Thursday, May 24, 2007

And I could write it down
And spread it all around
Get lost and then get found
or swallowed in the sea

And I could write a song
A hundred miles long
Well that's where I belong
And you belong with me
Not swallowed in the sea

You belong with me
Not swallowed in the sea

Friday, May 11, 2007


con·tre·temps (kŏn'trə-täɴ', kôɴ'trə-täɴ') n. pl. contretemps (-täɴz', -täɴz') An unforeseen event that disrupts the normal course of things; an inopportune occurrence.

In medieval times, when a person brought ill-luck to someone else, or brought it upon themselves often enough, they were considered to be a witch or a heretic, and burnt at the stake. Mostly women, they were considered to practice black magic and were called Sorceresses. If they weren't burnt at the stake, at the very least, they were outcasts. They were ignored, secluded and alone.

In today's times, witchcraft is mostly not believed in, and heresy and burning women at the stake is considered to be a heinous crime. And no one believes that someone who's been through a lot of bad luck is a witch. Heheh.

But I think the stigma that existed back then which made witches ignored, secluded and alone was just a more medieval way of not going through the trouble of dealing with such a person. Today too, people don't want to deal with people like that. And oddly enough, I am one of those people today.

No, I don't feel like a witch. And no, I'm not depressed or upset or wallowing in self-pity. I'm in pretty high spirits, given the circumstances. I'm just making an observation.

I find myself asking someone for help but feeling guilty about it. I walked up and down 3 flights of stairs 6 times this morning, to do my laundry. I asked one of my flatmates if they could help me. They said yes, but when they didn't call me when they were ready to do it, I just went and did it myself. It took me 2 hours and 45 minutes. Something that usually takes only an hour and a half.

I needed to know if I was going to be able to take the lift upto the 5th floor at LIPA since it's been out of order for the last week, and on tuesday I had to painfully hobble up and down the 5 flights of stairs. I asked my teachers, I asked the dance office, I asked my classmates. No one responded. So I stayed home and missed another day of college.

I'm feeling like I'm making too much out of this knee. Maybe I am. Maybe it's not a big deal that I split it open and needed 7 stitches after losing about a litre of blood. Well, no. I'm not feeling like I'm making a big deal of it. I'm hobbling around on my own, going out, cooking my own food, doing my own laundry, going to the doctors on my own...the day after it happened though, a friend of mine wanted me to come to the cinema. I said I couldn't walk. She said "oh!take a taxi" so matter-of-factly(bless her, maybe she hadn't seen the state of me, that's why) that I actually felt like I was making too much of a big deal out of it by not wanting to do that. I was in so much pain I couldn't walk without either tears streaming down my face, or at the very least, wincing so much that no one at home let me move! How would I have sat in the cinema hall with no leg room? What if someone had bumped into my knee in the dark? Am I being paranoid?!?!

Don't get me wrong. No one's doing any injustice to me. My friends here have been fantastic. They've looked after me. Well, at least Rich and my flatmates have. Rich was with me during the whole ordeal, he changed my dressing the other day, cleaned my wound and bandaged me up (because the NHS refused to make a house visit, despite the fact that I couldn't walk). Emma wiped the blood off my feet because I couldn't reach it. Hannah cooked me prawn curry, and Emma cooked me pasta. Mike and Rob have been helping me to sit by lifting my leg up for me and putting it on a stool with a pillow under it. They've been great.

So, I don't know what's wrong with me.

Maybe it's all this contretemps -

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Another Narrow Escape

I'm sitting here with my leg propped up on top of a pillow, a knee the size of Sri Lanka and in a lot of pain. On saturday night, I fell onto shards of broken glass and split my knee open. Yummy, I know. I was rushed to hospital in the wee hours of the morning in an ambulance and after opening up my knee to see that there was no bits of glass in it, after an x ray and after a series of questions, I was given 7 stitches and sent home.

Rich was with me through this ordeal and I don't know how I'll ever thank him enough. He sat with me in the ambulance, while paramedics made sure I had no bone or nerve damage. He was by my side when I was on the stretcher in hospital and he squeezed my hand back as I crushed his, while I felt the nauseating sensation of needle and thread pulling at my knee. He brought me home in a taxi, consoled me as I cried like a fool (I'm very squeamish about blood and needles), carried me upto the third floor and tucked me into bed.

Three days later, I'm still in agonising pain. But I keep thinking to myself, even though I've been pretty unlucky these past few months, I've had two narrow escapes which I should be thankful for. The escape bit, that is, not the narrow bit. Heh.

Knees are so vital. When you stand, or walk...your whole body weight is on them. There are tissues, tendons, ligaments, bones, cartilage and fluid in it. I thankfully damaged only a bit of tissue and flesh. The cut is about 6 centimetres wide, across my knee and quite deep. It's higly uncomfortable and a very awkward place to get hurt, but at least there's no tendon damage, at least there wasn't any glass lodged in my knee and at least, I will walk away from this in a few weeks, reasonably unscathed.

These past few days, I've also been wondering..why is the cosmos at war with me this year?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Poisonous Snakes

Here I am again, talking about the poisons of fanatacism and fundamentalism..You must be wondering how I can go on and on talking about it, without ever tiring of it, giving in, or resigning myself to the fact that fundamentalism, hatred and communal friction are a part of today's reality.

Well, here I am again, anyway. I will never stop talking about it, and I'll never stop criticising it. It's the very least I can do.

Many friends and family have come under attack from fundamentalists in India because of their liberal thoughts. I, myself, have fought with accquaintances and peers, over communalism in India, the Gujarat riots, the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Bombay riots and blasts that followed etc etc. I am nobody. So when I get into arguments and even outrightly fight and shout till the point of tears over issues like this, it doesn't become a big deal. Because, thankfully, I'm just Aranyani.

But people like Shabana Azmi are in the news over this all the time, my father has been in the news over this, and now it's my Guru, Leela Samson.

I came across something in the news online about her, and followed it up, and found myself on the website of the Organiser, the RSS online website.

Before I say anything further, my Guru has dedicated her entire life to Bharatanatyam, which I would see as an Indian art form, but which many do also see as a Hindu art form. She's not a hindu. She's half Christian and half Jewish. But she's definitely Indian - she's from Tamil Nadu and Kerela. But for me, she's the best kind of Hindu you could be. She doesn't perpetrate violence against other religions, or insist on being superior because of a stupid sacred thread. She tells, through her dance and her magical expressions, of hindu gods and goddesses, of hindu myths and stories. She respects and even celebrates the Hindu festivals, as well as Muslim ones and Christian ones. She's a Hindu and a non-Hindu in the best way. She's modern and open minded but in tune with tradition. She's a wonderful teacher and an extremely beautiful and talented dancer.

On this online so-called "news"letter, she has been accused of being "anti-hindu". Now I don't know what the entire story is behind all this nonsense, because I'm still far far away, in Liverpool, safely tucked away from the poisonous snakes that are these fundamentalists. But she's not "anti-hindu". She's secular, she's modern, she's multicultural and pluralistic. And these narrowminded conservatives can't handle that. The fact that she's not a Hindu by birth just makes it easier for them to lash out at her.

She has been accused of stopping prayers at Kalakshetra, her own Guru's institute in which Leela akka herself grew up and which she is rightfully the director of now. If this is true, I know she did it for secular reasons. Not to further some Christian conversion propaganda like these RSS freaks think!

She has been accused of dissing idol worship. That's not anti-hindu either. Many sects of hindus themselves don't agree with idol worship, and idol worship is relatively new to Hinduism, given its ancient history.

She's been quoted as saying "The festival is on Hinduism, so you need not go there." about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's festival. Errrm...right. First of all, I've known my Guru for 16 years, and these people don't know her at all. I can safely say, and you can chop off my left thumb (Bear in mind - I'm left handed!!!) if I am wrong, that she has been misunderstood and misquoted. And secondly, who the hell made Sri Sri Ravi Shankar the epitome of high hindu culture?!

She is also termed as anti-hindu for removing the clothes off the idols in the Kalakshetra campus. Anti-hindu? She's just being an accurate historian by doing that! Hindu gods and goddesses didn't wear clothes!! They walked around adorned in jewellery and flowers, mostly. Temples of Hampi, Belur, Halibedu, Khajuraho, and the temples in Orissa are some of the few places in India which testify to this naked truth about our divine gods and goddesses. Perhaps these ancient temples are considered to be anti-hindu too, and vulgar.

Speaking of vulgar, Leela akka's rendition of the Geetha Govindam is considered to be vulgar by 'the Organiser'. Well, she's only expressing what the poetry says. So they're basically calling Jayadeva a crude and vulgar poet.

Leela akka has a gift to express love, sexuality, pain, fear, hurt, longing, devotion in very real ways without making it "lokadharmi"(Lokadharmi is realistic and literal, as opposed to stylised also called Natyadharmi by some). When you watch her, you can't help but really feel what she's expressing. In my opinion, these fundamentalists are sexually and emotionally repressed and can't handle the reality and intensity of these real emotions that akka has the natural gift of so beautifully portraying.

She's been accused of attempting to demolish a temple in Kalakshetra. Again, I don't know the story. But I know akka. She would never "demolish" a temple. Apparently, she has commented that she is merely restoring the roof but the person who she allegedly spoke to, then went on to say that she is a christian and therefore a liar. Such people make me so angry! No wonder our country isn't progressing forward. It's got, pigs are intelligent animals..its got monsters like these people, in it!

And they're making a big deal out of akka's relaxation of rules for boys' and girls' hostels. This made me laugh. Trust akka to do this! I think it's great, though! More open-mindedness!

I think the people who wrote this article seem to have deliberately overlooked the fact that Kalakshetra is an institution that started to promote music and dance, not hinduism. They also overlooked the fact that it was started my Rukmini Devi Arundale, herself a woman who 'broke' tradition by bringing the dance form out of the temples. Moreover, they ignored the fact that Leela akka is one of Rukmini Devi's prime shishyas, knew her well, and was with her, looking after her, throughout her life right upto her death. I think she'd know better than these ignorant fools, how her own 'Attai' would've wanted Kalakshetra to develop, flourish and evolve with the times, in the 21st century.

Here's the full article in the Organiser
or Here's another link to the same article

There are some bits in it that are so petty that I didn't think were even worth mentioning, but have a look at the article.

This article, in another website was met with comments like - Kill Leela Samson.

Please tell me that it's ok for my blood to boil over this!

Or tell me that I'm just plain nuts.