A sigh

Not far ago, we took a view around the Bridge of Sigh in Italy. In a movie inspired by the bridge, Diane Lane kissed her lover near the bridge at sun set, to fulfill a dream. This bridge is a tourist’s attraction. It began construction in 1600 to span the Rio di Palazzo (Palace River) while connecting Doge’s Palace to a prison.

According to folklore when prisoners crossed the canal on the bridge they sighed in despair as they approached their end of freedom. The bridge’s name gained popularity in the 19th century in Lord Byron’s poem – “I stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs, a palace and prison on each hand.” Life not even for a prisoner is in balance. In one hand hope persists and in other pain.

I recently breathed a sigh in watching a scenario as I walked past a lane close to my home in Kozhikode, Kerala.

Bridges bridge gaps between hopes, aspirations and despair. Bridges bring about a balance. Feelings arouse the inner hidden episodes with a sigh, a sigh that probably releases stress.

“Presence of mind” is an often used term, but difficult to practice. As most of us are out of balance with our past memories, moods and ego states. When our mind is not in the present, it is difficult to handle. Engaging with the present probably is presence of mind.

An example of sinking in sadness and moving through such conditions is depicted in a PIXAR film “Inside out”. Lesson learnt from the film is about “emotional literacy” not taught is institutions. This is our ability to notice, recognize, interpret and respond to our emotional links. When we practice this we are able to embrace the way we feel with own and other’s emotions and manage our thoughts. Emotions tell us stories – some sad and a few happy. At times we indulge in self pity. We need to stand up for ourselves. My mother once told me – “your legs are for you to stand upon”. “The moment we doubt whether we can fly; we cease for ever to be able to do it” – J M Barrie.

We all tend to live in our “In-BoX”. Filled and overfilled with matter that enter, that restricts us to an enormous burden of tensed feelings and stressful situations. Delete button is rarely used, to detox. If our in-box rules us, how that can help us for an easy walkthrough the path? A need exists to detour, de-clutter and sit for a while and have a sigh of relief. The bridge we pass through recognizes the attempt of finding out who’s that “me!
Like our bodies are servants of our mind, our mind should be our servant. A strong body and a bright, happy, cheerful countenance result in a bounty of thoughts of joy and good will. We bridge the extremes with a sigh of comfort, contentment.

The walk through the lane that afternoon made me watch and sure, you will appreciate. An elderly person was sitting in front of the huge scattered debris with a tool in his hand. The place was fouling. He a rag picker was separating plastics from the bio-degradable matter and inserting the torn plastics as an asset into his bag. When I looked at him he stared at me, and soon released a sigh of relief and smiled.

He did not know about the environmental impact or the non-bio-degradable composition of his asset he was picking. He simply attempted with a smile in his face, to separate the two. Bridging a gap between, so that he deposits the assets he collected at a renewable material store and makes up for his dinner.

A sigh was an instant outcome from me.

I then went back to the story of the prisoners in Venice in those years in 1600, when hope prevailed as they entered the Bridge of Sigh from palace surroundings to the prison rooms.

Hope that leads us – The bridge between sighs.

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Nostalgia and Dementia

About 35 years ago ….. This morning I barged into a cell of memoirs of that day.

A college mate of mine Venuraj told me on phone that his ankles are paining. I then looked at my ankle. Found that my toe nails need a trimming and went to collect the nail cutter. That was it.

That nail cutter was gifted thirty five years ago in Jeddah by a friend’s friend who shared our apartment for a few nights before he boarded flight to Jordan. He worked for Panasonic National. He said “You keep it”. None ever gifted me a nail cutter, may be with crystals. This nail cutter is unique and precious in many ways.

Nostalgia; a friend of mine told me is like dementia. I found it to be an interesting comparison. Dementia is unsoundness of mind resulting from organic or functional disorders leading to loss of coherent thoughts. Nostalgia is about poignant fixation or longing for something that happened long ago.

It appears both are demerits. I wonder though! When it sounds and steps on memories, nostalgia turns purple. It connotes love and that kind of?

I lived longer than someone and came to this world before India was independent. Nostalgia plays music in my old heart to tickle and fondle my memoirs.

Today the Gen Next will not bother to know because they have a valid reason. It does not tickle them anymore. What tickles them probably are smart things like cells, robots, AI (artificial intelligence), drones, remotes that run automobiles and speed. The flow of nostalgia is in any way trickle by trickle. Very slow like pain in the ankle of Venuraj.

No wonder when a close school friend of mine called up to ask “why not we four meet?” made me vibrant and speedy in action to meet sooner. And we did speak that night in calm and laughter only about nostalgic stories that bind us still. Football we used to play, jokes that made us laugh; cutting chai that we used to share; the kalumakai (mussels) fried in original pepper from that corner shop that does not exist, and about the shop near Malabar Christian College, Kozhikode that has gone into oblivion as a road widening took place and traffic signals have been planted. We spoke of times when there were no city buses only bullock carts and a few horse ridden vehicles, and by no way no traffic signals.
Change is forever and un-stoppable. We understand and appreciate that factor, as none can stop dementia or nostalgia. It flows and carry on with it good and bad things.

Unfortunately in dementia we forget and in nostalgia memoirs filter only goodness and leave the spoilt occurrences to waste. That is why the most often repeated concept of forgiveness comes into picture. The four of us had fought and split but we are congruent in one as much as we trace history and look at what is happening. And hold our fort of thoughts into future with a back drop of how illuminant was the days we passed by. As we grew we never thought we were making memories. We just enjoyed the fun of living.

Some moments we passed through have become treasures. They fit into our bags of assets. More valuable than some of the gifts (unlike the nail cutter) and materials we made in due course. School holidays when we used to go to uncle’s houses to recreate times shared with cousins and their neighbor hood, lakes and valleys, mountains and rivers, playing kites and running and falling.

It appears the second trip down the memory lane is a treat like the grandma’s coconut chutney. Even the eight year old grandson of mine Darsh listens as he is unfolded with an old photograph of his and asks in excitement questions that his nerves wonder. In us are those fond memories, aside us are our friends and intimate relationships and in front of us are challenges that makes future.

I miss being the child.

That brings an opportunity in all of us. Not to forget to awaken the child in us. Being lonely is a possibility and is the worst poverty of this time, as you age. Remember fear was not a part as we grew up, fear is taught en-route. A child does not fear – he just tries.
Like we four old friends met without a reason but celebrated the occasion.

“Be happy for no reason, like a child. If you are happy for a reason, you are in trouble, because that reason can be taken away from you” – Deepak Chopra.

Fly away, anyway

Early morning sometime in August, almost a wet day, drizzling, I chose to walk in my dhothi that I rarely do. Sun had not risen and nearly cloudy. I heard a flutter all of a sudden and looked around. Wow, pigeons from nowhere were flying up in the air and before I could take up my cell to click a few were far away in their flight to freedom.

A few weeks into my journey at Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai as I lay on the thirteenth floor undergoing treatment for Transverse Myelitis, a disease that parallelized me, I was looking through the window sill and a pigeon sat and after a while flew away. Seeing the flight of pigeon I requested my doctor on a possibility of getting back home, away from hospital. Actually I was seeking freedom from looking at the false ceiling of hospital.

Freedom is the RIGHT to be LEFT alone.

In relationships I heard stories where not allowing enough freedom gets entangled into rough patches. Freedom means much more than probably what the dictionary meaning convey, applies in cases involving facets of feelings.
Most keep tensed relationships under tight controls thus pressurizing to accumulate feelings. To let go is actually not to deny, but to accept a fact that if we cannot influence a situation better let go. Probably freedom helps in enhancing the status of our mind, composes our hearts. It allows us to fly with our wings of thoughts.

“You are born with wings, why crawl through life” – Rumi. Let our fears be free. Through our seventh floor windows we can listen to chirping sounds of birds. That musical sounds provide us ideas of freedom. Especially of parrots that sit on bushes around. Allow us to sing, and dance in our hearts. Free from the perils of what may be going on around. Of the many thoughts that creep in our mind every day only a couple or more need our attention. That itself is a great responsibility if we can fulfill and achieve results.

Between freedom of speech and freedom of action lies a lot. Having worked in cryogenic industry where oxygen is one of the most important gases that I dealt with, I recollect what Moshe Dayan once said – Freedom is the oxygen of the soul. Isn’t that right? That’s our right, to be left alone to wander, exploring new ways and means? That right helps us with chances to improve. To seek opportunities by being free to do what we can.

Freedom is becoming YOU without a need of permission from others. To be labeled as intentionally imperfect. We need to fly out from conventional corridors to unknown frontiers, risk being a rough estimate. After all death is imminent, you like it or not. Rewards that you receive thus are secrets, miracles.

I read a book that stated luck is not that reaches you un-expected. It comes to you when you strike in time, being ready to receive fortunes. If not ready, with homework done, we miss out royalties and rewards. Because freedom is not gifted, we need to work for it. You need to win freedom.

Let go the face masks that we wear often. Be the YOU – YOU like to be. Seek freedom from what others expect you to be; and remove the obstacle like face mask.

That scene on a Thursday evening in Jeddah where my Palestinian colleague Al Khammis witnessed his house being burnt will never ever be forgotten. Being a week end in Middle East we were on sea side when a call came stating that there was fire. Fire had almost finished all that was. Seeing him unperturbed I enquired: “Very sad, very bad”. He had enlarged silence with a smile to answer my exclamatory note of sigh. In less than one year he made up most and added more to his new apartment. I knew then that making success out of a situation is revenge. If everything is lost we are endowed with freedom to do anything. Japanese after World War did that. Recovery flights in a path of freedom. Like the way birds return back in flocks to their abode in the evening to fly out again next morning. Beyond borders, with unlimited freedom to live and move on.

“I could not imagine that the future I was walking toward could compare in any way to the past that I was leaving behind.” – Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Image and imagination are two different things; interdependent and a process of reaching beyond using wings of freedom.

Imperfection is perfection to a beautiful perspective.

Cleaning fish?

Yes, I was cleaning fish when my mind worked on fish in the sweet waters and sea. That was after a small trip I had to Ernakulam. On the way back we drove via the sea cost, passing through two rivers on the bridge. On the bridge were people fishing with hooks. The time was about 10 p.m. on that cloudy summer and bit sultry.

I generally sit on the balcony as I peel prawns (konju or Chemmeen). I saw ants carrying the shell. Ants are impressive, says Carlos Castro, a professor at Ohio State. “We made a conservative estimate that they might withstand 1,000 times their weight, and it actually is much more. While an ant carrying a huge leaf on top of its tiny frame provides sound analytical evidence that insects can carry weight far in excess of their own.  This is in comparison to nearly about 270 Kgms a human can lift.

 

WoW! I then tried to complete my cleaning work on fish.

 

Fishing for some is a hobby and for others a business. Those whom I saw fishing from those bridges sell their catch at nearby places like Feroke. Then my co-passenger pointed to the well lit fish market near Feroke as we alighted to see that delight.

 

Most of the fish on display for sale had the hook and thread in their mouths. As the fish seller cut the fish I saw him taking out a particular part and hooking it at a place. I asked what that was. He said that fishermen tie that part on the hook – a cycle of process that weaves the chain like the ants carrying the shell of the prawn. Nature and its wonders where human learn and apply.

Capabilities of individuals are learnt as skills. This coupled with natural talents add to human capacities. The limits and tolerances for each creature in nature are also different. Some complement as synergies.

Learning develops and when applied improves our performance.

My daughter Divya love to probe the past and apply it on future like younger daughter Megna. Both in one way or the other are teachers. Divya when she went for such a training session for her client base in London chose to break apart early morning with a cold surrounding the ambience to explore the fish market Billingsgate with her class mate who now run a restaurant there.

That’s amazing, fish in a verity, in colour and texture and shapes and sizes. The taste of-course as you know is also complex and superior. My friend’s son a chef now in Australia explores and prepares recipes at high end restaurants. He says value addition in his hands turns it expensive for customers.

The second process that I wondered was about the way the price tag goes up as the crabs gets to the restaurant tables in hotel chains. I buy the crabs from under the Elathur River bridge en-route to Kannur. It is good there and the price tag for a medium one could be anything around Rs. 45 to 50/- on not a pricy day. But as served in a high end restaurant in Australia that may cost many USDs.

Look at the way things change in our perspectives. The choices we make and the alternatives nature and man provide.

You can be right or wrong in someone else’s perspective. I wondered when I saw the ant carry the shell much higher than its own weight and the tiny part of fish going back to the fisherman to catch another fish on hooks. Never knew such things.

While adding value a transformation process takes place. It changes in context and in appreciation. Views from angles are varying for own eyes. We understand and misunderstand. Not knowing him /her also has an opinion to express and may be that is a different perspective. It is for us to keep an open eye a not so analytical and judgmental eye as we listen to appreciate another view point.

It is at those times I think of the kaleidoscope. Tilting to accept patterns that change that are varied and different. To think whether the next tilt will let you observe a better picture.

Megna likes mackerels and Divya Sardines. At home we buy both. Usha stopped eating crabs.

Imperfection is perfection to a beautiful perspective.

These days wives like Channel number 687 and husbands love Channel 9. A conflict begins on that. Look at the colours and styles of fish that live together. Some like it in a tartar sauce gravy and some bar-b-queue with a squeeze of lemon. I love fresh salad to accompany my fish with a bit of red wine vinegar and Darsh my grandson likes it with yogurt. The beauty is that Usha my wife prepares it to individual tastes at times.

Certainly it’s tolerances and acceptance that makes the music in our lives.

It probably is an open mind that matters. Those with that attitude do not impose their beliefs on others.  They accept all of life’s perspectives and realities and do their own thing to make peace of mind. Because tastes differ, interests differ.

Chose to have own paths. Those who see a path in front as a clear one probably are witnessing someone else’s path, not theirs.

Once again as I went to swab the portico I noticed a fly sitting on top of a left over prawn shell. That is different and that make up for the meal for the fly’s day. Everyone looks at things n different ways.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective not a truth” – Marcus Aurelius.

Butterflies …

B Flies - 4 BlogTexas Annual Exhibition is where my daughter Divya had a second look at the little wonder – butterflies. She gifted us with a frame of butterflies. I wondered about this lovely creature God gifted to nature.

Lifespan of a butterfly depends on many things from two weeks to 30 days! Butterflies have inhabited our planet for 130 million years. Before a butterfly can flap its wings, it starts out as something completely different and transforms itself through four stages. Caterpillar after hatching from an egg has its first meal – the egg shell itself. Caterpillars molt several times and outgrow their exoskeleton. They lay hundreds of eggs but only a few survive. When a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis its wings are crumpled. It hangs with its wings down and pumps the wings with fluids to straighten them out – wait several hours for wings to harden and dry before flying away. How beautiful are they?

They see ultraviolet colors, invisible to our eyes and can see flowers. They cannot hear, but feel vibration and have a sense of smell. They communicate with each other by color, chemicals and sound. Color patterns signal along with a chemical pheromone to attract opposite sex. Clicking sounds attract ants that in turn protect them. They use support systems and methods for survival. The 12,000 different species of butterflies play a silent part in pollinating the earth’s plant population as part of food chain.

Divya bought our gift from a Peruvian Store. Peru hosts 20% of world population of butterflies. These are farm raised with an idea of conservation and helps local people to earn a living. Butterflies are allowed to live their natural life cycle and allowed to die. These are dissected, preserved for years to please our eyes as well to learn in retrospect.

Lessons learnt:

  • Survival is an instinct that we need to practice on a continuous basis.
  • With a short life span butterflies does pollination. Will Smith quote – “Life isn’t how many breaths you take, but it’s the moments that take your breath away” – Do what is IMPOSSIBLE.
  • Growth is NOT easy. Work for it.
  • Help each other – Like butterflies and ants.
  • Use the resources God gifted us – to be different.
  • Learn till you live – no shelf life for knowledge. As human beings we need to appreciate our sensory capabilities and intellect. We can be butterflies.

Motion & Emotions

I stopped watching motion pictures about 4-5 years back, without any single honest reason. And on May 20th went back to Crown Theatre at Calicut where I used to accompany my mother as a school child and her prime time was to watch a Hindi movie (@ Five Anna per seat then). Times have changed in technology of projection of movie in digitalized format and in sound engineering and ambience.

I took a picture of the old projector from where the light beams flew over to the silver screen those days and felt sort of attached to the past.

It was our daughters who suggested that we watch “PIKU”, a movie they said that I may enjoy. I tried to cope with the stigma of breaking the let known decision that I stopped watching movies, but was worth it, and this article sums up the points.

Times these days are in conflict with age, culture, times – past and present, society, sexual and behavioral instincts, gender issues. Current is also about children and elderly, pressures that put stress on people, binding with the roots that pull backward ideas of growth and changing  life styles. No wonder the audience of that show of PIKU consisted & complemented well with all these issues. I saw grey haired people, some holding sticks in their walk up on to their seats. Some were clad in jeans and what not. The crowd included Parses’, Gujus, some Bengalis, and South Indians.

I saw Amitabh as “BABU MOSHAI” in the film Anand way back in Calcutta early 1970 and was lucky to see him enact with élan as Bhaskor Banerjee of “Champa Kunj” from the banks of Ganga. The thread is what’s of significance – the theme that is deep rooted in a period – struggling with the changing times.

We all experience this in our daily lives – conflicts of interests, conflicts of ideas, conflicts with our identities –futile attempts to put up a show that leaves us who do not want to show case the originals of each one of us. We tend to cover up and are not willing to unlearn and adapt.

PIKU – the original or the root of the story is Kolkata and the current is Delhi. The link to the two extremes is by a taxi driver, who a civil engineer adapt himself after taking up a job as a project engineer in the Middle East, struggles gets sacked and goes back to run taxi service in Delhi. The current generation girl of below 30 is fighting her time and energy is emotive and gets moved and involved as she cannot adapt. She says “sex is a need” and “I am not a virgin”, and why her dad speaks about it to others? Her aunty in Moushumi Chatterjee says she would not mind getting married for a fourth time. These are todays problems subdued and are lucid and challenging the times and relationships. The driver / owner of car who show cased the mixture of Thulsi and Mint leaves to effectively improve motion and draw the Indian vis-à-vis British ways of passing motions. This gives constipation OR otherwise choked relationships. We need to change / adapt. The scenarios reflect the conditions and bring in similarities that stands offs between people, whether they differ in age, cast, creed, language and or gender.

Let Go is the essence (including motion) that we need to do as we pass through the journey of life. Bhaskor Banerjee takes a trip from Delhi to his ancestral home in Kolkota. There he indulges with nostalgia, changes his mind and goes cycling along the routes that once he enjoyed. He buys kachoris and jalebis, bring home, enjoys the day and that night peacefully passes away breathing well with a satisfied mind that he adapted rather than fought situations. He made a choice.

As I watched PIKU I observed majority have constipated mind channels that blocks food processing silos by acid formation with negative thoughts and stress.  If only mind-sets change to ease out pressures (both in motion and emotion) we are able to ease our muscles to thaw our relationship issues. We all are involved in thoughts that break up systems and processes in relationships. We need to de-clutter.  Fact is emotions play hide and seek in sustaining relationships. The single thread is love -> a++itude – Let Go.

I enjoyed the movie – as I made a change in my FIRM decision not to watch movies! Thank you children, thank you Usha. The lessons learnt of modifying my choice are with respect to relationships:-

  • We need to communicate and spend quality time together
  • We need to emotionally support each other by managing disagreements
  • Material and Money matters that dictate need to be handled better
  • Look beyond flaws – Look beyond perfection – Accept differences
  • Cope with Changing Expectations – over a period of time – Its’ changing every moment
  • Think (NOT) – “Where we are” and think “Where we want to be”
  • Be patient – think we have had some moments that are not so good, but not a bad LIFE as such.
  • Have fun, follow your passions