Bagmati River Cleanup Campaign

Bagmati River Cleaning Campaign
Chain of Volunteers Cleaning Bagmati River

Just as I was named Goodwill Ambassador for cleaning Bagmati recently, I became fearful of my voluntary job. What if I fail to achieve some concrete results in the cleaning project of Mother Bagmati River? This is the lifeline of humans, cattle and vegetation in and around the precious and picturesque Kathmandu. Our home is so beautiful yet it has been plagued by irresponsible human behavior of throwing trash, garbage and plastic poison in the holy river. As an achiever, I value success I wish and hope for success in every endeavor I embark upon. I hope it ends with some tangible value for my community and myself. And, I am talking about my hometown, Kathmandu.

Manisha Koirala during the Bagmati River Cleaning CampaignEarlier on when I was appointment Goodwill Ambassador to Natural Disaster Fund, post the massive earthquake that my country faced. I remember the immense suffering of the people in Sindhupal and adjacent effected areas. How can I forget the young mother who was blankly staring at the horizon, her mind far away, trying to solve problems that had engulfed so many people, people with destroyed homes and perished hopes of finding their loved ones. The physical tremors of the massive quake may have subsided but what there are still challenging days where family members are lost, where homes, hopes and will are crushed. How to repair homes, rebuild lives and relive the dreams they had lost? While I took my appointment seriously and held many high level meetings, I must admit the results were disappointing. So little was done, so little achieved, so little hopes revived. During Sajha Sawal, it became starkly clear we had failed the earthquake victims. We all share that burden of non-delivery at the most critical time of our recent tragedy. No I’m not alone in this failure – the rulers, bureaucrats, the government in succession have failed. I feel ashamed for this non-delivery. Do ALL others who were accountable and responsible, feel as ashamed? I sincerely do question.

WhatsApp Image 2017-06-24 at 3.43.49 PMIn 2010, post my marriage, Kathmandu became my home and cleaning Bagmati was one of my personal ambition and for that I had formed a core group. In the process of research we met and discovered about Vaidya who tirelessly worked everyday to clean the river. My professional life then took me back to Mumbai. After seven years, the challenge and opportunity is again in front of me. I am really excited to fulfill my dream to create a clean Bagmati for all the valley residents and the habitat.

Manisha Koirala during the Bagmati River Cleaning CampaignWhatsApp Image 2017-06-24 at 3.37.10 PMIn the process of working for cleaning for Bagmati I had the opportunity to have two most important meetings. One was with the government body and the other one was with a group of dedicated volunteers. It seems to me, that both the government and the volunteers are quiet earnest about this issue. During the government body meeting, it was made clear that they have thought through a permanent solution, which would indeed take a few years, provided we dedicatedly work towards it. The solution would also require large amounts of funding. The core issues they wish to tackle included:

  • The building two dams so that the flow of water is consistent throughout the year and the flushing of the garbage happens.
  • Separation of the sewage system from the river.
  • Plotting plants near the river to purify the water.
  • The encroachment of the river and the land around it, this has to be tackled well.
  • Beautification of the river site in which many companies have already committed.

Manisha Koirala during the Bagmati River Cleaning CampaignWhatsApp Image 2017-06-24 at 3.37.10 PM

What I learnt in the meeting with the dedicated volunteers was that they have taken this cleaning campaign as a symbol to bring about good values in life. That’s why, without any financial support or any selfish gain they volunteer in the clean Bagmati campaign. Every Saturday, on their holiday, they are up from 7am to 9am, for two hours they go and pick other peoples garbage. No self-interest, no money involved, they in fact even put money from their pocket. They do service without any selfish interest and they are dedicated to it until Bagmati is not clean completely.

Manisha Koirala during the Bagmati River Cleaning Campaign
With the volunteers of Bagmati River Cleaning Campaign

Looking at them, and being fully fully aware of my responsibilities and also about my serious limitations about being able to deliver, I do carry hopes that together we will succeed. A goodwill Ambassador has very limited, restrictive power and few resources at disposal. But I know that I can raise my voice, advise for right actions, bring people on board, and show faith and commitment, which of course I shall do. Every day, I will hope and work for better tomorrow with cleaner Bagmati and fresh air. We are all entitled to this dream. This must be delivered. We must not fail again.

On Women Empowerment

What does women empowerment actually mean? To me it means the ability to control my life; to confidently make a decision for myself, and to have the ability to dream, aspire and achieve goals. To live a full life the way life is meant to be lived, for me that is empowerment.

Swami Vivekanand Ji had once said said, “There is no chance of the welfare of the world unless the condition of the women is improved, for it is not possible for a bird to fly only on one wing.” and it is important to talk about this for in a patriarchal society like ours when a boy is born there is so much of pride and so much of joy, “beta hua hai-beta hua hai.” We hear that with so much of pride and joy, but is it their the same pride and joy when a girl child is born?

Let me share my personal story. When I was born, my Nanaji, my mum’s father, made a disappointed face. My mum was deeply hurt. She didn’t speak to him for weeks, and when I got to know about this years later, I was deeply hurt too. It made me wonder that why my birth did not give joy to my grandfather?

I found a common thinking behind this, which is so common in everybody that beta is a symbol of security and bread winner- “Hamare budhape ka sahara banega, Budhape ka lathi, Hamara vansh chalyega.” Whereas, the moment a girl is born, a sense of responsibility comes. Her safety/security becomes the prime most important thing for a parent, and the best way to ensure that is to get her married. To me it appears as though the responsibility is shunned from one hand to other.

Let us take a journey into a woman’s life from the time she is conceived in a mother’s womb till the time she dies. First issue, female infanticide, almost 50% girls under the age of 18 are married off. India and Nepal both featured lowest in female literacy.

Next, dowry issues, this problem is not only available for the poor and uneducated, but I was appalled to know that this problem exists in the middle class and upper middle class families too.

Domestic violence, crimes like assault, kidnap, rape, and acid attacks. When we hear so many stories on the news, it makes me wonder aren’t there laws? But of course we have laws, but implementing these laws are a problem because of the legal loopholes. There is a need to implement the laws so that there is a fear of the law. We need to hear more stories like if there is crime committed against woman, he is punished by the law. We need to see more examples like this.

Another rampant issue, income inequality. Imagine your equally talented, equally hardworking and equally sincere in your job as your male colleague, but just because your colleague is a male, he would get 25% more income. Is this fair?

As a Bollywood actress, I my story to share. There was a time when I was doing a lot of movies, and I was at the top of my game. I was shocked to know that the difference between my salary and the hero’s salary was huge. I thought I was important for the film, but when I saw this, I was hurt and disappointed. I asked the producer of this, told him that this makes me feel unwanted and small. Think about it, why don’t they make movies with only men, if female actors are not valued enough?

Finally, and the most important point is political participation. We have almost 50% of the \ voters as women, yet only 11% member of parliament are women. Imagine, if we have more women on decision-making chairs, on policy making and changing chairs; the kind of parliament we would have, and the kind of government we would have. We need more women in our boardrooms, in our courtrooms, in our schools and universities. The kind of society we would be making. The kind of nation we would be having.

I asked a question to myself: What can I write that would add value to you dear reader? Not long ago; some years back. When I was young, I saw double standards in our society, and in my work area. It angered me, and then I became a rebel. A rebel without a cause. I am not saying that’s the best way to be or that’s the best way to react. Many years later with a couple of wrong decisions, I now know better.

I am a little wise now, and in times of confusion, and in times of disappointment there is a better way to deal with, which is to stay inspired with the great ladies that this country had already produced. We had Rani Lakshmi Bai known as Jhansi ki rani. We had Ahilya Bai, and we had a Kalpana Chawla, we had a Mother Teresa. There are so many women, we need can be inspired by them. When it is in our culture, and in our history, for in our genes then why not take benefit from that. Let us remember them, and in times of confusion never forget who we are, we are Shakti, the wisdom to deal with life’s problems is all within us.

My Experience At Mahakumbh

Manisha Koirala with Pilot baba at Mahakumbh 2016

During the Maha Kumbha, city of Ujjain witnessed a gathering of 60 million people. I have had a longing to go to such places since 2013 when I was in bed dealing with cancer and uncertainty of my life loomed over me. My mother’s guru Sri Pilot Baba was present with his followers and my mother was constantly on phone during that time, there was so much talk happening, so, to see a grand event of unimaginable scale, I had made a promise to my self that I will experience it at least once..if life allowed me !!

It so happened this year mothers day coincided with it and my mom wished to go as she had prayed for my life…dwadash jyotirling trip was my promise to mom n her promise to god..

Here are some glimpses:Manisha Koirala at mahakumbh 2016

Manisha Koirala at Mahakumbh 2016

Would I do it again? Yes for sure !!!!! I love India’s rich tradition, millions of people coming together with devotion in their hearts and yearning for moksham.Where else can I see such a sight? In the rich company of naga sadhus, sages and saint..I was in bliss ! 🙂

Manisha Koirala at Mahakumbh 2016

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Sleep…zzz

My brother said ‘if you can’t sleep, try and do something, like watch a film, read a book, listen to music etc..  as I have been terrified of waking up in the night I could NEVER really enjoy any of this. Heart pounding, head buzzing with worry and whole of next day..being a zombie. I have struggled with insomnia for ten years , may be more..and I know how bad it is! My worst nightmare was to lie awake, without my sleeping pills , which I had gotten so used to..(doctors in my family prescribed low dose of Ativan after doing a lot of effort in convincing because its highly addictive ) as a result I got hugely dependent on tabs to help me sleep…

I guess years of unskillful lifestyle bombarded with stress, erratic shooting hours in nights or staying up late in parties..could be the trigger. Health deteriorates if we don’t get 8 to 9 hrs of sleep daily, specially our immune system goes for a toss. Sleep is a very important aspect of healing as in this time our cells are getting regenerated and recharges too.

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lavender soap, bath oil and bath salts

My tried and tested methods are.

1) No caffeine in the evening.

2) Slow down the pace of activity as the night falls.

3) Take hot bath (l m a big fan of lavender oil,soaps,bath salts).

4) Soft music..relax.

5) meditate, do breath watch n meditate. I FIND THIS SPECIALLY EFFECTIVE FOR SLEEP.

6) NO TV and No comp (this one is my struggle as I get free in evening and would like to check my mails or catch up on news etc..hence I m mindful that I won’t switch on comp or tv after n if I do its only for 30 mins and thats all).

7) Read a book.

8) Fix a time to go to bed n wake up, this really works as body loves discipline. BUT  my freedom from it actually happened after a long stint in oneness university as the result of my intense prayers!! The day I could sleep without tab peacefully for 8 hrs, I celebrated with my teachers in oneness university!!

Interestingly I stumbled upon articles on plants that promotes sleep..wow, who could think of that?

Aloe vera is an excellent indoor plant. 

Lavender plant..You may have used lavender essential oil, but have you ever tried growing your own lavender plant? 

Jasmine plant.. Just smelling this plant may help to reduce anxiety and stress.

English ivy.. is classy and easy to grow and this affordable plant may help you to significantly improve the quality of sleep.  

Snake plant..are easy to keep alive and are great for interior decorating. Snake plants are believed to improve air quality by filtering the air and thus improving the overall atmosphere of a home.  

The purer the air the better sleep at night and more productivity during the day!  

I read anything under the sky about insomnia, talk about it passionately as I KNOW  the struggle. So I will suggest few good articles on insomnia and how to get rid of it.

AND  at the cost of sounding cliché i will say..”YOU CAN DO IT..IF I CAN SO CAN YOU”” 

Good reads..

To Redefine Life, Simply Change Your Values

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I simply love Cynthia Occelli’s words: “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”

Inside that tiny seed lies the potential of  becoming a huge, sturdy, fruit –filled , flower laden, leaf-canopied  tree, which can provide a home to numerous birds and give shade to many travelers. But can the uninitiated see that?

Life is all about re-invention, re-alignment, re-defining oneself. It is in this challenge that growth lies. Those who miss this point, misunderstand the purpose of this beautiful journey called life.

Each decade of our lives gives us a chance to pause, reflect, refill our souls, drop dead chains that bind us and to joyously soar into the skies towards our ecstasy.

Having travelled through the hurly burly of my life, with all its myriad experiences: the good, the sad and the unforgettable, I feel as if I am now able to view everything in a sharper focus. All seems rain-drop washed, lime-fresh, wind-cleaned and crystal-clear. With this new-found maturity everything non-essential, non-interesting, non-valuable seems to be whittling away from my being, leaving me to focus on that shining Core inside that defines my essence and IS me!

At this beautiful juncture of my life in my fourth decade, I have hit upon my personal formula  for growth and happiness: To redefine life, simply change your values.

How have I done that?

I have consciously evolved from being shallow to deep, from being outward-looking to being inward-seeking and from being a limited human to becoming an unlimited, spiritual being. No longer for me the dead chains of my past’s value system. Today, I rejoice in the simple, the mundane, the ordinary…

Earlier, my life was all about “working hard and partying hard.” I loved rebelling against established norms, simply because I loved rebelling. Perhaps  the title of “rebel without a cause” suited me perfectly back then.

I was brash and outspoken and said whatever came to my mind, without thinking of any consequences. Today, I cringe when I re-read some of my earlier interviews. I wonder, ‘Who was I, back then?’

I used to spend a lot of time and money on shopping. The clothes had to be up-to-the-minute and the bags had to be  designer. Labels mattered.  In fact, in my girlie group, we all bought, displayed and bought some more, just for kicks. Shopping was mindless fun.

Then— Life happened….

With that, came a sharp change in perspective. I suddenly began looking at life from the other end of the telescope and was struck by its vastness and magnificence. Suddenly, all material things seemed to shrink before the majesty of Life itself. I was in awe.  At first, the shift happened in my heart…then in my mind and finally… in my entire being. I felt reborn, revamped and renewed. So how could such a new person carry old values?

Don’t get me wrong. I still love pretty clothes, bags and material comforts. The difference is I am not consumed by them.

I have hit upon the truth that life is Simple. It is we who make it Complex. Therefore, true joy lies in simplifying one’s value system. The new me is a Holistic person and am I enjoying it? You bet!

I now give value to things that make my everyday life better, healthier and  therefore, more fulfilled.

Here is a list of things that interest me now:-
1) The exciting decision to choose between a blender and a juicer. What is the value a good choice will give me? It will give me good quality green juices. And that will boost my health by keeping my body alkaline . i came across vitamix through my sister in law as she has always been a health freak .  vitamix

2) Choosing the right coordinated and comfortable gym clothes.

3) Membership in a good Health Club. I feel blessed that a good Health Club and a Spa has sprung up near my home. Members get private trainers and clean equipment. Besides, I love going to “The Club” for an occasional swim and my morning-evening strolls.  inch by inch

4) I have been super excited about my new bike. I have to thank my neighbor and old pal Shahid for initiating this! But I must admit that I am still a little wary about the traffic in my city. Yet, every time I whizz away, I think about what a great investment it has been!
5) My Yoga/ Pranayam classes with my brilliant teachers Shambhu ji and Abhay ji I love Pranayam and while breathing, never forget to send gratitude to the heavens for the magic of the breath. read more on..

6) Organic foods—I simply love them. I am a huge fan of Whole Foods. I also feel that if organic vegetables are expensive, they are certainly worth it! Farmers market Bandra

(Ah, how I ❤ my organic Farmers’ Market visits on Sundays, as also shopping at other stores like Nature’s Basket in Mumbai and Whole Food store in NYC.

7)A good Nutritionist– I accidentally found out that my ESR level was high, instead of my IGF-1 level. ..meaning I had high inflammation. I began looking desperately for a good Nutritionist and thankfully stumbled upon my very reliable Rachna Chachi.read more..

8) A good doctor/hospital I can rely on. After 30, I strongly recommend periodic check-ups.I love seven hills as its very clean and doesn’t  have the smell of a hospital 😉 seven hills Mumbai

9) Newer researches on Wellness. It’s s whole new world out there. Why not discover it  by being fit and healthy?

10) Good skin/face products. Especially after 40, one must make very informed choices. Nothing should harm  our precious bodies.

And has this switch to a healthier lifestyle made me a complacent, contented being who has finally found what she was looking for? No way! It has only spurred me on towards newer frontiers. It has turned me into an energy –filled, luminous being who is hungry for the latest research, breakthroughs and offers on health and wellness. I want to Be more… to Do more…

Here’s My Wish List:-
1. Attending and organizing Cooking classes on healthier options.

2.Going for Ayurvedic /Health Retreats in order to understand my body… to discover and customize what exactly works for me.

3.Increasing  my circle of friends who are into Wellness.

4.Reading and writing more on Wellness- on the blessings of life and living.

5. Contributing more.

6. Spending more time  with Nature.

7. Focusing on buying skin products that will make me look the best at my age rather than make me look younger than my age. I do want to look the best at my age without cosmetic surgery. I would rather be dignified, slim, fit and healthy than an artificially beautified clone.

8 .Becoming  more organised.

9. Doing only those films that give me joy while I am on the sets.

10. Being more positive, more happy and certainly laughing more!

11. Spend more time in self growth, I can’t stress more on how important Oneness University has been for me since its a topic which needs a lot of space to do justice,I would write more on this soon but for time being read on..Oneness University

Today, I no longer care about carrying the latest designer bag as my arm candy. I even don’t care about travelling in Economy Class. Life is all about finding the joy inside yourself, rather than seeking it outside–in things.

It is funny how a little shift in perspective can bring such a huge shift in values, is it not?

I am finally brimming with Life….

Joy Unlimited,

Manisha Koirala.

Gratitude

Some of us go through entire life complaining and not notice that life is a gift. We get so engrossed in our day to day activities that we fail to notice the magic that life gives us free of cost!!

How many times do we notice the early morning sky, the grandeur of sunset,the flock of birds passing by..the miraculous colours of a flower & leaves..

Lets take a deep breath and be thankful for this life. Our own body is a marvel of intelligence. The way its design, it knows exactly how to pump blood in the heart, how many times the heart needs to beat and how to digest. Our body has more intelligence then we can comprehend and do we ever wonder what have we done to deserve this? This life, this body and everything that comes with it.. It is a gift.

Whichever muscle works more, becomes stronger, we can either complain or be grateful, we decide.

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Whichever muscle works more, becomes stronger, we can either complain or be grateful, we decide. Picture Courtesy – Mike Baldwin.

 

Benefits of Gratitude

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Do’s & Don’ts

  • Notice your day to day world and keep a journal.
  • Constantly focus on positive things
  • Give compliments, and MEAN it!
  • Be genuinely interested  when listening to others..
  • Vow to not complain/ criticise for 7 days, as a practice..
  • During tough situations ask yourself “what lesson is here for me?

Self love

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Self love is a foundation everything is built on..it gives us clarity and direction..it is an empowering attitude of taking ownership of your life and not being a victim! When I faced death I realised I had not lead a mindful life, even though I was at the top of my career! I promised to do things differently if I got a second chance on life..rest is left on god..

It’s a lifelong journey to discover the self and its important..

What worked for me..?

  • Sit quietly, pay attention and get clarity – revaluate life, i.e on a scale 1 to 10 where are you now? your job, relationships, finance, health..and it’s important to be honest! (please be mindful that we tend to lie to ourselves much more then to others).
  • Have the courage to change..we know change is toughest yet most rewarding. To change any unhealthy habits we need to locate the thoughts or the values attached to it (this is broad topic but being aware about the thoughts itself is freedom).
  • Be kind..Be kind..Be kind..to your self – in my opinion discipline is over rated, for example 90% times new year resolutions gets broken and we beat ourselves for it. Juxtapose to it, it’s better being kind and gently putting ourselves on right track every time we divert.
  • Focus – on “what” rather than “how”. Be resilient, persistent and inspired till you achieve your goal.

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Once we are on alignment with our true nature and calling we can lead a fulfilled life and THEN we can also authentically love others.

 

Rediscovering my new me!

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Picture Courtesy – Zakia

My health challenged me to rethink and drove me to understand deep rooted (unconscious) issues as we are fairly well accustomed to our obvious.. Though change of habit is one of the biggest challenges of human beings..its necessary for growth!

There are few aspects of life that are important and I will share those with you.

Join me in this journey and rephrase our lives..