Truth Decided It

It was truth, I swore

So did he

It was nothing but the truth.

We started where we ended

Then we went about

And came back to where we started.

Until, we heard it said

truth be yours

truth be his

and truth be mine

we looked around perplexed

and asked

“Did you hear that?”

Yes, he said

and we looked at each other

like it was the first time.

Then we heard the voice

“You heard, but I spoke”

and our truths are thus different.

That decided it

and then we walked together.

Hush

Hush, I said

calm

compose

shut your eyes

sleep

the world that seeks

will wait at the window

the men that ask

keep them at the door

hush I said

calm

compose

shut your eyes

sleep

the world that you seek

waits on you

hold,cherish,hold

the mind, let her talk

the heart, listen to her

and forget.forget.forget.

Coz it is what it is

Coz there is nothing like failure in life

every step is just a turn

every move is just a step

to that eternity

coz there is nothing like victory either

every fall is just a rise

every reality just a dream

coz there is nothing to lose

in doing what you choose

there is nothing mean

in being just who you are

coz life is just a happy memory

which will glide by

folding you within it

so go on sing your song

find your joy inward and outward

& let only the fragrance of your soul linger,till it will.

 

Of Fear To Be

A little fear has crept into my heart

fear of failure

despite many before

in life, in love, in living and yes, in earning

failures that helped me be

failures that taught me who I am and who I am not

failure to convince, to cajole, to maneuver

failure to hold the centre stage and parade

failure to manufacture out great looking food

while still managing to create great food

failure to change, to adapt, to assert

failure to stand up at times

yet, today a fear of a failure all too familiar

of telling a story, ah, funny, that’s what I love the most

yet there it is, in the corner

of perceived notions of planning, effectiveness and a certain show off

a tingling sensation of will I be?

won’t I be?

then smile, breathe, peace

if failure is mine,so is victory

many times over and over

in small yet significant measures

coz I am this and I am that too

both failure and success and everything else

coz there is nothing like failure but just another lesson to remember

go be the story teller, be the writer, the speaker, the traveller, the trainer and the teacher

go be the lover of words, of arts, be the leader and the innovator and the protector, ah, yes, that is important

go be the receiver of love, of respect, of name and fame in measures that fit you

go be you, be who you be

go rule the world, coz all that is within you is without!

 

 

Compar-abilities!

“I went to take the blessings of my father on my birthday. He said, How old are you da? 25, I said. What?! that Sharmaji’s son is 26, said my father,” joked Vikas Sangam,of the famous Punchtantra, in his hilarious toastmasters speech.

Some samples of ‘comparomaniacs showcasing their compar-abilities’:

Mother and daughter walking to  the market work or any other place, by-stander: “Mother and daughter, oh, like sisters only. Why such a dark mother got a fair daughter? What you ate during your pregnancy, tell me, no, I want to tell my daughter too. She is not fair just like you! ”

Mother to the darker son” Who will give you their girl da? You are soooo dark. Good that you are not a girl.Thank god.”

Anonymous onties and ankles” What you are not taking care of your daughter properly? Why she is becoming dark like this? Use kumkumadi thailam, I used it in my younger days. Works like magic.”

“Appa, why this girl is soo fat, at this age? How will you get her married off? Do something no! So much technology nowadays.My cousin is an expert in this field. Take this number and try some thing will work, don’t worry”. (The same onties and ankles will never turn up with remedies if you are diagnosed with some thing serious, mind you!)

“Kala come here, stand next to Lata, see who is taller? What is your mother giving you Kala, you have grown tall. Don’t grow too tall ok, you will not get a boy for yourself”.

“Such a tall boy pa, you are, who will marry you, Mr.ladder? No body will give you their girl!”

” Why your sister has such thick hair, so long too and black? Why is yours so less? I can almost see your scalp.Difficult ok, people will make fun of you!”

“Did you hear that Sarala bought a flat, so young, so smart she is? That is how intelligent people are. You are well into your thirties and no flat! I feel so bad when people ask me about your situation. What do I tell them?”

“My aunt’s sister’s child has just given birth to a boy. Now you have been married for 10 years and no child! It’s so embarrassing. I can’t face my relatives. (This despite whatever the couple are doing to get the child at well timed intervals.) I will die without seeing a grand child!

To a well-to-do friend said another” You are really smart. Managing so much. So brave. But in your school time and all you were never so good, no! So shy you were, I still remember.”

A rather ticked off mom-in-law determined to destroy her daughter-in-law’s confidence, “How your breasts look! Like an old woman’s. I don’t know why my son married you! I was never like this in my youth!”

“In my entire khandan, no girl ever gave birth to a girl. All of us have given birth to boys!”.

” You are tall but see how I actually look taller than you! It is always like that, right from my childhood”, mother/mother-in-law to bahu/daughter.

“Nowadays even you look fairer than me,” said a desperate mother to a daughter.

“Your baby is soo dark, is it because of your husband?”

The list is endless and one can just go on and on. If only we learnt to be a little more sensitive and kept our mouths shut a little more, the world would be a better place for all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memoirs of a Geisha- A Review

I read a book with the intensity of a school girl after a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience so much so that I slept with the book and carried it around 24X7.

I remembered those’book-wormish’ days of the past…It was fun to be absorbed totally into an alien world and let go of yourself. Like the father in Tagore’s famous short story, ‘Kabuliwallah’, I can call myself a happy armchair traveler, entering into the secret, mysterious world of the giesha, who beneath their alluring and much romanticized make up of  white and garish red live to preserve the culture and traditions of a nation famous for its technological advancement.

I then watched a BBC video of a young girl who chose out of herself will to be a geisha, today a preserver of Japanese tradition and culture,its arts and dances and of course the grand tea making ceremony. She looked happy enough and seemed to be more in control of her life than her many predecessors.

In memoirs of a Geisha we are taken to a time when a Geisha was a much accomplished woman, trained to entertain men and readied to offer sexual favors for those who chose so and was entirely owned by retired geisha-matrons who ran the geisha homes.

Young girls like Chiyo Chan, the protagonist of this book, were then sold to geisha houses where they had to undergo a rigorous drill to become the perfect entertainer who will be the most popular one in the whole of Kyoto,the then capital of Japan.

The little girl’s initial disenchantment with her new surroundings,so different from what she expected it to be, her separation from her only sister, Satsu and the many cruelties inflicted upon her by the senior Geisha,Hatsumomo and her breaking down many times in loneliness and helplessness touches the heart of the reader.

The same Chiyo though later gets so enticed by the world of a Geisha that she secretly aspires to become the most famous and the most elegant geisha in the town. She accomplishes her dream under the tutelage of the graceful yet practical training and supervision of Mameha, Hatsumomo’s key rival.

Chiyo transforms into the much desired and  famous Geisha, Nitta Sayuri under the careful eyes of Mameha whose tireless efforts in getting Chiyo the necessary attention among the rich and famous men gets Chiyo to her dream.

Did Chiyo anticipate that her virginity would be sold off to the highest bidder, that she would be attracted to the ‘Chairman’ the elder man who had once stopped to speak kindly to her when she was a lonely broken and unhappy child?

Did she enjoy her journey of having to please all every time? Did she have any secret desires apart from meeting the Chairman and eventually being able to marry and live with him? The story does not give us much insight.

The language used by the writer is beautiful, richly layered with many similes and metaphors, beautiful descriptions and even elaborate efforts to veil sexual encounters to the fantasy of ‘an eel finding a cave’. That is the first time I ever read such a description!

One thinks of  the many novels by Pearl.S.Buck like the ‘Letter from Peking’, ‘Peony’, ‘Good Earth’ which sell the idea of an exotic east to the reader. ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ does the same by  weaving  a fantasy of a young girl reaching the heights of stardom on the strength of her pale startlingly beautiful grey eyes and her training and ability to please men.

While one may object to the obvious objectification of women, the writing is a treat,so smooth that reader saunters into the rich tapestry of Japanese way of living, the pictures of gliding geisha, fluttering eyes, the dance and the many bows remain for a long time like the lingering effect of an expensive perfume.

Chiyo is indeed a very unlucky girl who happened to believe in the kindness of the first sophisticated man she ever met one Mr. Tanaka who befriended her and later sold her off to Okaya a house of Giesha in Kyoto.

In the face of the hunger and poverty at her home as the daughter of a fisherman and his ailing wife, Chiyo set all her hopes for a better life in a vague dream of being adopted by Mr. Tanaka The writer takes us through the many trials and tribulations Chiyo faces in her life till she finally ensconced  herself as the best among the geisha far and wide.

Worth a read and a re-read to appreciate the poetic language.

 

Simble School Teacher??? Eh!!!

“So, you are a school teacher! Hmm… well its not about your knowledge, I can’t dispute your expertise in your subject but for the corporate… well! madam, I don’t think you are fit for that. You see we deal with the top, the very top, the senior most in management. Sorry, Good luck!”

“You know it is your simplicity that is getting in the way. You should dress differently. The corporate style! You see our clients are used to seeing our trainers differently”.

“It’s a fitment issue, I am not sure you will be able to make it, sorry”.

” You need to dress differently madam, you really need to, ours is a upmarket set up.”

Well, I was dressed decently enough, I had worn a sari. And since I was going to teach or train, I didn’t think that my dressing should come in my way of growth or employment but it did, many times! Some times the board was kind enough to tell me on my face otherwise the excuses were pretty stale but it was always the prejudice against a school teacher that I found hard to take.

I have always been a proud school teacher and had thought that the ‘respect’ in the Parent Teachers Meet was mine to keep, a well-deserved reward.

I now realize that it is not the lack of money keeps the youth from teaching, it is the lack of respect.

Yet, the founder president of a huge educational institution talked to me as if I were his best friend. I am told that he talks to every one in the same manner. When I quipped, ” Why are you so modest? I almost forget that I am talking to a CEO,” he smiled. ” I have been like this always and don’t intend to change now.”

A colleague who could have ‘simplicity’ as her middle name asked me, “What could I do to make that grand first impression?”

I had no answer to that. Is it the grand brand you wear? Is it the bright hues you sport? Is it a certain cockiness in your manners?

A young girl on an outing said,” At the mall, I was dressed in a Sari and was hanging out with my boy friend, when a certain some one rudely pushed me aside. I was so annoyed. What did she think? Just because I was dressed in a sari! I gave her right back in my convent- English and shut her mouth. She could only gape at me!” . ” After all, I am a toastmaster, I give as good as I get”, she giggled.

My classmate at college, Lilly had once said, “When I go to post office or any other public place, I always speak English. The service is fast and respect I get is great.” And that was in  Kerala in 1996!

Recently a lady security guard was unhappy with the way the warden talked to her. She said, ” Swalpa respect bekalva! Should I not get some respect? How dare she scold me in front of the maid? Does she know that I have land that costs more that 3 crores. If I sell it I can employ her. Stupid woman! I come here for this meager for a reason!”

When I first came to Bangalore and went around looking for a house to rent, the cab driver remarked pointing at an old man driving his luna, “Madam, see that man, he gets 2 lakh as rent alone for his apartments, yeh, Bangalore hai madam, you can’t say what  a person is worth by just looking at him.”

I am reminded of a certain ‘missile man’ who spoke slow, in simple English, yet had the whole nation fawning over him.

With such role models, what is there to fear and why change now? ” To quote the gentleman” I have always been like this and don’t intend to change now.”