Monthly Archives: March 2012

Abortion

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These buds are crying out! They were about to come out today.

After long winter, the tree was getting all excited to bring forth its leaves. 

But the tree was cut down yesterday. 

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This is where the tree was standing. Now looks empty!

See the other small bush in the picture? It has buds too. This bush is lucky; well, at least this time! It can have its leaves out tomorrow. 

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When I came home from work, I was greeted by the vrooom… of the wood cutting saw. I suddenly realized that my tree must have gone. I quickly glanced in the direction of my gate. And this is what I found! 

The branches with buds were blocking my entrance into the lot. I glided through them. They seemed to say to me: ” What have you done to us? We are unborn leaves. You have aborted our right to live.” 

I agreed. I turned back and guiltily turned back once more. The buds were dancing in the gentle breeze as though they were still fresh and happy! But they were dead already! The symptoms of withering would take a couple of hours, unlike for men or animals, giving out a sense of false bonhomie. 

I went inside the house. And then I thought. Well, I would blog about it. The fate of an innocent tree: here today, and gone today. And then I said to myself, ” No, I will call it ‘Abortion.” The the life of the unborn leaves were lost. 

Isn’t this the symbolism of the fallen rose flower that ignited a poet to write, “You were like a queen yesterday, but now nobody cares for you. Alas!”

 

Macbeth

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I stumbled upon a blog on Macbeth. I enjoyed reading it. I loved most of this author’s other posts. He has a penchant for brevity and an interesting picture-essay style, while bringing out unusually interesting points to light.

I have loved Macbeth since I was a child when I bumped into this musty book in the bookshelf, a relic from my mother’s college days. I was intrigued by the plates, particularly the witches near their cauldron, Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking, “I have done the deed”, etc. Some of the verses I committed to memory have stayed with me ever since. ‘Fair is foul and foul is fair’,is one such.

I did go through the book a few times over on a timeline, when I was around 18 or twenty, and once more later. Owing to my familiarity, I would place Macbeth as the best of Shakespearean plays. However, I owe it to this author for very interesting information such as Shakespeare’s clown characters. I have often wondered how these scenes fit into an otherwise somber story-line. Also the picture of Dunsinance Hill is reminiscent of Shelly’s Ozymandias: there is just a bare hill where all the story played out in intensity!

However, I the historical Macbeth seems to be one of the best loved of ancient Scottish kings. Shakespeare installed a devious plan to malign his reputation in England at a time when the English probably wanted suzerainty over her, and the Englishmen would have been enticed by such tales. The United Kingdom was formed soon after Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s timing and selection of the plot were clever, to say the least. Would some expand this line of thought.

I am very curious. Thanks in advance.

New Speakers

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I had a chance to mentor eight students of the University of Manitoba drawn from Turkey, South Korea, China, Brazil, Pakistan on public speaking over a six-session program called ‘Speech Craft’ under the auspices of Assiniboine #419 Toastmasters club. This blog is like a general evaluation with the objective of connecting with all of them and being able to help out further.

It was fun to interact with them all.  They had diverse skills in meditation, long-distance running, video games, horror movies, visual art and Feng Shui and liked to talk about them all.

How would a South Korean youngster accept a drink from an older man? He would accept with both hands and drink it standing sideways and partially covering the glass with one palm.

What did the word meditation mean to Fernando? He would ‘create the day’ in his mind while still in bed before getting up.

Haiku, a Chinese girl narrated her difficulties in communication. At Tim Horton’s she ran into a host who said ‘pardon-me’ again and again, until she actually said ‘a little bit’ much to her delight.

The girl from Turkey, Deniz, had a Valentine’s day telephone call from her mom, and she wondered if it is a good idea to change the idea of Valentines day to just a family day.

The Pakistani boy, Norman, missed the mango-eating festivals, kite flying and night caps of Lahore and adored cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan as his super hero.

What Julia, one of the mentors like me, found out was that Deniz had no clue what John Lennon’s people song was. The coordinator, Yvonne joked, ” She is too young,” to which Julia responded with another song suggestion, namely, “girls want to have fun”, which again failed to evoke a response of familiarity. Julia’s unfamiliarity with the Middle Eastern theocratic societies even surpassed Deniz’s ignorance of the songs as she remarked: “too old?”

Now let me conclude with my general points of growth with some wisdom of hindsight.  I remember as a new Toastmaster, I found Rob’s frank remarks that he faced difficulties with my accent, pronunciation and speed of talking rather bittersweet. Now looking back, I would commend him for mentioning that, so I was able to start working on those points. I am being a Rob here: try as I might, I was unable to understand much of what the speakers said.  All of them would do well to practice voice training and learn to speak clearly.

None of them betrayed any sense of stage fright and everyone had excellent stage presence, both commendable achievements.  Kudos to each participant for that. Let me wish everyone all success.

I would hope to hear from the participants and other mentors. Other readers are welcome to share their observations or their similar experiences too.

Uncle

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It was Baby who told Tampi and Joy that a man is visiting their home that day.

“Did you know that your alian is visiting today to marry your sister?”

They had in fact noticed a flurry of activities in sprucing up the house and the kitchen was abuzz with goodies making. Now they understood the importance of it all.

Alian is coming to see my sister, alian is seeing my sister today.” , the boys aged 11, ran around the houses and shouted at everyone.

Their sister was getting ready to ‘see’ her prospective groom in the conventional ‘arranged-marriage’ style prevalent in South Indian village of Vallamkulam, Kerala in the late 1940’s. What they hadn’t realized was that the visiting suitor may or may not end up being an alian, Malayalam word for sister’s husband. In fact, their loud merrymaking aggravated their father so much that he even pounced on them with a disciplining rod.

However, it turned out that the visitor eventually did become their sister’s husband. The memory of the boys running around with shouts of joy and later being disciplined became a jocular anecdote that was passed down to me years later in late 60’s or early 70’s.

They were one of the most amazing couples I have ever known. The lived together 64 long years until yesterday when my uncle passed away in Bangalore. He had been on a ventilator support in medical ICU for about a week. Tampi, now 75, had visited him just a couple of days back. His wife, my aunt, always preferred to be called Mrs.Thomas and not by her name, is a subject of another story in its own merit. Although ailing very much, she made it a point to visit her comatose husband in the ICU two times every day until the day of death.

Vignettes of my uncle, Pappachayan, aka, Mr. Thomas flash by:

“Next year you are going to be in which grade in school?”

“Eight.”

“That’s high school, my boy! You will be a big boy!”

His evening walks to Vallamkulam always included a sitting chat with Mathew of grocery shop. I used to go there, but always found Mathew aloof and businesslike. But here was my uncle on equal terms with him sitting on a stool opposite the cashier’s table and chatting!

“This is excellent, fine froth.” I would exclaim seeing his shaving expedition in the morning down to the well. There was no water running down a tap behind the bedroom those days.

I recall him sitting on the Jeep next to the driver and giving directions as my newly – wed wife and I sat in the rear seat. He had picked us up from a bus depot called Kalassa, some 150 km north of Mangalore to take us to the coffee plantations where he worked as manager those days. On one of those days, he just tripped down near a coffee plant. We giggled.

He quickly resumed his posture and beamed: “Oh! I was just examining the root of the plant.”

But the most famous one liner that I would remember is this: “You should have uttered a word.” He was responding to my announcement that we would be off from his estate the next day. Actually we hadn’t told him that in the beginning, neither had he asked.

May Pappachayan’s soul rest in peace!