NUGGETS of LIFE: Fleeting moments turn lessons for a lifetime

Some moments turn into lessons for a lifetime

I fell down, got up and dusted my knees for the third time, and smiled back at my father. That was precisely when he took the photo. Holding it in my hand after all these years now brings that smile back again. I was trying to learn to ride the bicycle. In fact, I was learning the biggest lesson of my life:  Learning to balance and getting back after a fall.

It’s wonderful how photos capture emotions and feelings, freezing them for life.

As I flipped through the album, my fingers lingered along another picture that has made me stop every single time. A little girl, that’s me, is sitting on a chair with a big pink turban on the head. It was my grandfather’s turban and I was posing like a queen. It makes me laugh hard when I see it as a grown up. But did that little girl understand that symbolism? I bet not. There was a powerful lesson that I was taught gradually as a kid. My grandfather was indeed a progressive man and he would often say: “It doesn’t matter what your gender is, what matters is how you honour your turban.”

Years rolled by, and there came my wedding album. I’m smiling through all the pictures. Even during my ‘madhania’ moment. How is it you didn’t cry during your ‘vidaai‘? Some friends and family were pleasantly surprised. I would answer, “Why? Nobody was dead”!

It depends how you look at it. I was embarking on a new phase in life, and starting it with tears wouldn’t be the last thing that I would’ve done. Those moments captured in photos have left a happy impression on my mind and a lesson reassured. Whenever you begin a journey, career or life, begin it with all your heart; let the fate take care of the rest.

Yet, years later when I became a mother and now when my daughter scrolls my phone gallery, full of her pictures, she hugs and cuddles me seeing them. There are pictures of her dancing, posing, celebrating, and playing pranks. I find the whole joy of the world captured in the photos. They too remind me of a lesson, that pure love transcends you to your happy place – to your best version.

Before I close the album, there are many more blank pages to be filled with love, laughter and happiness. As I look ahead, I’m amazed at how these pictures turn a fleeting moment into a memory for a lifetime that not only provides an immediate connect but also serve as pearls of wisdom gathered as life rolls on.

Published in Hindustan Times on 15.10.2020

SUNDAY FEATURE: The Romance of Hand-Knitting!

Knitting is a craft in which sweetness is infused and calm induced

“In the rhythm of the needles, there is music for the soul”

That time of the year when light breeze gently feathers across the skin and the sun cheers everyone with the loveliness of its sunshine. When the earth smells of ripeness and fullness, fruit and bounty; and the air is filled with notes of love and laughter. It is then that many sitting in their cozy nooks pick up the needles to knit comfort and warmth, stitch by stitch, for the approaching winters. Knitting has always been associated with peace, healing and pleasant childhood memories. Hand knitting is a beautiful expression of love involving the use of two or more needles to loop yarn into a series of interconnected loops in order to create a finished garment. It is a craft that has given comfort to many a generation across the globe since ages.

A brief history

Most histories of knitting place its origin somewhere in the Middle East, and from there it spread to Europe by Mediterranean trade routes, and later to the Americas with European colonization. The oldest knitted artifacts are socks from Egypt, dating from 11th century C.E. While in Europe the earliest known knitted items can be traced to the Spanish Christian Royal families who employed Muslim knitters. Several paintings from Europe portray the Virgin Mary knitting including ‘Our Lady Knitting’ by Tommaso da Modenna. There is also mention of knitting in the plays by Shakespeare that were written between 1590 and 1610. In 17th and 18th century hand knitting became an important occupation in Scottish Isles. By mid 19th century hand knitting declined due to the increasing use of mechanical knitting machines. In India, scholars do not have a fixed time period assigned to the introduction of knitting. There is no ancient word in Sanskrit for knitting. Even in Hindi language, the term for knitting is bunaai which means weaving. Textile expert Toolika Gupta is of the opinion that when knitting was introduced in India, it was instantly called bunaai for lack of better word.  Therefore, the word ‘weaving’ or bunaai has been synonymous with knitting in this country.

Present scenario

The popularity of any craft has always swayed along the ongoing fashions of the eras and the changing values of the society. The 1920s saw a rise in demand for sweaters and pull-overs with statement styles being set by the likes of Prince Wales (future Edward VIII) wearing Fair Isle sweater to play golf and Coco Chanel incorporating knitwear in high fashion. It was a much sort after craft during the war years too. Again in 1950s and 1960s knitting gained huge popularity with introduction of more bright colours and styles of yarn. But the point to be noted here is that knitting as a hand craft had already lost its charm by this time. It was in mid 19th century itself that hand knitting was taken over by knitting industry and survived only as hobby. By late 20th century it further saw a decline and was rarely taught as a craft in school. With many knitting groups emerging, 21st century indeed saw a resurgence of this craft amongst Millennials but still fails to pass on the skills of this craft to Gen Z who is more occupied with virtual world errands than the real world charm.

Great gift of knitting

Hand knitting is not merely a creative leisure activity. With increasing number of mental health issues, sense of lack, broken families – knitting is a craft that can provide immense therapeutic results. The truth is that the romance of hand knitting is vanishing when it is needed the most. Hand knitting relaxes the mind, soothing its electric sparks by focusing the thoughts in the moment. It makes you still, helps gather yourself and centers your being. More so, it disciplines the faculties of mind and body, thereby increasing patience and concentration. Pain specialists have found that hand knitting changes brain chemistry, resulting in an increase in ‘feel good’ hormones (i.e. serotonin and dopamine). Interestingly, the craft of hand knitting being a binary wrapping code of knit and purl stitches, serves as one of the best brain exercises to increase I.Q. as well. Studies have also shown that knitting has helped reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The gift of hand knitting certainly lies in its healing nature. It is a craft in which sweetness is infused and calm induced. As is said –

“Sweet contents knit in my soul, in a million happy stitches”

  So just do it!

Tools & Material: Knitting needles, yarns, row counter, stitch holder
 
Basics: Learn how to cast on the needle, i.e. put the yarn on the needle              Learn to do a knit stitch and purl stitch               Learn to cast off the live stitches              And you’re ready to make that scarf for this Christmas!

  Advanced stitches: Cable stitch, Plaited stitch, Dip stitch
 
Stitch patterns: Garter stitch, Basket stitch, Herrington stitch, Fishermen Rib stitch

Published in The Post India on 14.10.2020

NUGGETS of LIFE: Paintbrush of our Life – Our Mind

Paint Brush

There is a very popular saying that life is a stage where men and women play their parts and go. But things take a turn when the question of ‘how to play it’ comes. We need to rise and contemplate about these intricacies of life. For this we need to understand our mind, for it is the paintbrush that goes long way painting our lives.

Our mind wobbles, jumps or is at peace sometimes. The way it works and shapes, leads to the way our eyes perceive the world around. And for the world, it sees our character painted by our mind and it becomes our identity. Our character is determined by our actions and the niche of our actions lies in our mind. Mind, character, behavior, lifestyle, success, failure – all come round full circle and mind is the real game player.

In this pacing modern era, each and every person undergoes various situations. In present times, a lay mans observation is that everything touches extremity. Rich is getting richer, poor is getting poorer; success or failure both reach pinnacle; poverty or corruption, everything has reached its height. Increasing cases of depression, diseases, suicide, crime, breach and many more – all indicate that people are not able to balance their actions, their lives and basically their minds! Why was not it to this extent during our grandparents time? There are other factors too that play their part but human mind is certainly the main hidden factor that creates this imbalance.

Every human needs to have a positive mind under any circumstance to unlock the door of content, happiness and a wonderful life! It’s a blatant truth that almost 95 % people have restless minds leading to an unhappy life. Take the example of a glass of water, filled till the middle. What do you perceive? What is your reaction? Either you will say it is ‘half empty’ or ‘half filled’. This experiment is helpful in knowing how happy life you will lead based on your attitude. Ideally, a person with a sunshine approach to life should say at least there is some water in that glass!

Fundamentally a person should know two things about mind – handling and nourishing it. Finding happiness in little things of life is what positiveness is all about. Happiness is the power to reverse our mind from bad to good. Every lock has a key. Discipline of faculties, self control, meditation, going for morning walks, taking a break for a nice family vacation, appreciating the beautiful world around us, talking and sharing our experiences (thus, making ourselves feel lighter and better) – are all ways to tackle and handle our mind, but until and unless we don’t nourish it, the whole process remains incomplete. Vehicles need fuel, electronics need electricity and body needs food. Likewise, our mind needs nourishment. Reading good books, developing a hobby, healthy lifestyle, good company, positive environment, faith and hope – are some of the things we need to do to keep our minds nourished. And every person who is successful in doing this – his life is well accomplished!

We should always consider our mind ‘a gift of nature’ like a tree that has hundreds of branches and yet sprouting many more. And all we need to do is to prune it well, so that it is good enough to create a beautiful happy life.

Published on EzineArticles.com on 2.7.2012