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Friday, August 18, 2017

Let it come today...

It is a legend about the life of one of the ancient Indian emperors Vikramaditya, who was famous for his valor and generosity. One day during his excursion in his empire, he saw artisans with beautiful idols constituting various gods, goddesses and human figures, sitting idle. Upon asking them about their work, he realized that these people with exquisite talents, were reluctant to pursue their artistry due to lack of interests from buyers. Not being able to sell their art, they were unable to fulfill the needs of their families and were planning to become construction laborers instead. Next day, the king made an announcement to his empire- if any artist was unable to sell his work in two days, the king will buy it on the third day. His generosity and respect for art began attracting artisans from other kingdoms as well.
Time passed, and one day a man from a faraway kingdom came to his palace. He had a huge statue with him hidden under a satin cloth. After the king came to know about his arrival, he called for him. The man told him that he was from another kingdom. He told him that he saw a dream of a god and he made a statue based on what he saw. It took him three months and three days to make it, but no one in his or any other kingdom was ready to purchase it. The king gave him his word that he will give him the right price for his creation. He removed the cloth, it was the most beautiful statue of Saturn (Shani) God, he had ever seen. The king was in awe after looking at the statue for some time, but soon he realized that it was not considered good to keep this statue in a home. The man told the king, that he heard about his announcement and with high hopes he came to him. 

The kind-hearted king gave him the money and asked him to keep the idol with himself. Upon which the artist told the king it is okay if he didn’t want the idol, but he cannot take money as a charity. If the king doesn’t want to buy it, he will not sell it. The king, sticking to his words, bought it and kept it in the basement of his palace. Next day he dreamed of Shani- a Hindu god considered to be the lord of planet Saturn*. In his dreams, god told him that he wanted to come to his house to stay and asked him whether he should come today or 20 years later. He further asked king to consult his wife and then answer him.  Vikramaditya ignored his dream, but he saw it again for next three consecutive nights, each time it was exactly same. He called his advisors and priests to seek their advice. Some told him to get rid of the statue, while some told him the ways to ward off evils and bad dreams. After some contemplation, he came to a decision. He went to his wife and told her about his dream. She thought about it for some time and then asked him for his opinion. Her told her, he wanted to invite the god tomorrow rather than 20 years later. She told him that she is fine with his decision and will prepare for his arrival then. 

Later that night, in his dream when the god came again, he told him that he can come today. The god of evil influences smiled and told him, he will then come in the morning.  Next day, a neighboring king attacked Vikramaditya with the help of some unfaithful associates in his kingdom. He lost the battle and eloped with his wife and son, into the forest. He started roaming around in forest with his family and found a shelter at a wood cutter’s home. They spent seven years in forest, living a mediocre life eating whatever they could gather. After seven years, Vikramaditya found his loyal chaperons and united with them. He called a war on the new king and won his kingdom back. The time of the Saturn god’s stay was over. The entire kingdom rejoiced again to get their popular king back. After getting back his empire, one-day his queen asked him why did he call Saturn god today instead of tomorrow.  He said, “dear queen, when he asked us if he should come today or tomorrow, I chose today. Today we are healthy and young, we are strong to face anything. Twenty years later, we will be old and weak, hence the hardships will feel more. It is better to face hardships today than tomorrow. The queen found a peace in his answer and she was proud of her wise king. 

Image: Google

After words: If there are happy times, there will be struggles, sooner or later. Some people have difficult youth, while some have difficult old age. If you are facing hardships in life today, always remember today you are stronger than tomorrow. There will soon be a sunshine with a beautiful rainbow. 

This story has always helped me by providing another perspective of looking at tough times. I hope the philosophy it carries, is as inspiring for the readers reading this post.  

P.S. I have jotted down this story from my memory, and there could be minor variations in it from the exact legend. The gist, however is the same. Awaiting your views

*Shani dev (god) i.e. lord of the planet Saturn, is believed to be the lord of evil influences who brings bad luck and monetary loss in his span according to Hindu Mythology. Read more about Shani

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April is for Mom...

She called my name in panic and then joggled me hurriedly, "Wake up, you did not tell me you have your economics exam today. Why are you are still sleeping?"
"Please Ma, it's day after tomorrow. Let me sleep." I turned on the other side of my bed and hid my face under the comforter. Last night I had studied till 3.00 am. 
She was annoyed and losing patience, "Your friend is sitting in the living room, waiting for you. I don't understand why you are so careless!", she reprimanded me pointing at the clock "Get up, you should have left by now." It was eight in the morning.
She shook me again,"Get ready in 15 minutes. I am going to prepare breakfast", and she left hastily.
My eyes were wide open in panic- from last few days I had been practicing for my accountancy paper and she said economics.
I rushed from my bed, and ran downstairs to confirm with my friend. I hardly had any time. I would fail, I was in extreme panic. After reaching the living room, she wasn't there.
"I walked towards the dining hall and found my mom gazing intently at the newspaper. She put down her reading glasses and lowered the newspaper, "She is in the washroom." I went near washroom but door was open, and still there was no clue of my friend. Finally my attention dawned upon my sister who couldn't contain herself anymore and started laughing hysterically. She had been fooled an hour ago with the same prank. Now our mom joined in laughing and jumping like a teenager and shouting "April fool, April fool."
This incidence is still vivid in my memories of 1st April among many others. Our mother being a morning person always managed to fool us in sleep or even otherwise. And none of us in the family are spared from her pranks, not even our father
P.S. This year due to my travel plans, I won't be taking part in April AtoZ challenge. Though you can check my previous years' participation posts of April challenge here:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Evenings over the frozen lake

Soon after we relocated to Madison in summers, we paid a visit to lake Mendota that was surrounded by lush green flora that time. During our conversation to some residents there, we gathered that in winters this lake freezes and people walk, ski and do ice fishing on it. And then a wait to witness another version of this lake started. Few months later, after watching hues of fall, came winters. I was finally standing over the lake with no drenching and drowning in water, caught up in the merriment of the moment. Belonging from comparatively much hotter region on earth, skepticism of surviving the chills of winters like these, where even lakes freeze, was extremely high.

​View of lake in winters (above), view of lake back in summers from the same point (below)
I looked at some kids playing on one side of the lake with their parents. On another side my gaze followed a group of men, walking to the deepest points (deepest till 83 feet) without any fear or anxiety. I had heard stories about cracking of ice on solid waters, where sometimes people die of hypothermia. So, I instinctively maintained my proximity to the shores.

Post few weeks, our Italian friend, planned a trek to the lake. He took us to the backside of the same lake, which we had not explored yet. As we reached down to it, there was a stunning white floor all around. It was another view of the frozen lake, much more mesmerizing, much more exciting. We continued to walk ahead. I was extremely cautious and alert of the brittle floors in between. Somewhere I was scared that due to my weight floors may crack and I will drown in coldest waters I have ever known. Past some ten minutes of walking, we saw a truck standing in the middle of the lake and two men ice fishing. My heart sensed a warmer feeling with a sudden sense of safety. My body felt lighter. Talking to one of the men there, we found out that this year ice sealing the lake is thinner i.e. from twenty eight inches thickness of previous years to mere fourteen inches. 'Global warming', I sighed thinking.
​From left to right: Our shadows on the lake floor, my husband and our friend walking ahead,
I am standing beside a fishing hole, ice-fishing in action)

Walking over the icy lake was in my immediate bucket list, and I was happy that my wish had been fulfilled. While coming back we saw a splendid sunset leaving its gleam all over the ice. A feeling of gratification was filled in us for our friend. It was because of him we experienced this beautiful day. Soon as we stepped on to the earth from solid water, he teased me saying ‘you are finally safe’ and laughed aloud.

​Sun going down from the time we started our walk to the time we reached back to that point.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Visit to Limestone Caves, finding God and evolution

My previous year was dedicated to traveling, exploring and absorbing myself in this new western world of East and mid-west in United States. I also spent some time trying my hands at Canvas paintings and polymer clay crafts (that I deeply fell in love with) and will eventually share those works here.

Right at the beginning of this year I visited one of the most beautiful natural sights in Madison with my husband called 'Cave of the Mounds', which was discovered in 1939. The delightful beauty of this limestone cave illustrates nature's intricate handiwork, with many beautiful structures inside. Limestone is majorly made up of Calcium Carbonate, that came from shells of marine organisms on ancient ocean floors. Since these are water soluble, rainwater created cavities in them forming a cave. The water that formed cavities, carried calcium carbonates to other areas creating new formations inside the caves. Many of these formations and structures took millions of years to form.
My previous visit to any such limestone cave was back in India in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, though those caves did not have cavities as deep as this. And hence walking here was a richer experience for me.
Cave of the Mounds, Wisconsin
During our walk, we spotted two places with peculiar formations (specifically to Indian eyes) closely resembling Indian Gods. The first was common and often found i.e. Shiva-ling. The second one resembled Lord Ganesha. With a quiet understanding, we passed a smile at each other. Both of us knew, if it was in India, this would have been a place of religious interest.

Formation inside the cave resembling to Lord Ganesha (above)
and Shivaling (below)
On our way back home, we were discussing about such places in India where devotees go despite the journey being life threatening. And many people each year lose their lives to be at those religious places. Interestingly, many of the relatives of dead consider it to be auspicious when their known die there (since everyone will die someday), believing them to reach heaven. Perhaps it is the spirit of adventure and the hope of finding something bigger than ourselves that makes us go such great lengths.

Since these caves were formed on ancient sea-bed, the limestone here were rich in many minerals and fossils. We bought fossils of fish, which being a biologist’s wife now, is a cherished possession at our home. 
The Ammonites (spiral shaped fossil) were sea creatures that lived from 65 to 350 million years ago and are now extinct.
It is interesting to see how every creature on earth including ourselves, evolved from fishes- you may find the first episode of this documentary interesting – Your inner Fish

P.S. Wish you all a very Happy 2017 :)

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