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Creativity is a good thing to have. And it is even better if you can use it in your everyday life, especially when you have very curious young children. My son is one of the most inquisitive people I have seen ūüôā His questions never stop coming. Even while I am giving him a bath, he¬†is asking me one question after another. So I need to be thinking on my feet all the time in order to¬†satisfy his inquisitive mind and to put it in simple enough way to make him understand. Also, sometimes, the questions cannot be answered by simple truth, so I have to make all kinds of stories around them so that his young mind can take away a good thing/value from the conversation. In a very strict sense, I am not telling the truth and probably being manipulative but then the truth might not be interesting enough for a child. So I create stories about simple things in life.

For example, consider this. When I knew I was expecting my son, my daughter was just about a year old. And I had read all these articles about older siblings feeling jealous of a new baby that I was scared. I figured the best way to help my daughter accept and love her baby brother was to start before he was born. So I¬†started telling her how Goddess Gauri* was going to grant her¬†a beautiful wish. I let her spend time with her favorite doll and kept telling her she will have a¬† baby like the doll to play with. I used to point at my tummy and tell her that her¬†gift was growing there and will be out soon. I tried to tell her in the best way I could and I am not sure how well she understood me, but she responded to my son’s birth very well. She never felt jealous of him and though she was only 19 months when he was born, she behaved like a responsible elder sis towards him. I don’t know if my talking to her about his arrival had anything to do with it, yet I continued to tell her the story. The story was this. A little girl was born to a couple who had prayed for her and they loved her very much. Then, she grew up a little and would play with her mom & dad. Though she enjoyed their company and loved her parents very much, yet she wanted to play with a child. So she prayed to Goddess Gauri to give her a little brother. Since Goddess Gauri is very kind and listens to everyone’s prayers, especially children’s, She granted the little girl her wish and said “Dear little girl, your brother will come to your home on May 8, 2008, who will love you and be your friend for life. You have to promise to love him and take care of him.”¬†So, Shiku arrived into our lives on the promised date.

I thought I was quite smart and started using this story every time the children fought with each-other or complained about each-other, reminding them that they were supposed to love each-other. But this generation of kids is even smarter.

One day, while I was telling this story the nth time to Chunchu¬†and Shiku, he really got irritated and said, “But mom, this means didi (big sister in Hindi) wanted me as her brother. But I never prayed for her! So why do I have to put up with her?” I must admit I was stunned¬†for a few moments! His question was right at the mark! For few moments, my mind went blank and I uttered a few ahh’s and umm’s. Then, I turned to him and told him another story.

I said, “Shiku, I am glad you asked. But do you really think this choosing for siblings is a one way process?” And he was like, “So? What happens?” And I replied, “You know where little kids stay before they are born?” He said, remembering my answer to another of his questions, “Yes, I know. The little kids stay with Goddess Gauri. I remember you had told me some time back.” I was encouraged¬†by his belief and continued with my story, “So when Goddess receives a wish/prayer from a child for a younger sibling, she asks all the unborn children to gather in a big room. This room has a big projector. The purpose of this projector is to look into the lives of the children who are already¬†born and praying for a sibling. So Goddess shows the unborn children a few hours from the life of the child who has wished for a brother or sister. Same thing happened when Chunchu¬†wished for a brother.¬†The Goddess gathered Shiku¬†and all children in the room as is the process and she put on the projector. Everyone saw one-year old Chunchu¬†playing around the house. Every few minutes, she would go to her mom and would cuddle her. She was talking in baby language and was so happy. She looked very beautiful and lovable. Then, Goddess Gauri asked every child in the room who wanted the little girl as their elder sister. Shiku¬†liked Chunchu¬†so much that he raised his hand before anyone else and started yelling – I want her to be my didi. Gauri smiled and asked him if he was sure or if he wanted to look at more footage to decide. Shiku¬†replied he was sure. So then, it was decided¬†that Shiku¬†will be born in Chunchu’s home.”

And to this day, I do not know how I thought of this whole situation about Goddess Gauri and unborn children, but I smiled to myself after the narration and said, “Well done, Manisha!” So now, whenever¬†Shiku¬†and Chunchu fight, I tell them the complete story – of how they chose each-other. Also, they love the story.

Perhaps some day, when they grow up, they will know I was just cooking up something. But who knows – perhaps that’s how it really happens ūüėČ

*Goddess Gauri – A Hindu diety, who is believed¬†to very kind hearted and an epitome of mother’s love.

This story starts from the time I started understanding the concept of God. In my childhood years, I just did what the adults around me did. I prayed in the school assembly, at home, in front of the idols of Hindu Gods, in the temple. I still bow my head when I pass a religious place (esp a Temple and a Gurudwara). I make the cross sign when I am in front of a Church. All this because I grew up in a neighbourhood where a temple, gurudwara and church are located in the vicinity. Also because, my parents, though they passed the Hinduism faith because they themselves are Hindus, never taught me to not respect other religions. I do not remember ever hearing them categorize someone by their religion. And I am really grateful to my parents for that. It is because of them, I was able to look beyond religion and made Christian, Muslim and Sikh friends who have been as good to me as any Hindu friend.

But in those years, I was taught to respect God and sometimes even fear Him. When I grew up a little, I somehow did not feel the fear. I used to ask myself if God is the ultimate being, if He is the epitome of righteousness and goodness, why would He punish someone for things like not praying to Him? I wondered what was really the truth behind the fear that people feel from God. And though I might not really know the real reason, but I think this has two aspects.

First, when these social rules were made¬†and the rulers thought the ways in which they could make people follow them without questioning, I think the best way they thought was fear. If they logically explained to people a simple thing like ‘do not lie’, how many people would pay attention? But when they said ‘do not lie or God will punish you’…that would make them listen. Now, I think there was a need to say this to those people because there were only a few educated & learned men in the olden days and they must have thought it would be tough to reason with others who did not have any education and did not understand life as the learned men believed they themselves did.

The second aspect of fear might have begun when the religious leaders came into picture. Now, the learned men at least had their skills and talents to make people listen to them. But think about these religious heads of any society. In ancient India, a priest was someone who was educated, had spent years in meditating about life, and had some insights into a human mind. Many times, these priests were like today’s research scientists, who developed a skill or¬†invented something. I have read many instances of this kind of knowledge accumulated by these priests in Hindu scriptures (though in those stories, these might seem like some magical powers these people had, but over the years I have come to analyze those were scientific inventions and not magical powers). So a priest was typically someone with skills, talent, education etc. But then, later on, a boy born in the house of a priest became a priest and so on. Unfortunately, the sons of the priests might not have the same skill set and talent as their fathers. So they¬†used¬†fear as method of submission by the public.

These were my understandings of the fear in religion. I can’t say if I am right but I know one thing for sure. God loves. He gives. God would never say to you “I will love you and take care of you only if you go to such & such temple and give the priest X amount of money to pray to me”! (Since the rule makers were the religious heads, maybe it was their way of securing an income for themselves). Anyway, so long back, when I understood these things – by using my mind, by listening to some good people around me, by reading about the horrors of extremist crimes committed in name of religion, I stopped fearing God. I started loving Him. I knew my relationship with God cannot be defined by another human being’s beliefs or teachings. I came to believe that God loved me, no matter what. He did not ask me to make sacrifices in return for love. His love is the purest and cannot be tainted with expectations, demands, monetary offerings etc.

I am not saying I don’t donate¬†money in temples or elsewhere. I still go to temple, gurudwara, church but when I am giving money there, I understand it is not for God. It is for the priest, who earns his livelihood by praying and maintaining these religious places. I know I am not giving the money to God but to those who are trying to keep God in our lives (though their ways might¬†seem crude to me). When I bow in front of a religious building, it is not out of fear but purely out of respect for God. Even though He is everywhere around me, those places still mark his abode for me. I somehow get peace when I visit those places, hence I show my respect towards them. Also, when I visit a religious place, I do with lots of faith in my heart; faith towards God. I still believe we humans require¬†rules to love by otherwise there will be chaos everywhere. Hence, I respect those rules and try to follow them. I know the method might have been not up to¬†my liking, but the intent behind the rules was good – to keep an order in the society and to ensure people were essentially good.

I used to read Rajnish¬†Osho¬†a lot in my teenage years and though there were things I did not agree with, yet there were some that left a mark on me. One such book I read was about happy religion. Osho¬†mentioned in one of his addresses that in Hinduism, we almost always relate being religious with being sad. A person who devotes himself in God’s service is supposed¬†to meditate in faraway places, being all alone, is supposed¬†to be serious all the time, is supposed¬†to sacrifice good food and clothes etc. Osho¬†goes on to say this was true till Lord Krishna arrived on the scene. His religion was the only happy religion. Lord Krishna is a happily singing, dancing God who sometimes even playfully¬†flirts with women. He preached that we could live a full life and do all our duties and yet be close to God. That book touched a chord in me. Many scriptures teach it and there are a few stories also in Hindu mythology to emphasize on the fact that one can live a full life and be a true devotee of God.¬†My respected Guru¬†also said the same thing to me – “If you do not forget God, He will always be with you”. The problem is, sometimes we stop asking Him to be with us.

So my relationship with God has been pretty simple – love Him, remember Him everyday and know that He is always there for me, no matter what. I do respect God, but I don’t fear Him. I do love Him but I might not sit with folded hands in front of His idol every morning. I would love to follow the rule of lighting a¬†diya¬†in my house every morning and evening, but not doing so does not mean I have forgotten God. I pray in my own way – I talk to God, all the time. When I am happy, I thank Him. When I am angry, I vent out to Him. I do not need a special place to talk to Him and I don’t even have to talk aloud ūüôā¬†And I truly believe He listens and He is always around.

Writing, of course! Right? But…

Why do I write? There is no simple answer to that. I write because I love it; because it gives me a contentment I never imagined; because it is therapeutic for me. If I am happy, my joy multiplies by writing about it; if I am sorrowful, I find solace in writing. When I write, I may not be writing about the sorrow in the current time, but just putting down few meaningful words on a document makes me feel sane and makes me forget the pain.

We have always heard that love makes you lose sleep and appetite; writing does the same for me. If I feel like writing, I can start at 12 in the night, even after a long and tiring day; and I have to force myself to stop and get some sleep since there will be another tiring day to face. When I write, there is no hunger and no sense of time or place. Writing is another world for me, a world where I can control my negative emotions and generate more positivity.

As you day-dream in love, I dream about writing. I dream about a day when I could get up in the morning and just start writing, and continue till I feel like, without bothering about job, home, food, anything. My ideal day would begin writing while sitting under a tree, surrounded by a beautiful garden and a waterfall in the background. I crave for¬†the freedom to pickup the pen and paper (or laptop) anytime a story idea struck me. I fantasize about¬†the¬†ability to go into the fiction world whenever and wherever I wished.¬†I guess I am just in love with writing. And good thing about this love affair is that I am probably never gonna be at the stage of familiarity and boredom…there is so much to learn, to evolve, as a writer. This is just the beginning, for something which will never¬†end¬†since I will never stop learning as a writer.

Most of the time, while I am doing the household tasks, I enter into my fantasy world and start thinking about story ideas and plots. Most of those never make it to the paper. They just keep developing in my mind and stay there. Some are even lost. There are others¬†which reach to the point of getting acknowledged in the form of a Word doc, but just lay there unfinished and unattended. But I write them because I know I will use them sometime in the future; even if I don’t, they help me in finding new ones and they serve as a practice for something I want to write about.

And most of the times, those stories that never make it to end or sharing with others, were actually not meant to be for that purpose. My stories give me a sense of relaxation which people usually find when they share with the closest of friends or with a therapist. I have my own counselor, always with me. I never need to take an appointment, I do not bother about the time limit, and I don’t have to care about the fees ūüėČ I have a very fulfilling relationship with writing.

Long back, when I wrote very rarely, I found the same fulfillment in reading. Sometimes, when I had nothing to read and I needed some therapy, I would read even my course books! Sometimes, I used to wonder if I was crazy, living in a fantasy world and finding contentment sharing with books, rather than with people. But it turned out well in the end. And I am still a lover of books, though my preference has changed a lot over the years and I no longer read any academic books to feel better ūüėČ Though I still read my daughter’s coursebooks sometimes, curious about what they teach now and how it is different. Though I prefer reading in English, I do love Hindi books as well, especially stories by Premchand. I am a true lover!

But now, I have two loves…writing joined the race long back, when I was just 10…but it was a close second always. Now, I cannot differentiate. So here I am, the lucky one, who found love, not once but twice. A love affair that never goes stale, partners that never become boring, activities that never become routine…and love that is different and better every day!

…in every field of work to make success happen is – to do what you love to do! The one secret ingredient is – love!

I have read many many¬†books, blogs, articles, stories about how some one succeeded, what worked for them etc. I appreciate these people sharing the tips with the rest of us (of course, the lucky ones make success and money, even from sharing stuff!). But the underlying message everywhere is the same – do what you love to do. Or to say the reverse, I am yet to find anyone who succeeded doing something they didn’t love to do. And I am not talking about having a decent job and¬†some money and a good existence. I am talking about the success as in being happy about yourself and your life every single day, if not in¬†every single moment.

If you think about it, most of us who are not struggling with major health, financial or personal issues, are successful. If you compare, you will find that there are many people who have much less than you. But I am not talking about that. I am talking about living your ideal day Рevery day. For example, I would want my day to start with writing and coffee! I picture myself engrossed in writing in the early hours of morning, congratulating myself for writing about 200-300 words before the start of the day, when my little angels come rushing to me, kiss me good morning while my husband smiles at me and asks how long I have been up. This is the start of my ideal day and the other part has many such moments. That is what success means to me.

What does success mean to you? I am really happy for you if you are one of those few people who are really content with what they have and are capable of living their whole life being satisfied at all levels – health, emotional,¬†financial etc. I would love to learn from you. But if you are like the less content ones like me, who want more from their life than what they have, here is the mantra. I repeat – just do what you love! Everything else will fall into place –¬†you will find¬†opportunity (or opportunities), you will get lucky, you will deal with the obstacles, you will learn to stand up for your dreams, you will be alive! Just put lots of love into your dream, and go for it.

One of my favorite quotes: “I’m going to succeed because I think I’m crazy enough to think I can.”

Sometimes, you feel so low as if your heart is sinking and you want to take it out and smash it into small pieces and throw them away so that you cannot feel anything again. What do you do in those moments – cry, scream, go quiet, get angry? It seems like the end of the world, and you are lost trying to understand what would make all the pain go away.

My husband shared a beautiful story with me that talks about pain…it might help:

http://www.higherawareness.com/growth-tools/become-a-lake.html

Easier said than done, I know. Every pain and sorrow that we feel seems to be big while we always have the solutions to other people’s problems. Once my uncle had said to me, “Always remember this. Your loved ones can sympathize with you when you are in pain, they might even help & support you; but it is only you that has to bear the pain.” The words keep resonating in my head and I understand that no one can feel my pain, but at least I can seek support and help from those who care. After all, wouldn’t I do my best for someone I loved in the same situation?

It is not easy to bring out the positive thoughts when you are facing something that you feel is a big problem. But that’s exactly what defeats the problem. If you can gather the will inside you to tell yourself that though you accept it is a problem (and a big one!) yet you will do your best to deal with it, the problem loses its hold on you. And you can pave the way for the hero inside you.

Remember all the stories about people who have fought back in worse situations and emerged winners? Some of those stories must have left a mark on you and are still fresh in your mind…then, revisit them. Think of those people.

Sometimes, just getting away from the scene helps. Go to a different place and look at different things – maybe the busy road outside your office. Just observe¬†for a moment how everyone is rushing by and not looking at anything but the way ahead. Do you see the young dog running by here and there and trying to cross the street? Or the beggar sleeping on the roadside, oblivious to his tethered clothes and the hot sun over his head?¬† It is amazing how when you start to observe¬†the things around you with much interest, your mind doesn’t brood any more about the problem at hand and you might even find a solution after it is relaxed and refreshed.

Read the following inspirational quotes:

“All things grow with time, except grief.”
“Some lessons in life are best learned through pain and grief.”
“The darker the night, the brighter the stars. The deeper the grief, the closer is God.”
So whatever bothers you and keeps you stressed, just remember that you will get through it and you will emerge a winner as you know its true…that a hero lies in you…

My Books

Read the review Love No More (Love, It Is!)

Read the review Love, It Is!

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