Friday, June 26, 2009

What a coincidence

Today I had to go to another office for a 1-3 meeting. My colleagues were driving so I thought I might as well take a ride. When we reached the parking gate, I found out that the gate wouldn't open with our usual swipe in card. So my colleague dropped us at the front door of the building while he went out to find some parking place.

I did not carry my hand bag as I had to carry my laptop along and did not want to carry too many things. We entered the building, found the meeting room. Meeting started as planned and by 3 we were off. While we started getting ready to start back, I realized I did not have my wallet. I knew for sure that I was carrying it when we sat in the car. I looked everywhere. The meeting room, my laptop bag. But could not find it. I thought may be I left it in the car. So we all started walking to exit the building. As we walked towards the parking place, I was trying hard to remember whether or not I had carried the wallet in the first place. I think I did, I thought.

When we reached the car, I looked for the wallet. Looked everywhere but it was not there. Now what do I do? I don't know anyone in this office. Neither do I know how long it will be when I need to go back to the place again. I decided I will walk back to the meeting room to look for the wallet once again while others waited for me in the car.

I only crossed the road to walk towards the building, when I saw a group of people walking out towards the parking lot. As they looked at me, one of the gentleman seemed very pleased and surprised. He waved a wallet in his hands as he started pointing towards me while he talked to his friends. I was taken back. Is that my wallet in his hand? What is he doing with it? And how did he know it was mine?

As we got closer he said "By any chance are you looking for a lost wallet?"

Of course yes!

They all started explaining to me. One person said, someone found the wallet on the road. Another said, we called your library. The gentleman said excitedly, we recognized you by your picture on your license and library card. Another person said something else. And another something else. And my mind was barely trying to handle the excitement of having found the wallet and being amazed by the coincidence of meeting the folks who had found my wallet. It was all very quick and magical.

What were the chances that I walked back to look for the wallet again? I could have drove back thinking I never got the wallet with me. How did the people who found my wallet walk just by me while I was looking for it? More than the relief of finding the wallet safely I was just awed by the coincidence.

May be they had seen me walk that side and collected the wallet from the front desk who asked them to give it to me? May be, or may be not. May be I was just very lucky. I want to believe the later.

The friendly group told me that someone found my wallet on the road and seems like some cars may have passed over it. But the wallet seemed fine to me. My secure id however was crushed and is now unusable. But it will always remind me of the special moment.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Close of yet another Chapter

What marks the beginning or end of a life's chapter? We would all agree it would be a change in something very significant in your life that changes your outlook towards life, changes your lifestyle, teaches you an important life lesson etc. Basically some significant change. It is funny how often we associate change in location to a beginning or close of a chapter.

I have been fortunate enough to have experienced this change many times already. Fortunate(?) to move, settle, move again, settle again you may ask. Moving means setting up a home, getting used to the new locality, going through the pain of packing/unpacking, basically starting from scratch each time, getting used to the weather, making new friends, being lonely at times. Yes! Every change comes with some uneasiness, some apprehensions, some pain.

But it also brings along lovely memories you keep for life, a rare chance to find a family amidst strangers, situations where you feel insecure and lost but come out strong in the end thus strengthening your faith in God, learning your own capabilities, rich experiences that you would otherwise not have. For me it was all of this and more; each time - but this time I am more aware of the gains than before.

Last week I moved out of Chicago to come and work in SFO area where my husband also lives. We had been away for almost an year because of work - recession had struck and we were caught. It was the most agonizing time of my life specially because we were staying away from each other. We had postponed our happiness till we got together. We will do this, do that, have fun, cook good food, have fun trips, party, engage ourselves with something, anything and everything - after we get together we thought. One month, two, three but nothing changed. Only thing that changed was the extent of grief, blame, cribbing and crying.

We both knew this will not last forever, but we were too eager to make things happen the way we want. And when things did not go the way we want, there was only pain - more arguments, self torture. But by God's grace we had each other. It was not the end of the world we used to tell each other. Things will change, for good. Don't allow the situation to get to you. Navin was working like crazy and barely had the time or the energy to feel the pinch. In one way, that helped.

Why are we here, why do we have to live like this? We were neither saving money nor living together. Why stay away from family, in some unknown place? What are we gaining? Such questions bothered too. But wait a minute... what was the guarantee that we would be happy when we were together? Now we were waiting for living together, later we would be waiting for something else. These were some important lessons we learned in this special chapter. We soon realized how our minds play with us. Any bad thought and we tried to reason it out with a positive thought. Of course this strategy did not work each time but now we were more aware. Faith that whatever happens, happens for good kept us going. Other times, we had each other to talk us through the negative feelings.

Why did we have to live separate?
Our reasoning - While I was in Chicago, I was able to help many people who were in bad situations. Would they have not got help if I was not there? Of course they would. But it gave me the opportunity to be there for someone and give them a sense of relief when it mattered the most. I would never have been able to do that if I was not in Chicago at those times.

Why are we spending so much money on travel, stay and everything else? When will we put an end to this?
Our Reasoning - Be happy that we are not spending on reasons of bad health or anything bad. There are so many people who go through so much pain. Expenditure is the not the worst thing in that comparison. Be happy that we are not compromising on meeting each other whenever possible.

You do your best to help others, but when you need any help, people turn their back or are too busy to feel for you.
Our Reasoning - So what? Feel sorry for them because they are missing a golden opportunity to help. Now you know whom you can depend and whom you cannot. Everyone has their own priority in life; respect that. Ask for help when you want some, but don't expect anything from others. Thank those who behave wrong, because you are learning something new at their expense.

It is strange but true. Last 9 months have been the most precious time of my life. I learned meditation; this largely contributed to calm me most of the times. I started blogging more often; though I don't know if people even read my blogs, I feel happy to be able to pen down and keep up with one of my resolutions. Navin and I spent less time than usual together but that meant we were more eager to meet each other than before. We valued the little time that we did have. I joined the Art of Living group in Chicago where I met more people than I would have ever met in my lifetime.

Why me? Why me? Why me?
Our Reasoning - Why not you? You are God's chosen one :P :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sensitive huh?

Today a friend mentioned to me how he appreciates my hobbies, specially me writing a blog. I was happy to know that at least there is one more person other than me who reads my blog. (A small secret - I visit my blog very often even if I don't have anything to write. I can read the posts again and again.)

Then he says 'You seem to be very sensitive'.

In a way I think it is so true. If I have to describe me in one word, I would definitely say sensitive. I guess my blog portrays the same.

I am sensitive to kindness, friendship, passion, love, people. I am sensitive to insensitivity too. To rudeness, arrogance, selfishness, disrespect - I guess we all are.

I think sensitivity towards emotions is good as long as it doesn't have a negative influence on you. It helps you to understand people, empathize with others, appreciate others and their actions, you are always aware and learning, you become more approachable, more loving, helpful, more human. More creative and passionate too.

But it is so important to couple maturity and sensibility with sensitivity. Otherwise you can become football of other person's intentions. You may end up hurting yourself if it gets coupled with expectation and aggression.
There have been many instances when my sensitivity becomes a bottleneck and sometimes moves on to depression. But I learn with experience. Yoga/meditation does help me keep myself immune from such possibilities.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight

On Friday I went out to downtown to give away Yogathon flyers to people on the streets around the Union station. Yogathon 2009 is a event to be held on July 7th in Chicago Hilton. The event is organized by the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) which is a non-profit organization which takes up community projects to serve people across the world.
Yogathon which is being held in Chicago is specifically raising money to have free stress relief programs for the veterans in Chicago and for public school students in Chicago.

We were just four of us with bunch of flyers in our hands, looking anxiously at the moving crowd. I thought it may be a good idea to have ourselves scattered at different entrances of the Union station - this way we may be able to cover more. That was my idea. So I headed towards one end whereas others went in opposite direction.

Frankly speaking, it was little awkward at first. I stood in one place and simply showed the flyers to people who moved by and as they approached handed one to each of them. Some people ignored me. Some simply waved in a gesture that they were not interested. Some showed that both their hands were full with stuff and so it was difficult to collect the flyer. Some were curious to know what I was giving away, whereas some thanked me after they picked one out of my hand.

I may have stood there for 10 minutes and I was not doing well. May have given away 10-20 flyers; only!; may be. I looked at my watch more often; I looked at my cell phone every minute. What was wrong, I thought. What can I do to pass on this message of Yogathon? Why were there no other volunteers to help? Why should only four have to do this work? The most difficult work? What does it take for the people to pick a flyer? Are they really in a hurry? Are they worried that a dark skinned foreigner is going to make them fall for something they don't support? I am standing there, wanting to help people of Chicago, and hey you Chicago folks running away? Help yourself! huh.
How will you know what it is all about if you don't care to find out? Or may be they did not want to find out! In that case you are irresponsible citizens, not grateful for people who fight for you, don't care for the youth, self centered, too busy in your own self.

I was tired - of standing all by myself. Angry - that people did not care. Embarrassed - when people ignored. Agitated - when people made silly reasons for not picking the flyer.

No, no; this is not what I should be thinking, I told myself. I walked across the street and saw one of the other volunteers trying to pass on the flyers. They were not doing any better. Now what? I walked to one of them and told her lets do it together. May be that should work. She turned to me and said, how does it feel when people don't take the flyer from you?

Well... Hmm... Bad? Yes. Bad because I feel I am trying to help you; I get nothing to do what I am doing but still I am helping. But you don't understand. When all this is for you!

But what was I getting from all these thoughts? I should have no intentions to do this task. I am helping for love of humanity and love should be unconditional. If people want to know about Yogathon, pass on the flyers. That is your work. Pass on the word. People act or don't act is not your responsibility. If someone is not willing to take the flyer from you, its okay. Pass it on to someone who is. Don't get bogged down by some ignorant people, they have their own stress to deal with. Think how you can make the best of the time you are there.

Then it was a different experience all together. I was in a different mind set. I decided I will give the best smile to whoever that walks down that entrance. That was the only good thing I could do. It is not the time to judge anyone. If they don't look at you or want to ignore, that is also fine. Just give it your best shot; because that is all you can do. So that is just what I did. And the response was awesome. People smiled back too. They were more eager to know what I was giving away. I could even hear few say, 'ah.. sure.. I can take it from you!'. Some people inquired what was Yogathon all about. Some people told me that they would not be around July 7 and I would say, then pass it on to someone who may be around. Some people had their hands full with bags and stuff but still walked by to pick up the flyer off their free finger tips. I must have given away 500 or more flyers in no time. It felt great!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do you fake smile?

You are walking by down the street and there is an eye contact to some stranger. What do you do? Or- you push the door to open and someone walks from opposite direction. What do you do?

Yes - Obviously we smile. But have you noticed anytime the way people smile? You see a BIG smile on their face and suddenly its gone. You know, like a trained robot? You see someone, then you see a smile and then whoosh, its gone.

This is something I have failed to understand. Why do people smile half halfheartedly? Courtesy sake? People are taught in school/home to do that?

What use is a smile if it is followed by a stern face or a frown? Meaningless! What does it take to keep it on for a few seconds more? Till someone to whom it is intended even realizes you smiled?

C'mon people, don't be in a hurry and leave things incomplete. Smile with all your heart; it could brighten someone's day. It could be one of the best things the other person has seen all day. Don't ruin it by making it mechanical.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Super Mom!

Its about time I write about my Mom. And I know if I start, I would need to dedicate an entire blog for her. And sooner or later I think I may even end up doing that. Until then, here is a recent anecdote.

My Mom has definitely been a very influential person; not only to me but many more people I can imagine. She is involved into social activities, loves to help others, always... and I mean it always has a positive attitude, is a great cook, is very enthusiastic and full of energy, very loving, and loved by everyone, straightforward, strong, very strong woman. I can go on listing tons of adjectives and will still fall short. She specially loves being with people. In all the get to gathers you will always see her talking to everyone, sharing stories, smiling, laughing and having a good time; also making sure others are having a good time. That is important too and that is why I think she is the best. You will be fond of her as soon as you meet her I am sure. Everybody does. See... I start talking about her and cannot stop praising.

But anyways, that is not something I want to write about today. Today's blog is about the new side of Mom I saw recently.

Last month Mom and Dad had been to a 15 day tour to the eastern countries covering Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Thailand. My Mom in law also accompanied. This was the first time she was travelling outside of India. She was very excited. In fact my Mom, the over energised person that she is, made sure Mom in law has the best time ever. I am happy that they had each others company though. You will always see my Mom in law in a Saree and wearing a Chudidar may be a 'young' people's style for her. But during this tour, Mummy encouraged her to try new attire and she ended up stitching new clothes for herself. And I am so glad she did, mom in law looked at least 10 years younger in the chudidars. You could simply make out she was having great time. A good change for her. We owe it to Mummy; thanks Mom for taking good care of Mom in law.

It was Mom in law's birthday when they were on the tour. Mom organized a small celebration for her too. Here's a picture of both of them.
Their trip sounded so much fun, the way they tell their stories from the trip. They were a group of 15-20 people from different parts of India. My Mom must have made friends with all of them I am sure. They went sight seeing, visited the different temples of Bangkok, the markets of Hong Kong, water parks, bird sanctuary, went shopping, went for rides and much more.

But the most exciting and the reason of writing this post was the para sailing ride! All my life I have NEVER ever seen Mom even jog or run or try any strenuous activity. An Adventure sport? And my Mom? You must be kidding. Excitement to her (I thought) was cooking, meeting people, helping around and that was about it. Now, you have to understand the kind of lifestyle we have back in Goa. You cannot imagine a 60 year old, middle class hindu woman, mother of kids who are wedded off going bicycling say, or going swimming, or whatever! I am just trying to put across the fact that it is a BIG thing for someone from Mom's generation from my town to take up something like para sailing.

But once they returned from their tour, she told me this. WHAT? Mom and para sailing? I could never imagine her taking up any adventure sport EVER. And now she tells me she did para sailing, water park rides, etc. I need proof I told her :)

I had been since then waiting to see the pictures of her in the sky, hanging in that parachute with expressions dumbstruck! Today I got to see the pics finally. I am posting them here to share with the world.

I find the second picture a little funny; mom seems like a spider man ready to take off :P he he!

The expressions here are awesome too :)

I am proud of you Mom. Everyday I learn something new from you. You are a great combo of life, energy and zeal. My hero... Love ya!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Perfect Timing

I was at work till late. Some 'crazy' manager had scheduled a meeting from 5-6 pm. I was not feeling very happy of some of the things happening at work. So I thought how about going to temple on my way home?
So I turned my car on Irving Park road and started driving towards Hari Om temple. Off late, I have been going through lot of mood swings specially with things related to my work. Also had not been meditating regularly so had been missing some quiet time. So I thought, visit on a weekday to the temple would be perfect time off for myself. There will be less or may be no people and I will just sit in the auspicious smelling place.

As I entered the temple, I saw few others hurrying in too. I wondered if it was some festival or occasion. I prayed and sat for sometime. I was ready to get up; that time people started gathering in a small circle. The priest came by me and said 'We are having Hanuman Chalisa in 2 minutes. Don't go'. Don't go? hehe Sounds forceful isn't it? But I liked that he made sure I know what was going on; may be I looked confused. Also, he insisted I stayed; feels good to obey your elders right? Specially when they force you to do something that affects them in no way but benefits us.

Anyways, so I decided to stay for the chanting and the singing. It was great fun to sing aloud the Sanskrit scripts. There I was sitting with a bunch of strangers, swinging and clapping as I read the Chalisa from a file of assembled printouts. Though I did not know anyone, we all were connected by the tunes of 'Jai Sri Ram'.

As I stood for the Aartis, while the priests performed the pooja, I saw two 1 yr old playing with their Dad. The twins were so tiny and cute. One of them was in her Dad's arms and she looked at me and just opened her arms to come towards me. I don't know why she did that but I took her in my arms. Next thing she does is calmly puts her head on my shoulder like she knew me, like she was happy in the new arms; as if she was going to sleep. I felt so good; the experience of innocence, trust and calmness from the 1 yr old was very touching.

I am glad I went to the temple today. And thank God for the perfect timing!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Recently I picked this book "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg from the library. I must have read 50 some pages only. But the story is very captivating so far. It is a fiction narration of a story on a planet with 4-5 or even more suns.

There is no night at all in this land with one or the other sun always shining in the sky. I can imagine how hot it must be for people living in a place like that. More interestingly, I find time to read only when I am in the Sauna. The temperature in there always shooting hundreds.
So it will not be wrong to say that I feel the story while I read it too.

More on it once I finish reading the book.

[June 9 '09] - Finished reading the book and I can definitely say that I am happy I came across this book and picked it up from the library. I remember I was looking for the book frantically for quite sometime and nearly gave up the thought of looking further. But somehow got drawn towards an aisle of books which was the SF section. And that was exactly what I was looking for.
The story is very well written; this is the only the second SF I have read after Michael Chrichton's Timeline. And I was completely drawn by its narration, the characters and ofcourse the story. The way a known, common fact of nightfall is made a devastation to the people who never saw darkness before is simply superb.

The story is about a civilization on a planet called Kalghash where there is no night. Every day there are 1-5 suns varying light beaming across the wide sky. People there have never known darkness; they go completely crazy when the planet experiences an eclipse and they see the stars for the very first time.
The characters in the story are interesting and while the authors narrates each of their stories separately, seamlessly they roll into the mainstream story line. Every character becomes alive in the mystic way.

I felt that the ending could have been extended. May be I felt this way cos I wanted to keep reading.

Thanks to people on Friendfeed; I picked the book from one of the 'best books' discussions.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Give others benefit of the doubt

Do you come across a situation in life where your problem seems the biggest one in the whole universe? You expect people around you to feel the tension for you but no one seems to understand how grave the situation is? You disagree to give up and do not let the situation take over you. You know things will work out and are positive all the while.

But that never meant that there is no botheration. You are strong but there are times when hope weakens and the tunnel seems endless? But that very moment someone feels sorry for you, sympathizes for you and that leaves you feeling shaky?

I have been in this situation; I would rather say I am in this situation right now. Since September 08, I have been staying away from my husband; we meet once or twice a month; spending most of our time traveling for hours feeling the hit on time, energy and of course our relationship.

Here I am doing all I can to be on top of the situation, but then comes a moment when I get affected by what people say or do. Some close friend feels sorry for me or someone whom I expect to help does not. The whole ‘why me’ and ‘how long will this take’ feeling takes over me.

Don’t feel sorry for me because I am not. Help me if you can.

I know it is up to me to get affected by remarks by people or just ignore them. May be they are weaker than me or they are just trying to be good by empathizing with me. And if someone does not want to help me, may be they are at loss themselves because they are missing out on an opportunity to serve and make a difference in somebody’s life. Or may be they just don’t feel for you and are too busy in their self-centered life.

More than the problem itself, what bothers more is dealing with emotions that arise as a result of such actions I don’t expect.

Today I approached a colleague to help me find out about my positioning in a project that would work out for me and Navin to be together. From my perspective, right now that is the biggest issue I need to solve. But I never realized that that very person, who acknowledges that I am in deep trouble, does not even offer to help in anyway.

Trouble is like a deep well, when you are in it, you feel that’s the world and cannot think out of it. And same thing is happening to me. I know those who show sympathy are my friends and want good for me. But somehow I am not able to control my energy which ends up as depression. Those who cannot help, I am sure they have their own reasons behind it. But somehow I am not able to control my energy which ends up as anger.

I am not doing justice to my spiritual self. My mind makes logical interpretations and always try to keep others at fault. But my conscience knows that you should always give others the benefit of the doubt. Like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, being aware of the problem is half the problem solved. I will try to be calm and aware next time and always give others the benefit of the doubt.