A Jumble of Excess

I have an indefatigable sweet tooth for supporting the underdog.

Take, for instance, stem roses. No, they’re not the underdogs. They are the underdoggers. Other flowers almost never get a chance on the edgewise, what with the well-known popularity of these cornucopias of divinity. And this has almost always helped me indulge my sweet tooth mentioned above. But that’s not all — I didn’t think much of roses, especially the ones that make it to the bouquets. Until very recently, that is. If roses were people, I thought,Β  the very elegant stem rose would be a classy, beautiful, snooty, vain, middle-aged woman. Not my type. (Except the middle-aged bit — middle age is a necessary evil, I’ve realised with time. But I digress.)

You must understand that it makes me uncomfortable to choose anything. It might be because this essentially neutral brain of mine feels alarmed at choosing one over the other. It is actually over the other that discomfits me. In the case of roses, I have found a comfortable position.

Climber and wild roses are, to me, like that person who brings in life wherever they go. My special liking for these varieties helped me begin to see a stem rose-person in a different light. When I look at it now, I realise that the snootiness I see there is, in fact, none of my business. I can just choose to not be around it, because I have life-bringers to choose instead. So, after all these years of mind-rallying against certain roses because

a. I want to support the underdog instead

b. these certain roses aren’t my type

I could stop the spinning caused by choosing over, because I am choosing instead. It was just a matter of one word, and there is now an indescribably wonderful sense of peace in some tiny corner of my mind. I can even see the classiness and elegance sometimes, instead of the vanity.

Phew.

But not so fast! Most of this strange mind of mine is still on a continous spin of choosing, not choosing, supporting, rejecting. It buzzes frantically for the longest time,Β  and then short-circuits, my poor mind. And then all you can see is a Jumble of Excess.

Superior beliefs

Is there anything like a superior belief? Belief, in my definition, is interchangeable with faith. And faith, for all sensible creatures, should build and create peace. As long as it does that, its superiority is self-evident. To believe that the tangent of your faith is the only superior one is a folly. And, sadly, our world is seething with it. The religious, economic, social anarchy in not just my country, but yours, too is a proof of just this one apparently small mistake. If I look closely, I am on the verge of following this erroneous path of self-promotion at least a dozen times everyday. I quail at the thought of the sheer number of people sitting in all corners of this world, believing that theirs is the mightiest — a dozen times a day. No wonder people lose their minds and then go on to produce peace-annihilating bombs in their kitchens, run governments, control religious institutions, harp about human rights, and make monetary policies.

If God, financial robustness, or social harmony were to be acquired by the belief of one self-promoting sect, we would have reached Utopia in the Middle Ages.

The Lovable and The Lovable

Moti, our peace-loving dog, isn’t aware that people fight to protect what’s dearest to them. He likes to protect his territory, but looks askance if he’s faced with aggression that’s willing to bare its sharp teeth at times.

Bulu, our assertive dog, likes to play as long as it’s not yet time to retaliate to a challenge. When faced with even the slightest bit of aggression or threat to his territory, he knows and sees nothing but a fitting reply to it.

We love them both, of course. But differently. Bulu’s boisterous play time is our time of joy and heart-overwhelming love. Moti’s gentle licking or companionable pawing is for us an assurance of life. To choose one over the other would be difficult, but to not choose one instead of the other for what they’re best at giving would be impossible.

Absorbent?

Turkey invented the Turkish towel, havalu, to indulge a rich bride before her wedding day. The Ottoman Empire knew how to luxuriate in the finest of things, as those of us who have used these pieces of fine craftsmanship know already. Such softness, such absorbency. Such weight, such thickness.

The Indian sun is enthusiastic most of the time, in most of the places, so the thickness of a Turkish towel wouldn’t be much of a problem — most houses don’t have laundry dryers, the sun ‘s heat, which is aplenty, does the job beautifully. (And oh, the divine smell!) But absorbent? The Indian towel, known as gamccha in most Hindi-speaking parts, is handwoven cotton, without the piling. It absorbs, and then dries quickly, even in monsoons. Where does the thick, piled, heavy Turkish dream stand? Well, to me, nowhere. But not to most, only because it is said that the Turkish towel is the ultimate in luxury.

To decide whether to choose or reject one of the most important pieces of cloth on the basis of fashion and trend is nothing but the wretchedness of an indiscriminately absorbent mind.

Act with reserve

India has held its head up high through centuries of organised division of people on the basis of their birth — caste to be exact. The head has remained high despite all evidences against the pertinence of this system initially started to categorise with the intention of delineating the professions, privileges, and responsibilities on the basis of skills and expertise, and not birth. For hundreds of years now, the caste system has become rigid, intolerant and downright nonsensical. But apparently not for long.

In 1993, a mandate proposing educational and social equality of the ‘backward classes’ was implemented. The Mandal Commission was met with enthusiastic jubilation by the said classes, matched only by the outrage of the ‘upper’ ones. The Commission is designed to give reservation of educational seats and professional jobs to the classes that have received little or no educational, professional and hence social facilities over time — just on the basis of their caste.

It seems justified on paper. These people have had enough of discrimination, it is time the discrimination moved in their favour.

____________________________

I could go on with all that’s churning in my head, but I am going to wait. I am going to wait for a wild, or climber rose to show me I can keep my sanity amidst all this involuntary spinning of thoughts wanting to oust the vain, and the snooty. Oh, and also the blind.

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34 thoughts on “A Jumble of Excess”

  1. As these and countless other ideas swirl in your mind, it may all seem and feel like a jumble of excess to you. But here you’ve written a clear and insightful essay that ties together roses, towels, caste, the personalities of dogs, and social competition. The world would instantly be a safer and more enjoyable place if we could all comprehend what you’ve already accepted: that each of us can prefer our ways without demeaning and destroying the ways of others. This is beautiful, my friend.

    1. You’ve said it much more succinctly than I could ever dream of saying it, Charles — “each of us can prefer our ways without demeaning and destroying the ways of others.”

      Phew. And to think it took me a thousand words to try, but not say it at all..

  2. This is powerful and drives the emotion of the reader. The work is masked behind the lovely pictures and descriptions of the flowers…but its meaning is deeper.
    There are different people in the world…everyone in not the same…having parts that make them special…respect that…do not try to change or destroy that
    beautiful
    Jaye

    1. I have this inherent tendency to mask, Jaye. I am not sure it is the best thing, but it happens so often, that I’ve become used to it. It can be tiresome for the reader, and I am happy that you don’t feel so.

      Thank you for coming here. I have great respect for how you see this world.

  3. Priya, I greatly appreciate your eloquence. Thank you for this food for thought, or rose for thought, as it were. Choosing over vs. choosing instead. Very interesting. The towel – one vs. the other – was brilliant. (Easily understood by me and my simple mind.)

    Thank you. I look forward to the thoughts triggered by the climbing rose.

    1. The happy thing about writing, and indeed, reading literature, Lenore, is that the written work is open to interpretation. I am grateful that you found time and patience to go through this article that’s full of symbols and hidden comparisons, which I know can test interest, concentration and patience.

      Your simple mind is a valuable tool that brings out unique material. Treasure it, Lenore.

      http://lenorediane.com/2011/06/03/joe-and-his-friend-pillar/

  4. Priya, I love your posts because they truly make me pause. After I read your words and have time to think, I have to come back to reread all the points you’ve made (and tied together beautifully!)

    I wonder if the world will ever achieve this “utopia”? Will we ever look past our differences and realize they aren’t what separates us? What is it that makes us humans cling to that false sense of “I’m better than you”? As you said, “self-promotion”. The “I, me, mine” is what drives us. And this is our downfall. What truly helps me is I try to remember my desires and beliefs are just one small part of me. That I am connected through others spiritually, on a different level and plane than the material. I, you, everyone is from the same source in the universe (not to get all mystical, but I’ve been doing extra meditation this week) I suppose I’m confusing myself more now. But thank you for such a thought-provoking post yet again.

    1. It is the confusion that leads some of us to a teensy bit of order, Darla. I know for sure that you are well on your way, for in these words you have typed, I do not see any confusion. You have set a clear path for yourself, and have thus reached halfway, which is much more than what most of us will ever accomplish.

      I think I’ve mentioned it to you before that I’ve tried to meditate a number of times, and met with varying levels of success — mostly very rudimentary. So, I have considerable respect for your routine. I know exactly how much it takes to get there.

  5. Your use of symbols is a gently creative ride down a velvet encased tunnel. Your message greets me as I land on a plush cushion – covered with a Turkish towel covered with rose petals. You are a delight, Priya.

    I’ve come across a concept that says there is no “better” in the world – only “different”. It’s a discipline to think in terms of “different” even though it is refreshing, kind, and non-judgmental. Differences season life, but seasoning can be overdone. I’m trying to learn how to find the seasoning that brings out the essence. That’s when I know the proportions are appropriate. Not better, but delectably different.

    1. Amy, it is interesting that you liken differences with seasoning. I’ve been thinking of it since yesterday, but can’t pretend to understand it. Is the seasoning changing the essence of the whole dish? Differences do, do they not? Change the definitive being of the person? I’d be grateful if you tell me about this. It sounds such wonderful a concept, I’d like to know more!
      Thank you for adding another idea into all that’s spinning in my head, Amy!

  6. Very well written post, Priya, tying all sorts of concepts together with a truly personal perception. Roses as the binding factor, the triggering factor. Interesting. Something to think about some more as are all your posts.

    For me, roses remind me of my mother as in my childhood home the garden was full of roses. I came to know roses for their wide range of colours, the way the colours changed within each petal let alone each bloom, and the scent. Stem roses, to me, have heady scents…. one can see and smell them from a long distance so maybe this equates similarly with your take on them. Curiously, my husband mostly loathes roses because they have thorns… and yet he bought me a miniature rose which, once I’d stopped trying to grow it indoors, got well and is now almost constantly in flower.

    Are there other flowers that bring to your mind the divisions in society and religion? Is it only roses?

    1. It is amazing how seemingly innocuous things bring in such important memories, Val.

      I can’t say any other flower reminds me of human associations, really. I suppose it’s only the stem rose. When I look at other flowers, I normally look at nature as it is. Perhaps with one occasional exception: a tulip sometimes reminds me of a court jester.

        1. Actually, it is a tulip that has purple in it. Any purple tulip. Or any tulip with purple in it, preferably with some striation. It takes all kinds, wouldn’t you say? πŸ™‚

  7. Hi Priya,
    I’m trying to catch up on my reading and am glad I started here.
    Like Val, roses make me think of my mother. She’s a stem rose person, not a climber rose, but I can’t really tell you why. At her funeral we all – i.e. her children and grandchildren – threw a long stem red rose (as in your top photo) on top of her coffin before we added the earth.

    1. Rosie, a big hug to you.

      I can tell you why stem roses remind me of haughtiness and vanity. I have seen enough people in my life, who get carried away with the praise they get for their good looks, virtues, strengths. A stem rose, as perfect as it is, is a quick reminder of such a person. The sheer beauty of a budding red rose is, to me (sometimes), an alarm bell, which rings in a possibility of a corruption of humility. I am wrong, of course. And am proud to say that these feelings have mellowed down as I mature. One learns.

      Your mother must be proud, and happy. I wish you and all of your family a sense of peace.

  8. “Superior Beliefs” – that section got to me. I wish we all could live happily and openly in our acceptance that other beliefs have merit – and come to revel in ours and other’s Inferior Beliefs.

    1. It’d be a right party, wouldn’t it, SDS? A celebration of Inferior Beliefs, supported by the Superior ones. But who would decide which to put where?

  9. Hello My Dear Priya,
    ‘Faith’ – I have a bit of trouble with that word….
    It seems to imply belief through emotion, without proof. Most religions, and crazy prejudices, (like the caste system), are based on some sort of ‘faith’ or other.
    Me, I like the word ‘knowledge’ – with a big lump of ‘proof’ standing behind it in the bright sunshine…

    1. You’ve started a debate in my head, Dave.

      Faith or belief based on emotion has to somewhere be based on truth (knowledge, if you will) as one sees them. To each, his/her faith or belief is justified on the basis of their subjective proof. No?

      Or do we simply see faith and belief (sometimes leading to now-redundant concepts like religion and casteism) as figments of a weak mind?

      1. Mm… “Belief based on emotion has to somewhere be based on truth as one sees it” – oh, I’m not sure I could go along with that my dear P.
        A person might truly believe in scary ghosts in the night because some nutty parent once told them that there were such things, and that they really should be afraid of them…
        I don’t think it’s about ‘weak’ minds, I think it’s more about conformity in a particular culture, and the discouragement of people having open minds…

        1. Well, you’ve got me there. Many people do believe in ghosts and talk of hauntings and spirits — to them there are enough proofs to corroborate this theory. But we know better, don’t we?

          ‘Open minds’ is what we need in this world, Dave. And I agree with you one hundred percent that we take decisions, make perceptions to conform to the current, particular culture.

          The mind-jogging continues, though. Solution! Where is the solution?

          1. When you say “We know better” I don’t know if you are being ironic or serious…
            I hope I don’t trample on your feelings with my hard-hearted, sceptical, rationalism…
            I think that belief in Gods, spirits, witches, ghosts, etc is holding humanity back big time… The universe is fantastic enough without all that tosh…

          2. You’d never trample, Dave. Just because we do not agree about faith, religion and belief and all the ‘tosh’ (I’ll get back to you about that when the time is right) does not mean we can’t sound each other out with our ideas.

            “We know better” was serious, but now that you point it out, it could’ve been ironic as well. Darn, missed the opportunity, didn’t I?

  10. Priya, i am unable to articulate in words how much i could identify & relate with the initial part of your post.. as also the end. At times, i caught myself smiling because of the crazy similarities it had with the inside of my head !!

    I am so glad i found your blog…..

    1. I am so glad we found each other, too, AIT. It always helps to know the spinny things are not just in your own head. πŸ™‚

  11. I hope you forgive me while I stand up and applaud. *Stands up and applauds.*

    Okay, now that’s done, let me compliment you verbally on this beautiful piece of writing you’ve produced. I feel like you’ve articulated many of my own thoughts and ideas, for which I thank you.

    I hope you don’t mind seeing me around here more often :).

    1. Ah ha! Another kindred spirit. I like blogging, I really do. And I might even welcome you here often if you applaud my efforts this way, now and then. πŸ™‚

      Welcome, SI.

  12. priya…how well you have articulated what most of us feel and go through…lovely piece of writing…enjoyed your insights….looking forward to more such thought provoking writings…cheers

  13. Priya, as usual you have cleared a precious view for me. After leading me gently through the garden to the trough of thought you reveal the real message…” believing that theirs is the mightiest β€” a dozen times a day. No wonder people lose their minds and then go on to produce peace-annihilating bombs in their kitchens, run governments, control religious institutions, harp about human rights, and make monetary policies.” And yes, why doesn’t anybody realize that if there was ONE RIGHT WAY, we’d have figured it out by now and moved beyond the argument?

    I like changing the one word …instead for over. It seems to have an equalizing ring to it.

    I have always poo pooed long stemmed roses also. I much prefer less prim and proper blossoms, like daffy’s or tulips or daisys. Wild and climbing are good too, and non of those flowers are as darn fussy as long-stem roses which seem always to attracts bugs or fungii. (At least in my neck of the garden.)

    BTW: I’ll bet multiple choice questions drive you nuts! πŸ™‚

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