Friday, November 14, 2014

Leap of faith

While piecing your past together as if it was a jigsaw puzzle, you may come across a few pieces that are blank and don't fit anywhere or there would be a couple of colourful pieces that you wouldn't find the space for them to fit in.

You may be standing at a point and wondering how did I reach here? But, your mind refuses to budge even to share the memories of the journey. If it is a sad point you feel it is ok and try to start a new journey or start afresh. But, if it is a happy point people around would like to know about the journey and the only answer you can think of is “I don't know, it just happened”.

If you are attempting to tell a fictional story it is easier to be convincing as you gloss over a few facts and convey something like leap of faith, the person being at an happy point got lucky, and he/she may have worked hard. But, he/she was at the right place at the right time and got lucky.

In real life, what seems like a happy or successful point externally may be full of turmoil and turbulence internally. And, this success could be the outcome of the darkest period spent by the person in his/her life.

The challenge is to draw a picture of life juxtaposing all these without making it look messy or cringey (not sure if it is the right word). Most of the times I fail to do it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Blade of Grass

No widespread roots, shoots or even leaves.

No erect trunk or branches that can bear fruits.

No shrub can flourish in my shade.

Being just a blade of grass.

That can be crushed by a tiny feet.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

No Looking Back by Shivani Gupta

My review of this book has appeared in the Jul - Sep 2014 issue of Success & Ability.

I have always felt lucky to be born disabled. No, it is not because of the privilege that I have been looked after by people from the time I was a baby till well into my forties as if I haven’t grown up, as some friends like to joke. But, it is because I have seen a few people (who are my friends now) becoming wheelchair-users in their prime, they all have been brave and somehow surmounted the ordeal. The latest addition in this list of friends is Shivani Gupta. I had heard a lot about her as an award-winning crusader for the disabled.

But, when I heard about a book on her life on the social media, I felt a little sceptical as we Indians are not good at saying it as it is in writing at least in writing. Yet, I got the book without being sure that I will ever finish reading it. And, to my surprise I was visualising the author’s life without knowing that I had started turning pages (though I was reading an ebook).

What happens when the dreams of a twenty-two year old girl’s dreams are crashed in a car accident. Obviously, the fact would take time to sink in, and, it would be a painfully slow. The realisation that your life has gone topsy turvy and things will not be back to normal ever again is hard hitting. You may find Shivani’s life story familiar to some extent, as it covers medical negligence and the lack of knowledge in the medical staff to deal with her case.

For me, the book really begins when Shivani starts describing things after the rehabilitation (meaning that she had accepted being a wheelchair user). She dwells on matters that we in India tend to brush under the carpet or gloss over. The family is believed to be sacrosanct here, especially if you are disabled they become your support system. Shivani tells us about the issues between her father and her helper about how to take best care of her that made her wish to get out of the protective umbrella of the family. She achieved this when she gets a job as a peer counsellor at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (where she herself was treated) and she started living on the premises to avoid travelling from home to the centre on a daily basis. The space provided to her was far from comfortable, but, with dogged determination she survived there until she got apartment of her own in the vicinity.

There are more nuggets from her day to day life that endorse her determined outlook and her wish to make everything she went through worth its while.

The other thing that strikes you about Shivani is the audacity with which she talks about her relationship with Vikas, an occupational therapist whom she had met at her place of work. He was a much younger man full of life and passion for his work. He saw a hero in her and their relationship developed into something that would be a taboo even in this day and age. They got romantically involved and their courtship continued for many years before his parents agreed to their marriage. In between they did many interesting things like learning about inclusion and accessibility in foreign lands. Most importantly, they launched an accessibility consultancy and audit firm (not a NGO) AccessAbility, a pioneering thing in India.

But, as luck would have it Vikas lost his life just a few months after the marriage in a car accident. And, this book is Shivani’s tribute to him. In a way, writing this book helped in coming to terms with her loss. A word of caution to the people who read books to experience the flourish of language, this book is not for you as it is plain, simple and to the point.

As the final words, we can say that the book No Looking Back is more about the Art of Bouncing Back.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Don't Suffer

Let the silence in your soul prevail

if it is giving you peace.

And, if the chaos inside is choking you

just blurt out.

Don't suffer.

These lines are playing in my mind for the last few days in a formless way, I couldn't do anything better with them, so just put them down as they came. Maybe it is the result of reading too much about Robin Williams' death.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sunday outing with Aadi - 1st instalment

Never realised that I live in such scenic surroundings

Piety: Removed footwear even while praying metres away from the temple

Nostalgia: Premier Padmini in a roadside workshop

Kerosene stoves & a puttu kutti

Aadi befriending his namesake with a metal body

A tempting signboard - Chembila Appam
I'm using my camera after a long time. Went out for a walk with Aadi (he pushing my wheelchair to be precise). We couldn't go very far as it was cloudy and we had to take shelter once as it rained. More info in the next instalment.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


I like the rhythmic sound that the typewriter makes. The sound of the typewriter marks that I’m making progress or at least doing something worthwhile rather than silently meandering in the world wide web. Yes, I do have a word processor (Focuswriter) that gives the sound effect of a manual typewriter, I use it sparingly as it doesn’t have the polish of the other word processors where if an ‘i’ is used alone it will become Capital I automatically without me using the ‘Shift’ key or the Caps Lock and some such things.

The other good thing about this word processor is the fact you can’t hop on to other applications (like the web browser or anything else that is active) very easily or if only you really want to, I’ve this habit of using the Net while writing to check the spellings or to see if the word I intend to use means the same thing that I wish to convey and even to look if the phrase striking in my mind is correct.

But, I’ve to learn to make optimum use of this and learn to focus more. There should be self-belief, learning to put everything in my head out there without pondering too much.

The sound when I type isn’t rhythmic or tuneful, it sounds more like a magnetic cassette tape that is wound very tight and you hear the songs as if they are sung in slow motion. My fingers don’t fly over the keyboard as that of many skilled typists do, they take a couple of seconds to reach the key even when the mind knows their position very well.

I don’t know the apt conclusion for this as I’d started typing this long back and kept adding or deleting things once in a while. Sometimes, I feel it may be laziness that I don’t type down everything that comes to mind and lot of things go away as time passes.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Living in the moment versus planning for the future

They say life is full of contradictions and the one who can carry these contradictions lightly on his shoulders will be the happiest. Or, should we say that those who can do the balancing act between the given options are the wisest.

One such contradiction is between ‘living in the moment’ and ‘planning for the future’. One set of wise people theorise that living in the moment gives you peace and equanimity. It works in a way to make your mind less anxious or fearful of the things that would happen in the future.

The other theory that says you need meticulous planning to achieve success in life. You should be aware at least at the intuitive level what is coming your way, set your goal and strive hard day in and day out to achieve it. It is an enjoyable process if you see the signs on the way that you are reaching your desired destination.

Most of us just drift through life without paying much attention to these things. And, if we achieve certain degree of success we call it fluke or luck, as if things just fell into place, otherwise we are happy to be where we fit naturally without much effort, without rocking the boat as they would say.

Personally, I have always felt that the proverbial boat has been rocking and I have survived without any major catastrophe by latching on to the faith that one day everything will be fine and I’d sail safely through the sea called life. Yes, I’d thought of a few things to do (don’t know if I can call them dreams), one or two of them turned out to be workable in the long run. Sometime during the last year I started feeling that sailing has become smooth and I’d try to capitalise on this fortune by thinking of doing something big (I was gaining confidence that nothing can go wrong now). But, the feeling of good fortune was short lived as a catastrophe happened earlier this year that shook the foundation of my life, thus pushing me into ‘live in the moment’ gear where I’m really afraid to think about the future beyond the next few hours.

PS: This post is just an attempt to see if I can shift gears and think of planning a course for not so distant future.