Posted in Dance, Family, Gratitude, Inspiration, Intentions, Introspection, Life, Little Moments, Wishes

The journey

Unbeknownst to me, tears were streaming down my face as the recital came to a conclusion. They were not tears of joy or sorrow; they were the culmination of an experience that was so profound that it brought the vastness and depth within me to the forefront.  The guru, holding the hands of his sishaya, bowing to the audience in reverence, in humility. The audience, drenched in the experience, elevated and humbled by it.  Perhaps, this is what they mean by the soul in me bows to the soul in you?  

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The recital was also tinged by a pang. One that comes from the knowledge that I can only be a rasika. The one that is dazzled but not the one to dazzle. The one that tried but the one that did not go much further. 

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Hari, Ram and I headed to the attic, our weekend sleeping arrangment. We exchanged notes on the day’s happenings. It was a milestone day for Hari. He played in adult cricket league with a red ball (that’s a milestone for wannabe cricketers).  He got two wickets, gave more runs than he would like, which was partly attributable to the size of the field, and he ended up umpiring as well.  Ram naarated his deed for the day – how he helped appa with yard work and shopping for pavers for the patio. Then, I told him about the evening, how I wished that all the people that I loved could experience what I did – something that was bigger than the self.  

I drifted off to sleep reliving the dance. The concept of yathi that I learnt in the workshop last week so beautifully articulated in the dance. The geometric patterns of the yathi shown gracefully in the mridangam, damuru, nandi’s tail, and the waves of ganga. Bharathiyar’s poem gnyayiru – are you the sun that gives light to darkness or are you the one to kill it? – narrated through dance. One form of art blending with the other. Then came the story of the Ganges – her origin, her role as sustainer of life (birth, maturity, and death all found in the river), and her current plight. A dance item that made me reflect on the sanctity of life forms and natural resources. Then came Rama’s virakthi at losing Sita. Shringara is pervasive in Bharatanatyam but more often than not, it is the heroine pining for the hero. This one was unique portrayal of a heartbroken hero. A sweet reminder that shringara is not exclusive to women. The finale was fitting with Krishna mukunda murari – we are born alone, we die alone, but we live together. Why criticise, why blame, why not treat each other well? 

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I woke up this morning earlier than I wanted to. Ram drifting to me, his arms instinctively reaching out to my body for the warmth. The recital from last evening still fresh in my mind. The brilliance of portraying the cow’s tail for gopucha yathi. The way the night that was described as a kadhali, shown elegantly. The eyes darting left and right in all speeds for mrignayani. The swaying and dancing of Krishna.

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Downstairs, I can hear Da. The man, who loves his glory sleep, is up bright and early, making tea and breakfast. He has a full day of chauffeuring the boys to towns far away for sports practice. He takes it in stride, without complaints, without expecting me to ease the load for him. Ram is mildly upset that we did not wake him early. You still have plenty of time, don’t stuff scrambled eggs in your mouth, drink some water, I remind him while I am sipping my morning tea without a hurry in the world. Hari comes down with a super stuffy nose, “I had the worst night with my allergies amma.” He was sleeping right next to me, and I had no clue. Why can’t I be that kind of mom that turns the world upside down to make her child’s life easier? I don’t say that to him but chide myself in my head. I just tell him I wish I was awake with him so I could have done something to make him feel better. “Don’t worry amma, if it was unmanageable I would have woken you up.”  

Seeing the morning play out in front of me hits me that I am not needed, I am wanted. That I am loved for who I am, with my imperfections, without any conditions. How lucky am I? 

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Being loved by my family unconditionally reminds me to be gentle on myself. Self compassion trickles in.

It’s true. Life is not a level playing field. We are born with our uniques abilities, strenghts, weaknesses and circumstances. There are some things that are not within our control. There are some things that are within our control that we do little about. It’s ok. It’s ok to be the one that tried. It’s ok to be human. And I remind myself again – it’s not a means to an end, it’s an end by itself. It’s the practice. It’s all about the journey. 

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Posted in Dance, Experiences, Gratitude, Inspiration, Intentions, Introspection, Learnings, Life, Little Moments

Bharthanatyam – What it means to me?

I was nominated for a 10-day dance mom challenge on FaceBook, which entailed posting a picture a day in the life of a dance mom or a significant dancing moment. I chose to do it only for 5 days because I didn’t have the bandwidth to continue, I was getting distracted from my routine, and finally I felt vulnerable sharing too much. Since I don’t have much readership here, I feel relatively more comfortable sharing things that are close to my heart in this space. Along with that picture, I had put in a blurb providing context to the picture. I am  repurposing those posts, without pictures, with some expanded content here and there.  

  • I am lucky that my parents (thank you, thank you and thank you appa and amma) went along with my choice to pursue dance when the popular vote was for music (pursuing multiple interests was not as common in my growing up years). More importantly for just asking – dance practice eppadi porthu? Sometimes it is the simplest of reminders that galvanizes you into action. I am also fortunate to have been married into a family that takes interest and pride in my pursuits. I am thinking of my mil who would accompany me to my dance class with excitement. As the sole member in our family of four that enjoys Bharatanatyam, I do struggle with balancing “me” time with family time. A weekend afternoon spent attending a dance recital is an afternoon away from them. And sometimes that is the only time we have together. Often, I dilly dally not knowing what to choose. Sometimes family wins, at other times dance. What I have learnt is, the only person judging my choice is me. The trick is to not think of the dance recital I missed when I am with the family and not to think of my family when I am at the recital. Shout out to Da for being my rock, my punching bag, and for constantly reminding me that I am learning dance because it makes me happy. Flying kisses to the sonny boys for caring about my pursuits. They will throw a tantrum if I were to take them to an arangetram but they would be heart heartbroken if I were to pass up on an opportunity to perform. 
  • I have learnt Bharatanatyam, on and off, for the most part of my life. The breaks were sometimes short, and at other times were prolonged. Sometimes due to lack of continuity at the teachers’ end, and  sometimes due to life events and circumstances. Board exams, school in one city, undergrad in another city, postgrad in yet another city, work in fourth city, then came marriage, move to a new country, back to school, kid no. 1, kid no.2. One way to look at it is, it has been a slow and shaky learning experience. Another way to look at it is, life has been generous in bestowing me with opportunities and teaching me resilience through dance. A constant in my life. Thank God for that! Thank God for all my teachers who willingly took me under their wings, gave me their time and attention, and in the process kept the spark alive. I am exactly where I need to be, all those breaks were necessary to lead me to where I am today, to ensure that there was continuity in the journey. To all my dance teachers, past and present, gratitude from the depths of my heart. Without you, dance would have only been a longing.
  • Janmashtami tradition – may be it is the fact that I have two veshama kara kannans in my house, I love Janamashtami. Our Janmashtami celebration is more about storytelling than about bakshanam. When the boys were little, they would get dressed up as Krishnas, and Balaramas and we would act out Krishna Leela. What better way to tell a story than via Bharatanatyam? All those giggles, broken mazhalai tamizh, and role playing. Deeply grateful to the art form for giving me ways to bond with little humans, my own and the ones that cross my path. 
  • The day before a performance is humbling. You hold the blessing close to your heart and want to give it your all and beyond. You are also a bundle of nerves. You run through the sequence in your head. Once, twice, thrice, and a few times more. By yourself, and with your gang. Then you obsess over the costume, jewelry, food, and family. Details, details, so many details to think of for the compulsive mind. Then, there comes a point when you simply let go. And you remind yourself to just be and dance your heart out. Being in the moment, soaking in the music, taking in the space and the lights, and trusting that your practice will carry you through. That’s all matters! One of the nicest parts of learning to dance as an adult is all the fabulous women you get to meet over the years. Self-made, independent, accomplished and courageous. When the group clicks, you know you have surrounded yourself with empathetic, compassionate and strong women. Ones who inspire, encourage and support each other. The experience is heightened when you have found your people. My heartfelt gratitude to the girl gang, who have knowingly or unknowingly, have helped me in small and big ways.
  • Dance is my Zen. It has taught me the power of practice, perseverance, and having a growth mindset. To do something purely for the love of it, not as a means to an end. Through my practice, I learn more about myself. If you came up to me and asked, are you a dancer? My answer would be, I learn dance. I love Bharatanatyam. Dancer is a label that I hold to high standards and don’t think I am there yet. I am more like the Giraffe who found his music and learnt to dance. I found my reason to dance. So yeah, I learn dance. 

To be able to dance at this age and stage of my life is something that I never take for granted. Don’t know what tomorrow holds but I am thankful with every fiber in my being that my life has been touched by the art form all my life.

Posted in Experiences, Gratitude, Hari Katha

Side Hustle

Hari is interested in working. The intensity varies. Some days, he feels like he is ready for it, and on other days he wonders why hurry now? Some days he thinks he will be a good fit for babysitting. On other days, he wonders why not grocery stores. May be a math teacher assistant? Or a baseball umpire? Or work in the local comic store? Or may be mow someone’s lawn? Last week, he went to the town center, hopping in and out of stores, inquiring about the hiring process. Long waiting list, he was told. As we talked about the possibilities today, one thing led to the other, and we started working on his resume. What he thought would take a few minutes, took a few hours. Grammar, fonts, formatting, references, and what not. He learnt a lesson or two today about how to position himself, how all the things that he does adds to the big picture. I hope he sees that it almost does not matter what you do, just that you do something and keep building on your skills set. 

 

Posted in Experiences, Gratitude, Hari Katha, Milestones

First gig

This past weekend, Hari hit a milestone. He earned his first pay. He was the Square One Leg umpire for an adult’s cricket match. This is the feedback he received. 

“… We also saw a very young Hari (MSCL U14 Captain) as a SQLeg umpire. He was professional for his age. Calm, composed and did a good job umpiring for 2 innings in scorching sun.”

He was a little nervous the earlier night. “What if the adults are upset with my decisions?” I will confess, I was a bit nervous too. Seemed like a disproportionate responsibility for his age. But he put himself out there and made it. He said the teams were very friendly and that the main umpire was very helpful. “It was a lot of work though amma. I had to be very attentive throughout the game.”  Looks like he has learnt his first lesson. To earn, you have to work. 

My gratitude to the enablers (coaches, mentors, and organizers), for the opportunities (playing, captaining and umpiring) , and for a child who is willing to explore and put in the work. Go Hari, mighty proud of you.

Posted in Experiences, Gratitude, Intentions, Introspection, Life, Loss, People, Work life balance

Worplace Gratitude

Overcome with emotions, I have choked up more than a couple of times in the past couple of months due to work related changes. First my boss was let go, the team I was part of disintegrated. Then I found a home, a sweet and cosy one, where I was welcome with open arms, and found myself surrounded in an atmosphere of trust, growth, and development. Just as I saw the pieces of the puzzle fitting together, my new team got split last week. I am in a new team with a new mission under a new boss.

Change is the only constant. It is inevitable, hard, and disruptive. I remind myself that it is also an opportunity to explore how I can rise up to the challenge, and solve new problems. The first time I had a big change at work several years back, I remember my former boss telling me, “Sometimes what seems like the worst thing in the moment, may turnout to be the best turning point in your life,” that’s something that has stayed with me. It was true, with that change I went on to learn new things, meet some inspiring leaders and team members, who have shaped my work ethics and enhanced the breadth and depth of my knowledge base. I have been fortunate to have been under managers who have championed for me, nurtured me, and have had my back. No wonder, I choked and grieved. The changes felt like a loss. Loss of a leader, mentor and friends.

I am not the kind that proactively seeks out change. I get cosy and comfortable in the status quo. So all these ups and downs at work, is life’s way of making me exercise my resilience muscle. I am reminded of the saying, don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but today I close my eyes, and hold all the folks at work who have moulded, supported, and inspired me, and offer my sincerest gratitude for their trust and confidence in me. I wish them well in their endeavors.

 

Posted in Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Little Moments, Ram Leela

Primal

With a throbbing headache and incessant coughing, the child woke up feeling miserable. “Amma, take my temperature. I know I have a fever.” I placed my hand on his forehead and then his neck, and knew that he did not have a temperature. “You are feeling feverish kanna, but you don’t have a fever,” I tried to convince Ram.

We did the usual things that we do when we have a coughing child at home – two pillows stacked on top of each other, the third one resting on the two so the child can sleep in elevated position, and a mug and a bottle of water next to his bed for possible throwing up scenario. “Amma, can you sleep next to me?” the child asked. Of course, anything to make you feel better, I responded and settled down on his twin bed.

The child while still coughing, relaxed a bit.  His head resting on my chest, as I wrapped my hand against his body. My belly rising and falling, his hand rising and falling with it. His breathing in synch with mine, we slipped into a rhythm, and the child drifted off to sleep. This is what primal feels like.

Posted in Gratitude

Deliah

Last summer and fall, there was a house in my neighborhood that had the most gorgeous deliah blooms. Everyday, I would walk by that house just to get a peek at these beauties. One day, I happened to see the owner working in his yard and told him how much joy his flowers brought for passersby like me. We exchanged a few pleasantries and he expressed interest in sharing his bulbs for the next season if I would like. I thanked his generosity and moved on.

This evening, after a long break, I took a stroll and the neighbor was planting the bulbs in his yard. And he had remembered! He had saved a few bulbs and happily gave them to me. I am beyond thrilled and touched by the generosity of this person. I only hope that I do justice to his bulbs and nurture them as much as he did.