What Freedom Means To Me

I spent a whole hour yesterday trying to “google” the words freedom and independence. And lo! There is a long list of various meanings and connotations that these words have. Of course, the meaning and implication of these words is very subjective, and depends largely on the context it is used in, but personally have we ever tried to define it for ourselves? We read about freedom, dream about freedom, rejoice and celebrate it, even advocate it, but do we really know what freedom is?

What does freedom look like? Is it the voter’s ballot, or permission for a late-night party? Is it to be free from any debt or a person walking out of prison? We must know what freedom means to us, if we are seeking it every single moment!

We often confuse the word freedom with independence. Independence, in no way, means freedom. And freedom is not dependent on independence. Since the time we have come on this planet, we are all inter-dependent on each other for our well-being. It is practically impossible to do everything ourselves, at work or at home.

The first time I thought I was “free” was back in Junior college- a decade ago! I had my vehicle, could meet my friends whenever I wanted, and could sometimes bunk classes as well! This started to look so immature when I shifted to Mumbai for my undergrad. That is when I thought I was really, in true sense, free! No permissions, no deadlines, and my own ATM card! Also, the pride of living “independently” was unparalleled. The feeling when I earned my first ever salary was supremely incomparable. When I look back now, I wonder whom was I kidding?

I have realized that the trick is find freedom in our thoughts, while ‘life’ is happening around us. Right this moment.

We often feel trapped – sometimes by destiny or circumstances, other times by some external force or our own mistakes. In most situations, we react in an auto-pilot mode. We are not even aware that we are letting our mind make a choice at that instant, besides ultimately blaming others or situations for our misery!

Freedom, for me, is being able to choose my thoughts and actions as a response to any situation thrown at me, without getting influenced by external negativity or my internal conflict! Freedom is a state of mind. We ourselves are responsible for our freedom. No body forces us to think in one way or the other; nobody can get into our mind except ourselves.

Freedom begins with us. Our actions. Our decisions. Our choice.

On this Independence Day, let us free ourselves of our past actions, bad memories, fears, conflicts, old patterns of thinking and behaving, and let go of everything that is trapped within us or has trapped us. Why should we stay in prison when the door is wide open?

Freedom is just a thought away. Let us create the thought today!

(This is my column in Deshdoot Times, Nashik – 15 Aug, 2015)

A Very Colourful White-Wedding!

A few days back, I attended a traditional Belgian wedding. I was so excited when Bruno (well, that is another story about how he is family) informed us about his wedding! Of course travelling to Europe was like a side-effect of it, but this highlight turned out to be so much fun!

I felt the contrast in an Indian and a Western wedding right from the beginning. Having come from a kattar Marwari family, and attended a lot of these great fancy Indian weddings, dressing for a western one was so different! How can you attend a wedding without wearing things that do not weigh double your weight? That’s blasphemy!
Anyway, all formal prim and proper, we left for the church. We did not understand anything that happened there, since it was all in French, but the kiss signaled that the main part was right there! Yes, I am smart that way! It was so nice of Bruno to say a part of his speech – that is not elaborated in the movies – in Shudh Hindi. Very heartfelt, we were so touched! Love you, bhai! 😀

What came later was a great surprise!
The wedding party then shifted to the outdoors, at a resort nearby, and was called – The Sunmount Festival.
There were these funky badges, and entry bands tied around our wrist at the entrance. Custom made neon glasses were all over the place. Champagne was served at the entrance, with tables already laid out with snacks. Every family member was given like an ID card with their name and title written on it! It was a bright sunny day in Belgium – a celebration in itself!

A full-day event was planned, with a few stand-ups, photography session, video session, dance party et al lined up. Bruno composed and sang a song for Carolina, while playing four instruments simultaneously! How wonderful that was! A very helpful Italian family member of Bruno’s helped us with all the translation, and made us feel so much at home! In fact everyone there seemed thrilled to have us, coming from so far for the event, and were so helpful, so courteous, that it did made us feel like a part of their culture, their family.

We spent the entire day at the ‘carnival’. The photography session took place in the backdrop of a tree, with funky props to choose from for everybody – right from bows to mustaches, tiaras, bunny ears they had it all!

We left tired. We left happy. We left with good memories, a different experience, and with prayers for the bride and the groom.