If your favourite dress had a heart…

What is your favourite dress? When was the last time you wore it? How many times have you worn it in the last 3 years? Do you own it, use it or do you simply save it? If your favourite dress had a heart – what would it feel – that you never choose to wear it? You always choose to wear other things over it? Would it be angry? Would it be upset?

What about your favourite person? What do you do with them? How are you with them? Do they know that they are your favourite? Do they know that they are “STILL” your favourite? Do they feel they are your favourite by the way you treat them? Or do they also feel left out or discarded like your favourite dress? Or even worse, do they feel you hate them and don’t care for them because of the way to speak to them lately (or don’t speak at all)?

It’s not about what you think of the dress or the person – it’s about how you show that they matter. It’s about how you make them feel good. But even before that, do YOU recognise that they are your favourite?

Your favourite dress might be the most exquisite one and hence you want to safeguard it. But what’s the point if it isn’t used? Unless you consciously make a choice to use it – you may not find the appropriate occasion for it. It is not that you should wear it everyday. But is shouldn’t be that it lies buried in the cupboard never seeing the light of the day – just like your talents, ideas and skills. Whatever it is – use it while you have it. The world isn’t what it is because of lack of good people, lack of good things, lack of talents or lack of goodness. It is what it is because of us, lacking a conscious intent to use all our talents and goodness to make the world a better place. We are mostly unconscious about the most precious gifts that we have. It’s time we change that and be more aware and in tune with the people whom we love, with the precious gifts that we have like air, water, health etc. and utilise the talents and ideas that we have been blessed with for a greater good.

 

 

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What are you fighting for?

When you are not against people, people also cannot be against you. And even if they happen to be, it may not affect you.

Like Gandhiji wasn’t against the British. He was against the British ruling our country. So, he was able to respectfully fight them. In turn, the British too, had a great amount of respect for him.

Doing the right things for the right reasons is important. The conviction, confidence, poise, grace, elegance and consistency come when you are doing the right things for the right reasons.

People are merely reflections of what they have seen. If people don’t know how to be any better, then they haven’t seen any better. So, it is time for you to show them by being better so that they may be inspired to learn. It doesn’t mean let people walk all over you. Like Gandhiji fought for the country’s freedom. But he did it in a way that makes the nation look up to him as the Father of the nation. He showed them by being gracious but didn’t give up on what’s important to him. Be it civil disobedience, Satyagraha, non-cooperation, Swadesi products or any of these movements, there was a graceful, yet assertive way in which he stood for what he valued. Pulling them down wasn’t his objective. Making India a free nation was his objective.

So, you aren’t fighting against evil. You are fighting for what’s good. In the process you may be removing evil, but strengthening the good is the focus.

Don’t make people pay for their sins. How do you know whats the appropriate amount to be paid – how do you know what’s the end point of it? It’s not like a balance sheet. It never is.

Only if I am not confident or know my self worth, I will be swayed by what people think of me or speak of me. I can’t determine how people are towards me but I can definitely,  and most certainly define how I am towards myself. My happiness isn’t and doesn’t have to be so fragile that it will be determined by what or how others are towards me. And it doesn’t have to determine how I will be towards them either.

 

Pandit Birju Maharaj – Where words end, dance begins!

I had the pleasure and privilege of watching the Kathak Maestro, Pandit Birju Maharaj perform live yesterday! And what a treat it was! The show was supposed to start at 6pm. At 5.45pm I saw the legend walk in – before time! Dressed in simple and elegant Indian Kurta-Pyjama and an overcoat, he looked like an epitome of grace and humility. He responded warmly as the crowd greeted him. When someone clicked a photo of him without his permission, he graciously paused and posed. I saw a sense of regret and apology on the person who was trying to click his picture without his permission – when she noticed the gracefulness that the maestro demonstrated despite that. I thought to myself, that’s what legends are made of! A capacity to transform people just by being a great example of what they wish to see in others. I saw him walk in with a walking stick – and I admired his spirit to be there. When I read that he would be performing, a part of me wondered how.

Inside the auditorium, they had made announcements to not click photographs or take videos. However, some people still tried that and the organizers gently came and requested people to not do so. I was impressed with how they handled it. And I was wondering what has to happen for humans to respect the privacy of others and maintain it. It looks like we can’t enjoy anything in life unless we click a picture of it.

Anyway, after two and half hours of performances, the maestro finally came on stage. The energy in the crowd changed. He had been speaking a few words here and there before that, and he stole the hearts of the audience with his simplicity and humour. He humorously spoke about the clothes that people currently wear in the movies these days – how sometimes they forget stitching fully and leave big holes in between, how sometimes the cloth is just not enough to cover the body etc. The audience was laughing. He mentioned that when he is invited to teach someone in the film fraternity for a movie, his first question is – “Kapde acche pehan rahe ho na?” (You are wearing good clothes (in the song), aren’t you?). Well, the way he said it, with kindness and humour (not with any judgement), I loved that. I don’t know if I have been able to do justice in capturing all that here in the writing. To talk of something without condemning others is a wonderful skill.

So, when he came on stage, first we heard a fantastic poem that he had written on Radha and her mischief – which was beautifully expressed and rendered by his disciple, Saswati Sen. When we thought that was great, the 79 year old maestro took us by surprise. He took to stage and swept us off our feet. He danced, or shall I say he lived the dance. For him, everything is a dance. He spoke about simple things in life like writing a letter, talking to a friend etc and transformed them into magical dance moves. It was like as if everything about life could be expressed through dance. And even the simplest of things looked great when it was thus, expressed.

While everyone else danced beautifully, he poured life into dance gracefully. It appeared as though he lives to dance, he lives in dance and he lives for dance. In 3 sentences, he depicted 3 stages of life – childhood, adulthood and old age. And in 15 seconds, he showed those 3 stages in a manner that we will never forget. What expressions! What elegance! What grace! What joy! He even expressed thunder, lightning and peacock dance through dance. You name anything, he can weave it into a dance. For him, life is a dance.

I felt proud to be an Indian as I walked out of the auditorium last night. The colours, the vibrancy, the culture, the art, the dance, the humility – Wow! Truly, we are one of a kind! The more we live on these and the more we revive these, the more we may find the beauty of our existence. My gratitude to him and all the great proponents of Indian arts and culture for keeping it alive and inspiring us.

 

Feel the freedom of life!

Why would you worry about being shattered, if you can rebuild yourself

Why would you worry about people’s judgment, if you can be kind to yourself

Why would you worry about recognition, if you realize how good you are

Why would you worry about losing someone, if you know to trust yourself

Why would you worry about something going wrong, if you believe you can make it right

Why would you worry about failing, if you are willing to learn from your failures

Why would you worry about future, if you are confident of your present

Why would you worry about falling, if you have the courage to rise every time

Why would you worry about growing old, if you are content with yourself

Why would you worry about dying, if you are living every moment

Why should fear hold you down, if you can touch the skies with faith!

Keep the faith! Trust yourself! Reach for the skies!

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To special people who make us feel special

2012 – I went home for my birthday. Daddy was very excited. He always was about any of our birthdays – be it my mother’s, sister’s or mine. It meant a lot to him. He’d do anything and everything to ensure we had a great birthday. I remember when I was a kid I used to invite friends for my birthday almost a year in advance, dream of what kind of cake would I get, how many chocolates to buy etc. Clothes were the best part – Daddy used to get me the most exquisite dresses from the best of places. I remember one of my birthdays he got me a beautiful golden brown frock that I absolutely cherished for years. Every time I wore it, even strangers would stop to compliment me. I had my first Puma shoes when I was 3 years old. I had matching pink shoes for a pink frock. The best part was I never had to ask at all. Daddy used to get us the best of stuff during all his travels. I used to be so excited when I knew Daddy was coming home and used to literally wait for him at the doorstep so I could tell all my stories and also excited about what would come out of his suitcase. He always had something for us. Something awesome!

Anyways, back to my birthdays. It used to be like the most special festival for him. I had a guitar cake, Mickey Mouse cake, turtle cake, house cake and what not. So when I grew up, and started studying and working, being away from home, I used to always head home for my birthday. Because I love to see the delight in Daddy’s eyes trying to do everything to make me feel super special. I wouldn’t miss that for anything in the world. My Mom would make specials, he’d go shopping and get my favorite food, invite people over or take me out somewhere, buy me the best of clothes – ah! What a special time! Why would I ever miss that? So, until 2012, I was with Dad and Mom for all my birthdays. 2013, I couldn’t go home because I had to go for a training. 2014, I decided to not make a big deal of my birthday so I had a very lonely and quiet birthday in Bangalore. And then life struck a different chord. Suddenly Daddy fell ill and by end of 2014, he moved on. 2015, on my birthday, I felt bad – I was looking at the old pictures of my last birthday with him in 2012. If only I knew that I wouldn’t have any more such chances to see the delight in my Dad’s eyes, I would have perhaps rushed home for my birthday on 2014 too and spent it with the person I love the most and the person who loves me the most.

Likewise, his birthdays were the biggest festival for me too. No matter where I was and what was happening, I always went home for Daddy’s birthday. Nothing in the world was more important. I’d wait for this festival all year round – planning and dreaming of how to make it special. I remember I stayed up all night blowing 50 balloons for his 50th birthday. On another one, I gave him a surprise by coming home from Mumbai, early in the morning, even before he woke up. When I wished him, he thought it was my sister and turned around. Imagine his surprise when he saw me standing there. He jumped out of his bed and was super thrilled. The entire day, whoever called to wish him, he kept telling them, “Narmada came all the way from Mumbai to give me a surprise at 5.30am.” And each time he said that, I loved the delight in his voice. There was only one birthday that I missed of his in my life and I sent him a very special something that day. As soon as he received it, he sent me a message saying, “You are mad, in a sweet way :).” I had a big smile on my face when I read that. I saved the message.

Today I know Daddy is around me somewhere. While the body is gone, the soul lives on forever. But I miss seeing the twinkle in Daddy’s eyes when he wished me. I miss his charming voice – and the wonderful, elaborate, heartfelt words he used to say to wish me the best of everything in life on that day and always. I miss the excitement he used to generate to do so many things on my birthday. I miss his excellent choice in selecting the best of dresses for me (he never bought me 1; he always bought me multiple dresses for any occasion). I miss the warmth and positivity that he exuded. I miss the way he made me feel like I am his little princess – not just on my birthdays but every day! He always used to say festival is anytime when we are together. And he ensured we stayed together amidst all the transfers. It was only at a much later stage in life when I had to go elsewhere to study and to work. But I used to go home every other weekend. We couldn’t stay without seeing each other for too long. When I went back to my place of stay and called Dad to say I reached, the first thing he used to ask was, “Nana when are you coming again?” And we both would start planning my next trip. 🙂 He believed that people may forget what we say, but they never forget how we made them feel. He always made me feel loved with his kind and gentle presence. Never a foul word or a bad temper. Pleasantness personified. I was always fascinated by him and I wish to be like him.

For some strange reason, last year November 16th, I began drawing a Disney princess and wanted to write on it, ‘Daddy’s little princess’. I just started coloring it, when I got a call from Mom that he had a fall and was badly injured. I was in tears and rushed to the airport and reached the hospital. The wind-down started and in 45 days, he left his body. Life is full of strange signs and signals. I thought I’ll write about how I miss my Dad on my next birthday in 2016. But then I thought what about others who may be having their birthdays between now and my next birthday? What if my message goes out a tad too late for someone else? What if you have someone very special in your life and you have a special day coming up, and you are wondering what to do? What if this story could play a role in influencing that decision? Because we always choose to learn from each other’s experiences, we can make better decisions before life calls ‘the end’ on either.

Below is a picture of those brightly lit up eyes and that million dollar smile of my handsome Dad on my birthday. Priceless isn’t it?!!

Dad n Me