What is Love?

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I’m one of those lucky people who had the fortune to visit the Taj Mahal not once, but twice. The first was in 1991 with my parents, and most recently, last month as part of my participation in a seminar-workshop about Biodiversity. Both times, the beauty of structure and the emotions involved in the story of building took my breath away.

However there was something different this time. The visit to Taj Mahal incited a lively discussion about (what else?).. love, thanks to a senior Indian colleague who provoked us on the bus during the return trip to New Delhi.

See, while the majority of us were all still doe-eyed and immediately thought about the Taj Mahal being the ultimate symbol of eternal love, he refuted that the Taj Mahal was making a mockery of love because, really, how can you define  love by, to put it bluntly, a huge building?

And you know,  you couldn’t really say that Mumtaz Mahal was Shah Jahan’s soul mate, she was merely one wife among a dozen other wives. He made her pregnant 14 times, which ultimately resulted in her death (maternal health care was not a priority program during the Mughal times, sigh).

Of course, the hapless romantic in me immediately offered the other side of discussion, namely that, “wasn’t it romantic that he left the battlefield just to be with her”, and, and, “didn’t he make the promise every woman wanted to hear:  I will never marry again for the rest of my life.”

But then the rational part of my  travel weary brain creeped in and asked “Yeah, what’s the big deal about a humongous marble tomb? You call THAT love?” which led me to look up my phone for a small book from, of all people, Charles Schulz. Yes, the Peanuts gang, way back in 1965, gave their definitions of love. On the website http://www.brainpickings.org, the writers there brought up the book “Love is walking hand in hand” and each page defined love through simple, day-to-day things. It’s a simple book, classic Peanuts. So I read out some of the more relevant passages to the bus and we concluded that, yeah, you don’t need the Taj Mahal to show your love. But … I believe you need to do something to indicate that you love the person you’re with. Otherwise, you might lose the best thing that ever happened to you.

So tell me, what have you done to show your love?

14-12-2012 : Once in awhile …

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For the past several years, my birthday have been connected with work related trips. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed those trips (some more than others). But this year it was different. My birthday fell on a Friday this year and one of the world’s music legends was playing nearby. I decided what the hey, why not make a non work related trip on this year’s birthday? So bit the bullet, and the voilà! A nice birthday weekend, complete with chocolates on my bed :-)

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To those who were wondering where I disappeared to and failed to send birthday greetings, well the pictures above should give a clue or two. Once in awhile, we need to give ourselves a break on our birthday, don’t you agree?

In too Deep?

Sometimes (sometimes???) I think I care too much about certain things. When I do that, I tend to take stuff personally and it kinda eats at me.

Not good, obviously.

I know if I stopped caring, the earth would still rotate on its axis. It does NOT revolve around me. Would it be a better place? Well, what do I care?

See, there’s the thing. I CARE. Because at times, I know what they say isn’t true. And I feel the urge to spit out what I know is true.And because I do, I tend get into stupid arguments. And then it goes round and round.

OK, self note: PICK YOUR BATTLES. Let go of the other stuff.

The Disappearing Art of Letter Writing

So today I came home and found a letter from “The National Trust” in Lyme Park Stockport UK.

At first I thought it was advertising but the person wrote my name and address. Intriguing. When I opened it, I found an official looking note which said :

A recent visitor to Lyme Park sat at a desk in the morning room, one of the 17th century rooms that form part of the state apartments. Surrounded by sumptuous tapestries and with a view from the window taking in the sweeping moorland, they were inspired to send you a letter. We have pleasure in enclosing this letter as we offered to post it on their behalf.

There was a smaller envelope inside, the thick paper indicating it was notepad stationery. I didn’t recognize the handwriting on the envelope so I became more intrigued and opened it to find a handwritten note that started with “Dear Tante Sita…”

Aww.. It was a note from my niece in UK! It was a really nice surprise for me. I won’t divulge wuhat she wrote but will share more from the National Trust :

Writing a letter is becoming a forgotten art, but was very much an Edwardian pastime in Lyme Park. The writing paper is an exact copy of the stationery used by the Legh family. They lived here for over 500 years, the first years of the 20th century were an Indian summer and a golden era, but would life ever be the same again for those living and working here?

Aside from the thoughtfulness of my niece, I admit this note made me think about the days when email wasn’t common and we wrote letters, postcards etc. I remember living away from family and friends, going through my mailbox searching for for personal letters among the junk mail.

Now? I could only think of one person who still enjoys walking to their mailbox in their front yard. Indeed, how are stationery companies surviving? I LOVED writing on stationery.

Recently I have been trying to go back to writing longhand in (paper) notebooks. This habit became more intense as I rediscovered penmanship and that taking notes by longhand can really help you when you need evidence of things people said during meetings or when calling you about the budget. And now, after feeling the joy reading my niece’s note, I think I’m going to buy some stationery.

Of course, in true 00′s fashion, my niece wrote “tweet you l8tr”. Sigh. Love her anyway ;-)

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After 4 years

Here’s what I learned after 4 years being on the “outer circle” at my department:

People care. However, if the leader doesn’t care, then the people can lose their sense of belonging, lose any kind of caring feeling they have for an institution. They become apathetic and only care about their themselves. The institution can “go down the drain” and people move on.

Being a leader is not easy. Being a good leader? Damn near impossible.

The Reminder

Lately I have been really fed up with my managerial job. On paper, this is the last year and I really just want to get through it and go on with other stuff. So when a fellow manager resigned early and left the burden to others (including me), it caused some resentment. On my part at least.

Then yesterday’s emails from people announcing more or less the same thing made me more annoyed. How selfish can a person be? Apparently very selfish. Leaving in the middle of the year , just because according to the letter your assignment ends tomorrow. Who cares about the mess you leave behind?

So when a Facebook from a student post tagged me and talked about all the things she learned while she was under my supervision, all sorts of emotions came bubbling to the surface. I was reminded all over again on why I do what I do. That I (want to) help shape some people lives through teaching.

Thank you dear FE. Your post was really nice. And by the way, what you achieved is your achievement. I just gave you a nudge in the right direction. Best wishes on your next endeavor!

As for me? Today is new day. Let’s just move on.

May 17th 2012

Dear Mom,

You would’ve been 75 today Mom. This is the second month of May without you. In the era of social media, where everyone seems to update their status of missing the people they love every day, I found myself rather mute, not really willing to share about how I feel. Funny that it comes from me, she with the opinionated thumbs and fingers, who sometimes create a buzz.

So I turn to my faithful musing’s blog, who patiently awaits and receives happily what I write, when I want to write. You’re always in my thoughts and prayers, no matter what.

The last Ramadhan with Mom