BEING A FOREIGNER


Candles Online

Je parle Anglais?” which translates to “I speak English” but the question here is why there is a question mark if this is a plain statement. Well, to answer that I must take a few steps back into the past when I was a newcomer to the city of Brussels and the French language was more alien to me than my relationship with it now.

It all began in the year 2009. Thanks to the extremely busy schedules of my husband back in those days (there were times when he used to leave home at 7:45 AM and won’t see it back till 3 AM the next morning, I was left at the mercy of television and internet connection to spend my days. But for how long. Slowly I started despising my loneliness, the damp and gloomy weather of the city where the sun won’t greet…

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Mother-Daughter Diaries


Originally posted on Candles Online

Mom I have a doubt,” said my 6 years old daughter. “What’s it dear?” I asked, to be only left stumped by her question. “Why papa loves you when your face is full of spots?”. I am not even exaggerating, those were really her words. And I don’t really want to blame her, it’s her exposure to the fairy tales where the princess is all fair and flawless. I can understand with the kind of exposure kids of this generation have the kind of questions they might ask seem to be too soon, too early, and to be honest too much too. I wanted to give her a reason, perhaps a lecture on what true love (ironically beyond the gamut of reasoning) means but considering her age my explanation would be “Too much” for her to comprehend.

I simply asked, “Don’t you love me with all these blemishes on my face?”. And she didn’t budge as she said “I love you, Mama, you are the best” and she gave me a kiss as she hurried to get into the school before the final bell rang. Perhaps one day I will be able to provide a better explanation to satiate her query.

Raising kids (generation alpha) as my dear friend @sizzlybizzly (Rajnandini from Candles Online) has explained in her article OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, could really be a tight rope walk. Explaining them to react and behave differently in apparently similar-looking situations is quite a task. For instance, as a family with a reasonably comfortable life, I encourage my daughter to help the poor and needy and that seems to be well embedded in her thoughts. But on the other hand, I also warn her against falling for tricks of people who pretend to be needy to avoid sweating it out. And reasoning (explaining how to and why to differentiate) such situations in my personal capacity prove to be difficult ones given the fact that my daughter is a bit impatient. The moment I start dissecting the matter for clarity she says “I don’t understand what are you saying” or worse “enough Mama, not now, just play with me”.

As a parent, I want to clarify every doubt that dwells in my child’s brain. Sometimes I have substantial corroboration to my answers that I can give her instantly, for example why plucking fruit from the tree isn’t the same thing as butchering a goat, when both are done to serve the same purpose – to fill up a hungry stomach. Sometimes I am at a loss of my reasoning abilities altogether. Like why the letter U hasn’t been pronounced the same way in “Put”, and “But” because I never questioned it (maybe my friend @theextraaaamile, Savio from Candles Online, has an answer to this 😃). And then there are moments I have reasons to support my reaction/responses but as I mentioned earlier they could be too complicated for a child to comprehend. For example, when I tell my daughter to be social & adjustable to and under different circumstances, and be independent (not seeking validation from others or succumbing to any pressure) at the same time. That’s a tough call as I have to hand out her reasons sans ambiguity of any sort.

All said and done I have realized that in the process of parenting I am growing up too. My role as a parent is a reason enough to be a better version of myself every day. With so many sources of information and influence around, kids surely need a security filter, a cushion to rely on. And that’s where the power of reasoning comes in handy. Valid the reasons are, better the chances of nurturing mature minds. It’s really important that doubts of any nature shouldn’t be squashed away under the pretext of “nothing concerning you”, especially when we impart the knowledge of DOs and DON’Ts to shape their personalities and ideologies.

My journey with the extra “administrative” responsibility of Reasoning has just begun as my daughter has just started questioning. I should be better prepared for the bazooka of questions blazing at me, she hasn’t even scratched the surface yet and there’s an ocean to dive in.

Investments


Goin' the extra..aaamile

There was a time I heard people saying “invest in shares”to be followed by “invest in mutual funds”and then a few years later I heard a few say,“invest in property”, and nowadays what I hear is – “invest in people & relationships”

The kind of life I lead, I would like most of all to invest in myself as much as possible. You will definitely not find me idling my time dining at a restaurant or partying with fake people and alcohol. I would rather be at home doing things that make me happy, be it watching a movie on Netflix, playing an online game, writing on my blog, or keeping myself busy with a hobby – if nothing else you’ll find me reading a book or listening to music, or if I am out of home, you will simply find me on a walk away…

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Investments


Goin' the extra..aaamile

There was a time I heard people saying “invest in shares”to be followed by “invest in mutual funds”and then a few years later I heard a few say,“invest in property”, and nowadays what I hear is – “invest in people & relationships”

The kind of life I lead, I would like most of all to invest in myself as much as possible. You will definitely not find me idling my time dining at a restaurant or partying with fake people and alcohol. I would rather be at home doing things that make me happy, be it watching a movie on Netflix, playing an online game, writing on my blog, or keeping myself busy with a hobby – if nothing else you’ll find me reading a book or listening to music, or if I am out of home, you will simply find me on a walk away…

View original post 277 more words

WHEN OUR PATHS CROSSED


Candles Online

After eight years of marriage, Saanvi visited Delhi which once was her turf. She grew up there. That city for her is a bundle of memories – good, bad, enjoyable, precious, sad, unbearable – quite a complex concoction that she treasured. After her marriage, she moved away from the city so does her family.

Now after eight years an unusual business brought her back to the city. As she landed in the city, she was caught by the whip of air of the city, “how much I missed you” she sighed and headed for the hotel. As the taxi traversed through the lanes of the city, her thoughts wandered along with the wheels. Her eyes feasted on the street food, her senses were bamboozled by the color and fervor of the city, the ears were enjoying the concert of the noise of all-around. With all the sensory overloads…

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Will-Knowledge-Action


It’s a story of the reunion of a man with his daughters. A man had three daughters from whom he got separated. The three sisters were Ichcha, Kriya, and Vidya. He was leading a miserable life, until one day when the three girls reached his house and asked for shelter, as they were tired of playing. As it was dark outside the man decided to let the three little girls halt in his house.

The darkness was so terrible and threatening. The darkness was an invitation for the robbers to intrude into the boundaries of the house. They slowly started digging the foundation of the house. Their purpose was to crash the house and loot. As the walls trembled in that dark night, so was the man. This is not new to him. All his life he was under constant attack of burglars in the veil of night. He lurked in the darkest corner of the house to save himself. The three sisters were sleeping in the corner where he hid. He tucked himself into a shell, hoping that the violent blows to his house and self recede somehow.

As the man was consumed by his struggle, Ichcha woke up due to the commotion inside and out of the house. She saw the man struggling, she rose to help him. She peeped from the window, she could see some light in the distance. Also, she saw the relentless exercise to weaken the security that man had was being carried out. She had a plan in her mind “If I could take this man to that point I will be able to save him”. She tried to pick him up, but the weight of the man was crushing her. She gave a call to her elder sister Kriya and immediately she grabbed the other hand of the man. He slowly picked himself up with the help of the sisters and made an advancement towards the door to get out of the darkness surrounding him.

But the saga of fear was still not over for the man. His feet were stumbling over the hurdles placed across his path in a bid to stop him from reaching the light. As the sisters held the man and they were occupied, they called their eldest and strongest sister. She came, fought, and conquered the plunderers, paving a way for the man to make a safe exit from the darkness. The fight wasn’t easy. The attackers kept coming back to attack the man from different sides, the other sisters were slowly crumbling under the fatigue of carrying the man. But the one who was fighting was nowhere close to extinguishing or exiting. She was gaining impetus as she was blowing away her counterparts and a part of her energy she was transmitting to her sisters too. It was a long night before they finally made it.

With the help of the three sisters, that man reached his destination. When he reached the enlightened spot he recognized his estranged daughters and embraced them. He vowed to never ever part from them as they released him from the haunted place he was dwelling in. And they happily lived ever after in the land where the sun never sets in.

End Credits (cast of the story):

Sisters: Youngest Sister (Ichcha) – Will; Second Sister (Kriya) – Action; Eldest (strongest) Sister (vidya) – Knowledge

Man: The Human Soul

Weight: Self-doubt

Thieves: Vices like greed, lust, anger, hate, etc.

Hurdles: negativity and pessimism in the form of harsh comments, blame game.

Light/ Enlightened spot: The happy space where the mind is in total control of its actions and not affected by the actions of the villains surrounding.

Moral of the story: It takes the three sisters of Will, Action, and Knowledge to accompany a man (figuratively) to cross the hurdles of vicious backlashes and the fear of failure.

**Note: This tale is an inspiration taken from the verse “Ichcha Shakti Gyana Shakti Kriya Shakti Swarupini” from Lalitha Sahasranama (1000 names of goddess Lalitha). She is a source of divine knowledge, energy, and positivity and if reposed faith in her she is the ultimate guide to for human deliverance.

STRENGTH CONCEALED WITHIN


vini678

It was a big day for us as a family, my daughter was getting married. She looked angelic in her bridal attire. A sight to behold and cherish. But there was something else that caught my attention beyond the veil of her beautiful face, it was a nervous girl. My princess was nervous and confused.She needed some one to confide in .And if as a mother I can’t be that shoulder to lean on then who else can?And who else will?

“Come sit here .What happened? You seem to be wary.Is there anything that is bothering you?”I tried to calm her down and when she started speaking, my doubts dispelled. She had the nervousness that every bride experiences before walking taking those sacred vows. She opened up “Mom, I don’t know what is this feeling. It feels I am going to break down. Till now everything seemed to be fine.But…

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Widen The Horizon Of Your Happiness


Bestowed with intelligence, comprehension, and the ability to express like no other living being under the sun has ever had, man is ironically the most unhappy creature on the earth. With every advancement man has made throughout the history of human evolution he surely has scaled greater heights of measurable successes which unexpectedly transformed into an inverse relationship with the happiness quotient which is intangible. Well, this is not another cliché lecture about “Money can’t buy happiness” or ” Successful doesn’t mean happy”, because one can be both successful and happy at the same time. In fact. They are not interchangeable but can co-exist. It is about introspecting the horizons of happiness that we have demarcated for ourselves.

Let me ask you one thing. Rather I would prompt you to do this exercise yourself, ask yourself a question – What makes you HAPPY? How often happy you are? Does your happiness require quite an investment? Does it take a custom-made validation rule book for moments to qualify as happy ones? What is the contribution of things, people/relationships, events/moments in constituting happiness for you? How do you handle failures and rejections, to be precise for how long do unfavourable circumstances in the due course of life keep you bogged down and disturbed?

A detour: Think about the saints or sages who practiced rigid austerity both materialistically and emotionally. They were like the lotus leaves, dwelling in the water yet never drenched or drowned in it. Their soul has experienced detachment from every bond, no rejoice in gain, no remorse in loss (Bhagwad Geeta’s essence), and consequently attained eternal happiness. Now let’s talk practically, about people like me, you and us.

We ain’t saints. We are very much attached, materially and emotionally. We associate our actions with the results, and when the results don’t meet our expectations we experience remorse, frustration, anger putting both our bliss, concise thinking and, faith in jeopardy. In short, we are stark opposites to those whom I did mention above. But then they were born with blood and flesh like us, then what did they do differently to attain that state of Paramananda (highest point of happiness, ultimate bliss) especially when the soul is willing but the flesh is weak (A Bible quote).

Few hypothetical examples –

  • You have put in a lot of hard work and finally got your appraisal (though the percentage or the position wasn’t up to your expectations) and on another occasion, you helped a needy person without expecting anything in return.
  • You have invited a person in a powerful position and heaped the same with gifts and praises with an ulterior motive of reaping some benefits in your favour. On another occasion you have aided a child from a marginal family (and in no relation) to attain education with the only intention of giving that child a chance – a chance to gain knowledge, better the future and probably induce a butterfly effect on the society.
  • In the surveillance of a camera or a cop you abide by the rules (due to the FEAR of not getting caught or given a ticket). On the other hand, you act out of LOVE for your family and friends.

In each of the examples, the first part of the act was done in expectation, greed, and fear. The majority of our actions align with those lines. We expect results, we have greed driving our intentions and We fear God (to a greater extent the society as well) and put a charade of being good. And as Newton’s law states “every action has an equal and opposite reaction” all these actions do have reactions. Might be momentary gains or grief (to nurse it or not is our prerogative). Coming to the later part of the examples – No expectation, pure intention, and Love. No points for guessing what such acts mean to anyone – Pure Joy.

Coming Back To The Point: It’s all about the Practice: I believe it’s clear from the examples above as to what differentiates us from saints or what is hindering/ narrowing down our horizons of happiness. To begin with, we must firmly believe that God isn’t a separate entity. He dwells very well within us. That belief when strengthened would gradually encourage us to act in his light out of love and not fear (often wrongly used interchangeably in the context of God). Act and not expect, finally the mantra for a blissful life.

Well, that was straight from the philosophy. Or we can say practically not possible in the competitive world we live in. What we need to put into practice to reach that stage is to keep our intentions pure (the least we can do, to begin with). A petty example: Make it a habit to contribute a small percentage of your earnings to whatever cause you to believe in, that would cover two bases – No expectations, Completely selfless, Pure Intention – (MY friend, Siva Priya and my uncle &aunt are few examples of selfless service for me to follow, they live exactly the way that would induce eternal happiness). When the intention of our actions are more inclined and reserved for the greater betterment, driven by compassion we won’t expect anything in return other than the fulfillment of the cause we have served. And when such acts performed more often, that would naturally serves as the breeding ground for certain detachment necessary for a happy being.

Additional Tips: Accept own faults and flaws (blame game is lethal), spend some time in silence with self, understand the difference between price and value (sometimes learned really hard ways). Everyday when you pray try asking the God for universal happiness (for everyone) “Sarvejana Sukhino Bhavantu” . And not to forget to be always grateful for what we have.

Hope we all raise and expand our horizon of happiness and help each other in this journey.

Special Credit : My friend Vinitha Viswanath put it correctly “Happiness has to be chosen, momentary or eternal are the options

Between The Journey And The Destination


A road through rocks, watercolor painting – Kalpana Vogeti

Originally posted on Candles Online

Marooned amidst the desert of nothingness,
surrounded by the mountains of despair,
the traveler’s intellect summoned him the ultimatum.
“Your journey has come to an end,
take this cloak of melancholy and drape yourself,
let the crown of failure adorn you
as you put a halt to your momentum”.

Saddled by the burden of his dereliction,
the traveler turned into the sediment of brunt hopes
whose dreams dissipated and poured down stony eyes
touching his parched lips,
He was exhausted and slipped into a deep slumber,
believing it to be the end of his ordeals.
But soon his thirst beseeched him
to look out for a potion to sip.

He rose from the heap of his molten & mangled desires
to quench his thirst and reinstate his trudge.
In the darkness of ignorance, he sensed fear Again,
fear of losing- not life but existence,
He ran incessantly, tearing apart the clutter of notions
that chained and suffocated his soul for a long time.
He reached an untrodden path, with a panting breath
he had to choose between quitting and deliverance.

He stared at the path,
cut through the rigid rocks of pessimism,
it gleamed in the light of knowledge and was enticing him
to pick up his crutches of will and action and recommence his stride,
He held his trembling heart and spoke to his upset intellect
“let me try one more time, let me search for the victory,
I might not reach my destination, but let me glide through
this journey with a sense of pride.”

************************************

Did the traveler reach his destination? Did he fall into the potholes of vices? Did the bondages of self-doubt imprison him again? Was he able to quench his thirst? Was his thirst solely his materialistic desire or it was a dawn of realization? Questions still need an answer but nevertheless, this story is about the road that initiated the journey!!!!

CAUGHT IN A GHOST CASTLE


Candles Online

Based on a true story:

A group of 8 young explorers, me among them, entered a house that was surrounded by not only darkness but rumors of being haunted. The air was eerie and the silence so thick that even a pin drop could set hearts race. I got a chance to enter with seven others, I was excited to prove. It was my chance to prove a few nay-sayers that I am not boring and when I mean adventure it isn’t about millennial pranks. I meant serious business and what can be a better option to set the adrenaline rush going than a haunted house. I would be dishonest if I say fear wasn’t on my side along with the seven others.

We together stepped inside the house that smelt pungent and we thought “let the helper at our house take off for a while and our houses won’t…

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