Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Promise

I was not old enough to understand the sacrifices my mother made all her life for me. I never paused to think of how tough it would've been to bring me up. I was a rowdy growing up :) It never occurred to me that the beautiful women who brought me up have given away so much. My mom, whose life has been dedicated for her only son; My grandmother, whose stories and interpretations of Krishna and Rama are now part of my DNA; my aunt who gave everything she had to the 3 rascals (my brothers and I); the domestic help we had at home who used to sit hours in front of my crib rocking it so that I would sleep... all of them have made me who I am today, given me every shred of love they had and continue to give me everything they have. Never before have I really understood their love as much as I do today - thanks to the Gold biscuit I have now @ home Aadya 😊

I stayed with Mytri @ the hospital through the 28 hour labor she went through. I saw her endure 28 hours of non-stop pain, the likes of which she has never faced in her life. I couldn't stand it, it was unbearable to watch and I can only imagine how it would have felt to withstand it. But Mytri stood strong and magically, from deep within, she found the resilience and courage neither of us knew she had, to withstand the pain. When Aadya was born, all our attention shifted to the baby. It took me a while to realize that I had forgotten the last 28 odd hours in a few seconds and moved on from the pain to joy in an instant. I felt guilty, but Mytri was not complaining, instead she wanted me to promise that I will always protect our daughter and hold her dear. I realized for the first time how amazing a Mother is!

Mytri's life has turned completely upside down now. She gets 2 hours at a stretch - to eat, sleep and to live her life. Then she has to take position and feed the baby. Sometimes Aadya eats quick and sleeps early. Other days she is a devil 😈 I lose patience when she cries, when she fusses too much, when she takes more time and energy out of us to calm down.. But Mytri stays calm throughout. Whether it takes 1 hour or 5, she is there... patient, loving, calming, sure of what the baby wants. I realized again how amazing a Mother is!

When we talk of the days ahead, I discuss with Mytri on where I should sleep, which room I should work from, how to balance work and home, who should cook and what to cook... she talks about where to hang the crib for the baby, when to feed her, when to switch to solid food, which doctor to fix, which school and what type of education we should provide for her... Mytri's thoughts are unwavering, its on the child and its embedded in her soul. I realized again how amazing a Mother is!

I held them both in my arms and I can see their calm in my arms. But the truth is, it is the mother, Mytri who is holding us both safe. It is she who is giving away parts of her life to me and Aadya, so that ours can remain whole. One half of my life is my mother's and the other half, which is holding the child safe, is Mytri's.

Today, I understand what a mother truly means. What a mother goes through in her life. Aadya is showing us all what it takes to be a mother. Mytri is showing me why I should never let go of the lovely women in my life.

I remember my promise and I will stand by it forever.

Happy Mother's day to all the lovely mothers out there. Thank you for keeping the dads sane and for reminding us all about our promise :)

Aadya Diaries

It's been just over a month since she stepped into our lives. This last month has been the best of my life thus far. I wanted a girl child, majorly because we have not had a girl baby in my family for a while now. But every second with her is changing me, changing all of us @ home.

My idea of love, life, happiness, pain, even of life itself has changed... Changed by the tiny tot who will not even know now how much she is teaching me. She has no idea now of what it means to me when I pick her up first thing in the morning, when she smiles at me, when she holds my hands.

When she cries it melts your heart and breaks it. When she smiles there is no happier feeling and when she tucks herself on my chest and sleeps, a tear invariably drops down in happiness. I had no idea a baby can make you feel so many emotions. Fear, Happiness, Euphoria, Helplessness, glee and much more!

There were days when I wondered why god gave mothers such a big burden. of carrying a baby for months and then having to be chained so as to feed... But I realize its not a burden, but a blessing.

When we see a baby crying in hunger, everyone's heart breaks and melts. Everyone wants to rush in, to make the baby feel better, to satisfy the hunger.. But only a mother has the gift to soothe a baby and feed it. And when I look at Mytri's face when Aadya eats gleefully, there is nothing else happier in this world.

Its just been a month and already Aadya has made this world and life much more beautiful. I can only imagine how beautiful life is going to be in the coming years. 


Thank you god for blessing us and Thank you darling Aadya, for being ours


Love,
Dad

Monday, June 15, 2015

Opening the delightful Kaakka Muttai

I initially wanted to title this post as Cracking open the kaaka muttai. But later felt it was aggressive and a movie as gentle and as subtle as this one deserved better. So even though the present title doesn’t fully express the idea I had in mind, I guess this should do. In more ways than one this is the first tribute to the masterful movie that KM is. I am unable to perfectly translate my view of this movie into a simple few words. So imagine how amazingly talented the director Mr. Manigandan must be, for having translated a concept as novel as KM into a movie so delectable and neat that one cannot help but be awed!

This post is not a movie review. It is merely a fledgling attempt at a tribute to the movie; a narrative of the beautiful experience that watching this movie gave me. Movies to me are an escape from my everyday life. I love mine yes, but the possibility of being transported into another world where things are bigger and seemingly better is hard to pass up. I went to KM expecting entertainment and some light hearted humor. But what it gave was an unbelievable experience. KM surprised me, moved me, made me happier and sometimes slapped me hard!


Perhaps the most unbelievable aspect of the movie was the subtlety prevalent throughout. Even the deepest and most profound messages of the movie pass by almost unnoticed only to come back and haunt your sleep long after you leave the theater. The movie never feeds you the rights and wrongs of the society. It merely plays you by showing what happens around us from a neutral, yet an extremely engaging standpoint. Be it the way the kids say they won’t be allowed inside the shopping mall, to the way that money makes even friends lie to each other, to the way the mom exclaims it is the fault of the so called upper class for making the lower rungs of society yearn for a better life… Every sequence is crafted with elegance, care, love and with amazing focus. The director has walked a thin line; one slip in the dialogues could have made the scenes preachy, and one percent less subtle would have made it appear biased. But no, this is dealt all too well and with amazing dexterity.
What really jolted me was how programmed my mind had become. The father of the kids is in jail and the mother is struggling alone. She is young, dark, earthy, vulnerable and absolutely attractive. Her everyday life is surrounded by a clutch of men. The cable TV guy, the lawyer, the petty thieves, the MLA and his cohorts, the Pizza parlor workers… After a while I started watching the movie with some trepidation. I was worried that one of the aforementioned men would make sexual advances to her and that would make the entire movie a lot less valuable. But the director steered cleanly away from all that cheap sequences. What’s more, it wasn’t as if she didn’t interact with any of these people, she does. Yet, every character stays true to their objectives and not even once was there any slip. When the movie was over, it jolted me that I even worried about such a sequence. My mind was so conditioned to experiencing that bad taste from past movie experiences that, half the time I was praying it shouldn’t happen here. Thankfully and to the movie’s credit it didn’t even touch that nerve.

KM’s biggest achievement though, is the way it takes us all in the direction it travels without any of us questioning it. Generally when a section of the society is frowned upon, they take offence and the movie loses that circle of the society. But even though KM lays bare the glaring divide among the sections of our society it never makes the audience question or argue. We become one with the kids. We journey with them as kids. They never complain about their status in the society, they never grumble against the injustice met to them, they never remember the bad that happens around them, they are seldom bogged down by failures and most importantly never do they ever give up on their self respect. They refrain from stealing, from eating a free bit. The prospect of taking a short cut never once appeals to them… To say that I was influenced and inspired by them on so many occasions during the movie would be an understatement!

How I wish I could be like those kids. Spirited, unfailing, confident, smiling and sportive…  Now that life would be a real golden egg wouldn’t it?
KM to me was an unbelievable experience. At various stages of the movie I felt various emotions and most of it were involuntarily pulled out from the heart. Every scene was delightfully crafted. Every sequence was written with amazing focus and simplicity. The kids sparkle in every frame and the humor makes everything a lot more fun and spirited. To me this is a once in a generation movie. I don’t remember the last time I walked out of a movie with such fondness and glee. To this and everything else I take my hats off! To the director, the kids, the crew and the spirit of KM I bow down! Thank you for everything!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mom - My First Expert

The relationship I share with my mom is really special to me. It is a unique bond that is perhaps incomparable with any other relationship in this world. When I think back to the days when I was a kid and when I imagine how much of patience and sacrifices my mom would have had to make for me, it simply blows my mind. I got married in January ’15 and I have moved out with my wife, and now I realize my mother’s value tremendously. My wife is exactly another me, and I am realizing that I simply cannot handle another me. But my mom has been amazing. I am the only son at home and the way she brought me up without ever showing signs of stress or impatience is simply… inexpressible.

Till my wedding I never paused to think how much my mom means to me and how much I had learnt from her. I never really spent much time imagining the amount of love she had for me nor have I ever asked myself how life away from mom would be. It never struck me how much she actually knew about life in general. After my wedding it’s almost as if the universe has turned upside down. I am happily married mind you, but I stand exposed now. I realize now how much I don’t know about life. I do not know to differentiate between the small things and the big things in life; I do not know how to plan, to save, to sacrifice as much as my mother. But I know my mom is still around to teach me.

When I think of it, everything I know about life starts from my mother. To pick out one memory from a lifetime is not only difficult but also unfair. Every day there is something new that she keeps teaching me. For instance, just the other day I bought a skin for my laptop and I made a mess of sticking it. My mom who has never used a laptop all her life took over and expertly cut the skin to fit my screen and did a beautiful job of it. This has been the case all my life. She has been the first and the best expert in my life. From teaching me science and math during school to keeping me away from bad habits at college to showing me what true love actually means, she has always been at the center of my universe. The guiding light and the staunch pillar that never lets me down.


I have made more mistakes than I can count or remember, but she has always been around… forgiving me and ensuring that I don’t repeat my mistakes. She has helped me succeed, guided me through the many ups and downs in life, she has taught me to handle rejections and kept success from going to my head.

In short, whatever I am today it is because of her. I have never faltered when I have done as my mom has asked me to. She has been the torch, the pillar and the expert that I have been gifted to have. To me she is everything and with every day my love for her grows deeper and my admiration for her selfless and unconditional love keeps increasing. You my dear mom are an amazing person and I know how fortunate dad and I are to have you. Thank you so much mom J

In all honesty I must really thank Godrej. Writing this post has been an emotional exercise for me and I have had to stop and start quite a few times because I got overwhelmed with emotions a few times. It was the call for posts from Godrej that got me writing, so thank you Godrej.


And mom… I love you J You are truly my first expert!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mytri

I remember very clearly when and where I first met her. It was in a Toastmasters meeting at Logica back in September 2010. She wasn’t a Toastmaster then, neither is she now; But as destiny would have it that’s where I first met her. I was giving my first speech; she was there in the audience and gave an impromptu speech (something about Green color). She made heads turn and eyebrows raise and that’s when her face registered in my mind. Her name didn’t stick, but the face did.

For a few weeks I did not see her, she was with a different business unit and we had no mutual friends either. In October I got a chance to host a show at office and it was one of the good days on stage for me. I was wearing a blazer for the first time and it was a big occasion (Understandably I was nervous). Soon after, I wrote a blog in Logica’s intranet about Sachin Tendulkar. Sprinkled with some fancy words and some purposefully complex sentences, it soon became popular. I had subscribers to my blog and one of my friends Suja, called me up commended me on the blog and said a friend of hers wanted to wish me too. That’s when Mytri spoke to me! The first ever conversation I had with her. Apparently she loved my blog. I do not know if she knew me as the guy who spoke at TM, but I didn’t have any idea who she was.

I later asked Suja who Mytri actually was, since the name seemed so unfamiliar. What she told me then was surprising and unexpected; she said this was the girl who spoke about the Green color at the tm meeting. Suja also went on to say Mytri and I would make a great pair and she can give us an intro. I side stepped her suggestion then, but I never forgot what she said. Today though, Suja’s words have actually come true and I guess I should thank her for that J If you are reading this Suj, Thank you so much :)

Shortly after that mytri and I starting conversing; we spoke about the Oscars event and my MC role. She began with a bang J She told me I was having one hand of mine in the pockets throughout the show while hosting and said I must either be a ‘nervous wreck” or “an arrogant fellow”. I was taken aback and angry; with time that episode inspired me to write my first short story “Dahi Bhel Puri”. 


Once past the initial discomforting few days, we became really easy friends. Our conversations were predominantly over the office “Communicator”. Few days later we started messaging and calling each other. Mytri was so much fun to talk to. She was always to the point, always witty. She would ask me open ended questions and would be patient till I answered in full. I loved her language, her politeness and her amazingly shrewd mind. We fought a lot but quickly got back to being friends. We did not have a meet with each other though, but the first time I met her after we became friends was an experience I would never forget. She was fierce to say the least. Her eyes were stern and it was like she had an invisible fence in front of her. I realized that day that she was different from everyone else.

She wouldn’t open up about herself but she managed to make me spill out everything about myself. I often dropped her at the hostel she was staying, after office. The drive was more exciting than anything else I ever did and I would wait for 6pm every day from the moment I woke up. I could sense that she was letting me in a little more, sharing a little more, smiling a lot more. Mytri gave me so much happiness just with her casual talks, with her smiles, with her reassurances..

The first year was all about building the rapport. She told me quite early that she loved me more than she loved any other man. I was a lot more reserved about reciprocating. She seemed way out of my league (she still does sometimes :)) She is such an amazing woman, so strong, sensible, no non-sense and so much more assured about her own self than I ever have been. It made me think a lot more. Here was a woman who was so inspiring and so loving at the same time. I knew I was lucky and I knew I had to rise up to her plane. In a way she made me do it, she pulled me up time after time again :)


I was writing blogs occasionally, she made me write more often. I was irregular to toastmasters and seldom recorded my speeches, she made me speak more and record more often. I loved being in photographs, she made me take photographs. Mytri made me better in a lot of ways and I loved my life a lot more after she came into it. We had quite a few late night conversations and we spent most of the coffee breaks together.

Our 2nd and 3rd years together were amazing to say the least. Our relationship grew stronger. On the flip side, our fights were starting to become serious. All along we were playful and non-committal. But suddenly our fights were becoming fiercer. The relationship went through higher crests and lower troughs. Both of us started doubting our choices, both of us felt the ugly side of a relationship. We went to the bottom and I told myself so many times that this was it. Our relationship was going to break off for good. She must have thought the same too, I am not sure. But… we held on. Actually, she held on. She never forgot the love she had for me despite all the fights. No problem was big enough to make her forget the love for me. I have no hesitation in admitting that her love is stronger, deeper and more powerful than mine.

The 4th year (in progress) has been the landmark :) We are getting married and to express the emotions now is quite impossible. The 3.5 years I have spent with mytri is perhaps the most important part of my life. It taught me too much and made me so much better.


Myts is a strong character and she has gone through a roller coaster of a childhood. Her love for me is unparalleled and I am truly fortunate to have her. Her mom summarized the relationship so beautifully when she said, “Mytri has been an amazing child. In highs and lows of her life she has adapted beautifully. In 23 odd years she has never demanded anything from me or her father. The only thing she ever demanded was you Raghavan. And we are extremely happy to oblige her demands.” Every time I recall the above words I am enveloped by profound silence. I do not know how to respond. All I know is I’m fortunate. And I pray god to make this happiness last forever.

If you are reading this, then you have in some way contributed to our relationship. My heart brims with gratitude and I would love to have you at the wedding. ‘Thanks’ is a very small word, yet as Mytri always says “Life’s beauty lies in the small things”. So THANK YOU :) Thank you for your support, blessings and good wishes. I am sure with all your wishes, Mytri and I would lead a happy and peaceful life ahead :)

PS - If you wish to read Mytri's version of our Love Story, read here

A New Beginning

I grew up in Chennai. I did my schooling in Chennai, finished college as a day scholar, have been working in Chennai. In short, in 25 years of my life I have never ventured away from home. I love my home in Triplicane a lot more than I myself know. Parents are the life spirit and I never could imagine a life away from them. I have travelled away from home in my life, but during all those times I have always been enveloped by the assurance of going back home.

While I was living the most comfortable anyone could dream of, I gradually forgot the universal mantra. Nothing is permanent! I got married to the love of my life in Jan 2015 and life as I knew it has completely changed since then! Though I love my home in Triplicane and claim it is a big property, within a week after marriage we discovered that it was not big enough for 4 full grown adults. It dawned on me that I have to move out of the house and the realization tore into my heart with a shock and pain that I still feel!

Marriage forces change upon the guy as much (perhaps more) as on the girl. I had to convince myself to forget emotion and start being practical. And so, with a heavy heart I took the decision of going away from my home. I had to look for a new house, preferably closer to where my wife was working. And so after a lot of research and hours in front of the computer I found the god-sent “Housing.com”. A cracker-jacker of a site that made things a lot more easier for me. With a list of properties served on a platter this was indeed delightful. This site single-handedly made house hunting a happy affair.


The properties were listed on a Google Map and had accurate locations, showed the distances between points beautifully and the most striking feature was that every property was listed with excellent pictures of every room. This is something that I had never seen before and was a huge relief. Now we could shortlist and narrow down a lot of houses without having to physically visit them.

So after a very easy search, we got a perfect home. A large spacious and economical house (sounds like an oxy-moron? :) ). The first few days were horrible. I could wake up at 7am and find the house filled with sunlight and tantalizing aroma from the kitchen. I could curl up in the sofa with the newspaper and mom would bring coffee. All I had to do was get up, bath and take the lunch box and ride away to office. The house was invariably clean and everything was always in place. But now, in the house that is occupied only me and my wife, things are always a mess. Invariably everything always needs cleaning. I have to get up and get the milk, I have to help in cleaning, I have to fetch water, clean the tables, somedays do the dishes… Work never gets done and has to be done.

But all of this is trivial. I have always helped mom.. the biggest void I feel now is the absence of my mom and dad. The spacious house seemed like a huge empty space. The spirit was somber and the energy levels quite low. But, I realized the magic lies in our hands. My wife taught me how I can make a huge change in our lives with just a small mindset change. Now, things are better, things are looking up.

Coming away from home was the biggest, boldest decision I have taken in my life till date. The prospect was scary, I was hesitant, I am worried… But, I am hopeful of turning it around! For the fact is “Only a rolling stone gathers no moss”

So step out, take that leap of faith, someday soon you will be rewarded!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Victim of Circumstance!

Recently, one of my close relatives was admitted in a premier hospital in Chennai. She was there for one full month & I used to visit her every day. Amidst all the gloom surrounding the hospital environs, I found a glimmer of light in Rocky! Rocky was an absolutely adorable kitten. He was playful, noisy and shy. I first found him on the street, very close to where I had parked my bike. I have never liked hospitals; the smell, the emotions; the looks… everything is so gloomy. The prospect of going to the hospital every day seemed so scary, but thanks to Rocky, the experience was bearable.
Every day as I parked my bike, I would see him playing with random stuff- leaves, sticks, plastic bottles… If I took one step toward him though he used to ‘meow’ loudly and run away to a safe distance. In his eyes I could see fear, morbid fear. He couldn't trust me.. yet!


For the first few days I didn't disturb him. Just stood at a distance and watched him play. After a few days, I guess he warmed up to my presence. He let me walk near him without running away. By the 10th day he would let me touch him. I started feeding him biscuits and would play with him for a few minutes before entering the hospital and after coming out. For about 15 days the routine continued and I used to feel so happy, relaxed and focused. Rocky was such a lovely cat. When I showed him love, he reciprocated. His love was so evident, so honest, so pure and so invaluable.


Then suddenly one morning Rocky wasn't around. I looked around for him and couldn't locate him. I looked everywhere but to no avail. The rickshawala nearby told me that Rocky had been gravely injured by a stone thrown by a stupid man the previous night. The events that had led to that horrible act were shocking!

Just as the man was entering the hospital the previous night, Rocky had run across the street in front of him. The man glared at rocky and went in. His mother, who had been admitted to the hospital, passed away in the wee hours of the night. The man related his mothers' death to the bad omen of the black cat crossing his path. In fury he came back and beat rocky with a stone, injuring the cat badly. He blamed the innocent black cat that crossed a road, for the misfortune that befell him. Rocky was injured and was taken away by some kind soul nearby. No one knew where he is now or what happened to him!

Rocky’s absence left a deep void in me. Till the rickshawwala told me, I did not realize that Rocky was black. He has crossed my path so many times and nothing bad ever happened to me! His eyes and his playful meows continue to ring in my ears. He enjoyed his biscuits and he never disturbed anybody, yet, he was stoned! Rocky became a victim of circumstance. 

By bringing me into his world, life showed Rocky that not all men are bad. It sent him a guy who fed him biscuits and played with him every day. And just when he was getting used to human beings, life sent a threat and gifted him stones!

Our lives and Rocky's are in many ways similar. So many times we fall victim to circumstance. For no fault of ours we are punished. For no fault of ours we are condemned. Many a times we are misunderstood and it turns out bad! All of us are victims of circumstance. Sometimes we get the flower and sometimes we get the thorn! Rocky got love and stones! But, even in his misfortune, Rocky gave birth to the idea of this blog! Let's strive to be graceful even in a fall!