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my friend ganpati

September 24, 2016

for someone already there, what would be the sense in inviting them in again? nothing, except a desire to be festive and welcoming.

that’s what we did with ganpati this year. brought him in with love and reverence, to yet again be a part of our lives. and to make sure he was kind of around, we bought him in a form that would convert to a tree later. our lovely eco-ganesha.

it was truly awesome. so many snippets.

the preparations the day before — putting together tables and sheets and assorted puja utensils lying in different nooks and corners, the very festive yellow-orange flowers that dotted the entrance and the place he was to occupy, the fun and happiness that seemed to float in even as he was due to come — all blessings.

and then the flurry of activity the night before — getting him from a kind of ‘artists adda’, at the terrace of a chawl where kids chanted ‘ganpati bappa’ as we climbed down the stairs, his active engagement in ensuring abhay got involved, the little little things that didn’t quite turn out as they were meant to — and the overall feeling of ‘it’s ok, all is well with the world and our lives!’

and the stream of friends and loved ones through the 2 days — a great reminder of how blessed we are to have so many of them in our lives! — people just came and added to the whole feel. ina singing lovely ganpati vandanas she had just learnt from her music teacher a day before, usha masi & uncle initiating the first arti — as they have been doing for many important occasions in our life — and meg joining on Skype at 6 am her time in london, friends and cousins laughing and participating, nilima and vijay doing the evening arti, and the next day all our help/ drivers concluding the whole ceremony in the lovely authentic way it is meant to be.

the flow of life. the beauty of rhythm and peace. the wonderful feeling of having come home. the warm feeling of being loved and protected.

ganpati bappa morya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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tales of a lost era

July 9, 2016

it’s holiday time and we travel across new cities – planes and trains and cars. visit new restaurants. art galleries and museums. pub walks. shopping. all new areas with lots of people.

i have always enjoyed people watching – walking in the innermost areas of a city and immersing myself, looking at life as it flows in a new geography. making sense of human interactions, emotions – enjoying the universality of it all…

and then the reality of our times! wariness as we enter crowded areas, of strangers, drunks, a large bag left carelessly somewhere, the area before security at an airport. warnings – well meant, no doubt – fear that hangs out like an unwanted guest. lack of eye contact, anxiety flowing around, something that has changed irrevocably.

and as we travel more, old habits resurface – i smile at strangers, watch over an old lady’s luggage as she goes to buy a coffee, we walk around new towns and townlets, stand huddled with 30 other people waiting for a program to begin, go into underground music bars, laugh out loud. it seems the same world.

and then i hear about dallas and the many other killings. my kids are enraged and feeling the onset of adult impotence at many harsh realities of life – the inability to be just/ kind/ peaceful…i don’t know what to tell them. so after an hour long frustrating debate, I pretend to watch the scenery and get off the conversation. i have taken the coward’s way out of my dilemma.

so how will the world be as we hurtle forward? bleak and scary? or just as it is – a mix of good and bad? i really don’t know. all that I know is I would like to continue living it with as much trust, faith and optimism as I can muster through the dark days.

my glass is mine to fill.

 

choices

June 18, 2016

a blank page is just that. what you can do with it is quite another thing.

you can fill it with something that becomes a universal legacy – a poem, stories, essays, whatever, a piece of art.

you can fill it with hatred – words and images that destroy and segregate, take people far away from the essence of their humanity, the core of their being.

you can fill it with power – mergers, business deals, laws, agreements.

you can fill it with meaning – expressing love, feelings, things that lie deep in the recesses of your soul.

or you can leave it blank.

not mine…

June 15, 2016

there’s one trait, very prevalent in india at least, which i find very difficult to fathom. and that is the inability to ‘clean your own shit’, literally.

i will be in a room, with the ac on, and i will walk away happily, without bothering to switch it off.

i will have my meal at home and not pick up my own plate and keep it in the sink. even if i do that, i will not make sure the remains of what i consumed go in the dustbin and the plate is soaked.

i will run a house, have a whole army of help, but i will not ensure my garbage is sorted out properly and put in the right bins.

hundreds of small things like this. and it doesn’t stop at physical stuff — i will mess up things at work and walk away, shrugging and refusing to take responsibility.

i believe this entire culture of having people to do our basic work is at the root of it — someone else can, and must, clean our mess, make our bed, pick up after us, and it’s ‘their job’ — we are not even supposed to value it! after all, we pay them for it!!

if we really truly deeply recognized this as our responsibility, and really truly deeply valued another human being for taking care of it, we would be a much more civilized society.

 

 

 

and so democracy speaks…

June 4, 2016

here’s a post i had created almost 2 years ago…still seems relevant!

i have like many others of my ilk seen the entire action play out. and now the screen blinks loud, to show what people have voted for.

and as i live many miles away in another democracy — to be precise, a multi-party federal directorial democracy — it is perhaps the closest in thought to aap. for any change in the constitution, a referendum is mandatory (mandatory referendum); for any change in a law, a referendum can be requested (optional referendum). all taken from wikipedia, so I guess my information is authenticated by many bright minds all over!

and as i read the debates, the dialogues, the almost chest-thumping remarks all over social media, i wonder what i am looking for in this ‘dance of democracy’?

i have grown up in a country which respected diversity — of all kinds — as an inherent thread woven in its tapestry. yes, there has always been a rich-poor divide, and cross-state prejudices and stereotypes, but we have all lived together for centuries. and that somehow has been my comfort zone. yes, we will laugh at the ‘gujju’ caricature and the ‘panju’ stereotype in a kjo movie, but there will be a comfortable acceptance of all colors in our picture. it makes us strong, diversity is our backbone.

i worry about that comfortable coexistence.

today, returning to this Post after 2 years, my concern remains the same — are we losing what is our biggest strength as a culture?

so how are you settling back?

June 1, 2016

…is the question i have been asked so many times this last year, after shifting back to Mumbai from Zurich. and it’s quickly followed by –‘aren’t you missing Switzerland?’

what do i say? what’s not to miss about a heavenly place the world wants to live in! its scenic beauty is pretty much unparalleled. we loved our 5 years there — discovering europe in a way which would have been impossible living anywhere else, loving the fresh cool air, the peace and quiet, the travel, all of that.

but mumbai is mine. it makes me come alive, opens doors for me to explore, it pulsates with my people, of all hues and shapes and types.nothing anywhere in the world can compare to that feeling of ‘i belong here’.

it’s also a city where many different things happen. someone publishing a book, starting a social enterprise in dharavi, taking up zumba at 60, choosing to wait for a job for a year if he doesn’t get the right option, a driver looking for the best english speaking class for his son, someone enjoying life to a hilt partying hard — all of these are fragments of the mumbai i love.

and it’s been great coming home again. will of course go to zurich for a break 🙂

punarjanma (rebirth)

May 31, 2016

i am back at this blog after almost a year! and that too, because I have just become a ‘writing Buddy’ to a friend of my son.

so it’s with great gingerness that i let the words move out of my mind onto this post…they come out hesitant, looking here and there, till they are suddenly thrust upon the world as unsuspecting bungee-jumpers pushed from behind. and then, after that first bloodcurdling scream, it’s pure play 🙂 — the sheer freedom of being out in the universe, experiencing their own power once again.

i must confess writing comes a very close second to music in my life. and yet, it keeps getting lost in my set of priorities as life gets me engaged in a lot of other stuff. which i also love, but somewhere i need to realize how important it is to nurture my own sources of creativity. they can wait silently in the shadows but they are becoming more fragile and unkempt by being ignored.

here is a promise to my words, my stories — i will make you my first priority once again.