Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Waking up to a Gold morning!

                                                                                 “The year's at the spring
                                                              And day's at the morn;
                                                              Morning's at seven;
                                                              The hill-side's dew-pearled;
                                                              The lark's on the wing;
                                                               The snail's on the thorn;
                                                              God's in His heaven—
                                                             All's right with the world!”

                                                                        - Robert BrowningPippa Passes

Daily in the morning, after my  basic chores in kitchen, I take a break in between to come out on to my porch to look at the beautiful vista that frames in front of my home. The nippy weather and the gold shades of the rising sun from behind the historic Gunrock  enhances the appealing beauty. I enjoy the beautiful morning fully well after I pack off my son to school at 7. It is a treat to watch the graceful beauty of the creator. Some times, i get an urge to drink my tea and listen to my favorite songs on MP3 player but such pleasures are only for weekends.

As an early riser , I identify with Browning's words. There is something magical about the early hours of mornings, when there is less of artificial sounds and the nature's symphony is at it best. Nothing seems to speed, not even time and the whole ambience sort of fills you with a  sense of calm setting your mood for the day. The beautiful rising sun and the nature's palette on the lovely sprawling canvas of sky, the starlings, the doves, the lovely cranes that fly to the nearby lake  and all that beautiful blossoms on the road side trees with their subtle blossoming fragrance energizes you and perks up your mood with positivity to take charge of the day. 

After the porch time, I move into my balcony to look at my tiny little farm throwing up life. the tiny green leaf popping out of a saunf seed, the tomato seedling that emerges out of the compost which shows that life can find a way, the methi microgreens looking like a lush green bed, the radish popping out from the brown earth like a white porcelain, the potato plant inching up and slanting in search of sunlight, so many such beautiful sights to catch up in the morning. All these lovely sights and more turn my morning into a Gold morning and last but not the least the other perk of early morning that sets the mood for the day in the spiritual me is ...

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love... then make that day count !”
Steve Maraboli

                          The sunrise as seen from my balcony with the historic Gunrock in frame. The wintry cold morning giving way to the Spring Gold morning#Colgate360GoldMornings

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Spread the vibe - all the good needs to be talked about

As an optimist, I always find a glass half full than half empty. I enjoy reading positive, motivating and inspiring articles and am not skeptical about it.  2015 like any other year was a mixed bag and I encountered many people who inspired me and I had many positive takeaways from the many stories I read. Some inspiring stories were  from the floods that hit the Coastal cities of Chennai, Cuddalore, Pondicherry and nearby towns.

All of us know how India’s fifth largest city and  one of the major contributor to India’s economy  was battered with one of the heaviest rainfall in over a century.  It  drove thousands of people from their homes cutting across religion, social status and economical status. The whole city came to a standstill when its major auto companies, IT hubs, banks, and other major institutions, shops were shut down. The city  was cut off from the rest of the country when the airport, rail and road routes were paralysed, needless to say about local transport and essential supplies being out of reach.

Disasters of such massive scale, such as this cannot be immediately handled by the Government alone, or one can’t rely just on Army, Navy or Air force to  do the rescue jobs and wait for help when emergency strikes. It is near impossible to reach every nook and corner of the city on time. Such disasters test the human spirit and apart from the physical suffering can leave you traumatized to take any action.

It is during  challenging situation as such, It was notable that the people of these flood ravaged places used their presence of mind and  rose to help one another cutting across barrierr like religion, status  etc. So many touching stories popped out from this disaster, that helped reaffirm faith in humanity.

 Many Government and public places like Temples, mosques, wedding, cinema halls ,educational institutions were thrown open for shelter. People in safer places  walked out of their homes to the streets and reached out to people who were short of essential supplies, Many  opened their homes to strangers, while some helped by supplying freshly cooked food and water to many.  Even The economically weaker sections like the fishermen drove the boats in the city to rescue stranded people, vegetable vendors used the pushcarts to rescue and then there was the security guard who offered his one month salary for relief materials, the maid who added an extra 100 to her salary to help the needy. Age and religion  were not a barrier either, there was this old couple who refused to join their children in faraway Mumbai and decided to stay back and help their city, A retired 70 year old employee who made a make shift boat with a plank and helped rescue people,  A hungry little  girl who was mature enough to share the biscuit with her little neighbor foregoing her own share, Uneducated people who made use of jugaad by turning plastic barrels as temporary boats to ferry people,  the Muslim man who wrote from Dubai to tell his pregnant wife in Chennai was rescued by their Hindu neighbor. The Hindu couple who gave their child a Muslim name after the man who helped reach them to the maternity hospital on time…and the list of  "feel good" humane stories  goes on……all  enough to pen a voluminous book.

Even the celebrities who are treated as demi gods and unapproachable normally proved that they were mere mortals. Rang de Basanti Star Siddharth and Radio jockey Balaji  got down on their knees to reach out to people. What started off on twitter at a micro level by them took off like a Mexican wave and had a massive effect when young volunteers pitched in.  Touch button generation youth who are generally chided for using the gadgets flipped around and used the same technology to help humanity. There were many stars from cine, sports and business world who made a huge positive difference by donating in cash and kind.

These are just the few of the many people who helped the rain battered towns during the floods. There were many  more heartening and touching stories  where the people of these places have set an example to show how humanity is a religion.  The neighbouring state which fought for water, united over water by sending relief supplies ,volunteers and aid. Other states too pitched in with their support. In general, it was not the spirit of Chennai or Cuddalore, but it was about  the spirit of humanity ….one human helping another. 

The floods over, the damage is done and the relief efforts have given way to rehabilitation efforts. The city is slowly limping back to normalcy despite its damages. The  damages can be taken care of like the Japanese philosophy  or art called “Kintsukuroi” where a damaged piece of art like a broken ceramic ware is repaired and sealed with gold  lacquer wherever the cracks show and the damaged piece becomes a piece of art worth cherishing and more beautiful than the original.
Pic courtesy: Google

Similarly, after showing the world Humanity is religion and intolerance is only on news channels. Chennai and nearby towns are  all set to aggrandize itself like the art of Kintsukuroi, thanks to its highly spirited  people whose magnanimity has made many "feel good".

Like a domino effect this deluge showed that a small act of kindness can trigger a series of good hearted acts. That’s all is needed to survive – a genuine initiative - a simple act of goodness and we know the world is made of beautiful people. 

#SpreadTheVibe, because all the good in the world needs to be talked about. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ramayana - The Stolen hope...a book review

Ramayana and Mahabharatha – Two grand epics of India which almost most Indians have seen, read or have heard it even as they were young as a bedtime story. I too have read , heard and seen them on screen. So what can be new about it?

Ramayana – The game of life  authored by motivational speaker Shubha vilas, published by Jaico books and released in six volumes is uniquely retold. Based on Valmikis Ramayana, Ramcharit manas and Kamba Ramayanam, it correlates the wisdom of Ramayan to present day goal oriented lifestyle. 

Stolen hope is the 3rd in the series and begins with the life of the exiled Royals in the Dandakaranya forest. (my review of first book here  and second book here) As they walk through the forest they meet demons of different dimensions,fearful sages who seek Lord Rama's help to destroy the demons. Rama vows to clear the place of all demons who pose a threat to the sages. While they spend clearing and liberating the cursed demons in the 13 years traversing the Dandakaranya , they move down South guided by Sage Agastya to live in Janasthana, the outpost of Lankan king. Here they encounter Soorapanakha, who proposes to Rama and then Lakshmana. Their spurn infuriates her and when she attacks them , they chop her nose and ears. Angry with the insult.....she instigates her brother Ravana to fight Rama and speaks about his beautiful Wife. Ravana travels to Janasthana and abducts Sita ( interestingly most of us familiar with the crossing of Lakshman Rekha which facilitates the abduction of Sita is not a part of the original Valmiki Ramayan the author says). Then on, Rama along with Lakshmana sets out in search of his stolen hope( Sita) and starts his journey towards South guided by Jatayu , a celestial bird and his devotee Shabari’s guide map.

The story ends in a cliff hanger when Rama is abruptly stopped by a beggar in the forest after leaving Shabari’s ashram, . Something suspicious here…beggar in the forest?… …One beggar abducted Sita. What will this beggar do?...more about it in Part 4 which I can’t wait to read….

What makes this book fascinating is the mini mythological tales embedded in it, the highlight being that of Super sage Agastya’s many tales like his wedding to lopamudra, the origin of River Cauvery, the stunting of Vindhya mountain,  the pilliyar kuthu ( brain yoga), the invention of Tamil language and many such little folk tales . All familiar tales right? But most of these are correlated to present day situations pertaining to relationships, leadership, decision making, anger management etc. Just as in present day world, there is a collision of vices and virtues in Ramayan times too and the book offers guidance to overcome them. For instance, the one on relationships, Where Rama purposefully loses to Sita in a swimming competition between them, here the author says..Rama is happy to have lost because he won the invaluable prize of his wife’s joy in winning. The author here correlates it to present day world thus:

"When we compete in a relationship we are actually trying to control it, when we cooperate in a relationship we are actually trying to impact it.To make relationships last, instead of trying to compete with one another we should try and complete one another". 

I thought this was more relevant and applicable in today’s world where relationships fall faster than nine pins due to ego clashes.

The book is also informative to the Ramayana literates as in the unusual information like the absence of Lakshman Rekha,  the untold story of Ravana , Laxmana’s role of an advisor and how he manages the faltering emotions of his Godly brother Rama when Sita is lost, his maturity in dealing with Sita during the situation when Rama left to hunt Maricha. Definitley lakshmana is a heart stealer here, for most of us who have known Lakshmana as a mere shadow of Rama, his character here left me awestruck.

Except for the few pages which describes the war between Ravana’s brothers and the exiled brothers, I found this book a page turner and edutaining where it’s strength is its simple writing.

This review is a part of the biggest  Book Review Program for  Indian Bloggers.  Participate now to get free books

Monday, January 4, 2016

When pictionary and carrom board came out.....

Another year went by giving me many memories, experiences and life lessons....some worth cherishing, some worth forgetting...overall an year in which I rose from strength to strength is how i will remember  this year.  While the year itself was a cocktail of experiences ...the year ended on a high note. The last fortnight was one helluva happening fortnight. For the past two years,  vacations have come to a halt as my son has no long winter vacations. So this year too grand vacations but we had  3 sets of guests at our place which more than made up for vacations.

We ensured none of us would bank on technology to entertain ourselves ( not forced either) so there was not much entertainment through technology. When the guests came, we bonded over good home cooked dishes. entertaining outings,  loads and loads of conversations, laughter, mock fights, giggles and board games like pictionary, carrom etc rolled out to the drawing room. In between, we managed a one day trip to Warangal to visit  the 1000 pillared temple and Fort Warangal. Overall, a very happening fortnight where we made excellent memories worth cherishing.

Today, the daughter went back to hostel and I am back to the routine.....

2016 holds lots of promises.....Hoping to work on many of my interests....

Adios 2015, Hola 2016!!!