SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Sunday, January 30, 2011

the flight

This one is for you sowms!!

You gave her wings

Wings of understanding,

she took flight

soaring high above,

feeling the rush of happiness

the touch of love.

beyond words

above reason

moments of ecstasy

a glimpse of paradise.

within her

she feels that presence

she is he

and they are one.



deeper they travel

nothing holds them together

nothing can tear them apart

invisible threads of understanding

binding their hearts

love like no other soars

unsaid thoughts realised

un-thought words felt

real and unreal merge

creating a space

for togetherness

earth holds no bird

that destiny chooses to fly

on wings of love and understanding.

Friday, January 28, 2011

translating thought to action

It’s only when our thoughts translate into actions that we reach out of ourselves and impact the life of another. (courtesy: The Art of Non Conformity)

How many times have you thought, you would contact a friend, and then never did it...or shall I say, postponed it...till date?

How many of us have wanted to buy a gift for someone close( a friend, a neighbour..why even our spouse?), and then find we don't have enough time, the occasion passes by, or even...that the person passes by?

How many of us have consciously reconnected with all that is important to us?

How many of us truly appreciate the little things done for us and to us?

And how many of us have translated that appreciation into action, rather than keep it safe within us as a word or a thought?

We need to create a space for ourselves where our actions impact the other. If this does not exist then there is no relationship.

We need to acknowledge the abundance around us and be present to the reality of all that nature has provided us

We need to open ourselves to honesty, freedom and true self expression

Acknowledging people in our lives is one of the least rated activities....
We may appreciate things they buy us or even things that they do for us.


How many of us can genuinely go to each and every person in our life and tell them:
I am grateful for who you are in my life...
Thank You for being you, and being You with me....

We don't realise that any relationship, be it bad, good, negative, positive is what shapes us into who and what we are at the present moment.

The meaning we attach to these relationships is of course the value judgements that We make and subsequently that is what determines the quality of life we choose to create for ourselves...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

the fall

she falls....

into that chasm

heads down


no sound can you hear

she spirals...

into that shaft

eyes open


images flash by

she spins...

into that void

pores tingling


too fast to feel

she crashes.

pieces of her scatter

her body lies here

but her soul is over there

and her heart is elsewhere

can she be this way?

a shatter

a scatter


fragile and fake.

she lies there


pinned down.

till they all come together

there may be no flight.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A story helps us...

This is a small childhood incident, but its impact is felt by me even today. The purpose of this incident is served today as I choose to tell my daughter the same anecdote when she faces a similar situation...hoping that the learning I did not gain, she does get...

I was in 7th standard, and my language skills were average and nothing very significant. B grade student. In my mind I was being compared to my sister who was 2 classes senior to me, and a more creative and talented writer according to the general feedback from teachers.

There was this one story completion exercise that I did for a creative writing essay, for which the teacher gave me an A grade( my first). I was ecstatic. Yet the teacher when handing over my book said: " I hope this is your original work and you have not copied it"

The impact of this was multi fold:
I could never write again without feeling I am copying some one else's' idea...
Original and creative took a different meaning, as I thought being original was this magical land where I could/would never get entry...
I decided I was a poor writer...
I would always confess I could not write and ask people to go to my sister for any such help...

A small event but a large impact...

My daughter wants to be selected for an elocution contest,for which she has prepared well; she even presented it to the teacher...
Yet she is not given the opportunity to perform because:
The other student is more experienced
There is no time to coach my daughter (the teacher has no time to work on my daughter's delivery...they want a processed, ready to serve meal...we are in times of Fast Food...)
My daughter's other imperfections cloud their decision making...

She came to me with tears...

I thought of my incident immediately...and how I had let a simple statement of that English teacher impact me for life...yet find myself writing and expressing myself in written form prolifically now...

Interest and Intent is not valued I have said before
Performance and perfection is all pervasive..

Yet there is a readiness in my daughter, a willingness to learn and do, that is not being appreciated. Words are used woundingly and unthinkingly on children...

I assured her, that the teacher is making a value based judgement, and is also biased by a lack of vision. She needed to go back to her and present herself again as a keen and interested speaker, and if not this time, get a promise that the next time she would be given a chance...
I told her my incident and how I had allowed those words to erode my confidence, yet it need not be the case with her...

So typical of her; she in turn told me a story...
... of a king who is looking for a sculptor to do a grand job for his palace, 2 sculptors approach him. The king looks at them, one is well dressed and well kept, while the other has straggly hair, and deep/ dark eyes. He decides to go for the neat guy...only to find his work is very slipshod and uninspiring. When he visits the other sculptors workshop, he sees some wonderful murals and art work...The king realises that appearances can be deceptive, and only when we give a chance and encourage ourselves to see positive in the other person, can we truly understand the true nature of things....( similar to don't judge a book by its cover!!)

( This is a story she has read, and not told by me)

My wonderful girl has learnt an important lesson yesterday, and I hope she is talking and marketing herself today in school as I write this, without letting another's judgement undermine her confidence...

I will know when she gets back...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chennai in transformation

Childhood memories apart; the city that I have lived in as a child, a teen, and an always the quintessential Madras to me...

Last week a friend of mine returned from Chennai to Bangalore, and I asked her toddlers in a voice loaded with interest...
"So how was Madras?"
pat came the reply from my friend,
"They dont know Madras, they know only Chennai"

I took a double take.

Its not the first time I have had to correct myself, both verbally and mentally. But this was the first time I have had to do it so unconsciously. Those born into the city called Madras find it quite difficult to call it by any other name.

My so called roots. I have mixed reactions about the city, bitter sweet memories.
I know no other city culturally and I believe I am both a spectator and a participant to the transformation that I see in it.

The beach:
Elliots beach is where I grew up. It is located very close to where my parents live and subsequently my in laws.
The sea answers an internal rhythm within me, and just staring at its myriad hues stretching before me shows me a glimpse of eternity and the nothingness that we are. The same feel when I stare into space.

(So you know, I do a fair amount of staring when I am alone!! )

Leaving the metaphors and magic aside, when I saw Elliots this time I was almost retching at the ghastly sight of filth, human discard and disregard.

I have a habit of walking on the beach when I am in chennai, be it Elliots when I am with In-laws or Marina when I am with sister. Post Kaanum Pongal, it was appalling to see the way people had trashed the beach. I pity the residents. Noise is one factor, but the amount of refuse and waste just left lying there is impermissible.

Why People Why??

Fun comes with responsibility. I come away this time with a very sad feeling and wonder why we don't we have have campaigns and conferences on keeping our city clean; before, rather than just cleaning up after the mess is done.

(Sadly Indians never take ownership of the crap we leave behind, or create)

I am told this is a yearly feature, which saddens me even more. I would expect that a system for trash disposal would exist by now...


I am not a "Malling" person. Basically I am a snob to capitalism and materialism, not that I don't have desires and don't buy stuff. Yet I look at luxury as a synonym to comfort, and believe in owning/ buying what I require to make myself comfortable. Nothing more, nothing less. (What would communists call malls??)

I visited one in Chennai.

Why go to Chennai to see a mall?
a) some things are better done with company and Chennai is loaded with a family who enjoy malls
b) Because it's an all encompassing fun indoor thing to do, shopping, movie, play, food...
c) Children have space to play in special areas designated and designed for them
d) Food is multi- cuisine and caters to all palates.

It was amazing. Sunday evening at a mall, is like going to the local festival/ mela sans the religious feel.
People from all walks hanging out together, eating, talking, playing, sitting, standing, shopping, window shopping...
People of all age groups, young children arms locked with each other busy chatting or texting.
Families in droves accompanied by the tiniest infant all swaddled in blankets, to teens, looking greedily at all the contraptions, deciding which ones they wanted to ride/ play.
Elderly couples strolling through the chaos, observing, some smiling, some grim faced. Accompanying their kin out of compulsion...or a desire.(A desire to see and experience this chaos, to know what the present is doing in this multiple, multi sensorial,super-stimulating environment.)
Couples, young and old, loosing themselves in this ocean, finding privacy in public.
Newly marrieds, un-marrieds, individuals, groups, men, women, children...

I come away feeling malls are social events in our lives. Happening every day, any one and every one is welcome for a price, we all get to party...
Yet I would like a quiet space within this chaos, a library maybe (I haven't seen one library in any mall), where children at least get to see that being by yourself and doing things quietly can also be infra dig.
(Please don't get me wrong, I like my partying and shouting and fun, but the other side exists too isn't it?)

These are but two places that I drowned myself in to capture the feeling of how the city has transformed...

I also did see many new public spaces around Chennai, new parks, and fountains. Wonderful frescoes along the roads, on walls that speak of Tamil stories and monuments. Quickly the roads have expanded, flyovers that have risen in a blink, metro trains that run, bus service that still carries on efficiently, transporting its faithful.

I can also see how people have taken to the changes very rapidly. Changes in clothing styles, hair fashion, accessories. In spite, the Kanjeevarams, the gold, and malli poo still retains its traditional flavour.

Chennai: Singara Chennai, your way is rapidly evolving the way million other cities grow.
As you discard old fashioned archetypes you hungrily ingest new and futuristic façades, to mark the beginning of a new decade.

I wait eagerly to see the complete transformation!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

where we meet

Are you on that train?
Rushing by.
Moving so fast
I can scarcely see.

The sounds and sights
Wooshing by
I look on
A silent spectator.

I strain and stretch
To catch glimpses
Of you
As it flashes by.

I wave, I smile
I sigh, I cry
I am here
but you go there.

I know my thoughts
But know not yours
Where is the time?
to stop and share

I too move on
On wheels
That seem so slow
Almost surreal.

Memories and moments
roll by me
As I pick and choose some
to cherish and see

We know not
where we meet

If we will
It may not be here...or there
Or it could well be nowhere

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Humming Bee in the house....

I must thank Anu for putting me on to this blog....

It is fascinating as a mother to read another mother's journey. While my children were very small, I felt disconnected and so lost from the outside world. It is only in the past 5 years that blogging and internet has opened up such wonderful sharing. At the click of a mouse I am in someone's head, actually experiencing and listening to their thoughts....

This particular blog is by a mother who is parenting 2 gifted children. Surely she must be gifted. Her latest post triggered my thoughts today. She talks about her son's journey into the musical world, his forays into composing and the happiness he gets from it...

In a different way but somewhat similar way I too have a story to share...

I was a special educator while expecting my first child....(that was my avatar before this new one of a storyteller!). So you can imagine, I had severe pre-conceived notions and ideas of what was best for the growing baby in my tummy!

I had it in me that the baby should be exposed to Music! So morning was MS with Suprabhatham and Meera Bhajans, and evenings were country music/ rock, courtesy husband!
I would ( and I am not kidding) visualise the neurons in my growing foetus actually branching out as it responded to all that music!

Baby was born...
Reality hit me...

Yet my unwavering faith in music held on. She and I would listen to Ambika Kameshwar songs on cassettes. For those who don't know, these cassettes were de-rigeur where I worked as a special educator and are nursery rhymes in Tamil sung with a classical touch! Does it get any better??!!
Of course all this music was always interspersed with Country/ Western/ Rock music over the years, all thanks to a partner who loves his music with a passion( we are into Jazz now).

Now the foetus-infant-toddler-child is all grown up. Her journey with music continues. The first formal musical experience she had was at 4 and half, when I packed her off to Paattu Class , much to some people's disapproval. I was told not to push her, that she was too young, etc, etc...I know sometimes we mother's may appear to be this bossy, domineering, pushy types, but then there is something else that drives a mother, and that is Instinct.
Something told me she was ready...

We moved to Bangalore, and again I itched to start classes. I could teach her, but I am not a very disciplined or consistent person, so I refrained from any antics like this.
Proximity, sent us to a teacher. Though she sang amazingly, I realise not everyone is a good teacher...we hung on for a year...and then we quit by popular demand...because the teacher had raced her through the lessons and we reached Varnams in less than a year...phew...that was a supersonic jet!!

Internet had arrived in our home...and most importantly, I was connected. Google helped and we soon found an amazing Teacher, who "voice tested her" and she was "In"!!

The teacher was fantastic and the grown up child blossomed. Soon every one commented on how her voice had matured, her singing had matured...

We moved to Kanpur...

Hindustan music flooded our house, as I found a master to come home to teach both the children, Casio(a substitute for Harmonium) and Tabla...

It was not an easy experience, quality and excellence is the price to pay when you compromise. The master made house-callls, and that was the only good thing about the entire experience...
The younger brat quit before I could bat an eyelid. The older one protested but enjoyed the tabla sessions and substituted the pain with a bit of pleasure there...

I learnt...not to quit if it does not feel right...

We came back to Bangalore...

We went back to our amazing music teacher. Lot of unlearning and relearning...hard work...almost daily classes...

The fruits of this labour?...

Within 3 months, she sings on stage with her group...and her efforts are appreciated by her teacher who does not compliment unnecessarily...

That's one golden star!!

(As always the best is for the last, isn't it?)

The crowning moment at this point for her is this:

The Star Super Singer tells me, she was asked to teach 3rd grade students a song for their group song competition. She did. Balancing her Lunch break time for that( they don't get time off from class for teaching!!)

And she has not stopped feeling absolutely delighted that they won first prize!!

I really don't know whether I am pushy as a mother on this. I really have had to keep her going, especially when in between she had to take all those extra classes to catch up. She gets discouraged when the Teacher scolds her for not practicing. Then I have to tell her, if she did not have potential her teacher would not be investing so much effort and time on her, blah, blah and blah...

But one thing I is in her blood (thanks maybe to all those neuronal firing in the foetus??!!)
She is a "Hummer"...There is always a tune in her voice, a hum on her lips, and a song in her mind...I know, because non stop BGM (back ground music) is how the house exists when she is around...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Compassion Unlimited

A very disturbing thing to watch....
A minuscule event in the microcosm I live doubt
But its impact reverberates around me...remember how those shock waves are shown lapping out, surging out from an atomic bomb? Something similar.

The scene
Three of us in the car. I am driving, one Pattani next to me, always. That seat is reserved for him...kind of bossy, I know, but the other Pattani does not mind...

Then I see it...
A poor Rat right in the middle of the road writhing in pain, in the midst of all that traffic zooming past it. The obvious had happened. An innocent soul had come under tyres, and it was agonising to glimpse that pain even for that fraction of a second...
"Acho paavum", I reacted immediately ( Oh so sad)
"Enna achu amma" asked the senior Pattani ( what happened?)
" I saw a Rat on the road, writhing in pain di"
" Say sorry Amma"
" But it was not our car di"

Compassion, empathy is learnt from a 10 year old

I was defensive in my retort, but it hit me almost immediately.
Does it matter that I did not cause that harm?

I apologised aloud.

'Sorry Rat'

Then mentally I said sorry to all those creatures in this world, that suffer a similar fate. All those cockroaches, insects, mosquitoes, bacterium, viruses...
I know I may appear to be slightly overdoing things...
But just pause to think, every living thing is only doing what it is meant to do...Being...Living...
Once it is born into this world, every living thing has only one sole purpose and that is to be...
We as humans have acquired a larger than life value for ourselves; that only our existence is of primary importance over and above all other living things; that it is only our right, that it is only our fundamental core...

The rat that I saw was only living and being, and in the course of its life it got run over...fine....
Yet there are many creatures that are living and being and we consciously destroy them with no regard for their existence or their being...

Some we consider as pests...true...
Some we do for pleasure...true...
Some happens by accident...true...
Some happens through premeditation...true...
Some we need to for the harm they cause us outweighs all other reasons to allow them to exist...true...

I take this time to sincerely apologise to every creature that I have harmed....mosquitoes, rats, insects, worms, frogs...
I take this time to sincerely apologise to all those creatures that as a humanity we harm...tigers, lions, snakes, dogs, many more I don't name

I am sorry that I think my existence is far more important than yours, yet Now I know from the heart of a 10 year old that we all are only Being what we have been created for...and I apologise to all or any being that I have consciously or unconsciously harmed...

Thank You sweetie for making me aware...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tennis Tattles

I feel so children have joined Tennis classes...

It went this way:
I've been looking for some activity that would inspire them and kick them off their respective posteriors parked in front of the idiot box.
We tried drawing classes, but that's a skill you can actually develop while cosily lounging on your own bed, in your own house and at your own leisure...unless the drawing teacher is really fun, and is showing you some really creative stuff....
But what we got was pages of pattern drawing, that got a good, a tick or a star. Kind of getting where I am going?....
Yep we had to let that down the drain...but to my defence we managed 6 classes out of the registered 8, so its not all that much.

Then comes my favourite point of view that learning a sport is extremely useful for children. Was contemplating Tennis and Badminton...weighing them, when we found this academy for federers and sanias...
Coach: Tall, friendly guy from namma Tamilnadu...Madurai tobe precise, so immediate bonding...that's a first for me...because, I never find fellow Tamilians actually happy to see fellow Tamilians...there is always a frisson of competition and one up-man ship( a sizing up is more accurate if I may say so)...but then you would point out that in this case we share a coach/ trainee-mother relationship, he is male and most importantly he means Business!

Venue: About 20 minutes from where I stay. So that implies, chauffeur services thrice a week to be provided by moi...ok...I don’t want to...I would rather children go to a place they can just walk down...greedy...lazy...I know...yet I can make this worthwhile...I have decided to spend that one hour reading a book, while they hang out on the court...

Coaching: My two Pattanis trotted off, as excited as I was for them to be on court and do all those Tennissy things...vicarious pleasure I assure you...kind of deep seated desire to be a tennis change that to a desire to mother one!!!

Book open; reading and catching glimpses of the twosome running here and there, gathering balls, playing some kind of warm up games...
Slight nip in the air, pull my jacket closer, look up to ensure no crow is planning to do its thing on me (was seated under a tree...just to give you a clear picture!), it's around 5 in the evening...

then I hear some amazing snippets...
" my son is very childish"
" he has to concentrate, pay more attention to the game"
" go back in there Beta, otherwise I will call Papa and tell him to stop your classes"
" I don't know why he is like this today...just doesn't want to practice"

sorry....nothing derogatory here...but...

Can we not just let them be...children are children...every day is different...let them enjoy what they do...if they don't and things really get tiring for them...let them try something else...

I am no different from anyone...and can just see how I would and could push my children if I really wanted...but only when I took the third person perspective I realise...

Lets is Fun...Lets just play Tennis ( and anything or everything you fancy...and can afford!!)....and not bother about excelling all the time...
Have a great day folks!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

things that get my goat around the house

As an endeavour to clear the upper storey and all other storeys between I have compiled a list of things that get my goat around the house.
Feel free to add to it...

I don't have any idea what I plan to do with it, just keep it I guess...
Or I may use it to rethink and rework what I need to do with it....!

I was a pretty mild woman growing up, but then something called "M" happened and things did a spiral from then. You can assume this M stands for can also assume it stands for Motherhood...and you can rightfully assume it also stands for all the Madness that I inherited by virtue of just being born!!!

Things that get my goat around the house:
( As I am a student of science, this need to number and label lies very deep in my soul...almost engraved...I guess if I was able to I would probably draw diagrams!!)

1) Sketch pens that lie opened ...on the bed:
I go berserk to find opened pens lying on a beautiful pale bedspread, spreading its ink and lustre on the surface. Making me despair how the hell I am going to remove that...

2) Books, pens, paper( cut up: itsy bitsy sized), pieces of clothing, lying on the floor... and treated like they belong there and can never be in any other elevated status, in spite of many many racks and tables lying around the room....

3) Newspaper that lies forgotten on the carpet, waiting for its ghostly reader to pick it up at any moment and browse through and forlorn...can we not at least fold it back?

4) Here is a yucky one...dirty bathroom floors...I don't even want to expand on goes against my delicate sensibilities!!!( in spite of 3 years in NCC, I have grown into this super snob for cleanliness)

5) Wet, wet towels lying plonk on the pillow, or the bed

6) Squished up clothes, rolled up and jammed into the cupboard...I set it right( mine included), and I get the comment: why do it, when it is going to be messed up anyways!!...any answers to that?!

7) Freshly laundered clothes waiting to be folded on the bed, children sleep on top of that....may deign to push it aside at His credit, he has started folding clothes that he sees on the bed....that's because we are doing this season without a maid!

8) Every occupant assumes that I and only I know where things are kept, and I will produce it magically the moment they ask for it...Where is this?....Where is that?...Did you see my---?...Have you seen the---?...I can't find my---?and when I protest( not mildly mind you), they accuse me( yes accuse me) of being the neatness freak and if I had left things in their original place (which might as well be, middle of the floor), then they would/could find it!

9) You know some very common stuff, used plates and glasses in the drawing room

10) Finally, and not because this is the last item, but as I am now feeling ashamed with myself and my peeves, which seems childish and Oh so common...what gets my goat, is when after a decade of struggling, my partner finally started using a cell phone, but only remembers to leave it back home, almost every other day....cause he neither likes to receive calls, nor does he likes to make them...unless official/emergency!!...but again to his credit, he doesn't fail to apologise now, when he does forget...

I furtively sign off here, cause things can get pretty sticky....cribs are a plenty isn't it around the house?

Add yours...I wont blab!!