Monday, October 22, 2007

Nature - Please calm down.

To be very honest, I am little disturbed with all these wild fires engulfing Southern California.

I am really concerned because my brother lives in SD and this wild fire is about 5 miles from his place. When I spoke to him and my sis-in-law in the morning, they seem to be very calm and composed. That's good. Panicking makes things worse.

I remember exactly four years back, I was home with my little baby - then 3 months old. We had just moved into a new home and had some problems with the internet connection. We did not have a cable connection to TV as well. On a normal day, I would need only an internet, I can manage to live without TV.

Then, I got a call from my brother saying wild fire was near their home. I had heard of wild fires but I thought they occurred in far , wild places away from human habitat. I had never felt so scared and helpless. My brother had mentioned that he would only give me a ring in case he needs to evacuate. For the first time in my life, I wished he would not call me. I remember every moment of those 48 hours. Everyone was trying hard to put the fire out but it was humongous. Finally, the wind turned away from San Diego, taking the fire with it towards Pacific Ocean. Only nature could tame nature.

Four years hence, I am getting the same chill in my spines. I am praying for nature to calm down and leave us in peace.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Therapy: What works for you?

We all need a break from our schedule. 30 minutes is good enough. Back when I was a in early teens in school, I used to love playing sports. I have played most of the games but was in school team for Throw ball(I guess this is played only in India) and Volleyball. Playing was a therapy for me when I needed some relaxation from studies, which never seemed to end.

As I grew up, I don't remember what particularly used to relax me. Good music, a good book, a good movie , a good chat with a friend - all depending on what the space and time permits. Then I realised my love for driving. It used to soothe me. I did not even need music in my car. A nice drive along quiet neighborhood/countryside was good enough for me. Of course, a good music was like icing on the cake.

Speaking of cake, I love cakes and chocolates and cookies. In fact, even now I need to have a cookie when I drink tea. I tried hard in cutting down on all these for health reasons. I am reasonably successful in cakes and chocolates. But I gave it up on restricting cookie intake. After all, if one is not able to enjoy small pleasures of life, what's the fun? I recently read the book - "Chocolatherapy: Satisfying the Deepest Cravings of Your Inner Chick ". I realised that even though I really crave for all these nice , fattening stuff, they are not my therapy.

I am not a shopaholic either. My shopping spree is generally over in 30 minutes. I go to a mall/shop, look around for what I want and if I like something and price is within my capacity, I am done. Unlike others, I never used to consider shopping as a therapy for me. Well, that is till recently. In the past couple of months, whenever my work has got overwhelming and I needed a small break, I have gone and shopped for clothes for myself. Though it has just been 3 times, it has done wonders to me. I am happy about my new clothes and am rejuvenated and back in action to complete my task. I can say the same for blogging. Whenever I post something, my spirits are high and I am ecstatic. Maybe, now it is time for some tea and cookies.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Meditation as the way of life

Since time immemorial, meditation has calmed the human mind and spirit. It has been introduced in various forms in different parts of the world over different times. But idea is the same - to get in touch with oneself. Many of my friends have benefited from Vipassana. I myself have not got a chance to try it out yet.

When I was a teenager, my dad learnt yoga. At that time, my brother was away in hostel and my mom too busy with her daily chores . Since I was the only one who seemed to be pretty idle, I became the recipient of my dad's yoga teachings. The yoga consisted of 3 sections - Pranayam (yoga breathing), exercise and meditation. The whole act would take 1 hour. For me 1 hour is too much of an effort for anything like yoga or exercise. The max I can give for anything like this is 20 -30 minutes. I started learning mainly because of the yoga exercise. But later I realised it does not help you lose weight but tone your body. The meditation helps to tone mind and accept yourself as you are.

The main concern for me was my dad was an early riser and would practise at 4:00 am . He would insist that I get up and learn at the same time. You can imagine my plight. On most days while meditating, I would drift off to sleep. The whole practise lasted for less than a month and then I gave up. Sporadically I would practise yoga for 30 minutes at a time convenient for me but with time, that too weaned off.

Later, my dad tried to pull me into morning walks. Again he would go for a walk at 5:00 -5:30 am in the morning. As a teenager, I had never risen before 6:30 am unless in cases of dire emergencies like exam (But now life has changed and it is a different story).

I remember once he pulled me off my bed and we went off for a walk in the near by park. The sun had not risen yet. So we had to make our way through the moon light and the park lights. In the park, I could see people sitting in groups and practicing exercise or meditation. I admired them for their courage (waking up at 5:00 am to mediate needs courage, at least for me) and their interest in keeping healthy body and mind. At some distance, I could see more profiles sitting in groups together. The only difference was these people looked lot more huge and bulky. I thought the groups were divided depending upon the size of a person -maybe kind of exercise depends on the weight and shape of the person. I moved closer to the group only to realise that it was actually a herd of buffaloes sleeping. That's when I became fully awake with my eyes wide open. I tiptoed back silently, not to disturb them from their sleep and joined back my dad in the side walk.

This is when I understood that whatever I wanted to realise in life, I need to do it fully awake else I can bump into things which might result in not-so-happy situations. Being fully awake in body and mind definitely makes one calmer and peaceful.

Friday, October 5, 2007

License to drive

My driving experience started in India. At that time, we used to own a white Ambassador car . My dad used to very attached to it and would say it/she was like his daughter. What ? When you have such a sweet daughter like me, why on the earth would you ever consider a gigantic Ambassador car as your daughter! My brother on the other hand would tease me that both me and the car were the "motuest(fat) things in the world!" Grr...

I learnt lot of driving from my mom and brother. In fact, I was the one who knew the difference between gears - 4 and reverse in the car. Anyone who has experience driving an Ambassador would know what I am saying. These two gears are so close in this car that many times, one would be looking back after putting the reverse gear only to see the car move forward ! I would differentiate between the clicks of the gear. When my mom wanted to reverse the car, she would wait for my approval to take her feet off the brakes. And mind you, the gears would be so hard, you need to put half your strength just to take the car out of the home.

For getting the driver license, I got enrolled into a driving school. The driving schools taught only in Maruti cars as they were getting very popular at that time. After having some experience driving Ambassador, driving Maruti was like driving a toy car. When the instructor asked me to put the first gear, remembering my good old pal at home, I used half my force to do what I was told. The instructor looked at me astonished "Do you learn karate? If you use this much force, the gears of this car will be damaged". It was a relief to know that driving will not result in putting Iodex(cream to relieve muscular pain) in arms.

Driving a Maruti was pretty easy and fun. Somehow, I was able to cajole my dad to buy a Maruti car. We bought a nice blue car from my mom's friend. They had kept the car in a very good condition and it was well equipped with music stereo and AC. What more can a teenager ask for! I have very fond memories of my college days driving it around. And yes I got my first license on Oct 9, a decade back. I remember I had to miss my dear friend Inder's birthday but having a license to drive was a gratification of it's own.

11 years hence I am still missing his birthday today on Oct 9 2007.

Happy Birthday Inder! Wishing you a wonderful life with your wonderful wife, Arc.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Rare Gems

The environment in which we dwell has a great impact on our mind and growth. I truly admire good people whose goodness gets rubbed on to us and strong people who inspire us to go that extra mile against all odds.

While growing up in Delhi, I knew one very pious and nice family of 4. Their house used to homely and there was a certain calm and sereneness in the atmosphere. Theirs was the only home where a cat and dog would drink water from the same bowl without fighting. I believe the goodness got rubbed on to the pets too. They used to have plants from various parts of India growing in their deck. Irrespective of the specific conditions a certain plant needs to grow, they all grew well in their home. Both Uncle and Aunt were well educated. They understood philosophy of life was to be good and spread goodness. Their quest for knowledge was phenomenal. They had a room to collect grocery "lifafas" (bag made of local newspapers) . According to Uncle these contained some very interesting tit bits and he would read them during his past time. The Aunt was very talented and she would promote art in all forms - pottery, local handicrafts, paintings from various parts of India. Those days, local artists would sometimes knock at the doors requesting people for buying their works. These artists were not well to do and needed money to support the family. If anyone knocked at their door and his works were good, the Aunt would buy most of the paintings and call all her friends/acquaintances to look at the art and buy if interested. She would even try to help them establish their own business or recommend them to local arts store.

We are now more tolerant to the various religions and castes India boasts off. As a child I have experienced some very bitter religious clashes in my neighborhood. In those days, this family adopted a kid who was Muslim and had become an orphan. The kid had come to their home for some food and they asked him to stay with them. His name was "Mahiyam". They taught him and sent him to school. He grew up into a fine young man. Their own sons were also very nice to him and I am sure this kid got the greatest gift from god - parents. After all, just giving birth does not qualify one to become good parent.It is giving a good life to a child that makes one a good parent.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

An era to be remember

Oct 2. I always used to remember this day - one because it was a holiday from school and second, it was Birthday of one of the greatest political and spiritual leader of all times. I have read and written essays on Gandhi (in both Hindi and English) in my school days so many times that I could have recited his entire life history while I was asleep. My parents remember the day too but in the reverse order of importance. Even though they were very young when India gained independence, they admire the qualities and virtues of Mahatma. The generation of my grandfather and grandmother would definitely understand what freedom means. They were the ones who crossed the border from being ruled by British to Free India.

As life and generations change, so do values and virtues of what is important to us. Today while I was dropping my daughter to school, I told her it is Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. She asked me who was that. I was giving her a very brief introduction of him when she asked me what is freedom and independence struggle? I could not give an answer to her understanding. But it set me thinking. Over times, the struggle for independence and freedom has changed from country, to states, to families, to self. The next generation would never understand what a freedom struggle for country mean and this day might be lost as any other day of the year. And I understand that I must have forgotten days that were important to my parents. But life goes on.

People are born to change the world, some succeed and some just follow. It might be beyond human's comprehension to remember all the people who contributed to the betterment of the world. But as individual, we can still remember the people whom we think made the life different. Mahatma Gandhi is just one of the many people, I admire for simplicity and virtues.

As he said "Be the change you want to see in the world." And here is a link to hear a short speech in his own voice :

To evolve or not...