Fly Like A Kite

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Matariki Kite Festival


Fly
Like A Kite

Fly aloft like a kite
Soar high and higher still
Ecstatic and bouncy with delight
Walk dreamily on clouds
Enthrall viewers on the ground

Probe uncertain realms
Be coaxed by gentle wind
To never give up half-way through

Find your strength, have faith
That your string is in reliable hands
Of that fond player, who made you fly
Who carefully tuned your first leap forth
Till you found your own balance

 Fly high like a kite
Just don’t fall like one
Onlookers can be very unforgiving

~~~~ 

© 2016-17 Alka Girdhar.

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Freedom Is Everyone’s Birthright

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Magnanimous Word

Saare Jahan se Achcha…Hindustan Hamara

Happy Independence Day to all the people of Indian origin, wherever you are in this world, and of whatever faith, religion, color, caste or creed.  Be One!!   The country you hail from is one of its kind – a land of beautiful culture, strong values, spiritualism, linguistic and religious diversity.

It’s a day to value your freedom, to remember that it was attained after huge sacrifices, to not take it for granted and to constantly work towards maintaining this freedom so that our future generations can thank us, just as we thank our ancestors for the hard work they did to give us this day. A free country gives us all roots and belonging, it’s a prerogative but also an onus.

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This poem by Rabindranath Tagore sums it up:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where…

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Life Of A Yogi

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Yoga means union
Union of soul-mind-body
Body that forever ails
Ails of endless travails
Mind that wanders
Wanders without control
Control these two
Be a yogi!!

A yogi at heart
Heart that is detached
Detached from the world
World that’s an illusion
Illusions we chase
Chasers get no peace
Peace always evades
Be a yogi!!

Yogi with peace of mind
Mind that’s finally sure
Sure of what it wants
Wants inner happiness
Happiness it gets
Gets and then spreads
Spreads to all mates
Be a yogi!!

A yogi, in the above sense, is a detached renunciate, someone with a blissful state of mind that is unaffected by good or bad. He’s everyone’s friend and companion, and yet not attached to anyone.
Hence yogi is not just someone who does rigorous yoga exercises the whole day long, although that has its benefits too. After all, a healthy body and healthy mind go together, while meditation too calms the mind.

These were my random thoughts as today is International Yoga Day!  In Sydney there was Yoga atop Sydney Harbour Bridge.
I personally do no yoga exercise ever though I aspire to learn…maybe one day..

Colouring-Decolouring

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ColouringDecolouring

You are dark, she is fair
She is black, he is white
We are brown, they are yellow
Are you brunette or blonde?
We coloured people
With discoloured hearts
And uncoloured ways
Turn more coloured on Holi
And yet, less coloured

Becaue the Festival of Colours
Is a great equilizer, its
Colourful masks uncolour
Our fake crude colours
And we are no more
Rich or poor, big or small
Literate-illiterate, light or dark
Merely simple human beings
Living life, enjoying moments
Just as we are meant to do

© 2016 Alka

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May your life be full of right colors that are devoid of any bias.!

It’s often about these two – India & Music

It’s holiday time which means with more time in hand, other than merry-making and enjoying Christmas Carols, I am back to my Indo-mania. Back to?  That’s because it comes off and on, but when it does it’s not in small doses. And that includes not only thinking about all things Indian but also listening to Indian music and watching Indian movies.

Here are some songs from a very recent Indian movie Bajirao Mastani. Based on a true historical love story between Bajirao and Mastani from the 1700s, it has kings, queens and warriors in their vibrancy and opulence.

Those of you who do not understand the lyrics (possibly 99% of you) can still enjoy these songs for their art and music. Make it full screen for greater visual effects and see them till the end.

The following song is sung in two different Indian languages which means even a polyglot like me does not understand every word of it, but after listening to it a few times, I could feel it going on and on in my mind.

Here’s another catchy number from the same movie. It is based on a mix of pinga and laavni (folk) dance art forms that are popular in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Great choreography and setting, and of course beautiful Indian women in their traditional attire. One of these stars is the lead character in the American TV series Quantico.

These songs being authentically Indian, are different from usual Bollywood songs. Hence I felt like sharing. Hope you enjoy!

 

These Festivals of Light…of Hope, Faith and Love  

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Most major festivals celebrated by us humans, irrespective of faith or religion, are in some way a Festival of Light. Not all are referred to as that, but they are so because lightening up of the surrounds – to whatever degree – is an essential part of Diwali, Christmas, Gurpurab, Eid and many others that I have unintentionally not listed here.

Festivals of Light are also festivals of darkness, for they go hand in hand. But how’s it so?

Light seems bright only because of darkness. Try lighting a lamp during the day. During broad daylight in a well lit room, if we accidentally put our electric bulbs and tube-lights on, we put them off instantly…‘Oh! That was accidental. We don’t need you as yet. Let darkness arrive!.’

And when after its long and tiring work-day, as sun begins to set and darkness takes over charge…that’s when we definitely and immediately need light in any form, howsoever little.

Thus if there’s no darkness there would be no value of light. Darkness renders light indispensable to us. In moments when darkness is unbearable and fearsome, it is the illuminating light that provides everyday comfort, while taking away our fear of the unknown thus adding to our happiness.

All in all, these facts were well known to our human ancestors who thronged the earth ages ago. Hence, after their initial hit and trials of rubbing stones to produce fire (and light) they experimented in all possible ways to create light so as to make their lives easy.

In very olden days, esp. here as I talk in the contexts of India, when there was no electricity, people depended on earthen lamps, candles, lanterns to get rid of physical darkness and facilitate visibility.

At the same time, they very keenly sought spiritual light in the form of ancient wisdom that’s written all over in the ancient books.

“Aum Asato ma sad gamaya
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mṛtyorma amṛtam gamaya
Aum shanti shanti shantih ”

The above lines in Sanskrit that were taken from the Upanishads textbooks mean –

“From Ignorance, lead me to Truth;
From Darkness, lead me to Light;
From Death, lead me to Immortality
Peace, peace, peace !!” –

Given the importance they gave to the very concept of light, those days in India offering ‘light’ to others in any form was considered a noble task of charity. ‘diwali-smallDeep-daan’, is the term used for donating or lighting a ‘deep’ or an earthen lamp for others. It’s a charity of light, and the purpose was to help others dispel darkness around them.

So, from what I’ve heard, after sunset our ancient people used to habitually and regularly go to road-crossings and light a lamp there. Numerous such lamps would become a full-fledged light system, and these groups of lamps would illuminate the pathway of every passer-by. This was esp. beneficial on the darkest of nights, and that’s what it is on every Diwali night, as it is a new moon or moon-less night.

Moreover, thus lighting up each other’s path meant not only illuminating others’ path but simultaneously radiating your own path as well.

Yes!!  Lighting up others’ path automatically lights up your own path as well.

But. In order to light up somebody’s path, you have to have a light of your own, even if it‘s meant to be given away to others.

So, please do give it a thought.

Nowadays we don’t have any dearth of man-made electronic light devices. But even now, although we take light for granted, this same light continues its traditional role of giving us happiness. Thousands of years later, these festivals of light still continue to be symbolic of victory of light over darkness; victory of goodness over evil.

In my immediate surroundings, on my street here in Sydney, I feel we need more street-lights as it sometimes gets too dark. Reporting this to the council has not yielded forth any positive results yet. So everyday, at around sunset time, I make sure I put on the lights in my outer verandah and outer porch.

This light overflows to the street beyond my house and possibly helps people coming home late, esp. as many university students do that. Possibly it deters thieves as well. I do this for few hours each day, particularly on the darkest new-moon nights that have no moonlight of its own.

Help those who have no light of their own, no hope and love; those who have lost their inner light and brightness. That’s the true essence of every festival.  That is, other than wearing good clothes and eating lots of sweets.

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Mysore Palace in South India here lit up for Diwali

Some more Diwali Pictures as Ornate as can be.

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Freedom Is Everyone’s Birthright

Saare Jahan se Achcha…Hindustan Hamara

Happy Independence Day to all the people of Indian origin, wherever you are in this world, and of whatever faith, religion, color, caste or creed.  Be One!!   The country you hail from is one of its kind – a land of beautiful culture, strong values, spiritualism, linguistic and religious diversity.

It’s a day to value your freedom, to remember that it was attained after huge sacrifices, to not take it for granted and to constantly work towards maintaining this freedom so that our future generations can thank us, just as we thank our ancestors for the hard work they did to give us this day. A free country gives us all roots and belonging, it’s a prerogative but also an onus.

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This poem by Rabindranath Tagore sums it up:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake

~~~

Today, in this post I am writing whatever comes to my mind. In all the previous years I’ve often hesitated to openly display my allegiance and duty towards my birth country. But as we grow older, we realize certain truths do not change so no harm in speaking out our heart.

Nothing judgmental in this innocent question but even with so many years gone, how many times do we get asked, “Where are you from?
Our skin, our eyes and our hair leak out the secret.

Migrants to any country are known by their native country. If their native country is free and progressive, they too earn respect, and vice versa.  If their native country is war-ridden…well, we all know the status of refugees and asylum seekers.

A tribute to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam – a Scientific Statesman, a Spiritualist Visionary

Last week, say around 6 days ago, some Indian online newspaper had published a news story related to India’s former President and esteemed scientist, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. The story made readers feel as if he had passed away.

Such news, though I later discovered it to be untrue, was like a shock. The controversial news story had spread around when somebody had put a garland on Dr Kalam’s picture, and it was assumed by some group as disrespectful. As per Indian customs, putting a garland around his picture became symbolic of his worldly demise. Thus, it was just a rumor that became a silly eye-catching headline.

This story particularly caught my attention because I had met this great man in 2011 during his inspirational lecture at University of Sydney, in Sydney.

After I read the above fake news, the same evening I ended up reading more about Dr Kalam’s life-story and his inspirational quotes. Funnily, thereafter the same night I had a dream that I’m in some lecture hall and we are waiting for his arrival but we’re informed that he won’t be coming as he’s no more. He’s passed away. So we all quietly come out of the hall.  It was a very vivid dream.

Today, on the 28th of August, exactly a week after that gossip news followed by my strange dream, I heard real news about Dr Kalam’s actual death. Again a shock, albeit a true one this time. The news is that he passed away suddenly, during one of his academic visits to Indian Institute of Management at Shillong, India. He was giving a lecture to IIM students on the topic of ‘Creating a Livable Planet Earth‘, when he collapsed due to cardiac arrest.

Is it a coincidence? This fake news followed by my remembering of his lecture in Sydney, then my weird dream of him dying during a lecture; and now he actually passes away – that too when giving an inspiring lecture to university students. Strange and sad at the same time!

So what was special about this truly great man?  When we met him personally in Sydney, we could not take our eyes off him. His intellectual lecture was very thorough and engaging, and left us very inspired as we left the hall.  It was hard to believe that a simple man with such unaffected looks and polite mannerisms has accomplished so much in life, that too in multiple fields.


Dr Abdul Kalam had very humble beginnings. But today BBC reported him as Extraordinary Indian.

Born in year 1931 in Tamil Nadu in India, he hailed from a poor family of fishermen. He distributed newspapers to help his family. Rising above his modest circumstances, he attained degrees in Physics and Aeronautical Engineering from Madras, now called Chennai. Climbing one step after the other, he later had major contributions in India’s scientific and nuclear programs. For a long period, he worked as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) .

In short, he was an accomplished scientist, lovingly called a ‘Missile Man’. When people argued why India needs to be powerful, he said “Strength respects Strength”; so power is required by a country so as to gain respect in the eyes of those who have already attained such strength. I like it because it’s true at personal level also.

In year 2002, this successful scientist went on to become India’s President, connected to administration and politics, where he was equally well-liked and respected.  During that powerful five-year tenure, he was called ‘People’s President’ for he intermingled with ordinary crowd like a commoner.

He was a great visionary and had a proper plan India Vision 2020 for his country’s overall growth, to see it as a developed nation by 2020.  For economic growth, his emphasis was on agro-food processing, health, education for women, IT and self-reliance. These apply to India but are well suitable for all other countries.

Other than being a scientist and a president, Dr Abdul Kalam was primarily a professor with years of experience in teaching, a teacher with great love for children and so his desire to teach them till the end of his days came true. He passed away teaching. His famous quote “Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow” holds great truth. He inspired parents to have home libraries so that children watch less TV.

Dr Kalam himself sought opportunities to address school children, inspired them to dream big so that they became achievers in life.  He used to tell children and youth, that they should ask themselves this question: “What do I want to be remembered for?“.  Very thought inspiring question for youth but we adults can also ask this of ourselves; just to define or redefine our lives before it’s too late.

Dr Abdul Kalam was also into music, particularly Carnatic music and he played musical instrument called Veena.  This simple man was vegetarian all his life.  He was not just religious but a true spiritualist who was well-versed in texts of many religions, actively imbibing and seeking inspiration from all of them at the same time.

What does such a person mean to the whole world?  His concrete scientific, political and academic achievements did change India, and if a populated developing country like India changes positively, it is bound to influence the world constructively. Moreover Dr Abdul Kalam’s life story itself is inspirational for one and all, as were his deeds and legacy he has left behind. We learn from him that a person need not be born to rich and famous parents. One can rise high by sheer grit and determination. There is no excuse. There is no limit.

Besides, a great human being and a determined character that Dr Kalam was, there is a stream of Inspirational Quotes by him that hold great value for young and old alike. A blog outlines 10 Life lessons we can learn from APJ Abdul Kalam.

Another one of his famous quotes is: “You have to dream before your dreams can come true.”  I actually saw his demise in my bad dream. That particular dream should not have come true but it has. The loss is irreparable but we can pay homage. India is paying tribute via a whole week of mourning.  I will search google for his name to know more about his life, read his quotes and his writings.

For writers and book-addicts, these are some inspiring books written by writer Dr Abdul Kalam. Here’s a list by Goodreads: APJ Abdul Kalam.  His autobiographical e-book ‘Wings of Fire’ can be downloaded here.    .

Digital India Project – an enormous step forward!!

This historic event happening LIVE in New Delhi right now is a huge step towards India’s progress.

Watch Live…
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The power of technology and digitalization can help countries come out of their vicious cycle of poverty. Modernization will help eradicate the disconnect and the gap that exists between the very poor and the very rich within the IT savvy countries like India that have vast human resources, that is 1.2 billion people.

This is an ancient land that was rich and well-developed for centuries, but is now a developing nation, often referred to as a third-world country. Now it is moving backwards to once again become a developed nation.

Anything that can change the world to make it a better place is welcome!!

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Burst the balloons if I can…

I am not in a mood for a full-fledged party, not even in a mood to plan one as my birthday is many months to go. Moreover I don’t celebrate my birthday. At least never with much gusto.

But after reading the prompt It’s My Party I was reminded of something. When we were growing up in the 70s, one song was generally popular at most birthday parties in India. I remember once, as a little girl, I had danced feverishly to this song on my birthday.

Modern Indian songs are very subtle and much better in picture quality. This song is from a movie as old as me. See the fashion and style oozing of the bygone era, styles that have come back now. That way it’s my mother’s era but I can relate to it. Age is no barrier in life, love or friendships.

 

Roughly translated, the guy says to the girl
“Sunita, my heart sings to you again and again…May this day come time and again in your life. May you live for thousand years. That’s my heart’s desire!”

He further says:
“Sunita! I would have brought flowers as gift for you
how could I give flowers to someone who is herself like spring season”

“Sunita! Flowers from the garden have sent you their salute
Stars from the skies have sent you their message
My wishes are… may my sweetheart be blessed with life as long as that of moon.”

Romantic!!  What happens in the last scene of the song is what I would like to do on my party day, if I have one. I would like to jump on the balloons to burst them.

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Hope it was not blasphemy to have put up a non-English song here on WP?  I hope I won’t be thrown out of Word Press blog party