Unnecessary Happiness

Tigger-Hugs-Pooh

“I am a solidarity person”, she said. What a beautiful thing to say and be!

I had rung her up only because I needed to hug someone. When I am feeling “unnecessary happiness”, my natural way to express it is to hug someone. Normally my Mom is the recipient of these hugs. She is used to my quirks. I come smiling wide and hug her and she asks, “क्या हुआ?” (What happened?) and I reply grinning, “कुछ नहीं” (nothing happened) – which is true. I am just feeling happy, no reason. That is the definition of “unnecessary happiness”, a term coined by a friend. Just happy, no reason.

But this time Mom was sleeping. I felt like waking her up simply because I needed to hug someone, but I didn’t. I rang up Seeta.

Seeta is wise. We hadn’t spoken for long but that doesn’t matter. I knew if I rang her up and straight away said, “मैं तुमको hug कर रही हूँ” (I am hugging you), she would immediately receive it. And then I could simply say, “That’s it. और कुछ नहीं बोलना था” (That’s it. I have nothing else to say.) and I knew that would make perfect sense to her too. So that’s what I said.

Of course our conversation continued. We exchanged notes as we hadn’t spoken for long.

Seeta is also a person of love. We all are (people of love), but some people are just a bit more so. They are people who just know that we are all one.

Seeta works in the field of “human development”. She has worked for international agencies that fund projects for the deaf and dumb, for example. These days she is working for the UN in the area of human trafficking and immigration, helping frame policies in partnership with governments.

Seeta is also a person of solidarity who likes to give of herself in direct human action and touch, in places of strife – be it the Andamans torn by the tsunami or the Middle East torn by war.

When we know that we are One, however, it doesn’t matter what work we do. Whatever the area of work, the Unnecessary Happiness just flows.


Image credit: Tigger Hugs Pooh – Cartoon Bucket

Where Ideas Interconnect

Two days in February, people gather in Goa. Ideas gather in Goa. In total camaraderie, zero competition, zero cynicism.

This is thanks totally to Imtiaz Ali’s movie Tamasha. Right through the movie there was this throbbing voice telling me again and again, ‘Go to The Goa Project this year. Go!’

So, I went. To #TGP2016

IMG_20160219_102704562_lrTwo days in February, people gather in Goa. Ideas gather in Goa. In total camaraderie, zero competition, zero cynicism. To enable each other, to share what positive they have discovered in their profession, creativity, life. People from the age range of 20s to 50s (maybe more) interacting seamlessly. How come? Because it is ideas interacting. For ideas don’t have an age. They are simultaneously age old and fresh new.

Ideas do not have any gender either. Nor does The Goa Project.

While elsewhere the issue is discussed threadbare about the inequal gender participation in science, technology, corporates, parliament – TGP simply just achieves it. Probably without even trying (I should ask the organizers).

No other professional / creative gathering have I encountered where the presence and interaction of men and women is so equal normal natural as at The Goa Project. Be it amongst the organisers, speakers or delegates.

IMG_20160219_151517648The Goa Project is an unconference. Unconference because it is not about any discipline in particular. Which means probably every idea belongs, depending on how you present it (remember camaraderie, positive energy, enabling each other). There were talks and workshops related to ambient music, being a voice-over artist, storytelling, performing arts, set design, impacting social change through positive news, poetry, sexual lifestyle, entrepreneurship, photography, mythology, writing your first (tech) book, cake making (this last one was in some previous year) … – i.e. a place where diverse ideas naturally co-habitate, interconnect and integrate.

While sessions are so widely varied, they are carefully curated.

The Goa Project is an unconference because it is informal. It is perfectly OK to get up and walk out of a session to some other session running simultaneously in the other tents.

Yes, tents. Out in the open. The event is very tastefully designed and organised (totally by volunteers) in an elegant secluded venue at the edge of the waters.IMG_20160220_162629182_lr

First I used to feel bad that I am interested in so many things that I am unable to raah pakad ke ek chalaa chal paa jaayegaa madhushala. Then I declared to my counselor – I am a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none and that precisely is my gift to the world – interconnectedness. Then I found the people of my tribe. I found the madhushala called TGP.

And while TGP loves to guzzle beer maybe next year it will be more unconference and unmadhushala by additional ly guzzling tons of nariyal pani!

Wannabe coconut water sponsors for TGP 2017 please contact Udhay Shankar!

Learning to Love Marketing

Why marketing is spiritual and how I learned to love it –

If you have a product or service you believe in and you don't do everything you can to market the heck out of it, you're stealing from those who need you most. ~ Marie Forleo

Wow. That totally flips things, doesn’t it? This is what my teacher Marie Forleo told me in her B-School program this year.

bschoolB-School is an 8-week online course focusing on online marketing. I enrolled in it to receive guidance to market my project MeULib: The Public Library by Me and You. The program consisted of 6 modules –

  • Profit Plan
  • Website
  • Communication
  • List Building
  • Offerings
  • Marketing

The first and last were POWER-packs. Everything that B-School contained requires fermentation- repeated cycles of contemplation-implementation-re-evaluation on the canvases of one’s business and heart. The nice thing is that the way that Marie taught (crystal-clear thought, excellently structured, compassionately delivered), I am feeling as-if that practice of contemplation-implementation-re-evaluation is seeping inside me and may well become my innate nature!

The Public Library by Me and You
The Public Library by Me and You

At such an early stage, maybe it is not very wise to say this. It is sounding rather premature and pompous. Specially when I have no results (read $$$) to show for it, but then “Start before you are ready” is another thing she said. 🙂

No, not start being pompous before you have reason for being pompous (you never will!) – but, in this case, start sharing your feelings of success before you are successful. 🙂

From the exercises given in each module, I am here to share with you my output of one exercise. I felt so good with what I wrote. That good feeling is still rippling inside me.

Many of us cringe from marketing. That sure has been the case with me. So it is important to revisit those words she said –
If you have a product or service you believe in and you don’t do everything you can to market the heck out of it, you’re stealing from those who need you most.

The key here is “product or service you believe in”. This requires self-belief. That I am a worthwhile entity in this world. And it requires belief in what I am doing. That it is of value, it is a meaningful contribution in this world.

Yet, self-doubt and that cringing from speaking-out remains, doesn’t it? 🙂

So she asks in an exercise:
What fears, beliefs or misconceptions will you need to let go of in order to be a top-level marketer and make the income and impact you deserve?

The answer that flowed naturally from me:
The fear of looking stupid.

That is it. That is the one single inhibition that holds me back. The answer seems so complete I feel no need to add anything to it. In its exactness, it feels freeing. It is after all, a form of explicit self-communication.

And then she continued on to say –
Whenever you change a negative belief, it’s vital you replace it with something more aligned with the life you want, and stay connected to why it’s important. This will help you anchor in your new belief and reach your goal. In the space below, create ten powerful reasons why gaining a new level of mastery in modern marketing will create a positive change in your life, and in the world.

And this is what naturally flowed from me –


  1. To connect with the world – for that is fulfilling. 
  2. To voice my voice – for that is fulfilling. 
  3. To exercise my creativity. For marketing provides a wonderful canvas on which I can unleash all my creativity. 
  4. To offer myself to serve – for to serve is fulling. 
  5. To have fun. Aah! That is just so beautiful. To have fun. Just that one reason itself makes me feel so satisfied. What more can one want? 
  6. To expand myself, my capabilities – it feels good to stretch. Challenges are tasty. 
  7. To learn to be humble. When I genuinely connect and interact with the world, it makes me widen my perspectives. That brings in a humility as well as a gratitude for being part of this big wonderful Universe. 
  8. “Why are you kissing me? Go kiss the world” (Mother Teresa). To go kiss the world. To get up and step out and stand openly in my world with my arms stretched out – to give and to receive. 
  9. To be One. 
  10. To do what He has asked me to do.

Looks like I am already in love with marketing! Exactly what she had said will happen. 🙂

If you dear reader are contemplating starting your own business or already have one and need guidance, I recommend you check Marie out. It will resonate with you specially if you are a woman, but it is in no way restricted to women. I spied a male dentist running his own clinic among the students of this year.

And dear reader, make sure you visit MeULib: The Public Library by Me and You. An unlimited library in the making and the root cause of this post!
meulib_screen_top

I received impeccable service in Kolkata

He works for a pathology clinic. If you ring him up, he will come to your home to collect blood samples for the blood test that your doctor has prescribed.

I used to think Kolkata is not a place of work ethics. It felt like the only time when one can see an overflowing of dedicated work is during the Durga Puja, or in the beautiful artistic show-off world of the Kolkata Marwaris.

Recently I am came across an example of dedicated dependable yet understated service that is so inspiring.

He works for a pathology clinic. If you ring him up, he will come to your home to collect blood samples for the blood test that your doctor has prescribed. His name is Tapan. The charges for this at-home blood-collection service depends on which part of the city you are in. Where we stay, in Hastings at the banks of the river, it costs Rs. 250/- or so (in addition to the blood test charges itself). For Salt Lake, the rate is something like Rs. 500/- if I remember what Tapan Da told me right.

tapan_bloodTapan Da’s dependability is exemplary. My family has experienced it again and again. Say you ring him up on a Tuesday evening, his Wednesday schedule is full and he says he will come on Thursday morning at 9. Since he said so, he will be there on Thursday morning. You do not need to call him again.

This might seem like but-obvious for someone who lives in cultures where such dependable service is the norm. For a Kolkata service provider, this admirable. If I have come across one such person, I am sure there are other such examples in Kolkata too. Thanks to him, Kolkata is not a place of shoddy service in my eyes anymore. It is simply that some provide good service, some do not. It is possible to provide service at the level you want wherever you are.

If you call Tapan Da on a Saturday evening, requesting him to come on Sunday morning, often that works too. Four other people are also employed by this clinic for similar at-home service, but it seems Tapan is very popular. Once he starts going to a house, people prefer him to come, rather than any of the others. The routine act of drawing blood from a person’s vein is also a skill to mastered, else it is possible to rupture the vein and cause a blue arm that lasts for up to a month. At our place, he is the but-obvious go-to point for all blood test requirements. Seeing him come so often, my 7 year old niece was also able to overcome her fears and give her blood for testing. Yes, her brother had to sit beside her for moral support. 🙂

His ability to show up as promised is despite the fact that his day is often full with many visits scheduled across the city, which he fulfills zipping around on his motor bike. Unlike many at-home service providers who seem grimy, he presents himself in professional clean garb that feels respectable. Of course the sweat and grime of the city is not selective towards him. Nevertheless.

His service is a thing to be experienced. There is nothing flashy about it but I was impressed enough to write to you about it. For it quietly grows on you.

song of the software developer – 1

dear faceless bro of mine
i talk to you silenty
through the software
that i write

dear faceless bro of mine
i talk to you silently
through the software
that i write

i strive to reach silently
to you through the
code i write

at times i swim in one small box
a pixel high a pixel wide
and i am lost
semi lost colon lost
dark color coded screens
breaks in code
error screams

i forget

there is a human on that side
my bro my user
he gets lost
from my mind

UI UX they remind
and i rewind

why am i doing this?

to be one
with you faceless bro of mine
to be one
an interwoven world divine
to be one
with my own soul that shines

~ vani murarka

so much love!

Ownership is a dangerous concept if it is left to you. The ego wants to have things for salvation, for possession is its law. Possession for its own sake is the ego’s fundamental creed, a basic cornerstone in the churches it builds to itself. And at its altar it demands you lay all of the things it bids you get, leaving you no joy in them.

Only the Holy Spirit knows what you need. For He will give you all things that do not block the way to light. And what else could you need? In time, He gives you all the things that you need have, and will renew them as long as you have need of them. He will take nothing from you as long as you have any need of it. And yet He knows that everything you need is temporary, and will but last until you step aside from all your needs and realize that all of them have been fulfilled.

Excerpt from the book “A Course In Miracles”

oneGoalPeace
Ownership is a dangerous concept if it is left to you. The ego wants to have things for salvation, for possession is its law. Possession for its own sake is the ego’s fundamental creed, a basic cornerstone in the churches it builds to itself. And at its altar it demands you lay all of the things it bids you get, leaving you no joy in them.

Everything the ego tells you that you need will hurt you. For although the ego urges you again and again to get, it leaves you nothing, for what you get it will demand of you. And even from the very hands that grasped it, it will be wrenched and hurled into the dust. For where the ego sees salvation it sees separation, and so you lose whatever you have gotten in its name. Therefore ask not of yourself what you need, for you do not know, and your advice to yourself will hurt you. For what you think you need will merely serve to tighten up your world against the light, and render you unwilling to question the value that this world can really hold for you.

Only the Holy Spirit knows what you need. For He will give you all things that do not block the way to light. And what else could you need? In time, He gives you all the things that you need have, and will renew them as long as you have need of them. He will take nothing from you as long as you have any need of it. And yet He knows that everything you need is temporary, and will but last until you step aside from all your needs and realize that all of them have been fulfilled. Therefore He has no investment in the things that He supplies, except to make certain that you will not use them on behalf of lingering in time. He knows that you are not at home there, and He wills no delay to wait upon your joyous homecoming.

Leave, then, your needs to Him. He will supply them with no emphasis at all upon them. What comes to you of Him comes safely, for He will ensure it never can become a dark spot, hidden in your mind and kept to hurt you. Under His guidance you will travel light and journey lightly, for His sight is ever on the journey’s end, which is His goal. God’s Son is not a traveller through outer worlds. However holy his perception may become, no world outside himself holds his inheritance. Within himself he has no needs, for light needs nothing but to shine in peace, and from itself to let the rays extend in quiet to infinity.

Whenever you are tempted to undertake a useless journey that would lead away from light, remember what you really want, and say:
The Holy Spirit leads me unto Christ, and where else
would I go? What need have I but to awake in Him?

Then follow Him in joy, with faith that He will lead you safely through all dangers to your peace of mind this world may set before you. Kneel not before the altars to sacrifice, and seek not what you surely lose. Content yourself with what you will surely keep, and be not restless, for you undertake a quiet journey to the peace of God, where He would have you be in quietness.

In me you have already overcome every temptation that would hold you back. We walk together on the way to quietness that is the gift of God. Hold me dear, for what except your brother can you need? We will restore to you the peace of mind that we must find together. The Holy Spirit will teach you to awaken unto us and to yourself. This is the only real need to be fulfilled in time. Salvation from the world lies only here. My peace I give you. Take it of me in glad exchange for all the world has offered but to take away. And we will spread it like a veil of light across the world’s sad face, in which we hide our brothers from the world, and it from them.

We cannot sing redemption’s hymn alone. My task is not completed until I have lifted every voice with mine. And yet it is not mine, for as it is my gift to you, so was it the Father’s gift to me, given me through His Spirit. The sound of it will banish sorrow from the mind of God’s most holy Son, where it cannot abide. Healing in time is needed, for joy cannot establish its eternal reign where sorrow dwells. You do not dwell here, but in eternity. You travel but in dreams, while safe at home. Give thanks to every part of you that you have taught how to remember you. Thus does the Son of God give thanks unto his Father for his purity.

Excerpt from the book “A Course In Miracles”.
Chapter 13 (The Guiltless World) Section VII (Attainment of the Real World).
Para 10 Line 10 to end of section.

The title “so much of love!” of the post was just my spontaneous exclamation upon reading this.
The painting “One Goal: Peace” has been done by yours truly.

Happy Art Play Day

Recounting the experience of my first ever art stall …

Sing Together: painting
Sing Together

It is that boy’s eyes. That is the main reason why I am writing this post.

It was a wonderful day. Truly a blessing for me. An experience of directly reaching out and connecting with so many people via art, via the art stall I put up at the Diwali Dhamaka (a fun fest) in Manipal this weekend. At the stall, I was selling some of my paintings and also had all the paraphernelia ready for people to come and make a painting themselves.

Time and again I am pulled back to the memories and snapshots of those facial expressions of so many people and it fills me with so much gratitude and a sense of fulfillment. I feel amazed: “connecting with people in such a way is possible?!” Well yes, it is possible. It happened girl.

There was this small girl, 6/8 yrs or so, beautiful face, enticing smile. She kept hovering around my stall. Someone asked me finally, “Is she your daughter?” I said, “No, she is my admirer.”, and her permanent sweet smile got even brighter broader. She had been waiting for me to finish painting the pizza box side that I would give her for free to use as a bookmark.

lightInYou

A young man – a pharmacy college student here at the university. He was so enamored. He stood there and pondered long at the wares I had available. When he finally sat down to paint one himself, he pondered over that for long, along with his lady friend. I quipped a bit with this guy with a tip, “don’t apply your head so much” and later shared another painting tip with him too late, “backgrounds first, water first, coconut tree later.” That he was having a go at it with childlike enthusiasm despite being very clueless about it was so fantastic. Most adults do not do that. I realized later, I should have been gentle with him as I was with the children, rather than mocking joking.

I learned first-hand from a boy the impact of holding the paintbrush from far even when painting on a tiny canvas – and his mother had whispered to me that he does not know painting!

A lady admired the art on display and spoke of how she loves painting, has tons of art material at home but can only do copies. That is a struggle I have seen many adults have. Their technique is great, they can make beautiful paintings, but only copies. I told her to go home today and let her hand move any which way it wanted. She seemed inspired by my suggestions and said so too. I hope she tries.

There were many many wonderful expressions and human connections, saved in my heart. Each one precious and beautiful. I want to share each one with you, but will come now to those boy’s eyes. It is that boy’s eyes. That is the main reason why I am writing this post.

A small boy, again, maybe 6 8 10 years old. In school uniform, wearing glasses. Probably the first child I have seen here wearing glasses here in Udupi-Manipal, for that feature stands out in my memory, apart from his eyes. There was something troubled about it, his eyes. He came again and again and admired the stall, asked me how I paint like this (to which I wish I had an answer that would have soothed him and brought a happy smile to his face).

Phoenix: painting
Phoenix

He came again and said “I have come to watch you paint.” I offered several times to him, “would you like to paint?”, he shook his head. After my nth asking, he said, “some other time.”. There was something very adult about the way he said “some other time”. It was sad.

He came again with his elder sister, a smartphone and a request expressed by his sister and not himself, even though he had been talking to me so far.

“He wants to take photos of the paintings.”

I said sure, and he took some photos of some, individually.

Whatever it was that was touching him so intensely, I hope and pray it finds self-expression.

That sounds like a sombre boy and encounter, but the whole day was a very happy art play day. Several dreams and wishes fulfilled: to sell my paintings, to share a “Art Play Place” with people, to earn some money after a hiatus of some 2.5 years.

Facebook status: feeling blessed. 🙂


Moon Shower: painting
Moon Shower

Art Stall Manipal 2014 Vani Murarka

The Apprehensions and Satisfaction of Contributing

On the psychological experience of contributing one’s effort in another’s initiative.

Recently I contributed a few changes to two technical initiatives / GitHub repositories. Huh what?

GitHub is a place where people can collaboratively build code and content. Kind-of like Wikipedia but these are creative initiatives (as compared to information). It is a service used by software developers to maintain and build their code together. The together can be with just about anyone anywhere on the globe (human beings, dolphins not supported yet).

I have been using GitHub for a few months now to maintain my code of OurLib and Geet Gatiroop – but recently I made a few contributions to other peoples’ repositories. The process was psychologically rather interesting (rewarding).

The Apprehension
Am I doing it correct? Am I doing it in keeping with the creator’s overall style of work? It was quite fascinating watching these concerns in me as I went about offering a tiny addition to the technical documentation of a software I have come to admire. It also felt like I am butting-in into someone else’s work!

So one just tries to do one’s best. Observe what is already there and try to offer the change in keeping with the overall approach taken. Then the creator of that initiative can always accept/reject that contribution. Absolutely no hard feelings whatever. How beautiful.

The Satisfaction
It is subtle but immensely satisfying – to have the means to directly help improve a human initiative and make it that tad bit more beautiful – and to go ahead and do it. Then if the offering is accepted, it is a wee bit more satisfying – but the bulk of the satisfaction comes from the doing and offering itself.

One does not have to be perfect. If there are errors (or room for improvement), no issues – someone else can always come along and improve upon your tiny bit.

This is what we are all here for. To hold hands and be one. The साथी हाथ बढ़ाना (saathee haath badhaanaa) ethos.

Helping-Hands

Image credit: Lutheran Church of the Resurrection website.

One Single Human Here

The suffering on this planet –
it is one single pain
What are you fighting against

one
One Single Human Here

The suffering on this planet –
it is one single pain
What are you fighting against
What are you defending against
In your homes
In your offices
In seats of governments
On the streets

Really really feel your pain
Every sliver, texture
And you shall know
There is no my pain your pain
Man, are we connected!

Out of frantic “thinking” heads
Feel
feel

Feel in your body
Feel that black ink
Feel it shifting

feel
experience it
observe it
inside

and you will find

a vast open space
and you will find

power
for you will find

pain is a sensation
pain cannot kill you
and you will find

freedom from pain
and you will find

we are one.

there is
one single human here.


the story of a hug

In Boston a few years back, I was spending Thanksgiving Break with the a beautiful friend of mine. …

In Boston a few years back, I was spending Thanksgiving Break with the a beautiful friend of mine. Isn’t it amazing how all my friends are so beautiful? It really is (amazing). A beautiful good fortune of mine. Talking of good fortunes, here’s another one: my friend took me along to an eclectic Thanksgiving potluck dinner.

Yes, the evening was eclectic. The food spread and the people spread. Much like world music where the beats of Africa mingle with Jazz mingle with strands of Indian Classical mingle with the song of the Chinese Moon mingle with the sounds from Scandinavia … You get the picture.

Having filled my plate, I was sitting at the corner of a large table, having dinner with lots of lovely people. There was a man sitting at the other edge of the same corner. I did not know anyone there. Ditto was his case. So we shared a conversation as we ate.

He was not fluent with his English and I do not remember which country he was from. Ukraine maybe? I don’t know. Soon in the conversation it emerged that he is out of work and in a financially uncertain state. The worry, tension, loneliness he was going through was clearly apparent. It was not there in his facial expression, nor explicitly there in his voice, but it was there. Being a foreigner in USA myself, it was easy to feel. The combination of being a foreigner in USA and work being a question mark, results in tension hanging over the head like holly all the time. Or is it mistletoe?

While he shared his data, (where from, doing what), and I shared mine, what was apparent from his face was actually only gratitude. He was glad someone was talking to him and talking so nicely. He said so too. I have often received this gratitude when talking normally and humanly to people who are feeling unsure about their English. I have experienced it in conversations in India too.

In his effort to express that gratitude, the way he was looking at me, smiling at me – frankly it became somewhat discomforting. I looked away and tried to interest myself in the conversations at the rest of the table. But I knew fully well that he was not trying to flirt with me. It is just that when we are culturally somewhat misplaced, we end up behaving and expressing ourselves at times in a manner that seems awkward to the other person. I did return to him too, time to time.

Soon people had eaten up their food and everyone was standing around in the hall, at the gate to part, wishing each other goodbye, thanking each other for the evening. That man came out and gave a big hug to one of the hosts of the evening (much to the alarm of the man receiving the hug!).

I piled into the car with my friend, the host who had been hugged and a few others. Comments were laughingly exchanged about how craaazy, wierrrd that person was, who had hugged. What was he trying to do?!

I did not say anything.

I wish I had –
That man was very very scared. And he was lonely. Maybe he was filled with the dread of having to go back to spending time with his worries alone, as he was about to step out of the gathering. And he was grateful. Very grateful, for the oasis of togetherness that the evening had given him, in the desert of his loneliness. That is what he was conveying via his hug.

And I wanted to say –
It is perfectly ok, and natural, and human, (and wise) for a man to hug. There is absolutely nothing wierd about a man who hugs goodbye.

And it is perfectly ok, and natural, and human for a man to feel really really scared.

I am grateful that despite being alarmed the host received the hug gracefully.