Monthly Archives: April 2017

Dublin Diaries – 5

Dublin Diaries – 5

Purpose of Life

Our actions mar or make us… we are children of our own deeds…

Whenever I attempt to bring an awareness about the need for meditation, I get to see the other, non-receptive, guarded side of these otherwise wonderful, magnanimous, smiling, sweet natured countrymen.

Last month, I approached the senior librarian (our local library), seeking permission to conduct a meditation session, he looked at me rather quizzically as if asking, ‘Really! Meditation! Did I hear you correctly?’  He gave me one single ‘check’ session, and in February; after a month’s deliberation.

Whilst conducting the session, I was very conscious of my accent and struggled for the apt words so as to convey the message in its true essence. As it is I had only one chance and if I lost that too because of accent and language…  So, instead of relying on my vocabulary and accent I thought it best to do a small experiment and let them find the answers for themselves!

Here is the experiment: I said, “My sister gifted this beautiful scented candle sometime in April 2016!  Now, what is the purpose of a candle?”

They answered: “To spread light”

I continued, “I am still hanging on to this for many reasons; but have I allowed the candle to fulfil its purpose?”

They answered, “No”

“Similarly, I hope you will all agree that you all are born with a purpose?”

“Yes”

“What is the purpose of our life?”

This is where they were all silent for a minute; contemplating over the exact, correct answer, maybe.  I did not want to put words in their mouth and elicit ‘my answer’ but I also wanted to lead them, so I prompted; ‘Do we acknowledge that we have a purpose?’

 ‘Yes’

‘Could it be only making wealth and more wealth or something more than that?’

‘It is something more than that’, came the prompt response.

I was more than happy; they were at a juncture where they were willing to admit the need to do something more than just amass wealth in this life.

All I said was, ‘That’s exactly what we learn today. Meditate and try to know the ‘purpose of our life’.’

A mere 4 registered; I would have been happy with one person too, so 4 was an achievement.

Like every other developed economy, they juggle work and home; complain about ‘no time, stress, pathetic quality of life’ and yet whenever I mention meditation they shy away. That’s the key difference I noticed amongst this developed country and the others. They are facing the same issues and tensions every developed nation is struggling with, yet they seem to resist change with all their might, which personifies a developing nation.

This makes them similar to my countrymen, a developing nations ambitious new generation; gripped with the inane urge to amass wealth at the loss of wisdom and simplicity. They have come to be regarded as a developed nation but the mindset is still that of a developing economy. This country is steeped in religion and appears to thwarts all else as sacrilege. They may not frequent the church, but they remain closed or have a sceptic view of other ideas and philosophies. India is also steeped in religion and resists change with all its might. Most of our spiritual leaders have been able to spread the word and the penetrate hearts of the people in the developed countries and failed abysmally in their own homeland. They have more acceptance abroad than at home. It reveals a sad lack of open mindedness, or an unwillingness to seek the truth.  Or maybe no money and the constant juggle to make ends meet gives precedence to nothing else. But that’s an excuse which can work for India.

This expedition of mine, to spread awareness of the importance of meditation, has allowed a peek into a different persona of this country. Almost all are working people, be it part time, full time, a few days a week, all work, and I am talking of my generation and my mum’s age group here.  They did have a joint family structure but today it is disintegrated totally. They live within the radius of 3-5km so that they can meet for holidays and occasions. And, the grand parents can look after the children in case of dire need! (This is exactly how India is shaping up today, and I am so against this practice).

There is a straggling array of take away’s and eat outs and get your food online apps; all are always very busy always. The rise in obesity is almost 10 times in the last 2decades. The rise in divorce, single parenting and cases of alcoholism, depression, suicide, ALL the vices of the wealthy, developed cultures are evidently on the rise here. it is a matter of grave concern to them, they keep discussing, analysing and share thoughts on open forums. Radio talks and TV shows are dedicated to discuss these issues, bring awareness and put their heads together to combat these widespread epidemics. They shake their heads despondently, cursing how development had ruined them, and suffering has increased manifold.  So, on the surface this is a very developed economy.  Scratch the surface and a developing, confused, defiantly letting go of the old traditions, complacently hiding behind ‘stress’, ‘busy life’ and continuing to complain and whine; resolutely refusing to change; that’s the new visage I encounter.  

Not to be discouraged, I went back to the library, to seek permission to continue once a week at least. The librarian was a bit stumped.

His first question was, ‘what was the turn out last time?’

When I said, ‘4’ The look was incredulous!

He very gently, not wanting to hurt my feelings, said, ‘Every week is impossible.’

I persisted, ‘I just want some continuity, so once in a fortnight would also be helpful.’

He again gave a long pause, went into the senior manager’s chambers and came out after 10minutes with, ‘We can give you 4 sessions, coming 2 months. Then we need to see the turn out.’

I nodded vigorously, (something is better nothing) and quickly confirmed my dates.

I have a long road ahead of me. Progress and ‘purpose of life’ are inversely related. That’s my understanding.

 

Defiantly Complacent

Defiantly Complacent

Defiantly Complacent

Recently,  I went for a training program  where I happened to be the only Indian amongst all Irish abhyasis. They were curious or keen to know about my country and countrymen. The sheer diversity of the largest democracy and how we Indians could be best described. Their main query was how we experienced and stayed in sync  with all such diverse cultures, languages, cuisines, religion. While I was trying to tell them about my country and what made us the way we are today, the above title sprung to my mind. I feel, these two words best describes us….’’Defiantly Complacent” I think those two words describe my Indian mindset! They were appreciating the fact that Indian husbands are so accommodative and understanding (my husband took me to the venue which is almost 180kms away, spent the day with our daughter, returned to pick me up in the evening). Had it been an Irish male he would have refused to budge out of the bed on a Saturday morning. I had a very complacent look on my face, but my mind had many defiant reasons to counter their appreciation. I complacently accepted the gesture that he drove me all the way, back and forth. My mind defiantly countered, ‘These foreigners! they want to be independent about everything and yet want an accommodating partner too! It takes two to tango. Whenever,  we wave the independence flag, then we end up having to do everything independently! What do we need anyone else for!’ I did not know how to drive and my understanding husband had graciously done his duty. I was defiant that he had to be specially appreciated for doing something he should have done spontaneously! Am I making sense? I was defiantly complacent at the same time. This emotional tug of war is akin to my country folks. As a country reflects the sum of individual faces and philosophies, isn’t it? I think I have already cited few examples of inconsequential or not so relevant issues where we have been profusely vocal and defiant (the ones that play ‘Dangal’ with my mind!). Then a few issues which I thought had merit and concerned us. The people of the country and we accepted those decisions without a demur, very complacently.   Another recent episode that comes to my mind and takes me on my thinking mode  is Amma’s demise. Half of Tamil Nadu went into mourning and the other half was keeping a hawk eye on who would be the heir to her abundant wealth. She left no apparent heir and has wealth enough to buy the whole nation. As she was the leader of a state, her wealth belonged to the state and not to any one person or successor of her political party. Neither it belonged to her ‘so called’ illegitimate daughter whose pictures were all over the internet. But, the funny thing was, we whole heartedly were shedding tears and mourning our sad loss. Her despicable wealth was such a big issue. We all knew in our heart of hearts what kind of a person she was, yet we cried our heart out and very complacently did nothing about which way her amassed wealth finally goes. It may very well have landed into the wrong hands yet again, and we would very humbly accepted it. Not a whisper about any of this amidst all the teary blogs, twitters and media posts.   The other instance that sprung to mind concerns the very popular show ‘Koffee with Karan’.  One of the guests (it is always a cine world person) said, ‘this is all we talk on the sets, in between shoot break, in the make-up vans and the buzz is all about who said what about who on this show’. Now, this made sense to me. They belong to that world and it is their life and they wish to keep themselves updated.  What puzzled me was the ensuing posts that popped up from everywhere else! We seem to have no life of our own, we have too much time on our hands. We are clueless about how to put this abundant free time to some constructive and productive use. Thus, we idolize these movie stars, emulate them, judge them, for their deeds or misdeeds. Their life somehow seems to add sparkle to our otherwise drab lives and makes it more purposeful.  It somehow gives me a feeling that we thrive on other people’s affairs; the more distant and disconnected the person the more is our curiosity to pry and be aware. After all, they lead a happy, rich and fulfilled life, and we squabble about them and miss out on our life. The fact that we don’t even argue about worthy stuff, is my other concern.  When Sania Mirza married the Pakistani cricketer, we had nothing to say. She happily got on with her life and keeps coming on the cover pages of glossy magazines, not sure how popular she is in Pakistan, she is a big role model in our country. Even our beauty pageants make a beeline for acting as if it is the  only career option for them. Their behavior affirms that “Beauty is skin deep” and young minds get convoluted with all the glamour and show. Why no one ever puts a ban on these beauty queens from taking up acting as their career choice is beyond me. With all the mindful  and meaningful interviews they give and all  the brand endorsements they would have signed, they should prove their point doing something more worthwhile than run of the mill acting! Yet, we have no say on this either.   We get very angry that people from other states have encroached and robbed the original residents of good jobs. We go on endless strikes trying to stop Karnataka from giving water to Tamil Nadu. We have divided our states for whatever political reasons. We stage dharana’s trying to put an end to the influx of people from Bihar and Jharkhand to Mumbai, Maharashtra. Within our own country, we are unable to share our resources, give umbrage, we become defiant. The gross truth is that we are not very tolerant, we are not as secular as we pretend to be, either. Yet, almost the whole state of Andhra Pradesh has gone and set camp in America; we are very complacent. We are entitled to go abroad, we encourage this move and are very defiantly too.  What sort of a logic is this? How can one explain this is beyond my understanding?  Are we not a very contradictory lot? Hypocritical too, if I may add.  We turn a blind eye, become defiantly complacent and take everything for granted in all the aspects pertaining us. And very defiant when things don’t affect us at all, how bizarre are we?

Game of Life

Game of Life

Game of Life

The most controversial game I have ever played in my life is Snakes and Ladders. It was never simply a game for me; it was a play of human emotions. It commenced on a cheerful, friendly banter note; one sibling teasing the other, and culminated into a raging emotional outburst! One of us would be livid or cry, leave the room in a huff; sulk. This was the only game where every player had a fervent prayer; either for their own victory or for the opponents’ loss. We have played Carrom, Chess, Chinese Checkers, Cluedo, Monopoly, Business, and many more board games, but Snakes and Ladders evoked something different in all of us. Every other game, we teamed up, helped the other person win; gave a grace chance or bent the rules a bit; it was all sportsmanship and game for fun.  Can’t say for sure why this game evoked none of those feelings of camaraderie and kindred spirit; as if the venom from those snake pictures poisoned us even before we started to play. One fine day, unable to resolve an ongoing dispute, dad threw the culprit (game) out of the house. I am sure he was worried sick of seeing his children ready to kill each other over a silly game.

Many years later, the dreaded game made its re-entry. Our darling daughter, used to love board games. Much to our dismay, she was not an avid television fan; within 10 minutes, she needed a new distraction. Even her favorite shows, she wanted one of us as company; listening to her narration! None of us could endure the torture of ‘Thomas the Engine’, or ‘Oswald’ or ‘Cee-Bee Bees’; thus, a new game every week became imperative; our only escape route. That is how Snakes and Ladders got reintroduced into my life.

She and I used to play for hours; and as a mother I was not competing with her, I was happy if she won. It made her happy too and I had a chance to sneak in a few other quick chores, multi-tasking was a feasible option. Her brother and dad also took my cue and she became the sole monarch of the game! Resultantly, she grew up not knowing how to accept defeat and overconfident that this was her game, none other was entitled to be victorious, ever. Our daughter’s sand castle crumbled, and her victorious spree was throttled when she began playing with her granny. Like her, her granny also, always, plays only to win, be it her grandchild or anyone else, and unlike us, she was putting her life into the game. Watching the intense play of emotions and brazen rivalry; it was deja’vu; I was transported to my childhood. The first time my daughter lost she took it sportingly and hid her shock well in front of her granny; she cried her heart out to me wailing, “Granny cheats! She is not a good person, she does not know that in snakes and Ladders I am the only winner, she won!” It was a string of epithets and wails, uncontrollable tears due to her first ever defeat!

That set me thinking; I definitely did not want to throw the game out of our life, like my dad. There had to be a way to win over this seemingly harmless, yet viciously disruptive board game! How come we all behaved so unpredictably when it came to this game? I could not let the game win over our humane side; that would be a true loss. I could convince and coax the granny to allow her grand kid to win; but that served no purpose.  what after that? How was my daughter ever going to learn to accept defeat?

Another revelation that came was; I had blundered badly; in my lethargy and escapist attitude I had inadvertently affected my daughter’s outlook; for which she may have to suffer for the rest of her life. I was unable to pacify my little one that day, just hugged her and kept thinking what my next course of action should be. She obviously did not go back to playing snakes and ladders with her granny, not in that trip, and I was glad. It gave me a reprieve; and time to introspect.

We sat down to play after a short hiatus; and whilst playing came my moment of epiphany. I had to treat this game as ‘The Game of Life’; win or lose, we have to accept both with equanimity, that was the spirit and attitude I wanted nurture in my daughter. Marshalling my defenses; ever so cautiously, I rolled the dice; and at every turn I spun a yarn.  When her soldier landed on a snake, she immediately looked at me askance; hoping I overlook, give her another turn, like I used to. It broke my heart not to. But I smilingly refused to succumb to those pitiful looks, instead I introduced a new story for every ladder and snake.  A ladder came when she was honest, able to compete, play fair, not feel jealous, and think that this is a game and every game is to learn, enjoy, win some, and lose some too! She lost to granny and she did not like it, and similarly I lose every time I feel sad too and would hate to play and continue to lose! A snake bite was when she was getting angry, ready to cry because I was winning. Demanding an extra turn so she could win or even teasing me if she was on 98 and I was miserably stuck at some stupid 10; not being humble, a snake if she could not cheer my previous win and so on and so forth.

It took time, some very patient, long drawn, exceedingly intense games before it finally dawned on her that she had to learn to play, enjoy the game, win or lose; every game had a lesson and in the end, it was a game, enjoy and have a good time.

She plays all games with the same ease and grit now, to win always, but willing to roll a quarter over to the winning side and congratulate the opponent too! Snakes and Ladders had arrived with a bang in my house, teaching my daughter and myself the game of life.