Usha
My friend asha wrote this in one of her blogs (http://toconstantlywonderafresh.blogspot.com)
"Does the landscape we inhabit enter our characters, define the people we become? Does the landscape we inhabit enter our characters, define the people we become? Do mountain people know patience, and the humbling truth that you cannot control everything? Do forest people know courage, that buds break forth from ravaged trees? Do farmers know waiting, that there are things that you cannot hurry? Do river people know change, that you "step and not step into the same river"?
And in what way does the city enter us? Would we have been different people if we lived by an ocean and knew the endless comings and goings of the tide, the quietness of moonlight on water? "
Mountains challenge me with their cold impersonality, their mystic silence. They have seen it all. There is stillness all around. You may go to the mountain with your quests and find your own answers. Mountains seek not to understand nor care to be understood.With the mountains you are alone, at peace with yourself perhaps but alone. Even in a crowd, you are alone. You seek your answers within yourself. Life in the mountain is with reference to oneself.
With the sea near you, you are never alone. It is never silent. Sea is like a friend reaching out, playful and beckoning. Whoever lived by the sea was allowed to pass by without feeling its gentle touch on the feet? Even the person who attempts to stay from the water is swept suddenly by that one unsuspecting wave that comes rushing and sweeps his feet. Then it tempts you with samples of its treasures and draws you deeper to look for more wonders. Even the lone sailor in mid sea knows he is among life. Sea sustains, nourishes, comforts,shares, teaches and stays in the background like a mother with outstretched arms waiting for you should you need reassurance.
I would like to believe I am a sea person.
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Usha
Many years ago, I was amused to see the following safety warning on a plastic bag which came from the U.S. It read :"This is not a toy. Keep out of the reach of children." and then there was something more like " Do not place any of the enclosed plastic bags over your head and then tightly wrap duct tape around your neck to shut out the air." I wondered if that was any indication of the manufacturer's assumption about the buyer's intelligence or if it was common practice in that country for plastic bags to be put to such a use. My friend explained that this was necessary to escape law suits and that is why manufacturers assume nothing and try to protect themselves against all possible misuse and abuse of the product and the packaging.
Although the whole point about assumption seemed amusing to me at that time, I kept wondering what would happen if such a stringent legal system were to become a reality in India where many people still cannot read or can only read what is in their mother tongue - would the seller be required to explain the safety instructions and take a declaration from the buyer for having understood them?
How often we take so many things for granted!In spite of illiteracy being such a major issue in the country what steps do we take to make such important messages reach them? We are familiar with the public service advertisement where the doctor asks the young girl to read letters on a board to test her vision while she keeps staring at the letters which she can see but cannot read.
I remember one incident in my life which made me realise how insensitive we are sometime to those that come from social and economic circumstances that are different from ours. For a few days when someone in the family was sick, my maid servant's daughter from the village stayed with me to help out. Often she would disappear into the garden and oneday when I followed her I found she was running to the garden to answer the call of nature. I was appalled and gave her a mouthful of words regarding keeping the environment clean etc.The girl was in tears and finally told me that she did not know how to use the toilet. It had not occured to me at all to explain this to her!
Since then I have learnt not to assume anything or take things for granted.
Usha
There is a jewish story about the "tree of sorrows".
On the Day of Judgment, each person will be allowed to hang one's unhappiness and sufferings on a brach of the great Tree of Sorrows. After all have found a limb from which their miseries may dangle, they may all walk slowly around the tree. Each person is to search for a set of sufferings that he or she would prefer to those he or she has hung on the tree. In the end, each one freely chooses to reclaim his or her own assortment of sorrows rather than those of another. Each person leaves the Tree of Sorrows wiser that when he or she arrived.
So the moral of the story seems to be that everyone has their fair share of sorrows and you are not given any more or less than others although it may seem so from outside.Does your pain diminish when you see that others also have similar or worse problems? or do we just see the painful reality of sorrow and accept it?
It seems to me that we would choose the same set of sorrows more out of confidence gained from experience - that you have been there before and can do it again rather than take on a totally different set of sorrows whose fine print may not be obvious from the description on the display!
And then, what about those extraordinary beings like Mother Teresa who voluntarily take on the miseries of others upon themselves? Would they chose another set of sorrows than what they have been through?
I hear these words often in film songs where the deluded one tells her /his lover ' let me take your share of sorrows in exchange for my share of joys". I would like to see the choice of these at the tree of sorrows!!
Usha
What is it about some people that even your "first" meeting doesn't seem "the first"?
How is it with some people you can remain silent for hours and still feel completely at ease ?
How is it that you say the rudest thing to someone and when you are in trouble you don't think twice about calling them?
Why is it that it does not seem like a favour when some people do so many kind things for you?
How come you can say "love me or leave me" to some people and be pretty sure they wont leave you in spite of all your tantrums?
What is it about some people that you are not flustered when they walk into the house when it is looking like a post earthquake debris?


What would the world be without friends?
Usha
I envy people who can switch off their hearing at their will. I have always been more receptive to what I hear and I normally seem to hear everything people say to me. Even as a student I used to read my lessons aloud so it registered better. It was always a joke among my friends and siblings to see me solve arithmetic problems talking to my notebook. Now this has caused a major problem for me with my maid. She is also about my age and perhaps going through similar problems of all women in their middle age. Unfortunately for me she has no husband to vent her frustrations on. It seems like she has decided to elevate me to the level of a psychiatrist . So everyday she starts talking to me about her problems with her neighbours, her relatives and all the minor details of her life and there seems to be no dearth of them in their lives. The worst part is that everyday the story starts at the same point some 20 years ago when her cows and her sheep died as a result of some black magic that her brother in law practiced in order to drive her and her children out of her house so he could appropriate the property to himself. Property? Oh yes, a 20 ft by 10 ft plot on which she has her house. I have suggested buying an alternate plot for her but she will hear none of it one because she wants to fight for her rights , and two because it is where she lived with her husband. No amount of gentle hints that I have heard them all a hundred times over deter her. She doesn’t hear my protests at all, blessed soul so you see it is I who has the problem!
So she goes on each day to treat me to all the gory details of the death of each cow and calf and the illnesses brought up on her and her children as a result of her wicked relative’s maneuverings. Now it seems pretty rude and insensitive for me to tell her that these details don’t interest me nor can I switch off my mind while someone is talking! So it goes on day after day. May be she feels better after the sessions.
I cannot get rid of her for she has been with me for over 20 years now and it is not done to give her the pink slip just like that!
I am willing to pay for her professional psychiatric treatment but scared to suggest it to her as she may be offended that I am calling her a nut case. So I listen to every word in frustration day after day and run for an aspirin and coffee when it becomes too much. One of these days when this fails, may be I will get an appointment with a shrink!
Or I could teacher to BLOG!