Friday, March 30, 2012

As clueless as a consultant


I recently attended a meeting of mental health and medical professionals from different organizations and listened to a BT( I am not saying who a BT is…to protect myself from their fury!) summarize his/her analysis of the patient’s behaviour and give his/her suggestions.
It was an exercise which impressed the parents of the client and maybe a few of the professionals sitting round that table. But to me it seemed to be a mere academic exercise aimed more at impressing the people at the table  with eloquence than with results. The client’s symptoms, behaviours, etc were analyzed and suggestions given on power point slides.
 But when it came to the bottom line of whether the suggestions given by the BT in his/her presentation had ever been tried and what was the result…the answer was that the suggestions had been attempted but as the client became aggressive, it was stopped! The BT had been with this client for nearly two years and had yet to figure out something which worked for this client. Instead  he/she was closing the case after this elaborate analysis and presentation of behaviour of the client and handing it over to another agency stating that he/she will ‘consult’ to  the next BT taking over the case!  I of course, had several objections to many of this BT’s analysis and suggestions but everyone round the table seemed so mesmerized by the lengthy presentation of …..(I do not want to use the word I really want to use here)
This seems to be the story in so many cases that now I have coined this term, “As clueless as a consultant”.
I am not suggesting that all BTs are clueless. I have had the good fortune to work with creative, intuitive, flexible and highly intelligent BTs whose assessments, analysis and suggestions are excellent. Not only that, they also  have the flexibility to change the techniques etc when they find that one technique is no longer working…a quality which several BTs seem to lack. The good BTs are constantly observing behaviours, identifying the changes and what drives the behaviours and adapting accordingly. The bad BTs seem to make one analysis and give one set of suggestions and are not dynamic enough to change when needed. When faced with a problem behaviour, they lack creativity, imagination, empathy and ability to identify what truly is motivating a certain behaviour. Some even close a case after meeting with a client a couple of times and state that  ‘ the issues have been resolved’! If behaviours were so easy to change, then life would be so damn easy for everyone isn’t it!
I guess I am writing this to let off some steam. I am so angry about the whole charade which lasted for 2 hours, wasting the time of about 15 people.(30 hours multiplied by  35$ per hour per person). Maybe it was all not a complete charade …maybe some of it was useful information but I am really put off by the  consultant who has the audacity to present his/her lengthy( but ultimately useless )analysis and suggestions and also admit that his suggestions have not worked but he /she is closing the case anyway and that he/she will ‘consult’ with the next BT who will pick up this case.
There is one more beef I have with these clueless consultants: Not the BTs but all mediocre consultants in all fields.
 They go in and give their analysis and advice and get paid big bucks for it…but they are never around to see if their suggestions work or not; never around to face the consequences of the outcome of trying out their suggestions……Here I am not referring to BT consultants but to the private consultants hired by companies to advise then, how to run their company better or to problem solve or brain storm for resolving some issue. I know an outside perspective is good in some ways but why dont companies take suggestions of people working within their own company?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

an exciting day

An exciting day
Though it was only 7 in the morning, the couple were already sweaty in the hot sun. They left the hotel before sunrise to escape questions from the inquisitive villagers. They reached the base of the Erannana Betta, a squatish sort of rocky mountain in a short while and had begun the ascent just as the sun turned from red to yellow.
The only sounds were of the birds chirping in the distance as they left their nests and the rustle of the leaves in the breeze. Climbing up, the couple were startled by pieces of brown rock seemingly coming to life and disappearing into the crevices. These turned out to be brown lizards, basking in the sun on the  rocks, invisible until they slithered away as the climbers approached.
The couple were busy with their thoughts. Both were glad to get away from the Canadian winter and be here in the India. Venky needed a break from his work; he wanted a break from people who came to him constantly with trivial problems; he wanted to get away from people and enjoy some solitude. But solitude was an exaggeration. Venky was a social creature and never sought to be alone. He wanted someone around…be they his wife Anitha, his friends or his family.
 Anitha thought of the abandoned temple at the top of the mountain and excitedly hoped to find something worthwhile in there. She had come armed with a metal detector, torch and even a small pickaxe to dig if needed. She knew that priests in olden days had buried gold under the temples to keep God’s wealth safe from the marauding Moghul invaders. The childish fantasies she had of treasure hunting stoked by the books she had read, still haunted her imagination.
Venky was excited about his new wide angle lens and wondered how many good shots he could get before the sunlight became too intense for good photos. He knew that this mountain had lots to offer. Dramatic views of the emerald green fields below, soaring eagles in the blue skies, massive boulders and if he was lucky, some wild life too.
Suddenly, he froze in his tracks…he had heard a sudden soft hiss. Paralyzed with terror, he saw   a  snake raise  it’s hood  with lightning swiftness, remain still for a second with hood upright, then  slither away with equal speed.  Hoarse with fear, he croaked, “Watch out!” Anitha, turned and just caught a glimpse of the fleeing cobra’s tail. She was not sure what she saw but was shocked by the dread in Venky’s face.
Unnerved, they stopped for a drink and rest. Shaken, by the encounter with the deadly reptile, Venky started talking voluminously; the chatter would scare away any other reptiles in their path, he hoped. The path got steeper as they climbed; they gripped the rocks for support but the rocks were already too hot in the blazing sun. They wanted support but din’t dare grip the strong but thorny bushes clinging to the path.
They wished they had dressed more suitably for this climb.
They reached the summit by ten O’ clock. The sun beat down on them and sweat poured off their backs. However the strong breeze was cool and refreshing. Weak-kneed, they lay on the ground, looking at the blue sky over them. The sunlight, bounced off the whitewashed walls of the temple and dazzled their eyes while the inside of the temple seemed like a deep, dark rectangular hole.
Sipping a little of the delicious though warm coconut water, they walked into the temple. Unsure whether to enter with the shoes on, or leave the shoes outside, they poked their heads into the temple’s doorway. Walking inside a temple with shoes is blasphemous for sure ! But who knows which scary creature may be crawling around on the temple floor!
The floor was dusty and cool. Spiders and lizards scampered away at their approach. Venky aimed his camera and excitedly told Anitha, not to move. He wanted to capture, the lizards crawling over the neglected & dusty stone idols, a rare sight. Anitha, impatient to explore the temple, asked him to hurry and started unpacking her gear.
Just as they were exploring the outer periphery of the temple, Venky came across a terrifying sight. Behind the temple, under the lone Honge tree, the couple came across a blood curdling fight between two natural enemies, the cobra and the mongoose. This was not the usual fight one sees in fairs where a captive mongoose fought with a captive and defanged snake but a real fight in the wild jungle!
The cobra hissed and quickly slithered forward, hood upright and struck at the mongoose. The mongoose, quicker, drew back, just out of reach of the cobra. The cobra, hood upright, struck again at the mongoose and the mongoose moved back only to jump forward on the cobra’s back and grab it’s neck. The snake encircled the mongoose in it’s coils for a few seconds but the mongoose came out of the coils and bit the cobra’s back again.
Anitha watched the fight, mesmerized by the fury, speed and deadly strikes of the snake and the equal fury, speed and agility of the mongoose. The two fighters fought on, oblivious to the humans watching their bloody duel. The couple realized this would not be a fight unto death as the snake nor the mongoose would give in.
Anitha, who had come out of trance by now, could not bear to think that either one will die. She gathered sand in her hands and threw it at the fighters with a shrill scream. The bloodied snake slithered away into the bushes.  The mongoose  gave one startled look at the 2 people, and quickly disappeared. For a brief, bitter moment, Venky rued that he had not captured a movie of this rarely seen fight but was ecstatic with the several photos he got.
It was time to explore the temple and the surroundings but Anitha was too scared and excitable to do anything now! She stepped fearfully on the grass, looking out for snakes and scorpions. Anitha held Venky’s arms tightly and refused to let go. They decided to have their lunch and rest; they needed to get their heart rate down before embarking on any other adventure.  They unpacked the lemon rice and curds rice and served it onto the banana leaves they had purchased from a farmer in the village. ‘Did you see the way the mongoose attacked the head of the cobra? ‘Venky asked. ‘Yes. My God! The mongoose was so damn bold and crazy…going after the cobra like that!’, Anitha exclaimed. Both were awed by the courage of the mongoose and admired it’s tenacity in going after the deadly cobra. Both agreed that the cobra was scary and gave them the creeps.
Eating the rest of the lunch in silence they watched the scene before them …the vast green land below and blue sky above with fluffy white clouds floating around. They could feel the cool gentle breeze fanning their faces and hear the distant chirping of the birds, palm leaves rustling in the wind and of course the ubiquitous trucks & buses. Venky nervously glanced around several times, half expecting the snake to return!
 I wish we could stay here forever’, Anitha told Venky. “Mmm. Yes. This place is so cut off from people. We could buy this mountain and build a small house here. Why build a house? We could live in the temple! You can paint and photograph daily while I write my novel” replied Anitha. Both laughed at this idea.
They were thinking of the glorious fight they had just witnessed. He thought of the photos he had taken and she was grateful that she did not have to see either of the two brave creatures die. Thoughts floated in and out of their minds like unbidden guests wandering around. This simple curds rice tastes so good !
 Is it because of the air? Or because we are hungry after that long climb? If we lived here, would we have cell phone reception? But why do I want a cell phone? Why not live here, in peace, cut off from the world? One can go to visit people when one needs them. Why do I need people anyway? To buy food? Can I live without tv, people, phones, books, work, friends…How long can I stay here before I get bored? One day? One week? What does one need to be happy?
Each thought that came into their minds chased away the previous thought and they sat, leaning against the temple wall, in companionable silence.
“Come on. Help me.”, Anitha asked, as she washed her hands and threw the empty banana leaves away. Venky grinned. He did not believe in the treasure which she had come up here for. He decided against teasing her, knowing she could take only a few seconds of teasing before she would lose her cool. “All right. Pass that here” he said and fixed the batteries into the metal detector. He knew they would have to descend in a few hours.  Descent from the hill, in the dark was unthinkable. He did not want to meet another snake, especially, in the dark! He had had enough snakes for one day!
But he also knew that Anitha was stubborn and would not come down, until she found something! He gave an exasperated sigh. He was raring to go home to his computer and check his photos and was impatient about this hunt for a ‘treasure’, he did not believe, existed. But he kept mum, knowing she would fly into a rage and accuse him of being selfish, if he suggested leaving now…  “You got photos which is what you wanted. And you want to leave; but what about me…I have to get something too.” Venky loved his wife but was terrified of her temper!
Anitha slowly passed her metal detector over every inch of space in and around the temple. Nary a peep out of the machine. Sweat rolled off her face and underarms, She was thankful for the balmy coolness she felt when the wind entered her loose cotton shirt. She listened intently for the beep as she swept the metal detector around. Venky followed her, also listening. We should have brought one more detector and saved time, said Anitha. Too late now, replied Venky.
Venky asked,  “Hey. What if the treasure is not metal? What if it is stone carvings? What if it is palm leaf books? Your detector wont detect”.  Anitha snapped. She knew, he did not share her romance about buried treasure and this had always irked her. She wished she could find something today to prove him wrong. But also knew the chances were pretty slim. Bringing the metal detector was only wishful thinking. Deep down in her heart, she knew, the odds of finding anything worthwhile were remote. Yet she hoped. She had heard since childhood, stories of her uncles finding silver coins in mud walls, gold ornaments buried in pots in fields and she hoped she too would find something some day. THIS DAY!
Then they both heard a soft peep. She was not sure if she imagined it and ran the detector on the same spot a second time. This time too the sound was faint but unmistakable. Her heart beat faster and she ran to get the pickax. He smiled and prayed, that after an hour of digging, she  would not end up with  some rusty old nails! He did not want to see her disappointed yet knew that finding treasure in this mountain, outside the poor, drought stricken village of Vaderalli was impossible. When the villagers have been poor for generations, what treasure is there to bury?
The ground was hard and Anitha wanted to pour their bottled water on the ground, to make it easier to dig. Venky firmly refused. He took the pickax from her and started digging. After making a hole, two feet deep they saw a muddy cotton bag, crumbling with several holes in it. Anitha excitedly, tugged at the bag and the cloth gave way completely. The bag had a dark & heavy  metal statue of Narasimha,. Anitha was grinning triumphantly with a ‘I told you’ look in her smile. Both gazed at the statue with joy and wonder. It was beautifully carved with exquisite detailing of the jewels, claws, mane of hair and clothes of the deity; the Lakshmi in Narashima’s lap was dainty with a slim waist, and  a beautiful face. It seemed to be carved in the Chola style. Venky guessed it must be at least a few hundred years old.
‘To whom does this statue belong? This is a Shiva temple and how can a Narashima statue be buried here? Do you think someone stole it? Do you think it belongs to the priest or somebody else? Who lugged it all the way up the mountain? How long do you think it has been buried here?’ Venky and Anitha babbled the questions at each other for which neither knew the answers. Anitha took the statue out and tried digging deeper in case, there was more inside. Venky asked her to stop being greedy. She then held the metal detector over the hole but there was no further beeps from the machine.
The discovery of this statue on the top of this remote mountain was a mystery to both. Who on earth owned this statue? The farmers in the village below were followers of Narashima but it was unlikely anyone of them would own statue. The farmers generally had  a cheap photo of the God Narashima nailed to a wall in their houses. The village priest was a Smarta Brahmin and a poor one at that. He was a follower of Shiva and so this statue could not belong to his family. The richest landlord in the village was certainly not religious and he was the type who would buy more land with his money or spend his money on women and drinks than on a statue.
What if the statue was buried by someone from outside this village, they wondered. But who would climb this little known mountain and bury this here? And why? Maybe the statue belonged to the Narashima temple in the village and for some reason, had been taken out and buried at the top of the hill. But how to find out more about the statue without revealing that they had found it? And whom do you ask? The villagers were mostly illiterate and did not know much about their own ancestors, let alone, the history of their village or it’s temple. There was little information about the background of this tiny village in any of the government documents too. The origin of this statue continued to puzzle them.
  Anitha was keen on taking this statue for herself but was also torn by her conscience. She felt she should make at least a small effort to find the rightful owner of this statue. She also knew how deeply disappointed she would be if she did find the rightful owner and had to give it up!
They had to try & find the rightful owner quietly. They knew how people would swoop down on them, claiming the statue, if they let out even one peep about this discovery! They were not cynical but knew how millions of antiques from India had been robbed by the very people who were supposed to care for them…the government departments such as the police, the archeology depts. Even the temple trusts had been involved in antique smuggling.
They packed their things and got ready to descend. Anitha carefully packed the statue in her bag and asked Venky to swear to secrecy. She had already grown attached to it and considered it her own. Venky said, ‘You are the one who can’t keep a secret. I bet you will blab about it to the first person we meet’. Anitha disagreed . If she had to shut up about the most exciting thing she had ever found in her life, so be it, she thought.
Venky felt sorry for Anitha. He knew how much she loved to talk and keeping quiet about this wonderful find, would be torture for her! She had been dreaming of finding buried treasure ever since she was a ten year old reading adventures and now to shut up when she found a buried treasure …it was awful !Anitha was quiet on the way down. She already felt crushed by the weight of her secret.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

MY FAVORITES AND SOURCES OF HAPPINESS

  • GOOSEBUMP GIVING FAVORITES:

  • BUMPING INTO THE PERSON YOU HAVE A CRUSH ON, ON THE STREET !
  • YOUR CRUSH GIVING YOU A COMPLIMENT!
  • KNOWING THAT YOUR CRUSH HAS A CRUSH ON YOU!

  • EATING FAVORITES:
  • EATING A FAVORITE DISH WHEN I AM REALLY REALLY HUNGRY.
  •  INDIAN SWEETS.
  • VOBATTU
  • MISHRA PEDA/DHARWAD PEDA
  • SALTED BOILED PEANUTS AND BOILED AVAREKAI.
  •  BAS SAARU WITH MUDDE.
  • HOT RICE WITH CHUTNEY PUDI(MY RECIPE CHUTNEYPUDI) AND GHEE
  •  VOBBATINA SAARU.
  • CHAPATI WITH HURALIKAALU HULI.
  • VIDHYARTI BHAVAN MASALA DOSA AND CHUTNEY.
  • KOKILA’S MUTTON BIRYANI.
  • IS-KID-BE-LE SARU WITH MUDDE AND TUPPA
  • DWARKA BHAVAN'S SET DOSE
  • HAVING LOTS OF HOT SPICY FOOD WITH COLD BEER ON A HOT DAY AFTER A LONG WALK AND THEN GOING TO SLEEP.
  • DRINKING
  • CHAMPANGE.
  • SAPOTA AND CUSTARD APPLE MILKSHAKES.
  •  MANGO AND BANANA MILKSHAKES.
  • TENDER WATER OF COCONUT.
  • MOJITOS ON A HOT DAY.
  • PERFUMES AND AROMAS AND SCENTS:
  • SMELL OF RAIN ON EARTH.
  • SMELL OF FLOWERS SUCH AS JASMINE OR SAMPIGE AND HERBAL PLANTS  SUCH AS MARGA IN THE GARDEN.
  • SMELL OF LOVELY PERFUMES, SOME FOODS, SMELL OF SPRING
  • A CLEAN NON-SMELLY TOILET IS SOMETHING I TAKE FOR GRANTED IN CANADA WHERE I LIVE. BUT IN INDIA, A CLEAN NON-SMELLY TOILET WAS WONDER WHICH MADE ME HAPPY AND GRATEFUL AND SLIGHTLY SAD WHEN I HAD 'FINISHED' AND HAD TO EXIT!
FAVORITE COLOURS:
 RED
EMERALD GREEN
MUSTARD YELLOW.
TURQUOISE BLUE

VISUAL AND AUDITORY PLEASURES:
  • LISTENING TO FAVORITE SONGS.
  • WATCHING VIDEOS OF MY FAVORITE SONGS ON MTV/VEVO.
  • WATCHING FAVORITE MOVIES AND TELEVISION SHOWS
  • AN EXCITING OR FUNNY MOVIE IN A THEATRE
  • WHEN A RARELY HEARD FAVORITE SONG COMES ON RADIO UNEXPECTEDLY.
  • WATCHING PEOPLE DANCE.
  • WATCHING A GOOD SINGER SING A FAVORITE AT YOUR REQUEST.
  • A PLEASURE I TAKE FOR GRANTED IN CANADA IS THE PLEASURE OF 'NOT-BEING-FORCED-TO-HEAR-CARNATIC-CLASSICAL-MUSIC! In India, I was forced to listen to Carnatic classical and devotional songs which poured into my unwilling ears from the speakers on the street and neighbour's radios.
  •  SILENCE is a wonderful pleasure I get in Canada. 
  • The SOUNDS OF NATURE are sometimes quite enjoyable such as the wind, breeze rustling through the leaves, some birds, etc
BODILY PLEASURES:
  • BOUNCING IN YOUR SEAT ON A  BUS WHILE RIDING ON A BUMPY ROAD DURING A LONG RIDE.
  • RIDES SUCH AS GIANT WHEEL, ETC
  • FEELING THE COOL BREEZE ON YOUR SKIN AS YOU SIT UNDER A TREE TO COOL OFF AFTER A LONG TREK ON A HOT DAY.
  • GETTING INTO A NICE BED AFTER A TIRING DAY
  • FINDING A CLEAN, COMFORTABLE, NON-SMELLY TOILET WHEN I URGENTLY WANT TO PEE ! FEW 'RELIEFS' CAN BEAT THE RELIEF ONE GETS AFTER HOLDING THE URINE FOR 8 HOURS ON A BUS JOURNEY OR WALKING AROUND IN A PLACE WITHOUT ACCESSIBLE AND GOOD  TOILETS!
  • NOT HAVING PERIODS.
  • SCRATCHING AN ITCH.
  • GETTING A MASSAGE TO RELIEVE A PAINFUL ACHE
  • S & RELATED STUFF
  • RIDING A CAR, WATCHING THE SCENERY AND DROPPING OFF TO SLEEP AS THE WARM SUN-RAYS COME THROUGH THE GLASS .
  • There are several experiences I fail to 'ENJOY', simply because I experience them on a daily basis and also effortlessly ...I take these experiences for granted and don't 'notice' them, until they are missing.  If I did 'MINDFUL' everything, then I would notice, I would take pleasure and I would be grateful, almost every minute of the day for the thousands of things! For example, cleaning my arse with water in my bathroom.  The pleasure(or should I call it 'absence of pain' of cleaning bum with a soft toilet paper is a nice experience. But I would realize it's a 'nice' experience only if I have had the 'pain' of cleaning my bum with a cheap, rough textured toilet paper.  An even greater 'pleasure' would be washing bum with water after the toilet paper. I have access to water only at home and not in public places. I would feel 'pleasure' of washing my bum with water only when I have experienced  the 'absence of pleasure' of wiping my bum with 'rough' toilet paper  and not having water to wash my bum.
  • If I did every activity of my day, 'mindfully', then I would notice and enjoy almost every second of my day as an enjoyable favorite...eating, sleeping, reading, talking, working, playing, walking, cooking, whatever.

PLEASURES WITH PEOPLE:
  • WATCHING A TODDLER WALK OR CRAWL OR PLAY.
  • VISITING YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
  •  CHATTING.
  • FINDING THAT STRANGER ON THE BUS WHO SHARES YOUR ATTITUDES AND GETS YOU PERFECTLY.
  • SLEEPOVER AT FAVORITE COUSINS HOUSE.
  • A GOOD STORY TELLER TELLING SCARY STORIES AT BED-TIME.
  • RETURNING HOME, TIRED AFTER A TOUGH DAY.. TO FIND THE COOKING AND CLEANINNG ALREADY DONE BY SPOUSE!
  • GETTING GIFTS...FROM PEOPLE YOU LOVE
  • GETTING GIFTS...WHICH ARE EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANTED!

JOYS OF PETS AND CHILDREN AND PEOPLE:
YOUR DOG JOYFULLY JUMPS ALL OVER YOU, LICKS YOU, WAGS AND BARKS WHEN YOU ARRIVE HOME.
YOUR FAMILY'S KIDS (NEICES AND NEPHEWS) COME RUNNING TO HUG YOU WHEN YOU ARRIVE
PLAYING WITH PETS
PLAYING WITH KIDS...WHEN YOU WANT TO


PLEASURES YOU ENJOY ALONE OR IN COMPANY:
  • WRITING WHEN IDEAS ARE FLOWING IN MY BRAIN.
  • READING FAVORITE STORY BOOKS & COMICS
  • DAYDREAMING .ESPECIALLY WHEN I GET  A NEW GOOD IDEA TO DREAM ABOUT !
  • FINDING SOMETHING YOUR LOVED ONES CRAVE FOR AND PRESENTING IT TO THEM AND WATCHING THEIR JOY
  • WATCHING PLEASANT ANIMAL AND BABY VIDEOS ON THE INTERNET!
  • SLEEPING LATE.
  • YOU FEEL YOU ARE 'LOOKING GOOD' AND FEELING COMFORTABLE IN YOUR CLOTHES AND ACCESSORIES.
  • BEING HAPPY WITH YOUR NEW HAIRCUT
  • LOOKING AT YOUR PHOTO AND FEEL THAT YOU LOOK GOOD IN IT
  • GETTING GOOD NEWS LIKE: YOU OR YOUR LOVED ONES GOT A PASS IN EXAMS, JOB OFFER,  VISA, GOT TICKET TO MOVIE, SOMEONE YOU LOVE IS VISITING, 
  • FINDING A FAVORITE MISSING OBJECT.
  • BROWSING IN USED BOOK STORES AND AN ADDITIONAL PLEASURE WOULD BE FINDING AN UNEXPECTED TREASURE
  • BROWSING IN THRIFT SHOPS & GARAGE SALES; AND A BONUS WOULD BE FINDING SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED.
  • BROWSING IN BOOK STORES.
  • WINDOW SHOPPING AT DESIGNER SHOPS .
  • LOOKING AT YOUR OWN COLLECTION OF OLD COINS. STAMPS. ANTIQUES.
  • BUYING NEW CLOTHES;THAT RARE OCCASIONS WHEN THE CLOTHES FIT YOU PERFECTLY, YOU LOVEE THE COLOUR, THE MATERIAL, THE DESIGN AND PRICE!
  • TRAVELLING TO NEW YORK OR BEACHES OR FAVORITE CITIES .
  • TREASURE HUNTING FOR REAL TREASURE.
  • WALKING ON BEACHES IN THE EVENINGS.(Beaches are not really my thing but I am putting it here anyway! I can spend happier hours in bed, reading or watching TV!)
  • FINDING ABANDONED BIRDS NESTS .
  • PHOTOGRAPHING.
  • WAITING FOR YOUR LOVED ONES EMAILS & LETTERS.  
  • WAITING FOR YOUR BEST FRIEND TO ARRIVE.
  • SITTING UNDER A TREE IN A FOREST, IN PRIVACY, READING.
  • RETURNING HOME FROM WORK ON FRIDAY EVENINGS  BEFORE A LONG WEEKEND.
  • SEEING ART WORK IN MUSEUMS.  
  • FINDING SOMETHING LOVELY UNEXPECTEDLY.
  • RECEIVING A LOVELY HAND MADE GIFT FROM A CLOSE FRIEND LIKE A PAINTING.
  • SPOTTING ELUSIVE WILD LIFE SUCH AS SNAKES, FOXES, RARE BIRDS SUCH AS PARADISE FLY CATCHER, COLOURFUL FROGS, WILD ANIMALS SUCH AS DEER. AN ADDED BONUS WOULD BE, BEING ABLE TO PHOTOGRAPH THEM.
  • WATCHING MY CAT'S VARIOUS ANTICS! MY CAT THROWING TEMPER TANTRUMS WHEN I DONT TKE IT OUTSIDE, MY CAT SITTING ON MY CHEST KNEADING, MY CAT CHASING AFTER A BALL I THROW, ETC.
After living for 50 years, I think I should be able to come up with a million more favorites which gave me joy, pleasure and happiness.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

crow's nest in urban India

I always believed that nests are built of grass and straw which a bird finds in fields and gardens. But I had to change my belief when I saw a crow's (most probably crow...but not 100% sure) nest which fell out of a coconut tree in a semi-residential area of bangalore. It weighed about 3 kgs or more and was built of mostly short metal wires with only a bit of straw & cotton in the centre to make a soft cushion for the birds  and their young ones! The wires were so interlocked, it was difficult to take the nest apart! It was an amazing feat of weaving, done only with a beak and two legs maybe! If I had had a camera then, I could have taken a photo maybe.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spring

Every year, some time in March, around morning time, I  feel happy for no reason. It is not happiness exactly but a feeling of lightness and optimism, a mildly intense energy and a mildly intense  desire to do something like travelling or playing or reading or cooking or some activity. I have tried to analyze why I get this sudden burst of lightness and energy every spring on one day. (Sometimes this feeling comes on more than once. But it is always in the morning hours, before 9) 
Is it because I am depressed during winter( maybe I am a mild case of SAD or seasonal affective disorder) and there is something in spring which triggers some biological mechanism in my brain? Does the sound of the birds, which was sort of missing over winter, have an effect on me? Or is it the bright blue sky coupled with the increase in temperature, the warm sunlight in the spring morning which opens up some 'happy' chamber in my head?
In India, a certain indefinable but distinct smell would trigger this feeling in me at springtime. It is a lovely smell  in the air outside….whether this smell is caused by the plants, trees and flowers or the soil I do not know. But this fragrence signalled the start of spring and summer to me and it also evoked these  feelings of energy, optimism and happiness. Usually I got this smell, only once and rarely more than once(in a year). It was a smell that came in with the early morning breeze through the windows at dawn. It was a bit earthy but I got this smell even in an urban place like Bangalore. This spring smell is different from the ‘totally’ earthy and heavenly smell one gets in Bangalore when it rains. Since I could smell this hevanly odor only once a year, for a few brief moments you can imagine, how precious this ephemeral sensation is to me!
I got that spring-feeling today i.e. March 7th, 2012  in Toronto. It was 

 that sudden burst
 of energy, optimism, lightness and excitement…for no reason. I wish I could capture that wonderful feeling and give it to others so they experience it themselves and know what I mean.

This wonderful fragrance also evoked from my memory,  poems I read in childhood which always evoked delightful ‘summertime’ & ‘holidays-from-school’ feelings ! The summertime-summer-holiday feeling is one of indescribable happiness, especially for someone like me who hated school , hated the punitive teachers and  difficult subjects such as science, maths, social studies, Hindi and Kannada!
I don’t think of these poems all year and suddenly they are in my head at spring-time! Spring time also reminds me of a few lovely pictures from the English poetry book, I had in school. I hope to add those poems and pictures to this piece, some time when I find them.
Spring time also triggers a different set of day-dreams and fantasies in my head. I day-dream the same stuff, year after year, with nary a change! I fantasize being alone in some remote place like an island, in a hammock tied to a tree, either reading or writing. I also fantasize going for long walks in dark forests and  in valleys; I think of walking along brooks, exploring caves and climbing mountains. I think of exploring old abandoned forts in the hills of Chitradurga & Tumkur. Exploring old ruins of temples and palaces in the various parts of India is another activity I think of in spring. For some reason, spring-time does not remind me of the sea or beaches. A new daydream added to my list recently is mining for precious gems and gold panning ! A day-dream I had in the past at spring time was collecting birds nests especially the lovely weaver bird nests in thorny trees and in wells. Now I realize it is cruel to collect the nests, especially the new ones and I dont even think of it.
I had mentioned in an earlier blog that every year, at the start of spring, I have at least one vivid and terrible nightmare involving exams!  I suppose this nightmare occurs at this time as I  had exams around March-April, almost my entire student life. And though I no longer have to write any exams, the dread seems to be permanently embedded in my sub-conscious and is roused every spring!
Well. This year I have not yet had that terrible nightmare. And hopefully I will escape it this year as I thought of it before it came in my dreams. These nightmares are so scary, that I wake up with my heart thumping and it takes me a while to accept it is only a dream! The worst one is where I have given back my degrees and decided to study science  and I fail and I end up having neither the old Arts &Humanities degrees or the new Science degree! Another nightmare is one where I have not attended a single class the entire year and I cant even recognize the questions or the content ...during the exam! 


Will I ever get over this academic phobias ? Are there others like me who have this academic phobia at middle age? I pray that every child enjoys school and does not dread academics like I did.


Some more nice times I remember from childhood summer holidays are that of finishing breakfast, taking a nice Enid Blyton book to the roof and reading  until it was too hot or I was too sleepy. Then I would come in to cool off or sleep. While on the roof,  I would read, pausing now and then, to watch  the  grey  lizards and the bigger colourful  ones scampering by  or the birds soaring in the bright blue skies above. The shrill screaming of the squirrels too would startle me at times. 
 I stopped my reading at times, to  search for woodroses hidden in the dense foliage spread over the roof and walls ;I was thrilled  when I found these lovely(but dead-looking or woody looking) flowers hidden in some part of the wildly growing creeper (and this woodrose creeper destroyed our roof and walls with humidity!).
Reading on the roof with a pillow between me and the wall, under a tiny shady spot, with a plate of  guava slices smeared with salt  & chilli powder beside me is still my idea of heaven.

Waiting for the fruit(guavas, mangoes, etc) and icecream vendors to pass by on the street, yelling their wares is another thing I remember with fondness.

I think I liked all aspects of spring and summer except the start of school !




Friday, March 2, 2012

The wire:Television series

 I was exploring books and television series and anything set in Baltimore simply because  I had a relative living in Baltimore and I wanted to know more about it. It was during this search that I discovered The Wire, a mind-blowing television series, set in Baltimore, Maryland. 

I bought the complete series(5 seasons) and saw it. All I can say is WOW!

Honestly, I cant say I enjoyed the show.....I admired the show's intelligence, depth, subtexts,dialogues,  acting, etc, etc, etc . But the emotions I experienced more than enjoyment were tension, fear, shock, anger, sympathy and sometimes a laugh or two.  The brutality shocked me and I had vivid nightmares during some of  the  nights I saw this show.
Of course, I did read up on The Wire  in Wikipedia and other webpages  and I shall not repeat that here. I am only sad that I do not have anyone to discuss ! My husband refuses to watch it and no one else I know has seen it.
The Wire is so good that it  can be used in universities and colleges to  teach so many subjects...sociology, psychology, political science/politics, economics, anthropology and so much more.


My dream is that  some Indian genius will do a similar television serial in India. There is plenty of material to make a similar show in India...the human trafficing, corruption in the government offices and corruption in politicians and in elections, the caste systems and it's evils, the communal riots, the list goes on.
The main  objection I have to Indian shows (at least the Kannada ones) now  is the clear cut divide between  good and bad characters in the movies or shows! There is no gray; only Black and White! The hero is all good and the villan is all bad.
The current  Indian/Kannada television serials, seem to be suitable for people with IQs of 70 and below.


The Wire  is the best but not the most enjoyable television series I have seen
American  Politicians, Police, Teachers, Policy makers and others who truly care about Americans should see this show and learn. I certainly learnt a lot. The Wire has changed many of the simplisitc notions and solutions I had in mind about the various ills in American society. Sad to say, it also killed what little  hope I had for the human race!

 I hope any of you reading this, see this show. What you learn, is definitely worth, the stress of watching this show. And please see it in sequence, so that it makes sense.