Thursday, March 27, 2008

A reason to smile!

Incidentally, seems like Easter (at least the start of it) was a time of good tidings. I got upgraded to business class on my Sydney-Auckland flight. Things like this just don't happen to me. As I handed over my passport to the rather sombre lady at the Lan counter she typed away and then took my boarding pass and went off to an adjacent counter and promptly proceeded to wave the said pass all over another lady's face gesturing madly. 'I've had it!' I thought - somethings' wrong with my passport, maybe its that microscopic bend of the cover pages that I never smoothed out by keeping them under the mattress for a week, or worse still does my picture not look like me? Did I bring my sister's passport instead of mine?!
As the lady walked back to the counter I was all set to start sobbing in despair for waking up at 4 am and being tired and sleepy and now awaiting impending doom! She sat down and typed away again and then very conspiratorially whispered "We are giving you a complimentary upgrade to business class, enjoy your flight'. It took more than a few seconds for the magnitude of it all to register - business class?! me?! WoW! Because, you see, things like this don't happen to me.
My fate is more the kind where people behind me and in front of me and all around me will get upgrades and I will still have my economy ticket.
Anyway so momentary elation duly followed as I thought 'yippee' and 'they owe me one for all the money i've spent on air travel!', then momentary apprehension set in wherein I reasoned that since I have got the upgrade sure enough I would be seated next to a bawling baby for the next 3.5 hours, but then elation prevailed and I proceeded to enjoy the thought of an upcoming business class journey all the while clutching the boarding pass tight.
And rightly so, I board the flight just to see that all and sundry have been upgraded and the person seated next to me was so big he needed an extension to the standard seatbelt!
However, the seats were comfortable, the service passable and barring the man seated next to me who proceeded to recline his seat rather far back and fall into a noisy slumber, the journey was worth it. Would I pay for a Business Class seat on Lan Chile - not even if I had money to throw away! But I will take the complimentary upgrade with a rather large smile on the face!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Home and Away

After a weekend of highs comes the unavoidable low - of being back in Canberra. While the five day holiday went by in the blink of an eye it was as good a weekend as any other spent back home.
Doing nothing is an art, a hobby and it is virtually impossible for some people! Like mothers, they cannot sit down and do nothing. They insist on doing everything while their kids are in town and quite frankly I don't mind one bit! Yet I feel guilty sometimes, a 25 year old with arms and legs in perfect working condition lazing on the couch all day long but then I think about my 70 year old grandmother who still will not let my dad lift a finger while we are home with her!
I guess we will always be that age to our parents and they will always get an unfathomable satisfaction from feeding, clothing and generally pampering us.
Even the thought of going home relaxes me, my shoulders drop and I lose the proverbial crease in the brow.
This trip was great! Caught up with V and her MOTH and had an enjoyable evening with my dad regaling us with tales of his childhood, interspersed with my mother and her additions to them.
I miss home, I miss my folks and I miss New Zealand.
Especially when the only thing welcoming me back to Canberra is rain and sub-zero temperatures.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Rhythm and Rhyme

Have been inspired by Megz's posts to write about my favourite poems! Unlike my vast and varied taste in music, my taste in poetry is rather narrow, some might even call it conservative. My all time favourite poems are three in number. IF by Rudyard Kipling, Tiger and Auguries of Innocence by William Blake. These masterpieces of language and rhyme need no synopsis. Each is an epic in itself and explains the concept as beautifully as it embodies the brilliance of the poet. Never have I read so graceful a description of a perfect life nor one so powerful to describe the tiger, the juxtaposition of good and evil presented in Auguries is exemplary. These poems are not only perfect in technical execution but also represent the simplicity of poetry.
I like poems that rhyme and am not a strong believer or supporter of the 'new-age' techno poetry which usually reads
'a chair, I sat
and looked
black, black, black
and a bird
While some people can pretend to find the deeper philosophy of life in such writing, personally I do not concur. To me this is not much different from trying to find 'art' in a painting of a soup can (deepest sympathies to all Warhol fans!).
There are other pieces of writing that have struck a chord - Shakespeare's sonnets 18 and 91, 'Charge of the light brigade' by Tennyson, 'The solitary reaper' by Wordsworth, 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' by Keats, Gitanjali by Tagore and 'Highwayman' by Noyes.
Do read if and when you find time.

Thoughts on a horrible incident

As I was almost done with my morning ritual of blog-surfing, I happened to read one about the recent murder of a British tourist in Goa. I do not actively keep up with happenings in and around India so this came as news to me and upon further googling it turns out that over the last 6-7 months, such rapes and murders are becoming more commonplace in Goa, which is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in India.
Most of the details including the arrest of two people, can be found online. What I gathered, in a nutshell, is that 15 yr old Scarlett's family which consisted of her mother and 8 other siblings were on a 6 month holiday in India with her mother's boyfriend. At some point during this trip, Scarlett stayed behind in Goa while her mother and the rest of the family took off to a neighbouring state. Her mother left her with a tour-guide and his aunt who would be 'responsible' for Scarlett. The girl was supposed to meet up with her family the day after she was found raped and murdered on a beach in Goa.
I can get my head around most of the facts of this case. Not in that it was right or expected but in that it happened. What I cannot get my head around is this article. My initial reaction to reading the details was open-mouthed shock at how a mother can leave her 15 year old daughter with a strange man in Goa, a place filled with alcohol, drugs (oh come on!) and parties!
Stranger still is how the lady in the article seems to think that it is alright and how such behaviour might be alien to 'conventional, upright' citizens. She goes on to say that children should be trusted at some point and they should be allowed to take safe risks - this I agree with. The question is at what point and under which circumstances can you trust your child.
You could trust them to ride the bus to school or not to spend their lunch money on buying dirty magazines. You could trust them to stay at home while you are out and not indulge in socially disturbing activities. After all what is a safe risk? To me it is a risk wherein if things go horribly wrong, the outcome will not harm you or anyone else. Endangering one's life is not a safe risk!
To be the devil's advocate - a 15 year old had no business to be out drinking till 4 am and taking all manner of drugs available. Yet, at 15 you think you are invincible.
So I would like to throw this question out into the blogosphere - what do you make of all this?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Notes on the music they make - 1

A lot of people talk about music on their blogs. Songs they like, song's they write and even sing themselves! I have tried time and again to pen my thoughts on the songs that mean something to me. So far I've been largely unsuccessful - partly because the task is gargantuan and mostly because I find myself torn between favorites. Yet, music is very close to my heart and methinks I absolutely must blog about it so I've decided, rather presumptuously, to write about songs as they appear in my head. True, they do randomly pop in and are hard to get out thereafter, yet mostly they follow a theme. A dull day demands a certain drone and the sun commands a peppy jig.
So in keeping with this today I will talk about my 'faith' songs! Contrary to assumption these are not gospel choir type songs, ok maybe one is, but mostly songs I've listened to during the bluesy periods of life and they've stuck with me, to be repeated often.

'November Rain' by Guns 'n' Roses - This song is golden. Most of the songs by GnR are not my cup of tea and I skip them but this song is just brilliant. It is intense and strikes chords I didn't know I had! The guitar pieces are exceptionally executed - enough said, go listen!

'Father Figure' by George Micheal - This song has sex appeal like no other I've heard. It is flooded with emotion, desire and longing. I dare any hot-blooded female to listen to this song and not go weak in the knees!

'Nigahen mastana' from the movie Paying Guest - Im a sucker for the Dev Anand-Rafi combination, and song imbibes the romance and the innocence as beautifully and effortlessly as it plays with tune and tempo.

'Woman in Love' by Barbara Streisand - I grew up on this song. It is one of my mom's favorites and even today I find myself humming it and it fills me with a warm feeling of home and peace very unlike the angst and desperation it conveys.

'Brick in the Wall' by Pink Floyd - my first and last of Pink Floyd. Never followed their music much but this song stuck with me. Brings back memories of lazy days with cousins when we partied and sang and laughed and cried. When my cousin got married, in honor of her wedding, we 'performed' a version of this song complete with a harmonium and jhanj (manjira) and people clapping to keep time!

'Tere mere sapne' from the movie Guide - my father's favourite song and another one that I was raised on. A brilliant rendition by Rafi. This song has a soul of its own.

'Mary did you know' - I first heard this song sung by my friend and never felt the need to listen to the original. He is an excellent singer and performed this duet with another friend of his, who also has a beautiful and powerful voice ( This song helps to soothe the disturbed soul.

'Sacrifice' by Elton John - The song, to me, is poetry. It is abstract, deep and penetrating.

As always, this list will be updated from time to time and other lists will be made, however, words could never do justice to the magic that is music.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Quantum nature of life

Nothing in life is black or white. Things are both black and white all at once until they are discussed. Once discussed they are set to either black or white.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Another book review among other goings on.

'Infidel' by Ayaan Hirsi Ali is another in the growing pile of 'life of Islamic women' type books that I have read of late. This time the setting is Africa and the tale just as gruesome as any other told hitherto. At first I assumed that the incidents narrated in these books had been largely exaggerated and over-dramatised to create a strong selling point. However, after reading so many, first hand accounts, it is hard to ignore the single most important message in them all. I will refrain from stating that message here but it is plain to those that read.
I am as yet undecided of whether books are to be maintained as accounts for posterity or treated as a cry for help. If one should read them for knowledge or glean from them an understanding of a problem that underlies our global society and is affecting humanity.
At times I am gripped with anger and a sense of urgency that makes me want to quit this rat-race altogether and take on the world for these women. At other times I feel hopeless or worse still don't feel much at all!
The book really takes off in the last hundred pages. As Ayaan describes how she came to terms with her religion, God and the lack of humanity I was left open-mouthed at the bold frankness of it all. I was equally amazed and shocked at the simplicity with which she has listed shortcomings and solutions. Truly a bold book!