Dad’s The Word

A father stretches and bends. Seated before him on a ledge is his little daughter, who counts with him as he exercises.

A father and his daughter are walking in the morning. He’s telling her all about Sherlock Holmes, and answering all her questions.

Two men emerge from an apartment with a bawling baby. They walk around the apartment complex trying to soothe the baby down with some coochie-cooing and baby talk.

A father is patting his little girl to sleep as he presses the elevator button. The young one, snugly wrapped over his shoulder, yawns and closes her eyes.

Just this past week, I’ve suddenly noticed an increase in such public father-child interactions. I used to see fathers playing cricket or football with their sons, or trying to teach their kids how to bicycle. But this sort of intimate, non-gaming interaction was not very visible.

It just felt so good to see dads actively participating and out there in the open, bringing up their kids with an equal sense of involvement. I felt like one of those characters in books who suddenly stops and says, “Wait! I sense the wind is changing!” (On the other hand, I’m well aware that I’m extrapolating from just a handful of encounters, but hey, I’ll take what I get!)

Here’s to more and more such dads, and more happy families where everyone shares both their sorrows and their joys. While I agree that patriarchy is a curse, I always feel bad about the male-bashing that goes along with it. Why can’t everyone treat each other nicely as human beings, and just get along? World peace – I’m all for it! :)

Freedom

Have been reading this really interesting book “The Underground Girls of Kabul – The Hidden Lives of Afghan Girls Disguised as Boys.”

Though it is focuses on Afghanistan, the truths it touches upon are universal.

One passage particularly resonated with me:

“Freedom is an interesting concept. When I asked Afghans to describe to me the difference between men and women, over the years interesting responses came back. While Afghan men often begin to describe women as more sensitive, caring, and less physically capable than men, Afghan women tend to offer up only one difference, which had never entered my mind before.

Want to take a second and guess what that one difference may be?

Here is the answer: Regardless of who they are, whether they are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, Afghan women often describe the difference between men and women in just one word: FREEDOM

As in: Men have it, women do not.”

Movie Hat-trick

I had the rare opportunity of not only watching three fantastic movies, but watching them on three consecutive days!

The first one I saw was Dum Lagaa Ke Haisha. What a sweet gem of a movie this was. Perfectly made, with just the right balance and the right length for once! Very natural, so relatable, and for once, it showcased an unconventional heroine who had brains, not just beauty. She looked so comfortable with herself. The hero was not a macho muscleman, but a real person, with real misgivings, fears, and confusion. I loved the resolution. There was no falling at each other’s feet, or any such dramatic stuff, there was just a gentle realignment of views and they clicked. Though the race itself could have been mishandled and made completely melodramatic, it was done with finesse. A fine, very well-made movie, and I was glad I didn’t miss it.

The second was Birdman. For me, the one word that captured the movie was ‘intense’. I was utterly engrossed and captivated from the beginning. The little voice inside your head that drives you nuts, the artistic angst, that deep-seated desire to outdo yourself, the doubts that keep holding you back…everything about this movie was beautiful to me. The cinematography was haunting in the way it induced a kind of claustrophobia, a kind of feeling that you’re being stalked all the time. It was just awesome, it was so perfect for the setting of the movie. I loved it all. The ending was yet another sit-back-and-go-wow ending.

The last was Whiplash. To be honest, after watching Birdman, I was ready to be taken to another level of intensity. So the initial part of Whiplash, though excellent in all its nuances and narration, didn’t exactly excite me. It seemed to take a rather predictable arc, though the teacher-student relationship was one that made you cringe quite a bit. And then came the ending. Oh boy! I literally had goose-bumps at that mind-blowing finale! How beautifully captured, what fantastic music, and what intricately choreographed scenes! That finale single-handedly made the movie superlative. At the very end, when the screen blacked out after a final flourish, there was actually applause in the theatre, as if it were a live performance.

After a really long time, I got to see movies that made me FEEL. And that was really marvellous!

Dream Solutions

My dreams have never been the garden-variety stuff. No siree, they are the stuff dreams are made of! :)

I have full scale Bollywood style dreams, complete with clashing colours, melodious songs (which I really wish I could remember after I’ve woken up), and fights and chases. Unlike Bollywood movies, however, my dreams don’t drag on. They have this annoying habit of evaporating just as I am grappling with some existential crisis, and am waiting with bated breath to see how I will work my way out of this one!

Quite often, I get this dream of trying to get somewhere, maybe the airport, my home, an important event, something. And of course, the autos in my dream are true to real life — they refuse to co-operate. They often go the wrong way, I get into a fight about the meter reading, they take on more passengers to my discomfort, and in short, I seldom reach my destination. Actually, make that never.

So, it’s been a pleasant surprise to me that in my latest few dreams, I have not only managed to get an auto, but have also reached my destination intact!

Is this a sign of things to come? Have I been a pessimist all this time, and am now gradually converting to optimism? Or is it a sign that autos in Bangalore are going to turn over a new leaf?

Maybe I’m being a bit premature and jumping to conclusions. I think I should give it a few days, or rather, nights, and see if these positive dreams still persist. I must admit it feels good to wake up feeling as if a mission has been accomplished! :)

The Business of Busy-ness

Oh my! What a week it’s been!

First, there was entertainment for our block dinner to organize. Brainstorming about a unique format, fielding calls from parents eager for their kids to perform, trying to come up with good prizes, getting together all the props for the games…that was a breeze, wasn’t it?

Of course, it went off great! The kids had a blast dancing away on stage, everyone pitched in good-naturedly to play the games, and we (a fellow resident and I) could put up our feet happily at the end of it all. The biggest surprise package? Lil D, who had the role of MC suddenly thrust upon her, and I am truly proud to say that she did a whopping top job of it!

It didn’t help that the very next day was Lil D’s birthday party. A theme party, the theme being Harry Potter. Oh yes, the girls are truly, madly, and deeply into HP! So there were wands and badges to make, classes to arrange, and the Triwizard tournament to prep for. No easy task this, and I sleep-walked through it all.

The evening began soon enough, wands chose the wizards, the sorting hat was sorely missed (and so was Slytherin, to avoid ill-will!), but sorted they were. Potions class saw them making some of the yuckiest tasting potions (with all edible ordinary ingredients labelled exotically). I urged them strongly not to drink if they felt even a hint of nausea, but these wizards have strong stomachs, I tell you! Transfiguration had them doing dumb charades to guess magical creatures. They even took an O.W.L (one of the HP Trivia quiz apps), and I am happy to say that most of them were Outstanding! (If only HP was a subject at school too – sigh!)

The Triwizard tournament saw them defending a fancy Russian egg from the other teams (the old dog-and-the-bone game, actually), rescuing a stuffed toy blindfolded (with confusing instructions being yelled out by members of all teams all together – oh the cacaphony!!), and doing a Word maze. The Word Maze, I am rather thrilled to say, was an invention of my own. It was a grid like a word-search, except that there was an entire continuous sentence hidden in there, which got one from one end of the maze to the other. They fumbled initially, but Lil D *astounded* me with the speed with which she cracked this! I really hadn’t expected that, but it was a fitting finale, you must agree. Gryffindor won, naturally.

They finished off the evening watching part of The Chamber of Secrets, and then proceeded to the Grand Feast, which I will leave to your imagination. :)

Well, that was that, I thought, and settled down to some well deserved rest. But the universe had other plans. I received a call from a student of one of the top engineering colleges in the city, requesting me to judge a creative writing contest! Well, you know me. Just jumped up and off I went.

If I ever meet you in person, remind me to tell you about the most hilarious incident that happened en-route. I dare not put that down for posterity, for fear it will jinx me in some way or another. :) But suffice it to say that I arrived at the venue in literally good humour!

What a lovely afternoon it was. And how lucky I was to get to read some really good writing. The first prize was a winner all the way. The second prize was beautifully lyrical. All in all, it was an experience worth having. I’m so glad I put aside all my inhibitions and agreed for once.

Well, apart from missing the cricket matches, and the budgets, and the cycling marathon, and every other thing, I’ve been doing pretty well.

So, how busy have you been? ;)

FOMO

Settle down for a leisurely read of the morning newspaper, and bam! The metro section has whole pages devoted to what’s happening around town. There are plays to attend, music and dance performances to enjoy, talks and lectures galore, meets and treats a-plenty. Your ten minutes of newspaper reading is replaced by this restless feeling that you’re not really doing anything worthwhile in this city.

Check your email, and whoosh! Inundated with events happening around the community, a spot-fix here, a protest there, a tournament here, a gathering there. Here a thing, there a thing, everywhere a thing, thing! And what do you plan to attend? Absolutely nothing, ’cause, you know, the child has a party and a test (yeah right!), and you’ve got some errands to run, and checkups that can take the whole day… That restless feeling surfaces again, and you wonder if you really can’t take out the time, or just won’t.

Login to Facebook, and the whole world appears to be doing So Much More with their time. A tiny part of you does acknowledge that it’s actually different people doing different things, but it all coalesces into one giant “THEY” against one tiny “you”.

Go down for a walk with friends, and hear what great bargains they got in the sales, and which movies they saw, and what yummy dishes they’ve cooked. You console yourself that you’re not really into sales, none of the movies lately are worth watching, and as for cooking, the less said the better. But you’re acutely aware that there’s a whole world out there that you’re missing.

If there’s only something more I could do, you muse, as you put in your hours of official work, cook all meals (since your cook has decided to take the day off), run quick visits to the store, attend your dance class, help out your parents, do some prep work for the upcoming (yet again theme!) birthday party, run around for your apartment block dinner that you’re helping out with, follow-up on vacation plans, and of course, write your blog post. And it’s just six in the evening, there are another six hours to go at least before your day ends.

Sigh.

:)

A Little Extra

Last night, I was watching Monk with Lil D. (That’s about the only TV viewing I do nowadays!)

There was a scene where Monk makes a 911 call. The emergency worker who answers the call has a few lines to say, and a few minutes of screen time.

Much later, for some reason, I began thinking about her. I wondered how many years she’d been working in showbiz, trying for show after show. Imagining her joy when she found out she’d been selected for Monk! The anxiety with which she must have practiced her lines and trembled with nervousness when it was her time before the camera. The reaching out to all friends and family when the show aired. Watching as she came on, wishing she could have done something a little different. The accolades showered on her later, the prophecies that she was now one step closer to stardom. And then – oblivion.

OK, maybe it wasn’t exactly like that.

It struck me that on the grand stage of life, we are all just extras, basking in our own spotlight for a few minutes. I guess there are really very few people who can be called the main characters. Maybe those who influence and affect the world at large. Even those giants we look up to — so many of them were recognized only after they were long gone.

I don’t really mind being an extra. As long as I say my lines the very best I can, I guess it’s all ok.