The Kitchen Vedantist

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When Actions Speak Louder than Words

English: Close up of common street dog at Howrah.

The year was 2003 and the place Bangalore. We had moved into our newly bought apartment just a few months back. The street in front of our building had many of stray dogs and among them were  two new- born pups. One was the desi type but looked healthy and had a shinier than usual coat. The other was slightly bigger and shaggy. I used to feed both and play with them to keep my daughter company. The shaggier one slowly started accumulating dirt on his coat and our interest in playing shifted to the cleaner looking one. Nevertheless I continued feeding and playing with both. As is our custom we found funny, apt names for both in local lingo- the cleaner, golden brown pup was called Ponnappa and the shabbier one was called Mannappa. Ponnappa disappeared from our street in a few more weeks; Mannappa remained and within months grew up to be the leader of the dogs in the street, a most ferocious one too when it came to strangers. By this time he had developed an intense liking for me. Whenever I came out of the building or was walking to our building, he would come running and jump all over me. He was now quite shabby and I started feeling a sense of revulsion, though I was still friendly and continued to give him food. I was also quite scared of his ferocious expression of affection, worrying his claws would hurt, but it never once happened. Many a time I had a good mind to give him a bath but with the hectic life I had and having no prior experience of owning a dog it never materialized.

Then it happened. One evening I had ventured out of the apartment and Mannappa came running to me.  I  bought a loaf of bread from the next shop, kept it at the usual place for him and continued to walk. thinking the food would make him happy. He just sniffed the food and didn’t take a single bite. I thought he was a little subdued, as he didn’t jump on me anymore. Nevertheless he followed me till the end of the street which was probably the end of his territory too. I’m not sure if it is just my feeling, but I had a sense that he was a little low key in his interactions with me after that day. On that day that street dog taught me a powerful lesson of why not just man, but any sentient being might seek out another. I still don’t have adequate words to convey it, but the message went right through.

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Life of a Word

Not sure if someone has said this before: “writing to me is like a snake shedding its skin. I move on and the thought is no longer part of me”. This is how I have often felt- at least during my early writing experience. There is a certain kind of re-emergence happening.

There is a difference though. The skin the snake sheds is a lifeless thing. It just lies there. One need not elaborate on the power of the word. All the great literature of the world, all the oratory stand testimony to that.

Isn’t it strange, the power a word has? What is a word after all? A word is just a symbol of an object or a thought. It is a mere carrier, without mass. Except when written, a word doesn’t require space either.

Is it energy or life a word has? Is a word like a knife thrown or a bullet shot? Perhaps. Except, the path of a knife or bullet is fairly predictable. In the hand of a good marksman it finds its target. Else, the path is still a simple curve. Not so with the word. Even the most expert writer or orator cannot chart the course a word takes.

Maybe a word is a living thing. It feeds on emotions and needs. Perhaps it is akin to a virus- once thrown out, it lies dormant and acquires full life only when it finds another live thing. And then it all depends on how the host is wired.

September 1, 2010 Posted by | communication, consciousness, philosophy, self expression, talk, Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Lost in Transmission

Statue of Confucius on Chongming Island in Sha...

Image via Wikipedia

A recent conversation about the nature of communication has left me wondering. The guy, someone whose views and judgment I value a lot, was going to meet his friends from schooltime, and I asked “Can you still connect with them?”. He said , “I speak to them in my own way”. He continued that no matter who your correspondent is, they’ll make what they want out of your words. I can readily see the point…our interpretation of someone’s words and deeds is tempered by our own attitudes, experiences and state of mind at that point in time. But doesn’t that make each human an island unto himself? If total communication were not possible, why this irresistible instinct for self expression that only the great silent ones (munis) could overcome? Why this need to be understood?

On the other hand, is this such a one-sided need? Don’t we all at times want to get inside someone’s head, see and experience things as they do? What of that saying “to know someone is to love them”? Why do we buy books and art? Why do great works of art and literature appeal to people divided by centuries and vast geographical expanses? Where lies the universal and where the individual?

These thoughts remind me of a quest in an entirely different field. I just can’t stop marveling about the delightfully thought provoking Edge essay by neuroscientist V S Ramachandran about mirror neurons. Call it empathy, call it collective subconscious, there indeed seems to be some kind of overlapping of minds/experience/consciousness.

Coming back to the munis, is silence the ultimate desirable? Did they withdraw into silence because they realized experience can never be expressed in words? Is it the ultimate victory when one overcomes the need for self expression? If so, have I fallen from grace by starting this blog?

August 25, 2010 Posted by | communication, culture, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Living with Compromise

Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati playing chaupar

Image via Wikipedia

I guess I’ll feel better after writing this.Try looking at it standing where I am.

So here I’m, desperately combating senility, on my nth effort to start a blog and get it going. Finally, I think I have found stuff I’ll be able to write regularly- or at least randomly-about. Finally I think I would be able to play audio from my blog without having to turn it into a video file, something I’ve wanted for a long time. Now I can happily start posting away to my share of cyber immortality.But wait, what about the title? Child’s play to the more imaginative blogger, but not so to someone as verbally challenged as me. Sure, stuff that sounded nice to the ears did pop up, but nothing that connects with the nature of my ramblings. Much brainstorming later, I find something that made sense and sounded good too.

Climax-anticlimax if you will- now. That title I thought fitted my blog to a T, even as Parvati and Siv, word and meaning, is taken. Taken- like it happens for men who’re rich, handsome, not gay and not too shy.

But why? Here it is. The Kitchen Philosopher. Woe upon me, I can’t see the connection between title and content. Can you? Too late, anyway.

Now what’s THIS BLOG to do with kitchen or vedanta, you may ask. No connection with kitchen or vedanta per se. Kitchen vedanta is the translation of a Malayalam word ‘adukkalavedantam’ (adukkkala= kitchen) coined before the time of women empowerment and politically correct speech.

So that’s where it fits. No more than ramblings about books, music, life- could be anything as long as it is strictly impractical.

Come to think of it, I shouldn’t really feel bad about this. Someone else thought this was a good title too. And the guy has got style- I must give it to him. But god, what two unlike people to think up the same title!

August 20, 2010 Posted by | humor, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments