Friday, 26 July 2013

Aah! A Poem

                                                       The early morning chill is refreshing
                                                             A leisurely stroll is beckoning

                                                  The inviting path flanked by lush green trees
                                       The morning sun weaves a pattern through the leaves

                                             Brushing all it beholds with a golden sweep
                                                     My eyes trying to savour it for keeps

                                                   I love walking on paths without endings
                                      Walking amid the choicest of natural surroundings

                                                   The path follows its twists and bends
                                       At times level, at times undulating ups and downs

                                                The songs of the birds, the rustling leaves
                                                   Am enjoying the fresh morning breeze

                                                 Have lost track of how long I have walked 
                                               Did not know nor care where I was headed

                                                     Try as I might, all thoughts desert me
                                                          Am in a mind vacuum, only me

                                                      Am relishing the present moment, 
                                                       One with nature, one with myself.

                                                       Aah! Falling in love with life again

                                                    Aah! Beginning to love myself again

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Day He Hauled in The Sun!!

Nitin was a senior site supervisor at a major construction firm in Mumbai. As the day shift was petering to a close towards the late afternoon, the skies clouded over- ominously dark grey as a typical monsoon sky would be. Looking at his watch he reassured himself that it was just about half an hour for the shift to end and head home.

As he glanced anxiously again skywards, Nitin was stunned by what he saw! The sun, which would have been a blazing, fiery yellow otherwise, was a silver ghost. The thick cloud cover had robbed it of it's brilliance and it appeared very much like a full moon would. What's more, the sun had started creeping towards the construction site and..and..was snugly poised right atop the huge hoist crane!

For a few tantalising moments there it sat, perched. Nitin, frantic with excitement, yelled to his juniors: 'Now! Now, is the opportunity to haul it in! Instruct the crane operator right away: this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Be careful, make sure that it doesn't topple over'

There it was on the huge construction site's unfinished top floor. Everyone simply mesmerised by the spectacle, trying to believe all this was for real.

'Out you go, all of you! Not a word to anybody about this.' thundered Nitin to his men who were still dumbstruck.

All night, Nitin could not get a wink of sleep as he kept a hawk-eyed vigil over his treasure. As he patiently awaited dawn to return the the sun's brilliance and power, his scheming mind just could not stop ticking. Oh yes, I've the world's largest source of energy all to myself now, he smiled smugly. 'I'll harness all the energy for my needs first and then be the world's monopoly supplier of Solar energy! People boast of their big catch while out fishing. How's this one for a catch?'

His luminous watch dial now showed it was almost six in the morning. The clouds had given way to a dark blue early morning sky. Slowly at first, then gaining momentum the sun began shining to it's full glory. His joy turned to horror as the huge ball of fire's extreme heat vapourised him in a few seconds.

Well, this story is a metaphor for my own experiences. Success itself is difficult to define and is a subjective term. I am referring here to my successful battle with Bipolar Disorder over the decade. Had been through the horrors and developed my own methods of keeping my mind calm and focused. It needed a friend to notice that my abilities and resolve in tackling this disabling illness and leading what could be defined as the closest to a 'normal' life (if that means anything) were commendable.

Puneet Bhatnagar, who has also mentored my writing initiatives when I was new to this skill, drilled into me that the gift I possessed needed to reach the far flung corners of this country and beyond. We Indians have hardly done ourselves proud in the area of awareness, diagnosis, consultancy and treatment of mental illnesses. Although my journey is in its infancy the disquieting fact is that not a single Bipolar whose relative spoke to me describing the agony they faced, was reported Bipolar in a stable condition.

This Blog has some posts detailing my tryst with Bipolar. Puneet, however felt (and rightly so) that a focused site was the need for the hour.

Thus was born If I have a God given gift, it had to be utilised optimally for the benefit of the society.Am overwhelmed by the gratifying response to it in the short period since launch! What is even more satisfying is the interaction, queries and cases of Bipolar patients that have come to light. Am getting a sense that gradually the purpose the site was set up for is being achieved. The fulfilment it has ushered in is difficult to describe. 

My positive energy and my sense of purpose, increased manifold when I shared my light with the world. 

Holding it close to my chest would have burnt me, too.


Saturday, 13 July 2013

When Walking On The Beaten Path Becomes A Challenge.

‘When you look back in life, the biggest regret shall not be over something you had done, but something you had not done’- Mark Twain.
The scant respect I had for mentors who were selflessly willing to guide me during my teenage years is a telling indictment of my attitude. There was the iconic Brother Murphy in high school and later, during my college days it was our principal, Shri Kodolikar (Sir, as we called him).

I was literally letting most of my potential go down the drain and Sir knew it. Our strong relationship strengthened because of his being a co-resident of our apartment complex. He would drop by once a week. A well read, simple and jovial person, he was very disarming by nature. That was perhaps one reason I took his advice a bit too lightly.

He had an enviable personal collection of Books, from classics to the contemporary, fiction to non-fiction. We were the beneficiaries of his largesse: he would hand pick books for me to read. I distinctly recall most of them although over three decades have since elapsed! Among them were a few by the
renowned Biographer, Irving Stone: ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ on Michael Angelo and ‘Lust for Life’ on Van Gogh. Somehow, among all the books they had the most profound impact on me.
A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.’- Wiiliam Styron

I recalled my discomfort and anger when our Professor for English quoted from a story: ‘artists are weak men’. Both these books highlighted that disturbing aspect about artists, painters and sculptors. The reason it upset me was because my art was something I cherished. My Art teacher at School spotted that talent in me and suggested I join Sir J. J. School of Arts (Mumbai’s venerated institution for aspiring Artists). Pencil profile sketches with shading were my forte. I had no formal training, yet my work had quite a few admirers: one portrait done by me had been retained by a noted Cardiologist.

I was disturbed by the aspersions cast on artists and indirectly at me: I found an uncanny similarity between the eccentricities of these legends and my own. Subconsciously, I had developed a dislike for artists. One of my strong points (or weak points) is that I don’t do things in half measures. I did what an impulsive seventeen year old would do. Overnight, I abruptly gave up all my drawing activities- just like that. Would you believe it, I gave away my most valuable possessions- my art kits, paints, brushes, pencils, et al, to my nephew. I retained not even a sample of my work.

There was a sense of resentment against Sir. My immature mind made me believe he was the person responsible for me giving up what was my finest skill, my obsession.

Today after having been a successful entrepreneur and professional for over three decades, I realise how timely and vital his intervention was. Separated parents mandated that I first and foremost bear my familial responsibility towards mom and my sister. My ailing maternal uncle who had magnanimously supported our family since my childhood, needed to be relieved of the pressures of managing a vast business single-handedly.

I had to adapt myself to what was demanded of me and rightfully expected of me. I would be a coward to shirk this responsibility.
A pragmatic approach towards life meant a huge change from my earlier self-centred attitude. What I learned while initially assisting my uncle who was a pioneering entrepreneur and as good a family man as you would come across, was priceless.

Slowly but surely, I filled the large shoes given to me.

Do I regret having totally forsaken art, my passion? Financial security, a sense of having been a responsible family man and some gray hair bringing much needed wisdom, are irreplaceable. Wisdom to realise that the two books given by Sir had changed the course of my life: for the better.

There’s always the right time for everything. Destiny has its ways. God has now given me this glorious opportunity to express myself in another creative form:
Writing. I’ve taken to it like a fish to water
! If Books brought about a transformation in me, am excited about returning the favour!

Gratitude to Dr.Amit Nagpal for inviting me to write this story and selecting it for his wonderful, creative e-Book:
'And One Fine Day. The Power of Storytelling'

Get a FREE Download of this e-Book here.
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