Friday, October 30, 2009

Baby sometimes love just ain't enough

There's a reason why people don't stay where they are.
Baby, sometimes love just ain't enough.
There's a reason why people don't stay who they are.
Baby, sometimes love just ain't enough.

This song was immensely popular back in the early 90s, in fact I think it was '92, when I was in Class 9. There was no Internet from where you could immediately get the lyrics, and somebody would get the lyrics from somewhere and bring it to school and everybody else would copy it down. And of course we would copy the lyrics ourselves sometimes - play, pause, write down lyrics, rewind, play again, check the lyrics, go to next line and repeat the same process. There would be a few words/sentences which we couldn't get at all, and second, third and fourth opinions would be taken. I am one of those twisted people who couldn't ennjoy a song unless I knew all the lyrics, or at least most of it. I have compiled numerous songbooks, all of which are lost forever now. Even in this day and age I still copy down lyrics, I know I could get it instantly from the Internet but there is a certain pleasure, a certain thrill, a peculiar sense of winning in listening to a song and writing down the lyrics perfectly.
Coming back to this song "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough", a duet by Patty Smyth and Don Henley, I used to find the lyrics very strange, especially the few lines I mentioned up there. "There's a reason why people don't stay where they are" - is that a big deal? I used to think. They wanted to move, so they moved, end of story. I actually thought the song was talking about people physically moving, as in moving house. I never knew it was about moving on in a relationship. And I thought, why isn't love enough for people to live in one house, where's the connection here? Funny if you look at it that way.
"There's a reason why people don't stay who they are". I thought this was a spelling mistake. I'd ask myself if it wouldn't rather be "..people don't stay where they are?" It never dawned on me that it was about people changing with the passage of time, about people turning out to be someone completely different. And all these years I lived with that misconception.
I listened to this song again recently and didn't give it much thought. Until last night. I was travelling home and listening to it and suddenly it struck me. Why, it's about two people who love each other but cannot make their relationship work. Maybe they discovered that the other person is not who they thought he/she was, and maybe they just couldn't cope with the changes. Maybe they thought that being in love would make everything all right, somewhat like a magic pill that cures all your illnesses in one swallow. And maybe that once the scales fell from their eyes and they discovered the true person who they are with, they couldn't handle the situation and they ran.
Well, I guess love just ain't enough to make things work. You've got to have acceptance, forgiveness, understanding, and trust.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Doing it differently

If you know me personally or only remotely, if you are a friend or foe, or someone I admire or detest, I think you might have the vague idea that I am not at all fond of winter. And I haven't exactly been quiet about it. I have spent numerous winters complaining about the cold and what it does to me. Words of praise rarely flow from my lips when the subject turns to winter. As much as I like the crisp mornings and clear breeze I will always be the glass-is-half-empty kind of person when it comes to this cold unforgiving season.

October is almost over as I write this, and the weather is gradually going downhill. But this year I am doing things differently. I am not going to grumble and whine about the cold. I will not write about how much I hate the cold mornings. You will not hear me complain about how my skin has become dry and brittle, how my hair clings to the comb, how my lips are continually in need of a lip balm and how my purchase of moisturisers and cold creams and oils has dramatically increased. You can rest assured that I will not bore you with tales of wardrobe emergencies, about how I hate wearing warm clothes and swathing myself with layers of clothing. I don't find it necessary to shout to the world about the irony of having to take hot baths because of the cold and about your skin drying up afterwards. I'm sure you are not interested in hearing how the whole world comes alive with static electricity and touching anything remotely metal gives you a mild electric shock. And regarding cold nights, I will not even come close to the subject. Nobody wants to listen to the same old story of creeping into cold beds late at night and trying to keep warm all by yourself. And going home to Mizoram and spending a freezing winter there is something I don't even want to think about.

Don't you worry, my dears, I am not going to tell winter tales. If you really want to know my opinion of winter and its shenanigans, here is something I wrote last winter To Winter and one more the year before here

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Theory of Relativity

According to Wikipedia - “Six degrees of separation (also referred to as the "Human Web") refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth.”

Think back to the times before the Internet and social networking, do you think this would have been possible? Would a mere six steps connect you and a person in say, Siberia or Cuba? I am a very skeptical person and if truth be told I don’t exactly believe this is possible.  Of course in this day and age we know a mere click of the mouse can connect us to anyone anywhere in the world, but again I’m talking about the pre-information-revolution days.

But the Mizo community is a whole different story. Or in that case any small community like ours. Everybody knows everybody else. And their relatives. And their family history. And their pet peeves and likes and dislikes. Forget about six degrees of separation, two degrees will do! Pick any two Mizos and the scales wilt tilt in the favour of their having known someone in common. And in some cases they would be related somehow or through by marriage. Take you for instance, dear reader, if you are a Mizo, how do you know you and I are not related, and if we really sit down to talk I bet we will discover that we know a whole lot of people in common.

A popular subject between two Mizo strangers when after the initial introductions are over is to talk about people they know in common.

Person 1: So where do you live in Aizawl? 
Person 2: College Veng. How about you?
Person 1: Tlangnuam.
Person 2: Do you know John? Tall, bald, lives near the church?
Person 1: Known him since childhood, in fact I was at school with his younger brother Jim.
Person 2: Jim? Did he go to St Paul’s?
Person 1: Yes, we were there from ‘91-‘93. Do you know him?
Person 2: I knew his girlfriend, Jane, you know her? From Kulikawn, went to Mount Carmel?
Person 1: Knew her very well. Jim and I used to see her after school. How did you know Jane?
Person 2: Her elder sister is my cousin’s wife.
etc etc etc….

Ours is such a small community that one has to be careful what one says and does, you never know how things may come back to you. And you have to be careful how you treat people, you never know how or when you might need their help in the future.  Many years ago I knew a guy, and after a while we went our separate ways. He dropped out of sight and out of mind. I went home this January, and one day as I was sorting through some old magazines I discovered a piece of paper addressed to my mother in which she was nominated to share the bride price of a distant relative. And no prizes for guessing who that girl was getting married to.  Talk about awkward situations.

And then there is this relative of mine who got married to a guy. Everything was well and fine, except for the small matter that she was at school with his younger sister and they weren’t exactly best buddies. The things you do for love. But that was many years ago, and things are now hunky dory between the two of them, the two girls I mean. Well at least things worked out well for them, but I’m sure this is not always the case with many other people.

So, the whole point is, be nice to others.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Genes and the Man

This morning I woke up and discovered I had turned into my ancestors. I noticed that my eyes were becoming more and more like my parents’, the way my lips formed a frown reminded me of my grandmother. I itched to cut my hair super short, like the way my mother and one of my aunts do. Something in the air sent me into a sneezing spell, I sneezed until I cried. Then I remembered that my father has the same allergy. To dust, or whatever it is that makes you sneeze.

Did you ever look in the mirror or at your photos and realize that you are turning into your parents? Or anyone from your family tree? Have you ever caught yourself acting the way your parents did? Did you ever hear yourself laughing like your crazy old uncle? Have you become nitpicky like your fussy old aunt?

Heredity is more complex than I thought.

Like it or not, we cannot escape from our genes. So your parents are not the most beautiful people, or your uncles/aunts are not the gentlest in the neighbourhood, or your grandfather was famous for his temper. And you thought you could turn into a beautiful gentle person. Hah! Easier said than done. We inherit not just our looks, but our temper, our moods, and the little things that make a person complete. The way you tilt your head. The way you walk when you are in a hurry. That booming laughter. That peculiar angle at which your elbow bends when you stand. That swinging walk.That inability to sing.

And it’s not only with looks and mannerisms. We also inherit the diseases and afflictions and ailments. Did you think that splotchy skin was because of your bad karma? Or did you blame your stressful lifestyle for that thinning hair? If you think those achy joints were because of the winter colds, you might want to rearrange your thoughts. We all have seen cases of whole families suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, a particular cancer etc. My family leans towards the high BP thing, so I have to be careful and watch what I eat.

But, I am not just a harbinger of doom.  There is always a silver lining.  Those smooth skin, those lovely eyes, those long eyelashes, those beautiful shoulders, those perfect feet – they all are handed down to you by a long line of ancestors.  Your charm, your intellect, your perfect sense of humour, your musical gift, your athletic ability, your infectious laughter, your forgiving heart, your kind soul, all the things that make you perfect, you have your ancestors to thank for. And in due course of time you too will pass those features down to future generations.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Many years back I watched an episode of “The Amazing Race” in which the participants came to India, I think it was either Kerala or Tamil Nadu. The female part of the team was amazed to see so many colours, and she said something like “Red, yellow, red, yellow, everywhere it’s red and yellow.” The Indian streets are indeed full of red and yellow, right from the yellow autorickshaws to the bright red gulmohar trees, from the red sindoor to the yellow paste on the foreheads of priests and devotees.

You must all have heard about the different properties possessed by each colour, for example blue is for calm and tranquility, red for passion, green for harmony, white for purity and so on. If you ask me what my favourite colour is I would say “Depends.” Which is pretty much my answer to everything (Who’s your favourite author? Depends. What’s your favourite food? Depends.)

When I was a child I hated pink. And orange. The only colour I remembered liking was blue. In my fifth birthday photo I wore a blue skirt (I don’t know what the material was called but it was real soft and fell in folds). Unfortunately it was a black and white photo, but I still remember that skirt vividly, its exact shade of blue and the little red flowers sprayed on it. Green and yellow fought for second place, but most of the time green had the upper hand. Reds and pinks I had a few, I can’t recall having a single black (what mother makes her daughter wear black anyway?)

In my teens I favoured brown (ugh such a drab colour, now I avoid it completely). I started wearing pink and orange in my twenties (oh God my twenties! I sound positively middle aged), and purple, ahh such a magnificent colour, no wonder royalty was such a big fan. It is now one of my favourite colours, along with new entries like gold and sea-green. I am not much of a black person, but I admire its versatility and timelessness. You can never go wrong with black. On the other hand I love white - its purity, freshness and cleanness. And yellow for the sunshine it brings, for making you feel alive and happy.