Thursday, 28 October 2010

Middle Age

After a painstaking search, I got the name and a few lines of the Kamala Das poem I remembered during a conversation with a friend. It's called "Middle Age". Sadly, I cannot find the whole poem online. My professor had presented it brilliantly as the difference between a girl and a boy in how much they understand the mother, adding an additional perspective to its beauty. She explained every line in the poem as if the poet wished he child was a girl - maybe the professor was bringing in her personal reading here. The poem has so much emotion that it makes me sad. This is one poem that had certainly enhanced my view of the world, and my love for poetry (and established Kamala Das in indelible ink in my mind - whatever critics might talk of her). The lines I got online are thus (hopefully I still have the text at home, and will be able to find out the entire poem):
Middle age is when your children are no longer
Friends but critics, stern of face and severe with
their tongue

(lines comparing the child's growth to the pupae coming out the cocoon
and memories of reciting jungle stories written in golden ink)

they no longer
Need you except for serving tea and for

(the mother touches books of her child,
weeps a little secretly.)

You have lived
In a dream world all your life, it's time to
wake up, Mother,
You are no longer so young you know

(Symphony : Pg. 26)


Source: Kamala Das: A Critical Spectrum,  By Pier Paolo Piciucco - Essay: Suffering and Humiliation in Kamala Das's Poetry , K.V. SURENDRAN (Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Kannur University, Thalassery Campus, Palayad, Thalassery Kannur, Kerala.)

“Middle Age” is a poem which surveys the little, unnoticed pangs of mothers who are already on the “wrong side of the forties.” She begins the poem telling us when a person can be called middle aged.

The situation she describes here is one that is common place and found in every other household. When children grow up estrangement develops and the views or the old generation becomes totally unacceptable to the growing generation. The ultimate result is that the elderly people are made to suffer for no fault of theirs. The modem solution to this problem is nuclear families where the grey haired are mercilessly banished. Even when they get an entry to the households their role is limited to providing amenities to the other inmates of the house, that is, the role of a servant.

Certainly it is a life of humiliation and suffering that the middle aged are made to experience. Like a pupa becoming a cocoon and then butterfly, the silent obedient child has all on a sudden become an independent self-asserting personality and the casualty is his own mother. The poet's attempt in this poem is to wake up the dreamy middle aged mothers and to prepare them face the ultimate reality shedding the mental torture that has been in store for them.

Source:, by Thankachen

Kamala Das is a well known Indian poet writing in English. As a writer, she made bold attempts to break the traditional shell of Indian woman with her fiery tone and confessional mode of writing. She takes reader to her confidence and opens her mind before them. In her poem, Middle Age she tells us her feeling as a mother. She tries to bring out the loneliness that she feels at her middle age.

In the opening of the poem, she tells us that one's middle age is when his children become a critic all that he does. At this age the children lashes their tongue without any mercy. They use harsh language towards their parents. This change in their attitude is beautifully compared to the transformation that happens to pupae in a cocoon. The children emerge in harsh adult glory. They do not need their mothers except for serving tea and pressing their dress.

The mothers do not take this change as something very natural. They need the company of their children all the same. They miss their children very badly. In their loneliness, they touch books and other things of their children. They weep a little secretly. They can only dream of the days when they narrated many animals' stories to their children. As they remember those days, they can only cry in their present helplessness. It gives them a realization that they are no longer as young as they used to be. It reminds them that it is the time to wake up from the daydreams.

This poem is written in free verse. It is written in a conversational tone. The rhythm of the poem takes us to a dreamy world of a lonely mother. The visual imagery in the poem like the pupae coming out the cocoon and the jungle stories written in golden ink are very remarkable. The reader gets such a picture in his mind. It also takes us back to our child hood when we used to listen to such stories from our parents.

At the end of the poem, she comes to a realization that things are different in their middle age. This poem can be taken as an effort of the mother to accept the harsh reality in one's life that as the children grow up, the parents grow old. The mother is helpless at the callousness shown by the children. In this poem, Kamala Das portrays the generation gap that happens in the relationship of mothers and children in a touching way. It also reveals her most sensitive heart before the reader.

THREE (lots of word-use errors)

The elegant poem written by the renowned Indian poetess, Kamala Das, speaks of the dismal state of a mother whose love is rejected by her son. She vividly depicts the loneliness and estrangement of middle aged people through the thoughts of a poor mother whose full-fledged intimacy and motherhood are neglected by her son.

In the middle age, the children became critical and unfriendly and use harsh words to their parents. Here, the mother is very anxious and alert about her son. But being in a fantasy world,the son finds no importance for his mother, but for serving hot tea and pressing his clothes regularly. At the same time, the mother wants her child to be beside her in each moment as the life's turns make her more dependent on her son. The son grows up into an individual with a self-sustaining personality, and starts breaking the affectionate hearts. The mother cannot scold and hug the son freely, instead she herself wraps all her pain within her and weeps secretly by touching her son's books and clothes. His adult ego makes him hate all the little pranks once made by the mother. As he grows, he views them all with a deep aversion and hatred.

The short and excruciating poem of Kamala Das touched my heart deeply. As I go through the lines, I was able to feel the doldrums of the middle age. To a woman, motherhood is a part of her feminine self that yearns for love and its fulfillment. But the harsh realities of adolescence overturns it without any remorse. Once I finished reading the poem, I could hear the cry of a weeping heart of a mother.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Dialog from Chenkol

Dialog from Malayalam movie Chenkol (1993).

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Seven-layered vegetarian tostadas

Pack of round tostadas / tortillas (available in Mexican aisles), canned pinto beans, avocados, roma tomatoes, salt, minced jalapenos, sour cream, lime juice, grounded cumin*, red chilly mix*, canned tomato paste, oregano, parsley, lettuce, shredded cheese. 

(*if needed)

Layer 1: Preheat oven, and bake the tostadas for just under 3 to 4 mins. Keep aside.
Layer 2: Take 2 cans of pinto beans, wash away the preservatives, add a little salt and smash. Add water and cook for a while to smash easily. Keep aside.
Layer 3: Make the guacamole (explained below). Keep aside.
Layer 4: Make the salsa with tomato paste (1 can) + 2 minced Jalapenos. Add oregano, parsley and such Italian herbs, and enough water to make it semi-thick. (Add red-chilly for extra spice!) Keep aside.
Layer 5: Keep the sour cream ready.
Layer 6: Take the lettuce, peel each layer, roll up and chop into thin strands. Keep aside.
Layer 7: Shred the cheese, or keep aside the shredded cheese.

Take one tostada on a plate, forming layer 1. Thinly spread layer 2: pinto beans; layer 3: guacamole; layer 4: spicy salsa; layer 5: sour cream; layer 6: lettuce and top-up with layer 7: some shredded cheese. Hold the tostada on your palm and eat as messily as possible. Repeat, and compete on how many you can devour in one round!

Making guacamole

Halve, seed and spoon-peel 4 to 5 semi-ripe avocados. Keep the seeds aside since they help to preserve the guacamole. Dice 3 or 4 roma tomatoes into tiny pieces. Smash the avocados and add the tomato pieces. Add salt, minced jalapenos (red chilly for a spicier mix!), sour cream and lime juice. Mix ingredients well. We may add grounded cumin if needed. Add back the seeds and make sure to use within the same day.

(Courtesy: Pritesh and Kinjal)

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Searchwiki can only be an experiment

On November 22, 2008 (a week earlier in Europe according to reports), something strange started to happen with Google's biggest source of revenue - that ubiquitous service in which the monolith has virtually no competition - Google Search.

Around November 21, we saw a heavily publicized launch for what Google termed as SearchWiki. (Even the WSJ prominently carried this story.) Some claimed that it was not a "Wiki" at all since it was not essentially a socially-driven search system, while some others said that Google was just trying to copy Wikia. Read the Google Operating System blog post about the launch.

Few actually saw the fully-functional version of the modified search system until November 22. But taking us by surprise, by afternoon, Google made a hushed withdrawal, replacing the original search system. Read the TechCrunch post about the withdrawal.

Soon, Searchwiki made a reappearance in Google Experimental (Google's description mentions a cheesy "sound-effect" recorded by Sergey Brin himself - aargh!)
Worst of it all, the Experimental version didn't work - (It doesn't work the moment I am writing this blog!)

What really is happening at Google? The way it's happening, it doesn't seem intentional. The reception to SearchWiki has been very divided. While one side maintains that it will kill the manipulation of searches by SEO's and foster better search results providing for a combination of search and social sharing capabilities, the other side says that unmoderated commenting will prove to be a haven for spammers, and cannot do well because the mass customer is always "dumber" than the search engine developer.

My take? This technology is so new and immature that it should only remain an experiment. Search results are more vulnerable for manipulation in Searchwiki, say for instance, if a website starts hiring people to just promote their website for specific keywords.
Of course, Google says that your preferences will not affect another user, but that doesn't make sense since we already have an array of bookmarking options. I believe that Google's plan was definitely to slowly transition to a user-influenced search system. Also imagine searching for "ExxonMobil" and getting the first page full of links to The "dumber than thou" argument also underscores the fact that Google should not impose something that's so noisy and complicated on every user especially given its reputation for simplicity. Obviously, the ramifications of such a search model can be huge since the internet is getting more and more search-driven.

It was not too wise of Google to launch such a huge change directly in its most used service. Actually it's much worse of a trip-up than what facebook did by not involving its users when it launched its new interface. In case this was just an effort to collect a larger sample of usage data, Google should've informed the users that it will be temporary. This unacknowledged blooper from Google is certain to fuel the argument that Google is foraying into too many things than it can effectively focus. Since every product Google launches leverages at least some share of Google's impeccable search capability, a faultering step here can be disastrous. Will Google be able to maintain the small-firm approach that it had 10 years ago even as it has become the biggest "portal" to the web, given the mess in which Yahoo has submerged itself? The task is tough for sure.

As an aside, an SEO professional came out with a script to turn wiki on and off, which was kind of neat, had Google stuck to its earlier plan. Also read: Networkworld critical about Searchwiki

Update: As of 11 p.m. on November 22, SearchWiki has made a full-fledged comeback. Now that it's going to stay in one form or the other, you should read this awesome illustrated guide to SearchWiki entirely so that you get an idea of the do's and don'ts in a changed search environment. I maintain my stance that SearchWiki should be allowed to gradually graduate from a experimental release - there are too many jitters as of now. And I'm not happy that they removed the "Note this" feature from search. I used to love the ability to privately bookmark my searches. Give it back to me, Google!

Update (Nov. 24): To de-personalize your search, add the string "&hl=all" to the address bar once your search result comes up. It not only removes SearchWiki but also prevents your web history from influencing your search. Get your
de-personalized Google search Firefox plug-ins here.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Filter Kaappi!

To help my coffee addiction be unconstrained by the tightening economy, I purchased a manual drip filtration coffee brewer today. It has been a while since I stopped drinking instant coffee because I began hating the very taste. To be honest, I miss my favorite South Indian filter coffee every morning, and I'm trying my best to make up for it. I know that the filter is just one component - next will be to figure out the right kind of coffee (chicory-blended, if I can get hold of it!), the right kind of milk, and the right mixes to give me the taste I long for. That's why I would prefer to call it kaappi than just coffee - it is something different!

I got my filter from the nearby grocer. In case you want to order online (in USA), you may do so here.

To use the filter, take off the lid and unscrew the inner screen. Place the filter on top of a cup, or better, on top of a metal glass collector. Add 3-4 teaspoons of coffee and moderately tighten the screen. Fill a quarter of the filter with boiling water and wait for less than half a minute for the water to start dripping. Unscrew the screen a bit, and refill filter with boiling water. Place the lid tightly so that the fragrance of the coffee does not escape.

Once the collecting glass has enough coffee, pour it into boiled milk, and add sugar to taste, to enjoy a refreshing cup of coffee. I will update this post once I get the right coffee-chicory blend.

Monday, 21 July 2008

The necessity of the word

THERE is an ancient legend which tells us that when a man first achieved
a most notable deed he wished to explain to his tribe what he had done.
As soon as he began to speak, however, he was smitten
with dumbness,
he lacked words, and sat down. Then there arose - according to the story - a masterless man, one who had taken no part in the action of his fellow,
who had no special virtues, but afflicted - that is the phrase - with the magic of the necessary words. He saw, he told, he described the merits
of the notable deed in such a fashion, we are assured, that the words
"became alive and walked up and
down in the hearts of all his hearers." Thereupon, the tribe seeing that the words were certainly alive,
and fearing lest the man with the words would hand down untrue tales
about them to their children, they took and killed him.
But later they saw that the magic was in the words,
not in the man.

"The record of the tribe is in its enduring. The magic of literature lies in words and not in any man. Witness, a thousand excellent, strenuous words can leave us quite cold or put us to sleep, whereas a bare half- hundred words breathed by some man in his agony or in his exaltation, or in his idleness, ten generations ago, can still lead a whole nation into and out of its captivity, can open to us the doors of three worlds, or stir us so intolerably that we can scarcely abide to look at own souls."
-Kipling, Kipling's Analysis of True Literature, The Scrap book

What I have blogged about....

India (5) poem (5) english (4) google (4) poetry (4) instant poetry (3) malayalam (3) malayalam song lyrics (3) translation (3) AR Rahman (2) Guru (2) Indianapolis (2) Kerala (2) Mani Ratnam (2) Monsanto (2) cinema paradiso (2) hindi music (2) mashup (2) movie (2) non-food (2) piece of mind (2) social (2) travel (2) vayalar (2) web 2.0 (2) yesudas (2) 2003 (1) 2006 (1) 2008 (1) Abhishek (1) Ada (1) Aishwarya (1) Alchemist (1) All India Radio (1) Ambani (1) America (1) Amitabh (1) Aye Hairathe (1) Baazi Laga (1) Bappi Lahiri (1) Boomerang Generation (1) Chenkol (1) Chinmayee (1) EagleCreek (1) Ek lo ek muft (1) Elections (1) Fox News (1) GM (1) Goethe (1) Gravel (1) Gulzar (1) India Call (1) Internet Generation (1) Iruvar (1) Jaage hain (1) Jane Tu ya Jane Na (1) JoHari (1) Jodha Akbar (1) Kipling (1) Lohithadas (1) MIlk (1) MTV (1) Madhavan (1) Maryam Tollar (1) Mayya (1) Mithun (1) Mohanlal (1) National Initiative (1) New York Times (1) Outsourced (1) Phone (1) Reliance (1) Searchwiki (1) Shreya Ghoshal (1) Sir Tim Berners-Lee (1) Smart Dial (1) South India (1) Stanacard (1) Telephone (1) Tere Bina (1) The Hindu (1) The Simpsons (1) USA (1) Vandana Shiva (1) Vidya (1) aayiram padasarangal (1) agriculture (1) baje sargam (1) bookmark (1) brain (1) brand (1) business (1) capitalist (1) chatbot (1) coffee (1) college (1) contagion (1) de-personalize (1) devarajan (1) diary (1) dil doondtha hai (1) distributed processing (1) doordarshan (1) economy (1) epics (1) failure (1) filter (1) finer balance (1) friends (1) geoGreetings (1) gtalk (1) hindi (1) honeystream (1) howdy (1) independence (1) indian television (1) instructions (1) introspection (1) life (1) malayali (1) may sarton (1) memory (1) mile sur mera tumhara (1) multitask (1) ohne hast ohne rast (1) orwell (1) partychat (1) personal (1) pipes (1) poonthenaruvi (1) productivity (1) programmable web (1) rBST (1) recipe (1) salil chowdhury (1) search (1) song (1) strategy (1) sun sun sun meri munni sun (1) three worlds (1) tostada (1) water woes (1) wellbeing (1) what we are (1) wordplay (1) work (1) yahoo (1) yawn (1)

Pause to leave a comment!

I would appreciate if you would take your time and leave a comment for me to gnaw at while you might be away - and take pride that someone, somewhere is actually reading my blog. You can do so by clicking on the comments link below each post. Thank You!