Monday, 11 July 2011

The Believer .....

Well I am a believer, light the lamp in front of our pooja area every evening , light incense ,fold my hands close my eyes and have a a talk with God as if I were talking to a family member or a friend as in ( " thanks for a peaceful day today , know what ........ , would be real nice if  you could keep my family healthy and happy, even if you give me problems make sure you also give me the strength to get through them, some loss of weight would be welcome ....etc.etc. ) share something happy, complain about some misery etc. no shlokas etc . On festival days maybe a kolam, some lights, some kesari , The Vishu Kani , an attempted Onam sadya is done of course but on a teeny tiny scale.Generally believe in the whole Hindu pantheon  but my dearest friend and confidant and at the receiving end of my complaints is Lord Guruvayurappan who we have been visitng as a family for God knows how long . He has been in our houses for as long as I remember and going to Guruvayur being next door to native place everyone of the family pops in and out every once in a while .
This conversation with the Almighty continues in short bursts here and there to thank for something or to request deliverance from a tight spot and then again to thank for the deliverance or complain about not coming to my rescue !! :) . But the belief in Guruvayurappan does give the strength that there is a person ( although blue in colour :)  ) up there  to hold you who will not let you fall however bad things may be they won't continue for long and HE will definitely turn things around for you before long(of course with you yourself doing all the groundwork) , in short if I havent done any wrong my buddy wont let me suffer for long and things will look up .Thats what the belief does ,perhaps that is what it is meant to do .
So , it may seem odd to many but when i reach in front of the idol at Guruvayur , my reaction is usually a a smile and hello !! its me :) !!  need ur blessings for everything man !!! Usually make offerings in cash accumulated for the purpose of putting in the hundi there .
That sums up the extent of my religious beliefs. Hope not to have bored the readers to tears . :)

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


One fine Sunday morning, I was reading an excellent article in THE DIPLOMAT , an Asia-Pacific current affairs site, about the Indian mentality of "JUGAAD" which is nothing but the Hindi word for making do when one needs something in a situation , or to use a more fashionable word "Innovation" . It mentioned that this deeply ingrained quality in the Indian blood is mostly responsible for taking the Indian to places where lot of people from other places/countries fear to tread . Why !! there are even jokes about a Mallu/ Indian(variations abound)  welcoming Neil Amstrong on the moon with strong tea !! Fellow had opened a tea shop there as well !!
All of it meaning to say that, give an Indian a troublesome situation and he will find a way out of it, may not be a pretty or a long term solution, but will be some sort of a solution all the same . I found an involuntary smile beginning to form on my lips . I forgot all about the article, after some thought of whether it was so much in our blood as the article mentioned .
Then , what happened , one might ask , to inspire this blog ? Well , one day while getting ready for work,I was in a hurry  the spray nozzle of my perfume bottle came off and and as spray nozzles of perfume bottles are wont to do, slipped off my hand and merrily rolled off and fell out of the open window !! Now , the almost full bottle was crying out to be used but couldn’t !!
The Indian brain which comfortably resides in the penthouse of my not-so-tall body ,kicked into action and immediately spied my husband’s empty perfume bottle which was due to be consigned to the dustbin . It had the spray nozzle allright !! So, I simply took it off that empty bottle and fixed it on mine and ta da !!!! my perfume bottle was fully functional again . Immediately the word "JUGAAD" sprang to mind . Now I understood what the authors of that article meant .
It is not a big thing I know , but I was amazed by the speed with which the Indian mind looks for solutions . It is deeply ingrained in our psyche allright . Therefore it is not surprising that the entire world is now looking to India for solutions for practically everything , be it technology or medicine . All we need to do is deliver .

Monday, 20 December 2010 thinks.....

The power of the human mind never ceases to amaze me . It has truly been labelled as the most complex and brilliant feat of engineering . Thoughts , colours, scenes from our childhood, growing up years, places we lived in, people we interacted with , things we listened to , things we said, the sensations we felt all of these and much more are embedded in our brains layer after after and are recalled instantly when triggered . This, inspite of constant additions to the information every second of the day and also in addition to the brain's function of keeping day to day bodily functions up and running .
Now, one would wonder , why am I suddenly filled with all this awe , so much so that it is tumbling forth in words ?
Well, it is because here I am in a cold country surrounded by snow and icy winds , but  when listening to a few lines of the song " Dil dhoondhta hai ,phir wohi phursat ke raat din " where the stanza goes something like this :" yaa garmiyon ki raat jo purwaayiaan chale
  yaa garmiyon ki raat jo purwaayiaan chale
  thhandi safed chaadaron pe jaagen der tak
  thhandi safed chaadaron pe jaagen der tak
  taaron ko dekhte rahen chhat par pade huye"

the brain digs deep down in its recesses and brings out the summer months that I spent growing up in the north of India , so much so that I can feel the rough surface of our window sill where I would hang around in the early mornings with my glass of maltova watching people going for their morning walks or going to buy milk etc. The memories are so fresh and alive that I can still feel the sticky humidity in the fresh morning air, the air which is in turn is laden with the smell of fresh jasmine .
The trigger being the song , also brings alive, the slick with sweat feeling of the summer nights (with the electricity having been cut off- load shedding as it is fashionably called) , and the feeling of cool breeze over sweat soaked bodies trying to take in the breeze , the whole family parked at one or the other window,
unable to sleep because of the heat and the mosquitoes  . Can actually feel the clear night air in my nostrils  with the sound of the crickets in the thickets.......And the below lines draw out ..another set out equally fond memories ,
" Jaadon Ki narm dhoop aur aangan mein let kar
Jaadon Ki narm dhoop aur aangan mein let kar
aankhon pe kheench kar tere daaman ke saaye Ko
aankhon pe kheench kar tere daaman ke saaye Ko
aundhe pade rahen kabhi karwat liye huye "

.......In the three to four degrees temperature of the northern plateaus, lying on the terrace on ones tummy with the warm winter sun on ones back lulling one to sleep, with unfinished homework lying open in front for company . The memories buried deep within are all complete exact to the exact degree of warmth of the sun and the mellow satisfied feeling, lying there on a holiday .
All these memories  and many more are safely tucked away to be summoned in a trice and run in parallel with our current daily lives , the current daily lives which are far removed from the above mentioned in, time, location, feel and seem an era away .

To actually feel this far gone era with each one of our senses with the same intensity as if one is part of those times again, while actually being in a completely different place and atmosphere is something which only the human brain is capable of . As I said before, hats off to this marvel, there never was and never will be anything like it ........that is probably one of the reasons I believe in GOD .......for only HE/SHE could have constructed something like this.....


Talking to yourself...

Talking to yourself often thought of as ......a gone case...screw loose and described in other fancy terms. But here the author is not talking of THAT kind of talking to yourself ......
Don’t we all have conversations with ourselves in our heads ?? Well....I do ...all the time...
Does that mean all of us are nuts ? Of course not !! Most people don’t realize that our lives are accompanied by a constant internal commentary on the things we see, feel, think  and experience around us, anything at all in our day to day lives.

It may sometimes be in the form of a debate or a dialogue with us being on both sides at once . That us, WE ourselves being both FOR the motion and AGAINST the motion at the same time and putting forth arguments respectively to prove our point on both fronts .For example. How many of you have been to the supermarket and  something catches ur eye which u would like to buy on impulse but it is either bad for health or way over budget ??
Then the dialogue starts ........Should I buy ...should i not ?? There will be half a dozen arguments for it and then there will be another half a dozen against it . It is like having an angel sitting on one shoulder and a devil on the other both giving u excellent reasons to do or not to do something ..
Even in sleep we give ourselves excellent arguments as to why we can sleep a little bit longer .

Question is how do we use this internal chatter constructively . No one knows you better than YOU . You cant hide from yourself or lie to yourself so this internal talking gives us a very down to earth picture of ourselves and what we should do .This can be made to work for us by positive reinforcement
We can use this internal voice to psyche ourselves up before a big event to give us that extra confidence when nervous.
It can also be used to focus on the job at hand if we concenterate all our energies onto it .
We can give ourselves positive reaffirmation of something by being our own coach . If we find something very tough , we can talk to ourselves arrange things in our heads, go in a logical sequence as if we were explaining it to someone else and viola !! It will not tough anymore …..
The power of the human mind is unbelievable, if you think u can do it , u can do it and for that you are your best coach .
That doesn’t mean that talking to oneself cant backfire  . Oh yes it can !!!
As we can motivate ourselves so we can demotivate ourselves as well, if we call urself all sorts or derogatory things in our heads and keep telling ourselves that we are  failures , that has a more convincing effect than someone else from the outside telling us . After a while we start to believe it becomes a cycle making us a complete wreck . A lot of the people suffering from depression have this negative internal dialogue going on wherein they can see and hear everything wrong .

So this internal dialogue is very important to what we think about ourselves, how we deal with situations and our general well being, the key is to use it to our advantage and catch ourselves the moment that conversation with ourselves starts to go negative or on a wrong track and convince ourselves to come back on track .
Trivial though it may seem , normal humans cant shut out this internal conversation so we got to use it ......................  I ,for one believe very strongly in the power of having this internal dialogue and having a positive one at that . It helps a lot in clearing things in ones head and believe it or not improves diction , choice of words , speaking ability etc.

Colourfully Yours...

" Colour ,colour which colour do u choose …. ? "….went the refrain, with the kids deftly moving the folded paper apparatus (for lack of a better word) in their hands, already having cornered some unsuspecting adult or child to put this question to . This was kind of a game long long ago.... in times when the author of this piece was younger .
Today, looking over , the dreary , leafless trees and snow covered landscape, the word COLOUR , or the lack of it rather ,sprang to mind, hence the thought about the aforementioned game . The only colours visible in this snow clad landscape were, the dreary steel grey skies , the brown skeletons of trees and the white snow . A gloomy picture , isn't it ? Surprisingly, its not,  its actually beautiful even devoid of colour.
The point the author is coming to is that colour , in all its vibrant shades and hues unknowingly assumes such an important place in our lives that we don't realize it unless it is missing .

Who cannot help being spell bound by the combination of that perfect blue sky complete with fluffy white cumulus clouds, the mellow yellow sun , green fields of harvest or a garden full of assorted flowers of myriad hues with multi-coloured butterfiles flitting around to keep them company !!! Ah!! Bliss !!
Little wonder that colour therapy has become a popular alternative medicine to soothe troubled souls. Blue soothes/calmes, red excites etc.etc , you get the hang of it I guess ….

This thing about colour is all pervasive, we humans haven't spared our language from this colourful attack.
We are said to turn Green with envy , turn Red with anger or rage , have Blue bloods as royalty , are said to have turned Yellow when pale , and blush Pink. when embarassed....Jealously is even called the Green eyed monster !! ( Perhaps the monster needs to be informed that there are various coloured tinted contact lenses available in the market !!!! So , being labelled green -eyed will come to an end at least !!)
Ahem !! coming back to more serious issues . The author  therefore comesto the conclusion that we are colourful lot not only environmentally but linguistacally as well !! We have an ache to include colour in our lives . Why !! We even have a festival of colours , Holi !
On observation, the dry and dreary Rajasthan , which is mostly  BROWN desert all over , craves for colour , hence just look at their traditional attire, it is an explosion of colours !!!
Similarly , up above in Ladakh and Leh, the cold ensures the white and grey combination most of the time BUT.........just one look at the shawls they weave , and it compensates for all the dreariness , they are a riot of colours in carefully colour coded neat patterns .
SO......where nature deprives us of colour or provides us monotonous hues, we ensure that we supply the colourful element in some way or the other . Perhaps unconsciously .....the author doesn't profess to know.....

But then let us not be too hard on poor us ,humans , dowwwwwwn below in Antarctica , the penguins are equally guilty of being colour-loony . Can't blame them, poor fellas, after all , they have nothing but vast swathes of white all around . They are known to steal and horde colourful objects in their nests . Same goes with jackdaws who live in desert like dry areas , they prefer stealing colourful AND shiny objects to hoard  in their nests high above the ground on mountain tops . Both of these birds seem to have a fetish for colourful brick-a-brack .

 Just imagine , how awful the world would be without colour . So let us enjoy the physical colour present in our lives and try and introduce a little colour, metaphorically speaking, and sparkle to our day to day lives and  if possible to other peoples lives with a small act of kindness or even a smile...........
The author apologises to the readers if it sounds like the ravings of an unsound mind............

Of economics, currency and life........

Some home truths hold true in more than one sphere . I realized this while watching a report on the G20 meet in Seoul which begins in earnest tomorrow . Of the member nations the United States is busy pointing an accusing finger at China saying that they are deliberately devaluating their currency so as to boost the value of their exports and to try and revive their economy.

Not to be left behind, the Chinese as well as the European countries are accusing the United States of doing the same i.e devaluing the dollar by increasing money supply in the market .
The United States just pumped in $ 600 billion into the economy by printing new money .
Now here lies the universal truth which holds true in economics as well as life . When there is too much liquid cash in the market , its value decreases , which is called devaluation of currency. That is when there is easy availability of something and in plenty people and markets don't give it much value and its intrinsic value falls but when the very same thing becomes rare or short in supply , its value sky rockets eg. Saffron , platinum etc. which are in short supply hence highly valued .
This is pure economics and this is a rule which applies to the market .
How is it the same in life one may ask ? I was just thinking, if one spends too much time with someone , I mean way too much, doesn't the other person start taking one for granted or in effect not attach value to the person's presence . But when the same person is in short supply, so to say not with one anymore( dead or otherwise ) , one starts attaching greater importance , understands their value etc. etc. Isn't it so ?? What is it if not a mirror effect of the law of economics but in a slightly modified way ?

Similarly how many pay attention to something said by a person who blabbers non-stop ? Not many i guess , but everyone takes notice when someone who speaks less has something to say . Not meaning to say that one should talk less, but just drawing a parallel here between abundance and scarcity  and its effects.
Its not for nothing that phrases like "Too much familiarity breeds contempt , Too much of anything is not good " etc. have come up over time.
All these are just thoughts that came crowding in with the G20 news , weird isn't it ?

Of metal and of brothers and sisters.....

With Diwali now past , one is reminded of few other associated festivals which saunter around the festival of lights .They are low key but celebrated in their own quiet way .

One is "Bhai Dooj" which can be termed as a cousin of Rakshabandhan . Rakshabandhan falls sometime in August while Bhai dooj which is also called Bhai -phota among bengalis ,falls a day or two after Diwali . On this day brothers are invited to their sisters' house, and tilak is applied to their foreheads and small ritual salutation to the brother done after which they are fed a sumptous meal of their favourite dishes by their sisters . The brothers in return offer a gift of some sort to their sisters . Again a north / east indian event .Basically brother sister bonding . Two examples of this, rakhi  and bhai dooj .

The other is "dhan-teras" .This comes just one day before Diwali, when little shops selling kitchen vessels and pooja vessels sprout up in the streets. This day is considered auspicious andit is almost mandatory to buy some sort of metal, even a small stainless steel spoon is fine . A north indian/ east indian  phenomenon .
Interestingly it also has a cousin in akshaya tritiya which comes sometime earlier in the year . I had never heard of akshay tritiya in my growing up years but now it seems to have become a rage, with gold buying being preached aggressively by the gold shops , promising wealth and good fortune for the coming year etc.etc.

I don't tire counting all the variations we have , the festive season just made me recollect my experiences past and present, and found all the festivals and their associated relatives ( the festival's relative i.e ) spread across the country !!