Friday, April 15, 2016

Smriti!

The perfume I wore yesterday,
Is like your presence.
Neither lingers forever. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Letting go!

When you leave,
weary of me,
without a word I shall gently let you go.
― Kim Sowol

Texture & Flavour

This is a very old post, from 2011 to be precise, which I am posting now... with slight modifications. 

Lately I'm getting more and more involved in food as a a topic of enquiry. Especially as I have been part of a group developing behavioural weight management program, with additional Mindfulness component to it. Here I learned about 3 main flavours which food companies exploit, or play around with, to get consumers addicted to their products: sweet, salty and fatty.

To think of my life, in a choice starved world of hostel food, I would occasionally have cravings for sugar. But now when I have lot more choices (on the market shelf or in the pocket) I have increased sugar cravings than I ever had in my life. Generally my weakness has been that of melted butter (on top of hot stuffed parathas;).

I was wondering about my increased snacking and read somewhere that some of the Indian spices reduce craving. Truly, on the days I have cooked some Indian food, I had little cravings. This reminded me of the precept of traditional India health system - Ayurveda. According to this system for a balanced diet, we need to have 6 flavors in our food - sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent.

As I try to be more mindful of my food, what I eat and how it feels like... I noticed a lot of sweet stuff in the market are smooth in their texture, a bit too smooth. Today I got some locally made muffins from farmers' market and the texture is so very different. This has the grainy texture, feels like grains but also feels more nourishing. I guess, often real organic products have similar individual personalities... almost like khadi cloth.

Khadi cloth might seem too rough for unaccustomed people, or those with very rich, modern, western sensibilities ... but it always has a good feel for me. Even when I almost always choose cotton, but khadi cotton (which I wore often during my graduation & masters days) has another notch of texture. It also has history, personal memories and cultures associated with it.

The idea of texture was brought out beautifully in the Hindi movie 'Sparsh', where a blind man teaches the nuances of touch and textures to his lover. It would be good if we sometimes for a change we close our eyes and feel ...

PS: Now I also think the craving for sweets is like craving for rewards, and often it also has an underlying longing for sweetness, affection and love in life :P

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Yogic Friends & Boy-friends

I was recently re-reading this article, 'The Problem with Zen Boyfriends' and smiled to myself because it felt so familiar... seen too many people with such mix of spirituality and neuroticism ... as the author describes...

"What defines a Zen boyfriend is the manner in which he skillfully uses spiritual ideals and practices as an excuse for his terror of, and refusal to be in, any type of real relationship with a woman. He is both too identified with his balls to become a celibate monk, and at the same time too little identified with the wider implications of them to take responsibility for them. The result: a righteous, distant and very intelligent substitute for a real man." There is a need for " 98 parts space to two parts intimacy." 
The common conversation will often be around "love is limitless and unconditional and therefore isn't limited" (to a relationship). 

As Marianna complained, "I need to feel like you're really here with me, and not always so detached," and then felt in this relationship, with him around, "there is no one there to hold me if I cry". 
It is so familiar to feel alone with such people. There is a distance of light years, almost. 

It was almost like watching hills in moonlight, from a distance. Enchanting but no where comforting as a presence next to you. "(some people) think they have become enlightened ... and then "(proceed unsolicited to) try to bestow the same boon upon others". 

---


Marianna has said it so well ... "We live in confusing times where spirituality and neurosis are often seamlessly interwoven into a complex constellation of radiant wisdom and psychological woundedness. Yet in the end, I blame not them but myself. For as distant, arrogant, righteous and terrified as they were, it was I who sought them out, I who tried to open them in the ways that I wanted them to be open, and ultimately I who recreated my childhood pattern of not feeling loved by eliciting the same response in my relationships."


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Lady in Love: Abhisarika to Khandita

Today I was discussing a phenomena observed in our setting, where women, especially from rural areas, who are having an extra-marital affair, get extremely angry with their lover when in front of the society (village panchayat), he either blames her for seducing him or/and commits to not continuing the affair any longer. Interestingly, she is not so bothered much by the social shame and scandal, but a lot about breaking of her trust in her lover. I don't remember how famous heroines of western literature like Anna Karenina responded to similar situations. However, it seemed a little too complex to my colleague who wondered, isn't it a paradox that the women who break the trust, asks for trust?

My take on this was different ... probably these women, when they make a choice about having an affair outside the marital relationship, have already come to terms with the social shame, which they might have to face sooner or later. They are more concerned about the mythical idea of romance and love, where the lover should have faced the world and declared to the society his undying love and readiness to die for her, but not give up on her. Almost Laila-Majnu / Romeo-Juliet style. Probably it gives meaning, almost sprinkles a spiritual dust on to their bond, a relationship which may not be otherwise pardonable by the society. Probably, if it is spiritual, infused with other-worldly qualities, then the usual social norms do not apply. But to reach that level, one needs to prove it...

And if in the initial test itself, it fails, then it was not worth it... they feel shocked because now it doesn't seem like it was love, and thus was not actually worth it! They feel manipulated, merely used like an object ... and thus the sense of betrayal of trust and anger. Which might seem paradoxical to the outside world. But for her, this which she had created between herself and her lover was very private, very secret, intimate and special, almost sacred. From this angle, she might be more idealistic and others might be more cynical about the nature of lovers, of men, of world and its ways and probably life itself!!!

Something about the complex nature of our culture itself, which is vast in its spirit, gives space to many transgressions. NatyaShastra of Bharata Muni describes 8 types of heroines (Astanayikas) and the Abhisarika is the one who is hurriedly going to meet her lover, in the middle of the night, with dangers like storm and snakes lurking around. The setting itself suits a relationship in secret, out of social norms. It is poetic, because in such a relationship there are no expectations, except that of love and company. She demands nothing else but presence of her lover during stolen moments. There is an idea of surrender, of absolute giving, almost sacred. This is often a metaphor of soul's love for the Divine.

And then when he doesn't come, after his endless promises, she is enraged. She is Khandita nayika, the one angry with her lover (who might even have deceived her - Vipralabhdha nayika). Elaborate description of this women and her anger is found, along with the attempts of her lover to make her happy again. Probably the experiences are similar to these women who seem so angry with their lovers. 

The descriptions of these characters in the classical work of art in India is celebratory, is almost divine, and at some places she is Radha herself and her unlawful lover is Lord Krishna. I will end with a quote by Sri Aurobindo

"God has so arranged life that the world is the soul's husband; Krishna its divine paramour. We owe a debt of service to the world and are bound to it by a law, a compelling opinion, and a common experience of pain and pleasure, but our heart's worship and our free and secret joy are for our Lover."

(Note: There is an elaborate and interesting theory of emotions in NatyaShastra... but that post some other day).