Punctuate Life

Pause Breathe Relax

Children of a Lesser God?

13 Comments

My blood was boiling all of December. The newspapers were full of stories of rape and abuse of women all over India. It made me sick to the stomach. This was not the India I used to live in. How did we ever get here?

Attitude

Most mothers tell their daughters to ignore bad behavior or to put up with it. Not in my family. My mom never put up with men falling all over her on the bus or sticking to her like nettles. She nudged them, stepped on their toes, yelled at them royally and even prodded them with her umbrella! When I got pinched by an auto driver, my grandma went straight to the cops. Many were afraid that the auto driver would seek revenge and pose a threat to me. But I did not buy that story.

So don’t go telling your daughter, “Men are like that only! Get used to it.” HELL NO! That leaves our daughters powerless and at the mercy of lecherous men. My generation put up with eve teasing and groping and the present generation has to put up with rape? No can do!

Fight

Animals resort to two types of behavior when threatened. Fight or flee. I think as women we have done enough fleeing. The time has come to fight. We are not weak and powerless. What we lack in brute strength we make up for in our keen sense of intuition and our power in numbers. Every girl should learn self-defense. Carry mace or pepper spray. If you are a target don’t let the incident scare you out of seeking justice. Fight till your last breath and get all the support you need. This is where power in numbers shows up to your advantage.

Justice Delivered

I’m against the eye-for-an-eye-and-tooth-for-a-tooth policy. But the perpetrators of such heinous crimes can only be categorized as beasts. So if we can castrate pets who go berserk when in heat, why not castrate these insane men who think they can satisfy their urges by attacking the first female form they see. Makes sense to me and it seems to work in the Middle East countries. The crime rates are low because the punishments are severe!

Our defunct judicial system is badly in need of an overhaul. The victims shouldn’t be the ones that get humiliated and ostracized while the criminals waltz away. Don’t even get me started on the sorry lot that call themselves politicians or leaders!  About time that our democracy spells freedom and a right to a good life for all – women included!

Until then, sisters, mothers and wives, brothers, husbands and sons come together to create the India of your dreams. Don’t wait for someone else to make it a reality. You have the power. Go for it!

http://www.indusladies.com/forums/blogs/induslady/indusladies-4th-annual-international-women-8412/


Leave a comment

Free Will vs Destiny

In the years I floated around like driftwood with no plan or destination, I greatly believed in destiny (like most Indians do!) Karma is what brings suffering in this lifetime and there is little you can do but grin and bear it. It’s a powerless position to assume in the unfolding of your life. After making several poor choices and bungling like a fool, I gave my power away thinking that I was unfit to decide what is good for me. Let God or other people decide because I really have no choice!

Then in the years I went exploring new age literature and self-help books, I discarded destiny for free will. It felt powerful and free! I could create the life of my dreams by just thinking speaking and doing the right thing – in other words being positive. Not so simple as it sounds. But I took the idea and ran with it.  After years of playing tug of war with destiny and free will this is what I know. Both exist and both have a place in your life. You have free will to change the things that you don’t like in your life. But you cannot determine who or what shows up in your life. That is determined by destiny which in turn is your karma playing itself out.

Know this – you are creating karma every second of your existence. This knowledge is powerful, but knowing alone is not good enough. Acting on it by doing, saying and thinking only positive and loving things ensures that your destiny that is yet to unfold will be pleasant and something to look forward to.

We have no power over destiny or the past. The only time we have is now and we have the free will to make the present moment a positive experience. We have free will to go through our karma without getting depressed, dejected and blaming our fate (thala vidhi like they say in Tamil and Malayalam, like its written in indelible ink on your forehead!)  It’s not and I surprised myself when something happened. Something unexpected and totally horrific. My daughter broke her arm. It was no simple fracture. No simple surgery. I didn’t ask for this!

The old me i.e. woe-is-me-destiny-is-my-foe version would have had a field day calling everyone and complaining and sobbing at the misery that was my life. I had my moments – I cried looking at the X-ray of her totally shattered bones, but mostly version 2 of me was in charge. I accept what life has thrown at me (even though I didn’t want it!) and I will get through it successfully was the attitude I had. I called people and reached out, not to complain, but to ask them to pray for my daughter. I didn’t buckle down and let the worse case scenario play repeatedly in my head. I prayed, kept cool and most of all had faith.

It was in sharp contrast to the woman who was miserable when her infant son had to have surgery. I still prayed back then but it was a scared mom begging God for mercy as opposed to a person full of faith praying and having the deep inner knowing that ‘everything will be all right’.  It’s not like I never felt frightened during that horrible ordeal with my daughter and God knows it takes a long time for bones to heal! I replaced my fear with faith and a quick prayer.

Eckhart Tolle speaks of this in his book “A New Earth”, and I never got it until I actually experienced it. Let life flow through you, he says. Don’t resist. Don’t be like a solid wall. Good or bad accept it with open arms. Embrace life and enjoy the ride. If the roller coaster takes you up, you know its gonna come crashing down. Don’t go down bawling like a baby.

Embrace your destiny and have the wisdom to know that you can change it once you have learnt your life lessons. In doing that you take responsibility for what has shown up and hold the reins to your life. Believe me it’s not easy to do this. I still slip into the why-me-self-pity mode. But with lots of faith and infinite patience you will master it and then  life will not have the power to shake you up, twist you or squeeze all the joy out of you!

From Darkness to Light

6 Comments

I don’t know how many of you are fortunate enough to have taken an early morning flight from Orlando to New York (totally worth getting up at 3 a.m. for!). This poem is for those of you who haven’t. Nature speaks to us and it’s no wonder that great saints sat under trees or preached from the mountain tops. The beauty around you is a testament of God’s love for you. So next time you feel a cool breeze or see an amazing sunset don’t take it for granted. See it for what it is and receive it with reverence.

I was floating above the clouds and fog

The night sky with its blanket of stars

Stretched endlessly before me

The moon shyly reflecting

The morning rays of the sun

Its orange beams breaking through

The black ocean of clouds

Piercing through the darkness

Transforming the clouds

Into a frozen ocean with peaks and ebbs

The golden horizon lies beyond

Which was but a second ago

Dotted with infinite stars

A jet whizzes past my window

Above the milky ocean

With its white smoky tail

Now there, then gone

The sun broke through the clouds

Beaming gently and taking in the view

The top of the clouds tinged in orange

Every wave in the milky ocean highlighted in gold

Who might be the artist

Of such glorious paintings

That change every second

As I watch in awe?

 

The sun emerges from the prison of clouds

Shining with all its might

Bidding adieu to the starry night

I have to close my eyes now

For His resplendence is too much to bear

With the sun outside my window

And my heart singing with joy

For the wonderful treat I got

While up in the sky!


5 Comments

The Chennai Chronicles – Part 4 (Family and Final Week)

My four-part travelogue will not be complete without mentioning my wonderful family and the good times we had together. My parents and in-laws live in Chennai and that makes life easy for us…or not! My trip to Chennai in 2011 was spent shunting between the two houses! This time we had a better plan and we actually implemented it. It also helped that both my Dad and father-in-law were in good health this time.

December happens to be kutcheri season and several musicians and dancers flock to Chennai for the Music Festival. My daughter learns music and we thought we should take her to a concert (kutcheri). So on New Year’s eve we were at Narada Gana Sabha nodding our heads to Sudha Ragunathan’s beautiful rendition of Thyagaraja and Papanasam Sivan’s compositions. As a bonus we got to see a Bharatanatyam performance by two very graceful ladies (whose names I forget!). We also sampled the food at the canteen, which, according to my friend A, is the highlight of the Music Festival. She was right – the aapam and vada curry and the rava dosai were to die for!

The next day we were up early and ready for our road trip to Mahabalipuram, a very touristy place just outside of Chennai. It’s known for its beautiful rock temples with intricate carvings dating back to the Pallava dynasty. There were rocks to climb, caves to explore and wells to peep into. The kids enjoyed it, although it was an awfully hot day and there was not much shade. We then stopped by Fisherman’s cove for lunch. The kids couldn’t wait to run into the beach and we had to force them to stay till they cleaned their plates. Then they headed into the water with their grandma in tow. After dinner at Ashoka we headed back home.

My Dad returned from Kerala with my grandma, Ganga. It was wonderful to see her. She looked healthy and happy. She lives at the Shivananda Ashram now and loves it. She has a place to herself, healthy fresh food and she gets to chant the Lord’s name everyday. What more could you ask for?  I asked her to stay on till N’s birthday, so we could all celebrate together. It’s the second time that his birthday happened to be during our stay in India. The first time really didn’t count because both my kids were terribly ill and we couldn’t do much.

My cousin G’s mom sent a chocolate cake for N’s birthday. We cut it on the 7th and on the 8th we all went out for lunch at Eden. So N had a 48-hour birthday! How you ask? Well, his d.o.b. is the 7th and according to his star sign (nakshatra in the lunar calendar) his birthday was on the 8th. He wanted a RC car for his birthday. He also got an X-Box game and some clothes. His grandpa made a special payasam (sweet dish) for him. But the best treat of all was getting to celebrate it with his grandparents, his uncle and Ganga!

The next day Ganga left for Kerala along with Dad and we got busy packing for our trip back. It was with heavy hearts that we said our goodbyes, but with hopes of coming back soon, so we could do it all over again.

To our families – we miss you and greatly appreciate all that you did (the long trips, the amazing food and the crazy shopping) to make this trip a memorable one. Love you tonnes!