Saturday, August 22, 2009

Be like a child

She stood on the bed leaning
At the head board, pleading
To be lifted And I, busy,
Near by, just out of reach
"One day she will fall"...
I tell her,"I'll be there soon, love,
In a minute." She excited,
Playing, jumping, pleading,
Tipping precariously ...
In a second landed with a thump on the floor;
I shout "NOOOO..." As if
The sound would some how
Cushion her fall
I watch helpless and horrified
I wonder later if I could have
Caught her. Did I have the time?
Had I, stunned into inaction,
Given up and let her to her fate?

Head down. on all fours...
A moment of silence
As long as eternity
And then the loud wail.
More in shock than in pain
I grabbed my little one.
Shaken up, I embrace her close to my heart
Soothing myself as much as her.
Hugging her warm little body.
I have nothing to say except
"I am sorry baby"
Over and over again.
I rub her nasty bruise gently
As it turned blue black.
I stroke her back slowly
As her whimpers died
The tears stopped running
Leaving a streak behind
She calms down and is quiet
Her head resting on my shoulders

I take her on my lap still shaking.
My heart pounding
I am close to tears
As I offer her my breast
She gratefully accepts and suckles.
The bruise is now a goose egg..
She hurt her head
Is she fine? I worry
I gently rub her belly
And with the nipple still in her mouth
She smiles and then laughs!
The fall now forgotton, I sigh.
Everything is fine.

Only I wish I forgot my pain
As quickly as my little girl

Monday, August 17, 2009

T r a n s i t i o n

Transition hurts...
When we are moving from one state to the other or one level to the other, we are letting go of the familiar and facing the unknown. Every level has two sides... good and evil. That’s a universal fact. So while we are frustrated with our present existence, when the point of transition arrives, we see all the negative things looming ahead, suddenly recollecting all the good things we must lose now! And that fills us with fear, fear of the unknown. Now suddenly we no longer recollect the miseries of our current situation, instead dread the change that is to come which glittered from a distance but is not so attractive up close!.
Death is a transition between two planes of existence.
It’s the passage that we walk knowing not what lies ahead. Its painful ‘cause we are letting go of all the things we have known and loved. And not knowing what we must face next. A little like, ‘a known enemy is better than an unknown friend’.
We are constantly seeking new pastures in life and where we stand is like a hot tin roof. Restless we wander in search of happiness… discontent, despite the fact that where we are is what we wanted except not the whole of it. But every moon has a dark side. And we cannot have one without the other.
Come to think of it, even during child birth it is the transition or the process of delivery that is the most painful! Its when the loved one is departing that we are heart broken. That’s why daughters (and their parents) weep when they get married.
Sometimes we imagine a bleak future and get anxious. But once there the picture might be completely different from what we imagined. Unfortunately the reverse is also true. The problem with dreaming or imagining things is that we extrapolate the present and so our state of mind in the present is projected into a complementary event in the future. But what we forget is that innumerable parameters are lurking in the shadow which can influence the future drastically.
I think we feel in control when we imagine our future as we want it to be. But the fact is we are not in control. Its living in a fool’s paradise. We can only control our present. This moment. Now. We can choose whether we want to be happy or sad or angry. Whether we want to waste this moment in lamentation or idle around or whether we want to “ fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run” (- Rudyard Kipling in IF). Whether we want to tread the transition like a river of embers or look at it like a gift wrapping paper to behold the future that is unraveled in time. “No anticipation. No hesitation.” (- Sri Sri Ravi Shanker)

Summon the razor edge of transition
And we shall look at it in the eye
We shall not stumble but walk
The tight rope with our head high

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I love my country. I say that from the bottom of my heart. If I were to be given a chance to choose the country I wish to be born in, I would choose India. Everytime. I love this place. The diversity, the tradition and culture.. every square inch is teeming in the most amazing colors .. there is a new culture, cuisine, climate, language, geography with every mile that you traverse.. Where else can you get so much variety. There is so much to India that I don’t think any one person can see it all or even know it all in his entire lifetime. We can but taste a small piece of it. And savour it for all its worth.
SO many people intelligent, sensitive, caring, helpful, talented, creative…. I salute them.
Imagine what we can do if we all move in the positive direction as a collective whole, rooted in our tradition looking on and embracing modernity. We can change the world. We have. One man born in India has left a bit of humanity in every beating heart. The man of the millennium, our own Mahatma. And so many more.
If you look for dirt you will find it. The question is, are you missing the flowers in the garden, stuck on the weeds? Moaning and complaining instead of going on your knees to pluck them off? You can make a difference. Have you done all that you can?
On this Independence Day, let us be independent from our prejudices and doubts. Let us open our hearts and minds. Let us work hard and sleep well. Let each one of us fulfill our potential. Let us find humanity in every face we see.

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

John Lennon

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Art v/s computer

The other day, there was a demonstration at the art school that I frequent. A renowned painter spoke on his life and works as did the faculty of the school. One of the key issues that came up was the relevance and scope of painting today. And that started me thinking… is painting a dying art, much like many other art forms where technology and the computer have taken over creativity?
Today at music studios there is no 40 piece orchestra or live recording. All you need is a computer and the necessary program to create any sound from any instrument. Luckily the singer is still human! Until now! As the exponents of our great tradition of classical music are aging and passing away, there are few takers from the new generation who have the desire to pass the baton forward. Imagine a world with no live performances by maestros with music only surviving in compact discs listened to in private. When I was a student of architecture, we toiled late hours completing our submissions on drawing boards bending and breaking our backs. Literally. Towards the end of my course we were introduced to CAD… computer aided drafting. Every successive architectural office I applied for and joined progressively replaced the drawing board with computers until the time when a drawing board and tee scale became obsolete in an architectural studio. I don’t know if students today can draft manually. I don’t know if I can! It’s been ages! I only remember that it was something I enjoyed a great deal using drafting pens on ivory sheets where imagination came alive on paper. Did you hear about this person who was playing solitaire on the table with cards? His friend popped in and asked, “Oh! I didn’t know you could play it without the computer!” Letter writing has long been buried, murdered by Internet! Even emailing is a thing of the past, making way for networking. The wireless world is bludgeoning in. Art is slowly perishing incognito.
Painting on computer is not new. In fact it is a recognized form of art. You don’t need colors or brushes or medium or paper. You can get any hue or shade of color without having to mix the colors. You can erase any blunder and rework. Is that the future of painting? Will our kids know and come to enjoy the joy of painting? Holding the brush instead of the mouse mixing the paints on the palette that emanates the faint odor of chemicals, the joy of mixing many colors to get that elusive brown or green and then applying it on hand woven paper where the texture adds to the character of the painting? Making mistakes and learning from them until you have perfected the lines and the tones…
Will manual painting end up as relics in a museum? It’s a scary thought….

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The mysterious purpose behind mundane events.

Charles Dickens is one of my favorite writers. I love the language he commands in his books. His descriptions is like a warm azure sky after a rain shower… the cool air blowing on your cheeks and the rain washed roads glistening in the sun reflecting the milieu while the soft warm smell of musty earth gently rises to fill your senses. Simply beautiful. What is most interesting about his narration is that the seemingly umpteen scattered untied strings all come together neatly at the end of the story. He does a great job imitating life.
What ever happens in life has a purpose. A beautiful reason lurks behind every insignificant event that is unraveled in time. Very, very Dickensian!
My daughter is 14 months old. Sometime in my fourth month of pregnancy, my husband surprised me gifting a beautiful locket with a delicate chain. I loved it and would wear it at most occasions. Once at my parents place, I was trying to clasp it when the chain broke at its end. I was very disappointed. My dad offered to get it repaired.
I sometimes can get unlucky with gold.
I once bought a golden locket of Ganesha. Its now almost 5 years since. It was plain and simple and I liked it at first sight. The purpose of our visit to the gold shop was something else. I was with my husband, then fiance, and his father to select my thaali for our wedding. Thaali is the traditional chain that a groom ties around his bride’s neck and in the Nair wedding is the most important symbol of matrimony. I ended up possessing this locket as well. At that moment I didn’t have a chain to go with it. Few months later my husband got me a beautiful amethyst locket. And eventually we bought a chain. While it was perfect for the amethyst locket, much to my disappointment the wider end piece which connects the chain to the clasp would not pass through the small loop of the Ganesha locket. So I now had to buy a connecting link. For various reasons I never got around to do it until recently. When I showed the shop attendant my locket he said I will need two links. You see, the loop on the Ganesha was perpendicular and another link would become parallel to the chain so I would need two and that would look bad. The only other choice was to break the chain end, put it through the loop of the locket and seal it back. Too much of a hassle. So I went back home resigning to the fact that I will never be able to wear that locket.
A few days later I was at my parents place. My dad had still not got around getting my other chain repaired. Tired of waiting I decided to get it repaired myself. I took the broken chain in my hands and was hit by a bolt of lightening. Oh not to worry… I meant figuratively! What was I thinking… Thank God he did not repair it. This chain with the broken end would go through the ‘lonely’ Ganesha loop and it could be welded back meanwhile my other chain was free for my other lockets!!!
You had already figured it out? Oh! Anyways I got it done today and I am wearing the locket for the first time in 5 years since I bought it. And I intend to wear it for some days!
There is a time for everything and a reason. If one my chains had not broken I probably would have never worn the locket. Another loose end ... tied up!!!
Cheers to providence!

Monday, August 03, 2009

My daughter is now officially a toddler. Though she still crawls once in a while, she has learnt to walk erect which is considered a miracle in the scientific world. Not too many objects with two supports are stable. And it is one of the defining qualities of Homo sapiens in the evolution history. She can understand quite a few things. She knows many objects around the house by its name and understands few verbs as well. Pointing to a combination of things she can define a long action. For example, pointing at her squeaky shoes, our slippers and the door suggests she wants to be taken out to the garden!. She happily complies if you ask for a kiss or a hug and at times when in a benevolent mood, without asking as well! She is still a reluctant talker though. Her vocabulary still primitive phonetics at best.
At each passing day of motherhood, I marvel at creation. The slow unfolding of the journey of a human being from a single cell to an independent being equipped with speech, capable pf expressing himself in so many ways, capable of climbing the highest mountain, creating breathtaking art and the new age marvels... A person who suffers from chronic depression should only see the marvel that is the human body and mind and his self worth will improve several notches. Like somebody said, human life is worth a non stop celebration. Just being born is a blessing.
Meanwhile let me just enjoy my daughter’s baby syllables and shaky steps to independence savoring the last few days of her endearing crawl.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

When you go visiting a new born

That a baby is a fragile vulnerable thing, will be agreed by one and all. And yet we seldom show the respect a baby needs. We often take the little one, whether ours or others, for granted. But because a baby is so sensitive utmost care must be taken to make them comfortable in this world. Remember they have just arrived in this cold outside world from the warm coziness of the womb. They are experiencing cold and hunger, harsh lights and frightening noises for the first time!
Baby etiquettes is what I term them i.e how to behave near a baby. This is a forgotten lesson else we just don’t care.
1) Don’t rush to go see a new born baby in the hospital. The mother or relations, least of all the baby, will not get offended if you don’t go visiting the very day the baby is born. Usually, the process of delivering is a very exhausting process for the mother whether natural or caesarian. The baby keeps her awake in the nights and so a new mother seldom gets any sleep. It gets worse when she is kept awake in the day by visitors. Follow the visiting hours even if the hospital doesn’t enforce it strictly.
2) When you do visit the baby and you wish to hold her or him in your arms, wash your hand. A baby is sensitive and you might be carrying germs from the outside world that the baby is yet to build immunity to. This is a healthy practice mandatory in the west and completely absent in India. Set a good example for other visitors. Insist on washing your hands in front of them.
3) Another very important thing. When you go visiting a new born baby, remember to speak in hushed tones, esp. if the baby is sleeping. I have seen many people come and lecture me on top of their voices insensitive to the sleeping or nursing baby. Many babies react violently showing their displeasure at the high decibel intrusion by bawling aloud. Don’t wait for the baby to do that before hushing up. Some babies are more sensitive to noise than others.
4) Have you ever attended the milk giving ceremony that usually takes place when the baby turns a month old? The baby is initiated to outside food. In the olden days, newborns where given diluted outside milk very early to supplement breast milk. Today’s research shows exclusive breast milk till six months is best for the baby’s (and the mother’s) health. Every ceremony that I was invited to featured throngs of people arriving and insisting to feed the baby with milk unmindful of the discomfort it causes the baby. The ceremonial Indian wick lamp is usually lit and the fan switched off. Added to that is the body heat of the visitors. The place becomes stuffy and uncomfortable for adults. Imagine what a baby must feel like. For our baby we insisted only one of the grandparents give the milk. My baby didn’t cry. Also, the outside milk is not digested by the baby and most babies fall sick after the ceremony. Tradition is good but if it’s not in the best of interests it can be diluted or given away. If your are at one of these ceremonies, resist the urge to feed the baby. The baby and the mother will be grateful.
5) If the baby or the mother is sleeping or feeding, withdraw and defer your visit for another day. It’s not your prerogative to see the baby. My baby was very hard to put to sleep and what was worse, would wake up at the slightest stimulation. Once a couple came to see her when she was not yet four months old and I had just put her to sleep with difficulty. Normally, the practice was to take the baby out. I refused to and insisted they come and see the baby in the crib with the lights remaining off.
6) This is something most people forget. If there’s an elder sibling under the age of four, make sure you get a gift for her or him as well in case you buy something for the baby. The baby won’t mind if you don’t get anything for him but her elder sibling is old enough to feel left out.