Learning to let go

As our lives get busier and more hectic, other things take precedence over relationships. While I have almost always relegated time spent with relatives to the backburner, I now find myself spending less and less time keeping in touch with friends. As the demands on my time increase, I’m pulling more into myself. All my walls have gone up…exchanges with people seem more like a collission. And this is leading to the relationship I care most about suffering the most.

We are both in a race against time, our days crammed full of work, with together time relegated to the backseat. It’s a situation that will last for some time into the foresaable future. Instead of trying to fight it, I have to learn to accept it…to learn to let go when necessary so that I can enjoy the limited time that we do have together.

One of my favorite postsecrets says it beautifully…

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The war on Mumbai

On 26 November, terrorists struck India’s financial capital — Mumbai — in one of the most brazen attacks ever seen in India. They entered the city through the sea route, striking at the Victoria Terminus, Leopold Cafe, and Cama Hospital first. In this first strike, the nation lost three of its best police officers — Anti-terrorism squad chief Hemant Karkare, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte.

The terrorists then proceeded to take two high-profile hotels — the iconic Taj Mahal hotel and the Oberoi-Trident — and Nariman House (also known as Chabad House) hostage. The siege, which lasted almost 60 hours, claimed the life of the rabbi and his wife, leaving their young son an orphan.

This latest and most brazen attack, which the media dubbed India’s 9/11, has horrified the nation. For three days Indians sat glued to their television, in mute horror, watching the drama unfold on television. We watched, helpless, as the terrorists set fire to the heritage Taj Mahal hotel, we cringed as we heard gun shots and grenade blasts ring out, we watched with bated breath as NSG commandoes engaged the terrorists, and we cried when we heard about the number of hostages who are killed, and as we saw some hostages released. Once it was all over, though, we became a nation angry. This time we will not call upon “the spirit of Mumbai.” This time we want to see political action. Platitudes will not work anymore.

But, this is India.

Politicization of the attack

On day 1 of the attack, leader of the opposition L.K. Advani said he would work together with the UPA government and not use this event as a political campaign point. The next day, he forgot all about his promise and the BJP released full page color ads politicizing the issue. Its leaders like Rajasthan CM Vasundhra Raje are using the Mumbai siege as a topic to gain political mileage.

Then we have other politicians that give a gem of a soundbyte. Sample this:

Some women wearing lipstick and powder have taken to streets in Mumbai and are abusing politicians spreading dissatisfaction against democracy. This is what terrorists are doing in Jammu and Kashmir. These are difficult times for the nation. In times like this we should unite in our war against terror and the Pak sponsored attacks rather than waging war against the democratic institutions.

This, gem of a quote was given by the BJP’s Mukhtar Naqvi, his view of the candle light vigils being held in Mumbai and elsewhere around the country condeming the terror attack.

Weak-kneed response

PM Manmohan Singh called for Pakistan to send ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha to New Delhi to present him with hard evidence about the involvement of Pakistani elements, including Lashkar-e Toiba (LeT) terrorists, in the Mumbai strike. After agreeing initially, Pakistan refused to send his over. Now, Zardari is saying that there is no evidence that the terrorists were Pakistanis, and even if they were, they are stateless elements and Pakistan can do nothing about it. This, despite India having given them evidence of ISI involvement in the attack. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to India was also make to placate India and to ensure that we do not take military action against Pakistan. If we do, their war on terror will be affected, as they are using that country as the base from which to launch attacks on Afghanistan.

Intelligence failure

The attacks also point to a total intelligence failure, with agencies initially claiming they had no evidence about the attacks. Later, though, it became apparent that they simply ignored the evidence that they did get. Fishermen had submitted written letters stating there was suspicious activity at ports. Fishermen in Gujarat also reported that Indian trawlers were crossing over into Pakistani waters, meeting trawlers there, and coming back into Indian waters without being arrested. After repeated requests to improve safety at the Gateway of India, stating the sea route could be used for an attack, one police van and two policemen were stationed in the area. On the day of the attack, this motley security was also missing.

All of this points to the fact that this attack couldnt have been carried out without political sanction. This is not to say that the politicians were involved in it, but just that they chose to ignore warning signs and ensure the saftey of civilians. The reason? Simple. Political gains.

Hostage stories

One of the stories that really stayed with me was related by a foreign couple who had come to India on a 1-month holiday. They were happy to be safe, praised the commandoes, and said that they had no plans to cut their trip short. Though the wife got teary while relating their terror while they were held hostage, her husband said that this episode would just serve as a road bump to their plans, they did not plan to give in to fear.

You cannot give into fear, or you let the terrorists win. When they are holding a gun to your head, that is the time to feel fear. But to let fear rule your life is to let them win. And I will not let that happen.

Isn’t this the mantra to live by?

The beauty of a wedding…

…lies in its simplicity.

I was at a very good friend’s wedding this weekend. She had decided to have a small wedding at her house, with just about 35 – 40 people in attednace — a real rarity for an Indian wedding! Her reasoning — a wedding is actually a relegious ceremony, and a sacred one at that. So she wanted to be surrounded by people who love her and who she loves back, where the wedding rituals are the focus, not food and drinks for the guests. This truly was one wedding that I enjoyed and felt happy being a part of — happy for her, of course, and to be able to focus on the rituals, which is the real fun of a wedding, instead of being constantly bothered about being over or under dressed!

Another thing that probably added to the enjoyment at the wedding was that my friend’s best friend, who is based in the US, had brought along a colleague with him. Explaining the rituals and significance behind all the rituals to her got me even more into the wedding mood, probably because it highlighted the sanctity of the ceremonies and vows. And of course, I was glad to know that I know so much about wedding ceremonies and Indian relegion and mythology — I guess you never really know the extent of your knowledge until you are called upon to use it!

My new passion: photography

For about 4 weeks running, I’ve had at least one of my photographs adjudged the Best Photograph of the Week at the photography hobby club @ work! It’s so exciting!! Here are a few of my winning pictures!

The Kali controversy

Two days back Heidi Klum’s picture was splashed in the newspapers — and she looked absolutely terrifying! It was her Halloween get-up as Goddess Kali. And boy! It was stunning! She looked, exactly, like Kali, right down to the scary red eye make-up!

But, as usual, some people have raked up a controversy over it. Sample this:

Goddess Kali is highly revered in Hinduism and she is meant to be worshipped in temples and not to be used in clubs for publicity stunts or thrown around loosely for dramatic effects

this is offensive, to the Hindu community. I know many other people who would also agree. There may be other things to worry about, but for the Hindu community, retaining self respect and upholding our traditional values is of utpmost importance to us.

my reason for finding offence in the ‘counting of arms’s is quite simply the fact that people are ignoring the issue that she has in fact dressed up as Hindu Goddess and insulting the Hindu community at the same time. I am quite surprised, however that you now admit that you are a Hindu, and find no offence in this matter.

I’m a Hindu and I really DO NOT find it offensive. What I DO find offensive, however, is how her dressing up as Kali is being blown out of proportion. So OK, we worship Kali. And yes, she is an important Hindu deity. But for heaven’s sakes! Why do we get so worked up and ready to froth at the mouth over relegion?! Why can’t we take some things in the spirit in which they are ment to be taken?

What we should be up in arms against is the terrorist activities being carried out by the VHP and Bajrang Dal. They are the real blight to our relegion, which is supposed to be open and tolerant, not closed and fundamentalist.

Be the change…

…and he was! Barack Obama has made history by becoming the first African American president of the United States of America. This was a closely watched election around the world (the US election generally is!), but what was different this time was the spontaneous erruption of joy the world over and a feeling of having achieved something! A change is truly coming.

But why, for someone sitting in India, should this be such a magical moment? Maybe it’s the interconnectedness of human beings, maybe it’s joy at seeing the rise of a historically opressed race…maybe, it gives a glimmer of hope that something similar could happen here, some day.

While we all followed the US presidential campaign and watched the US elections, the fact of the matter is that for most youngsters in India, elections in our country hold absolutely no charm. I was discussing this with some friends over lunch yesterday, and we came to a few conclusions.

The US system is, in some ways, really simple. There are just two majour parties and two major canditates to vote for. Election manifestos are available and accessable to the general public, and most of what they talk about during the rallies seems relevant to the nation as a whole, unlike here, where vote bank politics rules the roost. The candidates, typically, are people you would want to see as leaders, who you could put your faith in — Obama this time, Al Gore during the last presidential election — whereas here, we really couldn’t care less. We have old foggies like Mr. Advani as PM hopeful — and he’s in his 90s! People in the US actually queue up and cast their vote! We take election day as a holiday, the perfect time to sleep-in late! But then, look at our choices!

We have no faith in the system, things aren’t going to change. Even if there are a few politicians willing to bring about a change (Rahul Gandhi seems to be doing quite a bit these days), most of the old guard and the old parties are not going to let them function. We have a huge number of political parties here, none of whom we have any faith in! There’s the Congress, which was famous for the Mandal Commission, and now is known for its sectarian politics. The BJP is blatantly pro-Hindutva — they still field and respect Naredra Modi after the Gujrat carnage! The Left is against technology and progress. The BSP is Mayawati. I’m not entirely sure why people are against her, though. She’s the Obama of India, a Dalit who is a PM hopeful. Yes, she has got corruption cases against her, but then, which politician doesn’t? And she has done a lot for the Dalits. She is someone I don’t know too much about, but there seems to be no support for her either.

Unless there are some changes to our political system and to our politicians sometime soon, I don’t think we’re going to see the youth or the young professionals turning out to vote. I know I wouldnt! I simply couldn’t care less!

Beautiful Lansdowne

During the recent (ok, beginning of the month!) long dussera weekend, we drove down to Lansdowne, a small hill station in Uttaranchal. I was initially really excited about making the trip, but then a lot of people psyched me out, saying there’s nothing to do there!

We spent 3 nights/4 days at Lansdowne (of which we had 2 full days to roam around), and I’m already planning my next trip to the place, it’s that pretty. As for having nothing to do there…well, if your idea of holiday fun is walking along Mussorie’s crowded mall road, this place isn’t for you. However, if you love nature, you’ll fall in love with tiny Lansdowne.Continue reading

Beware what you wish for?

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Image via Wikipedia

The Secret has become a “new age” phenomenon, and as all things that get extremely popular, has also drawn a lot of criticism, chief being that the book is all a sham and that things don’t work the way Rhonda Byrne claims they do.

I received the following forward from a friend, asking me my views on what was said in an article titled Beware what you wish for (pasted below).

Have you heard about “The Secret?” It’s a new DVD which has become a phenomenon of what is called “viral marketing,” i.e., being passed along from friend-to-friend. It’s been on the news, it’s been on Oprah, it’s become a thing of the tinsel-town elite. What is the “The Secret?” It’s a technique which the “spiritual personalities” on the video guarantee will bring you wealth, friends, happiness, power and practically anything you desire. Obviously, it’s caught on. Especially with the unwary. Particularly with those who want something they haven’t earned.

The Secret is actually old wine in a new bottle. You have known it previously as the “Power of Positive Thinking,” “Think and grow Rich,” Nichiren shoshu chants, the song “Wishing will make it so” and even Haitian Voodoo practices. In simple language it tells you that you can have anything you want if you think about it constantly while visualizing what it is you want in your thoughts. Well, sorry, Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill got there first–-not to mention the black priesthood from Alantean times.

Does The Secret work? Yes, it does. And that’s just the problem. It’s why we have this delicious little saying, “Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.” Remember that. It’s true. Think on it.

There is a reason that Jesus said, “Your needs are known” and that great spiritual leaders have all said that we should be desire-less. There is a reason that people say, “The Universe will provide.” You should be aware that the “spiritual personalities” and the “New Age Churches” touting this so-called “secret” know nothing of real spiritual laws and are all out for the buck.

When you wish, desire, chant for, focus your thought on and visualize that which you think you desire, you make a karmic demand on the Spiritual Ether. Your demand disturbs the Ether just like a boat plowing through the sea and if you get what you desire (the question is always “when”) it will definitely have a price. It will exact something from you that you cherish or else you will soon lose it and much more. This is that part of The Law they don’t tell you about because they don’t know or understand it.

There is a story of the woman who wished for a white Cadillac in her garage. Her husband lost his job and they had to move and the people who moved in had a white Cadillac. Another story is that of the New York society matron who wished for a mink coat. She got it and her husband was immediately transferred to Egypt. Need I say more?

Oh yeah, they say this is white magic and you can use it to wish for peace and for healing and all that. Doesn’t matter. There is a principle involved here. It’s called the “Rebound Blow.” Just as a rifle kicks back when it’s fired and a balloon goes forward when air escapes from the other end, the rebound blow comes into play when you send out a forced desire for something.

The way this aspect of The Law is best explained is in that phrase from the Teachings of the Temple by Master Hilarion. He says, “Each step of good opens up a like return force of evil.” This is the rebound blow. Send out positive and you can expect negative in return. When you disturb the ether with the force of your desire that magnetism of that energy will circle around and hit you from behind with its reverse force. This means that if you have made a step upwards toward the good, the rebound blow will try to knock you back down again. And it will if you have not prepared for it.

CAVEAT: YOU CANNOT HAVE AND KEEP ANYTHING YOU HAVE NOT EARNED!

Say you want to stop smoking. The energy put into quitting will circle around and hit you at a later date with a reverse force that will make you want a cigarette badly. If you’ve ever smoked and tried to quit, you know this is the truth! That force will be equal to the force you set in motion. If you give in, you’ve lost. If you can summon a greater force and not give in, then each time that force circles around, its energy will be less and less, decreasing until it’s gone and you are free of the bondage.

If you focus on something that disturbs the Ether, you will surely get the rebound blow. That’s Karma. There is a way to wish for something and protect yourself at the same time, however. Go ahead, wish for anything you want, but at the end of the wish, just add, “Only if it is my Karma to have this.” Now you’re off the hook. But then, why go through the process in the first place!

Know that the more visualization and psychic force you put into a selfish desire, the greater will be the rebound blow. Here’s the kicker. If you receive that which you so greatly desire, something of equal value will be taken from you. Your stocks may decrease in value; you may develop a sickness; you may lose your job. Whatever force you put into your desire, Karma will seek recompense. That is The Law. The whole object is to develop a pure heart and use it to perform unselfish acts. Then Karma will bring you what you need. But you have to TRUST that!

Do yourself a favor. Desire wisdom. It’s the only thing you can take with you when you leave. Remember the Law of Karma: you cannot keep anything you haven’t earned.

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Here’s what I think:

This is an interesting article, but a lot of the reasoning is flawed.

The Secret basically explains the Law of Manifestation, which I had read about extensively, long before this book became such a big phenomenon. First, the reason for the book becoming a phenomenon (in my view) is that it breaks the law down and makes it easy to understand (it also over-simplifies the “law”), and gives people a step-by-step on how to use the law. The author got the basis for this book from The Science of Getting Rich, which was written in the 1800s, I think. So, this is a very old, universal law.

Why I say The Secret over-simplifies the law is because I really don’t think you can think yourself into being thin, for example, something that has been mentioned in the book! But if you think about it, your thoughts do have an impact on your environment and surroundings. When you look at a situation negatively, it can overwhelm you; but if you detach yourself a bit and look at it from the perspective of learning something from it, the situation isn’t as overwhelming anymore. Which is part of the reason why we can look back at certain events and laugh over them in hindsight.

Having said that, here’s what I think about the basic premise of this article: “Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.”

Well, what would be so bad about getting “it”? It could just be that when you get “it”, you realize fully that there is a trade-off involved. BUT, the trade-off does not come from the “answer to your wish,” it comes from the choice that you made when you “wished” for that something. For example, if you wish for a Hummer and you get it, you then fully realize the cost of maintaining and running it! But, it was your choice, and you have to deal with the consequences of your choice.

As for sending out a “demand from the Spiritual Ether” that will apparently have “an equal and opposite effect,” don’t you think that’s a bit too doomsdayish? I mean please! The woman who wished for a mink coat, only to get it and then have her husband get transferred to Egypt reeks of chain mails — forward this and something good will happen in 10 days, don’t forward it and you’ll have misfortune for 7 years!

And when great spiritual leaders say we should be desire-less, it has more to do with the philosophy of a religious/spiritual path — based on the fact that we cannot take our material goods with us, and that we should dissolve our ego and be more open to the experiences around us — than to an actual “evil” universe, because that is what the underlying argument is! If everything I visualize or desire is going to have an equal and opposite effect, then maybe I shouldn’t use vision boards (which work, by the way), or have goals and focus on them! And have you actually contemplated the full meaning of “Send out positive and you can expect negative in return”? So are you saying that if I send out negative, I can expect positive in return? Sorry, but I really don’t think it works like that!

You might also like:

  • The Secret to You – a visualization tool designed to harness the power of The Secret to fill your life with happiness, prosperity, health and love.

Creatively inclined

In an endeavour to make office fun (yeah, right!) our firm decided to launch hobby clubs, and the one and only club launched thus far is the photography club. I’m a total shutterbug, but a complete amateur, so I decided to sign up! And of course, given my crazy work schedule, I didn’t attend a single meeting. It took an email by the group head to “force” me to make it for the meeting, and boy! Was I glad I went!! There are a bunch of really talented people in that grup, which honsetly had me wondering what I was doing there! I mean, I may click away with abandon, but that doesn’t necessarily make me even half-way decent!

Anyhoo! Take the plunge I did, and clicked away during the weekend, on the theme that had been decided for the week — table top or still life photpgraphy (which my husband insists on calling industrial photography!). Here are my very humble attempts, and may I add that this is the first time I have ever done this, ever? OK, just so we set the record straight!

The spirit of Delhi

Delhi was struck by 5 serial bomb blasts this Saturday — all of them targeting busy, popular markets and hangouts. While these were supposed to be “low-intensity bombs,” lives were lost, and a few people I know had lucky escapes. Very luckily, everyone I know is safe.

While this is a shameful act of terrorism, and while it brought together strangers from every walk of life to help, it also brought the wierdos out onto the street. While most people were expressing their shock and outrage at the bombings, a mother-daughter duo from Safdurjung Enclave drove especially all the way to GK to see the bomb blast! They had the gall, on national television, to laughingly say that they were “very well aware that there have been 5 blasts in Delhi,” go on to list the places where the blasts happened, and say, “my daughter wanted to see the blast, so we drove down to have a look.” What gall! Is this a tourist spot, or a display, that people are specially driving in to have a look-see? Shocking!

Another thing that has me thinking is this phrase: “Sprit of Delhi.” Replace it with any Indian state that has suffered a terrorist attack in the recent past — things are back to normal the very next day. Is this really the spirit of the city, or are we becoming indifferent to the death and terrorism we see around us everyday? I don’t mean to sound callous, but it is a fact — Indians are exposed to a number of terrorist attacks, religious riots, non-issues being made into issues and what have you, that we seem to have developed an immunity to such events — as long as we are not directly affected by them. We disguise this indifference by calling it our spirit.

But terrorism is a shocking event. While the goal of a terrorist is to strike fear in the heart of citizens, we cannot just get up, brush ourselves off, and go on like nothing has happened. There needs to be accountability in the system. Culprits — the real culprits, not innocents rounded up on the basis of their relegion — need to be put behind bars. The nation should send a strong message to terrorists — that we will not take this lying down. We will hunt you down and bring justice to our citizens.

The police, though, do nothing. The UP police is being partially blamed for the terrorist strike. They apparently had intelligence about the planned strike, and a tip-off on where the terroists were hiding, but were lax in pursuing it. Let’s see how the Delhi police react — they apparently have an eye-witness. How this will play out will be relvealed over the next few days.