You’ll Change in the New Year

mona

Wherever you are, whoever you are – rich, poor; young, old; lady, or gentleman – one thing you are going to confront soon is that this year too has ended.

The calendar will change: the date, month, and year will change. But if we look at it another way, nothing is actually going to change. The days will be same, you’ll be the same person, and the things will be same – at least they won’t change because the year has changed. Then why do we celebrate the New Year, or why do we even have new years?

In this technologically burdened life, we are busier than ever. In this race of staying connected, we have been slowly departing from our own self. We are losing the connect with our soul; I feel this, and maybe you also feel so, sometimes.

So isn’t it wonderful that we have events – because that is what they have merely remained now, events – like New Year, Christmas, Holi, and Diwali that remind us that there is more to life?

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
~ T.S. Eliot

2015, for me, had been a great year, unlike 2012 which was a bad year. If you compare the calendars, these both years were same, but 2015 was a great year because the lessons of the previous years made me a better person. They taught me to consider each day a blessing and not overthink about the past or the future.

So to rephrase, things aren’t going to change, mostly. The days will be same, the months will be same, and the events will also be the same. But what will change is you. In the new year, you’ll be a better person, a better human. And that is what really matters in the end.

So, be prepared. You are about to change. Aren’t you?

We Lost Our Hero

Dr. Kalam

The enormous auditorium was tightly packed with people occupying the chairs, narrow spaces in between, and the corners. Once inside, there was no space to move. The main door was barricaded by police and there were people desperately waiting to get inside. People had entry passes, but the hall was running full to its capacity. The auditorium could not accept anymore, and the security had to shut all the doors. The excitement kept building on.

I remember clearly, our hearts were pumping extra blood that day, and each eye was fixed towards the closed doors on the left. When our our hearts couldn’t contain the excitement and were running like a steam-engine of a locomotive, the door near to the stage opened and first entered two burly security men, and behind them entered a meek, smiling man waving enthusiastically at the audience. This was it! This was the moment when our hearts stopped pumping the blood. The entire auditorium, filled with college students & their wards, stood up and started clapping fiercely in unison. The man was none other than the ex-president of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

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Dr. Kalam went on to the stage and waved his hands for everyone to sit. But who wanted to sit at that moment? Every soul present in the auditorium continued clapping with joy, and the echo kept on increasing. Dr. Kalam, the humble, simple soul stood there on the stage with folded hands and kept thanking the audience. For me, it was the first time when I witnessed what true respect and true love was. There wasn’t a single soul in that large auditorium who didn’t felt what I did, else the echo of the clapping would have been like any other event. After much requesting, people agreed to sit down. I glanced to the left and to the right. Each face was sparkling with immense joy.

Dr. Kalam was there for our graduation ceremony in 2009. He talked like a passionate man. He talked about education for all, development, love, compassion, and service to the nation. We noted his message, we clapped at short intervals, and we were uplifted by his sheer presence. That was the grace and aura of the man.

Dr. Kalam was beyond caste, creed, colour, or religion which, unfortunately, still matter in our country. The scientist, the missile-man, the president, and the passionate patriot resided in each of our countrymen’s heart. He was the pride of our nation. We loved to talk about him, we loved his ideas. And above all, he was the only lotus in the murky waters of Indian politics.

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Sadly, yesterday night came the bad news: Dr. Kalam left us for his higher journey. This broke something in my heart, a feeling I haven’t felt since long. A constant pang is striking me now, as if I’ve lost someone my own, someone I loved deeply and cared for. But then every journey has an end so that we can begin anew. Our hero, I’m sure, by now must be smiling in his new abode, as he did while with us, and must be showering love & compassion on everyone around. I won’t say goodbye or rest in peace, because Dr. Kalam will always be in our hearts. He’ll never depart.

The Slow & Steady Path to Happiness

Buddha

I wake up in the morning and find everything calm around. I’m not out of the bed yet, and my eyes are still heavy with sleep, but my mind has already started racing like a wild horse. Racing laden with thoughts of forgotten yesterday, worries of uncertain tomorrow, and anxieties of yet-to-begin today: things I’ve no control over. It is like a scene from an action movie where one moment everything is still and the very next everything starts exploding.

The wandering thoughts create noise on all spheres of my brain. The greatest impact of this noise is that it clogs my creativity, clogs the power to imagine, clogs the power to think clearly. Because before I can contemplate, I’m worried; before I can imagine, I’m resolving things of the future. So I close my eyes to shut it all out.

Inside my mind it is like a busy square with the thoughts like cars – large and small – all honking and wheeling in a haste. Then, with the eyes closed, I fall asleep again only to raise after few minutes with the mind still racing as before. And the assault of the mind continues throughout the day, until dinner when my mind is more exhausted than my body.

So what should I do? Should I change my job? Or change my society? Or change my life?
How can I escape this noise? How can I detoxify my mind? How do I get out of the habit of thinking (and worrying) all day long?

I’ve identified and acknowledged the problem and I’ve started working on it. I took a closer look of my daily routine and realized that the problem is not the job or society but my own life. And things need to change!

So the first change I’m trying to incorporate is: Quality Internet. I’ve resolved to not check my email every fifteen minutes, to not unlock my cellphone on every notification, to stay away from my laptop as much as possible. For this I’ve started to keep the mobile internet off most of the time. I’ve started to leave my office chair after every half an hour and walk around. This is the first change I’m trying to accommodate and convert into a habit.

Second change I’m working over is morning walk & exercise. Not a heavy workout like the pros, but a light jogging to the nearest park, some relaxing exercises, and small ‘sitting idle with closed eyes’ in a fresh, cold morning air of the mountains. And this is one change I’m actually enjoying more than I had expected. It greatly helps the mind to calm down, the stray thoughts to vent out, and my body is charged for the day.

I feel blessed that I live in the mountains where I can take in as much as fresh air as I want. When I finally sit in the park with my eyes closed, I see more than what I see with open eyes. I hear mynas chirping on a tree to the right, then I hear bleating of a goat on a distant hill. Next, a wild rooster hoots in a bush nearby. And the sound of the fresh stream strolling down the hill is music. This jogging, exercising, and relaxing takes thirty minutes of my morning time, but these well-spent minutes make the greatest impact on my day.

The third change, not a change actually but it now has a new meaning for me, is morning music. I tune in to instrumentals & devotional music in the morning and though I should actively listen to it, the passive listening (with some work at hand) is also a pleasurable and uplifting experience. I used to listen to music every morning before also but after the jogging & exercise, music sounds even better.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ~Confucius

Now this is not a final routine and I’m not seeking perfection. In fact, the pattern of my daily exercises is not even fixed, the music I hear has varied timings: sometimes I listen for ten minutes, sometimes I get more than an hour. But the experience has a promise of cure, and it seems a lifelong journey…

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This article: ‘Want to be happy? Slow down’ at TED Ideas has greatly motivated me and reinforced my faith that I’m on the right track. Please do read it. And Stay Happy!

Pen, Blog & Diapers

blogging

My daughter is no ordinary girl. She is barely nine months and she loves to read and write already. The other day, she crawled to the farthest side of the bed where my pen, magazine, and journal were idling. She picked up the pen, smiled a defiant smile, and gobbled half of the pen into her tiny mouth and started grazing over it. I held her and forced the pen out of her mouth. Luckily, the pen was intact.

I hurriedly kept her on the bed and started cleaning my beloved pen. This is when I discovered my daughter’s talent for reading. Giggling, stuttering she crawled again to the other end, picked the magazine, stared at the anti-acne ad, and with a single swoop of her right hand split the page into two and started chewing it. I thumped her back and made her spit the page. Then I thanked almighty that it was magazine, not my journal, that she intended to read; for there were things written in it that I didn’t want her to read so soon.

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It is 5:30 in the morning and my both hands are busy at work. With the left I’m rocking the cradle in which my tiny tot is drowsing like a cub; with the right I’m scribbling these words in my daily journal. It is still dark outside and, yes, I’ve not turned on the lights as my cub finds it dauntingly uncomfortable to sleep with the lights on. So I sit close to the cradle, turn on the portable study lamp by my portable writing desk and begin to write.

My entire body is wobbling as my left hand is busy at the cradle; therefore, the fonts of my handwriting resemble an ancient script still hidden beneath the layers of earth. But rocking the cradle I don’t feel any annoyance, and my alien fonts also don’t bother me. The words are slowly pouring into the empty lines.

Day after day I hope for my little one to grow up somewhat faster. I eagerly wait for the day when she would speak to me, express what she feels, and……….. I’ve to switch off the lamp and rock the cradle with both the hands. She has started whining and shifting in the cradle. See you soon.
©Image Credit

6 Priceless Lessons 2014 Taught Me

The year gone by has evaporated like a puff of smoke. When I look back, I see nothing. Therefore, I dust off the walls of my memory and search for what I have gained and what I have lost in the past year. Here I share with you few priceless things I’ve learned in 2014.
Lessons

1. Friendship is an Investment

I like solitude and that makes me vulnerable; I lose friends. Last year I pondered over why I was not good a keeping friends, and I discovered that each friendship is an investment. You need to nurture it; you need to take initiative. I always waited for the other person to take initiative: to call me, send me new year greetings, to remember the important dates. But we all have busy lives, people move on. I have changed this habit now. If my friends are unable to reach me, I reach out to them. And trust me, it makes a huge difference.

2. People Won’t Change for You

The biggest mistake I’ve made in life is hoping others to change and be the way I want them to be; that is, ‘my way or you are wrong’. But this is not how things are. People most of the time don’t change for you. Best way out is to accept them as they are and stay happy.

3. Time is Precious

Office, home, office – time for self is so elusive. I suffocate when I don’t have time for self-expression; i.e., time to read, write, and being on my own. So I have stopped bothering about the hours, rather I take care of the minutes. Ten minutes of reading before I turn off the light to sleep, five minutes of writing while the MS Word file is getting attached to an email. Ten minutes repeated six times makes an hour. This is how I manage my time and I’m happy about it.

4. Creative Life is Best Life

What do you do if you don’t have any hobby? You feel bored and you kill time on petty things, things that don’t matter to you or anyone else, like gossiping. When I indulge myself in a creative work I feel happy and lively. Life then becomes interesting. So I ensure to do something creative everyday: to write something every day, to read at least one page every day. Small efforts in the end make a great difference.

5. Travel to Discover Yourself

We travel to discover ourselves. And I’ve observed that if I stay trapped at a single place for a long time, boredom sets in and the creativity leaps out of window. Last year I could not travel much but this year I have travelling high on my cards.

6. Life is NOT Roses all the Time

Life, the bitch, will always keep you on your toes. It is tough. Sometimes you feel frustrated to the last drop of your blood. But then this is how life is. And I’ve learnt that sometimes accepting things as they are is all that is required of you to be happy.
The following quote by Satish Kumar perfectly captures what I intend to say:

“I’m not interested in any outcome. I’m not interested in any achievement. I’m not trying to get somewhere. I’m not trying to succeed in my life. My life is not about success. My life is about self-realization and fulfillment. And if we seek fulfillment, then we have no stress. If we seek success, we will have stress.”

These were the things I wanted to share with you and I hope you found them useful. Or maybe you had similar experiences too.

Cheers to the Season of Old Monk

If you go out and ask random people you meet on the road, I am confident most of them would prefer winters over the summers. I may be wrong here, but I for one love the winters. Summers…. I don’t like much. Not that I detest them, but the sweating and the harsh heat of the day which confines you to the house is something that I don’t like. Summers pull the mucus out of your throat and abandon you thirsty in want of cold water, not refrigerator cold or mildly cold but ideal cold like that from an earthen pot or sweet water from a freshet. The only thing cheerful about the summers is the ‘Chilled Beer’. Oh, how I adore the smoky taste of a good beer. A bottle of beer relieves you from the stress of the day and recharges the minerals of the body. Of course, being a beer lover I have all the sugary words in favour of it, but, yes, I never drink a bottle after the first one.

Old Monk

I also don’t like autumn as much as I should. Although autumn for most people is insignia of romance, for me it evokes a feeling of melancholy. Not that I feel depressingly sad all the autumn, but when I take a closer look outside the window, my heart feels gloomy. This is because the hills start changing their attire from bright-green to faded-gold, and they resemble the wrinkled face of an old man in his nineties. Watching the leaves fall from the trees is again a sight not so encouraging, for a tree without leaves is like a bald old melancholic man standing in front of your door.

One thing gratifying about the autumn is that it gives way to the winters. And you know winters have arrived not when you dust off your previous year’s moth-eaten woollens but when the large heaps of black clouds come drumming over the roof of your house, and the downpour starts heavily like a battle being fought all around. For few days you hear nothing but the songs of the rain, and the clouds travel low, low, low until you can feel them right outside your window. They become your guest and stay around to amuse you. They cover the surroundings like a magician’s veil before a magic show, and when the merrymaking and the drum-beating is over, they bid farewell to the pointed pine trees and the mountain peaks and leave behind everything painted in white.

Himachal Snow
©Image Copyright

Life is different in the winters. Anything you touch leaves on you a cold, romantic sensation. The days become shorter and the nights allow you to sleep needlessly more under the soft, cosy quilts. In the morning you step out of the warmth with a heavy heart and start the day in a haste looking to complete your chores before the dark falls; and who knows the brigade of the black clouds might be marching towards you anytime soon.

As the dark sets in, you move into the warmth of the house to sit around the fire or a heater and munch popcorn, jaggery biscuits, and sip hot tea. Or if you are like me, you pick a mug of hot water and move into the solitary corners of the house and sit by a window and drain a bottle of ‘Old Monk’ to fill a glass and say cheers to the winters and burn your throat……

Love in the Times of Rain

Rain

Who would believe this is May! It has been raining here since three days, and from throat-drying summer to the woolen caps the transition has been sudden.

It rains fiercely for few hours, then stops for an hour or two. In those hours of relief, everything appears clean and fresh. The leaves of the Poplar and Peepal shine like a gentle brush of oil has been applied on them. The birds go merry singing their favourite songs, and the stray cows move out of their temporary dens drenched in dung and waste. People – all covered in mufflers, sweaters and monkey caps – move quickly out of their houses to fetch groceries from the market.

For a not-so-summer-enthusiast like me, rains are always a good news. In fact, I may be the only person who loves the rains so much that I can bear them for days and days; longer the better. Rains are romantic, they make me want to fall in love with everything, and they tickle the creative side of me.

When I was a kid, I would deliberately sleep on the top floor of the house all alone to hear the sound of the rain drops falling on the slate roof. And the chocolate like smell of the soil when it is first met by the rain would make me jocular. When it would rain continuously for days, I would pick a shovel and go around the house and into the fields looking for small ponds. I would dig channels for the water, where my trousers would get wet and so would my hairs.

Sitting by the old wooden window of the room, I would watch the sun rays make a hole in the large sheet of clouds, and then there would be rainbows all around. Sometimes, a rainbow would be so close to the house, in the fields, that I would run to catch it. But as I reached near, it would jump on to some other field and mock at me.

In the winters the rains would be more unforgiving. Huge lumps of dark clouds carrying soft balls of snow would march through the sky and capture it. Again from the window of my room on the top floor I would watch the clouds eat the nearby mountains. For days and days the surroundings would be engulfed by the clouds, and there would be cold cold rain. The angry clouds would move and growl and then lightning would hit the mountain tops. The clouds behaved like some black magician angry at the mountains.

In the evening, my family would gather by the hearth in the kitchen. Stories of old times would be narrated with great vigour by my grandfather, whereas my grandmother would prepare hot Popcorn over the fire. We would talk, laugh, and eat through the early hours of the night, and then retreat to our rooms to be surprised in the morning.
Having lost their battle to the mountains, the clouds would have disappeared. But the remains of the long battle would be white, bright, and pearl-like mountains, appearing more beautiful than ever… And then… I would fall in love again…..

© Image Credit

Where’s the Music?

Music

Change is the law of nature, we know, but is all change good?

With the recent popularity of nonsense singers like Honey Singh and songs like ‘Angreji Beat,’ or his more recent ‘Main Hun Balatkaari’ – ‘I’m Rapist,’ I think the Indian music is dying a slow, cancerous death.
Some argue, that we are a democratic country and everyone has freedom of speech. I disagree, even animals protect what they feel belongs to them, so aren’t we supposed to protect what is truly ours?

“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” – Ellen Glasgow

For me, good music is as much about poetry as it is about melody. After all, music is poetry set into motion. However, the poetry is slowly moving out of the Indian music. Left are hollow melodies, which are bound to bore the listeners within few days.

All I’m asking for is authentic Indian music which I can be proud of. Which has the melody, the poetry, and the ability to evoke feelings.

Where such music is, I’ve no idea, but one music director I particularly like is M. M. Kreem. Known for musicals such as Criminal, Zakhm, Jism, Dhokha, Sur, and more recent Special 26, his music, I feel, is authentically Indian. It has the Indian texture, the Indian aroma, and makes me feel good every time I hear it. Be it ‘Awarapan Banjarapan’ from the movie Jism, or ‘Maa Ne Kaha’ from Zakhm.

Every time I listen to ‘Kabhi Shaam Dhale’ from the movie Sur, I get goosebumps.
When was the last time you got goosebumps when you heard a song?

© Image credit: walkadog