Saturday, April 25, 2009

View point.

Here's a thread that was opened on one of the discussion boards I frequent at.
The topic was named 'Funny Neighbors'
For some reason, my intuition stuck me that this was going to be about Indian neighbors before I opened the thread. I once met a psychic at a fair who tried to lure me into getting my psychic reading and I refused. "You are like me hon" she said. "Intuitive". I kind of believe her. I think I have a very strong intuition.

On to topic again - The funny neighbors were indeed Indian.

The lady opened the discussion with something like -

Lady 1 - "Ok first I in NO WAY want to offend anyone, nor am I criticizing. This is just an observation. I have an Indian family who lives next door to me. I have noticed that at mealtimes the mother chases the small boy (about 3-4) around their patio with a plate of food, poking bites in his mouth. This puzzles me so much. Why not sit the child down at the table and let him eat? "

The first reply was something like

Lady 2 - Must not like what mom is making for dinner... LOL!!!

And then someone else chimed in with something like

Lady 3- I would guess that he doesn't like what they eat. I know we had an Indian neighbor once and the food stunk to high heaven. You could always tell when she was home and having dinner.

And the last reply to the thread was a somewhat kind one.

Lady 4 -That must be comical to watch! Lol! I actually love Indian food. But, I've only tried a few things. Who knows what she's poking in his mouth that he doesn't enjoy. :)

End of conversation - or so I thought since I didn't follow the thread anymore. Instead I started my usual ponder of the shocking culture differences people have.

When I first watched 'Titanic' I was kind of upset to see Jack and Rose sneak out and make love. To me love had nothing to do with sex. It bothered me to no end that Rose would sleep with Jack when she was engaged to someone else and then it bothered me further more when she moves on with her life and has kids and grand kids after Jack dies. That was because I was young and naive and did not completely evolve as the person I was destined to be. I was brought up in a society where Brides and Grooms met in a formal setting and decided to get married after one single meeting though I was too scared to follow the same route and made the choice of a partner myself. Pre-marital relationships were a sin to me. I would not in my wildest of dreams accept being in a pre-marital relationship as understandable. I watched Titanic as a young bride. Two things were alien to me - my own personality that was kind of under-developed and hazy and a foreign country where public displays of affection were as commonly spotted as people on the road. I loathed western culture. The loathe grew along with my familiarity to a completely new culture till I met my neighbor V who is quiet older to me. I found a true friend in V though we were from cultures as different as day and night. She dated numerous men before she found her true love. She and I shared only one thing in common - our gender. All else was different. We were from different generations, races, countries, cultures and backgrounds. But that did not stop me or her form being each other's best friend. She would drop her jaw to the floor to learn that me and my hubby were virgins before marriage and I would drop mine when she shared with me her numerous escapades with prospective partners. I slowly started to accept that being in pre-marital relationships is not as bad as I thought it was - though I would not have been caught dead in one and she realised that being in an arranged sort of marriage is not as bad as she thought either though she would not personally consider it in a million years. Now, I had come a long enough way to watch and actually enjoy watching "Sex and the City" without being judgemental about the four ladies and their quest for a completely compatible relationship - love, sex and everything in between.

Back to where the ponder began - to the 'Funny Neighbors' thread - Isn't it really funny that Indians as a culture are grown up on a healthy diet of mythological tales where Yahsoda, the mom of Krishna carries him on her hip and feeds him butter from her hand as she takes him out into the front yard and shows him the Full moon?? We just don't seem to understand that it is okay to let the kid eat by himself or herself. I actually thought that it was funny how westerners leave babies in their nurseries with a baby monitor on. "How cruel" I used to think and still think - not even "How funny" which looks pretty mild in comparison to "How cruel"
When my pediatrician asked me hiding his cynical smile if we co-sleep - I replied rather proudly that we do. It is one of the many things that we are taught to do differently by our culture and co-sleeping is not as bad as he thinks it is. Just like pre-marital sex might actually not as bad as I think it is.

The innocent ladies attributing the "poking of spoon" in a toddler's mouth as the toddler not liking the mother's food is nothing but lack of a perception, a lack that I thankfully un-lacked as I grew up understanding and respecting different cultures. When my third grade social studies teacher told us that coconut oil is used for cooking in Kerala - the whole class did a mock-mass-puke in chorus. An oil that is used to apply to the hair being ingested was a thought to invoke barfing. Now I see Chinese people frying snakes and centipedes and ingesting them when I watch the travel channel but I am courteous enough not to barf out loud. I think it is really not as bad as I think it is if it is looked at from the other person's perspective. Food is food is food. Right? and there is a paradigm shift in all things. Our holy cow ends up on a million American dinner plates - is it cruel? No. We spank our kids - is it barbaric? No!

My father's cousin once told me that we all need to travel. "That is the only way we can understand different cultures" he opined. I was a teenager. I did not know what the big deal about understanding cultures is - now I do or so I think!

I think the greatest thing a person could learn is to learn to understand that there is a vast world beyond our comfort territory and what is right to us might not or should not be right to everyone else.

I actually like the concept of making a child sit at one place and eat. Aarti does it once in a while but for a good number of times I let her walk the expanse of the house while I sub-consciously enact the "Yashoda" episode and feed her my delicious food. Now, if an American neighbor looks at it and thinks that it is because I don't cook well, I should probably shrug it off and go being who I am and at the same time realise that I should let her be who she is.

I think the whole world has an attitude problem - and a perception problem. And by the way - I do not judge Jack Dawson and Rose Dewitt Bukater for what they did any more. I actually have come to appreciate the concept of two souls uniting at a mortal level when love prevails.
That being said, I am thankful that I seem to have come over both my attitude and perception problems:-)

What goes around...

My stint at Ogilvy changed one thing about me - I do not take even the most boring commercials for granted. Even if it is a home-printed handout that the local dry cleaners leave on the front porch, it gets its due attention. I look and analize if the message is said in a honest and entertaining manner. So it was but natural that I noticed the commercial being aired for "Pure Michigan" which aims at enticing the audience with the taste of a 'Michigan morning.' The sun rises over a lush, wind bent grassland, there is a picture postcard perfect windmill in the foreground which for some strange reason makes my heart leap in a feeling of De-javu. The voice over tells that we humans have twenty five thousand mornings - give or take and we spend them on treadmills and traffics. And we should makes sure that a few of them are "Pure Michigan"
So the commercial made me do my usual detours. 'Twenty five thousand mornings' loomed large in my mind. It made me do my usual girl math - that is sixty eight something years of mornings we have by the way, and that made me rearrange my priorities about spending the left over mornings of my average life expectancy. If not 'Pure Michigan', let it be Pure California I thought. For someone who doesn't spend the mornings on treadmills and traffics, I thought I neither belong in the 'normal' nor in the 'ideal' category - which brings me to the point I am trying to blog about - not being a morning person and also not being in a position to deal with the other 'non morning person in the making' that is shaping up as we speak. A friend once asked me why all my blogs are late night. It is simple - My lights of my brain start functioning as the lights in my neighborhood go off and reach their momentum as the night progresses. That kind of explains why I am blogging wide awake at 1:53 am and why I panicked when the state of Michigan put before me the average number of mornings I have. It was like a 'pun intended' wake up call and it also stirred memories of my childhood which I am about to share with my august cyberspace company to make sense of my title:-)
I think I kind of borderline abused my mother with my non-morning personality. "What time is it?" I would mutter in a half asleep state, when she used to come into the room I shared with my sis to wake us both up to get ready for school. She would tell us the time. My mind used to do the girl math. "Another ten would not hurt" I would reassure myself and doze back to sleep and dream of getting up and getting ready. And then the dream would be interrupted by my mom's voice, climbing a notch on the irritation meter. "what time is it?" I would ask. "Time to get up" she would snap back. And then I would get my lazy, non morning butt out of the bed and get ready to school. Once I got up, I never wanted to go back and tuck myself in the sheets. Which kind of makes me wonder if I actually am a morning, non morning person - which is like being a morning person to begin with, but leaning more towards being a non-morning person just because I don't care to be what I really am. And why do I get a weird feeling that I am beginning to sound like Dr. Seuss?
Anyway - One day, my mom called out to wake me up and I did the usual "what time" routine and she gave me the usual 'sitcom' comeback. I drifted back to sleep. The moment I opened my eyes and gazed at the wall clock, I had an early teen heart attack of sorts since the time was past 10 am and I'd officially bunked the school:-)) Yeah - she kind of taught me a lesson - but being the wanting to be non morning person I was, I went back to my "what time?" question routine in no time though I was careful not to ask her for 10 mt extensions on the free wake up yells for a good month or so. I fondly remember those days as the precursor to the many tiffs my mom and I were going to have in the teen times to come.
Fast forward some years and Aarti my three year old needs to be in school by 8:45 am and I need to get up and get her ready and drive her to the place. I wake up, get ready and keep on trying to wake her up. Though she is not old enough to understand the concept of time, she has her own way of asking me to let her sleep. I come up with all kinds of innovative ideas to get her out of the bed to get her ready to go to school. I call her my baby, make bulky promises and let her take a bubble bath while the minute hand on the wall clock moves forward along with my stress levels. This to me is an 'aha' moment - an 'aha' that escapes inadvertently out of my lips as I sharpen my creativity to get a reluctant, persistent and adamant toddler out of the bed. An 'aha' that makes me wonder if this is what they mean by saying what goes around comes around.
I probably took after my dad in the morning department and gave my 'very morning' or 'can't afford to be non-morning' mom all the stress that my dear daughter gives me today. Today I am a morning person, though I do not see lush grasses and scenic landscapes in my mornings. All I see is sizzling skillets, piling dishes, out of control temperaments and feel grinding nerves. Did I tell I feel I sound like Dr Seuss?
Anyway, I realise, that if we look at the world - we all seem to stand in a circle. What we give from our one hand comes back to us form the other in the form of 'aha' moments, reality slaps, stressful mornings and monster kids. :-))

BTW, do you think it is the genes that make Aarti the way she is? I hope not. I do not want her to detour as much as I do and change topics as much as I do. Come to think of it, I should have done the voice acting for Dory in 'Finding Nemo' since I seem to change the topic more times that a partial amnesiac does:-)) On that note, I retire - hoping to make at least some of my left over mornings, nothing extraordinary or ecstatic - but just mornings sans drama!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Color me Black.

A lot of things about my teenage started making sense as I grew up, became more mellow, calmed down and mature. One such things is a song I'd heard and fell in love quiet a few years ago. It was the time when Remixes were big. My mom used to blame people's lack of creativity and repeat adages like "the world is round" - contextually meaning that things are being recycled and creativity is going in circles as well.

Anuradha Paudval came up with one such an album called "A tribute to S D Burman" - yeah the legendary Sachin Dev - Pancham da's daddy and Sachin Tendulkar's namesake. All the originals were sung by the Legendary Lata Mangeshkar. This particular song that intrigued me was from a film named Bandini and I used to rewind and replay the number on our hopelessly outdated tape recorder. CDs were making their advent but the good old tapes were still predominant so instead of having the luxury of hitting the repeat button and devouring the melody in an infinite loop without the monotonous trial and error rewinds and fast forwards to reach the beginning of the song - I did all of the above just to listen to this song over and over again.

It goes

Mora Goora rang laile
Mohe Shaam rang daide
Chupjaungi raat hi main
Mohe pikasang daide.

Which means - Take my fair complexion and give me a dark one. I shall hide in the night, oh give me the company of my beloved.

The orchestra is petty simple and Paudwals's voice crooning this melodious track resonated in my ears all day and all night. The lyrics were written by Gulzar, the same legend who wrote the very recent, insanely popular Oscar winning number "Jai ho" in Slumdog. Look at the way he had come and the recognition his work had gotten - which drives home the point that true talent is like an amber hidden under the snow and eventually, it shall melt the snow and spread its light.
Anyway , my new fond love - YouTube - that comes to rescue every time I need an audio visual to celebrate or mourn the mood I am in - ranging from the memory mood to the mockery mood - I just type the one I am looking for and more often than not, the song or the scene is right there, uploaded by some kind soul. That is how I had the pleasure of watching Nutan enact the wonderfully thought of lyric and the awesomely churned tune. Now if we were to show an example of true talent, this song would be it - from depicting the mood, the melody and the emotion this one is an exemplary piece of art.
Further into the song Gulzar says

Ek laaj roke payya
Ek moh kheenche bayya
Jaon kidhar na jaanu
Hum ka koi batai de.

Meaning - a coyness stops my feet and a desire pulls my hand - I know not where to go, someone please tell me.

Badree Hatake chanda
Chupke se chaake chanda
Thuje raahu laage bairi
Humka yeh jee jalaike

Meaning - Drawing the clouds aside and spreading your aura slyly O Moon, I hope you are eclipsed - since you smile and make me burn.

Kucch Kho dia hai Payke
Kucch Paa diya gavaike
Kahan lechala hai manva
Mohe baavri banaike

Meaning - I lost something after finding it and I found something after losing it - where does my heart take me by making me crazy?

So tell me, if this is not bliss - what else is? And the context - the girl is hoping to go meet her beloved in the moonlight. She wears a dark Saree and dark bangles but her fair complexion makes her visible in the night - so she hopes to get dark so that she can camouflage in the night and escape the spying and judging eyes of the world and unite with her love.
The scene is an inspiration from "Bhagavatam" where Radha dresses herself in blue to go meet Krishna but her fairness gives in and thus she hopes she get dark to hide herself in the night.

The whole song is breathtakingly innocent and it portrays the purity of love and longing in the most brilliant way possible. Now, if the modern day Bollywood and Tollywood looks at this lyric and picturization, they might learn a lesson or two about art, love, expression, inspiration, direction, action, affection and a way to portray love without closeup shots of creepily decorated belly buttons and artificially enhanced bosoms, the hip shakes and the pelvic thrusts:-))

Here's a link to pure bliss for your viewing and listening pleasure- courtesy, Sachin Dev Burman, Gulzar and the classic, earthy beauty - Nutan.