Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Spiritual Journey

I'm a Hindu but I have to admit if you were to ask me to explain Hinduism in detail, I would get stuck after a few sentences. My knowledge in the subject is limited, and I believe this is the same with almost all Indian youth. Then again, I am not generalizing. There will be many out there who might be knowing the Ramayana or the Mahabharata inside out. Whereas yours truly only learned very recently that the Hanuman Chalisa is named as such because it has 40 verses ('chalis' verses).

Last week had me visiting temples. I'm not someone who visits sacred places regularly, but on an impulse I decided to visit a number of them... and even attended few classes by a spiritual teacher. I wasn't there for demanding anything, but I got what I was looking for -- a peace of mind and a feeling that someone is out there to protect me, someone who really cares. I had stopped interacting with God a few years back when I didn't get what I truly wanted. I see the same happening with others around - some stop praying when they lose a loved one, some stop praying when they fall sick, others stop praying when they feel they are being made to suffer too much in life. These are the times when you have to pray the most, because the strength it gives you cannot be described in words. You have to try it to believe it. I have resumed praying again of course but now I wonder why on earth did I stop it in the first place.

During this journey last week, I served food for my spiritual teachers at an ashram, I cleaned up after their meals (using cow dung and water -- in Hinduism, that's how a place is "cleansed", you can get more info regarding this on Google), I learned some prayers, got their blessings -- and finally, felt happy. An amusing thing was that the teacher asked me "Will you be able to clean this place up using cow dung?". I had told him I was brought up in the Middle East and I won't blame him for thinking that I might be just another stuck-up NRI who was a non-believer. It surprised him no end when I took a handful of it and just spread it all over the floor without batting an eyelid. Some might say all this is just superstition, but given a chance I would do this service all over again for that feeling of content it brings to me. Nowadays my days feel incomplete without chanting the Hanuman Chalisa, the Shiv Sandhya Namam, or Hari Bhajanam. I spend half an hour meditating everyday and it's the best thing to do if you feel stressed out quite often!

I haven't yet told anyone about this journey because at this modern day and age, I'm not sure if anyone would understand. Anything people haven't encountered first-hand or don't have any knowledge about is termed as a "superstition". The non-religious people will guffaw at all this, but I seriously don't care. These prayers and services to God give me what I'm looking for - a peace of mind and a feeling of protection. And if you take that step towards God, you will feel the same way too.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Dark Side Of The Critical Virgo

Virgo is the only astrological sign represented by a woman. This woman is considered as someone creative, delicate and intelligent but also possessing spinsterish qualities like being a strict disciplinarian with a squeamish need to be prim and proper all the time. I'm a Virgo and at times it makes me think if a Virgo can get well with anyone else other than a Virgo. We can be really harsh (see I am ready to acknowledge even the negative traits of my astrological sign) but practical and straightforward. We are also meticulous and expect everyone around us to give attention to the minute details in life like how we do. If they don't, we feel annoyed!

At times Virgos feel that no one can work as hard as they do when it comes to anything. The one thing I learnt over the past month is that I cannot delegate my task to anyone! Take for example, my work online. I had a truckload of stuff to do last month and there came a point when I felt I needed to get some help. I asked for some assistance, I got it, but I wasn't satisfied. I'm a sort of person who makes it a point to do more than what she promises. Action speaks louder than words for me. I cannot rest in peace until I get my tasks done. Tasks with a deadline of two weeks will be completed in a week. Tasks with a deadline of one week will be completed in a day. It's a very strenuous way of working but I cannot function in any other way. After a trial period of "helpers", I decided it would be best if I continued doing the work myself. This is not exactly a good quality. In order to achieve perfect results in any business, (and to achieve a peace of mind) you need to delegate your tasks! But I'm a Virgo. You can't blame me. I seriously wonder if there's any Virgo businessman out there who gladly delegates his works to others, relaxing in peace whilst his employees churned out "average" stuff. If I knew any better, they all might be chewing their nails off wondering if their workers are keeping their strict instructions in mind. If you see a frustrated, angry Virgo now you know why. Virgos do not make good leaders because they tend to worry a lot and hate things which are uncertain (which is what business is all about).

Another annoying habit of a Virgo is his/her need to be perfect all the time. Rest assured, by the end of this post - I must have checked and re-checked the whole post for spelling mistakes or unwanted white space. If you have noticed, all my posts are aligned to "justify full" -- because I don't like the "disorderliness" of other alignments. Because of this need to be perfect, we tend to waste a LOT of time. Everyday chores like cooking, cleaning, washing leave us dead tired by the end of the day because when we cook we try to make it as perfect as possible, when we clean we try to scrub and scrub till that tiny little (almost invisible) speck of dirt gets out, when we wash we get annoyed when a shirt does not get sparkly clean -- and then we end up repeating the whole thing until we are satisfied. Not good? I'm a typical Virgo after all. This is the time when someone should calm us down and say "You are not perfect but it's OKAY! You are human!"

Virgos are known for their critical and harsh behavior. But not many people know that they are very harsh to themselves too! I remember the number of times I have told myself - "Damn! You could have done better!" or "Maybe there's something wrong with me!". But rest assured, the only person who can get me down is ME. Since Virgos are so hard on themselves, we don't take kindly to crictism. I mean, hellloooo we are so harsh on ourselves already, now all we need is other people to be mean to us?

It takes a lot of courage to write down all your negative traits. Did you know that writing down and scrutinizing your own mistakes can make you understand yourself in a better way? I mean, it's so very easy to ignore our own shortcomings and focus on someone else's mistake -- anyone can do that! But I guess true courage is when you are aware of your own weaknesses and you are able to blurt them out understanding that no person is perfect and that you, like everyone else, have your own traits you are not proud of.

I'm a Virgo to the core and I'm aware of my weaknesses and shortcomings.

It's your turn now! Are you true to your astrological sign? And.. are you brave enough to confront your own shortcomings?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gandi Or Gundi?

My NRI cousin resides in Australia. Her 17 year old son was mostly brought up there and it comes as no surprise when he gets all aghast when we mention that arranged marriages are still very much common in India. "But what about love?" - he asks. "That will all come slowly slowly. First find a nice, decent Indian girl/boy then rest all follows" - the aunties advise. In fact, whenever he lands in Kerala all the elderly people gang up against him and try their level best to make him understand our culture.

"Don't fall in love with someone out of our religion and caste. What will society think?"

"Don't marry firangis and all! They won't look after you."

"Arranged marriage is best because a parent knows what is best for their child!"

....etc. etc. You get the drift!

From what I know about this 17 year old boy, I don't think he will be able to adjust to the stereoptype that these aunties think are right for any Keralite boy. He has grown up outside, has modern views, has totally different interests (I don't understand a word of what he puts up as his Facebook SM), openly drinks in front of adults, doesn't know Malayalam or Hindi all that well and speaks mostly English at home. How well do you think such a person will be able to adjust to a girl who has been brought up in a village? But but but... Keralite aunties think otherwise!

Anyway, my 17 year old relative (let's call him N), is apparently the only Indian in his group of besties. He takes it upon himself to educate his Australian friends about India and to correct them whenever they make a mistake about any matter related to the place. I was as usual browsing through my Facebook news feed when I came across this -

Australian Friend (AF) - I'm bored of playing XBox !
N - Then get a PS3!
AF - Haha.. you are so smart dude... just like gundi!
N - Hahaha Gundi?
AF - Yeah, Gundi is smart no?
N - Dude! It's Gandi not Gundi!

It took me a while to realise that they were talking about Gandhi. I preferred not to butt in -- wanted N to enjoy his moment of pride when he corrected his friend's mistake. :)

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Best Prayer

Elizabeth Gilbert would advise you with an "Eat, Pray, Love". But when we pray, what do we pray for? Do we ask God to give us everything (chappar phad ke!) or do we ask Him to give us what we badly require? Do we just irritate Him all the time with our never-ending problems, or we just wait, watch and see what He has in store for us? At times I interrogate myself in between prayers. "Should I ask Him to solve this and this problem for me?" "Maybe I shouldn't ask too much. I sound too demanding!". Some might say that you have to ask everything openly -- demand your rights; get your word out there and stuff. That if you don't voice what you want, how will He know?

I remember as a kid, I used to ask God to assist me first-hand whenever I was at a crossroad. Before flipping a coin I used to ask Him - "Ok now... Heads is what I want, so tell me if I will get what I want okay?". Secretly I try to bribe Him - "If you make the coin show Heads up first, I will pray Gayatri Mantra 100 times today!". He didn't somehow like the bribing and I always happened to see the opposite side of the coin. Then I go - "Damn. God is too busy processing other coin flipping matches now. Maybe I should try later' (Aap khatar mein hai... kripaya thode der ke baad try kijiye!). Then I keep flipping the coin till I get "what I want" after which yours truly is a very happy lady. I used to do the same thing while playing minesweeper too. If I get a mine, it means "God threw a bomb at me". If I completed the entire thing it meant - "God is giving a hint that I will get what I want :D". This is how I used to pray back then - with bribes and by using tools to get indirect answers from the almighty. I mean He can't really scream out from heaven in response to my questions (that's so ungodly-like no?), so I might as help Him out by giving some medium through which He can answer. Solitaire, coin flipping, minesweeper, paper chits, dice -- all of these were used to "get an answer". Sometimes I get tempted to try all that again. But considering my success rate with the same, I rather not. I think God has already given His answer when it comes to using such techniques. See, even He doesn't like dirty politics !

Some preach that no matter how much you pray you will only end up with what He thinks is right for you. And I'm a believer of this. Because of this belief, I have always restricted myself from placing too many demands while praying or getting too upset when something doesn't go the way I want it to.

I just came across this prayer by Rabindranath Tagore and I feel it befits a person who thinks the same way I do -- a person who never demands anything in particular, but just strength to deal with everyday problems.

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.

Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.

Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield,
but to my own strength.

Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved,
but hope for the patience to win my freedom.

Grant that I may not be a coward,
feeling Your mercy in my success alone;

But let me find the grasp of Your hand in my failure.”

Eat, Pray, Love, people... and stay happy ! :)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Things Not To Say When A Person Is Sick

What not to say to a person with a cyst (malign OR benign) -

A : Wassup?

Me : I'm so cranky... I feel drugged ! Stupid antibiotics !

A : Why antibiotics?

Me : Cyst na...

A : CYST !!! :O You're dying ? :O :D


Me - .... So you see it's like I wake up with my shirt wet with blood and pus (yes, cysts can be gross) and it's so disgusting and annoying you know...

G - Yeah totally man! I understand your situation! It's like you wake up n you go - "Wow so much ketchup n mayo man !" Yeah totally I understand your situation !


Now look at Y instead. Whenever he sees a slight change in my expression he tilts his head and looks at me with compassionate eyes. Now why can't all guys be so caring? But of course, my little Y is only 1 year old. The other two are grown ups.

Moral of the story - Kids at times are more understanding and mature than adults. Period.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Almost Back!

Well.. I read a couple of my favorite blogs recently which forced me to come out of hibernation. That need to blog again -- if you are an ardent blogger, you would know the feeling! But I felt if I were to blog now, I wouldn't have anything interesting to say other than how irritating my Cyst has become or how cranky the antibiotics make me feel nowadays. Yup, I have bored the death out of few people already talking about the lump and the drug -- but that's just how "happening" my life is at the moment. So instead of indulging in self-pity, I decided to spice up my blog a lil. It has been bland for a long time now, hence I decided to go Red! Like it? No? Go away! :(

I removed some widgets too, and ummm... "awards" which were taking too much space on my blog. If you are someone who had gifted me one of those awards -- I will definitely return them back to you once I figured out just where they are now ! *Looks at you guilt-ily*

Stay tuned for more updates!