Thursday, February 25

East-West Story: The Parallel Lives of Two World-Class Dancers

Did I mention how much I love your dancing? I peek through the doors and watch you twirl and pirouette and spin and and and. Your face is a tight concentrated expression of controlled determination to do well. And I may be biased but you look ethereal compared to the other girls. You move lightly baby. That's a very interesting quality. I'm not sure you have seen this. 
There are people who walk through life as if they are bulldozers and wrecking balls. Like your baba. It's not so for you. You slip through life. You walk deliberately and delicately. Like you dance. Very much so. Slight. Coltish. Aware of what's happening. In your little world. And I feel like grabbing you and squishing you and hiding you in my arms and never letting you go. 
I've been to these dance shows. Dancing is fun. We don't have to know or learn how to dance. It's built in. Love it. Can't wait to see your next dance baby. 
Love you

East-West Story: The Parallel Lives of Two World-Class Dancers - SPIEGEL ONLINE
(via Instapaper)

Joy Womack is from California, Sergei Polunin from a poor city in Ukraine. One went East to pursue a career in ballet, the other West. For both, talent has proven to be a double-edged sword.
When she appears, the other dancers strike a quiet pose. She takes off, jumps and does a split mid-air in a swirl of white tulle. Her movements seem effortless, as if she requires no momentum at all — not even a chance to catch her breath. She imperiously raises an arm, liberating the others from their paralysis. They fall into line behind her and follow her steps, for she is Myrtha, their leader, the Queen of the Ghost Girls in the ballet "Giselle."
En pointe, with her head held high, the queen receives a round of applause. Then she glides away.
Backstage, she lets herself fall on a yoga mat, panting and sweating. After a short pause, she's back to being Joy Womack, a 21-year-old from Santa Monica, California. In her company, the Kremlin Ballet Theater, she is one of the select few who dances solo. She is the first American to perform here, behind the walls of the Kremlin.

Wednesday, February 24

Can identity be chosen or is it inborn? – Katharine Quarmby – Aeon

The answer is yes to both. 

Think about it. You guys were born and both of you inherited some identities immediately. Hindu background. Indian background. British citizenship and nationality. Male or female. Londoner. Suburban. And so on and so forth. 

And as you grow, you will keep on getting new identities and discard old ones. You may move to Paris so become Parisian. You may decide to become pastafarian so ignore and drop the Hinduism. And so on and so forth. There are two lessons to learn. 

One. Be supremely comfortable in what you are. Don't give a shit about what people say. You are what you are and are comfortable with it. 

Two. This is more interesting. You'll realise that people love to put other people into a box. As soon as they do, then they know how to react to you. But don't allow that. Force them to create a new box for you. For example, when people ask me where I'm from, I say I'm from Burma. Or I'll say I'm from Sweden. Or talking about religion, say you're a Jedi. People get confused. And don't understand. Don't allow yourself to be pigeonholed. It's fun. 



Can identity be chosen or is it inborn? – Katharine Quarmby – Aeon
(via Instapaper)

Alice, the heroine of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking‑Glass (1871), has many extraordinary encounters, but the one that's always stuck with me is her meeting with Humpty Dumpty, an egg-shaped being, balanced on a wall. He is annoyed when Alice calls him an egg, he tells her she should stop growing, and they end by arguing about the contextual meaning of the word 'glory'.

'When I use a word,' Humpty says, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty, 'which is to be master – that's all.'

As Alice walks away, Humpty Dumpty comes crashing to the ground.

How do I tell my son about death?

I've spoken to both of you about death many times. And it's quite a straightforward thing for me kids. Yes you will feel sad and will shed tears but I hope not. I have had nothing but joy with you two. So when I have to leave, I want you to remember the fun and happy times we had. And you will need to be strong for mamma and make her happy. Make her think of the happy times. 
Death is the final adventure kids. I'm a Hindu so I don't have that many psychological hang ups as Christians or Muslims or Jews do. Their religious worldview is based upon the fact that their existence ends when they die. This author is an atheist and still thinks that his life finishes at death. Not mine. I will be going on to do more.  There's more lives in store for me. More fun to have. More chips to eat. More mountains to hike. And more books to read. And more places to go. And and and. 
So no worries about death. It's fun. Just a gate or door to another life kids. The greatest adventure begins again. 
It was good seeing both of you Kannu. :) she's a lovely girl. Very nice and quiet. I hope you had a good time with her. 
Btw, we have a great book at home. The book of questions. It's a very powerful book to use to learn about the other person in your life. There are no right answers. Or all answers are right. And those answers tell you much about you and her. It's fascinating to learn about yourself and her. Try it out :) 

How do I tell my son about death? – Cormac James – Aeon
(via Instapaper)

I have a good arsenal of strategies to dip into when my five-year-old son tells me: 'Dad, I don't want to have a bath' or 'Dad, I don't want to go to school'. In fact, it feels like the past few years have been a schooling in communications and sales strategy, for a particularly difficult customer. But when he told me recently: 'Dad, I don't want to die', I found I didn't have a pitch. I didn't even have anything I wanted to sell.
I wish I did. I'd love to give him an answer that would completely quieten his anxiety, because, like most parents, I feel towards my child a duty of not only physical but also psychological care. My problem is this: I'm a card-carrying atheist, and I feel a competing sense of duty towards the truth. Two things that seem not just mutually exclusive but vigorously, irrepressibly, tomandjerrily antagonistic. Care versus Cruelty. Comfort versus Fact. Child versus Death.
I try to get him to talk, to see what exactly he thinks dying is, all the better to hear what he's frightened of, and to see if some sly fudge might be made that neither denies the problem nor sells him a lie. Sensitive plant, he shrinks at the slightest prod, and won't – or can't – voice anything but vague apprehension. The mere idea is a place he doesn't want to go. The one revealing hint comes in his off-hand question: 'When you're dead, can you still imagine things, like for dreaming?' 'Dead' for him seems to be Little Red Riding Hood in the wolf's belly, or Snow White in her glass coffin waiting to wake – not dead dead, just less alive than he is now, on account of something nasty. That's the worst his imagination can come up with, apparently, and it's an idea I'm inclined to let him play with, at least until I decide how best it ought to be corrected, if at all.
I consult friends – two trenches over, with kids of their own – to see what line they've sold about death, and how that went down. In every home, at every bedside, the children seem to have been told the same story: 'it' is something that will happen in a long, long time, in a strange land, far, far away. (I particularly liked my friend T's line, telling his son that it's not actually him, the little boy, who's going to die, but a very wrinkly, crotchety old man with the same name.)

Tuesday, February 23

Stranded on the Island of the Blue Dolphins: The True Story of Juana Maria


You might be interested in this amazing story. I was just amazed reading the story. Can you imagine? Living on an island for so many years? Its so much like Robinson Crusoe (have you read about him? - that's a fictional story though) but this story was so fascinating. Living alone in an island for so long. Nobody to speak to at all. And as it happens, Juana lost the ability to speak, but she would sing. I dont feel bad for her, she obviously had her life and was fairly happy, if we can think so...but really interesting.


Stranded on the Island of the Blue Dolphins: The True Story of Juana Maria
Feb 3rd 2016, 11:00, by Erin Blakemore

San Nicolas Island is a hell of a place to get marooned. Part of the archipelago of the Channel Islands off the California coast, it's windswept and largely barren—so much so that the U.S. Navy considered it a candidate location for the first tests of the nuclear bomb. It has a modern nickname, though: the Island of the Blue Dolphins. And the woman who inspired this book by Scott O'Dell, the granddaddy of all young adult historical fiction, still confounds historians.
She confounded her contemporaries, too. In 1853, men discovered her on San Nicolas inside a hut made of whalebones and brush. She was wearing a dress made of cormorant feathers sewn together with sinew. She had been on the island by herself for 18 years.

A photograph of a Native American woman, believed to be Juana Maria, who was the last surviving member of her tribe, the Nicoleño.