On Being Whole Again

“In every atom, there is a reflection of the whole.”
― Jay Woodman

Do we need to have seen darkness….to appreciate light?
Do we need to have seen light….to understand darkness?

How does it go?

Do we need to have been broken…. to appreciate being whole?
Do we need to have been whole …to feel the pain of being broken?

Feeling broken.
Feeling whole.
Feeling together.

Have you been there?
Have you felt broken?
Have you felt whole?
Have you felt together?

What is whole?
What does that mean?
Who can we define being whole?
Should we define being “not whole” before beginning to define whole?

Is being whole a feeling?
Is it a state of being?
Is it a state of knowing?

Do we need our friends to feel whole?
Do we need our family to feel whole?
Do we need food to feel whole?

What is it?

What if we are already whole…just as we are?
Then, why do we need other things or other people to feel whole?

Do we need to feel whole to be happy?
If so, why?

I don’t think you or I can define, with words, the true meaning of feeling whole.
I think one has to feel it.

One has to be broken.
Only then, one can understand and appreciate the true beauty of feeling whole again.

I am feeling whole….again.
Are you?

“Sometimes I wonder if we ever truly let anyone completely in. The desire for another human being to know you, all of you, all the pieces, even the ones you’re ashamed of — is huge. But too often, we sit down and sort through the pieces only picking out the pretty ones, leaving the ugly ones behind, not realizing that choosing not to share with someone else is like committing a crime against our very soul”
― Rachel Van Dyken, Toxic

“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also If I am to be whole”
― C.G. Jung

“I am a broken person. And I know exactly where my cracks are and how deep they run. I don’t pretend to not be a broken person and therein lies the big difference. Because the truth is, we are all broken in places, but it is those who know exactly where and how they are broken, who also know exactly where and how they are whole! And we may not be whole in all places and in all ways, but we take whatever wholeness that we do have, and we make good of it. And we try hard to work on the broken parts, and we ask for help when we need it.”
― C. JoyBell C.

“Through the absence of what we think we have to have we can discover our wholeness”
― Renae A.Sauter

Richness isn’t Measured by Wealth

Richness isn’t measured by wealth.

Because, the most precious thing in the world is to have at least one friend that will make you “anda gunda” (lots) of mushroom soup with loads of ginger, garlic, black pepper and red chili because:
a) they simply can’t stand what a wimp you are and
b) they are sick and tired of you moping around about how scratchy your throat has been.

That is the most precious thing.

Counting by that standards, I beat Buffet and Gates hands down.

#countyourblessing #gratitude

Post Thanksgiving Thanks

Thanksgiving break week started off very rough.

I thank you all for sending your positives vibes to Ari (who was sick and in the ER last week) and the family.I do believe those positive vibes work. Because, thanks to all the positive vibes, our week did progress well and we spent the last few days surrounded by the warmth and cheer of friends and family.

Despite my ever present restraint in indulging with food, I ate more than I should have….but, that is only because the food was served with so much heartfelt love and so much care. My SIL Rema’s mango-fruit based dessert, my new friend Uma’s elaborate spread of vegetable curries, and aloo paratha, my girlfriend Sukanya’s bhel and vadai (which reminded my so much of Mommy’s vadai) and filter coffee, my enthu friend CK’s pulav, my buddy Vijaya’s sweet potato casserole (which is queen-of-all-cooks Jyotsna’s and her daughter Ashlesha tried and tested recipe; thanks to Kaushik for baking the casserole in Rohit’s oven), my neighbor Rohit’s besan laddoos and more.

Now, as if all that was not a big enough list to be grateful for…just as I was getting ready to call his weekend a wrap, our next door neighbor’s 10 year old nephew (visiting from New Jersey) who became buddies with the boys….brought over some fresh guacamole that he had made. (side note: He had left the huge avacado seed in the guacamole and when I asked him why….he quipped that it was to prevent the guacamole from browning too quickly. I am just so impressed with kids…they know so much….stuff that I don’t know!)

If you think I ate so much that my stomach hurt…that is quite not right. Because, my stomach hurt more from the non-stop laughter.

I am so grateful for this break and all the folks who made it the most memorable Thanksgiving ever (I know….I know…I say that ever year. But, truly, it was memorable).

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving too.

Now, the race to the end of 2017. Just few more weeks….and than we can all take a break during the holidays. Hang in there.

Somebody’s Fruit

When I was in middle school, I had the most fun and passionate English Teachers who taught poetry and prose. One of those poems was this: Somebody’s Mother

Speaking of mothers, Mommy told me a lot of stories of her childhood. One of them was about the fruit trees in her father’s (Grandpa TVS) fields. She described the low hanging mangoes and how she would lie down under the shaded trees and eat them. She also described the giant grapefruits that were too sour for her to eat.

Because of her stories, although I grew up in the outskirts of the city (concrete jungle) with dwindling vegetation, I grew up with growing love for fields, villages, shaded and fruit bearing trees. I found the whole concept of lying beneath a low hanging mangoe tree very exotic.

As I grew up, over the last two decades, wherever I went, I left a trail of plants and trees. That is not to say I have a green thumb. Far from it. I am a plant killer. But, I kept trying my best. I learnt from the best and kept getting better. Given that frugual is part of my DNA, I never (over-)spent on plants. I borrowed a cutting or got a sapling from fellow plant lovers and planted fruit trees and roses. Plant lovers were more than happy to drop by and show me the ropes and in many cases, handle my SOS “Hey…..run over….plant is drying out, yellowing out, tilting over” calls. One of those friends was an elderly gentlemen named Al who helped me plant peaches, pears etc during my Fremont (CA) days. Al even helped Kumar put in a sprinler system and drip irrigation, so I didn’t have to water the plants every day during summer. During my CA days, when the fruit harvest came in during Spring and Summer, I shared the labor of love with friends and colleagues.

But, as my life course changed, I moved around, and many a times, I didn’t get to enjoy my labor of love. I didn’t get to see the plants that I set in the ground mature…and bear fruit.

Such is life…is it not?

That brings me to today’s story.

For the last few weeks, I have been plucking persimmons and distributing them. I didn’t plant the persimmon trees in the backyard. My friend Thane tells me that persimmon trees are like the Indian version of tulasi (holy basil)…considered very auspicious for a family. The Chinese family who lived in our place must have planted them in the ground with much love and nurtured them. But, before they could enjoy the labor of their love, they moved away.

Leaving me to pluck these persimmons and distribute them with much love.

These persimmons. Somebody’s fruit.

End Note:

I bet Mommy is proud that she left her legacy of love for plants with me.

Leave a legacy. Plant something.

The Story of the Lucky Bamboo and the Container that Holds it

When you leave, you leave so much behind.

I was fortunate enough to met him in person only a couple of times.
I insisted he at least briefly stop by one the parties we hosted during the holidays.
Despite his busy schedule, he swung by to just say hello to Amma and me.
That is when he brought this lucky bamboo.
He gave it to Amma, said hello to me and rushed off.
He didn’t even stay for dinner.

I was fortunate enough to live beside her as a neighbor for only about a year.
Then, I had to pick up and leave.
She is Gujarati but spoke excellent Tamil.
Ari adored her daughters.
She shared walks with me.
One rainy day, she made the most excellent sago vadais that I ever had and served it with chai.

These two people never met each other.

When I picked up and left CA, I left behind all the potted plants that people had ever given me during my 15 year stint in CA.
I left them with a girl Kavita Patel) who has a green thumb and who I knew would give the plants more love and attention then Appa or I ever did.
All the roses that had been brought to me over the years, that had been trimmed by Appa or Kumar, planted carefully, nourished with love and had blossomed in the spring…. I had to leave all those behind in the backyard.
I had to leave them behind because there was no place in the minivan after we had packed 2 kids, 1 dog and some bare essentials to start over our life in Austin.
There was just no space…except for the tiny lucky bamboo he had given me.

The night before I left CA, she had left a bag hanging on my door knob.
The bag had a plastic container filled with aloo masala and poori in an alumininum foil pack.
She texted me later saying that “You have several 1000 miles to drive in couple of days. I don’t want you to worry to stop for food. Enjoy the pooris and aloo masala.”

When I picked up and left CA, I brought a piece of each of them with me.

After we settled in, I re-planted the lucky bamboo he gave me in the plastic container she gave me.
Every time I water the bamboo, I say a prayer for them both and their lovely families.
I also say “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu”.
Translation: “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all”.

The He in the story is my buddy Gopal Kumarappan.
The She in the story is my friend Ami Parikh.