Thursday, June 23, 2011

These are a few of my favourite things

Sharing a few of my favourite things.
Kerala, Goa, Capri,
My favourite hotspots.
It is my dream
to live in a house
near the beach, white picket fence et al
with squirrels scurrying in and out.
( Squirrels on a beach, do they really exist?
Who cares, they do in my dream!)
Reading my favourite book
- Gone with the wind
Sipping coffee, Starbucks preferably
perched on a hammock
under a huge shady tree.
( Shady tree on a beach!!)
Or maybe solving word puzzles
Scrabble, Hangman and Codeword
on the perch of my bookshop
- The Children's Bookshop.
And guess what,
it begins to rain.
Bringing with it the smell of wet mud,
the cool showery watery breeze,
the sound of dripping raindrops,
the fresh clean-looking leaves,
the promise of samosas and pakoras, bhuttas and garma-garam idlis.
Drizzling, drenching, pouring
totally invigorating.
Sometimes it may rain enough
to create a waterfall in the hills afar.
Paintbrush in hand,
I will try and capture it all,
Rains, waterfall, squirrels, books, hammock and children so small.
Or sometimes, the Sun may come out
colouring the sky in hues pink and blue.
Bringing with it a rainbow,
vibrant, subtle and new.
That's the vision of my idyllic dream
Coffee and colours, children and books, peace and bliss.
A song in the background
'These are a few of my favourite things'.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My grey look

Pretty early in life, my hair started turning grey. I was not averse to keeping it that way, but people around me ( not my husband and children) objected vociferously. I gave in and started getting my hair coloured. The monthly trips to the beauty parlour to get this chore completed were a drag. The chemicals and unhygienic conditions that I subjected my hair to were strongly resented. I hated the self-imposed pressure to visit the parlour once the grey roots had started making their appearance. And worst of all was making a beeline for the parlour just before a family function or party. It seemed extremely important to conceal the fact that one's hair had greyed prematurely. So presenting one's best dyed self was de rigeur.
Truth be told, I did enjoy receiving compliments on my 'young' looks. I even experimented with streaking my hair to a shade of burgundy. My husband enjoyed it when people asked him if I were his daughter. I could only gape open-mouthed at the poor vision of those people.
I enjoyed the comments for a few years. But only till my children grew taller than me and my son started sprouting facial hair. It no longer pleased me when people said, "Oh you don't look like you have such grown-up children".Then one day I realised that I was actually waiting for that comment from the person to whom I had been introduced two minutes back. And that I was disappointed when the comment did not come. That was the wake up call for me. It dawned on me that I had turned into a vain pretentious middle-aged woman, taking her 'young' looks for granted and hooked to people's comments on her physical appearance.
And since that day I have become a member of the 'Glad to be grey' club. I have stopped visiting the parlour for the hateful chore of colouring my hair. I now feel a total sense of freedom. No pressure at all. I proudly carry my speedily-turning grey pate to family functions, weddings and parties. The whole experience is new and I am still enjoying the journey. There are days when I am not so happy looking at myself in the mirror. The other day I was looking at some old photographs and the thought did pass my mind that may be I could have waited a few more years before going au naturel. But I am surely not reverting to the old bad habits. Right now I am motivated by the thought that I am among the few women courageous enough to go against a trend. I smile in solidarity when I pass by elegant-looking women sporting smart grey-haired bobs.
I get mixed comments from near and dear ones. Some people are inspired by my courage.Others say I should have waited till after my daughter's marriage (missing the logic here). Most do not know what to make of it and how to react. I got the sweetest compliment from my aged neighbour who thought I still looked young despite my grey hair.
All this 'business of beauty' does bring several thoughts to my mind.
Why do we women do this to ourselves? Why is it so important for us to 'be with it'? We put ourselves through this immense pressure to look good 24x7. We cannot step out of the house till our eyebrows are shaped, facial hair is bleached, hair on the head is dyed, hair on the arms and legs is waxed and hair in the underarms shaved. We look with disdain at fellow women who choose to stay natural, not interfere with the hair in various areas of their bodies. I would just wish for more celebrities to display the courage of Julia Roberts and not be shy of waving at award ceremonies with the hair in their underarms clearly visible. That would be the day for all of us!
The range of commodities on offer for us has only increased with time. Services now target not just skin-deep beauty, but threaten to alter our basic god-given gifts also. So we now have breast augmentation, lipo suction, laser removal of unwanted hair, lightening of skin colour etc.. "Don't like your thin lips? Voila, we can make them fuller", "Your boyfriend likes Angelina Jolie's pout? We can give you one. He will no longer look at Jolie". Ridiculous!!
Do we want to be so fickle-minded and make commodities of ourselves, neatly-packaged gifts to be offered to the guys? Our self-worth cannot be decided by our physical appearance. We do have more substance than that, in our brains that is! Let us show our mettle by our work, our mental strength, our sensitivity, our intelligence and above all by our honesty. Stop being vain. Be natural. Acchha hai.

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's only words

The Bee Gees sang 'It's only words and words are all I have to take your heart away'.
Their song talks about the power of seemingly inanimate words. According to them words are all that one needs to win hearts.
Taking their premise further, the might of words can be put to a lot of good. A pauper can achieve all that he wants through the strength of words alone. A student can top exams by using the right words. An employee can get out of a tight spot by speaking placatory words. Wars can be won solely by the intelligent use of words.
Amazing, isn't that a vision to die for! No use of arms and arms, but people only talking to each other to resolve their inter-personal conflicts. Protesters engaging in talks with the government; Israelis and Palestinians using words to resolve their centuries-old land issues; the governments of Pakistan and India dialoging with each other; Americans in talks with Al Qaeda terrorists. The world would be so peaceful and simple.
If words yield a power greater than arms and weapons, why then do talks fail? What is missing in the communication between the concerned parties?
Words are words. They mean nothing unless accompanied with a thought force. One may be greeted "Good-morning"by a colleague and be left totally untouched in every way. On the other hand another colleague can infuse you with energy by his greeting and you may actually believe that he wishes you to have a good morning. He has communicated more than just a routine "Good-morning". His wish has the power and aspiration to indeed make your morning good.
Words are just the external form, the covering to our thoughts. Words are secondary to achieving an effective communication. The greater, stronger, more precise and clear the thought force, the more the chance of being understood by people who are able to receive that force. On several occasions one experiences a telepathy with certain people, where the spoken word is entirely inconsequential. The exchange with these special persons is possible just by thinking a particular thought and it seems to be conveyed. On the other hand there may be people with whom one could be using a plethora of words and still get the feeling of not being understood. The thought force behind the words does not enter the consciousness of this listener at all, leading to the gap in communication.
Words being words are open to various interpretations. When an understanding of the communication is derived only from the form of the words used, it can lead to misinterpretation and confusion. I may be accustomed to use a word in a certain fashion and with a certain meaning, while the other person may add his own interpretation or significance to it, obviously leading to a breakdown in talks. Drawing an analogy between clothes and words- just as we use clothes to dress ourselves up, words are used to dress up our thoughts. Just as one can use different colours, textures and types of clothes for dressing; one uses different words, languages and intonations to express thoughts. Judging a person by his clothes alone can be as misleading as judging a thought just by the words used to cover it up.
So, that's it. Finally, it's only words. Your tools. To be used as you wish. You can add power to them by the force of your thoughts. Bring about happiness and calm with the force of positive thoughts. Or cause mayhem by using negative thoughts to carry them. Or you can choose to communicate by not using them at all. Conveying thoughts wordlessly. Using precise words to convey a clear thought. Looking for the thought behind the spoken word.
Or like me, you can use words to write a blog and convey your thoughts.
( The idea for this post originated from a conversation with my daughter. She shared that when she was small she felt that the words and names she used for objects were her own. This led to a discussion about how all conversation between people was subjective and depended on the vocabulary, understanding, expressiveness, listening skills of the people involved).