The Rookery

I am Michael J. Fox and currently starring in the movie ‘Back to the future.’ At least, staying at the Rookery has transported me back 252 years to 1764. It was the time of the British rule across many struggling nations.

In America, the Cherokee Indians were still fighting their battles against the ruthless colonists. The Sugar Act was passed by the British that almost doubled the duties on imported sugar among other items.

In Ireland, the Vikings and Normans had had their share and it was now the British rule. By the mid 70’s, the English Protestants had take over 95% of the Irish land. Gaelic language was banned, trade forbidden, and Catholic Church outlawed.

In India, the British East India Company was ruling large areas of India with its own private armies. The Company rose to account for half of the world’s trade in cotton, silk, indigo, and opium.

While all this was happening elsewhere, some were architecting the Rookery and this very room I’m currently staying in. With old wooden stairs covered in a thick cream carpet, beautiful paintings all around, and chandeliers dangling in the library, I have been transported back to the British empire. 

152 arm pits

The 2016 Yoga expo at the LA convention center was a great example of a well balanced supply & chain. Try fitting at least 76 yoga mats into a 1000 sq. ft. room. I am referring to 152 arm pits – bonding at its very best!

They asked us to bring our yoga mats but I should have prepared more. Thanks to my friend Maria who handed me the black suede lens cleaner by Mark Jacobs, a perfect lining to block away reality. Complete silence. Total darkness. The very first sound of gong filled up the room like a train approaching, showing off the Doppler effect. The mind left the mundane thoughts and got busy focusing on different frequencies, the entrance, and exit points for each gong.

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As soon as the surrounding sounds became the new default, I was able to focus on my vision. it was darkness everywhere. With eyes closed shut, my inner eyes were completely open staring into the darkness. While I was trying to concentrate at my third eye, my eyelids felt heavy and gave into gravity. I closed the eyelids within the eyelids, however there was another set of eyes that gazed into the unknown. Every set I closed, I melted a bit more, I slipped a bit more. All of a sudden, it felt like the movie Inception, entering into layers of extraction, each layer deeper and each layer slower.

Eventually, the teacher got tired, all healing sounds came to an end, and human chattering replaced the train.

the fear factor

I wanted to do a quick survey and asked a few of my friends about their fears. I mostly got snakes, caves, and wives. Some are even claustrophobic but I mostly got snakes, caves, and wives.

shout

It certainly got me thinking about my own. So I thought and surrendered. Mine is a 30 second window somewhere between 10:00am and 10:30am every week day. Without fail and without losing any effect, it attacks me religiously. It’s the time of day when I have to take a tablespoon of horrifying cod liver oil. The oil seems so innocent and yet is the devil himself.

In the 15 minutes preceding the event, I have to become Obama, a perfect orator, and inspire myself to balance out the Omega6-Omega3 ratio. I count down from 5, inhale deeply, block out my nose using my left hand, chug that disgusting thing, and chase it with a shot of guacamole.

And the clock starts ticking… 23:59:59!

ultimate cardio

10 mins elliptical, 10 mins swimming, 10 mins sauna. Just 10 mins at a time to conquer what I must conquer.

I will burn the restless calories and increase my heart rate. I must arrive at my fat burning zone; fat – something that body stores for desperate times, times that never make it in time, an illusion perhaps.

With every stroke, I will speed up and let the water chase me. Under the water, I will detoxify so when I pull out, I am lighter.

I will inhale the clever signs and I will exhale the helpless desires. I will let each pore open the door. I will let each breath let go a little more.

rooh

A late night and a long drive. After reading 68 high intensity pages and a lot of highlighting, I wanted to deposit my mind and just smile. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to open the Saavn app and let the weekly top 15 lead the mood.

After many songs, there was one that still has me in awe. I’m trying hard but I can’t get it out of my head. I’m not sure if this is the correct era for Amitabh Bhattacharya. Someone messed up and he is now a century late to his existence. Clearly, his song is from a 100 years ago and it takes me back to the golden ‘black & white’ days.

Ah, those days – doesn’t the binary description seem synchronous with how older times were simpler – just black and white? There were less than 4 channels on the television, just one kind of yogurt, and the only way to communicate was to be face to face – no text, no Facebook, no whatsapp, no messenger, no Instagram, no LinkedIn, no Skype, no FaceTime, no email, and no phone – if you wanted to say hi, you rode a bicycle. Options were manageable if any. You had to excel at your job and there were no recruiters at your service. You had 2 pairs of shoes, and one shade of lipstick. Oh, and pillows of that era served just one purpose, and it was to support the neck.

Emotions were simple, and expressions were honest. Men were still from Mars and women from Venus – yes! …but they came together to start a life on Earth. There was a will to complement each other, a desire to disappear in another. The eyes did all the texting and dreams were exchanged in just a glimpse. A man’s smile and a woman’s blush – that was the only agenda and an entire date – no chocolate mousse, no distractions, and no fiddling with the keys. If she blushed, and lowered her eyes, it was a yes.

Ah, those days!

Tu rooh hai toh main kaaya banu, taa-umr main tera saaya banu,

Keh de toh ban jaaun bairaag main, keh de toh mein teri maaya banu,

Tu saaz hai, mein ragini, tu raat hai, mein chaandni…

I wish to meet AB and ask him if he knows anyone who feels love with this intensity, with such purity. I want to ask him if he’s delusional. Don’t take me wrong – I’m not making fun of him. I’m just jealous of anyone who is capable of having a feeling of that strength, one that is completely selfless and unconditional. I’m just wondering who became his inspiration, or was this just an aspiration? I’m just troubled – is there anyone who desires to evaporate to just be a part of someone – a devotion of a sort, a complete surrender?

Sorry to bring you back but in this era, we ladies have a bronzer, highlighter, primer, and 36 brushes to go for a ‘natural’ look. We avoid the sun, get a tan, and spend hours in front of the mirror artificially creating a sun-kissed face. Our era… era of a 100 years later… what have we done!

3 year olds

I hope I can shift even a step closer to how the mind of a 3 year old works.

Spending a few days with little children brought me a smile. Watching a child is like watching a movie that makes you travel back to the prehistoric age – an age of no triple meanings, no beating about the bush, and no complications. Okay, with a few exceptions of how to hunt, cook a meal, or get from A to B!😉

I watched my little niece and my little nephew cry when they wanted milk. Both of them giggled when I tickled them, and got angry when mommy went away. And it took them seconds to move from any one state to the other, there were no grudges carried over. It was as simple as that – the life of a minimalist, the life of a simpleton.

The troubles of the world, inner or outer, didn’t worry them. The religions, political inclinations, and borders didn’t keep them awake at night or yelling with their throats. Minimal requirements with maximum output.

median, average, or standard deviation

I smile when I see Tom & Jerry but can’t hide away my frown when someone denies me dark chocolate & raspberry truffle; I cry once a month but my own sense of humor usually cracks me up; I fear the unknown and at the same time, the unknown gets me excited; In one moment, I’m ready to take Karma into my own hands, and the very next moment, I see the advantage of the original problem. We each go through a multitude of moods & states of mind but we always find our way back to normalcy, back to the roots – a perfect analogy would be traveling to different countries and coming back home each time – lying down on your bed, driving your own car, and cleaning your own filth. The roots are what define us with little distractions every now & then.

Although, I do wonder what my roots are… what exactly defines me. Is it what I think of myself or is it dependent on others’ perceptions? If I survey 16 people about me, should I take a median, average, or perhaps a standard deviation?

Have you observed that every mirror in the world is different? Some make you look tiny, and some act like a camera – adding 10 pounds each time you look! There are 4 restrooms at my work and my confidence level could shift to 4 varying levels in a single day. Every mirror is different but what remains fixed is my weight, those stubborn inches, and how my jeans fit. Even the specific location for the camera pre-determines the result of a selfie – it’s after all, an exact science!

In the same manner, what others think of you is sometimes a reflection, a result of their roots. The water is colorless but the depth of the ocean, the purity level, and the ocean bed gives it its multiple shades of blue.

By the way, from all the bathrooms, my favorite is the one upstairs – it’s got dim yellow lighting… hides away everything – freckles, wrinkled clothes, extra tires, everything! •wink•

the ugly, the ugly, the ugly

badaun3

I have a confession. I confess that every time there is a story on yet another rape in India, I hide. I hide because it gives me chills. I hide because it brings me shame. I hide because it takes me to a place of immense anger, grinding teeth, and dry tears. It makes me go to a place where I want to pick up the same metal rod and stick it incessantly into each of those 6 criminals. Sitting thousands of miles away, I feel the angst of every individual who is protesting against this inhumane crime. We know about the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot by ISIS, about the undeletable holocaust in Germany, and the slaves of Dubai. These rapes, the cruel intentions, and the unfathomable activities are in no measure, any less.

Coming from a Quality background and with a mind that is trained to do a 5 WHY analysis, I have been searching for a root cause.

Is it the mentality that men are far more superior than women? If it is, then I don’t understand why a lot of goddesses are put up so high on a pedestal and worshipped! We are the country of many goddesses – Durga for power, Sarasvati for education, and Laxmi for prosperity but when you zoom in, we are the same country where many women are forced to get an abortion immediately after the ultrasound. The woman is impregnated again and again and yet again until a boy is born. Watch the movie ‘Bol’ and you will shake for a few hours.

May be what you see is what you become? On a conscious level, and even on a sub-conscious level, we learn from our surroundings and our surroundings start with our home. Home, where a little boy sees his father coming home drunk and beating up his mom. Home, where mother-in-laws join forces against a member of their own species. Home, where a large sum of dowry has to be delivered to marry off a girl. Sure, the law enforcement has prevented people from using the official word ‘dowry’ but the practice is very much active.

Is it perhaps the taboo? A boy & a girl can never be friends so keep them segregated, unacquainted, and un-united? Let the minds be curious and let the lust maximize?

Is it the education or lack thereof, because I just read that AP Singh, a well-educated lawyer involved in the case made a comment about setting his daughter on fire if she were to be engaged in pre-marital activities? This raises 2 questions in my mind – why wouldn’t the sons / brothers engaged in pre-marital activities be also set on fire? And, what is then the impact of education? With an outrage that followed the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case, a slight shift in the education system should be a public demand – classes on self-defense, classes on domestic violence, classes on women rights.

We carry the burden of being a part of a society where the practice of Sati was common, expected, and justified. We have traveled so far and we have a long journey ahead of us. I have heard the complaints, I have read the rants, and I have seen the outrage. It’s now time to become part of the same society to clean it up.

So what can we do? Not the ‘we’ that means the Indian government, Modi administration, and the Judiciary system; ‘We’ that consists of you & I. Here are some of my thoughts:

SELF-DEFENSE

Women should spend some time and take self-defense classes to learn striking & combat techniques that will help in self-protection. There are workshops available for the ‘DARE’ program – Defense Against Rape & Eve teasers. Free options are also widely available – just go to YouTube and type ‘self-defense for rape’ for free online videos.

http://www.kravmagaindia.in/

http://indianwomandefense.tripod.com/

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=self+defense+for+rape

PROTECTION

Don’t just leave the house in a hurry – think and think it all through. Carry a few self-protection items in your purse – pepper spray, Swiss knife, or perhaps a screwdriver.

http://www.chilliguard.com

http://www.healthkart.com

http://www.peppersprayindia.com/

STAY IN & STAY COVERED

It is unfair to ask women to stay in at night and sacrifice a bit of their freedom but unfortunately, at this time it would be a smart move. Stay in & stay safe. We have heard shorts are revealing, skirts are inviting, and jeans are basically just asking for it. Forgive me for I have no combinations of words for this particular one!

MORE MEN

Encourage your sons, brothers, and friends to be braver than the bravest they’ve ever been. We need more men on our side – men who respect women, men with integrity, and the non-psycho’s. We need the Indian Army to safeguard our borders, but we also need a massive army to safeguard women within the borders.

PUBLIC VOICES

Only a small percentage of my Facebook friends will read this blog. After an initial awe, be it awesome or awful, everyone would move on to the next article, to their next selfie. What we need is an influential voice. If you are popular in your network, use it to an advantage, for the superior good. I applaud Kalki Koechlin who was one of the first ones to voice a strong opinion on the subject. Javed Akhtar, Jaya Bachhan, and several others are now thankfully raising havoc as well. We need that!

The change is slow but the change is happening. It is happening with BBC’s ‘India’s Daughter,’ with an angry Kirron Kher, and with you reading this blog.

Not all is bad. There is also good in the mix. I read this article and it brought a smile on my face: There is a small village in Rajasthan where they plant 111 trees every time a girl is born.

http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-agriculture/village-india-plants-111-trees-every-time-baby-girl-born.html

For me, I don’t want to stop here. I am going to India and preparing to donate pepper sprays to 100 women. I will push my young nieces to get enrolled in the Krav Maga classes. I will educate my nephews on how to be real men. And I will not be shy in writing my opinion.

Photo courtesy: The Indian Express

don’t hate, meditate

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I truly wish that somehow & magically, this picture travels far & reaches at least a few people who are more focused on destruction than creation! I’m just a girl hoping for a more peaceful world. We are all one and nothing without the other so let’s stop hating. Let’s live in a world with plenty of food, water, trees, and oil for everyone. We no longer have Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or Martin Luther King. It has to be you & it has to be me. We don’t have to go on a strike or take weapons into our own hands – if we can just spread smiles, laughter, equanimity, and the overall concept of ‘all being one and nothing without the other,’ that’d be a great start, don’t you think?

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