Monday, April 25, 2011

This Gas is no Laughing Matter

While most posts are tweaked versions of reality, this one is true. As true as true is. Really.

Once upon time in mallu land, Dr Mary Magdaline was less heavily pregnant than her heavily pregnant patients. She was in the theatre performing the third C Section for the day.
The thing about an overcrowded, under resourced developing country is that safety takes a back seat and casualty is the driver. The anesthetic gases developed a leak. Unaware, Dr Mary continued her day. She remembers feeling euphoric and giggly.

Eventually word did get around about the gas leak. It was time for the pregnant doctor to turn into an emergency patient. She took her stethoscope and listen to her own belly.

She waited a while and still nothing.
N o t h i n g.
She went home, lay on her bed with the stethoscope still dangling from her ears, a part perched on her belly.
N  o   t   h   i   n   g  .

With nothing better to do, she went to sleep.
Next day morning she was woke up late. That’s when the baby kicked.
It’s alive!”

Alive…but NORMAL??” was her next thought. Side effects of the anesthetic gases she inhaled ranged from Death to Down’s syndrome to well ... nothing.
A month and a half later I was born. Mom recollects counting my fingers and toes. Ten. Ten. (check)
She then groped to feel my head. My head was extra tiny. (uncheck)  “Like that of a rat’s” she thought. She frowned, sighed swaddled her retard and slipped into sleep.

While the debate on my retardation rages, there is one unmistakable effect off the day of the anesthetic gas leak. I often feel euphoric and giggly. 

The anesthetic used in those days is knockout mixture of nitrous oxide – laughing gas. 
NOW: Dr. Mary with Baby

THEN:  Dr. Mary with Baby
Really!!! This is true as true gets... Here is the scan report of mom's tummy

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Awesome 3 Mango

April is for mangoes and I can never have enough of them. The best mangoes are not the Davidar’s blue mangoes or the overhyped Alphonso. The best were the ones growing on a tree in Fort Cochin. Guarded by the Indian Navy.

The “last working day” of the month meant half day at my school. Central School privilege.  The bell at 12:30 p.m. told all at school to go home. Two ten- year- old–tree-climbing -tom-boys did not go home.

Twenty minutes later.

Do you think everyone went?
Climb? I asked

With that we climbed the third tree in a row of mango trees. While she and I climbs, allow me to describe the school (click it!  its the up in the air view of the place!). The school is a part of the Southern Naval Command campus replete with guards, gunnery, missiles. Yes missiles. Just beyond my class room was the Arabian Sea and a beautiful, big stretch of beach. (No beach left now :( school there either :(... rising sea levels!)

At some point of Portuguese India history, the place was a fort that guarded the harbor and port of Cochin. Parts of the ancieny gunnery and the fort still stand with an unfortunate stencil stating “for demolition”. Those structures made dare you climbs, eerie hideouts and weaved into our fantastic games. While other kids in other schools imagined castles and canons and sea monsters we actually had them. Right there in the school. Maybe not the sea monsters…

Back to the tree top conversation.

“That one looks ripe. Get that. Yes there.”
I stretched … I cant reach it. 
“Aiyooo … stand up…  grab that branch on top …yes … walk towards the mango.... Don’t look DOWN, idiot, look at the MANGO…”

Down was 25 feet below, mango was shaky creaky inches away. “Kittee (got it)”, I dropped them into a plastic bag that dangled from my left wrist. Under her expert guidance we had our pick of the best mangoes on the tree. She grew up to become a suicide squad instructor.

We climbed down to saner, safer branch and perched there with our mangoes.

The sign of a good mango is
1.        Absence of conversation.
2.   Gross pulp squishing, lip smacking, squelching sounds emitted as you try to tease out the last bit of oozing yellow heaven trapped between the skin and the seed.
2.5  Suspension of mental faculties.
3  The mark of a truly awesome mango is that under its influence you carry out bone breakably stupid feats.

1, 2, 2.5 that’s when we saw him. The cane-wielding-dreaded math’s teacher. 3

THUD. The mango made her jump. 12 feet right into the field of vision of the taken-by- surprise- terrorist teacher. He motioned her to come meet his cane.

My mango must have been awesomer than the one she had had. Not only did I jump, I jumped bad. My skirt got caught in the branch and I dangled very inelegantly from the tree… with a bag of mangoes dangling inelegantly from my hand. I frantically swam and kicked the air and that’s when the branch gave away. Cracckkkk…. Crashhhh. The branch, I and the mangoes fell from the sky in a messy heap.

“YOU,Come here”, he thundered. I ran stumbling towards him. She and I stood breathless, braced for the scolding and caning.
Give it to me, he said. I handed over the bag.

That was the first time and last time I saw him smile. “Go home”, he said. We ran.

I now order mangoes online and get them home delivered. They come with individual protective casing. Nothing compares to the mangoes in Fort Cochin, guarded by the Indian navy.

Wishing you a mangolicious summer ahead!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Yoga of Sounds : Nada Yoga

Yoga is any path that brings forth a union of body, mind and spirit. Many paths have been prescribed for achieving this state of unity.  Some follow the path of prayerful devotion (Bhakti Yoga), others attain unity through selfless service (Karma Yoga), few pursue intellectual inquiry (Jnana Yoga), many work towards unity consciousness by controlling mind and body (ring a bell?). The paths are many and they all lead to the same goal. No path greater or lesser than the other. Success depends purely on the discipline of the aspirant. 

Of the many paths there is a melodious lesser known path; namely the Nada Yoga, the yoga of sound.

Nada Yoga is form of Yoga that is based on the ability of sounds to purify, heal and help attain unity consciousness. The basic premise Nada Yoga works on, is that the entire cosmos (including human beings) is made up of vibrations. The texts go on to say that, the cosmos is built on vibrations and these vibrations in turn create matter. (Primeval discourse on quantum physics??? ) The Upanishads recognize this original vibration that lead to creation as the sound of OM. Many mystics and religious scriptures seem to imply the importance of Nada in their own terms.. “Search for the Sound in the body, and thou shalt be saved!” remarked Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion. “The universe was manifested out of the Divine Sound; From It came into being the Light.", claims Shamas-i-Tabriz. Or the more popular “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Yes the word is a sound.

Sounds and music are the simplest forms of vibrations that we understand. We all are aware of the effect music on our moods. All most all of us have at some point felt exhilarated by listening to music. Some of us have even shed copious tears listening to soulful music. Music has the power to move our emotions. Nada Yoga utilizes the power of sounds and music to achieve unity consciousness. The roots of Nada Yoga can be traced back to the Vedas. In Nada Yoga , sounds become more than its sensory properties; it becomes the vehicle to take the aspirant to a deeper state of awareness. The music and sounds in Nada Yoga are considered to be divine vibrations revealed to yogis and mystics.

The traditional forms of Nada Yoga involves practices based on Mantra, Bhajan (simple hymns) and Kirtan (Vedic hymns). The aim of all three is to minimize the wanderings of the mind and eventually help to tune into the subtle vibrations within.

The Nada Yoga system classifies the music and sounds in two – external and internal. The external sounds and music is called Ahata. Ahata means “struck sounds”, suggesting that it takes two objects striking each other to create the sound. Clapping is two palms striking each other, singing is air hitting our vocal chords.  Ahata is at the gross level, in the sense it is interpreted by the sensory organs. From this gross level it acts on the subtle level of consciousness. Mantra, Bhajans and Kirtan are Ahata.

The internal music or sounds within the aspirant is Anahata “the unstruck sounds”. They do not have a source of origin and are mystical in nature. These sounds are heard while in a meditative state. The “unstruck sounds” are said to be signs of purification of the astral body. It is said that these inner sounds are heard only when the aspirant has progressed along the spiritual pathway to the level of the Heart Chakra. This could be the reason why the heart chakra is called the Anahata. Nada Yoga mentions ten distinct Anahata sounds that are experienced. The sounds are ‘Chini’ (like the pronunciation of the word); ‘Chini-chini’; sound of a bell, a conch, lute, cymbals, flute, drum (bheri), double drum (mridangham) and the clap of a thunder.  The Anahata sounds aid the mind to delve deeper and deeper till the veil of illusion is said to be removed.

While many books have been written detailing Nada yoga, the truth is that it is not an intellectual pursuit. Rather it is an experiential one. The only way to dive into this melodious yoga is by singling and listening – initially to the ahata and eventually the music will lead the aspirant to the Anahata. A simple exercise recommended by Swami Sivananda is to sit in your favorite asana in a quiet space. Observe the sounds around you. Eventually tune them out and try to listen the Anahata. Often these sounds are heard in the right ear. Bring your attention to these sounds. If the mind shifts focus, move from the subtle sounds to the gross, or the gross sounds to the subtle. The attempt is to stick to the sound in one ear. It is said that the mind would get captured by this, since it is enchanted by the sweet sounds of Anahata. Now go on sit in your lotus, or perch up in your crane, or upside down if you please and try it.

Wishing you a musical day ahead.

Nuthan Manohar
An ounce of practice is worth tons of theory. Swami Sivananda

Unsticking Stuck

What does it take to write?
Nothing at all. It just happens. The lines just write themselves... Words drop down from the top of the screen, arrange themselves and viola one post ready to serve on the blog.

Here is reality captured on video.

Getting stuck is normal. Staying stuck is not an option.
Go on unstick yourself, am cheering for you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Disaster Movie Night

When all else fails I go for therapy. My idea of therapy is back to back pixar animation with intermittent doses of John Woo.

Shrek played shrink by day. By night, I wanted someone more potent. I rummaged through my  stash of  Jet Li-s, Tony Jaas, Lees, Chans, the Dammes and namma Kanths . Had been there done them all. Needed something  NEW

There is an art and a science called briefing. A brief explains in simple and clear terms what you need done.

Consider a brief like …“Can you get me a movie? Action, inspiring, gripping kind of stuff. Adrenaline, the good guy wins story, weapons, fast. Even mindless dishum dishum will do. New one

Got it?... I mean you reader…did you get the brief?

An hour later I got exactly what I had asked for.

Genre: Documentary style drama  
Star Cast: Crave for the sinewy Jason Statham and you land with the scrawny Joseph Fiennes
Synopsis: About a man who sets out to swim 150 miles of the Hudson River. Fast paced considering he covered the miles in three weeks.
Spoiler Alert: WHY??? His last wish before he suicides.
Lets be fair, there was some action in the movie. The production house was called Ambush Entertainment

It’s true, men have no clue what women want. We are way too complicated and inarticulate…

I decided to drown myself in a strong stiff drink. Sip….sip…sip mmm it hit the spot just right.

So what if he couldn’t get the movie right, the hot chocolate he made was perfect ;)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pee Break

Do men ever learn to control urges that originate below their waist? I guess not ever, never.

For instance, the other day, my friend and I were sharing an auto. Suddenly he pounced on the auto driver with “arrey bahiya auto roko… stop the auto now” He then turned to me with a sheepish grin and said “bus ek minute... will be right back” and left in a hurry. In no time the auto walla and I left the auto, boarded our separate trains of thought. The autowalla on his local train and I boarded the express.

What makes it socially ok for a man to pee anywhere and everywhere in my democratic country? Not a single roadside wall stands un-graffiti-ed by a man!

Ever noted the peculiar things about public pee? To begin with public pee is viral. If you see one man pee-ing, soon there is another one joining in. They nod at each other as they spray together. They may even check cricket scores with each other, while they are at it. If a man has pee-ed on a wall once, he has to pee there the next time he passes by. A wall once pee-ed on will continue to attract pee-ers forever. 
A sign that says it all "The One Who Pees Here is a M**er  F**er"

Then there is the gender bias. If I have to go… I actually want to go now, but I have to wait. Wait till there is more than a wall. Four to be precise. A roof on top. You know the rest of the list including the handwash for afterwards.

Shit. It suddenly struck me, this guy is gonna be back from his pee break and NO HANDWASH. YEeeeeeeeeeSSHHH

I held the most articulated expression of disgust as my friend boarded the auto. He added to my nausea by he extended his hands out to me. I gasped in horror and receded into the auto.

There was confusion written on his face, he was expecting a smile not a contortion. And then it hit me.

He had stepped out to get me flowers.

Do women ever learn to stop jumping into conclusions? I guess not ever, never.

Photo credits : Debopriyo Bhattacherjee

PS: My friend insists - he doesnt pee in public. Of course he doesnt ;)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday I was breaking surf in a sea of noise.
Today I am a quiet bubble floating to infinity.
Yesterday I laughed, cried, screamed,
One with the mad mob.
Today I am companion of solitude romancing with silence.

Yesterday I had a cause to fight,
Any cause anyones cause.
Today I no longer resist ,
For the resisted restricts.
Yesterday I struggled against the flow;
Attempting an evasive destination.
Today I am the flow, the tide
Carrying me to myself.

Yesterday I existed to die
A thousand deaths.
Challenging the frightening;
Yet driven by fear to fear.
Running away from the haunting;
Till it hunt me down.
Building values founded
On farce and hypocrisy.

Today proof of life being
A search, a thirst for life itself.
Progressing on a path of progress,
Renewal to revive, to survive my yesterday.
Acquainting with the stranger in me,
Hidden by distorted layers of civility
Seeking the truth within;
The truth that would set me free.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sorry I Don’t Dance… Not Sorry I Do

Sorry I Don’t Dance
The colors, the costumes, drama, the crying, the singing , the dancing, the singing, the dancing, the singing, the dancing…

I cant recall a Bollywood movie minus the singing and dancing. We may not have a movie plot but we definitely have 14 songs and 8 dances. Like a true Indian, I can carry off the colors, the costumes and the drama.  Bollywood dancing..lets face it, I dance like a man. Like a man, who can’t dance.

Few months ago, I met up with the hostess of the very popular show Dance India Dance. I met her during her one of her dance practice sessions. She invited me to join in.
“Sorry I don’t dance”.
“Everyone can dance”, she replied, “Come on, go for it girl”.
I obliged. Her very sought after dance teacher showed me couple of moves and told me DO.
And DO I did. Well I tried and…

no!NO.. NO!!!…. not like that… move gracefully… sway your hips, thrust …come on thrust, shake…lip synch to the song… feel… EMOTE… like a girl…like a girl…sway…grace…
3 minutes later, we all agreed that maybe I should stick to “Sorry I don’t dance”

Sorry I don’t dance. That is about to change.

Despite the multitude of swaying, wriggling, thrusting talent in my country, it took an Indonesian Cop to change my mind.

Norman Kamru was caught in the wrong job. He did an uncop thing. Watch him

The Ouch
He was to “face sanctions for unethical behavior”

The Wow
Someone set a facebook page to support the 26 year old. Last I checked the page has 206,972 Likes
He went on to perform for TV. I simply love his performance for his police team.

What struck me was not his talent, but his joy and confidence. When you have it, it really shows.

Not Sorry… I Do
A very talented dance teacher in Hong Kong, contacted me to help for a performance based on a Bollywood song. She must have thought “AHH Indian girl…she do bollywood dance”. She will soon find out the truth.

Anyways instead of the un-joyous, un-confident “Sorry I don’t dance”, I replied “ I haven’t done this before, but will do my best to make you proud”

The song she has chosen is the very swayey Kajarare.

Aishwarya Rai (the hot girl in the video) , shall try not to threaten you with my dancing skills.
Amitabh Bachchan (the old guy in the video), you better watch out – here I come ;)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

chai toast

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the one who'll decide where you'll go. Oh the places you'll go.” - Dr Seuss

Early spring early morning. It was perfect time for the brain and feet to take me places. 

...To the Kitchen... For a cup of Masala Chai and Toast

I like my Masala Chai extra spicy, so tame the spices down to your preference 

The Masala
A pod of green cardamom
An inch or two of ginger
4-8 black pepper corns
Small cinnamon stick
1-2 cloves
Dried lemon grass 2 stalks (Ok I am assuming you know that I mean the small stalks)
Coarsely crush/ grind the above

The Chai
Add the Masala to 2/3 cup of water
Bring to boil
When the water just about begins to bubble, add a generous tablespoon of tea leaf (Lipton Yellow Label should do)
When the water boils …turn it off. Let the tea brew a while in the heat.

While the tea was brewing, I toasted some whole wheat bread till it was nice and crispy.

The Cup and Saucer
After 3 minutes, strain and pour to a cup.
Add a dash of hot creamy milk. Add sugar.

The toast went on the saucer. A generous dribble of honey, a tiny dollop of cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon powder and few raisins.

The Sip. Hot n spicy
The Bite. Crispy n Sweet

Oh the places you will go... 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Gimme a Break!

My God is a dude named Joe.

When I was younger, he wore loose white robes and had a red shawl draped on his shoulder. He had long dark hair, a gaunt angular face. I met him in my late teens. He was love, he was light. He dished out the most soul fulfilling hugs. He felt I deserved everything I ever wanted. To him, I was special. He would go to the ends of the world for me.

Years went by. I gave up my pink frocks for jeans. He gave up his robes and shawl for linen trousers and fitted shirts. I grew my hair while he sported a pony tail and a trimmed beard.

I grew busy with life. I saw less and less of him. I saw more and more of computer monitors and code. Once in a rare while, I would shout out my Likes, update him of my Status or leave a Comment. If he was hosting an event, I would sign up as Maybe and not turn up. Each time I had a new wish, or was suffering from the consequences of an old wish fulfilled; I would promptly mail/ ping him. He would do the needful I ask, each time.. every time.

I designed WISH. He executed it. However when I ran the program, I saw bugs. So I went ahead and designed WISH version 1.0. I spotted bigger bugs. WISH version 2.0 got designed next. He patiently executed my version 2.0; version 3.0… His job was not to ask why or to make me see sense.  He did not tell me, “girl your basic algorithm of WISH is crap”. He believed in freewill. He believed I had the right to create my bugs, my creepy crawly bugs galore. He believed my duty was to learn from them and eventually live life bug free.

The WISH project went on and on and on. The tiny bugs grew to become elephants.

One day I woke up and realized that my life was nothing like I wanted it to be. From pretty screen saver images, it was a series of fatal error messages. The software crashed, the hardware crashed. The warranty had run out. Most parts were obsolete. HOLY SHIT how did I land up here?

There was nothing, absolutely nothing flashing on my monitor. And who the hell unplugged the system? I was PISSED, upset, hurt, I had had enough.  This was NOT what I wanted. That night I shouted at Joe, “ J O E !!!! Gimmmmeeee a break. Gimme a fucking break”.

And a break he gave me!

For the first time since the creation of the universe he raised his voice “YOU give… ME a break”
God wants me to give him a break. There must be some mistake.

Maybe not.  He hurled at my perplexed face. “Woman, give me a frigging break! I have bent over backwards providing you with whatever you fancy. You play a while and then, OUCH THIS is not it…Gimme THAT. Now YOU want a break. WOW. Each time, I did something you asked of me, I really REALLY hoped that you would learn from your stupidity. That you will see. But NO, SORRY ,you do not want to learn. Learn is not in your agenda. What the fuck is you agenda anyways? Nu, do you have a clue? “. He looked tired.
He wants a fight? I give him one. “You are God, you figure out my agenda. Who said I should have an agenda? What happened to the you-have- a- plan- for- me? What happened to the you will guard- guide- me shit? Stop blaming me for being such a lousy God. Now that all is lost, you blame me for something you were supposed to do and dint” I then whined out my famous line. ”This is unfair”

He lost it. “Unfair??? Do you know what fair is? Fair is that I put up with your shit all this while. And why the fuck should I guard-guide-you? Are you telling me that you are incapable of doing that yourself? I have a plan for you and that is why I dumped you with that thing between your ears. The rule is simple “ask, and you receive.. “. Your job is to ask, my job is to give. That’s all. Simple. So do me a favor, stop whining unfair and THINK."

"What do you want from this life? Because NO ONE, absolutely no one, including me, can tell you what you want. Nu, so tell me, what is it that you want? You better REALLY want what you ask for, because I will really give it to you. And that is a promise”

I want… (silence)

Oops. I did not know. I was busy wallowing over all the past error messages, the crashed systems that I did not have the energy to think of what- do- I -really -want?

“I need to think”, I replied.

He let out a sigh and said, “ Thank GOD. Finally a sensible statement by Nu”. His tone softened and he added “take your time. I am around. When you are ready to create come back.”

“Joe don’t leave me, not now... am lost…” I broke down. He sat down beside me

“Sweetheart, I love you. I will NEVER EVER leave you... Now don’t cry… You know I can’t stand those tears.. Darn those tears.” , He dished out a soul fulfilling hug and held me there. He was love, he was light.

“I don’t do this often, but girl, you are so full of shit that I am going to try and fix things.”

My face lit up and I was about to design the latest WISH version.

He put a finger to my lips, hushed me into silence. “That is not what I meant. I am going to help you learn… from the basics.”

"Now lie back…stretch. That is better. Now inhale… deeply. Now exhale…. Feel the air as you breath. Inhale deeply… exhale. As you exhale let all the tensions release….” He spoke in his most soothing voice. His voice guided me to my breath, helping me relax. Soon the voice gave away to the sound of the crickets, wind rustling through the leaves, an occasional croak of a frog…

I slept very well that night.

My God is a dude named Joe. He feels I deserve everything I ask for. To him, I am special. He would go to the ends of the world for me.

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