Saturday, December 29, 2007

Beauty lies in Observation

“It is a tough job those philosophers have who want to rank beauty as one of the absolute values. When you call something beautiful all you mean is that it excites a specific state of feeling in you, but what that something is depends on all manner of circumstances. What sort of an absolute is it that is affected by personal idiosyncrasy, training, fashion, habit, sex and novelty? One would have thought that when once an object was recognized as beautiful it would contain enough of intrinsic worth to retain its beauty for us indefinitely. We know it doesn’t. We get tired of it. Familiarity breeds not contempt perhaps but indifference; and indifference is the death of the aesthetic emotion.

“A thing of beauty is not, as Keats said, a joy forever; it is a thing that excites in us a particular emotion at a particular moment, and if it does that it gives us all that beauty can give. It is absurd to despise people who don’t share our aesthetic opinions.” – Somerset Maugham.

Living in Bangalore has been a beautiful experience so far in that it has bestowed the opportunity for me to observe a variety of people in a truly cosmopolitan setting and their manner and actions have many a time been a source of not a less pleasure.

At times, I wonder whether we really observe what goes on around us or are we too preoccupied and more often than not react with indifference. For I have come to recognize that if we do observe people – friends and strangers - and nature, we’d be amazed at how beautiful an environment we are in.

Consider these:

You walk along a busy thoroughfare and look up towards the sky to find a group of birds flying their way on an exquisite blue background.

In the morning as you walk to the bus stop, you find an old man pillion-riding in a two-wheeler driven by his daughter with his face basking in a faint glow of pride.

You catch a young woman smiling to herself in reflection of some pleasant memory just before reaching your seat.

As you ride back home after work, you see the round orange sun playing hide and seek with you between tree tops and roof tops.

You see a young couple with their kid daughter on a walk; the young one holding her parents’ hand symbolic of blind trust and gauge from the parents’ satisfied faces, their happiness and pride and catch in their smiling eyes a thousand dreams and ambitions waiting for fulfillment.

As you walk to have your dinner, you observe a mother trying to feed a toddler; the little one stubbornly shakes her cute head this way and that; the mother in a tone of pleading affection struggles to balance the curd rice filled plate and the baby.

Do we ever find beauty in these things or have we forgotten the fact that little things like these can go towards making each of our days a lot better!!

Staying very much close to this topic, I cannot help but mention here this incident that so moved me one day. I was practicing this observation (If I may claim so J) sitting on the upper portion of a mini-hill structure close to a nearby temple when I happened to notice a curious pattern:

Young couples, if they happen to come together to the temple stop at the foot of the structure. To climb the structure requires some initial guts but it cannot be termed daunting either. One has to be just careful with the first few steps that one makes and then it is an easy climb thereafter. The girl first looks into the eyes of the boy with an expression that appears to convey something like “You know that I can climb on my own. But, you can help me take the first few steps by lending me your hand.” The boy’s look says something like “I understand that you can climb on your own. But since you need my hand, I am only too glad to help you.”

On that one day, this was a uniform trend and upon observing the looks exchanged, I was convinced that the World is beautiful. One has only to observe and one shall never fail to notice beauty!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Part of the cheering crowd!!

The area around M G road and Cubbon road wore a festive look. One could see the Indian tricolor everywhere. She was on sale for anything between 30 and 200 rupees depending on how much one was willing to bargain on and what size one had in mind. The atmosphere was one of eager expectancy and excited talk. People got their faces painted in saffron, white and green, draped themselves in the three colors and were all head towards the Chinnaswamy stadium. All of Bangalore – from the vegetable vendor next door to the omnipresent IT professional – waited for India to continue from where she had left the previous day.

Starting at 365/5, the day saw another run feast with several records getting rewritten. The crowd at the stadium was witness to:

Ganguly alias the Bengal tiger, reaching his maiden test double century,

Irfan Pathan on a comeback scoring his first test century,

Bangalore registering its highest ever innings total and many more such records.

In India, cricket to borrow a cliché is a religion and if anyone needed proof, the applause and roar of the crowd should be proof enough. Add to that, Sourav Ganguly was playing a flawless game that was a pure pleasure to watch. I don’t know what it is about left handers that make their game beautiful particularly when they are in good form.

How can one forget to mention the redoubtable master in this context – Brian Lara – when he is at his best? Sadly though, West Indies cricket is at its lowest ebb and one can only hope that things start to fall in place soon. Enough digression!!

When we were anxious at the fall of Karthik, who perished yet again to a foolish shot, in walked Irfan Pathan, and made the day a truly unforgettable one for himself in his career. He treated the bowlers with true disdain in his innings which was dotted with four hits that cleared the ropes by quite a good distance. The crowd couldn’t have asked for more…

Some were desperately trying to get themselves into the television screens. The Bengal tiger suddenly became Bangalore tiger and every chart had something to say about how good the NEO sports team was!!

The sweltering heat (The weather pundits got it completely wrong once again for a partly cloudy forecast turned out to a brightly sunny morning) didn’t dampen a trifle the enthusiasm and energy of the Indian fan. But the Pakistani fielding though it was mostly patchy wasn’t left unappreciated either when the occasional dive was on show.

When the Pakistanis came out to bat in the final session, all eyes were on the Indian fielders. When Pathan and Harbhajan came to field at the third man position near our stand, the crowd kept calling them hoping that they would at least for a moment turn their heads and acknowledge the mass. It was akin to getting a rare darshan at close quarters in a temple.

When Kumble struck trapping Hameed leg before, the jubilation reached a high point. After all, the Jumbo was a local boy recently elevated to lead the Indian eleven. Debutante Ishant too got the crowd’s attention and respect he’d have hardly expected. But in a game that is adored by millions that should hardly be a matter of surprise.

The Chacha from across the border was briefly the cynosure of all eyes. A little boy was relentlessly crying out ‘Dravid!! Dravid!!’ and ‘Salman Butt, out!!’. His cries rose above the din and every once in a while a face would try to search among the multitude for the source of that enthusiastic cry.

As the Pak batsmen got into the groove, the crowd started to leave in little groups perhaps because some of them had got more than their money’s worth for the day. As we got up and started walking towards the exit, we could still hear the roar of the people and our heart was heavy with a tad of disappointment that the day had drawn to a close, but nevertheless our tired faces glowed with satisfaction too, having been witness at last to what every avid cricket lover would yearn for in is life – Watching A good day’s play.