Sunday, November 24, 2013

I am what I yam: Thank You Soldier!

I am what I yam: Thank You Soldier!: It is not with angst that I write this but with a sense of awe for random acts of kindness for soldiers by regular people. Some grateful a...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thank You Soldier!

It is not with angst that I write this but with a sense of awe for random acts of kindness for soldiers by regular people. Some grateful and thankful soul, paid for my son's (Marine) and his Staff Sergeant's lunch! So what are we thanking our soldiers for? We are thanking our soldiers for their service, a service ridden with stress, danger and uncertainty of life itself; something they have chosen to do, so that you and I could live our lives secure and safe without worry. Soldiers are the reason that prevents us from agonizing over getting killed or maimed; we still return home intact after a day's work. It's a Soldier that goes through the angst of returning from battle with one limb or none; it's them that a war chooses whether they will ever see, whether they will hear the sound of laughter, whether they will ever sleep a soundless sleep, whether they will be able to quiet those stubborn nightmares of death and destruction, whether their core or ours in the process, will remain untainted.

We thank our soldiers for fighting on our behalf, so we could sit in our kitchens and have our morning tea or coffee, so we could go to work where the maximum damage we will ever face is a pink slip; that is certainly not be a matter of life and death. On the other hand, a tiny mistake by him or others could result in one of permanent disappearance. We are thanking our soldiers because they make it possible for us to come back home most nights to our warm beds and our showers. We thank our soldiers because our brains are not fried and we do not hear black dogs of depression each day and every night. We are what we are, rarely are we what they ask us to be; not with a soldier. He has to abide by a discipline that will not allow for personal distractions; he has to stay mentally, physically and spiritually intact.

Sometimes the enemy is a concrete entity but occasionally the enemy is unknown, but a Soldier must take them down or he will drown in the battlefield. This is not what he learned in school, these not the values he grew up with. Nonetheless he will lie in ambush, crawl in ditches, trudge through forests to seek and destroy his enemy, and ours. He will not give up because he knows they will come back for him, he will be hopeful that somebody will see. This is why we thank our soldiers; they are our children, our husbands, our brothers, our grandchildren, they are humanity!

So here it is: Our heartfelt thanks to all Soldiers, their families and friends. We salute you and just want to say how proud we are of you. May our Soldiers always do the right thing and may they come back home safe. and more than that, may they come back better than they left. It is a fractured reality but that's how war is. Let's honor our Soldiers and say Thank You when we see one. It does not take much to gladden a Soldier's heart. We are indeed proud parents of a Marine, yes that is America's toughest and finest fighting force; the few who go in first and invariably are last ones to leave. Thank You Soldier! May you always be well.

The Few, the Proud, the Marines!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Watching an In-Flight Movie Without Headphones

I watched an entire movie without sound. In fact, I saw the same movie all down the aisle on many monitors hanging from the roof where once upon a time there used to be signs you can take off your seat belts and smoke away! There was so much action, so many expressions and so many dialogues, all in silent mode that I thought this was going to be an excellent experience sans sound. I hate headphones and cannot tolerate anyone or anything sitting inside my ear. I had about 2-4 hours to teach myself how to read lips, how to interpret the slightest twitch in the eye or a tiny smirk that hovered on the mouth or the tiniest glint on those ferocious claws made of steel that served as hands for the hero. In short, I was going to become a body expert or rather body language expert.

As I had no idea of the name of the movie and turbulence of the plane jarred my memory, I quickly settled into a soundless movie experience. The movie progressed and I descended into watching disconnected chunks of actions with rapidly moving mouths, lightning like quick expressions and lots of running, jumping, flying, clawing, peeling. Added to this was also the fact the movie would disappear suddenly and signs of ‘put your seat belt on’ would come on. This kind of interplay between reality and film is enough to confuse people. Consequently, I too became confounded and wondered what kind of film editing did this film present: clawman, seatbelt, heroine, seatbelt, iron monster, seatbelt, fall from balcony, seatbelt, face melting, seatbelt!

This is finally what I figured the in-flight movie was; there was an Australian hunk surrounded by plethora of Japanese actors and actresses. While the steel-claw-man got busy with scratching, scraping, poking and occasionally arranging people on the tip of his claws, Japanese actors steeped themselves in judo chops while flying on samurai ships. There was a woman who either had bad breath or deadly breath because when she blew on people, they literally dissolved into ground. A few other women appeared and disappeared silently with loads of tears and lethal glances. The movie continued silently while the plane rumbled and grumbled towards California in the most choppy manner. I suppose it was the Captain pitted against unruly elements; latter won.

In between chunks of action and disconnect, I pondered on the goodness of words and total silence. There are so many nuances that get lost because of sound. We get busy listening but forget to connect words with real meanings. Are words slowly beginning to cringe? Are we changing their meanings? Do we mean what we say and do we say what we mean? Was the realm of silence the best one discovered for man; could civilizations have made progress without language? 

Nonetheless, as the film progressed, I dozed off and of course lost all track of the story, plot, characters, scenes, script, actors etc. I believed whatever my tired brain told me and my eyes blinked in agreement. Next time, I looked up at the monitor, I saw the heroine tumbling down quite a height! Amazing, I thought she had already fallen down once. How did she mange to climb back on and tumble down again! Or maybe it was another Japanese woman. But I suppose, it was the fact that to  non-Japanese people, all Japanese looked the same and to all non-Indians, all Indians looked the same! I would never know whether the heroine committed suicide or was it pure murder, all done twice! Lawyers could figure out at leisure whether the culprit was going to be charged with manslaughter or whether the act was intentional or accidental. More drama would have played out in court if this woman had survived. Crazy defense lawyers are known to be experts in insanity cases much more than Psychiatrists. 

I settled down in my seat to relish one terrifying action after another. Just when I was oscillating between monitors, in the distant one, I saw a ferocious looking Japanese man being thrown over a balcony. I couldn’t exactly figure out what was said despite my attempts to read their lips. However, I did notice the man was naked wearing only a tie. It is entirely possible, the man with claws objected to the Japanese man wearing only a tie as suitable attire and so in disgust, just picked him with his claws and chucked him overboard. I looked up again just in time to see the admirable steel claws getting hacked off by a steel monster. In the corner of the tiny screen, there was a woman peeling her face and turning it into some gooey stuff. I can safely say that I had indeed made a wise decision for myself; watch all movies in silent mode or devoid of all sound. Forget those in-flight sale of $5 headphones; save the money for a drink of water!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pesky Online Advertisements Scroll, Spread and Stay

They are everywhere, those pesky ads that move where you move, when you move, and wait when you wait. This is the new breed of ads. Lately, ads have taken to planting themselves on top of the very paragraph one is trying to read and uncannily the pest lies in wait till you are ready to move. Sounds sinister but that's how ads are these days. Moving Ads are my shadows and make T.S. Eliot proud, "Between the Idea and the Reality, Between the Motion and the Act, Falls the Shadow; Between the Conception and the Creation, Between the Emotion and the Response, Falls the Shadow; Between the Desire and the Spasm, Between the Potency and the Existence, Between the Essence and the Descent, Falls the Shadow". And TS Eliot did not even live in a digital age!

I wouldn't mind if Ads just lay there quietly on the side or on the bottom or even on top of the page; what is disturbing is how they cover the entire page or parts of the page. They do not move till they are forcefully shoved out of the way. From what I see in myself, I usually do it with the biggest, loudest curse word and a slamming down on the x button (if I can find it). These days their creators have developed the art of camouflage to a perfection where it's impossible to find the close button and by the time you find it, your attention span has frittered away into oblivion. This is indeed the new breed. Slightly older than these are Ads that still trick people but at least they let them have options of finding the x button either on top right or top left or bottom left or bottom right! It is all the same story of sending hapless individuals into circles or squares!

I don't see how we can get out of this dilemma. This is a reality that has been added to our already messed up reality. We can go the Indian way of treating everything as Maya, an illusion but nonetheless a reality as well. Maybe scrolling-ads-creators can be rounded up or quarantined indefinitely. As everything is so politically liberal minded, a compromise could be worked out that didn't 'hurt' the sensibilities of Ads and their creators, although historically, compromises have never worked in the liberal world. It's all or nothing. But, I wish I could see through Ads that are sitting on top of what I am trying to read. At least that will allow me to do what I to do and simultaneously ignore stubborn ads that will not go away. Currently, they seem to be made from the same stuff politicians are made, they are dense, shameless, pathological liars! Sigh, if only Ads were transparent!