For the many thoughts that come and go unannounced and the ones which refuse to budge out of my head…

Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Beauty in a Miracle



I often ask my father how I look when I try a new dress on. And he always replies with what I find rather unusual, ‘You look very pretty. But for me, that 5 pound baby covered in blood will always be the most beautiful.’

This often puzzled me. It was a tad heavy for a fourteen-year-old to understand. As I grew older, I asked my dad what this meant, when he finally told me when I was in my twenties…

“It was raining heavily that night. Your mother, then in her ninth month of pregnancy, was having several contractions and was in severe pain. The hospital was nearby, but going there would’ve taken too long, so we tried to call the doctor to our home.

A doctor and two nurses had arrived after an hour-long drive, for what would’ve taken merely 15 minutes otherwise. The rain didn’t stop and neither did your mom’s wailing.

I held your mom in my arms and lay her on the bed. She was at her heaviest best, but I didn’t feel a thing when I lifted her. All I wanted was for you two to be safe. Your mother leaked unfamiliar moans out of her pores in pain. I held her hand but I still felt as helpless as ever.

“The baby’s crowning. I can see the head.” One of the doctors said after making your mother push several times. I held your mother and wiped the sweat on her forehead every few seconds. She was being brave, and despite the pain, she tried to push you out with all her might.

After that eventful hour, the doctor held you in her arm and your mother fell into an unconscious state. There, in the doctor’s hands, was this little thing with blood all over its body and scratches of hair on its head. I asked the doctor if it was a girl or a boy and with a gloomy expression on her face, she said, “she isn’t breathing.”

My face fell. I went numb. It was like my world had come crashing down on me.

“Please do something, doctor.” I yelled in exasperation. At that moment the only thing I could be relieved about was your mother not being conscious.

The doctor kept you on the study table and rubbed your back and feet. Everyone in the room felt helpless, and watching the colour of your little body change, a tear rolled down my eye.

An hour passed by, the doctor now told the nurse to bring in a vessel full of hot water to dip a towel to rub on your chest. As time went by, she felt more and more restless.

Your mother was conscious now. And after telling her what happened she began to wail incessantly.

The doctor wrapped you in a blanket and took you to another room. Three hours had passed. And the nurse put her hand on my shoulder and said, ‘please pray for a miracle to happen’.

The doctor kept you on a higher platform, and rubbed your chest continuously. We had almost given up hope.

In a desperate attempt the doctor dipped her rubber-glove covered hands in the warm water to clean it. While rubbing your chest with one hand, she pinched your tiny nose and after a brief look at the sky in what was the briefest prayer ever, she brought her mouth close to yours and breathed into it. She kept doing that for a few minutes, until a miracle happened. All of a sudden you gave a meek cough, and a viscous liquid came gushing out of your mouth.

That sight I can never forget- your mother’s smile amid her tears and the sound of you crying from the other room.

The doctor brought you in, smiling, and gave you to your mother saying, “I’ll let you hold her before the nurse cleans her up.”

I had never seen that expression on your mother’s face before that day, it was full of joy, relief and tiredness. She gave you to me after she cajoled you and you stopped crying.

I had held you for the first time that moment. I could never be more thankful to God for giving me what was in my arms. You were still covered in a slimy liquid, your eyes still closed and you were wrapped in a towel. I rocked you gently a few times and I saw calmness on your face. It was that instant that I realised that, to me that was the most beautiful sight ever. The life that ran through your veins, that calm expression on your face, that beautiful little nose and mouth through which I could feel a mild breath pass through; it was all so beautiful.

For me beauty was in the life that I could feel in you, one which had given me more joy than I could ever imagine; beauty was in the eyes of your mother which cried and smiled at the same time; beauty was in the miracle that I had just witnessed. And in my eyes you will always be the most beautiful when I held you in my arms and felt you breath.

From that day on, I found beauty in every smile, every laugh, and every movement of yours. Because you were my miracle baby and whenever I saw you I knew what real beauty meant to me.

 What my father often told me was crystal clear to me now. I felt a little happy tear roll down my eye. My perception of ‘real beauty’ changed after my father narrated this story of the beauty in a miracle.

That Undying Christmas Spirit


This post was selected for BlogAdda’s Spicy Saturday picks on 25th December ’10

I belong to a Hindu family, but a very liberal one at that. One of those families who would be ashamed to disclose that they even belong to a religion in a secular country. All my life I have celebrated every possible festival from Eid, to Diwali to Christmas to just anything we would wish to celebrate. We just needed a reason for it. And my dad, being in the army, pretty much made us inculcate traditions from all over.

In school, being in a Convent, I had the fondest of memories when it came to Christmas. I have always loved Christmas. I love the carols, the gifts, the mass, the trees, Santa Claus… Just everything about Christmas gives me a certain kind of joy. But most of all I’ve always loved that ‘spirit of Christmas’.

Christmas was great back then. My ‘Convent’ Christmas parties were somewhat conventional, but none-the-less extremely enjoyable. We used to have little parties in the class where we would exchange humble gifts with each other and pitch in home-cooked food which we ate with just as much relish as we would have enjoyed a fine dining meal. There was dance, there was music, and there always was a Christmas play, and then there was always this one quirky thing that the batch passing out was supposed to do. When we were in the 12th grade, our entire batch was supposed to wear a Santa Claus cap for the entire duration of the Christmas celebration. It was a bit juvenile, I know, but we never complained. In fact we enjoyed doing that. 🙂

We had our bit of enjoyment, but we never let that Christmas spirit die. After our celebration was done we used to share our food with the children on the street and bring old woollens and donate it to an orphanage. This was the part that made me feel the best. It kind of made Christmas complete for me.

When school was over, Christmas was no longer the same. I did celebrate with my family and a few friends but it never was the same as it was in School. I could feel that ‘spirit’ gradually dying out.

I had no hopes for this year too. My year was pretty much one of the worst ones I’ve had, and things like exams and being away from my mum and dad just made it even worse for me. It killed Christmas in entirety.

Yesterday, I was going back home after some petty Christmas shopping with my aunt, when we got stuck in a massive traffic jam on the street. Having nothing to do I leaned on my window, and opened a packet of Samosas we had just bought. I saw this little boy of about six selling ‘Santa Claus’ caps outside my window. He was cold and he looked hungry. He tapped at my window and in a meek and shivering voice he said, “lelo na, sirf bees rupaye” (please buy it, it’s just for twenty rupees).

Maybe it was his innocence or just the caps in his hand, which reminded me of Christmas in school, but in a flash I started to shuffle around for my wallet like a maniac. It was like something had gotten into me. I was frantically searching for twenty rupees before the signal turned green. I found one ultimately, and bought a cap from him, and he walked by happily. But something in me snapped. The kid had just walked a few steps ahead when I called out to him, “ae chhote.. wapas aa idhar” (kiddo, come back here). Without  even thinking twice, I rolled down my window again and handed over my entire packet of samosas to him. I can never forget that smile on his face. It wasn’t a very big thing that I gave him, but the thought that it made someone’s day made me happy.

I know Christmas for me was ruined. I won’t even be having a celebration of any kind. But it didn’t matter any more. That innocent smile on that little boy’s face gave me more joy than ever, and all that mattered was that Christmas spirit which I had inadvertently kept alive.

Merry Christmas!

Wish you all a Merry Christmas. Spread the joy and always remember to keep the ‘Christmas Spirit’ alive. 🙂

Abuses Don’t Need to Hurt you


My friend called me up, in the middle of the night, crying. She had just gotten into a fight with another friend’s ex-boyfriend. She said, “I’ve never felt so insulted in my life!” I was taken aback when she said that, when she continued, “He said I was a whore, and a bitch who did stuff with all the dogs on the street!”

Normally one would’ve had excessive violent reactions to that. But somehow, I was kind of indifferent to it. I know it may have meant to be extremely offensive, but it just didn’t have that effect on me. Some may say, it wasn’t said to me, hence it didn’t affect me so much. But to clarify their doubts, even if these or any greater degree of abusive insults were to be used on me, I would get a tad angry (depending on what degree I place the abuse), but it wouldn’t really ‘offend’ me as such. And let me tell you why.

It doesn’t affect me. I personally know that I could never be what they claim me to be and anybody saying that, doesn’t change the fact that I’m not.

First off, remember when our parents used to tell us, ‘if XYZ calls you a donkey you don’t become one, and you certainly were never one in the first place.’? So why did she get so offended? If she could’ve just kept shut, and instead of reacting or retorting, if she could’ve just stopped and thought for two seconds, ‘if this bloke says I’m a whore, I don’t become one and I certainly never was one.’

I tried to avoid it, but here I go with the crude language. Basically, take two people for instance, let’s call them ‘M’ and ‘N’. So, M and N get into a fight, and M calls N, a mother f***er, followed by N calling M a b**t*rd and so on. It leads to a fist fight, the cops come and so on and so forth.

If N could’ve just told M on his face, ‘none of what you say is going to lessen the sanctity of my relationship with my mother’ or if M could’ve just told N, ‘none of what you say can ever change the fact that my parents did in fact get married before having me’, it would’ve saved them a lot of trouble.

It isn’t the truth. The truth hurts, abuses shouldn’t.

Now, like I said, of course an abuse, supposedly offensive, can’t change anything about you or does not state any fact about you. And if one may ask why, it’s simply because it isn’t the truth. In terms of what hurts more, the truth definitely hurts far more than anything in this world. And, if this isn’t the truth, and merely a ‘false claim’ on your personality, dignity or upbringing than you should have the ability to laugh at the supposed ‘offender’ and at his limited vocabulary and and lack of knowledge or information about you.

Saying nothing in return, has a far greater impact than counter-abusing. It agitates them much more.

What annoys someone who’s abusing you most is when you say nothing back to them, and no I don’t mean keep quiet with a long face, just waiting to burst into tears. I mean, standing in front of them, and keeping quiet, without gesturing any signs of getting offended, and somewhat laughing at them and the situation. You could take that as miniature victory. In a situation like this nothing frustrates more than someone not getting insulted by insults.

No point stooping down to their level.

And whatever said and done, I definitely wouldn’t want to stoop down to the level of someone immature enough to use borrowed phrases to offend me. It really isn’t about tolerance or anything. If you really want to retaliate to someone who just abused you, all you need to say is, something like, ‘Oh come on, you can do better than that, very limited vocabulary, must say, you really need to broaden your literary horizon!’ And it’ll work like magic. 😉

Nirvana


There is something about the serenity in his face that just draws you to him. Something as appealing made me a tad obsessed with taking a few pictures of an idol or painting of the Buddha, from many places I spotted one.

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Pictures of Buddha from various places. Taken by me

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To a 30-Year-Old Me


Dear older me,

I’ve been thinking about you lately. Thinking about how you’ve turned out. It’s been 10 years since I’ve written this to you, and I’m writing this because I don’t want you to forget me, or that I was there in your life.

There are these questions in my head I want to ask, and I really wish to get answers to them from you.

I am 19 as I’m writing this. I know you’re older now, and you’re probably finding this childish but you’ve got to admit you’ve always loved letters, writing as well as receiving them.

I really want to know where you’re reading this. Is it in an air conditioned corporate office with an attendant at your beck and call or are you reading this at your home stealing some time away from your kids?

Or maybe you’re still a lot like me and you’re just reading this sitting on the pot in the loo.

Whatever it may be, I hope you do read this, because like I said, I want you to always remember that I was there.

I’ve been going through a lot of changes lately. College does show you the best and the worst times. But true to its every worth, a lot of what you’ve become today (whatever it may be) you owe a lot of it to this place.

I hope you’ve learned how to play the piano or guitar by now. Remember how you’ve always wanted to? I feel you should have by now. I hope you’ve learned to speak your mind, ’cause I still am not very good at that. I still prefer to write my mind rather than speak it.

I’m thinking of doing social anthropology, I hope you’ve done it by now. If you have, it would’ve helped you understand things better. And if you haven’t I hope you have a good enough justification to give me for it.

I know you’re older than me, but I still don’t feel awkward giving you advice.

I hope you’ve become a little less messy now. I have been proud of being it many-a-times but I still think you should’ve changed that in you by now. At least a little. Do you still hate alcohol as much as I do? I sure think so, ’cause I don’t think I’ll be able to develop the taste for it ever. Like I always say, I don’t think it’s immoral or wrong, I just don’t like the taste. Pretty impressive huh?

Are you still in touch with old friends from school and college? I haven’t had much experience as yet, but I can tell for one that these are the most real friends you’ll have.

I’m sure you remember Tejaswee. How can anyone forget her? Please remember her life always, and not her death. My faith in God hasn’t still been restored after her death. Maybe it has as you’re reading this? You know, she is the one who inspired me to write this in the first place. If you’re a good person today, you owe a lot of it to her.

Because, unlike a faceless God, of whose existence we can never be sure of, I was always sure that she was looking out for me. And I always refrained from doing anything wrong in life because I knew she was up there looking at me, and she wouldn’t like it. I just hope you haven’t seen a worse time than her death and I hope you don’t see it either.

Do you still go by my crazy philosophies? I don’t know about the rest, but I hope you haven’t let go of my ‘no-regrets theory’. It’s an original. I want you to follow it always. And I want you to have NO regrets in life whatsoever. I’m working towards that too, so that you don’t have any opportunity to blame me.

Oh! I forgot. I guess you’re the only one I can ask without hesitation. So, are you married yet? Well, if you are, I hope you’ve done everything I have dreamt to do before doing that. I hope you’ve chosen the right time and the right person (Is it who I think it is?).

I do want you to have lots of kids though. You know how much I love kids.

I just hope you haven’t become too fat. I don’t want to foresee you being fat. Okay fine, I’ll try and exercise a little so that you don’t have to face any trouble.

Have you started looking your age finally? I still haven’t been able to, as you know. I hope things change by the time I’m you.

Gosh! I’ve used hope so many times, I almost sound like Obama.

While I want some things about you to change, there are some things in me, which I want you to still have. I don’t want you let go of my quirky and stupid yet meaningful philosophies. One of them being my ‘in your shoes theory’, whenever I get angry at someone or feel a strong negative emotion for someone, I always put myself in their shoes and see if it is justifiable. If it is, I let go. But if it isn’t I fight back. I know it’s a little idealistic, I’m still working on it. By the time it’s passed on to you, you’d hopefully have mastered it.

I just hope that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you’re happy being there and doing that. I’m working towards it myself. I don’t know how true it’ll be then, but as of now, it does not matter to me what others think of me and it never really should.

Don’t lose touch with me. Please do remember me from time to time. I’ll be gone by the time you read this, but hopefully some part of me will still remain in you.

Love,

AK

Fasting (and Don’t Know Why). Is God Impressed Yet?


The great buffet was laid out at one of my dad’s army parties. I reached for the ‘gosht-biryani handi‘, and took a sumptuous helping. To my horror, five aunties standing behind me gave me the dirtiest possible look as if I were committing a crime. One of them (the bravest of the lot) then screamed out, as if giving cue to the rest, “you’re eating non-veg during Navratras???” At once I felt a rush of angst, embarrassment and anger. I ignored and walked passed and gave them a look which said, ‘Mind your own business.’

As I sat with my plate on one of the tables, from what I could catch, I heard the same ladies whispering to each other. Each of them gesturing in their own way, on how inappropriate it was for me to be having what could not be had during a vrat.

Somehow I mustered up all the patience to keep quiet and ignore them. And soon I couldn’t help contemplating. Why do humans try so hard to ‘impress’ God so to say? How does fasting for those nine days help anyway? If you’re a bad person the whole year-round, does fasting for those few days make you a good person? Do you fall into God’s bad books if you don’t keep a fast? And most of all, how did these fasts come into existence anyway?

All these questions hovered around in my mind like a rain-filled black cloud. And suddenly a more dominant thought bubble struck me like a lightening bolt. At once I got up from my table and went straight to the table with the obnoxious aunties, and with a straight-face addressed my question to all of them, “So tell me, aunty, if you’re so staunch about keeping the fast, what is the reason behind these fasts? What event or story in mythology led to the concept of keeping the nine-day fast?” To my delight, none of them could give me a satisfactory answer.

Without saying a word, I went right back to where I was and went back to my cluster of thought bubbles. And so my thoughts followed. Okay, so maybe it does help, but how would eating different foods (and not really abstaining from food as such) help?

I believe there are so many ways in which you can actually make God happy. Like maybe, respecting the things he created. Wouldn’t it be a greater service to him that you’re appreciating what he’s done and helping him preserve it and care for it?

For instance, I truly believe that if I do things like treat people well, care for animals and plants, not waste the food I’m given to eat, respect my own body by taking good care of it, and so on, I am indulging in a much greater form of worship than anything I would do in a temple or by keeping a fast, because I am respecting God’s creation and what God has given me.

I instantaneously got up for the second time and ranted out my exact thoughts to those aunty-jis (‘ji’ being a deliberate addition), only to leave them dumbstruck and gasping for words.

I felt victorious and at the same time a feeling of sadness crept into me thinking about how blindly we follow our so called ‘traditions’ without knowing its roots, and thrust it upon others as if there are no two ways about it. And how the words tradition, religion and worship have been abused down the centuries and have been used as excuses for many unanswered questions.

I don’t think things would really change. But I still hope they do someday. I’m not really against fasting and all the other arbitrary traditions there are. It’s just that, if you are following something, shouldn’t you know why you are doing it in the first place? Doesn’t it bother you that you’re doing something without knowing why? It’s almost like telling you to write a review of a book you haven’t read yet.

With the same dismal thoughts, I finished what was there on my plate and grudgingly resigned to the thought that I don’t think I can live to see the day things do change for the better.

To Love who you are and be ‘Glee’-ful…


Today was the season finale of ‘Glee’, my favourite show, ever since the second season of ‘Castle’ ended (all this by Indian time).
For those of you who don’t know, Glee is about a group of school kids who belong to a school show choir and their optimistic teacher’s attempts to make them find themselves.
I’ve always loved Glee for the splendid performances and the brilliant song covers and the fact that even though I am not particularly fond of musicals, this show has something special about it that makes me love it so much.
But more than anything else it has a message. It tells you that, no matter who you are, what others think of you, or where you come from, you are an individual and are special in your own way.
Their coach, Will Schuster, did do a good job of transforming nobodies into somebodies and those who thought they were somebodies (and apparently weren’t) into someone who they really were.
It didn’t have a movie-like ending of the underdogs winning the final competition. In fact the team in question, ‘New Directions’ didn’t stand anywhere in the competition. But no matter what direction the competition took, I truly believe (and so would most of us) that it was a happy ending.
Because, at the end of the day they learnt, that no matter who wins, all that counts is the fact that they put their heart and soul into what they did and loved doing and enjoyed it. It is the journey that matters and not the destination and if the journey was great, no one needs to care about the destination.
In the end they all found the true meaning of happiness because they found friends, found love, found their strengths and weaknesses, and most of all, they found themselves, who they truly are.
The initial part of the show reminded me of my days at middle school, when I hated who I was and wished like hell that I could be special. And it took me three years thereafter to change my outlook and love who I was, because no matter who others thought me to be I knew I was special in my own unique way.
And this very idea was reinforced into me by this very show.
So all those who’ve been watching ‘Glee’ (and even those who have not), if you’ve ever felt that you wanted to be someone else, or weren’t good enough, think again.
Never be afraid to be who you are, your true self.
Because only then would you truly find ‘glee’ 🙂
The final performance by the Glee club group New Directions- Journey Medley. 🙂