Attitudes

A Ray of Hope – Poem

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After a long break, chancing on a poem I had written during my school days – has spurred me on to get back.

A Ray of Hope – Mathangi J

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The skies were dark

when along life’s long river I decided to paddle

And on the banks I saw a bunch of people

all they did, was just dawdle

I found a number of willing comrades,

but neither of them had any grace

They said to me

” You may come with us, or you may go

Between us, relations will forever remain shallow”

 

The skies were darker when I went further down

But even there,people were frantically searching

for the materially studded crown

Hardly did they give me a glance

And to communicate, I did not even have a chance

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Scaling my vision, I saw a figure at the deep end

Slowly I paddled yonder and far

And when I saw her,

I thought she possessed invisible scars

 

As I saw her –

there was a question in my glance

To which she replied –

with a faint smile and understanding countenance

 

“I know what you search for

People – they possess none

They try to reach it thro’

temporary periods of fun

You’ve come in search of the keys

which will unlock your mind to peace”

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I stared at her with calm excitement

As I stared, her form suddenly did change

and flew towards the mountain range

…. In the form of a dove

It was then that I realized

there was a ray of light from the dark skies above!

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I was about 14 years when I wrote this .

 

 

Pain – Tangibles and Intangibles

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A discussion I had with a friend a month earlier was still swirling around in my memory I guess. And when things get stuck in your sub-conscious, you start getting clues from the outside world that keep drawing your attention to the same topic ( a newspaper ad, a dialogue in a movie, a quote that stands out…etc) – you know you have to address the issue. Pretty much last year this time – I had a post on similar thoughts – you can read it here :

https://mathangijeypal.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/parents-siblingsfriendsspouse-strangers/

Well, coming back to the topic.PAIN.

pain

The discussion I had with my friend was about the fact that there were socially  accepted negative situations – an accident, rape, a divorce, financial crisis, a death, loss of a job… that qualify as pain . This is when people try to understand you, sympathize with you sometimes, empathize hopefully, and maybe lend support so that you may get out of a situation.

But that set me thinking – is this pain okay because it is generally accepted? Hear about someone who lost a spouse / child ? – we nod our heads sadly, click our tongues and talk about their bad times. Hear about an accident ?- we thank the fact that it was not us in the situation and look concerned for the others. Someone undergoing a break up/ divorce? – call me anytime we say!

But does it justify the pain actually? To understand it further – I try to classify types of pain as I think there could be.

1. PHYSICAL PAIN

body pain

The accident types of pain come under this category. Broke a leg? Splinter? Heart attack? Eye pain? Also under this category – I would add heart ache. The pain you feel when you have lost a loved one. The vacuum left behind when a parent passes away. When it actually hurts. And heavily! Sometimes it can manifest itself to other parts of your body – the stomach pains, constant fever, nausea ,knee pain, migraines, stiffness etc… When pain seeks its release through some physical level – it all comes under physical pain.

2.EMOTIONAL PAIN

emotional-pain

That may be the most cliched picture I have ever put up, but who hasn’t endured a bit of emotional pain without your lachrymal glands setting to work? Under emotional pain, comes my next two categories :

a. Tangible pain : Pain that you can explain. In a perverse way – it is logical pain. The reasons which you understand. The cause and effect of your actions. Or others’ actions. You feel the pain but you know the origin as to why it happened. It may not be fair or just, but there is clarity. Examples are :

* A bad report card

* seeing your toddler cry for a shot

* when your pet has to be put down

* seeing your parents / grandparents become slow, dependent, or weak.

* someone getting credit for your idea

* rash driving and an injury thereby * having no kids

 * bankruptcy

*  a lewd comment from a deranged moron

*being passed over for promotion

* not getting a scholarship / university of your choice

* extra-marital affairs / infidelity

* illness

* a bad marriage

* children with physical and mental health issues…

The list goes on (Please feel free to add if you have more thoughts…)

Many of these situations are difficult. Life changing even. They affect our thought patterns. Make us angry. Make us depressed. Make us anxious. Sometimes, they tell us what we want to do to get out of a situation. Sometimes oddly, can even be positive. Bad marriage? – the best here would be to get a divorce and get on with your life. It might be the best thing that happened to you. Seen a loved one suffer due to illness? – we end up taking good care of our health. People who come out of these situations are stories of motivation / courage / and emotional strength.

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b. Intangible pain

This is where you don’t know what happens. Why something happened? What made it happen? And where you torture yourself with a million ” What-if ..” situations. Sometimes drive yourself to madness. Or loneliness. Or Depression. Because suddenly you are sliced out from a comfortable situation to the other extreme – without being prepared for it. An example I heard earlier stays in my mind . ” It is when you put your whole being into planning the perfect surprise for your spouse, just when you learn they are cheating on you”.

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Examples are :

* when your partner hides their health / career issues from you

* when your till-now-friendly-teen no longer wants to talk to you

* when you realize your “friend” was the one selling you out

* when the person with all the good health habits ends up with cancer

* the one person you want,but can never have

* when no one recognizes you

* or respects you

* when the nest you carefully built all these years, is broken (from the inside or outside)

The emotions that hit you. Shock.Anger. Betrayal. Self-sympathy. And the feeling of foolishness. Followed by loathing. Sometimes self-loathing. But most of all.. the lack of understanding.

How did I not know it was happening? When did the situation change? From when was I unnecessary in the equation? These are the intangibles. All of us have felt it at some time. Along with the tangible pain. The intangible pain, is the one we are shy to share with others. Those are our innermost wounds. They affect our self-confidence and our power to let go.

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THE SOLUTION ?

People will always give you options.- Time is the best healer. Surround yourself with friends. Keep yourself occupied. Meditate. Travel. Join a class.Think positive thoughts. If you have been in this situation – you will tell me it hardly works. What can you do?

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Get in touch with yourself. Sit in plain view of nature – actually see the sky stretch endlessly. Let your thoughts wander on its vastness, the brilliant blue or the villainous grey shade it chooses to show you. Trees, grass, flowers nearby. Look at them closely – look at the small insect that goes about its work, irrespective of your problems. It might bite you when you get too close. Feel the air.  Look at the tiny grains of sand around you. Those are the basics.

And if at that point you forget the whirlpool of activities that usually smuggle your happiness – the quarrel with your kid / the wondering of what am I doing? / incommunicado parent or spouse / the cooking/ driving / budgeting… its worth it. You will slowly get there. The Pain will start to heal. And you would have found your own way to deal with it.

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Finding your OWN way – that is what you want. Just be YOU!

Peace out!

 

Justice delayed, justice denied?

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When we talk about law in India – the concept of justice is rather vague. Everyone has their own concepts of adhering to principles, but when caught on the wrong foot – they hope to fully exploit the loopholes in an already tattered moth-eaten legal system. But with justice regularly getting delayed – is there a positive way to perceive this situation?

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/article3366186.ece

There was an article in the paper recently, which said a person who was the magistrate somewhere had taken a bribe in 1986, for which the CBI had convicted him now. When I read this, my first reaction was identical to the lone person who had left his comments behind on the website of the newspaper where this article was mentioned – that justice is always very delayed in India, and that justice delayed equals justice denied.

Then I saw the incident in a different light.

This person is now 74 years old, which means he was 48 years old when he committed the offense. If he had been convicted immediately, even if he had been jailed for 4 or 5 years, he would be free by the time he was 53 years old, when he could still happily go about leading an active lifestyle for another 5 – 7 years at least.

But now, there is no way he can work or enjoy good health. So the term of imprisonment, for whatever period it is, will be all the more heavy on him, because of his ill-health. So I felt he would repent his folly more now, than if he had been jailed earlier. This has happened because of the inordinate delay in settling this case.

This I felt would send out a stronger message to the people at large that the law would catch up to them at the most inopportune moment, so it is best to avoid transgressing the law. If the law is swift, it would no doubt soothe a lot of anguished souls, but then, a person would know that if he evaded the law, it would be done with and forgotten. So he might try to plan meticulously and get away clean without being detected. But now, a person who has committed a crime or offense knows that even after two and a half decades, he could be pulled up. So this I feel is a bigger deterrent than swift justice. Also, the long drawn-out legal process itself is many a time a deterrent to people committing crimes.

So to see the positive side of everything, even this apparent inefficiency in our system could have some unexpected side benefits!

Joys of the Earthquake – from India…

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A short post after the huge event of the day. The huge earthquake at Aceh, Indonesia – made its presence felt all over the world. While the press and media will have some fodder to feed upon for the next week – I shudder to think of the physical, mental and emotional trauma that the affected people are going through at this time. My prayers and genuine thoughts for people whose lives have turned upside down in an instant. May their lives and mental strength bounce back to normal soon.

That being said – the choice of my title might be rather surprising for many, or even cynical. I am neither advocating it to be a welcome change of scenario from our otherwise monotonous existence nor  feigning superficial courage over an event that some term as ‘exciting’, unmindful of the actual destruction caused.

The tremors were felt in Madras at 2.14 pm. What the earthquake warning taught me were some lessons. As I heard many people with their versions of the experience it was quite obvious that the earthquake set things in perspective for many people. When the tremors were first felt – most people encountered :

Self -doubt – They thought they felt giddy, some thought their blood pressure had dropped, some attributed it to low blood sugar levels, some thought their lunch had gone bad, some spoke about bad eyesight as their computer monitors were going crazy, and some thought that another person was pushing them around.

Priority check – Despite everyone running after money, fame, work, politics, gossip – when faced with an event that nature throws at you a.k.a Earthquake / Tsunami, one aspect took precedence over all others – LIFE! People were frantic to save their own lives and check on the status of their loved ones too (which was a little difficult – thanks to congestion and mobile connectivity issues.) People wanted to flee to get to the safety of their families – Work, office, career all took a backseat as each person wanted to safeguard their children, parents, grandparents, pets. The usually uncrowded streets ( between 4-6 pm) , were choked with bumper to bumper traffic with each person trying to outdo the other in their efforts to reach home.

People over materials – Another refreshing point that the tremors uncovered was the lack of importance one gave for their expensive material possessions when actually confronted with a serious issue. When asked to evacuate immediately – most people ran to get out first, leaving behind wallets, expensive cell phones, and other valuable items. Money and material possessions – were actually forgotten for awhile. An instant bond was created as strangers were willing to share phones – so that one may cross check on the safety of family and friends, with others volunteering to post messages on Facebook / Twitter, and some willing to lend some emergency funds to get to a child’s school and pick them up.

These were the joys that the earthquake brought to me. That there is still hope. That there still is a friendly neighbour or colleague. That there is someone who would lend us a helping hand. How good it is to trust. To feel one with the society. And not having to play the self-defense game forever.It is heartening to note that some small joys are still not forgotten and that people still have not yet fully been sucked into the vortex of greed and apathy. I only wish it did not have to be an event of such magnitude to force us face our choices. Here’s to a new life and new thoughts…

To the joys of simplicity and new hopes...

Una vida sin hombres!

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Hombres, porque?

Una vida sin hombres
Debe tener un fresco nombre
Una vida sin restricciones
Solas las celebraciones
Con Libertad
Y tantas differentes actividades

Una vida sin hermano
Pienso que sera una vida más humano
Libre como un pájaro
Mi niñez el mismo habría sido más claro

La vida sin amante
Será una idea briliante
No más disputes militants
Con esta persona dominante

Un vida sin marido
Después la ceremonia ¿ es él un conocido?
No más barreras
Podemos seguir libremente nuestras carreras

Pero stop! Yo me digo
¿Una vida sin hombres?
!Es sin un entero pronombre!

¿Una vida sin padre?
¿Una vida sin compadre?

¿Una vida sin hermano?
! Y mi niñez habría sido un poco secano!

¿Una vida sin amigo?
! No puede decir “ me importe un higo” !

¿Una vida sin amante?
! Será verdaderamente agonizante!

¿Una vida sin esposo?
!Es nada de estar orgulloso!

¿Qué pienso yo?
¿ Es possible tal vida?
¿Vivir como una huida?

Debemos aprender a coexistir
! O felizidad nos irá eludir!

P.s Perdóneme por errores gramaticales !

Expressions – II

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When people have no idea they are being photographed – their expressions are so genuine and reflective of their thoughts. The idea is obviously not to stalk people here – but capture those with interesting expressions.

In my second post I’ve tried to catch expressions of people who were by themselves and not part of a group. I try to give you the story and situation in which I took the picture as much as I remember. Some of these pictures were taken at the beach, bus stop, railway station, and even a passerby on a road.

Old man with a hard expression...

When I first saw this man staring at some other passer – by, I actually felt he was a wicked person. Like the people they cast in movies, passing of as a feeble old man but actually conniving with equal venom and strength as someone half his age. The more I looked at him, I felt almost scared when I saw his eyes. Then I tried to reason with myself and thought maybe he was stressed, or owed someone a lot of money, or maybe he was just judging a stranger. This picture was taken at a bus stand in Tirupathi. 

Deep in thought

This elderly gentleman was sitting by himself at the beach and just staring stoically at the waves. He was not concerned about the people around him, and seemed comfortable in his   own company. Somehow he seemed to be very relaxed, almost meditative and I do like his pose.

Restricted bed

A hard night’s labor? Sleeping away some worries? I did not know how this man tuned out the rest of the world, the simultaneous blaring horns of about 25 buses and still enjoy a peaceful slumber in what looks to be a real constricted sort of space for a full grown adult. Guess he really needed that siesta. 

Walking slowly but rushing to grab a cup of coffee

I took this picture when I got off the train for a break. It was early morning and all the passengers needed to stretch out a bit and warm up with some kind of a beverage. This old man was all concentration as he made his way with a stick for support, not wanting to leave behind his precious luggage that he was carrying in the other hand. Though he was walking slowly, it was obvious he was trying to rush ‘within his own limits’ , get a coffee and get back into the train. Whether he succeeded I do not know, for I had to get back to my compartment soon.

Curious by-stander

This man was watching a sale that was happening on the opposite side of the road, rather fervently. Was he the owner of the pavement shop? I’m not really sure.

Was he happy with the deal his assistant made with the customer? Those seem to be his thoughts as he stands there, oblivious to my clicking him. I do like the shadow of the bicycle as well in this picture.

The needy

This man – I guess a beggar, lost in thought, trudged along barefoot at the Marina unmindful of the crowds around him that were laughing, eating and having a good time. Though he did not actually ask anyone anything – I’m quite sure he was looking for something he had lost. Food? Money? Affection of a loved one?

yearning youngster

 Talking about affection I wind up with this picture – A picture I have actually used in an earlier blog. This youngster checked his mobile as frequently as you blink! Money from home?  Good news about his job? Admission into college of his choice? A text from his girl? Call me unimaginative but I think I might go with the last option.

Well, this brings me to the end of my second post under expressions. I hope to find more interesting people with wonderful expressions to record. They have no idea how special they are, when their mask is lowered!

Men vs. Women – A Woman’s day Special

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The battle of genders has been around since our school days. Due to commonly accepted stereotypes there is a belief amongst the population that there are specific situations in which certain genders excel; gender roles.

And as time went by – there was the notion to market that the importance of one gender over the other. Thus was born the concept of feminism.

WHAT IS FEMINISM?
Wikipedia – Feminism is a collection of movements that are aimed at establishing equal,political,economic and social rights for a woman.
It seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.

What it actually means is that – Woman are to be considered as people.Unfortunately the average person associates a Feminist as someone who thinks – men are not people.

The crux of the problem is that most people don’t understand what feminism means. Here’s what it doesn’t mean:-

1. Expecting a seat to be given up for you on the bus/train, etc. If someone wants to give you their seat, it’s their choice – call it chivalry (for men) or kindness (in general). It isn’t feminism.

2. Staying out all night /swearing/dating 10 boys at a time, etc. just because it makes you feel powerful or liberated. What you’re actually feeling is free, rebellious and ‘cool’. None of these signal that you’re a feminist. All of these signal that you need to grow up.

3. Looking down at homemakers and women in more ‘traditionally female/nurturing’ roles and dismissing them as weak, old-fashioned and in need of emancipation. Alternatively, praising a house-husband who’s wife is the breadwinner and labeling him as a feminist. Women who’re stay-at-home mothers, primary school teachers, social workers are more emancipated than corporate divas if they’re extremely good at their job and equally passionate about it.

So how did this all begin? From the time of our ancestors – men were hunters, they would go with a plan in mind, coordinate and achieve their goal, kill their target and bring it home. Women on the other hand, were gatherers – they would go to each tree bearing fruits or vegetables, gather them leisurely and bring them home. The same instincts have been passed onto us today.

So the tendency to look at men as providers has been hardwired into us since centuries, when there were no software programmers and vice president roles available to anyone. But that decision was by mutual consent, and had more to do with division of labour. But what has happened with the onset of liberalization is that women have a whole new territory to explore and conquer – the male bastion of work. Whereas, what is means for the male is that his fiefdom is under threat and there is no bastion for him to counter-attack, because he cannot give birth to children. So mankind’s survival instincts dictate that the male species do anything and everything to preserve his area of control.

How does India figure in this list? India started out well in the case of feminism as with all other concepts.

Women of the Vedic period were prominent with their exemplary intellectuality and supreme spiritual attainment. You had higly revered goddesses, women were provided equal education. There were philosophers like Gargi and Maitreyi who could tackle any man intellectually.

When did we become a society that oppresses women, resorts to female infanticide, dowry cases, bride burning and the lot? As can be seen in several third world countries Men try to retain their so called kingdom by denying women their rights, their access to education etc: so that they automatically become unqualified for many of the roles performed by men.

The lack of education is the most important factor that has contributed to suppression of women. When a regime wishes to oppress or monopolize another regime, the first thing that is denied is – Education. Because with a lack of education comes a lack of thinking, opinions and convictions.

The second method how this can be achieved is what is happening today – where you impress upon an otherwise qualified and capable woman that she is just not upto a man, merely on account of her gender.The ‘liberated’, ’empowered’ woman has started to associate the activities of man with that of success, self-confidence, self-worth and recognition. So when we suddenly find ourselves given the freedom to do different things we work towards things that men do thereby giving them the right to set the rules. Giving them the freedom to be the yardstick. We want to do all that men do, and do it better.

Yes, Arnold can lift a 100 kg barbell
Do I have to do the same?
Stereotype -corporate man
Stereotype - Corporate woman.

It is this glass ceiling that needs to be broken and not just in terms of climbing the corporate ladder. The society as a whole needs to rise above the glass ceiling.Women need to understand that the highest form of freedom is freedom of thought and expression. Thoughts for which you define the parameters, not society.

So ladies, until the male half of the society sees us this way, we need to treat them as adversaries. And when we win a match, we don’t ask our opponent how well we played do we? – The fact that we won itself means we are better than them. So if at all you need feedback, take it from your teammates – other women, and stop expecting your adversaries to applaud your victory. Someone said, “Remember, you are unique – just like everyone else”. So use your unique PLUS points to shoot down the ARROWS being aimed at you!

Use the +ves and shoot down those arrows!

For when you have the conviction and the ability to execute your thoughts – you will find that you have no necessity to prove yourself. You are comfortable just being YOU. Happy Women’s Day!