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Festivals in August

This year festivals are flying by like a blink of eye. One day you wait for a week to come by and then it’s already a week over. August is the month of festivals in India. Below are festivals of 2020. Though there is not much celebrations outside homes due COVID19 pandemic, within the hope and energy for people is slowly starting to rise.

1 August Bakri ID

3 August Rakshabandhan

Festival of Bond between Brother and Sisters. Analogous to modern day friendship bands. A Rakhi (band) is tied by sister on the right hand wrist of Brother, symbolising promise, power and bond. Sweets are exchanged. Brother gifts sister usually some clothing, ornaments, money or anything she may like. Even after marriage, women visit her maternal home and celebrate this festival.

11-12 August Janmashtami

Festival of fun, energy and joy. It is the festival celebrated in the memory of Shree Krishna birthday. It is believed on this day at midnight Krishna is born. People fast whole night with hymns and kirtans to welcome Krishna. During the next day, many places celebrate Duleti where they mimic the Krishna playing with his friends and breaking butter filled pots by creating a human pyramid.

15 August Independence Day

India got independent on 15 August 1947. This year the parade and all the celebration will be minimal. No schools or colleges are open yet so no celebrations at those locations. However FLAG hosting and ceremony will be done.

16 August Pateti – Parsi New Year

22 August Ganesh Chaturthi

29 August Muharram

31 August Onam

Be considerate during this tough times

Continuous lockdown or lockdown like situation has impacted a lot of us in ways we have never been trained for. We do not have the slightest of experience where in everyone we know is going through it. The scale at which the experience of a virus going around in life as well the sheer response of stopping everything has toppled the fundamental fabric of our society. The response has been demanding and it has taken a long term impact on every common person out there.

Usually the people who are in any particular situation be it natural disasters, wars or any kind of unrest, it is limited to a particular state, country or the continent. But when something becomes a norm for everyone due to things like global crisis or pandemics, things are often unprecedented for those who are experiencing for the first time.

In any war, there are calms between storms. There will be days when we lose faith. Days when our allies turn against us…but the day will never come that we forsake this planet and it’s people.

Optimus Prime

So when you meet people complaining about their health or their surrounding be considerate to them. It is not a usual time.

When you meet people complaining about their work or imbalance in life, be considerate to them. Wait for things to ease down.

When you find people worried about future, try to talk about something that makes people feel better and avoid thinking too much about the future. The need to the time is to be moving towards simpler life, at least for the time being.

The constant demand of trying to do something or excel might toss off few individuals or group, be considerate to them.

Because all the things that we did to make us happy, free, relaxing and feel pleasant have been revoked from us. So naturally all the drift of time is pulling us down bit by bit until everyone is experiencing the curve in the fabric of our social life. It may be demanding. It may feel that things are slipping by. But some of us must start to hold on to something strong. Since we cannot go out and do things we used to, we may have to adapt to new things or very old things that we are not doing anymore.

Try to take a look at old photographs of your families, events or marriages.

Eat whatever is available in your vicinity. Try to balance out simple food with basic ingredients. Try some new recipe. Eat together and enjoy sharing time.

Watch your favorite shows or movies together with family. Revive all the good times that you had.

Arrange to play games that can be managed at home. If you would like or relax.

If someone is not well, take care of them. Provide healthy food and drink ample water.

If you have to meet someone who stays far off, try to arrange a video call and talk peacefully. Things may seem a bit odd but then the way to go forward is so.

Write if you may. Paint if you like. Play if you wish. Cook if that connects you. Feel good about yourself with whatever that makes you feel better. Do not send out too much negative vibes and for that matter even good vibes. Try to keep life simple and wait for the things to settle down

If you know someone who needs help, then try to get them help in whichever way you can. Make a call if that’s what it takes. Speak nicely to people whom you know and share their emotions.

Try to talk about staying at home as much as possible because the people we know or the people in our life are not aware of the way to go forward. If you feel too much stuck, try to do indoor activites. Arrange for yoga or similar activities.

There are days we are weak and we may feel that we need help, but in time we will learn that we need to try things slowly at our end and help will arrive in whichever form it can.

So my dear fellow Earthling, even though the times are tough and the difficulties doesn’t seem to get any less, believe in yourself and navigate through these times. Together we will reach into the world of better times. We will all thrive and smile soon, for we are fighters. Brave men have shown us examples of fighting through similar times and by remembering them, we will advance ahead into building a safe world in ways each one of us contribute and participate.

Stay safe and be happy in whichever little ways you can. I send out my affection and warmth to all of you. Take care.

Life Stories – Playing in the mud in Monsoon, India

Monsoon brings life. Everything in nature blooms. Plants and tree turn greener. Frogs come out. Birds began to build best to breed and care for their young ones. Even insects and worms flourish.

In April 2020
In July 2020

Monsoon brings happiness to India. Crops and vegetables are grown. Water from rain is still the major source of supply for agriculture and drinking. Rivers and dams start to fill. Ponds and lakes rise again. Peacocks dances with might. Life is replenished.

During Monsoon, young kids used to play in mud. They used to build houses and castles with the freshly soften mud. The smell of the Earth would feel them with new energy. As they play in the grass and the mud, lot of animals would come to graze. Buffaloes, Cows and Horses would be left free to have a good meal in by their owners. They would munch fast enough to not even chew anything but gulp as fast as they can. Once they are all done, they would go to a quite place under a tree or a shade and sit quietly while they chew slowly all the food they just ate. Watching such things as a child, you learn how nature reacts and responds to different situations in life.

Kids create new games or follow the old games being played from ages in their villages and town. One such game played in the mud during the monsoon was very unique. A group of kids would come together and decide whose turn it was to play by other toss or by some trick. One such trick was to form a group and bring your hands together. Then shout and flip your hands. You can either keep your palm up and face it down. Whoever turns out odd, gets to be the one to serve the play.

By forming a circle with a iron rod, it was considered as home. Each one would go about throwing the rod about 8 inches long. Since the mud was dampened by then, anyone who throws the rod well, it would stand upright. Failing to throw the rod to stand upright, you will loose your turn. And you will be next person to serve.

As one by one the kids kept on throwing, they would go far off from the home. Once in a while, one of the kid would through the rod like a parabolic very far in hope that it will fall upright. It may fall flat but if it falls upright, then it feels like a triumph to them. It is almost like a victory. Because that will push the game too far.

Whoever faults, then end up serving. Now from the point wherever the fault occured, that is the rod fell flat, back to the point of the circle as home, the first kid had to come back jumping on one leg. That is the game. They had to learn to jump on one leg all the while in the mud, without putting other leg down. So farther it went, the chances were some may slip, some may end up getting tired and they would have to do it altogether again.

It’s a harsh game that way but the kids do not realise it. It’s fun usually. It develops resilience to keep going. Playing in nature is not only just a fun or playing in mud dirty experience, it’s more about learning how to function as a group. How to compete in a healthy fashion and how to take turns. Also you understand how to stand strong. You develop physical fitness and various motor skills. You become prone to weather. And develop an understanding of underlying vibrance of nature.

In a matter of a decade, most of such open lands have been replaced by colonies, multi-storey apartments, factories and shops. Such open lands used to be as wide as a km or more. Now only a sparsh area of some hundred ft is left for many kids to play. Most kids end up playing games on electronic devices, watching TV and movies, eating junk food and never actually stepping out in the open. They never see frogs, let alone seeing a tadpole. Chewing of food by animals is a distant concept that they read about in books after being adults. Getting drenched in rain is a trouble because of the clothes and gadgets we carry get damaged and we fall sick. We prefer to go rain-dance in some amusement park.

The gap we have created in our lives is causing lot of disturbance in how we perceive and respond to it. By succumbing to four walls and being connected via electronic gadgets, we are experiencing a change in our brain responds to our surroundings. The constant need to be online, read what’s happening around the world, knowing what has gone around the world and being able to see at our finger tips is causing constant drain. It is creating toxic experience. And the same people who built such network and now selling products for mindfulness, meditation, apps, sessions, lifestyle change and coaching.

By pulling us out of our free flowing life and putting us in a cage filled nowhere to go and constantly serving visual attractions, we are collectively creating a world that is causing more damage than the good.

Musings : You can choose to be like them or not to be like them

You are surrounded by people of various types in their emotional, mental and ethical mindsets. You are exposed to such varied ideologies, experiences and encounters everyday in your life. You can either become like them or choose to be different.

Early on some of the strongest influencers in your life are your parents and family. You almost become like a replica of them in your behaviour and mannerism. You have your personal identity as you become a combination of various influences and some influence more than the others.

Negativity has some kind of charm that it induces smoothly than anything else.

But as you grow in your life and become adept with language, reading, interactions, communication and commute, you develop certain sense of reasoning and thinking. During this time you are faced with a contradiction of thoughts based on what you face in your everyday life. You go into a state of dilemma with very little things and sometimes very important stuff. Let’s see some encounters that happen frequently and various responses to them based on someones attitude towards it.

Use of foul language. Many families avoid use of foul language in normal circumstances but in grim situations they loose their control and calm. They end up using bad language with abusive words and bad phrases. Often cursing each other in act and notion. Also if such situations are avoided or absent completely, the next challenge that comes up is when a kid is exposed to neighborhood and schools. By coming in face with the people in the surroundings and the kids in the vicinity often some kids mimic them and get influenced strongly. It is often seen that a kid comes home by learning some new word often very foul and demeaning. Negativity has some kind of charm that it induces smoothly than anything else.

You can either be like them or be like yourself.

A choice to make. As the kid is put into certain condition and goes through various moral stories and lessons in life, books and bed stories, he/she is confronted by life with a dilemma of expression. By constant exposure to a certain lifestyle, some may not even realise what is the difference compared to other forms of life. But someday as the kid grows, there comes a point to feel, think and contemplate. Based on previous encounters, personal learnings and exposures there comes a time to formulate a consistent belief system about self and how one would behave in life and circumstances. The kid can make a choice to either incorporate foul language in his everyday use or based on certain groups or try not to use it as much as it is not needed or completely oppose the use of it.

There are many situations in life that are similar to the above mentioned one. We as humans are faced with social, emotional, economical, ethical and moral situations in life. Our default opinion can lean towards what everyone is doing around us or we can contemplate and arrive at a conclusion based on our own thoughts and idealogies which may be similar to the existing situation or completely opposite of it. This can happen in following many traditions and rituals at home, neighborhood, events, occasions and festivals. This can happen at work while working with a group of people on some project. This can happen in neighborhood when deciding certain norms for the colony or when coming together for certain cause, occasion or event. This can happen during travel around the country and world. This can happen when you visit someone’s house. You can either be like them or be like yourself.

Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.

Rabindranath Tagore

The nexus of superstitions. In every culture there are some stories, rituals, situations and encounters which are with no logical explanation. There might have been some in the past but in the present no one seems to be having any idea about why something is done in a particular fashion and what for exactly. There may be a reasoning about the benefits it brings but there certainly isn’t any relevance on how it will add up. But people face situations, they face difficulties, the go through tough circumstances in life and they see no way out only to be trying whatever options they have. Superstitions are part of our life in one way or the other. Sometimes very grim sometimes very subtle. There are self developed theories by individuals, families, localities, villages and communities. Those which do no harm to anyone are not of a concern as much as those who harm someone and most often a large group of people. The harm is subtle it is not involving any kind of direct pain, but it is a slow poison that becomes a part of their life without them realising the ill-effects of it. When presented with certain superstition, it often comes as a dilemma to either follow it, reason it or oppose it. In such situations you can often choose to be like them or not to be like them.

Everyday is an encounter in the beginning. Other situations like cultural influences, rituals, traditions, economical moves, fashion and lifestyle, choices about education, stay, investment, food choices and many other things are where you can make a choice. You may not be in absolute power to often influence others or bring about a change but you certainly can form your own opinion and focus on transforming your own life.


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Culture is not superstitious

Being cultural is not being superstitious. There might be a lot of things that are superstitious about your culture and the place you come from. You can try to identify those and stop following them. There might be somethings you don’t understand, you may continue to follow them or hold your belief about it, but you shouldn’t shame it. You shouldn’t be shameful about following cultural traditions. Culture is what makes us and not everything is superstitious about culture. If you cannot continue the traditions your ancestors started in your delusion for superstitions, you are absolutely making sure that the knowledge and lessons learnt will be burnt with you and it will never pass on.

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Ugadi Festival – Telugu New Year

You are making a big mistake of losing the resources. We have already come far away from where we have started and they have been continuing so many traditions and events without clear knowledge. They made a mistake of not carrying the complete knowledge as to why it is being done and how it helps us. They were ignorant or may be incapable of being so wise enough to understand that. They just did what came to them as natural. But you are a learned man. You know a thing or two about the world. If you are making a personal decision of not doing something merely on the basis of your thoughts that everything in culture is suspicious and superstitions, then you are as much responsible for the loss as the people who continue repeating the superstitions.

There is a thin line of difference in being superstitious and in being cultural. Understand your culture and treasure it. Don’t get carried away in the desire to be modern and losing your culture. We don’t have to stop following the rich festivals in the advent from demand of work, life and technology. We can be the best of both worlds. We can be modern yet continue to preserve that culture.


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Bird Watching in Surat – Pair of Common Myna, Spotted dove, Water Hen getting ready to breed and nesting.

10 May 2020 Surat

Common Myna building the nest. A pair of common myna who are permanent residents in my backyard are getting ready to build a nest. They have been picking carefully things like sticks, soft mushy rug and similar items for the last 3 hours. They are working tirelessly in collecting things for their nest. They seem to be very picky in the things they like to use for building. Before deciding to pick something, they go around in the ground, bushes and trees for quite some time until they are happy with their collection. I prefer to not barge into their territories and as lockdown is in place there is no way I can go around the campus compound to take a visit near them. They have beautiful voice, almost matching the captivating voice of cuckoo but not quite there.

A pair of spotted dove are enjoying their courtship. I can see there is a reason why dove and love are closely related in word and in expressions. This pair has been enjoying going around in the trees after the Sun has gone behind the building. As the coolness sets in they seem to be enjoying the evening in each other’s company. One goes above the tree the other follows. After a while one goes rushing towards the end of the backyard while the other follows. It’s like they are made for each other. Certainly looking at them you can compose a beautiful poem.

For in each other’s love, we forget the world and become each other’s world.

Dove in Love !

Water hen gets ready pair for monsoon. A pair of Water Hen is getting reading to stay here for another monsoon season. Last year they were seen during the entire monsoon, every morning going on their ritual of taking a swim in the waterhole, which is like a little pond along with other birds like little egret, pond heron, cormorant and great ibis. Lapwing was not happy enough with of them around, while all the other birds would enjoy fishing, eating, swimming and bathing in the water together with no fights.

Purple Sunbird that looks like a hummingbird. It is feeding constantly and on the move every second, you close your eyes and you will miss it. Following the birds needs a lot of patience but you get the returns in equal. I am not quite sure if I have seen any other bird with so much grit in following every flower in the garden to drink the nectar. There may be many birds which are determined, focused and dedicated in their routine for life, but I haven’t seen something so closely resembling the power of grit like the sunbird. It hopes on to every little flower on the tree and checks. Even if the wind is blowing hard and the branches are about to fall of, it holds onto it like it’s life depends on it and probably it does.

Being so little needs a lot of courage. Since purple sunbird is almost of the size of your thumb, a little smaller than sparrow, it needs a lot of energy to keep itself alive. It is super swift and illuminates like a iridescence in the sunlight especially during early morning hours.

The sparrows are multiplying like humans. I often wondered where the sparrows are, after real estate boom and mobile towers in urban cities. But lately I have been seeing a lot of sparrows in my backyard. Certainly there is an added advantage for the birds since I live on the outskirts of the city and the place is surrounded by fields, greenery and trees, which is like the best place for the birds to thrive. Sparrows like place with some dust and mud. They like to play in the dry land. They enjoy it by making small holes and dancing in it like swimming in water. They eat insects and small worms. Last year I could see around 50 of them and now they have grown over 500 for sure in the area of some 100m and some 50 trees. Their constant chirp is a remainder of nature’s sound and they are the morning alarm clock.

Apart from the disturbing pigeons of the urban world, I can see many crows, bats, squirrels and hear the sound of a cuckoo which is difficult to spot. I did see the kingfisher flying by during the noon once but it didn’t stick around. It’s about to get dark now so as all birds to back into their homes, I go into mine as well. It’s time to go watch the stars in the sky.


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