Friday, September 30, 2011

Remembering Thatha

I was Skyping with Amma a few days ago and I suddenly realized that I had totally forgotten a very important day- my maternal grandpa left us six years ago. I was really upset that I had missed the day (despite Amma telling me that the prayer ceremonies would be done on a different day depending on the nakshatram) and needless to say I spent quite some time thinking about Thatha.

I really don't know why I called him Thatha (the Tamil term for grandpa) rather than the usual Malayalam terms. I guess spending my childhood in Ooty had something to do with it, and he has always been Thatha for me. As a child, I thought of him as tough, strict and a disciplinarian. Someone you definitely wouldn't want to cross lines with! Despite the tough exterior, he had a warm heart, always kind, always considerate. I remember he used to be fiercely independent. Even when he was gravely ill with cancer, he insisted on traveling alone so that he doesn't trouble or disrupt anyone's schedule. He didn't like sob stories and was usually impatient when dealing with tears. He wasn't afraid of speaking what was on his mind, and never minced words. A very practical person, he always said what he meant and meant what he said.

I can remember my last holiday with him distinctly, as if it occurred only yesterday. We had just shifted from Bahrain to the Emirates and I had gone back to Kerala for the summer. I was sitting in the verandah of my aunt's house with Thatha. I was in grade 9 at that time, and Amma had dutifully returned from the bookshop with an R.D Sharma Mathematics textbook. (CBSE Torture! >.<) This would be my Bible for the next four years. (I'm not complaining though; the book was really helpful, come to think of it!) Anyway, that day, I was sulky about something and was in one of my irritated moods. Thatha was reading his Matrubhoomi newspaper and I was trying to look at the complex problems in the book, muttering under my breath. Then I started to complain to him. Thatha just looked at me quietly and said, ' Mole, your mother has taken great pains to go and get the book for you. Make sure that you do justice to it'. And that shut me up for the rest of the day, and each time I felt like complaining, I would remember what he said.

We celebrated his birthday that holiday with a huge sadhya and special prayers at the temple. This was sometime in July, a time when the monsoons strike Kerala hard. On his birthday, it was as if the rain gods were showering their blessings on us- it rained so much! My mother and valiamma made a hurried trip to the temple nearby to get the special pal payasam served as prasadam for Thatha. He enjoyed it to the very last drop. That night as he prepared to go to sleep, I remember going to the puja room and praying hard. As I went to wish him goodnight, I took a speck of sacred ash between my fingers and drew it across his forehead, fervently hoping that the vibhuti would cure him of the malignant tumor that was slowly but surely growing inside him. He held onto my hand and said, 'Thank you Sruthi mole, I'll be fine', his courage never failing to astound me.

And so, my summer quickly passed by and it was soon time to get back to school. Lessons, exams, new friends, debates and quizzes...all the time, a prayer for Thatha unconsciously etched onto a forgotten recess of my mind. And one day we got the news that Thatha had passed on. I cried bitterly that evening, this being my first exposure to death. I thought a lot about him that whole week- how I would run to him whenever he came to visit us at Ooty, asking him for my favorite Calicut halwa, begging him to allow me and my cousins to watch an adipoli movie while he wanted to watch the news, how he would give in to our demands at last, stern words of advice, proud smiles when I talked to him about my progress at school.

Time always allows the wounds to heal. Six years have since passed, and we all have moved on with our lives. He may not be here with us physically, but I can still feel his presence. I will always love you Thatha! And I know you're watching and guiding me, as I try to make my way through in this crazy world, from some distant corner of this vast universe. Everything has changed, and yet, nothing has changed at all.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gyan at 2.30 AM

It's 2.30 AM and I'm sitting in the common lounge, trying hard to stay awake and study. This is my idea of taking a break. I was thinking about the immensity of the workload in front of me the whole day. I was so overwhelmed I didn't even want to start working on it. Time passed and by the end of the afternoon, I realized I hadn't done much. So as the evening wore on, I decided to stay up and do as much as I could, no matter what.

In order to motivate myself, I tried to imagine that everything I did would be of great significance- thus I would definitely put in my best efforts. Attitude makes all the difference- I could have been indifferent and ignored the homework, pretending as if I had been busy the whole week. But I chose not to. And secondly, I decided to take it one step at a time. Step by step, towards my goal. Rome wasn't built in a day!

So what gyan do I have to offer at this point in time? 'Act as if everything you do makes a difference- It does!' Here's to a hopefully productive week! (and staying awake) :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Destiny

Funny thing it is, destiny. Many a time, we work towards something, and exactly the opposite happens. Cruel twists of fate, they always say. Or, the influence of inauspicious planets. Things seem to go badly for a while and when you least expect it, a miracle happens! After all, who can question the ways of the universe?

I was just contemplating on destiny while going to school today and I suddenly remembered a wonderful story I read somewhere ages ago. I'll try my best to retell the story here since this is something that has never failed to inspire me.

There were three trees that stood in the middle of a huge green forest. Each had a dream, a goal towards which they aspired. The first tree wanted to become the world's finest treasure chest. She dreamt of being made into an exquisite wooden box, holding rubies, sapphires, gold- all the treasures the world could ever hold! The second tree was equally ambitious. She wanted to be a mighty ship, traveling over the waters of the world, carrying none other than the King himself. The third tree wasn't as 'worldly' as the others; she longed for spiritual success. Her biggest desire was to grow to great heights so that her foliage would reach the heavens and thus God.

Years passed. One day, three men came to the forest clearing in search of some wood. The first man cut down one of the trees and brought the logs back home. He made a small wooden box out of the logs and the first tree thought that her wish would soon be fulfilled. Alas! He was just a poor woodcutter and didn't have the jewels the tree had dreamt of. He filled the box with hay.

His friend felled the second tree and brought the logs home. He sold them to another friend, a fisherman. And the logs were used to build a tiny fishing boat. The second tree felt that she had been betrayed- after all, she had always longed to be a mighty ship, carrying even mightier kings! And where was she now? Just a measly little boat, carrying only fishermen!

The third tree's fate wasn't any different. She too was felled and the logs were stored in a shed, soon fading into oblivion. To think that she had wished to reach God! And that would have been the end of the story but for destiny...

Years down the lane, a young couple made their way into a dingy manger. Tired after a long journey, they were desperate for some shelter since the lady was about to give birth soon. The only place they found was this manger. The baby was born and they placed him in a wooden box, stuffed with hay. It was the same box that had once dreamt of holding the greatest treasures in the world. As three wise men from the East arrived with their gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold for the child, the box realized that her wish came to be true after all, for she now held the greatest treasure in the world!

Years passed again, like they always do. A group of fishermen had set out on a trip in a little fishing boat. The seas were particularly rough that day, and to add on, a terrible storm rose. The men were frightened as the boat began to sway. The leader of the fishermen raised his palm and commanded the storm to subside. Wonder of wonders! Calm returned to the boat. The boat's greatest desire had been to carry royalty and today she carried none other than the King of Kings!

With the passage of time, the third tree began to wonder whether her wish would ever be fulfilled. One Friday morning, she found her logs being dragged to a hill. There were a few soldiers who nailed a man's hands onto the logs. They mocked at him and cruelly placed a crown of thorns on his head. And the third tree felt miserable. But on Sunday morning, a miracle occurred. As the sun rose from the horizon, the Son also rose from the dead. And the third tree realized that she had reached God.
*********
Destiny is funny indeed! I was just flipping through my old slam book and found this from one of my favorite teachers- ' When you ask life for something, it answers in three ways- It says yes, and gives you what you want; It says no, and gives you something better; It says wait, and gives you the best'. SO inspiring :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stroke of Inspiration

Yesterday was one of those routine boring days, filled with lessons and homework. After four hours of class, I was heading towards the Biz canteen for lunch with my friends, when I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to bring along my financial calculator. I had to attend a class on financial markets an hour after lunch, and without the calculator it would be pretty difficult to understand concepts. So I decided to return to my room after lunch in order to fetch it. And that was exactly what I did.

I had a little free time, so I went through the notes and tried to get hold of what is happening in the financial world. It all left me feeling slightly overwhelmed because there was so much to analyze and suffice to say, I wasn't feeling like attending the class later. I ignored the sly voice in my mind, encouraging me to bunk, and went out of the room, clutching my calculator. As I waited for the lift, I met the lady who had come to clean the floor. I smiled at her and she greeted me. Then she asked, 'No school?'. I replied that I was just going for lessons. She beamed at me again and said in typical Singlish, 'Must work hard lah!! Then only can go office and get high pay job!'. It was just a simple gesture and it probably doesn't make much sense, but to me, it was a stroke of inspiration. As I waited for the university bus, I kept thinking about what she said. It was pretty obvious that I needed to work hard to get a great job. What touched me was that she took the effort to tell that to a total stranger like me. As I walked into my finance class, I felt much more motivated and put in more efforts to listen and grasp the concepts. Sometimes, seemingly insignificant events leave a tremendous impact! :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Wait

The old man shuffled towards the shrine,
Where the fragrance of the hibiscuses spread,
Deeparadhana chants, devotees in a long line
Offered prayers to the Goddess, resplendent in silks of deep red.

In the temple the kathakali performers prepared for the dance
Vivid make-up, costumes colorful and grand,
Enacting an ancient epic, they began to prance,
Bringing energy and life to a still land.

As the drama unfolded, the old man began to think
He had been awaiting his son's return for years.
With each passing day, his heart starting to sink
He had lost his son and along came the tears.

His son had moved on to distant shores,
A land of skyscrapers and towers
A land where wealth literally flows
And he had forgotten the past, much like fallen flowers.

Yet the old man continued to wait
For hope is a wonderful thing.
It gave him the audacity to dream against fate
A reason to live, pray, sing.

The demon Keechaka was at last slain
And the drama came to a close
The dark clouds brought down gentle rain
Unfurling his umbrella, the old man rose.

Tomorrow they would perform another story
Duryodhana Vadham, maybe.
Their show would go on with all its glory.
And the old man would continue to wait and see...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Remembering Thatha

I was Skyping with Amma a few days ago and I suddenly realized that I had totally forgotten a very important day- my maternal grandpa left us six years ago. I was really upset that I had missed the day (despite Amma telling me that the prayer ceremonies would be done on a different day depending on the nakshatram) and needless to say I spent quite some time thinking about Thatha.

I really don't know why I called him Thatha (the Tamil term for grandpa) rather than the usual Malayalam terms. I guess spending my childhood in Ooty had something to do with it, and he has always been Thatha for me. As a child, I thought of him as tough, strict and a disciplinarian. Someone you definitely wouldn't want to cross lines with! Despite the tough exterior, he had a warm heart, always kind, always considerate. I remember he used to be fiercely independent. Even when he was gravely ill with cancer, he insisted on traveling alone so that he doesn't trouble or disrupt anyone's schedule. He didn't like sob stories and was usually impatient when dealing with tears. He wasn't afraid of speaking what was on his mind, and never minced words. A very practical person, he always said what he meant and meant what he said.

I can remember my last holiday with him distinctly, as if it occurred only yesterday. We had just shifted from Bahrain to the Emirates and I had gone back to Kerala for the summer. I was sitting in the verandah of my aunt's house with Thatha. I was in grade 9 at that time, and Amma had dutifully returned from the bookshop with an R.D Sharma Mathematics textbook. (CBSE Torture! >.<) This would be my Bible for the next four years. (I'm not complaining though; the book was really helpful, come to think of it!) Anyway, that day, I was sulky about something and was in one of my irritated moods. Thatha was reading his Matrubhoomi newspaper and I was trying to look at the complex problems in the book, muttering under my breath. Then I started to complain to him. Thatha just looked at me quietly and said, ' Mole, your mother has taken great pains to go and get the book for you. Make sure that you do justice to it'. And that shut me up for the rest of the day, and each time I felt like complaining, I would remember what he said.

We celebrated his birthday that holiday with a huge sadhya and special prayers at the temple. This was sometime in July, a time when the monsoons strike Kerala hard. On his birthday, it was as if the rain gods were showering their blessings on us- it rained so much! My mother and valiamma made a hurried trip to the temple nearby to get the special pal payasam served as prasadam for Thatha. He enjoyed it to the very last drop. That night as he prepared to go to sleep, I remember going to the puja room and praying hard. As I went to wish him goodnight, I took a speck of sacred ash between my fingers and drew it across his forehead, fervently hoping that the vibhuti would cure him of the malignant tumor that was slowly but surely growing inside him. He held onto my hand and said, 'Thank you Sruthi mole, I'll be fine', his courage never failing to astound me.

And so, my summer quickly passed by and it was soon time to get back to school. Lessons, exams, new friends, debates and quizzes...all the time, a prayer for Thatha unconsciously etched onto a forgotten recess of my mind. And one day we got the news that Thatha had passed on. I cried bitterly that evening, this being my first exposure to death. I thought a lot about him that whole week- how I would run to him whenever he came to visit us at Ooty, asking him for my favorite Calicut halwa, begging him to allow me and my cousins to watch an adipoli movie while he wanted to watch the news, how he would give in to our demands at last, stern words of advice, proud smiles when I talked to him about my progress at school.

Time always allows the wounds to heal. Six years have since passed, and we all have moved on with our lives. He may not be here with us physically, but I can still feel his presence. I will always love you Thatha! And I know you're watching and guiding me, as I try to make my way through in this crazy world, from some distant corner of this vast universe. Everything has changed, and yet, nothing has changed at all.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gyan at 2.30 AM

It's 2.30 AM and I'm sitting in the common lounge, trying hard to stay awake and study. This is my idea of taking a break. I was thinking about the immensity of the workload in front of me the whole day. I was so overwhelmed I didn't even want to start working on it. Time passed and by the end of the afternoon, I realized I hadn't done much. So as the evening wore on, I decided to stay up and do as much as I could, no matter what.

In order to motivate myself, I tried to imagine that everything I did would be of great significance- thus I would definitely put in my best efforts. Attitude makes all the difference- I could have been indifferent and ignored the homework, pretending as if I had been busy the whole week. But I chose not to. And secondly, I decided to take it one step at a time. Step by step, towards my goal. Rome wasn't built in a day!

So what gyan do I have to offer at this point in time? 'Act as if everything you do makes a difference- It does!' Here's to a hopefully productive week! (and staying awake) :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Destiny

Funny thing it is, destiny. Many a time, we work towards something, and exactly the opposite happens. Cruel twists of fate, they always say. Or, the influence of inauspicious planets. Things seem to go badly for a while and when you least expect it, a miracle happens! After all, who can question the ways of the universe?

I was just contemplating on destiny while going to school today and I suddenly remembered a wonderful story I read somewhere ages ago. I'll try my best to retell the story here since this is something that has never failed to inspire me.

There were three trees that stood in the middle of a huge green forest. Each had a dream, a goal towards which they aspired. The first tree wanted to become the world's finest treasure chest. She dreamt of being made into an exquisite wooden box, holding rubies, sapphires, gold- all the treasures the world could ever hold! The second tree was equally ambitious. She wanted to be a mighty ship, traveling over the waters of the world, carrying none other than the King himself. The third tree wasn't as 'worldly' as the others; she longed for spiritual success. Her biggest desire was to grow to great heights so that her foliage would reach the heavens and thus God.

Years passed. One day, three men came to the forest clearing in search of some wood. The first man cut down one of the trees and brought the logs back home. He made a small wooden box out of the logs and the first tree thought that her wish would soon be fulfilled. Alas! He was just a poor woodcutter and didn't have the jewels the tree had dreamt of. He filled the box with hay.

His friend felled the second tree and brought the logs home. He sold them to another friend, a fisherman. And the logs were used to build a tiny fishing boat. The second tree felt that she had been betrayed- after all, she had always longed to be a mighty ship, carrying even mightier kings! And where was she now? Just a measly little boat, carrying only fishermen!

The third tree's fate wasn't any different. She too was felled and the logs were stored in a shed, soon fading into oblivion. To think that she had wished to reach God! And that would have been the end of the story but for destiny...

Years down the lane, a young couple made their way into a dingy manger. Tired after a long journey, they were desperate for some shelter since the lady was about to give birth soon. The only place they found was this manger. The baby was born and they placed him in a wooden box, stuffed with hay. It was the same box that had once dreamt of holding the greatest treasures in the world. As three wise men from the East arrived with their gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold for the child, the box realized that her wish came to be true after all, for she now held the greatest treasure in the world!

Years passed again, like they always do. A group of fishermen had set out on a trip in a little fishing boat. The seas were particularly rough that day, and to add on, a terrible storm rose. The men were frightened as the boat began to sway. The leader of the fishermen raised his palm and commanded the storm to subside. Wonder of wonders! Calm returned to the boat. The boat's greatest desire had been to carry royalty and today she carried none other than the King of Kings!

With the passage of time, the third tree began to wonder whether her wish would ever be fulfilled. One Friday morning, she found her logs being dragged to a hill. There were a few soldiers who nailed a man's hands onto the logs. They mocked at him and cruelly placed a crown of thorns on his head. And the third tree felt miserable. But on Sunday morning, a miracle occurred. As the sun rose from the horizon, the Son also rose from the dead. And the third tree realized that she had reached God.
*********
Destiny is funny indeed! I was just flipping through my old slam book and found this from one of my favorite teachers- ' When you ask life for something, it answers in three ways- It says yes, and gives you what you want; It says no, and gives you something better; It says wait, and gives you the best'. SO inspiring :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stroke of Inspiration

Yesterday was one of those routine boring days, filled with lessons and homework. After four hours of class, I was heading towards the Biz canteen for lunch with my friends, when I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to bring along my financial calculator. I had to attend a class on financial markets an hour after lunch, and without the calculator it would be pretty difficult to understand concepts. So I decided to return to my room after lunch in order to fetch it. And that was exactly what I did.

I had a little free time, so I went through the notes and tried to get hold of what is happening in the financial world. It all left me feeling slightly overwhelmed because there was so much to analyze and suffice to say, I wasn't feeling like attending the class later. I ignored the sly voice in my mind, encouraging me to bunk, and went out of the room, clutching my calculator. As I waited for the lift, I met the lady who had come to clean the floor. I smiled at her and she greeted me. Then she asked, 'No school?'. I replied that I was just going for lessons. She beamed at me again and said in typical Singlish, 'Must work hard lah!! Then only can go office and get high pay job!'. It was just a simple gesture and it probably doesn't make much sense, but to me, it was a stroke of inspiration. As I waited for the university bus, I kept thinking about what she said. It was pretty obvious that I needed to work hard to get a great job. What touched me was that she took the effort to tell that to a total stranger like me. As I walked into my finance class, I felt much more motivated and put in more efforts to listen and grasp the concepts. Sometimes, seemingly insignificant events leave a tremendous impact! :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Wait

The old man shuffled towards the shrine,
Where the fragrance of the hibiscuses spread,
Deeparadhana chants, devotees in a long line
Offered prayers to the Goddess, resplendent in silks of deep red.

In the temple the kathakali performers prepared for the dance
Vivid make-up, costumes colorful and grand,
Enacting an ancient epic, they began to prance,
Bringing energy and life to a still land.

As the drama unfolded, the old man began to think
He had been awaiting his son's return for years.
With each passing day, his heart starting to sink
He had lost his son and along came the tears.

His son had moved on to distant shores,
A land of skyscrapers and towers
A land where wealth literally flows
And he had forgotten the past, much like fallen flowers.

Yet the old man continued to wait
For hope is a wonderful thing.
It gave him the audacity to dream against fate
A reason to live, pray, sing.

The demon Keechaka was at last slain
And the drama came to a close
The dark clouds brought down gentle rain
Unfurling his umbrella, the old man rose.

Tomorrow they would perform another story
Duryodhana Vadham, maybe.
Their show would go on with all its glory.
And the old man would continue to wait and see...