Thursday, April 16, 2015

Random afternoon spill

On a sunny afternoon, as I found time to catch up on things that used to be a part of me, I came across an hour long video of an ode to the late Jagjit Singh. As the music started filling the room quite like the warmth and brightness of the sun- my focus was driven towards the effect a sound can have on the mind of a human being. 

It is well documented, that sound is a way of communication -  a mode of interaction that has the same strength in its effect by being present as much as by being absent.

But, it was the sound of a single cord of a violin, a brisk beat on the tabla, a key on a piano, sound of the flute and a voice in the absence of accompaniment- that brought about a thought, a memory. All of a sudden, when I let my senses take over - an entire incident replayed itself on a hidden stage behind the open curtain of the eye. The sound, smells, visuals, feel - all of it came right back to be relived. 

The power of our sense organs and it's interplay with memory is such a magnificent example of a relationship. With individually significant roles to play, together they only add to the value of the other.  When one is evoked, uninvited yet unabashed, the other comes along, stirring emotions - some old and some fresh. In each other's association they magically create a certain sense of completion to an experience.

Among the million things in this world that I find mesmerizing, the ability of sound to kick start a series of processes within, that culminates in a smile, a sigh or a lump in the throat - will always be on that list. 

Monday, September 01, 2014

All my life, I have been told by everybody that has touched my life that there is something special about my soul. Its a quality almost everybody has described as "I can't describe it. Just know to hold on to it."

I always assumed that they were referring to it from an experience in which I must have had an unexpected deep positive impact on them. I must have enforced an emotion that the person had never experienced before probably because people they had come across in the past had never initiated an action that I did.  The whys, hows and maybes cannot be answered But, I know I must have done something different.

I was always taught to think of every human being as equal. To treat them the way I would want to be treated. I was taught that every human being wants the same thing as me - the preservation of dignity, self respect and value worth. It's somehow what everything we do in life adds up to. 

As part of my profession, as I come across people in various states of health, I have always remembered to protect these three characteristics in them. It's what I always place in my head when I have to decide on an action or reaction that I have to take/make in any situation I am put in. It's what I've over the years perceived as part of what makes me "special".

I was always told to protect that "something special" and to never lose it. I valued myself more in the fact that I had this intangible, indescribable something special. I think it was something I held on to , to stop destroying myself with the humongous self criticism I put myself through constantly. 

To me, I am not all that and for most of my life I have searched to make myself better in my own eyes. I have a huge deficit in self worth. And I don't remember the last time I was satisfied with myself. I can remember more often the times I have let myself down, fallen short of my own expectations and not been the person I dreamt of being in a situation. 

A part of me thinks that, that thought process will help me better myself all through life. I have measured myself in my eye and in the reactions of people around me to me. Some I felt happy about and some not so. Even when I felt happy, a part of me kept telling myself I could have done better and that the other person had low expectations.

Then in a new phase of life I came across a soul that every time we entangle, tells me in no uncertain words that there is nothing special about my soul. That I have a long way to go before I can come close to being the picture of me I have in my head.Sometimes even that the picture itself is flawed and not sincere. That in ways I am overrated. 

It always hurts me to feel that way. It might just be my perception of those encounters and this particular soul may not actually be meaning it to come out the way I see it. But I can confirm definitely that hurt is what I feel. 

I think it hurts me coz if there was one thing I had in reality that was part of the picture in my head it was the idea that I always protected the three things that were important to me and everybody that I knew. To me that was the "something special" about my soul. 

I've recently been made aware that may be not everybody keeps those three things in high priority. May be there are other things that are more important to people around and all this while I was just meeting a set of people that were similar in nature to me. And this once, I've met someone from a different set and has opened my eyes to be aware of a whole other set of people.

It shook things in me. It just made me feel sad. All my life, I knew I had something inside of me that gave me the strength to put others ahead of myself and let me do it with utmost sincerity.Its why I knew the profession I had chosen would work great for me. I thought I was also perceived that way. That my sincerity came across in its entirety and purity.

I know now that it's not the case. That there are people to whom none of this matters and to them its all just a charade of a generalized idea of  positive nature. 

I guess, deep within, I know that the sincerity is there in me, the strength is there. But, I sometimes wonder if knowing it is all that's important. Isn't it also important for people around you to somehow be tangible of its existence? So, then...did I truly get this part of my picture right? May be not. Self destruction by self criticism continues. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Music has always been my best friend. Although I listen to all kinds of music, Bollywood songs that have soulful lyrics, old or new have always found their way into my heart and mind's radio. They play along somewhere in the back of my head all day long through everything I do. 

Driving to work and back with music playing, what I miss the most is probably the radio stations back home. They always remind me of a time in my life that embodied freedom, a sense of accomplishment and just free spirited living. I loved that phase of my life. The stations as I listen to them today, online, across the globe, always give me the same constant picture of a day in those times.

It's always a sunny bright morning that I wake up into, hot cup of coffee, feet on the window sill, morning news paper - it's smell, crispness, the ink ; the warmth of the sun across a light shawl that covers me; the scent of the earth wet from watering the plants; wift of smoke from somewhere far; the sound of bells of the milkman's cycle, the crinkle of the anklets of all the female employees of the housing complex, dressed pretty in bright colors and smell of jasmine as they walk past. As I read less of the newspaper and watch all that goes on outside that window I realize that time is running and I need to get to college. The sound of the RJ announcing the days theme, as water hits me at a refreshing pace, the songs that play and make me want to dance and just play in the water, the beats of a song I bob along with trying to figure what to wear and get dressed for the day. A light banter between songs as I sit and have hot, fresh mom made breakfast and discuss the absolutely inconsequential topic with mom. Sitting in an a/c car, watching the tree lined roads of B'lore, while Murthy negotiates traffic and worries about getting me to college on time - still listening to the station. By now, I already have a set mood for the day without my knowledge. As I get to work for the day with no more music - all the banter, the discussion, the random people calling with their opinions, my opinion on matters, the  trying to recollect songs - the details of their lyrics, singer, film and all else keeps running through my head, until I hear the station again during lunch at the canteen with friends by my side. And the days would just go by hence. There was always radio and it always felt warm. 

As I miss the warmth of home, although home in an alien land, I play my station and sit back to let the feeling set in. And it never fails me. As I listened to the station one more day, the RJ asked if her listeners have ever felt that a dream should just stay a dream. And if so- why.

I thought about it and realised, I do. A lot of dreams, I always would want them to remain dreams. Reality would adulterate the purity of the feeling I derive from them. Reality would just end the streak of possibilities of these dreams. It would give a definitive picture and feel to the moment and take away the potential to live it in different ways. The definitive feel may not be anything close to what I desired out of the moment.  In my dream, these moments are always perfect. I can live them in a hundred ways and better each experience with tweaking every detail of the dream.

Yes, I want some dreams to always remain dreams and yes I'm glad some of my dreams have remained just what they should be - dreams.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lesson in life from a stranger

Wednesday was all about me working through flu – fever, running nose, headache, blurred vision – name it. Ms. Laurie, my patient at 12 snapped me out of my flu mode completely by letting me peek into her soul for the brief time she spent with me.
 Wheel chair bound lady whose family decided it would be less trouble for them, if she was put in a home for the elderly and the disabled. She suffers from arthritis with her left knee and ankle in constant pain in addition to a mild paralysis of the right side with slurred speech –thanks to her CVA. Ms. Laurie was wheeled into my operatory and was assisted by her care taker in moving from the wheel chair into my examination chair. The care taker then took off to get a smoke. My assistant came along took the usual set of x rays enquired her reason for visiting us and fetched me with a " just a check up".
As I entered the room and with what is now a habit and a setting in the sub conscious mind, I noted the make of the wheel chair -nothing fancy, pretty uncomfortable on the back and definitely needed someone else to move it around. My patient sat on my chair, patiently, alert, eager. Her left ankle was in a cast that suggested a recent fall that might have resulted in a hairline fracture or a sprain. It just told me, she was not ambulatory and needed assistance in activities of daily living.  
I don’t know much about her family or her life. Its probably not my business and there definitely is no need to know. Yet it made me think of all the struggles she must have gone through to bring up the very kids or siblings that have abandoned her at time of her need. As I explained to her that she would need a couple of injections and a deeply lodged piece of tooth to be removed, revealed all the painful parts of the procedure, questioned her mental readiness to go through an intense procedure of that nature – she looked up at me and said “thank you”. Her thought was that I was helping her in a situation where I don’t have to. She further explains how this treatment is more her need than mine. She told me how she would be a hero through the procedure, just coz I agreed to perform it. I was a little taken away with it. Yes, in my profession, “Thank you” is a rare word to hear. Especially at the practice I am at. But more than just that, it was the spirit of this woman that swayed me. With the amount of emotional, mental and physical pain she was going through on a daily basis for years together, with no hope of anything getting better, she retained what was unique about her –her heart brimming with humaneness; of humility, gratitude and just keeping her perspective selfless. In today’s world where everyone wears horse benders, to be able see selflessness and such faith in the power above is exemplary and inspiring. She gave me a new benchmark to live up to.
On all those frustrated days, when every patient that walks through my door ends up making me wonder why I should wake up the next morning and do this all over again, Ms Laurie taught me coz it was the right thing to do. In order to keep our sanity and peace of mind, we need to do what we believe is right, irrespective of what difference it makes. That we are enough within ourselves. What others do for us only enriches our experience but the true bliss lies in what we do for ourselves in any situation , with no thought of consequence, no thought of entitlement.
Ms. Laurie bore the discomfort of an invasive procedure that will leave her with moderate post operative pain. Her experience would entail coming in with relatively no discomfort in her mouth and returning with significant pain for the next couple of days. She did that for herself, so she would not suffer from excruciating pain at a later date. Had she thought of how she was already in so much pain and refused treatment saying she doesn't deserve to be in more pain currently and will deal with whatever comes along later -she would look back at how someone who had forethought was offering help and she refused it.
Entitlement-it’s the driving word in everybody’s life these days. It dictates reaction and action. Before the thought of what did I do different that another hasn’t; before the thought of how much have I really made a difference to somebody else’s life – it’s how dare I dint get what I deserve. Its refreshing to know that there are people around that care to acknowledge another’s contribution to their life and be oblivious to the idea of entitlement. It takes immense strength and self-belief to be that gracious of a person.
I hope I can be as gracious and until then, I hope I always recognize greatness whenever it passes by me. Greatness can sometimes be profound in just simple acts of living.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Home - Sweet Home!

The inevitable is here. I am going to let my home go, to nurture a new one.

As I handed over my notice to vacate at the rental office, tears welled up. I realized two things then. One, that I get attached easily and the other I get attached tenaciously. 

I've always remember moving - smaller house to a bigger house, one city to another, one country to another, from parents' protective embrace into the big bad world - each of those moves have had one thing in common - that tugging feeling at the heart with a big booming "but I don't want to go" cry in my head.

 I loved every house I've stayed in. They have each been significant in their contribution to my growth. The walls, the windows, the doors, the floors, new furniture, old furniture, the smells, the decoration, the neighbors, the friends, the help at home, the view of the sky, the pattern with which the moonlight would grace the ceiling over my bed, the sounds of the crickets, frogs and other creatures of the night. 

Every first morning in a new place had the same feel as well. As a child, I remember waking up to the smell of fresh paint and clean linen on make shift beds, heart racing with excitement about all the new corners I could get to play and leave a mess of toys, books and the like, the little space in the backyard where I could dance to my hearts content among washed clothes spread to dry and other friends from nature, the garden up front where alongside a beautiful rangoli would be my little hop-skotch box. I remember that chart was a sign I was healthy and happy. An absence of the chart next to that immaculate rangoli would mean I was down with the Flu. No, it wasn't because I was too tired to play or din't feel like it, I wasn't allowed to go outdoors, lest I would never recover.
There was always excitement to discover everything the new home had to offer.

This home among all, has been the closest to my heart. It was MY first. 10 yrs of sheer struggle, hard work, suppression of desires with a relentless fervor to yet never quit dreaming, stringent budgets, compromising for ease of access and proximity to more important priorities - all of it paid off - when I first moved into this house. A small space, just enough for me, but large enough for anyone that cared to feel it's warmth. I put thought into decorating it, chose my furniture, still with a stringent budget - but MY budget. This home is something I built and for myself. It had everything I wanted, in the way I wanted it. It was my sanctuary. 

Here I am, stepping into the next phase of life. To make a home - OUR home. Yes, I am excited. The joy of smelling fresh paint, discovering those miraculous little spaces that delight you coz you can put things you din't really have to bring along with you, but you couldn't part with them, so they are here anyway. To bring in warmth amongst all the beauty and organization(or a lack of it!) - a warmth BOTH of us can feel, relish and share with ones that care.  

But, the tugging at the heart and not wanting to let go of the one I have now, still remains. I know I'll always carry an image of a part of me plastered to every wall of this home. 

HOME - I love you. I'll miss you immensely. You will always have a special and spatial place in my heart. Take care of yourself and stay strong through all that nature throws at you. Give the love, warmth, protection, comfort, happiness and peace you have given me to whoever follows, how many ever follow. 

Be their sanctuary, just like you have been mine. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Morning News in Today's Times

Lately, I have come to dread the news reading routine with my morning cup of coffee. My profession to begin with is a stressful one. It's a job that tries to put hope in some hopeless situations; tries to alleviate pain with limited resources. So, my typical day at work involves a lot of critical thinking and improvisation skills to efficiently use my resources and maximize its use to give acceptable and sometimes miraculous results. It involves restoring a sense of normalcy and hope among people that feel miserable coz of their inability to help themselves and suffering all the while.

But, reading the morning news these days makes me look at the problems of my clients more dispassionately. When I have an adult screaming through a local anesthesia process, it makes me want to tell them about those kids in a war torn country that wake up to gun fire, finding their mother not moving, leaving them to fend for themselves without getting a chance to teach them the art of doing so. It makes me want to tell them, that if they think that they are going through the worst pain ever, they need to read the morning news.

The story of the innumerable rapes in my own country, the suicide bombings killing and ruining the living lives of hundreds, the fanatic rebel warriors that tear their own country apart to impose their thoughts on non- believers, the threat of attack and hence war, that a country poses by just a small act of sizing up their military against the border of their neighboring country, the revenge killings, the corruption among people in power while the ones they swore to help out are starving away- the morning news is just filled with despair.

You wake up after a good nights sleep feeling in control of your life to reading about all these victims' world and their morning. It makes you want to see that the job you are not getting, the flight you missed to reach on time for the all important meeting, the promotion you dint get, the shares lost in the market crash, your child getting the flu, the maid not coming in today with another measly excuse is actually not worth a thought. It's not worth the racing heart, the blood gushing to your brain, the anger seeping in that turns into self pity, then helplessness eventually to frustration. Yes, in your own world these are problems, these are source of negativity- but these have solutions. That job you'll find- if not today, tomorrow; that meeting might cost you a deal, but more will come by with time; that promotion will happen may be at a different company, but it will; that money you lost, you'll make it back with a little more hard work and patience; your child will get better after that 7 day period; the maid will come in tomorrow or you'll find another one.

But that victim of rape will never see sunrise the same way he/she did before his/her experience, that victim of the suicide bombing that was spared will never enter a cafe for a break from work without fear and suspicion, heck - not only a cafe but any part his waking life will never be without fear, that child that wakes up being motherless, will learn to live a life that may just end the next minute. Trying telling these people - 'always live life like there is no tomorrow'. They are probably praying that there is no tomorrow while you are saying it.

Reading all this negativity floods my positive energy enough to not have the mind set to do my job to the best of my capacity.

Asking the world to stop these atrocities seems impossible. Asking the media to not report makes it easy on the perpetrators to get by with committing these atrocities. So- that leaves the option of not reading it at all. If everyone takes that option then, why report?

So, what's the solution? Get emotionally stronger and resilient, learn to be cold and stone hearted, so you don't feel and hence stay unaffected? And if you want to change the world by stopping these instances of inhuman behavior- where do you start and how? I can't even describe these instances as animalistic behavior- I think the most selfish and fierce animal would show more compassion to its fellow living beings as long as its survival is not threatened. They by far are the best followers of the 'live and let live' policy .

Animals, would you forgive us human beings for being a part of your world and turning it into a complete hell? Please.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

To be or not to be!

When you work with a great team - a team that comprises of people that share a heart you recognize and understand, people who share the same path to the common goal with the same ideals as you do, you come across an exchange of thoughts that can inspire, be thought provoking or simply question observations!

During one of these "vacation" moments on a normal working day, we sat noticing how some people are very warm and social and others seem to come across rather cold. Is this characteristic an in built one or does experience, however insignificant affect the way people come across?

There are a bunch of people in my very own world, that when met for the first time, come across cold. They are quiet, barely smile, listen more than talk and can be the most comfortable person in a really awkward silence. It doesn't perturb them,a s to how they are perceived or how they come across as intimidating and unwelcoming. If they are lucky, the person probably was better off not being discovered, but if they are unlucky, they just shut off an extremely worthy person and a pleasant experience. Is this calm, composed, collected composure that comes across as cold a defense mechanism? Most of these people give me one reason to their method - "but I don't know the person, how can I just open up?" 

So, then, how do you have people from the opposite spectrum just open up, make conversations - meaningful, informative, stranger to acquaintance converting or just ending in the negative. Aren't people from that spectrum also in the "I-don't-Know-the-person" phase?

I came to understand that people in the first group - have a "guilty unless proven innocent" approach and the ones on the other side have a "innocent until proven guilty" approach. There is the question of trust and there is also a sense of worthiness. It is not necessary that a person who is cold feels that the person in front of them is not worthy of knowing him/her or that a warm person is trying to find an opportunity to show their worth to the other. But one's own idea of self worth does play a major part in addition to one's take on trust. 

What makes one belong to either? Am not sure. But I do know, that when you meet someone for the first time and you let yourself be the way you are, you are in  a vulnerable spot, susceptible to another accepting you or trashing you for who they perceive you to be. You may be welcoming or unwelcoming, warm or cold - neither guarantees "protection" from not being accepted. Why is acceptance so important? Why is it that when we meet someone for the first time, we want to be "liked"? Why do we gauge anyone we meet and decide if we like them or not? They are who they are, the way they are and that's who they have shaped themselves to be. Why is it hard to embrace the original format and let them see you for who you are - all in the first instance? That kind of flexibility in thought takes courage. It also takes a lot of character to sustain the flexibility despite all the bad experiences it may bring along. It's not only hard to embrace another person in their original format in entirety, it's hard to bare oneself in entirety as well.

Warm or cold - good intention is important. No matter how non-judging we all want to be, we all judge each other. It is the action you take, based on the judgement, that really counts!  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My profession. My learning.

When I first started learning the "art and science" of dentistry - I did not understand the head and tail of the subject. I knew all the individual pieces of knowledge very well - well enough to recite it backwards, mid-slumber. But, collectively, it did not make sense. I did not comprehend how I could use all that information and actually make a living or more importantly make a difference in a life. 

My education in the US - both in terms of the actual education and all the experience at work - opened my eyes to the collective knowledge of dentistry; to the profession's achievements; to it's ability to truly make a difference in a world where most people pay attention to their teeth only when they are in pain from it or more so when the front tooth mars their aesthetics. Over the years of learning, practicing and dealing with people who were equally unaware of the marvel of this profession, I've come to recognize that what I love best about being a dentist is  how it reflects chapters from the how-to-make-most-from-life guide book.

Day in and day out, in my practice, I watch as I make a difference in a child's life - as much with their teeth as with their growth in social interactions. We build relationships based on trust.We clean castles of germs and fight them with water bombs, shower brushes and tickle brushes and all this -  as equals - warriors that would lay down their life for the one common goal - destroy the castle of germs and put in a "band-aid". I take complete advantage of their clear mind and immense imagination and they take complete advantage of the kid inside me. In the end, we both walk out of the room smiling, patting each other's back for the great effort we put in as a team. I've had a lot of parents tell me, how much going to the dentist had changed from being nauseous in the car & racing heart- to smiles, fun and earning the Dr's hug and sticker. Yes, it took me a lot of effort to learn the technicalities of what I was doing, but, the true difference was learning ways to go past people's fears , my own fears and get a chance to use those skills.
In a world where trust is such a precious commodity and so fragile, here I am, finding it so easily in complete strangers and giving it so easily to strangers. Wouldn't it be a lot easier in this world if everybody trusts and keeps trust?

There is always the other set of people, who have been betrayed so much in a prior experience that they are unwilling to let you reach out to them. You pledge in blood to them that nothing will go wrong and they would not care to believe you. What do you do then? Do you also give up on them? With time, I've noticed myself, nurse them like a mother that caresses a scared child and soothes their racing heart only to find herself give the "talk". The one in which she reassuringly nudges the child to get back into that dark room he was scared to go and tell him how the fear would go away if he just turned the light on. If the monsters did come, she would be right there to fight along. When they listen and miraculously give the profession a second chance, I know it's a make it or break it situation. Sometimes I make it - I see them cry, in seeming relief. Other times, I don't. It makes me still thank them for giving themselves a second chance. I make them aware of how much more positively they had reacted to this episode and how far they had come from the past. I try to tell them that, if they gave themselves more and more chances, there would be a time, when everything they felt would be so insignificant, that it would not matter any more. 

The first time I heard myself saying this, I wondered where the thought came from. I realised - life always teaches everyone this. We just don't care to learn. When these patients give the profession a second chance despite their past experience, I know, I should do the same through all those times when I feel betrayed by life. With more and more chances, betrayal or not, the feeling would get insignificant and would not matter anymore. I could then start looking at the betrayals positively, take it in my stride and work at making it a part of an impending change.

Yes, Dentistry is my profession. It is my job. But it's biggest contribution to my career has been how it mirrors life's simple lessons in the way it lets me impact people.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Moments before the curtain rises..

It's the silence before entering a stage. Those last few seconds when you hold your breath and don't really know what goes on inside your head. When all you can feel is the hotness of your own breath, with the cold chill of the spine. When, all that matters is that you feel the spirit within you and just enjoy doing what you are destined to do. It's a feeling I have felt very often, through the numerous performances I've given. It's a feeling I have now- this moment - as I sit and wait to make the biggest entrance of my life. 

 I chose right. It's the right time in life. It feels all right and fits perfectly. It's that phase when I know the song is peppy and a crowd pleaser. The choreography has a tempo that will set the crowd's mood and yet soulful enough to give me freedom to put emotions into it. When I know, that all I have to do is reach out deep within myself, forget the world, the audience, their perception, their judgement - that moment when all I have to do is look right into the middle of the spotlight, straight ahead of me, feel the aura of the light blinding my vision and go to my place deep within - where the world is perfect. 

I know,when I reach that place, I give my best performance - the kind that deeply satisfies me, leading me into a euphoric state that a lot of artistes will relate to. It's euphoria that comes with knowing that what you felt and wanted to express was expressed in it's purity and entirity. There was no adulteration. There was no stopping, no interference, no doubts. When you were let to finish your statement unhindered. It din't matter whether the audience got it or not - the audience reflects the joy the artiste feels. So, I know when I felt that joy  my audience felt it too. 

I wonder with this big performance coming ahead, if I will be able to feel that sense of purity. That is all I hope to feel. The rest of life will come together piece by piece based on the strength of that purity. That's why, this one is so important. 

Here, I stand behind the curtains, waiting for them to raise. I can feel the heat of the spotlight and know where it is positioned. It's blinding strength. Clean slate, fresh mind, gushing blood,racing heart. All I want to do is reach that place deep with in - enjoy myself, feel purity, exhilaration and be able to spread it to the audience that awaits. 

Will I be able to?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Big Picture

As winter creeps into the city I've come to love, I sit by the window on a sunny yet cold morning, with a warm cup of coffee. There is a sense of freedom,of being able to breathe clear, fresh air and feel the cold air fill my lungs. The freedom of the mind to be aware of such a visceral feeling.

It made me wonder when was the last time I felt such freedom and how long did it last. I ran through a few posts and came across this one that I wrote sitting by a pond,reading a book on a hot yet perfect summer afternoon. It was two years ago. I wondered what kept me from this feeling all this while.

Life has been turbulent. Most times I was like a yo-yo with no control over anything I felt. By the time I could gain some understanding and control of an emotion I came to be aware of , there was something new running. There was chaos, confusion, helplessness, anger, pity which then just changed to sheer wonder. Wonder - at how fast time could run and how each moment had such control over the electric signals in my head. How I had no control over what I felt and was constantly trying to catch up and understand so I could help myself. It felt like chasing a car that I so badly needed to stop. 

Then something magical happened. Someone helped me the way I help every patient that walks in my office. When a patient comes in with insufferable pain, I see the same chaos, confusion, helplessness, anger and pity in their eyes. There is a desperation and a sense of gratitude for just my sheer existence, coz my existence as the professional gives them hope. Hope, that this loss of control over their own body and mind will end. I stand there, listen to their experience, feeling and the facts. Analyse everything I hear, put it in an algorithm of my own that developed over time with all the education at schools, colleges, books and just life. Figure out the big picture, see where the problem is coming from and derive the solution. When it works and the confusion ends, a sense of control is regained. I see a different person - one that has the confidence and the spirit to conquer.

This person helped me in exactly the same way. The key being he saw the "big picture". Made me aware of the big picture. Suddenly, what I felt was unimportant. The only thing that mattered is what I did that moment and the next. He gave me the perception that whatever I did now, needed to be in line with what I wanted my big picture to be. Suddenly, it did not matter anymore, if the car stopped or not. I stopped chasing. It felt like I stood, catching my breath for a while. When I did, I saw what was around me and realized I was on a long endless road with tall trees on either side. It was a hot yet perfect summer morning, the sun playing hide and seek with the leaves, the shadows dancing to this tune. 

The irony is, I do this for a living. I was trained all my life to bring a sense of control back into the lives of people that came to me by analysing the "big picture". Yet, here I was, unable to do the same to help myself. 

To you, my dearest - Thank You. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012


How do you trust the fact that you trust? Be it a person, a concept, a circumstance, a logic - just anything.

Most of life and it's ways are about trusting. Trusting your lungs to function well enough so you can breathe and be alive. Trusting the sense organs to inform you of everything in the surroundings, trust your head to use the information and keep your form protected. In essence all of life functions with trust.

So, how then do you trust, Trust?

New beginning, new ending. A beginning that celebrates the end of a previous beginning. All in the hope that the trust placed in life, in the person I'll share it all with is going to stay till the lungs I've trusted thus far keep my trust.

To you my dearest - Cheers to a new beginning! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Power of Resilience

Forgive and forget is what most experienced preach.When one is the victim of a wrong doing, it is hard enough to fight the situation, redeem oneself, summon the power of healing - add to that forgive and then forget. I"ve never had a hard time forgiving, it's forgetting that gets to me. 

I have noticed myself trying to reason with wrong doing, analyse the 'why' part of it, try to figure out if there was anything I could do to not bring it upon myself. Recently I've realized that most times than not, these occurrences have nothing to do with me. I thrust myself with the responsibility of avoiding the pain I feel, so hard, that I make myself believe that it was all in my hands. Yes, it is in my hands to not feel the pain of it all, but inflicting that pain is not. No matter how many such experiences I've had, I never cease to blame myself for all the pain I feel,coz after all, it is in my hands to not feel.

How 'not forgetting' helps, is by allowing the recognition of situations, to muster up strength and shield oneself this time. Duck before the hurt is hurled at you! How 'not forgetting' does not help, is obviously by the constant memory and thus the perpetual need to heal. 'Not forgetting' warrants constant healing. 
How forgetting helps, is by letting one move ahead with courage. The fear of being hurt is gone, coz the pain of it is forgotten. When it comes again, it's a new experience. This needs the power of resilience. 

I've realized over time that my power of healing is way stronger than my power of resilience.In fact I never recognized the existence of resilience. Hence, I never forget the pain, constantly summon my power of healing, remain guarded at all times and yet try to live fully; take in the adventure of life that constantly holds promise and yet threatens to challenge you with precipices and gorges. 

I've always thought very highly of the power of healing, specially mine, coz it has never let me down. But now, I see the energy I put in to keep this power propelling, the slow and guarded manner with which I try to live life 'fully'. If I shield and duck so much, how can I stand up straight and see clearly? How can I scale the precipices and see what is on the other side, if I hold myself back? How will I ever learn to soften my fall in the gorges if I constantly concentrate on all the pain I might feel with the thud? 

The power of healing helped me move on from the painful experiences. It is a power very much needed, specially in those initial stages of recovery. But, what is needed right after, is the power of resilience. For this power brings with it courage- the one quality that life demands if one truly wants the experience. With courage, comes the ability to forget. 

So, here I am, evoking the 'power of resilience'- the one that enables you to recoil, spring back; that lets you experience life fearlessly, in it's entirety. 

The power that lets you forget.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tired banter

Most days, these days, I come back worn out and say "I give up". I believe it has a lot to do with my attitude than the general happenings in life. Every day I wake up and fight- fight my attitude, fight the happenings , the non-happenings, the wait for things to turn around my way- fight! The constant fight is getting tiring. And now I have to fight being tired. 

When can I ever stop fighting is what I ask some wise people - and they say- When you breathe your last! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sprinkles of 'extra' on ordinary!

I was recently beckoned by one of my favourite cities in the world . It's a favorite not only coz it's a city with an amazing character, but also coz it's the very city that helped me develop mine.

It was excitement resembling that of coming home, of returning to familiar land after a long, tiring journey. The city remained just as I remember leaving it. The street corners looked the same, the ground had the same feel when walked on, the air felt the same. Familiar sights, smell and sound- not much had changed.Yet it din't fail to mesmerise me, just as it always has.

As I approached the airspace and dipped to take a peek at the city all lit up as if in preparation for a special night, I wondered how many souls out there were as lucky as I was that night, to see the beauty of these glimmering lights all along its silhouette.

The night progressed further and the skies hesitantly showered a few flakes, as if an angel was carrying a basket full of snow and somehow a few flakes slipped out of it while it rocked in her hands! The sight of such light snow, of so few flakes, as they lightly found their way to the earth,seen under shining bright street lamps in the wee hours - an instant that could only be an artist's imagination. 

An early morning in a popular cafe, where all come to experience the magic of coffee- it's amazing gift to swing moods and change the momentum of a day.Two elderly women, deaf and dumb, seated across a small round table, hands moving in the air in a frenzy, catching up over a cup of coffee. Their existence barely noticeable with no contribution to our din and us disappearing into oblivion in their soundless world of words,thoughts and emotions. 
Magical that revealed how being out of the ordinary can make ordinary  affairs extra ordinary.

All it takes is a moment in time to see something special and a heart beat to feel the magic it unfolds.

New York never fails to give me such moments and that one heartbeat I need to recognise them.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Another Fresh Start!

At the helm of a new year, there are many ways people perceive the season. There are many that begin celebrations of hope, of something better, shinier, in essence more to their liking. There are some that get busy trying to catch up with time running away and threatening never to come back. There are others that dwell in divinity and thank The One above for all that the year past had brought their way.
The city in general gets lit up reflecting the brightened spirits of it's people. There is music of cheer ringing, a sway in the air that promises an easier, fun yet brighter future.There are smiles all around. It's the Holidays! 

The ticking of the clock, the arrival of the new year, that moment- no matter how many times lived, is a moment that has the ability to always be special. It lets one rewind the events of the past year in quick successive flashes, relive moments that evoked the person inside , bring one face to face with all those instances of smiles, of tears, of pride, of guilt, of good decisions and consequences of bad. 

Everybody has a unique way of breathing in that moment. Most hug and express a need to share the thrill of hope while some others wait for their turn to do the same.Some hold on tight to that one special soul that enriches theirs, sharing a smile of contentment; of dreams galore.Some get busy with opening a bottle of champagne,cutting a cake,cheering and clapping.Some just sit back and enter their own world of retrospection, resolution and hope. While some others much like me, run their eyes around the room, observing people and their unique way of acknowledging the moment.

No matter how many new years have come and gone, I've always had the same reaction. A moment of silence, a private moment, a need to be with my inner self, asking it to stay calm, that things will be all right, there is more to learn, more strength to show- a minute of reassurance that the end of this year will still find me smiling, just as I am right now. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mornings at an airport

The first time I ever took a flight, I was a child and remember it as a rather painful experience. My ears hurt to indescribable measure. I had vowed to myself that no matter how much travelling I had to do, it would never be through air.

Life as they say always challenges you when you say 'never'. So, all my life, I was always put in circumstances, where, the only way to get to a place was by air! Through the many flights I have taken to many destinations, I have noticed that I love the dawn and early mornings at an airport. I love the chill in the air, the Sun rising like a shy bride, playing the dance of shadows with everything else on earth. In the foreground are a string of planes, silently affirming their existence and watching the multifarious people that frequent it's office. 

The smell of warm coffee, the sound of slurps with a look of deep satisfaction as the caffeine hits the system against the warmth of the sun penetrating through the huge panes that let you see nature unfold another magical day of your life is a moment of it's own- surreal in it's own unique way. 

Each time, I sit silently,music in my ears and let my eyes wander.People some awakening from their slumber;others walking helter skelter trying to find their way through a maze that airports can sometimes be; kids -some fresh after a little rest, running around while others nag their parents to get some breakfast that usually involves chocolate! ; a group of players representing a nation for an international sport, wearing uniform sweat pants, escorted by authorities, taking purposeful strides with pride; sisters from a south east Asian country carrying similar bags and wearing the same hair style, giggling as they walk arm in arm; random conversations that make strangers turn into acquaintances, an announcement follows and the same acquaintances revert to being strangers again. 

People of various nationalities, wearing different sometimes even strange attires, speaking an entire assortment of languages, from different facets of life, generations apart, all under one roof with the same intention- of being somewhere! 

Only if people lived with the same dynamics as I see them most early mornings at an airport - this world would be a better place. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011


My entire life I have always been dependent on others for transportation. Be it my parents, the Government of the country I resided in ,the auto and taxi drivers, friends that were kind, or my brother who I summoned every time I got stuck, lost or felt lazy- it's always been anyone but me at the steering wheel.

Most of my mornings to work, involve me always racing against time, time always of course winning over me. Some of those mornings, I end up taking a cab so as to not let the day bear consequence to my tardiness. Some cabbies are extremely cordial and respectful, while others could care less. I had one cabbie once tell me that all he aims to do all day long  is to bring a smile to his passenger's day. That definitely brought a smile to mine. 

One such cabbie I got along very well with. I could trust him and I'm not sure what made me believe that. It's as if he had a special heart. Over time, as we talked and shared not so personal observations, there was an untold bond, one that made him look out for me. The day I got back from my vacation, he said 'welcome home' and it just made me smirk.I wondered as to how much effort it would take certain people of this country to undo the damage that some other's had inflicted on my notion of home. He recognized the pain and reiterated, that this IS now home to me, no matter what the past had unfolded.

He was a person I would call on a random note and he would show up to pick me up from anywhere in the city within a span of 20 mins. It was a feat I never understood how he managed. I would give him the fair fare and he would always return the smallest currency in the bundle I handed. I would refuse with an exasperated look and he would say ' i don't need it'. I have seen so much of the city just through his rides back home. He would take me through different parts of the city and being a Chicagoan, would give me the history of different places and folklore that went with it. I enjoyed my rides no matter how tired I was, as long as it was Joe who was driving me home. 

On Christmas week, as I summoned for his services again, he as usual showed up in 20 mins. I hurried up to finish my errands and settled in the back seat. Joe, as he always did, took a minute to turn back, get a good look at me, let me catch my breath and ask me a 'how are you?'- one that he wanted a real answer to. It always brought a smile to my tired eyes. He then announced that he was not taking a fare from me that day. I as usual jumped and would not hear of an unnecessary favour. He then announced that it was his Christmas gift for me. He did not have a family,would not have a Christmas dinner, would be in fact working through that weekend. He did not have anybody to share it with and for him sharing Christmas was about giving. 

As I snuggled under my covers that night and thought about the events of the day, I realised that it had been a really long time since I was truly surprised(pleasantly of course!). Not the kind of surprise that you feel when unexpectedly a friend shows up with a birthday cake on the strike of midnight on your special day. Yes, it's a surprise, one that you hadn't expected, but it's not that kind of surprise, the kind you had not imagined in a hundred years.

Joe has a special heart, the kind that knows how to bring warmth into hearts that he cares about, the kind that could give despite meagre means. I might always be dependent when it comes to transportation. I might move counties, cities, countries..for that matter may be even planets..but to find another Joe in the midst of plunging selflessness and love for another would be an arduous task.

To Joe - May your goodness be reflected in myriad ways eternally. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bring 'home' back...

This is another of those moments in time, when I wish time would stop and let me soak in the  colours on my palatte.

A vacation in two long years. All I wanted to do was go home, be at home and feel home. It's funny how all through childhood, all you want to do is get out of home to be on your own and all through adulthood, all you try to do is come back home. 

As a gawky teenager,I remember the excitement of stepping out of the house on my own, to experience the world by myself. The freedom to make turns, stop and soak, run through the crossings, cycle faster than the car standing next to me. A rush, a hurry , to quench the thirst of knowing everything this world had to offer. A zest to rush into the next moment. 

And here I am, a decade later, wishing time would stop this moment. There is the same sense of freedom, of doing everything I want to, of going places, learning new things and a desire to have more time in the day to do a lot more. Somehow the stop in time gives me a feel of being able to appreciate the existing moment a little longer and the ability to squeeze in a few more things. There go by certain times when there is a feel to do nothing but sit back and watch the sun travel from one window pane to the other pondering about all it's shining light on. 

Back home was like being back home. Hot coffee, morning newspaper, the smell of burnt dried leaves in the distance mixed with the scent of damp earth of the neighbour's front yard, the sound of vessels clinking lightly in mom's kitchen, a light hum of a chant by grandma, her silhouette against the rising sun, the milkman hurriedly dropping the packets of milk, a dew drop sliding delicately along the edge of the leaf, a shy bud still deciding on whether to bloom or not, a withered flower wondering if it's fall to the earth would be gentle or not. The teapot on the table, mom with the Geeta, dad and me sharing the morning newspaper, a discussion over current affairs of the world that drifts to each other's current affairs and the day's plan. This has been home from the time I've known home.

I missed it. For the few years I've been out, mornings have been about rushing to go places, anxiety over finishing the day's task, so something may be achieved with in a stipulated time. It's about grabbing a cup of coffee, a measly loaf of bread, toasted hours ago, cold and rigid. It's about being able to catch the bus on time, so I don't have to walk that extra distance. In short it was about ending the day and getting back into bed. 

I had forgotten to recognise the start of a new day, the hope that comes with sun rise, the opportunity and time to do more, to achieve more, to live more, the need to plan the day and enjoy it's different hours and moods. I had forgotten about looking forward to a day.

Being home reminded me of the essence of waking up every morning, with a desire to breathe in fully and feel the cool air set the rhythm of the heart, for the day. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

To my 'Twin'!

Summers as a child was always fun. Most summers, I would have grandparents over and discover a world where little lessons of life were learnt with loads of fun. I've realized how educational my summers were only as an adult. As a child,they were pure fun and I loved them!

Every once in a while, when Mom decided to pause her life for a bit and actually take a breather and enjoy it, we would go to this Aunt, who to me is like a second mother. Aunt is Mom's twin. They are identical in many ways such as the warmth in the way they hold me; and different in many ways - Aunt pampers me till I feel spoilt and Mom doesn't! Those vacations I always looked forward to for obvious pampering and more so to fight with my cousin brother who during the early years was just my favourite Aunt's son who got more attention out of my Mom. Until, one fine day, things turned around when Mom explained the magic of relations and what a brother actually means. Being a lone child, my knowledge of relations were limited to Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa and friends.We chided and started referring to ourselves as each other's twin as our b'days were just three weeks apart.

From that day forward, this brother has been a brother, friend, comrade in battles of life, confidante, advisor ,critic - talk about multi tasking! Years have gone by, we went through childhood, awkward teenage, ambitious youth, responsible professional lives and are looking at mature adulthood. We have grown in our own ways, have faced our own and each other's trials and tribulations, formed individual opinions, battled situations in different ways, loved, lost, failed, succeeded, hurt, healed - all of it- let's just say - We've lived! 

We always knew the goings-on in each other's lives and as more colours were added on to the canvas, the colour of our bonding got layered. Words became few and far, but the thoughts were constant. I missed my brother. I missed being able to open my heart and pour out, missed listening to his ideas and learning how he was growing, take a few lessons from his courage and strength. I missed the meaningless laughter, the confessions, the all night banter - I missed the fun and most of all - I missed 'Us'. 

Recently, on a regular day to work, as I nonchalantly sat in the train watching the city pass by me, a vivid picture formed in front of my eyes. It was a picture of a very sick and dying twelve year old me, lying on a hospital bed. Aunt and Mom on the sofa near by, tired yet praying and hoping , eyes that had dried up and eventually closed to ease the burning sensation. What struck me in that picture, was the little pair of hands that held onto my arm, the hair of the head that lay tired by my face, lightly touching my cheeks. 

As I have replayed that whole episode of my life time and again, I've felt the pain of my parents as they watched their daughter slowly being taken away from them, felt the pain of my Aunt as she helplessly watched me suffer and more so felt every ounce of pain Mom felt and at a greater degree, of my Uncle who ran helter-skelter trying to ease out practical obstacles and doing the best to make sure no stone was unturned. But, I never once spared a thought to the one to whom that little pair of hands belonged. It never occurred that he was all of twelve too and yet he sat there all night by my side, holding onto me, silently praying and praying really hard, hoping that the other side of the night would bring me back to the world. 

That day on the train, it was as if a spotlight shone brightly on those pair of hands. Yes, I missed my brother, I missed the times we shared and the fun we had. I realised that words and the expression of thoughts and emotions had run so dry, I was slowly believing I was losing my brother and that belief hurt greatly. But, how can you really lose someone unless you let go of them? And how could I let go of those pair of hands that held on to me tightly when I needed them to, the most ? How can I disregard the silent yet constant support as I fought my biggest battle of life ? I also realised that, it's how he does it. That's his style. Silent yet constant support, a cheer here, a cheer there but never losing faith in my ability to fight my own battles, get through whatever life throws at me. And if I ever wake up and look beside me, I will always find him holding onto me. 

To my 'Twin' - a silent prayer, loads of love and a I'm-here-for-you!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lucky escape?

Often times in life, one comes across moments when emotions or a certain state of mind can not be defined or for that matter even felt in entirety due to the sheer confusion of wanting and trying to understand what is being felt. 

During most of the not-so-good phases of life, I would find myself taking long walks when I would feel the wind on my skin, watch the world go by and enjoy seeing a city fall asleep. My usual destinations despite mindless walking always seemed to be some sort of water body. It could be bank of a river, an ocean, a lake or simply a fountain midst a park.  This certain fountain I usually go to, has little kids dancing in all excitement under the water. I love watching their little antics as they play. Their innocence and sheer joy of being in that moment touches me deeply. The world, the good, the bad..all is forgotten. The only thing that remains is the spirit of enjoying that very moment with no hurry to live the next. 

As I once walked back home from one such walk, music in my ears, people passing by with a purposeful walk, shops closing, restaurants giving subtle hints to their customers of their closing times, lights in the city diminishing- signalling the end of the day, I found myself carelessly crossing roads. One such moment, I saw the traffic signal turn green, a bright light shone in my eyes, silence all around, feet felt light as if I was flying in the air and watching the frenzy of people and cars below me in silent mode. It took me a long time to realize what was going on. I had stopped enough cars and was hearing a lot of honks before I realized what I had just done. I was still on my two feet, looking into the eyes of the driver through the windshield, in front of whose car I had decided to lose my head. I apologized profusely and stepped back, heard a volley of abuses and decided my next course of action. As I walked the rest of the way home, I tried to recollect what exactly went through my head at that moment. The only answer that came up was "I don't know". 

I don't know what went through my head.I don't know what it was that I felt. I don't even know if I felt any thing at all, even if it was fear. I don't know. It was the first time I had come so close to an accidental suicide. 

In that instant, my standing on two feet and walking the rest of the way back home din't seem like a huge blessing. But, now that I ponder what if things had turned the other way, I wish I could count my blessings without having to learn of it in such drastic ways.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Made in India

I have been an 'NRI' for a total of 10 years approximately. That phase of life has seen me reside in a couple of countries and visit a lot more. But no matter where my feet have touched the earth, I have always found myself to be truly 'made in India'- the kind of creation that eats, sleeps and breathes Bollywood and brings life to a complete stand still when India plays a cricket match. 

My first knowledge of the game was as a four year old, when one Sunday morning, I was being dressed and fussed over,while Mom was neatly packing a picnic lunch and told me "today Daddy has a match and we are going to watch him". She finally gave up fussing over me and started getting dressed, while I scurried over to find Dad. He was in an all-white outfit with a white hat that I had seen many times on T.V., on those afternoons, when Dad would be glued to the television and I would fall asleep in 5 minutes, giving up on comprehending what was so interesting in watching those men in white, with that sleepy voice guy talking constantly. 

The infusion of cricket into my veins is attributable to events that occur at home when India plays a match, no matter how trivial the tournament is. Days when India was playing a match were no less than a day of festivities. We would know the exact dates way before the tournament or series started. It would be marked on the calender. Most important matches were always on a Sunday, so all my homework would be done by Saturday night, the menu for breakfast and lunch on Sunday would be decided and whatever preparations needed to be made, would have been done. Sunday morning, Dad would get up early, water the garden, read his morning newspaper, take his shower and settle in his spot on the sofa with a whole lot of reading material spread around him. Mom would wake up, enjoy her tea, take her shower and get to the kitchen to start the whole breakfast routine. She would then come in and suggest a brunch, so she could enjoy watching the match as well. Puri and aloo tomato or Masala dosa would usually be the choice. The TV would be turned on much before the match was to start. Dad would listen to the weather commentary,the condition of the pitch,the grass on the outfield, the discussion of the team, the strengths and weaknesses of each player on both sides, all of it. I would come sleepy eyed and land on the sofa next to Dad, get one of Mom's high pitched instructions to drink my milk, ignore it, until the point when instruction would be followed by a long speech that entailed how I would have to keep getting up during the match to drink milk or eat breakfast and all that. Once the the coin was flipped for the toss, everything stopped at home. Mom made sure, all her chores were done, everyone was fed with standing instructions that no one was to disturb her. She would then sit with an embroidery she was working on, with her eyes glued to the television. 

Our matches are always nail biting, cause we never like to win comfortably. We are a generous and humble nation even when we play. We love to give others a chance, make them feel worthy. We are known to bring the best out of our opponents while we touch new lows. But, every now and then, we do fight with every ounce of blood we have in us and surprise ourselves. In the process , we create records and instill fear in other teams for being unpredictable and thus strong. Although at times,I wonder why we never predictably win or for that matter ever win with ease, I think I enjoy the tension. Apart from unifying a culturally diverse India across all generations, it brings out a very passionate side of my Mom. 

Now, Mom has never played any sport in her life except for may be hopscotch when she was little. Athleticism and her are miles apart, but when it comes to cricket, she even brings Dad's passion to shame. Her undying love for the team (every member, but a little more fondness for Dada and Sachin) and indefatigable optimism even in the bright lights of defeat are incomparable. Her assessments of why Sachin got out right after his century or why Agarkar's fast bowling is not effective can involve any reason in the world. It could vary from lack of stamina due to over exposure in the game to how Indian food is predominantly vegetarian and therefore does not help players build their stamina, that players should be given a lot of milk and eggs, to possibility of betting, to bad luck, to God taking some momentary rest and not watching over Team India...anything but the fact that Sachin was careless with his shot or that the opponent batsmen had figured a way around Agarkar's fast bowling and he needs to bring variations into his technique. 

The best comes when it is one of those nail biting finishes where the match might go in favor of any team. Dad, gives up, blames the bowlers' inability, batsmens' carelessness and the lack of commitment as a team. He starts his post mortem analysis on why we lost even before we actually lose. Mom on the other hand jolts up, sits straight, puts down her embroidery, all eyes on the screen, mumbles silent prayers as the bowler does his run up, depending on whether India is batting or bowling and whether it is a weak batsman or a bowler who has had a bad day today, the prayers carry a different request of means to the same end "let us win!". If it's one of those days when team India has decided to disappoint it's fans, Mom would still defend them and say how once in a while, every great team is allowed to lose. Dad would then mutter how we have had a string of losses in the season, to which Mom would come up with one of those maternal instinct things that says 'you are always harsh on the team'. 

Staying independently now and watching the matches alone is not so much fun. As much as it is about the nail biting finish, the twist and turns of the game, it is also about all the excitement that mounts up to d-day, the masala dosa, the sight of Dad looking fresh, with all his reading material around, mom- glasses on her nose, embroidery in hand, constant commentary, prayers and oozing optimism even when India needs 27 runs to win off 1 ball. 

It's not just the game, it's something else- indescribable. A sense of bonding that the game brings amongst it's watchers, the passion it evokes, the child in each one of us it brings out into the open, it's ability to bring people out of their barriers- the way it gets my 'cool,'quiet' Dad to voice his frustration and my Mom to swap between being a child, hoping fearlessly for the hopeless; and playing mom to 11 players she has never met in her life before! 

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Raising the middle finger.

I have always thought that the meaning of raising the middle finger has had it's own growth around the same era as mine. I remember as a little girl being completely ignorant to the existence of such a gesture. It was not a sight to be seen anywhere around me, not because I was a little girl and did not really hang out with crowds that are more likely to be using it, but it was just not used with such great frequency as today. As I grew and moved to a different country, the verbal usage of the gesture visited my ears more often. I remember being a social misfit as a teenager in that school, hence I've heard the word among the 'cooler' crowd and always wondered what it was supposed to convey. It was sometimes used instead of "Oh my God!"; sometimes as "no way!"; most times in anger, disgust or frustration or as an insult; sometimes in appreciation of something exotic and mind blowing; I never understood it. I knew only one thing,that if I ever dared to use any alphabetical combination that ever came close to 'that word', I would not see the end of that day or the beginning of another one...ever! 

Over time, I realized that the word has just carved a niche of it's own, a very big one, among my generation and if I do not want to be a misfit, I need to learn to recognize the context in which it is used and hence get the meaning it is supposed to convey. I also knew, that my generation had not yet come to the point of cultural deterioration where you were a misfit if you did not use the word. You can always show the same emotions of elation, surprise, ecstasy, mind blown over, anger,disgust, frustration, appreciation and insult, if you really have to hurl one, that is, with a different set of alphabetical combination. You could choose not to use the word and not be looked down upon. So, I chose to be a contemporary of my generation by understanding the various usages of the word and ensured a guaranteed long life by not using it myself. 

This arrangement worked very well for the longest time I could remember, until one day, I on a random note, as an expression of disgust used 'the word'. I had suddenly crossed that line. Suddenly my arrangement went awry somewhere. I was not supposed to have incorporated the word into my vocabulary, but here I was! I had to come up with some new arrangement. I had one of two choices- unlearn what I just learnt or come up with a new way of ensuring my long life. So, I sat and planned of a new way of ensuring my long life. The idea was simple, pull up a collapsible wall through which the word cannot permeate in the presence of a certain crowd that considers it taboo and might cause bodily harm that will result in a very painful end to my existence. That was it. It was as simple as that. So, from that point on, I had mastered the art of pulling up my wall at life threatening places and collapsing it at not-so-life threatening places. 

That arrangement worked very well too, until, one rainy day, I accidentally slammed the iron frame of my window onto my right middle finger. A fat, blue, pulsating, excruciatingly painful finger with the nail threatening to fall off in whole, leaving behind a naked nail bed resulted. That has consistently held onto it's position as  being among the top three most physically painful numbing incidents, I've ever had in my life. I remember tears not rolling down coz I was confused as to what to feel- Should I feel the pain or Should I repent for having been so careless or Should I be larger than human by putting up a brave face, as I was now no more a child or Should I pity myself at having been hurt while I was only trying to do good for every one around me by closing that darned window and not getting them wet. I remember telling myself to just keep it simple and acknowledge the pain, which resulted then in a continuous stream of tears that lasted a minute. With a lot of doctors in the family, care was never the problem. Ice and painkillers took care of it. The turning point was when a simple suggestion was given to increase the weight of comfort in the balance of comfort and discomfort I was feeling. " Keep the finger raised!" 

I looked around at all the elders at home whose center of attention I had become. I raised my entire arm along with the raised finger as suggested-  the logic being the blood flow would reduce taking away the pulsations. It was a very good suggestion and I did feel a lot less pain. For the first few hours I sat there in that position, with a smile inside my head. My thoughts drifted to how life can be funny at the most painful times. I tried to think if there ever was a time when I had imagined that I would be asked to raise the middle finger by the people I had classified as the life threatening crowd. A smile broke onto my face. It came as a surprise to mom. She had all along felt a sense of pride in the way I had handled myself through out the episode and especially now, that I was smiling in the face of it all. She asked me why- and I told her why. 

I saw pride take a step back, behind the curtain of her eyes and anger take a step forward and show itself out. I said the word in my mind and wondered about my after life. Then I magically saw anger step behind the curtains and a smile appear. She looked at me and chuckled like a child who had just done something she was told not to do and realized how much fun it had been! I chuckled with her. Mom had done what she was best at. She had easily slipped in and out of the roles she has always played to me all her life- one of a mother, teaching right from wrong and one of a friend- the best there can be. 

This once, she had somehow found her way into the not-so-life threatening crowd. From then on, she has been the only entity that has had a free passage between the life threatening and not-so life threatening crowd and has always found more comfort among the former.

It was also the only time, raising the middle finger was found to be the right thing to do at home.