"Break, Break, Break....."

31 December 2008

This is one of Tennyson's best & my fav:

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.
O, well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!
And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;

But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.


How Much?

26 December 2008

How much? Kitne ka? WHAT! Are there diamonds in there?
This cacophony of shrill and crass voices brought my attention to the source of the sou
nd. I turned around to see two youngish women, identically dressed in jeans so tight I wondered how in the world they'd got 'em on, streaked hair, make-up & what have you. (Ah! No, I have nothing against the D&G bags...and the rest of it either)They stood there, pouting. I turned back to look at the artisan who looked at them with the kinda benign patience only a poor man can have.(Oh, by the way, I was in a tribal art & craft fest)If you were to look at this potter's wares, created outta mud, wrought in fire and sweat, you'd feel the same way I did: horrified at the words of the women. What he'd created in a remote village of Maharashtra was mind-boggling. Creativity, beauty, art at its ethnic best! What these women found "expensive" was a foot scrub, a curved fish shaped as if it were in the last throes of death. Rs 50. That's all. The younger of the two then looked at other stuff, found it ridiculous and moved on to the next stall. The potter and I exchanged looks. It was an odd moment. I plopped down next to him. He sighed and said nothing. I let him be silent. After a bit, I asked him about his work. This chap comes all the way from a tiny hamlet in a Godforsakenplace, travels for 2 days in a general compartment of a messy train, all the while wondering if his goods will reach Delhi intact or not, pays a huge amount of money to be in a place like Dilli Haat and is not even entitled to earn a few pennies as profit? His hands are magical...they create such beautiful shapes outta the shapeless mass! He even has fridge magnets moulded into exaggerated heads of animals, people...even tiny V-shaped chappals! All these are glazed and in different colours typical of India. He's also got miniscule cups and saucers, threaded to be hung on a kitchen door...I mean his goods are so NOT run-of-the-mill. But then, how can a woman who lacks imagination, wears what the others wear, carries bags that are supposedly carried by the elite(shucks! people are so dying to be 'like' somebody!)and probably buys stuff only from the malls, ever know what it is like to appreciate the smaller things of life? She is running after the west so blindly that she has no time to "stand and stare" (Wordsworth said that?) at the beauty that is there in the 'unbranded' things of life.
Hmm...I looked at this potter's dark face, white teeth, silver hair, knotted fingers, bare feet,, bent back...and his life kinda flashed before my eyes. I felt deeply touched.
As the old man sipped tea, a gaggle of giggly teenagers passed us, tarried for a bit, and moved on, exclaiming...eee...didya see that or what!
It was time to move on. My bags and I found our way back to a small bench, where I sat down and wondered...I don't know what this woman must have bought( I have serious doubts if she managed to buy anything at all...she wouldn't have liked to buy a banana-skin bag, a coconuthusk tray or mugs made out of lavastone) but I do know this: with all the education and the frills, if one cannot appreciate the unpretentious things of life, it can't be called life...it's merely a semblance of it...and one, then, is not living, one is hurrying on to finish up life.


A little note on Jack...

24 December 2008

Someone close-by made a comment about someone: such a jack of all trades and master of none!
Hmm…and what, may I ask, is wrong in that? We all can’t be the Da Vincis, Diors or who’s-who of the world. So, for us common mortals, is it really wrong to be jack of all trades? Not really, I think. In fact, I think Jacks are at a better advantage given their sheer expanse of experience in multiple areas. Now, imagine, can a master architect, in really severe times, do clothes, dabble in paint or fix a doorbell/leaking faucet? You get the basic drift. Now, our Jack has tried his hand at banking, electronics, cooking, sculpture…a little bit of it all. Maybe he ain’t the best, but his is a better perspective. He understands more. Appreciates more. He is wiser. His is not the judgment of the frenzied one-sided, blinkered old horse. When he gives opinions, they are more the valuable for their rounded angle. His life is more varied, he has more opportunities. In times of need, he is the one person who can multi-task coz he’s been-there-done-that...no tiny thing, he. Imperfect, yes; out-of-work, never. Now, this is not to deny a master his due. This is just in favour of the Jacks who feel it ain’t good till you’re a CEO of the blah-de-blah.
Times are a-changing. No longer is there a need to feel ashamed, Jack if you ain’t somebody. You can always make yourself useful. Remember Mr. Ashley who couldn’t do anything other than be a soldier in
Gone With the Wind? I’m afraid, I’m not much good at anything, Scarlett. Sigh! Whatever you may be, Jack, you sure ain’t a loser. You can always paint or teach.
Or, maybe, write a blog? :)


Of Gentle Reminders...

16 December 2008

A couple of days ago, I went to a remote region in Haryana with a friend who wanted to buy an agricultural tract of land. After several twisty roads (if you may so call ‘em) we reached a place where two roads met. Obviously we took the more travelled one. Once in the village, we met up with the village head of land affairs. In case you're worried, this write-up is not about benefits of agriculture, la “krishidarshan” on Doordarshan.
Well, hesitatingly at first, we had to hop on to the local vehicle available (read: bullock cart) coz the car from the city would not be able to bear the harshness of the rough & severe path that’d lead to the site or what everyone in the village called a “ploat” (plot). Several meandering, dusty, umm…in-ways…(dunno what else to call a no-road kinda road)later, suddenly came upon one of the most arresting and pleasant sites I’ve seen in a long time: a vassssstttt undulating area filled with sarson…bright & green & yellow, swaying in the wind. A real feast to the starved eyes. While X (let’s call my friend that, for the sake of simplicity) conversed and discussed and discussed some more with the main farmer, all I could think of was…nothing. My mind did not, could not, race or flit from one topic to a disconnected another. Suddenly, X & the other chap stopped talking. The silence in the fields became positively overwhelming. All I could hear was the musical interplay of the delicate sarson, rising and falling; see the entire area change hue as the yellow heads ducked and the green became more prominent. It was magical. It was picture perfect.
I was being asked for my opinion. Oops…err, yes, X, it’d be perfect. Eh? An acre? Buy the whole area! Yes, I am sure…BUY! What more could you want? This place was perfect…build a little cottage and surround yourself in this sight, this smell, this sound of silence. Your concrete jungle will never take you to this...this... heightened sense of well-being, tranquillity and harmony.
Once back to the “oppice” (office), we were offered a most delicious cuppa masala tea and a box of sweetmeats. Whoa…why sweets? We hadn’t struck a deal yet, not even spoken about it. My antennae were up, trust factor plummeting to zero. What was he trying to get at? As if sensing my discomfort, the man offered, “We can’t let you go empty-handed.” His bronzed face, missing teeth and humble voice left me feeling that somewhere, I’d become a victim of the cruel, calculating, modern times that have repeatedly taught us to never trust anyone.
I was humbled.
I’m back to the concrete jungle. Surprisingly, each time I am weary and tired, in vacant or in pensive mood the dancing fields
flash upon that inward eye;
Then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils…

It is a totally underdeveloped, unsophisticated little hamlet that provides me with comfort when my “modern,” urban, fast life sets my being in a tizzy. Ironic or what.


Sis, Perspective & Me...

05 December 2008

My sister just left for the States. I'd known for more than 5 months that she'd leave around the last quarter. Yet, when the moment actually came, it hit me hard. You see, I'm the sort of person who can distance herself emotionally. Sometimes it is a hard, conscious effort, sometimes self-suggestion, at times escapism, and many a time logic. Therefore, outta-sight-outta-mind. I thought I'd apply one of my usual techniques this time, too. My sis stayed for 3 days, we had a blast, trying to enjoy every single moment before she'd leave with her husband for a good 4 years. We chatted, gossiped, visited people, and yakked some more till our bodies revolted. Hmm... why wasn't I happy? All through her packing, (which is an on-the-face sign of "leaving," I wasn't affected.) I mean, I'd decided to be happy. Half the time, we think of ourselves, how we are going to feel and base our judgment or opinion on that. Ergo, since I was not going to have a skewed perception, since I was going to be logical and reasonable, I was glad she was going. Oh, another thing you ought to know about me...I've never been a conventionally good elder sister. I know I've missed playing with her when we were kids/teenagers, missed being close to her because of a most crazy, psychologically stupid ...imbalance of mind. This is how I can best describe myself as far as my relationship with kid sis is concerned. It's only lately I've realised how important she is in my life, my thoughts, my emotions...& I so hate myself for being mean and outrageously cruel to her...for spoiling the best years of my life being idiotically distant from her.

And now, she's gone.

On our way back from the airport, mom had tears, dad was talking a little too much & I listened to a Jethro Tull number...or was it Jones? Perspective. Angle. Logic. No emotions. She's happy, I'm happy. Period.

Why am I wearing the oversize slippers she left behind, using the purse she couldn't carry? Why haven't I as much as glanced at her room? Why couldn't I sleep? And why was I silent at work? Why can't I stop my tears each time I think of her? Why am I writing this?

Perspective be damned. I as hell can't help missing her. She means more to me than I'd realised, more than anyone else ever can. And, yes, I am happy for her. It's just that I am totally miserable without her physical presence, her silly smile, her one-liners, her comments, her jokes...This time, I am not going to get rid of my emotions. I am going to allow myself to feel. After all, she's my sister.

And I love her.



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