Sunday, August 20, 2017

What the wave will bring tomorrow

One of my all time favourite movie - Cast Away - has a closing line. Tom Hanks remembers how a wave, after 4 years of his solitary confinement on the island, brings a steel part which he uses for making a boat to escape and eventually be rescued to humanity. In these 4 years, his wife has remarried and has a family. He doesn't know where to go what to do with his rescued self. And so he says, from the hope that was rendered to him by the wasted part of that steel, "Who knows, what the wave will bring tomorrow!" I think all of us go through a life where we have been rescued by something and from something. We didn't get the life boat but a steel part to build one. And so we were saved.

I have been living in Hyderabad for last 4 years. I have gone through the most terrible phase of my life with this as my habitat, losing both my parents while I was here. But in form of family, love and friendships, part-by-part, my life kept on resurrecting unnoticeably. The place tested me on my vices and my virtues. I came across my failures as a human. Rarely, I won few of them in some re-battles. But mostly I failed.

I persisted till my parents' last breath. I knew the day when I was sure that my mother will leave the world soon. She smiled for the last time that day and was gone 6 days later. I lived in the empty house for next few months, applying myself to work as much as I could. When I stood up for something I believed in, I realised one of the leaders and I don't align. I bowed out of the organisation with grace.

I found a roommate in a friend. Life became easier. I found that all major universities I applied to accepted me. Stanford especially. Life brought lot of joy. I emerged from my brooding self to be someone who could start a day with a smile, and could bring happiness for others.  I also came across situations when I got entangled, with my own self.  For few, I found the way out - through acceptance, surrender and forgiveness. The act of growing up or may be still not!

Doing Yoga in Sivananda ashram brought me some perspective. I looked beyond the cages of my mind and at the world in more abstract way. I reinforced the teachings of Vipassana, of that of impermanence and kept living every day. And that has brought me to today.

Two days from now, I will be leaving the land of my birth, the land to which my parents merged, this chaotic, corrupted, fanatic noisy country for at least one year. I will be leaving the place which showed me the path to conquer myself and the people who led me to do so. The place where my inward journey started and has the key to its finality. The place where the love of my life lives and where some friendships cemented.

I feel I will return. But an explorer without a map may not find her way back. So, I don't promise myself anything. I love learning. I am a life-long learner. That is the most important thing for me. The wave will bring something tomorrow again. I will make another life-boat and sail.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


I have not been working since March 31st. This has been longest that I didn't have a full-time job in last 10 years. I have been reading a lot and buying lots of book on my kindle. I recently finished few books -

1. Sudeep Chakravarthy's Highway 39  - Since the time I visited Nagaland and Manipur, I have always wanted to know about these places more. Highway 39 is Sudeep's travel through North Easter states of Nagaland and Manipur. I have been reading his articles in Mint weekly and thought of trying his books. They are very well-written. We all have grown-up taking Northeastern states as part of India for granted. This book tells about how our government and army continuously violates human rights in those states.

2. Sudeep Chakravarthy's Red Sun - Sudeep travelled to the origin of Naxalbari movement and to all the places where it has taken its roots. The good thing about his writing is that he keeps it very real - one can picture him in those places, those conversations. This book has really made me a part of India which I have not been in touch with or in all humility, I have not been able to access otherwise.

3. Madeleine Thien's Do Not Say We Have Nothing - Earlier this January, I read a book based in China called "Do Not Say We Have Nothing". That book spoke about two families in China during the Maoist regime. The book is extremely well-written and takes you to the world of innocent people, fighting a difficult war within and outside.

4. Aman Sethi's A Free Man - This book has been my most memorable book in recent times. It talks about a Dehadi worker in Sadar Bazar Ashraf and all people closely connected to his life. I have been to Sadar Bazar so many times in my life but reading this book is like a slow travel in that market.

5. Karl Ove Knaussgard's Some Rain Must Fall  - Oh! What a book! To discover your inner self in the way Karl does is truly a gift and a work of genius. He describes everything about himself in details that by end of the book you know him and yourself too.

6. Sheryl Sandberg's Option B - This book is very close to my own journey of facing loss and going through it, surviving every day. There were lot of things mentioned in the book that I have faced but never gave words to them.

On my Kindle current reading list right now -

1. The Flat World and Education - Linda Darling-Hammond
2. Man's search for meaning - Victor Frankl
3. The Book of Joy - His Holiness Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
4. Flow: The psychology of happiness - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

It is great to be able to read so much. Will see you soon again!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Life as we know it,,

I slept at around 10 AM in the morning. Last night, we had a blast! My office gang just threw another party for me. They brought their own drinks, ordered food, danced to their heart's delight and chatted up until the dawn. After clearing up, I took a bath, regretted why we party so much and how it does not answer any quintessential question of life, but still sometimes makes you feel loved and connected.

A notable night I guess. I have been off work from 31st March. Two weeks over. I have an unending list of tasks to be completed before I go to US. Full-time task-list is an understatement. One one hand, it will make me busy but on the other it is a missed opportunity on what I would loved to do in a break. Not sure if I will get a work break like this again.

Reading a book these days - The Red Sun. A book on Naxal-badi. Very well-written. After so many years, I was remembered of the moment when I watched Hazaron Khawishein Aisi for the first time. And then my second deep encounter was award-winning book "The Lives of Others" by Neel Mukherjee. It has always been a debate in my head on the right way to save the lives of countless marginalised amidst the government corruption. It just sometimes feel how important it is to be in the middle of the tough problems that we need to solve in this country.

Earlier in my research of graduate school, I came across a professor at Columbia, who works for setting up education system in conflicted areas like Syria. In a resettled life, how do you provide right to education for those who have been displaced? Education looks like a privilege in absence of basic needs but one of the most important way to uplift people to heal.

I have been recently offered admissions at Stanford Graduate School of Education. I am heading there this fall. It make me feel empowered to have access to platform like Stanford. I wonder that some day I work for conflicted regions in India. To create a systemic change of education - contextual, preserving and empowering - to the tribes of India. It gives me a dream to live life differently, a path that I walked on for a while, lost, and then have found again. Will write soon again!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The freedom of a day

Recently, I saw this documentary on Netflix on minimalism. I already knew most of the concept so there was nothing new. But, there was this one line that stuck in my head. Freedom of a day. When you are minimalist, you have limited needs and therefore little need for big pay check. And you can live your day howsoever you want to.

I am usually all day home these days. Delving into the books I am yet to finish and in the tasks that needed attention for a long time. These tasks were hovering in my head for a long long time. It is good to be able to do them. Sometimes, it just feels that I have more time in existence this way. To have headspace for things that are important. To fix your own meal, to talk to friends without looking at clock, to not be in hurry of rushing somewhere. But sometimes, this part of me who used to work incredibly hard, takes over. I am gonna fall behind. I will forget the work I did. I will be rusted. This break will make me slow down.

But mostly, there is silence. When other people have tonnes of task to do. I am having a quiet time. Kind of recuperating from my battles of life which I never allowed myself to attend to. I can grieve for my mum, can think about her as long as I want, without someone or something stopping me to do so.

The freedom of the day also helps me to get clear in my head, of what I want, of my choices, of my emotions. It also has given me lately a space to understand people close to me. By being free, I am less reactive, and more intuitive, or I would like to hope so.

This is not the essay on the freedom of the day as it turning out to be. Long back, when I read Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom, I remembered a day in his life in prison, when he was able to walk in the grass as a free man, although still under house arrest. Freedom to be ourselves is definitely the most yearned thing and I am enjoying it!

Not for long I think. Very very soon, I would have to rush to wrap up everything for US. In a minimalist style, to keep only the things that matter the most. And to satisfactorily close on things that don't. Till then stealing some time!


Sunday, April 2, 2017

In Love With The Endlessness of Time

It is over. A long journey. The days of struggling with oneself. The days of keeping up with everything. I finished working pretty early. I have four months before I go to Harvard. And these will be my days, may be the most important days that I want to live. These days won't be about chasing anything or pursuing anything. They will be about being. Being self. Discovering self through different mundane things, in silence and inside it.

To not move for something you got to do to keep up with everything is a luxury I never had. But this is how exactly I imagined it - the endlessness of time, the continuity of being with self without an end to it. For a long time, I have lost my element in order to do things that I must.

Love. Laughter. Silence between them.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A new mukaam on journey - Harvard Graduate School of Education

Hi folks! You must have been wondering where I have been lost for all these months. Time to update you with one of the greatest news of all times in my life. I got an admit from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Yay!

I have been working on my applications for last 6 months. Haven't had time to update the blog. But thanks for couple of lovely emails from readers, I was waiting for an opportunity to come back to the blog. And what a godsend opportunity!

I have been admitted to few other schools - University of Michigan, Vanderbilt University, University of Pennsylvania. And I am having a great time basking in the glory of this sunshine! So, still figuring out where I would want to go.

Onward to the next task of finding financial aid, scholarships and external grants. I have quit my job already and 31st March is my last working day in TalentSprint. Here is my plan for next few months -

1. Vipassana Course in April
2. Yoga Teacher Training Course in June
3. A backpacking trip to "somewhere"

Meanwhile, the wrapping up stuff will take its own sweet time. But time to do some unwinding and relaxation now. I am so looking forward to this new phase of life. It is very exciting!