Mesmerising Mandu

Do monuments tell stories? Or is it simply that people who have stories buried deep down their souls can hear them like a symphony when they are in the presence of these monuments?

Jahaz Mahal (c)margieparikh

Jahaz Mahal (c)margieparikh

Whatever be the case, one must agree that not all the monuments echo the same story.

If Mandu has one, it is of sanguine love that had enough time and space to find a life of its own. Love that was realized. Love that could mature and find its manifestation.

Remains of complexes near Jahaz Mahal (c)margieparikh

Remains of complexes near Jahaz Mahal (c)margieparikh

And it has all the necessary ingredients: heights of mountains, mirrors of lakes, glory of vast structures, beauty of architecture, eternity of love story, common thread of music, and the historical lineage running several centuries back.

Viewing balconies made for Roopmati: viewed from Baz Bahadur's palace, Mandu (c)margieparikh

Viewing balconies made for Roopmati: viewed from Baz Bahadur’s palace, Mandu (c)margieparikh

They say that Baz Bahadur was an ardent hunter. Once when he was on his hunting trip, he heard captivating music sung by a woman in the middle of vast wilderness – and that is how he found Roopmati, singing the praise of her revered river Narmada.

It took me right back into the times of Kadambari, the first Sanskrit novel by Banabhatt. In the novel, beautiful Mahashweta was found just like that by Chandrapeed who was out hunting. Kadambari spans three life-times of its characters.

I decide to contemplate before- and after-life later and begin to savor the symbols of love in one life of Roopmati-Baz Bahadur. For those short of time, the trip doesn’t permit leisurely roaming the town and randomly picking the sites. the first one to see is Reva Kund, made at the orders of Baz Bahadur, get water from Narmada. Roopmati was a great devotee of Narmada and she didn’t eat until she had first offered her prayers and done the Darshan of the river each day. She agreed to come to Mandu at the condition that her ritual continue unbroken, and Baz Bahadur delivered it.

Reva Kund at Mandu (c) margieparikh

Reva Kund at Mandu (c) margieparikh

Gentle slope takes one up the hill at the foot of which stands the palace of Baz Bahadur. For a moment you might lead yourself to believe that you were on your walk in Rome, because of the broad line-up of steps, the arches and the sharp angles of the walls that still stand. What will bring you back to Mandu are the Mughal shapes of Spade-like upper points of the arches. And you join Baz Bahadur once again.

Steps to palace of Baz Bahadur (c) margieparikh

Steps to palace of Baz Bahadur (c) margieparikh

Why does one seek out the era bygone? Why does one allow the charm of music to work like witchcraft? Why would a glance at ruins actually convey to one’s mind the image ‘as-if’ the ruin was in its prime time? I have no idea.

Water filter at Jahaz Mahal, Mandu (c)margieparikh

Water filter at Jahaz Mahal, Mandu (c)margieparikh

One oddity of Mandu is its multitude of Baobab trees. I didn’t see any once I left Mandu, and our guide attributed it to one of the rulers of Mandu who introduced the tree there. According to him, Baobab is known as ‘Khorasani Imli” [lit. Tamarind from Khorasan].

One of the many Baobabs at Mandu (c) margieparikh

One of the many Baobabs at Mandu (c) margieparikh

But the trees look young compared to some of their African cousins. So I am not sure. I get distracted by its fruit, and chew on the powdery white, tangy flesh around the seeds.

One more element that Mandu is in love with is water. Palaces have numerous ponds and pools inside. These green gardens, enchanting Chhatris, and the water inside the palaces… this must have been the Mughals’ inspiration as they shaped Delhi.

Palace of BAz Bahadur at Mandu (c)margieparikh

Palace of BAz Bahadur at Mandu (c)margieparikh

… and then, here is the place where the mid-wives lived, with a hospital nearby. Messengers of high-placed people came on horses and shouted from this point. The call would be echoed, and there was no way the Dai could miss it. The story has it that the messenger would shout the address and the Dai would reach there – to deliver the bundle of joy.

Echo point, the Dai's hospital at Mandu (c)margieparikh

Echo point, the Dai’s hospital at Mandu (c)margieparikh

The place has enchanting arches lined up in a constantly unfolding arches. One would lose the count of such series..

Roopmati's palace at Mandu (c)margieparikh

Roopmati’s palace at Mandu (c)margieparikh

And there is sombre Nageshwar temple. You have to climb down the slope to come to the shrine. The Shiv-ling is located at a basement-level depth and a small spring sprinkles water all around it. I had no heart to take pictures there. You just feel at peace and chant whatever shlokas you remember. A tiny blade of tulsi comes up in a bed lined by stone.

Blade of Tulsi at Nageshwar temple, Mandu (c)margieparikh

Blade of Tulsi at Nageshwar temple, Mandu (c)margieparikh

Before I realise it, it is late afternoon, and there is so much to savor. I forget photography and just drink all of it in. I promise myself one more visit – may be two days net.. and hurry back.

Sunset on way back from Mandu

Sunset on way back from Mandu

 

 

Real Tears in the La La Land


*Spoiler Alert*

img_20161220_151326_processed

If you have ever chosen, if you have ever forgone, if you have loved and ever been set free, all of it might flash before you in one fraction of a moment while watching La La Land.

La La Land may have been made into a movie, it might have been fashioned as an ode to the musicals and to Jazz. It may be all of that and a reminder that love has its own longevity and its own progression of time, that love is greater than living life together. That all it needs is one glance across a hall and time in the world of love ticks as if it was just the previous moment when you had met the love of your life.

And that love takes dreams under its wings even when that dream seems to stand on its very grave.

La La Land portrays a boy’s  love although it is a love story.

Love shows up in its its own intricacy of his behaviors: loud, non-stop honking at the girl’s door, cooking after surprise visit back home, and telling the girl on face the true feelings even when they are ugly — like telling her that she was interested in seeing him low down so that she could feel better about herself.

Those searing words go in the same cocktail as his refusal to accept her resignation from her dream, setting about on a long drive to deliver the message about her audition, and pushing her to go realise her dream. The cocktail is in the movie. Shaken and stirred are your emotions.

Because somewhere it touches the ‘been there’ all around you. For example, you don’t chase your dream because you have no money. You do something else instead, because it gives you fame or success. You can’t chase what you really care for, because you are busy raising resources. But in the end, those non-dream projects fund the dreams. And you learn to wait.

Love doesn’t work that way though, says La La Land. There is never an ‘either-or’. You love someone with your soul, you meet them after years, you say, ‘welcome to Seb’s’ and play your favourite tune. The whole life in-between comes in and the ends join seamlessly.

“Had I done this….” scenarios play and rewind. Permutations unfold.

You choose for yourself: two people, two dreams, loving life spent together, one dream realised and one dream buried for the other; OR, two dreams, separate lives lived, two dreams achieved, and lives lived separately.

But no, the OR is really not the case. Once you love, you share eternity. Not sharing a few years doesn’t matter. You listen to the tune, get up, leave to go back to your life. And before exiting the door, you smile and nod in approval of a job well done. One glance – brings strangers together and parts soulmates for life. Glance to glance is the full circle of love and in-between, there is life.

‘La La Land’ can’t get closer to reality. It is real already. Like the tears it brings.

 

 

 

Shake that brimming cup

Source: http://fccshelbyville.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/My-Cup-Runneth-Over-550x250.jpg

Thank you, all the tests of life! You got me up to here, and now my cup brimmeth! I have arrived! Nothing is missing, and I have got all [or most] things I wanted.

Source: https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/t/earth-coffee-cup-elements-image-furnished-nas-nasa-69708456.jpg

 

Have you felt that wave, however short-lived, of warmth, joy, and may be pride swell up right through your heart and make your eyes shine and put a glowy smile on your face?

Yes, *that* precisely is the moment to shake things up a little bit.
If it is running over, or even brimming, you would be the first one to know, but wait: is that really a cup?
What if it is a trap reservoir to stop the waters from flowing?

Source: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/eUNDOU6Hb84/maxresdefault.jpg

What if it is just a fancy pound to keep all strays from wandering?

Source: https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/dog-pound-cages-homeless-dogs-35843262.jpg

What if it is a prison with granite walls polished to perfection so it looks like china?

Source: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_mmBw3uzPnJI/ScAMxEhse-I/AAAAAAAAivI/shF1IcBeKGM/s400/prison-in-austria-01.jpg

Have you really ever gone out of the cup to see for yourself? Not a chance if that’s the cup of life we are talking about.

Source: http://pre14.deviantart.net/c153/th/pre/i/2012/048/1/8/cup_of_life_by_tangengot-d4q0ahd.jpg

In that case, it might be worth the while to shake up the cup a little.
Who knows what will happen if shaking of your cup shakes some neighboring ones also a little bit?

Source: http://15858-presscdn-0-65.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/default/files/images/so-many-cups.jpg

Who knows what would happen if the cup remains still, but you can raise some waves in it and raft yourself into some other currents?

Source: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_UTw5MyW7OWg/TD0opkE7bXI/AAAAAAAAAP0/VvZ3v3iSWJc/s1600/white-water-rafting.jpg

What if nothing happens other than spilling some juices off so that your cup is ready to receive some new potion all over again?
fresh-potion
If nothing happens, at least you can rest in confirmed peace that the only satisfaction to draw is in knowing that your cup brimmed. And it ran over. At least once.
May be the other possibilities are too risky. May be you lose life. May be you lose all you have and gain nothing valuable. May be all you get is sneering from the residents of neighboring cups who think you were a fool.
fool
May be when you are gone, having lived as per your convictions, but not achieving anything ground-breaking, they will watch from the seats reserved but never occupied because they chose not to come for your Besna.
reserved_seat
What matters more, though, is not whether others agree with you — but whether you agree to shake the things up a little.
complacency-blanket
The warm blanket of complacency is not going anywhere, you see, after all, complacency is complacency because of complacence.
Image sources (in the same order of images):
2. https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/t/earth-coffee-cup-elements-image-furnished-nas-nasa-69708456.jpg
3. https://i.ytimg.com/vi/eUNDOU6Hb84/maxresdefault.jpg
4. https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/dog-pound-cages-homeless-dogs-35843262.jpg
6. http://pre14.deviantart.net/c153/th/pre/i/2012/048/1/8/cup_of_life_by_tangengot-d4q0ahd.jpg
7. http://15858-presscdn-0-65.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/default/files/images/so-many-cups.jpg
8. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_UTw5MyW7OWg/TD0opkE7bXI/AAAAAAAAAP0/VvZ3v3iSWJc/s1600/white-water-rafting.jpg
9. http://img.foodnetwork.com/FOOD/2011/08/09/CC-Halloween_Witches-Brew-Cocktail_s4x3_lead.jpg

Tips to the daughter I never had #22

Not the best daughter int he world

Not the best daughter in the world

Tips to the daughter I never had #21

Higher the plane, emptier the hands and mind

Higher the plane, emptier the hands and mind

Day -2: Ahead of delving into the lived experiences of Artisans

Boyhood of Raleigh, source: http://bit.ly/1WFznz6

Boyhood of Raleigh, source: http://bit.ly/1WFznz6

Michael Toolan says that every narrative has three elements: the teller, a tale, and an addressee. Look at the power of the tale above: the arm of the teller is fully stretched towards the sea, but the boys are intent as their gaze is fixed on the teller. What is he telling?

Generation to generation

Generation to generation

Grandma

Grandma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps it is not that difficult at times.

However, that doesn’t make all things told, narratives. For example, a running commentary on a game that you are watching in a stadium, is not a story.

Hawthorn (1985) says that a story is a sequence of events, directly mediated by telling. We stare at and through it. While our eyes are fixed at the telling, our minds are at that which is being told.

About ...

About …

Narrative is different from conversation, and hence in a way describes the narrator. Though there are narratives that are stand-alone. You can take them or leave them. They are not necesarily linked to their authors or the contexts.

Tete e tete

Tete e tete

Further, there are three crucial element of a narrative.

  1. Fabrication: Not as spontaneously as a conversation. Some thought and effort goes into planning, arranging, and choosing.
And then Buddha said...

And then Buddha said…

2. Trajectory: Narratives are expected to, and usually they do, ‘go’ somewhere with some development, towards some conclusion and resolution.

Lines1

Lines1

3. Prefabrication: All narratives may be unique. But they also have some bits common with many others.

Fingers

Fingers

… and so, here I am, getting packed and ready to leave to meet my narratives and the narrators thereof!

Day -3: Ahead of delving into the lived experiences of Artisans

So, it was the time to work in the direction that would prevent me from squandering this opportunity of being with people very different from who I am and where I come from.

When that happens, it is so easy to ‘see what one wants to see’ rather than seeing what is there before one’s eyes. We all judge. We all are selective. We all … are so imperfect when it comes to dealing with reality different from our world-view.

Day: -3 task was to finalize my orientation, and I chose what is known as Narrative Inquiry.

A narrative is a story, and in so many ways, a story is what we all are interested in. We live them, act in them, both – as individuals, and as communities. We understand lives – ours and others – as stories. We learn through stories. It is a good idea to use stories as a tool of research as well. The general idea here is to enquire into stories, their content, their nature and come out of it with insight.

So, why not a survey questionnaire?

To so many people, good research, or any research means a survey-based research.

One huge limitation here is one assumes one knows everything about the research topic, makes it in the form of a construction of reality, knows how different parts of it  related to each other, to ultimately work together as a cause-and-effect mechanism.

Well, does it *always* work  that way?

Reality has so many different forms, that we may never be able to not only fully understand it, but also know accurately, how much of error we are about to make in out judgment! So, the p value of regression, and all, is not of much help to topics such as mine.

A narrative inquiry is a study of lived experiences. it studies people’s lived experiences, starting with one’s own. A lived experience is a storied phenomenon that may be told, written, photo or video graphed, observed or collected from a combination of such sources. One is free to analyse, criticise and retell such stories, including myths.

Four ‘switch points’ are interesting when one moves from quantitative approach towards research to Narrative Inquiry:

  1. The relation between the researcher and the researched
  2. Turning away from numbers to words as data
  3. From generalized, universal truth to local and specific reality
  4. Widened acceptance of alternative ways of knowledge

How Dewey (1981, p. 175) puts it:

“The inquiry is not a search behind the veil of appearances… instead, an inquiry is an act within a stream of experience that generates new relations that then become a part of future experience.”

Thus, the first point above. A narrative inquirer is not separate, aloof and carefully detached from the people she collects data from. In fact, they relate to each other. The new relationship spans time, spaces and social structures.

The analysis of narrative may be within and between narratives. It aims at common themes, metaphors, plotlines and such in order to identify general themes and concepts.

It is a descriptive research: it does not claim to represent the ‘exact’ truth, but instead, aims for ‘verisimilitude’ – that the narrative appears realistic enough, that is significant. And somehow, knowing and sharing it makes things less overwhelming and less oppressive (Dewey, 1981).

The approach, again, is not to cut down reality into pieces, but rather holistic – the one that is prepared to confront the complexity as well as subtlety of lived experiences, and is fascinated by it.

Read more if interested:

 

  1. http://benjaminbolden.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2008-Narrative-Inquiry-Sage-encyclopedia.pdf
  2. http://benjaminbolden.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2006-Clandinin-NarrativeInquiryAMethodologyforStudyingLivedExperience.pdf 
  3. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=EgimAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=critical+Narrative&ots=yR6P_twiQt&sig=r35h7qytvTBPkvoNrPilNAVyQJQ#v=onepage&q=critical%20Narrative&f=false