Friday, July 11, 2008

Mein aur meri tanhai.....

This is my favorite shayari by Gulzar from the film Silsila

"Mein Aur Meri Tanhai, Aksar Ye Baaten Karte Hain
Tum Hotin To Kaisa Hota, Tum Ye Kehtin, Tum Vo Kehtin
Tum Is Baat Pe Hairan Hotin, Tum Us Baat Pe Kitni Hanstin
Tum Hotin To Aisa Hota, Tum Hotin To Vaisa Hota
Mein Aur Meri Tanhai, Aksar Ye Baaten Karte Hain

Ye Raat Hai, Ya Tumhari Zulfen Khuli Hui Hain
Hai Chandni Ya Tumhari Nazron Se, Meri Raaten Dhuli Hui Hain
Ye Chand Hai, Ya Tumhara Kangan, Sitaare Hain Ya Tumhara Aanchal
Hava Ka Jhonka Hai, Ya Tumhare Badan Ki Khushboo
Ye Pattiyon Ki Hai Sarsarahat, Ke Tumne Chupke Se Kuch Kaha Hai
Ye Sochta Hoon Maein Kabse Gumsum
Ki Jabki Mujhko Bhi Ye Khabar Hai, Ki Tum Nahin Ho, Kahin Nahin Ho
Magar Ye Dil Hai Ki Keh Raha Hai, Tum Yahin Ho, Yahin Kahin Ho
Majboor Ye Haalaat, Idhar Bhi Hain Udhar Bhi
Tanhai Ke Ye Raat, Idhar Bhi Hai Udhar Bhi
Kehne Ko Bahut Kuchh Hai, Magar Kis Se Kahen Hum
Kab Tak Yoonhi Khaamosh Rahen, Aur Sahen Hum
Dil Kehta Hai Duniya Ki Har Ik Rasm Utha Dein
Deewaar Jo Hum Dono Mein Hai, Aaj Gira Dein
Kyun Dil Mein Sulagte Rahein, Logon Ko Bata Dein
Haan Humko Mohabbat Hai... Mohabbat Hai... Mohabbat Hai...
Ab Dil Mein Yahi Baat, Idhar Bhi Hai, Udhar Bhi "

Film: Silsila.
Lyrics: Gulzar.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

To Return, or Not To Return : that is the question

This is the question that every Non-Resident Indian has asked himself/ herself many times. I was sure that I wanted to return back to India in around 10 years. That was 5 years ago. A lot has changed in these 5 years, in India and in my opinion as well.

Recently, I have started to put my reasons down on paper. Reasons, I want to go back – thats Option 1- and reasons I dont – Option 2. I have to say none of my reasons are logical. They are all emotionally driven because my attachment to India is emotional. If I come to think of it, am I really attached to India? Or is it just my hometown, Mumbai? To answer that question I asked myself another question. If I decide to return back to India, would I be happy to live in say for example, Bangalore, or Delhi? The answer came quiet quickly to me. It was No. I am biased towards Mumbai. Infact I would not give the time of day to any other city in India. Well to relax my obsession a little bit, I would not mind living in cities around Mumbai. Cities like Navi Mumbai, Lonavla, upto Pune all sound the same to me. As long as I can access my beloved Mumbai any day I want.

So far it looks like Option 1 is already contingent on Mumbai. Lets look at the various points that I would need in order to make Option 1 possible. This answer comes quickly as well. I need to live a content – aka emotionally fulfilling – aka happy and comfortable life. Wait a minute now, “comfortable” is a very subjective term. For me comfort is living with my family in a home that has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths atleast, having good food 3 times a day, having a car, having some kind of domestic help, good educational system for my children, being close of family, investments for retirement and then some. :-) Ok so my definition of comfort is pretty cliched then. But that is not all I need. Being happy involves more than material pleasures for me. Many people have told me, “if you have enough money, you can have the same or better standard of living in India, than here”. For me this statement has no meaning. I lived a happy life with a decent standard of living (for Mumbai) coming from a medium middle class family. I had basic things in life, no show-shine as they call it. So I know that I dont need a lot of money to be happy. If I want to live happily in a world, the world around me needs to be happy first. If I live in paradise, I know I will be happy. Paradise is any place of complete bliss and delight and peace – by definition. The place is made by the people who live in it. Unhappy, discontent people make for a unhappy place.

The thing that breaks my heart when I go back to India now is the plight of the street children. Poverty is not new in India, so why is it now that I have suddenly started noticing it even though I have been in an out of the country so many times before? Maybe because I am a mother now and my motherly emotions are stronger than ever. It breaks my heart to see children begging on the street, maimed and hungry, being abused, left to die even sometimes. I cant help but see that many of them are unwanted, mere byproducts of lust, or sometimes just a product to be made money from. I see them everywhere now, when I visit, their silent eyes screeming for a chance. I want to help them all, cure them of their suffering, give each of them a chance to make someone of themselves, being joy and smiles into their lives, give them a chance to become better individuals, show them the path to endless is just extremely overwhelming. A tornado unveils in my heart every time I see a street kid crying.
Can I really live in a place, where a day does not go by when I dont cry at night, because I feel helpless and angry?

There is no shortage of unfortunate godforsaken children in the United States either, but people have invested a lot of time and resources in efforts to make the situation better. You would not see kids hungry, abused and dying infront of you in day to day life. Thats is the reason it sticks out like a sore thumb when I come to India. People in India say, westerners only photograph poverty, naked street kids etc when they come to India. Just sit back and think carefully, what would you photograph if you went to a foreign place? You would photograph the things that you have never seen before and are completely out of the ordinary for you, right? So thats what they see and that is precisely what they photograph. The statement that there is more to India, than just poor people is cowardly at best. There are castles and temples and lots of wonderful things in other countries too, and its sad that the uniqueness of India lies in its Indifference.

I cannot cure my country from poverty, but I can atleast help a child get a better life. That would be doing my part and my duty to my country. I have now decided that my visits to India will not be vacations anymore, they will be missions, dedicated to helping kids. I am fortunate to have a family back in India who is already driven in this task and I will be more than happy to join them and help in any way I can.

So wait a minute, what conclusion does that bring to the eternal question of “To Return, or not to return”? The answer to that, looks like, is not easy. I can be happy and give my all and help only if I am mentally strong and emotionally stable. I can do that living here, in the US. If I return to India for good, I fear I will break. Handling emotionally draining situations is not easy for me. So for now I will stick to where I am, try to work on my passion in the best way I can and never forget that “...this is just another day for me in Paradise”. Another day in this Paradise, trying to create a Paradise for someone else.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Turning 30 – End of an Era

Well I have always thought of the day I will turn 30. Since the time I was 24 or 25 probably. I remember then, I used to feel like that time will never come and the world will probably cease to exist or something and I will forever be 25, not because I feared what the 30-ies will have in store for me, but because I loved my 20-ies so much, that I wanted to be stuck in time. Even when I was in my teens, I always wanted to be in my 20-ies. That was for a different reason though. Being a teenager was horrible for me. I was angry a lot and was unsure of what I really wanted. I was aware of this fact all the time and the only thing I was sure about was that once I turn 20 I will magically have a clear idea of what I wanted.

And thankfully I was right. I did know what I wanted and was lucky enough to get it. That made me want even more to stay 25.

But, as you can see time did actually pass and now I am 29. It is my last year where my age will begin with the number 2.

A lot has happened in the past decade. I got my Bachelors and Masters degree, Worked in a few companies, earned a decent amount of money, bought a house and car, saw half of the world, fell in love, got married, had a child, and even gained a decent amount of weight! (What?... it is a package deal).

I also learned about the not-so-rosy facts of life. This down-time in life made me appreciate what i have and learn the most important emotion according to me – Compassion. I have real friends and I am more comfortable in my own skin. I don’t live by someone else’s definitions of what I should be, how I should look or what I should wear. I have a clear idea about how I am going to raise my son and where I want to be at 60 and the most important thing – I know how to get there.

So why the hell would I want to leave my twinkling 20-ies behind and step onto the unfamiliar 30-ies ground. I say now, why the hell not? What have I to lose? Well, ha ha ... Now isn't that convenient. Yes it is, but here's my take on I have a choice? I can be 30 and crib about it or else I can suck it up and live with the same (or better) standards that I am right now. I am surely not going to commit the same mistakes that I have learnt from in my 20-ies (Really?.. History does have a way of repeating itself). Who can tell until I actually go for it. (Again, like I have a choice!)

It makes me curious now about what the other side of the hill has in store for me when I hear women saying "welcome to the club. It only gets better," and listening to the people who had a hard time turning 30 say things like "it all goes downhill from here" and thinking to myself... "not for me!”

There are times when I have a dejavu about the way I think sometimes. Isnt this the same way I used to think when I was 16? Have I really changed in the way my thoughts proceed? I would like to think that I have matured in that sense, but the teenager in me still lives and thinks in the same way and even gets angry and wants to throw things. But the 20 something woman know better and talks her out of nasty situations. I have a lot of such silent one on one conversations with myself and I wonder do we really change a whole lot as we get older? We dont change – I think – we only get wiser. I dont fret over whether everyone likes me or not. Now, I like who I am and if someone doesn't, I don't give a damn.My husband and my son are the most important people in my life, and my priorities are set right.

I have done, achieved and experienced a lot of things in the past decade and truthfully I am waiting to open the treasure chest for the next decade. I believe whatever happens, happens for the best and life goes on whether you want it or not. “Live like you were dying”, said Tim McGraw and that is exactly what I am going to try to do in the next 10 years. After all life begins again at 40 anyways. :-)

So cheers to 30, Bring it On!!!!