Saturday, October 30, 2010

when to hope and when not to

It's a difficult decision to make; when to hope and when not to. Somewhere in the chaos of creation, growth, development leading to utter chaos, hope springs  and survives.When all our efforts are defeated and there is a great deal of mess to contemplate, very much like in the climax scenes in movies, some problems are resolved and some progress is made.
The problem is when some one close is abusive and thinks that no one will ever come to know.
What can we aspire for, in this scenario?
The situation is not one of utter hopelessness as hoping is a habit of the human mind and tomorrow it will dream and plan and work in hope and find several ways to lick its wounds.
The solution in such cases is to wait and watch and......hope that there are ways out of abuse too.

Monday, October 25, 2010

kicking magic out in the name of logic

This film has been suitably modified for family viewing - How I hate these words! I always feel cheated when a movie has been tampered with by a group of do gooders who have no artistic qualification, but have been given the authority to tamper with someone's creativity. Who watches movies with families these days? I wonder!
This mangling and taking away the essence of a movie was evident when one of our English channels telecast ,"The ugly truth" . I still remember watching the movie the first time on a dvd and laughing spontaneously all through it, even when I thought that the protagonist was a sick character spouting cynical gibberish and that some of the scenes were obscene.In the tv version of the film, several scenes were cut and the story became confusing, but what was unbelievable was that the elevator scene, where the lead characters discover their attraction for each other,was cut, making the story look lame.
Indians always believe that their artistic roots are religious and either adopt them with feverish seriousness or mock at the same as humbug. But most Indian traditional practises are not impractically spiritual. An example that I can give are the 'varnams' or simple compositions in carnatic music, which help the student learn the various ragas. As a student of music, I used to translate these varnams, usually in telugu and used to find them flirtatious. For instance the first lines of the bhairavi varnam may roughly be translated as follows," The female with dark hair is in love with you" The first lines of all varnams translate into lamentations of love.The music teachers of the past who framed such a syllabus were clearly aware that this theme would go well with young learners. They were of course careful in placing the name of a deity at the end of each paragraph, implying the the object of love was the lord himself. The stanzas usually ended as they do in the bhairavi varnam, with Sri Rajagopala deva! or Sri Venkatesa!
There have been several instances when modern artists and film makers have been seen as threats to Indian culture and its conservatism. This creates an image that all Indians are extra spiritual and are unbelievable kind and trustworthy. We, on the other hand know that we are as normal as they come and should do our best not to hide behind stereotypes assigned to us.

Monday, October 18, 2010

emotional intelligence

People with low emotional intelligence are supposed to suffer in life. In an audio clip I heard as a part of a class room lesson, a doctor speaks of husbands who choose to ignore the emotional side of their wives and kids and end up being uncared for and unmourned for.
MS word has underlined the last phrase in the previous sentence in red and in spite of the  horror the word conveys, you wonder if the spelling is wrong. So complex is life and so crazy are humans.

Back to the topic, the husbands have, at least a few of them, opted to let their emotional intelligence rust, as it is not possible that all men are morons when it comes to emotions. And I wonder at what point in life we stop using our intelligence, be it intellectual or emotional.
As kids as young as four or five, we can belt out lyrics of the latest hits and then stop listening to music, losing a portion of our personality.As teenagers we take terrible risks, missing important tests, criticizing figures of authority aloud, dressing exactly as we like, parting our hair any own way, and then we let the rut envelope us and stay seated through a lot of nonsense, for propeity's sake. We let our senses get dull and end up feeling like losers.
Whatever happens to the brilliant, lively five year old US?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The magic of partiality/ the logic in impartiality

I was teacher's pet. My teachers made much of me, my answers in class rooms and praised me at parent-teacher meetings, though I was not a particularly successful student. I especially remember a quiz I participated in, in class XI, when I felt that my class teacher had manipulated the scores of the quiz. We won and there was no way we could have scored that much.
When I became a teacher,being the super serious geek that I always will be, I took particular care to be impartial in all situations. I scored the answer sheets scrupulously and conducted competitions with  fairness.Yet some students complained that I was partial. I assumed that they were just jealous of the toppers and confidently asserted that they were entirely mistaken and that I was totally objective. I challenged them to prove me partial and all that they could do was cry hoarsely," No ma'am, you are partial" It so happened that I taught this class for five years continuously. Even when these students were in class XII, one particular group continued to chant 'partial, partial' whenever I worked with them, although it started to seem that they were not so loud or so upset anymore. On my part I continued to dismiss their claims, but slowly, I had a strange feeling that this group was trying to tell me something. It was as if they were convinced that I was partial but couldn't prove that I was.
I enrolled in evening college for a course in psychiatric counselling the following year. It was as if several windows had opened in my brain. We had some sessions on body language and studying cues given by people and on listening skills. Slowly it dawned on me what these students had stubbornly tried to convey.

I had never given extra points to the toppers, but definitely had smiled more at their quick grasp of fine poetry and classy comedy. I had not realized that backward students felt left out in these situations. I had definitely not smiled, infact, had probably never smiled at them.

I had never praised the toppers or encouraged them out of proportion , but I had looked at them a lot when I taught, because they supported me with their undivided attention and diligent nods. The teacher should look at all the students more or less equally and even if she could not smile at all, should show appropriate facial expressions which would make all the students feel included in the game called class room.
As if to prove how dense I had been I came to know that the leader of the gang that had accused me had been suffering from cancer during her days as my student. And I had never known.!