Sunday, February 23, 2014

Quintessential of life

The spotted hyenas of African native demonstrate a peculiar behaviour known as the Siblicide. When a mother gives birth to 3 cubs, she leaves them at the den and goes to hunt. Unlike other animals, hyenas are born with sharp teeth and good sight. These cubs bite each other for larger parental space to show their dominance. The cub which is dominant gets more milk from the mother and the least dominant dies due to starvation. This competition among the siblings for mother’s milk results in 25% of all new born to die mercilessly. Apart from these Siblicides committed by the hyenas, other animals like the killer whales and leopards kill each other for survival and competition within the herd.

I took a glance at her sheet from time to time to ensure that the colours used did not avert anyone’s eyes from my painting. When she stroked the clouds in deep blue, I made sure that there were three more colours for the sky in my landscape. The sense of over powering was subtle at the age of 7 but the foundation was laid right there. Maybe it would have subsided eventually over the course of time with leg and back aches but witnesses to the situation didn’t allow that. The aunties lurched forward, tilted their heads and grunted cues to better our paintings. We both poured more paint into the palette and with simple compulsive nuances, grudges into our heads.

They told us that it was going to be all dancing and merry making. We had to choreograph steps to the loud DJ music and entertain the over expecting parents and relatives among the crowd. But, what they didn’t tell us was that we need to be better than all others to be noticed. It shouldn’t matter to a 13 year old girl whether she occupies the middle position or the side last unless she didn’t enjoy the music. But, every girl in the group craved and fought mind battles to win that position. Our bodies gyrated to the music, while our minds swayed to the pressures.

He erased the straight line drawn over the board and turned to face the class again. He explained the perpendicular line concept in a to-be-imagined 3 dimensional space. Most of the students in the class nodded in unison while my friend turned to me with a doubt. It was all readied in my imagination space and was making sense to me but when she asked, only the previous maths paper mark flashed in my mind. Nobody needed to teach a 16 year old about the folly of teaching another student something she knew because there were high chances of scoring more. These intentions didn’t come in a day or two but were carefully tendered seeds of thoughts spewed in the muddle of cranium and nurtured over stages of life. While both our shoulders shrugged with a sign that meant we didn’t understand the maths concept, our hearts knew we weren’t doing well to each other.

In every sphere of life, it has been in man’s ability to carefully think. These thoughts are not free flow like everyone claims. These were mastered with actions, sprayed with selfishness from the ambience and rolled with layer of non acceptance. We don’t look at anything as the way it should be. If something exists in the complex space, it must be put to use. 

I didn’t give a speech in the elocution competition because I loved talking. 

I didn’t act in the Christmas play because acting meant a world to me.

I didn’t write a summary of a novel just because reading gives me pleasures of something unknown.

I didn’t dribble across the entire stretch of Basket Ball court because it was a good exercise.

I did because I wanted to prove. I wanted to showcase things to the world that had limitless hunger for more. I swelled with ambitions that were beyond my reach and hopes that were not nurtured the way it should have been. I didn’t fall into the dungeon of opportunities but was dragged with weights that were intangible. 

Nobody told me that I had to win. There was nothing that instilled the competitive nature in my head. Yet, I was there, giving my best in everything I could, whether I liked it or not. I wasn’t thinking of the journey or the patience that I had to build eventually to see the results. I was running the race, blind folded and foolish.

What I fear is that someday when I have children, I would not be able to tell them how to savour the journey of life. 

How will I teach them to appreciate the less significant things and move forward in small steps to achieve larger goals?

How will I remove the cynic emotions towards the world and help them enjoy what they are doing?

I hope not to mold and unleash them to the world full of cut throat competition for my own ambitions. I will leave them to lend a deaf ear to all the noises that might change them. I will not let them look at the surrounding as I did. I will feed them optimism and trust at every walk. I leave it to God to give them the strength to face the outcomes.

Is the world what it seems to be ?

Those eyes stare

I must be one of those elite members in the book of travellers who shuttle frequently to Chennai to attend all marriage and my God works in odd ways. He makes sure that I use the train at the same time and on the same day of every alternative week. He adds to the convenience by placing me in a project which has a shift from late afternoon to night.

Not everyone will understand the emotional connect that I have with the Chennai Central station. The bond goes back two years from today when I discovered that there is a morning train which will land me on time to office. Since then, my routine has been the same; rush to the station exactly at 6 45 a.m. and halt at the Sarvana Bhavan counter. 

Yes, I am the stereotyped South Indian who loves her morning coffee and idli-sambhar. This reason makes the compulsive visit to the Chennai’s favourite Veg restaurant ‘Sarvana Bhavan’. The process for getting a parcel from this hotel is very simple, pay the money at a counter, submit the token and receive your package. But it isn’t as simple as it seems. 

It is a world wonder how at least 50 people make it to the same counter at the early morning flashing their money bundles and shouting the order. The probability I had practiced for 3 years hasn’t given me a solution for the  right time to go to the counter when the crowd would be manageable. Whatever be the rumble and hassle outside the counter, the man in greyish green uniform behind the counter snatches the money, gives the stare and returns the change monotonously. It happens every time and this expression hasn’t changed over the two years. 

For him, this must mean a serious business but to me, to get his attention was the utmost drive.
As everyone in this world teaches something, there have been 5 peculiar things that I have understood in this short encounter with the Sarvana Bhavan counter guy.

(1) I need women’s quota: I have tried everything to get the token. I have batted my eye lids, squeaked out loud, banged on the counter and everything that is in my power. But, he does his job meticulously; collects from everyone except me. One day, I could barge into the Railway minister’s house and demand women’s quota for every counter that is on the station. That way, my package arrives at least 20 minutes earlier.

(2) I definitely need to marry someone taller : What is with the designing of the counter that is exactly at my height that I need to tip toe to glance at my lover boy ? I do my stretching in the counter with the heavy back pack that finishes my early morning exercise. Now and then, a dancing step gets conceptualized in this ritual but he doesn’t give a damn. If my children, by any chance, get my genes of love for coffee and idli, a taller spouse is a need.  

 (3) I must revisit my Math concepts : I didn’t memorise the probability formula well. I haven’t fully understood the permutation and combination either. These are more essential than any x’s and y’s I had learnt. I should be able to calculate the right time to enter the counter, hand over the money and collect the token. For these, I must draw an entire chart of plan with that minuscule calculation like train timing and number of people roughly who love the SB. This way I should be able to save enough energy and time.

(4) My networking is of no use : I roughly have around 1300 friends in my Facebook account out of which, at least 800 must be from Chennai. And from these, roughly, say 300 are from Bangalore. Why the hell are they not in station at the same time? Why cant a super handsome tall guy just help me out here ? Yenn kaduvale ?

(5) Demand and supply curves : I rolled over the mud and bed to understand these demand – supply concepts in post graduation but I see real use only now. Whatever hell be the price of the idli, there is still demand for it. Who, in the right mind,is fine with buying over priced idlis at a station? But the demand is never less making it tough for every smaller mortal like me to strike a bargain with the counter fellow.

People have problems with the matchmaking aunties and nosy neighbours but I have an epic closeness with the hotel counter fellow. As SRK shrieks and shrills in the Chennai express movie, I would say the same: don’t underestimate the power of the common counter fellow. He could make or mar your entire day.

Though I understand the business profits and seriousness of the fellow with staring eyes behind the counter, my encounter fallacies remain at the worst every alternate Monday morning. Now, visit to the railway minister seem the only way out!

This is an entry for the #ConditionSeriousHai contest by Cadbury 5 star.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Lingering on the tombs

Have you ever tried to feed curiosity into a child's head and watch it convert into a dream that he truly wants it to happen? 

Have you wondered how he learns so quickly from everything and everyone around at such a tender age?

Have you noticed that these dreams vanish into thin air when they grow up and succumb to the surroundings ?

Have you made someone believe that these fantasies could actually be made real and pursued ?

When I was a child, my ambitions were as vast and panic inducing to my parents who first heard the word "Egyptology" from my mouth. During my school days, it started as a “cool” word to fill in the slam books and throw jargon to emphasize the enormity of it. I remember gaping at every golden lined photo from the Child Kraft books which had methods of embalming of a mummy. I always time travelled with the pharaohs and queens as I was reading these books.

 When the era of modern graphic movies opened up to us, "The Mummy" movie series captured my fantasies wilder and I was absolutely in love with everything I was seeing. 

During my teens, Harry Potter spread like fire empowering every reader’s mind with the concept of magic. Though I worshipped the seven books in Holy, I still considered the language and scriptures of Egypt even more magical.

Hieroglyphs seemed like what music would to others. Beautiful and elegant. And to add to the beauty of the language, it doesn't exist any more. This fact makes it more tempting. You will have to learn a language where you have no companion to help you read or speak. 

When I look around the modern day brands, I see names from Egyptian Gods. It must be really hard to dig deep into the chronology of Egyptian Gods and kings.

There are vivid images of golden and black statues surrounded in aura of mysteries in my mind. Imagine that you are unraveling world’s most fascinating and overwhelming history from Tutankhamen's tomb. You run your fingers through the paintings, scriptures and gaze at the magnificent architecture.

There is glitter in anyone’s eye when they see the massive Sphinx hugging the Pyramids. To study the Pharaohs who once reigned over territories. I have considered my self as the Cleopatra who let herself bitten by the wasp. I am intrigued by the fact that these have travelled even into Asterix and Obelix comics.

Over the period of life, I have matured to understand that childhood fantasies can’t be made into ambitions unless you are pursuing them at every step you take. We need to focus on things that seem feasible and achievable; more important related to us. I cant learn the culture of another country by sitting and breathing in another soil. I limited my interest for the sake of realistic goals by reading random articles on Egypt over the internet. But at the back of my mind, I still smile at all the things I used to imagine. Now, my dreams have withered and fallen like the autumn leaves. Worst, these have been forgotten and lost as I went on to pursue what every Indian parents wanted their children to do: an engineering followed by post graduation in MBA.

But, this contest I saw at Indiblogger gave me an opportunity to look into things that I thought never existed. I felt elated when I learned that I can actually acquire a degree in Egyptology !! There are quite few colleges in UK offering a three year full time and part time courses which give insights into Egyptian culture and language. The study is experimental and research oriented to help every student understand the nuances of history.

If I were to do a BA Ancient History and Egyptology, I would definitely attend Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology at Swansea University Wales,UK.

My reasons are simple to make the choice of college, the campus is closer to the beach which makes it learning conducive and they have a collection of Egyptian artifacts. As described in the college website, they have the largest material and house around 3000 archaeological objects. This means, I need not travel deep into deserts to understand Egypt. Most of the universities also ask for additional language like French and German. Things seem to get even better as I have been inquiring for German language classes for a while. Also, for a student from International category, various scholarships are offered.

Someday, I will work upon the options and do a course to satisfy the creative aspirations that have been lingering with me for long. I do understand that all the degrees I have pursued may not be in use after a BA in Egyptology. But what gives more joy than to see a path clearly unfold just for you ?

Unlike the Harry Potter which is purely a fiction, I know that this ambition of pursuing a career in Egyptology is definitely NOT impossible.

Thank you for the opportunity !

This article is for IndiBlogger "Knowledge is Great" contest.