Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crumbling Sugar Cube.....


If I should have a daughter.......

If I should have a daughter, instead of “MOM”, she's going to call me Point B
because that way she knows that no matter what happens
atleast she can always find her way to me.

And I am going to paint Solar Systems on the backs of her hands,
so she has to learn the entire universe before she can say
'Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.'

And she's going to learn that this life will hit you,
in the face,
wait for you to get back, just so it can kick you in the stomach.

But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs
how much they like the taste of air.

There's hurt here that cannot be fixed by Band aids or poetry
So the first time she realizes that Wonder Woman isn’t coming
I'll make sure she knows she does not have to wear the cape all by herself.

Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers,
your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal.
Believe me, I've tried

And baby, I'll tell her, don't keep your nose up in the air like that
I know that trick, I've done it a million times
You're just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail
back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire
to see if you can save him.

Or else find the boy who lit the fire in the first place, to see if you can change him.
But I know she'll anyway, so instead I'll always keep an extra supply of chocolate
and rainboots nearby.

Because there's no heartbreak that chocolate can't fix
Ok, there's a few heartbreaks that chocolate can't fix
but that's what the rainboots are for, because rain will
wash away everything if you will.

I want her to look at the world through the underside of a glass bottom boat
To look through the microscope at the galaxies that exist on the pinpoint of a human mind
Because that's the way my mom taught me.
That there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this my momma said 

When you open your hands to catch & wind up with only blisters and bruises
When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly
And the very people you want to save are the ones standing on your cape
When your boots will fill with rain and you'll be up to your knees in disappointment
And those are the very days you've all the more reason to say thank you.

Because there's nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop
kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s swept away.

You will put the wind in winsome ... lose some
You will put the star in starting over and over.

And no matter how many landmines erupt in a minute
Be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.

And yes, on a scale from one to overtrusting, I'm pretty damn naive.
But I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar
It can crumble so easily
But don't be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it
“Baby,” I'll tell her, “remember your mama is a worrier
and your papa is a warrior,
and you're the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.”

Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things
And always apologize when you've done something wrong.
But don't you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining.
Your voice is small, but don't ever stop singing.

And when they finally hand you heartache,
when they slip war and hatred under your door
and offer you handouts on street corners
of cynicism and defeat,
you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.

Sarah Kay

Friday, March 18, 2011


It was fascinating to watch her tear-filled eyes with the droplets beginning to roll down her cheeks. She appeared to be very sad yet surprisingly she also looked very beautiful and serene. I saw her sitting in the front seat of her car gazing out of the window while waiting at the signal this morning on my way to office. I was intrigued and my imagination took reins.
The calm handsome man driving the luxury car should be her husband. He was focused in his driving and was skilfully manoeuvring his vehicle unaware of his wife’s state. She looked simple and elegant in her sky blue cotton saree. I was observing them now for quite some time and was curious about what could have moved her to tears. It looked like she was more careful about her husband not noticing that she was crying, so much so that she did not mind strangers seeing her in tears. She tried to wipe her tears imperceptibly.
What could have been the preceding chain of events....Maybe the couple had a fight and the husband said something harsh to her. Or maybe she was regretting something she had said or did. Or were they listening to an old hindi song which made her wistful about the good old days? Was she thinking about how they had started their life filled with hope and enthusiasm and then forgot about living being caught in the web of their energy-sapping mundane activities?
Maybe today was a special day in their lives and her husband was oblivious to it making her sad. Or had she lost a loved one recently? Was she thinking of the lost opportunities in life and was consumed by regret and remorse? Did she long for her husband to comfort her while she rested her head on his shoulders? Probably she was wondering where she went wrong and lost the wonderful rapport she used to share with her husband. Familiarity surely has bred contempt in him, she must have thought. Though they were seated next to each other, they seemed to be far removed from each other.
I was tempted to smile at her and tell her, “Don’t worry; this too shall pass.” I also wanted to call her husband’s attention to his wife’s state of mind. Whatever was going on in the minds of these two individuals, I wanted to tell them , “Think of the bigger picture... Remember the shared joy and experiences of yore. Nothing is worth this sadness and don’t wait for the other person to make the first move. So bridge the gap and celebrate your life of togetherness...After all life is ephemeral and would slip away at the blink of an eye....”
The moral of the story is “Don’t think you should be idle while stuck at a traffic signal.... you can make a film, albeit in your mind, out of the hapless characters you see around you. Let your imagination run riot and give wings to your fantasy."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On culture and disasters....

Can it be true? Are the Japanese people really as calm as they appear? It is difficult not to think of Tamil news channels interviewing people here about the unrelenting monsoon and the difficulties they face and people grumbling as if someone has the power to stop the rain. Contrast this with the serene exterior of the Japanese. Of course there would be an underlying sense of panic as they try to make sense of all that is going on around them, but outwardly they appear calm, reticent and patient as ever.

What I read in the LA Times was stupefying:
1. There is no looting in Japan in spite of the widespread devastation and abandoned homes and shops.
2. A 70 year old woman staying alone in a house and was trapped when a book shelf fell on her leg after the earthquake, apologised to the rescue workers for the trouble she caused when there were more people in worse situation waiting to be rescued.
3. When the transportation system resumed after being paralysed for hours, people waited in queues and boarded the trains patiently.

The International community is looking at the Japanese with awe and trying to understand the Japanese culture – what makes them tight lipped about what is happening and are they resigned to whatever happens as a result of having gone through a lot of turmoil both natural and man-made. In normal times the apologetic and cloyingly polite Japanese might get on the nerves of most people. But at precipitous times like these, the kindness and politeness serve as lubricants to get the wheels move smooth.

Another aspect is that the media now focuses less on playing the ‘guess game’ about the actual number of dead as a result of the twin catastrophe of earthquake and tsunami. The magnitude of the damage already done is overtaken by the possible disastrous consequence of the nuclear meltdown.

Amidst memories of Hiroshima / Nagasaki there is comparison of the nuclear disasters of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island with the present one. It was revealing to see the Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan calmly stating that all the workers in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were withdrawn. A Security Analyst from Massachusetts responded anxiously: ‘I hope he does not mean that the nuclear plant has been abandoned. Maybe he is only saying that 1) most of the workers are withdrawn or that 2) a new set of workers would take over or that 3) they are taking International assistance to contain the damage.

On a scale of 1 to 7, the present nuclear crisis in Japan has been categorized as a 6 while that in Chernobyl was categorised as 7 and that in Three Mile Island as 5. Whether the 6 is tending towards 7 and not 5 as reported remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure: there are lessons to be learnt, not only about whether 1) the eight hour back up was sufficient 2) the diesel generators were parked low leading to flooding 2) the filtration system was adequate and so on and so forth....but also equally importantly about the exemplary calmness, resilience and politeness exhibited by the amazing people of Japan.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

On prayers and blessings....

The Dalai Lama offered prayers for the Japan's quake and tsunami victims.

The Dalai Lama said, "We must all be grateful that the Japanese government's disaster preparedness measures prevented the death and destruction from being much worse".

That seems to be a very intelligent statement.

The statement said "as a Buddhist monk who daily recites the Heart Sutra, the Dalai Lama felt it would be very good if Japanese Buddhists were to recite the Heart Sutra" for the victims and survivors of the quake and the tsunami."

"Such recitation may not only be helpful for those who have lost their precious lives, but may also help prevent further disasters in the future," the Dalai Lama said.

He said prayers to recite the Heart Sutra 100,000 times were being organised in Dharamsala for this purpose. What does he mean when he says that reciting the 'Heart Sutra' would be good for the victims and survivors. And it seems such recitations may hep in preventing future disasters. Well he was reciting....right? It did not seem to have helped. And why did he not reveal that 'wisdom' before and prevent this disaster?

I am also reminded of this.... A dear aunt asked me for my permission to 'bless me'....and I did not have the heart to say 'No I don't believe in that BS.' So she kept her hand on my head, closed her eyes and mumbled for a while... But what pained me was to hear from her that she had attended a 'Blessing course' in Bangalore under that Double Sri guy and that she can bless how many ever people she wants.

The moral of the story is that, if you want to appear as if you have contributed something or if you want to delude yourself to believe that you have helped in some way, then PRAY....or BLESS....

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday quote

"In fact, "atheism" is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a "non-astrologer" or a "non-alchemist." We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs."
Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation)