Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Beyond comprehension .......

I read today the news item Mass starvation warned in West Africa and was struck by the tragedy of it all.

Can we even begin to comprehend what it means for the women in Chad and Niger, who sift through gravel at the side of the road, trying to find some grains that may have been blown from aid trucks or trying to capture the tiny amount of grain lying in the ant hills? The tragedy is compounded when we learn that there is food in the market but the ability to buy it has disappeared. Livestock are dying as villagers use animal fodder to feed themselves. Soon we will see images of malnourished babies published in the media which will haunt us. Oxfam has launched emergency measures to avert a humanitarian catastrophe but will the world respond adequately?

The problems of the developed countries are entirely different from that of the poor countries. A country can be classified as a developed or an underdeveloped country based on the issues it has to grapple with. When food continues to be the chief of worries for the entire population of a country, what kind of development could ever be possible? The present crisis brings back memories of the Ethiopia famine of 1984 in which nearly 1 million people died.

And I wonder how could these people in West Africa reconcile their pathetic conditions with a merciful, benevolent, omnipotent god? Oh probably they blame themselves and their actions that made their god abandon them ..... Or for not praying enough .......Maybe soon there will be some Pat Robertson talking of god's wrath. What the hell .........

My Proper Self ........

Read "We are many" by Pablo Neruda. He is one of my favourite poets. I have been long haunted by his surreal love poems. But this one is about our elusive self; our image of what we hope we are against what we actually are.


Lines from that touched a chord somewhere.

All the books I read
lionize dazzling hero figures,
brimming with self-assurance.
I die with envy of them;
and, in films where bullets fly on the wind,
I am left in envy of the cowboys,
left admiring even the horses.

But when I call upon my DASHING BEING,
out comes the same OLD LAZY SELF,
and so I never know just WHO I AM,
nor how many I am, nor WHO WE WILL BE BEING.
I would like to be able to touch a bell
and call up my real self, the truly me,
because if I really need my proper self,
I must not allow myself to disappear.

I am also waiting for my Dashing Being to show up when I ring a bell, instead of the Old Lazy Self, which keeps popping up, ever so frequently.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Aliens on earth?

I find squids fascinating. And octopus and cuttlefish too. These cephalopods create colour patterns on their skin to camouflage themselves and some squids produce light too. There is no end to the marvels of the deep ocean.

Most of the time our senses are deadened by the rigours of the routine that we fail to grasp the beauty of nature that is available for us to partake, if only we put our mind to it. It is up to us to leave the mundane once a while and explore the wonders of nature – coral reefs, glaciers, deserts, deep sea, bumble bee, humming bird, dolphins, bonobos, birds of paradise, cockatoo, ants, honey bees, bower bird, venus flytrap, sundew plant and such, if only in the virtual world of Internet.

This ‘being in touch’ with Nature would put things in perspective and ensure that the travails and boredom of everyday living would not overwhelm us and leave us drained or bitter.

Richard Dawkins puts it wonderfully in “Unweaving the Rainbow” much better than I can ever hope to.

"There is an anaesthetic of familiarity, a sedative of ordinariness, which dulls the senses and hides the wonder of existence. For those of us not gifted in poetry, it is at least worthwhile from time to time making an effort to shake off the anaesthetic. What is the best way of countering the sluggish habituation brought about by our gradual crawl from babyhood? We can’t actually fly to another planet. But we can recapture that sense of having just tumbled out to life on a new world by looking at our world in unfamiliar ways. It’s tempting to use an easy example like a rose or a butterfly, but let’s go straight for the alien deep end. I remember attending a lecture… by a biologist …………. on octopus …. squids… cuttlefishes. He began by explaining his fascination with these animals. “You see”, he said, “they are the Martians.” Have you ever watched a squid change colour?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

On making Lists……

The first thing I did when I proposed to take a long leave from work is to list out the things I wanted to do - work to be completed, skills to be learnt, books to be read, movies to be watched and of course, a blog to be initiated.
Thus yet another ‘list’ of things to be done was made. Knowing me I would probably complete 50% of what I had planned to do. What then is the point in making a list. Well, without a list I would probably not get around to even one tenth of what I intend to do. The idea is not to tick off each and every entry in the list like a tourist ticking off places to be seen without really ‘soaking’ in the ambience of the places he visits. If I set my mind to do that, I would end up tensed and worried and that would be the end of my happy holidays.
My list is a broad framework within which I would move here and there, trying this and that, giving up some, taking on some and generally dabbling in whatever I fancy. I would like to think of my list more as a guide, somewhat like an ancient traveler, looking up to the stars for guidance while traversing uncharted territory.
And so here it is:

Start a Blog to share some Vignettes of my life
Books - Genius, Chandra, Museums of Innocence
Carnatic Music – Listen a lot and learn to identify raagas
World music
Browsing - an account of blogs visited
Tamil blogs
Read Kurunthogai and Kamba Ramayanam
Siru pathirikai
Make a Record of Abi’s writings / drawings
Read Poetry

Activities: –
Practice Veena
Join a Keyboard Class
Microwave cooking (??? LOL)
Learn French

For a start I am now listening to music everyday - T.M.Krishna is my favourite now. And I have also started practising the Veena. So friends egg me on, tease me and torment me about the list. Maybe I will be inspired to attempt all of that.