funny, life is…

Yeah I really doubt anyone reads this, but in the really odd chance that there’s someone out there bored enough to come to this blog I thought I’d just provide a little update.

I last wrote in February this year. That’s only 5 months ago. You wouldn’t Be-lieve how much has changed.

Well… Let’s start with the positives. I did complete my one year program at Ryerson University, I did move out into my own place and am paying my own bills, and I am preparing for my teacher training course starting in September.

What didn’t happen is the whole marriage thing. Yeah, that sucked big time but I’m totally over the guy and trying to move forward. I’m back to square one on that part, but I do have a few back-up plans cooking in my head that will have to be implemented in the event that that doesn’t work out. A woman always needs to have a plan! Oh, and I also didn’t join a gym. Ahem.

So basically, other than the social aspect of life, I have achieved or am in very near completion of my goals of becoming settled in life. After this year of studying, I will be well on my way to a decent annual salary and career. Never thought I’d ever be saying that!

a new life…

I haven’t even posted anything on this blog since last June, a full 8 months ago, but someone reminded me of it by emailing a comment. And as I read back on old posts, I’m amazed at how much my life has changed in such a relatively short time.

I went to India, I had my wonderful pilgrimmage, I met a wonderful boy….

I’ve moved to Canada, earning a certificate in a couple more months, working part time, applied for the next, final academic year, and on the verge of getting my own apartment where I will join the gym and take up more devotional activities and hobbies.

It’s amazing how, if you sincerely ask Krsna for something, He will deliver. Not that He becomes our order-taker, because after all we are the servants and He is the master- but still, if you approach Him with humility and sincerity, I have found that He is very compassionate and kind. I can totally understand why He has sent us here to the material world- we wanted it, knowing of the consequences or not, and we sincerely thought it would do us good- and so He let us. So on the one hand, we can be assured that He will give us what we want, but at the same time we should learn from our past mistakes and really think if what we want will ultimately be good for us. That’s why, when I pray, I try to say that ‘if this is what You think will be good for me, or if this is what You want, then please XYZ’. So I’ve done that, and now I’m seeing what He’s sending and trying to always accept that as His plan.

Some things are still tough, I’m not gonna lie, but generally I’m MUCH happier than I was in the UK. And MUCH closer to my goal of getting on track with things, and more settled in life. A year from now, or even another 8 months from now, I can only imagine how much further things will have progressed!

show me the money

I don’t know if anyone even reads this, but in any case if anyone noticed that I haven’t written in awhile, it’s not because I’ve given up blogging. I’ve just been incredibly busy. We’re gettin down to the last 7 weeks in the UK and now I’m cramming in working, spending time with family and friends and trying to do some last minute things I wanted to do while still here. I’ll be going out into London on Wednesday with a friend and hope to catch some interesting photographs while there. Perhaps it’ll give me a topic to blog about!

Regarding my mission right now, things are going well and I feel I am progressing towards my goal nicely: ie., make money to get settled. At the same time I’m trying to learn not to hold onto what I earn too tightly lest I become tight-fisted and a bore to be around.

By the way, it’s not that I’m obsessed about financial issues- but I’m learning from mistakes that others have made in attempting to live so minimally that there is nothing left at the end when it’s needed the most. So I’d like to avoid that terrible and anxiety-ridden situation as much as possible. It’s just not worth it; better work hard now while I can.

tradition

Today is Friday and the family I’m looking after, being Jewish, are celebrating the Shabbat (or Sabbath). I was getting the kids ready for school this morning and they were so excited that tonight will be dinner at their Grandma’s house and that they will get to participate in the prayers and stuff. They do it every Friday so it’s nothing new for them, but still they were looking forward to it with so much enthusiasm which just goes to show the power of family and traditions.

I have a friend in Toronto whose family, for more than 25 years, have been hosting kirtan parties at their home every first Saturday of the month. There was usually a core group of people who would regularly attend (myself included), and they would invite new people all the time as well, so the dynamics were always fresh. They did the full shebang: kirtan, class, arati and great prasadam at the end in a relaxed atmosphere. Now normally boys of the family will avoid such events, much less participate and enjoy them, but my friend actually was running the whole show at one point. They would even schedule their holidays around these programs and it only stopped in the past two years because of major construction work on their house.

There is also a really sweet young family here at the Manor whose children jump out of bed in the morning to go to mangal arati. While most of us struggle to get up at such an insane hour, the mother and son come nearly every morning, go back home and bring the daughter back for deity greetings. This boy, at only 5 years old, was able to lead the Nrsimhadeva prayers on his own, without any help and with perfect pitch. He knows the whole morning routine like the back of his hand and does it all with pleasure, you can just see it on his little face. I can only imagine what’s in store for his devotional future! And on Sundays, the whole family comes for mangal arati. As the father said, they wanted to do this as a family for the children’s sake.

I would love to establish family traditions like this, once I have a family of my own. I think it’s really important to a child’s identity formation and self-esteem. Children of such stable families know that they belong somewhere and are active participants in something larger than themselves. It could be a daily, weekly, or monthly thing- the important part is regularity.

Although, I don’t have to wait for my own family to establish traditions. Once I get to Toronto, I will be going to the Sunday program regularly. I’d like to set a day once a week for trying out new recipes. I’d like to make it a point of being enrolled in some type of interest class, like arts/music/writing at least a few times a year. There is already a tradition amongst the Toronto youth of going down for New York City Rathayatra every year, and now it seems that the Festival of Inspiration is also high on the priority list. I intend to establish a routine of going to the gym a few times per week. There are things like this that I can do for myself while I wait for ‘the family’ to manifest.

I’m looking forward to it!

~Rasa

brown hands

Yesterday at the Radlett Festival, I noticed at one point that I had only seen one Indian person there apart from the volunteers associated with our tent and prasadam distribution stall. It’s odd; I don’t normally even notice whether or not there are Indians around, but when there aren’t any it suddenly becomes obvious and I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. Of course, I didn’t because most of us at the Festival were not white. On a day to day basis, I usually forget what I generally look like, what to speak of the fact that I’m Indian. But on days like yesterday, when I was putting gopi dots and sparkly tattoos on all these little white kids, suddenly I felt so brown. I’m not that dark compared to other Indian people, but when I’m trying to hold the arm of a little white kid still so the glitter doesn’t go everywhere, my hands look so old, dark and weathered.

I don’t know what to make of that!

~Rasa

hands

These hands are not mine.

Every now and then I catch a glimpse and wonder where they came from.

They are ever-changing, describing my past and predicting my future.

Yet, how do they belong to me when I don’t even recognize them?

I am not my hands.

blissfully busy

I fiiiiinnnnaaalllllyyyyy got a job.

It’s nothing fancy, just 5 hours a day helping one family that lives literally 1 minute’s walk from me. The mom broke her ankle really bad and can’t do anything she normally does (laundry, tidying up, taking care of 3 kids), so that’s where I’ve come in. The family is really nice: the kids are rowdy and playful with eachother but very respectful, well-behaved and sweet with adults, even their own parents (which is rare to see). The mother is really nice and down to earth, and I don’t see much of the dad, but he’s great with his kids. I’m just so happy to be busy after so long, and I’m still trying to fill up more afternoons as well. I know that some people who are always busy long to end up in a place where they don’t have any responsibility or stress (ie., nirvana or Brahmajyoti), but I say ‘Bring It On!!!’ Life is seriously boring without these anxieties. I mean, yeah it would be pretty hellish if you were just busy for the sake of it and not really going anywhere with it, but to be working for a goal, to have a purpose to all the craziness- it just turns into nectar, as they say! I just got a quote by text: “Man is not destroyed by suffering, he is destroyed by suffering without meaning.” (Viktor Frankl- I don’t know who that is, so don’t ask me! Google him) It’s so true; we know that pretty much everything in this material world is leading one to suffering, but if we understand it, accept it and work with it, then it becomes meaningful. And what worse thing is there than to lead a meaningless life? There are so many people who live without a sense of introspection and self-development that’s it’s scary. I should try to remember that and go out on sankirtan to help people realize they should think more about their actions, but I’m still too chicken to do it. Actually, it’s an over-inflated false-ego thing. I can admit it at least!

Another realization I’ve had is a reinforcement of what I already knew: that attachment grows through service. It’s such a simple dynamic of relationships actually, but so profound. I mean, every morning I see the older two kids for about 90 minutes. I get there, dress them both for school, give them breakfast, comb the little girl’s hair, put the little boy’s kippah and setseh (sp?) on and generally keep them moving until they leave. I dress the baby, feed him, play with him, hose him down when he’s lovingly left me a #2 in his diaper. And even though I’ve only been doing all of this for just a few days yet, I already feel an affection for these kids who I otherwise have no relationship to. I like talking about how cute they are and look forward to seeing them the next day. Perhaps I’m just living vicariously through the mother’s unfortunate circumstance, but I am actually enjoying having to run her house and I know I’d like it even more if it was my own house and my own kids. :o) Performing menial, personal service for another person really does make you love them. And how much sweeter it is to serve Krsna and our gurus personally, and to develop our love for them!

~Rasa

gramya katha

OK, ready for some serious Gramya Katha?

I don’t have a TV at home, but last night I was babysitting across the road and they have a pretty cool flat screen huge tv with Sky and everything. So I was watching the final episode of Britain’s Got Talent. I didn’t know it was going to be on, but I have seen many of the acts via YouTube and was just talking about it the other day with my cousins at a family get-together. I totally love watching talent shows, especially when there are people with real talent on, and especially when they’re kids. It just gets to me so much; I feel so happy for them that they’ve got something to be passionate about, and I also live vicariously through people like that. I really want to take up music again in some form, art/pottery classes, etc. Life is just incredibly boring without doing something creative (or blogging) and putting all energy into it. I was practically crying when Faryl sang, and when they announced George Sampson as the winner- he’s sooo cute! It’s too bad Signature didn’t get it, but hey, all the top ten acts got so much exposure that I’d be very surprised if they didn’t get great offers outside of this show. Anyway, so talented children ki jaya, all I need is a big box of Kleenex and a blankie and I’ll happily watch clips of them on YouTube for hours! Here’s a link to the well-deserving George Sampson’s winning act:

On another note, I’ve been following Oprah Winfrey’s little stint with Veganism, have you? She’s one week into a 21-day ‘cleanse’ which has come about in part because of her exploration of spirituality and discussions with Ekhart Tolle. I’m not a fan of Tolle or this whole New Earth movement he’s got going although I do have his first book, The Power of Now, on my bookshelf (given as a gift to me, and still yet unread), but if his philosophy has inspired possibly the biggest tv icon in America to try a Vegan diet- then hey, I’m 100% behind that. Only thing is, she’s taken it quite far to the other end and has cut out all sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and all wheat and I’m not sure that she’s clarified to the public that all that is not a requirement of veganism. Of course, being off alcohol and caffeine are great. :o) Anyway, she’s blogging how she feels and any realizations she’s having along the way and it’s all been very positive. It helps that she has Tal Ronnen, America’s super vegan chef at her disposal; so far she’s raved about every meat-dairy-wheat-sugar-alcohol-and-caffeine-free meal she’s had. I really think that this will give people cause for thought as to what they are eating themselves, and what they can do to become healthier. Not to mention the fact that Oprah’s decision to diet was clearly made as a result of her spiritual journey, perhaps other people who claim to be in touch with their souls will become inspired to acknowledge that their participation in the deaths of animals is detrimental to their enlightment- even if they don’t accept that animals have souls in their own right. I see this as making a huge step towards people taking vegetarianism and veganism much more seriously which will only bring positive results. Oprah’s influence on society ki jaya!

I hope my next blog post will be a bit more Krsna Conscious. :o)

~Rasa

back on track

I didn’t write for a few days because I was in a horrible way- moody, depressed, completely anti-social. You’d think I was having hot-flashes or something. Anyway, I’m getting back on track again and fired up about working and filling my time out really well until I leave for India/Canada. I don’t want to leave the UK on a sour note, so each day needs to count for something. Carpe Diem! It’s been serving me well as my motto for this year; I might keep it longer than a year!

Anyway, in keeping with Carpe Diem, I need to go to bed earlier. This burning the midnight oil for no good reason is wearing me out and I want to get into a better, healthier routine.

Also, I haven’t posted any prasadam pictures because I’ve been a little lazy with cooking for the past few days. Yesterday was a frozen pizza and puffy potato thingies, tonight was a really simple stir fry with tempeh, which didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. I didn’t realize it was pre-flavoured tempeh; it just ruined it for me. Anyway, I’ll give it another go some other time.

Today was my mom’s birthday and I finally did the good daughter thing and sent a nice bouquet, on time, with a card and everything. I’ve been kind of crappy at birthday things in the past for her, so it’s a bit of a relief to have done something right for once. I’ll be going over to see the family tomorrow, as Rajumama and Priscilla are emigrating to New Zealand on Saturday, where Priscilla is from, and there’s a big going away party. Practically everyone I know is fed up of the UK. I’m just glad that I’m one of the fortunate few able to do something positive out of my frustration.

OK, goodnight!

~Rasa

i-am-bored

I spent much of today browsing the somewhat maniacal links on i-am-bored.com. It was an appropriate time-waster as I literally did not know what to do with myself today. I did get a pile of ironing done, but even with that I took my time, leisurely listening to classes from Alachua at the same time.

At the moment, I am attending the deity greetings and guru puja program in Brisbane, Australia via webcam- it’s pretty cool! Amazing; it’s nothing like the Manor in terms of kirtan, deities, decor, etc. but it seems like a vibrant temple. Success= quality, not just quantity. I’m trying to spot Taraka, but so far I can’t see her there.

I miss morning program!!!

Unfortunately, I’m not strong enough to do the whole thing on my own in the morning. Ideally, I would wake up early and go through the morning program at home, and now that it’s getting lighter earlier and I’m still unemployed, I could even walk to the Manor for at least some of japa time. Alas, I am so undisciplined and so steeped in Maya that even though I relish morning program, I just can’t seem to light the fire. I have soooo much time on my hands right now that it’s getting a bit ridiculous that I’m not achieving anything really tangible. I can actually feel myself getting into ‘the zone’ every day, even though every day I’m thinking ‘today will be different’.

If I don’t find something constructive to do soon, I think I may actually spontaneously self-combust.

~Rasa

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