Having come this far…

Having come this far

in our journeys so apart

shall we now sit down, friend

asked she, a bit hesitant, but not shy

age has mellowed and matured

a desire for companionship

a longing to sit down to talk long hours

and she who chose wisely

preferred a friendship she knew would be hers alone

amidst the clank of cutlery

screech of moving chairs

and the noise the music made

her voice was low and somehow lost

yet listening in, he,the friend, picked up the strains

of imaginary conversations of the past and future

and stood looking at her silently

then as if reading her mind

he picked up a book and nodding to her to keep close

shut out the noise, the thrill of action

in the corner made quiet by their choice

and silently turned pages, smiling to self

yet together in company, in companionship

grey hairs and willowy frames

had not dimmed the need for love and friendship

so it was, having come far

they decided to go further, together to the sunset.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The cow and me

Picture this!

a busy traffic junction on Hesaraghatta road

here in Bangalore

among the rush are men and women

of all hues, so am I in my rickety car

with me stands she

tall and proud

going back home after a search for her share of grass

at the traffic junction we all stood

the cow and us, she careful

of not disturbing the smart girl on the 2 wheeler

by her side

managing well, her horns and her tail

standing still, the red light was on

and when it turned green

we all moved ahead

and she the most dignified of all

walked ahead carefully

mindful of not bumping into the rushing cars and bikes

unperturbed by the noise or the lights or the horns

and we went home after a hard day’s work

she and I

the cow and me and the rest of us that day.

 

Guard your confidence yourself, don’t give away the keys to others

I was a vivacious little girl and was on stage a lot for events, activities and enjoyed every bit the attention I got. Then I joined a convent school where there were too many of us and suddenly I was this girl who was just ‘cute’, not smart, not studious, not the bubbly girl, active athlete I was before nor the dancer or the actor participating in a variety of school events. Was I trying to fit in and be popular and be liked? Was it because I was aware of the difficulties with which my parents sent me to the boarding school? Was it my own growing consciousness of my body as a teenager? I do not know.But some things changed so drastically that I withdrew into a shell and stayed there for a long time, until motherhood and teaching liberated me. So many golden years wasted in lack of self-esteem, confidence and so much more. This did have a very adverse impact on the way my life shaped up. I  know today where it all started and how it continued but that I leave for another day.

This extremely conscious and shy and unsure sort of person that I was did give importance to everything, everything ever said about me. There were not many good things or I thought so, and I did struggle a lot within myself.

When I look back, I wish to whisper into that little girl’s ears the secret I found many years later to putting people and what they say where they should belong and moving on. As a teacher and trainer, my constant effort is to remind the young of the power they hold within themselves, let no one dare dampen their innate enthusiasm and energy for great possibilities in life.

I was perhaps practicing it to some extent but when I read about the two circles- the circle of influence and the circle of concern in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it became so crystal clear to me and made my life so much more easier.

Well, it is simple, you see, all you have to do when you hear a not so great comment or opinion about you or what you do is think of the two circles -of influence and of concern-and decide where would this particular comment/opinion/situation go- if it comes under your circle of influence -meaning if it is something you can still work on and improve -take it positively and work on it- you will see the difference.

If on the other hand, it is something that falls under your circle of concern- like your aunt’s dislike for you- clearly there is nothing you can do about it- so leave it at that. Forget it, bury it and move on. You will see the difference.

After all you get to decide who matters in your life.  Never lose that power of discretion.

A slight against you, a smirk, a jeer, a taunt is all welcome, now that you know where to put it. Again ask yourself does this person, this event, this comment hold any relevance for 5 years from now? If it doesn’t, walk ahead, forget and move on.

What a waste of our life is it to fizzle it out in response to an idiot’s remark-the idiot could be your boss, your spouse, your neighbor, parent or any body who does not see worth in you.

Kishore Kumar sang in the film,Amar Prem, a Rajesh Khanna-Sharmila Tagore starrer-

” Kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna, chodo bekar ki batein mein, kahi beet na jaye rahna” meaning it is for the people to speak something or the other about you, it’s not worth wasting your life over it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVwEqLdYjeM

Remember when you have proven your worth to yourself, the world will sit up and notice and if it doesn’t it is they who lose, not you!

Go on then guard your confidence yourself, don’t give away the keys to others!

 

Love old and new

What happens to love old and new

that you tuck beneath the bills and the tasks

that bleed a little with a song or a sight

that stays with you

yet is not quiet yours nor hers or his

what happens to love old and new

pickled in jars of expectation

a longing, a forlorn expression

a waiting for what is not to be

seasoned with time

and the timelessness of hope

what happens to love old and new

sitting in the corners of your heart

staying young as you grow old in your head

that breaks out in a stifled sigh

or a rapturous laugh

or a tear that ran down your cheek

what happens to love old and new

bottled in prime

not yet let out

for it might break

you more than anything else

a tug, a pull, a sigh, a lost look

what happens to love old and new

that you slipped beneath the bed

into to a pillow cover

between the dusty books in the living room

below the sanity of living

does it sleep with you or live you sleepless?

 

 

 

What you do does not ask who you are

The thought that the car I drive does not care if I am a woman, or if I am over 40 or if I am a Hindu/Muslim/Christian/Sikh struck me the other day and gave me enough courage to hit the road after a rather embarrassing episode the previous day.

The post you hold whether you are heading a classroom, school, a nation or a company again does not ask you who you are, except that you do justice to the role that has been allotted to you.

Where you come from, what language you speak, what food you eat , what you wear or who you sleep with does not have anything to do with the kind of friend you make, the brother or sister you become or the citizen that you are.

The best in art, dance and craft or literature or music or films can be produced by any one irrespective of where you come from, what your parents do, whether you belong to a nuclear family or a joint family or whether your father is working or has stopped caring for you.

I hear my students apologetically taking the name of the small town or village they belong to and say in a rather mild, dull voice, “I come from a very small village in such and such a state.”

And I always ask them where did Dr.Abdul Kalam come from? Where did MS Dhoni come from?

Did that make any difference to what they became?

If it didn’t, it should not make any difference to you too, nor to the infinite possibilities that you hold.

It does not matter whether you are dark, fair as a fairy or tall or short or fat or thin as long as long as you trust yourself and your abilities and put in the effort that you need to, to reach your goal.

What you do does not ask who you are.

What you did should instead raise questions about who you are. Let that be your game plan.

Let those who do not know you ask about you on the basis of the work you have done.

And don’t we have enough examples of how we have often wanted to know about a person on the basis of his/her work? Yes, we do.

Let’s just remember them and focus on what we can do and move mountains small or big!

 

Beauties in 40’s

Come, sit down, she said, her beautifully eloquent eyes kohled neatly. She looked short and young in her dress, with her hair open. I had called up this 40 something woman,a bubbling enthusiastic friend of mine, out of the blue, while passing by her home. She insisted that I drop by and I did.

As we talked I saw my friend who is ambitious and driven enough to do her bachelors and then masters in psychology in her late 30’s expressed her fears about her children’s future. She also attends swimming classes and works regularly on her vocabulary and public speaking while continuously trying to maintain the inner equilibrium with rigorous yoga and meditation.Will my children make it? The world around is difficult, highly competitive,are my kids too laid back to make the cut?

I couldn’t answer that, instead we focused on her new venture of story telling. As an animated and expressive person, she is indeed best suited for story telling. I am sure her sessions like her own self are lively and interesting.

What is it about these 40+ women,( including myself), that is making them restless, is it a sense of time lost, is it a fear of not making it, is it the desire for self-fulfillment, is it about self-worth or the need for validation?

One common cribbing we share is ‘hello, I was busy taking care of the child/children and lo! the time just flew by and I am 40 and useless now!’

As if to make good for the lost time, we, each one of us have our own bucket list. A friend of mine, though momentarily down and feeling low due to dengue, we call each other ‘dengis!’, an imaginary sisterhood of all women affected by dengue, is aspiring to go to Harvard.

A good lady friend of mine with her children graduating is aiming to do her doctoral studies.

Another friend of mine is inspired by her dream of the grand world tour and a trip to Seychelles where she will sashay in bikini, I am told!

Some body wants to just quit work and play with the doggie at home.

Yet another friend of mine is dreaming of a companion of her kind.

The ladies in 40’s now are the sandwiched generation, you see, they saw their moms toeing the papa’s line as if it was the supreme command, sacrificing self for the sake of the family. Then they see their younger siblings living all the care to the world, having more fun while growing up and their kids who give two pennies worth to their ‘so-called wisdom.’

I guess then it is this feeling of ‘wish I had known this, I would have done it differently’, I am talking of living! sort of thing that makes us, women in 40s a restless lot.

You will often find us, the women in forties, talking yearningly about missed opportunities due to self-inflicted wisdom or the lack of it, compounded by the ‘I told you so’ of the older generation.

So it goes, the vagaries of human, read, womanly fantasies, dreams or desires. But it is so true and so beautiful. With new awareness about ageism and sexism, it does not look difficult to achieve what you want even in your 40s.

I am reminded of how in an earlier time 40+ was the beginning of ‘vanvas’ and clearly it is not so now. Thank the universe for that!

Did some one say, 40 is the new 20. Perhaps it is! What say!

Rest, not rust, dear Ulysses

In an attempt to find stillness in me

I reduced actions to bare minimum

realizing immediately how a huge fatigue

decided to settle upon me

perhaps years of action upon on action

had accumulated in me the need for inertia

the state of rest

when the feet clamped down to some imaginary rod

felt leaden and fought with a mind that actively plotted actions

when hands tied down by a huge need for silence

refused to budge when the brain screamed, act, move, act

I lay down feeling for the first time in years

the feel of my body against the bed in rest

and conniving with the mosquito who brought me a fever called dengue

I lay travelling back in time on my bed

and wondered when the time had rushed so fast as to push me this far

but to rest, dear Ulysses is not yet to rust

though I shall like you follow knowledge like a sinking star

and drink life to the lees

and strive to seek, to gain and not to yield

yet today I stay back with my own Telemachus

with my own Penelope(?) and rest, but not rust, no, not yet!

 

 

 

 

Old not grown up, not yet!

‘My father had told me not to do this’,  said the old woman in a rather harsh tone to her young daughter-in-law, ‘that I should never lift my grand children. So, sorry I can’t hold that child while you are cooking for us!’

The young girl looked at the old woman in rising disgust. Was this an excuse or is this being cooked up fresh? There is no way for her to know.

Every time the young girl sought help to hold something, to get something, to pay for something, the other woman made it categorically clear that she was not supposed to do it as her long dead father who was a former collector had clearly advised her not to do.

While the older woman had no restrictions what so ever on receiving any thing, she was very clear on what not to do for others, be it her own daughters-in-law or her sons or her grand children.

In fact, the old lady would never ever call up her children on her own. ‘It is their duty to call and inquire after me, why should I call them,spending my money?’

What added to the girl’s discomfort was that her so-called husband was also a chip of the old block. Could you drop me at the office?,she asked one day. No, I cannot, he said clear with no room for ambiguity. Could you get the medicine for the child?, no I cannot, you please go and get it.

This was how their married life started and it continued. But things it a rough patch when the gentleman decided to quit work and stay at home and when the mother and son expected the ‘bahu’ to run the house, earn the income, pay the fees, pay the rent, buy the monthly ration, deal with the irritating maid, fetch the vegetables and what not!

The sense of complete entitlement was such that the woman, the ‘bahu’ would run helter skelter trying to meet the ends, appease the lords at home and maintain the equilibrium of ‘I come from a happy family’ to the onlookers, the relatives, the parents and everybody else.

Not one used to such machinations, such manipulations, she took time to figure out what was happening to her, coz she was doing her ‘duties’ in good will, ‘all for the family’ and then it froze her heart when she realized that she was being used as the maid, the breadwinner and the comforter and the care-taker all rolled into one!

Imagine the shock that she was in!

This hurt will perhaps never heal, she told herself, but life is not just these stupid, selfish manipulators, the world is a kind place and there are greater beauties in life,so she turned to them, in her effort to remain sane and happy, so she did find joy and content outside home at work, among friends and most importantly in herself.

The journey was worth it. Some lessons are learnt the hard way.

 

 

 

My mother at 66! Dedicated to Shantedathi and Appuettan.

Before driving from my parent’s

home back to Bangalore

I saw my mother,

behind me , at the gate

shining like the morning sun

an epitome of energy and enthusiasm

her face younger by many years

waving at me

she the go-getter

she, no more crippled by the pain of not studying beyond 10th standard

she, no more bound by the worry of what will others say

she, known as the Shantedathi, who helps all

she, the daughter of an ayurvedic physician

she,who has a name for every grass!

and she, who can cook the best food on the planet.

I then look at those young grass wildly clambering for the sun on the roadside

and at her face in the front mirror

my pride and my solace, my no-excuse for lazing around

she, who lost a son and yet found a purpose in living

with her man now learning to be more proud of her

they make a happy picture

she and he, living life to the fullest in 60s and 70s

making it best for those around

ha! pride swells my chest

to call these finest examples of strength, grit and gumption as my own.

 

Pandeymonium- A breezy read

I read Pandeymonium at one sitting, well, almost!. That was because of the way it was written also may be because of my own fascination for the magical world of  Indian advertising. I was always intrigued by the child-like exuberance of Piyush Pandey and the stories of his success.

Piyush Pandey attributes the name of the book to the whatsapp group of his family which is called the same-pandeymonium and  his success to the infinite possibilities of his personal google, his immediate and extended family, his friends ,colleauges and relatives.

Pandeymonium is a testimony to the Indian ethos of large families, the many get togethers, celebrations, cricket and travel. The story of Piyush Pandey is a story of the many events and eventualities of his times, our times, the evolution of cricket to the status of more than a national game, the power of simplicity, the talent of keen observation and above all an undying interest in the commonest of the common Indian, whose life and living with his blessed sense of jugaad is nothing short of a miracle.

As one reads through the book one is made to realise again and again the value of family, of building enduring relationships, of friendships which last more than a life time, the power of simplicitic thinking, the love affair with a land of eccentricities and its even more eccentric people.

Piyush Pandey comes across as a large hearted, genuinely jovial and fun loving person, who is rooted in who he was to become what he became. He is not afraid to give compliments or give credit where it is is due and most importantly does not take himself too seriously, perhaps,that explains the child-like charm of his personality.

The book certainly lives up to his own maxim that it is simplicity that connects the best and is worth more than a read.