De-myth-ify: Matsyavatara (Part One)

Let’s talk about Hindu mythology and the story of the first of Vishnu’s 10 incarnations or Dasavatara, the Matsya or the fish, today. This is part one of a two-part series on the Matsyavatara.

In this myth, unlike in Greek mythology, I cannot just launch into the main story because it is far too complicated and far too confusing if you are not aware of the background in which it is set. This series is an attempt to simplify the story found in the Matsya Purana, and among the oldest stories in the eighteen major Puranas in Hindu literature. So without further ado, let us begin with somewhat of a prologue and set the scene for the story, hope you’ll enjoy it.

In Hindu mythology, time is considered cyclical and is divided into eras or Yugas. Each Yuga is supposed to be approximately 4320 million human years and equivalent to a day in the life of the Lord of Creation, Brahma. When evil overrules the good, there is Pralay or an apocalypse and a new Yuga begins afresh. Also at the end of every Yuga, Brahma goes to sleep, after a whole day of creation having tired him out. (Cmon, he earned that nap, let him have it, its been literal million years.) Brahma’s knowledge of creation came from the Vedas, which are the oldest religious scriptures of Hinduism and which he kept on his person and will be very important in this story.

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Lord Brahma, the Hindu god of Creation with the Vedas in his right hand.

Humans were becoming immoral day by day and the Satya Yuga was close to ending. (This immorality is by the standards of an era when people were the most honest they ever were or will be. So, you know. Go figure.)  Right on schedule, Brahma decided it was time for his ‘daily’ slumber and as he started to close his eyes and go to sleep, he yawned and the horse-headed demon Hayagriva came out of his nose, stole the Vedas and went and hid at the bottom of the ocean, thinking that no one would find him there. (Can you blame him? 95 per cent of the Earth’s oceans are still undiscovered, to this day. It was a good plan, you know, apart from the thieving and stuff.) Vishnu, the God of Preservation was worried by this development because if the Vedas were stolen their knowledge could not be used in the next Yuga which was about to begin. Since it was his job to ensure the preservation(of knowledge) for the next era, it was time for Vishnu to take his first incarnation and come to Earth and that is where our story, truly, officially, begins. (Finally.)

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Lord Vishnu, the Hindu God of Preservation

On Earth, there lived a man named Manu, who was very pious and devoted to Vishnu. He used to pray and perform penance to fulfil his lifelong dream of seeing Vishnu with his own eyes. One day, as he began his prayers at the river and took some water from it in his hands and was about to pour it back, he noticed a tiny fish in his hands. The fish was begging him to not put it back in the water as other bigger fish might eat him. (This is very ancient times, he can speak fish, its not a big deal) He decided to help the fish and took it to his house and put it in a small pot. When the fish outgrew the pot, he put it in a bigger one. Soon, it outgrew that pot as well and went on to outgrow every other pot in Manu’s home. So, he put the fish in the river. Then a bigger river. Then an even bigger one. Soon, this fish outgrew all the rivers and Manu put it in the ocean.

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When put in the ocean, the fish grew to the size of the ocean, a horn grew out of its head and it revealed itself to be Vishnu. Manu bowed in reverence and was overwhelmed to see his dream fulfilled. He asked him what the Lord wanted of him. Vishnu then told Manu that the Yuga was going to end in 7 days; there would be a great flood, and all life on earth would perish. He instructed him to build a big ship, take seeds of all the plants, male and female of all species of all the animals, and the Seven Sages on it. (The Seven Sages or Saptarishi are a big deal in Hindu mythology. They are considered the patriarchs of the Vedic religion) He also told him to bring the god of the snakes, Vasuki on the ship. (Did it remind you of a very famous story yet? If not, ‘Ill give you a hint. Think biblical.)Matsya avatar

Having given his instructions and completing one half of its mission on Earth the Matsya Avatar,a.k.a Lord Vishnu set off to the bottom of the ocean to find the demon Hayagriva and bring the Vedas back. That tale though is for the next part.

To be continued.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: This tale begins with the idea that time is cyclical. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

Life In The Time of Corona

Let’s talk about my life and experiences with the coronavirus pandemic today.

Let us begin at the very beginning: my birthday. I turned 21 on March 10, 2020, and my family was in the Corbett National Park, on vacation. There was not much talk of the virus there, except the sanitiser bottles provided at the reception and restaurant. It was business as usual. After all, there were 50 total cases in India, no deaths, some people had already recovered and they were only in cities, not a town like the one we were staying in. We came back to Delhi, where I go to University, and I realised that things were not okay when I saw the kind of panic and flurry of masks everywhere. New Delhi was debating locking down the city and closing all schools and colleges to stop the spread of the virus. In 2 days, my University was shut and I told my parents, who were going to Mumbai, our home, on the 16th, to take me along.

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Together, we came back on the 16th of March, armed with our masks, sanitisers, constant hand-washing and being very very careful. Less than a week after my birthday, things were so drastically different than what I could have ever imagined. I was home and have not left the house since. My University began online classes and I was, if possible, more exhausted by them than regular college. It was hard to learn through just the video because my teachers through no fault of theirs, were struggling with this new medium, the classes were published for longer hours, staring at a screen with earphones in for 8-9 hours a day was physically tiring and sitting with assignments after that made it worse. Though it was a rough time, I was busy. It made it easier to deal with things and major life changes like the whole country being on lockdown, the world suffering at the hands of the COVID-19 virus and being far from friends and loved ones.

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My semester officially ended on April 1st and finishing up all the assignments and stuff I was fully done with it by the 3rd. By this time, the country had 50 times the cases it did on my birthday, we were on a country-wide full lockdown, all flights had been completely stopped and, economy and humanity were both suffering. My college then decided to prepone our Summer Internships and think of the exams we would have ordinarily had when the situation “normalises”(So they hoped.So I hope, to this day.)It was made 4 weeks instead of 8 and was scheduled to begin from the 13th, giving me a 10-day ‘holiday’, in which I somehow had to conjure an internship in an environment where people were losing their jobs of many years. Eventually(and thankfully), I got into a company through my college and had an internship in the nick of time(Got my acceptance literally the day before we were supposed to start.)

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In my 10 day ‘break,’ I took the first day or two to chill, which was great but then I realised how the empty mind really is the devil’s workshop. I now had all the time in the world to stress and worry about the current situation, the fast-spreading disease, the people who were ill, the people who had died and the pandemic’s impact on the future, especially as someone who was supposed to find a job this year and graduate next year. All my internship plans had clearly fallen flat, and offers I was pursuing were withdrawn. It was a horrible time, mental health-wise. This is when I first began to be active with blogging again because it helped me cope and gave me something to do. I also made a bunch of mug cakes, made the viral whipped coffee(and realised I should not have coffee, ever) DIY decor things, did a good amount of housework and read some books. (You know, usual pandemic activities) I was always an introvert and would have gladly chosen to Netflix over going out to socialise pre- corona, but I was beginning to realise the value of social interaction, of my university, of being able to be surrounded by people your age.

After the break, I began my internship and my time was filled with meetings with your guide, meetings with my team, working on our project, reading and watching stuff to work on our project and other things that all come down to the project. I am about to finish with my internship and will then be occupied by writing reports on it, for my University. In these 4 weeks, however, I have watched quite a few shows with my family (like Downton Abbey and The Good Place, both of which I highly recommend), watched the news every night to hear about the current COVID cases count, began rereading the Harry Potter books(which I am documenting on my instagram so if you’re interested to join in!), had many baked goods(Thanks mom!) and wrote more blog posts than I have ever written in a month. Musings of A Whimsical Soul has never in the last 4 years(Except the very beginning where I was publishing posts ever two days like a maniac) had a twice a week posting schedule and blogging have become my escape, my recluse and my coping mechanism, yet again.

That brings us to now,2 months into lockdown, no end in sight, with 74K cases in the country, 4.28 M in the world(At the time of writing this post) and us as a world living through these extraordinary times and our new ‘normal’. Most of us have not lived through a pandemic before, the whole world has been brought to a standstill by one virus and we have all realised the value and delights of the good old ordinary life, the life I for one, so easily criticised before.

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I have to admit that I speak from a place of privilege. I am lucky enough to have a roof over my head, be able to eat and sleep and live with very little major change in my life, have an internet connection, not worry about losing my job, I am with my family, I am not at risk by the virus itself and so much more. I am highly and deeply privileged in these times and I would be remiss to not acknowledge it. My objective with this post was not to flaunt my luck but simply to tell my story, to share my highs and lows, to feel connected with all of you across the world, to pay my respects to the unfortunate loss we are facing, stand with all those who are fighting this terrible illness, to let you know that we are all in this together, even if our stories may be vastly different.

This is a much harder time for many of us, and the only thing I can say is, please help if you are privileged enough and able to, please understand what other people are going through, please be empathetic and please, be human. These are unprecedented times and it is in times like this that we realise just how fragile the world we have built is and how important it is to support each other. These are hard times, difficult times and we can only get through them together. Support local businesses and practice social distancing, if not for you and your family then do it for the essential workers risking their lives for all of us at the frontlines. Stay strong and be brave. Give yourself credit, and don’t feel the pressure to ‘hustle’ and be productive right now. That’s not to say do nothing, but we must change our definition of ‘productive’ to one that fits the new world we live in rather than the world we were in before.

Good luck, take care and stay safe!

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What is your COVID-19 story? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

De-myth-ify: Perseus and Medusa(Part One)

Let’s talk about some classic Greek mythology, the myth of the demigod Perseus and the gorgon Medusa, today. This is part one of a three-part series on Perseus and Medusa.

For the previous series of posts on Oedipus in the De-myth-ify series, click here.

This story, just like Oedipus’, is very typically Greek and begins with a prophecy. Acrisius, the king of Argos, was told by the Oracle of Delphi that his own grandson would kill him one day. (So, as you see, only a slight change in “grandness” from Laius’ predicament) Acrisius had only one daughter, Danae. Now, Acrisius was a reasonable guy and reacted reasonably, and decided to lock Danae up in a tall tower, away from the world, to ensure that there was no meeting or mating with people and consequently no childbearing in Danae’s future. (Laius understands. Family is hard, y’all. Especially in ancient Greece.)

However, it is common knowledge that Zeus has no chill. So, the king of the gods came to our damsel in distress in the most extra form of a golden shower through a crack in her roof and yet again, had a dalliance with a mortal which resulted in the hero of our story, the half-mortal half-god Perseus. Eventually, Acrisius caught on and realised that his plan of locking away his daughter forever did not work and he now had a demigod grandson to contend with. (Now now, at least Oedipus was fully mortal) He then proceeded to in the best dad move order both mother and child to be placed in a chest and thrown into the sea to die. (Seriously, this guy and Laius could have been best buds.)

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Danae,by Giovanni Battista.

Zeus, however, had no plans of letting them die and allowed the chest to reach safely to the island of Seriphus. Here, the chest was discovered by Dictys, the brother of the king Polydectes, and its occupants brought forth to him. Polydectes was not a great guy and he immediately wanted Danae to marry him and could not handle rejection. Dictys however, managed to conceal Danae and Perseus from him and allow them to stay on the island where Perseus received a hero’s education from Chiron the Centaur, teacher to heroes like Hercules, Achilles and Jason. (We like Dictys.What a great guy.)

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Eventually, Polydectes realised that Danae and Perseus had been saying in Seriphus all this time and realised that the only obstacle standing between him marrying Danae was her son Perseus, now a grown man who was very protective of her and would not allow her to be married to a god awful man like Polydectes against her will. (Seems reasonable, but we are talking about a man who refuses to see reason) Polydectes then had a genius idea that would allow him to deal with his problems once and for all, a la every teenager in a teen movie, by throwing a party.

Now, this party was not just some ordinary rager. It was a large banquet where it was customary for each guest to bring the host a gift. Perseus was unaware of this custom and asked Polydectes to name his gift and promised that he could not refuse. Polydectes finally had him in his trap and asked Perseus to bring him the head of the only mortal gorgon, Medusa. (Gasp!) And thus, Perseus set off on his dangerous quest, one which all heroes before him had been unsuccessful on and our story gets juicier.

But, wait. This is not just a one-character story, unlike Oedipus. It is now time for me to introduce the other character of our story, our “villain”, the monster Medusa. Medusa was one of the three Gorgons and the only mortal one among them. She was a beautiful woman with long flowing hair and a gorgeous face, unlike her siblings who were monsters by birth. This is the irony of the story of Medusa, for she eventually turned into the most feared and most awful monster of them all.

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Medusa was so beautiful that even the mighty sea god Poseidon could not resist her charms and impregnated her in the goddess of wisdom Athena’s temple. (Yikes.) Athena was livid and in her fury transformed Medusa into a hideous monster with bronze hands and wings of gold, like her sisters. Writhing snakes were entwining her head in place of hair. Her face was so hideous and her gaze so piercing that the mere sight of her was sufficient to turn a man to stone. (Damn Athena. You could have chilled a little.)And what of Poseidon, you ask? Nothing, he got off scot-free because he is immortal and couldn’t care less. So much for a mighty sea god, huh? Oh and also, she was confined to live in a cave with her sisters called the Gorgon’s Lair whose location was known to no mortal. (Remember this, this becomes relevant later.)

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The three gorgons at the Secession building in Vienna, Austria

And now, both our character’s timelines are caught up and here they are, Perseus on a reckless quest, Medusa with her stony gaze(Hehe) in her cave while their destinies are about to get a whole lot tangled. Get settled, the fun is just about to begin.

To be continued.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What do you think of the characters so far? Are there any favorites or least favorite ones? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

What do I write to you?

Let’s talk about what should we talk about today.

I write to you today about my utter dilemma about what to write about. Good heavens, I am sorry, that’s quite the beginning to the post; just throwing you in the deep end, no easing, no warning, nothing. Please allow me to explain as I walk you through my predicament.

Perhaps, after months of nothing, since I am suddenly showing up here now (I have been somewhat around on my Instagram, so do follow me there if you’d like to not be surprised by my sudden and erratic posting:@musingsofawhimsicalsoul) I should talk about what i was up to in these past few months. Since  I last posted in November, that would be exams in December, a very gruelling college schedule January onwards, a concussion(from a kick in the head, so quite the story), all the pre-internship things and my first ever job interview(with Google!) in February, turning 21 in Corbett National Park on a family vacation in March to finally today, April 1st, my last day of (now, online) classes, which gives me the time to write to you.

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Me with my surprise birthday balloons on March 10, it is so crazy how much things have changed in such little time??

Or maybe, I can’t post anything without addressing the current climate and situation that we all are dealing with. The COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on our lives, the lives we have already lost, the brave souls in essential services fighting to make our lives easier on the frontlines and just how much it infuriates me to see people not taking this seriously. Should I be cautioning you and spreading awareness about flattening the curve? Should I talk numbers and how anxious they make me as we look at the rising numbers every day from the midst of a 21-day lockdown? Should I talk about the fact that even as I say all this, I am feeling so incredibly guilty for how comfortable I am to be in my home with my family and living life with not much of a hindrance? Should I be asking you to think of the less fortunate, the ones who are affected the most? Should I ask you to donate, if you can, to food banks or to government funds, to aid small businesses, to think of the people in your employ or the ones you take rent from?

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The coronavirus curve we need to flatten, found on the CDC website.

Should I acknowledge my privilege in being able to sit down and write all this down for you? Or, should I talk about how scared I am of the uncertainty regarding our future, where the world we would be after this is over? I am scared of the economy I would be inheriting. How, as someone who is supposed to find a job in the upcoming year and has no idea what will happen with my internship the economic ruination this will bring terrifies me. Or perhaps, my hope that we all are kinder and value each other and just appreciate the little things much more?

Simply put, should I be talking about my fears for our present or the future? Or mundane things like how I am going to pass time now that my college is over? Perhaps, I should be distracting you from all this uncertainty and negativity, bring you my regular scheduled(Yes, I see the irony here.) content. Maybe you’ve had enough of all the negativity and just want to escape. So today, after 4 months of nothing, in the middle of a global pandemic, I ask you, What do I write to you?

THIS POST’S QUESTION: This is a unique post,the entire post itself is a question,so please,tell me,What content do you want to see from me? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

De-myth-ify: Oedipus (Part 3)

Let’s talk about some classic Greek mythology, the Sophoclean tragedy, Oedipus Rex(also called Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus the King) today. This is part three of a three-part series on Oedipus. This continues from where part two left off. If you haven’t read the previous parts, do go and read Part one and Part two before you continue here.

Now that the story is done, let’s talk about it.

Oedipus Rex has all the elements of a pretty classic Greek tragedy and is considered by many if not the greatest, one of the greatest Greek dramas ever written. The first in Sophocles’ Theban trilogy, I’m sure you’ll not argue with me when I say that the tale itself is pretty macabre. It has quite a few deaths; out of which two are suicides(Jocasta and the Sphinx), two are natural deaths(Polybus and of course, Oedipus himself) and god knows how many are murders(Laius, his charioteer, other people travelling with Laius, all of the Sphinx’s victims, the list goes on.) There is also a healthy dose of incest, patricide, possible intent to harm an infant, possible indirect infanticide, self-harm and what I’m positive is some sort of sadism(Or whatever you’d choose to call what the shepherd who dropped baby Oedipus off at Corinth, who knew everything did, by choosing to say nothing while Oedipus went off killing his dad and marrying his mom and then turning up at the very last minute to drop his dramatic reveal)

(Some of)The deaths in Oedipus Rex

This entire story banks on one of the most popular tropes of classic Greek dramas; the self-fulfilling nature of prophecies, seemingly triggered by its knowledge. Basically, the fact that the whole mess can almost always be traced to just one integral prophecy. If you’ll notice, whenever one of the characters finds out about the prophecy, they end up taking a drastic step which in their mind is preventing the prophecy but ends up ensuring that it comes to be. (Be it Laius trying to indirectly kill his child and ensuring his child wouldn’t recognise him in the future or Oedipus trying to go away from who he thought were his parents but actually ending up going towards his real parents and the many more times that it happens throughout the story, go on, read it again if you’d like. )

And before you fight me and say that the prophecy probably still would have happened, no matter what, I’ll have to tell you that I know that but still hear me out. What if Laius never knew about the prophecy and chose to raise his son himself and with love and then Oedipus would have at least certainly known who his parents were and would at least definitely not have married his mom even if the first half could not be averted. In my opinion, even the first half wouldn’t have happened simply if the characters did not know about the prophecy. Ah well, we can never know for sure, it is all speculation and it wouldn’t make for a good story, would it?

There is also the fact that if you look at every character, they are all victims of their fates, tied to their destiny. First, there’s Laius, cursed to fear his own child and live with the knowledge that his own child would be the cause of his death. Then there’s Jocasta, cursed to be widowed and to eventually marry her own son and beget his children. Then come, the King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth, Oedipus’ adopted parents cursed to have no biological children and then to be denied time with their adopted child because of his fears due to a prophecy that never referred to them. There are so many more characters to go into but the bottom line is the same: everyone is a slave to their fate. I mean, the apparent hero of our tale, Oedipus has it the worst of all, cursed to perform incest and patricide, cursed because of performing them. Can he even be considered a hero then at all?

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The man of the hour himself: Sophocles

This is something that Sophocles did happen to acknowledge in his play and is considered one of the central themes of his story. I’d like to conclude our sojourn with this myth with the closing line of the play, a common Greek maxim, “No man should be considered fortunate until he is dead.”

Until our next Greek adventure! (Or wherever we choose to go)

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What were your thoughts on this series on Oedipus?Which myth should I do next? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

De-myth-ify: Oedipus (Part 2)

Let’s talk about some classic Greek mythology, the Sophoclean tragedy, Oedipus Rex(also called Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus the King) today. This is part two of a three-part series on Oedipus. This continues from where part one left off. If you haven’t read it, do go and read Part one before you continue here.

The Sphinx would ask every person who encountered it the same riddle and upon getting the wrong answer would murder and devour them.(A bit of an overreaction, if you ask me) So, she asked Oedipus the riddle that many unfortunate souls before him had lost their lives to, “What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night?” Oedipus was a clever man, he thought carefully and did what no one else before him had done; he solved the riddle. I’ll let you take a second to think about it, try to see if your smarts measure up to Oedipus’. If you already know, shush, don’t spoil it for anyone else.

The Sphinx

Here is Oedipus’ answer: “Man-he crawls on all fours as a child, walks on two feet as an adult and uses a walking stick as an old man.” The Sphinx, in a very un-ladylike manner, was unable to handle her ego after her defeat and jumped off the rock it was sitting on and fell to its death. Hurray! The Sphinx was vanquished. Now Oedipus gets his prize! (Yikes.) The throne of his father(who, I have to remind you he killed) and his mother as his wife. Talk about tough luck.

And thus, Oedipus was crowned king and married Jocasta, both unaware of their true relationship and had four children: Eteocles, Polynices, Antigone, and Ismene. He ruled well for many years, with his mom-wife by his side. Then one day, a terrible plague struck Thebes. Determined to cure his city, he sends his brother-in-law/uncle Creon to the Oracle at Delphi to find out the cause for it. Creon comes back to report that is the gods’ punishment for the killer of Laius was never brought to justice. (Just by the way, Oedipus is Laius’ killer. And he doesn’t know that.)

Oedipus then swears to find and punish the man responsible. He summons the blind prophet Tiresias to seek answers. At first, Tiresias refuses to answer but when forced, he points an accusing finger at Oedipus himself. (Damn, that’s a power move right there.) Unable to fathom how he could be Laius’ murderer he decides that Tiresias had been paid by Creon to blame Oedipus and steal his throne. This is where shit, finally, totally hits the fan.

 

 

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Tiresias, the blind prophet.

 

 

Jocasta in an attempt to comfort her husband-son, tells Oedipus that Laius was killed by bandits on the road and narrates the circumstances of her husband’s(her actual husband) death. Oedipus is extremely unnerved by the similarity between one of the encounters he had on the road and his mom-wife’s narration. He is understandably, shaken up and sends for that one servant of Lauis’ who survived that encounter.

Before the servant, however, a messenger from Corinth arrives informing him of Polybus’ death (From natural causes). Oedipus is visibly relieved to hear this as that meant he had evaded the first half of the prophecy(You wish Oedipus, you wish.) but fearing that the second half might still come to be, declines to attend the funeral. The messenger, however, tells him to not worry about that as Merope and Polybus were never his real parents. How does this messenger know that? Get ready for the most telenovela and soap opera-esque twist. This messenger is none other than the shepherd who dropped him off at Corinth as a baby all those years ago. (Mic drop.)

 

 

Oedipus Separating from Jocasta by Alexandre Cabanel

 

 

Hearing this and realising that the prophecy had, in fact, had its way, Jocasta flees to her chamber and hangs herself in despair. Oedipus however, still needs more proof and it walks right in as the servant who he summoned comes and verifies the horrifying truth: Oedipus killed his father and married his mother. When Oedipus realises what he has done, he tried to find Jocasta and finds her lifeless body. At this point, he takes two golden pins from her dress and blinds himself in his fury. He banishes himself from Thebes, as he had promised to do to the killer of Laius and lives a long, miserable, guilt-ridden life, to eventually die, as all mortals do. And with that, we come to the disturbing end of Oedipus’s story. ( For real though, thank all the greek gods we’re finally here. The man has been through enough.)

To be continued.

THIS POST’ QUESTION: This is the story of characters with terrible luck.Who do you think has it worst of them all and why? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

De-myth-ify: Oedipus (Part 1)

Let’s talk about some classic Greek mythology, the Sophoclean tragedy, Oedipus Rex(also called Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus the King) today. This is part one of a three-part series on Oedipus.

Oedipus’ story begins in typical Greek fashion, with a prophecy. When Laius, the king of Thebes decided to consult the Oracle at Delphi(It was believed that Apollo, the god of prophecy spoke through the Oracle who sat in the ancient sanctuary in Delphi) on whether he and his wife would ever have a son. What he learned, however, was that any son they have is destined to kill Laius and marry Jocasta, Laius’ wife.

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The Oracle at Delphi. (I found this image at ancient-origins.net )

Then, Laius reacted in a way that would be expected of him, he avoided his wife’s bed and decided to do away with any and all hopes for children. However, in what is truly the ultimate millennial move all the way back in ancient Greece, alcohol got the best of him. Jocasta got pregnant and in 9 months, the drunken mistake(read: the baby) was here.

Some believe that Laius pierced the baby’s ankles so that it wouldn’t even be able to crawl, let alone hurt him. (Oedipus means swollen foot in ancient Greek) This is, however, a pretty disputed fact among researchers. This is also where I remind you that killing family was one of the biggest sins in ancient Greece and you would certainly end up cursed and facing the wrath of the gods. This is why Laius, that little sneak, found a loophole in this whole shebang and instead asked some shepherd to drop his baby off at the mountains to die.

The shepherd, just a regular dude was obviously not quite that cold-hearted and handed the baby to a second shepherd passing his infanticidal duties on to on him. This shepherd, also not an infanticidal maniac and a Corinthian, could not bring himself to leave him to die. Instead, he took him to the childless King and Queen of Corinth, Polybus and Merope, who took the baby in and raised him as their own.

The Finding of Oedipus
The Finding Of Oedipus, a 17th/18th-century painting depicting the adoption of baby Oedipus by King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth

So, Oedipus grew up, believing himself to be the prince of Corinth, that Polybus and Merope were his parents and blissfully unaware of the extraordinary circumstances that brought him to Corinth. One day, a drunkard told Oedipus that his parents were not his birth parents and you know, basically his whole life was a lie and all that and Oedipus obviously chose to give a drunk man’s word merit and investigate this little rumour. He ended up at Delphi, much like his father before him(you know Laius, his actual dad) seeking answers. This is where he heard the prophecy that had defined his life from even before he existed: he would kill his father and marry his mother. This is also where the intermission would come if this was a movie.

Then, Oedipus reacted in a way that would be expected of him, he decided to head far far away from Corinth and head north towards, you guessed it, Thebes. Along the way, at one point, his charioteer and another charioteer coming from the opposite direction got into a fight over who had the right to pass first. This little squabble ended with Oedipus killing the other charioteer and person he was carrying, who, surprise surprise, was none other than his actual daddy, the genius King of Thebes, Laius and just like that half the prophecy was fulfilled. Oh and also, a servant of Laius’ was the only survivor of Oedipus’ wrath. Keep that in mind. Moving on.

The Murder of Laius by Oedipus, by Joseph Blanc.

Oedipus was finally almost at his birthplace, Thebes. It was here that he encountered the legendary Sphinx with its head of a human, body of a lion and the wings of an eagle, an encounter that is part of popular lore and is pretty well known. The lesser-known fact of that story is that the Sphinx had been plaguing Thebes for a long time and it had been decreed that the one who managed to relieve Thebes of this terror would be crowned the king and get the widowed queen’s hand in marriage. I’m sure you can guess what happened next but I still have a story to tell and hence comes part two of this story.

To be continued.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What do you think of Laius’ reaction to finding out about the prophecy ? Do you think it is cold or do you think it is justified,given the circumstances? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

Some Thoughts on Airports.

 

Let’s talk about airports today.

Airports. Grounded gateways to aerial escapes to a different world. A new city, a new country, a new continent. Ah, how I love them.

In my lifetime, I have taken a decent number of flights. In the last year though, I have racked up some crazy flying miles, what with my vacation across Europe and flying to and fro between home and university. All this flying has meant I have spent a rather significant amount of time at airports too. Hence, this post dedicated to airports, paying a homage to the unsung holder of all things duty-free.

The thing about airports is, they’re essentially a test of a person’s patience. A lot of the time spent there is in wait. Waiting for check-in, waiting for security, waiting for your mom to buy the entire batch of duty-free candy or waiting for boarding. The human mind does not bode well for waiting and when in wait, it wanders. All this wandering has led to a lot of thinking and a lot of thoughts many of which I wrote in the notes app on my phone and I’ll try to consolidate in this post.

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Airports hold so many people. People from different walks of life with different goals, ambitions, dreams. It amazes me to no end when I stand to wait and look around to see all the people who have a different story yet at this epoch they all intersect, right here at this airport. Perhaps, someone is going home or going away from home. Maybe, there’s a new baby in the family. Maybe, god forbid, there’s a loss. Maybe, they’re going to their dream job, maybe they just missed out on it. The possibilities are endless and I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around the extent of these.

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One thing I have also always noticed about airports is that time is seemingly not a construct in there. Any notion of day and night is only expressed through a peak outside. Inside, its always moving, never stopping. Airports are the land where time stops or rather, becomes irrelevant because there are people taking a flight to somewhere or from somewhere at just about all times and airports are always full. This led me to the very serious realization that an empty airport with no movement and no hint of day or night makes a fabulous setup for a dystopia or post-apocalyptic novel. Huh, maybe, I’ll write that, someday.

In all the airports I’ve been to, I’ve always seen a tiny glimpse into the culture of the city or country. All airports show little pieces of the personality of the place they are in. Be it the futuristic installations at Changi Aiport, Singapore or the grandeur of the airport at Dubai or even the wonderful food at the airport in Rome, it’s a little slice of what the country or city has to offer. Taking the phrase, “First Impressions are the last impressions” to heart, more often than not, most places put their best foot forward in the airport and thus, exploring an airport will almost always show you the best of what the place holds.

 

Airports are thus, apart from housing great candy and the best books, a building full of many many human emotions. There’s hope, there’s nostalgia, there’s joy, there’s sadness, there’s dread, there’s anticipation, there’s wonder, there’s  marvel. And for me, right there, wedged in with all the billion emotions, it’s almost like, there’s home.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What are some of your airport thoughts? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

The Sad Truth About Going To Disneyland As An Adult.

Let’s talk about going to Disneyland as an adult and why that’s sad.

I went to Disneyland(Any Disneyland that is) for the first time on 4th June 2017 at the age of 18 years,2 months and 24 days. The one we went to was Disneyland Paris, the day was an unfortunate long weekend Sunday. I went on 5-6 rides in 10ish hours, saw the evening parade and 3 shows. It was disappointing.There, I said it.

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So, now that you have your pitchforks out and mouse ears on ready to attack me, let me finish with my explanation of as to why. If after that, you still feel compelled to chase me around with digital pitchforks you’re more than welcome to do so. So let’s get on with it, shall we?

Now, shocking as I bet it is for some of you, I never went to a Disneyland before I was an adult. (Yes, some countries don’t have their own Disneyland, imagine that!) I had gone to a theme park before,i.e. Universal Studios, Singapore and had the best time ever. We all had fast passes and Universal was such a breeze that I had higher expectations for Disneyland simply because it’s Disneyland. It’s the OG theme park! It’s where wishes come true. C’mon.

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Instead, I found huge crowds and desperately long lines and  rides I really looked forward to and waited an hour for shutting in front of my eyes as I finally reached the front of the line. It had been my childhood dream to go to a Disneyland. I wanted to feel the Disney magic and carry some pixie dust back with me to soar and fly in the world of my imagination. Instead, I was exhausted from waiting in line, went to barely any rides, had to stand on my toes to watch the shows, was jostled in the crowds and was melting in the sun. Of course, I was disappointed. Wouldn’t you be?

Now, I’ll state factors that I concurred led to this letdown. First off, it was a Sunday. Secondly, it was a long weekend. Thirdly, we did not have fast passes. Fourth, it was a hot day for Paris. Three of these were in my hand. I give you that. I will still feel disappointed because this was a childhood dream and I refuse to be fully logical here. Call me stubborn or call me a child.(How I wish for the latter!) The bottom line is, right now between Disney and Universal Studios, I choose Universal because me, the young adult , enjoyed Universal much much more.

Now, to clarify, I did not think Disney was horrible nor have I written it off for life. The magic in that place is so strong, it doesn’t die out this easy. It only diminishes with the number of people entering the park and the intensity with which the sun beats down on our heads. I liked the rides I went on. I liked the shows. I really really loved the parade. I also realised that I would have loved all the things so much more as a child. It was almost sad, realising I was too old to love things I would’ve once loved so much.

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I would, for sure, come back to Disney, for a better, more magical experience. We all chase magic, I’m no exception. I feel sad merely because my first experience, my mythical changing is tainted by adult things like crowds and waiting too long for human beings to wait. It’s also the loss of my childhood innocence, of being able to see too far, not feeling wonder or curiosity as powerfully, knowing too much and losing sight of the magic that everything holds. That’s all.  Are your mouse ears still on? Can I put mine on too, to match?

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I found this picture on Pinterest but couldn’t track the owner of the picture. Let me know if you know who it is.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Have you ever been to Disneyland? How was your first Disneyland experience as an adult or otherwise? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

Head In The Clouds.

Let’s talk about aeroplanes today.

I’ve always loved aeroplanes. I always look up when one passes by, no matter what I’m doing (I was writing my high school graduation exams this year near an airport and it was ridiculous how many times I’d stop, it’s a wonder I finished my papers at all!)

How this little epiphany or stroke of inspiration came, you ask? Well today, when I was crossing to the dormitories (Yes, I live in a dorm now, post on how I’m dealing with that hopefully soon!) after dinner ,a plane whizzed by. Among the good horde of people that was there, skateboarding, chatting away with pals, texting on phones, leading singalongs and whatnot, I was the only one who looked up. That’s when it hit me ,how odd is it that we are so acclimatised, so used to aeroplanes now and how far we really have come. A century ago, everyone would have stopped whatever they’re doing and stared at the sky in amazement and would have waved to the passing plane with smiles on their faces and wonderment in their eyes. This little thought triggered another train which made me think of my own special relationship with the sky.

I love sky-watching. I am the kind of person who can make a day out of it. I never grew out of the finding shapes in clouds phase. Hell, my first dream job was to be a pilot. And the best part? I had never ever sat in a plane at that age. When I was 5,the idea of flying off to someplace and going anywhere I wanted, up above the clouds was as fascinating as things got.(To be honest, it’s still fascinating. I think I missed the growing up call.)If you talked to me then about what I wanted to be when I grew up, you’d get a resolute, proud, “Pilot” and a promise to be flown to a place of your choice when I became one.(How I wish I was this clear now, as an adult.)

How the job vacated the dream slot, is another rather sad tale. I saw a movie late at night with my family and way past my bedtime, in which a plane crash killed a whole lot of people, including a beloved character.(Who by the way, was the pilot.)Then that night, I had a series of not-so-good dreams about airplanes and by morning being a pilot was a distant thing of the past.

I went on my first aeroplane at the age of 10. It was a domestic flight but it was a good 3 and a half hours long and the best thing that had happened to me then. The view from above the clouds, the knitted square piece carpet that earth looked like from up above ,the green green forests where I was landing and the helluva ear aches landing and take off gave me are ingrained in my memory forever. I’ve seen an okay amount of things in life for someone my age but I value these memories as precious moments from my childhood.

Since then, I have been on many many planes and seen quite a few airports (Also one of my favourite places, more on them later in his post!) I’ve had good plane rides, okay planes rides, great plane ides, bad plane rides, the entire spectrum.(And over the course of these rides, I’ve also grown out of my ear aches.)I’ve sat in really comfortable seats and uncomfortable, kind of stuffy planes. I’ve watched a lot of movies, read a lot of books, heard a lot of music and had a lot of food on aeroplanes.

I’ve also seen amaaaazing sights from the windows.(Window seat hoggers unite!) I’ve seen so many different colours, shapes and kinds of clouds. I’ve seen a bunch of sunrises, multiple cities, rivers, lakes, countries and even the snow-capped Himalayas. (While going to Leh, Ladakh, India, one of my most beloved trips ever.) I’ve seen the teeny tiny Eifel Tower, wee Twin Towers(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia),tiny Rome, beaches, oceans, seas and so much more!

(I have not taken these beautiful pictures, these have been uploaded to the internet by amazing photographers around the world, some who had watermarks, some who didn’t. I used these because I felt that these capture views akin to what I’ve seen in a way I could never even aspire to.)

Now, let’s get back to one of my favourite places again; airports. There are so many people, so many hopes, so many struggles, so many stories in that one place. Everyone has a different destination, a different purpose, different likes and so many different goals. Also as a big plus, so many chocolate and book stores!(Just the things you should sell everywhere,if you ask me!)

I find myself fortunate enough to have seen and done so much all because of aeroplanes. It makes travel, seeing the world, fulfilling my dreams much easier for me and unites and joins all of us. So, I’d like to conclude this plane (ha!) of thought that started with a plane with gratitude and awe for this metal tube ,its inventors, the Wright brothers and humanity in general for being who they are with ideas and curiosity and creativity and passion driving us as a species forward.

Bon Voyage for wherever you’re off to (In life or on a plane!) from a plane-aholic!

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What is your favourite memory associated with aeroplanes? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to heard from you!

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