Saturday, May 1, 2010


Strange are the ways of men.

They spend the first many years of their lives looking ahead, to a bright, glittering future, unaware of the fetters that the mind slowly, but surely, places around their feet.

The fetters grow in weight over time...unseen, but never unfelt.
And, man, unmindful of the weights that bear him down, plods along wearily towards his dreams, one heavy step at a time, often wondering from sheer exhaustion where he has gone wrong.

Some men reach their destinations, sooner or the later, with bleeding feet and a weary soul.
Only to be disappointed to discover that the sheen of the glitzy dream has dulled a tad.
Perhaps, it is the bleeding flesh and iron bound feet that diminishes the joy of achievement.

Others fall by the wayside.
Still wondering what went wrong.
Still oblivious to the fetters biting into their flesh.

But, there are those whose course is altered by life.

I suppose I should call them fortune's favoured ones, for, it is not everyone who is able to emerge stronger, wiser or happier after being walloped over the head by one of life's giant candy stripped cushions.

When you are at the receiving end of a blow, it is a rare man who can stand back to admire the beauty of the candy striped cushion.

For most of us, a blow is a blow is a blow.
It knocks us over.
Punches the wind out of our sails.
Scares the living daylights out of us.
Angers us, warping our soul a wee bit with negativity.
But mostly, it has us scurry for cover to a safe haven, where we can lick our wounds in peace and regain our breath before we resume our wearisome journey.

At times, a blow....well, let's make that a series of blows..lays us so low that we have no choice but to sit awhile and contemplate on the unfairness of life.

And, as we sit lost in our thoughts, weeping for what is not, berating the Gods above for our misfortunes, our sight may perchance fall on the bleeding flesh and the cruel fetters.

This, my friends, is the moment of truth.
When it slowly, but surely, dawns on us that there is no God, Family or Society to present our glittering dreams to us on a silver platter.
There is just us, our dreams and the biting irons on our feet.

It is the moment when we can see, if we so chose, with crystal clarity, what is, what was and what has to be. When we know, with unquestionable certainty, what needs to be done, if we can muster the courage to do so.

The defining moment when we realise that we need, no longer, be the prisoners of our mind, but, can be the architects of our dreams.
If ...and only if, we dare undo the fetters on our feet.

Not the easiest of tasks, I know.

Despite the pain we suffer and the awareness of being restrained, there is a comfort these fetters offer that are born of habit and makes it difficult for us to cast them aside easily. That, and the crippling fear of being a free bird in a world filled with anguished souls groaning under the weight of their foot-cuffs.

For those of us who would dare cast the chains aside, well, be warned, life will not change overnight.
Nor, are there any guarantees of dreams coming true.

The bleeding flesh will hurt long after the irons fall off.

And, temptation to revert to type is strong.

But, in time, the wounds will heal, the scabs will fall, and we will walk on unhindered....faster....without pain,doubt and fear.

We may or may not reach the destinations we dreamed of as young people.
But, arrive we will at our homes.
At the end of a journey, that is well travelled.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Squeeze In Time Keeps The Cancer Away!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
And, it being a cause close to my heart, how could I not devote a post to it?

Cancer, particularly that of the breast, hits a raw nerve.

Maybe it is that I am reminded of my loved ones who have fought losing battles with the dreaded disease.

Two years ago, I lost a favourite aunt.
A lump in the breast ignored for too long, eventually permeated her lungs and claimed her life.
In contrast another aunt whom I love deeply, acted promptly when she discovered a lump in her breast and today, leads a happy, fulfilling life.
Yes, the shadow of uncertainty does hang over her like the Sword of Damocles.
But, she is alive, and, most of us who know her are grateful for that.

There isn't a woman on this planet whose heart goes cold with dread at the prospect of being a victim of Breast Cancer.

For many, the fear of loosing a breast, and therefore being less feminine, is as terrifying as losing one's life.

However, despite the fear, despite the statistics that report on breast cancer being the most common cancer in women (aside from skin cancer), a sizable portion of the female population continue to remain apathetic in caring for themselves.

We women have a plethora of reasons and excuses to hide behind.
And, they come in all forms and tones.....

The self-assured, cocky.......Me & Breast Cancer? No way!'

The defiant challenge.......' If it was all that serious, surely my doctor would have suggested checks'

The weary, I-have-the-weight-of-the-world-on-my-shoulders.....' Where do I have the time? '
The patient, why-am-I-talking-to-a-retard....'I don't have a family history of breast cancer.'

The paranoid ' Because it will hurt...and besides, I hate hospitals and doctors and anything remotely associated with the medical sciences'
Which, I confess, is my preferred response to illness or any such threat to my physical self.

The terrified, ' What if I do have cancer? What if I die? I would rather live my last days in peace and not knowing...'
Not to mention the even more terrifying worries about the financial burden a positive test can lead to

The excuses are dime a dozen...And, so unreal.

It is amazing that a woman who would brush aside all such excuses when the health of a loved one is at risk, would resort to them when it comes to caring for herself.

And, depressing.

Breast cancer has claimed enough victims.

It is time for us to step out of denial and value ourselves better.
To accept our prime responsibilty to ourselves.
And, realise that no one else will fulfill our responsibilities to ourselves.

It is time for us to stand up and take charge of our health and well being.
Because good health is critical for our functioning in all spheres of life.
And, the key lies well within our grasp.

But above all, it is time for us women to free our minds from fear and understand that breast cancer does not necessarily mean the loss of a breast.

Even if it does, it is important to understand that a breast does not a woman make.

Femininity is a state of mind.
And for that to endure, it is important that a woman be alive and healthy.

So ladies, don't be shy.
Go ahead and cop a feel
Remember, a squeeze in time, will not only save that boob, but your life as well.

The Pink Ribbon Graphic used in this post has been designed by Kim West & downloaded from Pink For October

The Pink Ribbon that the Mad Moggies blog proudly sports has been designed by Denis Ryan & downloaded from Carol Sutton's website.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Message On The Auto !

All my life, I have heard people talk about the wickedness of the world we live in today.

This is no one
Pray that God keeps you...
Today's world has no conscience

Parents vs children, siblings at war, friends betrayed for a song, greed, theft, anger, violence...all the signs of a world gone wrong. Not to mention the incidents of catastrophe, natural & man-made, that strike at the foundations of our society at regular intervals.

Yet, there are moments in life, when the strength & generosity of the human spirit overwhelms me.
And, fills me with hope.

Like this morning.
I was in desperate need of fruit, and other such mundane essentials of survival that one only finds in a large supermarket. I confess, I love supermarkets and meandering about a large, well stocked supe is one of my favourite Sunday past-times.

As I stood on the lonely road, scanning the horizon for an obliging auto rickshaw, I was rather surprised to see a vehicle dressed in white heading my way.

It was a rickshaw, seemingly draped in a white dhoti!
Well, a white dhoti with red and blue words and squiggles all over it.
Pretty much like one of those privileged permed and coiffed pets on TV, which is forced into designer clothes by its doting owner.

As I squinted disbelievingly, the auto in white cruised to a slow stop next to me.

And, a young cheerful face popped out of the side, oblivious to my expression of shock and curiosity.

I was not entirely sure if I wanted to ride into town in a shrouded rickshaw, covered in squiggles that I did not understand.
What if it was propaganda of sorts?

And yet, I did not seem to have very many choices by way of transport....

Which is why when he enquired nonchalantly, I could only stammer out my destination..distractedly.

His accepting nod suddenly resolved the conflict raging within.
I had to know before I hopped on.
And so, hesitantly, in pidgin Kannada, I asked him what the message on his auto was.

" Oh, I am collecting funds for the flood victimsin Karnataka & Andra Pradesh. I do not like to ask people for money, which is why I have a banner on my auto and a collection box inside. Anyone who wants to contribute is welcome to do so."

This, he said, in a matter of fact tone which asked neither for applause nor appreciation.
It was merely an answer to a question.
And one, which piqued my curiosity.

As we sped along, I could not resist asking Ramakrishna as to how he planned to ensure that his money reached the intended recipients.

" Madam, I hand this over to the TV 9 office where they are collecting funds for relief activities. It is explained on the banner so people will know I am not a cheat."

And did people contribute? I asked
" Yes they do...In tens and twenties. I collect about 600-700 Rs. each day "

The numbers he cited jolted me.
And, my skepticism about the generosity of the society we lived in.
Are people more giving that I had imagined them to be?
Are they capable of more compassion and caring?

As I mulled over these questions, my eyes fixed unseeingly on the crude collection jar in front of me, Ramakrishna added
" Actually madam, the fares I have received this past week have also gone into that jar. I must set an example, no? So I ask the passengers to put the fares into the jar and a lot of them add a few rupees extra."

The man flummoxed me.
Why would he deprive himself of a week's earnings for people he did not know?
Had never met and probably never would in his whole life.

Maybe he was a mind reader.
Or perhaps, it was the incredulous expression on my face that prompted him to explain his motives.

" I feel bad when I see the plight of the people in these flooded villages. Imagine that, madam. Imagine loosing every single thing you posses and not have anyone to turn to because everyone you know is in the same desperate situation? And still they refuse to give up. When I see the hope on their faces, I feel I should help them..even if it is a small effort, at least I know I have done something"

His words struck a chord deep within me.
I could not, for the life of me, imagine being in such a plight.
Or, having the courage to cope with a catastrophe of this magnitude.

I don't know how many of us can.

Every single day, the world wakes up to news of such disasters.
Yet, many of us go about our daily lives without a second thought about the people afflicted by these disasters.

We tell ourselves that there isn't much that we can do.
Little realising that every little effort counts.
And that we can make a difference.

We do not need to make extravagant gestures.
Nor, do we need to deprive ourselves vastly.

Sometimes, a little goes a long way.
And this, I learnt from a humble auto driver today.

As I alighted at my destination, I gingerly pushed the fare into the box and then, some more.
Ramakrishna's delighted thank-yous sent waves of shame rippling through my being.

Here was a man who was donating a whole week's earnings, incurring costs to go about his daily work and uninhibitedly urging the rest of us to do our bit for people in need.
And, the grandness of his gesture did not prevent him from appreciating me for having donated just the cost of a decent meal.

What could I tell him?......Other than Salut.

Monday, October 5, 2009

An Affair Not To Remember?

The times....they are a changing!

Gone are the days, when men like Romeo and Devdas either died, or drank themselves to destruction to forget the pangs of a love lost.

At the movies this afternoon, a friend and I watched with aching hearts as the hero's friend broke his pensive contemplation of his drink, to hold aloft a diamond ring before mournfully informing his friend that his girlfriend had not only rejected his proposal, but had also dumped him.

As we blinked back the early prickles of salty tears at the back of our eyes, we were surprised to hear scattered laughter in the theatre. Despite the darkness, we could not help exchanging bewildered glances.

" People are laughing???" Every syllable of mine, resonated with consternation and indignation.

"New age wisdom, I suppose?" She hissed back at me, sarcasm writ all over her words .

And, we turned our attention back to the silver screen, expecting the hero to console his friend in the time honoured manner of Hindi movies. With sympathy, liquor and maybe, even a song and a dance.

Well, we were in for a disappointment.

For, on the large screen, the hero gleefully gurgled " I told you so..", amidst paroxysms of laughter.
And, the heart broken lover concurred " You told me so", with equal gay abandon.

" You are such a fool..."
They were, by now, rolling around, clutching their sides, barely able to contain their tears of mirth.
" I am such a fool...."

As the duo chortled away the last wisps of tragic romance out of the theatre, the two disillusioned romantics slumped into their seats, grateful for the anonymity of the darkness, as they manfully tried to join in the laughter that now echoed around them.

New Age Wisdom?
The Age of Cynicism?
Or, The End of Tragic Romance as we knew it?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

On Shoes & Change

Change, often, is like a new shoe.

At first, the need.
To buy or not to buy?
To change, or not ?

Then, the considerations.
Is this a better shoe than the one I have?
Is it a change for the better?

At what price?
How much, is too much?
How much am I willing to stretch?

And, then finally, come the moments of truth when we wear the new shoes to walk through new ways.
Or, perhaps on old roads.

Who really focuses on the scenery, when one is nagged by a vague, weird feeling of discomfort from a fit which is a wee bit too snug?
Or, if one is nursing angry blisters.

Until the shoes are broken in, or, shall we say, we are reconciled to the change, one has to continously resist an overwhelming urge to shake the tightly encased feet, hoping for a little more breathing space down there.

But, once you get past the blisters...the snug fit....the newness wears off and comfort levels rise, the change is no longer a change, but a well worn, comfortable habit.

And, how would you know when change knocks at your doors?

Just as you know when its time to trade in a worn pair of shoes...

It is time for change when there is an ache in the soul..when the familiar no longer delights us but instead, fills our being with a sense of jaded tiredness and self loathing.

Sometimes, every now and then, we come across a thought that grips our hearts, and fills us with an undescribable excitement and intense yearning to make it a part of our lives.

When this happens, you know that change is beckoning.
And when change comes calling, we can either stay.
Or, we can choose to run as fast as we can, in our old worn shoes till the threadbare soles completely give way, and then, my friend, is when change is gonna catch up & bite us hard on our bums.

Note: Reproduced from Soul-Talkin

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Yogi In Chains

A reputed master of yoga and other such ancient Indian sciences sauntered into office this morning.
Clad in a white kurta-pyjama, he meandered about lazily, examining the art and artifacts with detached interest.

In the distance stood a few admirers, gazing upon the noble guru in awe and veneration.
" 85 and still going strong...Can you imagine..." whispered one, all too audibly.
" He is a true master....even foreigners come to learn from him" hissed another.
Impressed more, it seemed, by the yogi's ability to attract hordes of white disciples than by the depth of his knowledge.

But, much to my surprise, he breezed into my office....The master of all that he surveyed. And, with scant disregard for all else, began to examine the yellow and white lilies in the Japanese vase on my desk.
Any offence I would have taken to this rude intrusion was mollified, in part, by his interest in my precious blooms. And so, when he eventually deigned to notice me from over the vase, I decided to accord him the traditional Indian welcome and brought my palms together in a Namaste.

Perhaps, it was that I did not look sufficiently overwhelmed.
Or, seem as if I would fawn or gush mindlessly.
For, the mystic man's glance flickered casually over me.
Without any interest. Without any acknowledgement.
And, perhaps, a tad dismissively.

With a last glance at my brilliant lilies, he wheeled about and left the room.

As I watched him walk out of the glass door, in surprised annoyance I confess, I noticed a white woman in her mid 50s walk into the office.
American, I guessed out loud to myself.
The master must have spotted her too....For his progress was, suddenly and inexplicably stalled.

To the adoring onlooker, it must have seemed as if he was pondering on a particular yogic puzzle.
Or, an unexplained mystery of life.
But, to my cynical eye, it appeared that he was sizing the entrant with barely concealed delight.

As he stood there, probably wondering how best to make his acquaintance of yet another potential disciple, a dutiful devotee stepped forward.
" Madam, this is one of the greatest men in Bangalore city. He is a famous teacher of the science of yoga. His knowledge is superlative and he may be amongst the best in the country..."

The enthusiastic eulogies that followed, floated down the hallway to my eager ears.
And I could not resist sneaking a glance at the mystic man.
He sported a benevolent smile. But beneath the modest expression, I could trace the signs of self-gratification.

My examination of his demeanor came to a screeching halt when the lady, who looked suitably impressed, flung out her arms to join her palms together in a rather exaggerated Namaste.
The beaming master, quite predictably, reciprocated with a deep, stately one of his own.

And, to think ,we Indians, take such fierce pride in having freed ourselves from the white man's yoke!!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Dream Gone Topsy Turvy

Circa 1989
The Mad Moggie, probably aged 19 or 20, day-dreams over an indescribably boring text-book.
She dreams of being a graceful swan, surrounded by a bevy of admiring men, tripping over the other to fawning men, the object of envy of other young women.
Pretty much like young Scarlett at the Wilkes plantation of Twelve Oaks.

Now, if only dreams came true.

The Mad Moggie, aged 36, skips blithely down a crowded road, gleefully dreaming of the succulent kebabs and saffron rice clutched possessively in her hands, that was to be her lunch.

And suddenly, she was down and rolling unstoppably. Pretty much like a road roller sans the driver, sans the brakes.
When the world around her stopped revolving, she gazed up with dizzy eyes at the ring of young, concerned, boyishly handsome faces above her.
And wished that the earth, at that precise moment, would swallow her and her lunch .

Funny, how dreams have a strange way of coming true.
Just wish they would stick with the plan, instead of assuming shapes that one least expects!