Guru Vandanam!

Salutation to the master who opened to me a world of natyam at the tender age of my childhood. The world of Bharathanatyam has only been a source of comfort, joy and beauty that I admire everyday. When I was a child, as much as I loved the dance classes, I was always dodging and jumping your strictness. I still recollect your frustrated face when I forgot some mudras in sequence and I tried to ask my friends to help me in remembering. I used to wonder if amma was a perfect student unlike me in her younger days.  My grandmother was so proud that the same master who taught my amma was teaching me too. The first mudras and the first steps of Bharathanatyam you taught me will always stay close to my heart. After all these years today when I heard that you left for your heavenly abode, I could only bow in gratitude before the amighty for being one among your many students. Guru Vandanam!

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I forgot today was a good day!

Let me remind you something. Today was a good day. Yesterday too. Oh wait, the day before too. I had a good day at work and successfully submitted two reports to my CFO which I thought would be impossible. My sister won her football match. I went for my first choir practice at church. I had people who made me laugh so hard. My sister got into the college she wanted. My parents celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary. My article got published in a magazine, and so much more goodness. Though, if suddenly someone asks me, ‘How was your week, Amitha?’ what probably comes to my mind first was how my leg was hurting so bad past few days or how my sister and I had a bad argument and that tea which spilled all over, once again failed diet plans, the rising heat in Dubai and I would reply the usual, ‘Oh it was just okay, the usual, nothing great’.

Everyday morning, I open a couple of websites that informs me about what’s happening around the world, back in India to far in the U.S. Last couple of days, I was being observant of the trends in news. There was one news at the right bottom corner of a website, talking of how a doctor is treating soldiers for free. Rest of the news were repeated political debates, the rising violence around the world, the alarming rape and molestation coverage and everything else we are so familiar reading and hearing every day. Let’s get to facebook, and there is a section of my friends, who are committed to only sharing news and articles that direct and force us to believe what a horrible bad world we live in, and sometimes go to the extent of sharing extreme violent articles and videos forgetting the fact there are even youngsters on the platform.

My country, India is on the global news on a daily basis for how unsafe it is especially for women. And let me tell you, I don’t deny it. When I travel alone and land at the airport at 4am, I wait till sunrise to take a cab to get home or wherever I am staying but let me also tell you there are a million more good men in my country who keeps me safe. There are cab and auto drivers who drove me safely to my destination, there are guys who directed me to the right direction. And in contrast to many years back, my sisters, aunt and myself (all girls squad) were hanging out alone late night trying out different beverages at a café in Kochi.  And on New Year’s Eve, we were all out, both guys and girls celebrating the day in India. Surprise, we were all safe on both occasions and many more!

I am so proud we live in a time where we are openly expressing our thoughts, fighting for our rights, creating awareness of abuse and empowering each other. At the same time, I feel we tend to be oblivion to equally talk and promote goodness around us, invest in and make good people known, the good men we meet every day, the successful women, the good helping doctor, the happy family, the animal protectors, environmentalists, the successful young entrepreneur and everything good. I am not asking you to live in a happy bubble or turn a blind eye to everything bad around. All I am requesting you is to not turn a blind eye to the good things around too.

And just to help you get started, these websites tells us positive news:

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/

https://gretchenrubin.com/

Have a happy day guys! If you tend to not remember the good things, try almonds for the brain food 😉

P.S. My usual random thoughts after overthinking about  a chat with a colleague =)

Contagious Disease of Kindness

One of my weekly ordeals as a child was going for Catechism on Sunday mornings. What I dreaded most was the long walk to church which seemed longer when I was forced up early and the stories of stray dog attacks, bullocks charging after me seeing red colour and the additional news of kidnapers on the streets. However, there was one seminarian brother to whom I told one day how scared I was of everything and ever since, like a God sent angel, on most Sundays he silently walked with me from church till I reached home. I don’t recollect ever asking his name nor any of our conversations but whenever I think of my Catechism classes in India, I fondly remember his protective thought of walking me back because of my silly fears.

Being a strong Catholic contender of ‘being in the world and not of the world’, don’t laugh but let me introduce you to my favourite childhood fairy tale princess, Cinderella, the kindest girl I ever read about as a child. Her motto in life was ‘have courage and be kind’. From an early age, I was heavily observant and influenced by the characters I read about, the people I met and most importantly in each small gesture of love and kindness, I felt God himself appeared to me. Random acts of kindness always inspire. It is seldom seen but when it happens, my heart feels warm and fuzzy on the inside and humanity seems still alive. An inevitable fact is that the people around, knowingly or unknowingly shed their influences on us. Good or bad, each of us pass on our influence on others too. The earlier we are aware of it, we can make better choices of the traces we leave behind. Yours and my kind words, actions or gestures might be the first Christ a person experiences.

One of those days, after running a whole day’s errands for home, I told my mom we are not going back home until we go to the shop and choose my sari. Reluctantly, she agreed though she was tired and we finally found a parking space in the rush hour and started walking to the shop. Just then, a lady stopped us and enquired the way to get to the nearest metro as she was new to the place. As I started explaining to her the route, my mom interrupted and offered to drop her to the metro as it was scorching hot and she did not find it a good idea that the lady should walk. Though I pretended to oblige and act good, I was thinking if my mom went crazy to drop a stranger and that too giving away that nice parking spot for this, but while we were driving to the metro, I felt she was silently teaching me something profound. What was the use of preaching and going to church everyday when I was not able to reach out to a lady who needed the slightest help?

As much as people impact our life, when we look back, what always remain are the glitter trail of kindness they leave behind in the heart. The listening ear, the comforting words, the friend in times of need, the much-needed smile, that push of encouragement, an uplifting hand when you fell, a shoulder to cry on, the vital compliment, the thank you note that made your day, that extra helping hand and all those little moments, have you been able to see God in them? He manifests Himself in our lives through different persons and you and I too are one of them. If we just initiate today to make conscious acts of kindness to people we know and meet, I strongly believe the quality of our relationships will enhance and we would be getting closer to be the person we were created to be.

I would close by sharing something that has stayed close to my heart for a very long time. Few years back, when I first found my friend’s profile on Facebook, my eyes caught his ‘Intro’ section and it has continued to inspire me till date:

“1Corinthians 13: 4-7, ‘Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Love does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ I want to grow to be one day to able to replace the word love with my name.”

We tend to consign to oblivion that each of us are made in the image and likeness of God, signifying we are made in the image and likeness of love itself. Christianity is about being love –  to love yourself, every person around you and to be loved. Love is powerful and contagious and you have the power to make this world a better place, maybe you have already started to, but let’s together make a decision today to start living true to our identity of love. 

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