A year in Review – Reflections on 2018

b0d2c169-fc61-4173-975a-7ade59e06ea0A year in Review – a memorable year in my life – so many wonderful memories and experiences, traveled to places which I never thought I would go – not even existent in my non-existent list … experienced the transformation of my life in an amazing way – the essence of the year is the profoundness of Sadhguru’s grace upon me. The amount of travel I have done this year and the places I have been to have never happened to me in my entire life. This year had another significance in my life – my 60th birth year.

The year started with my usual India trip in Feb, immediately few days after I landed in Hyd – we had a mini family vacation with 12 adults and 3 kids to Goa to celebrate Unnu’s and Prati’s birthdays. We have stayed at Taj Exotic Resort & Spa at Benaulim – staying next to the beach, chasing the Sun from Sunrise to Sunset, walk as much as I would love to, walking in the sand near the beach and going into waves as much as I can and bumping into one of the family members all the time, roaming in and around the area are some of the amazing moments I could keep it in my heart so fondly. I always always love to watch Sunrises, Sunsets especially when I am around beaches, and oceans. I make a point to wake up early just to watch Sunrises.

96C71EA9-E061-4812-BC7A-5E1B79782408Then I went to Anakapalle and Vizag for few days after almost close to 40 years. Anakapalle – the place where I  was born and brought up – the place where I spent most of my life in India – 18 years of my 22 years in India – so many childhood and adulthood memories, the places I visited there were the College where My father worked as Principal for 18 years and the college quarters where we lived. To my disbelief, I could not even spot the place where our houses were – all 6 houses were demolished, I could not even recognize the place except for few places. In my memory that place was very huge but somehow I felt it very small especially from my dad’s office to our house. I wish I could have stayed there for considerable time to visit and feel every little spot I have memories with, but I could not as it was very hot and the place is wide open. Thanks to Chanti (Yashodhara) who made it possible. And we visited Nookalamma temple at Kasimkota and returned back to Vizag. I met few of my cousins, had lunch with them all. As Chanti lives close to Rama Krishna Beach, we both went for a walk along beach side before sunrise to get a glimpse of Sunrise over the Bay of Bengal – moments to live for and moments to die for …

And a week after my return from India, Sekhar and I instantaneously decided over a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts to attend Inner Engineering (IE) with Sadhguru at Philadelphia in the first week of May. That is the best decision I ever made and wonderful things in my life have been happening since I attended IE.

Read this – The Profound Effect of Sadhguru upon me – how he came into my life years ago before IE Happened to me

That was a huge milestone in my life. When we were at IE program, we were shown a video of Kailash Yatra with Sadhguru and it touched me very deeply. Through out the IE program, a desire born like a seed and has grown into humongous tree – Kailash Yatra with Sadhguru – it was a burning desire – never in my life I had given any thought of being at Kailash not in my dreams.
So the Monday after inner Engineering, I have opened my FB, and it asked me what is on your mind Sarada – I immediately posted the following
kailash“What’s on your mind, Sarada” FB is asking.
I would say #KailashYatra with Sadhguru; Inner Engineering course has a profound affect on me, every atom and molecule in me is longing for #KailashYatra; feeling highly emotional; whether I can do it with my knee issues🤔 ; but then remembering Sadhguru’s sayings – do not think of what is possible and what is not possible 🙏

And how my Kailash yatra happened – Shi-va alone knows – My inward journey to Kailash

This is what I would have said if I had to at Sathsang with Sadhguru in Kathmandu on our return trip from Kailash – SHI-VA that which is not

Everything happened in a matter of 3 months – IE, the desire to be at Kailash and finishing Kailash Manasasarovar Yatra. Truly blessed.

dhyanalingaIn between these two major events, I had another desire to visit Dhyanalinga at ISHA Center Coimbattore, India, that too on Guru pournami day. and I was reading at ISha website that only two days in a month – Amavasya and Pournami days all the devotees are allowed to do water and milk abishekam to Dhyana Linga and the desire becoming intense day after day. When I went to India before I started Kailash yatra, I had to stay at Hyderabad for 5 days awaiting for my group visa to Tibet. I planned a day trip to Isha Ashram at Coimbattore on Gurupournami day.e8c5aef2-82ef-41ac-a1a4-94164ba2437b

Visiting Isha Ashramam at Coimbattore India – July 2018 on Guru Pournami Day

Kailash and ManasaSarovar yAtra in detail in another article

I wanted to attend Bava Spandana (BSP) with Sadhguru – an intense desire aroused- when I heard that Sadhguru would be conducting this program at Isha Institute of Inner-Sciences (III) at McMinnville, Tennessee in October. I was just praying it should not be the same weekend as Ram Sai’s wedding (my very close family friend’s son), he is like my child, he and his sister are literally like my own kids, I have seen them from their birth, celebrating Christmas times with them at their place and at my place year after year, a very strong bonding with those kids to me and to my husband. To test my intense desire, BSP happened the same weekend as his wedding weekend. So initially I dropped the idea of BSP and did not want to apply as I would not go anyways. I was in Hyderabad before my Kailash yatra started when the registration for BSP opened up and I have received an email with the registration form. I did not take any action and my cousin’s wife from Buffalo called me and my cousin mentioned about the BSP and he told me that he has applied and asked me to apply and I told him the same as I would not be able to attend BSP; nevertheless after the phone conversation, I have applied for it and knew that there were remote chances only of getting into it. Throughout my Kailash trip, I was trying to check my mail where ever I got internet and I was not sure with which email I have registered – personal or office. I was not able to open my personal gmail through out almost my trip and I was sort of concerned what if I miss the confirmation email. People I met during Kailash trip told me how amazing BSP was and it should be taken by Sadhguru only and was also told it would be very difficult to get a slot when Sadhguru is conducting the program and there was a rumor going around that he would stop conducting this program soon and hand it over to trained teachers. I was back to New York from kailash trip on 16 August and went to Boston with unnu on 18th August and returned to New York on 21 August. That night I was talking to Lakshmi and I asked her whether Sridhar had gotten any message from ISHA regarding BSP and she said they haven’t received any. After I finished conversing with her, I have opened my office email and to my astonishment, I have received an email from ISHA around 7 pm confirming my slot for BSP (19 October to 22 October). I was on cloud 9 or whatever high I could be at that moment. I had to respond to them in 4 days otherwise I would loose my spot. Then the real struggle started – how to convey this to my friend – I have applied with the real intention of attending BSP and I knew my chances were very feeble. I applied (even though back in the mind there was a strong desire to attend) not to regret later that i did not even make an attempt. the next day I called my friend and broke the news to her and she was not very happy. But luckily they were performing pellikoduku (making the bridegroom) function on Raleigh, North Carolina on 18th October and I told her that I would attend that event and go to McMinnville, Tennessee from there on 19th morning. She was not very happy for that. But for some reason I did not want to miss attending BSP as there was no guarantee that Sadhguru would conduct this program again and even if he did that I would get a slot. Then I started listening all stories from my ISHA Kailash yatra whatsapp group that they did not get their slot and have been on waitlist even last year also. So BSP happened to me in a very euphoric way. another article on BSP (not in detail but just to touch it peripherally) would follow soon. I really felt everyone I know or unknown without any exceptions should experience BSP. Looking forward to volunteer for BSP to relive those moments again.

Then with in 2 weeks after I finished my BSP, I had an opportunity to volunteer at Inner Engineering with Sadhguru at San Mateo, San Francisco on 3-4 November. So much blessed to be in Sadhguru’s presence for so many times in a matter of 7 months. Initially Inner engineering with Sadhguru at Phily in May, about 30 minutes in his sathsang at Isha Center Coimbattore end of July, almost 3 hours of Sathsang with Sadhguru at Kathmandu on my way back from Kailash yatra, 3 and half intense days with Sadhguru as BSP at Tennessee, IE at San Francisco – blessings to be grateful for.

I have volunteered 4 days at a teacher led IE program in New York on my 60th birthday – how blessed I was to spend at IE on my milestone birthday.

I had a nice birthday party with family at prashanthi’s place and she has made a cake for me with all the things and people I am so passionate about.

Of course I had a real surprise birthday party from all the people whom I would proudly, lovingly, and dearly called my second family Surprise birth

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day party – 60 is just a number

Thankful and grateful for all these loving people in my life …

Then came Christmas – wondering what should I do with ornaments as handmade and handcrafted have become my signature these days – then Unnu came up with the idea of family photos ornaments – actually she said I should make photo ornaments – 60 things I am very passionate about (to commemorate my 60th birthday) – here is the Christmas tree – No No family Christmas tree – have a glimpse – I was able to bring my maternal grand father, my mom with her sisters, my parents, my siblings, people very close to my heart  – the big challenge is to select the pics and reprint them – I missed making ornaments of many other people those are close to my heart and take some space in my life, not overlooking them, but in the limited time and resources I had (time to go through my albums to pick their pictures, get them printed and also the availability of CD shaped clear ornaments).

and I tried to push my boundaries – baking cakes/cup cakes.

PR cakemade#DoubleLayeredVanillaCoconutCake with lemon curd in between the layers and topped with blueberries and raspberries and dark chocolate covered Almonds;

Few of our office staff had planned a baby shower to our colleague Monica and there were not sufficient funds, so I have decided to bake a small cake for the party – Coconut lemon curd cake (which I have tried once for Prashanthi’s birthday). monica baby showerI wanted to make double layer but I could not handle it. So a single layered cake which received nice appreciative comments from my colleagues. For Thanksgiving get together at my sister’s place, I have made chocolate cup cakes and with all the appreciation I received, I made Sparkling Cranberry Vanilla cup cakes and Chocolate cup cakes for my office Christmas party. Actually 2 days before the party, I was talking to Unnu and checking something on the phone and suddenly these Sparkling Cranberry vanilla cup cakes showed up with the recipe. The pics were so attractive and I thought I should try it and they are instantaneous hit. Again I baked the same combination for the Christmas get-together at Prashanthi’s place.

And I tried my hands on some healthy salads – my very own recipes

Of course I laid my hands on Photography classes another passion I would want to be proficient in – Prashanthi gave me beginner’s photography class (JP Teaches Photo) at Manhattan as a gift for 2017 Christmas and I have used it in March and then I got so excited and registered with them for 3 more classes. So much fun but I have to learn a lot. Mastering the art of photography is one of my ever lasting passions. and it has become a burning desire when volunteers at Isha going around with the state of the art cameras at Isha events especially when the events are led by Sadhguru.

And 35 years at the UN –

I have traveled a lot this year than in any other year of my life since I was born. Year started with my India trip in Feb – where I traveled to Goa and Vizag), then to Philadelphia to attend IE in May, then to Buffalo in May for few days, then again to India in July – visited Isha Ashramam in Coimbattore, kathmandu, Tibet, ManasaSarovar, Kailash, after my return, few days to Boston, and to Raleigh in October to attend Ram Sai’s pellikoduku function, then to Isha Institute at Tennessee to participate in BSP, then to San Francisco to volunteer at IE. I missed the last trip of the year to Van Cover with my vadina which was cancelled at the last minute.

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sadhguru

So many accomplishments, so much to thankful for, so much to looking forward to – the profound effect of Sadhguru on my life changes the way I think, I act and I react and I move on with life as it happens – In is the only way out

I do not know how it unfolds 2019 for me but as an Ishaan, I am ready for life as it is happening and explore every possible dimension of life. My only prayer and wish is let Sadhguru happen to every creature on this universe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A reflection on 2016

A reflection on 2016
All good memories – dreams came true in a blossoming way, discovering inner strengths and talents, taking paths those I even didn’t know they exist, all positive vibes.

pongal-2016Just to showcase my hidden talents – Pongal 2016 at Ramana’s place – I have practiced birds muggu as we planned to have muggulu on that day, but after I had that one, got so much inspired and checked for radham muggu on iPad and just put it on the spot, felt very much blessed.

It all startnagarjunaed with a memorable India trip in Feb/March – I met Nagarjuna (on 5th March) which I never ever dreamt of. Praveen has been asking me and I was asking praveen too about meeting him. But some how in my earlier trips, when ever Praveen asked me and he was shocked  when I was telling him that I was not ready to meet him yet. I truly admire him for many of his qualities and a day in my life wouldn’t pass on without me remembering him atleast once. But i really do not know what I should talk when I had lot to talk and for sure I did not want to meet him for just a photo op. I want him to know atleast a little bit of who I am when I know (I think) so much about him. So I have been postponing this for almost 5 years I think. This imagetime I have mentally prepared to meet him (even though i was not sure what I would talk to him 🙂 ) and I have decided to make a scrap book with some pictures starting from his parents’ pics to his kids’ pics and those all in between – from his real and reel candid shots. I had tons and
tons of his pics on my iphone and iPad – wherever i see a pic I like, I SAVE it. It took me a few days to select the pics from my humongous collection and got them printed. I have ordered scrapbook stuff from amazon.in and took some from here too and bought some stuff at Waldens. I also added some of the articles from my blog. I guess I need a separate blog article for this whole episode as I want to write every little thing related to this event. I got an apt prescription from him.

End of April – we had a baby shower for Prashanthi at my place – the first event that has brought out my hidden talents – I, Prashanthi and Chaitanya unknowingly each other’s ideas thought of Peacock theme for the baby shower. I had to thank Lakshmi Gonji immensely for bringing her artistic mind into this to make this venue a perfect Peacock land. One day, few weeks before the party ,  Lakshmi and I were talking on phone about this theme and in the next 15 min, she has sent me photo of a bird she made with paper (of course that one looked like a turkey, that is a different story) and then we  shopped for some nice paper in peacock colors.prashanthis-baby-shower

We made some banners and the day before the event Lakshmi with the help of Prithi and Babloo made some more peacocks. I was able to buy the gift bags designed with peacocks for return gifts. I found those online a week before after an intense search on the web and we were able to get those just on the day of the event. I even printed the labels with a thank you note with peacocks on it. With out any idea of this theme nor any planning, the sari I got for Prashanthi (my sister’s gift to her) is peacock colored shades one. I have ordered some sweets from Vellanki in Hyderabad and they have sent ladoos in hard boxes so that they won’t break into pieces have big peacock on each of the boxes. Of course, nevertheless to say that the flowers, eucalyptus stems  we used for decoration, the cake and the cup cakes everything is peacock themed.prashanthis-baby-shower1

When Prashanthi and Chaitanya walked into the party room around 4 pm while we were still decorating it were so amused (Prashanthi even complimented that she was feeling like walking into a Peacock land with eucalyptus and fresh flowers aroma is spreading the whole area). Chaitanya felt like he should hire an official photographer to make and preserve the event even memorable. But he could not find any in a short notice and Lakshmi gladly took that responsibility.

Wittheteamh the confidence that we have gained from Prashanthi’s baby shower, we (I, Prashanthi, Lakshmi, Babloo) have established our ‘theTeam – an event management group‘ and initiated this on Guru Pournami day with Baba’s blessings at Flushing Temple

Then came Tanvi’s langa voni event.

tanvi-langa-voniI have asked Sekhar whether we could decorate the party hall (for Tanvi’s langa voni ceremony) and it was confirmed 5 days before the event – the event was Saturday lunch and we were given a green signal on Monday morning I guess. We plunged into the opportunity and had conference calls everyday and with whats app group, Lakshmi, Prashanthi and I came up with ideas and ordering stuff from amazon with prime. We were asked for center pieces on tables – Prashanthi came up with the idea of small dolls garned with langa vonis and lakshmi got the idea of making lotus flowers with paper so that we could keep the dolls on the lotus flower and we could use them as centerpieces on the tables. We have ordered barbie dolls and we used old pattu blouses to make vonis for them and decorated them with some jewelry and bindi etc. We bought a stand for the photo backdrop and some sarees were used as drapes and I made garlands with fresh flowers (carnation and mums in pink, yellow as the color theme for the event was pink and mustard).

Then Vinayaka Chavithi
vinayaka-chavithi-2016
Some how few days before vinayaka chavithi – I had some images in front of my eyes – to arrange flowers in circles and keep Vinayakudu in the center. I had another vision to celebrate Vinayaka Pooja in an open farm amidst nice plants – may be Vinayaka would bring this dream materialize soon as I have a passion for farming and am looking for the options to start something in those lines.

I usually keep some books when I do Pooja on chavithi, and since I am not studying anything new by attending schools, I have just picked up a book from husband’s humongous collection of books. That is another story for my blog (my husband’s voracious passion for books, and music ) and I realized later that the title of the book I picked was Now, discover your inner strengths, so surprised and happy that Vinayaka’s blessings are with me always.
Then Rachana’s sweet sixteen

rachana-sweet16for this event Prashanthi and I have worked with Ramana (Rachana’s mom) to make the decor as beautiful as we could think (dream) of. For this event we had ample time, almost close to a month. The color theme for the event is Aqua Blue – Rachana’s dress color. We have completely taken ownership and used our creative abilities to bring beauty to – Welcome Table, Photo Booth, Sweets Stall, Guest Book, Papers Used for Guest Book, Printing Rachana’s 17 photos (16 birthday pictues + the one on the day she was born). For all the banners we made – Rachana’s Sweet 16, Guest Book, Sweets Stall, Photo Booth – we tried to stick to the theme colors – shades of Blue and white. These banners literally takes several hours to make those big circles with floral arches and the letters – thanks to Martha Stewart Arts and Crafts tools.

#Photo Booth – This one was an instantaneous hit. 1. Hand-made paper flowers – one big blue, two medium sized blue and 4 small white flowers 2. A backdrop for Photobooth 3. Hand-made floral props (became very popular) 4. Sweet Sixteen props designed and printed 5. Small slate.

#Guest Book 1. Hand-made banner ‘Guest Book’ glued to a Blue tulle and put it nicely in a photo frame 2. Printed various pictures of Rachana as watermarks on various colored papers so that guests can write their wishes and those papers would be nicely bound for her to keep it as a beautiful memorabilia.

#Sweets Stall 1. Hand-made banner – Sweets Stall 2. Cup cakes, Cake pops and Cake cones baked by Prashanthi and those are nicely wrapped in fancy decorative paper. We have placed a cherry Blossom tree on the table to bring elegance to the Sweets table.

Printed ‘Thank You’ labels to be affixed to the return gifts. Designed the labels with the birthday girl’s attire, shoes etc with a nice message.

Printed 16 birthday pics of Rachana with an extra one that has been taken on the day she was born which goes on to the 16 Candles table and the rest are nicely positioned on the walls of the party hallrachana-sweet161

Diwali – Worked with some mason jars – nicely wrapped with jute ribbons placing LED light strings inside. Also made paper lanterns with a string of LED lightsdiwali-2016

My office Christmas party –  Everything is hand made except for the raw materials. The decor completely reflects the holiday spirit. Made food place card holders with glass candy canes; Printed some food (our menu) labels with all Christmas based images;

oppba-christmas-party-2016decorated Mason jars which reflect the holiday spirit – lights, snow, pine cones, leaves and the red fruits; Made #GrinchFruitKabobs, Bombay Halwa (an Indian sweet) with Christmas colors; Made a beautiful garland with 100 multi colored lights string by knotting different colored ribbons (red, green, blue, silver, gold, white and jute). Made cotton ball garlands for bringing the snow effect; Made photo props; and finally the backdrop for Photo booth. Used meshed ribbon (close to 2 ft wide), with cotton ball garlands and the lights floral garland as the border with some Christmas decorations. Of course I was there with Canon DSLR and became the official photographer of the event and won the appreciation from many including the admiration and recognition from Ms. Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas (Assistant Secretary-General, Controller Department of Management)

New York Cares giving gifts to kids project – with the help of family, friends and colleagues was able to answer 105 kids’ wishes. New York Cares – Give Holiday Gifts 2016

My floral Christmas Tree – read about my passion for having a Christmas Tree at home christmas-tree-week-2

my-christmas-tree-christmas-week

On my birthday – I have been seriously thinking of celebrating my birth in a different way from next year onwards (regretted for not doing anything constructive this year) _ I I had a beautiful experience at the place I go to volunteer two days of a week – teach Math and English to students (adults) who are preparing for college entrance exams.

birthday2016The place where I go to teach (through New York Cares) is 1199 medical insurance company. They had a tutor appreciation day dinner a week before my birthday and I could not attend that one. Today when I was working
with my two students, the coordinator asked me to see her supervisor after the class as she had some gifts for all the tutors (I went to the class yesterday but she did not say anything) I wasbirthdat-gift-2 still with the students and her supervisor came to me and handed over this to me in a small gift bag, I thought there were some cookies, I came home and opened it and to my surprise I found a data bank and on that engraved Rabindranath Tagore’s quote, very emotional moment to me, a perfect birthday gift from Baba, my parents and my beloved husband, I was in tears 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻”

Taking all these beautiful memories and with the confidence and strength they have provided, and with Baba’s protection, guidance and grace and the love and support from my dear parents and my beloved husband, walking into 2017 to unveil more talents and to blossom into a better human being