Dec 24, 2014

It's that time of the year!!!

As 2014 is fast running out of days and 2015 is inevitably drawing near, it's been chaos at Karthi. Lots of year-end activities to be accomplished before we can usher in the New Year. New folders opened, old folders put away... Cupboards purged... Trash burned... Exams dealt with... The inevitable colds and fevers tided over...

And here we are on Xmas eve. This is where we take a few days off the internet and social media. It's a time for regrouping, time to spend with the family, time to spend some time in solitude with our own souls. A time for celebration and at the same time, a time to fall back a little in order to spring forth with more energy.

This has been a wonderful year at Karthi - a year of discovery of purpose, creative fun, some good stress - yes,  a little stress is beneficial - you might have heard the story of the tiny shark left in containers of fish to keep them alive till the deep-water fishermen reach the shore? 

So au revoir, my dear readers, till we meet again in the New Year. There will be times in the coming year too when it seems all life is a long hustle...


When it will seem that everyone is out to get you...


Or you feel completely out of your element...


Some days will bring utter chaos...


And you may feel that life is running away from you...


There might be days when you decide discretion is the better part of valor...


And days in which you have no energy left to take it any more...


But hey, that's when the fun begins! After that good rest, you get up and wade in again...


ride the waves any way you can...


and be the lord of your domain once again...



So for the coming new year, I wish all of you plenty of joy and enough good stress and challenges to make you feel alive. Have fun and adventure in 2015! And even in the midst of all the chaos surrounding you, may you have the ability to touch the immutable core of peace that is always inside you...



Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

(All in the course of a quiet morning at Varkala beach.)

Dec 12, 2014

Selfishness is GOOD...

... and please read on to the end before you chew me out!!!

"Don't be selfish," must have been the adjuration I have heard the most in my childhood apart from the constant instructions on how "good girls" have to behave. My Mom still enjoys telling me how I hated sharing my toys with my friends. She especially remembers how my closest chaddi-buddy used to complain, "Kala, when you come to my home, I let you play with all my toys. But you let me play with only this one-eyed teddy bear." (Well, she didn't know the honor I was conferring on her by allowing her to play with my personal confidant, nightmare-keeper-away and best friend, still!)

But this "selfishness" adjuration when accompanied by the dreaded finger wag and aimed at a little girl means much more than the simple meaning of the word. It means she has to be obedient, to never talk back, to be always gentle and humble and to be ladylike in all circumstances. 

Having had the time and opportunity to look around and see for myself how this works, especially in the case of a couple of women who have taken this adjuration to heart and put it to work in their daily lives, I will tell you how I came to the resolution above.

One of the women is one I have grown up with. Having been tomboyish, loud and contrary while growing up, I was constantly compared unfavorably with her and ordered to be "more like her". She was and still is the Beauty of my family, the best at domestic arts and the most lady-like of all the girls. It speaks volumes about my love for her and my restraint that she grew up to womanhood without being strangled at my hands. And having been a contemporary, I also knew firsthand that her meekness and obedience came from the goodness and piety of her heart and that she was by no means weak inside. I could not but admire her innate goodness.

I thought she was very happy till recently when she started talking to me about how her meek nature had always been taken advantage of by her spouse's family and how she had been treated as a drudge all along. The breaking point came when there was a tussle in her own family regarding property and she was accused by her siblings of insinuating herself into a better position with her father by being "all very subservient and charming and oily" with the cantankerous old man. She was shocked to the core of her being when she found out that this was how she was being perceived.

The good thing is, after the shock, she no longer feels the need to be subservient and obliging all the time. She continues to be true to her essence, but no one gets away with taking advantage of her any more. It did turn her a little bitter, but she has learnt her lesson. The people around her are astonished at "how the worm has turned" and are not quite pleased. But now she does not care that much for them.

The other lady belongs to my mother's generation, but essentially she is also the same. Quite like my relative, she too is a very strong and opinionated woman - the only thing is, she had hidden this part of her so long that she became very good at passive aggressiveness. It amazed me once to observe her having to lie to her mother-in-law about having to go to the hospital when all she wanted to do was to go shopping. She went to great lengths to conceal any activity (none of which were criminal or reprehensible) that would make her "an object of censure" (oh horror of horrors!). She burst into tears at any hint of remonstrance for anything from others. If she accidentally broke something, instead of owning up like an adult would do, she hid the evidence and protested her innocence like a scared 6-year-old - to people young enough to be her kids!

Now, in her old age, she herself is suspicious of others' motives all the time. When her daughter-in-law tells her that she needs to go to the hospital, she checks with her son whether he is sure that she is going there and tells me that she suspects that her daughter-in-law has just gone to meet her friends or have fun. And she is bitter, bitterer than the greenest bitter gourd. Her favorite topic of conversation is how everyone (no exceptions) in her life have only exploited, ruled over and hurt her in various ways - which does not make for good conversation. The bitterness is so pervasive that she cannot appreciate all the good in life. It shows in her face - her perpetual expression while at rest is that of a person who has just downed a dose of the bitterest kashaayam. In all the years I have seen her, I don't remember her producing more than a single halfhearted "heh-heh" at the funniest of jokes (Ladies do not guffaw). 

Both these women are not foolish, silly or evil. They are both pious, good and generous people and I admire them both. They do have another thing in common - they both don't have good friends. My relative became a housewife right after graduation and has not kept in touch with her old friends except very occasionally. But now she opens up to me and has made a few friends of her own and is getting to be more sociable. The older lady I spoke of had a good career and is retired. But she does not keep in touch with any of her old colleagues or childhood friends - which I think is an important factor in keeping up a healthy mental attitude.

These are just two cases that I have noted. We have all seen that archetypal Indian mother who has to remind her offspring of the "9 months and painful labor" when she is ignored by them in her dotage. If they don't listen to that, then she enumerates the instances of her "unselfish slaving for their welfare". Well dear friends, I think it is much better to be selfish, assertive and happy to the end of life than be unselfish and end up bitter and complaining. I also think that it is very important to hold all precious friends close to your heart all your life.

Don't you agree?

Dec 5, 2014

A first time for everything...

Karthi was a bedlam of activity the whole of November. Why? Because Kala Chaarutha was gearing up for its first ever exhibition stall at a corporate event. The dining table was snowed under with paper clippings, metal findings and the occasional shiny rhinestone. 

 
There were few horizontal surfaces in the house where paper, bead or crochet jewelry were not reposing in various stages of formation. One weekend saw DH wandering disconsolately around with his open laptop in hand until he ended up in front of me. Of course, I cleared up some space for him immediately - but there WAS only just enough space to put down the laptop, not even the space for a coffee cup beside it. 


I also managed to rope in two people to help me. My cousin, to whom I had gifted a beginner's kit for quilling and had taken a class for came with her own wonderful creations to add to my repertoire. And my sis came in to act as cashier. We gathered at Karthi on the day before and were taking care of last minute things till the stroke of midnight! It was fun!


So there we were, on the morning of the 29th, setting out our wares in the grip of equal parts of trepidation and hope - .okay to be honest, 80 parts of trepidation to 20 parts of hope...


The good day had another surprise in store for us - we got "promoted" to a better location quite in the thick of the action and soon we were ensconced there...


Concentrating on the "product" left us little time for "decor" of the stall. I just had enough time in which to whip up a hand-written board for our little stall...


...which seeing our tagline - "All handmade, all with love" was probably more appropriate than a printed flex on a standee! Also, it served  to "mask" our billing station, leaving only the goodies out in plain view - a totally unintended effect, I assure you!

There will be no more pictures of the day, because once the people started coming in, we were too busy to take pictures of the action! And THAT is a good thing. Some came to stare, some to chat, some to try on and discard - but lots of people bought our things - which was pretty awesome an experience.  

At the end of the day, we all sent up prayers of thanks and walked off exhausted, but very happy with a cash box considerably heavier than when it came in the morning!

So far, so good!!! Besides my cousin and sister, I have DH to thank for a lot including making me believe that I could make enough pieces for display, for chivvying me all along and most of all, ignoring the dust bunnies all around Karthi because I had let the housekeeping slide in the last week! I'm still not sure whether my family got enough nutrition in that week, but since they all seem unharmed, I am relieved! 

Which does not mean that everything was perfect. I learned several good lessons in the process ranging from the variety, number and pricing of products to good display techniques. And those lessons can only come from experience - for which I am extremely thankful.

The only casualties of the exhibition are my left forefinger that is STILL sore after continually stretching yarn over the metal hangers (but to good effect because my earring organizers were completely sold out!) and my right arm that ached after all the wire cutting. But hey, what's a little pain in the face of all this joy of accomplishment?

So now on to learning more and making more....!

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