The Bhagavad Gita of My Life | Exploring Inquisitively

This goes back to that time when I was just out of college and I was still figuring out my career path. I am a naturally confused person, surprisingly even today, I am the self-same confused person. Now I feel that the confused state is to bring order and well-being through analysis, which I take it to mean, as a strength of character for me. Back then, I was double-minded, if I should believe in the presence of God or not.

But then, I had this sense of unshakeable faith in my Personal God; but reluctant to accept certain concepts of my Hindu religion. After all, my personal god had got me out of all the life challenges. He had ensured that I was safe and learned something at every struggle that I had faced in the course of my living. So, during one of my breaks from work, I was at home figuring myself out. When naturally I hypothesized, that if I were to study something then, I can figure myself and the Society surrounding me.

I believed, if I learned some life-skills more then, I will be able to work better and be able to handle people with the finesse of well-developed character. It has taken me many years to understand that you learn on the job by doing it. The art of working in a team is an energy exchange, that is what happens when the entire team reaches the right level of comfort and of complete confidence within the group, that the participants are willing to place their sensitive thoughts with freedom within the team’s brainstorming. I still have a long way to go, before I can say I understand the dynamics of teamwork.

So, coming back to my story of self-discovery, in this break post-college, I was learning to play the Veena and that instrument actually made me more focused on my inner being, than those singing lessons during my childhood with my sister. I was a grown up and I knew the challenge ahead was steep. Though I was struggling with the notes, given my learning disability, I did enjoy the instrument. But I could hold a raga and play relatively okay. My music teacher was blessed with great patience because he would wait until I got the fingering right on the fret.

Veena playing is like performing an arthi. You have the arthi plate in one hand, while the other one is ringing the bell. Likewise, your left hand is on the frets and the right one is plucking the strings. It takes great coordination. There is something to learn here for my entire life.

Meanwhile, I had one besotted listener, who was a little mouse, our resident pest. Once he came close enough and sat on the corner of my mat made of grass. I looked at him and he looked ready to run, if I so much as moved a muscle, but I continued to play my Veena without noticing him, hoping that he will remain to listen in. That was when I gave my first concert for a single other than the human audience. I could only play for half an hour, it was clear that the mouse heard a mini version of the concert which was not even half the ticket value.

During this time, my mother was making one of her visit to my brother’s place and I was responsible and in charge of the house. I was super nervous and tided it over with being super organized. The housekeeping was already in my bucket since we had run out of maid choices. Though I was doing this with confidence as if I knew how to do it.

My father had to put up with my cooking behavioral quirks, of course, he helped with the roti rolling activity. That way papaji was a very considerate person. During one of our conversations, he explained about his practice of holding silence every Sunday helped him but was disapproved by my grandfather. But I learned something about my family though the elders disagreed with younger generation thoughts, we were yet given the right to explore spirituality in our own ways. That thought of my father’s perked my interest and I decided to find some daily rituals for myself like him. That is when I remembered the lighting of lamp activity that mummyji would insist that I perform.

That is when, I choose the idea of working on the spiritual aspect of my life. So, I decided to take up the lighting lamp activity, at the same time included reading a book or scripture anything that was in book. So I had the choice of book from the past gift. I found a version of the Ramayana and a small box of the Bhagavad Gita well worn out. It was my youngest uncle’s copy. I got comfortable and just read the English part with great faith and hope of transformation.

I was fascinated with the Sanskrit text and sometimes would just gaze at it. Of course, I couldn’t read any of the Devanagari scripts, neither Hindi nor Sanskrit, so that left just the English text which I could make out. I was not happy with the translation of the texts, but still, it was prayers for me. It was later, many years after, I could read and recognize one conjugation of the Noun Rama.

Each chapter was read with a great eagerness and sharada, while on some days, my pestian friend would check me out from his corner and silently join me in the lamp lighting ritual. I don’t know if God thought to Himself, ‘what an odd pair of friends are seated together in front of me and wool-gathering. Both of us were evaluating, whether to risk licking the rock sugar that I have offered to the Lord, both were kind of eyeballing each other for those thoughts. This cat and mouse interaction with my pestian friend kept happening since my focus was divided between the reading of the shlokas and watching out for my prasad.

Over the years our small-sized species of mousy rat problem was completely solved and the reading after that period became very spiritual-centric. When I got married and went to Singapore the first housekeeping task that I did was to set up my prayer room on the edge of the Kitchen counter. The assembling of the pooja stand was fulfilling by itself. But one leg had not traveled well. So I had to find the zen spot for the stand to be perfectly still, almost an act of  Zen spirits.

I enjoyed the self-assigned task of balancing the entire pooja stand. I stuck all my Gods and set up the silver murthi and brass ones on small space for display. I had a Gangajalam brass sealed container which is a compulsory inclusion in the gift of pooja articles.  I had the brass vessel cleaned and decorated with sandal paste and vermillion marking the auspiciousness. These, according to me, were my personal activities, that calmed my mind, as I struggled with coming to terms with the new place and culture.

The one thing that I found out about myself is that I am not frightened of new places. Because I picked lines from my past reading of scriptures, which became the reference point for all my life situation. I connect with my spirit and the blue sky is always blue everywhere (maybe a different shade, but still blue!) and when we meet people they are just like each other and their nationality doesn’t matter when we see them with humanitarian eyes. I always carried Bapu’s peace and thoughts of Ahimsa in my heart. I rarely get angry, because I spend a lot of time with children and their literature in my free time, I am aware of the level of patience one needs and requires to work with a child. It is almost like a zen practice of watering a plant with mindfulness. Life is about being curious like a child and be childlike in your approach to new things in life.

So, my spiritual practice was all about peace and finding it within. I started listening in to shlokas and reading books that were in English about spiritualism. I wanted to know what constitutes my Soul? The science and art of my personal soul and I was recommended to read the Bhagavad Gita. So I began reading online and later during my Master’s in the US, I was gifted the book titled “Autobiography of a Yogi” written by Paramahansa Yogananda and gifted by a good friend and professor of mine. I read the entire book in a week without putting it down. That was when I saw his other book on the Bhagavad Gita interpretation, so I got the copy which was titled, “God Talks To Arjuna.”

A take away from the book was the one question, placed at the end of every day which even now I ask myself, “Today then, Vidya, who won the battle of Kurukshethra?” There are days when its either one of the Kurunandanas. But the idea was relentlessly to respond to that single question with complete honesty. I am sure one day, I will figure out that, the side of the Dharma won always and the right thing was done even though I was up against my own human families. In this, could I call me, as a scientific person living inside the material body or an artist living inside a being while finding the random connection of my life?

This confusion has persisted in life for a long time and I have still not found the answer I am seeking. This is interesting – are we then seeking for the very same answer we assume is true or are we seeking answer which is the ultimate truth? This, then means, the answer could not be the answer that you feel is right; but entirely something else? To renounce and leave to the jungle has been a greatest inner desire, but then if I cannot handle the concrete jungle I am just running away from one unexplored place to another place. So, despite the need to give up the life of being a part of the social life circle, I seek solace in small pocket size moments. There are times when there is complete peace, it is not a state, that I need to get to, but I am the peace. That realization has been happening a lot these days.

I am a person who can sense energies around me, I know which ones make me feel safe and which would provide me space to improve. No energy is right or wrong, it is just that ethereal truth of life which is been guided by the Divine. I cannot understand human body languages or their verbal interaction, because I am often baffled by the reactions to my thoughts. But I know that, if there is peace within me then it is there in the conversation too. I then, feel that everything will be alright. This belief that even in the energy of disagreement there is scope to expand the spirits of peace within our being. This is a brand new understanding, that I am learning in my life, given the set of challenges, that I am facing currently in my personal life.

Image Source: Pexels.com

 

 

Emotional Freewheeling Indian Ads

I have always loved watching Advertisement in various medium. There is a lot of variation in the print and audio-visual format. Each of these medium uses its strength in representing company’s ideologies and product for the intended targeted audience.

Sometimes, I think, when you aim for a specific market, then there is a common aspect that requires to be looked at for the specific point for angling the advertisement. I mean, how do copywriter can come up with such interesting concepts for an ad? The ad becomes the source of social commentary under 3 minutes.

I feel a good ad is a team work’s best effort. The aligning of thoughts from the idea generator to the final executors are a trickle of synchronized understanding of thought process. The sophistication that is found in the present-day adverts can be very enriching experience for an audience, if one could view the content by contrasting it to real-life experience.

I might have been a person who had lived during the time when there was no television at home. Later when it did make an appearance, it was timed screening and of course, now it is 24/7. Any new medium has it own challenges that can be used for the best effect derivation. It is not surprising that exceptional ads are still popular in present-day viewing and are timeless.

Back in my younger days, my attraction towards adverts were more focused on sweets and something that I might get to eat and toys never was a part of it. I simply never thought of toys. Since my interest was centered around in knowing what’s the latest chocolate that I can ask my parents to get for me. Later as I grew so did my perspective towards viewing ads grew. The product no longer mattered and it was more about viewing the ad for its own aesthetics.

One factor, that I looked out for was the varied kind of humor that one can experience from the subtle play of words and actions. An ad can almost be an equivalent of a movie since it accomplishes in limited time what a movie does in hours.

The wiser consumer beliefs are tramped and squashed to create a sense of altered presence in the ad, which appeals to varied taste requirements. Might be, I am overthinking here about the Ad. But then, it is hard to explain what an ad does to the sensitivity if it is well done. There have been times when the ad has moved me to tears. The Ads make the maximum use of Indian emotions, which are as diverse as their understanding of the color spectrum

Sometimes, you see a celebrity making a field’s play with short roles in ads. I feel, it is far more difficult to get an essence of the moment captured in a fine web of emotional understanding and all under two minutes slot. There have been times when an ad could change the thought process for me, but this could just be me.

I seem to sense an interesting movement in the ad world. One could find a timeline in the growth of ad from the time it was first used to the present day VFX varieties. Some products have predictable storytelling; but, the surprise factor ads are the most attractive for me.

Commercial Ads story-line and words are my favorite interest and I like being surprised. Life reduced to its essence could just be a good ad viewed and internalized.

The latest ad that got me interested in the concept it was selling was Idea Ad. Though there are certain aspect of social media which indicate that being yourself on online might not be safe, yet being genuine really got to me. What with all the identity theft and much, there is a lot that needs to be thought about before getting personal on social streams.

Given this thought base, I was just an onlooker of the possibilities on trying the angle presented by the Idea Ad. Social Media rat race is rather hard to live by. I am trying to get away from it. The sense of being totally addicted to likes and comments makes anyone’s personal life an internalized hell. But here is some thought that kind of says about being yourself online.

Watch the Ad here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQbmZjiXdSI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLNajx25hTw

To shift the view from the perfect picture to the image of having some naturalness, I feel that it is definitely worth exploring. I bought the concept definitely; yet I have not converted to the product! The interesting thing about ads are not whether conversion happens; though that is the main intention of the ad, I feel it has to do with just having sold a thought. Ad do add brand value in the long run. It is much like the Seo efforts for a website, which you see over a period of time and not immediately.

Image Source: Pexels.com

Larking at Larkin Main Branch Library in SFO

Larkin’s Main Branch Library was my hangout space on days when I felt that I made a wrong choice to study MFA in Writing at CCA. Especially, during the winter my mood swings were really bad, I made sure that I picked my mood dead carcass to the Library. The choice was between Mission Library and Larkin Main Branch. Mission won mostly.

During my stay in San Francisco, I was entirely dependent on Google Maps for directions to any place in US. It was almost close to real address. I am a person who gets lost in my bedroom, so it was quite a challenge to reach places. But it used to be so exciting to take that printout at the Writer’s Studio, kind family members house or even jotting it down on a piece of paper.

This also meant that I had to plan my visit to the place way ahead of the time, since I needed the printout of the directions. I would only take printout of those directions, which are really crucial; but for the rest, I would depend on writing it down.

Surprising thing about the Google Maps would be, that you can actually plan to the last minute of your travel plan. Of course, I took longer to walk to the BART and Muni stops, so I would plan a couple of minute earlier departures from my start point.

So the first time that I went to Larkin Library was on a sunny chill morning of October. I needed to find some material which the Mission Library indicated as available in the Main Branch.

It was pretty much easy to go to Larkin Street, if I took the BART from 24th Mission Station to Civi Center Station. I would find a spot to sit down to dream away hugging my backpack.

My backpack was special because it had everything that I needed. There have been times, when I felt, if I started to walk away with just my backpack, then I really didn’t need anything at all.

The interesting thing about going to the Main Branch Library was that I would be confused which exit to take. It happened every single time I get out of the Civi Center Station, even if I have visited the place almost many times, I would get lost and have to figure the place despite my jotted directions. I simply don’t get the left or right directions and get confused very quickly.

I had very few friends and I tried not to disturb them with my pestering company. But I must say my friends in US were really interesting people, who I enjoyed spending time with. The pull of a quiet library is very stronger than talking with people. I still remember the day when I shared silence with a fellow writer Veronica. She didn’t mind my being quiet and talking intermittently.

That’s one thing you can say for the friends from CCA, they provided me space to just shut off and remain silent. I read so many of their works for the workshop and I wished that I could talk to them about it on a one-on-one bases. But my shyness got the better of me and I couldn’t really talk to them all. I always landed not stating what I felt about the piece even in the workshops.

My first semester was such a huge stress for me. I didn’t know the place but it was not strange that I was in a new place. Since I could connect to the place at a higher level, it was the people that I needed my energies to settle down. Once I settle down, then it is so easy to converse.

One fine October Sunday in 2010, my mood swings were really high and I needed the calm space of the library. I got ready and started towards the Larkin branch library and religiously jotted down the details of the directions. It so happened that I had arrived early to the destination. So I had to hang out until the library opened for the day.

Out there at the location, I found a Sunday market and hung around to look at things being sold in temporary stalls. There was this sense of places mixing in my head and I remembered markets of Singapore and Chennai. All my commerce day lessons came rushing to my mind.

The sense of place in my life is very connected and especially when I needed to find my inner balance. After hanging for about an hour the library doors opened and I went in.

My first impression of the library could be summed up in a word, Palace. The architecture of the library was so Roman and I felt like Alice floating in air. For the first visit, I was just hanging out there on polished floor and tall rooms. I felt I might have lost a few inches, since I felt the rest of the people were taller than me.

I remember the grey shades of the library warmed by brown shades of desks, shelves and splatter of colors that were the bound books. The first visit was just spent walking around the place. It was only in my second visit that I even try to take out the book that I had searched in Mission Library.

I relaxed to the moment spent in the library and my peace restored with my confidence in me to go on. There is no amount of talking can get me to calm down, as much as a visit to a library can accomplish. Larkin Main Branch Library was my angel in disguise.

Image Source: https://sfpl.org/

Libraries Are My Soul Healers

My childhood, youth and womanhood have been spent in various libraries. I love things being arranged even though I lacked the talent to arrange things. But my life has such wonderful moments that are pure communion of my spirits with higher spirits.

Places and spaces influence me and it is after a while that I notice people. Usually I’m in my own world when I am in a library. The library has always been the answer to calming down my emotions which get haywire at the drop of the hat.

My First Library | West Mambalam, Chennai

My brother took both my sister and me to the library. It was pretty trick stuff for him. But both of us are good followers. We were well warned not to run amok on the main road. So I remember spending time sifting all the comic books. We were given a budget of one book each. But eventually my brother got two more books for us.

That way I must say my sibling and I sport affections that are almost similar to each other, in the cases of comic books. My sister loved less wordy more graphics. I still remember how both of us would giggle uncontrollably when we saw the Roman’s flying in the air in Asterix and Obelix series. The humor that is so apparent in the comic is really a “vera level” (a different level).

School Library | T’nagar, Chennai

I was in my eighth grade, when my school started having the library open for students during the lunch hour. I would always rush to get my share of all those young reader books. I picked innumerable Agatha Christie mystery novel. My favorites were Hercule Poirot, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. I usually solve the mystery before it gets over. I used to enjoy myself immensely.

British Council Library & American Council Library | Chennai

I was so far only familiar with a dusty local library and maybe organized small area library books in school; but then, heck man, I love books whether dusty or clean or clustered or spaced-out. My first spacious library was British Council Library during my college days and I loved reading all the classics that I could lay my hand on.

G K Chesterton was my all-time favorite. I loved P G Wodehouse and Jeeves series was simply superb to read and enjoy. Later I also joined American Council Library and mind you that place was so calm and silent.

Yishun Community Library | Singapore

One of my needs was to be in a place close to the Library. My ex-husband found a place close to the Yishun Community Library and even to this day I am most thankful for that one kind deed. Library would be where I would be after lunch and I totally enjoyed myself.

I was able to find volunteering jobs with the Library and I was most happy. I would volunteer to arrange the books and tell stories in the library storytelling room.

I have this wonderful story from Yishun Library that it is etched in my memory forever. I was on my fourth Thursday of story reciting stage when it was close to Christmas and I wanted to pick a story about Jesus and the manger. But found a Santa Claus story which I happily recited to my little group of young listening minds.

When I finished the book one little Chinese boy got up and said can we hear the music attached to the book. There was a button in the book which when pressed gives out music. The boy showed it to me and I was totally unaware of it. I was doubtful whether the music will play; but still went along with his suggestion. We found out that it worked and the group of six children all took turns to press the button. That day I felt I owned the world.

Woodland Public Library | Singapore

The Woodland Public Library was a sight for my sore eyes. Whenever I felt emotionally empty I would go to the library traveling by SMRT and sneakily enjoying an egg puff.

There was huge water fountain in the library which blended with the ambiance completely. I would spend hours with a book in my hand in front of the fountain. It was almost like Zen meditation for me.

I picked some really wonderful adult graphic books and the children section was divine. I loved sitting in the short chair watching all the children run around and quiet ones with a book in a hand under the artificial tree that was kept in the middle.

There could be any amount of discomfort in my life; but it would all melt when I am in the library. Life is filled up with moments such as these in plenty. These moments are all surrounded by good book read or emoted with in the course of my reading it.

Mission Library | San Francisco, Calif.

I was not really checking out for places near a Library to stay, but then magically, I found that Bartlett Street had a library and I would ever so often, walk down the street and pick some books from the Mission library. Library is the best place for me emotionally and spiritually. I always found my balance when I visit a library.

These days I don’t visit Libraries as often as I used to; but keep finding new things to read by actually creating my own little library at home

Memorable Personalities

I have a quirky habit of listening to song in a loop. I would listen to any new fancied song in an almost unending loop for days together. When that happens, the lyrics of the song would evoke people from my memory.

I always count my blessing more than my challenges. But then sometimes within the challenges lies the true lessons of life. My recent loop song is from the movie “Noor” titled “Hai Zaroori” sung by Prakriti Kakar and composed by Amaal Mallik.

Yes, it is true that I meet some very interesting people in my life. I must say that I have many a journal entry about various incidents in my life. But among the many I am reminded of a few people who touched my soul. I cannot finish it in one blog entry.

In my school for a short while, I used to eat alone, since I had fallen out with all my friends. I am a person who loves to eat with other people and so would feel so lonely often when eating alone.

Naturally, I would cut short my lunch by stuffing myself and rushing to the library, where I would pick Anne of Green Gables series. I used to be so emotional when reading that series, the story was around a positive heroine who would see the I’m Ok and You’re Ok side in all the events in her life. A forced sense of happiness and well-being appealed to my sensitivity, so that I would also see positive signs even in the most negative incidences.

Around that time my book reading had helped stabilize my emotions and so I was not even looking for a friend. I believe I was in my ninth grade when R sat by my side and I was a little frightened of her.

I was also unwilling to open my heart for another round of disappointment in friendship. But in my hindsight R has been one of the most soft-spoken person with brilliance that left your soul colored with her idealism.

We talked in dribble and nibbles which lead to the gentle drift into a friendship that stayed on. Even though I am not in touch with her, I believe she would have become a strong woman. She loved Chemistry and she even completed her graduation in the subject after all her Polio corrective surgeries.

I remember to this day that assembly experience. She never joined the assembly and I felt that she had to join us. She was no different from us. So one day, I told her that I would be crazy enough to skip the assembly, if she didn’t come with me.

When we eventually made it to the assembly, I was very nervous and didn’t like it being the center of attention when the entire assembly waited for us to join the line.

Even today I don’t like being the center of attention, but then, I know how to fake being brave-faced. I also know if one harsh look from audience, then it would crumble like bread crumbs. But then, R suggested waiting in the ground way before the assembly bell rings fearful clarity. But I was happy that she decided to join the assembly.

When we were in tenth I was made to sit by the side of the class topper so that she would be able to help me. Osmosis effect! But then studies never made any sense to me. But I always kept my contact with R. I remember going to her place in the front and she would keep track of whether I finished my Math worksheet and revised all the other subjects. She would take liberty in scolding me if I tell her that I hadn’t done it.

By then I was more of a once bitten twice shy kind of person, but I liked something about R that build my faith in her. I became very selective of picking friends and even to this day I follow that unwritten rule, even though I am always polite with all.

She took a break after her 10th Exams and did her high school in a different stream. As for me, I was back to being free drifting spirit with I hope no friends or enemies. By this time I was happy with who or what I was and didn’t wish to change myself. Maybe my earlier experiences helped me to grow older fast.

So the next interesting person that I was to meet in college was K. Now I used to walk with her to the disabled students’ hostel run by a charitable institution. She lived there for the duration of completing her graduation. She would absolutely showcase me to her hostel-mates. I enjoyed talking non-stop with them, by then I think I had learned to be sunny happy person. I think I was trying to be Anne of Green Gables, a grabbled version at least.

When I think of K, I remember that I had a hard day at college once and I was major time pissed off with the entire world. I had decided to walk down to my home to contain my anger. But then universe had other plans for me.

Because on that fateful day K decides to stop me and informed me, that she wanted to walk with me to her hostel. Her hostel was just a slight detour on the way to my home. I was fuming and yet didn’t have the heart to refuse her desire, so I reluctantly agreed to walk with her.

So for a while, I was silent and then started talking in anger. I started describing the street that we were walking.  How it looked and felt with such violence that she became silent. Then I used words that K would have trouble understanding but she was still patient with me. But at the point when I had covered everything in the ground, I said, “The sky was blue.”

I think that was her last straw and K must have had enough of me. She stopped walking and I naturally stopped too. She pressed my armed which was linked with hers and asked in a small voice, “How does blue look like?” I believe that evaporated my anger completely. Here was the challenge for me. How do you describe blue to a person who has never seen blue?! I calmed down immediately.

I understood that I had been an angry jackass. From that day forth I would never describe using visual blackhole words. I linked all description to physical or emotional links.

I also remember that I would walk to blind people after politely suggesting to them that they fold their guide so that I could link their arm with mine. It would seem like two friends walking peacefully. This also gave me control over how I guided them by making sure they were safe with me.

So one day during my Freshman year of college, someone close to my age wearing a ray ban and holding a folded guiding stick asked me to help him board a bus. Now the fact that he was a young man and there were a lot of people around was pressurizing for me. Since girls don’t talk to boys an unwritten social rule. But heck, I still wanted to help him since he asked for help.

I threw my social consciousness up in the air and I promised to help him board a bus while I eyed my empty 37D go by. I sighed and the person immediately asked me if something was wrong. I cleared the lump in my throat and said nothing really.

All the while we were waiting for the bus I was worried about guiding him. Actually he did look pretty handsome and quiet heavy. I don’t know where that fact is coming from but then he was healthy and seemed to work-out on a regular basis. In all categories, this person if sighted wouldn’t require my help at all.

I was not thinking of that all at that moment. Because my one fear factor was that will I be able to get him on board the bus as quickly as possible. Since the public transport don’t provide a lot of time for passengers to get in the bus and he had to find the steps and so much other factors for person with impaired sight. I feared for his safety and the huge responsibility on my shoulders.

But the minute I sighted his bus I just touched him on his arm and he moved smoothly in the direction that I was moving my arm. He did not seem so heavy and didn’t resist me either. One of the important things about a blind person would be the confidence with which they would place their faith in your motives for guidance.

My eyes filled with emotional tears that someone had that faith in me. I cleared my throat and yelled the person’s destination to the bus conductor and informed him to help the person to get down at the right stop. Once I got the confirmation from the conductor.

I bide my goodbyes by yelling at the person, since lots of people were getting into the bus and he was already in the bus. I waved my hands while shouting out goodbyes. I did get weird looks from others. In India we don’t give way to disabled people to board the bus first when I saw that in US I think I felt pride in US because they were considerate.

Tulika – A Children’ Books Publisher in Chennai

As part of my Study Paper for my Journalism and Corporate Communication course at Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai, I had decided to write about Children’s Literature in India. Following which I had interviewed an illustrator, Editor of Children’s book and others in this line. Deeya Nayar of Tulika Publisher was kind enough to accept my request for an interview back in 2001. Much of my thoughts about publishing challenges of the Children’s book became an understanding for me during this interview.

Tulika’s books can be used as supplementary readers to the mainstream academic books. They have topics to complement and supplement subject books like English, History, Geography, Mathematics and Language learning tools. Tulika brings out both fiction and non-fiction books. “The non-fiction books are the most challenging ones,” says Ms. Deeya Nayar. They are challenging because of their role to represent real life facts in understandable and simple language.

Most of the books published so far, pays a lot of importance for moralistic teaching, value-based education. Parents expect the book to carry a moral at the end of any narrated story.  Tulika aims to counterbalance these attitudes by bringing out more books of Indian origin for Children and has a firm commitment to provide good quality books with proper text material and appropriate Illustration. The illustration plays a very important role for selection of a book for reading among Children. Ms. Nayar cites an incident like the time when a Child is allowed to browse through the library which is a rare occurrence and does not happen often. The child picks up books because it likes the illustration or an aspect in that book which captivates its imagination. The child would hold on to the books and would insist on buying that specific book.

“Books should not only be easily understandable but also have to challenge the child’s mind,” says Ms. Nayar. Working only within the vocabulary limit of the child, a writer may introduce new words, which could be contextually decipherable in the story for furthering the child’s vocabulary.

The Adults mostly select books for Children. Ms. Nayar feels, “the Parent should let the child go and allow it to select books on its own judgement.” Adults from their overprotective attitude scrutinise, and then, select a book based on whether it could be read by a child or not. Nearly 90% of the selections come under this category of Adult’s choice. Parents’ choose books with a moral or educational value. The pleasure of merely enjoying the book for its reading quality is not given an importance.

In treating serious issues for Children there is much caution employed by the publishing world. The sensitive subject has to be treated in manner that could be more easily understood by the Child without scaring them. The Child is usually more open towards new concepts than its Parent.

One such serious issue dealt concerning a current issues are published by Tulika under the section called ‘Think About.’ The subject dealt is current and taken from the environment that it constantly faces. Usually Children are protected from the hard truth of the world but the increasing exposure to riots and violence. It then becomes imperative that this information is disclosed to the Child without glossing over and with positive tones. The serious issues like Communal harmony, faith, special children and other Child affecting subjects; Tulika aims it for slightly older children, the 9 plus age group.

Books titled “Sorry, Best Friend” for the 9-10+ age group where Communal harmony is the subject dealt. The concept for the book has evolved from a workshop conducted in Delhi says Deeya. The stories in the book are compilation of the workshop’s outcome through interactive sessions between writers, illustrators and children. Book titled “One World” is again on communal harmony but on a global range. The book is where oneness among nations is dealt and for same age group. It contains stories, memoirs and activities.

“Why Are You Afraid To Hold My Hand?” is about acceptance of a child with impaired mobility. The Child is exposed to the idea that a disabled child is no different from itself and wishes to be accepted as their peers. This book is aimed at all age group and appears in simple and understandable verses.

Books like these are often a part of the curriculum and modify them creatively for ease in teaching the Child. These books could be used as a supplement to the curricular lessons and there by enhance the child’s learning.

Image Courtesy: http://www.tulikabooks.com/info/team

I’m Ok, You’re Ok and We’re all Ok!

My reading list over the three decades spans somewhat like this. This list is exclusively those books that I read about philosophy, religious practices, self-help books.

There was a time in my life when library was really important as a source of sustained strength. Books were my friends with whom I would agree or disagree. There is a search within me even now as I read books on spiritual realms.

  • “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale (read in 1988)
  • “Living with the Lama” by T S Lobsang Rampa (read in 1988)
  • “Education and the Significance Of Life” by Jiddu Krishnamurthi (read in 1989)
  • “I’m Ok, You’re Ok” by Thomas A. Harris MD (read in 1994)
  • “Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life” by Thích Nhất Hạnh (read in 1995)
  • Books on Zen Meditation Quotes (read in 1996)
  • “Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin Sharma (read in 1996)
  • “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey (read in 1998)
  • “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda (read in 2011)
  • “God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita: Royal Science of God-Realization” by Paramahansa Yogananda (read in 2012)

This is a small list of books that has influenced my life. I must say I was shocked and surprised by Jiddu Krishnamurthi’s thoughts. I would keep turning those ideas in my head and try to understand it.

Given that I tend to over think a lot, it was very stressful for me to process his thoughts. But I enjoyed learning and always challenged my thought process in the exercises that place before my mind.

I recognized very early in my life that my thoughts were bringing me down. Mr. Peale’s book was just an accidental read; but from that point forward in life, I sought out books on self-help.

My reading expanded with every new author that I read. But my understanding levels were based on the level of my mind’s maturity. But then, I always had a sense of fairness in the things that I read.

But to this day, I would debate each thought that gets into my head. This habit is so set in me, that there is no book that I have read so far, with the exception of the fictions, has gone without being questioned.

My life as a series of books that influenced my mind, soul and spirit, would make an excellent walk in the clouds for a reader of my works. I absolutely enjoyed anything about God, Spirit, Well-being, Spiritual, Meditation especially Zen, and most definitely anything on Human and Spiritual love.

One of my heartfelt desires is to become a Zen monk. I have been aspiring since I found the Moon a spiritual companion during my hideout days as a teenager. I always had this confusion: “Am I good enough to be a monk?” Because I had this intense pleasure in little things and that is when I started to question the term called Monk.

So in that pursuit of becoming a peace-loving monk, I decided to be a common woman who searched for God in her private moments. I have touched that supreme calm about four or five times. I also had figured the way to be less agitated by artificially creating the meditative calm.

Things in the space of spiritualism are still in fluctuation within me. I am not unhappy about having volatile answers to spiritualism. But in the process, I have found, that “I’m ok, so are you and so are we all!

On the Wings of a Butterfly | A Hope!

Life is always about perspective. There is much joy in observing the world from various angles. I feel the best view is yet to happen in my life. In search of such a view, I keep my heart in a state of baited breath, which is held within me.

There is much to be spoken about dreamscapes and when these dreams happen I feel an intense longing for more. One such frequent dream is when the flight happens on the wings of a butterfly. I hold on to the slippery wings only to be colored by the spectrum of the wings’ colors.

The view is from the upper cut perspective. Sometimes, they are sharp and sometimes, they are far off. The littleness and greatness of things become clearer as the dream progresses. I happily fall for the spell of the moment.

Then, when flying over the vibrant river, it becomes a pleasure to trail my fingers on the flowing water. The night and the moon for company, I become a formless spirit who is in communion with nature.

The finer points of the view from a butterfly’s wings are when the view tilts, dips, swings, sways in any which way. The landscapes pass by in varying speed, thus making the experience magical. There is much that happens within the dream.

Sometimes, life’s issues are also best to be seen from varied angles. The dreamer within me keeps seeing positives in all situations. There is insulation around the sensitive mind that filters out information in general. The need to remain positive at all times is a hard victory in the game of life.

The daily news hasn’t been my favorite read; but then, I get my most of the information of the world around me in the partial view from Social Media. I frequent social media channels only on fixed time and logout after the fixed time is over.

I sometimes feel that what is right doesn’t exactly fit with what is expected. There is a huge difference with reality based truth and assumed truth colored by views. In all these views there is a huge debate that keeps rotating within the intellectual mind.

Then, I think about the way I handled views and news in my life. Sometimes, I think I become a deaf frog climbing the mountain of improbability. There is hope only when humans don’t complicate their thought process with negativity.

Reading should happen with a sense of hope and aspiration for the future. But of late, the newspapers have been showing stark pictures of a future that looks like a death wish.

I remain eternally hopeful for the future. The Golden era of just and fair world is not far off. The process through which it gets created is equally a soul-wrenching experience. There is much to learn and process within me, that I find satisfaction in the self-discovery.

Sometimes being this stupidly optimistic becomes a desperate need within me. If I let this process drop, then there is no opportunity to make something better. I keep shamelessly being hopeful at every dark event, steeped in the hope that things will change for the better.