Saturday, May 07, 2016

 Mom and dad built their house 30 years ago. At that time, dad brought four coconut trees from his native village and planted them at the four corners of the house. Two perished and the other two...they grew into tall trees giving shade, rustling in the wind, providing coconuts for years and years. Soon many houses were built around our house and the concrete jungle pressed that much closer to these two beings. When our house was being rebuilt 10 years ago, an excavation machine was brought to dig up the earth so that pillars could be added. It was then we saw how deep the roots had gone--perhaps deeper than the foundation of the surrounding houses and encompassing the earth underneath. Mighty roots which would create cracks in the compound walls, and sometimes break through the hard concrete. Falling coconuts breaking things underneath, creating tensions with neighbours. Minor irritants but...

Now, the time has come to say goodbye to them. They will be cut down tomorrow. It's difficult to imagine our house without these two guys, standing tall like guards, like companions, like friends. I wonder at them, at their emotions, at how they feel--to be felled. Do they weep? Do they feel sad at this sudden decision to cut short their lives? Or do they have a sense of resignation and acceptance? Maybe they'd have survived if there was a bigger space. Do they feel pain when they are cut? I'll miss their murmur which would greet me every time I climbed up the terrace. The sky, watched through the green leaves, will be poorer now without them.

But yes, their 30 year association with us, with our house ends...and there is a deep gratitude and an immense love towards them amidst the lingering sadness at their impending departure. I wish I could talk to them. Yes I can but I wish I could listen.

Kokkre bellooru...is the name that comes to mind everytime I watch kokkres(white storks) on my evening walks. Elegant birds, walking around cautiously, quick to peck at insects and lizards, ready to take off and fly. Kokkre belluru is famous for these migratory birds flocking around in thousands. Want to visit. And RanganaThittu!!! Travel....Travel...Travel...lots and lots of it. I'm waiting for something to explode into this aspect.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

V

playing around with time....

Lying on the terrace and gazing up at the night sky, it suddenly occured....I am staring at a 'past' that no longer exists. No...I am not remembering the past but just looking at it, in real time.
We are able to see something only when light from that object hits our eyes. The Sun, moon, stars....or even an everyday object becomes visible because of this. But these celestial objects--they are so far away. The Sun is at such a distance that sunlight takes 8 mins to reach us. Which means that, when you look at a beautiful sunrise, you are actually witnessing how the Sun existed 8 mins ago....and not as he is Now. For a moment, you are looking at the Sun's past that has passed away!!! Wow!
Now think about a star. It could be hundreds or thousands of light years away. So the light from that star has taken years and years to travel across space and reach you. That blinking star over there...you are actually looking at how he blinked and winked 'years ago'. He could be in a pensive mood right now at this moment, when you are thinking that he is winking grin emoticon
Or.....someone on a planet orbiting the star Sirius B takes an ultra powerful telescope RIGHT NOW and looks at our Earth...and zooms on India...and doesn't see you reading this post on your device....but sees a large group of people following a frail old man...shouting, 'quit India!', and the year is 1942!!!
The farther you are away from something...the more of the past of that something you are likely to see!
I like the philosophical and mystical side of this whole thing....applying it to your everyday life. The present is here, happening right now, but we are trained to be fixated on the beautiful and brutal past. By the time you finish savoring the past the present slips away, leaving behind a shadow of its past..which you start savoring. You are a hundred steps trailing behind the vibrant, throbbing present moment when your gaze is always on the past that has long gone away. Life is ever flowing....we can choose to flow with it or keep looking back.
There is something else. Can a moment be preserved if you can somehow preserve the 'light' of that moment? Say, you look at the Sun and observe a solar flare. That flare happened 8 mins ago and you are seeing it just now. You call up your cousin who lives on Jupiter and say, ' hey, did you checkout the latest burst in the Sun?'...and she says, ' What burst! I see nothing'...and 30 seconds later she calls you back and says, 'wow...saw it just now. It's amazing'. Then you both do something crazy...you climb a spaceship and zoom to Jupiter, pick her up...and zip across to your grandma's village cottage on Pluto, at a speed 10000 TIMES FASTER than the speed of light, and you both sit near a stream and wait. Then....a few minutes later....voila!!! there you see the solar flares...fresh.
So, an event that already happened....is yet to happen or is still happening FOR YOU if you can beat the speed of light!!!
If you climb a spaceship RIGHT NOW, and zoom off into space at a phenomenal speed that is gazillion times the speed of light, reach a distant star, turn and focus your telescope towards Earth.....you could be seeing a bunch of kids dancing in the rains....and they are your childhood friends! And one of them with an unkempt hair and loose nickers...God damn! that's you!!
Manipulate and play around light...and you start bending and playing with past-present-future....with time...with memories. Is that how things are stored in the 'Akashic records?' As light capsules?
All of this is about 'seeing' something across the barriers of time. How about 'immersing' yourself into an experience without the limitations of time? Time travel? Can you travel back in time and enter the past, like entering a river? 
How about moving ahead in Time? How about the various timelines and possibilities that arise every moment when you take decisions? Can you move ahead in time and enter any of these timelines? Is life occuring on all parellel timelines...and you just have to figure out how to jump these timelines and enter alternate realities?
And...once your awareness shifts to these realities and you become capable of navigating them seemlessly, can you exist simultaneously in all of them? Or....is it that you are already existing, and you just become aware of it once your awareness begins to shift?
So many mysteries....to penetrate, to explore, to become.
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Thursday, April 07, 2016

Days of Thunder...


 Nobody knows who named him 'Thunder'. Maybe it's because of his ferocity! He's a stray dog who became homeless when his owners shifted out of this place and decided to abandon him. There are a half a dozen strays over here along with another dozen pets. The competition for food is fierce among the strays. I saw him once, desperate for food, hungry, weak. Went to the bakery and got a few sweet buns. He gobbled them all up and continued to look at me, asking for more.

 He followed me to my house and started to loiter around. I started getting him buns every time I visited the nearby bakery. And that's how he found a permanent unconditional basic income(the likes of which I salivate for :) ). He became a permanent fixture outside our house--loitering around the whole day, but keeping our house as his base. And once his hunger pangs got extinguished, another trait surfaced in him-- his territorial instincts.

No dog can enter our lane when thunder is around. He's absolutely ruthless! Doesn't hesitate to face 3-4 dogs, and with a little prodding, doesn't hesitate to attack and land a bite or two--just like a movie hero who takes on multiple goons at the same time. And he has another habit--to invade others' territories and stamp his authority over them. This happens when I go on a walk, at dusk or dawn. He yawns once, dusts himself and starts following me. As we cross the political boundaries, he lifts his hind leg and makes fresh markings. Invariably other dogs come barking, and thunder stands his ground, staring at them, assessing the situation. One prodding 'swish' from me, and he lunges forward, attacking the unsuspecting dogs and sends them packing.

Of course, there are times when he gets subdued and mauled but they are few and far in between.

What's even more troubling about Thunder is his suspicion towards anyone who dares to walk towards our house. 'Guilty until proven innocent' is his mantra, so anyone, be it the paper-boy, gas delivery fellow, cableman, internet-guy or any worker...they are welcomed with a ferocious, attacking barking stance. He bullies them and makes them freeze on their spot. Then one of us have to rush and shoo him away, apologise to the human, and allow them to pass. 'Good, in a way,' says a neighbour. 'Now, no thief will gather muster to come over here.'

 Thunder has a sensitive side too. He isn't nasty with everyone. When a friend came visiting, I was on my feet, worried that thunder would attack him, but he was most subdued and docile. 'He gave us a warm welcome,' said my friend. So was it when my relatives came visiting.

 * * *

 One morning, a few weeks ago, Thunder let out a volley of ferocious barks. We rushed out, wondering which unfortunate person needs assistance this time, but no. It was a snake! Not a full grown reptile, but not a baby either. Maybe an adolescent. His hood raised and hissing. Must be a cobra. Thunder was furious, so was the snake. They were trying to attack and land a blow on each other. I screamed out at thunder, trying to dissuade him, but he mistook it for an 'attacking swish' and got more encouraged. The snake was equally agile, trying its best to escape but thunder wouldn't let it move. Sensing trouble I ran down, picked up a stick...and before I could shoo thunder away, he caught the snake by its tail, whipped it up in the air and struck it down on the hard ground twice!!!

That's the way a snake is handled...and I had seen it done in my village. Catch hold of a snake by its tail, raise it in the air and swirl so that it doesn't bite you, and then slam it hard on the ground, breaking its head. Thunder....bloody fellow, he must've been a villager from my native in his previous birth, because that's how he tackled the snake. And before he could bite the snake, I shooed him away, allowing the injured snake to escape and find refuge in a nearby bush.

 The snake escaped with a few bleeding wounds. Thunder was seething. I called up a snake-catcher. The snake lay coiled on a bush, bruised and too weak to slither away. Someone had to keep the dog at bay until the snake-catcher arrived, so we kept vigil for a couple of hours. And before the guy arrived, the snake escaped into the thick jungle surrounding our house. Thunder appeared tired but
victorious. There were silent applauses for his bravery and dare-devilry. More food and delicious crumbs came his way.

* * *

The snake arrived today morning...perhaps by accident, or maybe to take revenge. Was it the same snake? It looked so. They say, an injured snake will not forget its enemy and will lay in wait even for years to exact vengeance. The snake...perhaps underestimated Thunder. A few warning barks, that's all. 

And then....he grabbed the snake's head in his mouth and ripped him apart ruthlessly with an extraordinary ferociousness. We could dissuade him a bit, but the snake was finished by then. Thunder destroyed the lifeless body of the snake and threw him out in the under growth.

 An vibrant dance of death and life. Thunder was lucky this time. If it were a fully grown snake, he would've found his match. Or maybe....he would've summoned his dormant primal survival and attacking instinct and thundered down to rip apart the reptile.

Maybe such battles await him in future, while he munches on his cream buns and gulps down cups of water in the sweltering summer heat.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A small dream...

Suddenly, one fine day I decided that I would become a cricketer! Where did that idea come from? I wasn’t extraordinarily passionate about the game—I would play with friends in the evenings for an hour, a little more during weekends. I was approaching 25. You can say it’s an age where the best cricketers are peaking. Certainly not an age where you start dreaming of a career in the game and kick-start your vehicle. To play at the international level, you gotta start young, in your teenage years, and gradually play at various levels and climb up. There’s a luck factor, a natural talent factor. I believed that I had the second one. Maybe there are exceptions where someone is a late-bloomer. I wanted to be that late-bloomer. Wanted to be that hero who walks into a losing game and turns it around 180 degrees.

And I wanted to play at the international level! Audacious dream. The one thing I had in plenty was Time. Studies were done with. I had stubbornly refused to get into the career ladder. Days and weeks and months lay stretched before me. Also, there was a parallel dream of becoming a short-story writer and making money out of my creative pursuits. A cricketer who’s also a wonderful writer! Imagine Sachin Tendulkar and Khushwant Singh rolled into one. Sexy combination. Maybe it was the testosterone that was driving all these dreams, because there were plenty of lithe girls in my day dreams, showering admiration, and me ignoring them and walking like a saintly hero. And yeah, the spiritual pursuits had also begun, so add in a dash of Osho over there. Sachin-Osho-Khushwanth. Unbeatable combination.

I borrowed a wad of cash from Mom and got a cricket kit. Dressed up in the gear. Mom and Dad had a hearty laughter that day, looking me all decked up and raring to go, but they didn’t object. (Wonder how I’ll react if my kid declares this Sachin-osho-khushwanth ambition at age 25). Maybe they had given up hopes. So off I went and joined a cricket club in a nearby play-ground. Practiced diligently for 2 hours every morning for the next 6 months. To hasten up my progress, I even joined another club for my evening practice and sweated it out for a month.

The enthusiasm lasted roughly for a year. Of course, there was progress. Lots of scars. Self-doubts. And before I dropped the ‘sachin’ part from the Sachin-osho-khushwanth ambition, I got to briefly live my heroics for a day. A club match against a stronger team, and we had almost lost the match. I was sent in as the tenth man. There was nothing to lose and I just went ballistic, hitting continuous sixers and boundaries for a brief 10 minutes before we lost the match. I was applauded, and a small news item appeared in a corner of the next day newspaper announcing my name against my fighting-in-the-death score. Mom saved that paper-cutting for quite a while, promptly announcing to visiting relatives that her son’s name had appeared in the papers.

I wonder how passionate I was about that dream in the brief time during which it visited me. Would I have succeeded if I had pursued it? If not at the international level, I might have played at the club levels, the Indian Premier league or State levels. I might have made good cash and retired by now, probably employed in a bank or railways under the sports quota, hardly working, just representing them in charity matches. A nice little time-line, with various possible outcomes.


Or maybe, the dream came with an expiry date of one year. And blazed intensely before returning back to the skies.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

From a distant shore...


An uncle visited us from my native village. Thin, wiry, beaten flat by life—but he’s a survivor. Not just that, he has a wicked sense of humour, a sort of dark humour which shines through unexpectedly. ‘Throw him in a desert and he’ll thrive there,’ says Mom, which is apt for him, although I’d say, ‘throw anyone in a desert and they’ll thrive’ because humans are designed for resilience which comes to the fore in the toughest situations even in unlikely candidates.

 I spent some time with him, chatting him up on the usual affairs, enquiring about the impending marriage of his second son, etc., and soon he left before urging me to come visit the village more often. ‘Come at least once a year,’ he said. ‘You don’t know how long we’ll all be alive.’ That was kinda enough to make me sentimental for a while but all along I was moving from the past to the present then back to the past, reminiscing on many events surrounding him. It was as if he had pushed a button, a trigger inside me, unleashing many obscure memories which were lying dormant from ages.

I was probably my son’s age when, on the way to school I would stop at this uncle’s shop and he would pass me a ten rupee note. Ten rupees!!! In the early 80s (probably 1982), it was like a bloody 100 or 200 rupees and I honestly didn’t know what to do with that kind of treasure except eat a delicious masala dosa in a hotel, then save up the rest for more delicacies later on. This guy was that generous, not just in handing over a 10 rupee note every single day to a 8 year-old kid, but in every other way, with many others around him. But then, there were roller-costers that awaited him.

He almost tapped on the door of death, and returned safe. I remember Mom carrying me one night, waiting by the roadside outside our house for Dad, and suddenly start wailing aloud looking at me, wailing for her brother who was almost on the verge of death. I distinctly remember my acute embarrassment and bewilderment at her outpouring of grief, not knowing what to do, how to respond or what to say. Why should elders cry their hearts out in front of kids who’re unused to such intense emotions, was a question that remains fresh even today. When I look back at anything traumatic in my childhood, one of the incidents that stands out is this—the grief and helplessness of elders. Strange that this harmless gesture leaves such a mark in ones psyche!

What’s really remarkable in this whole back and forth episode involving my uncle is that, a whole set of memories and impressions have started to come alive. And all these memories belong to a small place—a rented house in a locality on the southern outskirts of Bangalore city. We lived in that house for around 5 years. We grew up there before hitting pre-adolescence. There were friends, neighbours, an owner, his wife who died of jaundice leaving behind a small daughter, his second wife who ill-treated the girl, her stories of Mandya, her affair and dalliance with a relative who would drop by when the husband wasn't around. Then there was Venu. His parents and their orthodoxy. His first son-in-law who was a sleazy flirt, whom we suspected was eyeing our maid, the very maid who saved me from getting kidnapped once, and who was giving out lusty feelers towards him. There was Abraham and his television, and how we would go to their house to watch movie songs, and how they made us sit on the floor while they sat on the chairs. Another friend who got bitten by our dog. My school. The friends and bitter sweet memories over there. The rains, flooded streets, the sweat. The utter humiliation and happiness. Ganesha festival and deepawali. Standing in long queues in ration shops. Preparing delicacies on the eve of festivals. Sitting on a compound wall and singing ‘Akleshi Makleshi’. Fracturing an arm and then going with Mom at night to her colleague's place-- a house with a lot of young girls, and then to a hospital and having my arm in a sling for months. Then realizing, years later, that Mom's colleague ran a prostitution ring with those girls. The fights with local bullies and the trauma. Hearing sacred words like 'amman', 'akkan' for the first time. Dad and his anger. Calling sister as 'bewarsi' and getting thoroughly washed by Mom.

Like a million colours exploding, it’s a riot of memories, a sort of flood-gates opened rush of events, people, their lives and their imprint on me. That place—it exists no more. But it continues to live as a piece of vibrant past, as if it has an eternal existence in a parallel universe, and the life over there continues unabated even now. 

And it seeks an expression-- as a memoir, a novel, or a series of non-fiction write-ups.



Sunday, January 24, 2016

Him

I want to reach out to him. Amble beside him on his morning walks—hand on his shoulder—and tell him that things are going to work out just fine. That the world hasn’t and isn’t going to end soon, and that there is so much more beauty and joy around, only if he would shift his attention a bit…just look up a bit. The fog of uncertainty that surrounds him isn’t the only reality; there’s a clearing beyond although he can’t sense it right away.

I want to tell him all of this and much more.

There’s a pattern. A period of cluelessness and uncertainty which, instead of brightening and clearing out leads into a deteriorating disaster zone. Then comes a huge blow which shatters his already shaky self. He spirals down into self-defeating behaviours lasting a very long period before hitting rock bottom. And then comes the redemption. And recovery. And a gradual rise back to surface.

It happened once. And it’s happening again. Except that this time, the recovery will be faster, resulting in unimaginable glory and beauty. Things are different and vibrant now unlike the bleak cycle he encountered two decades ago. He is different unlike his former self. And when he breaks through, I see him emerging into the finest version of himself—dazzlingly beautiful and radiant!

I want to talk to him and remind him of his roots—fierce yet gentle, wise yet curious, sturdy yet vulnerable, passionate yet detached, relaxed yet adventurous, confident yet humble, ecstatic yet peaceful. I want to point him towards so many things….yet I allow him to pass by, allow him to walk with his quiet ruminations, allow him enough space and freedom to lick his wounds into wholeness. Allow him to lighten the heaviness bit by bit, at his own pace.


The night air is stifling…. but the fresh breeze of dawn is nearby. There will be light. I wish he senses it.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

This one....

I think this is extremely deep. There's this person and he makes you feel that you are one of the most important people in his life. When he talks to you its like there's nothing else for him other than you. You are his total priority. Your life, your decisions, the direction you're headed in--he has a concern for everything. The love between you and him is absolutely pure. And the funny thing is...you are not the only one who feels so...each and everyone of your friends, elders and kids around also share the same feeling. Everyone feels as if they are most important in his life. They love and adore him as much as he does for them.

How did he manage it? There's nobody I know who's capable of this.
Most of my memories of him are extremely pleasant and beautiful. Some memories are saddening. Every occasion spent with him, there would be an anecdote, a story, something to chew on. Once we were sitting, waiting for the tea which was stewing in the kitchen and he said, 'Only once...I lost faith in the Rishis...and I wept loudly, in utter helplessness and fear.' And he narrated what happened...and it was a poignant incident. Every detail of what he said then comes up from memory in my moments of despair and anguish. And they give strength--that story of total helplessness lends strength. The memory of his pain and subsequent triumph gives you hope and courage.
Difficult to believe that its been three years since his departure. Wondering how it would be if he had still been there...or better, if he had still been the same person that we knew long ago. With his powerful, compassionate, loving physical presence, how would've we been? How would that timeline look like?

Wish I could connect more with him...then...and now.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

there's no separation...

Death and Departure are on my mind off late. There are mass exits across the globe, in Mecca, in the migrant populations fleeing across the Mediterranean, in everyday deaths--people losing loved ones. And it seems to intensify day by day. Then, there are deaths closer home. A distant relative passes away at a ripe old age. Memories of my granny. A few elders in the layout who are no more. Impending departures of others. Pets, teachers, friends. And a seer who looked and said when I would exit smile emoticon
Separations are as painful as death. Friends who are not on talking terms anymore. A few distanced over misunderstandings. You meet someone after 2 decades and realize that once upon a time you were so close to them and its been years without a thought about them crossing your mind. Every job you change, every house you shift--many familiar faces turn into strangers. On the tide of time you are a driftwood, moving closer, moving away. Change is the only constant in this play.If every arrival and union gives you joy, every departure/separation tugs at your heart-strings. Some... you never get over. 
Chew over it and slowly it dawns---look deeper, there's no separation! You come back, lifetime after lifetime, meeting those who're bonded with your heart. Forms and roles change. A Guru once, a friend again, then a brother somewhere. Friends coming again and again like flocks of migrant birds meeting in a distant continent. Familiar faces and hearts recognized in an instant. Every departure is an initiation to another threshold where a union awaits. We never lose sight of those we love, and we're never lost to those who love us. An invisible thread binds us all across life-times, across eons, transcending time and space.
Look beyond the forms into the essence and you sense a dance of Souls, united forever in one Source--the Light from where we emerge, incarnate, experience and merge back. There's no separation, departure or grief--just Love, Love and nothing but an unending torrent of gushing Love. A call to be aware of this union, this love, the unbreakable bonding between souls. A signal that at the highest level, we are always forged together, in a beautiful embrace of love and light, looking down at the dance of forms, their union and separation and union--with an amused smile and laughter.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Once upon a blog

  ...it's the tenth year of my blogging. I'd almost forgotten that there's this tiny corner on the internet where I used to regularly take a 'walk in the drizzle', scribbling down thoughts as they occured, and also penned an occasional thought-out piece. And in the process, made a bunch of friends across the globe, some of whom I still follow elsewhere(ash, nick, val, jen). Can't believe the march of time.

Yea...I'm guilty of abandoning my lovely blog home, and spending extra time in the more vibrant(?) and more visited fb apartment. I meet more people on FB, get to socialize(??) more over there, receive instant feedback and can get into easy conversations---my pride gets a beautiful massage over there than in my shy blog palace. Add a bit of natural laziness...the home accumulates cobwebs and dust.

But think of the pre-facebook years--blogs were the place where the online socializing happened, at least for me. Not just recording life as it happened....but also checking out a wide variety of other blog homes regularly. Commenting back and forth, sometimes furiously. Writing memes and tagging friends. Picking up a idea from another blog and writing an elaborate post on it. Checkout the blogroll to see the latest update on our favorite blogs(much like the fb notifications). In short, blogs were the social media before twitter/fb.(They still are, for many).

If Facebook is the casual 'hi' on the way to the park, Blogs are the leisurely conversations on the park benches. FB is the pulpit for expressing opinions whereas the blog is my autobiography, a sketch and record of the past ten years of my life--the events, the view-point changes, the stories told and 'not-told'. Posts I read again to reminisce on an event long forgotten. Wondering at times why I wrote this, or why I didn't write that. Follow the comment link to another blog to see where they are in the stream of life.

Then it occurs...does it all matter? What you write, don't write, express, comment, argue, fight, put aside so much time and energy scribbling....does it matter, to anyone or yourself? As someone noted...'My writings and art -- paper boats in the raging river of time'. Will the world be poorer if I don't scribble my life down? Or do I add anything of value with my carefully crafted reflections on the events of my life?

Not just what we create, but we ourselves are paper boats in the raging river of time! So while being tossed by the rapid currents, if I have taken a while to make some small boats and set them afloat, enjoying their brief dance, I guess it's worth it---if not for anyone else, at least for myself. Guess I need to create more such blog boats and set them sail, just for the sheer pleasure of watching them skirt the currents.