Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday quotes

Oscar Wilde

The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly - that is what each of us is here for.

The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.

My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people's.

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

More wonderful Wilde quotes at ...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Somewhere towards the End - Diana Athill

I am yet to read the book. Read about the book and I am mighty impressed.

Some interesting quotes:

On love: “… a broken heart mends much faster from a conclusive blow than it does from slow strangulation.”

On being over 60: “All through my sixties I felt I was still within hailing distance of middle age, not safe on its shores, perhaps, but navigating its coastal waters. My seventieth birthday failed to change this because I managed scarcely to notice it, but my seventy-first did change it. Being ‘over seventy’ is being old: suddenly I was aground on that fact and saw that the time had come to size it up.”

On her waning interest in sex in old age: “An important aspect of the ebbing of sex was that other things became more interesting. Sex obliterates the individuality of young women more often than it does that of young men, because so much more of a woman than of a man is used by sex.


And then my most favorite passages on Old age and relationship with youngsters:

What is so good about it is not just the affection young people inspire and how interesting their lives are to watch. They also, just by being there, provide a useful counteraction to a disagreeable element in an old person’s life. We tend to become convinced that everything is getting worse simply because within our own boundaries things are doing so.

We are becoming less able to do things we would like to do, can hear less, see less, eat less, hurt more, our friends die, we know that we ourselves will soon be dead. It’s not surprising, perhaps, that we easily slide into a general pessimism about life, but it is very boring and it makes dreary last years even drearier.

Whereas if, flitting in and out of our awareness, there are people who are beginning, to whom the years ahead are long and full of who knows what, it is a reminder (indeed it enables us actually to feel again) that we are not just dots at the end of thin black lines projecting into nothingness, but are parts of the broad, many-coloured river teeming with beginnings, ripenings, decayings, new beginnings – are still part of it, and our dying will be part of it just as these children’s being young is, so while we still have the equipment to see this, let us not waste our time grizzling.

Always we are being reflected in the eyes of others. Are we silly or sensible, stupid or clever, bad or good, unattractive or sexy? We never stop being at least slightly aware of, if not actively searching for, answers to such questions, and are either deflated or elated, in extreme cases ruined or saved, by what we get. So if when you are old a beloved child happens to look at you as if he or she thinks (even if mistakenly!) that you are wise and kind: what a blessing!

On turning 40 ...

Okay okay it should actually be on turning 41.Well, why I remembered it today is because I am getting my Reading glasses today. I still remember when my father started wearing glasses. He seemed OLD. So am I old now? Well though I don't feel old, there are surely some imperceptible changes and some not so imperceptible changes in me. So onto the process of aging....

For a start, the hair starts greying at the temples and you need to dye your hair once every couple of months. Not only children, even college going kids(?) start calling you 'Aunty' and the word does not echo all around you, like it does in the advertisement for an hair dye. All these days you thought going for a walk was only to stay in shape, but now you realise that it is to keep blood pressure and diabetes at bay, if it is ever possible.

Then when you talk of being old, your peers, probably conscious of old age creeping on them too, react very strangely - "Come on, it is all in the mind. You are quite young. You don't look forty" And one good friend Jayanthi said "Eh let us keep it this way. Forty is not old. Fifty is. And then when we move to Fifty, we will keep Sixty as old." Can you think of Moving goalposts better than this.

Some very subtle changes in the body remind you that you are aging and it is better to come to grips with it. You no longer merit a second glance from good looking guys :) though it seems odd initially, you then realise what liberation that is. It actually feels great to be sort of invisible while in the public domain.

Does all the above mean that I am giving up on life for good? Hell, no. If anything, I am more alive than ever before. I feel all my pleasures much more intensely than I ever felt. I relish every small happiness that comes my way. I live more....I laugh more...I experiment more.... Now that I know how mortal I am, I don't try too hard to live a perfect life. I don't try to pack everything in my daily schedule. I have kind of learnt to let go, just flow along with life and at the same time be aware of what I want from life and make sure that I get it. I no longer need to prove anything to anybody and whatever I do, it is only for my happiness and that is invigorating.

So 40 is not all that bad. Neither in the passions of youth, nor in the aches and pains of old age, 40 actually feels good. And so you have a choice - of aging gracefully and at peace with oneself or entering old age kicking and screaming just as you entered school reluctantly. Either way it does not matter much - time ultimately claims you - your body first and your mind later, if you are lucky. A reminder then to live lift to the hilt .....

Monday, September 13, 2010

Economists quotes

"If all the economists were laid end to end, they'd never reach a conclusion."
- George Bernard Shaw

Give me a one-handed economist! All my economists say, On the one hand on the other.
- Harry S. Truman

And now I will wait for comments from the Kishores........... :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Interesting Life

We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart


Mencken wrote a joking epitaph for himself:

If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl.

Although this famous quote is not on his tombstone, it is widely reported on the Internet as being inscribed on a plaque in the lobby of the Baltimore Sun.



As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)


Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Quote

To the dumb question “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?

Christopher Hitchens on dealing with his cancer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Woman of Substance

I met her for the first time when we visited our friend after our wedding. My friend's mother - she came across as a friendly, loving and caring person. Even then she was sick. And their family was facing quite a few problems. But she was so full of concern for us and with so many questions she kept the focus on us.

Coming to think of it what impressed me so much was her zest for life. With a naughty smile and wink she urged us to enjoy life and be happy. Her love for her husband and son was very touching. I observed their general conversation and wondered whether it was for real. I should confess that I even thought they were faking it. Not a hint of negativity - just bubbling enthusiasm. They made me feel special.

My visits were few and far between. Everytime I saw her, her health had deteriorated a bit; but amazingly she seemed stronger and happier. The disease that ravaged her body could not touch her spirit.

Once she showed her amputated leg without any embarrassment. She crawled to see us off that day. I never felt any pity for her. She was simply beyond needing anyone's sympathy.

One day my friend called and in his usual chirpy voice enquired about my daughter and then asked for my husband. Something was amiss. I did not enquire about his mother as was my wont. I somehow knew she was no more. Though I tell myself that she suffered so much pain that death should have been a welcome relief for her, I still think, how could someone so full of life, die?

I remember the last time I saw her. She could not walk as both her feet had been amputated and she was undergoing painful treatment for her renal problems. Yet as usual she kept the focus on us. Her health was very poor - she was in terrible shape - but she received us with a broad smile. She kept bombarding us with questions about our life. Oh how was it possible for her to think about others, when she was in such misery.

I later learnt that she spent the last 28 days of her life in hospital in severe pain. I asked my friend whether she turned bitter or angry towards the end. "Nope" he replied in his inimitable style - "not a grumble or complaint." I was curious to know what kept her so strong. Was it her faith in some supernatural being. No, he said, it was her faith in herself. She just loved life a lot. That in effect summed up her vibrant personality.

I am glad I came across such a lively character in my life. I only hope that I exhibit atleast a fraction of the determination and courage that she did, when life turns unpleasant and when my body is ravaged in the evening of my life.

Adore or Ignore ????

(I thought translating the dialogue into English would not convey the essence of the conversation. And I know the limited readership of my blog includes just two guys who can't understand Tamil. To those two guys : In case you happen to read this post and in case you are curious to know the meaning, send me a mail)

Getting my daughter to sleep is the toughest task in the entire day. She will have a hundred things to say and a million questions to ask. I will have to listen patiently to her anecdotes and answer her queries, all the time reminding her it was well past her bed time. Last night, when all my efforts to keep her quiet failed, I switched on my Mobile and made her listen to her favourite song from the movie 'Mozhi.' That kept her quiet for exactly 1 minute. And then it started:

Abi: Amma, movie -la andha ponnu peru Archana dhane ...

Amma: Mmmm

Abi: Ava nija peru enna?

Amma: Jyotika, ok ippo thoongu ...

Abi: Amma, ava kamal dhane marriage panni kitta?

Amma: :) Illa Surya

Abi: Andha innoru ponnu peru enna?

Amma: Swarnamalya - seri, thoongu da ...

Abi: Ava yaara marriage pannikitta?

Amma: Ava marriage pannikale..

Abi: Appo baby?

Amma: No baby for her

Abi: Appadi kooda irukalama? Appo naanum marriage pannike poradhu illa. Enakku boys pidikadhu. I adore boys.

Amma: ?????

Abi: Adore na enna amma?

Amma: Romba pidikum

Abi: Ayyo, appo I ignore boys. I hate them.

Amma: :) (thinking... hmm seri seri, naan kooda appadi dhan solli kittu irundhen ..)

Red Earth and Pouring Rain

The imagery in the Ancient Tamil literature works such as Kurunthogai and Pura Nanooru are very rich. Out of the blue this Kurunthogai poem came to my mind and I googled it and reached here


Sempula pei neer - Water raining on red earth - Wow, isn't that wonderful? A.K.Ramanujan has done commendable work translating poems from Ettu Thogai and Pathu Paattu - Poems of Love and War.

40. குறிஞ்சி

யாயும் ஞாயும் யார் ஆகியரோ?

எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம் முறைக் கேளிர்?

யானும் நீயும் எவ் வழி அறிதும்?

செம் புலப் பெயல் நீர் போல

அன்புடை நெஞ்சம் தாம் கலந்தனவே.

- செம்புலப்பெயனீரார்


Kurunthokai 40 –

What could be my mother be

to yours?what kin is my father

to yours anyway?And how

did you and I meet ever?

But in love our hearts are as red

earth and pouring rain:


beyond parting.

Translated by A.K.Ramanujan

Sunday, September 5, 2010


The Road Not Taken - Robert Frost (Excerpts)

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5



I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 20