Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Before you fly, reach out to the Edge....


On my way to office, I drive on the road that curves along the banks of Ulsoor lake, breathing in the fresh air moistened by the serene waters. And everyday i see him, sitting by the road side. He must be more than 70, in worn out dirty clothes, with his tools by the side. He repairs two-wheelers, mostly cycles and mostly fixes a punctured tyre. All the time that i've seen him, he's sitting there, looking nowhere, waiting for a broken bicycle to come his way so that he can fix it and make some money. A few times he lies down on the footpath, his toolkit becoming his pillow, the exhaustion of his age stretching on his fragile body. I pass by him wondering if I could be of help in any way, thinking about the inner fire that burns in this old man---the fire that keeps him going.

He's a man on the edge, and I see many such men and women, living on the edge. A fruit vendor who slices an assortment of fruits into a mouth-watering bowl for 20 Rs, a ground-nut vendor who fries nuts on his cart, standing all day, another lady sitting by the roadside stringing jasmine buds into long garlands, a family of husband, wife and girl frying bajji-bondas on a cold evening, an old muslim on weak legs pushing his vegetables cart over long empty roads.....  Their grit, their sorrow and anguish and fear, their hopes and beliefs and their helplessness---these intrigue me. What's their life like? How do they survive...on what hope? A day of rains and their business is washed out...maybe some of them have to sleep hungry. Yet they wake up the next day and promptly arrive at their place, with a hope of wading through another day. What is it that pushes them further or  pulls them along the rough and tough existence of everyday life? Is it an indomitable will? A tremendous love for life and its little-big joys? Or a harsh merciless existence that leaves them with no choice but to get up and fight each day? Or are they too numb to even think anything but to go on and on...just living, just existing.

And there's the crowd...the crowd to which I belong...the crowd that's secure in the center. A paycheck at the month end keeps them happy and calm. Their lives are secure and routine...and in a way dead! I can smell this death of life force....many times in myself. There's a yearning in this crowd, to reach out to something dangerous, something extra-ordinary...away from the humdrum of their bored, clock-work existence. This yearning perhaps drives them on weekends and on vacations, into hikes, journeys, expeditions...into entrepreneurial ventures....and again, they fall back into the comforting center, into the place which is as soothing as a grave.

The edge scares you because you can easily fall off the cliff and be annihilated. You want to move away from it...back to your secure existence, but this security begins to nauseate you and you start searching for the edge again. Maybe those on the edge fantasize and crave for the warmth of a safe existence, just as those who are bored in their ultra safe life want to go out into the edge and have their mettle tested. Call it duality, one of the many contradictions you wrestle with. And....maybe there's a state beyond the risk of the edge and the security of the center, but to reach it, one should know both the center and the edge. Then your energies shift, and you become oblivious to the edge or center--the Universe takes care of your needs as you set out on new journeys fueled by your heart's desire. Unbothered about the dangerous edge or the secure centre of the ground, you take off, vertically--a bird on flight. You become an explorer on daring new adventures!

Before setting off on such gritty adventures, I want to taste the edge again, away from my secure existence. I want to know how it feels...to stand close to annihilation, to the prospect of oblivion. I want to untie the rope that keeps me secure and also bound, and walk free, into thrilling dangerous zones. Shedding all my fears I want to stand naked and vulnerable to the forces of existence and test my faith in the grand Unknown, witness the way the Universe extends its hand to catch you when you jump off a cliff. 

And I wanna do it now!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Love breaks through....

Two lovers kissing
on the ascending escalator
of a shopping mall
is
nothing but
the dimension of love
opening up
and flooding
through
this uptight mundane world

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Let the River be...



 'I'm sorry eeshu....I scolded you the other day'

  'It's ok, dad. Forget it.'

 'No....I shouldn't have gotten angry at you. I feel bad.'

 'Then dad...Let's do one thing...let's sit in a time-travel ship, go back to that day, and make corrections there. Ok?'

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Where can I find Condoms?


I’m at the super-market talking to the sales-boy. It’s a huge store and I can’t find the item I’m searching for. He’s a young lad…tall and lanky. Tired eyes! Sleepy! I’ve just bunked office, and am gleefully enjoying an afternoon’s freedom-- window shopping, reading from books on display…and I can’t help but wonder at this boy’s situation. Does he enjoy this job? Does it fulfill him or crush his soul? What money does he take home every week or month? Where does he live, in this big mad city? Where is he from? Why is he sleepy? What motivates him…where does he drawn his inspiration to work, to live…and to talk to a customer amidst his never ending activity of dusting shampoo bottles and arranging them neatly in the aisles?

I would’ve been a bit sad thinking about him, long back, but now I’m plain curious and amused. Before I can think of drawing him into a casual conversation another young man walks up to the sales-boy and asks, ‘Where can I find condoms?’

 The sales-boy looks at me once, turns to that young man and points down the aisle. We both watch him stride down, look up and down the racks…and kneel down at the display of a variety of condom packets.

Maybe I’d have ignored him but two things happened. The young condom guy peered across and gestured, and a young girl half emerged from across a rack, looked at him with a smile, then suddenly looked at us—curious onlookers-- and her smile turned to an embarrassed look before her face disappeared. I turned to the sales-boy and saw a medley of expressions ….amusement, suppressed glee, shyness. The bored look had vanished.

Yupp…it’s shameless to watch a young couple purchase a packet of condoms in a super-market…but I’ve always been shameless in a wide variety of ways. And this lovely drama of a confident young man, his super shy girl and an amused store clerk….when again will I get to bloody witness it? To hell with decorum, I’m sticking around, pretending to be searching for something in the same aisle (prayer sticks!!!) and trying to be as invisible as possible while watching the super dynamics of this ‘tense’ situation.

The young man must be around 25…he tosses and turns the various packets, weighs his options, turns around every now and then, requesting his girl to walk over. She must be around 19 or 20. She’s faking anger, inching towards him trying to muster courage and overcome her inhibition, and the moment another customer walks nearby, she turns away, pretending to be searching for something else. The store-clerk dusts the bottles…his eyes towards this couple every now and then. What’s he thinking? What’s that curious expression on his face? And would he be bothered if these two were buying a bottle of shampoo? (Would I be there, voyuering the three if they were purchasing shampoo?)

The Young man gets up, walks over to his girl, and whispers something. Her face turns red. He’s within earshot and he says, a bit aloud, as if revolting at the shyness that’s evolved around condom-purchase--- ‘this one’s ribbed…and its for enhanced pleasure. The second one…its super slim…and they say, it’s also for enhanced pleasure. Eh??? Which one shall we choose?’ She smacks him with her bag and flees, while he laughs and follows her.

I’m smiling to myself without reason, at the checkout counter, recounting the whole episode—his assertion, her shyness, the store-clerk’s amusement. The couple are walking out of the store, hand in hand. A whole lot of thoughts are ready to gush in….the curiosity that’s always there around sexual expression and anything connected to it (condoms), who are these two—they didn't look married, and where will they consummate their passion, hiding away from prying eyes? Maybe he dragged his unwilling girl to the super-market, making this condom-purchase a nice little adventure in their evolving love story. Maybe, the weary store-clerk has a girl, working in the same store or elsewhere, and watching this small episode might have given him the muster to talk to his girl. Maybe maybe…and the young couple vanish out of the doors…she punching him and he evading her hits with a boisterous laughter.

Monday, August 11, 2014

This small glimpse...

I'm zooming back home on my two-wheeler...and the evening sky overhead is full of ripe clouds, threatening to burst any moment. Four in the evening and it looks like seven...a few drops begin to putter down. I'm dead tired and exhausted, wanting to reach home and collapse...and not get drenched without my rain-coat nor wait out somewhere if it starts raining. I look up at the clouds and send a silent request... 'Pls hold on for ten mins if you can, I'll reach home, pls'. And revv up the accelerator.

The drizzle begins slowly but I zoom through and soon enough I reach home. The moment I get in and park my two-wheeler, the skies open up and the torrents of water come gushing down!!! A lovely blast of rains for the next hour...thick sheets of water from the skies to the Earth. And there's only one thought in me....that small desperate prayer sent up....and the dark heavy pregnant clouds sprinkling a few drops for a while...and then bursting once I reach home!!! Coincidence????? My heart screams....'No! damn it...you were heard! They waited out for you!' And for the rest of the evening, I'm smiling in gleeful excitement, pushing back all rationalizations.

The next day I'm ambling in the morning park. The Sun is yet to rise and the whole place is one lovely green paradise, fresh from last nights rains. I turn a pathway and walk towards a cluster of trees. One tree stands spreading out its wonderful shade across a wide area...and I just look up at the branches....and a lovely breeze blows and the whole tree sways, its leaves murmuring. As if its saying 'hello, good morning!'. I walk ahead and there's another tree...and as I near it, the breeze comes again, and that tree too sways its leaves. Now, I'm curious....and I turn a pathway and walk to another tall tree which is a silent spectator. No shaking, no breeze and I smile up at the lovely giant. And suddenly the leaves begin to murmur and start swaying as a breeze blows in!!!

 I can't describe the bursts of joy I've been experiencing since this small conversation happened with Mother Nature...my very first to and fro! It's as if a small window has opened on my wall and I'm looking out into an entirely new world...a fascinating enchanting world, nothing like what I've seen and known until now. All of a sudden I'm a kid on the beach who has been struggling with the sand castle for a long time...and in an instant, the castle stands out perfect and I gaze at it, all dirty and soiled, beaming with pride at this very small accomplishment.

Yes...i know, all of this could be a beautiful coincidence. And if it ain't a coincidence ...and there's an other worldly explanation, these two experiences are pretty simple--not Earth Shattering! Nothing compared to the gigantic experiences and awakenings of many other lovely Souls. Yet....

....the unabashed joy and glee that's still inside me since this happened....these are my pointers. To what...I don't know. It's just beautiful.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

This Mountain....

 There's this small hillock. It's very small...anyone can climb it. In fact, I have climbed and played all over it as a small kid. But somewhere along the way I got busy and stopped visiting it. Years later I come walking this way and the hillock is there...bang in the middle of the road....and its no longer small. Its grown into a huge mountain. Gigantic and awe-inspiring. One look at it and I realise that I can't climb it. I leave the main road and find some smaller path and walk off.

 I leave the mountain...but the mountain doesn't leave me. I think that I've escaped it, but no, it doesn't let me escape. Wherever I go, whichever road I take, somewhere the mountain appears. And stands there, mocking at me. Blocking my view of the horizon. Challenging me. I make feeble attempts to climb it and fall down and hurt myself. And excuse myself and escape. Again and again.

 Its a cat and mouse game. 'Climb me,' the mountain says in my dreams. 'I'll promise you a spectacular view'. I give no shit. I'm not interested. I'm happy with my small secure existence on the ground. Mountains are not for everyone...I reason. I love my non-mountaineous life.

 But....my fate is tied to the mountain. Wherever I go, whatever I do...I can't escape this mountain. The more I avoid it, the more huge it grows...eating away at my small pathways...making it more and more difficult for me to live on my ground. 'At some point you have to climb me,' the mountain warns, but with an affectionate smile. 'Don't be scared...try once'.

 I'm tired of escaping it all my life. I almost got killed trying to flee this mountain. I missed so much in life owing to this fear of climbing, this fear of falling, this fear of injury. So....one day, when the mountain stands in my way again, I take a rope from my fellow travellers and start the climb. Its a gigantic steep cliff...and I'm scared to death just looking at the sheer height and expanse of the hard rocks. 'Go on,' my friends egg me from below. Holding my thumping heart, I attempt the climb. First few nervous, helpless steps...I find a good foot hold...and all of a sudden, there's a shift in the energies! Something has skipped a beat somewhere!! The mountain is no longer gigantic and imposing. It's bloody mellowing down!!! And I'm no longer the scared to death adult...but am growing up into the joyful, adventurous kid who would swing on the hillocks!!!

 Imagine a huge burden which you've been carrying for a long time...and you just keep it down. Or it evaporates and in a moment, you're set free. Have you watched the movie, 'The Pursuit of happyness'? There's a scene at the end where Will Smith gets confirmed on his job after months and months of struggle and hardships...and suddenly all his worries vanish..and he can't take it, he can't believe it. He rushes down to the pavement and stands there, in the middle of a stream of people, unable to believe what's happening, not knowing how to express his absolute joy, exhilaration, bewilderment...oh God...you've to watch it. You have to watch that scene after watching the entire movie...and if you don't have goosebumps...if you don't have a lump in your throat...I bet you aren't human.

 I am experiencing what he experienced. That tiny moment of absolute relaxation and relief. Of having stepped over my fear of the mountain. And the Mountain is mellowing and smiling. I'm the joyous kid, re-learning my ropes. This tremendous freedom...this weight off my heart...I dunno how to contain it. I don't know.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Who are my People...


 This temporariness of human interactions ...and how deep certain bondings go and how shallow most of them remain....that's been playing on my mind for a while. I'm sitting in a small hall, listening to some presentations---and I turn to my left and there's a girl. She too turns towards me...our eyes meet for a nano second. And we look back at the stage. While I walk out of that hall, I think of this girl and the first thought is...'I'll never see or interact with her again.' I pull my bike out of the parking lot, and there's another girl struggling with a heavy bullet bike and her boyfriend(?) behind her is encouraging her, pushing it. They're in my field of awareness for roughly ten seconds before I start my bike and rush through the drizzly night towards my home. Another interaction...fleeting out of my life.

I bump against at least a few hundred people everyday on my way to office and back. Almost all of them are 2 second interactions...except maybe the policeman at the traffic junctures, the same vendors who rush in to sell their wares, the security guard who opens the gate at my office. How high is the probability that I'll get to meet at least one of these people(from the 2 second interaction group), again in my life? Dunno....almost null I guess. If I go to office at exactly the same time, in the same route, and try to register each and every face that I come across..maybe I'll see similar faces after a while. And assuming they too are in a similar thought process of establishing friendships, maybe I'll greet them, they smile back, we strike up a conversation etc. Hasn't happened even once all these years, so its as if I'm blindly rushing through a sea of humanity whom I briefly touch against every day....yet, like a lotus leaf that doesn't get wet by the surrounding water, I emerge dry and clean...and return back to my familiar atmosphere...of familiar faces.

There's an auto-rickshaw driver who, out of his own will, got out of his vehicle and pushed my car a short distance when the battery went dead, so that I could jump start it. Turned and shouted a thanks with a smile and....gone...haven't seen him again, though he cut through and removed a huge misery from my life that night. There's another guy...again an auto-rickshaw fellow who drove me and my parents home one late night from the railway station and stopped in the middle of nowhere and briefly vanished...God knows with what intention...and my parents sensing danger flagged down another auto and we were safe home. Two guys...one who saved and the other who would've destroyed...two very important people. How many such interactions have I had? Hundreds...if I start remembering and counting. Maybe...they were meant to arrive at those intense points, turn fate's lever with a great might, and then vanish into thin air...never to cross my life again. Just thinking how important a role they played and how things could've altered slightly or greatly...it sends me into a state of awe!

Friends change too and vanish, reappear etc. I have had very deep friendships and bondings...starting right from my childhood. Only one guy has stood the test of time and I get to meet and talk to him, very occasionally. Some have connected back through facebook. Maybe I've brushed against a few thousand people...important and otherwise since the day I was born until now....and those I truly know and still interact with...they are rare. Relations change, people flit out of your life, new ones arrive....yet some bondings endure and remain. Some remain suspended for a long period ...and suddenly get ignited and spring back to life, as if by magic. Only those who're bonded by blood--your relatives---they remain a constant in this ever changing medley of human interactions and bondings. And a few friendships go deep with or without any effort, and before you know, you have formed your circle of friends who vibrate with your frequency.  And this possibility of forging deep bonds with a select few...it appears to be a mystical process, beyond any human interference or effort. It looks like you've taken the time and care to nurture such relations, or maybe the other people have contributed too...but NO...I sense, its beyond you. You were meant to go deep with them and they with you. Period.

There's a lovely song where a small boy who arrives to a new city wonders... 'So many houses, and where is mine? So many people here, and who are my people?' His bewilderment is mine too at times. In this sea of humanity, a few waves splash at me and I get drenched with a few drops, although I swim constantly in these waters. Maybe its meant to be that way.