Week 36: Your home (Upbringing)

There are two gifts we should give our children; one is roots and the other is wings.
~ Unknown

A photo by Daniel Cheung. unsplash.com/photos/sCdm5DiJb8w

Seldom we are grateful for the kind of brought up we all have been bestowed upon. Who and what we are is defined heavily by our parents.

Like or dislike it, we receive a sort of exposure because of them. Since our birth, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the games we play, the words we speak, the expressions of ours, the reactions, the beliefs, the values, trust, faith, everything is shaped by them.

The sort of education we get, therefore the kind of peer group we move with, the friends we make and the connections thereafter, everything is sowed as seeds by them. Discovering our own selves, our talent, our strengths is also facilitated by them.

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And there are some parents who guide us like a light through all the years until we make our own decisions based on choices available to us. And there are some who will continue to parent us. And, there are also many, who face life’s reality at an early age and lead life on their own figuring things out.

Which is ideal? We can never generalize that, for its completely circumstantial. Having said that, it’d be great if all acknowledge and count on our blessings for whoever we are today, merely for our existence.

Yes, I am glad, I am alive this morning and have another day to experience life. 🙂

Good vs. Bad

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Today, at my regular weekend Samskritam class with Sudha Mami, there was a particular verse she was explaining and it hit me so hard that a lot of my life questions got some sort of an answer.

गुणायन्ते दोषाः सुजन वदने दुर्जन मुखे
गुणाः दोष्यन्ते तदिदमपि नो विस्मयपदम् |
महामेघः क्षारं पिवति कुरुते वारि मधुरं
फ़ेणी क्षीरं पीत्वा वमति गरलं दु:सहतरम् ||

Gunayante doshah sujan vadane durjan mukhe.
Gunah doshaayante tadidmapi no vismaya padam.
Maha meghahksharam pivati, kurute wari madhuram.
Phani ksheeram peetwaa wamati garalam dussah taram

What this means is:

Good or noble people amplify even the little good they see in people. While, people who always like to pick up only fault in others would overlook all the good in others. So much to an extent, that they will portray even the good as negative trait in others.

And to draw an analogy, it is similar to how clouds absorb salt and dirt from the ocean to give sweet drops of water. While a snake drinks milk only to spit out poison.

Now, if you ask me what is good and bad, well, well. That’s for another blog, another day. 🙂

Week 27: Favorite spot in your city

In Chennai, there isn’t just one spot which is my favorite, but many such places. But, I am going to pick one that I frequently visit – Marina Beach.

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Marina has a charm that makes it very personal for me to connect and visit it every now and then.
Marina has seen a part of my soul – my best of laughter and sorrowful tears.
Marina is about 6.5kms long (From Island grounds to Light house) and has been my regular running path.
Marina has allowed me to sing to its waves, shiver to its thunder & lightning, dance to its uncovered rain.
Marina has made me see Chennai in its truest sense – from the rag pickers to the owner of an Audi, it treats everyone the same and takes them into its arms with no bias.
Marina is home when I need to pause and reflect on life.
Marina reminds me of a future ahead of me – for its been a witness to my life and growing up, in some sense.
Marina makes me feel I am home, everytime I land in Chennai after traveling out.
Marina, we will continue to have this bond, for we also made a deal to see you when I turn 60 years old. Probably with my special someone, Sriram.

🙂

Ootacamund – Go Heritage Run

May 29, 5:30am – 10am,

Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu

fresh cold of breeze, leaving me with goosebumps.

as we drove along the tiny lanes of ootacamund to reach the beautiful destination – lovedale school.

at 7am, we started a run, that will be etched in my thoughts, for the beautiful memories i made.

15kms covering sheer beauty,
for nature is par above us.

the flowers, the trail, the trees, the wet grass, the street dogs that looked well kept, the hills, the tiny roads.

the continuous breeze, the eucalyptus smell, the wet mud, the clouds.

the view of tiny colourful houses presented like a step cultivation.

the fellow runners – kids, loners, lovers, friends, couples, families.

there was beauty in every little thing.

and, most importantly, myself, my thoughts about a lot of new things. learning and discovering myself, for this was really “my time”.

grateful for the magical experience, for i only felt ecstatic and blissful throughout this journey.

thank you Go Heritage Run – Ooty team, it’s volunteers and my friends – Karthik Natarajan, Ashwanth Kumar and everyone else (you all know who you are), who made this possible for me.

Week 16: Simple things in life

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You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.

– Swami Vivekananda

I feel very insignificant to share my views on this, but, somewhere one has to reflect their thoughts, right?

The simplest things in life is ‘To be’. As I type this, I am aware that, I have gotten this as a concept. But, in reality, this moment occurs only now and then.

Yet, I am extremely grateful that I could experience moments such as this, that too in an aware state of mind.

I hope that, this becomes a way of life, for me.

Tataastu.

Humbling experiences in dark

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We, normal human beings, have taken life so much for granted. Why do I say so? Because, little do we realize the power of our senses. Having said that, please think about this – when was the last time, we were aware of all our senses?

Here’s my attempt to express what I experienced today.

We entered a pitch dark room. [What followed thereafter was simply beautiful. And, I haven’t felt this good in a very long time.] A voice resonated and gave us a set of instructions from time to time. It wasn’t easy in the beginning until we began to trust this voice and perform all the tasks that were given to us.

This experience lasted about 40 minutes. And, towards the end of this, we realised that the voice belonged to Robin, who is visually challenged, but in no way less than us normal mortals.

Personally, I realised how much I had taken my sensory organs for granted. And, the tiny conversation I had with him made me feel that ‘there is always a way if we are willing to make things work’. They don’t need our sympathies. They just need to be treated equal.

This experience / simulation is a concept by Dialogue In the Dark. I request everyone to look up for this place and visit it whenever possible.

For fellow Indians, more details of the concept and locations are available with this link – http://www.dialogueinthedarkindia.com/exhibiti…/concept.html

Week 14: A talent you have

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.
– Albert Einstein

This is mostly me in a nutshell. I am very aware of my musical abilities and understand that I have been blessed with a voice that can move and produce some good sound. You could call me a singer, for this description 😉

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But, to talk about a talent I have, hmm, I believe I am very very curious, to know and learn about a lot of things. Even in cases, where the subject sparked least or no interest in me. And, I uncovered this reality, only when I remained fascinated about everything around me – especially to understand the potential of human beings and talent / skills they persevered.

Over the course of time, I did juggle and explore things like writing (yes, all the stuff you’re reading right now), playing the violin, perspective drawing, clay modelling, quilling papers, jewelry making, clicking photographs, producing a movie, story telling, concert performances, learning languages, sudoku puzzles, crossword challenges, poetry, composing to name a few. (oh yes, I am not at all modest here!)

Throughout my explorations, I found myself to grow more and more inquisitive. It also gave rise to a thought on how many such untouched areas of talent or skills that exist around us. And, we seldom acknowledge and understand, how this one life is just not enough to simply learn about these possibilities 🙂

Week 10: List 5 things you like about you

This blog topic is tricky. But, come on. What’s the big deal about self-love?

“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”
― Charles Bukowski

Like, one of my friends, mentioned to me the other day, we all spend most of our life’s time with our own self.

In that context, it is imperative that I enjoy being with myself and appreciate the goodness in me.

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So, jumping straight to the list of things I like about myself.

  1. Learning:
    At any given point in time, I have observed and acknowledged that I always enjoy learning, in its truest sense. I strive to learn from my respective gurus / mentors. I also learn through my interaction with people, belonging to various groups.
  2. Trust:
    I like how I am wired to trust anyone and everyone without any prejudices. I give everyone, a fair number of chances. When things don’t work their way, I get, that it’s time to let them be. I like that, I have learnt through time, to pick myself up and move on.
  3. Time:
    I do juggle between work, family, friends and my own goals. I definitely like how I am able manage time for all these things. But, truth said, the folks in my life are extremely supportive and make this happen for me, seamlessly.
  4. Communicate:
    With life experiences, I have learnt to communicate well. I like that, I can clearly state what I have to say or what I feel. Again, a lot of people at various instances have made me this person I am today.
  5. Enthusiasm:
    For those of you, who know me well, you’d instantly agree on how crazy I am. I like that, I can almost laugh out loud on anything and everything. I hold a child-like enthusiasm which lets me explore, travel places, experiment on things, stay raw and radiate within.

Music and mostly prolix

Being born and growing up in a musical household meant that, I’d be encouraged to pursue Carnatic music even before I’d speak.

The following quote holds a testament for my upbringing. And, I am beginning to realize what a blessing it is to have lived life this way.

Music is there to enrich your life and make you aware of things in a slightly different way. ~Andrew Eldritch

Everyday, I was either made to listen to live concerts of reputed musicians, or listen to recordings from several tapes / radio relaying concerts of yesteryear musicians. My thatha (grandfather), my guru, Sri Thirupoonthuruthy Venkatesan would ensure that I paid attention to every little nuance and absorbed as much as I can. I reminisce these listening sessions with him which included Alathur Brothers’s (who were thatha’s gurus) ‘EmA Ni Ne’ in Mukhari, GNB’s ‘Manasuloni’ in Varamu, MLV’s ‘Nannu pAlimpa’ in Mohanam, Semmangudi’s ‘RAma Ni SamAnam evaru’ in Karaharapriya, M S Subbhulakshmi’s ‘SarOja Dala Netri’ in Shankarabaranam and many alike.

Until I turned 15-16, I knew nothing, other than music. I’d simply learn compositions taught by my grandfather, resume to endless hours of practice sessions at home with my amma following up on a day to day basis. 24 hours wasn’t enough but, amma ensured that I utilized every minute of it towards music and only music. Indeed, life was very different back then.

Sometimes, I begin to wonder the amount of things my amma has done, to make me who I am today. She was and is still a working woman. She could have progressed and moved up the career ladder. She chose to take it slow and never wanted to shift base from Chennai. She’d never retire on weekends, she almost single handedly managed home, aging grandparents, me and my erratic music schedules, very diligently. She missed being away from appa. So was appa missing all of us. But, they both made the conscious choice to do this, for me.

While amma was a disciplinarian, appa was liberal in every way. Possibly, because, I am the only daughter and he mostly got little time to spend with me back then. His enthusiasm to learn was infectious. He had an ear for good music and considered himself a fanboy of K V Mahadevan, M S Viswanathan, Ilaiyaraja and in that particular order (in current times, I tried influencing him, but that’s not affected him). He kept traveling on work and whenever he was home, he would narrate his musical influences mostly through story telling. It’s because of him, I got into exploring this side of the musical world (amidst a lot of resistance from amma).

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” ~ Aldous Huxley

I grew up, and suddenly, I preferred silence over music. Which only meant that, I needed a break from this beautiful art, especially in terms of performances. And, maybe, this is part and parcel of a package called life. I got into academics. Was mostly an average student, but worked very hard to catch up with everything that I thought, I missed in the last 18-20 years. I just wanted to stay away from all lime light that music exposed me to. I never quit learning music, but took a break from performing, very consciously.

The last 5 years between 20 and 25 was a phase, where I listened to more music – of all forms. Call me a rebel, call me a fool, call me anything you want. But, this would be one phase that I’d call a liberating one. I listened more to Hindustani Music, Ghazals, Jazz, Metal, Rock, Fusion and to endless genres and forms of this art. I rediscovered myself through this journey.

Today, at 26, I continue to learn from Sumithra akka. She has helped me gain confidence and strength as a person. I see life coming back in full circle.

But, I am still confused, I am still insecure about what I should do, in terms of performances, my contributions for the art and a plethora of things. The battle is between art and art itself. Unless, someone who has gone through the last 26 years from my shoes, I don’t expect anyone to understand this, as well.

For now, I just trust that the art will take care of my being and help me sail through this phase and to a better one, at the earliest.

Through this journey, I had support and empathy from several musicians and I am ever grateful for their presence. You all know who you are.

Week 1: Why Start this Challenge

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Why start this challenge?

Because, I didn’t stick to this challenge last year. Wrote only about 6 out of 52 challenge posts. Sucks right? Yeah.

But, why start all over again? Especially after failing so miserably last year?

I want to give this a fair shot, once again, this year. And, use this challenge as an opportunity to convey my gratitude for all the simple things I experience on a day to day basis, the people who help me grow, the experiences to come and most importantly, discover myself through this journey.

A splendid new year to all you readers! 🙂

Hopefully, you and the universe will conspire enough to help me stick to the challenge.