May 7, 2013
Some people are happy with rules. They adapt those that seem sensible to them and create more for themselves in different situations. Living within a structure of sensible habits seems to make life easier and the back straighter. I am one of these people. But last weekend I suddenly realised that some of the rules we create for ourselves can boomerang and make us miserable.
Friday and Saturday , going to the market weighed heavily on my mind while clouds loomed gloomily up there. Shopping in the open Ooty market with the rain pelting down and water from shop roofs pouring down my raincoat collar and handling bags with wet hands was a prospect that kept making me postpone the visit. But it kept going around my mind . I kept getting up and going to the window to check on the clouds and the likelihood of rain.
Until I had to confront the nagging thought. Was it such a big deal? Can’t I manage the weekend without fruit? This is just an idea and I am letting it control me. Once I looked at the niggling thought right in the face, I could settle down to enjoy an afternoon at home. Yes, while the rain pelted down outside. I thought some rules are meant to be guides and not hard fast rules.
But now I do have a new rule. The 20 minute rule which I use to face tasks which I would rather not be doing. I set up a timer and start doing tasks like washing up or ironing or exercising. Sometimes I extend beyond the limit or I stop and find that a great deal of it is done. 20 minutes is not so daunting as 40 minutes or half an hour would be.
Now I’m in the 20 minutes morning writing habit
May 3, 2013
Straight from the garden into the pot!
What can make a person burst more with pride and happiness ? After one’s kids of course.
The earthy feel of veg you’ve grown yourself in a tiny patch is something that touches a primal root you didn’t know existed till it comes pushing its way out.
For a minimal investment, so much satisfaction.
Its only sad that the farmers never get their due. Its the middle men who make the money. Ulavar sandais, a great idea to help farmers , is unfortunately filled with more middle men, the very people that were supposed to be weeded out.
April 19, 2013
Snooty Ooty conjures up a picture of planters sipping cognacs while an uniformed Indian (without slippers ) pulls off his master’s boots and then serves perfect sandwiches to beribboned and bonneted memsahibs.
Of course we know this is an image created by movies and books; but people coming up to Ooty expect the town to have a different atmosphere and different lifestyle from towns and villages in the plains below. Rolling lawns, pretty flowers, cool and clean air at the least.
Ooty does its best to deliver inspite of increasing crowds and strain on the infrastructure. A town where a population of 1 lakh lives and hosts the same amount of people every day during the Season. We have the Tourism Festival, the Tea festival, the Flower Show, The Boat Regatta, The Horse Races, Cultural Shows , everything meant for the tourist . The clubs, the billiards rooms, the lake, the pretty gardens, the race course are at their glittering and colourful best.
Where does their support system for all this show hang out? The bearers, the nurses, the cleaners, the tea estate workers, the mason who build all those resorts , the people in the shops , the people hawking yellow flowers and woolen caps. The guys who row the boats, the guys who fry the chicken , the women who clean the rooms.
Besides the wine shops and cinemas. It’s at the temple Festivals of course.
And the biggest in Ooty is the Mariamman theru. The ther takes about 12 hours to be pulled around the market. Starting at 1.30 p.m., it circumambulates the market and ends up at the temple again in the early hours of the morning.
Through the night, people flock to throw salt at the deity, feel blessed, state their requests and then move off to look at all the shops.
Its a thiruvizhaa. Anyone who has grown up within walking distance of the market makes their obeisance at some time during the evening or night. The very sentimental may come back to Ooty just for the festival. Groups of families dressed in their very newest clothes make their way to the festival. The convent educated imports like me may talk of crowds and discomfort and stay away.
The main deity is preceded by a number of smaller ones, each sponsored by a particular group or community.
Enterprising boys will come out with their makeshift cart and clink their hundis at all passersby.
And it’s this that lured me out of the house instead of an evening spent on the couch. Now I’m there to cheer on my kids from my area with their little ther.
But the sheer joy and excitement of seeing the normally vehicle packed streets around the market turn into a joyful market selling every colourful thing possible infests me and everyone. I buy a couple of things I don’t need.
Various groups and organizations sponsor stalls doing different things. One offers a brightly green coloured kesari. Another offers badam paal. Over it all are the strains of the loud band sponsored by the Mel Gate Mootai thookum Thozilalar sangham celebrating 40 years of their Sangam. As the night and the ther progresses, the songs will move from the religious to the raucous.
It could only happen in India.
March 25, 2013
The early hours of the day are wonderfully special, sprinkling magic on deserted roads and the few people about ; infusing them and oneself with a special halo of briskness, zeal and industry.
Walkers in pairs, surprisingly many are women, a few sweaty joggers swinging their T-shirts around, dog walkers, people who have to be at work rushing to catch their bus, a few people off the train trying unsuccessfully to get a lift, milkmen, newspaper distributors – one feels a strange camaraderie , one of a special band.
I pick up Miriam and we are at the foot of Marudamalai in Coimbatore, at 5.30 a.m. while darkness shrouds the countryside and the hills above. Bright lights on the roadside, in the tea shops, in the buses that start pulling up alongside unburdening streams of green clad men and boys dispel any sense of loneliness or fear.
We start climbing briskly. We don’t talk. Partly because we are lost in our own thoughts ; partly because we can’t. Oxygen barely fills our lungs. All the fears I had before I started, of pain in the knees, joints, ankles, tiredness find no room. We stop for a minute to let our lungs rest a couple of times. Otherwise its a smooth steady climb.
In 30 minutes we are up at the temple and we have a good unfettered darshan of the vibhuti covered brightly decorated Muruga. Afterwards, we stroll around in leisure examining all the little nooks we never have had time before to investigate. We join other people sitting in meditation in front of the shrine to the pambu siddhar. We go around the Pillaiyar with 5 heads, consecrated under an old tree which is actually 5 different species of trees growing together. We happily slurp up the prasadam which a generous devotee offers.
And then we are going down at a faster clip. We see a one legged man slowly hopping up, shaming our fears. And we meet with a woman who is painstakingly anointing each step with chandanam and kumkumam and lighting a bit of camphor on each of the thousand and more steps. So much of faith! Will it ease her backache on the morrow?
A wonderful trip to a temple I have been to so many times but never quite like this.
February 15, 2013
Revisiting the Pykara waterfalls near Ooty with a young niece and her new husband , I remembered clearly a moment of epiphany I had experienced there a few years ago when I was there with another bunch of the family.
We sat on the banks of the wide river and watched it flow by fast and swift over a hundred rocks. The rocks were flat and scattered all over the river. The sun glittered on the water. The rocks looked bare and inviting, just the right space apart to cross the river. Not too easy but fordable. We could get to the other side it looked like. The water didn’t look too deep in case we slipped.
The right adventurous sort of thing for a young man we thought. Teenage hulk Sajit, my nephew, was just sitting with us . Promptly, I began urging him to cross the river. My sister joined in. He wouldn’t budge. I began feeling frustrated. What a wonderful thing to do and why wasn’t he doing it?
And then it struck me, if it was so wonderful why wasn’t I doing it but telling someone else to do it? I took off my shoes and said I was going to cross. My sister joined me. Sometime later my nephew followed us.
And then a whole lot of other people.
This time, there was a board saying that people shouldn’t cross the river; it was too dangerous. I’m glad we did it when we could, in sheer blissful ignorance and happiness.
I wish I could say I don’t urge my children any more to do different things. I do on occasion. But I urge myself more often to try things which seem so desirable for other people. And very often, they do turn out well.
November 7, 2012
My birthday passed by this week. It wasn’t particularly a momentous day, one that I will remember in the years to come. But looking back, I really can’t recall any that were particularly momentous. In childhood I must have had birthday parties with my mother making a terrific effort to cook and feed. But I cannot evoke particular events although the choked up excitement before a birthday is hard to forget.And maybe that is why photographs are so useful.
I remember a birthday when Sindhu managed to make and bake a cake for me as a surprise during the time I was out on a walk. Another birthday when both the kids arranged a surprise party for me at Sumathi’s. Another when they made lots of small cards themselves with mad messages. This time it was a nattily dressed package with an even more beautifully packaged bag inside with three packets of coffee from CoffeeDay sent by Sindhu. Certainly a surprising gift.
While several people wished me on Facebook and on the phone, three friends took it on themselves to arrange a party in the library. It was fun.
Which brings me to the realization that birthdays are about other people making us happy with wishes and gifts.
How do I make myself happy?
This November I have finally succumbed to Nanowrimo and started writing about 1800 words a day. Since Nanowrimo, doesn’t ask for much; it doesn’t ask you to submit work or ask you to write great stories or to write in a certain way; it asks you to write 3 pages everyday on your own – 1600 words a day for 30 days; not edited or seen or scrutinized. It’s a very doable project.
Novel writing or just writing is making me very happy. It could be bad, mad or just plain ..yawn. It is probably chick-lit since a first novel usually has large chunks of autobiography. Which makes me wonder is there cock-lit or bull- lit?
Seth Godin writes
Don’t wait for the right answer and the golden path to present themselves.
This is precisely why you’re stuck. Starting without seeing the end is difficult, so we often wait until we see the end, scanning relentlessly for the right way, the best way and the perfect way.
The way to get unstuck is to start down the wrong path, right now.
Step by step, page by page, interaction by interaction. As you start moving, you can’t help but improve, can’t help but incrementally find yourself getting back toward your north star.
You might not end up with perfect, but it’s significantly more valuable than being stuck.
Don’t just start. Continue. Ship. Repeat.
And that’s why I’m here. To write and get better and write and find a way.
September 15, 2012
What kind of morning after is an Indian woman who has lived 5 decades, three of them taking care of the family home likely to have? Waking up with a flat feeling, a sour taste in the mouth, the thought ‘never again’ coursing in and out as she makes coffee?
Its the morning after the painters have left or in this case , the masons .
A series of ’why’ crowd each other rapidly, tumbling to be first in line .
Why do I let myself be conned into paying more than agreed? Why do I think up extra work to be done at the tail end? Why did I order those tiles that are destined to get mixed up and delayed? Why do I let them leave the house and garden a total mess? Why do I let them get away besides the fact that I have been wanting to get away from them for a couple of weeks?
And most of all, why don’t I just let things be and stop getting reacquainted with masons periodically, shortening my life considerably?
I guess the answer lies in pictures like this
which makes one sigh and try to be a better person and deserve them .
No, no way does our house look like this. But, we try:-)