Monday, 4 April 2016

To an imperfectly lovable batch

So, nostalgia is catching up to us. Last month of the Last semester has begun. It's odd, how the years flew by. I remember the me who came to college, and I see the me who is leaving. There is an immense amount of difference. And it is because of the people I was with.

Cse batch of 2016 is easily called the saddest, lamest, weirdest batch (or so I have heard :P). But for me it is the most special one. I know most of the people in the batch really don't care about what's going on with others (sorry about the brutal honesty, but it is kinda true isn't it?), and I also know most of the people in the batch couldn't care less about the classes. But that's the only time I see you guys. That's the only time I know we are a batch. That's the only thing we have in common. Otherwise we are just groups. The smart-yet-nerdy ones, the dude ones, the awesomely-intelligent-yet-cool ones, the we-rarely-come-out-of-the-room ones, the Axis-Aarohi ones, the nerdy-invisible-girls, the rightmost-row-girls, and so on. All of us, the popular and the unpopular, the visitors and the regulars, the going-places ones and the just-getting-out-of-here ones, we make a batch. We make an amazing batch. 

You will laugh it off, I know (coz I know many of you :P) But each and every one of you, has made me a better person, unbelievable right? Well, we are a sweetly annoying batch. We surprise ourselves when we show up to celebrate what we have as a batch. We don't get along a lot of the time. We hate each other when the backs are turned. But somehow, amazingly, it all fits. All of us fit together. Like, even if I hate some person, but if they weren't around, I would miss them like crazy.

Yes, we aren't as close as some of the other batches or departments. That's probably coz all of us come with our own quirks. But seeing those quirks, and seeing all of you extremely comfortable with those quirks, made me comfortable in my own skin. This was a place where being weird wouldn't come with odd glances. And if I am weird enough to write this, I am definitely very weird. :P

I know so many of you wouldn't even read this, many would laugh. But it doesn't matter. I didn't have a perfect college life, like they show in the movies. I had a quirky one. With lots of learning, mostly not of the academic kind :P. I made a few friends, who I honestly don't know whether will bother to remember me after college. But I have neither regrets nor complaints. Because, I am taking with me memories of a college life that is easily more than I could have ever asked for. Had it been perfect, it would have become mundane. Had it been any other set of people, I would probably have missed out on something. 

I know there are still people I haven't talked to in the three years, but I will try to change that. I know that this would mean little and less to most, but this batch means the world to me.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Because all it takes is one small act

So, I struggle almost every time with a topic. What is important for me and relatable to other people, because those two things almost never match.

Well this one is a little different.

The other day, I was walking down the street and I saw a woman struggling with her two wheeler. She couldn't get it started. The owner of a pathetic Activa myself (because it is old and not well maintained, no offence, Honda), I know the struggle all too well. So I had seen her from a distance, while I could not gauge the exact problem, I knew I could help. But I kept looking and thinking what the problem was. I passed her and I realised I should have stopped and asked, yet, I did nothing to turn around and actually help her. I just kept walking and thinking how it was wrong that I had walked away. Five minutes later when I came back on the same route, someone was there helping her. I felt better. But it was empty consolation.

I knew I could and should have helped her, but I didn't. There has been not one, but many instances involving different things where I could have been of help but chose to walk away. It's shameful. There have been instances when I needed help, and nobody volunteered. I guess that's how the circle goes.

Maybe we don't have to help every time we see someone in distress, but if we do it every 5 times of 10, Maybe those 5 times will come around for us out of every 10 times that we need help, and if we manage to get help 50% of the time in this crazy world today, I would be proud that we have still humanity left in the world. 

It could be the smallest of things, like helping your grandmother find her way about her new smartphone, or helping your mother bring down a heavy box from the shelf, or running an errand for your dad, or helping some random stranger kickstart her scooty. 


If anyone anywhere needs a little bit of help, and we can give them that, then we add a little bit of human into this increasingly machine dominated world. 

Friday, 11 March 2016

Why sometimes backups, and not dreams, should come true

So, have you ever had your dream come true?

I never had too, I always had my backup come true, like when you want to study in IIT but get NIT, or how you want to be the Head Girl at school but end up becoming smaller fish with lesser power. Like when I aimed for the first position but always got second in dance competitions. 
Backups come true, all of them :D

But then I look back now, and see the good in all of them, I know I am being holier-than-thou here, but just look at things this way. If I hadn't gotten second every time and only first, I would have stopped making the effort. Being second best in my formative years taught me what prolonged effort is. How you don't give up and keep working towards what you want to be. How to persevere, how to stay focused.

Being a deputy of something and not head, taught me how to get work done, and how not to wait around for credit. It gave me freedom to do work my way, and have somebody else be responsible for it. It gave me time to explore other things, without taking away the importance associated with a position holder. It taught me to multi-task, and manage all deadlines. It taught me whatever the position, only will is needed to make a change.

Getting NIT instead of IIT was simply the best God could have done for me. I mean I was a stupid kid, I still am, but was even worse back then. Protected child with no clue how the world worked. I would have collapsed had I been in IIT. When I left home for college, I barely could talk to guys properly (yes, even at this day and age, girls with low self-esteem can't talk to guys straight up). So, while I was unhappy that I couldn't get my dream, I know now, that I wasn't ready to live it.

What I didn't know then was that, eventually, I was getting prepared to actually live the dreams I would be aiming to achieve henceforth. Each and every one of my backups came true, none of my dreams did, but the one thing I did right was to never give up dreaming because of it. And all my backups taught me enough, to be strong enough to live my dream once it did come true.

And one day, it did. My dream. My one singular dream for two years. I literally would have dreams about this one thing I wanted. 

And I know now, that I am moving towards the life I always imagined I would have. I know all this sounds very fairytale like, but it is true. Because paths are lighting up for me as I look towards them.

The mantra is, don't give up, not for one second. And don't be disheartened, not for one second. Accept gracefully what comes your way and make the most of it, eventually, all your second options and backups will pave your way to the path that leads towards your dreams, the real high ones, not the believable and easy ones. 

Oh but all of this doesn't come automatically, you have to work, with whatever you have and whatever you can get, towards what you want. Whatever little you get, make the most out of it. I know I am being condescending, but that's how it works, only if you constantly move. Only if on days you cant get up, you will yourself to get up, dress up, and show up. It's all in the will.

It's will that pushes a bulky person so that he dances nimbly. It's will that pushes an injured athlete to finish the race. It's will that gets you out of addiction. It's will power and your ability to dream which will take you places. Just trust me on this one. ;)

Monday, 7 March 2016

The Unsung Heros

So, I fell sick recently, and had to go to a doctor. It was the usual drill. Get an appointment, go at the designated time, yet end up waiting an hour or so, then the doctor gives you a look and diagnoses you and you are out. For all the build up there is, this kind of comes like an anticlimax. You aren't satisfied. You feel there should be more one to one time with the doctor. 

I call up my doctor saying the medicine isn't working, because well, it has been 4 hours since I took it and I haven't healed. Many times I also call up my doctor because I have forgotten the doses or the medicine. My doctor answers all my queries very patiently, whatever time of the day be it. But that's the part of their job description isn't it?

What if I told you there is a flip side to this. What if I told you, that doctors are actually humans too. They fall sick like everyone else. They love shopping and watching movies. They love to go for holidays. And yes, they also get tired. But doctors never complain of not having a 9 to 5 job description, that is because they know what a commitment of saving life really means.

I come from a family of doctors and everyday I see, the sacrifices all the doctors in my family make, to retain their commitment to their profession. My mother is in a private practice, and she was working when she went into labor when I was about to come into the world. And a week later, she was back to work. She did not get a maternity leave, because she had committed to cure other babies of sickness. And I couldn't be more proud of her.

My dad missed so many annual functions and PTA meetings because of emergency operations which cropped up. And I couldn't respect him more. 
He would stay up half the night operating on some head injury case, and would still wake up at 6:30 a.m. to drop me to school.

My mom would make me go to sleep and finish my project work, then would again be woken at night to resuscitate a newborn baby and yet she would wake up before me and pack my lunch.

Even today, the only calls allowed on the dining table are those from patients. Sometimes I get irritated and ask them to shut their cell phones. And they say, it is our duty to save these people, and while not all of them are dire, to everyone their family is precious and people tend to panic when they are at risk, we are their only hope and support. 

How do you argue with that? 

What I am saying here I guess is, that doctors sacrifice a lot, to do what they do. They work more than any normal human being can and yet they are patient and courteous and supportive towards all their patients. I have seen so many cases where people abuse doctors for long waiting times or unavailabilities. In fact, one person used abusive language with my mom for having to go for one of our school events. He said, "If you wanted a personal life, why did you become a doctor?"

There are so may people who fight for fees or preference while in queue, and so many who use foul language with doctors. So many who try to commercialize the noble profession and so many who try to buy health with money.

To all those people, Doctors are humans too. They are also someone's mother and father, someone's son and daughter, someone's sister and brother, someone's husband or wife. If they charge you something for their services, it is not for greed of money, but for their own sustenance, it is just like you having a job for sustenance. If they have a huge queue, I guarantee you that they are more tired than you and yet patient, because they know that someone has to be more selfless. If sometimes they are unavailable, it is because they are trying to have a semblance of normal life with their beloved family and friends. Because for each hour they spend like a normal human, they give 20 being a superhuman. And they don't even expect anything in return, they don't even expect a thank you, they don't even expect you to understand what they are doing for you. They just want to do the best they can, in the time they have.

 They want you to live happily and healthily, and never fall sick again.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Indian classical art forms: because they aren't uncool, just misunderstood

I recently attended a classical dance performance. It was after a really really long time, and I went reluctantly because it was cold. But I had to go, one of my closest friends had asked me to come with her, and I just couldn't refuse, you know. Boy! Was I thankful I went.

Rama Vaidyanathan performing one of her dances

That night, sitting in audience of the cold open stage, I fell in love. I fell in love all over again. I was reminded of what was that thing which drew me towards it initially. Dance for me, is like a drug. And after a really long time, I felt that high. It's a high like no other, it's a high where you forget everything else, it's you, your dance and the music. Now I don't do the usual bollywood stuff, I am no good at that, I am hardcore classical, but then that's my genre. The enchantment is strong, and the intoxication is long.

But what I noticed there, the only sad part, was the audience. Or the lack of it, I should say. I have come to realise this of late, that people are just unaware of the beauty that classical is. I don't say that other dance forms are bad. All dance is meditation for the dancer and treat for the eyes. What I do say is that classical is slowly becoming a forgotten dance genre. Bollywood movies promote western music and lyrics, and to the uneducated, catchy music is all that matters. People want relatable stuff, where they can sing and dance along. They don't want stuff that asks them to sit and watch, to absorb and explore in their minds, people want familiar. But then that goes for every single thing in life. We want and like things which seem familiar to us.

What if, you explored something new? what if you sat and watched? what if, we paid attention to what is really happening on stage?

Maybe, just maybe then you might be able to see something incredible. Maybe you will see the grace of every hand movement. Maybe you we see the intricacies of expressions portrayed by the dancer. Maybe you will notice the power of the leg movements. Maybe you will see the ease and expertise with which the dancer moves. Maybe you will understand how music and dance complement each other and maybe you will realise how beautifully they become one. Dance is music, music is dance. Expression is dance, mudra is dance. The sharp eye movements are dance. The lights are dance, the backdrop is dance. The stage is dance, the atmosphere is dance. The dancer is just the medium. Everything becomes dance once you really look. It becomes divine, and God becomes dance.

Yeah, I know all this sound very romantically painted, but classical dance is the most mathematically constructed of all the dances, with all beats complementing each other. All instruments playing in alignments which bring out the best of each instrument, while never overshadowing the other. How each time of the day has a specific kind of music and a specific kind of dance. How each season of the year has it's own set of chords. It wasn't magic that when Tansen sang Deepak raag at court the atmosphere became so hot that he was about to die of heat exposure, so much so that he had complementary singers singing Miya Malhar to bring about rain and save his life. It was science. The science of frequencies and vibrations.

At the time when we are embracing western culture blindly, we tend to overlook the fact that we have a few gemstones of our own. Classical music and dance is one such gem. It is in no way lesser than the dances popular in the west. While they have their charm, classical too has it's grace. Maybe we need to see where we are going with this westernization thing. Maybe we should remember our own heritage. Maybe we shouldn't laugh and downplay classical, but treat it as our own, treat it as we would other dances.

Classical is in a very bad shape today. everyone wants to play guitar, nobody want to play the veena. Because it takes longer to learn the veena. But the harder the path is, the greater the reward is. If you know classical, you can venture into any other genre. There is a reason we don't get singers like Rajan and Sajan Mishra, or Shankar Mahadevan or Sonu Nigam, or Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle today.

Outside India, people are doing special trainings to learn Indian classical art forms. When they realise how rich and plentiful our forms are, why do we stay blind to it? Why do we shun everything desi? Maybe, this year, let us all try to love our heritage and culture a little bit more, be more accepting towards what we have, instead of finding faults with it. Let's try to understand classical and give it a chance. Let's all be a little bit nicer to what is our own.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Don't let go of your Angels

All of us are running, everyday, from morning to night. Running after something, or in some cases, after someone :P. While the second might not be a healthy practice, the first definitely is, since it gives an essence to our life, a purpose, a path.

While on this path, we tend to meet people, good people, bad people and amazing people also, horrible people. To move forward smoothly, we need to take care of all these people, adjust them into various roles which they play to make our life complete. Everyone has their own very specific role in our life, big or small, positive or negative. Then there are those people, who are the constant presence, the people who make up the support system I talked about in the last post. These people are the ones who take care of us, while we take care of all the others in our life. What we sometimes forget is that these rocks of our life, need to be taken care of too. They need and deserve our attention. And most often it is these people, who are ignored by us, forgotten because they are taken for granted.

Sure sometimes we don't like certain qualities they possess, they might be boring, or always wallowing, or irritable or judgemental or any other quality which you might consider a kill-joy. But they stand by you always, however irritating you might be to them. These people shield you from all things bad, they help make your life worth living. They kick bad influences out of your life and knock sense into you when you start going wild. They keep you feet on the ground so that you can keep your head in the clouds. They are your own personal angels, If there is a God (and I strongly believe there is) he sent these people as our own royal guard. And in just the same way, you are theirs, because in life, there are no one-way streets.

The biggest mistake we can do is, not give these people there due, because after a limit of ignorance by us, they might just decide to leave us to our fate, and if such a person is lost once, they are rarely gained back.

I never realised I was doing this very same mistake, till I got a taste of my own medicine. There is this person, who was with me during my most difficult times, and I started taking her for granted, when I finally realised what I had been doing, I knew no amount of words would be enough for an apology, still that is all I can do, and hope that it's not too late to make amends. Because when you do find out who your angels are, you should never let them go. 

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Who Show Me My Rainbows

Navratri started two days ago, it is an Indian festival where we get idols of goddess durga and perform pooja and be all religious. It is a festival which leads up to Dussehra, a symbol of good winning over evil.

Anyway, this is not what I really want to talk about, and as it is, I am not an expert on festivals either. So, I saw the procession when the idol was being brought to where it was going to be kept for the next nine days. It was in a big truck kind of thing, I don't know what it's called. From the distance I could see, a beautiful idol, richly dressed and smiling all around. Standing tall amidst the procession even with all the lights flashing. I was awed by the majesty, the beauty, the power. I stood there entranced, unable to take my eyes off of her. All the while, the truck kept coming closer and closer. When it was right in front of me, I noticed two people, one on the side and one at the back, holding the idol steady, the jerky movement of the truck was making the idol oscillate violently and these two people were standing there precariously maintaining there own balance and supporting the idol.

What I am trying to say here is something which is much more relevant to our own lives.
You can't stand tall alone.
When you wish to do something big, or for that matter when you wish to do anything small also, you need support, you need people you can lean on, people you can trust, people who stick around with you. You need people who are willing to bend over backwards to help you, to support you. You would think, "yeah! who is going to do that for me? As if there are people in this world you can trust".
My response would be, well, look around. Do you see your family? In the fringes of your life somewhere, your family is always present. Your mom, your dad, your significant other, your siblings. You may have a thousand fights with them, you may not get along a lot, one or the other or all of them hurt you or ditched you sometime,but when one ditched you, the other had your back. They may not always be present, they may not always treat you right, but hey, they are your go-to people. They will stand by you when all else fails. Not all of them, not all the time. But at least some of them, some of the time. All of this can be applied to friends too, if you are lucky enough to find good ones.

You know why it is difficult to find good friends? Because the people can't accept one another as they are, they wish to look for something perfect, I think that's the reason marriages so often fail. Accepting people as they are, is the key to lasting bonds, where you don't judge, you just love, not the imperfections, but the tiny little perfections in a person.

So, coming back, you need to recognise the group of people who are supporting you in your jerky truck, and you need to value them. Value them and support them right back. Because I don't think you would want your support system to become sloppy.

People will say, I don't need anybody, I can do things all on my own. They couldn't be more wrong. I spent a lot of time trying to do just that. Couldn't have been more horrible a failure. And then it struck me, while I proclaimed that I was doing everything on my own, it couldn't have been any bigger a lie. Because I had my family right beside me, and I didn't even consider them people! They were my support, and I didn't recognise it, I won't be able to take a single step without my support. Because it is easy to say I can manage on my own when things are going good or even okay, it's when the waters are troubled that you can't manage on your own, when you need you support.

To reach the top of the pyramid, you need someone to be the base, you need your equipment, you need your stabilizers. Alone, you are just a drop of water, with others, you can fill up a bottle (come on, no one has a support system as big as an ocean :P )

You need help, you always will, you just need to find out who the people are who are those pillars who hold your roof, who are the shoulders carrying you to a pedestal, who are the prisms giving you the rainbows.