Words

What are words, but lyrics of our lives,
They sing in different tunes, of merry and of sorrow.
In tongues of a thousand sorts,
Every so often, to steal and to borrow.

To convey love, hate, anger and joy,
With our minds and hearts to toy,
To share hope for what is to come,
And tales of brawls over mugs of rum.

Words are magical, the first ones from a child,
In songs, they make our souls sway wild.
Over a spine of pages, a story to unfold,
And in a handful lines, lies a poet’s mould.

Tis the beauty of a language,
It hurts, lies, scares, deceits,
Yet heals, helps, adores, inspires.
The keeper of memories and of knowledge.

What does it mean when a language dies?
The air stands still, witnessing a loss untold,
All unwise and no one mourns, a silent demise,
The world feels a little alone, a little cold.

Growing up

Growing up in life, I have heard a lot of adages. One of the things my dad used to say whenever I demanded things, just because my friends had or did, was — “If your friends ran and jumped into a well, would you do the same?”

I wasn’t bold enough to tell my dad this but I thought — “Of course. I have intelligent friends. If they’re jumping into a well, they would surely have good reason to do so.”

I think, growing up in life does not happen overnight. But it happens so gradually that you often don’t notice and from a person who’s at the receiving end of advices, you’re one day giving advices.

But some incidents in life (like this one), some peculiarly insignificant, makes you feel that you’ve grown up a little. In a moment’s passing, you feel you’re no longer the person you were just an instant ago.

One such, inconsequential incident occurred during my school days. While young, we were taught to be respectful to elders (sometimes to a fault) and admonished if we weren’t — so it was rather unusual to have youngsters argue or talk back.

Public buses on some routes were always full and getting a seat meant you had to hurry to be one of the first to board it. Many buses have a wider middle door with support bar in the middle that acted to split the crowd — people that alighted from the bus took one side and the ones getting on, took the other.

I remember hurrying and being the first, waiting for the door to open. When the door opened, I stepped inside and got irritated that a middle-aged man entered from the other side of the bus door blocking people from exiting. This caused mini-chaos. I turned to the man sharply and demanded why he did that. He replied saying — “So what? Everybody does it.” To which, I promptly, as if I was waiting for this moment to occur all my life, replied — “If everybody runs and jumps into a well, will you also do it?”

The person felt insulted and I realized I had done something that wasn’t expected of a person my age and froze. I quickly found an empty seat and sat. In that moment I had grown up a little. I realized I could question people when they’re wrong, irrespective of their age.

Now, after a dozen more years of growing up, I’ve realized that questioning such stupid people is of no use. Reminds me of a quote (allegedly attributed to Mark Twain) — “Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

Oh, the person from the bus did say something back to me along the lines of — “Hot blood. You’ll know better when you grow up”. I listed it down as another adage. *shrug*

The little things

Station Triangeln, Malmö

After the terrible twos, a parent can only hope that things improve. But little do we know that when they turn 3, kids become threenagers!

Threenagers are a species with unlimited energy! Unbound curiosity; always listening; attention back-holes; and fearless adventurers!

They listen to everything you say and use it in contexts unimaginable to you — causing potentially embarrassing situations. You’re surprised at the transformation from the monsters at 2, to turn into mini-lawyers at 3. This species is adept at negotiation, masters at manipulation – they know how to react to each parent based on their moods; also know whom to ask when and how so that the decision is in their favor.

They are incredibly attentive to detail and so good at picking up patterns!

The photo above is what you would see if you looked out of the train window at the Triangeln station in Malmö. The following exchange occurred between me and my 3-year-old when the train stopped here:

Me: S, do you know which station this is?

S: Yes, it is Triangeln.

Me: (surprised, because he could not recognize it before that day) That’s right! But how do you know?

S: Because there are triangles here.

Me: (searching for a triangle all over the place, gave up) I can’t find it. Where is it?

S: (pointing at the wall) There.

I travel there every day, but failed to notice the tiny triangles in the pattern on the wall! It made me realize that growing older trains us to look at the bigger picture so often that we miss looking at the little things.

ಈ ಕಾಲದ ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿ!

ದುಡ್ಡಿನ ಮದ ತಲೆಯೇರಿ,
ಅತಿಯಾಸೆಯ ಭೂತ ಬೆನ್ನೇರಿ,
ಒ೦ದು ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿ ಕೂಗಿದ,
ನಿಖಿಲ್ ಯೆಲ್ಲಿದ್ಯಪ್ಪಾ?

ರೇಶನ್ ಅಂಗಡಿಯ ಸಾಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ,
ತರಕಾರಿಯ ಮಾರುಕಟ್ಟೆಯಲ್ಲಿ,
ಒಮ್ಮೆಯೂ ಕಾಣದೆ ಜನ ಕೇಳಿದರು,
ನಿಖಿಲ್ ಯೆಲ್ಲಿದ್ಯಪ್ಪಾ?

ತಾತನ ತೊಡೆ ಹತ್ತಿ,
ಅಪ್ಪನ ಭುಜ ಏರಿ,
ಜನರ ತಲೆಮೇಲೆ ಕಾಲಿಡಲು ಬ೦ದಿರುವ,
ನಿಖಿಲ್ ಯೆಲ್ಲಿದ್ಯಪ್ಪಾ?

ಅರಹತೆ ಇಲ್ಲದ ಅಸ್ತಿತ್ವ,
ಬುದ್ಧಿ ಇಲ್ಲದ ಜ್ಞಾನಿ,
ತಾನೇ ಎದುರು ಬ೦ದಾಗ,
ಕನ್ನಡಿ ಕೇಳಿತು – “ನಿಖಿಲ್ ಯೆಲ್ಲಿದ್ಯಪ್ಪಾ?”

Nature makes the man

I have always wondered why people live in places with harsh climate – why struggle every day as if it’s a battle to be won? Having been in Sweden for a while now, has brought some perspective into that thought.

For most people, their place of birth is their home – the place where they feel most comfortable, experience a sense of freedom and a confidence of security. I miss this. How long before I can feel the same way here? I don’t know. If this is my feeling after choosing to be here, I cannot begin to imagine the plight of people who are forced to leave behind their war-torn homelands and start anew seeking asylum.

I truly believe that immigrants forced to leave their countries would happily return if social and economic safety is guaranteed, but that’s another discussion for another post.

Speaking of harsh climates, Sweden isn’t the toughest to live in. The winter was bearable – coming from an Indian, this is remarkable. However, my wife and my parents would vehemently disagree. The spring is beautiful and has brought everyone out of their homes.

Irrespective of the weather, Swedes generally have an active lifestyle. Soccer, ice hockey and skiing are the top favorites. There are people jogging at all times of the day, come rain or snow.

As a person who had never experienced temperatures below ~10°C, I couldn’t have imagined the effort that goes into keeping the roads and tracks working during the winter. Trains are still functioning, nevertheless with some delays and cancelations. I had taken a lot of things for granted.

With lesser population, manual labor is expensive the concept of DIY – do it yourself  – is the norm. People assemble their own furniture, fix almost everything themselves – from kitchens to roofs – and building an entire house isn’t a far-fetched idea. I feel like I’m inadequately equipped to be here.

I feel nature keeps people on their toes, challenging them every season to adapt and live many lives, plan better and be self-sufficient.

As a side note, I am yet to find a place which isn’t accessible by a differently-abled person. Every place has a ramp, elevator; busses are equipped with designated spots for wheelchairs. It’s so nice to know how disability doesn’t have to make a person lose access to the same life as everyone else. This is such a contrast from how pathetic things are in India. 😦

P.S.: A roller coaster ride had an elevator for persons on wheelchair! 🙂