Thursday, 28 November 2013

A Brighter Sun

The world, in the words of my father, has become ruthlessly unkind. As if nature's nature has suffered such unforgivable betrayal from its most promising limb - humankind, that at times it seems that it is no more concerned about our survival. The anguish is mutual for we too have surrendered our entitlements from it without a question. Factions, greed, communalism, selfishness have vanquished what once used to be our distinguishing marks, and in turn the human race and the facade of its character. Life seems to be on a course to come a full turn to the short brutish type that it used to be in times ancient. Men kill at the drop of a hat and have flown miles from the cradle of mother nature. We have become inexplicably self centred and unconcerned about the greater good of the greater number, the very essence of social cohesion.

Hope, notwithstanding extreme aridity, is also man's disposition and in its reaping I trust that we can salvage the future. I am heavily relying on the redeeming adage that "It's never too late". That we are capable of rising above our temptations, our own self, our greed and our hostilities. That we are equipped with the moral fiber to think beyond us and our comforts. We are endowed with the angelic share of composition to sacrifice, to be selfless, to accommodate and to love. 

Take a look at Project Sunlight.

For our children. For tomorrow.

Sunday, 24 November 2013


What do I seek in the darkness
Under the starry firmament,
Wakeful for nights endless,
When into bossomy imaginings other are lent
What do I adore in the aching
Of loneliness bequeathed from ages,
Pending with the very breath,
Which inside me rages

What baits me into its fold,
Veiled as it is imperceptible
Awaiting my notice it lurks bold,
Utterly vague yet throbbing n' formidable

What wanes alongside the moon
That I forget the question too soon
Before I know the cause of it all
It picks on my restless soul

Feeding for eons on my vanity
Now like a silent climax
Like a torrid necessity
I keep at it bereft of sanity

Monday, 18 November 2013

Expect Still..

                   Stung by disappointment so many times, that I preferred not to count anymore, I always held on to my expectations. For that I've been called insane as I've been branded self destructive. Yet I nurtured innate faith in my expectations and the threads that bound me in short lived yet fulfilling relationships. My closest friend is of the firm opinion that man should expect less and less in relationships, to escape disappointment and misery. He would quote ancient adages to justify his thinking. He would cite those with scholarly perfection and conviction. I enjoy no such advantage. For I believe in the contrary. I trust my expectations. This I say despite having endured bitter anguish because of my expectations. I have trusted, been betrayed, trusted again only to be betrayed again. Perhaps I am an incorrigible believer in man's characteristic of living upto expectations, despite an overwhelming statistics disclosing the opposite.

                  I don't enjoy expectating and not having my expectations met. It hurts like hell. Tearing me into pieces beyond my own fathoming. I had a harrowing time when I expected in love. Those endlessly agonizing nights of resisting hopes pitted against a gullible and fanciful adolescent heart ever willing to drown in the tides of dreams and desires. I knew that I should not have waited, yet I waited piously and at times purposelessly. You know, I fell for my highschool friend, expecting her to love me back in the same fierceness that I loved her. Was I my expectation misplaced ? I cannot deny that if I hadn't expected so, my life thence would have been different. But doesn't it sound too mechanical to be in love and not expect anything, simply because there's a proverb confirming that expectation might lead to misery. In fact, when my friend came to know of my feelings, she said she would love back but never actually did. I expended the tender years of my youth in endless waiting for her love to become a reality. I expected her to recognize my affections, to respect them and to love me back, to keep loving me forever. Was that unnatural on my part ? I eventually realized that she is never going to love me. That I will only be a friend to her. That's the bitter sweet limit of my share in her priceless heart. I couldn't forsake our bond, yet could not endure being around her knowing that I'm not looked upon by her the way I look at her. In a matter of days she confided in me about her budding emotions for a senior year guy. They are married today. 

                     In those days of relentless torment that I underwent, there came a point in time when I realized that there's nothing wrong to expect. It's amazing now to recall how then the whole of my existence used to be wrapped under the tentacles of pain on one hand, and yet, my mind, free and hoping, would surrender to the addiction of that hope on the other. I reckon, in retrospect, that if I hadn't expected then, I would have dwindled away into nothingness. It didn't matter that I was expecting the improbable, may be even the impossible. What mattered was that my expectations kept me afloat, when I had every reason to sink. I don't regret a moment of those days of loving or waiting or hoping. Nor do I regret having expected in the midst of tantalizing truth. I trusted her. Trust came to me naturally, instinctively. I wanted to trust, I felt like trusting. Therefore I trusted. 

                      Layers of reconciliation later, when I lost my heart again I (or atleast I felt I did) I met with the exact repetition of my past fate. I expected, I fancied - mountains and hills, snow capped, home in meadows, belongingness, roses and daisies, guiltless moments, eternity - only to be asked to let go. This time the pain wasn't as excruciating as it was the first time around. But that's obvious. The point is, despite almost a sacred truth of life that expectation is highly likely to land you up in agony, I believed in expecting. I'm not being hypocritical since I have endured enough to earn the right to claim that belief. Moreover, I never memorized the rules of life, the wisdom of sages and the list of wise men's words whenever I have walked into relationships. I simply bond. And when I bond I feel more human than I ever do. And its human to trust, to expect, to want, to desire. Stripped of these basal values, no man would be human nor any bond would exist in relations. Let's not give up on the traits that make us the loving, doting, suffering, redeeming creatures that we are. Giving up on these is like being afraid of being human. Life, we know, is not only roses. Relationships too come with their unique thorns, sharpened further by expectations and hopes. Let these thorns sting you. Endure the pain. Wipe the tears that follow. Smile when the pain is gone. There is no fun if we constantly plan out what's going to unfold in a relationship and take 'precautions', like 'not expecting' . Take with open hands what life gives you. More importantly, whatever you take, do not let that blind you to the awesomeness that the future might hold for you. Take a leap of faith or perhaps practice leaping with faith.                                                     

               These unique life experiences will count when we lie on our deathbeds recalling our journey. When we see through the past, remembering what a colourful canvas it is. Full of myriad events, joys, miseries, expectations, disappointments, fulfillments, anticipation, endurance. Not one which is manoeuvred to suit our preferences without surprises, pleasures, difficulties, victories, losses, sorrows. Only a bland display of thought out occurrences. Where's the life in that ?

                  No matter what your expectations get you into, expect still.

Sunday, 17 November 2013


"It is beneficial to remember that man being a creation of nature, will seek his source of sustenance from nature alone. Any deviation will tantamount to interference in the grand scheme."

                                                                                                                              - Grandma

             I would like to believe that my grandmother has already assumed a beautiful life form somewhere. Nature has probably immortalized her kind soul in the firmament above as a shining star looking down upon her descendants with her protective vision. A child of nature herself, she spent her life with utmost reliance on nothing but agents and forces of nature for guidance and healing. She has left behind a legacy of traditional practices and inculcation of faith in nature's power for the entire family to follow. I have learnt so much from her, about the value of natural growth and healing that it's only befitting for the present purpose, that I share my learnings here. We often discussed Ayurveda as a potent alternative to modern day chemically synthesized products.

                As long back as I can remember, the first time I heard her educating us was perhaps when I was in my fourth standard when she readily discouraged the popular perception that advertised health drinks had anything good to do with my growth. Worried by my relatively slow growth rate, my mother must have found the answer to her worries in the alluring TV commercial health / growth drinks. That too when men wearing doctor's apron sold them with tacit guarantee. Granny laughed off the idea and scribbled down the names of a couple of vegetables and fruits and handed out the note to my mother with instructions to ensure that I regularly ate those. She looked at me and lovingly advised me to remain actively indulged in sports at school. I grew alright. Later when my sister was born, granny took precautions. She was scathingly averse to administration of synthetic products of non natural origins, howsoever popular, to babies and children. Therefore she declared in no uncertain terms that no synthetic baby oil, lotion etc shall be used on her granddaughter. Alternatively, she ensured that she was massaged properly with warm oil and her bathing water was well cleansed with familiar looking herbs with soothing scent. Granny had her own people who brought her the required stock of herbs and shrubs from some far off place. Fortunately for my sister, ayurvedic tonics had gained prominence for their usefulness among children, by the time she was five. She thus had the benefit of ayurvedic warm oil massage during her infancy and the advantage of ayurvedic tonics to enhance her overall mental and physical development. One look at our adolescent photographs and the difference between our physique tells easily. It was pretty reassuring to know that when my cousin's daughter was born a few years back, grandma let her use Dabur Lal Ayurvedic Baby Massage Tail , even though she normally disapproves use of anything purchased from market, on babies. She had a good hard look at the bottle from all sides, strained her bespectacled eyes on the ingredients list, poured the contents on her palm and took a long deep smell of the oil and handed the bottle back to my cousin with a smile. Baby massage has considerable benefits for the infant. It calms the baby and ensures that he gets a sound sleep. Proper massaging of baby improves his digestive system and helps in the release of flatulence. A good oil massage helps babies to be more flexible and even increases the blood circulation in their bodies. No wonder massaging augments growth in babies.

            Many years later when I got curious about the source of her knowledge and started hunting for some secret diary of my granny, I actually stumbled upon a journal which was full of tips and notings regarding a number of, what seemed like, ayurvedic and other natural sciences. It was in those pages that I found out that my sister was being given, during her infancy, something known as 'Abhyanga' massage oils during her early morning and evening massages. The herbs used for the massage were Country Mallow (Atibala) and Sesame (Tila) for protecting her delicate skin against topical infections. The soothing herbs which were being put in her bathing water were herbal extracts such as Banyan Tree (Vata) and Sandal (Chandana) that are full of fragrance and antimicrobial properties. There was a highlighted line in the same page where I discovered this information. It read that such massage also ensures proper growth in children. When I took the diary to my grandmother she closed the book and started speaking. From that day onwards we often discussed Ayurveda and the healing power of nature especially for babies and children.

               There is a specific branch of Ayurveda, 'Kaumarbhritya', dedicated to diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to pregnancy, childbirth and pediatrics. It recommends specific diet, routine, nourishment and conduct for women before, during and after delivery. 'Kaumarbhritya' as a discipline of pediatrics incorporates infinitesimal details of various health disorder among children. It gives various natural and herbal remedies to the regular health ailments of a newly born baby. Furthermore it concerns itself with the proper method of nurturing and healthy upbringing of infants as well as purification and improvement of mothers' milk. Apart from this, it also prescribes the ideal diet for newly born babies upto sixteen years of age. Ayurveda recommends milk as a brilliant nourishment for “ojas” in children. (Ojas denotes the substance that connects the mind to the body and consciousness, it is a wholesome biochemical substance that nourishes all body tissues and has a direct influence on the nature and quality of physical, mental and emotional life.) There are many preparations in Ayurveda that work as antioxidants. Combination of honey and ginger is one of them. Raw organic honey helps to expectorate excess mucus and ginger juice maintains ‘Agni’ or so called digestive fire. A daily teaspoon of this combination can prevent common flu, cold, and allergies; one can also add a pinch of turmeric. The appropriate dose of fresh and green or wholesome foods is indispensable for children. Feeding children with nutritious meals is helpful for their healthy growth. Food such as vegetable soups, hot cereals, jams and kitchari provide nutrients that are easily digested. It is necessary to introduce small pinches of digestive spices such as fennel, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric and coriander to remove toxins from body. Every child is born with his own uniform percentage of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha. While vayu denotes wind and pitta signifies bile, kapha stands for phlegm. The key lies in maintaining equilibrium amongst these three elements.

               Today when the market is flooded with medicines (allopathic) for all kinds of ailments, it should be the endeavour of parents, in my opinion, to ensure that their children are administered less and less allopathy. Ayurvedic products are a brilliant source of treatment, enrichment, nourishment and could perhaps be used as an efficient alternative for Allopathy, atleast in case of common ailments like common cold, flu, etc. in children. It is in the larger interest of children that they should be given nature based treatment. They have no side effects and are tested by generations preceding ours. I remember the elders of my family always advocated the use of ayurvedic products instead of chemical based or synthetic products. Instead of running to the nearby pharmacist at the first sneeze, parents should see if the body of their child heals itself naturally. As that would ensure stronger immunity.

                 Ayurveda, to my understanding is the sum total of nature. It is believed that since all the elements of the universe are assimilated in man, the answer to his difficulties must therefore emanate from nature itself. Unlike modern medicine, Ayurveda emphasizes on individual rather than on the disease. Its foundation is based on the maintenance in humans, of equilibrium, of what I have already referred to as the three doshas namely vayu, pitta and kapha. It is indeed interesting that Ayurveda does not stress on these doshas as much as it focuses on forces that cause these substances to be produced in the body. They are the consequence of the assimilation of the fundamental elements in the universe by our sensory organs. They exist in all individual constitutions, in characteristic combinations, endowing each with a unique feature. Ordinarily the human body maintains equilibrium in the functioning of these doshas. As per Ayurvedic belief even virulent germs cannot multiply and produce disease if this equilibrium is maintained in the body. Maintaining good health is as important, as per Ayurveda, as treating diseases.

                  It is often said that things assimilated by a child's body in his formative years will yield dividends likewise in the later days of his life. If this is true then I do not think it should be difficult to choose between chemical based synthetic products and nature based ayurvedic ones, when it comes to deciding which one to allow for our children's bodies. It is time we accepted that mere absence of disease is not health. As parents we should ensure that the mind and body of our babies are nurtured in their early days in such manner that they remain in excellent state throughout their life. It is my personal experience that Ayurveda is a convincing answer in that direction         

Friday, 8 November 2013

Lay me free under sand
A breath then I might catch

For the whole firmament
Has emptied what I seek

Deliver me from her desire
My heart then might beat

For her memories will 
Leave with me........