Thursday, April 27, 2006

Staying Connected

Staying Connected

It is interesting to note how so many people are unsatisfied and unhappy in their lives despite having taken the “right” steps and “right” decisions in the “right” directions. “Interesting” is probably not the right word to use, but honestly it does inspire an interest in me.

“Something is missing”, a friend informed me the other day. The friend is a “successful” professional and has made considerable material gains in life. Besides, I get calls from time to time – “something is missing”, they all say, 9 out of 10 are “doing well”.

I feel sorry and sad that so many people are caught in a rigmarole and take a lot of stress trying to live upto role expectations. The tendency is always to conform to some dominant principle. Who made these hideously inadequate principles of social, personal and professional conduct? Are not the parameters for being “successful” and “doing well” killing our spirits and making us similar to programmed gadgets? Are we even enjoying the limitless bounties that the Universe has to offer to us? Often, at corporate trainings I have heard managers speaking on motivation modules inspiring the workers to “think out of the box”. I think it is a wonderful way to operate, how about applying the principle to life in general?

There is a definite clash between the heart and the intellect. In an ideal situation, they must complement each other. But the problem arises when the intellect denies the heart and either contradicts or refuses to listen to its rhythm. I am convinced that all of us have the answers within ourselves. We use so little of our power as human beings!

I have decided that I need to go for a recharge.... think it is time to seek some inspiration.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Kamini Banga

I have just finished a large chunk of some work that I had set myself to do and I am feeling glad about it. So after a week, I am feeling psychologically free to make a new post.

Well, in the meantime, I also finished reading a book which is a collection of poems and I so much want to write about it and more so of my feelings about the person who has composed the poems. All the poems in the collection have been written by Kamini Banga. I quote the last poem in the collection on page 97 –

You promised to love me
And look after me.

Promises broken
Bodies punished.

You could have given me
Another chance.

Was this invasion
My second chance?

Thank you,
I promise
To be a good girl, God.

The collection is entitled, “I Promise To Be A Good Girl, God.”

Kamini Banga is someone who has fought and won a battle with cancer which carried on for 10 years. Her immensely moving fight is reflected in these poems which she had been writing during the course of those years. Kamini feels that writing helped her to grieve as well as to heal. It put things in perspective thereby helping her to "realize what must stay" and what she could "leave behind".

What I like about her poems is her simple and very direct style – with each line so well crafted. At any juncture in her therapy, the import of her thoughts and feelings – be it that of defiance or jubilation or distress or despair or surrender or reflection or fear or fight or healing or protest or hope and many a times interspersed with humor – has been brought forth remarkably well in a way that touches the heart.

The other thing that I find wonderful is that the writings, in projecting a vast canvas of emotions suggest a movement as one turns each page and goes to the next. It almost feels like a story – that of a victor. In that, the collection transcends beyond it just being a collection of poetry by a person having survived cancer. I am left with a sense of calm and peace after the reading. It just makes me feel more comfortable with the inevitability of “death” and how useless it is to put any energy that will not add anything positive to the Universe.

I wish Kamini Banga would write more often as she has indicated that she would, in this collection. She looks beautiful with her lovely expressive eyes.

I leave with some notes…

Monday, April 17, 2006

Repetitions Galore

Recently I was at a seminar and one of the speakers there was this young guy speaking on the practice of witch hunting in one of the states in India. No, my post is not about witch hunting today :). Wait a bit! The young researcher was presenting his paper which was well written and researched and all of that but while he spoke, he uttered the word “basically” much too often, say one at the beginning, two in the middle and one more at the end of every sentence...

Well, that is what my post all about. Honestly, I was hunting for his “basically”s more than being able to pursue the content of his presentation. Now, I know that a lot of us repeat certain words and phrases when we speak but I express my grudges here only against those who indulge in public-speaking.

And the only reason that I do it is, that often I find myself having to put in hours and hours of concentration into listening to public speakers. The cells of my brain shriek in revolt but the good girl that I am, I smile and keep a brave face. But now having discovered the power of the blog, I do not hesitate – Repetitions galore! Repetitions (by the speaker), I find can be of two types: one, as I have mentioned above and the second type is repeating ideas, thoughts, viewpoints and factual information that the speaker wants to convey. Such speakers leave you with enough time to doze off and come back in time to catch the next line of thought.

Why must one be under a compulsive habit to repeat when on stage? In the former case I suspect, it is basically (smile) a lack of organization (in deciding the flow and content of the presentation) which manifests into such kinds of compulsive utterances. On the exterior it is interpreted as a lack of sensitivity towards the audience. Among the second type of speakers – the conscientious ones want to make sure that you have not missed the point while the vagrant among them simply love hearing their own voices. For example, one speaker at the same seminar spent at least half an hour explaining to a distinguished veteran group in the audience as to how important the work that they do is. An indisputable fact was harped upon which vexed many, no end.

Also what I find alarming is that most do not take the time limit seriously and where they appear to have any regards for it, be warned, they are only paying lip service. Our young friend mentioned at the beginning of the post, even usurped the role of the chairperson of the session and allotted himself extra minutes with due permission from the audience of course! Wow! Everyone in the audience was like me – good girls! Further, there are some who can be a combo of both types. In that jumble of words doing somersaults in your brain and your face holding back your emotions – you can easily qualify to be one of the most wretched creatures on earth.

Is there anything called the rights of the captive audience... just wondering, if there is, I would like to plead my case under it. Do I qualify as a “captive audience”?

PS: I always like to ensure my place nearest to the door.

This long over due post (nonetheless important to get out from my system) I make, with due regards to all public speakers of this world.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Random Thoughts

Another storey got added to the multi storey building in front of my house today. Little by little the sun is getting hidden behind it and I wonder if my balcony would be as glorious a place to spend the day time in by the next winter season. I saw the huge banyan tree in front of my house get converted to timber to make place for the multi storey. It was an extremely painful thing to see. For a few days I could not look at the tree straight because I was ashamed that I could do nothing to stop the destruction. I see the labors work day and night with cement, mortar, bricks and iron. They live in a slum across the street and in another just besides my house. As I type, I can hear their muffled voices in the field behind – they want to finish answering nature’s calls in the darkness – the flat owners around are annoyed to see them in the daytime. They are all migrant labors – either their land has dried up back home in their villages or they are landless or the market pulls them to this urban squalor.

Not one, there are 20 multi storey apartment blocks being built within a radius of a kilometer. I am concerned – how much of the airplanes will I be able to see in a few months from now...

As you drive up from Delhi to Gurgaon, the landscape is dotted with a large number of clusters of tall buildings. In the night one can tell that the occupancy of these apartment buildings is not much. I was inquisitive, so I asked and I was told that they “do” belong to someone but then that person already has some five apartments in various other places, and when he gets good rent this one would be let out... “Hmm interesting”, I said. Except in reality, I did not find the situation as interesting, it was revolting.

The much touted malls make quite a spectacle with the caked glitter. I mean why do these newspaper supplements go on week after week taking interviews of Gurgaon(ites) about how much the malls mean to them... like they would ask on mother’s day (whenever that is), how much does your mother mean to you... these days they pick young college goers to answer their questions and some lucky ones even get their photos profiled along with their responses. Hmmmmmph, nobody asked me, I have been to the malls thrice (these are "random" thoughts, remember... do not expect symmetry...). All said and done, the supplements don’t interest me anymore :(

Further along, there are these modern buildings scattered here and there, I was helped into understanding that they are “call centers”. Oh now I know I thought to myself where all those daintily clad young women who hop into tata sumos at the dead of the night every(night) finally land up in. Someone who I had met in the passing had told me how she had to learn to speak with an American accent. I had wondered, so it has come to this! She also told me how many young girls and boys have gone part time in college to earn the extra cash. I wonder if they would ever have time to read “To Kill a Mocking Bird” in their lives. I wonder.

Maple Street, Rosewood Towne, Mayfield Garden, Wembley Estate, Beverly Park, Oakwood Estate, Georgian Residency, Olive Apartments...... oh well! These are just a few names of the countless new constructions that have been built in the span of the last 10 years or are in the process of being built. Notice the similarity – everything “Hinglish” and now “Amrican” sells! This takes the cake – the lane behind my house is called Oxford Street... I went to supervise... (I have never been to Oxford by the way)... it was nothing spectacular.

I am not going to do any intellectual theorizing – I am simply not good at it but I know that similar things are happening to many cities in India and elsewhere. And I know it does not make my heart soar. I know that the globalization of this century is slowly burying our souls. I know it is programming our minds with its unique codes, and it has begun by silencing our inner voices...

Anyhow, not entirely. It will never be able to cause a permanent damage. That I have faith in. There is a group I have come across who without making any ado simply believe in the fact that hunger and poverty is not necessary in the world and they follow up their belief by feeding people who have no roof over their heads. They also do it as a means of protest against the unequal distribution of food. They call themselves, “Food not Bombs”. They have a
website, so I won’t write anymore.

Beginning from today we celebrate the regional New Years in India. Pongal is celebrated in the South and South-West India, Baisakhi in the States of Punjab and Haryana and Poila Boishak in Bengal (East). I wish an auspicious beginning to the New Year and much cheer and happiness the entire year through to all my visitors and to my Bong friends – here’s to delicious pulis and pithaes :) :) :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Yellow... 1,2,3

Today no writing, only pictures :). I am most inspired by Meera and her gorgeous yellow flower… I am also inspired by the remembrances of spring that just went by… I am inspired by the color yellow, it is the color that symbolizes “awakening”. My talented friend L keeps me on a feed of lovely photos each time I complain that I am bored. Yesterday was her birthday, I am going to dig into my archives and... here are two of her lovely flowery pics. And this page I dedicate to L. And thank you Meera for the inspiration!

"Yellow Tree"

"Yellow Beauty"

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Protests in the Air - II

The great news as you may already know is that the problematic Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin has finally resigned following the mass protests that carried on for over 6 months and intensified in the last three weeks. In a last ditch attempt to save his position, Thaksin had called for snap polls on the 2nd of this month. The polls were boycotted by the opposition while a large number of people cast blank votes! After consultations with the King, Thaksin gave his resignation on the 4th, thus ending the political drama and his own regime. He had taken democracy for a ride.

The manner in which the people carried out the protests is exemplary – peaceful and purposeful. Constantly guided by their leaders from the civil society itself, they never turned violent, thus writing off all opinions from the skeptics that letting the people to exert their power can turn the situation into an anarchic one!!

The citizens of Thailand must be feeling really proud of themselves, for, their patience and perseverance has paid off, this must give them a lovely feeling of well being!

Long live people power! Isn’t power that is used to deconstruct something only to reconstruct it back such that it serves the larger interests of the society called empowerment…

Something else, similar in spirit is happening in another part of the world. My dear friend C is very enthusiastic about it and I share the enthusiasm wholeheartedly. Recently, an immigration bill was presented in the US Senate which when enforced was to “criminalize illegal aliens and those who aid them”. The United States is home to around 33 million people of *Hispanic origin. Hence, this is a very big jolt for a large section of the population. Hundreds of thousands of people have been protesting against this immigration legislation nationally, since sometime now. The protests have been hugely successful and tomorrow, the 10th of April, in a historical turn, 1 million people from the Hispanic/Latino communities as well as people who are against the bill in general will unite to participate in a mega march in 65 cities across the US.

Further more, on the first of May, a call has been given to participate in “A Day Without Latinos” where no person of Hispanic origin will engage in any social or economic activity. Even children will not go to school.

A nation of Hispanics to unite on single day.

More power to the people!

*Hispanic: Persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin.

In what I gather from my aunt SGB and the Time magazine, a series of protests are taking place all over France. In the last few weeks, 3 million students and other unemployed people demonstrated all over France demanding from the Government to roll back the law that it was about to implement which would authorize the employers to fix the probation period at 2 years (for young candidates on their first job) within which they may fire the employee, when they want, without having to show cause. SGB writes, “It does translate the anxiety of the youth facing the perspective of globalised economy, which needs its ‘slaves’ and which would make them exist by virtue of the job (chakri, as it was termed by the Bengalis desiring to serve the English in the early period of the colonial rule) and the money it would bring; the system would finally make them crave for that kind of slavery.”

I wish that these young people are successful in paving the way for alternatives.

Protests in Delhi
Braving the hot weather, many people have been demonstrating for over three weeks now in Delhi to protest the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from being raised. The dam will affect the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The protestors argue that the increase in the height will displace around 35,000 families and destroy their habitat and means of livelihood. This is also in light of the fact that the people who have been similarly affected by the displacement at the present height of the dam have still not been rehabilitated.

What are our politicians doing?!! Seems they are playing their usual game of vote bank politics (the Governments at the State and Centre are not the same in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh) or they only care for the mega bucks that naturally follow huge development projects and not the lives of the common citizens. Such a disghusting situation!!

An online petition is being signed by the crusaders of just development all over the world, if you are one to uphold the cause, then do take a few minutes to
read and sign it. It does not matter if you are not Indian or do not live in India.

I am sure other protests are also happening in other parts of the world. Please feel free to contribute if you know of any.
Ta ta friends, will come back soon.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Nope, this isn’t a spelling mistake. I indeed meant Limewire. This is what keeps me from making posts on my blog sooner... psssstttt (at different points of time I have different scapegoats:)

Well, Limewire is all about music. About music download to be precise. It is a wonderful music download software. What I like about Limewire and I want to share my feelings is that it works on the system of music exchange or sharing between the hundreds of users logged on to it at any given point of time. If I wish to share my MP3s, all I got to do is store them in a particular “shared” folder on the D drive. When I am logged in, my resources can be drawn by other users as I can draw from theirs.

It has a great search engine, so different kinds of music is searchable by the title song, singer, genre and the album. Videos can be searched by the same procedure. Download is pleasantly fast.

Hmmmm, viruses? Well, I have been using it for a while and my machine is quite healthy.

Limewire is a serious music download site. Here you go - The software needs to be downloaded from this link and installed first.

I still have'nt been able to figure out how to load MPs on my blog from my machine :( But yes I managed to spruce it up with some music from the net. Here’s Eric Clapton’s, “Tears in Heaven”....

Enjoy browsing as you listen to the music…. oops are your speakers on....

Just a random photo ---

Computer graphics or real?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Buskers and Busking

A friend recently told me that he is a part-time “busker”.

“Busker”, I said, “what is that?”

It is an interesting concept and I followed up with some research on the internet.
The dictionary says it is a noun that describes “a person who entertains people for money in public places (as by singing or dancing)”. In another site it is mentioned that the origins of the word is from the Middle Spanish word, “buskar” meaning to “seek or to wander”. Knowing my friend, it is this latter description that fits perfectly!

So basically buskers are street side performers – they may be singing, dancing, acting, painting, sculpting, basically entertaining people passing by or a particular community of people for any particular reason like I have heard of people singing besides the camps of the people affected by the Tsunami to bring some measure of cheer into their lives. Singing and listening to good music has a therapeutic effect, we all know that.

But what surprised me was that busking in some societies is “illegal”. Many big cities in the world have banned it. Can such spontaneous expressions of creativity become a law and order problem, I wonder? No wonder we don’t see buskers around.

Coming to think about it now, here in North India at least we often encounter children and adult men in public transport systems who break into songs, often religious ones or who perform some small craft like jugglery and then pass around a vessel to collect money. They are often from lower economic backgrounds. I wonder if this can be called busking as well?

I also found out that busking is an “ancient” way of living. It has quite a history. Anybody interested in the history can check out
here. The writer of this site says something that I thought I must quote, “So the next time you see street performers, carrying on the great and ancient occupation of busking, remember the history they carry, and the risk involved, and remember to toss a buck or two their way.”

Well, my friend and his troupe :) are great fans of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, the legendary singers and songwriters who have been buskers themselves. They sing and play the guitar on the streets of Kula Lumpur and entertain people with classic pieces like “Like a Rolling Stone”, “Forever Young”, “Helpless”, “Heart of Gold” etc. etc.

I have been trying to see if I could upload the mp3 of “Forever Young” and “Heart of Gold” here. The lyrics are beautiful. I came across something called the audioblogger that took me to some unknown territory but without really providing a solution. So I give up (for now). In any case if that does not work, I have come across this wonderful music download software and I will share about it soon.

Anyway the lyrics for now –

Forever Young
May god bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stayyyyy forever young
Forever young forever young
May you stay forever young

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth and see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young forever young
May you stay forever young

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation when the winds of change shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young forever young
May you stay forever young

Heart of Gold
I want to live,
I want to give
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.
It’s these expressions I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old.
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old.

I’ve been to hollywood
I’ve been to redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I’ve been in my mind, it’s such a fine line
That keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old.

Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old.
Keep me searching for a heart of gold
You keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old.
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.