Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Back from Hampi

I am finding myself wanting more and more to look at creative ways of self expression and one of them has been poetry. Encouraged by a friend to do more of it, here's what emerged after a three day lovely break @ Hampi with family & friends.

Stories from Hampi
If only these rocks could speak
What stories would they choose to tell?
Of the many events they bore silent witness to
Events that even history has dispelled

Would they choose to talk of brothers
Vali and Sughriva locked in a fight for life
Or of the devoted Laxmana following Rama
As he crossed these lands in search of his wife

Or perhaps the tale would be of sisters
Who for insulting these very lands,
Were cursed to become the Akka – Tangi Betta
Frozen in eternal rest, they now stand!

Maybe the folklore of the chieftains Hukka and Bukka
Is what the rocks might want to share
Who made this very land their kingdom
On sighting the hound being chased by the hare.

Or maybe history would take precedence over myths
Stories of Krishnadevaraya, the King
His bravery, his religious tolerance , love for poetry
Songs in his praise the rocks would sing!

Would they, then,  swell up with pride
As they begin to share the many forms
Of prosperity that radiated in this kingdom
In its bazaars, its streets, its religious icons

And then would they start to mourn
The fall of this prosperous, mighty empire
Ruthlessly plundered by the Sultanate’s men
Then left to burn for months in the fire.

Ah! Those tales of religious intolerance,
Of greed, that these rocks could tell -
Even in today’s times, several centuries later
Those stories would still ring a bell

But the rocks know that history repeats
That man from his mistakes learns less and less
So these rocks withhold their stories, their wisdom
And continue to stand in mute witness.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

100 kilometres | team of 4 | 48 hours

Thats the Oxfam trailwalker– an event I participated in early this year. An event where a team of 6 of us friends (4 walkers and 2 as support team) participated under the name Terra Trots.  The amazing statistics of this first of its kind event organized by Oxfam in India:
No of teams registered – 80
No of 4-member teams who completed- 41
% of individuals who completed (not as intact teams) close to 85%
The data that was highlighted at the finish point was obviously around the time records that these amazingly persistent  teams had accomplished:
Fastest all men’s team (Confident flying feet) –20 hours 36 minutes
Fastest veteran team  (Protek) – 24 hours 16 minutes
Fastest mixed team  (March of the Penguins) –  28 hours 28 minutes                    
Fastest Women’s team  (Terra Trots) – 44 hours 36 minutes

We got our name up on that chart despite being among the possibly last 10% of the participants as far as speed goes was only because we were the only all women’s team among those registered that had completed the entire walk as a full team of 4. Back then, when we saw this table we laughed.
It didn’t seem as funny to me anymore when my team received an invite to the Oxfam awards night. I mean hadn’t ANYONE noticed the time we took? And there was this loud judging voice that said, “ NO WAY, I cannot go for this event. For one – I certainly don’t want to be the butt of sexist jokes!”
But Terra Trots did attend that event early today. Where did that shift happen for me?
Honestly, from the way I started when I first decided to participate in this event, that I would complete the walk seemed an unachievable goal even an hour before the walk (and of course several times during the walk itself). But even today, months after the event, the energetic high I feel when I think of having actually completed it and the warmth I feel listening to what it meant to my team members – now THAT is worth celebrating. I know that something deep within shifted for each one of us – as we were preparing and planning for the walk, as we walked and as we met a couple of times after the event to celebrate as a team.
So showing up today for me was truly to celebrate the spirit that Terra Trots carried through the event and after – the spirit that in some ways still sneaks up in what we feel about ourselves, and the various roles we hold in our personal and professional spaces.
Also, showing up today was for me was to reinforce to myself that while mainstream definitions of success have their own value, can we all also celebrate those achievements that do not fit the mainstream measuring scales? The way we pushed our own self-limiting beliefs through the preparation and the event, the courage with which we challenged the strength of friendships within the team as we put it through this kind of endurance, the humility with which we accepted different ways of being and giving in a team – all these were our achievements, immeasurable by any scales, and truly worth celebrating.
And finally showing up today was for me to remind myself – that no matter what the end goal is – challenging self-limiting beliefs, strengthening relationships, dealing with judgements – both inside and outside, fighting against poverty or walking 100 kilometres in 48 hours – it all comes down to taking one step at a time and staying with it.
So here’s to you Terra Trots – Navi, Anjana, Priya, Suja & Shashi for this amazing, life changing adventure!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Paying attention....

Yesterday I spent a large part of my time in a meeting where I truly had no “real” role to play. A project with multiple stakeholders where I was done with my part. But the other stakeholders seemed to be in some deadlock and I was called in by one of them – why I am still not sure. As I tried to make sense of the agenda and implicit expectations, I felt that the only real reason i was there was because someone had a need to be listened to. When that listening was not happening with one of the stakeholders, he actually hoped I would do the part – so there i was. And I listened. I am not even sure how much that listening will help – but yes, I did what seemed to be the only thing to do.

While I was listening, the thing that struck me is how much of attention we pay to the stuff that does not work out as we hoped it would. The things that go wrong. The things that need to be “fixed”. Sadly, all this attention happens at the cost of paying attention to things that actually worked or are going right. Things, which if paid complete attention to, would certainly have the potential to fix the larger problem.

With all this in my mind, I stumbled upon this Ted Talk by Julia Bacha – amazing coincidence (as all coincidences are!). While she speaks about paying attention to non-violence in a larger global context, it got me thinking about what are some of the things that I pay attention to - as a friend, a mother, a wife, a professional, a citizen on the road. How many times do things that are going all wrong or not meeting my expectations or demanding more that I can give take up my mind space? People around me not living upto my expectations of them – it could be my family, my colleagues, my friends, the security at my gate or even the car driver on the road. And as I nurture all these incidents and experiences with my attention, I know it leaves that much less time for all the things that are truly wonderful, that energise me, that are working out even beyond my own expectations!

Also, inside of myself, what are some of the things I pay attention to? How many conversations have I had just in the last week bemoaning to everyone who cares to listen about my thyroid condition? Or how the noise levels at work are completely driving me up the wall! Or even highlighting how little time I spend on myself? Oh the time i spent delving on anger, disappointment, a sense of inadequacy. And at the asme time, how i miss paying attention to all the wonderful blessings, the things that are working just fine, the moments that give me energy, love, understanding and just pure joy!

The questions that I therefore ask of myself: can I spend a little more time telling the husband of all the thoughtful little things he does around the house rather than the things i feel he does not do? Or let the little one know how much I enjoy her humming to herself more than reminding her to speak softly to mamma! And reach out to commend that teacher sitting in the sandpit fully present to the child instead of complaining of the noise during playtime? Also loving my body more for all the times it wakes up feeling energised, healthy and hopeful instead of feeling frustrated about why it won’t fit into those jeans I bought last year! Finally paying less attention to moments I feel small or inadequate to the times I feel more whole and complete and filled with life!

And I know this to be true - when I pay attention to all these within myself, and when I highlight these in my relationships and other spaces, it will automatically put the things that seem all wrong in the right perspective!