Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Open windows and open minds

If you meet someone
If a question is asked
If a book comes into your hand
If you happen to read a forward
There is a purpose in it.

What's the point of talking to person, reading a book, listening to a TED talk if all the while I am thinking
You don't look too smart
I know this.
I've heard that before.
The same thing happened to me.
Waste of time.

Let me open that window. The breeze however slight - refreshes!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Its crooked but it's neat?

An ashtotra is a list of 108 names for the chosen Lord. I am chanting the Vinayaka ashtotra. 
I see that the sages have lovingly inserted names like
The Single tusked one
The one with a pot belly
One with pointed ears
One who rides on a mouse

It's like saying. I know you are at times silly, and at times quite strange.
Well, I have my quirks too. I like you with all your quirks.
So help me Lord ...
To like me with all my quirks. 
To like people with all their quirks.

tedha hai par mera hai ... eh?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Our boxer's eyes

Our BOXER wears a coat of dark brown with open lapels, a spotless white shirt underneath and matching white socks.
He sits with his head up, his large brown eyes look back into mine. His eyes glow in complete faith's almost spiritual! Makes me feel ... er ... Hello..I am not thaaat good.
I am on the sofa with a book and I see a wicked glint in his eyes. Before I can react he has an edge of my sari in a tight jaw-clench. He gives it a hard tug ... and I go No maxiii no ... trying desperately to be stern.
He has a favourite toy. Our boy ignores the squeaky ducks and chicks and goes ardently at the cardboard roll from a used tissue pack.
I play peek-a-boo with the cardboard and his eyes dart here and there. Waiting to pounce on it.
And when I finally throw it at a distance, his eyes sparkle as he races towards it.
The cardboard rolls away at a mere touch. Our boy thinks the cardboard-roll attacks! So he retreats, crouches low, narrows his eyes and aims at it.... A surprise pounce-attack! ... and this time the cardboard cannot get away. It is held in a firm grip between the paws!
To tease him S makes the growling noises of an adult dog. Poor Maxi is petrified. His eyes cloud and he seeks refuge behind S's legs.
His green ball is under the low glass table. He pounces on to the table but cannot get the ball! The look of confusion in his eyes is so hilarious.

But today I don't see any of this. His gums are hurting. He is teething. His eyes have an empty look. He prefers to sleep quietly in his space. The vet says he will be fine. Just allow him to sleep.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Rear right turn signal is blinking

A blinking rear right turn signal in the car in front of you is a commitment. This means the car turns right.
cars on the road

Commitment and Conviction - A commitment is a decision expressed today, that promises action in the future. A commitment ensures predictability. A conviction is an unshakable belief in something without need for proof. An opinion.

All is fine when commitment made and conviction held, lead me down the same path. But with me, sometimes commitment says aage se right and conviction says aage se left. Does that happen with you too? Imagine this:

  • You buy matinee tickets but later learn that the movie is a yawn or maybe a gory horror. 
  • You offer to drive your aunt to her cousin's house but later you suspect there is a problem with your car.
  • You have paid for a course in accountancy but half way through you realize that accountancy is not your calling.

Should you go ahead and complete what you began? Or should you break that commitment made? Should you suffer 3 hours of the movie just because money has been spent on it? I think it is OK to opt out and do 'something else' as long as there is a definite 'something else' lined up. Only opting out should not result in inaction.
Go ahead and waste that movie ticket if you choose instead to take your kids to the zoo.
Go ahead and cancel that drive with aunt if you can rent her favourite movie and watch it with her.
Go ahead and discontinue that course if you know what you wish to learn instead....and learn that.

But do keep a tab on how often the tail lights of your car blink right turn ... and you turn left!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sweat that small stuff

A small sized bakery store - and a lesson in living
There is a small bakery in RR Nagar of Bangalore. He makes the most delicious palya-buns.

It is evening. There is a slight drizzle. The weather is just right for hot palya-buns and tea. What do you say? My sister and I nod together in total agreement and step over shallow puddles to the bakery.
Two palya buns, we say.
A speeding car screeches to a halt right behind us. A perfumed young lady, with a swaying handbag rushes to the bakery ... 7 palya buns and 200g benne-biscuit she says ... tapping on the glass counter impatiently.
She is in a hurry.
We are annoyed. But we don't mind waiting. This is a big order for the bakery.
The man picks up a paper bag.
Bega...Quickly ... the lady drums on the glass counter ... 7 palya buns and 200g benne-biscuit she repeats.
The man gently places two palya buns into the paper bag. Seals it with scotch-tape. And hands it over to us.
The lady is seeing red. Are you mad? She asks. Pack my order first.
We give him a hundred rupee note. The man ignores her completely. And counts out our change.
The lady swirls and walks away in disgust.
When he hands the change we tell him, the lady walked away in a huff. you lost a big order. We would have waited. We are in no hurry.

The man says: This is my bakery. You come first. I serve you first. I lose an order. No worry. I lose my dharma... I worry!
Madam, he explains. Your order for 2 buns is as important for you as her order of 7 buns is for her. For me all customers are important. She came after you. She must wait her turn.
Wah! What amazing business ethics.
And what amazing spirituality in business.

I suppose it is this accuracy to doing things the right-way, that makes his bakery products so tasty too.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Our boxer - first impression

Yesterday we brought home a 2 month brindle boxer, to be a member of our household. We ooohed and aaahed around him. Clicked a lot of pictures and clucked at his antics.
And reeled at his first smelly outburst.
The hard reality of having to potty train him hit us. We stay on the 14th floor of an apartment complex. So picture this: we are carrying him waiting for the lift, then we are holding him in the lift as it trundles to level-0, then we take him to the safe potty area.... accident can happen at any moment!! We are pondering over this situation and ...

Our stud yelps at us.
Oh! so cute. He wants attention... we drool.
So we sit on the floor with him and pass to&fro a paper ball that he chases with frenzy.

Again he yelps.
Now what? you are thirsty? we offer him more water
He laps it up and jumps around the hall. We laugh and clown around with him.

The guy yelps again.
We say okay. Cool off ... and the guy goes into a stance and relieves himself in a dark pile ... on the hall floor.

Yeow!... hey bhagwan! How do we potty train him? How will we know? We make a frantic phone call to the Pet Shop where we got the boxer. Kya saab. He says. You made him go in the house? Just take him out twice a day after his meal. He is potty trained. ...!!!

All the time our Maximus was thinking: Woof take me out. Oh you want to play? Okay. Woof take me out. Oh you are busy? Okay. Woof take me out. Well! never mind. Hall is OK if you insist. duh, funny people.
our brindle boxer pup

I was never a fan of even a neighbour's pup. And today I have a pup at home!
Now that I am drenched I have no fear of rain. Where is the poop bag?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Satyanarayana Puja

Satyanarayana Puja is performed as thanksgiving and beginning of a new dream. A wedding, a house warming, a special birthday, son completes education, entrance to an MS course in the US ... are new beginnings and hence occasions for  Satyanaraya Puja. Very much a Kannada Smartha celebration too.

Preparations begin days in advance. The Lord gets a specially designated and adorned place. Silverware comes out in all its glittery finesse. A kalasha on a silver plate filled with rice, represents Lord Vishnu. Jasmines, roses, dahlias and the over-powering sampige flowers fill up baskets. Fruits and coconuts are in abundance. Cooks come in the previous night. and the enticing aroma of sweets and spices pervade.
A purohit helps the couple perform the rituals.  The couple are sweaty in their new silks ... (and the fans are off for the diya-flame will flicker).
Friends and family pour into the house. There is chatter and movement and an anticipation of a full spread in a banana-leaf meal.The purohit continues through all the din with determined concentration and the couple complete the rituals in serious attention. A vigilant grandma watches out for any omissions on the part of the purohit or the couple!
An important part of this fulfilling day is the special prasad. Sapaada Bhakshya contains 5 elements perhaps to represent the 5 elements for life on earth?
Recipe - Sapaada-Bhakshya
Sooji - fine rava - 2 cups
Sugar - 2 cups
Ghee - 1 cup
Milk - 2 cups
Banana ripe - 5
Optional - raisins, elaichi powder, kesari
  • Cut banana to thin slices. Boil milk.
  • Roast rava with 2 tablespoons ghee. Add raisins to rava while roasting.
  • Pour in hot milk and cook over very low flame.
  • Add sugar, banana and ghee. Cook over low flame turning constantly.
  • Add flavours cover, take off flame and allow to cool. 
  • Take small handfull and roll into lemon size ball. The prasad is served as small balls. 
I attend a Satyanarayana Puja in my friend's house in Delhi. What a contrast! 
During the puja there is only close family and a few of us close friends... maybe just 10 in all. We are invited to sit around the havan and offer prayers along with the family. The puja takes 20 minutes. The purohit ties threads of blessing on wrists of whoever is interested. This is followed by a simple lunch.
kachori, poori, sooji halwa, two vegetable side dishes and a salad
And that's it.
Somehow for me, this puja made more sense. There is less fanfare and more love and relaxation. What a contrast to the tension ridden affairs of Bangalore!

Puja and Party
Are we mistaking one for the other? 


Saturday, August 11, 2012

The rebellious youngster

It's the 70s
I am cutting a kilo of veggies for the evening meal in the kitchen.The family and visiting cousins are in the hall. I hear laughter and chatter. I do the shocker. I lug veggies, cutting board and all and plonk myself where all the action is.
She has brought kitchen work into the hall... they laugh.
It was so easy to be different.

But look at youngsters today who take all the trouble to get
pants that almost slip off the hip
hair streaked in different colours
eyebrows pierced
and body tattoos
so as to be different, and find to their horror that they are really mainstream! (and then they go and suffer getting all that tattoo removed!!!)

Is it getting more and more difficult to be a rebel?
Imagine the plight of the adolescents of tomorrow ... if being a rebel is mainstream...
They would have to do something different ... and not rebel...

and the moms and dads of tomorrow will wail ... why can't my son shout and bang doors and walk out in a huff ... like normal teenagers of our time??!!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thanks to that loud bang ...

I was browsing through old photos and was lost in a train of sad thoughts when all of a sudden
the doors of the house upstairs banged shut
jerking me out of my thoughts

I got up with a purposeful jump, and set about house chores ...
and since I am not on any action that requires concentration ... my mind is jogging along at its own pace.
There is a huge gust of wind and the curtains knock down some cups ... harmlessly ... but what a clatter! And I ask myself ... hey when did that thought creep in? yes, the clatter plummets me into better action.

And so I am surfing the TV
..."thum kya dikhaoge? yeh? kwiku kwiku kwiku" goes my favourite Yatra ad
I pause to watch and slowly my mind drifts away
till a quarrelsome squirrel scolds me ...Kweeukweeukweeu... at my window
jerking me back from my mind's meander

The Universe conspires to keep me happy
The Universe conspires to jerk me away from negative thoughts

So friends when
a door bangs shut, a car honks, you drop something, an animal scurries past or the cell phone beeps
don't scowl!
Pay attention to the conversation in your head. The Universe is warning you like your digital navigator ... "You missed the turn. Steer to the right and take a U-turn"
aaah...back on track!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Ten things to do before sunset

Though we are constantly aware of Death, a visit from HIM is always a surprise. The loss of a loved one is unbearable and the turmoil in the thoughts of close family and friends can only be endured not explained.
But, life must go on. And an important part of life are the assets of the loved one who has moved on.
It is a huge blessing when the finances are in order and the assets easily managed.

I have seen a lot of wonderful families fall apart in pathetic disharmony just because death came before the person was ready for it.
Sometimes the families are in complete harmony but the legalities take a heavy toll of time and effort.

imagine this
sons in their 50s struggle with legalities as there is no will
wife cannot access the laptop as she does not know the password
husband has no clue there is a bank locker with gold jewellery in it
children do not know the account number of their single parent's bank accounts
dad's closest friend is not informed as no one knows his name

So here are ten things you need to do before sunset
  1. If you have immovable property, make a will. Register it with a tax consultant or a legal representative. If advisable, discuss it with your children. Preferably leave property to your spouse. Tell the family you have written a will and who it is with.  Redo the will every time you buy or sell immovable property.
  2. Ensure that bank accounts and fixed deposits are in the joint name with your spouse.
  3. If bank accounts or term deposits are in a single name, ensure that you have assigned a nominee for every single bank account and term deposit separately. Keep a hard copy of every term deposit you have made.
  4. If you have mutual funds/investments ensure that you name a nominee for every bond.
  5. If you have a bank locker, fill in the nominee form for the same. You can have multiple nominees for the locker. Inform your spouse or child about the locker.  Keep the key in a place that your spouse knows about.
  6. If you have a loan, insure your life to the amount so that the spouse and family are protected in case of need. Assign the premium payments to ECS facility at your bank so that the account is healthy and valid. Be sure to spell the nominee name as it is in their bank accounts.
  7. If you believe in eye donation etc, keep posters or badges at home that say so.
  8. If you have medical insurance keep it paid up and updated. Keep the card at a place that is easily accessible in time of need.
  9. Mail the following to yourself and your spouse (or any other reliable friend or relative)
    • scans of passport, pan card, driver's license,  IDs
    • important phone numbers and email IDs
    • contact details of most trusted friends
  10. Make a bucket list. Give ten minutes of exclusive attention to your loved ones. Laugh.
Take care of your loved ones, so they remain loved long after you. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cardiac symptoms we tend to ignore

The doctors can revive a failing heart, they can detect a murmur in the heart,
there are pacemakers to help the heart keep up the beat and
able surgeons use various techniques to help us live better, longer.
but the most important part of all this
is that we need to go to the doctor
in time
well yes, I do believe that Life and Death are beyond the control of man
yet I suggest that if a loved one has more than 3 of these symptoms at the same time ... do consult a cardiac specialist ... for a routine check up. We did not, and paid dearly for it.
These are symptoms...some the doctors suggested i put in... some i notice in hind-sight.

  • hands and feet exceptionally dry (we attributed it to the delhi winter)
  • stomach upset (we attributed it to eating out)
  • serious demeanor, not feel like talking (we attributed it to an important professional assignment) 
  • exceptional deep slumber at night (surely nothing to complain about?)
  • a general apathy or disinterest in whats happening around 
  • loss of weight 
  • avoid going for the walks/workouts/meets that one is used to
  • an unusual sense of confusion 

If you find more than 3 of these ...  go for a routine cardiac check up.
Have a great life.