Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mumbai Nights

I Peeped out of my plane window. Mumbai was enveloped by the night and dark water. The glow of the night lights. Every now and then there cut a diamond studded necklace of roads. The night made it sensual, beautiful, mysterious. God is a man. He looks down and sees a beautiful woman in her finest jewellery. Quiet .... waiting. For that one moment I was not in the plane. My mind was elsewhere, unaware of the immediate reality.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Light Inside My New Home

I first spent three years complaining that my apartment doesn't have a view, that I don't see the sky from my window, that I can see other people's breakfast from my living room, that there were too many noisy kids around, that there was improper (read nil) ventilation and a lot more than just this. A new job got me into a new house (I am stubborn about such things, so its not home ... not yet). It has a view... At night I can see a beautiful curve in the road with a lone street light.... it can be very poetic at night, In daylight, I can see some hills, I can see lots of flora, I can see a fistful of sky and then some more, and a lot of fresh air. So technically, I have what I asked for. But I found out that when friends and family asked, how is the new place, do you like it? My response was a sullen - Bloody Expensive. I didn't say anything else. Nothing about how beautifully furnished the house is, how the locality is really cool, that there is a lovely park at two mins walking distance, that the shopping arcade is not too far, that it is double the size of my last apartment.
Jesus! Whats wrong with me!
I spent some time alone yesterday (a first in the new house) and realised my own pattern, how negative I was. Just noticed that the house has more to offer than what I choose to see. The light is really great. These are things that are important to me and they are all there. And then ofcourse there is the expensive bit.
So what made me think that I will have the most perfect house. Most times perfect things don't happen to people. Thats life!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The world from my key hole

So which surface should I write from. The surface that lives in this immediate world of contact. The one that answers questions, travels for work, deals with people and issues. Or should I write from that depth where I watch things, absorb them, respond to them without expression, where time is not bound by the watch and where feelings and thoughts have a Storm brewing between them.
I live in both layers at the same time. After all we are multi tasking operating systems and that is the default setting. We can do many things at the same time, assess different things simultaneously and respond to various things around us. I am no different.
There are days when I feel I am alone in a boat in the ocean and there is no help around. There are days when I am astonished, scared, anxious, dead all in one day.
Why does it take so long to simply write that life in big cities can be very lonely. You are always alone and unfortunately surrounded by people you will probably never meet again. All you see is strangers. Even the task of going to the mall for a movie is scary. The elevators and escalators are over crowded, you won't find a place to sit in the food court, going to the beach is also a community activity, the whole city is out of their homes on the weekend. The only solitude is in the loo.
How can I be so irritated over such a long period of time. I realise it doesn't take much for me to get angry and I mean reaction giving angry. Like this last weekend when I saw this poor girl with a tray of food walking all over the place and not finding a single table. I called out to her and invited her to sit with me as most chairs at my table were empty. Or this other time when I saw a man lying on the road and not a single vehicle stopped to call for help and that includes me. I didn't stop. I feel guilty.
I am not a big city person I think and I live in a very big urban center of India.
No point day dreaming. I am here and what can I do about it. You know how they say - If you don't like it, change it. If you can't, accept it.
I just tell myself that this too is part of the strange ceremony of being a grownup. Too bad. Deal with it.
Nothing is final and this too shall change. I just have to keep my head above the water for now. Just survive and when there is help and more strength, things ca be changed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another Circle Around My Mind Space

There are a few words that are playing in my head like an endless infinite loop. They are from the very famous ad campaign from mastercard. There are some things money can't buy, for everything else there is mastercard.

Today I reflect that indeed there are some things money can never buy. But that's not the end of it. There are some feelings that words can't express, there are some thoughts that mind can't read. There is some beauty that can't be captured in any medium. There are so many things that we think and feel and know at a level that we ourselves take a while to welcome them into our conscious mind. Its true - what the mind can believe, it can achieve.

You know something, I can sit here and bullshit all I want but I know I am hiding behind this intelligent sounding advise which actually everybody knows without my saying it. So here goes (Help me god!).

Sometimes I sit really really far away from something that scares me. Hows that for courage. Usually I make such scary thoughts sit in a really dark spot in my head and I make sure the door is locked and I then go about avoiding mirrors or time alone lest they peep out somehow and stare at me. I don't know how they do that. They behave like friends that you have fought with. You know, always lurking in the background knowing they aren't welcome. I usually spend a lot of my time in such stupid running away activities. Sometimes a really big decision is scary as hell. You know those life altering decisions after which you tell others and yourself - Well, I have made my bed so now I have to sleep in it.

Truth is my mind is really trying to avoid what my heart has plastered on the wall. So naturally I am in trouble. Nothing new about that.

I am the beast that resists change and my life is changing so much right now that I don't know what else to do besides being really anxious. What do you do when you face the unpredictable future that comes with a new job or say a marriage? I have quit a six year old decently paying job. I was doing well but felt like a frog in a well so the desperate need for newer waters and challenges made me take a leap of faith. So here I am in a free fall and not knowing that the ground I shall break my fall on is not squishy and sad or green and firm.

Sometimes I am shocked when somebody tells me you know its good that you have taken control of your life. And I think - control! Me! HEEHAW My decisions are a lot of emotions and thankfully little practical sense. I don't think that's a good balance anyway.

I know that people who take great risks have a fifty percent chance of great rewards. I know all the gyan (knowledge) about how one has to get out there and make it happen if they want their dreams to come true. But heck! nobody told you its so bloody scary. Maybe I am a fattoo (In Mumbai that's what you call someone who gets scared easily).

I am at some level aware that there are signs for me to read. I have pondered over what meaning shall I bring to my life. There are some things that I know I must do. My projects that will have my commitment and my desire both. Its not about money. There are some people who know why they are here. I have vague notions of it but the time is not right and I know it and I will know when it is right. I also know its not about money and it never has been.

The signs are everywhere. The books that I pick up to read. The issues that bother me concerning the world around me near and far. The current affairs of my country that are shaping my mind and I seem to be an observer somehow instead of a participant. I know I am on a certain road and that there is some distance to cover before my work actually begins.

I read a wonderful book by Greg Mortenson - Three cups of Tea. I am moved. What it really takes is your belief and your hard work to bring about the change that you want to see. How do you want to leave the world you got lucky to be born in. What do you want to do with your life. I think that's a very important question. I also see it as sacred.

I picked up another book - Illusions by Richard Bach. I was thinking about magic and signs when a close friend said that I should pick up this book. I did. Profound is the word that comes to my mind. The happiest people are maybe those who are doing what makes them happy. There is a world inside and outside waiting to be explored. But are you too busy catching the next cab to a happening joint in town. Whatever be your trip. Find your happiness and know that you will want something else later.

And then I picked up Arundhati Roy's book of essays - Listening to grass hoppers. Detailed methodical harsh funny sarcastic and very needed in the times of today. Covers topics that concern those who are interested in India's political and economic landscape that is changing before our eyes and after reading her I realise, you should not believe everything that the papers and news channels speak. Its a disturbing book because it presents a very grim reality. The reality which a collective conscience of Indian society would much rather avoid than acknowledge. She has courage to confront and drag you to the mirror with her. Buy it only if you have jigra (balls, courage).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I am in a turmoil. Should children be allowed to work as domestic help as is common practice in Indian households? My own family has a few cases where children are hired for washing utensils or clothes or sweeping and mopping. Its a very difficult thing to fight a norm which is acceptable to everyone because "that's the way it works".

I live in Maharashtra and that too I live in the commercial hub of India - Mumbai. Life is different here than the places where child trafficking is on the rise. Children from poor states are sold through an intricate network of dalals or pimps. Often it is the parents themselves who force the child to work as they have no means to feed themselves. Poverty in the third world is a wretched ugly cousin that follows you everywhere. Of course its easier to "discuss" these issues "intellectually" rather than face them. Unlike the west, where the lifestyle of individuals reduces dependence on others for domestic work, In countries like India the cheapest thing available is labor. I wonder if China also faces the same issues but I somehow think that China is culturally more strong in their values than us Indians.

There are government programs that go unimplemented in most states. The funds are siphoned off before they reach the people they were intended for. The midday meal scheme that operates probably only in Mumbai is often reported in papers where children have fallen ill after consuming the food. Why? Well because food grain quality, safe and hygienic storage are compromised. I doubt if any authorised body audits the quality of government work.

So the poor children in Mumbai are a tad better off or maybe a whole lot better off than the poor children in Uttarpradesh or Bihar or Jharkhand or Orissa or West Bengal. Of course working in households is the way out of poverty or at least keeps them from going hungry. Middle class India has a huge demand for domestic labour and like every gap, this one too is filled. If the government had the safety net for these people or enough NGO's with sufficient funds were able to help, hundreds of thousands children would be going to school to learn how to not get ripped off rather than working for years in peoples homes.

As usual, the government is still working on the bill for right to education for children. Hopefully one day we will not be allowed to hire children as domestic labor. And the same would attract a criminal charge. But the government will have to find ways to fill the gap for money that these children were earning. If they do not find a solution for this, the problem would remain half solved which is no good.

While I write, I realise that I will have to find my own solution when I stand on the spot. Its a very disturbing spot is all I can say now. It just does not go down well that I am hiring the services of a child that should ideally be in school.

Maybe I don't understand how "the world actually works". I hope there would be some solution at hand when I get to this sticky spot. I also hope that in my own way I would be able to change the world I operate in.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tips For Healthy Living

These are my thoughts. Please accept or reject based on your own judgement.

  • Reading current affairs of Indian Governance System can cause depression
  • A book reading, poem writing soul is not at peace in the corporate world of grey ghosts in executive suits and spectacles
  • Earning money is very important to survive
  • How much money will make you feel safe is a very personal decision
  • You can't hide from yourself
  • That which pricks most is called a conscience
  • Cancer of the soul is commonly dressed as Guilt
  • It okay sometimes to not know where you are headed
  • Trust your gut and leap
  • Find out what you want
  • You may discover that your wants change with time
  • Explore what does success mean to you
  • Ask yourself - what will make me happy now
  • DO NOT misread Love to be a passing emotion/ infatuation
  • DO NOT misread a passing emotion/ infatuation to be Love
  • When you get a hate email, try to curb the urge to respond instantly - the best answers will come to you when your mind is at peace
  • Sometimes not giving everybody an answer is an answer
  • Self confidence works inside out
  • Judgement works outside in
  • There is no enemy like fear

Childhood Treasure Trove - Pink & White Sandals

I need to write to know who I am. A weekend tends to bring the need on more fiercely.

I have spent the better part of the day trying not to over eat and reading a book by the title - Life Of Pi - By - Yann Martel.

For months I saw this book on the shelves and picked it up, read the back of it and put it back. I knew I would eventually take it home but something inside kept saying not now. Last weekend, I went to the bookstore to buy my only defense against loneliness... and was surprised by the joy this book brought to me when I picked it off the shelf probably like all the previous times. But something inside was different. A gut feel said, now you must take it home. You are ready for it. I have always believed this to be true. For all the books I have picked up and returned to the shelves un-purchased, is only because I am not prepared for the book. And its not in my mind that I come to this conclusion.

While reading today... while rain fell outside casting shadows on the day... For some unimaginable reason, my mind raced back. Raced back to a time when I must have been 11/ 12 years old. I thought of this beautiful pair of sandals that were bought for me. They were pink and white and were my most prized possession for a while. I could almost smell them as they were when they were new. That moment was so vivid, I could feel the air in the room where I lived, the light as it fell back in that day when I wore these beautiful sandals of mine. They represented something. Class, comfort and beauty. They also gave me a quiet confidence. I can't explain it. I was so fond of them. Why did I think of them today, suddenly while I have never thought of them ever before not even in my teenage years. It was something that had fallen off the memory chart. But I suppose I was wrong. Just thinking of it lifted my mood.

I keep going back to my golden childhood. In moments of loneliness, boredom, stress, anxiety, I keep going back as if to seek comfort.

Maybe I will think of my youth when I am really old the way I am thinking of childhood in my youth now. Yes I will, I already know this.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Connection

What makes people connect:
There are probably too many things. I think two kind of people very close. Those who love each other and those who truly hate each other. When you hate some one, you study them like an opponent. You get to know them, that may be involuntary at times but you do get to know them. You know their strengths and their weaknesses. You would study them so you can beat them.
When you hate some one, you try to exploit their weakness to your best advantage. Some times we choose to not act on our feelings but when we do we would want to use our strengths against our opponents weaknesses.
On the other hand, when we love someone. We study them at all levels of the mind and maximise on their strengths and see if they can compliment our weaknesses. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable to them.
The thing with hate is that even though it acts like a fuel, it can take us in the wrong direction. When its over it leaves you drained.

I don't hate anybody. But I feel good when I meet a worthy opponent.

Sometimes my opponent is that person inside of me. The good thing is that I can handle that person.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Two to tango

Some things in very close relationships remain unpredictable, like the pain that comes from a pin prick, you just expect it to be painful. I am getting aware of my blind spots. Its like discovering the feel of the cars engine while you are driving it on a constantly changing terrain. A couple does nothing but tango and even if one partner is off balance, you just can't get the act together. I am realising my need for approval from my partner especially when I disagree with him. I am also getting aware of his sensitivity to my defiance or rather my degree of adherence to his sound advise.

All of the bull above is about my buying a car he did not recommend. I have my foot inside the cake and now I can't undo it... But the other truth is that I like my cake my way...and thats his lesson from all this.

Tomorrow will be another day...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Confessions of a hijabi

Confessions of a hijabi

Thought That Lingered

Give up who you are and you will be someone new before you know it... give that up and be yet another you... come to think of it... I am a speck... the universe doesn't care to remember... I exisit... only for myself.. and thats all there is....

Passing Thought

... To wear the new.. you have to take off the old!

Happiness - The Moving Target

To be very strongly connected... at times I feel its important to be distant... equidistant if you must. How wonderful it would be if I were to not feel things like loathing, disgust, jealousy, envy, (hate is too strong for me so no I don't feel that). I could experience people but they would not upset me. So I wonder what is this insulation material that covers you from head to toes. Protects you from anything that is not good for you and sometimes that even means yourself.

The thing about insulation is that it may not even permit those things that should reach you. Say like - praise, compliments (haven't you met people who do not take compliments with grace), affection, love, warmth and so many more...

To receive love and all the goodness, I need a soft core but to not get badly bruised, I need a toughness - and I don't want that around my heart... but what is it that normally people do.. the first heartbreak sends us spiralling towards the place where people make cages for the heart... and sadly some of us never ever heal...

And then one day long after the day we got hurt, over breakfast and newspaper or while shopping for groceries, books anywhere in a crowded place we realise... we are alone... we are very alone... and then it hits us... if we are lucky... that we led ourselves down this road...

So.. my friend I write what I feel in my gut about such things as they never talk about it in schools ... find yourself a road... where sunshine will reach you... where if you fall down, you getup, dust yourself off, say thank you God for teaching me to look before I leap and carry on and don't forget to see the flowers, don't rush... life is short, enjoy the moment, do what makes you happy... and even better... do what makes your loved ones happy... you will my friend then be on a happy road...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Connecting the dots

The skills that we don't use will eventually die out! This falls in line with the belief that everything exists for a reason. Don't you find relationships following the same pattern. Things need other things to grow... plants need care, an athlete needs practice, the body needs air & food, earth needs the sun. I think the world needs love. People who love what they do...create good things for everyone... All the greatest inventions are the labor of love...

... The dots continue to connect!

There is magic happening if you look carefully.... so what glasses are you wearing darling?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Find your happy road

I think... (oh no! here goes)

I think life is beautiful.

Watch out what colored glasses you are wearing darling! For you see the world through them.

Life is beautiful because of the impermanence of time and that things change... even when we don't want them to. And because things change, the bad goes away and the good comes and then the good leaves and sends the better in our way. and then we spend the rest of the time chasing the best and realise the best is not a stop, its just a pause in time until you better yourself from the last time. That's why my friend life is beautiful.

An odd mixture of tears and laughter makes the perfect cookie.

Don't brood my friend coz you are here for a while. And because you wont last forever, find what makes you happy. And do that my friend because life is short when it comes to happiness. that's why we never feel the clock ticking with our eyes shut tight and gurgling laughter pouring out and happy tears getting squeezed out from the corners of our eyes.

Find your happy road!

Lets stay - You & I

Lets be together
You and I
In this time and space
Wet green grass peeking from between our toes
The smell of rain soaked breeze
The big blue ocean above
White curly clouds afloat like icebergs
And not a sound that's human
Just a serene silence
And the comfort of good company
You and I
No questions floating in the head
An unhurried sense of time
A sense of space in togetherness
No roads and no road maps
Just time and a good place to rest
Enveloped we stand in our own togetherness
You and I
At a time and place
That feels it was waiting for us forever
And we are here now
Lets stay awhile
Lets hold this breeze in the cups of our palms
Lets tie the sky to a rope and drag it back with us
Lets put the smell of rain in green glass bottles
Lets stay with these moments
You and I

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What Is Love To You?

What is Love to you?

Love is taking a bite of that gorgeous cinnamon cake in the middle of the night without putting on the light and discovering that you accidentally ate veggie pie and then liking it anyway.

Love is an odd mixture of hits and misses. Preferably more hits than misses.

Love is soaring height and steep falls all put together.

Love is following a road that seems right.

Love is liking the other - warts and all.

Love is driving a car with two steering wheels and trying to stay on the road.

Love is forgiveness and kindness.

Love is respecting. Respecting - space, individuality, religion, sexuality.

Love is trust.

Love is also hope while the future unfolds.

Love is fear of loss.

Love is selfish.

........The rest is yet to reveal itself to me!

What A Wonderful Life!

I think its never too early to talk about childhood. Especially if its your own.

All I remember from mine is lots of green grass, stones and boulders of all shapes and textures, weird smells from the middle pages of new books, erasers with dark edges, texture of wet mud, skinned knees (lots of them), the shape of my mother's palm and the sound it made when it touched my cheek (at either end), my English teacher who never smiled, spellings and meanings of words that I didn't like, looking up your latest crush's phone numbers in the directory, looking at grown ups with awe, lots and lots of open sky, lots of idle time, listening to crickets in the garden at night.

Had I known, I would've torn and framed grass spots from my clothes. Captured the sound of my mothers slap in a box and kept it on my table. Tucked away all the speacial treats that were made in the kitchen when we were studying very hard.

Time passes slowly every time I get a hug from my loved ones. In fact it seems to stop for just a moment for me to put it in a box and bury it deep in my heart for the inevitable winter that will arrive.

The balance of life is beautiful. It constantly changes things. When your journey makes you leave a stop and move on its only because another beautiful town is waiting for you.

S says some day long into the future, we will stop and look back at these days and say - what a wonderful life!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A View From The Top

आसमान की बुलंदी पे

बनाया हमने अपना आशियाँ

कुछ दरवाज़े कुछ खिड़कियाँ

ईंट पत्थर का हमारा मकां

फिर पूछा हमने अपने साए से

क्या खोया क्या पाया इस राह पे

Yesterday I visited the most posh residentials towers under construction in Mumbai. The tallest for sure and superbly luxurious. This was a work related visit. The person I met showed me a computer generated image of the building and was very proud to show me the location of the penthouse. My eyebrows disappeared to my head when he casually mentioned the price range. On my way back from the meeting I was wondering, how many property owners in this tower will stand in their luxurious super expensive flat and say to themselves, I deserve it and I have done no wrong to get here. The percentage of such people in my mind is quite small. Probably a single digit figure. And then a second thought occurred, no matter if you stay on the 55th floor or the pent house, you still have to go to the basement to get your car and then you have to share the same road as the rest of us and you still have to drive past shanties to get to the airport and you still share the same sunlight and the same air and ultimately, you too will die and leave behind a very expensive property and lets hope you die a happy person. That last bit is as important as the happiness of being able to afford a property like this.

I was happy to see this building. To me it represents the eternal human struggle to rise. Well in this case it takes 41 elevators to get there.

I was happy to see this project. Maybe I was just happy to see ambition. Somebody's thought translated to reality. Just the building itself as if saying to god, I am here. I was not awed by the wealth. It was something else that attracted me. I think it was the power of ambition. In that one moment I was not aware of the snob value of that place or the arrogance of the owners. Nothing. All I saw was mans struggle to be more than he is.

Random Thoughts

The world is full of endless possibilities. Whether I am able to see these possibilities depends on how I am using my heart and my head. There are things like hope and faith that modern science would at best try to link with certain chemicals produced by the body to fight whatever it is faced with.

All of the best things of God are free and within reach to everyone. And yet we concentrate on those that remain outside our grasp. When the mind is still, the most troublesome of questions are the most simple ones. Am I happy today? What is my fear now? Why am I sad? And then the mother of all of them - What do I want? Sometimes it takes me days and a lot of silence to get answers. I have come to realise that fear is my biggest enemy. It has in past deprived me of the joy of hope and faith and unlimited happiness. Whenever I have conquered fear I have felt in control and have sensed life as an adventure. But then there are bad days too when the world at large is grey and hopeless. Reading newspapers today can be very depressing but it doesn't have to be. I believe there is always a way to handle anything, I just need to find it.

I have a few goals and whenever I get lost in my plans to achieve them, I find myself excited like a kid on his birthday, the hair on my arm stand on ends, my voice trembles. I will inshallah achieve those goals. I know it. But there is one sure shot way of not getting there. That road is called fear of the unknown.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

आउट ऑफ़ माई माइंड

एक ख़ामोशी की तलाश में चले जा रहे हैं हम
कभी अपने साथ कभी अकेले
कुछ नए से रस्ते
कुछ साथी पुराने

The mind is never still. Never quiet. I take deep breaths to make it still. Close my eyes and stay alert to the breath that enters my nose and leaves the same way. Seconds tick by. The eyes remain closed. My mind is an expert in drawing up images behind closed eyes. Realization of dreaming brings me back to my task of observing my own breath. Admonishing my clever mind to not think.
Its so hard... to not think. And so peaceful when I do so even if that state remains for few minutes. A blank mind that is aware of nothing but the body it occupies. That for me is bliss. The universe within is beautiful but seldom visited.
Being lonely and being alone are two very different things. I am with myself so much that I don't miss being alone. Yes I feel lonely in my own company sometimes. But such is life. And its beautiful.
Life is rich in experience. Time and years, thoughts and feelings, places, god and much more.
Even though I have an occupation, I am thinking that it should not be my identity. I am much more than what I do. Judgement, the fallacy of the human lot. We so often are quick to judge. An ability to accept without judgement is something that I struggle with and often fail. Someone who may not be making too much money, someone who doesn't have the best job on earth, someone who has so and so caste, religion. All these are boxes where we want to shove the people we meet. I hope I learn to consistently accept without judgement. Accept that which I do not like.

Friday, January 1, 2010

What a beautiful ride is Love.
Takes you where ever you choose to go.