The flooded experience

I didn’t write much about my experience during the 2015 floods in Chennai. I just don’t know why. But today’s scenario around compels me to take time out to write down those moments of utter helplessness when I realized that the place I stayed was surrounded by water.

Rewind to Dec 1st, 2015. It had been raining continuously since Nov 29th or 30th. And I was oblivious to the intensity of the rain as I was busy preparing for the birthday celebration of my husband – read this post to know more about that!

On the night of Dec 1st, around 10’o clock, I heard the rain had intensified and was lashing on us without any mercy. What I saw through my balcony took my breath away! The water was gushing into our apartment through the side gates.

And specifically, to reinstate the seriousness of the issue, I want to tell you that I stayed in Velachery – one of the worst affected areas during Chennai floods 2015. Now, this apartment I was staying in was quite old; it was built around 2000. And the new buildings that happened in recent times, increased their ground level as and when the construction happened. The biggest drawback to all these scenarios is that this whole Velachery was developed over dried-up lake beds.

When I saw the water gushing into our apartment, it looked like a river that gushes out through the mountains. When hit with such force, the whole parking lot on the ground floor started filling up.

Everyone started to worry about their car which was parked. But there was little we could do when there was water everywhere around us. The cars were just let to be there, drowning in the slowly rising water levels. I am just saying…

By around 11.30pm, the power went off. Little did we know that we will get back that power only after 15 days. I am just saying…

I wished my husband exactly by midnight, gave him all those 50 wishes and made him read them all in the mobile torch, wasting precious battery charge. Not that it mattered the next day or for the next 15 days, as the service providing towers were also shut down near our area and we didn’t have any phone connectivity too. I am just saying…

Since the motors in our apartment were all submerged in the water, the maintenance people couldn’t run the motors and hence there was no water for us to use. Whatever was available in the over-head tank, we just filled in the buckets we had in our house. And that is all the water I had for use over the next 2 weeks. I am just saying…

Suddenly we realized we were marooned off inside our block, with no water to even flush the toilet. There was water everywhere around us but I wonder if I had that thing in me to and get a pail from that to flush the toilet. Phew! I am just saying…

The next day morning saw us staring at about 5ft of water in our car parking. All the cars were underwater. The apartment tried to rent motors from outside to drain out the water. But it looked like bad karma as the drained out water went one big round and came back into the apartment through the back door. It was terrifying. I am just saying…

The milkman couldn’t get the milk packets to our homes, not only the next day but for the next 15 days. I am just saying…

We were unable to go out and buy vegetables or provisions. I am just saying…

Many people suddenly found themselves without fuel to cook. I am just saying…

Others didn’t have provisions as they didn’t think that rain could bring in such havoc. I am just saying…

We couldn’t talk or communicate with my daughters and other family members that we were doing fine despite being surrounded by water. All they saw was footage on the television and they really panicked. I finally realized that if we climbed up on top of the water tank which was on the 9th floor, then there was a feeble signal. So, we climbed up, borrowed a phone from a neighbor and called my daughters to just let them know we were good. I am just saying…

My husband started helping out in his own way. Read here to know more.

The refrigerator was cleared and kept open to air it. I finally looked at my refrigerator with pride as I scrubbed it to a shine.

I found books that I had always wanted to read and spent my time reading and reflecting as the man was busy helping out people.

I played scrabble with myself.

I had a nice chat with my neighbor which we never got to do before among all the chores of the house.

We did community cooking and shared food as it helped us to avoid wastage.

I couldn’t have a bath or wash clothes or mop the house. But I survived those 2 weeks, with a minimalistic provision, no electricity, no water, no mobile phones, no TV, no candles too. I am just saying…

What I cooked that day had to be finished within the same night. I cannot carry it forward. Suddenly I reflected on those days where our grandparents lived without a refrigerator or electricity. We just took way too many things for granted! I am just saying…

If I was lucky to get a milk packet, I used it all by the night or made curd. Then the curd next day was a delicacy. Never in my life, I had felt that curd was a delicacy. I am just saying…

Those 15 days of nature-imposed quarantine taught me a lot and the foremost things are not to take anything for granted and for every drop of water I get to drink, I am grateful for it.

And Jan 2018, taught me more lessons on how I should be grateful to have this body and the life within and every moment I live should be valued by me.

I am just trying to say, we are not in the worst of the scenarios if we can just stay calm and remain indoors. I think if people could survive 15 days of nature-imposed quarantine and without any pre-stocking of provisions or vegetables, we can do this with essential goods being available to us, even in this time of quarantine.

It is all in the mind. Our human race has got more survival skills. Even with just rice and no vegetables, I was able to cook something delicious every day. We just need to trust in the process and have faith that things will turn out for the better.


Self-introspective mode ON

Pic courtesy: Google

Recently, I had a dream. And immediately I decided that I will not share it here, in my space, for I felt it was too personal to put it out in writing. But today’s introspective mood of mine has won over and here I am writing about my dream and my feelings towards it.

I see myself lying on the floor, with blood flowing through the nose and it clearly looks like I am dying. I see my daughters on either side of me. And all this was happening in a house where I used to stay as a teenager. I could also see the man who was walking towards the house as my husband. Then I could hear what I was talking to my daughters; the silly me was so paranoid that the soul will depart soon and was frantically telling all the passwords in all the apps and websites for my daughters to note it down!

Ok…that was the dream! When I woke up from that dream, I laughed out aloud. And kept smiling and laughing whenever I remembered it. The whole idea of not passing on my passwords gave me the worst nightmare, in my dream; it sounded very silly to the present me.

Now, observing that dream from a more matured point of view, I wonder why didn’t I worry about that favorite sari of mine which I didn’t wear many times! I wonder why didn’t I fret over all those jewelry which I loved to buy but never wore them! I wondered at that unused purse, notebook, pen, saucepan, wine glass, coffee mug – anything that I savored for a better day to come. And I had just kept postponing all those favorite things without enjoying them at the present moment.

I had reserved all the good things for a later date.

I had written love notes for all my favorite people for them to see later.

I always plan on going on a trip that I never seem to get to.

Everything was planned for a later date.

Then the dream happened.

My better self took over. This is the day I had waited for. Today I shall proclaim all the love and fondness for all my favorite people in this world. I will hug them with my love and kindness. I will use that saucepan. I took out my favorite coffee mug.

And suddenly the day I am living mattered.

I got a plant. I smelt the flowers. I stared at clouds. I made coffee. I sang my favorite song. I colored in my mandala book. I learned to forgive all those things which happened in the past.

I suddenly understood what I had to do with my life. It is to live this moment!

Sunday musings

I sat and watched as these saplings were planted in the field. It was a time-consuming process. All the people who came for this work went into the field that was filled with the right amount of water. They stood with their feet apart slightly, bending down and in absolute focus to make sure the saplings are planted are specific intervals. The sun was hitting hard and they were all sweating profusely. But none of them bothered about that. The feet were soaked in the muddy water. That also didn’t bother them.

All their focus was on planting them at the right distance. All their thoughts and prayers were for a good crop out of this planting. All of them worked together for that.

I just walk into the supermarket and pick up a pack of rice, pulses or vegetables without even thinking about the hard work that has gone behind that packet.

And I realized how much I have taken for granted in life!

Proving them right and wrong

I stopped when I read this. How did they write such accurate predictions!! Yes…me a Virgo and if there is anything that I hold above my heart is to prove to people that they are wrong in doubting me – for whatever varied reasons it can be like capabilities or skill-set or reactions to situations or even my love towards them!

This is actually a bait, which I understood recently. The moment people doubt me on any factor I started fretting. The said words and unsaid meanings used to haunt me. And till I master whatever I had been doubted for, I wouldn’t rest.

Through all this, I stressed myself. I hurt inside. While I was sweating profusely over mastering something, the baiters were not even in the vicinity of my life.

The past year has been particularly enlightening on many aspects and the thoughts inside me have gone through the tumbling inside a washing machine kind of process which has led to the realization that those people who showed me that bait, were least interested in whether I did anything about it or not.

Now I wonder why I should even learn or master this damn thing, just because someone questioned me or my capabilities!

In effect, I’ve come to terms with myself. Even when it has to go against the Earth sign’s predictions, I am willing to do it; this is a change in the right direction for me. I learn things which I want to learn not because someone is doubting my smartness or intelligence. My efficiency in dealing with life is not for anyone to assess and grade but it’s totally mine to enjoy and live in peace.

Living in peace – yes, that is what I have claimed back into my life! The strength to stand up for myself and to make myself a priority is such a blessing in disguise for it is easy for me to accept my limitations and others too.

Those questions like – “how can they do this?” “how can they be ignorant?” “how can’t they not understand such simple stuff?” – do not compound me now. It does come to my mind; can’t say no to that. I have learnt the art of looking at those thoughts and let them be or even swipe them off my mind screen. In effect, I have learnt to let them be however they want to be. It is their life and I am no one to question. And I hold my fort strong on “its my life”!

There is a secret to it, if you want to know. Tell them sweetly, politely yet firmly on when you want to say a no. It helps. Put in a smile. Make them know that this is something you want to stay away from. But that doesn’t lessen the love and respect you have for the other person.

Such is life. You learn and move on…earth-sign predictions can take a hike! 😉

Holding hands

There is this part in the book – Forest of Enchantments, on how Sita felt when Ram did the simple act of holding her hands. She realized a connect with him from previous times, a sense of familiarity! And I just thought it could have been real and not fictitious!

That holding hands is something that I cherish so much with my man too! As of now, I have not sensed any familiarity from previous births, but it is still something that I feel is the best feeling ever!

The first time we held hands, I didn’t want to let go of that feeling or the hands.

When we held hands during our wedding, the priest instructed my husband to hold tight and never leave my hand always. He didn’t need any more encouragement; he just held on to my hands so tightly.

I also think of the fond memories of holding hands and walking the sands on the beach; that feeling is just too precious that I will remember it forever!

During the stay in the hospital last year, for the bacterial infection, my husband always wanted to hold my hands. He always called out for me to hold my hands. And I sat there, next to him, day and night, holding his hands. For most of the time he was not so conscious (due to heavy medications) to remember what happened and when it happened but he remembers very clearly the fact that I was holding his hands and that made him feel better.  Maybe there transpired a positive energy of my prayers from my hand to his! And when he remembered to tell this, much later after coming home, it lifted me up so much at the power of holding hands and how much energy can transpire in that touch!

Sigh…I feel so mushy today…this should have been my valentine’s day post 😉

The secret to healing

There is this unforgettable day when all of us, as a family, sat huddled outside the ICU, each one lost in their own thought process as to how to send healing energy to the man lying inside.

Just before that we had a huge task to do – that is to inform the patient, my husband, of the probability of amputation. When we heard of it first from the doctor we were shattered. We didn’t want to believe it to be true. The doctor said it is only a probability which they will decide on the day of the surgery after opening up the wound and checking the level of infection. So, till that day of surgery we were holding onto our own way of saying “this can’t be true” and “let the leg stay”.

And finally we found the courage to go and talk to my husband and informed him of the doctor’s decision.

I could see my hands trembling as I signed the document accepting to the amputation, in case it was required.

Then that surge of faith conquered me with one thought – so what if the leg is gone, his life will be saved and after the surgery we can take him home healthy. I kept on this thought so strongly that all I wanted was to take my man home, healthy.

The surgery went on successfully, as the leg was saved and we took a deep breath of thanking God and the doctor too. When we expect the worst outcome from a situation, even a small progress appears as a huge bonus to our life! We were so happy that the leg was saved that we celebrated with coffee and biscuits in the ICU waiting hall. That celebration touched a cord inside…I looked up to say a prayer of gratitude – a moment in life which I cannot forget!

Later on, I came to know that when the doctor was talking to my husband before the surgery, my husband had asked the doctor how much of the leg will he lose! The doctor was shocked and quietly went on with the surgery.

This is not to gloat over what my husband said to the doctor but the attitude a patient need to have during the course of treatment. All through the time of hospitilization, he never ever felt bad or cried hoarse asking “Why me?” He took the whole thing in stride and trusted the doctors for the treatment they were giving him.

The courage he showed even when told about his probable amputation is the single most reason he sailed through it without any hitch.

The strong will inside him helped him to heal fast.

When the doctor said he will take 6 months to walk, he proved him wrong by walking without the help of the walker in one month.

Driving the car was slated as a 2 year project while he overcame the whole car driving within another month.

I am still in awe over the courage and will power exhibited by my husband throughout the period of hospitilzation which helped him to bounce back to healthy routine very quickly.

So, face your fears and you will be healed!

Shift the focus

Sitting on the narrow bed given to caretakers in the hospital, I had spent many hours playing nonsensical games on the phone. Generally I am not a person to play video games, especially on the phone, where we need to catch the falling block or go behind a running ball or snake – nah…not my type.

But through the time of husband’s hospitalization, all I did was play such games, consistently every day and night.

I have the Kindle app in my phone to read books while travelling. I had a lot of books by my favorite authors and other interesting book titles in my phone, which I had been wanting to read for a long time.

But all I could read was some silly chick flick books, all through the time when I sat at the care-taker’s bed.

There were days when he needed constant medical attention through the night. And as the doctors helped him through the night, to ease out the pain, I was sitting outside the room in the nurse’s station, chatting with them all and even laughing a few times too.

I first thought that I was behaving strangely – playing games, reading silly books and chatting through the night with nurses when he was in pain.

Now I understand my strange behavior. When I was so stressed during that difficult times in the hospital, I had tried to shift my focus to other things which didn’t demand a lot from me.

That shifting the focus had helped me to relax a bit even under stressful conditions and I was able to jump into the realm of the surgeries and medicines whenever the situation demanded it.

So many things happened in those one and half months of hospitalization and another 3 months of rehabilitation. As I keep writing my thoughts and feelings, I am able to decipher many of my strange behavior and also my response to many situations.

Actually, we do such things like shifting the focus to something less demanding always, at home. When I am too worked up over something, I go and cook or dry clothes or fold clothes – trying to bring in some sort of order to my thinking which will enable me to work out the situation which stressed me.

Now a days, I do it consciously – shift the focus!

I have moved…

From my old home to a new one…

From a traumatic 2018 to the one that will be filled with miracles…

To heal and to help heal…

From a self-critical to a self-loving woman…

From being lazy to practising yoga with self-motivation…

From an inactive blogger to someone who is planning to ramble through this whole month…

And in all these process, enjoy life as it unfolds itself to reveal newer territories!

Faith stories from the heart – 1

Faith comes to us in various ways but there is always a beautiful soul in the story of faith.

Do you know the Skanda Shashti Kavacham? Its a song or a sloka comprised of 244 lines, written by Devaraya Swamigal in praise of Lord Muruga, where he asks the Lord to protect him and grace him. Whenever Skanda Shashti Kavacham is mentioned, it is Sulamangalam Sisters who come to my mind. Their rendition of this slokam (the tune, music and the pauses inclusive) is what I learned from and it’s what I will remember forever. Kavacham means armor and the words in the sloka are the perfect armor to us.

I learned this Skanda Shashti Kavacham when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My appa’s cousin sister, Viji athai was the beautiful soul that brought this Skanda Shashti Kavacham to my life. She taught me and my sister in the same tune as what the Sulamangalam sisters have sung. When I think of Viji athai, all that comes to my mind is her beautiful eyes full of life, her long hair plaited and the simple down to earth attitude of hers. She is one of the persons I adore with all my heart.

Is there a reason for learning this slokam? Maybe there was which I understood much later in life.

As I hit puberty, along came the cramps which were very painful. Generally in a Tambram household, the rules were very strict and menstruating women were not allowed to go inside the house and touch anyone. They were not allowed to pray, cook or do anything inside the house.

But my paati was an angel. Even though we were not allowed to go inside the house or touch anyone,  I was so happy when my patti said that I can recite the Skanda Shashti Kavacham. To allow me to pray during the cycle days was indeed a great thing that my paati did. My thatha encouraged my paati to give me hot food, which again was not the norm. My paati was more broad-minded than others in many ways. Even though she couldn’t overcome her self-laid rules on touching us during those menstrual days, she did give us a lot of levy on other things. We, I and my sister, were attended to with much respect and taken care of nicely.

Reciting the Skanda Shashti Kavacham was a boon for me, as I saw myself being relieved of my pain. Whether it was my belief in the sloka or in Lord Muruga or the mere fact that I got used to the pain and in due course overcame it – whatever, I loved the recital of that slokam. It pacified my mind and maybe numbed me to the pain.

Even today, as an adult, I automatically start reciting the Skanda Shashti Kavacham the moment I feel there is a need to heal the body. Its a kind of faith in those 244 lines, which the brain accepts as medicine to heal. Its the faith of a small girl who healed herself to her greatest astonishment. And it is a faith with which I live.

Remembering Appa…esp today!

With so many ads and reminders in the TV and social media, one just cannot skip the fact that today is the special day for fathers. When one day is never enough for celebrating the father-daughter relationship, this day can be the affirmation day of such a beautiful love.

I’ve written so much about my Appa before, here in this space.

There are many things I adored in my father and I greatly respected him for that. One such thing is the simple fact of giving us the space to find our foothold.

This man, my Appa, needs to be applauded for the simplest fact that he just let me make my decisions on what to study, where to study, where to take up a job and he quietly supported me in my endeavor to make a difference in the world.

Out of all the support he gave me, I consider this incident to be the best in his life as a father, for it meant a great deal to me, then and now.

I was working with a company’s research department, after my college. Even though my dream then was to work with Microsoft, this was the most coveted job among my classmates. And I was the lucky one to get through the rigorous training, which made me the happiest one ever. Appa was elated to know about the job and he was so proud of me, which meant the world to me.

Over a time frame of two to three years, I felt a natural shift inside me to search for something else as I felt that that the job I was doing, was not my calling. I started feeling a natural boredom in the place of passionate research. I just wanted this whole thing to sort out by itself. It just took me some more time to realize that whatever change that needs to happen in my life, will happen only because of my decision to change.

And one fine day, as I was sitting and pondering in my chair, I just wrote a resignation letter and submitted and quit the job. Phew…I felt relief. I didn’t know my next course of action. But I was open for new things to happen as I was free of those things which held me back.

I came home by afternoon. Appa, thatha and patti were having lunch. Appa asked me “Ennachu?” (What happened?) I told him that I just quit my job as I didn’t feel like continuing in that job and that I wanted to do something else. It sounded strange to my ears as I was prepared to let go of that engineering studies and its related job profile, while I was the one to go for it after school.

He just smiled and said “Just sit and eat” – just pure acceptance of me, my decision and whatever I wanted to do later. My God! What a relief it was for me for such blinded acceptance from my Appa. It just made me to work harder and to get back in a good job about which my Appa will be proud again. Even though I did things for myself, I secretly aimed at making my Appa proud.

Today, I sit back and reflect all these, as my daughter has quit her job and come home to take a break and there is this smile of acceptance and support from her father and I feel grateful for such fathers in this world.

For without such understanding fathers, we daughters are never complete.