Seemolanghan – Going the Extra Mile

Dasara is on the 10 th day of Navratri. It is to mark the victory of Goddess Durga over Demon Mahishasura. In Maharashtra, we do Seemolanghan on this day. In olden times, we used to follow the ritual of crossing the territory of the village or town in the north-east direction. Being in the vast city like Chennai I can only imagine crossing the city and coming back in the evening on time.

Seemolanghan is a sandhi ( combination) of Marathi word Seema meaning Limit and Ulanghan meaning crossing.

In modern times, we should actually work towards crossing our limits not physically but mentally in terms of efforts, in terms of patience, in terms of restraint.

Pushing the limits – Knowing who you are

As we meet so many people across the world throughout our lives, we find different behaviors. No two people are same. But as a human being there is something familiar in all of them. They are all capable of going an extra mile, crossing the boundaries.

Be it acid attack survivors, cancer survivors, or the girl who has been termed as the world’s most ugly girl in the world. Be it the Army men or the Mumbai Dabbawalas who are on time every time. Be it Paralympians or be it any Successful Sports Person. Pushing the limits is something common in all of them.

They have successfully crossed the limits, and have made their mark ahead of that limit. Here, there is a magic of human effort and spirit.

The question remains, whether these people already knew to push the limits? How do they know what they should do? But there are so many constraints to achieve something extraordinary?

Nothing extraordinary can be achieved without crossing the boundaries. Comfort zone is the killer of success. You might be successful at the current place where you are but why not push a little more and see what happens. Why not take risks and give it a 110% of your effort.

The best thing about possibilities is that they are endless.

While you enter the risk zone, you would find it extremely tough to even survive, but there is where you will understand who you are.

Understanding your limits is the first step towards crossing it, so this Seemolanghan let us first identify what our limits are.

How far we can actually go. And then there would be a chance that you can successfully perform Seemolanghan.

This Vijayadashami, may you find yourself and your inner peace. And instead of traveling across the city, hope you go deep inside yourself and perform Seemolanghan.

 

Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind – By Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind – By Yuval Noah Harari

I have heard about Sapiens – A brief history of humankind book from one of the 100 relatives groups in WhatsApp. One of the topics was the evolution of Indian Hinduism.  I was like with handcuffs at the corner yearning to par with the relatives on this difficult subject. The discussion became very interesting with a couple of critical points. No sooner, I spotted a colleague with the same book and learned the good reviews. I decided to wait no more.

Everyone has learned different myths about the evolution of the humankind. This book had a very strong start that makes you grasp faster with verve. It is possible that you could read the 400 pages in one full sweep.  

It is unbelievable to read how the agricultural revolution is considered as history’s biggest fraud.

Agriculture investment is supposed to be the best weapon against hunger and poverty for billions. The author had the strong nerve to explain how small wild grass of wheat manipulated Homo Sapiens to its advantages and how agricultural revolution played a divide and rule for ten thousand years.

This line has stuck in my mind –

“Follow your heart is a double agent that usually takes its instructions from the dominant myths of the day”.

It looks similar to the old Hindu saying how we live in the dreams of Lord Vishnu. Everything happening here is all in the dream of the Lord Almighty.  The book explains how much natural instinct gut we have lost in the last thousand years unlike the animals trusting their natural instinct gut.

The author has surprised the readers with other startling insight that cooperation is based on shared fictions.

That is not yet worst and bewitching topic of the cognitive revolution. The author has come up with a theory about how gossip played an important role in the development as the dominant species on earth.

Gossip theory should be one of the oldest theories evolving the language and staying alive.

The author must have smitten the readers to enjoy the Gossip theory. It looks like a joke but I must say I have started to believe how gossip helps us to stay alive.

I would not recommend the book to strong religious believers. The book is very provoking to change the mindset of science and religion ideologies. The book is for those who are looking for answers.

If you already know the answer from your viewpoint or from the ancestors, then there is no point to waste your time to read this book.

This review is written by Arun Ramakrishnan who is an avid reader. Arun is in IT profession and is a rationalist by nature. He has a very different insight about the worldly world. Occupied by his two daughters ( Pet and a Human) Arun loves to read and write reviews. He also writes blogs on Project Management, Quality Assurance and fundamental tenets of Agile. Here is the link.

https://blogs.perficient.com/author/aramakrishnan/

P.S. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter. 

Kumudavalli

Kumudavalli

Dressed in a simple cotton saree with a huge bindi on her forehead carrying a round cane basket of flowers going for a door delivery of flower garlands Kumudavalli is all there to enchant you.

She is soft spoken but there is a kind of strength in her walk. As she crosses signals and busy roads, she is sure that her basket of flowers will be empty by the end of the day. Sometimes you would also see her chewing her favorite beeda but that too not very often. Every evening 6.30 to 7.00 she would start from her home walk all the way to Mylapore to deliver flowers.

Flowers are her life. They have helped her make a livelihood. Her son is now working in a big company and daughter duly married with kids. She is happy but says that she has to come and sell the flowers to keep herself busy.

You can get all types of flowers from her. But she is very fond of Tulasi. Whenever I ask her why she gets me so much Tulasi, she says “Put it near the feet of Lord Vishnu, he loves Tulasi.”

Kumudavalli has no marketing, no social media. All she has is word of mouth and an amazing customer service. When she first met me, we were staying at the rented house. One evening she came and told me that the house owner ( who were not staying there) used to get flowers from her for last 20 years and she would be happy coming to that home again and give me flowers. I was more than happy and said yes to her. One more trait of Kumudavalli’s flower business was that the flower packet was never more than Rs.10. If I ask her more flowers for some occasion, she would ask me money only at the end of the month. Her flowers were always fresh and she would know what goes on what day. For example during Ganesh Chaturthi days she would bring red flowers and suitable flowers to Lord Ganesha.

On Saturdays, which is called as a Lord Vishnu’s day in Tamil Nadu, she would bring suitable flowers to Lord Vishnu and loads of Tulasi.

Along with all the matching flowers she would put a gajra of either mogra, chameli, jai or jui,kunda and the likes. Here there is a tradition of giving flowers to any lady who comes home at any point of time in a day.

It is due to Kumudavalli’s flower packet that I have never missed giving flowers to any Sumangali ( Married Woman) coming home. One gajra will always be there at home no matter what.

She was the one who gave us amazing garlands for my Sister In Law’s engagement. These garlands were specially made with Rajnigandha’s flowers, with roses in between tied tightly with the thread made of banana stem. They are sure as heavy, but create such a beautiful memory of that event through their fragrance.

As the days of Shravan approach I usually tell her to include some bilvam in the flower packet.The bilva patram would be neat ( 3 leaves as a piece without any holes) and she would deliver it without any fuss. The price of the flower pack would be little higher like Rs.12 but her customer service is impeccable.

She knew that there is small kid at our home, as she came everyday, she would tie a gajra for my dear little K even when she had a boy cut. 🙂

I call all lady flower vendors Kumudavalli ( Kumuda – Flower Valli – Creeper). I feel that is the best name for all the ladies who deliver flowers to households. Kumudavalli coming to Shrilekha’s home does not know how to count. She is an old lady but looks stunning with two sided nose pin and a nice cotton saree. She usually tells Shrilekha to count and give how many flowers she has given in that month. 🙂 I always feel that she has a deep belief on the customer and the trade that neither of them would cheat her.

Above all, for all Kumudavallis there is the Lord who knows all the accounting 🙂 HE would never do anything wrong for these ladies who are working hard twinning flowers and threads for HIM.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Movie Review

World War II, the struggle of Jews under the claws of German Army. Everywhere there was bloodshed and the small City of Guernsey was not exception. Here is a movie review of a movie ” The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”

Last week was not as great. I fell down and twisted my ankle, had severe neck and head pain. Already in the pain, I was helpless and rested. One such evening and I came across this wonderful movie of Lily James ( Cinderella fame). The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The name is quite mouthful but the movie was certainly awesome.

Based on the backdrop of World War II, the novel is written by Mary Ann Shaffer‎; ‎Annie Barrows, believe me I am not yet an avid reader so, I did not know this book too.

Surfing on Netflix is not bad as they say, it just gets you movies of different genres at your fingertip and nothing is more addictive than that.

Four neighbours Mrs. Maugery, Isola, Dawsy, Elizabeth and Eben meet over a dinner. But this dinner is special. It is a feast for all these people who have been suffering from acute starvation. In the fear of getting caught ( during world war any type of gathering was prohibited), Elizabeth says that they met for book reading and the name of their book reading club is spontaneously tossed by Elizabeth as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Potato peel pie is in the memory of the pie made of potatoes by Eben. As interesting as it sounds, these people really meet over book reading sojourns, they read and read a lot.

“We read books, talked books, argued over books and became dearer and dearer to one another.”

― Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

In the meanwhile, you have Juliet Ashton, a writer from London, who has a typical life of a writer but she has a quest of something new and better. She receives a letter from Dawsy Adams of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society asking her to send one of the books and stating their condition as well as the story of the society.

This intrigues Juliet to the point that she goes to Guernsey. The movie depicts the inward journey of Juliet as she reaches Guernsey, meets and knows these people.

“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.”

Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

 

The movie was simple yet sent a very powerful message. The depiction of world war II and the struggle of people is portrayed very realistically.  We can only imagine the problems that Jews faced during WWII. I have read “Diary of Anne Frank” and that along with some history lessons are my windows to WWII. I was glad that I could finally see something related to WWII.

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is heartwarming and fresh, at the same time it makes you think about the hardships that people faced during WWII. Juliet and her journey inwards could be felt in due course of the movie and it ended on a positive note. In short, the movie has everything which makes it a good watch.

“All my life I thought that the story was over when the hero and heroine were safely engaged — after all, what’s good enough for Jane Austen ought to be good enough for anyone. But it’s a lie. The story is about to begin, and every day will be a new piece of the plot. ”

Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

These people with the reading society started breathing books. In any of their dialogues you will find Charlotte Bronte’s quote or you find Jane Austen. While reading these books which were the only entertainment that they had and the only way to be positive in their lives, these people would be transcending themselves in the world of no chaos no world war which made it so special.

Three days on and I have not been able to forget the movie and some of the dialogues.

Some things stay with your heart forever. I am sure this movie is one of them….

I should also read the book perhaps.

“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”

Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

 

A Place With A Promise

A Place With A Promise

A place where you get to know what is the real PEACE. A place where you get to see “happy faces”. A place where you see kindness, compassion, discipline and the power of prayers. A place where you see all smiles and no frowns.

A Warm Welcome

The moment I entered the Sriperumbudur Premise of  Society for Educational and Economic development (SEED), I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome of nearly fifty children (Age 5-10 years). And when they saw my 1.25 months old, well, everyone wanted to lift the baby in their own hands.

No wonder many did, with the expertise of a pro! After all the lives they have lived , they have  mastered the art of loving others, taking care of others and living life with no complains.

The teachers cum guardians received us and I felt the warmth of the place at that very moment. The feeling of being one with them started sinking my heart.

 

Knowing Them

A quick introduction of the children and teacher followed. Bharani, Niveda, Pavithra, Mohnesh, and Lakshmi and forty five more children along with the single parent mother and the teacher took us to see their classrooms. Well decorated classrooms loaded with information would make our urban schools go for a run. The children were enthused to show us the classroom,though it was a Sunday.

They quickly made us move to the new attraction in the projector room. “Wa wa Padam Pakulam”! One of them was heard inviting his other buddy.

I loved the way they quickly took their seats around the small round table without being directed and ordered by the teacher.All of them unanimously sang the poems together,and were happy to sing the songs learnt by them.

We were then taken to the prayer room, to their rooms and their locker rooms. One of the boys showed me his bag. A bag where he has kept his belongings. I thought to myself,”

Life is indeed great when you don’t carry the excess baggage of unnecessary things and memories”! Small things made these children happy.

As the food was getting ready, children assembled on the ground for the prayers. A prayer can definitely do wonders when the power fails. The prayer went on and these small children made a beeline with their plates to the dining room. One after the other, they took their places and waited till the madam gave them instructions to eat. Not a single eye was open when they again recited their prayers.

Standing there, I just wished and prayed for the welfare of these gems who were burdened with the sorrows of life.

The Discipline

Indeed life teaches in several ways. After eating their meals, the children showed their plates to the teacher one by one. The teachers have cultivated this habit to ensure that there is no wastage of food.Some older children were seen feeding the younger ones.What maturity I thought to myself. Nursing ability and  affection comes naturally when one faces challenges in life and that too at such a tender age. The children ate the food well and after some time they waved off a bye.That was their sleeping time.

We happily took their leave and while returning home numerous thoughts came to my mind.

Somewhere I also knew that these children were extremely self confident and needed no pity.

The organisation is doing enough for them so that they can live a life with dignity by inculcating right values and morals. SEED is successful in lending them education, vocational training, technical training and the life skills. What they need is your support, your interest and your time.

Our Turn

What you can do for them?

  1. Create an awareness about the organisation.
  2. Motivate and support the children
  3. Sponsor meals/ Sponsor a child or more
  4. Help them in kind( stationery, clothes,bedding, books)
  5. Volunteer with SEED
  6. Or Fund their infrastructure

SEED is a home away from home to the needy children.This Non-Governmental Organisation has been functioning, from the year 1981, when it was established for the welfare of the miniscule percentage of underprivileged children.

1)Children with parents who are serving life term.

2) Children with parents who are suffering from ailments like Cancer, AIDS and leprosy.

3) Children with single mothers.

4) Children who have lost their parents to crime or murder and many more.

The smiling faces were flashing over my mind. I wish to go to this extended family of mine on and off. Visit them at http://seeduniversal.org/ or personally at

SEED

Society for the Educational and Economic Development (Regd.)

(opp.) P.W.D. Inspection Bungalow, Chennai – Bangalore High Road,

Venkatrangam Pillai Chatiram, Sriperumbudur – 602 105

Tamil Nadu State, India.

Phone: 044-27107341

Mobile: 9444902322