Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Memoirs of a vacation..

I dropped my 8 year old at my parents place and took the 6.22 am Veraval Express from Udupi to meet my husband, Sagar at Kudal. Sagar drove down from Pune in our Grey A star and had spent 2 nights already in Konkan. I was greeted with a warm hug and a red-mud coated car, which had already taken the flavour of Konkan on itself.
We had lunch at Kudal and left to a recommended home stay in a place called Parule. The GPS takes you to the village, but later the direction to get to the location, uses a language of Pimpul no:1, Vad no:3, so on and so forth. Pass the first Pimpul tree, take thrid right until you see the temple and then take first left, go on until you pass 3 Vad trees...
This Samant's house we were headed to, was a little more complicated. Sagar was on the phone with them. Sagar loves to talk, understand the language, usage of words, tone,intonation, notice gestures of people, all differing from one village to another. Meeting every 'treemark' we surpassed the 2 Pimpal trees, finally took the left and were headed our home stay, at the Samants.
One of his daughters who was on the phone with Sagar giving directions, was a little taken aback seeing me on the drivers seat. I wondered why, for a a moment and then held back on starting my judgement process. From the car park on the road, their house was almost 50 feet below. The road was not leveled and it was a walk downhill and then a group of 4 independent houses, with a cow shed of 5 cows ( 4 Indian bred, 1 Jersey) and 2 buffaloes in the middle. Guru Samant's house was in the end.We were greeted by a group of 7 ladies in varying age groups.Each coming out either solitary or with someone and checking us out.Expressive and inquisitive eyes were questioning, judging and making impressions of us, we could see. Since none of the rooms were available, they gave us a room inside the house. A 10x10 feet room with 1 window. They wouldn't charge us for the stay , but would charge us only for the food. I was tired from my journey , didn't want to look around,found the ladies friendly, knew we wouldn't be spending much time in the room, so said an "yes" to Sagar. Sagar in turn is pretty much okay with any place where people are welcoming.
Once we agreed, we got our 'welcome drink'- Kokam sharbat in our room. There were 2 beds put on the floor and with our 4 bags inside the room, even the meow of a cat seemed to crowd the place !
We freshened up in a common toilet outside the house, and slept for a while. Got good sleep, surely a sign of the body needing it and the surroundings acknowledging it wholeheartedly.
After the nap, we discussed our judgments,perceptions- all that can be made, in a instant, without having any background information in hand. We wondered why there were no 'guys' in the house, how come so many ladies were there, and all these questions led to one single comment- Hope things are okay here! Limited acceptance of anything new, combined with our smartness of urban education, invariably brings up this 'doubt'!
We get out of the room, to be welcomed by this huge 6 feet guy, bear chested full of hair , sweat oozing out from every part of his body, and adorned with a dirty shorts resting just below his paunch. But the eyes though not highlighted in his hair laden body, had an innocence,which spoke with all honesty and pride. We finally get to meet the 'MAN' of the house, the owner, Guru Samant, who is a cook by profession. He does the catering business and charges(according to us) very nominal. For any function in their own village, he doesn't even charge money. Sagar started talking to him and after getting to know a basic structure of what he does for a living, I dissuaded myself from the conversation and started observing him. He was just like 'Bhalu' from the Jungle book. Hair had taken over his body and was starting to come out of his ears and nose too.The colour of his body, was a dark shade- I couldn't distinguish if it was by birth or the effect of the scorching sun falling on it repeatedly. Some parts among that had also begun to grey. The pot belly suited his body structure, emulating his liking for food! I extrapolated from my side, that he would have a loud and innocent laugh :) Never got a chance to verify it though.
He along with the ladies, explained the whole family structure and then we got to know how wife, 2 daughters, sister, sister in law sisters grand daughter,another lady working for them, all made up the big group of ladies we were greeted with at the entrance :)
Now with a changed perceptions of the hosts and feeling connected, we left to Bhogave beach,the closest beach to Parule. Though its all the Arabian sea, I have realised, every beach has a different personality, probably it absorbs some of the traits of the people living by it. We saw a beautiful, pollution free sunset, walked a long stretch and headed back.
Back in the house, the lady of the house was now peeling the 'kokum'  fruit.They differentiate the fruit from the skin and use both of them individually after further processing. All the kokum was from their 'wadi' ( a huge garden encompassing huge trees,fruits of which are mostly used for commercial sale) . I tried my hand at it, but soon realised my pace and action was far from her finesse.As we were chatting with her. the group of 3 dogs,all loitering in the house suddenly ran into the wadi and broke into a unison loud bark.  The lady in front of me, shouted out to her youngest ( the only other male member of the house) to check what had happened. She said it could be anything from a snake to a leopard. Apparently leopards have been spotted in that area a lot of times.I loved the fact that an adventure could happen at any instance in their life. Their life seemed so alive!
Dinner was filled with chatter and conversation. Another family from Vasai were also staying there and we all spoke about just random topics. We then went on a after dinner stroll and walked into a temple which had the Gayatri mantra playing on record. I realised as I entered the temple, that after 9 pm, is probably the best time to visit an Indian temple to observe the energy and sanctity of the place. We sat there for a while, read all the boards of moral science wordings put up on their walls. We couldnt really connect with the sanctity of the place,even with the background music on; so we relooked at each other, and left .
Though I had slept in the afternoon, though it was one of the smallest rooms I have ever slept in, I got amazing sleep and woke up fresh at 6 in the morning.We decided to  walk up to the Tsunami island, another tourist spot which was a 20 minute walk from Samant's house. It was a beautiful walk with jackfruit, mango and vad trees accompanying us along the way. I also saw 2 hornbills that flew over a tree, perched for couple of minutes and flew away. It was like they made a pit stop especially for me. Once we reached the coast, we realised there were no boats yet ready to take us to the Tsunami island.Then a young guy in his late 20s came by and asked us what we wanted. He had a house there on the coast and also rented out kayaks for tourists. He was fondly known as Rama in the village. Soon we both were seated on one of Ramas kayaks and set sail on the Karli river at 7.30 in the morning. The river was all to us. This definitely was a rare sight for any tourist spot in India, where you butt brush across people continuously and lose the sense of your identity.
It was romantic,if I may use the word, but the connotation was beyond just the two of us. It was the sky, the sun, the sand, the water all blessing us and telling us its okay to be different and alone, as long as you are true to yourself!
We dragged the kayak on the island and walked past the small island and sat on one of the shacks for 10 minutes. As we got back, we realised there was one more kayak and both were almost 90% under water. We ran and caught the kayak and realised, Rama had come to get us, because the level of water was rising and we had to head back.
We headed back along with Rama, understanding the nuances of  kayaking against the flow of water.In continuance of the conversation, I asked him, what his qualification was.He replied-MA,LLB!We both simultaneously gave him a look.He along with couple of his friends decided to stay back in his village 3 years back. They were ridiculed back then, but are bringing tourist business into the village and getting a second chance from their fellow villagers. He also takes Maths classes for the village kids, as he loves the subject and wants to be in touch with it. Sagar just asks him,how much money one would need to live in a village like theirs.Rama answers. "For a family of 5- around 5-6K. I immediately wonder where we stay!! where a salary of over 1 lakh is also not enough for a family of 3!!  Difference being that they get everything they 'need' right at their backyard. And we go all over the place just defining 'basic needs'or should I say 'basic wants'..
After having lunch at the Samants, we decided to see their wadi once and leave from there. In the short 10 minute walk with one of the daughters, we realised the family was divided and everyone had their share of trees marked. Even though there were no physical demarcations, the fruits of the respective trees were mutually identified accurately.
Another feature of any of these native, less populated villages is that wherever you go, there is a local dog which accompanies you either behind, ahead or along with you. Depending on the perceptive you see from, you may find the dog a follower,a guide or a companion.One such dog stayed with us and brought us back to the house as a companion.
As we got our bags ready, one of the ladies of the house asks me"What do you do?" I was surprised, for the little I talk, I rarely get asked about myself.Though now, I explain to her what I do, to which she quips back - "Oh! I thought you were in the police. You look like a police officer !"
I smiled from the bottom of my heart and felt at peace to have lived my childhood dream, though in another's imagination, atleast for a couple of days.
That definitely was the icing on the cake!!


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

IDENTITY

Have you wondered how life would have been, had you been named something else? Who you would have been, had you been born in another family? Are we actually only reflections of our interactions, stimuli, influences?

The baby once 'named' is looked upon with the meaning of the name bestowed. Who knows anything about the new born baby or 11 day old baby while naming him/her. Yet we correlate, draw conclusions and conclude based on the name. If born in a family of musicians, every early step towards the 'notes' is noted and high pitched. Not refuting science and its DNAed structure, but there could be a child born in a musician family who has a soft note for animals sealed over his/her music abilities. Wonder if it is ever identified?
School I believe is the first space that forms part of our identity. If you are in the same school for 10 or more years, there definitely is so much of you still there! This includes nicknames, competitions, group interactions, one on one relation with the opposite sex, 'you' in the eyes of your teacher, friends, etc etc.. .Some of them though false, we hold on and live with all our lives. Wonder if there is a re-look at this disguised identity, ever?

'Family' is another social structure that contributes to a big part of your identity while growing up and continues to be with you for life. Social pressure also adds to this bond. Very rarely are bonds in family really open and up for acceptance based on the real person. Most of the time- the mothers side or fathers side overpowers and the other gives way subdued. The kids follow suit. A friend from the theater fraternity once quoted , ' most of the drama actually happens in the family!'. And the more I think of it, the more I crack up and realise how true it is.  You are a mother, father, daughter, son, (inlaw), child, grandchild, sister, niece, aunt, ... all of the above having expectations defined both during 'role definition' and 'role playing'. To be able to influence, to be accepted, to be part of the whole, we probably keep playing our parts dutifully. Once you start your own family, the drama doubles! Wonder if the family grows with you or grows on you ??

The career you take on from the 20s of your life- definitely should be the closest to who you are. You culminate your education, do a specialised course in it and are ready to do your bit for all . Why then do I find so often people 35+ working in a totally different industry/ field, that they have been educated in? Reasons given - opportunity, money, change of interest.. etc etc. The education  you earn definitely makes you capable of being employed and saleable, but after spending 10 hours a day, continuously for 15 years- suddenly one day, there is a question - wonder if I want to keep doing this??

In mid life then , you go in search of the identity. The forest, the mountains, the trees, the river, the ocean, wild animals, the tiny little birds, the simple people of the village, all seem so much more a part of you - when in reality you havent spent enough time at all with them all through your life!
Wonder if it is just a refreshing moment away from the monotonous boredom? Or I wonder if in reality it is an element of the universe you are yearning to identify yourself with!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Dark D

I saw him yesterday, enter through the doors of the ICU . He rushed in, the curtain separating my Doddas bed blew open and he engulfed her. She clinched her tummy in excruciating pain. In unison both my aunts and my mother, started chanting mantras. All different or probably same, I didn't understand. They three held her-  hands, legs, pressed her stomach and 'she' my Dodda, though in pain, was mumbling gods name herself. Then suddenly he left...
It was as though the counter power of prayer pushed him out of the room. He came back at least thrice in the 1.5 hours I was there. Every time he came, I stood stiff holding back my tears and slowly realising the intensity of the ultimate truth.
It was my first close encounter to the process of dying.
Until the age of 25, I didn't fear death.. then I fell in love. One door of emotion opened up and they all poured in. Yesterday as I returned home from the ICU, I was overwhelmed with fear. As a counteraction I wanted to disassociate myself with love.
I cried all night and realised I cant do it. The dark D will keep doing his work and attack every loved one. Until then, fear and helplessness need to lie low, somewhere difficult to find!  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

LOVE ACTUALLY...

I have always wondered what the actual meaning of 'love' is. Yesterday in our school whatsapp group, there was a discussion on, ' I wonder how you can fall in love only once!'
I agree you cannot fall in love only once. If I could say, I probably fall in love everyday. And when I do so, I really feel good and sleep well.
So I decided to define this feeling through all the attributes that I feel it represents. First is 'chemical reactions'. I believe like we have the universal donor group of O+, some people possess chemicals that universally attract other chemicals. Its already in the DNA. Infatuations could fall under this category.
Second attribute is 'attraction'. This includes all physical features, like eyes, nose, hair, height, color of skin, gait etc etc . Going a level deeper, this could also include qualities that you yourself don't possess and have always aspired to have. This usually falls under the head of 'talents'. A talented person is usually liked and loved by a lot more people.
There are accordingly to me some negative aspects also that lead you to the 'love' feeling. Loneliness - being bored from your routine, lack of hobbies and not having regular healthy human interactions could make one feel the want of 'love' in ones life. Continuing on those lines, lack of sex life , may also lead you to the want of a loved one.
Any of the above attributes, either by itself or in solidarity cannot be called love!  For the simple reason that, so many other 'loves', ( like the mother- daughter, brother -sister, best friends) wouldn't make sense then. The definition of love has to be universal to take in all types of relations and passion and yet make sense to a 6 year old, 16 year old and also a 60 year old.
My objective as mentioned above, is pretty simple; When in love, I need to sleep well: 'no worries, no ifs and buts!' In the process of raising an 8 year old daughter, I have come up with this hypothesis:
Love is understanding and acceptance .
Both mighty words, with a lot of strength and weight attached.
Understanding according to me is the first big step. Once you get on there, a lot of negatives and reality gets thrown at you. Sometimes you just stop there and realise, how wrong things are. The foot doesn't raise to the next step at all. Fear, rules, society, expectations can all act as hindrances to go to the next step.
However like the birds that take flight, with openness and space one probably could go one to the next step. Like getting over the comfort zone, is a revelation; so is also taking this mighty step. When you move from the comfort to the uncomfortable and accept to learn something from it, a magic just happens!
My hypothesis, I believe  holds true for any kind of love : human- human, human -nature. human- art, human - sport, human- books, so on and so forth. So yeah, according to this, I fall in love everyday- with a new piece of music, a new dance step, a new thought, a creative piece of literature I read.
As regards falling in love with humans, I am happy falling in love with my loved ones again and again- understanding and accepting in them something new, everyday!!!!
Love  ....

Monday, October 17, 2016

NO RIGHT, NO WRONG, ONLY CONSEQUENCES!

In this fast paced world of today, I think this is the only line that makes absolute sense. Education teaches you one, knowledge questions exactly that and wisdom overrides both and lets you chose. 
I ran my second marathon yesterday- 5 k. My daughter ran her first 3 k and my husband ran 10 k for the first time. We did our bests , enjoyed, and ran beyond ourselves, felt accomplished and since we ran with a group of society members , there was a huge sense of camaraderie. 
Overall this whole experience of 'running' though a fad now, is chosen by many for health benefits. As a consequence if you feel young, get into shape, feel happy and also help some cause , it definitely seems like a win win situation; something you would like to be part of. 
So through this whole experience what all did we gain? 
- We got 3 t shirts- more to the list of already many 
- We got 3 goody bags- bags are always welcome, as are wants! 
- We got some gift vouchers  - those that make you spend more. 
- We all collected 3 medals - that cajoles your sense of achievement 
- Loads of ego boosting photos- 'Finisher' , " Champion ' , " I did it '! 

But also, as I ran, and then drove past that road , I noticed 1000s of platic water bottles thrown on the roads. 1000s of tetrapack juice boxes on the ground all over. We had breakfast there in paper plates and plastic spoons, meaning atleast 12,000 odd of them consumed and generated as waste. Charity causes get a small portion of the ticket money if you run for a cause, else it is mostly joint publicity. 

So keeping all the accomplishments on the table, I still didnt feel all that great.... 
This morning, I had a kathak performance at a Cancer and Aids Foundation, where we a group of 5 girls with our Guru performed in front of terminally ill patients. I must have performed in all for 7 minutes. But the smiles and claps I received from a group of 25 people touched my soul somewhere really deep. The feeling that was missing yesterday, seemed to have filled in beyond limits today. 

Was it a feeling that I brought a smile to someone's face, or made someone forget that, that he/ she may not see tomorrows sunshine; make me more accomplished????

Or was it trying to increase the fun filled breaths in someones life more meaningful than trying to increase a couple of years of my own life???

Being extremely thankful for what I already have and having the energy and choice to do what I think and feel is right, I made my choice today. 

In the remaining marathon of my life, I will continue to run towards the truth and reality of giving and run away from just the gaining and consuming of things. 

Again there is no right or wrong.. only consequences. I just like the consequence that makes me happier ! ! ! 


Monday, September 26, 2016

Waning...

'Wane' implies a fading of that which has reached a peak of force , excellence. 

I believe everything like the moon, waxes and wanes...

Like when you wax the floor it gets brighter and more attractive;  the whole waxing process seems to be so positive. Theres growth, so there is joy. Theres joy, so there is learning. Theres learning, so there are achievements. And with achievements, I guess,  also comes the baggage of some attachments . 

Attachments in terms of memories and meaning. Somewhere unknowingly there could also be blend with the whole process of growth and one starts associating oneself with it. 
This association then gets a reason and an identity and somewhere becomes part of you. 

Does close association with people also make this process involuntary? The mother-child relationship, the husband - wife bond, a soul mate friendship.. do they all go through this phase? The feeling of moving forward, understanding oneself and going beyond all take you to such a happy space:) Life seems to be on the right track... 

But the lunar cycle cant be extended ... can it? The waning process cant be pushed forward.. can it? The joy of association cant be held on forever.. and the pain of disassociation cant be prolonged... can it???

How do you then handle the disassociation? What if the reason, meaning, of life start to shake? You know its going away from you. Do you try to supplement it with some other new relationship? Will there be a new growth? It might work for some.. 

But I doubt if it will for me.. When I close my eyes and dwell as in, what is it that is actually disassociating itself from me. I realise, after a whole turmoil of pain and sadness, that there actually is no disassociation. The relation , the memory, the meaning is become a part of me.. and its already transcending to someone/ something else that I continue to do in my life.. 

Grandparents, teachers, friends, relatives, children, all wax and wane with you in life, but I feel there is something of them that becomes part of you during that process and isnt that what continues to connect others who come along  in our remaining life?  


couple of lines from Tagores poem... 
The river runs swift with a a song, 
breaking through all barriers, 

But the mountains stays and remembers , 
and follows her with his love ! 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

FOR-GIVE

Has there been an instance where there is this one thing ( or many things) that irks you in a relationship? You feel ... 'if only.... else we would have lived happily every after' :) 

It could be your relationship with your boss, colleague, mother, father, in-laws, sister, brother, kids, husband, friends... anyone who is part of your day to day life. The irritation is affecting you , and there is no way out. 

It also could be an incident, a habit, personal behavior, choice of friends, any such thing. You also might have discussed it umpteen times, but still it continues to bother you. Some incidents could have affected you more deeply than others. And the after effect of anger, hurt, humiliation hasn't gone away yet. Confrontation has been done and you probably have received an apology and / or 'will try to work on it' too. What then?? 
Some problems you learn to deal with , you learn to live with. But I dont quite know how this works. It really hasn't worked for me; probably because I am not doing it right.  When I have tried this, the feelings kept coming back, at the slightest references or associations. It is more of a procrastination technique than solving technique.  You are fine for a couple of weeks, then there is some link up and the damn anger, negative feeling is back. So I am convinced this is not a foolproof method. 

One school of thought says 'you need to get over the sin' , but some others concentrate on 'getting over the thought of the sin'. I personally tend to the second school of thought, since it seems more foolproof.  Now I get down to .. how does one do that? They say 'forget and for give'. But you really never forget. You might forget the good times you had with the person concerned, but the few bad memories stay fresh all the time.. they just dont go.. 
Then how on earth do you forgive without forgetting??? I had to get to the root of this. I didnt want to live my life with negativity cropping up at any random time/ date/ place. 

Like in dumb charades, when you cant explain a word, you break it down... So here too I decided to break the word- 'For' and 'Give'
'For' I knew- I was doing the action for the relationship I held. 'Give' however was confusing. Anyways, I started with whatever I felt I needed to give. Anger, sadness, hurt, guilt, more anger, more sadness, more hurt and more guilt is all I could give. 

So I decided to dwell deeper. When I questioned deeper, I realised, I dont actually 'give' at all. In every relationship I 'give' something to it, only if I have something to 'gain' out of it. When a person is stupid (according to me) I shut off. When a person is boring (according to me) I shut off. When a person is artificial (according to me) I shut off. 
Whereas, when a person is knowledgeable - I am all ears; as I have something to learn. When  a person is funny - I am excited; as I getting entertained. When a person is very energetic - I am in tune; because the energy flows through me too. 

So when do I just give??? Do I even 'give' anything without 'gaining' something out of it? 
OMG, after all this, I am just a very selfish creature! This GG phenomenon is scary !
Kids are certainly out of this whole gamut of gain and give. Thats why they are lovable so universally. So we are born with that feature, but somewhere through our upbringing, growth, education we lose that. 

In management I have learnt- Maximum output with minimum input . You have to gain maximum with minimum to give. But that is for the industry, for the economics to make sense.  It is not for human beings and their relationships?? Is it???? 

I realise it is a humongous task, at the age of 38 to unlearn and reverse the way I look at things. But never the less I am going to try. I am going to try, simply because nothing else is working. Its my last resort to get over the thought of the sin. I am going to 'give ' everything 'for' the relationship I hold and see how far it takes me !