Power of Positive

A million smiles, warm sunshine, a beacon of hope, the ability to transform tears to joy… what else is the power of positive but to touch lives, alter its very course, to bring a spring in each step, house joy in each heart, spread happiness, instill confidence, create an agile and alert mind and give life a new dimension. Positivity- a force, a tornado that can catch you unawares, sweep you off your feet, and land you in a place never thought of. Being as powerful as it is, the journey riding high on positivity can be fraught with immense power, speed and sometimes mind boggling events… yet, the destination is as beautiful as beautiful can be.

Like it does to every single person on this planet, positivity came knocking at my door too. I barely creaked open the door and life has never been the same ever after. Positive thinking has been a mantra in our household… we’ve always believed that if you want something with all your heart, the entire universe conspires to make it happen- a thought that gained firm roots when I saw it work in my own life. It was 12 years ago on a warm summer evening, that this mantra was questioned, shaken and stirred by the raw energy and untamed force called positivity. “Eliminate the cause, the very root of negativity in us. Instead of rubbing the mind with a positive thought, go deep into yourself through the breath, through meditation, and cleaning the system,” He said. I never understood; lesser still did I want to implement. Yet, a mystic force kept me enraptured and the teachings found a way to weave themselves into my life.positive energy

Around me I saw visible transformations, street side goons turning into compassionate people, militants laying down arms, drug addicts turning a new leaf without the need of counselling or de-addiction centers and many more wanting to spread the smiles. I gaped in awe as I saw life gaining a new meaning for millions. Through it all, I was blissfully unaware of the makeover happening inside of me. I never really worked towards eliminating the root cause of the negative, yet, years of curdled stresses, fears and tensions were slowly and steadily making their way out of my system. I was smiling more, believing more, fretting less, more composed and definitely felt a peace pervade my very being. Then one day, the dark clouds of gloom made their way into my life, bright student I was, but I had hadn’t cleared a few exams. The first time in my life I encountered failure so harsh that I was on the verge of losing a year at college (and that’s almost criminal in the society I was brought up in).

In that moment, I introspected, looked back at my life and saw the transformation… here I was, in a situation where life as I knew it was shattered and all seemed lost. I, however, was far from flustered and depressed. I didn’t fervently rub a positive thought in my mind, I just knew that I would be taken care of, that eventually all would fall in place. Here was the transformation in me… it wasn’t just about thinking positive, it was about being positive and unknowingly that’s what I had become. At that moment I realized that positive was a force like none other, a force so powerful and unstoppable that you simply had to bow down and let it take charge of your life.

Positive had the power to root out insecurities from deep within, positive had the power to spread sunshine, positive had to the power to gift me an unshakable smile, positive had the power to uncover  itself in its glorious, shining armour within me… positive was the power my guru exuded. Positive was what my Master made me…

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One World. One Family.

Girish Nair cast a sweeping look at the blistering dessert spread out in front of him. It was a day for repairs. As a welding technician with Zait Corporation, his job was to lay and repair oil pipelines across the desert. An errand boy from a remote village in Kerala, India, setting foot in Dubai was more than Girish could have ever dreamt up. Rosy dreams were quickly dashed when he realised that life here was harsh, just like the climate. It was weekend visits to friends and extended family that made it bearable. Yet, over these 2 years, when memories of the cool backwaters of Kerala flooded in, it seemed he was a long way from home.

Clad in crisp ironed clothes, Benjamin Fischer stepped out of the dune buggy. How could a newly laid pipeline require so many repairs he wondered? The sun beat down upon him. He would spend another day in the sweltering heat while his homeland, Germany, was shrouded in a blanket of snow. He sighed and went on to inspect the pipeline, adding notes to the already long list he had made over the last month. Later that afternoon, he put forth his observations and recommendations before the board members of Zait Corporation. The roadmap for the future lay in providing the workers with training. For sustainable progress, they needed to implement German standards of precision, quality and control.

A month later, the first batch of workers were inducted into a loosely structured training module. Unwillingly and grudgingly Girish and his co-workers got started. None of them had any prior technical training. They had all learned welding hands-on and were proud of their accomplishment. This training class, they felt, questioned their capabilities and belittled them. Unwilling though they were, such a training session was a new experience for all of them. White boards, slideshows, videos- all of this suddenly made welding seem so much more glamorous. Girish barely even realised when the resentment started giving way. They were given superior instruments to practice with and challenging tasks to complete. It dawned on Girish, what a value add, proper training can be. He also realised first hand, what it meant to perform up to German standards.

Organising and conducting the training sessions had kept Benjamin extremely busy. But, when he was not immersed in work, he missed home terribly. He didn’t fit here he thought. The locals mostly, kept to themselves. The workers, mainly Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi were too boisterous for his liking. It was a short flight to Germany but to Benjamin, it felt a very long way home. Work, however, kept him occupied and took his mind off the loneliness he felt. The results of the training were so good that a University imparting technical education for immigrant workers was planned. Benjamin now had his plate full and his heart empty.

The summer sun was setting on one of the hottest days of the year. Girish walked up to Benjamin. With him was Ahmed. It was rare for the workers to call upon him. “We’ve come here to invite you. Please don’t say no,” Girish said. “I am throwing an Iftaar party on Wednesday night. Girish thought that we should invite you too and I believe it would be lovely if you could join us,” Ahmed told a rather puzzled Benjamin. It was the first time anyone had walked up to him and said anything like this, Benjamin was surprised. He agreed.

The next evening Benjamin found himself seated at the head of an extra-long table piled with a lavish Asian spread. There were at least 25 others, welding workers, software engineers, hoteliers and housekeepers – Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and even Filipinos. Hugs were distributed free for all. Everyone had a story to tell, joy to spread, love to shower and a shoulder to pat. The sight before him was incredible. People were feeding each other. A couple of them fed him too- another in his list of firsts. It seemed like one huge family, devoid of barriers, was celebrating. Girish walked up to him and said, “You taught us welding, you turned us into skilled labour, in my country, India, when someone teaches you something, we give them something as a token of our gratitude, we call it guru dakshina. I want to give you something too.” Benjamin found a neatly welded blue miniature BMW in his hand. He smiled. In the midst of his family he felt, no boundaries, no differences. One world. One family. one world one family

Nature In My Backyard

Laughter had tinkled across our classroom when in class 6 when we were taught about JC Bose and his experiments with plants. I laughed too yet, from that very evening I stealthily crept into the balcony and sang to my rose bush every day. Voila! It grew better than all the other plants in my sunny little balcony. This was amongst my best kept secrets until of course my brother caught me singing a lullaby and ridiculed me for being such a baby. It’s a vivid image- that healthy plant which I believed swayed to my cacophony. Sensing my interest in gardening, my mother and I slowly began our small kitchen garden- beans, mint, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots- you name it, we grew them. I noticed again, that if we spoke to our dear plants they grew better- healthier, yielded better produce. Not to discount the absolute necessity of good soil and great manure.

Today, many years later, I have my own small kitchen garden and am proud to say that I use no fertilizer. Just lots of good soil, plenty of sunshine, water and tons of love and great vibes- I have a rich harvest of curry leaves, mint leaves, tomatoes and many more in the pipeline… It’s a small step, but I believe it makes a difference. No fertilizers, means that the soil doesn’t get rancid and barren. It also means that I can replant and still yield a good produce (even if in a small pot). Plants in my balcony mean I am green. I am ecofriendly and in sync with the times. It’s a fashion statement in its own right and surely works to beautify my home’s interiors. Herbs that I grow mean I can garnish my cooking with well, garden fresh herbs! It also means that in case of a cold or a sore throat, I can pluck a few leaves of tulsi or holy basil, brew it in steaming water and ward away the illness. Plants in my home mean a dash of music every day, a smattering of love and lungs full of fresh air. It also means a smile on my face as I tend to nature- flourishing right in my backyard.

Platinum Day Of Love

He cradled me in his arms. I cooed. He threw me up in the air. I laughed. I knew he would catch me; never let me fall. On result day, he never returned home without a bar of Cadbury for me. I waited for him, for my most prized treat. He would willingly loose those Sunday afternoon Scrabble games. I broke into a war dance of victory. He watched the news with rapt attention. I imitated, not making head or tail of the reportage. He listened to old, slow, soft and somewhat melancholy melodies. I ruthlessly remixed and sang them in some self-composed high octane. He would laugh at my silly attics. I ran up to him with my henna adorned hands and feet. He smiled indulgently. To the world, I was bride-to-be. For us, I was still his little girl. Daddy. The first man in my life. The man I was in love with even before I knew what love meant. The man against whom I measure every other man who makes his way into my life, even today. As with every relationship, even in this one, there comes a point of intense realization. I found mine after 28 years… I was heavily pregnant. 8 months to be precise. Excited about the newest addition to the family, nervous about the added responsibility and scared of labor… I remember the day so vividly. The beeline of visitors had left. I enjoyed all the attention and the lip smacking delicacies they got for me, but the socializing had left me exhausted. Finally there was only mum, dad and me at home. Dad had a dry cough and while his throat irritated him, the incessant coughing bugged me. I turned on my left and lay on the sofa. Dad sat on the sofa beside me and gently patted my head. It’s a seemingly simple act but the love and warmth that emanated from it was so intense. I suddenly felt peaceful and cared for. It’s true. Sometimes a million words cannot do what one touch can. That evening I felt that touch. I felt the love in its purest form. It touched me for sure, tugged the strings of my heart. But it also reached the little one growing inside me. A love that passes down generations. A love, which, like platinum will stand the test of time.

****

The second man in my life… One with whom I share childhood memories and grown up dreams. We grew up playing pranks, sharing jokes, fighting with each other… Sometimes, we were all set to slit each other’s throat. Yet, one wouldn’t last without the other. It’s what most brother-sister relationships are like. For me, he is a brother to fight for and to fight with. Mum says, when he was born, I was the first one to hold him. Ever since, I’ve been fiercely protective of him. He knows all my secrets; I think I know his too. He is all grown up yet he is my little brother for me. 3 years 3 months ago when I got busy shopping for him and packing his bags, I was proud… My brother was going abroad to study. With a 3 month old incorrigible infant in my arms, I smiled and managed to do my bit to make his trip comfortable. Life moved fast, there was no time for whispering advice or sharing some quiet time with him. Yet, when he took his step outside the door on that night of August 15, I felt a surge of emotion, a pang of pain in the depth of my heart. He was going far away. Until then, I was the one who went from home. This was the first time he would go, and that too across 7 seas. When would I see him next? How would he manage? What if he needed something? Yes, we have a huge family where he is, but still my brother is ‘my brother’. At that midnight hour, love raised its hood for the infinite time and showed me again, that he is a friend to the spirit, a gift to the heart and a platinum thread to the meaning of life.

****

True love in the morning sun

Life is amazing. The way it works, brings people together and the way loves meanders its way through, weaving us into a relationship. Some years ago, this man walked into my life. It wasn’t exactly like waves go dashing into each other or like new blossoms touch each other and spread wild fragrance. It was like meeting just about anyone else… may be at work or a party. Never once did expect my heart to do a cart wheel… and to that effect I was right. I didn’t shy, didn’t blush, no super-fast heart beats… just nothing to bring an indication of what was to come. And then, within a few minutes, a relationship was formed, a bond set and a new phase of life opened. It opened quiet so fast that I couldn’t exactly figure what was happening, except that I was smiling all the time, spent very less time at home, had no inclination to work, wrote innumerable emails and then somewhere down the line, said the three magical words… and even when we exchanged those, it wasn’t like a hurricane of emotions… but was more of a solid grounded feeling; like I would have said it sometime sooner or later. It was his birthday and I had lined up many surprises for him. Late that night I got him to drive half way to a jungle, he of course had no clue where the destination was. His eyes gleamed with joy when we drove into the beautifully landscaped resort. We checked in and walked hand in hand. Inhibitions, fear, shyness had long made their way out of our lives… On that star studded night, walking on a cobbled pathway below a canopy of trees, the moonlight pierced through the thicket and illuminated our path. A whiff of breeze brought with it the heady scent of rose and love filled the air. It was serene, calm, beautiful and romantic. We were at peace. When I suddenly picked up a ruffle behind me, at that late hour, in that deserted place, the noise scared me and I clung on him. He turned back and put his arm around my shoulder. It was reassuring. There was a truth in his eye that said he would never leave me. The touch of his hand said it would hold me if ever I fall. We shared an eye lock, saw each other’s souls and were swept by a strong torrent of emotions… emotions of love, of longing, of adoration for each other. Unspoken words made promises of sharing our lives, of sharing togetherness, of being there for each other. We had found the love we yearned for… As precious as platinum, as pure as it too.

****

Every relationship has its day of love. A moment of realization of the love so deep and pure. I found mine over and over again in these three relationships… Each as pure and true as the other. The three most important men in my life… I wouldn’t last a day without you!

We Are What We Eat

annabrahma

It’s a story that has always fascinated me. A story in the Upanishad’s (ancient spiritual texts) which talks about a young boy asking his Guru (Spiritual Master) ‘What is brahaman?’ to which the Guru responds saying, ‘Anna Brahama’. Undoubting, the little boy goes and meditates upon this answer given by the Guru. The story goes on to say that, 4 more such one line answers later, the boy finally achieves enlightenment. The spirituality of the whole story besides, just that food can be equated with God or Godliness was something that amazed me. So, I decided to explore and experiment.

Being the foodie that I am, I loved this experiment. I ate different kinds of food on different days and saw what it did to my mind and body. Ate spicy stuff and saw my mood swing, ate stale food and saw my mind plummet, ate raw vegetables and saw energy spurts. After a couple of months of experimenting, I started observing others and seeing what food did to them. The results were startlingly similar to what I had experienced when performing the experiment on myself. Those who were classified as highly aggressive at the workplace were mostly those who ate really spicy and/or non-vegetarian food. Those who were kind of laid back were those who often ate oily and fatty foods and those who were normally not tired even at the end of work day were those who ate light and ate at regular intervals. Of course, these were generic observations, not to add that those who worked out every day, no matter what they ate, weren’t highly affected by their food habits.

That’s when I decided to start reading about food and its effects on the human mind. I found numerous researches conducted on this topic and the findings amazed me. Of course, some of the findings did have their share of public dislike, but the findings are true all the same. Did you know that food has life force energy? Of course you would know that- given that food is a source of energy itself. So every plant, vegetable or animal has life force in them. How energetic you feel depends on how much life force (prana) is in the food when you eat it.

Dieticians say that food that’s farther away from its source, as in foods that are heavily processed and high in sugars actually deplete the body of nutrients and of course, are very low on Prana or life force energy. Not only do foods that are marinated have no prana, but they also actually manage to drain you of energy. Did you know that it takes almost 72 hours for the human digestive system to break down non-vegetarian food? The human intestinal track is several times the length of our body thus making it simpler for plant foods that decay slowly to take their time to pass through the body. Also that stomach acid in humans is 20 times weaker to carnivores, thus making it tougher to digest meat.

When they say, eat a rainbow, the actually mean it! Researchers say that Prana is greatest in food that is naturally brightly coloured, nutrient-dense, and derived from plants and animals that were healthy, and that were recently alive.  The best foods are raw or lightly cooked garden vegetables. So, there’s surely more to food than just vegetarian and non-vegetarian.

you are what you eat

I think, one line that sums it up best is- We are what we eat. So, think twice before relishing a sinfully delicious meal… you’ll never know what exactly you’ll think of doing after downing that spread. And of course, the next time you cook, it’s worth stirring in a few ounces of love and garnishing that dish with enthusiasm and hope- it will do good in a world that’s fast loosing hope and joy…

War Of The Dead

war of death

Empty spaces hit me harder in the face. The solitude engulfs like never before. An unknown fear has taken deep root.

Every time a drop glistens in the corner of my eye, I can hear love, life and you – laugh at my distress. I try in vain to hold back those salt tears that say my story. They roll down and seek to hold on to those moments when you’ve touched me. They come from that virgin pool of love you dug up in my being. They laugh at me as they roll out. They try to fill a void that is me.

The void makes me harder, more brittle. It causesme to fall and fail. It breaks me, crushes me and takes me closer to death.

The tears, they keep me alive- with no hope, no desire and no life ahead. It’s a tug-of-war of sorts, with my heart in conflict with itself. A movement from void to vacuum; A war that has sorrow battling on either side; A war of the dead. That’s the war waging inside of me.

The Sun Shone Through

My first attempt at historical fiction-peacock brooch

The sun was setting upon the rustic landscape; it’s stretched rays, attempting to tickle the river that gurgled on. He sat cross legged with his spine erect in this glorious sunset. The silken folds of his turmeric yellow dhoti fell carelessly on the well-toned limbs. His upper body was bare except for the sacred thread supported on his left shoulder drawing a line diagonally across his broad chest. A gentle smile played on his lips. The man bun on the crown of his head was adorned with a line of fragrant night flowering jasmine. A little behind his seat, rested his khadau’s. On his left lay his bow, decorated with a hundred gold bosses and radiant ends. On his right was a quiver full of arrows, bearing a mark of the clan he belonged. Aditya, named after the Sun, protector of all life on this planet- lived up to that name. He led a warrior’s life, safeguarding those who came seeking help. He was an archer who never missed his aim, a fearless warrior, a student who never lost focus and a dutiful son.

As night fell, the thicket of the forest threatened to take everything in its fold. The incessant chirping of birds had died down and buzzing of fireflies took over. A small clearing with a handful of circular cottages; straw thatched roofs and mud walls adorned with vegetable dye motifs. Remarkably clean but extremely simple. That was the Gurukul. The yagashala, was their pride and the epicenter of all activity.  Diagonally opposite was an open furnace and large earthen utensils- their kitchen.

Behind him, seated neatly in rows, were 20 young boys. All bald with a long lock of hair tied up at the back of the head. They wore orange cotton robes and gazed on as the cackling fire hungrily devoured large chunks of firewood. He had eyes for none of these. He didn’t hear the babble of river as it rolled on, or the various night creatures. His very being was alive with anticipation. His focus was the cushion made of dharbha grass placed beyond the fire. The kitschy footfall told him that his moment of joy was arriving.

Immaculately dressed in a crisp white dhoti and a light shawl draped across his chest, he sat on the cushion laid out for him. The untrimmed ends of his grey beard flew in the direction of the breeze. His forehead donned the scared mark of sandalwood paste starting from the hairline to in between the eyebrows. He wore rosaries made of rudraksha beads. Rishi ji exuded peace and strength. His eyes twinkled with joy on seeing the sight before him. The smile that played on his lips was unmistakable when he set eyes on Aditya. The boy had shown promise that none other had. In his 50 years of running the gurukul, none had the spark as bright as he did. Yet, as every good teacher must, he too had to let this student move on, to fulfill his destiny, to bring peace to a land torn with strife. There would be time for all of that and more. Now, more pressing matters had to be attended to. It was time to help him move out of student hood to another phase of life. It was time for his heart to open up, to choose a companion in the journey of life. Rishi ji closed his eyes. Tonight he would talk about Love.

****

Aditya was shaken out of his vivid recollections of the night at the gurukul. Rishi ji had spoken about affection, love, marriage! Ever since, his mind had wandered into unknown alleys. He quickly placed his bow on his left shoulder. As a warrior lack of awareness was almost criminal. He was the best student, he knew it. He imbibed fast. Yet, what Rishi ji had shared that night, his last night as a student at the gurukul, was unfathomable for him. None of it made sense and his heart was surely restless. Unknown to himself, he walked into a garden of fragrant flowers. The various shades of green were contrasted by bright yellow, pink and white flowers. The orange marigold played hide and seek behind thick tree trunks. He adjusted his golden armlets. They bore the mark of the sun with delicate rays flowing of it. In the distance he could see the glittering towers of the palace.

At a far end of the garden, delicate anklets tinkled. The dozen bangles clinked noisily, the golden nose pin twinkled naughtily and she laughed in pure joy. Her heart radiated love. Her eyes shone in ecstasy. The pomegranate pink dupatta flew in gay abandon as she meandered through the flower bed. The red bindi on her forehead contrasted with her fair, smooth skin. Speaking in chaste Sanskrit, she and her friends went about collecting flowers. Sweet-smelling jasmine was braided in her waist long hair. She wore a silk ghaghra with intricate kashida embroidery and gold jewels almost half her weight. She carried it with effortless ease. She was a warrior princess of unmatched beauty. The world was hers to be and she lived up to it. At this moment, however, she was looking for her favorite ornament.

Aditya stepped on a red and green peacock shaped brooch. Even as he picked it up, he heard trinkets and bracelets. He stood himself erect and saw the most luminous doe shaped eyes lined with kajal; luscious pink lips and a shapely figure that stood radiant in the morning sun. Standing before him, she looked an epitome of grace. While Rishi jis words from the night before were gaining new meaning and his heart was engaged in a somersault, he was surrounded by men in armor, spears pointing to his heart. Love had found its way, now he had to find his.