Friday, December 22, 2006

Late December Early January.......

There's a picture on the wall in our room--that of a kid with chubby cheeks. We stared and stared at the picture for nearly 8 months before Tejas was born --- without much of those chubby cheeks. Now after nearly a month, he's slowly gaining them. Pinching his cheeks red is our pastime now.

Your success or failure in job depends on your relation with your immediate boss. Appears crude but yeah, as far as I know it's true. And also what's success or failure is decided by him, not what you think they are.
And a gem from 'Saving private ryan'-- A platoon commander says this to a young rookie''s simple in the army son. You grab me, I grab someone up there, he grabs someone else, and it goes on in a long line.'

End of project. A break expected before a new one begins. Planning to laze a lot. And comeback fresh after eating 'A Course in Miracles'.

Two friends-- Anand and Sudarshan-- get Baptised into the blogworld.

Watching a lotta movies, sleeping late, waking late, working hard, contemplating a bit, meditating sparsely, getting tired and shivering silly all along.

Christmas arrives. Archana's close friend who had a series of abortions is gifted with twin boys, maybe as a christmas gift. Planning to visit a church this time. Wanna meditate long on that day, provided I'm not working overtime. Christmas evokes bittersweet memories. And archana never fails to recount how she was almost converted to christianity by her overzealous friends.

My son will get a cradle ceremony this weekend. All friends and family will be arriving for the event. Making preparations for the event, arranging for the dinner, sending out invitations, planning ahead and above any eventuality---it's nice to take responsibility and get involved into something that's out of the routine.

Late august Early september is a simple yet sublime movie about love-loss, individuality-togetherness, rebellion-conformity.... all captured beautifully through the gestures and nuances of everyday lives. You don't feel as if you're watching a movie, it's like you're witnessing life directly, and sometimes it's your own life.... those characters are you. The magic of
cinema wows you when you come across such movies.

A year passes by and we're at the threshold of a new beginning, a new year. Amidst all the visible changes, there's also a kind of dissatisfaction with myself. There are regrets at missed opportunities, remaining weaknesses and the continuing staticness of life. It's a routine to begin every new year with resolutions, and a few weeks later these resolutions are all but forgotten.
Never have I bothered to follow up on my goals and find out if any of them have been fulfilled. It looks silly to start another new year with a new set of resolutions, so I'll keep out of that exercise this time.

It was around this time last year that Mouli departed. We remember him now when a few friends have left behind their careers and routine life and decided to pursue Spiritual research and sadhana. How would he have responded to this situation, we wonder. Inspite of his jovial nature and apparent carefreeness, he was a determined character--one who was single-minded
in his pursuits and honest in his acts. He too would've probably left his job and taken up spirituality completely. Amidst those who come and go, he'd have stood like a pillar of integrity and capability, making things happen silently without trying to hog the limelight, without taking things to his head. He would've definetly become an example for others to follow.

Just as we remember people for what they've done and what they shouldn't have done, we also remember someone like mouli for what he could have done had he been with us.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Varied hues

This isn't a fair comparison but still the similarities hold water to some extent.

In an article in outlook by Arundhati roy on why Mohammed afzal shouldn't be hanged, we're informed that in Kashmir, things aren't as they appear or are made out to be. There's pressure on the army units to give 'figures' of the terrorists killed. This sometimes leads them to bump off innocents and pass them as insurgents-just to toe the official line.

This could be the case in other fields as well where you're expected to 'show' results. But with us, it's definetly so. Although there are no written rules as such, we are expected to show how many bugs we've discovered in the module we're working on. If there are less bugs, or bugs of moderate intensity, it doesn't mean that the product is robust and bug-free; it only means that our testing process isn't accurate, our efforts aren't enough.

The document I'm testing is well written and technically sound. So I pretty much know the remarks that awaits at the end of this testing cycle.

Nor do I like the 'Hurray' feeling I get whenever there's a bug or mistake discovered.


Sometimes things are so funny and commonplace that you don't pay attention at the right moment. Only in hindsight do they become obvious. You call it serendipity, divine will or pure luck but certain things defy rational explainations, logic, resoning(although you can manufacture one, if you're obstinate).

When I was reading a mail from a friend, a quote caught my eye-- 'Don't expect life to be fair.'No, it isn't. This is obvious more so during times of loss and failure. But sometimes life gives you more than you deserve, more than you expected and all of this without any reason or logic. Maybe life isn't fair and reasonable in such situations also.

We've never felt the need for a car all these years. I was blissfully content with my two wheeler. But out of the blue, one day, my elder sister bought a new car and gifted me her Matiz. Left to ourselves, it would've taken another 5-6 years before I'd have thought of buying a car. It was only after a few months that we could appreciate its value in a city like bangalore which is burgeoning day by day. We ended up in situations wherein the car lessened our burden and made things really smooth and comfortable. Looking back, it appears as though we foresaw the situations and bought a car, knowing very well the necessity. But no, it isn't so.

When Archana was pregnant I thought of changing my mobile handset and get a good one with all advanced features, including a camera and sound recorder. The intention was to capture as much as possible the valuable moments and soundbytes of our kid's childhood. Again it was financial considerations that made us postpone this idea. And when we almost stopped thinking about it, my brother-in-law gifts me a handset with all the advanced features I'd dreamt of.

I can quote many more such examples from my experience, some trivial and some life-changing, some good and some threatening. For me it boils down to the quote in my friend's mail. Life isn't fair--in both good and bad ways. You don't get things that you thought you deserved,and sometimes you get in abundance and start wondering what had you done to deserve all this. Logic, reasoning, our small boundaries--they look absurd and stupid at such times.

It's as if you're sitting inside a small room from ages, and once in a way you look through the window at the brilliance outside. And the door was never closed. It's wide open. You only need a will, a bit of courage and a small effort to get up and step out towards the unknown dimensions of life. When you open up, nothing is serendipitious, nothing is a chance or luck. You understand Life with all it's dimensions of fairness and unfairness.

Meditation is the first step towards this opening up. You don't just meditate for concentration or stress relief. That's kindergarten stuff! You meditate to remember who you are in reality. You meditate to experience directly that you aren't a tiny insignificant speck in this huge universe. Meditation is a tool that wakes us up from our eons long sleep. It opens our eyes to the divine that we truly are.

This passage is more of a reminder for myself--To meditate more and often and get out of the rut soon. To stop wasting time in insignificant pursuits, to stop brooding on the pointlessness of life. To reclaim my tremendous, multi-dimensional personality that's hidden within all along.

Midnight's children...

I'm sleepy to death so is she but there ain't any choice. The kid's crying and you have to wake up and attend to him. Nappy's wet. Need to change it. Get a new one. Wrap it around and within 5 minutes he wets it. You look at him and he stops crying for a few seconds, stares at you, yawns leisurely and begins to wail again.

'Bring him here,' Her voice is heavy. She's tired; obviously since she couldn't catch a wink during the day and slept only sparingly last night. It's 12 midnight--he slept at 10 and is up again. Maybe he'll go back to sleep only at 3. Or maybe 4.

He senses her touch. The moment she wraps her arms around him and says a few soothing words, he calms down.

'Put him on the bed,' I suggest. 'Let him sleep with us tonight, not in the cradle. Let him feed and you too can sleep along with him.'

We've done that before. Both of them sleep together, but after a while he wets the nappy, feels the chills and wakes up. Starts wailing. We put a large plastic sheet so that he doesn't wet the bed. Wrap him in warm soft clothes. Switch off the lights. And soon we both are asleep, probably before he's slept.

Early morning. He's wriggled out of the warm clothes, twisted and turned out of the plastic sheet and soiled the new bedsheet along with the bed! And blissfully looking around, gurgling once in a while.

First few months are going to be tough--for her. However much I wish to help her and try, she has to bear the brunt. Not that she's complaining but she too is human. Patience wears thin at times.

Add to this the unsolicited advices from all and sundry about what not to do, what to do, what we're doing wrong. Insistence from elders to follow a few stupid rituals. Nerves are on fire. Need to take care not to hurt others and also not hurt oneself. Delicate balancing acts.

And once in a while he smiles, as if laughing at our predicament!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Little things matter...always!

Hectic work. Weekends and Sundays are threatening to get blown away. Amidst the repetitive chore that's almost getting on my nerves, I listen to Bruce springsteen's 'Streets of Philadelphia' at least 20 times.

The rythme of this fantastic song continues to reverberate within me even now. As my legs tap the floor in sync with the beats, I allow my mind to wander all over, anywhere away from the 500 page document I'm supposed to finish reviewing by today evening.

Two fantastic mails from friends.

Don't let success go to your head and failure go to your heart

Reading it sets off a chain of thoughts........

Let success go to your heart and fill it with joy.
Let failure go to your head and make you wise.
And somewhere down the line, let you rise above success and failure

And this one-- Life's little lessons... is marvelous.

Have a firm handshake.
Look people in the eye.
Sing in the shower.
Own a great stereo system.
If in a fight, hit first and hit hard.
Keep secrets.
Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen everyday.
Always accept an outstretched hand.
Be brave. Even if you're not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
Avoid sarcastic remarks.
Choose your life's mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90 percent of all your happiness or misery.
Make it a habit to do nice things for people who will never find out.
Lend only those books you never care to see again.
Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all that they have.
When playing games with children, let them win.
Give people a second chance, but not a third.
Be romantic.
Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life-and-death matters,
Don't allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It's there for your convenience, not the caller's.
Be a good loser.
Be a good winner.
Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret.
When someone hugs you, let them be the first to let go.
Be modest. A lot was accomplished before you were born.
Keep it simple.
Beware of the person who has nothing to lose.
Don't burn bridges. You'll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river.
Live your life so that your epitaph could read, No Regrets
Be bold and courageous. When you look back on life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the one's you did.
Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.
Remember no one makes it alone. Have a grateful heart and be quick to acknowledge those who helped you.
Take charge of your attitude. Don't let someone else choose it for you.
Visit friends and relatives when they are in hospital, you need to only stay a few minutes.
Once in a while, take the scenic route.
Send a lot of Valentine cards. Sign them, 'Someone who thinks you're terrific.'
Answer the phone with enthusiasm and energy in your voice.
Keep a note pad and pencil on your bed-side table. Million-dollar ideas sometimes strike at 3 a.m.
Show respect for everyone who works for a living, regardless of how trivial their job.
Send your loved ones flowers. Think of a reason later.
Make someone's day by paying the toll for the person in the car behind you.
Become someone's hero.
Marry only for love.
Count your blessings.
Compliment the meal when you're a guest in someone's home.
Wave at the children on a school bus.
Remember that 80 per cent of the success in any job is based on your ability to deal with people.
Don't expect life to be fair

Gotta chew on something before I can get back to sanity....back to regular blogging.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A new life in a new season...

That's winter, my favourite part of the year. This is the period when warmth is the most sought after and soothing sensation. No doubt, the season begins with sore throats and blocked noses followed by dry skin, broken lips, a chill that tingles your spine and a longing for the Sunshine. But never does a cup of hot tea acquire an added taste. Never is the warmth of the first sunshine more enjoyable. You feel lethargic to wake up early in the morning, wishing for a few more yawns under the blanket. That's welcome! Ice-creams and cool drinks are out, chilly bondas, pakodas-- any delicacy that's hot and steamy is relished and savoured. And if you wake up early for a morning stroll, the mist and cool air are absolutely magical.

Maybe that's the reason the Himalayas are so attractive and enchanting for the peace loving and spiritual minded. Doubt if it would have been the same if the Himalayas were in a desert.

Every winter is different inspite of the similar feelings and memories it evokes. This winter added a new member to our family and suddenly the priorities of life appear different. Life is never the same, moment to moment or day by day. I understand, not just intellectually, that Life is always new, always fresh. One moment is never like anything that preceded it, nor will it be duplicated again. There's so much joy, beauty, happiness, depth and intrigue that's bundled up in the moments of life that sometimes when your awareness is clear, you feel overawed, you feel mesmerised at this wonderful creation that God has brought you into. Before you gasp for a fresh breath and wonder again, you're back to your forgetfulness, back to the mundane details, back to the trivial pursuits.

As I stand on the terrace, watching the million specks above glitter through the cold winter night, I resolve to overcome my forgetfulness and climb over the ordinariness of everyday life. I resolve to start afresh my journey and get back to the state of awe, of wonder.

We almost named our son as Hemanth or Shishir, both being names of Winter. And then there were other tempting names--Siddarth, for Lord buddha. And Abhimanyu, my favourite character from Mahabharata. Mom loves sachin tendulkar and wanted her grandson to be named Sachin( I got my name after the stylish batsman G.R. Vishwanath, whom both my parents adored). Archana wished for 'Pratham' from the day her pregnancy was confirmed. But the name we finally decided is all- encompassing, short-sweet-meaningful and an ideal we pursue all our lives.

'Tejas' means inner light.

For Jen and Edu who'd asked, we've named our son as Tejas. (No, I won't tell what we both call him at home!!)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Here and there

It's as if I sail between two separate worlds--temporarily.

For a few days I'm totally with my family, with archana, as she tries to cope up with the new role of a mother; observing how elderly wisdom scores over medical science sometimes and how the entire family comes round to cuddle the new mother. It's as if beyond these people and situations, nothing exists. Before I lose myself I'm back to work, back to the grindmill. The race against deadlines begins.

I settle down to the job of meeting the demands of an invisible customer, shamelessly pursuing an appraisal at the end of the year which determines which company I'll be working for by this time next year. The job sucks me in totally. As I ponder over whether my career is really moving in the right direction or I'm wasting myself in utter meaninglessness, the weekend arrives with a promise of temporary respite.

The conflict and contemplation stand on the other side of Sunday as I rest and relax for a couple of days.

Friday, November 17, 2006

First light........

Breathe in deep. It suffocates--the more I breathe, the more I feel I need the air. It's bone chilling cold... unlike where I was all along. What's that funny sound? I'm all hell let loose. I try to open my eyes and lo! there's a blinding light. It hurts. Not like the soothing darkness I felt inside. I close my eyes tight and continue to yell, gulping all the air around me. Someone holds me close and for a moment I feel I'm back--back to the closed comfort. The light hurts still. No, this soft, warm thing wrapped around me doesn't match that warmth, that comfort. I want to be back there, why did I have to come out.....

Tightly closed eyes. Soft skin. You want to caress this small head with sparse hair but mom says, don't, it's very soft and delicate over there. The lips part a bit and he licks the air, closes his mouth in a pout. Opens eyes a bit, stares at you for a moment and goes back to sleep.

Yawn. My tummy's tingling. I open my eyes and immediately that face over there lights up. I hear funny sounds and whistles--incoherent language! Why can't they speak properly, as I heard them from inside? Aahhh, I'm parched dry, I'm hungry...

You can't soothe a baby with all your learned tricks. The more you try, the more he wails. You hand over the kid to the mother and immediately he's calm. As you watch him feed hungrily, you want to be there, in her place. You want to know how it feels, to become the food of your child, to watch him draw his nourishment out of your self. How does one feel holding a piece of life that one nurtured all along? You are envious.

' You too were pregnant at a deeper level,' She assures. 'I'm his mother only here, but somewhere deep down, we both carried him.'

I'm full. And slipping into a stupor. Those faces over there stare at me intently, beaming, smiling. I wish I t..e..l..l.....t..h..e..m....

What wonderful comfort? We watch him drown into a deep sleep. What's he feeling? What do these sights and sounds mean to him? Apart from hunger-satiation, cold-warmth what else does he experience?

She's tired. It's late evening. You have to go home and come back to the hospital early morning. The day has been filled with a flurry of phone calls and wishes, visits by friends and neighbours. The rest of life is packed and kept aside for the moment. You can start unpacking the routine slowly but this moment is precious. You don't want it to end. You want to lose yourself into it, never to come out again.

As archana drifts into a sleep, she presses your palm and mumbles, 'Congrats dad.'

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Getting out....coming home....

A young man is driving to work. He looks out of the window and watches his dreamgirl standing outside her house, talking to a friend. As he turns round a bend, he loses control and the car rams against an electric pole. With a sudden jolt he loses consciousness.

A moment later when he opens his eyes things appear very strange. He's still in the same broken car but he's balded, has a moustache and also a pot belly. He's no longer the twenty year old in jeans but a middle aged executive in formal attire. The dreamgirl he saw just a moment ago outside her house is now sitting beside him--she's his wife and she's screaming at him for not being careful while driving. In short, in a small accident he has jumped out of time and has landed up in future, yet retaining his awareness of the past!

This was the storyline of a fantastic french movie that was telecast on TV5 Asie. The story then moves back and forth as the protagonist tries to make sense of what has happened to him--he's now the head of a multi-billion shoe manufacturing firm , yet his close childhood buddy is now his chauffer! Till yesterday he was dreaming about marrying his sweetheart but now his grown up daughter comes to his cabin to discuss her marriage plans! Everyone around him are going about their lives and he's the only one in a dilemma--stuck between past and present. His family and friends think that he's gone mad and although he's bewildered at the turn of events and tries to put the pieces together, he suspects that maybe they are right--he must have truly gone mad. The entire movie was told in a comic style yet nothing was trivialised, the tension between reality and fantasy maintained and heightened till the very end ( I missed the final part of the movie ). You realise the crap that's dished out in the name of entertainment nowadays when you're exposed to such works.

I remember this story because like everyone else, time is an important factor for me. We live within the constraints of space and time-- everything in our lives is time-bound. We may not exactly live by the clock but the clock is there always, deciding and determining our moves and ways of life. Mystics say that time is a river and one can get out of it and enter it at any point, either in past or in future. In that way, the future has already happened!

As our life gets more and more faster and hurried with every passing year, you sometimes wonder if everything you're going through makes any sense. It's as if you're caught in a raging current of time that's pushing you ahead; the only thing you can do is stay afloat and allow the river to carry you further. Everybody's in a race but how many know why we're running this race of life-- or how many care to know? Very few of us have the time and interest to stop on the way, sit down under a tree and figure out what all this is about.

We speak of education, empowerment, ending poverty, providing justice for all, equality and what not. Rarely are we bothered about the mystical side of life where everlasting solutions to our dilemmas and illusions lie. And when we speak of meditation, it's more of a healing or stress-busting exercise rather than a tool that can connect us to the Supreme power and transform us into the divine beings we truly are!

And how wonderful would it be if one could get out of this dimension of time and enter it at will at any point! Going back to the past or visiting the future or experiencing the vertical dimension of time in the present moment--not just in our imagination but in reality! Maybe this is possible for spiritually accomplished masters. But if each one of us carry the seed of enlightenment within, this should be a possibility for everyone some day or the other.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Of drizzly days and wavering moods....

Rain droplets on the glass pane.
My hand stops before I reach to the wiper.
Let them stay a moment longer.
They look beautiful and unplucked flowers smiling on a creeper...

It's a drizzly early evening. An overcast sky with gathering heavy clouds. How I love to sit by the window, book in hand, a steaming cup of tea nearby.....but I'm in the thick of a traffic clogged road. Mom has some shopping to finish before our little guest arrives by next fortnight. She is tireless and extremely dynamic, totally worldly and unbothered about the philosophical questions of life.

Sometimes her simple outlook on life seems attractive--go to work, come home and eat, watch tv, read a bit, go to bed, get up the next day and carry on, worry not much about anything. Talk to her about transformation, about expansion, about finding your purpose and you'll give her enough to laugh for a whole day.

Maybe I'm totally wrong in my assessment. Maybe she's much more than the everyday ordinary woman I think she is.

Three blogs I'd love to read end to end and grasp completely. Bird on the moon is now a four-in-one multiblog. And the other one-'How to save the world'-- a fantastic blog and I think this is a good place to start reading it. And of course, my blog hopping is incomplete if I don't have a glance at what India uncut has to say everyday.

And an accidental stumble into Eckarte tolle's interview. Wow!

Without reason I fall into a depressive mood. Things appear meaningless, all my pursuits look like childish endeavours. I know that this is a temporary mood, and after a while I may probably laugh off this emotion but when it's there, it sucks out your energy. I pick up the phone and call a friend, chatter a bit, try to feel better as I listen to him blabber his head off....

There are occasions when friends call up and talk, or just listen--trying to come out of their temporary low moods. Talking to someone, not necessarily sharing your sorrows and seeking solutions but just emptying yourself, unburdening, knowing well that there's an ear which is listening to your mundane worries--maybe this soothes you and unconsciously lifts
up your spirits.

Stuck in a traffic jam. Sky above is threatening to open up...... Overheard this :

'How's work?'
' Good '
'Hmm...I remember you said you had some problems, that you didn't like your job...'
'No, it's okay now. I'm fine with it,'
'..... Do you find time for other activities?'
' Not really. Work's a bit hectic'
' But you said your work's fine...!'
' Yeah, no problem with my job. Only that I have little time for other things.'
'So you really have no problems with your job?'
' Nothing. In fact, I've begun to enjoy it of late.'
' Mmmm'

I stop short of judging the two guys involved in this. Maybe it's just an ordinary chatter.

Winter is about to creep in but the rains have announced an unexpected entry. I'm just recovering from a sore throat and body aches and soon there are friends falling sick. One guy turns up after a week with an unkempt, unshaven face and with a painful look, not to mention his deepening philosophical outbursts.

'You look like Jesus christ,' I say very seriously. He does look like christ but he's confused, probably wondering whether to feel happy or retaliate at the joke.

She's a bit scared although she doesn't speak it out. The joy of becoming a mother will only be attained after passing through a mini-hell. I talk to friends who've gone through this earlier

' The pain is unbearable but once the child comes out, you just relax, you don't even remember that agony...'

' You may as well opt for ceaserian. It's easy, why the bother of going through such labour...'

' If you're going for a ceasarian, why not decide the day and time of child birth? My friend's husband knows astrology; in fact he suggested a particular hour and I had my kid in that auspicious time...'

' Let there be pain, so what? When we gave birth did we go for all these short cuts?'

Many reassuring words while some provide good entertainment. As we discuss this at night, Nana patekar stands in the law court and thunders--' Every citizen should compulsorily undergo military training and serve the country for at least one year. We've taken for granted the hard won freedom of our country.'

Me says: 'Every man should go through this pain of childbirth at least once in a life-time. We've taken her for granted for too long...'

Saturday, October 28, 2006

In the end...jump

There's a programme on National geographic channel that chronicles the life-cycle of an African Lion. The growing years, the ferocious hunting in the wilderness, leading a clan of half a dozen lioness, killing young males who could become potential contenders....and in the final scene, the once invincible but now old lion wobbles around for a few steps and then falls down with a thud. That's the end of the king of the jungle.

This scene has remained in memory for quite a long time. The fraility that comes with age, the helplessness and weakness that are a natural part of growing old--somehow these are very touching. I see it in elders around--those who were once ferocious lions are now looking around--not knowing what to do with their lives except waiting for the end. This disturbs.

Once I saw an elderly man who was suffering from parkinsons disease. He'd enrolled for our meditation classes but he couldn't sit even for a moment without shaking and twisting. His nervous system was completely devastated. I'd wonder how his day-to-day life would be.

Nat writes a good post on growing old and our perceptions regarding it. And in Tehelka as usual, a touching article about a father who's afflicted with parkinsons.

Then there's an sms from a childhood friend--'Sad news. ML passed away!'

ML was our physical trainer in our highschool days. As with all P.T. masters he was a real terror. He'd smash anyone and everyone who'd dare to cross the line of discipline. We as kids never, ever imagined that this bully would one day become an non-descript, unwanted, helpless person and pass away meekly. He was always overbearing -- an apt symbol of the african lion. But in the end there's always that wobble.... and then a soft thud. It comes to everyone, whoever you could be.

Yet there are some who defy age, who defy nature. Shivaram karanth, an eminent figure in the Kannada literary world, lived up to 96 years and he was a young boy until his last breath--full of life, full of zest. The principle--'Mind over matter' was true in his case, as it is with many like him. The body could be slow and unhurried but the spirit inside is roaring and blazing ahead. Their enthusiasm and happiness are infectious. No wobble, no thud can erase the smile on their faces. They live in joy and when they depart, I'm sure they do so with a spring in their steps.

I'd love to be one such old man, if at all I live up to such a ripe age.

Friday, October 20, 2006


There are sounds of crackers ringing from distant horizons. It's one hell of a long weekend. We get a new tv set and also a direct to home satellite connection. Archana wants gifts for everyone at home--she enjoys giving gifts. Last week when dad's books got published, she drew and painted a beautiful card for him. At work, there's less hurry and tension-- a kind of eased out atmosphere. In the midst of all these, I get a special message in my mailbox. Happiness. Like the cool weather, there's a pleasant ambience all around.

When I think of this change, it amazes me. Simply because, by this time last week, I was worried sick over a silly thing. I thought I'd make a fool of myself before a number of people--all my hidden fears were about to explode in my face. When the moment came, nothing happened. None of the disasters that I'd imagined materialised. Whether it were unknown forces that glided me past my troubles or whether it was my own imagination that had magnified trivial things--I'll never know. But life is smooth again and I'm wiser by a degree or two.

An occasion to become philosophical. Thinking about my own motivation makes me realize that most of the time, I'm running after short-lived pleasures or I'm escaping from hidden fears and weaknesses. Most of my life has been a movement away from or towards such mundane things. However hard I convince myself about my spiritual ambitions and lofty ideals, ultimately when I stand face to face with myself, I know that I can't fool myself. In spite of the occasional pursuit and desire for flight, I'm an earth-bound human. My roots are stronger than my wings.

This small understanding gives me a strange strength. Of course, things don't get better overnight. There will be a hundred struggles and innumerable failures before I climb over and wipe my brows. The journey is long and arduous, but it's bleak no longer. There's a slight clarity. When I know my own shortcomings, I also know that I won't slip easily next time around. Every failure and slippage will be a part of the success.

And how long will it be before I slip out of this pursuit of success and escape from failure?

Let there be light and love everywhere with this Diwali. Let all of us find the true brilliance that's hidden within and share it with each other. And a special prayer for Nick. Get well soon!

A happy diwali to all my friends, visitors and everyone in the blogworld and the real world.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stop for a while, will ya....

I wake up and rush to work. I come home late, chat a bit with archana, attend to a few errands and then try hard to fight off sleep, try to contemplate a bit on all the things that are important. The next thing I know is that it's 8 in the morning and I'm trying to catch another 2 minutes of sleep before rushing again.

Saturdays are filled with innumerable activities, waiting to be attended to. Sunday whizzes past and it's another working week.

I ponder over the insensitive and blind pace of my life as I listen to Kishore.
Mein Zindagi ka saath nibhaata chalaa gaya;
har phikr ko dhue me udhaatha chalaa gaya.
( I walk hand in hand with Life....puffing away every despair, every sorrow...)

It soothes a bit as I finish my last sip of tea and head towards office.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Here, I come

A long forgotten dream. A world war has happened and we've somehow survived. The atmosphere is totally bleak, utterly devastated. Those who've perished seem to be the lucky ones. I'm in an open space, living with my family in a torn tent. We're running short of food and I'm discussing with some people about the possibility of starting farming on a piece of land, in order to grow food for ourselves.

The rest of the dream is hazy, but I remember this dream when today, we have news of North korea going nuclear, and all the other big brothers who've stacked nuclear weapons in their backyard crying hoarse. Hope my dream remains a dream and doesn't become a living nightmare for all of us on this earth. But with these crazy scoundrels ruling us, anything can happen.

And then, there are some disturbing images on tv. There's a communal flare in Mangalore, not far from here. It's a sensitive area -- the muslim and hindu dogs over there are always at loggerheads for some issue or the other. Three days ago a fight broke out over the transportation of cattle to slaughterhouses and soon there was widespread violence, resulting in a few deaths. A kurfew is declared and the police are manning the entire city.

They show a young man on TV who has ventured out of his house and a group of policemen stop him on the way. They start lashing him with their sticks until he's forced to flee --they pursue him, thrashing him all the way. He didn't look like a rioter. Later a car passes by and the police stop it. The driver and the passenger are thoroughly checked, the car is inspected and later they're let go. What's disturbing is the attitude of the police constables. They threaten the hapless driver and the passenger, nudging and prodding them with their sticks--the harrassment is sickening and revolting. Agreed, the situation is tense and people are dead, but does that give you a sanction to terrorise anyone and everyone in the name of maintaining law and order?

I find it difficult to sympathise with or understand police brutality, however justified it may seem to be. One of my cousins is serving in the police force and his attitude is evident--a slow transformation into a rowdy in uniform. They too are humans but the access to power brings out the hidden devil, I think.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

In any darkness.....under any haze

........ there's always a ray of light......

.... and always someone who ferries you across.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Seeking warmth... cold surroundings. Sore throat. Body aches. It's raining outside. Dr. Zhivago is still in mind. I feel as if I'm in Moscow during the russian revolution and it's snowing outside the window. The world is damp and cold and brutal. Writing, scribbling out all thoughts brings warmth to my heart. As these words roll out, the stone cold inside begins to melt. Something begins to flow somewhere. Unbridled.

Rituals are sickening as far as I'm concerned, but sometimes they're comforting too. When the would-be mother is into her 8th month of pregnancy, she's given a ceremonial worship. Relatives and friends, mostly women, are invited and they apply turmeric on the girl's cheeks and vermillion on her forehead--a sign of a household woman. They offer her rice and gifts, wish her a safe and happy delivery and bless her. While most of us could be ignorant about the deeper meaning and importance of such rituals, this certainly has positive psychological effects. Archana must be feeling comforted, especially after all these months of pain and uneasiness. Pampered, reassured...

My opinion regarding gays changed a bit after Philadelphia. Homosexuality was always thought of as a kind of perversion, arising out of sex-deprivation. We would read and hear stories of people turning gay in situations like war, prison or monasteries-churches where normal intimacy was either impossible or forbidden. Once I ran into a priest who stroked my arms with a show of affection and his touch was anything but affectionate. Philadelphia made me think of the possibility that Gays-Lesbians could be normal people with a different taste or attitude. Gayness arising out of sex-deprivation may be perverse but there could also be people out there who are otherwise normal except that they have an affection for members of the same sex.

Vikram seth's interview in Outlook and this memoir in Tehelka are interesting views on this subject. Spiritually, I'm not sure whether this is due to some karma or if these people are just like anyone else. I'm yet to find out.

All said and done, I don't know how I'll react if a friend of mine confesses tomorrow that he's gay. Will I treat him like I treat my other straight friends? I'm yet to grow into this kind of liberal mind-set.

Wavy movements on her belly. It's as if a group of kids are rolling all over one another, inside there.

'My friend once complained to her doctor that she feels as if there's an octopus in her womb'.

'What did the doctor say?'

'That the kid has two elbows, two palms,two knees and two feet. Also a head. When he stretches and turns and rolls around, what else are you supposed to feel like?'

A kid inside the womb can communicate to God, I understand. What could this one be talking now? Does anyone remember that experience later--either of lying crouched in a dark, constricted place, submerged in a sticky fluid. Or of talking and listening to the Supreme Intelligence?

If we remember would we remain the same? Do the mystics who achieve enlightenment remember this experience?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Early morning....

..... get up at 5. Yawn a bit and splash yourself with warm water. Still yawning, meditate for half an hour. Come out in semi-darkness on the terrace. Watch the early morning wet road and the retired elders of the colony walking briskly, diligently. Look up at the glowing horizons, the clear sky. A grey feathered eagle on the coconut branch nearby. Cool breeze. No worry. Life's good.

Wanna be up next day at this hour.

There's a mass exodus happening around me--at work, of course. A lot of guys are quitting the company, some of them good friends of mine. This ship-jumping is more common in IT companies, where its often the lure of better pay-scales and sometimes better exposure in other places that prompts employees to quit their jobs. It's a bit unsettling--personally. You don't just sit in front of a computer and play with the keyboard and mouse. The people you work with also matter. Suddenly one day the guy sitting next to you announces that he'll not be coming from next monday, that he has found a better offer in a fortune 500 company and you are a bit jolted. You don't have to be jolted but you are. It's as if your neighbour is quitting and you'll not see him anymore. Not that it will affect you deeply but still it unsettles a bit if a lot of guys you meet regularly at work start quitting.

Another friend is leaving but it actually makes me happy that he is doing so. He's not joining any MNC or going abroad. He's quitting WORK as we understand it and going for something that he's passionate about and is dedicated to.
That's something I hope I'll do some years down the line.

Re-reading Magus of Strovolos. Like Power of now, this is a treasure of unknown truths and nuggets.

Been chewing on this from two days;

Daskalos says: ' I don't judge others, so I don't care what anyone thinks about me.'

Simple yet spot on.

Daily ritual

After the mid-day lunch at a hotel near our office, I sit on a small platform facing the busy road, along with a friend. We order a one-by-two tea. Sip it slowly and watch the traffic rush past, a few feet away. Not many words spoken.

What's so magical about this? Nothing. Except that it's simply blissful. Don't know why.

Stray thoughts

'Why don't you eat properly? Look how thin you've become...'

'No brinjals, no raddish, bittergourd, drumsticks, shouldn't be so choosy. Why do you always complain about taste? Health is more important, not just satisfying your taste buds..'

'A TV? Why? Why can't you sit with us and watch these programmes? Why do you want to spend on another tv set...?'

'Why do you watch all those english movies? Nothing but sex and violence....'

'Don't spend all of your salary. Save a bit. Never know what happens tomorrow...'

'Your ears are so red...must be High BP...When are you going to the doctor? And what happened to your appointment with the eye specialist...?'

Although I'm amused to be treated like a baby after all these years, I'm beginning to get irritated.

'Don't be so short tempered and edgy. Your child will also become one...'

Monday, September 18, 2006

Face value

A dialogue from Amorres perros--'If you want to make God laugh, tell him of your plans'.

As I'm gazing at a few sheets of paper outlining my plans for today, for the next week and for the coming months, this sentence keeps ringing within. I've prepared several such lists in the past, drawn many plans, dreamt heaven and earth. Looking back, most of them remained on paper. Events happened differently, for better or worse. I didn't pursue my dreams after noting them down in ink.

Dreaming is good. To plan out a path to reach those dreams is better. But both go down the drain if no action follows.

New age literature says that if you have a strong desire and you strengthen it with affirmations and strong thoughts, the desire somehow materialises. I'm skeptical about this. Without acting on a plan, without pursuing a dream diligently, there seems to be no way in which it can become a reality. Positive reinforcement can create the passion and add to the intensity of the action but without an action, there's no fruition. At least, in my case.

You meet a young man in his mid-twenties. He's bright, intelligent yet silent. Academically accomplished. Pursuing a doctoral degree in bio-informatics from a university in States. A seeker. A successful person who's keen on finding the truths of life, who's fascinated by the mystical side of life.

You interact with him. He's much more than an average person. The qualities you wish you had seem to be there in him, somehow. When you're strugling with the basics of the material and the spiritual pursuits, he appears to be an adept in both. Yet he's humble, willing to listen, ready to learn. He's friendly and respectful and evokes these qualities in others.

Before you begin to develop an awe of him, the mask falls down. He's a charlatan. Someone with a twisted thought process, capable of destroying all the good work built over the years. Behind the humble, innocent face lies a scheming mind with a personal agenda. An intelligent person who has a way with words, who can confuse and mislead almost anyone if one isn't careful enough.

No doubt he's kicked out before any damage occurs. Where gaint steps are taken, the stumbling blocks are crushed into dust. Yet this interaction exposes shortcomings within that are yet to be overcome, and the lessons which are still to be learnt. Our vulnerability is exposed but it's also an opportunity to grow sturdy. To become pure yet strong and powerful....capable of crushing all obstacles on the path towards light!

Time is short and the work.....! I realize that I can't fulfill all my dreams, can't watch all my movies, can't digest all of my favourite books, can't browse through all the blogs that I love, may not visit much of the places I hoped to see someday. Can't spend time in superfluous activities henceforth. When too much is on the platter, I need to choose and pursue those of value.

I doubt if blogging falls in this group. I wish I had priority time to scribble thoughts and share it with others--however short the group could be. I hope I find time for regular blogging. I sincerely hope that blogging becomes one of the priority activities for me.

Monday, September 11, 2006

It ain't so deadly but yeah....

Bomb blasts in Malegaon. It's news nowadays if a day passes without any bomb blasts or terrorist attacks. In between there are serious questions. If the blasts occur in a temple or inside a railway carriage, it's a terrorist attack. But if the same bomb goes off near a mosque, killing muslims, why should everyone start singing communal tunes? How does it become a plot to create communal tensions in the country? Why should everyone jump up and start placating the minorities--whoever they could be?

If hindus and others die in bomb blasts we begin to estimate how fast the city sprang back to its routine, how people helped each other, etc. But if Muslims are blown apart everyone's concerned about communal tensions. How come?

I remember Wit wrote an interesting article once on our double standards and hypocrisy regarding muslims and I had linked to it. It's worth reading over and over.

Who's a hacker? Someone who breaks into secure computer networks and steals data? Someone who decrypts passwords and siphones off money from bank accounts? Eric raymond doesn't think so. He says, hackerdome is an attitude--a very positive attitude as such. Anyone who finds creative solutions for difficult situations in a playful way is a hacker! Interesting and highly readable articles here.

When I'm thinking about hacking in this context, I find a place where there are hacks for a hundred and one things, most of them unusual. Hacks for creative writing, for communication skills, for leadership.... Worth a deeper dig.

I realize in shock and mild horror that certain things I'd pushed under the carpet, thinking that I'd get rid of them, have not only stayed there but have grown and expanded. You can't wish away things, you can't hide from the negativities deep within. A friend's advice comes to mind--'If you find danger, step into it. At the least, step aside or step over but never step back'!

The time has come to face my fears squarely and surge ahead. No more sleep. No inertia.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A few highs

It's a hectic day at the office, as usual. We're racing against time to meet a deadline. There's also a general sense of frustration in all the team members because the project is dragging ad infinitum. Everyones's working hard to finish this assignment, relax a bit and move over to the next project. In the midst of all this, my teamleader calls me to the conference room and hands over a letter. It's a pay hike.! Out of the blue!

I'm no doubt excited and proud but also remember that a few months back, everyone else in the team had a hike except me. My team leader says that it's never been done before and I should keep this a secret, etc, etc. Whatever the case, this gesture is deeply appreciated. Money motivates but the knowledge that your efforts are acknowledged motivates immensly.

Thank ya!!!

A few years ago there was a movie. A normal run-of-the-mill blockbuster but this was a bit special. The central character was an angry young man, who later on mellows a bit when he falls in love with a girl.....and the guy who played the role became an overnight sensation. One part of the media portrayed him as a future superstar and started describing him in superlatives. There were articles about his magnetic persona, about how he was a non-descript actor last year and how he has turned the tables around etc, etc, etc. The initial euphoria surrounding any high achiever!

In a strange way, these events instilled a lot of self-belief in myself. How I co-related this young man's success with that of my own or how I related to this person--it remains unknown, but at that time, I felt I could do anything. Nothing seemed impossible any longer. It looks childish and absolutely stupid....finding your inspiration from movie stars and sporting heroes. But however irrational, it was a fact. I felt on top of the world for a short duration. My gait, speech and way of relating to others were positively affected. I could feel the confidence, I could touch it.

Two days ago I had a similar feeling. I was vaguely thinking about my spiritual path, the changes we're going through, the decisions of some of our friends to forfeit their careers and dedicate themselves to the purpose, the immense enthusiasm-passion in others..... Then suddenly, out of nowhere, I could touch the same level of confidence that I'd experienced years ago. Somehow the possibilities before me began to stretch. Just as you feel depressed at times for no reason, here I was sitting in the drawing room, watching primetime news and at the same time, feeling tremendously self-confident. I felt I could just rise up and touch the stars!!! Irrational, illogical but real.

Writing immediately--in a way as the events unfold---I think I attempted it once and it came out well. Haven't done it again since--- I feel, you should do it once in a way, as a way of freshening up your writing. Today, as I'm browsing around, I see a similar post. Needless to say, the writing is powerful, not just because of the style but also because of the content. And the writer is someone who's quite popular in the blogworld. His posts reinforce the idea that you can find stuff to write about wherever you are---what you need is a proper attitude.

In fact, his writing is not only interesting and humourous but also tremendously fresh, as is evident here.

'How many more months?...' She's tired and restless. Everyday seems to be an endless ordeal. The body has its own laws and limitations; every change brings more aches and pains. 'In between, this fellow inside is kicking all around'. I don't know if she's complaining or in a pleasant mood.

We do some random counting. 'Two and a half months more', she sighs.

'Think in terms of weeks. It's another 10 weeks more. You know how fast a week passes. Sundays whizz past and in no time another sunday is at your doorstep'.

She doesn't look convinced. 'I wonder how our elders would give birth to 10-12 children, one after the other. And in those days, there were not much medical facilities--no scanning, no monthly check-ups, no iron-calcium tablets.....'

Becoming a parent makes you more sensitive and respectful towards your own parents. I wonder how Dad and Mom managed to take care of a family of three children, with their modest income. As I ponder over my future and the purpose and what I should do to achieve these, I also think what could've been the motivations and driving forces for Dad and Mom. What were their dreams? Apart from raising children, educating them, marrying them off, ensuring that they are settled in life, what else motivated them day in and day out? How different are we from them and how different will be the next generation?

'You're no different from them,' She interrupts. 'Don't think you're a thees maar khaan !(one who can squash 30 men in one stroke).

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The drizzle returns....

... to early morning bangalore. Riding through the morning air, fresh with the scent of the rains.... a new sense of aliveness all around, as if everything around you has been washed clean...the roads, the roadside trees, the vehicles, the people moving into a new day of work, even those who're blissfully idling on park benches---everything is fresh, new and life-affirming.

My penchant for good cinema must've started wayback in the days of Doordarshan, when every sunday afternoon, DD would telecast award winning regional cinemas. Two movies that remain in memory even today---Ende mammati Malayalam, about a couple who give up their adopted daughter to her rightful mother who's become a wreck after losing her daughter. The other (don't remember the name) was about two mentally challenged youngsters who fall in love with one another and get married. These arty movies struck a chord where dishum-dishum and romantic bland stories failed. Then apart from some brilliance from Maniratnam and a few good movies here and there, most of my movie watching was confined to hollywood blockbusters and some hindi romances. Tv5 asie would telecast good french movies but we lost the channel when our satellite tv provider changed.

Imagine my delight when I found a movie rental shop close to my office, which stacked the best movies from all over the world. From Kurosawa to kshelofski, from coppola to tarantino, from age-old classics to the latest award winner at Cannes....Cinema paradiso has the greatest movies made in every culture, in every country.

The first movie I took home last week was Salaam Bombay, India's entry to Oscars two decades ago. And all of my favourite movies are available on the shelves, which means that I'll have to keep aside a chunk of time every weekend for them.

Reading a novel or a piece of writing and then going back to it after sometime---it gives a different feeling. Like Lord buddha's words--'You don't step into a river twice'---you never read a story twice. You change, your world view, your attitude, your personality changes, and with these your perception of the story changes.

Maybe this applies to all our interactions and relationships. You never meet the same person twice.

Reading what I wrote around this time last year---about Lord Ganesha and the fantasy I formed about him at a young age-- it gives a similar yet different feeling. Similar because the sense of separation still haunts when the festivities are over. Different--how I know not!

Days of anxiety, of excitement, of a new fear, of renewed hope....a great turbulence within!

Emotional distancing is something I price very high, yet it's terribly difficult to achieve. To be free of your emotions, to watch them from a distance, knowing fully well that they aren't you...YOU are a witness to these emotions------ I wish I could do that.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Reading stories and novels, watching movies are past-time pleasures, most of the time. But at times they enrich your understanding, widen your horizons and give you a new perspective. To borrow a phrase, 'Reading literature is as important as studying philosophical/mystical volumes. Great truths would've been expressed in simple, everyday situations!'

I think this happens when you read hemingway, rushdie, camus--not the rowlings and dan browns. Or when you watch kurosawa and satyajit ray, not 'kabhi alvida na kehna' or superman.

A character in Naipaul's novel says--' When my father was on his death bed, his nature changed. From a gentlemanly person, he became a wicked character. He would insult everyone--even my mother, brother, his business associates....Whatever he thought about them, he brought out. He held nothing back. Proximity to death gave him that license and made him fearless, I suppose. He had nothing to lose....'

For me, this is an epiphany. Encountering this situation in the middle of a story rings a thousand bells in you. The effect touches somewhere deep within you, where even a hundred self-help books do not reach.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Past and present

Journeys have a magic in them. Whether you move from one town to another or you grow from one state of living to another, a journey never leaves you the same. It enriches. Like a flowing river you not only remain fresh but also gain a lot. We are on journeys all the time but if it is a conscious and deliberate one, we can decide the degree of enrichment.

I'm on one such journey--a physical one--travelling to chennai to attend the birthday function of my nephew and niece. The second class compartment is overcrowded. The seats are uncomfortable, more so for archana who is into her 7th month of pregnancy. I'm irritated at Dad who's sitting in the opposite seat, blissfully dozing inspite of the rickety journey. He was the one who insisted on a second class journey when we wanted to travel comfortably in an AC compartment. Dad's touchy about spending---between quality and cost, he'll opt for the latter. Anything at a lesser price and he's likely to go for it. His impoverished childhood and difficult upbringing have ingrained these qualities in him and makes him careful in spending matters. I understand all these yet I'm fuming within. I know I'll have a backache by the time we reach Chennai.

My sister stays with her inlaws in their ancestral house. This house is nearly 80 years old. When it was built and the occupants moved in, India was still ruled by the British. Gandhi, Nehru, Bose were the role-models--not Shahrukh, Ambanis and murthys of today. The way of thinking and living must've been different, the atmosphere could've been special. An oppressed people, coming together in great unity to break the back of the tormentor, finding inspiration and hope in outstanding leaders, abandoning their easy life and normal routine ----just for one word. Freedom!

This house bears testimony to that era. It's not just a structure. It has those special energies, that special mileu.

'Omkaara' is based on Shakespeare's Othello. There are good reviews, which means I'll somehow endup watching it. The trend is slowly changing in money-success hungry bollywood, where movies of substance are being made nowadays. Shakespeare's world was intimate during my study of Julius ceasar in college--but I've missed his other works and movie adaptations.

At lunch the topic of discussion is the number of movies my sister & brother-in-law watch every week. They say, they watch every other Tamil movie--mostly popcorn type, commercial, run-of-the-mill stuff. I suggest they watch 'Omkaara'--say it's based on Shakespeare. They stare at me as if I'm a relic of the past.

I'm reading 'Magic seeds' by Naipaul. Four days of rest and a mini-vacation in Chennai means that I can eat through this book's world. This looks more of a journal than a novel. It's as if I've written down my memoirs in a blog and then made a book out of it. The protogonist, 'Willie chandran', a perpetual outsider who joins an underground movement, searching for meaning in life, seeking and losing himself--this guy is Me. I should've read such books earlier instead of browsing through crap.

Chasing the horizon--something Nick pointed at in his comments makes me ponder over my everyday motivations. The horizon captivates only from a distance. When you reach there, there's no horizon. The illusion would've moved further, prompting you to go for it. You never reach it, you're always moving towards it.

Blogging douses my creative thirst-- it satisfies my need to give expression to my thoughts and share it with others. I have no more dreams or aspirations to write and publish. Feel it's good, in a way.

More notes

A lazy afternoon. I'm lying down on the sofa, gazing at the swaying branches of the coconut trees at a distance. Varied images flood in--from the novel, from the french movie I watched last night, scenes from yesterday's birthday party--and soon everything starts getting mixed up. I begin to go in an altogether different stream. Gazing at the ancient wooden cupboards and ceiling, imagining the sounds and silence of a different era, I feel as if I'm living in Pre-independence India--nearly 80 years back in time.

I'm a young man living in that momentous time, fresh out of college and into a job. My people are already into the freedom struggle, my dad's following the footsteps of the mahatma in some part of India. Everyone expects me to give up my job and secured life, and take a jump into the movement. Many of my relatives and friends, who have strong patriotic feelings are unhappy with me-- a lousy fellow leading a comfortable life. In social gatherings I'm looked at like an outcast, like a specimen.

Slowly I feel guilty for not joining the movement, and one day I give up everything and jump. Not just because I'm answering a social obligation but also because this environment changes me--it morphes my inner self, my aspirations.

Maybe without the environment I'd have continued my easy life. Or maybe, on my own strength I'd have taken a jump.

Cut back to august 2006. My environment wants me to lead a normal, balanced life. A life lead by everybody else-- a straight line from birth to death. And I'm a good boy who's answering to that social obligation. Yet there are occasions when an inner urge surfaces, a restlessness arises asking me if this is the life I want to live for another 50 odd years.

Most of the time I brush aside the restlessness, with an assurance that it will be answered in some future. But the future is a horizon. And the answer has to be found in the Present, in the now. It involves an unsettling of a stable world. It means a lot of explaining and convincing to be done to everyone else in my life. And that's something which creats discomfort--the very thought of it creates discomfort.

Am I, or are we, strong enough to listen to our hearts and follow our passions? Is it possible to just ride that wave of pure inner urge--minus any sentimentality or drama--just listen to yourself and live the life that you want to live? Can this restlessness give you the inspiration to break out of your old self, dash through all social obligations, and move on to a new life?

The answer is elusive at present.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Dreaming up a future....

There's an important celebration in your house or in your community. You make preparations for several days, get involved in the work, co-ordinate with others, work hard to make everything a smooth sailing...and one day the celebrations end. Your have a sweet sense of exhaustion. And strangely, you also feel a bit empty. As you sit back resting, you feel you've achieved something but you're also sad. Something that kept you engaged all along, something that you enjoyed thoroughly is no longer there. These events have no life on their own; it's not that you're seeing off a dear friend---but the feeling is similar somehow. If you've experienced it, you know what it means.

It's a bit stupid but I feel all these as the project that we'd been struggling with for the past 4 months comes to an end. Another project starts soon and after a short break, we'll be back to the grind mill again. A small goodbye to four months of tension, misery and victory!

I get the kick for the first time. Then I talk to it mentally. She says, 'He's kicking even more vigourously. What did you speak? He seems to be very happy!'

A funny incident. I'm at the railway reservation counter. As I hand over the form to the guy behind the counter, he looks over and tosses it back. 'I'll not take this. You haven't written your address and phone no. down here.' I fill them up. Later when I hand over 800 Rs., he gives it back with, 'Give the exact change.'

Maybe he's had a hard day at the counter, yet there's no reason for this arrogance. He's joking with his colleagues. I hand over the change and come back.

Half an hour later, the phone rings. It's the same guy. 'I've 100 Rs. less in my account. I found your phone no. in the form. Can you please see if you've paid less while getting the tickets, sir?'

No, I haven't. But I do appreciate it when life instantly brings down a high flying snob to his knees. Good!

Lazing around on the net brings me to this blog with lots of readable stuff. And an interesting article here.

As I drive back home on an overcast evening, this line from a movie rings inside. 'I'd seen people who went to the gallows, crying. I'd also seen those who went towards death in utter calmness. Then I met the third kind. Those who greeted death in laughter.'

A British warden writes this about the revolutionaries of the Indian freedom struggle-- Bhagat singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and others. The movie is 'Rang de basanthi'

Me thinks, this applies everywhere. You see the same three kinds of people everywhere. Those who approach something in terror, those who approach in a dignified silence and the third kind-- those who enter dancing. Where do I fit in, in different aspects of my life?

What does it take to move from Terror, to Silence.....and ultimately to Joy.

More notes to myself
( I enjoy scribbling these notes. When I kept a journal during my ambitious years as a wannabe storywriter, much of my writing was personal and without any form, style, meaning or purpose. Yet, it was enjoyable to write and also to read later. A writing which is spontaneous than a pre-meditated or built-up passage is more lively, I believe. These notes are similar somehow and if none understands what I blabber here, it doesn't matter. I'm just loosening up and shouting at myself. )

Get to meet fascinating individuals these days.

One guy's leaving the company-- he's got a job at Infosys. Infosys was The Company we were lusting for but not anymore these days. The pay's good but the work breaks your back. We know people who have quit Infosys, unable to bear the work pressure.

Anyhow, this guy's a bit weird--tremendously cynical but jovial too (he manages it somehow). He's at the end of his one month notice period and will be quitting in week. Someone asks him if the countdown has started. He says--'For what? Death?'

The guy who asks the question says---' That countdown has started the day you were born. Every moment the clock ticks'.

By itself, this has no meaning. It's a general statement. But it takes different shades when you ponder over your purpose, on what you're doing, and why you do things in one way knowing fully well that your heart's elsewhere.

Half an hour later, when I'm lunching out with a friend, I remember it.

We're discussing about a life changing step that's confronting a few of us. We talk about confirming to the society and about rebelling, coming out of our boundaries, and doing the thing we think to be right--without jeopardizing others.

Death and what others think about you ---these things become important in this context. The end of everything is death (at least, with the life that's familiar to the majority). A person who leads a routine life and someone who follows his passion, both end up at the same place. Whether you live your dreams or you slog for someone's dream, you know that what matters most is what you feel within and how you feel about yourself.

Yet, why do the majority continue to sleepwalk through life? And why am I a part of that majority?

The bottom line is--you have no godgiven passion for the things you care about.

If you are passionate, you don't bother about others' opinion about you or your choices. You make your own roads and let others praise or curse you--depending on their inclinations.

Maybe they'll understand and appreciate things when their awareness raises above the mundane.
Maybe you don't understand fully that which you love. You make not much efforts to understand.
Nor do you try to kindle the passion within. You are content to live out life as it comes, within your boundaries, within your comfort zones.

To dream a future and to actualize that dream, it takes courage.

To jump off a cliff, you need tremendous faith in the hands that are waiting to catch you!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Simple pleasures

Laziness is detrimental but it's fun too. After studies and before work, there was a phase, an extended phase of divine laziness. I would go over to a friend's place and sit for the whole day and chat. He too was in a similar state of bliss and we'd destroy time in idle gossip. Or I'd watch movies. Devour books by dozens. Stare into the sky and let imagination soar. Scribble nonsense and try to make literature out of it. Stay awake until the wee hours of the morning, lost in contemplation, giving shape to a future(?).

No doubt, it was a horrible waste of time and energy. When I'm scrambling for time now, trying to fill in a whole lot of activities within the 24 hours, wondering at the enormity of the tasks certainly was gold flushed down the drainage.

But still, it was beautiful--inspite of the irresponsibility and uncertainty. Beautiful because maybe it can't be repeated. From one angle, those years were wasteful--with no material productivity. No job, no career growth, no accumulation of money in your account, no learning in the work place. But from another viewpoint...that was the phase where I was living life the way I wanted to, however amaeturish it might have been.

When I'm updating my blogpost, I come across this. Fantastic!

I take a day off from my work schedule and stay home. I eat my breakfast leisurely and watch the morning news on TV. I meditate for an hour. At 11 archana brings me a steaming cup of coffee. As I sip coffee, I read from the pages of 'India My Love,' by Osho. It begins to drizzle and soon it's pelting outside. The weather's absolutely pleasant and I stare at the downpour for a long time doing NOTHING. It's bliss.

A friend calls up at night and we chat for a long time. He wants to know about my plans for the future. I blabber a bit and realise that there are no plans in me. I only have a destination and one or two steps that go in that direction. But the exact road map...? I'm at a loss.

As I lie down staring at the ceiling, listening to the sounds of midnight, the enormity of the future unfolds before my eyes. In my childhood, whenever I fell ill, I'd wake up with scary dreams where I'm faced with an insurmountable task and I'm unable to take a single step. My situation at present looks similar.

Then a few words come to me--words I'd heard recently. 'You are on a mist covered road, not knowing what lies ahead, unable to see beyond a few steps. Take one or two steps. The mist clears up and you see the next steps. Walk further. The mist clears again. Take small steps and keep moving. In Faith.'

You don't always walk from A to B, with clearly defined steps in between. Most of the times you do, but at times you fly. A whirlwind picks you up at A and throws you down at B. Life isn't rational all the time.

I know my destination. I know the few steps ahead. And I have my passion and faith. I'll walk!

Nowadays we're twisting words at home and it creates humour in our everyday speech. If we want to call someone stupid, we say 'styupah', with a stress on the letter 'h'. Or 'idiotah' for idiot, the way italians pronounce. Or 'What's your probos(what's your problem)? Or 'Okie-dokie!(for okay!)

Dilip's stopped blogging. Styupah!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Seeking calm in an insane world

I'm sitting on the steps of the meditation hall, gazing at the vast expanse of the night sky. The security guard of this complex, a young boy of 18 sits nearby. He's a slim and energetic young man, with a smile and sparkle in his eyes. He points to the people inside the hall. 'How long can they sit like that?'
'Thirty minutes in the beginning,' I reply. 'Gradually you increase it to 45-60 minutes, one hour, two hours and then as much as you wish.'
'And it does improve your concentration, isn't it?'
'Yeah, it does.'

We chat for a while. He's from a far off village, recently arrived in bangalore in search of a livelihood. Poverty back home in a famine struck village, a meagre salary of 2500 rupees in a big city, a deadening--soul killing job. He walks 3-4 miles every morning & evening to his small room, to save 10 rupees on bus fare. ' Love to walk...good for health,' he chuckles.
Then asks hesitantly,'Do you people take money for teaching meditations here?'

'Yes, a small sum.'

He's a bit disappointed. I promise to give him a small booklet which can help him start meditations. His face brightens and he pleads me to give it the very next day.

As I leave he says,'I don't like this job---just sit around and do nothing. In this age I've to work hard. If I sit now and do nothing, then when I get old enough to sit around, I'll be lying down.'

Blogs shut shop in our country for a week. Some idiot higher up in power decides that blogs are the medium of communication for terrorist outfits---and the result is that most of the blogsites are blacked out. While many of us sit back and wait, some bloggers protest, file RTIs and express their outrage through newspapers and newschannels. Whether the government yeilded to their protest or realised its folly in setting the whole paddy feild on fire just to burn a few weeds--ultimately we're breathing easy again.

How does the ordinary muslim feel now, in these times? Some nuts blow up railway carriages in mumbai or detonate school buses in kashmir or blow themselves up in crowded market places in baghdad--and you have the misfortune of sharing the same community with these insane people. What are your feelings? How much suspicion, humiliation, self-doubt and dilemmas are raging within you?
Archana reads this and says,'They are blowing up the whole world and you sit here sympathising these guys.' No, I don't patronize or sympathise the community. I wonder how I'd feel if I were a muslim and have no goddamned intention to blow up the whole world, no matter what others in my community feel. How would I feel?

Confusing and dreadful times. Can India ever retaliate to Pak the way Israel is doing now in the middle east? Whether you respond or not, the faceless cowards are going to target you. Can India summon the will and courage to blast the terrorist camps across the border? What will be the consequences? Where and when will this end?

Sleeplessness for sometime. I don't like to sleep nowadays. Feel, it's a waste of time.

I look at people and a thought arises--a very firm thought. 'I don't want to end up like that.' I see retired people sitting in parks, shuffling newspapers, boasting about grandchildren, staring into emptyness, or ambling on evening roads. The dusk is nearby and you've travelled a sunlit path with your eyes tightly shut, groping here and there, collecting stones and mud all the way.
When I'm at that age, I don't want to open my eyes and stare down at my collection of garbage!

Sunday, July 16, 2006


A cool breeze caresses the river surface, creating endless ripples, which gradually widen and disappear as they expand. The flow is so silent and graceful that this majestic expanse looks more like a placid lake than a river which blends with the sea a few miles away. Faint evening sounds from the far off village merge with the rustle of the peepul leaves overhead. One or two lights flicker at a great distance amidst coconut groves as the sun sets and a soothing darkness descends on the landscape.

I stand on the river bank, gathering every detail of this magical world, as the late evening breeze brings with it a mystical fragrance, arousing feelings and memories which cannot be given a human expression. This is a moment from my childhood but it is fresh, as if I'm experiencing it Now.

I cheat someone today and feel happy doing it. I'm waiting for a friend and the place has no place to park my car. So I drive into a nearby religious institution, park my car in the parking space and pretend that I've come here to pray. The guard looks a bit suspicious--maybe my attire and body language betray my intentions, or maybe he thinks I have a bomb in my car. Nonetheless he leaves me alone. Half an hour later, the friend calls me up from outside the gate and I drive out, royally.

Surrounded by books. A good 3 hours on a saturday evening. Silence in the house.

We are getting accustomed to violence and bloodbath. Maybe a kind of numbness has set in. Bomb blasts, suicide attacks, airstrikes, riots.....I don't think I'd be devastated if these ghastly things devour someone close to me. Is this a healthy detachment or a inhuman indifference?

I was born and brought up in a middle class family. We've always valued things in a moderate way--not being callous (as it happens, sometimes, if you are super rich), or being overawed (if you've grown up in deprivation). What it meant was that our house and living environment was neat and tidy, only to the extent required. It was never spic and span and spotless, which I wished for many a time. Maybe it has nothing to do with your economic condition and everything to do with your attitude, but this was how it was with us.

But this would change twice a year. Whenever my brother-in-law came visiting from chennai, our house would automatically become a tad more orderly and tidy. Dad would be up before 6, have an early bath, comb his hair back, wear new clothes, open the windows to allow fresh air, put new sheets on the sofa...similarly Mom....and a sublime crispiness would automatically evolve in the surroundings.

These events came up from memory today when a similar freshness got infused into our otherwise normal household environment. A special guest arrived and we were on our toes, ensuring that everything was perfect and in its proper place. That aliveness, that fragrance of newness is still around although the day has ended.

Freshness around brings freshness within, they say. How I wish for a similar environment every moment!

A distant rumbling, somewhere deep down. A foreboding of things to come--the approach of something huge. Something Enormous!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Anniversary blues...........

July is called 'Aashada' according to the Indian calender. It's the twilight period between summer and the rains--You have clouds but the rains are yet to unfold their fury. It's drizzly all over. This is also the periods where not many ceremonies are held. No marriages and in orthodox circles, newly weds are forced to stay away from one another througout this month( remember a funny movie in which this happens and the husband falls for his wife's best friend in frustration).

This month is considered inauspicious by many. But according to spiritual wisdom, this is the most auspicious period of the year, when we're flooded with the best energies from the higher planes. Those who knew this devoted all their time and efforts for spiritual practises and kept aside all material pursuits and marriage ceremonies.

Distortions!!! That's the norm.

No, I didn't stay away from the blog world for this reason. Nor did I keep away because I read this ( Admire your clarity of thought and conviction in this piece, but don't agree with your nonsense, dude. Keep your shit in your pocket).

I wanted to blabber about my first birthday as a blogchild. Time flies. Never thought this bunch of time-pass writeups would survive this long, or would be of any real value to sustain my interest for this long. Without unknown friends who read and patted, without other simple yet inspiring blogs, without the tiny squirmishes with hot-headed balloons and without the intimate write ups on some heartful blogspaces which made me think--'Wow, I have something similar to say',-- I might've winded up soon. Thanks to all. I love being here.

A quote comes up from memory-- What's the difference between someone who can't read and someone who doesn't read?-----Nothing.
And what's the difference between someone who has no opportunity and someone who doesn't use his opportunities?

Applies everywhere.

Was busy. And a lot lazy. But will blog often henceforth, even if what comes out is utter drivel. Love to write drivel!