Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

baby
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

Winding down after a wonderful day.. :)

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.

Amma..do you know how hard it is to find just the right stick??

Amma..do you know how hard it is to find just the right stick??

You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

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You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

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You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

-Kahlil Gibran.

My two favourites - flowers and my son..just before we dozed off!

Nothing speaks better to me about children and our purpose in their lives than these lines by Gibran.

Dear darling of mine, I promise to let you go,when the time comes..but I cannot promise that I wont cry..a little…

Homosexuality an offence, says Supreme Court!

Setting aside the Delhi High Court verdict of 2009, the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J.Mukhopadhayay said that there was no constitutional room for change in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

Section 377 of IPC holds that sexual relationship against the order of the nature is an offence.

Firstly homosexuality is not against the order of nature. It has been observed  in penguins, chimps and the like. (But so has rape. It doesn’t make rape right.) But let’s get to the reason I think that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality – ‘Mental health professionals and researchers have long recognized that being homosexual poses no inherent obstacle to leading a happy, healthy, and productive life, and that the vast majority of gay and lesbian people function well in the full array of social institutions and interpersonal relationships.’ (Read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality) .

Homosexuality does not harm, cause indignity or interfere in leading a normal social life.

No consensual adult relationship can be considered illegal. (We can argue about who can be called an adult and that is another post for another time.) . It is frightening to see that moral policing is being carried out by the highest authority. It is scary that someone will tell you whom and how you can love.

That India sends out Mangalyan to Mars and in the same breath declares homosexuality illegal is paradoxical.

I do not even begin to understand homosexuality. But I understand the feeling of utter helplessness when the right to choice is taken away. Being an atheist I understand the discrimination (however cloaked) that is accorded to the minorities or anyone who goes against the societal norms.

That the supreme court has upheld a gross miscarriage of justice, has taken away the power of choice from its people is a defeat of democracy.

Should the LGBT community now hide fearing arrests? Should they get into straight marriages/relationships to avoid the prosecution and persecution? How many lives are we willing to ruin?

If we can recognise that racism, casteism and the likes are wrong, then why the discrimination against the LGBT community?

I wonder if any of the political parties – including the AAP, the newest and youngest on the block even have an opinion on this issue. It is time, our dear Netas, to act.

Changes to  Section 377 of IPC are not just necessary, but a right of the people.

Honourable Sir, Justice G.S. Singhvi , with this decision you will definitely be remembered in history for the  judgement you passed on your last day in office, but for all the wrong, heart breaking reasons….

 

“Superwoman who?” you say. Drum-roll please- aaaaaand it is..it is…. It is me. Really it is…at-least that’s what my son believes and I would like to as well.

When I told him yesterday that I was going to attend a technical course near ‘race course’ road, he asked me if it had to do anything with racing horses! I explained to him that near that road, they do race horses. With a very solemn expression he looked at me and said (and I quote) “Amma you can do it. Win the race and get that prize”. I am so proud that my son thinks I can even do something like that!

(On a side note, I have had horrible luck with horses. I always get the mad ones! The horses and yaks in Darjeeling where we honeymooned had a tendency to try and throw me off very steep cliffs. The mule I sat on in Uttaranchal  where the pathway was all but three feet wide and then a steep fall, felt the need to bite the bum of the horse in front and get kicked and do the heee-haaw. Now imagine me racing horses :P)

He has grown up on stories about NT4 machines fighting with Windows 2008,and the Windows 2003 server, who brings about ceasefire. He can tell you what a secure channel is in his own sweet little way! (It comes from having a mom in technical support :P)

Today when I told him that I need to go early to office to troubleshoot a tricky issue, all he caught was ‘shooting’ and said “Wow amma”!

He seems to think that i have the most adventurous and interesting job in the whole wide world.

On second thoughts maybe I do..that of being his mom!

Thoroughly enjoyable, mindless masala – that about sums up the movie ‘Chennai Express’

Don’t go if you are not a fan of movies like ‘Welcome’ (I am a huge fan). Also remember to leave your reasoning powers and intellect back at home and you are in for a joy ride.

Shahrukh is getting old and for once he plays a 40 something wannabe cool dude from Mumbai. He uses the same few expressions that are there in his repertoire- they would melt my heart as a teenager but now just comes across as painful (Sorry Shahrukh, I guess I have moved on!). Deepika – I am surprised and pleasantly so at the actor she is developing into. She has an amazing comic timing and carries most of the movie on her shoulders.

Rohit Shetty couldn’t have found a better ambassador than Deepika for the south Indian jhumki or the langa daavani (lehenga) or the vibrant sarees or Bharata natyam or for that matter the humble lungi even! She rocks every look including a white saree with a kaasina sara (traditional coin necklace).

I went to the theater with mixed feelings – wondering if it was going to be a south India slamming session / Mehmood accented Hindi filling our ears and expecting us to find it funny!

We southies aren’t that hung up, that we cant take a joke or two about ourselves – there is absolutely no disservice done to south culture as reported in various reviews.

But it was really funny and endearing and the imagery beautiful – much beyond what I had expected.

The antakshari through which Shahrukh and Deepika speak to each other where Meenamma(Deepika) gets only the tune right, her put on accent and the goonda cousins of hers make for a hilarious medley.

Except for the old and beaten ‘Tamil teri-ma’ joke, no clichés, no north /south bashing but a celebration of south Indian culture and traditions.

The last part of the movie is very slightly disappointing but didn’t prevent me from enjoying the movie (remember I had left my brain back home :P). Rohit Shetty tries to deliver a message – ‘Do not underestimate the power of a common man’ which doesn’t come through effectively and also takes away from the frivolous nature of the movie. I wish he had just continued with the mindless laugh fest.

Also a fight between the puny Shahrukh and the hulky, hot Nikitin Dheer is unrealistic and very unbelievable. That King Khan uses a bucket to finish off  Thangabali (Nikitin Dheer) sort of assuaged my raising concerns about the ending. (On second thoughts why would anyone not want to marry  Mr.Thangabali is beyond me! – he is such a hunk!!)

The scene where Deepika does a  spoof of Chandramukhi is hilarious and that she had fun while doing the scene comes through.

Couldn’t have asked for a better start to a Monday – that it was an off for me, just added to the fun. I am going to wear my Jhumkis and saree a bit more proudly the next time around and postpone the Monday morning blues to the next week!

 

 

 

There is something in the air,

It makes my husband sometimes pull his hair..

but the mystery and romance calls me to its lair!

I am but a mortal, such seduction, how can I bear?!

Now that’s the sorta poetry (and the only sort anyway) that I will spout in the middle of a hectic work day.

My love affair with the mountains continue with my latest trek in the Kashmir valley and how!! I am addicted beyond any hope of recovery. The colors, the silence, the people,the simplicity of the life in mountains call to me..

We landed in Srinagar on the 14th of July and I felt let down to say the least! It was not the Srinagar of my dreams, it was a blistering hot 38 degrees, way above the 20 of my beloved Bangalore. For a moment I wondered whether this trek was going to be all that it was promised to be. Boy-oh-boy was I in for a surprise or what!

The temperatures dropped down as we neared Sonamarg. We were made to listen to some of the most tragic songs by our driver en route, but he then made up for it with his wonderful hospitality and offered us namkeen chai (which didn’t agree with my tummy but was still yummy)and pooris in his humble yet spik n span home. The round rosy-cheeked kids rolling around in the lawn playing like happy puppies made me think of my son and how he would have gone crazy with so much space right in the front yard.

We then stopped a kilometer away from our camp site in Sonamarg. The view was breathtakingly beautiful and the weather turning chilly. I ditched my flats and put on my trekking shoes and we started what was going to be the most memorable trek of a lifetime.

Camping itself was an amazing experience. Crawling into the tents and wriggling into our sleeping bags, the day caught up with us and we were blissfully asleep and woke up early next morning.

The next day was a breeze compared to the days that were to come ahead. But the beauty of the journey to Nichnai which was to be our next base camp, made the journey more bearable. After around 8 hours of trekking the three of us, myself, husband and Yashu, were ready to give up and decided to nap in the meadow. It took Altaf, our trek guide to wake us up and assure us that our camp site was just over the hillock and it was..we were treated to hot chai and pakoras as soon as we hit the camp..

The second day was less arduous but I had tummy trouble and wasn’t able to digest anything I had eaten. I had to cover the last hour of the trek on horseback and that ended up being more painful than walking, The horse I was riding, Nila was er-rm spirited and decided to jump over a stretch of rocks and I was riding the wind for a split second before I landed on her back…not pleasant at all.

The third day saw a weaker but better me. It was the toughest climb of all from 12000 feet to 13750 – over the Gadsar pass and then an equal descent back to 12000 feet. The climb was tough, and my fear of steep falls overtook me several times, but i made it, all by myself (without a horse I mean). It was with a sense of achievement and wonder and humility that I looked down at the brilliant Vishnusar and the Kishansar lakes sparkling blue in the distance, twin jewels of the valley. The descent was a killer on our toes and knees but then Gadsar lake came into view. The tranquility was beyond compare and many of us were unwilling to move from the spot.

The next day saw us trek to the beautiful Nandkol lake via Satsar lake where we camped. We climbed over boulders for almost three hours at a stretch and this was scary and exhilarating in equal parts.

The music that water makes as it flows beneath the rocks is the sweetest sound ever heard and I think it will always come back to me when I am scared, soothing me, lulling me into a sense of security!

As we neared civilization, we could see the ugliness we leave behind in the form of plastic bottles and plastic waste. I must say that it is a great initiative of Indiahikes team and we all made it a point to collect as much garbage and plastic as we possibly could and bring it down along with us. This we did at every camp site and along the way and I am proud to say that we left each campsite better than the state we found it in.

The fifth day was a rest day, where we explored the nearby Gangbal lake and one of our team members also dared to swim in the pristine, but icy cold waters! We sang danced, played kabaddi and had a wonderful time bonding with each other.

The sixth and last day was a descent to Narnag. This took us through some minor climbs and the steepest, most demanding descent ever.

That, my friends, was just the trek itinerary. How do I tell you about the wonderful hospitality at army camps, the friendly yet thorough checks that we were subjected to..the amazing chai spiked with bay leaf that they served us!

Oh I really shouldn’t forget the people- Pradeep, chacha, Bilal, Altaf- all supermen in their own right, who made sure we had a safe and wonderful trek.

Or the cooks who served us wonderful food, three course meals and rasogollas on the last day. The effort they put into making food at that altitude was amazing..

There is no way I am going to miss out telling you about one of the helper boys who had a kettle full of tang ready for us as we came down from another tough climb, that he never said anything about having to walk several kilometers back and forth to do this and that, made the gesture and the drink all the more sweeter!

How do I tell you about all the wonderful people I met and the things I learned about myself and others, about extending my boundaries, about walking in a meadow of golden flowers offset by rugged stony mountains, or the sweetest water that I drank from the streams, about hands that held me when I was about to fall or give up..oh how do I put this all in a meager blog?

It somehow changed me and made me better, challenged my self-imposed boundaries and added much to my character. As one of the army men from Pune told me, “when you climb there are just the two – the mountain and you! Allow the mountains to teach you and you will learn things that you never would have otherwise..”

When you climb , it’s not the mountain that you conquer, but your fears, limitations and boundaries! Even with so many along, the task is yours alone, the climb is yours, the ache and the tiring too..oh but the sweet sense of achievement is yours too..the lessons learnt and the stuff un-learnt, the magic of nature unfolding before your eyes, the gurgling of a stream beneath the rocks, the flight of an exotic bird and the exhilaration of lying down amidst a meadow full of glorious yellow flowers, nodding their heads in the breeze as if to say “go on” is yours too…

Till the next time the mountains call, I shall wait and prepare and dream!

Leaving you with a few snippets of the dream that I lived in for a few days..

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Has anyone not asked this unto themselves, their friends or flung it out at God or universe in general? Why does stuff that make us sad,depressed or worse happen?

Somehow the karma theory (as I understand it) doesn’t make sense to me. People say that the person who has given you so much pain will also suffer. Then there must be something that I have done to deserve this pain..but who decides how much suffering and what sort is to be meted out for every offence? Is there a rhyme or rhythm to the pain and suffering in each human life?

Human beings have an exaggerated sense of self  importance, we are after all not even mere specks in the grand scheme of things. But to give ourselves a sense of purpose, we have invented a supreme being who is interested in our life, who metes out punishment and rewards and we also believe that there is hell and heaven, thereby removing the discomfort that knowing that we are mere mortals can generate. Life as we know it will end and we are going to disintegrate into the basic particles that make up this world and then reunite with other similar particles to make something else..a stone, a drop of water or just dust that is going to be swept up and thrown out…

But the question lingers on, as humans endure sufferings, both emotional and physical. For the span of our lives, we need this question to be answered, for the feelings of sadness to be managed and…for our sufferings to be justified! yes, Justified!!

The minute we find a meaning for our sufferings, they cease to be suffering..they wear the garb of love or sacrifice.

That and a lot more is what you are going to get out of a wonderful book, (that an equally wonderful friend lent me) – ‘Man’s Search for meaning’ -Victor.E.Frankl.

It’s an extraordinarily powerful and insightful book, a must read. Victor Frankl survived the concentration camp, survived the loss of his loved ones and saw death, torture and suffering for so many years in the Nazi camps, but he survived and found a meaning for his suffering and hence a meaning for his existence.

Suffering and adverse conditions can bring out the best and worst in humans. How you react to every situation is an intrinsic freedom that no one can take away. That, is a very empowering feeling for me.

Quoting the author, just in case someone might need more convincing ;)

“A man who becomes conscious of the responsbility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any how.”

“Man is not fully conditioned and determined but rather determines himself whether he gives in to conditions or stands up to them. In other words, man is ultimately self-determining. Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment. By the same token, every human being has the freedom to change at any instant. Therefore, we can predict his future only within the large framework of a statistical survey referring to a whole group; the individual personality, however, remains essentially unpredictable.”

“When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden. “

“The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity — even under the most difficult circumstances — to add a deeper meaning to his life. It may remain brave, dignified and unselfish. Or in the bitter fight for self preservation he may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal”

“What is to give light must endure burning.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

Go get a copy and read it!

The night in Atlanta where me and a friend were scared when a huge African-American made his way towards us, just outside our hotel…or way back in my teens when a guy in a motorcycle forcefully grinded his lips on mine right outside my home or the numerous incidents while travelling on crowded buses or standing in the Majestic bus stop, at seven in the night , returning home from a tiring day spent in doing a project in KPTCL….not happy memories, not worth remembering-but I have to stop burying them, all of us have to stop!

Yesterday night as I was caught without a phone in between the three kilometres from my house to my parents and with a car that refused to move back or forward an inch, with my young son in the passenger seat and at eleven in the night, I was in a quandary!

As it usually happens in India, whenever there is a stopped vehicle, people just gather around and it was scary when an auto driver, a worker from a nearby welding shop, and a painter (not sure why I know this…must have been his hands or the stained pant..I found that my senses are unusually heightened when I am scared/stressed and things I wouldnt observe otherwise, are almost photographically imprinted in my memory!) all came and started enquiring as to what the issue was! It wasnt until a man with a small boy came around that I really relaxed, somehow, a man with a kid , could be trusted and he did help me fix the car and in a couple of minutes, we were home..

But my mind, which plays nasty tricks sometimes, showed me an image early in the morning, of what might have been, a scenario wherein I couldn’t protect myself and my baby and it was scary enough to get me out of bed at six! (and that’s saying something)

As almost everyday, my thoughts went out to the girl who was brutally raped in a moving Bus in Delhi – Jyothi Singh Pandey (That is the name I read in the news, not sure about it though.) Of the atrocities done to her (I cant get the rod out of my head and I hope that rod remains stuck in the collective conscious of the Indian population- a reminder of the brutality and the bravery and a hope that her suffering will not go in vain) and the backlash that her family must have faced and still are facing.

As if her brutal death wasnt enough, there were people with insensitivity and sensationalism on their minds who must have hurt them some more..the worst must have been the insinuation, however masked, that she deserved it! Isnt rape the only crime where the victim is blamed the most?

Another random question that popped into my head was that why is the media stressing about how the guy with her was not her boyfriend and just a friend? Well, what if he was? She still wasnt asking for it!

So, lets circle back to my situation yesterday –  what is the sensible thing to do?

Priyanka – Keep my mobile phone charged always.

Asaram Bapu and the likes – women should not go to work/ should have chanted the Sarasvati mantra, which would have dislodged the stone under my car/begged my brothers all around me to help me fix it.

Sheila Dixit – Blame the BBMP who think it perfectly alright to throw stones of every size in the middle of a road which was traversable till yesterday and not give the citizens any warning!  or better yet blame the electricity board for not installing streetlights at the turning!

ShivSena – give a knife ..ermm..with which I could protect myself and dislodge the stone and cut veggies! (best of the lot me thinks, though Asaram Bapu comes a very close second)

Dear son,

Recently one of my friends had forwarded me a link where somebody had written about how his mother never filled him with the guilt of  ‘you owe me so much’ /’I struggled to bring you up and this is how you chose to repay me?!’ and needless to say I was blown over.

This got me thinking about the equation between me and you (if there is one and the LHS and RHS need to be balanced out just like in a real equation..)!

Lets see now…I carried you for nine long months, gave birth the natural, grueling way, was your source of food for a time, have wiped your nose, washed your butt and the regular stuff that moms do. Now the other side of the equation boy-of-mine. Let’s check what  it is that you bring to the table.

-You made me a mother. This automatically made me less selfish, more loving,patient,forgiving – a better person. (the equation already seems to be getting heavier on your side).

- I have never felt lonely since the day I knew you were in my womb. It was as if I had a lamp lit inside, a delicious secret, a warmth never known before.

- I was your world for a long time and it felt amazing to be so important to another human being!

- There have been days when the only reason I have smiled is you.

- I learnt to see the world and the wonders it holds through your eyes. Whenever I am with you, I see the magic in a soap bubble soaring high, as we watch its ascent and the ‘ping’ as it bursts which brings out the giggles in you (Oh, by the way, your giggle makes me so happy for some reason.)

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- I love that you need me and only me to scratch your bony back while you go to sleep and to tickle you a bit while I do it..bliss!

Its tough sometimes to deal with your tantrums. It’s a learning for both of us…we are still new to this son and mom thingy you see ;).

- The fact that you get me flowers, the ones fallen on the road, the ones from ajji’s house, the ones that Tata gets as a felicitation  makes me the happiest. It makes me proud and happy and a mixture of all things good, that you get me flowers because you know I like them!!

I love cooking with you, especially making jamoons, as you mix the batter for me (and I know you eat the batter sticking to your fingers..).

I have a better body thanks to you…seriously..you changed a couch potato into an active mom, making me climb trees, play hide n seek, chase you around the house. I am much fitter than I ever was!

You have given me so much that I can never say that you owe me. You were the best gift I was ever given.

The best I could ever do for you, is give you the strong roots of love and the wings of imagination and freedom to take off on any flight  that you chose. I am working towards it my love.

Happy birthday darling. Today is the birthday of a mother and son, a celebration of four years of motherhood and all its joys and challenges. Have a wonderful day and a happy life ahead.

Loads of love,

Amma.

Being a mom is the best thing in the world!

Motherhood=sacrifice

Motherhood is the best and most important job in the world.

God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers…

Then why the F*** aren’t the men queuing up for this job?? (I mean not the conceiving and carrying the baby for nine months and beyond- thats well, pretty obvious..but a SAHM job and I think its because its unpaid and unappreciated! )

I agree motherhood is rewarding, wonderful and a blessing. But is it enough?

Not for me! It is a relationship, which is bound to change over time, to give some and take some, but to make it the center of my existence, my identity…is something that is not palatable to me.(You know when you feel something is just not right but don’t yet have the logical reasons to explain to others or to yourself, why you feel so strongly about it… that’s the sorta thing I am speaking of.This post is an attempt of sorts at trying to explain why I feel this way :) )

To have a complete, satisfying life I need to define myself as more than a mother.(Please note that this is not judgmental  if you are happy being just a mom..then Yay! good for you). There are very few women who are just ‘moms’..they identify themselves as home makers (Another unpaid, under-appreciated job!) and every one of them I have met, feel the need to add something else to their identity than just a relationship, be it of a wife/mother. This is the feeling I am speaking about!

If motherhood is all that it is jazzed up to be, then we would be complete with just that. Women need more than that to survive, to thrive. They need to follow their interests, pursue their dreams and LIVE. The mould that we are supposed to fit into is one of sacrifice, forgiveness,tolerance…

But we at some point need to learn to take care of ourselves, to live life the way we want and not feel guilty about it all !

Being a 24/7 mom can get to you when its a lot of snot wiping, bum washing, feeding and sleeplessness.

We all surely love our kid/s, but then lets spare some of that love for ourselves. We are important too. A happy, satisfied and successful (and don’t let others define either your satisfaction or success) mother = A happy well adjusted child!

Shouldn’t this be our new mantra? whatcha think?

1) Do not compare it to the Harry Potter series..ever!

2) Do not, in some corner of your mind, hope for an escape into a fantasy world…this book is as real as it gets.

3) Do not read it just because it is written by J.K. Rowling.

4) Do not be surprised when the author who molded your childhood and teenage years, introduced you to the fantastical world of magic and mystery, writes about drugs, prostitution,rape,etc with a generous sprinkling of swear words!

This one was a long pending review..one that has done the rounds in my head quite often and I wasn’t able to decide whether I liked the latest offering by J.K.Rowling or not.

They say ‘Do not judge a book by its cover’, but the cover of the book should give you a clue, it is plain, stark and contrasting ..just like the book itself!

The book starts with the death of Barry Fairbrother and with this event a casual vacancy opens in the parish council of the town of Pagford. Barry seems like a very well-loved character and the story unravels through the ‘ghost of Barry Fairbrother’ which exposes the deepest and darkest secrets of the citizens of Pagford who are aiming for the vacant seat.

Pagford is split into two opposing bastions-sympathizers for the people of the fields and the other group consists of the bigoted and prejudiced citizens who have a long-held loathing for the fields and its people, the drug rehabilitation center and the antisocial elements that it breeds.

J.K offers a rich tapestry of characters through this book, though the story line changing focus from one to another in every chapter can be slightly tiresome.

The one thing that comes out shining clear from the latest work of this author is that writing about children and teenagers is her forte!

She has a deep understanding of an adolescent mind like no other.

I fell in love with the character of Krystal Weedon…you will have to love her, sometimes hate and most of the times admire this gutsy gritty and gifted lass…

There were also times when I felt that J.K has used sex, prostitution, drugs and a liberal sprinkling of vulgar language, just to prove a point – that she can write adult fiction too. But this might be because, howsoever I tried, a small part of me was hoping for this one, to be the next Harry Potter book!

Do I love or hate this book..I can’t decide. Take a look for yourself…its different, tedious at times, engaging, heart wrenching with no neatly tied up endings and just not what you would expect from the author of ‘Harry Potter’!!

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