Being online yet not out of line

It's a long accepted fact that most of our communication today happens over Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and the likes. The difference between a reply and a response is becoming blurry. Emoticons have replaced lengthy explanations; not to mention made it easier to convey a confused look or ecstasy over something. Whether you're feeling blue or euphoric, whether you want to cringe or ROFL at something, just click the right icon and you are sorted.

But, not all is hunky-dory with the instant messaging world. If we aren't careful, we could fall prey to quick-sand of narcissism and impatience that throngs this world.

Haven't we all experienced the restlessness after we post something on whatsapp or FB? We wait with bated breath for that first 'like' or 'comment'. Much like the girl in this Tata Docomo Ad. The messenger Aps have made it worse by adding features that lets the person posting or sending the message know whether the message has been read by the intended person! So, depending upon which side of the message you are, you are either catching your breath waiting for that someone to respond or fuming that despite the double ticks in blue or 'Seen by', the person has the audacity to not reply!

The itch to respond immediately is quite real too. Over-analyzing thoughts crowd our head and we worry that we'd appear rude if we do not hit the 'like' button or comment on a fellow-comrade's post despite leaving our footprints of online presence elsewhere at that hour!

And, then there are the perils of over-communication (if there is something like that) and misunderstandings. A simple comment is torn to shreds by trying to understand the emotions and intentions behind it. Punctuation, pauses, smileys all play a crucial role here. A colon instead of a semi-colon can cause two friends to war. Could a one-liner reply to a lengthy discussion mean that the other person took offence? Is then an apology due? Oh, the confusions!

Fragile relationships do not stand a chance since you are always comparing how friend A reads and 'likes' every post by acquaintance B but ignores you (her bestie?!). Isn't it better to pick that phone and call the person to have a heart-to-heart chat instead of agonizing and staring silly at your computer screen?!

The truth is there is life beyond Facebook and Whatsapp and not everyone thinks about you all day like you do. They have themselves to think about, right? So, lets move on and not base our judgement about people in our lives upon how they behave in social media. Remember, there's always a side that is never revealed out there.

R-tistic expressions

R is creative in many ways. He can spend hours doodling, drawing cars, whales, planets and rockets and colouring them. The figures may not exactly resemble what he says they represent yet the detailing is unmistakable and also laudable for his age. When he was around 3-4 years of age, he hardly exhibited any interest in drawing or colouring. In fact he began to recognize solid colours only by 3 years of age by which time I started to have serious doubts of whether he was colour blind! Then and now; what a change of nature! He loves to colour now and if I were not exasperated to find tiny bits of crayons tucked into cushion crevices, strewn bits of paper cut into various shapes and duly painted and streaks of various hues on my bedspread, I'd have my camera perpetually hung around my neck to capture the creations!

The guy is also not a stickler for conventions. A whale is anything but blue in his book. No creation ever is painted in one single hue. And, that makes it quite attractive. At least to the parents' eyes :-)

Speaking of conventions, it amuses me to observe how freely he works and thinks. I guess most kids are before they get leashed into the set conventions and moulds. Sigh! But, I digress. My mother gifted him a Casio this time that also came with a very cute microphone. I caught R one day, singing (rather screaming some notes) into the microphone and playing random notes simultaneously, a la professional composer on stage. Not sure if he was emulating something he saw on the TV because he is hardly exposed to such stuff on the television.

R loves to make up his own stories and rhymes that are set to tune to the standard ones. It may seem completely nonsensical if you choose to search for logic but it is definitely inspiring to note how he puts together the day's happenings or something he fancies as lyrics into the meter and make it seem like a rhyme or for that matter a story. It's too early to say if there's a hidden talent in there but I am chuffed with the fact that he's inclined towards creating something of his own. I hope I, as a parent, am able to fan this creative streak or at the least don't do anything stupid to thwart it.

Finally, this happened yesterday and I was touched and proud at the same time. R was running low-grade fever over the weekend and he was worried that he'd miss school today as there was a class photo scheduled. I told him that if he remained fever-free for the night, I'd send him to school. His face fell and cried out, "but I don't want fever!". My heart melted, "Of course, even I don't want you to get fever but we can't help certain things although we can hope and pray" said I. After a while, as I went about my work I found him with a small paper filled with stars drawn by him and he placed it reverentially at the feet of my Pooja Ghar, joined his hands and prayed that God keep the fever away so that he could go to school. It was such a sweet moment that I hugged him tight and sent a silent prayer to the Almighty myself.

Well, he still wasn't fit to resume school today and was heartbroken to realize that he would indeed miss the class photograph session. So, I asked for a special permission and took him just for the photo-shoot. He was so happy. Small things bring much joy.

Beginning on a high

Ringing in the new year the way I do for the past four or five years holds a special place in my heart. I've had my share of the routine New Year bashes with close friends and/or in the company of some hundred strangers, shaking to silly music played out by a screaming DJ, and the works. Nothing against this, but like they say once you taste nectar, sugar loses its sweetness appeal. So it has been with me. If you'd have noticed, I take a vacation to my parents' during Christmas every year. It's not just a vacation but an opportunity that I design myself each year to spend the New Year’s Eve and ring in the first day of the New Year with some divinity for company.

While I'm not a ritualistic/religious person in the true sense, I do believe in the power of a force above us that guides us when we choose to seek its light and grace. I also shy away from discussing my relationship with the supreme or God, as we may choose to address, either on my blog or with a group, not because I'm ashamed or unsure but because it's a personal experience and I do not wish to lay it under the scrutiny of others. Yet, today, I'm here to share my experiences with a certain manifestation of the divine. I call it divine because there is no other word that seems to define it completely.

To begin with, I'm not much of a temple-goer. In fact the presence of humongous crowds at certain temples, the business-like attitude of the so-called priests and the over-all commercial modus-operandi puts me off since the essence of experiencing the positive vibrations that should reverberate in a temple is lost totally and I end up feeling relieved rather than re-energized after such visits. Yet, when I'm at my parents', I end up visiting this particular temple almost every day, that too voluntarily. This shrine of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Narayan somehow beckons me, and like me many others, to them. The peace and positive energy that I feel in their presence cannot be explained in words.

New Year’s Eve and the first day of every year are celebrated as the Kalyana Utsavam of the Lord and the Goddess. The utsava moortis are posed as the bride and groom and a real wedding is performed by devotees who play the roles of the Lord and the Goddess's parents, aunts and uncles. Two years back, the husband and I had been blessed to play the roles of athai and athimber to Lord Narayanar. It is a treat to the eyes and ears, to soak in the beautiful decoration and hear the divine music. I love being a part of the celebrations as I also get to sing songs in praise of the Lord. When I see so many devotees working selflessly to make this event happen and help the many social causes through the fund collection, it gives me great satisfaction to be even just a small part of it. When you experience such a spiritual high at the beginning of every year, what’s the need for other intoxication to feel good?

There's a special person here, lovingly addressed as Amma by all, because of whom the temple came into being. Blessed with the Devi's grace, she dresses up the Lord and Goddess in their rich finery and does the floral decorations at the temple. The beauty of it all is to behold. Many of us are skeptics, rational thinking people, and want to do nothing with anybody who says that he or she is closely associated with God. Naturally so, because we have blind rituals being followed, and numerous, wide-spread instances of Godmen duping people of their faith and wealth. However, I say from personal experience that Amma's spiritual and divine aura that comes from her pure devotion to the presiding deities, also manifested in her melodious compositions or bhajans, have the musical and spiritual power to transport any skeptic to experience divine bliss. These bhajans have been hitherto sung at devotees' houses and during auspicious occasions by Amma herself. It was perhaps the Devi's supreme will that these be known to the world when the auditions for Bhajan Samraat season 3 by Sri Sankara TV began in July 2014.

A team of six privileged singers and students of guru Amma under the name of Om Amma Bhajan Mandali, led by my own sister Chitra Krishnan, took part in the auditions and further rounds and emerged as the winners of the title. It was not easy 6 month journey at all, going through 13 rigorous and complex rounds in the preliminary, quarter and semi-final rounds. Yet I'm sure the experience is one that would be cherished by the entire team for years to come. I had been regularly posting the Youtube links of the team's performance on my FB page. If you wish to hear them, you can find them all under a single roof here

The competition was predominantly a sampradaya one wherein the participants were required to sing only the traditional or sampradaya bhajans. Though an entirely new domain for Amma and the team, Amma with her sincerity, talent dedication and devotion trained the team and they emerged successfully at every stage. Their final performance was especially lauded by the judges and the viewers alike for the melody, devotion and divinity that dripped from each note sung. I consider myself privileged to having witnessed the event live at the CODISSIA trade fair auditiorium, Coimbatore on 21st Dec 2014. This date would be etched in our memories for more reasons than one. It's not every day that you get to see your loved one holding the winner's trophy at the National level. Does it require a special mention here to say what a proud sister I'm? :-) I wish the team more and more success.