Fortune Favours the Brave!

When you cannot go to the pool for a swim, bring it to your bathroom for a shower.

What a crazy time it has been for Texans!

Lucky we survived it all and be glad that we all learnt more survival skills and exciting tales to reminisce and share. We stuck to our house the entire time. Our house went to as low as -2C and thanks to Texas Gas service for keeping us alive. Not to underestimate the power of prayers by friends and family that spread the ‘warm’th! In my neighbourgood, at one point only three households had people in them, the rest made it safely (❤) to safe zones! Frozen pool, possibility of any leaking pipes, and having our own shelter above us made us stick here and we made it. For about one week with freezing temperatures, we had electricity for about 10 hours until it was restored when the energy company felt we deserve some despite having any ‘critical’ units around us! We are ever grateful for all your messages, care and concern that made us feel that we have our backs covered. Have to thank some extraordinary people, who in spite of being in the same boat, shared some boiled water, water cartons, and fire wood with us. (Sam, Ida, and Aroona ❤) And, to Michael for his guidance wrt our frozen pool. To my CEO for referring hotels to us, and Bala’s company and HR for even willing to get us a truck to put us at safety. God’s grace, we didn’t need it all. We struggled and suffered but in a much better position than those who couldn’t relocate and did not have gas service! Also to Vidhya for constantly keeping an eye on us ready to offer warm shelter or water.

Overall, ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘struggle for existence” put to test and proven!

Nature and Nurture

“I would have loved to join you all over this weekend, but I teach English to immigrants” – One of our ‘white’ friends in UK during my initial days there. Just getting into my sales sector and being a married, teetotaler, new to country employee, I found my husband Bala’s university colleagues more open to get into groups. They were diverse too. It included Brits, Jamaicans, an Arabic, an Indian, a German, and a Barbadian. Their discussions varied from accents to dialects to baking and cooking to cultures to racism. To me, who grew up with ‘Fair & Lovely’, a face cream to enhance fair skin by the Hindustan Unilever company, racism is totally an ambiguous concept. Racism to Indians is a concept we compromise and get used to on a daily basis. It could happen with in the families to inter-state. Many of us wake up to the word racism only when we step out of the country! To non-Indians, we are all brown skinned and this Indian concept of fairness doesn’t matter. So this Indian fairness, a myopic concept of what is fair on which the fairness and skin-bleaching industry is built, is a made to believe concept. This is both a nature and a nurture problem. But why?

Every country has its own internal differences and issues that are unavoidable or inevitable. India too has them. Wounded by innumerable invasions, cultural disparities, and religious persecutions India has been evolving every day for the past 3700 years. Now, the fight is between the powerful vs the normal citizens, and with politicians giving every struggle a political touch, it has become the responsibility of India’s mature citizens to truly demonstrate ‘unity in diversity’ with all these ongoing issues. There are about 50+public holidays in India and children have always been growing in a multi-cultural society for as long as any one can remember- the amalgamation of nature and nurture. But we still believe in white is good, black is bad; with an instilled Indian belief that southerners are dark /black in complexion, this is also a also a North vs South problem. Yet, applying those fairness creams, we join the BLM (Black lives matter) movements that happen abroad. Rather ironically, the same film stars who are brand ambassadors of these creams are the first to tweet support for BLM.

It has always been the case of the stronger oppressing the weaker, be it under the pretense of colonialism, nepotism, capitalism, or racism; across the countries, across the cultures! So, is this a nature vs nurture problem or a question of mind over matter? May be both, or to put in simpler words, it’s the mindset. But with societies evolving, can we generalise opinions and facts? The answer is “NO”!
Unquestionably black lives matter; human lives matter; women matter; lives matter. We are all one human race. Who are we to decide if one race is more equal or less? And why do we even have to fight for what is ours? Even after decades of abolishing slavery and untouchability, after the win in the women’s suffrage movements why are we on streets fighting for equality? What can we do to be the change? Definitely not by sharing what’s already been published in the news papers; not by taking political sides to stay disguised and play the game of equality. As literate souls, we need to look inwards and educate ourselves and the ones dependent on us for their formation.

I have observed that not all families or parents discuss these issues with children and these future citizens are raised being totally blinded to the efforts put in by some reformists and achievements that happen slowly but steadily. Until children reach to their individuation process, their thoughts and deeds are either taught and practised at home, or hereditary.

“Can you decline a service offered by a doctor that doesn’t belong to your caste/religion/faith? If the head of the district/state/country who hails from another faith invites you to dinner, would you reject it? In the casteist society, some were treated inhumanly by others, and our forefathers might have done it too. Would you be okay if your own friend harbours such an opinion against you and humiliates you? It’s time we bear the brunt to bring in the desired change. One cannot be prejudiced, judged, discriminated or hated based on the physical appearances or the nature of the birth.” This was my dad’s response to my sister’s query about casteism in India.
With head held high and hand on my heart, I can proudly say, he showed us the path of humanity and led us the right way. In this whole process of uplifting the down trodden masses, my dad was a victim too. He was denied prestigious professor posts in reputed universities twice -once by a powerful sect and another time because of ‘generalised’ view by the decision maker, whose forefathers might have been oppressed on the name of casteism. He never complained about those nor developed hatred against any one particular community. All he did and does is to encourage any one interested in pursuing education and support them how ever he could including feeding those aspirants at home- irrespective of what caste or religion they belong to. These life lessons have been helping me navigate professionally and personally, and not be judgemental based on people’s appearances and origin. Be it my dad in his own country or my kids else where or me or you -everyone of us is always generalised and judged. Yet, the beauty of this journey is meeting similar people with same values; majority of them don’t share my nationality, skin colour or faith. People aren’t all good or bad based on their physical appearances.

Next time, before any of us try to generalise, remember, that’s not fair!

Yes, people are being oppressed and movements must be justified. I exercised my first right to vote at the age of 18 with pride without totally appreciating the women’s suffrage movements that went behind. I also enjoyed living in the West without being humiliated everyday because of my skin colour. There were lots of sacrifices made by our pioneers and the BLMs help us survive too. I would also appreciate white people who fought for our human rights then and participating now in the BLM movements just like many of the social reformers from the Hindu upper castes that fought against untouchability, and men who fought against sati (cruel system to kill wives whose lost their husbands). I believe that to bring in the equality, we don’t have to pull others down. Equality cannot be a wheel in which some one has to be oppressed all the times. We need a change in the mind set. One cannot bring in their preexisting opinions while dealing with people of any colour or country. Yes, we do carry a herd mentality that represents us and separates one sect of people to the other. But every interaction must be started afresh. It has to be beyond the method in madness. All we need is to remind ourselves that we are humans first.

In innumerable counts, I have seen people vehemently spreading hatred and I wonder what they teach their children? The golden rule for parenting is to not say ‘don’t‘ to a child; instead its advised we offer them a safer alternative and encourage they try that. So, that principle doesn’t apply to these adults? Judging everyone based on their appearances, culture, and likes/dislikes is utter nonsense. Instead, to express what one prefers and why is much more a better approach than announcing what one hates! This latter approach doesn’t serve any purpose.

Be the change doesn’t mean preach hatred. Be the change is to do something valuable that really could help those who need it. Be the change includes educating our own children about how they deal with others including being empathetic towards everyone’s needs, being socially responsible, being part of community events- not just our dedicated group that only caters to our individual needs; using our language/professional skills not to just support our children get those ‘voluntary hours’ but truly dedicate time and efforts to those communities that are in desperate need for them just like our English friend I mentioned in the beginning.

Any movement aimed at bringing in equality or treating every one and thing with respect should be an ongoing process, not triggered by one event that creates the troughs and crests momentarily. “Go with an open mind when you meet any one. Let not their colour, creed, faith provoke you into assumptions. Have an open dialogue, offer a true hand of friendship. Not everyone can be friends, but that shouldn’t be b(i)ased on physical appearances. Everyone is equally equal”- is what I teach my kids. What do you teach them?

మంచి మాట/One Good Word 

False friendship like the shadows of the forenoon goes on decreasing, and at last dies out; while friendship true like that of afternoon though scant at first achieves full stature soon
– Bhatruhari Subhashithani.

The same was quoted by my father, DrAyalasomayajula GopalaRao garu, in one of his books, ‘మంచి మాట’ (-one good word).

In this book my father highlighted various aspects of life such as importance and need of true friendships, moral responsibilities, the power of truth, strength in leading an exemplary life, what we seek vs what’s good for us, how our inner thoughts influence our deeds, and many more. A must-read.

I am still on the first chapter of friendships reminiscing and celebrating my true friends that come and go (with my nomadic lifestyle;)) but treasured in my memory chest preciously forever. Who else can value them better than the one badly back stabbed on more than one occasion!
Every experience is worth it; no light without darkness.

The author, Dr Ayalasomayajula GopalaRao, served as a Professor of Telugu and Sanskrit languages at Maharaja Sanskrit College, Vizianagaram before retiring in 2003. He was appointed by the Government of Andhra Pradesh as one of the four members of Official Language Commission to study the usage of Telugu, its current impact and suggest steps to improve its continued usage, given the English & Hindi preponderance in our day to day lives.

Dr Rao has conducted several ‘Netravadhanam’ a language spoken just with eyes) and ‘Angushatavadhanam’ (language based on the movement of fingers) sessions across the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. His contribution to these relatively less known aspects of Telugu literary arts has earned him recognition from the Government of Andhra Pradesh.

More about my dad in detail soon!

Scars are good!

Scars are good. Even better are those that get deep involving pain and bless the bearer with the tenacity and perseverance. A well-led life is the one that has gone through the crests and troughs of life. A life that’s awash with unexpected predicaments, and evolved a winner passing many priceless heat tests can relish the actual fun in life; the fun that’s above and beyond cash flows and back-scratching.

It was exactly eight years ago, we had had a burglary that filled me with trauma and made me spill hot boiling oil on my calf that gave me nearly third degree burns. I feel that was the culmination of my depression from suffering. The suffering that was the result of constant conflict between hard work and luck, fate and destiny, and rupture and rapture. That accident resulting in unfolding of many shocking events was the pinnacle of my combats. Then on, I feel I’m invincible. That physical scar still helps me deal with any emotional scar gracefully .

Coming back to that December incident when my younger one was months baby, older one was not even 5 was a life lesson. Doing maths between time and distance, visit by family from India was ruled out. Friends who were frequent weekend- stayers at ours, announced they wouldn’t come over to help my husband who was struggling with visits to burns unit at local hospital where my months baby wasn’t allowed. They never came back to us till date. One of many examples of good riddance.

Right then, the angel who imbibed confidence and infused life back into me stepped in. That friendship burnt the ambiguity in me if I had to change myself to suit the selfish people around, or hang on there for the right time and right people.

Then on, no looking back. I feel I can see beyond the masks that people wear. Yet, I feel amused and blessed when people use my time and emotions on the name of friendships and relations. That’s where some lives start and stop. I made an oath to not change myself; should I change, I let those precious people who define ‘life in life’ bringing the contentment through spirituality, slip through!

Yes, I am a proud owner of certain precious friendships that don’t expect me to scratch their backs, nor extend me those party invites that are put forth based on people’s financial status and glossy outlooks. They accept me as I am! They introduced me the concept of humanism. At this juncture how can I not express my gratitude to my parents who raised us (me and my sister) on moral grounds! I should also not ignore my husband’s acceptance of my ideologies and giving me a free hand in inculcating these values and principles in my children. Pray, I, along with these other precious friends, stand tall with these time-tested values! This chosen path may leave us with scars, but they are worthy.

Scars are beautiful. A life that hasn’t experienced those isn’t a complete life. A life marked with scars helps one see the simple joys of life, teaches one to be happy for others, be part of other’s pains, and helps you weave human relations. How one deals with scars define that life.

If scars force one to be self-centered, then one hasn’t learnt the art of living.
Scars that guide one’s life to be empathetic is a blessing to the world.
Lucky lives remain oblivious to scars, but those are the empty lives.
Those who never experienced scars, yet, are benevolent, are the angels.

My scars help me be a simple human being. All I have is a great family, friends, and angels who lift me up.
Trust me, when I say, scars are good.

People like myself…

Eeshwar Chandra Vidyasagar smiled, “It is clear, the invitation to dinner is to the clothes I am wearing and not to me. Therefore, I’m feeding them.”  – from a story I learnt as a kid where importance is given to the appearances, not to the people or the values they hold!

In this modern, global world keeping any future requirements in mind, some maintain a cordial relation on the name of friendship. But do those friends value me or like me? (May be neither!) But this has been the most intriguing question of my life at this juncture more than ever! This doesn’t mean I have free time to create ripples in my own life, but people around, who I assume as close, push me to my limits. I accept every challenge thrown at me, and use that to build a stronger myself. But I need to remember that I’m also a mere human being. I truly believe in amicable parting than holding onto bitter relations for ‘courtesy’ sake. This thought is a task for me, as I truly value every relation and value every person I meet. I value them for being themselves. I don’t pigeonhole people. So, how do I get to the bottom of any relation? I only analyse to see if we have something in common to have a hearty chat. I don’t understand why people make it tough for me to be myself?

What is myself? Just like any other emotional fool (if you’re one yourself, you’ll know what I mean), I try beyond my ability to keep everyone around me happy; my utmost priority is to make sure no one is hurt- not only by me, but by anyone, and to maintain a happy, positive front. But it’s hard to keep up with the folly of others, whose aim is to draw their own unwanted conclusions, judging me with their little narrow minds, and taking a stab at my pleasing personality.

For many, value is money; success is having a hefty bank balance! I have both but at a limited level; just about enough to spend my time contently, sitting in my lounge with my family. That precious time educating my children about ‘good manners, and the real values of life’. I have both the time and patience to do that. That’s my primary duty as a mother. But when my principles are labelled dated, and I still believe in them, I feel the ruffle. But I know there are some people who are champions of my thoughts. Hence, my fight gains momentum. I ain’t giving up!

Women with similar principles will go through this inherent struggle at some point in their lives. For women who are able to carve their careers, there are many factors that have been in their support. For a woman, also a wife and a mother, those factors must fall in place. Else, priorities change. It’s all about priorities, not necessarily the worth of a person that alone builds a career.

For those who take my silence as an easy target to their uncontrolled klazomania, it’s my modest upbringing that’s giving people another chance to be in my life. When I respect people, I expect that back; but modern times and arrogant life styles is making them take a stab at my principles in a way that speaks volumes of their lack of the same.

Let’s not even talk about those who talk when they want to for their own benefits, leaving people like me, baffled. With these encounters, most of the times, I’m a reactive specimen! I’m their friend when they include me as one. But, I supply the agony aunt in me based on the demand. My goal is to make them happy not necessarily my involvement in later stages of their happy lives.

I consider my life invaluable and highly respectable; the same way I see everyone’s. Hope people realise this before it’s too late. It’s hard to find people like myself.

Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you -read this some where. Very interesting, and also the need of the hour.

 I do come across people like me, myself, and it’s to that gain, I ‘m still being me, myself, though the day to day life is challenging.