Saturday, October 16, 2021

Making Memories

The anticipation of meeting
The smells and sounds of travelling
The wait at the signal
The walk to Room 1, the destination final.
Yes we met on Zoom and Meet
On Telegram Groups everyday each other we greet.
But the heat of the day, the thirst we feel
The loud voices that over masks distances heal.
The roundabout introductions
The teasing and the one-on-one conversations
The informal tour of the campus as a TISSian
That to even old timers now feels alien
The talk of cats and monkeys
And of shortcuts and libraries
Seeing the new home of the Centre
The sun beating down on us admist the banter
The stillness of air, the sweat, the tea, the brownies
The contrast of an actual classroom earlier and the terrace wannabe
All coalesce in one unforgettable memory
This is why the virtual can never beat physical reality. 

- Written on 15 October 2021.
- On 14 October 2021, a few of us Mumbai-based students and faculty gathered together to finally meet after a year and half of online classes.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Self-Pity or Self-Care?

There is a fog in my head, 
I cannot hear or see
What my ears and eyes covey to me. 

There is a din that I hear
In the nothingness clouding my brain
Silence can be loud. Have you heard its refrain? 

There is an emptiness I so sorely feel
I see colours and yet everything feels grey
Is it the world or me that seems fading away? 

There is a mountain pressing my chest
It is difficult to breathe.
Exhale. Inhale. Difficult, but repeat. 

There is so much to do, my checklist awaits
Yet all I can do is write this rhyme
Complain, ironically, that I have no time. 

Yet, I regret not, these moments of self-pity
These are all that allow me to just BE. 
And find sanity in insanity, in chaos peace.

- Written on 13 Sep 2021. 
- Self-Explanatory. Am supposed to chase deadlines that I have no longer any energy for and no reason why I am so lethargic. 

Happy Ganesh Chathurthi - 2021

Ganesh Chathurthi is here again,
A year of strife, a year of strain.
The remover of obstacles reminding us
We have not yet learnt to focus
On issues important.
We will likely regret.
Climate change and hostile takeovers,
Children neglected, the poor lacking even leftovers.
While Bezos' and Ambanis' losses and rises recorded
And mindless WhatsApp messages forwarded.
Ekdanta did not proceed without understanding
Every word of the Mahabharat that he was scribing.
Vignaharta will not just wash away our troubles,
Sarvasiddhantha will wait for us to learn from our foibles.
So this year, Vinayaka, enable us to understand and act:
Prioritise lives and quality over dry economic fact.
Kripalu, help us feel for our fellow-beings,
Muktidaya, help us a lead a life of purpose, of meaning.

~ Anusha Ramanathan

Happy Ganesh Chathurthi, everyone.

- Written on 10 September 2021 and posted on Facebook.
- Self-Explanatory.

After a Hiatus - On Facebook -

I posted a request. I posted after a long time. Am touched by the number of people who helped me find translators and actively reached out. I am also touched by the many who asked why I had not been posting. I have been asked this earlier as well.

My Response in Verse (Bad verse strikes again 🙂)

I have been asked time and again
Why I have broken my posts chain.
Random ones on events occurring,
Of what some said or just pics and ramblings.

Why no post on the Covid-19 crisis?
And not on the Mizoram-Assam border conflict,
Not on Afghanistan nor the climate
Nor the Olympic wins. Why so quiet?

I have written, but I do not dare
My angsty pourings to so publicly share.
I have no patience for the comment or two awry
For someone to report me, for Facebook to block me.

And no I do not want to post
As it rains of having tea and toast.
Or a personal moment sad or happy
Does posting these bring the world closer to me?

The many deaths and illnesses among colleagues, friends and family.
The many births and recoveries that spread cheer in this time of difficulty.
The moments of escapism into worlds of fantasy
On TV and YouTube, in books and posts, in imagination roaming free.

Yes recording these and more might be useful, but what role then of memory?
The emotions felt, let them be.
In activism engage quietly
One-on-one converse sporadically.

On WhatsApp groups, On Telegram too
The promptness reduced.
The mails shorter and pointed
I can see some are worried, some disappointed.

This is a phase
Or may be a permanent change,
But as of now, this is me.
Sigh! Sharing takes up too much energy.

~ Anusha Ramanathan
And those who know me too well, will sigh and say, our peace is ruined, she has recovered some energy and will surely now yak away. 🤣
To them, I say, no, not yet. But I am recovering. Sympathies. 😜

- Written (mostly) on 29 August 2021. Posted on Facebook with some edits on 1 September 2021 in response to my request.
- Self-Explanatory.

An ex-student wrote the following as a response that touched me a lot. Thank you Souvik :)
Social commentary is tiring I agree
But requires patience like growing a tree
Remember the moment you had begun
Is the purpose now done?
Ur posts are like a beacon spreading light.
Most will be enlightened but some will put up a fight.
Do it for "your why"
Do it for those who are low or high
Do it for yourself
Your thoughts reach many and they help. 


Happy Teachers' Day - 2021

Happy Teachers' Day!

The following is part a tribute and part a diatribe, so feel free to skip.

My teachers have so influenced me
Encouraged me to be the best of me.
I do not always succeed, but I try,
For that was all they asked: that I strive.

To allow for change,
To failure acknowledge,
To wholeheartedly appreciate
Others' best and emulate.

At home, my first, my mother,
In school and college so many others,
But also in books, in films, on travels,
They come in all shapes and sizes, these marvels.

Not merely a sage on stage, the teacher.
A friend, a guide, a mentor, a healer.
With actions, with caring, always inspiring,
Imbuing learning, never stopping.

Some of my teachers are retired now,
But their legacy continues and how.

A class I took yesterday on grammar,
I remembered my UKG teacher.
Mrs D'Souza with her long nails
Coaxing me to speak correctly admist my wails.

So many more such memories of learning,
I am blessed. I know, but what of those currently suffering.

Schools shut down for a year and more.
Technology distant, more than before.
If today's young are to shape our tomorrows,
How will they be enabled. We are doling out only sorrows.

Rules changing. Fears overriding.
To be or not to be in schools parents deciding.
As if learning is an option, the primary neglected.
The vaccines developed: The older protected.

Yes, health is important, but have we tried,
To help teachers through their strife?
Reduced wages, job losses, technology woes.
Coping with so many obstacles, our heroes.

Hiring paused when we never needed them more.
To plug the gaps, relying on private players and NGOs.
Pass percentages and exams the focus still
Assessment not learning continues to be the drill.

Oh! the future, so bright and beautiful.
Without learning, is this possible?
Teachers are trying, but are we?
Could we focus on education for humanity?

~ Anusha Ramanathan

Happy Teachers' Day.
Actions speak louder than words.

- Written on 5 September 2021 and posted on Facebook. Shared initial part on WhatsApp, etc with Tecahers.
- Self-explanatory.


Monday, August 16, 2021

Afganistan, I pray - 2021

Kudah Gawah and Kabuliwala
A film and a short story
That sparked my imagination
As a child made me yearn.

To travel to this land dear
Towering mountains, a sky so clear,
Crystal water, hearts equally pure,
This land of Gandhari has always lured.

These days but, it reeks of terror
We read with trepidation of the many horrors
The land free is shackled tighter
Its people fleeing. So much fear.

This country, a pawn, in others' dare
A people we love, but how to show we care. 
The west, the east, blame game aplenty
I pray that we there be light soon, no more tragedy.

Yet, we know better, we can see clear, 
This has been brewing for many a year.
We need a global solution, not a coloniser's greed,
We all must to Afghanistan's peace pay heed.

~ Written on 16 August 2021.
- Reference: https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/08/15/world/taliban-afghanistan-news.amp.html

 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Drip. Drip. Drip. Your Energy?

Drip. Drip. Drip. That is your energy.
Exiting slowly your body.

A message for a link that you heed
Just 5 minutes is all you need.
Calls ignored, but notification registers 1,2,3...
And your friendship slogan is "Count on Me"
You call back, how can you not
In times such as these so little to give you have got.

You listen to laments and cries
You tear up but console that time flies. 
There is so much sickness all around you
You see deadlines too
You know it just writing a page or two
You know what to write and how, but do you? 

Vessels get cleaned, the floor gets wiped
Clothes get washed, the food cooked fine
The laptop blinks: just a page or two,
The calendar reminds, but where are you? 

You hold your breath, can you feel yourself? 
You inhale and exhale till you are almost senseless.
Just a page or two, just one more call, just a meeting or two
Listen, write, it is not so much to do.
You can multitask: listen as you clean, 
Write as you weep.

Drip. Drip. Drip. That is not your energy.
It is you leaving the shell of your body.
Reset. Recover. Discover, the joy in you. 
No one can help, if you do not prioritise you.

- Written on 16 May 2021. 
- Self-explanatory. 

Panic or Revel?

Those breathless moments
Soaked in desperation
Monitors and pumps
May help tide over these bumps
But the memories, oh they do so linger
Waking you up gasping in fear
A life well lived, well loved is precious
Death's calling should not make one anxious
The best keepsakes are memories of love and laughter
Bodies may die, but people in our ideals and values live forever.
So, cherish these moments of togetherness
Revel that you were blessed with such greatness.

- Written on 15 May 2021. 
- Somehow times seem to become only increasingly challenging, making me feel anxious, tense, panicky and yet knowing all the while that I am one of the blessed. 

Mother's Day - 2021

I generally write something this day.
But words seem to fail me today.
Celebrate what? Cherish whom
In this era of increasing doom?
Mothers, Migrants, the story the remains the same
We mouth words, we placate
One year has passed
Yet nothing has really changed,
Mothers still sacrificers,
Migrants still unsupported,
It is still mayhem's reign
May Day! May Day!
Happy Mother's Day in 2021!
Will in 2022 at least we have a new chapter begun? - Written on 9 May 2021.
- Self-explanatory Also - Find on Facebook

A Story of a Woman in Covid-19 Times

It was a 1 room kitchen. A small bathroom-cum-toilet where one could touch the other end of the wall with just an outstretched arm. The wall paint was peeling. The blue-grey colour was morose anyway. It perhaps was good that the white of the spackle was showing up as patches. The rooms seemed more lively thus.

She peeled vegetables for the evening dinner as she spoke into her headset. Who would believe she was in marketing and sales. She was rotating the same 3 night suits for weeks now. The internet speed could not support the video if she turned her camera on, so she did not need to dress up.

No lipstick to add colour and courage to allow her to smile. No mascara to hide the sadness in her eyes and give a sense of joy, even if false. No blush to remind her of youth and hope. Now her tear swollen eyes stared back at her accusingly. Her lips drooped south and the only colour in them came from her biting them so often to hold back her pain. Her face did have colour, but purple not pink. Her husband too knew that she could not show her face, so he no longer seemed to care where he hit her.

Oh it was not often. Generally, because of his stress. His work was high pressure. He was a nurse. He could not help but feel distressed. The number of Covid-19 cases in his hospital had put the staff under so much pressure. Plus all the deaths. He had changed. How could he not? She needed to be more understanding. She needed to find better ways he could let off steam. She had tried. It was difficult to think of ways all by herself. But whom could she ask? It was just voice raised in temper, irritability and a couple of broken plates so far. Nothing drastic. She had tried. But, oh, she was so tired as well.

He mocked her. Just a few Zoom calls or Google Meets and housework. Try doing his job. She agreed. But how she yearned to escape. To go out for a movie. To let loose with friends over some food and drinks. To even go to his parents' house. Just anything. But yes, he had it tougher. How could she complain? 

She peeled the vegetables. She answered the sales queries. She bit her lip as another executive took the turn. She wondered how long this lockdown would last for and if she would ever be able to be the person she used to be. If there could be spring in her footsteps, a buoyancy in her smile and a sparkle in her eyes even if brought about by makeup. Even if it was all for performance for others. Even if. For that had been what had made her get up. Now that motive was gone. Why did she get up, she wondered. Why should she, she pondered. Maybe tomorrow I won't, she considered. No, tomorrow she wouldn't, she decided.

But was it her decision to make? Her husband shook her up and asked for breakfast. When it was not ready on time, a slap awaited her. Some more words. She could make no sense of them. But she nodded. She then, as usual, switched on her laptop, hooked on her headset and made the calls. 

Habits were funny things. They often times overrode decisions one had made.

- Written on 26 April 2021.
- Covid-19 has made me listen so often at the other end od the phone, feeling helpless against the anguish pouring out through the speaker. Not even a hug can be given. Never realised how comforting it is to comfort. This is just my imagination, but the inspiration is sadly all too real in not the events, but the double burden borne by so many women. 

April 2021

April is here - A new season
The arrival of Spring, harken!
Many partings 
For new beginnings. 
The old still lingering
As scents, as strengths supporting
The new await to welcome
As bursts of joy, of colour, as friends bosom. 
Partings are not endings
As they lend hope and strength for fresh beginnings.
To those who left us wonderful memories
Thank you. And fare well in your new journeys. 

We are ever there to egg you on
We are ever there to rely on.

- Written on 4 April 2021. 
- Many exits in my workplace and updates of more such on LinkedIn and Facebook. Sad times can also be happy. Trying to focus on the positive. 

Happy Holi - 2021

Throw colours merrily
Revel in the camaraderie
Enemies, strangers, friends, family
Can you identify them distinctly?

Clothes, skin, hair, nothing is different
Colours have seeped our pores even
Colours show us our superficiality
Why bother with trifles? Ware all one, essentially.

It may take days to wash the colours away
But I hope the feeling of oneness remains
Till next year when we meet again
In ourselves and each other renew our faith.

Play with colours or do not
But these human bonds we to celebrate ought.

Happy Holi!

- Written on 29 March 2021. 
- Self Explanatory. 


Friends

Friends, it is difficult to define them
They come in all forms, through all means
But essentially, they make you feel at ease. 

You take from them, you may give them
But this isn't an account to tally
The giving, the receiving all makes one be at peace. 

The time spent on chatting may seem a waste
But the minutes are precious, most heartening
They bolster a spirit weakening, deadening. 

It takes will and strength to get up and meet
It feels Hereculean and yet the rewards outshine easily
Just together being, of seeing, of breathing, makes one so happy.

- Written on 24 February 2021
- A friend, PS, took me out. We talked. We drank some form of iced tea. We talked. We drove back. Precious. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Legacy: The Beginning of a New Start

10:49 PM, a strange number to haunt
But through a disturbed night this does taunt. 

I cannot imagine being in that room
Alone with warriors trying to wade off doom.

Yet is it? Or is it blessed release? 
The relentless pain for her now ceased. 

The soul, the breath, the life of a person dear
Leaves; Now just body as a shell we can see clear.

The cremation is more a ritual for those living
Something to do in the process of grieving.

Each has a unique take on what it must be
But what matters is not the mores of society.

She was loved. She will be missed. 
She will in memories and actions and beliefs onward live. 

That is a legacy enough. That is the important stuff. 
Bathing. Burning. Fasting. Feasting. Coping with emotions rough,

What comforts her loved ones is all she will want.
That is the goal. This is the beginning of a new start.

- Written on 14 January 2021 night/15 January 2021 Morning.
- A bereavement in the family on 13 Jan 2021. 
10:49 PM was the time on the sheet and it has stuck in my head and dreams. Hmm. 

Happy Birthday Sanju Saumi!

The twins: unique, distinct from each other
Yet so bonded, their names we ever say together.

The two scholars, one an Engineer, the other a Doctor
The ultimate of a South Indian family's Dream Achievers

Never stopped there and flew to higher places
Managing more responsibilities as if they were natural phases.

Never bemoaning, 
Through busy schedules still connecting

The twins, friends through all the times
I am so proud to have been a part of our childhood crimes.

The twins: loving, affectionate, tolerant (more so now)
Still wonder, still learn, still grow, still humble through all this and more.

To you two achievers, I say this today,
Sanju and Saumi, Happy Birthday!

Wish you all that makes you happy
Always Blessed Be.

- Written on 2 Jan 2020.
- Wishes to the first Twins I know. Faridabad Overachievers. 

Kickback, Relax

Dreams deferred, money a common thread
Productivity or the lack of is over what we fret. 

Am not trying to be Pollyanna, but folks have a heart
Hope wins nothing much, but does it does not hurt to with it start.

All of us are tired, I so agree
To kickback and just read would be a treat. 

So let's make it happen, let's not worry
About making it perfect, let it be messy. 

A book club or a film one or both or more or none
We can carve time and let our stress be undone.

Midweek blues, Midweek yearning
For that time, some time for just lazing. 

Wish you that and more
Sleep well, leave aside those chores.

- Written on 13 January 2021.
- In a class group (TISS Language Education 1n2) in response to discussions there by the students. 

Friday, January 01, 2021

Happy New Year! Happy 2021!

Happy New Year! 

I write long, rambling odes this time of the year.

Presenting the gist - the Last three lines that are the crux.

Among years I hope 2021 has in abundance golden days.
Peace, Cheer, Reason the world over, I wish for
Oh Yes! Also Vaccines, Health and Equity for all. 😊

Have a Great 2021! 
__________________________________________________
For the more kind and merciful and patient among you here is the longer one. Read at your own risk.
Yes I know I have left out many many things good and bad, but here goes. 

___________________________________________________
This year was confounding,
My annual litany may be too.
My feelings I am just expressing
As to 2020 we bid adieu.

Parasite won the Oscars, a delight. 
Brexit became official, no one knew their plight. 
Harry and Meghan exited the Royal House, 
The world seemed to not know to cheer or to grouse.

India began 2020 with ongoing protests. 
Selective inclusion led to much unrest. 
And then we proved no matter the party, 
With curfews anew, we practiced unity. 

Yes, we played the blame game
Yes, stupidity and racism did hold sway
But largely the heart was in the right place
Difficult decisions through a pandemic we faced. 

And yet the class barriers stayed
The rich became richer, the poor more displaced
The migrant walk who can forget
We talked CAA, but our own on their own we left. 

Now the Farmers' Protest is underway, 
Again capitalism tries to persuade. 
Is a ‘free’ market worth all the clauses
Are we counting gains where there are losses? 

Be it Amphan or the Australian bushfire
Multiple events showed how close we are to the wire. 
As viruses respected no borders,
In the lockdown, nature showed her wonders. 

As we stayed in, Nature took her rightful place
But soon we again succumbed to pollution's haze
One thing we seem to need to learn still
We can change if only we will. 

Economy is not that difficult to manage
 We can make do with less when lives are at stake 
But while a small virus holds us in thrall
To combat Climate Change we still stall. 

The educated and the rich are a dangerous combination
Their privileges to sustain seems their ambition. 
And yet world over protests proved 
When it matters, to action we are moved. 

Statues came down, streets flooded
Governments were petitioned and largely heeded
Black Lives Matter, a global movement
But Dalit lives from this drive are still far removed. 

Suicides and Sushant and Nepotism and Drugs
We latched on to events and merrily gave up
We lost Rishi Kapoor, Irfan Khan and Chadwick Boseman to cancer. 
But the Selfish Gene maybe our worst danger.

Yet, religion bowed to science and shut its doors
Politics cast aside; For God's sake the Middle East had peace goals.
Yes Indo-China tensions are on the rise
Tempers are monitored; we know there is a price. 

We live and breathe alternate realities
Social Dilemma showed us but we refused to believe
Truths are a matter of perspective even if they be fantasies
Fact checking we leave to for-profit companies.

Struck gold this year, did Prime and Netflix
1992 was strangely a delight to revisit,
Online we lived, creating more microcosms
We cared not for the widening chasms.

We want what we want now
To success and work and money we bow
Yet some of us have worked to serve
Some of us have honed our selves.

Sonu Sood inspired, Jacinda Arden too,
The essential workers: doctors, nurses, sweepers.
Perhaps now our workers we will better value
As white collar was superseded by the blue.

Maybe the future protagonist will be the BMC sweeper, 
The overworked, underpaid Covid-19 survey administering teacher
May be the nurse wielding the swab or the vaccine
May be the transport worker ensuring our ease.

May be the delivery personnel. May be the local grocer.
As we locked in we learnt who provided what better. 
So to 2021, I proceed with hope and gratitude. 
I hope with reason and justice we will cease to feud. 

I know there will always be some who will stay in the fair lanes, 
Among years I hope 2021 has in abundance golden days.
Peace, Cheer, Reason the world over, I wish for
Oh Yes! Also Vaccines, Health and Equity for all. 😊 

Happy New Year!
Have a Wonderful 2021.

- Written on 31 Dec 2020/1 Jan 2021.
- Obviously. 
- Context and References GOOGLE please. 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Painting-Poesy 14 - Happy Diwali 2020

Like a long long 'ladi', news keeps bursting. 
Like the 'chakra', our heads keep spinning.
 



As the black snakes did to surfaces,
Our souls feel like deadened empty crevices.
Like a rocket launch gone wrong
We are victims of viruses strong.

But Diwali is not about crackers
Or even sweets or such markers.
The festival of lights heralds 
Truth's triumph over ignorance and the dark. 

From the great churning of the ocean came Lakshmi
So too maybe this chaos will lead to some yet unknown prosperity. 
Maybe climate change taken seriously 
Maybe values instead of economy given priority. 
Maybe with family and friends a rediscovering of humanity
Maybe love, hope, peace, a restoring of sanity. 

Diwali, the night of the new moon, 
From nothing births a fresh cycle soon. 
Diwali, a dark night, the darkest of all, 
Welcomed to teach us anew evil's fall. 

Wish Everyone a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous Diwali! 
May we share abundance, may we give plenty, 
May we celebrate equal opportunity, 
May we shine with and for compassion and liberty. 

Happy Diwali 2020!




- Written on 13 November 2020.
- Painted on 13 November 2020.
- Covid-19  and the ban on firecrackers (so very welcome) in India and the many many pieces of news that have affected us this year inspired this piece. 


Happy Birthday Karthik! 2020

Your chuckles brighten my day
Your zingers in my mind ever replay
On so many a topic, your unique take
Makes me rethink, reexamine, all that's at stake.

Your aspirations teach me to aim higher
Your quest for right makes me try better
You awe me with your focus, your kindness
Your refusal to ever settle for mundaneness.

Your dreams, your goals, I hope I can help achieve,
With you I grow and in a better tomorrow believe.

Happy Birthday, Karthik!

- Written on 13 November 2020 
- Self-explanatory 

The Blue Collar in the Hospital

Each time I am in a hospital, I am in awe
Of the dedication, commitment, of the passion raw.

The challenges of Covid-19 fought against daily,
No compromise on the treatment's quality.

The nurses have families, the ward boys too,
Some have stories of being in their buildings' taboo.

Yet they come, show concern
How can we with shame not burn?

What help we lend them, these warriors brave?
Each day they help avert dangers grave.

Checking, wiping, sweeping, mopping
Every newcomer tirelessly advising.

Protocols imposing, even as there is grumbling,
Persistently repeating, frustration sometimes revealing.

These are warriors, often cast aside,
Of the Doctors alone worship we abide.

But these sheet and dressing changers,
These rules implementers,
These frontline workers,
These are ours and the doctor's saviours.

So the next class on values and aspirations,
Should encourage participation in these vocations.

For what are we without the nurse and farmer and the sweeper?
What military, what white collar could without these prosper?

- Written on 12 Nov 2020.
- Was in hospital since an aunt had been hospitalised.