Category Archives: About Life

Anything and everything I feel the need to blog about life in general is what you will find here

Grace in the time of grief !

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It is not something I would write about on a normal day. And yet, it is something that touched me. I write this to remind myself, that even in the most unlikeliest of situations, grace is possible.

A very very dear friend of mine lost her husband exactly two weeks ago in a road accident, when he was heading back home after a bikers trip. This happened in a place a few hours away from the city. A local called up the last dialed number and traced the family, meanwhile their bikers group went back and did all they could to bring the mortal remains, with some family members help.

It was unexpected, cruel and unnerving. My friend was totally inconsolable. The children refused to believe it happened. His daughter refused to see his face. I grieved, like never before, that day. Theirs was a cross community marriage, my friend, a Tamilian married to a Bengali. He was the only son to his parents. His parents were quite old and his father was already undergoing treatment for cancer for several years. My friend was dreading to tell his parents about it. They were flying down, unaware that he had passed away. They were told he was hurt as under the circumstances that seemed a better option until they came down.

So apart from grief, there was a certain restlessness in everybodys mind as to how his parents would take it. My friend was nerve wrecked.   Finally a couple of hours before the cremation time their flight landed. One of his family members, who went to pick them up was informed to sound them off before they reached home.

So they walked in, informed during the journey from the airport, of their loss. His mother, was naturally shaken and grieving. His father, an old man went to his son, looked at him for a while and then reached out to his daughter in law with a warm hug and said, “we lost our son but we still have our daughter and grandchildren. Now you mean the world to us. We are with you and will always be”. That, and I mean that, graceful gesture turned around the terse atmosphere. He called for his grandchildren. Again their granddaughter refused to come. So he went out to meet his grandchildren, spoke to them, like a man, a dad, hugged them, assured them and came in. He then tried to understand what happened and went with the flow, cremation rituals, etc.

Had he reacted any other way, had he broken down at his age, it would have worsened the situation that already was. Surely he grieved too. But he knew it was beyond him and went on to handling this crisis in a kind way. I was deeply touched by his graceful act, in this most unlikely situation.   Somehow it reinstated in me, that sometimes a little act of selfless kindness could make a lot of difference.

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Chennai : Battered and humbled !

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Battered,Nature indeed is the greatest leveller and the greatest teacher. The flood fury has taught us just that. The lessons we learnt are simple – humility, humanity, resilience and compassion.

The so called conservative Chennai folks simply led by an extraordinary example with open doors and hearts, doing every single bit possible to hold up each other in a crisis that cannot be well explained. We survived nearly a week of no power, no network, no water, no supplies, no cash, no ATMs, no card transactions in outlets and all that was found in plentiful other than the flooded water was simply humanity on ground and virtually. In a crisis you know who your friends really are and there was pouring support physically from the neighbouring states and virtually from folks world wide.

Even those of us, who could not get on ground helped the situation by prayers, positivity, thoughts and through social media.

Am particularly inspired today as I write, not by people from the books we read about, but by my own friends, family, neighbours who have done humongous job in every single way possible. Thank you all. You are the unsung heroes who saved the day. Heart warming stories of rescue efforts from hitherto unlikely sources like fishermen, military personnel, corporation sewer men, by volunteers, who gave their all for people whom they don’t even know, shall outlive its life in the memories of those whose life was touched by them.

I trust there is a little something in everyone that makes the world go around and the Chennai floods has clearly shown us that. Nature has tempered us immensely. Though all is not well and the pain of those who lost their dear ones, property and much more, may not heal for a long time to come, I believe we will pull it off together some how, some day, some way !

A lifetime to create
A moment to destroy
All that remains
Are broken dreams and broken hearts
Yet like a phoenix we shall soar
Although right now we feel so low
And tomorrow shall be the day
If it isn’t today!

Ouch…it hurts !

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DSC_0942“Not all scars show, not all wounds heal.  Sometimes you cant see the pain someone else feels”

I read this somewhere recently and it struck a chord.  My expressions on this emotion : PAIN

I look up into a night , devoid of stars
I am overcome with an urge to reach out to the void
Sheer space sans definition of any kind
Could sometimes be a solace to an aching heart
That wants to feel no pain, no hate, no love
Just sheer plain  ‘nothing’!

That crouching agony
Those sleepless nights
A soulless living
When death seems inviting than life!

The undying scars
The lessons you never wished to be taught,
The impermanence of feelings that glares on your face
The negativity that follows you like a trail !

The insignificance of the being called you
The slow yet sure tempering of the ego in you!

You came alone
And so shall you leave
Its worth to build some grace
And find your peace !

My Dad & I

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Recently while I was checking for something on my email account, I stumbled upon a mail from dad in April 2009. It was a picasa album of his visit to Germany,his only trip abroad. I don’t know how I had passed it then, but had. The pics were so perfect, the narration impeccable…ought to be, from someone like him. But my heart tore, as he is not a part of this world any more.

They say time heals. In a way, its true. Life goes on. But what people leave behind make a ocean of a difference to those around. When you miss people it is not necessarily, the physical aspects of men and matter . Its in the smallest of things, in the beautiful memories and the inspiring moments.

Unfortunate though, to a man who meant the world to me, i dont think I did enough. I had never been that expressive kind of person with feelings (until I found some respite in blogging). Anyways, fact is, I had never felt a need to express and I would like to believe what a friend said – they know, parents always know.

The last blog he read of mine was an inspired poetry called ‘best friends’. He read it just before he left to the hospital for his first time admission for a tumour treatment and all he said was “I think you are missing your best friend but you always have the option of also choosing your parents to be one”. I just totally scoffed at the idea in my ever so usual manner of ‘Oh come on!’ (little did i realise i would lose him in a month from then).

And yet…today am inspired to write about him and am not going to resist myself from the flow… He made me feel so special and worthy. He was always ready to talk to me about things and hear anything I say (which over a period of time was practically very little). He was my reference point on anything I wanted to know. I still remember I learnt the meaning of the F letter word from him. Someone mentioned it at my school as an unutterable word and I went back to check with him. If he was surprised, he never showed. He simply gave an example of what a pair of street dogs did a couple of days back and said humans do similar things and proliferation happens, and that it was a slang.

Sometimes when you see a man living a life of a Buddha you do not want to accept it. Not because it isn’t obvious but because in practicality you think Buddhas are not made for real worlds (my poor version of real world here). Such was my take on my dad.

But am the proudest daughter today to say I grew up with a person who simply by his deeds showed how life is to be lived .   He stayed humble, curious (with a highly scientific bent of mind) and strong, facing life alike in adversity or otherwise.  He had no regrets and carried no unnecessary baggages. He had an unimaginable way of treating everyone with love no matter what. Somehow he was simply incapable of finding shortcomings in anyone. If he found value in doing something for someone he would do it – no matter who it was.  He was always abreast of the happenings around and would never sit idle.   Learning, doing & serving – in other words simply living without further thoughts – that pretty much sums him.

Here is something I wish to say to anyone reading this.   Its easy to believe life would always be the way it is. But, everything will change and there will be a time when the very things you thought were yours will be no more. Retrospective thoughts and theories are futile.   A big difference a human can make is in the way he lives, and in the way he makes his people feel….worthwhile, special or otherwise!

There are times you feel hollow

Like a life without a soul

When you lose someone

Who inspires you the most!

 

In such times though you grope for words

They feel so shallow

And justice it does not,

To express the depth

Of the way you felt!

 

But true gratitude or in memory of

Would be to immortalize

The best of the values you learnt from them

By passing it on to the rest of the world…

Then the flame of their wonderful memories

And good life, would go around

And live a befitting life, in the souls of men

Who would never let them die !

My first Vipassana experience

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I have been contemplating on writing about my first vipassana experience for a while now. However with a subject so deep, I felt I wasn’t qualified enough (still do) and feared that I may possibly not do complete justice to what it really is. So, with this humble submission and with a prelude that this is subjective and based on my limited experience I wish to share this unique experience.

Doing a Vipassana course was always a ‘good to do’ and on the back of my mind for several years. But last year I was overcome with a feeling of ‘must do now’.  So, I had applied online for a 10 day course in December last year. My simple objective was ‘only’ to explore. I was not under any kind of stress at any levels at that point and personally feel that that frame of mind worked out perfectly to explore.

 

There are various precepts that one has to undertake during the tenure of the course like no telling lies, no stealing, no physical contact, no speaking to each other, no mobile phones, etc all of which did not seem like a big deal to me. But watching the mind factor was a challenge I was dreading.

 

The whole course is to learn the technique of vipassana meditation that was practiced by Gautama the Buddha eventually leading him to enlightenment. The technique as such is fairly simple but involves a lot of effort. Shri.Goenka’s voice booming through the hall is all that one really needs to tune into. The first few days were challenging. But it was the challenge that got me through. Meditation starts from 5 am upwards and there is about 10 hours of meditation one does in a day with breaks in between. For a starter, it seemed a lot in the beginning. Also the schedules (like practically finishing your last meal for the day by 12 am….though ofcourse there are tea sessions ‘only for the first timers’ at 5 pm) were a little rattling initially.   I informed our mentor, on the first day, that I was prone to acidity related issues if I do not eat in regular intervals, but she insisted that I do not preempt anything and go with the flow. The first day was tough but from the second day, I had nothing to complain on this aspect. Seriously it was amazing, for someone like me who had been facing chronic health issues on this ever since my first pregnancy, it was revelationary.   I guess it may have had to do with the energies or the vibes around.


Once I got into the grind there was no going back. Sitting for long hours for one, was a very tough bit.   But, the sheer challenge of watching myself , got me going.   I went through various physical and emotional changes as the days progressed. The energies, the flow, everything so different.

 

The first few days start with Anapana meditation and gradually shifts to the Vipassana technique. I benefitted much from the Anapana meditation. The vipassana technique was tough for me. I can only say I have somewhat scraped through the elementary schooling process and have a whole path ahead to master it. It involves immense dedication and serious discipline. At the end of the road, it is an experience that could only leave you for the better.

 

There were moments when I experienced a very clear understanding that I was beyond my body, my thoughts….and it was possible to just watch everything go by as if you were not a part of it.   The self goes beyond.   Similarly there were a few other scattered realizations…and as I say it, though it was only during certain moments, it was something to experience!  

 

There is a lot that Shri. Goenka during his discourses talks about DHAMMA – the law of nature. To me it seemed like the indisputable truth in life.   I enjoyed the evening video discourses by Shri. Goenkaji thoroughly. The thoughts completely struck a chord with me. It was like, I just had to hear it from him. There are some phrases and words which stuck like glue – like being equanimous, the sankaaras we create for ourselves, etc, etc. But these are things that one should feel and find for himself.

 

So here I stop , and if you wish to explore or learn more about this, do look up this site :

http://www.dhamma.org/

This experience is completely about you…an opportunity to explore your own self further. It has nothing to do with religions or laid down beliefs, but only the TRUTH as you see it for yourself.

Is the sixth sense a boon or a bane?

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bull fight

Here is a question am seriously contemplating about today..…..are we, the proud human race innately cruel ?    Is the sixth sense a boon or a bane?

 

When I stepped into the Colosseum in Roma, I was awestruck…what an architectural masterpiece it must have been!  The bottom of this structure reminded me of a beehive, with closely knit cages to host the prisoners and animals alike.  As I looked further up at the amphitheatre and the seating arenas of the kings and the queens, the courtiers and the masses, I drifted into a trance.  A beautiful setting indeed.  Breathtaking in a sense.  And then, the cruelty of this whole thing sinks in.    As men and women, kings and courtiers, cheer with their near and dear, unfortunate slaves and prisoners are thrown to the mercy of the ‘exotic’ animals brought in from all over the world.     The losing battles begins, entertains and ends for sure, for the End is certain and the End is imminent and all who had gathered were there to witness the End. The thumping of every heart, whether it was the thrill, fear or sheer joy,  resonated through every bit of this structure.    And then, I felt it in my heart, the Pain.  

 

It got me thinking.  Universally, in the name of certain sports and traditions, there has always been forms of cruelty meant to entertain.  The bull fights, ram fights, cock fights and god knows what fights,  (incidentally it’s the pongal season that’s reminding me of this),  have all been designed to entertain or impress and it always comes with a cost.  

 

What could it be that could drive mankind to derive pleasure at the helplessness of someone/something else?  Could it be similar instincts at play while some derive pleasure in raping a woman or abusing a child?

 

Has Maslow missed something in his theory of hierarchy?  Is there a state of something after the basic needs are met, is there a sadistic state of mind, which is either asserted or trespassed, based, on an individual’s values?   Is the true nature wild, untamed, selfish and cruel ?  And is that why we need religions, philosophies and community values?

A man I once knew…..

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There once lived a man who led his life with striking humility and simplicity.  He was quite knowledgeable and well read .   He was a very endearing and helpful person and was always there for his family.   He spent a lot of time with his children teaching more than what the books ever would.  He was there for anybody who needed him, no matter who it was, whether it was family or friends or even the neighborhood plumber or electrician.   He would always help with whatever he could, including a lot of physical assistance.    He would every now and then display amazing acts of kindness and walk through the next second as if nothing happened.   To me he was an epitome of humility.  In all his life, I have not once heard him complain, even during the times, when the odds were so much against him.    He passed away about a year back, after a  brief illness, against what could have otherwise been an excruciating and prolonging sickness with a  third grade tumour.     
 
During his last leg, the specialist doctor in the hospital once brought another patients’ family to meet him, stating no obvious reason.  I was there at that point.  After that family left, the doctor explained he had brought them in to show how courageous a man could be and to give them hope.   The doctor appreciated this man from ‘the bottom of his heart’ and stated that in all his experience he has seldom met anyone who could carry himself with such grace.
 
Yes, that’s the man that was, who inspired me, my family and a few others,  by just being who he was.     No philosophies, no preachings, just living life the way he did, without ever a twitch or a scorn or a complaint.  He had no expectations for return favours.  
 
He was my hero when I was a child and continues to be an inspiration till date.  Unfortunately, though, am not sure if he ever got to know this as I don’t remember expressing myself , when I could have.
 
It feels great to know someone like that.  Every time I think of my dad, I just feel the loss is a lot more than personal.  This universe has lost someone who truly strived to make this place better to live in.    And yes, my eyes swell and my heart aches.