Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I was 17 when I composed this poem. I had hit the rock bottom of my life(my life so far). I feel surprised at my pessimism, my cynicism. After this one, I have not composed a poem so far.
All my castles built in air
Came crashing down to earth
I lost those battles fought with dare
Fought to prove my worth
Standing alone on a tall tower
I had really felt so proud
Above the mansions, above the mountains
And above all the world
From there I told the world below
To wait and watch in wonder
How I solved impossible mysteries
How I made records in history
I had promised myself the moon above
About my strength I had talked aloud
But crumbling down came all the bricks
Of the tower on which I stood
Along with it came all my dreams
Drenched in tears of blood
Wounded lay I amidst the ruins
Helpless as I could
I’d soared high to reach the stars
But barely touched the clouds
The wreckage tells of the past glory
Which is now lost beyond recovery
The honoured queen of a vast empire
Merged with common and ordinary folk
Her splendorous majesty, grace and beauty
Made and the people laugh and joke
Silently disappearing into indefiniteness
She left behind only footsteps
Tongues of flames shooting upwards
Engulfed her who was sinking downwards
The higher you dream
The greater the depth below
The faster you run
The sooner you’ll get slow
She is always looking up high at the sky
The stars of her fortune may someday shine
Inspiration from an unknown source
May come to her in showers of rain
She’ll rebuild her tower great and tall
Never to crumble never to fall
She waits and longs for her turn
While the world awaits hr return
I was 17 when i composed this.........
Today when I read this, I can't believe I was so cynical once upon a time.....................
Happiness is only an illusion, a mirage
Which one can in dreams alone envisage
Life is so unsteady and uncertain
Man proposes God disposes often
Death is the ultimate truth of life,
Sorrow the ultimate truth of joy,
Separation the truth of every encounter,
Disappointment the truth of every hope
And still are liable to carry on
Not daring to look back at times bygone
You are committed to carry your burden alone
For all the others have wagon loads of their own
For cries unheeded, quests unanswered
Trust the creator, the unseen, the unknown
Imposed human limitations and fetters
Are in number very few
Determination and courage besides
Will give you perspective new
But you’ll never break free from these
Limitations natures imposes on you
Past cant be obliterated, time cant run backwards
And what the future holds is concealed behind curtains
You’ll never overlook these bonds that disable you
Nature’s law of bridling you
Even the most victorious shall taste defeat
The most advancing shall once retreat
Remember it will not pay to protest
Nor will it be of any use to resist
For the episodes of life are all predestined
Sorrow is inevitable for it’s preordained
We are puppets pulled by unseen strings
We are caged birds with clipped wings
This was my project 2 speech in Toastmasters. TM does not allow topics related to sex, politics and relegion. Although this topic has nothing to do with relegion in my opinion, I was apprehensive that the evaluators would percieve it that way. I therefore did not do this project in my club but chose The Smedley Speakers Society whose members are my good friends :-)
It all happened. The journey to the heights of Kedarnath on a rough terrain. A holy dip in the Ganges that was near frozen. A tour of all the temples in the country that were specimen of architecture. But……….. my proximity to the zenith of sacrosanctity did not do to me, what it did to the others. It did not evoke in me any feeling of devotion.
The doubt still remains as to the existence of an almighty. I do not know if it was my inability to connect to the divine or a lack of knowledge that led to skepticism. To call this doubt blasphemy would not be right. To call it a product of a rational thinking mind would certainly not be wrong.
When I tried to apply my analytical skills to understand the existence or non existence of a supreme power, I did not arrive at any meaningful conclusions but my endeavor gave me an insight into human psychology which I wish to share with you.
This understanding is a mental dichotomy, that is two arguments coexisting in the same mind. Let me start by presenting before you the argument of skepticism.
When do people go to GOD? In adverse conditions, unfavorable circumstances. People become more religious as they grow old. Old age is when helplessness and desperation creep in. Emotional insecurity gets the better of your self confidence. Uncertainty and unsteadiness of life become a preoccupation of the mind. Fear of death starts haunting. In short, these are times when people need a source of comfort.
When you drill down deep into the issue, when you sit down and try to think about when people go to God, how frequently they do it and what their circumstances are, you will discover that God is more of a psychological need, more of an emotional necessity than anything else. Necessity is the mother of invention and since the thought of a supreme being is definitely very comforting, it would not be wrong to say that God is an invention of man.
The thought of a GOD primarily came into existence because of so many questions that we do not have the answers for. The thought of a universe that began in eternity and would end in eternity was something that the human mind found difficult to comprehend. People are not comfortable with questions for which they have no answers. A hypothetical GOD is better than no answer and a lot of confusion.
Another reason for skepticism is too many contradictions in the world of theosophy. SIN for example. Were it not for the existence of sin in this world, all human beings would have believed in God, the same way they believed other people.
Listen to these questions carefully.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able to? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able to prevent evil, but not willing to? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then where does evil come from?
Is he neither able nor willing to prevent? Then why call him God?"
The greatest paradox of all times is that all the bloodshed and crime in this world happen for the cause of GOD. If people did not believe absolutely in some particular GOD, there would be unity in this world and no discrimination at all.
Saying prayers is another contradiction. You believe that there is a destiny, that all episodes of life are predestined, preordained. But when you pray, for good, for betterment, for whatever cause, you actually expect the laws of the universe to be cancelled or re-written for the sake of a single devotee who is nothing but a spec in this universe”.
Now let me present to you the other argument, the argument of belief.
It may be that GOD is the product of a psychological need, but just look at the actual consequences it has on peoples’ lives.
Parents often do a good job of upbringing, when they implant this fear of GOD in the minds of their children. When the child lies, the mother tells him, GOD will punish you. This trick often works and as we grow up to become adults we carry this belief along with us. Most of us abstain from wrong doings and even when we do stray from the correct path we feel guilty because of a fear of GOD that was instilled in us during childhood.
What I am arriving at is, if this fear of a hypothetical God can stop people from doing the wrong things, compel people to choose the correct path in life then… I have no objection to the existence of such a hypothesis.
There is one thing that keeps the world going. It is not money, it is not power, nor science, nor economy, it is not even gravity but it is a strong belief that works like magic.
Faith and Hope. There are people in this world who do not have enough to eat, who starve to death. People who don’t have clothes to wear. People who lose their near and dear ones in accidents and calamities. People who suffer from ailments from which they never recover. The deaf, the dumb, the blind, the lame. Some of them see improvements in their conditions, some of them don’t. But all of them have one thing in common. Tenacity to life. The will to carry on. The hope that they may see a better tomorrow. A faith that whatever happens, happens for good.
This faith for most of the people is not just faith in life, but faith in a supreme power, faith in a GOD who is believed to be the silent listener to every conversation, an uninvited guest to every meal, an arbitrator in every dispute who will see that no evil goes unpunished.
Why I am telling you this is, if this belief makes people go on in life despite their troubles, then I would not want to validate the truth of this belief. I would not verify the correctness of it, because the belief in itself is not of much concern. But the consequence it has on people’s actions, their approach towards their problems is what really matters.
Now that I have presented both the arguments, you must be wondering what is it that I believe in. Am I a theist or an atheist? Have you heard of this third category called agnosticism?
Agnosticism is a school of thought in which it is believed that the question of whether a higher power exists or not is unsolved and insoluble. That is an agnostic is someone who simply does not know for sure whether God exists or not. And I, am an agnostic.
There may be a God, there may not be a God. I don’t know. All I know is, if there is a God, he does not have great expectations from me. He only expects me to be a good human being, be devoid of vices like jealousy, cruelty, pettiness…….. He would not expect me to visit temples everyday, say my prayers regularly, perform rituals and rites, but he would expect me to be compassionate, generous, helpful and kind. And that is what I am trying to be.
My skepticism comes from a conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith.
My skepticism comes from a commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human problems.
To choose to question the existence of a GOD is also a matter of personal convenience. People do such unbelievable and difficult things in order to seek the blessings of the supreme power. They go on fasting, starve for days and weeks. They travel to distant places of pilgrimage, walk bare feet on burning coal. Punish their bodies to free themselves from sin. Abstain from marriage, self indulgence and other pleasures of life, spending most of their lives controlling and enslaving what should be really free. Human emotions. I do not have to do any of these things.
Thank God, I am an atheist!!!
This was my project 4 in Toastmasters. The project 4 speech requires you to use figures of speech like similie, metaphor, alliterations. The speech is expected to create vivid images in the minds of listeners. I wrote this speech for a contest conducted by the Garden City club. I had not yet completed my project 3 in TM but won the first place for this prj 4 speech.
Being in the software profession requires you to be flexible in terms of traveling to places that are not necessarily picturesque like Switzerland, beautiful like Australia, lucrative like Dubai, historical like London or hospitable like Bangalore.
5th feb 2004
I was asked to go to Chennai. All the horror stories I had heard about the city came to me in vivid images. Shortage of water. The three weather conditions namely hot, hotter and hottest. Scorching heat throughout the day. And no survival without a knowledge of tamil.
14th feb 2004
I was driven down the East Coast Road by the cab, from where I had a continuous view of the sea since the road runs parallel to the sea. I was taken to the guesthouse. It was a beautiful independent bungalow, spacious, well furnished, air conditioned and boasted of lovely breeze all throughout the day since it was very close to the sea. The tiled roofing only served to enhance its appearance. From the terrace I could get a direct view of the sea, a vast blue eternity, a feast to the eyes. The garden was well maintained and had plenty of flower bearing plants. The lawn in front of the house fringed by yellow daffodils was the best part of the place. On the whole it was anybody’s dream house, which evoked poetic thoughts even in those who did not have a poetic soul.
Since the guest house was a mere 200 meters away from the sea, the inevitable happened. I ran to the shores at the first opportunity. It was dusk. The time of sunset and moonrise. I stood before the waters with my eyes closed for a few minutes.
I then opened my eyes and Paulo Coelho’s words came to my mind. When you want something desperately in life, the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it. And at that moment I felt the whole universe had indeed conspired to help me achieve my want; my want of pure bliss.
All the eternities of the universe had come to a meeting at that point so I could behold the spectacle and be mesmerized and enchanted. Ahead of me, the endless sky was in union with the vast ocean at the horizon which in itself was an eternity. Above my head were countless stars, below my feet, innumerable sand grains.
Men may come and men may go but I go on forever…………
The mystery of the never ending tides, the music in the cool breeze, the mischief in the wind that played with my hair and the magic of the moon light, held me in rapture. “Living in abandon” was a phrase I had come across so often. But I understood the meaning of it only at that precise moment.
If someday I fall in love with someone intensely, and he were to ask me “how much do you love me?”, then I wouldn’t know how to answer that question. I am confused. Should say love you taller than the skies, or should I say deeper than the floor of the ocean? Should I say brighter than sunshine or should I say love you more than the number of stars in the sky? Which one is greater in magnitude, no one knows and no one will ever know.
That’s probably why my grandfather used to say whenever your accomplishments in life make you feel proud, when you start believing that you are a very important person, when your ego and self esteem get the better of your modesty, humility, you must come to the sea and simply stand there before it. The vastness of the ocean will at once bring to you a realization that you are very insignificant, a spec in this universe and even without you everything in this world would go on perfectly well.
After a year, the same ocean awakened from the depths of its sleep. All the anguish it had been containing in its womb for god knows how long, assumed a ferocious form of sky high waves, invaded the shores of the city, and engulfed its people, leaving them no room for escape. Before people could act or even realize what was happening, the waves had receded carrying back with them, thousands of innocent lives, and years of their effort that had gone into the making of their small worlds. A part of earth submerged in the waters irrevocably forever, because the sea had receded but not completely, thereby, redefining a nation’s boundary at it’s free will and as it pleased. It will take people humungous effort and a very long time to rebuild their worlds, the scars will probably remain for ever but the ocean lies there, calm, serene, tranquil, pretending that nothing happened at all. Now I understand why the expression “dangerous innocence” is used to describe the ocean.
With a lot of effort I had to pull myself away from that confluence of infinities because the more finite and less immortal creations of mankind were calling me.
Thousand year old stones carved into horses, elephants, chariots, warriors, shilabalikas, majestic pillars and splendid Gopuras. I was in a land of temples, a land of culture, a land of music. Not to visit some of these temples would only have been a waste of my stay there. To build a temple more majestic and with more grandeur than the previous king built, was the only ambition every king nurtured and nourished in his lifetime and he dedicated his entire life for this noble cause because those were the days when religion was the opium of people.
Many of these temples were built by kings of the chola dynasty. These structures appeared so gigantic from a distance but when examined closely, they revealed such fine, intricate designs, yet so symmetric, so perfect. It is rightly said that the Chola artists conceived like giants and finished like jewelers.
Hundreds of figures that bejeweled the walls surrounding the sanctum delighted visitors as a storehouse of murals and sculpture. Both the interior and the exterior walls were replete with images depicting incidents from the lives of people from that era.
Many of the huge sculptures were monolithic, meaning, carved out of a single rock. I was left wondering as to how such huge rocks and boulders weighing tones and tones were elevated to such great heights at a time when there was no technology that people could depend on for help.
These were structures that stood tall and proud, defying gravity. They had withstood the onslaught of time and elemental forces of nature. I don’t know if such endurance can be attributed to the sculptors who erected them or the god in their sanctum who was protecting them.
These temples had become an inseparable part of peoples’ lives. This I realized only when I entered my office. One day while in my seat, I smelt some strange smell, the kind of smell that does not normally linger in air conditioned offices. I looked all around me in an attempt to identify the source of the smell. I then realized that the smell was emanating from the hair of a lady sitting right next to me who was wearing a small garden of assorted flowers in her hair. This fragrance of some unique flowers mixed with the aroma of coconut oil that nourished not only her hair but also the back of her neck and a part of her forehead was quite an experience to me who was not used to it. Added to this was the conspicuous vibhuti on foreheads, the jingling of glass bangles and the tinkling of Payals. But for these sounds, people there walked quite noiselessly. I didn't even hear the occasional tip toeing sound of the high heels. The reason being the fact that, people came to office, left their footwear under their seats and walked around bare feet. Very comfortable indeed!!! Although I was baffled and amused in the beginning, I had to convince myself by saying, this was a world away from glamour, glitter, grooming and style. People here preferred to be closer to the soil than to the stars.
Finally after five months of staying in Chennai, the day of departure arrived and it was time for retrospection. All the horror stories I had heard about the place were absolutely true. In spite of all that, I had enjoyed my stay there. There are two things in life you can do when you are in a situation you don’t like to be in. You can go on cribbing and complaining about things you cannot change or you can simply change your perspective and make the best of what is available.
In December 2005, the Garden City toastmasters club conducted a debate competition. The opinion of the house was "Businessmen should mind their own business and not the business of the country". This was in response to the entry of Ambanis and other business men into politics.
I had to argue for the topic because Kanikraj has chosen to argue against it. The 2 of us represented our club and won the first place. Read on.................
The other day I was reading the entertainment section in the Times of India. There was a piece of writing about Oxymorons. An oxymoron in English is a word or a phrase which is a combination of two words which contradict one another. Some examples are Rap Music because rap is not musical at all. Junk Food, because if it is food it cannot be called junk, if it is junk, it cannot be called food. American culture because America does not have a distinct culture of it’s own. Government organization is an oxymoron because the government is so disorganized. The list goes on…. Deafening silence, mournful optimist, dangerous innocence, which is often used to describe an ocean. One particular oxymoron which I clearly remember was business ethics, which means Business people supposedly do not have ethics. For all the business men seated here who are giving me angry looks, let me tell you the article was meant to be a humorous one. Nevertheless, I seriously believe that business people should keep out of politics.
The government can be thought of as a non profit organization. It is therefore necessary that we have as a ruler of the nation, a person who can think beyond profit and loss. Ours being a mixed economy which is a combination of socialistic and capitalistic economy, it is extremely important that we prevent accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few, and ensure uniform distribution of wealth.
If a business person enters politics, it is most likely that he will use his power to manipulate law so as to benefit his business. For example the famous Dhirubai Ambani used his political connections to manipulate the income tax policy in such a way that minimum tax was levied on goods which his business produced. He did all this just by being a businessman. If he had been a politician too with all the power in his hands, you can imagine the extent to which he would manipulate law and the system in general.
In December 2005, the Garden City toastmasters club conducted a debate. The opinion of the house was "Businessmen should mind their own business and not the business of the country". This was mainly in response to the entry of Ambanis and other business people into politics.
I had to argue for the topic merely because someone had already chosen to argue aginst it. The two of us represented our club and won the first place. Read on....................................
The government gets it’s money from the taxes that you and I pay. At this point how can we be ignorant of the fact that most of the tax evasions that happen are because of businessmen? Can one such businessman who is reluctant to pay his taxes, set a good example for the rest of the citizens? No.
For all my opponents who claim that a business man is a superior candidate for politics because of a business degree from Harvard University, let me tell you about a princess who went on to become a queen. When her minister told her that people in her kingdom did not have bread to eat, she asked very innocently, if they don’t have bread, why don’t they eat cakes? Most of the businessmen I see in politics today are people who were born with silver spoons in their mouths. We need someone who will be able to relate to the common problems of people like sanitation, drinking water, education, electricity and other basic amenities. Not someone who would be required to step into their shoes, but someone who has already been in their shoes.
My passion for public speaking brought me to this forum called "The Toastmasters Club", dedicated to making effective communication a world wide reality. The first project (speech) is called the "Icebreaker". I delivered this speech 3 years ago.
She stands tall. She is fair. She is beautiful especially on a moonlit night. She casts a spell on everyone who gets a glimpse of her. If you are all thinking that I am talking about myself then you are absolutely……………….wrong.
I am not talking about myself but I am talking about something that is very close to my heart, my person, my existence. I am talking about the Taj Mahal, in the city of Agra , where I was born and spent the first 2 years of my life.
I can’t explain, just like you cannot explain so many things in life, but there is a strange connection between me and the monument. I visited the place twice later when I grew up.
Each time I was left mesmerized, hypnotized by that colossal beauty, and returned with a heavy heart, with a craving to go back to a world of another time.
Incidentally, this place where we meet every Wednesday evening, is also called the Taj.
That brings us to the reason as to why we were in Agra .
My father was a manager in Canara bank. It was a transferable job. Every two or three years we would be transferred. When we were just becoming close to one soil, getting adjusted to one culture, learning one new language, we had to leave to another land far and strange.
While the others would have complained about the pain of having to shift every now and then, we thoroughly enjoyed it. The best part of the whole thing was, we got to taste different variety of food. I love food. I have taken to my father when it comes to this.
My dad also loved traveling. It is only because of him that I can boast about having visited almost every state in the country. I can never forget the heights of Kedarnath, the confluence of the Ganges with the other rivers. I can never forget the way I felt when I saw Pakistan border at Wagah.
Coming to my family, we are a family of four. My dad. My mom who is a housewife. My brother who is still studying. We hail from a small village called Hulikal. We never stayed there but my dad was born and brought up there. Although he has traveled a lot, although he has been all over the country, seen a whole lot of palaces and resorts, he still loves his old village.
He says, no matter where we go or what we become, we must never forget our roots. We must always have our roots firm in the soil. A man’s worth is estimated not by how tall he is or what heights he has reached but by how deep his roots are and how proud he is of his belonging. This is a part of a strong value system he has attempted to impart to us.
Regarding my education, I completed my BSc, and then my MCA. Through campus recruitment, I got into Cognizant Technology Solutions, and I work there as a programmer.
My hobbies. I love painting. I love poetry. I love music. I love traveling. I love reading. Procrastination loves me.
Some of my poems which were composed at moments when I felt extremely intense are “Love understands and therefore waits”, “ Dangerous Heights ” and “A Struggle to conquer Destiny”.
I have always believed in broad acquaintanceship and selective friendship. Because of a nomadic life that we lead, the concept of a childhood friend remained unfamiliar because the set of friends changed very often. I have had a very few friends but very loyal and very close friends.
When I was a student, I thought money was very important. Like most of the girls, I wanted to buy the best of clothes, accessories, cosmetics. The possessions of these I thought could make you very happy. Once I got a job, I did a lot of shopping. I bought a lot of things with enthusiasm and excitement. But very soon a realization followed that material happiness/possessions cannot satiate a person beyond a certain extent. True happiness in life comes only through people and relationships.
Since all my close friends were geographically distributed, I did not have anyone to talk to everyday. I felt tongue tied. There was a void in life and a search began. A search for people. People to whom I could talk to and share ideas with. Someone like me who was looking for fine people and sensible talking, could not have found a better place than the toastmasters club. The search came to an end.
Regarding my aspirations, I aspire to become a well read person someday. I aspire to study Sanskrit. I aspire to learn Music. I aspire to kill procrastination which has been a faithful companion in all my endeavours.
I am not particularly ambitious, but no matter what I do, where I go, I want to make a difference. To spend all my life in dark shadows, without being noticed is one thing I certainly do not aspire for.
To be honest, my aspirations revolve more around my personal life and less around my professional life. It becomes very difficult when you have a lot of love inside to bestow upon and there is no recipient at the other end. I am a person who treasures the best of my resources /possessions for people who deserve them the most. Be it my time, money, gifts or my love. I do not squander them here and there but withhold them and patiently await the arrival of the right recipients.
If I can find this right person who will add music to my poetry and turn it into a song, who will someday share with me those moments of magic when we behold together, the Taj Mahal, then I will consider it, a life well lived. And then I will be able to say that I have stood tall, I have been fair, I have been able to cast a spell, not on everyone, but on that someone special.