Love is in the air …Really?

 

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Valentine’s day just passed by . With such  mammoth marketing , even an orang-utan now knows that is the day where you go on your knees down and proclaim love for your dream boy/girl .The newspapers , media everywhere  is flooded with heart shaped balloons and advertisement asking you to take for helicopter ride , candle-light dinner and what not.

Is it really Love ? A boy meets a girl and their hearts melt and slowly they are wedded in bliss . My dear that’s nothing but our raging hormones and nature’s own way to proliferate. The intrinsic character of Nature is to grow. And hence the biology of animals and homosapiens is shaped like a way that they desire to copulate and we confuse it with eternal love.

In my journey till now I have discovered my own definition of love . That definition may not be perfect but surely I have deciphered my own nuances of love.Love is not object dependent .It is only about you , about your own existence , being comfortable in your skin and accepting yourself .In the tribulations of life we are sometimes so engaged that we forget about ourselves and self loathing starts creeping in .When  you  accept your flaws then only you can love yourself . And when you love yourself , you can love others. If you cannot love yourself you can never love others. But sometimes people love themselves so much that they forget about others . That is nothing but pride , ego and arrogance. Where there is love , there is never any ego.True love asks for sacrifice of ego.

Love is a state of bliss , a state where you are so ensconced that anybody who comes near you get the whiff of that fragrance. . I an a big follower of Sadhguru , his philosophy and his teachings. In one of his discourse he explains that you can be in love with a tree or a stone too. When you want something in return that is not love but transaction. If you are in love with yourself  a feeling of compassion comes in . That itself is s beautiful . Love and compassion are two ingredients that make our life worth living for , devoid of this we will turn into animals. Love is our intrinsic nature , we need to cultivate that , this can only help us to transcend and enter the realm of Godliness. I truly believe that in such tumultuous times , the world needs more lovers and healers . Lovers who transcend the boundaries of religion , country and  caste . What are your thoughts on love ? Have you discovered its eternal side ? I would love to hear your side of story too….

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Earthy , vibrant and beautiful..

Yes these are the words which comes to your mind when you look at her . So did  your mind went  all bonkers  about which actress/Celebrity I am talking about . Nah…Actually not.. But they are even more beautiful … And their charm never fades… Once you make them part of their lives , they will stay forever with you.. These are the beautiful hand made wooden vases , toys , candle stands and other useful artefacts from Chennapatna.

Chennapatna is a small town on the Bangalore Mysore highway . It is known for lacquerware wooden artefacts which include votive , vases , wooden toys , curtain rings , coasters and many other useful artefacts which we use in our day to day life . The artisans has been provided lathe machines and other equipments  from the government of Karnataka . It is just amazing to see how a piece of wood is converted into a  piece of art with their skilled hands . These artisans work hard in not very comfortable condition just to provide for their family and kids . Their whole body was covered with the dust generated from these lathe machines.

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A handmade product is not only beautiful but an array of emotions and sweat goes in making that product . So , when you buy a handmade product you are actually buying a piece of their life , a piece of their emotions. In Artsgali we aim to build a platform which aim to showcase these unique and traditional forms of art which has been part of our legacy from many generations.  These products are Indigenous and MADE IN INDIA. These are not produced in assembly lines with a thousand replicas but each one of this is touched and moulded in a piece of art with bare hands.

We spend so much money in malls eating and buying stuff which are overpriced but will bargain for few rupees from an artist who works day and night to make pieces of great artistry and imagination. Seeing it and experiencing the pain and hardship which these craftsmen take to build these artefacts , my heart is filled with pride and compassion . Our country India is not just another country but many countries in one and each traditional art tells an unique story about our heritage. To preserve this , the onus rests entirely on us.

 

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A journey starts today – Fix our Road

ORR_SJP_Collage_Wakeup_BBMPIt was a bloodless revolution today or should I say just the start of revolution . The bellandur constituency which pays 100-crore of taxes every year to the state government has pathetic infrastructure . The roads ridden with potholes , overflowing drains , no pathways for pedestrians. In case if you are trying to cross the junction, you end up inhaling at least a bucket of CO2  and playing Snake and ladders with Yamraj . Yes my dear it is terrifying just to cross and come to the other side of Road.

Do we really deserve such pathetic infrastructure ? As informed citizens what we can do to garner the attention of Government . Social media and a desire to bring a change can help at least to a thundering start. Today was one such day . The procession which was completely coordinated on Facebook and Whatsapp saw people coming from all the adjoining apartments in an exemplary way. People planned their day around this Event with even school children joining directly from Schools. The energy was invigorating and palpable .

There was a group of people from the adjoining villages with Dhol , Nagara . And it was humbling to see people getting united and demanding better infrastructure . With the shout of ” No Road , No Tax” the whole atmosphere was infectious with positivity . The desire to bring a change, coupled with consisted efforts can always help if you are ready to come out of your comfort zone. Either we can keep complaining about the state of affairs or can do our bit by participating as a community. Every little effort makes us more closer to the cause .

By the time I am finishing this post , there has been some positive outcomes. The first ever meeting was held with a State minister and his entire department( BBMP , BDA) which involved many citizens from the community to understand the challenges and prospective solutions . Yes it will take some time and may be stupendous effort but we have started after all . We have a long way to go and may be future involves more protests and struggles , but we all know “A journey of thousand miles start with a single step”

If this post has inspired to do your bit please leave a comment on the post and I will connect you to the group of Sarjapura Volunteers (Whatsapp and FB group) who are working relentlessly for a better neighbourhood . Don’t  forget We have a long legacy to leave for our Children. So ACT NOW ,  in this case we even don’t have the option to REGRET LATER.

A magical Kitchen

desertIt was Sunday Noon , all are in brooding mood at home . The Son busy playing with his new toy , a remote controlled aircraft he got from his aunt. And I am contemplating to finish all the daily Chores so that I can start working on the new project.

And hubby has gone to the market to get some groceries and a hair cut. In the meantime Son rushes to me , ” Maa,  Can I have a sizzling desert in the night ?”  With twinkling eyes he looks at me affectionately with his puppy look. This look mostly melts the most unyielding hearts.

I try not to relent . And then he sheepishly comes and sashays behind me as the most coyish calf on the town , “Maa I will finish all my work , study for the test and will help you to clean the table also” Trying to hide my smile , I tease him , ” I don’t know how to make a sizzling desert” . And he replies back , “But you have a magical kitchen ”

I cannot help smiling back.  I tease him , “Do you know what to put in your sizzling desert ? “And he says nonchalantly , “Put whatever you want but don’t forget to put lot of chocolate sauce on the plate . And You need to heat the plate first.

And Voila the magical kitchen produced the most scrumptious desert . Magically the desert also disappeared in few minutes though I managed to grab few spoons 🙂

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A flight of stairs

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Every day I take this flight of stairs

I climb fast and tumble down

I gasp , I admire the beauty on the way

But I wonder why I tumble down?

 

When I see people tagging along

I  rejoice that it leads to some new adventure

For some stay and some disappear

But we weave memories along the way

 

For when we dream , we can be whatever we want

I can be a star , a cloud or the wind

I can be a song or the moonlight

And even the smile that plays on everyone’s lips

 

I  take this flight of stairs

In my dreams , To hinterland

I realize  whether I climb up or tumble down

I see a new vista every time.

 

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A Deepawali Memory…

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The festival of lights is here.  And there is such a hullabaloo about the festival . The newspapers , media , social media sites abuzz with sale , designer clothes and materialistic stuff. Not to forget there are celebrities and film stars inviting you to take a peek at their homes and to their designer wardrobe.   Do we associate  each celebration with how much clothes we buy , how many jewellery sets adorned our body and how cool parties we threw ?

Long back while growing up in the ancestral home at Dhanbad , My grandfather had a brigade of servants working at our hotel and the soap factory which my uncle used to run. Deepawali was the time when he used to buy clothes for all the people who used to work for the businesses run by him . He had a big heart and he will treat all the people working for him as his own children . And that’s the reason everyone used to adore him . He was magnanimous and would lend money to anyone in need.

I remember I and my younger brother used to go to school in a rickshaw . The rickshaw puller was Lakhiram and he was like a hanuman , always ready to do anything for my grandfather. He will wash his clothes , clean his  White Ambassador Car . He was the man for every small need he had. But my grandfather always treated him as someone from his own family . We were kids then , mischievous and playing pranks on others. We will always trouble him , pulling his Dhoti , running behind him .

And those days there was no television and no facebook.  Everything was real ,  celebrations were inclusive, bursting crackers , exchanging sweets , getting money from the elders as blessings. The collected money would be pushed inside a Gullak  folded and pleated. Lakhiram had a son Naaru and whenever he visited our home , he was treated as a family member . Even awarded money just like us .

Today Naaru is  married and works for BCCL ( a public sector company) . His children go to school and Naaru lives a  comfortable life , even owning a Car and living life  like a Gentleman. Most of the servants who used to work for my Grandfather are owning shops , working and earning a decent life.  It is only because  he instilled values of Honesty , self respect and the joy of  hard work.

This Deepawali I pay my tribute to my Grandfather , for his values and for his memory and for  all the things  he taught me . As I type this tears swell in my eyes and I miss him dearly . Sometimes growing up is so hard and I wish to be transported in the time machine to be again under his affectionate tutelage.

Love you lots  BABA…..

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Don’t hold , forgive and move on….

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I was having a conversation with my mother and we were talking about an incident which happened with a close friend and this girl is not able to get over that incident. She was very hurt and she keeps thinking about that and not able to come out of it. We tried in many ways to make her understand that there is no point in thinking about something which we cannot control. And She somehow got the point.

And in the morning while going through the emails and my FB page, I came across this quote and I loved it totally . Each word shines like a gold.

Life is challenging and most of the times it never goes the way we would have planned . And  we get offended by people whom we love the most family , friends , spouse , children.

So what should you do ? Do you keep thinking over the spilled milk?

Visualize a very ordinary incident from our day to day life . Its morning time. And your child spilled the glass of milk over the sofa. So, there are two choices either you act as if  nothing happened (eh just frown ) catch the nearest towel and put it over to dry the spilled milk and console your Son , ” Darling its perfectly ok , Mamma is here” . And the sympathetic child smiles back. Yeah you saved yourself two precious hour.

If you would have decided to react. Then the child would have cried for almost an hour , sulking and cribbing. He misses the school bus . And in all these if you would have decided to drop him in the morning Bangalore traffic , your precious morning 2 hours would have gone in jiffy . Not to forget the entire day you would have been lagging back.

Relationships are also like soured milk. If you are guilty , then you should try to reach an amend . Only the brave people has the courage to seek forgiveness. But after the third attempt , if your apology is not accepted , then its time to move on. Forgive them and move on with your life . What you wish for others comes back to you in one form or another. The universe after all echoes our sentiments. As someone has rightly put people who mind does not matter and people who matter will not mind.

A conversation with author Karan Bajaj

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Karan Bajaj is an Indian American author of three contemporary Indian novels, Keep Off the Grass (2008), Johnny Gone Down (2010) and The Seeker (2015). 

Karan  also works as the Chief Marketing Officer of Aden + Anais in New York . His current novel ” The Seeker” has been creating waves all around and has received fabulous response from people. I came in touch with Karan through Facebook and was quite impressed by the genuineness and  positive approach to connect with his readers . I find his 5 minutes video on meditation and some  important aspects of our lives very useful .

In an exclusive conversation here , Karan talks about his inspiration , his books , his writing process , his deep interest in Yoga and also shares some valuable tips with aspiring authors.

Q) How has been the writing process for you? I have watched your few videos and came to know that you took a break for one year to travel and learn yoga. Does this help you to write better?

Yes – absolutely. In 2013, my wife Kerry and I left our jobs and apartment in New York City and embarked on a year-long spiritual and creative sabbatical. First, we went to a Buddhist retreat in the Scottish Highlands, then traveled from Europe to India by road on buses, trains, ferries and hiking with no particular destination in mind, deciding each day where to stop for the night and where to go next. Once in India, we stayed at the Sivananda Ashram in South India and learnt to become Yoga teachers, then lived in the Himalayas, learning meditation and hiking. En-route the U.S, I spent three months in an artist’s residency in Portugal, researching and writing.

Although I’ve been playing with the ideas in The Seeker for many years, the rugged external adventure of Max, the protagonist was largely inspired by this journey. Even the core philosophy of the book changed as my knowledge of Vedanta and Buddhism deepened during the course of this sabbatical. Throughout the journey, I also spent several months of dedicated full-time writing in isolated spots like the Himalayas and a writer’s retreat in Portugal. I had no cell phone or access to internet, and limited contact with people for weeks at a time. I read the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali over and over while writing. Many readers have told me that they’ve experienced a deep sense of calm while reading The Seeker, and I believe that’s related to my state of mind while writing. I was meditating for two hours a day, practicing yoga for an hour a day and writing with no contact with the noisy, chaotic world.

Q) The tagline underneath your website reads Modern life through yogic prism. Don’t you think Modernity and yoga are at loggerheads? How can they complement each other?

The Yoga Sutras say that man’s purpose is first, evolution, then involution: An eagle in perfect rhythm flaps its wings high, then brings them down gracefully. So must we first push ourselves to stretch, grow and experience the world, then detach from it. I think yoga reveals its full glory in the detachment phase but it does teach you a few lessons in the growth phase as well.

Right now, for instance, I’m balancing the role of a writer, a start-up CMO, a husband and a father and yoga gives me a spiritual framework to try to be completely devoid of ego or a sense of self in all my activities. So I wake up and meditate each morning as if it was a part of my routine, like brushing my teeth. At office, I practice karma yoga – doing the best I can for the company without thought of my own selfish interests. I try not to gossip or engage in petty politics. In the evening when I write, once again, I try to write or promote the book or whatever I’m doing with as much selflessness and honesty as I can. This is not to say I’m perfect. I stumble often but at least striving to live with the yogic ideal of complete selflessness allows a daily framework to approach life.

 Q) You have written three books till now, Keep off the grass, Johnny gone down and the latest one “The Seeker”. How different they are from each other? And do you think while writing these books you have evolved as an author or as a person?

The dominant theme that runs through my three books is how ordinary men reveal their full potential when faced with extraordinary circumstances. They’re all characters crying for the infinite in a finite world and pushing the boundaries of their existence in search of greater purpose. So in that sense, they are similar.

But definitely, my goal as a writer is to grow and become better with each book. So in a sense, I think The Seeker combines what’s worked for me in the past with Keep off the Grass and Johnny Gone Down—a thrilling page-turning adventure—with greater depth and meaning. At its surface, The Seeker is an adventure of a banker who goes from the dark underbelly of New York to a world of hidden ashrams and remote caves in India. But what makes it meaningful is the protagonist’s seeking answers to questions that have bothered all of us at some point or the other—why is there so much pain and suffering in the world, what would a modern day version of the Buddha’s classic quest for enlightenment look like and the end of it all, what makes for a meaningful life?

 Q) Your latest book “The Seeker” has been creating quite a buzz. Is it your own autobiography? What was the force behind writing this book?

In a sense, all novels are emotionally autobiographical since the author’s deepest yearnings form the genesis of the character’s motivations. Here too, Max, the protagonist asks many of the meaning-of-life questions that I have wrestled with.

I’ve also walked many of the same roads as the protagonist. I did a yoga teacher training course at an ashram in the south of India, I meditated in silence for weeks, I hiked through storms in the Himalayas and even crossed a glacier barefoot, just as Max did in the story. Every character in the book has the name of a real person I met at some point in the journey. Every place mentioned is a place I physically visited. As they say, fiction is real life without the boring parts!

 Q) Describe your writing process. Do you conceive the story and then work it around or you just go with the flow? Does the story take it over you after a point?

I start with a broad theme which is of great meaning in my life, then wrap it in a pulsating, page-turning story. Once I have that, it’s just a matter of discipline. I write an hour a day when I’m working and four to six hours when I’m not working—and just keep plugging away.

The bedrock of great writing is one’s ability to create a fictive dream so that a reader is transported to the world the author is creating with his or her words. A very rich sense of detail is needed to create this fictive dream. The moment a detail rings false, the fictive dream breaks and the author loses the reader’s attention. For such meticulous detail, you have to research very, very thoroughly and then keep re-writing until you become just a medium for the story to tell itself.  In order to make the beginning of my new novel authentic, for instance, I read more than fifty books on growing up in the housing projects in the US and visited the Bronx again and again until I could see, feel, and smell the danger in the streets. Only then did Max, my protagonist’s, thoughts, feelings, words and actions become his own. And in fact, I was not intending to visit the Himalayas during my sabbatical – but because Max was going to the Himalayas to find a cave for his meditation in the story, I had to change my plans to also go there!

 Q) How important is promotion for an author? There are so many books coming in the market nowadays, do you think the quality of literature has downgraded?

It depends on your objective. If you measure success by how deeply you’ve touched a few lives with your art, then promotion is immaterial. The book finds the reader. In my case, I truly feel The Seeker is my life’s work. The reviews have been incredibly positive as you can see on Amazon, the Internet etc., and people’s lives are being deeply impacted by the book so I want it to reach everyone. As a result, I’m doing as much as I can to promote it.  In the bigger scheme of things, I’ve spent five years writing The Seeker and less than five months promoting it—the quality of literature would be downgraded if it was the reverse!

Q) What will be your advice to the first time authors? Any Do’s and Don’ts for them?

My only advice is to live a big, interesting life, unfettered by the dictates of convention. Ultimately, a great life isn’t dissimilar from a great story—the hero reaches for a lofty, unattainable goal and gives all of himself to achieve it. Sometimes he makes it, sometimes he doesn’t but at-least he lives a life of meaning because he’s in pursuit of that big goal. The more you do so in real life, the better your stories.

I have also shared 7 Things I’ve Learned in 7 Years of Writing on my blog – your readers might like to check that out too!from a great story—the hero reaches for a lofty, unattainable goal and gives all of himself to achieve it. Sometimes he makes it, sometimes he doesn’t but at-least he lives a life of meaning because he’s in pursuit of that big goal. The more you do so in real life, the better your stories.

I have also shared 7 Things I’ve Learned in 7 Years of Writing on my blog – your readers might like to check that out too!

Thank you Karan for your valuable time. It was such an honor to host you at my blog and it was such an enriching conversation. To know more about Karan Bajaj , visit his website http://www.karanbajaj.com/

Books are my soul and I love reading all genres of work .My blog A Creative Bay welcomes new authors for interviews and critique.I truly believe constructive criticism gives an author new wings for uncharted territories. For getting your work reviewed or for interviews connect with me at my Fb page https://www.facebook.com/ACreativeBay or send an email at reach.shwetaa@gmail.com