December and a New Year

Christmas bench, Lost Lagoon, Vancouver (exposure)_resizeDecember is a funny month. You feel like somehow you owe it to yourself to look back at the year and pay a passing obeisance to it. Regretfully letting go of the time that slipped through your fingers, while searching inward for a glimmer of hope and exuberance about the new year.

I don’t quite remember what December 31 was or January 1 felt like in my school years, or even in college for that matter. At best, the only change it meant was that you wrote a new number at the top of your notebook sheets: “1/1/19##”. It always took me several months before the new year number came automatically to my pen.

(By the way, I’ve never been one for remembering dates or days or months or years actually. Inside my mind, I’m in a perpetual zone – one where time does not change.)

In the years of adulthood, it seems this pressure to remember the year going by and to commemorate it, is much larger. Not going to a New Year’s Eve party? Sitting at home? Not even having a celebratory drink?? Blasphemy!!

I’ve been to New Year’s Eve parties. Okay, “party”. I hated it. It’s the worst thing to find yourself spending New Year’s Eve with strangers you don’t care about. Even if you are with someone who’s important to you, just the whole drink-loud music-dance ambiance throws me off. I sulk. And regret each passing moment. I feel like someone just took away so many moments of my life that had *so much* potential.

Imagine: nestling on the couch at home with a loved one. Watching a romantic movie and getting teary-eyed. Drinking a cup of tea and burying your nose in a book you can’t keep away from you. Standing on a deck somewhere far away and listening to the waves crashing. Burying your toes in slippery sand as tide and froth engulf them, and struggling to hold on. Keeping vigil over a night sky and spotting stars creeping up on you. Sitting on a cold bench and exhaling to see your foggy breath making shapes in front of your face… and then reaching out for a warm silver foil wrapped package of food and taking a bite… flavors exploding in your dry cold mouth while your hungry tummy suddenly decides to be patient.

A few days ago, I did just that btw, the last one. I was in Munich, it was 8 PM and 4 degrees or so, dark and with just a few people milling around the Willy-Brandt-Platz, it seemed like time had slowed down. I remember feeling grateful for the warm food. And the warm clothes. But more so, for the freedom. To sit there on the cold bench, eat hot food and not care about anything else at that moment, not even my own safety – It’s incredibly liberating.

So… New Year’s Eve party? Deafening music? Drunk and obnoxious strangers? No thank you.

2014 was a good year for me. I would go so far as to say it kicked a lot of my previous years in the nuts. Freaking fantabulous.

Two years ago, I read this book called “The Happiness Project“.The author made 12 commandments for herself – a sort of mental compass for guiding her choices and living a more enriching year, and a better, happier life. I was so inspired by the book that I made a set of 10 for myself too, in Dec 2013. Here they are:

1) You’ve got you.

2) Be Light, Be Humorous.

3) Don’t live inside your head.

4) DO stuff.

5) Patience. Time will tell.

6) “Circle of Influence” – Don’t sweat what you have no control over anyways.

7) It’s not THAT important.

8) Be nice.

9) Deposit in relationships.

10) Don’t accumulate. Let go.

Gretchen, the author, often referred to her commandments whenever she needed to make a choice or decide how she felt or what she wanted to do. Oddly, this entire year, I didn’t think about any of these even once. Even though I took several days to put them together last year, deliberating on each and making sure they really resonated with me.

But it worked. I look back at 2014 and remember it as a year when I did a lot of this and more.

Now that calls for a party, yes? 😛

Happy New Year everybody!

P.S. I need to make commandments for 2015. Any suggestions?

P.P.S. I’ve been away at the blog for 19 months. In the past, I would have started this blog by explaining why, but now that I have told you I was having an awesome time, does it matter? 😉

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Happy 2013

It’s a *brand new* New Year, and how I love that feeling of being able to write a new number one fine day :).

For several reasons, 2012 has been a tough year for me, and at the end of it, the most profound realization I carry with me is that nothing in this world can bring me as much happiness as being with and Being ME.

It’s what Kareena says in Jab We Met.

“Main apni Favorite Hoon”

It’s a lovely line, right? :).

Everyone should be their own favorites. And if they aren’t, they should figure out how to get there. And do whatever it takes. After all, YOU’re the only person you spend every moment of your life with!

I’ve spent years on this journey, and it’s not easy. Every day is a new experience. There are new thoughts to distil, new discoveries about myself (not always pleasant :P), and choices to make – not necessarily with enough time to allow you to reflect and choose. And then there are consequences.

As 2012 comes to a close, I realize that there are a few realizations that have helped me make peace with this process and move forward:
~ Negative emotions – fear, anger, sorrow, guilt, regret, helplessness – can make you experience a lesser person than you really are, but can never make you that.
~ Patience is not a virtue, it is a muscle. Exercise it intentionally, and keep it supple. When all fails, patience and the knowledge that time erodes even the biggest mountains – that’s what is going to keep you ticking.
~ Change – yours, and of others – is always voluntary. There is merit in trying to attempt change and being a trigger for change, but… BUT… You need to know when to try, and you need to know when to stop.
~ In the midst of all the evolution and choices and complications of life – it helps to maintain a stock of a few key aspects about yourself that you consider as the Essence of You. Could be anything… something you consider a core value that you live by, or maybe something about yourself that gives you a high… as long as it is what identifies you to you. Every once in a while, take out one of those aspects, have a good long ponder over it, mentally polishing and lovingly going over the feeling of that as you. If it is possible, find new ways to explore the aspect and to engage the energies that it generates inside of you.

I did something such, a few days ago as I was trying out (yet. another. social. networking. platform.) Pinterest. It occurred to me that creating a Board was a fun way to explore and unravel something that I consider an aspect of myself… and what better than a visual reminder?

An aspect of me (that I love) is my ability to evoke a sensual pleasure in everything in the world – touch, feel, sound, taste, see, breathe, and experience. (ahem, I also scored a 93% on the Sensuality test, so there. *cheeky grin*).

As I thought about topics for my board, there was a resonance when I thought “sensuality” and it took me a few hours to put together a board that was my kind – Here it is:

The process of searching for the right images and compiling this was great because it wasn’t just about being the Me that I know about, but about Remembering the me that I am.

The outcome was even better because I realize now that dormant energies that are awakened and directed towards your SELF – it reinforces you from within. And that, my friends, is Power.

So, on that powerful note, let me wish all of you a Wonderful Year of Self-Belief, Contentment, Discoveries and most of all, Happiness from being your own favorite :). Happy New Year!!!

2013

Holiday spirit

bg-red-wine-white

I recently realized that Christmas and New Year have this sneaky effect on me.

Despite my life’s-all-so-wonderful-yay pollyannaism, I turn an unbearable carper the moment someone expects me to participate in the Vishu/Onam/GaneshChaturthi/Dussehra/Diwali/KarvaChauth festivities in India. I hate the traditions with a vengeance, turn my nose at the merrymaking and incorrigible sweetness of it all, and sulk my way through most festival (holi-)days. Given a chance, I would rather lock myself in at home and work myself to exhaustion. (now isn’t that fun! ;))

But it’s odd that where all other festivals and religious occasions have failed miserably, Christmas and New Year have sort of been sneaking into my carefully-guarded stony mind and spreading holiday cheer. (Well, I’ll be damned!)

Ok, so it’s not that I run around in aprons baking Christmas pudding, putting up trees, and crooning Auld Lang Syne – the word was “sneak”, not conquer. But there IS a certain red holly, silver bells, gilt-paper-wrapped-presents, tall dark green tree and decorations affliction I carry around during the season… the insides of my heart sort of starts resembling this:

decorations

The onset of the disease was, if I remember right, in 2006. Bangalore is in general, a land of spirited people who, despite all their best intentions, hang out in large numbers in malls. (On a side note, yes, so the place doesn’t have a beach, the parks are for senior citizens or kids, and IT companies are … well, IT companies. So where else can your average-entertainment-seeking-Indian-stranded-in-the-IT-capital go for said entertainment, huh???).

Anyways, as I was saying, I spotted this around one of my regular chalo-Forum-chale days and I guess it jolted the avid-Enid Blyton & Chalet School reading kid inside me, triggering memories of magic and faraway lands and the comfort of freshly baked cakes inside warm homes in winter (not that I had actually the experience, I was just an imaginative child :)).

forum_christmas

The dormant memories would have withstood the jolt and sunk back into oblivion had I not stumbled onto this in 2007 (pls. forgive the poorly made video, I couldn’t find a better one online :()

The Rothenburg Christmas Museum (which is featured in the video above) in Germany is a Christmas decoration collector’s heaven… If balls in metallic shades and bells and snowflakes in glass, and wooden puppets and ornamental clocks et al is your thing, you can attain nirvana here.

I didn’t attain nirvana but I oohed and aahed and spent a magical few hours in the museum, believing that I had actually been transported to my childhood world of imagination

The Christmas decoration desire btw, doesn’t augur well for a pocket with a limited euro supply, and also for luggage that gets heaved across continents, so I couldn’t really give in to my heart’s content worth of decorations. Nevertheless, the last year I was in Germany, this below was where I yielded to temptation, courtesy which I have now in my home, a few pretty little reminders of my excesses 😉 :

DSC00010

A post with tidbits about Christmas in Europe would be incomplete without a mention of these fabulous Christmas markets. Just have a look at this picture and tell me if I’m wrong to be so besotted!

ChristmasMarket

I got a whiff of the Christmas market last year, and a permanent memory etched itself into my conscious: that of glühwein. Ah how ineffective words can be when narrating this experience … the sheer drama of being handed a piping-hot cup of sweet smelling red wine and having it slide down your cold-numbed lips and throat, dissolving you and your shivers into this delightful golden pool of warmth inside…

gluhwein  gluhwein2

… pure unadulterated contentment.

And if that didn’t do it for you, here’s another picture that will send your desires into riot – don’t tell me I didn’t warn you!

DSC00072

This my friends, is a crepe. Cranberry sauce, almonds, cranberries & raspberries, and vanilla icecream, and fluffy white cream, lovingly resting on its folded warm surface – a treat for sore eyes, minds and hearts. And yes, if you do want to know – I and my friend (2 plates above, yes?) DID scoop and scrape every last bit of it :).

So now that you’ve sampled a bit of what this dreadfully-sneaky season does to me, I’m off to bask in the glorious 20 degree winter in Bangalore, sample some sensuous red wine (…erm or maybe masala chai?), walk up and down the decorated aisles of Forum and the like, treat myself to some baked-specials & decorations to add to my collection, and feel all pretty and warm and festive inside.

(So much for festival-holiday-hating, hmph)

Happy New Year everybody!! 🙂

The Gift of Time

Seeing the Soul...

The afternoon rays filtered through the lace curtains, falling softly across my mum’s face. I was propped up on the couch in front of her, my legs carelessly thrown over the armrest.

She was talking animatedly about her favorite subject – my dad :), and his recent exploits. I watched her face, as myriad expressions flitted across within seconds and felt a strange kind of contentment. The face that had been once guilty of an arresting purity, had aged over the years and now reflected a woman with a deeper strength of purpose.

It had been about half hour after lunch, and this was one of our usual conversation periods. We would joke, and reflect – on ourselves, on our family, society, human emotions and life in general. In the kitchen, on the living room couch, in the balcony, or on the phone – the location didn’t matter; many years had passed and these languid moments of companionship hadn’t changed.

I thought to myself… Surely, there was something deeper in this than just frank, effortless, soul-soothing communication? Was I under-estimating the value of these moments?

My stream of thought moved on. With a familiar pang in my heart, I thought of how easily we forgot what life was about. It’s always, “I have yet another thing to do”, or “there’s a very important meeting that I cannot afford to miss”, or “I simply don’t have the time!”. All the while, our most basic needs are sacrificed at the altar of mindless-routine.

And as I thought more about it, it dawned on me. That this is probably what this New Year needed to be about the most:

The thought that there is much more to human life than existence, thousands of commitments, and all our precious monetary/material possessions. The thought that the world feeds off the energy and spirit of living individuals… not mindless zombies :).

The world that we all should be living in is the one that blooms with companionship, and each day brings that one miracle that owes its creation to love. A world where someone somewhere could still become a champion for under-rated (perhaps altogether-alien) values like honesty, integrity, fearlessness, and compassion.

Those moments of being-ness that I experienced as I heard my mother talk brought forth a thought that I wish I remembered more often: That as people, we all have a unique gift that only we can provide: Our Time.

I realized that the most precious gift we could give those who really mattered to us (parents, spouse, children, friends…), was a few minutes of our lives – a few fragments of our otherwise complicated existence:

  • A few minutes to listen to aspects of their lives. Their thoughts, aspirations, hopes and sorrows.
  • A few minutes to observe and imbibe aspects of their personalities. Their uniqueness. Their crazy yet endearing ways.
  • A few minutes to tell them more about ourselves. Give them a feel of what we as individuals are experiencing.
  • A few minutes to show them that it was really important to us that they were around. And that despite all the things we could be doing otherwise, we wanted to spend those moments with them, because nothing else mattered as much.
  • A few minutes that we could choose to spend today… minutes that we could look back upon many years later, and feel grateful for. Especially when those we chose to give this gift to, are no longer with us.

The Gift of Time. The Gift of Love. The Gift of Life.

So ask yourself (as I asked of me): This new year, are you ready to give this gift to someone in your life?

Happy New Year everybody!!!  (and please make your choices wisely :))

Happy New Year!!

HappyNewYearWelcome 2007, and to all those of you, who’re reading this post, Happy New Year!!! :).

Here’s wishing all of you a wonderful, productive, thrilling and entertaining year ahead!!!

2007 promises to be an important year in my life… what with lots of professional and personal changes on the horizon. I don’t have any material/physically quantifiable resolutions yet, and generally never do, since I doubt my ability (*smirk*) to stick to them with a steadfast resolve.

Instead, (as is my practice), I do a mental review of my life in the past year, and wonder if there are any regrets / emotional burdens that I do not wish to carry into the new year, or any profound lessons that I’ve learnt. And while I analyze my actions / in-actions in a whole year, I also grade myself on how much of a better person I have become – sort of a soul analysis :).

I’ve realized over time that this activity is quite spiritually rewarding, because it keeps me rooted, gives me insights about myself, and provides a chance to correct, to repent and to move forward, as a person.

As part of the activity, I put forth for myself some behavioural resolutions – rather like a set of moral do’s and don’ts for me –  which I believe are important, and hope to practice everyday of my future life. And since this post is about New Year and resolutions, I thought of sharing some of these – in the hope that it will benefit one or more people out there, in their path of personal growth, re-discovery of happiness and peace, thereby making them better persons who truly embody the human spirit. And so *Drum roll*… here are my resolutions:

  1. Say “Thank you” (and be truly thankful) anytime you are in the receiving end of a service (however insignificant it may be): Of course, with very close friends/family, it is often not expected, and may be met with resistance/surprise. However, it is a good thing to practice saying “Thank you” because it goes a long way in instilling gratitude in you, and will ensure that you don’t take anything for granted.
  2. Take time to notice the wonderful aspects of the people you love, and the people who love you: Take a moment (or more) to wonder when was the last time you genuinely appreciated some aspect of (one or more) people close to you.
  3. Say “Sorry” with real feeling, instead of just as a word which is used to expect excuse for any kind of behavior or error. As much as possible, make sure you don’t get into situations where you may have to say “Sorry”.
  4. Stop encouraging thoughts of worry, hatred and fear in your mind: Thoughts have creative power, and negative thoughts can eat the life, the essence out of you – making you physically and mentally sick.
  5. Open your senses – your eyes, ears, nose, mind – wide enough to notice the beauty of the little things in this world: sunshine and rain, colors, clouds and a clear blue sky, sound of water, the warm ‘n cozy smell of home, a child’s smile, innocence and love.
  6. Stop saying “Yes” or “Maybe”, if what you really want to say is “No”.
  7. Stop donning masks / faking behaviour, just to be acceptable to some people: Be yourself. If they’re truly people you need to be around with, they’ll appreciate you for what you are, than what you project yourself to be.
  8. Be truthful to yourself: You maybe saying lies to the entire world, but please make sure you’re not lying to yourself. You’ll be happier if you are comfortable with yourself, and the whys of what you do, what you’ve done and what you’re going to do.
  9. Stop ignoring your instincts and your feelings: Often, there is a lot of wisdom hidden in them.
  10. Take the time to feel connected: to yourself, to people, to nature, to the world, and to the universe.  You’ll realize that there is a omnipresent, omniscient higher power that loves you.

Once again, Happy 2007 everybody!!! 🙂

P.S. Forgot to mention – my blog has got a new year present already btw :). It has registered over 10,000 hits, from the time I started it – which was June 2006. Yay!!! :D. Thank you everyone! – my heartfelt gratitude goes out to all the people who have read and are still reading, commented and are still commenting on this blog! I’m honored to have your virtual company!