Sunday, September 28, 2008
I had no idea that there was a panel that judged National Anthems..but something like that does exist, and its in the headlines these days that the Indian National Anthem has been judged the best. As Indians we are all proud of this fact..but am sure we dont need a panel to tell this to us. I might not be an authority on National Anthems but I can say without a doubt in my mind that each time the first notes of Jana Gana Mana float through the air, every Indian's heart soars with love, respect, pride and bonding to the motherland, such is the beauty of the composition. As a child it was just a song that had to be sung at the begining of each day in the school assembly..we most of the times never got the words right..but the tune even then kept us glued to the spot.
Now as I see my children singing it along with their peers, I often wonder do they feel what we felt while we sang the anthem? Does their heart surge with pride at the ebb and tide of each note? Do they picture the beauty of each state as visualized by the poet? Can they see the lofty peaks, the beautiful rivers, the bounty of nature..or do they just see a land which has lost its way? Ravaged by internal wars and terrorism, everchanging heads of state, Corruption and immoral politics, underpaid masses, record breaking inflation rates, a land which even their parents have given up on!!
We travel abroad and take our kids to the Swiss Alps for the summers, The USA, and The UK fight with The South East Asian countries for enlisting themselves into our travel plans..but as parents we never somehow plan a trip to Kaziranga, or say the temples of the south, we even keep the Taj Mahal on the back burner..saying.."Ohh we can do that anyday" But does that day ever come? definitely our children are citizens of the world..they need exposure, they need to know the different cultures all around the globe..but before that dont they need to know their country better? why not take them to Gujarat and show them how Amul revolutionalized the milk industry? Why dont we give them a chance of being proud of their heritage by showing them the robust farms of Punjab..Why dont we have the courage to take them to Kashmir and show them that this land is worth protecting with your life!! Each soldier standing in attention at the LOC definitely deserves a salute form each of our kids.
Left to the news channels all they will ever hear about our country is negetivity, its upto us, their parents, to point out the beauty of a nation thats still too young to be given up on.. Let them feel the splendour of our nation, to be able to feel proud of the National Anthem, to be able to relate to it, to willingly stand up in salute to a song they sing everyday at the begining of an assembly.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Parenting.. what does this term mean? The dictionary says “Parenting is the process of raising and educating a child from birth, or before, until adulthood”. Personally I feel as parents we fail to keep the process as simple as the definition.
Children enter our lives and fill it up with unsurpassed joy. They are the symbol of life’s longing for itself.. and we are just the channel that life chooses to bring forth this phenomenon. But we fail to grasp this and start to play God. The burden of our thoughts, prejudices and ambitions are thrust on playful shoulders .. believe me these are much heavier than any school bag a child might ever carry! We forget that each child is born to its own destiny ..and as parents we are a mere part of their journey. Isnt this a great feeling unto itself ? Why is there a need to mould an unsuspecting young mind into the cast of our expectations? Why can’t we enjoy witnessing the blooming of the bud unless we have tinkered with it and chained it to wires to give it the shape of our desire?
As a parent I keep forgetting the laws of evolution. As a rule the generation coming forth from us is more intelligent, more capable of surviving in the world to which it is born. Each time I look at my children I am filled with awe and mesmerized by how much there is to learn from them ..and yet the need of being indispensable in their lives is never far. I have to keep reminding myself that my duty towards my children begins and ends with providing them with the stability of a home and the ingrained faith that there isnt a wrong in this world which cannot be made right.
There is so much talk about Parenting these days and the topic is so over hyped that this precious experience has become a source of stress to many. If we could have the faith that each child is special then we could probably focus on enjoying the time we have with them ..for it is a short while before they learn to fly! And what could be more joyous than to see them soar and embrace the life they were chosen for?
Monday, September 22, 2008
Certain images stay in our minds forever. It could be a much loved face or an important day of our life or at times a picture captured by the mind's eye while travelling to faraway lands. It could also be an image formed while listening to a story being told to us as children. An image formed by a 5 year old while she listened in rapt attention about the fairies and goblins, about the chocolate house in a magical forest, about english teas with hot scones and buttered sandwiches and the neverending beanstalk, whatever these images maybe they fail to remain just so..When they come back to us in the present, they bring along with them the smell of that particular sheet we were under while grandma recited the stories for us, or the fragrance of the signature talc she used after her bath..or even the smell of the fear mixed with anticipation we had felt as we waited for our board results. All vivid, all personal, all as non-fictional as the person right in front of us.
One such image that I hold close to my heart is that of a rainy day. A lazy and langarous afternoon in a house by the sea. Cosy and warm.. in direct contrast to the downpour outside the window. The heavy rain blurring the landscape. The sea, the towering waves, the sky, The not so distant cliffs, the rain all becoming one to the eye. Sitting by the window in that house, with a cup of coffee, a book, some music and a loved one. The rains splashing the windows, the faraway glint of the lighthouse beckoning lost ships to safety, the laughter at a shared joke, and the smell of nescafe. An image of love, of comfort, of trust and sharing..an image of a 'happy place'.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I was born an only child to my parents in the year 1973 on an overcast day in July. It was not exactly the lap of luxury..but I was fortunate to have had a very comfortable upbringing. Maybe its a wee bit early to write about the 'early days'..but then there are certain facts that need to go on record for posterity..and one can never predict when memories start bordering on fantasy. So here goes..
As a child and a young adult my life was highly influenced by my Dad..so much so that, for me nothing existed beyond him. He was the axis around which my world rotated. My thoughts, impressions and the way I look at things even today is definitely rooted to this point of axis. Today as I acknowledge the importance of dad in shaping my thought process. I realise that my mother, by being just herself has inculcated in me whatever discipline I possess.
Having never had any siblings of my own..I was and still am very attached to my cousins..and as birds of the same feather flock together..I was naturally drawn towards one of them in particular, who is also incidentally my single male cousin from dad's side of the family.Needless to say, my teenage years were filled with shared visons of an idealistic world, dreams and flights of innocence. Holding onto him I treaded everywhere from thin ice to the deepest of woods, he gave me the courage of flight and the loudest pure laughter. I acknowledge here the very important influence of Mikidada in my life then and now.
At a very young age I lost my dad..it was an event that maybe I have not yet come to terms with in many ways, apparently things seem ok but if I travel within I know that there are layers that I refuse to look in the eye. At this juncture of insecurity and misplaced trusts..I was immensely fortunate to have Bablididi and Bikramda(famous as BDG to the IT industry)figure prominent in my life. The words that have in a way shaped me..are from Bikramda, "keep yourself so busy and occupied that you have no time to think , an idle mind is truly a devil's workshop" even then it didnt sound like a quote to me..coz I knew that my mind left idle can really be dangerously foolish. Those were very stimulating times especially for a small town girl thrust into the midst of the making and breaking of comapnies, and the founder of those very events as a personal guide and mentor.To have on one side this dynamic personality moulding me and on the other side the practical and inborn wisdom of bablididi..constantly nurturing and keeping my fears at bay..maybe this space is too small to acknowledge their love and continuous support to me..but it was important for me to put atleast something on paper.
At this very point My Uncle(my Dad's elder brother) and my Aunt also played a pivotal role..they have taught me that its ok to fall as long as you know how to get up and get going..also they have given me the faith that no matter what we do..we can never be beyond repair and beyond the love of our family..two very important lessons imbibed thru everyday gestures of love and care..I am so fortunate Kuttijethu amd Mejoma..for being there for me always..
The early days of paradise when threaten to crash down and fall like a heavy stone on the young and shaky shoulders of a girl..its only the family that can rescue the flight...thankyou and God Bless..I love you all
To look back and cherish - a place called home..a place that saw you grow from a precocious child to an adult and enjoyed all the phases in between.. a place full of friends, of laughter and tears, loss as well as victories.. of impulsive moves and secrets shared.. adventures and joyrides, rebuking and encouraging pats - a place we all leave behind..
We travel far and wide in search of our destinies and at times ridicule the peers who stay behind.. we are enamored by wealth, glamour, and the jet set world, and believe me, none of it is wrong.. and yet the best memories are always from back home.. Our minds and egos get satisfied (if ever they know the meaning of the word) as we reap the harvest of our hard work, but the soul's nourishment is from the fields we leave behind.
Does that mean we stand still? Not take a path of our desire and find a place under the sun that is rightfully ours? Definitely not..but the wings of our flight need to have the strength of our roots. Alex Haley, probably introduced us to this meaning of the word "Roots" and by now it has become quite a cliche.. we keep hearing of the European in search of his roots.. but this search is within all of us maybe in differing scales of priority.
As expatriates we all know that the best journey is always the journey home. The heart gets parched like the dessert sand over the year long wait and is only drenched in joy once the flight lands to the place of our origin..for a month we replenish stocks, get busy in buying things, refuelling our wardrobes and larders.. as we go about fulfilling our physical needs.. our inner eye is clicking away familiar landscapes now hurriedly passed by, but to be relived at leisure on the return flight.. Bitter sweet memories of Home is what we essentially carry back to see us through another year of deprivity.
Life goes on and we grow with it and follow paths that have been determined for us in an unknown script.. the strength always drawn from the reservoirs of purity and innocence of our roots. As we all know roots do not grow in a day or a year or even a few years..to live in a place and get to know it and develop a bond that is healthy and fertile takes time..most of us were lucky enough that our parents gave us that time..gave us a place to look back upon and smile..Are we doing that for our kids? are we giving them roots? In our strife towards material gains and prosperity at the shortest possible time are we sparing a thought towards the next generation.. "to look back and cherish..." a blank for them.. or a series of everlasting, nomadic journeys.. lots of mere acquaintances formed.. but no childhood friend..houses of brick and cement..but never a home to build memories on...is this our gift to our children? ..for just a few pennies more...
Its that time of the year again when most of India gears up for celebrating the 10 days of Navratri..Joyous dancing and fasting in Gujarat, where the nights come alive with the rythms of garba and dandiya.At the same time West Bengal welcomes Ma Durga and her children amidst her for six days and the entire state dances to the dhaki’s beat..What does it all mean to our generation? Is it really the rituals that we wait for with anticipation or is it just the fun and frolick..I guess its neither..
Festivals to me and my peers are more about social bonding..about coming together of generations, about revisiting old memories, about dressing up in fineries and pandal hopping..laughter, food gossip and the entire jing bang of festivity infused enthusiasm.I can confidently say for myself that the rituals do not interest me as much as the emotion of those days…I do not believe that God has to be appeased..but definitely the faith needs to be celebrated.
The faith that there is a power beyond understanding and reason..the faith that truth and goodness will ultimately prevail and also, however dark the night..it will eventually pass..is what makes us go through our daily grind. This faith cannot be a void, it needs a form that will endear it to us..what better image than that of a mother..for a country which is primarily nurtured by its farming soil.?
So the Goddess descends upon us for a few glorious days and is welcomed by all..the entire nation culminates into a melting point of culture and creativity. what better offering to the goddess than the best of our efforts. Children and adults alike in a riot of colours fill up the streets with gaiety, the aroma of food mixes with the scent of incense, flowers and sandal filling up our senses. For those few days we forget our sorrows and personal tribulations and join every other being in celebrating the Goddess amidst us.
There is nothing religious or ritualistic about this joy…It is the joyous acknowledgement of a deep rooted faith that tomorrow will be as good or even better than what today is or yesterday has been.