Messengers of Spring

After a long wintry wait, messengers of Spring flew by my home announcing – Spring is finally here!

The Lake heard them and began to melt!

A dainty flower blushed deep pink and adjusted the green frills around her.

Yellow grasses got up, shook off snow and embraced each other..

Kids got the message and took out their bikes…

A fitness enthusiast headed outdoors…

And….I brought out my brown chair to inhale the deep freshness of Spring! Yes, Spring is finally here. We’ve all got the message! 😀

(Pictures – Shivangi)

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Holi Hai!!!

What a fun day, it is Holi day!! Yay. Yes, we are allowed to be mad, uninhibited, abandoned and joyful without being judged. Dance on streets, or splash colours on your angry neighbor, spray water on a stranger, roll in mud or just be crazy. Everything is ok because – Bura na mano Holi Hai!

(Images courtesy Google)

Small Things#17 – Dealing with the Momo Scare!

A few days back, I heard the older one’s friend talking about the Momo scare. It seemed that kids were talking about it in school. Later, my sister sent us a creepy video, showing how the Momo challenge messes around with young kids by popping up in between a popular cartoon series. While, the video was dismissed as a hoax but it correctly showed how evil, sick people could entice vulnerable kids and push them into doing dangerous things. To tell you the truth, even I was freaked out by Momo until an idea struck me!

Generally, parents would like to avoid talking about such challenges and it is okay. Less is always good. But in case, your kids know about it through friends or in school, what do you do? You find out a way to make them stay unaffected! What I did was I clowned around like Momo and made faces. After initial wonder, my kids burst into laughter. I established that Momo was insignificant in every way possible (actually poor Momo was just a sculpture by some Japanese artist). You could punch it and it will cry and run away. I took away the power of Momo to scare my kids.

BUT! I told them this was the second way of dealing with scare. First rule was to remember the instructions (updated version) by Mahatma Gandhi’s three wise monkeys – do not chat with strangers on the internet, do not watch bad things on the internet, do not listen to bad things on the internet.

With great power of the internet comes great responsibility for parents. Evil is right there on mobile phones, iPad and TV. We are now a part of the world wide web, we can’t break free but what we can do is to be watchful and alert when kids are using the devices.

How would you deal with such dangerous challenges?

Image courtesy Google

Chainpur Bungalow

In a far away place in the state of Jharkhand, India, stands the grand old, Chainpur Bungalow, by River Koel. It’s not just a house but a sacred entity – proud, resilient, dignified and unbent, reverberating with forgotten old songs, chants, conversations and emotions of long gone residents. Vibrating with some ancient energy, which only exists in holy places, it might appear mystical place to many. For me, it is home!

According to my father Patait Baldeo Narain Singh (the owner), this house was constructed under Raja Bhagwat Dayal Singh, my great-great-grandfather. It is many, many years older than my grandma (Rajmata Prafulla Manjari Devi), who is more than 100 years of age. Our family belongs to an illustrious Royal family, Raj Chainpur Estate, and the house is certainly a part of history and architecture of the region.

Despite all later additions, original architectural elements of an English Bungalow, are intact in the house. The Bungalow style homes originated in the Indian subcontinent, having design elements of long verandahs on each side, low roofs, chimneys, fireplaces, eaves, shuttered windows and rooms flowing into each other for easy accessibility and comfort. The rooms opening into adjacent rooms as well as innumerable doors and windows still confuses many, who often get lost while finding their ways to bathrooms or verandahs. Earlier there were no boundaries around the house and the gurgling river could be seen from the backside but security issues led to making of boundaries. There was a tennis court, many outhouses, servant quarters and a thick forest surrounded it. Much has changed, some things still remain! The house is history in itself and I feel so proud to be a part of that history.

The real beauty and magic of the house lies in the fact that it has always been all inclusive. It has belonged to everyone, including visitors, guests, tenants, staff, house helps, who proudly got associated with it. Whoever stayed in the house, felt at home. Everyone has a story to tell in the backdrop of the house! Some scary ones too, mind you! For me, it has always been magical to see the house swelling and accommodating huge family gatherings in one big embrace.

I am sure my ancestors and descendants have their own interpretations and memories of the house. My father in his short story ‘Kadamb ki Atmakatha’ has alluded to the house, in his own way. But for me it always appears to be a living person – a deeply caring wise man – who makes you feel deeply at peace…at home.

And whenever I visualize the house, these images flash, overlap and make me nostalgic –

  • a meditative old lady in white saree
  • a lady knitting colorful sweaters

  • a man intently listening to the radio

  • an old lady feeding a bunch of kids

  • a girl teaching kids

  • a girl reading a book in a secret spot

  • a girl dancing on popular Bollywood number

  • a mischievous boy running around

  • elders cracking jokes and discussing in the verandah

  • boys playing cricket

  • kids running after the school bus

  • girls munching guavas and planning theatrical shows

  • everyone joining for evening prayers

  • ladies chatting and catching up

  • group visitations to ancestral village and car races

  • cold wars and disagreements

  • Cooks announcing meals

  • kids laughing and running around the house

  • emotional outbursts, disappointment and anger

  • illnesses and tears

  • crazy-sweet pets

  • chats on guava trees

  • winter evenings filled with made up stories

  • affectionate staff members

  • modeling around in new dresses

  • getting ready for marriage functions

  • teasing about teen crushes…

  • religious discourses and discussions in family gatherings

  • joyous evenings while playing games

  • midsummer nap in the comfortable hall room during family gatherings

  • puja ceremonies

…many, many more…images, feelings and emotions….

All long gone, never to return! Today, Chainpur Bungalow stands alone, yearning for the familiar sights and conversations of all those who once resided here. But it is also happy about the future, eagerly looking forward to a happy occasion – a celebration owing to new addition in the family. New generation… new beginning, new start for the family and the dearest house! I am sure my parents and brother (Kumar Vikram Bhawani Singh) have great plans in store.

As for me, I yearn to once again embrace those ancient pillars and find peace. I hope that someday, I take my kids to meet the wise old man so that they know those stories – of endurance, royalty, integrity, dignity, love, inclusiveness and spirituality – which were once whispered to us.

Expressing Shiv-Shakti!

Acrylic on wood strips lying around the house, enabled me to express Shiv Shakti – the divine couple (also symbolic of consciousness and energy), in my own small way on this auspicious day of Maha Shivratri.

I am discovering acrylic to be an excellent painting medium – bright and vibrant. It dries faster too unlike oils which takes longer. This is perfect for quickly creating something when creativity strikes. I have been thinking of making masks out of it. What do you think? Please suggest!

Small Things#16 – Little Known Dog Facts

Me – What’s the best thing about a dog?

Little One – He can eat by himself. The mom doesn’t feed him.

Me – Well, okay and not-so-good-thing?

Little One – He just stands on a treadmill, doesn’t run…and gets pushed out.

Me – That’s funny…tell me more…

Little One – They come in black, white and brown colors but if you are making art, you can paint them green, blue or red.

Me – How are you going to take care of dogs?

Little One – They only have legs. I’ll make robotic hands for them to grab things and do stuff…

Me – Okay, anything else…

Little One – (Thinks) Wait…it’s weird, sometimes they run after their own tails.

Me – Well, too much information to digest…thank you😀

(Image courtesy Google)

How to ‘Just Be’!

I have heard several discourses and sermons teaching us to ‘just be’. But how to ‘just be’? I have been told miraculous physical and psychological benefits if you practice stillness. Now, with so much technology and entertainment overpowering our mind, there is not much scope of it. Is it? Stillness in chaos?

Well, recently I came across a remarkable person (He wishes to be anonymous), who showed me steps as to how to just be. I will talk about this anonymous writer some other time. But for now, here are the steps. Read slowly.

1) Initially sit calmly, in a quiet place. Once you get the knack of it you can handle even a fish market. But in the beginning, avoid disturbance. Now, close your eyes, listen to sounds around you. The clocks tick tock, humming sound of refrigerator, sounds of vehicles etc….

2) The moment you start relaxing, thoughts will come with hammers to bang your head. All past, present and future thoughts coupled with disturbing intrusive talks will crowd your mind. Hmmm…never, ever block them or react to them, they are just passing clouds. Just observe them and let go. They will pass, you’ll stay. They mean nothing.

3) Now, you are an observer, just observing yourself. Deep breaths will start coming on its own. You will relax. You are a part of larger consciousness. It will take care of you and take you in. Breathe! Breathe deeper again.

4) You will start to enjoy the process. But after sometime thoughts return, egoistical and supposedly positive ones this time. You will feel you are gaining super natural powers or great superior things will happen to you etc! Just observe them with equanimity, do not get carried away, remember you have to just be! The deceptive thoughts are taking you towards result, towards future. No, just enjoy Now! Just keep listening to the sounds….just listen to sounds. Just be! Breathe…

5) Hmmm…so, what now after ‘just be’ state? Well, nothing… nothingness! You just said hello to yourself. That’s it! This is not a result oriented practice but it does bring far better results than anything else. But try not to concentrate on the result part. Just enjoy being in Now and at peace with your surrounding, enveloped by an enormous consciousness! The consciousness will take care of you and everything. Never worry! Have you observed a baby? He is naturally a part of the larger consciousness and so are you. You just have ‘to be’! Let thoughts and disturbances come and pass, ‘just be’ for some golden moments everyday. And say – Hello, Me!

I really enjoyed learning this from my friend. Just felt like forwarding the information and sharing it with you. Love always, dears! May you, just be!

(Images courtesy Google)