Category Archives: Musings

Of dreams and thoughts

The dreams are back, but with a variation. Usually, I would go unprepared for an exam, usually Tamil exam, in high school, and naked, to boot.  Or I would be lost in a colossal multi-storeyed white empty building with large stairs and run up and down these stairs in abject panic.  These days, I am in a large college campus, trying to find the classroom, and being completely unprepared for college.  Half the time I don’t even know which course I have taken, or if I do know which course I need to take, I have no clue what is going on.  There is no panic, but a dull sense of hopelessness.  My brain is a garbage dump, and really stinks once the lid of consciousness is opened in slumber.  My daughter gets weird dreams too, but my better half says that he does not remember any of his dreams and feels no aftertaste when he awakes.  I, on the other hand, need a couple of extra strong doses of coffee to break free of the gloom that lingers after I have awoken from my dreams.

Something else interesting happened.  Yesterday, a friend and I were discussing dreams.  This friend is a talker, and usually when we are conversing, it is one way, I listen more than talk, partly because I don’t like talking too much, and partly because this person leaves no breathing time for response.  This person notwithstanding, in general, contrary to my image from this very verbose blog, I am not a big talker.  As I told this friend about my consistent dreams of being unprepared (for exams/for class) , I was told “you have no thoughts in your mind…you never think of anything, hence the singular dream”.  The tone was not indicative of “you are thought-free, you enlightened soul”, rather, “you are stupid and empty upstairs”.  I know it because more than once I have been told by this person that I have no interests in anything (e.g. I don’t like watching movies, the only movies I watch are with family – both my better-half and kid like to watch movies, as “family time” rather than any personal interest in watching them), no passion (because I don’t passionately argue about or discuss anything), uncultured (because I don’t listen to music when I am working, and I am usually working most of the time), am a hamster-in-wheel (because I am doing something all the time without staring at the ceiling and thinking thoughts) and am, in effect, intellectually dead-as-a-dodo.  These have been told to me at different times, under different circumstances, and so I believe that “you don’t have thoughts in your head” is an extension of me being of vegetative state. For a moment, I flared up in my mind as “just because I don’t overthink everything and verbally vomit every thought that crosses my head, I am not a doorknob”, but figured that such a response would only lead to me having to listen to more arguments, and thus moved on.

The thought I had then was this:  It is so easy for the world to consider silent people/introverts as being stupid.  Being an introvert myself, let me tell you – we are not stupid.  In fact, we have more thoughts in our heads because we are not wasting time communicating it to others.  We don’t communicate our thoughts because we don’t need inputs from anyone else.  My thoughts usually range from banal stuff such as “where can I get a neem sapling to plant on my backyard” to philosophical/spiritual musings on God, mindfulness, hope, faith and death, none of which needs a recipient.   We are also sensitive people, and can gauge by the talker’s tone, what he/she really means beyond the words uttered, because WE LISTEN and not just hear.

A quote I subscribe to is “It is better to stay silent and let others think you are a fool, than open your mouth and waste time talking” !

 

 

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Weighty matters

This may sound like body shamming, it isn’t.  Or at least I hope it isn’t.  It is a bit on the obsessive side, but I am sure anyone who has been through this would be able to relate.

When I was in grad school, the roommate in my second year was a thirty year old woman (I was around 24 – funny how six years seemed to matter so much then).  She was a small built woman, prone to putting on weight and so she was obsessed about fitness.  She went to the gym everyday and worked out for an hour, and blizzard or not, ran for an hour through the university township. She drank coffee with skim milk and shrank away from food with the comment “if I as much as see that goddamn pizza, I would put on a pound”. On the other end of the rainbow, I was addressed (uncharitably) as 2D-gobblefunkist by the brat Indian grads (largely boys) because I was stick thin.  I thought I was curvy, but was made to believe that the curves were in my imagination.  So in order to pad myself, I drank full-fat milk, had egg nog for breakfast every day and, although I hated cheese at that time, had subway sandwiches every alternate day with extra cheese, and macadamia nut cookies on the side.  The only allowance I gave myself was that I went to the gym every afternoon, to swim, because I was a fish in another birth and nothing makes me happier than water around me.

None of my padding efforts had any effect. At that time.  As I near 45, I can see the eggnog, vitamin D milk and cheezy sub in various parts of my body.  And they are very sociable foodgroups because they welcome other current foodgroups and give them space to live forever.  It is a wonder the body has energy to function at all, considering that all the calories I ingest choose to stay rather than burn.

This is fine. I don’t have problems with the natural fall of metabolism that comes with age, and resultant padding – I don’t want to body sham.  But where I worry is that the padding is not all on the outside and there are protective stuffed envelopes around my essential organs, making the latter groan.  I am particularly worried because the metabolic syndrome spectrum of diseases runs in my family (in addition to psychiatric disorders, osteoporosis and name-it-you-got-it).  When I visited my gyn recently for ovarian pains, she claimed that the only ways to deal with it, short of ripping my innards and throwing the non-essential-anymore organs away, are to pop in industrial strength acetaminophens when they act up, and make sure I get enough exercise to prevent visceral fat that can add to the strain on my reproductive organs.

I resumed the gym nearly three weeks ago, in addition to reduction of portion sizes.  I don’t overworkout because I am a fusspot of sorts.  20 minutes of interval training and 10 minutes of strength.  I stayed off the scale until last week, and as I had expected, the numbers on the scale were displeasing.  Today, a week later, I checked again.  What do you know.  A full one kilo (~2 lbs) UP.  Yes, UP.  I know a lovely person told me that it’s better to go by the tape than by the scale, and I remembered it as I stood on the scale, but I did feel like screaming.

Perhaps it is muscle weight gain.  Perhaps not.  From now on, no more scales for me, for sure.  I am doing this for my internal organs, and if 20 mins of interval training doesn’t do anything to them, so be it.  At least I would be using my gym membership.

The weekend begins

So far so good.  I am consciously staying off work.  Isn’t it pathetic when someone has  to “consciously stay off work” on weekends?

The hormonal tempest ends finally.  (Relative) peace for the next 15 days before the shebang starts again.    Is it a little icky that I talk about intimate matters such as PMS and aunt Flo in this blog? Ah, but you see, I am anonymous.  At least to people who don’t associate gobblefunkist to me (nearly all the people who read this blog know me, though).  Thankfully (or is it?) I suspect most of the regular readers here are women and if any, they’d fall over my shoulder and cry in empathy.  For the few men (actually, TWO men) who read this blog, well, you guys rock (not to mention, are effing lucky).

The kid is off to a course in journalism.  I wish I could attend it too.  Too bad we never had this much exposure to different things when we grew up.  Oh well.  I can always learn from the kid can’t I?

I haven’t done any drawing or painting since I took off yesterday, but that’s ok.  I have been reading and generally relaxing in quiet solitude (in the mind i.e.).

One of my friends’ favourite nephew came out of the closet (isn’t that the phrase?) as gay a few months back.  My friend was fine with it, although the boy’s mother was hysteric.  Recently he came out of the closet as a trans-sexual.  My friend is not sure how she feels about it, but she is definitely not unduly upset – more concerned about how the nephew (niece?) would cope in a largely conservative family.  I know someone whose 5 year old daughter is convinced that she is a boy – she has been claiming that ever since she could talk and nothing would let her believe otherwise.  The kid’s mother is disturbed about it, and I can see why.  Transsexuality is still a sensitive issue here.  There are transsexuals commonly seen in India, but they are not respected at all, not even as human beings.  But then, the trans people who often beg at street signals are a bit bothersome – they are bullies and can be downright unpleasant.  I am not sure what has created what – has societal disdain created unpleasantness in the third gender, or is it the other way around?  I suspect it is the former.  But considering that even the predominant genders – male and female can’t seem to get along with mutual respect in our country (or perhaps the world), it is wishful thinking to talk of an inclusive society with no gender demarcations.  Carol once commented that the female reproductive system was not thought through before design, I think this whole gender demarcation is a less-than-optimal design too*.  Hermophroditic humans may have faced extinction through in-breeding earlier, but may have been saved from a lot of trouble on the gender issues that plague society today.

*And not just for humans.  Have you observed cats?  There is an un-neutered female cat in our neighbourhood, who becomes pregnant every six months and the whole reproductive process is so skewed. All the tom cat does is gherao the woman until she relents,  has his way with her and vamooses, while the woman is literally left holding the kittens until they grow up, and then the whole cycle repeats.

The law of karma

I used to be religious.  Not any more. My spirituality waxes and wanes.  The philosophy I have subscribed to over the years has changed from “Vishishtadvaitam” (“special oneness”) to “Advaitam” (oneness) to nihilism to the current I-don’t-care-a-dang-about-philosophy-ism.  However, there is one philosophy I have always believed in fanatically – you may even say rabidly – the law of karma.  The law of Karma is beyond human intervention in that the only human touch to it is is the action, the returns of which are guaranteed at the time of the action itself.  The returns may be immediate – I eat a meal, I feel good, or distant – I do bad, I get bad.  All my life, I have seen the law of karma in action – both good and bad.  My subscription to the law of karmic returns has given me a lot of balance in one aspect of my life.  I now fully believe that I am only responsible for my actions and thus try to focus only on actions, because I know the returns are inevitable , whether or not I expect them – I fail sometimes, but the realisation counts.

Sometimes the karmic returns are unexpectedly immediate.

Somewhere in my last post, I had briefly mentioned the 3-year old niece of a co-parent in school who (the kid) asked me for cake.  That is not how the story began.  A couple of days back, attempting to engage the kid, I asked her what she liked most, and she said “jelly” (which is the Indian equivalent of jello available elsewhere in the world). The next day, I made some jelly (or jello) in a box and gave it to the friend to give to the child at home.  The day after, the child asked me for cake, and I baked the cake and delivered it to her today.

A small digression.

For the past two days, I have been craving for grapes – the seedless green variety.  I don’t buy grapes because it doesn’t agree with my kid, my husband is not a great fan of grapes and you don’t get anything less than 250 g of grapes in the market – If I got 250 g, I would have to eat it by myself and feel a little sick afterwards.  When I was in the grocery store on my way to school an hour back, I ogled at the grapes but didn’t buy it after deliberation.

Next digression.

I go to school, give the box of cake to the friend to be  given to her niece, and she returns the box in which I had given her jelly (or jello) a couple of days back.  I put the box in my bag and return home.

At home, I open the box.

Grapes.

Uncalled

My philosophy in life is “if you have nothing nice to say to a person on their face, shut up”.I never can understand the need for people to pass comments on other people, even if in jest.

Today was the first day of the three day first-death anniversary ceremonies for my grandmother and I wore a saree for the event. For the record, I do wear saree often and not just for occasions, and I have worn saree since I was 18.  However, I don’t wear it as a “Dress” up dress, I am usually casual, partly because I like being casual, but mostly because I lack the skill to “dress up”.

I wore (am wearing) a blue cotton saree, in my usual casual style – no pleats at the pallu (I never pleat the pallu), and no safety pins anywhere.  Additionally, since I had to do a lot of work around the house, I tucked the free end of the pallu into my waist, as is normally done when you don’t want the pallu to get in your way.  Again, this is perfectly normal, if you are used to wearing a saree on a daily basis.

The ceremonies were delayed, and by the time they were over, it was time to go to school to get the kid.  I waited at the gate, as usual, for the bell to ring and the customary group of moms was chatting.  This one mom, makes a beeline to me and says “what a wonderful saree, but why are you wearing it so badly – you have spoiled the beauty of the saree”.

Spoiled the beauty of the saree?  Am I the only one who thinks this was rude?  Or, am I, being hypersensitive to my own inadequacies (on the looks and dressing front), over-reacting to a normal sentence made perhaps in jest.

In the Hindu epic Ramayana, one of the defining traits of (Lord) Rama was supposedly “Mrudubhashana” – “of gentle words”.  Mrudubhashana is my principle in life, and I hope I am able to hold on to it.

Gender bending

I ain’t a bra burner by a long shot..I am not even borderline feminist.  I am even ok with gender roles in my life.  But where I bristle is when an apparently gender-equality-lauding-effort is patronising to the extreme.  Two cases come to mind:

  1. An article that announces a documentary about three women scientists who were in the Mars mission program of India talks about the number of children these scientists had – one of them had a daughter in the 12th when Mangalyaan was being planned, and another has a seven-year old.  Would these statistics be mentioned if these scientists had been men?   Also, “Minal Rohit calls Seetha Somasundaram a “very strict lady”, while discussing the nature of her work and how demanding a boss Seetha could be!”. Would this be said of a male boss ever?  Yes, I know it was said by another woman.  I don’t even know what to say.
  2. Dangal:  This is a movie that has recently been oohed-and-aahed about by my friends; it is apparently a true story of a guy from a backward state of the country, training his daughters to become boxers, something he couldn’t achieve in his life.  While people talk about the empowerment of girls in this movie, my first thought was this – were the girls given a choice?  Was the man realising dreams for himself through his daughters?  If so, what became of the daughters’ dreams?  Did they have any?

I can hear you say “women are getting raped, murdered, acid-attacked, harassed  in your country and you are nitpicking about trivialities like this?”.

I can’t even talk about the women getting raped, murdered, acid-attacked, and harassed in my country without my entire system shutting down in abject panic and humiliation. Trivialities, I can kick a fuss about – after all, being a word-warrier is so easy, isn’t it?

An obituary and other things

We lost our chief minister last night.  Ms. Jayalalithaa has had her fair share of bouquets and brick bats, but she has my heart on two counts.

She broke the  glass ceiling of Tamil Nadu politics and ascended multiple times to power in a state that revels in public misogyny.  Her name calling has risen from  “whore” to “Amma” (mother) in two decades – the side disturbance is that a woman needs the cloak of motherhood around her to be respected in these parts.  Not many women can pull that off in a state like mine.

Being of “upper caste” by birth, she broke the caste bias and ascended to power in a state that, for nearly half a century, took anti-upper caste sentiments to unbelievable heights – anyone in my age group would know how difficult it was to secure admission into top colleges merely by virtue of being of the “upper caste”, despite scoring high.  Her name calling has risen from “Pappathi” (derogatory term for a Brahmin lady) to “Amma”.  Again, not many women can pull that off in a state like mine.

Yes, she was despotic, but she could not have done what she did, in a male dominated society that attempted to attack and possibly disrobe her in the assembly, but by being strong, unyielding and ruthless.  Love her or hate her, she was an enigma, and I salute her for making us, women in Tamil Nadu, believe that we can.

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Remember how I ended the previous post with “I hope there are no surprises this week”?  The moment those words fell out of my fingers, they took on a life of their own.  Awoke on Monday with the uncertainty of the civilian situation post cardiac arrest of above leader.  The day was a bit messy, not as much physically, as mentally.

And to top it, my maid’s daughter chose to go into labor when the city was shutting down, and with arranging for her transport to hospital and what not, the rest of the day was a bit blurry.  Happy to say that the woman delivered a baby girl (who, I suspect would be named after the chief minister who was on her way out at exactly that time), but the downside is that gobblefunkist is without a maid for the next week.  No biggie.  I love washing clothes and dishes (RIGHT !).  The delivery and associated maid-leave was not really a surprise given that I was given notice 9 months ago when the girl got pregnant, but I was hoping she would deliver on a weekend.

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Dare I hope for no more surprises?