Telling Stories…

Is there anything that really stops me for writing more posts on my blog in a month than I did in a year? I guess not! That’s the beauty of being the master of your own space. It would have been rather sad to actually ask for someone’s permission before giving my own humble opinion about things. I mean not everything in the world has to be like having dinner with your wife ! Especially if the non-swimmer wife is a good seven sufficiently deep seas away…

However life on the road is tough for an otherwise thoroughly domesticated guy. You have to take care of the laundry for one… and the ironing. You need to remember to include food groups other than meat, sugar and alcohol in your diet. And you need to learn how to get up when an alarm clock tells you that you have less than an hour to exercise, eat and look smart before reporting to work. I usually ignore the exercise and eating bits and focus on looking smart. I mean coffee at work is as good a breakfast as any other and I walk to work in any case for exercise. And am not telling you how far my office is from my hotel !

But I digress…again…

What lead me to write was a picture of a Russian girl holding blue cornflowers that appeared in the New York Times the other day.

She could have been Olga in the first chapter of ‘Timur and his Squad’.

If unlike me you did not grow up in a world of books where people had names like Ivan, Jhenya, Vlad and Dimitri, the rest of this post is not going to make too much sense to you. And if the books you read never took you to the Russian country side full of happy, simple, poor yet generous people, then the tales I describe are the not the ones that you might remember.

I grew up in an India that was far more socialist than what it is today. As kids we looked up to the experiment called the USSR without ever seeing through the beautiful tapestry woven by the colorful Russian festivals organized so frequently across the country. For us, Russia sounded like a land of equality ! Where the people had actually managed to find a voice and define their country their own way. It all seemed to good to be true, and it probably was…

For all the pride we take in Indian literature; in the breadth of its diversity and the depth of its thought, it is painfully lacking when it comes to telling stories to our children. If we ever manage to move beyond our religious epics ,the Panchtantra and the ancient folklores, there is little else available that tells tales to the modern child. Indian comics meant the traditional ‘Amar Chitra Katha’ and the borrowed ‘Marvel Comics’ feathers of ‘Indrajaal Comics’… and the fun yet shallow publications of ‘Diamond Comics’. Comics however, could never really replace a book or a story. And I cannot remember reading a single Indian novel meant for children ever. (I did read a lot of novels NOT meant for children when I was younger but we are never going to talk about that ever again are we?)

The only books for children to be found were usually discounted books by Russian authors sold at street corners in small town India. The stories they told were different from our usual staple fare of Enid Blytons and Hardy Boys, the books were thick and usually full of pictures… and most importantly; they were pretty cheap.

So we read the stories of shepherds in Kazakhstan and commiserated with commissars from Crimea. Despaired when a little girl lost her mother’s ring in the snow and rejoiced when she found it again when the sun melted the thaw away…I smelt my first whiff of cigar smoke and the luxuriated in mahogany and leather chairs, without having seen either honestly… people in my home were usually not found smoking cigars while relaxing in leather chairs.

I got my first taste of tragedy when I read a book depicting child artists with tired limbs at a Russian circus and was inspired to do my bit for my country at the youthful age of 10 when I read about Timur and his squad of pioneers. Timur, there is that name again. A lovely story that then seemed like a book, written by a guy called Arkady Gaidar.

In my younger days, I think he used to be my favorite author, having read just about three stories of his: Timur and his Squad, The Blue Cup (published as ‘Neela Pyala’ in Hindi) and the beautiful story of Alyska the dog. These three stories remain amongst my favorites till date even though I must have read them first nearly two decades back…

Timur and his Squad, narrates the story of a gang of kids who take it upon themselves to take care of families whose men have gone to warfront fighting the Nazis. The boys (and girls) get into all sorts of trouble but they have their hearts at the right place. The story concludes with a mad dash to Moscow on a motor bike that eventually brings life back to normal.

The story of the ‘Blue Bowl’ begins with the object in question being shattered by a careless brush of hand by a little girl in a frock. Who then decides to leave home along with her father because she gets scolded by her mother at what the girl considers to be an honest mistake. So the little girl and her father, abandon the mother at their home and cross the road and go deep into the woods forever. They spend the day discussing deep questions like why is mother so bad, only to return in the evening because they decided to forgive the mother, and also because it was dinner time.

Alyska…one of the most heart breaking stories for a dog lover. A lady from Moscow rents a country cottage for summer and adopts a pup who becomes her most faithful companion for the next 3 months. She names her Alyska. A day before the woman was supposed to return to Moscow, Alyska disappears and is nowhere to be found. They assume that she has been carried away by the wild animals from the surrounding brush. Heartbroken, the lady goes back to Moscow alone. She returns to the same cottage during winters and during the night she imagines Alyska barking and scratching at the door. She decides that she must be dreaming and pulls her blankets closer to herself and goes back to sleep. In the morning, she opens the door to discover little paw marks and scratches all around her porch… and that is where the story ends.

I wonder if any of the kids today have even heard of these stories. And even if they did, would the simplicity of these stories still appeal to them like the way it did to us? When I come across some of these stories today, they seem to be full of Soviet propaganda, and some were probably meant to be just that. But when you weave stories around loving parents, hot bowls of porridge, faithful dogs and bales of yellow hay piled high around shaggy brown horses and weather gods called Kotura, the tales will probably end up being more than a vehicle for a communist message, they become stories you want to tell when you are sitting next to a fireplace surrounded by kids who are as old as you were when you read them the first time.

Some stories die with age I guess, and sometimes they just change and evolve and acquire a new context… just like the memories of a our past.

Or perhaps our past is really, just the story we tell about ourselves…

Ready to run !

Sports of all kinds have generally played a minor role in my existence. Of course I was a part of the usual 40 kids playing with one football in an intra-class free-for-all at school, and yes I played badminton with the neighborhood kids in the evenings… there was that summer when I realized I liked being a spin bowler but yet; no sport really stayed with me across the years.

I watched lawn tennis on TV, attended cricket matches in dusty stadiums, and generally cared two hoots about who won or lost…. preferring books and a silent corner over a crowded playing field anytime.
In short, I was an absolute nerd growing up. And guess what, I still am.

So it took an extreme turn of circumstances for a short , not-so-slender-but-completely-happy me to finally find myself registering for a 6K run at the Mumbai Marathon.

No its not a case of midlife crisis, though it might be because yours truely recently turned a whopping 30!
Lets step back a few months. A week shy of my 30th birthday, a random blood test revealed that I have extremely high cholesterol for my age, something in the range of 250 when it had no business being anything above 200. Talk about inconvenient truths. I was the one in the house who picked at his food while others hogged, who used to wax eloquent about the joys of healthy eating whenever someone cared to listen.. and in the entire family, guess who manages to wrangle a life style disease more suited for obese people digging into cream pies … tadaaa… Me !

So after the initial wringing of hands and silent dinners where I stared accusingly at the people and the food surrounding me, I joined a gym, got a personal trainer, and diligently got up early morning each day to be tortured in public by a guy who seemed distinctly half my age. The gym was nice, the sauna was nicer still. I wished I could spend more time in the latter and lesser in the former. However , as much as I used to detest lifting my 10 lbs when dudes around me were doing like a 75 lbs nonchalantly… I used to look forward to one activity where I found myself doing better than a lot of people around me… running!

I was surprised to find that I could run for a pretty long time and cover pretty long distances. It was fun running to my favorite music, and if I did it for a long enough period of time at the gym I came across as a serious health freak. And the best part, it all added up to a lower waist size for my jeans. Suddenly, before I knew it, I was a runner !

Soon I was reading up (I am a nerd remember?) about the intricacies of a proper stride, reading blogs by runners and watching youtube videos of people running more in a day than I had in a lifetime. Am not sure if I was a better runner at the end of it, but I was surely more informed!

It used to hurt at times, still does. My ankles and shins disagreed with my intentions with each aching step. It was not a happy day when I puked after having run for hardly a kilometer.

Till one day finally, I completed my first kilometer on the trot and a month later, I paced my first five kilometer run.

There are few things that I have ever done in my life that have given me a greater sense of achievement than making the transition from being a guy on the verge of being put on cholesterol medication at an age less than 30, to a guy who manages to outrun at least some of the runners at Central Park…and yes being a guy who has almost normal cholesterol levels (am getting there !!).

For the last one month, I have been camping at a hotel… and my running has at best been intermittent. The reason I am writing this today is to remind myself how much being a runner has meant for me in such a short while already. Come tomorrow, I promise that I am hitting the road again. Right now, I am harboring hopes of completing a 10 km race before I hit 31.

Yes, at the end of it I am still probably an absolute nerd…

But trust me people…this nerd can run !

A Happier Diwali

Candle on the window sill
Candle on the window sill

Wish you all a very Happy Diwali !

I hope the coming year is bright, beautiful, peaceful, and safe and is the beginning of the best years of your life.

This Diwali finds me alone in a hotel room in New York City. In all the thirty years of my life, this is the first time that I would not have family around me.. or is it?

There was a Diwali when I stayed back at my engineering college to study for my upcoming MBA entrance examinations. And the celebration meant lighting candles at a temple nearby. It was a dark night, but the sky glowed with a blue luminosity that can only be found in the mountains. The villages on the slope of the hills twinkled in the darkness, a silent symphony of light that stretched out deep in the Himalayan valley. The temple was surrounded by a stone verandah… the floor cold against my  bare feet. My match sticks were repeatedly blown out by gusts of wind and I had to shield the flame with my hands to light the candles. The candle flames were so fragile, and looked like they would be extinguished by the wind the moment I left the temple…. Or so I thought.

The next morning, I strolled by the temple again… and discovered that the candles had indeed burnt their way through the night. Left on their own, they managed to outlast the wind and shine in solitary splendor at the cusp of the hill.

This Diwali, comes in the wake of some very sad times for some of our friends… Mine and Radhika’s. A friend just lost her mother, and another friend is by her mother’s bedside willing her to live longer. Both victims of cancer. They are in our hearts and in our prayers today.

It hurts when the comfort of familiarity as we know it, is torn and cast away. When something as unnecessary as a disease takes the life out of someone you deeply love. For a while, whatever we do seems pointless… like lighting up tiny candles or setting off noisy fireworks when you are the only one to see them light up the night. The tears flow till they dry up and leave us bitter and brittle to the core..

I lost my mother when I was young, and I remember the hurt.

But What I also remember is that one fine day, I started noticing the flowers in the garden again, found myself stretching in the warmth of the winter sun as I recalled how much my mother would have enjoyed both. And I smiled.

The people we love never really go away. Their thoughts, and actions and what they would have done, become our constant companions. I still find myself silently evaluating things like my mother would have done… and if I ever lie down while eating, I hear her voice telling me to sit up.

With time, we do heal.

And accept that those we love, are gifts. The time we spend together is a greater gift. And come what may, memories of that fifteen day long happy vacation filled with laughter are never going to be erased by the long times mourning for what we lost…

We start laughing again, and hold hands and smile. The joy returns to our lives… and the next year, we find ourselves cleaning our homes and lighting up candles again.

Hope lives on. And it keeps  us alive !

Diwali, is so full of hope. It looks ahead to a future of prosperity and makes us grateful for what we have been given in the past.. even if all that is left of it are beautiful memories.

I hope for a beautiful future for me and Radhika, and am thankful for our loving family and that means everything to us. This Diwali I will light a candle alone at my hotel window sill, and kick back and spend a quiet evening with the beautiful memories and voices of the past surrounding me.

Truely, a Happy Diwali.

Please help if you can…

Abhishek is a guy my age battling cancer. He is an alumni of the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, a Product Manager with Brittania. I was forwarded the link to his site (http://www.helpabhishek.com/) by a friend of mine. As I read through his story, I realized that this could have happened to any of us.

I know what it is like to be 30 and have a family. The money is just about enough to cover the dreams that you have dreamt and fulfil some more by the side. Am sure, this couple is not too different. They are now faced with the daunting task of raising close to Rs. 1 Crore for treating the cancer.

These folks need all the help they can get. They are educated and young, and their personal story is very similar to the life we live ourselves. Please help Abhishek if you can. The different modes for making the contribution are listed on his website.

http://www.helpabhishek.com

In case you have a blog or a webpage, please carry this link on your site. Am sure, this help will not go waste.

The home we left behind…

It completes the cycle… it really does. There is some kind of a poetic justice in the fact that I type this blog post sitting at the very table where it all began. It’s an old table…. teak wood… stained with ink spots and smoothened with use. See that oblong spot over there? The one on the right hand corner, yes, the black one. That’s where I used to keep my ink pot. We used fountain pens at school….

Remember?

How could you not remember, when you had been trying so hard to forget.

Lets start with the gates, the white painted wicker gates. They were not white to begin with… the carpenter crafted them out of common logs of wood one long summer afternoon… the sounds of hammers and saws in the garage reverberated through the house and set our teeth on the edge. We painted the gates white, to match the jasmine flowers that blossomed in the bush that surrounded the house. And our house remained the only one in the neighborhood with a white wicker gate, protecting all that remained in the confines of what once was, the only place I called home.

We once had a lawn, covered with Chinese grass, the kind where you measure the thickness by spreading your thumb and index finger… like indicating a Patiala peg. We used to water it in the evening, keeping an eye out for earthworms to tease and ant hills to smother. The grass was deceptively soft, especially around the periphery of the patch… and like most things in the world, the outward prosperity yielded to scorched patches in the center. It was not a happy day when the lawn was bricked over to make way for the garage, but then, we were getting a car.

A car. That four wheeled contraption that made us transition that gaping crater between the haves and have nots in 1980s. A gleaming second hand Premier Padmini that was in my opinion, the prettiest car on the planet. Come to think of it, I still would not mind driving it. Wonder what did they do with the steel body of the car at the scrap yard… or the velvet upholstery. No, it was not air-conditioned car, nor was it really new. It was dented in patches, and gleamed in places like it had been never sullied, almost like a real person… Age and shine, for us who stayed in an airy house that was more than a century old, these trivialities hardly mattered.

Our front yard-that-used-to-be-a-lawn was the place where our family used to sun in winters and tie out dogs to dry after their baths in summer. The place where a chair under the guava tree (did I mention that before?) was the best place to indicate defiance, self sufficiency and a general disdain for your family after an argument. Where on the pretext of a crowded house during a dinner, you found space to cozy up with your girlfriend by the side of the garage door.

Forget that I wrote that last sentence, I am a much married man now….

How do you begin to let go of a place you called home for 20 years. 4-B Staff Colony CTC, Lucknow was my address in all the admission forms I ever filled up,…it was printed neatly on multicolored card envelopes I received on my birthday from my cousins, and was my permanent address in the first passport I ever had.
I was 4 years old when we moved into this house. Me, my elder brother, my parents, a dog and a whole retinue of people who came and went through the day. Lets see… we had a gardener, a person to sweep and clean the house, a guy to wash the utensils, the washerwoman for the clothes, the milkman with his aluminum containers balanced on the sides of his bicycle, the vegetable vendor who would slip you wilted greens if you were not looking, the newspaper Walla though honestly, I was never woke up in time to see him around. So many of them moved from house to house during the day plying their trade.
Strange, I don’t even know what happened to the guy who provided me with my daily quota of stories each evening as he scrubbed the pans. We were best friends. Really. I honestly meant it then.

It was a rich childhood, the kind you read stories about in the memoir of NRI authors writing about forgotten Indian towns. Full of hot and dusty summer afternoons, sibling fights, next-door friends and oh so many scraped knees and elbows. A gang of kids living in a century old school campus could not have had more fun than we did. We played in the sun and made paper boats when it rained. Winters meant eating bel fruit plucked and roasted to smoky perfection in burning leaves… Racing with a vengeance through our colony of houses till forcibly taken back to our homes when darkness fell. The day we saw a long dead snake, and then a live one… or when my brother crashed through the floor of a derelict bus rotting away to glory in our back yards. No, we were not supposed to play on that bus, but we always did anyway. The broken shards of its windscreen made an excellent treasure trove for thieves and robbers, and can you name when was the last time you sat in the driver’s seat of a bus?

And there were the dogs, ours and our neighbors. Most of them so annoyingly friendly that I was shocked when one day a dog bit me in the calf. I am yet to get over my inherent trust of dogs. In my eyes, a dog can never be wrong….Ever.

Notice that pattern on the table, the circles intersecting each other randomly. That had been me practicing my geometry skills. It used to be a big deal, having an all new geometry box, a shiny orange Camlin one…not one with hand me down compasses and dividers placed in a plastic box. It was expensive, used to cost Rs 32. I would open mine and see the contents several times during the day at school to ensure that everything was safe and sound.

I studied at this very table when I was studying for the dreaded board exams and the competitive exams after that. Wrote my first serious letter to a girl, updated my first diary, painted supersize Disney characters, and organized my school satchel for classes the next day. Made neatly tabulated Time Tables with a different color and motif for each day of the week. A smiling sun for Sunday, and two fried eggs in a frying pan for Friday. Go figure….

The empty corner on the left was reserved for my terracotta Ganesha, the one I inherited from my brother when he passed on this table to me, like so many other things. I took that Ganesha to college with me… where we spent four happy years frolicking in a beautiful Himalayan valley… and that is where he decided to stay back at a junior’s study table. I think he never really liked the weather at Lucknow… Kumaun suited him just fine.

Making memories is so easy… it is the forgetting that wrenches your heart.

We have dismantled this house, the furniture and fixings taken away… all that remains are cobwebs and memories, tangled, broken and waiting to be swept aside by the new occupants of the house as they start anew.
Am sure this table will do fine, being the solid and steady character it has always been. It was stoic when 3 of my school friends sat on it, or when I rested my head on the cool wood in the evenings and let the tears flow for my dead mother.
Tomorrow morning, this table will be taken away. It will find a new corner in a new house, and someone else will spend his summer afternoons painting pictures at this desk while waiting to grow up.

Am sure we will move on too…

To new cities and towns, searching for new beginnings and places to put down our roots again. Finding new corners to rest and trees to tell stories under. Gathering our lot close to us and building a wealth of memories and laughter and tears all over again.
It may take time, but I can feel it in my bones, it will be done.

Farewell my old house… Goodbye Lucknow….

For Shivani…

I met her on the first day at my new job. We were forced to acknowledge each other when we found ourselves bumping into each other for the fourth time during the day at the coffee machine. “I am Shivani, you seem to be new around here…” and just with that, I found a friend. We never really worked together, we were just workers in the same company working on the same floor. Over the last one year, we got to know each other. She read my blogs and commented on some posts… and loved the one I wrote about my father. “It reminds me of my own father” she said. She was from Chandigarh, her family half a sub-continent away. She went home last week, and had been smiling about it for the last 2 weeks. “Me and my dad are very close… once the dinner is done and the dishes put away, we go on long drives. Me and my dad, I just cannot wait to get back home”

We all got to eat the sweets she brought from home. We had planned to visit each other outside of work, swap books, and introduce her to my wife. And I was supposed to bring her a slice of my chocolate cake again.

“Sweets at my desk” said her email yesterday. We all went down for a bite and learnt it was her 28th birthday. We wished her many happy returns of the day and told her that she should not be in office and that it was time to leave and party !

Leave she did…. Shivani passed away last night.. A person so fondly known that when she went on leave the entire floor at work noticed her absence, breathed her last with none of us by her side.

Rest in peace Shivani, I wish we made that meeting outside of work happen at least once. And I wish I could have taken you to the Art of Living sessions with me… as we kept planning to.

Nice people have a habit of leaving sooner than expected… leaving those around feeling cheated and helpless.

Of all the dreams dreamt, and wishes hoped for, some come to horribly abrupt endings. Among all the colors life strews across the world, some grey patches remain unpainted.

I will miss the forwards, and the banter at the coffee machine. And I will miss eating the sweets. And I will miss knowing that there is a friend sitting in a cubicle at the far end of the hall the next time I spend a late evening at work.

With all my heart, you will be missed Shivani…

The Date

They walked into the restaurant as the lazy afternoon trudged by. All the tables were empty, with no signs of life except for a silent TV screen tuned to a sports channel. The tables were expectantly laid out, waiting for a nameless family to walk in later in the day.. or perhaps a lonely soul searching for a solitary meal. They chose a table in the corner, shielded from view by an ornate vase filled with plastic flowers. Slats of sunlight streamed into the restaurant, illuminating dust particles tracing random paths through the air, the curtains iridescent a glowing red. In a silent and shaded room, they spoke in smiling whispers.

They placed their order quickly, with barely a glance at the menu. The old waiter smiled at their haste, watching them quickly go through the motions that made their presence at the restaurant acceptable.  The food was laid out… and ignored…Cell phones silenced ..their screens flashing with exasperated urgency. They were glad that the lunch hour rush had eluded this place, and glad that they could sneak away in the middle of an unforgiving day. Their families did not know that they were here. Not the parents, or the friends, or the pseudo family at their work place. It happened at the spur of the moment. He called her at work in the morning, and asked her out for a lunch. She had meetings at work, and had to buy some grocery for dinner. She thought, “Come on, its just lunch”. She said yes. They arrived at the restaurant separately, and met like the days in the past. She was looking lovely, and he was reminded of long evening walks when they were students in college. When all a date meant was a cup of tea or a glass of sugarcane juice. For her, it was nice to get away from a life lived everyday, with no in-laws or friends or the attached hassles of being married.

The hour went by quickly. He paid the bill and told her that it had been a great lunch. And perhaps, they should do it again. She smiled, a bit amused at his enthusiasm. And said, yes, we should do it again. And as they walked out of the restaurant, he held her hand. A bit conscious of the knowing glances and smiles of the restaurant staff, and wondering why it took them four years of being married to go on a lunch date again.

We did it together….

Sometimes life pauses a while to smile at you before rushing headlong into a flurry of festivals, lunches, dinners, conference calls, more festivals, more food, colors, weddings and crowded market streets.

I have never talked much about my father much out here… but today I will.

You see, my father does not like exercising… Actually detests is more like it. And his best rebuttal against a healthy life is to cook a decadent chicken curry preceded by mugs of calorie laden beer. And for the record I protest as best as I can, but the beer does make my arguments go a bit slow, and the chicken usually makes me sleep a bit longer the next day and miss my all-planned-for morning jog. But at least, I talk about exercise, and dream about it and plan for it… which is more than what my father has done for the last decade.

 

I wanted him to undergo a basic six day meditation course.. something that I had done a long time back in college out of compulsion. The kind where they tell you that you don’t know how to do stuff and need to start living your life all over again… My father good naturedly refused and told my wife that her husband is an idiot and she good naturedly agreed. I upped the rhetoric a bit and he was unmoved, and then I really closed the argument that even I will go with him to give him company if he wanted. And he said ‘ok’….

 

So there I was, shaved and bathed at 6 AM in the morning, suitably attired in track pants and white T shirt ,with a rather grumpy dad at my side standing at the meditation venue. It did not help that the venue was the banquet hall of a restaurant that we otherwise associated with some rather nice food and drinks and good times.I promptly chose a position in the hall that was right behind my dad, in no mood to endure the disapproving, grudging sidelong glances I anticipated being subjected to for the entire six days of the course.

 We had an interesting group of people at hand who were there for the course. Middle aged and not so aged, retired and not so retired…. Men and women.Day one started off with some light exercises – on the spot jogging & flapping your hands like a bird.I couldn’t see him, but could feel my father seething at the stupidity of it all..Then came more exercises … and yeah a few rules. No caffeine, no meat, no alcohol for the next one week!  

I was sure my dad would be the one who would grumble, which he did. Be the one who would complain of a sore body and a head ache, which he did. And would be the one behind my back for opting out of the course….which he did not. 

The second day of the course found me, yet again, shaved and bathed at 6 AM at the venue with my father at my side. I wanted to run away…. and to my supreme frustration found my dad smiling. Shaking hands with the rest of the chummy old men in the session, he seemed completely at home. Standing behind him in the session the day I observed him trying his best to ensure that he was the not the slow coach in the gang when we jogged. I saw him wriggle his sixty year old body and make sure that his spine was erect when he assumed the positions for the various activities… and at the end of the session, he walked up to the instructor and asked him questions

The rest of the day found me thinking hard about the last time that my father & I did something together. Just the two of us, no one else. No wives, or siblings or dogs in the picture (with no offence to the dogs). My memories took me back to summer vacations where the both of us had played through summer afternoons on home made Ludo boards, or snakes and ladders or chess… with the rest of the family blissfully asleep. Or when we cooked together during those hard hard years after my mother passed away….

 But all this happened more than a decade back…. For all the last ten years, we had managed to live through our days without doing a single new thing together. It was a realization that struck me dumb for a while…

I went for the remaining four days of the course with my father… with the feeling of being part of something very special. The final day was a pot luck brunch – We brought a father-son combo dish for the group and shared a collective pride when we saw our dishes being polished up by the rest of the group…

The meditation course is great, I have done it before and I enjoyed it again. But what made it special for me this time was that I shared it with my father. My heart went out to him as I saw him trying to do the stretches and the pulls… and I nearly teared up when I saw him dressed and ready each morning waiting for me to get the car.   

In all the years of doing things for my father, I had forgotten the joy doing things with him. In all the years of telling him that he did not understand the need to start exercising, I had forgotten that playing games is no fun when you do it alone.

 The way I see it, life might go back to the way it was…. But I am glad that my father & I spent those six days in a room full of people and dusty carpets, grumbling together about the strain of all the breathing exercises…. We might have been cribbing, but at least we were doing it together.

Life is beautiful…

 

Clouds swirl around sky scrapers outside my window. A gray sky and a teary eyed window pane is not exactly an embodiment of happiness.

 

A R Rehman playing in the background, dim lighting all over the place… and here I am

typing away on a laptop placed on a dining table serving as my working station…. At peace with myself, and happy without reason.

 

Its been a month since I came to Chicago. A city I am yet to embrace and make my own, however, the city in its own way has touched me, not once but several times.

 

Perhaps, I did overlook the people living their lives amidst the sky scrapers, or the lovers

embracing in the numerous mechanically manicured lawns. Perhaps, I did chose to ignore the joy in a beautifully crafted concert in a park shaded by the tallest buildings I have ever seen. Perhaps I did.

 

Yet, somehow, I like the anonymity this city affords me. Chicago is a riot of colors. I am

not the only brown, or yellow or black or white guy in the neighborhood. No one notices me, as Indians are the largest ethnic group in town. I don’t have to explain my origins, which apart from taking away some pretty interesting ice-breakers, is also a relief !

 

On a rainy day like today, I can safely say, that life is beautiful. Is there more to life than knowing that there is a family you can count on, a wife who knows you like no one else can, a career you can chose to change, and a future filled only with hope.

 

It has taken a while to get here, it surely has. From being a teenager without a mother

telling him that its ok to be imperfect, to being a guy who chooses to see the positive side

of things… always. I have come a long way.

 

This is a selfish post. As selfish as ponderings in blogosphere can ever be !

 

At times, you want to kneel down and thank someone for whatever you have. And hold the hands and thank everyone who chose to share a part of their lives in order to straighten up your screwed up adolescent world. And just try and be whatever you need to be, to those who make your home coming worthwhile, when you return after being away for months.

 

Its a blessed life indeed. To know that you are loved, and are capable of loving back. To

have created memories that you know are not cherished just by you. And to realize, that things seem to have taken on a habit on only becoming better as you grow older.

 

Life is perhaps, a reflection of whom you are surrounded with. From the loyal friendships in college to the trust and security of being married… my life has been given wings by those around me. And if you are lucky enough to know the people I know and share my life with, you would also agree,.. that my life is indeed, beautiful…