Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I Accept

Acceptance as a thought/idea/way of life is rising up in my consciousness from the past couple of days. First in a long discussion with my mil, I said that if we all were to accept situations, things and self as we were 90 percent of our problems will be sorted and she brought up the issue of choice, saying when one does not have any choice one has to accept. I think that there is no point in our life when we do not have a choice, we can choose to accept and move on or we can choose to not accept and wallow on. We do have a choice and in cases of death when we don’t give ourselves the choice to accept we remain in grief.
Anyways acceptance has in it the seeds of possibilities. One that of choosing to stay the way we are and be in the energy of “I am like this only”! the other when we accept the current situation, it opens us up to the possibility of taking an action and choosing to make a breakthrough.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pottery Musings

I think pottery is an art form that is closest to the Creator and Creation. Just like we are made of panchatatva, earth, air, fire, water and akash (ether) as is a clay pot. the clay has air, is shaped using water, dried in air, then fired and when shaped as a pot holds the akash or the nothingness within itself. A pot becomes a pot in which something can be held, only because of this nothingness, if broken it is this that gets lost, rest just goes back to mix in with its own essence. It is this nothingness which is everything that is the soul, the shape that holds the expanse is the body.
The clay as shaped by the potter is unique, no 2 pieces are alike and mostly never can be, however much they belong to the same family; just like you and me. Its uniqueness/quirks/ imperfectly perfect character is what makes it so endearing and loving; just like you and me. The cracks that develop are the cracks from where the light enters into its soul; just like yours and mine. The akash/soul that its shape holds and makes it what it is, is something that is never born nor dies; just like you and me. The akash/soul blends in with the super soul when the pot breaks; just like you and me.
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Monday, November 7, 2016

Birthday Musings

43 learnings that took me 43 years and hope to live them the rest of my earth time.
1. This too shall pass - good or bad
2. There is no age for learning. Want it, Go for it.
3. The tree with the heaviest fruit lies the lowest. Humility is a good way to lead a lifetime.
4. Never forget ur roots. Soar high remain grounded.
5. You are not your label. Someones daughter, someones wife or mother or sister. YOU are all this and more. Pause and think about the more ever so often
6. Loving yourself means accepting yourself zits and all. It does not mean that you are selfish.
7. Go out and have some casual friendships, it means people you can laugh with, people who do not know your baggage and dont care to.
8. Reinvention is the name of the game. Dont say but idk how these kids do it. If you want to, pls figure it out. Keep up with the generation.
9. Humara zamana is the most bs thing i have heard. Till the time you are breathing it is your "zamana". Dont let anyone make u feel otherwise.
10. Girlfriends who make you laugh is the best therapy. Get some.
11. Everything is a tool. How you use it makes it good or bad. That includes ur notions of money, love,sex, knowledge, fire, spirituality, religiosity everything
12. We dont have to tolerate others' views on religion, we just simply need to let us and them "Be", respect it. Tolerate seems to carry negative connotations and an unease about it.
13. Dont shy away from owning up if you have messed up. I don't whether prof or personal.
14. There is no age to start volunteering for social work. Dont wait till you retire.
15. Travelling teaches you more than text books.
16. Travelling solo is empowering as is watching a movie alone.
17. If you dont own up your responsibility towards you being happy who will?
18. Doing your own work whether it is making ur bed or changing a tube or even clearing a blocked pipe is not lowly, it is a sense of ownership
19. People try to box you, it is upto you to live in your essence. I am not a CEO's wife so i dont need to behave or dress as per that i never was a chief enggineers daughter and so behave with certain airs. I was born to my papa and i married my best friend. When their labels shed i am.still ME and they are them. Most beautiful souls radiating their inherent goodness.
20. Each of my scars tell my story. I want to age gracefully though i still may hate puffy eye bags.
21. Physical challenge is just that, a challenge we the society make it a disability for those afflicted with it. Make wheelchair ramps, provide safe access and braille instructions and see them empowered just like u and i
22. If you can be a candle to someone be. I used to feel bad when people use to call me "only" to ask for help. I soon realised that maybe i am blessed that they think of me as their candle when the wind is blowing strong for them.
23. If you can help someone without troubling yourself or compromising with your principles, do it.
24. Goodness always comes back sometimes in forms we dont understand.
25. Saying No or claiming your boundaries is empowering. Try it. Anyways no point.doing stuff against your grain.
26. Credit shd def be given where due. As a creative person it feels heartbreaking if someones thunder is stolen.
27. Nothing lasts forever not diamonds, not situations, not relationships
28. It is easier to make bahanas than showing up. Note to self: make less bahanas
29. Art of receiving is tougher than art of giving. I had a major block in receiving i felt burdened and one day i just realised that what what when I give and ppl receive it reluctantly? the joy for both go. I am becoming more gracious in receiving now, it means i am lovingly accepting compliments, help, blessings and even gifts.
30. Art of giving is art too. Having volunteered with NGOs i have seen people give stuff what they dont even need anymore as charity with an attitude. They think they are doing the world a big favour. Giving as well as receiving both require humility. Put a blessing out there while doing each.
31. The amount of satisfaction i get from recording for the blind no high paying job can come close to it. Its a deep penetrating sense of calm
32. Nothing is free and it should not even be. If you buy you value more.
33. Thats why i dont like to gift my pottery pieces. Cause if i do, you will think its free for me, no it is built with my sweat, blood and love. If you buy, you will get heartbroken if it breaks and savour it longer.
34. If you want to compliment go ahead, but unless u are my mother dont ask me why i have lost or gained weight. Why i look a certain way or anyone looks a certain way that they do. Its uncouth in my dictionary to make fun of physical appearances. You dont know the struggles of that person, keep it at that.
35. Judging is not a bad habit. Its a tool, how you use it makes it good or bad. You cant even cross a road without judging the manner in which to cross it. Its a natural human instinct.
36. Rituals unless they leave you glowing with positivity are just over burdening. I love the smell and community family feeling of doing havan in the house. And i hate to feed over fed pot bellied pandits with more food or dakshina to appease my stars.
37. Karma is not a bitch. Its a word that denotes action, you can always transform your karmas to suit yourself. It is not static though whats done cannot be undone, you can steer future actions.
38. Love is overrated. "Connection" is underrated.
39. No one "likes" to live or die painfully. Please dont say in front of the family of someone who is suffering, that i want to die in my sleep blah blah. They would too if they had a choice.
40. Which brings me to i dont want to die strapped to pipes in a hospital. I dont want futile treatments, teary eyes and broken hearts around me.
41. My prayer ceremony shd have beer and srk movie. Who wants to sit and listen to crap. Not my soul.
42. Each time u think of me think with a beaming smile.celebrate me , like a i try to celebrate my Sumi
43. Picture abhi baki hai mere dost. Life abhi chalu hai. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Just BE

Sometimes a stranger teaches you a lesson that even tomes of gyan cannot. At the pottery classes we had a senior lady who joined pottery but was mostly not able to work on the wheel. A dignified quiet lady, with unsaid sadness in her eyes always wearing a saree and politely conversing with the teachers. On the other hand, it was the rambunctious us always chatting and me in the typical loud Punju voice. She used to sit quietly on the wheel and try to center a lump of clay, mostly unsuccessfully, but her dedication was exemplary. We knew she was doing pottery to keep busy and get over some recent grief, but beyond that we knew nothing of her story. Soon she discovered that she can hand build with clay rather well. She has the patience of a monk, and her pieces- small statues of Krishna with a cow or the gopis were amazingly detailed, intricately carved and life like. Many times seeing her carvings I did my oohs and aahs in chirpy encouraging sort of way.

I left the studio when my tenure ended and life continued, till one day I was at the colony fair and someone announced that “do not miss the ceramic stall”. Being a potter I naturally gravitated towards the stall and instantly recognized her work. At that time she was away from the stall but spotting me rushed towards it and shyly hugged me. I was happy to see her and as usual my bubbly self. At the time of saying my byes to her she hugged me once more and said “do keep in touch”. She had tears in her eyes and I was a bit surprised, she sensed my confusion and said, “you know what I had a daughter named Anubha I lost her”. I was shocked to say the least. It hit me that though my story is playing out in a completely different set up, she probably was always trying to catch a glimpse of her daughter in me. I cant explain how I felt but realized that for her it was enough that I am Me. My Just Being. Simply Existing. That’s it. Isnt that beautiful? We spend our whole life being this and being that, playing several roles, juggling various tasks whereas, all we need to do is just Be. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Making of My Ganesha

This year was a landmark in my bringing home the idol, since I made it all by myself. I felt responsible doing my bit and though my son was a bit sceptical if I will be able to make it, for me it was a zidd and I decided big or small, however it turns out this is it, this time our Ganesha would be the one I will make. 
As I promised a couple of my friends and as mentioned in the last post, I am listing out a couple of tips and procedure as to how I made it. Of course being a ceramic stoneware potter made it that much more easier for me. But don’t fret, it is not difficult at all and the rewards include a heart that sings, deep creative satisfaction and of course the feeling of being Parvati (mum to my baby Ganesha) that I cannot shake off. Makes the visarjan that much more difficult but well even in there is a huge  lesson of loving and letting go. Isn’t that what life is all about anyways. Before I get into a philosophical tirade lets just do this:

Material Required:
Shadu Clay (I got from Pune, but it should be available in Mumbai too)
A knife not very sharp
A small tub to knead the clay (I got it in powder form)
A sponge
A cardboard

Try to begin the process when you have a couple of hours in hand so that you complete the entire idol in 1 sitting. Cause if the clay is at different stages of drying, chances of developing a crack are higher.

Step 1:

Knead the clay with water. This is a toughie, will make some muscles for you. Knead it well and go on with it till you achieve a nice smooth ball, almost like roti dough. Start with smaller amounts of water and go on adding as you go.

Step 2:
Pull out enough quantity to roll it into a thick slab. Do the entire process on a piece of wooden board and it will not stick as the wood will absorb the wetness.

Step 3:
Roll out dough and start with shaping the bum and thighs first, keep your fingers moist (not wet) and then add lower legs shaping it the way you want to position them. I shaped one leg in crossed position and supported it with a ball of newspaper. Newspaper will not stick to the clay, you can use it to support the extremities.

When you are sticking 2 pieces of clay together you could scratch both the surface a bit with the blunt knife and while sticking add paste of clay (wetter clay like fevicol consistency) and ensure that you press them in place stiffly. Keep wiping off the extra wet clay with the help of a sponge. Once the shape is done, you can create the crown, the halo, his jewelery, his drapes, go wild with your imagination and adorn bappa with what you want.To remove small bumps and to finish it well take the sponge and squeeze all water out of it and give a good wipe to the idol.

Don’t dry the idol in direct fan or sun, let it dry naturally covered with a clean cloth or a newspaper, it took 3 days for mine to dry. And then I painted him with poster colours and voila, my baby was set to rock my mandir. 

The best was when my son approved and fell in love with the idol, he was proud of his mommy and I was on the top of the world, really!

I wish you eco friendly Ganesha next year and the sheer joy that comes with it. Craft it, it’s a feeling like none other. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Oh ji Sadda Kanaada

Haan ji Sarla penji ! assi land ho gye hain. Vaddi soni country hai te Trudeau… hai marr jawan kina cute hai usde dimple vekhe…hore ki
Before you wonder why I am channelling Pummy aunty getting into a verbal diarrhea in Punjabi language, hear me story. So this year we were slated to vacation at my brother’s place in Canada. Now you know how that airports are a mile long and can be a pain for senior citizens with knee problems etc, so I had requested for a wheel chair access, not that my brave mom used it, though wink wink if she had at every exit we would have breezed through. Well on touching down at Canada airport I insisted she take it since her feet were swollen and it had been a long tiring journey. To enable that when the doors of the craft opened, I asked a very gori chori, “hi where can we find the wheel chair?” and she went, “Oh ji tussi idhron bahar jaoge the tuanu uthe….blah blah.” I was like Jaw Drop What?! After paying almost a close to a lakh of rupees here I land in phoren country and get directed in my native even I am not as fluent. Face palm.

Jokes aside, I guess this is what Canada is all about, lets each one celebrate their diversity like no other. 2 days post landing, we attended my nephews school for their presentation on South Asian cultural show, and I must commend that though Bollywood ruled, all the countries were celebrated. My nephew was part of the dragon dance. It was a wonderful feeling, only if this love and diversity gets celebrated all across the world, we will be in a peaceful place. I wish “Vasudev Kutumbukam” to all. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Gannu and I

Ganpati Bappa Moraya

Ganpati started visiting my house on a whim and zid of my then 6 year old who at that time watched the movie ‘My Friend Ganesha’ almost on loop. Being an indulgent mom I gave in to his wishes and decided to bring home the deity. Now, I am absolutely clueless about the rituals and didn’t know anything about the procedure. For me praying is personal communion. On his insistence I agreed and lemme confess I am ever so happy that I did it.
To begin with I called up my hubs cousin who lives in Mumbai to ask her what it entailed and how to go about it.  She sent me a detailed instruction on sthapana. Feeling a bit more confident with her details, on the D-day we ventured out to bring him home, and there found a couple of people who were buying the idol. We asked one of the ladies and she further elaborated as to how to take the deity home and welcome it etc. We felt happy and now knew more about the pooja. The 2 days went past beautifully, with my son feeding the Ganesh friend all his favorite food and believe me it was most endearing to see them bond over food. Ana would take food in the spoon, place it near his tusk and ask him to eat and then after a minute ask “Ok eaten? Tummy full?” That year clueless about visarjan procedure we went to Okhla barrage and again as luck would have it got guided by a very sweet lady with whom we shared boat space and did the visarjan. This was a classic case of when the student is ready guru will appear, the entire process seemed guided by the lord.
This was the start of a tradition for us as a family. However, past couple of years the urge to do the visarjan more responsibly kept gnawing at me. Last year I went to the potters who sell these idols and told them I want to do home visrajan and was looking for an eco friendly idol. He sold me one promising that it will dissolve soon …blah blah. Little was I aware at that time that he conned me. My home visrajan was not successful, later I realized the idol was POP and not clay.

Now I am a studio potter myself and this year the thought that I should make one kept niggling at me, especially after a friend suggested that “this will be your ultimate gift to Bappa”. Last year I had seen a friend post some pics of the Ganpati she had made, and she told me that the eco friendly clay used for the idol is Shadu mitti that is easily available in Pune. Getting this in my head I just casually asked my husband if he will be travelling to Pune and to my amazement and absolute delight he said “next week”. I piled on to him to find out and buy me some, which he did. Now it again did seem that the entire thing was guided. My son had apprehensions about whether I will be able to make a nice one worthy of keeping for the pooja, but I was confident and firm that even if I am able to make a much smaller one this is what it will be. We had decided we are not going to buy it.
Must thank my pottery teachers coupled with my experience in handling the clay, I DID it. I actually created one that looked awesome, and in any case Ganesh ji is such a cute idol that it looks beatific in any form. Have you ever seen how a couple of strokes on the canvas and it takes the form of Ganapati.
Anyway the joy of creating the idol myself was as satisfying and creatively fulfilling as birthing minus the labour pains. Yes, I felt like Parvati. I created him. Then painstakingly painted him with poster colours. The happiness, satisfaction and the meditative calm that I got from the entire process far superseded anything that I have done before. I can sum up by saying that my heart sang.
The visarjan was done at home and the next day the plants were watered with the same and the clay distributed in the plants. To say that I felt great is not enough. I thank God for guiding me and being present at every step. And while celebrating I did my bit. Each drop counts, every action matters.
So long Bappa. Till Next year, I am already itching to dip my hands in the clay.

To read the step by step tutorial on how to make Ganpati using Shadu clay, click HERE