Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Switzerland, June 2015 trip

So after seeing the Eiffel Tower in all its sparkling glory we returned exhausted to our hotel rooms, slept soundlessly for a few hours and the next morning we were on the road again to Switzerland. The drive was breathtaking as usual, the mountains and the beautiful fields, the horses and cows grazing away blissfully... it seems like an entire different lifetime, writing about it now, fifteen months after the trip. But I want to leave a record here, to look back years from now. So anyway, drove throughout the day and finally reached Giswil in Switzerland. Mass was held in a small room in the basement of The Grand Swiss Hotel, after which we ate some good Indian food. Half the people in the group stayed at this hotel, the other half had to drive further up the mountains to reach their quaint little cabins at Hotel Twing. Me and my friends were in the latter half, and this drive up the mountains was exhilarating, the snow capped mountain peaks gleamed and glinted as we wound our way up through the surreal darkness slowly descending around us. 
Here we finally reached hotel Twing nestled among the mountain peaks... a lovely place like a dream. Before settling in for the night, I spoke to Diana (the friendly owner of Twing) and enquired about any hidden spots nearby where we could soak in the beauty of the mountains and she told me about a staircase nearby that went up the mountains to a little lake. 
Our cosy little room... we fell into a deep sleep after the long drive.
Woke up quite early the next day and found this staircase leading up into the mountains...
Daisies brightening up the path
The charming little lake at the top

A barn...
The view from the top, it was nature at her finest with little streams flowing here and there... and only me and mom around.
Bunch of daisies
So after taking pictures and after having serious Maria moments, we made our way down to the hotel for breakfast.
This was our mountain breakfast, fruits from around the area... enchanting.
The decor at the dining room in Twing
After breakfast we started on our way to Mt. Titlis, and came across sights like this...
And this... I think angels descend every day to spruce up this part of the globe. 
So anyway, we took a cable car and reached Mt. Titlis, it was my first time seeing snow... It wasn't that cold either despite all this snow. I think fresh snow must be beautiful... this was more or less compressed ice. There were a bunch of teenagers, sliding down the snow with their jackets turned backwards... they would slide down the snowy hill with their jackets forming the smooth base. It looked like so much fun. so we (me and two other friends) decided to do that... we slid down the snow and it was quite a rush.
After all that craziness at the snow capped peaks, it was time for lunch and while we were waiting to be seated, this was the view outside...
The beautiful lake Trubsee and a friend seated there... Trubsee is a mountain lake that lies at the foot of the Titlis, and above the resort town of Engelberg, Switzerland.
Lake Trubsee
The mountains and fields of tiny yellow flowers near the lake...
After a nice time in the mountains we took the cable car down and started on our long drive to Turin in Italy. We reached quite late at 11pm and after 
a nice dinner of chicken and potato soup 
With wine, chicken breast, potatoes, peas and some pudding for dessert... we were so tired, went straight to sleep, didn't even bother taking a picture of our room in Turin

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Concept of Love

Love seems to have taken new connotations in our State with reports of spurned men hacking and killing the people they claim to be ‘in love’ with. Makes one wonder what brand of love they believe in, probably the glorified insecure patriarchal version of self-love. What else would make a man kill a woman he claims to love… the fact is, he never really did love her, he loved the concept of her, the idea of someone like her belonging to him, to make him feel good about his insecure self. The idea of love has become so warped in our society, because of the way we think. When educational institutions have ridiculous rules that prohibit girls and boys from speaking to each other, then sickness like this is bound to rise. It’s basic science, opposites attract and trying to nullify this effect by erecting barriers and preventing the sexes from getting to know each other and familiarise as friends is wrong on so many levels. It’s incredibly ironic that educational institutes don’t seem to realise this. There have been articles saying that the current movie trend is to blame for this, that could be true but the fact is art imitates life and not vice versa, so whatever is portrayed on screen is an extension of life as we know it here, in this convoluted society we seem to be living in.

Love has to regain its original meaning and we learn quite early in catechism classes that God is love and vice versa, and this takes on profound meaning as we grow up and understand the concept of love. The basic essence of love is to be set free, that’s what the heavenly Father did, created us and gave us free will to make our own choices, while never ceasing to love us. That’s how love actually feels, it sets you free, free to learn and figure out yourself. You can’t force love on someone, you can only love someone unconditionally and hope that things work out, and if they don’t you still continue loving them and hope that they are happy. Love will always find its way back to you, if you seek it in its purest form, and when it does you’ll realise that your initial idea of love was so childlike, juvenile. In any case, if you just love with no conditions then the other person tends to grow in love. A classic example would be the case of Zacchaeus perched up in a tree, Jesus just wanted to hang out with him and this created a flutter in the community. Everybody knew Zacchaeus was unscrupulous but Jesus as was His nature, did not judge or lay down dictums, instead He just loved and Zacchaeus changed by his own accord. That’s the redeeming power of love, it can only bring about good. And taking a cue from Genesis:

Woman was created from the rib of man
She was not made from his head to boss him
Nor from his feet, to be trampled upon.
She was made from his side, to be equal to him
From under his arm to be protected by him
From near his heart to be loved by him.
― Matthew Henry

Anything otherwise that is degenerative in nature cannot be termed love; love can only make you evolve into a better person.

(Something I wrote for the church magazine)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Where is the Shepherd

Reading The Hindu has become a spiritual process these days, there’s just a sinking feeling of nothingness when you come across news about atrocities inflicted on little children. How do you reconcile to live with what you’ve just read and imagined? Recently an 8-year-old boy was sexually assaulted, had his throat slit and head smashed with a boulder. Girls as young as 3 years old and sometimes even babies are sexually abused and molested. Similar stories keep surfacing and the evil perpetrators don’t seem to fear anything, in fact gruesome child rapes seem to be on the rise and it is mind-numbingly baffling. How can one torture and traumatise a child in an unnatural and inhuman way, how depraved does one have to be to force his perverted carnal desires on a little child’s body. Aren’t they the littlest of lambs, the smallest in His fold… tiny playful little lambs. Who snatched them away, where was the Shepherd? How does one go about life, knowing such things are not a rare occurrence? What can be done to weed out the scum in society and make the world more humane? How do you deal with a lethargic government that drags and falters every step of the way when it comes to protection of the weaker sex or race? Why can’t the science of evolution and adaptability take over, make us stronger or give us wolverine like claws? How long are we going to read reports like this in the news, shudder at the horror of it all, say a prayer and hope that good will triumph in the end?

The onus rests on all of us to reform as a society, first sex should be treated as something natural instead of sweeping it under the rug and making it sound like a bad/dirty/forbidden/disgusting/sinful activity that should never be discussed. Sex education ought to be mandatory in schools for teenagers; students should know what it is and should be able to talk about it with an adult. Younger children should be aware of how people interact with them, school and parents should collectively inform them about the methods of touching and playing; what constitutes the good and friendly touch and what areas of their body should never be touched by other people. Steps to improve society can only start at the ground level, children should be taught to respect each other and their surroundings. Right now everything in mainstream media is blatantly sexual, and try as we may there really is no way to protect them from all this, but we can talk to them, monitor what they watch and just do the best we can in this fast paced world. Whether we like it or not, they are going to get all their information from the internet and we can only hope that we have given them enough basic knowledge and love to judge for themselves and make the right choices. That’s where prayer is really necessary, we can’t always be there for our loved ones but if we instill in them this deep faith and love for Christ, then they’ll know what to do when troubles arise, they’ll go straight to Him. And trust me when I say this will be the best thing you’ll ever do for them. Even now when I am faced with difficulties, I still remember what my mom used to say, ‘Do your best, God will take care of the rest’. And mom was really right, Jesus has always come through for me, life is just so much easier knowing Him.

The Shepherd is always there, has always been there and will always be there… it is us, society that has brought upon itself all kinds of malaise by our perpetual hankering for physical and material pleasures, not realising that the only one who can truly satisfy the human heart is the one who made it.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

What you seek is seeking you

‘What you seek is seeking you’, this quote by the Persian poet Rumi is amazingly true, provided that which is being sought is in tune with our highest calling. Our highest yearning is to be one with the divine, to know that His spirit resides in us and in essence we are all spiritual beings with a purpose. This life is not meant to be dull, there is power immanent in all of us. Power from the Father who did not create us to be ordinary people leading mundane lives. He created us to love without measure and without boundaries, that’s when we encounter Him. That’s when we also realise divine love will seek us and find us if we truly desire it.

A love like that just exists, it cannot be explained, it changes our lives by changing our rigid perspectives. We begin to see that everything we’ve gone through has been for this purpose, to experience the wonders His love can bring about. There’s no going back to the old confused selves; when we feel His love working in us, we start living on a higher plane of existence. The superficial problems of the past fades away when divine love works its way into our consciousness.

Our life here is based on the quality of our thoughts, we tend to attract whatever we send out into the universe. Happiness cannot be sought from outside sources, if we emit good thoughts and deeds, they will come back to us. Like Roald Dahl says, ‘If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.’ Spread this light of loveliness and life will be worth the living.

Although you appear in earthly form, your essence is pure Consciousness. You are the fearless guardian of Divine Light. ~ Rumi