A Painting by my Sister: Rekha, a Famous Indian Actress

A Painting by my Sister: Rekha, a Famous Indian Actress
A Painting by my Sister: Rekha, a Famous Indian Actress
Welcome!! Swagat, Dumela, Valkommen, Jee Aayan Noo, Tashreef, Bula, Swasdee, Bienvenido, Tashi Delek. Thanks for joining me.....

Friday, March 10, 2017

When the heart doesn't Smile

Stone by Stone: Connecting with the divine
Prayer stones. Ayuthaya, Thailand

From nowhere sadness and an emptiness appears. Does it descend from above, or ascend from within?  It hangs like an overcooked egg white does in a soup.  Its amorphous,and yet  you know it by what it feels like.  Strong, pointed edges, as if it was created to tear you.

But, let there be no mistake.  Pain, is very real and usually welcome.  It making us realise our human condition in most raw of ways.  

Carl Jung had said, 'there is no birth of consciousness, without pain.  Embrace your sorrow (pain), there your soul will grow'

The best use of this strange feeling --is to remember how it feels and/but help others rise above it. In that service, our pain turns into peace.  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Copenhagen, Happy Hour and Free Hugs

Copenhagen, 2013

I have been to Copenhagen twice, and both times I stayed at the same hostel.  Nice, clean and very close to the train station. Copenhagen is about 7 hrs from here, but only 45 minutes train ride from Malmö, Sweden, where I have been for conferences etc.

The issue with hostels is that rooms can be quite crammed so one has to spend time in the lounge, which is usually very loud.  

Usually, I will still stay in the room and read. But this one time I did spend an hour at the 'happy hour'.   This fee hug thing fascinates me.  It is very interesting.  I come from quite a 'huggy' community and family in general. But free hugs??  They feel good, for sure.  But are they also a response to the fact that people are living alone, and not really connected with each other?

Here at the department, I have two very close friends. One from Spain and One from Kenya, every time they see me, and that can be several times a week, they hug me.  It is such a beautiful feeling.  It is often strange for those around us.  But I so enjoy the warmth.  Both of them took a class or two with me and both are now PhD students.  Also, both of them have been collaborators in publications. While I think free hugs are great, nice and beautiful concept, I think it is better to have friends you have known a long time, make a tradition of hugging each other ---and more than often.  

But still, that evening in Copenhagen, amid the evening buzz, and laughter during the dinner, to free hugs did bring smile and warmth to many. 
PS: the book reading is on, and I will share more when I have the time to type some excerpts from the book.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Reading to Share: You Do Know!!

Reading the Menu: Aythaya, Thailand, 2011

The last post needs much explaining. And that will come in the following posts. The post that talked about how I have been working on a new beginning might have seemed like it was a complaint, or making myself look better, or as a 'friend' used to say, 'expose your martyrdom'. 

Far from it.

It was what it said. New Beginnings!

The pain that I carried has been going on since I left home.  And since I was still very young, younger than even my years because I lived a simple life and had never lived away from my parents, and held a very pollyannaish view of and attitude towards the world, to recognise that living without 'an aware strategy' can lead to unnecessary pain, which could be avoided by some structure. 

I have written several posts about it, just never published them.

One post got to be nearly 20 pages long--over a period of four years. Still one of the best written posts.  But I decided not to publish it here.

However, I will share a poem here that I quoted in that post, by Kumar Vishwas, a hindi poet, I discovered only a few years ago.

Woh joh kehta tha jaan de doonga
Jaan de di
Nahin aaaya

The one who had
Promised to lay his/her life
For me
Did not even show up
When I was at (my) death-bed

Khushk aakhon meri
Jhank ke usne poocha
Aur kaise ho?

Once he/she looked into
My dry eyes
And asked, ‘So, how are you?”

Dard itna zalil ho kar
Mera kandhe pe sar nahin

Pain felt so humiliated
That my head
Refused to
Rest on my

Own shoulder

The poem fit very well, for what i went through in trying to understand the nature of the world.   The main problem was that I was away from any kind of support system.  There was no interaction with anyone who was truly looking out for me.  

And I, in my naive view of the world, thought putting energy into people who I loved deeply would earn me a support system.  Isn't that how communities are made? 

Ofcourse, none of it was conscious. I mean, I was NOT engaged in giving with an idea of getting.  It was done because it brought me joy, as I saw my parents do the same thing.  With one major difference.

My parents were a part of a stable community, where the support was to and fro.  For the most part. I still think, my parents gave much more than they took.  However, when they celebrated other people's children, other people, celebrated us, if my parents were constantly busy hosting dinners, several times we got invited.  And I cannot even remember the weddings that we got invited to.  There must have been at least 20 every year, if not more. There were were Jagratas, the prayers that last 24 hrs, you sing through the night.  Or Ramayana Paths, again, 24 hr recital of the prayers. There was an ongoing, continuous celebration of life, connecting several generations and we were born into relationships of many generations. 

I did not notice or think about this, until years later, and after about 200 gallons of tears !! Here I have to smile, as I look back. I hug my younger self, when I think of it, in my own way erasing her pain. 

There needs to be an entire post of on what it does to your 'astitva' --sanskrit word for 'existence' or 'identity' when you are not a part of a community. 

Especially because even though I was very young in my outlook towards the world and in years, I was quite wise and 'mother-like'

Even when people were only a few years younger, I took pleasure in looking after others.  I remember when I was in fifth grade, I would not always play with my classmates but help out the third graders who were fighting over swings during the recess (lunch break). 

I can count the number of people, other than my immediate family, who were truly caring. (Each one of those is going to get a post, some of them already have).  '


This is about how I suppressed my inner knowing. My own intuition, that told me that I had spread myself, too thin, too wide, among too many people, to who I would not mean much once we had nothing left in common, --e.g. work, location, project, or in some cases town. 

I have always been very intuitive. I want to emphasise ALWAYS.  I have a feeling of what kind of relationship I will have with people when I meet them. But I have ignored it for the most part of my life. 

Yet, I let the pollyanish way of looking at the world take over.

And whenever I got hurt, i kept thinking I can 'change someone through love'.  I had read a short story as a child, 'killing the meanness in someone with love in your heart.'. 


There is truly no need to take that burden.  NO NEED.

And if you do, you cannot blame others.  Take responsibility for your hurt, and apologize to yourself. Because no one else, but you yourself hurt yourself. No-one, but you!!  

Just a few days ago, I started reading a book I had downloaded on my book reader a while ago.


And so much is becoming clear as I read. 

And, what I have decided is, that --time permitting, I will share notes from the book here. And start a series on Reading to Share

Here is an excerpt for today:

'One of my patterns is seeing the good in other people and thinking that I can help them by loving them into change.  Often I can see that their wall of self-protection, which causes them to lie or cheat, is due to bad experiences in their past.  My belief is that I can show them a new world. Unfortunately, they tend do show me their world.  It can take you longer to find lost faith than it can to find a new friend or partner.  Your faith is valuable and too precious to lose. Help people, but only on the outside of your safe container. For me, that means as clients and not as friends.'

For me, it should have meant keeping students as students, rather than thinking of them as family or friends, as I did for many years, but especially in Fiji.  And considering many were Indians I thought that commonality meant longevity in relationships.  But....aaaaah......I had so much to learn.  I lost my faith (as I have written else where many of my students in Sweden restored that, and it took, nearly five years). 

For a long time now, I have been working without any faith in a world that would care for me, because it had given me enough evidence that it won't care for me.  I got stuck in a fearful mode.  

As a result, I gave up on myself.  This last year of sick leave made me see so much clarity.  Even those 'friends' I told about my sick leave, hardly wrote or called.  And then people I have not seen for years, would write and connect on a regular basis through what is considered painful today 'long emails' and kept me company, even when things were falling apart in their own lives.

It it those who I owe my loyalty and love to. 

But as I end this post.  I want to share that I seriously think that most of my problems started when i stopped reading Swami Vivekananda's works.  I had first read his works when I participated in an elocution contest (Rama Krishna Mission) at age 11. The following two years I would win books as awards for my presentation (1st and 2nd prize in English and Hindi respectively).  The books lay in a sorry state on the book shelf for the next few years.  But when I left home, I carried two of those books with me. From then till about I was 25, I read his entire works, back and forth. I would check out his entire works from the library for an entire semester and just read it all the time, and repeatedly.  And I carried myself with a sense of purpose and security--a direct result of the readings.  The first time I finished an entire piece by him, I was living in Botswana, in a remote village, often afraid to leave home even in the middle of the day, since it was so lonely (seemed deserted is a more fitting phrase).  Imagine how it was for a young girl from Delhi, a city of 6 million that never knew silence or solitude. 

But, that sunday afternoon, after having read Swamiji's works, I felt a stirring in me, a strength that I could not name but only felt.  I walked out and went for a long walk--without fear.  

That security would give me strength to hop continents and do everything alone, while all the girls my age were running after or with boys.

Often my strength and confidence would surprise me!!  But a few set backs and a lack of connection with Swamiji's works (I thought I had read it all and did not need to read it again) and I lost my balance, and kept loosing it.  But what I did not give up on was my need to love others and make others feel special. It brought so much joy.

I continued with much gusto in sending handmade cards, long letters, long distance and overseas phone calls, until a few years ago.  And then sometime hit.  As if, my well had dried, I felt empty. 

It was my last year in Fiji, when I started to say, 'there is something wrong with me. I am not ok, something is amiss.'. I had stopped to feel. I felt like a piece of wood with dry rot.  Crying was a relief, because I felt something. And this is a person who was known for her boisterous laughter.  When I laughed the birds chirped back, I clapped my hands and nodded my head.  My mom would always say, 'stop it, its silly.'

It took series of break downs--one after the other, and a complete lack of community --even though I have truly dear friends in this place, and have never had an academic community before, not like the way I have it here--to realize that I had left myself behind, and my soul has been fragmented. 

This year, my resolution is to put myself together. Other things will continue and will happen.  But I need to rebuild myself.

Why?  Because my intuition told me a long time ago that i had some special work to do here.  And I cannot get to it until I am together.

I cannot rely on anyone to piece me back either. It is my work. 

But I need to remove the clutter. Its going to be painful.  You know like removing a splinter. But letting it be there inside of you can cause infection.

As I do this, I will share different books and articles that I will read. 


Swami Vivekananda!