The Piano Practise’r’s

They go to the piano on days that are sad,

On days they feel happy, or to let out their mad.

On days that go well and on days they feel taxed,

Because, most important of all – they play to relax.

Listen to music for joy – not as homework.

Different genres and styles – it makes them receptive to new cultures and ideas.

They go to the piano on days they feel lonely,

Or when they need an escape when there’s too much company.

On days that are busy, it’s a minute at night.

Because playing the piano just makes them feel light.

More skilled at managing their schedule than most of their peers,

They develop these skills over time – learn to balance practise with study as well as work.

They practise daily through rain, or through hail or through sun,

Because they love the challenge of practise – they think it’s real fun.

Practise more when it’s busy, and on days they feel taxed,

Because, most important of all – they play to relax.


It’s odd to see so many students giving up hobbies during years when work or study get challenging. And see long term piano students practising more during these times.

I write this poem as a  piano teacher who teaches her students how to schedule, so that they practise daily, and their daily piano practise is relaxed.

And, as a piano practise’r’.

A visit to Dr Google

We visit the doctor once a year,

When we’re not feeling too good. Just to be sure all is clear.

The doctor tells us to have some tests,

But we decide to try lifestyle changes, and a little rest.

We raid the kitchen on Grandma’s advice,

Try home remedies and walk our way to a healthier life.

It’s haldi for colds or for throat infections,

Or raw garlic. It also works for high cholesterol.

Ginger for pain or a cold that won’t go,

Or a steam inhalation, to ease a sore throat.

Jeera and saunf, and add some ajwain,

A big spoonful of it followed by a big glass of water.

For better digestion and a good night’s sleep,

For allergies or the days that we’ve had too much meat.

And, lets not forget good old Dr. Google,

Or Bob & Brad, and their tips on youtube.

The places to go to for lifestyle advice,

That can ease back pain, and change the quality of daily life.

We’ll go to the doctor again next year,

For a reminder to live well, so we’re in the clear.

She’s the bottom of the barrel

 

She’s like the bottom of the pot, where the spoon scrapes.

When there’s less inside, to put on our plates.

The bottom of the barrel that bears the pressure,

When it’s filled to the brim and there’s no ease or leisure.

The support for the busy of everyone else,

And when she’s not well, the support for herself.

She’s not like her husband who gets his food done,

When the doctor advises lifestyle changes and more sun.

She’s not at the park with her friends like the old men,

Who have nothing to do and more time they can spend.

The support for the busy of everyone else,

And when she’s not well, the support for herself.

This is something the medical profession should consider,

And talk to Indian families still steeped in patriarchal traditions.

Because many men don’t do housework and some think it’s demeaning,

And they often don’t have the fortitude needed to handle children and difficult elderly senior citizens.

They need to wake up and offer support and caring,

And a doctor talking about this might make them more understanding.

Because she’s like the bottom of the barrel that bears the pressure,

When it’s filled to the brim and there’s no ease or leisure.

The support for the busy of everyone else,

And when she’s not well, often the ONLY support for herself.

Do you ever?

 

Do you ever

leave your house without your phone,

Call up somebody who lives alone?

Feel grateful for the friend who was there through the sad,

Let your maid have a day off when her back is bad?

Do you call up someone just to say hi,

Make time to look at the clear blue sky?

Talk to your kids and hear what they say,

Do you tell them a little about your day?

Do you wish your neighbour because you’re polite,

Or only when you have need and you think this is alright.

Do you pass her by when the need is gone,

And wonder why your children can’t find friendship with strong bonds!

Do you talk to your family – just chat and laugh,

Or reminisce about days that have long ago passed?

Do you teach your kids to spend time with the old,

 And form bonds that will anchor them when life gets cold?

Do you ever leave your house without your phone,

Call up somebody who lives alone?

Visit a friend when her day is cold and sad,

Let your maid have a day off when her back is bad?

Do you ever?


This poem has been published at allpoetry.com 

The musings of a Roaming Catholic

Do you believe in God but shun religion?

Feel that faith strong and quiet will shine out from within?

Jai Shree Ram or Praise The Lord,

Or Allah Hu Akbar, to me there’s just one God.

I can use any name but they all mean the same,

For me there’s only Jesus, and I can call him by many names.

‘Cos I’m a Roaming Catholic, and I read the Bible,

Or attend a satsang for help on the days that I struggle.

For the temple is inside of us, if we can only see.

And it’s our attitude and behaviour that can spread kindness, hope or greed.

There’s one thing we all should remember and accept,

That we WILL pay the piper for every debt.

The light is the same and it shines on us all,

And mixing religion and politics is going to lead to our downfall.


Satsang – a discourse on the Bhagavad-Gita.

I’m a Roman Catholic living in a multi-faith family and I often call myself a Roaming Catholic, because I borrow from all faiths when I see something good that helps me.

How to learn a new piano piece

 

Sight reading a new piece it’s always TOG,

Bit by bit else you’ll have to slog.

Go through the motions on days that it’s tough,

Because small bits of practise will make smooth out of rough.

Later it’s SEP ‘cos you’ll pick it apart,

Exploring aurals and technique till it gets in your heart.

Because music with meaning is what will bring joy,

And analysis and theory will become a new toy.

A tool to help you experiment,

With a little bit of improv – time well spent.

So let your practise have meaning and learn all the tools

That I teach you in class, it’ll help you with school.

To study much quicker – more independently,

And family support will help you keep your hobby permanently.

Practise and learn, have a hobby for life,

It will help you later in times of strife.

You’ll go to your piano and play out your struggles,

Till you feel you can go back relaxed and untroubled.


TOG & SEP are my short-forms for playing hands together and hands separately. Sight-reading means playing a new piano piece that you don’t know after a glance at it.

Can #Mentoo support #Metoo?

Why can’t #Mentoo help #Metoo?

Why can’t we have fair laws?

Since when does consent turn to rape,

Just because a relationship has gone sour?

Is it ok to deny any person the right to go?

Their right to leave, their right to choice and the right to say no?

It takes living with love, commitment and caring to make a happy marriage,

And marriage with coercion is behaviour our society should not encourage!

Why can’t #Mentoo support  #Metoo?

Why can’t we have fair laws?

Since when does consent turn to rape,

Just because a relationship has gone sour?

Minimalism – the way I want to go.

It brings me such joy to have less stuff,

To have less storage and feel it’s enough.

To have time to go out, feel the wind in my face,

And come home and sit in my favorite place.

To not have to struggle when the maid is on leave,

‘Cos cleaning is much quicker than it used to be.

It brings me such joy because less often means more,

And minimalism appeals. It’s the way I want to go.

Can we call out the woman who is filled with hate?

Can we call out that woman – the one who hates,

Who won’t support her sister until it’s too late.

Who gives support to the man who does women harm,

Even though she knows he’s the one in the wrong.

What is within her, what’s behind her thinking?

Is it her frustration because she’s had no freedom?

‘Cos nobody helped her fight for her rights,

Fight for the freedom to have some say in her daily life.

Or, did she live in a box that she created,

Because a woman’s pointless suffering is often encouraged and appreciated?

Can we call out the woman who is filled with hate,

‘Cos she needs us to help her before it’s too late.

The Maid

She goes on leave for just 15 days,

From the 15th of Feb, till the 15th of May.

15 and 15 and add some more,

Accept that she’s gone and she’ll knock at your door.

15 times “x” – ‘cos she has a long way to go,

And you’d rather wait than employ someone you don’t know.

It’s just 15 days – you know she needs a break,

But what you don’t know is how long she will take.

Menopause – Let education be the way to freedom

Menopause is the hormonal change that women face when their bodies are no longer able to bear children.

It’s a time when many women face drastic changes in their energy levels and need rest, in order to bounce back.

  • My post talks of the need to open up a discussion on these issues.
  • The video below was taken at a poetry session I participated in, where I talk about cultural issues that can deprive women of rest and support, from their husbands and families, at this time when they so desperately need it.
  • The end of my post has links to support sites for menopause and surgical menopause.

Let’s talk about this topic so that there’s knowledge and awareness. Let us let menopause do what it’s supposed to. Relieve women of that monthly discomfort/ tiredness/pain and let their bodies build up the strength and stamina they will need to build strong bones despite the lower levels of estrogen that accompany this phase.

Let us let menopause lead women to freedom.

Menopause – the thing we don’t talk about here in India

Menopause is a secret.

Many women don’t know much about it until it hits them.

And the busy of today often leaves families ill prepared to support the woman who has always been THEIR support system.

Women here in India don’t talk openly about issues relating to menopause, and many seem to have forgotten the simple life-style changes that are needed to make this time a journey to freedom.

For some families, a visit to the gynaecologist is considered a “woman’s issue” and men don’t get involved. And this often deprives women of support from their husbands or partners, something they desperately need at this stage in their lives.

Many Indian women just don’t know enough about menopause, to know when they need to visit a doctor. To know that it’s important to have a doctor who has both the qualifications and the experience with helping women through this stage of life.

Older women who have not been able to help themselves often freeze and change the subject when younger women try to talk to them.

I’m talking about this because I think opening up this subject is the only way to help women who are struggling. And help them know that it doesn’t need to be this way.

Link : An article from webmd that describes what menopause is. 

Here’s some poetry relating to cultural ideas that affect the quality of family support for menopausal women

Surgical menopause

This is menopause as a result of removal of the ovaries. It’s a more sudden menopause than the natural one, where ovaries gradually slow down the production of oestrogen. I don’t want to talk about this in detail, because I’m not qualified to answer questions.

Instead, look at the websites below, if you need more support than your get from you surgeon or doctor. Both have online support groups for surgical menopause, as well as menopause in general.

https://www.hystersisters.com (This support group seems to be limited to Australians).

https://surmeno.blogspot.com/p/introduction.html (Indian women can join the forum here for more support).

Please use these sites wisely and always approach medical issues with the guidance and treatment of a qualified doctor.


Coping with Hot Flashes

A lot of women who read this post spoke about how they’re struggling with hot flashes, so I’ve added this section.

Tips to make hot flashes easier to live with :

  1. Drink enough water.
  2. Probiotics help with a lot of post menopausal issues. Chass, an Indian remedy for coping with very hot weather, also helps with hot flashes. It’s a mixture of homemade/probiotic dahi or curds with water – you could add a pinch of salt, fresh ginger paste, coriander or mint leaves and chia or basil seeds if you wish, or just have it plain. Another is apple cider vinegar – it’s nice as a salad dressing. Lots of recipes online if you search.
  3. Wear clothing that’s cool and allows the body to breathe. Cotton, linen or mull fabrics are nice. A new fabric that combines flax and cotton is pretty cool too. Check out labels if you can’t judge fabric by look and feel, because many cotton fabrics have elastane and lycra blends which aren’t as cool to wear.
  4. Eat vegetables and fruit daily.
  5. Walk for at least 30 minutes daily. Exercise – walking in particular – will in the long run reduce the level of discomfort you feel when you have a hot flash. I believe that exercise improves the bodies internal ‘thermostat’ – whatever that mechanism is :-).

The small additions to your diet mentioned above, combined with exercise and cool clothing are likely to reduce your hot flashes, and bring down the level of discomfort you feel with them.

Stress, and your ability to cope with your daily life will impact your ability to exercise in the phase when menopause begins. Family support and understanding, as well as your attitude to accepting help and teaching your family to help you, will impact your ability to exercise and look after yourself.

It’s so important for every woman to know that she has the power to shape her environment so it works to support her when she needs it to.


Lets be more educated about menopause and lead the way to change.

Can we look at the rapist?

Can we look at the rapist – the one who did wrong?

Was it bad upbringing, social issues, or genes gone wrong?

Can we look at the man who hammers his wife,

And not be the support that bolsters his fake pride.

What is the cause of his hate for women,

His need or love for violence, or his horrific perversion?

Is it that he feels less? And what makes him this way?

Isn’t it time to look deeper and bring about some social change?

Do you want children so quick?

Do you want children so quick, or is it the pressure?

From family and friends who really should know better.

Who should let you do things at your own pace,

Take a little time so you have more savings and space.

Space in your schedule to spend time with your child,

And savings, so one of you can be home for a while.

‘Cos the early years are so important,

To the quality of your child’s education and emotional development.

You’ll have probably had a big fat Indian wedding,

Started your marriage with little or no savings.

And much as you’d like it, it just wouldn’t work,

If one of you worked part-time during your child’s early years.

I ask you to think, not to give in to pressure,

From family, friends, and acquaintances who really should know better.

Being a parent takes time spent with sense, love and patience,

And a lack of time with your child often isn’t the best situation.

Should you have children quickly, or should you wait?

Take more time, settle down. Plan, save and make space.

Space in your schedule to be home with your young child,

Have faith that what’s meant will be given to you when it’s time.

I urge you to think, and wait till you’re sure,

Plan to be a parent your child will know.

‘Cos a child is a gift and needs love and care,

Don’t miss out on that because you’re never there.

Do you regret having that big fat wedding?

Would the money have helped you out of this situation?

Or do you want no children, but can’t take the pressure?

From family, acquaintances and friends who really should know better.

Do you feel children are a choice that you don’t want to make,

But have done so to get everyone off your case?

Make hay when the sun shines bright

We must make hay when the sun shines bright,

Let our dreams change hue in the silver of the night.

We must take a turn when the path is blocked,

And explore the lanes we usually do not.

For the path that’s familiar might lead us away,

From roads we must travel to help us find our place.

We must use cover that suits the weather,

Wear cotton when it’s hot, greet the rains with a bright umbrella.

Walk in the sun till it warms our skin,

And makes our hearts happy so we smile from within.

We must be open, have a mindset for growth,

Get into the water and go with the flow.

We must make hay when the sun shines bright,

And let our dreams change colour in the silver of the night.

WE must be the change and let life lead us on,

To fields of plenty and the warmth of the sun.

The stages of my life

It used to be Baby, ‘cos they saw I was young,

The one they looked after when her parents weren’t around.

Then, it was Didi – the elder sister,

A young adult woman without a ‘Mister’.

But 2 years of marriage and that was all gone,

Then I became Bhabhi, their sister-in-law!

Now things have changed and there’s grey in my hair.

More on my middle, and some signs of wear.

I’m Auntie and my age gets me more respect,

For I’m older and wiser – at least that’s what they expect.

The years will go by and things will change,

I might someday be Naani – that’ll be a different stage.

Dear India, Please pray.

Please pray for our leaders to walk in the light,

Whether they do on their own, or because they’re forced to – either is alright.

Pray for us all, that we can be the pressure,

That we hold on to our values, and let honesty be our measure.

Pray that we care for the ones who’ve got less.

Look outside ourselves and see their distress.

Let us pray for ourselves, that WE walk in the light,

Be the change, be the spark, that will light up the dark night.

Let us pray for our families, the way we live in our homes,

Not let a love for money, status and power shape who we become.

Pray for us all, that we can be the pressure,

That we hold on to our values, and let honesty be our measure.

Please pray for our leaders to walk in the light,

Whether they do on their own, or because they’re forced to – any of these is alright.

Because I know that success will follow

Dear Student,

I’m asking you to make an effort.

I’m not asking you to succeed, but to just go through the motions to start with.

Because I know that success will follow.

Because I know, that someday you’ll move on and be independent in learning music.

I’m asking you to try, knowing you might struggle a little,

And I’m asking you to embrace that struggle.

To not let the lack of immediate success worry you. This is ok.

Because I know that you will someday look back and be glad.

Because I know that trying to learn something new for just one minute a each day,

Will change the way you think.

And because I know that someday you will embrace challenge.

Because I know that learning the piano challenges every pianist, amateur or professional.

It’s a challenge even, for the student with small goals.

Because I know and understand that challenge – it’s the way it is for me.

Because I know that embracing the challenge will help you keep learning, and stick it out long enough to embrace the joy.

Freedom

 

Freedom is a walk in the warmth of the sun,

A fridge well stocked and dinner that’s already done.

Freedom is some time with nothing to do,

But have coffee or chai in the evening with you.

Freedom is the right to express my opinion,

That’s tied to a duty to have respect for your feelings.

Freedom is the quiet that sings through the noise,

And the happiness I feel when I hear your voice.

Freedom is the idea that we can both be different,

And yet live together – a happy and peaceful family unit.

Freedom is a right that comes with a duty,

To listen, acknowledge and have regard for your opinion.

Freedom is a walk in the warmth of the sun,

A fridge well stocked and dinner that’s already done.

Freedom is an evening with nothing to do,

But play the piano and wait for you.


To Michael.

Celebrating 20 years of marriage, caring and freedom. Because the right to free speech starts at home.

Men-Oh-Pause

 

Men-Oh-Pause, give your wives a break,

Don’t get up and leave them to wash up the plates.

They’re on their feet before every meal,

Cooking and washing and keeping the home clean.

They won’t cook once daily ‘cos you want your meals fresh,

And I think you know that they really need some rest.

Women-Oh-Pause, just stop and think.

Are busy lifestyles driving you to the brink?

Long working hours, then a fancy vacation,

When you all need to work less, and can have a nice lazy stay-cation.

Men, do some housework. It will keep you fit,

And your blood sugar levels might even come down a bit.

Women slow down before you get older,

Set routines that help family have time together.

People make time, slow down the pace,

So you have memories that will put a smile on your face.


Because the busy of today, along with rigid gender roles, often lets women down at times in their lives when they most need support. Yes, one of these times is menopause.


The lines up to really need some rest, are a reference to rigid gender roles, fixed ideas on cooking, and patriarchy. These thoughts also apply to anyone who doesn’t help with chores, or is rigid about fresh food to the extent that the home manager gets no rest.

The rest of the poem is not gender specific and applies to all. I wanted both men and women to be a part of it and I wanted to mention women because I’ve specifically mentioned men. So I’ve added them alternating gender and then followed with ‘people’.

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