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Archive for the ‘reminiscences’ Category

It has been ages since I posted… Summer is keeping us very busy and not to mention engaging the ever energetic kids – one at home enjoying her summer holidays… It is highly impossible to keep her entertained all day! We are checking out library books in dozens every few days in a week and still she completes them all and is ready for more! ๐Ÿ™‚ So you can imagine how depleted my available time would become to keep her from cribbing about spending her summer with me at home. I thought I was doing her a favor by having her at home apparently not according to her! ๐Ÿ™‚

My dear friend R sent over the much-talked about Immortals of Meluga book to me and another friend here, had the next book with her so it was a jackpot for me to read the first two books of Shiva Trilogy one after the other… Amish Patel has done a great job giving an all new perception to the Hindu mythology (?!) surrounding Lord Shiva. I liked the way he had tied the Sun and Moon Dynasties and also had explanation for the Gods that had a different look with animal heads or multiple hands. Very few fiction writers can produce this kind of complex drama based on mythology, rarer still is that this is a debut novel. So Kudos to Amish!

I have always felt Gods belonged to a race superior to mankind, kind of like super humans who preceded us and during the transition stage is when the super humans were documented as Gods for the religions to flourish. To me this appeals more to my common sense and that doesnt mean I am an atheist. Certain thoughts are best compartmentalized in yourself and to me religion is one such topic. The brain in me looks for logical explanations like Gods as super humans who designed the wonders of the world.ย  The heart and the soul in me still fasts every Thursday as a reminder to my body to meditate over God in the form that appeals to me the most. I still play Suprabhatham and Vishnu Sahasranaman in the mornings and truly believe Sanskrit to be a superior language that doesn’t just convey meaningful thoughts but also triggers positive vibrations and cleanses the place where Sanskrit is spoken. I believe Sanskrit was devised as a language so it will be easier to propagate. That is why, the fights in our epics where just utterance of a Sanskrit Manthra before releasing the arrow, released such energy to affect the intended victim. ๐Ÿ™‚

Growingย  up I was quite impressionable when it came to Religion and Spirituality and was always intrigued by anything to do with it. I started my schooling in a Christian school and by the time I was in my seventh grade, my grandmother was worried that I would soon become a Christian, in fact at that stage, I was a Hindu in just my name! I did not use bindis, bangles or earrings and would take candles to the School chapel on the day of my exams and take the melted wax from the candle to the exam hall!! I think Iย  kind of overdid myself when I started comparing Old and the New testaments and reporting them to my dad. At that point, my parents decided they have had enough and shifted me to an Hindu school!ย  The new school environment was a 360 degree turn from my old school and it took me a while to get acclimatized. And pretty soon, I started visiting Sri Ramakrishna Mutt in Mylapore very regularly and much to my parent’s amazement, there were Vivekananda posters in our bedroom and all the books I won as prizes from the school were either Gospels or teachings of theย  trio I still respect and admire – Sri Ramakrishnar/Sri Sarada Devi/Swami Vivekananda.

Apart from the mandated school visits, I started visiting the Ashram on my own with my friends and I also enrolled in VYASS – Vivekananda Youth Association for Service and Spirituality. Every Sunday afternoon, I used to spend at the Ashram debating the multi-facets of Vedanta satisfying the Spirituality part of the Group purposeย  and visiting orphanages and Government hospitals and taking part in voluntary services at those sites, for the Service part! I really loved reading books on Vedanta in the Library and though I did not know what I was learning, I was becoming more and more inquisitive of Adhvaitha philosophy which helped later in my life. I will get to that in a while.ย  I remember spending 5 days of a beautiful summer at a Youth camp held in Kodaikanal and how I got my father’s permission for that. I wrote a very touchy note requesting his permission and kept it in his lunch box, so he would discover that at his work and will have time to think about it without categorically saying No. And it worked!! I never imagined my parents would send me off to a Youth camp on my own with other VYASS members at the age of 15! May be I was a trust-worthy kid!

I remember how confused I felt when on the bus to Kodaikanal from Chennai, while the Swamijis who were chaperoning us were dozing in the front seats, the Vivekananda college students were singing cine songs in an Anthakshari game. Those were the Annas and Akkas I thought were so spiritually inclined! It was quite a learning curve for me, that it is is normal to behave normal too! Anyway it was an amazing camp, meeting teens from all over India and having very healthy debates and discussions. I was particularly psyched when a quote from me was selected to be published in the “Vedanta Weekly” in the Ramakrishna Mutt.ย  I hope I retained a copy of it. It would have been my first published material! Later there were many All India Youth camp right in Chennai that I attended too. Every time I used to be back from such camps, my parents would love me, as I would be in the BEST behavior till all that I learnt wear off slowly! Then I would pick up the books to refresh again! ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway after one such camps, I came home all excited and told my mom that I found my destiny and that it was to join Sri Sarada mutt, she was absolutely aghast! She was like what did I pull my daughter from and where is she going!!

My parents sat with me and told me to complete my schooling and then college and even at that stage if I still feel the same way about joining the Mutt, they would consider. I still look back and appreciate the non-panic mode they were in, and how they let me come out of it on my own.. After schooling I joined Ethiraj College and my visits to the Mutt kind of dwindled and I decided I was wrong about my earlier vocation. ๐Ÿ™‚ In the later years, when I asked my dad how he was able to handle my eccentricities, his simple answer was he felt better off with my spiritual inclinations than the other kind of infatuations that he had expected of me at that age!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway till I met my hubby I had little time to read more on the Spiritual literature. And you would think how Spirituality is connected to meeting the love of your life! It would, if you end up getting married to a person from aย  ‘different’ sect. When I knew I was getting married to an Iyengar guy, and how difficult it was for elders to digest even that, I ended up finding out how different we were. I found that the basic difference is not in the Gods but in the philosophy you were expected to follow. I truly believe I can be born to an Iyer family – followers of Advaitha philosophy and still be convinced with Vishishtadhvaitha philosophy and follow that. So that would make me an Iyengar technically! The same is true for an Iyengar who believes more in Advaitha philosophy. I also learnt, Shiva and Vishnu were just favorite Gods of the protagonists who propagated the respective philosophies and nothing suggests that followers of Advaitha philosophy should be devotees of Shiva and Vishishtadhvaitha, Vishnu. I do not speak of these lightly but with conviction because I did read a lot from both the philosophies.

Anyway I do not want to dwell too much in this , just that religion to me is nothing but love but most loveless acts originate from the so called religions these days, making one question even the validity of such religions. If you hurt someone physically or mentally in the name of religion that makes you an outcast and not a follower according to me. Who are we mortals to compare one God to another and think you are superior just because you follow one God versus another person who follows another God. Is it not true that all paths lead to the same destination? While you are on the path, how would you know you are on the right or even the faster path till you reach the destination, so how can you feel empowered enough to point out other person’s way as wrong! It never stops to stun me, these eccentricities in the humankind!!!

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I did mention in my earlier post that I was going to gift a letter to my hubby for our wedding anniversary. I did and embarrassed him much! He is not a person who can take flattery easily! ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Though I told him the letter just lists the stuff I love about him, occasion being our anniversary, I did not want to touch upon the dislikes, so he can be assured that I do have some stuff I dislike! Still it was tough for him to accept it gracefully!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway I am just publishing the censored version of a part of the letter I gave him. I want everyone to know what a great guy he is and how incredibly lucky I am!!

So here it goes!

It is our wedding anniversary! We have had wonderful, memorable, great, not-so-great, not-great-at-all moments in all these years together!!ย  And every one of those moments was special to me no matter what, because it was with you I lived and shared those moments..

I am so glad you are part of my life. I love you for being my most adorable purushan and more than that, for the wonderful dad you are to our kids!

I will be thankful eternally to all the so-called-planetary elements that brought us together!

We are so attuned to each other that I dont ever have to explain myself even during my freak days! I love your total and unconditional acceptance of me!

I love our one-night-only rule so we can have the CRAZIEST fights and not worry about the repercussions, becoz we would be fine the next morning! ๐Ÿ™‚ Isn’t that cool??

I love the way you avoid taking sides when I just vent out my frustration about any of our close kin, and just patiently listen me out, thus bringing my temper down.

I love how you are always ready to take care of our kids when I am in that last few chapters of the book I am reading! Who can be that lucky to have a hubby who is so responsive to her reading needs?!

And of course I love to read books nudging against your shoulder while you are busy reading your book! ๐Ÿ™‚ I know some people may find us crazy reading our brains out when we have the private time! But hey this is our way of being totally happy! So what!! ๐Ÿ™‚

I love how you always know when I need an ice cream, though I would clearly say I dont need it and how I am on a diet! ๐Ÿ™‚

I love how you make sure, first it is I who eats the dinner, on my fasting days. You would not even allow me to feed the kids before I have my first meal of the day at dinner time! Such a caring hubby you are; though you dont like me fasting, you dont stop me!

I love how we just live our lives the way we like, with very little compromises. You dont expect me to change at all in any way, it is only me, the bad me who forces you at times to try stuff you dont like! I promise I would try not to do that often this year and eventually stop doing that too..

I love how you have the same rasam for three consecutive days and still everyday say it is good! ๐Ÿ™‚ You would in all probability be the only husband who scolds a wife who cooks everyday!

I love how you love to put the kids to sleep. You would not mind rocking A for even an hour to put him to sleep, though in the end, Hyperactive A would sleep for hardly 15 mins! Nothing deters you from parenthood, changing dirty nappies or washing soiled clothes or handling colicky babies; you are the best dad, any wife can hope from her hubby!!

I love how you try to surprise me on my birthdays with great salwars! Though you know I never pick up the ones you show me during our shopping trips. That doesnt deter you from choosing stuff for me and I love it how I end up liking the dresses you gift much more than the ones I would have spent hrs choosing!

I love how you never hover over me when I am at my mom’s place! How you wait till I make the call to you even if it is 24 hrs after I leave you.. You find it perfectly alright that I forget to call you when I meet my mom or sisters! ๐Ÿ™‚

I love the way you treat my parents and sisters and how they all warm up to you. I love how my dad listens to you more than me! I totally love the way you embraced my whole family!

I love you for not getting bothered at all with my quite long conversations over fone with my best friends! You seem to be content with the fact that at least none of my best friends are in our neighborhood! ๐Ÿ™‚

I love the way you respect my space and dont pry into my stuff. You know I have been blogging recently, still you do not ask me for the site, you know I would share it with you when I am ready.

My love list for you would go on and on, my dear! Thank you for finding me and being a part of my life.. I dont know what I would do withoutย  you!! Happy Anniversary!

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I read this book ‘The Sea’ by John Banville. A very literary book full of allusions. The book gave me multiple signals as I was reading it and to be frank , it was quite an effort to me, comprehending the subtleties too and following the allusions. In fact I am pretty sure I may not have really captured what the author was up to. But hey, I guess that is what allusions are for, the same book would mean different notions to different people based on the mindset.ย  Almost 4-5 sentences in every page were so loaded that I had to pause and understand the depth of the statements. My feelings somewhat mirrored how I felt when I read my first Ayn Rand novel in my 11th std. ๐Ÿ™‚

This book is about a man who grieves the loss of his wife and tries to relieve his past, in particular the past where he sheds his innocence, in an attempt to overcome the current misery. He himself wonders why past thrills him so much than current and future, as the past was nothing but “Present” at one time! He says “The past beats inside me like a second heart”.

Of course that is a point to ponder after all. Many a time we do get tied to the past. In the process of glorifying the past, we tend to forget to live the present. I guess sometimes it might even be a blessing to have amnesia of the past. Not as bad as Ghajini though! ๐Ÿ™‚ There can only be two possibilities, a Great past or a Bad past. Either way we would end up comparing the present as it is with the past and in the first possibility, think of multitude reasonsย  why the present got so screwed up and in the latter possibility, we would still brood over the bad past asking why that had to happen in the first place, forgetting the good fortunate present.ย  So if there is a pill to just wipe off the past after the capturing-lessons-learnt session, it may be good! ๐Ÿ™‚ Beware! I am only talking about memories here not people! Of course how can we separate people from memories, I guess then it would have to be a really complicated pill. So the best recourse would just learn to live in the PRESENT! ๐Ÿ™‚

Another interesting thought of the author that appealed to me is the “worker” definition! He says he doesn’t work and says work is too serious a term. He says he is only energetic in spasms and is free, unlike workers who are tied to the curse of perpetuation.ย  His kind of people finishes work at the end of the day whereas the real worker only abandons it, to pick up for later! ๐Ÿ™‚ How true it is that very few people can actually finish work and get on with their personal lives in the evenings.ย  Many people have work lingering over their self like ghost and can never be “free” from their job.

The story ends almost abruptly, to me but not to the protagonist. He does ‘seem’ to be relieved of his clutching past and is ready to move on with his life. One of his major misguided notions of his alluring past is clarified at the end and I am not sure if that frees him from the tentacles of the past. Let me end this, quoting his words for what he would do next in life,ย  “Well, Life is pregnant with possibilities”.

The very name “The Sea” I think is an allegory to the vast mind that stores waves and waves of past. So pick this book if you are ready for a serious introspection and digressive meditations, and entrance yourself in this literary book! If you are in for a light reading, this one is not for you.

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I believe my daughter is a gift from heaven above!! Truly she is.. I just got off the phone from her summer school teacher and heard that she has already made friends at the school and is happily settled! I may seem to be a doting mother who is surprised when her 6 year old settles in summer school on her first day.. What is the big deal eh.. But consider the following facts, then what I feel may seem justified..

a. This is her first day at any setting close to school in the new country.

b.And it is only 50 days since she moved to this place from her cozy home back in Chennai where she lived with her doting grandparents.

c. And she had so many ‘best’ friends back home who miss her and she calls them almost daily to keep them happy!! Big girl eh!!

d. And she has had no exposure to the American kids yet, as her mom has been confining her to the home, as the mom is busy settling down. No park outings et al..

So what do you think? I can sing the glory of my daughter S right! ๐Ÿ™‚

My daughter S has always been our strong support whenever we topple our lives in many ways!

Right from her infant stage, she was moved between two grandparent’s homes to suit the life of her working mom and her busy schedules. She would beam at the maternal grand mom after being with paternal grand mom for 7 days as if she has been with her all the time!! she would transition so well to her naughty ways, at this grand parents home – like reaching out to the maid there, responding to the watch man uncle’s playful ways!! Then the very next day she would end up staying with paternal grand mom and she would be JUST fine!! That was the way of my little girl even when she hadn’t turned one.. She was pampered by my three sisters, my sister-in-law and the grandparents sooo much and she enjoyed every moment of her limelight…

And was her mom happy to let her be just like that? No! She had to take her away from all the familiar setting and bring her to the US of A. First S’s dad disappeared one fine day at a huge place(airport) one minute he was there and the next gone!! Somehow the little darling S remembered the place where she lost her dad, so the next time around when her mom took her there, she did not want to move to anyone beyond her mom and started waving Bye frantically to her doting thathas and pattis, chithis and athai! She was so happy to see her dad at the US airport after 45 days and she acted as though he was always there. And not one day she asked for her doting grandparents or aunts. What could the parents have done if she was unhappy and cranky missing the folks back home? She was blissfully happy with just her parents. She made life so much easier for her parents by being the best kid at the daycare as well. Her daycare teacher once said a prayer after the parent-teacher one on one meeting. Her prayer was “Please God, give S’s parents the right attitude to identify the potential of their daughter S. She may even be the President of India.” (I am not mincing words here. The prayer just stunned us then and made us speechlessย  :))

Later few years down, the little one’s parents decide to move back to India and again guess who was their mascot? S again.. She was so amazing and helped her parents transition into the old ways again! She not once asked for the luxuries she was exposed to, in the US of A. She loved going around in autos and trains and what not, even on her first day to the school, she went alone and managed to enjoy there still not knowing to utter a word in Tamil though she could follow the language. All it took was 10 days for her to learn the language and settle down in the school. She was the darling to all her teachers the three years she spent at the school and every open day was like all Appreciations for her at the school..

You take her on any pleasure trip/vacation, even at 10.30 in the night when you are ready to call it a day, she wouldnt be ready!! Thatz how much of a sport she is! She toured the Europe non-stop for 10 days with her parents and her parents did not for a moment regret bringing a 3.5 year old with them!

Then after 3 yrs in India and after the addition of a baby brother to the family, S’s parents decide to come back to the US and there again it is S who breezes through the sea change! Her mom worried if she will be able to follow accents and would that put her down, but she was like so cool about the change.ย  Her first question in the cab from the airport to the hotel was about the driving side in the cab. Why is the driver sitting in the wrong side of the car? She was that observant of the little things that had changed and was welcoming the change. Every home we checked out for moving in, she would find in there, a perfect spot for her Disney camp and when we later tell her that home was not the one we would be moving into, she wouldnt complain and ask when we are going to check out a new place.

We also took her to school tours to find the right school for her and in one particular school, after about half of the tour, she removed the Visitor sticker from her dress and said she was already part of the school and no longer a visitor! That zapped us and the Principal of the school and needless to say we got her enrolled into the school into second grade though she is eligible only for first grade per her age! ๐Ÿ™‚

I truly believe she is our family’s lucky mascot and a precious darling at that!! S, We love you more that words can express!!

 

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