3rd time lucky they say!

So I have been a fairly prolific writer. I used to maintain 2 or 3 blogs at one point in early 2005. I started because I had a crush on a young man who actually wrote beautiful blogs. Today he’s married, has perhaps one child, is an entrepreneur, perhaps continues to write, really don’t know (and don’t honestly care) and the crush has thankfully worn off. It hurt for a while especially because my ego was bruised. After all when you admit that you’re attracted to a young man who in return is just not “into you” you tend to want the earth to swallow you.

Thankfully that was a decade ago. I’ve grown (hopefully), evolved mentally, emotionally, spiritually and today I write differently. I guess my blogs will continue to outlive me unless the Internet crashes and we’re closer to aliens bombing us out of existence. Oh well, the ether trail is what we shall leave behind for UFO bearing aliens to find and laugh long after we’re dead and gone.

So here I reproduce a blog I’d written when Roger Federer lost to Rafael Nadal in 2009. I don’t think any modern athlete has had such great control of my emotions as Federer. I’ve written about him here recently and also about Tennis Life Lessons. Yes tennis has that effect on my psyche. I do believe it’s about life. And I reproduce it here because once again when Roger Federer lost to Novak Djokovic yesterday at the Wimbledon 2015, I was despondent and felt like I’d lost the will to live. That’s what Federer does to me. I prayed for him, I had mental conversations with him and I somehow willed him to win. At some point I couldn’t watch the match either. I switched because I couldn’t bear to see my heart breaking into million pieces anymore. I’ve pieced my heart carefully after so many heartbreaks including thanks to the young man referred to above, that I know I don’t have the will or the capacity to piece them again if it does shatter. I’ve fortified myself and I don’t, can’t, won’t allow myself weaknesses such as breaking of the heart. In a world where I’m alone (as are we all) and I have only my arms to hug me or my voice to tell me it’s okay, or my gentle murmurings to console me, I can’t afford to let my heart break. And Roger Federer almost succeeded. Well, that’s what a genius can do. My only regret is that I haven’t seen him play in person and nor will I ever. That’s a tragedy and travesty of my hero worship of him. C’est la vie!

So here goes – a blog from the past – but still relevant! Enjoy!


Rafael Nadal won his first Wimbledon crown. Roger Federer stood forlornly as the dethroned but graceful champion and king, and probably the best grass player in the Open era or any era, ever.

Lessons learnt from both players:
a) Never never never ever give up. Even when you think and the world thinks you’re down and out.
b) Focus focus focus. The goal should be unwavering.
c) You may be genius, but you too are fallible. (Check Roger Federer’s unforced errors).
d) Age may be in the mind, but it’s in the body too. Speed, agility, tact and some
skill can make up for solid experience.
e) But the hunger to do more and excel more is not about age, but ageless. It’s an attitude and a part of your DNA.
f) Winning is everything (whether you like it or not – nobody will remember Federer’s 5 titles, his wonderful strokes, his will to come back from 2 sets down. Only ‘Rafa’ ‘Rafa’ ‘Rafa’ will be remembered for the victory).
g) Winning may be everything, but lack of skill, attitude, focus and determination won’t get you far beyond a few goal posts.
h) Without consistency you are nothing.
i) Never give all of yourself to every fight. Do save the best for last. Ironically you may not   get to the last if you don’t give your best. So work out the math yourself.
j) Money is definitely not everything. It’s just an escalator to a better quality of life.
Now what that quality means to different people is different so let’s leave it there.
k) Being calm, unruffled and determined under any onslaught and pressure, is the mark of   a leader. It’s also called grace under pressure.
l) But a show of emotions by leaders and world beaters is also ok. It shows you are
human.
m) Never tread on people’s bunions when they’re limping. (Notice Federer’s ‘You’re ok?’ when Rafa grazed his knee and took a tumble. He didn’t have to enquire).
n) Respect your greatest opponent and competitor, never underestimate his ability.
o) Be willing to give it your all again and again. Yes, never feel defeated. Just an
opportunity lost.

No more. I just know that I wanted FedEx to win his 6th. I feel miserable.

But tomorrow is another day!

Revisiting an old friend – 3

I used to write My Musings and send it out in an email to a bunch of close friends about 4 years ago. I maintained it for 6 months and then for some reason I stopped. I should’ve continued. Anyhow, I’m reproducing one of the articles written then, verbatim. I hope you like it.


“Move on.”
Tag-line for titan fast track’s ads

Parents – you
Relatives – you
Teacher – you
Friends – you
Siblings – you
Colleagues – you
Money – you
World – you
Religion – you
Beliefs – you
Lovers – you
Spouses – you
You – you

If you’re wondering what is the import of the above list, well, it’s a question – what is the one word that is common to all of the above? I know many of you will say ‘you’. Sorry, wrong answer! Let me rephrase that – what is the one word that describes something important in all of the above? Aah! So are you thinking what I’m thinking? For me that word is ‘relationship’.

Relationships – that cornerstone of our lives. That which defines us, moulds us, shapes our attitudes and in fact how we live our lives. I’ve always wondered at ‘relationships’ especially when they go wrong, terribly wrong. And by wrong I mean, they get derailed,  or evolve, lose potency, lose meaning, lose passion or just spiral downwards into something abominable. I’m focusing on this aspect because of its bearing on the tag-line, so bear with me.

Relationships as we all know are built on trust, respect, love, chemistry, admiration, hate, fear, and many more such emotional intangibles. But the tag-line ‘move on’ is oft used for one of those relationships primarily – the man-woman ‘lover’ relationship. Why?

For those of you who are not residing in India and don’t know the Fast track ads – well, they’re targeting the youth (and by that measure a large part of this newsletter’s readership are eliminated, sorry folks 🙂 ) and want to position it as sassy, hip, cool and whatever other adjective the youth use today embodying the ‘with it’ culture. Fast Track is a Tata company and manufactures watches, bags, sun glasses, belts – all those accessories that go with the urban, modern Gen Y and announces to the world that he/ she’s arrived.  Now many of their ads show young girl, young boy wanting to make out or having made out and just ‘move on’ to another partner, and so on. Of course there are story lines to each of them, but it boils down to one thing; don’t stick with the same person and it’s okay to get dumped or to have multiple partners, it’s not shallow, etc.There are many many many ads that this young brand has to its credit, some superb ones as well. They’re true to their tag-line and show the range of eye-wear, shoulder accessories, etc. So far you’re with me? Good.

Now I’m not being sanctimonious or judgmental about morals or lack of it in these ads or whether they’re good, enjoyable, and if middle-aged folks like yours truly should be talking about it when it’s not meant for me. My contention is with ‘move on’. I’ve picked it because the concept of ‘move on’ vis-à-vis relationships has always had me befuddled. Here’s another why.

Why does ‘move on’ almost always harp on the man-woman relationship? How many times have you heard it, seen it, preached about it when it comes to say, parent-child relationships or teacher-student relationships? At least in my experience, never ever. Why is ‘move on’ almost always (at least it has been so in my experience) associated with a relationship that has a sexual undertone? And more importantly, can one really ‘move on’ once a relationship that you’ve invested so much time, effort, heart, soul, spirit in, dies? Move on where? To another relationship?

Well, of course change is the only constant and if we don’t evolve we’ll be like the dirty pool of stagnant water which attracts disease-spreading flies. But do let me know if ‘move on’ means forgetting about a relationship that you’ve been in. If parents disown their children or there’s a family feud which scars deeply and runs for years, would you be able to ‘move on’? If a person’s raison d’etre keeps the flame of life burning, be it hate or love, with respect to a person, can he/she ‘move on’? If it’s a relationship where your beliefs, perhaps your moral code of conduct, is found inconvenient and it causes you anguish, can you conveniently ‘move on’?

So what is this ‘move on’ pray tell me, because I’ve never understood it. I know each of us has gone through and are living proof of healthy and unhealthy relationships that have lit up our lives or marred it. We’re normal, healthy people. We’ve let time heal our wounds and subliminally allowed it to shape our attitudes. But have we truly forgotten? Or have we blithely dusted the speck of disappointment, hate, fear, deep hurt in a blasé manner off our carefully coiffed hair or carefully constructed ‘look’ and ‘moved on’? Have we lulled ourselves into believing that ‘it’s not worth it, it’s ok, nothing is good or bad, thinking makes it so’ and hid behind all such quotable quotes ? When in fact all we’ve really done is just altered our perception, but essentially we’re there where we always were – rooted in our innate humaneness and uniqueness of being? Maybe we’re just repositories of all our experiences and while physically we may alter our geographies, our emotional code remains the same. Or does it? Don’t know as usual. Just thought that it’s a thought worth considering :). Time to move on.

SIDE BAR

Last weekend I went to a Meetup – thanks(name of friend xxx) for introducing me to the concept and you’ll be glad to know it’s caught on fairly well in India as well 🙂 – on Books. Yes, I’ve joined the Bangalore Book Club Meetup, which has regular book critiquing and discussion sessions. I haven’t attended too many, in fact just one, but anyway, last weekend I decided to attend as the topic was ‘crime fiction’. Now at this Meetup, one of the members introduced a young chap, an engineer by qualification, who’d recently come back from Afghanistan where he was stationed for 2 years on a ‘dam building assignment’ near one of the largest cities there called Herat. He was to recount a fascinating tale of life there and of its variegated people. I wish I could have recorded that entire narration interspersed with our questions and you could have seen and heard about the lives of a simple tribal folk who believe there is no other religion other than Islam, who love music, who rival India in their diversity of tribal sects even though they follow the same religion (Sunnis or Shias are the Muslim sects) and watch ‘Tulsi’ (a Hindi TV daily soap) translated into Dari or Pashtun, eat meat meat and more meat, buy guns like we do clothes and very many interesting facets and facts of a war-ravaged but starkly beautiful country.

MISCELLANEA
a) Celebration time! I pushed myself to walk an additional round (of my building perimeter which is part of my daily walk ritual) and so it’s gone up from 9 to 10 rounds without any adverse effects. Yeah!

b) All my pants, jeans, capris, shorts, etc., now slide off or on without me having to struggle to button or unbutton it. Proving what? That I’ve probably dropped a couple of dress sizes. Now give me a high-five!! Yeah!!!

c) There’s actually a ‘Museum of Broken Relationships’ in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital. Wow! Read about it here – http://new.brokenships.com/en/visit. I saw it on a travel channel, and it was fascinating.

d) Feeling of well being and happiness –

  1. When a friend calls up out of the blue and says, ‘I thought of you and I love you’ and shares some hilarious moments of a holiday spent together
  2. When out of the blue another friend texts early in the morning and says, ‘I’m proud of my friends including you ….’
  3. When out of the blue (thanks Aravind) a friend says, ‘hey how about pani puri’ and you say why not and end up having mouth watering pani puris And bhel And sev puri And masala puri. There’s nothing quite like Indian street food.

e) My last Musings asked why people die in love and is it worth it and the different kinds of love. Well, watch and hear this fascinating 20 minute video on this topic by a scientist called Helen Fisher:

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/helen_fisher_studies_the_brain_in_love.html

Watch her other video on why we love and cheat. Enlightening

e) Another lovely article from this super journalist called Sevanti Ninan who writes in The Hindu, on our ‘news channels’. Maybe you knew about it, maybe you didn’t. But it’s worth reading about and pausing to muse about what we are fed, and how it influences us. Of course it also begs the question, why are we being fed the staple of news that we are?

http://www.thehindu.com/arts/magazine/article2475946.ece

Recommended: Thirst for learning irrespective of age or background or adversity.
So my mom (yes, you’d have figured out by now that she’s my eternal source of inspiration, simple as she is) goes to learn and chant bhajans (religious hymns) taught by another erudite senior citizen to a group of ladies here in our apartment complex. It’s not every day of the week, but it keeps her motivated and she’s committed to it like no other. She’ll miss dental appointments or even ask God to come later as she’s got ‘bhajan class’. Now this senior citizen, her tutor and a lovely old dictator who makes all these women shiver in their silks is a stickler for discipline. You can’t walk in a minute late or she’ll rip your ego into smithereens with her caustic comments. :). She has given all of these ladies a task. She said: I’m teaching and you all are coming here for so long. But once you go back , you shut your books and don’t recollect any of the shlokas (mantras). So I give you one month and I will take a class (read exam) of about 20 sholkas, Chapter 12, Arjun Uvacha of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita. Go home and learn.

So off come our ladies suitably anxious as to how to learn and will it stick? So morning, noon and night I see my mother learning, repeating and chanting. And you know what? I took her lessons J, yeah and she has mastered 8 shlokas. Now that’s courage, determination and a whole lot of spirit wouldn’t you agree?

Have a lovely weekend. Vegetate on Sunday. Do Nothing! It works like magic.


Hope you enjoyed a little peep into times gone past of a life 4 years younger.

Revisiting an old friend – 2

When in trouble, turn to an old friend and all will be right with the world. Yes, that is exactly what I’m doing and happily, unashamedly and guilt-free. I wrote this post in Sept 2011 and as I’ve mentioned before, it’s amazing how some of the things that touched me then still resonate with me today. I guess that’s moi :). Well anyway, let me know if you enjoyed this piece and oh yeah, what’s your word for the day/week/month/year? Think about it and don’t hold it in. Let it out. :).


“I decided on my word – attraversiamo. It means ‘let’s cross over.

Elizabeth Gilbert from the movie Eat, Pray, Love


My BYTES

I’ve heard about the book Eat, Pray, Love that was doing the ‘Bestseller’ rounds. I know my friend Sweta bought it at the Delhi airport or was it Bangalore, when we were heading out to Leh, Ladakh in 2009. 2009 – a year that will remain forever, imprinted in my heart and my memory. A year, which was my 40th and I remembered a long-ago promise I’d made to myself that ‘The day I turn 40, I will quit my job even if I have 5 rupees in my bank account.’ It was time to test my courage and see if I’d actually stick to my resolve and promise made to myself many moons ago. I just about made it by the skin of my teeth. Yes, I quit my job in November of that year just 2 months away from my 41st year. Wow! I remember a queer feeling in the pit of my stomach – of exhilaration and of apprehension, of unexplored adventures of life that lay before me, of seeking and perhaps finding my own inner demons, slaying them and emerging victorious, of perhaps, finally leaping from my comfort zone and headlong into an unknown and maybe, just maybe, discovering who I really was. Yes. All of this lay before me as I, a good South Indian TamBram (Tamil Brahmin ‘Iyer’)  girl, with good upbringing and morals (the question of morals is very personal and more on that some day), duty bound and hemmed in by traditional, cultural and societal mores, was giving up a job. To see if I could do what I wanted to do, nay needed to do. It was an emotional, rational, impulsive moment all rolled into one. I knew I didn’t want to chase the ‘big bucks’. I knew I didn’t want to get caught up in the ‘competitive race’ that I’d been running all my life without much success. I knew I didn’t want to be or sound like what I was doing was righteous and slip into sanctimonious lectures, nor did I want to be the ‘loser takes recourse to quitting’ mode. I just wanted to do my thing. I wanted to find my balance.

It’s been 22 months since that moment on November 9, 2009 where I remember driving past the security guards of the office that was home for so many months prior to that. Walking out from one chapter of your life can be a strange experience. You know that when you turn away from something, you automatically turn to something else. So what if that something is hazy and undefined. Light from a tunnel is light and signals hope, an impetus to keep digging yourself out from whichever tunnel (aka hole/ rut/ moment/ space/ darkness/ path) you are in, and move towards that light. It’s been fascinating these 22 months.  Surprised. Happy. Calm. Unflappable. Divine. Meditation. Spiritual. Friends. Family. Wishful. Anger. These few words have repeatedly sprung up during this journey among a trillion others in what has been, quite honestly, a surprisingly delightful experience thus far.

I haven’t read the book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, but I find it has interesting quotes by the lady author. I happened to catch just the last hour of the movie on TV and I found this last dialogue in the movie very profound. For me. And it just seemed to lend itself so naturally to the earlier ‘Go beyond borders’ that I just had to share. I don’t know what my word is or will be. But I like the idea of ‘let’s cross over’ however you interpret it.

I know I did. In November 2009, I did. I crossed over. Maybe it’s time for another ‘attraversiamo’. I don’t know what or where.  I am seeking an answer. Maybe I will seek it forever. Does it matter?

Aside: Javier Bardem is a wonderful actor. He’s my definition of a ‘sexy man’. He’s not  ‘drop dead gorgeous’ like George Clooney or Brad Pitt but by Jove, he’s sexy. Earthiness, intelligent and sensuality with a body and a dimple. Sigh!If he wanted me to take a boat and ride into the unknown, I would give him my hand.  Attraversiamo baby!

 MISCELLANEA

Did you know that:

EPIPHANY (Capitalized) means: January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ.

It also means an illuminating discovery, realization or disclosure.


What’s your illuminating thought, word or feeling today? Go ahead, make full disclosure, no one’s going to hang you out to dry. The Universe has your back. More importantly, do you have yours? If not, listen to the song and hopefully suddenly you’ll see…

 

Revisiting an old friend – 1

In 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, I had an epiphany. I wanted to write and share some of my ideas with a very close knit group of friends and family, because it would keep me connected to them, I loved to write and I thought (at that time) that my Musings (as I called my personal newsletter) would go viral. I kept at it for 6 months, week on week writing about things that mattered to me and hopefully providing food for thought to those who were my audience. I was revisiting some of it today and I thought it’d be worth putting some of that writing (entirely mine and original and am sure some of my friends on that mailing list will vouch for it) here for your consumption. Yes, there may be an odd reference to something ethnic as I come from India, so perhaps I’ll add something as a Footnote for you 🙂 if warranted. I’ll probably post all of these under a new category called Musings, that way you and I both will know the fresh from the regurgitated :). But hey it’s all me. Hope you enjoy it and please do share because sharing is caring. In fact why don’t you tell me which song would go well with every post that I post under Musings? I’d love to accede to your requests…this is the JukeBox after all!


“Go beyond borders”

My BYTES
Many of you would recognize the quote that I’ve posted above. I found it brilliant. Of course the context that CNN used it was to promote their brand of news making and presenting. But for me it stands for so much more. It truly means ‘pushing beyond the paradigms of well defined, articulated and accepted definitions’. You see, we need to teach ourselves and our children to reflect deeply on what being human entails. It’s a tough ask but it’s also deeply enriching. Don’t we often, say, ‘push the envelope’? Or ‘think out of the box’? Why do we say it and what do we mean by it? Aren’t the envelopes and boxes our own borders? Aren’t our prejudices our own borders? Aren’t our attitudes and mindsets our own borders?

You know I saw this lovely movie called ‘Mona Lisa Smile’ for the nth time. I love that movie. And not only for Julia Roberts, but also for the premise that she puts forth. She’s an art teacher who teaches this bunch of young, smart and sassy girls at Wellesley in ’50s America, to think beyond what they perceive, to question tradition and dogma. Here are some interesting snippets of dialogue to illustrate:

“Look beyond the paint. Let us try to open our minds to a new idea.”
Julia Roberts known as Katherine Watson shows the class a slide:
Katherine Watson“Carcass”, by Soutine, 1925. Is it any good? C’mon, ladies, there’s no wrong answer. There’s also no textbook telling you what to think. It’s not that easy, is it?
Betty Warren: Alright, no. It’s not good. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it art. It’s grotesque.
Connie Baker: Is there a rule against art being grotesque?
Giselle Levy: I think there’s something aggressive about it. And erotic.
Betty Warren: To you, everything is erotic.
Giselle Levy: Everything is erotic.
Susan Delacorte: Aren’t there standards?
Betty Warren: Of course there are! Otherwise, a tacky velvet painting could be equated to a Rembrandt!
Connie Baker: Hey, my Uncle Ferdie has two tacky velvet paintings. He loves those clowns.
Betty Warren: There are standards! Technique, composition, color, even subject. So, if you’re suggesting that rotted side of meat is art, much less good art, then what are we going to learn?
Katherine Watson: Just that. You have outlined our new syllabus, Betty, thank you. What is art? What makes it good or bad, and who decides?
[referring to a childlike drawing of a cow]
Katherine Watson: 25 years ago, someone thought this was brilliant.
Betty Warren: Who?
Katherine Watson: My mother. I painted it for her birthday. Next slide. This is my mom. Is it art?
Susan Delacorte: It’s a snapshot.
Katherine Watson: If I told you Ansel Adams had taken it, would that make a difference?
Betty Warren: Art isn’t art until someone says it is.
Katherine Watson: It’s art!
Betty Warren: The right people.
Betty Warren: And who are they?
Giselle Levy: Betty Warren! We’re so lucky we have one of them right here.

ETC.,
There was a Point/ Counterpoint in the editorial about having legislation on ‘lookism’. For many of us who are not sure what this means, including yours truly, it means to remove bias at workplace on the basis of one’s looks. Well, what can I say! I don’t know if legislation will really help. It’s an attitude isn’t it? It’s an age-old mindset about what constitutes ‘beautiful’ vs. ‘ugly’. Ask me about it. I’m a dark, not terribly attractive woman. When I was in school, one of the most impressionable years of one’s life you will agree, I remember coming home crying, or sitting outside with ‘friends’ and feeling completely wretched because the ‘boys’ would always call me ‘Kaali Bhains’ meaning ‘black buffalo’. When you’re 8 or 9 it scars you. You question and you don’t get too many answers that make sense. ‘You’re beautiful inside’ doesn’t make sense. You want to know why do they call you so? You want to know why you don’t get ‘red roses’ in college. You want to know why guys are forever dedicating songs to the ‘fairer prettier one’. You want to know why you’re asked supposedly innocent questions by your own family ‘So you’re quite alright girl, how come you don’t have boy friends?’

You may of course wonder, is this something to get upset about and isn’t it time to grow up and leave it behind? I have, but till date, I feel uncomfortable looking at myself in a mirror in a public ladies’ cloak room. I am afraid to comb my hair or anything. Till date I feel a sliver of something undefined when someone says, ‘she’s so dark or she’s so ugly’. Do I not indulge in being judgmental about others and their looks and their sense of style? I do. Which brings me back to the question I began with: Will legislation help people who are discriminated against on the basis of looks? Isn’t it a shifting goal post as the definitions of beauty shift and as they say, ‘beauty is in the eyes of the beholder?’.

I don’t know the answer.


Have you noticed that some wounds run so deep (perhaps as deep as the Indian Ocean’s deepest point at 14,800 feet) or the Mariana Trench in the Pacific, that you keep talking about it repeatedly? Yes, my deep insecurity and scarring about my looks has me mentioning it very often, because at the end of the day am trying to heal myself. My outpourings to you help me learn the utter hopelessness of holding on to self-defeatist and self-sabotaging thoughts, but when it runs in your veins, perhaps it will take the 12 step AA process to get it undone. Maybe I’ve just done 2 or 3 and still have a ways to go.

Well, anyway, am older, wiser, greyer and I know that being who I am in my own skin is the only way to be. My skin may be dark, but dark is also beautiful. And I think that if there was no dark, how would you appreciate the fair-skinned? You need the darkness to revel in the light.