Thursday, March 31, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - COLOURS OF LIFE by Inderjit Kaur



BOOK REVIEW - COLOURS OF LIFE by Inderjit Kaur

Inderjit Kaur is no preacher though all her three books under her ‘A Living Series’ stress on encountering all the trials, tribulations and vicissitudes that life throws at us on our journey. The focal point of all her writings is that one has to face life with a positive attitude; a belief in one’s own inner strength and that life is valuable and has to be lived to realize one’s full potential. In this context I liked her quote from my favorite author and influencer Albert Camus’ – ‘In the midst of winter, I found there was within me an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, there’s something stronger – something better pushing it right back’; that about sums up her life also.

In her own words in Part B Section 8 of her book, ‘Colours of Life’ she says, ‘I experienced high and ebb tides in my life. The legal cases accompanied by a broken marriage and the divorce that ensued had driven me towards unending episodes of severe migraines that would not leave me until I injected painkillers.” She had come to a point where she felt that ‘All life is meaningless.’ She continues “During those struggling days of more than two and a half years of the legal fight (domestic violence), I engaged myself in writing during the early mornings. I drenched myself in music even while performing my household chores, making sure not to leave myself alone in desolation, loneliness and sufferings.”

Inderjit has been a traveller, this book like her previous ones exudes a positivism that is infectious and by the time one comes to the end you feel that there is after all hope and we need not be overtaken by the disappointments and the miseries that we subject ourselves to in the process of living our life.

‘Colours of Life’ is organized in two sections – Part A consisting of seven sections corresponding to the seven colors of the rainbow, each color being attributed to a positive characteristic that should see us through our darkest hours. Whether it is Violet which ‘inspires positivity, culminating in achieving the pinnacle of spiritual enlightenment’, or Orange the color of compassion or Red ‘exuding a strong and a very powerful energy and associating will to stand courageously to survive’, she traces the entire gamut of emotions and qualities required to make our living authentic and thus meaningful. While the method of reaching out with her message through anecdotal stories/encounters is interesting, the chapter on Red appealed to me most as it is autobiographical and traces the roots of her courage to come through the struggles she faced in her life, to her father who inspired her with his message – ‘Adjust, adapt and keep moving with a smile” Inderjit says that it is the smile that she received as a gift from her father who had stood strong in all adversities in is life.

Part B forms a major portion of the book consisting of multiple sections where she underscores the importance of commitment and responsibility in achieving our dreams of leading a wonderful life. She says that life can be looked upon as a series of choices, a beautiful challenge and a collage. Drawing largely from her own understanding of life’s experiences, she shares what she feels would contribute to a fulfilled life.

In summing up I shall quote from her last page in the book – “We can’t live in illusions, we have to focus on and give our hundred percent doing justice to whatever we are doing no matter how much difficult or mundane it may appear we must make sure that we remain disciplined and determined.”

While I marvel at the stream of positive thoughts in this book, I pause to wonder whether this unending positivity is possible in our lives. Frankly no, but this is precisely why this book becomes relevant, for beyond the darkness that seems to envelop us there is the hope of light with the dawn of a new morrow.


This is a book that falls under the self-help category and helpful it will definitely be to have it with you to browse through and reassure yourself. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

WHAT’S HAPPENING?



WHAT’S HAPPENING?

It was one of those sultry afternoons when I found myself at the end of my tether waiting for the electricity to come back, the inverter having given its last gasp with that peculiar hoot as if the whole damn building was on fire. I ran around trying to switch off all the electrical points which were under its control. To no avail, for the last hoot ended the way it started. Now it was dead and I would have to wait for the power to come back and recharge it back to its reincarnation. Oh yes! I thought that if an inverter could be back brought back to life by having the battery recharged then why not we reincarnate by having electrodes shoved up or placed at certain strategic places on our body. Random thoughts, that’s what happens when you are beyond boredom; like I said, at the end of your tether. You may wonder why I used the word ‘tether’ twice (this time included thrice actually). Well I liked that word; I had picked it up from a friend (actually not really a friend) of mine who had used it to describe his existence after thirty five years of married life. Don’t get me wrong I am not ascribing it to my state of existence. In all fairness I have been given a long rope and would never find myself ‘at the end of my tether’, to wander about unrestricted within the many walls of my domain. Like I told you I liked the word and liked it even better when I looked up the dictionary for the meaning – ‘tie (an animal) with a rope or chain so as to restrict its movement like a "the horse had been tethered to a post". What appealed to me was the word in the brackets though I felt more like the poorer cousin of the animal within the quotes.

By now you may be wondering why I sound so incoherent. That’s what happens in the height of a Chennai summer. You get all heated up, bark like a dog and sweat like a pig. Though I have heard a dog bark, I have never seen a pig sweat. May be sweat like a hippo and stink like a pig. That’s possible though if you ask me whether I have seen a hippo sweat, well no, but it does sound nice. Stink like a pig, well yes.

This afternoon I was a hippo as well as a pig, but I couldn’t bark for I was simmering inside. I was in for a heat stroke. That was when there was a knock on the door (remember the electricity was having its day out) and when I opened it there was this guy who I had met a couple of times, enough for him to call me his friend though I did not nurture the slightest inclination to include him in my list. The couple of times I had met him were enough to convince me that he had been let loose on the streets like the strays (though the strays may have a strong objection to my reference). I stood at the door not having fully opened it to prevent his unwanted (unwarranted) entry into my already oven hot apartment, he would only add to the already excruciating existence in which I found myself.

He said “Hello, thought I would look you up. It’s been some time since we met and today being a holiday, I thought of dropping in to find out how you are doing” and squeezed himself through. I had no option but let him in.

“Doing what?” I asked, exasperation seeping over and above the perspiration that ran down my bald pate.

“Nothing; just like that. I can see there is a power shutdown in this area. Don’t you have an inverter?” He asked.

“I have, but it is dead now” I said.

“Sorry, that’s sad” he said, puzzled. “How did it happen?” he continued, not really knowing whether to offer his condolences or offer his shoulders for me to cry.

“Just like that, like it happens to all inverters when they run dry.” I replied.

“That’s tough I know, what with all this heat you must be feeling like a pig” he said.

I could have murdered him that instant.

“Well old chap you should get over your procrastinations and get on with what’s to be done” he said

“Pray, what must that be? I asked.

“For a change, are you aware of what’s happening around you?”

“Why should I? I have enough problems feeling like a pig, mind you those are your words” I replied.

“Exactly that’s why you should know what is happening around you” he replied.

“Well, you tell me what’s happening?” I asked.

“Fogg is happening” he said nonchalantly.

“You must be mad; the heat has got on to you. Whoever heard of fog happening in the middle of all this heat! If it has it must be in your mind. I can see you are suffering from delusions, a definite sign of a heat stroke on its way. Why don’t you see a doctor? Ha, ha, a fog is it?” I laughed.

For a moment he was perturbed and then said “No, no, it is not fog, it is Fogg.”

“Why do you keep repeating the same words? Better go right now” I said, getting up from my chair, finding at last an opportunity to push him out. The heat and sweat were bad enough, but this guy was the pits.

He didn’t get up and continued staring at me as if I was the one who had lost it.

“You got me all wrong, it is F-O-G-G and not F-O-G” he said spelling out the words.

“Oh no! If it is Fogg as you say how can he still be happening? The only Fogg I know is a guy called Phileas Fogg who was supposed to have gone around the world in eighty days. Well he must be dead and gone now, a hundred years ago at least. Don’t tell me he has reincarnated?” I said; hope building up and curious to know if he had any electrodes inserted.

Now he was at the edge of his seat and I knew he was reaching the end of his ‘tether’.

“You can’t understand you dumb ass. Don’t you ever watch the television? It is all over the news; it even prevented a skirmish on our border with Pakistan, all because Fogg is happening. Such an important event and you are still not aware of it you ignoramus. If you had known you would not have been stinking like a pig” he said and stormed out of the apartment.

Though I had succeeded in getting him out of my apartment, I was left flummoxed. Was this a secret weapon that somehow left the Pakis scrambling for cover? I couldn’t even switch on the television as I was still powerless.

But now at least I knew that something called Fogg was happening.

In case you are also still wondering what Fogg is, please switch on the television. I did it when the power came on and now I am enlightened man.    

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A CELEBRATION OF LIFE - MY 200TH POST



A CELEBRATION OF LIFE - MY 200TH POST

It is exactly three years ago that I wrote my 100th post on my blog. I considered it a milestone in my journey as a writer. It had taken me two years to reach that since I started becoming active on my blog. It has taken me a further three years to reach my 200th post. A slowing down, perhaps? Not really. This journey has taken me through a hundred more posts and my first published work ‘I am just An Ordinary Man’ and the completion of my second book ‘Darkness and Beyond – A Medley of Many Lives’, though I am taking my time before publishing it. The last few months I have been catching up on my reading which had earlier been relegated to the background due to my preoccupation with writing. Two amazing books have stayed with me – ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King and ‘Fallen Leaves’ by Will Durant.

In his book Stephen King says “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut. Good writing teaches the learning writer about style, graceful narration, plot development, the creation of believable characters, and truth telling.

We read to experience the mediocre and the outright rotten; such experience helps us to recognize those things when they begin to creep into our own work, and to steer clear of them. We also read in order to measure ourselves against the good and the great, to get a sense of all that can be done. And we read in order to experience different styles.”

I now read because I want to be a better writer.

Will Durant from the infinite wisdom which he had gathered during the course of his life writes about Life, Love, War and God. Fallen Leaves is considered as his most personal book and the last, presenting his own opinions on the major problems of life, politics, religion, and society. In the Preface to the book he writes-
“Vanity increases with age. Here I am, going on ninety five; by this time I should have learned the art of silence, and should realize that every educated reader has already heard all opinions and their opposites; yet here I set out, fearful and rash, to tell the world – or one hundred millionth of it – just what I think on everything. It is all the more ridiculous since at my age, a man is deeply rooted in the ways or views of his youth, and is almost constitutionally incapable of understanding the changing world that assails him, and from which he tends to flee into the grooves of the past or the safety of his home.”

When I wrote my 100th post I called it ‘A Celebration of My 100th Posting’. Yes, it indeed was a celebration for it was a milestone in my journey as a writer. It is important setting a goal for oneself, for that is what makes you move forward. It is on the way, on that journey, that we start seeing and experiencing things which we have never really understood before. You see things with a new perspective, a perspective that has been sharpened by the experiences on the way.

Now, when I am on the verge of reaching the next milestone on my journey, I pause to reflect on what I have seen and experienced and what I have understood of life and what it means to live. I ask myself the question whether it is vanity that forces me to write. Maybe it is there in some measure but to be truthful I have found that my writing is a mirror I hold in front to understand the lessons that life has taught me. It has taught me that each day is a celebration. As you wake up to see the sun streaming through the windows and you stretch your limbs re-enacting the very process of being born again and to live one more day, it is a celebration.

My second book has as its theme that beyond the darkness that seems to envelop you as night falls there is the hope of light with the dawn of a new day. . It is not only the process of aging and the acceptance of the final exit from this phase of existence that this book is concerned. It touches all those who have passed through the darkness of living and found the light of fulfillment, giving an authenticity to their existence. In that sense every day is a celebration of life. That I thought should be title of this post – A Celebration of Life

“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” Robert Frost

Each day is a little life; every waking and rising, a little birth; every fresh morning a little youth; every going to rest and sleep a little death. - Arthur Schopenhauer

I cannot but resist the temptation of ending this post by quoting from Will Durant in his book ‘Fallen Leaves’ –

“Life is that which can hold a purpose for three thousand years and never yield. The individual fails, but life succeeds. The individual is foolish, but life holds in its blood and seed the wisdom of generations. The individual dies, but life, tireless and undiscourageable, goes on, wondering, longing, planning, trying, mounting, longing.”
“Here are children; what is it that makes them so joyous, running madly over the dew-wet grass, laughing, calling, pursing, eluding, panting for breath, inexhaustible? What energy, what spirit and happiness! What do they care about death? They will learn and grow and love and struggle and create, and lift life up one little notch, perhaps, before they die. And when they pass they will cheat death with their children, with parental care that will make their children a little finer than themselves.


Life wins.”

Thursday, March 3, 2016

SECRETS OF THE SOUL- 6 BUDDHA AND THE LONE PINE





Buddha and the Lone Pine

I seek the secrets of the soul,
From the dewdrop on the lotus leaf,
Now precariously perched on the edge,
Waiting for the fall, to merge once again,
As the vastness below waits to embrace,
I stand a lone pine amidst this white spread,
Oblivious to the enveloping stillness,
And the chill wind that batters and bruises,
The Buddha sits as still as the stillness around,
Eyes closed, a faint smile betrays
The submerging of the tremors within,

The ghost in silence moves away.