Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The kind of information

that I get these days is simply mind-boggling. I am coming across so many people who are, what do I say,...mmm...different. Way different than what you would expect a normal person to be. On one side I see compassionate people, people with so much compassion that they would leave all they are doing to answer your one genuine question; people who have left a career in s/w(in the US) to settle down with a farm in India; many many more.
All these people are so motivating. What's better than being the way to show it?
And all of this, I did not know about for so long. I am coming around to believe that if you start looking for something earnestly, that something you will get(maybe something even more).
Sometimes, I feel myself wondering. Aren't we all(Indians, Americans, Pakistanis, Talibans) living in the same world? The different continents that was one huge continent millions of years ago? Whom are we fighting at? Whomever we fight with, whatever we fight with, aren't we all the victims? Isn't the big picture obvious?

The modern conveniences of man has also brought division. But logically speaking, if we have a more than what we need, aren't we taking it from someone else? Even if we do not stop taking, isn't it responsible to at least give something back to the community? And IF religion is stopping us from thinking everyone as one among us, do we need to feed it?
I really don't know if I am making sense anymore. But somewhere, something makes me think...think some other way. There is more to this life than we seem to know. And shouldn't knowing the unknown be more sensible to look for?

Recently, I watched this TED video where Sunitha Krishnan talks about how she rescued 4 and 5 year old girls who had been sexually abused, I found myself in tears, in pain. And her plead to us is not for money or charity. All she asks for is acceptance...what did they do? They were just a victim. And all these people, the abusers are very much around us. And we don't know them. We don't want to know them. We are just turning a blind eye. A very convenient but dangerous attitude.
Are we probably waiting for this to happen to someone we know before we would do something? Isn't that dangerous?
I could not help but be grateful to my parents...their over-protective security was probably with the best intentions.

Monday, December 07, 2009

My trip to grace...Mahima

Just two months after my association with Isha, I found myself sitting on a plane to TN to take an advance course. It was like I had no other option. I just had to do it.

I still had to do my Shambavi at noon when I reached IIIS before lunch. So, I took the oppurtunity to meditate in Mahima. I had just seen it from the outside when I just checked myself in. So, after shower, I found myself entering the doors of Mahima.
There, looking at me was the most powerful picture of Sadhguru. It brought me a chill.
When I could finally take my eyes off that picture, I looked up to the ceiling of the dome. I knew immediately. This place is something!

I did my Shambavi. When I had to mouth words as part of my meditation, I found the whole of Mahima say it with me in reverberation. Thinking of it gives me goosebumps even now. If Mahima does not move you in any other way, at least the size will! It is HUGE!!!

I found some time to hike around the paved grounds. As if I needed more solitude, I found myself walking to the main gate. This place is in the middle of nowhere. Seriously! The nearest road(the highway) is a good 30 min walk away. I cannot even dream of a better place to spend with myself. The place is mesmerized with silence. If I was reading a book or just contemplating with myself, no one would disturb me(and that is even after I made a lot of friends).

The program started off at 9pm. The course is Shoonya Meditation. Shakti Chalana Kriya & Surya Namaskar was also a part of this 3 day intensive program.

The next three days were a mixture of interesting, tiring, welcoming breaks, awesome raw food & lots of Sadhana. The whole process started growing into me. Waking up at 4.30am to attend the Guru pooja at 5.30am was something I started doing with utmost ease. Life made so much sense just being there.

Leaving IIIS was a mixed feeling. It so much felt like home by then. While I still wanted to stay there for a while, the mother in me wanted to see the daughter on the West coast. I had to go.
At the ATL airport, I could notice something very different. It was like the whole world was in one pace & I was just watching it all. I couldn't gel with things around me. I washed my eyes to look if my eyes were doing the trick. It took me a while to realize that I had slowed down so much.
My whole experience was very close to Neo's feeling in Matrix in different levels.

I have a long way to go before I perfect what I have learnt so far, so may be no more programs. But this is the beginning of a long term lease I seemed to have signed with Isha.
My recent practices with Shoonya are so different from my experiences after IE. It is difficult to explain but maybe I can try after my 40 days.
Yesterday I was in the middle of a slight fever & a major sore throat/running nose. While every aching muscle would support my decision to not do my practices, I did it anyway. In aches & pains for sure. But after my practices, I only felt better. In so many ways. So, Yoga seems to really work.

Having visited IIIS, visiting the Yoga center in Coimbatore seems a distant, but definite possibility.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The way we think

Last weekend, we had to meet up with a couple of old-time friends who were on a visit from Chennai. We decided to meet up for brunch at a friend's place. And I volunteered to cook,, prepare most of the food. No guesses. I picked up some raw food recipes from our very own traditional "Taste of Isha". I warned all of them that the food was going to be raw & natural. Healthy for sure. Tasty...depending on what their tastes were like. G warned me as the people for whom I was cooking were pretty conservative in their ways of eating, except one.
I could say with guarantee that not all of them liked the food they ate, though it tasted fine for my family(including my daughter who just loves the beetroot salad). It did not bother me much because I did not have any expectation. But I had zero guilt since what I made was 100% healthy.
Later, a friend was talking about eating chocolates & he went, "I can eat all this food(& chocs) only for 5 more years. After that, I will get something; say BP or Sugar or Cholesterol". I knew he wouldn't buy it, but still chipped in.
"If you probably included this kind of food, maybe you won't get all those".

Even before I became associated with Isha I should say G was making effort to eat consciously(& he would tell me too). Probably that was a reason, me & G could accept Isha's food almost immediately.

This incident made me think. Obviously people know that raw food is healthier. But they were not ready to accept it because they did not like the taste. Or maybe they just got so used to what they ate for so long.
They'd rather eat, what they ate so long, for the rest of their lives & take a handful of pills, rather than probably change a little & live healthy(most likely).
Most of them probably had 30 yrs or more to live(if all went well), but they'd rather not take their life in their hands.

Now, this was the first time they saw such food, so I should probably not expect too much from them. After all, rejecting to anything alien is human tendency.

This incident will in no way stop me from introducing healthy food to everyone I meet but if I start thinking deeply about our tendencies, I should say it is pretty alarming.

Of course, another friend came home later in the day & she simply loved all the salads.
So, in all, the day went well.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I plead guilty

Long long ago, so long ago, I saw a movie called Speed(maybe when I was in India). I liked the lead actors in the movie, no doubt. Though I was following Neo closely, I came across Miss Congeniality so much later, say a couple years ago. The person that I am has never believed in being a fan or the likes(except when I was at school-crazy age, you see).
I love Julia Roberts as an actor. I can watch any movie of hers. But Bullock, maan. She is awesome. Her comedy timing is simply impeccable. I found myself laughing like crazy yesterday when I brought a copy of Miss Congeniality 2. I know the movie did not do very well. Who cares? I've never. Last week, I found myself laughing forgetting even who was sitting next to me. That was while watching "The Proposal". Initially, I wanted to watch the movie when I read that part of the movie was shot in Alaska. But the movie is totally hilarious. Sandra Bullock fits the role to the '.'
In fact most actors do.
I might find myself crazy for having written this in a couple of years. I still do not believe in the theory of being a "fan", but if that's what you call it, so be it.

Thanks to G for having introduced me to English movies. I always thought watching English movies in India was geeky. And yeah, I thought he was geeky too. And now, me?
Actually, now some people consider me as "geeky"(for want of another word). Seriously, I haven't watched an Indian movie since Jodha Akbar(you know how it works- only the good ones) & haven't watched a Tamil movie since Ghajini. But I do borrow old Tamil movies from the library. So that doesn't count.

But seriously, I don't know if it is the age factor or my tolerance. Even when i was in India, I just could not sit in front of the TV(mostly due to lack of time, on other times due to lack of good stuff to watch) & ended up watching reruns of "The crocodile hunter".
I am not up-to-date with the English movies here, but try to watch good ones whenever we can. I would call the movies I watch as pure entertainment. Unfortunately, I wouldn't say so about most of the Indian movies being made.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Falling down & feeling happy

My dream come true. I've wanted to skate ever since I was 15. I should've tended to it long ago. Nevertheless, me & G signed up for adult skating classes & thoroughly enjoyed the process.
I wasn't even sure if I would be able to get up with the skates on. The instructors were pretty neat & there was someone to check on me every now & then. Otherwise, it was the usual exercise around the wall. I fell hard a couple of times(though I was taught how to fall gracefully, never seemed to use it when time came). It actually did not hurt as much as I thought. I had so many people ask me if I was doing ok(which made me think, "Doesn't everyone fall in the beginning?"). I fell. And I didn't care about it. I was skating. Fumbling, yes. But still skating. It meant everything. A childhood dream come true. We plan to continue the classes for a couple more weeks until I can actually skate. It might be too early to try the ice rinks in SF or San Jose for this winter, but we are a step closer to that than we were earlier.
Here is where we are taking classes.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Just read this in the news. So painful!
Can a mother do such a thing? Beats me!
My sympathies with the boy who survived.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Magnetic North

I'd read this book a while ago but not sure if I wrote about it.
As always, we were travelling(I don't remember where-maybe Alaska) & I picked up this book attracted by the name. I had no idea it was non fiction.
So, I just started reading the book hoping to just browse & just drop it back(I had so much planning to do for my actual trip).
Turned out that for 2-3 days all I ever did was read the book. Thankfully, I had leftovers & did not bother eating much anyway. When I was not reading, I loyally left the book beside me. Next to me while I ate, slept. You won't believe...I even took it to the restroom with me(I have this tradition only with J K Rowling's Harry Potter series!!!).
This book narrates a young man's adventure & quest for the wild that Canada was. When he was at college, all he wanted to do was travel across the mighty country that we call Canada all by foot, canoe & dogsled. So, when he dropped out of school, he started his mission with 5 others who dropped out in just a couple hundred miles of the journey. In the journey of a couple thousand miles over 2 years, he got 2 friends, one a photographer & hiker who saved his life once & a dog that almost died waiting for his almost dead self to come back for him.
It is a page turner & definitely a life changer at least at some level. It also depicts how wild & fierce nature is. Humans should feel humiliated!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Has there been any moment when it has snowed every moment? It could be somewhere, anywhere in this world.
If yes, would that mean that it snows every moment on some part of earth?

Wonder why I thought of this while folding my laundry, huh??

Monday, October 26, 2009

Isha Yoga

Though I knew it, one of our family brought it to light that it has been a long time I posted here.
I'd love to say that the last few weeks were pretty hectic & I just couldn't find time to write something here. Not so! The last few weeks have been totally different. I've had the time to do so many things that were in my "to do" list for a long time. Thanks to better management of time & sleep. The secret: a seven day yoga program.
A very close friend forced me to join this course. I was hesitant & skeptical. I was not sure I was up for the 30 min twice a day commitment(40 days). I have a toddler & I really toggle between her & other work at home already. Plus what big change would come?
But somehow, I registered for this class. Since I read somewhere that they give discount for married couples, I brought G in too(though the main reason would be to make sure I get through the 40 days).
From the day I registered till the 1st day at class, this was the place I was most of the time. I checked out all their videos on Youtube. This person, Jaggi Vasudev, has his headquarters in Coimbatore. He speaks impeccable English, is seen in a very pretty outfit, wears Jeans & sunglasses & he calls himself a mystic(well! people call him that too).
No need to mention that I was extremely intrigued by what I saw & was totally excited the first day of class.
Btw, the program is Inner Engineering. And it happened in Bay area, not too far from home.
So, on September 9th I enter India Community Center. The place is buzzing. People dropping off kids for classes, some parents picking up kids from daycare, an indoor Dosa place catering to people's appetite & so many other things.
I look up Isha Yoga signs & get into this hall. I was aghast. The place was in total SILENCE. Extremely organized! Even the shoes were in order. The Volunteers looked to me like they were from outer space. They did not talk. They only whispered. Registration, payment, forms filling...everything was in silence. You ask them a question, they lovingly whisper the answer. For a person who talks a lot, I was totally put to shame.

I enter the hall & a lovely meditation music was going on. It made me rock(in peace) for the little while I was there. So, when I opened my eyes, the teacher was in front of the mic. She was neither Indian nor American. I should say I was getting excited. What is this? Actually, what IS this?

What went on for the next seven days is history. My history! As I do not plan on living like that anymore. At the end of seven days, I left the place as a confused living being. The question, "Who am I?" was touched in the class but they did not give an answer. Sadhguru said he could say something, but it is a fairy tale until I experience it for myself. Hmm. Makes total sense to me.

I should say seven days flew by. In fact something in me wished it was a 10 day program. Meaning to say, I cannot thank my friend enough for making me attend this course. And ever thanks to my mother who took care of our toddler while we were at the class.

The day after class was the first of our 40 days. We had to do the Shambhavi Maha Mudra twice a day for 40 days. The process takes roughly 30 minutes including the preparatory asanas.

I wanted a discipline & I got it. So, I did not think much would come from it. But I did it. The first 2-3 weeks nothing much happened, except that I was able to sit it one place for 30-35 minutes without my leg getting numb & my spine erect. For a person with back pain, that is something. And my sleep quote reduced dramatically. Say 5 hrs of sleep & I would not complain. In fact I would wake up with full of life. G noticed this as well.

But by the 3rd week, I began to notice something. I had not gotten angry in a long time. I was able to handle my daughter with so much love. The 'thing' in me that would get irritated when she would refuse to sleep "when I want" was not there anymore. And my daughter seemed to understand "that" something was missing & she did sleep on time.
I was able to handle things much more efficiently & I was active throughout the day. Never once did I feel drowsy or sleepy.
I am able to live life with my daughter every moment. I am able to notice every plane that flies above my home. I am not merely existing anymore. I feel alive.

It is almost 40 days now, but I plan to continue doing Shambhavi twice a day. I don't know what it does, but I am sure a day will not be the same without it.
I have enrolled in an advance program next month which is going to take 45 minutes(twice a day) for 40 days. That's a lot, time-wise. But I am sure I want to.

My sleep quota has reduced, but when I sleep, I have a very deep sleep. I no longer turn this side or that. I am full of positive energy & have started believing in Karma. My back pain has reduced drastically(read I cancelled my appointment with my doc), though it is not gone yet. But hey, it is a lot for just 40 days of practice. Some friends mentioned that they have quit eating meat.
And did I mention I lost 6 lbs in these 40 days? I am heading back to my pre-pregnancy weight & I feel so much lighter already.

I had my share of being a 'believer' , 'atheist' , 'neither of the two' , ...somewhat uncomfortable labeling myself. Now, I feel very safe labeling myself as a "seeker". I do not know so many things. I am not ready to believe anything on its face value, just because someone tells me but I am ready to search. I even know where to search. How cool is that?

In the last 40 days, I even had a chance to volunteer for a similar program & was astounded to see how these people prepare food. Of course, they prepare uncooked delicious food, but they "chant" while they cook. Since when did cooking food become so wonderful? I felt so gifted to even eat that food.
I am not sure if I am a part of a cult. I have not met Sadhguru in person. I am not sure whatever I am feeling now is THE truth, but I am not worried about it anymore. I will see where I land from here.

Sadhguru says that a Guru finds his disciple. I don't even know if he is my Guru, but if you are a seeker like me, please attend the free 1 hr session. You don't even have the obligation to join the class. It is life-changing!
If not anything, please do consider donating your time or money to this organization. Looks like they really would put it to good use with their rural rejuvenation projects.

Friday, June 05, 2009

General Random Rant

Seriously, why don't some people allow some other people to live peacefully??????

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Encounter with an Old Indian Man

Yesterday, I was on my usual walk with the little one. Everything was as usual. Little one was being curious george, I was trying to manage her, said hi to a couple people on the road, smiled at some, crossed El Camino. Everything was as usual until now.
So, I met an old man, er, an old Indian man. Like at others, I smiled at him as he was passing by me. He returned my smile. I was to continue my way when:

Old Indian Man(OIM): Where are you from?
Me to him(MTH): Chennai.
Me to myself(MTM): uh-oh!

OIM: Oh. Chennai a? Tamizha? Where in Chennai?
MTH: I gave him the location.

OIM: Anga enga?
MTH: Gave him the exact location.

OIM: Naanga Chennai thaan. Ana settled in Bombay for 22 years.
MTH: o ho.
MTM: na ketena?

OIM: Kalyanam acha?
MTH: yes
MTM: pakathu veetu kozhanthaya stroller le thallindu varen

OIM: Evlo varsham? 2-3 years?
MTH: 5 years.

OIM: Oh. 5 yrs acha? Chinna kozhanthaya iruke, 2-3 yrs irukumonu keten.
MTH: :-)

OIM: Ponna payyana?
MTH: Ponnu

OIM: enna vayasu?
MTH: one

OIM: Adikadi India poviya?
MTH: ippo thaan poitu vanthen. Ayushomamku.

OIM: Enna Brahmin a?
MTH: mmm

OIM: Ayushomamnu solracheye kandupudichen.
MTM: romba mukkiam

OIM: Ellarum pant potukareengala, athunala theriyala.
MTH: :-)

OIM: unga veetlernthu varuvala adikadi?
MTH: yes.
MTM: Next time ava varathe vanthu pakarela?

OIM: Inga enga veedu?
MTH: Inga thaan. Pakathle.
MTM: address kudukatuma?

OIM: Husband enga work panrar?
MTH: sonen
MTM: therinju enna salary jasti vangi kuduka porela?

OIM: Nee work panriya?
MTH: Illa. Home maker thaan.

OIM: Oh. ho. Amam. kozhanthaya pathukanum le. Husband late a varuvaro?
MTH: Illa, vara samayam thaan.

OIM: Na inga thaan iruken. Usual a my sons will take me for a walk. Iniku naane kalambiten. Walk varathu nallathu thaane.

OIM: un per enna?
MTH: gave my name

OIM: Enaku 6 sisters. The last one's name is the same as yours.
MTH: :-)
MTM: ithu eppo mudiyumo

MTH: Sari, I think I will carry on. Time achu.
OIM: ok ma.

...Thirumbi pakama odi poiten...

All this in a span of less than 5 minutes. Way big a questionnaire.
I hope he got all the answers he wanted. He should've had a peaceful walk back home.

Next time, I will think 5 times before saying hi or smiling at an Old Indian Man.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Nostalgia???....NO NOSTALGIA!!!

I am currently in the home country for a supposed vacation. But here, home country no more feels like home & no need to mention there is no vacation.
On the bright side, my daughter turned ONE here, with all friends & relatives closeby.

Things have changed here in Chennai. Less than a million people mentioned that to me which I refused to believe. Even worse, I was imagining the Chennai when I was a kid. I remember those days when I used to visit the temple next door with my neighbor everyday, especially on Exam days!
When I went to work, I worked on the afternoon shift. So, I don't much remember the crowd or heat as I was in Tidel Park most of the times. On other times, I would go to my destination & be back home on my loyal Scooty.
Now, it is a different story. I don't have my loyal friend around. So, I rely on the currently famous "call-taxi". It does the job. It has not created a hole in my wallet, but I can feel the heat. But it is inevitable. I have a one year old that has not yet had her 1 yr shot. I have no intentions of pushing her into a vulnerable situation. So, my recent friend, "an AC call fact, anything AC". Well, she is not in the AC all the time, so, she does manage to get some fresh air in my quiet home in the heart of the city[:)].
Anyways, the reason I wanted to jab a few here was to mention the evolutionary changes the city & people have undergone. Something big has happened in the last 3 yrs. I don't know. More people seemed to have jumped from Mars or some other Galaxy. They are not from here. They look different. They have funny hairstyles, not to mention hair color. All of them carry cell phones that ring crazy tunes. Some from our planet have that too. They all appear to have a lot of money. They spend money on "ripping songs from a CD to their cell phones"(there is a shop to get that done, ugh). Some people simply refuse to talk in their mother tongue. I ask them something in Tamil. They reply strictly in English.

Coming to the place as such, Singara Chennai is now a city of fly-overs. many of them!!!
But some of them(not all) have actually aided in the flow of traffic. Some have obviously crippled the already existing space.
But what needs to be done needs to be done. And things are happening. But, i just realized something. Whatever infrastructure is given, you can take it with what you know.
Some of the roads are definitely getting better.
I see many more flyovers on the coming.
A bank with 4 people take care of more than 200 people a day.
There are so many people everywhere. No privacy or no "my space" concept. Well, you might say I expect privacy as a right from being in the US. But no. I don't remember Chennai being so crowded when I was little. So much has changed in the last 10 years. The numbers have increased: the people, the cars on the road, the two-wheelers, the pollution, the noise, the crowd at temples.
But I am surprised at the cool breeze that hits me in the evenings. It is so welcome. I admire the temple gopuram. But the telephone & cable wires that obstruct its true glory, not so much.

Cell phone is the most affordable "friend" today. Chennai is marching rapidly toward the West.
Ladies are definitely dressing more unconventionally, but men are still perverts. What pleasure they get out of eve-teasing or singing a song at a me sure!

I wanted to write a short post. But have blabbered quite a bit.
In short, I did not expect to find the place I am in today, but I would still label it "liveable".
People are still friendly & helping.
There are many instances that have touched me or have made me think.
I am doing things that I would not have done otherwise.
I am empathizing more. I feel poverty more & strongly feel I need to do something about it at least in my own sphere.

I can never forget the four kids that were behind me & my family at Vaitheeswaran Koil when we were there to get S's head shaved. I got them food, alright. But, they would have to depend on someone else for the next day or the days to follow, UNTIL someone does something.
It got me & my hubby thinking. We had just tended to their basic need for one meal. How do we end poverty? Education & civilization was the only answer we came up with!
*heavy heart*

Friday, March 06, 2009

India needs more people with a mission

"However being here, it is ever-so-clear that India is desperate for more people with a mission in mind. The country sorely needs to restructure its education system. The environmental situation here is dire- in our opinion, un-recoverable. The health care system is awful, child labor is still permitted, millions of people are homeless or live in tent cities. Clean water only comes in bottles which are far too costly for the locals to purchase. AIDS, leprosy, and Tuberculosis are as common as a cold. Yes, India certainly needs more people with a mission."

taken from here.

If these people want a better India, shouldn't we?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I had a walk, a good walk I had

I had a 11.45 appointment. After that, I fed little S her veggies. She had her yogurt & we went for a walk. The weather was gloomy. But I seldom expected her to go to sleep. But then, what is in your hand? So, not having the heart to wake her & hoping it would be a short nap, I started to walk. The weather seemed pleasant to me. Why waste it? I should've covered a mile or so when I saw a big board that read "Sidewalk closed". But there was space & I squeezed in. But a couple yards later, I see the same sign. But no space to squeeze through. I was going for a walk. Where I walk hardly mattered. So, I made a U turn & started walking in another direction. I heard someone whistle or someone holler. I looked back & an elderly worker signalled me to come right ahead. So, I turned back. He took out every cone that was blocking the way so that my stroller could pass right through.
I did thank every guy out there for letting me through. But they didn't have to. They were in the middle of something.
This elderly worker got a "Oh! how sweet of you" from me. He retorted back, "Oh. Thank you. It's a wonderful day now"
That kind of kindness is something you don't come across everyday. If you do, you are blessed.
Let's pass som kindness along, shall we?

Life after

Hubby lost his thatha recently. Hubby had high regards for him since childhood. He still remembers the walk-to-the-beach they had when he was in kindergarten.
I was not fortunate enough to know him well.
But when I was putting the little one to sleep last night, I was wondering where has thatha gone?
In other words, what happens after our life here?
Just thinking, you know....
So happens. Hubby comes home. And he shares similar thoughts.

And it also means to me...our life comes to and end "without notice". Thatha slept last night. Did not wake up.
I mean, there are so many people close to us. How many people are we ready to give up?
Well, me not ready to lose some people at all. But then, who am I to decide?

Life is just that.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

On news
And I worried about not going to India in the last 2 yrs... pfff.