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.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Visit

He came to me once again last night.

Not sure whether it was to refresh the memory

of a sweet pain.

Or he wanted me to know that the future still holds

something worth living for?

Or he just wished to give me courage to say I love you

once more?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Soulmates and other such things

When you have ample time in your hands you tend to finish reading every book that you start reading. In the last one week I’ve read two books by Dr. Brian Weiss, Many Lives, Many Masters was with me for many years and I completed it only last week. I wasn’t very impressed by it and wrote so in my FB page (a book that basically talks about ‘the soul is eternal’ kind of things). Then a friend suggested that she liked his Only Love Is Real. So, I got it and finished it in less than two day.

The book with the tagline ‘A Story of Soulmates Reunited’, furthers the theory of regression into past lives through hypnotism to solve the psychological problems of current life as propagated by the author in his first book. Here he goes ahead telling the story of two of his patients Elizabeth and Pedro, not knowing each other in this life, coincidently turned out to be real soulmates in their past lives and how they reunited in this life with little nudging from their psychiatrist.

There are other things repeated here, the lessons from the Masters like Love and Forgiveness help the soul to progress and negative emotions like anger, jealousy, hatred etc stall the progress and other such ho hum.

Surprising this book brought back the memory of me using the Ouija Board (some 15-20 years back), with the help of a few friends who believed in it, to know if the girl I loved at that time reciprocated my feelings. The friends who were there had warned me not to be depressed if the result was negative and I was allowed only two questions. And, you can guess the result of that exercise as I’m still (un)happily single, yet scared to mingle.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Shield

Just a few days back I'd written something about the benefit of hindsight. But, the prominence of that phrase has started sinking in only now as it is going to be a fortnight since my dad passed away and to get over the grief and to soak up my  tears I am making futile attempts to remember the tiffs, fights, grudges etc. that I had with or against him, but somehow they do not sustain beyond a few seconds and soon they are overlapped by happy and positive memories that make the other things look frivolous.

One incident that comes to my mind happened when I went to write my Final year B. Com exam in a college as a private student (i.e. someone who studies sitting at home or attending private classes and goes to college just to write the final exams). That year the college had appointed a new person as the in-charge of Examination, who obviously wasn't familiar with my needs. So, when he saw my dad carry me inside followed by my scribe, he refused to make me sit in my usual seat in the library or any other place on the ground floor saying that the other students writing exams will get disturbed or they would write whatever I dictated to my scribe. He made dad carry me up to the second floor searching for an empty classroom. I could sense that he was panting and sweating profusely, this made me upset and I told him if they make you carry me any further I don't want to write the exam. He was in an unusually upbeat mood that day and told me just to think of the paper that I was going to write and leave the rest to him, adding that he had the strength to carry me to the terrace of the building.

Luckily things cooled down and from the next day I was provided a seat in a corner in the library.  Now, if I think about it I feel that I wouldn't have graduated if my dad had mentioned he was tired or fed up of the circus that he was made to do with me.

There are many more such incidents where dad proved to be my shield or saviour when the whole world seemed to be against me, yet he never boasted about the greatness of his action or made me feel that he had done something extraordinary for my sake.

PS: you can read more about my dad here,  here,  and see his one more picture here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cadbury Shots – for Pappa

I miss the Cadbury Shots and other assorted candies
that you popped into my mouth as soon as I settled in the auto
after work.

You for me were never the celebrated hero that people make you out be;
just because you made a man out of a son like me.
Never ever you indicated that it was something out of the ordinary.

As Preachers say Life must go on
and I promise you that I'll do my best to cope without you.

But, wherever you are, be sure that you're missed here Pappa.

Friday, February 07, 2014

One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

I haven't updated this space for a long while now. There are not many reasons or excuses for that except for lethargy or laziness. Some posts die in my head while in formation stage itself and a few die after I have jotted ('typed' would be the right term here) down a few lines or even words. And, as I'm thinking about it now I feel that writing about life when it is happening, it is better to write about something with the benefit of hindsight.

But, this post isn't about any happening or an event in my life, it is just about a book that I recently read (I may be wrong as 'reading' also can be a happening or an event), One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf. It is a book for anyone who loves fast paced books with some depth and multi-dimensional characters, and also for those interested in creative writing as such. It shows you how to structure a narrative interestingly by revealing a mystery on every page, peeling off a layer from the characters to show the motive behind their action.

An unidentified assailant with a gun enters a school in a fictitious small town called Broken Branch, Iowa State, USA and makes a classroom full of third graders hostage along with their teacher. The story goes on to show how the school, police, parents and the town in general reacts to the situation. The tale is weaved from the perspective of five characters directly effected by the incident; Holly, a burn victim recuperating in a hospital in Arizona. Her two children Augie and P. J are under the care of her father and are the students of the ill-fated school. Augie, a teenager, who had to shift school mid-term because of her mother's accident. Mrs. Oliver, the teacher in the class that is taken hostage. Meg, a single mother and police officer in Broken Branch, whose child Maria is the student of the same school, but, has taken a day off before the spring vacation to spend some time with her dad Tim. And, finally Will, a farmer and the grandfather of Augie and P. J.

As this intricate and intense story moves forward from character to character and from first person to third person format we get to see how interconnected small communities are and an untoward incident effects every single person in the locality.

For me, the vividly etched mind-scape of Mrs. Oliver and teenager Augie worked wonderfully as it showed how two persons of different ages and different mentality act similarly in a given situation. And, I'm sure Mrs. Oliver will remind you of your best loved teachers.

A line from this book that will stay with me is: “the easiest way to save face is to keep the lower half shut”.

PS. With this I shun the romantic notion that you need to smell the paper to enjoy a book. For me e-books are convenient to handle physically as I don't have to hold them and turn the pages. I doubt if I'd have finished reading this book it was in physical form.