Thursday, October 23, 2008

Family Matters

Scene: Bee returns to an empty home( that is being renovated)from work after a long day. Feet propped up against the day bed with his laptop trying to finish up some work (or so he claims). Door bell rings. Stirs, annoyed he opens the door. Two men standing outside with a.
Man 1: "Sir ye bed deliver karna tha. Deeri hogaya"
Man 2: Stares
Bee (Points to the room where the bed is to be placed) "Waha raklena" Irritable goes back to working on the comp.
Man 1 and Man 2 place the bed and stand beside the main door discussing something with great seriousness and looking at Bee. Man 2 urges Man 1 who finally hesitantly come to Bee and says
"Sir kuch chai pani dena" (Meaning give me some bakshisk/ tip).
Bee (who is always gnerous, but not too good with hindi and implicit meanings in the language)annoyed at having gotten home late and tired misses the implicit meaning and with sarcasim dripping says " Aree mai ghar mei akela hu, kya mai jakar thu logo ke liya chaai bana du?"
Man 1 is stunned. Man 2 steps in "Sorry sir. Good night" and run away.
Scene :Pizza is watching the tele. There is a break and ads start up. The owner of Country Club flashes on the tube (since he believes in starring in all his adds- which pizza didn't know!). He grins and says some "countrt club wabi blabi klabi Dubai" (county club opens in Dubai or some such thing).
Pizza is astounded. "Where do they get fellows that look like that? And why do they make them star in ads?!"
Well Pizza "wabi blabi" cause he's the star!
Bee goes to the dentist and is worse for it. He's home and he realizes that the session hasn't gone too well considering post the filling his tongue is bleeding owing to his problem tooth having become sharp? Or the filling come off? In agony he telephones the dentist. He is greeted by the receptionist (who is more interested in painting her nails as opposed to taking down appointments). Bee says "Hello, I just met the Doctor. I think the filling's come off I need to come by because my tooth is cutting m tongue. It's bleeding and it hurts".
Receptionist with profound advice "Ayo, you just don't eat with that side. Don't talk.Yella ok then tension yake?"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The "You" and "I"

Human beings are remarkable for their ability to remember and reason, and therefore to comprehend the circumstances of another without self experience. And yet, for this remarkable ability to remember and reason we human beings will never truely understand each other. Our comprehension remains just short of complete because of our individual memories and interpretations. This makes everyone alone, and this global communal "alone-ness" is the tragedy of human kind.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Other Side of You

“The door of a novel, like the door of a poem also shuts. But not so fast, nor with such manic, unanswerable finality”. Serendipity happened in the form of Vickers’ “The Other Side of You”. A wonderful blend of both genres. It meanders, yet at the same time there it is: the beginning and the end at one breath while captivating you through its 271 pages. I didn’t go looking for it- it found me perhaps.

The novel revolves around a failed suicide who is admitted to the care of a psychiatrist. Vickers portrays the therapeutic relationship in all it’s messy glory-its imperfections, its conflicts, its possibilities yet it is so much more than a mere insightful narrative of a relationship between a client and therapist. The Other Side of You is about relationships- the impact of (certain relationships) and the depths of the human soul. The style- simple, honest and beautifully subtle and wise in dealing with the complex subject of human relationships which Vickers does with unusual clarity. Her territory is the fault line along which memories of loss are experienced by an individual both as integral to his identity and as constraints on the engagement with the present. The lives of the characters is gently absorbing as it continues to resonate with pain, possibilities, regrets and redemption- all mirrored by art- implying that we all endure.

The novel deals with usual people- of real relationships, of suffering, hope and impact- of true connectedness, of love- which is in essence “…difficult. And demanding. And a nuisance”. It is raw and yet moving in its emotional tone which ironically though laden with charged emotion is neutral. It is a multi layered book that reminds me of the themes of Eliot’s “The Cocktail Party”. A sustained examination of love, exploration of the connection between faith and people, levels of human trust, art and redemption. It examines love through timidity or lack of self worth, of how we allow it to elude us; of relationships, of choices and responsibilities and the search for self and truth. Despite dealing with themes of love, self, life it is not a “mushy” or vaguely romantic novel. Rather, it suggests that suffering is necessary and part of life and that opportunities for happiness should be taken whenever offered. It resonates a thought that I have often had myself in the context of therapy and my own life “There is no cure for living” as one of the characters puts it. Although deceptively simple in form The Other Side of You tackles huge and troubling questions of human relationships- of people living in people and being inextricably tied to another in soul- of love being here, then not, then here again, transforming and transformed. It is a brave, insightful book on the quest for honesty and human authenticity

It has traces of Eliot all through. It is a fantastic read albeit a serious one. How shall I describe it? It made me think of how certain people/ relationships become a part of one’s existence and being and cannot be washed off not for want of trying. Sort of like a clear glass globe, self complete, very pure, with a forest, a place, animals or people in it. You turn it upside down, then back. It snows. Everything is changed in a minute. A lifetime has changed in a minute. It will never be the same again in there- nor the fir trees, nor the gabels, nor the faces. Nor life. There is another who is you. "Ferociously readable"!

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
-But who is that on the other side of you?

(T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Edward Scissor Hands

I decide to get my hair trimmed (note trimmed). The lady who deals with the tresses has quit. I decide to try "Habeebs" on the recommendation of a particular someone I accidently tried to poision (with coffee!). I walk in. Everyone seems rather unoccupied. Ouch! Maybe it's not such a good idea- but it's pouring cats and dogs outside. Hence, the decision to have the tresses trimmed. Bad decision- I figure in retrospect!

Male with pink lips, effiminate mannerisms and a blond streaked hair do (which was far from inspiring confidence or style or anything positive) is to be my hair dresser. I repeatedly tell the chap ('cuase I'm wondering if he comprehends English- most hair dressers don't) that I just want a half inch trim (also 'cause I don't want my head looking even vaguely like his). Plus, I did'nt trust his sense of "style"! He mumbles something and smiles with exaggerated flourish! He's done in about half an hour. Voila! He's chopped off over 12 inches in jagged patterns to resemble what my grandmom would have reffered to as "ili thindhange" (rat eaten). I glare daggers. He smiles with all his pearly whites. I want to remove them and put them in his palm for him to count! " Whats wrong with you? I said half an inch trim! Which part of it did you not understand?" He's still smiling now looking like a weasel- moron "Madam it became a little short! What to do?" "You crazy person it's over eleven and a half inches short"(His math was even worse than mine!) " But madam, a haircut and a trim cost the same!" Your's truely is generally a very peace loving creature but at that moment all I wanted to do was poke him in the eyes and say " You see luv, this is what they call shooting daggers!"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Zoo -School

The Valley (a school I moved to in fourth grade) was more of a zoo than a school! It housed a panther (or two), scorpions, snakes, mongoose, monkeys, wild boars a wide variety of birds (I even saw a bird of paradise once) a whole lot of birdbrains and of course strange kids including us! A geography teacher whose idea of teaching us about sedimentary rocks was to make us watch "Cliff Hanger" with her in the theater! A chalk chewing history teacher!A games teacher who used to wear a great neon green stone ring and threaten kids including your's truely with "Shut it your muth before I cut it your pants and make it your shorts"! A math teacher who sang more than he taught! A stoned sociology teacher who attended classes (rather taught- I liked her) in absentia. There were of course several strange creatures such as Sam (he was from Amrika) who taught us or rather attempted to teach us topography. I have a vivid memory of him since he always smelt of dog powder and he believed we were all so poverty striken in India that we couldn't afford paper or pencils (plus his head was always dirty!)! Weird! We also had shoe flinging kids (belonging to teachers) who would run into class and casually fling some footware into the class maybe trying to distract the class little knowing there was hardly anything he was doing for there was no class and we were distracted to begin with!
I guess kannada classes were the most fun- for several reasons. We got to sit cross legged on the floor and place the hard bound kannada text on the low table and doze behind it's hard bind to the background of "Chinte matu etra kathegalu or Kanyakumari matu itra kataglu"!If Babbu caught you dozing which he did once all hell would break loose with "An maduta iddiya? Nenge gotta nanu tumba freocious agbid thene!" Well he did have reason considering once the dust bin we placed on the door unintentionally fell on his head when he walked in instead of our intended target! Considering all things Babbu was a kind soul- with not a bit of fierceness in him!
Us zoo animals were given a regular diet of ragi malt at 10.00 am, lunch consisted of apparently vegetarian food which included dishes like bolt garnished upma, papad fried with a spider, cockroach flavoured buttermilk etc and snacks (in the similar range) and the director (a true speciman) believed coke was unhealthy (but grass was not????) and took it upon himself to help us "grow" (in twisted ways?) by taking "culture" class (what culture meant to him he still has'nt been able to convey) and how one should "not" make money yada, yada! We leared that people differ(and how!), learned to grow in harmony if nothing else ! And think of strange things as not so strange!