My Tale of Ramayana

My family guru was very dear to me. I grew up with good memories of going to the ashram and feeling positive vibrations set in, listening to stories of Krishna and Rama from him, having sweets shoved into my hands, sitting near him as he mediated and seeing his face light up with a real awe inspiring beam, hearing his belly juggling roars of laughter…He was family, someone who was always around to nudge us into the right direction, listen to our out pour and comfort us like no one else. Clichéd as it might sound, he was the rock we all leaned on.

When ama was pregnant with me, my folks were convinced I would be a boy (so GLAD they were wrong. Why anyone would want a boy, I can’t imagine!). They decided to name me Karthik. And when I was born, seeing that I was missing a few appendages that deemed me a boy, they decided on Karthika and took me to the ashram and handed me over to my guru for the naming ceremony. He took me inside the Rama mandap (The ashram is a Rama temple). He sat with me on his lap and maybe Sita looked at me and decided I would be her little girl and he came out and said I was named Mythily (which is Sita’s name as she was princess of Mithila). My sister was named by him; Sharika which is the name of the sound vibration when Rama breaks the bow and also Sita’s Parrot which is supposed to have recited the Ramayana to Valmiki.

So as a family, we were steeped in Ramayana without even realizing it. My darling family guru has since then crossed over to the great beyond. But he left me with something, a love for the Ramayana and all the Indian epics and mythology. He gave me ‘The Prince of Ayodhya’ by Ashok Banker and started me on this obsessive love for his writing. I am a huge fan of books and love to read. Of all the books I have read, this series is easily one of the best written set of books I have ever laid my hands on. The stories and weaved with such creativity, magic and so much life is brought into the story of Ramayana that it leaves one astounded. I have read the 6 books countless of times and have just ordered the 7th book; Vengeance of Ravana and am waiting to order ‘Sons of sita’ next month. I have started so many people on this series and all of them have fallen in love with it. How can one not with a writer who seems to have the blessing of Valmiki himself. Keep going Ashok, love love what you are doing and I am waiting with bated breath to see what you will do next. Thank you namanama for starting me on this journey. You are missed much.

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Material Girl

I see people frowning down on those who love material things all the time. It is ok if you have love for the ‘moral’ things and ‘art’ and the high-brow pseudo must-love things. But love to buy clothes, things for the house and other stuff that makes everyone happy (even the fake frowners) and you are ‘materialistic’.

I am not a big shopper. I need to be really sure that I like something before I venture out to buy it. But I love good things. Seeing a book shelf full of books, a shelf full of DVD, A closet full of clothes, a rack filled with shoes, a fridge full of chocolates, curios and paintings around the house all make me really happy. Now if I am materialistic, I take that in a good way. Let me explain why.

The first reason would be that it gives me a really good feeling from deep inside that I am at a place where I can buy all this. I have worked hard and I am spending my own money. There is no bigger kick than lying down and looking around your apartment (even if it is small!) and knowing that you own everything there. It is all yours! It gives me a sense of achievement.

The other reason is this. Things on their own may not mean much; a toaster, a tea mug, a vase. These are just things people say. But are they? I look at the sandwich maker and I remember all the late night sandwiches I have made on it with Sharika, the giggling, and the late night gossiping and how happy I felt then. I look at my saucepan and remember my mom making French toasts on it. The look on her face, the sheer love I see on her face every time she looks at us. I look at my shoes and remember how Nemo and Memoll used to fit in it when they were small, how cute and cuddly they looked and it brings a lump to my throat. I look at my tea cup and remember my dad’s endless cups of teas and the talks over the pantry table. I look at the vase and remember all the flowers my friends have got me when I was low or doing well. These are not things. They are all witnesses to your life. It isn’t just people who stand by you and witness your life unfolding, it is also things.All your emotions, memories, incidents; they represent how you lived. Individually they are things and put them together and see your life unfurling in front of you. Materialistic? I sure am.

This is My Religion

Music is like religion. It is a personal choice, something that connects with your soul and makes you feel better inside. It puts things into perspective, washes a tide of emotions over you, seems to speak directly to you, putting into words what you have always thought were your ideas and take on things.

I grew up listening to my dad sing and play his guitar. The songs that reverberated around the house were The Beatles, Elvis, Neil Diamond and all the old awesome retro music that I am still in love with. Soon my personal favorites crept in and Aretha Franklin, GNR, Michael Jackson, BRYAN ADAMS, The Doors, Frey, Madonna and so many more artists that I love crooned me to sleep.

But like religion, music sees turbulence too. People fighting about it, arguing about what is good and what is not, criticizing others tastes; it makes no sense to me at all. How can one fight over personal choices and beliefs? What I like and choose to listen to is my own decision. How does it make sense for someone else to have an opinion about if it is the right decision or not? I love love Bryan Adams. I think he is wonderful. And suddenly these other people who listened to him like till yesterday decides today that he isn’t ‘cool’ just because the rest of the herd thinks so too. Completely immature and childish in my opinion. If your decisions and choices are going to be based on what the ‘herd’ thinks, then maybe the finger you are pointing out at others should be turned around.

So my say on all this is be yourselves. And that is the coolest way to be. Listen to what ever lifts you up and makes the trials of the day feel lighter on your shoulders.  To whatever brings a smile to your lips and makes you want to hum along and maybe even get up and dance. And that is just what I am doing right now. And watching the breathtaking eclipse. Music and eclipse, how many more wonders can my day bring? Thank you to that power up there who has blessed me with all this.

It’s a wonderful life

I have always heard about ‘It’s a wonderful life’; the all time favorite holiday movie. I have never watched it before. But last night I finally did and I am glad for it. I know a lot of people who don’t enjoy old movies that have no dazzling special effects and mind blowing animations. But movies today really miss out on that emotional chord that old movies still manage to strike. Movies of today are so focused on the visuals and either straying as far away from reality as possible or sticking so close to it that it seems too much to digest. In the process they miss out on the fact that you don’t have to have the best visuals, you don’t have to have graphic reality; but you can have a story that we all relate to and you have something special. Romance – that is what movies today miss. Not the romance that comes just between a man and a woman (or a woman and a woman or a man and a man, hey I have no prejudices), but romance in terms of how you look at life and weave its spell all over a story. Watch Roman Holiday, My fair lady, sound of music, to kill a mocking bird, Casablanca and a hoard of other movies and you will know what I am talking about.

To come back to ‘It’s a wonderful life’; I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved the part where he says he will lasso the moon for her and the part where they are singing silly songs. I loved every bit of it. I went to sleep thinking about the movie. The movie is essentially about making a man realize his worth; it talks about how your life is measured not by how you see yourself, but more on how others see you. How much difference you make to others lives and how their worlds would be different if not for you.

As I was dozing, I wondered about what difference I made. My folks would still have my sister so I didn’t make much difference there. Sharika would be fine too. My family would still function without me. My friends would have their own lives with or without me. I haven’t saved anyone’s life, wrought changes in a community, in short, done nothing spectacular to speak of. So what is my worth?

Suddenly I felt my 2 little babies cuddling up to me on either side and found myself smiling into the dark. I did save 2 lives and they were on either side. Nemo and Memoll wouldn’t have made it without me. And I wouldn’t have been me without them. And that’s when it struck me. It isn’t about a heroic act or an instance of great tribute that deems your worth. It is how many times you have made someone think of you with love, made someone smile into the dark. Sure, my folks, my sister, my friends would all have still been able to live without me. But in small ways, I have made their lives happier. I have brought joy and smile and fun into their lives and they are who they are, in some small way, because of me. I have gathered love that has come my way out of no obligation, no need; in spite of hurt caused, irritation, anger and frustration. I have been loved in spite and because of everything I have done. And I have loved back with all my heart. And if that doesn’t make life worth living and completely wonderful, I don’t know what does. All of you out there, who have made me what I am, thank you. I love you all. Happy New Year all of you.