Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ah, LBSNAA!


 2nd July 2017 when I started from the Holy City to the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of ‎Administration, Mussoorie it was the mix of childlike joy and excitement and solemnity and serenity of my age that I carried along the rain soaked terrain. Memories of my father who had nurtured the dream of his daughters becoming leaders, his exhortations for officer-like-qualities and his handing over of this vision of training as an IAS at  LBSNAA, Mussoorie; the childhood reminisces of my mother accompanying my eldest sister Neelam Kataria to this place in 1974; the blurred black and white images of this place with beautifully written letters by our mentor sis to us-all this was choking me when suddenly the cool whiff from queen of hills startled me the moment I opened the window of the car and my heart leaped with gratitude to Him  when I entered precincts of ‎LBSNAA.

From the time of registration when room key was handed with the rucksack containing first of the four weeks schedule from 3rd July 2017, one thing got engraved instantaneously that there wasn't going to be anything casual or routine and the tough regime that we were briefed to follow seemed at the outset unpalatable. But the touch of professionalism in first 24 hours laid bare the nuances (the word favourite of Mr Mansoor H. Khan, the Course Coordinator!) of Induction training as a serious business which called for no lackadaisical approach! Naturally, the 'fear'  (real real) of lest- I-sleep-in-class or hope- I -wake -up -at 5 am -dot gripped initially. All the 62 colleagues who had gathered from 18 States and UTs of the country had served their respective states in varied capacities from 15 to 25 years were all surprisingly smartly inclined to follow the tough schedule in letter and spirit!

It felt strangely (and unbelievably) elating in the beginning being amidst the beautiful natural cool surroundings, refreshing breeze and mesmerizing monsoon rains in the hills away from the din of work place call bells and incessant buzz of phones. Naturally, when the Yoga instructor exhorted to repeat with him: 'Thank you, God I am healthy positive and perfect', the choral thanks exuded spontaneity and honest gratitude. 

The methodical approach, the meticulous planning of academic and group activities, the immense variety of experience sharing by the seasoned speakers and the richness of their content ‎made me marvel at my blessedness to be recipient and listener of  the best quality oratory and knowledge sharing. There is so much to learn and do and use in our day to day working in order to realize Tagore's dream of a country 'where the world is not broken into narrow domestic walls/where knowledge is free/ where head is held high and mind without fear' and also to pledge ourselves renewedly to realize 'the tryst with destiny' as Nehru pointed out in his maiden speech when India gained independence 70 years ago. The pioneer training institution LBSNAA is definitely the best in the country During the course of training I often wondered as to why the State Training institutions not design their course contents as professionally and qualitatively as LBSNAA. Is it dearth of money? Manpower? Will? Zeal and enthusiasm to emulate ? Or is it plain indifference and lethargic unprofessionalism?

The sensitivity with which the activities apart from intellectual inputs were planned bespoke of LBSNAA forte to take care of trainees' cultural and partying needs. The full- throated singing by the band during welcome dinner didn't let anyone hold back from the dancing floor! Who can forget the bliss of soulful sufi singing followed by a walk along the beautifully lit LBSNAA campus lanes? The engrossing performance by Zuber Hashmi was the treat we would always cherish.  

The shuffling of groups' seating and engagement through experiential learning modules on leadership, gender sensitization, negotiation ensured all participants' interaction with the co -trainees. The hard work and diligence of long hours and days in planning of the Induction course was evident. Salute to the training Coordinator! The mentors do not always need to speak or express their views but their invisible presence and watchfulness also imparts immense learning- true of the magnificent personality of the Director Ms Upma Chawdhry. I must confess that the scheduled exam caused a lot of restlessness and many of us missed dinner on eve of the final test for sincere and serious preparation.

The Bharat Darshan and Foreign Study Tour to Seoul, South Korea call for separate sharing being out of world (while being in thick of it!) experience.

On the eve of Valedictory, the informal get together which witnessed unprovoked expression of singing, dancing, mimicry ('of whom' is anybody's guess!) talent of the ‘dynamic eight’ put forth the curious mix of Tamil, Maharashtrian, Haryanvi,Hindi and Punjabi tidbits which lured laughter that was pure and the joy that was common! 

Thank you, LBSNAA, for everything.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Homecoming

'Country roads,take me home,to the place I belong...' ( A song sung by John Denever)




Home. It denotes a complete feeling‎; feeling of totality. No word is as positive and  beautiful as Home.

Home imbibes a place that one belongs to, that one has a longing for, that one looks forward to be in, a place one can so rightfully barge in, that one does not need to knock the door at nor ring the bell of, a place like sanctum sanctorum of worship where one can cry or be at peace  without an asking, a place that equates all the wealth of the world and a place that all the riches cannot buy. 

Home also means the presence or feel of persons whom one loves and belongs to as a matter of course. It is usually the persons who have the ability to instil the feel of 'at home' or homeliness; they enrich the place, make it a home and their affection, love, care and concern, protection and security exude the feel of a home.

I have been ruminating over ‎it since I started my journey to reach Abohar yesterday,the 20th May, 2017 for release of a short documentary on my parents: Gazab Ke Log

The release had been planned without much notice due to the scheduled departure of my sister Mridu for Germany. Thanks to whatsapp and mobile and to the affectionate Rajat, Amit who took on themselves the responsibility for all arrangements.  The Arodvansh Sabha President Mr Ashok Munjal liberally offered the premises of Sabha, a Community Hall saying: 'oh taan mere massiji see' . The media of Abohar had created a welcome environment with enthusiastic pre-event coverage.  We reached there just at the nick of time for the release of the film before the audience of two hundred people consisting of family, friends, teachers and relatives and Aboharians who had been associated with Mammi and Pitaji as parents of seven daughters living in street no. 7. It was like journey back home with parents who loved this place and would often say: East of West, Home is the Best!

Thanks to Parveen Sharma and Keshav Mehta who captured the spirit that Gazab Ke Log imbibed and sensitively delineated the ‎essence in 25 odd minutes! And yes, it felt great to be recognised as children of Gazab ke Log in the land of their and our belonging: Abohar (Punjab). The emotional receiving of the short film was overwhelming indeed. 

Its Homecoming with a difference!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The internal aura and energy audit



Ever since Balaji, the Pranic Healing teacher taught me aura and energy scanning, I have became conscious of positive and negative of energies as to how and what kind of energies are emitted by places and persons. How we ourselves emit and transmit the negative energies more forcefully, successfully; how our positive energies are more often than not vulnerable to slightest provocation and we tend to fall prey to the negativity and assert in rude, demeaning, violent manner.

From childhood we are made to understand and learn what is bad and what is not good or good. Throughout, life teaches through hard Time sometimes,sometimes gently through others' perspective, experiences, satsang, sumiran ‎how we can better ourselves, nurture positivity, create goodwill et al. But the negative emotions like anger, irritation, cribbing, judging are like ever ready satanic forces to take command over us and rule us. When the 'spell' is over, we repent, feel small and sorry, regret but often, it is too late to mend and the damage is done. Anything which we do not like, fancy irks us and thats the turning point. 

Our physical being bears direct impact of positive or negative energies and accordingly our aura, too.‎ Just imagine or visualise how we look when we are angry or else happy, at peace -the difference is conspicuously clear and visible. In the same manner we feel good, energetic, high spirited when positive and juxtaposed to it, feel tired, fatigued, lost, zero, withdrawn, exhausted when faced with negativity.

Understandably, it is not always a matter of choice. We do tend to become football of others' opinions, doings, behaviour, demeanour. The realisation of this 'weakness' to let ourselves go the way we are led adds to our misery. At the same time, it is difficult and very challenging to be 'in command' always, all the time, in come-what-may circumstances!

There are no thumb rules but yes, trigger points need to be watched with care and concern when faced with negativity. We cannot and should not 'wear the faces to meet the faces that we meet' but ‎giving ourselves a moment to pause and ponder may save us from anger and irritability which are always at our beck and call.

The responsibility of internal audit of our own aura and energies is solely ours. Others can only judge us and carry the impressions we create before them till whenever.‎ At the end of the day, the aura we emit faces us and makes us squirm with discomfiture if we have been negatively inclined during the day or else pleases us,pats us with 'shabaash', makes us smile and rejuvenates us with store of accumulated  positive energies for a tomorrow which in either case is going to be better, full of energy as long as there is sun in the sky.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

SHRAADH


The months of transitional weather are a bit difficult. There is something in the air we breathe that  unsettles. On one hand the mornings are more fresh,less sweaty, provoking and inviting to revel in walk or workouts. On the other, the feel of 'pitr paksh' slows down, emits low energy. 

'Shraadh'- the very word connects one fondly to the dear departed and naturally brings forth the hordes of memories which make one acutely conscious of the 'disconnect' in flesh and body and hence emanates sadness, melancholy‎. The exhortations for  pilgrimage, performing rituals, jap , yagna , daan or visit to the places of worship or satsang / katha during this period  make sense if viewed from perspective of creating a 'connect' with what is beyond us beside providing requisite healing to the undefinable malaise. 


Despite the low-dom, the days are precious being exclusively meant for purgation and catharsis through remembrance, offering of  Brahman bhoj, tarpan and other rituals which we do not even think of in normal parlance. Its natural to feel the conspicuous presence in absence of the noble souls who have been our parents, kin and now are in category of pitr or ancestors. I have little knowledge of importance of all the rituals attached with 'shraadh' but what I very vividly remember is that even in the days of penury, the halwa and kheer were prepared in big quantity and offered to whomsoever we could as it meant offering it to ancestors. I feel its very important to pass this tradition on to the young as did our parents. There is so much of healing in feeling gratitude as a child, a member of the clan. It is difficult to recall the names of great grand father/mother because we hardly ever make efforts to know about them but atleast 'we are made to' remember them exclusively during this period alone! 

Somewhere we can feel their 'ancient, glittering eyes' blessing us from the skies above and never mind the lump in the throat as thats human, thats what being alive means as a cog in the chain of generations. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Three Four- Thirty Four


In the wee hours of 28th August, 2016  I realised that I have completed thirty four years of my career.

 On 28th August,1982 I had joined as Lecturer in English‎ in F.C. College, Hisar. The day was so exquisite, a dream come true, the dream of entering a noble profession that my father had always aspired for ; the dream of making my ends meet on my own, the dream of teaching literature‎ to students. Getting an opportunity to work is a blessing and I have always felt grateful to Almighty to endow me with the ability to walk on the track of serving while earning for my own well being. 

A year before that I had lost Pitaji but when I joined I could see his beaming eyes saying: 'mera chhewan puttar wee kamau puttar ho gaya'.

For seven long years I taught with zeal and enthusiasm. It was an era more of learning‎ through trial and error; learning as an individual  with responsibility of mentoring the  adolescents; learning as an amateur amidst experienced, grown up colleagues; learning as a woman with passion for doing things that could make the difference for the better in the surroundings she lived in. And it was great spell spread over seven years that I would always treasure with affection and nostalgia.

when I joined the Civil Services (allied) and became the maiden 'woman‎ bdpo', I suddenly realised that a safe, secure world of a college for women had been left behind.  I was initially made to feel that it wasn't the right decision but my family and friends/mentors hugely supported me. It was like entering a world where you are constantly 'watched'; a world where every inch of the ground beneath your feet has to be carved afresh. 

Getting into Haryana Civil Services (executive) was again a dream realised with His Grace. The challenges as a woman have continued but I have persisted on trying to do things sincerely, diligently, carefully and to say the least, with enthusiasm and positivity. My teacher's exhortation to follow the thumb rule :'To thine own self be true..'* has always stood by me  in good stead besides the Rotary Four way test.**

I used to feel sometimes that 'its a challenge' and I would roll up my sleeves  to put the best foot forward. Every kind of opportunity has made me feel 'now is the time..'. It has been a struggle at times to prove myself as a woman, as an individal with a purpose, as an Indian, as a  daughter of pitaji and ma- the patriots to the core.

 I must confess that the divine powers have always been kind (touch wood!) and enabled me go on despite all odds and hindrances paving way for better opportunities keeping intact the resilience and the zeal. Thank you, God.‎


With five and half decades on back, life has brought forth, gifted the superlative opportunity. I feel humbled and grateful. The days remaining may be countable but every day has 24 hours and the minutes and seconds are precious, valuable , worthy to be dedicated to my country and to the service of the country men.


*This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!


William Shakespeare

  • **Is it the truth?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Pehowa Feeling


Eleven years ago, ‎I got an opportunity to serve as SDM Pehowa, a small sub divisional town of Kurukshetra district with population of 33500 only (2001 census). The city is famous as pilgrimage consisting Prithudak Tirth where people from far and wide come to perform the last rites of their dear departed. The place is known for Saraswati river which runs East wards from here (Poorv vahini)

The very first site that I visited after joining‎ was the Saraswati channel from the siphon side near Guhla road where the JCB had started digging the 5100 feet long channel flowing in through the town. It was strange feeling, very different, very difficult to define but every bit positive. The Pehowa Saraswati Project was mammoth task which had been started and abandoned umpteen times as it was not a government project with any provision of funds. Besides, there was challenge of huge encroachments and flow of sewerage into the Holy channel. But it was the dream and aspiration all the residents of Pehowa that the work related to saraswati mayya should be done expeditiously, essentially, on priority basis. The well meaning representatives sharing this sacred mission exhorted me to take up this project  start the work (with zero balance!) and that mayya would take care of the everything!

‎I breathed then, for the first time, the Pehowa feeling! 

The project with estimated cost of Rs.  two crores‎ and estimated time of two years started with this exclusive Pehowa feeling. 


Pehowa is perfect symbol of ‎ religious and caste harmony with everyone joining in all religious 'prabhat feris' with equal fervor and enthusiasm. The tirth, too is visited by all people transcending the community and caste boundaries. Every section of the Pehowa society endorsed the project with unanimity and enthusiasm.

On the banks of Saraswati near Prachi tirth, in the scorching heat of June, Swami Gianand ji addressed the sangat exhorting them to contribute their mite in this gigantic task and at the end of the satsang handed over the offerings ('chadhaava') to me; the chief Granthi of Gurudwara Bohli sahib, the mahant of Sri Sangmeshwar Mahadev Mandir, Arunai, Baba Man Singh of Dera Sant Ishwar Singh , the Brahmin tirthodhhar sabha, the Mahants of all Akhadas and Deras that Pehowa is famous for came forward to support the cause. All the big and small social and trade associations enthusiastically participated. The individuals came forward to construct ghats, erect tubewells in memory of their ancestors. A renowned philanthropist of the area Shri Kailash bhagat ji single handedly contributed hugely for the project as it was his mission that mayya's work must be done come what may!

One fine day an old man in tatters came asking for SDM and handed tens of polythene packed remnants of langars' contributions for the peer as his mite for the mayya's  project‎. The amount he donated thus was worth a fortune and symbolic of the Pehowa feeling! 


The result was completion of the project at the cost of Rs one crore twenty five lacs in record nine months with public contribution of over seventy lacs besides the funds received from the discretionary funds of the then Ministers and the MP. The works included the concreting of both the sides after clearing of the whole length and breadth of the channel. The encroachers had voluntarily removed their unauthorized seize. No force ever had to be used for doing the needful. Thereafter, construction of the pavements, railings, pedestrian over bridges on the channel and installation of the street lights and sound system was completed. The channel started feeding the Prithudak tirth with fresh flow of water.  The sewerage had been laid to stop the flow of polluting water into the channel. In the evening, hordes of women and men could be seen enjoying walk on the pavements.

Once complete, the students, girl guides, scouts, teachers ‎painted the railings with police and administrative officials. 

The work initiated by a few people‎ became a movement and generated an electric aura. 

It has been over a decade but the Pehowa feeling kindles the ‎fire of immense positive energy.  It casts a magical spell of motivation. I feel determined to get up and go, achieve the impossible, tread the paths untrodden.  And when the going gets tough, the burthen of what-seems-difficult or almost-impossible, I turn to the Pehowa feeling, visit the place and the warmth and hospitality, the ever-readiness of Pehowians to join hands in whatever I propose to do makes the marching on easeful, rejuvenates me, blesses me with the aura of positivity and enthusiasm and I feel there is no room for despondency or desolation, hopelessness or dejection and the only way is the way forward and that my task is marching on!

 Thanks to all the people of Pehowa‎ who imbibe and exude the Pehowa feeling!