Mumbai teaches patience…

The city of dreams… the city of lights….. The commercial capital of India… so many titles have been accorded to our dear Mumbai. Today while I was waiting for an auto rickshaw, it dawned upon me that Mumbai is also our teacher in patience. Wondering why I am relating such a noble golden virtue to the super stimulated metropolitan – where your status is decided by your unavailability… all in the city are busy and like to be that way. Still amidst all the chaos, I caught a glimpse of patience…

When I saw a headphone clad teenager who was sweating due to the heat and heavy traffic. Suddenly he shakes his head and takes a spring, because his favorite track played.

I saw a middle aged woman, rushing to catch her office bus. There comes a temple on the way, she gestures her colleague to hold the bus while she takes a statue pause to pray for not more than 10 seconds.

The school van arrives and one of the kids has not reached. The driver is continuously looking in the direction from which the child comes, the moment he spots just a corner of his uniform, he shouts, “Come fast!!!”

My husband travels for 2 hours every day (one side) for work but comes home beaming. Occasionally gets goodies too. What does he do en-route, listens to music, pj’s on radio and yes does all his surfing work…

A teenage girl stepped out, wearing a red gown with dazzles in her ears. She is waiting for her cab to come and in the meantime it rains, she runs towards the shade below the tree, calls the driver again. People around are noticing her as she is all decked up, and all she does is gives a faint smile.

At the mart, the billing queue is long. I saw a man with 5 items in his cart, standing behind another who had 2 full carts to be billed. He thinks and requests the man ahead to let him bill first as he will take very little time, the other one willingly obliges.

I was down to fetch my son. An old man and a boy both were waiting for an auto. The boy, dressed in formals, looked hassled as if he had to be somewhere and was running out of time as he checked the time thrice in a span of 10 minutes. After a long wait, one auto arrived, the boy immediately reached for it, but wait a minute, what did he do next? He stepped back and asked the old man to board the auto.

The fruit vendor while pushing his laden cart toppled over a stone on the road. His pile of fruits spilled all around. A car coming in his direction abruptly stopped and all the nearby people and vendors helped him by picking the fruits that had fallen near them.

I had a doctor’s appointment and I reached 50minutes late due to an accident that had occurred on the highway. I was feeling pathetic and that’s when the doctor said, “It’s not you alone, many of my patients are late. Please its ok!”

We visited a popular restaurant in Parel. We were waiting for a table to get vacant. A family had finished their dinner and was casually relishing their dessert. The woman noticed that we were waiting since long and she seemed to insist to her family to vacate as they were done with their meal.

I am sure even you must have come across a few such incidents while you wait for your turn practically everywhere be it roads, malls, theatres, play areas, ferry rides, restaurants, stations, airport, hospital – our city leaves us with no option but to remain patient and poised.

Visarjan

The aura of Visarjan

I am born and bought up in Mumbai. At the age of 34, for the first time I visited Girgaum Chowpatty on the eve of Anant Chaturdashi, and I discovered a new meaning in the process of Visarjan. To the world the relevance is that Visarjan is when Lord Ganesha leaves for Kailasha and takes the misfortunes of his devotees along with him. To me, it appeared as something bigger, something more magnificent.

I and my family chose to park our car at a distance and walk the streets to witness Visarjan. I was a part of a stream of people, belonging to different castes, each with unique physical attributes and of course from different financial statuses. But, there at that point all were together, in one flow. Visarjan unites….

We enjoyed the simplest of foods like berries, star fruit, corn, tamarind and Mumbai’s very own Vada Pav. Through our casual stroll, we relished these and so did my children. Visarjan helps enjoy small and simple……

I saw two kids, of a local labor family, poor but dressed to their best. As the music started rolling, they danced without any fear or intimidation, while their parents clapped and encouraged. Visarjan let them open up and seize the moment……

All were walking, all pedestrians – no two wheeler, no cars, no rickshaws, only feet to feet. No inhibitions about heat, distance and fatigue. Visarjan made us ecofriendly at least temporarily…..

An ordinary annual fest, appeared like, the world is celebrating. From where I could see, I saw only colors and a diverse crowd. From what I experienced I felt a gush of energy and inclusivity. It was as if I understood an unsaid message from God himself that humility is the only religion and camaraderie the only celebration…

P V Sindhu’s Conquest

Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, has become a household name after she won the gold at the 2019 World Badminton Championship. At the age of 24, she has made the nation proud. Currently ranked world No.5, she has been a top 10 player for the last three years and has lost a few finals by feather-thin margins.

She hails from a family of athletes as both her parents were national level volley ball players. I always believed that fitness as a way of life transcends from one generation to next, and PV Sindhu’s success story reiterates the same.

There are many articles all over digital and print media that are trying to capture the essence of her achievement. I have identified 3 reasons why she could accomplish her long set target.

Consistency

It has been 11 years since she turned professional, seven years since her international debut. Handling both triumph and defeat objectively is the key to any sportsperson’s victory. Sindhu epitomized that victory is not necessarily defined by wins alone but by consistent form and temperament.

To me it feels, she never let the fear of losing overpower her. She altered her approach and played smart. “If you are consistently in that space and knocking that door, it will break eventually,” coach Pullela Gopi Chand said in a December 2017 interview to Mint.

Digital detox

Today we are living in a world dominated by social media and the worst fear is losing out on updates; with an impending need to ‘Stay live’ even if it partially costs us the moment itself. Sindhu fought the fever just like she hits the shuttle. I was swooped after I read that she did not use her mobile phone for about 80 days before the Championship and also changed her contact number. What did she lose? Nothing but what she gained? More time to build her internal stamina.

Inside out

After her win at the World Championship, her lifestyle and physical routine came to limelight. All were amazed when she achieved this remarkable feat, which drove journalists to cover her training schedule in detail. She owes her win to a strict diet and a rigorous practice regime.

“She has clearly done a lot of core work,” analysed 2008 Olympian Anup Sridhar in The Indian Express. “That power is definitely core and her legs, arms and back are all a lot stronger, that’s where all the power is coming from.”

She travelled 60 kms (to and fro) for specific strength training through the heavy Hyderabad traffic every day for about 45 days before her Championship.  Parupalli Kashyap, a former top 10 player and fellow trainee at the Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad. “You need to peak at the right time. She has been able to keep her mind and body in a state where she has figured how to do that and get over fatigue at the right time.”

No tactics or strategies can substitute a toned body and a state of mental well- being – a thorough inside out approach.

Kudos to PV Sindhu and heartfelt gratitude for putting India first on the World Badminton Arena!!!

Wabi Sabi

Wabi Sabi is a Japanese term rooted in Zen culture. It means seeing beauty in imperfection – Appreciating the rustic, raw, broken, sometimes older ideas/objects. Against the current culture of perfecting everything letting certain things just be as they are.

Everything, every place, every being has a texture and a character. If we see the city of Mumbai, the CST station, Horniman circle, the by lanes of Kala Ghoda, the flea market of Linking Road, tiny windowed buildings in Byculla…. are there since ages. It is old architecture that has lost its sheen but retained a reflection of the era in which they were built.

Talk about broken toys, they take you back to your child’s childhood, old clothes refresh the earlier patterns and fabrics, older advertisements bring the same jingle tune to your mind as it is, old furniture reminds you of the hard work that you had put in building a home…..

Initially when I read about it I found the concept to be humble and interesting. In this complex world of chaos, Wabi Sabi calls out for simplicity. It reiterates that the grandeur of something outdated is no less than the marvels of innovation – the beauty of something former and tattered is nothing less than a newly manufactured object.

I also shared the concept with a few others, each belonging to a different field. I generated a questionnaire as stated below and sourced their responses:

  1. Give me one old object (living or non- living but not a person) which you would like to keep forever even if it rusts, loses sheen or becomes outdated?
  2. Identify and mention the imperfection (by way of appearance, communication and attitude) in life.
  3. Now that you are face to face with your imperfections, how do you deal with them in day to day life?
  4. How and where do you think you can apply Wabi Sabi? Give only one instance.

Jitendra Gursingh, MBA Finance and Promoter – Digilocal is a young entrepreneur. Object/s that he would like to keep forever is his Apple products and some old printed photographs. I could feel the contrast in the nature of items material as well as emotional. According to him he has an attitudinal imperfection where he feels there is no balance; sometimes he is aggressive, sometimes laidback. He clearly stated that Wabi Sabi should not be applied to work; money and finances. He says, “I think the concept works as long as you are AWARE that something is not perfect. Awareness & acceptance is the first step to making it perfect.”

Neena Dhody, a homemaker wants to keep her mother’s chappals. Honestly did not expect an answer of this type. Neena says, “Mom used to wear them and one day I just wore them and never returned them to her. My husband and daughter always tell me to get better looking new ones … honestly I have tried getting new ones myself. But just for the looks of it I can’t part with the utility the old one offers me …somewhere maybe emotionally it also makes me feel connected to my mother.” On where she applies Wabi Sabi, her answer is illuminating – she says her house is simple. It does not have the best interiors or fittings but for her it is Heaven as it gives her peace and comfort. It’s a happy place for her family.

Sejal Agarwal, a young software engineer, working with Accenture has something very abstract that she wants to keep, ideas of older generation with no pressure to wear the modern plastic. Well said, after all ideas make an entire generation. She shares a special bond with her younger brother Krishiv, who is naughtier and lazier than most of his counterparts. He keeps his work pending till the last moment. Though not ideal she felt there is a lot of cribbing over it and too much pressure on him to extend his capacities. She says, “Wabi Sabi can be applied here and we could let him do things within his caliber and not compare him with others. Let him be himself and love him for his uniqueness.”

Nikhil Furia, Promoter Era Ethnics, wants to keep his late sister’s Rakhi forever. Who would want to give up on such a treasure? Among his imperfections he says his anger is short-term, but quite blunt and insulting for the person facing it. Once he realized this he says, “Its only now, that I have started talking to myself, that not everything is in my control, and by using the harsh language, I am just being someone whom I don’t want to be.” A thorough leader that he is he wants to apply Wabi Sabi to his expectations from his junior staff members.

Nilesh Talreja, Owner UCID specializes in marketing and creatives. He wants to keep letters from his college girlfriend forever. It’s unique how each individual has a different keepsake. He is one respondent who is unknowingly applying Wabi Sabi already. He says, “I don’t ask for things. So I tend to drop the desires. So have learnt to live without much wants” which means happiness in what you already have.

Radha Gupta is a Yoga teacher and an artist @ Kolorkari, she wants to keep a hard disk which is full of her past memories and keep adding to it as looking back always makes her smile. She thinks she has a round nose, probably a not so good feature of her otherwise pretty face but she has accepted it and other flaws in her by practicing the ‘I am grateful for…..” activity that she learned from Yoga. She expects a lot from her near and dear ones and exactly the way she wants. That is where Radha would like to apply Wabi Sabi, to make her relationships healthy.

Sujata Patki, Founder Owner of Thinking Cap Library mentioned a couple of things that she would like to keep. From the list she shared, I picked up these two – “A bag my daughter used to carry to her dance class when she was 10 and a sweater my son wore when he was a toddler.” Clearly she has seen them outgrow and still she wants to keep a part of their childhood with her. I never knew that inanimate objects can epitomize such intricate emotions. She says she is hurtful when she has high temper which she wants to resolve by staying objective at the time of conversing. Just like Radha, she says she wants to apply Wabi Sabi to improve her relations with near and dear ones by lowering her expectations (pertaining to perfection) from others.

 Wabi Sabi in no way promotes shying away from your weaknesses. I feel it takes you closer to your strengths, closer to positivity, closer to what you currently have. It does not restrain our aspirations; rather we can work better as our spirit is free. Whatever we are going to make of our life in future is separate from what we have made of it till date. Appreciating today’s achievements and possessions, coveting them is significant… and that is what Wabi Sabi means to me…

Universe and its ways

Universe and its ways

The Universe is magnificent

With multiple elements at play

We need to live a life that is mold able like soft clay

We think, we decide but something else is in store

We need to pause and accept, not expect more

Through words and thoughts we attract what we want

But that is only natural, no way can we daunt

Miracles happen and make us feel uncommon

They happen not by chance, but when a pure heart summons.

      Moving ahead with plans is the ideal way

     But when Universe thinks alternate we seldom have a say……

‘Me time’

‘Me Time’

The title itself brings peace to me. Me time is essentially the time that you spend nurturing yourself. We willingly or unwillingly are entangled with people all the time both known and unknown. When not people it is profession or responsibilities. Amidst all that is outside if we could go inwards towards our self-soul for a while it is ‘me time’. Through this blog I wish to put across simple means by which one can bask in the warmth of self.

Hobbies

We were always asked in school and later what are your hobbies? To me hobbies are mindless undemanding activities which leave you refreshed at the end like painting, singing, dancing, coloring, and many more. A fancier term is passion but the moment it is passion it demands efforts. Up to you, but engaging in your hobby is one of the most interesting ways.

Workout and meditation

To many this means a slimming routine – but largely it is for the overall wellbeing. Workout in any form and meditation in any way, when done with complete involvement turns into me time. Looking at it as a compulsory task in a day, leaves you feeling bound.

Lone outings

For people who have the luxury (by luxury I mean support from loved ones, not resources) you can plan a solo trip to some city somewhere. Unornamented ways could be exhibitions or places in your town where you spend some time observing alone. Mumbai is blessed with multiple spots like Hanging Gardens, Sea faces, Mount Mary Church, Hare Ram Hare Krishna Temple…..This would also include movies and plays, in fact there you don’t even need company. Even easier is having your cup of coffee in a nearby cafeteria alone. You must be wondering that all these places are usually crowded? But the idea is you are not in company of someone you know, freeing your mind to just be.

Cook for self

Stomach and mind have a strong connection. Your mind feels happy when you have something that you like and exactly as you want it to taste. Cooking is one mundane chore, which if done with involvement turns into fruitful time spent. Those who stay independent should occasionally chuck the convenience routine and take time off to cook something exotic. Those who stay in family should take time off to cook a small portion only for self.

Create yourself a corner at home

Every house has an aura. Different rooms with different essentials. You can actually create a corner for yourself where you put up quotes, photos, wallpapers, cutouts or showpieces that you believe in. Once you are in that space you unconsciously transcend inwards. For some it can be a French window with their favorite plants, for some it could be a wall with a parchment stating quotes by Buddha, for some it could simply be their bedroom that has display items of their choice……..the crux is things that you believe in

Once we connect with self, we connect better with others too. This write up is so that people stop craving for something not within their reach to access self. In reality me time is the easiest to find as it depends on how you prioritize, the most certain as it requires only your participation and the most fulfilling.

The soul that feeds you as long as you breathe, if provided with attention and care, will feed you better. Gradually it becomes a way of life.

You can always add more ways in which one can spend some time with self in the comments section…..

Wise and Otherwise – By Sudha Murthy

Wise and Otherwise by Sudha Murthy is a collection of interesting anecdotes each with profound life lessons. It is a personal account of the author herself while she travelled through our country – The Great India – A land of values and disparities. The title captures the contrast too – with two opposite words – Wise and Otherwise!!

There are many people about whom she has written in her book – a thoughtful old village man, a secretary, a nurse, a bridegroom, a sales manager, a local vendor. All of them have crossed her path as a part of her social work (which she carries out through her company Infosys Foundation) or coincidentally. What is beautiful is the chord that she could strike with each person/character and situation!! The way, in which she has put the commonness in perspective, leaves the readers with a message at the end of every story.

All the stories are relatable and on some random day, the message might directly apply to you while you are at home or in office. The titles of each story are intelligently worded, because at the end of every story I went back to the title to correlate and find the essence. A few interesting ones are –  ‘Salaam Namaste’, ‘The IT Divide’, ‘Bonded by Bisleri’….

Quite a few narratives have a predictable and dramatic end as if straight from Bollywood, and many others have a surprising turn towards the conclusion. This book is good for some casual mindful reading. The language is simple and the length of the anecdotes is short, so one can easily flip a few pages while waiting in traffic. The cover page carries a line ‘A Salute to life’ – it indeed is through its realness and plainness.

I would like to call it India’s ‘Chicken Soup’……

Motherhood

Motherhood 

My toddler was excited for his annual day

I dropped him backstage, he wanted me to stay

The stage was all set, with effects and light

The sound was energetic, the LED was bright

His class entered and they all looked alike

I was at a distance, trying to take a strike

Tiny little bundles of joy wanting to do their best

Spotting the child on stage was a tough test

Then I saw a boy, turning the way he turns

He shouted Mumma, he took a quick spurn

I immediately recognized the apple of my eye

He rehearsed naughtily and was feeling shy

In such big an auditorium seated in the balcony

I had no confusion, about where was my honey bunny

That’s when I wondered how I took such less time

After all it is motherhood warm and sublime….

Yuvi and Mumma

The tight bun

She had a firm face, and a fierce voice

Her conversations held, an unreal poise

I met her randomly once in a few days

She seemed to live her life strictly her way

She was a mother too, quite older than me

Always no nonsensical, no time to see

She dressed so typical, hair tied in a bun

Behind her back, I admit I made fun

A smile on her face came like in a leap year

I wondered has this lady overcome every fear

One day I came to know she is set to take a leave

It’s her daughter’s marriage; she is got too much up her sleeves

The very next day, as I took a coffee break

I saw her dreaming, though her eyes were awake

I don’t know what got to me, I ended up asking her

Is everything ok? You look lost and blurred

She took a deep sigh, and unknowingly replied

My daughter will go away; I will have no one by my side

She said she feared how she will spend her days alone

I was surprised as if I have seen a talking stone

I struggled to get words, as she shared more

She had an irresponsible husband, eyes were about to pour

Though awkward I assured her it will phase out

She said, I know dear but still I have my doubts

Anyways she said; please don’t let this entire spill

I promised her will not gossip and stayed still

She got up to move, her aura spreading around me

She was bearing so much, so she had no time to see

She had a hidden story, a story that’s not bare

I wondered, does everyone have a similar story to share?

Kun FayaKun says Tathastu

I was never acquainted with Sufism as a culture – for the first time I heard ‘Sufism’ in context of music. I got curious about the meaning of the word Sufi; It correlates to Safi meaning Pure. What is pure? That which is not maligned! That which outshines the surrounding darkness..

What bought me face to face with Sufi music was the song Kun Faya Kun from the Bollywood movie Rockstar starring Ranbir Kapoor. I did not understand the lyrics and the intricate music notes but my soul connected instantly.

8 years have passed since this song was released and I seemed to have developed a special bond with it. Whenever I am left to myself, a part of me hums this song. This is why I thought of writing an article ‘Kun Faya says Tathastu’ – as a tribute to this fantastic creation of A.R Rahman.

Talking a little about A.R Rahman, it is difficult to describe his nocturnal approach and originality in work in bare words. An article published in Verve magazine came in way and I found it defines his persona aptly. In the story the music maestro has said

“Your heart and mind need to be free. And you need to work towards greatness. That happens when you feel that you have to do something amazing. And despite striving for greater heights, as a person, you try to be as humble as possible…..”

This statement sums up what A.R Rahman is, in absolute – no filters. A composer par excellence and I am lucky to be able to connect to one of his masterpieces ‘Kun Faya Kun’

Kun Fayakun comes from Arabic words “Kun” which means “to be” or “to exist” and “Fayakun” which means “it is” .So its literal meaning is “Be, and it is“. The song glorifies the power of manifestation. The creator wishes “Be!!” and whatever he wishes comes into being. I would extend it to the mortals like you and me too. If we wish with virtuousness it does come true.

Image courtesy: creativeunited

Tathastu in Sanskrit means, “Aisa hi ho/ So be it” or “Aivmastu.”  The Sanskrit word emanates power of self – the power to create. Yes, both Kun Fayakun and Tathastu are the dominions of God (omnipresent but never seen), but time and again we feel like we can also create and attract what we imagine. A classic correlation – Kun Fayakun says Tathastu, which reiterates Allah and Ram are one, Jesus and Raheem are same.

Now, coming back to the beauty of this composition, it unshackles the listener from grudges and disappointments. The following words from the song mean “Free me from myself”

O mujhpe karam sarkar tera
Araz tujhe, karde mujhe, mujhse hi riha
Ab mujhko bhi ho, deedaar mera
Karde mujhe, mujhse hi riha
Mujhse hi rihaaaaaaaa

In less than 2 minutes the song places so much positivity in complete surrender to our deeds whether good or bad and guides us to move forward for good.

Man ke mere yeh bharam Kacche mere yeh karam Leke chale hain Kahan Main toh jaanu hi naa

A salute to Mr. Irshad Kamil, the lyricist of this song, I wonder what was his source of enlightenment, that helped him weave something so abstract and make it so visible. A rare combination of words (lyrics as we call it) that helps you traverse into the realm of self- acceptance.

The soul is all pervading and transcendental – the following lines encourage one to welcome what others think and do, we come to appreciate the differences..

Woh Jo Mujh Mein Samaya
Woh Jo Tujh Mein Samaya
Maula Wahi Wahi Maaya

I am sure there is still a lot to this song which I have not absorbed. Leaving it at the note of infinity…..