Category: Short Thoughts


Step Out of Your Mercedes

The kids that you see by the roadside at every traffic light in India are not just beggars. They are the future of this country. Their population rises and their dreams get trampled by the lack of resources such as food, shelter and education.

They are not incompetent and neither do they have low IQs. In fact, I could vouch for the fact that some of them are more intelligent that the Mercedes owners who overlook their presence. This is an issue I have written about time and again, and yet I feel more in tune with the realities of their world now.

For the past couple of weeks, my friend, Sachit, and I have been frequenting an NGO that works towards education and empowerment of all. This NGO runs a small school in a rather busy village of Devli. For the Delhiites, it may seem unreal that such a rundown area actually exists in our national capital.

This is where the underprivileged children come to gain some knowledge and complement what they are learning in the Government Schools of India. With their backpacks, they bring their dreams and their aspirations. They struggle to learn because in their world, teachers barely come to school, and if they do come at all, they have almost 200 students to teach at one time. They are nameless in their classrooms… just faces that the teacher looks at while he/she scribbles on the board. They wonder what the teacher is scribbling, because for the most part, they have not yet mastered the art of reading.

It is when I meet these children in groups of 10 that I realize what a bright future India could have. In three hours of play with us, these fifth graders have managed to learn more about phonetics and spellings than they have in their lifetime at school.

So you wonder why they are still lagging behind? It’s because all of us choose to focus on our busy lives. We wake up in the morning and rush to get to work, and when we are done with our daily struggles, we choose to go out for a nice dinner and some drinks. Our 24 hours end with us dreaming on our comfortable beds till the alarm breaks our sleep.

If, however, we all pledged to take just one hour out of our week and made it to these schools before work, these children would be at par with our cousins who attend expensive private schools. Four hours a month can change the lives of these children because all they need is a playmate who can teach them what their teachers have failed to teach them.

So if you like your motherland and if you wish to see a truly prosperous India, step out of your Mercedes next time and let a child know you are there.

 

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The Problem With Magic

I was flipping through channels this evening, trying to find something intellectually soothing to watch. Star World India came up and I decided to give it a few minutes. This show they have just starting airing, Pan Am, was playing – some gig about stewardesses, captains and their lifestyle. Although I didn’t stick around long enough to complete the episode, there was a dialogue that got my attention. So here it is: “The problem with magic is that there is no surprise for the magician. He knows how it ends.” Oh, I love this quote!

This is my first Christmas/ holiday season away from family. Strangely, this time I’m the one who is home. Everyone else is away – vacationing up in the Himalayas. Yep, I’m grumpy about it because apparently I don’t know what to do with myself when my family isn’t around… and hence, I’m blogging about it.

No worries, I’m planning to make up for this lack of vacationing in my life by traveling to some unusual place next year. I don’t want to go to some place touristy – maybe something rustic would be the right choice. Yes, I know I have a huge travel list, but this time I’ll waver from it. No five-start hotels, no special treatment because of the family, nothing – just pure traveling with a backpack. That’s precisely what I’m longing for… some wilderness, a cottage or something, and the sounds of nature. It’s something I imagine in my head, so I’m guessing it’s something worth doing.

Merry Christmas everyone! Live it up and take that step beyond the usual – life’s too short.

Better Unsaid

Sometimes things are better unsaid, bottled up and left to ferment.. perhaps forever. It seems simpler that way. Much easier to let it turn into an aged ale than open it so it spills everywhere, staining everything around you and leaving permanent damage.

Maybe there’s a right and wrong way. It’s even possible that this is the wrong way… I won’t contest it. It’s just what works best in my case. The bottled up stuff doesn’t faze me. It doesn’t break through and touch my soul or leave me scathed. It’s sometimes when things are actually verbally acknowledged that my calm is disturbed. I’d rather avoid such situations altogether and go my own way… instead of leaving with a bitterness embedded in my mind. I guess that’s somewhat hard to understand for some people… call me what you want, I’d rather just step away from tense situations and leave it all unsaid.

Those who know me, know that I’m always there even if it doesn’t seem that way.. and I guess that’s all that matters.

 

 

Time For A Vacation

As if a blog vacation wasn’t enough, I think I’m about to take another little vacation in life. Sometimes it becomes imperative to step back and reflect on the bigger questions plaguing the mind.

I have been festooning my life with people and events, when all it really requires is thoughts and ideas. A dreamy and peripatetic life is what I wish for. It’s when I feel settled that the restlessness sets in and my feet just want to wander and lose the ties that have helped me settle…

I’ve learnt over time that there are very few ties that have the strength to keep you grounded. The rest are simply superficial and unnecessary. They need to be slashed, abandoned and left to become the material memories are made of. That is their sole purpose – to be a reminder of times that have gone by… a messenger of sorts, flooding your mind with images and memories that have molded you into who you are.

Yes, it’s time for another one of those vacations… 🙂

 

 

Once again Paolo Coelho has caught my attention. I don’t know where I read this, but I put it down on a piece of paper that fell out of my stuff today. Maybe this is a sign that I’m on the right path, but I’m still to figure that out.

“Remember, the first road to God is prayer, the second is joy.”

If you know me at all, you know I’m not one to pray. It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in a higher power, just that I whisper my prayers unconsciously before I drift off to sleep every night in form of gratitude for my day, and my dreams and wishes.

But maybe, my road is the second one – joy. I’ve been working on things in my life to find the balance and to drive myself towards contentment and happiness even when I’m angry or impatient. I’ve realized that being grateful for little things in life helps!

Perhaps this is all because praying needs a degree of faith that I don’t yet have. My mind’s been trained to not believe in something I read or learn easily. But, it’s a road I’m prepared to take.

Some movies just show us life as it is. Guzaarish was one such movie. I’m not influenced by the cast of the movie or the emotions that flow through it, but by the truth in it and the reality it makes us face.

Our natures are reliable, as people. We believe and battle because giving up isn’t easy. We have a point to prove to ourselves and we owe appreciation to life. But, after all of that, there’s a point when even giving up can become  a goal – and then we believe and battle to achieve ‘defeat’, for it is in fact a victory in its own right…

My Life, A River

Life is like a river, forever flowing on till it dries up due to lack of volume or individuality. It sees many sights, and it experiences many hardships. It wins some battles by triumphantly eroding whatever comes in its way, and loses some battles and is forced to change its path. It is more voluminous sometimes, and struggles to flow on at the others.

Our life is a river and our mind its heart.

If you are interested in religion and have been brought up in India, there is no doubt that you have heard about ‘Arya Samaj’ and ‘Sanatan Dharma’. But what exactly is the broad difference between the two?

Let me begin by an epiphany I just had. My grandparents on both sides are fairly religious, but somehow I’ve only ever heard my maternal grandmother tell me stories of various Gods and Goddesses. My maternal side happens to perform rather frequent ‘hawans’ or chantings around fire. This is often also called ‘Agni Puja’ or the prayer of fire. I recently realized that I have never heard tales of Gods and Goddesses from my maternal grandmother, and I have never seen a ‘hawan’ take place at my paternal side of the family.

They both happen to belong to different “sects” of Hinduism, if you will. While Sanatan Dharma believes in the presence of Gods and Goddesses and considers Ramayana and Maha-bharata sources of religious texts, the hawan-performing Arya Samajis believe in no such thing and strictly draw their religious knowledge from the vedas. They do not believe in multiple Gods and Goddesses, and perform nature worship. In essence, you could call the the Hindu-version of pagans.

There… that is the difference between the two. I feel rather keenly towards both of these sections of people but I appreciate the difference as well.  Hope this helped clear some concepts because I can’t believe that I only noticed the difference after 22 years of living in India…

If I were to put it in simple words, I’d say the past week entailed quite a few events that weren’t pleasing to my mind. I realize that there are bigger problems in the world right now, some would say it is all coming to an end. There are natural calamities occurring left and right, people dying and falling off the face of earth like flies, and tyrants attempting to destroy revolutionaries, but here it seems that I have going on, a personal war of sorts.

I realized earlier this evening that I’m going through an inner battle. After running fro it for years altogether, I’ve managed to run right into Mr. Indifference. You may disagree and have your theories about how indifference isn’t a real thing, but I have to tell you that I don’t feel fondly or negatively about anything or anyone at this moment. I am simply going through the motions of being a human being, pretending to laugh with you and pretending to empathize with you. Yes, I feel a certain need to fulfill those roles but besides that there’s a void where there usually is a deep pool of emotions.

Who knew emptiness could be so calming to the nerves… and who knew that even though it makes life seem problem-free, I want to lose this frame of mind?