Dancing To My Tune

Choreography is defined as primarily “the sequence of steps and movements in dance”.

If we go strictly by this definition, then yes, I’ve choreographed dances.

I love dance. I love the fact that the human body is so beautifully expressive, that just a flick of the hands or a look in the eyes can convey so much. I tried to learn formal dancing very late in life. I could not take the whirls of Kathak and so stopped even before I could put on ghungroos. Bollywood dancing was very interesting in terms of the different steps, the basic tools that they use, and the interpretation of various gestures. However, it felt rather alien to me, and I could not connect to it as much as I’d have liked to.

So, I am not a trained dancer. When I dance, it looks like I’ve stumbled onto the stage by chance, even though I know all the steps perfectly. I was told this in college once by a classmate, and I was highly offended. However, recently when I saw a dancing video of mine, I realized how accurate that assessment was! However, I am much better at choreographing. I learn steps very quickly, I’m able to break down the dance into palatable little bits, and I think I am able to get a good dance out of an interested group, even if I say so myself! :)

When I was a kid, I used to make up steps to popular tunes. I think TV had a huge influence on me. I loved the dance programs on Doordarshan. Some of the dance ballets deeply moved me. I began to weave fantasies about bigger and better productions. In college too, I quite enjoyed choreographing a few dances. I began branching into more abstract dances, trying to translate what I felt when I heard the music into dance. I remember chalking up a rather ambitious dance-drama based on Sleeping Beauty for Chitti Babu’s music on the veena. I choreographed a “Dance of the Waves” for one of his lovely numbers, because that was what I visualized when I heard his music.

All this was laid aside for quite a few years of my life, when career, marriage, and kid took over. The spark glowed again with DD’s interest in dance. Slowly I’ve got into the groove again. Now it’s become an almost regular feature, and I enjoy the challenge of choosing and editing the appropriate song(s), learning and coming up with the steps and expressions, and bringing the dance to shape. Now that DD and her friends are grown, they learn much faster, and I need to keep abreast with all the latest trends. It’s fun and though I’m still quite old-school, I try to keep an open mind.

I’m sure in a couple of years, DD will no longer want to be guided by me and will want to do things her own way. Till then though, I’ll derive great pleasure from making her (and her friends) dance to my tune. They are the Dancing Queens of my life!

BF or BFF

OK, blame it on that silly superhit movie Maine Pyaar Kiya. The one that had a million hearts beating, and included a really important lesson, which the nation took to heart:

Ek ladka ladki kabhi dost nahin hote

Translation: A guy and a girl can never be (just) friends.

I just read Mr. Chetan Bhagat’s comment on the same:

Why a guy and a gal can not be friends

“Why should any guy want to be only friends with a girl? It’s like agreeing to be near a chocolate cake and never eat it. It’s like sitting in a racing car but not driving it.” 

Yeah right. I’m sure they’ve all flunked their Chemistry 101. I think it’s pretty obvious that if you are not attracted to a member of the opposite sex, but have enough overlapping interests, you can still be a good friend without jumping into bed. I think it clearly speaks of the desperation and frustration of one of the genders that they look upon every member of the opposite sex as, well, chocolate cake. Such utter nonsense.

The damage that Indian movies (not just Bollywood) do to young minds and hearts is immeasurable. And now (ok, I’m probably a bit late, it’s not exactly Now, I guess) you have the imbecile “literati” spouting the same nonsense!

Hmmm, I wonder if Mr CB has any good lady friends? Or have they all zoomed off in their racing cars, far, far away from him?

But let’s look at the silver lining, shall we? At least he gives me something to blog about :D

Love Wins, Every Time

DD is now practically a teenager, all grown up. She’s been a sweet child, curious and active and loving, and I think the only time I really despaired was when she was four, and had the tendency to bite people she found disagreeable. After that, my trepidations have always been swept away, and she’s turned out rather well, even though I say so myself.

One of the lovely things about her is her sense of responsibility. She’s pretty organized and meticulous about her stuff. For my niece’s wedding last year, she was the only one who had her clothes AND accessories packed in order of the ceremonies we would be part of, a full week in advance! I never have to remind her to do stuff, her room and closet are always far neater than mine will ever be, and she’s on her school work, whether it’s projects or homework, even before I know what it’s all about. She’s even become self-disciplined enough to turn off the TV at the regulated time on school days and go to bed at the right time, without any prompting whatsoever from us. Little wonder that I have very little to complain about when other parents are moaning about their children!

Even so, there are days when things flare up. If there’s one thing she really dislikes, it’s studying – no surprises there. Unfortunately, this is the one thing I insist on, since there’s a lot riding on it for her. I don’t really care about the marks, per se, but I would like to see her make a sincere effort, and that’s all I push her to do. If you know me, I like balance in everything, so work-while-you-work, play-while-you-play is what I try to enforce.

Most of the time, the pushing works, but sometimes, (like a couple of days ago), I lose my temper. I end up ranting and she sinks into a deep sulk, and things spiral downwards from there. It’s never pleasant, I hate myself, and nothing good comes out of it at the end.

But of late, I’ve been asking myself a single question that’s made all the difference, and has stopped me from becoming the kind of mom I hate.

The question I ask myself is simply this: Would I stop loving her just because she didn’t do [whatever she was supposed to do]?

The answer I get is, of course, a resounding NO! It immediately makes me change my perspective. I stop ranting and give myself a time-out. I interact with her once again only when I am certain that all the negative feelings have vanished, and I am the mom I would like to be.

It’s worked wonders so far. Every time I have stopped ranting and have become more loving, DD responds far more positively.

Your child is a constant source of joy. Just learn to look lovingly.

Sweet Lies

I kind of like this story of mine – Sweet Lies – that’s been published in the July 2015 issue of Reading Hour.

It was inspired by this. DH loves to junk as soon as he comes home from office. I completely forget about the junk food at home till I hear all the rustling and crackling. Then I have to give in to temptation! But if DH catches me with the junk, he’s like – there she goes again! And all my protests fall on deaf ears. :)

So the story started with that, and then found its own sweet way to the end. Do pick up your copy of the magazine today and let me know if you like it.

Some Books and a Movie

Brief thoughts on some books I read and a movie I saw recently.

Villages by John Updike: The sentences were so convoluted and long, I had very little sympathy for the main character, and I felt restless reading this book. I could only think: OK, people like this also exist. It isn’t a book I will remember too fondly or go back to, at least at this stage.

The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks: I loved Word & Void by the same author. I waited for long to obtain The Sword of Shannara from the library, but ran out of patience and picked up the second book in the trilogy. I liked this book too. It was classic fantasy. I’m going to try and read all the Shannara books.

Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi: I wanted to read this book ever since it came out, since it received pretty rave reviews. I did like the book, but I honestly felt a bit let down. I thought it would have been great if he had stuck to just one of the stories (preferably the older one). Trying to thread the two stories together felt a bit awkward to me, and distracted my reading. But it’s a nice book and worth a read.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough: What a lovely read this was! Gave me a ringside view of the events and personalities of the Wright brothers. So awed by the way they worked with such single-minded determination! I guess some people are truly gifts to humanity. I enjoyed the book a great deal.

Kaaka Muttai: An absolutely delightful movie, worth all the praise it’s received. Everything revolves around money, but money doesn’t get you everything. I loved everything about this movie, from the writing to the visualization to the characters. But what I loved best about it was that there was no moralizing, no preaching, and no condescension. It treated the subject very candidly, with absolutely no judgement and just the right touch of humour. Performances were superb, and I actually clapped along with the audience at the important climactic scene. This was a movie that I had wanted to see for a long time since I had heard so many good things about it. So very glad I caught it!

Immersion

Last week, I cracked a problem at work.

The issue was a long-pending one, and I kept returning to it on and off, in between other things that were higher on the priority list. It was a niggling problem that didn’t respond to any of the obvious troubleshooting techniques. Last week, I resumed work on it, and there were so many times when I felt the solution was so close at hand, almost at my fingertips, but it remained hell-so-elusive!

Finally, I got a breakthrough almost through serendipity. As I tested and re-tested to ensure my conclusions were correct, my level of euphoria rose. When I could successfully claim to have cracked the problem, I felt almost like yelling “Eureka!” The root of the problem was so crazily unrelated, no wonder it remained unresolved through the traditional methods I had adopted earlier.

These kinds of moments are getting rarer these days. I find myself unable to be completely absorbed by anything. Books seem repetitive, movies appear cliched, and I just don’t have the energy to indulge in a high level of personal interaction any more with other people.

Last couple of weeks, I also choreographed a couple of dances for DD (about time she graduated from Lil D to Dear D, right?) and her friend for some dance contests. Again, this hardly kept me engaged. I’m saying and doing all the expected things, but the level of boredom below is simmering constantly.

I really want something I could sink my teeth into, something that keeps me immersed completely, so that when I look at the clock, I go – “Wow!”, instead of  “Just 5 mins have passed?” I guess I could set myself up to as many challenges as I want, but that’s the thing. I don’t want to do a challenge just for the sake of challenge; I’ve done that for the past year, trying out many new things just for the sake of pushing myself. I want the immersion to happen organically.

Hmmm, maybe I should go and immerse myself in cleaning up the house. But unfortunately, that does not qualify as a Eureka-moment in my books. Any suggestions? :)

Honesty is the Best Policy

Honesty: that’s one of my ground rules for parenting. I think the more honest we are with children, the better. Especially about the major issues in life like sex and death.

I “honestly” don’t see the big deal about tip-toeing around the truth or beating around the bush. Cooking up stories leads to a lot of stress and distrust.

Of course, honesty doesn’t mean you are insensitive or brutally frank. It does mean that you are in tune with the child’s sensibilities, and you tell the kid the truth in a palatable manner. The way you tell a three-year old about death is infinitely different from the way you tell a ten-year old. You can make it simpler for the younger ones, rather than pushing it under the carpet. You can also get into the details at a later stage in life, rather than dumping everything at one shot and overwhelming the kid.

I dislike the attitude of “protecting” the child. I’ve seen some cases where this “protection” has crumbled in the face of actual death of an ailing one, and the utter shock and disbelief of the kid. Adequately preparing the child so that he/she can handle the inevitable is so important, yet parents avoid this task simply because it makes them uncomfortable.

I’ve had this honesty policy backfire a couple of times in my own experience. Lil D sometimes tells me she wishes I hadn’t told her some things. But then when we discuss it, she admits that it is better this way, and at least she knows the truth. I tell her that these are things she’d hear about anyway, and I’d rather she hears it from me than a third-party. The thing is being honest opens up a whole new level of communication, and we are able to discuss things that we would never have touched upon otherwise.

I guess it’s just the way we’ve been brought up, and the way we’ve brought up Lil D as well. But sometimes, I just want to shake parents and yell at them: Tell your kids the truth, they can handle it, dammit!