STEPPING INTO THE NEW YEAR TOGETHER

“We heal, not in isolation, but in togetherness”

This quote is so true, especially in the current times, when going out still contains a little risk. We managed for 2 years, sitting inside our homes and managing to stay together virtually. We all hope and pray that the new year marks the end of the scary coronavirus and the world is freed from the COVID pandemic.

We planned a get-together on the very first day of the new year. I met my sister Prabhjot after 2 years, though didn’t feel like meeting her after ages, as we are in constant touch with each other through WhatsApp. However, it was different for our kids, who rarely video call each other. My elder son doesn’t like to talk to his friends virtually. He says that he misses them and wants to meet them, physically, face to face. The kids have really suffered a lot during this pandemic. It feels bad that they missed out a lot due to isolation. 

Yesterday, our sons were super excited since morning and were so happy to meet each other after a long gap. They played, laughed out loudly, danced, and had fun together. Now, they are looking forward to more such frequent get-togethers, and so are we.

Spending time together with family & friends, sharing joy & happiness, having endless talks, and eating delicacies are indeed delightful. With a beautiful start to this new year, I wish the rest of the days are well spent, for everyone. I pray that we get to meet our loved ones often and share the good times, for togetherness is a wonderful place to be in.

Stay happy! Stay together!

SOME SPECIAL CONNECTIONS …

This Saturday, me and my father visited the RTO office. He was due for his DL renewal. While he was talking to the agent and getting his paperwork, I couldn’t help but peep into the Yonex shop that was nearby. I informed my father that I would be back in a few mins and requested him to wait there if at all he finished his work early. Slowly, I walked towards the small shop. It is hardly 15 feet by 10 feet store with huge posters of P V Sindhu. There was a display of all kinds of badminton rackets. However, I wasn’t interested in the rackets. I was searching the other side of the counter for a salesperson.

Meanwhile, one of the sales representatives approached me asking, what I was looking for. It’s not ‘what’, but, ‘who’ you should be asking, I slowly murmured. While I was lost in that thought, “Aastha, is that you?“, said a voice. “Thank God!! Yes, it’s me. But, how did you know it was me from behind?”, “Ah, that was because I was watching you in the mirror”, he said. “I am so glad to meet you after so many years. I have come here a few times, always wondered if you were around, but, never really came inside. I wasn’t sure if you would remember me before I walked in”, there was no stopping to my talking. “Of course, you and Ali used to come to buy rackets and shuttlecock cans. You always insisted for the feathered cocks”. “Yes, true. This was our regular store back then”. “So, what are you looking for now?” he asked. “Honestly, I came here only to see you. Sorry. There was no intention to buy anything”, said I. We laughed talking about so many memories.

It felt like yesterday all those instances happened, yet, it has been more than a decade or even more. Time just flies was the thought I had. “How did you remember my name?“, I asked him. “That wasn’t because of you. It was because of your father. He bought a badminton racket from me once. It was one of the first makes of lighter ones from Yonex. Immediately after buying the racket, he wrote your name on the leather cover. I asked him who it was and he said that’s his daughter’s name. Later on, you came several times along with Ali, but I had no clue you were Aastha, until one fine day you came along with your father. I connected the dots. I could have been wrong too. BTW, how is your father?“, inquired he.

“Oh, he is right here, renewing his DL”, my eyes lit up while saying that. He insisted on meeting my father. We all had coffee together. Though my father did not remember him, he certainly remembers visiting that shop. The conversation went longer than I expected. That was a heart to heart connection.

Before I met him, I had so many thoughts in those few mins while I was walking towards the store. Is he still there? How he would be? How did covid affect his business? Is he still the owner of the shop? and so many other thoughts. The only hope was to meet him and feel good about it. I wasn’t expecting him to recognise me either. Yet, the conversation with him made me so happy.

Me being who I am, let me tell you, I wouldn’t have made an inviting gesture to start a conversation back then. I would just walk into the store, make the purchases and return. I don’t remember talking about anything other than why I was there, We don’t even realize but, some connections we make have so much impact on our lives. Though we don’t call them friends or family, those connections are still very special. They enlighten us when we remember them. At some point in life, those people were meant to cross paths with us and for good. We never know how such a connection can make us happy in future. 

“Communication is merely an exchange of information, but connection is an exchange of our humanity.”  – Sean Stephenson

THE TRUTH OF GAINING KNOWLEDGE

Do you want to earn $200,000, just by signing a contract? All you need to do is fill in a form, share your photograph, and a 100 minutes voice recording.

YES, YOU READ IT RIGHT!

This week among so many news, one shocking news I heard that literally seized my attention – “Now Robots can also work, behave, move, talk, look, and even reproduce babies like humans”.

When the entire world was on halt, we were locked up within our four walls, some of the brightest minds of the present time have developed human robots known as XENOBOTS. They have been created from biological tissues. They are living robots that can move, heal, and reproduce on their own. They were created by assembling stem cells from embryos into synthetic life forms. With the help of supercomputers, 3D blocks and algorithms were developed and then was injected into life. The life that is taken from African clawed frogs and finally it evolves into a child Xenobot. Now, all they need is to give them as many human faces and voices through the voice modulation process. Probably, in the very near future, there will be one man enjoying the Netflix series at home and his Xenobot fighting the nuclear war somewhere 1000 miles away.

It might sound like an exaggeration or some Hollywood story but sadly, THIS IS A TRUTH. Undoubtedly, at the first watch, this news wowed me but it also triggered some basic questions in my mind –

  • WHAT IS THE INTENTION OF CREATING XENOBOTS?
  • WHO CAN GUARENTEE THAT IT WILL NOT BE USED FOR DEADLY PURPOSE?
  • WHY ON EARTH DO WE NEED SO MUCH KNOWLEDGE?

Interestingly, when the scientists were questioned about the intention of creating Xenobot their answers weren’t sufficient rather it provoked some more questions like, WHO ARE FUNDING THIS PROJECT? And for your information, one of the most elite technological military innovation agencies has partially funded this project.

Intention precedes Action. Human desires for knowledge are always intended to accumulate affluence. Because the common idea is the more powerful you are the more secure you are WHEREAS the reality contradicts entirely. Power needs more power to secure it. (Probably, that’s why the affluent ride behind bulletproof glass doors). The higher altitude of power you live, the higher risk of threat exists for you.

Human pant for affluence becomes so forceful that often man exceeds every limit. And the ground of compromising with ethical & moral principles becomes the bridge for the gap between desiring power and consuming power.

In the entire explanation, alongside the pride of affluence, fear, peace lessness, pain, insecurity, loneliness, etc are constants in the life of an affluent. Once my dear brother Chiradeep quoted me, “There’s always a sense of insecurity of losing the top spot even for affluent man on earth”.

The entire reasoning reminds me of the Bible verse written by wise King Solomon, “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

P.C: CBS NEWS

BE READY… IT’S GONNA CHANGE

The world keeps changing in fact they say Change is the only thing that is constant.

Knowing that fully well I still resent change.  

I still pick up the baby or kindergarten photos of my kids and exclaim… They were so cute as babies. Why did they grow up? Did I really enjoy their childhood or was I just busy with the mom chores and waiting for them to grow up and be independent?

When my parents-in-law come to stay with me I am a bit rattled for a few days. I resent the change in my routine. Mind you I share a very cordial relationship with them. But just that it takes me a few days to get adjusted to them staying with us. And vice versa when they leave. Again takes me a couple of days to get my mojo back. Do I call it inertia?

I was too angry and distraught when my husband changed his status from being a salaried person to being a businessman. I couldn’t come to terms with the many ways my life got affected. So much changed. Again it’s not that I was blissful in his salaried status we had our share of problems and it was a well-thought-out decision but still, I resent the change.

I have been looking back at the past with nostalgia-tinted lenses and remember only the good part. Not the part where I was longing for a change in my life because I felt trapped in a rut.

Ha Ha I know it’s a classic case of damned if I do damned if I don’t.

So my life lesson for today is, enjoy your present and live it to the fullest. And don’t resist change. Because change will happen whether we like it or not whether we are ready for it or not. I am ready to embrace the change and hopefully, I am better equipped for the lemons life is going to throw at me.

SOME CHANGES ARE TENDER YET INEVITABLE

I experience comfort when,
I yearn for the place of my own,
I feel the warm,
of being grabbed in my mother’s arm.

The place where memories are established,
and dreams are never defeated,
The place where each other connects through a chain,
with love, care and affection.

The feeling of home is a blessing,
where an unconditional blanket of love acts as surrounding,
The feeling of home is like returning back to comfort zone,
when the world seems to be alone.

Staying away from my parents in a distant land,
I am unable to hold their hands,
No matter how much my heart aches in staying apart,
I”ll always embrace you in my heart.

GUESS WHO ELSE NEEDS YOUR ATTENTION

Crossing the realms of love and sacrifices that keep relationships alive and working, there is a highly guarded zone that we are not privy to – “Sometimes I am Unhappy”. Unhappiness crops from the fact that we are mentally not prepared to delegate or chuck down the pressures off our shoulders to prepare and keep them strong for responsibilities. Over the years our brains have been fed with extremely wrong notions about how roles (as in relationships) should be carried out. And what rules the roost among such manipulated picklists is Sacrifice which more concisely mean “Stop caring for yourself”, “Never Complain”, “Speaking up, out & against strictly prohibited” and at the end of the day frown and fall asleep with resentment.

Over the years of observation and study, I have realized we often misuse the word “Sacrifice” in our lives. An instance: I sacrificed my last slice of pizza for the sake of my son and spent the whole night navigating through the Pizzahut brochure and drooling over the colorful images and not to mention that I mentioned my bravado act to my husband zillion times. Does my act count as Sacrifice? My understanding says No because sacrifice demands both detachment and satisfaction as a result. And in this case, both were missing. And this is how dissatisfied lives look like under the camouflage of sacrifice.

Am I suggesting selfishness? Please hold your horses  We have this bad habit of polarising everything (if you have an interest in Indian politics you will understand this better  ) There is always a midground for addressing the issues concerning our lives. If you are purchasing an unaffordable ticket to a Rockband concert that you love giving your child’s term fees a miss or ignoring your next month’s home loan EMI, that’s Selfish (you can add idiotic too).

But instead of involving in such compulsive, impulsive, stupid acts you have arranged a karaoke night at your place with your friends and family or had a good cards game night. Now you are in a happy space even if you have given up on something you like and definitely sans rant “Maine kya kya nahi kiya iss ghar ke liye par uff nahi kiya” (there’s nothing that I haven’t done for this house and never complained), ironically in a complaining tone. This is the realization that I am suggesting as this is the change I have discovered that I should go for – Stop Complaining, Start Living, and Loving. First things first we should stop tagging words like “sacrifice” at the drop of a hat; That word got a deeper connotation to it. These are the little adjustments we are making with many financial, situational, emotional constraints and forces in work. We in relationships mean us shouldering the responsibilities prioritizing others ahead of us, be it our kids, parents or partners, and so on. And in our exercise of keeping things afloat day in and day out we are somehow ignoring someone really important calling us from within, it’s our innate self only, demanding some moments of happiness and relaxation. And there’s nothing to feel guilty about it. If you can’t keep yourself happy you can’t do the same to your loved ones too. Let me give you a picture of the other side of my personality which I am unapologetic about – I am a very irritated person almost like a twilight beast as the Sunday evening approaches and if my kids don’t tuck into their beds by 8PM they see the worse in me. I simply hate when Sunday evenings when they prolong, for I am waiting for my Monday week off following Sunday, in absence of which I might go insane and not mention the heavy toll on my physical health. And my rude behavior that might come across as unruly, unexpected, and unacceptable on every account is simply an indication that I need my space to rejuvenate myself to carry off my responsibilities as a mother and a wife. If they need me, I need me too, isn’t it?

My call to you all – You have to be present there in good health – mentally, physically and emotionally because cardboard cut outs can’t give warmth to your loved ones. And yes they are not superhumans to know how you feel unless you express. If sensitivity is alive well and good, if god forbid not then don’t be guilty for you are not a magical wand either!!!

SETTLING DOWN WITH P4

Transitions are inevitable in life. And I actually love to go through them, experiencing new flavours in life. I am not a person who enjoys routine. I always have enjoyed something new in life. But when these transitions are difficult and painful, I definitely look for quick restoration from them.

Deciding to leave Kolkata this year was as historical and important in my life as deciding to live there in the year 2001. Everyone was as shocked as me when they or even I realized I am back in my native place.

Cuttack, my native place is way different now than how it was 20 years back. I was not unaware of it as every year I used to visit home but I was unaware of the feeling to be here for a lifetime, living after a long gap. It took almost 3 months to adjust to the conditions of my native place, my home. But while settling down I got sick with a disease that was very painful. I had never endured so much physical pain even for my cardiac issues. Recovering from it was what I wanted so desperately almost 30 days before.

Exactly 30 days before I was invited by my former boss (who is my uncle as well) to teach Accounts and Accountability in one of the training programs of the organization where I was working a few months ago. The training was in Bhubaneswar. I had to travel 30 odd kilometres from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar for the same. I made necessary arrangements for the day and sat down to prepare my presentation as well as the materials that I wanted to hand over to the participants. During that time, I still had the pain but you won’t believe as I started preparing for the training, I felt better.

The day came and I taught what I was supposed to teach. I came back in the evening and thanked God for the opportunity and grace that He provided for the whole day. I was kind of feeling bored of my new life after suffering for two months here. But after that training program, I started to feel better and better each passing day. As I look back now, I feel so relieved that I don’t endure that pain anymore.

But, in the following days, I sat down and started listing out, what I have to do and what I have to leave permanently. We do get easily carried away with things around us and forget to prioritize between the most important with the lesser important ones. Eventually, I had to cut off a lot of things that I love to do against achieving the most important ones in life.

I arrived at FOUR goals. Lovingly, I call them P4, after a lot of Planning and Praying during the last one month’s time. And I am going to share them with you as under:

  • PEOPLE: I have always said, that I am a people person. I love crowds; being with them as well as interacting with them. But I have to have certain DO’s and DON’T’s while being with people. I made it a point that I won’t be in a place where I am not contributing to the core needs of people around me. For example, if I have to be on Facebook or Instagram for people and connect to them, then I have to make sure I am contributing to their lives, their needs. If I am not seeing the opportunity to add value to their lives then I must take a step back. So, I will be focussing on teaching, counseling, and listening to people instead of doing anything else catering to my own needs.    
  • PUBLISH: I have a lot of things to publish for the same reason – People. Motivating and inspiring them through my articles and poems, which I have been doing it past many years. But I need to grow from just writing as a blogger to becoming a published author. Not that I want to have a name but I want to inspire and motivate people in a better way by publishing my books. I have been procrastinating on this matter for such a long time, but not anymore. I will have to do it very soon.
  • PROCLAMATION: What I proclaim through my words and deeds is my identity and who I am today. I proclaim God’s eternal love through my saviour Jesus Christ. If I can’t love people as they are and in the way God loves them, then my life is futile. This is an integral part of who the person Chiradeep is. And without this proclamation, I am null and void. So, I will be striving all the more to proclaim God’s love to the people I connect with, whether in person or on virtual platforms.
  • PROFESSION: It is really not very important for me unlike how the world is so crazy about their profession. But. ‘What do you do?’ If I ever need to answer this question instead of looking at the questioner blank, I should be sure of what my profession is. So now, I made up my mind to fix this and can say my profession is writing and translating (of course with my terms).   

Trust me, I am truly very happy for the past 30 days of my life, trying to be more focused on what I should be doing as I settle down with my P4.  

Friends, I would suggest, don’t be biased and totter here to there. Focus on your strengths and talents and know, how God wants to use you. Plan it out, prayerfully and settle down as I did.

Stay Blessed!