Sunday, 16 March 2014

Who is your pillar of strength?

Often times we hear people saying that "She is my pillar of strength" or "He is my pillar of strength".

Are these pillars so called because of the extent of dependency on them? These pillars would be parents or spouse or sibling or a friend. These are the ones we turn to during tough times to be consoled or helped or sometimes just listened to. These entities are also the ones we share our joy with, during happy times. They have this aura of "I will take care of this. You don't worry" which draws us to them repeatedly, sometimes leading us to believe that we be completely lost without them.

So, who would we turn to when these entities are taken away from us for whatever reason? Go to pieces ? Find another such pillar of strength?

Wouldn't it be more beneficial, if these pillars helped the ones dependent on them, to find a source of strength which would never be taken away from them? A source of strength with lifetime warranty for oneself? Isn't that a very comforting, liberating and reassuring thought? A source of strength which will allow one to be a pillar for someone else?

In the journey to cope with all that life was throwing at me, my pillars while continuing to be so, have led me in their own ways to discover such a source. Life took a different hue after this self-discovery.

That source is within oneself.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


I used to visit my friend quite often. Sometimes when I was there, her kid used to ask me some doubts in her Science lessons. Being a Science enthusiast and one who enjoys teaching especially little kids, I used to enjoy clearing her doubts.

Sometime back, when the kid moved to the next higher class, my friend asked me if I can help the kid on a somewhat regular basis as and when my time permits, of course. I was elated.

Well, out of the several thoughts that came to my mind, I felt that it was a wonderful opportunity to ignite interest in Science in a young mind. Being somebody who is a staunch supporter of education, I saw it as  blessing for me to play a teeny-weeny role in someone's education and more so a girl child's education.

It also brought back some very nice memories of how a certain gentleman (a friend's brother's friend) used to take so much time, interest and effort in sharing his knowledge freely, with me and my friend about a particular subject. Both of us used to finish our classes and head straight out to his house for the lessons. No matter how tired that gentleman was from his long hours at work, as soon as he saw us waiting, he used to freshen up very quickly, get coffee (and sometimes even snacks) for all three of us and then sit down for imparting the knowledge. He used to make sure that we have understood the topics correctly no matter how many times he had to repeat or how much time it took. He never accepted even a single rupee from us, but only wished us well after equipping us with the much required knowledge. If at all we have achieved something in our lives today, his contribution certainly counts. Such selfless dedication is something of a rarity when paid tuition rule the day. And when my friend asked me to help her kid, I saw this as a Godsend 'pay-forward' for that very helpful gentleman's kindness.

As I sit with the child for the lessons, I become creative in articulating concepts in ways that the kid can relate to, understand and appreciate. I now see primary school teachers with more respect and admiration for their stamina & creativity. I have learnt the extent of my patience on myself when I try to see concepts through a child's eyes. I have learnt to think on the fly to make up stories which will help me draw simple parallels to scientific concepts and ideas. I have learnt to dig deep into my dormant memories to come up with appropriate simple experiments to help her see, feel, hear, understand and more importantly appreciate Science and the way it is applied in every day life. I have learnt how much joy and satisfaction one gets when one sees the light of understanding lighting up a child's eyes. The "A-ha" moments make it worth the while. It is so exciting to see her eyes all lit up, bubbling with questions and unable to hold them back.

Of course, internet and youtube is certainly a huge help, which we did not have when we were studying and trying to understand so many concepts like for example, how a heart functions. Everything about how a heart functions was left to our imagination what with only a grainy black and white pencil sketch of the heart accompanying the explanation.

It feels so good to go back to the basics and read about them all over again.

One day my friend told me that she was trying to teach some English lessons to the kid and she was finding it hard. The kid suddenly told her that  "Aunty makes learning so much fun and does not let go till I learn correctly". Then, my friend said that she also adopted the methods I use and after that things went fine. When I heard that, I felt that maybe I was doing something right if the kid is actually enjoying learning with me. I learnt to slowly develop confidence in my teaching abilities.

We adults after getting a degree or double degree and so on, think that we know a lot. Maybe we do. From this experience, I can safely say that our learning and understanding is really tested when we try to explain complex concepts to a little kid who has hardly any knowledge of the world around him. It's like trying to explain the taste of coffee to a person who has never seen, heard of, smelled or tasted coffee in his life before.

Suddenly, I started to wonder who is teaching whom.

Indomitable will

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will". 

Mahatma Gandhi said that and it comes as no surprise. He was the man who protested through fasting for days together. And isn't that one of the classic examples of the triumph of mind over matter?

Every one of us sees this playing out in our everyday lives, including the times we need to drag ourselves from that warm bed on a cold winter morning. Or when we try to stop from taking that second helping of that very delicious dessert. We see this at play more visibly in sports when the sportsmen / sportswomen push their bodies to the maximum. In hospitals sometimes, we see people survive ordeals by the sheer strength of their will. Is it any wonder that it is said "Where there is a will, there is a way"? Of course, there are variations to this, one of which says "Where there is a will, I want to be in it".

During one of my trips, I was on a glacier visit which required me to walk from the car park for about 1.5 km to the place where I was allowed to have a view of the glacier. The walk is on a very rocky & pebbly terrain, a river bed on which the rainwater from the surrounding peaks during rains and the water from the melting glacier will flow during summer. This river bed is expansive and is interspersed with several rivulets that keep crossing our path in many places. This walk needs decent shoes. One can safely add another kilometer or two to the already mentioned 1.5km, if they want to reach the viewing point closest to the glacier. Most part of this walk is on the above mentioned river bed.

Add the cold temperature and windy conditions and we have jackets clad huddling masses moving quickly over this rough terrain.

In this condition on the way back, I suddenly came across a lady maybe in her mid-thirties or late thirties in a wheelchair wheeling herself on the same path I had taken towards the glacier. Though she had a companion, it appeared that she wanted to wheel herself. The determined look in her eyes and the brisk pace at which her hands turned the wheels left no room for doubt that here was a lady who refused to be beaten into submission by her inability to walk.

Rocky Terrain on the way to the glacier seen in the distance; The lady in wheelchair is on the bridge heading to the glacier.

I almost raised my hands to applaud this gutsy lady but was not sure how it would be received. I just stood there and watched her progress in silent admiration, awe and respect. I must say that the way she carried herself inspired me. I realized that we need to come across more such heroes in our lives to really motivate us into achieving more.

I won't be surprised if she went all the way to the foot of the glacier and back, on her own steam that day.

Hats off to your indomitable will, lady. May others draw inspiration from you, to persevere.

Man in motion

As I went for my morning jog in the new locality for the very first time, I came across several people in varying degrees of motion.

A couple with slight paunches ambled by discussing household matters; a determined elderly lady stood on the side walk facing the rising Sun doing some exercises to keep herself flexible while her water bottle and identity card rested on the near-by fire hydrant; a physically challenged lady walking with a purposeful gait to get her daily fix of exercise; some youngsters timing their short sprints & serious running; while some youngsters came out only to show off their fancy running gear sans running; some were walking briskly, while some were out for their early morning stroll. Their ages ranged anywhere from late teens to maybe late seventies.

While the ones really out for some exercise were comfortably clad and did not sport an iPod or iPhone or any such device, some of the show-offs certainly did have colourful earphones sticking into their ears, colourful shoes, colourful attire, the works. There were some serious runners with their iPhones doubling up as pedometers, music players and whatnot.

As I became more regular with my jogs, I figured out who were the regular ones and who were the "flash-in-the-pan"s. What struck me most about this cross section of regulars was their steadfastness & discipline. Waking up early in the morning every single day and be there promptly to take care of their health.

Often times, I have been cheered up by the smile shared by some joggers who jog past me. Earlier I was a bit hesitant to greet fellow joggers / walkers lest they look through me like some of them had. But I persisted and was finally rewarded. Now, some nod their head slightly, some bend their head slightly, some give a very energetic & cheerful “Good morning” while some give a smile & a wave. I realized how nice it is to be greeted back so early in the morning and felt glad that I persisted. Yes, there are still some who maintain a serious face and look through me when I smile at them. And there are those bulldozers who want the right of way even on a jogging track.

In particular, I have found the regular presence of the elderly lady and the physically challenged lady, very inspiring and reassuring. Their never-die spirit has my admiration and respect.

From the past few days, I haven’t seen the elderly lady in her usual spot anymore. Not knowing whom to ask about her, I continued with my pavement pounding, inspired by her determination and perseverance to keep herself healthy to the extent allowed by her age.

I hope, wherever she is, she is fine.

Numero Uno

A decision was made. This blog is born.

Thoughts on various things are clamouring in the head to be let out. They stumble over each other to be the first one to see the light of the day.

Calmness prevails, paving the path for a more cohesive and orderly way for the thoughts on almost everything under the Sun, to troop out.

So many why's, who's, what's, when's, where's, how's...

Well, life is filled with questions. Answers to some are obtained and some remain like that.

It is said that answers come when the time is right.

Reflections, however, continues meantime.

You are welcome to peek at my reflections which are totally internal.