Child in us


“Child is the father of man” or so goes the saying.  Most of us will recall that the best years of our lives were when we were kids.  We did what our heart wanted without worrying about what others thought about it.  As we grow up, we tend to live for others.  We act the way others want us to do.  We have lost the child in us and this is indeed very sad.

We find it difficult to laugh or cry every day when we feel like doing. Smile replaces laughter because we start believing that the world will laugh at us if we are too loud.  In situations where we feel like crying, we hide our emotions since we are conditioned to believe that adults do not cry.  If you cry, you are kid and have not grown up.  This leads to our conditioned behaviour.  It is almost like the air conditioned environment that we are used to in our offices and homes today and we have forgotten the heat of the summer, the gush of the rains or the chillness of the winter.

I sometimes wonder how beautiful life would be if we can continue to be our natural selves.  Imagine dancing in the rains and getting wet at the onset of monsoon.  It would be fun to sit on the sea shore and play with sea shells in the sand.  I remember enjoying raw cut mangoes on the beach with family and friends during vacations.  The joy of travelling by train with family on a long summer holiday appears a bygone era.

Who do we blame for losing the child in us ?  We can conveniently blame our education system.  We can blame our parents and elders for not allowing us to enjoy life as a kid and forcing us to behave like adults even before we grew into one.  But, I would blame myself more than anyone else.  Nothing stops me to sit and cry if I feel like doing so even today as an adult.  There is nothing which stops me at laughing at myself and jumping in joy.

We have become less adaptable to the environment around us.  We find it difficult to cope with situations of joy or sorrow and hence want to be behave like conditioned beings.  It is easier for us to hide our emotions than to express it.  We are guarded in our behaviour at home, work and in the community.  The day we learn to be our natural selves, we may be able to rejuvenate the child in us.

It is time to laugh and cry when we feel like.  It is time to express ourselves with everyone around us the way we feel like.  Let us rekindle the kid in us.  The best outcome of this change will be our ability to bounce back from the troughs in our life.  We will also be able to deal with crests with equanimity.  We can see children bounce back from sorrow even before we realise it.  We also see children sharing their joy with others and not riding on a sense of pride always.

It’s time to bring back the child in us as in the photo above.

The time to start is now and the day to start is today.  It does not matter how old or young you are.  Our physical age is just a number.  We need to live life as if a tomorrow does not exist.  We need to learn to enjoy life and share our joy with others.  There is no better way to do it than the way children do it.  It is time to learn and it is time to learn from the kids around us.

Let us regenerate the child in us from today.

S Ramesh Shankar

Lustrous Leaves

 

Trees  have always fascinated me with all their support to human life.  But I was wondering how leaves are supporting us by themselves.  Although every part of the tree is valuable, the leaves possibly play a pivotal role in our lives.  I can recall different types of leaves used for different purposes right from my childhood.  Each leaf has a unique benefit and our forefathers have helped us understand them better.

I recall my childhood days when on all festive occasions in the family we used to have food on a banana leaf.  It was considered auspicious and if I look back today it is also bio-degradable and hence not ruining our environment like plastic and thermocol  plates do today.  It is possible that the banana leaves also added some nutritional factors to the food.  The mango leaves are used in most Indian homes to decorate the house during festivals.  It is possible they have disinfectant qualities and may be other qualities good for the human beings.

We all have had neem leaves as medicine for many diseases in direct and indirect forms.  The fragrance of euqualaptus leaves can cure cold, cough and other respiratory issues.  We also have betel leave after a heavy and sumptuous meal.  We are told that apart from enriching us with calcium they are good for digestion.  I recall eating betel leaves with salt when I was a kid to cure myself of stomach aches.  We use the coriander and Curry leaves for cooking in Indian homes.  Spinach is a popular green leaf cooked as vegetable and high on vitamins.

Lemon grass is used to flavour food while cooking and so are the Bay leaves especially while making rice items.  Lettuce is a popular salad item in India and around the world.  Amongst vegetarians, using different types of leaves to add flavour to food is quite common.  Apart from adding flavour to food, they also provide us with a rich source of vitamins and other minerals essential to the body.

The leaves absorb carbon dioxide from the air and using the phenomenon of photosynthesis convert it into oxygen and release it back for the benefit of human beings.  Thus apart from providing food and flavours, they are also an important provider of oxygen for human existence on earth.  In today’s polluted cities, trees absorb a lot of air pollutants and helps reduce the toxins in the air.

Another fascinating story of the leaves is the vibrant colours they provide to the environment.  If you enter a forest, you will notice that leaves are not only in all shades of green but provide an array of colours and they also change with the seasons around the year.  They provide a good indication of the seasons with their shredding, regeneration and also changing of their colours.  The dried leaves are also a rich source of manure for the plants.

I have always been a great admirer of nature.  Today as I observed the leaves and reflected on how much they gift us with their abundance, I felt grateful to nature and its creations.  Even if we commit to do our little bit in the vicinity of our home and workspace to protect the trees and leaves around us, we will espouse our gratefulness to nature.

Let the leaves add greenery to our lives forever.

S Ramesh Shankar

Traditions versus Modernity


We all have inherited innumerable traditions from our families and societies.  They help us in life and living.  We need not rediscover the world as our forefathers have experienced most of it and left behind ways of dealing with life in most situations.  When we follow a ritual, we may call them tradition.  On the other hand, when we invent something new to deal with a new situation, we may call it modernity.

In life both traditions and modernity are equally important.  While traditions share lessons of the past, modernity helps us to break free from the past and deal with the future with an open mind.  I used to think that most of the traditions are redundant and may not answer the questions of life in the future.  I personally did not believe in many traditions and believed they were backward looking.

However, I recently went to my diabotologist to consult for my diabetes.  When he enquired about my food habits I explained how I had moved from traditional food to new oils and less calorie food products.  He smiled and advised me to revert to traditional food.  He explained as to how the human body adapts to the food based on weather and eating habits.  He further explained that oils and food items recommended by our grand parents are more healthy than what modern marketeers make us believe.  

This was indeed a revelation.  He explained the science behind traditions.  It appeared to make more sense.  After all traditions are also rooted in science and may be we do not believe in them because there was no marketing of traditions.  I am not for one recommending that all our traditions are noble.  However, it may be valuable to look at traditions with an objective mind.  We may challenge only those traditions which may have become irrelevant in modern life.

Another interesting example of traidition versus modernity is the science of “Vaastu”. I used to live in a beautiful green home in Bangalore till I moved to Mumbai.  My wife felt that that home was not vaastu compliant after staying there for three years.  I resisted from moving out of the house since we had moved in by choice and loved the environs.  However, when I was moving to Mumbai for change of my job in 2011 I agreed to sell that home and buy another similar green home.

Meanwhile I tried to study the science of “Vaastu” ( Indian traditional science of architecture).  I found it intriguing.  It explains the basics for the design of a house.  It explains as to why the kitchen should preferably be in the south east of the house.  This is because the maximum sunlight enters the house in this direction and hence it will be a natural prevention of pests and insects in the kitchen.  The master bedroom should be in the south west because it is the coolest place in the house and so on.

After having studied the basics of Vaastu, I can state that this tradition is worth emulating and following even today.  Every recommendation of Vaastu seems to rooted in science and although learnt through traditions is relevant to modern life.  No wonder one of the best insititutes of architecture in the country has recently decided to include the study of Vaastu as part of the curriculum.

As in the photo above, people of a southern state use cocunut oil for all their cooking as per tradition and still lead a healthy life without much impact on their cholesterol levels.

Let the traditions of the past help us redefine our life today.

S Ramesh Shankar

The Indescribale…


There are many things in life, which can never be described.  How do we describe the beauty of nature ?  How do we explain the colours of the sky during a sunset ?  What shades of green can be explained in an ever green forest ?  There are such and similiar situations, where words cannot explain a scene.  I would call them the indescribable moments of life.

I have experienced many moments in life, which are indescribable.  The first and foremost in my mind is the spectacle of nature from morning to night.  Every day when I get up and look at the sunrise and the cloud formation, it is a new picture and changes every second.  There have been days when my wife or me have seen a beautiful skyline at dawn and called upon our partner to have a look and it has disappeared or changed within seconds. 

Life is no different.  We go through ups and downs in life and every moment is precious.  There are moments of joy, when words cannot express our feelings.  We may not be able to share our joy with others or express it ourselves.  It may be an inner feeling of happiness and contentment, which is to be experienced to be believed.  It happens to me in moments of solitude.  It could be a lonely temple or a monastery in a forest.  There is no human being or animal around you but you feel one with nature and this moment can never be described or shared with anyone at that moment.

The situation is similar when we are sad.  It could be a day when you are remembering your parents, who left you on earth decades back.  You recall life’s greatest lesson taught by them and feel their vacuum in your life.  This feeling of inertness cannot be expressed to anyone in words or emotions.  You cry to yourself and sometimes even without shedding a tear from your eyes.  No force on earth can console you during these moments and your tears appear to dry up even before they roll down your eyes.

At work too you have moments, which are not describable to any one.  You feel you are competent to deal with a situation and take on a project based on your likes.  But as you go through the project there are days of despair when you feel helpless and lonely.  You do not feel like sharing this feeling or emotion with anyone around you lest you are misunderstood by anyone.

Even within your family and home, there are moments when you do not want to share your emotions with anyone lest you hurt them.  You may have had a bad day at work but you believe your family members should not bear the burden of your work pressures and hence you hide your feelings.  These moments are equally difficult to describe for anyone who is going through them in reality.

So life has moments of joy and sorrow.  We find it easy to describe some of these moments.  However, there are other moments when words cannot express what we go through.  We neither can share through words nor through emotions what we actually go through.  It is these moments we need to learn to deal with ourselves so that we spring back to balance life our own way.

How can we describe the formation of the clouds and the colour of the skyline during a beautiful sunset on any day as in the photo above ?

Let us learn to live with life the way it is rather than the way we want it to be always.

S Ramesh Shankar

Spectacle of our eyes


I have always wondered as to how God created our eyes as the best camera in the world.  No technology in the world has been able to beat our eyes to capture pictures around us.  The best of cameras I have tried in my life so far have not come even near the beautiful capture of our eyes.  It captures in three dimension or may be four.  As apart from the three dimensional picture, it also conveys an emotion to our brain to appreciate the beauty.

Let us start with nature.  We can neither capture sunrise nor sunset with a camera as well as our eyes displays it to us.  The clouds in the sky, the trees, the mountains, the rivers, the valleys and et all are picturized by our eyes like no camera ever can.  The birds, the animals, the insects or even the landscape around us is best visualised by our eyes.  I sometimes wonder as how to express my gratitude to God to bestow me with such a beautiful pair of eyes.

In my view the beauty of a human being is best seen through their eyes.  As they say, the eyes speak more than a thousand words.  We can feel the emotions of a person through their eyes.  When in joy, our eyes sparkle.  When in sorrow, our eyes are moist and give away our sadness.  A mother’s eyes expresses care without a word uttered to her child.  Similarly a father’s stern eyes may deter a child from doing a wrong.

At the workplace, we also speak through our eyes.  Many a times we need not utter a word to say we agree or disagree on any issue as our eyes will convey it to the other person even before we utter a word on the subject. Eyes symbolise words through expressions.  If you look at pieces of art – a painting or a sculpture, the artist conveys her or his emotions through the eyes of the art.  Just by changing the design of the eyes the meaning of an art piece can be changed.

The communication between a small kid and her parents are primarily through the eyes especially when the kid is yet to utter her first word in life.  Children can express all forms of emotions through their eyes easily.  They laugh, cry, get angry or express sorrow by the wink of their eyes.  Eyes express more than words.   Words do not carry emotions with them but eyes do.

Most of us have experienced or seen lovers communicating through their eyes. It may be classmates in college or colleagues at the workplace.  They may not even talk to each other in the presence of others.  But the communication through their eyes signifies the intensity of their love for each other.  This has been picturized very well in movies and plays and described eloquently in songs and poetry around the world.

As in the photo above, the eyes speak for themselves.

While all senses of the human body – sight, touch, sound, taste and smell are equally significant , sight through our eyes is the most beautiful.   Let us be blessed to admire nature and beauty in life through our eyes forever.  Let our eyes inspire us to look at the world through the beauty of other human beings, animals and things.  Let us learn to love other humans, animals and plants through the positive expression of our eyes.

Let our eyes give us sight and insight.

S Ramesh Shankar

Art of Music


“A thing of beauty is joy forever” said Keats.  I experienced this while attending a music programme today.  The singer explained how art has different forms.  She said that when a sculptor carves something it is beauty of form.  When a painter draws something it is beauty of sight.  When a dancer displays her art, it is beauty of expression.  When a musician sings, it is beauty of sound.

This struck a chord with me.  I had always been a connoisseur of beauty in all its forms.  Nature has always inspired me and so has music.  Interestingly I have no knowledge of music but every time I listen to soothing music, I transcend to a different world.  I have always enjoyed all forms of music and especially instrumental music.  Today it was Carnatic music but the way the singer explained the notes and connected them to beauty and spirituality, it was wonderful.

Another interesting dimension of music is that it has no language, religion, region or country.  It transcends boundaries of nations and cultures.  It unites the world in all its forms and makes you spiritual.   Music has healing properties too.  When I am feeling low, I love to listen to music.  It soothes my soul and relieves me of all my stress and strain.  Music is therapeutic and it definitely relieves you of all your pain.

I love to listen to music when I travel and it cools my body and mind.  Music also triggers my creativity and many a time its crystallises the thoughts in my mind and then words flow like a stream through my blogs.  I love to listen to music to relax.  I wonder how music soothes our body and soul.  It is indeed an art form expressed in sound. The most interesting aspect of music is that you enjoy it even if you do not understand its meaning.

In the picture above,  the singer explained the art of music and how it is a form of beauty and expressed in sound.  She sang Carnatic songs and explained the origin of music from the Vedas.

In the Indian tradition, music is played from the time of birth till the last rites of a person.  It helps us celebrate festivals and enjoy occasions.  The temples, churches and monasteries reverberate with the music of the bell.  The soothing sounds takes you to a different world.  The early morning chirping of birds is another form of music, which revitalises you at dawn and dusk if you are in sync with nature.

Music has no description.  Just as beauty has no dimension.  It cannot be described in words nor documented in a book.  It has to be experienced to be believed.  It has to be felt to discover its beauty.

Let us enjoy the beauty of music in life.

S Ramesh Shankar

We win some and lose some…


We win some and lose some.  Life is a zero sum game.  Today we had three international games in which India played.  The first was when an Indian won the Indonesian open badminton final.  The second was a hockey match where India defeated its sub continental counterpart with style.  In the third match, India lost to the better team of the day in the champions trophy cricket final.  The whole nation forgot about the spectacular victories in badminton and hockey and was cursing the Indian cricket team for its loss.

The lesson I learnt today is our ability to accept loss in a game with grace.  We cannot win every game in our life and there are days we may win and other days we may lose.  We need to learn to accept victory with humility and loss with grace.  I do accept that we are a cricket loving nation and this sport has almost become a religion in India.  It brings together the whole nation and stirs emotions. But to swing to extremes of emotions on winning or losing a game may not be a good idea.

This phenomenon is true for life too.  We may win on many occasions and lose in some.  We need to learn to be humble in victories and reflective in defeat.  This is easier said than done.  We tend to get proud on being victorious in life.  If we continue to top the class or represent the school in a sport, it may go into our head.  We may get into the best school or college based on absolute merit.  We may then end up in the dream company of our choice.  All this should be accompanied by our feet firmly on the ground.  We need to learn to realise that victory could any day be followed by defeat.

On the other hand, when we fail in an exam or do not get admitted to a college of our choice, we almost give up in life.  Neither victory nor defeat is permanent in life.  The earlier we realise this, the more successful we may be in life.  In the cycle of life, victories and defeats are also cyclical.  God bestows us with the best of everything in life based on our hard work and commitment.  We taste success and the moment there is an aota of doubt that we have become proud because of our success, he gives us a taste of failure.

As the successes in life make us feel good and move forward, the failures in life should make us reflect, learn and bounce back.  We neither should climb a tree and announce to the world that we have arrived on achieving our first success, nor we need to regret our first defeat in life.  In my learning in life, failure teaches you more than success. Hence, the need to accept success and failiure in life with equal equanimity.

In my experience, success and failure in life is like the day and night.  We can neither expect the day light to last forever nor expect the night to be omnipresent.  Night begins when day ends only to give way to the next day.  Sun sets today to rise again tomorrow.  Just like the plants and animals learn to live with day and night, we as humans need to accept victories and defeats in life with equal respect.

As in the photo above, we can learn from a kid how to accept defeat gracefully when he is not able to climb a tree.

Every victory will make us proud and should do so.  Every defeat will teach us lessons, which in turn will make us victorious in the future.

Is it time to learn to accept defeat with grace ?

S Ramesh Shankar