March 10, 2006

Barefoot In the Park

Filed under: Random — Kaveeta Oberoi Kaul @ 7:53 am

“It is not the greatness of a man’s means that makes him independent so much as the smallness of his wants”

William Cobbett

I experienced this, in my first tryst with truth while living at the Yoga institute, learning Yoga sutras and asanas. Apparently it was a mandatory stay prior to the year long teachers training course, prompted by the ‘love for anything Indian’ phase. Insiduously, however, I was ‘ trained’ in more ways than just in Yoga. I had no intention of becoming a teacher, especially after the course, since I felt it unethical in teaching solely the physical aspect of yoga, when it was meant to be ideally viewed as a body-mind relationship. Instead I taught at the Institute , for a while, where the purity of tradition was maintainable. The other reason I taught there, I confess, was selfish. I had to be in shape to be credible, so it compelled me to regularise my practise.

Once there, I was surprised to discover how little it is that we actually need. Life was suddenly, uncomplicated, simple and peaceful.

The routine we were made to follow was perhaps a way of life for our ancestors.No big deal there. They would have been possibly amused at the sillinesss of us having discarded that pattern, so assiduously worked on by them, in the first place.. Arising before dawn, meditating, positively energising oneself and ones surroundings, asanas, pranayams, frugal , healthy , nutritious, vegetarian diet, spiritual ponderings, efforts to contain ones thoughts in complete awareness,bonding with fellow ‘yogis’.

It was unimaginable that we, as in product of our times,a fairly pampered lot, fairly accustomed to our taken-for-granted- luxuries, would take to this simplified version of hermit-like life with amazing adaptability. Makes one wonder at the play of genes, and their responsibility towards this ready acceptance. We might have been a rather sane species , I suspect, in our previous ‘yogi’ avatars. Or am I speaking only for myself here? 🙂

At the end of our stay, none of us wanted to leave. We had felt cocooned and safe. Our body had been nourished, de-toxified and refreshed. The soul felt rejuvenated and cleansed of the burden of seemingly impervious impurities. We were as good as new.

Having to return to the world which now seemed strange, wicked,and bereft of innocence and its appreciation, made us misfits who had been condemned to hell after having had a taste of heaven. After teary farewells, much hugging, promises of undying friendships, keep-in-touch pleadings, we were grudgingly transported back to our homes by clueless family members,who having just witnessed an overly dramatic, emotional scene, were not quite able to fathom what the hullabaloo was all about, especially since at the commencement, a couple of weeks ago, we seemed a motley group of mature adults. This transformation was understandably, unimaginable.

The question that befuddled however was ‘How does one replicate the peace of that life ‘inside’ whilst in the world outside?”

Difficult but not impossible. After years of R&D, yours truly is gifting you the kernel of ‘her experimments with truth’, tried and tested, guaranteed.

What is needed is unwavering attention to the goal and a regular self analysis. Incorporation of the basic tenets of a yogic life, as much as possible, particularly in the areas of thought processes, diet patterns and exercises. Willful avoidance of falling into the trap of the ‘dil maange more’ mentality, so cleverly advocated by our ad gurus but so detrimental to our ‘dil’.

Apart from that , blueprint of a methodical work plan. In an effort to demolishing the wisecrack ” it is so simple to be happy, but so difficult to be simple”, let us show our mettle by proving it simply wrong. Begin at the beginning and sort out seriously, a ‘things that make me happy’ list. This is as good a start as any.. If you happen to be the ‘romantic’ kind, to whom the chirping of a bird, sound of the brook, silence of the mountains, echoes in the hills, lapping of waves on a sunlit evening, is music, then things are off to great start. Read further.( Give up, if the list includes, an island in Greece, art ,as only ‘Van Gogh’ or such like)

Recommended additions to the list,open to alteration from subjective perspective, chai and pakoras on a wet ,wet day, R.D. Burmans melodies, Mirza Ghalib’s Ghazals, the first bud on your precious black rose plant, a “mama, you are my best friend ” card from your kiddo, a warm, cheery,toothless smile from an old beggar woman who you treated to Paani Puri, the koel on your windowsill, the earthy incomparable aroma of the first rain, watching your fave film cuddled in the darkness of your room,undisturbed and free to sob heartily, being blown over by random acts of kindness from complete strangers, feeding oneself guiltlessly to huge helpings of Black Forest, while feeding the music system with Kitaro and Julio, marvelling spellbound at the myriad colors of sea-life, feeling the cool of a baby’s cheek, sharing notes such as these with your fellow beings. If any or such as these ,are capable of soaring your spirits to dizzy heights of sublime bliss…you got it made. There’s nothing to worry.

Life will turn out to be as joyful as a walk, barefoot in the park.

Chilling Reality

Filed under: India n Me,Random,Suicides murder women — Kaveeta Oberoi Kaul @ 7:20 am

by Anouradha Bakshi

Another exam suicide.. screamed the morning paper..

This is the fourth child who took his life fearing failure.. 4 kids from different backgrounds that we could not unite in life, found themselves united in the death they chose..

Taking your life is not an easy thing.. it requires courage.. and four children whose life had barely begun took that ultimate step.. because they thought they had not come to the expectations of some adult… their parents.. their school teacher.. the system..

To me these kids were far above others.. but a system made for the larger number does not recognise the worth of the unconventional child.. and in a country where marks are of the essence, there is no place for the one who excels in ‘other’ areas..

Something is terribly wrong… something we need to address now.. schools are necessary and so are degrees and certificates.. but what is wrong is when a child feels that there is no other way if he cannot survive it.. and here it is not a failure of the child but that of the adult be it the parent or the school teacher..

When I read about these tragic deaths I realised how close I was to having one in my own world.. I would like to share my story in the hope that it may help some desperate child..

my younger daughter S had very difficult school years, and though she had no learning disability, she just could not cope.. like all insensitive adults who want their kids to be super whatevers, I pushed her for many years, and she brave little heart did everything she could.. and did get to class IX.. then in spite of giving her best she again failed and that day when Isaw her crumpled little face I just said what she had been hoping to hear:. The words: “You need not go back to school..” came out in spite of myself.. and before I could think ahead a smile of pure gratitude lit up S’s face..

I never regretted that day.. S had always wanted to work with special kids and she trained for 5 years and gave it her best, and suddenly could do all she had never been able to.. today she runs project why with me and has earned the admiration of many.. and of all my achievements , I know this one that no one knows of, is probably the best… as for the first time I decided that i would stand alone and do what I thought best for my child.. Oh I had my share of what have you done, who will marry her etc . Some of my family members did not talk to me.. but I held on!

Parents and adults have to listen to children and recognised the cries for help that are sent out.. and then find another way and celebrate the difference of the child who cannot fit the mould!

Children should not have to take their own lives.. in a so called civilised world

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