming words in first so, when your playing with desire, don't come running to my place when it burns like fire boy. Chorus:

Sweet about me, nothing sweet about me, Yehh
Sweet about me, nothing sweet about me, Yehh
Sweet about me, nothing sweet about me, Yehh
Sweet about me, nothing sweet about me, Yehh

Blue, blue, blue, waves they crash as time goes by, so hard to catch. Too, too smooth, ain't all that, why don't you ride my side of the tracks.

If there's lessons to be learned, I'd rather get my jamming words in first so, tell you something that I've found, that the worlds a better place when it's upside down boy.

If there's lessons to be learned, I'd rather get my jamming words in first so, when your playing with desire, don't come running to my place when it burns like fire boy.

Sweet about me, nothing sweet about me, Yehh
Sweet about me, nothing sweet about me, Yehh
Sweet about me, nothing sweet about me, Yehh
Sweet about me, nothing sweet about me, Yehh
Sweet about me, nothing sweet about me, Yehh
Sweet about me, nothing sweet about me, Yehh
Sweet about me, nothing sweet about me, Yehh

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Stumbled upon James Frey

Yup..I picked it up, after seeing someone look completely absorbed in it on the tube. Okay I am not exactly picking it up while its hot. But I have spent the best part of the weekend stuck inside 'A Million Little Pieces'

Its a serious, dark, well told tale of an Alcoholic, a Drug Addict and a Criminal.
I did not know the Queen of TV and pretty much anything else of any consequence in the US..Oprah herself has been involved in the huge debate that surrounds this book. Apparently its not all non-fiction and the author, James Frey, has been asked to apologize to the public.

I did not know about the debate, I have noticed the book in various locations in book shops and also on some charts sometime ago. So while shopping for groceries I picked up 'A million little pieces'. I must say, I do not care about the debate too much - the book is great, it asks to be read at one sitting! Its straight forward, graphic, in places disgusting, very realistic and cynical, some interesting philosophy in places. Now I shall have to pick it's sequel!! Read it. I kept thinking that I need to go back to prison and read bits of it to my students..but I cant..I dont work there anymore..perhaps one of my ex colleagues can do that. I used to teach drug addicts gone cold turkey..and some of what I am reading in Frey's book recalls conversations I have had in prison with people.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

'Her' Photos...

The ship I wrote about..Sarah her name are the pictures..
The first ofcourse is the colours of the flag..British. The second shows how long she is..all the way to the small tall chimney like thing in the front (and we are 1/3 away from the back end of the ship). The next one is the exhaust pipe..which is tough to show in context..lets see..the two on the side are for the generators and the big one is for the engine..lets not even start talking about carbon footprint for Sarah:) The last one is of the cranes that are used to load and unload the ships at the port.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mobile but unplanned

I forgot my phone at home yesterday. I knew I had and it was too late to get home and then get to work without being really late for work. So I just went ahead and left home without my phone...for perhaps the first time!

It did make me think. Apart from keeping in touch with people constantly and being available all the time for a phones also make us less disciplined. How many times have you actually called someone to say..yes I am about to reach this place, or called to ask where they are? How many times have you called to confirm things and change things at the last minute. Ask questions which came to you after the meeting finished. Called to say I am standing here under this big tree with orange flowers.

What used to be planned..time, place, space and now a free flowing list of 24x7 questions. What used to be the occasional long call to be made to catch up is now more frequent text messages.

Would you be lost without your phone? Would you feel incomplete and insecure without it?

I did for about 10 mins..and then it was almost liberating to know..I dont need to answer any calls at any time. It wont be my phone that bleeps in a meeting. I dont know what time I shall get home but thats ok. Na-ice.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Its a She

Output of engine - 55,980 BHP @ 94 RPM
Length - 300 mts
Fuel capacity - 6645.7 Metric Tons
Speed - 24 knots

She needed to switch off her engines and wait quietly for the Tug boats to pull her in. She needed them to help her park at the port. Her engine being too powerful to be used inside a dock.

This was a huge cargo ship I was on at Felixstowe. She had all of 12 floors. She was quite old but she was beyond my expectations. I thought Titanic, boats, ships etc..same thing. I expected some amount of movement of the ship as it rested on water. But instead I went inside and it did not rock. At all. The captain's floor which was just below the bridge (cockpit equivalent) was like a rather large apartment, complete with a bar, pots of coriander growing on the windowsills, a laptop with music playing.

I was shown maps, radars, ship paths, sea depths, routes to avoid, maps in different languages, sat nav systems, auto pilot controls, the engine room..the list went on.

I was taken aback by the sheer size of the thing. Having grown up miles away from any water body I am not familiar with ships of any sort. What struck me though was the fact that the engineers, the captain and pretty much everyone on board called it a 'She' very affectionately, but definitely a she. When questioned I was given the amused but will-not-tell-look by one and all. The captain later said its on old debate..aircrafts, ships etc..they are all female for some reason. The tug boats however..were not female..they were coming to get her, and help her park, they were strong and she needed them. hmmm.

I sat there thinking, if the ship could tell stories of its travel, it would last forever..and if 'it' was a 'she' indeed..I would love to hear them. What would it be like to be on sea, for 3-4 months at a stretch, no land, no docking, just sea, wind, sky and the sound of the massive engines!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Stay at Home?

Recently had one of those discussions with the Man about young people not wanting to live with their parents after they finish their education, which started as a discussion and concluded with a 'end-of' statement.

A lot of people in UK and Europe expect their 18 year olds to move out and get on with their own lives as soon as they turn 18. Infact retirement plans are often made on the basis that there will be no children in the house by a certain date and then the parents can get back to leading their own lives. Which sounded strange to me the first time I heard it..but now I guess I am used to the concept.

A long time ago I did contemplate heading back to Delhi for good, however having stayed away from home for a longish period, I was not too keen to go back home and live with the house 'rules'. I do love my folks and everything..and I dont think it needs explaining, but I also at the same time think that asking my folks to change how they do things to suit me would not be fair. I would be working full time, and coming home to my family..nothing wrong with that he says. No there is nothing wrong, but I would rather have a place of my own..nearby maybe, but space of my come back to. This case was presented to Him, who says, whats different, you stay at home. Your folks are friendly people I am sure they wont mind your socialising..and coming home at odd hours.

But I dont think its quite the same thing. There are nights when we sit and chat and eat and drink till late with our friends, when someone eventually grabs the couch to pass the night, friends who drop by with wine and then stay for the night, friends who drop in at odd hours to check if you are free to watch a film etc, impromptu plans made for the evening and weekends, lunches and dinners. Now this all does happen, when you are single (probably), have just started working and earning a decent enough amount to afford a social life, and have other people like yourself as friends...chances are you lead a somewhat similar life.

The life before this was full of education and parents and rules and targets and interviews and exams, the life after this will be probably married or with a significant other, with a social life of a different kind, and perhaps later you shall socialise with your insomniac child and a bottle of milk! Things change. People need space to get to terms with their changing lives. Ofcourse if there is an option of getting space to begin with.

So, coming back to staying at home. My mother always thought that until the date I marry, I shall stay with her, find a job in Delhi, stay at home and post marriage live with the husband, I dont think this thinking would surprise too many Indian parents. Its the done thing. However in my case, this event did not occur. I moved out to study and work and have not gone back, have got married as chances are slim I would stay with her.

I think I might have sounded a bit miffed, because the conversation we were having reached the statement point, where in He says, ' My kids will damn well stay at home, no need to go anywhere, if you are on holiday you are at home!' end-of.

But it is hard to explain, when you step away from home, you grow the innate ability to watch your own back, to understand budgets and finance, to see friend from foe, to stumble and fall, get up without assistance and get going, you learn to keep things to yourself which might worry the people back home, you see the value of home and family, you form your own small quasi-family of friends, you learn and you then set up a style of life/living/thinking/behaving which is uniquely you, adapted and adopted from your family in parts perhaps, but tailor made by you to suit you perfectly. And this..(nameless) state of existence and living is what you grow into and start to like..which when you move back home..does not quite fit/sit perfectly with what your parents (state of existence) maybe.

After being away from home for long, it is nice or rather lovely to be back for a while on holiday or just for a bit, but after some time, I start to miss my own space, my own existence in what I tend to call 'My house' and I like coming back to it.

So needing space, away from home is nothing to do with what you think or feel for your parents, but more about how you have changed and grown into. To understand the change, accept it and live with it happily without making others change for you. The bottom line know..home with your parents is always there, its back up...they will always welcome you home, you can always head back..but its ok to need your own place and space.