Friday, December 30, 2011

Pearls of Wisdom

When the world over people were celebrating Christmas, our Sikh congregation here was celebrating the “Prakash Utsavs”, the Guruparvs of birth, of not one but two jewels … the beginning of “prabhaat feris” for the 10th “Guru, Gobind Singh” Ji’s birthday celebrations and for “Satguru Raam Singh ji, Kilewale”. While the birth celebrations of 10th Guru ji’s birthday are still continuing, those for Raam Singh Ji Kilewale concluded with great pomp and show. To involve kids in the rich and splendid heritage, there were various competitions organized where kids showcased their talents and learnt a thing or two. Poetry recitation, shabad kirtan, katha or the story telling, reciting the gurbani … there was a long list for different age groups and for different talents.

We (read yours humbly) thought it would be a good platform for Harjas, my five and a half years old nephew, to learn how to face crowds and overcome stage fears. So, two days before celebrations, we found a short spiritual poetry and helped him learn it. I must admit here that the lines were tough for his age and time was already less. Therefore, the halting recitation was not his fault alone. Time and again, he would ask me the meanings and I would try to simplify the heavy and deep implications of the words his tiny tongue was reciting. I just gave him overview that the poem talks of our shortcomings as a human that we deviate from the good, generous and virtuous paths and are gullible to various vices. So, the Lord should help us cleanse our sins and make us walk on His chosen paths. So on … so forth.

Come the day of his competition. I and my sister took him to the Gurudwara Sahib where the competition was scheduled. We got his name registered among the participants. Till the time his name was not called for, Harjas kept learning the poem. No playing around, no fooling around this time. The moment came. The organizer called out “Harjas Singh Thukral”. He took a deep breath or he held his breath … I could not make out. That was all too fast. He rose from his place, walked up to the stage and faced us. His face red. Was he crying??? He started addressing the crowd. He halted. He spoke, starting all over again. He recited the poem. He halted at the second stanza. I moved my hand to give him pointers. Di prompted the starting words of the line. We wondered if he saw or heard our help. After a second … or was it a minute … it seemed long for a second … he got over the stumbling block. He ended his poem, co-ordinator helped him with the “fateh” and he started coming back to us. Somebody from amongst the organizers stopped him; handed over the gift for participation. He accepted the same and came back and smiled … look, I spoke and I did not forget it. My sister hugged him tight. He showed his gift. And then he came and hugged me. He then told us both that … we will do better next time. More hugs from Di followed on hearing this. Mother’s heart swelling with pride after all J

A few days later, the “prabhat feri” for Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s guruparv came to our locality. All the locality people were collective hosts. There was kirtan, gurbani recitation and then there was “langar” afterwards. All kids were vying for the “langar seva”. Our tiny trot was busy distributing paper plates. When the crowd thinned, and it was time for we organizers to have our share of the langar, we called Harjas over. His response:

“I am doing seva , therefore, do not call me time and again. One must do seva … because …
Kayi Janmaan to haan bhatak riha,
Karo mehar prabhu sang jod deyo ….
(I have been wandering aimlessly since a long time now … taking births and re-births. Lord, have mercy on me now, make me tread your path and help me attain the ultimate liberation by binding my humble self to Your name.) “

The lines that I had taught him in his poem … the one he had spoken in Gurudwara Sahib … the lines where he had taken a momentary pause … the lines which he now remembered not just by heart or by words but with the depth of meaning … the lines well timed and suited to the occasion.

I and my sister were speechless. Plain speechless on hearing these pearls of wisdom from him.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I learnt this from … Fire!!!

“Aarti” time holds me in awe of the light from the wicks soaked in ghee (clarified butter). The flickering “aate wala diya” placed in a big “thaali” splashed generously with rose petals moved clockwise before the deity with hymns playing in the background and focus on the Almighty, eliminating all distractions with the ringing bells, invoking the Supreme to bless us mortals … it is the most picturesque of all rituals. And this “thaali” holds the food for the soul …

The flower petals … the opening of the heart
The ringing bells … warding off distractions and invocations to “Him”
The camphor … burning of the evil desires
The singing and the clapping … the joy you experience
The “thaali” … the tray that holds the offerings … the tray that holds the blessings received.
The lamp … the fire …
                The light of life … Fire … be it the Sun or the blaze … illuminates and teaches us to illuminate our beings like the pious light of the lamp, to fill our lives with the light of knowledge, to be able to see truth and the beauty through that truth, to make our thoughts and actions pure and beautiful.
            Raise … Fire … always rises upwards and teaches us to do the same … by heart, by words and by actions.
            Brightness … Fire … has the power and that power makes it shine bright and bold … teaches us to shine bright on the power of virtues
            Assimilation … Fire … assimilates all that is close to it … wood, gold, or iron … everything … teaches us to become the “samidhaa” … the offering in this sacred fire and get assimilated with the Almighty, become one with the Lord.
            Vast spread … Fire spreads … has a wide reach … Look at the Sun … so many light years away but it is the fire in the Sun that illuminates your days … teaches us to be like the Sun, to be able to help others with our capabilities, to help others to see the light and to make our presence be felt far and wide.
            Struggle … Fire … is born out of struggle … the struggle of clouds, the struggle of water … that give birth to the light … the fire. It teaches to struggle to learn, to grow spiritually, and to be free in every sense and actual sense.
            Altruism … Fire converts the “samidhaa”, the sacred offerings made with devotion and love into pious, powerful and primary elements and returns them back to the devotees. It converts the crude ores to pure gold. It teaches us to use our powers, our resources, and our capabilities in the welfare of all that surrounds us. To self analyze and to burn our impurities.
            Active … Fire … does not rest … when it does, it dies. It teaches us to give up the inertia … to be industrious in order to achieve our goals.

This, they say, is the Vedic Learning from the Fire. And this, I hope has been decently translated by me because the source of all these golden words was a newspaper article in Hindi.

Never really understood why people worship Fire … why Fire finds it way in almost all sacred activities. But now I know. And am I happy that I know? Yes, ecstatic.

Truly, “Learning never ends” … this time it is the Fire … I wonder what it will be next????

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And it is Wednesday again …

Every Wednesday is a day of hope … hope of landing a job of my choice.

Every week, that hope gets trashed.

It is the day when the jobs and career section comes in the newspaper.

So, with prayers in heart, hope in mind and keenness in sight … I grab the newspaper.

Oblivious to mum’s calls for breakfast, oblivious to maid’s requests for not stepping on the wet floor, oblivious to granny telling me to bring over my nephews. Oblivious to everything …

Project job-application begins.

Step 1 – scan the newspaper for the relevant advertisements.

Step 2 – select the ones that are feasible and that I can apply for.

Step 3 – switch on the computer and connect to the net. Bearing up with slow connection, meaningless boot-up scans and launching of various applications with great patience (actually tapping fingers on the keyboard). “Are we a little impatient today?” immediately springs up in my mind. But neither am I a Bella, nor do I have an Edward Cullen to tell me that. So... we move on.

Step 4 – Type the cover letters, check the resume carefully, attach it, re-check the application, re-check the attached file,  type in the mail ids, re-check the mail ids.

Step 5 – Seek the blessing of all the Gods I know by name and others that I do not know by name and click on that “Send” button that holds the fates of my many such applications.

Step 6 – wait … and wait … and wait … and wait … and so on.

Days have turned to weeks, weeks to months. And I am yet to hear a positive response.

That is an exaggeration. I am yet to hear any response. Positive or negative.

No acknowledgements of having received the application and resume.

No telling me that I did not make it to the next round.

No telling me that why I did not make it to the next round.

All that my exercise gives me is a cold breakfast (remember my mum), irritated nephews (remember my gran) and a soiled floor (remember my maid).

It does not hurt to send in applications.  But I should at least get an acknowledgment of receipt.

It is totally acceptable if they find another suitable candidate. But at least they could inform me.

And it is ok to know that they have put aside the application for consideration for other posts or have added it to their database. But should this not be discussed with me?

Courtesy??? Recruiters !!!!

Some days I wonder if they read it at all. Some days I am brimming with hope.

Well, it is Wednesday again … off for my project … with fingers crossed.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Kids at heart

“Harjas, get working on your homework.” “Okay, as soon as this story of Chota Bheem finishes.”

“Harjas, have your lunch.” “Just bring it in, I am watching Chota Bheem.”

“Harjas, why have you spread your toys all over.” “This is Bheem’s Petra town.”

Harjas and Harjas’s Chota Bheem. He eats, sleeps, dreams about him. He loves “Ladoos” because Bheem likes them. He uses old dupattas of my sister and my mother to make dhotis for himself. And the only toys he likes are swords and bows and arrows. Hundreds of time we have tried to wean him off his addiction. Hundreds of time we have failed. My sister and my mother often try ways to keep his mind off his Chota Bheem. While I wander off to my childhood.

Ours was a simple life. No cable connections in that tender age. The only addiction being the “Chitrahaar” every Wednesday 8:00 P.M. and a cartoon section every Sunday that had stories from “Potli Baba Ki”. And they were a must watch. Nothing withstanding.

Then we were introduced to the cable connections. And we were introduced to the Disney Hour, Duck Tales, Tom and Jerry, Alladin, Small Wonder, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, Different Strokes, and The Little Mermaid ….. I don’t think I can ever finish this list. Was I addicted? I definitely was.

I remember working by the clock for the sake of these addictions of mine. The second the clock struck 6:30P.M. (and I meant it too … I would not let the seconds hand on the clock to move on to the next calibration), my pencil would be down. I would not care if I was in the middle of sentence or even if a test was due. Off I would go to the drawing room to watch my serials. I also remember having made great efforts for not missing them. I switched my milk-time to match with the serials and would be sipping my cup for full hour.

Come winters, and we face voltage drops. And watching television was not advisable. We used to connect the tube-lights of our rooms through voltage stabilizers to be able to finish off the daily home assignments. But would I let that come in my way. Definitely not! The stabilizer from our old refrigerator, in fully working condition had been stacked away in the storeroom. I took that out, dusted it and took it to the drawing room. Connected the television through it and soon was lost in that charming world of Jeannie. I would brave an hour of dim bulb light and inclement weather since tube-lights and heaters won’t work. No wonder I now have a high power spectacles to remind me of my adventures.

Today, while the sensible self has learnt many a lessons (which I dutifully share with my nephew), the crazy me is still the same. When, after a lot of prodding and pleading, Harjas agrees to go home and finish off his homework, I dutifully take his seat and get engrossed in the very “Chota Bheem”. And other days I simply tell him that since the channel of Chota Bheem is experiencing technical issues, we will have to watch Tom and Jerry. After all, we all are kids at heart. Are we not??? And I do get him off his Chota Bheem. Purpose solved. J

Saturday, December 10, 2011

No salt please ...

The full moon night … when the moon in all its glory and beauty … adorns the sky. When the night comes alive with the light of the moon. A festival in itself. Auspicious and important.

The full moon night … a time of fasting, a time of praying. Sacrificing. Healing. Both physical and spiritual.

Full moon nights are actually a test. A test of strength. Willpower. Resolve.

And also a test of my affinity to salt. Can I or can I not stay away from the salt whole day.

Fruits in the day, and one meal in the evening.

And, that “one meal” is prepared … without salt.

And, mostly it is that “one meal” that makes up for the abstinence observed whole day. Sometimes I get paranthaas with sooji ka halwa. At other times mother serves the adarak – paneer ki sabzi. The ginger makes up for the lack of salt. It is sweetened paranthas with curd in the hostel. And chapattis with kheer in Gurudwara Sahib.

But, since, I am not so much into fasts and sweets; I falter every now and then. Like the rakshabandhan day in August .. when the tempting rajma ... those little red kidneybeans ... won the battle. The fight had lasted half a day. That was better than the January and February performance. I skipped the fast thing altogether at that time. Ditto for March.

April, May, June, July, September, November, December … I resisted the lure of salt … successfully.

Did I miss October in that list? Yes, I did. Because, I am not sure what to make out of it. I observed the fast whole day. In the late evening, all of us were gathered. I and Harjas were having bananas. His were salted and mine were not. I finished off my share. And somewhere in between eating, talking and listening, I forgot all about fast and picked up a piece from his bowl and ate it. And the taste of salt brought me back to reality.

Some tell me that since this was done unconsciously, my fast stands as complete. Some tell me that it stands broken. All it tells me is that, hunger and salt both have a strong calling. J