Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Can We Just Stop it by Speaking Out

i have been busy with Independence day.

Image:Jotirmoy Das 2014 Flag at Rajiv Chowk CP N.Delhi posted on Facebook for all...
Then with my favorite God. Thank God i was independent enough to enjoy my National festival and the God festival both of which gave me flavors which i relished much to my delight.

But there was something that lurked in between and i asked it to stay put where it was...till i had done to my heart's content with all i wanted to do with my Krishna. Well Krishna is never over...not with me for i seek Him more often than ever now. But what i meant of the flavor was the special decorations and Pooja preparations that i do my way for Shri Krishna Janmashtami. No strict adherence of rules here but a lot of convenience and some creativity which actually takes care of my personal satisfaction . Don't really know if Krishna was satisfied or not but in doing what i was doing what irritation/frustration/disgust/bitterness that lurked inside was forgotten and for two days i was very joyous. For all i have chosen just the Prasadam pictures...because creativity is not what i feel like doing today. 

What brought it all out was this article that i identified every bit with and the pain of having gone through with it passed over me once again although i have discarded being into that rut long time back understanding the futility of it all. It does not matter to me if in official circles i am sort of alienated because i know i have my own charisma and presence. For where ever i go i do get people who accept me with open hearts and arms.

What frustrated me most was this malaise which perhaps has also been like a British legacy and followed by the  Indian Army Wives Organisation has very diligently been copied by all and sundry in the garb of such a noble task as 'Charity'. i know i am not making sense so please have a look at the article that was published in The Hindu on 16 Aug 2014.

 i take back my words is born free but he or she is everywhere in chains. Can we contradict this by Jean Jacques Rousseu?  Are we really independent then if we are chained to phony duties which we are subjected to not because we lack in merit or intellect but just by dint of age and experience are as belonging to a class called ' Juniors' ?
The article opened a whole big Pandora box of my own personal memories...painful memories which included the one in which i had officially given a written resignation letter denouncing to be a member of any such NGO which asks me to stay away from home for long hours leaving my toddler baby at the mercy of a strange baby sitter who i had no inkling of. For some music practice from nine in the morning till late noon for an assortment of selected songs in different dialects chosen by the First lady of the organisation of course as it being a National Integration song. This was supposed to be presented by our NGO organisation when flag was hoisted on 26th January our Republic Day. i think more than it being a National Integration song the First lady wanted to make an impression on the public of Chennai as to how much deep into it she was, after all. The music first and yeah the National Integration too... . Well it all boils down to that. Isn't it. More than the real thing to advertise and show...proclaim to the world...Hail I the GREAT am here now!!.

It's like a game actually we all play...everybody is hell bent on recognition, fame. Everybody is after this creating an impression. i just keep thinking today even if she didn't people would have genuflected...cause she was the First lady.

i need to tell my story to reiterate that the poor Army wife's story...that Ms Karajagi is not lying and the three issues raised by her are very justified. And it's high time that all this bullying should be questioned and made to stop once and for all. i am here to join hands and say that all of it and more happens and it's true. Resentment has always been there. It gets subsided because of those crumbs that are thrown in the form of return favors. Those crumbs assume various forms...choice postings in a choice place and in a department of one's personal choice being the most sought after. Although by rule it's a transferable job but then there are people who have been stuck to the Capital for ages does it all happen then...there are other murky ways and i'd rather not go into it but this also being one most important and easiest one to follow.
Please the top boss and then get what you want.

After my resignation of course i was left free to take care of my child and home but my husband was not spared either. Officially the Top boss tormented him as is usual of all the Hari Sadu bosses. Which includes insults and transfers to ' Go Where No One Has Gone Before' types. But we took it in our stride with my husband and me serving our respective duties silently just biding our time maybe because we knew very well that in time there will be an end to all that. The tenure for all top bosses is a short one Thank God for that !

There there was the other.
i mean First lady for they come and go as they have their terms and tenure. So while one made me write a written resignation letter another made me knit, plant, shop, do dry arrangement and cook too.
But this one was a Master in the art of Deceiving to make one agree to get what she is striving at. Well my story is interesting and you must listen to this. People who know it will all agree because they know it's true. They were there and they saw it happen. Some who empathized were the tormented ones others who got jealous because of the attention they thought i was unduly recieving from the echelon of the top seat of power and so thus they gave me, phrases as trophies, names as rewards,  ' Boss kee Chamchee' , 'Chaploos'...
It was not that i was impervious but i would cry and just somehow console myself. There just was no way out. i was stuck knee deep into it already. There was no one to pull me out. No one.
When the pull out happened it happened out of my own accord. And yes my teaching Economics to Higher Secondary students also became a big huge legible excuse to stay way from it all.
i did pull out of it totally and completely out. Which is now. Not then when all this happened.

Then it happened like this...
One morning i was carrying with my domestic chores when a Maroon Mercedes stopped in front of my house and a uniformed driver in an immaculate white dress and a braided cap and all that finery rang the doorbell of my house. i was aghast when he said that the new First Lady had paid me a visit, she was waiting in the car and whether it was okay if she could come inside. i was feeling more than honored i actually was feeling sort of flattered. The neighbors had started peeping too. A vague feeling of some pride like i have won some trophy of some kind was making my cheeks flushed with anxiety and nervousness combined. While outside some crowd was also gathering to greet the lady. So i went ahead and ushered the First Lady home into my humble living room, at the moment feeling quite on top of the world. Greetings and pleasantries being over as we sat down, she posed the most equally flattering request to me. i still remember it. Can i ever forget being i was silkily they flowed those thin lips...or rather how judiciously they were create a web of sorts.

" Shivani, i have been told by my Secretary that you have exquisite taste and you know a few art joints here in Chennai, so why don't you accompany me to one, i have to buy a piece for the Minister as a memento. I am new to this place and have visited Poompoohar but i was looking for something within my budget. Would you be knowing of any other place where i can get something unique which has the feel of The South yet not very expensive ? ... I see that you have done your house pretty well..."

i was like blown...completely blown. Thrown off track. Imagine a First Lady asking you to accompany her in her Mercedes. A FIRST LADY!! . She has a whole battalion to tell her, guide her, take her places and she chooses ME.
So while i served her snacks i asked her if she can give me some time to change i would be more than delighted to help her select and take her to one that has a wide variety at affordable rates but then we would have to finish the buying and be back home before my son was back from school.
Seemed like she had come fully prepared. She agreed readily. And after i had freshened and changed we both set out in that Mercedes to Victoria Technical Institute on Mount Road, Anna Salai. i kept suggesting stuff but sitting next to her i realized her mind was preoccupied.
Then after i fell silent in a matter of fact manner pretending to have a heart to heart conversation with me she then asked me to give reasons explaining why i had resigned from ' HER' Welfare Organization. Not before addressing me as an ' INTELLIGENT' and 'TALENTED' lady.
Not least bit suspicious or acting rather foolish and impulsive i narrated my angst, my whole story and fell silent because i was preventing the tears that had gathered and were ready to tumble down as i was reliving my husband's sufferings too.
Don't know if she saw my tears for both of us were actually staring straight towards the Chennai roads rather anxious for VTI. Victoria Technical Institute didn't arrive soon enough but before that the bomb was hastily dropped on me.

" I promise i will never ask you to stay way from home or leave your child, you will attend the meetings and those meetings won't be long, besides if you are not free you may choose to stay away. I am looking for a good Treasurer for my Organisation and no one seems suitable but you. Why don't you join back..."

Better late than never...

i received ENLIGHTENING after all sitting next to that overflowing, voluminous smiling Buddha in  Blue. Yeah it was what she wore that day...a Mysore printed Crepe Silk Saree. Blue it was.
Enlightenment indeed !!!
In a plush air conditioned seat of smelling of that phoren perfume that my Buddha was wearing which pervaded the entire of that Maroon Mercedes. Yes it was maroon and not Burgundy!!

All this First lady visit...exquisite taste... help buying memento...all BULL SHIT...forgive me from using that language but that's what it was. i was being ROPED IN or i got TRAPPED...once again.
Did i fall for it...
Tragedy is...i did...i did.

Then after, not only did i do meetings, practices for songs and dances at the cost of home and family but i also cooked and knitted and embroidered and made pots, plant pots...what not...
She made us do all that. Me and the rest of my kind juniors way way below in that hierarchy ladder. Meaning if she knew a particular junior was good at making Papads that junior would be asked to make quite a quantity of Papads ( crackers) that could be sent to Toronto or perhaps to Mumbai. Or if someone knew a particular embroidery that ' Talented' one would be singled out to embroider a suit or Saree to be sent either to her daughter in Toronto or her daughter in law in Mumbai. Maybe some talented ones did receive a chance posting to hometown as a return favor. As for me i didn't even get a bungalow peon to help me assist. i continued juggling chores and dancing to the tunes of my Budhha's whims and fancies all with pleasant smiles lest my husband was shunted again to go where no man wants to go.
All these were we made to do but ' Pyaar Sey, Puchkaar Kar'. ( Something like placate and get work done). Personal gains at our cost.
Sometimes we had to wake up nights to finish the work. At least i had to because she would call up and say, '' Someone is leaving for Toronto day after tomorrow so pls finish the sweater and send me tomorrow..."

Yeah knit for her and cook for her visiting relatives too, local forgotten cuisines, sometimes even shop for her each time i went home to Patna. Which perhaps in my naivety i did. Like i said knitting God alone knows how many sweaters for the First Lady of the organisation so that she could send those sweaters to her own grandsons in Toronto and Mumbai. This when my son was only four months old and i had no help in hand.
Then buying Madhubani paintings in cloth, canvas and silk, even local Bihar pickle an assortment of sorts of mango chillies and lime, Thandai for Holi and savories too... i did all that because not only did i know how to refuse politely i actually did not know if a First lady can be NO ed to. i don't know still if they can be even today. Or perhaps i was a gutless junior officer's wife who was also scared like others that if i don't make the top bosses wife happy my husband shall be transferred to a silly non metro where my child's education might become a major problem and life would not be as fine as the metro promises for it to be. Education, Medical facilities, Entertainment, Transportation...all that jazz...

There were these endless dance practices, fashion show practices, Fund Raising, Farewell, Thanksgiving Evening practices...i'd rather restrain from making a list because parties are things that happen at the drop of the hat but who suffers the brunt of it all is the junior officers wives. They, who have toddlers and infants, school going kids, meaning all the youngsters who actually have more than they can handle at the moment. The senior officer wives at best sit in their air-conditioned homes, prepare a song or two but all the hard work, staying away from home, neglecting husband and family, the suffering, trauma and pain of all is borne rather very brilliantly and stoically by the junior officer's wives. Trust me on this, any such function in it's grand finale day is enjoyed eventually but while it is going on in it's preparation stages there is not a single woman who does not complain and crib. That's just another matter no one not a single one can muster enough courage to speak up against all the injustice that they suffer at the hands of the senior officers wives. In between the carpooling creates another hassles of sorts that are not only hilarious but equally pathetic. Junior officer wives are often battered by HOD's if any wife is picked up before or after...
This way or that battering keeps happening because of the SUPER BLOATED EGOS of the wives of the Head Of The Departments too. All relentless...with a never say die attitude so far as egos are concerned.

Not until now this lady from the army has decided to speak up. She is actually speaking on behalf of many others. i sincerely salute her courage. i am with her in her battle. My hands are raised.

Initially when i was flowing with the tide and doing all that singing and dancing i thought it was good for me for not only will i get to learn but i will be rewarded with BLESSINGS of elders in return. But i was wrong.
The motive here is just USE and THROW.

Nobody blesses anyone. Rather i am seeing seniors rather feeling jealous of junior these days. Or else how do you explain all that sizing up that is generally done in social gatherings of a smart junior who walks in and all eyes turn to look at her because she is actually stealing the show with her grace and elan. Or how do you explain that India vs Pakistan seating arrangement in social gatherings where senior ladies seat all bunched up in their high horses and even when they know the junior officer's wives no new junior is introduced to any senior? They won't even indulge in conversations with those they know from ages. They will remain bunched together stealthily eyeing the other party.
The senior officers wives will just pass you by without even nodding or saying a hello. 
How do you explain this?
Some social gathering this...
No wonder then i have developed an intense allergy of some kind for these. i choose Theater, Plays, movies or just plain window shopping instead.

People have become just too depraved in Egos and moreover in their greed for things. All the hidden dormant desires come to the fore when they assume that the time is ripe for them and they make use of it that's all. No blessings are imparted. Juniors are just used. That's the whole truth.
i remember how the same Smiling Buddha in Blue went to her same Secretary's a simple Mangalore family's Dinner party and later made a whole lot of fun in a crowd about the poor junior's cuisine calling it '' Poor Presentation'', ''Tasteless'' and ''Bland''. That junior was her husband's Secretary's wife who in the honor of the Smiling Blue Buddha had prepared all that she knew of her Mangalorean cuisine and had invited us too along with a few others. She and her Secretary to the Top Boss husband had put in a lot of effort into it and i know it because we were friends and we shared recipes. The food was tasty and well thought out only thing it was not a ostentatious display of cutlery and food decoration that this Buddha was used to.
But just a few days later the same lady who was laughed at for her poor cooking skills and simplicity was asked to prepare her special Mangalorean '' Bland Chicken Stew'' and" Dosas" for the whole family once again for the First lady's daughter in law when the daughter in law came visiting and felt like eating authentic Mangalorean cuisine. The food had to be prepared and nicely packed and sent to the BIG BUNGALOW.
How cheap and crass is that !!

That's why i say no one blesses anyone these days even. People are used for personal gain and then the poor one is at best laughed and sniggered at and what to talk of blessing not even efforts are appreciated. Rather simplicity is damned.
Even that day when my friend was sniggered at i writhed in anger and disgust. i had remembered Krishna that day too. i had remembered Him simply because He had snatched and eaten the three morsels of coarse rice that Sudama was hiding out of sheer embarrassment and shame. Krishna had understood that it was an offering lovingly packed by Sudama's wife. He had then showered His pauper friend Sudama with three blessings which took care of Sudama's poverty, homelessness and unemployment for the rest of Sudama's life .

But who remembers those examples set by the Lord anymore. i mean not of the blessings let alone but also of sharing the simple offerings of a friend even.
i wished i had the guts to speak the story...maybe wrap it up like how they coat bitter pills with a sweet coating. i wish ...i wish...

Just because they know they cannot be refused, they put forth these requests which are like polite commands and like i said because one is afraid of so many reasons and wants the top boss to remain happy he or she obliges.
Sad, pathetic it is.

There is a lot of cross cutting , a lot of politics, back biting and as for growth not much of it happens in these organisations. Mine never had book reading, or lectures that are major eye openers. Or even certain drives that can improve the condition of your own locality.
What really happened was competitions of all kinds. Like cooking, vegetable carving, Henna, dance, singing so on and so forth. Which actually gave rise to a lot of unhealthy jealousy.
The aftermath of the entire i could feel was manipulation, personal gains in the form of choice postings and related to that all that sycophancy and genuflection.
Definitely i can't deny there are people who love all that atmosphere. Because the world is full of people who look for shortcuts to success. If by pleasing the boss and his wife it is then so be it. But i was not raised that way.
That is where the buck stops .
Maybe i was raised to be a problem child.
Today however i don't think of that to be a 'Problem' anymore. i suffered maybe because i thought that i was a problem child after all. When others were happy doing it why was i the one to feel so bad about it.
i am relieved today because of an enlightenment that comes with age. No Buddha does it to you but probably your sum total of your own experiences and your own up bringing combined does it to you. A friend had shared this poster on Facebook which says it all and i would love to use it here.

i was raised as a bureaucrat's daughter where i received an entirely different education. My education consisted of the following.
a) Respect all elders irrespective of their post or designation, so even to our staff whom the office gives the designation as 'Peon' i was raised never to address him or her by his stand alone name but add a Jee to it. Thus Heera Jee or Meena Jee....
b) The staff was strictly advised not to do our personal chores, which meant we had to polish our own shoes and carry our own school bags.
d) Official vehicle and stationery strictly not to be used for domestic purposes.
d) It is not proper for any lady to address any man no matter who he might be as 'Sir'. A lady should NEVER sir anybody even if he is the President of America. Mr Obama he would be or Mr President...
c) A lady should be escorted to any social function by her husband/ fiance and that she should not go there alone. Especially to one in which there are drinks and cocktails.
                                                          And the most important,
d) Office matters are dealt and wrapped up in the Secretariat/ Office never to be discussed at home and the wife is never to know anything of what's happening in that office of her husband. She should take care of his food and home and kids. By choice she should remain blissfully ignorant of the postings, designations and all that jazz. She should meet one and all with the same simplicity and clarity with which she meets her neighbors and talk of general affairs. And if there is nothing she can contribute in parties where such talks go on then she should keep quiet and listen the jibber jabber with one ear and filter it out from the other...

Seriously, i saw this and grew up in such a surrounding where i did not see my father use my Ma either as an arm candy for parties nor did he ask her to throw innumerable dinner parties for his bosses. Time bound promotion, his sincerity, hard work, knowledge about his region, it whatever he moved up without having to suck up to anyone. Not even any political big wig. Had he wanted any prized posting, not that i am not aware of . Did he lose out on anything while his colleagues those who did suck up gained i am not sure of. For all i know everybody has their highs and lows. Because i believe that's nature's way. Some amount of sun and some rain all have it in their share. Those who do suck up and those who don't. i mean i read the same newspaper and see the TV news which informs me of these raids that happen to people who have sucked up and made crores and have huge properties and their wives are always seen on page three in the trendiest of clothes holding the wine glasses. So basically my point is there is no need actually to suck up. How far can one go. There comes a point even with all that sucking up that you come down and fall flat. Sensible approach would be to walk head held high where you can look one straight in the eye and talk with conviction.

There's just another point that hurts me actually which i must stress lest it loses it's importance. All this NGO business happening in the various organisations an aping of the army procedure i suppose, i consider it to be a farce. Although Army Officer's Wives Associations are doing commendable community service and i can't deny that. But the problem with copycat ing is that only superficial is copied. If at all you got to copy why can't you look into the sorry plight of the widows of your own organisation ? Or can you claim to have outstanding schools the kinds run by Army officer's wives? No. Truth is Welfare Organisations of all kinds have just mushroomed in all departments. These again are all done with vested interests. Money is made and some amount of that money made donated, pictures taken and then published. It beats the entire essence of this noble gesture of charity where even the left hand should not know what the right hand is giving. No body discusses how that huge amount of money is generated and there is no transparency either of where or how it is spent. Some jiggery pokery is done to show some audit crap which is a known and accepted fact.

Besides charity actually begins at home. What kind of charity calls for ignoring principles, family and then stressing oneself out to do fashion show for the entertainment purpose for an evening get together where booze would flow and men would be a bit loose. i fail to understand this.

Then coming back to my own experience in my own organisation when i was dancing to that tune i had mooted the idea of helping to manage the supervision for bettering some of whatever we could in our spare time of our own.
i had read in Reader's Digest about the Army Officer's wives doing splendid jobs in a specific region of Pakistan and converting that area of theirs where nothing grew into a beautiful colony well landscaped with flowers of all kinds and thus citing that example i had made one suggestion.
This being that crores of rupees are spent in the construction of rest houses for officers who travel on duty. But the maintenance as is with all government department is very poor. i admitted that even when i traveled i preferred to spend money and abstain from using those rest houses myself because the bed sheets stank , the toilets were bad, the TV's/ Ac's in the room would not be functioning and the floors in the room would be having an inch of dust and cobwebs. i had suggested that apart from donating a wheel chair here and a TV there we must as wives take this up and on a roster basis look into the maintenance of the rest houses in our jurisdiction. Maybe just supervise on a weekly basis. Likewise whatever belongs in our purview we must first fix our own home areas first. This was the idea i had mooted but i got no response from those who should have pushed the initiative, taken it up and given it a full monty GO. But that was then when i was dancing to their tunes.

But it still tears my heart apart to see the condition of these rest houses. And not only that but the rest of all that belongs to the Govt. Because what belongs to the Govt actually really is OURS because it is from our own tax money. But who cares who understands. For people own home means, their own private apartment/ bungalow or villa. Anything that belongs to the Govt is not people's is it ?
i have an analysis about why rest houses/ Bungalows are in sorry state of affairs. Only for the Top Bosses visit/stay everything is made spic and span and another magic also happens in these rest houses. The whitest of white fresh towels also suddenly materialize the dearth of which is often seen in these rest houses. That makes the top bosses stay very comfortable. After that the top bosses don't bother so why should anybody. It belongs to the government...govt  rest houses are all like that...haaah...dust...cobwebs... paan spittle...bad towels...
Chalta hai..
In all cases that's how it works. Who ever reaches the top is happy and content to see that his/ her house, his or her life. travel, is comfortable well taken care of. They are just not bothered if it is trickling down to the rest in the chain.
That's why Government property is always poorly maintained. Not unless it is some top official's or a politician's house.

The army lady officer's wife who has spoken up on behalf of so many has raised an issue. But i know it will all be hushed up. As it is this was published in the Comment section of 'The Hindu' and relegated to the 9th page. i just wished it was put on the first page. Perhaps then it would've grabbed the attention of the nation. But there is another thing. She and i might be a tiny minority. The way the world is aiming for short cuts to success who is there to listen to our cries for help which will haplessly be silenced in the party all night party all night at the cost of others din.

One day i am going to be the senior most officer's wife too.
i hope so.
Not unless Krishna takes me out of this messy state of affairs and puts me along side with Him. But O God i am such a sinner and no Meera either so i guess i am going to be one. i shall remember not to utilize the talents of any junior officer's wife for any personal gain not even if she knows how to do a Kerala Mural. Gosh i love that art...and it's so expensive if you have to buy it...

But my prayer at the moment to my Lord is not one but two...
1) This issue which has been raised by the lady... that it be heard by one and all and also believed too and that people should come to their senses and stop this nonsensical NGO ing of this sort once for all. Freedom is the birthright of one and all. Let those who are happy doing it do and the rest should not be punished /penalised/ pulled up/ insulted/ alienated...
2) And Dear Dear Lord Krishna The Savior, when and if i am one such Senior which makes me sit on that Maroon Mercedes don't give me those HORNS. Yeah those invisible horns that perhaps has that spell to size up junior officer wives in the most sad manner and sometimes go to the sorry lengths of ignoring them completely. Krishna you know it... that's why i hate all these parties...where a sad case of seating arrangement is made and you are made to feel ' NOT BELONGING' even when it is supposed to be a social evening and there is nothing absolutely nothing official about it.

But on second thoughts O' Krishna wouldn't it be better if you could actually listen to this song...because it is my song too... not for now and not for this alone but i think for quite some time now...pls's my song too. Help me i can't compose like Meera did...

"Tum suno Tum suno
Tum suno dayal mhaari arjee
Mhaari arjee Mhaari arjee
Suno dayal mhaari arjee
Mhaari arjee Mhaari arjee

Bhavsaagar mein bahee jaat hoon
Kaadho na kaadhoo
Thaari Marjee
Kadhoo na Kadhoo ji
Kadhoo na Kadhoo
Thaari marjee thaari marjee
Mhaari arjee mhaari arjee

Inn sansaar sagga naahin koi (3)
Saanchaa sadaa Girdhar jee
Saancha sadaa Girdhar jee
Mhaari arjee Mhaari arjee (4)
Tum suno dayal...

Maata pitaa aur kutumb kabilon (4)
Sab Matlab kay garjee
Mhaari arjee Mhaari arjee (3)

Meera, Meera, Meera key, Meera key Prabhu Arjee suniya
Charna lagawo tharee marjee
Mhaari arjee Mhaari arjee...''
Tum Suno Suno Re...
Tum Suno Dayal....

Amen !!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Brand New Eyes

It's the start of the week and i will want to start with the letter A.
A stands for APPRECIATION.

i guess once you become a shutter bug you learn to appreciate better. And in this i would be a fake if i don't give due credits to my tutor Mr Jyotirmoy Das of Delhi School of Photography for bringing it on me not with full force but rather as a matter of fact ly . When i had no idea about the gadget or anything and when i was a point and shoot cybershot woman he was the one who patiently taught an ignoramus like me not to be afraid to shoot manually apart from teaching me the three most important cornerstones of photography for beginners and everybody else. Yeah basically , The Aperture, The Shutter Speed  and The ISO.

Telling the truth is not only painful and but quite embarrassing too but i will speak it. Fact is that i am almost six months old now when i was in my beginner's class for two weeks but still grappling with those three corner stones and they feel like major issues to me each time i pick up my DSLR and thus i improvise each and every time. i have decided to carry on with the rest of the learning on my own not getting flabbergasted with that chart half of which i never seem to remember correctly and it makes me so nervous that i start steaming so much that the viewfinder becomes foggy with my breath. So just like everybody else does it i too am now doing it all by the time tested trial and error method. Those three and all those lectures in that 2 weeks of theory class, can't say i remember them all but some of it has stayed and they sure do help yet some are like etched into the brain.
i hear him speaking...i see him...tall, elegant, gym worked out slender frame standing in front of the class , his muffler carelessly wrapped around his neck, and from behind his spectacles his eyes looking straight into my eyes telling me, '' You have to show what the eyes would've missed seeing... "

i think i am crazy about photographers...for their eyes see what we normal non photographer mortals don't. A bird as common as crow then becomes novel, original, fresh, firsthand, contemporary, unfamiliar, additional, just starting out...
Sometimes words won't suffice and other times you have one specific word for the picture.
But the best aspect that i love about photographers and the art of photography is how they teach you to appreciate the mundane and then go for it. Keep trying for that, ' Out of the box' shot, a picture which is worth a thousand words.
Thus photography as a passion/ career/ hobby is great because it not only teaches the art of seeing things in a new perspective but also to appreciate what is.
i must admit though that it was the desire to use my own pictures for blogging that i took up photography. Seriously, because neither did i have it as a hobby earlier nor do i remember of me having any passion for it. i am at the moment just learning to focus then and focus well and clear as what i am seeing or how and what i am seeing and thus through my pictures what i would love to make others see as well .

Thus it happened with me.
Although i love nature i had not fully appreciated the beauty of this particular plant because i was seeing it in plenty around me. Just like plain common grass. It could be that maybe excess of anything for that matter does not bring worthiness nor honor.  Well the adage was used for love but it can be applied to anything and everything. However in Economics we have a great principle which puts this across with the help of figures and diagrams. The Law Of Diminishing Returns. Well, Whatever...

Not until i came upon this picture. It was posted by someone and i hope that someone would not mind me using it as a reference here. i have forgotten the URL from where i had copied and saved it. And although i can search it which i will later and post it as giving due credits to the master of this brilliant shot i was in a hurry to do my Monday post because i did not want my thought to become a memory of words that i can't retrieve. It happens, you know when you are in the mood to do it, you just do it that way right then. Next time the same sincerity of words might elude you and even your own thought process may be roaming elsewhere. It might've hitched itself to another star. Today my star is my Sir and his teaching. He gave me my brand new eyes !!
And with that i see everything as new...novel...firsthand...unfamiliar...original...
That...about the sight ...about appreciating the mundane and the most common ...
Definitely this picture was like a catalyst to all of Sir's teaching to me. As i looked into into it Sir's words made real sense. " OMG...the flower is so pretty! ",  i said to myself ," How could i not notice it before???"
Had it not been for this picture i would've never stopped to look at the tiny blooms that appear occasionally in this rambling ground cover bush called Purple Hearts. Yesterday as i went for my walk i was taking in the beauty of all that the season had in store for me. The skies looks overwhelmingly beautiful with the profuse blooms of Crepe Myrtles both pink and white against the azure/ blue/  background. The intermediate earth of that between the ground and the skies lush in their greenery with clusters of scarlet and vermilion blooms of Peregrina ( Jatropha integerimma) and the Firebush the name of which says it all of Hamelia patens, the Oleanders pink ,white and yellow, the Hibiscus scarlet, white and hybrid blooms of breathtaking colors... . Then as the eyes gradually move below in rhythm and harmony what do i see apart from the usual striking green and yellow foliage of the Duranta hedges ...
Purple Hearts here, Purple Hearts there and yes they were in bloom everywhere.
Had it not been for this particular picture i would not have halted my walk, bent down rather squatted on the ground to admire the pure pristine beauty of the tiny blooms. Noticed the three petaled lilac flower the tips of which had the purest white like a fairy had left her speck of fairy dust carefully on each one of them choosing just the right median tip spot.

Purple Hearts are succulents that grow vigorously and require very little maintenance. Although they look attractive because of their deep purple foliage they are not in bloom always. But even without the blooms they look attractive provided one is not bored of it's too many of it factor and has used it along with some contrasting foliage plants. Mostly because of it's vigorous growth people get fed up and start removing them not unless winter sets in for then the plant itself dies out. The blooms appear now and then but they are tiny.

tradescantia pallida, purple heart plant

Tradescantia pallida 

Also known as Setcreasea pallida

There was no way i could match the talent of the master who made me stop and look to see the beauty of my favorite color tiny flower which also had white dots on the tips of the three petals but i tried my exercise in photography inspired by that master shot remembering what Jyotirmoy Sir was telling me to do. So here is my that i saw them...and then the shots i took...but before i leave i must say the one i found most alluring of them all was that one which i thought was reaching out to the world with it's loudest HELLLOOUW !!...behind a netted veil.
The netted plastic which was supposed to protect it from God alone knows what...and for a moment i had that desire to bring it's face out of that veil...but then i controlled myself. Lest my mere touch should damage the pure pristine skin of this tiny cutie, hearty, lilakie, beauty.

Before i quit i want to say a bit more. Much that i want my tutor to see this post of mine i am not sure if he is following my work for he all he would know and i have told him so that i will be sincere in my commitment towards my gadget and my learning and that i shall do my exercise on a regular basis. For this reason although i am much against all this postings on facebook where much is done mainly for self promotion and less for real learning i have been posting some of my nature pictures on facebook for him to see. He is there...and so is his Institute informing me of all the gala strides the students in the advanced course are making. i wish them well and feel amazed at all the work that i see. Feel proud too that i know the person behind all that work and in my heart i wish him more and more success.

As for me i am just too grateful to my tutor. He has no idea what he did for me...his golden words...right from the names that dropped like hail on my bald of photography knowledge head. Of Henry Cartier Bresson to Steve Mc Curry and his various anecdotes on photo shoots did to me. 
He, more than teaching me basics taught me to appreciate the mundane and see what i was not seeing before.
And for that too i am extremely grateful and highly indebted to him. i don't have better words to express but yes there was just another thing a hunch i have about photographers which i did not ask him although i wanted to. Do they ( Photographers) look right inside you...for when i see some pictures i am able to feel that, sense that.
Now that sometimes scares me because i wouldn't want anyone to look right inside me but just me and my own soul should know me that well. No one should be able to decipher me completely. Maybe a photographer can bring out the best aspect of my personality and i am okay with that...i guess i want to be like that enigma wrapped in a mystery kinda person. Point is can i be the one...hahahaha that is one aspect i need to work on. Till then...have a good purposeful week. Will be back with more and i hope Jyotirmoy Sir you are able to recieve my sincere gratitude...Thank You So Much.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Pomegranate Tree

Well my post was meant to be basically pictures. An exercise i do each day to get better in my photography skills. This morning as i walked into my garden i decided on my subject instantaneously because something just shone at me with all it's gloss and shine. Besides all that gloss and shine was bringing the pent up to the fore. Perhaps this time my exercise was making me think hard on the how's and why's of what was irking me even more because the subject of my exercise was taking me to the most traumatic experience in anybody's life...sexual assault...rape...

Thus the post title. But i can't hide the fact that a particular story was going on inside me. The title is actually a title of a sub story of that big story. My subject reverberates throughout that story by Khaled Hosseini.

It could be because yesterday perchance i caught yet another episode of Saavdhan India which featured yet another case of sexual abuse of a small boy...a nine year old boy. This time the culprit being a WOMAN. And i kept thinking how was she deriving pleasure by assaulting a nine year old boy.
And more than that i was angry with his parents was not heeding at all his pleas of not going to ' Kaamna Aunty's ' while they were busy in their careers. Busy minting money. i was angry very very angry." **** Parents!!", i kept cursing...the entire evening and i slept through with it all in anger. Thought when i'd wake up next morn i would've got over with it but not so. True it is they say, one should never go off to sleep feeling angry. It carries forward the next day.

What do they say about the color red...color of passion...well it is also the color of danger...and  anger too. Just one letter...and yet we have two words.
i was angry when i walked into my garden and i had to do my exercise...which is precisely what i did because i did not not what more i could do.
Yeah and i can also blog about my feelings...who knows perhaps like a butterfly fluttering it's wings somewhere and creating an avalanche my feelings might create an avalanche of feelings too.
Feelings that perhaps has become dormant if not dead i hope.

The color of my exercise was is also red...of the Anaar or Bedana as they call Pomegranate in Hindi and normally i would've or rather should've dwelled/ drowned in the beauty of the flower that looked like a cute tissue paper lantern hung there and probably had i been in one of my happier moods i would've focused my lenses this way and that way in getting pictures of those blossoms in a variety of poses but mood was that other red today...of anger that brings in the helplessness and moistness which in a way makes all lenses hazy and blurred and through it all you don't see beauty. You only see pain of being alive in this bad bad world.
At this moment i was thinking of taking a loudspeaker and roaming the streets telling one all..'' APOCALYPSE NOW '' ...'' STOP MAKING BABIES''...
''When will YOU come ??? When? See now even the Women have started will YOU COME ...O' LORD...'', Khachak !! ( no.1)
Ordinarily i would've loved to watch the tree and it's numerous blossoms, would've tried taking many pictures of those lovely blossoms. And the day was appropriate too. Tuesday...the color fit for Tuesday according to Hindu mythology but i was preoccupied in my burning anger.
Whatever i was seeing of the tree or of the blossom, even the remnants on the ground was taking me to Hassan and Amir.. The bromance..., which too looked fiery red to burning charcoal...
Khachak (no.2)

Then Amir's guilt at his own cowardice, his jealousy...the parting...the injustice... rape...blood...pain...a happy childhood damaged...a boy limping..a beautiful friendship broken...
Khachak (no.3)

What if depraved had let Hassan be...they would've seen seasons together...matured together...perhaps like the twin fruits here that are going great guns...
Khachack (no.4)
Also my anger/ frustration was getting aggravated more with nine year old Rahul's anger, tears and his fears at the mere mention of Kaamna Aunty...a childhood lost forever. That Woman...Kaamna...ironical she was the childless neighbor who in the garb of babysitting was deriving sexual pleasure from this nine year old boy.
The mother happy in her career, promotion and travels was least bothered with those bruises that she saw in her own child's body...
C'mon even unsuspecting of sexual abuse what kind of a mother would tolerate someone from hitting her own child in such a manner...i am saying this because it is quite disbelieving almost like next to impossible that a WOMAN CAN ALSO SEXUALLY MOLEST.
More than Kaamna the sex starved woman i am angry with Rahul's mom.

...enough of Khachacks  and i could not do my exercise anymore...

What's wrong with our society. What's wrong with our women ? And yes i don't understand women emancipation if it means all this. Will someone make me understand why education means that even when life is comfortable women have to work leaving children behind at the mercy of someone? Education...economic independence...emancipation...freedom. Is this how it works then ?
Well if freedom from responsibilities is what is emancipation then are children actually needed then?
Crux of the matter is children till they can fend for themselves ARE responsibilities.
And it depends now...yeah sorry to say this today that once considered blessings from God it depends on how women today view children to be.
Blessings or responsibilities.
Ask a woman who can't bear a child and she might...but then Kaanma was one such.
Ask a career oriented woman and she will think twice before answering...and later when she answers she will fumble...diplomatically of course...

Today through my blog i have to say this to all the educated women who bring forth babies but have forgotten the very essence of motherhood. Be the goddamned President or CEO of whatever company you are working in but if you think you can't take care of your own child then for Heaven sake don't bring forth babies. Just to prove to your husband/ family and maybe to your own self that you are fertile don't have a baby and then decide to leave it at the mercy of an aayyah or babysitter or anyone for that matter.

i even detest the idea of Mother in law or Moms taking care of babies. Why should they i ask. Haven't they done enough?
As it is that senior citizens are denied the care that they deserve which is analogous to the care that we give to our babies.
To top it all it has become a trend that our smart ladies working or non working today prefer to deliver babies and then dump them on Moms or MIL's and themselves roam around with freedom shirking their prime responsibility. And for what? Status for many, freedom and fun for some at the cost of their parents and maybe sheer nonchalance for yet others. To them i say...decide first.
You can have all that you want without having the baby too.
Don't be a hypocrite double faced janus.

The disease that has inflicted the world i know is not one but is of getting more and more MONEY and the other is of TIME. There is no time for what matters the most. There is sufficient time for acquiring stuff but no time to take care. We accumulate money to buy CARE but the point is can Care really be bought.
The Office going ladies and the other ladies at home wake up!!!
You are going to office today or enjoying a particular lifestyle today because you had someone to take care of your own needs yesterday. Now it's your turn and i guess you are falling short in this responsibility of yours.
Fine if you can't then it's perfectly okay. Don't deliver more babies to dump them on someone. You better wake up to that.!!! Or else,
Take up jobs/ adopt a lifestyle that gives you a balanced family life. Some good time in which you don't have to thrust the responsibility of your own duties towards your own child on anyone.
i know grandparents don't mind helping out but is it fair on your part to do that ?  When it's their time after having gone through with their responsibilities all their life to be taken care of they are thrown with a new batch. Is it fair ?
i personally know many stories of parents being called to US and UK not to see the world but do just that. Of late even living in the same country parents are often called in to pitch in because the daughter is finding it quite difficult to manage her baby and other chores.
Pathetic it is to hear the tales of some parents when with moist eyes they relate their harrowing experiences. i have not heard a single one laced with fondness or love. Rather these tales have been of back breaking slogging that left the poor senior citizens gasping for a breath of fresh free air and longing for the bare comfort their own homes instead when the daughter and son in law were away at work and they had to manage everything, the baby and the rest of the housework in a foreign land sans domestic help.

It was shocking to hear it coming out from one none other than a top officer in the Railways...that too a General Manager. i still remember what he had said, " We were like unpaid servants wifey is getting the jitters as her daughter is pregnant again. She is refusing to go to the US so we have excused ourselves on Skype citing wifey's backache to be a bad one..."
i do understand that many a time the woman has to work to supplement the family's income but this example i have cited was one such where income was not at all a major issue.

i am also talking of ladies who choose career over family. To them i say fine, it's your life and maybe you've worked hard to cut across so many boundaries and come so far to this position where you are and in your life all this recognition, achievement is no joke and you get to live it once. Do what gives you happiness. But choose one goal clearly. If you think you cannot take care of a child given the nature of your job then isn't it advisable not to have one. Or maybe have one when you can manage all that sufficient time to take care of both.
What's the use then bringing one and then having him/ her raped, abused, molested, assaulted and scarred for life.
As far as babysitters go...Kaamna story is one of the many happening daily besides newspapers are replete with other sad tales of what the so called aayaahs do to helpless babies while no one is there to watch. Please consider this as a request and wake up girls...before it is too late.

There is too much rage already and i shiver to think of all these babies growing up to become some another sore in the society. Bereft of the care, attention and time of their parents. Probably they can be like one of those money vending machines but without any values and virtues of their own. Because values and virtues are instilled at home. It comes from parents.
What would be the intensity of the rage that might be building up? Well it sure is making it's presence felt in all forms among our young ones today. The recent news of a premier institution child which went viral within minutes after it happened on the school playground had parents in shock in Delhi and rushing to the institution and blaming this and that for what had happened . When as a matter of fact half the time it is bad parenting or no parenting at all which is responsible.  i don't think any institution teaches abuse or molestation.
Dissatisfied, ignored, abused what kind of world citizens will our children grow up to be tomorrow i shudder to think.

i am not finished. i am angry with the whole scenario these days. Sometimes i think if education has corrupted us then we were not better off sans knowing how to read or write. Let me explain why i am saying this by narrating a true incident.
A few years back i was invited by a friend to Mumbai to be with her at her house for a couple of days because she had paid me a visit to Chennai when i was stationed there. i waited for my son's vacation and thus when the vacation started i did as she had wished. Moreover i was excited too because she was my best friend from school and after school our reunion had happened after a gap of ten years or so.
Childhood is pure. Best friendships at least as a concept originate then. That's what we feel then like Amir and Hassan.  But then we grow up and then the myth is busted. But even when the myth is busted about this concept called friendship one always wants to nurture the pure thought because there is happiness in that pure thought about a true friendship even though in real life it is quite rare.

Just like me she too had just one son who was a few years younger than my own son. Perhaps going to kindergarten. What i noticed in those two days was difficult for me to digest. Right from when the child would wake up in the morning till night when the he was put to bed that poor boy was at the mercy of a servant boy named Kailash. Now Kailash might be one of her trusted servants i wouldn't care less but it sure did trouble me to see no sign of any motherly instincts in my friend. The child was a bit older than a toddler but i did not see her behave like a mom. Rather she was more like a hostel warden giving instructions to Kailash and pushing off. What was strange to me was the fact that she was not a working woman either. The entire day she sat in the balcony of her Bandra house roving the net especially that page called Facebook and she called it ' Networking'. What was scaring me enough to make me feel very uncomfortable was that she seemed to be a strict disciplinarian.
Out of boredom because her child would not play outside my son asked me if he could watch Mega Cat City the cartoon on TV she intervened and suggested to my son, '' You should not watch TV, rather you should read story books..."
She never cooked either. Just sat there with her laptop open 24 hrs having umpteen cups of tea in between getting up for her lunch and dinner of course.
i had to witness other weird extremely hurtful aspects as well and as a result i scooted from there making false excuses much before my assigned time of departure vowing never to stay at a friend's place ever. Maybe one day i might muster the courage to narrate it all but at the moment i can only say maybe your friend may be weird /acidic or even strict disciplinarian and you might also discover that she might be suffering with some kind of OCD but might not try nasty things with you but you have no clue what the man she is staying with could be like. From all you know he could be the number one womanizer or a perv, a lech who thinks it's his birth right over every woman he comes across.
Seriously i suggest to all ladies to exercise caution before jumping feet first into any such invites. Especially if it is a friend's man and you have never met the man before and you are travelling alone without your husband/ protector.
i reached home intact unblemished and thanked my Guarding Angels from protecting me. Was feeling bad for my little one though who was hardly in his fourth grade. What if...
Those two days i noticed that for a small child that my friend's boy was he was quite subdued and timid and to me he seemed rather dull for his age. Meaning honestly he lacked the innocent joi de vivre that kids his age generally have and seemed different from other kids his age. Coming back home i could figure out the reasons why the chirpiness, ebullience, the free laughter of a child was lacking in him. He just kept sitting in his assigned place and didn't play around like other kids his age. He read as his mother said, sat with Kailash as his mother instructed. Everything was done as per his mother's instruction...the child's free will was not allowed in that house.
Apologies i digressed but this trend of women of letters staying away from kitchen, not caring for kids, getting someone, an outsider a paid one, to do it all...right from waking the child to washing to taking him to school and then the same procedure after the child returns from school... this trend has become quite common these days. i wonder if that too has become a STATUS SYMBOL. And the reason they give is a joke. They say they are making the child ' INDEPENDENT'.
i saw no such independence in that particular child. To me he appeared just plain 'SAD'.

Especially among Indian educated women this trend has caught on. This joke about staying away from one's own responsibilities in the garb of making the child independent. What is prompting/ promoting all this...can't blame it on TV.
At the moment the only word that comes to my mind is that word 'SHIRK' .
Can't seem to figure out anything else.

Each one of us when we close our eyes or even with our eyes open, when we go down memory lane what do we see. We see a mother who washed, cleaned, cooked, kept the house proper and family together and when required woke up nights with us. Whether it was when we were sick or when we had our exams. All this despite her other duties to help us reach where we are today. Let us be very honest about that. Today when it's our turn why do we shirk from doing what we once received.
Since when did home and home related work become something for which we need to disturb our biological cycles to get one paid one to do all that. Yeah there are women from comfortable households working for Call Centers because they hate to stay at home and cook. i don't have any problems with keeping a help an assistant when you are around but leaving a helpless child on someone i definitely have a problem with that.

My friend...that friend is supposed to be a poet...a woman of letters. But trust me i have never met anyone in my life who fits the description of a ' Blue Jasmine' as she. Blue Jasmine is a term i have coined after that movie of the same name for friends who are phony, opportunists/ gold diggers and will look the other way in times of moral crisis because it is fine for them as they are okay with that situation because it suits them fine. i know one day she will be left out lonely and dejected, rejected also by that single child of hers but i am wondering how did she come to be that way because she had such a loving and caring mother and got the best of education. Today through common friends i have come to know that her lech of a man has left her for some other woman and now they are both separated although he has allowed the child to be with her and is paying her a good amount of alimony. Initially she tweeted nasty stuff for people calling them ' Holier than thou cows'. These were people who tried to drop in some sense into her when there was still time and i guess i was included in that Holier than thou crowd but i wouldn't care . Has she mended her ways is my only concern.
Because there is another word that is dropped like a bomb these days. People keep telling you...Don't be judgmental. i have known her since childhood. i tried in my own way to tell her about the joys of motherhood by narrating my happiness. About the simple pleasures of life but what did i get in return. She took me to a celebrity party and ridiculed my motherhood in front of strangers. i ran from there in tears. Not because i couldn't defend myself or anything but she used my little one's name...she mentioned my 'precious' and i couldn't bear that. As if by cooking for my child and taking care i was making him not fit for the society but she who spent the entire night there leaving her son with Kailash was doing a great job. She brought it all up just like that in a celebrity theme party God alone knows why.
This trend...this complex...this sickness how is this all happening. All that is good and glorious is being decried upon and all that is nonsense and quite dangerous is being taken up for grabs and specially among us educated learned Indian women. Why???
Why are we always eager for what is not right. Aping blindly without any sense of propriety what has already been falsified and proved wrong.
Which brings me back to my education, emancipation, freedom... whatever, taking the womanhood...Indian Womanhood out of us???
i need answer friends and it would help to know your perspective.

The only words that gave me solace in my anger was this query from one Ms Anita who was asking Mr Sharath on Radio Fever that she is going to be a mother soon but she is also in a very good job. She is facing dilemma as to what she should do.
i was happy to hear what Mr Sharath had to say because in his words i was hearing echoes of mine. He said and i cannot quote but can provide a gist of what he said but in his classic style by narrating the story of a scenario of a classroom where kids were asked what their Moms were meaning if their mothers were oursuing careers the kids had to talk about that . All kids gave their answers quickly of their Moms jobs and then finally it was this shy cute little girl who said her mother was a cook, a driver, a teacher, a cleaner, a storyteller, a joker. a magician, a doctor, a plumber, a postman.... This girl's Mom was a home maker and yet the child a small child could sense her to be a supermom of some sort while others had just gone on to specify in a word or two that their mom was a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer.... That was the difference.
The teacher was very impressed and brought her forward and asked her how that could be possible and the little girl innocently explained everything her Mom did for her which encompassed the whole gamut of motherhood in the true sense of the term .
So after the story this is what Mr Sharath suggested to Anita, that if her life is comfortable enough she should take a break and give her baby her TIME and attention because that was the most important for any child. He narrated another story which explained why people work. People work to earn money so that they can give their kids the best. True. But the best gift any child can receive from parents is Time and attention he said. Thus another true story.
A upwardly mobile couple with a child had to attend a conference in a five star hotel. They went there along with their child  taking his babysitter too so that while they attended the conference the child could be looked after and would not be alone. Money was no issue so they paid and got one private suite room allotted for their child. The room was stacked well with all the best goodies the boy preferred . An assortment of chocolate, biscuits, cookies, cakes, shakes and not only that matching with these times, the best video games and cartoons. After settling the child there the parents left the child there with the babysitter to look after him. After his parents left the boy ate this and that, played with some stuff then became cranky. The babysitter tried all his tricks to shush him, pacify him but the child was relentless and after sometime started bowling over wildly for his mama. Finally mama had to be called for and just the mere sight of his mother he calmed down, dropped all his tantrums and stopped crying.  After a while in her arms he went off to sleep. Nothing, nothing in this world can compare to the presence of a mother. That is what every child needs. It's an old one and we all know it but i bring it here again, " God could not be everywhere, that's why He created Mothers." Mother also spells protection, security, comfort. Money can probably buy X Box and Play Stations and all the best brands of imported chocolates. It can't buy genuine love and time and time from their parents is what every child needs. Unfortunately nowadays right from the time they are toddlers they are left to be on their own and after some time they too start rejecting their parents. Then that blame game starts.

Coming back to Saavdhan India...nine year old Rahul Kapoor...why was it so difficult for his mother to understand...
How can one not understand the pleas of mercy of her own child?
Nowadays mothers don't have the time to listen...
i don't understand this trend...
Hassan in the Kite Runner was raped by his own kind because he was a poor boy and his friend was a coward. But Rahul was raped because of his parents nonchalance...especially his mother's. He made umpteen pleas to her but she just would not listen to her own child. She was just too self centered about her job, her promotion and her travels. i just can't imagine each day she would leave her child to be with a molestor and was not caring for the changes that she was seeing in that poor child. His sincere attempts to do all the housework to prove to his mother that he can take care of himself and does not need a babysitter. That Kaamna Aunty. i kept crying...and she was his mom...why couldn't she feel anything...

Yeah just one last one before i quit...

i need friends to talk to me...unfortunately none of my real friends are really interested. i can thus only ask you my blogdosts...