I think I’ll be working on things I believe in, until the day I am no longer here, because that makes me want to wake up in the morning.
November is on its heels. Again. It's been a good month with some pretty breathtaking moments. With all apologies to Guns N' Roses, winter has kicked in through the back door. Through some pretty rainy days – Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Kota, Jaipur . . . The clothes are still wet on the line, in fact. This was around mid-November.
Autumn, it is said, is a time for reflection. On life, as the year cedes to its cyclic end. Yes, it's Christmas round the corner. We even wished each other on the 25th – in anticipation. Today on the first Sunday of Advent, we are called to be awake (Romans 13:11-14). As Fr Paul in his homily said yesterday we need to be awake to things, people and situations. We need to be able to see Jesus in them.*
We listened to some lovely classical music at lunch time - Haydn to be precise - with a dash of the Wedding March, Handel, and an overture from Tosca. Breezing in the other day with the groceries, I entered to Lionel Richie’s ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You,’- a favourite in college/yesteryears - which we both promptly started singing together. It was beautiful doing a karaoke of memories, even if it was to say to oneself, ‘Yes, life is on song.’
A sampling of some poetry written and recited by senior kids from a school here, which I was invited to judge saw the themes in Hindi field a far wider spectrum than the recitation in English. Hindi took in its sway the plight of the dalit woman, the plight of being a woman and yes, one hailing the CBSE's new found reforms as a contemporary Gandhi! Most poetry compositions in English waxed eloquent about being undefeated and victorious – something which had characterized the likes of Coleridge and Wordsworth. It had a sense of deja vu.
Children’s Day rolled around on November 14 – with the usual ads of chacha Nehru in the papers. What does it mean to the child on the street? In the apartment across ours, we used to hear a child being brutalized, his screams renting the air around 7 p.m. – presumably when his studies were being taken. Early this month I could bear it no longer. I went across and rang the bell. Cruel eyes greeted me - with a hint of fear. ‘These screams are coming from this place?’ - I asked? ‘Who are you?’ they demanded. I ignored the question and made the observation that we had been hearing the screams frequently. I tried to sound menacing. And left. The screams stopped after that. I felt more confident recalling my experience with Salaam Balak Trust and Childline. We need to intervene, to make a difference.
If there is a movie on how to be an optimist, I would say go for Due Date. Two men with entirely different temperaments – one a stressed out corporate dad, the other an on-the-road aspiring actor who goes by the name of Ethan Timberlake – take the ride of their lives. In the same car. What ensues is hilarious but is a subtle parody on how we pride ourselves on our self-importance, when actually life is really chaotic!
Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen's lines above give the boot to those who think modeling is easy. It takes tremendous discipline and far greater acuity than one will concede. Between jobs, Gisele’s words stressed the things in life that matter. To be happy to be doing something in life is an art. Few know how. Given the time one has on earth, how do we define what makes us happy and set about doing that? Gisele continues, ‘As a model I haven’t defined a work time, but slowly I am electing other priorities. So I think I will never retire, I will always be working on something.’**
Tits and ass journalism sometimes makes us dismiss models as vamps or less, and does them disservice. That’s our loss – and a gross example of negative projection in the media. It dehumanizes people and makes them objects.
Having time on your hands, may just help you to recharge – I prefer ‘reboot’ – your life. Instead of drifting aimlessly wondering what to do, it is useful to set tasks for yourself and set into place a routine. Yoga and prayer ennobled my spirit.
November rain has given way to sunshine on my terrace now. The cry of the woodpecker of morn is now replaced by the raucous twittering of mynahs in the gulmohar. Life changes. On the heels of a feast of salmon (rawas) fish curry with rice for lunch with surmai as fried fish, life is beautiful. And fulfilling. November taught us many things. So will December. The song never dies.
*Church of the Transfiguration, East of Kailash, New Delhi
**Delhi Times, Times of India, New Delhi, 10 November, 2010.
All pictures taken by Brian Mendonca; a little girl does the hoopla, while a boy plays the dholak on a train; street kids at play in Alaknanda.