Saturday, October 11, 2014

Shapes of the shadows

A friend of mine wanted me to write on the blog and her upbeat chirpy insistence has brought me back to this blog on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon. Till quite a few months, I have been writing mostly when I am little disturbed and feeling like pouring out. I think what's good about writing in a disturbed situation is that sometimes the act of sharing fastens the healing process and sometimes the responses I receive touches me. I have received beautiful emails, so beautiful, that by responding to them I have felt I would diminish their beauty. I know it is a strange psyche and I definitely do not have a right rational behind it. But responding to the anonymity would create dissonance of familiarization which probably can be a little claustrophobic. Doesn't mean I don't want to connect with the people who wrote back but  that I want to connect to them with the same anonymity, the connection remaining unidentified.

Anyway, I think this desire to return on the blog in a rather "undisturbed" state of mind is a luxury. It does tell that I am on the path of recovery. I think a few days of normalcy and daily routine has helped. For last three years, life was testing me, pushing me and asking me to understand it. Now I have hit a plateau in my quest of understanding life. So there is calmness.

Late last night, or early morning rather, we were at Westin, where we had a luxury of having 2 beers below a majestic glass ceiling exposing the weakness of the moonlight against a well-lit crush hall. Afterwards, we were dropping a friend to her building that could be accessed only through a small uneven bouncy patch with slum dwellers living on one side. While we were returning partying, the women of the slum were up early to fill in their buckets because that might have been their water hour. Whenever I pass on the place like that, I think of life that I left behind. I was wondering the comfort of Westin to the comfort of the days when I used to be in Ummeed. When waking up at the dawn would mean to wake the boys up for school and make sure they attend the school despite their daily inadequacy of streets puts them into self-doubts of mainstream classrooms 

I was brought back from my thoughts by the headlight of my friend's Scorpio falling on to the face of a woman of the slum. Unlike the shadowed-over moonlight from the glass-ceiling in the Westin, the headlight gave this woman' face an illumination, a kind of a spotlight. I recognized her with an anonymity and yet the cognizance of the harshness that life might be bringing to her. And like Gandhi's talisman, a face of the poor that I will remember.

When I had joined Teach for India, I was told by one fine 40-year old gentleman that "Oh! I wish I had got an opportunity like this at your age" And I could relate to that statement more now. I think wherever I will go, Teach for India experience stays in my heart and might as well send me back where I had this sense of belonging and sense of comfort which is still untouched and raw despite the little luxury that has entered in my life. It was indeed right to spend my youthful years in trying to scale the magnanimity of the crisis. Because everything else - money, comfort and luxury  comes back but that pure feelings are hard to find. And nothing can replace that.

The loss of a parent and his struggle for last three years had been very devastating. May be the storm is over. May be life can be planned. May be life will be little less testing. May be it wouldn't matter if it will test. But life might be lived with reminder of what life was, and that will make the act of living more meaningful.

I was in the swimming pool last evening gasping for breath of a struggling swimmer. But that struggle cleansed me. Struggle always cleanses. I am heading for a day long Vipassana tomorrow in the pursuit of more cleansing, of understanding more dark shadows and more spotlights and where I belong.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hope is a fiction

I was on the last pages of Katherine Boo's "Behind the beautiful forevers" when I put it down to listen to crowd cheering for Modi's speech at Madison Sqaure. On one side, the story of a Mumbai slum, where life is dying unnoticed and yet Katherine suggesting that "Hope is not a fiction", and on the other hand standing ovations and endless cheers to Modi's description of "India of dreams".
Both Katherine and Modi are eloquent in the description of hope that Indians should have despite our tragedies either in slums of Mumbai or on the streets of New York, but both of them leave me with a sense of incomprehension.

What I liked about Katherine that she had tended to what people in her books were thinking at a specific event, or during mundane tasks. Her accounts are like a witness, a true art of a journalist who wouldn't want alteration of the course because of her presence. But her accounts are also of truth and its impact. The way she writes, it feels like she is feeling the truth of every person in her book which goes beyond witnessing, with more insights than those people did. Somthing that they didn't comprehend for themselves but she did.

I left the work at NGO to join a for-profit organization, even though still in education and with people who want to solve the problem with the sustainable disposition. But I miss life of living with the street children and knowing their truths. I felt envy of Unnati, whom Katherine suggested helped her out in this book. I know what it is live with those people. Their lives seem backward from a distance. After all, we have knowledge of Little Italy and iPhone 6 which they might not understand. But they have something far more precious. Their lives have always seemed to me more real than mine. Something that Katherine comprehends while I even after reading her book don't. 

Narendra Modi suggests that Mahatma Gandhi saw a very clear dream of India's independence, and for that he taught the idea of seva to every Indian. To be taking pride in cleaning of the road to teaching in a school and thus feeling the independence instead of becoming a martyr.

Once I had felt connected to all these thoughts and they were no brainer to me. But these days, I am disconnected. May be hope is turning out to be fiction despite being more equipped and affluent than the people in Katherine's book. May be it is a sense of failure. May be that happens when we choose an easy path. 

A good life or a bad life, life is always is. Says Abdul in Katherine's book. Life of financial well-being, or of blind ambitions does take you away from feeling the truths. Every luxury feels futile and artificial. But if you run away from it, you find yourself helpless in solving such magnificent problems as the slums of Mumbai or the lives of those street children had presented in front of me. I am pretty sure Katherine would have found it hard to stop herself from solving the trivial problems that led to change of lives of these people. Witnessing is still easier than actually trying to solve these problems because the truth is the cycle never ends and one get trapped until you decide to run away. And running away is easiest of all, the path that I chose. And may be because Hope is a fiction for hopeless souls like mine.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A tough story to tell

It is going to be a tough story to tell today. I have delayed telling it because it required a breakdown to happen. It required something to break on the surface to ooze out something from within. May be I was bleeding internally, and now only I have decided to allow it to come out.

I have gone underground in a way that all I can look at is a basement where everything is covered with white sheets. I have left the most vulnerable part of me in that basement, to keep it safe. People are seeing somebody else, someone liberated, someone happy, someone in control, someone with potential to succeed. That's very good, they say. Where do you find a person like that these days? So I keep my fingers crossed that people keep seeing that when they see me, because my fear is that truth is victorious always, and what they are seeing is not truth.

A couple of months ago, I wrote an article on this blog on how the battle I was fighting for my father was already lost. But I was still struggling to keep that fight alive. In the process, making myself grow years in just few months. I kept fighting. He kept fighting. He kept giving up. I kept giving up too. And in that entire battle we didn't know who we were fighting with. Against the course of life?

A friend of mine once told me that human minds have been trained for centuries to face life and death. But that doesn't make facing death easy.

On 21st July, my father bid us farewell. I cried on the stairs of the hospital for half an hour just after that. Cried on the last rites for fifteen minutes. But since then, I haven't cried. Those tears are in some secret land far away or may be in that basement. Throughout the process of winding up my parents' home, I took as many responsibility as I can. After I joined my office, I made sure that people don't stop laughing because there is something terrible happened in my life. I acted normal. Mostly restricting myself not to share it with everyone until unless people themselves approached me to hear.

I talked to old friends. Few of them, I gave a call myself. And told them without showing any kind of emotion. Just plain story of what went wrong as if I am telling about a dear friend's father and not mine. May be not even a dear friend. May be somebody unknown, somebody else's terrible story which was not mine.

And since then, I have made sure to run away from accepting that story as mine. I wrote "Late" in my father's name in the pension form without my hand trembling. I talked about his Death Certificate as if it was a document without allowing it to go beyond a point, reading it just to verify details, taking photocopies without differentiating from a regular government id. Practical and realist? Or just a cold-blooded living under water animal? The latter made me good looking! People find me happy and in-control.Somebody who is strong.

I wonder what I am doing is making me my  strongest or weakest version? More dead than alive, I would say. But there is nothing much choice I have in the entire situation but to channelize every single quantum of emotion in the form of a sincere responsibility. Of a woman who wants to take care of her mom suffering from Alzheimer. And making sure that this battle is not as easily lost as the previous one.

I have a scar to live with. Somewhere when there was time to hold the rope tighter, I just accepted the power of nature against my human limitations and let that rope slip from my hand. My papa's Doctor said to me that his heart says that he should have survived more but his head says, his suffering needed to bring to an end. My heart says, and so does the head, I should have kept fighting till the end.

 I gave up as soon as I saw defeat, much before the actual defeat happened.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sea Dreamer

This post is named after a beautiful song by Sting/Anoushka Shanker

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GNYRMskc1Q&feature=kp

Loved where he says, how the secrets of moonlight will take him where the sun meets the water and sky breaks free. What a beautiful description of dawn!

My days are busy at work. But my parents' health continue to worries me. Feels so helpless sometimes and yet other times tries to give all the possible rationals to myself.

We have appointed a new principal at our school. She has done Vipassana too. Third in my office :-)

She is such a disciplined person. She is first one to come to school and almost the last one to leave. She doens't mind coming even on weekends too. She wakes at 4 AM and is there at school  by 8. She wears these beautiful cotton sarees that I just love.

My students are having some great time too with me! They don't mind studying Math all day with me and we tomorrow are going to have our first ever 5 hour Math class! They are far behind but they are smart. Kids always are! Of course, it means that I will have to put in some extra hours for other assignments that I have. But these students are amazing. While all my Ummmeed students were stud and rowdy, these kids are sincere and have just little naughtiness on their faces that makes my day brighter every morning.

As I sleep tonight, I dream for tranquility of the sea as described in this song. I want to wake up tomorrow for a new dawn, for a more hard working day, for ability to bear more pain and for energy full of worthiness.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Students driven learning

We often enter into classrooms where teachers are having a monologue while students are listening, making notes, writing down, solving. But there is a power in students driven learning. I am teaching IX and X grade students these days, just to support them in Math while schools are closed for summer vacation.

My students struggle with questions like 7x3 =21, or -3 + 4 =1.

I just did a quick thing today. Some students took the roles of quizmasters and others were participants. While the quizmasters asked questions like 7x5 - 8 x 6 and calculated the answers, the participants answered these questions in less than 10 seconds. The end result - stronger, motivated and confident students.

There were other feedback which I gave them - about how the scorer is more involved in the quiz then scoring properly, how the particpants gets nervous when a question is asked, how the winning team had a great teamwork behind them and how they can maintain calmness in a competitive environment.

The point is simple - "Be your own teacher and be your own disciple"

I am just there to help!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Despite the rains, we had a Math Camp

We organized a Math Camp yesterday evening in the neighboring community. The objective was to know our neighbors, spread a word about our school initiatives and have some fun with kids. Our team was working really hard. They got up at 4 AM to ensure the newspapers have the pamphlets, then they went on distributing the pamphlets, and then they were busy with all day with putting up a tent, chairs, tables, signboards, school banner, packing up gifts etc.

At just about 4 PM, as everything was set, it started raining! All of us thought all our efforts will be washed away. My team members faces were becoming long. But kids are kids! They started walking in. Their parents started bringing them in under the umbrellas. At 4.10 PM, when the rain was dripping down the tent, drenching us, we had around 25 students who were with us, ready for their first ever Math camp in the community!

And we started our quiz without getting worried of how much rains we still were going to get. Our scoredboard was too wet for writing, our papers were getting wet in a second but our students were ready and our quizmaster was ready. Our first quiz was a success. There were people looking from their verandahs and we had 15 more students walking in another half an hour, and next 10 in another half an hour.

What a spirit of the children! They can keep going, drenching in the rain under a tent, and still participating! We next asked students to learn more about our methods of teaching after they were finished with their quiz, and we got some motivating responses, right from, "Will we just have one class?" to "I never learned like this before". 

We ended around 7 PM in the evening, the rain stopped around 5:30, and we all knew that we are going to have an encore pretty soon, for our happiness and for the kids! :-D

Even the rains cannot stop us! 


Saturday, May 17, 2014

I can help - Resume, GMAT and Essays

Hey everyone,

I am writing this blog post as a way to reach out to people who are kick-starting their pursuit of Business Schools/GMAT.

So far, I have helped around 9 friends in the initial process who needed help in writing first few drafts of their resume and essays before going to an expensive consultant. After they had a strong foundation, I then recommended them to a professional admission consultant which helped  them with a final version. This saved them lot of money as usually admission consultants charge exorbitant prices for just one review or an hour of phone call. Also, it helped them to understand what is the application process about, how to approach essays, how to write a resume, and how to plan and study for GMAT without taking help from any coaching centers. 

My reason for doing all of this is simple - that I have enjoyed doing it in the past and my friends enjoyed drafting their applications/resumes with me and they were successful also in schools like Kellogg, Wharton, Stanford etc.  But since I did it only with my friends, I am not sure how it is going to turn out to do with people I don't know yet!

But I feel like giving it a shot! So just email me at mukaam2014@gmail.com if you are looking forward for a help like that and we can set up a skype call and start!! I haven't thought about any costs yet and right now I am doing it just to get myself busier!

Thanks for reading through the post and looking forward to helping!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Keep Moving

I think I am going into writer's block again. No lucid thoughts as such.

I have come back to Hyderabad and joined work. It is an exciting place. And I have picked a new project. That will keep me occupied. That is all I intend to do. Stay busy and occupied. And  keep moving.

Later.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Finality

It is one of the most difficult posts that I am going to write. Because today, I am talking about the a finality that I have to accept. When I read Ayn Rand years ago, what stuck me most was this quote:
"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine"
If you have read the book, you would know that it doesn't mean an individual has to be selfish. It means that every moment of your life should have a purpose that is of your own - if it means that you are serving others, you are serving yourself and that is because you want to. You don't say I am living for the purpose of x, y and z person. As soon as you start intertwining your life like this, you lose what your soul is meant for.
I have a difficult decision to make. My parents are not going to get better. I cannot understand what they are going through the illness and I have no clue what is the right course of action for me to do except knowing that my life has a purpose and that purpose needs to be achieved. My sister and mine most important 20s have spent in hospitals for our parents. I am not complaining, but the fact is that I have seen shopping malls lesser than hospital in last couple of years. We have practically done nothing beyond keeping up with our jobs and that too we have just managed. No exploration or travel or vacation that we could plan.
Our relatives makes us feel guilty for not quitting our jobs and living with our parents or taking a holiday which is not for our parents. Our parents are in no position that they can help us build our lives. We have to take care of it - our career, our financial stability, our future and all the successes and failures. Destabilizing our individual lives and career. Is that the answer? Leaving our parents alone - Is that the answer? I really have no clear cut solution to this problem except knowing that there is severe urge within to stop living like this. To live in scare of running across the country any moment, to have uncertainty of death every third or fourth month, to spending all our holidays and vacations in mending and caring for our parents. What does the dharma says? Do our duties? Isin't there a duty towards ourselves. To be happy, to live life fully for ourselves. Is life not meant to be like this?

I worked at Teach for India and people think that I wanted to do it for social service. NO! I did it because I found it meaningful for my life and my intellectual capacity. I helped my parents not as a duty but as something I wanted to do. that was a life choice. But now, when things are beyond my control, when the only reciprocation to my parents' situations is helpnessess, I feel like quitting from the choice that I made. I have started feeling the more important justice will be to give more emphasis to my life and my sister's life. Those battles are still on. Those battles I can still fight and can still won. To not become  middle-aged women whose only important impressions of life are its struggle and misery. I sometimes feel I have already reached my middle age. I don't act or behave like other 28 years olds at all. Well, I never acted or behaved my age but suddenly in last couple of years, I have aged faster than years went by.

I want to live for the purpose of life.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Perseverence

I am back today again. To be able to write, doesn't happen often with me. In the past, I have either opened, drafted and never posted or never wrote beyond couple of sentences. I have more drafts than actual posts. So, it is a mercy to be able to write and wanting to post too.

I want to share with you one very inspiring talk from Ms. Anu Aga. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbfvZeyeBhE

I've met Anu Maam during my Teach for India fellowship. We happened to talk about my father and she told me her struggle through life. Her face was radiant with glow and shine of a saintly woman. I had wondered how at 62 someone can look this beautiful and bright. She has a voice that will instantly make you affectionate towards her and yet there is a sense of authority and leadership. There are few people in this world whose words stays with you forever, even simple words. Their mannerism and sense of speaking is everlasting. My interaction with Anu Maam was like that.  I have talked to her four-five times. And every time I have come across her, my respect for her authenticity, despite her being such a great public figure, has grown manifold.

Even during my last day of Vipassana, when the noble silence was broken and I get back to talking and making friends, I told one of the fellow meditator that people who have done Vipassana are breathtakingly beautiful and I mentioned Anu Maam to her. She replied by saying, "Now I know why you have come for Vipassana." :-)

Anyway, her perseverance to turn around her struggles is very inspiring. Her challenge was magnanimous and the way she turned it around gives me hope, a lot of hope to live life and to wait for better days. Of course the cycle of good and bad times never ends. But the way to get through bad days is by knowing that good days will come.

PS - I know I never fail to mention about Vipassana, That's the promise I made during my last day to myself. I never gave any money as donation. My service to Vipassana teaching was to tell about its benefits to more and more people.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Happiness is the truth

I thought I will write on the blog more regularly. But it took me another four days to come back. Not that I didn't try writing in between. But I wanted to write only if it is worth sharing.

Working from home is not easy. The discipline of going to work is lost. The efficiency drops down. You need a rhythm and a momentum. Really surprises me how novelists keep writing forever day after day on one desk isolating themselves from the world. But other times, I do relate to them. If you really are in the right frame of mind and momentum, you can keep working for hours without talking. And the work will be of a brilliant quality. I think I need both - momentum and right frame of mind. The fear is that once I have both, I will probably need to go back to Hyderabad. 

The caretaker we have in my parents' house demonstrates excellence in his work. He always remembers his work that he needs to do and he remembers to do them timely. He doesn't complain. He has humility that you really don't see often. He never reacts to any kind of agitation. If provoked, he responds with the right words very carefully. His wife is not that efficient in work or with children. He does the household work in his own quarters too. He is able to save money. What a clarity towards simplicity in life! And the best part is I see him contended. Always cracking some nice funny jokes here and there. I think working hard, not complaining, being disciplined, not being extravagant makes life worthwhile. Simple virtues and simplicity in conduct. Do we need anything else to be happy?

There are other things on my mind too. Will try to write back soon.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

When are you going back?

I began my day with having an Omlette at Caltex. My sister and I just love having Omlettes here. It has been a tradition for us to have Sunday breakfast at a small coffee shop. We usually have idlis in Hyderabad. Now it was the turn for Omlettes. I looked outside from Caltex. It has windows without windows panes. So, I can look at the street very clearly.

I see young men roaming around. My kids are like that too, I thought. In Teach for India classrooms, fellows usually refer to their students as "my kids" and you can hear them chattering on and on about "my kids did this" and "my kids did that". But my kids weren't really kids. They were these 18 year old young boys. And I couldn't anywhere be their "Parent-like" at age of 28. But funny part is, I still feel I was. Although I haven't been able to carry it through much after that. I still know what are they up to but haven't been able to meet them since June last year. Like this week, I talked to Ajay at around 9:30 PM. I was about to crash and he so nicely said "Didi, you sound very tired. Please sleep nicely. Have a good night." They were simple words but they had lot of care and affection.

Anyway, back to Caltex, When I was seeing all these young boys, I can't resist thinking how I have a familiarity with them. I can pick up conversation with them and can continue forever. For a 28 years old woman, this is really strange behavior to talk with 20 years old boys on streets like this. I guess I sometimes just miss being a teacher to my students. And other time, there is this desire to be still able to work with children like those. They are very special.

My mother and I sat in the porch in the evening. She was trying to explain to me lot of things like how my sister has said that she will take one of her paintings to US. That's a life size painting, It took my mom 5 minutes to explain this in a  simple sentence. But I know it means a lot to her that her children value her work.

It means a lot to her to see me married as well. She talked about that too. But then she added, Don't get married unless you are sure of your happiness. She dispense words of wisdom even though making a sentence is so hard for her. I could hear remnants of her own experiences there.

Finally, she looked into my eyes and asked, "When are you going back?". I said, "I am here". But that wasn't enough. I couldn't answer more or promise more.

Tenacity to live

Vivekananda says thoughts have lot of power. A sanyasin sitting in the cave just meditating and thinking, can transmit thoughts loud and clear to the world outside, beyond the wall of caves. I am hyperventilating thoughts these days - my thoughts are fast and deep. I  transmit very few things in my words, but I get reactions as if people are able to hear more than what I am saying.

We went to hospital yesterday. Papa had a small surgery for which the doctor incharge wasn't comfortable with. The risk was that of high bleeding. He repeatedly share his concerns and in fact postponed it by three days to wait for one medical parameter to lower down.But the cardiologist, who has been looking after the case for last two years, gave a go ahead. Our trusted cardiologist had to fly out to Australia for some medical conference, so we were left with an unsure surgeon. We waited for four crawling hours for surgery to happen. Meanwhile, I noticed other patients. Everybody is serious, not even a trace of smile on their lips. Hospital staff who has to serve all these patients, doesn't seem to be that sad. They have a genuine warmth. I think the profession teaches them the reality of life more closely and quickly, teaching them to embrace the fact  that misery and death are part of life.

When papa finally went in, my sister and I went for a coffee and a snack to let the hour pass. She could read my face and I hers. After an hour, I got the phone call asking me to come in front of the operation theatre. He doesn't say recovery room or any other place. But he says "Come in front of OT". That isin't a good news, we both say to each other and rushed four floors of stairwell, to finally find papa safe and comfortable in the recovery room. I text friends and family. Finished up all the discharge formality in next four hours and finally said goodbye to my sister who flew to US last night.

Papa and I came back home. He hasn't eaten anything. I gave him all sorts of options - from bananas to roti on the dhaba, on our way back. But he asks for a Shikanji. His desires of eating unhealthy food has never been satiated, I thought. I know some of my own wrong desires that have never been satiated too. So, I don't give him any lecture on how Shinkaji is prohibited and stayed easy on him. I buy him that and see him enjoying it till the last sip. Little mercies he has, I thought.

"His will has tenacity to live" our cardiologist tells us always, "and that is why he is living otherwise his medical state would have given up by now." I think Papa has lot of make-believe in his head. He never tells himself the fact of his body. He continue to live, like business as usual, and so he is living. He doesn't register it and that is why I think he could enjoy Shikanji like a healthy and carefree man. He doesn't fail to mention that how an astrologer recently told him that he will live till 70. It is such a contrast to what he has gone through at the hospital. Was he not contemplating anything at all? He continues to talk about BJP and Congress with the driver for rest of the journey while I am still hyperventilating my thoughts.

I came home and slept for 12 continuous hours, after a long time. Relieved that he is still around.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hyderabad Blues

We flew from Hyderabad this morning. The day was normal. We had some quiet family time, talking about some relevant and irrelevant stuff. The environment in home is different from my life there at Hyderabad. The priority list is different. Anyway, papa's doctor has clarity of limited time he has. We all three sisters decided that now we cannot leave everything to the caretaker family we have here. One of us has to be stationed here.

I am not sure how we will work out that configuration. I was thinking if there is something called sabbatical in a start-up. I know my company is very supportive but at such a nascent stage they can't afford to have a dormant employee. So, I still have to work out those options. Both my sisters are stretching themselves as well.

After practicing Vipassana for so many days, practicing in presence of everyone at home is going to be little tricky. My younger sister used to jibe at me when I used to come out after an hour long meditation. And I know it just doesn't fit in my family culture. They find me peculiar anyway. But somehow this time around, i have stopped caring about the inferences and judgement of others. I am more closely connected to myself and have more control on feelings. So, there is a protected self which nothing can touch. So, after everyone had an afternoon nap, I did try doing some Vipassana. And I could sense a solidified energy level  here, not as lucid as we have in hyd home. At the Vipassana meditation center, of course the energy has lot of vibrations. But here in my parents place, the vibrations are dull. When my mom was fine, the house used to glorify with her three hours long effort of cleaning, decoration, praying and cooking. Things are different now. 

Things have changed long back. I accepted them too. May be I have fully realized now. And it is time to forge ahead keeping the mental balance intact. 




Wednesday, April 30, 2014

This too shall pass

The day turned out to be hard again. My elder sister called to say that Papa has run out of options. And the only option he has needs lot of care with no certainty. So, both me and my younger sister are flying tomorrow.


I have a very bad feeling this time around. As if the final hour is here. I have locked myself in the room to stop myself from reacting. That is all I want to do. Keep myself locked. And I want to keep thinking without any purpose of conclusion. or keep thinking as if it will bring any calmness. Today, calmness is not coming for sure. Today is the day of pain, an excruciating amount of pain.


What is going through my mind? Can I just stop reacting and hold my family together atleast for once. I have always felt both my sisters are strong in lot of ways then me. Not to brag, but I have also felt my threshold of pain is higher than theirs. To put in better words, they are strong enough to put off the pain but I allow myself to feel it. It has built more appetite in me to take it. I feel I can be of some help in next few days because of this.


I need lot of internal adjustments in next few days. I will have to learn to adapt to new external environment without affecting the external environment. Not sure any amount of thinking can prepare someone for worse. Let me forge ahead without feeling anything. Life is momentary and that is all I wish to fathom. This too shall pass.



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Silence is strength

Silence has lot of strength. After 10 days of silence during my Vipassana course, I have started practicing silence more often now. Silence carries the truth like no other. Lately, I have seen my own truths and truths of those of others more clearly because of staying silent. As we were told during Vipassana, silence helps you to stop generating samkharas or karmas. And that time, you add less fuel to the fire of your good and bad deeds. It also helps me in speaking exactly what I want to speak. Another thing is of course it helps me to introspect deeply. What I have started seeing that my responses to lot of things in life are not free from emotions, even things which are plain and simple. Awareness is the first key step in resolving self and then if you are able to see things objectively then working on them is easier. Silence makes you aware. And that awareness makes you strong.

I have picked Haruki Murakami's book on "What I talk about when I talk about running". I have read this book a year before. What brought me back to this book on his idea of pushing himself beyond his limits while running. But I also this time around assimilated one more thing on how he prefers solitude and silence over talking and communicating. Up until 30, he was running a bar and had met lots of people and had plenty of experiences interacting with them. After 30 as he became a full-time writer, he became very clear who he wants to meet and who he doesn't. He brought more discipline in his routine. He learnt to handle sorrow and criticism by running harder silently in the mornings or hiding behind the closed doors. I couldn't help thinking that there is lot of power in silence. What a work of genius his novels are! He communicates lot of complex ideas quite simply. Silence made him better at communication! He also speaks about how the most important relationship he has is this conceptual relationship he has with his readers. A relationship of silence and in silence. Most important relationships are indeed of silence and in silence.

Silence is genius. And of course being genius is hard.



Monday, April 28, 2014

Rest in Peace Pradeep Mittal

Hi Pradeep,

I have known you very briefly. But you have been one of the most genuine and down to earth person I've ever met. I am so sorry to hear about the struggle you were going through during your last days.
I don't understand why God gave you so much struggle of body while your soul and mind were so perfect. What a great service you would have done to the nation. Our country has lost you.

I just hope that you found happiness on this earth. I just hope that you found your salvation within. I just hope you remembered words of Vivekanda and he helped you to go through this. I just hope you smiled when you said goodbye.

Take a deep peaceful rest. We will need you soon.
Saloni

Saturday, April 26, 2014

I am not bad, I am brutal. If you have a doubt, go google

Yesterday was fun! After work, my cousin came over and we all had dinner together. I pulled legs, cut short everything everybody else was saying, acted really rude and yet laughed out loud with them. The laughing continued as we went to watch Revolver Rani for a late night show.My goodness! What a character! 

What a strength and might of the woman! I just loved it! We were laughing out at almost every scene. Everyone in the theatre was. There was a group of 15 people and one or two of them were making cheap commentary as well. We were in a fun mode so we were laughing at them as well. At one point, an uncle from behind shouted at them for being so loud and cheap. Then there was a quiet. After the movie ended, some of the guys started dancing in the theater itself. It was so much fun watching them. And it wasn't a cheap barati dance. It was a dance of celebration, of absolute entertainment!

Hats off to Kangana! She was amazing! Revolver Rani kicked some ass really well!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Prudence

I love the word "Prudence" because I have been wanting to acquire it. As part of the management team of the school, we often have to take decisions that requires prudence. The good part is that my team members do have this quality and they are very thoughtful about their decisions as well as their communication with the staff, parents and the team.

One of the struggle is that in the role of management, your emotions need to be in check always. Your team should be having faith and trust in you. Every leader wants that. And if your team doesn't, the leader starts failing and starts reacting emotionally, tumbling down the rabbit hole. I have seen strong leaders having things out of their hold despite all the prudence they exercise, just because of emotional overreact.

One thing that Vipassana helps is, in looking at things very objectively. And when you start doing that both in your personal or professional life, you get better in syncing your emotions with your reactions. That kind of self-control helps one in becoming stable in relationships, which is a key to success in any profession. The optimism that power of meditation and concentration brings is huge. A night before yesterday, I didn't sleep well. Tried real hard but couldn't. In the morning, I meditated for over an hour. I felt my body becoming so relaxed, my palms were softer and smoother like one gets after  a deep sleep.Yesterday, that relaxation helped me to clear misunderstanding between two of my teammates, without creating sourness among any one of us. So far, whenever I have tried meddling between two people, I have ended up feeling impacted. But yesterday, I was able to say only those things that were sufficient enough for both the parties without widening any difference, in fact, in a very constructive way. I felt all of us learnt something valuable about working in team. All of us felt peaceful and respectful towards each other after that. May be that is some prudence in communication I demonstrated!

But I think I still have a long way to go. I think some people learn so much from their mistakes that they develop it by chance. Some have their through upbringing. I didn't learn much of prudence.

I am a person of "free will" and "feel". Once I make up my mind to do something, I do it. I don't calculate or estimate. I just do it. Internally, if I feel it is the right thing to do. But mostly I have found out, that calculations and estimations does help because then you know what you are getting into and you have quicker acceptability towards the outcomes. However, not everything in life should be based out of calculations. Life becomes too suppressed. Throwing oneself into new experiences brings you closer to yourself, helps you know more about yourself and most importantly, redefine your boundaries. Perhaps, such experiences build prudence like no other.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sonder and self-exertion

While driving to work today, I noticed a woman carrying her 3 years old girl while crossing the road. On the next red light, I noticed several pedestrians crossing the road again, some running, some walking while trying to cover their heads, some being stopped by traffic. What make people still struggle and live as vivid a life? Weren't they intelligent as kid? Didn't they have same potential? Will I ever be able to work towards ensuring that kids today do not end up struggling on the roads when they grow up?

A school girl sitting behind the motorcycle made me think what is the future for her? Next, I noticed a 20 something girl whose head was covered with dupatta, with only her eyes visible. Silent eyes gazing in Sifar of the mad rush of the city. In the spur of the moment, I saw so many lives on the road together, that it created an emptiness of the inconsequential impact of my life.

And then still I wonder how all this self-exertion helps me to reach and see the world. To be learning to be non-violent and to be finding that human connection. After all this work in my career, I still look at the world at constant amazement and how it makes me stronger and how it keeps challenging me,






Monday, April 21, 2014

Weep

The days are beginning to be plain again. For sometime now, I have not interacted much at my work. It is mainly because of the nature of the work right now. It requires me to stay focused until the project is delivered. I am the only one completely in-charge of the project right now.

I had a great weekend with my younger sister. We did some shopping for her and my 2-year old niece. Watched "2 States" as well. She was very happy. I get happy when she is happy. :-)

I have started practicing Vipassana again. It is helping me a lot to calm down and organize my thoughts. Hope to continue the practice like this.

I also had started reading Vivekanada more aggressively recently. My favorite lines from my reading this morning were "It is the only big tree that is hit by a great wind. Fire needs poking to burn brighter. Snake raises its hood after getting hit on the head. Only after a turmoil, you will be able to connect with your inner strength. Weep. Weep clears the mind and improves the intuition."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

But your final reward will be heartache and tears

 In last two years, my younger sister has been working for home at parents house for almost 1.2 years to be around them. Remaining time, my parents have either traveled to US to live with my elder sister or lived alone. I, on my part, has been mostly an external help - when they need someone to run around. While I was in Teach for India, Delhi, I used to drive 50 kms everyday on my Activa to meet my father at the hospital . That was the only real time that I was taking care of things at home with complete responsibility.

Lately, I have started feeling that I am running away from taking that responsibility in order to build my life.

There is this poem that I read recently which I am thinking about a lot:

The Guy in the Glass (reference : http://www.theguyintheglass.com/gig.htm )
 by Dale Wimbrow, (c) 1934

When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
 And the world makes you King for a day,
 Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
 And see what that guy has to say.
   
For it isn't your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
 Who judgement upon you must pass.
 The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
 Is the guy staring back from the glass.
  
He's the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
 For he's with you clear up to the end,
 And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test

If the guy in the glass is your friend.
 You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,
 And think you're a wonderful guy,
 But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
 If you can't look him straight in the eye.

  You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
 And get pats on the back as you pass,
 But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
 If you've cheated the guy in the glass.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Investing in living

I have had a trouble accepting that both my parents have fallen sick at such an early age. In my home, where my mother used to cook food, pray, sing, invite guests and get ready, In that home, she is not able to do simple of tasks of eating, sitting, standing, going to toilet, talking in one single sentence. She has Dementia – a disease which is led by reduction of brain size, lack of oxygen supply and continuous loss of cognitive ability. She would cry sometimes like today she did, telling me that why I can’t even say one complete sentence. She was trying to recall who came in our house three days ago and for fifteen minutes kept on saying things related to her but couldn’t recall who it was. When she finally did, she broke down saying that there was a day when she got this jolt, this shock which made her like this.

My father faced medical crisis as well. He got a paralytic attack and doctor in the small town we lived, ignored it for over a night. Next morning when my mom just took him out of that hospital and reached Apollo Hospitals, Delhi, the paralysis couldn’t be reversed. He faced his second heart attack last year and that impacted his kidney function. His life is at-risk with doctors keep telling us to stay ready.

We have become numb.


While we three daughters have pitched in whenever we can, but on the daily basis, the struggle of an abnormal situation at home doesn’t keep us happy in whatever we do. It impacts our daily functioning in subconscious way. The protection of parents has gone and the responsibility came before we were ready. Life is dry and we keep coping up. Accepting is hard, the emotions have mostly been numbed. They say, “invest in your living”. We face a question of stopping living the way people of our age do, and living the way to be there for our parents. I have been escaping, avoiding the acceptance wholeheartedly. Defying my own self in the mirror. Like we don’t accept happiness wholeheartedly, we don’t grieve whole-heartedly. We keep holding onto dangerous hopes that things will be normal.

Well, there is always a reason to feel not good enough.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

SEED Schools won the Battle of the Best Competition

What a way to welcome my 50,000 blog hits. Our school won the Battle of the Best competition conducted by Gray Matters India in Hyderabad against 120 affordable private schools. Last 8 months of struggling finally received a blessing!

Here is the story covered by The Indian Express this Sunday: