Sunday, November 25, 2012

rehab 2.0 complete!

Finally the hypodermic needle is off from my hand! The doctor says I do not need any more IV fluids bombardment! I finally have a concession that I am going to need only oral drugs!

It sucks to be in a hospital! No wonder, I  escape from the guard and slip into the coffee day  whenever possible- or just love to stroll around and see those kids play in the playfield opposite tthe block I am hosted in Apollo.

It is interesting to see how quickly human brain cribs about small discomforts! Just a week ago - In the ICU I was struggling to lift my left hand and left leg! And now I crib that I do not have enough outdoor time :)

It has been a week - but let me be as accurate as possible for chronicling the events here. This Otherwise usually personal blog of mine- I intend to open it to upto larger audience for scientific scrutiny to help them understand what are the critical factors in battling for health.

C and I were discsussing some plans of how we would launch our next product...19th Morning around 1 am or so - C noticed that I was repeating things and was getting drowsy. i told him that I need to lie down immediately.... something told me i needed blood to flow to my brain. I asked for pillows to be stuffed under  my legs and then I told him he needs to call my dad immediately and to take me to the hospital.I knew I was struggling to speak and noticed some slight slur..So I checked with him "Am I coherent?.. Even though he said "yes" - I wanted a paper and pen and I scribbled "call dad.. Take me to hospital"... I then said search for my uncle's number on my phone and call him or my aunt and listen to their advice. He could not locate their numbers easily... but he could reach dad.

It was gettig scary every minute...I lost sensation of my left leg and left hand. I needed re-assurance.. I held my left hand with my right ... and I told C- " right hand knows i am holding something.. it might as well be yours! there is nothing which tells me that I am holding my own left hand - except visual evidence that my left hand is in my right hand!."

Even in that time of panic,,, a very interesting thought appeared in my mind "why the hell am I speaking in English and not telugu?". It still is a mystery that I felt at ease with my english than with telugu at that instance.

I always knew that I was blessed/cursed with the ability to analyze my own thoughts... Neela calls it a blessing... but a lot of times I felt otherwise. For a person who can analyze his own thouhgts... a powerful relaxing tool called "rationalizing your acts/behavior" and "blaming it on others or circumstances" is literally non-existent!.

So over last few years, with Neela's help I learnt to be comfortable with myself and not be too harsh with myself. I can never thank her less for her help. She would  credit either "efforts at japa/meditation" or" Guruji's grace...and she could well be right. But intellectual side of my brain tells me it is her extreme patience,  love , care and "extremely practical mentoring " that helped me work on ways to be comfortable with my shortcommings.

The ability to record and analyze my thoughts at "one-level-above" was active even in extreme scenarios. I knew every minute and thought when I had my heart stroke 6 years ago. And ditto last week when my brain was under attack! How else could I explain why I was questioning "dude!why are you speaking in English?" at a time of emergency.

Dad came in ... and I was rushed to Apollo on uncle's advice. I was desperate to vommit on the way .. I had some junk biryani -Remember Swami Vivekananda's suggestion " anything that harms your physical or spiritual progress.. avoid it like poison?"- I hope to remember this piece next time I am tempted to eat anything which can be very harmful!

I needed re-assurance... My left hand and my left leg.... were totally numb.. i kept feeling them with my right hand... sleeping in the backseat. I was happy that I was able to "process" information.. "I was safe to continue to do what I love most - my job -it revolves around  my ability to analyze situations..and motivate my team to next levels... and I was wondering how I could do that if i  cant speak?" Yes - I was getting anxious now!

In retrospect it is laughable that I even thought of Stephen Hawkings... and the ways people have figured out for him to communicate to the world with his fingers! While that was refreshing... a thought said "dude! he is a genius.. you are at best a bit above average levels of human intelligence... the world will not go that far to help you out! They will not invest to understand your thoughts!" So it was clear to me that I had to fight this out by myself!

I could not and I still can not imagine a life with out being able to do what I love most - software and interacting with people! so I was bracing up for the battle...

Then there is something which  came to my rescue...  realized that I can THINK and I am still processing information... huge re-assurance!" And I still can not believe that I remember all this line by line as if someone recorded my thoughts... will have to check with my doctor if this is an evolutionary survival trait that human beings have inherited?" It leads me to believe that every incident is recorded in some format in the universe- I always thought that this whole universe had a "turing machine" which records everything... and one of my theories of God has been that 'God' could well be that machine.. which determines next state based on the current states of this colossal "state-keeping" machine!" Damn! Dr.S would be proud of me if he knew that his most "indisciplined  student who walked into his classes late  often in shorts and coffee in one hand with no notebooks to take his notes" actually is trying to use something from his "theory of computation courses!" after a decade and half  - lying supine in the back seat of a car....

Then I was moved in an ambulance to another center because MRI was not working at that facility! Shows how much we treasure human lives in India! If this can happen at Apollo what could be fate of lesser hospitals and poorer people in our country? 6 years ago- i was in similar shit... the ambulance driver was having "chai" and I lost precious time before i was rushed to a bigger hospital in bangalore! Does that explain why we Indians are so fatalistic about lives?Id that We leave everything to God? Because of human lapses?

Let me not complain too much though.. as at the end of the day .. I was saved on both counts by competent and kind human beings! But I remember barkingout orders to my dad.. " I need the doctor to go with me in the ambulance to the MRI scanning place" ... the CT was done.. and they were now sure it was a clot in the right brain... soon .. medication started... and I was on blood thinners.

Dr. SV came over and said "can you lift your hand?" I tried and I could not... and that scared me a bit.....Then I tried with my leg. After a while... with great difficulty I lifted my hand and leg... and I knew things were going to be normal again! I felt a little embarassed at first but I said " if screaming out instructions to my legs and hands is going to help me I am going to shout "UP up" and then lift them .. even if it would appear awkward to others around me! I was happy that it was working..."Up and up" i could lift both of them a bit !

Every second there was a parallel thread in my head checking for re-assuranaces...

I knew I had the best possible doctors attending to told me and explained to me that uncle called Apollo team and we have the best people working on me. So i was searching for "what else can i do from my side?" and i had a quick echo "keep positive"

"That is fine but anything else i can do?" Oh yes... there is someone else who can help... who? Guruji!Then my monkey brain went into "is it fair that you go back to him only when you are in distress?" While I have always loved him and Neela as extremely kind, loving and helpful human beings... i was never hundred percent sure about their "other powers"- but yet.. i would shamelessly go back to her and "seek healing for my kids" once in a while... so I said "just shut the f**ck up! I need help and i am going to get it from wherever it is accesible from".. so I started "sitaram chanting" and tried to "connect with Guruji"- Dad called Neela.. I spoke to her.. she said .. I am sending you healing.. do not panic. tell yourself - wherever the clot is.. it should be destroyed by sitaram .. and with that intent.. continue chanting sitaram.. she was clear in her instructions.. she insisted that i not be   specific about the location of the clot (brain).- let the burden of locatin the clot be left to sitaram.I closed my eyes and all ready for carpet bombing to kickin!

i imagined..war planes... flying in my body ... targetting the clot... and aiming and destroying the clot.. i do not know why i imagined fighter planes.. but it was fun.. and i was enjoying the "video game"... soon the mind strayed.. why are you being so agressive? remembered a different blog that i read... and said "this time i will take care of it using love!" love can move things... i prayed gently.. "and started talking to the clot" - "listen buddy! i love you.. but you need to dissolve for me to sruvive! can you please do that? there was silence and I bombarded it again with sitaram. the agression in my thoughts returned... the fighter planes were whizzin around again!"- In retrospect it is actually scary that my mind was jumping around even in crisis and not fully  focused. Now i understand the import of what every saint says "mind is a monkey!"

i moved my left leg and left hand.. but realized i could not control my fingers.. and sometimes the hand was moving involuntarily... i soon started debugging my system.. i drew boxes to represent  "brain"  and "receivers"and i had an instant theory ready to explain this  crazy behavior.. there was 'noise' in the communication between my brain and the receiver... stray electric signals must be firing i concluded.. which is why my hand is moving involuntarily!? or perhaps... the "hand is not able to forget the previous electric signal it received to move it!" - whatever is the explanation - I am not going to dwell on this further - for all i wanted was a re-assurance that i am still able to analyze situations and construct models to explain situations.... so my training in problem solving was not affected! isnt that cool?!?!! this was the biggest re-assurance i was searching for- that i can go back and continue to architect software solutions!

things were getting overwhelming...i suddenly thought about my wife and kids..suddenly i was frightened that V1 might no longer be able to stand on my shoulder and shout "i have grown big!" - my younger one,v2 never did that even once so far. what would happen if i dont get my hand to operate again? i was slipping into negativity? i realized this in no way is going to help me...  i made a quick decision - i am going to manage my negative thoughts and that does not equate to supressing them!! I am going to express myself - i need to flush out this overwhelming negativity and self pity! but how? i told my mother in law that I need to see my dad immediately! And there he was next to me!.. I told him "listen.. I am fine.. but i need to flush out things from my system and i need to cry.. do not react.. just be my side- do not react and do not stop me... i need to get the damned thing out!" i held his hand tight and  i burst out! then my mom came in rushing.. and she started interfering with my plan...thankfully my dad intervened to get her to stop .. so i got what i wanted -  40 seconds of venting out any helpless feelings in my system. i soon felt lighter after i cried out.. it was not easy to not break down when so much was going on. around me. But now it was time to recover and get back... i imagined my lovely sons and me playing again.. and suddenly i found additional strength and hope. i told myself.. they deserve the best in the world.. and i will be there fully fit to present them that!

these emotions fazed a bit and there was an interesting pressure i realize building in me... a few months ago i wrote a mail to afrien who was battling bloodcancer which read something like ' do not let a a stupid imbalance in your blood overpower you! - it hit me back... wasthat just sitting-on-the-fence-remark? or am i going to prove it myself? next time i meet him in Bangalore.. i wanted to tell him.. buddy.. i did exactly what i wanted you to do! and then less than a month.. i told my sister to take life easy and accept everything that is given as a blesssing! and then i would often tell my entire team that if they work in conceptwaves.. i need one skill in abundance  - that i spoon feed none.. and being a part of a small team requires guts to face tough situations and be extremely comfortable with uncertainities.. and now... the stage is set for me to demonstrate what i have been preaching! I will have to take this... and I am going to lead the way in turning tables aroundin any situation.. imagine.. how much more easy it would be if i had a team with me brimming with super energy that they can do any thing thrown at them? while i was lost in these thoughts..

Then I heard the dr. SV  say " how are you amma? can you lift your leg and hand for me?" i have no clue.. but that voice sounded so refreshing and assuring.. i was about to tell him " you do not go anywhere but be around me please!".I tried real hard to lift  and i banged the table hard every time i could move my limbs! i was excited like hell and i needed that momentum.. nothing should stop that flow and rush of excitement! i was now very sure that i am back in  control. I heard my dad tell someone.. " this is nothing short of a miracle"... he came to me.. and told me "i know there is a very strong aura around you and nothing will happen to you... your sitaram will protect you!" - i reacted - "are you sure? or is it just the usual faith kicking -in when nothing else works syndrome comming into play here?" i then told myself "i am not questioning my dad's statement.. for prudence is in believing that i am being protected by some power instead of scientific accuracy of that statement. as an entreprereneur i have been very selective in interpreting signals.. i remember celebrating when i lost my second largest account! when i told my team "this is our second largest account in terms of revenues.. BUT i am glad its gone because it was sucking away disproportionate time from everyone...". i will admit that i feared some team member would laughat me as an incorrigible positive fool! buti decided to apply the same principle here.. if it helps me.. i am going to believe that this is indeed a miracle and i am being helped by a super power! and i do have an invincible aura! Thank you dad for reminding me at that critical time! i felt lot more confident when i acknowledged that.

i was later shifted to ICU after initial treatment and i started recovering ... fingers were clumsy.. i realized i could not hold the blanket and move it... but i knew i was improving... and i knew from here on it is just about keeeping positive and  systematic exercises to get fit again! - and that clearly is in my control - so i was a relaxed soul...

A doctor came and spoke to me ... he said that he was sorry about this .. i know you had a similar incident a few years ago - i quipped " do not feel sorry for me! ironically, doctor ,  i think it is the best thing that has happened to me!it made me realize a lot of things in life.. and since then i have relished every minute i had!"- he was kind enough to say "i understand what you mean ... i am not sympathising with you.. i am just empathizing with you.. he was very genuine in that statement.. and i could see the affection.. when he said "insha- Allah you will get out of the icu very soon ... you are too precious" he touched me on my forehead and pushed my rather unkempt hair backwards when he said that .. Touch can mean so much at times! I smiled back and said " the other alternative does not even exist!".

Then I slipped into deep sleep to be woken up by a young chap from the physio team-  he asked me to smile and was checking if I could smile.. lift my eyebrows etc... and then pull my tongue out and rotate it etc... i just told him.."damn.. pity me dude! i am doing kissing -101 lessons with a guy!" - he said "this will help you in future!"  - i had to tell him .. that i was married and a father of two kids!" we had a nice helped me to meet the very thoughtful doctors in the ICU with excellent sense of humor and empathy!

i was asked to touch the tip of my nose with my left hand... they were checking out the extent of the brain!he smiled and said "man! you are all fine.. why the hell are you here?!?"  i was like "tell me something i do not already  know.- ofcourse i am fine!"

what particularly moved me was the celebrations i could see on every one's face.. every time i showed progress - . from the housekeeping boys to the sisters to the brothers to the doctors were all celebrating every inch of an improvement in my co-ordination skills! i hardly know them.. but that care was genuine.. i could feel that! and i would be lying if i said it did not help me recover faster! It moved me from inside that someone i hardly know was so patient with me .. changing my clothes.. giving me scrubs...brushing my teeth all so cheerfully!I probably will never meet them again.. but they surely touched me! I was thinking of my grandmother during this time.. and how weneed to be patient with th older folks who can not do their work!

the doctor would pinch me and ask me what am i doing? it did not matter whether they touched or pinched - it just felt like someone using a blade and cutting my leg linearly.. it was burning! is there a lesson there?? yes! i was happy being cut with a blade! the burning sensation told me "i was feeling something.. even it it is not accurate- i could not calibrate the type of touch yet ... but i would take being burnt - rather than zero sensation!"- we are always grateful when we see something worse! On any other day i would have cried in pain if someone cut my leg with a blade!- but today was different.. i was welcoming the pain... i knew.. soon i will know the difference between a gentle touch ,a pinch and a real cut! for now - i will take this!

From there... with efforts at the rehab center.. i am almost back to my normalcy .. i could type such a long blog post! I  have now pushed the envelope further! - Guess what ? i am turning left handed by end of 2012 ! i am going to challenge my right brain to the next levels! - i ate ONLY with left hand now. holding the spoon .. use left hand to  carry things around etc!

being able to type this large a blog also means my typing  and multitasking skills are almost back! :) i do not want to spill cofffe again on another laptop because of my left hand forgetting it had a cup in it! :)

i just need to get my balancing skills right.. am not able to walk in a perfect straight line yet!- i will master that by end of this month! need to get my sensory skill also to 100% levels.i am already able to feel different textures with my hand and leg.. so should not be a challenge i reckon!

i can not single out one factor for my 'fastest recoveries from strokes - both heart and brain. but it appears to be a combination of the following -
a) timely access to competent doctors and modern facilities
b) grace of God- " I know God LOVES ME- howeever indifferent i might be to Him at times!"
c) love - from parents, family and friends!- biggest driver was their composure and faith in my ability to turn the tables around!
d) Guruji/Neela and my own japa- these factors probably  should not be ruled out - even if they do not fall under 'conventional' science window
e) presence of mind and positivity and willingness to fight back! and my love for life.. i was not a perfect guy.. but i will not change even a single moment even if you give me a second chance! i have relished every happy moment and learnt from every shock and disappointment... kept correcting myself.. and that is such a huge pride factor for me.

i refused to accept certain things..-  medical literature sometimes fancifully calls this "denial mode"..- i could jog with in 3 days i was out of the hospital after my heart stroke 6 years ago- and playfully driblled a football within 4 days of a brain stroke with my left foot ! explain that if you can with conventional wisdom!
 I do not intend to suggest that one should refute science baselessly.... have the prudence to know when to refute it.. and when to exploit science.

i am a man of science... but sometimes there are larger schemes in life which can not be comprehended by science the way we understand it! as a faithful scientist ( i fancifully call my self one!) - one should be OPEN to everything... science to me is beyond what it conventionally means to most people!

Hence i will not attempt to answer this phenomena by slotting in science and non-science buckets...
talk of  slotting - its an other dangerous ploy of human mind to slot everything into one of the known buckets!

a lot of people  (including a few doctors) try to slot me into one ofthe following categories to explain the strokes...
a) alchohol? - no sir! i drink even coffee ocassionally! leave alone alcohol!
b) smoker? - nope!
c) stresss?-  is what you allow it to be.. most people think  entrepreneurs have sstress... but for me .. i LOVE what i do.. i am passionate about my work! nothing else relaxes me more than what i do... it is like art and music tto me!
d) lifestyle? - excuse me.. i went to gym for 8 years with out a break!i used to play 8 hours a day!lets meet next week - and i can run longer distance than you! in fact last month i could do 45 minutes of sprinting!

no slotting please! doesnt work everywhere.. its a great tool to simplify daily activities in life and i use it too.. but we should know it always does not work!

final words to conclude.. i see no stigma in stating that i survived two strokes... in fact am proud of it... and i will share my story with anyone if it helps them cope with similar incidents in life...and if it helps medical fraternity understand factors that improve recovery chances.

remember just one thing... God loves you! not sure about you! ;-)
But God surely loves me...i know he has given these two hurdles - wait ....are they really hurdles??? depends on how you look at it.. i am glad That He has also given me the intelligence to learn from these lessons and move on in life! He protected me both times.. i could fight them easier with better recovery precisely because i am young to fight them! so over all ... no qualms about what happened 'at a young age'!

let me be humble enough to state one more secret? any idiot can show strength in times of trouble.. that is pure evolutionary mechanism built into us to for survival! But i am setting myself a new standard today... can i live with this heightened awareness of life under normal circumstances... every minute of normal life... i am going to try to set high standards for me for every living minute from today! .. at least i have a support system that can make it happen for me! i would be a fool if i still dont see how beautifully all this is set up for my own good.. God has His special plans for me... I will unravel them with time...

i want to be discharged from the hospital soon and be home for my 8th wedding anniversary with my parents, lovely wife and beautiful kids! and yes get back to work!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Neela asked me if I wanted to share my views and comments on Dhyanyogi's page and I just was not prepared to take that request up. Its so unlike me - All my life I have loved to be the center of the universe that I lived in. And if someone felt that they valued my opinion - I would have just given spiels of it!

My opinions mattered to people around me and I cherished the attention that I received at each stage of my life. Unconsciously I began living as if the world was created for me and everything around me existed for me!

The greatest lesson I learnt in the last few years was that each man is filled with a lot of ego. We do not even realize that it exists in us. Every desire in us - from greed to lust - can all be traced and explained beautifully if we understand the phenomenal importance that 'ego' assumes in ourselves.

Not long ago, I thought I would make the greatest dad that ever existed and believed that I could teach my son everything that he needed to know! I could teach him math, I could teach him how to handle emotions, I could teach him how to run an enterprise, I could teach him how to prepare for a sports championship - I thought I could just mold him to be a super-human! Only to shockingly realize that I had far more things to learn from him than what I had to offer him!

Can I be like him - when he smiles with reckless abandon? Can I be like him - when he just forgets that he was upset just a while ago and be in his joyous state? Can I be like him - with absolutely no grudges against anyone for more than a few seconds? Can I be like him - Live in the absolute present and not worry about the future? Can I be like him - when he just does what he thinks is right?!?

It just dawned on me that I 'knew' was precious little! It continued to reinforce in me that I am a mere speck of a star in a larger Galaxy! Surprisingly though it did not demoralize me or bring me down crashing! It just helped me understand the bigger picture and the specific role that I had to play in the larger cosmic drama - and I for once was willing to forfeit the crown to others around me.

How else could I explain that I sit only in the last row of the yoga class? - damn! I was NEVER a 'last bencher' in any activity that I participated! How else can I explain that I prefer to be absolutely silent in most activities that I partake in? How else can I explain that I now delegate work more easily at work and try to learn how other people handle similar situations? I am simply loving not living under a imaginary and un-real 'me-centric' world.

The danger of believing that you are the only rock-star is that you inevitably tie up bench marking your worth to the way other people treat and perceive you! You hold your self worth ransom to how others manipulate you!

I love the way I am slowly learning to move away from the central stage and cling on to the only 'permanent friend' - some folks call him Super Power while some others prefer to call him God!

Yes - I will probably go back and write a few lines about Dhyanyogi's teachings. But I pray that I can implement what I write there in my own life. I know I can get away from the 'world' even if I do not follow what I write there - but for me - for my inner self satisfaction - I pray that I have the strength to walk my talk!

Sunday, January 22, 2012


What is it about eloquence that used to be so attractive? I know not - but I was always attracted to people who could speak and articulate well. May be it has got to do with my childhood - where I was very introvert in nature and always liked people who could do what I could not - TALK! And TALK WELL!

I was always lost in my own world - most of my thoughts revolved around fairly complex things for a 10 year old - about life, death, consciousness, existence, God and what not! May be that is one reason why I did not find the time to TALK and sharpen my 'communication' skills. And it was but natural that I started to grow fonder of people who could do that.

Then as I grew up, I have compromised on my inner quests - I had far fewer questions not because I found answers to those questions, but because I was convinced that I would not reach answers to them! And then I suddenly seemed to make time for 'interactions with others' in my life. And slowly I started opening up...

And then I entered the corporate life out of college as a fairly extrovert brash kid! Some kind people tried to guide me to be more diplomatic. They tried to teach me 'perception management' - they made me realize 'its not only important to do the work, but also ensure that people perceive it that way'.

It took me three years of effort - to figure out how to navigate the corporate maze! I learnt to make suave presentations and knew how to talk things that decision makers wanted to hear! I could marry the tech stuff along with packaging it to the audience to take note of what I was doing! Yes - I learnt the art of selling. I grew in confidence that I could convince people of anything that I wanted - by just playing with words, phrases and imagination!

I was getting more and more vocal every year - encouraged by the success of how I was able to convince people and make them see what I wanted them to see!

And then over the last few years somehow I just went into a shell - both in the corporate world and my personal life. Its as if the clock has been reset.

I was not born with eloquence, not born with the art of making friends, not born with ability to read people and emotions - I put in several years of hard work - worked on each 'flaw' meticulously over years to make some progress in some of these areas. And after working so hard for years, why is it that I just wanted to let go everything I learnt?

I wanted to build a system on true values which have intrinsic attraction to people - not just because a person can 'talk well' or 'present well'. I started to get a feeling that eloquence is just an ephemeral phase in one's life journey.

The person speaking those words and playing beautifully with phrases should really have implemented those in his life.

Words, I realize are carriers of great energy. They get charged with the energy of the person who speaks them. People gifted with the gift of the gab - can make fantastic speeches - but somehow they do not seem to be penetrating me anymore.

On the other hand, I seem to be paying a lot of attention to much simpler words but they come from people who have stood by what they preach in their own life! Now I do not know how I seem to know it - but I just seem to be able to differentiate between superficially fantastic stories vs. something that comes from 'within'.

Its a full circle. I seemed to have gone into a full shell - not speaking up much for over two years now. I have gone into a rather introspection mode - analyzing and understanding my own self.

The last three to four months have seen a different resurgence though - the itch to speak has come back again - but I know this is a different aggression in life - an itch with a far deeper purpose and meaning. I know deep inside me that I am aiming for a far greater goal I wish to achieve when I speaketh this time around!

Monday, December 1, 2008


I can not recall too many incidents when I did not have an opinion. Whether needed or not, whether asked for or not, I always seemed to have an opinion! Right or wrong, but at least I had a point of view.

But this week - I do not have an opinion on the blasts that rocked mumbai. I was and still am desperate to know what I can do to contribute to lessen the misery and anguish of the people who suffered. What can I do to ensure that such an attack does not recur again?

I am not looking for a knee-jerk emotional reaction (though I confess it took great effort to keep some tears rolling down as I watched or recollected the events on the tv).

Honestly... I do not know. I do not want to sound that I do not want to do anything.

What can I do? I can vote? whom should I vote? Tell me one competent guy among those who stand for election?

Tell me one politician who has not politicized even this event. Do they even have the 'c' of conscience?

May be its a weak moment, but I feel I have lost faith in democracy. At least in the form that we see it in India today. We are democratic only on paper.

If we truely are democratic, can a common man with a salary of Rs.10,000 per month become the chief minister today? I woke up to a rude shock! We are pseudo-democratic... the guys in power are the only ones who will always remain in power. And yeah you get a great 'democratic choice' between one of the two asses who stand up for elections!

I have been trying to condition myself that hatred can not stop hatred. Its only love that can dissolve hatred. Heck... again call it a weak moment if you will... but I just am fuming with hatred, anger and the most ill-feelings against those wretched politicians who not only brought us to this stage, but also have let us down so badly through their insensitive responses to the terror attacks.

Yes... I am observing all this. But what can I do?

I live in a democracy! True! Please ... provide me an OPTION to vote for. Please provide me a LEADER!

I know I sound like a real looser when I talk in this helpless tone. But... this week... there is no denial that I feel like one!

I do not know how to channelize my anger, pain, disappointment... but the least I can do is to remember those families who have suffered in my prayers.

God bless all the noble souls who fought for us. Salute to them!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

4 years with a woman!

I respect women. A few months ago I happened to see an orkut profile of a guy who says he respects women ... and it freaked me when I noticed that all his 300+ friends were only women! Now thats not what I mean by respecting a woman!

I respect a modern woman. And modernity to me does not mean skimpy clothes. I see so many women talk so much about how "beauty is far deeper than skin"... but don't miss out a chance to spend extravagant amounts of money and time just to superficially look attractive.

I respect a woman of substance. A woman who can handle things that matter. A woman who knows how to handle a career and yet not compromise on the housefront. A woman who is confident of her worth. A woman who truely is independent in the real sense of the word. A woman who is ready to take on the world!

Heck! I have been married to such a wonderful woman four years ago!

Neither my friends nor I ever had the slighest inkling that I was destined to marry at 25! That I thought was too early to get married. And then they did not expect that I would go the "traditional arranged marriage" route. But then who can predict things?

And I recall the first meeting - where I asked her a few questions what most would find bizzare for selecting a partner for life. "Idealogically do you like communism or capitalism and why?"

Now you know why I call her a woman of substance? If she can handle a geek like me then that should tell you a lot about her!

In fact I am quite a boring character to hang around with. I don't watch much tv, I don't listen to music, I don't go out to parties, I do not watch movies... heck I don't even drink tea! I sometimes marvel at the way she has adapted to the way I live over the last four years.

I can be extremely unromantic too. I somehow believe that love has to grow with time and it has got lot more to it than 'pleasantries' and trips to exotic locations! And for me it always meant standing up and doing things when it mattered! And that sounds quite impressive as I write here, but the side-effect of that could be that you can become extremely unromantic... no frequent candle-light dinners, no hanging out to movie theatres... And she has taken all that in her stride. And I really wonder if I could ever adapt so much.

Year after year, I started noticing how lucky I was... I started unraveling qualities which made her command more respect.

I saw her courage when she handled things when I was in the ICU for a while. I saw her determination when she managed to do her Woman entrepreneur course from IIMB - all while managing her work and her daily household chores. I saw her empathy when she she voluntered to teach kids from Government schools on weekends.

She learnt to cook, she learnt to run the house, she learnt to handle the priorities right, she learnt to handle my mood swings and temper... and what fascinates me is that she is always willing to LEARN and CHANGE!

And I think I have not seen a better daughter-in-law than her! That to any guy is the biggest gift a wife could bring to him! Well... almost... the exception being when both your mother and your wife gang up against your wishes sometimes!

On this fourth anniversary, I can pledge that I love her 4 times than what I loved her on the first anniversary! The more I have been discovering about our marriage... the more joy it has been bringing in.

Cheers to the woman who made it all possible!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No Hurry!

"How often do you read Gita?" quipped Hannah staring at the book I was holding in my hand. I smiled back at my co-passenger on the train and replied "I try to read it everyday. But usually at least two days in a week for sure."

And her curiosity did not seem to stop there. She was quick to ask "Why do you read it?" I smiled and replied back saying that I enjoy reading it and that it answers a lot of questions that I seek answers to.

The next question really startled me - where are you going after this life? Hell of Heaven? WoW! I tried not to show my surprise and smiled back saying "I do not know!"

It felt very eerie that the only phrase I was using for the next barrage of questions from her was " I do not know!" The fact was I really did not know!

I guess she was exasperated with my constant mono-dimensional "I do not knows" and it showed up when she said "does it not frustrate you that you know so very little about this life?"

I smiled back and said " I want to know... But I am not in a hurry!"

I do not know why I was smiling all through my answers! May because those troubled questions regarding life have bothered me enough all through my childhood. I remember troubling everyone with those questions very early in my childhood. It was even more difficult for me to understand "life" specially during the phase I was an atheist. With out the framework of God, it was extremely difficult to grasp the essence and meaning of life! And now in front of me is someone who is questioning my "curiosity" (or rather lack of it) towards understanding life!

Its not that I understand life. Its not that I do not want to know about it. It is just that at this stage of my life I just am willing to persevere and wait till I understand what it is. I am not talking about intellectual definitions here. I want the answer to come from within me - I cant really explain what I am searching for... but the quest is on!

Now that is something which did not go well with her. That I was willing to wait for the answers! She mistook "waiting for the answers to arrive" to "no interest in knowing the answers!" And she quickly said "what if you die before you know the answer?" Well, what if I die? I die! There is nothing much I can do if I die before I know the answers... and I just put the question back to her "yeah ... so what can I do if I die earlier?"

The most interesting question she asked me was what I meant by living life to the fullest? That was an answer I had given her for one of the million rapid fire questions she posed! And now she needed an explanation!

That really set me thinking.... she prodded me and asked if "fullest" for me meant "pleasures". I did not answer... i was still contemplating what exactly living my life to the fullest meant to me. Was it fun, pleasure, recognition, fame, success? I did not know. But I was sure it was none of them.

I want to live a life where I can really live the way I know is the right way to live. A life where I truely internally realize that all life springs from God and be compassionate towards every life form. Now saying that intellectually is one thing and practising it is other.

Practising by deeds is tough. But try doing it even at the thought levels, and you will know the challenge it is posing me every day! Can I forget and feel no animosity for anyone? Can I wipe out all the anger in me at a subconcious level? It is one thing to 'talk' about love for all creatures, it is another thing to restrain your actions to show that. And it is yet another thing that even at the level of your subconcious you harbor no ill feelings even to people who have been unfair. Can I ever get to that state of empathy? I do not know... but I will try ...

As I thought further, Living life to the fullest also meant that I contribute and do justice to all the intellectual gifts that God has bestowed on me. I realized that intellect breeds arrogance. I also learnt that intellect with out ability to empathize with other people's needs leads only to the downfall of the self. I have lived most of my life in the past as if I was the Sun and everyone else revolved around me like the planets. I would consider that I would have lived my life to the fullest the day I sincerely, from with in, bring in a realization that I am just a tiny spec of dust on the periphery and if I can put others needs at par with my own. Its easy for me to speak all this at an intellectual level, but to do it and to do it consistently before I die is what I would seek.

Living life to the fullest? Does it also not include the courage to accept the mistakes I did and then with determination and grit work on correcting them?

and ... and....

Now so much was going through my mind, but I did not want to scare a stranger away... so I smiled and said "a life where I live to my full potential!"

And then she came to the original question ... "now tell me... you do not know most of the answers that you are seeking for. Why do you read that book then?"

I was a little baffled and I said "thats exactly why I read it!"

"So you have all the answers there?"

I said "May be! I want to find out!"

Then she was back again "do you know where you are going to after this life?"

For a second, I wondered if she was sent from the other world to deliver me away from earth! I got a little curious and I responded with another question... "do you know where you are heading to after your life?"

Pat came the answer - "Heaven!"

Why? Because Jesus will take her to Heaven. Because she has faith in Him.

I was happy for her. And I honestly admired her for the conviction and faith she had in God. Here I was, at a stage of struggling to understand God, Life and nuances of karma - and in front of me was a girl who seems to have understood it all!

I smiled.

But she had more to say... "Please go and get a bible.... read it and you will find all the answers!"

"Sure! When I get time, I will definitely read it", was my response. She did not seem to be happy about it. She insisted that I read it with out fail and subtly indicated that it will clear things that Gita could not answer for me so far.

I was surprised but I was still smiling and said "If you ever read the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, you would realize that Gita was his guide whenever encountered tough questions in life. So it is not necessarily the book alone, it is ultimately the recipient who needs to be of a certain standard to receive the knowledge. And it is obvious, that unlike the Mahatma, I am just a beginner on this path and hence I do not find all answers yet! But, yeah... I am definitely open to read the Bible!"

That did not seem to make Hannah too happy. But I still should thank the girl to set me thinking on what exactly living life to the full really means to me!

While I was about to get off the train, she again said "read the bible and it will answer all your questions!"

I have not read the Bible yet directly, but I firmly believe ultimate realization depends on the sincerity and maturity of the recipient of the knowledge and not just the book - be it the Quran, the Bible , the Upanishads or the Gita! And I promised myself to strive to achieve that purity in deed and thought, so that someday I will resonate internally with what I read!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Religious but not Spiritual!

My cousin noticed that I pulled out a book before I hit the bed. She was kind of startled... "what? you ok? you reading Bhagavad Gita?"

Now these kind of reactions have not been very uncommon these days. The other day my wife was a bit visibly disturbed too. She asked me if this was the right age to think of spirituality?

Made me ponder if things have changed so much in my life that people started noticing them? If they did, damn! I am mighty pleased about it! For I think the direction I have chosen is to improve my life and definitely not a retrograde step! And what has age got to do with being spiritual or not? Its the experiences (and what you learn from them) which show you the right path.

I am struggling to be spiritual but I always felt I was farther from the destination than from the source of journey! Yes, I turned religious - that was easier! It has become a fad for people to claim that they are "spiritual but not religious!" Go around and you would see that on descriptions of most orkut profiles!

I will have to confess, inspite of the visual changes that people have been in noticing in my approach to life, I still believe I have at best turned religious. My spiritual journey is yet to start!

Turning religious was not easy for someone who was an atheist for a long while! For someone who believed that even utter chaos could be explained rationally! Even today, I do not want to get into an argument and support the existence of God. My thought process is clear - when I believe in His existence, I am at peace! And thats what matters to me! PEACE!

While being religious may be comparitively easy, even the attempts to turn spiritual are much tougher

I practise very simple exercises to get ready for the spiritual marathon. For example, with practice over 6 months, I now can turn away from the most mouth watering dishes - just with out a second thought! A few months of practise allows me to walk even in the most crowded place with the most beautiful looking girls with out giving any one even a second look.

Now lest we conclude that I am depriving myself of the beauty and pleasures of life, I feel lot more content and happier inside me that I can say NO to any kind of distraction at my will.

Its not that I have given up on sweets. Its not that I have given up on materialistic comforts! Its not that I stopped all my work and started meditating!

In fact, I work harder than ever before. Work keeps my mind uncluttered from negative thougts. It helps me not to think evil of anyone. I work because I realize my potential to contribute to this world through my work. It is no longer purely because of some self agrandizement. I do not claim that the last vestige of selfishness in me is removed - but I can definitely vouch that I am lesser selfish today than what I was yesterday!

And I do know that even my blogs have turned quite serious in nature. Am I aware of it? Heck! Yes! Because one of my first test beds to keep a check on my 'expectations' started on the blogs! When I look back a few months, it suddenly stuck me that I was writing for appreciation of others! While a genuine wish for being appreciated is nothing wrong, but I realized that I did actually visit other people's blogs not necessarily because I enjoyed them, but because that would return the favor and write a few comments on my blog too! I stopped blogging for a few months at a stretch for I had some serious thinking to do - whether I was blogging to 'socialize'? Whether I was blogging to seek 'attention'?

I decided that I will blog once again ONLY when I have learnt to work for myself. I decided that I would visit only those sites which I genuinely love to read. Not because I want them to come back and read my blog! Yes... if someone was interested in reading and sharing their thoughts they were always welcome... and surely it would make me happy... but blog I would ... primarily for myself! And that perhaps changed the complexion of the canvas... because now it started becoming more of 'bouncing board' to clear my concepts of bettering my standards of living.

A similar example was with my rather long hair. Wanted to grow it again... and I asked a simple quesiton "why?". The answer was a resounding "attention" and "appreciation" from others! Straight I went to the barber and ordered for a summer cut!

I have not turned spiritual yet... Its an ocean that I see in front of me. My limbs are not yet strong to help me swim across and hence my status at best today is "religious not yet spiritual!" I am just trying the swimming pools to strengthen my chest and arm muscles to take on the violent ocean later!