Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dressing up for Diwali

Dressing up for Diwali is lots of fun. That's one of the best 'fun' things about being a girl/woman but so often we miss the delight of dressing up because we are in a rush. Yesterday evening, I reached home and decided to wear a saree to office the next day. Now, don't get me wrong. To wear a saree to office is no big deal but for some one like me who doesn't drape a saree except once in few years when there is a wedding in the family or something on those lines, it's a bit of a tricky tangle to be in.
Well, I decided I needed to rehearse the whole thing to get the timing right because I have only 15 minutes to get this done in the morning before the rush hour strikes. So, I bravely ventured into the territory. The saree looked very innocent and helpless to me. I mean, what could possibly go wrong there? Once I started trying to drape the whole thing over my kurtha and jeans, everything went beserk. Finally, the saree had transformed itself into an octopus that I was wrestling with and then guess what, my son came to my rescue because he feared that I'd probably strangle myself with the saree draping torment. He looked genuinely worried and asked if he should call the neighbors to help me get out of the saree tangle. Finally, I managed to get out of it and I was so mad at this whole confusion that I SMSed Juhi, my best friend who immediately pacified my frayed nerves, assured me that everything will be just fine and even said she'd come over and help me wear it the next day. I mean, isn't that just awesome???
Now that's what best friends do among women, by the way. We know a crisis is a crisis particularly when it is about clothes, hair, accessories, make up and of course, trying to look good.  Men, as we know it, are from Mars. Just kidding, alright? I believe in gender equality, in case you are wondering!
Anyway after this disastrous episode, my ego was bruised and I had to find a way to assuage it. So, I laid out for bright and beautiful Jaipuri skirts that I had bought recently, expecting an occasion that never materialized anyway. Now the best thing about being the only woman in the house is that you get a dressing area to yourself, no interruptions unless you count cricket brawls on TV as one, and best of all, the dressing table is all yours... after all, it is a universal truth that guys don't peek into mirrors as often as we women do. Thank God that somethings are still the same despite the overtly fashionable Axe deo ads.
Now coming back to the bright, colorful Jaipuri skirts, they aren't breathtakingly dazzling or anything but I've not worn skirts for nearly a decade...and I love wearing skirts! Secret: All girls do! Women pretend they are grown up and that they don't want to wear skirts anymore. It's the pretence of playing grown up. So it turns out that I am pirouetting in front of the mirror in my new found finery.
Then barges in my 7 year old son and I freeze. So does he. Then his face bursts into a smile and he says, "Amma, you look like a film star. You look gorgeous. Why don't you wear this every day?"
Awwwww! Do I need to tell you how that feels to my ears? I am like "Are you sure Adi? Do I?"
And Adi's totally cool and full of praise. I am on cloud nine. Literally.
Then Adi drops the bombshell, " When you wear this, you look just like Paahi in my class. She wears skirts like these and turns around and around and looks so pretty." 
Hmph! I tell you - it's a tough world for moms. You simply have no idea.
To complete the story, then walks in Hubby who also freezes seeing my funny Avatar. He starts to smile and says, "You are looking good. Really good." Now that's a Cinderella moment for sure!!!
So, my conclusion is this: It's fun to dress up for Diwali. But don't put your life in danger like I did by nearly strangling myself with the saree draping process. All's well that ends well and makes you feel great about yourself.

Last but not the least, here's wishing you all a very Happy and Prosperous Diwali. Love & Light to all!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Why do we mock those whose beliefs are valuable to them?

In the last few days, I saw many tweets and Facebook updates/jokes & comments on women who celebrate Karva Chauth. While I can understand our need to express ourselves on every festival under the sun especially those we don't observe or celebrate, why do we mock those whose beliefs are valuable to them? 

Lack of acceptance - therein lies the crux of the problem. This has nothing to do with religion. It's about our attitude to others around us - the increasing intolerance and sarcasm. 

I still don't get it. Why do we force our beliefs or lack of it on others? 

Let's take Karva Chauth itself. I don't follow or observe it but I don't mock those who undertake it. That's their choice. As long as they do not pressurize us to follow what they do, what is the problem? Why are we so judgmental about what others do when we don't have the patience to contemplate on our own beliefs or lack of them for that matter?

It's also interesting how many youngsters in my timeline (no offence to them, I love the way they are so smart and ahead in nearly everything they do!) justify their rants against God, religion, parents, marriage, social norms that stop them from drinking/smoking/living/wearing next to nothing or whatever they please. 

Personally, I don't have a problem with women wearing shorts, bikinis or nothing for that matter. It's their choice, I have mine. 

But the same people who propagate the importance of free will & freedom tend to be more judgmental about the beliefs of others - the very act of judging is what they are supposedly against, lets not forget! So, why this hypocrisy?

I don't understand it.

BUT

If women in India are embracing Karva Chauth because they feel forced to, that is a different story altogether. Doing something because one wants to and doing something because you feel socially forced to isn't the same thing. We, as women, need to understand where our point of confidence comes from.

Here's how I see it: Don't do anything because others insist it's right for you. Do it because you want to do it, your happiness depends on it. Have guts to break the rules if you don't want to stand by something but don't mock others for breaking the rules too.

Do we celebrate festivals because of social pressure or do we celebrate festivals because we look forward to it and want to celebrate it with our loved ones?

I would love to know your thoughts/experiences/instances relating to what I have mentioned here. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mothers: Some are strong at the broken places

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” - Ernest Hemingway 
Mothers inspire us in little ways because the ripples of love that they send out into this Universe is tremendous. Mind blowing, really. Reading about a mother (whose daughter died and she found strength by writing) got me thinking seriously about how we handle the tragedies in our lives and yes, in a way, it moved me and inspired me.

You lose your iPhone and you think the world has ended. But do you realize that you may be able to buy it again? Or some one may gift it to you when you least expect it. Anything can happen to bring it back.
But what about a mother who loses her child to Death for no fault of her own? How does she find the courage to live? Every morning when she wakes up, she hopes to see the baby she thought she had borne. But there is no such a baby and the world, despite all it's fancy words of sympathy and condolences, moves on and doesn't bat another eyelid for her or shed a tear or offer a word of solace. Well wishers may even have the audacity to tell her that she can have other children as though one child can easily replace another. The mother who lost her baby remains trapped in a time warp that stills her existence and stunts her growth and confidence. Who's at fault here? How does a mother cope with the loss of her baby?
When you make issues out of nothing, think about the lives of others for once. The battles they have lost, the inner spark they relentlessly worked hard to move forward amidst a thousand sorrows and the hard work as well as the sincere efforts they have made to make the world a better place for ordinary people like you and me.
I don't know if such mothers exist in big numbers. But here's a mother who has done it and shares her story tooI admire this mother. I do know what kind of courage and conviction it takes to even try and overcome that kind of an anguish. 
Summing up, this is an affirmation of what I believe in strongly: 

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12: 6-8 NIV)

When things go terribly wrong, how do you cope with it? What's your story?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Are you a secretive writer? Is that such a bad thing?

Recently, my seven year old son told me “Amma, why do you call yourself a writer when you never write?”
I asked him ‘Why do you think that I am not a writer?’
He said, “I never see you write, Amma.”
After this dialogue with my son, I have increasingly thought about my secretiveness in the writing process. For instance, I cannot write in a public place. I cannot bring myself to bleed on paper with a hundred people or their voices hovering around me. I need to be completely alone to write, to unwind and to bleed on paper. I have wondered if this secretiveness has done me any good and whether there was something not ‘normal’ about my writing process. 
The seven year old’s question stemmed from curiosity and I began to contemplate seriously on my writing process and thought of sharing it with you, dear reader. Perhaps you can help me gain clarity on my writing process. Or perhaps you can simply listen and be with me now at this moment.
When I first began to write about my Guru, I was in Class 6. I used to hide my scribblings from my friends because they would mock me for writing about Guru and Bhakti. They found it hilarious that I am writing such ‘junk’ at my age. To them, God was real junk and they thought I must be hallucinating or ‘stoned’ to be writing about God. That one doesn’t have to be in a state of intoxication to contemplate about God seemed an alien concept to them.
My friends, if you could call them that, would try hard to divert my attention to joining their groups after class instead or hanging out with a bunch of the school’s laziest groups. Somehow I didn’t feel that it did me any good to do what suited them and I would opt out to sit in a corner and write.
The more I wrote about God and spirituality, the happier I became and the more others made fun of my writings, it made me more determined to keep writing. Yet, the habit of being secretive about what I write began to take root early.
As a result, whenever I write about spirituality, I don’t like to show it to anyone and if I eventually do, it is usually with those very few people whom I intuitively trust.
Sometimes you can trust a stranger
Nearly two decades ago, I completed a manuscript on a spiritual Master, a Guru who is worshipped worldwide. While writing the book, I got visions of the very same Guru who corrected several aspects of what I was writing and these constant divine revelations from the Guru prompted me to seek constructive criticism from some one whom I had read was a close devotee.
I took the manuscript directly to a Minister of State though he was a complete stranger to me. Yet he showed surprise that I, a college going student and not a devotee of the Guru, had written a book on the same Guru. He bowed his head to me and said, “We need more youngsters like you.” The humility with which he said this brought tears to my eyes. No one had ever said that to me before. Then he added, “But writing about spirituality means you have a greater responsibility to adhere to Truth than others. Let me try and find time to read. I won’t make any promises though.”
That dashed my hopes. Why would a busy Minister read my raw manuscript? But he did.
The very same minister studied my book thoroughly, met me about three months later and told me “On my flights and whenever I am travelling, I read your manuscript. It recharged me. I have noted down some suggestions if you would care to take a look.”
To my surprise, the Minister had detailed suggestions that gave me a clearer sense of direction with regard to the book. No one had ever studied my manuscript as closely as this Minister. I promised him, “Your suggestions have been valuable. I will incorporate them.”  
This is perhaps one of the rarest of the rare instances when I have shown my manuscript to a total stranger.
If you are passionate about something, you have every right to create your comfort zone that will help you strive for happiness and excellence.  And those whom you trust with that ‘gut feel,’ they are the ones to help you chart your growth path proactively.

Friday, October 11, 2013

How to transform a blank page into a chrysalis, a work of art

Time flies by and we barely realize how it has sped past us! Some weeks catapult into months and before we know it, a New Year is just around the corner. I mean, why isn't there a pause button to savor some of the best moments in your life so that the day can stand still at least for a fleeting second? Have you ever wanted that pause button? 

At my end, this has been quite a challenging roller-coaster year. So busy that by the end of the day I simply can't find the energy to work on my manuscript that remains half-written.
Are you a struggling writer?
The challenge of writing a book is that you feel pulled by a hundred forces around you. A growing child who needs your loving attention.  A family that needs you to be there.  A life that is lived, from hour to hour, day to day, going beyond the words one is crafting in the silence of the mind. Still when the words have to bleed onto paper, I begin to feel helpless. I am unable to find the energy to sit down and write at long stretches for my manuscript. Bit by bit, that feeling spills into anger directed to the self. Why can't I do it? I know how the manuscript should read but why am i unable to get it out on paper?

I began to think: I cannot call myself a 'writer' at most times because I am beginning to feel like a fake. In fact, this year, I wanted to stop writing altogether because the writing is simply not materializing the way I want it to.
Okay, I know you aren't visiting my blog to hear me crib about my busy life that is crammed with a thousand things except the will and energy to find the space to write.
But wait, don't leave yet! This is what I want to tell you.
Don't despair! Here’s how to overcome the struggle and stay inspired to write 
There are some of the amazing bloggers out there who have inspired me to keep writing. Their words energize and encourage me to look beyond myself and the crowded dilemmas around me. Writing isn't just about the writer. It is about the environment that inspires a writer to keep writing even when he/she feels tempted to give up and call it quits.

When I read the posts of the following bloggers, it is as though the Universe sends out an electric energy and revitalizes my commitment to the craft of writing that I am otherwise constantly struggling with. 

The oh-so-intense dissatisfaction of not having penned a few words in the manuscript lessens considerably. This is because you begin to see a bigger, happier and more meaningful vision of what your life’s priorities can be when you read their blogs.
Here are the bloggers (in alphabetical order) whose blogs inspire me:
Like Jess Scott’s quote on GooglePlus, ‘A blank page can give birth to a nice chrysalis for myself, allowing me to appreciate the art of a moment that I have written.’

And with this post, I send out heartfelt gratitude to the above-mentioned bloggers whose writings inspire me. I am always grateful to you – the reader – for taking out your precious time to read what I am writing and for making me feel valued in being a part of the blogger's world . Thank you for being here.

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