Condensed and Distilled

It is the last day of the year today and looking back and saying goodbye to 2014, I am attempting to recap it by revisiting some of my tweets from the year and finding a place for them here on my blog.
I signed up for Twitter earlier this year, a few months before I started this blog and in the process of experimenting and sharing bits of my writing there, I found myself developing an increasing appreciation for the succinctness that the medium imposes- a 140 character limit per tweet to put your point across.
I welcomed the challenge of writing within the confines of this framework and found that I quite liked the process of condensing and distilling my words to fit into a tweet or two.

In fond reminiscence, here are some themes that I explored and attempted to write pithy bits about:

Truth and the Intangibles

  • Truth-
    greatest when told to our own selves
    sacred when committed to silently
    irrevocable when affirmed by action
    irrefutable when risked all for.
  • Intangible –
    where thoughts linger
    where dreams take flight
    where the heart feels
    where the soul knows.
  • That moment in life when you learn to take yourself out of the equation and see the truth for what it is.
    That.
  • That moment of utter honest acceptance of life and relinquishing of all illusions of control. That realization of self-agency.
    That.

Silence

  • ‘Silence’ could mean any of these- an expression of solidarity, a call for action, a cry for help. Take your pick and if you care to act, do so.
  • Apathy, cowardice or inaction- is one necessarily worse than the other?
  • Whether we like it or not, our silence speaks for us. It is then, in our interest to ensure that it conveys what we want to express.

Love and Kinship

  • Love
    an ode to your highest ideal self
    a compassionate kinship to the ‘not so great’ parts of you,
    an overwhelming desire for your well being.
  • You –
    a beacon, a lighthouse
    forever present
    anchoring me
    to my deepest sense of self.
    Am I adrift
    or is it our lives that are
    floating by?
  • Who are we
    stripped away of all facades-
    the many layers of personas that we adorn?
    I am called by many names,
    prefixes and suffixes,
    each one clamoring to claim
    a bit of my soul-
    the core that remains
    rightfully mine
    and
    steadfastly yours.
  • Home
    is a heart – pure,
    free from malice, artifice or duplicity;
    where I feel understood and accepted.
    Home
    is that mutual regard
    where we rejoice in kinship
    surrounded by love and goodwill,
    laughter and joy.
    Home
    is where I found you.

Penitence

  • Understanding and empathy are fine sentiments but cannot match the searing compassion you feel when you live through another person’s pain.
  • Penitence
    is a vast ocean
    that I swam across
    yet never reached the shore
    because every step on land
    turned into depths of water,
    so immense.
  • Penitence
    is the pause –
    before laughter,
    before joy –
    asking of me
    if I dare tread
    that path
    strewn with pain-
    once yours
    and now mine.
  • Penitence
    is a burden gladly borne-
    lighter than banal apathy
    lighter than stoic indifference
    lighter than heaving egoism
    lighter than dreary inaction
    -painful,yet gladly borne.
  • Penitence-
    a quiet commitment to a sacred truth
    a steadfast devotion to a lost cause
    a sense of gratitude for seeming existence
    a willingness to accept responsibility
    an avowal to do right.

The above lines in their original tweet form are assimilated on a separate page here on the blog.
In the past, I have done a similar recap post about other tweets, it can be found here at #Life.

That was my roundup of some moments from the recent past, here’s to looking forward to the coming ‘todays’ and to living with ‘presence’ in the present.

Happy New Year to all!

Silence – not necessarily golden

This past Saturday, at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, I watched ‘Celebrated Silence’ – a play that dealt with the subject of groping, the trauma it unleashes on the person who is subjected to it and the complicit silence of society regarding this issue.

The story was conceived by Anisha Singh, a friend of mine, who was also one of the lead actors in the performance. The script was written by Prabir Das, who was the other lead actor. Music was provided by Amita Prakash and the play was directed by Daryl Harris.

Celebrated Silence’ depicts the journey of a woman named Anisha, who is on the verge of committing suicide, tormented by the instances of groping she has endured in her lifetime. We see a dark gloomy set on stage – stark in its bareness, save for the many nooses hanging – ominous and portent – a harbinger of pain, despair and inner turmoil. We see Anisha, in white clothes, contemplating putting the noose around her neck. We see Amita, dressed in all black, remaining still and lifeless, wheelchair bound. Seemingly playing the alter ego of Anisha, she remains mute except for intermittently bursting out into songs of despair, betrayal, loss and agony. What follows next are recurring encounters with the various men that violate or invalidate Anisha at various stages of her life.

The roles of the men in the play are all enacted by Prabir Das, who seems to adroitly change personas, much like the costumes that he changes. His bearing and demeanor, his voice and mannerisms undergo mesmerizing transformations. In addition to highlighting the acting prowess of this fine artist, this concept of having the same actor play these different roles also seems to drive home a metaphorical condemnation of a manhood that finds itself subjugated to the whims of its ‘organ’ and not functioning as an independent thinking humane being – as if the beast of manhood was the same, just manifested itself with different identities.

I was deeply touched by the powerful and emotional singing done by Amita Prakash. Set to the accompaniment of piano, the songs worked to universalize the journey of one girl/ woman and situate it in a broader historical context. She was apt as the torn, troubled yet strong and willful alter ego to Anisha.

Anisha Singh emphatically displayed the gamut of emotions in her role, ranging from the confusion and helplessness of a young girl to the anger and disappointment of a wife, the pleading innocence of a daughter and finally the frustration of trying to understand the mentality of her perpetrators.

Overall, it was an impressive performance by the cast of three members who carried the entire play on their shoulders. The mood was sombre, dark and intense with moments of sharp tension and conflict. The play succeeded in evoking empathy for Anisha’s journey and a sense of disgust at the violations committed by the various men. The audience which comprised of both men and women were provoked multiple times to break the silence surrounding this issue.We recognized by the end of the play that Anisha had reached the critical point of being able to dissociate her psyche and inner self from the acts of groping that had violated her.

In this process, we see the beginning of her recovery of self-agency and as an audience we are left wanting to see more of her journey forward. Maybe the depiction on stage of additional concrete steps taken by her towards overcoming this trauma could serve to further inspire and empower the audience whilst providing material for a second act or a sequel to the play.

In all, I commend All Shades Theater for bringing awareness to this important issue.

Thoughts on Parenthood

Parenthood

  • The tender feeling in my heart upon seeing a close friend’s kid and being amazed by how wonderfully life replicates itself.
  • The mind-blowing realization that I am no longer just one person – a part of me lives, breathes in another being.
  • The life lesson that what matters is not what I say to my kids but what I do because I know that they are watching my life unfold before them.
  • The joy of sharing my interests with my children – of introducing them to people, things, places I love.
  • Conversely, learning to love new things that they experiment with.
  • Reliving the angst of innocence all over again through my child.
  • The realization that love is solely in the giving, not in taking/ asking/ demanding.
  • The life lesson that too much of anything- love, care, affection does not nourish but smothers.
  • Learning from my mistakes and learning to let my kids make their own mistakes.
  • Knowing and remembering every misstep I have made as a parent and still hearing “I love you as you are” from my kid. If only I could learn to love with that compassion and humility.

Things I learned from a weeklong stay in Paris

IMG_0742


About Life:

  • It is an altogether different experience of a city when you explore it with the mindset of a temporary resident rather than that of a visitor. We appreciated the homely environment of living in a rented apartment in the city, cooking meals, walking down two flights of steps and out the door- no ornate hotel lobbies to cross, no fuss.

    View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe

    L’Étoile- the Star at Arc de Triomphe, the center of the city- a short walk from the apartment

  • Our actual material needs are limited- I felt happy and closer as a family in that tiny apartment.
  • Most locals are appreciative of your efforts to learn to speak their language and engage with them. Bonjour (Good day), Je né parle pas bien français (I don’t speak French very well) and Merci beaucoup (Thank you very much) never failed to break the ice.
  • People will step up to protect you- case in point being the lady at the information counter in a Metro station who told off the man who was forcibly ‘helping’ us buy tickets from the automated machine. “He is a bad boy, don’t talk to him”, she said endearingly, in broken English.
  • Being mindful and respectful of time- we found out the hard way when, hoping to pack in more sightseeing, we reached a museum only to find out that they strictly close off entry 45 minutes before closing time. Also, whether it is a high-end designer store that promptly closes at 6 PM or the neighborhood grocery shop that will not let you in before the opening time of 8:30 AM, or the cabbie that left after we were a few minutes late coming down from our apartment- one has to set time limits for oneself and for others- I guess it is one of the ways to ensure that meaningful life exists within and outside of work.
  • Something that strikes a chord universally is a tribute to the soldiers.

    IMG_0762

    Commemorative flame to France’s Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe

About the Arts:

  • You think of music differently when you unexpectedly encounter a small group playing classical music in a Metro station. Compliment that with the magic of hearing the harp being played by a gentleman outside the Sacré-Coeur or the delight of procuring last-minute tickets to a program by the Orchestre de Paris.
    IMG_20141024_154348

    Metro station near Opéra de la Bastille

    IMG_0869

    Sacré-Coeur

  • Seeing the diverse historical movements in art displayed in the museums, notably the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre Pompidou and realizing what the immense influence of the arts is in our lives- what it means exactly to break tradition and forge new paths in life.
  • Seeing Monet’s Water Lilies exhibited at the Musée de l’Orangerie– and marveling at how the obsession with a single subject can mould one’s life.
  • Appreciating the rich architecture of the buildings and the beautiful stained glass windows reliving the glory of the days past.
    Sainte-Chapelle

    Sainte-Chapelle

    Château de Versailles

    Château de Versailles

  • This quote by Rabindranath Tagore exhibited at the Centre Pompidou.

    IMG_20141022_141439

    Centre Georges Pompidou

About Food:

  • Good quality ingredients, a slowing down of the pace of life and enjoying meals as a social event make for satiety and contentment.
  • Some great conversations can be had with fellow diners whilst sitting adjacent in restaurants. You realize how much commonality the human experience has in spite of all the cultural differences.
  • Artisanal dark chocolate is a heavenly thing.

    The Notre-Dame Cathedral replicated in chocolate

    The Notre-Dame Cathedral replicated in chocolate at La Maison du Chocolat

  • Our general perception about personal space and time is overrated, especially in the context of sitting out on a sunny Sunday afternoon at a curbside table in a crowded café overlooking the Eiffel Tower.IMG_20141019_134111

Finally,the magic is in the details:

  • Some things defy explanation but are joyful for that very reason- for example, what is the box doing up in that tree?

    Jardin des Tuileries

    Jardin des Tuileries

  • Good thoughtful dressing matters, case in point being the well dressed cab drivers and the regular person who was so well put-together : minimalistic, classic and stylish (I especially loved the abundance of scarves- my favorite accessory).
  • Cute ballet flats don’t cut the deal when traipsing on cobblestone streets for hours- good walking shoes are a must.
  • Love makes the world crazy and ritualistic – all the locks here bespoke that.IMG_20141020_192758In all, we had a delightful glimpse of life in Paris.
    Until the next trip, Au revoir !

A nice gesture and some Q&A

liebsteraward


A couple of days back, I was pleasantly surprised by a wonderful gesture from a fellow blogger Veena (thinkdowrite.wordpress.com) who informed me that she had tagged me for the ‘Liebster’ (a sort of Q&A ice-breaker in the blogging community and a means to recognize and encourage new bloggers).

Thank you Veena– I am honored! I appreciate your reaching out to me from across the blogosphere. I have enjoyed visiting your blog, reading your prolific writing and seeing the vivid pictures of your travel and DIY projects. I especially liked the paper quilling projects that you did. Keep up the good work!

In the spirit of this endearing award, here is my response-

My answers to the questions Veena asked me:

1. What inspired you to start blogging?
A love of reading and writing, and a growing appreciation of some wonderful blogs that I have followed over the years.

2.  Share with us your happiest blogging experience.
Signing up for a WordPress account- it was the first concrete step towards setting up my blog. I am glad I took it !

3. What is the one thing you love the most about blogging?
That it is an accessible and egalitarian platform. Having grown up in a pre-internet age where knowledge and information were often commodities zealously hoarded by a few and tedious to acquire by the majority; the easy sharing of thoughts, ideas and information that occurs via such a medium as blogging speaks to me on a deep level.

4. List your top 5 favorite/most inspiring blogs.
The Art of Simple (formerly Simple Mom)- dedicated to simple living. Tsh’s philosophy on life appeals to me on many levels.
Zen Habits– another great blog about simplicity and zen living.
Brain Pickings– a treasure trove of informative and analytical essays.
Electrostani– another great collection of essays, especially of interest to the Indian diaspora.
Jacket2– offers commentary on modern and contemporary poetry and poetics. I found out about this blog fairly recently and am excited to discover more of it.

5. How has being a blogger changed your worldview?
I am new at blogging and as I discover more about this community, I continue to be amazed by it. The blogs that I admire affirm my worldview of the need to be true to oneself and to have a strong work ethic.
I hope that this endeavor will help me refine my writing voice whilst sharing my thoughts and my work.

6. Name the essential ingredients of a good blog according to you.
A genuine point of view, information-sharing and giving attributions/ credit where due.

7. How do you motivate yourself to blog regularly?
Setting up a rough schedule of posting a blogpost weekly and frequently sharing interesting links, websites etc. on my Facebook blog page.

8. What is the scariest experience you had as a blogger?
Thankfully nothing scary so far, but there is a learning curve to this process.

9. Which songs do you like listening to when you are working on a blog post?
Whichever is playing on the radio!

10. How would you explain what blogging is to someone who has never heard about it?
A platform to share information, thoughts and ideas, state opinions, share one’s work – maybe like an open journal.

11. You message/tip/recommendation to all the new and hopeful bloggers out there.
Go for it !


My blog nominations for paying it forward –

Take-Two Style
DreamWranglers
Brainlearner

Happy Blogging!


Here is my variation of the list of questions :
1. What got you started with blogging?
2. How did you pick your blog’s name?
3. Where does your blogging inspiration come from?
4. What do you hope to achieve with your blog?
5. What is your biggest challenge when it comes to blogging?
6. What is your favorite quote and by whom?
7. What are some of your favorite websites/ blogs ?
8. What according to you makes a good blog?
9. What resources do you use to spread the word about your blog?
10. What has been the most significant learning experience of your blogging journey so far?
Note: Rules for the Liebster Award-
Thank the blogger who nominated you with a link back to his/ her blog.
Answer the 11 questions asked by the nominator.
Nominate 5 – 11 bloggers with under 500 followers.
Create 11 questions for the nominees.
Display the Liebster Award logo on your page.
List these 6 rules on your post.