Category Archives: NOT ABOUT FOOD

now there’s a nice word !

Some days ago,  I played a few rounds of the game “Hangman” with them.

Noor constructed a word that I’ll remember for a very long time.

After I’d guessed the 2 letters that made up the last 4 of the 9 letter word, the first five seemed kind of obvious. I mean, the 5 letters to come before the last 4 -which were “Mama”- would have to be “sweet”, no? Or so my eager heart wanted it to be ! But I thought I should leave the surprising and delighting of me to her, so went around the alphabet making the wrong choices so as not to “get” it in time. And I was, finally, surprised and delighted with the word anyway, for it wasn’t “sweetmama” after all but “suitemama”.

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Filed under LE FUTTED BALLON-life with the girls, NOT ABOUT FOOD, THE STUFF OF MEMORIES

This sounds familiar…

This article here resonated with me.  If one is an outsider, or aware of being different in any way, anywhere, then an experience such as this would reinforce that realization.

And I really like how the writer brings it to our attention – and therefore makes us think about our choices and our prejudices –  in the nicest possible way.

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One poet’s answer to an existential dilemma

Dev’s e-mail a couple of days ago revived memories of the strong impression Nissim Ezekiel’s poems made on me in school and prompted me to find out more about him on the internet. And I found, in an obituary of him, two lines from one of his poems that I felt spoke to me. Or rather, to the ambivalence I feel as someone who chooses so far to live outside her native environment yet wonders about the rightness of it.

“……..Ezekiel once described India as too large for anyone to be at home in all of it. However, after tenures as visiting professor at Leeds University (1964) and Chicago (1967), plus lecture tours and conferences, he always gravitated back to his native city. Though a natural outsider, he still felt Indian, albeit “incurably critical and sceptical”. As he wrote in Background, Casually: “Others choose to give themselves/ In some remote and backward place./ My backward place is where I am.”

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Remembering a poet

Thanks to Dev for forwarding this collection of poems by Nissim Ezekiel, a poet whose “Night of the Scorpion”,  a part of our poetry curriculum in class 10, was my first introduction to free verse.

A very detailed and interesting study of “Night of the Scorpion” can be found here

WHISPERS  by Nissim Ezekiel

1.

When the day is over,

let it go.
Don’t try and stay awake
to get some more work done.
Flow into the night.2.
Say No to Positive Thinking
When the evidence is Negative.
That, too, is holy ground.
Walk on it quietly;
don’t moralise, don’t explain it
as the Will of God.

3.
If you can’t sleep,
remain awake peacefully.
In the darkness, be darkness.

4.
Some food is perfect,

needs no sauce,
no comparisons.
Eat, be grateful,
and turn away from it.5.
In Central Park, New York,

a friend said:
Let’s get out of here,
I’ve heard it’s not safe.
So we got out.
A beautiful place, but not safe;
a human place after all.6.
How much I have lived!
Whatever I could take, I took –

and it was good.
Now I need
to make it good for others.7.
In Rotterdam
or some other city

I made friends
(What else could I do?)
with many I met.
They showed me around,
paid for our drinks,
we talked about our lives and things.
Then, of course, the letters,
and, then, of course, the silences.Only in heaven or hell

are people always together.8.
From barrenness and boredom
to a revelation

is only one small leap.
If only you prepare for it,
it happens.9.
What I say to my soul

is not important.
What my soul says to me
lights up the universe.10.
A good waiter

takes the orders patiently,
and served what was ordered.
So should the poet
in his invisible cafe.11.
Know

that you are half-blind,
and cannot clearly see
the simplified act of will.
Then, as in a dream, you see yourself
transformed.
Enact that dream.12.
Surprise

at the first sprouting
of a white flag
among the pubic hair,
collapses into shame
and humiliation. Blood
protests, erect in rage.
The phallic god
knows neither youth nor age.13.
Develop subtlety,
then give it up.
You are not

what you develop
or give up.
You are only the process
of growing up.14.
Whatever happens

every day,
The Sun shines on you,
Shine back!
Shine back!
Even if only
with a little pocket mirror.15.
Harsh. Unfair.
Your enemy
is telling you the truth.
Do not turn for comfort

to your faceless friends.
Resist. Defend yourself.
But let your armour
be sackcloth and ashes.16.
Work twice as hard

as the hardest worker you know,
You may achieve
half as much.
The lowest rung of grace
may still be out of sight.
Remain where you are
with grace.17.
Son has  a new toy.
Father has a new idea.
Both are at play.
Son with toy.
Father with idea

Watched by mother
Who has neither toy nor idea.18.
Imagine you are blind:
go on, imagine it

for a day or even an hour.
You may learn to use your eyes.19.
Every man is a man of Sorrows,

with the gifts of God.20.
I have faith in magic:
formulae, incantations, devices,

mystic exercises
and simple hard work.21.
Who is this

swimming in the Ocean of Human Misery?
It’s me.22.
I believe in Love –
and morning walks.

—————————————————————————————————-
Source: The Brown Critique – A Literary Quarterly ; October 1999 (Calcutta)
Special Issue (Nostalgia)

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More great music

As I searched for Jethro Tull songs on You Tube tonight, I also re-discovered “A Classic Case”, an album that features pieces of Jethro Tull’s music as played by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Very nice too…Or may be it sounds so special because it is the music I grew up on, in a way, in college.

And now of course, with Indira I am discovering and enjoying the sounds of a whole new set of singers – Shakira, the Black Eyed Peas, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga !

Although, given the kind of visuals many of these songs come with, I am very thankful to the people who’ve created Spotify, the online radio, that this option exists ….

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The magic of Ian Anderson’s flute

Tonight, the memory of two pieces of music came back to me out of nowhere, though I haven’t heard either – “Elegy” and “Bourree”, both by Jethro Tull – in years.

The first, especially, is just sublime.  I had the girls listen to it as well, though they were in bed already. They enjoyed the chance to jump back up, mostly, but liked the music too, I think.

The pieces are available here and here.

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The context is important

That the context is important, should be self-evident. But so often, we base our perceptions, and misconceptions, on only very sketchy information.

Here’s a well-reasoned  commentary that makes that case for Islam and puts in to perspective some of our ideas about that religion.

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