Free Money Day?

Yesterday the 15th of September was the free money day.

When I heard of it I saw visuals of currency bill flying around.  So I figured I needed to know more about it.

The exercise was quite simple it was about handing two bills/coins to absolute strangers and requests the recipient to pass half of it to another stranger. The entire exercise was about raising awareness of our connect to money and bringing in a shift in the conversation of money.

As did this, it was quite interesting, I had to decide the denomination that I wanted, and guess what the choice that I made was the lowest bill available, which brought home the fact that I played safe.  I could not find 5 people to give the money away.

The various reactions that came my way was “why me?” one lady told me she found the entire conversation strange, so I cannot be part of the experiment. Some else asked me if the bill was fake. I overheard someone at the bank asking, the lady in the teller if I was off my rockers.

But what was more frightening is my own reluctance to engage with money, either giving or receiving.

Yes I have read Robert Kiyosaki’s rich dad and poor dad, I do understand that money is energy and beyond a certain level it does not really make a difference.  I also realized that somewhere from being the representative of energy barter, it has become something to horde, this has impacted environment, livelihood, food and climate and life style over all.

We are talking Farmer suicide loan sealing on one hand and urbanization and building of huge driving lanes at the same breathe. The issue here is the connect with the money.

September 15th is the day when Lehman Brothers the world’s Largest Investment Company filed for bankruptcy so it seems the ideal day to check our conversations with money. Which is why it has been declared the International Freemoney Day.

This experiment of giving money to strangers without strings attached seemed radical. I found that I felt more comfortable giving money to someone who I perceived was from a lower economic slab, but to give it equals was a huge block. And across sections, people got insulted, affronted, suspicious, people who told me that oh! Give it to someone who would need it.

Only one person accepted it with equanimity.

When a colleague of mine, asked me,”ma’m why the story or the explanation, maybe you should have just handed the money with the smile and said this is for you”.

Coming to think of it, why didn’t I do that? It also drove home the point that we have lost the ability to share that is both give and accept with no strings attached.

Mahabali cannot be Dwarfed.

baliAs we were driving down from Panaji, to Margao I saw this banner that said, 37%  Goan have votes AAP, 27%BJP, and some X% congress, the conclusion was AAP leads, what occurred to me, is it could also be interpreted as 63% Goans are clear that they do not want AAP.

Ultimately every story is about whose story are you telling?

chalayasi vikramane keshava balim adbhuta vamana padanakha nira-janita-janapavana kesava dhrita vamana rupa jaya jagadisa hare.

When we were kids we were told the story of the benevolent Balindra or the Mahabali, who was an epitome of virtue that Lakshmi was chained to his dungeons. the story as narrated by Kittadoddamma, always told us how the Deva’s were jealous of Bali and Indra decided requested Vishnu to annihilate Bali he was then pushed down to the PatalaLoka, and each Onam he comes to oversee the harvest Bali or Mahaveli’s arrival I never could figure the solar calendar out, the only thing I know is it Sone thingalu… some day and she said and the festival after it was ananthan chaturdashi.

She would tell us about Bali Maharaja, his greatness and his kindness and how his persona is honoured by the word Bali meaning sacrifice, she talked of the sacrifice of the seed that shed its skin, the soil that gave the nutrients, the clouds that showered the rains, the earthworms and the snakes that kept the soil enriched and how all this combined bounty gave a rich harvest. When this mission was complete Bali returned to the Patala on the day of Balipadya after being sure that his subjects were secure.

The understanding of the sacrifice or the effort that went into bringing that abundance, she would tell was the secret which kept Bali alive  among his subjects, she would conclude Kings would come, Kings would go but Bali still ruled.., Vamana stayed dwarfed and forgotten.

When I got married my value system was questioned because the story here was Bali was arrogant he chained Lakshmi so the Deva’s were justified in sending Vamana, it putting an asura in place.It was the ballad of Vamana and not Bali.

As I learnt more of these and began the quest of understanding the untold story of the other, after all eulogies and history is always about the winner. Here is what came to me…Bali the King of an prosperous Agrarian society.

Here comes Purandara the destroyer of cities, choose to call him divine incarnate if you wish, but definitely King somewhere who coveted the prosperity, the riches of the land, in comes the conqueror, and relegates the indigenous culture down. He is potbellied at that, and he unchains Lakshmi the goddess of Prosperity that would mean either he grabbed the riches or he destroyed the assets.

The conquerors Ballads talk of Bali being an Asura could be for Asura of the Rig Veda is the Ahura of the Zenda-Vesta the Zoroastrian holy text and Kerala always sea connect with the middle east.

Like our Balipadya being traded for the bhaubheej or our Onam is being traded for Vaman Jayanthi, the conqueror is marketed our oral stories and histories relegated as the large wave of Hindaptations (adaption to Hindi culture) even Thiruadhira or the big wave will not be able to save us.

Mr.Amit Shah, this is the translation of what my grandmother used to chant about Mahabali, can you bring it back?  Till then let your Vamana stay the way he is  — dwarfed!!

When Maveli ruled the land,onam
All the people were equal-
Times when people were joyful and merry;
They were all free from harm.
There was neither anxiety nor sickness,
Deaths of children were unheard of,
No wicked person was in sight anywhere
All the people on the land were good.
There was neither theft nor deceit,
And no false words or promises.
Measures and weights were right;
There were no lies,
No one cheated or wronged his neighbour.
When Maveli ruled the land,
All the people formed one casteless race

I do not know which of the stories are true but the story of Bali narrated by my grandmother is definitely more empowering than the story of Vamana.

To the Weirdos in My life.

Weirdo’s are unusual people.

Though actually the word weird means, supernatural unearthly. Sometimes it is connected with fate, and sometimes it is a person’s destiny  in the context of Scottish archaic, or so Merriam-Webster  assures me, while in northern America it is an inform word that induces a sense of disbelief or alienation.

Guess there is a sense of weirdness in all of us, including life.  then we find someone who is also weird, and the weirdness of this person is compatible with ours, then we team up with them, and create a space of weirdness that is mutually acceptable and satisfying… this space we call it love… who yes sometimes even true love.

Alain de Botton claims intimacy is the capacity to be rather weird with someone and find that is okay with them.

In my own space like being weird, the ultimate comatose state for me, is conformity, though it is inescapable, maybe I can continue to be a closet weirdo with the mask of conformity on…? actually we are a sea of ordinary people, almost 80% of us ordinary people, 15% of the rest are busy playing victims it is only 5% that rise above. Having said that, even the 80% of us have certain quirks, flaws or ingenuity that stands out. It makes that small ripple from being mundane and boring.

There is this innate otherness in me, call it a concept, an experience or a core belief, I know I started out as a weirdo, for a long while I stayed a weirdo, it took me, Landmark curriculum for living and Hypnotherapy to embrace my outsider-ship and see it as a strength rather than as a weakness. I just realized that made the unique person that I am. But then that also made me normal.

Today the 8th of September is the day to acknowledge the weirdo in us, and the other weirdo’s our life is blessed . those people who out there who inspire us to think outside the box, who remind us to be a little more true to ourselves, maybe we should give them a hug and acknowledge their presence in our lives.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels, The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
― Rob Siltanen

By the way Leo Tolstoy was born on this day in 1828, May his soul rest in peace.

constantly changing.

DSCN8317The clouds were clearing, usually this time of the year the shadow of the peak of Kudremukh was visible but with iron ore project the peak had scaled down the mountain ranges that stopped the water laden south-western clouds, resulting in the torrential rains of the western coast line of India had weakened.

When I look up, the peak stands though no longer straight and strong but a little stooped, I was  reminded of that evening with renowned Gulzar who grew up in the Paharganj region of Delhi sharing his experience.,

“when we were kids ” he said in Urdu laced Hindi,”Paharganj, mein Pahar tha, abh toh sirf naam hai,” he then continued to share the thrill of saving that “naya paisa’ for hiring a bicycle, and riding it downhill without applying the brakes. It was something that I could relate to, I mean riding the bicycle down the slopes with no break. He then went on to that point when he says you return to the place and it is not what you left behind, there are new vendors, in the market, new kids on the block the language is different too.

Maybe it the search for something permanent lead people to philosophy , and each generation reburies certain wisdom of the past, in the fleeting drivels of modernity,  which is again mined by a minority, who not only restore it, but also polish it, and re-invent it as something extremely new and and highly valuable and refreshing as understood by the current.

Life does not really stop for anybody, nothing is really permanent in life friends circumstances, riches or parental love… that probably is the difference between the living and dead. Clinically death is body that does not change, does that mean change is life and stagnation is death? If I don’t change I die…its simple and scary at the same time. This actually holds good for a society too, it is never static, if it does not grow it decays, if it does not transcend a status quo for better then it does not remain the same, it changes for the worse. We do often entertain the illusion is remain unaltered and stand still in any situation, but that is the most fatal illusion of it all… for the moment we stand still the decay begins.

We remain us, that does not change and we are constantly changing there is nothing we can do about it, there are roads we traverse, not every road we come across in our daily life is one we have to take, standing still and being could be the best move. Then comes the cross road in a relationship that asks…”what is it you want from me?”

Acceptance would be the answer and acceptance would only come from understanding, life after all is series of natural and spontaneous changes, resisting them would create disharmony. As we let things flow naturally in whatever way they like, harmony is recreated.  You could call it love, a triangle made of  understanding, acceptance and appreciation, if any one component is gone the triangle looses an angle and its stable form. The world becomes two dimensional, for the love of the triangle lets keep love whole.

Ethical Will-passing on values

legacyLong ago I had written a blog on Ethical will, an ethical will.

An Ethical will (Hebrew: “Zava’ah”) is a document designed to pass ethical values from one generation to the next. Rabbis and Jewish laypeople have continued to write ethical wills during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

I had found the entire concept very intriguing. I cannot find the blog all the same will share what I remember of the concept, I actually did create one I cannot find that either, maybe my values have changed, or my ethics have taken a beating or I have simply lost will. Any way

There could be no better opportunity to share something really beautiful. This is quite similar to a spiritual autobiography or memoirs, but its intent is what sets it apart. Since the purpose of this is to pass on the wisdom and love to the future generation.  It kind of includes family history, cultural and spiritual values, blessings and expression of love, pride, hopes and dreams for children and grandchildren. Since it deals with life-lessons there could be requests for forgiveness, or regrets over decisions,what ever the right thinks is relevant to the person he is handing the legacy to. Since it has very little to do with its heavily regulated cousin the last will and testament, it is called a legacy letter or a spiritual letter.

It is the simplest form to share your values, beliefs, life lessons, love and forgiveness, this is actually a 3,500 legacy though lesser known. Its construction has no rigidity to it. it does not require a lawyer, what makes it interesting is that it puts down what is important to the narrator, the historic legacy, the legacy of learning , family secrets recipes, hidden skeletons what ever.

There are people who write these down as letters to be handed down to their children during the key events of their lives. I remember my father handing me one during my graduation.

If you would like to try your hand at it, a simple way of doing it is take a blank sheet and put down things like

  • Is there a particular success you have that you want to share with your descendents?
  • Any failures and the lesson learnt from it.
  • Any regrets in life.
  • Any tradition or value you want to see is continued in the family.

The indian tradition of Mahalaya asks the names of three generations of family members since the brahmanical culture is patriarchal we are stuck with that lineage while the rest of the genetic contributors are forgotten. It might be a great idea to put in the names of all the eight great grandparents. In this era of dysfunctional society, tracing family lineage has become a profession.

Since the ethical will is inspired by the need to communicate a personal story or a  journey one is free to walk the path. Like when my Aunt Eileen passed away she left a book, with hand indian recipes hand written by my grandmother. When my grandmother passed away we found neat folders of letters my brother and I had written to her,her observations and comments regarding that.  A recipe to create a hydroponic garden.indispire

What I am saying it is okay to include anything, family photographs, recipes, items of clothing, other objects with great personal but not necessarily commercial value. it is also a great place to share the intentions of bequeaths made in the legal will, so that there would be less confusion and bad feelings.

So when you think it is the right time in your life, sit down think of what you would like to pass on to the future generation, this could be an ongoing experiment. Put in your significant moments and just flow.

The Real Heroes

sparrow 2
Enter a caption

A lofty call, how will I teach my kids to press Ctrl+S   for nature?

Well I will not, teach them. Simply because kids cannot be taught, they learn through imitation. They imbibe values that we can hand them.

We are destroying forests, we are destroying wild life, we have come to a stage where we are destroying anyone who walks on the road… we have no place for the man who walks. We could call this destruction of nature, but it is not destruction it is change. Nature cannot be destroyed; it is too powerful and is on its own rhythm and pace. No doubt humans will do a lot of damage before we ultimately destroy ourselves.. But life will continue without humans, newer forms of intelligence will emerge long after this human experiment is over. It is not about saving the nature, it is about acknowledging and repaying the debt owe nature.yugadi (2)

See the crevices of a cemented footpath, you will find greenery emerging from it. like the ants and lizards that co-habit our living space. Sometimes rats come it too.  so Noah’s arc or nature ensures things survive. We create plastic nature gets the bacteria in the Amazon forests to eat the plastic, and the rodents of Goa relish good Tupperware!!

Like I said before children learn by imitating, growing up I saw my paternal grandmother Singari, wake up in the morning, sweep the yard and ensure that all the debris went to the mango tree each day it was a different tree. She would then put out some grains for the birds, and keep a stone bowl of water for the birds.  As a rule we never plucked flowers, we always picked what fell down.  Every   atti hunnime that is the full moon between July-August we set a float a coconut, later of course I understood and appreciated seed dispersion, but we did it.yugadi (1)

When I set up home, I do the same, I have pots where I grow few vegetables, I have a bowl where keep water for the birds and everyday I put out a slice of bread for the crow. It is quite interesting to watch the crow perches on the ledge quietly until I finish drying the laundry, it then picks up the bread and flies away, if I am late it caws, it refuses to eat if my husband puts the bread out, it will eat only what my daughter or I give. We do this because we are part of the eco-system.

Traditionally if we cut a tree, we were to plant another one its place. Do we do it?

If we pay attention nature speaks to us, when we are in commune with nature it is difficult to disrespect her.

adivaram angadi (5)
adivaram angadi at secundrabad, that barters home grown stuff.

If it is activism you are asking then you would need to understand that the task of the activist is not negotiate systems of power with as much personal integrity as possible, it’s to dismantle those system.


Here are some people who are human beings, and are doing their bit without armchair activism or claiming to be intellectual revolutionaries.

Tavleen who felt if she was not part of the solution she was part of the problem, so she has come up with this. .  There is Col.Kohli of   Empower camp who has an outdoor camp to sensitize people to nature.   (  they let the kids do gardening and take care of the domestic animals.. There is the Purva Venetia Bangalore’s residents society that has come up with an excellent waste management system. (blog link to be put on Wednesday) .  The is a socio-religious group that promotes community farming, on a voluntary basis, the stuff grown is sold at nominal price and the money is reinvested into the farm.

Tavleen with her vision for work to drive.

Lets take a very practical call, how many farming, forestry, or fishery colleges do we have, every nukkad gully has an engineering college, so we are grooming people to destroy. There are libraries that allow kids to take come plants and look after it for a week; there are libraries that give out animals.

At the end of the day it is about what are we going to do to keep the environment safe for us.  for other caretakers of mother earth they are ordinary people who just go ahead and do what think needs to done, they do it with all integrity and faith

Do what you believe has to be done, your kids will imitate.

“I’m blogging about how I’ll remind kids to press Ctrl+S for nature for theShortcut Safaari weekend activity at BlogAdda.”



A Journey to Epiphany.

museThis trip seems to be doomed one of those things when life decides to make things uncomfortable for you. My journey from Goa to Bombay was pits, enough from to invoke the Egyptian god of creation and say,”Ptah” next day I was so exhausted that all that I did was to sleep, that in turn ensured that I had a splitting headache.

Despite that I reach JVLF on time, and guess what the bus is about 2hrs late, of course it the fault of the Delhi-wallah/Bangalore-wallah/ the aviation ministry and everyoneotherthanme and his wife that we had to stand under over bridge to regress to our college days! (I really wish we had an icon for snort)

We reach destination four hours later than expected, with stressed bladders and god knows what else. As we got ready at the dorm, people really took the trouble to be aesthetic, and here I was I had forgotten to pack a comb.

And now this morning I rush from Vile-Parle to Kurla to catch the 5.30 AM train my ticket says C8U90 and guess what…tralalaa…there is no C8 there are only 7 coaches, after fretting and fuming , and EFT and nineteen tables, I meet the ticket checker who tells me well madam for now sit in C4 lets see what happens, I scroll the mobile and here comes the epiphany, the railway chart was made last evening, a message was sent to me then my booking had translated to C6-..

As I wrote my morning pages I realize that there was a pattern and the pattern came into the environment from my own state of being. The delay, the breakdown was happening in my space.

After all Nirmal had sent us the mail quite a while back, I am too embarrassed even to check how long ago. Her follow up mail was very clear day 1 formals, and day 2 comfortable, mind you she did not say comfortable meant sloppy.

My delay- began there a delay in reading the mail, in acknowledging it and ensuring that it went comfortably. That meant I did not acknowledge and welcome the event into my space. Yet the universe was very kind. My brother Ramchandra PN ( . Backing me up ensuring that I reached my destination without an issue, and I had to ask here was something that google-mata will grant, I had  fall back on Alexander Graham Bell’s invention.

The two and half hours on under the over bridge gave us such a bonding time; I had this reservation and resentment that I was an outsider to the Bombay group, but they actually treated me like a debutante.

chikkammanora gardi (4)Had I welcomed the event into my space with the honor it deserved, my handling of it would have been different, I would have been meticulous about the bookings, and I would have worked the logistics. The scenario then would be different. Of course then the learning would have been different too.

But for now the lesson was loud and clear… when the opportunity presents its self, take a moment decide whether you are going to accept it or not, if it is a yes, then all roads lead there. Then by lanes don’t emerge to create bygones.

As for the camp proper  will share it in a while.

Next is ask for help, and there is a hand that will extend.

At the end of the day maybe this is the lesson that I am meant to learn for now.