Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saying what you mean and meaning what you say

'How often did people say "I see" when they meant "I understand"? (P.246)

Words are expressions of thoughts and proper usage is extremely important. For instance people assume that you are educated when you have a degree, but actually an education goes beyond a college degree:that actually only attests the fact that you are literate.

Similarly, when you are searching for something, it is quite different from looking for it, the difference being really very subtle and hard to define.

One evening, when the boys were little, we were sitting in the garden while the light was fading. My young son opened the gate and came inside the compound, forgetting to shut it . His grandfather gently rebuked him and asked him to shut it after him.

"But dadaji , " he protested, "You told us to shut the gatewhile leaving the compound, not while coming in."

Impressed by his logic, grandfather replied, "hmm, I see."

With the brashness of youth, my son went on to challenge him " Oh , you can see in the dark?"

Luckily for him, his grandfather had a great sense of humour and smiled indulgently rather than scold him for impertinence!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Walking through the mountains

'He told the pilgrim of a spring he had once found on his travels, high in the mountains to the north, in the vicinity of Kedarnath, at the headwaters of the Ganga.' (p246)

This image taken from the website mentioned above, captures the essence of the Himalayas.

Craggy, unfriendly and challenging, mountains have always tempted humans to go that extra mile, to walk the rough terrain through thin air, to brace the cold and biting winds and achieve that one step closer to the sky.

What is it about mountains? Their call seems irresistible, seductive almost. And those who succumb to that siren call, experience an undeniable peace and calm, a feeling of walking in God's loving presence.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The many faces of the Buddha

' However, for one who had been blind from birth, and had not even seen his mother's face, seeing the Buddha's face would certainly have a special significance."If there was one thing I could see in this world," the pilgrim said, "let it be your face." ' ( p.245)

This statue of the Buddha in Bodhgaya, the place where Prince Siddharth actually attained enlightenment is quite different from the version of the Buddha in Thailand

Subduing Mara, Phra Pathom Chedi, Sitting Buddha

Or yet again quite different from the fat, happy, Laughing Buddha we find in China.

But essentially, we find that all Buddhas, no matter how they are represented, in stone, metal or wood, as Indian, Chinese or Thai, radiate an inner calm and wisdom of a truly enlightened soul.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Making choices

"One does not choose this kind of life. This kind of life chooses you." (p. 245)

This is one of the most profound statements in my book. There are times in my life when I wonder why I am doing what I am doing, why certain things are happening to me and then I realise that I really have no choice in the matter. I am sure most of you will agree that things happen and we really have little part to play in the way our lives turn out. There seems to be some kind of cosmic force that decides which way our lives will turn. So why then, do I feel guilty when I reach out to that chocolate cake? Hasn't it chosen me?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Making paper .

"One afternoon a package from India arrived at the cottage by courier. It was from Shanti. It container a letter and a manuscript entitled The Story of My Life. The book was written in a diary made out of homemade paper." (P244)

I love handmade paper, particularly the ones with flower petals interspersed. Apart from the fact that this paper is aesthetically beautiful, it is also eco-friendly since it is made out of recycled paper pulp. All you need is paper, water, a large tub, a frame with a sieve and some plastic sheets.

The waster paper has to be soaked in water and then blended into a smooth paste. This is then put in a tub of water for at least two days. Then a frame with a net is lowered into the water and the resulting cloudy viscous fluid is drained off, leaving the tray covered with waste paper cellulose.

A plastic sheet is then placed on the cellulose and the frame is tipped upside down rather like a cake tin and the sheet is allowed to dry. When the cellulose dries, the plastic sheet comes off easily and you have your own hand made paper!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Saving for an education

"Impending motherhood gave Lucky a fresh perspective on life. Sean would need a stable home to grow up in and money for his education. Lucky remembered how her mother had paid for her education - selling family heirlooms a little at a time until, when her mother died, the house was practically bare." (P. 244)

Tuition and fees account for 67% of the average estimated budget for students living on-campus at private four-year colleges, but only 18% for students not living with parents and commuting to public two-year colleges

It is no wonder then that Lucky has to save:not for a rainy day but to give her child an education

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lucky's Adoption option

'Now me, I come from a good Catholic family, and while I ain't in no position to raise a kid, I'm not in favour of abortion. So I asked Katie to give me a couple of weeks to find a good home, and for her to think about having the kid and giving it up for adoption.'
Lucky put her hands palm down on the table to steady herself. She leaned towards Steve. ' want me to adopt your child?' (P.241)

Truly my heroine's life is one roller coaster. After finding out that she was pregnant when she believed she could never be pregnant, Lucky has to unfortunately abort the child because it was not developing properly. So, it would seem a stroke of luck that Steve wants to give up his own child in adoption to Lucky!!!

Adoption is a complicated process which involves a lot of background check on the prospective adoptive parents. So Lucky is indeed very fortunate that this tiring and tedious procedure has already been taken care of.

Adopted children, it is observed, somehow manage to look and acquire the mannerisms of their adopted parents. Perhaps it lends credence to the theory of nurture over nature where man is moulded by his circumstances and not by his genetic disposition.

Do you think Steve's child will be more like his natural parents or will he somehow acquire Lucky's traits?

Hair today, Gone tomorrow!

'Steve arrived, his quiet self again. He looked much the same except that he was no longer shaving his head: a thin, brown stubble covered his scalp. Lucky noted with some amusement that he had a pronounced bald spot on the top of his head.' ( P. 238)

Hair is truly a person's crowning glory. Both men and women spend a lot of time obsessing about their hair : is it too dry?is it too long? is it too thick or is it too thin?

While it would seem that most men just have a quick shower and rush off to work just running a brush or even their fingers through their hair, it is not true. I have seen several young men spending a lot of time and hair products on trying to get their hair just right.

The reason for this is basically primordial:to attract the opposite sex. A full head of hair implies the person is young and aggressive while a receding forehead implies social maturity.

However, all men will eventually lose their hair and if it helps, a man can predict his pattern of baldness by looking more closely at his maternal grand father than his own father since this genetic characteristic is passed on from the mother!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Uncle Jal and the Cadillac

'A few weeks earlier Alec had been in a chain reaction pile-up on the freeway. He wasn't hurt, but the Cadillac, his pride and joy, had been damaged in the front and the rear.' (P237)

The Cadillac has always been one of my favourite luxury marques. I will always associate it with the long rides Uncle Jal used to take us for in his prized Cady. Like all Parsis, this car was meticulously kept and even his driver had to wear gloves while steering the car! Every now and then as a special treat, Uncle Jal would take my sisters and me for a ride and we felt like princesses as we cruised along the road with the our hair blowing in the breeze.

When his old driver died, Uncle Jal wanted to sell the car because he felt no driver was worthy enough to drive it. Yet, selling it was a difficult proposition. Each prospective client was interviewed, his credentials examined and even the Cady's potential garage inspected. Finally, Uncle Jal found the perfect customer for his perfect car.
"Careful, dikra, "he said, "Be really careful. I'm giving you my jaan," and he quietly wiped a tear as he handed over the keys.

p.s. dikra is an endearment for son while jaan means life.

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