Sunday, April 29, 2007

How blogging changed me forever

Some of you might have read my previous posts. They say that you can judge a person’s character through his writing. If that is true, what are your opinions of me? Let me guess for you. I am ambitious, sensitive, love to write about trivial matters that are not really important, I can get angry quickly, and I am responsive, right? Wrong. All these things do not define me adequately.

I sense a change. This is a recent metamorphosis of mine. Over the years, I have acquired some (dis)honorable titles such as the “incurable pessimist” “The girl who forgets to talk” “meek” “bookworm” “unresponsive” and “shy” “cry-baby” and “nerdy”. Sure, all those characters are part of me. I find it so hard to open my mouth that I remain silent most of the time. If there is a relative in the house, firing questions at me, I smile blandly instead of answering. If you say, “Hello, Lakshmi”, I smile, and retreat politely into the world of my imagination. Oh, I am that perfectly behaved student of course, but not at all sociable. You will usually find me peeking into a thick novel when I am attending weddings, ceremonies, etc. I have been labeled as a girl who doesn’t talk, and that is a natural trait of mine. Or I was labeled so. You see, this girl is talking. She can now talk through her writing, she is finding new means to express herself. I have realized how deeply there was a need for me to talk, and all those emotions, thoughts, feelings that I had bottled up, memories that I had stored over the years are pouring out. I am not the same girl anymore—something is changing, it is something that is very difficult to define. My thoughts were my secrets, my emotions were hidden. The only friend with whom I shared myself completely was my journal. If I was angry, depressed, sad, joyful, jubiliant, or anything else, I shared it with my journal only, and put on a stoic act on the outside. Now, I realize hiding my emotions was foolish.

I have met some wonderful people on this blog, they have been really supportive. I am so thankful. You see, you people have made all the difference for me. I lack all those natural qualities of a normal teenager. I am repulsed by the thought of wasting time in front of the mirror, I am of the opinion that reading a book is a better pastime than watching TV, I hate pizzas, I mingle with kids and old people better than with others of my age, and I study for exams. Unusual, right? Others told me I was weird. You people told me I was special….of course, for the “incurable pessimist,”, a nice comment puts him on cloud nine. I can savor a small 2-word message “nicely written” for days together. I believed that I was nothing special, and that I was sub-normal in many ways. Being a loner does that to you. I am thankful to my grandfather who truly believes that I have certain special qualities, I am thankful to so many others for providing a platform to voice myself. I know I can protest against the wrong things, I know I care for people, and I realize I am not “unresponsive” anymore. Now, there is new courage in me, more self-belief, and tons of hope. Truly, you have worked a miracle.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Care for him, pray with me....

I came to know just yesterday about the fateful incident of a small eight year old boy who fell into a 35ft deep well. That boy if fighting between life and death right now, and most people are most distressed, hoping that boy is still alive in the dark depths of that deathly pit. The poor boy will be scared to death, I am sure, but here is a question. This is not something new. Such things have happened in the past before, and such incidents have been recurring all over the country. Someone fell into such a pit in Chattisgarh just a few days ago and died. The wise men of the world say that we make mistakes, and from mistakes we learn. Well, the condition here is adverse. We make mistakes, and we never learn from them. What is wrong with the people? They should wake up. Why can’t they be alerted by such alarming incidents and try to prevent them in the future?

I don’t know why, the general human reaction if someone falls into a pit, suffers a fatal blow, and if is the government’s fault, everyone immeditatley reacts, angry protests here and there, but as soon as the incident is over, the whole drama collapses and we choose forget what happended instead of trying to find the cause of it all and prevent such things from happening in the future. That costs the life of many innocent boys and girls who have the right to live. We should not let that happen. If the owner of that well had just taken one small precautionary measure of closing the well for the time being, that boy would not be suffering in such a horrible situation right now.

Whatever I say, the fact remains that the boy has fallen into the pit, and I am deeply concerned. So, I thought of a prayer chain. I want to pray for the boy’s well being. Perhaps, if we care enough for him right now, and there is nothing much more to do in these distressed times, then, I hope that that boy will safely return to the welcoming earth once more. Let’s pray for him.

We need to join hands and pray to god for this little boy's survival. Let him get the courage to hang in there, I just want to remind him that all of us are with him. Hang on, Master Sandeep, and I hope fervently that you may survive. Pray for him deeply, my freinds, and remain optimistic. We will be there for him, and bring him a little more courage to fight for his life. Care for him, all of you, and pray with me...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Talent Unrecognized

My mother was driving past the 80 ft road today, and I observed one of those “commonplace” sights of city living. A small tent which was put up next to an open drain, clumsy rubber sheets and utensils, and a family lives there! An old man sitting outside by the street dust and city smoke, and he has a small piece of wood in his hand. The man looks meek, his body bent, like a person who has lost all enthusiasm. But inside that battered body lies a master craftsmen….if you observe closely, you can see a small set of hand crafted wooden articles, “totems” arranged out neatly in front of the humble “home.” I think that man sits there, come rain or shine, all day long, to sell his wooden articles. But who would want to squeeze out of the choking city traffic, find a place to park the vehicle and then buy his articles? Sadly, there are no buyers. I could see the craftsmanship of a real master, a true talent in the hands of this old, haggard man. I could see that even this poor man who lives in a street side home, had a unique talent, a gift, but he was finding it difficult to survive.

There is amazing talent hiding in every one of us. But unfortunately, the “talented” these days are recognized as jazz singers, famous actors and dance troupes. Some fail to see the talent in these silent street-side dwellers…we are their silent killers because we do not support them. If someone takes art as a profession, usually, they come to nothing. I think a little more effort is needed to promote the talented villagers, our country abounds in such craftsmen, and a lot more of support is needed to uplift them. We spend crores of rupees to visit Venice, Rome, Florence, Paris, England to view the talent of the ancient sculptures and painters, we take pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower and say that such great builders cannot be seen anywhere, but I think we are wasting our money.

Talent is living just down the road, near an open drain, or even in the quiet, isolated villas and towns of northern Karnataka. If we only recognize and popularize the Indian Handicraft industry a little more, we could be exporting such stuff at exotic rates, and people from all over the world are willing to pay. Then, perhaps, that poor street side dweller could find a little more happiness in life, and could live a decent living instead of sweating it out on hot summer days, we could give him respect for his talent, and an admiration of the skill that lies in the hands of this old man, a little praise that he surely deserves.

Monday, April 16, 2007

My favorite tree

The intense heat of last summer seemed suppressed as the Municipal planted two new saplings near the roadside. Yes, green leafy fast growing plants they were, very healthy and it was quite obvious that they would become fine trees and adorn the bare Bangalore roads. As they grew, however, I saw one of them cringe and shrivel up and I thought that plant will die…but you see, that wasn’t the case. That plant put up a brave fight, and with the help of a little water, it revived, and continued to grow in a healthy manner. I was just waiting for the day when the plant would finally become a tree, and then that tree would grow, and flowers would blossom and I was eagerly waiting. I don’t know why. I liked that plant very much…

On a recent jostle about “Car Parking” space, a neighbor requested us to accommodate their vehicle next to ours, but their car took up a lot of space, not leaving any space for us. We politely refused. The Woes of Bangalore are reaching their peak—everyone owns a car, and nobody had any space!! In every corner and nook, vehicles are stuffed, and my beloved city is choking. The neighbor was in a dilemma. She persisted, and we continued to make her understand our situation.
“ Why don’t you park in front of your own house instead of choosing our compound?” my mother asked.
“No, we can’t park there! We have a coconut tree planted right there, and if some coconut falls down, our car will be damaged!!” argued the neighbor.
“We are sorry, please consider…”
The neighbor was irritated and offended.
“Fine!” she said haughtily and retreated. “ I can make better arrangements!”

Anger is blind. Frustration is even more dangerous. The next day, I learned that my favorite tree had been axed to accommodate the neighbor’s car. I was devastated. I rushed to see my tree…and there it was. Completely chopped down. Uprooted. Leaves hanging meekly from the last remains of the tree. I almost cried. You see, that plant had the right to live, it should not have been axed like that. That plant had survived a horrible summer, and it had lived for many days without water. It was growing, and very well too. It struggled a whole year for survival, but for what? For being chopped down mercilessly like that? My plant should have survived…

The irony of the situation is, even after they cut down that plant, the space was still too small to accommodate the car. That plant had to be butchered for just “being in the way”. My plant was sacrificed, for no apparent cause. All this was done, the neighbor said, to prevent cutting the “coconut” tree of their house. For one tree to live, the other had to die…and that plant, if it had a voice, would be screaming about the injustice done to it if it only had a voice. But I shall be the dead plant’s voice, and I will speak for it…..and I would like to conclude by the short poem written by Gieve Patel:
It takes much time to kill a tree
Not a simple job of the knife
Will do it. It has grown
Slowly consuming the earth,
Rising out of it, feeding upon it’s crust, absorbing
Years of sunlight, air, water,
And out of the leprous hide
Sprouting leaves……………

The roots will be pulled
out of the anchoring earth
It is to be roped, tied, and pulled out-snapped out,
Or pulled out entirely,
Out from the earth’s cave.
And the strength of the tree exposed,
The source white and wet,
The most sensitive, hidden,
For years inside the earth
Then the matter of scorching and choking
In sun and air
Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,
And then, it is done.

And that, my friends, is how that growing tree died…

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Value of Things

When I entered tenth standard, my grandmother had a nice Reshime Langa stiched just for me, made of the finest quality of silk, and it was gifted to me with all love and care. One Langa for me, and one for my cousin, Rukmini, the growing girls in the family, and we would look just like little princesses if we wore it, she said. I bought the fine silk dress home, resolving to wear it every time there was some special occasion in the family. But special occasions were rare, and the quaint little dress found it’s place among the disused cloths at the back of my clumsy cupboard. If by chance, I glanced at the piece of that dress peeking from the cupboard, I would say, “Next time, when I attend a marriage, I’m sure I’ll wear that dress…” But somehow, my gorgeous glittering Ghagra overruled that humble silk dress, and I never really used it more than a couple of times. I felt awkward to wear it because I thought I had outgrown the age of satin frocks and Langas, and wearing such a dress to receptions and parties seemed inappropriate. Like the end of all sad tales, the Reshime Langa was pushed to the background, and soon, I completely forgot about it….but when I cleaned my cupboard (That happens once in a blue moon), I was reminded of that silk dress, and I would guiltily stare at it, and think to myself, “Lakshmi! Your grandmother so lovingly presented that dress to you, and you never wear it…”

Well, recently, I happened to clean my cupboard, and as I sat, neatly folding my cloths, the colourful silk dress landed softly on my lap. I could ignore it no longer, so I decided to try to wear it. But it was so tight, that I almost choked. I had grown up, and the langa did not fit me anymore…but I don’t know why, I could’nt give that dress away. But I fought a battle with myself, and thought I had no use of that silk Langa anymore, and finally, I asked my mother to give it away. It still looked disused and brand new, and to give away that dress was a real pain, because I was haunted by guilt that I never really used it, and my grandma would be upset if she came to know. My mother gave the dress away to a local servant, and the woman happily rushed home, saying that the dress would fit her granddaughter perfectly. I felt I had done the wrong thing by giving away my cloths like that, because after I donated it, I realized it’s value.

Later, my mother told me that the woman had returned, her face alight with happiness, to thank my mother for giving her that dress.
“ My granddaughter loves it! She looks like an angel in that dress, and we celebrated so much. I dressed her in that Reshime Langa for the festival, and also plaited her hair with Moggina Jade, and we had her photograph taken at the studios.” I am sure the woman will frame that photograph and safely preserve it….for her, a silk dress was a rare treat. I then realized that the woman respected the silk dress more than I ever had, and I realized she valued it more than anything. I smiled, and my guilt disappeared. I had just gifted happiness to somebody else. Isn’t it so sad, that we don’t realize the value of things, all that god had given us, until we are deprived of it? I now think it was better I gave away my dress, to someone else who needed it, and I feel comfort at the thought that a little girl somewhere is extremely happy, all because of my silk Langa.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

On Mr. Purnachandratejasvi's death

Out of all those literary gaints out there, eveyone has favorites...some authors tell stories in such a wonderful manner, touch our hearts that we want to remember them forever. Even today, I do not laugh when I see someone crazily talking about the next harry potter and JK Rowling. I understand when that auto-driver stops for a small sip of coffee in a run down hotel, trying to read Mr. Ravi Belagare's Hi Bangalore newspaper. Everyone has favorite writers. and everyone worships some author or the other. In Kannda' writers, I think nobody is as fond to my heart as Mr. Purnachandratejasvi, who died recently. I was his biggest fan. I still am.... He is not my favorite because his kannada vocabulary is excepsionally good, or that he is the world's greatest writer. No, I like him because of his simple way of implying things and making me understand. I like his charecter, his life is interesting. He is an enviornamentalist, a writer, and a photographer. I think I share myself with him. We have similar interests, similar perspective about life. He has always done everything I have dreamed of doing. I have thought about leaving the city life, and moving to Malanad regoin in the future, surrounded by nature, birds, coffee plantations...I have thoght about exploring forests, dealing with animals, and ofcourse, I have thought about travelling and meeting interesting people. I have aways wanted to photograph birds. I remember when we had Mr. Purnachandratejasvi's book named Parisarada Kathe as our eight standard kannada text book. The moment the teacher started talking about the book, of Mr. Purnachandratejasvi's achivements in a drab, cold voice, someone quipped, "Is this guy still alive? You talk of him as if he is dead,"
After I finished with the Parisarada Kathe, I have moved on to read his other novel, Karvalo Kadambari, and immediately, I loved the book. You see, whoever is a nature-lover will share a bond with Mr. Purnachandratejsavi, because he is the direct representation of what lies in the heart of every nature lover. Even though I have thought, many a times, about this person, of seeing him in person, he was always that hidden picture...I had not seen even his photograph. I knew he was special, and that I respected him, and that I would like to meet him, but I had no clue how he looked like. I had to depend on my imagination to visualize my favorite author. When his photographs were on exhibition in chitrakala parishanth in Bang'lore, I nagged my mother to take me there, but it was exam time, so I could'nt go. His picture always remained incomplete...but I was convinced that Mr. PCT had a mysore connection, and if he came this way, perhaps, my grandpa could introduce us, and that I could get a nice photo of him. Mr. Purncchandratejasvi's face was incomplete in my memory...but now, it is finally complete. I saw his photo on TV, and understood how he looked is complete, but a bit too late. I can never get that photograph with him now, but I can remember. I will remember him forever, not as a bearded old man, but a faceless freind who has supported me and revealed a new path for a life connected with nature. I want to follow the path he has laid out for me, and connect with nature.
No, Mr. Tejasvi, you have not left me, are alive through your books.