Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Shelf-life 30+?

Men and the antics they go through to have a head of crowning glory, namely hair is an amusing preoccupation to observe. The hair-factor logic is all skewered when it comes to what they desire. Where it grows in abundance, like on their chest and the legs, they will wax it wanting the bald-babies-bottom look for open shirted machoism. And where they  are truly bald, they do comb overs, weaves, extensions, transplants....the works....ending up with Sunny Deol type dead-dog mop hair styles!

Good old Saurav Ganguly had no idea why the stadium was erupting with pandemonium at a recent IPL match when he was playing. Minus his cap he was racing around like a raving lunatic looking like a lab experiment on steroids that had gone terribly wrong! With one side of his hair standing perpendicular to his head, and the other side in varying lengths bobbing about like a Mexican wave with no rhythm; the crowd just got the jeepers-creepers and felt terribly embarrassed for this ageing hero of cricket! The cameras kept giving us eagle eyed shots of his scalp that looked like Frankenstein's head out on a stroll! What an indignity! At home I sat transfixed wondering why no team mate made any effort to get his messy head covered quickly. Finally a colleague came to his rescue with a cap! I think there is nothing more dignified than the acceptance of the natural state of one's body and  embracing  change with a positive attitude  that allows you to be comfortable with age.

Goldie Hawn, on an episode of the Graham Norton show, genuinely looked scary. A caricature of her former self, she kept flouncing her hair and pouting her cosmetically reconstructed lips fish lips in the attempt to look young and sexy! In comparison a Meryl Streep looks enticingly beautiful as she grows older. 

It isn't that vanity doesn't tempt one into fantasies of radical alterations to one's body. But the delight of a fantasy is that it is a wakeful state of dreaming, that allows one to be self-indulgent, and have out of character  episodes in the secret spaces of ones mind. Acting them out however is what becomes the stupid quotient and leads to the lunacy of people believing in myths. 

Celebrities who are constantly under public scrutiny must find it difficult to be themselves. Yet those who have attempted to remain more realistic about how the progress of time alters their physical appearance, lend elegance to the spotlight their receive, like Waheeda Rehman and Gulzar. 

I am always fearful  of putting chemicals on ones hair for protracted periods of time. Peroxides in hair colour and other such chemicals in these products have a slow but detrimental effect over the years. Pigmentation discolouration is a common side effect of frequent users. But then common sense and vanity don't always go together unfortunately. The excessive desire to look air-brush perfect in real life attributes for many to attempt to defy their natural ageing process. Cosmetic surgeries become their life saving priority to feed their feel good needs that most often roller coaster out of control.

I look in the mirror each morning and see myself growing older. I too have many a fantasy that wishes away the truth of my aging body......but with one eye on the clock to get myself into my studio on time, and the other eye on the multitude of things stacked up in my daily routine of living, these fantasies disappear before I can revel in them with self indulgent whimsy! All too soon my day seems over and as I catch a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror way past the witches hours of decency; I am really too doggone tired to bother about air- brush ideals of perfection! 

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Bubble gum promises yet again....

Promises of change during election campaigns are perhaps what erotic fantasies are like. They remain unreal and nobody talks about them openly after the act of seduction is over! I keep believing I am past the stage of anything shocking me anymore and then wham I'm knocked down in sheer amazement at the audaciousness of political stupidity all over again! This time it is Mamta Banerjee who has me with my jaw  dropped down in hell!  What is this lady all about! Does "didi" not have a clue about leadership and governance ? Suheil Seth quite aptly pointed out that perhaps she hasn't completely understood that she is not the leader of the opposition any longer, and should start governing her state as it's chief minister now! As for Derek O'Brien.....curly hair and all, he should comprehend that the violence his "didi" is orchestrating on the streets of Kolkata is for real, and not a street theatre production that will get a polite round of applause at the end of it from the citizens. However  I would certainly say that Mamta thy name  is Drama, without a doubt!

You also merely have to look at Mamta's face to realize that compassion and humaneness do not really sit as the mantle of wisdom on her scruffy white-saried shoulders. Lynch men and goons parade as party workers, and autocratic leftist practises are continued without apology by the Trinamol Congress party, so where does an electoral change evidence itself in all this. However as part of the Comedy Club that indian politics has become, what I find comically funny to watch is the "politicians walk"! Especially practiced by woman politicians,  it is a style that incorporates striding and power walking along with swinging your head from left to right to involve talking to your chamcha brigade that scuttles along with you. The surrounding fat men who form the supplicating entourage must all be sweaty, jiggly and skippy (generation Y takes on a new meaning!), to keep pace with "the leader" of the pack! These days Mamta dearest does this walking act proud! Maybe she feels that in doing this alone qualifies her to be the CM of West Bengal!

As India turns more medieval with horrendous atrocities continuously heaped on helpless female infants, we have the flip side where women in power like Mamta and Mayawati  make us hang our heads in shame with their violent and twisted ways. Can't we ever get it right? 

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Capability versus opportunity....

In conversation with the students and artists working within the Collective Studio I recently discussed the difference between capability and opportunity. Perhaps it is because I hear too much being made of the limitations that people desire to focus upon within themselves, and in the process disregard the opportunities that are within their grasp, that I thought it prudent that we examine what this difference is.  It may well require great effort and endeavour to utilise an opportunity, but this is precisely what challenges personal capabilities and raises the levels of our competence and enhances our performance. 

I still come from the old school of thought that chooses to view my life through the context of my existence, and to acknowledge the privilege of opportunities that have provided me a space to grow in every aspect of my life. I was not special at all in any way whatsoever. Yet opportunities recognised and used well have offered me the the scope to hone my abilities over the years and to push myself to learn and grow through  exposure and circumstance; to cultivate methodologies that accommodate time management so that I can maximise and multi-task efficiently.

The body is like all machines. It breaks down and creaks and protests in various places at all times; never being "perfect" as time proceeds, and with age thumbing it's nose in ones face to boot! I have long ago stopped letting my body dictate to my mind. I married my spirit to my mind at the early age of eighteen and thankfully this relationship remains as solid as ever!! When my body protests at times,  my mind treats it like a pesky kid and shuts it up!!!  So at fifty-three I can out do most on the gruelling schedules I maintain, and what this offers me is  the knowledge that I am utilising effectively both my capabilities and opportunities equally. The disciple of such a way of living has resulted in time holding great value.

Today we encourage our adopted granddaughter Aditi to be as holistic as possible. To not look at age alone as determining her abilities but to understand what she wishes to achieve and to take the required steps towards acquiring and honing her capabilities. As a result she uses every opportunity and recognises the rewards of such an approach. If only we had more children growing up with such an understanding, there would perhaps be a greater sense of fulfilment and achievement that individuals would feel in relation to their personal worlds of existence.

Friday, 6 April 2012

To Paradise and back!

I have been away from my blog longer than I intended. An amazing holiday in Thailand and Vietnam left me with a back log of work. Burning the midnight oil I am still with self imposed deadlines that keeps the work where it needs to be going but has my sleeping at normal hours still a distant dream!

I was visiting Thailand after thirty-something years. On that occasion I was only a few days in Bangkok, and my memories are of a polluted and chaotic city with far too many two wheelers and traffic jams! The Bangkok of today however stands in sharp contrast to that memory, and the city can teach us a thing or two about urban planning and development. Bangkok has and become a city of flyovers and well orchestrated traffic that makes travelling long distances very easy.  The most striking fact of this tourist destination is that it is CLEAN in capital letters!  Considering it is also a street-foodies paradise, there  appears to be a very efficient system that is maintained by the local people where no littering occurs, and the garbage disposal is well coordinated.

However  the sex trade remains very close to the surface at all times. As a feminist this made me question what the ideas of female representation are within a society that is allowing so blatantly for prostitution to be part of the agenda of attracting foreign tourism. I also found that the myth of it being a shoppers haven was not lived up to. I discovered the Thai traders to be very aggressive and rude. Loud and in your face, they lack basic  courtesy and treat Indians with discrimination, despite the courtesy I extended from my side as a client.  My experiences at the malls recommended by local people was disappointing and sometimes quite unpleasant.

But what was a delighted were the many cultural sites that we visited. Ayutthaya was also a day trip destination that lived up to its expectations, and despite the heat and humidity was transfixing in its historical grandeur. However the greatest visual treat was going to the Parliament house, where there is  an extraordinary permanent display of artifacts, that has been commissioned to commemorate the various special occasions within their monarchy's history. Mind blowing, these works employ the local crafts people and are done to keep the traditional craft practises alive. A project initiated and monitored by the Queen, each piece is exquisite. It is world class museum quality artifacts that I would strongly recommend as a "must see" to any visitor going to Bangkok.  

Staying at the Banyan tree hotel was a beautiful experience. Lying under the stars at their roof top bar on a huge circular seating was a moment of decadence to last me a life time! I had a foot massage to sample the legends I had head about the massage culture of Thailand. It put to shame any other endeavour that had passed off as one before. 

Vietnam, the second destination on our trip,  is a country where the people are genuinely respectful to all tourists. A much less visited destination, this country like Cambodia, is yet to become spoilt by the typical touristy  nonsense that one sometimes encounters elsewhere. Hanoi with it's winding streets and old quarter is quaint and endearing. It has hints of an old "Indian colonial" flavor that is reminiscent of  our cantonment   areas. Life spills out onto the streets. The Hocchi men mausoleum had too long a queue that wound around like a giant serpent. Disrespectful as it may sound, none of us felt that inclined to wait hours to see a dead man's body on display!

Perhaps the highlight of this trip was being on a luxury yacht that was hired only for the five of us.  It was magical, and though I left behind my newly acquired paper parasol that I had great plans on flaunting in the Baroda heat, nothing can detract from the memories of this place. The chef who was this beautiful young girl made the best sea platter I have ever had in my entire life. The five of us indulged in the desires of our palates and stomachs rather like old roman soldiers out on a binge! The extra baggage was not in our bags but as personal luggage as a result!!!!

I have many other stories from these seven days. But like good wine, even memories need to percolate and stay for a while before being shared. I am off to Amsterdam in June and already my excitement is building up!!!