Being Happy: Learn to Remember

My Grandfather
My earliest memories with my grandfather was of doing Maths with him. He taught me tables, calculations etc. What was remarkable? He never raised his voice or hand on me while teaching. Though he belonged to the old school of teaching but he never believed in spare the rod and spoil the child type of things. Whenever I was unable to understand any problem, he tried to teach me adopting different methods or giving real life examples. Sometimes when he had to go somewhere, he remembered the sums from our Maths book and when he came back, he usually called me and told me how to do further sums. While traveling , he used to do all the calculations of my Maths chapter in his head. I still long for such a fantastic memory and brain!!!

I know my grandfather’s main subject was Sanskrit. He spoke this ancient and beautiful language fluently but he was comfortable with all the subjects. He taught me till tenth class. And his teaching method was excellent. You never feel afraid of asking questions., when he was teaching.

My grandfather had a hard childhood and adult life. He educated himself in the absence of his father. Only God knows how he was able to do that. Later on, most of his adult life; he shuffled between job and court appearances. His army of relatives had gifted him court cases. My grandfather was facing not one, two, three, ten , twenty but 67 court cases!! A lecturer of Sanskrit couldn’t afford Lawyers. He presented and argued his own cases in the court and won 64 out of 67 cases registered against him. When he used to narrate these incidences, his heart was not filled up with hatred for his relatives. He just told me these things as facts of life. I know he had nerves of steel but he didn’t transfer that quality to me. 🙁

In the morning, we often used to fight over newspaper. Who will read it first. Of course, first my Baba used to read, then my father then…. Sometimes when Baba was reading newspaper I used to squat and scanned last page, the sports page. Whenever he spotted me doing that, he often gave the whole newspaper to me to read. My joy knew no bounds at such a grand favor.

Another thing I remember about my Babba is, he always encouraged me to ask questions and never admonished me if I went overboard sometimes. He inculcated in me the culture of debate and discussions and how to look at thing logically.

I often see old people struggling with boredom and isolation. But I have never seen my grandfather getting bored. He had something to read or he listened to the radio. We had vast space at our home. Due to my grandfather, we had most of the fruits and vegetables grown at our place. I remember mango, litchi, guava, peach, custard apple, jack-fruit, gooseberry, papaya, lemon, mulberry and amla trees in our compound. When everyone was taking a nap at afternoon, I used to sneak out and tried to climb each and every tree. If it was laden with fruits, then… 🙂 Due to my grandfather’s efforts, I had the opportunity of having freshest salads in this word. Just before lunch, we used to dig out radish and carrots and plucked tomatoes. During winter season, my grandfather grew potatoes, peanuts and green peas. Sometimes, when we were with friends, we dug out potatoes and made Tikkis. I can guarantee, nothing can beat the taste of those Tikkis. Until, I came to a metro city, I never realized how lucky I was growing up with all the comforts of a city but environment of a village!!! I wish my kid can experience the same joy and harmony with nature.

I remember, when my grandfather died at the age of 87, I was devastated, totally shattered. I was unable to deal with the reality that it was OK. I refused to see his dead body. I never said Goodbye to him. NEVER. But he never visited me in my dreams. That is very comforting for me. It means he went away as a satisfied soul having no unfulfilled desires at that time. Right now, wherever he is, he is quite peaceful and happy.

He was the only person in the world, who loved me unconditionally. NO matter what I did or thought, he was OK with it. Grandfather is the only person in the world who claimed, “Whenever I see your face, my lifespan increases!!!” When I remember these words, I feel like the most beautiful person surviving on this earth.

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9/11

people-looking-out
When I had seen this image in my newspaper, I was deeply distrubed. Even till this date, whenever I remember the incident, everything just stop within me.

=================
Newspapers showing
Expectant faces,
Fearful faces,
Peeping out of windows.

As if asking,
Office hours had JUST begun
But how could life be over?
Suddenly, definitely, precisely
And clinically for everyone?

Expectant faces,
Fearful faces,
As if asking
We were just balancing
The morning coffee in one hand,
And files in another,
But how could life be over?

A man made lightening struck,
From the sky
To plunge everything
And everyone in darkness.

Expectant faces,
Fearful faces,
As if asking
Would we melt together
With concrete and mortar?

Expectant faces,
Fearful faces,
As if asking
Was it our destiny
To be one with steel girdles?
And not with mother earth?
What had we done
In our lives,
To not to deserve a few feet
Below the earth?
But to evaporate
With the vapor of morning coffee?

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Being Happy: Never Let Others Decide for You

If you want to be happy, never let others decide for you. Only you know what is best for you. It is good to have friends and family and their positive influence on our lives. But if you want to be truly happy, don’t give others so much power that they start deciding for you. It is safe if you allow others to interfere in your matters so that when something goes wrong, you can blame them. But if you want to experience true happiness, take your own decisions and be ready to take the blame too if something goes wrong. How can anyone find happiness in such a situation?

Why we allow others to show us the ‘true’ path and ruin our happiness? The flaw lies with us. We want the love and affection of people that’s why we allow them to run our life. It is beyond our imagination that what will we do if we annoy certain people? The mere thought of rubbing some people the wrong way makes us extremely uncomfortable. But the other option also doesn’t grant us peace of mind. We resent ourselves for letting others dominate us, decide for us or practically run our lives for us. Happiness can never be achieved if we keep on expecting approval from others.

Why certain people keep on expecting approval from others? Why can’t you approve yourself with all the positives and negatives? If you keep on asking for certificates from others they will come with a price. The price will be your self respect and dignity. If you are willing to pay such a high price, go ahead and allow others to define you but never expect that happiness will knock at your door.

If you let others decide for yourself, you will never be happy but aways end up feeling like a victim. You will think something on the lines of, this horrible thing is happening to me because of so and so. You will never feel in control and in charge. You will always put blames on others for your misfortunes. A victim never feels responsible for the bad knocks of life. They always held others responsible hence never feel the need to take corrective measures themselves. Imagine, giving so much power to others will be a key to unhappiness.

If you want to be happy, never allow others to make crucial decisions for you. Commit your own mistakes and enrich your life. Once you start taking your own decisions you will come to know what works for you and what not. But if you keep on letting others decide for you, you will loose the chance to know what is best for you and what makes you tick. The greatest outcome of such decisions will be increase in your self confidence and you will have a positive self image.

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In Pursuit of Happiness : Learning to Forgive Yourself

One thing I learn today, if I want to be happy I have learn how to forgive myself and move ahead. Right now it seems I have committed a Himalayan blunder and there is no escape. I have to suffer, self flagellate (something I am quite good at) and wait for some mighty weight to fall upon me and crush me forever. That will be so quick and easy. But how to get out of it and forgive myself and start feeling happy again? It is very easy to feel self loathing and feel depressed. The thought never even crossed my mind that I can forgive myself and feel happy again. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.

Does forgiving yourself comes easy? I am trying and nowhere near it. But things can’t be the way they are. Wallowing in self guilt is one of the easiest thing on this earth. It makes you feel good. Look I have committed mistake and how miserably I am suffering. SO all others have to do is to cuddle me, console me and pamper me. I don’t have to do anything. Will it work and lead me to happiness? Never. If I have to forgive myself then I have to work hard and make life a satisfying and enriching experience.

Acceptance: I think if I have to learn to forgive myself, I will have to accept that I have erred and I have to take stock of situation and feel the damage I have done. I don’t want to do that gladly because I know I will feel guilty again but this time I will accept my behavior and try to access the damages I have done. That will prevent me from visiting that territory again, I don’t want to go through this acceptance of my wrongdoings again and again. I definitely want fewer such types of incidents in my life.

Ask for Forgiveness : This is the next thing I will do. I will ask for forgiveness from those who suffered due to my actions. I will try and listen to their point of views and how they felt due to my actions. I will be prepared to listen to others views, how they felt, what they expected of me and how I messed up. I think asking others to forgive me will also help me knowing that everything is not about I, ME, MYSELF.

Set Higher Standards for Self: Forgiving myself can be easy if I can raise the bar a bit higher. I can definitely do better next time, if I am cautious and aware. So what I did in the past, I can always learn from it and move ahead. Instead of blaming and cursing myself and in the process feeling depressed, I can try and improve my actions. Why carry wrongdoings of past as a burden around your neck? Why can’t I conduct myself in a better way in present and future and feel satisfied and happy?

Don’t Let Wrongdoings Define Me: I think I have committed mistakes, hurt people, been nasty but that is not the whole me. If I want to forgive myself I have to be self compassionate and look for my positive sides too. I don’t want to work upon my self worth too!

Making Amendments: If I want to forgive myself completely, I have to make amendments. That doesn’t mean I have to set the clock back but I have to be careful in future not to make same kind of mistakes. I have to learn my lessons. If I have learned my lessons completely and truly I will not commit same mistake again in future. So I think forgiving myself ends with making amendments. I will certainly mess up again till I am going to live. But I will not repeat the same mistake over and over again.

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Anna and the pseudo-democRats

A thought provoking blogpost by G Sampath at DNA:

In our lives as empowered citizens of the world’s largest democracy, how many times have we whined about corruption? Five times? 15 times? As long as we can remember? And how many times have we done anything about it? Not too many, on the evidence of the cascading scams of the past year, and all the years before that.

And yet, when a 73-year-old man decides to do something about it, you have these amazing rodent-like creatures coming out of the woodwork, expressing deep concerns about ‘subversion of democracy’.There is a name for such creatures: pseudo-democRats. They also have another name: status quoists. These creatures are so comfortable with things as they are — no matter how rotten, or perhaps because they are so rotten — that they don’t want change. They are the ‘democRatic’ avatars of Mubarak and Gaddafi who wouldn’t want to exchange the joy of whining about corruption for a chance to fight corruption, in however limited a manner. Such as through an ombudsman as envisaged by the Jan Lokpal Bill.

It should be obvious even to a first standard kid that you cannot ask a robber to draft a law against robbery. But today, we have these worthies arguing that the only way to address corruption is through elected ‘least tainted’ representatives — all else is undemocratic.

The only kind of democracy they recognize is one that is exercised once in five years, through the formal, controllable channel of the ballot box. Grassroots democracy that brings people’s issues to the government — such as the Medha Patkar-led Narmada Bachao Andolan or the people’s movement against the nuclear plant in Jaitapur — are sought to be discredited as not representing the will of the people. So who are these protesters? Well, they need to be given a suitable label in order to be discredited and disposed of. Let’s see.

Can you call them terrorists? Not really — terrorists don’t do fast-unto-death (one eminent pseudo-democRat did suggest that Anna’s fast-unto-death was suicide bombing in slow motion). Can you call them Maoists? No, they were armed only with candles.

So how about calling them ‘activists’? They are obviously not people, and since they haven’t won an election, they’re not qualified to speak for the people — whatever that means. Is it possible for any ‘member’ of the people to speak at all — as one of the people — without seeming to ‘speak for’ the people? No.

So who can speak for the people? Well, according to the pseudo-democRat, that is a privilege reserved solely for elected representatives such as Sharad Pawar, Suresh Kalmadi, A Raja and BS Yeddyurappa. It doesn’t matter whether two thousand people join a protest movement or two hundred thousand, protesters will always be ‘activists’ and therefore non-people. Even if a billion Indians speak with one united voice, unless they’re expressing their preference for one crook over another inside a polling booth, they will be deemed as speaking for the remaining 0.21 billion people and therefore subverting democracy.

In their scheme of things, ‘the people’ (who nobody but the elected representative can legitimately represent) come into existence when there is an election, and once the elections are over, conveniently melt away into nothingness. If they make the mistake of materialising anytime, anywhere other than during an election — say, to tell their elected representatives that they don’t want this steel plant in Orissa, or plead against an SEZ on their farmland, or a mine in their mountain — they are immediately relieved oftheir status as people. In short, they become a threat to democracy. Reflecting faithfully the concerns of the state, the pseudo-democRat has taken to heart Brecht’s sarcastic suggestion on what to do when people lose faith in their elected government: dissolve the people and elect another.

In fact, the primary purpose achieved by elections in India is to lend an aura of legitimacy to the oligarchy that has our elected representatives in its pocket. This voter-generated legitimacy is what enables the government to pass anti-people legislations in the name of the people — subversion of democracy in the non-laughable sense of the term.

Whatthe pseudo-democRat is anxious to cover up is the plain fact that elected representatives can consistently act against the interests of those they represent — and there is NOTHING that a citizen, acting only as a voter, can do to stop them. It is this belated realisation that drove the less cynical sections of the middle class to rally around Anna.

An election is only one of many kinds of democratic processes. But the pseudo-democRat loves it to the exclusion of every other democratic mechanism Why? Because an election is a process that the state can control from start to finish. True democracy — something those who accuse Anna of blackmail really fear — is about sharing power, sharing control, and holding the powerful accountable for their power, and not only through means that have the prior approval of the state.

For all its flaws, and the flaws of its leaders, the Lokpal movement is an encouraging example of participatory democracy — a process that is open to anyone who cares enough about an issue to want to join in — as many middle class Indians did.

Democracy is a lived reality — not some codified entity that will be interpreted (for the people?) by self-appointed constitutional experts and newspaper columnists. If the Lokpal turns out to be a ‘Frankenstein monster’ (am I to believe that no ‘monster’ has ever won an election?), then it will not survive. The very people who supported Anna Hazare will fight it and throw it out.

To be sure, the Lokpal Bill, in whatever form, is unlikely to eradicate corruption, for the simple reason that corruption is only a symptom of a structural rot in our casteist society and fractured polity where, even as lip service is paid to political equality, almost every aspect of policy is geared to increase economic inequality. Unless there are many political mass movements — as opposed to one ‘civil society initiative’ — for policies and laws aimed at a more equitable society, corruption won’t go away, no matter how powerful the Lokpal is.

But does this mean that we’d rather not have had the Hazare-inspired campaign? No. The value of the candle-wallas rallying around Anna is to prove — to ourselves — that it is possible for the apathetic, solipsistic Indian middle class to shake off its cynicism and mobilise for a cause. This would be an invaluable lesson, and much-needed inspiration, as things get worse in the future.

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Blame it On Anna Hazare

Anna-Hazare
Anna Hazare, our Gandhi

Image Source and Poem: Shivam Gupta
I am guilty of meddling with the title of the movie, ‘Blame It On Rio’ and giving the title Blame it On Anna Hazare, but my sentiments and feelings are quite pure, not muddled. I was trying to write a post every day and narrate here what I did to feel happy. But a series of Birthdays prevented me from writing anything here. When all the birthdays of March and April were over, and I was about to breathe easy, Anna Hazare happened. What A man Anna Hazare is.

When Anna Hazare started his movement against corruption, I was quite sure that I will resume writing my blog posts again. But when Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption started, I never thought that I will ignore everything, my home, my husband, my kid, myself and get involved in this movement on daily basis. But of course,that is Anna Hazare’s effect. And whole nation witnessed it.

Anna Hazare has refreshed the forgotten history, civics and politics lessons of school. We were taught about democracy in schools. We were also taught about the duties of a citizen in school books. But after leaving school, we never applied those duties in our lives. We thought REAL world is different, But Anna Hazare helped us turning into a awakened citizen. Anna Hazare taught us, democracy is not about exercising your power to vote, He taught us the forgotten lesson of being a watchdog to government’s actions. After casting your valuable votes, our duties don’t stop there. We have to be vigilant. We have to observe whether our elected representatives are performing their duties as expected. We need a Anna Hazare to revisit that civics lesson.

Anna Hazare taught us that demonstrations, protests marches, rallies, writing articles, formation of organizations are legitimate means to show your displeasure to the government. And we rose to the occasion. My nephew, my husband prepared posters for Anna Hazare’s movement. I distributed those posters at various public places and put on the notice boards of our society. We tried to do our bit for Anna Hazare’s campaign.

I can declare proudly and in all humility that Anna Hazare made me eat my words. And I am proud to eat my words. I often used to say and write that our people won’t come out of their houses to protest. I used to feel disappointed with youngsters. But Anna Hazare has done the impossible. He fired the imagination of youths and in large number they came out on the streets to protests. Even schoolchildren were out on the streets to protest against corruption. It is very difficult to bring Indian youths on the street to protest, but Gandhian follower Anna Hazare almost did the impossible.

How Anna Hazare proved me wrong. I wrote this post: Libyan Crisis, People in Pursuit of Happiness At the end of the post I was ruing that Indians won’t leave the confines of their homes to come out on the street and protest.But Anna Hazare has achieved the impossible. In the last para I have written, we don’t have a Gandhi to draw us out of our homes. But I was wrong. We too have our Gandhi, Anna Hazare, and WE REALLY ARE THE GRANDCHILDREN of Gandhi, whenever he calls, we leave everything and pay heed to that call. Thank you Anna Hazare for giving us a call.

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In Pursuit of Happiness : Knowing People

Chhavi-Rajawat
Chhavi Rajawat, India's First MBA Village Sarpanch

Few days ago, when I opened the newspaper, I saw a girl’s photograph and I said to myself, lo here is another model or bollywood wanna-be. I was about to turn the page but before doing that I glanced at the heading. This girl was Chhavi Rajawat at a UN Conference. Models or Bollywood actresses hardly attend UN conferences.

Chhavi Rajawat pleasantly surprised the other delegates at the 11th Info-Poverty World Conference held at the UN. The two-day panel discussion was held at the UN held on March 24 and 25, 2011. People could hardly believe that Chhavi Rajawat is the village surpanch of Soda village, Rajasthan.

Chhavi Rajawat has studied at Rishi Valley, Bangalore and Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi, Going by norms, she should be at the helm of some multinational company or owning her own export business or working at some high-profile media house. People hardly expect a LSR student to be a village surpanch. But Chhavi Rajawat is an exception.

I am always fascinated by people and their behavior. I don’t know why I have not studied Psychology. I always like to read and know about people who behave differently. Knowing about those people who swim against the tide always give me happiness and hope. I love people who flout so called “norms” and do something different. Chhavi Rajawat is one of them. She don’t believe in right looks of a mahila sarpanch. She attends all the village panchyat meeting in her jeans. Not like some high profile politicians who wears designer wear among their own and always put a sham among villagers by wearing cotton sarees.

Chhavi Rajawat said at UN meet, “If India continues to make progress at the same pace as it has for the past 65 years since Independence, it just won’t be good enough. We will be failing people who dream of having water, electricity, toilets, schools and jobs. I am convinced we can do it differently and do it faster,” Chhavi Rajawat is the only female surpanch of a village who possesses an MBA degree.
Chhavi Rajawat said at the UN Meet, “In the past year alone in Soda, the villagers and I have brought about a radical change in the village purely through our own efforts. We have no outside support no NGO help, no public or private sector help.”

Chhavi Rajawat added later, “In three years, I will transform my village. I don’t want money. I want people and organisations to adopt projects in my village as often projects fail owing to lack of a local connect and that is what I am here to provide a bridge in that gap.” Amen to that.

Image Source: Dainik Jagran

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In Pursuit of Happiness : Don’t Compare

Dont-Compare-yourself-to-others
If we keep on comparing ourselves with others that will take away our peace of mind and happiness. Comparing ourselves with others seems like a disease that spread over our soul. People who keep on measuring their cars, houses, bank balance, holidays, jewelery, shoes and dresses with others actually suffer from inferiority complex. If you want to remain happy don’t torture yourself with comparison.

Comparing oneself to others is more prevalent in female species. You have dressed fine to go out and enjoy with friends but someone has dressed up cooler than you is enough to destroy mood. You keep on eying your friend’s dress and accessories on and often. Was it a dress out to kill outing or were you out to enjoy? I often see many females to compare so much that it becomes annoying after a while. They don’t even realize how unhappy they feel if they keep on comparing themselves with others.

There is something about myself that keeps me happy. I don’t know why and how but I have never lost peace of mind over some dress, make-up, shoes, accessories or jewelery that someone else is having. Concentrating or focusing on yourself is the key to happiness.

I am blessed with the presence of some persons in my life whose self worth or self confidence is not proportional to the dress or hairstyle they wear. They never bothered about what is in trend, what is in and what is out. They wear whatever catch their fancy but they never forget to wear their self-confidence. They seem content and happy in whatever they have. And that doesn’t mean they are unambitious. But they chose to excel in their respective fields instead of your dress vs mine. They tend to acquire what they want, not what is trending recently.

I just want to transfer this quality in my kid too. To an extent she is like me. I have never heard her saying, I want that toy or I want that dress which XYZ is wearing. I will try to make sure that my young one remains so in near future too and doesn’t get involved in this fruitless comparing exercise.

If you sit down and see the results of comparing yourself with others, you will be disinclined to indulge in this game. We lose peace of mind, we lose friends and their trust, we get distracted from our goals, we set out to do something for which we are not cut out, we waste our energy in chasing something that keep on setting new standards, we lose self worth and self respect. Why not get rid of all the negative energy and be happy instead? Its so easy to say to your friend if her dress is cooler than you, ‘wow! what a nice dress!’ It will make her day as well as yours when you get a genuine smile that reaches to her eyes, in return.

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Our Heroes : Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev

Bhagat-Singh-Sukhdev-Rajguru
Bhagat-Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru

“Lovers, Lunatics and poets are made of same stuff.”
— Bhagat Singh

Today, March 23rd is the Martyrdom of Sardar Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. When I read the above quote by Bhagat Singh, I thought he himself was made of that same stuff that’s why he was able to make supreme sacrifice for his motherland at the age of 24. If he was rational thinking he must have marketed “sacrifices done by his family” and ensured dynastic rule in the guise of democracy.

I was wondering if they come back in today’s India what would they think of us? What would be their views on today’s politicians and bureaucrats? What would he think about today’s youth? What will Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru think about their ultimate sacrifice?

Would BHagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev feel ashamed that we had given supreme sacrifice so that A. Raja can flourish, Klmadi can make us the laughing stock in front of the world? Not a single flat was allotted to the martyrs in Adarsh Housing Socity? Would Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev feel that their martyrdom has gone in vein? Now instead of Britishers, we are humiliated, looted and raped by our own politicians? Had they dreamed about today’s India?
What was in Bhagat Singh’s mind when he willing went to gallows for us? We can see a glimpse here:
“The aim of life is no more to control the mind, but to develop it harmoniously; not to achieve salvation here after, but to make the best use of it here below; and not to realise truth, beauty and good only in contemplation, but also in the actual experience of daily life; social progress depends not upon the ennoblement of the few but on the enrichment of democracy; universal brotherhood can be achieved only when there is an equality of opportunity – of opportunity in the social, political and individual life.— from Bhagat Singh’s prison diary, p. 124”

After reading this, I know what our martyrs Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and SUkhdev will think. They will get up to fight again, this time the enemy is in our own house, no outsiders.
Image Source: MIDHUN MAATALU

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Being Happy : Enjoying Holi with Family and Friends

Holi
Holi Enjoyed By All Age Groups

Last few days were quite eventful. We went out a lot and did a bit of shopping for Holi.

It was a pleasure to purchase pichkaaris and colors for my young one. She was so excited to celebrate Holi. Holi was on Sunday and Since Monday she kept on aksing me without fail, how many days NOW?

I like this festival very much. First we can say goodbye to winter, woolens and heavy blankets. The sky seems SO blue everyday without fail. The air seems so refreshing and oh so springy. I like that mezzanine zone when winter has not yet bid goodbye and summer has not set in yet. You can enjoy the best of both.

Apart from lovely weather I love the Holi festival due to economic reasons too. People from every strata of society can enjoy Holi, no matter what their economic status is. Everyone can afford to buy few packets of color. Its not like Deepawali where only the rich and well heeled can show off.

We enjoyed Holi a lot. My kid was out of house since morning and came back only late in the afternoon. 🙂 A total stranger decided to drench me with colored water. For the first time in my life I have witnessed balloon missile (filled with colored water) fights between two households. For a while I could spot nothing else but water filled balloon missiles in the air.

Few balloon missiles landed near me and in our house too. But I was not hit by one. Though I was told that it doesn’t heart but I was skeptical. Last year I used mostly organic ‘colors’ to drench my near and dear ones. Nature has given me those free of cost. I used mud from our garden in ample amount. What can be more organic than that? 🙂 I dragged my young one in mud puddle too. She was not complaining. 🙂

I enjoy Holi a lot. It gives us an opportunity to come out of our shells and be a child again. Holi frees us from our daily sophisticated masks we so painstakingly love to don. This festival unleashes the child in us and provides pure happiness if you don’t try to be a jerk and spoil the spirit of this festival.

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In Pursuit of Happiness : Declutter

My pursuit of happiness sets me thinking about decluttering. I want to declutter so many areas of my life. I want to declutter my living room, my dining room, my kitchen, my closets, my book shelf, my mind, my emotions and my mind.

Having more things means more responsibilities. If I keep on stuffing my home with more and more things that increases my responsibility in the direct proportion with the goods we possess. Who in his or her right mind would like to shoulder more and more obligations/duties/liabilities? Having less commodities or articles sets you free from many things and in return brings joy and happiness.

The first thing that we decided to declutter was our credit card balance. No, we didn’t get rid of credit cards but decided to keep them for rarest of the rare cases. We also made a pact that we will do our shopping using cash only. We won’t clutter our credit card sheets with more numbers. It is such a huge relief to know that now we have to make almost zero payments to credit card companies. I think everyone deserves to feel such contentment and happiness.

I want to declutter my home. The way my home looks, I don’t like it. I don’t know why we stash away things for future use which we probably won’t even remember to take out and have a look. I too have heaps of such things. Something tumbles out of one corner or another.
So I have started decluttering. I am doing it everyday. I just want to start small and continue doing it for 365 days a year.

I have kept an unused bucket. Before going to sleep I keep it in any room and start from a small corner. I go through things in that corner quickly and throw it it the bucket. In the morning I give it to our garbage collector.

Decluttering
Decluttering

Its summer now, so I am going to wash all the winter clothes and then store it in two places. Place number one warm clothes will go charity next year and place number two warm clothes will remain with us for our own use. I am unpacking summer clothes too. One set of clothes will go to some orphanage and another will remain with us. I know I will not get rid of clothes only but some of the guilt associated with it.

Decluttering is a great stress buster too. You let o of the emotional baggage associated with it and you feel free and light. I don’t stash away things for emotional reasons. I have given away my little ones expensive toys and clothes to other kids. Its time for others to enjoy those toys and look pretty in those clothes.

Now my younger one is growing up a bit so I will not take one sided decision but sit with her before decluttering her things. Decluttering should be a democratic process and one should not overstep in others shoes.

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In Pursuit of Happiness: Count Your blessings

Today I read somewhere: While you are busy waiting for the best of your life; the rest of your life passes away. That’s why I want to stay happy everyday by just doing one thing that makes me happy. For the past few days, I was unwell. So most of the time I was doing nothing except taking medicines and rest. Naturally I was unable to do much that makes me happy. So I couldn’t continue writing about my experiences.

Today also I am not feeling at the top of my health but something made me realize why can’t I simply count my blessings? It is not necessary that I have to ‘do’ something in order to be happy. I just counted my blessings. And doing so definitely brought a sense of calm and serenity.

Counting your blessings opens up a new vistas. It makes us feel how we take our day to day well beings as for granted and termed it as a usual day. If we watch our usual days closely we will feel gratitude, happiness and sense of serenity.

Today I realize that my friends and family are safe and sound and healthy. No one is bogged down by any major emergency. Today I realized that all of my friends and family had went on with their daily chores and did whatever was required by them to the best of their ability. Today I am thankful for the relationships in my life and the love and affection that come through these relationships.

Today I am also feeling blessed that all of my family and friends are safely tucked in their beds and enjoying a goodnight sleep peacefully. If you are able to picture this, you know how blessed and happy you are able to feel.
Today is devoted to my family and friends. Thank you for being in my life and enriching it by your actions and thoughts.

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In Pursuit of Happiness: Out of Box Thinking

I feel immense happiness when I saw people flouting all conventional norms and doing something extraordinarily different . It gives me pleasure to write about such people. Bunker Roy can easily belong to the Baba/Baby brigade as he was educated at Doon School and later at St. Stephens College, Delhi. His grand future was all chalked out by parents and society.

Does life means draping yourself in expensive designer clothes? Eating at all the known joints? Visiting all the tourist destinations? For most of us that will be a dream life. We feel happy to feed already overfed people by indulging and copying elites. But there are some out of box thinkers. Due to their efforts humanity moves ahead.

If you want to be a solar engineering degree from Bunker Roy’s Barefoot College, your qualification is either you have to be illiterate or semi-literate. You will get extra point at admission if you are an illiterate grandmother! Honestly I am not joking. This out of box thinking belong to Bunker Roy. Bunker Roy founded Barefoot College in Ajmer, in 1972.

His out of box thinking says you won’t have to be educated to be a solar engineer. Many Indian and African grandmothers under his guidance received training to install, repair and maintain their solar units and now they are training other village women in India and Africa to be solar engineers.

He says that there are only two conditions for acceptance to the program: that the women are older than 45, and that they are illiterate.

“Once we train an illiterate woman, they never forget what they’ve learned,” says Bunker Roy. “We find that literate women tend to forget because their mind is so cluttered. With illiterate women, we find that when we visit them in their villages after a few months, they haven’t lost their knowledge.”

“We’ve found men are quite untrainable,” Bunker Roy says. “They are restless and ambitious. They want a certificate, and as soon as they get it, they move to cities looking for work. Grandmothers are not interested in a paper to hang on their walls. They stay in their communities. Also, they have the patience to be great trainers.”

Bunker Roy was selected as one of Time 100, the 100 most influential personalities in the world by TIME Magazine in 2010. He is busy to bring solar power in the rural, remote, non-electrified villages. To electrify a village he trains the villagers so that they can acquire necessary skills to look after their own power system and don’t have to depend on the outsiders from the city.

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In Pursuit of Happiness: Day 15, 16

The thought that every passing day we are moving away from our friends and family prompted me to be as happy as possible. The thought that after some time I won’t be able to spend time with my loved ones urged me to cherish their company and spare them unnecessary hurts by me due to foolishness.

My young one was sick for the whole week. We all were tired after few days and tiredness is accompanied by boredom and monotony. But what to do when a child is sick and it has to be protected from too much activities and excitement? After a while, story books, coloring and cartoons lose their charm. I along with my kid needed change but in a protected environment.

We all know that camping is the best way of spending time with family and friends. Camping brings us closer to the nature and teaches kids many fun activities. Knowing or unknowingly we try to get closer to mother nature. I heard no one saying, This sky is so boring, This tree is so monotones, I am sick of looking at this pond/river/sea, I don’t like the feel of breeze on my face. Viewing sunrise or sunset is so uncool? I think no one has head such sentences in his/her entire life.

Why nature has the power to decrease our stress level? Probably we are a part of nature and not of concrete, girdles or mortar probably that’s why we want to connect with mother nature. Or a mother’s lap is always soothing and secure that’s why we want to revisit nature. Though experts offer some other explanation. Richard Louv, http://www.suite101.com/content/camping-with-children-a198904 author of Last Child In the Woods (Algonquin Books, 2005), says there is a connection between nature and rates of attention deficit disorder (ADD), obesity, and depression in children. The more time a child is outdoors the happier and healthier they can be. Young children and adolescents both benefit from spending time in nature frequently.

But what should I do? I am almost surrounded by concrete jungle. Should I wait for the kid’s vacation? Should I wait for the right, day, right time, right place, right vehicle, right tour and travel package? These options are very palatable but completely impractical at this time. I was fanatically thinking of new ideas. Then I remembered that my nephew had built a house in the terrace for his little sister. So what’s wrong with my balcony? NOTHING.

So I set up a camp right there with my young one. The whole process was so exciting and pleasant. I fished out some old unused bed sheets. Tied it at three places to make our “tent” and threw in lots of cushions and pillows to sprawl upon. We did take our pets along with us. They too should enjoy camping in the balcony. A nice breeze was blowing and sky was looking so blue and unspoiled.

If you want to do something why wait. Just go ahead and do it and be happy. 🙂

Our-Camp-With-Pets
Our Camp With Pets
our-window
Our Window
balcony-view
View From The Balcony - Not Bad at All!
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Tsunami in Japan

Japanese are the true followers of Buuddha. Their calm and cool composer didn’t leave during recent Tsunami and earthquake. Imagine a monster in the form of Tsunami wave is chasing you to suck the life out of you and you are running for your dear life BUT STILL, STOP YOUR car when the traffic signal turns red! Can any force beat such people for long? Certainly not. So much grace and dignity in the face of so much adversity? When death is staring in their eyes, they care for rules and regulations. Even destructive forces of nature can’t cow down such people and bow to their will power and courage.

I decided to write about doing one thing everyday that brings me happiness. Sometimes, being happy is not everything. Sometimes more than happiness one needs a strong resolve and great hope that I/we will pull through. I hope people of Japan will come out from the disastrous tsunami and rebuild their lives again.

The visuals and videos of Japan hit by the earthquake of 8.9-magnitude which led to Tsunami were quite disturbing and heart wrenching. You feel so helpless and hopeless. Tsunami hitting Japan has claimed hundreds of lives. A ship carrying hundred passengers in the remote city of Ofunato got tossed like a toy by giant water waves. When nature unleashed its fury on us, it becomes quite mercilessness. A nuclear plant and petrochemical complex are on fire too.
Hindustan Times says,

“The monster wall of water generated by the 8.9-magnitude quake — the seventh biggest in history — pulverised the northeastern city of Sendai, where police reportedly said 200-300 bodies had been found.

The 33-foot wave of black water sent shipping containers, cars and debris crashing through the streets of Sendai and across open farmland, while a tidal wave of debris-littered mud destroyed everything in its path.”

The reports say they can’t tell now how much damage has been done by Tsunami in Japan in terms of loss of lives and property. The horrible thing is more than 50 countries are facing the threat of Tsunami.

But Japanese are known for their will power and determination. They have survived Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear attacks. They rose to the occasion and rebuild their lives from the ashes. They are second to none in manpower, skill, dedication and professionalism. There is no doubt that they will rise again from the debris and come out as winner.

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Being Unhappy: Day 13, 14

For the past two days, I am not happy at all. No one can be, if he/she is in my shoes. I am not even thinking about being happy at all. That is the least of my priorities. Some days are like that. You have to accept that you can’t be happy no matter what.
My young one is quite attached with me. I know she depends on me a lot and feels very uncomfortable if I am not around for a long time. But for the past two days she is sick and I am feeling terrible. First it was nothing serious but usual cold. Then she started coughing and has fever too. Still not a cause of concern. I gave her the usual medicines and she seemed OK.
Last night her fever started shooting up again and just for the heck of it I told her to open her mouth. And my worst nightmare came true. She is again having laryngitis. Last year the problem got so worst that she was hospitalized and was in hospital on her birthday. When she was discharged from the hospital she was OK but after a while developed worst side effect of antibiotics. If there is God somewhere, he took pity on us and decided to bless us with our young one’s company.
She is suffering from laryngitis again is enough to give us nightmares. We were out in the middle of the night with doctor’s prescription to buy the medicine. To our horror we visited almost all the existing 24 hour open chemists’ shop in the city and we couldn’t find the medicine.

We came back home feeling disgusted and in the midst of all this chaos my daughter was sleeping peacefully at the back of the car. She didn’t have any fever. To out utter relief she didn’t have fever in the morning that means she is not having infection. We don’t have to Give her antibiotics. The doctor prescribed the alternative medicine for her throat. Above all she is not suffering from laryngitis.
What gave us the breather was the homeopathic medicine suggested by my father which worked wonders for the kid. I have to write another blog post on my father who is the walking and talking encyclopedia. 🙂
Right now It so comforting to see the kid plying with her pets and her laughter is echoing in the whole house. Today she applied some Vaseline on the Guinea Pigs and got reprimanded suitably. Seems happy days are back again.

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Aruna Shanbaug

Aruna Shanbaug
Aruna Shanbaug

Today Supreme Court has struck down the mercy killing plea of Aruna Shanbaug filed by Pinki Virani . But a debate on euthanasia. has started in the country. People are voicing their opinion on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter actively. Columinists like Bachi Karkaria and others are showing their outrage at the condition of Aruna Shanbaug.
As Sify News says, “Aruna Shanbhag, a nurse from Haldipur, Shimoga, Karnataka, was assaulted by a Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki, a ward boy at Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial Hospital in 1973.”
Since then Aruna Shanbhug is living like a vegetable. The Nursing Staff of KEMH is taking care of for more than three decades. You can’t spot a minor sore in Aruna Shanbaug’s body. Aruna’s fiancé had waited for four years to improve her condition. But ultimately moved on with his life. Today he is happily married with grown up kids.
As petitioner Pinki Virani says, ” I worked like a woman possessed. Eventually, all the necessary documents found their way to me. I would make the effort, jump for it, die for it, and the damn file would turn up. That is how I got her personal file in KEM, her special neurological file and even the names and numbers of people who knew her.”

Actually my mind was not with Aruna Shanbaug but with Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki. What happened to that guy? Was he punished? Had he suffered too? Or only Aruna Shanbaug was condemned to be imprisoned in her own body? What happened to the rapist? He was booked under robbery and served seven years in jail for the crime. THEN? He coolly served his sentence came out changed his name and city and worked in another hospital. Every pore of any conscious person will scream that’s so U-N-F-A-I-R.

What does current scenario tells about our society? We GO for the victim. Bachi Karkaria, Pinki Virani have done so much for Aruna Shanbaug someone else could have put the same effort and clout Pinki Virani has written a book Aruna’s Story. The part of the royalty from this book goes to Aruna Shanbaug and after her death it will go to some women’s organization.

But one question can’t escape my mind. Why no one tried to reopen the case and tried to punish the guilty? Even today we all are talking about Aruna Shanbaug’s death or right to live. A SURE SIGN OF A COWARD SOCIETY. We specialize in going for the victim. What about Aruna Shanbaug’s right to justice? What about punishing the aggressor? Actually we have not moved away much from the history. If aggressors used to abduct our women, put them in veils. If aggressors used to abduct brides, shift the wedding timings from dawn to night. If abductors defeated us, tell our women to perform Johar or Sati. We might have started frequenting pubs and discs but mentality is still more than six hundred centuries old.

Aruna Shanbaug we are sorry. We can’t give you justice but worry about your D-E-A-T-H. Why you chose to born in this cowardly society?

PS: Aruna Shanbaug died today on 18 May, 2015. She was world’s oldest comatose patient. May her soul rest in peace. Hope she is in a better place now.

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Being Happy Day 11, 12

‘Survival of the Fittest’ might be true for the external world but its untrue for family. External world might say let the unfit perish but not your family. As a potter molds the clay same way our families shape us. Whatever we face in the external world, we always aspire to be “home” with out loved ones. It doesn’t matter if that loved one reside in a home consists of one room apartment or a mansion.

We humans are born as totally “unfit” to survive in this world. It is our family that gives us that edge to survive in this planet. The irony is that we don’t realize the importance of family till we leave the protective fold. There is an element of certainty even when we are fighting the bitterest battle amongst family members. We know no one is going to leave us.
When we start our own adult life then the fact dawn upon us that how much effort and blood and toil are needed to raise a family. But raising a family is not only hard work it gives us a reason to strive hard and give our best to family. It give us a reason to go back home. No matter how beaten and bruised we are feeling in the night our family gives us enough strength to wake up and put up a fight again in the morning.
Our weekend was devoted to family. We went out to dine and watch movie. I like it this way, the three generations of family enjoying together. You don’t have to open a book or watch a documentary, ‘what happened in our times’ 🙂 My husbands grandfather was freedom-fighter. He didn’t allow his children to watch movies. But the balancing factor came from my husband’s grandmom. How she used to took kids to movie hall and how everything was planned to deceive the grandfather who was in his turn capable of deceiving British. But wives are / were more powerful than British rulers. 🙂
I remember my own father didn’t talk to me for eight years. But still he was there whenever I faced any crisis. Today what I miss most is talking to my grandfather. He used to tell a lots of stories of his times and struggles. Though like a convention family we never went to holidays or movies or eating joints but still I used to spend a lot of time with him. I still aspire to have 10% of will power he used to possess. Another thing that I admire of my grandfather is he never used to meddle in our lives. He himself made his life rich and fulfilling on daily basis and didn’t feel any need to interfere in our own lives.
Here I am talking about normal family not about violence prone abusive families. Nothing can be more miserable than that. The hands that are supposed to rock your cradle, rob you of affection, love and care. Then one has to chose not to follow in the family’s footsteps. Even then life is giving us a chance not to repeat those mistakes in our adult life and live consciously and happily.

But if one had a normal family, try to make most of it. Though it is comforting to think that parents are going to live forever, in reality they are not. So enjoy the precious moments with them.

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Being Happy Day 10 : Don’t be Too Nice

‘Treat people the way you want them to treat you’, is the biggest lie on this planet earth and true for Sachin Tendulkar ONLY. If you are not Sachin Tendulkar and treat people nicely without giving them stinkers, they will apply the policy of ‘use and throw’ on you. If you lend a helping hand most of the time, you will be taken for granted. If you go on helping people at the drop of a hat, they will keep dropping you at the drop of a hat.

When I stopped being too nice to people, it actually increased my happiness quotient. Being too nice is the story of my life. Its the natural conclusion that what goes round comes around. So I was actually scared of the mere thought of saying no or being rude to anyone. Does my niceness led me to the path of happiness? The answer is a big NO. Most often I felt so miserable and unhappy. I used to wonder the usual wonder, ‘what have I DONE’ to piss this person off?

Where I live, people tend to behave as they please. If they are in mood, they will say Hi to you otherwise you might be quite invisible standing right there for them. I remember one lady. She came to our house after ten in the night while I was packing for our holiday in mountains. We had an early morning start. She needed to know the house numbers of society kids so that she can invite them for her kid’s birthday party. I welcomed her and did the needful. When few weeks later I saw her in the garden, she ignored me totally. Last year in December, she again knocked at my door and made the same request. I obliged. Now she is back to her usual ignoring self.So if she is coming to my place next time…. 😉

It doesn’t mean I am saying goodbye to my basic nature. But I am certainly going to use my discretion. I am going to pick and chose. Everyone doesn’t deserve my care and attention. Now I too behave in a manner that people think twice before misbehaving with me. Never make yourself too available that people start taking you for granted. Pay attention to your own well being without being selfish.

Having your own personal space is very necessary. If you are not going to create and respect your personal space no one else will. So don’t help people all the time. and learn to say no. Give people opportunity to learn and grow and take responsibility for a while. It will not do them any harm.

People actually have their own set of rules and emotions they care to live by or exhibit. It is a very hard earned lesson but I F-I-N-A-L-L-Y learned it. My good behavior CANT extract good or civilized response from others. Slowly but surely I realized that I can’t control how others behave. What I can control is my own reaction and behavior. That thinking definitely brought me lots of peace and happiness. Taking control of your own behavior and emotions free you from victims mentality too and takes you away from the path of whining and cribbing.

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Being Happy Day 9 : Supreme Court Zindabad


The above ad aptly sums up India and Indians.

Hope is the key to happiness. When I look at the conduct of those who are in public life I often feel despair, frustration. anger, helplessness and what not. BUt Supreme Court of India has today given us some H-O-P-E. All is not lost. We are not that helpless. We have a spineless vertebrate s PM. What he does as PM is wait helplessly and watch helplessly and sit helplessly and speak helplessly. HE IS AN EPITOME OF HELPLESSNESS. The cherry on the icing is he terms his helplessness as symbol of H-O-N-E-S-T-Y. Today the Supreme Court of India has given the well deserved long due resounding slap to his pseudo honesty.

Today I am really happy that at least there are some institutions in our country that works. Apart from armed forces, Supreme Court seems to be the only institution of the India that seems to work.
This headlines aptly sums up “CVC verdict: Another blow to Caesar’s wife” It says,

“The Supreme Court striking down the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner PJ Thomas and his subsequent resignation on Thursday is yet another blow for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a major one for the UPA government.

The ruling is likely to put the UPA government on the mat and in a very embarrassing position. Not that it cares, but it will definitely be a major blot on Manmohan Singh’s image. This is the third time that the Supreme Court has tweaked at the ears of Singh – the 2G spectrum and the CWG being the earlier occasions.

Like Caesar’s wife, Singh should have been above suspicion in the case of Thomas’. In this case, the Prime Minister is personally culpable.

Remember what Singh said during the Congress party’s plenary session in December last? “Like Caesar’s wife, I should be above suspicion”.”

Hope works as fire for our lives. But we the citizens of third world country is deprived of such hope. But still we find certain people who dares to take a stand and FIGHT and keep our hope alive. Nothing gives me more happiness to write about such persons or institutes.

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