Yesterday Once More: Long Gone Karen Carpenter!!


She’s long forgotten!! She died on 4th February 1983 and I am 2 days late in writing this post about how unabashedly sad I am about her untimely death!!

karen1Who is she and why am I dedicating a post to her?

Karen Anne Carpenter (March 2, 1950 – February 4, 1983) was an American singer and drummer. She and her brother, Richard, formed the 1970s duo, the Carpenters. Although her skills as a drummer earned admiration from drumming luminaries and peers, she is best known for her vocal performances. She had a contralto vocal range.

Carpenter suffered from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder which was little known at the time. She died at age 32 from heart failure caused by complications related to her illness. Carpenter’s death led to increased visibility and awareness of eating disorders

This is what Wikipedia says about her.

I discovered the Carpenters quite by accident. I was downloading some songs for my mother who loves their songs and when Ikaren2 listened to their songs, I absolutely loved them. They were so typical of the era, soft, mystical and clean. Mostly clean lyrics focusing so much on emotions. Karen and Richard made good music. They made music that could heal you on any given day. Karen’s magical voice could cut through all my misery, literally!!

Remember the song, “Top Of The World”

Such a feelin’s comin’ over me

There is wonder in most everything I see

Not a cloud in the sky

Got the sun in my eyes

And I won’t be surprised if it’s a dream

Look at her smile!!
Look at her smile!!

Everything I want the world to be

Is now coming true especially for me

And the reason is clear

It’s because you are here

You’re the nearest thing to heaven that I’ve seen

I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation

And the only explanation I can find

Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around

Your love’s put me at the top of the world

karen4Something in the wind has learned my name

And it’s tellin’ me that things are not the same

In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze

There’s a pleasin’ sense of happiness for me

There is only one wish on my mind

When this day is through I hope that I will find

That tomorrow will be just the same for you and me

All I need will be mine if you are here

I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation

And the only explanation I can find

Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around

Your love’s put me at the top of the world

karen5I am sure so many of you readers can resonate with these lyrics. They never fail to bring a smile to my face.

The reason I am so very sad with Karen’s death was her ANOREXIA!

In those days, people never came out with their eating disorders. Karen was not stunningly beautiful but she had this rare quality which drew you to her, if you saw some of her videos you would instantly realise!! She had this beautiful face and a very mature voice which is unbelievably melodious. And she died at the age of 33 because her heart couldn’t take the complications of over 14 years of crash dieting.

This, precisely this made me feel so very sad. She was so bright. People still tear up mentioning her. I see so many fresh comments on her YouTube concerts where people say they miss her. It is impossible to ignore the people she touched in the short time she was here!

The day I read about her death and saw her photos, saw what the disease had made her, the true extent of our society’s malaise struck me. Here was a perfectly good-looking woman who has a worldwide following. She felt the need to diet and to cause so much harm to her body. She felt she wasn’t good enough inspite of being so very loved and followed.

It made me wonder about the people at the very common level. She was a star, undeniably. But what about you, me or anyone you know? Since when did we let a commercial or a shop sale, (= I feel a tremendous bout of guilt when I don’t find anything to buy in a sale!!) decide whether we were beautiful? And why was our society SO OBSESSED WITH OUR PHYSICAL LOOKS?

karen8

That is how Karen looked a while before she died! A skeleton. Done in by our society’s warped ideals of what a man would want or what made us beautiful. It isn’t just by chance that I found this blog which was documenting Extremely Sexist Advertisements during the 1950s.

It saddens me everytime I read about her death. Why do I read about it then? When it makes me so morose? To remind me that nothing that people say should drag me to the point of becoming like this. She was stunning. I would love to be in her place, jamming and cutting out albums. Doing world tours! But not like this. Nobody deserves to end like this!

In a way, Karen’s death opened up the floodgates for research into anorexia and behaviours linked to food. The plethora of information that we have and the eating disorders which are so easy to diagnose today, are courtesy the death which shocked so many people all over the world!

I can’t help get caught in the warped web of deception and the whole “I have to look Beautiful” line. But it helps to sometimes remember that if only someone could help Karen out the way there is help for anorexia or bullimia today, that maybe we would have had the very gifted and talented singer yet amongst us!!

I do, I do take her loss personally!! It always seems as if she tells me to not take life too seriously! That I am beautiful no matter what. And if I was among people who didn’t endorse the view, then I needn’t get disheartened. This beautiful woman gives me the strength to not go down her path and to always love me!

I don’t seek to advice or lecture about anyone’s sense of beauty or self-esteem. I just wanted to give Karen a tribute that the number of lives you have saved today, by the research spurned on after your death is monumental! And I can’t thank you enough! Wherever you are, I hope you are at peace and I really hope your songs continue to be played for years after!!

As I close in on my first post dedicated to people who have changed my thinking, I leave you with lyrics from another Carpenters song called ‘Yesterday Once More’ which is also the title to this post. I selected that because I was bringing in yesterday here with me, once more, in remembering Karen’s contribution to society and her everlasting impact on music!

Lookin’ back on how it was in years gone by
And the good times that I had
Makes today seem rather sad, so much has changed.

It was songs of love that I would sing to then
And I’d memorize each word
Those old melodies still sound so good to me
As they melt the years away

Every sha-la-la-la
Every wo-o-wo-o, still shines
Every shing-a-ling-a-ling, that they’re startin’ to sing’s so fine

All my best memories come back clearly to me
Some can even make me cry, just like before
It’s yesterday once more

Epilogue: Just to show my recent internet searches about sexist vintage ads, some links!! Never doubt your beauty ladies!! We’re all special!!

http://neatdesigns.net/35-extremely-sexist-ads-that-you-should-see/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/17/sexist-vintage-ads_n_1798977.html#slide=1396785

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/16/vintage-sexist-ads_n_4612110.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

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My Nightly Affair


There is something really alluring about a quiet night. It gives you time to heal. It gives you space. Mostly it is silent as you ponder.

I’ve not fallen asleep immediately many a times. When I was small, there was a bright light outside my window. My mother used to say that Dracula would come and bite my neck if I didn’t sleep. And it didn’t help that I’d seen a movie where a hawk flies into a room, turns into a blood hungry monster and bites a rather beautiful looking woman.

There is something special about looking out of the window. Especially when the world sleeps. There is calm. There is quiet. The night just encompasses you into itself and you can unravel there.

Today is just one of the nights when sleep doesn’t come easy. Maybe it is exam stress, maybe a feeling of entrapment. The night doesn’t judge when I open the window. Cool air rushes in to replace the air suffocating me.

There is not a soul stirring here. I close my eyes and breathe deeply. There is a marvelous change which happens when you just breathe. Most of today we spend short charging ourself and indeed breathing, labouring through. The night makes me want to breathe easy. It makes me want to live.

I spent quite a while just breathing. Openly. Letting go of me. During the day our lives are all about ME. The nights become all about us. Such a subtle change. Yet such a vital one.

A cool wind suddenly brushes through my hair. Sometimes I can feel the wind there when I felt I was alone. I think it tries to tell me to sleep. And that there would be another.

Another night
Another gust of air
More peace for me to expand in
More love and backing that I could contract into

I really do love nights. They make me whole. They make me love.

In Your Head


Voices speak all around you. You shake your head trying to focus. It always feels like there is someone right by your ear whispering but no matter how much you try he does not go away. People smile at you and there is an awkward spasm. It never was so crowded here before.
There are people moving with you when you walk. Dressed in sombre colours. Always pushing you.. Pushing you to do something more, making you feel you’re never good enough. Their long fingers trace patterns on your back as you sit trying to read the same book you’ve been reading for the past year.
There is a restless, almost insane look about you. You move your feet restlessly waiting for something to happen. Everything that was your friend earlier now seems a foe. You want to throw those books lying everywhere, why do people read so much anyway?? That food in the cupboard, the smell nauseates you. You want to do yet your mind turns you away.
You try to pick up a pen to write, it falls, your hand shakes too much. The air seems too suffocating so you move to the balcony. Cool winds hit your face. Life moves on as you remain frozen, watching quietly. That pace irritates you. Those pills in the cupboard you werent supposed to take, have become a daily habit now. You get one more and pop it in. You close your eyes.
You look around, impatient. Wanting to do something yet not having any strength. There is a subtle change in the people around you. They come closer to you, holding their hands out, protecting you. More people wearing black pour into the room trying to get to you. You tear yourself away. The lamp on the table falls and glass shatters. You get down on your knees trying to scream but no voice comes out. Swords are slashing as the people in black come closer and closer to you. You try to crawl on the glass, hurting your wrists but it doesn’t work. They are pulling them towards you. A black door opens while you are dragged on the floor. You hold on to the lamp because the wire pulls you back. Blood soaks your sleeves and tears blind your eyes. You resist so hard. And it doesn’t work. Yet again!
You knock against the furniture, holding on to anything that will make you stay. There are more voices, telling you what to do, how to break free. But why don’t they come and help you? You feel pain and more pain as the lamp cuts through. The door approaches closer and finally you are lifted and thrown into a deep bottomless pit.
You open your eyes and find yourself in the same place you were before. Those voices, they scare people, they scare you. You wonder how long this will last, how many times before they throw you like a rag doll.
Yes, it’s a war. In Your Head.
( inspired by: Schizophrenia)

Are We There Yet


As I made my way into yet another crowded bus to reach office I chanced to overhear two college students discussing life, work and studies and bikes. I couldn’t help but listen to them as they discussed about joining work after their 12th and about money they’d need to repair their bikes and the road they took to get to wherever they were going. And that was enough to get me started.

I pondered about where had all our childhoods gone. Were they a part of history to be remembered when those dusty photo albums were perused? Or was what we enjoyed growing up still as much a part of us as it was then?

I realised we didn’t let ourselves stay as we are for any time at all. Always the pressure to perform, to excel and to make your mark. For a society that had become as unforgiving and uncompromising as ours, the race was always on.

A city like Mumbai can best be described as a spinning top or a hurricane that never stops.  You just get drawn to the high speed with which it moves and before you know it you’re in. While we all live in this world where few things matter, I can’t help but wonder are we there yet? When are we going to reach a point when we decide “Oh yes I’m happy”. Is it feasible to always live with a feeling that you’re dispensable?

I spent the entire day pondering on these lines. Work and the pressure to do well seemed the only thing on my mind. There was a rush to meet deadlines and my mind strayed thinking that whatever I did was never enough. What actually gave us happiness? Was it doing a good job and drawing a good paycheck or was it doing something you actually loved and being critiqued for making the choice early. In this dream-killer society was it safe enough to dream anymore when you knew that the fabric of your fantasy was going to melt away in the face of someone’s acidic critique? Did it matter to stand up for yourself or listen to people who cared for you? These thoughts troubled me.

That evening as I made my way home, I had the urge to go on the terrace and stare at the city. The sun was setting illuminating the sky in verdant red, lush blue and a pensive grey. Cool winter winds enveloped me. There I was staring at the bustling city running to meet some unknown target. Everybody ran in Mumbai, nobody walked or stopped. Thousands of lights illuminated the dark and from up there everything seemed tiny. The feeling of being at a height has always fascinated me. Somehow problems seem tinier when you fly with them in the air. You suddenly realise at some point while you fly, let yourself soar, your troubles leave you behind. Just the altitude you see a bigger picture.

It struck me that although we had enough troubles of our own, it didn’t matter if we knew all the answers. We didn’t need to know all the answers now. They say life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. Yes the world was harsh, uncompromising and deadline obsessed. All of us have our own battles to fight and our own wars to win. Someday I’m sure we’d get to where we always wanted to be. But for now as the city welcomed a night to rest from the pressures of the day, it was just enough to get home. And that’s what I did.

Are we there yet? Someday we’ll know. For now, let’s just go home.