A dash of life

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Have you ever tried to blot a pool of water on the floor. The water trying to find a new path around the cloth, and the cloth trying to blot as much of water as possible. Every time you try to move the cloth around, water finds its way around too. Still at the end of it the cloth takes in a big dash of water, as much as it can. Life is a lot like the flowing water, and I want to be the cloth which absorbs as much as it can.

 Life, to me, is a bunch of experiences, some new, some old, some routine and mundane, some exciting and curious. There has been times I have asked myself, and people have asked me, as to why should we do something, or something like we do this and then what?. The answer to these questions have been different at various ages of my mind. Today as we speak, my answer to all those questions has been a single word “experience”. Why should we get married?, experience. Why should I travel, “experience”. Why should I try new food “experience”. You name it, the answer is experience. The only thing which remains after the goal is achieved is the experience, and there can be no question as to “what do I gain from experience”, because the answer is experience. This is one of those rare things where the journey and destination are the same, and no matter what path you choose you will always reach the destination which is experience. So if we go with my current theory that life is a bunch of experience. It makes it  a lot easy to answer the question. “what do I want from life”. The answer is experience, whatever the life gives me its gonna be experience, if I get what I want from it its gonna be an experience, if not thats gonna be an experience too. What I want though is to be able to absorb as much as possible from my experiences.
There is a lot of things I want to experience, To begin with, I would love to meet new people, Some would turn into acquaintances, some relationships, some would turn into unknown bonds, some would just fizz out. But I want to be able to experience the human equations, I have spent a lot of time running away from it, but now is the time to make mends to it.
 
Travel is another area which I never run out of experiences from. People we meet, the place, the weather, the food. Its a whole palette of life thrown into a platter for a jumbo size serving. I wish I could travel more both with my family and alone, because I always enjoy company and being alone. Work travels always gives me a perspective which I never get when I am with family. It also opens up a window, where I can seek out to meet people which I would not do If I had company.
Assuming roles has given me a great new perspective in life. Be it being a father, a mentor at work, being a husband, a son, a son in law. There has always been a change with the role. Even being a friend has role changes over years, there was a time when we had surreal friendships, with no insight into each other, now with years on our side, we can think and discuss on deeper things. Internet and blogworld gave me a whole bunch of roles on line with people whom I had hardly met. It is a part of my life which is very close to my heart, because it gave me a rich dash of experiences at a time I was facing tough inter personal choices and questions.
Books have also added to my experiences. They have given me the ability to imagine situations and characters, debate ion behaviors and mindsets of a wide variety of people. It also provides a new outlook on possibilities and extremes to which world can get into.
When you look at life on the whole, the short term things like a problem at work [by problem I mean a work item which is bothering us], a promotion which I am aiming for, an electronic gadget that I want to buy, the house that I want to build etc seem insignificant. But they are not, each of these give you such rich experience, that one ends up thoroughly enjoying it. So when I order my favorite cup of coffee at a near by joint, I want to be able to enjoy the experience as much , as I would enjoy a complex relationship with a friend. When I solve an issue working two hours at a stretch I am as much delighted with the result, as the one at the end of a two week vacation to Himalayas.
If I have not got there, I should get there.
I do want to be wash cloth that blots the life.
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A friend asked me “What do you want from life”. It was out of blue and I was wordless, it was too profound a question to be answered with a few words or being decisive in answering it. I took about a week to arrive at something which shouldn’t have taken a lot of thinking. Even though I haven’t blogged in ages, nor connected with any of my blog friends lately, I thought it might interest someone out there.

That which remains

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Memories are always cherished. They are the only thing of your loved ones that remain long after they are gone. Still why is it that, after a period of time, we wish we had more memories of people we care about? How is it that our parents have a long list of memories from our childhood, and none from our recent past? Why is it that we end up having to think hard to relive a memory of our time with our parents?

Memories are moments of life which survive the test the time. For moments to survive, they need to have occurred in the first place. Having said that, moments do not occur, they transpire over time. You realize moments, a while after you have lived them. The key here is the time factor. Unless you “live” them, you wouldn’t realize your moments. Unless you have your moments, you won’t have the joy of memories.

I was thinking about ways we could fill our lives and our parents’ with memories, and here is a list of things which would add joy to our time with parents.

Be a part of their activities:

Parents have their own set of activities revolving around their interests. Your mom might prefer going to a nearby temple, over dining out. Your dad might like taking a walk to the neighborhood market or enjoy the simple joys of working on a crossword or a soduku. It may bring a smile to their faces, when you volunteer to be part of these day to day activities of theirs. The small time spent with them, doing things which they love to do, can surprise you with happiness which you may never look for in these activities.

Include them in your activities:

You could just be watching TV on a Sunday, [Yes,  watching TV is an activity, even though my wife disagrees], it’s nice to pull your parents along to watch a song which you know they love. They might be busy in their world, but I am sure, they wouldn’t mind dropping in to watch their favorite song, when its on TV. If you have plans for shopping, or even a visit to your favorite “chatwallah” round the corner, it would be nice to invite them to join you once in a while. It is possible they would want to avoid this intrusion into your life, but reassurance that they are invited whole-heartedly can work wonders. You would know many facets of their life, which I am sure you will treasure.

Discuss a problem with them:

Parents have loads of experience and would have faced a whole lot of problems in their lifetime. Having solved all the problems for their kids over years, suddenly they are of not much use once the children grow up. Times have changed, and world has changed a lot, you might feel they are not of much help in the problem you are facing today, which might be true as well. However, there is nothing like the feeling of being needed by children, there is nothing like having the satisfaction of having helped your children. Why rob them of this pleasure?

Discuss the problem you are facing, they might have some great insight which might help you, even if they don’t, just talking about the problem, might ease your burden, and bring them joy. Discussing a problem does not mean complaining to them all the time, or forcing your problems on them.

Try to help them out in their problems:

Many of the new age parents are financially independent; this does not mean they do not have financial problems or that they do not have doubts and dilemmas. Introduce them to newer financial products which they may not have access to, and discuss your idea of finance and it management.

They might have many issues, which they would not know whom to contact, they may not even be able to identify their problems. Lending an ear, can help them figure out many of their problems and issues. Its very common for the old people to dismiss their children’s advice, or not be able to follow what the children are trying to convey. Just like your children, your parents too can come across as adamant, and stubborn. Please not that you are trying to solve their problem, and just like the way you let your children make mistakes, you may have to deal with letting your parents make mistakes too. The experience of being a part of their problems, is as rewarding as being able to solve their problems.

Go on a vacation:

Living with your parents, or visiting them often, helps in spending quality time with them. however, thats not enough. Taking time off, and heading to a vacation, however short in duration it may be, helps you to spend a relaxed time with them. Many a times, with the amount of pressure on individuals these days, the time spent with family is either an aftermath of a busy day of work, or in preparation of the things to come at work the next day, even weekends are spent in attempts to rewind from a busy week, or trying hard to relax before the madness of the coming week. A relaxed vacation can bring a much needed open mind when spending time with your parents. A vacation also usually brings out the youth in parents, giving them another reason to smile.

Gift them needful things:

People usually have lot of occasions to gift their parents; there are always birthdays and anniversary, and fathers and mothers day. The clichéd saree from your first salary to your mother still lingers around. It’s nice to gift them big, but its even better to have an eye for their smaller necessities. Be it a pen which needs a new refill or a worn out wallet of your dad, a soothing gel for your mothers cracked heals, or even refill of their prescription medicine. It is not that, they cannot afford these, or that they can’t do these chores on their own, this just gives them the satisfaction of being looked after, and provides you of the joy of taking care.

A family meal:

One shared meal with the family everyday is easiest way to build memories. Even most silent of the families open up over a dinner table. Dinner table conversation involves everyone in the table,  it can vary from discussing a cartoon character, to worrying about the country’s financial and political woos. Sharing a meal, provides a common ground for sharing opinions, and sharing each other’s highlights from the day. There are many a laughs and smiles which always remain long after the eaten meal has left your system.

Request a dish:

A family always knows each other’s likes and dislikes, and food has always been a big part of Indian households. Even today my uncle sends my favorite peda from Ahmedabad, whenever someone comes over. Why not make it a point to celebrate food once in a way. Why not request your mom to cook your favorite dish, amidst your busy week. Why not ask your dad to decide the menu for the Saturday’s lunch, believe me, even non foodies love to decide the menu.

A small get together:

Most of us do not share our social lifes with our parents. We never have time for people who are important to them. We do not consider it important to share people who are important to us with them. How many of our friends really know our parents, or have spent 10 minutes over coffee with our parents. It might be worth organizing a small get-together involving both worlds. You can keep it intimate with few of your best friends, and few of your parents friends.

Just because I have mentioned these points over here, does not mean I practice all of them. I may have followed some of them, and might have thought of trying some.

As I collect my memories of my parents, I would love to discover more things which I can do to earn them.

On the other side.

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Ah! my stomach hurts
Phew! the breakfast today sucks. I want something else
Mom, students are picking on me at school, I wont go to school from now on.
I didn’t sleep well last night, and now my head hurts, do something about it.
Damn!, No power since morning, and we have the cricket match today. Why can’t you give a complaint to KEB
Why does grandmother have to worry about how late I take bath, would you please tell her not to bother.
The waiter has served a coffee which is cold, why can’t you shout at him,
The sheets are dirty and the lunch served is not hot, how can they get away with such service.

Yes, yes. I know you all get the idea. I have listed a bunch of complaints and cribs I used to have. Isn’t it fun complaining?. For a long long time, I have been complaining, to my dad, to my mom. Its almost mechanical, for children to complain to parents. As a child, what I did not notice, was that, it was mechanical for my mom also to complain to my dad. So where does that leave my dad?, who does he complain to?.

Marriage changes our life in many ways, some good and some bad. Its always fun to complain, as long as you are the one who is complaining. [The last part of that has been a more recent realization]. Today when my wife complains to me, I realize how it feels to be complained to, how helpless it makes us feel at times, how irritated we get when the problems are trivial [in my point of view], how frustrated we get when the solutions is not accepted by the complainer, how foolish it feels when the complainer is not even up for solving the problem.

Sometimes I listen to my wife complain, and my mind is shouting back at me. “Hold on, I don’t want to listen, I want to be the one who complains. No, not you, you don’t get to complain to me, I am the one who has the privilege”.

Complaints are mostly a way for us to vent our frustration, in many a cases we are fully aware of the fact that, the other person has absolutely no way of solving the problem. Unfortunately a person who hears the complaint, does not see it in the same light. He is obligated to solve the problem, or dismiss the same. In both the cases listening to complaints lead to a whole lot of irritation

When I think about things in retrospect, everything makes so much more sense. However, in the moment, I just don’t want to listen, I want to escape, I want the other person to stop. The irritation just shows up clean and clear on my face.

I guess marriage needs me grown up in a whole lot of ways.

Until then, I still want to be the one who gets to complain.

Entering a temple

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As I was walking into my workplace today I saw a man walking in ahead of me. He did not have the employee badge, buy his attire he looked like he works as one of the support staff.  As we were both about to enter the automated glass door, he did something which caught my eye. He touched the glass and touched his forehead and his eyes. [This is a gesture called “kannigotkolodu”, in other words saluting a divine entity]. We usually do this when we are praying to the god, or entering a temple as we consider the temple a divine abode. His action was impulsive and am sure it was part of  his daily routine.

I do not think his gesture is blind faith or superstition. In it, I see a lot of respect for the place which is giving him his livelihood. His act made me think,

How many of us employees have this feeling of entering a temple as we enter our workplace?.

Do we really value and respect our job as much?

Are values like these outdated in todays fast paced IT world?

The story of loris.

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I was on my way to work today, listening to my ipod, and the song “surmayee ankhiyon mein” from the movie Sadma came on. Now don’t ask me why I listen to a lori [A song meant to induce sleep] on my way to work. I am definitely not the types who listen to peppy music in the mornings. As I was enjoying the tremendous song, and happily feeling the emotions it inspires in me, it struck me that in the past few years there has been no new lori song, nothing I can remember in movies, I don’t even want to get into the state of non filmi music in India.

I was thinking what could be the reason behind this change in the taste of music lovers [I assume the industry does work on supply demand basis].

How many of modern day mothers really put their babies to sleep by singing songs?, well to be frank how many of the mothers really put babies to sleep. With this fast paced world, where the ‘mom’ is usually more busier than the ‘dad’ running around the house and having to work, I do not think she would get enough time to put the baby to sleep, let alone spend a relaxed few minutes singing loris to the kid. Actually I find it a little sad.

The taste in the music too has changed over the years, with slow songs not finding many takers, and I don’t think any one would feel like sleeping listening to a “dinka Chika”. I remember one of my cousins, who has this habit of singing songs all throughout the day when she is doing her household work, in fact we had a nick name for her as “ATN” one of the old music channels which kept on playing hindi songs. When she got her baby, she continued to sing along throughout the day, and  one day we caught her trying to make the baby sleep by singing the song “Tu Cheez Badi Hain Mast Mast”. We actually couldn’t stop laughing and didnt stop teasing her for a while.

Is the concept of a lori too unrealistic and something which shows up only on screen. I always wondered about that. My mom never sang loris to put me to sleep, in fact she would be too tired by the end of the day to even talk to me, being a working mom, that too when my father used to be away all the time was not easy for her.

Frankly speaking I don’t see my wife putting our kids to sleep in future by singing songs. Have loris become outdated?. If they are, it adds on to a list of many things which I feel sad to have become extinct.

Since movies have been one of places where people want to run away from harsh realities of real life, its high time for some music directors to get back the lost glory of the loris back on screen.

A birth tree

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Recently I read about the idea of birth-trees. No , I am not talking, about the tree which matches your star sign. I say that because, you google for “birth-tree” and top 10 hits are about how to find your birth-tree. The birth tree I am talking about is an interesting concept in many communities, where in, they plant a tree when a baby is born. I read about two very different philosophies behind the same act [Ritual, if you want to term it that way].

Some communities in Kashmir have a practice of planting a tree in the name of the new born baby. Since birch is the most common variety in Kashmir, its usually a birch tree. The idea behind the tree planting, is to nurture the tree along with the baby. The children too are imbibed with a sense of ownership for that tree, thereby making them take care of it. This tree is considered as a financial investment, and when the child grows up, it can be sold and the money can be used in setting up of the person.

Few parsi communities too have a practice of planting a tree for the new born baby. The parents take atmost care of the tree. They believe that the soul of the baby stays with the tree. Even when the children grow up and have to physically move, parents still have a feeling that their children are still close to them in spirits.

One practice is financial and practical, where as the other tends more towards the spiritual sides. I liked both the ideas; firstly it results in people planting the tree. Secondly and most importantly, it makes people think trees are our future just like our kids.