Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Shaken, Not Stirred Revolution

When I was a little girl, we used to cultivate farms below the house, grow paddy and the like. I don't quite remember much of it, though I do know that labour got more expensive and we had to abandon farming because the returns were not that attractive then.

There are many houses there now.
I wish I had read Fukuoka many years ago.

A conversation about education at the house of a friend reminded me of his work. I think it was in the 10th standard that we had a lesson on him about how formal education is more to appease the societal pressures than because you learn anything worthwhile. A degree is what gives you societal acceptance. I personally would have preferred a more non formal education. Given that I hated textbooks, that thought stuck with me.

Years later, I scourged the net for an e-book version of Masanobu Fukuoka's famous 'The One-Straw Revolution'. Mr Murthy from Select hunted a hard copy of the book for me too and as I read it, scarily, there is a kindling. Maybe the fire wasn't totally out at all.

Now the book is more a technical manual on farming. But his ideas force you to open your mind. For as long as I have known, paddy is grown in a flooded field after ploughing and everything. He talks of growing paddy in a temporary watered, dry field on a land that has not been ploughed for 20 years! Not that I would know much about farming in the first place, but still the thought of not doing anything at all with the land and letting nature take its course is a little hard to accept.

It is a lovely book; the copies are hard to get. Mail me people if you want the e-book version.

That got me thinking, no matter how exposed to new ideas you are, no matter how liberal your upbringing, no matter how open minded you are, there still comes a bigger idea, a stranger notion, a more liberal thought that shakes you up. It does become hard to keep a constant open mind, to not judge people for what they do, to instead accept their different responses to different situations and not let that form the greater opinion of the person itself. Fukuoka's book, in that, isn't at all about farming, now that I think about it.

My mind is now shaken, though not yet stirred completely. The acceptance or rejection of ideas and situations and decisions or otherwise will probably be my revolution.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Days of Our Lives

Pardon me, my brain has temporarily gone on strike because I have not been giving it enough sleep. Like I mentioned, I am sleep deprived, and severely so. Pardon me if I hallucinate. Or talk sense.

One moment there was noise all around me in the office, the usual chatter, the phone incessantly ringing, the stupid jokes, the tap-tap of keyboards, the usual office noise. And then, suddenly, my brain-on-strike had a striking thought. It was like the rest of the world had come to a stand still, including me, and the other me was looking at it all like it was some kind of movie. You know what I mean, like that scene in The Matrix where Neo and that other guy look at the world.

And so, it felt like that scene for a few moments, these days of our lives. Does it happen often to others too? I saw my friends around, all chattering about, working, joking, living life. I saw me doing all that. It felt almost surreal... gosh...I cannot quite explain it....

Lives are being led, friends are so very important to a fulfilling life. Conversations, gossip and ranting sessions over chai, telling each other to stay away from fatty food, trips to the international cafe nearby, working, looking at pictures and making more friends and hanging out and dreaming dreams and trying to make them work and fantasizing and going out and trying to cope and making plans and shopping and family and stories and deadlines and stress and walks and life!

Everyone I know is doing all these, I do these things. I don't quite know what I want to say here. Maybe just that I feel like a spectator in my own life sometimes. Maybe it is the thought that I might not be doing the things I do under other circumstances, maybe these are not what "me" is all about. Maybe this 'me' is another illusion in my life, or maybe it is the only reality.

To use the Bard's cliche, we are all actors; sometimes it is all the more true.

Sometimes I see me on stage with the others. Sometimes I don't quite understand myself.

This is one of those sometimes.

Pardon me, I told you my brain is on strike.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thoughts, Sometime in the Nights

I get my sleeping habits from dad, we both can sleep through pretty much anything. But lately, insomnia has stuck me, I can barely sleep and even when I do, it’s a highly disturbed one. And so my brain is severely sleep deprived, headaches rule my days, my leg’s still not healed and I am generally rather irritable these days. Livid is the word. A friend in office heard me snap and asked me if I was livid, a new word being tried out. Yes I am livid. And I kind of like that word too!

Well, given no sleep and all that, I have a lot of time to think at times, not at all a good thing, considering how things are at the moment. I have been getting a lot of reading though these days. I write at this hour now because I need my own words and the strength that an intimacy with them brings me. I write because I am thinking too much, thoughts that are flitting across my mind like those awful music videos with semi-clad women and incomprehensive lyrics. You know the kind I mean, the images on the screens are gone before your brain has the time to register them as a human form or otherwise. I hate that kind of fast editing. I hate some of the thoughts in my mind, I was happier without them.

Ok, the thoughts. Random things strike, some important, some I don’t write here. Just some thoughts. And some randomness to clear some space in my mind:

* The leg is yet to heal, darn. I continue to miss my walks.

* I had to use my credit card for something today (this story is to also say I got a new credit card! LOL) and was fidgeting about what the password was. Now that bothers me, how many online accounts I, and most people I guess, have. Cyber experts say that you should avoid having the same password for all accounts. But then, how do you remember so many?

I was trying to count how many accounts I have: Gmail, Yahoo, Flickr, Picassa, Blogger, Facebook, are the most usual culprits, of course, though most of them are interlinked, one id and password works. Then there is my online library, my bank, my office mail and HR portal for all my leaves, expenses and stuff. Then there is a railway account to book tickets, accounts in cinema halls to book tickets again, account with a travel portal for more bookings and holidays, a few music websites to download music and an umpteen others! Phew! And I am not even as much on the net as some people I know are. Its tiring to remember all these passwords.

* At least some roads near office have new boards by the city corporation. I don’t remember seeing the board to Church Street before. Maybe its something to do with the city elections next month.

* I didn’t like the prime minister announce voting rights for non-resident Indians today. It was the lead story in my paper and I cringed as I picked up my copy today. Don’t ask me why, I don’t like the idea. You can pounce on me, but I refuse to get into a discussion about it. I just don’t like it.

* The new poster man (he’s hardly a boy) for Indian science, the new Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan was in Bangalore recently. I am glad I did not go to his lecture. I didn’t quite like his attitude about India. Sure he is a fancy US chap now, but it wouldn’t have killed him to be a little happy that he is getting so much of attention. Plus his name is as Indian as a name can be. I wonder why we make such a production of claiming successful people as our own, even if those people themselves would rather not be identified so. We didn’t spare Obama either; the story about the little picture (or was it an idol) of Hanuman that he carries was met with awhs! And oohs! I don’t get it.

Do people in other countries behave the same way? Do they go ga-ga over their heroes who have settled abroad and made their millions or earned their Nobels elsewhere?

On that note, I am attempting to read Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent again. I find the theme of the book fascinating.

* These days, I am trying to make the perfect ‘saaru’ or rasam as most of you would know it. Its one of the simplest south Indian dishes ever, but I didn’t quite realise how tough it is to perfect it. They say that there are as many recipes for the humble saaru as there are households. The perfect blend of dal, tomato and onions, seasoning, the right amount of water, just the right salt and spices, ‘ingu’ (asafoetida) and a dash of lemon in the end gives you the most mouthwatering aroma. I tried out one of ma’s recipes today, it quite neared perfection. I loved the mystery of the combination of all the ingredients.

You know what, cooking is actually turning out to be a great de-stresser these days! Never thought I would ever say this!

Never thought I would ever think all the things I think either.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Closet Nomad

A closet nomad.
....where next shall the open road lead?
Uneasy feet.
That restlessness
I need no plans
Anecdotes will do
Stories I shall see
And retell.

I am the nomad
Show me the road
Not where it leads
Just the road
For me,
My nomadic soul
To tread on.