Peddling Inadequacies

” It’s a fitment issue”, she said with a dismissive wave of her hand, commenting on the inadequacy of ‘me’ to fit the bill at the corporate work place.

A few years ago, one of the premium public schools in Bangalore remarked in not so subtle words, “You dress too simply. That is not how our management likes it here.” At that time, I was more than happy to face the rejection.

Pretending to be who I am not, can happen perhaps on a day or two, may be on the annual exhibition day!  but to do that every day, was way beyond my call.

When this time my parents came, Achan advised sagely, as he always does, ‘Prepare for the NET, Lekha’, and I was livid.

My parents’ notions of  the perceived inadequacies with respect to  happiness in my life must have prompted them to get me to follow the rule book one more time, but you see, I am done with it, for good!

It’s a  small life and I rather live it contently than be consumed by inadequacies.

But have you been reminded of your inadequacies some time recently? Has there been a particular DP of your friend which made you feel a little ‘less’ in terms of appearance, attire or confidence?

Has the FB recently flooded you with images of far off vacations by your friends, foes and family and those in-betweens that kind of rankled you, reminding you, how you are just slogging away at work when others are having a whale of a time?

Did the Linkedin not remind you of the major landmarks in the careers of the who’s who of the world and how you are somehow missing out all the fun because you  haven’t paid heed to ‘Lynda’s’ special recommendations for the courses that will take you to the next level?

The entire cosmetic industry is in the business of rubbing it into you that you are some how inadequate in looks, grooming, or genes which is ‘naturally’ hindering your prospects at work and love.

The ad in which the young visitor shouts to his mother,’mummy, aunty ka toilet gandha hai’ is probably teaching you how without ‘Harpic’ your toilets are somehow inadequate!

To the uncle who is asking about your height and weight and advising you to eat better like his children do, just advice him to mind his own business.

To the lady who advises you to use ‘the sun screen’ because you are of marriageable age, telling you that a darker skin is some how an inadequacy that stands in the way of your happy family life, you might want to tell that ‘it’s way better than having to pop, vitamin D tablets.’

To those who ask you to take their suggestion before you decide to breathe , have a snack or change your style, tell them,sorry, no thanks, I don’t think you know enough. Anyways, Google is cheaper and less judgmental.

But if you don’t have a house, a car, a husband, a wife, a child, a trip abroad, a friend, a life , a faith, a cure,a job, a mentor, the experience, the intelligence, the wherewithal and the list is endless, the world is ready to pounce on you, forgetting that each person is happy in his or her own space. It is possible to be happy even if one is inadequate in any which way.

Now with the results out, most of the students will have to bear a life time of comparison of how the other boy or girl did better in far worse circumstances. But you should on your part, cut your self out from such uninvited and unwanted wisdom and focus on what you are going to do next. Remember the result will also fade into insignificance with time.

Human existence is somehow woven around fanning inadequacies and filling them out for the sake of profit. There is no way to escape this except of course, being clear in your own mind that ‘ok, this person wants some attention, or wants to sell something to me, or has a grouse, let me just listen to him and do just as I please’, if you did this perhaps you will be more intact even as you deal with the many peddlers of inadequacies.






Stoic,are you?

When Lord Krishna says, ‘ Whatever happens, happens for the good’, was he being stoic? Would Marcus Aurelius have agreed with him?,  I cannot say but the truth of the fact is that the concepts of ‘nishkama karma’  or to act without hope for benefit of the self sounds close to the greek principles of stoicism to me.

My interest in philosophy was triggered with a casual reading of The story of philosophy by Will Durrant which was available in the department library at Govt. Victoria College, Palakkad. In those days when the purpose of life seemed simply to exist, to eat, read and brood and study very occasionally I did manage to browse through quite a few books made available to us at the college libraries. My connection with books and thoughts in general came to a halt as I engaged myself with the chores of being a teacher and mother, ironic isn’t it, that as a teacher I rarely read!

Until of course, ‘time’s chariot hurrying near’ (that’s from To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell, love that poem!) set me into slowed motion and reduced by virtue of conditions around and within me the need to be in a state of permanent hurry, which in turn has given me time for contemplation in solitude.

Coming back to stoicism, and considering that we are in the month of Ramadan, it is worthy to note that one of the advises of the School of Stoicism is to subject oneself to times of penury, shortage of food and extreme weather conditions to strengthen your soul. All religions do chastise man to give up food for certain amounts of time for benefits like compassion, strength of the mind, purification of the soul etc, stoics are they?

Another principle that seems to have influenced Stephen R Covey to come up with the theory of the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern is the stoic belief that man should never let go of his control over his mind,especially over things that are beyond his control. For example, in his immensely well-delivered lecture on Stoicism, Massimo Pigliuicci opines that ‘ while it is in his control to prepare and deliver the lecture to the best of his abilities, it is beyond his control to expect that his audience will accept and practice stoicism in their lives. ‘ There fore,  it does not make sense for him to lose his mind over what is not in his hands anyways!

Understand your emotions, says the school of Stoicism. I came across this thought when I attended the ISABS BHLP here in Bangalore. The facilitator asked every other time, ‘see what is happening to you’ and perhaps this is the most important take away of the programme too, i.e. to think about ‘what is happening to you at a given moment’ because the moment you realize what is happening to you, you have actually slowed down your reaction and it allows you to understand why and how your response is going to be. While crossing the Hebbal fly over, when I am honked and chased down from the behind, I really have no option of jumping out of the fly over, all I can do is to ask myself, ‘so what is happening to you’ and it immediately clears quite a lot of clouds, and gets me to re-focus on driving!Ok, so I have seen some turbulent times but it is easy now  for me to understand that it is my emotional investment in the situation that must have caused me to blow my top.

Stoicism also encourages brotherhood and asks you to treat every other individual with respect and compassion. One tip that is given by Massimo Pigliuicci is to address every ‘one around you as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ and slowly help your ability to be compassionate to grow. I must say that addressing the auto wallah as ‘bhaiyya’ always helps me to connect better with those you deal with. ‘Vasudaiva kudumbakam’, is a familiar concept isn’t it?

Yet another advice from the School of Stoicism is to contemplate on death itself. The understanding that life itself is transitory helps us to see things in the right perspective. Again to take some help from Massimo Pigluicci, he advises us to spend some time every day, preferably in the morning in meditation, to see things in the larger picture to sort of pan out to your neighborhood, city, country, continent, space etc. and to remind yourself of the ‘absolute insignificance of you’ in the larger scheme of things. This apparently helps to shed the weight of ego.

There is definitely a lot more to stoicism and I am only beginning to understand what it is all about. I do wish though that we had more opportunities to discuss and deliberate on ways of living than the heated and often stupid debates on political affiliations and we would all be better off.

So, how stoic are you?

Glass-like Ceilings

Bright dark eyes so beautifully kohled

cried in anguish in pain

‘how could they?’

eyes sparkling fire

to talk over me?

to pretend as if I am invisible

to act as if I knew nothing

wounded pride spoke

years of knowledge

commitment to work

has been questioned

seething in anger, she cried

is it because I am a woman?

and soon quietened in contemplation

furrows deep on her forehead.

PS: of men and manners!

Of Freedom

It is for every man to roam

for every life to be free

for every living thing to dream.

If it is love that binds

break that bond

if it is hate that curbs

kill that fast

so that every man is sky-like

every where and no where all the same

to weep and laugh

as seasons come and go

and still stay aloof

stay away even when you belong

because who is whose forever, ever?

Time’s changing patterns

replace the players with the played

rearrange settings imaginary and real

mix fantasy, fun and fear

create magic potions of experiences

as easily as night sky mixes into morning azure

as agents of destruction create

new rules, new players, new played

so it goes on

play then love

play as long as the song lasts.



Whither thou?

Whither thou kindred soul?

whither thy command?

whither thy hand?

wherefore thou not speakest so?

whither thy sweet sound?

what exigencies hold thy powerful feet?

what compulsions set thou back?

what prompts thee to be so dark

in deeds riddled in puzzles?

whither thy inner light?

whither thy spirit to fight?

wherefore frownst thou?

what stops thee from mending a heart?

what reins hold thy futile imagination?

what stops thy joy from springing forth?

what stops thee from lending a hand?

what makes thine blood so cold?

Forget thee not, that which lives, also prospers!


Visiting Bounties

Whenever my parents come home to visit me, they carry a minimum of three bags loaded with goods with them. My persuasion and dissuasion to discontinue this practice does not sit well with either of them. So it continues and I am the happy recipient of many goodies like’ chakka varatiyathu’, ‘kondata mulakku’, ‘nadan pappadam’, ‘veetile thenga’, ‘nadan manga’- ripe and unripe, ‘masala biscut’, ‘karutha halwa’, ‘kariveppila- veetil undayathu, ‘drumsticks- veetilethu’, ‘vendakka-terracil undayathu’, ‘kattar vazha thayyu, ela- ennayundakkan,’ and more.

This is addition to the saree that amma and achan choice fully pick out from the Mriganayanee out let in Calicut, 2 to 3 bath towels or torthu mundu, kerala sari,bag to keep in the car, chocolates gifted to them by some one, a box of cashew nuts a friend gave them, a pair of dresses for my daughter, a stylish hand bag and more.

I know the list is long and you must think that I am like those daughters, the ones you must be seeing in those daily sops, whose endless demands for goods and goodies leave their parents hapless.

Hmm, I am guilty to some extent, as I actually used to tell my little daughter before starting off from Calicut to Indore, with an evil smile to pack off as much as she could, to just see my brother laugh his head off. It was fun to do that.

Years later, I unsuccessfully continue to implore my parents to travel light which they indeed do when they return to Calicut having placed all the treasured items in my home.

I don’t even know how my mother and father bring to fruition what I think of!

Once when I was in Calicut, I had looked at my certificates and sighed, ‘I should get these laminated, I guess, they are tearing off almost.’

While packing after almost a month’s stay at home, I was packing stuff when I was surprised and shocked to see all my certificates laminated, how did this happen, I thought when Achan said casually, ‘Oh, got it done one day!’.

After all this giving while going back, Amma says regretfully, ‘I wanted to bring the other sari  too for you to wear to college’ and I am like ‘what???!’

Now while there is nothing  I can do to return this outpouring of expression of love, all I manage to do is to plan a one-day outing with all of us. This they say with excess excitement,’was the best of experiences in a long time.’

I know all sons and daughters of Kerala will agree with me that it is a struggle to convince your parents that you really don’t need the coconuts as they are available every where, because the argument is ‘it cannot be as tasty as those from our land’. Finally I am sure, each one of us will be convinced to carry at least 5 of them back home.

My parents always make me wonder if I am as caring to my daughter. Do I pay as much attention to the smallest of details?

Maybe I will change for the better with time!

Till then, I know for sure that these two people are the most adorable, loving and kind souls that I know.



Teen Deviyan

They are three, the girls

young, powerful

shimmering in confidence

oozing a certain oomph

each an expert

each holding a promise

shaking  heads vigorously

gesturing almost wildly

talking in excited tones

eyes  full of dreams

girls so lady-like.

In the intercices of the dreams

are hidden certain fears


itching self-doubt

fear of fighting pre-conceived notions

of uninvited attention, ridicule,desertion

of failing, of winning, of then what?

and a powerful deep deep assertion of the self

rooting for self-happiness.

It’s a difficult world

but these three will see it through

their ways will be different

but friends they remain

and success meets them at every turn.

Together life is more beautiful.

Coz death my love

Coz death my love may just be around the corner

lurking in the blanket or in the tube light or  in the corridor

waiting to boldly walk on to me

or to slyly pounce from behind

or to meet me half way with a flourish and a trumpet

coz life is such a tease that as I sip my tea

I could as well sip a little of ganga jal

btw that could certainly get me to him or him to me

given how the waters are in the mighty river these days

coz dying is as much an art as living is

there must be a certain grace to it

though rarely do I think of his efforts

his beautification of me

into something surreal, celestial all encompassing

all pervading, ever lasting

preparing me gently for a journey unbound

carrying me through the pitfalls of life carefully

lifting and landing with a ‘handle with care’ label

‘the product in here is mine’,he must be thinking

coz death is what comes to us when we are ready

like a flower falls down having shown her beauty

spread her fragrance

and having seeded a new life

so we must say good bye fully ripe

so then aging is an unlayering

well! is it?

sometimes unflattering

but not unbecoming, not really

so love him well as he comes to you in hope and pride

of owning someone he loaned to life

‘It’s my kingdom and I shall thrive, says he

Pity, we don’t have much choice than to say, Thathastu!


Ps: Is eternity promised by science a boon?





कुछ लोग ऐसे भी : शीला डिमरीजी

मैं उनके बारे में क्या कहूँ ? वैसे आजकल ऐसे भी लोग होते हैं क्या? कई बार जब उनकी याद आती है तब मैं सोचने पर मज़बूर हो जाती हूँ |

शायद आप भी उनसे मिले होंगे. अगर आप इंदौर शहर में ऑटो चलाते हो , तो हो सकता है कि उन्होंने आपकी गाडी में सवारी की हो और आपसे अपने मधुर अंदाज़ में पूछा हो , “भैय्याजी क्या आप कुछ मीठा खाएंगे?” या फिर खुद अपने हाथोंसे फल काटके आपको खिलाया हो .

ऐसा कितनी बार हुआ है की वह पूँछे मुझसे , क्या श्रीलेखा आप कुछ खाओगी ? अरे ,आपकी बिंदी देखो टेडी होगयी है, चलिए बैठिये में ऑय लाइनर लगाके देती हूँ .

कई बार सोचा है मैंने , यह औरत ऐसी कैसी है! कैसे वह हर किसी के बारे में सोच पा रही हैं. हर किसी का दर्द और सुख वह कैसे अपना कर प् रही हैं. क्या है इसका राज़?

अच्छा ऐसा भी कई बार हुआ है की वह मेरे या किसी और दोस्त के पास जाके पूँछी हो, बताओ कुछ मदद करूँ. अच्छा डिक्टेट करके दूँ. चलो कोई बात नहीं, अगली बार जब भी ज़रुरत हो , मुझे बुलाना. उसमे क्या है, मुझे तो मदद करना अच्छा लगता है.

मतलब आप उनसे मदद लेने से मना भी करो वह बुरा नहीं मानती.

हाँ मैं अपनी दोस्त और पूर्वे सहकार्यकर्ता शीलाजी कि ही बात कर रही हूँ. मुझे पता है, एक बार आप उनसे मिलेंगे तो आप भी मेरी इस राय से सहमत होंगे.

शीलाजी, अपनी बड़ी बिंदी, काजल से सजी बड़ी बड़ी आँखें और अपनी मुस्कान हमेशा कायम रखियेगा. बहुत हिम्मत देती है यह.

अब आप सोचेंगे मैं कैसे हिंदी में लिखने लगी, यह तो ववव.ीसीहिंदीटीपिंग.कॉम का कमाल है.

गलतियों के लिए माफी मांगती हूं और नीलिमा व्यास जी ,आप मेरी भाषा कि चूक को अनदेखा कर देना. अपूर्वा आप भी !

Of giving hope

I was a happy host to a young man of promise today. He told me, chechi, I would like to help you in what you are trying to do in which ever way I can and I don’t need money.

We both smiled at the last sentence, but he had meant it earnestly.

I am touched by the fact that he thought it fit to come to my home and convey this to me, his promise of support, for any endeavor that tries to spread good cheer and positive vibes.

He also told me about a friend of his who had failed twice at the +2 level but had gone on to successfully set up a company, in aeronautics, at that. Today the young man is doing his studies at Indian Institute of Science, he said with pride.

‘I have been talking to him all these days and while others made fun of him, I always encouraged him, so he values me’,the young man said with a kind smile in his eyes.

How easy it is to give hope, how simple it is to stand by and just smile or say, go on, do it, you can.

What wonderful effect these simple words have on the psyche of the other person!

Life is a struggle for all. There is a lot of pain or difficulty that each person is going through at any given time, the intensity might differ or may be the context is different but it is still safe to assume that each of us have our share of challenges.

A smile here, a pat there, a visit here, a call there, a well- thought gift are all little ways in which this world, this life can be made better, so let’s just do it.

Let’s give freely what we can when we can.

Even if we can give nothing else, we can still give hope, a smile and a hug. So cheers!