Monday, March 25, 2013

Rebuilding humanity

Being posted for  http://www.isb.edu/idiya/

Violence, apathy, harassment, discrimination, abandonment, abuse –  between those headings we could cover most of the manifestations of “social causes” that need attention in today’s world. In a world filled with heterogeneity, it is so easy for us to allocate the root cause of these manifestations to inequalities in social, economic or political status. Little do we pay attention to the fact that there is one common thread to all of this – an increasing intolerance to another's point of view, or their right to be different from one's self

So you want me to pick a cause? I pick the need to inculcate humane-ness that imbibes and celebrates differences in a manner that the need to harm is abolished and replaced with a need to understand and reach out.

Intuitively, our proposed solutions to issues would lie in rule and law based adherence to principles based on fear of punishment. There is no denying the need for stricter laws and uncompromising implementation of those laws, makes for a better society. But look a little deeper and we realize  that laws cannot in itself make up for the lack of humanity in the society at large. There is a need to address fundamental attitudes, self-awareness and to harness emotional surges driven by macabre environmental stimuli. The training of our thought processes to let the human self to take precedence over our animal self, is like cycling – reflexive and remembered for life.

Brain research has long known that adolescence is the time of life when the sense of “self” takes shape and the development connections between reflexive, self-protective self and the communal, empathetic, rational self occurs. For most of us grown-ups it is not hard to point out that phase as the confusion ridden, grappling-with-the greys-of-the-world time where most of our opinions were shaped by parents and the larger environment.

Tying-up those two premises discussed above, arrives at a simple concept of providing adolescent counseling across all schools (or another place of adolescent conglomeration), spanning socio-economic classes and locations. When children are nurtured in that transformative phase, given the belief that someone cares, that the changes that they experience are “normal”, that their anger needs management in a productive way, we might have a society of better adults in the future – of parents who can guide their children the best, of teachers of who teach by example, of citizens who uphold laws, of politicians with a conscience, of human beings who want to make the world a better place to live on.

For a result driven rationalist, this may seem too utopic and intangible.  Yes, this is an effort that will not easily lend itself to measuarbililty until after 15 years maybe -and that's not even the beginning of the hurdles for an effort like this. But there are enough publications in scientific journals, of experiences in TED, in white papers of UNICEF and WHO, to show that this has worked in African, Latin American and Carribean countries with high crime rates - for proof if you need it. But more than proof of pre-existent case studies, I commit myself to this cause and will work towards it - simply because I truly believe in the fundamental goodness of people. It may need some coaxing - but it exists…..

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Being remarkable...

My sister, who loves me a bit too much  - tagged me on this note on Facebook.  I assume she meant I was a remarkable woman - I am happy to be perceived this way - after all who does not want to be irresistible even if fictitiously :)

Stepping into another year of my life, I look back and I believe I have "tried" to be all the things that this quote says about being a wonderful woman - but rolling my sexuality, sensibility and sensitivity into a single personality is hard work - for they are all at some level contradictory to each other - its like being a colloidal solution of unmixable things -yet in some incredible way blended like water, protein and fat in milk. Then there is the world that sees a woman in single non-blended dimensions - the ones you sleep with (sexual) , the ones you work with (sensible) and the ones you live with (sensitive). Maybe 2 dimensional complexity is enough for the world to grapple with....but when you try to present a picture of reasonably sound intellect, expressed emotively in a feminine frame - then you are picked apart for the unrealistic person you aspire to be...every dimension is picked at for faults - for you cant be complete...Alas! Ideal engines and ideal people do not exist...especially in a world limited by imagination and the ordinary.....

I concede, I try everyday and most days the best I can do is 2 dimensional. Then there are those days when I am all 3 dimensions and I feel like a Goddess - remarkable and irresistible and I agree I feel like I make  the world a better place by spreading the empowerment I feel.... I will keep trying every day...As narcissistic as this post may sound, I am glad I try and I am blessed for those occasional days that I do succeed...

Thank you Sandhya Manian for thinking of me on such high terms and for making me think... :)


Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Idhu podhum enakku...

After Mani ratnam's beautifully picturized moongil thottam song, the lyrics are giving a high to a lot of romantics..but this is one of my favs from Vairamuthu's collection for a decade or so....and to my disappointment the full version of the poem is not available anywhere in the net...for once I felt it might be worth putting the effort to translate these beautiful lines...so here you go...

Adhikaali oligal,                                              The sounds of early dawn
Aindhu mani paravaigal                                   The 5'o' clock birds
Irutkadhavuthattum sooriya viral                      Sun's fingers knocking the night's door
Palli ezhuchi paadum un  padhakolusu             The anklets on your feet singing out my wakeup call
un kannil vizhikum en kangal                            My eyes waking up to your eyes
Idhu podhum enakku                                      This is all I need...


thaneer poloru venneer                                   The luke warmth of the water
sugandham parappum dhvalai                          The steam rising out and spreading a fragrance around
kuliparaikkul kuttralam                                    a gushing waterfall in the bathing room
naan kulikka nanayum nee                               you getting drenched while i bathe
idhu podhum enakku

veliye mazhai                                                   Rains outside
vedikkai paarkka   jannal                                 windows to gaze at it
ottrai naarakkali                                               A single chair
adhil neeyum naanum                                       and on it, you and me
Idhu podhum enakku                                       This is all I need...

kulathangarai                                                   Bank by the pond
kulikkum paravaigal                                         Bathing birds
siragu ulartha                                                    Drying their wings
therikkum thuligal                                             splashing water
mugam thudaikka un mudhanai                         The end of your saree to dry my face
idhu podhum enakku                                        This is all I need...

Nila ozhugum iravu                                         Moon oozing night
Thisai tholaitha kaadu                                     Directionless forest
ottraiadipaadhai                                              Single mudpath
Unnodu podi nadai                                         A stroll with you
Idhu podhum enakku                                      This is all I need...

Marangal nadungum margazhi                        Winter that makes trees shiver
Ratham uraiyum kulir                                     Cold that makes blood freeze
Ushnam yasikkum udal                                  Body that yearns for heat
ottrai porvai                                                  Single blanket
paraspara veppam                                        our mutual warmth
Idhu podhu enakku                                      This is all I need...

Nila thattu                                                    Moon for a plate
Natchathira soru                                           Stars for rice
Kai kazhuva kadal                                        Sea to wash my hands
Kai thudaikka megam                                   Clouds to dry my hands
Kanavin vizhippil                                          Waking from the dream
kakkathil nee                                                feeling you in my arms
Idhu podhu enakku                                       This is all I need...

Thapovana kudil                                          Hermit's hut
tharai kodhum marangal                               trees that comb the ground
Nondiyadikkum thenral                                Limping breeze
Aarodum osai                                              Sounds of the flowing river
Vasadhukku oonjal                                      A swing for comfort
Vassikka kaaviyam                                     Poetry to read
pakkaadiayalam veikka un koondhal poo    To bookmark, a flower that falls off your tresses
Idhu podhum enakku                                   This is all I need...

Moongil thottam                                         Bamboo gardens
Mooligai vaasam                                        The smell of herbs
Pirambu narkali                                          Cane chair
Prabhanja gnanam                                      A universe of wisdom
Niraindha mounam                                     Fulfilling silence
Nee paadum geetham                                 A song you sing
Idhu podhum enakku                                 This is all I need...


Urchaga parvai                                          looks of excitement
Uyir parattu                                               genuine appreciation
Nalla kavidhai mel                                       on my beautiful poem
Vizhundhu vazhiyum un oru sottu kaneer     a drop of tear that falls and rolls off

Irundhal podhum                                       This is enough
edhu vendum enakku                                 What more do I need???              

Sigh....beautiful!!!! Now I hum moongil thootam and make my way to work :(



Friday, January 04, 2013

A case that shook the collective conscious of the nation?


 Maybe……

We've been bombarded with news of the sexual assault of Dec 2012, portrayed as a national tragedy in India and its hard to ignore it and hard to not let it affect my cynical "so what's new?" attitude....Simply put, its an issue that long swept under the carpet has become too big to be covered up anymore..an issue whose "time has come" so to say...But has it really?  I am seeking answers...trying to piece together our cultural psyche to find solutions...An attempt to apply logic in an emotional situation - its not fool-proof, but its a thought process that has long way to go...

Is sexual transgression even to the extent exhibited in this case, so unheard of in India, that the capital city had to buckle down under protests and the government had to intervene before it ballooned into something bigger?
The obvious answer is no.  Being violated physically is a part of life that we “manage” – groping, lewd comments, lustful staring, a complete disregard for the person within the body and the fear at the back of our mind that makes us palpitate and walk faster in a dark street or a late hour or at the sight of males. I call this not a problem of women; it’s a problem of people – including fathers, husbands and brothers as they watch out for loved ones and their safety. Do we complain? No, its so ingrained  and the fear of violation is a way of life – this dormant fear that we dress up in caution – dress sensibly, don’t hang out late, don’t go alone, be wary of your male friends, and another million precautions every time we step out. Yet children, girls, women are continually molested, raped or violated in some form every single day.

So why such a big furor about this one case? Because all that we had learned to accept and bear with were mild violations. We deluded ourselves that a complete violation of womanhood cannot happen to me because I am cautious and sensible. But this case, woke up that dormant fear in us, screaming out loud that none of my precautions are preventive. It picked the “this could be me” nerve of the middle class…Middle class not classified by an economic strata but by the mentality of “if I stay away from trouble, trouble will not find me….all the injustices are served to those below me and all those above me have the complete right to trespass every law in the country, I just hide in the shadows”…yet it was these people that were driven out of the shadows in the last few weeks. I may sound absolutely demonic stating this, but we needed the callousness, brutality and shock-level of this case, to make us step out….To be ready to be tear gassed and lathi charged, to finally take initiative and actually do something. Someone had to be sacrificed in the altar of an apathetic nation to remind us about our responsibilities and destiny chose this unassuming woman, may she rest in peace.

So it happened, people protested, the media added fuel, and of course social networking set it ablaze,and lastly, lethargically the unconvincing politicians jumped into the fray. But which of us is responsible for taking this to a conclusion? More importantly what is a conclusion?

Castration, death penalty, handover to public –  wilder and violent punishment fantasies abound…but do we believe animal brains can comprehend consequences of actions? Scientifically speaking, acts like in this case are driven by the limbic region of the brain - a portion of our animal instincts that we retained when we evolved out of our ancestors in the jungle. The need to hunt, anything  that threatens my territory and survival at the cost of losing our own life is a part of our brains. Even if well camouflaged within societal settings, in a brain that has not had the opportunity to develop and nurture its more "human" regions, it takes little to unleash that animal within... as in this case, or in the case of shooting in Connecticut and hundreds of thousands of cases in history...

This is not to say laws are not important. A strict law, quick and understanding legal action are paramount to deal with exceptions. But, laws cannot deal with norms. Cultural norms that dictate that woman is asking for rape by being out late or dressing in a clothing of choice or that violating a person physically is the ultimate conquest and revenge of an unyielding persona. Now these norms, sowed into the young in various forms and formats need to be weeded out and the communication between the animal self and the emotional human self needs to be strengthened with a proper understanding of sexuality, self esteem and gender awareness. There is a humongous mismatch between the surging animal self that comes to fore in the teens (as aggression in males and unknown fears in females) and the caging imposed by the society (and therefore the human self) that may balance out or tip into a wrong equilibrium based on environment.How much we do to help our adolescents in our sexually repressed society to achieve that balance is appallingly pathetic.

While laws can be the light at the end of the tunnel, addressing a fundamental attitude change can be the sunrise, even if the horizon is distant......

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The end of the world!




My rational side does not allow me to believe in the possibility of a tangible destruction of this entire physical entity. Who are we kidding? - the world was here before us and it will be here after us, but we as humans have reached a deflection point....My mystical Piscean side keeps wondering whether there is any point in humanity going on, is it not better off being destroyed in one dramatic, cataclysmic stroke of disastrous ending  rather than a belabored, cannibalistic extinction that we are walking closer to each day?

The killing,  the rapes, the wars, the disparities, the politics, the mindless consumerism all pointing towards one fundamental deterioration -  complete obliviousness to another person's time, life,sentiments and possessions.....as circles shrink and people cannot bother to care about anything beyond the closest kith or just one's own self, there is no room for empathy.... Most times, there is a lot of sympathy, but  because  self preservation reigns in utmost supremacy action against inhumanity never ensues...integrity is as extinct as humanity...Maybe we are devolving from humans to some other primal animal form...or we are setting ourselves up for the Earth to open and swallow us all, as described in several Mayan and Indian mythologies....

I am pretty sure, that i am going to be writing a few more posts next year - I just hope I can write more rosy posts of how the human race came together to salvage humanity, to unite in the uniqueness of the human brain, to revel in its precision, creativity and imagination to move forward,  like we used to a few thousand years ago.


On another note, this time of the year, I make myself write in public....writing for me never ceases - aspirations, anger, excitements, pains are all easily bottled up in letters of formaldehyde for eternal preservation...but this is my blog ritual as this space completes 7 years of  existence,  just 8 months younger to Shakthi, my 7.7 yr old daughter...we've all grown together in the last 3 quarters of a decade and its been one that close to my heart and definitive of me as a person.

May the new year be a wonderful one for each of us!!!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Profound...

Some wise person told me once...

" Time can wash out civilizations...but not simple lullabies "

Depth of that statement is baffling!!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fairy Tale

Walking through life,
The princess found a mirror...

Intricate, Beautiful,
Profound, Intellectual,
It showed all she wanted to see.
It held within, all her dreams.
So enthralled was she in its magic,
She forgot the eternal truth -
Dreams intersecting with reality,
Is the clear road sign to
Quicksand beneath the oasis mirage!

Life struck back with vengeance,
Winds of future came swooping down,
Shattering the precious
Scattering shards of memories
Into the future

That future she walked into,
Only,
Only to pick those sparkling shards
Bleeding through her fingers,
Drops of blood undoing life's evil spell,

The past became future
Pieces fell together,
The mirror became real
Happily ever after, it was.

Fairy tales -
It easier to believe, than not :)



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

People come and go...

We are the choices we make
We are also the people in our life

Every person we interact with transacts a part of our personalities with theirs.

Some people take more from us than they leave behind – the indebted
Some others leave more with us than they take – those in whose debt we live in

And then there are those very few in a lifetime..

Who neither give nor take
When the sum is greater than the parts
Where the transaction is not a tangible but an experience
A soul baring trust that’s beyond all else in life
Those who wake up the child in us
Unearthing the real person within us..

Those few may stay or leave,
But the times with them are ever cherished and immortal -
The only ones that you carry to your grave.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Flowers and souls...



The first hibiscus bloomed successfully in my little balcony garden:D

The small things make me ecstatic and the big things really fail to bother me - one of my oxymoronic attributes...

I am here because I wanted to put this thought here...

Beautiful flowers in a vase
Happy smiles of dead souls...
Same difference!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Life is a Gift - with a catch....



Yep..Life is a gift! Beautifully wrapped...we hold it, cherish it and embellish it with more accessories - But scared to surprise ourselves we add more wrappers, more external decorations.But really very very few of us have the guts to open the gift. To see whats inside. I've taken a few peeks and I am getting a hint of whats inside...its nothing - Its just plain, dark, empty vacuum - something you cant control, something so intense that once opened you get sucked in..When you've been gutsy enough to do that, the experience is a transformation - to a more individualistic, more at peace, more self-contented living that seeks no other external validation for being. Nirvana.

As one more year wraps up, lets unwrap our gift of life....lets find peace within.

PS: Ha ha...am starting to sound like the Robin Sharma's and Deepak Chopra's of the world...Age I suppose :P