Thursday, June 28, 2007

Is wisdom directly proportional to age?

It is hard for people from my generation to accept the non-expressive Indian culture where questioning someone older than you is like desecrating the shrine. Very conveniently, when people don’t want you to confront them, they use this adage—“Questioning elders is not a part of our culture.” OR “do this because I said so.” Seriously, is that reason enough?

I am of the school of thought that wisdom is not directly proportional to age; experience and exposure are. I know some fifty-year olds whose IQ and/or maturity is two levels below that of my five-year old niece. They open their mouth and a meandering stream of flapdoodle flows out puerilely. The things my eight-year old niece notices or the astuteness she shares, is something I probably became cognizant about when I was double her age--where they are and what they have had the privilege of being exposed to, has played a rather important role; mostly, they owe their wisdom to their open-minded upbringing. Mind you, they are inquisitive, not incongruous.

Questioning keeps us all agile. Why do people turn apathetic after reaching a self-defined-learning-limit? I do understand the repercussions of over-communicative western societies, and I don't agree with saying what's on your mind all the time - there is a time and audience for everything. I believe there is that perfect balance of saying the right amount without being nasty or belligerent.

Hasn't questioning led to remarkable inventions and discoveries? Disagreeing with existing ideas does not have to involve a truculent or boorish formula. Couldn’t it be a recipe for reverence and inquisitiveness? Hasn’t brain drain taught us anything?

Copyright © 06.28.2007

"The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth" -- Pierre Abelard

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Is thirty the new sixty?

Date: A beautiful autumn day
Day: Friday
Time: 11:20p.m.
Location: Bryant Park—Misty night embellished with resplendent stars
Activity: Snore symphony orchestrated by a bunch of us slouched on slovenly chairs

Date: Friday, June 15
Time: 12:35a.m.
Location: Alcove - luxuriating at a friend's while indulging in scrumptious ice cream and invigorating white wine.
Scene: 1/3 rd of people present, felt enervated

The aforementioned scenarios are not an exaggeration of a burlesque you'd see at 'Bob's House of Comedy' but an ironically facetious situation that few of us were in.

I would like to think of myself of as someone with a blithe spirit despite what the clock has to say—like the 'let's party dude,' type; off late, I feel like a laggard. I call Friday as ‘fried-day’ because veraciously speaking I am fried by then. Until about a few years ago, my friends and I were like nocturnal animals, painting the town red until wee hours in the morning --sometimes on a weekday too. Now, a cloud of dormancy encompasses us by 11-11:30p.m.We are roused to movement by sharp caffeine.

Most of my friends feel age is catching up with them. Mind you, these people are not senior citizens but in the age range of 26-35 years. Much as I would like to repudiate with this axiom, I agree with them. Why else would I have spent last evening at my favorite spa? I am cognizant that we live in a taxing day and age and that is why I wonder if thirty is the new sixty. Maybe I am conjecturing, but I do not know otherwise.

Any thoughts?

Copyright © 06.21.2007

"I am not young enough to know everything" - Oscar Wilde

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The searing divide: butter chicken vs. sambar

Last night, our cohort had gone for the most hyped ‘desi’ concert of the season – A.R. Rahman live in concert (for lack of a better word). Like most ‘desis’, we arrived at the stomping ground, adorned in Indian mood, hankering for delectable desi goodies; mind you, not ambrosial food.

Sign from God about how abysmal the concert was going to be: we hit no traffic; there was no ‘masala chai’ at the buvette; the spinster cousin, ‘medhu vada’, had replaced ‘vada pao;’ and finally, the crowd was niche regional as opposed to just plain desi. We were not being covetable but none of it made sense-- it was close to blasphemy. We were not a fastidious bunch looking for a musical soiree; all we wanted was a musique de concert in a convivial atmosphere, in comprehendible langage with felicitous performers. Is that too much to ask?

A further insight into the evening - the crowd was divided into four groups: Tamilians, wanna be Tamilians (they conversed in Gujarati otherwise but were well-versed with Tamilian numbers. Go figure!), Punjabis, and wanna be Punjabis (people like us who lean more towards bhangra as opposed to gueulard (loud-mouthed) Rajnikant devotees and obstreperous crowd). Even before we got through a quarter of the way, my friends and I were craving ‘Chicken Makhani;’ Sukhwinder Singh’s melodious voice finally brought a smile to our disgruntled faces.

Of all the desi concerts I have been to, last evening’s was truly the worst. Instead of burgeoning into a fun evening, Hari Haran’s cheap improvisations to Rahman’s unenthusiastic, sordid, enervative performance brought the evening dwindling down. His proletariat musical crew lacked the capacity to captivate the showgoers. The musique catered to a very specific audience—clearly, it was not us. Lot of people in there would have appreciated a burlesque more.

A friend made a very pertinent remark: two of her Tamilian friends decided against the concert. For all of us who did not belong there that should have been sign enough. The only person worth a mention was the drummer, whose music coruscated throughout the concert hall.

Here is what I surmise from the erroneous evening: for some reason, most artists prefer to sing Tamil songs with their dark glasses on without realizing that it makes them look odious. In addition, there still is a huge music-based cultural divide amongst Indians; so next time around the organizers should not dupe the audience by calling a regional classical music fest gone shoddy, a concert.

Copyright © 06.17.2007

“I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.” – Oscar Wilde

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Life in a Metro- - a movie or a revelation?

India’s booming economy and debilitating moral structure makes me wonder, is change always a good thing? Don’t get me wrong; I am all for amelioration and staying au courant but is there a way we can sieve change? Take the good and abdicate the bad? You must be wondering what led to the creation of my post; well, it was the movie ‘Life in a Metro’.

To be veracious, I loved the movie--eminent actors and the scenario presented seemed very real—like an insight into India’s convoluted culture. It is definitely a recipe for chitchat at one of my girl’s night out. Jokes aside, someone made a very kosher point; all these non-mainstream movies are produced/ directed by the younger generation. Every generation of movie directors try to illustrate ‘their times’- or portray life as they see it, via films. In Yash Chopra movies, women with remarkable acumen in personal grooming matters and home - making, spend their every living breathing moment dolling up--kinda like trophy wives. Their husband and children define the essence of their existence. I know that whole concept is anathema to women from my generation.

Going by that logic, if the scenario presented in the film is a delineation of the moral standards in India, I am both exasperated and appalled. Is the moral fiber of our society completely corroded? It’s not just films; we all know of at least one person in India whose lifestyle is a mirror-image of what was shown in ‘Life in a Metro’.

It’s interesting how some people living in India have the audacity to point fingers and accuse people living abroad of imbibing salacious values when they are the ones indulging in corruptive measures and we are the ones trying to follow tradition and recreate the essence of Indian culture abroad. How else do you think yoga or chili chicken or bollywood bhangra are popular today amongst non-Indians?

How many of you haven’t been accused of turning ‘English’ or ‘American’ or been called an antagonistic name based on wherever it is you live, just because you have a perspective and the intrepidity to question.

I’d like to clarify one last thing- -progress is about opening your mind to new thoughts, challenging non-applicable midwives tales, and questioning archaic concepts. It’s not about insolence or deceit. You enter perilous waters when you lack the verisimilitude.

Copyright © 06.15.2007

"Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike" - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The story about voice….

Before you jump the gun, the fervent feminist inside of me is not going to indite another ‘woman-oriented’ piece today. Neither is this post a remonstrance nor is it esoteric writing. The ‘voice’ that I referred to in the subject line, is heard the most and misused even more often. I am talking about the world of active voice and passive voice. Believe me; despite what you do for a living, you need to know the accurate usage of the two and more often than not, obliterate passive voice from your rulebook of writing. You cannot completely eliminate passive voice but should intend to sound coherent.

Passive: The passport was not stamped until Valentine’s Day.
Active: The immigration officer did not stamp the passport until Valentine’s Day.

Passive: The ball was caught by Rahul Dravid.
Active: Rahul Dravid caught the ball.

The journey begins with when you apply for your first job. Your cover letter, at the end says, “Please find attached my resume for your perusal”. Seriously, who is the agent who attached the letter?

I was talking to my cousin the other day about how most South Asians face this problem - despite all their intelligence, tenacity and hard work, they are inept at writing and lack the basic linguistic skills. After indulging in passive voice most of our adult life, when we move to the west, our choice of voice haunts us – be it school, work, or just social gatherings. Do not get me wrong; we know our grammar to the tee, in theory at least, just not the appropriate usage of it.

So anyways, our badinage led to an epiphany: is the choice of voice a reflection of our culture? South Asian culture preaches non-confrontation, indirect speech, and everything unrealistically polite, so do we end up using passive voice to avoid sounding aggressive and/or awkward? Call it postulation, but I could not think of any other reason.

Any thoughts? I’d be interested!

Copyright © 06.07.2007

Monday, June 4, 2007

I Hate Tumors! I hope you do too!

This past Sunday evening few friends had organized a soiree - launch party of their new website. For people who are well-versed with my life, your guess of what the launch was about, would be: literati meet, or a desi convention (music/books) or just an evening in a convivial atmosphere with my coterie and a glass of white wine. Never in a million years could you have guessed what it really was about. The website was launched in the memory of my friend's crony, Heather. Unfortunately, about a year and half ago, Heather died of cervical cancer at a young age of 28.

One of Heather’s friends wrote her a poem, around the time the final verdict came in from the doctor; Heather had three days left to say adieu. The emotions in the poem were so raw and unfeigned and she had such a pellucid way of writing; I didn’t snivel, but sobbed incessantly. Heather’s death made me realize that sufferers are of two kinds: the ones who deal with physical agony (patient) and the remaining lot who deal with life’s tribulations (people who are left behind mourning their dear ones).

I don't intend to make this post morbid, but it's time women took matter in their own hands. Let’s get proactive and not reactive. Most women pay no or minimal heed to their own health until it's too late; there are few others who either live in a bubble of denial and/ or live with an ‘I am immortal’ attitude. Well, it’s time for reality check. Do you know that cervical cancer is the major cause of cancer deaths in women in many developing countries? Cervical cancer is caused by several types of a virus called human papillomaviruses (HPV). HPV does not see age, color, or race; it corrodes the foundation of your life.

This post is not a scare tactic. I beseech every woman out there to make an appointment with her doctor today. Get tested ladies. Men, if you share even the remotest concern about the health and well-being of your mother, wife, daughter, sister, or even a friend, please spread the word. Tumors can kill and cervical cancer is not the most easily detectable one.

In case you are wondering, I do not represent any politically-inclined interest groups; I hope this post will snap you out of your inertia and persuade you to make the call. It’s in your hands.

Copyright © 06.04.2007

Gandhi: "Live as if you'll die tomorrow; learn as if you'll live forever."