Sunday, 26 December 2010

Just now.

A few moments ago, I read a ReTweet on Facebook and decided to Blog about it (yes, it's all about the Internet these days!!) This is what the Tweet said:

RT @BraveKidsVoices Never let a day go by without giving your children love, affection, attention, protection, respect. Always... 

Earlier today,  I had been thinking about how often we don't really know the meaning of the word "love", although it's probably one of the most frequently used words in the English language. In every language, perhaps. I wonder what results and statistics would come out of a research study on love, and whether any corporation would fund it in the first place. 
I suspect that most of us believe that love is that wave of emotion that hits us when we look at a baby or at someone we're romantically interested in. Sadly, I have come to learn a large part of this wave is made up of chemicals designed to ensure protection or procreation! But love has to be more than that. 
What if love is not an emotion, but rather a collection of emotions? Surely respect, compassion, protection and attention - all these are part of love, not separate from it? Because if one of these is missing, how can we be telling the truth when we say, "I love you"?  

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Ode to Amazon

In answer to your possible question, "Where have you been?", I have explored all options and chosen to blame Of course, it's not entirely their fault that I've been away so long. But they did cause me enough of a distraction to put down my drawing pencils for quite a while.

This distraction came not because I am a bookaholic, but because of one book in particular: a how-to guide for paedophiles that Amazon published on their site recently. It disturbed me right out of my depression. The warrior in me (now a one-and-a-half-eyed warrior) woke up. And while my health won't permit me to return to full-fledged activism on the child abuse issue, my heart and my history wouldn't allow me to stay in hibernation.

So I have been doing what I can, updating Askios, (online resources on the child abuse issue), reading, writing, sometimes despairing and taking short trips back into that abyss of depression that I can't seem to erase entirely from my travel itinerary. But mostly, trying to deal with all the emotions that Amazon's attitude to the CSA issue succeeded in jarring awake.

And now I'm here.  And while I did put aside my favourite 9B pencil, I did find the time, one angry-sad evening, to pick up a pen and scribble this out:

Ode To Amazon

In our dreams, the monsters don't win.
In our dreams someone walks in.
Someone who's ready to stand up and fight,
to tell us what happened to us wasn't right.

But that's in our dreams. In the clear light of day
things tend to go in a different way.
We reach for a bottle, a pill or a knife.
We search for solutions and try to live life.

We may hide the wounds
but we can't lose the scars,
and we bleed when betrayal
mocks this pain of ours.


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Serendipity, Sao Paulo

It was love at first sight for me. From the moment I discovered
the Internet, I was hooked. To seal the obsession, I was part
of the team that developed the launch campaign for the Internet
in Bahrain, inet for Batelco. I was one of those copywriters
who liked to believe in the products she sold, and with inet it was easy.

I could go on and on about the joys of the Internet, but for now
I'll rave about just one of them -  the way it connects us all,
around the world. Every day that I check my blog, I'm amazed -
and awed - that there are visitors from continents I may never see,
from cities and towns I have never heard of, or places whose names
bring back memories of books I have read or songs I've listened to.
Every now and then I like to google and look for the deeper connection
between myself and these places or the people who come to this blog from them.

This morning I blog-hopped over to Angela's blog in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
It was all in Spanish, but there was one little box in the top right corner,
whose contents I recognised immediately.

Se Deus e por nos,
quem sera contra nos?

It's a line from the Bible's New Testament, one that I'd heard
so often as a schoolgirl, but nothing that I've kept top of mind.
This morning, however, I was disturbed and confused about
something I'd read last night, and there were a zillion questions
bouncing around my mind. My little blog-hop to Sao Paulo
gave me the answer to them all.

Thank you, Angela, for being my connection to this.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Mysterious Case of the Unresolved Anger

Where does it go?
Nobody sees it, not even me.
I feel it birth and swell and rise and disappear.
I think it is gone, but I should know better.

Here it is, in my blood, spitting such words of poison to the cells around it
that they cling to each other, dig their nails into walls and hold on for dear life.

There my anger is, in my arteries and veins hardening me inch by inch
all the way to my heart.

And not just in my blood, I feel it in my bones eating through and wearing me thin.
Here it is in my knees, hurting me so bad I cannot climb the stairs to an open terrace,
or sit cross-legged to play games with a baby.

Here too in my eyes, holding back the tears so the pressure builds and builds and one day
I will have to give way and be blinded by the flood of anger that sucks me into its darkness.

Here is my anger, in my stomach burning acid.

Here on my skin, erupting in tiny volcanoes of rage, breaking out across my flesh like
a rampaging, molten mob.

Here - and there - in my kidney, in my hair.
My anger is invisible, nowhere and everywhere.

I can fool myself for a while, say it's gone and smile and ignore all the clues

but my body will snarl out the truth.


Friday, 15 October 2010

The facts of life.

Quite often, sitting on the potty brings forth pearls of wisdom. Here is today's:

Once I thought I was so cool
But really I was just a fool.

Once, I'm sure, I was quite hot
But now, alas, I'm not.


Friday, 8 October 2010

Tree #1's birthday present.

When I turned 42, I asked friends around the world to plant trees
for me, as a birthday present. I didn't quite reach my goal of 42 trees,
but it's nice to know that somewhere out there are trees growing
on almost every continent because of me.

The first tree from this  project was planted in my parents' garden,
a day before my birthday. It took three years, but on my birthday
this year, we discovered its first lime, ready to be plucked. 

My lime tree is nearly as tall as I am now (how quickly they
grow up!) and I wonder how the other trees are doing. I must
ask my friends to send me recent pictures. In the meantime,
if anyone out there would like to plant me a tree, please do!
Don't forget to take a picture that I can put up here. And if
any of you have "special" trees, planted in celebration of
a birthday or some other special occasion, I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Choose joy.

The answers are always around us. It's how we look that helps us
to see. I can focus on the ugly pipe shaft from the building next door,
built a little too close to its compound wall, or I can focus on the way
the sunlight plays with the plant on my windowsill. There's always a choice.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Trees to paper to trees.

I saw these three tree designs in a book on applique stitchery
and they looked such fun I couldn't resist giving them a try -
but remembering years of accidentally stitching my needlework
projects to my school tunic, I decided I'd be better off working
with paper and scissors. An excellent form of therapy for anyone
with packrat tendencies. I can now justify all those old magazines
that I Just Can't Throw Away.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

A tiny bit significant.

My last post was about something hugely significant. It's getting 
such an incredible response that for the last two days I've been 
worrying about how to follow that up. Finally, I chose this picture 
I took last week. Visually I find it appealing - the round green 
leaves, the curl of the dried leaves, the white streaks against 
that lovely dark grey in the granite, and the texture of the sand. 
What I like about it best, though, is the fact that the green plant 
you see there, from one tip to another, would fit inside 
a 50 paise coin (a diameter of no more than 2 cm).

I love that it's possible to find beauty and symbolism in 
the tiniest of things. I look at this and I see so many different 
things. A story of survival in spite of the odds. A story of 
life's timeline - birth and growth, solidity and strength, 
withering and crumbling. And a story of reassurance:  
because if there is significance and beauty in a little weed 
down at my feet, there is significance in me, and in everything. 
And if everything matters, if nothing is unimportant, then 
the things I give far too much importance to - success, 
perfection, improvement and competition - might be over-rated.

All I have to do is be me.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Once upon 2.77 acres

Once upon 2.77 acres of land, people discovered God. Some 
of the people called Him Rama. Some called Him Allah. God 
smiled at them all, because only He knew that He was in every 
name, and that He was beyond names.

Sometimes God tried to explain this to the people, but they 
could not understand. He tried to tell them through the leaves 
of trees, and through the songs of birds. He planted His truth 
in the eyes of every child, and He waited for the people to 
see it. But they would not look, and so they did not see.

The people, however, did love God. They were fascinated 
by Him. They adored and feared Him, and they chose beautiful 
ways to worship Him. They did not all choose the same way, 
of course, because God had long ago breathed into each of these 
people the gifts of self-expression and choice. So some of the people 
heard a hymn to God in the striking of a bell, and some 
heard it in the voice of a man calling them to prayer.

God heard them both. But in time, another sound started to drown 
out the hymns He loved. It was the sound of the people, quarrelling 
amongst themselves as to whose god God was.

God bowed His head and wept. And the people looked up 
and said, “Ah, rain.”

For a time, they were distracted, and they began to speak of weather 
and soil and geography. But inevitably, they returned to their arguing. 
And this time they quarrelled about whose land God’s land was.

“Mine,” said God, whispering the word through the rustle of leaves. 
But the people could not hear the word over the noise of their angers 
and their fears.

“Yours,” said God, scattering the word through the songs of birds. 
But the people were too busy gathering evidence to spare any time 
to find the word.

“Ours,” said God, shining the word through the eyes of children. 
But the people kept their eyes fixed, burning with hate, upon 
each other, and did not notice the word.

Nobody knows the exact day when He walked quietly away 
from those 2.77 acres of land, and nobody said goodbye, 
because nobody noticed He had left.

(Edited 15 April 2014)

Thursday, 30 September 2010

The fish stops here.

And so do the Swedes and Cambodians, and people from over fifty
countries around the planet. I don't know why, but over the past week,
there have been so many new visitors to this blog. What was it?
Audrey Hepburn's middle finger? I honestly don't know.

I'm thrilled to have more hits, of course, but what I absolutely
love is seeing the names of places from where people are connecting
to me. So many are names I have heard of or read about, and a few
that I've visited. But it's the ones I've never heard of before that are
the most exciting. Once I've checked my Visitor's Map and then
updated my alphabetical list (a most joyous task for anyone with
obsessive-compulsive  tendencies), I then pick one of the
previously-unknown places and google it.

Which brings me to the title of this post. Somewhere in the state
of Sao Paulo, in the country Brazil, there is a city, nearly 250 years
old, called PIRACICABA. They call it "the bride of the hills".
I have no idea what a Brazilian bride looks like. The only
Brazilian women I've ever seen were in carnival processions on TV,
looking very exotic, sparkly and feathery. So I deduce that Piracicaba
is a sizzling hot place, with a nice set of hills.

I found a connection, too: every year Piracicaba is host
to the International Fair of Humour, where work from cartoonists
around the world is on display. In tribute to my Piracicaban reader,
I must dig out my favourite cartoon and post it here.

You're still wondering about the fish? Well, the city is bisected
by waterfalls, and fish that swim upstream to reproduce - I'm
presuming some type of salmon - can be seen here. The name 
"Piracicaba" is from a word in the Tupi language that means 
place where the fish stops”. 

I find that delightful.

P.S. Anyone know how the name is pronounced? I'm choosing 
to say pee-raa-chi-KAA-ba. That's what it looks-like-it-sounds-like to me :o)

Monday, 27 September 2010

Opium was a medicine, too.

For some people, it's the first thing they turn on in the morning. For some, it stays on all day. For some, all night.

For some it's the soaps or serials that Simply Cannot Be Missed. It's just not the same watching a rerun the following morning. It would be like eating cold pizza. Oh, the rerun might be watched too, but that fresh first showing, oftentimes with extra cheese, can't be missed.

Sometimes the TV is a babysitter who can turn hyperactive children turn into placid zombies who can go without blinking for extraordinarily long periods of time while their parents reassure themselves that this lesser evil is for the greater good.

Sometimes it's company. Voices .. actors, musicians, news reporters .. men, women, children, animals .. the good, the bad, the ugly .. it doesn't matter what, as long as it cuts into the silence of loneliness.

Sometimes it's crowd control, because it's easier to watch a screen than it is to go out and be part of something else, whether that's a sporting event or a riot.

Sometimes it's journeys - into the past, onto an African savannah, behind the scenes or where the action is.

But whatever it is, it does something for us, takes us away or distracts us or just fills the time between one day and the next.

I'm not addicted to it, no, not me. I could easily live without it, but I like having it around. I like my serials and comedies and movies, and voices coming from the other room. I like the vampires and the impossible stunts and the surprisingly good-looking forensic scientists. I like everything except the ads (but that's another story.)

But what I like most is that inbetween all the channels and cacaphony, I sometimes find little poetic pearls of wisdom that I consider good enough to scrawl on my designated scrawling wall. (Yes I really do have one, and highly recommend the concept). And I thought I'd share them with you:

"Your job is to be yourself. And my job is to love you, no matter what."
- the father of Kurt (who is gay), on an episode of "Glee"

"We're all scared. If you're not scared, you're not paying attention."
- Dr. Bailey, on "Grey's Anatomy"

"One day you wake up and you find that you don't mind carrying it around with you."
- Detective Kate Bennett, on "Castle"
(she was talking about coming to terms with her grief and trauma over her mother's murder)

"Scars remind us where we've been. They don't have to dictate where we're going."
- Agent Rossi, on "Criminal Minds"

TV may be the "opium of the masses", but sometimes it has a healing touch.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

A hands-on experience.

It's not a remarkable picture, and of no one in particular, just
one of those random faces I like to draw. But I discovered
something interesting after I'd finished. The face tells a sad
little story. If you hold your hand over the right side of the face,
you'll see that on the left is a young face, full of sorrow. And when
you cover the left side, the right is an older face, hardened with bitterness.

I think the story is that within a person who may seem sour or cynical,
there may be a history of some sadness or despair that is still carried
with them every day.

The moral: Judge not. We do it all the time, and we do not have
the right qualifications.

Monday, 20 September 2010

The big Kiwi lie.

I swear the shadows really did look like that. Honestly.
And talking of honesty, the Kiwis lied to me.
This apple came with a little label that read "New Zealand Delicious".
It was not.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Sometimes art heals in weird and wonderful ways.

After I lost my darling bird Gobi, it was suggested that I turn
to art or writing - about her - to "sublimate" my grief. But I couldn't.
I'm not ready to face my loss so directly, just yet. So I picked up
a book of movie star photos, and decided to try my hand at
copying that classic Audrey Hepburn picture, the one with
the loooong cigarette holder.

Somehow, I ended up with what you see here. Fortunately
for Ms Hepburn, it looks nothing like her.

I'm not healed. Grief takes its own time. But I can't help smiling
when I look at this ridiculous portrait, and for now, that'll do.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Saturday, 1 May 2010

A second postcard

Finally. Postcard #2 is done and ready to be mailed. What I'm enjoying
most about this project is finding three unrelated people - the person
in the picture, the person whose words I've quoted, and the person
who receives the postcard - and creating a connection between them.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Practice makes pearfect.

 I have spent the last few days painting a pear. It is an American
pear, although I'm not sure it is a Seckel, as they are supposed
to be quite small. A few visitors asked me if it was a deformed
apple (the actual pear, not my attempts to draw it).

It was a fun exercise, because I first tried watercolour, then
a black-and-white pencil sketch, and finally the watercolour pencil
one you see here. I had intended attempting a fourth - in oil pastels -
but hunger got the better of me.

I'm not sure if it's because I left the pear out for so many days,
or if this is just the way it's supposed to taste and feel. The first bite
was juicy, but the overall experience is one of powdery mush.
I've eaten as much as I could bear, and stopped. Perhaps it was
the anticipation, the you-can't-have-it-till-you've-painted-it.
Or perhaps it turned into a senior citizen while I took my time
over the paintings. But it was definitely more fun to paint than to eat.

Next time I shall pick something I don't want to eat. Watch
this space for eggplant. Or click here for better pictures
than mine:  The Art of Botanical Illustration: An Illustrated History

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Just because.

Just because it's a cheap little Government of India yellow post card,
doesn't mean it has to be boring. Or rural. Or official.

(If you want to know more about the lady who said this, click this link: The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life or maybe you'd prefer wiki

This postcard, mailed to my niece, is the first of many that I hope
to doodle and send out across the country. If you're in India
and would like to get a card too, email me your postal address,
and perhaps one day you'll find something like this in your postbox.