30 July 2007

Stories of our lives

Have you ever tried telling your own story to somebody? The story of your life. From the day that you were born till now. If you like to do an exercise try telling the story of your life in third person to somebody for 10 minutes. Continue the same exercise with a second person for 10 minutes. May be you want to do the same exercise with another 5 people. Make notes in your diary about what you tell each person.

Check back your diary after telling your story to 7 people.
Answer the following questions for each story that you told the other person -
What part of your life did you tell ?
What was the main issue of the story ?
Why did you tell that story?
Were you comfortable telling the story?
If you tell the same story again what part would you change?
What did you realise after telling the story to the 7 people?

29 July 2007

Breathe in ... Breathe out.

This weekend I learnt to breathe. The same way I breathed the first time I came into this world.

It is said that in the course of growing up we forget to breathe correctly. We usually breathe only 1/10th of the capacity of our lungs. We thus collect a lot of toxins in our body. We forget to smile. We laugh a little. And we feel sad a lot. We get easily frustrated and upset. Anger mounts on us like a heaping pile of garbage. We sweat and frown. We sleep less and be awake trying to figure out what to do next. We are always waiting. Waiting for the next thing to happen. We are happy a little and wonder why it did not happen to me. We obsess on our weight, career, family and the world around us. We are filled with thoughts.

We wonder why did we not have that house or why did we not get that particular job. Why the deal fell through and Why is it difficult to get clients. We are always worried.
We are not happy with our colleagues and get frustrated why is it taking a long time. We want to remain in control, but feel helpless and we wonder why me and why not him. We forget the moment and live in the future. We breathe hastily. And we do it half heartedly. In the process we forget to live NOW.

Since the past 3 days I am attending a session conducted by a Columbia University medical school professor who is volunteering his time teaching
the art of living course. He has been teaching this course to military veterans, doctors, layman, and everybody who is interested in learning how to breathe. Breathing fully triggers neurotransmitters in the brain, over a period of time new brain cells grow, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, gives a respite to arthritis, increases energy, helps in increased blood flow and helps to live happier.

Several medical studies have proved the profound benefits of breathing. One study on the effects of breathing on Type A/superachiever personalities show that they have been able to be far more productive with their time than before and have been able to shift their focus on things that they liked to do, and could spend quality time with their families too.

Are you grateful that you breathe every second ? I am. And I am learning to breathe fully.

Images by Auro

27 July 2007

A-P-P-L-A-U-S-E


Music by an unknown artist.

She was announced as the protege of famous musicians who play
tabla. They ranted the names of celebrity tabla teachers while her accompaniments, violinists and the cello player were not even introduced. The stage was set. The tabla, the cello and the violin were arranged such that it brought warmth even while it still sat for the artists to make magic.
The show was called to celebrate the tabla player. She introduced herself by playing the tabla. The people did not seem to warm up. Then came the violinists and the cello player. The cello player seemed excited playing the instrument because this was his first performance with his newly acquired cello shipped from Japan. The violinist was in tune. He seemed to enjoy what he played. He stole the thunder under the tabla player's feet whom everybody had come to hear . The cello player followed suit. The rhythm took over. The beats produced by the tabla player were left behind. The protege player tried to catch the audience's attention but resigned to the fact that today the unsung violinists and the cello player was taking center stage.
Image by Monceau

23 July 2007

We see the horizon.

He speaks so softly that I have to strain my ears to listen. He is so quiet that we will never know what he is upto.

If my friends whom I have grown up with met him, they would say, he is not my type. He is a numbers person while I am not. He does not understand abstract art, but he likes to paint. While I like to hop galleries and enjoy the streets, he would like to listen to classical music or play the violin. When I read a book , he will read a page. When I discuss politics, he will ask - who is the president of America ? He likes the outdoors and enjoys kayaking and hiking. He likes history and the national geography. And He likes me !

When he is with his friends another personality of him seems to emerge. Chess, physics, puzzles, music are their favourite topics of conversation. Growing up both of us were raised speaking different languages and in different faiths. Our friends wrote off our marriages - they gave us one year. One set of parents persuaded to break the marriage , while the other set refuses to talk till the marriage is broken. Life has been spersed with both joyful and heartwrenching rides. And we are in it together. No promises have been verbally made nor rings exchanged.

When we went to the city hall to register, I was the one with the question, " Do we need to get married? why can't we can just stay together? Things are easier that way. No expectations, No obligations, No heartaches". He said, " sign now, we will see later". It is 9 years now and the later is yet to come.


Images by Robert Thomspon

20 July 2007

pEACE.

"People who have made peace with themselves are the people I most admire in the world" said a famous writer of the 20th century. The statement is not only relative and would be interpreted differently by people at various crossstages in life. Can we be at peace with ourselves when we see injustice done ? The author made the above statement when she herself having produced one of the best literary marvels did not want to be overwhelmed about producing a second novel because of the pressure to keep up, inspite of having written a manuscript. She has aged in years , but did not publish the second novel. You may be wondering why am I not telling who this author is, Only to respect her privacy which she vehemently holds so tight.

Coming back to the quote, do you think you can make peace with yourself about what you have not done or what you were not able to do. How about unproductive times or about not having pursued your dream ? Is it painfully scary or horrifying ? or Is there a large amount of the doubt of failure which is looming large. Isn't perseverance better than being overwhelmed? Wasn't this kind of attitude that made the predecessors of wright brothers continue on their mission of being able to fly? Isn't it this kind of patience and vision that helped man to set foot on moon, to invent treatements to life threatening diseases. Isn't a dream to "make it happen" and refusing to hear " No" bought man to achieve all the good things that has happened to the human race.

I learnt that Discovery channel has come out with a series called Planet Earth - which has documented nature in 200 locations in all the 7 continents which was never seen by the human race. The producer and the host of the show that was promoting it said - "Global warming is inevitable. We are getting warmed up. This documentation is an attempt to tell our children, how beautiful earth was.” Isn't this the lowest form of being at peace about the inevitable.


Perseverance, Faith and Prayer has helped human beings achieve what we are.
Lets make peace of the wonderful things that this earth and all the people in it can achieve - harmony with the earth and within themselves. We will then break free and a generation far greater than what has passed will evolve.

17 July 2007

I said Hello and she said Hello

She was 5 feet and 3 inches, wearing a pencil skirt, well groomed for a 21 year old and trotting down the hallway in her high heels. She was hurrying down to the lab since she was running late. I was checking in at the dorm when I saw her for the first time and thought to myself, How can I get to know her?

In the following days between my classes and hers we would hardly see each other. But sometimes I would catch a glance when she would drop in for lunch. With her high cheek bones and a nice tan she was an attraction to many young men at the University. Her confidence and her athletic abilities helped her to stand tall from the rest of the crowd. Her strong sense of identity, intelligence, and leadership qualities found a place in many professors books and may be a heart too! She was a heart throb.

After being in the dorm for more than a month or two I greeted her "Hello". She looked at me straight in the eye and responded very softly," Hi ", said she and smiled. But I didn't make any attempt to ask her to hang out. I don't remember our first conversation and how we became friends.


It has been 12 years since I first met her. Life has moved with us too. Along the way we have kept in touch with each other. And been for each other along life's bumpy road and joys. One of the high point was when she fell in love and got married to the man she loved so much. I wonder what is the bond between us and what keeps us together , though we do not share common interests. She is into sports, music, film and technology, all of which I am not. These days she has been reading some french authors, so it seems and she has read 2 books this year. That's excellent considering the fact that it is difficult for her to read more than 5 pages of her textbook in one sitting. We discuss all of this and so much more. We call each other infrequently. It would be realistic to say she calls me and I email her. That's how we keep in touch. Work has been bringing her to the city next door and we get together whenever both of us can. I cherish her and the time we spend together.

Every time is a time better than the last.

15 July 2007

Workmanship







































It was the weekend, and I indulged in the art and crafts.The workmanship and the skill of the designers. They drew and visualised. They used local metals and the stones found in the area to create it. Religion, culture, tradition and passion played a role to create them and so did long hours of toiling to recreate them. These pieces have travelled from far. From far east, from a place called Rajasthan in India. A place known for palaces, of valor and bravery of kings and their kingdoms who patronised the artisans. Art and craft grew and spread all through out the state and beyond.
Images: collections of a friend who sells these pieces.

14 July 2007

The best things in life come free.

Don't we take it for granted - The sun present every morning and the moon every night. Though we know that the sun does not show its face for several days at certain times in certain parts of the world have we ever wondered what will happen to this earth if the sun never came out? If we look carefully at what we eat - nature produces all the food, anything processesed is more harmful in the long run. Aren't we more satisfied eating food that are in its most natural state?

It is not carbonated drinks that quench our thirst but a liquid that gushes out of fresh water springs and wells ! Cotton, one of the natural fabrics that is soft to our skin is also produced by nature. Anything mixed in this natural fiber reduces the breathing capacity of the fiber. Polyster should be rooted out. It adds more industrial waste and is an absolute kitsch. And what does one enjoy more, the ambience of a hotel or a day at the beach, A walk in the woods, the sight of the full moon and the multitude of stars in the dark blue sky. Isn't it more royal and regal than all the bling?

In all, it is nature that calms our nerves . We dedicate one day to it - earth day. We try to mimic nature than enjoying it more. The color, the sound, the sight of nature are more soothing . Don't we like to hear somebody sing or somebody play an instrument than that comes out of the taperecorder or the ipod ? Why have we stopped exercising our vocal chords and stopped playing instruments that enhances the sound of nature. It is easy to forget that when we play certain instruments - the temperature of the air, the humidity and many other such things factor in it. Behold Nature, it will uphold you. It will uphold your soul.
Image: Photograph of a wine bottle

13 July 2007

I don't know, Do you?

I found this painting on the walls of New Jersey Performing arts center in downtown Newark, a town southwest of where I live. Many other paintings were also around, but this truly takes the cake. Does anybody recognize what this is?

09 July 2007

It would help

Books have always been a major part of my possessions. Some of the books have been with us for a long time and is accumulating valuable closed shelf space in our small apartment. 90 percent of these books are read and are around because I like the comfort of them around me ! and are occassionally referred. I have stopped buying books and continue to use the public libraries and other university libraries that are near my town.
I am planning to move these books onto open shelves that will be kept in the front room since we do not have space for a separate study. My fear is friends and relatives would think this as a pompous gesture or even a faux pas. What do you think? .

08 July 2007

eARTH.

The heat wave is here and the weather is sultry. As I stepped out early in the morning to the balcony the sun was already beating down. They say, when one does not have anything to talk in common, they talk about weather. It is always a pleasant way to hold a conversation than an awkward silence in an elevator . It is also one of the better ways to start a conversation. But I am here for none of that. Don't we dread the wrath of the blazing sun, the way it parches our skin and dries up the water source. It makes us immobile and tired.
Words without actions is a man of lesser faith, says the bible. So are we loosing faith in ourselves, Are we going to get beaten by the sun and its temperature ? Or are we going to step up and stop it. You are the master and the controller of your life, said a famous poet. The cutting down of the forests and the depletion of many a jungles and carefull mishandling of the flora has led us into this deep chasm. We can plant a sapling, and protect the ones that are standing from being at the mercy of the real
estate developers in our town. It will pay back generously. It will protect us and will protect the very earth that we dwell.

It is easy to loose sight of the fact that we design our homes, make it colorful and entertaining but seldom extend it to the earth that our house sits on - The earth and all that is in it ?

07 July 2007

Lifestyle and Earth

When I was growing up, we used cloth bags to go to the market, canvas bags to carry books to school, cloth instead of kitchen tissues in the kitchen, reused tins to grow herbs and plants, used vines of certain plants as scrubbers, mud for a facial, leaves of hibiscus plants for an hair shampoo, earthen wares to cook, recycle old bedsheets into pillow covers, use an earthern pot to cool water, drink sugar cane juice to quench our thirst come summer instead of carbonated drinks, handwash clothes instead of a washing maching, make washing soap,use pestle and mortar to grind, eat whole grains and use 100% whole grain flour for making flat bread, reuse milk plastic bags to store leftovers , have seasonal vegetables and fruits and used fans instead of an air conditioner. Walking and public transportation was a way of life. We had limit order on our consumption of biscuits, cakes and icecream, though they were homemade .We slept on mats /cotton mattress and had a shelf of clothes. The furniture was made of solid wood and they are still strong after 3 decades even when all of us have tested our strength on them. This and so much more. We lived large in a small space. Today, I am trying hard to be an honest practitioner of what kept me sustainable and healthy.

This picture is an image of the tote bag that was purchased at the liberty park where they celebrated earth day. Now they are sold in the supermarkets for 99 cents.
Please visit the website online at www.kssf.de/EHF

03 July 2007

Freedom, It is Mine.

Need I say more?
When the US celebrates its independence day tomorrow many more grills will be fired and barbecue parties will be held. Shopping discounts are already in full swing and offices are half empty. Schools are closed and families are vacationing in lieu of fourth of july. Spectacular fire works will adorn the dark sky in the evening tomorrow to commerate the Independence. Amidst all this, people who have immigrated or emigrated are left wondering the rheoteorical questions - Has the country stayed true to its commitment as it was written in the declaration of independence? Are the inhabitants of this country free? Can they exercise their freedom of speech? Does the country give liberty and justice to all those who seek it ? Who is America ? Who are Americans?
Happy Independence day.


The Image is a travel brochure of Historic Caroline county, Virginia Map. Please ignore the folds.

01 July 2007

Back then.

It brought back memories. Memories when I was 7 years old and roamed around sugarcane fields in the blazing heat with my great grand mother. It quenched my thirst and satisfied my sugar addiction. My grandfather cut them into one to two feet long stem of sugarcane and handed over to us. We were a bunch of wild kids - from 5 year olds to 12 year olds. After a bath in the river and nice lunch, we had sugarcane for dessert.{These days it is cakes , pies, icecream and more sweets and that is why I am fat !!} We bit hard into them and chewed on it like cows. The grown ups around would say, " the cows have better table manners." The sugar cane fibres stuck in between our teeth. The juice trickled down from our mouth into our hands , to our arms and on to our clothes. And my mother who would be passing by would scream not to dirty our clothes. But at 7, a kid has already learnt to ignore the constant screaming of " your clothes will get dirty". This was a regular feature in summer, till my grandfather decided to cultivate vegetables as an alternative crop than sugarcane because it bought more food to the table. That was back then.
The above picture of sugarcane was taken on my trip to the Indian square in Jersey city. Sugarcane in the US is imported from Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

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