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thoughts of an ordinary indian

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Homecoming

When there is a whiff of pure joy and a warm feeling in your soul and your heart is so peaceful, you can be sure that your child has come home.
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Excellence

You cannot excel at everything. You don’t have to.
Trying to do well at everything spreads your energies thin. You lose focus. Human energy is a finite resource. We can choose areas of our life or activity or skills, that we desperately want to master. Like bright stars in a vast dark sky.
Narrow your focus to things which are really really important to you. Then go for it like never before and never after.

If your objective is benign, you will excel sooner than you think. 
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The road to nowhere

3865117014_717288f18e_z-150x150Education creates a mind-set which is unidirectional. It stifles the mind of its capacity to think and grow in all directions. It robs the mind of its glow and brilliance. Much like the picture below. While as there is an illusion of moving forward, of making progress, but you miss out on the fabulous palette of opportunities life offers on both sides of the path.

But the path is one way, one track. Sadly.
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Another New Year

sunrise1I often wonder if we should be meditating on the year gone by or welcome a new year about to usher in. Should we look back and pick up bits and scraps of wisdom from the path just walked or jubilantly look up to the unknown and hope for a bigger share of luck.
If you pick up wisdom of experience, future will bring success. Hope alone will not work.

Look to the sunrise for ‘hope’ and look to the sunset for ‘wisdom’.

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Shimla in the rains

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When it rains in Shimla it is grey, dull grey. When the rain stops and the clouds lift, hesitatingly, a thousand shades of green explode. And then the journey back in time. A bit of nostalgia, a sepia memory, a lingering smell, myriad shades of green, rain and more rain. The cold seeps into the bones. Fluffy clouds drift into windows, rubbing on the roads, holding the whole town to its in its claws, not wanting to give up. Chilly wind and slush…the long walk home.

And then the break of the sun, thousand shades of red and orange, life is great, we are happy….let us go out, to the lovely crisp evening, to the mall road. Toss a new discussion around coffee cups. Gaze a million stars. The merry go round of faces, pretty faces…Years have passed and I remember Shimla, a piece of heaven as it were.

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Is ‘Anna’ phenomenon over?

Anna-21

Like a match stick which fails to ignite first time, it so appears, Anna movement missed its mark. But he was up against an adversary of gigantic proportions. Who is this adversary? Why did it turn out to be a mountain of resistance when Congress, the party in power looked so clueless, helpless, isolated and ‘pinned on the wall’ against what seemed like a tornado of people’s aspirations. Herein lies the master stroke of deception.

The adversary, blocking Anna’s movement, as also aspirations of a billion people, was not congress party. It was a monolith, a mountain comprising of all political parties, entire polity, the bureaucracy, the law enforcement machinery, the press and the business.

How they maneuvered, plotted, executed and destroyed Anna movement is an unparalleled piece of India’s modern history. And why? More on this soon.

But did they manage to kill the movement?………not quite.

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A year gone by….

 

I often wonder if we should be meditating on the year gone by or sing a welcome to a year about to begin.

Should we look back and pick up bits and scraps of wisdom from the path just walked or jubilantly look forward to the unknown and hope for a bigger share of luck. If you pick up wisdom of experience, future will bring success. Hope alone will not work.

Look to the sunrise for ‘hope’ and look to the sunset for ‘wisdom’.

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Must (also) visit places in India

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Clockwise: Spiti, Coorg, Lakshwadeep, Pachmarhi, Mandu, Coorg

India offers a number of places to visit and unwind amidst picture perfect, stunning nature. There are also places and monuments made famous by history and time.

There are the famous spots, beaten to death by visitors. Overexposed but still timeless in appeal.

Then there are the ‘other’ places, not so touristy, not so cataloged, but equally beautiful. I will give out lists of such places, with a shorthand description. Should anyone want to know more, or better still, want to visit these places, please mail me. I promise to be of some help.

Pachmarhi: Quaint hill station, frozen in time. In Madhya Pradesh, the heart of India. You can walk/trek to pools and waterfalls in perfect harmony with pristine nature and hear your own heartbeat.

Coorg: Seclusion amongst coffee plantations, great people and spice trails. You are in the lap of solitude and lush forests. In Karnataka, south India.

Lakshadweep: Islands, reefs and atolls in the sea off Kerala coast. Reef diving, secluded holidays at fraction of price of similar better known places.

Lahaul & Spiti:  Himalayan desert land, cousin to Ladakh, spectacular views and ‘another’ world experience.   Different culture, Buddhist monasteries and sheer bliss.

Mandu: Fairy tale city in spectacular ruins. Immortal love story of talented Queen Roopmati, married to Muslim ruler Baaz Bahadur. Rich history.

There are many more. It will be my endeavour to keep sending out lists. Try and visit these places if you can.

 

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Kashmir Tales – 2

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Flower of hope…

It was an unusually harsh winter. Old man Bab and young child Baccha passed most of the winter huddled together. Old man held the child close to his heart. They survived  because of the warmth that only human touch can produce.

Bab had seen many winters before, only to welcome the spring sun as it kisses the wet earth and see a  hundred flowers bloom and hear the air fill with distant rhythm of a ‘Chhakri’

But this winter is different, he thought. It is a particularly severe winter. It does not seem to end. 

“Baba, Where do flowers go when the ground is covered with snow?” asked Bachha as he cuddled closer to Grandpa.

“They wait, they pray, their roots huddle together…just like us” Bab whispered.

“Have you seen this happen before?”

“For hundreds of years. Our winter never ends. Our God has forgotten us.” tears formed in his old, arid eyes.

“But why does this happen to us?” innocent quiver of the eyebrow.

“Because we are full of hatred. We are wretched people, we hate our kin.”

“Is hate like this winter? Will it never end?” asked Baccha

“Yes. It can. You can make it happen. You can let all flowers bloom, red and yellow and golden…” said Bab. Both fell asleep under that pleasant shadow of a hundred flowers.

Baccha got up in the morning and peeped through the window. Golden rays touched the ground. He saw the snow melting away. He saw tiny blades of grass sprouting from the ground…and he saw this most magnificent of flowers. Grandpa is wrong, he smiled, God has not forgotten us.

 

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Anna Hazare – Advantage ‘Anna’!

Anna-21-150x150Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come! In India’s current context it is not even an idea. There is a dire and desperate need to cleanse our system of corruption.  Lock, stock and barrel.

Prior to April 2011, an overwhelming majority of Indians were despondent, devoid of hope. Anna (colloquial for elder brother) was a local hero in Ralegan Siddhi, Maharashtra, having fought relentlessly against political wrong doers for over 25 years. He is a cult figure in that area, a dedicated leader who transformed his languishing village into a self reliant, progressive, flourishing community. No mean task that, however, still an obscure and localized achievement on a national scale.

Till Anna Hazare exploded on the national scene in April 2011, with an overwhelming pan national support, cutting across age, caste, religion and regions.  He touched hearts, stirred and mobilized public sentiment against corruption, like no one before, much like Mahatma Gandhi had done in the ’30s and 40’s.

From a local hero to a symbol of national hope. Why?

Anna is simple. He walks his talk. A Gandhi like minimalistic lifestyle, brutally frank opinions expressed in a rustic, hard hitting style of communication.

He is tough as nails. No dichotomy of word and action. A proven non-negotiable approach.

He is ‘Indian’. India rediscovered ‘Nationalism’ through Anna’s simplicity. There is a sudden respect for the Gandhi cap. There is a melody of nationalism in the air.

He mistrusts politicians. He shares a deep mistrust for the ‘politicians’ with 1.2 Billion people of this country. He understands the sly and unprincipled ways of Indian politics. The whole nation is loving him for that.

He is a ‘young’ old man. Energetic, full of stamina, optimism and die-hard approach, he is a role model for the young. He connects with youth who constitute half of India. His sway over youth helps him to keep the movement peaceful. They listen to him with respect. Never before have we seen a  connect so strong and a sentiment so clear.  All at a scale that can detonate political equations in the country with blinding intensity.

He is strategic. He plays his pieces carefully, with professional élan, starting with simple notes and then weaving complex symphonies. He is unpretentious yet totally in command. He leverages his strengths to the T.

India can now dream of a life without corruption. Suddenly hope has touched our shores, like a whiff of a long forgotten fragrance.

It is now or never, if the political class lets him survive that is. Till then it is advantage Anna!

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