Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Walk

Bangalore is a beautiful city to be in around Christmas.

The air tastes better,the people seem to be a little kinder, the sunshine is just enough to keep me warm and maybe it’s just a subjective feeling, but I find that there seems to be a little red in everything I see in December.
Winter Wonderland at the Phoenix Mall in Bangalore
Almost everyone I know has a Christmas and New Year tradition that’s close to their heart, something they do very year to make the season all the more special.

Lighting the stars, decorating the tree, writing letters to Santa, family vacations, shopping, baking, wine making, caroling, reaching out to loved ones living far away, midnight mass, exchanging gifts, the list goes on and on and on.
Christmas tree O Christmas tree 
I too have one tradition that is very close to my heart, something I do every year; this month’s blog post is about how it all began.

2000 AD was a landmark year, I consider myself very lucky to have been around when the world as we know it entered a new millennium.

The whole universe at that time was abuzz with the Y2K phenomenon, predictions were being made, concerts were being organized, Every human being on the entire planet seemed to be up to something on December 31st 1999.

I am yet to witness a frenzy surrounding the New Year as insane as that leading to the dawn of 2000, even the whole doomsday affair of 2012 couldn't get close to the mania I was a part of 14 years ago.

Anticipating in advance that school would be closed on new years eve, we had an party in our class just before our winter vacation began.

That morning, I stood before my classmates wearing a very solemn expression on my face.

In a somber tone I told them how there was a good chance that the world would end that year and if they had some unresolved conflicts with their friends they must set things right with them by the end of the day, I remember concluding with the line “You may never get another chance to do this”.

My speech although brief was very effective. The class was quiet for most part of the day, sworn enemies set aside their differences, best friends sat together for the whole day and I finally managed to forgive Anand for breaking my water bottle, apparently he had ‘accidentally’ kicked it while aiming for my leg a few months ago.

We acted as though we were really ushering in the new millennium at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon on Dec 21st 1999 , we changed the date on the board to 01/01/Y2K and jumped around the class for an hour or so hugging each other and screaming the words HAPPY NEW YEAR as loud as our lungs would allow us too.

Back home, the members of our locality had planned a huge party. Preparations had begun months in advance, the venue was decided, the food menu was approved by all residents and yes, we had made arrangements for enough fireworks to light up our skies for at least an hour that night.

The excitement in the air was palpable.

With few hours left to go for the party, something unexpected happened

It was just after lunch, I was in my brothers room.

“Will you be joining us for the party tonight”? I asked him.

“Read this”. He said as he smiled, handed me the magazine he was reading and left the room.

It was the millennium edition of time, the pages my brother had folded for me to read were articles detailing what some of the world’s most popular people had planned to do on the last day of the year.

Many celebrities were traveling to exotic getaways well known for hosting the world’s most lavish New Years eve parties, quite a few of them were performing at times square in New York, many others were looking forward to watching the fireworks display at the Sydney harbor or at the Auckland sky tower and just as I was about to turn the page my eyes fell on a small paragraph stating what famous boxer Evander Holyfield was planning to do that year.

‘Must be something wild’ I thought to myself

Holyfield had written these words - 'I will be spending the night at Church'.

What ? Really? I exclaimed loudly.

For a while I couldn’t believe what I had just read, why would the world heavyweight champion spend the last night of the millennium in Church when he could rather be out do something more exciting.

I wrestled with my thoughts.

The time to leave for the party was drawing closer, but now the excitement I was feeling earlier was replaced by a deep sense of curiosity.

I had to see for myself what spending New Years Eve at Church was like.
Four time World Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield
I asked my parents to tell my friends that I wouldn't be able to make it for the party that night and I left for Church with my brothers.

The Church was full, but inside there was pin drop silence.
The bishop was leading the gathering in a meditation of sorts, he encouraged us to keep our eyes closed and think about the year that had just gone by, trying to recollect as much as possible.

After overcoming the initial restlessness I had, that arose out of a feeling of possibly missing all the fun at the party I gave in, I closed my eyes and reflected on all of 1999 that I could bring back to memory.

When I opened my eyes, the service had ended, most of the people in the Church had left including the bishop.

I looked at my watch, there was still time for me to make it to the party, but I didn't care about it any longer.
I had stumbled upon something much more valuable.

I stepped out into the cold and started walking toward home.

My heart was overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude so deep that I felt my heart would explode.

I continued walking, purposefully taking a longer route than normal to get home.

Images from the past 1 year of my life raced through my head at the speed of light.

After thinking about all that I had been through in the past year my thoughts turned to all that I expected from the year that was just about to begin.

Gratitude now made way for a unfathomable sense of hope.

When I reached home I felt more positive than I ever had in my life before, I looked once again at my watch and rushed upstairs, something incredible was just about to happen, I could feel it in my heart.

Barely seconds after I stepped on to the roof, loud explosions lit up the sky and I witnessed the finest firework display I had ever seen in my life before.

With folded hands I looked heavenward and whispered the words, ‘Thank You, Thank You for everything that You have given me and for all that I have’.

December 31st 1999 was the day my favorite tradition of the Christmas season started, something I simply refer to as ‘The Walk’.

As I grew older and my life experiences increased both in number and variety the time I spent on the walk increased.

I wonder how long the walk of 2014 will last.

It has been a very eventful year after all.

2014 was a year that taught me how important it was to never give up no matter how hard things got, how sometimes in life quitting is not an option.

I learnt that our hearts beat the loudest when they are breaking and with that realization also came the understanding that pain is proof that we’re alive, that we’re human and that we are still capable of love.

Most importantly, 2014 was the year when I realized that faith hope and love can give us the strength to weather all of life's storms.

I know most of you all have already decided what you will be doing this New Years eve, and honestly all I want for you is to be safe.

In case you haven’t made any plans or are yet to receive those exclusive invites to the biggest parties in the places you live in, do take a few minutes to think back on the year that has just passed, I hope that when you do this your heart will fill up with gratitude for all that has happened and hope for all that is on its way.

I wish for you all that the coming year will be so incredible that you will run out of time counting your blessings 365 days from now on new years eve 2015.

And yes, if you are by any chance in my neck of the woods,spend your new years eve with me, lets walk together.

Until next time.