Monday, December 24, 2007


She stands at the fork in the road. She has no road map in hand. There are no signs directing her, no co-travelers to help her along. She is all alone. And in a dilemma. Which road to choose? Both are one ways. Once a road is chosen, she cannot back track. Both look equally good or equally bad. Dimly lit. She cannot see what lies ahead.

She pauses, hesitates. Something tells her these paths are mutually exclusive. What lies on one path can't be found on the other. She would rather remain at that point than choose either of the two paths that lie ahead of her and lose all that lies on the other path, but her time is running out. She must make a decision soon.

She's scared to make that one decision which might significantly alter the course of her journey ahead. She wishes she were a child again, when parents - who always hoped for her best- would take the important decisions for her and she would obediently follow them. 'It's easy when others take your decisions for you - that way you have someone other than yourself to blame when things go wrong", she thinks, with a wry smile. But, deep down, she knows that she would rather be the one who decides, that she is grown up now, and, must decide for herself and , while basking in the joy of good decisions, must also take the brunt of the wrong ones.

She hears voices in her head, asking her to think carefully, to go on the path leading to what she really wants. She decides to introspect. To realise what she really wants, what her heart desires the most - at the moment. True, the desires are always changeable, and at a later date, she might want the very thing that she gave up. But, that is a risk she has to take. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and there would surely be moments when she would curse herself for not having gone on the other path. But it would happen no matter which path she chose. No one can peep into the future and see which of the paths lead to a happy end. But, happiness is always a state of mind, and, she decided not to look back once her decision was made and, come what may, find her happiness in her decision.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both

Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference"
[Robert Frost, "The road less traveled"]

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'd rather have you with me......

My friend had once told me about this poem he read. I have tried since then, to get that poem online - but the effort's been futile [esp. as I know neither the title of the poem, nor the name of the poet :D] . I do not remember the lines exactly, but I remember the essence, and, it goes something like -
"Why is it, that when you are with me, I find myself unable to write anything,
but, when you are away, I fill pages and pages with writings of Love and Longing?
I'd rather have you with me and have my pages empty ."

One can easily agree with me when I say I echo this.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

I remember, I remember.......

I Remember, I Remember

I remember, I remember
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon
Nor brought too long a day;
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away.

I remember, I remember
The roses red and white,
The violets and the lily cups--
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday,--
The tree is living yet!

I remember, I remember
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing;
My spirit flew in feathers then
That is so heavy now,
The summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow.

I remember, I remember
The fir-trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance,
But now 'tis little joy
To know I'm farther off from Heaven
Than when I was a boy.

Thomas Hood

Read a lovely article by Vanita Dawra Nangia in the Times today. [The O-zone column]. She reminisces about her childhood days, remembering incidents from school days and how things that had affected her deeply back then seem trivial now. That images crumble and things diminish with time. She makes a lovely statement - "Childhood magnifies everything. Even buildings take on bigger dimensions than in reality. I remembered the school building to be much bigger than what I actually found it to be"

Experienced this when i went to Kundapur for Ganapati this year. Kundapur was a haven for us kids. A childhood paradise. Well, at some point all of us non-kundapur-ites have wished to have been living there. As kids, a huge one acre land - filled with mango and jackfruit trees, a rambling house, filled with wondrous nooks and corners to be explored, a lovely 'maaLi' of our own, with the huge swing, the river in walking distance, the sea at an hour's drive - was heaven on earth. The days spent idling away in the 'hittal' under the trees, by the lake; plucking mangoes and guavas; on the swing, swinging away with as much force as our little legs had, to the latest hit hindi songs playing on the tape recorder; trips planned by adults to Udipi or Mangalore, always with some 8 -9 kids in tow, ending with a Gudbud and Masala dosa at Paarijaata; the regular deliveries of 'Charmbura upkari' [Bhel] and Homemade ice cream from Annayya's little stall; the ice-candies bought at 25 p ; the countless games of cards, khambada aata and tons of other make-believe games; fights and patch-ups - Summer holidays at Kundapur used to be the highlight of each year. The house seemed huge, the town - confusing to navigate, the town temple - impressive, Kundeshwar seemed too far to walk, Mamamma was the omnipotent, strong matriarch, and Kundapur - the perfect heaven, resistant to change, resistant to adulteration, pristine and pure.

Went to Kundapur after an year - or was it two? - for Ganapati festival. This time, surprisingly, it felt as though I was looking at it anew. The house was not the gigantic place that existed in my memory, the doors [Hebbagila] didn't seem as impressive, the land - not as rambling as before, the swing - more compact, the town - much smaller, and, sadly, less populated; the town temple seemed like a small shrine. It was greatly unsettling. I couldn't relate this place to the memories I had of it. The town was the same - at least, in size and layout. Yet it seemed different. What made it so was the change in perspective. The Child had gone. It was an Adult now, trying to find the paradise of her childhood in the place that it now is. But an adult can never find the world as marvelous as a child does. An adult has seen the reality and found it to be harsh. The adult finds it impossible to shy away from the truth - that the town is changing; the shops selling home-made ice cream are no more; that Mamamma has aged and is growing weaker and, might not be around one day; that all fights can not end with a "forgive and forget"; that no matter how hard we swing, it is sometimes impossible to touch the sky; that the idyllic times of childhood are never going to return; that life is about earning enough, making a career, finding leave, short vacations, long and hectic work days, deadlines and appraisals, difficult choices, break ups and heart aches, adjustments, compromises, illnesses, responsibilities, separations and death. That people we idolized as kids have their own fair share of faults, and those whom we hated were not demons. In fact, there is no black and white, just gray; varying shades of it.

Yet, the adult finds respite in those brief lapses into childhood - where the mind, for a moment, forgets all that it's "learnt" and becomes innocent again and travels into a non-adult world. A world where Dreams are dreamt and they do come true, where situations are binary - yes/no, like/don't like, 1/0 - and not complex. The adult-turned-child then laughs, dreams, believes - and finds hope that life isn't meaningless after all. That no matter how dreary things might seem, Life is beautiful enough to Live - and to Live it whole-heartedly! The swings are still there, one just needs to believe that one can touch the sky - and, who knows, one fine day, it just might happen!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lucky, very lucky

There have been times when I used to crib about my luck, that exams would always have questions from the chapters I hadn't studied, that I would always get the toughest expts in practical exams, that Murphy would rule supreme, so on and so forth. But now no more. After my miraculous escape yesterday and the incredible luck that I had, I dont think I shall ever make a sound about being "unlucky". Ok, I get it that I am not making sense, so, let me tell the story from the start.

Woke up with a bad cold yesterday. It being saturday, it was lab meeting day. But since I wasn't presenting, it was enough if I reached by 2:30 PM. Left home by 1:45. Should reach comfortably, I thought, especially since there isn't much traffic in the afternoons. The 12 km ride to IISc started off as usual, nothing new, some guys cutting you across, you cutting off some others, some signals, the usual roads, nothing different. Then, after crossing Majestic, on the sloping road, in the shadow of the overhead railway tracks, lay the Hole. The Pothole to put all other Potholes to shame. A small, 6 - 8 inch deep, innocuous looking thing. It was so placed that I could see it only when I was nearly over it. And I could not swerve fast enough to avoid it. In went the scooty and the front wheel got jammed in it. The scooty catapulted, throwing me on to the road. Then, the vehicle fell on to my body and rolled over me to the other side. I remember weird thoughts running through my head - "shit! Just bought a new mobile, might get damaged in the fall", " how damaged is the vehicle?", "Am I holding up the traffic?", "Will get late going to campus today" etc etc. A motorcyclist stopped and helped me get up, a maruti alto stopped a few metres away and the driver got out and rushed. As I got up I figured out I was fine, just a few scratches and nothing more, remember thinking that it was really good that I always wore a helmet. Then, when people tried to move the scooty they realised that the front wheel fork bend had got bent, and the front wheel was jammed and not moving. The motorcyclist and the car driver together tried kicking the wheel and trying to get it move. Though I wondered once if they would cause more harm than good, I decided to just leave the matter to people with more idea about vehicles.

Called the Bean. Said he'd turn up there. By then, the people helping me had flagged down a luggage auto and had haggled over the price with him. He agreed for 80 rs to take it to the nearest garage. These guys then lifted the scooty into the auto and the motor bike wala ofered to follow the auto and drop me off at the garage. Off we went to a garage near Nataraj theatre. Prakash, the motor cycle guy, asked me if I had money to pay the auto, else he could do that and also waited till the garage guys diagnosed the problem. He told me that he worked for marketing for SBI credit cards. When I thanked him for helping, his only reply was "If I had had an accident, someone else would have helped. It is ok" I was really touched.

The garage workers told me that the shaft had broken, had to be welded, also, it had been bent and had to be straightened. Also, some mis alignment had happened and had to be set right. Trivial.

The real impact of the accident hit me when Prakash said, "The scooty can be repaired but thank God, you are alright. The manner in which you fell made me feel that you might have broken your backbone or your hip." True. The possibilities are frightening - brain damage, neck fracture, spinal damage, hip fracture - any of these could have made me paraplegic, or even a vegetable. A state worse to death. Scares me to the core to think of it. Don't know if it is God's grace, or the protective cocoon of Love that envelopes me, or sheer luck that I came out safe and unscathed.

Have never before felt this thankful to be Alive. Or, as the Bean put it, Alive and Kicking. In the literal sense of the phrase.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The dog-ma of life :)

Got this extremely beautiful forward from Mayam which I'm reproducing here :~)

Life is simple. It is us HUMANS that make it hard.

If a dog was the teacher, you would learn stuff like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

When it's in your best interest, practice obedience

Let others know when they've invaded your territory.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout..! run right back and make friends.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.

Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Emotional quotient :)

Your EQ is 133

50 or less: Thanks for answering honestly. Now get yourself a shrink, quick!

51-70: When it comes to understanding human emotions, you'd have better luck understanding Chinese.

71-90: You've got more emotional intelligence than the average frat boy. Barely.

91-110: You're average. It's easy to predict how you'll react to things. But anyone could have guessed that.

111-130: You usually have it going on emotionally, but roadblocks tend to land you on your butt.

131-150: You are remarkable when it comes to relating with others. Only the biggest losers get under your skin.

150+: Two possibilities - you've either out "Dr. Phil-ed" Dr. Phil... or you're a dirty liar.

What's Your EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient)?
Gave the EQ test - turns out I am remarkable at relating to others :D Or so they say! What do you have to say about this???

Friday, October 26, 2007

No matter how tough you are, Life'll beat you to your knees and keep it there permanently if you let it.

Found these lines on an acquaintance's blog. loved them. Guess we can learn a thing or two from them :

This extract is from the conversation between Rocky Balboa and his son in the sixth episode of the Rocky series. Rocky's son blames him for all the high expectations he faces from the world because his father is "Rocky Balboa". And then Rocky explains him his philosophy of life.

The world ain't all sunshines and rainbows.
It's a very mean and nasty place... and I don't care how tough you are, it'll beat you to your knees and keep it there permanently if you let it.
You, me and nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.
But it ain't about how hard you hit.
It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward...
How much you can take and keep moving forward.
That's how winning is done.
Now if you know what you are worth, go out and get what you are worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits.

Loved these lines. Life isn't fair. Hoping that it will be is idealism - read as "Foolishness". But Life can be beautiful. We have it in us to make it so. There is a saying in Sanskrit which says "Fall like the ball - that bounces back after falling ; Not like the ball of mud, which falls and stays there."

They say "Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal". But I say - One should be aware - of what obstacles one might face while attempting any task. While Optimism is necessary, a baseless optimism can spell doom. We need to find out possible road blocks - and know which are the ones that can be surmounted and which are the ones for which we need to devise an alternative path. I can see that there would certainly be unseen obstacles, but, he, sure, is foolish who would remain willfully blind to the seen ones. And, in spite of the thorns you see on a path, if you feel it is worth taking, then, do take that road and ''ll make all the difference' .

Life, Universe and everything

The Sun shines bright and sunny.
God is in His heaven and all is right in the world.
Storm clouds gather in the horizon.
Gloom descends.
Murphy rules.
Hopes shatter.
Wake up from dreams to the harsh reality.
Once bitten, twice shy.
Lesson well learnt - or so you think.
Time heals wounds - better than any band aid. But scars remain.
Spring arrives.
Taken the plunge. Sinking feeling. You have to let go to be able to float.
Chains break, walls crack.
A ray of sunshine penetrates clouds.
The Moon smiles.
The ice melts.
Fresh sprouts.
The Sun shines bright and sunny.
God is in His heaven and all is right in the world.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The eternal dilemma

Career v/s Family. Professional life v/s personal life. The head v/s the heart. This is an unending battle. And one for which I don't have any answer. I ask people. Friends, family, profs. Everyone has their own answer. True to the saying "Grass is greener on the other side of the fence", several people suggest a course of action opposed to the one they took when faced with the similar dilemma. "Don't compromise on your career, you'll regret it later", "Career may be important, but doesn't mean you neglect family life", "This is the time you build your career. Parents will come around eventually", "Parents are the only people who stick with you till the end. Don't disappoint them", "True Love is hard to find. Don't let go of it", "Don't compromise too much for Love. If it doesn't work, you'll regret giving up so much for it. You'll feel cheated". The views are varied and generally take extreme stands.

Read this amazingly good book called "Tuesdays with Morrie" recently. One of the best books I read of late and, must say, one that had significant influence on me. Made me realize that career is not my entire life. It's just a part of it. There's more to my life than my career. Chasing a career by compromising on everything else will also leave me empty. The right thing to do is to strike a balance. A few compromises on the career front, a few on the personal - to lead a well balanced life :D But sadly not everything in life is a balanced equation.

Sometimes you come to a fork in the road. To choose one road - and one alone - is a must. What if both the roads are equally attractive at the first glance? Choosing one means you sure give up on the other. Maybe forever. Difficult decision. Very difficult decision. In such situations, I remember what two of my best friends told me - Prati and Rashmi.

Prati said - It's all about priority. There's nothing 'right', nothing 'wrong'. Everything might seem attractive. But what You want the most, at that point, is what matters.

Rashmi said the same, in slightly different words. She said - What will most likely happen is that you'll make an instantaneous decision when you come to your bridges. And that's not bad at all. Just don't look back, if you can. Treasure the past, but accept that it will never be the same again and look up, look ahead and make the future the way you want it to be, as of now. Tomorrow you may want something else...sure, why not?! Just be happy, be in the present!

Saw this lovely Vodafone ad today that gives the right perspective of seeing Life -
"The may fly lives for just one day. But does this make him miserable? Not one bit. Coz in those few hours, he crams every moment full of the things he loves. He soars . He swoops. He sails. Maybe there's a lesson in this for us longer living creatures. Just think. If we embrace Life, like the Mayfly, what a life that would be!" Make the most of Now!

That's what I shall do- make the most of Now. Tomorrow is just another day.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


I have been a brave person, most of the time. Not the kind who's scared of bugs , or pets, or the traffic. This used to make me feel good about myself. I wouldn't have many qualms while walking back alone from lab, at odd hours like 4 am, where there would be loads of dogs but no human souls on the roads at IITB. I haven't been scared of death or illness. Didn't have many aspirations, so, wasn't scared of failure in achieving them. But, of late, as in other matters, I've been realising that I don't know myself as well as I thought I did.

The very first time I felt a completely baseless illogical fear was in swimming class. For the first time, the coach took us to the deep and asked us to jump in. 16ft of water. Not too big a deal. Especially when she's taught us to float and kick. And when she's close by. Buoyancy would take care of everything! But, while everyone showed some kind of hesitation, I was seized by terror. It was baseless. Logic told me I would be fine. My ego told me I should just do it, else I would always feel lousy about it. But, each time I went to the edge of the pool and looked in, I just couldn't jump in. Fear blinded all logic and all sense. A baseless terror. Finally jumped in, holding the instructor's hand, while ladies, 55 -60 yrs old, jumped in bindaas. And, due to some reasons, had to quit class after that day. So never got around to mastering that fear.

Of late, the fear is different. It's a fear of loss - losing people you love - and, it's not just about losing them to Death. It's a fear of the unknown future. Of where life will lead me. Of whether in following my dreams, I am putting too much at stake, whether the loss will be more than the gain. Whether these dreams are really those that I want to pursue. Of Change -that which is inevitable, and not always favourable. Changes in myself and in people I love. Of drifting too far away, and finding that the bridge has been washed away and that I cannot return or reconnect. Of finding out eventually that it was all not worth it. And, these fears are not baseless. Nor are they those that can be faced and put to rest right now. These are not fears that can be driven away by a comforting hug and the mother's whispers of "Hush, it will be alright". It has to be a painful wait, for a few years, only then I shall know what the outcome is. Till then, they can only be pushed away to a corner of the mind, and, the most I can do is not to dwell upon them.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Long time, no post. I am turning into a busy bee, not getting time to post, and at times, having no inclination to post :D Currently, down with a whooper of a cold. Does that make me a "cold person" ? :D So, being more brain dead than I normally am, I am using it as an excuse for not thinking originally. Was going through my gmail inbox, emptying it [yes, I have achieved the unacheivable - gmail inbox 92% full, need to empty :)] when I came across this stuff I had written in my second sem at IITB. The initial signs of a chronic blogger. Quite amateurish writing [not that I am a pro now :P] but, thought it still deserved a place on this blog. So, here goes :


We are born crying. We enter the world with a ready-made list of woes- crying, complaining, whining…. We go through life, as though it were a chore, something to be dealt with and completed soon, so that a cumbersome burden can be put aside. We allot specific time slots for happiness – " I'll be happy when this happens", "I'll be happy when I get that" and so on. Like horses in blinders, concentrate only on achieving this and that, so that we might be happy. In this fixation for arriving at the destination, we forget the journey, forget to enjoy those small moments, to find joy in simple things, to just smile………

Sometimes, the chain is pulled and the train stops. People are forced to look out of the windows – observe- to see what is happening outside this tunnel they have built for themselves. The plodders get a glimpse of what life can really be.. The blinder slips.. The horse, tied down, not by ropes, but in its mind, is now free!!! Free to look around, to enjoy all that surrounds it- to laugh, to cry, to gambol about.. most importantly, to wander away from its "path", to try out new off-beat tracks, to stumble, to fall, to laugh at itself, get up and move along…….

What or who pulls the chain?? May be an incident, may be a person.. or one's own deep-rooted desire to break free…. The walls of the tunnel are cracked and sunlight seeps in, lighting up the faces of the people with rays of hope, hope of salvation from an utterly pointless manner of existence………

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Nettled over a kettle !

I love shopping. And, no, by this I don't mean I spend like hell - though, if I had the money I might have :D - I mean to say, I just like the act of shopping. Need not necessarily be mine, and even window shopping will suffice. But, the feel of a market or a mall makes me happy :) It is, in fact, one of the best ways to cheer up on a low day,where the baggage you pick up at the shop helps shed emotional baggage! :D

So, when Nissim asked shopoholic me to come along to pick up an electric kettle, I jumped at the chance [not literally :P] . And, off we went on my scooty, minus the electric start button [Read MaMu's blog for details!]. So with lots of kicking and pulling eventually, we found ourselves a parking lot in the very crowded Malleshwaram market [which is a true achievement, trust me!]. And, entered this big shop we saw, that boasted of selling household appliances. The deal was that since I knew the local language, I should communicate to the shop wala and bargain, and Nissim's job was to OK or veto the wares that he displayed and to shell out the cash. Now, the shop assigned a salesman exclusively to us and I proceeded to ask him about the kettle.

Me : "Do you have an electric kettle? We don't need a big one, just enough to make a cup of coffee"
Salesman :" Yes of course, here's a lovely little Morphy Richards model, just for 1250 Rs." .
I am shocked. A place near my home offers a similar sized model, non-Morphy Richards for 580.
Me - "Well, that's too much, don't you have something cheaper? For say, 600?"
Salesman : "well, not in small size, you get bigger ones!"
Me , laughing : " Ok. I mentioned small, thinking big ones would cost more. Show me the big ones"
Salesman :" Here's a Bajaj one, 850Rs and the Prestige model, Rs.1050"
Me :" Well, these are too costly too. Anything in 600 range?"
Salesman:" well, would you mind going upto 800? I have this lovely Rice cooker for 795 Rs"
Me, flabbergasted, "Rice cooker! I want a kettle to make coffee, not a cooker"
Salesman: "Oh... you don't want the cooker? OK.. then, would you want a sandwich maker? or a toaster?"

Both Nissim and I are unable to control our laughter anymore. I manage to tell that man (again) that what I want to do is buy something to make coffee in, not just Something for Rs. 600 !! We walk away, Salesman looking very disappointed.

It is said that a great salesman is one who manages to sell ice to an eskimo. This guy was surely trying his best to take the definition to a higher level! Overall, highly entertaining experience!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's my life

A student committed suicide at IISc on Monday. It's said that he could n't bear the pressures - of both family and academics. I felt both sorry for the guy, and, angry at him. Sorry that his life ended so prematurely, sorry that he was driven to such desperation that the only way out seemed to be to end it all. Angry 'coz he ended his life himself, that he took the 'easy' way out, did not fight back, did not value this gift given to us, called "life". I felt scared too. Coz, this guy was not those typical suicidal ones, or so people said. He was quite an extrovert, did n't fare too badly at acads, was not a social misfit. It was clearly a case of having taken the wrong decision when in stress, he had just buckled under the pressure. Pressure makes people behave in weird ways. I have seen too many examples of late. So, listening to all this, a thought suddenly crossed my mind - what if? what if one day, I were to face the same amount of pressure these guys did? So far, I have had a great life, acads were good, family never put more than the allowed amount of pressure, I have had a very strong friends circle, and, I have n't had very high goals and achieved those that I had. But, say, one day, I am lonely, feeling low, and, in a momentary fit of madness, decide to take the horrible path that these people did?? [Not that I can ever see myself doing it.. but no one can counter-guess the future...]

This thought scared me to the core. Just imaging myself in their situation - no, not the pressures, but the point where they decide to commit suicide - made me shudder. I love Life a lot, value my life tremendously. I have lots of dreams, hopes, desires waiting to be fulfilled. So, I decided never ever would I even think of such an act. So, I thought of taking some steps to ensure the same. I would first make a list of all the people who love me a lot , people who love me, not for my achievements or status, but for the person I am and for what I mean to them. They are the ones who ll be maximum affected by my death and I have no right to give these people so much of pain. Next on the list, would be all the people I love - while I loved them, I felt complete. These were the people who always brought a smile on my face, a spring to my step. With them around, I still had reasons to smile, reasons to live. Then, would be all my hopes, desires and dreams, all those things that I want to achieve in my life - from learning how to dance, to going on a Himalaya trek, till building that school I want to. Those dreams would give me a cause to live, and remind me of how happy I felt when I was so much in love with being Alive. Other than the list, I would also regularly keep in touch with my closest buddies. So that I would know where they would be in case I need to turn to them for support, and, also, they would know that if at all they need a helping hand, mine is stretched out towards them. Lastly, I would do at least one activity each day that makes me happy - might be a book, or some music or even watching the sunrise. The key to Life remains in being happy. No matter what. And I shall try to achieve that. This is a promise I am making to myself, I owe it to my parents who brought me up and made me who I am, I owe it to myself, to my aspirations, to my dreams, that I shouldn't depart prematurely.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep...

Monday, August 27, 2007

God helps those who help themselves...

The papers tell me that India is the second highest in the world, when it comes to terrorism related incidents, causalities and deaths; second only to Iraq. Well, should we congratulate ourselves for this 'distinguished honour' or berate ourselves about this sorry state of affairs!! How did the situation become this critical and why don't we retaliate are the first questions that come to our mind as we read this. Compare our subdued reactions with the aggressive ones of US after 9-11. Whether good or bad, both words and the actions (which were louder) kind of made it clear that the US was not taking any shit from others.

We have always believed in the principle of Ahimsa. We got our independence by the same method [or so the story goes]. But, are n't we carrying it a bit too far? There is a Jataka tale about the same. There was once a poisonous snake that lived in a hole in a field. It would bite anyone who ventured close to it, whether or not they tried to harm it. A Buddhist monk who was passing by spoke to the snake and advised it not to do so and told it to follow Ahimsa. The snake paid heed to his words and totally stopped biting anybody. Soon the people lost their fear of the snake. They hit at it with stones and sticks and harmed it whenever it came out. Slowly, the bruised and battered snake could no longer hunt, and started growing feebler by the day. At this time, the monk happened to pass by the same field. The monk was shocked to see the sorry condition of the snake. When he found out what was the cause for the snake's pitiable state, he told the snake that he had asked it not to attack anybody, but had never told it not to raise its hood to threaten its attackers, or even to retaliate in self defense. The snake now got the true picture of what "Ahimsa" meant. It meant, never to willingly attack or hurt another living being, but, it gave you full right to protect yourself, against other's attack. So applies to us. We now let the terrorists to walk over us. Corruption and constitution delay Justice, and, offenders walk free, free to terrorise again.

Another thing I have n't been able to stomach is the utter religiousness or should I say religious follies that are rampant. The Prime minister has knee pain, and a maha yajna is created to appease the Gods to relieve him of it. The beginning of a new year - a super smashing Havan is conducted to ensure that the coming year is peaceful and prosperous. The rains are delayed, crops fail, people are dying - and, the Rain god and his cronies are treated to a ghee-rich feast, so, that satisfied, they ll 'shower' us with their blessings. Eclipse, floods, drought, earthquake, tsunami - the cure for all disasters - Appease the concerned deities!! The absurdity of this approach never fails to amuse me.No, I m not an aethist, Yes, I do go to temples etc; but, isn't there a saying that goes - "God helps those who help themselves" ?? The current situation is like that of a student, who spends all his time praying, rather than preparing for his upcoming exam, with the blind faith that God will protect him. In my opinion, God is not external to us, not a puppeteer who pulls the strings and enjoys the play unfolding below. He is a force within us, a source of confidence when we are unsure of ourselves, a pillar of strength when we are feeling weak, a place of solace when we need comforting. He surely would not want us to waste millions of rupees on building Him temples of gold and giving Him precious offerings. Rather, if that money were used for the development of the needy, I guess He would be appeased more. It is said in the Gita - "Karmanyevaadhikaaraste maa phaleshu kadachana" . The Lord has decreed that we should work, do the best we can in any situation, and, then, He shall see that we get the success we deserve. Instead, we lean on to Him, like parasites, hoping that with no inputs from us, He shall do all that is to be done. Well, great expectations :)

It is time the Nation rose as one, time we forgot all our internal quarrels - of caste, religion and regionalism, and remembered that we are all, deep down, Indians. And, as Shahrukh Khan says in Chak De, "Pehle apne desh ke liye khelo, phir apne team ke liye, aur phir bhi kuch jaan bachi, toh khud ke liye khelo" . When will "India rising" become a reality, rather than an election slogan!!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Terminator returns...

Terror attacks in Hyderabad... Bombs placed at the Lumbini Gardens, at the Laserium and at Koti, at a popular chat shop. 42 killed, several injured. What is being done about it? I guess nothing. Terror attacks have become such a daily event that it doesn't shake up people much. I had written about this earlier as well. But, come to think of it, what can the public do in such situations? It is the Intelligence people who have to investigate and find the perpetrators of crime [Hopefully, earlier than 13 yrs, this time around..] but what can we do as the public? The outrage felt [may be short-lived, yet..] is expressed in the worst possible way - as happened yesterday, at the Gokul Chats, where the public, enraged as the police took more than half an hour to arrive at the site of blasts, burnt a bus, and yelled anti-police slogans. Seriously, what can we do as the citizens of this nation, in a situation like this? Any ideas?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Coming back to Life

"You make me more happy than I have ever been in my life and if you give me a chance, I would like to give you the same kind of happiness. Monica, will you marry me?" As Chandler spoke these words, all the spectators on the sets gave a collective sigh, and so did she. As she switched off her computer she thought that how ever realistic she tried to train herself to be, at heart she was still the hopeless romantic that she had always been. But now, her eyes had opened. She understood that such romance was only in fiction - be it novels, TV or movies. Real life was about practicality. Whenever anyone told her that they had found the "special someone", she wondered how long it would be before they gave up Love under the pretext of "being practical". At times, she wondered whether she had got the definition of Love wrong, else why would it mean so different to others from what it meant to her. For her, Love was sacred, something to be cherished and treasured, never hurt nor rejected. So, rather than change her view about Love, she had given up trying to look for it, or for people who understood it like her. True Love was found only in fiction, 'cause, everyone dreamed of it, but, only some found it, and, few actually went ahead and nurtured it. So, while in Rome, do as Romans do - be "practical" - that was her Mantra, of late.

She was driving back home. She was in a good mood - her day had gone well, work was giving good results, she had had fun with her friends, managed to leave early for home and the next day was a holiday! As she drove through the market, she noticed an unusual hustle-bustle and remembered that the next day was a festival of Goddess Lakshmi. The air was fragrant with the scent of flowers - the lovely sevanthige [chrysanthemum], mallige [jasmine], sampige [champaka], rose and the lotus, the flower of Lakshmi devi. Fruit vendors proudly displayed their ware - bananas, apples, guavas, pomegranates, and even, the last mangoes. Prices were higher than usual, as normally happens on festival eves. People moved about, like swarms of bees. Like the Drone following the queen bee, middle aged men, with pot bellies and graying wisps of hair, carrying banana plants, meekly and silently followed their diminutive wives who bravely haggled over the prices with the vendors. She grinned looking at this. The entire air was one of festivity and joy. Even the drivers seemed unmindful of the excessive crowd today - was the honking truly less, or was she too distracted to pay heed to it, she wondered. As she looked about her, she saw ahead of her, three camels, serenely making their way through the traffic. The cars around were calmly moving alongside the camels, as though it was a matter of routine to have four legged towering beasts among four wheeled screeching machines :D "It happens only in India", she thought, as she chuckled to herself.
She had always loved melas and festivities. And, today she felt young again, a child in a fair, looking at wondrous things in awe, and marvelling at stuff that the 'grown-ups' find commonplace.

It started to rain. She felt the drizzle hit her and she turned her face to it, feeling the water drip over her. A nameless joy filled her, filling her being with happiness. She was in Love - in Love with Life - and, finally she had found her lifelong love...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Oh what fun it is to ride......

No, I am not singing "jingle bells" :D What I am talking about is the "joy ride" that I take daily, from my home to IISc. The daily 12 km drive from the past 3 weeks has given me enlightening insights into the way the road traffic in Bangalore operates.

To begin with, you have the utter disregard for traffic rules what-so-ever. Well, you do know that rules are made for fools, and, our dear Bangalorean drivers are anything but that, right? Chaos is the only thing that rules :D The traffic signals are living examples of this reign of chaos. All of us have learnt in school - Red - Stop; Yellow- get ready; Green -move. With the advent of the time display at signals, people have changed this boring routine of red-yellow-green. The new rule is - if the signal shows anything less than 40 - don't switch engine off, idle it; display shows 10 - get ready; display shows less than 5 - move , and move it fast, baby!! What about the coloured lights?? Nah!! Those are for the colour blindness check! This is the digital age, honey, follow the digital time display!

The two wheeler riders here follow the Modified Tilak principle - "Lane switching is my birthright and I shall have it! " In all kinds of traffic - fast moving, slow moving and not moving, you can see the bikes moving sinuously, in and out of the masses of cars, buses, vans and what not. The auto walas face an identity crisis, being neither a two wheeler nor a four wheeler. So, they make most of both worlds, by having a "Bah! Two wheelers!" attitude like a car driver, and a "I can switch lanes" attitude of a two wheeler! And, as a result, they try to ape the bikers and block the traffic, and when chided (not gently) by the crowd for doing so, their marvellous attitude doesn't help matters and you have fights!

Then, you have all the honking. Well, if there is one thing to be said about the drivers here.. they sure are horny! Well, now don't get me wrong.. I mean, they believe in sounding the horn as often as they can! :D Whenever there is a jam, you have an orchestra there. It is said when Beethoven gave a concert of his famous Midnight Symphony, he was stone deaf. Well, the same can be hoped for anyone who tries to conduct this Midday Cacophony as well :) At signals, a picosecond delay in moving ahead can drive the person behind you nuts, and, you would be treated to his version of KennyG. After pondering over why people continue to honk at cars ahead of them, when they see that the jam is stretching for atleast a mile , I have now come to the conclusion that the Bangalorean Driver is actually very intelligent. Most of them being engineers, they decide to put to use the knowledge of resonance that they possess. You all must have done the resonance column expt, where we learn that if the resonance frequencies of two things match, sounding one would make the other vibrate as well. That is exactly what the public here is trying to do. When struck in a jam, continually honk, at different pitches and in different tempos, so, if by chance you hit the resonant frequency of the cars ahead of you, you can make them all vibrate and, hence, move!! Now, is n't that brilliant !!

As the icing on the cake, we have the ridges and furrows.. oops, I mean, the speed breakers and the pot holes. The pot holes in the road - or rather, the road amidst the potholes - ensures a complete bone rattling, muscle jerking ride, which gives you accupressure better than all the spas put together! And, finally the speed breakers - wow! What a marvel of construction! I have my own reasons to believe that these are the beta versions of ISRO's newly developed launching devices. They are built so as to send the pillion rider of your bike in the perfect projectile motion so as to put him into orbit around the planet earth. So, we need not move our geostationary satellites to Kota for the launch. Just put them on a bike, behind the driver and send them on one of the roads in Malleshwaram. If the first speed breaker doesn't do the job, the second one surely will !!

So, with such lovely people and things to keep you occupied while driving, surely, you would sing "oh what fun it is to ride....... in Namma Bengalooru! "

Monday, August 6, 2007

You just can't beat them....

There some things that people say that always put me off, and, trust me, they inevitably do this. For example -

1. You are just 22!! I thought you were older [Wow! You have eyes that see mental maturity! I have those too, and, believe me, you look no older than a new born babe!]

2. You are not getting any younger, you know.. [Darn it! The age-reversing potion must have stopped working!]

3. You have gained weight! [Yippeeee.. I achieved my goal of being unique and different from these aneroxic bimbos!]

4. Most girls of your age - even your friends - are getting married.. [Cool! That eliminates competition! Now all those handsome hunks will be left for me]

5. You are South Indian? You dont look so [Well, I have to try hard and disguise my identity.. those evil space aliens are on the look out for me, you see..]

6. You have green eyes! Do they glow in the dark? [You bet!! That's why I never switch on the headlights of my vehicle- helps in fuel conservation..]

7. Oh! so you've returned from Mumbai? [Nopes, my physical self is still there, this is just my astral body paying a visit..]

8. Your hair's thinning [Yeah, I am on this special diet that helps me lose weight from one extremity to another.. I just started from the top]

Have to go to a function today. I am sure I ll be subjected to a few of the above. I shall grin and bear it, muttering, "Forgive them Lord, they know not how dumb they are.... ]

Monday, July 23, 2007

It is when we have greater chance of being happy, that we are more unhappy

Read "Veronika decides to die", by Paulo Cohelo. Nice book. Didn't have as strong an impact on me as "Eleven minutes" did, but, nevertheless, manages to convey several meaningful thoughts through the story of a girl who attempts suicide and fails, but for whom, the awareness of death, creates an awareness of life and its importance, and who lives as she has lived never before - vibrant, alive, filled with a zest for life itself. The title of this post is one of the statements I read in the book. "The greater the chance or the scope we have for happiness, the more unhappy we are". True, majority of depression cases arise from boredom, people who have too much of leisure, too many luxuries, but lack a vocation, who lack a need or urge to live. It is the complacency which leads to dissent, to a constant irritation.

Everyone needs a cause to live for. And, most of us are raised to believe that altruism is the true way to be, and that it is sinful to be self indulgent and to live for yourself. So, we end up justifying our meaningless existence by saying - 'we lived for our parents, to fulfil their desires', or by saying 'we spent all our lives for our children, to give them all possible pleasures'. While both your elderly parents and your children might be your responsibilities, there is nothing stopping you from living life the way you want to. In spite of being bogged down by responsibilities, do something everyday that is solely for you . It might be a walk, reading a book before sleeping, pampering yourself at the parlour, or even few moments of quiet and solitude that are yours and yours alone. People now refer to this as a "daily dose of vitamin I" [For those of you who have access to yesterday's Times supplement 'Life", do read an article on pg 2, very well written!].

Anyway, returning to the main thread of the post, in the book, the author speaks of the "sane" and the "mad". Who are "mad"? Truly, it is people who dare to be a bit different from the set norms of the society. What is "normal" is something that is just 'acceptable to many'. Other than that, there is no real normality and abnormality.

He also says that the true test of spirituality - btw, spirituality is not philosophical mumbo-jumbo, or an old age pass time, as several of us visualise it. It is just a greater awareness of what we are and what we are doing. So, the true test of spirituality is the patience to wait for what we truly desire and what we deserve and, not to get disappointed by appearances when we actually get it.

The most meaningful and thought provoking statement was, something that I stated in the first paragraph, that it is only the awareness of Death that creates an awareness of this miracle called Life!

A really nice read, do grab that book if you haven't read it so far!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

'I'dentity crisis !

Why are we always in the search of an identity? Why this desire to define? . In the AOL basic course, one of the tasks is to define yourselves, in as many ways as you can. After going through all the rigmarole of - " I am ..'s daughter", "I am ...'s wife", "I am ..'s mother", "I am an IITian", "I am a science student" "I am an Indian" etc etc.. you are left with no more definitions. That, is your true self . I agree it is necessary to have all the above identites, but, it is necessary to lose them too. Not to be just what defines you. I am me. I am. that is my identity.

I got these two lovely poems - one taken from a friend's orkut profile, another I found on the web, which I have used for my own profile -

I’m the darkness in the light
I’m the leftness in the right
I’m the rightness in the wrong
I’m the shortness in the long
I’m the goodness in the bad
I’m the saneness in the mad
I’m the sadness in the joy
I’m the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I’m the ghost in the machine
I’m the genius in the gene
I’m the beauty in the beast
I’m the sunset in the east
I’m the ruby in the dust
I’m the trust in the mistrust
I’m the trojan horse in troy
I’m the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I’m the tigers empty cage
I’m the mysterys final page
I’m the strangers lonely glance
I’m the heros only chance
I’m the undiscovered land
I’m the single grain of sand
I’m the christmas morning toy
I’m the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I’m the world you’ll never see
I’m the slave you’ll never free
I’m the truth you’ll never know
I’m the place you’ll never go
I’m the sound you’ll never hear
I’m the course you’ll never steer
I’m the will you’ll not destroy
I’m the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I’m the half-truth in the lie
I’m the why not in the why
I’m the last roll of the die
I’m the old school in the tie
I’m the spirit in the sky
I’m the catcher in the rye
I’m the twinkle in her eye
I’m the jeff goldblum in the fly

This one, while defining, somehow removes all definitions. I loved it :)

This other one is in my profile :

I wonder
I hear
I see
I want
I pretend
I feel
I touch
I worry
I cry
I understand
I say
I dream

I am . I dont need any more identities.

Friday, July 20, 2007

La vie, avec les amis, c'est vraiment tres belle!

Truly, life with friends is beautiful! Went to Rashmi's home for lunch today, with Poonam. We had a great time. God, how I love that girl.. [ now, guys, please don't read meanings :P I mean platonic stuff :P] She's been friend, companion, counsellor, guide, co prankster and what not. In her, I found a best friend. We have had our differences - several of them! In the ways we think and act. But, it was as though, there were enough differences to attract us both to each other, but sufficient similarities to hold us together. When I went through some tough phases last year, she was my rock of Gibraltar, my source of support and solace! I am truly happy to have found a friend like you, Rash! :) Now she's leaving next week, to the US, for PhD. It hasn't still sunk in, I dont even want to think of how it might possibly affect our friendship. While the distance does create some separation, with some effort, the same bonding can be maintained. And, so I hope it shall be!

Anyway, [sniff sniff], now, if all of you are sufficiently touched by this heartfelt words, lets move on :D Had a great day today. Lots of gappe, khaana [Rash's basundi - urf - pudding :)] and of course, shopping! :D Rash and Poo have decided to gift me a tee with the words "Shopoholic" on my next birthday :D . Any occasion, I shop. Well, occasion can be something as simple as - "I have come out shopping after so long" :D And, it is sooth, folks, esp, you girls out there... Need a cure for the blues? Go shopping. Except for those rare occasions, where you shop for jeans and find out that you don't fit the old waist size, shopping is bound to cheer you up!! And, I speak from experience! Even a trinket bought off the local train, for 5 bucks, gives me a sense of satisfaction. If penniless, I don't even mind window shopping! So, given today's fruitful spree of buying three tees and two earrings, I am sure one happy person!

So, I wont be surprised if I end up serenading the trees on the way back to hostel from lab! :D So, ending this post on a cheerful note, here's something that made me laugh today. Got this image as a fwd in mail. It is a eye opener for all of you who firmly believe that "actions speak louder than words " :D

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What do I want from Life?

Life is transient, impermanent and dynamic. A mistake several of us tend to commit often, is to take it to be permanent and static. Thinking it to be so, we plan, plan and plan - for several years down the lane. And, by this, I don't mean Life insurance, or savings :). We plan our career, we program our personal lives, and we think we have taken all possibilities into consideration. But, as the Sunscreen Video so rightly said, "the real kind of troubles are those that would hit you without warning on a quiet Tuesday afternoon". It is such incidents which turn our whole life upside down, make all our plans go awry, and leave us high-and-dry, stripping us of the comfortable cocoon of the future we had seen for ourselves.

Being habituated to the task of making time-tables, we tend to do the same for our lives as well. Starting from things like "Oh, it's a week day, I am busy, lets do it in the week end" to things like "I have always wanted to go on this trek, but I cannot take so many days off from work now. Let me do it after few years, say, once I quit work". The same thing for friends, family and relationships as well. We get so caught up with our work and careers that we no longer have time to invest in relationships. That friend you always wanted to call, but somehow couldn't find time to; that sick neighbour you wanted to visit, but just couldn't; that cousin you wanted to go shopping with; that pal who was in the dumps whom you wanted to visit and be there for, but deadlines came up... the list always goes on. Since people at work will not "understand" , we end up compromising on these things, giving work the primary importance; and hoping and convincing ourselves, that after all, these people are our 'friends' and they would understand. But, what we tend to forget is that relationships are like plants. They need to be nurtured to grow into strong trees. When you don't water them continuously, they wither away. One day you look back, and they are gone! Sometimes to the point where they can not be salvaged.

As we owe something to our family and friends, we also owe ourselves something - that is the realisation of our dreams. I have always wanted to do trekking - esp, a himalaya trek, learn swimming, dancing, improve my singing, and above all, travel. Travel - not as sight seeing , but go to places, stay there for few days, get a feel of that place, meet people, also wanted to learn more about seances- at least witness one for myself, go to village fairs - esp, the ones around my granny's place, go on a biking holiday, so on and on. Most of these will be enjoyable only while I have the stamina - that is, in my youth. So, I was just wondering what I wanted to do in life? A career of research - academia - may well mean I might have to give up some, if not many, of the above. I am not sure whether science interests me so much to spend a major part of my life away in a lab, working for it. So, I have decided keep an open mind. I would nowget into a PhD. Then, decide what next based on what would really interest me at that point. I would not even be averse to giving up science completely and settle for some salaried job at an industry, or even maybe teaching, if I find that it is what would give me happiness, or atleast, leave me enough time to fulfill the dreams that I had and find happiness through that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cluttered Mind

Recently while I was talking to Ram, he mentioned that I have started thinking negatively, looking at the dark side more often than ever. This was the second time he had made such a statement, so, it got me thinking as to whether I was truly becoming negative in my thoughts. Well, I feel that while I am not "negative' per se, I have become more serious of late. I don't sit around moping or anything, I still do smile, am talkative, can enjoy PJs and crack them too, but, in general, the effervescence has gone down. I don't know if it is "growing up" or it is because of my current state of mind, due to all the things that have been happening in my life of late.

Nowadays, I feel I am carrying around emotional baggage. Both consciously and subconsciously. At times, there is a continuous drone within my head. Arbit thoughts, images, dialogues running through it. I find myself wishing for some quiet, some deep sleep. At times, wish for telling it all out - if it were like before, I might have gone and eaten Rash's head. But, I am trying to tell myself, that no one would be there all the time, and that my peace of mind should come from within, not sucked out of anyone else. More so, because most of the thoughts are random, not constructed, formless and cannot be voiced. I wish I can go to Prati's home now. She would understand. She always does. But, I have to learn not to depend on her all the times. I wonder why this sudden turmoil, why this nameless confusion, why the desire to be comforted, to have someone hold me and tell me things will be fine, why this urge to cry at times - but the inability to do so. What is it that brought about this - is it Ajja's illness and death - the major change that has happened in my life recently?

True, Ajja's death has affected me - more than I ever thought it would, and more than I thought it did back then -though it might not be the sole reason for the unrest in my mind. Since the day Ajja fell, I have been the practical person at home. Thinking only in the present - just the question "What is to be done next?" Did not ponder over the past, like Amma, wishing, 'if only we could go back and prevent his fall'. Tried not to worry about the future, like Annu. Just the present. Took care of Ajja, spoke to doctors, tried to prepare for GRE, did all that I could do at that time. Tried not to feel too much, shielded myself against pain - 'cause pain would lead to misery, and being miserable was the last thing I wanted. Sadly, the shielding was far too good. I couldn't cry that night when Ajja died. Amma cried, Akka cried, even Bhavaji cried. Dad was silent, in his thoughts. I made hot coffee for everyone, made them drink it, told them they needed something warm to drink. Couldn't cry even the next day, as they took the body away. As they took my Ajja's body away. Held Amma as she cried. Consoled her. But couldn't cry. Friends and family members came to me, trying to console - but how could they console someone who wasnt greiving , who wasn't crying. I ended up assuring everyone that I was fine, that Ajja's death was a relief for him, from the pain he was having. But I couldn't cry. At times, I wished someone would help me cry. But all of us are trained to console, always telling others not to grieve, not to help someone do just that.

Later, I immersed myself in GRE prep. I had my exam coming up soon, and this was no time to sit and indulge in grief. Pushed all thoughts out of my mind. But now, with the exam all done, the thoughts are rushing back and I find myself helpless - unable to stop their infiltration. I find myself thinking of Ajja - more so of his last few days, during which he was unable to even voice what he was going through. I wish I could go back, hold his hand, tell him not to fear, tell him the suffering would soon pass. I felt this especially strongly one day when I was having stomach ache due to some indigestion. I remembered how bad his stomach had bloated on the last day. He was silently suffering it all. I ached at that thought but still, I couldn't cry and vent all that emotion. At times, I wish I could be a kid again, and lie down on the sofa, curled up against Ajja's belly, as he read out stories to me, hold his hand and go walking to the temple, eat with him the chocos that both of us so loved, go with him to the bank and hear him proudly introduce me to the people there, go back to those Janmastami days and sing along with him all the bhajans that he had taught me - listen to his melodious voice, atleast, pick up the phone and hear his voice on the other end , saying "Hello Chetana".

The day he got operated, he was groggy with all the sedatives he had been given. I went into the ICU to meet him. I can still see him now, face brightening up as he saw me, and telling the hosptial staff "This is my youngest grand daughter and I love her the most" . I , too, loved you Ajja, though I never told you often enough, you were the best grandfather anyone could have ever had. I miss you.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

God Helps...

Haven't we all, at one point or the other, blamed God? Prayed, but not got what we wanted, ended up saying "Why Me??" Remembered only those desires that weren't fulfilled but never paused to think of all that we got without even having asked for? This pithy image I got in a forwarded email sums it all up... As the mail read, don't lose the bigger picture!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Molecular Surgery

Read about this is the paper recently. A team of researchers snipped off a hydrogen atom from a methylaminocarbene molecule, using a STM [Scanning Tunneling Microscope] and even reversed the process, and reattached it. Isn't it absolutely wow!! Now we are moving into nano surgery ! :) The implications are that this reversible nature can be employed in molecular electronics - like a molecular switch, which can alternate between conduction and insulation. [Because changing the bonding within an atom changes its electrical contact with the metal surface on which it is coated]. I guess, we can even extrapolate it to implications in synthesis .. maybe bonding of two atoms which cannot be bonded by regular chemical synthetic methods [or for which methods haven't been designed so far.] Anyway, this is one of the real cool things I read about recently, topped only by the iPhone :D

To which recent scientific achievement would you attribute a "wow" factor?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Hypocrites Oath

Harshita, the house nurse that we had engaged for Ajja, was telling me that she is going to be married soon. But the guy's side has asked for a dowry of 1 lakh rupees and 15g gold. She related this in a calm manner, without any feelings of animosity towards that guy and his family who have, thus, encumbered them. She said that she was working so that she could earn some money and help her widowed mother in adjusting the dowry amount. I was flabbergasted!! Here was this guy who was getting this beautiful, smart, witty, vivacious girl as his wife, and on top of that, he was asking for money!! And, wasn't she offended by that? I, personally, feel that it is so very humiliating for a girl, that a guy has to be bribed with dowry so that he accepts her as his wife. I mean, he is getting a lovely life partner, is n't that good enough? He is able-bodied and working, so, can't he earn enough!! But, well, whom to complain to? I told her, that taking dowry is punishable under law, why don't you tell him that? But she says, that in her community, it is but common to give / take dowry. And, whom all will they send to jail!!

I then thought... what about the "so-called-educated-urbane" people? Of course, they don't ask for "dowry" per se. They just ask politely "Chelliyeke kitle bhangara ghaltachi?" [how much gold/ jewelry will you put on the girl at the time of the marriage? ] Some even blatantly list the items they expect. Other times, it is unsaid, but implied and , always, done. Also, it is a status question that the marriage should be grand, and, always, people compare one marriage with the other - the grandness of the hall, the variety of items in the banquet, the richness of the clothes - and, of course, the jewelry!! Among Kannadigas, they also have a corner designated in the hall, where the girl's family proudly exhibits all the silver articles, and gifts that they are giving to the guy's side.

These hypocrites are the ones who have kept the system alive. They condemn it in public, but, practise it secretly. When will people really think out of the box, get rid of the avarice and, frankly, respect the girl they are welcoming into their family as a person and realise that she is just as important as the guy, and, if they are taking money with her, the girl's family who are sending away their beloved daughter, have twice the right to ask them for reimbursement?? Will the scenes where a girl says she will not marry a guy who takes dowry remain restricted to soaps and movies, or is it going to be a mass movement in the nation? It is only if that happens, that better sense might prevail .

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Happiness is ....

How does one stay happy? As Anne Frank says in her diary, there are two ways you can go about it. One is to count your blessings, think of all the nice things that have happened to you, and feel good about it. The second is to look at all the misery in the world, especially at the people who are in worse conditions than you are, and, feel thankful that you are better than most. Anne says that while her mother always adopts the second method, she prefers the first, 'cause, when you take the latter path, you are continually reminded of all the misery in the world.
I agree with Anne. Though most of us generally go about in the second manner, it ensures that your happiness is dependent on the continual misery - greater misery - of others. It is only when you are convinced that there are people who are suffering more than you are, that you start feeling a growing sense of sadistic pleasure. But, if you go by Anne's choice, you see that your happiness is independent of other factors. You rejoice in the person that you are, in all the nice things that have happened so far to you, in all the joy you see around you - and, this means that you can always be happy, no matter what, for you are the person that you are, and no one can erase that.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Generation Gap

When we are small, our parents take all our decisions for us. We trust them absolutely. The fact that their decisions might not be the optimal ones never even crosses our minds. As we grow up, we start thinking for ourselves, comparing our lives with that of our friends, seeing the world and learning from it. And, there comes a point when we decide that we would rather take our own decisions. There comes a point in the lives of our parents too, when they feel that their kids are grown up enough to look after themselves without parental intervention. The whole problem arises because the former occurs much earlier than the latter.

By the time we enter our early twenties, we want to be the masters of our life, take our own decisions, make our own mistakes and learn from them. But, our parents still feel we are young, inexperienced and not enough worldly-wise to survive without their supervision. Then begins the Struggle for Power. We feel they are fuddy-duddies, they feel we are foolhardy. We feel they are domineering, and that they don’t want to let go, they feel we are disrespecting their wishes, disregarding their opinions. We feel they are old, out of touch with the present world, and, that our peers and seniors are better advisors. They feel they have seen more of the world than we have, and, that we are young, gullible, and might end up making those very same errors that they have made in their youth. They try to warn us against them. We resent their mother-hen attitude, and, ask them not to cluck around us. We finally think, condescendingly, that after all they are our parents and, mentally tell ourselves, that once we are parents we will not do such a thing, that we would give all the freedom to our kids. But we do not realize that Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs ever. To bring a kid into the world is only the first step, but, to bring them up, to see that they grow up into sensitive, responsible individuals, to ensure that they learn enough skills to have a comfortable living – all of this is a huge responsibility. No wonder the parents sometimes end up being over-protective, to the point that it becomes over-bearing. It is very tough to know when to let go. You can’t back off too soon, when your kid is still immature and not ready for the world. At the same time, you can’t hold on too long, for it would suffocate the already grown kid. Guess, once we become parents, we might do the same. We would justify over actions, saying, the ends define the means, the intention – that is, the welfare of our kids - is pure, etc. But, our kids end up feeling shackled, misunderstood and frustrated, the way we feel now.

And, for this very same reason, I greatly respect Rash’s father. Rash has now finished MSc and is getting ready to leave for the US for her PhD. It is that stage where parents feel most insecure – about their child’s future in an unknown place and also about their own standing in their child’s life from now on. In this situation, her dad spoke to her one day and told her, that she might be exposed to so many things in the US – stuff that she’s never tried before. He told her, that if she ever wanted to indulge in them, she should, from now on, just consult her own conscience. Peer pressure shouldn’t instigate her actions and fear of parents shouldn’t deter her either. She is the master of her will from now on, and, she is the only person she is answerable to. Only her judgment should guide her actions. It is such a tough thing to say, to be able to know when to say it is tougher. And, I immediately felt an immense respect for the man who had managed to do it.

I am documenting all my thoughts now, when I am in the position of a child, so, that once I reach the position of a parent, I would still be reminded of what one feels when one is at the receiving end. I might, some day, read this and understand why I am having trouble understanding my kids instead of just mouthing the cliché, “Generation gap”.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

You lose hope, you lose it all

However hard I try to steel myself, there are some things which pierce the armour I am trying to build about me. Like today. Went in the morning to the hospital and brought the physiotherapist home. She tried so hard to cajole Ajja into doing some exercises , and, to try and make him sit up. He was stubbornly non-cooperative. Refused to open his eyes and look at her. No amount of coaxing from us could get him to open an eye, utter a word or move a limb. He lay - passive, non responsive, non cooperative. As tough he couldn't hear us. Or may be, he didn't want to hear us.
He's been so since Sunday. Till then, in spite of the fall, in spite of the operation- he was communicative, responsive. Always talking - sometimes coherently, sometimes incoherently. But, when he wasn't sleeping, he would at least be awake - with eyes open. Since Sunday, it is as though he has given up. He is slowly shutting himself out. Sometimes, when I repeatedly call out to him, he opens his eyes for a second - and, I find a pair of grayish blue eyes staring bleakly into mine. The gaze is scary - scary because there is no hope in those eyes. No zest for life, no emotion - except, at times, while we struggle with the duties like cleaning him, clothing him etc, I see a glimmer - is it Pain? Am I imagining it? It feels as though he is mutely asking me - "I've given up. Why wont you refuse to let go? Why do you coax me to eat and exercise? Leave me".
But, Ajja, you should understand. We can't let go. Even if you have given up, we can't. We have to keep doing all that is humanely possible to keep you comfortable, and, try and improve your condition as much as possible. We have to keep on fighting, even if you have decided that the battle is lost. We cant give up on Hope, cause it is the only thing that is keeping us going. Maybe one day you will shake off this stupor, and may be our Hope will rub off onto you. Maybe you will start fighting again. With that hope, we will go on.