Blame Game


Bogale approached his mother and said, “I know that vase meant a lot to you. It was your mother’s last gift to you. I am sorry Mom you lost it because of me.”

Zeni quietly looked at him and said nothing.

“Mom, why aren’t you angry with me? Accuse me for what happened, please say something.” Bogale said.

Zeni looked at him, smiled and said, “Bogale, you know that this vase was the last gift one from my mother but do you know that she had given me some other gifts that are more valuable than that vase.”

Then she took out some milk from the bottle, poured in a pan and put it on the stove to boil.  Once that milk started rising she took some lemon juice and poured it on the milk. The milk began to curdle. She poured more lemon juice and it curdled more.

Lemon+ heat = Curdled milk

Bogale was not sure what his mother was trying to do. He kept looking at her closely.

“Bogale, a perfectly normal relationship get spoiled if you loose your calm or get angry and start blaming each other. A bad situation becomes worse. And we don’t want that to happen in our life, son.”

Where is He?


It has been almost two weeks since I saw him last. Where is he? How is he? Why did we meet? Not even a single day has gone by when I didn’t think about him. I look for him every time I walk past the gate, I saw him last.

It was a fine morning. I decided to walk to my son’s preschool to drop him there for the day. The school is not too far from my house; less than a quarter of a mile but it’s on the other side of a major street. When I was about to reach that intersection, I saw a woman briskly walking to her destination. And then moments later I saw him. He was running haphazardly; he seemed to be little confused. He stopped in front of that woman and started barking. She picked something and hurled at him.

I am not speaking figuratively; he really started barking at her because that’s what dogs do. I stopped in the middle of the road watching him bark. I was scared, even though it was far from us and facing in the other direction. I am not an animal lover but I don’t want to harm them either. I enjoy a very neutral relationship with them. I don’t try to get close to them and I don’t want them to be anywhere close to me. Where I live, we usually don’t come across a lion or a tiger in the middle of the road, it’s usually a dog and they are enough to scare me. If by any chance they come in my vicinity, I generally forget to breathe. Dogs are dogs; the size, shape, color or design doesn’t make a difference. A Chihuahua is as scary as a German shepherd or a Bulldog. Long story short, this barking, and four-legged creature; supposedly ‘man’s best friends’, scares crap out of me.

Without much thinking I just picked up my son and quickly crossed the busy road. I think someone even honked at me but that didn’t matter. My main aim was to get away from that barking dog as quickly as possible. I reached school, dropped my kid off, talked to teachers, other parents and forgot about the dog. On my way back, I crossed the road and came to the side where my house is. I waved at my friend driving by. Smiling, humming and enjoying the morning I came to the corner of my street. Suddenly, all smiles vanished.

I saw the same barking dog charging towards me. I froze; by God’s grace he also stopped. I don’t remember breathing at that time. I looked around to find someone who can help me, may be the owners or someone who can shoo him away so that I can run to my house never to look back again. There was no one around. Not finding anyone, I looked at him. He was already looking at me. He seemed to be confused but it was I who was more panicked. I felt as if the only option I was left with was to fell on his feet and beg him to let me go, “please, please … Bhagwaan ke liye mujhe jaaney do.” (… for God’s sake let me go.) It is well known dialogue from Hindi movies but don’t worry that didn’t happen. It wasn’t as dramatic.

I kept looking at him. He barked at me once or twice but stood at his place. He didn’t try to come near me, which was kind of relieving. While looking at him I realized that something has gone wrong with his life. He seemed to be kind of lost and looking for someone who could help him or understand him. He too needed help. At that moment, I remembered reading something about oneness with all life in the book “The Power Of Now” By Eckhart Tolle.

That thought helped me; my feelings changed towards him. I was not as scared as before but I was still not ready to touch him. I was much relaxed and back in control. As soon as I got a grip on myself, I found myself talking to that dog in my mother tongue. It might seem crazy; Imagine a woman talking to a dog in Hindi in the middle of the road in America but yes that’s what happened.

I felt as if I was standing before a 5-6 year old boy (not a dog,) “Hey you, what are you doing here in the middle of the road? Who are your parents? Where’s your house?”

The dog opened his mouth, probably to bark but he just squeaked and sat down.

I took few steps towards him and continued my dialogue with him, “Don’t you know it’s not safe to run around in the middle of the road. Come now, go, go to your house. Come’ on go now and stop this horse play.”

He moved. He stepped back and quietly entered a slightly open wooden fence gate. He went in and calmly sat down on the grass.

I stood there for sometime then took a deep breath and began to finish my rest of journey to my house. After taking few steps, I looked back and called out at him, “Now be a good boy and stay safe.”

That was it. It was the last time I saw him and since then I have been looking for him. Even after two weeks, I look for him everywhere, left and right; I tried to listen for his bark. A sign or something that tells me he is fine and that the house he went in was his but till now no luck. I am kind of missing him, which is peculiar knowing the kind of person I am.

A Blessed Drop


I was walking back home after dropping my son at his school. Like always it was a beautiful morning. The Sun was hiding behind the clouds. It was not warm; it was not cold. A gentle breeze was blowing the dry yellow leaves away from their trees. Strolling beneath a Ginkgo tree, few leaves flew past over my head, touching my hairs softly. It felt like I have just been blessed. I looked around and saw three pairs of pigeons chirping on the electric wire. I don’t know why but I remembered an old Hindi song and started singing. The beautiful morning became more beautiful.

Suddenly, I felt something wet trickling down my cheek. It wasn’t a tear; it was something more blissful, something purer than a tear. I touched and took the drop on my fingertip and looked at ‘it’. ‘It’ made me feel the intense joy within. My whole entity was filled with graciousness towards the creator. He had allowed me to experience the beauty of his creations. Touching that little drop, I was able to physically feel his presence. ‘It’ was the blessed.

Ginkgo Tree

Slowly as the drop dried up on my finger, it made me realize the nature of our belief in the creator. I understood that even though it’s commonly practiced but generally it’s very fragile.

A Slip Of Opportunity


I am a confident talker. I have no problem in conversing with anyone. That is my opinion about myself. I am not sure though if others feel the same about me. Although it’s not the same with my writing skills. During my conversations, I know where to put a comma and where to put a full stop. I generally don’t talk too much to experience very many slips of tongue. Circumstantially it happens, when I am under the influence, but slip of opportunity is totally a different story.

I am a so called teacher. Two years back, I got my teaching credential from a California State University. It was the proudest day of my life. I worked really hard to get to that stage and I deserved that happiness. Don’t get me wrong here, I still am proud of my achievement but there have been some other experiences that were not on my agenda at the time. I had hoped that once I got the degree, I will get a job and I’ll be on a fast track of becoming a good teacher. But, life is not as straight as one thinks.

In spite of the fact that I am on the lookout for a full time position, I am still capable of establishing a record. Generally, the word teacher and record do not go in the same sentence but it’s true. Soon, I would be holding a record for missing an outrageous number of job opportunities that had knocked on my door. I would be awarded the title of Miss “MOM.” Don’t be perplexed; of course I am a mom but this self made acronym stands for, “Many Opportunities Missed.”

The opportunities that generally arrive at my door are on skates. To make matter worse, they are amateur skaters. When I think I’m prepared, I open my heart’s door and politely ask them to come in. As soon as they make a favorable move towards me, these learners forget what they have learned and loose their balance. They skid away as if they had stepped on the banana peel. They quickly pass off before my eyes, hitting and shattering few things within me. They do not take away anything from me but leave me with a paper and I manage to find a pen to write my feedback and comments that would help me to do better next time.

In last couple of years, I have been through so many questionnaires and interviews that many people might not have been in their whole life. The reason they reject me is that that I don’t have any job experience and there is always someone more experienced than I am for that specific job. The big question is, “if I don’t have a job, where would I get the experience???” But the misery is that people don’t understands the pain of it. And those who understand are not in hiring position. So, I am like a dog who is trying to catch its own tail; going round and round and round.

I’m not just any dog. I am an expensive one too, like English Bull Dog or Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or Samoyed for that matter. Each interview or a demo teaching lesson costs me, no sorry (I am not even earning) costs my husband a fortune. Everything from a new formal shirt to new stationary to teaching supplies adds to our monthly expenditure. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to set aside some money in our budget, under the section, “For Interviews”. At least then it wouldn’t hurt as much.

I am quite sure that there wouldn’t be many who have the same experience that I have in giving interviews. I always manage to crack first couple of levels but then something happens. The HR people inform me that I was great but they found someone better. That statement is so conflicting. I don’t know how to react to it; if I should be happy about it or I should cuss the person who was better than me.

In the beginning, I used to save my rejection letters. My positiveness within me didn’t allow me to consider that getting a rejection letter is a failure. It was seen as a little bump on the road rather than a mountain. People tend to get disheartened if the ride is too bumpy. They begin to loose the charm of it but I got a hang of it. Instead of breaking my journey midway, I fell in love with the whole process of hiring. Only thing that has changed is that I have stopped saving my rejection letters. Saving them meant buying a new file cabinet. There was no point in spending those extra bucks because after all that time, reading the similar kind, time and again, the content of the letter had permanently settled in my RAM.

Pretty soon, the hiring people might issue a California Most Unwanted list. And my name will be on the top of that list. Or they might even start putting my name in their “Job Requirements/ Qualification” list. In all lilkelihood they do not want someone like me but the contrary, someone unlike me. Among all the requirements, one of the points would state—

* “If your name is Nandita Gaur, please do not apply.”

So, calling out all prospective parents whose last name is ‘Gaur’, please think before you name your daughter Nandita.

The irony of the whole things is that I cannot even complain. God has given me many chances to prove my worth but fortunately or unfortunately I have lost them all. I think he has to do more than just showing those avenues. I am God’s special needs child and I call for his extra attention, because I am not going to give up and I will keep filling those questionnaires, keep driving to new schools, keep meeting new people and keep interviewing.

God bless my interviewers!!!

I am no “Tiger mom” but no “Scared-y cat” either


My two boys are seven and two.

They are my Sun and my Moon.

They brighten my days and shimmer my nights.

 

The happiness they render is unfathomable.

They are my salt and pepper.

They bring taste to my life.

 

I am no astronomer observing from far and beyond.

But they are far too valuable to let them go by themselves.

No kid likes to be corrected, especially, by their mom.

 

My sons are reprimanded for breaking the boundaries.

They are no longer my “little angels.”

They are just two people; meant to be shown the way.

 

I know that hurts; I ride the same roller coaster too.

The scene isn’t picturesque; it isn’t pleasing either.

Alas! I can’t cede to such weaknesses.

 

I have to guide them through.

Learning to attune to a fine act of balancing;

It’s hard but I try being firm, fair, at times flexible too.

 

I am no “Tiger mom” but no “Scared-y cat” either.

I hope the day comes when they could  proudly say,

“Whatever you did…worked for us, Mom. It was the right thing to do.”

***

 

 

Styles of Parenting

In Reference to:

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

By Amy Chua

Shall We Meet?


She was there; I felt the warmth of her existence. And I wanted it to be permanent. My spirits uplifted.

I was floating; I heard the music in her voice. And I wanted it to be perpetual. My heart longed.

She was hiding; I sensed the truth of her entity. And I wanted it to be real. My search deepened.

I was anxious; I dialed the number of her cell. And I wanted it to be correct. My call dropped.

She was reachable; I tried the connection again. And I wanted it to be good. My line connected.

I was happy; I asked the question, “Shall we meet?” And I wanted it to be “Yes”.  My plea granted.


She was coming; I recited the prayers from my heart. And I wanted it to be honest. My wait ended.

I was calm; I checked the sanctum of my body. And I wanted it to be special. My environ lighted.

She was here; I watched the grace of her presence. And I wanted it to enwrap me. My gaze fixed.

I was still. I joined the hands in worship. And I wanted it to be everlasting. My breath stabilized.

She was hugging. I quivered at the touch of Divinity. And then there was nothing. The self liberated.

Finding My Perfect Teacher


During one of our numerous conversation, my aunt casually mentioned the importance of being a life long learner. She stressed that learning is the essence of life and it should continue and grow with age. And then very smoothly she seeded quiet a novel idea in my brain, she said, “Who could be a better teacher than our own kids?” Although it sounded profound, I didn’t quite agree with her. I kept wondering  “What can a kid teach me?” Later on, after a closer review and some minute observations the truth revealed. I have to confess that kids do model some practical wisdom that are broadly described in our scriptures. Most of the times we tend to overlook them because our ‘ego’ stops us from accepting our kids as our perfect teacher; and that we can learn a lot from them even if they are just two years old.

“While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what is life all about.”

~Angela Schwindt

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever”
~Chinese Proverb

We wake up with Saavi asking his favorite question, “What is it??? And we sleep hearing the same voice asking What is it???” It doesn’t matter if the question is for a person or a thing; the question remains the same. Quiet frequently, our friends have been welcomed into our home by Saavi, pointing a finger at them and inquiring in his sweet voice “Yeh Kya hai?” [What is it?] Usually, we oblige him with a right answer patiently accompanied by a smile but at times situations are embarrassing and therefore it is mixed with a hint of frustration. Our rudeness doesn’t hurt him and it does not stop him from asking. He diligently continues doing it. He doesn’t care what others’ think about him or about his parents. He just keeps moving towards learning a few new things daily.

“The height of cleverness is being able to conceal it.”
~François de La Rochefoucauld

What was the result of those never-ending “What is its’?” The other day, I found out that it was not mindless questioning. He was actually learning by asking. I wanted to break the monotony of perpetual answering, so I decided to do a role reversal. This time I asked him his favorite question.

I pointed  towards the Pressure cooker and  asked, “What is it?” What happened next came as a surprise to me. He made some faces and then answered,  “Presssssse Cuckcoo.” That was amazing, I was not able to control my laughter to see the way he contorted his lips to pronounce the word pressure cooker. It was hard for him but he was able to give me an appropriate answer and it was surely commendable.

Then I realized that if I hadn’t asked him the question, he would not have come to me and told me, “the stuff you use on the stove to cook lentils is called a Pressure Cooker.”  He would have kept his knowledge to himself and wouldn’t have used it to impress others. Since then, I have been discovering that he knows a lot of things but he doesn’t tell me until asked.

“A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”

~Elbert Hubbard

Saavi loves to drink milk. He keeps asking for it all the time, “Duuduuuuuuuu, duuduuuuuuu, duuduuuuuuuuuuuu ….” and he tries harder and harder until he has his bottle in his hands. At times his repetition becomes difficult for the adult in-charge. He is so persistent about having his bottle of milk with him all the time that his Spanish-speaking teacher also knows what “Duuduu” stands for. He would convey his desires so many times that one succumbs to it. The good thing is that he happily keeps trying, without getting frustrated or cranky, till the point he is successful in achieving his goal. His tenacity  and determination showed me way to handle my life well. He has also taught me to be consistent in my own efforts.

There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.”

~ Bryant H. McGill

Last weekend, I was enjoying fish and wine with my husband when Sid, Saavi’s elder brother came and asked if he can watch another movie. Two movies at a stretch was not acceptable to me. My sudden reaction was to yell a “NOOOO” at Sid. It was a loud outburst that scared everyone, even I was shocked by the pitch of my voice. I glared at Sid and tears flowed out of his wet eyes. He left the room, I got sad. I got sadder when I turned and looked at Saavi. This two-year old, who loves me so much was appalled by my actions. He stopped eating his snack and turned his head in the other direction and looked away from me. I tried to hug him to bring him back to normal, but he just hushed me away. Without even saying a word he expressed his annoyance, “Mom, that was not fair.”

I realized my mistake and was ashamed of myself.

Instantaneously, I went to Sid’s room to talk to him, explain him and to ask him to pardon his mother. He hugged me tightly and sobbed in my arms. I quietly lay down beside him. After about two minutes, Saavi came to us and he was smiling. He happily climbed on us and once again we all were in a playful mood. At that moment, I understood the real meaning of the famous quote by Gandhiji; “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

“The love we give away is the only love we keep.”

~ Elbert Hubbard

Our kids can teach us many thing but best of them all is that they teach us to LOVE without boundaries.

It was turning dark, Saavi heard the garage door open. He knew that his Dad is home. He happily runs to him shouting, “Papaaaaaaaaaaaa …” He welcomes him with smiles and hugs to his trousers or jeans, or whatever he is wearing at that time. For him, it doesn’t matter how long he had been waiting for him or how late his Dad had been today; it’s more important that his Dad is with him now. He doesn’t complain about what had already happened. He lives in the present and is just happy to see him and have him by his side. Although, he doesn’t utter a word, he takes all the measures to make sure that his Dad knows that Saavi loves him; he stands by him, climbs on him, holds his hand, help him change and then shares his snack with him. When they look in each others eyes and smile then Saavi knows that his Dad is also happy to be with him.

Little probing will show us the things that we can learn from our own kids.

LOOK INTO THEIR EYES.”

It is the tool that will help us in our deep search.

Nothing is Permanent, Not Even Failure



I wish, I could say that this mind-boggling phrase, “Nothing is Permanent” was mine but alas! it’s a quote by Gautam Buddha. We know it but we fail to understand it. We live our lives assuming that everything is permanent, even our existence. Life comes to us in ‘packets’, we open them and live them as they come. Some packets package success while others have failures in them. We fly without wings when a success packet arrives but the failure packet always comes with its allies ‘depression’ and ‘frustration’. At that time, it is important to remind our-selves that “Nothing is Permanent, and so is Failure.”

Failure is like a hair that if comes in the food spoils ones appetite. It definitely destroys ones mood but the effect is generally temporary. I am sure, you must have also experienced some sadness when events took an abrupt turn. These events although don’t feel or look good at the time of occurence but they always happen for a reason. After few years when we reflect back we realize that it was in our own goodwill. I wanted to know, share and learn from your stories to help someone in giving them hope about things that are not going in the right direction.

A couple of week back when my ‘muse’ visited me she inspired me to write a small story. It was about the reaction of a couple to whom I frequently put forward my queries. Answers to which I use in my articles. That day my muse was in a jovial mood and she had decided to make fun of me.  She got me all excited about my writing and stuff and I added that ‘little’ story to my blog as well. Probably, I was writing under the influence and as a result of which my little incomplete draft was posted on my dearly loved blog. Later on, my positivity didn’t allow me to delete it. I hoped that somebody might have a look at it and would be generous enough to share an event, ‘a packet,’ that left an imprint on their mind. I wanted to learn the lesson they took from life, a moral that will stay with him or her throughout.

Don’t ask me how many people approached me to share their experience? Hey, hey, hey… Don’t leave this page and go checking the comment section of my last article. (I hardly have any readership and I don’t want to loose you.) Okay, I will let you ask me. “Com’ on ask.” Hmmmm….. Well, only two people shared their thoughts with me. If I tell you one was my dad-in-law, who is first in line to read and commend my articles (even though my articles don’t deserve that fan-support that he provides. He always reads them with all sorts of expressions and sometimes with sniffles too.) So, actually I am left with only one actual person who entrusted me with her true feelings.

I

"Enjoyyyyyyyyyy"

Pari And Her Freedom

Pari is the name of my friend who confided in me. She told me something that happened fifteen years back and helped her in becoming what she is now. Her story goes like this;

“Failure is something that I wasn’t used to at all. My parents never put me in a position that gave me an option to fail. They always motivated me to do well, to be on top of anything that I did, and made me work towards it, even if I was not naturally talented enough to do it.

My first experience ‘against’ this norm was, when I started my undergraduate studies. The very idea of not being with my parents was like liberation to me. For the first time, I could do what I wanted. I did exactly that. I was barely near my books, always out with friends (not doing anything wrong or things that I should not do), but I just got carried away with the fact that my time was my own, and I was the boss. I carelessly messed up everything that I had worked so hard for, for 17 years of my life. I completely shattered my dreams, my parents’ dreams and many other things when I got my marks for the first semester. My first attempt at being all alone and being responsible was such a failure that there are no words to describe the shame I felt.”

Sorry for the interruption but being the narrator I have to give my inputs too. Pari was distressed by her actions and its repercussions but the bad phase of her life didn’t last too long as she continued further:

“There’s no point crying over spilt milk isn’t it J and why do we make mistakes – only to learn from them, right? The first thing I did was blame myself. OK, I got over that phase, and took responsibility for it. I did a couple of things I shouldn’t have at that point, but I needed to do that to recover my self-esteem. I had to change my company – it wasn’t that those people were bad people. It is just that their goals were different; they had the luxury of doing whatever they wanted to, without carrying the burdens and expectations of their family. Maybe I was wrong in doing that, but at this point in time, I don’t regret it. I began to spend time with my high school friends who came to college with me, and who knew that I was capable of doing much much more. They drove sense into me. I took it all in, sometimes with a pinch of salt (because no one likes to be told how wrong they are.) But they meant well, and I liked that there were some people who threw around their weight with me because they wanted me to do well.

I worked hard for the remaining 7 semesters. It was difficult, and sometimes made me wonder if engineering was the right choice of path for me.In some subjects I did well, and some I just did not like. Maybe it wasn’t enough, I probably could have done better. Well, all’s well that ends well…. I ended up with two jobs after my degree. It wasn’t the highest paid job but I was satisfied.”

Lesson Learned:

1. Owning up to responsibilities.

2. It’s not a big deal, and it is okay to fail (this was my biggest lesson). It’s what you do to come out of it and be successful after that what matters….

II


When Nothing Seems Right

She was shocked when she got a call from Mr. Joans, her University Supervisor. She didn’t remember what he said or the explained at that time. Only thing that she got out of the whole conversation was that she doesn’t have to go to Thomas Jefferson High School anymore.

Niharika was in her early twenties when she came to US with Abhay. They have been barely married for a month when she left everything back in India and came to this country. America was a new, unknown land where her only acquaintance was Abhay. He was the only support system she had in her life. A computer engineer by profession, he was nice and caring young man . With his help, she began to get used to American structure and culture without much aberration.

She was a well-educated, smart, confident female. She did not have any big plans of her future but she hoped that one day she would be able to work and earn something (however small) and support Abhay and build a home and a family in this great country. She explored all her avenues and took sometime before she decided what she wanted to do.

“A Science teacher, wow!” People exclaimed to hear her resolution. Some jumped out of excitement and others out of shock. It was not an easy step to put forth. She was determined and slowly and steadily she kept climbing up the ladder. She cleared all the examinations then she got herself enrolled in the State University. She took three courses each semester to get the teaching credential in one and half year. She made up her mind that she would start her full time teaching job the following Fall.

It was not as straight-forward as she had planned. There were other things that were in store for her. In the final semester, all candidates enrolled in the teaching program have to student-teach two different classes at a school, for the whole semester. With the help of her mentor at the University she decided to work at Jefferson High School with a Biology and an Earth Science teacher. She worked hard. There was no difference between night or day or weekends. She just worked, worked and worked. Whatever time she could possibly steal from Abhay and her three year old daughter Siyona , she stole and utilized it in preparing for the class.

Niharika didn’t have the foresight. She didn’t see that one of her Master Teacher (the –teacher-in-charge) who was a new teacher herself was not happy with her. Whatever she did she was never satisfied. One day, when the Mr. Joans was visiting, the Biology class didn’t go as planned. Her lesson planning was not as crisp and some students got distracted. Mr. Joan had to interrupt in between to shut them down.

That was her mistake. Nobody understood that it was her first time doing that stuff. She is new, she is learning and she tried her best. She wasn’t excused. She was asked to terminate her student-teaching assignment in the middle of the semester. It was Mr. Joans responsibility to inform her about her FAILURE.

At that time it was hard for her to hold the phone receiver in her hands, when she called Abhay at his work. She failed to control her voice and hold her tears in her eyes. She howled and begged him to come back home. When Abhay came back he just hugged Niru hard. He didn’t let her move out of his arms for sometime.  He just kept repeating, “It’s okay, everything will be fine.” But now she knew, “Nothing would be fine, she is useless and she cannot achieve anything in her life. This was the culmination of everything she had hoped for so long.”

III

Failure is an event, never a person.

~William D. Brown

Cheer up Folks! I am not going to end up my story in tears and sobs. Niru was not alone during that crisis. She didn’t quit. She had Abhay and other family and friends who kept encouraging her in her uphill journey. She did some remedial work and projects to learn more about teaching in USA. She took some courses to improve her communication skills and then again she took her student- teaching assignment by the ears.

This time she had a wonderful experience. She was a winner. She was respected by all her colleagues and loved by her students. I was there to share and celebrate their happiness at the Recognition Ceremony conducted by Niru’s Univeristy. Abhay was happiest of all. I could see the pride, the affection Abhay had for his wife, when she was being awarded her teaching certificate.

IV

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.

~Henry Ford

That was the moral of my story you don’t fail until you Quit. It is okay to Fail but it is not okay to Quit. Failure is a phase that passes by, but the marks remain for good.

Trouble Troubles Only If One Troubles


Introduction

– An Irish Blessing

As the date of her marriage is approaching, his visits are getting more and more frequent. She fears his untimely visits. He is impolite and would knock at her door in the middle of the night or when she is alone.  She is anxious that like always he will leave her vulnerable and insecure. She has spoilt him so much that now he is uncontrollable. At times he would also bring his friends with him. Even though she wants to avoid him and she is not ready for him, she lets him in. He has gotten too comfortable with her but didn’t care how she felt about him.

On his visits, he would settle in his favorite ‘grayish – red’ recliner on the left side of the room, start the music and would kick off his torture. He would abuse her with minimal or no physical signs on her body. It was generally dialogues between the two that left her bruised and battered. Now, her bruises are becoming visible. She is getting dark circles. She is loosing her appetite and she doesn’t even go dancing anymore, which was once her passion.

May has a pretty good life and anyone in his or her good sense would be ready to step into her shoes. She has a nice job, nice comfortable accommodation and good friends. Sam is her good-looking Italian boyfriend. He is a caring and cheerful young guy and soon they would be man and wife.

I know her for years now but I can’t even help her. She is the one who can control ‘him’. May has been in this ‘unwanted’ relationship for years now. She came in touch with Depression W. Trouble, when she was in school. Yes, May is in relation with Trouble. She is prone to getting troubled and worried easily. She got into this habit when her parents went through a bad separation leading into a divorce. She blamed herself for the nasty stuff that all three of them went through. She spent most of her time being troubled. ‘He’ was her only companion during that troublesome time.

She has become one of those obsessive worrying people. She is not enjoying her wonderful present. Sometime she goes into her pasts; gets angry and sad about what happened fifteen years back. And at other times she worries about the future; if she is going to have same fate as her parents. She has gotten so used to him that even after things are better, she couldn’t help being troubled. She invites ‘him’ time and again for even trivial matters. She wants to get away from ‘him’ but she is not able to extricate herself. She is dependent on meds to get out of this tension and anxiety.

There are people who love to worry and be troubled at the fall of the needle. Worrying is a tendency which is hard to quit. It might be harder than to quit smoking. There is no patch that can help one to abandon this mal practice. One has to do it by themselves nobody else can help to recover from it. Being troubled or worried is something that destroys ones’ health and leads to many other complications like high Blood Pressure, high Blood Sugars and vision problems.

A different class of people are the ones who simply ‘flow’ with the current. My respect for my father-in-law has increased manifold since he told me that nothing has ever troubled him.  He says, “I do not remember a situation in my life that has troubled me. This does not mean that there were no problems. However, I always looked at the problems from a different angle. Whenever there was a problem, I tried to see whether a solution is possible to this problem or not? If  “Yes”, I tried to get it solved and if “No” then why even worry. I left it to God as I have great faith in Him.” I was impressed; if you do need help why not seek it from ‘The Supreme’.

Sometimes things do get out of hand and it is a reminder that we are just human beings. We cannot control everything but we can definitely help from becoming like May. Things or situation might not always be favorable. They do trouble us but only to the extent that we allow them to do so.

My Trouble With ‘It’

The United States of America is a nation, where the prefix “OVER” has become an integral part of our lifestyles. I don’t need the obesity statistics and numbers keep pouring in to start my fitness regime. I am aware of my broadening waistline and fading neckline. I am one of the sixty-one percent of Californians who is overweight. And I am also among the ones, who think of getting fit everyday. There is no need of a New Year’s Day or a Birthday to make such a resolution. Any day is good to make that promise (as there is no fees or fine for breaking it.)

Last year, I opted for the cheapest way to get to my goal of getting back to the weight I had before having my two kids. I decided that I would walk 1.5 miles, one way, to bring my son home from the bus stop.  For me a three mile walk was respectable amount to shed some extra pounds (A nice way of saying that I am not too fat) of my overweight body. If one makes some calculations (which I didn’t make at that time.) At this rate (and only if I stick to this plan) I would loose only about 10 pounds, in the time my son moved from kindergarten to first grade. So, was it practical? May be not, nevertheless I was thoroughly motivated by my friends who were running a full marathon for charity. However small my step towards the huge goal may be but I started it.

I am little touchy about my bodyweight, so I got carried away. Any ways, coming back to my real story. On the consecutive Friday, I was reasonably excited and happy. I was able to keep my promise for that week. I walked up and down the Cabrillo Avenue for all five days.  The course I follow has an overhead bridge. Everyday, I read twice, 14 Ft 10 In., printed in black font and with a yellow highlight. This bridge is home to many birds. I admired the flight and sound of these birds made, especially by pigeons. It was amazing to witness the interaction of these wonderful creatures. One bird would fly from one side of the road to the other and then with its “goo-goo” it invites the other partner, to have their private moments.

Sometimes, when I walked under the bridge, I saw the whole eggs of the birds lying on the sidewalk. Those were ones who were not lucky enough to make it through. They didn’t see the light of the sun and hear the sounds of cars and other vehicles passing by.  They were ‘served’ to be the food for the raccoons or may be bats. It was heart breaking to see the end of a life even before it could sprout out of its ground.

Anyways, life goes on. I went on with my life as well. Very diligently for about two weeks I continued to walk those miles to fulfill my promise but one day I was deterred to take those steps forward.  It was the day, when I saw a lifeless pigeon lying on the road in the pool of blood under that same bridge. I felt sick to my stomach at the thought that it might be the one whom I saw goo-gooing the other day. It might be some other one too but there was not much of a difference. By now I had formed a relation with those members of avian family. And today one member was gone. It was a loss. With heavy steps I kept walking. I could not let my five-year old waiting and wondering, “Why mumma is not here to pick me up?”

On the way back, I was quiet and kept thinking about that dead bird. My inner peace was gone. I was in turmoil. It was hard for me to decide, whether I should bury it or leave it like that. Finally, I could not muster the courage to pick it up and perform the last rights for ‘it’. Actually, I didn’t even look at it when I passed under that bridge. I saw that bird for the next few days, sometimes in the middle of the road, sometimes on the yellow divider line or sometimes by the sidewalk. Each time its condition was worse than the last time. I kept thinking how long the cleaning crew would take to come and take it away. That didn’t happen and ‘it’, the dead bird, stayed there. And then it was on the sidewalk from where I used to pass. It had started to stink badly. It was bad and shapeless.

I decided to walk on the other side of the road but I kept an eye on that bird whenever I passed by. ‘It’ was still there.  The day three of changing the side, en route to the bus stop, I met another hurdle. I saw a dead cat on my side of the sidewalk. Somehow, I passed through it on my onward journey but on my way back I had to make a choice. What is better? To walk by a week old dead bird or freshly killed cat (remember I am walking with an infant in a big stroller and 5 year old.) I gave a silent verdict to myself and decided to cross the dead bird again. And again, I was appalled by the sight of ‘it.’

The next day when I was about to reach the bridge, I was struck by lightening. Oh, not the real lightening but the smaller version of the kind that Buddha had when he was sitting under the Peepal (Ficus religiosa) tree in Bodh, Gaya, India. A thought entered my mind,  “It’s just a body and there is nothing to feel bad about it.” And that was the end to my grievances. The bird was still there in its most grotesque form. I saw it, gave it a slight nod and passed by. It was not at all difficult. Do you think that was the end of story?

No, of course not. After about ten or fifteen minutes, when I came back, I looked for the dead bird and it was not there. I looked again and again and everywhere but ‘it’ was gone.

Power of Prayers

Serenity Prayer…

God, grant us the…

Serenity to accept things we cannot change,

Courage to change the things we can, and the

Wisdom to know the difference

Patience for the things that take time

Appreciation for all that we have, and

Tolerance for those with different struggles

Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the

Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other and the

Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless.

By-Reinhold Niebuhr

Sometimes even little things, however insignificant they might appear, happen for a reason. I have learned my lesson.During the difficult times, we need the power to endure it. We just need to be aware that the power is within us. Sometimes, we are aware of the said fact but we tend to forget about it in the times of need. A learned and realized man of ‘Yogi’ cadre Shri Paramhansa Yoganand, who started the Self Realization fellowship in USA, when faced with difficulty prayed to lord, the way Paul Apostle did.

“Don’t change the situation but change me ”

...It's Effective

Who Am I To Judge Anyone?


gossip

The other day, I was talking about a friend, behind her back. Of course, I was not saying good things about her. We were making fun of her ideas, her ideals and her approach. Later, during some moments of introspection, I felt sorry for myself. Why did I fall into that vicious circle of criticizing others? Who am I to judge anyone?

God has already given all of us full opportunity and freedom to perk up one of his greatest creation. He has given us, ourselves.  We are a big project ourselves. In terms of writing, we must be his first draft. There is still a lot of scope to revise and edit this existing draft.  God has put no limits to which we can go and improve ourselves. We can find n number of our weaknesses and work on them to transform into a better person.  There isn’t any time limit too. He has given us our entire lifetime to do so. In this process of editing, it’s helpful to have some good editors in close vicinity, but self-analysis is the best.

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of SRF, once said, “Learn to analyze yourself, looking at both the negative and the positive: how did you come to be what you are? What are your good and bad points, and how did you acquire them? Then set about to destroy the bad harvest. Remove the tares of evil traits from your soul and sow more seeds of spiritual qualities, to increase the crop of good harvest. As you recognize your weaknesses and scientifically remove them, you become stronger.”

Realizing my mistake and acting on Guruji’s advice, I put forth my first step to change myself. I will stop criticizing others, especially behind their backs. I would either muster the courage to point out their weakness upfront and be one of their editors, if they so desire, or else shut up. When my comments bring no good to anyone, they do not help me in anyway either. It’s just a wasteful thing to do. I pledge, never to get involved in any of such futile acts.