Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mr Narayanan's Oasis of Healing On Sterling Road

i wonder if many of us really believe in making a difference or we just mouth big words. Cause if we did, things around would start looking good everywhere,  isn't it ?
Sometimes it's just passion for something and while indulging in that passion, driven by self interest one is able to contribute in a way that the passion of the self becomes an object of admiration and adoration of others too.
Like for this Officer i know although not very closely but yes,  am familiar with,  to a certain extent. This gentleman i am told is passionate about gardening and health and here by health i don't mean about the workouts in the gym or following a monotonous exercise routine coupled with diet but something that is obtained naturally.
Following a good healthy vegetarian diet, attending office regularly and actually working before using the leisure and the resources at his disposal for indulging in gardening. That's how i would describe from what i know of Mr G Narayanan, the Principal Chief Engineer with Southern Railway.
i don't know much cause i have not interviewed him about how he got to do what he just did to a small patch of derelict land, which was used by  passers by either just as a connecting shortcut to the club and by many as place to relieve themselves when nature called, into an oasis of sorts. Not any common oasis with fragrant and ornamental plants but an oasis that is supposed to HEAL.
And so appropriately it is called THE HEALING GARDEN.

Sandwiched between the Railway apartments and the Railway Club this patch of land which i would judge to be something like 50 feet x 100 feet, is now one of the spots that i take my guests to,  first and foremost as soon as they arrive and have shown the slightest inclination of taking a look around.
What i have to say to them with some sense of pride,  this time i'd like the pictures from my cyber shot to convey.


 As you pass the calming shade of the huge canopied trees along the cobblestone pathway you would be greeted with the aroma of the various herbs that border the fence of the garden. The most striking being that of Basil...not only of Holy basil but the basil used for flavouring food.
Instructions on the board which give you an idea about the gradient and how to walk the garden is next.
 For novices like me this was helpful because i thought the entire garden was created at the same level and could not sense with my distracted mind, the gentle gradient that suits walkers of all age.

 The walking pathway is so designed to encompass the entire garden while absorbing all the benefits be it the energy emanating from the trees and shrubs or the added knowledge about the so many herbs...the name...it's uses...curative powers...and last but not the least about the procedure to use these herbs.


The garden is a melange of more than 25 varieties of herbs some of which i have just given the pictures of. In fact one of these days i am planning to take a slow stroll to actually count the varieties and try and go through each one of them. Most probably Giloy ( Tinospora ) should be one among them. Now that i know that this particular herb is so useful when one is down with Dengue fever.
The entire garden is not only a haven of herbs but has a few very important spots that should relieve one of stress if at all you believe in the therapy that nature provides.

For sitting on the neem (Margosa) plank you can allow colour therapy to work on you. Each colour supposed to energise a particular gland. The instructions on the board should tell you as to how long you should view the colours and which one will activate your pineal, pituitary or thyroid gland...
Sitting at the same place you can relieve yourself of stress...emotional or otherwise  by acupressure on palms.
And when you feel like walking you might want to give at least one try at acupressure on your soles. It is easy for not only are all instructions given but also that you can choose from the the two patches of gravel. Choose the one that you feel comfortable with and there you are with some healing done through the soles of your feet.

Then another slightly raised platform deserves a mention here of that area facing east where you can let the energy of the sun work through your eyes into your entire system. The exact spot...the specific time and the duration for which you should look at the sun directly as it appears in the early morning sky. 

The entire area is a rich splash of manicured greens that heal and if not for anything i love to walk around and am quite entertained although in a very special way with the panorama of heavy traffic passing by and the new knowledge that slowly is finding it's way into my brain without much effort on my part. For looking around and casually sitting on the neem plank i don't even hear the sound of traffic sometimes. At other times i get quite taken aback with beautiful creatures like these.
At the outset i would like to make an observation. i've seen many officers come and go but this gentleman who i know not much of, will be one inspiring one. While many use their hobbies and resources to indulge for self recreation this gentleman gave our six apartments something which shall be cherished by all the residents. This particular busy man used his post and privileges to create a haven on a small dull and dark piece of land which once emanated the smell of urine and garbage. It was also an area where cheap rascals congregated to indulge into their vices and sometimes make the path feel very unsafe.
 His hobby proved to be a boon to all of us and that's the way it should be. 
Just like everyone else he could've used his knowledge, skill and resources to beautify the bungalow he was inhabiting but instead worked relentlessly with his bevy of not so many trained workers and the others under him for more than six months to create a clean, well maintained, herbal garden where all of us see ourselves into, once in a while. Although the best benefits could only be had if we are more disciplined like him to get up early and take the stipulated 30 minutes walk around the garden, nevertheless it is there; rich and resplendent getting more and more attractive each day...beckoning us to shake our lazy bones and rush into it's healing, and comforting hug . 
Anne Frank said this somewhere in her diary about making a difference and there is a ton of wisdom in what  that very young girl said.
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.  ~Anne Frank

And it was Tolstoy who said that Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

i cannot quit without saying... Mr Narayanan may your tribe increase and i sincerely hope that whoever comes next in your seat understands deeply the efforts taken and the benefits realised and is keen enough to look after and nurture the garden in the same fervor as you. Thank you very much indeed!! 

The gardener on duty Shri Vijayan was kind enough to give me some time to shoot as he waited patiently till i got over without hurrying me and beating me down with fierce Tamil that it was his time off and he was already late for his lunch. My sincere thanks to Shri Vijayan too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Promises To Keep

Since i have really no one around to patiently listen to my BHADAAS ( pent up anger, frustrations) i shall very easily take refuge and rant not against the wall but on my blog.
Some geriatric care has been dumped on my head when i should have happily planned my 25th wedding anniversary.
Not that i am a mean character but when your guests turn out to be like those scheming manipulative characters from the Indian TV soap opera you are at a tremendous loss if you don't have a neat pal around to listen to your tales of woe. Because i am the kind who just needs a patient listening to problems that i know can NEVER be resolved.
Am i sounding like a negative person? Can't help it at this juncture because my own life has been a workshop of sorts which has taught me a few very important lessons.
Lessons that i just learnt by rote while at school but have come to understand well enough the meanings of , through my own trials and tribulations.
Something like, " Doosht na chhoday dushtata
                          Nahin kahoo sukh dait
                          Dhoya hoon sau bair kay
                          Kajal hoyay na shwait.''
Am actually forgetting which one this is...whether it is by Kabir , Rahim or Tulsi Das but quite capable to give my own simple explanation.
Which is that no matter how hard you try,  you can never change people with an evil bend of mind. No amount of your service or goodness can ever make them clean. A piece of cloth that has been soiled by kohl never gets it's original whiteness back. Even when you try to clean it hundred times it remains a piece with a smudge.

i try and try to keep myself stable...to ignore but hopelessly fail in my attempts and the annoyance starts building up to such an extent that i start oozing out malice with a timid stench.
Let me explain...what i mean.

These geriatrics who are now with me are a classic example of what we know as HYPOCHONDRIACS.
If they are not bad mouthing their daughter-in-laws or not watching the soap operas on Colours (TV Channel) one after the other, then the only thing that they talk about or are concerned with is their HEALTH.
The onus of which falls on my head or the poor new recruit who is still an apprentice under my tutelage.
Health for a lady who is a huge 5ft 8 inches and weighs 70 kgs. And health for her man who looks a measely 65kgs and is 6ft tall.
So practically from the time one should be seen to be having a relaxed morning cuppa with the newspaper you will find these two following a diet that should put all the health clinics to shame. One look at their time-table chart and you will know that i am not exaggerating.
7..in the morning... Sprouts...which also has soaked peanuts, almonds and whatever dry fruits that you have on the kitchen shelf for your desserts. Plus one apple and two Goodday biscuits.
To be followed by a cup of tea.
8-8.30 a glass of freshly squeezed juice. (The more expensive the fruit the better the taste of the juice).
9.30 breakfast... the good balanced South Indian breakfast of either Dosa, Sambhar Chutney or Rava Upma Chutney and when they feel heavy just Idli , Sambhar Chutney. Of course to be followed by some fruit which should not be a repeat of the 7 o' clock fruit.
A change of an English breakfast with toasts, eggs and juice is desired on alternate days,  now that they have a new set of dentures to chew the deliciously smelling butter soaked crisp hot toasts.
11. is the time reserved especially for a glass of Milk with either Horlicks or Badam Mix whichever is available.
1.30  Lunch comprising Rice, Dal, 2-3 vegetables, salad and a bowl full of yoghurt with sugar.
4  tea with two biscuits
7...in the evening a slight snack of sandwiches/ bajjis/noodles or any new hot snack that you can offer.
9.30  Dinner with Phulkas, vegetables and Dal and one dessert made of milk be it rice kheer or vermicelli kheer or even fruit custard.
10  before bedtime a glass of milk once again with Horlicks or Bournvita.
The routine is practically the same everyday with slight changes in the lunch in which twice a week instead of vegetables, non -vegetarian dishes are preferred not only to break the monotony but because it is good for health and will provide them with the much needed proteins and strength.
Pretty impressive isn't it.
Now with all this brouhaha over food the entire day along with a commendable sense of hygiene and punctuality it is ironical that the lady complains that there are times she experiences extreme weakness of the sort that she feels giddy and finds it difficult even to get up from the bed.
Or you should see her kind concern for her man whom she says is experiencing a gradual loss of weight.

i want to scream my lungs out, '' For heaven sakes you are fine, just getting a bit old that's all.''  But i can't and the frustration starts building up.
i begin to hopefully anticipate indigestion which happens on following a rich diet with a sedentary lifestyle but NO with hypochondriacs like these that could be doomsday for me.
For when even a common cold turns the house upside down think what indigestion for them would do to me and my poor chappie who is seen perpetually hovering around either them or the kitchen.
Also for me my countenance will project uneasiness, irritation and huge amounts of sadness.
i look like i am suffering with incontinence, indigestion and what not.
See what i mean by timid malice now.
Not that i am proud to say it but on the contrary i feel small and guilty.

i begin to feel scared too about my own self. i start to question myself... say 10 years from now will i be the same.
Will i stop all that i  do...the wonderful things that i do that keep me so satisfied mentally and instead torture everyone around me with a fanatic focus on routine,  food and cheap gossips?
Will i respond to my son's long distance hello and his enqiury about my well being with a perfunctory, " Just rolling on...somehow... ."
Will i make a simple ache and pain sound like a life threatening ailment that needs a proper scan ?
And when i have a  laser cataract surgery...will i announce to the world that the doctor has advised me to keep away from the heat of the gas stove?
And worse still will i run to my son overseas to get my dentures done...after tormenting him with the sordid details on phone as to how pathetic my life has been without enjoying something as basic as a simple meal of dal roti which now i have to slurp instead of chew?
i question and answer them myself with a negative that is very very positive..."No i'd rather hang myself before doing all that".
i say this to myself but have serious doubts. For there are too many instances to prove that history repeats itself.
Someone had said this, " Age is like the newest version of a software- it has a bunch of great new features but you lost all the cool features the original version had."
Maybe in your twilight years you do become a health freak but whatever happens to your easy going carefree self...your sense to take it cool be it a loss of weight or even a bad headache ?
It must be fear then and a strong desire to live longer. Perhaps it could even be a simple ploy to grab the attention of kids who are too busy with their own lives than to make their folks an object of their affection.
i begin to mull over this and realise that the fear of ill health is closely linked with old age and fear of death.
That it may be a natural phenomenon then to indulge into self coddling and suffer from what i have just dubbed as hypochondria.

The fact is that soon even before i realise and accept,  there would be a deepening of the wrinkles but i'd rather that my wrinkle should have a twinkle instead of fear.
Wasn't it Brigitte Bardot who said, " It's sad to grow old, but nice to ripen."
So i have now promises to make for myself...hopefully to keep.
First and foremost i will try to remember growing old as a bad habit which i shall prevent from forming. And this i shall do by keeping myself busy and doing whatever i do...my plants...some embroidery...lots of reading...travelling...maybe even blogging...
Secondly and most importantly,  tomorrow morning i shall happily carry out the routines for my folks and will try my best to prevent that building up of my own timid malice. And instead of referring to them silently and otherwise as hypochondriacs say something like ' heightened illness concern' every time they raise a medical issue.
D.H.Lawrence and his words feel like a prayer to me...

Beautiful Old Age

It ought to be lovely to be old
to be full of the peace that comes of experience
and wrinkled ripe fulfilment.

The wrinkled smile of completeness that follows a life
lived undaunted and unsoured with accepted lies
they would ripen like apples, and be scented like pippins
in their old age.

Soothing, old people should be, like apples
when one is tired of love.
Fragrant like yellowing leaves, and dim with the soft
stillness and satisfaction of autumn.

And a girl should say:
It must be wonderful to live and grow old.
Look at my mother, how rich and still she is! -

And a young man should think: By Jove
my father has faced all weathers, but it's been a life!


And maybe i should register this Email in a manner that it stays put before forwarding it and later deleting it. This one arrived just on time to raise my sagging spirit which was getting more fed up than being tired.
The beautiful card with cute drawing,  gives tips on How To Stay Young And Happy.
1. Throw out non-essential numbers.
    This includes age, weight and height.
    ( Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay them).

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
    ( Keep this in mind if you are one of those grouches)

3. Keep Learning.
    Learn more about the computers, crafts, gardening, whatever.
    Never let the brain get idle.
    ' An idle mind is a devil's workshop'
     and the devil's name is Alzheimer's.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud.
    Laugh until you gasp for breath.
    And if you have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and lots of time with him or her.                                          

6. The tear happens.
    Endure, grieve and move on.    
    The only person who is with us our entire life is ourself.
    Live while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love.
    Whether it is family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever.
    Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health.
    If it is good preserve it.
    If it is unstable, improve it.
    If it is beyond what you can to improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips.                      
    Take a trip to the mall, even to a foreign country, but not where guilt is.

10. Tell people that you love them, at every opportunity.

And always remember; Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

The pink email card that banished my blues away the one i have just made note of... hopefully to follow it that way...
Thank God i have friends who reach out to me... just on time...regardless of a quid pro quo...

  Image courtesy: http://www.clipartguide.com/_search_terms/elderly.html