Monday, 7 September 2015

Day starts when the day ends...

Whining little thing in checked uniform and bent shoulders
Stacked in an autorikshaw...

Corporation lady in dark blue
Whistling away her frustration...

Man in formals with overtly serious looks waving to the face with unkempt hair and tired eyes that woke up early to fill up the tupperware box...

Looking forward for end of day...
To come back and slid to oblivion...
Till the next day starts...

When the only way to live your dreams is in sleep-
Day starts when the day ends...





Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The story ends, not the inspiration…

Never did I anticipate that the sad news I heard yesterday would carry a magnitude of this extent that’ll make my mind dwell on the thoughts of this great person even today during the coffee break at office. I didn’t know that the thought would be this powerful to make me sit down and type this out during the relatively small interstice being grabbed. And neither did I even believe that I could gather the energy to override my fears to start writing this when smarter minds around me are working tirelessly on deadlines.
I do not know to consolidate or compile the technical or historical details related to this person.
And I do not now wish to list down his accolades and achievements or pen down with pin point precision, the scientific details of his accomplishments.
As an ordinary, simple person, I just look back to what he and his ideas meant for me.
The earliest memory I have, of Mr.Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (I was asked to memorise his whole name for the GK competitions) was the free-wheeling discussion we had during our English period when I was studying in the VII std. That was the time he was the Indian President. And I remember how we were pointing how different he was from others. And I could recall myself saying to Vishwanathan Sir,
 “Sir…Did you notice that Kalam sir doesn’t even wait for the security guard to open the car door for him? He opens it himself…Such a humble person”…
Yes. Such was the simplicity associated with this great and inspiring personality.
That was also the time when we were hearing ideas of “dreaming small” being a sin; Vision 2020, about dreams not being the things that you see in sleep but those that don’t let you sleep, and many more inspiring ideas…We were using those thoughts more and more as the “thought for the day” during daily assembly programmes (in place of old proverbs) and writing it on notice boards. We were presenting vignettes of his life for speech competitions as well. I also remember one of my classmates sketching out the phrase “If you can dream it; You can do it!” in thick bold letters on a chart paper and pasting it on top of the black board. Our sir pointed to it and asked, “Do you know who said this?” and we screamed in unison “Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam”…
When I was in Xth std, I came across an interview with Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam published in “The Hindu”. One of his responses moved me a lot and I wrote a response letter to it which later got published in ‘Young World’ in December, 2006 (though the editors had removed this first paragraph for some reason I couldn’t find out till today. I had to search through my archive to locate this unedited version!). These were the first lines of that article:

I came across the excerpts of President’s Interview published in The Hindu dated, 25 September,2006.When he was asked the most memorable moment in his journey from Rameswaram to Rashtrapathi Bhavan, he said, “I worked with my team for 10 days to make a caliper that weighed just 300gms.We fitted it to many children who started running.I happened to see a mother in tears. Her son,whom she was carrying to school,was running without any aid.Those tears made me feel what is “anand”,which is the highest degree of happiness”.

His words portrayed the happiness, the true happiness of the highest degree- “Anand”-which can only be experienced when we know that we are the real reason for the tears of happiness in another person’s eyes…
When I passed XIth standard with a relatively higher score, my aunt gifted me “Wings of Fire”, by Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam. I told her “I have already read this.”
She told me, “Read it again. Each time you read, you will be left with new insights.”
And believe me, each time I have felt down, I have gone back to that book. Innumerable times. And it has given me the strength that no other self –help or motivational book has given me.
Of those moments, the one I could relate as the closest to my heart-which I could even say was one of the core reasons why I gained the strength to fight back each time I lost;  was when I read this incident of his life. (Excuse me if I don’t reproduce those lines, verbatim. I recollect them from my memory of that page on the right side with a paragraph in the middle underlined using blue ball point pen and a pencil, many times.)
He was deeply disappointed when he was not selected in the Air Force, where the focus was more on "personality" than intelligence. He felt hopeless at this failure. He went on trekking to Rishikesh to come out of the despair. He goes on to write about how he met Swami Sivananda in Ashram and explained the cause for his sorrow. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. And the words that Swami Sivananda told, I believe, marked the turning point for a varied series of remarkable events in his life. And I have gone back to these words again and again; especially when I was left in life with the question “Why is this happening to me?”…And each time I have read it, I have lifted my head from the book with immense confidence, strength and peace of mind.
These were the words:
“Accept your destiny and go ahead with your life. You are not destined to become an Air Force Pilot. What you are destined to become, is not revealed as of now, but is predetermined. Forget this failure; as it was essential to lead you to your destined path. Search, instead, for the true purpose of your existence. Become one with yourself; my Son! Surrender yourself to the wish of God.”
What happened after that, is history. History, that is etched in bold golden letters…
I couldn’t help myself from putting down these thoughts today, even if I squeeze my time to do this. It would have been a gross injustice if I didn’t pen this down today; for I humbly and fully agree and owe most of my remarkable epiphanic moments to this great personality and his words. And the strange, incredible coincidence, is this and I swear, this is true…
As I write the last words of this write-up; the bell rings in this international organization to observe two minutes of silence for the departed great soul to rest in peace. And when I stood up and closed my eyes…I chose to believe for myself…That at least one-millionth of that inspiring soul vouches for my words from heaven…
I close with your lines, sir…
My story-the story of the son of Jainulabdeen, who lived for over a hundred years on Mosque Street in Rameshwaram island and died there; the story of a lad who sold newspapers to help his brother; the story of a pupil reared by Sivasubramania Iyer and Iyadurai Solomon; the story of a student taught by teachers like Pandalai; the story of an engineer spotted by MGK Menon and groomed by legendary Prof.Sarabhai; the story of a scientist tested by failures and setbacks; the story of a leader supported by a large team of brilliant and dedicated professionals. This story will end with me, for I have no belongings in the worldly sense. I have acquired nothing; built nothing; possess nothing- no family, sons, daughters.”

The story ends, not the inspiration…


Friday, 3 July 2015

Alappuzha Express!!!

Sometimes, we understand the value of things only when we are on the verge of losing them...

That's why, even though my senior readily allowed me to leave office early, and I reached back much earlier than usual, I just didn't bother to leave for the railway station well before time, simply because I knew I would catch the train anyhow...

So here I was, chattering and lecturing all along about the whole day to my grandma who is always all ears for anything I blabber about...She listens with great attention to my briefing of the day, which predominantly is filled with complaints, and comes up  with a crisp and unbiased analysis...And, while relishing my dinner, I explain to her my expectations for the coming days, based on the probable actions of the characters of this day... And she clearly points out where I'm wrong and asks me to stop imagining too much of things that are never actually going to happen...

So, when such an interesting session was going on between us, her eyes suddenly fell upon the clock...

"Go...Get ready...It's 7.45..."

I said I have time...And my mind automatically re-calculated the time to 7.30. Obvious...The clocks at our homes are by default kept 15 minutes fast, with the pseudo hope of helping us achieve "punctuality" at workplace.

I thought I'll leave after 8...After all, the train is at 8.45...

And here starts how my weekend got a nail-biting kick off..............

7.50 pm ( I suddenly realised that the clock's battery was replaced yesterday as it had stopped working and uncle had forgotten to keep it 15 minutes faster)

I check Ola App...My net gets slow..
The App seems to take an eternity to open...Finally it does open...

Auto is available in 3 minutes...I book the ride and I call the driver...
" Madam...I'm near Triplicane...I'm stuck in traffic. It will take atleast 20 minutes to reach Mylapore...Please cancel the ride and book another one.."

8.00 pm...

I didn't lose hope...I went to the nearby auto stand...
"Central ponam..."

"Central aa??Athellaam mudiyaathu ma"

"150 kodukkaren nga..."
"Traffic ma...athellaam mudiyaathu..."

The same sort of dialogue happened with 2-3 more auto-walas...I appreciated their unity in decision-making...

I ran back home...

8.15 pm...

I took my bag and started walking fast with all the might I can...Even on the way, no auto was ready to come...

Finally I saw an auto in front of the Ganapathy temple...With all my positivity, and without asking anything, I got into it and said, no...ordered...

"Central ponam...Seekram...Train poyudum"...

And that guy listened. As the auto stood at the first signal, my watch showed 8.20 pm..

That moment, I knew what tension meant...

It meant losing the much anticipated journey home...
It meant spending a weekend alone...
It meant taking back with me what I had brought with much affection for my mother...
It meant cancelling Monday's leave...
In short, it meant missing Alleppey Express...

I visualised my face if I saw the train leaving to Palakkad without me...I just couldn't take it...I want to be home!!!

I prayed with all my heart...I promised to be a good girl and cursed myself for being like this...Please let me go home...

Beach Road looked so long...All India Radio and Madras University buildings looked so unusually huge and lengthy...I lost all hopes and closed my eyes, while I literally crushed the iron bars of the auto (in fact...my hand is what got crushed...)

Suddenly, we took a right turn...

The red, old grand building with its white tall pillars showed in front of me...I didn't wait for the change, as I handed over those crushed rupee notes to the driver and ran to Platform No.6...The faded blue letters on that old white nameboard of the train that read "Alappuzha Express" greeted me with a winsome smile...I ran with all my might and energy till I reached S7...
I rubbed my hands wet with sweat over the chart to search my name...Seat No.24...

And as I put my bag down to the seat, drenching with sweat and gasping for breath, I looked around to see many more people like me...Fully exhausted...

"Ting...Ting...Ting...Passengers kind attention please...Train No.22639 from Chennai to Alleppey via Erode will leave shortly from Platform No.6..."

That moment, I knew what happiness is...It is this...It is what I right now feel as I write this...

It is closing my eyes to sleep on the upper berth of the train with the unbeatable and most beautiful feeling of anticipation...Of seeing my mother waiting for me at the railway station as I open my eyes tomorrow...

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Break of dawn...

As the day dawns,
Streets bustle
Horns honk;
And folks rush
At a frenetic pace
Climbing the slippery ladder
Of livelihood
On the overcrowded escalator
Hanging identities on the necks
Each pressing different numbers on the wall;
Pampering the apple on their palms
And as the lady voice announces their number
They give a thud
And move ahead.

Lost Swing

The true authentic swing that Bagger Vance talked about…  
I do not know where I lost and when
The swing that once took me on strides of awe
Filled my innocent eyes with glee
And took me to a high of my own enchanted world
Heedless of the worldly world around…  

Know not I, the moment I missed it 
  And started missing all of those beautiful moments
Neither do I know;
Why I broke open that transparent shield around me
To come out to the reality outside;   
  Where I do not find a place to fit in And face raised eyebrows all the time…  

All my ‘why’s stand hushed and unanswered
And doubts get branded a nuisance
I fail to understand why I stand out awfully strange
As I brush my way through the flock of the smarter lot…  

Each time I feel that inexplicable spasm of fear inside
And slip into a dreadful moment of self denial...
Remorse, guilt and regret
Tempt me to disown myself
And go back to that big glass globe of oblivion once again…

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Drawing a parallel with Dasan and Vijayan…

Each time it falls upon me that I have just embarked upon one of the most brilliant transformative ideas (!), the first thing that I think is,
“Why didn’t this occur to me earlier?”
And I lament upon how my life would have been if this idea had really struck me a while ago, and I do visualize the golden days ahead, when my life is going to be literally swept by this revolutionary, innovative sea of change.

These transformative ideas pop up in a wide range of magnitudes, from the idea as simple as the age-old resolution of ‘I’m going to be an early bird from tomorrow’ to the brave decision to “take life as it comes” from now on and not to get tensed over anything. From deciding to spend one hour daily in expanding my “technical knowledge” to becoming a “mature” mastermind by letting things go. From the evergreen plan to make time for all the little things I’ve always wanted to do to the spiritual decision to make each day meaningful henceforth…From the resolve to start a systematic lifestyle, shedding my lethargy once for all to the drive to seek the answers to the bigger questions on life… And again from deciding to stop fidgeting (the toughest of all) to step forward towards the giant dream of pursuing my passions…The list simply goes on…

Yes. You have guessed right. None of these things happen.

But what actually happens is what others call “harsh reality” or which we can simply put as the practical, ‘sane’ side of things.

So, what is the other side?
That side is the most beautiful part, though it comes with its share of insanity.
Those are the minutes that immediately follow these insightful moments that triggered these decisions. And these minutes have two sections to them.
Past and Future.

We could easily relate to this with the timeless characters of our very own Dasan and Vijayan, made immortal by Mohanlal and Sreenivasan.

The past, when we start regretting, “Oops…Why the hell did this not occur to me earlier…”  

“Eda namukkentha ee budhi nerthe thonnaathath…”

And, how meaningful and productive our days would have turned out to be…(as if we are going to implement it to the letter and spirit from tomorrow)… So the past is the “sad” part of things. Because we feel bad for our lost days where somehow this idea didn’t come into our life. And we feel sorry for ourselves, how foolish we have been all these days, (we’ve become so brilliant overnight), and look pitifully at those dumb people who still haven’t got the luck to even think of getting those ideas…
Why did I waste these many days?...Che…

But we somehow get over that stage, when someone like Vijayan with a philosopher look, comes and comforts us, saying,

“Dasa…Oronninum athintethaaya samayam unde mone..”

Yes…Everything has its own time. Destiny is predestined. And this idea has struck us because its time in the predetermined calendar of events has got auto-initiated.

So, we look forward…Strictly following the advice shared by “overly philosophical” Spirit Science friends on their facebook walls (Oh sorry…timelines)…

“Don’t Look Back, You’re Not Going That Way”.

So we start looking forward…
The Future...

How beautiful! I can’t stop thinking what I’ve been missing all these years! My future lays bright in front of me. As I scale each milestone of my resolution, I visualize myself going farther from my erstwhile ignorant self to a more mature, successful person… (When it comes to future, my grammar automatically turns itself to first person, substantiating the innate selfishness when it comes to the good side of things...)

And all the pleasures…

How we are going to be really wise in executing our plans...
Saving money:

"Eda namuke..chelavu kazhinjulla baaki kaashu maatti vekkanam..."

How our fortunes are going to multiply manifold …  

“Namukke ippo 2 pasukkal alle…athu ini 4 aayi 10 aayi 50 aayi 100 aayi 1000 aayi…..”

How systematically we are going to channelize our wealth in prosperity…

“Namuke…Oru nalla veedu kettanam…Car vaanganam…Fridge…AC...…VCR…TV...”
Dreaming of that prospective happiness...
"Ho...namuke angu sukhikkanam...:

And how we find our newly found idea so incredibly promising…

“Aahahaha…Avattakalde karachil kelkaan thane enthoru sukham…  Enthoru Sangeethaathmakam… Aishwaryathinte siren muzhangunnath pole undalle..”  

The “feel goodness” is too much, and these moments are so very special, that they even outshine the cynicism associated with them; even though we know we are not going to stick to these resolutions and they are made to be broken.  

So having said about the "black" past and the "bright" future...what we very often miss out is what lies between...The present...The moments that we actually, really own...
The moments when we regret the past and dream about the future...
The moments that carry an abundance of hope and vibrating optimism...
The moments which actually matter.

I can see raised eyebrows now, asking "What is the point in dreaming about unrealistic things and deriving fake pleasure"...

As I had already remarked, there is a part of life which goes insane...where there is no space for logic...

The only thing I have to say is that...Though Dasan and Vijayan might not have tasted success in their milk business...They "owned" those moments...When they slept peacefully that night...See the hope brimming on their faces...

Going on in this transient life, when none of us can be sure if we'll really open our eyes the next morning...At times it makes sense to dream a beautiful dream...and say like Dasan...
"Eashwaraa...Rakshikkane..."
and go to sleep peacefully...

May be none of your dreams would come true in following days...But that doesn't mean we don't dream at all...

Something else might surely click...

But those moments, that wonderfully long peaceful sleep and that beautiful bounty of hope are ours...

Friday, 24 April 2015

Of Thanappa, Caesar and Ode to the West Wind…..

Last Saturday was supposed to be another boring weekend as I couldn’t travel home. There was nothing much to look forward to. Entertainment was conspicuous by its absence. No television, no friends, no outings, no events, nothing. Solitude was at its best. The only thing that I could pull myself to do on such days was to read, eat and sleep.
So I started out with an effort to hunt on my dusty bookshelf. Old books, papers, magazines, newspapers, scribbling pads- it was a reservoir of dumped items, longing to be decluttered. Suddenly, realization dawned upon me. I felt really bad at the pathetic state of the shelf. At that moment of enlightenment, as I gathered all my might to pull out everything down with a view to give nirvana to my moaning rack, one old book caught my attention. I just opened and flipped through the pages. And one of the chapters struck a chord with my cerebrum. That chapter was capable enough to emit enough nostalgia to drive me down the memory lane and leave all the stuff piled up on the floor to embark upon an unending wait to get stacked back again. The heap knew, the wait would be long; and a shorter one would be too much to ask for…
Thanappa- the postman, Kamakshi and Ramanujam flashed to my memory. Yes. I was holding ‘Malgudi Days’ in my hands and the title on the page read, ‘The Missing Mail’.
Flashback- April 2005- Class IX-C-English Period…
I was sitting on the first bench…Yes. Suma Madam had insisted on that on the progress card distribution day, I remember…She told me “ Don’t get stuck with the same friends and sit in back bench…Come to the front row.” That was also the time when I was increasingly labelled as being too ‘gloomy’ and that may be the reason why I chose to slide back to the last row at the beginning of the academic year itself. But Suma Madam was the only person who told my mom to buy me Tom and Jerry video CD’s instead of taking me for counselling sessions (as many suggested) to make me come out of my gloominess.
So coming back to the classroom, Suma Madam was taking the lesson ‘The Missing Mail’. As she taught, I still remember myself capturing the vivid images of various characters of the story. The streets, the image of a postman in khakhi on his bicycle, the image of Kamakshi- a bashful young girl, Ramanujam, concerned about his daughter’s wedding and his wife and the scene of Thanappa sitting on the pyol of Ramanujam’s house with a glass of buttermilk to discuss the wedding matters…
Even today I remember those intricate details of the lessons I read exactly 10 years ago…The title of the lesson written in dark orange bold letters on our ‘Interact in English’ Literature Reader…
But I can never attribute this to my memory power. If it were so, I should ideally now be able to recollect the contents so-called coaching classes I attended last year…Or for that matter, at least the complex taxation provisions and case laws that I tried to cram a few days ago.
It’s not that. It is because of something more. It is the attention and curiosity with which I sat glued to her classes.
The way she spoke, the way she used words like ‘Mind you…’, ‘Where are we…’ and disliked the way people repeatedly used the word ‘like’ in their conversations…The way she made the class so lively that I literally looked forward to the English period each day. Even today I should say that I am unconsciously influenced by her in the way I write.
Not only this lesson, I remember many of the lessons she took. I still have those imaginary pictures afresh in my mind-of autumn leaves, the brook, the two roads that diverged in a yellow wood,the streets of Malgudi, the chandeliers, the palace where Mirabai lived, and the scene where Caesar dies saying "Et tu Brute...Then fall,Caesar..."-everything encarved perfectly... Not only the lessons, but the visuals of the class come live on my mind…
How she helped us visualize ‘Like the bright hair uplifted from the head of some fierce Maenad’ in ‘Ode to the West Wind’ by giving the example of the guy whose hair goes up and stands like that at the end of the ‘Niram’ film song…
And the ‘Dhwani’ film song where netted sunlight comes through the leaves and branches of a tree, while taking the poem, ‘The Brook’ by Tennyson..
The way she used to say ‘Liberty. Freedom. Enfranchisement! Tyranny is dead’ in Julius Caesar…
How she used to find tears on my eyes when she took ‘Lucy Gray’ and asked me after class, “What happened? Remembered your Thatha?”
How she told us you are too young to understand ‘Pendulum’ by O.Henry…
And the ire on her face at the time she took ‘Lord Ullin’s Daughter’
And the divergent views she had on Mirabai…
The day she asked me to enact the role of Persome, Bishop’s sister in the play ‘Bishop’s Candlesticks’. And how the way I told “Marie, isn’t the soup boiling yet” made her laugh and say, “You are too soft for the role” and made me take up the role of Marie instead.
I remember how we performed a role play for Shakespeare’s Seven Ages on the day of inspection.
And the radio show.
And the grammar classes were we learnt passive voice and active voice with the example of ‘Tom Chases Jerry’.
How she sowed the seeds of my obsession with ‘Open page’ and editorial columns…
And the most important one, how I still draw a parallel (Or should it be an antonym?) to ‘ The Road Not Taken’…
I remember when she asked what was my ambition…I told her “I want to take PhD in English”.
But today, I ended up being a Chartered Accountant. I accept there is an unbridgeable gap between the number crunching audit profession and literature. But still, I confess that the only moments I really do live are the ones like these... Occassionally grabbed interstices from the monotonous routine. The routine of mindless race for bell curves, efficiency and deadlines, which are utterly incomprehensible for me. (May be as Madam used to say, my life became a monster.com advertisement, where a prospective Bharatanatyam dancer got the job of an air-hostess and a cricketer becomes a chef!)
I wish I could go back to those days, and slip back to those wooden benches of IX-C classroom, the time when competition meant scoring 38 in UT and success meant getting a ‘Very good’ in the answer paper and how I searched the paper to find out if she has scribbled some comments... And the elation I used to have! I still reminisce those moments when Madam used to discuss the answer papers- a moment I always looked forward to.
Those were the times when doubts were celebrated, waiting to be clarified, as regards now, when my doubts are viewed with a patronizing cynicism…(Suma Madam taught me how to pronounce ‘patronize’)…
But there is one moment that is closest to my heart. When she knew that my article got published in ‘The Hindu’ Young World in December 2008…She was very happy about it...Referring to it, she told her colleague, “She is my daughter”…

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Those guardian angels.....

I have always wondered how unimaginable my life would have been if I didn't have around me, the people I take for granted.
For things as simple as (nowadays it's no longer simple, it demands sheer luck and expertise) booking a tatkal ticket on a weekend to making a remarkable decision in life, I blindly depend upon them.
And what surprises me all the more is that I have never taken the trouble or felt the need to either thank them or reciprocate their help...May be that may seem too procedural...Or to put it more aptly, it would spoil the whole beauty of the luxury that I currently enjoy...
Yes...
The luxury of forwarding an incomplete work without even mentioning a text in the mail, with the undefeatable hope that it would get filled up and would bounce back perfectly to my mail box in just 10 minutes...The audacity to simply send the to-be printed pdf file just because I don't want to walk up to the printer...(Mind you,even before I turn around, I notice the freshly printed hard copy on my table!) And the unpardonable offence of bombarding them all with my unending questions and doubts... All this, because somewhere within my cerebrum, there is this unshakable  belief that my need would be prioritised irrespective of the quantum of urgency their current on-hand task would demand...

This belief may sound illogical...But it has worked for me...Yes...See...

The luxury of calling up a friend the previous night and literally commanding to make sure I get the tatkal train tickets to go home the next day. That too, on a weekend preceding a public holiday, when it seems as if the only thing that all the people with computers are doing at sharp 10 am in the morning is to log on to irctc to book the same train ticket..Even with this neck to neck battling in 2 minutes, I always get the ticket sms on my phone at sharp 10:05 am...And the worst part about me (Yes...I do feel bad now) is that I don't even bother to call back to understand how they could manage this or to thank as a mark of reassurance...
Just because I have got used to this or more to say, spoilt...Yes:
★Texting a friend "Pls recharge" when I'm held up at work, not because I am too busy but because I am too lazy to step out to the recharge shop.
★Suddenly feeling like listening to that nostalgic song and asking my friend to send it to me at once. (Yes...By the time I manage to search and find the song and I download it,my thirst to listen to that song itself would have dried down, thanks to my hi-speed;) internet connection)...
★And sending a long essay of the complicated issue that I face with the incredibile optimism of getting a prompt, readymade solution...
      
And, invariably, I have got my phone instantly recharged, have enjoyed the song with brimming nostalgia and have got my complex problem resolved with commendable ease...

I have got innumerable examples of my guardian angels stepping in and helping me with the tracking of the section number with the correct case law, the address of book shop, that untraceable phone number, name of that forgotten book or author or even the nearest restaurant (Okay...I have zomato.But don't forget my hi-speed internet that'll make me end up starving!)...Most importantly, these were provided instantaneously...

Not because these people weren't busy...They would have been much much more held up than I was...But because they valued the freedom that I had on them to demand these...
Maybe because they knew they couldn't tolerate my expression if I didn't get it...
May be because they didn't even think before doing all these...They just did it...No explanations, No questions...Plain reflex action.

People may say I'm pampered and spoilt...
And many of these things, I could have very well managed to do it myself.
But if it were so, we would be more appropriately branded as mere automated creatures, not societal beings...
Not for the luxury of lethargy, but for the sheer beauty of the feel-goodness that I thoroughly enjoy when I believe these people are there for me, regardless of whether I manage to humour them or not...For, I am largely known to be weak in "maintaining" friendships...
But I think these people won't mind that anomaly with me...Because they know for sure that I take them for granted...
These are my guardian angels.....

Endnote: I do not deny the fact that, one day all this would abruptly come to an end...As all good things do...
When the time comes to get encompassed to the four walls of utter solitude, the only reminiscent tokens would be these million little memories...Instances like the "vishu kaineettam" coming as a top up message on your phone, the memory of your friend giving up the share of your favourite dish just because you like it and the friend who listens patiently without even uttering a harsh word at you when you burst out all the frustration you have on God knows who all!!!
The luckiest of these memories would stay as vignettes that light up your wrinkled face...

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Empowering Excellence on Women's Day!

When all the buzz and hype spread across about this ‘Women’s Day’…When all were going around wishing every woman a ‘Happy’ Women’s Day, trying to make them feel special and enjoy “womanhood”; even I thought that I had to do something to make myself feel special on this day; or that is what the norm asks me to. So, when I was contemplating on a way to adhere to this standard, our renowned Institute came out with the idea of a wonderful seminar on ‘International Women’s Day’, exclusively for women members. At first, I was a bit sceptical about it. (Yes. Incidentally, this day falls on our hard-earned Sunday!). But all these doubts faded away as I scrolled down the invitation mail. CPE Credit hours, the valuable gift pack, coupled with the word ‘free’ alerted my senses (Don’t frown. This word alerts the sense of every known, rational and sane Indian. Remember ‘3 Idiots’??) and I jumped to register for it. And the fact that I am not going home this weekend further substantiated and justified my decision to attend it.

But I should say that the day turned out to be a very inspiring and memorable one, to be etched to my memory for a considerably long time. So inspiring that I am forced to write about this before this special day comes to a close.

Though we were informed that the registration would start at 8.30 am; I had not anticipated anyone coming at that hour especially on a lazy Sunday morning. So, I reached there half an hour late. But, I was taken aback to see that the registration was already half way through, given the commendable ‘punctuality’ with which our professional conferences usually commence. The big hall at Hyatt was getting filled up and before it was 9.30 I could turn and see that all the chairs were occupied and many members were standing!  The hall was house-full!

Yes. The house was full with women. With powerful women across all age groups; practising Chartered Accountants, women retired from high positions, newly qualified lot like us, women who had temporarily taken a break from the profession and who were planning to come back, and women who had even come with their little babies, to attend this function organized especially for them. What I could understand from this unbelievably huge audience was the commitment to the profession and the sense of belongingness they have towards the Institute.

Though I wouldn’t want to delve deep into the topics that were being presented on the day, there are a few points that struck me strong.

That there is absolutely no need to ‘empower’ women. Because, they are already empowered. Just that we need to accept this fact.

Yes. Women are indeed conquering greater heights and have already broken the glass ceiling. Numerous examples of women holding positions in toughest of governments, finance sector, banking and what not! Like one of our speakers asked us, ‘Can you please let me know which area is that you women haven’t gotten into?’

Yeah. All that is right. But, the ‘empowerment’ that I could easily relate to, is something more simple. But which I think is no less powerful. It is what I see every day. It is what we all see every day, almost every hour, but never have either the patience or the time or most importantly, the heart to acknowledge it. Acknowledging doesn’t mean saying ‘thank you’ or wishing on a day like this. It means just being a little more understanding. It means just observing the woman in your home effortlessly managing multiple activities with ease, without carrying this title of ‘empowerment’.

And there were also talks (for and against, in a subtle way) about a woman’s capability to multi-task. To be able to prioritise her career or her family in an appropriate manner in which she wants and not to try to be the best in all the roles that she plays.

That is when I was telling my friend amidst these discussions. ‘Arey…They’re talking so big about all these multi- tasking and stuff like that…Aren’t our moms doing the same thing? Managing office and family…Without creating all these hue and cry about the huge task of striking a balance between home and work…Absolutely Yes…Obviously without even asking for the tag of an ‘empowered woman’.

We were shown a video clipping of an interview of Indra Nooyi…She says ‘If you ask my daughter, if I am the best mom, I’m not sure if she would say yes’. She meant that it was absolutely impossible to be the best in all the roles that you play. To be successful in your career, office should come first.

And then we were told about the importance of being focused, having a goal in life, being ambitious, and also not to focus too much on your kids because they’ll anyway grow up and go away…

A bit contradictory discussion was going on amidst all these suggestions among a bunch of women. Yes. I overheard the rest of their conversation during the lunch break.

“ It is all good to say. To set up priorities…When we all qualified before 20 years; the situation was not this”.

“Yes. The youngsters nowadays are very clear about their goals”.

“If one has to advance in her career to this extent, someone else in the family has to take a back seat.”

“All this talks about bringing the women to the forefront would be only for a day. From tomorrow, everything will go back to normal as usual.”

“To balance both home and office is not that easy as they say”.

For me personally, empowerment was not all that was talked about. It was the very fact that these strong women were powerfully discussing about this. The clarity of thought reflected in their voice, their urge to unleash their talent shone in their eyes and most importantly, their maturity to digest what was actually real and practically showed up crystal clear on their faces.  

I do not know about the big career goals or being at the helm of affairs in a huge organization. What I know is a mother who; though not in such a huge position in office, even though very much capable of it (Yes. She sacrificed it for us.); but still in a work environment that we all can perceive to be reasonably ‘busy and tough’, effortlessly strikes a golden balance. And the fact which I admire most about her is that she never even mentions or thinks about it as if she is doing some herculean task (though it very much is!). For me, obviously, she is the best mom!

There are million women like this, who, as our Chief Guest said, ‘don’t wear their gender on their sleeves’…What they need is not a single day of ‘recognition’; but a lifetime of a little bit of acceptance…..      

Monday, 2 March 2015

Uncertainties...

‘I have finished all the work ahead of the deadline...But what if my system unexpectedly crashes? Or I inadvertently press the delete button? No… Recycle Bin won’t restore. What if I had pressed Shift+Delete???’    

‘Yeah. The climate is good for a long walk…But what if it rains suddenly?’

‘Yes. I am perfectly happy now. But what if all this ends abruptly?’

There can be no possible explanation or humanly comprehendible reason as to from where and when all these impulses of doubtfulness started ruling our lives.  And why these ‘what if’s eat up a major chunk of reality in our everyday lives…

Being a poor victim of this inexplicable syndrome of embracing the highest probability of seemingly impossible combinations of future occurrences, I myself have tried to figure out why  I think so much about troubles that I know would never happen. People have helped me with various analytical reasons.

‘It’s because you are not ready to take risks!’

‘You are too conservative. For God’s sake, Change yourself!’

‘I’ve never seen a person with such a negative attitude in my life…”

But personally I have derived my own conclusions about why I (not only me..I like to believe that at least there are a handful of people like me..) do this…Like one of my friends who used to tell everyone that she is going to fail in the term end exams when she herself knows that there is not even one in a millionth chance of her not passing! This goes to such an extent that she even starts faintly believing that. One day I asked her why she did this…She told me an answer which I felt was very logical. She told me “If I start believing that I’ll fail and suddenly the result comes and I pass, do you know how happy I’ll be?”

At first I didn’t understand what she meant. I thought what the hell of a difference does it make, anyway??? But later on, I understood. Perhaps she wouldn’t have been this happy if she had expected herself to pass. Yes. She wanted the paradoxical gains of a positive shock! May be for the sheer purpose of enjoying the ray of light, we switch all the lights off.

I think that we do this because we are facing an extreme dearth of happiness in our lives today, But our mind, being a cunning master of designing anything that helps it get what it wants, even goes to the extent of painting everything around black ( still knowing that it is white) just to enjoy the false happiness when all the paint fades away and white shows again.

It is very similar to the idea of a man who went  to a footwear shop hunting for a shoe of size ‘7’ even though his size was ‘9’. When the shopkeeper got amused and asked as to why he is intentionally struggling with pain to walk with these awfully tightfitting shoes, the man retorted angrily, “What’s your problem? Will you not let me at least experience the happiness and relief when I remove these shoes every day?”

Here comes a man who intentionally chose to suffer just because he was so desperate to get the sense of happiness, even while knowingly fully, that it is just fake.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if I even say that the virtual world, in which we are hovering on every day, yes the beautiful cyber domain where we race amongst ourselves to establish our presence, is simply a deceitful replica of the real life. Still we resort to it, because we try to escape from the reality of life where there is rarely any true happiness.

Now, isn’t this enough explanation as to why we turn doubtful most of the time?

Absurd it may seem, but it is to be noted that we are rushing towards a tomorrow of pseudo-happiness…

That day is not too far when  your friend calls you up to tell you that he’s had a major accident; just to see you jump with joy when you run to see him perfectly fine; as healthy as a horse.
That’s when we advance to the level of spreading this pseudo joy  to our dear ones around…

Ya it really feels good if my work file doesn't get deleted; rain doesn't disturb the long walk or if my perfect happiness gets here to stay...

Now, what if these doubts turn out to be really true?

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Interstices...

Of late, I have observed myself constantly searching for interstices in daily life..those occasional gaps that we grab.. It appears as if those are the best parts of everyday. Okay, I don’t mean to say that the interval is the best part of a movie…But at times, they are. Those are the openings which are like sanctioned moments for doing something just because we like doing it. There are also possibilities that we gain them during uncontrollable situations demanding a wait for a considerable period of time. When for some reason, you reach office early (Damn it ! Why should I start working when my stipulated time is 10 o’clock???)…Those 10 minutes..From 9.50 am to 10 am..Are yours..To do what you want to do. This may look such a small period..But mind you, if you actually use those minutes made up of say, 600 seconds..which may fly away just too fast,  (Yes..Life is unfair…It is like that..That’s why we always feel that a Sunday is made up of  just a few  hours and a working day looks never-ending ! And that’s the same reason why everyone says that the longest 5 minutes are the last minutes of a lecture and the shortest ones are the minutes before the bell rings at an exam hall!), that will give a lasting impact on your mind for the whole day!

If you are a bit too lucky, you may be blessed with interstices for even a day! Fine..That’ll be a bit too far to go..Half a day would do. That unexpected ‘off’s you get in bits and pieces here and there! Yes. The client delays giving the data or comes late due to some preoccupancy, the server is down due to a technical glitch, your meeting hasn’t started yet, your colleague is held up in traffic, you go out for lunch and the cook seems to be preparing your dish forever even as you smell your stomach burning, or for some impossible reason you’ve finished your job and waiting to start the next. Though a combination of all these would never really materialize, still it’s possible that one or two of these might pop up together at times.  These will be like bonanzas.. And this is the time when you dig into the mines of your mind to find out those unfulfilled little desires..To thoroughly and unhurriedly enjoy a cup of coffee with a lot of introspection..To just google up to find out some interesting or amazing aspect that you’ve been hunting for so long but never have found time to…To give a surprise call to your long lost friend (hope it brings down the never-ending ‘you-are-so-busy-to-call-me’ dictum at least to a small extent)…To just observe people around and feel mischievously satisfied that they’re still working when you are enjoying your transient escapade from the monotonous routine…Or to go the philosophical way and to simply close your eyes and just envision where we are actually heading to in the long run…

These things may seem very frivolous and insignificant. But, let me tell you, these are the only moments we really do ‘live’. Such a perspective is in any way better than fussing about why we are made to wait. Of late, we are too obsessed with livelihood that we tend to forget the larger picture. Like someone said, even as we give importance to the means, the end should always be in sight. And all this hurry would inevitably be to end up on an armchair with a newspaper and a cup of coffee, reminiscing with a gentle cynicism all these ‘busy’ days that fled too fast to stick on as a memory…

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Little things of life...

I always wonder how little things of life make every day special...Whichever way the ultimate"net effect "of the day turns out to be; there are these minute sweet little things that matter a great deal.
It all depends on whether we are ready to spare those extra moments of our valuable time..
May be a few seconds to sincerely greet back the security guard who keeps chanting "good morning" with that signature plastic smile on that expressionless face...or exchanging pleasantries with the housekeeping team(beware not to go too far.personal experience: they may end up being non performing assets...My loan schedule is just lying stagnated without any movement,just because my communication went a bit too far to share their financial agonies...! )
It creates a feeling(may be just an imaginative feel) that we start belonging to the world...And these few moments spared..do pay off...Not that we do this strategically to get a material result...It feels good..When unexpectedly these strangers become people who care about you..When the security just smiles at me and lets me tailgate without making entry to the register when others standing in the que stare at me with anger and envy...When the auto driver to whom I shared my chocolate long back(though with a sinking heart) recognises me and drops me home at meter price!!!(an extremely rare case) And when the facility services ladies come to enquire "What happened?" with sincere concern when they see that I have scratched and broken the blister on my hand again and it's bleeding..How they run here and there to find dettol, oil, cotton , doctor's number and what not! And then for continuously a whole week the entire team of housekeeping is enquiring about my wellness...
Not that this is such a big thing to talk about..
But I was just feeling good to see that the world has still a lot of goodness in it...That you find yourself being at least a part of many smiles...This may be my false perception or even a mockery of my innocence...But it makes my eyes sync with my face when it smiles...

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Finding the unseen paradise within...

Regardless of all the descriptions and ratings we give for any person, there always lies a dormant angel within everyone. The innate, pure nature that is born with us. The only thing is that it needs an occassion to get aroused...There is this story of  'The Face of Judas Iscariot' by Bonnie Chamberlain that my grandfather used to narrate to me during my childhood days...I just have a faint memory of the intricacies of the narrative,(pardon me for being vague in some areas; and that's my proactive confession when I dare to touch a classic like this!) but I do remember the essence of the story very well. The story was about humanity and was in fact narrated to the author by the priest of a church. There lived an artist who was asked to paint the murals of a Cathedral and the theme was 'Life of Christ'.He started painting and worked really hard. He was able to finish almost all the stages of Jesus Christ's life except for two important characters -Child Jesus and Judas Iscariot.And he wanted representative models for these two characters for painting.For infant  Jesus, he wanted a face that reflected pure innocence and mercy. He searched far and wide for that innocent face but couldn't find it. One day on the banks of a river,he saw a poor child. The child's face was dirty but it was so innocent that it looked like the face of an angel.The artist was so happy to get a model for his painting and completed the portrait of infant Jesus with great enthusiasm. But he was not able to find such a representative for the face of Judas.He wanted a face that bore insincerity, vulgarity and cruelty. He continued his search for many years but was not able to find any suitable face that had all these negative traits together in it.He even reached a stage where he feared if he would die without even being able to complete his masterpiece. This news spread across and many people(who believed that their face was the most wicked and cruel to satisfy the criteria) started approaching him to get selected as the model. But the painter was not satisfied. None of the faces fitted his imagination.He wanted a man whose life has been destroyed by greed and lust.Then, one day he saw a thin, wretched-looking man, who came begging for wine.This man's face bore the mark of all the sins known to mankind.The painter was thrilled at having found his model.He enquired about the man and came to know that he was both a murderer and a thief. He asked the permission of the officer concerned to allow the prisoner to be a model for his painting.The painter started his work...and as the painting progressed, a change came over the face of the model...The face of the criminal that erstwhile bore a lazy look, was replaced by a strange tension.The man was horrified to look at his own cruel and wicked image getting painted...He couldn't withstand the depiction of the evil on his face...He started crying very bitterly and when the painter asked him the reason, he asked.."Don't you remember me? I am the same person whom you chose to be a model for infant Jesus, several years ago.Now I am the model of Judas Iscariot as well".It's an irony that the same person who was born innocent grew up to be a cruel culprit. There is another point that has always struck me about this story...Whenever my grandfather narrated this to me, rather than the moral of how a man born innocent turns out to be wicked at a later stage, what I wondered was why did the man cry so bitterly? If he has been the symbol of all the cruelty in the world...the only thing I could infer is that even such a person could be transformed...Even his paradise within; could be unleashed...with a drop of tear...with solace and compassion...We are all born with the same angel within...Just that we need to pull off the invisible veil at times...

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Back to life...

Forenote: Four months...Exactly four months since my last blog post...( thanks to the strict network access policy and frequent "Access denied" pop-ups by websense).I even doubted a premature disappearance of this blog owing to its prolonged stagnation at the start up stage itself...But some buried instinct in me kept pricking constantly.Finally I made up my mind to somehow find a solution to these hypothetical glitches and downloaded the Blogger App...And then, Epiphanic Moments springs with life once again...

A Simple Message...

A Simple Message...