It is indeed surprising and incomprehensible how four years have gone by in the wink of an eye.. I still vividly remember that crisp afternoon in August when I set foot in this country that I have grown to love. So many seasons, so many memories. Time goes by slowly as the minutes slip past and gallops through the days and weeks.
It has been an interesting few months, with weekends bringing new news and headlines, lots of joy and cheer and a few very sobering moments as well. Through all of it, i feel a renewed sense of faith, a sense of hope and love in the world that surrounds me, the people i know and the forces that i believe in. Human life thrives on hope, and it is the same hope I live by as well.
I have been listening to Bhaja Govindam, one of my favorite religious songs of all time composed by Adi Shankara and sung by M.Subbulakshmi. I do not know if it is her divine voice or the touching meaning of the song, which almost anybody can relate to, but it always calms me and gives me inner peace.
Some of the profoundly deep things that the song suggests are truly beyond religion. They touch on the true nature and meaning of life. I bet every one has felt in some way or the other.
The song suggests that the world we live in is an illusion, and that we have to look harder to understand the true meaning of live. When are people remembered? when do they live on? The people we remember the most are the ones that influence us in some way or the other. The Hindu concept of a chain of rebirth is based on the same idea. To break the chain, one has to attain true knowledge of "Brahman". I can certainly not give proof of rebirth, but I can say for sure that to attain permanence in this life, we have to do something that touches people in one way or more. A writer or a movie maker makes the future generations think. A political reformer paves way for a different way of life. A mother imparts to her children not just her love, but also a sense of morality she lives by.
We knowingly or unknowingly touch so many peoples lives as we go through the course of our own. We can only think about how we can make all those contacts positive, even though they may not always be. We also need to learn to be content with what comes through actions already performed in the past, they cannot be altered, much as we would like them to be.
The song tells us that the life of man is as uncertain as rain drops on a lotus leaf. The whole world remains a prey to disease, ego and grief. We do not know who our wife or son really is. Strange is this samsara. Who are we? Where have we come from?
We are born again, we die again, and are born again to stay in the mother's womb. It is indeed hard to cross this boundless ocean of samsara. Through this endless cycle, we just need to guide ourselves with our inner consciousness or god, to make all our influences positive and all memories happy. It is not an ordinary effort, but it is definitely one we should try to make..
Friday, April 11, 2008
It's tax season yet again, and I can't believe I'm filling my fourth years' tax return.. where did the days go? It seems like just yesterday, my first delighted look at Boston, the first few Malden days, tiny apartment rooms, student life littered with studies, outings and new friendships. A handful of people to call friends after the two and a half wonderful years. At which point did we all really connect? Was it over the cups of coffee, the walks through the alleys on the way to work shifts? weekends? over assignments in the library? Somewhere along the way to the riverbank watching the sailboats? It is tough to say. Life is delightful in the twists and turns that it abundantly supplies, there is little time to wonder about the road not taken and likewise.
Busy days at work, nights before the TV, visits to the gym time permitting, an evening walk with a friend.. it what life looks like these days; the slow change of the cold winter to a crisp spring.. dewdrops on grass blades and the first cherry blossoms and tulips catch my eye on my morning walk.. I wish I had more time to take it all in, and I resolve to wake up early over the weekend to get a closer glimpse, but somehow sleep invades, and the sun is pretty high up in the sky before I take a step outside. I am like Mark Twain's Tom however, and Saturday morning is always pure delight, be it early or late.
New york, New york, my home away from home, is also readily accessible, and I love the walks down the streets, especially the busy crossings where the road seems to extend to the horizon.
I plan meticulously on fridays, for a busy weekend with several options for self entertainment; and then end up executing exactly half of the plan. Yet the best weekends are the ones that spring surprises on you with no warning whatsoever. Will this be one of those weekends? I wonder..
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
It was a long pending trip, and I had looked forward to it months ahead, starting with all the shopping, the tickets and the packing. On that bright winter evening, as I drove to the airport, I felt the usual paranoia kick in; thoughts about forgotten keys and passports abound. A long flight later I landed at the Chennai airport past midnight, and then made the surreal walk to the domestic airport alone.
The domestic airport was deserted, save for a few sleeping families and a few people intently watching Sania Mirza play on the overhead television. I took my seat near the gate after an early security check and watched several flights take off before my flight was announced.
A shuttle ride to the tarmac and then an early morning flight over a lush green landscape littered with coconut trees; before I realized it I had landed in the town of Madurai, filled with excitement at the prospect of seeing my mom and dad at the gates and witnessing my best friends' wedding (Hence the domestic flight).
Hugs, laughter and a few exited conversations later, we rushed to the hotel room so expressly arranged by my friends parents, to change. A small search for the "Theppakulam" ensued, and I found myself waving to Sathish outside the wedding hall.
Meeting my friend, the bride, their families, waving to the bridegroom (also my friend) as he smiled nervously back, trying to make sense of the Tamil conversation and speeches over the omnipresent din & commotion so typical of Indian marriages, I saw my friends getting married. Even as a spectator nervousness claimed me, so I guess it must have been the same for them. The true beauty of an Indian wedding can only be felt, it is simply too hard to explain the myriad emotions, the sheer love and support provided by a family that bonds even closer as it unites in these joyous times. I was only too happy to have made it and to watch with my parents.
Jet lag finally took its toll right after, and I simply wanted to go home. And so we did, after a gruelling car ride over the pothole filled highways. I slept blissfully and dreamlessly after a long long time.
The week that ensued was the most tranquil and idyllic times after several years of my life, reminiscent of annual holidays over sunny summers. I had nothing to do, save for "conferences" with mom and grandma, read two books a day, or simply lie back and watch the fan spin as i thought about days past. The parrots were still around the coconut trees behind the gopurams, the river had a trickle of water, and the street looked the same except for the extra storeys in peoples homes.
Another week, two more weddings, my parents' 60th birthday wedding, myriad sarees, hopping sprees, a trip to Salem for a cousins wedding, a couple of days squeezed in between to meet Ambu; so many things to do, so little time. My cousins were able to make it to my grandparents place this time when I was around. We were able to get some quality time together, reminisce about our joyful childhood days and chat late into the night the way only granddaughters could with a grandmother. Me and my cousin slept like children again, next to each other. Somehow to our grandparents, no matter how old we are, we are always, and will always remain the children of the house.
Time flew by, and it was time to come back. Usually with the ones closest to us, we hardly realize what a difference their presence makes until it is time for a separation. It was tough, saying goodbye to a mom and dad who had marked their calendars to watch for my arrival months ago, and were upset, net never shed a tear for fear of upsetting me at the last minute. In that one second at the airport, I saw true love. And for that one minute, I did not want to come back. Maybe separation is the greatest gift god can give us, it is when we are apart do we realize the true importance of things we overlook when we are together.
I'm back to the usual hustle and flow of life now, yet keep looking back to those three blissful weeks when time stood still, yet inexplicably sped by before we could notice...I relive the time in my thoughts alone.