Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Blessing of Sunsets

I find something oddly comforting in the beauty of sunsets. The light of the sky transforming into swirls of deep red, magenta and violet, the fury of the sun dimming into a intense, yet soft orange and the slow creeping of black to engulf the world.

The message i receive as the sky transforms from a splash of vibrant colours to darkness is that no matter how your day has been - it's now time to rest. To take a deep breath & pause. To move from a frenzy to stillness. To find a sense of peace within.

And it is so heartening to see that no matter how my day has been, the beauty and peace of the sunset tells me that all's right with my world!

(Picture: Evening @ Banwasi with friends)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The legend of the Worry Dolls

The Worry Dolls is a beautiful legend from Guatemala that i first heard when my sister gifted me these dolls as i was returning home after my first visit to her home in Seattle. I have used them often and find great healing potential in this ritual.

Two years later, i decided Nia, now all of 4, was ready for her own set of Worry Dolls. Again my sister came to the rescue (sometimes i feel she is my real-life worry doll!) and sent me a set.

That night Nia was thrilled. She absolutely insisted that i too use my worry dolls that night. And both our rituals were so strinkingly different; here's a peek:

nia: what are your dolls' names mamma?
me: huh? ok here's my doll #1, #2 and #3.

nia: MAMMA! greet them nicely!
me: nice to have you here yaaaaaaawn!
nia: hi daya and baigo. daya thank you for taking care of your younger sister baigo. now both of you have to take care of me. this is my room, my pillow, my sheet. see around carefully - this will be your home now.

Then there is some whispering going on between nia and her worry dolls.

nia: ok mamma you go first
me: worry dolls please take care of my worry .....
nia: ok now my turn. Daya since you are bigger, i will give you a big worry. You make sure that i get only good dreams all through the night. And Baigo, you make sure that when i get up i remember all the good dreams.
me: ok nia time to sleep, get the dolls under your pillow.

nia: mamma one last thing - daya, baigo, if you feel thirsty in the middle of the night, let me know. I have some water with me.

lights off; blissful silence for all of 60 seconds.

nia: mamma put on the light - one last thing....whisper whisper whisper

lights off; again 60 seconds of snoozing off, when....

nia: mamma pleeeeeeeeeeeease put on the light - i promise one last thing. get me a napkin, they are cold and need a sheet

me: NIA!

nia: i said please - you cannot shout at me!

me: sigh!

Napkin on, lights off, another uneventful minute passes by...

nia: mamma i promise one really really last thing

me: one more time the lights come on, i am sending u to Guatemala!

nia: (completely ignoring my threat) Daya, Baigo, one last thing - please don't worry too much!


my dear worry dolls, the gods in heaven, mother universe and whoever is listening - take care of this child so that she never ever loses this magical adorable spirit! And help me that i never stop to listen...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Farewell & remember...

Recently a school next door hosted a farewell party for the Std X class – a ritual we see in most schools in India. It had the usual trappings of any such event – sentimental songs from Hindi movies, an adapted version of Auld Lang Syne, and of course faculty speeches to the outgoing batch. The sounds drifting from the microphones got me thinking about my own farewell party almost two decades ago! Sadly, there isn’t much I can recall except what I wore and a simple ritual of passing a lit candle to our juniors.

Though I loved school and had my share of achievements, I am more proud of what I achieved post-school both in terms of connecting with people and also stretching my own limits. I do wish school had equipped me a little better to deal with the world and my life. So here’s my wish list of some of the things they could have told me on the night of our farewell party:

- Life is difficult and you are on your own!

- The most precious gift from your school years are your friends. Never again will you get such a long time in one place to nurture friendships. So always stay in touch with your school friends.

- We taught you language in school not so you can score marks in exams but more so that you have the ability to speak up when required.

- You probably didn’t make it to any sports team because the Physical Ed. teacher didn't know how to handle a large group. Find opportunities to play and enjoy a sport - you will learn a lot more than the game itself.

- The labels you've earned in school are not part of your identity for life. You shed them when you step out of school. And life will present you plenty of opportunities to create new labels for yourself.

- It is not important what your teachers thought of you. What you believe about yourself will shape your destiny.

- Failure is great because it will push you to stretch yourself and set you free to follow your dreams

- We punished you in school not because what you did was wrong but because we as adults could not handle what was happening and needed to regain our sense of control!

- Knowledge that you gain from books will be insignificant compared to the knowledge you gain from your experiences. You will pay a high price for it but it will be knowledge well earned.

- The world is filled with limitless opportunities and there is a space under the sun for everyone to achieve something.

- Competition is real but it will take you only to a particular level. After that, it is how you are willing to do better than what you done today

- Don't channel your efforts to build skills for a specific profession - instead channel your efforts in exploring your skills and then see which profession fits in for you.

And finally
- working with children can be very satisfying!

Maybe my teachers thought all this and tried telling me in their own ways, maybe i was not ready to receive the messages then and had to discover it in my own ways. In any case, it might be interesting to go back and listen to what they are telling the girls now. And maybe request my school principal to allow me to share my two-bits with the outgoing batch. I guess i owe this much to my school :)!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Special Friends and Special Me!

There is this amazing circle of women that i am a part of - four living in Bangalore and one in Chennai. We got together almost three years back to form a team that would facilitate a specific training program. We have developed deep personal connections with each other, through the work we did with each other and with the groups we met. And we keep meeting in-between as well :). Women at my back is how i see them in my life - truly grateful to the universe for connecting me with each of them.

i was recently with a couple of them last week, when i realized that i don't know their birthdays. i know only one woman's and i have always forgotten it almost every year since I have been friends with her! it seemed a little strange not to know it despite having been together for almost three years now.

And then i realized that we have never celebrated birthdays together. Instead, just by chance and without any pre-planning we have celebrated each time we met. Invariably one of us would have gifts for everyone. It doesn’t matter what day or why or after how long we are meeting. Each of our meetings is preceded by a little exchange of gifts. Either picked up from places where we might have travelled with our families, or simply while walking down the streets of our own city. I have a treasure chest holding all the gifts - reminding me of these special connections we share and more importantly reminding me how special i am. Incense cones, key chain from Romania, a beautiful diary with handmade pages, a bamboo clip from Shillong, flavoured teas, a t-shirt from Hawaii, worry dolls, hand cream from Bath & Body works, a compact shopping bag to fight plastic, a bright red tea light holder, a tribal good luck charm, lavender oil......the list goes on!

I guess, this is my circle of women where we don't celebrate occasions - we celebrate people.