“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Monday, September 20, 2010


P and I rarely watch TV together because of conflicting interests. Of course, occasionally we do, when something we both like is shown. Yesterday, there was a reminiscence of the late Sri. P Bhaskaran, one of the greatest (to me, the greatest) lyricists in Malayalam movies. During an advertisement break, the former Miss World, Aishwarya Rai swept in. P exclaimed -‘She is really beautiful, isn’t she? Look at her eyes!’ Before she could comment further, I switched channels. ‘Why, don’t you think she is beautiful?’ ‘Of course’, I said, ‘she is beautiful. But isn’t there something more to beauty? Something more than a pretty face? To me, beauty is unpretentiousness. Once somebody is conscious about themselves, they are no longer beautiful. Say, um, like Meg Ryan in You Got Mail? Or Sandra Bullock in While You were Sleeping or Forces of Nature? Julia Roberts? Remember Pretty Woman?' ‘Oh, you and your Hollywood females!’ said P, depreciatingly. I kept mum.

After the programme, I go to my room and mull over Beauty. I am unhappy with dictionaries. But more I think about beauty, the more I am convinced of my definition. Why are all children beautiful? Why is a flower beautiful? Why is a laughing dog beautiful? Why is a landscape beautiful? There are thousands of girls and women more beautiful than A Rai, just because they are not self-conscious. Beauty is not something pleasurable to the senses alone; not something physical alone, but you feel beauty when you are offered a glimpse of the true selves, natural, unpretentious. I lie on bed smoking and extrapolate my concept of beauty. It can be applied to writing. Poetry. Short stories. Natural History. I think of CK Williams, of Hemingway, of Nevil Shute, O Henry, of the many authors in Picador Nature Reader. I wish I could hug each of them and say thanks for showing me what beauty is.

Beauty, I realize, is in being true. I wince. ‘Ow! Fella, now you be in the company of Keats!’

******** Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 20.09.2010


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Very correctly expressed, Balan sir. External beauty matters only in reel life and never ever in real life.

  3. The very concept of Indian marriages traditionally dropped down the ages is to either see the prospective bride or groom in flesh and blood or a photo hand out and then decide. Guess all the weddings that has been solemnised in this country must be rubbished.
    And I wonder if one can compare the beauty in a woman to that of the literary creations of a Hemmingway or a O'Henry.

  4. @Subbu: Truth is the same everywhere, to everyone. I am trying to understand it in my own simple - to quote somebody - in ' a naive, romantic, credulous' way. Thanks, Subbu!

    @Anil: 1. I did not compare. Each reflect its beauty. Each, by itself. The Himalayas as well as a little flower in my garden are both beautiful to me. The point is, I, repeat I, find beauty in them. I do not compare.

    2. Your sarcasm is wasted. I do not rubbish anything, anyone. Indian style of marriage or western style of marriage are both the same. They are like the toilets at the two ends of a train compartment,saying Indian style and Western Style. Both used for the same purpose.

    3. My post is not an intellectual exercise in aesthetics. It is written in a light vein; a simple, naive verbalization of my thoughts.

  5. Dey ,

    Take things that are in lighter vein as such and not as sarcasms.

  6. I agree 100% to your idea of beauty. To me beauty is a genuine smile, I love the smile of whoopie goldberg, I have never seen anything half as unpretentious as her smile. Also beauty is when a person is content and is doing something what he/she is destined to do. There is nothing more beautiful than a mother singing to her child.

  7. I liked your take on it. For me, beauty is everywhere. One doesnt 'see' beauty; one feels it.

    When I just keep walking on the road, I sense something worth, I take out my camera and click a picture. If someone is with me, they dont understand why did I find that was so ordinary or ugly so beautiful. And I cant explain to them.

    Maybe you can call good looking women 'pretty' faces. But there's much more to beauty than just gorgeous faces and a hot bod. You said it right

  8. Reading your beautiful peice sets me thinking on beauty. And suddenly I realise I love Ayswarya Rai!

  9. ".beauty is unpretentiousness".. very true. wch is why u wud prefer a sushmita to a aishwarya. or all the leads u mentioned. i cant imagine aishwarya do a role in wch she was made to look ugly... zeenat did it in SSS. aishwarya is a star. a beautiful one at that. thats it. it touches ure eyes and nothing beyond!

  10. "beauty is unpretentiousness". very true.. wch is y everyone prefers sushmita to aishwarya. cant imagine ash play a role in wch she is made to look ugly!

  11. @Sujata; That makes two of us, Whoopie Goldberg's fans! :-)

    @ Insignia: Its all in the sensing, isn't it? The moment, like my friend Venu says, the moment of immortality!

    @Venu: :-D. Yessir,A Rai is lovable! Makes us wish we were younger, uh? :P

    @K: Thats why you always look beautiful! :D

  12. I got it from your conversation!
    Often,the appreciation of beauty arises from a desire you are not aware of.For desire,the object has to be perpetually absent.Fantasize the impossible and the inaccessible.The moment it is at your hand,you no longer cherish it,and it is no longer beautiful to you.
    Abhishek would no longer think Rai is beautiful,who knows!
    I guessed you like Meg Ryan more than A. Me too,till I saw her in a recent movie in which she acted nude.She always used to act as if she had a cold,and I liked her.But no loner!


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