Archive for April, 2014

Changing the World!

For all the inspiring groups of people out there!

For all the inspiring groups of people out there!

A bout of fresh air in Ramayana

To retell the story of Ramayana – the holy epic that is found in almost every Hindu household, and exuberantly promoted in the television – needs a lot of courage and diligence, and it is here that Ravi, the author of the book: “The Exiled Prince” has passed the litmus test! He has given a fresh perspective to Ramayana, which I believe makes the book different.

The world of Rama

The world of Rama

Of course, a lot of it had been seen or heard before, but through his simple, yet refreshing narrative, the author has managed to create an impact to readers. The book tells the story from Rama’s perspective, in his old age, as he narrates his life events to Hanuman and his sons Lav and Kush – his birth, challenges, values, marriage continuing up to his exile.

While doing so, the author presents some astounding facts – some of which are little known to many. Rama’s childhood adventures, his relationship with his brothers, discussions with Rishi Vashistha and his admiration for his father king Dasaratha add to the beauty and integrity of the story.

What needs a special mention is the force with which the book depicts Queen Kaikeyi’s character. While on one hand, she is aware of Rama’s destiny, and plays the villainous act, on the other, its she who leads Rama to the path of his destiny, and in a way, plays a role in his triumph – the triumph of good over the evil, and in turn the triumph of mankind  (the reason why Rama is known in history and mythology as the greatest king of all times!)

Throughout she maintains a strong disposition, which brings out the strength and brevity within her, but also paints a picture of her cold and overbearing personality (the latter part unfortunately is emphasized in most books on Ramayana). The queen’s unique relationship with King Dasaratha and her special bond with Prince Rama were beautifully portrayed in this book.

The journey to find the Crystal of Creation – Rama’s search for the crystal before anyone else does gives a whole new dimension to the story. It is not just a fight against Ravana, the demon king as we commonly understand, but much more than that… for the part where the celestial Guru explains to Rama: “Your purpose is not to kill Ravana, but protect the crystal. You cannot destroy the soul of Ravana, it will be born and reborn…so your purpose is to protect the crystal from those who threaten it now…” It made me think. At any age and day, we cannot kill the soul, (whether it is of a saint or an evil) which is anyway immortal. The same applies to Ravana as well. But through our own good deeds and path of righteousness, we can protect ourselves and those around us from the evil.

However, the importance of the crystal search somewhere got lost with very little mention – something I would want to see in Ravi’s subsequent books from this series. There are also several sub-plots making the story an interesting read. These stories are well researched and are adapted from different folklore.

Ravi has a simple, yet fluid writing style… there’s something in his writing that holds your attention. You would want to know: what’s next? As you read the book, you can visualize the events happening in front of you. Whether it’s about the description of the palace, conversation between the brothers, Kaikeyi’s command over her son, or Sita’s eagerness to be with her Lord – you feel you are very much a part of their world!

If you are a total conformist, you may completely dismiss the book. However, if you are the curious type who is fond of knowing that “extra bit” and also a bookaholic, I can bet you will be immersed in the world of Rama – the exiled prince.

RIP Gabriel García Márquez!

Just the other day, I was having a casual chat (on G-talk) with a friend on Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s breakthrough novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” Of course in recent days Márquez had not come in my discussions often… but when I read the news of his death last night, I wondered whether it was time to revisit the revered Nobel-winning Colombian writer, whom Fidel Castro once referred to as “the most powerful man in Latin America!”

One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude

I remember having fond memories of reading One Hundred Years of Solitude during my college days. My lecturer who taught sociology got me introduced to Márquez and his masterpiece. I cannot say the same for Love in the Time of Cholera – it’s not among my favourite books (and to comment on it now, I confess I should read it again). In fact, No One Writes to the Colonel and other stories – which I read much later, was much thought-provoking.

Later, in my Media School, where I was doing my masters’, one of the highly-read professors, someone for whom I have great regards, explained that the first encounter with Márquez can be bewildering. Trying to keep all the characters straight can be too taxing for some readers. Many, especially the older generation also found it a little weird relating to his characters.

Reading and understanding Márquez at certain age was undoubtedly a rewarding experience, though his writings appeared as cheesy and overly dramatic at times. However, he never loses the confidence and continued writing with all his passion.

As a youngster, straight out of college – I quite enjoyed his “magical realism,” the free flowing way he would write about magic carpets flying, ghosts haunting villagers, storms that could last for centuries and the miraculous floods – as if they were everyday occurrences. I learnt, many others too were awestruck by his highly dramatic outlook on life at a certain age. If Márquez made the magical seem real, he also made the real magical by his unique writing style.

However, after my university days, I had stopped reading Márquez – not for any obvious reason – but I guess as I started reading other things extensively, my literary world zoomed beyond Marquez. But now I want to revisit him. I want to see if I can recall the wonder and joy I felt when I first immersed myself in his world. In any case, a writer like Márquez will always be remembered. A tweet I came across this evening by Peter Englung, secretary of the Nobel committee aptly sums up what Márquez means to the world: “A great artist is gone, but his grand art remains with us. Most authors are only shadows, but Gabriel García Márquez belonged to those who cast a shadow, and he will continue to do so long after his death.”

RIP Gabriel García Márquez!

 

Keeping the Spirit of Poila Baishakh Alive

Keeping the Spirit of Poila Baishakh Alive.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, it’s Not so Crazy After All!

I don’t know, really, but I’ve developed this habit of talking to the mirror over time. I guess, it started from my college days when I practised my oratory skills while looking at the mirror – and eventually grew from there. Now I regularly talk to the mirror, acting out different personas of my psyche, using it as a way to clear up my mind and find out what I actually want to do.

I am worthwhile

I am worthwhile

The fact that this is helpful does not mask my concern that this may or may not be normal or a healthy thing to do. And a few days ago, when I visited my physician, waiting at the reception for my turn to come, I chanced upon an article in one of those worn out medical journals. It turned out be pretty interesting though.

I came to know – I am not alone… there are so many of us… rather a majority!!!

The author of the article, who’s a physician, says that in the privacy of our minds, we all talk to ourselves — “an inner monologue that might seem rather pointless,” to quote him exactly, but also shows with the help of scientific research that the act of giving ourselves mental messages can help us learn and perform at our best. In other words, talking to yourself may actually help your brain focus on the task at hand and augment thinking!

He explains that self-talk isn’t just motivational messages like “You can do it!” or “You are almost there,” although this internal cheering can also be a confidence booster. But there’s more to it. Another kind of mental message that is even more useful, called “instructional self-talk.” This is the kind of running commentary we engage in when we’re carrying out a difficult task, especially one that’s unfamiliar to us. I could relate to this one… as in my case, when I practise my karate moves, I often instruct myself on the step-by-step moves for katas, kicks, punches, stretching and self-defense. It works wonder!

At a recent happiness workshop I attended, my teacher said, “Look in the mirror – and tell yourself everyday, “I am the most beautiful person on earth… that I am so happy that the divine has put in much of effort to make a wonderful creature like me… and I can never let him/her down…” and saying so just throw a kiss in the air.

“But just be careful,” she quipped, “See that the mirror doesn’t start talking back to you!”

“You mean a talking mirror! I said, excited, like the one in Harry Potter or Snow White!” I said promptly, And, well, I don’t rule out such possibilities as well.

On a serious note, (thanks to the trigger I got at the happiness workshop) what I do each day, as part of my morning / nightly routine – and anyone interested can try out this one – develop a habit of looking at yourself in the mirror, repeating the following self-affirming statements –

  • I accept and love myself
  • I deserve to take care of myself, I do take care of myself
  • It is okay to love and accept myself
  • I am worthwhile
  • I am valuable
  • I do the best I can with my current awareness
  • I am courageous and accept responsibility for my thoughts, actions and feelings
  • I own my strengths
  • I am capable of learning
  • I can grow and increase my awareness, skills and strengths
  • I accept where I am now and enjoy the process of achieving my outcomes

As you create and repeat your magical script, look at yourself – on your eyes, deeply, as you say these heartfelt statements and try to feel its power in your mind, heart and gut.

Believe me, it works!