Skip to main content

The Year That Changed Everything

2011 is an unforgettableyear in my life. It tossed up challenges that I’d never had to face before in my whole life. It was like making tea, custard toast, chicken do pyaza and packing rotis with sabji but never getting a whiff or taste of any of it till the end of the day coz one’s got two hands and both hands were doing kitchen chores and endless tasks. Got the drift?

Well, perhaps it was inevitable that some of the bread got roasted instead of toasted. It was also inevitable that the year roasted and grilled a few friendships too. 


No, honestly, I’d give my best to all relationships but sometimes things don’t work out because, well, birds of a feather tend to flock together. So, I guess plain pigeons don’t really stick with the eagles. Know what I am saying? And don’t place bets on whether I’m a pigeon or an eagle. 

So, between flying low and keeping close to home as well as juggling lots of work, it happens that I had to prioritize my peace of mind over everything else. 

Hell, it hasn’t been an easy year. But I learned to make decent food in little time. Now, isn't that something? Don't laugh, ok?

You should try the sinfully simple custard toast I make. You’ll dump decent food forever.

Isn’t that a temptation huh?

The Storms of 2011
In Orhan Pamuk’s book Other Colours which is basically a collection of his writings and essays, there is a chapter titled “After the Storm,” he writes.

 “It is in times of violence, times of storms, that we remember we all live in the same world. Later still, as I was looking at broken branches and bicycles that had been thrown from their resting places, this came to my mind too: When a storm hits, we don’t just understand that we live in the same world, we begin to feel as if we are all living one and the same life.”

2011, for me, was definitely a year of turbulent storms. Nope, my arms aren’t broken branches yet.

Adi’s bicycle is not broken.

I haven’t been thrown out of home yet.
  
But then, ‘what storm is she talking about’ is what you are wondering, right?

Storms that matter and leave an impact happen from within. They hit you the hardest because they have the power to. The power comes from within.

Remember, You are tested where it hurts most
From the written works of spiritual masters, I’ve read that you are tested where it hurts the most. For me, relationships matter a lot be it in real life. And that’s exactly where God chose to test me. I’d give myself a just-pass.

Gratitude & Thanks 
As the year ends and a new year begins, I believe in the ancient spiritual law that says, “The more grateful you are, the more will be given unto you.”

My humblest pranams at the lotus feet of my beloved lord and best friend, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba for His love and constant guidance. Without His love, 2011 would have seen me crumbling, spiritually. Bhagawan's love, compassion and guidance has permeated my life for over three decades. All my family members are grateful to Him for His tremendous love shown towards us. Thank you, Swami.

For those who are cynical, let me tell you that ‘faith can move mountains.’
Each to his own spiritual path.

I am thankful to my family and all my friends whom I know personally, then on Facebook, and Twitter for their love, patience and understanding.  I am grateful to you all for reading my blog, spending precious time to comment as well. It helps me to grow as a better person and I am so glad that we are connected through this blog. Thank you, dear reader and friend. Your encouragement is what gives me the impetus to write whenever there is time. 

A Buddhist Prayer for Each and Every One 
In accordance with the famous meditation prayer that the Buddha taught His followers, I too offer that to you and your loved ones:

By the power and truth of this spiritual practice
May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the causes of happiness
May they be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
May they never be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering and
May they dwell in the great equanimity that is free from attachment and aversion.


As rightly spoken by Avvaiyar, “What we’ve learned is like a handful of earth, what we are yet to learn is like the whole world.


Wishing you all greater happiness, prosperity and well-being in 2012.

Stay blessed always.

Comments

hi swapna, nice recap..

@No, honestly, I’d give my best to all relationships but some relationships don’t work out because, well, birds of a feather tend to flock together.

:) good description..

Wish u a happy new year..:)
Raji said…
Well written Swapna! Wishing you a happy, peaceful, blessed and wonderful new year!!!
Vidya said…
a wonderful recap.. Wish you a happy, peaceful 2012!
Priya said…
Happy new year wishes Swapna, regarding ur q'n about pulao,u can prepare them very well,but just before adding rice, add the yogurt and water mixture,bring them to boil and add the soaked rice, if you prepare this way,you wont risk anything..Also ur pulao will turn out prefect as like mine,hope this helps..
Thanks Pramoda, Raji, and Vidya for the warm, caring wishes. Wishing you all a fantastic year in 2012 too!

Priya, thanks a ton for sharing the tip with me. I LOVE your recipes and they've helped when inviting people over for lunch/dinner. Your recipes are 100% guarantee that it will turn out great. Thanks for commenting and for sharing that tip once again! Have a great year ahead!

Most Popular Posts

The Ugly Truth about Caste in Kerala

This post on Kerala's caste system has not been written with an intention to ridicule or glorify any caste as such. I do not ever judge or like to be judged on the basis of my caste. I do not support any form of caste discrimination because I know exactly how it feels to be treated differently because of one's caste. It isn't a great feeling.  

First Question is always "What is your Caste?" In Kerala, one of the first things you are bound to be asked by even new people you've just met is, "What is your caste?"  This is not a tirade against any caste but my experience, personally. And just for information, I have never used my caste name 'Menon' to this day. That is something I have learned from my father - who has never used 'Menon' in his name because he believes his destiny is shaped by values, vision and actions, not  by his caste.
As some one who is a Menon by birth, I can also tell you frankly that it often feels like a curse to be…

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Meaning, Benefit of Chanting and Who can Chant the Mantra

There are very few mantras that are as powerful as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Benefit of chanting this mantra
This mantra is believed to have the power to remove all sufferings, diseases and bestow the one who chants it with good health and long life. It is also believed that constant contemplation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help spiritual aspirants to overcome the cycle of birth and death.
What got me fascinated about this mantra is something personal.  I learned this mantra from my father but it is my maternal grandmother who chanted it all the time and repeatedly told me of its tremendous power to protect. However, I did not chant this mantra regularly. 
But at the age of two, my son was taught some mantras by my mother who explained what it means to him and he became very enthusiastic about chanting the mantras. Following this, my mother taught him the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and he took to …

Amazing Signs You are an Earth Angel

Doreen Virtue’s book, “Assertiveness for Earth Angels” brings to life the reality of Earth Angels in very easy way. It’s an exciting must-read! [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

Earth Angels have amazing super powers in: MusicArtsWriting HealingManifesting miracles for others such as controlling weather conditions &  becoming invisible at will
DO READ: ASK MORE, FEAR LESS.

How to Identify Earth Angels by their Traits
To know whether you are an Earth Angel, take a look at their known traits that are explained in this book:


You have a graceful and compassionate aura that inspires people.Your presence “lifts” everyone to happier spirits – it is proof of who you really are.You don’t judge others but you overdo the “acceptance” bit. So, you tolerate even those who show no respect for boundaries.You cannot stand anyone suffering or being in pain. You are constantly “rescuing people” because it is in your nature to want to see everyone happy in this world. But y…

Gayatri Mantra as Panchamukhi: Get it right or let it go

Most people do not understand the importance of chanting the Gayatri mantra because they are not aware of its power. It is only when I began to read Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's teachings that I learned how sacred and powerful the chanting of the Gayatri mantra is.
The Vedas represent the breath of God. The Gayatri mantra is the very basis of the Vedas. Try not to undertake chanting the Gayatri mantra as a light endeavor or as a hobby. It has to be chanted with faith, discipline and purity of mind and body. Be steady with your sadhana if you want to reap the spiritual dividend associated with the Gayatri mantra  and never once hesitate once you decide to do it.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba said that the Gayatri Mantra is referred to as Pancha Mukhi, the Goddess with five faces that represent the five pranas or life forces. Here's more on it.


Chant the Gayatri Mantra correctly: Pause Five Times Here are some important things to keep in mind while chanting the Gayatri mantra:

1. Wh…

Mahashivaratri: I'm loving it!

When I was a child, Mahashivaratri bhajans used to be conducted at home. It meant 24X7 work for my parents, especially my mother. But this is the one festival that we loved to get ready for. 
You had to prepare in advance for hosting so many people overnight. They had to be comfortable yet alert because no one who stays can be allowed to fall asleep unless they are unwell or on medication. So, if there were aunties who wanted to take a ten-minute nap, I would time it and call them exactly in ten minutes!
The joy of watching grown-ups make a fool of themselves over getting few more minutes of sleep cannot be underestimated especially when you are ten or twelve years old!
Perhaps it is those beautiful growing up years that make it difficult for me to stay away from an all-night vigil during Mahashivaratri. I can't stay away from it no matter where I am, even if the following day is a working day. This year too, I attended the Mahashivaratri bhajans at the Sai Center, Lodhi Road, and I …

Say a little prayer for me in the language of love

Recently, I saw the blurb of a book which asked, "How many of you (Hindus) have seen the inside of a Muslim home and how many of you (Muslims) have seen the inside of a Hindu home?" The question provoked a spark of anger in me because I do not view relationships through the prism of caste, community or religion.

However, I understand what the distinguished writer was trying to say - we are so insulated in our ways that even when we talk about tolerance, we still don't dare step beyond the boundaries of our community, caste or religion. 

When I say this in North India, I am told, "You have only read about Partition. You haven't lost a family member or seen a tragedy unfold before your eyes - it's easy for you to talk like this." Maybe...

However, one of the many advantages of having grown up outside India and then during my teens, in Kerala, is that I never learned the social distinction between "Hindus"and "Muslims." There was never &qu…

Malayalam Actress Kalpana: Keep Shining Your Light among the Celestial Stars

A colleague called out to me, from the news desk, "Did you see this breaking news, Swapna?"

I froze when I saw the breaking news that read: "Kalpana dead."

My first thought was, "There's been some mistake, this can't be true." 

But this news turned out to be true. 

Many actors in the Malayalam film industry are still in a state of shock on hearing this news. People from all walks of life are paying emotional tributes to her. She was an accomplished actress but that's not the only reason why people love her. She mingled with people easily and warmly. She showed love and warmth to everyone she met. 

Like hundreds of Malayalam movie goers, I too grew up watching many of Kalpanachechi's comedy sequences. 




Charlie was her last film, she had a heart wrenching role in it as 'Queen Mary'.  I had closed my eyes in the scene where she embraces death. 

As actor Prithviraj tweeted, "What a sign-off in Charlie!"


My brother Manoj B Menon is li…