Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Strangers Come To Rescue!

How often have you experienced that when the whole world is against you (or so you feel), there is someone who comes out of nowhere and soothes you?

I don't know about you, but I have had such occurrences quite often. There are times when I am so low that I feel very let down with myself and don't know where to go. And at such very times, there comes an angel to my rescue, who tells me its not all over. And this person has usually never been one of those from whom I would ever seek help or for that matter someone with whom I am always in touch with. Hence I wish to call it "Strangers come to Rescue!"

It was a perfectly normal day in college. As always lectures were taking my toll and I was just waiting to sit down and have a good coffee. Then it was told that a lecture has been called off, much to my happiness. I rushed to grab a coffee and then decided to work on some pending projects that I had left behind long ago.

I set up a few appointments with a few people for the same evening and the next few days for this very project and was amazed that all of these calls were successful. It was almost time to leave college when I met someone in college who came up to me and told me a lot of things about how my career may not be so good after all. The markets are bad and I am not experienced with business (being a medical professional) and somehow my so-called individualistic nature (again his perception) may pose hurdles for me.

Though this did not usually matter to me, as I have become immune to such weird comments and especially negative ones, thanks to a few so called close friends (those who know me well,would know who I am referring to). However on this day, it put me to think. All the way back home, I was trying to tell myself that probably I am not so good after all. All those people who keep saying amazing things about me are just doing so because they wish good for me.

A few people who know me and who maybe reading this might wonder....how is it that this girl can also think all such things? This is because there are very few instances that I would feel low on confidence. And seldom do other people's comments affect me as much unless the person is too significant (teachers or seniors). But I kept thinking, almost had tears in my eyes.

And then, out of nowhere, I had a conversation with a friend, almost like after ages. I just happened to meet him online. It was general at first, but I guess somehow this conversation was destined to happen. While talking, I mentioned about what I had been through during the day....and how very upset I was. And this person simply told me...."You don't have to change yourself coz anyone says so....you are good the way you are...and if at all you think there is a need to adapt and change someday, i am sure you will be successful at that too" Maybe someone might say that I am feeling pleased with my ego being massaged and that is why praising the friend so much. But for those who really understand the importance of such a conversation and the pleasure obtained would surely be able to gauge what I felt at that point in time.

It was not that because someone is saying good things about me, I should feel happy. But the fact is that, this boosting of confidence helps you to look at the problem in a more practical way than with the sulking vision you did before. In a state of mind when you are low and thinking negative, there is no chance that you see positivity easily. You would continue to be cynical and feel like the world has ended....however when you get back to the positive frame of mind, you can analyse better why some said something to you and how you could possibly work on it better.

And more often than not, it is a person who I call a ...STRANGER....who helps you get to this frame of mind. So I am thankful to all these Strangers in my life who have brought me back to life time and again......you are my angels!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Chandrabhaga- An Inspiration


It was a damp rainy day in the month of July as I left to Kedambe, a village in Satara district. The objective of my visit - a Stanford University associated project on alternate sources of energy used in rural India. The deeper objective - a get-away from routine and a possibility of learning more on rural India for which I feel so deeply and have an great inclination to work for.

With two other colleagues from college, I was travelling from Satara bus stand to this remote village(20km from Mahabaleshwar) with Nilesh, whose house we were planning to halt at. The smell of the earth, moistened by the just arrived rains made everything around so pleasant and blissful...such journeys are always a must-awaited vacation for most of us here in Mumbai. While approaching Nilesh's house, bypassing the greenery, the anxious and surprised faces of people in the village, came to my notice an old lady, walking with 2 pots of water on her head. She greeted us with a wide smile and by the time we could talk further, she had already left.

A few minutes later she was back....inside our house welcoming us to their village. She introduced herself as a distant grandmother of Nilesh...and everyone fondly called her "Aaji." Something was very striking about her personality; draped in a dull ocher saree................her unkempt look ................old age signs did not stifle her soul.....Her smile said a lot about her...her sense of humor beyond what we could have thought of. I wondered what was this that made me feel so attracted to this woman. I did not know where she lived in this village, but I said to myself, I shall visit her house.

The night that followed, we sat chit-chatting with Nilesh's mom, brother and grand mother, when Aaji walked in. She had some sweets for us. She was amused at the way we spoke marathi, especially at a colleague who was really trying hard (being gujju) and cracked funny jokes on us. She told us she stays across the street and we must go to her place for the morning tea. So I assured her I would. That night, she asked us what are we carrying in our laptop; is there anything in it for them to see."Taare Zameen Par" was what we played for them. The way these villagers sat around in the room, glued to the screen just reminded me of the movie "Swades" and I could probably very well relate to how Shah Rukh felt as he saw the entire village experiencing thrill while a movie as old as "Yaadon Ki Baraat." But more than the movie, it was the oneness that this family shared with us. Would you and I let any outsider stay at our place that easily....moreover make food, ensure we have a comfortable sleep and ask nothing but a few moments of fun, enjoyment, happy conversations.......

The next day morning, I went to Aaji's place. It was worse than I had anticipated. She did not have any electricity, she had no proper bed/mattress to sleep on, the kitchen was poorly ventilated, lack of hygiene and cleanliness was evident. I asked her about her life and I could not help a few tears trickle down my cheeks as I heard her. Her elder son had left her house with most of her possessions; the daughter-in-law did not want her with them, so she would never feed her in their house at Malegaon. Her daughter lived in Mumbai in a not-so well-to-do family and yet offered to take care of her; to which Aaji refused. Her younger son stayed with her; but due to the lack of ability to educate him, he had not yet got a job ...so again a liability on her. So who earned the bread?.....Chandrabhaga...i mean...Aaji. She worked in a nearby flower green house and earned 30 rs per day...and sustained her living. Isn't 30rs the cost of a Jeera rice in our college canteen? She made her own food, she cleaned her own utensils and washed her own clothes. She had a lot of sorrow at heart, that her elder son, for whose education she had even sold her gold bangles is no longer bothering about her. Yet she managed to bring a smile on my face and on everyone's face around in the village. She was simply loved by all. In spite of her poverty and her inability to buy fresh vegetables, she made a small meal of chapati and moong ki sabzi for me for breakfast. I couldn't swallow a morsel of that....I really had a lump in my throat.

As I walked back from her house, I started to think. how blessed I am to have all the luxuries in life. All my life I have had the choices to eat, drink, speak, play, study whatever i like. I never had faced hardships like her....and yet I crave for so many things in life. I agree there is a huge difference in my lifestyles and hers and maybe my demands could be more; however this woman taught me a lesson. She stood for herself; was not ready to bear the cruelty of her near ones. She took a stand to be there for herself and her younger son, so long as she could. She chose to live a life of dignity.

I salute to her spirit....I dunno what I learnt from her in real....but she inspired me to be like her someday. A woman of true substance!