Monday 1 December 2014

Thoughts when I was in the hospital.

I always boasted that I never get bitten by mosquitoes. People around me would be clapping their hands and hitting themselves and scratching while I sat unaffected by the dreaded insect. But all that changed. A fortnight ago, I was diagnosed with dengue and later hospitalized for 5 days. Dengue is known to be fatal in some cases, and in my case, while there were moments when I thought "Is this the end?" Well, these are a few thoughts that crossed my mind lying in the ICU. Even before I went to the hospital the high fever, nausea and extreme chills had battered my body. Somehow I did not pray to God to cure me. I did ask healer friends to send me healing energy and when I couldn't take the pain and bodily distress, I just prayed for help to cope with the pain. I was admitted to the ICU because my blood platelet count had gone dangerously low and a transfusion had to be done 5 times. Somehow when the body is completely worn out, I realized there is amazing clarity of thought. And there was little else to do apart from thinking lying with tubes fit all over your body.

The doctors were worried that there may be an internal haemorrhage because I was vomiting blood and there was bleeding in the gums. Again the thought came to my mind "Am I going to die?". Surprisingly there was no fear of death. Although the conditioned behavior would be to plead to God to help and save you, I did not feel like praying for that. I asked myself why am I not praying to God to save me. I got 2 answers. The first one was that for the last 2 and half years I've lived life passionately. I infused everything I did with passion on a day to day basis. I loved, ate, traveled (well, that could have been more), painted, read,  spent time doing everything I loved. I also cried, fought, hated, sulked, but so what? All these are part of my human experience. I had no regrets because I was fully aware of what I was doing. Even if I lazed around I did that passionately and fully aware of it and loved it. Another thought that occurred to me while at the hospital was that since the last 3 yrs or so I had chosen to interact and spend time with people who nourish me energetically rather than drain and deplete my energy, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. And that I was happy about.  

The second reason why I did not ask God to save me was that I've read extensively on life after physical death and I knew it would be a continuation of life. So there was no fear. I was thinking if I asked God to save me and if He does, would I then call him the merciful God or the Kind God, and if he does not save me would I then label him as the merciless one? Is not life and death part of life as whole? Then why should I plead for life or label God depending on whether he extends my life. I decided I would just be an observer and see what happens to me. But one thing I had resolved in the ICU. And that is if I lived I would take the passion quotient a few notches higher and live life more fully. All that matters is the zest for life and to live each day as if it is your last. I also resolved to focus more on things that matter rather than fretting over petty things.

I'm really thankful to people who came to donate blood in the middle of the night, who visited me at the hospital and even now. Thankfully, I'm recuperating well and people who have been visiting me at home say that they did not expect me to look so healthy. One thing I realized is no matter how weak the body, the spirit within is invincible and that makes all the difference. Here I am, writing the thoughts that crossed my mind in the hospital and totally loving every bit of life..:-) 

Friday 14 November 2014

Buying from Tribal Artists.

Recently I attended an Art fair where artisans from all over the country had assembled to display their art and handicraft. Most of these artisans were from remote tribal areas which are so rich in Art that it is a way of their life. These included Gond artists from Madhya Pradesh, Madhubani from Bihar, metal workers from Bhuj, Dhokra from Chattisgarh, etc. 

I was at a stall buying some Dhokra neck pieces. Now for people who don't know about Dhokra art, there are intricately made metal pieces where molten brass is poured into moulds and then baked and polished. It is quite a lengthy procedure. There was this other lady too who had picked up some pieces. The cost of each neck piece was Rs 160. Now, anyone would agree that it is really cheap. I saw this lady bargaining with this tribal artist. I politely intervened and told her that considering he has come all the way from a remote village in Chattisgarh and factoring in all the overhead expenses, it is very little that would get and Rs 160 is indeed very cheap. She immediately got the point and bought it at the actual price.

Now why am I writing   this? I realized that not many people would know the effort that goes into hand crafting a piece of art. Ever since I've started creating and selling hand crafted items, I'm even more appreciative of other artists especially the tribal  ones. They are so unassuming about their art. They live in difficult conditions and still create astounding pieces of art.

So if I may make 2 requests here. One is avoid bargaining with artists, because by experience I know it is very difficult to price your own creations and for many that may be the only source of sustenance. May be one could just ask politely if they can reduce the price just once if you really can't afford it. But haggling over the piece of art makes the artist very uncomfortable. Secondly, try to buy directly from artists as far as possible. From my own experience of selling through various stores, most of which charge a commission of 40%, I feel really happy when people directly buy from me. I'm able to sell things at a discounted price and yet able to make a decent profit. 

And I'm sure it's the same with other artists too. Most people would not know this. Please do not mistake this as an indirect hint to buy from me. I'm talking about artists in general. Most artists would bless people who buy their art which transforms the energy of the place. I surely do. So please be more kind and considerate towards artists. Art brings smiles to faces and delights the heart. Let's help spread that..:-)

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Happiness!- From the Simplest of Things!

My husband and I were driving down a road when we stopped at a signal. To our right at a little distance there was some construction work going on with a few labourers working and a few of their children playing nearby.  There was a large blue plastic sheet spread on the road, probably used in construction (not sure!). Four laborers came and held each corner of the plastic sheet and lifted it probably to shake off the dust or dry it. This caused a kind of rippling wave like effect on the sheet. Seeing this, the labourers' children jumped up and down clapping their hands and laughing happily. I thought to myself that these children probably have been out the whole day in mud and cement at the construction site, probably wouldn't have eaten stomach full, yet just the sight of the plastic sheet going up and down saw them dancing in delight. That's a wonderful lesson that dawned on me. Happiness can be found in everything, in the smallest of things, only if I allow myself to be open to it, to discover and delight in the magic that everything is! 

Wednesday 16 April 2014

My Tryst with Pollinating Vanilla Flowers.

Last year in April, I was scouting for places to volunteer for coffee (berry) picking, but I was told that coffee harvesting ends by February and that in would be time for vanilla pollination in March and April. Well, I just read vanilla and screamed 'yes' over email. Out of the 10 odd places I had enquired for volunteering, only Sujata Goel from The Rainforest Retreat responded promptly. She had looked up the links on my signature in the email and asked me if I could do some art work in any of the cottages and that was like the icing on the cake for me :-) 
Me pollinating a vanilla flower
But now about vanilla pollination. Vanilla is native to South America and the pollinators for the flower are humming birds. In India, somehow the conditions have not been conducive to humming birds and plantation owners have not been successful in rearing them. So humans have to hand pollinate the flowers. I was really excited and looking forward to playing the role of the humming bird and imagining that beautiful vanilla beans would break out from the flowers that I would pollinate. 
Vanilla flower before it is pollinated

The glorious vanilla creeper
On the first day, Ravi, an amazing soul and staff, at the Retreat took me to the area where vanilla creepers grew. He handed me a toothpick and demonstrated how it is done. So, to explain it simply, there is a little hood like thing inside the vanilla flower which needs to be ripped with the toothpick, the flap of which needs to be moved upward dexterously with one's thumb, and there's a distinguishable stalk called the anther which needs to be pushed against the stigma (inside of the hood) with the toothpick and then pressed down again with one's thumb. All this gets over in maybe 3 seconds and one needs a steady hand for this. For the first 2 flowers my hands were shaky because the flowers are so fragile and I had to be really sure what I was poking the toothpick into. 

Every morning I would spend around an hour looking for flowers that have bloomed and must be pollinated. The flowers last only for a day and must be pollinated in that window, preferably before noon. They also do not smell anything like vanilla. They are rather odourless. If they are successfully pollinated they wither on the stalk, or else they just drop to the ground. 

Vanilla beans.
It can take upto 3 years for a vanilla creeper to bear flowers. Once the flowers wither after successful pollination, it transforms into a vanilla pod. It is these green pods which are plucked and subject to a lengthy 3 month process before it becomes what we are familiar with in our kitchens. 

So happy I got this opportunity to be a Nature fairy to the vanilla creepers..:-) 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...