Just when you think you are all recovered there is all starts again. It is time to send some electric shocks through some parts of the brain.
A colleague was driving behind me. She is expecting a baby. I turned around the corner of the entrance to our building and sped away. At the next crossroad she caught up slowly with me. I reflected on how pregnancy or having a child travelling along in the car I am driving might affect my driving behaviour. Yes, I would be more careful. It brings back memories of a crash in 2001 (no! I was not driving - I walked out of the open door seen in the picture !!! but it was like watching a movie)
Rainy Milan one weekend, sunny Brussels another weekend (am I going to jinx the weekend by anticipating sunny weather?), venturing out shopping and not finding anything one weekend and venturing out not shopping at all another weekend...
Rock music, nespresso with orange taste, debating over what to eat for dinner - ready to eat microwaveable pongal with ready to eat microwaveable avial or freshly made rice with ready to eat microwaveable avial or freshly made spaghetti or nothing at all to keep the reduction of weight going....
Basking over a friend's compliment about my facebook picture and debating what to do with my brown hair after seeing it through a glass window at the Carrefour this evening... Where are those black locks?
Wondering what to do with all the wine bottles and fish and meat in my refrigerator with my husband's cousin and family visiting me over the weekend... I doubt they really know that I touch alcohol. Perhaps I should finish all tonight.
Jagjit Singh, setting sun, successful meetings, patiently challenging boss, 2 kilos less on the weighing scale can offset the returning feelings created by probing colleagues about those parts of the brain I talked about in the first paragraph.
Will this help next week?
Drowning oneself in work does not shut out the rest of your mind or clear out the result of being forgotten - perhaps selective amnesia will help more.
Have you ever wanted anything desperately in life?
Recently I find myself faced with the most interesting situation in life. I love it and I just want to make it work. I have not felt this way about anything this much. Yet, this is exactly what makes it not work. I am just so afraid of losing this part of my life and this makes me so risk averse about saying or doing anything. This leads to paralysis due to fear and it makes me work on it, rework on it and re-re-work on it forgetting to give something finally. Finally the fatigue takes over and I am too exhausted to enjoy working on it anymore.
So what am I going to do? I am going to take off right now. Spagetti might be a good idea to innovate on. Some piano is calling me and there are some birthday cards and gifts I need to prepare (Wannabe, I think I will send one to your husband too). We are off to Milan tomorrow. I need to check my bank balance before that - what is Milan without any shopping? I have also been seeing some very interesting pictures of Milan. I am excited - no one ever said Milan is an exciting place. Yet, I look forward to this visit.
Imagine a knife cutting through butter... I got my normal car back. That is how I felt as I changed the gear and turned the indicators. The steering wheel felt like a lady's slim finger when a man holds it with his harsh ones (or rather how a man would feel when he holds a gentle lady's finger - mine not included in the category as I have fat stubby fingers). I feared that I would have forgotten how to drive a bigger car. Initially I did have problems adjusting to the way it was driven. It is now 3 months since I had the accident and I had stopped driving 1.5 months before that. Parmanu had picked me up when I was ill and he had driven the car to Germany. On the way back after my holidays I had the accident.
So almost 5 months after I stopped driving the car, I got into it. The accelerator was further away and guess what when I just knudged it with my feet, it responded by moving forward. The replacement car I had did not move even when I had my accelerator fully down. I found the signal and gave it a harsh twist down - yet, at my first touch the switch went down like a silk thread being carressed. The music had a completely different twist to it.
Now I know what it feels like to a mother when the child returns home - I had that feeling today when I got my baby back. I was also petrified that I would have to get a new car. I will keep my fingers crossed that I do not follow the greeting of the man at the garage "Hope to see you back soon" - he said as I picked up the car. "I hope I never have to see you again" - I replied - he grinned impishly. ---------------------------
On another note - Why on earth is Belgium so expensive for food shopping? I went shopping yesterday - bought the smallest steak, mince meat box, fish packet and a few other items. All of them together could be put into 2 shopping half bags and my bill - 52 Euros. Can someone please please please explain to me how this can be so? This is after I spent about 120 Euros last week buying all things I wanted to cook with for just one dinner I was supposed to host and then because of failed water supply I could not host this and had to throw away all the things I bought. What a waste!!!!! In Germany it would not even be half the price of this. Normally I am not one to complain but this really had me gasping.
[I wrote this blog in office as I was packing. So I have attached the latest picture - taken at 8:45 p.m just as I left office]
Transitions are not always an easy time. A few pictures to show how I feel as I leave my office of two years to the other location. Though I used to spend more time in the location I will be based at, it is still strange to leave this home base, people I am used to seeing quite often and some whom I will hardly get to see again unless we make an effort to keep in touch. Strangely, my neighbour also shifted to her new position today and so it is completely empty here.
As I packed my things, I found back files and papers which depicted my first interactions with people and found back some documents which triggered some fond memories. So I carry these fond memories in two bags back home. Like about 100 files from IMD who are all there for fond memories and still need to be sorted out, I add a couple of more bags from 2 years.
It is also funny to see your space which you had given your own stamp (mine was cluttered and dirty and had papers spread all over), suddenly taking an anonymous look. I kept the Calimero there for very very long - almost as if I did not want to take it away from here.
My frequent Friday call came just as I was feeling down and arranging papers. He put the things in perspective - "When you were in this job you hated everything about this place in the last few months and the people were tough and now that you are leaving this place, you say you are going to miss the people and are sad". I think this is just an indication of how things changed in the last few weeks compared to 2008.
We also talked about how it took me time to get over leaving IMD and Lausanne - talking to him reminded me of the number of times I visited Lausanne back in 2007 and it made me think about the speed with which I used to book the tickets back then and wondered why I still have not done it though we have been talking about it for a couple of weeks now.
The Calimero is one that is going travelling. So I packed all alone in the whole building, as is fitting since I used to stay long after some people at times of the year. When I left Lausanne I had a few friends to share the sorrow with. Here, as I packed alone, doubts about the new job and my ability to handle the new job stood as I slowly packed away my secure base - forlorn, anxious and alone.
So here I say GoodBye to a seat that I doubt I will see ever again - yet, friendships will remain and relationships will remain. These are things that are forged forever - whatever transitions might have taken place over the last 2 years even in these relationships, I think the fundamental feeling and foundation that were forged will remain and perhaps develop into something that even stands the test of times and challenges.
The latest Economist has a beautiful picture. It shows the really red hot spicy chillies spread out for drying and an Indian woman in saree and a basket walking checking the chillies. It showed the heat of the moment - the title of the article "Global Warming". ---------------------------------------------------- Similarities between blogs and sending sms to some people: You are just throwing out thoughts - you do not know whether it has struck or not. Sometimes you get feedback, sometimes not. The difference: you do not know whether the sms has reached the person or not. ------------------------------------------------------ The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
I visited the Cinema with Heidi to watch the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. We grabbed dinner at the Brussels grill after picking up the ticket. We agonized over whether to have salad and dessert or main course skipping the dessert. We finally settled for the main course. We then ran into the theatre just in time to see the last advertisement comes on. Brussels has a speciality. Just after the commercials there is a small break when all the lights come on for a minute or so. The movie then starts.
Something else I love about Brussels is the variety of people who are there. In the theatre we sat next to a very young couple who spoke a very different language (I am sure I have heard it before but I could not remember which one it is).
The movie was in a way about the circle of life. You start in diapers and you end in diapers whichever you start from and end it. The movie itself moved like art on the screen - many times it felt like I was watching paintings flowing through. The grace at many instances caught me by surprise.
Kate Blanchett and the attitude/grace and pride she showed through the movie stood out - the way she managed her attraction and rejection, the disappointments and the commitment. The dance aspect was a surprise though and added to the artistic charm of the movie.
Brad Pitt - the make up was good, the way the young boy in the body of an old man still stood out and was portrayed was interesting. The lisp as a young boy - yet, was there an emotive problem due to all that make up in the initial parts? The effect he had on the audience when he was shown for the first time getting younger (himself again) - there was a gasp through the audience as the wrinkles fell out and nervous giggles amongst the ladies. Not having been a great fan of his looks at any point of time, I must say that I can imagine some people are very much taken up the the kind of effect.
The clock - Quite an interesting looking one - I would be curious to see a clock that ran backwards though I wonder what purpose it really served to the people coming to the Station where the story was set.
The way the clock turns around in different lives - the rewind effect was very touching. Many times I had found myself wondering same things - it was a surprise to see it portrayed the same way. Sometimes when I sit in a meeting room (I was just there last week), I find myself wondering - what if I had not stayed back that evening in that meeting room, what if I had not got the call that evening, what if ... would 2008 have turned out this way at all? Similarly I have wondered, what if certain events of 2007 had not happened - would 2008 have turned out like this at all? Which one of the events really caused the turning point which changed my life completely? Similarly, if Parmanu's parents had not come in July 2004, if I had not had to cancel my appointment to meet a certain Dr. Thomas something to do check up for Laproscopy, would all those things in 2008 have happened? I will not write more about this as it happens in the movie so I do not spoil the moment for you - yet, the way this was captured - it certainly was a poignant portrayal of events.
The direction was the most important part of the movie but the screenplay also took the cake. The kind of episodes the director has picked to show the difference between the body and actual age very quite common place and yet telling. Things that others discussed with him which he could not have experienced, yet, I felt there was an innocence missing at times - an innocence that comes out of not knowing. However, as my boss remarked the other day to me "nobody can be perfect".
I did feel cheated towards the end though as the movie took an easy route out to end the tale. Again, I will not reveal what it was but it was certainly an easy way to explain away the whole story and an easy way to end it. However, the strong impression did not change much since most of the movie was captured in a leisurely detailed manner at times making me feel impatient at the pace and yet leaving me to savour each moment just as one would look at the details in a piece of art.
I finally have my new tool - after being like a parched ground with no water falling on it, last weekend I desperately wanted to get a temporary music system.
The "bhooth" got into me during the holidays to restart my quest to buy my own setup of hi-fi system. After asking some people who I think are interested in music enough to make some good suggestions, I decided I needed to do much more research than I wanted to before I bought my "real" music system. I was back in Brussels with just a Grundig cassette player and a 20 CHF CD player gifted by a friend at IMD who saw me starved for something to play my music in (at that time I had refused to buy any until I found my ideal one). In 3 days with just these players I was craving for some notes that could not be heard.
I went to the "Apple" store to buy the Bose speakers for my iPod. The sales person had no idea about the different types of the speakers, he had no idea about the different ones they had in stock and this hardly inspired any confidence in me. I was desperate enough but when he examined the piece he found it did not have an audio in. I fondly thought about the sales people in Germany who would know the pieces well enough to tell me whether they had what I wanted in stock without checking piece by piece. I sceptically watched him and my hope went more and more grey until suspicion of the shop drove me out of it.
I then drove all around the town to different electronic shops and none of them had it. Like a mad woman I kept rushing through the lanes of Brussels in my small like Opel Corsa.
A friend asked me this week:
"Why don't you just get a player with CD, cassette player and an audio in so you can listen to TV too?"
"I want something of good quality" - I said hesitatingly.
"They make quite good ones now."
"I want ... "
"I want ..."
"Well.... I just want exactly this one"... Perhaps I am partial to Bose having grown up with it. Perhaps I do not think that an all in one music system can give as good performance as individual components. I did not know but for sure I wanted THE Bose speakers for my iPod and just as I go mad when I become hungry this time I was mad for one.
This morning, Parmanu and I got into the car, drove to Media Markt, went to the iPod section, put the iPod into the display piece. Indian music floated out into the German shop. As Parmanu started to move towards it:
"It is ok ... Germans are used to it" - I said.
We came, we listened, we selected and went to the sales person and told her what we wanted.
"I want the black one" - I said in German. She nodded - went with the expertise of someone who knows the shop well, retrieved a box and came back with it. Remembering my experience last weekend I asked
"Is it surely black?".
"Do you have the audio in cable?".
She moved two steps away. Put her hand out and retrieved a cable.
"Is this black?"
She looked at me strangely - "Yes...". Parmanu pulled me away before I asked whether it is black once again.
It feels so good to listen to the speakers. I am convinced it is not good enough for me to be satisfied without my "real" one with many different components. I am sure my hunger will rise in a few weeks - but it gives me enough time to pacify my aching nerves.
This is a movie I have wanted to blog about for quite sometime. There is a magic in the movie which I am not able to express right now. After watching the movie the first time I wanted to put my feelings into words - I could not express it. So I went for it again with Parmanu completely sure he would love it (and yes he did...) - immersed myself in it again and came back with the same feeling of wanting to blog about it and yet, when I sat in front of the computer I still could not put my fingers on those feelings. I am now thinking about going again to watch it with Heidi who will have to vote for one of the hollywood awards - I am not sure she will like the story. Yet, I am tempted.. I would love to immerse into the subtle nuances and catch the quirkiness of Woody Allen. Parmanu suggests that I perhaps need a distance - I am not convinced.
As for who my favourite character is - would anyone like to guess? I will reveal if I ever blog about it.
I think audience also added to the difference in experiences. The first time there were some youngsters, there was a disconnect with the movie and the audience - there was a silence. There was hardly any participation of the audience in the movie. The air was still and an air of detachment hung over the theatre. There was a merriment in the crowd external to the film. It was one of the bigger halls in a multiplex.
The second time we went to watch it, the audience was different. The crowd was older, less hippy and seemed to have a happy air about them. The two girls who came and sat next to us and chatted irreverently in the beginning fell into a reverential hush. Yet, at appropriate minutes, many in the crowd reacted - there was a cloud of anticipation and though I did not hear the sighs I felt it - there was laughter at certain moments. Being completely in the film and into the feelings of the characters those were intense moments for me and yet the laughter did not jar with my feelings. It was a smaller hall of a multiplex. Word of mouth had perhaps ensured that only the more atuned connoiseurs of Woody Allen movies were in the theatre at the time.
You might notice there is one event that I left out in my list - US Presidential election. It was not intentional. For some reason when I wrote that it just did not even come up in mind. Strange you would think - it is one news that has occupied the press for months - it is an event that has consumed my family for months, my sister being a county co-chairperson for Obama's election committee, it is something that has even appeared in this blog before. Yet, it did not seem that significant enough to stand out in my mind.
Obama is this year's Person of the year for TIME. When people were campaigning to make him the person of the year just after the election, I was incredulous about the idea. Yes, he came up from obscurity into the position of President Elect. Yes, he is very inspiring. Yes, there is a very human face to all that he does. Sometimes if I read about the progression in his life - or even when I listen to him speak in the first few chapters of "Audacity of Hope" - it seems that he has spent the last few years campaigning from one election to another. His selection as TIME Person of the Year showed that world lacked a person who is able to stir people up emotionally, who is able to get people with different ideas to sit across the table, who is able to generate hope that there can be good will and who makes masses believe that one can hope.
At that time I searched in my mind and in Google for some one else who has been able to generate the kind of passion around the world and who has been the "global" fancy for sometime. I could not find anyone - I intuitively felt that there was an unsung hero somewhere - someone who was really contributing to the well being of the people around him - and it just seemed so wrong that all such unsung heroes would be left out because of a very visible person. In a way that reflects our society now - you need to be able to reach out to a large mass and catch their attention in order to be acknowledged. (As an aside, that explains why we hear more often about Audrey Hepburn - or Angelina Jones - as Goodwill Ambassadors).
But then I was also surprised by their choice of Putin.
As a non-U.S. resident I think that Obama is an excellent choice for President. In January you will have a mixed-race President for a mixed-race country. This sounds ideal. But why do so many people speak of a "black" President? The fact that Obama's father was black does not make him black. I wonder how many people in Kenya are celebrating because they now have a white President (because his mother was white). None, I suspect. David Burdett, YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND
This is something I have wondered about for quite sometime. It is sometimes sad to see just colour as a basis to decide about the person. Obama can hardly be called Black. All his upbringing was not like the upbringing of a person from a completely "Black" family which probably had a homogenous experience regarding how children should be brought up. He had different components contributing to his outlook including an Indonesian upbringing. The only "black" influence as far as I have read comes from the effect on other people due to his colour and the knowledge that part of his heritage is in another continent. In this way he can empathise with the suffering of the black, yet he can also see the effect of the discrimination on a liberal white family too.
For me, as for many others, he is more representative of the world now. He has experienced living in a country different from him home land. He has a mixed heritage. His mother traveled to far of lands and worked in far away lands seeing sufferings of different people of different races and types. He has seen different ways in which people live and as far as I can see he has not judged people based on their particular way of doing things. What he is representative is of a confused youngster who grew up strongly and into an independent person with a mind of his own to do well for less privileged ones and with a desire to make the world a better place without judging negatively. I hope he continues to empathise without judging even in the face of difficult times.
I notice sometime that people who come in touch with India, even when they love India, judge the way the Indian people are and the way small things happen in the country. Their actions are often based on this judgment. This judgment is quite severe sometimes and dictates their decisions about how things should work. What these people miss out on is that we Indians are all different each in our own way and there is no one way in which you can form conclusions about us. Each of us have different outlook based on what we have experienced and the kind of people we have grown up with around. A person, a country's pulse, is also decided by the different kind of exposure gained.
This also defines our flexibility. If we look at us Indians we have done quite well for ourselves. From a country which is a collection of warring kingdoms united by the cause of "British Quit India", we have managed to stay United quite well and democratically too. We have learned to adjust flexibly to the differences around us. This flexibility of course comes through in the work place as well. Yet, we are a nation willing to learn and look for opportunities to learn. Do not mistake this as a weakness - it might seem to be so in the short term.
61 years after Independence, we have come up to be a strong force. I now hope we really become independent in all sectors and become proud of what we are capable of achieving for our country - whether we are in or out of the country.
For this, I feel we need to learn to define our own actions and our own standards in all that we do and match this to the global quality - this we can do once we have the whole country up to the comparable standard of living - a standard of living that is defined by us. However, this is a topic for another post another time.
This evening saw me sniffing with tears flowing down my face. No, the sniffing had nothing to do with the really bad flu which kept me in bed for the larger part of the last 3 days. We had just watched Kramer Vs Kramer. This tear jerker that starts slowly initially had me squirming in my seat. Where is this one going? - an impatient movie watcher I longed to open the laptop next to me and peep into the Google space to find the synopsis. Parmanu kept me away for sometime and kept the suspense up. Yet, it was just before the case came up in court that I looked into the synopsis. Inspite of me knowing the end, the movie managed to squeeze out the tears from my eyes.
I was wondering about the effect the film had on me. Perhaps it was the effect of seeing a lot of separated people with children nowadays. I spent 2 weeks with my nephew and I know the challenges and efforts of a single parent when the other one is completely absent. I could sympathise with Dustin Hoffman's struggles as he fit into the role of a single parent after being an absent father. Perhaps the remorse of having been an absent father and an unlistening/unaware husband made him try even harder to be there. It also made the paradox of single parents stand out much more - you are the only one to earn for the family - and you are the only one there to support the family through all travails. For this sometimes you had to put your dreams aside.
As much of a feminist as I am, I could not understand how anyone who could abandon a child for 1.5 years could claim him back without any thought to the effect on the child in ripping him apart from familiar situations again and from the new trust that he would have built up. I think it goes without saying that it applies for fathers as well as mothers. Unless there is a very harmful reason for the child it is not a reason to take him away from the environment that he is comfortable in. Anything else is selfish.
No doubt these are all very oft repeated statements about this film.
At this stage it is also something quite close to what I am thinking about. I had for the last few weeks thought long and hard - work or work-life balance? I was leaning towards work-life balance and had found new interests to pursue and new areas to explore. Suddenly there are some new opportunities knocking on the door. Rumour mills say this is going to be one that requires forgetting work-life balance - yet, it promises to be a huge learning curve - a sure way to notch myself up and iron out a few quirks in my working character. The way research has been done about me and the support promised to coach my quirks out indicates that there is an interest in the side of the person offering this to challenge me in an even more positive way.
"When Joanna returns with her own lucrative job and the intent to take custody of Billy, Ted finds employment that won't interfere with his paternal duties. "
So the question now - do I complete what I set out to do? - Should I jump into this opportunity to check out for one last time whether staying away is worth it? Perhaps like Ted Kramer, I will find out in time a work that will not interfere with duty to oneself. Perhaps this is one opportunity that will help me find a way to work and yet do what I need to do for myself.
There is always a good reason why we are built the way we are. So we feel pain in order to take protective actions against the pain... we feel cold in order to ensure we keep ourselves warm and protected against getting ill and when you do not feel anything you do not take preventive actions until it is too late - so you are stuck in bed on a Saturday evening unable to do anything other than read or type a blog if you are an extrovert reaching out for sympathy.
So here I was reading the article by Gary Stix about "Jacking into the Brain". The article talks about a movie that is being made "The Singularity is Near" which talks about achieving immortality "by transferring a digital blueprint of the brain into the computer or robot". He then likens this to an "avatar trapped inside a television set". He also talks about "transfer of self" to this avatar and "shifting internal emotional palette" constantly.
All of a sudden, the avatar I had created in yahoo popped up in my mind. Is this the avatar that I really would like to be associated with my immortal footprint that I leave behind? If I think about "leaving" a footprint behind, is that immortality? - is immortality again linked to the Phases in our life? Then again, being a Hindu and believing that we are born again aren't we already talking about immortality? I wondered whether I can chose which type of "data" about myself I could transfer to this avatar.
Similar to the procedure when I created the avatar in yahoo - or the "Wi" where we chose a desired hair style and colour could even the emotional blueprint be decided and chosen? If so, the immortal one that I leave behind could be a desired state that I leave behind.
I come from a country where trying to achieve Immortality is built into all the mythological work as well as into the religion itself. The Dasavatharam talks about the churning of the ocean, Ksheera Sagara, by the asuras(demons) and the devas (gods) to get the "Amrutham" (in malayalam), the nectar that ensures immortality. All the saints and the yogis pray with great devotion for years and many seek to attain immortality. Here atleast Immortality sought was purely with the intention of always living and since this was not solved, there was no question of chosing what form of oneself you wanted transmitted.
From all those literature and thoughtful times we have reached an actionable state - we are an action based generation now thinking of transferring dreams into concrete actionable items to be solved through scientific means. Now we are putting in place Science "still fiction" concepts. Knowing that a lot of science fiction written decades ago are now reality, I am beginning to now think we are not far from attaining this immortality - though immortality is just a question of how we define it.
The article also talks about downloading information into the brain from other sources - downloading "War and Peace" or "how to fly a helicopter" into the brain and connecting the neural networks to use this information. Is this language dependent? Suddenly I felt like even biology and biological research was becoming more like an enterprise software development project with similar issues and questions coming up. The thought of end-to-end processes being looked into and benefits of what should be downloaded in which format or language. The power of the new generation of thinking suddenly stood out in my mind. Computers were built to deal with issues and to automate and the same theory was being used to now understand the ultimate computer.
Suddenly I started feeling uncomfortable and longed for the articles on Particle Physics where people are still searching for things that we do not even know exist and which could be used to not only explain how things are working but also find new ways to use these possible "things to be found" for new research to find even newer things - a never ending loop and a never ending hope. Just a pure immortality of research that keeps on going.
So here are all the thoughts which are hardly coherent and I shall not even strive to make it coherent - so after sometime of jumping from one thought to another I decided that my brain is just getting stressed - there was no download of structured information created by someone else into my brain - so not being structured even in my healthy moments, I decided to abandon the effort to get structured this evening. After all, in future, I can just download all this structured and written by a thoughtful structured person directly into my avatar's head or perhaps it could be that even this incoherent post could be downloaded and the neurons could be wired in a way that this can be structured automatically. We have really become a very computerized world .. sigh.
And finally, let me tell you that it is frustrating to google for "Dasavatharam" as in its original form from the mythological story or religious texts and find instead only links to a movie by Kamalahasan.