Monday, 19 May 2014

Ramblings of a fence sitter

Having the willies at the remotest fringes of my mind I vacillate like a pendulum somewhere between sixes and sevens. Just as I sense I am developing cold feet there is a tingling sensation on my neck. I don't know what those thousands needles are but they heedlessly turn my backbone into a jelly. Alright now. Hush! There is a voice echoing in my head. But last I knew my larynx was in my throat. Well this a nightmare after all. What do you expect? The voice is getting louder. "G, here take this red lifeline and just turn around the corner and you are in paradise. You see this is the most cushy no sweat ride" There is another dizzy voice getting vociferous. "Hey G don't listen to her. Take this yellow one. One blooper and red one will explode. Didn't she give you the disclaimer? That's what happens when you don't read the fine print. Red is highly precarious. Stay away from that but grab the yellow one. I 'll be honest with you. It wont take you to paradise. Not even near it. Might give you a cramp or a little discomfort. But rest assured that it wont cause an explosion." "No don't listen to them. Take the blue one. This is the only option you have. The others might personate as an option but blue is the only tangible one. It is harrowing, vexatious and abhorrent but you don't really have a concedable option." That's the blue one for you.

There I am straddling the fence all yellow bellied and pigeonhearted. But hey I am beginning to enjoy the view from here while I let my frayed nerves untangle themselves from the mangled mass of red, yellow, blue. The view might not be clear but it is amusing when I wear my observer glasses and get rid of my judgmental hat. Maybe I do not need the perceived cushioning of red, yellow and blue because maybe I'll not jump from the fence after all...maybe I'll fly. I believe I will.

On Unsolicited Advice

 I want to print a t-shirt  that says "I am not kind to unsolicited advice. Give it at the risk of it landing in a trashcan." Can anybody suggest me something more curt, crisp and terse. In fact I intend to get multiple t-shirts printed with this message. One for each day of the week.

I am writing about a particular type of advice. I'll leave genuinely well meaning advice aside. Having said that I still prefer relationships where you can open up and share your truth with someone who acknowledges your problems and offers emotional support but no judgement or advice. A true friend knows when you need advice you will ask for it and resists the urge to fix your life.I am writing about unsolicited advice by people who consider themselves to be self proclaimed experts and like to exhort their own dogmas on hapless acquaintances and bystanders. You know you are a victim of unsolicited advice if  you get to hear, 'you should', 'you ought to', 'why don't you', 'it is about time', 'you have to', 'you must', 'that's how it is suppose to be'. The advice can range from how thin or fat you need to be to when you should get married, which school to pick for your yet to be born kids, how much jewellery to wear, which god to bow down to, which colors to avoid, which cream to smudge on your face to look fairer, how much, what and how to eat, how to greet, how to manage your finances, at what speed to drive, who all to be friends with and who to shun, which side of the bed to get up from, how much time to spend in the shower the list goes on.

I know I am going to ruffle a few feathers here but I find our fixation with bringing everybody's credence, proclivity and idiosyncrasies under one umbrella of culture, traditions and values repulsive to the core. There I said it. It is repulsive to poke your nose into someone's choices and way of life and then throw a tantrum because hey they are different from yours. How dare someone reject your paradigm of humbug felicity. How dare they not see the impeccability and exemplariness in your life. Even if it is exasperating for them because how dare they think of their own individual happiness . AG's (Advice giver's)happiness(and of the family's, neighbors, their cousins and entire community's) is more important and beyond judgement. How dare anybody strive for individual peace and satisfaction because these very elements are meant to be unattainable. Words like personal satisfaction are created only to be a sacrificial lamb at the altar of implausible traditions.

Now that I have vented my revulsion for unsolicited advice I have to admit I am not sure what goes in the mind of AGs. It could be either of the two

 a)One may argue it is just an innocuous habit they have never really paid attention to.

b) It could also be a deeply ingrained insecurity that makes them perceive people taking a different approach as a rejection of theirs.

 If you think it is the former I would like to get to the root of it. Where does it emanate from? I belive it is a manifestation of intolerance and dogmatism. Intolerance can manifest in seemingly harmless way of giving advice, coaxing, cajoling, manipulating or in a more aggressive and antagonizing manner of sitting on a moral high horse, preaching, intimidating and using threat or violence.They just differ in degree or scale.

 If it is latter then dear AGs let me counter your advice by reminding you that our paths are not mutually exclusive. Its not  my way or yours. We both can happily choose ours without being a threat to each other. Universe is vast enough to hold infinite choices. You may unclench your fist and iron out that frown. Be assured that the sun WILL rise tomorrow again inspite of people making uncustomary choices. Lets all find our place under it.

I believe there is only one rule to life and that is that there are no rules. Who has made these rules anyways? Humans who are susceptible to errors? Humans who are concerned about one set of people so much so that others must be put at a disadvantage to suit them. So you seize their choices and run it like that for centuries because something that is biased, vile or bigoted first grows as their fate and later metamorphoses into unimpeachable values and traditions so that someone opting out of them is put under an extreme duress of being judged, humiliated and ostracized. So how is one human viewed as altruistic for establishing rules for all and sundry and another heedless for making new ones only for himself. Who is being selfish here?While we have been taught to embrace people of all religions, castes, race, culture, ethnicity , the new age teaching should also include people exercising different choices in their personal or professional life.

Its easy to do lip service and show verbal support for causes which are fashionable and flaunt how progressive you are. But intolerance reveals itself in everyday life. How many of us would not ridicule a man who chooses to stay at home and look after children while the wife goes out to earn a living? How many of us would not judge a man for crying? Our prejudices and stereotypes are a mirror to centuries of conditioning and our inability to think independently of them. A woman who is single is judged for being pregnant while another woman is judged for not being pregnant after getting married. Why must a woman's womb be controlled by whims and fancies of the entire community? Why can't we accept a man or a woman who wants a child but not a marriage or marriage but not a child? Why are we not tolerant of women wearing what they want? Why are atheists coerced to visit places of worship just to keep appearances? Do their personal choices have any bearing on our day to day life?

Untill we dont become tolerant of each others choices we cannot stop rape and hate crime. Let us stop ourselves right where it begins. Let us stop being intolerant and respect people's space. Those who invade it by poking their nose are only a little better than those who use force.

For people who feel unnerved and overwhelmed by AGs and culturally sanctioned bullies keep your  head firmly on your shoulders, stand on your own two feet, keep your eyes focused on your goals and happiness and most important of all develop a thick skin. Just think of superfluous advice as a set of jumbled words and waste no time trying to decipher it. Words that have no meaning do not have power to hurt anybody. Once you start trying to put sense into them they take form of a menacing monster that will smother your inner voice. Love yourself and your choices.

Disclaimer : If this blog post turns out to be unsolicited advice for someone please feel free to tear it, stamp on it, shred it into pieces, flush it down the toilet, burn it or whatever is your style. No offense taken.The views are entirely of and for the author.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Confessions of a half baked artist

As I have evolved with age so has my relationship with art. What started off as something of an enchantment and a yearning to emulate the way my mother discerningly moved her magical fingers shaping wispy lines into a dainty bird or endearing creatures matured into something more intrinsic. It was as a child that art gave me utmost joy as I drew and painted with a careless abandon on all my ruled notebooks meant for numbers and alphabets. There was a time when my mother could no longer make me color within lines. I have a flickering recollection of us awake one night practicing how to make a parrot for a competition. We were to draw a pet. The next day after I got back from the competition my mother found that the color green was still new and unused. Instead it was brown crayon which seemed to have endured a violent assault and was half its size. I had made a horse. I did not have a real pet and an imaginary pet horse stirred me more than a parrot.

As I grew older and became acquainted with the finer nuances of painting I perceived I may not have mastered the perfect wrist movement for smooth line work or have the intuitive ability to pick just the right colour. I have always reprimanded myself for using an ochre instead of an olive or 'that blue on neighbors door' instead of cerulean. I considered colorwheel to be good only  in theory (only to be proved otherwise by an erudite teacher thankfully). There were some artist whose works I admired like a child who takes a fancy to size 10 shoe than her own. The more I sought their work the more it stimulated my senses. But beyond a point my senses could soak in only that much without blinding me to everything else. All this made me contemplate if I was doing the right thing. Maybe I was squandering my time on something I had no talent for. Do I always religiously stick to the basics( like having squeezed tubes of black and white in your kit is to scoff at watercolors) or unlearn all so that I can paint like a child again. The self doubt had crept in and made its its presence weightier than my impish strokes. This was a call for introspection. I observed myself as someone outside of me and then I observed myself from within the depths of my being. And over the years here is what I established about what art means to me and my life though it is constantly evolving.

I have discovered that art for me is not an end in itself. It is a means to something. Recently I had refreshed my Reiki attunment. Something that my Reiki master tried to elucidate struck a chord somewhere. She annotated that the universe has ushered art into my life so that I could heal myself as I needed tremendous healing after my mothers death. I discovered painting for me is not just a contrivance to create a work of art but a therapy too. All this while I was oblivious of the fact that I was healing myself through art. It was working like a silent prayer the efficacy of which leaves its presence like a tenuous fragrance. I feel I am waking up to it now and it has percolated into my work bringing with it a vehement sense of  gratitude for the universe. It has helped unravel the love for the creator who always knows better than me. I started noticing his divine creation which is the universe, the sublime colours which do not even have classified names, the sounds that brings everything else to a stillness. In my view all the artists whether they know it or not are venerating the universe in their own wondrous ways. Whether it is some famous rock star or a folk artist hidden in the obscurity of a wonted life. It humbles me to be a part of them.

Art for me is not a comparison or a competition. Universe accommodates all. I honour my art because it encompasses the paraphernalia for me to know the universe and connect with it. And in the process I become more aware of myself because I am part of the universe too. I want all the artists whose works I have poured over for hours to know that I love their work and I love my work too. Art has made my journey(metaphorical, literal and figurative) more vibrant. I love it when an art work turns out to be the way I had visualized. However I love it even when it flows out of my hand and takes it own shape. When I start a new work that I feel the anticipation of a new journey and curiosity for new avenues I will be lead to. When I reach the end of a work of art I know its not termination of my journey but a diversion to something new.

Recently for the first time I had displayed my painting in a group exhibition. I was apprehensive because I was doing something new at an age where most artists would have done a dozen shows. However I wanted to share with the world the end result of a process that continues to heal me and fill my life with light. I hope it would emanate the same to others. I got a very encouraging and benign response and I feel I am ready to share my work with the world. I cannot explicate each and every element in my work because for me its worship and an act of faith. I am just a medium just as art is a medium for me. Meaning will and should be interpreted differently by all according to what the universe wants them to know. So I would suggest never go by what artist tells you because his interpretation is prudently different from yours. If nothing else just enjoy the aesthetics of it.

Here is my art work which was displayed.

Friday, 2 May 2014

My dog eared notebook

This blog reminds me of a tattered dog eared notebook lying somewhere in the dusty corners of my mind . I had started it with an excitement of a child who has finally got the new toy after much hankering and a long wait. However as the viridity of it wears off and is lost somewhere amidst the dissonance of an exacting city life I let the simple pleasures of writing a journal slip by until I tripped on it again and felt the guilt of a neglecting pet lover who suddenly finds it sick. So here I am again picking up the lost threads and trying to weave stories, art and experiences. Would love to see you all here,conversing, chatting, appreciating, criticizing, arguing, agreeing, disagreeing and sharing.