Where Do You Go? My Lovely

Where am I these days? It seems like it was long ago when I last wrote a blog post. Actually speaking, it wasn’t that long, but it seems to be so.

In general, for someone like me who has no fixed writing schedule, someone who writes as and when inspiration strikes, this is a normal act…this act of being an Elfie, this act of vanishing from the scene. I have done this before, only to keep coming back.

Writing happens only when thoughts and ideas overflow. While it is true that with all the prompts and challenges around, there can never be a dearth of ideas but if one does not feel the urgency to write and also when life’s other tasks get too compelling and time consuming, then writing takes a back seat.

And it is then, that is when I have distanced myself even slightly from my blog, that I start wondering – Why do I blog? How could I have written so many posts? What drove me? Wouldn’t it have been better to have spent all this time writing a book or two, possibly more (I am already in the process)?  What do I do now with all the half-finished articles and poems saved in various folders for the last many years, long before I started blogging?  Self-doubt and self-questioning overpowers, hence an urgent need to be back to blogging; lest I forget it and more importantly, lest it forgets me.    

Now. Did my rambling answer my earlier question – Where do I go?  Yes and No.

Whatever. I’m reminded of two lovely songs, with the same beginning note – “Where do you go, my lovely?”

The first song reminds me of the times when we had just migrated to Australia and we could hear it being played everywhere; a street-side blokey song of a heart-broken young lad. Its beats are great for dancing, but we writers end up bothering about lyrics like “You left me with a heartache deep inside, girl you should see me cry all night.” Full lyrics here

The other song is a classic from the 60s, not a classical as such but about an ambitious girl trying to act rich and classy.

This second number is less woeful than the above song but the guy seems miserable nevertheless, as he enlists all the classy things that this girl, who is his childhood friend and who’s now a social-climber aspires for…diamonds and pearls, Picasso,  links with top guns who gift her with riches.
The singer wonders at this once poor girl who’s trying hard to be rich at all costs, but is she really happy in her heart?  He knows the real woman in her still seeks old times, and not money. High hopes young man!  Full lyrics

See, how my post seems to have strayed aimlessly from here to there! Not a good sign, ehh? Or is it? To let the words flow as they do. The muse is anyway hard to please and tame, so while she was here, I embraced her in all her wayward moods.

For now, better forget about defining the purpose, the goal of my blog. It will discover itself sooner or later.
That’s how it is with life – it takes a life time to define the purpose of life.

I’m everything I am…because you loved me

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ‘coz you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me

Happy Mother’s Day to you all!

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It’s often about these two – India & Music

It’s holiday time which means with more time in hand, other than merry-making and enjoying Christmas Carols, I am back to my Indo-mania. Back to?  That’s because it comes off and on, but when it does it’s not in small doses. And that includes not only thinking about all things Indian but also listening to Indian music and watching Indian movies.

Here are some songs from a very recent Indian movie Bajirao Mastani. Based on a true historical love story between Bajirao and Mastani from the 1700s, it has kings, queens and warriors in their vibrancy and opulence.

Those of you who do not understand the lyrics (possibly 99% of you) can still enjoy these songs for their art and music. Make it full screen for greater visual effects and see them till the end.

The following song is sung in two different Indian languages which means even a polyglot like me does not understand every word of it, but after listening to it a few times, I could feel it going on and on in my mind.

Here’s another catchy number from the same movie. It is based on a mix of pinga and laavni (folk) dance art forms that are popular in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Great choreography and setting, and of course beautiful Indian women in their traditional attire. One of these stars is the lead character in the American TV series Quantico.

These songs being authentically Indian, are different from usual Bollywood songs. Hence I felt like sharing. Hope you enjoy!

 

Killing us with Nostalgia Over-dose

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These days, any occasional blogging that I do, somehow ends up becoming oriented towards music rather than proper writing.  Am I running short of inspiration and ideas for writing, or is it that music is my inner calling? In fact both are.

Today I see a music-related Daily Prompt Always Something There to Remind Me. It’s about getting us transported to some other time via music, and as this prompt asks:
A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes.”

Many of such nostalgic songs that transport me to bygone times, hail from my birth country as well as that from Australia or other parts of the world. Thus there are many Hindi and Punjabi songs I connect to my childhood or youth but here, I’ll stick to English numbers.

One song ‘Fernando’ reminds me of the time my dad brought home a video of ABBA songs that had a vibrant display of the two charming couples singing all their popular numbers. Of course ‘Dancing Queen’ was good for dancing but I somehow liked ‘Fernando’ a lot.  Wonder why, because at that age I must not have known the real meaning of this song. Whether this song is about love and pining, or about war and liberation, it is of course about nostalgia. Today I found some more relevant information on this song.

Another song is ‘Yesterday once more’ by Carpenters. It reminds me of late teens in India in the 80s when I used to take my small battery-operated radio/transistor to bed at night and, covering myself up from head-to-toe inside the quilt, would listen to the radio. One such late night program was ‘Forces Request’ that played English songs requested by families of defense personal. I was charmed by the way army couples dedicated their songs to their husband, wife, children or others. Other than all the songs by Carpenters, ‘Funky town’ was another song popular on this channel.

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Coming back to more recent times, there are a few songs that remind me of our very early migration days to Australia.

Sweet Dreams are made of this‘ by Eurythmics is one of them. The lyrics ‘I travel the world and seven seas, everybody is looking for something‘ is a voice of every migrant. When we just migrated, all the songs by La Bouche were also very popular on the radio as well as MTV hits. Anytime I listen to this song, which is not often, I’m reminded of the old times.

When she says ‘want to be my lover’, my boy who was very little at that time, used to go round and round singing in his melodious girly voice ‘wombie my lava’..’wombie my lava’. That was many years ago when he was learning to speak his first .words. Hope he doesn’t do that anymore 🙂

Thereafter, there have been many such time-connecting songs that represent or remind of a phase of my life. But I’ll leave my musical journeys here, or else I’ll have to rename my blog title as ‘Magnanimous Music’.  Not a bad name for a second blog though.

Promise me son not to do the things I’ve done…

The Daily Prompt:  Well, I Never…
“Tell us about something you’ve done that you would advise a friend never to do.”

~~~

That way I have a list of things that I’ve done that I would advise a friend or a relative never to do.

One can give suggestions but most people learn from experience. What works for one person may not work for the other. This is especially true about career, love and relationship issues. Moreover, what is wrong for me may not be wrong in the eyes of others.

Many years ago I didn’t want to migrate out of my birth country. Not just because of love for India, as I was born and brought up there and I had some duty towards that developing country. Not also because I do not love Australia…a truly wonderful country with genuine unpretentious people. But mainly because I don’t like divided loyalties.

I had other apprehensions too. A migrant’s future generations become mixed souls, with no true belonging whatsoever. Either they become perpetually confused, being sandwiched between two cultures, or else, as I have recently observed in some migrants from my own family, they start taking extreme pride only in their new found identity of being an Australian, as if they never even had a different birth country ever. This could be due to pressure to conform.

But anytime I have advised others not to migrate, they did not listen. They come here, they proudly take Australian citizenship within two years while continuing to (pretend as if they) love their home countries. Thus they have no qualms about divided loyalties or confused identities; qualms that I had. Probably I was and still am wrong, as this is the trend of the day, the essential realities of a globalized world.

Therefore, take advice from others, follow it if it sounds genuine, esp. if this advice comes from a wise and trustworthy person. But also listen to your own heart and brain. Act according to the demands of time, situation and environment.

Listen to ‘Coward of the County’ by Kenny Rogers:

His dad asked him:
   “Promise me, son, not to do the things I’ve done
   Walk away from trouble if you can
   It won’t mean you’re weak if you turn the other cheek
   I hope you’re old enough to understand
   Son, you don’t have to fight to be a man”

But his own experiences taught him otherwise…till finally he said:
   “I promised you, Dad, not to do the things you’ve done
   I walk away from trouble when I can
   Now please don’t think I’m weak, I didn’t turn the other cheek
   And Papa, I should hope you understand
   Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man”

~~~

Kenny Roger’s another song ‘The Gambler‘ also also has good lyrics:

Our life has many situations requiring gambling and risk-taking. These suggestions are good.

If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right

You’ve got to know when to hold them
Know when to fold them
Know when to walk away
And know when to run.
You never count your money
When you’re sitting at the table
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the dealing’s done

Every gambler knows
That the secret to surviving
Is knowing what to throw away
And knowing what to keep.
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to die
In your sleep”

Greece Crisis – My simple thoughts on few things Greek

Greece is so much in news these days, but for wrong reasons.

In fact it has been so for the last many years. But the financial crisis of this ravaged economy with the world’s highest levels of public debt, has now been taking huge toll on the general public, both in the form of extreme joblessness, disrupted financial institutions, general agitation and desperation in the confused public as they save their national pride.

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Outside bank’s closed doors
Picture source: SMH

Few days ago, we saw a sobbing pensioner sitting outside the closed bank doors, as he became a ‘despairing face of Greek financial crisis‘ for he couldn’t withdraw funds what with the banks closed due to low cash reserves.
“I cannot stand to see my country in this distress”, he said. “That’s why I feel so beaten, more than for my own personal problems”

I read in my local newspaper about failing medical facilities in this “society worn threadbare by debt and neglect” , but in the middle of all this there is a huge amount of solidarity among the Greeks, as reported by Sydney Morning Herald

It’s not often we hear such plentiful news about Greece on Australian media, hence it raised my curiosity. While I acquaint myself about the reasons for this economic crisis, I just can’t help remembering little things that I’ve always associated with Greece.

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One of my very early scant recollections about the word ‘Greek’, is one of the characters from the late 70s Indian movie called Dharam Veer. As can be seen in the below song, out of the two friends singing glory to their unbreakable friendship, one is a prince and the other some tribal character wearing a Greek-style dress. After seeing this movie, we school girls used to say, the movie has a stout hero who was wearing skirt-dress with Greek sandals. Such strappy ‘Greek sandals’ had later become quite a vogue in India.

Of course, later on in high school, we read a lot about this great civilization. Personally I didn’t dislike history as a subject but, in general, ancient and medieval history that involves rote-learning of dates and names, was often a butt of jokes among Indian students. Other than lengthy names of Indian Kings, we also read about Megasthenes, Seleucus, Menander and many Indo-Greeks.  For us, Greece too was one of the countries that had a long ancient history like that of India. At that time we didn’t really know that Greece had much to do with the formation of Western civilization, but we could identify with its kings and queens, ancient temples, Gods and Goddesses and perpetual wars that were won by great heroes.

One such super-hero was Alexander the Great, whose war stories have always been popular in India.  Alexander, who got named as ‘Sikander’, invaded India in 326 B.C. and won the Battle of River Hydaspes against Indian King Purushottam (Porus to Greeks). Soon after that Alexander died.  There are many strange moralistic and heroic anecdotes about this war.  Mighty Porus was reputed to be patriotic and heroic but lost because his army used elephants. Alexander, even though from the enemy side, and often thought of as clever strategist and imperialistic, is still well-regarded in India for his invincible heroic qualities.

trojan-horse

Photo courtesy: Greek Myths

Indians generally had positive impression about Greeks, that historically they were full of valor and enthusiasm for knowledge. Most students in India also knew about Trojan War, the story of Helen of Troy, about technique and intellect in the use of a wooden horse to the end goal of victory. Such stories, based on other distant cultures were a source of moral lessons.

Of course, philosophy and moral discourses are never complete without a Greek stamp, what with all scholarly names like Aristotle, Socrates and Plato being read and quoted in Indian text books. We were also familiar with names like Homer, Oedipus, Apollo and Hercules and so many others. People in India have no dearth of ancient Indian scholars and wise men, but they have never failed to appreciate and gain from other civilizations like Greece.

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As long as I lived in India, other than bookish knowledge about Greek culture and history, I didn’t have direct encounter with anyone or anything of Greek origin. There was probably also not much trade between the two countries.

It was only when I came to Australia that we actually met flesh and blood friendly Greek-Australians. One of my early work colleagues who was from Greece, used to look at us Indian-Punjabi women and always express her surprise, “How come you Indians look so much like Greeks?” I didn’t really think so but they saw huge similarities. But our similarities end here. Sounds amusing but other than looks, Indians nowadays are more similar to the English or other Caucasian Australians, if at all. Not that it matters though.

Recently, it is Greek yogurt that is finding my favor. It caught my eye as it’s supposed to have more protein than normal yogurt and it tastes great too. Indian cuisine has its own similar yogurt, that is a sweet dessert called Sri Khand.

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So what am I trying to say? You can argue that no one is refuting the greatness of ancient Greek civilization, and you can say that Greek history, culture and cuisine are not in danger. It’s only the economy. But then, in olden days at least, a ruined or weakened economy had a power to change the rulers, demographics and boundaries of nations. A weak nation-state often used to give way to foreign rulers, as it happened with the advent of Mughals whose long lasting religious influence changed India’s original soul. Also, East India Company that entered India via trade route and soon got the throne, that too for 100 years. Such was the breach of trust, that Indians, particularly Hindu hardliners are still skeptical of any foreign multinationals who want their trading feet in India.

Well, this kind of thing won’t happen in Greece as it’s a modern era. But modern capitalistic times are even more dangerous. They leech out the life-blood of its prey country (or person). We see this in our everyday life.

Say, a person who is initially marginally needy for money, ends up getting a wonderful credit card with a high upper limit, thus facilitating this person with sudden access to more money than needed, but only to be doomed further as slowly his spending habits deteriorate. More loans follow, more expenditure and a seemingly generous but opportunist bank increases the upper limit. This is the time when a wise person (or country) would reign the spending habits but if they don’t, a time comes when collapse is certain, followed by bankruptcy.

Continuing my above example, what if this person who’s heavily indebted by his credit card was originally well-off, both financially and culturally, but now hit by cyclical bad times hard to escape. He is bound to have difficulty accepting degradation and downfall of any kind. There will be self-esteem and ego issues. Ancient civilizations too carry a similar pride, a strong national pride that doesn’t let them bow easily. We will break but will not bow down, is the attitude. Possibly I’m generalizing too much, probably my analogy doesn’t apply to Greek situation as in Greece it is more of a political drama created by the ruling parties.

Moreover, when the world blames Greece for not showing any responsibility in its spending as well as borrowing, they rightfully feel why should the countries that loaned money to Greece also suffer.

Given the complexity, whether Greeks are wrong or right in their approach, whether they are resolving wisely or egotistically, there sure has to be some simplistic way to bring them out if this situation. Will it be feasible for International Monetary Fund to further waive off a major portion of their debt, not merely by imposing austerities but unconditionally? If not that, then countries can pool up and contribute funds to pay off their debt. After all, the world too is indebted to Greece for the cultural richness it gave to the world. Does it sound too far-fetched and cliche?  But we all live by each other, exist because of each other, don’t we?

In Australia, as also in all other countries, if some forlorn dilapidated building is recognized as National Heritage site, everyone tries to protect and save it. Greece and other ancient civilizations are World’s Heritage. It is in the interests of the whole world to save them. Moreover, in any case this crashing economy will influence the whole world via ripple effect.

And once saved, and having learnt harsh lessons from their previous agonizing decade, it will then be duty of Greece to be wise and sensible in future.

I was reading somewhere, that if you wish to help Greece, plan your next holiday to Greece. So what are you thinking. Pack your bags!

 

Copyright © 2015. Written by Alka Girdhar

My Thoughtful Reflection/s

I looked into the mirror
Saw her staring back at me
I asked her point blank
“What are you thinking?”

She hesitated a while
Then looked away
Lowered her eyes but
Didn’t share her thoughts

She looked up again
Looked into my eyes
This time she asked
“What are you thinking?”

I opened up my heart
“I think about you
I think about others
I think about life”

Who are we?
Why are we?
What are we?
What will be?

***

She smiled, then sang
“Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours, to see
Que Sera Sera
What will be, will be.”

~~~

For The Daily Prompt: S/he Said
Pause whatever you’re doing, and ask the person nearest you what they’re thinking about (call someone if you have to). Write a post based on it.

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Also for the Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me
Imagine yourself at the end of your life. What sort of legacy will you leave?”

Well, we had a similar prompt for which I wrote my poem Life Diary.
So although I’m not in a mood to think about end of life but in general, do good be good. Live an honest life, serve others and people will remember you (if they have time).

But even if they remember you, it won’t matter much as you won’ t be here to see that.