Showing posts with label Peace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peace. Show all posts

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Peace. Joy. Grace.

The first time I met her was when I was making a phone call from her phone-booth on my way home after college.
Those were the days when I didn't have a cellphone and phone booths were popular. 
As I stepped in to pay for the call, I noticed she was blind. Yet, she had the most amazing smile on her face. She was looking at my direction and smiling. 
That was the start of a relationship that lasted 15 years. 

Aunty was not born blind. She, however, had juvenile diabetes which got worse when she was 10. As her vision got weaker, her poor parents took her to a quack who ended up snipping the nerves to her eyes. She lost more than her vision that year. She lost both her parents soon after that.
Being the eldest among 4 siblings, she had to leave home to earn, fend for herself and provide for her family. 
I hear she traveled far - until Gujarat to learn basket-weaving, and candle-making. She did fairly well in all these, managing to support her sisters and brother through college and getting them married.
When I met her in 1999, she was in Bangalore only a couple of years and living in a government hostel for the physically disabled. 
She had given up on weaving since it was taking a toll on her health. She couldn't compete with people who did the same at a cheaper price. 

That's when a local politician helped her set up the phone booth. 
While occasionally, people would not pay for calls, she would keep track of calls and the cost of each call and did a pretty good job managing the phone booth and living off the money she made. 

We soon become very close and I was her eye. She became a mother-figure to me. 
She moved on from the dilapidated government hostel to a home of her own and has seen me grow in my life, with motherly pride. She may not have seen me but she knew when I was there. We would pray together everytime we met. Everytime I went through a crisis, she would be there with a prayer and an encouraging word. Everytime I was celebrating, she had the most joyous laugh and the biggest smile on her face.

I was born a Christian, raised as a church-going, Sunday school attending, Christmas skit playing Christian. But I never prayed. I never believed in God. God was just a name in the Bible. My entire faith can be summarized to -  'You do something wrong, you get punished. If you want God to give you something, you must be a regular church-goer Christian'. 

Aunty changed this for me.

She was a Pentecost Christian. Couldn't go to church as much as she wanted to, but had the strongest faith in Christ I've ever seen. 
I would marvel at her faith. There were always dead-ends, unfulfilled needs, and challenges. And I would worry for her, but then the next morning, that roadblock/dead-end would miraculously vanish. I've seen absolutely corrupt politicians and bureaucrats come to her aid. I've seen churches which had no money themselves, donate to build her home. I've seen God work in and through her. Surely, a lot of people benefitted off her circumstances, but she has never held grudges towards those who cheated her.

Aunty would remain single because no one wanted to marry a poor blind lady in her 50's. Her diabetes would worsen through the years and towards the end, she was home-bound. Unable to walk for long distances, she had to give up the phone booth and survived on charities from the local church and well-wishers. I've seen aunty cry, sometimes she would wail in sadness on the phone with me, yet through every crisis in her life, she didn't stop praying. She would always talk with the absolute assurance of Christ even when she wasn't sure where her next meal will come from. 

The last time we spoke was a day before she died. She was being hospitalized because several organs were beginning to fail and didn't want to stay there any longer. She just wanted to go back home. 
2 years ago, on this day, I received a phone call late in the evening telling me she breathed her last. I wept. 

By the time I got to her home 60 kms away, she was being placed inside a mobile mortuary. Neighbours recognized me as 'the son' she would always talk about with pride. She still had her smile. I searched for her brother and sisters among the mourners, but they weren't there. 

She always wanted me to take her on an airplane ride and now, every single time I take a flight somewhere, I miss not having done this. 
I could have done more for her. I didn't. I hope she sees my remorse at not having done more when she was here. 

Sometimes, you meet people who are so wonderful inside, that you know they are going to heaven.  I know she is in a much much better place now. I know she is another angel who watches over me. 
She doesn't have to struggle with the pettiness of our abilities. 

In the beginning, I used to wonder aloud and ask aunty if she ever felt angry and resentful towards God. She would smile and tell me 'No' and then tell me how wonderful God is. She was indeed content with little or much. I couldn't fathom it. 
I don't even have a picture of her, but then I don't need one. Like how she has never seen me, yet loved me as a son 'she didn't give birth to', I have aunty etched in my heart. 

Towards the end, one of the things she would tell me is how much peaceful she is. This inspite of pain wracking her body. A week before she passed on, she would tell me she is ready to die. 

Today, as I wish my loved ones 'Happy Deepavali', I pray that we all have joy and peace in ourselves. 
Because happiness is transitive. Joy is permanent and we don't need a lot to be joyful. 
A peace that is beyond our comprehension. Because when we are peaceful, then we can love each other and appreciate how much you are loved. 

Happy Deepavali to you all!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Just did Nothing [60/365]

Invited by Sameer, Linger! came highly recommended from a few people who'd stayed there.

The website was elegant and uncluttered, a real surprise considering how similar vacation homes are quite 'in-your-face'. Sameer, a biking buddy I met at TfN and co-founder, was incredibly detailed with what to expect and not.
Armed with just the directions to Linger, we rode the 350 odd kms in 12 hours. That's right!
Harish, the caretaker/concierge and overall good guy with an effortless smile was waiting for us. Infact, he was expecting us for lunch, while we reached in time for dinner. The cook prepared our dinner while we took that much needed shower. Detoxed, we were ready for some chicken curry that was perhaps the second most tastiest curry I've tasted (no marks for guessing the tastiest curry).

We were given the master Guest house, which was set amidst a positively idyllic courtyard just a stone's throw from a paddy field on the left and coffee on the right.

Maybe it was the weather, or maybe it was the lighting inside the rooms, or maybe it was the way the rooms were as rustic as they were spacious. We thought we just entered another dimension!

To ears that wake up with the sounds of loud neighbors, chatty crows, insensitive drivers and endless traffic, waking up at Linger was just what the physician prescribed. You can never seem to get enough of the million birds that chirp and tweet (no pun intended) through the day. This must be like how it is in heaven!

Harish is a wonderful concierge. Always around when you need him. Intuitive yet unobtrusive.
Girija, the cook stays close to Linger with her family, was always eager to cook for us. So whether it was chicken, or the legendary pandi curry or endless bajjis over coffee, she always had that smile on her face. No dish too big.

But Linger is not for all. You'll find much of the furniture and accessories very minimalistic, rustic yet appropriate.
So what exactly is Linger?!
Linger is that place you go to if you are Writer in search of some peace and quiet. Also works if you are simply looking to detox your creativity.
You'll get to rub shoulders with nature minus the nightmare.
A place where you should go to when you've had enough of the rat race and you want to slow down.
...and just do nothing.
Don't expect a swimming pool, newspapers or a television. And rightly so. While we had our reservations on how we could wean ourselves from our addictions to the TV and my daily dose of headlines, its amazing what a few days can at Linger can accomplish. We found our bodies and minds adapting to the cool crisp evening breeze and the timeless pace of nature faster than a duck to a pond.
While we were there, we lost track of time.

And before we knew it, it was time for us to return to an ordinary life.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Destination: Linger [56/365]

It had been a while since we went on a vacation together.
Deciding on a place was easy since we has been always wanting to visit Coorg. And I knew just the place to visit in Coorg - Linger!
Owned and promoted by a biking buddy of mine, I decided we should getaway.
I kept the destination a closely guarded secret and decided to ride 350 kms on our trusty motorbike.
We'd planned on starting at the break of dawn but eventually started at 8am on a Saturday morning. Now, I would still recommend that you start before the rest of the city wakes up if you have to travel across the city just to get out of the tarmac madness. Starting from RT Nagar, through Corporation Circle, taking the Sirsi flyover, unti we reach the gridlocked junctions of Mysore road. Negotiating this took us about 30 minutes. Time taken to travel the distance from RT Nagar to Kengeri: 3 hours!
The roads after Rajarajeshwari Nagar are as deceptively wonderful as they are scenic. Its a pity that we don't sell common sense and the ability to drive carefully as a standard accessory when we buy cars. Traveling at about 70 kmph, most cars and SUVs zipped by us as if we were standing still. Dotted with McDonalds, Cafe Coffee Day's and a dozen Darshini's (restaurants serving low cost local cuisine) we took plenty of breaks every hour or so.
Passing through the historic town of Channapatna, takes you back to your childhood. We just had to stop and buy a wooden toy for the child in us.
Ofcourse, entering Mandya, it is obvious to see the clout and influence that it's most famous sons have had on the town. Complete with four signals, traffic cops equipped with radar guns traveling through the town it is like a oasis in an otherwise deserted highway.
Entering Mysore, we hit a lot of slow moving traffic to reach the Outter Ring Road that is being built. And public construction in India directly translates into infinite dust, complete chaos and signage's in poor English.
Time taken to cover a distance from the Country Club restaurant as you enter Mysore until Industrial layout at the other end of the Ring road: 1 hour. Curiously, we couldn't find a single restaurant worth mention on this route.
The roads, however appeared to improve vastly as we continue towards Hunsur, Virajpet and on to Madikeri. Kudos to the State Government for making sure that the roads are well designed. With the government's penchant for speed breakers, I had to rely on signage when I was traveling at 70 kmph for any speed breakers (aka humps) on the road ahead, and I found it to be accurately marked except for a couple as you approach Kushalnagar. Beware!
I can't stop raving about the roads but entering Madikeri was a rude awakening. We had to proceed towards Talakacaveri.
If this is your first time to Talacaveri, prepare to reach before it gets dark. Certain patches of the road downhill are bad, really bad.
The route is breathtaking.

View Larger Map

We reached Linger at Chettimani in 12 hours. While we were exhausted, tired and famished, we were in for a huge surprise! Read more about our experience at the Resort here.

Important if you're heading towards Coorg:
  • Getting there is half the fun. Don't make the mistake of zipping by all the wonderful sights (Channapatna), sounds(Virajpet) and smells (Mandya). Take plenty of coffee breaks and lots of sunscreen if you are on a bike.  
  • Drive Defensively. Logic tells that big city road users are better educated and polite. Reality: We had the most pleasant driving experience once we were out of Bangalore and Mysore. Drivers always gave right of way and were polite and most importantly followed traffic rules. 
  • Once in Coorg, slow down and smell the coffee beans. Quite literally.
  • Shop! Buy the insanely low priced coffee, freshly ground / beans. We bought a kilo of freshly ground coffee at just Rs80!
  • Carry a BSNL cellphone. Idea works as well.
  • If you are non vegetarian and won't mind eating pork, gorge yourselves on the local 'Pandi curry'. Its finger licking good!
  • The people are friendly but knowing Kannada can help you get around.
  • Trek!
  • Don't bother carrying work. Linger is all about kicking back and slowing down. But wait. You'll have to read about our experiences here..

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