Monday, November 30, 2015

C for Car

Well, the last post was started on a happy note, but I ended up feeling lousy after writing it. So, here is a happy one. At the beginning of the year, I had promised myself that I will learn to drive, and start driving. Actually the 'learn to drive' was completed  when I was 18. I enrolled in a driving school and got my license. But, I never actually drove a car for various reasons. This time around, I am learning in my own car. The absence of a second set of controls (as is common in modified vehicles used by driving schools) means that I am able to get more confident about my own abilities. I am still quite some distance away from driving daily. But this time around, I will reach there for sure...Or at least die trying ! (:P)

I thought that once I start driving, I may find music a distraction. But, I realised that I actually enjoy the music.

I have grown more fond of the car too...I haven't bought a new car (I toyed with the idea of a gearless vehicle for some time and then dropped the idea)...Someday, I hope to drive my own Audi...Till then, it is hubby's car that I shall drive !

B for Brain

The human brain has never ceased to amaze me. I often spend a lot of time thinking about how powerful it is, and also how vulnerable. I have had health scares around my brain and I have seen people suffer memory loss - one of the worst ways to die.

I love to do work that involves thinking and coming up with new ideas. That is the primary reason I enjoy my current job !

The brain helps you in time travel - till such time science makes physical time travel a reality. One may call it day dreaming. But, living in the present is not always a feasible idea. If the present is hopeless, then one needs to escape to the past to garner confidence and imagine the future to garner the strength to push through the mundane today. The present is not always a 'present'.

I am also super proud of my brain and I always wanted to take the Mensa test. Much has been said about why it may not accurately measure brain power, but it was in my bucket list for the past 20 years. I finally managed to give it a few months back. Well, I didn't make it to the Mensa list - you need a score of 98 percentile for it. I was in the 95 percentile. Usually they allow you to take the Mensa only once in a lifetime, but since I was borderline, they have given me an offer of attempting it again next year. I am not too sure I will take up the offer - Mensa or no Mensa , I can feel my brain degenerating and I don't think I can crack it given another chance.

I was a bit sad with the result. Hubby of course teased me saying "You are officially more intelligent than 95% of population. So what if I belong to the remaining 5%..."

The world expects me to be thankful to a guy who travelled all the way to Chennai with me to 'allow' me to give the test. What about the past 20 years ? Or the many times I registered, but couldn't attempt it?

Well, some dreams are personal and are best left that way !  And that is why the brain is the most powerful organ - and as a friend says "the most dangerous". 'Cos only you will know what goes inside it!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A to Z : And we Start with Apple

I want to see if I can do this - the A to Z blogging challenge where I write 26 posts one each on topics  starting with the letters in the English alphabet. We start with A for Apple.

Apple and me go a long way back...My first memories of an apple are my mom forcing me to have them and me hating them...I am not a fruit person and the only 2 fruits I like are mangoes and bananas. Citrus fruits are a complete no-no and apple was a tasteless fruit as far as my experience was. I hated the skin of the apple the most and finally I reached a compromise with my mom that I will eat it if she skinned it for me. Today, when I look back, I feel the love behind the action, but those days - well, lets jus say I was one rebellious child. (no, not proud of it)

As I grew up and had more freedom to choose, I used to always refrain from having apples - I even used to ask for fruit salads in restaurants with 'no apples and pineapples please'...This led to a lot of ribbing from friends who used to sing 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away' ...

Along the way, I discovered apple milk shakes and developed a liking for them. No, not eagerly in love with them, but my fondness for milk helped me like it...

Then my kids were born and we started giving stewed apples for them. We usually buy imported varieties (I've forgotten the last time I even saw a country apple) and regardless of what anyone might say about pesticides, buying local etc, these did taste a world better than the apples I was exposed to in childhood. The latter had a weird texture and used to stick to the mouth. These new gen apples were crisper. And once skinned and stewed, they had amazing taste...

Today, I love to eat whatever is left over after feeding apple to my kids. Surprisingly, my younger one loves fruits while the elder one takes after me - he doesn't like apples !

Its amazing how life experiences influence our tastes and preferences - heaven can turn to hell, one small thing at a time !

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Speech That Never Was..

I had written earlier on how much I am dreading a family get together that is being planned and for which my attendance is almost mandatory - no, make that mandatory with a big M ! I was seriously toying with the idea of giving a speech in said get together - however, considering the highly disastrous potential outcomes, I decided to refrain from said act of blasphemy. The urge to write is like the urge to give birth - I mean the physical urge when you are in labour - no one can stop it...and so here it is, without any further ado...the speech, that never was !!!

"Hello everyone. I am sure everyone who has gathered here will name this occasion as a family get together. I have been spending a large amount of time wondering what is the purpose of this. Yea, I am totally Vela, you see. Or maybe you don't see. I am sure several members gathered here won't even know the names of my kids. How many know how many siblings I have? My mom's name? Dad? Not many ! Well, I don't know said attributes about anyone here too...and I am not ashamed to admit it. 'cos I believe in what Richard Bach famously said and I quote The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”

So, does a function like this help to augment respect and joy in each other's lives? I don't think so. I have been married into this family for close to ten years now. We meet ever so often in social gatherings, smile, exchange small talk and leave. We don't know what drives and motivates each other - our dreams, aspirations, our daily struggles - nothing. Forget all that, I don't even know how each of you prefer to spend a Sunday evening - nor do you know that about me. Isn't information about the other party  the first step of building a family ? I believe so. 

Starting today, let us try to know each other a little better. A lot of you crib about how emails, FB, Whatsapp and so on have taken away the warmth from face to face interactions. But these can be amazing tools. Let us use them to keep in touch and exchange information. That is step 1. Telephone and face to face communications are good too, but in a fast paced world, this can be bothersome, so please don't judge ! The means of communication is not what is important, it is what is being exchanged. Deep meaningful conversations can be had in an online channel too !

The next step is, what do you do with said information? That brings me to joy - let us truly celebrate each others victories - no, not by throwing another party all the while seething within as to why you couldn't get it. Celebrate in your heart. Thank God or whichever power you believe in that good things have happened to family. This world has enough for everyone's needs! Among this highly privileged group, there is enough and more for future generations' needs too...So, let's stop needless bitching.  

Now that we have taken care of joy, do we want to be a family of fair weather friends ? Absolutely not ! Let us try to be there in times of need - not because of social norms of 14 days of mourning or compulsory attendance in a Sanjayanam. Let us understand the grief. Let us help take care of the practical things that need to be sorted out. Let us be a family who are together in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad times, in joy and sorrow. That does not mean everyone just gathers in the house of a sick person and gossips again...Let us each figure out how we want to help. A good cook, can cook a meal.  I still remember Mr Venu who gave me idlis the day I gave birth to Siddhu. That was such a relief when both me and mom were stuck in hospital. He didn't jus offer a vague "Let me know if you need anything" - he jus brought the food and left it in my room - perceptively knowing what 'help' means. There are other ways of helping too..Someone else may help financially - believe me, money too is important. Yet again, someone else may offer their professional services or their time. Let us not judge which is a superior way to help. Let us jus each give what we are capable of giving at that moment in time. After all, we are all running our personal marathons too ! 

That is joy and sorrow taken care of. Let us come to respect. Well, respect does not mean falling on your feet every time you see an elder. Or getting up from your seat. Or nodding your head silently to every word you say. These are outward indicators - but can be easily fibbed.  They may or may not signify respect or a lack of it. True respect is earned. And it is fluid. I may respect you today, but not respect you tomorrow - it is dependent on your actions as well as my experience and what I consider worth respecting !  Respect is when you strive to emulate some aspect of a person in your own life. As they say, imitation is the one true form of flattery ! Let us each strive to earn respect by the way we conduct ourselves. And let us respect people for who they are - give them space and don't insist on a certain way of life - unless they are stepping on your toes. Live and let live ! 

Now, I can hear at least a bunch of voices which wonder why I didn't practice what I preach. Well, here is the deal. A new member into a family is like a new born - you don't harshly criticise a new born every time he/she tries to walk and falls down. In fact, you patiently wait for her first step and celebrate that ! Same with the first words - you don't say that he 'doesn't know what to say', you wait till you can understand his language.

In fact, its a bit more complex than that - unlike a new born, a new member comes with his/her share of baggage. Trying to erase that and prepare a clean slate is NOT what family does - it values that baggage and understands that those are what make the new comer who he/she is. Family is a growing organism - it evolves.  Be more open to new ideas  - what you consider mistakes maybe their way of doing it the right way !  Let them be comfortable in their own skin - and before you know it they would have evolved adopting certain characteristics of the new family and giving a part of their identity to the now bigger and better family ! I have been guilty too - maybe I gave up trying to be a part of the family way too soon !  But, let us always keep 'knowing the other person' as a higher priority item than insisting on 'this is how we tango !' Give respect and take respect ! 

Once there is joy and respect in each other's lives, we may or may not want to meet like this - but at least the ones among us who want to meet, will find it an enriching experience and not just another 'dinner' ! 

And for heaven's sake, screw those social norms. Let's not make it a huge issue if someone doesn't want to do this. Different people have different ways of being a part of family. Let's accept that...Let's spread the love...that's what moves the world forward !

Thank you.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Final Plea

Earth mother, open your arms and welcome me home

What they call home, there I don’t belong

No freedom, no air, no peace and calm

The scorching sun burns my dreams

Giving life to those around!

Amma, take me home….

Let me be at peace – let me rest in your lap

Thorny roses, hot candles, empty tears…

But I’ll happily snuggle under your brown blanket

Hidden from the hypocrisy once and for all!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The River

The sun and the snow - both make me
One without the other and I am no longer me
Clouds and rainbows and thunderous rains -
All part of me, but not me !

My gregarious self is all you know
But I am much beyond

You dig out my soul
You dam my flow
You poison me and yet you pray -
For forgiveness from your sins !

I am no Goddess - the throne hurts.
Just let me be !

When at last I reach my lover's arms
Even I am tired and I slow down.

Dumping my debris on the sides
I crawl ever so slowly into him,
As pure as I was born
In the lap of my mountain father !

Monday, November 02, 2015

Passion, Movies and Some More...

The last weekend my folks went off to our native place - to meet relatives, attend a marriage et. al. The initial plan was for my elder one to tag along, but finally they ended up going by themselves. After much persuasion (gentle and not so gentle) from my side and deliberation from his side, hubby took the day off on Saturday and we somehow scraped through the weekend. We ended up watching 3 movies - Burnt, Amar Akbar Anthony and Madhura Naranga.

Movies have been a craze for hubby and self - in a town where there is hardly anything else one can do by way of entertainment! However, after seeing Burnt, I felt a deep and sad longing - I was once as passionate as the hero of the movie and I missed being able to pursue anything passionately anymore.

I wanted to preserve that thought and make something out of it in my own life and decided that I didn't want to watch any more late nite movies. Well, my will power and resolve are short lived in front of hubby's puppy face. When he asked the next day about another movie, I said no...but, I didn't have an answer to his next question, "What do we do for entertainment then?" , so I reluctantly ended up saying yes yet again. The movie was good, but I missed the hero of Burnt !

The third day I again ended up in front of a movie and surprisingly hubby slept off and I continued with the much for will power and resolve.

I end up saying yes far often than I would prefer - I don't know how I can change that part of me !

Happens every time - I don't want to eat non-veg some days, but it ends up on the table and I am soo weak hearted that I end up gorging on it !

There is a family get together planned in the next couple of days and I am terrified...Somehow, I always end up doing the wrong things on such occasions and after suffering through the torture of small talk with a huge crowd of people, I have to then suffer through the anger of my hubby who always ends up disappointed with the way I behaved ! I don't think even the toughest of exams in school had me sweating so profusely at the very thought of its occurrence !

Ok, you dear reader might be wondering what is the point in all this rambling...Well, there is none...these are the thoughts in my mind on a Monday morning...and I hope someday I can be as passionate as I once was...There is beauty in passion - a wild raw beauty - which only the passionate can know...

After all, a quiet pond will never know what it is to be a river - relentlessly breaking your head against the rocks and rushing ahead to meet the sea !

What are you passionate about?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Something Positive...

This space has become my agony aunt of sorts! I used to tell myself that I can be who I am in this space as very few people visit the blog and I enjoyed the anonymity which was otherwise denied to me in real life. Over a period of time, however, I started pouring out all my sorrows and frustrations here - the ones which I could never share with anyone in person! But, I love this space a lot and I don't want to look back years later and feel 'Oh, what a grumpy person, I was!'

So, here is a bunch of things that I am happy about - right now.

1. Self worth is determined by 'self': For a long time, I struggled to arrive at a definition of self worth - I associated it with success - success garnered without stomping on another's feet - doing the 'right' thing. This path was super difficult. Now, I have accepted that life is ! Yes, life is. Nothing more, nothing less.  Anu had shared a link on FB about a Children's Book - Zoom - and it reiterated more powerfully than any intellectual discussion on how insignificant we all are...This coupled with a short discussion with my ophthalmologist - yea, of all people, an eye doctor, to cure the heart ! - helped me realise that I can and should live only in the present - the rest be damned. I feel liberated and happy - free from worrying about being judged !

2. My younger one: Yes, I have now tonnes of reasons to be happy about her - she still eats pathetically, but that apart - she is at that interesting age where her unique personality and intelligence shines through - before being moulded by schools and society. This virgin intelligence is a delight to watch and enjoy. I used to enjoy this period of my son as well! And to see, how each individual is sooo uniquely crafted by God - that's a true miracle.

3. My elder one: He is quickly turning out to be my best buddy ! We do have our squabbles around obedience, hard work etc. but I know he will make his woman laugh - just like his dad does!

4. My hubby: Yes, life is not easy, and he is not making it easier ! But, he is still a treasure - the way he makes me laugh, the way he gets confused on whether to prioritize his happiness or mine - the way he leads his life - I am glad I chose him !

I am at a happy place right now - I usually feel this way in April, so not sure what triggered this post !

As the wise say, with acceptance comes peace and with peace comes lasting happiness !  After all, I happily accepted the bunch of unexpected kisses that came my way today morning !