Feel. Think. Express.
Monday, October 31, 2005
Compare this to tomorrow's big event 'Diwali' and you have an interesting study in contrast.
From philosophy, we move to real world events - kudos to Mahendra Singh Dhoni for a truly memorable knock during the 3rd ODI at Nagpur... maybe we should start drinking a litre of milk a day to emulate his performance against the Lankans. Way to go Dhoni!
CAUTION: If you are disturbed by human death and suffering, i wouldn't recommend that you view the following.
One Life At A Time - Photographs by James Nactway
A Diary of Healing - Mary Ann Nilan copes with Breast Cancer
Saturday, October 29, 2005
I didn't really need to buy anything, but decided on replenishing my stocks anyway. I walked over to the seafood section. There wasn't anybody attending to customers when i stuck my head over the display of frozen shrimp. I really wasn't in a hurry and took my time deciding whether to buy any or not. One kind of frozen shrimp looks just like another - how do i figure out which one is fresher or any better than the other? There were salt water, fresh water and farm grown shrimp from thailand; each one of a different size. I decided to get the American shrimp - they were larger and had a gray hue.
While i was mulling over all this, an elderly gent walked behind the counter and apologized for not being there. I said it was okay and added something crazy, "That is fine, i was looking at the prawns anyway." I told him what i had decided on and asked for a pound (if you are ever buying unshelled shrimp, a pound is just enough for a single person - unless you have a recipe that calls for the shell too!). As he handed me the packet of shrimp he said, "Our competitor is charging only 3.99 a pound while our price is much higher. Just tell them that at the cash counter and they will match the price." I looked at him for a brief moment, muttered an awkward "thank you" and proceeded to walk away. He added with a smile, "You didn't hear that from me."
It is early in the morning and the temperature outside is around 45 F. I am tempted to go back to sleep. I am never awake this early. I had to drop off a friend at 5; that is why i have time to blog right now. My sleeping bag has never looked so inviting. Too late to back out now. I usually run with my roommate, who too has signed up for this. He is away for the weekend and there isn't anybody to drag me out of the door.
well... got to hit the road. hrmph!
Friday, October 28, 2005
Time to plant a few more trees instead of a few more bombs!
Rains in Chennai
Thursday, October 27, 2005
~ to balance the yang of badmash (and for yours truly to regain some credibility).
- ACCORDION, n.
- An instrument in harmony with the sentiments of an assassin.
By the time Ramki could take all this in, it was too late for him to head back to his friend's place again - there was a curfew in effect. If you ask, how long could it possibly take, consider this. Ramki on an average takes 3.45 minutes to decide on a can of milk and 2 minutes to pick out a loaf of bread. The both of us spent half an hour in publix buying tomatoes, green chillies and a bottle of port wine. We were walking up and down publix like the bunch of dodos in 'ice age'.
Hope he does ok. On a side note - Publix, the one next to Ramki's house, makes excellent Guava pastry and Colache. What is priceless is Ramki's spanish -he inists on talking to ladies at the snack bar and the counters in spanish. He tried teaching me some "mamasita" and it came out like "mama.....sita", two separate words; the first one being uncle in tamil and the second one being the better half of one of lord Vishnu's earthly incarnations.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
I actually blurted out something in class now - i usually keep my trap shut. I was typing here and the professor was posing a question to the class. I blurted out something, unbeknownst even to myself! The professor asked me to speak up and i repeated what i said. It was the right thing. phew! he must think i am typing notes furiously :-)
I went back to typing this entry - and the professor is nodding in silent approval. I hope he doesn't surf blogs.
The day has been nice so far. Can't wait to get out of this class and go home. The professor is talking about some 'Warren Buffet'. Looked him up online; supposedly the second richest man in the world.
will get back to trying to pay attention!
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
Choosing one's own way; attitude; perspective; freeing your mind; i find them in almost every book i read. Amit was talking about a Deepak Chopra book that he was reading that meandered around the concept - but he wasn't impressed. I guess Frankl's book should be a better read (check out the link under 'people') - eventhough i have yet to read his work i am impressed by his resilience - for a man to spend 3 years in a concentration camp, loose his wife and still go on.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
"Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you. Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight... when we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another."
- Helen Keller (1880 - 1968)
Like so many other aspects of life, i see it, but choose to do nothing; pretend it doesn't exist and then going about trying to create 'meaning' in a life that lacks substance. why? Fear? of what?
Friday, October 21, 2005
"Among virtues, freedom from attachment is best."
- Dhamma Pada, 20th chapter, first verse.
"If one could follow it to its psychological roots, one would, I believe, find that the main motive for "non-attachment" is a desire to escape from the pain of living, and above all from love, which, sexual or non-sexual, is hard work."
- George Orwell
If i took the two arguments without considering where they came from, they represent a contradiction. If i did consider their contexts, i cannot find a common truth embedded in them.
Here it goes. It is of a general belief that religious tradition in Asia tried to give hope to people who knew nothing but poverty and suffering. Hence most eastern philosophy stresses on renunciation and ways to escape the 'illusion' that life is. The 'fact' that all the suffering people went through was only 'illusion' gave people hope. Their new quest was not seeking joy in this world but in the next. Their salvation would be freedom from rebirth; something that had to be avoided at all cost.
Most Abrahamic religions(Judaism, Christiniaty and Islam to name a few) seem to deal with compassion and codes of conduct. They seem to address problems on a social level and are far less esoteric when compared to budhism.
If i did not make this geographic distinction, i have then, two different schools of thought saying exactly the opposite things about the issue. Does it then become an issue of personal choice; to what school you choose to adhere to? In that case, is there nothing that is absolute?
For the moment, i think the following should suffice :-)
"... How sweet, how passing sweet is solitude!
But grant me still a friend in my retreat,
Whom I may whisper, Solitude is sweet."
“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting--a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Ugly. Is irrelevant. It is an immeasurable insult to a woman, and then supposedly the worst crime you can commit as a woman. But ugly, as beautiful, is an illusion.”
- Margaret Cho
For a long time i tried to believe that beauty was indeed an illusion. It was probably an attempt by my psyche to reconcile itself with all the beautiful women it chanced to gaze upon. But is not youth, in any form, beautiful? But there are a lot of pithy sayings that remind you that the beauty of youth is just that, something that belongs to the transitory phase of being young. Taking it one step ahead, the next thing you will hear is that we are all dying from the moment we are born.
This is indeed a very pessimistic view of life. We have only one and it is too precious to spend it rejecting all that it has to offer. Does something that is impermanent not worthy of being called beautiful? If so, nothing in the world is beautiful. Both you and I know that is not true. I do not talk only of the human form here, but everything that you have ever experienced that made you feel more alive - an orange sunset, trying to get a hold of a 100 pound dog that thinks it is still a pup, your favorite bit of music - these are not illusions.
Philosophy goes so far as to say that the world is 'maya', an illusion; because it is impermanent. I do not know why there is a fixation on permanence. Nothing is. Why should something last forever? Every flower withers and dies. Every building ever built will return to dust. So will we. Everything that we feel will be lost in time. Aren't we all part of an on going process? Isn't life a string of such moments woven together?
Zen doesn't think so. It believes in centering yourself, to a more permanent part of your conciousness. Having no experience with this, i won't be too hasty in rejecting it.
Do we reject beauty because we reject change? It is a common human condition. We don't like to grow out of the comfortable niches we have carved for ourselves ( i am the poster child for seeking comfortable corners). If we accept beauty we must then accept change and flow too. Maybe that is too scary? Probably this is why 50 year old women get botox shots and use half a pound of foundation on their face?
The male archetype is supposed to prefer permanance while the female archetype flows and changes. I say archetype because all of us supposedly have both, in different or the same proportion. Much of human philosophy is male oriented. I am not familiar with feminist literature but feminism in general tried to supress the female archetype so that the woman may compete / supersede the man in man's world. There is a focus today on changing the world and not the woman. Maybe philosophy that arises from a female archetypal thought would throw more light on the issue?
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Even the blossoms that are destined to fall tomorrow
Are blooming now in their life's glory."
- Takeko Kujo
Many people i know do not like to talk about it. Especially from an Indian perspective, death is not something that you talk about. I will not debate the issue of what happens after death. It is a realm that we cannot see and whatever your belief, it is personal and not up for discussion.
It has been almost two years since my grandfather passed away. He was my mother's dad. He was a doctor. When i was young i used to go with him to the clinic and sit outside his door as he took care of his patients. Half way through, we would stroll out for a break. The clinic was located right in the middle of usman road, T.Nagar ( think of mardi gras with clothes on - in terms of number people, nothing kinky). The both of us would have a Duke's lemonade and something to bite on and then he would buy me anything that i wanted and we would head back to clinic to wrap things up.
My father's job called for us to hop from one place to next and we had to leave Madras. I spent most of my summer holidays at my grandparents in Madras. I used to spend my afternoons chatting with him. A particularly animated discussion on the difference between hydrocele and haematocele is something that i will never forget. I think it was something to do with the fact that he was a doctor. He could discuss sex and its accoutrements in an instructively plain manner; something many cannot do.
Before i left the country, he visited us in Madras (by this time, he had moved to Salem and we to Madras). We had a lot of fun together. I was all grown up and we were having a nice time with bad language and a lot of innuendo. My mother was furious with me but my grandfather told her to let it go this time as he was having the best time he had had in years. He said he felt he was feeling much younger. I am sure he was holding out on me, but i had to believe him.
The next time i saw him, he was clinically dead. A stroke had put him into a coma and a ventillator was pumping air into him like he was a tire tube with a puncture. I couldn't gather enough courage to even touch him. I always felt that the person lying before me would somehow wake up and say 'hi' if i touched them; as if they were only sleeping. This scared me and still does. My grandfather passed away a couple of days later.
Probably the only thing i felt was shame. Strangely no sense of loss. My mother's side of the family is very strong. Even so, my grandmother was shaken to her core, but held herself together. My mother would break down at times, momentarily but would pull herself together. I couldn't even touch him! It kept going back and forth in my head. I was born prematurely and was no longer than four to five inches long and covered with wrinkled skin. According to my mother, my grandfather was instrumental in making sure that i made it. And now, i couldn't even hold his hand.
I am not haunted by it. I am only trying to understand why i acted the way i did. Was it because i felt than my grandfather was no longer alive? What then is being alive? Life has to be something more; Is death nothing more than wiping a hard disk and tossing the hardware out for recycling?
Why do we mourn death so? I wonder if it is because of the sense of loss we feel in the world that we have lost someone we loved or that it shatters the illusion of stability that we create for ourselves. Read somewhere long ago that the only thing we know for certain from the day were are born is that we will die; we know not when or how but we know we surely will. To live with this thought in your mind; really consider it everday allows you to value the time you have been given. This doesn't work with me. Apparently, it does wonders for Steve Jobs.
Monday, October 03, 2005
See Vikram - this is what happens when pigeon shits on your thoughts. BTW who else are members ?
Opinion - I know that blogs are meant to be personal voice boards and anyone can say whatever they want (hyperlink: US first amendment - before which everybody got smacked for saying anything a-la Ganguly Chapell episode or like when I say something about my in-laws).
But this first post by Rita's X boyfriend, kinda made me feel that some pigeon headed guy wanted others to feel crappy or possibly experience what 1 year old kid feels when they drip their cerelac all over their face and shirts.
BTW Vik - congrats on decoding my opening salvo :D
Sunday, October 02, 2005
-The Satanic Verses
will discuss this further later; will let if grow on you a bit for a while.
The sound that is usually heard when a soft body is squashed/falls against a hard surface resulting in possible loss of physical integrity.
"splachack fell the bird droppings. Ramu looked at his blue shirt, that now looked like the turbulent sea; all thanks to the few hundred pigeons flying overhead."