Saturday, 31 December 2011

A Year Remembered

One more page in the book of my life, the page of 2011, is being turned over. It has been a year of mixed feelings. If I say it was a page all written in golden letters I would be fooling myself. The page had a lot of black patches too. The page, as it turns by, takes me through a summary of what I learnt.

The learnings I have had have been tremendous and I believe the creator made this year or at least waited all these years to give me a learning of a life time. As per mythology Arjuna learnt so many things from The Lord in a very crucial part of his life. So I am sure HE has destined me to learn all what I learnt in the 2011 chapter this year only. Many have come in this life of mine and many have left.  The ones who came to stay are with me supporting me through thick and thin and the ones who decided to leave me and go have surely left a deep imprint on my life and gone. As it is said, life moves on and I still feel all this will bring the better out of me.

This post is a thanksgiving to my parents, my sister, my brother in law, aunts, uncles, cousins, colleagues and above all my good dear friends who stood by me through thick and thin telling me and mentoring me in the best and the right direction.  I know the learning of 2011 will be taken with me to the later parts of my life.

The best learning I got this year was that not everything which glitters is gold. Though we learnt it long long ago, we never get it to seep down in us and we tend to believe that calm waters are safe but, calm waters can also be very rough below.  People who have been known for years seem to fade away by character and you really feel that it’s your fault but later on in your solitude you realize that they were always that way and we only saw the better of them, thanks to the good in us.

Another important learning I had this year was not to take anything and everything as it comes. Check it and if it doesn’t match you and if it is unbecoming throw it back at the people who flung it at you. I am a person who does not react much, chip of the old block my Dad. But this year has taught me that where a word has to rule a word rules and where silence speaks volumes silence speaks it all.

My dear friends it’s been a pleasure and a great time we had together this year called 2011. Let’s all join together to welcome 2012. May all our hopes, aspirations and dreams be fulfilled. May the poor and the rich, the unhealthy and the healthy, the down trodden, the animals and all of us have a very beautiful 2012 which brings love, joy and peace to the world and to mankind.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Tribute to Our Culture

A year has passed since I went to the temple festival in my hometown, Kannur in Kerala. The festival happens every year on the last weekend. The temple is called Poothatta Tharavad Kavu. This happens to be my paternal great grandfather’s Tharavad (Ancestral House.) The basic art form performed in the Kavu (Temple) is called as Theyyam or Theyyattam.
Theyyam is a Hindu folk dance ritual of worship exclusive to Northern Malabar region, i.e., Kannur, Kasargod, Kozhikode (formerly Calicut), and Wynad belts. People in the olden times believed that any obstacle that nature brought in front of them was caused by a certain power, which human intelligence could not comprehend. Thus, man started idolizing the various entities in nature like wind, air, water and so on. One person among the group was made to empower himself with these unseen powers and was considered to be a form of God.  The word Theyyam is derived the Sanskrit word Daivam which means God. The origin of this ritual is unknown or rather it is better to say that there is no one theory that explains the birth of Theyyam. 

The ritual dance is exclusively performed by male members of certain caste communities namely Vannan, Malayan, Velan, Mavilan, Pulayan and Koppalan. Most of these communities are indigenous tribes of Kerala and this tradition of folk dance has been kept alive by them. During the Theyyam season (which spans from November till April), these dancers transcend into Gods. They paint themselves with sandalwood paste, turmeric paste, red sandalwood paste and wear very large crowns all with prominence to red.

Each Theyyam has a character of his own and they bless the members who go to meet them. At our Tharavad Kavu we had Theyyams by the name of Karanavar Theyyam, Gulikan Theyyam, Wayanad Kulavan Theyyam, Bhagavathy Theyyam, Vellattom Theyyam, etc. to mention a few. I was asked to meet the Wayanad Kulavan Theyyam and he looked into my eyes and began telling me about things which were in my mind. I was standing in front of him with all due respect and he tells me “you told someone what’s the point of praying because God does not heed to all what we plead to him.” My eyes widened in surprise. A few weeks ago I was telling my flat mate the same thing. I said a big NO to him but he held on to it. I don’t know how he knew it. Men and women who came there, some of them were seen crying and he was consoling them too.
It is indeed a worth watch. Leave alone the religious aspect of it, but the general dress up and the vigor of the dance and the traditions followed are unique in all respects. Forgot to tell you these Theyyams usually drink the local toddy tapped from coconut trees. That is the offering there.  For anyone who really wants to come to see this, January to April of every year is the best time to do this.
Some Information taken from the Wikipedia Link on Google.
Picture of Wayanad Kulavan Theyyam 

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Innocence Lost

A teacher in my mother’s school narrated this. One day she saw a rat in the house and she ran behind it and killed it. The 4 year old son was terribly taken aback that the mother did such a cruel thing. He went up to the mother and said “Mom you are so cruel you killed the rat. Now wait and see God is going to punish you. “The 4 year old was so sad and he went on around the place talking about this cruelty and how God would punish her for the act.

The rat was thrown out of the compound and the little boy was looking at it from the top of his compound wall. He thought it should be given a ceremonial burial. He took some sand and stooped on the boundary wall and with a lot of respect began putting it on the dead rat. The poor little boy fell off the fence and was bruised very badly.  The little boy after all the crying and sobbing late in the night asks his mom. “Mom you killed the rat but why is it that God punished me?”  What answer would you give the little child?

What made me think was all of us in our childhood were innocent and uncorrupted, compassionate and friendly. We knew that being bad was wrong.  But gradually we changed and today we have become so corrupted. Today, for many of us to be bad is no problem at all. Is it education that makes us too aware of the world that makes us what we are today, or something else? Why do we lose that love, compassion, true belief in God and unbiased love to every living being over a period of time?  

It’s a very serious question we really need to answer because if we could find an answer to this may be we could have very polished, compassionate , loving and giving, citizens for tomorrow. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

Re-living the Past

I was in my home town Kannur in Kerala. I went to a town called Telecherry to visit my Grand Mom’s sister. She is 89. It was the death anniversary of her husband and the whole family had come together. I drove into the approach and as I did, I found myself driving into the nostalgic past. The childhood which we enjoyed, the mangoes we had thrown stones at, the fishes we used to catch, the adventure cycling we used to do and so many things came running back into my mind. 

I remember us going to stay in this aunt’s house. Uncle used to build tree houses for us and we used to play in those tree houses all day. I remember us planning to stay all night in these houses but the minute the sun sets the fear in us jumped out. Food being served to us there and the whole day going on with fun. Standing under that very mango tree, I felt like I was 12 again, playing there in mud, going fishing and having a whole lot of fun. 

I spoke to one of my uncles and he too had the same things to say. He was talking of the past with a lot more deep feelings.  The whole family was talking about the beautiful times they had together. The pranks they played on each other, the fights they had and how they made up. It was awesome!!! My Sunday was a fun day and as always, being home is a pleasure.  I just sometimes wish that those days come back again with all the beauty of its past.

The legacy from the past is what takes us long in life.   We had enjoyed the best in life and I just do hope that we give all what we got from our past to the present generation. We are we only because of what we got from the past.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

A Smile Returns a Smile - Instant Return on Investment.

In a friends note to me, she said that her son’s school had a big issue. A boy from a certain community brought some temple offering from his place of worship to school. He offered it to his friends in class and none of the students from other communities touched it. Two boys from another community had the offerings and said nothing to lose. The little boy was terribly upset.

I don’t understand my dear friends why we do this. Children are the future of tomorrow and why are we instilling all this negative thoughts into them? Let them grow free from caste and religious bias.  When God evolved us from the monkeys did he ever make discrimination? He made us to live within the boundaries of the eco system and he gave us all what we wanted. Now we idiotic individuals are fighting over religion, caste and creed.

What we forget most of the time is, whoever it may be, a Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Hindu or any religion, every one of us runs red blood within and not any other dependent on our religion. Then why do we stress our own selves with this unnecessary barrier called religion?  And to be very frank from the little I have read of the religious scriptures, I am yet to read them say that religion is to divide people.  It says live and let live and how to keep the individual in a level of peace with himself. But what do we specialize in? We are all out to break the mind into pieces and we restrict our kids from being themselves.

This post is dedicated to the parents of those two boys and all the parents who allow their kids to be free from bias and be themselves. Religion can be no bar to kindness. Good people are Godly and all you need to be Godly is to be kind to the next living being, animal or human. A smile returns a smile- instant return on investment. 

Monday, 12 December 2011

Beauty of Life -- We Forget to Enjoy.

I was walking along the Besant Nagar Beach, in Chennai last Saturday evening. The waves were washing the shores and the moon was going into an eclipse, which perhaps was the longest known eclipse ever. I was at the beach enjoying the serene calm and cooling off a week’s pressure. 

Walking through the beautiful walkways I found small kids moving on wheelchairs. They were mentally and physically challenged. There was such a lot of pain in their eyes. These kids were finding it so difficult carrying themselves but still they had the best smiles to their friends at the beach. They greeted people they knew, they spoke to them on the walkway and they also took efforts to make friends with the animals on the beach. I was deeply touched. My heart felt so heavy and it was an eye opener.  I thought how thankless I was to crib about pressure which only came because of work, or something trivial like that. 

Friends, a few days ago I read Pareto’s 80-20 principle. How true it is even in life. We are the blessed who have 80% right in life. We can talk, we can see the beauty of life, we can hear the love in the air, but yet we crib about the 20% we do not have. 20% of things we don’t have eclipse the 80% we already have and then we crib. My dear friends, those people at the beach are also human and they enjoy life thanking God for the fact that they are alive. Why is it that we forget to enjoy when we have got the best in life?

Friday, 9 December 2011

Looking Back in Life

I have seen my father take great pains for the family. He has put his hard earned money and directed great efforts to see that his nephews and nieces, abandoned by their parents, were looked after well and made to become good people in life. It was sacrifice to the fullest which did involve the sacrifice of the interest of his wife and kids. More important to him were these other kids, his nephews and nieces, who had no parental care and support financially. He did not want them to become drivers or load bearers on the street. Today, thanks to his efforts, they stand upright in very important roles, and sadly, for them, associating with the one person who made their life worthwhile seems to be a bother and burden of gratitude..  Is it natural that we forget the past? Is it natural that we become so blinded by the insanity around? And, do we allow unworthy worms that are incapable to decide what is important in life?

I don’t know what is important today. But I am sure of one thing, that a good parentage is a legacy you hold for a lifetime. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if people tell you that you have the vocabulary of a thirteen year old or that you are only worth selling vegetables in the rural market, but what really matters is that it is important to be a good human being, a human being who understands another human being and a human being who doesn’t forego his or her values to the society which constantly prompts him or her to do so.  You may have a degree from a prestigious institute, a doctorate in the best subject, and a whole lot of frills and additions, but if you are not brought up in a family where love, ethics, care  and harmony are taught I think all the other laurels in life get washed away forever.

This post is a reminder to all of us who have reached places in life to look back and thank all those people who made a change in our lives. It is important not to be ungrateful beings, which even animals aren’t. It is important to preserve our great lineage and prove that we have been brought up by wonderful people not wretched devils. Let us remember that our treatment of another reflects our upbringing and lineage. 

Thursday, 1 December 2011

My Element of Life

I came home late tonight.  I stepped in at around 11.30 pm.  My mom was waiting for me with my dinner served hot at the dining table.  I was touched. I was just thinking how beautifully God gave us this life as a present which had the best goodies in it.  A Dad who is nothing less than the Lord himself, Mom who is an embodiment of patience, a sister who is the source of inspiration and a few good friends who make it worthwhile to be with, which is  beautiful.

Life as Naveen Manomohanan has been very eventful and beautiful. I realized that education alone can’t make a person a good human being. One could claim to be well-educated by virtue of trappings earned over the course of study and yet could be a psychotic wreck. One surely has to be instilled with the values of love and compassion from childhood, guided of course by good parentage. Today when I walk forward in life, I understand and value the importance of good upbringing and lineage which few are blessed with.

From our childhood our parents have always sacrificed their needs to keep us happy and even today they do so. Today was a lovely day. Back home I felt the love and the care a lot that still keep us bonded to  the institution called FAMILY, Father And Mother I (WE) Love You. It was not just about education that was told to us, it was taken for granted that we would study. But we were taught immensely about love, compassion and most importantly integrity that have proven to be invaluable assets. Today when I look back, I realize how fortunate I am and how thankful I need to be.

There couldn’t be a better or more precious gift I could be blessed with, and in many ways this post is a tribute to my family, which is so dear to me. I feel privileged more than ever to be part of a wonderful family while I know fully well that many others could never stand to benefit from this remarkable fabric of life for their own misgivings about it.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Perils of Age – Perhaps

My flat mate, Rakesh and I were sitting over our breakfast coffee when an elderly colleague joined us. Around 65 may be, the obvious question from her was “ Son, can I order something for you.”  We said we were perfect and she pulled her plate and joined us. The conversation clicked off and then it came to the point of telling us she was going to resign. She said she was joining her daughter in a foreign country.

I was happy for her and I said “Ma’am that would be fun.” She looked at me and then to the plate and said, “Dear, at this age I don’t think it’s fun. I have become a mess. I need to get counseled before I go in with my daughter.” We were shocked. Rakesh exclaimed, “What?”  To which she said “I need to get counseled to stop lighting the lamp I lit all these years, I need to forget that my windows need to be opened. And the worst was this “Son, I feed birds every day in the morning. I am even expected to forget that.” The daughter had given clear instructions to the mother before she even went to her place.

I was thinking how many times our parents have sacrificed for us. The time they have spent for us, telling stories, preparing us for competitions, tucking us into bed. But somewhere don’t you think we are forgetting our parents' sacrifice? They taught us how to walk and now we tell them how to behave. Isn’t it a pain? Just imagine a few years from today we will also wear the same shoes. Imagine us being treated this way.

I can’t imagine.

When did we forget all the goodness taught to us during childhood?

Monday, 21 November 2011

An Autograph from a Teacher

Standing in a teacher’s shoes at a very young age has been an experience worth a life time of learning and good feelings. At age 22 I began my role as a teacher. Too young to know the seriousness of life, I entered my second job, as Faculty member of a B School , before which I was a Sales Officer in a Bank.  I was in the transition phase of my life and I was in the middle of the best of what life offers, college Life. I was out of my college life, experiencing others enjoying their college life. Imagine that you have a big pot of honey which you are not supposed to touch. Gosh!!!

The first day as a teacher I realized how good and diplomatic our teachers were. Standing on the other side of the classroom was an experience the first day. I saw myself sitting in their place. I could see everyone and everything they did. That’s when it struck me how my teachers tolerated us. But my dear friends, to be frank a teachers life is actually a very fulfilling one. Every student’s achievement becomes your achievement and every students fall becomes your pain. With the exams they write the tension is in the teacher’s heart. But yet all the missed heart beats and pains the teacher goes through get washed away in the process being friendly but not familiar or rather to make it simple being strict.

Here I would like to narrate a small incident of my life as a teacher which made me think a lot. Fortunate as a teacher I have always had very controllable batches, which has been also the reason why I have felt very close to many there. In my class I had a student named Kiran who was very shy and wanted to discontinue the post-graduation course halfway through. Not seeing him in class for a few days I called his parents and asked them to come over. The first shock the parent gets is the look of the teacher. He asked with the highest exclamation “are you the one teaching Kiran?” I answered yes, that’s me. I told him how it was important that Kiran needed to come back and how his parents needed to support us in the cause of getting him going well.

The initiative worked and the then Director of the institute, a walking encyclopedia said “Boss, I am not sure of what you are planning for.” Months passed by and one day the Director summoned me to his cabin. I was sure there was a mess and he asked me to sit with the most irritated look on his face. He extended his hand and said “Congratulations.” I was perplexed. He said “Kiran spoke to me with immense confidence, and it’s all your work.” I was lost and in the middle of nowhere. That was one appreciation I got which was an achievement. I take it as an achievement because it came from a knowledgeable man. Today Kiran is doing excellently well and I feel happy for him. When he said he was leaving the course I felt the pain and today I feel proud of my student and friend Kiran, who has since changed from being a chronic introvert into a confident young man.

Truly, nothing could be more rewarding than the life of a teacher to witness a transformation in the lives of his students.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Tribute to a Teacher - My Blog Begins...

Teachers are a gift of a lifetime. They make us what we are today… I would like to begin blogging by a tribute to my teacher. I owe a lot to her for what I am today.

Back to my class 11 year 1996. An average student I must say, coming to a CBSE School from the state syllabus, with all the qualities of being a nut. The CBSE School was a cultural shock. Everyone was fast and   the only thing I was fast was with my chattering.  Being a Commerce guy I needed to be taking accounts sessions which was a hard spot. Even today let me confess, I go berserk with all numbers other than mobile numbers. So here comes in a very strict teacher into the class who was to instruct us accounts. Not joking friends she was a terror. We used to pray for her to be on leave. The minute she enters the class breaths go up and as she exits we all come back to normal. In the course of time my slowness got noticed and I had a privilege to sit on the teacher’s desk during her hours. It was stressful and the punishments were also bad. I used to think that Ma’am had some ill feeling towards me. Ok I thought.

It so happens that I sing, not very well but yes a bit. I got selected in the western music team for the year. School became enjoyable. Music was taking a lot of time. Michael Jackson’s Heal the world was in full swing practice for a month.  We decided the clothes to wear, the material selected and at one point a teacher comes in and changes the entire team structure and three of us saw us out of the team. At age 15 I don’t think I would have gone disheartened so much. My family was very very supportive. It was all through and I was cool.

The competition day came in. my dad and mom stood by me. I went to school on a cold Saturday morning in mid December. I could not function but I remember the words my dad said, "Son, this is just a small battle. Win it and you will grow." School was all usual tough Naveen was so unusual. As the schedule the accounts class came and we had a two hour schedule. Ma’m walked in and I walked to my special seat. She gave us some accounting problems and all of us were at work. I am not exaggerating I just wrote the date and sat on my seat. Ma’am came once saw my book no response. The second time also she came not a word, again a third, nothing happened. At this point one of my classmates who went for the programme came back and said they got the first prize. My eyes watered but I did not burst out. The so called strict, cruel teacher walked up to my desk and held me on my shoulder and patted me. I felt the love, the genuineness and care of a teacher flow in through the same hands she used to hit me. I changed. I changed from the slow, poor student category to one of the good students in class. From then I had had no looking back.

The word teacher if mis-spelt becomes a cheater. Even after 15 years of leaving school I still meet my mother at school my dear Teacher Ms Rajini Anoop. She is a true asset I earned over my years of being a student.