May We All Be Flutes

This morning I went to the Ottawa Sai Centre with my parents. The Sai Centre is a spiritual centre that is devoted to the teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, a messenger of God, who lived in India for all his life and passed away a few years ago at age 85.  I love going there because there is so much devotion, love, and joy – the people there are committed to serving others and are always so friendly and helpful.

On Sundays my Mom teaches a class for special needs students, and I usually play the role of her assistant. We prepare crafts for the kids and sing with them – my Mom has a song called “Start the Day With Love” that the kids absolutely adore.

One of my favourite parts about being there is taking a tea break, and chatting with people and hearing what’s going on in their lives. Babies on the way, sharing spiritual lessons, talking about work (or in my case the hunt for work!), and being around the adorable kids that attend the classes.

My Mom, Dad, and I had decided that we were going to leave after three bhajans, but then someone began to sing a beautiful English bhajan, so we changed our minds and decided to stay. The song is called “May We All Be Flutes.” Kind of reminds me of my post from way back when, that I wrote around the time when I first started blogging and sharing with my friends and family. Here are the words from the song today:

Let Us Be Your Melody, We’ll Sing at Your Command
Krishna’s Flute We’ll Be, We’ll Sing His Melody
When Desire’s Gone We Will Finally Sing His Song
Song of Love, Song of Truth, Let the Melody Flow Through
Song of Love, Song of Truth, May Our Lives Be One with You

Krishna, the blue God, is known for his enchanting flute playing. His flute entrances the gopis (cowgirls) in Vrindavan, and especially Radha, who forgets even her name when she hears him play. I love the words of this song – it’s a reminder that each of us has a beautiful melody inside of us, and that the vibration of these words on your lips has a purifying effect.

After the bhajan we stopped to see the Christmas display. A volunteer from the Centre had assembled it that morning, and it was a sight to behold!! All the kids loved it, and the adults as well.

Christmas Display at the Ottawa Sai Centre

Overall a wonderful Sunday morning. Hope you all had a great Sunday too!

Success In The First Round

Week 39! I woke up at Jasmine’s place where I was staying and felt good about the day, although nervous as hell since I had an interview in the afternoon with Critical Care Services Ontario for a Senior Business Analyst position. I listened to CBC radio to keep me occupied, and made myself a simple breakfast which included Mom’s yummy carrot bread (normally she makes zucchini bread but she made it differently this time). I sat down to watch TV but couldn’t figure out how to work the remote controls! (later discovered I was using the wrong ones hehe).

Breakfast at Jasmine’s

The evening before, Jasmine and I had been watching New Girl (the one where Jess and Cece try and recruit sorority girls to vote for Hilary) and I was trying to just relax and enjoy myself, but I kept thinking that I hadn’t prepared enough for the interview. So when Jasmine went to bed, I stayed up for a couple hours and reviewed my notes and it felt great. I knew I was prepared, although it didn’t seem to help with the nerves.

In the morning I walked along the harbourfront. It was windy, the lake was choppy and felt almost like the ocean. I stood out on the dock and felt so alive with the wind blowing in my hair and listening to the sounds of the waves…

I walked to my apartment and waited for Mandeep to arrive. As soon as she got home, I ran in, grabbed my black Waterloo clipboard, and a few samples of my work. I was glad I remembered that because it turned out to be useful during the interview.

I walked up University I think and stopped at the Starbucks in 525 to grab some water. I got to the interview and waited in the lobby of Lucliff place, reviewing my notes and I think my teeth were chattering I was so nervous. Luckily I got a message from Roshni wishing me luck which helped. Lately I feel like I need support every step of the way! The interview went pretty well – I talked a lot which is a good sign, and was happy to share my experiences and learn about the role and their plans for critical care services in Ontario. I was free to be myself which was nice. I had been feeling pretty self-conscious about being out of work for almost four years (which is crazy because I’ve done so many wonderful things and grown so much), and so I found one question particularly funny. One of the PMs asked me why I wanted to give up my ‘exciting’ life and go back to a mundane everyday job. I told the truth, which was that I was an I.T. geek at heart and I am actually craving doing something analytical, applying my project management skills, and working in a team. I want to do it all, although maybe it’s not possible to do it all at once! :p Too bad I’m not like Krishna and can’t replicate myself. I really wish I could, then maybe I wouldn’t be suffering from so much FOMO.

Afterwards I sent a message to my support group (aka my family chat group) to which I got this great response:

Family chat group, The Patels

In the evening I met up with Jasmine and while she was at her naturopath appointment, I facetimed my sister. At first the screen was black, but then Chris walked in and turned on the light so I got to see how cute she looked!

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Evening FaceTime chat with my sister

Jasmine and I went to her favourite store, Naked Red. I couldn’t afford anything but happily tried on a few things – I love this pic of us wearing the same tops!! (image above) Then we went to Local for dinner in Liberty Village. I had the fish and chips and she had a big juicy burger. Melinda and her friend Lauren joined us too. Melinda was telling us about her crazy schedule and how she has to commute two hours each way to get to work. At night I read a bit from If Nuns Rules the World. I’m glad that I bookmarked the page. Jo asks Sister Jeannine if she ever regrets not having a husband or kids. She says “Not at all!” I, along with Jo, am impressed that she is so certain about her future and what she wants. God knows I’ve gone back and forth a million times. Sister Jeannine acknowledges this indecision and lack of commitment in most people.

If only we could all be that brave. If only we could all choose not to live up to everyone else’s expectations and do what feels right to us.

I would add one additional thing: if only we all had the courage to speak our truths, however painful (or humiliating) it may be. It’s a bitch having your life out there for others to judge, but sometimes it takes more energy not to tell it. Or sometimes you just do it because you said you would, or because that’s how your fingers move. I remember I would always be amazed when writing my diaries how the pen would just move effortlessly across the page.. it is such a beautiful motion. I haven’t written in awhile… perhaps tonight I will have the energy and time to return to it. Or maybe I should get back to packing! Hope you are all having a wonderful night!







It’s On The House

Week 20. This time I wore my Walk In Her Shoes t-shirt although you can barely see it in this picture. I walked up University as usual, stopping at Osgoode Hall to see the beautiful cherry blossom trees. I did take a video but I’m a little embarrassed to post it.

I had to stop for a break since I was in pain and read from my book “True To Life” by Beth Kaplan. I’m taking a class at U of T called “Life Stories 1”, taught by the vivacious Beth Kaplan, who is a writer and former theatre actress. Like me, she has written a diary since she was 9 years old, and like me, she was inspired by the Diary of Anne Frank. She really listens to our stories and offers such meaningful feedback. It’s been tough digging into my past and creating stories from my experiences. We are currently in the childhood phase, and my first story was about my grandmother during the time when I lived on Stokes Crescent growing up in Kanata. I vividly remember one afternoon when it was blistering hot (we didn’t have AC), and we were both lying on the bed in my room, immobilized by the heat. She asked me to walk on her legs to relieve the soreness. I used to love doing that. I guess it is typical in Indian culture for grandmothers to ask you to do that, but in my class other people had never heard of someone walking on their grandmother’s legs.

I walked up Yonge street, passed Buddies in Bad Times theatre, and made it to Balzac’s for my 3 PM meeting with Gillian. She is my friend who is working on a documentary about Phoolan Devi. She just spent a few months in Vancouver with the director, Hossein Fazeli, to edit the film and plan the next stage, which will be returning to India to shoot the re-enactment scenes. Talking about India always gets me excited because I am dying to go there! (haven’t been since I was 15). Perhaps I can go the same time that they will be there – it would wild to actually see how a documentary is filmed. They will be filming in Uttar Pradesh, which is in northern India, close to Nepal. It is also the home of the Taj Mahal, the birthplace of Krishna, and the land where Lord Rama was said to have ruled thousands of years ago. It must be a magical place!

Lately whenever I get to Balzac’s, I start crying tears of gratitude. No one really understands this, because whenever people see you cry, they naturally think that you’re upset, but really, there is something about being there that feels so grounding that it moves me to tears. And I’m becoming accustomed to crying in public. I think my sense of what is socially appropriate is going out the window. A result of spending too much time on my own I guess. Anyway, when I was about to leave, the ladies that work there gave me a beautiful daisy cookie – “It’s on the house”, they said. How incredibly sweet!!

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Daisy flower given to me from the ladies at Balzac’s

I stopped by Chapters on the way home, and encountered this owl that reminded me of the universe and it’s all-knowing wisdom. Far beyond my own knowledge that’s for sure. The owl has a special significance for me because it was the symbol for the team I worked with at Cancer Care Ontario, called ‘Knowledge Management’, and my manager Casey had given us all owls to hang above our desks.

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Owl at Chapters, Bay & Bloor

Then I walked home all the way in the rain, and it was beautiful!

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University Avenue at night

Making A Life of One’s Own

So I did my 10K walk yesterday but when I got home I was too tired and broken to write. I ended up doing my meditation and falling asleep on my sofa. As usual, it was an event-filled day with many serendipitous moments. I ran into Sarah Hussain, and she was doing mendhi on a client, Kimberley. How gorgeous!!

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Kimberley at Balzac’s, henna by Sarah Hussain

I read from the Underground Girls of Kabul, and I was struck by the response that Jenny gets when she asks a group of Afghan women what they feel the difference between men and women are. Men respond to that same question by saying that women are more nurturing, caring, sensitive, and less physically capable. Women respond by using one word: freedom. As in men have it, and women do not. It made me feel so grateful for what I have, the freedom to do as I wish, even though it doesn’t always feel that way.

On my walk earlier I had walked by the Blu God tattoo store, just as Krishna’s face was being peeled off. I couldn’t believe it!! Krishna always talks about impermanence in the Bhagavad Gita, how nothing stays the same, time swallows everything, and here he was, being peeled away, his flute and smiling face no longer gracing the busy Yonge street traffic.

I also had a chance to sit outside Osgoode Hall and read for a bit. As I was reading and observing the squirrels, I saw a streetcar go by with Lilly Singh’s picture on it (photo above). She is truly one of the most inspirational, authentic people in the entertainment industry, always true to herself and exuding so much light and love. It’s great to see her face around the city as a reminder of how to stay grounded and true, even if you’re famous and life is always exciting.

On the way home I stopped at Chapters. I tried to read from “I’ll give you the sun” for an upcoming book club meeting, since I promised Jasmine that I would give it a shot, but I just couldn’t get into it. I came across this book on comedy writing instead and it inspired me to start working on jokes!! I’ve been coming up with a lot of good ideas lately, since my life is a bit of a disaster at times and it makes for good comedy.

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I also came across an interesting book called “Spinster: Making A Life of One’s Own”, which started off like this:

Whom to marry, and when will it happen – These two questions define every woman’s existence, regardless of where she was raised or what religion she does or doesn’t practice. She may grow up to love women instead of men, or to decide she simply doesn’t believe in marriage. No matter. These dual contingencies govern her until they’re answered, even if the answers are nobody and never.

How very true! Ahhh the quest for love and reciprocity. Never gets old and never ceases to torment.

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Spinster: Making A Life of One’s Own

One more really cool thing happened yesterday. I was at the reference library and came across an Indian soap opera shown on the multi-television screen. The prince says to Queen Joda: “You have many talents Queen Joda. Unfortunately expressing gratitude is not one of them.” To which she replies: “Thank you”. What a nice reminder to always be thankful!

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Hare Krishna, Hare Rama

This evening I went to the Toronto Yoga Show at the Metro Convention Centre. There was a beautiful energy in the hall, and I was instantly calmed by the smell of incense, chanting from the Hare Krishnas, and seeing the graceful postures of the yogis and yoginis practicing in the central yoga class. I wandered around for a bit, admiring the cotton t-shirts with pictures of Buddhas and Aums and Indian gods and goddesses. Then I went to visit my friend Neesha’s booth. She has a booth with Reshma, Mike, and Zak, and they sell their creations as well as their services. Neesha and Reshma both teach meditation and yoga, Zak is a spiritual healer and all-around badass (she has a t-shirt line called Spiritual Hustler) and Mike is a Qi Gong teacher and energy healer. Here is a pic of Mike at the booth:


While I was there, I ate at Govinda’s (the Hare Krishna restaurant), and listened to the beautiful chanting that calmed my soul. These Hare Krishnas sure know how to lose themselves in the moment!