Random musings of a wandering soul

Archive for the ‘gratitude’ Category

Ini Aanandame!

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She sent me a message one morning, “Peramma, please pray. I’m going for an audition.” “Did your parents allow?” was my first question. “Yes, they don’t think I’ll get through,” she laughed. The next action was in reflex, dialing my sister, “Di, you did allow her?” ” She’s always wanted to be in movies, she says. Let’s see. Will decide if she gets through.”

The uncertainty continued till the last round. The debutant director had spoken to the brother in law by then. What turned it around was the other kids and their parents. Educated, from similar families. And what clinched it finally was a name – Vineeth Sreenivasan. He is the brand Tata of Malayalam film industry – trusted, ethical. The sacking of the Chairman and the controversies came later, Vineeth is anyway a brand by himself now – for his groundedness, quality and turning the ones around him into their own brands. If he has put his faith in this new guy, he has to be good, the movie had to be good, was the thought. ” Vineeth alle producer? Onnum kaanaathe cheyyumo? Athum his first venture into production,” was the general concensus.

As the kids got together and the schedule started, it was as if I was seeing a brand new version of my sister and her husband. They are the most down to earth, graceful people you would ever meet. True spiritual beings and I don’t mean it in a religious manner. The spirit of their land has infused into their souls – gentle, true, one with the nature. Their home is a haven for tired souls and bodies. Never would I have imagined they would embrace their daughter’s wild dream so whole heartedly. There were other skeptics in the family, many of them asked ” did they really allow her?” Yes, there were moments of angst, even anger. At the end of it all, they stood by her, trusted her enough to travel alone with the group, visiting her now and then. And to ignore the words of some nay sayers.

The kids came to life for us as the shoot progressed, we met a few of them in Goa. Roshan (Gautam), who has been tirelessly following his dreams, dropping out of engineering and then a course in Physics, if I remember right. He had moved onto Mumbai, on the way to becoming a successful theater artist. Yes, he had acted in two movies by then, I’d watched both and for the life of me couldn’t remember this guy. Soochimon, you will not be forgotten anytime soon, that’s for sure. Visakh (the delightful Kuppi), the one who actually held the movie from beginning to end – a mechanical engineer who had quit his job in Chennai for the movie – was a theater artist as well. Arun (Varun) my favorite, of course after the niece. His sensitive nature reflects in his eyes, so vulnerable and he doesn’t even attempt to hide it. The boy wears his heart on his sleeves. Destiny, it was for him. He was auditioned three times, apparently. Anarkkali (Darshana) the silent beauty in the movie. Her eyes speak thousand words, in poetry. In her second year of graduation, she is very clear about where her future lies. Thomas (Akshath), the quintessential cute boy next door. Innocence coupled with unstoppable energy, again doing his graduation. Siddi (Dia), the live wire in the movie, as in life. And my niece, Annu (Devika aka Tattoo mol). First one in her generation from our side of the family,  naturally our special one. I knew she wanted to be on stage, but that movies was her dream was news to me. And the director, Ganesh. He has been honing this story and script for more than three years! Along with him a slew of other debutants as well, including the musician Sachin Warrier who has added that fresh bout of liveliness and soothing melodies to the movie.

That we would watch the premiere along with her was a given. That’s when the other side , or should I say the real nature of these kids came to light. As with every generation, the elders tend to feel and say, “this generation, they neither love nor respect their elders.” And as with every generation, the kids prove the naysayers wrong. The collective excitement and anxiety was palpable. They had seen the movie, but the audience was limited to them. How would everyone react, especially their parents? Annu was even more tense, how would her amma react to the ‘scenes?’ She refused to sit next to her mother. The mother was very clear, though. “It’s a movie, isn’t it? You were acting, right?” Wise woman, my sister is.

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All of them, without a single exception had decided to watch the first day first show with their parents. Rooting for each other, hooting and howling as each scene unfolded, it was an experience of lifetime for me. The camaraderie was unbelievable. They had become friends and supporters for life. The seeds do not fall far from the tree you realize. As we met parent after parent, it was not very hard to see where the kids had inherited their values and nature from. Hats off to the parents who dared to dream and believe, along with their children. They are as much, if not more a part of this success as their children are.

As the movie came to an end, all the faces wore huge grins of success and relief. They had arrived, as individuals and as a group. ‘Team Aanadam,’ the brand was made. And it is here to stay. Three weeks hence, the movie is a roaring success. And it has just been released in the rest of India and soon to be in other parts of the world as well. As the team continues their journey, inspiring kids in colleges across Kerala, the collective euphoria is palpable. What this team has done is far more than make a movie. They have set fire to the hopes and imaginations of thousands of kids like them. Our nine old daughter said it best, “Now I really know dreams do come true. You just have to believe. Annu chechi’s did.”

We now talk of these kids as part of our family. It is Lal Jose’s words that come to mind while wishing them well. The team was officially introduced during the 100th day celebrations of ‘Jacobinte Swargaraajyam’ The entire group struggled for words, they were greenhorns, literally. And Lal Jose wished them, “may this stage fright never leave you, even as you become established actors and super stars.” That’s what I would wish for them as well.

Success, happiness, more dreams come true! While at that, may you remain grounded, always connected to your family and friends!

p.s. for those of you who ask how the movie was, who watched it? I had eyes only for my niece 🙂

* Ini Aanandame -only happiness, henceforth 

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Still You?

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“There are no coincidences in life, only connections,” said a friend of mine. The strangest, or should I say the most magical thing is, when you actually look deep, you start finding connections everywhere, in almost everything. A stray thought that flits in and out of your mindsuddenly springs out of a page that you are reading. And your face breaks out into a smile of acknowledgement. You flip through another book, something similar pops out and the smile widens. You start wondering what is it that made you pick up these books at random? It was not pre planned for sure. Is it your sub conscious mind or is it a miraculous force that was working behind the scenes? The second, I always believe it is the second. And some things are better left unexplained, just to be enjoyed in serenity.

Books have always been my lifeline, the one friend who has stood by me through thick and thin. But me? I am a born infidel. Three at a time is the bare minimum. One for each mood, to suit the levels of nonsense that I have to put up with, traversing this never ending and forever surprising journey called life. There is no method as to why certain books are chosen, but I always end up finding some connection or the other. If not in the genre or theme, certainly in some stray thoughts that are thrown in between.

It is only in a rare instance that I admit the reality of growing old. The nagging fears lay suppressed. And the biggest of those fears are being dependent on someone, whether it is emotionally, physically or financially. At the same time, I do acknowledge that this might be inevitable some day. At least the physical part, even the emotional one. And it must be the fear that kept me away from ‘Still Alice’ for so long. An exceptionally brilliant Harvard professor, Alice Howland, is diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimer’s. As she thinks about how this is going to affect her life, her thoughts naturally stray towards what is it that she really wants now.

“Accepting the fact that she did indeed have Alzheimer’s, that she could only bank on two unacceptably effective drugs available to treat it, and that she couldn’t trade any of this in for some other, curable disease, what did she want? Assuming the in vitro procedure worked, she wanted to live to hold Anna’s baby and know it was her grandchild. She wanted to see Lydia act in something she was proud of. She wanted to see Tom fall in love. She wanted one more sabbatical year with John. She wanted to read every book she could before she could no longer read.

She laughed a little, surprised at what she’d just revealed to herself. Nowhere in that list was there anything about linguistics, teaching, or Harvard. She ate her last bite of cone. She wanted more sunny, seventy-degree days and ice-cream cones.”

Strangely familiar, isn’t it? Almost all of us spend most of our time on work, whether at home or elsewhere. It is but natural that majority of our thoughts revolve around it. Nothing wrong there, one need to make a living. But does it turn into our life, making us forget what really matters? Do we need a catastrophe to happen to open our eyes, finally?

That reminded me of Ricardo Semler. A Brazilian ‘Maverick,’ his company, Semco, runs on revolutionary ideas. A place where team members interview potential bosses, where salaries are decided by the employees, where the workers decide their working time and vacations and where the CEO gets no preferential treatment. Sounds totally unbelievable, right? That was my exact thoughts when I read his book around 18 years ago. I used to wonder how sustainable it could be. The thought lingered on and off all these years, until listening to this TED talk a few months ago. The organization is indeed doing well, the man has almost taken his hands off from there and moved on to better pastures like catching them young. But, what struck me was the first few minutes of his talk about his ‘terminal days.’ No, he is not terminally ill, at least not yet. He acknowledges the fact that it is something that could really happen, given his family history of melanoma.

If we were told we had, say six months to,live, what would we do? Think hard. That’s exactly what he did. And he now takes time out, intentionally, to do exactly those things. Why wait to be told you are going to die? Or, worse still, die without being given a chance to know that you were going to?

Most of us are ordinary human beings, fighting our daily challenges, getting immersed in the trials and tribulations before we move on to a better place, hopefully. Not all of us can go climb Mount Everest or do bungee jumping in Amazon. But we can surely take time out to visit that roadside dhaba that you always pass by and wanted to stop at. Or wear that sexy dress that you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Or take out that perfectly made shell shaped soap that has been waiting for years for a special guest.

So go ahead, open that cupboard, reach into its dark recess, caress that bottle of Port Wine that your friend gifted you two years ago, pop that cork open, pour into lovingly into that goblet, tilt it up and inhale the heady aroma, sip and slowly swirl, let it touch and awaken the taste buds all across your now awakening mouth, let the fire seep down the throat and then engulf your heart. Sit back and lay your head on that silken cushion. Close your eyes, let the mellowness take you over. Life is totally worth it. Those special moments. Go make them.

What if you had only a few days left on this earth? What would you do?

Why not do it when you are still you?

 

 

Guardian Angel

alexisFriends are like books. Some are thrust on you, some come recommended, some you get to know through other books, sometimes you like what it looks like and take an effort to get to know what is inside. Then there are those rare ones, that seem to be just waiting for the right moment. It is as if you were destined to meet, you would not have heard about it ever, but the moment you lay your eyes on the jacket and read the blurb, you know your life is never going to be the same again. The connection is instant, and you treasure them for life. They inspire you, guide you and talk to you like no other can, the impact is beyond definition.

Solitude, when thrust upon you, transforms itself into loneliness. It was during one such period seven years ago that I turned to blogging. Confined to bed, lest my impatient daughter came out earlier than expected, the boredom was frustrating. Blogging was very new to me, and I could not understand why people would want to share their lives with total strangers. The first two posts were tentative, more like testing the water in an ice cold river with the tip of my toes. When you talk about something that you really love, words flow easily. If the person on the other side share that love, the connect is instant and the conversation turns into pure joy. The third post was straight from the heart, friends who know me well would know my obsession about ducks. Incidentally, wordpress statistics for the past two years say that most people who wandered in here was lured by ducks and ducklings. Anyway, let me not digress. So, imagine my pleasant surprise when someone whom I never knew before came in and started talking about my soul food and the nostalgia of my favorite haunts.

He went missing in the next couple of posts, but by then I was a die hard fan of his blog. The admiration for his writing turned into awe as I learned more about him as a person and a ‘survivor’ as he has named himself in his blog. Reading about people who have survived major accidents and setbacks in life always leave you with a pang in your heart. But as you  rush along with life’s strong and powerful currents, they are soon forgotten. This was someone different, he had to face a painful setback just when his dreams were coming true; and he refused to leave my mind.  A major factor could have been a selfish pride that someone as awesome as him considered what I wrote worth commenting on.

Books are one of the few obsessions I have sustained since childhood and for me the ultimate anyone can be is being an author and a successful one at that. The fact that my new friend was an accomplished author was an added thrill and there I was, dreaming about getting autographed copies of all his books that I was ready to go out and buy. It lasted till I read the list of his books – all Greek, Latin and even Arabic to the dummy that I was and still is. But then, it is not for nothing that Paulo Coelho said that the whole universe conspires when you really long for something. I jumped and grabbed at his offer to send me an autographed copy of his first non-technical book. The fact that it was about something and someone whom I knew about was the proverbial cherry on the topping.

The friendship grew as we hopped to and from our respective blogs. In true Kerala Nasraani style, we even found common relatives. His posts continued to inspire and awe me, and his sense of humor was inimitable. His comments on my posts were something that I looked forward to eagerly. Even after a couple of long breaks in between, the moment I came back, there he was, with his encouraging words. Common interests were varied, hilarious tales from college, kids and their wise words, reading, life, he even shared recipes, how could I not love him? His writings are thought provoking, the style is simple, down to earth and no nonsense  and he talks straight to your heart. You are never left wondering how he would be in real life, his words tell us what his soul is. My only gripe is, off late his posts are few and far in between.

Who is he and why am I writing about him, you ask? Well, I would let Reader’s Digest talk about the who part. As for the why, what I write about here is normally about people, incidents and places that have touched me to the core , changed me for the better, or has left a deep impression on me. When all these come together, how can I not share the joy with you all?

This is to send out a big thank you to someone who barely knew me and has turned out to be  a part of my life, who takes the time out to encourage and reach out , and most of all, believe in me and what I am capable of.

Dear Alexis, this is also a salute from my heart to the true survivor that you are , to the inspiration that you are to so many and to that never dying spirit that always strive to look at the bright side of things. If I can be even a quarter of the great human being that you are, I could say that I have lived a good life.

 

p.s. you can read more about him here

The Real Secret

It is always a great feeling to visit someone whom you feel close to, someone with whom you can talk to for hours on end. Even silences are so comfortable with a good friend.

I connected with Corinne through an FB group. Common interests, thoughts and views on life quickly forged a friendship and we continued our conversations outside the group. She believes in the wisdom of ordinary things in life and shares her inspirational thoughts at http://everydaygyaan.com/.

Write Tribe, started by Corinne,  is another lovely meeting place for writers and bloggers. Today, she has invited me over to her page to share a secret.

Do hop on there to know more….