Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Re-blogging [Going around the Sun and the sunny connections!]

The original post is here via

This is a special year and the day this post goes online, I celebrate my 40th birthday. I have so much going on as I reach this milestone of a year. It makes me quite humble at the thought of rounding the Sun forty times already :-)

I am happy to realise that I am more open to forgiveness as I connect with people now. I am not sure if this is as a result of my conscious practice of Vipassna or I am mellowing down with age. I am sure both have an affect on my current peaceful existence. I am glad that I am growing up to be peaceful in my surround, to be able to accept things as they are without being irritated. I am able to value the gift of moments to stay centered, to be able to celebrate and not waste time in cribbing and complaining.

I am at an interesting place in life right now. I have already had lived a life quite full with events, experiences and looking forward, I intend to have another full-fledged innings with love, life, laughter and peace. And I intend this next innings to be meaningful and that I live this in all awareness.

I don’t know why, just from the time September began this year, my world got into a frenzied action. They say one’s birth month always brings in action around you, and I am seeing all that is happening around me from this context. And its uncanny how people, colleagues, friends, acquaintances from past are suddenly appearing in my horizon from nowhere. It’s as if this new phase should be named ‘blast from the past’ :-)

For example: one of this was like as if I had a déjà vu when someone who I last met in my univ days (a foreign student who I lost touch), I wanted to get in touch recently, suddenly sent me an email looking me up on the internet. Then there was this old colleague from another city calling me up in the middle of a work day to discuss a potential collaboration. Then there was this person who runs a travel company with whom I did one of my memorable tours way back in 2011 (where I managed to climb the Tiger’s Nest by foot and felt ‘all-so-serene’ despite bad knee and failing lungs), called me asking whether I would do a travel blog for his company.

Well, you get the scene, right?

I see I am responding to all these connections with an open mind and trying to see just the fact that people are reaching out to people, old friends reconnecting with old friends. May be, as you get older you tend to reminisce more and get nostalgic, and you tend to search for old friends from univ and send an email. And its not difficult these days with a slight help from the ‘Man Friday’ called ‘Google’ :-) I am observing a change in my response – that I am not asking questions, and not getting suspicious about people, not remembering bitter things that had happened or for that matter not even getting upset why they didn’t keep in touch for so long. I wish to continue this streak of ‘taking things as they are’ and live in the moment and enjoy the life this way.

Hope I continue to live my life in all awareness and in consciousness and able to share all the metta all around me, in my surround, in my interactions, and in my relations. And let there be loads of happiness, peace, love, laughter in everyone’s life.

Lots of metta from the birthday girl :-)

P.S: it just came to my mind to tell you that my name literally means ‘Sun’ and I got my name after the place I was born!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Re-blogging [Watching the show]

Original post is here via

It is raining cats and dogs here and as I write this I can hear thunderbolts as if some explosions are taking place up above. I am in Cochin, Kerala, and this is a work trip. I am writing this post after my dinner, before I go to sleep. I like to write in the evenings before I go to bed, this way I clear my head and it helps me as I deliberate on topics in the class next morning. Oh, I teach for a living.

Wait, who is this? What is she doing here?

Well, I just joined this blog as a contributor and I must thank Ryan for this. Actually, I need to tell you a story here as this ‘thank you’ should be extended to this teacher I met recently and he is the one who mentioned about this blog.

So, where was I and what was I doing?

The summer had been tough and I have been pretty much looking for an option to get away. I did take some short vacations and thought I would find balance. I did take some days off and did not do anything and I thought it would help me get in sync. And at the end, I really had to stop trying and register for my next Vipassna course.

It was the long weekend – that Independence Day-Janmashtami long weekend and it gave me almost a good five days with just one leave. Next thing I knew I was in Pushkar amidst all the tourists but not for any tourism! I just wanted to be away. And I indeed was away for some time, away from pretty much everything and it was planned. It is important not to do anything sometime. Yes, you read it correctly and I was in that kinda phase – a very frugal existence, cut off from everything, waking up on the lap of nature with chirping birds, watching moments pass by, feeling your breath, and being aware about the ‘you’, enjoyed looking at colorful flowers and dancing peacocks and looking at the sky and how cloud skirted around the mountains….yes, there was mountain and there was water – a lake and there was peace. There is PEACE still and I love the feeling! Its wonderful to get in sync and feel the balance, to feel the deepest core of your mind, your thoughts and not react by the mundane that happens around you……its such a fulfilling experience and I did it again…..yes, I meditated among the monks! Bliss it is :-)

However much aware you are, it is important to practice. And this time, during this Vipassna course I really internalized it. I knew all the principles of Vipassna, I had taken it before. My first course was way back in 2008 on the lap of the Himalayas. But then we all move away from the practice and we get deviated.

I remember discussing my experiences from Vipassna with a close friend and I mentioned how this time I did not really ask any questions to the teacher during the course, how I understood the real meaning of looking inside, how it is to be in balance and to empty your mind. I am glad I realized that whatever be our life situations we need to be fixing them – we need to find the answers ourselves, no one can find it. Its only when you are clam, when you are in peace, you are centered that you think through and then all your actions are clear and effective.

The whole idea of equanimity that to remain unaffected by things around you, that there will be ups and downs, there will be sun and the gloom, there will be laughter and drama, there will be love and pain and we need to see different shades, acknowledge them, register them but not get affected. I realized it is important not to value judge any of these different shades in order to remain unperturbed. This is not to say ‘ignore the gloom’ or ‘avoid anger’ but being aware what is anger and yet not get affected by it. The moment we take the position of a bystander and watch things, we can remain unaffected. This practice of Vipassna literally makes you observe all these processes. I am glad, I like to watch the show. I know I am participating in the show that way but I am able to enjoy the show more than before :-)

P.S: Sharing a blogpost I wrote on where I am a contributor blogger. Solna.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

fair and not so fair....

“wish I was'nt dark skinned”.

I remember someone mentioned this when we were asked ‘what was the one thing you would like to change about yourself’ during one of the many leadership training workshops we get to attend on the job. Well, this was way back in 2011 in the city of Sydney and the colleague I am referring here was recounting her story from working in India. In our day-to-day, run of the mills times, such workshops often help us to rewind, introspect, listen to others’ stories and help reflect and gain perspectives in the process. I remember, I did take notice of the face of the person when I heard that sentence in that crowded seminar room. Firstly, it was very different from what every one of us were recounting and also because I needed to contextualize the statement with reference to the face. I do not remember exactly what I had said that day in my response to the same question, but now, especially what happened in last 24 hours, I think I would not think twice to say ‘wish I was not fair..err a fair sex’.

Well, I am very proud of the fact that I am a female. I am glad that I can be independent in this time and age and can decide for myself. Life has been a great education and I grew up knowing I am the only female child in the whole generation in a 'male outnumbering female' family and it is not a bad idea to be a girl, a woman, a female as long as you are sure of yourself.

Before I thrash it out, here are couple of disclaimers: I am an Indian, born and bred ‘locally’ with an overdose of travelling to many cities and countries to know that earth is indeed round! I am not young, not a teenager, at the least, who is overwhelmed at her experience of this world after she has been let out of her proverbial ‘parental cocoon’. But rather, read my story as ‘story of a woman’, a woman who has rounded the sun close to forty times, been to more than twenty five countries, lived independently in many cities which she called home from time to time, have had experienced myriad things under the sun (and also under the shade) to not to get overwhelmed with any new experience. Oh, she was trained as an Anthropologist to explore the unexplored and has been working in various locations for her researches for more than fifteen years. So, you get the picture, right?

Some of my students had told me that I am quite a powerful woman who they would like to emulate in life. Oh, I am also a teacher and teaching a class full of people from diverse background and locations pleases the person I have in my core. And now, the same ‘powerful’ woman is pouring out after she felt defeated, violated, not once but three times within the span of 24 hours. Well, similar things had happened before, and I had gained experience and made peace with them. And when I had discussed these with close friends, I was advised to take all these experience to my stride and not get hurt or to feel bitter. Anyway…

Story # 1

Picture this: I am on the road to the airport to catch my flight – the first flight out from this state capital in Eastern India. Earlier, I had booked a car for my airport drop from this five-star hotel I was staying in. As I started my journey for the airport, I called home to inform on my flight timings and expected time of arrival and just when I disconnected, the car screeched to a very abrupt halt bumping to the car we were trailing. I looked up to see what was ahead only to notice two big cows peacefully crossing the road and two hefty men emerging out of the car before us. Some heated altercation ensued and before things started to get ugly the driver of my car pleaded that he had a passenger for the morning flight and that we were running late and quickly made an exit from the scene. I was jolted, firstly, with a not-so-severe jaw injury (there was no backseat belt in the car) and then from the suddenness of the whole drama and the heated argument between two sets of drivers. I reached the airport and got engrossed in usual security rituals of ID cards, tickets, baggage scanning etc. Just when I was beginning to feel composed and waiting for my turn at the check-in queue, I heard someone shouting on top of his lungs ‘excuse me madam’….’excuse me madam’ as if he owns the airport. Everyone turned towards him and he came straight towards me and started to howl further to the point that I could see his eyeballs – yes, he was that close. Remember, I said, it was the first flight out – so, it was almost an empty airport and who so ever were present near the check-in counter started to watch the ‘high pitch’ drama. My response was that I was not driving, and it was not my car and also, the first car made an abrupt halt because of cows grazing on to the roads and cars involved were not banged badly as I did not see damage on the car and no one got badly hurt and that I was a visitor to this city and car belonged to the hotel I stayed during my trip. He kept shouting and asked which hotel I stayed in. At that point I logically could not continue talking with this ill-behaved person so I very sharply said ‘you can’t talk to me like this, please behave like a gentleman. You are shouting at me and this is an airport and not a scene of a drunken brawl’. And I stopped and turned towards the check-in counter. It worked. He went away and tried calling on his mobile phone making some more noise but refrained from making any direct communication with me. To tell you the truth, I was terrified to the core. I guess I can’t handle high pitch exchanges. And I was terrorised further when I figured that the person in question was my co-passenger and we would be sharing the same space for next four hours or so (if not longer).

As I was checking in, I just pleaded with the airline staff that in case this man is also a passenger on the same flight, I would not like to be seated next to him as he has been harassing me following me trailing the car and now in the airport. The airline suggested I report this to the CISF officials at the airport. But I chose not to report this and I gathered my hand luggage and seated myself in one corner to catch my breath and get some peace.

Now, as I recount this less than 10 min episode over and over again in my head, and with friends, I feel bizarre. And I am sure many who have travelled on road in India have been party to such scene. It was not really an error on the part of my driver – the first car halted abruptly and you follow suit and often such ‘bumping into each other’ does not involve much physical damage. I guess, as a fellow driver you contextualize the situation and let it pass. In the current case, on the contrary, there was every possibility of a road rage and possible physical assault. I did not want to divulge the name of the hotel as it could have led to some bad blood and the poor driver could have been in trouble in this game of power. Also, think about me – I was checking in to board my flight. In what sense would you come after me to fight? Also, when I mentioned my situation, I am sure it sounded rather foolish to ‘gherao’ the passenger and rather a visitor in the new city. Also, could not this interaction be milder, and done in polite ways? Why the man has to harass me? Why that man has to follow me into the airport almost to the point to terrorise me. I am sure people at the check in counter and those by-standers could observe that I was shaking in fear and anxiety handling such a violent outpour from a stranger and tugging along my luggage.

Now, my question is: what would have happened if there was a man in my place?

Story #2

Fast forward four hours, including one and half hours at the cruising height of 30,000 feet up above, I find myself in another car on the road of another city on my way home from another airport. The car is stuck in traffic and from both sides I have very ‘eager’ onlookers. I know, you would say, what is so new about it, especially when you are in a country of 2 billion people? Well, I am aware to expect crowded roads, traffic congestions but strangers communicating with you in the middle of a traffic jam – to the point of making music to the tune of whistle? Excuse me. However strong and independent you are, you get bothered when you are ogled at, you are whistled at, and you are teased. And however much you ask me to ignore, I have observed that its way difficult to ignore and let it pass. Only thing you wish, you weren’t there. I mean, it was rather terrifying with burly men on their bikes parked on both sides of your car at a traffic light and they are making enough noise and gesture to knock you off from your snooze. I remember thinking aloud to let my driver know that I was feeling uncomfortable and that he should take care to see where he parks at the next traffic light. Anyway, a part of me was trying to make sure that all the doors were locked from inside.

Now my question is: what do you think, I tend to over react or would you like to place your daughter, or wife or sister or mother in my place and ask how she felt? Did she also feel that gut wrenching fear, that nauseating anger and feeling stuck and a strong urge to be invisible and evaporate in the broad daylight?

Story #3

I reach home, make a couple of phone calls and update some emails. Laze around for some time and then make some food to recharge myself. I pause to capture my wandering mind to compose myself before I start working. After the end of work day, I decide to run some errands and headed for the market. My phone rings, it’s an unknown number and the caller is addressing me as ‘professor’ and congratulating me for what he perceived I achieved in my profession. Long story short, this was a phone call from someone who I first met some nineteen years ago and knew from my university time. He is visiting India for a week and intends to meet up with old friends as he has bunch of updates including his marriage, his new baby boy and the great position as advisor at the ministry back in his home country. As we spoke I came to know he searched for me on google and learned about my work and called my office at 9am to give me a surprise call. Since I was away from my office (story no 1 and story no 2 can tell you that!) what he planned to surprise me did not work and instead the receptionist at work connected him to my mobile phone. I tell you, in this time and age of easy connectivity and virtual world, this is a scary truth that you have no idea who all you are sharing your information with without even knowing about it! And I am not any celebrity! Anyway, an impromptu reunion was planned between two old friends from the university. We planned to meet at this open air crafts emporium in the evening as he had a meeting planned with the college principal in the late afternoon. Little did I know that this impromptu meeting with an old friend from univ would leave me feeling violated at the end of the day.

Now, you will ask what happened. Yes, I will spit..err spill it all ….…so, read on.

I guess hugs and handshakes are part of any reunion and meetings with old friends. But, kisses, inappropriate touches despite your objection? He was all emotional and trying to remember each and every interaction from last decades and somewhere overemphasized that I was his ‘first’ friend in this new country when he enrolled as a student in the univ way back in 1996. I watched for a while, but as usual, my straightforward streak could not be subdued for long so I cracked an awkward question ‘I guess, such deep friends do know about their friends’ lives and not spring up surprises after decades’. Our meeting was rather short and he insisted that he will drop me home despite my refusing him chaperoning me. At one point, I did start to sniff that this wasn’t a very benevolent friendly reunion that is unfolding but rather a lusty man trying to sell emotional stories to seduce a woman. I guess, any friend who truly knows what it means to be a friend, would respect what you say, and value your words and would never violate their friends. Despite repeated requests he kept hugging me, kept holding my hands however many times I would free them from his clasps, and even tried to touch me in objectionable ways. I had to end this ‘reunion’ and made a hasty move to return home and headed for the metro. After almost ten minutes or so, as I was waiting for the next metro, I saw him peering to get a look of the side of the platform which is meant for ‘women coach’. At that moment, I felt so unsafe and I cursed myself for taking this decision to meet this ‘old friend’ instead of getting some rest after an already ‘eventful’ day.

So, what do you think, I made a bad decision to go meet an old friend? If I go to meet an old friend, does it mean I am asking him to kiss me or touch me? Is not my saying ‘no’ means no? Why an old friend has to be slapped to make him understand that I have all the right over my own body and it’s not friendly to touch a friend’s body just like that?

So what do you say now? I say, it’s no fun to be shouted at, it’s no fun feeling terrified and terrorised and fending all by yourself, it’s no fun to be ogled at, and of course it’s no fun at all to get kissed when you don’t want it!

You know, why I wish I wasn’t fair…err.. a fair sex!? Wait, do you still think I am strong and powerful? I am really tired of all these….

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Life from the side lines….

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, it turned into a butterfly. ~Proverb

Watching life from the side lines sometimes can be such a worthwhile experience. I am in such a phase right now – much of the reason is that I do not want to be part of this race to know whether I can really run or to prove it to anyone and on another level, I am in a different mode where I observe and not ‘do’ stuff. You may say something different but that doesn’t bother me. We all have our own opinions and view points and I do what I want to do and think the way I want to think and I totally have my reasons.

I have seen life – inside-out, pretty deep I must say. I have lived in different places with different people, travelled, seen the world, made friends, climbed mountains, and went deep into the ocean, had seen successes and failures, lost and found, tasted the highs and fallen deep and deeply in love, laughed and cried and nonetheless, made a happy connection with life and a meaningful one at that! And of course, I lived a life to die without any regrets. I know, I can do better and that’s always the case, I want to do much more than what I do, with a wish to better my best. And perhaps that’s the reason I am always in this continuous anxiety, constant restlessness and don’t find reasons to feel satisfied. Yes, I haven’t achieved what I set out to achieve in this life 

And then, I slowed down, to observe and to ponder and prolly, to reinvent and see through things. I must say – this is exhilarating. I know I am different. I know that. And you told me too many times. But now I celebrate that differentness and don’t try to conform or please anyone. It is what it is, take it or leave it and I do no harm, I do not mean any harm. I have grown this way to be me, I have been brought up this way to be me and not to alter my wiring and be what you want me to be. I know I am a woman in a man’s world. I know I am one tough nut and you get jitters to face me. I know I am a delicate one and I wear this tough shield for the world outside. I know I am a difficult one you love to dump in one corner.

But what the hell, how does that matter? You play your game and I play mine. But the scene is, I see through your game and you cant win me over. Because, for a long long time, I have stopped accepting your definitions, your standards, your ideals, your perspectives. Because, with the life I have, the experiences I have gone through, I have to respect my own perspectives, I have to acknowledge my thinking, accept my true feelings. And it is totally perfect to be different. It’s awesome to be difficult. It’s joyous to be ‘me’. Yes, I know I am going there where I belong. I am wee bit too late or too early but things are falling in place and before you even know your view points, your standards, your ideals will be so obsolete and I could care less what you thought about me. But you know, however difficult you made it for me, actually this journey helped me see things differently and helped me to mould me. So I say ‘thanks nonetheless! ‘ wearing that nice smile which I know you cant handle! [hehe]

Oh, have you read this one Oscar Wilde wrote once? that “what seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” It makes so much sense to me from where I am now :-)

Addendum [3 July 2014]: just needed to clarify as many of the readers are intrigued about who is this 'you' I have referred in this post. I am an Indian, based out of India and this 'you' refers to the stereotype society, people, situation create for a woman. This 'you' is no individual but a group. Thanks, Solna.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Dreams uncensored....

Already six days have passed from the sixth month of this year and it isn't too late to start drawing up a plan of action - I kinda don't like the term resolution! I plan, and I act on them and they take shape!

This year, I want to go back to my birthplace on my birthday and meditate among the monks!

This year, I want to write down that dream!

This year, I want to get a tattoo!

This year, I want to bring one change in my life - something which I haven't done before, attempted before, something, anything! This one is open ended as I love surprises, I love things different and I believe in spontaneity :-)

And I have less than six months to accomplish them all, actually less than three months for 'meditating among monks' :-)

I dream, I dream big, I am like that and things happen to me. Wide grin!

Friday, May 30, 2014

and it didn't rain today....

It was late afternoon, lying on my belly I was absorbed into the the gypsies and that stench of bichloride of mercury, and then everything around me turned dark. Dark as if it's night.

Remember, I said, late afternoon and I was reading the book. That famous one, because I'm still mourning and I know I will mourn another 100 years.

My eyes turned to the windows and through those sexy lacy curtains I saw a glimpse of outside. Sky is into a new color - as if hordes of animals just furiously sprinted by, spewing splashing muddy red hues on the horizon. I stepped out of my bed and peeped out of the glass windows - everything around seemed to be in a certain fury that moment. My favorite balcony corner by the neem tree looked even more scarier than that ugly scary smiley on my FB chat!

And I narrated this to myself as I went about to the kitchen to drink some cold water - 'neem tree shook it's head so furiously, so vigorously as if it went in trance, as if there entered a ghost in its branches through the roots seeping through the sewage water and it is trying to get rid of it'. Ah, I can imagine the pain in their struggle.

Hmmm. I checked from room to room for open windows and doors as everything and possibly everything within everything got into this uncontrollable motion adding to the frenzied existence of dust, darkness and dampness - it's 42degC inside the house and I am sweaty as if I'm under the running shower!

Things settled down after a couple of 'night in the middle of the day' kinda FB updates. I made myself an egg - just craved for some snack to witness this nature's playing with color :-) Then drank some cool ice tea and even got back to the same position on the bed with the book - only to realize the cool breeze marked the end of the fury and somewhere it must be raining.

And it didn't rain today. It still didn't rain here. It did not rain to cool me down, to soothe my soul, to drench me in love.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Drug. Sex. Insomnia.

Its well past midnight and I am doing some serious ‘burning midnight oil’ and it’s all about sex and drugs, err…drugs and sex. Well, this is no romantic escapades I am chronicling, if reading this far you envisaged some juicy anecdotes in the following paragraphs! Be warned, I am gonna talk about some real serious, real deep and really heart wrenching stories. And it involves me…yes, poor me!

I am happy that I finally got over that writer’s block I was suffering from and I am happy that I finally have a complete report right in front of me! Ah, I remember I did promise someone that I would share this piece of work I managed walking through all those spells of insomnias – well, it is now ready for public consumption! And I am really happy. Its rather not happy but a feeling which is so confidence boosting, a feeling which feels like as if someone is whispering sweet nothings into my ears! Well, it feels nice. That nice kinda nice :-)

Drug. Sex. Insomnia and a sleepy moi!

Some nights, working on my notes, I find myself sleeping on my belly with my face perched on the laptop keyboard. And then after couple of ‘turtle hours’ I wake up in the brightly lit bedroom to the tune of Sinatra. This could have been a scene of some nice, romantic, ‘sex-capades’, but alas it’s in my dreams, I dreamt of those tight embrace and those thick muscular arms!

Like a flower….

Picture this: Norah Jone’s husky voice filled the balmy air in the bedroom. It’s in closed door-window mode with dust storm outside– precautions for poor lungs which cant suck in thick air. Marquez’s orange yellow paperback lays upturned at page 17 and ‘remember me with a rose’ brushing on those tulip bed sheet, in the middle of a re-reading mode!

Oh, that orange yellow cover covered that famed cholera…err ‘Love in the time of Cholera’. Somewhere, that Medical Anthropologist and that Public Health Specialist and that traveller loses herself to a thing in the past on an unknown Spanish road, camouflaged as a Latina! Well, it had happened before; she had lost her ways to find her ways in life. And that was Barcelona. From Paella to Park Güell to Gaudi to Picasso and getting drenched in cava in those old Spanish pubs. Seven years since. Flashback moments and there was love. There was that husky voice, cat calls as you stop by the paid phone booth to make those phone calls to hear to that thick baritone from across the ocean. Yes, ocean! Hmm….flashback indeed!

Well, to come back to where it started from, yes, finally, suddenly, everything around feels so light, unburdened, as if there’s that lightness, a certain high from the first puff you suck in, as if there’s that slight buzz when you take a deep gulp after a nice swirl in your mouth, as if you just got kissed eyes all closed, all dreamy and light and as if a light feather just floated on the naked body.

The writing on ‘drugs and sex’ is complete and I am done with! and it all feels so dreamy yet real. Yes, drugs-sex and a bit of insomnia.. err …dreams :-)

Deep into the dark sky there are some stars smiling. Nice fragrant gardenias fill the air. A hint of sandalwood oil lingers on the nape and those saffron threads float on the water.

Surreal. Ecstatic. Blissful.