Friday, April 28

Kodak moments

Happened to read to posts here and here dealing with photographs and it got me thinking.

How magical those moments seem when you revisit them through photographs. It is not just your perception, it’s the photographer's perception, the perception of the other characters being pictured. Those small frames convey meanings and emotions that you probably never associated with the moment then. Those school group photographs, the birthday photographs, the wedding ones…….. Here and there you find that at a moment when you were so happy, someone captured at the far end of the frame was actually unhappy. Its like those movies where say during a wedding the couple and their parents are ebullient, but somewhere standing in a corner is that secret admirer who is secretly unhappy, and the camera shows us that. Looking at old photographs can likewise give us a new understanding of people and their feelings. It can probably just change the way we perceive that person.

Sometimes even after a long association with a person, a photograph might just say much more than all those years of knowing each other. I remember looking at some of our colleges photographs with a friend. There was timid kind of a girl, who hardly spoke with anyone, was always there but never noticed. In this particular photograph of a college fest, where some of my friends were dancing, this person could be seen sitting quietly in the crowd, body language not differing but eyes lit up unusually……. a distinct love for dance in them, a strong desire to be up there and perform. And slowly I remembered how she would always liven up at the mention of dance. How sad and hurt she looked when we participated in a dance competition and she happened to be left out. Sigh! How I wish I had known it before…..!

Of course I don’t mean to say it is always sad. You have your lovely memories. You can revisit that slight brush of 'his' hand while the photograph was being clicked and the sudden blush that was thankfully not captured. His fond gaze upon you as he apparently prepared to photograph you all, but you knew….. it opens up such a treasure of memories. Your childhood photograph, were you are atop a tree and even though trying to be out of the frame, your father's hand is just there to hold you if you happen to fall. That pride on your teacher's face (and you always thought she was as emotionless and strict as anyone could ever be) as you hold the trophy.

So many moments… many memories adding dimensions to our life and relationships long cherished or long forgotten. Giving a new meaning to our understanding of ourselves, a chance to stand back and evaluate, introspect and grow.

Wednesday, April 19


Why is the phrase "the blind and the disabled" so used?
Is blindness not considered a disability? If, so wouldn't it have a bearing upon the rights and facilities provided to the disabled?

Tuesday, April 18

Harsh..... happiness abound!

Nice cool summer Sunday morning. 5.30 Am. Me sleeping blissfully. Suddenly mom waking me up, "Chalo jana hai na, jaldi utho!" "But its Sunday today" (groan). And then the words, "Fine then dad and I will go to the hospital, you can sleep." Immediately I am up as straight as a log, eyes wide open as if I had never been asleep (well my brother was rolling all over the place seeing me so). Give mom a look of disbelief. Mom all smiles.

And thus I became a proud masi (direct English translation is punishable!) that Sunday!!!! My sister had her first baby, a baby boy. An extremely charming little pink baby, with big blackish eyes (but I claim to see a tinge of green in them), tiny lips and holes for the nose, long legs and such-sweet-soft hands! How our lives have changed since then. First thing everyone does as soon as they get up, have a look at the baby. He is awake at 5.30am and playing and making all sorts of noises all by himself till either my sister or someone else joins him. Even I have started getting up real early to play with him. (Disadvantage: mom asking me to go for a morning walk "now that you are awake and the sun is still to rise"!) But then I am smart. I prefer taking the baby for a sunbath. Just as the sun rises and those first rays fall on him, he changes from pink to red. Looks at the sun eyes wide open, then at my mom or me (or anyone else who is around) and then munches upon god-knows-what.

The entire day is spent looking at him cycle, swim (his movements are like he were swimming in the air), look at my sister and smile, follow her with his eyes and ensure that she is within the range of his eyes and not cry but simply makes tiny sounds with his lips whenever he is hungry. Everyone who visits us is so enchanted by these tiny sounds. They all go ga-ga, "such a good boy, doesn’t cry even if he is hungry!" As night falls each one of us has to have a look at him, hold him before we go off to sleep.

It is amazing how such a tiny thing, unknown to the world till a few days back, suddenly becomes the centre of your universe. Every moment, every thought is about him, related to him. Even dinner discussions are about what he did today, how he listened to music and how he did this and that. Life seems wonderful. Feeling tired and low, play with him for a couple of minutes and you are completely rejuvenated. Very happy, play with him and watching him laugh with you the happiness knows no bounds. Not sleepy, try putting him off to sleep and the rocking will make you sleep but he will continue smiling at you. Even the scorching summer heat feels like a cool winter breeze when he laughs and smiles at you………..

Touchwood! for all the 'harsh'bhare days!

Thursday, April 13

Getting personal

The other day I was reading Chetan's personal post and wondered whether he was thinking, "Ok enough of 'intelligent' stuff, let me write something personal". Infact do any of the bloggers around stop to think about whether their post for the day should be personal or otherwise.

The blogosphere is full of wonderful 'personal' post writers. Like this one and many more such warm posts by Shruthi, or this by Suyog, or those by Nirwa who seems to be fond of writing very personal posts at times or the entire Blank Noise Project. All these posts are personal because they share the writer's experiences. But then every other post, be it about politics, films, science, food etc. each one is triggered by a personal experience. Only difference being that the experience is shared in a manner where the issue, the film, the dish becomes central and the writer merely a narrator. All such posts looking at 'issues' are also personal because they give the writer's opinion, a glimpse into his thought process. The reader's thought process is not restricted to forming an opinion about the 'issue' being discussed, but also about the writer as a person. And so greatbong comes to be thought of as someone with an amazing sense of humor and gaurav and ravikiran as 'intelligent'. Someone else is thought of as promising but still amateur, while some others are genius writers. With each subsequent post, the comments that the bloggers posts the reader's opinion about him/her changes for the better or for the worse.
For some personal posts probably mean those where the writer is a character in the story, whereas otherwise he is only the narrator, who was merely inspired by something he experienced. Experiences need not necessarily be first-hand and probably that is one of the distinguishing factors. But then when someone writes about the education system, he has experienced it himself and not been a mere observer. Some of my friends feel that writing about personal stuff exposes you to the danger of it being criticised, ridiculed, made fun of, when for you the matter might be of immense importance. Infact you are almost presenting yourself to be ridiculed and criticised and the personal information that is so given out can be used to the writer's detriment. Probably true, but then so is the case with your everyday interactions. I can understand that posting pictures of oneself, one's partner or such can probably lead to the photographs being misued and tampered. Those implications of technology are understandable and justifiable. But how can simply writing 'personal' posts have such serious repercussions.
By having a blog we are voluntarily giving our ideas, thoughts and also ourselves for public evaluation and criticism. When we have chosen to do it, how far is it right to crib when criticised and evaluated in a particular manner? Is self-expression, the motivation behind most of the blogs important; or the constant self-restriction for fear of criticism, thereby curbing one's own self-expression?

Monday, April 3

Watching myself grow

I have been reading all my life now. Comics, novels, thrillers, classics, non-fiction........ anything. I know that this consistent reading has a big stake in what I am today. And yet there have been few times I can remember when while reading I actually found those words 'impacting' me. Imagining, visualizing, dreaming of being like those characters..... these are distinct feelings and you can see them happening. But something actually changing within me, affecting my thought process directly and so visibly! It's probably the first time.

I have been reading Shashi Deshpande's essay collection 'Writings from the margin'. Now for starters, essays are not something I am too keen on reading. No reason per say. I have tried and left essay collections half way most of the times. But this time I read the entire stuff. Not in a chronological order but the entire stuff all the same. And as I read I saw myself being affected by her words, her thoughts, realizing how they said what I felt but was never able to identify them lucidly. They would be lost somewhere halftrack and I never knew how to go back to them. This book showed me how I really felt about those things.

Shashi Deshpande writes in a very simple and from-the-heart language. This collection ranges from her own experiences of creating stories and novels as a writer, the process through which she travels, to elaborating upon why she is a feminist, why English Indian writing cannot be termed marginal, how being called a 'woman writer' annoys her, a biographical sketch of her father that also gives us a glimpse into the strength of her mother……….. Some 15 odd essays on a variety of topics and yet each seems related to the other. There is a definite thread that binds them. Reading each of these, I felt refreshed as you do when some realization dawns upon you.

Probably belonging to similar social and geographical backgrounds the association is easier as the setting is familiar. When she talks of the idol of 'Annapurna devi' given to the bride I could relate to it. A wedding ritual that till now had received no great attention from me suddenly meant so much. How seeing my mother cook even I thoughts of kitchens in a romantic manner as she did too and how growing up it has now acquired a deeper meaning and association with women's life as a whole. When she talks of writing as a woman and reading other women writers and the irritation it causes when they are perceived as 'for-women-only' stuff; I knew that's what was nagging me all these days, only it was her putting them into words. When she says she took up writing in English not out of deliberate choice but because that was the language she knew to write in, inspite of being proficient in her mother tongue and such, I knew what she meant. Because that’s what I feel too. I have asked myself this at times, 'Why do I write in English?' and that’s the same answer I get. It’s a very spontaneous choice. Nothing purposeful or deliberate about it. Also when Deshpande asks how 'top writers' of the century, of India etc can be determined by some body that has access and understanding only of the English literature being produced; I nod in agreement. There are scores of other regional writers who would probably outscore on merit any of those in the lists produced.

All through the book I find her putting my thoughts into words. Thoughts that I knew only in bits and parts to exist in me, and which would have probably stayed dormant for all I know. They were articulated and I could see them as a third person. This conscious realization of something within me, something affecting me, is so beautiful that no words can express it. I can only express my gratitude to Shashi Despande for this wonderful experience!