Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Waking up to Vande Mataram

This August 15th was different.  We had Virasat going on by Spic Macay.  And it was a full night event.  Right at the stroke of midnight, Shri D. Balakrishna on the Veena, wished us on our independence day and played Vande Mataram.  It was a moment of sheer joy and happiness.  Of feeling part, of pride in our country, of feeling one with her people.  We just stood up automatically, all of us in the auditorium.  

It was a moment when we, all strangers were bound, by a common string - of being children of the same mother, of being part of a country with a great heritage.  Of being blessed to be born in a free country, of having great forefathers who fought for our independence against a superpower of that time.  It was a time when we pledged ourselves again to our motherland.  It was a time when we were one.

Cricket Vs Food Portfolio

This is with reference to the news "Free distribution of foodgrain an order, not suggestion: SC tells Sharad Pawar".  

It took just overnight for the minister, as ICC head, to declare that the matches played by tainted cricketers will continue.  But handling the portfolio of agriculture, the same minister doesn't care to move even his little finger over the food grains rotting in the FCI godowns.   This, even after the supreme court ordered it to distribute the foodgrains instead of letting them to rot(he thought it was a suggestion which he need not care about). 

This is typical of the political and wealthy class in India(not all of them) who prefer to throw food away than let it be passed on to the less privileged.  The problem with India and Indians is not that we don't have enough to feed ourselves.  It is that we are selfish and just don't care.  

The rulers of the country don't care about its people.  All they care about is a silly game and now, an even costlier sports affair where we erstwhile colonies try to maintain our history and link to our colonial rulers...... and all this benefits no one else but the rich.  It doesn't disturb their conscience at all.    The poor who work there don't get full wages and live in unhygienic conditions.

This minister is more concerned about cricket and its welfare and how it adds to his status than about poor people.  So why does he continue to be minister - how else will he have access to power.  The only job in the country where people decide what they should pay themselves for doing nothing, for a job requiring no accountability  is the political class in India today.  They go around telling private company CEO's about the hefty sums's they receive as salary and don't do anything about it at their own homes.  Austerity drive is for photoshoots with the media.  

India..... she must be cringing inside at what her children are doing to one another..... her blood must be boiling at her produce being wasted when her children wither for want of food....... she must be wondering how she could have such children at all.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Sitting here within the four walls
The window showing the world outside
Where butterflies flutter
Birds fly, squirrels chatter
I feel myself caged
Forever and ever.

Day in and out
This has been the way
To sit here facing the wall
Closeted in this atmosphere
I feel myself tied
To this seat forever.

Waiting for the day
When I can spread my wings
And fly far and up
Filling my lungs
With fresh air and new smells
Never to return.

When will that day come
Or is only a mirage
Of moving to another cage
One wonders aloud
Seeing the distance
Reality mired in myth.

Difficult decisions

Everyone comes across a point in life where you are standing on crossroads and wondering what decision to take.  There have been a few such decisions, most of them I regret to this day, for I took the wrong road.  Yes, the wrong road taught me a few lessons too.  But still, when I look back, I regret my decision, my idealism in doing certain things.

Today again is a tough day, when I have to take a decision and decide what comes top on my priority list.  I have picked my choice and am clear on it.  But then, when you make such tough decisions you always are left feeling strange.  You are in a state of nowhereness, if you understand what I mean.  You wonder if you are right, whether you could have tried the other way a little bit and turned back if it didn't work out.  There are so many if's.  And you hope that life gives you opportunities again.  Well, again, there is a saying asking you to grasp an opportunity when it comes.  But grasp you cannot many a time, can you.  Only yesterday, my student was telling me about a wrong decision he made which he says is wrong in hindsight.  He deeply regrets his decision and wishes he had taken the other road for today he sees, that the other road would have given him more happiness and success.  But then, all this is in hindsight and many a time we are given such a short time to take those decisions. 

:) Turning philosophical I know.  It is especially at such times, that you remember you past decisions, and the wrong one, hurt and trouble you more.  The victory is in taking your decision and coming out strong I guess.  For what is life without risks and what is life worth if you get the wrong priorities on top.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I am 'Music Deaf'

I love music.  But then, I find nowadays more than before that there are limits to my listening time.  Today, I was sitting in my friend's room and she was listening to the saxophone.  It was played well ofcourse by a known person, Kadri Gopalnath.  But, somehow, I couldn't appreciate the music.  It sounded more like noise than anything else.  I found myself wondering what was wrong, because it was a different experience.  It was like noise reflecting off a wall.  That's exactly it.  Today, I understood the meaning of the phrase.  I just didn't want it to go into my ear.

Maybe it was the mood.  I was in the mood for research and maybe quiet was what I wanted.  But then, we were all talking over dinner.  So, it was not totally quiet too.  Today I realized that I could be music deaf - deaf to certain kind of music maybe(like I am with heavy metal, when I run away, far away).  And it was a strange experience.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

People are nuts

Telling another girl she looks good in some dress, or her hairstyle suits her was so easy earlier.  Nowadays, you get strange reactions that I think twice before I tell it.  I am surprised how something complementary is taken the other way around.  Sometimes people think I am sarcastic.  Please, I don't need to be complementary to be sarcastic( I am bad at being sarcastic, rather, I am good at being blunt). 

Telling a boy, even if much younger, that he looks good or his hairstyle suits him or anything is to get seriously into trouble.  As a teacher, for me students of both the sex are the same.  Just like I would complement a girl, I used to complement boys too.  But, when I continued that after I became a student again, it got me in serious trouble.  There were all sorts of expressions - wide eyed, wondering, non-understanding to say the least.  

Should I say it is my mistake ?  With my students, our roles are defined I guess.  Me the teacher, and them the student.  Gives me the liberty to complement and it will be taken in the right way as long as I don't go overboard, I guess.  But otherwise, just a 'Good Morning' at a nice face in the morning gets you into trouble,  for here, me as a girl better not look at a guy.  I am solely defined by this garb, this dress I wear, of a woman.   Even if they are 15 years your junior, it's trouble.  For me, I am what I am.  I like something and I tell it openly, without anything more.  And that is it.  I forget it after that.  

What's happening with this generation ?  Why is a little curtesy like a 'Thank You' with a smile at a door or a threshold crossing seen differently, with astonishment and smirks that too in an educational institution.  Is being polite so out of fashion ?  Or is it that I am expected to be stern faced all the time, as though I could kill someone with my looks.  That would be so difficult.  Think of passing life concentrating on keeping a stern face most of the time.  But, here I am learning to be that nowadays.  So sad, this world doesn't care to smile.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Night of Music by SPIC MACAY

This time SPIC Macay's Virasat series had a night event.  The event started with carnatic vocal by Shri T.V Shankarnarayanan. at 8:30 p.m. His enthusiasm for music was something nice to see as was his singing.  This was followed by Veena recital by Shr D. Balakrishna.  The veena was something I have not heard for a long time.  Bang at 12 midnight he played for us the Vande Mataram and this Independence year was ushered in all goodness.   The Mohan Veena recital by Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt starting at 1:30 a.m. was energetic.  The instrument looks like a cross between a guitar, a sarod and a veena to me.  But it was pleasant music.  His enthusiasm was to be seen.  There at 3:00 a.m. in the morning was someone so fresh and so much alive playing his instrument.  The night continued with Drupad by Shri Uday Bhawalkar and Hindustani Vocal by Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan, both of which I had to miss sadly due to migrane.  Wished the chairs were a little more comfortable so that I could have slept off listening to music(thankfully, I do not snore, atleast as yet).  It would have been better than sleeping in the hostel.  Then, waking up at 5:30 to music would have been the best. 

However, the evening was a different experience - an evening of music, of seeing accomplished, talented artist, some past their prime, but still young as 18.  Their energy, enthusiasm and passion for their art was something that stood out.

Passion - that is what I don't have and they have.  I haven't still found something I am passionate about.  I love a lot of things - I like listening to music, like my research, like Software Engineering but passion I still have not found anything for.  Which is sad, for as I tell Arun always, he is gifted.  He is passionate about Badminton(he watches even the junior matches at the national level - anything where there is a badminton racket and a shuttle) and Artificial Intelligence(he can talk AI through midnight).  I still haven't found something I am so passionate about.  Still searching.

To many more evenings like this, hoping SPIC Macay continues this tradition.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pandavani - a performing art

Pandavani is a performing art form from Chattisgarh.  Tales from the Mahabharata are enacted with musical accompaniments.  Having seen the art form on TV, I was excited to see it performed by a master artist for the first time live.

Teejan Bai was a revelation with her strong voice and personality.  Her confidence and the way she related the story was entralling.  I got pulled into the story of Karna and Arjuna in the war at Kurukshetra.  My hair stood up when she related how Karna and Arjuna were equals in the art of warfare.  How Lord Krishna had to dig the chariot into earth to save Arjuna from Karna's arrow once and how Arjuna's arrow got Karna's chariot stuck.  At the end, I had tears when she related how Karna, the Dhanaveer(King among Givers) was killed in the war.  She spoke about Lord Krishna's words, explaining to Arjuna his role in the war.

It was an evening where I understood the strength of the Indian performing arts.  Those days are fast dying when people in the villages used to go to such strong performances by people who could capture an entire generations imagination.  Today, cinema and TV have taken over and we are fast loosing such art forms to the disco world. 

Another striking factor was her struggle to survive.  Her life was not easy as she rode into a male bastion.  Pandavani had only male performers till she arrived and she took the male bastion by storm.  She is truly a gifted person.
The photo above shows the rings she wears which stood out during her performance.  They look lovely, don't they.

* The photos in this blog are taken from google

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Magic with the flute by Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia

Listening to Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia was a gift.  He plays the flute and in the process takes you where boundaries disappear.  He takes you to the villages, the mountains, dense forest, he speaks to you through his flute.  Starting with Raag Kalyani and ending with Raag Pahadi, he showed us the power of music, her strength and her healing power. And it was a glimpse to what magic Krishna could play with his flute with his divine powers.  Unimaginable

Listening to his  flute recorded on CDs is nothing compared to listening to him playing live.  It was magic.  An enriching sunday it was, where the mind was cleansed and cleared.  Where I realized that only a special blessing can give you that gift.  

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yesterday night

Yesterday night, while returning after dinner from the city, we saw a two-wheeler accident just 100 metres away from the university small gate.  The accident had just then occurred and there were two people on the scooter, both without helmet.  While the driver was sitting dazed on the road, we could see another man, the pillion stuck under the scooter.  The driver of the auto in which we were travelling, stopped immediately and ran to get the man out.  He was lifeless, still lying on the road, with blood oozing out of the temple.  They turned him around and felt his pulse.  He was breathing... In the meanwhile, we asked people passing by on bikes to inform the university security at the gate to call the ambulance stationed inside the university.  My friend started running towards the gate to call the ambulance.  I waited there, paid the auto and ran up to the gate.  On reaching the gate, the incharge of security asked me if it was a colleague of ours.  We said no, we didn't know who it was.  I started calling the Health Center of the university to get them to send the ambulance immediately.  At that time, the security guy told me to leave the matter off as he is not my colleague and not connected to me.  I was shell shocked.  There was an accident victim and here is someone telling me not to care.  How can man be so ruthless ?  Panting for breath, I asked him, if  tomorrow I was in that man's place, would he ask me if I was a student and only then help me.  I was dumbfounded.  I would have slapped him in my anger but there was something more important to do - calling for the ambulance.  Sadly, the number didn't get through immediately and the auto driver took them in his auto to the nearest hospital.

I wonder where the world is headed.  When I was standing on the side of the road, I saw so many passersby in bikes and cars.  The cars slowed down and continued.  Some bikes stopped and helped.  It is not the fault of the people.  In India, if you take an accident victim to the hospital then the person who helped gets harassed by the police and the case is foisted on him as it is the easy thing for the police to do to avoid the difficult job of enquiry.  I remember my own experience in Chennai.

A friend and me were searching for an office.  We had stopped our two wheeler and switched it off and were wondering where this building could be.  Suddenly we heard a noise and found a guy on the cycle down on the road.  The bike that had hit him was fleeing.  100 yards away, the signal had turned green and the vehicles were coming in full speed.  I knew what was to happen.  Asking the guy to get up, he couldn't.  He was shivering and was too stunned.  I jumped off the two wheeler and with all my strength, dragged the guy to the side of the road and made him sit down.  Then a crowd gathered and they started blaming me for hitting the guy(with a stationary vehicle whose engines were switched off).  Thankfully, there was a security guard of a house who had seen the entire incident and told the others that I had saved the guy.  Else, my condition that day would have been bad.  So many people face similar conditions when they help not to mention police harrasment so much that no one stops by on the road even if they see an accident.

This country frames rules but in such a way that is stopping people from helping someone in need.  Why ?  Why such laws when someone's life is in danger.  When a few minutes can be the difference between life and death not only for the persons injured but also for their families.