Pay It forward


In the words of Einstein, “Only a life lived for others is worth living.” I often meditate on this phrase as it makes so much sense to me. It gives me happiness to be helpful to people, no matter how small the effort may seem. Helping people is an element of my daily life and there are countless opportunities to get involved. The only tools you need to be successful are a positive attitude, willingness to help, and a little faith in humanity. I decided, long ago, that I would pay it forward and help those in need as often as I could.
I would like to dedicate this piece, with gratitude, to a girl (name unknown) who helped me push my trolley bags to the bus station in London as I was running late to board the bus from London to Norwich. As I was walking towards the bus station, I was really struggling with my bags, helpless, filled with fear that I might miss the bus and potentially my flight home. Thanks to the helping hand of this kind stranger, I was able to board the bus and catch my flight. This is my story of how I paid it forward.

A few years ago in India, I was on my way back from Lachung to Sikkim, a beautiful location near the lower Himalayan mountains, when I saw an old lady carrying a little girl, backpack and lunch bag a short distance up the road. I walked briskly to catch up with them. The older lady stopped and smiled, I noticed she was tired and struggling. The little girl, in her school uniform, starred at the bunch of wild flowers I had in my hand. I smiled at the child and gave her the flowers. Then it suddenly occurred to me that I could offer to help the woman. I tried speaking to them in Hindi, hoping they would understand, but unfortunately no such luck. I began using my version of sign language, making gestures, trying to ask them where they were going. The old woman pointed her finger to the top of the hill. I gestured to her that I would help carry the little girl up the hill. I squatted down and motioned for the girl to jump on my back and proceeded to climb up the hill. The woman’s face lit up with a smile – a priceless one, and the little girl giggled the entire way.

Once we got to the top of the hill, I dropped the little girl off near the house and turned back to look at the teary-eyed woman with hands folded in Namaste. I touched her hands and said it was ok and that I was glad to help. The old lady normally carried the little girl up the hill every day, but today was different. She was able to rest her back, as a mere stranger carried her little girl up the hill. Even to this day, I never forget the impact my simple gesture made. I had made a difference in her day, in a small way I must admit, but that mattered. I gave a sliver of my time to those in need and it gave them a few moments of joy. As I started my trek back down the hill, I turned back and waved at them, thus capturing the smiles on their faces in my mind forever.

Helping someone without having expectations of them helping you in return is the best feeling. You never know when someone needs your help or is in need of a little kindness. A few simple words, a helping hand, a smile that says, “don’t worry, everything will be alright,” a little gesture to rekindle hope in whatever situation, providing warmth when the world seems cold and gloomy is priceless. Try helping someone you don’t know TODAY, I am sure you will not regret it.

A universal peace prayer in Sanskrit

ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः।

सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः।

सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु।

मा कश्चित् दुःख भाग्भवेत्॥

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
May all be prosperous and happy
May all be free from illness
May all see what is spiritually uplifting
May no one suffer
Om peace, peace, peace

Helping others and being selfless in serving others is more than a penance. Make it a habit that you will never want to quit. May you all experience the pleasure and immense happiness of helping others in this project and pay it forward. Dear Readers, Let’s make the world a better place to live. Shall we?

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New Year Re-Solutions


New Year resolutions!!! So much hype. There are people who consider why make a resolution when you will break it after a few days. It is all about initial excitement as is always the case with lot of new things in life.

I decided this year I am not going to make any resolutions. Not that I am bad at keeping the resolutions. I can happily say that all these years I have kept my resolutions till the end of the year with only two exceptions (totally due to external circumstances and difficult people).

Coming back to the present situation…the Re-Solutions. These are very generic, and I am sure most of you readers can easily pick up a few from here. Believe me they will be super exciting as they present a new challenge every single week of the new year. Who knows, you might even want to continue the trend.

 

  1. Family & Friends. Vital in our lives the relationships, the bonding and the people who make us who we are. We cherish them, treasure the memories, learn and grow.

Challenge: Every week I choose one person, I will spend one hour to re-bond or work on creating a stronger bond, relive the memories, emphasize how much he/she means to me.

You might say, oh! That’s easy, it’s not a challenge. Yes, there are ways of doing this from another part of the globe, thanks to technology. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, snapchat etc.

Well, I am going to go back to the age-old form of communicating. “Writing a letter”. If I feel like keeping the communication crisp and concise, then I would just send a post card. The effort involved is minimal, beginning of the year buy envelopes, stamps and postcards. The fun part is (Can’t be callous because this isn’t going to be a FB message or a tweet (……characters). Every word, written – matters. The receiver of the letter is going to be reading the letter and imagining, thinking, remembering, going down the memory lane…this might initiate opening memories stored away safely in a part of the brain.

Then, there is the element of surprise. Who on earth would think someone would send a letter when they are least expecting it?

2. Will DO SOMETHING UNCOMFORTABLE once a week. An adventure, new skill, new place, new environment. This I hope will enable growth, if not make me wiser. Lots of things to choose from ….Figure skating, surfing, snow-shoeing, rock-climbing, there is a long list.

 

  1. I will make Regular entries in myFitnessPal.  It is so easy to get lost in the varieties of food choices and fuel the body with little or no knowledge of how much it is going to impact the functioning of the body. Good news! There is an app to take care of it. All I must do is spare a few precious minutes and input the food intake in my food diary. Knowledge is power said Francis Bacon. Currently Knowledge is readily available all you must do is google. But the more we find ourselves bombarded with information, it is equally important to filter and be careful with the way that knowledge is applied. (If you do not want to indirectly be impacted by the consequences)

 

  1. Top 5 things to Do: I will find creative ways of completing the top 5 things to do daily. Thus, I will be accountable and get closer to goals daily.

 

  1. Herb garden in the kitchen: Why miss out on herbs for seasoning because I couldn’t go to the farmers market or forgot to stop by at the shop? I will have my own herb garden in the kitchen & will watch the little herbs grow. Cilantro, mint, basil, rosemary, thyme & sage on my kitchen window sill. Can’t wait to breathe in the fragrance every day & have fresh herbs for cooking.

 

  1. Be active & agile: Complete at least 10,000 steps a day. Be on the move, walk while talking, run while listening to music, step exercises while watching TV and while talking over the phone.

 

  1. A country I have never travelled to before: Prepare the itinerary, apply for the VISA and prepare in advance. Learn or refresh the local language, commonly used phrases, download apps that may be useful in the new country, have pocket maps tucked in the bag, journal, power bank, currency etc.

 

8. Small things: I carry my own mug to the coffee shop. Minimize the use of plastic cups, paper etc. I carry my own reusable cloth bag to the grocery store, thereby not having to get the paper bags or the plastic bags.

  1. Digital Timeout: Once a month, I will stay away from laptop, phone, iPad, TV for one whole day and connect with nature and walk barefoot.

 

  1. Volunteer: I will spend time and effort in helping others in making this planet a better place to live.

 

 

Enjoy – relish – Savor the food


 

Notes from an eternal Food enthusiast

Ditch the calorie counter, stop looking at the meal plan apps. Dear People – Stop worrying, fussing, messing!!! I mean it. Sit back, relax and enjoy the food. We live in the age where borders are blurring, everything is global and cuisines from different parts of the world are available after a short drive. Give your taste buds the pleasure of tasting varieties of delicacies, rich tastes and flavors, appreciate the amazing intriguing process of cooking & creating culinary art. Your taste buds will thank you for the enriching experience and not just that food is an excellent mood enhancer. Haven’t you experienced that amazing feeling after having a sumptuous meal, finger licking good dish topped with a cool dessert? Oh! The very fact that I am writing about it, is triggering my salivary glands. Unbelievable, the power of food. Let me go grab some food, before I go on and pen down my thoughts.

Relish the food slowly. Don’t rush through the meal. Savor each morsel/bite of your meal, be grateful for you could create recipes, cool and share food with others. Be happy that you are blessed with a great appetite. Don’t starve yourself because some chart indicated so, some app dictated or a dashboard popped up and restricted you from enjoying a plate full of food. Instead, you decided to trash it. Imagine the plight of all those impoverished people in some remote corner of the world who struggle daily to have two nutritious meals a day. Are you going to let all these modern gadgets and apps fueled by technology, backed by industries, govern your way of having food? Have your meals the way they were meant to be had – the natural way. You eat when you are hungry, when you feel that your body is indicating that it needs fuel to satiate the hunger. Drink when you feel thirsty internally not when you get a beep from the timer indicating your quota of H2O to drink.

Who knows yourself best? Your doctor? Your personal trainer? An app on your so called smart phone, a bunch of algorithms or a spreadsheet? Your body knows what is best for you at any given time of the day and night. Isn’t it? Please do not mess with your inner voice. Listen, Live, Love food, eat, drink, Enjoy. Live spontaneously, you have an appetite – you feel hungry – you eat food…..delicious, yummy, healthy meals. Be conscious of your food intake, be aware of the distinction of what is healthy or unhealthy, which is beneficial, nutritious, natural or harmful, filled with preservatives and unnatural. No need to stress yourself out calculating calories, not eating but craving etc. When you are eating food natural way, enabling cells to repair and rejuvenate, providing nutrition and nourishment to your body and mind there is no need to worry about whether to count the calories are not, whether to follow a certain method or app, diet or detox etc. Live well, eat well, Life is good, enjoy food.

From the pages of Funny Foodie© by Vim

Reliving moments from the times spent climbing trees, plucking fruits and biting them without the thought of washing them, peeling oranges and relishing them, carrying around bunches of grapes and loving putting each grape into my mouth, cutting open the jack fruit, in spite of the sticky mess, picking berries in little baskets, making melon balls and eating whole mango until the juice dripped off on the dress. The best one is the fond memory of my loving dad scraping apple in a spoon and feeding it to me when I was a little baby and my teeth were too tiny.

From the street food of Bengaluru and Mumbai to freshly prepared meal on houseboat in Alappuzha in Kerala I have loved it all. From the crepes in front of Eiffel tower to golgappas in New Delhi I have relished them all. From the spicy greasy snacks to raw vegetables & greens salad I have savored them with equal zeal and enthusiasm. From home cooked sumptuous festive feast of 6-10 dishes served on a banana leaf to a creatively arranged exquisite dinner at an expensive restaurant I have satisfied the palette of my taste buds umpteen times.

There is more to it. Much more. I will never grow tired of food. There is more to learn, more to experience and more to create new recipes, cook, serve and enjoy.

Shakespeare in the park


Excited to watch a play in a park for the first time, my joy knew no bounds. One of the greatest play writer, his name is synonymous with ‘elegant writing style’ and his plays filled with range of human emotions and filled with incessant shower of phrases and verses that have mesmerized the readers and audiences around the world for centuries. I have great appreciation for his work. One fine day, I accidentally navigated to Wooden O website, found that the first play of the season “Hamlet” will be performed in a park close to my apartment. The next day was uneventful and I was just looking forward to sitting on the grass in the park and watching the play.

 

On the day, as I started to drive to the park, it started to rain. Nothing could dampen my spirits. Rain or Sun I am going to experience watching the play in the park. I was so filled with enthusiasm – how is it going to be? The actors and actresses? How will the stage be set up? It is one thing to go to a play in a theater in a big city like going to a Broadway show in New York, it is totally different kind of experience to enact a play in the park. I drove to the venue in the rain and saw people gathered, some sitting on beach chairs, some had set up tents, some were sitting on mats and umbrellas were hosted up all around the little makeshift white stage. Behind the stage were three white tents where the actors and actresses were resting, some taking power naps, some drinking sodas and one in particular fixing a hat. I walked up to the gentleman who was holding out programs to the audience. I told him how unprepared I was for the weather and that it is my first time in a situation like that. He said he would give me a couple of programs to place on the wet grass and sit on them. I didn’t feel like doing that so, I politely thanked him and walked over to the booth where the site manager was organizing things. I spoke to him about my predicament and asked if I could borrow a chair. He said that they were selling caps and umbrellas but they didn’t have any chairs. He did find a small fold able stool with three legs and handed it to me. I thanked him and walked with an umbrella, eager to set it up and be seated.

 

I returned to the front of the stage, found an empty spot on the grass, set up the stool, sat on it and opened my umbrella and held it between my neck and shoulder. I was raining incessantly and there was no hint of it stopping in a next couple of hours. The play started at 7 pm with an introduction by the site manager. As I looked around, I saw couples sitting on their chairs, holding umbrellas and with blankets wrapped around them, lying on mats on the grass wearing caps and holding on to plastic sheets in a desperate attempt to protect their dresses from getting wet, having sandwiches, cherries and drinking coffee. How I wish I had someone sitting next to me holding my hand and watching the play? Well, instead of following that wish filled train of thought, I concentrated on the play, actors’ performances and the familiar phrases, script of the play, wide range of emotions on display. I had gone to watch several plays before….to name a few – ‘My Fair Lady’ in Theater Royale in York, UK, ‘Mary Poppins’ @ Straz performance arts center in Florida, ‘China doll’ in Broadway, NY, ‘Kuch bhi ho saktha hai’ in Bengaluru, India and a number of plays in ‘Ranga Shankara’.

 

This enriching experience of watching a play in the park in the rain was beyond words. My love of English language, Shakespeare, rain – all coming together. Some of my favorite quotes from the play –

“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

“If we are true to ourselves, we can not be false to anyone.”

“To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.”

“To die, to sleep –
To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub,
For in this sleep of death what dreams may come…”

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”

“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?”

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.”

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

“Listen to many, speak to a few.”

 

I liked the performances of Hamlet, Horatio and Polonius. It was quite a spectacle actors and actresses walking around with iPad, iPhone and in modern day clothes, enacting a 16th century play that had been carefully adapted to the 21st century, and not far away from the park I could see the silhouette of the mountains. Getting drenched in the rain, feeling cold, having snap sweet peas and enjoying the play I realized how I am spending a wonderful evening alone and totally happy without a care in the world. “Blissful”. How sweet to be able to enjoy an evening of leisure after all the struggles of my life. I am so glad for everything and everyone in my life for everything happens for good. When the play was over and all the actors bowed I jumped up in joy and clapped acknowledging their awesome performances and applauding their talents. I put a few dollar bills in the hat and said bye. A beautiful evening comes to an end.

Wooden O

SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK

http://www.seattleshakespeare.org/

Sojourn in the land of Mayans


History whispers among the ruins and the remains: Sojourn in the land of Mayans

Imagine walking on the very land where thousands of years ago there was bloodshed, ball games, sacrifices, rituals performed by tribals. I was preparing myself in my mind and very excited on the plane ride to Mexico from Miami. I have always been fascinated by the subject: History. It is very important we learn about the past, evolution of the most complicated of all creatures – human beings, their varied cultures, practices, beliefs, behaviors, languages, traditions, invasions, civilizations etc. Each time I learn about a certain group of people in a certain region at a certain time in the history, I imagine how they led their lives, what made them strongly believe in certain rituals, how they molded their behavioral patterns, what was their journey like, how certain truths and facts embedded in a certain culture came in to existence or evolved over a period of time from the inception. During my travels, I have also been able to link the similarities in following certain protocols and culturally significant norms that were prevalent at the same time but in two different corners of the world. Makes me wonder and inspires me to turn the pages of history and learn more, travel more and reveal more about the vivacious nature of human life.
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My first leg of the journey welcomed me to the modern Mexico – the tourism, exotic locales, attractions, luxurious resorts, cultural extravaganza with mayan themes, spiced up display of traditional artifacts and modernized versions of shows. In the lap of luxury, enjoying a slice of ancient civilization, shopping for souvenirs, taking tequila shots and sipping margaritas were the many tourists and the busy guides. I say to myself – “There is certainly more to Mayan Mexico than this…..” Offcourse there is…..lets see – The mysticism of Maya culture and natural beauty

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Trendiest spot on all of the Yucatán Peninsula, Playa del Carmen is located along the Caribbean Sea in the state of Quintana Roo.It is also one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world, due to vibrant sea life and dazzling underwater caverns. Made me wonder how the modernization has impacted and transformed a small fishing village in to a tourist destination. After unpacking in Occidental Xcaret resort that reflected a sofisticated seaside grace and housed a Mexican-themed eco-archaeological park, I set out to explore in my own unsophisticated, unconventional way.

The “heart of the Mayan Coast”, Mahahual is very inviting and full of charm with the blue of the Caribbean for the eyes, sea breeze for the skin and sounds of the rainforest that captivate the ears. This scuba diving paradise has sea turtles, sponges, sea horses, manatees and whimsical coral formations. The Mayan civilization covered a vast territory and reached its zenith between 250-900 AD. Their legacy includes some of the finest jewels in today’s world of archeology: palaces, observatories, temple-pyramids and ceremonial sites. Many of these sites are still, over a thousand years later, in excellent condition. Surprisingly skillful architecture……

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Chichen Itza is a magical place, with the massive Pyramid of Kukulcan as an elegant centerpiece. Chichen Itza means “mouth of the well” and covers about 3 miles in area, built in the late Classic Period (800-1000 AD). It has the temple of the 1000 Warriors columns, Great Ball Court, The Sacred Cenote, Platform of Eagle & Jaguar, Temple of the Jaguar, The Observatory, Venus Temple, The Market, Casa del Venado and The Ossuary. Holding an umbrella in one hand, clutching a notepad and pen in the other, walking in the hot sun, pausing in between to view the site and make notes, asking numerous questions to the local guy (who I later came to know was a school teacher), learning more about Mayans, archeo-astro capabilities was a very memorable experience. Learning about the glory and splendor of Mayans and then looking at the ruins. Philosophically, there are things that come to an end and then there is a new beginning. There are marvels gleaming in the richness of culture, illumination of knowledge(scientific, mathematical, spiritual) and also the tragedies of snatching away lives in the name of sacred sacrifices, doomed in the darkness. Contrast!! Or is it just me overreacting to these historical facts and events because, I walk the path of non-violence and compassion.

Coba – means water stirred by wind. This city is nestled in the Yucatán’s thick jungle and surrounded by exquisite lakes. The city flourished between 600-900 AD and by the end of the Classic period, it had become a major Maya city-state with a population of about 60,000 inhabitants. Its control over the Yucatán trade routes gave the city a commercial sphere of influence aiding it to thrive. During the Post-Classic (1000-1200 AD), Coba lost its dominance to cities like Tulum as its political and commercial influence crumbled. The city is formed by a group of 5 clusters of buildings or complexes with a web of roads and causeways that interconnected them and facilitated exchange of goods and services with the rest of the Yucatán Peninsula. The most important clusters are: The Coba cluster, including the Church Pyramid and the recently restored Nohoch Mul cluster, which means ”big mound.” There are thought to be over 6,000 structures buried in the dense jungle in and around Coba.

Tulum – means ”wall, trench or fence” in the Maya language. The conquerors were amazed by the beauty, size and strength of this ancient fortress built on a cliff, overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean below. At the time it was built, the Maya sculpting in stone art had degraded to a large extent. What was lost in intricate decoration and grandiose architecture, however, is made up for by the beauty of the location. By the time the Toltecs had annexed the Maya lands to their vast territories, Tulum was a thriving merchant port and remained so until the Spanish arrived in 1518. The city reached its splendor in around 1200 AD and was a characteristic example of the Maya late Post-Classic era. I climbed down to the cenote and swam in the water taking in the splendid view.
The cenotes store in its crystal clear waters stories and legends of the Mayan culture, who still consider them sacred and believe they are inhabited by gods. Ancient Maya citizens thought the cenotes were windows to the other world and a connection to the afterlife; hence their rituals to the underworld gods were organized around these cenotes.

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The accuracy in the astrological calculations, based on the knowledge of cosmos – The reflection of that knowledge in the architecture – The methodical way of representing the seasons, symbolically and being aligned to the changes in the nature. They had created their own calendar thousands of years ago. My observations and careful interpretations of all this. Oh!!! Splendid. It made me wonder how highly evolved they were. At the same time, there is an indefinable depth of sadness as to the causes of their doom, decline of power and destruction. Seeped in ruins, shrouded in mystery are the ways of Mayans. The more you try to know the more there is to know. It is a never ending journey of unraveling. It is time to head back in to the confines of a cozy home. After all the travel, wandering in the sun, thinking about Mayans and their intricately complex world of accomplishments and unkind practices (my perception that absolutely differs from that of Mayans), I revel in the solace looking at the blue Caribbean waters and the vast sky, wondering how many Mayans would have had a similar experience and silent moments in the midst of nature thousands of years ago. Humans die, their legacy remains, magnificent monuments turn in to excavations, power – supremacy declines but the beauty of nature prevails and I chronicle my experiences reliving the moments that I spent in those destinations. Wait to read about the next one……….Adventurous and fun one – a Scintillating experience indeed!!

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Warli paintings : ethnic – simple


I started learning Warli paintings because of the sheer simplicity and the curiosity to find out more about the culture and tradition embedded within this wonderful form of art. Art is not just about creativity, it is also about re-inventing the history, it is also about depicting a certain way of life, it is also about culture and simplicity. I got fascinated by the wall paintings. I was more attracted to this form of painting because of the simplicity in it.

Warli paintings are the tribal wall paintings of the warli tribes of Maharashtra. Warlis are the largest tribes of Maharashtra live in northern outskirts of Mumbai. Womenfolks mainly do the paintings on the mud walls of the houses.Warli paintings generally depict the normal life like images of human beings and animals, along with scenes from daily life. They also depict hunting, dancing, sowing and harvesting scenes. White is the only colour used in creating these paintings, with occasional dots in red and yellow. This colour is prepared by grounding rice into white powder.

Warli is the name of a tribe, which resides in Thane district of Maharashtra on the northern outskirts of Mumbai and extends up to the Gujarat border. They are spread out in the villages named Dahanu, Vada, Talasari, Palghar, Mokhada and several other parts of the district as well. The origin of the warlis is yet unknown and no records of this art are found, but many scholars and folklorists believe that it can be traced to as early as tenth century A.D when man learnt to build walls of the house. The Warli Art (Warli Painting) was eventually discovered in the early seventies, and became popular for its unique simplicity and fervor for life.

The warlis were originally hunters but today they are farmers and work according to the monsoon. Thus their paintings are also influenced by the seasonal cycle as their life around them is directly reflected in the paintings.To understand and enjoy the paintings of Warlis, one should know their religion, their rituals and see life from their perspective. As the life of warlis link closely with nature, they worship the nature in different forms – Sun and moon, god of thunder, lightning, wind, rain, and several others. Gods are worshiped according to the seasons. In the coming of the first rice they worship the god of rain and it’s called the festival of Naranadeva. This is then followed by the worship of household gods, in the festival of Hirva, Warli paintings have various subjects or themes, which depict a story from their daily activities. Each painting has numerous elements giving a panoramic view. The subjects found in these paintings are various animals, trees, women, children, men, group of men dancing around a person playing the music, wedding scenes, descriptive harvest scene, birds, dancing peacocks, etc.

The paintings are also based on celebrations of Gods – Himai, Jhoting,Naranadeva,Tiger God, festival of Kansari- the goddess of grain and the deity of fertility, Palghata, is worshipped (during marriage ceremony). For the Warlis, life is cyclic repeating it eternally. Circles best represent the art of warli, which has neither an end nor a beginning. At all occasions – birth, marriage, and death they draw circles, symbol of Mother goddess. Death is not the end for them; rather it is a new beginning.

A few of the paintings that I have made in Warli style:

Painting W_01, symbolizes the celebration of day and night. The dancers are performing dance and celebrating the day to day life of bliss and prosperity. Day_night_Dance

Painting W_02, is about the celebration of music.

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Painting W_03, Dancers in a circle.

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Look forward to many more……….

My alma mater


My Alma mater – SSVM

“A place of worship” where I devoted seven years of my life – learning, imbibing values, gaining insight into Indian culture and inculcating habits that last a life time. This place is my school which nurtured my soul, enabled my growth and built a immune system in me against the evils of the society and bad people. I learnt dedication, humility, modesty, forged good qualities in to my persona and engrained in my brain that – knowledge is power.

To think of myself as a kid who was crying not to go to school, seems ridiculous. I have heard this story many times from mom and dad. I was very reluctant to go to school. I was very happy being at home surrounded by a big family. Mom had taught me prayers, national anthem, alphabets of three different languages (English, kannada and Hindi), basic mathematics and I was enjoying happily singing and playing. In the evenings, Dad taught me grammar and used to dictate some difficult words, thus making my learning very challenging. I was very happy at home as it was always play time. Since a few days, things had changed around home. Dad had been busy doing his research on schools to pick the best one for me and mom spoke to the neighbors about the schools, children going to school and the talk at home was about “school”. All I knew was I was going to be sent somewhere for a few hours daily. I was not happy with the thought of staying away from home even if it was for a few hours. Mom sat down with me and told me about new friends that I would make, teachers, books, uniform etc. I listened to all that with rapt attention but a skeptical look on my face. Then the day arrived, I woke up early in the morning, said my prayers, mom got me ready and then i started walking with mom dad holding their hands for about a mile. They kept telling me that everything will be fine and that I will learn a lot of things. There was a teacher in a white saree with green border waiting at the school entrance. Mom dad spoke to her and she smiled. I still remember her dimples. Then she took my hand in hers and started towards the steps that led to the classrooms.Tears flooded my eyes, mom dad were waving good bye and I could not control my tears any more. I started crying and stopped, pulled away from the teacher. Her name : Saraswathi, name of the indian goddess of intelligence and knowledge. So apt,(to think about her now) who lead me to my first stop of learning path- to my school. I began to rush towards dad. Teacher came towards me and lifted me up with her arms and cradled me and told my parents to leave as I would not stop crying as long as they were around. In spite of my pleas to let go and trying to get down she clutched me tightly without letting me go. I guess she had made a resolve in her mind. She carried me to the classroom and put me down in the first row. All eyes were on me, I stopped crying. I was introduced and I saw some smiling faces…I turned pink as I became very shy. Slowly I peered into a book placed near me, took a crayon and started drawing. At the end of that day, I had received applause for my drawings and quick solving of maths problems, some pats on the back from other kids and had shared my lunch with a bunch of other students. My teacher was very happy and I was very happy and hugged my mom as soon as she came to pick me up from school. She carried me home as I joyfully narrated all that happened at school.

Now, I visit my alma mater and refresh those memories….and pay gratitude with tear filled eyes for the wonderful place that created the ambience for my growth and enabled my evolution from a shy, introvert, innocent little girl in to a determined, passionate, patriotic individual. In these two decades, each time I have visited my school or drove near the school area I have been filled with the same delight and joy that I had experienced opening the gates and walking in on the second day of the school.

Dedicated to my school – Sri Saraswathi Vidya Mandir.
English translation – Salutation…. ( Named after Goddess Saraswathi)…Education….temple.