Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dance To The Last

Yet another birthday looms large on the horizon, and, my inner circle is abuzz with questions.
About celebration plans, wish lists and the special gifts that will come my way.
About the countdown to the larger than life '40' milestone, which now hangs over my neck like the sword of Damocles.
And, above all, if I intended to continue allowing the irrepressible child in my heart to manifest itself in my personality...

Most, I am afraid, are a little disappointed by my vague responses and perhaps, more so by my nonchalance about the impending event.

As the questions continue to stream in, I answer them as best as I can. All the while, wondering if the listener has sensed that, at this moment, my birthday plans are the least of my concerns.

This is not to say that I am against birthdays or anniversaries or celebrations in general.
Or, that I expect the rest of the world to slave their fingers to the bone, in making it a special day for me.

What does not appeal to me is the element of contrivance which prior planning brings to these special days.
I would rather go with the flow and take each moment as it comes.

Over the past many years, what made every birthday special was the love and warmth that I was cocooned in.

I love the fact that people care enough to remember, to call, or better still, to drop by for a drink and a giggle.

I am always touched when they stretch that extra mile, to do something that warms me to the cockles of my heart.

And I enjoy the sense of anticipation a beautifully packaged gift offers me.
The excitement of discovery as I rip it open.
It doesn't matter what is inside.
It could be a string of cheap beads or a ridiculously expensive solitaire.
For me, what matters is the element of surprise, the excitement of the moment and the warmth of being loved.

So inevitably, year after year, when friends ask me how I plan to celebrate my birthday or what I have asked for by way of gifts, my answer always is none what so ever.

I look forward to seeing what the day brings my way..the fun, the spontaneity, the discovery and the savouring of the emotions.

For me, this is what life is all about.
And I think I will carry this passion for life, with all its good and bad, right to my grave.

People tell me that everything slows down with age, except the time it takes for an utterly sinful wedge of warm gooey chocolate walnut brownie to reach your hips.

I disagree.

Age does not bring wisdom...Life and its many experiences does that!!!

At 15,I thought 20 was the Golden Age, and just couldn't wait to hit the magic number.
Unfortunately for me, life started at a snail's pace.
By 25, I was a little panicked because I thought I would be semi senile by the time I hit 30 and was haunted by visions of myself rocking away aimlessly on the porch of a geriatric care center.

But then, life in the 30s lane have proved to be incredibly exciting.
Probably because I have shed a lot of inhibitions, don't worry over much about looking like a fool and laugh easily when I do.
And, I am not afraid to demand love, express sorrow and more importantly, eliminate the weeds in my garden of life.

I find myself increasingly open to experimentation and new experiences.
So much so that on my 36th birthday, the only thought in my mind is that if the 30s are so incredibly exciting, then, what do the 40s and 50s hold in store for me?

Would I dare go skinny dipping in the moonlight...Climb a mountain...Tend a raucous bar in true coyote style...or swim with the dolphins in the deep blue ocean...
Would my dream of being a renowned writer come true?
Would my vision of bringing love and hope into the lives of abused children translate into reality?
Who knows?

For all I know, I may be skydiving at 60 or even doing the salsa at the ripe old age of 70.
Because in my heart I believe that you don't stop dancing because of age.
You grow old only because you stopped dancing.

Note: Reproduced from with minor variations

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

When Life Came A Full Circle!

" I thought about you a moment back", she said, her voice heavy with quiet happiness.
And, after a moment's pause, she blurted almost shyly "I was thinking that the books you read are quite qualitative....And, I felt proud of you"

My eyes suddenly blurred. And,my throat choked with emotion.

This was the mother who had introduced me to the pleasures of reading, much before I could even walk a straight line with my baby feet.

A student of literature and a voracious reader, Amma has had a life-long love affair with books.
A passion which she passed on to me.
With reverence and pride.
As a torch bearer would, his precious flame.

As I went through life devouring Austen, Dickens and the rest of their ilk, before progressing to more contemporary writers, Amma's roles as wife and mother ate into the time reserved for her beloved books. And, even as my love for books grew with each passing day, her passion waned into barely aglow embers.

Years passed by, and, I grew into adulthood.
Into a career, and, life in a big city far away from home.
But, I never stopped reading.

Despite the demands on my time, I read voraciously.
In cafeterias.
On the bus.
Over meals.
And, in bed late at night.

Maybe I was driven by a deep-rooted fear.
That if I slacked, I would loose my passion too.
Just as Amma did.

I came home on visits with bags bursting at the seams with books.
Which I would wave tantalisingly at her face as I danced circles around her in our huge kitchen.

But, Amma was made of sterner stuff.
And, never bit the bait.

Until my last visit home.

When I left Kakar's 'Mira and the Mahatma' behind.

A month later, I sent home some books for a cousin, who was to visit.

And now, this call.

As I struggled to recover my composure, my mother went on " Mira and the Mahatma was riveting. I enjoyed it tremendously. Even the Ice Candy Man looks interesting, so I thought I would read it before passing it on to your cousin. In any case, she is not due to visit in the immediate future"

" Sure Amma".
And then, crossing my fingers, I held my breath as I asked her the million dollar question " Shall I send you some more books from my collection?"

For a split second, she hesitated.
" Well, not immediately. But, maybe when you come home next."
" What kind of books will you get me? I am interested in good books...good language...strong storyline..."
Again, a pause
" I leave it to you to decide. Bring me what you think I will enjoy......"

And, then she was back to her impressions about Miraben and the Mahatma.

As she gushed excitedly, a voice from the past rang loud in my ears. Of Amma reading out to the wide eyed, baby me about the good king Richard or Richard Lion Heart as he was known, who went on a crusade leaving his kingdom in the hands of his evil brother John.

Sudhir Kakar may never know.
But, I will always remain in his debt.

For not just writing a book that closed the circle of life between a mother and daughter.
But, also for leveling the playing field between us.


Monday, June 8, 2009

On Criticism

Two roads lie before a person criticised.

One is the high road, where she can examine the critical words for merit before reacting.
And, if she finds even an iota of truth in the harsh words, then, it is up to her to choose to change for the better.
Or, try brush it under the carpet of one's ego.
But, at least, she would have done the right thing of having looked within with brutal honesty, and introspected.

The second, which is the refuge of the weak and shallow, is to react like a cornered animal and lash out in rage. Without any thought what-so-ever.
To heap abuse and lies on the offender, making it abundantly clear to all and sundry that a raw nerve has been hit.

The first is the path of the wise, and, the strong.

And, the second, ....
Well...Now, what was it that the wise old men said about empty vessels and a cacophony?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Seriously, Why Archie?

So, the latest to clamber on board the marriage bandwagon is the Andrews lad.

If reports are to be believed, the famous carrot top is
all set to wed the rich Lodge brat leaving Betty, the adorable girl next door, clutching at the pieces of her broken heart.

In the eyes of the world, the Good Girl has lost out,and, the Bad Girl gets to take home the trophy.

But, even as disbelieving fans the world over continue to ask, why Archie would pop the question to the 'live life queen size' Veronica and not to the 'sugar, spice and all things nice' Betty, I cannot help but wonder just what the fuss and bother is all about.

Let's face it.

Archie is no trophy husband.
He is a very ordinary guy, with an average IQ and no special talent to write home about.

In all the stories I have read, Archie shows no ambition.
No inclination to work......Well, except his roving eye that is.
And, truth be told, he has not the good sense to see a good thing for what it is, as is clearly evidenced by his treatment of poor love-sick Betty.

In short, Archie Andrews is just a lazy, skirt-chasing dork!

Correction: a goofy-looking, lazy, skirt-chasing dork!!!
For a moment, I forgot the carrot head and bushy eyebrows which works well in a comic strip, but, in the real world, well, that would be no Brad Pitt we are talking about.

Sure, he is a fun buddy to hang out with when you are in school.
But, as a life partner, it beats me why any woman would want to fight it out for Mr. Vanilla Andrews!

And, here we have two beautiful, intelligent women, each a catch in her own way, doing just that.
With the world split down the center, debating who would make the better bride!
Rather than ask, if Archie is the right husband for either girl.

Even in a comic strip, shouldn't women be settling for men who are more their equals than an ordinary Joe?

Well, the way things stand.
Whoever gets to walk down the aisle with carrot top...Betty or Veronica.
Me thinks, this is one story which is not going to end with 'And They Lived Happily Ever After'

Sad, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Ten Catmmandments!

Catmmandment # 1
The World is a Cat's Oyster

Cats own it all.
People. Places. Possessions.
In short, everything!.

What humans think they own, is, only due to the kind graces of the cat/s they serve.

Catmmandment # 2
Cats, being the more intelligent species, are born to rule.

As all cats know, there exists an inverse co-relation between altitude and brain power.
The higher the grey cells from ground level, the lesser its effectiveness!!!

So, now you know, why human slaves so easily controlled by a crook of the claw?

Catmmandment # 3
Humans, though the high priests of the feline religion, are still slaves.

Every cat is the un-anointed representative of Gods on Earth.
They, therefore, do not socialise with lesser life forms.
Including their human slaves, no matter how endearing they may seem.
Or, how much they grovel.

The purpose of every human life form is to serve cats.
It falls to the human slaves to feed, groom, protect, to tend to, and, indulge felines in all their eccentricities.

A good human slave eventually attains Nirvana, and, becomes a cat companion in the
Rainbow Bridge. While, the human oddball who professes dislike, and, even hatred, of the feline race is cursed to an eternity of cleaning cat poop!

Catmmandment # 4
All other life forms - dogs, birds, creepy crawlies, rats - have only two purposes in life.
And, nourishment.

A corollary to the Third Catmmandment, this commandment reinforces the need for cats to refrain from socialising from lesser life forms.

Catmmandment # 5
Cleanliness is next to Feliness.

Every cat must groom herself/himself atleast 5 times a day.
Regular grooming not only sets a good precedent for slaves, and, other inferior life forms, but, it also offers a convenient way of saving face.
Say, when a cat chances to slip off the sofa.
Or, is startled suddenly.
Or, horror of horrors, may have let a stinky rat slip through, to freedom.

Catmmandment # 6
Catnaps -A feline's secret weapon to world domination.

Cat's don't nap.
They meditate.
On taking over the world,.
On further taming their human slaves.
And, about exterminating, or, enslaving, all other life forms.

Catmmandment # 7
One World. One Language.

Referring back to the second Catmmandment, the mental prowess of the human slaves is limited.
It, therefore, falls to the cats to simplify the common unifying language to a single syllable.

Miaow, depending on the intonation, can be used to communicate a gamut of instructions, ranging from 'Leave Me Alone, Bald Face' to ' Come To Momma, Little Birdie' to ' Got Milk?'

In situations of urgency, a rapid sequence of Miaows can be used for action oriented communication.

Catmmandment # 8
Occasionally, practise kindness to dumb creatures

Every now and then, throw a bone of feline kindness at your slaves.
Acts of kindness can be a perfunctory grooming session.
A nap on an available lap.
Indulging the slave in a short game of catch.
Or, offering the remains of a decapitated little rodent, or, birdie.

Catmmandment # 9
Furniture was born to be scratched.

It is the responsibility of every feline to help furniture, regardless of size and pedigree,to fulfil its destiny on earth and attain furniture nirvana.
And, yes, cushions, books, papers, bed covers, and clothes left about on chairs, beds or tables also fall within the purview of furniture.

Catmmandment # 10
Exert The Iron Fist in the Furry Paw

A cat is the lord and master of the house.
No one, and that really means no one, will take precedence over him, nor, will he be ignored.

To test and monitor obedience levels in their slaves, every cat must have a programme designed to provoke reactions from her slaves, and, test their love and devotion to the feline species. The programme must be extreme and can include random acts of aggression, eating of plants, spraying in the house, mountaineering on a slave leg, ignoring the fawning human slave, scratching , biting, and, cat walking over the sleeping slaves in the dead of the night.