Sunday, July 5, 2015

Injury and beyond: advice to my future self


It happened in a blink of an eye. There I was, lying frozen and numb, on my back, on the hard ground. 

As I came back to consciousness, trying to make sense of all things around me, a dozen thoughts bounced in my head. I am so late to work! again!. My back hurts so bad, should I go back home, call in sick. I hope I'm ok, its not too serious. wow I cant move, must be serious. I call my husband who jumped into his car, still in his yoga pants and flip-flops, without a jacket on a cold day. 

And there it was, a spinal chord fracture, and two crazy months at home, mostly lying on my back with a huge metal brace around me. And now as I near the day where I get to take off the brace (3 more weeks and counting each day), I look back at this experience like a dream. Here are the lessons I learnt, which I think will be useful for other rainy days in future.

1. Break from planning. Sometimes you just need some time off from the world. And just retrieve into this world of your own. To rethink your life's objectives, and what would you do if you had a second chance to do it all differently.

2. Life can be over in a second. I remember one moment I was running to catch my train, wondering who just pinged me on whatsapp and planning my dinner menu at the same time. And the next I was unconscious for what seemed like ages. When I regained my consciousness, none of those things mattered. 

3. Feeling lucky to be alive. When I got my first X-ray report, the doctor said I was saved from a operation due to the fact that the fracture was on the other side of my spinal chord, such injuries can also leave one disabled for life.

4. Grateful to have people around you who care. I put a status on Facebook saying I had an injury and need prayers and blessing. I had more than 300 comments and many phone calls (my husband  and I connected with friends who we haven't spoken to in years). Though I was in pain and admitted in hospital, reading those messages made me feel so loved and secure. It made me realize that reaching out even through a small comment on social networking site makes a huge difference.

5. Its OK to be not OK. Sometimes we feel guilty about others taking care of us. I had to be at the mercy of my husband and friends until I could move around more. But I learned to be comfortable with that, and feeling natural in the state I was. I surrounded myself with hundreds of books (reading being the only activity I enjoyed that I could do somewhat without too much discomfort)


6. Stop being in a hurry. I am still working on this one. Being in a hurry is my defining character. I might as well stick up a huge placard on my forehead saying "whats next". I keep seeming to go though activities and events, sometimes just to get it over with. I would probably say stopping to smell the flowers is such a waste of time. And then, when I seemed to have nothing to do the whole day except staring at the ceiling  and dodging uncomfortable thoughts (you know the whole range of why mes, and what about mes) there probably comes a point when you tell the mind to shut up. Its probably the best advice a mind gave itself.

7. Taking care of your body and mind. The thing I missed the most was being able to do my daily practices of Yoga and meditation. Its like my anchor in this world of chaos and commotion. My quiet corner on a busy subway of life. My sanctum sanatorium of inner peace. Its where I draw all my inspiration, energy and enthusiasm from. Over the years of doing Yoga and meditation, and even teaching it, I realized that I was somewhere taking it for granted.  These days also gave me a chance to listen to talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Patanjali (the founder of Yoga) Yoga sutras and to build back the same honor and reverence I had when I started.

8. Everything is changing. Now that I am stronger (not yet strong enough to do Yoga though) It feels magical to be able to move better. To turn and to not feel any pain. To sit for longer without discomfort. And to travel to work everyday (with a bit of discomfort). And I know this will also change. But amidst all this, holding on to the one thing that does not change (the precious one that meet it in my meditation everyday) is my real key to happiness. 

I think I have enough advice here for my future self. Maybe I will even come back and add to it when I have something new.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An Evening with PM in Berlin

It was a cold windy day in front of Brandenburger Gate, Berlin. But what caught your immediate attention was a crowd of chaotic Indians, waving their flags, awaiting their Hero, their PM Narendra Modi.

For someone who has met quite a few celebrities, I couldn’t imagine how this was going to be different. OK, so we only got invited for the most exclusive Indian gathering in Germany. So we might be able to meet and possible greet PM Modi personally.
And yes, I have been a huge fan of his vision, his zeal and enthusiasm to take the country forward.
So it was decided that my husband Kaushik and I would take the plunge and travel to Berlin from Munich to be a part of this great reception.
The Day began with welcoming PM Modi outside his hotel. He stepped out in complete presidential style, with a caravan of cars and police motorbikes surrounding his vehicle.
But the Man who stepped out was a simple person, who seemed to be completely unaffected by all the ‘celebrity like’ chaos around him. As he walked towards the Indian crowed whose chants ‘Desh ki Raksha Kaun karega?’ Modiji  Modiji’, grew louder. From small kids to the elderly, PM Modi took the time to greet each one. Many who had travel from different parts of Europe just to catch his glimpse.
Evening came, and we found ourselves seated in the Hall of Adlon Hotel, waiting with baited breath for the PM to address us all. As the PM came in ushered by his Black Ops, there was a buzz of patriotism in the air.

We stood up to sing the national Anthem. And it was announced that each one of us would get an opportunity to personally meet and shake hands with the PM.
A feeling of pride and patriotism enveloped me as I realized that I was singing our National Anthem for the first time in Germany.  The Ambassador of India Mr Gokhale, then invited the PM to address us all. The PM started with sharing how blessed we are to Indians. ‘It is our value system that respects the nature and every aspect of this creation that makes us unique’. His vision was to make our country a world leader. ‘I am very grateful that Germany has recognized India’s value. At one time, there used to be Radio Shows in Sanskrit here, where in Indian just the thought of this will bring about a ‘secular’ outcry.
The PM went on further to encourage NRIs to be a bridge between the real India and how the world views India. To put India back on the Map, as a tourist hub. He also encouraged Indians to be entrepreneurs and make India a center of Innovation and knowledge just the way it was thousands of years ago.
I was truly touched by his clarity and vision and determination to take India forward, and to work together with Indians from all corners of the world to achieve this. It made me realize that India finally has a leader to guide it, and restore its former glory. 'We don't have an opportunity to die for our country like Bhagat Singh, but we are lucky to have this life to live for our country'.
The forty five minute speech came to an end, with Bharat Mata Ki Jai! reverberating throughout the hall. and we all had a chance to personally meet and shake hands with him. When it was our turn, we said ‘we are with the Art of Living’, he smiled, and that moment I felt great contentment with the understanding that we are doing our part for reaching out to the world with the gift of Yoga and Meditation, from India.

More about the evening here.