2 October 2015

Birthday post

My sweet mother reminded me that I write a birthday post, and so I did. Only I wasn't quite ready to share it then. Here it is for posterity.

Cicadas are making a ruckus: loud conversations between friends and lovers, possibly between enemies. I am sitting on the patio of a Greek monastery on the island of Crete while I write this. Another birthday away from family.

Mid-life. Crisis.

And then I think about the word, crisis. What would be a crisis? No family, no friends, no original thoughts, no iPad? All of them or any one of them?  I have rather pathetic predictable life, so no crisis I conclude. But in that predictability is much that is possible and serendipitous. So here's waiting around for lady luck but in the mean time...

the epiphany this time is: I think I am waiting around to becoming someone, and perhaps, it's time to end this foolish ride. Aren't I someone already? Ah, wait that's because I think the someone I want to be is not the someone I am right now. But wait, who was this someone again? Wasn't it a self-imposed definition? So it can be changed. It is in my control. I think of a study that I read that in today's generation the proportion of teenagers who want to be famous is about two-thirds of those polled. I wonder what it was in my generation and is it really a life-time goal to be famous, to be someone? I have to remind myself that it comes with some complicated responsibility. That power corrupts. That there's a price that you pay if your desires constantly outpace your circumstances. And then you die. So is it all really worth it?

12 February 2015

The Karma Bank

As you meander through life, there are times when you dearly wish for things to work out in your favour. For me right now, this is often wishing that D would go to sleep! And when this desire creeps up on me, I think, can I make a withdrawal in my karma account? Have I earned enough to make a debit? 

Growing up at home we got religion, but later, as I grew up as an individual, I wanted philosophy. Ritualism felt tiring; irrational behaviour coupled with inconvenient demands. Yet, when I was really low what helped was prayer. Not to a god, but prayer that I learned so young that I can't even remember when. Prayer that runs off my tongue like morning dew off a leaf. Mindless prayer, whose complete meaning I am yet to understand. But this prayer held me together at times when I thought I couldn't stand, like physically on my own two feet. It was this prayer that I said over and over again as I stood in line to end a partnership. 

I contemplate now what religion means to me and what I want to teach D. She is too young for philosophy, but not too young to learn prayer. But how can I teach her something that I don't do every day, but something I know just helps when things are rotten and you need your mind to focus? Can I teach my child kindness and honesty, just for the sake of it, without the fear of a god? Besides, at the end of the day I want her to adopt whatever philosophy suits her - something that gives her meaning. I want to be the person who enables all experiences, with the rider that she chooses what she wants. But even to do that she will need a starting point and I can only provide what I know, right?

The karma bank is a way of thinking that I have adopted to have a sense of ethics. Basically, everyone has an account here. Yes, everyone. All individuals. Some are just more aware of it than others. All our good actions, selfless thoughts, get accrued as deposits. It is a current account - no interest! And we make withdrawals, when we bag that last ticket to the movies or run the red light and don't get run over. The problem with the bank though it is not online. You just don't know how much you have accrued and what the over-draft facility is like. I figured out a caveat to that though- if one believes in rebirth, then your account is linked to your soul and then you have all these lives left to make up for all the over-draft that you do in this one. The other problem with the bank is that it doesn't tell you how much you earn through your actions - no point based system against which you can reference your actions. Does helping a granny install skype on her ipad earn you as much as helping a granny cross the road? 

Ho hum. Things that I ponder while I put D to sleep.

2 February 2015

What not to do when hungry

Oops. As I sit down to write this post, I realize we are in Feb and I completely forgot to finish my 31 posts for January. Technically you were supposed to write everyday, but I cut myself some slack and decided if I make 31, I'll be good. Need a better plan next time.

So, I am one of those people who needs to eat every couple of hours. Regularly. I get cranky and sometimes dizzy If I don't follow an eating regimen - I joked that I have low blood glucose, till one day when I had to get myself checked at a random time, which happened to be when I had not had my usual 2 hr snack, and the technician called N to confirm if I had eaten since my blood glucose was quite low. Tada. Now I have biochemical proof for the behaviour.

Eating regularly is one thing, what complicates life is that I like eating well. Not as in, eating fried snacks and such, but eating a variety of foods. This has made me arrive at a list of things not to do when I am really hungry:

# 1 Don't open the fridge without a plan - One is apt to open the fridge like a cupboard and stare at the contents. If fridge is empty, then you might consider # 3 or # 4. Beware, is all I say. If like me your fridge is typically stuffed then do not pick out ingredients without knowing what to make. Try to go for the easy option, like masru anna (curd rice) or a fried egg with toast. But since hunger pangs short-circuit your ability to make quick rational decisions, this might not be obvious. Instead you might want to do # 2.

# 2 Do not read food blogs - You might skim over things in the fridge and decide that it might make something delicious, only you don't know what or how. So you pop over to your internet and start searching food blogs using the ingredients as a search term. But what happens is that since we eat with our eyes, as much with our tongue, you'll see perfect pictures of food items on blogs and keep clicking the next recipe to the next. Or discover that what you want to make requires 4 other essential ingredients that you don't have or that it will take 2 days of soaking and 1 day in the oven to be ready. Sum result - you are still hungry and now gastric juices are stimulated. Which might prompt you...

# 3 Do not read take out menus - Stuck to our fridge are menu cards from local take out joints. Unfortunately they are the chinese, north-indian and south-indian variety where every concievable taste is catered for. When hungry though, it will read like the prospectus of a juicy stock that will promise sky high returns in under 12 hours. Enticing, but your brain won't be able to get it's decision-making gears in order. Consequently, you are still hungry. Or worse, you order, and order all the wrong things, and you'll have loosies next. 

# 4 Do not go to a grocery store - If you the stoic types, who can really go shopping to buy ingredients for your meal when you are hungry, then in my book you are superman. Or else, you might pop over to the supermarket thinking, surely, they will have more variety. Errm... that is the exact problem though. Having studied human psychology more in depth than academicians, marketing chaps know that to make a kill, they need to package it brightly and put it all together in one area, close to check out. Like me, you may think that if you don't take a cart or trolley in, you'll buy less. Remember that brain short-circuit? That's what is going to suddenly turn you into a many-armed goddess that allows you to carry chips packets, biscuit packets, all manner of kurkure types as every single snack ad that you have seen will play itself in your head or radio jingle will reverberate in your ear drum. Consequently, you'll finish two packets of chips to realize that now you are thirsty and that hunger just got worse. Salty, fried things are the worst when you are hungry.

So, what can you do? 

Once I have figured it out, I'll let you know!

24 January 2015

Handwriting competition

Saw this in the morning newspaper:

"Children show the write way" : The Hindu, 23 January. Their weblink to the article doesn't seem to be working.

Got me smiling about writing. Remember how you first had pencils. A pencil box that contained pencils, sharpner (oh that word is not real) and rubbers (ah that means something other than eraser). Every year before the start of the academic session we would go to the stationery shop, "Prem General Stores" which to me was like visiting wonderland. There wasn't much choice for pencils, but erasers, ooo... the mind boggling shapes and scents, should I get one with "M" or a cute animal. We were allowed only one so that was a tough call. Then in 5th standard we were graduated to using pens - not the ball point wonders, but ink pens. What fun it was to pick out a fountain pen; I was disappointed at being disallowed from getting ink colours other than blue and black, and since the majority used blue, I went with black. Every night I would fill in the ink of the pen and every now and then, end up with a giant bindi that was out of place on my school uniform. Then around 8th or 9th ball point pens came into their own, so it became even cooler to use an ink pen. I had one till about 5 years ago. Used to like writing letters with it and signing important papers - both of which I do rarely now.

The article prompted me to take a trip down memory lane. 

Our lives centre around our touch screen phone, ipad and computer. D already knows that if she touches a screen, something happens. I do wonder if she will follow the same sequence of penmanship graduation that we did.