Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tevye and God

Today was a long, hectic day at NUS B School. Not a particularly happy one either, thanks to which I spent quite some time in worry. Which led me to question God. Which in turn made me remember Tevye's chats with God, in Fiddler on the Roof. Which promptly made me laugh and forget the worry, at least temporarily. :D

And here are some of those wonderfully funny monologues:

'Sometimes I wonder, when it gets too quiet up there, if You are thinking, "What kind of mischief can I play on My friend Tevye?" '

'It may sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not. After all, with Your help, I'm starving to death. Oh, dear Lord. You made many many poor people. I realize, of course, it's no shame to be poor... but it's no great honor either. So what would be so terrible... if I had a small fortune?'

'Am I bothering You too much? I'm sorry. As the good book says... aaahh, why should I tell You what the Good Book says?

And once again, I'm drawing inspiration from Tevye, the milkman! I shall survive, no matter what. Go away, stupid worries. You don't exist.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thoughts on Filial Piety

Yesterday I attended a focus group discussion on Filial Piety, as part of one of my CCAs for this semester. The discussion proved to be really interesting, especially in the context of Singapore, which is probably the only country in the world where a Parents' Maintenance Act is implemented. As per the Act, a parent can sue his/her children if they are denied of any financial help from them in their old age.

But I wonder whether filial piety revolves around only money. After all you could provide for them financially and yet, abandon them right? Many people take their aged parents to old age homes. In an attempt to remove the social stigma associated with 'dumping' old folks, these homes are now called 'retirement villages.' So you could put your parents in one of the best retirement villages in town, and thus provide for them financially, but nevertheless, isn't that still a form of abandonment? Some people say that parents would probably feel better in such a place, given that they get the necessary medical care. Further, their loneliness can also be addressed, through the company of people belonging to the same age group. However, despite these benefits, isn't it a signal that you're either too busy to care for your own parents, or worse, you just don't care? A sign that we have become more selfish, more materialistic, another fervent attempt to win the mindless rat race? A student in the discussion yesterday said that parents should not expect children to take care of them in the future, precisely because of this reason. And to a certain extent, I agree. But regardless of whether parents expect love and affection from their children in the future, I still believe that it is our duty to do so. Not just because of blood relations, not just as a form of 'repayment'. Because that is the very least we can do.

I remember a day when I had a bitter fight with Appa long ago. It was a stupid thing, really. I don't remember how it exactly began. But I do remember getting angry and refusing to apologize. I do remember telling Amma that I'll never speak to Appa again, never. In fact, being the immature, impulsive tenth grader that I once was, I told her 'I'd repay Appa for everything he did for me, but will not speak to him at all'. And that's when Amma just looked at me- no, she didn't get angry, she didn't raise her voice at all. She just said softly, 'Do you really think that's possible?' And that was when it struck me that it would indeed be impossible. Once again, it makes me reiterate that being filial is the least that we can do for our parents in their old age.

The discussion reminded me of an elderly lady, whom I will simply call Aunty. I have known her since childhood and as far as I can remember, she has stayed alone. Alone in a tiny flat, with only the radio and television to keep her company. This, despite the fact that she has two well settled children, who are presumably too busy to care for her. I am not blaming them; after all they also have their burdens to shoulder. But is it really fair? Aunty would have slogged to ensure that they have all the comforts in life and in the end, she becomes a liability to the very children she helped raise, the very children whom she thought were her only assets. Life is so ironical!

That's why I believe being filial is not all about material wealth. Just a warm hug, a telephone call, a sincere smile, a word to show that you care- that's what brings them happiness.

I remember Aunty goes to the temple and spends hours together there. Presumably, it's her only refuge from loneliness. In old age, solitude is often sought out eagerly. Solitude is acceptable. Loneliness is not.

The Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said 'The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved'. In my opinion, achieving success in life becomes immaterial if the filial bond is lost, or worse, snapped off. Simply because it means one has forgotten the past. Because it means one doesn't care anymore. Because it shows that wealth helped unleash the worst form of poverty ever. And what kind of success would that be?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why am I doing all this?

I've come to the end of a very very hectic week, finally! But, there are many more to follow. As I look back at this one week, I wonder how I survived it. I think it's because I kept asking myself, 'Why am I doing all this?' At each stage where I felt like just throwing in the towel, I reminded myself about my goals, my dreams, my hopes. And then the burden didn't seem so heavy after all.

Why am I doing all this? I found the question to be a powerful motivator, helping me to persevere further and ignore all the obstacles. My dreams and my goals spurred me on. Sure, it's a tough journey, and I may not always end up being the best, but at least I can be proud that I have been putting in my best efforts. I also realized, for the umpteenth time, that faith and hope can change everything! Here's to faith, hope and perseverance!

This a poem I read ages ago. I keep rereading it when I'm in search of motivation:

The Oyster

'There once was an oyster
Whose story I tell,
Who found that some sand
Had got into his shell.
It was only a grain,
But it gave him great pain.
For oysters have feelings
Although they’re so plain.

Now, did he berate
The harsh working of fate
That had brought him
To such a deplorable state?
Did he curse at the government,
Cry for election,
And claim that the sea should
Have given him protection?

No – he said to himself
As he lay on a shell,
Since I cannot remove it,
I shall try to improve it.
Now the years have rolled around,
As the years always do,
And he came to his ultimate
Destiny – stew.

And the small grain of sand
That had bothered him so
Was a beautiful pearl
All richly aglow.
Now the tale has a moral;
For isn’t it grand
What an oyster can do
With a morsel of sand?

What couldn’t we do
If we’d only begin
With some of the things
That get under our skin.'

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Quiet Joy

I was on my way back to NUS from Shenton Way yesterday. As I passed through Tanjong Pagar MRT Station, I saw a sign board with these words- ''There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.'' It set me contemplating. The past few days have been a mad rush to complete deadlines, essays, projects and assignments, along with the general worries of any university student.

As I traveled in the MRT, I just began to think and count off all the things I feel lucky for. Sure, I am not a perfect person. I have my flaws. There are times when I have complained, cried and thrown tantrums. All for trivial reasons, which seemed so important at that point in time. I thought of Amma and Appa, Muthacha back in Coimbatore, Amooma in Mumbai, and all my cousins, uncles and aunts. I thought of dear teachers who have played a critical role in making me who I am today, my close friends who have stood by me at all times. I was reminded of precious times from the past- my first pets, a pair of chickens whom I named Henny and Penny, brought by Appa on a trip to Ooty town; conversations with Muthacha; games with the entire cousin clan; sitting down together to watch an adipoli Mohanlal movie; trips to our favorite bookstore; arguing with Amma over which pair of earrings was prettier; eating sadya on a banana leaf; chanting prayers together at the altar, the weekly sahasranama chantings with Amma and so on.... And it felt great. Thank God for the small mercies in life! Suddenly, the sun seemed to shine brighter and my burdens seemed lighter.

At the same time, I was also reminded of certain unpleasant scenes. But surprisingly, instead of becoming bitter, I just let it go. And they didn't seem to matter anymore. As I walked back to my room, I watched the butterflies flutter by and listened to the song of the birds. I felt as if the whole of creation was dancing with me. Gratitude makes you happy, indeed! :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

'Life on Mars'

I'm feeling rather upbeat today, despite the mountains of work in front of me. And I haven't even started climbing yet. But somehow, that doesn't diminish my happiness or make me feel sorry for myself. Am I growing up finally?!

I have been listening to 'Life on Mars' by Happy Rhodes today. Totally love the lyrics. Maybe, this has heightened my optimism:

'Sleepy eyes, oh, your daddy lies

Look to the stars above
Oh, sleepy eyes, all your teachers lie
Look to the stars, baby, yes there's life on Mars
Oh, sleepy eyes

Throw away your fears if you dare
Life is everywhere, oh, sleepy eyes

Sleepy child, all your dream defiled
Trust in the stars above
Oh, sleepy child, life goes running wild
Trust in the stars, baby, yes there's life on Mars
Oh, sleepy child

Throw away your fears if you dare
Darlin' life is everywhere, oh sleepy child...'


Friday, March 4, 2011

Logic and Reason

I have heard many people talk about being logical, being rational when it comes to issues dealing with faith and spirituality. After all, one cannot really see God right? Why turn to blind faith then? Isn't it naive to submit to the will of a supposedly superior force, when you cannot even be sure whether He/She exists?

Well, to each their own! I happened to read this somewhere a little while ago and couldn't resist quoting it:
'The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British and the Americans. On the other hand, the French eat a lot of fat and they also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British and the Americans. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British and the Americans. On the other hand, the Italians drink a lot of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British and the Americans. So in conclusion, one can eat and drink anything. It's speaking English that kills you!'

This one really made me laugh. The conclusion is logical! But we all know that isn't the truth. I'm not saying that one should be naive and blindly trust someone/something. All am saying is that logic and reason really doesn't explain the mystery of the cosmos, the reason behind creation, the answer to one's existence. 'For we walk by faith, and not by sight...'

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tevye and God

Today was a long, hectic day at NUS B School. Not a particularly happy one either, thanks to which I spent quite some time in worry. Which led me to question God. Which in turn made me remember Tevye's chats with God, in Fiddler on the Roof. Which promptly made me laugh and forget the worry, at least temporarily. :D

And here are some of those wonderfully funny monologues:

'Sometimes I wonder, when it gets too quiet up there, if You are thinking, "What kind of mischief can I play on My friend Tevye?" '

'It may sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not. After all, with Your help, I'm starving to death. Oh, dear Lord. You made many many poor people. I realize, of course, it's no shame to be poor... but it's no great honor either. So what would be so terrible... if I had a small fortune?'

'Am I bothering You too much? I'm sorry. As the good book says... aaahh, why should I tell You what the Good Book says?

And once again, I'm drawing inspiration from Tevye, the milkman! I shall survive, no matter what. Go away, stupid worries. You don't exist.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thoughts on Filial Piety

Yesterday I attended a focus group discussion on Filial Piety, as part of one of my CCAs for this semester. The discussion proved to be really interesting, especially in the context of Singapore, which is probably the only country in the world where a Parents' Maintenance Act is implemented. As per the Act, a parent can sue his/her children if they are denied of any financial help from them in their old age.

But I wonder whether filial piety revolves around only money. After all you could provide for them financially and yet, abandon them right? Many people take their aged parents to old age homes. In an attempt to remove the social stigma associated with 'dumping' old folks, these homes are now called 'retirement villages.' So you could put your parents in one of the best retirement villages in town, and thus provide for them financially, but nevertheless, isn't that still a form of abandonment? Some people say that parents would probably feel better in such a place, given that they get the necessary medical care. Further, their loneliness can also be addressed, through the company of people belonging to the same age group. However, despite these benefits, isn't it a signal that you're either too busy to care for your own parents, or worse, you just don't care? A sign that we have become more selfish, more materialistic, another fervent attempt to win the mindless rat race? A student in the discussion yesterday said that parents should not expect children to take care of them in the future, precisely because of this reason. And to a certain extent, I agree. But regardless of whether parents expect love and affection from their children in the future, I still believe that it is our duty to do so. Not just because of blood relations, not just as a form of 'repayment'. Because that is the very least we can do.

I remember a day when I had a bitter fight with Appa long ago. It was a stupid thing, really. I don't remember how it exactly began. But I do remember getting angry and refusing to apologize. I do remember telling Amma that I'll never speak to Appa again, never. In fact, being the immature, impulsive tenth grader that I once was, I told her 'I'd repay Appa for everything he did for me, but will not speak to him at all'. And that's when Amma just looked at me- no, she didn't get angry, she didn't raise her voice at all. She just said softly, 'Do you really think that's possible?' And that was when it struck me that it would indeed be impossible. Once again, it makes me reiterate that being filial is the least that we can do for our parents in their old age.

The discussion reminded me of an elderly lady, whom I will simply call Aunty. I have known her since childhood and as far as I can remember, she has stayed alone. Alone in a tiny flat, with only the radio and television to keep her company. This, despite the fact that she has two well settled children, who are presumably too busy to care for her. I am not blaming them; after all they also have their burdens to shoulder. But is it really fair? Aunty would have slogged to ensure that they have all the comforts in life and in the end, she becomes a liability to the very children she helped raise, the very children whom she thought were her only assets. Life is so ironical!

That's why I believe being filial is not all about material wealth. Just a warm hug, a telephone call, a sincere smile, a word to show that you care- that's what brings them happiness.

I remember Aunty goes to the temple and spends hours together there. Presumably, it's her only refuge from loneliness. In old age, solitude is often sought out eagerly. Solitude is acceptable. Loneliness is not.

The Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said 'The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved'. In my opinion, achieving success in life becomes immaterial if the filial bond is lost, or worse, snapped off. Simply because it means one has forgotten the past. Because it means one doesn't care anymore. Because it shows that wealth helped unleash the worst form of poverty ever. And what kind of success would that be?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why am I doing all this?

I've come to the end of a very very hectic week, finally! But, there are many more to follow. As I look back at this one week, I wonder how I survived it. I think it's because I kept asking myself, 'Why am I doing all this?' At each stage where I felt like just throwing in the towel, I reminded myself about my goals, my dreams, my hopes. And then the burden didn't seem so heavy after all.

Why am I doing all this? I found the question to be a powerful motivator, helping me to persevere further and ignore all the obstacles. My dreams and my goals spurred me on. Sure, it's a tough journey, and I may not always end up being the best, but at least I can be proud that I have been putting in my best efforts. I also realized, for the umpteenth time, that faith and hope can change everything! Here's to faith, hope and perseverance!

This a poem I read ages ago. I keep rereading it when I'm in search of motivation:

The Oyster

'There once was an oyster
Whose story I tell,
Who found that some sand
Had got into his shell.
It was only a grain,
But it gave him great pain.
For oysters have feelings
Although they’re so plain.

Now, did he berate
The harsh working of fate
That had brought him
To such a deplorable state?
Did he curse at the government,
Cry for election,
And claim that the sea should
Have given him protection?

No – he said to himself
As he lay on a shell,
Since I cannot remove it,
I shall try to improve it.
Now the years have rolled around,
As the years always do,
And he came to his ultimate
Destiny – stew.

And the small grain of sand
That had bothered him so
Was a beautiful pearl
All richly aglow.
Now the tale has a moral;
For isn’t it grand
What an oyster can do
With a morsel of sand?

What couldn’t we do
If we’d only begin
With some of the things
That get under our skin.'

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Quiet Joy

I was on my way back to NUS from Shenton Way yesterday. As I passed through Tanjong Pagar MRT Station, I saw a sign board with these words- ''There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.'' It set me contemplating. The past few days have been a mad rush to complete deadlines, essays, projects and assignments, along with the general worries of any university student.

As I traveled in the MRT, I just began to think and count off all the things I feel lucky for. Sure, I am not a perfect person. I have my flaws. There are times when I have complained, cried and thrown tantrums. All for trivial reasons, which seemed so important at that point in time. I thought of Amma and Appa, Muthacha back in Coimbatore, Amooma in Mumbai, and all my cousins, uncles and aunts. I thought of dear teachers who have played a critical role in making me who I am today, my close friends who have stood by me at all times. I was reminded of precious times from the past- my first pets, a pair of chickens whom I named Henny and Penny, brought by Appa on a trip to Ooty town; conversations with Muthacha; games with the entire cousin clan; sitting down together to watch an adipoli Mohanlal movie; trips to our favorite bookstore; arguing with Amma over which pair of earrings was prettier; eating sadya on a banana leaf; chanting prayers together at the altar, the weekly sahasranama chantings with Amma and so on.... And it felt great. Thank God for the small mercies in life! Suddenly, the sun seemed to shine brighter and my burdens seemed lighter.

At the same time, I was also reminded of certain unpleasant scenes. But surprisingly, instead of becoming bitter, I just let it go. And they didn't seem to matter anymore. As I walked back to my room, I watched the butterflies flutter by and listened to the song of the birds. I felt as if the whole of creation was dancing with me. Gratitude makes you happy, indeed! :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

'Life on Mars'

I'm feeling rather upbeat today, despite the mountains of work in front of me. And I haven't even started climbing yet. But somehow, that doesn't diminish my happiness or make me feel sorry for myself. Am I growing up finally?!

I have been listening to 'Life on Mars' by Happy Rhodes today. Totally love the lyrics. Maybe, this has heightened my optimism:

'Sleepy eyes, oh, your daddy lies

Look to the stars above
Oh, sleepy eyes, all your teachers lie
Look to the stars, baby, yes there's life on Mars
Oh, sleepy eyes

Throw away your fears if you dare
Life is everywhere, oh, sleepy eyes

Sleepy child, all your dream defiled
Trust in the stars above
Oh, sleepy child, life goes running wild
Trust in the stars, baby, yes there's life on Mars
Oh, sleepy child

Throw away your fears if you dare
Darlin' life is everywhere, oh sleepy child...'


Friday, March 4, 2011

Logic and Reason

I have heard many people talk about being logical, being rational when it comes to issues dealing with faith and spirituality. After all, one cannot really see God right? Why turn to blind faith then? Isn't it naive to submit to the will of a supposedly superior force, when you cannot even be sure whether He/She exists?

Well, to each their own! I happened to read this somewhere a little while ago and couldn't resist quoting it:
'The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British and the Americans. On the other hand, the French eat a lot of fat and they also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British and the Americans. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British and the Americans. On the other hand, the Italians drink a lot of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British and the Americans. So in conclusion, one can eat and drink anything. It's speaking English that kills you!'

This one really made me laugh. The conclusion is logical! But we all know that isn't the truth. I'm not saying that one should be naive and blindly trust someone/something. All am saying is that logic and reason really doesn't explain the mystery of the cosmos, the reason behind creation, the answer to one's existence. 'For we walk by faith, and not by sight...'