What is life but the sum of one's experiences of joys and sorrows, pleasure and pain, anger, suffering, feeling love and hatred, pride and humiliation? One learns from each experience, accepts and grows.
And there is a first time for everything:
The first time you fall in love when no sacrifice seems too large to put a smile on the face of the loved one; when the whole purpose of living seemed designed to make the loved one happy.
The first time you lost a loved one when nothing else in your life seems worth living for; when you feel lost and do not know how you could go on living in a world without the other.
The first time you crumbled to tiny pieces, eaten by the monster of failure and lost all courage to face the world again.

These first times which seem like the greatest joys and sorrows that happened on this planet in the history of mankind. These first times when the emotion belonging to the moment consumes your entire being until you become the emotion itself lost in its intensity. And then reason takes over, reality sobers you down and acceptance sets in as you gather yourself up and start living your ordinary mundane real life again.

There would be other times when you face the same yet again but then they do not matter – you have seen the worst of it and you can do it again.

One such special moment is for every mother to hold her child for the first time in life.
A tiny, helpless being beating with life placed on your arms. First you admire the miracle of creation, nature’s perfect design and smile. You feel proud for having shaped it and held it within you. You are at the height of joy.
Then the tiny palm closes around your finger and you panic at the enormity of the responsibility. It is not a toy to play with but a life to take care of. It is yours to protect, to nourish and help flower.
The world seems too full of threats for your beautiful child. How could you close your eyes and sleep while your child needs to be protected? Would you know what it wants when he cries out wordlessly? Would you be able to let him grow up untouched by your own imperfections?
Would you be able to shelter him from hatred and jealousy and anger and violence that the world is so full of?
And then the tears begin to flow.
You cry for your own imperfections and the imperfections of the world in which this perfect child, your own baby, must grow.

The first time – a moment of great joy and sadness, hope and despair, pride and panic. The first time when you feel like God and the feeblest creature all at once.

P.s: I wrote this for a French assignment. Posting it here to share.
Suddenly the 7th commandment is the most discussed topic in India today - thanks to karan Johar and his Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. You switch on the television and Tarot card reader Sunita declares "everyone cheats" and Shahrukh Khan takes on a relationship expert on the intricacies of love and marriage. You go to a party and before you know people are taking sides on whether extra marital relationships are justified or not. Every 5th Indian blog you read has a take on this or at least touches on the issue in passing.

Men have been cheating on their wives from time immemorial and in India they have done it openly and come back and looked their family straight in the eye as if it is no big deal.So why this sudden urgency and panic like the outbreak of a fatal infection? Aha....a married WOMAN is involved here - what will happen to our morals and social fabric and family structure if women start indulging in such things?After all the onus of holding up the family has been on the woman notwithstanding whatever the men have done. And this indoctrination of their need to preserve the society has been a way to ensure that they forgive their erring husbands all their misbehaviour and still fast and pray for their logevity and treat them as devta. They were not supposed to say 'enough is enough" and say "Alvida" but hang on and on and on stupidly and hope for a better husband in the next birth.

Now here is Big B himself telling a woman to go and find her happiness with another man - God sanctioning Sin! So people are wringing their hands worried about women quoting the Big B and going in search of happiness or better men. That marriage is no longer the end of one's search and fatalistic acceptance of one's partner can no longer be taken for granted. Marriage is no longer a commitment but a convenient arrangement until the next best thing arrives in your life.

I guess until now, adultery by women has not been an issue as opportunities for discreet indulgence in it have been limited. That is no longer the case with so many distant marriages and women spending longer hours at workplace with colleagues. Lifestyles of people have changed, attitude to issues like marriage and commitment are changing and the extent of influence that the norms of society can have on the upwardly mobile sections of young people is reducing.

I think ultimately you cannot prevent adultery by social sanction or even by law. It can only be prevented from within, through exercise of free will. If people are committed to their partners, to their family, they will refrain from indulgence in the face of any temptation. If the commitment is not there, any slight reason is enough.
Do today's young have a problem of commitment? (I am excluding the older generation here because in any case they still worry about societal acceptance which acts as a great deterrent against such temptation.)
or is it the feeling that everyone has one life and hence should make the most of it - so you go running from one thing to the other in an eternal search for what is better as your status in life improves? I suppose even the latter boils down again to a lack of commitment. Are we becoming less inclined to invest our energies in staying together and weathering problems and prefer opting out as the easier and more convenient solution?

Are we also on the way to becoming "disposing" - inclined to dispose of anything that no longer serves our purpose because we have found a newer, better model? Has this tendency towards possessions seeped slowly into the way we manage our relationships too?

This pair comes to our house on all fridays and on all festive occasions - the man plays his Tavil or sometimes the nadaswaram and the Basava (Bull in Kannada) brightens the day by just being his colourful self.

Wish you a happy Vinayaka chaturti. May all your plans in the coming year be impediment-free and successful!
The other day I was to pick up some friends on our way to the multiplex to watch Omkara. We had arranged to meet at 9:25 and I had to pick up another lady a few blocks away at 9:30. One of the 9:25 ladies finally arrived at 9:35 and in those 10 minutes I had sweated, fretted and fumed. I cannot handle people taking my time for granted and her delay also meant I would be late to pick up the other person which meant taking her time for granted. The worst part was that this friend who arrived late just got in with a smile and did not even feel the need to apologise and when we made it to the hall, she casually says "we were not late for the show or anything, no?".
I guess it is this cavalier attitude towards appointments that has resulted in the joke about Indian standard time. A friend once said, in India we are attuned to the concept of cosmic time and the belief that we always have another birth to finish the things and hence the cool attitude towards seconds and minutes. My sister who went to Germany told me how things work there: If you fix a meeting for 9 a.m and arrive at 8:55, the room would be empty. At 8:59. they all walk in and at 9, everyone is there!

I think it was my job at the bank and the responsibility of carrying the vault keys which has instilled in me the obsession with being on time. You cannot afford to open the Vault later than 9 a.m as it would result in long customer complaints and disciplinary action. And I also believe that being late for an appointment implies an insult to the other person's schedule. One has to think of the trouble that the other person has taken to arrive at the scheduled hour. Every one has a busy life after all. And from practice I know that all it takes to be punctual is the willingness to do it. It is not too tough to work backwards and factor in possible delays and if it seems unachievable, it is better to fix it for a later time than commit to a time and miss it by an hour.

I even know students who tell me how they walked into the exam hall half an hour late for an exam and I simply cannot understand it. I think if the rules of the examination did not permit the grace time, they would make it on time. And the flippant excuses for the delay are even more irritating - "I got up late", "I was searching for a matching pair of slippers". AARRGGGHHHHHHHH.....

Apparently punctuality is not a virtue among latin Americans either. So in 2003, Ecuador launched a campaign to change the mindset of the people. As the Economist reported:
"Hundreds of institutions ranging from local councils to airlines have signed up to a promise to keep to time. Stragglers are barred from entering meetings. Hotel-style door signs have appeared in offices and schools. On one side, they say “Come in: You're on time'' and on the other “Do not enter: the meeting began on time.'' A local newspaper is publishing a daily list of public officials who turn up late to events."

Time we did something like this in this country. Can we start a Campaign?
With the intention of making everyone in class participate and express, our French professor has a list of interesting questions. You get to choose the question by giving a number in a range and answer the question that corresponds to the number of your choice.Some are funny, some are scandalous and some really philosophic.It is always interesting to see how some turn the most serious question into something frivolous while others pontificate and philosophise over the simplest question. I got the question:

Would you rather be loved or admired and why?

In the class i got away with a simpler answer to this in order to avoid conjugating too many verbs and searching for the vocabulary. But the question kept coming back to me.

I think good people are loved and successful people are admired. Of course that doesn't mean that you can only be good or successful but either one of them is a sufficient condition to be loved or admired.I cannot straight away think of many people who are loved and admired. In recent times Mother Teresa was an example. Even in the case of Gandhiji, I think the British admired but hated him and the Indians loved and admired him.

We admire people when we feel that they have scaled heights that we ourselves may not yet have or may not be capable of. Admiration comes from a wish to be or to do things like someone else - obviously it follows that these feats are difficult to achieve and require tremendous talent/ hardwork/ perseverence/ bravery etc.Putting someone on a pedestal involves a bit of distancing,they no longer "belong" with you but are "there" a little (or lot) higher up.

We love people when we are easy and comfortable with them, when they are kind and nice and generous, funny and forgiving.We love people when they make us feel we are ok people, when they accept us warts and all. And when we love a person we accept them with all their imperfections and failures.

Being worthy of admiration imposes a great burden on a person; you are not allowed to fail or even slip up. But being loved imposes no such burdens - you can be a bumbling bufoon and yet be loved just for being so.

So now you have one guess on what my choice would have been! And what about you?
Would you rather be loved or admired and why?
I cannot tell a joke. I start with "let me tell you a joke" and then laugh all the way through the joke, forget most of the details and finally deliver the punchline so flatly that people are still waiting for the joke when I am already laughing and wondering why the others did not get it. Once in college I was given a part the fairy god-mother in a spoof of cinderella and I think I laughed more than the audience and forgot all my lines.Needless to say I was fired.

I admire people who can tell a joke - most people think (like I did for a long time) they can but they are wrong. Telling a joke is not just about saying something funny but it is all about the way you can tell it. There are people who can tell a joke that you have heard before and make you laugh all over again with their style, the manner and the delivery of the punchline. I remember my mother's uncle who was a school teacher who had this gift - we would make him repeat his jokes and everytime it seemed like the first time and different. If you are not gifted with it by nature,it cannot be acquired through training.

I was reading an article which says there are
"Two extremes in joke-telling:
Style No. 1: As tight as a haiku. Not one wasted word. Told with aggressive brutality. Ends with a punch line that ends with the punch word. The last word delivers the joke. Then, bang, it's over."

"The perfect joke in Style No. 1, as told by Henny Youngman, Rodney Dangerfield, Lou Jacobi:
Guy goes to a psychiatrist.
Psychiatrist says, "You're crazy!"
"I want a second opinion!"
"All right, you're ugly!"

"Now for a joke in Style No. 2,"
You can read it here
Then there are others who cannot tell a joke but can kill it like giving away the punchline before the speaker finishes the joke. The worse types ask "Then what happened?" .It helps to upstage someone whom you hate. If you want some tips on doing this to someone who steals the limelight with his/ her funny jokes this article tells you how.

It only seems appropriate that I end this piece with a joke.

Pedro was driving down the street in a sweat because he had an important
meeting and couldn't find a parking spot.
Looking up toward the sky he said
(heheheh, this is funny!...He said... wait wait, I'll get it now, hehehehe...)

Never Mind. I think i will spare you the ordeal.Have a great weekend.
A post on the birthday celebration we had at home today.
The birthday boy:

Bhavayami Gopala Balam ... Mana Sevitham ,
Tat padam chintayeyam sada
kati ghatitha mekhala , khachita mani ghantika
Patala ninadena vibharaja manam
(My mind pays obescience to Krishna (Gopala) the baby and always contemplates on his feet. The baby adorned with a mekala around his waist and other jewels and decorations radiates divine beauty)

Beautiful child? Wait till you see this!

Madhura madhura vENugIta mOhA madana kusuma sukumAra dEhA

(One who loves the sweet songs played on the flute and one who has a beautiful, soft and youthful form)

Tiny baby footsteps all over the house marking his presence:

And the menu?

Keraya neeranu kereke chelli
Varava padedavarante kaaneero
Hariya karunadolaada Bhagyava
Hari samaarpane Maadi badhukeero

(We take the water from the river and pour it back to the river as an offering and gain our blessings. Having the good fortune of recieving Hari's grace, let us offer everything to hari and live a happy life)

paritranaya sadhunam
vinasaya ca duskrtam
sambhavami yuge yuge

"In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium."

The world cannot take any more. Please advent yourself NOW!
Come back as Alla, come back as Christ
Come back as Krishna
come back as anyone
Krishna nee begane baro!

Many happy returns to all of you!
Let us pray for peace,brotherhood and love!
My Cousin dropped by on his way to a friend's wedding. During the course of our conversation he told me that this friend is a Muslim and had been in love with a Hindu girl. After 6 years of courtship they finally decided to part ways and marry persons acceptable to their parents.

The curious aspect is that neither the muslim boy nor the Hindu girl are active practitioners of their religion and even the parents are not very strict in their adherence to customs and rituals. If they could have been good friends without the interference of religion why should it be a problem for a happy marriage? Do people really change after marriage and suddenly become practitioners of their rituals and customs? When people talk about problems that the children of such parents could have, I don't undertand what they mean. Don't parents of all religions bring up their children with the same kind of love and care!

Ultimately isn't marriage about the understanding between two individuals, two human beings more than what name they give to their god or what their prayer rites are like? if their love was really strong, would they not have found it worthwhile to stand up for it and convince their parents? or do the youngsters themselves have different requirements from the person they want to be in "love" with and the person they want to marry? Were the parents being just used as an excuse to get out of an error in judgement and then settle into a more comfortable long term arrangement?

I am not trying to be subversive but I am just trying to understand a societal trend. I cannot dismiss these are cases of immature physical attraction which gradually wore off. These are intelligent students from institutions like the IIT who have the ability to think issues through and the courage to take on the system. So when these young people take shelter behind not wanting to wipe the smile from their parents' faces, I find it tough to accept it at face value; because if such people cannot stand up and fight for what they feel is right, it is a very grim scene. And if they think that falling in love with a person from another religious background is "not right", then it is an even grimmer scene.
Passerby tagged me and here I go:

A book that changed your life?

The second sex by Simone de Beauvoir..It wasn't actually its content but that was the book my husband gave me when he announced his intention to marry me!

One book you have read more than once?

Most Of P.G.Wodehouse books

One book you would want on a desert island?
Hey I'd want a boat not a book! Ok, if I am getting deserted for a few days (meals included I hope?)I will take the complete works of Shakespeare.

One book that made you laugh?
If you find a woman laughing away reading a book in a public place, it has got to be me. If you want me to name one book it would be "Twisted Tales from Shakespeare" which makes me do that every time read it. Anyone wants a flavour of Richard Armour, mail me with your email ids. I will mail you some.

One book that made you cry?

The diary of Anne frank. Can I also give you the names of the 100 more?

One book you wish had been written?

A manual on how to avoid hurts in human relationships.

One book you wish had never been written?

Kaavya Viswanathan's "How Opal mehta Got kissed etc." Could not read beyond 50 pages!

One book you are currently reading?

Shantharam by Gregory David Roberts

One book you have been meaning to read?

Kalidasa's Meghadootha.

I know that the tag procedure demands that I tag a few more people. So why don't you leave your preferences on any category in the comments?
$.Connecting with a total stranger in a smile over something funny or cute.
$. Meeting a new friend.
$. Early morning rides with the wind on your face.
$. Listening to an old song and remembering a smell or a face associated with the song.
$. Waking up listening to the rain pouring outside.
$. Nice long bath uninterrupted by the doorbell or telephone.
$. An unexpected call from a long lost friend.
$. Being part of an interesting conversation.
$. Laughing at yourself.
$. Sharing a wonderful dinner and conversation with a few close friends.
$. Laughing without a reason.
$. Finding out that someone considers you "special"
$. Seeing someone you love happy.
$. Finding something of a person you love and smelling his/her perfume.
$. Recollecting a special moment from the past and reliving it with the same intensity.
$. Making up with someone and getting over the hurt.
$. Giving up something that is precious to you to someone who needs it more.
$. Holding a few days' old baby of any species.
$. Long solitary walk on the beach watching the sunset.
$. Moments of silent bonding with people you love.