To sir, with love.

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Disclaimer: TL; DR.

Thatha – a major influence in my life is no more and I have a lot to say.
He was mostly my guru, shared all that he knew musically unconditionally – not just with me, but with all his students. He made all of us complete individuals and gave us exposure beyond what we could imagine at that tender age.
He was mostly stern with me, when it came to classes and practice sessions. Instances I recollect that I’d get a share of unpleasantaries for fellow students making mistakes while singing. It used to be a rigourous 6-8 hours session per day. To compensate for his rigor, my paati would pamper all of us with delicacies and gratifying words.

Between 1998 and 2005, I’d participate in singing competitions across various sabhas in Chennai. And, by chance if thatha appeared as a judge, I know I have no chance of winning – even if I gave my best. Fellow musicians in the judging panel would encourage my performance whilst Thatha would find a gazillion mistakes in my performance – starting from the posture, to shruti, to kala pramanam, to diction and raga bhavam.

Almost until my early 20s, I’d blindly follow whatever he’d say. Because I knew nothing other than that. To support his views, my parents would never come in the way. And those years helped me see a person beyond a guru in him – an orator, an organiser, a disciplinarian, a creator, an artist and above all a bhakta of Saint Narayana Tirtha.

Thatha never said words or preached to help us learn things. He’d simply do them in action and meticulously followed them until his last breath – I can assure. Today, in his absence, I connect dots backward and know that there’s so much he has taught me in an implied manner.

He liked being challenged and deeply appreciated acumen in a person and accepted creative (non conventional) ideas readily.

He was one of the early organisers to encourage budding young artistes and would go out of his way to support and help them build a career by putting them in touch with other leading Sabha secretaries.

For those who knew him deep, they’d absolutely adore him for his straight forwardness. Despite his natural traits, he was extremely good as an influencer and loved being around like minded individuals.

From concert recitals, dance performances, stage dramas, harikatha, namasankeertanam, villupaatu, jugalbandis to talk shows, debate sessions, short films, street play, he explored spectrum of ideas to reach out compositions of Sri Narayana Tirtha.

Seen a man of dreams? Yes.
Seen an entire family beholding this man’s dreams? It’s rare. For, its seldom we witness such things.
I consider myself blessed to grow up in such an atmosphere at household. Differing views, conflicting interests, personal opinions will fall short completely when it comes to one subject – “Narayana Tirtha” – where the entire family unites unanimously.

In the recent past, we bonded beyond a guru – shishya relationship and shared ideas across subjects – food, travel, politics, history, culture, psychology, medicine, fitness, architecture. And maybe, this was when, he was more of a thatha to me and expressed his purest of sides with joy to me.

His leaving is irreplaceable but he has given us a purpose beyond our imagination – to each one of us in the family to hold onto and reminisce him in many more years to come.

Tataastu.

P.S: His strength and love, V Rajalakshmi, my patti – is currently in loss of words to express what she’s going through. Hope and pray for her well being.

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Pasi Vandhal Paththum Paranthu Pogum

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Pasi Vandhal Paththum Paranthu Pogum

The above phrase means when you are hungry, all of one’s key characteristics drift apart. Or in simple words, when one’s hungry, nothing else is of a priority than filling one’s stomach.

This phrase is derived from a song sung by Avaiyar in one of her works, Moodhurai.

Maanam Kulam Kalvi Vanmai Arivudaimai
Dhaanam Dhavam Uyarchi Thalanmai – Thaenin
Kasivandha Solliyarmael Kaamurudhal Paththum
Pasivandhida Parandhu Poam

Maanam – Dignity
Kulam – Class in the Society
Kalvi – Education
Vanmai – Strength
Arivudaimai – Knowledge
Dhaanam – Donating Attitude
Dhavam – Penance
Uyarchi – Rank
Thalanmai – Generosity
Kamurudhal – Romance

LOLAL – Laughing out loud at life!

“Here she is, all mine, trying her best to give me all she can.
How could I ever hurt her? But I didn’t understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.”
― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

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Here I am, LOLAL-ing. Yes, laughing out loud at life.

When devoid of something, mind seeks exactly that.
When bestowed with the best of things, it grows and feeds insecurities.
Wired with nerves connected to different parts of the body, it controls all sort of emotions.
It builds ego, it doesn’t let go off things.
The perspective of thee is far more superior than others.
From sadness to anger, tears to words, it completely surrenders to emotions.
The emotional balance goes for a jolly ride.
It brings out a face, which is ugly even for self to handle.
Forgiving is almost a far-fetched truth.
Almost juggling between modes like flight or fight.
Mind is a funny thing, controlling every action of the being.
Times like these, it can’t even recount moments of happiness, joyfulness, contentment, giving, selflessness, gratitude or simplicity.
Hereby, accepts that, I am no saint.
But, who says, I can’t learn to become one.

Oh my dear! It’s human to feel this way. It’s perfect to feel uprooted. Time to sow new seeds and grow within.

Lots of love, prayer and good wishes to everyone suffering. Stay strong, for this is the time for your growth.

Week 36: Your home (Upbringing)

There are two gifts we should give our children; one is roots and the other is wings.
~ Unknown

A photo by Daniel Cheung. unsplash.com/photos/sCdm5DiJb8w

Seldom we are grateful for the kind of brought up we all have been bestowed upon. Who and what we are is defined heavily by our parents.

Like or dislike it, we receive a sort of exposure because of them. Since our birth, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the games we play, the words we speak, the expressions of ours, the reactions, the beliefs, the values, trust, faith, everything is shaped by them.

The sort of education we get, therefore the kind of peer group we move with, the friends we make and the connections thereafter, everything is sowed as seeds by them. Discovering our own selves, our talent, our strengths is also facilitated by them.

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And there are some parents who guide us like a light through all the years until we make our own decisions based on choices available to us. And there are some who will continue to parent us. And, there are also many, who face life’s reality at an early age and lead life on their own figuring things out.

Which is ideal? We can never generalize that, for its completely circumstantial. Having said that, it’d be great if all acknowledge and count on our blessings for whoever we are today, merely for our existence.

Yes, I am glad, I am alive this morning and have another day to experience life. 🙂

Good vs. Bad

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Today, at my regular weekend Samskritam class with Sudha Mami, there was a particular verse she was explaining and it hit me so hard that a lot of my life questions got some sort of an answer.

गुणायन्ते दोषाः सुजन वदने दुर्जन मुखे
गुणाः दोष्यन्ते तदिदमपि नो विस्मयपदम् |
महामेघः क्षारं पिवति कुरुते वारि मधुरं
फ़ेणी क्षीरं पीत्वा वमति गरलं दु:सहतरम् ||

Gunayante doshah sujan vadane durjan mukhe.
Gunah doshaayante tadidmapi no vismaya padam.
Maha meghahksharam pivati, kurute wari madhuram.
Phani ksheeram peetwaa wamati garalam dussah taram

What this means is:

Good or noble people amplify even the little good they see in people. While, people who always like to pick up only fault in others would overlook all the good in others. So much to an extent, that they will portray even the good as negative trait in others.

And to draw an analogy, it is similar to how clouds absorb salt and dirt from the ocean to give sweet drops of water. While a snake drinks milk only to spit out poison.

Now, if you ask me what is good and bad, well, well. That’s for another blog, another day. 🙂

Week 27: Favorite spot in your city

In Chennai, there isn’t just one spot which is my favorite, but many such places. But, I am going to pick one that I frequently visit – Marina Beach.

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Marina has a charm that makes it very personal for me to connect and visit it every now and then.
Marina has seen a part of my soul – my best of laughter and sorrowful tears.
Marina is about 6.5kms long (From Island grounds to Light house) and has been my regular running path.
Marina has allowed me to sing to its waves, shiver to its thunder & lightning, dance to its uncovered rain.
Marina has made me see Chennai in its truest sense – from the rag pickers to the owner of an Audi, it treats everyone the same and takes them into its arms with no bias.
Marina is home when I need to pause and reflect on life.
Marina reminds me of a future ahead of me – for its been a witness to my life and growing up, in some sense.
Marina makes me feel I am home, everytime I land in Chennai after traveling out.
Marina, we will continue to have this bond, for we also made a deal to see you when I turn 60 years old. Probably with my special someone, Sriram.

🙂

Ootacamund – Go Heritage Run

May 29, 5:30am – 10am,

Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu

fresh cold of breeze, leaving me with goosebumps.

as we drove along the tiny lanes of ootacamund to reach the beautiful destination – lovedale school.

at 7am, we started a run, that will be etched in my thoughts, for the beautiful memories i made.

15kms covering sheer beauty,
for nature is par above us.

the flowers, the trail, the trees, the wet grass, the street dogs that looked well kept, the hills, the tiny roads.

the continuous breeze, the eucalyptus smell, the wet mud, the clouds.

the view of tiny colourful houses presented like a step cultivation.

the fellow runners – kids, loners, lovers, friends, couples, families.

there was beauty in every little thing.

and, most importantly, myself, my thoughts about a lot of new things. learning and discovering myself, for this was really “my time”.

grateful for the magical experience, for i only felt ecstatic and blissful throughout this journey.

thank you Go Heritage Run – Ooty team, it’s volunteers and my friends – Karthik Natarajan, Ashwanth Kumar and everyone else (you all know who you are), who made this possible for me.