I am me. All of me. I am beautiful. I am pure. I am innocent. I am expressive. I am dependable. I am happy.  I am responsible. I am loved. I am not what you make of me. I am what I make of myself.

Why should I depend on you? Why should I depend on what you think of me? I only depend on the impression of 4 people in my life and you are not one of them. These four have seen me since birth, reveled in my highs, grovelled in my lows. Not you. So, I don’t care what you think of me.

I am frankly fed up of hoping and praying that I will be loved by all. Disappointment. That’s what is in store for me with this expectation. I don’t NEED to be loved by all. I have to love myself. I feel stupid, worthless, naked and vulnerable now thinking of the shattering mindset that I have been prisoner to all these years, a mindset of dependence, a mindset of slavery. Why do I need to please everyone? There is only one person I need to please  and that is ME. As long as this doesn’t HARM anyone else this is the only pledge I make to myself; Make me HAPPY. If saying a NO to someone makes me HAPPY I’ll say it rather than grudging perform a task to please. Pleasing others SHOULDNOT make me happy. It’s an addiction I need to stop, right now.

I need to voice what’s in my head. Be blunt. Say it as it is. The burden, the weight, the pent up emotions will flow away. “I don’t want to go because frankly I’m lazy and I just want to chill.” – that’s it , simple, clear, honest. Why bother if I will be judged based on the comment. I’m being honest for  Christ sake!!!! If you still want to judge me , well, then so be it, it’s your time well spent ( eyes roll). Enough with the DIPLOMACY.  It’s getting me nowhere, in fact only leading me to emotional -volcano -town.

So, today is the day I find love, I fall in love, I rise in love. I am in love with myself. I will always love myself . The little child, the weeping heart will be comforted for it always has me- ever dependable, ever present, ever flowing with love. I am wonderful. I am beautiful. I am loved.

Dewdrop, resplendent,

Shining from within.

Dreams that lie latent,

Trapped in a watery bin.

A mystical drop so full of beauty.

A delicate drop so full of purity.

But a lonely lonely drop on a lonely path,

A lovely drop with a lonely heart.

It touches and goes

And slips and falls.

Will it ever be remembered?

Will it be loved at all?

Dew drop resplendent,

Shining from within.

I wrote this poem in the hope of getting some insight into my current state of being. If I  consider myself to be the dewdrop since it was my source of inspiration and replace the dewdrop with “I” …this ditty is clearly a note from me, to me about me…

A wonderful exercise for one to explore…

The path to self awareness is never easy.

A friend of mine said recently and quite wisely…. ” from breakdowns come breakthroughs”. I just need to take on the risk of the breakdown and the dawn will break through .

“Our Life is so full of cares,

We have no time to stand and Stare”-

But that is just what I did. Stare. The crimson  sun peered through the mist. I stared. Streams of resplendent sunlight danced on the crystal water. I stared. The inky sky now reflected a myriad colours. And I continued to stare. It’s not often that I’m mesmerized enough to let go of my senses, to stop and to just stare.Today I witnessed one such moment.

The crimson sunrise

The crimson sunrise

I’m not a huge fan of the beach, especially a crowded one. Too many people, too much noise and the naturalness gets destroyed. Then you begin to detest the sand, the water, the heat. But an uninhabited beach- ah now that’s enchanting. After what seemed like a lifetime I was able to connect with the ocean and immerse myself in the gentle, comforting sounds of the rippling wanes crashing against the shore. After ages, I was alone but not lonely. I sat down on the soft, wet sand and watched the white froth travelling on tumbling waves caress my feet. Everything seemed simple,pure and divine.

I vividly remember my first encounter with the ocean. I was all of 8 and our entourage of picnickers travelled through bumpy Oman roads to Yiti Beach. Excited and exuberant we traversed through the wadi, past rocky mountains and silver streams, until we took one sharp turn and there it was- The azure blue water, peeking through the mountain valley, like an oasis in a parched desert. I had never seen anything so blue, so deep , so clear. Seagulls soared high up, over this untouched piece of paradise. I scurried off the jeep and bolted straight to the water, like an arrow on its way to its target and crashed into the chilling blue water. It must have been hilarious to watch  a plumpy, fluroscent, 8 year old bobbing on the Arabian Sea but I was thrilled!!!!!OH the fishes, the corals,the shells, the water ah bliss!!!

No Beach trip since has been able to re-create that magic,  UNTIL NOW. Today, I sat on the coast of the Gulf of Arabia and watched a pink ball of fire rise up into the sky. In the silent lap of the ocean  I was suddenly filled with an awe for nature. Everything is carried out like clockwork, with utmost perfection. The sun rises, day breaks, birds begin to chirp, crabs crawl out, seagulls soar, the waves continue to crash – life goes on. Everything runs to a silent rhythym. The ” universal soul” that Wordsworth waxed eloquent made lightning sense to me now. Everything in creation is connected, deep down each feels for the other, a super-consciousness pervades all. When we stop to stare we awaken the consciousness that resides in the silence of our being.

Respect. That’s what flowed out of me now. We spend our lives in the quest for knowledge that is as vast and endless as the ocean. When in reality deep down we yearn for Wisdom. Learning without thought is perilous said Confucius. Without meaning knowlegde is useless, baseless. Meaning adds depth to learning and transforms it into the the deep ocean of wisdom. We yearn for wisdom, search for it far and wide when all along it has been in staring at us in our faces in Nature. The tree most laiden with fruits bows down- the wisdom of humility, the sandalwood self-effaces to release its ethereal scent- the wisdom of selfless giving, the moon waxes and wanes- the wisdom that everything comes around, the ocean carries on endlessly- the wisdom of the limitless potential in each one of us. There are plenty such gems out there. One just needs to occassionally stop and stare.

I stood there awe-struck.The chill Himalayan air seeped through every inch of my body invigorating me.The magnificient Himalayas lay before me, a spectacle to behold. Huge undulating folds, enveloped in lush greenery,spotted with red brick huts; silent, serene,understanding and at peace. Puffs of overflowing clouds fringed the ranges and the setting sun splashed a bucket of rainbow colors onto the clouds’ white canvas. My favorite song played in my head as it always does when I’m unusually happy;Sunset on the Himalayas

Kitni Narmi Se , Kitni dheere se,

Dil mein aati hain,dabe paon Mohobbat

Aur phir,

Dhadhkon mein yeh chupkar dolti hai,

Rang sa zindagi mein gholti hai,

Aankhon aankhon mein jaise bolti hai,

Haule se, Dheere se

Slowly but surely love flowed out of me, love for life, love for being there and when you are in love everything is all the more beautiful, more colorful. I stood there lost, transfixed. Mountains have always had this effect on me. They evoke a sense of spirituality in me; huge, foreboding creations of God yet so calm, so giving, so majestic, so protective, so uncorrupted, a silent reminder of the might of creation.  This was my first morning in Shimla and it was a knockout.

We ( my parents and I) started the journey early one cool monsoon morning in July and took the 7 o’clock Kingfisher flight to Delhi . Our connecting flight to Shimla was due in an hour from the time of landing but due to bad weather(I suspect low passenger capacity) the flight was cancelled and we were left stranded in the national capital. Thankfully, we had a local Shimlaiite with us on route and he recommended we board the afternoon flight to Chandigarh and then drive down to Shimla.We had no choice and I was up for a visually stimulating car journey! Chandigarh was overcast and chilly. We hired an Innova with a driver who a cheerful , talkative chap and set off just in time before it started pouring.  That car drive would rank high up in my list of “most scenic” ( the most interesting+nerve racking would we the one where my Grandparents, mom, uncle and I were caught in a cyclone in Veraval, Gujrat!). The driver skilfully manouvered the vehicle on winding, treachrous and narrow paths as we steadily gained altitude. Apple carts,  verdant agriculture lands and brightly coloured trucks were few of the sights we passed by. Stopping only twice in our 5 hour journey(once for corn on the cob that we were forced to share with man’s closest relative aka the monkey and then for cutting chai and bread pakoda at the drivers’ hangout) we breezed into the hillstation just as the sun started retiring for the day.

We dropped our genial fellow traveller at his destination and carried towards our humble abode-the Oberoi Wildflower Hall. Perched atop a mountain at 8000ft, the front facade of this castle glowed in the blue moonlight. Aptly lit pathways led us directly to a grand entrance fit for a King.That we just hit the bed out of exhaustion after a sumptuous Himachali dinner of course!

The next morning I woke up to the chirping of birds and a golden Himalaya. We had decided that this holiday would be an exploratory one with as less time as possible spent thronging in shops ;) So on the first day we went on a self-guided Strawberry Trail. As the weather gods would have it, the clouds began squeezing every drop of water they had. Armed with sturdy umbrellas we set off on the hour long trail through dense cedar and pine forests with only thrushes, cows, bright red strawberries and the silent plunk of raindrops  in the puddles for company. I’m not sure if I’m really made to spend time in solitude for after about half an hour or so I longed to see some signs of modernity and familiarity and you have no idea how ecstatic I was to see an electric pole!!!  We returned recharged with all the fresh mountain air. The rest of the day was spent touring the hotel’s grounds, reading in the library and playing a game (disastrously)of snooker.The next day we went on a mountain view trail…this one 2 and half hours long and with a guide who took us trekking through the same forests but in the opposite direction but this time we had stunning views of Shimla from above! He seemed to be a keen botanical expert and keenly point out rare species of plants and even beetles!

The Trek

The Trek

By the end of  the trek my dad was panting unusually too much. That night he got worse. But still the next morning he braved the Mall road but by evening we had to order an oxygen cylinder.It turned out the high altitude and consequent low oxygen didnot suit him. We forced to cancel out trip to Manali and were confined to the hotel for the day. The Oberoi staff need a special mention becaue their courtesy and service was extraordinary. We felt like we were bing taken care of by family members. The chef visited and made special dietary adjustments . The staff  also arranged for us to be transported to a hotel at a lower altitude. And so we packed our bags and bid adieu to the serenity of Wildflower hall.

That night my dad’s health improved but we still needed to reach the plains and so our driver was called in early and we set off for Delhi. Thankfully by the time we had reached our destination my dad had gained much in health.

That’s how our Shimla hoiday ended. I will always carry  memories of the fresh air and welcoming mountains of Shimla

It really has been quite a while since I last posted. I put it all down to a dicey net connection and constant travel. Now that I’m all settled it’s quite thrilling to put pen to paper..or….er… well fingertip to keyboard.

What have I been upto lately? Well thanks to  a brainwave my dad had last summer I moved to Mumbai and  appeared for a couple of mind-numbing MBA  entrance exams that the Indian education system has set-up to carry on the age-old tradition of torchering the prospective Indian student and draining every ounce of creative thinking from her brain . I appeared for CAT and NMAT and then finding them a robotic, senseless, drone of an experience which didn’t elicit an iota of interest in me, I decided  not to sit for any of the other exams, for fear of permanent damage to my psyche. I did fairly well though given my complete lack of preparation .A 92.53 percentile in CAT-which means I did better than 92.53% of  the 3,00,000 lambs who were prepared to be slaughtered at the altar of the toughest exam in the country. Ah, but to qualify for the haloed IIMs one needs an astonishingly high 99.75%tile or above. O boo, what the heck, so I’m not a geek.  I stumbled onto an alternate thrilling career choice and I’m happy to say I  was successful in clearing the interviews!!!!

So while I’ve been  basking in self-glory and soaking in all the compliments from my deluded relatives who had until now thought I was a good-for-nothing, jalebi munching,  burden on society, I have been upto much. I breathed in the crisp, clean morning air of the Himalayas in Shimla, was dazzled by the azure pond in my Great -Grandmother’s village in Kerela, gorged on wada-pavs and ragda puris at full throttle in the gallis of Mumbai and am now lounging in my bedroom in Sharjah.

Now, you must be getting an idea of what my next posts will be touching upon.

See you there:)

Until then I’m Back

My first diwali in Mumbai

My first diwali in Mumbai

What spanned out during the last 60 odd hours on the streets of my beloved Mumbai was atrocious and numbing. I wasn’t as much shocked as I was saddened and enraged. How dare they? What audacity and blatant disrespect for a country do they have that they storm in brandishing Ak-47s and shooting indiscriminately? What is even more harsh is that it took an attack on Mumbai’s elite for the angry voices of dissent to rise as if to say the earlier attacks were not as horrendous or the lives lost not as important. This wasn’t the first time that India had been attacked. She has been ravaged and bruised many a time in her illustrious past oft without time for healing before the next plunder but what shook me most deeply and weighs me down heavily is the direction my country is headed.

Change is the need of the moment in a financially wrought America but it would be equally apt in India’s context. Our politicians are not the sole problem, they are one of a mountain-load. Where does one begin? Across the board clinical, systemic change is the order of the day. For starters, we need to do away with an inefficient multi- party system with its vague and vagrant ideologies. A bi-party system will work well in an Indian setup where off late a coalition government seems to have become the norm. Secondly, we need to start voting for individuals as in the west. A rigorous test of competency of candidates for offices of high power and responsibility is, in my opinion, a basic requirement- a simple application of “By the People.” It’s quite bizarre that we have accepted the current system in place where the citizen has limited say in who leads the nation. A pre-requisite for this however is the availability of competent, intellectual, passionate and patriotic leaders. We have unfortunately been unable to produce one in the rank of Nehru and Gandhi post – independence which doesn’t augur well. Where have all the inspirational men and women gone, the ones who will show us the path to greatness, the ones who will stop the imminent head-on collision with disaster? Obviously the current situation is not conducive to the development of leaders and without one we are a nation of headless chickens. The root cause is disrepute caused by the current brand of corrupt politicians to the noble profession of Public Service. The best minds don’t want to venture out into the dark world of bureaucracy and red-tapesim. Even though we have a few gems  ( at least on paper), the political system is too stifling for these earnest individuals in power to wield it responsibly and efficiently.

Now that Mumbai -seige is over the blame-game has begun, civilians blaming politicians, the politicians pointing fingers at the intelligence bureau who in turn blame it on too many false alarms and an unfortunate porous marine line. Its time we all stopped complaining and accept the blame as individuals. We have been too casual in our approach and attitude towards our country’s growth. Yes the politicians have failed us but we too are a lawless lot of civilians. One look at the lack of self-discipline amongst drivers on our roads is ample evidence to this fact. We spit under “Yahan thookna mana hai” signs, park in no parking zones and are probably the only nation that accepts public urination. Most of the youth in small towns land up in the entertainment indusry and those in the city run after cushy financial jobs (Im one of them). How do you expect our armed forces to sustain itself if they are no qualified takers? The fault lies with government too. Money makes the world go round and whichever job pays the highest the youth will follow. Fine , so increase the pay-scales of the men- in- uniform. There are plenty of unemployed youth in the lower income bracket who wander around aimlessly eve-teasing or doing menial jobs. Train them, pay them well and put them on the marine coastline or better still make army training and posting compulsory for every child that graduates from school. I will sign up( even though I may be physically unfit) but given a chance Im ready to serve my country.

India needs an across -the -board change in mindset. I may sound naive in saying this but our country desperately needs a revival of a pre-independence fervour and passion. Only that will lead us towards being a nation that our freedom fighters died freeing.

Vande Mataram.

A beautiful old video from Doordarshan on the  usage of plurals in Hindi thus subliminally hinting at the power of unity. Watch and enjoy.

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