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Tuesday, 11 December 2018

My Complete Man by Gayathri Srivathsan

Gayathri Srivathsan (who is a cousin of my husband's cousin's son) sent me this write-up about her role model. There's much we can learn from this amazing person, and so, I'm sharing her writing here. 

All of us have come across the question of who is your role model? And the answer to that differs from one age to another. But once you gain maturity about life, your way of looking at life changes and that's when I identified my role model and I am blessed enough to be living with him. 

I once read that a person who can get up in the morning without snoozing his alarm can do anything in life, but I have never achieved it till date. But this man has never had an alarm clock but he has never got up late. 

Every morning 4 o'clock he wakes up with no alarm at the right time, and he has been doing this for years now. He is 92 years old but still is a working person and he has been serving a govt aided school as a correspondent for 50 yrs now. 

Every morning he wakes up with the same enthusiasm, walks to his school, and works there without a penny as salary. In a generation where people complain that work is monotonous, he stands apart to prove that if you're committed to a work, no matter what your age, you can still work hard. He has developed the school from a small thatched hut to a 2-storey concrete building now with help from others. The initiative he has taken is not an easy task at all. And yet, he is a definition for discipline and punctuality and the most independent person I have ever seen. 

Mr. V. Lakshmi Narasimhan
He is a man who taught me what life is. I remember him saying, "Gayathri whatever happens, remember to walk with your head up; right and wrong depends on one's perception and their attitude. Unless you feel guilty about anything you have done, nothing is wrong. Even when you feel guilty, put your head up, and say 'It's alright, I may be wrong this time, but not always.' Never try to be good to anyone and rather just be yourself - it's not necessary that people like you and praise you. If you are happy in your life, nothing or no one else matters. 

This complete man is none other than my grandfather, Mr. V. Lakshmi Narasimhan. I am blessed to have been living with him and now he is all set to inspire his 4th generation with my son. 

Gayathri, her husband and son with Mr. V. Lakshmi Narasimhan
Lots of love and respect to Thatha - my real hero and a role model.

A proud grand-daughter,
C.Gayathri Srivathsan

Friday, 30 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 30: A Humble Thank You

One day in November 2000, I sat inside a small temple near my house, with a mike in front of me, ready to deliver a discourse on the topic, “Spiritual practice for a blissful life”. 

The only problem – there was no audience! Not one person was sitting down, waiting to listen to me. When I turned questioningly to the temple personnel, I was told to just start, and that people who were interested would come and listen. 

An uncanny situation, one I had never encountered before in the 24 years of my life.

In that nerve-wracking moment, when every instinct made me want to run away, I found the strength to mentally surrender to the Guru. Praying that He take me through this weird test He had devised, I started.

I noticed some people turn to look at me and I hung on to their eyes. Slowly, a few of them came forward and stood around me. Some people sat down for a while. Even as I relaxed and got into the flow, some of them got up and walked away abruptly. The audience kept floating throughout the 40 –odd minutes.

Even as one part of my mind directed the tongue to keep talking, another part was trying to make sense of it all. Why was I being given this experience? Had I grown too egoistic from the praise I had got on previous occasions? Was this being done to teach me to be humble and realize that I’m a mere instrument and God is the actual Doer?

Overall, it was a situation that made me truly experience the meaning of the Bhagavad Geeta quote

Which means:

“You have the right to work only but never to its fruits. 
Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.”

In simple words – do what has to be done without having any expectations about the outcome.


Every night of November 2018, I sat in front of my laptop, keying in words, talking to yet another floating audience, this time in the blogosphere. 

Some readers responded regularly and some intermittently either on the blog, or through WhatsApp or in person or by a phone call – to them, I’m very grateful, for taking the time and making the effort to communicate. 

Because I learned my lesson of November 2000 very well; there is nothing more to say.

Every time I sit down to write, I send up a prayer, asking God to guide my words to be of some help to someone in some way. 

Whether I come to know what it means to someone or not; whether it even means something to someone or not, is, therefore, totally irrelevant.

Day after day, I’m realizing that all I can aim for, is to become an instrument worthy enough to be held in the hands of the Doer.

I thank all of you, dear readers, for coming along on this journey. 

NaBloPoMo 2018 is officially over.

I will, of course, continue to blog ...........  as regularly or irregularly as possible.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 29: God protects his bhakta

January 2017. It’s 6.30 am on the day before Vaikuntha Ekadashi. My husband is going to visit the temple at Tiruvahindrapuram near Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu. 

He’s running late - as usual - and still has to pick up relatives who're going along. As I see him off, I watch him hurriedly reverse the SUV out the gate. He miscalculates, and lightly bumps into the neighbour’s car parked behind. I shriek and tell him he’s dented it, even as I quickly sweep my gaze over the neighbour’s house wondering what will happen next.

No one comes out to fight. But I’m not comfortable and suggest we should tell them it happened and apologize, and offer to pay damages. He’s already late and has no time, he says. If they ask, act as if you know nothing about it, he warns me, and zooms off.

A little later, Aunty (elderly mother of the dented car’s owner) interrupts my rangoli routine. No usual chitchat of “Coffee aaytaa?” Cutting straight to the point, she accuses my husband of hitting their car. She saw, but couldn’t come out because she was going to the washroom.

Catch 22. Caught between my mantra of being truthful versus hubby’s instructions, I start to mumble something, then end up agreeing that it does look a little dented. I rush into a promise that he’ll come and talk to them once he gets back.

For the nth time in 17 years, I mentally berate my husband for getting into such entirely avoidable situations. For the nth time in 17 years, I pray that God bless him with punctuality and discipline.

Later in the day, he calls and the first question is about what the neighbours said. Good, I think, at least it’s pricking his conscience, so he’ll be more careful next time. But I don’t want to alarm him in that far-off place, and also don’t relish the thought of being scolded over the phone, so I give some vague answers and don’t breathe a word of my promise to them.

He gets back home late on the night of Vaikuntha Ekadashi. He’s been fasting the whole day, and driven non-stop for almost 8 hours, so I say nothing. Next evening, I narrate what happened and he goes over to the neighbour’s house.

To my utter shock, he comes back full of smiles. It seems Aunty had brought the whole thing to her son’s notice. Instead of agreeing with her, he told her not to bother, for the dent was a tiny one, and could easily be repaired. According to my husband, the icing on the cake was that he also chided her for wanting to trouble someone who was such a devout, pious, godly person!!

I couldn’t help asking God, “Whose side are You really on?”

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 28: When things don't smell right...

In the pharmacy college where I studied, the Girls Hostel did not have a canteen. We managed breakfast and lunch in the college canteen, but dinner was the problem because there was no eatery close to the hostel, which was far from the college. We had the option of going over to the Boys Hostel canteen but somehow, we weren’t comfortable doing that every day. So, four of us friends decided to start cooking together.

I don’t remember the specifics but from my hazy memory, I think I provided the stove, and another friend would bring the kerosene from home about once a month or so. Every Monday, after classes got over, we used to go shopping, buy vegetables and provisions we needed for the week, and hurry back in time to catch the college bus that would drop us to the hostel.

On our first shopping trip, armed with the typical austere mindset of middle-class families of the late 1990s, and a shopping list (in that order), we trooped into the supermarket. Price was the sole criterion that governed the buying decision.

Reaching the oil section, we plunged into a collective dismay. All the cooking oils were so costly! 

But one of us with a sharper eye spied an oil bottle that was almost half the price of the others; immediately we scooped it up, congratulating ourselves on our smartness and good luck.

Back in the hostel, we poured that oil into a vessel and started frying onions for the rudimentary pulav (which was our staple dish). A peculiar smell spread around us – unlike anything we had smelt before. Eternal optimists, or perhaps too hungry and tired to care, we enthusiastically took the first mouthfuls of our first-cooked-by-ourselves-in-the-hostel meal and instantly recoiled at the flavour that assailed us.

But the austere mindset of middle-class families in the 1990s was too deeply ingrained. So, gamely, we persisted in finishing the meal and not wasting the food.

Stomachs filled, all of us started brainstorming as to what caused that yucky taste. Studying the label a little more closely, it hit us that we had bought MUSTARD oil instead of the recommended groundnut oil. We had been so lost in looking at the price of the oil, and grabbing the least expensive one, that we didn’t bother to see which oil we had bought!

Night after night, for almost a month, we ignored our screaming taste buds, until finally, the dratted mustard oil bottle was empty. What a testimony to our austerity!

But I still remember this episode because it gave me a sense of perspective – when something sounds too good to be true, it’s best to check again.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 27: How do you talk to yourself?

I sit down to write today’s post and within a minute, hear a familiar horn. The master of the house is back. As I rush to open the gate, I feel a frisson of irritation. “There’s always some interruption just when I sit down to write,” I fume inwardly. Ironic, considering the topic on which I wanted to write.

With effort, I halt the mental diarrhoea that’s threatening to strike. “Check what you said just now. Always some interruption, you grumbled – is that really true? Today is day 27 of the blogathon – and except for two or three days, you’ve been left undisturbed to do your thing. 3 out of 27 is not ‘always’ – don’t exaggerate,” my mind says to me.

It turns out hubby wants dinner at once, so I make the chapattis and serve him. Then I realize it’s almost my dinner time, so I decide to finish my meal before sitting down to write. During this process of making, serving and eating dinner, I get a few more thoughts about what to write. Blood glucose levels rise, and I’m altogether feeling more cheerful as I get back to writing the blog.

Today’s post was going to be about negative self-talk. Thanks to this incident, I got an actual example to demonstrate it.

Whether you realize it or not, you do talk to yourself – that is called self-talk. And our internal monologue has a huge impact on how we feel. When we’re feeling bad, we get upset; this affects our focus and communication, too, and often paves the way for more unpleasant stuff to happen.

So what you need to do is stop the cycle from going ahead. How?

Go back to my example.

First, I realized where my thoughts were going.

Next, I challenged a thought I had slipped into.

Then I said, “So what if there’s a small interruption?” and adapted to the new situation

I looked for what positive came out of the disturbance.

So, here’s my SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to stop negative self-talk.

1. Identify the negative thought

2. Ask if the thought is true/false

3. Question the possibilities with “So what?”

4. Change over to a positive viewpoint

5. Act accordingly

6. Look for the lesson

7. Repeat next time

There you have it – the secret to being more relaxed, less uptight, and feeling better about your life.

All said and done, some things will happen the way they will. Accept them you must. Whether you do so gracefully or are brought there kicking and screaming is entirely up to you.

Monday, 26 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 26: What your food plate says about you!

Did you know that it is possible to get an inkling about the nature of an individual based on their eating habits? Over the years, from my observations, I’ve developed a hypothesis based on two components – the order in which people eat the food in their plate, and the state of the plate at the end of the meal.

Hypothesis 1: People who eat what they like first, and then move on to the lesser liked ones are more likely to be impulsive. Those who eat the lesser-liked foods first, and then move on to their favourite food are the ones who’re more likely to be successful.

When you think a little more about this hypothesis, it makes sense, especially when you view it the context of the ability to delay gratification.

Of course, there mustn’t be any outside force that influences the order of eating foods – like, for example, in the famous story of the new son-in-law who went to his mother-in-law’s house and ended up eating only ………….. (fill in the blank with the yucky dish depending on which part of the country you come from) in his entire meal because he wasn’t articulate or assertive enough to put his foot down and say, “Enough of this nonsense.” Which is quite surprising given that in the times when this story was popular, the groom’s side didn’t hesitate to throw their weight around.

Sorry for the digression – let’s get back to part two of my theory.

Which plate is yours? 

Hypothesis 2: People who leave their plate clean, with no remnants of food, are more likely to be clear in their thinking, and decisive in their actions. Those whose plates are cluttered with left-over food at the end of the meal are more likely to be just as cluttered in their mind, and probably find it difficult to make up their mind when it is decision time.

The logic here too is simple – when you know what exactly you want, and what you don’t want, and apportion the dishes correctly, there’s no chance of anything being left over. When you’re not sure of what you want/don’t want, you end up trying to sample a little of everything, and in the end, there’s so much left over that you just can’t finish it all.

I’d like to know if you’ve noticed these things too. Even if you haven’t so far, you’re welcome to try it retrospectively and see if my hypotheses are proved or disproved by your experience. Either way, it would be nice to hear your views 😊

Sunday, 25 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 25: A Hairy Lie!

A young girl was brought to her mother’s native village for a prospective groom’s family to “see”. After a brief interaction, the girl’s family returned home to wait for the verdict.

A few days later, the girl’s parents got a cryptic message from their relative in the village. She told them, “If the boy’s relatives ask if your daughter has got some worm infestation in the hair, please say yes, and reassure them that it has already started getting cured.” Before the parents could understand what the issue was, this relative continued, “And yes, tell your daughter to grow her hair out fully, and not cut it ever again.”

Till today, we have great fun telling my fourth sister that if not for this elderly relative’s lie, she may not have been married into this particular family. That old woman belonged to the category of people who believe in the Kannada proverb “Saavira sullu heli ondu madhuve maadu” which implies that it’s okay to tell even a thousand lies to fix one wedding.

So, what was the lie told?

We were living in Goa, and this sister of mine, influenced by her college friends, had got herself a front flick cut. 

Sometime later, someone suggested this prospective groom from a conservative family in a small village called Hulikal in Karnataka.

After the girl-seeing, they were okay to go ahead, but they wondered about what looked like a haircut. Their concern – would a modern girl (one who was ‘forward’ enough to cut her hair) fit and adjust into their family?

Our elderly relative who knew this family well, understood the suspicion behind the innocent-seeming query about the girl’s hair. She did the best thing she could – she lied and said the hair was looking like that because the girl had some worms in her hair. Because having worms was a temporary phenomenon, not in one’s control, and seemingly harmless as compared to the loaded possibilities that a girl with a haircut implied!! 😂😂

Time has proved how adaptable the girl with the haircut has been, playing a vital role in steering that family towards greater stability. Today, she heads the quality assurance department of a global pharma company and is recognized as a dynamic leader, with several achievements to her credit. To give them their due, the family that was worried about her haircut has also been very supportive of her.

All said and done, I guess we must thank that elderly relative for the lie she told!