Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Reunion to Remember!!

What do you do when you meet your long-lost friends after a score and a decade? How do you react when you meet your classmates, all fully settled in life now and whom you remember to be just young ladies? It would be a truly overwhelming and interesting experience! My mother had such an experience last saturday. She met about 20 of her classmates of undergraduate class during a reunion.

Her college had planned a reunion among old students and my mother took charge of her department and other departments related to management studies. She started collecting all the details about various alumni and started tracking them down one by one. She started reminiscing about her college days and all the people she met then and the fun they had. It was a very different experience for us because she usually doesn't tell much about her college days except the fun that she had with her close friends. We know a lot about her close friends but almost none about her class in general and other students forming a part of it. She was on the phone day and night and used to get calls from all the places(except heaven and hell, of course!!) As the day drew near, she was gripped with excitement about meeting her friends after such a long time. She and a few of her friends made plans to give surprise gifts to all their friends. They also fished out their batch photograph and got it enlarged and renovated and ready. Then the D-Day came!

She was so excited that she could hardly sleep the night before. Somehow, she managed to sleep and get ready the next day. Being in-charge of her entire management studies, she went early to ensure everything went well. We went later at 10 and saw all her friends and classmates and their families. It was a truly amazing experience! Imagine meeting people who remember your mother as a young college student and hearing them relive the experiences and the fun they shared in college!! My mother now leans to the stricter side and expects us to finish work first and then play. I used to think that she was the same in college. But, back then, she seemed to have had a hell lot of fun, in fact, more fun than work :) Her friends and her, from their recounts of the past, said that they had put up a "Pala palaa Jilu jiluu Kulu Kuluu" Circus. They had done it for some skit where they had to fight out to get a coveted prize. All of them participated in the skit and even managed to bring in real animals into the show, like goats and horses for authenticity. Two of them dressed up as clowns and kept the audience in uproar. Finally, they won the first prize. Nowadays, it might not seem like a big deal but imagine having to be able to do something like that, what with them being girls and in a conservative college(more than a convent) and from traditional families!! We were awed by the effort that they had taken and were in splits when we heard other fun things that they had done in their days. I couldn't imagine that the staid lady(my mom's friend) standing by my side with thick glasses was once the same person who used to have maximum fun in the hostel :) We also had fun trying to match the person in real life with those in the photo taken years back. We were amazed at the transformation in each of their lives. Even they were amazed! But then, they were able to find out the right person very quickly(well, three years of friendship is not for nothing, right? ;))

It was an eye-opener in more ways than one! I got to know my mother in an entirely different light. I have known her to be an adult who is kind but strict, who thinks that I have to finish my work in order to have fun (but whether I do it is an entirely different matter!), who has kissed my tears away, who has taken the roles of a mother, a teacher, a confidante, a friend, a fellow shopper, my critic and my guide from time to time as the situation warrants. But, from her friends, I found that she was fun-loving, casual with studies (none of her students would believe it) and had even a gang and a unique gang name. Finally, the day came to an end and my mother brought back loads of sweet memories and renewed promises to keep in touch with her friends. I’ve already started dreaming about my college reunion. But, that is still a long way off! (I hear my mother say that Time runs very fast and that we would be ready for our reunion soon.) But, I guess we wouldn’t have that many shocks because we are all connected to one another through internet and mail and orkut and what not! We would be sharing our details with friends. It would be easier to gather everyone for a reunion but we would miss out on the fun of trying to identify our classmates. So, it is a gain-loss situation. Anyways, lets wait and see! It would be interesting, no doubt!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Wait for the world!!

She waits for the wind
The wind that will take her to the harbor
The wind that will take her ship to safety
The wind that will take her to glorious tomorrow.

She has done her duty
The duty that would stand by her
In times of adversity
In times of testing
In times of questioning

She waits.....

The voice smiles at the world
The world of which it is a part
The world where it has to make a mark
The world where it has to guide its subject

The voice has done a deed
The deed that makes a difference
In times of uncertainty
In times of hesitancy
In times of change

The voice smiles....

Love is in the air!

Yeah, wherever I look at, love is in the air! Sadly, there is no place for it right now on my agenda :) But that doesn't stop it from showing its pretty face in the lives of all those near me. Quite a few of my friends are planning their futures with their partners and having a great time at it. Some others are right now in the search phase for their "true love". A fair percentage of them are heading to success already and the rest half are still trying.

Now, here is my question. I feel that commitment is one big step in any relationship and that it has to be dealt with care once decided. I feel that my choices in even simple things like clothes (I do buy outrageous outfits, but then very rarely!) or accessories (one place I would love to experiment but feeling too lazy :)) are made after a lot of deliberation. I completely lack the art of deciding if a thing (or a guy, in this case) is “the” right one for me from a huge number of choices (that is why I think I’d be heading down the alley of arranged marriages). I need every fact out in the open before I make a decision. Though it is true that not all the facts are revealed in arranged marriages, you tend to get more input from various quarters and that leads to more information. Which leads to more knowledge and finally a better-informed decision making process. I don’t see much of a chance for failure in this model (having been proved true again and again by the information revolution around us). In love marriages, not all the facts are put in the open, ugly or otherwise. People tend to show their best characteristics to their would-be partners and downplay their negative points. It is the responsibility of the individual to find out if all that is being put on the platter is true. Especially in Indian societies, we lack the drive to find out the truth. Instead, we tend to believe implicitly all that said at the altar of love to be true. Love marriages require lots of hard work (even before marriage) and implicit trust. I’ve seen a few of my friends torn by guiltiness for having had to ask their partners tough questions and face even tougher answers. Sometimes, they are the ones under gunfire and then follows a cycle of tears, fights and cajoling and finally peace. It requires loads and loads of hard work, commitment and true love from both sides to make it happen. (Another reason why it’ll never suit a lazybones like me :))

That brings me to the question of "true love". Is it as professed in the Indian cinemas where the hero and heroine meet, fall in love, fight the entire universe (include the heroine's father for sure. A brother would be just great too!), overcome all the odds and finally settle down to a life of "happily ever after"? Throw in a couple of love scenes, a rain dance (they seem to have become ubiquitous in the recent past) and a couple of fights (to make the hero look macho! The gorier the better! In fact, the villains are usually made to look stupid at each and every turn of the story) and you have a brand new Kollywood cinema that is sure to run packed houses for atleast a month. Add some more gooey stuff like in “Aashiq Banayaa” and bring in “ladies” like Mallika or Nameeta(down south), you can rake in profits for atleast two months(which is better than ever in times when the entire industry is losing money like hell! Who cares about the people or their sensitivities? But that is a different issue altogether). Coming back to the most important question, what is true love? Is it as defined by the film industry or is it as given in the novels (which themselves range from the variety offered by M & B type to those offered by the classics)? One of my friends said that it came from the heart while another confidently voted for the love that came along with all the material benefits. After hearing heated arguments for days, I’ve come to the conclusion that it depends on the person in love (typically Libran, eh?? ;) )

Back to the argument, I was wondering if the commitments made at such an age (when they should be building solid grounds to their castles on the air) would stand them in good stead or was it just another attempt at having fun? More importantly, why is it that people are willing to go through so much of hardships in the name of love? More often than not, they are doing it all for infatuation. That makes them lose sight of what they set out to achieve and finally life takes a turn that no one can predict. The final result is that neither of the two partners tend to get nearer to their original goals and all that is left in times of adversity is the hate and bitterness of it all. The only solution, again, is true love and oodles of trust and commitment. True! I do accept that true love can solve any problem, clear up any misunderstanding and heal any hurt. It will also lead both the partners to glory and nearer their goals. But such a symbiotic relationship is few and far in between. It also requires years of friendship and maturity to build such a relationship. In all, there seems to be one glaring truth. Falling in love is something that cannot be planned for; but deciding our response to it and our plans for it is something definitely in our hands. What do u think, folks?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Festival of Lights!!

Last Sunday we celebrated the festival of lights, very popularly known as Kaarthigai Deepam in South India. Kaarthigai is the name of a tamil month which falls before Maarghazhi, another auspicious month. Kaarthigai falls in the Nov-Dec period when the sun sets sooner than usual and the evenings are darker. Then, the ladies of each house light lamps or diyas or deepams and arrange them in eye-bewitching patterns throughout the house. I guess that this custom should have started purely for practical purposes to fight the dark with light and to provide light to travelers and the inmates of the house. Over the years, it evolved into an elegant and charming custom which displays the sheer beauty of lights.

How interesting on introspection!!! Almost all the religions involve the use of light(either in the form of candles or diyas) to fight the darkness in the month of December. Christians use this opportunity to light their fashionable candles while the Hindus celebrate the ever popular Diwali and the lesser popular Kaarthigai Deepam (more popular in South of India… Come to think of it, each part of India has its own festivals and customs. Even hugely popular festivals like the Diwali and Ganesh Chathurthi are celebrated in different ways all over India! This sort of diversity is fascinating and mind boggling at the same time! It is this diversity that is at the root of Indian culture. Each part of India is unique yet an integral part of the culture. We can compare it with a collage where each part of the design stands out yet forms a seamless integration with one another to give a complete design. In my neighbor’s view, it is like the palpayasam( a sweet made of milk) where the cashewnut is separate yet an integral part of the sweet. He is a connoisseur in food and related subjects.

The custom is that atleast a handful of new diyas are brought and lit along with other old ones. In some parts of Tamil Nadu, the diyas are colorfully painted to increase their attractiveness. There are different types of diyas ranging from the small mann vilakku to the enormous Kerala vilakku and the intricate Thanjavur vilakku. Each has a beauty of its own and a rich culture behind it. The diya oil is poured (some houses follow the tradition of using ghee for the diyas kept inside the house) and the cotton thiri is kept in them. After all this preparation, a pooja is done in the evening and then the lady of the house lights the main lamps of the house. Other ladies and kids light other lamps and place them all over the house. It is sheer delight to look at houses decked in lights. This is repeated everyday, right from the start of Kaarthigai till the day of Maha Deepam. There are people who keep the diyas starting a week before the D day and others who keep it from three days ahead.

My earliest memories of this festival have been those times spent in helping my mom and paati in preparing the diyas, the pooja, placing the lamps and finally going around my colony to find out which house has the best array of lamps, the maximum number of lamps and the best kolams that go along with the lamps. Then, all of us go to the temple. My paati used to make delicacies on the day of Maha Deepam and we’d hang around the kitchen waiting for her to give us samples of all that she is cooking. And, though we’d be around and she’d give us a bit of everything (except those for the Lord), there’ll be atleast one surprise item in the menu that day. Till date, I don’t know how or when she manages to prepare it. There are so many times when we would be cockily sure about the entire menu only to be beaten by that surprise addition. Then, as we grew older, our games shifted to guessing out the surprise delicacy added to the list. Nowadays, though, I am more happy lighting the diyas and preparing them than with the food. (Is it an indication for me finally becoming a grown up???) This year, we had started right on dot and kept the diyas (not many but not too less too!) on all days. The last day, we checked out each house in our locality and adjudged the winner of this year. It was so much fun to do it with friends around. I am only sad that I won’t be able to celebrate this festival next year at home as I would be leaving home sweet home for work or study. Well, you can’t have everything in life all the time, right?

Monday, December 04, 2006

My Favorite quotes III

One of my friends sent me a forward containing the quotes on Chanakya. They are so relevant even in the present world. I find these quotations,really deserving.These are just like an unleashing innings of an marvelous mind.knowledge is an infinite ocean,it's very hard to be through. Friends,if you have any such quotations,then give those Tornados a direction towards my mailbox.

Chanakya's Quotes (Indian politician, strategist and writer, 350 BC - 275 BC)

"A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and Honest people are screwed first."

"Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous."

"The biggest guru-mantra is: Never share your secrets with anybody. ! It will destroy you."

"There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no Friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth."

"Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions - Why am I doing it, What the results might be and Will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead."

"As soon as the fear approaches near, attack and destroy it."

"The world's biggest power is the youth and beauty of a woman."

"Once you start a working on something, don't be afraid of failure and don't abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest."

"The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all direction."

"Whores don't live in company of poor men, citizens never support a weak company and birds don't build nests on a tree that doesn't bear fruits."

"God is not present in idols. Your feelings are your god. The soul is your temple."

"A man is great by deeds, not by birth."

"Never make friends with people who are above or below you in status. Such friendships will never give you any happiness."

"Treat your kid like a darling for the first five years. For the next five years, scold them. By the time they turn sixteen, treat them like a friend. Your grown up children are your best friends."

"Books are as useful to a stupid person as a mirror is useful to a blind person."

"Education is the best friend. An educated person is respected everywhere. Education beats the beauty and the youth."

Though I have reservations about a few of these quotes, on introspection, they seem to be true. Atleast, each of them would make a good topic for contemplation on a rainy afternoon or on a sleepless night with no other soul for company. Try it! You'll learn loads about yourself. Keeping a journal of such times would enhance the journey. After such a free wheeled ride on your mind, you would feel so rejuvenated and you would have become your own best friend! Do tell me your comments and views on it!

Friday, December 01, 2006

To my Child!

This is a beautiful forward making its rounds in the cyber world. Thought I'll put it in here. The things dealt here are the simple pleasures of life, ones that are very important from a child's point of view but seemingly insignificant in the adult's world.Which adult would want to spend time blowing bubbles? Adults think it is a waste of time while kids think it is the best way to enjoy an afternoon. Ask a kid if you can blow bubbles and see the way their eyes light up!!

Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face and laugh when I feel like crying.

Just for this morning, I will let you choose what you want to wear, and smile and say how perfect it is.

Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry and pick you up and take you to the park to play.

Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink, and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together.

Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep the computer off, and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles.

Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck, and I will buy you one if he comes by.

Just for this afternoon, I won't worry about what you are going to be when you grow up, or second guess every decision I have made where you are concerned.

Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cookies, and I won't stand over you trying to fix them.

Just for this afternoon, I will take us to McDonald's and buy us both a Happy Meal so you can have both toys.

Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about how you were born and how much I love you.

Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not get angry.

Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while we sit on the porch and count all the stars.

Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for hours, and miss my favourite TV shows.

Just for this evening when I run my finger through your hair as you pray, I will simply be grateful that God has given me the greatest gift ever given.

I will think about the mothers and fathers who are searching for their missing children, the mothers and fathers who are visiting their children's graves instead of their bedrooms. The mothers and fathers who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer senselessly and screaming inside that little body

And when I kiss you goodnight I will hold you a little tighter, a little longer. It is then, that I will thank God for you, and ask him for nothing, except one more day.............

For all the moms and dads who are reading this post, I ask only one thing of you. Spend more time with your kids for they tend to grow out of their childhood faster than you think or you will have lost those special moments forever. The best times I remember in my childhood are the ones I spent with my dad and mom. I still remember the talks that my dad and I used to have when he drove me to classes or the fun that my mom had with me while in the market. True! They taught me the fundamentals of life in those places. The lessons given there have helped me pull through most of my ordeals. I don't think that those times would ever come again even if we tried to recreate that scenario. Now I know the world (atleast a part of it!) and they take me to be an adult. The mistakes that they would have accepted as part of learning then are taken with a small degree of disapproval now. So, friends, make as many mistakes as you can while growing up and learn the lessons. For, you might have to pay a heavier price later. Worse, you might not have a chance to learn them later.