{W} The Kindness Revolution: Why worry?

“People get so in the habit of worry that if you save them from drowning and put them on a bank to dry in the sun with hot chocolate and muffins they wonder whether they are catching cold.” ~ John Jay Chapman
OK, fess up! How often do you find yourself, brows furrowed, chewing your bottom lip, running through some crazy, made-up scenarios in your head? Or obsessing over something someone said to you, something that you forgot to do, or second-guessing a decision you took? At that moment, it seems like your life as you know it is over!

I’m also willing to bet that most of us have, at some time or the other, had this continuous loop playing in our head:

Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God what am I going to do how am I going to do it Oh My God my life is over!

This, generally, is the loop that plays in my head when I’ve left something for the last minute (and I do it often…and then I hyperventilate…) or when I can’t find my car keys and I’m already late for work…you get the drift, right?

I cannot count the number of times I have looked back at those moments of intense worry and laughed at myself for hyperventilating the way I did. And this brought me to an important realization:

If there is a solution that can be found to my problem, or if I can fix a particular situation I find myself in, it’s pointless to hyperventilate. All that worrying only increases stress levels and the time it takes to fix a problem. And if I come up against something that I can’t fix, what is the point of worrying? It won’t help me in any way!

on-worry-dalai-lama

So here’s a revolutionary act of kindness for you to adopt: Try to look forward a year or so and ask yourself: will this situation, problem, decision, really matter a year or two years from now? Will I even remember this situation that is causing me so much worry?

When you view things from this perspective, you realize that so many things that you focus your worry or your attention on…so many things that you think are vitally important…are really not…they’re just distractions. If you stop worrying about them, you free up time that you can use to focus on the things that really matter to you…that will make a difference to your life a year…two years…three or more years from now.

Are you ready to banish worry to the wayside? Will you join me in the kindness revolution?

Got any tips and strategies to share? Or maybe you have some questions, thoughts, or different opinions? Whatever the case – I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

{V} V for Victory

As I was curled up on the sofa engrossed in a book, I suddenly heard Pepo grumbling deep in her throat. Looking up, I saw her sitting on the window, absolutely alert, looking like she was ready to strike something. Curiousity spiked, I uncurled from the sofa and walked over to see what had her hackles raised. Out on the balcony, oblivious to the threatening cat behind a closed window, were these birds, strutting around, preening and grooming themselves. I grabbed Pepo and put her into another room, ran for my camera (the Sony H5) and fired off a few quick shots. This one is my favorite from that afternoon.

PS: No animals were harmed during the course of this photo shoot. Pepo is a house cat; she isn’t allowed outdoors unsupervised.

PPS: Pepo was my first cat; she died last January. This is a post from my photoblog, which I plan to discontinue due to lack of time. I will be transitioning all those posts and doing more photography-related posts right here.

{U} Travel Postcard #8: Under the Indian Sun

City Palace, Udaipur

The Indian summer makes outdoor eating a rather difficult proposition, except during the winter. And when the setting is such, within the City Palace at Udaipur, how can you pass up the chance to grab a quick bite under the umbrella, enjoying the  people and the ambiance around you?

Tell us about a memorable meal from your travels!

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{T} Travel Postcard #7: Tibetan Prayer Wheels

Tibetan-prayer-wheel

Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Sanskrit on the outside of the wheel. Also sometimes depicted are Dakinis, Protectors and very often the 8 auspicious symbols Ashtamangala. According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition based on the lineage texts regarding prayer wheels, spinning such a wheel will have much the same meritorious effect as orally reciting the prayers. – Wikipedia.com

Every time I visit a monastery, I am struck by a few things: the cleanliness and aura of peacefulness; the gorgeous, brightly colored tangka paintings and murals adorning the walls; the larger-than-life statutes of the various avatars of Buddha, and the prayer wheel outside most monasteries.

Every time I walk around a monastery, running my hand along the prayer wheels, I feel a sense of peace and calm descend over me. Once, I even managed to work through a particular problem that had been plaguing me since a while. Monasteries, along with churches, often have this effect on me.

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{S} Book review: Servants of the Goddess by Catherine Rubin Kermorgant

From the back cover:

Servants of the Goddess weaves together the heartbreaking, yet paradoxically life affirming stories of five devadasis – Women, in the clutches of an ancient fertility cult, forced to serve the gods. Catherine Rubin Kermorgant sets out attempting to make a documentary film about the lives of present-day devadasis. Through her, we meet and get to know the devadasi women of Kalyana, a remote village in Karnataka. As they grow to trust Kermorgant and welcome her as an honorary sister, we hear their stories in their own words, stories of oppression and violence, but more importantly, of resistance and resilience. Kermorgant becomes a part of these stories and finds herself unwittingly enmeshed in a world of gender and caste bias which extends far beyond Kalyana, all the way to Paris, where the documentary is to be edited and produced. Servants of the Goddess is a testament to women’s strength and spirit and a remarkably astute analysis of gender and caste relations in today’s rural India.

My view:

Servants of the Goddess by Catherine Rubin KermorgantFor some reason, I thought that the cult of devadasis was over. I was wrong. Through this eye-opening book, Kermorgant draws the readers’ attention to devadasis and their plight.

Forced into the tradition due to poverty, kept there due to their superstitious beliefs, devadasis have largely been pushed out of temples except during traditional pujas and ceremonies. They’re forced into a life of prostitution, plying their bodies either in their village or in red light districts in Mumbai and Delhi. And every year, thousands of girls are dedicated to the system, a majority of them by their own families.

The book shows us glimpses of their life and their beliefs, but it falls somewhat short.

I tend to compare any book of this nature with Mayank Austin Soofi’s absolutely brilliant Nobody Can Love You More: Life in Delhi’s Red Light District. He creates an emotional connect with the people who populate his pages – right from the prostitutes to the pimp – without moralizing or philosophizing. And this is exactly what Kermorgant’s book lacks. It reads more like an essay on “this is why I could not present my documentary the way I wanted to – the reason: an Indian partner who could not overcome his prejudice against untouchables and devadasis.” And so, she portrays herself and only one of her translators as sympathetic to the devadasi cause, while everyone else was blinkered and blinded by their own prejudices. And while that may be true, her constant lament against them takes away from the hard-hitting story that this could have been.

The sad thing is that there are kernels of hard-hitting writing throughout, but they get lost in her larger narrative of the documentary shooting and editing process. Had she focused on the devadasis, telling us about their lives and their stories, the book would have had a much more profound impact.

Having said that, I would still recommend this book – just go into it knowing that there are hiccups to the tale.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but the review and opinions expressed are my own.