Thursday, August 30, 2007

Staying Connected!!

" It was dark ... and she squirmed and huddled close to her sister trying to get some sleep. Those were days when there was no current and electricity in her remote village.....but nature's abundance of fresh air and cool breeze caressed her with their soothing lullabies. Though she belonged to a large household with a huge old house and acres of fertile land, she never had a room or bed of her own. Compartmentalization and selfishness were traits unknown was all about giving and sharing...! She shared a central hall with the whole family which was transformed into a sleeping room at night. It was not a hall but a place where she used to weave her own dreams ... and her imagination soared up high with all the fabulous stories her mother would tell them during those twilight hours.

But today , some commotion outside was forcing her keep her eyes open and ears sharp!!! She could hear her uncles and grand father and father in a rather commanding tone and she was alert. Suddenly she heard " Thief ! Thief!" and could feel a fire inside her small tummy!!
One of her Uncles came rushing in ......" Do you want to see a thief ? " he asked. She climbed on his shoulders holding on to him tightly.....this was the most adventurous moment of her life! She was going to see a real thief ! She never thought a thief really existed .. and even if there was one he never belonged to the homosapien species ....he would be from some "homonstero sapien" species alien ....who is alive only in stories.. with monstrous features .. horns and huge body and fierce eyes!!! And now how brave would she be if she could just face that creature even though from the shoulders of her uncle !!!

Out they went to the veranda ....they had caught a thief who was trying to steal coconuts from their trees ....
" did you see the thief?" asked her uncle.
She couldn't spot any one other than a tiny man held by one of her other uncles....who was bowing down in shame and embarrassment and trying to make excuses like..." i had just come out to relieve my self! i had to attend to nature's call!" ......
there was no monster or gigantic figure - just a normal human being!.....She was surprised ......!!!!"

I heard this story from my Amma when I was a girl . It was not a story but a real life situation of my mother's childhood. I loved hearing such incidents from my mother and Grand mother . Such stories laid strong foundation for creativity and bonding.It was a good way to stay connected. Story telling is a beautiful way to let the kids explore their imagination....and who can do this better than parents and grand parents! One of the most precious moments I enjoy with my kids is our story time . The time when they are rapt in attention, their eyes trying to capture every bit with out a blink .....the stories opening new doors to their dream world....their soft bodies leaning on me and embracing me with their undivided attention.

My kids seem to be extremely lucky, as they have had story sessions with their grand mother and also great grand mother. But today, as we are away from home , and away from our dear ones my kids are missing their grand parents! .... but surely not their story time . My parents who were initially apprehensive to computers and hesitated to approach them .... are today using them with ease! Internet and Google talk have made distances seem little ones screams from here are so deafening to my parents and also to their neighbors ! My naughty ones eagerly wait for their ammumma and abu to call.... so that they can start their story time!....I can't help smiling when I see my little ones rapt in attention....alert to the sound of their grandmother's story line , plunging onto their world of imagination.....laughing and giggling along the way....shouting "one more kaani ! one more kaani !!!....".

times have changed.... though jobs have taken us far apart ....from different parts of the globe we still find ways to stay connected!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Standing Meditation!

"Are you ready?" said one of them.
"Hmm....I think so....What am I suppose to do?" I en quired.
"Do nothing! Just stand still" came another voice.
"Ok" I replied thinking that it would be an easy job....JOB? .....yes.. it was a job.. I was supposed to be paid at the end of the day!

Thus I started to work....I stood still staring straight.....And In turn I saw many pairs of eyes staring back at me....
Who doesn't like to be noticed ? ..And I was being showered with all the attention anyone could aspire to in a foreign land!

Now let me share with you the story of how I landed up at this job ....a job where you are supposed to do nothing.

It all began in one of the Japanese classes which was offered to foreigners in Japan. We were nearly 20 students from different parts of the world and we were initiated into this language by three Japanese ladies.
One of our teachers was especially kind to me and would praise me every now and then , leaving me a bit embarrassed. One day she came close to me and stood there just smiling at me. I greeted her and reciprocated her smile ...but I felt she was not satisfied . She continued staring at me .....After a while she asked me whether she could make a portrait of me . This was an unexpected question .....She was part of a painting group and her group would invite me to their painting school as a model for painting! I would be paid too , once they finish the portrait.

That is how I landed at this interesting job!....Interesting .....only for a while....My legs started aching nose started eyes started drooping.....but the enthusiasm that reflected on the faces of my friends made me carry on . Each minute seemed to be stretched to infinity...

.I realized doing nothing was not easy! Our mind tries to invent new things all the time ....that when it was supposed to shut still kept on talking as a matter of habit! ... I realized this was the best opportunity to slow down my mind by shifting my attention to my body....I tried relaxing from my feet upwards....I could feel a latent energy come to life in each and every cell of my body...the life force was rejuvenating me and I was enjoying it.....I seemed to have stood still for quite some time.....but it was now a meditation I enjoyed....aching legs, itchy nose and drooping eyes were no longer issues....

This is the snap I took with the artists at the painting school.

As I returned home that day I was feeling fresh and new!....May be we should meditate on any job and really live life...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Simple joys of living!

Her hands were continuously working on those pile of clothes.The warmth of the sun and the smell of breeze were still emanating from those clothes...making me feel like just snuggling on them. Her face would beam with pride as she stacked up those clothes in neat racks, categorizing them according to size.

I still remember her squatting down with a bar soap and scrubbing brush...teaching me how to hand wash the clothes, with out wasting water. Every drop of water was precious, after all it was Chennai. She would wrinkle her nose in displeasure as I used to hang the clothes on the clothesline. She used me lecture me on the art of drying clothes. Her hands would then handle those freshly washed wet clothes as an artiste approaches his canvas...untangling all the folds ....each and every inch embracing the warmth of the radiant sun. Her work done she would smile at her own artistry....satisfaction bordering those lips. This was my Grandma. I used to spent my whole summer vacation at her place and today I can tell she has deposited many thought provoking moments in my memory bank....which I retrieve every now and then to enrich my life today....

Today I don't have to hand wash my clothes... washing machine has taken over....and there is the dryer which helps us dry clothes in winter!....But as I would like to deposit some rewarding moments into the memory bank of my kids, drying clothes in my patio with them is a task which I wish to undertake.

The other day as we were enjoying those wonderful moments at our patio I was approached by my neighbor. I could read a sign of displeasure on her face.
"Why don't you use the dryer?" , she inquired.
"Its very bright and sunny today. I thought it would be better for the clothes and also for my pocket...and more over my kids love doing this chore", I replied.

She was still not happy. " You see, people here do not dry their clothes outside", she continued...
"oh, what a pity..." I thought...
" I know ... I still wonder why people here do not dry their clothes outside?"I replied.
I knew she was considering me as an old fashioned Indian, not yet ready to adapt to the modern American life style.
I realized there was no point in explaining to her about the joy I experience while hanging those clothes with my little ones.They were learning numbers ,colors and were also being home schooled in sharing and taking responsibility.These were simple joys of living I wanted to LIVE....for I am sure they would one day be retrieved by my kids from their memory banks and help them LIVE their lives!!!