Tag Archives: innocence

Day after day after day…

It’s 7:41 p.m. PST.
An entire day gone by in a whirlwind of activity.
Meetings, phone calls, e-mails, conversations around the office, IMs.
Non-stop exchange of information.
Reactions. Elation. Emotions.

The need for a pause button deepens.
No reprieve from the craziness.
As I splash some water on my face
I close my eyes and let my mind slip away.

The hummingbird reappears.
And the chuckle of my friends’ kids.

I scrub the accumulating dead skin.
Brushing off the tiredness.
The demands. The deadlines. The pressure.
Disappearing like the micro soy granules
Into the sinuses of the sink.

I look at myself.
A streak of red

Brightening the tired kohl eyes.
A quiver of a smile.

Today is over.
Tomorrow is another day.

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The “religion” of humanity

Note: Fair warning that this post might offend some people. You may find yourself outraged, but please know, I am not attacking your belief system, simply stating my own. I would appreciate if you’d extend the same courtesy to me when commenting.

Watching Religulous last night just made me realize how we give a lot of significance to things we know nothing about.

India, one of the most secular countries in the nation, is routinely shaken by communal violence. Headlines that rip your heart: “Thirty-eight people burnt alive, 12 among them were children.”

“Property worth lakhs of rupees gutted down to ashes.”

“Shops looted and vehicles torched.”

Vikram Patel, Swastik Mehta, Joy Lobo, Heeralal Shah, Brian Phillips, Iqbal Mehmood, Aslam Khan – casualties of a war they didn’t start.

Their names bearing no significance – becoming only statistics splashed in newspapers people eat paapri-chaat on.

And it’s no different anywhere else in the world – hundreds of thousands dead in the name of religion. Politicians and religious leaders use rhetoric. They instigate mass hysteria. And caught between this war of words, the common man suffers.

I’ve always wondered how we end up determining our religion. Who tells us whether we are Hindus or Muslims? Christians or Jews? Scientologists or atheists? Is it the blood running through our veins? Is it a chemical reaction in our brains? Is it somehow something we just “know” when we enter this world?

No.

It’s people.

Starting with our parents. Reinforced by our social circle. Validated by our priests.

Let’s consider a hypothetical situation: if a child is born to a woman who practiced Islam and she dies in childbirth; no one knows how to ID her; a Christian couple adopt him, baptize him, take him to Church every Sunday; but he is raised by their devout Hindu maid who reads passages from the Gita to him all the time.

What is this child’s religion?

Is he Muslim by accident of birth? Is he Hindu because he bowed to all the gods and chanted the Gayatri mantra day in and day out? Is he Christian because that’s the religion his parents identify with?

Isn’t religion just an organized social club where membership is determined by birth? You meet people with the same “beliefs,” perform the same rituals, and bow to the same deity (or different “preferred” ones if you have an array of 300-million to choose from)?

People don’t understand most of the stuff they do in the name of religion but do it anyway because they “don’t want to make Him angry” or because “you just don’t question these things!”

I call this worshipping fear.

One would think that with all our technological advances and better understanding of the cosmos, we, as Earthlings, would acknowledge that religion was “invented” to build community, to give people something to affiliate themselves with. To try and explain the unexplainable.

In today’s world where we know how to reprogram skin cells into stem cells, when we’re inventing ways to turn water into fuel, when we’re  finding evidence of water and carbon dioxide on a planet outside our solar system, to still hang on to stories our ancestors made up to control societies …?

It just doesn’t feel right.

I vividly remember Bombay burning as an aftermath of the Babri Masjid debacle and witnessed gory scenes of communal unrest in Gujarat that followed a decade later. Countless children were orphaned, millions of national wealth destroyed, innumerable lives cut short unwontedly; and yet we fight over constructing a temple, a church, or a masjid.

Is the construction of any of these buildings worth a public massacre? Can these brick and mortar structures be rightfully called holy? Isn’t this just human slaughter in the face of religious superiority? And who is to say which section’s God is the all-powerful one?

The way I see it, no one wins.

Religion only makes us lose touch with humanity. With what really matters. The symbols, the edifices, the nomenclatures – they’re just things we, the people, created.

When a child wails, do you hear Ram, or Allah, or Jesus?

No. You just hear a human being crying for comfort.

All we need is compassion. Empathy for each other. Peace within ourselves.

And for that we need to look inward.

Think about it before passing judgment.


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To let: a healthy womb

Two recent cases on surrogate adoptions have had me thinking the last couple of days.

I’ve learned from the experiences of two very close friends that motherhood is almost like a rebirth for a woman.

It’s more than just a physical rollercoaster ride – it’s an emotional voyage that springs new life.

For the better part of a year, a woman nurtures a new being within her womb – thinking about, speaking to, and bonding with this unseen fusion of sperm and egg … her child. Her flesh and blood. Her own creation.

For nine months, she waits in anticipation for that one moment when she will be able to see her baby, feel the infant’s breath, touch those little fingers – make that connection come alive in a very real sense. That one precious moment that surpasses everything else she has experienced thus far.

And then she has to give it away. To immediately render all that she’s experienced for three-quarters of a year, a memory. To give “her” child to someone else.

Of course, it’s an arrangement she entered knowing full well the implications of the transaction. But did she really know? For a first-time mom, could she have anticipated the emotions she would go through? Could she have guessed what it would really mean to separate herself from her newborn?

I have no maternal inclinations except for the general fact that I like kids — the kind who go back to their parents after two hours of play time. Despite that objective stance, I cannot entertain the thought of giving away “my” child to somebody else.

Difficult doesn’t even begin to describe the emotional toll something like this would take.

Yet some people would rather take this route than consider adoption. As much as it commodifies children.

Most people deep down would rather pass on their genes than adopt as they simply don’t know the background of children they adopt. Plus there are so many tests you have to go through, to prove you are a decent parent, it is enough to put anyone off adoption or fostering. Going for surrogacy suddenly appears appealing in comparison…..

Naomi Canton, Expat on the Edge

To me, it just seems a lot to ask for — just for the sake of passing down your genes. Or for the sake of “convenience.”

Whether she does it for money or as a gesture of love for a relative or friend, I don’t think any woman can be ever thanked adequately for first nurturing a life and then disowning it.

Thoughts?

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True love

Love to some is like a cloud

To some as strong as steel

For some a way of living

For some a way to feel

Some say love is holding on

And some say let it go

While some say love is everything

Some say they don’t know…

Love — the one emotion that all of us experience at some point in our lives. An emotion which defies definition. An overwhelming all-encompassing joy that comes saddled with its share of sadness.

I remember having countless crushes while in school. Our neighbour’s son, my best friend’s brother, a cousin’s friend, our judo teacher … I fancied them for the colour of their eyes, their swagger, or just the way they combed their hair. Harmless “puppy loves” as ephemeral as soap bubbles.

I’d always heard that you won’t even know what hit you when you find the love of your life — the one person you want to spend time with day after day after day. And it was true.

It came at a time when I was mature enough to take on the responsibilities of a relationship which demands a lot of give and not so much of take. Love was the edifice I built on the foundation of friendship. It took time to blossom. It took a lot of understanding, loads of communication, and plenty of patience to become what it is today. 

Most importantly, love to us meant a meeting of minds. Still does.

It was notches above infatuations and what my mom likes to call “the pleasures of the flesh.”

Our parents’ generation was fed lavishly with ideals. Theirs was an era of constraints, restraints, respect, admiration, and oodles of romance. An age where the distance between the sexes somehow managed to help preserve the sanctity of an amorous relationship.

Our generation, with its openness and fading lines of proximity, jumped on to the bandwagon of love with a little more haste and defiance of “traditions.”

The next generation, I fear, is going further downhill — not quite able to distinguish between physical attraction and mental compatibility. Love seems synonymous with both. Exclusively, even.

I am amazed when I hear stories of school kids bragging about the number of physical relationships they have had. I am horrified to learn that girls barely seventeen have already been in and out of five to six “hook ups.” What about the emotional baggage these kids will carry with them?

The mindset of our “always-plugged-in” generation is all too evident in their tweets and Facebook status updates — publicly handling their personal life.

I see more and more focus on physical beauty, less and less regard for intellect. Closeness gets more importance than intimacy. There is more of passion and less of emotion. More of frivolous comradeship, less of true companionship. There is more acquiring and less sharing.

More of me, less of us.

Maybe I’m old school, but to me it seems like the essence of relationships has been forgotten.

There’s much more to being someone’s beau than gifting them red roses and Hallmark cards. What about gifting our time, our company, our support, our friendship…? What about setting priorities where our loved one comes first?

What about giving ourselves, and the ones we love, time and space to build a strong foundation? What about working towards meaningful and lasting friendships?

What about honouring our commitments? What about channeling our energies and emotions towards building lifelong bonds rather than wasting them on seasonal relationships?

Love is so much more than a fleeting song and a glass of wine. It doesn’t always lie on satin sheets. It isn’t found in diamonds and perfumes and flowers.

It’s about respect, companionship, understanding, appreciation. It’s about being yourself and loving the other person for who they are. It’s about making it through thick and thin.

Relationships take work. Love makes it easy.

I believe that true love happens once in a lifetime.

Don’t let frivolous flings tire you out so much that when true love comes your way you aren’t able to receive it with open arms.

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Make your last thought a pleasant one

What is the last thing you think about before you embrace sleep?

I usually review my day or make plans for the next one. If there’s something nagging my mind, I try to see it objectively, rationally.

This is the time when my mind wanders wantonly. Without structure. Without boundaries.

I float back and forth in the past and present with a part of my brain looking through a keyhole into the future.

Last night, as I was tossing and turning after a rather aggravating day, I decided to focus on one thing: the one positive highlight that made me feel good inside. That introduced joy to my heart. That made me smile.

It was a tiny green hummingbird outside my office window. It flitted above the flower-less bushes just long enough to leave me mesmerized.  Even if for a couple of precious seconds.

Wound up in all the commotion of the day, I hadn’t even given that short-lived experience a second thought. Until that time in bed.

I recaptured that moment in time. Rewound it and saw it in slow motion. Lived it again.

I felt peace sweep over me.

Content, I drifted off.

This morning I decided I would make it a nightly exercise. When reviewing the day in bed, I’d think of the one thing, as trivial as it might be, that gave me a moment of happiness. A sight, a smell, a taste, a gesture …

Small things sometimes light up the gloomiest of days. Things we most often fail to notice. Things that register, but not quite.

It is in the simplicity of everyday moments that life’s true beauty is revealed.

I’ll leave you with a poem I wrote many years ago about the essence of life:

A cuckoo on a mango tree;

A spider’s web; a buzzing bee;

A blooming bud on a thorny stem;

Dewdrops sparkling like little gems;

The sun rising in the eastern sky,

Flocks of birds soaring high;

The full moon spreading its radiant glow,

Stars that shine all night through;

The neighing of a grazing horse;

Walls covered by a carpet of moss;

An ant carrying a grain of rice,

Ever heard the talks of mice?

Butterflies romancing with the flowers;

Buffaloes chewing the cud for hours;

A kitten’s purr; a sparrow’s chirp;

Snails crawling round a herb;

A rabbit twitching its pink nose;

Water in the river that incessantly flows;

Wind blowing the pollen grains;

The smell of the earth when it rains;

A puppy lapping milk from a bowl;

Ever noticed the burrow of a mole?


Life is work and work is life,

Man always walks on the road of strife,

But – pause a moment and look around –

A treasure of beauty you will have found;

And you’ll cherish these moments for a long time to come,

These gifts of nature can never be summed.

The burden of work is overwhelmingly gripping,

But, these are the things that make life worth living!

© Mansi Bhatia.

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You are not your job

I watched The Fight Club again after several years and it was interesting that different aspects of the movie resonated with me this time than when I had first seen it. Probably because of where I am in my life right now vis-a-vis a decade ago.

There are a lot of gems in this well-scripted movie, but what stayed with me most was this piece of monologue from Brad Pitt:

You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your f*&%ing khakis.

Aren’t these, though, the things we identify our “selves” with the most? The brands, the paycheck, the number of rooms in a house, the front lawn, the backyard, the mortgage, the rent … but if these things don’t really matter then what does?

We judge people immediately by their titanium watches, their diamond earrings, their leather jackets. We nod our heads as they describe their professions. We “relate” with them when they talk about taxes, phone bills, and the rising cost of every consumable commodity. But do we ever look through to see the person they are?

Do we even look inward that way?

We let material things define us. Armani, Bebe, Gucci, Mercedes.

We let our jobs take over our lives.

We have no time for R&R and introspection because we’re so caught up in the “bling” of life.

We don’t look past the outer shell. We don’t seek answers. We don’t ask questions. We don’t think.

All we do is react.

We’ve let ourselves be shaped by things that don’t matter in the bigger scheme of life.  Some people find their “calling” but a majority don’t even know the answer to “Who are you?” anymore. Not for anyone else, but for oneself.

And perhaps, most of us are ok with that. Perhaps, that’s how society can function “normally.” When folks don’t go out on a limb seeking answers. When people operate like machinery. Like puppets saying the same things in different languages. Pining for the same material comforts. Fighting for the same limited resources. Lusting. Hoarding.

Dying with just the clothes on their backs.

I’ve realized in the last two years that what makes me happiest are the simplest things in life. Things money can’t buy. Things corruption and greed can’t touch. Things like the twinkle in a person’s eyes. A baby’s toothless smile. The smell of the earth when it rains. A croaking frog. A blooming bud. The silence of the hills. The calmness of a lake. A sunset. Writing.

Satisfaction, I have found, comes from within. Peace follows closely behind.

It’s true that I am able to roam the world and enjoy its people and its beauty only because of the paycheck that comes with a 9-5 job. That monthly deposit to my bank account allows me to do the things I really love. But should I let it define who I am and what my life should be? Shouldn’t I let what I love define what I do?

There are things we want, and then there are things we need. Sometimes we confuse between the two.

It’s tough to let go of the lifestyle one has become used to, but it isn’t hard to review and let go of things that truly don’t matter.

This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.

You can choose to continue living it the only way you think you know how. Or you can ask the hard questions of your self and discover a way you never knew. In the process you might just find out who you really are.

Also posted on Writers Rising.

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Gift for your baby girl: a breastfeeding doll

Yesterday, a friend forwarded a Huffington Post slideshow of the seven most inappropriate toys for children.

I was appalled, needless to say, but one that had me going “No way!” at the top of my lungs was this particular product: The Bebé Glotón breastfeeding doll.

Who in their right minds would buy a four-year-old girl a toy that teaches her to breastfeed??????? It’s absolutely atrocious!

And wait till you hear the tagline: “Because you shouldn’t have to wait until you have breasts before you start breastfeeding your baby!”

Really?

And just as soon as you develop those mammary glands, go ahead — have a baby. So what if you’re a teenager? You already know how to breastfeed if nothing else!

Is that what we want to teach our little girls? Have babies, breastfeed them and fulfill your mission on earth!!!??!!

I don’t understand how or why the manufacturers can get away with something like this.

Growing up, I never played with utensils or Barbie dolls — instead I got board games and Lego building blocks, but I saw the gender stereotyping where other girls my age would play a nurse or housewife and the boys would play doctors or engineers.

But this takes it to whole new level of ridiculous!

I don’t know if it’s advertised to be an “educational” toy but even if it is, isn’t four years a bit too young to be focusing on having kids and what your yet-to-be-developed breasts can biologically do? And it assumes that the little girl will grow up and want kids! And then breastfeed them!

What kind of education is that?

According to the comments in this San Francisco Chronicle report, these dolls were a huge success with sales hitting the roof and the supplies going out-of-stock within a month.

I really don’t see how this is appropriate, especially for this target age group. Do you?

Thoughts? Comments? Reactions? Outrage?

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