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.


When I lost someone I loved beyond words……

When I lost someone I loved beyond words……
who was an integral part of my childhood……
A kindred soul in who I saw compassion, love and affection….

A rainy evening, I am busy watching a hindi comedy movie “golmaal” on Television. Ajji, my dearest grandmother was leaving to go to my uncle’s house. I reluctantly left the living room and went to the gate, said bye to her and came back. After a few hours, it is around 10 PM in the night I heard someone knocking at the door. Mom rushes to the door and find my panic stricken uncle at the door blabbering in a hurry that granny is not well and is unable to speak anything. Dad and mom immediately leave in the scooter and I am left in the house to look after my younger brother and little sister. After an hour they return back with tear filled eyes and my grandmother lying in the back of my uncle’s jeep. No one had to reveal the news to me…I understood that she is gone, she is no more. I ran out in my night dress on my barefoot and went to the back to see inside the jeep. She looks so peaceful as if she is asleep and any moment she is going to open her eyes, get up and hug me. I could not believe just a few hours ago I spoke to her and now she is no more. That moment my life changed forever. I couldn’t get any tears in my eyes. My mind was flooded with memories of listening to her hundreds of stories, lying on her lap, watching the stars, falling asleep listening to the lullabies. She was an important piece of my childhood. With her death my beautiful childhood came to an end. The seriousness took charge of me, responsibilities seized me…..I realized how intensely sensitive being I am. How fragile life is…how easily I was robbed of my adorable granny who always made me happy. Then began the journey of questions….unanswered, terrifying, unbelievable. After that fateful night, Life is so different and I feel the void in my life which remains unfilled and will never be filled.

I remember vividly her uncanny ability to weave stories for me…my imagination took shapes and I would be transported in to fantasy lands, with her words…I could easily make movies in my mind…plenty of them. The sweets she prepared for me, the small balls of spicy yummy rice she would place in my palm and make me eat, the varieties of snacks she would fry for me, the butter she would get for me as I loved eating butter, the jasmine flowers she tied with a string and decorated my lengthy plaited hair, the beautiful colored bangles, ribbons and anklets she picked for me, games she taught me, sweets she taught me to cook, the swing in which she would make me sit and the rocking chair in which we both used to sit…….I think of all these and my eyes are filled with tears, but I dare not cry…she would never want to see my tears. She was very brave and had overcome a lot of misfortunes in her life with smile. Her captivating smile …..empathy, caring nature, unconditional, exceptional love for me will live forever as part of me in the depths of my heart. Though I lost someone I adore when I was in school,I live with her memories, I close my eyes and imagine her face, her smile, I feel her warmth and affection. I miss her hugs though. The moments spent on her lap are the incredible moments I miss even today.The long walks we went together, shopping for knick knacks, trinkets, flowers we picked carefully for worshipping God are all not mere memories but important bits in the tapestry of my little world.

I would go with her and watch her, nurture the crops, water the plants, feed the animals. Just being with her, clinging on to her filled me with immense joy which I can not express in words.
She treasured me as if I was the most precious thing ever….and no one ever made me feel that way after she went away to another world. She is the one who showed me goodness, pleasantness, what it means to give unconditional love and genuinely care, how to treat with kindness etc. In my mind she remains synonymous to “goodness in the world”. There is no better way of describing her in a few words.

Whatever the mood I am in, however bad the day was, whichever state I was in, I would run to my granny and hug her and I would feel safe, relieved of all the stress, I would feel so free and light as if everything in the world is good. The love that poured out of her eyes, kind face,her sweet smile, caring touch and the bond between me and her is something that I feel even now, after decades. I still feel her presence and her absence in many ways. It is untrue when I hear phrases like – with time memories fade away, we move on in life and distract ourselves from the loss of loved ones. The feeling remains deep within, it is accessible any moment throughout our life time and the missing part is irreplaceable, invincible and will remain so. We just have to live with the loss and accept it gracefully for there are somethings we do not understand in life neither through science nor otherwise.

Who am I?

    Sometimes when we stand in front of the mirror…need not be a moment of self introspection or  self realization..  For a brief moment we pause and wonder…who am I?

     A daughter to my parents, sister to my siblings, a student to my teachers, co-worker to my colleagues, writer to my readers, teacher to my students, a kid when I play with kids in the neighbourhood, reliable trustworthy friend to my friends, and someday a lover to someone special…so on and so forth. We all play multiple roles at various stages of our lives. We are failures in  some areas and great success stories in others. In this journey of life, through ups and downs, learnings and pleasures, smiles and tears, there is this one constant “me”. Beyond all this who am i? Though this article is supposed to be about me….my life reflects a million other lives…in a million ways…

wondering ….how?

There are so many people out there, contributing to make this planet a better place to live in…to make it more greener, those who strive to conserve wild life, people who think about the welfare of the fellow human beings and well being of the poor, downtrodden and impoverished lives. I am one among them. That is who I really am. Someone who cares about the world and all the creations in it.Beyond the way people perceive me, I would like to be known simply as a simple human being who walked the path of non violence and compassion.

A sneak peek in to my little world. I grew up in India, studied electronics engineering as that was my passion, travelled 18% of this planet working with different companies on assignments and on adventurous vacations. I am still learning, growing and nurturing with zeal and enthusiasm. In my peer group, I am better known as an inquisitive person with positive attitude. However worried and petrified I am from within, I come out as a confident, daring person. I don’t share worries and negative thoughts with others however close they are. Even in the midst of a catastrophe, I remain cool and maintain my calmness and cheerful attitude towards life.Because I always want to have a positive impact on people around me and create a positive ambience.  So, here it is ….who am I? Vimala paranjyothi….a Sanskrit word which means pure, eternal light, a beacon which glows forever. I strive to remain true to my name and sustain it’s aptness. Believe me, it’s quite challenging…

Since childhood we are asked this ubiquitous question many times…Who you would like to be? Who do you want to become? The answer to that question by me has always been. – I would like to be just “me”. I am happy and content being me.

I would like to conclude this little blog with a favorite quote of mine – “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Toast to an inspiring mentor

Toast to an inspiring mentor – Toastmaster.
An exciting journey from being a silent listener to becoming an eloquent speaker.

Toastmaster meeting: A carefully planned agenda, speeches, competent speakers, guests, ribbons,table topics and applause….In the midst of all that, a silent listener….
I would be sitting there mind full of thoughts, ideas skimming to the surface of the mind…to form words and articulate in front of a crowd. I wouldn’t make an attempt to actually get up and go on to the stage. What stopped me? My very evident self-awareness? Worry about making mistakes? Nervous about “what if I don’t get to a natural flow of words? What if I stop in the middle?” those were just my own inhibitions, the imaginary borders I had drawn myself, the obstacles I had imagined and helped them grow in to huge giants. I was in my comfort zone, sitting there sipping water/juice listening to somebody making an attempt to speak. What is the use of all the thinking I do, if I cannot express the thoughts? What is the use of knowledge if I don’t have a platform to share it? Why am I hiding? From what? From my own self who is ebullient, eloquent, who is an artist, who doesn’t shy away from criticism? I can seamlessly perform different roles and connect with different kind of audiences when I am out there on the stage performing dance, singing, presenting in a conference about the subject I am passionate about. Why is it so different when I am conscious of the crowd, when it is about just speaking in a toastmaster meeting? I can easily wear multiple hats and juggle with topics and transition from one subject to another during coffee table conversations. Why is it so different in a formal setting as in a Toastmaster meeting?

Now that I have let myself out of the comfort zone, grown out of shyness, it is a very different experience. I don’t need to be asked to speak. I volunteer to speak about table topic, I love to perform the different toastmaster roles, take on every opportunity that comes my way to express myself efficiently. I am not happy about my talk 100% all the time. At least I make an attempt to improvise each time. Every time I feel better, the more I talk the Better I feel, I guess that in itself is a sign of improvement and I am on the learning curve which will never become straight.
– Vimala Paran

This article is dedicated to Alex Salas.

Inquisitive Speaker

It is easier to pen down your thoughts in a journal or type on your ipad…but believe me it is much more difficult to express and articulate whats on your mind in front of audience…sensing their bewilderment, shying away from their inquisitive eyes, pondering looks …isnt easy

Speech impediments can be many and can crop up in many ways…make their presence felt on a number of occasions.

You would have heard of native speaker, good speaker, even excellent speaker, great orator, “inquisitive speaker” coined by me may be rather new in the speech circles….but I am sure there is no such a person like “Perfect speaker”, because it is not possible for such a person to exist. We are all learning, improvising on our speaking, articulating abilities, if we get to the level of perfect speaking then there wont be any necessity to learn, unlearn or relearn, there wont be an element of improvization and that is not going to happen ever.

Happy speaking and improving.