Monday, December 26, 2011

A day celebrated, A day cursed

How should I have celebrated my 21st? They say your 21st birthday is the last milestone you should celebrate before your 40th. Like you throw parties when you turn sweet 16, adult 18 & legal 21. I remember how I spent the evening howling on my 19th birthday because I was fearful of the responsibilities in the future. But then it’s my 21st! You’re supposed to get wasted on this day because you’re legally allowed to drink; hell I got my best friend wasted on her 21st! I had all the intentions to throw a massive weekend party for about 60 friends. But then two weeks before the day I was looking at the guest list & thought to myself, “It’s a big day for me and I want all my friends there because I know they love me and care for me. But half of the ‘friends’ on the list didn’t care for me, didn’t stand by me when they should’ve, didn’t stop any wrong happening to me, weren’t moved by my tears, nothing at all. Why should I then have them around me on my special day?”

That was the day I decided I wanted a special 21st only with those who love me.
I’m in a phase where I’m disturbed, emotionally tired, disoriented in my brain & can’t make any decisions. I need a break. From everything. I decided to go to Coimbatore to my aunt’s villa that is in the outskirts of the town surrounded by mountains and nothing else. I wanted a change in environment, wanted peace, solitude, to be away from people. My aunt is a Reiki master and every time she’s around there’s just this peaceful energy. And I was craving for that. So with that thought, I was off to Coimbatore. But then lately God is enjoying this game of throwing random situations at me at the last moment and so instead of going to Coimbatore, I went to Chennai.

I love the beach. I love the sun, warmth, sand, water and wind. On 25th that’s what we did. We went to a private beach of the Radisson, which was outside town and just walked there for a bit. And I loved it. It was perfect. I saw the sun setting over the water; saw the sky go from light to dark. I wore a pink beach-y dress and even though my late Didima’s (maternal grandmother) gold watch didn’t go with the dress, I still wore it. I know she’s around when I wear the watch and I feel stronger and protected. I took my Didima with me and walked along the shore with her.

I visited God before the beach to say hi and take his blessings- another thing that was top in the agenda. My evening ended with a fantastic dinner at the Radisson Temple Bay, two surprise cakes and a whole bunch of gifts from my aunt! Towards the end of the day I was thanking all those who wished me on Facebook and some of them seemed so genuine like they really wanted the best year for me. 21 years of experiences, memories, gains, losses, relationships, decisions, travel, purchases, status messages, photos, tags and a whole lot more. I will spend tomorrow counting the blessings I got this year and make each of them count in my 22nd year.

That’s my gift to myself.   

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Puzzle Ball

Ma & I made a puzzle ball today when the rest of the household was asleep. We had bought it yesterday for my birthday. I was really fascinated to think that I could place it on my office desk, you know, like a snow globe. So we started putting this together and boy, was it difficult! A simple flat puzzle is easy to make, but a round one is hard as hell. While I was making it, I was excited initially, then I started getting a little frustrated because I wasn't able to put the right pieces together. As I started getting more frustrated, I started applying more pressure thereby breaking what I had already put together. At points I wanted to give up but then I said to myself "I bought it because I wanted to place something beautiful on my desk" and so I kept going. And I was doing this on my 21st birthday. While listening to Christmas carols.

I then realized that my relationship was just like that. When I said yes, I said it because I wanted it to grow into something beautiful. In the beginning it was exciting & we kept going. When frustration started setting in because we weren't able to put the right pieces together, we started applying pressure at those points where we thought it was required just to realize that other pieces fell apart. Then more frustration started setting in. Patience, soft touch, determination is required to make the puzzle ball. Even after we finished, there still were some rough points; some pieces didn't even set properly. But then nothing is ever perfect.

Even after it's done, all pieces fit together perfectly, it still looks wrong, then it's because the pieces were from different puzzles.

Sunayana Sen    

Monday, December 12, 2011


Are you ever good enough? No matter how close to perfect you may be, it's still never good enough na. There is always something, somewhere that's missing & often it's that something that is the basis of someone's choice. What if there was Utopia? Would there even be something missing? Why don't we have Utopia? I just don't get why, when we're tired of mistakes & wrongs, don't we have Utopia? You would think that when you reach a point when you don't want to make mistakes, or be sad, or hate someone & be hated, or fall in love & lose it, you would get together with others like you and create Utopia. I mean, isn't it simply logical?

I know someone who's always been strong & independent; ever since childhood fought her own battles & wiped her own tears, who stayed strong & practical through tough times even when all odds were against her. But is there a limit till which she can be that? Doesn't she want to give up & escape after a point just for a little while? Isn't she entitled to it? She's the kind who drips of loyalty, the kind who can never wish ill for somebody no matter how bad that person has been to her, the kind who gives people direction in life, the kind who's sure of herself, the kind who's principles never waver, the kind who doesn't deserve to be worthless. But then that's what she is. What if she was in Utopia? She wouldn't be worthless na? She would deserve the equivalent of her strength. But then I just thought of the irony- if she deserves the equivalent of her strength, the hardship she's been through is so rough to match her strength. Am I right? I wonder that if she just wants a change & leaves something because she's drained of her strength, will she be looked down upon? Will people call her weak? But she's been so strong her entire life; will that be overridden if she escapes once?

Is escapism bad? Does that indicate a weak personality? Is it addictive like a drug? This wouldn't even be necessary if there was Utopia. If someone's fighting for a parliament bill to clean up a vicious system, I think we should go all the way and create Utopia. That's the key to it all. That's the one thing we can never have.

One half a step too late or too early and you dont quite make it,
One half second too slow, too fast, you dont quite catch it.
The inches we need are everywhere around us.
They're in every break of the game, every minute, every second.
On this team we fight for that inch.
On this team we tear ourselves and everyone around us to pieces for that inch.
Claw with our fingernails for that inch.
Because we know when we add up all those inches, that's gonna make the f***ing difference between winnin & losing, between living and dying.    
-Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday


This is one of my favorite speeches EVER! In the most difficult times, this is what I listen too. So far it's this that keeps me going. 

From the movie- 'Any Given Sunday' starring Al Pacino.

I don't know what to say really; three minutes to the biggest battle of our professional lives......all comes down to today.
Either we heal as a team or we're gonna crumble; inch by inch, play by play 'till we're finished.
We're in hell right now gentlemen, believe me. 
And we can stay here and get the shit kicked out of us, or...we can fight our way back, into the light. We can climb out of hell.
One inch at a time.
Now I can't do it for you, i'm too old. I look around, I see these young faces and I think..... I mean I made every wrong choice a middle aged man can make.
I pissed away all my money, believe it or not.
I chased off anyone who's ever loved me.
And lately I can't even stand the face I see in the mirror.

You know....when you get old in life, things get taken from you....that's part of life.
But you only learn that.....when you start losing stuff.
You find out life's a game of inches.
So is football.
Because in either game- life or football- the margin for error is so small...I mean....
One half a step too late or too early and you dont quite make it,
One half second too slow, too fast, you dont quite catch it.
The inches we need are everywhere around us.
They're in every break of the game, every minute, every second.
On this team we fight for that inch.
On this team we tear ourselves and everyone around us to pieces for that inch.
Claw with our fingernails for that inch.
Because we know when we add up all those inches, thats gonna make the f***ing difference between winnin losing,
between living and dying.
i'll tell you this......
In any fight it's the guy who's willing to die who's gonna win that inch.
And I know that if i'm gonna have any life anymore it's because im still willing to fight & die for that inch.
Because that's what living is. The 6 inches in front of your face.
Now I can't make you do it.
You gotta look at the guy next to you, look into his eyes. Now I think you're gonna see a guy who'll go that inch with you.....
You're gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows when it comes to it, you're gonna do the same for him.
That's a team gentlemen.
And either we heal now as a team or we will die as individuals.

That's football guys. That's all it is.

Now.....what are you gonna do?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Virgin Prize

My friend Vyshnavi Sainath is a fantastic dancer with dance in her genes, thanks to her internationally renowned mother, Rajeshwari Sainath. Today I went for a dance ballet held at Ravindra Bharati by a womens' support organization that was choreographed by & featured the mother-daughter duo. Titled "Ahalya", the ballet told the story of the Bramha-made, Goutama-cursed & Ram-rescued pathivratha- Ahalya

Ahalya (also known as Ahilya) was the epitome of a woman created by Bramha who wanted to make a perfect woman symbolizing purity, intelligence & beauty. Impeccable beauty. He made her such that every bit of her would drip with beauty. Bramha put Ahalya in the care of sage Goutama until she reached marriageable age & the sage become a mother, a father & teacher to her. He handed her back to Bramha, as pure as she was when she was given under his care. Then Bramha put forth the proposal that whomsoever can circle the earth thrice will win Ahalya as his bride. Indra, the egotistical King of Gods believed that beauty such as Ahalya was only made for him & he had the natural right to her. However, because she was the epitome of chaste womanhood, he agreed to Bramha's proposal & circled the earth thrice. In the meanwhile, Goutama in his morning holy rituals, had thrice circled a cow while it was giving birth to a calf. And that is the highest act of morality, making Goutama the winner of Ahalya.

Ahalya had to now accept him as a husband while Goutama always saw her with a veil of suspicion even though it was Indra eyeing her & not the other way round. "It's not easy to enact marriage, constantly dancing on a razor edge". One day when Goutama was off doing his daily chores, Indra, not able to control his lust anymore, seduced her disguised as Goutama. When Goutama discovered this act of 'impurity', he castrated Indra & turned Ahalya into stone. Indra pleaded with his brother to reverse the curse & his brother gave him the testicles from an ox & thousand eyes (he became famous as the thousand eyed Indra). "The wrong was rewarded." But Ahalya remained a stone, cut off from humanity for years until Ram brushed his feet against a stone & then the curse was broken. 

   So the moral of the ballet was 
  1. Men were lustful beings
  2. Purity is virginity
  3. Even if people are in the wrong, they're still rewarded (Remember how Indra got an ox's testicles)
  4. Even if women are loyal, responsible, pure in dharm & karm, everything is overridden the day another man enforces himself on her
  5. Wife will always happily take her husband's decisions because she has committed to love him
 I wanted to quote some of the dialogues from the ballet but unfortunately my memory won't allow it. The dialogues were beautiful & it gracefully articulated Ahalya's story. I will try to get my hands on them for you. And this post lays the perfect foundation for the next series of my posts.

*The story written here has its sources in the dance ballet 'Ahalya' & various internet sources

Friday, December 2, 2011

Zindagi mein risk nahi liya tho kya kiya

Zindagi mein risk nahi liya tho kya kiya - Satwik Shukla
 This was the most random statement made in my team meeting today but ended up becoming our team's tag line by the end of the meeting! But this was the 'moment' of the day for me when my spirit got reenergized again. In summer of 2009, when I was in college & part of various extra-curricular organizations, my leader said to a bunch of ~20 youngsters who had just become leaders: "My biggest regrets in life are the risks not taken." And boy did that statement have a profound effect on me. Since then on every time I was at crossroads trying to make the most profitable trade-off, I would think of that statement & make a quick decision. That's how I developed the decisiveness skill I pride myself on. This was also what I said to myself when my ex asked me out. Of course now he's my 'ex' but that doesn't diminish the power of that statement :)

Just for giving me the guiding philosophy of my life, Akhil Reddy, I hope you're blessed with 10x Karma. If I'm on my deathbed & don't regret anything, I hope you know that I took the most important risks.

Sunayana Sen          

Monday, November 28, 2011

Who were you? Who will you be?

Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant. - Wikipedia
Have you ever thought of what/who you were in you past life/lives? Have you ever thought if the concept exists? For most of my life I believed there was only one dimension on Earth. There didn't exist any heaven or hell; there was only now for each of us, no past life or future life. But then I read 'Many Lives, Many Masters' by Dr. Brian Weiss. My uncle introduced me to this book. While he was narrating the gist of the story, there was this crazed look in his eyes & he seemed lost in the narration. And he's a doctor. He's been a general physician for more than 35 yrs now & he was excited by a book on past life & rebirth. Now I was curious. So I borrowed the book & started reading.

Dr. Weiss is a highly educated doctor & like the rest of the medical community was trained to think logically at every point. Existence of past life was not possible. Catherine walked into this office then with over 30 phobias. She had so many phobias that she was leading a miserable life. None of the conventional treatments were helping so Dr. Weiss tried using hypnosis & regression. Phobias that we live with are almost always caused by some trauma we've experienced earlier. Hypnosis & regression techniques are used to go back in memories and address the traumas. Some of her anxiety was cured after she relived some traumas but most still remained. So they went further back in time & in the process they stumbled upon the existence of past lives. Apparently she's lived more than 80 times in the physical form. If she had an unnatural death, the cause of her death became the phobia in her current life. And so on & so forth the book goes. But the most exciting thing I got out of the book was the concept of (what I'd like to call) 'Inner circle'. 

Sometimes some people walk into your life & stay forever. Most leave. Some feel like they've been around & will be around forever. Some feel like a passing cloud. He says that those people who are in your most inner circle will always be in this circle in every lifetime. Your daughter from two lifetimes ago may be that niece you're close to in your current lifetime, or your husband from a past life is your best friend in your current lifetime. The people who impact your life the most are those people who’ve been with you always, through life, death & in between. He also said that the nature of the relationship carries forward. If you’ve been having a rocky relationship with a close person, you will have a rocky relationship with that person even in future lives unless you break that chain. Maybe this explains my relationship with my ex-best friend? Maybe this explains my relationship with some of those people who have a profound effect on my life but aren’t around me. Does it also mean that now since I’m aware of this I should work on all those rocky relationships so that in my future lifetimes I have lesser grief? Intriguing thought.

Have I started believing in rebirth & reincarnation? I’m still unsure. Unless I undergo the same experience as Catherine did, I may never be.    

Pants on fire

Today I became a part of the Emergency Response Team in my office & was trained on the basics of fire safety & safety in general. It feels awesome to be an ERT member & have the responsibility of saving lives! It's also quite scary. Our trainer talked about (and emphasized) how unsafe our environment is & anything can cause a fire. Did you know that anything around you can cause a fire? He showed us & talked about the many cases of fire where people lost their life due to lack of common sense & presence of mind. And jumping from a burning building is a strict no. The Carlton building fire, 9/11 & Tucson Hotel fire are some cases to highlight people's immediate reaction of jumping out of burning buildings. I wanted to talk about what I learned today & hopefully you will learn somethings too.

The first thing on my agenda now is to identify the most hazardous places in my house & office. before that, what is fire? What are the three key things required for a fire? 
Oxygen, Heat, Fuel
Only if all these are present will there be a fire. Absence of any of these can't sustain fire. So this is the basic thing to keep in mind when we're in a fire situation. And fuel isn't just diesel or petrol; it's your carpet, your doors, papers, wires, anything. It's important to be aware of what around you can be fuel. So now, I will identify that area at home that all these three elements in abundance. 

Did you know there are three classes of fire?
  1. A- Solid- fuel is wood, paper, cotton, textiles; anything that burns and gives ash
  2. B- Liquid- fuel is 
    petrol, diesel, kerosene, paint, oils
  3. C- Gas- fuel is 
    LPG, Acetylene, hydrogen, methane
  4. D- Metal- fuel is 
    sodium, potassium, magnesium, lithium
  5. E- Electrical- transformer, welding m/c, generators, panel boards
For each of these classes there are different types of extinguishers too:
  • Water (for solid fire)
  • Foam (for Cooling + blanketing)
  • Dry chemical powder- mono ammonium phosphate powder (for blanketing)
  • Carbon di oxide (for blanketing)

If you notice on fire extinguishers there are alphabets written indicating the class of fire it's for. Usually most of them are A, B & C/B & C. They come in different sizes, weight, nozzles & designs. Buy the one that's easiest to handle for you. Also keep in mind that extinguishers need regular maintenance otherwise they might not serve your purpose. 

F- Find the fire
I- Inform the security/supervisor/fire brigade
R- Respond to the situation & try putting off the fire using the extinguisher
E- Evacuate everybody from the floor

Things to remember in these situations:
  • Who should you evacuate first- Physically challenged & Pregnant women (keep their  Mobile/intercom numbers handy always)
  • After the alarm siren wait for communication 
  • The longest you should wait for communication is 30-40 seconds
  • DO NOT give details of the emergency to people. It will only cause more panic. Just mention there's an emergency & they have to evacuate immediately.
  • If there's media outside, don't let employees go close to them. It will cause unnecessary drama.
  • Divert people to separate exits- evacuation will be faster
  • If anybody catches fire, throw a blanket on them from behind & throw water. Water will stop the heat from reaching the tissues & bones and will prevent 3rd degree burns. Do not remove the blanket immediately; It will cause skin to peel off. But do uncover the head so they can breathe. If there's a pool around, just push them in. 
So yeah, this is what I learnt today. We also practiced using the extinguishers. There were 4 types & I got to try two of them- the most difficult one & the most heaviest one. I did great with the heavy one; don't ask what happened with the other :| 

Be safe!

Here's a video we watched today about seatbelt safety. Really liked it so thought I would share it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Maple Leaves

Early in 2011 we got news that my elder cousin sister was to get married in August in North America. So the four of us pulled up our socks, packed our bags & got ready to head to the country of maple leaves & ice hockey- CANADA

Having been to the U.S before, I didn't expect Canada to be anything different. But I was wrong. There are lots of differences between these two sister countries & if I were forced to live in one of them, I would choose Canada. Attitude, ambience, environment, people & governance were some of the big differences for me.
  1. Canada is a lot more laid-back than U.S is which is my favorite difference. U.S seems like it's on this never-ending, single participant race to nowhere, and if they pause for just a second the whole world will come crashing down. To live my life in that environment is a curse. But Canada seems very secure in their position as though being #1 is not everything. 
  2. It's green. It's so green! Apparently, for every burial the family has to plant a tree/seed. Every house has a lawn that if not maintained, you can be evicted. The downtown area also is quite green. The walkways, roads, footpaths, etc., all have plants hanging from the lamp-posts or shop doors and foliages. 
  3. The ambience of the place is so victorian. The fact that Canada was a British & French colony is evident in their cobblestone roads, historic architecture, naming of streets, trams & occasional vintage cars. I love it!    
  4. In Davenport, U.S.A, people are overly-friendly. Now that I think of it, it's kind of nauseating. In Mississauga, Canada, people aren't overly-friendly at all. They go about minding their business with the occasional nod of their head & greetings. In downtown Toronto you're invisible. I quite like that.   
  5. I never thought I'd ever say this of a country's governance, but I'm impressed with the Canadian governance. It's neither as paranoid as Republic of China nor is crazy like Kenya, Nigeria, etc. Did you know that education for kids of Canadian citizens is free until high school? And it takes just ~3 yrs to become a Canadian citizen. Healthcare is free; No conditions applied. You can afford to buy a house in 5 yrs. And not just any random, one BHK; you can buy a proper independent house in the residential areas. But how does the government afford all this? Your tax is 30% of your income. Big amount which leaves a small margin for disposable income. But then everything is taken of by the state. And apparently the people are fearful of the 'Tax-Men' which is why Canada has a low tax default rate. Taxes are really high here. Even shopping's a bitch due to the high taxes. *
Although we had plans to visit Montreal & Quebec City, we only visited Toronto & Niagara Falls. Oh, and since I'm talking about my travels I've got to mention that I didn't find anything particularly glamorous or picturesque about Niagara falls. Sorry, I just didn't.
These were my major travel takeaways from Canada. Beautiful place, rich history, numerous things-to-do. Do visit it once. 

*Facts not researched. Just word-of-mouth from Canadians. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bucket List

Lately I've been thinking about what are those things I want to do/experience before I die and here are what I could think of as of today when I'm 20 yrs and 336 days old. I'm sure this list will be built upon as I keep checking these ones off.
  1. Run off a cliff into the ocean
  2. Sky diving
  3. Scuba diving/snorkeling 
  4. Visit Greece, Pakistan, Cape of Good Hope, Prague, Newzealand, Brazil, Cuba, China, Istanbul, Spain, Germany, Helsinki, Ireland, and a whole lot of other places  
  5. Weigh at least 54 kgs at some point
  6. Make my family act according to what makes them happy instead of what society 'accepts'
  7. Get a tattoo
  8. Own a Dodge Viper

9.  Buy a dilapidated small palace and restore it to be my house

10.  Get some answers about rebirth & what I was in my past life
11. Deeply impact someone's life
12. Save/stop at least one kid from being raped/killed/sold/thrown into human trafficking/married off to someone 50 yrs older
13. A healthy library at home

14. Never let go of sports
15. Have all of this with someone who loves me
16. Have no regrets when I'm on my deathbed

Veni, Vidi, Vici| I came, I saw, I conquered

Sunayana Sen 


So I lied. This is the biggest lie I’ve spun. If the person I lied to ever found out, it would be the end of it. I didn’t tell anybody for a couple of weeks about it for the fear that I would be judged. I think the bigger fear was that I would judge myself. I usually don’t lie so I was paranoid about covering up my loopholes. I usually don’t lie because I don’t need to. I’m self-confident, barely insecure, the 10-yrs-later-it-won’t-matter attitude, and principled. When I hear others lying I believe it comes from lack of the above. So naturally I was scared of what my girls would say about it. Gpta said she doesn’t judge me at all and everyone does it; said I was just testing the waters. Sne said it was a big lie, but done well; didn’t judge me for the lie but concerned for the reason behind it.

But let’s talk about why Sne said it was ‘done well’. Even though I feel horrible about lying & all that jazz, I felt smart about ‘doing it well’! If you spin a lie that’s too good to be true the trick is to question it yourself; Start with the “But I was thinking that there’s something off….” sentence. Having admitting that statement made the lie more real apparently.       

Do I regret it? No & yes. I don’t regret having lied since there were concrete results, clarity & emotional stability; I regret having spun such a huge lie since if it ever unravels, I wouldn’t know where to hang my head. 

One may sometimes tell a lie, but the grimace that accompanies it tells the truth -Friedrich Nietzsche