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ashokbhatia

rainbow

O Divine,
I often dream of you,
I wrap these dreams in a soft illumined air,
Which lies in between the violet and the red colours.

Help me to make a colourful highway,
Connecting the Earth and the Heavens above,
Help me to plant seeds of the Infinite,
On this finite lump of dancing mass we call the Earth.

Over time these seeds would grow into powerful creepers,
Gently opening the new life’s doors of bright white hue,
Giving us a peek into a magnificent palace,
Of an ornamental roof and gleaming floors.

These dreams of a new race I do believe in,
With Your grace, these would surely manifest on Earth,
Eventually, these would become the living truth,
Making humanity experience unalloyed joy and infinite bliss.

(Contributed by Usha)

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ashokbhatia

04

The dark blue color of your skin matches the deep hue of the late evening sky,
You are the light in the cosmos, you are the force which makes heavenly bodies fly;

You are the atom, you the nucleus, you the particle which goes around,
You are the invisible force which keeps the entire universe bound;

You reside in the sweet fragrance of the flowers, in the sap of plants,
You flow in the rapids, leap up in flames, you are in insects and in ants;

You hide in the melody of music, in the ether, in the tiny grains of sand,
You are behind all joys and sorrows of nature, in the rainbow, in the fertile land;

O supreme Bliss, who and where are you, we wish to know,
Words can’t describe you, thoughts can’t fathom your flute and bow;

We bow down to you but are fed up…

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(Here is the final part of a story whipped up by Shalini, an eight year old who has an abundance of creative juices sloshing about within her. Yours truly was merely assigned the task of putting it to pen and paper, so to say.)

A chance meeting in Switzerland

Suraj was part of the school orchestra. The school orchestra had become popular. It was invited to play at the Lucerne Music Festival.

Rakesh and Kala were worried about the high expense involved. The school music teacher explained to them the importance of taking part in an international festival. Seeing the enthusiasm Suraj had for playing as part of the school orchestra, they decided to send him to Lucerne.

At the Mumbai international airport, whole family came to see off Suraj. Kala had packed some of Suraj’s favourite sweets. She had tears in her eyes but was happy that her son had got this opportunity.

At Lucerne, the orchestra team was taken on a sight- seeing tour of the city. Suraj looked wide eyed at the lake, by the side of which was the Culture and Convention Centre where the team was to perform in a few days.

On the other hand, Leo was practicing hard on the piano. He was one of the students chosen by his school to take part in the orchestra which was coming from India. He had heard about India from his parents. He looked forward to making friends with some Indian students.

Three days before the performance, a practice session was held. When he entered the venue, a teacher stopped Leo from going inside.

‘You had already gone inside’, she said. ‘Where are you again coming from?’, she asked.

‘Maam, but I just came in. My mother just dropped me outside,’ said a surprised Leo.

‘OK, show me your school card.’

Leo showed her his school card. She took him inside and then identified Suraj. She called him over and checked his identity card also.

‘I am sorry. I must have made a mistake. But both of you look so much like each other’, she said and withdrew.

Suraj and Leo shook hands. Both were surprised to see each other. They looked like mirror images of each other.

The practice session began and went off well. When it was over, Leo ran into the arms of his mother who was waiting outside. He told her excitedly what had happened. Leila could not believe her ears. She went into the building, with Leo following her. She first met the teacher who had stopped Leo at the auditorium door. She was directed to where Suraj was standing with his school mates.

One look at Suraj, and Leila was happy and sad at the same time. Happy, because she thought she had met one of her missing children. Sad, because she did not know how to check if Suraj could indeed be her own lost child. She went ahead and shook hands with Suraj.

‘So, you come from India?’, she asked politely. She felt like hugging him.

‘Yes, maam,’ said Suraj respectfully. He somehow felt drawn towards Leila.

‘Where are your parents? Who are they?’

‘Maam, my father’s name is Rakesh. My mother’s name is Kala. We live in Mumbai.’

‘Do you have any brothers and sisters?’

‘Yes. We are four – two brothers and two sisters.’

Leila could not control her tears of joy. She gave Suraj and tight embrace and kissed him on his forehead.

‘My dear…..what is your name?’

‘Suraj, maam.’

‘Are you parents here with you?’

‘Only my father has accompanied. He is waiting outside.’

‘Let us go and meet him, then!’, said an excited Leila.

Outside the hall, Leila and Rakesh met. Rakesh was surprised to see Leo, who looked just like Suraj. After a brief introduction, Leila took Rakesh and Suraj to her home. There, Rakesh met Joseph, Livio, Sara and Anisa.

Joseph explained to Rakesh what happened when they went to India more than ten years back. Rakesh could not believe this could be happening. Late night, after dinner, Joseph dropped Rakesh and Suraj at the hotel where they were staying.

A family reunion 

The concert got over well. The Ambassador from India was the chief guest. Rakesh and Joseph met him together and explained what had happened. The ambassador suggested Joseph and the family visit India soon. A meeting between Leila and Kala would help, he thought.

Rakesh and Suraj returned to India. The day came when Joseph, Leila, Leo, Livio, Sara and Anisa came to Mumbai and met Rakesh, Kala, Madesh, Suraj, Sita and Yashoda. Leila was very happy to meet Kala and her other children.

Rakesh and Joseph went to the orphanage and met an elderly Sister Alicia. They told her about discovering each other by chance. They wondered if the orphanage had any record of how Madesh, Suraj, Sita and Yashoda had reached there. After searching old records, Sister Alicia gave them John’s address in Goa.

All of them travelled together from Mumbai to Goa. They sang songs together and were very happy. Leila was happy that all her lost children had been brought up so very well, with good family values. Several times, she expressed her gratitude to Kala for having taken so very good care of the children.

Upon reaching Goa, they located John, who confirmed that he had rescued four children when the boat accident took place. He was happy that the family had got reunited.

All is well that ends well

After some time, they all decided to be together at Lucerne in Switzerland. Jospeh helped Rakesh and Kala to start a catering service for Indian dishes. They stayed on two floors in the same apartment complex. They shared meals, ideas and things between themselves.

Madesh is now training for lawn tennis. Suraj has joined a violin academy and become part of a local music group. Sita has started studying to become a doctor. Yashoda has taken up a course in hotel management. She also helps her parents in their business.

Leo continues his practice on the piano. Livio has become a ski instructor. Sara is studying engineering. Anisa has started offering ballet classes. Often, she can be seen performing on stage in various parts of Europe and Asia.

Lake of Lucerne and Bristenstock

Leila and Joseph are happy that all of them are finally together. All the children are honest, truthful and good at heart. They have a strong character. They are talented. They speak politely and respect their elders.

The whole family has faith in a super power which keeps all the people in this world happy, joyful and satisfied.

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/an-eight-year-old-whips-up-a-story-part-1-of-2)

 

 

 

 

 

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(Here is a story whipped up by Shalini, an eight year old who has an abundance of creative juices sloshing about within her. Yours truly was merely assigned the task of putting it to pen and paper, so to say.

The story is dedicated to the loving memory of Shri Murali Manohar Goel. It is the story of Leila, Joseph, Kala and Rakesh; of how the four pairs of twins born to Leila got separated; of how they came together again.)

The story of a family coming together again

Leila faces a storm

Leila was standing on the upper deck of a boat, watching the blue waves in the Indian Ocean. As the sun started setting, its rays created beautiful patterns. Some seagulls were diving down and catching fish for their supper. The skyline of Mumbai was just becoming visible.

Leila used to live in far off Lucerne, a big city in the heart of Switzerland. She and her husband, Joseph, had saved some money over past few years and planned this trip to India. They had landed in Delhi. They had seen the Taj Mahal in Agra. They had travelled through the Thar desert. Mumbai was their last stop, from where they they had taken a ferry to visit Elephanta Caves nearby. After two days, they were to catch a flight back to Switzerland.

Leila was tall and beautiful. She had hazel blue eyes and long dark hair. She was happy that their dream trip to India had gone well so far. As she gently patted her swollen abdomen, she thought how happy her eight babies, waiting to come into this world, would be.

Suddenly, she noticed some big waves rising in the ocean. A strong wind started blowing, rocking the boat. She turned and saw her husband Joseph had also joined her on the deck. Just then, a siren blew. A seaman came rushing, telling them to return to their cabin. A storm was coming, and the captain wanted all the boat’s passengers safe.

Even as Leila and Joseph were climbing down a staircase to reach their cabin, a very big wave hit the boat. It turned over dangerously. Leila looked at Joseph with alarm. Joseph pressed her hand by way of an assurance.

All of a sudden, Leila started feeling labour pains. Even before they could reach their cabin, the boat rolled over. She felt as if she was about to enter a watery grave. She was worried about the safety of her yet-to-be-born babies. Leila’s head hit a staircase rail and she lost consciousness.

When Leila awoke, she found herself in a white bed. She was connected to some tubes and an equipment at her back was making a rhythmic bleeping sound. A concerned Joseph, with his head in bandages, was sitting by her side. He patted her hand affectionately.

‘Where are we? What happened?’, she asked feebly.

Joseph smiled weakly.

‘We are in a hospital in Mumbai. Due to the storm, our boat had started sinking. The captain and the staff took good care. They brought us safely ashore and got us admitted here.’

Instinctively, Leila felt her abdomen. It felt empty.

‘What about the children?’, she asked with sudden alarm.

‘Well, you delivered all eight of them while on the boat itself. Congratulations, dear!’, said Joseph.

‘Hope they are fine? Where are they?’ Leila asked.

‘Hmm..as luck would have it, in the confusion, when the boat sank, we somehow lost four of them. But the other four are fine and safe, don’t worry.’

‘Can I see them? Where are the others?’

‘Yes, I shall tell the nurse to bring them in. Lovely kids. Two girls and two boys.’

‘But what happened to the others?’

‘We are trying to find out but have lost track. Police have asked people on the sea coast but we still have no news.’

‘That is so very sad’, said Leila, suppressing tears rolling down from her eyes. ‘How do the four remaining with us look?’, she asked after some time.

Just then, two nurses came in, carrying the four babies in their arms.

Leila was overjoyed to see the babies, who were all sleeping.

‘My little angels’, she said, kissing them all one by one. ‘I hope God is taking good care of the other four also!’

John survives the storm

John was an auto mechanic. He used to live in Goa and was unmarried. He had a nice helpful nature. He was on the same boat on which Leila and Joseph were.

After the boat sank, he found himself floating in the open sea. He was on some planks of wood. With him were four newly delivered babies – two boys and two girls. In the darkness, they were simply lying there, with a torn bed sheet from the boat covering them from the chilly air. Their eyes were closed. They were unaware of the storm around them. Two of them were even smiling, as they slept soundly.

John cuddled all four of them, two on each of his sides. He did not want any harm to come to them. He was praying and hoping that the winds would gently propel them towards a safe spot on the Mumbai sea shore.

Once ashore, John was wondering what to do with the four babies. He was poor and could not bring them up. He thought he could leave them at an orphanage which might take better care of them.

And this is what he did a few hours later when the raft hit the shallow shore. He went to a church nearby and met the pastor there. The pastor was caring and nice. He gave him some bread and warm soup. He also gave him some clothes to change.

Both of them dried up the four babies. They wrapped them up in fresh dry clothes. The pastor then accompanied him to a nearby parish which also had an orphanage. Sister Alicia, the in charge there, was happy to receive the kids. She had some nurses under her, who started taking good care of all the four.

After two days, when John had had some rest at a friend’s place in Mumbai, he came back to the orphanage. He felt that the kids were in good hands. He left his address with Sister Alicia and returned to Goa.

It never occurred to John to inform the local police about the four kids he had found in the sea waters after the boat had sunk.

Kala and Rakesh get a gift

In a two bedroom flat in Mumbai lived a couple, Kala and Rakesh. They were married for six years but were still childless. The doctors had advised them to adopt a child instead. Both used to love children. Often, they would pray to have a couple of children.

Kala was of medium height. She had beautiful eyes. She was very loving. She cared even for her neighbourhood kids, helping them in many ways.

Rakesh had a close friend in the restaurant where he worked. His name was Peter. Once, Peter was having dinner at their place. The topic of adopting children came up. Peter said he knew about an orphanage where they could try their luck.

Next Sunday, the three of them went to the orphanage together. Peter introduced them to the in charge there, one Sister Alicia. She walked around with them and introduced them to many children who were happy and playing in the compound.

Some lovely children caught the attention of Kala. They were very cute, with blue eyes and dark hair. Sister Alicia told them that these four kids had survived a boat accident some time back. She wondered if they were from some foreigner couple. She had tried locating their parents, but had failed to do so.

Kala and Rakesh were delighted to meet these four kids. They offered to take care of all of them. Sister Alicia could see they were good people. She agreed.

That is how the remaining four kids of Leila and Joseph found an Indian family. Kala named them Madesh, Suraj, Sita and Yashoda.

Leo, Livio, Sara and Anisa grow up

Back in Lucerne, Leila and Jospeh started bringing up the four kids lovingly. The boys were named Leo and Livio. The girls were named Sara and Anisa. Like their mother, all of them had hazel blue eyes and dark hair. Often, Leila would worry about her missing four children. She would pray to God that they be safe, wherever they may be.

Leo was a simple boy by nature. He was obedient and caring. Livio and Sara were naughty and playful. They liked to play pranks on others. Anisa was a quiet and studious child. They all looked the same. By nature, they were all quite different from each other.

 

They loved playing on swings. They enjoyed their outings on the lake. Leo and Anisa liked to spend time at the Natural History museum, identifying different butterflies and insects displayed there. Livio and Sara liked to visit the Transport Museum. All four of them liked skiing, swimming and ice skating. Trekking in the mountains was a favourite hobby of theirs.

Leo and Anisa gradually developed interest in music. Leo learnt to play the piano. Many times, he represented his school in different concerts. Anisa learnt ballet dancing. She was liked by all those who saw her perform.

All four of them looked like each other. Often, people would mix up between the four children. Livio or Sara would play a prank on another kid at school, but Leo or Anisa would have to take the blame. Leo or Anisa would do some good work, but Livio or Sara would get praised.

At night, all four of them would cuddle around Leila and go to sleep after listening to a story. Often, they heard the story of the boat accident. They believed that they had four other siblings who were their twins. But they did not know if those four were still alive. If so, where were they and what were they doing?

Madesh, Suraj, Sita and Yashoda blossom in India

In India, the other four kids started going to a good school near their home.

Madesh was naughty. He liked to play in the garden outside and would be found fighting with other kids. As he grew, he developed an interest in playing tennis. He thought he could play for India team when he grew up. Roger Federer was his role model.

Suraj was a quiet boy. He was good at studies. All his teachers liked him. He took to learning the violin. He dreamed of learning Western music from a professional academy. He wanted to play as part of an orchestra all over the world.

Sita was a quiet girl. She would play with her dolls all alone.  She was an obedient child. She was good at heart, and would willingly share her toys with other children. Her dream was to become a doctor and serve people.

Yashoda was a mischievous kid. She was intelligent and did well in her studies. At school, she would often make funny drawings in the copy books of other children. She was more like a tom boy and liked playing outside the home with other boys. She wanted to become a restaurant manager, like her father.

All the four of them were fond of listening to tales from Indian epics at night. Their grandmother, Rakesh’s mother, used to tell them stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata at night. On holidays, they would go out for picnics to such places as the Juhu beach. They loved making sand castles and picking up shells at the beach. They learnt good family values. They did not know they also had four siblings in a far off country known as Switzerland.

(Continued in Part 2)

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Hapless parents who are always rushing from pillar to post to make the two ends meet carry a lovely responsibility on their tender shoulders – that of bringing up kids.

Families have shrunk. Technology has sneaked into the family space. Most parents themselves have one sibling each, and they also happen to be equally busy chasing their own dreams. The desire to enjoy independence from parents has led to the current trend of singular families. Kids no longer have the luxury of curling up in bed with the family seniors and listening to juicy stories and fables from the distant past.

kids-internet-1

Often, hassled parents, already bearing the guilt of not being able to spend enough quality time with their kids, get into a conflict with kids over such inane matters as the choice of their friends, the dress they wish to wear in their free time, and the shows they insist…

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Lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension have a tendency to quietly enter the house of our physical bodies, much like unbidden and unwelcome guests. In most of the cases, repeated attempts to entice these to depart and scour around for some greener pastures are unsuccessful. After the first stage of shock and denial has passed, a state of active acceptance comes about. The basic principle of a peaceful coexistence eventually gets followed.

Diabetes is labelled as a silent killer. This unwelcome guest has a tendency to enfeeble almost all the organs of the body. Its special affection gets directed towards ones which are already in a state of disrepair. These could be our heart, eyes, kidneys, feet or any other organ or limb which catches its fancy. Nerve endings get compromised. Initially, some tingling sensations may be there, more bothersome at night. Over time, sensations may be lost completely, leading to problems which do not even get felt.

Excessive thirst and frequent urination are the well-known symptoms of diabetes. These could easily get ignored and we could chug along in our lives, blissfully ignorant of the arrival of this unbidden guest amidst us. With urine, the body also ends up ejecting some minerals. The disease leaves one feeling tired and exhausted.

The alpha and beta of diabetes

At the core of this affliction is an organ known as the pancreas. Due to genetic reasons or owing to prolonged abuse, there are times when it refuses to behave like an alpha male. It ceases to run on all its twelve cylinders. It does not produce enough insulin, the hormone which controls blood sugar levels in the body.

The beta cells in our pancreas not only produce insulin but also govern the sugar level fluctuations in the body. So, the higher the level of blood sugar, the higher is the fluctuation of sugar levels in general. The fact that South Asian genes happen to be more susceptible to attracting this disease does not really comfort someone who is actually suffering from diabetes.

There are those in whose case the cells that produce insulin are selectively lost. They would qualify to be suffering from Type 1 diabetes.

The body surely needs sugar to keep active and kicking. But when the sugar intake is more than what it can handle, insulin production lags behind its demand. The pancreas is unable to keep pace. Those whose pancreas has started losing its efficacy over a period of time get categorized as having Type 2 diabetes. Often, obesity rules. The battle of the bulge gets lost. Pear pressure kicks in.

Then there is a portion of humanity which shows signs of an imminent onset of diabetes. These could be called pre-diabetics. Surely, there is some hope for them, provided they adopt an active lifestyle, change their diet pattern, and do not allow diabetes to walk in.

The delicately nurtured amongst our species, when they happen to be in the family way, face the risk of gestational diabetes.  Though it is a temporary condition, they end up having a higher predisposition towards Type 2 diabetes.

Sharing some key observations

Yours truly is neither a physician nor a person even remotely connected with the field of medicine. Nevertheless, here is a summary of what one has learnt so far. Some of you might find these of use. These observations pertain to Type 2 diabetes.

Blood sugar levels are a function of the following major factors:

  • Stress: The higher the stress levels, the higher the blood sugar levels. A prolonged challenging situation – whether on the home front or on the office front – could reduce the immunity levels of the body and increase the sugar levels.

Laughing things off helps, so does the company of those who exude positivity. Building up inner resilience reduces the impact of external circumstances, and thereby helps in controlling sugar levels better.

  • Physical activity is a basic factor. Be a couch potato or a chair tiger and repent at leisure. Regular brisk walks and light exercises help. But these produce results only after about six weeks, by which time the body forms a habit and starts demanding its daily dose of whatever physical regime you decide to follow.

Pottering about in the garden or in the kitchen and doing household chores provides some protection. Climbing up stairs and not using an elevator helps. Living life with lesser dependence on your favourite Ferrari helps.

But nothing to beat the efficacy of either cycling or a brisk walk, which is closer to the way a soldier would typically walk. Sweating it out is a key factor. It also helps with heart-related issues.

Much like a tube light needs an initial surge of additional power to get going, the body also needs an initial impetus of will power to walk the first 500 meters. Thereafter, once it has warmed up, a brisk walk often sounds more like a cake walk.

  • Medication cannot be taken lightly. It needs to be taken regularly, on time. This implies that meals required to keep the body and soul together also need to be taken on time, day after day.

Oral medication is convenient. At times, if it is unable to bring blood sugar levels within control (fasting values in the range of 70-100 and other values being in the range of 120-200), the physician may prescribe insulin injections.

Insulin has a singular advantage of the necessary hormone reaching the blood stream directly. But the flip side of using insulin, or any other anti-diabetic agent, is the risk of blood sugar dropping down to such dangerous levels as 60 or below. Symptoms could be tiredness, giddiness, excess sweating, palpitation and even coma and other          complications. This could even prove to be fatal.

To avoid such complications, a bar of chocolate, some dry fruits and biscuits should always be kept handy. Sugar cubes could also help. A glucometer needs to be used to immediately check the blood sugar levels and the incident reported to one’s doctor.

  • Diet is a crucial factor in managing diabetes. Our scriptures often extol the virtues of leading the life of an ascetic or a monk. Diabetes propels us towards such lofty goals in life. Controlling our taste buds is a serious challenge and needs nerves of chilled steel. When a piping hot junk food item like a ‘samosa’ comes up in front of us, or when a ‘rasgulla’ gets lovingly offered by an otherwise well-meaning friend, the deep reserves of our tenacity have to be marshalled to refuse these and instead pick on a green salad.

Even fruits like mangoes and bananas are harmless, if taken in moderation and if in the absence of any other item on our plate.

Some tests and parameters

  • Regular checks on blood sugar levels (fasting as well as postprandial, PP) are highly recommended.

For fasting level to be correctly ascertained, during the previous night, except for plain water, nothing else should be consumed after 10 PM. Medicines to be taken after the test. Normal breakfast can be had after about 30 minutes.

For PP, a reading would need to be taken two hours after breakfast, with nothing else being consumed in the meanwhile. Any deviation from this procedure can be brought to the notice of one’s physician.

  • Once in six months, our physician may recommend a test known as HbA1C. This one tells us the weighted average of our sugar levels over a period of the past three months, thereby indicating the extent of control we have exercised over ourselves during that period. A value below 7 would normally indicate a fair amount of control, though the exact value is best decided between the doctor and the patient.
  • Frequent eye and feet check-ups are necessary. Once in a year, functioning of the kidney needs to be reviewed by means of appropriate tests.

When prolonged tension leads to hypertension

Yet another lifestyle disease which creeps up on one is that of high blood pressure. If left unattended, this could result in the hardening of arteries, cardiac problems and an increase in one’s intraocular pressure in the eyes. Keeping this on a strict watch is in some ways even more crucial than regular monitoring of blood sugar levels.

Of doctors and miracle cures

The role of a doctor in managing diabetes is more akin to that of a guide. The hapless physician has no clue as to what our daily meals comprise and the amount of liquors and desserts we gobble up at social events.

Often, we may come across miracle cures made by those who are proficient in alternative streams of medicine, claiming to get us rid of diabetes in a short period of time. If followed, these could achieve good results in the short run, but could do more harm to the body in the long run. The reason is simple – these are not sustainable. In a controlled environment, these cures could really work. But when we are back in the civilization, living our routine lives and facing all the harsh slings and arrows of Fate, the short-term benefits could simply evaporate. However, there is a general belief that some medicines from alternative streams do work as supplements, somewhat nullifying the side effects of allopathic medicines.

A helping hand from the government  

One has no statistical evidence, but there is no doubt that those suffering from this lifestyle disease do end up suppressing the economic growth of the country they inhabit.

Revenue-hungry governments world over could think of imposing a hefty ‘sin tax’ on all things sweet. Tax breaks can be offered to those who suffer from a lifestyle disease. The delivery of public health services can be strengthened.

The civic authorities would do well to ensure that there are adequate provisions for bicycle tracks and for taking brisk walks in open spaces for its denizens. Public transporters could pitch in by ensuring availability of diabetic diets to those who might be in need of the same.

The trick of managing a lifestyle disease

The real control of diabetes and other lifestyle diseases rests in our own hands. Guided by a competent physician, management of these is no rocket science.

Basically, the trick lies in holding our chin up, looking ahead to a joyful life with clear eyes, and marching on with our lives, wearing this affliction as a badge of honour on our sleeves, aspiring to evolve spiritually, with nary a wrinkle on our forehead.

Bertie Wooster and Jeeves would heartily approve of a sunny disposition of this nature. So would Ashe Marson of the ‘Something Fresh’ fame.

(Inputs from Dr B S Suryanarayana, Additional Professor, Department of Medicine, JIPMER, Pondicherry, are gratefully acknowledged)

(Illustrations courtesy www)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/o-my-beloved-when-would-you-depart

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/getting-india-in-the-pink-of-health

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/handling-the-diabetes-tsunami-in-india

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/how-diabetes-helps-us-to-improve-our-sq)

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Just in case you ever feel that you have evolved into a headless chicken and have ended becoming a zombie chasing deadlines and goals with not even time to breathe, try coming over to Pondicherry.

For many of us, our lives are so much filled with stimuli, not to speak of the onerous responsibilities we carry on our slender shoulders. It is not possible for us to sit still and do nothing, much less relax, even for a few minutes. We have no time for meditation. Nor do we have time for some simple yoga exercises. We are always doing something or the other. How proud we feel in telling someone that we do not have time for this or that. Our fragile ego gets a much-needed boost. In place of being ‘human beings’, we have become ‘human doings’.

Often, relatives from distant parts of the world call up to check as to what they can do if and when they land up in Pondicherry. When they are told that the beauty of Pondicherry lies in the fact that they have the option of doing nothing here, one can either hear an astonished gasp or just suffer a long silence over the phone.

There are times when life becomes too exciting and one yearns to get a wee bit bored. The good news is that a brief spell of boredom does lead to a feeling of inner peace. And once we get used to it, with little practice, we could learn to really relax. Then we start enjoying our chance to have a real conversation with ourselves. We ask ourselves where our lives are really headed. We wonder as to what our goal in life is, and whether we are really working towards that or have we got trapped in the quicksand of our materialistic ambitions. The payback is tremendous.

Most of the times, our anxiety and inner struggle happen to be a product of a restless mind which is forever looking for some diversion, as if it is afraid to allow us to be calm and be with ourselves.

While rushing to office, we are wondering if we shall make it for that crucial meeting on time. When we enter the conference room, we are anxious as to which colleagues would be puncturing holes in our image by raising some obnoxious concerns. At lunch time, we shall be worrying about the maid who might be stealing something from the bedroom cupboard at home. Every ten minutes, we shall check our messages or mails, just in case that critical one we had sent to the big boss the other day has elicited any response.

By evening, we are a bundle of frayed nerves. Upon reaching home, we shove some morsels down the hatch so as to keep our body and soul together. Some phone calls get made. Then we slouch in front of the idiot box and try to improve our track record of being a couch potato. The day ends. The next one begins. The cycle gets repeated ad nauseam. We end up becoming a zombie.

You can be said to have attained the exalted state of zombie-ness when you go through the motions of life in a lifeless manner; when you have surrendered your free will to your guardian angels, who have been allowed to take decisions for and on your behalf; and, when instructions received from the boss during your working hours make you spend sleepless nights in the comfort of your bed.

The beauty of doing nothing is that it teaches us to clear our mind and relax. When the mind is rested and stilled, it becomes sharper and stronger. It becomes more focused. Creative juices start flowing freely.

The art of nothingness does not make sense logically. But when practised, it propels us on the path of spirituality. The resulting bliss is something to be personally experienced.

Let all this not scare you off. Pondicherry has a lot on offer – sea breeze, exotic food, tissue restoratives which lift your spirits temporarily, cultural events, book launches, off-beat movies, dance classes, horse riding, scuba diving, heritage walks…….the list goes on. But if you simply wish to give your life a break, it is the place you would do well to head to!

 

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