Sunday, February 20, 2011

An evening of mixed fare

A couple of nights ago, I had a wonderful experience performing at Mahabalipuram with some other dancers. Five of us, dancers from the Chidambaram Academy of Performing Arts, students of Chitra Visweswaran, had been invited to perform at a conference for cardiologists and thoracic surgeons. None of us minded the inordinate delay in beginning the performance that evening, since we were on the seashore, watching the orange orb of a sun setting on one side even as a full moon rose on the other, over the sea, like a shimmering silver coin bringing news of abundance.

This blogpost is not about the performance, but about the drive back from Mahabalipuram. The driving was unbelievably rash. On both the drives to and from Mahabalipuram, our drivers, on hire from a travel agency for this conference, we,re extremely reckless. Their style basically, was to rush through any available stretch of the road at great speeds while honking continuously, then come to a sudden halt in front of whatever vehicle was in front of us, honk non-stop until he or she gave us way. The driver who took us to Mahabalipuram was sort of polite, so he obliged me after I requested him, for the third time, to drive slowly. The person who drove us back was a notch over the earlier driver when it came to rash driving. It was past 10 pm, and it was alarming the way we were being driven along the East Coast Road from Mahabalipuram to Thiruvanmiyur, a stretch that witnesses more than its share of accidents.

I must have requested him at least a dozen times to slow down. For the first few times, he smiled and made an appearance of slowing down, only to pick up mindless speed minutes later. After that, my requests met with a patronizing advice not to be scared. Then I had to be firm. I have personally known people who have either been fatally injured or killed in accidents on the ECR. Besides, I felt it need not even be about the possibility of an accident. Rash driving puts the passengers on a weird anxiety mode, and if they request the driver to slow down, he should consider it. With the risk of getting into an unpleasant argument, I told him firmly to slow down right away. He refused! He said that he knew what he was doing. I told him we did not care about that, we just wanted him to slow down. He said the people who'd hired his services for the conference constantly called him on the phone to ask him to get here and there; that made him rush. I told him I would speak to those people and explain that they should not be rushing him about like this. Then I did exactly that. I called someone who was part of the conference and requested him to make sure the drivers were not under so much stress.

All of this escalating nervous energy in the van reached its crescendo when we saw the vehicle in front us, another speeding van, hit a cat who chose that inopportune moment to cross the road. We all screamed in unison at the sight of the poor cat run and tossed over by the van. It was all just a flash. Both the vans were going so insanely fast that in just a matter of seconds we were far away from that spot. It took us all several minutes before we could regain composure. By then, our driver had slowed down, too.  Just a little. There was something very disconcerting in the fact that it took him just forty minutes to get us from Mahabalipuram to Thiruvanmiyur.  

Bizarre as it may sound, I have not been able to stop thinking about that cat. I do not know if she had a miraculous escape or was killed. Either way, I feel connected to her.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Detox

Now that most of my friends know about my alleged New Ageyness J, I don’t have much to hide!

There is a little process of letting go that occurred to be sometime ago. It helped me a lot, and in sharing it with some close friends, I realized some others might find it helpful too.

Recently, when I was caught in some drama of my own and was very confused, I badly needed some exercise that would help me release some negativity that was beginning to show up from within me. I needed more than a mere temporary distraction. I also did not want the usual process: getting bitchy and cynical about it and blaming it on something or someone, thus relinquishing responsibility for my own stuff. At the same time, I felt that this was going to be rather big, and that I was going to need some definitive process for doing this myself.

It was while endlessly ruminating on these that a process occurred to me. I am sure it was a product of a lot of reading, thinking and listening I have been doing for a while now. It sounded good to me, and I worked with it. Here is it how it goes.

The fundamental purpose was this: to regain peace. And to do that I knew I had to allow whatever toxicity that was welling up inside me to surface, and then to release it. But, with the benefit of past experience with this kind of stuff, I knew this was easier said than done. In all likelihood, I would start judging myself harshly for all that I would get to see coming from within me. I also knew that I might give in to the easy way out – blame game. So this process, guided by four principles, really helped me this time. Here they are:

(1)   Love and compassion are the only things that will see me through this, see me through anything. And that has to begin with myself. I am not going to judge myself no matter what I see when I take a good look within.
(2)   I will hold up to light whatever comes up, and release them. I will not be selective. I will not hold back some and release some. I shall have no favourites among these toxins.
(3)   When I see my thoughts about other people surfacing, I will not resort to blaming them. No blame. The only thing to do with them is to tell these thoughts, “Thank you for your visit, but I need you to go now. We are faultless.”
(4)   No matter how painful this process turns out to be, I will remember that I am not alone, I am guided and helped. Also, this is not an endless tunnel. I am working towards peace.

If you have a similar process or if you have one of your own and you are willing to share, please do. If not here, you can email me at