“There are two gifts we should give our children, one is roots and the other is wings!”
My roots lie in the milk city of India – Anand, and my wings were woven by my parents and teachers. I was born in the city of Nizams, but the first 15 years of my life were spent in the beautiful and diverse campus of NDDB. I went to one of the best schools in India (Anandalaya – stands so true to its name) and that is where I have had the best and the most significant learnings of my life. My school not just gave me the best academic background but strengthened my interests. And the life at NDDB campus added colors to my personality. In simple words, today, I owe my success, my values and my versatility to this sort of an upbringing. I believe those early years of my life moulded me into the person I am.
“The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing and arithmetic… music, dance, painting and theater are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment” – said the Former US secretary of Education, William Bennet. Indeed, when children start undertaking all kinds of activities that they get exposed to, at their schools and homes, they begin to explore a new dimension in their personality. In fact, only when people have a chance to get their hands dirty at so many activities, do they actually figure out what they would actually excel at. Such trials help us to come out of our shells and carve the genius in us.
I chose to write this article, when one day I was asked by one of the fellow-ISB admits as to what was the USP of my application to ISB. I was quite confused because there wasn’t one particular aspect which attributed to my conversion. It was somewhere a blend of various initiatives and activities that I had taken up right from childhood.
I was just 4 years old my mom says, when I would stand in front of the TV and dance to Hindi songs. That’s when my mom had decided to hold my hand and take me to the Bharatnatyam classes. Dressed up in white chudidar and a red duppatta with oiled hair, I was taken care by my dance teacher, who assured my mom that she would bring out the best in me. And 9 years from then, I remember I was dancing in front of a crowd of 2000 people, bold and confident, with a lot of poise and elegance. I had not just made my family and guru proud, but I had also completed my journey to being a graceful dancer. Dancing has always been about expression and involvement, sublimating my emotions into rhythmic moves and subtle expressions. Dancing of any kind brings solace to my disturbed soul and strikes a balance in me, which still holds true.
I extended this practice to many other forms that were taught at school – folk dance, semi-classical, western and bollywood, and till date, dancing has not just been a fun and a passionate activity, it has also been therapeutic and unleashing. My love for dance sowed the seeds for learning music. While I was an excellent bathroom singer, this time my father initiated and took me to a Carnatic music teacher to teach me vocals. Somehow, out of my new-found interest for singing after watching Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, I grasped music quickly. I was given plenty chances at school as well to perform as a part of the choir, which built the singer in me. Although my primary interest even today lies in singing filmy songs, I believe the Carnatic touch has brought excellent voice modulation and pitch adjustment to my singing. In fact, to an extent, these classical learnings have introduced stability and nurtured the artist in me.
Living in a campus community has always encouraged me to learn whatever new I find around me. That time around, my fondness for sports had grown to a huge extent. I had taken lessons in badminton, volleyball, throwball, running, kho-kho and kabbadi from my Sports teacher who boosted our sportsmanship through such games. Also, he had even persuaded me to participate in the zonal level Discuss throw competition, which I had eventually lost. Nevertheless, dabbling with sports has taught me quite significant lessons of mental strength, never-give-up attitude and team skills. And the firelight for being so physically active and fit has continued in the form of Yoga and Zumba. I came across Yoga when I was looking for some sort of a relief to my persistent headaches. But once I began exploring this new territory of flexibility and bodily challenge, I started enjoying the whole process of transforming myself into somebody so physically and mentally controlled. When I began the yoga classes, I remember telling my father, “I think my body is disproportionate because I don’t seem to reach my toes easily”. He had replied saying, “Tell me the same after a few weeks”. Within 6 weeks, I had found myself so toned and flexible that I could perform holdings and stretches for continuous 2-3 minutes! I believe, I had achieved this challenge too, and later this keen interest led to me teaching a few of my friends and relatives the art of doing yoga. I began to preach what I had practiced.
And preaching brings to my mind another compelling effort taken by me in the territory of Mentoring. After getting associated with a lot of NGOs, I have mentored children at government schools, orphanages, employees of a few companies and continue to mentor my peers on subjects concerned to them and I believe I have made astonishing connects with the people I have met so far with this kind of unconditional engagement.
It has been quite a thrilling experience for me to juggle across many activities (writing being the latest) and ultimately I have re-discovered myself each time I have indulged in something new. I strongly believe that experimentation always leads to great and unexpected results. Episodes like these embolden our charisma and keep us flying high limitlessly with a great swag!
So what’s stopping you? Want to improve public speaking and communication skills? Join Toastmasters. Want to improve writing? Start a Blog. Want to try out new recepies without depending on anyone? Learn how to cook. Want to get fit? Enroll for a marathon and start training.
And it’s never too late. You might be some 15 year old confused teenager reading this, or a 30 year old who is stuck in some run of the mill regular job – it doesn’t matter. I have seen people over 60 years of age attending harmonium sessions in Music Classes. All it takes is some effort to convince yourself that yes, you can do something different!
“Wherever you go, whatever the weather, carry your own sunshine“