Thursday, July 5, 2018

Everyday Hero: Black, the movie

Everyday Hero

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Yes anywhere and actually everywhere. I am a volunteer recording books with the Blind School for more than 12 years now. I have actually always had a soft spot for the blind. As a young little girl when we used to distribute food or make any donation with parents, I used to ask them to give it to the blind. Maybe some kind of a past life connection and who knows? As a very small girl of just about 13 or 14 years old, I was so driven that I pestered my mom to fill out the form for me and donated my eyes. I remember we did not even have a permanent address at the time since papa was in a transferable job.
As a young adult of 21 years, I wanted to do a course in Braille. And spotted an ad in the paper for the same. My then boyfriend (now husband) and my mom talked me out of it since they felt it may become too overwhelming for me to be working with the blind students.
However, I kept getting this calling of “doing” something and all I could do at the time was donate some money and/or rations. Now I had become a mum with a toddler, when this movie Black by Sanjay Leela Bhansali was released and it inspired me no end. It is then, that I decided to visit the Blind School near Oberoi and talk to the people around. I came to know that I could do what they called voice donation. I was taken to the basement and an old gentleman who was then the in charge of the studio took my voice test. And to my utter joy I passed. I think another thing that really cut the deal with him was that I could read both hindi and English equally well. He did say that so many people come for English and not many are available for hindi. i had to confess to him, “I do not know hindi counting more than 30.” And he gave me the leeway of saying the years or wherever I encountered numbers in hindi in English, and I was good to go.
My tryst with recording began then in 2006. There was a huge hall and the gentleman used to prompt me with his hand gesture and start the recording in the audio cassettes. I used to read and only stop when Side A used to get over, and while he used to flip to the Side B. I only had that break when I could sip on water and get back.
When I came out of the studio after recording the first time, I can’t even tell how I felt, words are not enough, it was the most satisfying experience I had ever had. To record the books for the blind, copies of which would be made and sent all across india and other institutes! it was the most humbling experiences of my life.
Today the scene has changed, the recording studio has moved to the first floor, has an AC and a modern recorder that I can pause anytime I feel the grating in my throat, sip my water and continue recording. While so much has changed, what remains the same is the way Blind School treats its volunteers, with utmost respect and joy. I love working with them cause they so value me and my time and my contributions, even though it is just a drop in the ocean. They receive it so beautifully and this is when they really don’t have any dearth of volunteers. My bottle of water is ready in the studio, I am made comfortable, the AC temperatures regulated and I feel like an honored guest. Another thing that has not changed is how I feel after recording. It is like meditation. When I am in the studio I am in alert awareness and focused. I know any sound will hamper the quality, turn the page ever so quietly, remove my bangles, and what really comes alive is my voice. By the way any number beyond 30 I still record in English :p

When I do this I realize it is not me making any donation, infact I receive so much. I always tell Raja, that I have never experienced this kind of satisfaction even in high paying jobs.
For me it all started with the movie Black. For me in this case the movie is my hero. Have you been ever so inspired or touched by a movie that it created a lasting shift in you and moved you to taking inspired action?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Power of Personal Stories

As a Life Coach and i am fortunate that my clients trust me with their deep personal stories. There are times they feel sheepish when sharing their vulnerability and I had one of them saying, “is it only me who is going through all of this?” the one thing that I told her was, “look you are unique and not special.” What this really means is my friend, that you are not alone. Yes, we all are human beings having an experience on this amazing planet and are made of the same pixie dust isn’t it? Then what makes us even think that other humans are devoid of feeling the same shit as ours. What makes us bash ourselves for feeling this and that. Yes, all the emotions are a paradigm of human existence, we all feel angry, sad, happy, joyous, amazing, wonderful, irritable, frustrated and yes, fearful. Then what makes us sit up and ask “why me?”
What I have realized is that vulnerability has little place in society. What it does to our collective psyche is create a feeling of isolation and of being lonely. All the time, we wear masks of thousand shades, and prance about hiding under layers and layers of what we truly want to express. No wonder, when someone shares their intimate personal story that may have been hiding for ages, there are many me too’s. What an amazing place it would be if we could actually meet, see and hear each other truly.
I realized this when I was feeling particularly vulnerable and confused with how I was feeling. And I did not have the courage to talk to anyone for the fear of their judgments. However, I did talk about it, and realized that I was not alone when they said “me too”. That I was not alone gave me solace and comfort making me less critical of myself. As a human the largest gift that we can give a fellow human is hold a safe space and our presence. Aren’t we anyways walking each other home?
No doubt, we all have our own paths and our own way of looking at our personal stories, and what lifts off the burden is the courage to share it. You know it is also the stories that we tell ourselves that make us and our lives and creates subconscious operating patterns for us. Some stories serve us and some keeps us in a negative loop and a whirlpool disallowing us to let go or forgive ourselves and/or others. What happens when we expose the mental movies and own up is that we tend to create a shift within us that allows for a perspective change, be more gentle with ourselves and know that we are not alone. And you know another very powerful shift that occurs sometimes is, that we change our stories and rewrite our experiences and future.
I read somewhere and it fascinates me to no end. Are we the creator of the stories OR is it that our stories are creating us?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Every Day Hero – Episode 2

Look around and you will see a hero in each one and in you, the entire life doesn’t have be heroic, there are many instances in which you will catch a glimpse of a hero or be one. It does need courage and guts to overcome a challenge, kick the glass bubble of comfort, break out of a limiting belief, step out of the ordinary, show compassion and touch lives simply by getting connected to the luminosity within.

Today I salute the hero in my grandmother, my dadi. A beautiful woman she served many years of her life as a nurse with my grandfather who was a Doctor. I always knew her as a loving granny bent over her sewing machine and magically creating frilly frocks for me that I would wear proudly and prance around.

I was born the year after my dadu passed on. For a very long time I just knew that he was hit by a taxi while crossing the road and did not survive. What I did not know was the incomparable courage my dadi had displayed in the hospital. She must have been in her early 60s when this accident occurred in Delhi.

While crossing the road, dada ji was hit by a taxi and the taxi guy took them to the hospital. It was a mayhem around with the doctors rushing in cause dada ji was hit seriously. Amma ji (as I called my dadi) realized that her husband is not going to survive this and told the taxi driver to escape cause if her sons reach the hospital they will thrash the driver and if the police does his life will be a mess. He had told amma ji about his little kids and was pleading her to forgive him. She literally told him, “yahan main dekh rahi hun, tu bhaag ja.”

Looking back I realize the large heartedness and compassion that the lady displayed in the time of her extreme distress. It is so difficult to even forgive your own self, yes we are our harshest critics, leave alone any other. For me she is a hero in this incident. Yes she is.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

As if Today is the Only Day

This year I was seeing my brother after a gap of 2 years. We fight, we scream, hell we even break each others’ hearts and that’s beside the point na. love for a sibling is so much more larger than all the petty stuff. It just IS.
However he was here in delhi only for 2 nights and all I got with him was 2 days and 1 night. And to say that we lived it up is an understatement. We maxed out each moment, laughing, sharing banter, him playing cricket with my son, enduring my uncontrolled beer giggles, we shopped, we ate and thankfully we gave fighting a miss. What stayed with me is the way we made the most of it in just about 2 days, we were truly present to each other and made it large. When I go visit Canada, I usually go for a month and we do all these fun things and everything in between, all the while thinking there is a lot of time and that time flies off and sometimes leaves me wondering how it did? And sometimes even unfulfilled with feelings like wish we had more time, wish we had done this and that. You know a bit incomplete kind of.
And I am thinking how amazing would it be if we approach all our days like this? Not like we have loads of time but as if we were in “no time” (not less time). How amazing would that experience be? How much power will the Now have? How much life would be infuse in our days? What all will be possible at all levels of our days and relationships?

As the Sun Sets

I am an eternal lover of sunsets, and my love for them grows each time I am immersed in watching them. And if the setting is a beach or mountain, I am overjoyed. On my vacation to the hills this year, every evening I religiously grabbed my balcony seat to watch the amazing show put up by the Sun. The setting is always gorgeous (for lack of a deeper word) and its various hues, wash the sky with myriad colours from the palette, that if a painting was replicated on the canvas, it will seem unreal. The molten orange against various shades of blue, mixing with white fluffy frothy white clouds deepening them with an aura of orange and then slowly disappearing right in front of your eyes is a showstopper. Add a couple of tall standing deodars as a background and majestic hills as mute witnesses giving me company and you have a unbeatable show.

No camera can do justice to its unmatched beauty, though I am trigger happy and clicked various pictures. However, the last evening there filled me with some sadness. And while in a convo with my husband I told him, “Oh! there will be no show tomorrow” and immediately it hit me that of course there will be a show, only I won’t be present at that spot to watch it. Ah! the reminder of mortality and the “show must go on”, is achingly beautiful.
The song playing in my head is yeh zindagi ke mele…duniya mai kam na hoge…afsos hum na honge ….

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Every Day Hero

Having seen some bit of the world in my 44 years of existence, I do believe that there is a hero within all of us. We just don’t give it much recognition. We only think that heroes have a consistent heroic life and are out to save the world. We have grown up fed on the stories of superman, he-man and more recently shakitmaan. Those are amazing I don’t mean to take their brand of heroism away. And look around or better still look to yourself, there have been so many times when you have faced your fears, leapt with faith, taken over the unknown, jumped into a challenge and risen above the banal.

Today, i want to share a story that for me is a huge story of extraordinary heroism, something that has always tugged at my heart strings and sometimes warmed me and sometimes melted me. This is the story that is an ode to my mother in laws courage.

In December of 1998, we as a family went through the darkest time of our lives, we lost my best friend, my baby bro-in-law Sumi to an unfortunate accident in Pune. He was the darling of the family, absolutely pampered, most loved and cherished, and since he was the youngest; he was indulged in for every whim. And trust me he had multiple whims J and loved to live life fully.

The night of 3rd dec, my husband was travelling and at 3 am our door bell rang incessantly. Not realizing the foreboding of that bell, I opened the door and in walked Sumi’s roomies parents. A couple of minutes into the conversation, when they told us about the accident, they broke the news that shattered the world around us. We were in a state of shock and disbelief.
I can only now imagine the pain a mother would have gone through losing her young one at the age of 22. I can only now fathom how life must have moved on for her. In a daze we did all that was to be done.
And as luck would have it, a couple days down, end of December a wedding in the family of a dear cousin had already been scheduled. They were willing to postpone it and spoke at length with my mother in law. However, mummy said the wedding must be solemnized and finally the aunt relented saying it will happen only if she would attend it too.
I as a young girl all of 24 myself, was shattered and did not know how to process my feelings. Mum paved the way and all credit to her she went on to attend all the functions, I just the wedding.
For me, it was a huge step that a mother took. Today I look back and think of all the courage it would have taken her. For me this act was heroic. For me she is the hero in this story. For me she rose above herself. It also taught me that no matter what, the show must go on!!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

3 Ways to Remain Connected to YourSelf

We as a generation seem to be plagued by the busyness syndrome. Isn’t it paradoxical that while we are “doing” so many things, we keep losing focus, are not really able to concentrate well and get distracted at the rate of a mobile notification sound.
One day while walking on a busy road I was so immersed in staring and reading into the phone that I simple lost track of where I was walking and who I was walking into. And in that sudden moment when a car whizzed close by, I came to the realization that I was so not connected with either myself or my physical environment. It really is very easy to get distracted and get lost either in the external chaos around us or the internal chatter.

Here are three very simple yet amazing practices that will ground you and connect you to your body and up level your awareness quotient. These exercises are very effective for everybody from a busy professional to a student, and the best part it is that it is all free.
Yes the good old focus on breath and a couple of deep breathings will bring you back to your bodily awareness. Take a deep breath with the intention of breathing in love and joy and with the exhalation release all that is stagnant and not serving you. A couple of deep breathings with this intention before an important meeting, an interview or an exam will center you and connect you to the moment. I call it my personal quick fix.
I AM Aware:
An exercise that I find very effective is saying this to myself while doing any task. For example when I am writing and tend to get lost in my thoughts, I bring back my focus and concentration by simply saying “I am aware I am writing.” This can be extended to any activity that you are doing or not doing. I am aware I am sipping my tea. I am aware I am walking in my lawn, I am aware I am lazying and sinking into my couch. Anything and everything, this really simple yet very effective exercise will allow you to live and enjoy your day with enhanced mindfulness.
Thought Less:
We are all inhabiting our bodies yet mostly living in our thoughts. Notice and be aware of how you go about the day and you will quickly recognize this. Infact, energy healers say that because of this we tend to fall sick and get unwell. If only we start living more in our body than in our mind we will heal better, live better and feel better. As soon as you start to get lost in the mental narratives and stories, bring yourself to an awareness of your five senses. What are you seeing? Hearing? Touching? Feeling? And tasting? Yes just the aliveness of this will bring your awareness to your body and raise your vibe, conscious and consciousness. This is a most effective manner that allows you to fully feel into your emotions and expose the feeling into awareness. For example if you are feeling angry and you expose your anger to yourself by feeling from where it is arising in your body and how it is rising and enveloping your energy field, how it is showing up for you, how are you looking, what are you hearing or saying; you will loosen its grip on you and will be able to unhook yourself. I do it all the time, feel my emotion, its origin, its trajectory and then allow it to gently let go.

While there are various ways to connect to yourself, these are some of the simple ones that you can do at any time of the day and for anything that is showing up for you. If you start developing this muscle of mindfulness through practice you will soon become a pro.