Journey of Life

February 1997. Hundred and twenty grade-12 students enjoying a ‘farewell’ party thrown by hundred plus grade-11 students, organized by their teachers and held in the school compound. I had just stepped down from the podium as the valedictorian of my class having spoken about the dreams and hope for the future. In fact the air was saturated with that. We were signing each-other’s sign-books answering typical questions like, “ where do you see yourself in ten years?” “What do you want to be?” “ your happiest/saddest moment” “your thoughts about me “ etc. I remember I wrote I wanted to become a doctor. In ten years I would have my own house, a car and a successful medical practice and I will marry a man of my own liking (no arranged marriage for me- I was a rebel). My friends wrote that I should become a lawyer, writer or a teacher (May be it was because I talked too much!). NO WAY! I felt being a doctor was my calling. It was the last time I was in the school as a student. A month down the road we were to appear in National /state level exams and various entrance exams for professional courses which would determine the course of the rest of our lives but that night was about dreams, about the future and a Plan-B was far from my mind.

Cut to a decade and half later. I am not a doctor but I couldn’t be happier. My Journey of life has been surprising- It’s not what I planned for but it’s just what I hoped for. Last week I read in an Indian newspaper about a teenaged girl who committed suicide. I wished I could go back in time and tell her about the Paralympic participants who are pushing the boundaries of what human bodies can do and tell her to not let her bad circumstances get the best of her. To tell you the truth the time period from March to June is an extremely stress filled time for parents of grade-12 students in India. This is the time when all major exams are held and results are declared. The news is often filled with tragic tales of young people taking their lives because they could not take the disappointment of low marks or failed attempts at career exams. If my journey of life were any thing to go by then I would say to those youngsters- Hold on, Life is too precious to be thrown away.

That night in 1997, an hour after my glorious speech I was sobbing bitterly complaining in front of my friends because I did not become the “prom-queen” equivalent of my school (a much less sophisticated and less glamorous version of it ) even though I felt I was really popular and had a 100% chance of winning that title. So all the talk of the future had just vanished in thin air, I was totally focused on the there and then  (here and now ) of the moment. My logic was over ruled by my emotions. Months later, I had not cleared any of the medical entrance exams I had appeared in and had a lower than expected score in high-school exams. I really needed to think about a Plan-B.  Actually Plan-B wasn’t half as bad as I had imagined. I went on to study architecture and in my first year I probably was the least talented and the least popular student in my class (may be even in the whole department). I made poor choices, made mistakes, I struggled but I persevered. My scores became better and It all started to make sense. By the end of those five years I not only gained an education, I also gained wisdom.  I understand what being disappointed means and how it can sometimes feel like the end of the road but in life you have to roll with the punches. Life plans are not all about our big goals and ambitions. Its also about the little things and the people we have in our lives. …And some times the sum of the small things is bigger than the whole.

In 2007 when I started to reconnect with my old school pals via Facebook, many of them were shocked that I became an architect not a teacher, converted to Christianity and married a guy that my parents helped select. I was surprised at how  their lives turned out as well. Some of them were a far cry from what I had thought they would be. Of course there were some who became doctors and engineers and CA’s like they wanted to be and those who married their high-school sweethearts but there were also those who did something totally different and here is the common denominator, they have all chosen to live happy lives.

I say happiness is a choice because even as adults we can be ruled by our emotions.  Some of us do look back at life and wish they could change that one thing that would change how their lives turned out to be. Of course there is room in life for serious contemplation on the choices we made and how our lives could be better. We don’t want to be foolish in ignorance but if ‘what-could-have-been’ starts to paralyze our current lives then it’s totally not worth it.

Seventeen years ago, I couldn’t have imagined that I would be enjoying being a stay-at-home mom to my little one  or that I would be married to such a wonderful person or that I would be living abroad or that my parents could actually be right :P!  But that was the age I was in. I was on the threshold of adulthood and even though I had merely a faint idea what life could possibly be I felt I knew it all. I felt I had it all figured out and that’s a stumbling block! We have to keep our avenues open and our plans flexible.

I don’t know who said it but this quote stuck in my mind:

“ Life is what happens to you when you are busy planning for something else”

Our journeys of life are full of ups and down and more often than not they don’t turn out as we planned. What I have learnt is that it is never too late to start making amends. We can change the present and we need to invest in it with love and sow the seeds for the future.

If you are in your teens- Please don’t get too caught up in your current disappointments. There are opportunities that will arise in future. We have to continually dust off our disappointments and keep trying again and again.

If you are older would you give it a thought today:

What was on your must-have/ must-achieve list when you were 15-16-17?

 

What is your life like now?

 

What are the most important lessons you have learnt so far?

 

If you would like to share the journey of your life, Please let me know. I would love to hear your story.

Phir Milege!!

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Naari (the woman)

“You are her (sarah’s) daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”

1 Peter 3:6

This women’s day is not so much about celebrating the women for me but to remind young girls of the potential they hold. As a mother of a daughter, I want to be a good role model. I want her to know that a woman can be soft, and gentle yet can be strong. Being strong doesnot mean becoming manly but to embrace our own strengths. Even in the animal kingdom a mother with kids is an easy mark but we know she can be the most ferocious beast as well. Our vulnerability can become our strength if we remain aware of it. The creative and nurturing spirit that God has breathed in us is our elixir.

Sometimes it’s the women who stop other women from being strong. In India daughters are discouraged by their own mothers to pursue education and forced to settle down in domestic roles. Here is my sketch for the day  and a short poem:

image

Roughly translated it means:

Not only good looks give me good qualities,

Give me a calm and strong mind.

My heart tells me this

a dream lives in you too.

You gave me your manners and talents

Why did you not give me the freedom too?

Give me my right today mother!

Say “be victorious” and bless me.

Become the wings of my dreams,

and come fly with me.

Let me fulfill my dreams mother!

then I will be called your daughter.

Happy Women’s Day to you all.

Phir Milenge!!

Post 31: Taking stock

Almost everyone makes a list at the year end – Every tv channel , magazine, newpapers make lists of one kind or the other – even me; and otherwise list-hater. My husband is often surprised that we get our grocery shopping done in our once-a-week grocery run without a shopping list.

Every year- end I look at all the picture from the year to remind myself of the happenings of the year. Not just what I can remember from the top of my head but small things that have been recorded photographically but I have otherwise forgotten. I look at last year’s calendars for major events and even new clothes I bought. I like doing this kind of memory recap at the end of every year especially since I got married.

In 2012, I had another record of sorts to look through, my blog archives. This is not my first attempt at blogging. I started a blog in 2008 but It was abandoned after a few post and despite my attempts at reviving it, I gave up. This blog however has been different because I was able to find an online community of like minded people, inspiring writers and artists who have kept my interest in blogging alive. I also realized that I had a lot more things I wanted to say and I had the time to sort out my thoughts and write them. My aim at starting the blog was to not only to journal my life’s experiences but also to grow and learn. As a stay at home mom , blogging provided me an opportunity to connect to people from with in the comfort of my own home and in between feedings and diaper changes.

In this year I published 125 posts, almost 5400 views and 90+ followers. I have to say I never thought my blog would ever be read by anyone beyond my immediate families. So Thank you to all of you who stuck around. I have also started to follow many blogs and I have learnt so much from those artists, travellers, thinkers, adventurers, writers, and cooking aficionados than I could have ever imagined. Thank you for broadening my horizons and letting me be a part of things I haven’t done, places I haven’t seen or food I haven’t yet cooked/eaten. Your words have been a doorway to newer experiences.

This post also coincides with the completion of my project- Sententia 31 which I started specifically to keep my self on track, Improve the quality of my posts and to keep my self encouraged. So here is a snapshot of how I fared.

photo-28

 

I hope the coming year would bring you refreshment, reenergize you and renew your hopes and goals.

Phir Milenge!!

post 30: Turning theTitanic around

A few days ago I wrote this poem (to read click here) to articulate my thoughts on the Delhi gang rape and the Newtown tragedy. This morning the news came that the victim in the Delhi gang rape case has passed away. It saddened me deeply.

Thousands of young people are protesting in New delhi and around different states in India. The attitudes and moral degeneration of people and politics that are being questioned are all too pervasive. When asked many of the girls among the protestors said the reason for their demand for justice is that it could have be any of them in place of the victim. It’s sad but it is true. This could have been any one of us. The reason this incident has resonated with so many is because so many of us have been through similar situations. This tragic incident has brought to fore a lot of sad memories as a young girl in Delhi for me.

I grew up in a lower middle class family in New Delhi with two sisters and a brother. The attitude in many families (mine included) was to have atleast one son. You would either go on having kids till you succeed or abort the girl child after a foetal gender test untill the government intervened and banned the gender determination in the womb. That not withstanding female feoticide and killing the girl child is rampant in India till date.

I attended a private co-educational school and high school run by a strict headmaster whose skewed sense of morality would put your character and integrity under the scanner  if you were found talking to or even befriending boys. I know of girls who have participated in character assassination of other girls.

In college, I used to take the public transport and eve teasing was a very common phenomenon. No one was spared- your age, your looks and even what you wore did not matter. The policemen who think girls provoke eve-teasers by what they wear could not be more wrong. The eve-teasers hide behind a crowd and sometimes it was safer to be silent because the rowdies were only looking for a chance to make a public spectacle. If you did not live in the posh neighbourhoods (which I did not), eve teasing in public transport was even more severe. Though I am not proud of the times I have had to slap a guy or throw my sandals at him for eve teasing , I am feeling ashamed at the times I chose to remain silent.

However, the saddest memory was triggered by the statement from the perpetrators that “they wanted to teach the girl a lesson”……. Teach someone a lesson- I have heard that from a bully ….. That attitude of knowing better and enforcing that by exerting power is the seed which when planted into the wrong minds leads to such crimes being inflicted not against the girls only but also towards the poor and the weak. How far can someone go to teach somebody a lesson? The bully thinks he is teaching the bullied one a lesson and making him pay for being weak, poor, different or deviant from norm. Who gives them that authority to teach that lesson? Is it not self-proclaimed authority? One person or one group thinks that they represent the correct thinking or people’s common sentiment and then go about creating havoc on our streets. Political parties who beat up young couples in the name of  preserving our “sanskriti/ culture” do the same. A husband who beats up his wife to teach her a lesson for not bringing enough dowry or a brother who kills his sister for marrying outside his religion does the same thing. The attitudes behind such crimes have been explained very well in this article on kafila.org and I would recommend that you read through this lengthy but well written post.

Even if you are absolutely correct in your thinking there is a right and a wrong way of doing things. As people we have given the power to the government to make laws, enforce those laws and bring the offenders to justice. The “Angry Young Man” of Bollywood movies who fights the criminals and fights against the system looks good on the silver screen but in real life there are systems in place and consequences to bear and therefore we have to fight the system from with in with clarity and patience.

If my Facebook news feed is any indication the dissatisfaction is growing. Some have called to boycott the Republic Day Celebration. Another one reminded that its a nation where the female is not safe inside the womb or outside. My friend SH said may be it’s too late to turn around the Titanic. I hope not.

I hope as a people we have recognized the attitudes that are behind these crimes, identified the loopholes in our laws and the reforms in law enforcement that need to happen well in time for a safe course correction.

Phir Milenge!!

Post 26: Christmas Art

It’s that time of the year again! Christmas season is upon us. For some it means a time for religious contemplation and deliberation, for some others celebration and partying and for some of indifference.

While I admire and enjoy all the celebrations, decorations and traditions surrounding Christmas or the holiday season, I cannot help but reminisce about my early Christmas experiences. I grew up in a lower-middle class Delhi in India. Ours was a Christmas without the bells and whistles. It was about Jesus and him alone. The renewed awareness of God coming to earth in human form to save the souls brought with itself an added awareness of the great commission and so followed many weekends of prayer, outreach and carol-singing. A celebration despite and in-spite of our circumstances. There was no christmas tree – they were to be found in some big churches as decorations; No Santa Claus –  he only came to award the excellence in sunday school or church activities, and no stockings stuffed with stuff. Our celebration included coming together as a church over a pot luck meal and as family meeting over dinner and it was a joyful time.

Okay, I did not start this post with this lecture on mind (may be I`ll do that in a post later) rather to share with you two drawings that I created for the Christmas time.

This would be my daughter`s second Christmas and my nephew`s first. I know many moms are looking online for Christmas graphics for the first and second Christmas celebrations to use in scrapbooks, table tags or cards and I thought of sharing with youfun and and whimsical little graphics that I created. second christmas first christmas You can print and frame these images in mini frames and hang them with ribbons on the tree or use them in the baby`s scrap book.

The last image I want to share with you is of the nativity scene from my house this year. I traced my daughters hand and drew Joseph, Mary and the three wise men in the fingers and the baby Jesus in the palm. This idea features finger puppets, henna patterns and Madhubani drawings all rolled into one.  I am very happy with how it turned out in the end.

image 4

As always your feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Phir Milenge!!