Posted in Women & Family

Breastfeeding Awareness.

World Breastfeeding Awareness Week is observed from August 1st monday until today August 6th. Stepped into government’s Children’s Hospital ICH, Egmore (Neonatal) (Institute for Child Health & Hospital For Children) for the very first time in my life where the newborns are housed along with the pre-terms (pre-matured) fighting to make it the big world outside, from their incubators hooked to beeping machines. Young mothers nurse their babies as expectant mothers wait for their delivery. The entire place is buzzling with activity and the corridors are thronged by women of all ages. Yet in the chaos, there seems to be some orderliness. For, I never expected a state run hospital to be so good and efficient and clean. But I should have. I have after all in my younger years gone for procedures at Health centers that were neat and hygienic. And their services were FREE. My house-help delivered her pre-term baby boy here in Egmore hospital where he was well cared for, and having made it successfully to the world from the incubator, he is now working for an IT company. He is the first time graduate of his entire family. This is one family having benefited from government subsidies. People question about reservations and subsidies. I don’t because, I see all the time how the concessions have helped transform and build lives. Before I proceed any more, I have to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for the serving medical professional who mooted the breastfeeding awareness campaign as well as the nursing stuff for nurturing young lives and rekindling hopes in mothers with their babies in incubators.

What is positivity, what is it about making others REAL happy. You only have to step into places like these to know what is life all about. Everytime a baby from the incubator makes it to the real world the nursing staff dance. And that is the dance. Everytime a breastmilk donor gets the milk bank a sachet for a baby in distress, the staff sing and whistle welcoming the literally large hearted and generous mother for her very noblest charity.

Most mothers feel low even after they become grandmothers should they not have breastfed their babies to the best of their ability. I met mothers who shared this sentiment in their 50s and 60s sounding as though they had delivered just a week or month earlier! Their anguish at not having fed their babies to their heart’s content still makes them feel guilty. I do share such an emotion myself for having been a working mom in the 1990s when we did not have breast pumps at least in India. So when women returned to work, breast milk would end up getting emptied into the ladies room washstand. On the other hand some mothers simply did not produce enough lactation. Their babies were on formula feed within a month.

Working conditions are a lot improved in the private sector these days with prolonged maternity leave of upto one year on loss of pay basis to encourage breastfeeding and boost mother-newborn bond. Corporates in last ten years allow women stepping out twice a day for an hour to breast feed their babies.

One of the physicians who took to the dias explained how even having guests could distress the babies and affect the oxytocin produced by the mother which went a long way in helping produce lactation. Stress is an important factor that hampers lactation in mothers. Human psychology and emotions affected our harmones. The bond that must be established between the mother and the newborn gets disturbed and delayed. This was cited as one scientific reason for low level or lack of lactation in some women.

The celebration today was about felicitating mothers who donated their extra milk to the milk bank in the city. This comes to the rescue of mothers not lactating sufficiently or to those babies in the incubators who cannot be formula-fed. I have heard of milk banks earlier but to be seeing real donors and interacting with young mothers and learning of the facilities proved to be very informative and educative. I was toying whether to write about this biological phenomenon about women or miss it. I decided to go for it because, the motive of the campaign is first to spread the word. And we must do it by all means. Some of us women represented NGOs and we gave away nutritional food hampers to new mothers that can aid in lactation.

The nursing staff were very enlightening and entertaining at the same time. In my school days a girl named Ruksana would perform Villuppaattu but today the sisters of the hospital did just that informing the crowds how to save milk and make it fit and usable for other newborns in need. This could save many young lives.

This wonderful young mother of a 4.5 month old baby boy told us that she has so far donated over 30 liters of human milk to the milk bank in the hospital. We gave her a standing ovation. Her target is 100 liters. And she is an IAS officer. She said, the cooperation of the spouses, the parents of the mother and the in-laws have a role to play in enabling women to come forward for donating milk. Milk bank is not strange and breast milk donation is not taboo. Like blood donation, human milk donation goes towards saving and nurturing lives. Just the way the blood rejuvenates within hours of donation in the case of the blood donor, the breast milk too is rejuvenated as easily. There is no loss of milk or drop in lactation for the donor’s baby. That’s the point. Breast pumps are available to milk in the extra milk. There are NGOs who run flying squads to collect the milk in time (which means immediately), run a battery of tests to rule out contamination, then preserve it (or freeze it) so that the milk can be warmed for use when necessary. They literally call it the ‘thanga dravam’ (golden liquid) in Tamil. I can’t find a better word for mother’s milk.

I understand that in chillier weather, breast milk can be stored at room temperature for two to four hours. My own granddaughter was fed the milk pumped from breast from two to six months. In tropical climate like India’s, quicker refrigeration is necessary and the shelf life of the milk is extremely limited. Milk collection also takes time given the traffic. So that is where the flying squad NGOs step in. Their tagline is ‘step up breastfeeding’ and they go out of the way to procure milk from mothers to make it available to needy babies. Really just listening to their awesome service shook me to the roots. Most of these good samaritans are actually men!

There are nobler ways to grow as an individual, evolve into a better human and make people happier bringing them peace. We can gift fellow humans LIFE. The potential to fulfil these divine aspirations is there is every one of us.

About fifteen young mothers were felicitated for their timely breastmilk donation to the milk bank that helps sustain young lives. The mothers came from all backgrounds: from working girls to housewives and blue collar workers. Interestingly they were accompanied by their husbands who they said, did n’t mind staying awake in the night hours to pump the breast milk, to sterilize the feeding bottles, to store/freeze the milk for donation or sometimes even deliver at the milk bank in the hospital. India needs men of this kind.

The director who spoke underscored the importance of breastfeeding. Colostrum or the first breastmilk of mothers is very vital for babies as it contains valuable nutrients that can give the newborns immense immunity. The babies’ physical and mental health (IQ) improves. Breastfeeding babies at least three to six months keeping out the formula feed is a must. Donor mothers and the medicos and the nursing staff said one thing in unison: that there is nothing called NO-LACTATION. They said it is knack to get lactation and the mothers must be primed right from pregnancy as to how to not be tempted to go in for formula at the drop of the hat. The secret lay in persistence, never giving up.

As mothers, as grandmothers it is our duty to spread the news about breast milk donation and the breastmilk bank. The Milk bank is operational at ICH in the last nine years. It is now procuring close to four hundred liters of milk which is a very healthy figure. It goes a long way in feeding pre-term babies fighting for their survival in the warmth of the incubators. And other newborns whose mothers are not able to lactate for various reasons.

I am here talking about the milk bank with ICH only. No idea on private maternity homes. I understand that the obstetricians are in a convincing position to affirm to the donor mothers on the importance of breastmilk donation. Finally it all boiled upto them. Is there anything Chennai does not have? Blood banks, Sperm banks, Milk banks and Placenta or Umbilical Cord banks. Yet if anything has a dearth of donors, it is the milk bank.

Quality time. I have to thank my club for giving me exposure to hitherto unexplored grounds. Even as a mother and grandmother I needed to know better. Its not just about charity, its about our mindset. I have been personally involved in some private charities, but working in tandem with a group is another level. This way we come across altogether new aspects of life and needs for assistance. We can tap into genuine and worthy causes,

Really impressed with the Dean who spoke without batting his eyelid on breastfeeding. Kudos. He was to the point. Never made us women squirm. On the other hand I felt most respectful towards him. He has been delivering in detail on breastfeeding for a week now. Women feel comfortable with him. It is good to be told that a woman’s breasts are the ‘Akshaya Patra’ for newborns and the more you give, the more the mothers lactate. The milk never depletes or recedes just like, lighting a thousand diyas from a single diya (lamp) will not kill the flame or glow from the donor diya. You cannot explain milk donation better.

My ladies have no qualms about talking openly about breast milk and sharing their very private motherhood stories in public. I understand what openness really means. What maturity of a society is all about. And how there are REAL avenues to work on with people and help them in their lives if we truly care. MISSION BREASTFEEDING. May every mother pitch in so that our babies stay off formula feed for at least upto their first birthday.

Posted in Mylapore Musings

My simple stateboard school teachers taught us life lessons.

I have so much time today (as always :D). As my friends brought out the memories of my standard 8 and 9 class teachers who I just adored in my school days, I want to write about them here today.

Teachers are special to me naturally as my mom was one and my aunt too.

In class 8, Mrs. KN Indra was my class teacher. In standard IX it was MA Padmavathy who we called MAP for short. Both were residents of Mylapore.

KN Indra miss lived in the other side of my street. She used to sport a big namam in her forehead. She was widowed young with two children. Her son was my age. Her husband was killed in a scooter accident. I knew as much because she did her teacher training with my aunt before joining my school as teacher. So my mother and my aunt were friends with her.

KN Indra miss used to be very soft. Even if we girls would scream in class, she would get upset and punish herself. Like there would be tears in her eyes. She would never shout at us. Classes 7, 8 and 9 are very hard for teachers to handle. For class 7, I had Santhalakshmi miss as class teacher who taught us both English and Maths. True to her name she was such a ‘shanthaswaroopini.’ Again my mother and aunt were friends with her. My mom knew most of my middle school teachers as they all attended my school, were alumna of my school and they continued to live in Mylapore, with some joining their alma mater as secondary grade teachers. It was only my mother who opted to teach speech and hearing impaired girls. She was handpicked for it by her Mother Superior in a Santhome teachers’ training school. She thought it was her calling.

One of my memories from class 7 is that of my mom coming straight to my school to attend Open day. Our school had class 6 and 7 in an annexe building called ‘Sudharma’ that was opposite my school. That building became the first casualty in commercializing of my school when a CBSE school started functioning there some 20 years ago. My mother struck up an easy conversation with Santhalakshmi miss, my class teacher. She was talking to my AHM Mrs Nagamani, I could see she was popular and well remembered old girl. None of my classmates had a working mom then. I was so proud of her. I did get to meet Mrs Santhalakshmi in school alumni meets in last few years. She keeps flying to the US to be with her son more. She remembers us amazingly individually. Of course, none of my teachers can forget me because of my mother and my tragedy.

KN Indra miss also was a very soft and sweet soul. If we girls would every make noise, she would close the class doors and windows. She would plead with us to stop.

Class 7 and 8 saw many girls coming of age right in our class. Maximum girls attended puberty in these two years. It needs motherly care and love and affection to deal with the confused and sometimes terrified girls. I remember how our teachers handled these cases. In all girls school, with a class of 45 girls, imagine the state of our class teachers who themselves were then mothers to boys and girls of our age. They were most understanding. They would openly talk to us and tell us they were there for us. We girls needed such a psychological support.

KN Indra miss of course was a personal favourite. I wrote an entrance for class 6 admission in my school. Until 5th, I was with Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore. She came to my house then and said, our school was lucky to get me on their roll. I still cannot forget those complements. Although I was extremely shy then, those words meant the world to me. They still matter to me after all these years.

KN Indra miss would have golu for Navrathri. During class 8, I went as family friends to her house. In class she would never show in the presence of other girls that she knew me at personal level. But she was ever so kind. She was such a stickler for proper grammar. I had no problems with grammar even then – my basics were ok I guess, yet I benefited a lot with her. Our stateboard English was very simple. Indra teacher also taught us maths. I used to score centums and very high marks in both her subjects. I and my friend Varalakshmi maintained second and first top positions in general proficiency (GP) from class 6 to 10. Every time my mother met Indra teacher in my presence, she never missed telling my mother what a fine student I was. It made my mom very happy. Now thinking of it after all these years I am happy that my mother got to hear at least those few words about me from one of the most influential characters in my life. Indra teacher’s brother worked for the Hindu so she was dwelling in the top floor of her brother’s house. Later on she moved out and I lost touch with the family. She was shaken, broken when my mother took an untimely exit. She was a personal friend, a family friend, and my mother would give her words of comfort as Indra teacher was widowed young. I was by that time in 9th, yet whenever we met in school or in street, she would melt looking at me. She could never. Indra teacher’s elder sister Rajalakshmi worked with my aunt.

My 9th class teacher was MAP. She had such a great dressing sense in those days. She would never repeat her saris. And for the sari, she would match exactly her kumkum (no sticker bindi in those days). Big big colourful bindis. We girls ofcourse mercilessly poked fun on her. She knew it but took it in right spirit. Once she told us her only child – her son – was in medical college. We all wanted to date him without knowing him!!! MAP taught us English and science. She was full of humour and she was way different from KN Indra who would be very serious. MAP’s closest friend was a teacher we nicknamed ‘backbutton’ Rajeshwari lols. Her blouses all had buttons in the back and she would sport a big bun. Those two would sit crosslegged sprawled down our side stairs to value our papers etc. These two with Mrs. D Kalyani (DK) and Mrs. Kathyaayani (our geography teacher) were a gang. Awesome ladies in those days. That was their favourite spot: turning flat of the stairs that had some room. No fan. No fan in my school anywhere. How did we even live. For thousands of girl students who got their monthly periods, only 20 washrooms, 10 in each floor. Yet we never complained. We drank straight from school taps.

MAP lived in Karpagambal Nagar in Luz. For us its like someone living in white house. We had such a reverence for her style, her charisma. My girls even remember the pranks we played on her and the day-by-day arguments with her. When my mother passed away, my school sent her and one more teacher to lay a wreath on my mother – she was such an illustrious student, my mother. Mrs. Satyabhama, our then head mistress, our correspondent Chellammal all were fond of my mother. They remembered her by name. That is the highest respects my school payed for my mother – their alumna who went on to teach the hearing and speech impaired middle school girls. Mrs Bhama and Chellammal never married to serve the girls’ school. We mischievous girls waited for Chellammal to die so that we could have a school holiday! But even after I became a mother, I once met our correspondent in Kapaleeshwara temple. She was very old. She lived within our school premises. I sought her blessings. She daily walked to the temple with an attendant. Can we ever come across such souls in our life. I feel blessed to have studied in this simple school. Bhama and Chellammal together took our school to great heights. My mother and aunt studied under both.

Years later I learnt that MAP’s only son who was working as doctor in the UK died of heart attack. MAP herself did not have a good marriage. She was separated I guess. Not sure. She was widowed in my college days. We girls met her once in our school alumni day. I don’t think we spoke to her about her son. She was well aged. She looked tamed by life. I was filled with memories of her lying a wreath on behalf of my school on my mother. Exactly her son was the same age as my mother when he passed away. Her only child. I had no words for consolation. But I still think of the great lady, her class everything that used to be a big influence on us girls. Until class 8 I never paid attention to my physical looks. MAP invoked in us girls a need to present yourself neat and clean. You don’t have to dress up much – at least you must be presentable. The care she took with her grooming in those days. Yet she carried herself with such a dignity. It was n’t cheap. Same colour bangles. Clips everything. That was her trademark. We girls had a game guessing which colour drape for her the next day. Imagine her wearing a green sari sporting a big green kumkum dot on her forehead! She draped the rarest of colours and never did she miss her matching kumkum! She was a style statement for her times and age. She was also a stickler for grammar. Her chemistry or biology classes never bored. I guess the responsibility of reviving math-science interest in young girls and boys rests with their 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th standard teachers. A couple of my class girls because extremely close to MAP and do remain so to this date.

DK our history teacher from 8th to 10th came to us from a rowdy Madurai boys school as she told us the very first day. She would never take her seat but perch herself atop the bench. She had late pregnancy in our 10th standard. Until then she was such a tough nut. In the very first class she bellowed, ‘why do they say the sun never sets in the british empire.’ No clue really lolz. We were in 8th but I had a fair idea. I was too scared to spell it out for her. She would break a chalk piece and throw it on girls if she saw someone talking in the class or not listening to her. One angry woman! She was nothing like other teachers who were all softspoken. She was a volcano. But inspite of her rigid demeanour, she always softened towards me. My grades were also a reason. Once during exam supervision, she sat on my bench and was reading every word that I wrote in exam. Not just once, always she did that I don’t know why. I understood that years later. She probably wondered at the motherless girl filling up pages after pages. Me and my friend Varalam went for maximum extra sheets always! DK never spoke to me much but whenever she would come for exam supervision I would wait for her to sit on my bench and read my exam paper. In my class 11, DK had a late delivery. Her son is now a married man. Met her during school alumni meet. Remembers us all invidually.

Bhama teacher our HM and beloved teacher of my mother taught us English poetry. Shakespeare etc., she would take one hour for just one para. I don’t remember the finer details but we girls waited for her class. She taught us only in standard X. As she was also our HM she missed many classes. But I cherish her classes even today. She taught my mother, she taught me. My mother used to speak about her English language classes. Satyabhama was her class teacher.

Kathyayani was our geography teacher. Very good language and very well informed. Teachers had to bun their hair in my school – like in my mom’s school. I remember the big bun of Kathyayani miss and backbutton Rajeshwari. Impressive!

My school is entwined with my mother for me. So many memories. My school is part of my destiny. Now my school is getting commercialized and I don’t like it a bit. I think of my selfless teachers so affectionate toward us girls, as if we were their own daughters. We girls are what we are today because of our teachers.

We had a new HM Mrs Nirmala around our class 12, who we nicknamed ‘chemmy nimmy’ as she taught chemistry. Just a couple of years back I met my miss in front of a Mylapore temple. Before I could wish her, she embraced me recognizing me. She said even if she had trouble remembering names and batches sometimes, she never missed recognizing any of her girls. She asked me about my life and was happy to learn I was doing fine. Such is the love and affection our teachers showered on us.

I have to make a special mention of Mrs Mary Joan who is no more. She was our games teacher. From class 6 to 10 she made us do shortput, long jump, high jump, running, tennikoit, basketball, volleyball everything systematically recording our invididual statistics. I wonder what happened to those notes now! She was so diligent in her duties. She was a terror to us girls. I had a different games miss for my standard 11 & 12 but she was not like Mary Joan miss. Now I understand what that strictness about Mary Joan was all about. I owe my discipline in everything to Mrs Mary Joan-like mindshapers in my life. The girls all remember her for her alarm clock precision.

What fees did we pay ? All of thirty tree rupees in 1979 June for my standard VI annual fee. From then on my school fees rose by 20 to 30 rupees every year. Only by my standard 11 and 12 it became 150 rupees which my family thought was expensive. My books were always borrowed. My aunt reserved my books from a senior girl in her school that we got at half rate. I passed on my books to my sister. My grandfather got us the extra books if any and notebooks. Always he was the one to get us our notebooks every year with his hands. He would take us to Vijaya stores in Mylapore on auspicious day and get us whatever we wanted fresh such as log book, map drawing note, graph note, drawing note etc apart from note books. Notebooks and books and uniforms were not on school account as ours was a simple state board school that was government aided (with salaries for staff provided by govt). For the kind of fees we paid, we girls have harvested a lot really. The quality of our teachers… From my school teachers, I can imagine what kind of teacher my mother could have been. I may be a housewife but my friends are all doctors and engineers and chartered accountants and teachers themselves.

How many quiz programs we attended, how many satsangs in school every year (one whole week), navratri golu in the school, all pujas in school. You have to look at our marble Saraswathi, goddess of wisdom. We recited prayers to Her every morning in our school assembly. The same Saraswathi to who my mother too sang her prayers. This school has produced great personalities who went on to make a mark in our society – from Dr Shantha or Cancer Institute Madras who dedicated her life to cancer treatment for half a century to Vani Jayaram, the playback singer and actor Lakshmi of Julie fame. Many thousands of illustrious girls who are not known to public.

Never felt any less because I attended a stateboard school. My girls are with me from my school. In that state board school library in Sudharma building only, I saw a copy of National Geographic for the first time in my standard 6. My school was subscribing to the journal. I read every issue that came my way and was fascinated by wild life right then. 1979-80: picture National Geographic issue in your hands as a stateboard school girl of 11 years. Stateboard schools have their potential untapped even today. Very underrated. If anything, these budget schools are down to earth and make you street smart. You can survive under any condition. Our orthodox school with ‘Aiyar’ name still did not shy away from distributing milk and eggs and codliver capsules to poorest girls in our school – it was a must for these girls to go to dispensary every single day and take the A & D capsules with eggs and a warm glass of milk and mark their presence. Midday meals were free for lower income family girls – without taking a single paisa from govt. School trust funded. Thinking back I am proud of whatever my school managed, achieved.

Now the same school quadrangle is divided, my school is partitioned, who my X ‘A’ classroom belongs to I don’t know. Its a family dispute among the trustees that is seeing the school hurt and damaged and made a piecemeal of. Last heard, our quadrangle is even leased out to Carnatic concerts. Its no more open to the skies but enclosed like for a stage act. Watching my classroom from the street just a couple of weeks back I couldn’t swallow the lump that was forming in my throat.

Posted in Extras

44th Chess Olympiad, Chennai, August 2022

World Chess Championships, Chennai, 2022

Never knew Chennai is the Mecca of Indian Chess! Oh my! Not without a reason. The city with 17 grandmasters the natural favourite to win the bid to host the championships yet again, Chennai has been gripped by chess fever last few weeks. There are chess mascot and chessboard rangolis and kolams adorning our doorsteps. There are theme songs composed for the olympiad. City streets are painted like the chess board. And then there have always been the chess board saris! The championships are underway since last thursday, inaugurated by PM Shri Narendra Modi and CM of Tamil Nadu, MK Stalin.

Obligatory post. Blogging for the only reason that I wouldn’t want to miss out on this one even if I play lousy chess without a strategy. Disappointing that local hero Vishwanathan Anand, two times (or more?) world No.1 has bowed out (or stayed out rather) of the olympiad but kudos to him for getting the venue to Chennai. From Koneru Hampi (women’s) to Praggnanandhaa, India has been churning out world grandmasters in steady stream. Chess is everyone’s favourite game not only in Chennai but entire south India. Why not, the Chaturang or Chess originated in India after all. With about 180 participating nations, the current chess olympiad is a big event for Chennai. Magnus Carlson, renowned world chess champion, is the star of the show. He has announced this could be his last, China and Russia not playing seems to have no effect on Chess enthusiasts. Pakistan players pulled out of the olympiad without playing a single tournament. The US are primed to win the championships even if India B pipped India A as both maintain a stead stream of wins.

When scuba divers play chess under Chennai sea:

Chess is clearly a sensation! Happy chessing! Ping me for a game of online chess (just kidding)!

Posted in Pictures Foreign

Review: Sea Beast

Emotional watching ‘Sea Beast’ on Netflix. Animated film, loved every minute of it being a wildlife lover whether terrestrial or oceanic. Happened to visit the Sea world in Orlando where they claimed to be undertaking some rehabilitation work. Still I wasn’t comfortable, neither was my son who thought the sea creatures just did not belong in there. Most of us must have been to the Dophin shows and/or Sea Lion shows some time or other. Regret it now. Ashamed. We are all in a way encouraging netting of these sea beasts and in confining them to big water tanks. At the end of the day, an aquarium is nothing more than a imprisoning cage. Both the dolphins and sea lions have a very high IQ, close to that of humans, that gets us excited. We try to make them our pets just like we trap elephant calves in India for domestication. Zoos and aquaria must exist only for conservation purposes and for breeding of exotic and endangered species, not for our entertainment.

After watching a couple of pictures of Whale hunting and Orcas, this one made more sense to me. Particularly the innards of the Red Bluster where Jacob and Maisie walk into. Rang a bell as I was sorely reminded of the whale oil expeditions when schools in thousands were speared to bleed to death from the Atlantic to the Pacific all the way down from Latin America to Australia. The shark whale oil is what lit up the world for centuries. Even today we have the cod liver oil (capsules) for essential nutritional supplement. Wonder ever how and when that came to be. You got to watch the picture ‘the heart of the sea’ with NO edits.

The Sea Beast is a charming fairytale like story with the little orphan girl who loses her parents to monster hunting in Monarch, an older expedition, sneaks into the hunter’s ship drafted for the sea. Jacob the renowned hunter is not amused and he is poised to succeed the captain who follows a lineage of famed hunters. When the bluster goes for the ship, the girl and the hunter get thrown together when they forge an unusual friendship. The red bluster herself completes the trio of curious friends. In a very sweet twist of imagination, the bluster and Jacob and Maisie along with a blue little sea squid (am not sure) see some sunny days before the bluster sails them to the Rum Pepper island, kind of reconnaissance port for the men of the sea. Here the imperial fighter that voyaged into the sea to compete in the hunt with its admiral captaining the vessel, is done to dust by the red bluster. The bluster is then captured by the captain of the Inevitable, the seasoned and legendary hunter galleon. Poisoned, the bluster is hauled to the kingdom before the royals with the subjects assembled to greet the hunters returning with trophy. Maisie helps free the red bluster with Jacob and educate the crowds of how it is all wrong. She pleads with the king and the queen and the masses and the soldiers to STOP the war of centuries with the sea monsters. Red bluster returns to the sea as the kingdom promises to STOP monster hunting forthwith.

A must watch for wildlife lovers. Superb animation from Disney. Some punch dialogues like ‘you may be a hero but you may still be wrong.’ The transformation of human psyche from hunter to conservationist is natural and convincing. Even an animated film showing the graveyard of the sea monsters with killer spears stuck in their decaying humps and skeletal cages in the deep fathoms of the ocean and the oceanic floor can give you a rude shock. Very much alike the elephant graveyard in the Lion king, another and first fave animation pic of mine. Years back, the elephant graveyard I read about in one of Wilbur Smith’s. So much humanlike. Missing watching this lovely flick with my family who are great wildlife and nature lovers.

Posted in Food For Soul

Sheep Mentality.

Re-blogged from my old post with edits.

You know nothing about God if you are going to refer to God as ‘Him, him, him.’ For me it is She, Her, first and foremost. Or both Him and Her. He is nothing without Her.

Secondly, who told you God can only come from Israel or ARabia. My Gods came from the Himalayas.

Who says God must be only Arab or Caucasian. My god is INDIAN. BROWN. My gene. My DNA. Well, well. are we not having the Black Jesus now!

Who says God must have spoken Arab or Hebrew or Latin. My god spoke only Sanskrit and Tamil.

Who says Idol worship is not to be. If idol worship is not to be, why not rip your national flag to pieces. Why have a holy book and why the hue and cry when it is desecrated. Anything symbolic is idol – not just a sculpture, is it not. A number is idol. A book is idol. A bead is idol. Even a wall hanging or tapestry of your holy place is idol. A sculpted idol is as symbolic to a faith as the national flag is to a nation. No fool believes the idol is God. An idol is point of focus. If you can decipher this simplest basic truth, you won’t be berating idolatry.

Who says rituals are not fine. If you rule out rituals, then your religion will become violent. Are we not seeing this? Rituals are escapism and iron out the rigidity of a rigorous religion.

Why should you want to convert anyone. No Hindu ever tried to convert or conquer because we believed we were good. We don’t want to expand.

Who says there is a heaven or hell. There are conversion lobbies in both Christianity and Islam. But those who convert to Hindu Dharma convert because they understand the Hindu philosophy of God that can be attained only through a super consciousness. The ant and the boot story that I have written a lot about in my old posts. Your religion is what you see as an ant in front of the imposing boot of a tall man who is a miniscule in this world among the galaxies. That ant brain cannot think much more than that. If it tries, the ant brain will explode. But there are some ant brains that can break through the roof with meditation and reach higher realms of conscience. That is what God is. The Christ or Prophet or Buddha or Vivekananda or even Sai Baba or Ramana Maharishi all could do that. The sufi saints probably mastered the technique. The only other way you can crack the iron shell of your limited conscience is when our soul leaves our body or the temporary abode. Why do you think many in the west are embracing Buddhism and Hinduism on their own accord. Only because finally they understand that Dharma is not what they find in the Hindu temples or idols. This is for beginners. Like the base of the pyramid. Dharma is self realization or higher spiritual conscience that is possible only when you can break through the jinx still being the ant. When the ant in you can look beyond the boot, at the imposing man, at the sky, at the galaxy with a literal brainstorming, beyond its limited mental faculties, the ant becomes the so-called ‘Enlightened soul’ as per Hindu and Buddhist faiths. Like physical training, this can happen only with mental training: when you exercise your brains, with meditation. Transcendental meditation. (Yoga is an effective tool that can help you achieve such a physical-mental discipline).

The Enlightenment concept itself is originally Buddhist-Hindu. It literally means REALIZATION. You realize in your limited human faculties, something that cannot be imagined/realized otherwise.

What do you think Avatar is all about? Its nothing but such a Hindu philosophy. I am comfortable with my friends debating that perhaps Shiva is that alien who we can realize only with such a super conscience. Its a relief to know that a majority of Hindus believe that Shiva is a visitor to Earth. From a better evolved galaxy. Whose one whole day could be our one century. Like the life of an ant is just a few minutes of the lifespan of the imposing man whose boot the ant is staring at having no clue. This is what Hinduism is all about. Can you guys ever think the way a Hindu can. Nobody confines Shiva to mere Shiv Ling. This must be an eyeopener to critics of idol worship. Because, you don’t subscribe to idol worship, you say nobody can even draw your god or even your prophet because God is formless, ageless, but you have no issues assuming God is male or God could come only from your Arabia. Did God tell you He is arabic and that he is male. Only arabic and only male, to be precise? Well, mine most certainly IS NOT ARABIC, NOT ENTIRELY MALE. In fact She is half of Him who came down the Kailash.

How many islamists will have the open mind to think like a Hindu. Unlimited possibilities and permutations and combinations. It is irritating to see God reduced to a son of God, self-styled prophet, middle east and a self-authored rigid code book. These are not definitions of God. This is debilitating, very confining, restrictive.

The British/west understood the essence of the eastern faiths which is why the churches are collapsing. Not a single middle eastern religion could crack what the ancient eastern faiths could. Even today, the buddhist monks in Thailand or Tibet can leave their bodies at their whim to blend with the super consciousness. When the British realized the superiority of eastern faiths, they made mountain out of the molehill called idol worship trying to cover up the aura of the super consciousness or the concept of God as we know in India.

I am not a theologian but Hindu faith encourages all schools of thought. To a Hindu, only the super consciousness is God. Attainable only by your mind. Until your brain can break the chaining shackles and promote itself from the ant’s bodyframe to reach the upper echelons of conscience, you will be reborn in multiple janams – even a 1000 or more if it takes to. One fine day you can hit the jackpot with your ant-sized brain cracking it. Or perhaps human size, which is still easily said than done. And then you become the part of the superconsciousness. You merge with the Jyothi (light). You become one tiny constituting cell of the collective consciousness called God. Tree of life. The spirit tree as you see in Avatar. And then you will know that God is both He and She, that God lives both in Arabia and Himalaya and speaks Arabic, Latin and Sanskrit. That God is black, white, brown, yellow. And of course, that God never sent His son or Prophet because She had none! Only a few Gurus who worked it out right can train you with discipline how to attain that super consciousness when still alive in this body, in this janam. One of those gurus could be that son of god or prophet. As simple as that.

Posted in Pictures Desi

Rocketry: the Nambi Effect

I have watched as many live launches of IRSO satellites over years. Watching Chandrayaan-I, India’s first successful lunar mission, live with my school going son on tv was awesome. As the trajectory is traced, how many millions of Indians would have their hearts in their mouth waiting with bated breath for the satellites/SLV to break through the atmosphere shedding stages and join the predetermined orbit in the space. Most of these launches would have textbook precision. I may not be a scientist but visiting NASA in Florida and seeing Elon Musk’s Space X and touching the moonrock with my very hands are some of the most cherished moments of my life. More memories made at Air and space museums in Virginia. Humbled. How brilliant is the human brain. And how inconsequential is my own existence!

*****************

After watching Irrfan Khan investigate the Arushi murder case in the picture ‘Talwar’ establishing the truth, do we even need to be convinced of ISRO scientist Shri Nambi Narayanan’s innocence in the hastily filed spy case. How easily facts can be misconstrued and the media can ignite passions to mislead the public is very well illustrated in the tight and convincing script of Talwar. Its a must watch and it shakes the hell out of you. And it is not just story-screenplay-dialogue but is the very dissection of a criminal case step by step reconstructing the events and going by every single evidence and fact until the truth reveals itself. A clear cut scientific process. Irresponsibility when discharging their duties on part of those who held the office resulted in the innocent facing humiliation and punishment. Well, are those government officials and police personnel even sacked? Tried by the media and the masses, very quickly the doctor couple get judged. What an indescribable unquantifiable damage is done. Something like Arushi’s (bereaved) parents getting accused of murdering their only child and darling daughter should not happen to any Indian citizen. Dr Nambi Narayanan’s case is very similar, only the circumstances are different.

As far as I am concerned, there is this basic fact that clears the renowned scientist from the charges right in the first instance, that he should not even have come under the cloud of suspicion: nobody who foregoes a lucrative career at NASA on graduating from Princeton, to return to work for Indian salary can be capable of espionage against the country. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this very simple logic (pun intended). Are these guys crazy. Kerala is perfectly capable of forging fake cases given the communist and Hindu minority state it is. Most Keralites happen to think they are Arabs when all that they are doing is applying bootpolish to the sheikhs.

As the scientist himself avers in the close of the picture, who is really behind the plot needs to be exposed to the world. Well, we get an idea. Like in Arushi’s case, minor slips and very feeble alibis lead to wrongful incarceration of the innocent when the guilty flee the net. It is pretty clear whose handiwork is the framing of the top ISRO scientist, aimed at setting India back by decades in space sciences. After all how many Indian scientists have died under unnatural and mysterious circumstances from 1947. Homi Bhabha of atomic research conveniently died in plane crash. Vikram Sarabhai of ISRO was found dead. And the list is getting long with every following year.

Yet India became the first country in the world to taste success in maiden attempt in Mars mission over the US or China. ISRO went on to produce and launch cyrogenic engines to fuel our rockets. There are ups and downs in India’s cyrogenic journey but its the nation’s pride that the engine is desi. India went on to succeed in lunar missions and ISRO now is a global player when it comes to commercial leg of space technology earning the nation billions of dollars from international clients launching hundreds of satellites into the space.

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/tech-denied-isro-built-cryo-engine-on-its-own-4690709/

Justice delayed is justice denied true. But this story needs to be told. I won’t say Rocketry is a great picture but it serves the purpose of educating the ordinary Indian about how we betrayed a top scientist of India shamelessly and heartlessly. Every single Indian citizen needs to hang his/her head in shame for the horrible treatment meted out to this not only brilliant but also patriotic scientist. What the family must have gone through. Corrupt Indian politicians are stashing billions and billions in Swiss accounts but go scotfree while the brainiest and honest among us have to suffer for no fault of ours. Direction is by Madhavan. I won’t say Rocketry is a well made or entertaining flick, but as I said, it does the job.

Royal salute to the scientific community of India and to Shri Nambi Narayanan in particular. Not everyone can be bought over by the greed for money. Such a strong unflinching character. And the strings he pulls. What a single minded determination. The technical mumbo jumbo is hardly a deterrent as mostly the space lingo is understandable, broken down to layman level. Not only falsely implicated but also tortured in custody for a forced confession, the iron willpower of Nambi is admirable. On the supreme court clearing his name, the scientist is honoured with one of the nation’s top civilian awards which is a small consolation.

Vikas is indigenous and matchless rocket engine made in India! Proud of Vikas that has helped launch hundreds of desi/international satellites into space. Interesting referral to ex president late Abdul Kalam ji who was the missile man of India. In his initial years, Kalam, Vikram Sarabhai and Nambi Narayana seem to have done a great spade work for India in the space sciences. Kudos! What a dream team. ISRO did no wonder get a headstart! From transported on bicycles to functioning in a Kerala church to Mars mission and Brahmos, India has come a long, long way!

I would like to close the post wishing Shri Nambi Narayanan good health and peace. He deserves much, much more. Hearty wishes to his devoted family who stood by him in his hour of need.

ISRO is the dream of a billion Indians. You guys make us very proud. Thank you so much the real heroes of India! We the aam aadmi stand with you shoulder to shoulder.

Posted in Food For Soul

The Joy Of Giving.

Today one more dot connected me to my mother. We the club ladies, as part of our yearly projects, gave a cheque to a partially blind couple who are on a mission: in their limited capacity, they have rented two flats that they have turned into a hostel for blind girls from outstation who have arrived in the city to attend schools and colleges. Their magnanimity touches the very core of my being. The poorest, humblest among us have the biggest heart. Out of the fifteen girls they are sponsoring or aiding with food, residence, clothes, travel expenses, education fees, books etc., I found that two of the girls attend my mother’s school – I mean the school for the deaf and the dumb that my mother taught at until the last day of her life. Its forty years exactly since she left. I am no stranger to the blind section of her school where the Thamizh picture ‘Raja Paarvai’ starring Kamal Hassan and Madhavi was filmed in the year 1981. Until 1982, disability was part and parcel of my life. We sisters routinely went to our mother’s catholic convent to attend sports day to annual day. We were there for vacations and when my mother would go there for paper corrections during term holidays. We lit candles in the chapel for Christmas or whenever we went there. There are memories of blind children competing in sack race, running race, lemon and spoon etc. I think I have blogged a lot on this. I wonder what message my mother wants to pass on to me now: i have had three consecutive signs in matter of months that I WILL NOT dismiss as coincidence. I didn’t know that the trust was for the blind girls because I hadn’t browsed our group posts with attention. I don’t want to share the photos I clicked with the girls as I want to protect the privacy of the teenagers who are already at a disadvantage having no eye sight. It felt good interacting with them and with their caretakers. I was almost on the verge of tears. One of the ladies is sending them sanitary napkins every month: now that is rare sensitivity. Normally a selfie person, if there is one place I would rather not, it is when we are helping someone. I hate those pictures but the club is insistent on them. With banners and all. I wish we women spend more time chatting up the beneficiaries trying to know them better. The pleasure was ours not theirs. Which is why whatever I do, I do private and don’t always go through organizations.

This was my very first field visit for a project. In fact second after the one to a home for the aged. Today we had it back to back. Years ago I have visited a hospice that housed destitute women. Government partially funds these managements. The rest they source from sponsors/private benefactors. Of course, this one was run by a Christian charity. If I may: how many Hindus have it in them to engage themselves in selfless service. This is monumental and committed work. Incidentally, my mother’s institution was one of a kind and the very first in the city in those times although now we have many more.

One of the discoveries I have made is that, these charities are finding it difficult to run their day to day affairs. Food sponsors sometimes send hotel food that would not agree with the aged inmates’ health. Clothes are well taken care of. There are those like rentals, staff salary, bills to be paid, medical treatment, hospitalization expenses etc., that cannot be met with the trust funds. The needs are varied and not always rice and lentils. Senior citizens for instance may be waiting for their turn of cataract surgery.

Arriving well before time, I could spend some valuable time with aged abandoned women who had been brought to the home by the police. With no family to go back to, the women said they were fortunate to have found a home away from home. They had great company and good Samaritans took care of them! The blind girls can’t wait to graduate and make it on their own. I guess finally I found the one true positive vibe that sounded meaningful and made real sense.

The blind girls use Whatsapp effectively. They’ re keeping abreast with technology and are very well informed. Got a polite reminder that normal people like us never go through settings that enable non visual posts to be read by the blind. Pleasantly surprised to see the Braille in the reverse of their visiting card. For the first time in my life, I also got to touch and see the actual Braille text books – huge, huge volumes of them. I do intend to go back.

My intention is not to advertise but to merely show what an unfair world we live in. I feel subdued after this evening. I did go for shopping on my return but not without a guilty feeling. I couldn’t dismiss the girls out of my mind. I am satisfied I spent some quality time today with two different age group ladies: one too senior and sick; second lot young and raring to go inspite of their disability. Humbling experience.

It only takes a moment or less for our world to turn upside down. One heart attack. One diagnosis. One phone call. One accident. So what are we waiting for.

Yet another connecting dot to my mother. This was her world. She lived their life. She lived among them. With them. She was a different woman with kindest heart. I am proud she was my mother even if I hardly knew her.

Posted in Food For Soul

Elegance Is Character.

If you think elegance has got anything to do with clothes and manners and table etiquettes you cannot be further wrong. Elegance is not in the modulated tone of your voice and in the way you sashay. Elegance is more than skin deep. Elegance has nothing to do with your breeding or social status. Elegance is character: solid character.

Elegance is in love when love has integrity.

Elegance is kindness.

Elegance is neutrality.

Elegance never gets corrupted.

Understated elegance is when you don’t overdress to steal the spotlight from your host.

Elegance is when you underplay your self-importance.

Elegance is not attention seeking.

Elegance is modesty not flashy.

Elegance is empathy when you don’t suffuse the atmosphere with your toxic positivity.

Elegance is the joy of giving: your left hand knowing not the right hand giving away

Elegance is responsibility and justice.

Elegance is rationality

Elegance is DECENCY.

Elegance is self-love NOT narcissism.

Elegance is humility.

Elegance is authenticity not fake.

Elegance is the dignity of the soul.

Elegance prerequisites standards. Elegance enforces boundaries.

Elegance must not stop you from screaming your heart out for right reasons. Elegance should not have you putting up with emotional abuse. Elegance is NO NONSENSE. Elegance must let you ask for help if the situation demands. Elegance is honesty.

There is no elegance is selling your soul.

Elegance is the way things are. Natural. In their element. No over projection. Just the way it must be. Elegance is character that you cannot dismiss. Elegance is 24 carat gold.

Posted in Food For Soul

Toxic Positivity

It is next to impossible to stay upbeat all the time. If someone says he/she stays positive for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 30 days a month, 365 days an year, then it must be toxic positivity that is the subject matter. Nothing else makes sense. Toxic positivity has the nature of dismissing cautious optimism as negativity while overplaying a false optimism. Negativity at its worst can be discouragement but toxic positivity can be seriously damaging.

Toxic positivity is not only a state of denial but is also a blatant negation of others’ emotional experiences. That makes it selfish and heartless.

We all carry our baggage. Happiness by itself is a relative term. You can make a child orphaned at five years relatively happy as he grows up from the state of mind he was in when trauma struck. But you cannot take his past away. The scars will remain for a lifetime even if the wound may heal. Sometimes memories are all we are left with to make a precious connection. Empaths can slip into the shoes of the little boy. To toxic positive men/women, undermining and invalidating the latent grief in the boy will come natural. The boy may grow up to be a cheerful man with a healthy body and mind yet retain something from his traumatic past.

It is possible that some of us are toxic positive about ourselves. In that case, we are not doing ourselves any good. False hope can be toxic positivity.

Toxic positivity is deliberate underplaying of others’ legitimate emotional claims. It is belittling of someone’s authentic experiences in an attempt to make them feel less sure about themselves. Victims of toxic positive abuse may end up questioning their sanity and inferences that would be perfectly rational. One could have their confidence shaken and will broken. To put it in a capsule, toxic positivity is misplaced control.

Toxic positivity is emotional abuse. It is false reassurance when it is directed at oneself. It is important to identify the patterns of toxic positivity in friends and stay away.

Posted in Political

Why Is The BJP Winning.

Tamil Nadu Vs Gujarat

DMK vs BJP

Dravidian vs Aryan

Secular vs Hindu

Income generated from liquor business vs Zero income from liquor industry

Corruption vs Clean State

Shamelessness vs Pride

Irresponsibility Vs Growth and Accountability

Desh drohis vs Patriots

Tamil Nadu government reportedly earns roughly thirty eight thousand crores of rupees per annum from liquor industry. In fact it is a major revenue generator for the state. Instead of administration, our government glosses over brewing liquor and bottling and marketing the brand through TASMAC all across the state. You find the outlets even in posh malls of the city these days. No prizes for guessing who owns the breweries and the bottling plants: the same two or three political families who also own tv channels for propaganda mission that act as canvassing vehicles during election times. Again no prizes for guessing who will get licences for the TASMAC shops. The same old political cronies who will also be allotted prime housing plots and engineering college licences for licking the boot of the ministers. Welcome to Tamil Nadu the Dravida stronghold.

You have to see Chennai on friday evenings and saturday evenings. Queues in TASMAC disrupt traffic. The weekly wages of the poorest blue collar workers are completely and heartlessly sucked by the TASMAC. Have you heard of any other state or central government in the world that is engaging in liquor business. One level up: now TASMAC takes online orders and delivers at your doorstep.

Compare this to Modi’s Gujarat that at least legally earns zero income from liquor business. No liquor shops in Gandhi’s homestate since 1947. No breweries. No bottling plants. Contraband may flourish but the state’s coffers are not filled with liquor revenues. So Gujarat is one state in India where progress is not at the cost of the state population. When Gujarat can make it to the top as a dry state, why cannot rest of India.

Another big money spinner for Tamil Nadu is the Hindu Religious and Charitable board that has taken over most of the state temples for administration.

Tamil Nadu govt lays hands on hundreds of crores of rupees in Hindu temple funds to finance non Hindu causes and for running government. Boasting that they are atheists (who would anyway break fast during Ramzan with muslims and cut cakes for Christmas with christians) , why should they so desperately seek the Hindu temple funds. Such a monumental shame. Where is all this money going: Money from TASMAC that they wanted to close when Jayalalitha was our chief minister. Plus money plundered from Hindu temples. Do they have the honesty or guts to touch the church money or masjid money. Their heads will be rolling in dust should they attempt. COWARDS.

I can cite an individual case here. Earlier, FDs were made out in individual temple trust names from the collections thereof that went to Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable board. Now the present government has allegedly ordered the temples to make out the FDs in the board’s names so that the temples cannot even claim their lawful collections.

From real estate to film production suddenly the political mafia is everywhere.

Why is the center unable to act against these daylight robbers.

The property taxes in the state have been hiked cent percent. For what. You see heaps of garbage everywhere remaining uncleared. Swachch Bharat kept Tamil Nadu tidy. Whose brainchild was that.

The lower middle class who voted for the DMK are feeling the pinch. Let them. When you sell your vote for money, you have to pay through your teeth for the entire term, which is what they are now doing.