Monday, May 29, 2006

Go deep...to where you belong

Drizzle in the early morning! It's either irritating or refreshing depending on what you plan to do that day. If you have nothing to do but just sit at your window and open your favourite book, with a steaming cup of tea by your side...Nothing beats this weather. Like it's happening now.

The road in front of my house is newly tarmaced. My neighbours who used to finish their morning walks on their terrace or evening talks and gossips in their compounds, have started coming out of their houses for a leisurely walk on this newly prepared road. It's just a road, nothing much, but still when i look out of my window at nights when not a soul stirs here, there's a silent grace, a majesty that this road seems to have developed. It's as if a sick person who was confined to bed is now resplendent with health and is moving around happily.

I've always believed that there's much more to life than what we know and think we know. A hundred years ago nobody believed that plants had life but now it's an accepted fact. Life throbs even in a grain of sand, in a wisp of air, in a piece of stone, in places, in ideas.....maybe it takes a scientist to prove it in some lab and present a paper on it before the common man comes to accept it.

This road looks happy and healthy. Hope it stays so for long!

An oldman walks silently on one end of the road. He has recently lost his wife. I wonder at his thoughts, his daily life, his perception. Such a situation is a mystery to me and i keep thinking how those people feel. You've spent your entire life with a person, and one day that person is no more. Considering that you are an ordinary person who hasn't delved deep into the mysteries of life and haven't found 'light'---how do you feel?

The uncertainty of life amazes me when i pay attention to certain details. I was speaking to a friend this evening, and I couldn't help noticing the cynicism that had crept into his voice, into his demeanour. He's a young man working in a bank, married, has a small kid, but he spoke as if he were a poor father of 5 grown up girls, without a hope of getting them married off. Listening to him made me feel dejected--his pessimism was infectious. He was different last year.

Sometimes you come across the reverse---hopelessly depressed people discovering the joy of life --I see this in others, in myself sometimes. A close friend I'd conversed with last evening is no more by today afternoon. Long forgotten friends call up one night and chat for an hour, refreshing all your lost memories. Things are stuck up and miraculously there's a smooth flow. And sometimes the opposite....

All these thoughts lead back to what Eckhart tolle says--the inevitability of the Present moment. This is also what Zen says. No tomorrow. Or the past. Only this moment. For me, it's more than these. It's a motivation to go beyond the mundane and experience, explore other realities. To stretch myself beyond what is known and convert my faith into a reality through experience.

The turbulence on the surface is only an invitation to dive deep and capture the unshakeable depths of life. And unless we discover that depth within ourselves, life will continue to be a roller coaster ride of temporary happiness and sorrow.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Home.....Homeland


I'm lazing on my bed in this small room. Archana is sitting on the floor, meditating. The weather is at its best--cool evening breeze blows in and tickles the windchimes. The sounds of the city are fading away at a distance.

I don't know how others feel, but for me, this small room has more comforts and luxury than any five-star hotel room. I'm more at ease and totally relaxed when i'm here. I can go to the best place on this earth, spend my time with the most compassionate person and have the best of experiences this life has to offer, but nothing can parellel the comfort I experience in this room. There's nothing rational in this-- a small room where you've spent enough time and come back day after day to unwind, to meet your loved ones, to contemplate, to sit in silence and do NOTHING....

We love our homes. And we love our homeland too. Places have a life of their own, and however much we deny, we do have an attachment to them which cannot be wished away or lost so easily. This becomes much more evident to me when i hear archana speak about her homeland, Kashmir, from where her family was displaced 2 decades ago. I can feel the passion in her voice, the love she has for a land which no longer welcomes them.

I remember Dilip wrote a wonderful piece on Kashmir, which won the best non-fiction award in the outlook-picador competition. His writing and thought can be an inspiration to anyone with an open mind.

My two year old niece is most attached to my dad---she's more at ease with Dad than she is even with her mom. Today afternoon when she rushed into dad's room, he was fast asleep and probably didn't enjoy this small interruption to his afternoon nap. He shouted at the kid's brother for bringing her into his room.

We tried to take her away from the room but she wouldn't budge. Dad cooled down a bit but by that time the girl was at a corner, sulking silently. It was now dad's turn to placate her and play around with her to bring her back to her bubbly mood.

Kids are more sensitive than most of us would believe to be. When elders shout at or humiliate children, or take them for granted, they might not know that they're trampling on a fresh rose bud. Some of the memories that are still fresh in me are those of severe fear and uncertainty I experienced in my childhood, because of the insensitivity of the elders. These serve as good lessons for us to treat the next generation with more love and respect, and make sure that we don't add any psychological burden on these young hearts.

My niece is so fond of dad that Archana says, she must've been Dad's mother in her previous life. Maybe Yes!

I go to office after the initial bitterness of not receiving a pay hike subsides. It's the same office, same work, same friends and the same mixture of freeness and heavy workload. In between work, i ask myself why i'm spending the best of my years testing some application, some code, for the benefit of some customer. Why?

It's for the money. It's because i've to earn a living and also plan for the future of my family. When money becomes the reason for any work, then a pay hike or the lack of it affects you and your motivation for work. If the work is done out of love, out of your gut feeling-- if you do something because not doing it makes you restless, if you do something because it gives you joy, then that job doesn't sap your energies. Your boss's attitude doesn't worry you. A denial of hike doesn't trouble you and make you think about greener pastures.

How to move from this money driven motivation to a state of finding joy in your work?

Until then, this suits me best.








Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Have to look up...

Ekhart tolle says this today:
'Death is the stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to die before you die and know that there's no such thing called death.'

There's a small puppy outside my door. It's a stray dog and one day when it came to our house, dad fed it with some leftovers. Since then it has stayed in our compound. The kids --my sister's son and daughter play with it, and my little niece can be coaxed to eat food only when the pup's around. It sometimes shits on our terrace and this infuriates mom. She blames dad for feeding it and also the kids for keeping it company. Two days back it got a nice beating for dirtying our terrace.

It's cold outside and the pup's curled up near the door. When i walk in, it shrinks further, anticipating a whack on its back. I whistle once. It opens up and starts jumping around, wriggling its tail in joy.
Somehow i feel good thinking about this pup.

What do you mean by 'Empathy'? The ability to stand in someone's shoes and feel what he feels-- understand him in his perspective!! Two posts ago, i wrote about a friend who fell from grace, and how i felt a wicked joy in some remote corner of my heart. How does someone feel when he slips down? I learn it first hand today.

My entire team gets a hike in salary, except me. My boss calls me and says that i'll not get a hike this time because of some past performance--he praises my recent efforts and promises that if this continues, i'll get a good one next time round, blah blah blah...I feel a pang however much i try to keep myself composed. Those who learn about this express their concern and sympathy and this gets on my nerves all the more. I try not to think of all my hardwork, my extra efforts staying late at nights, working on weekends....

Maybe my friend felt hurt and let down, similar to what i'm feeling now. His situation is different from mine, but the pangs and feeling of worthlessness must be the same. I know that there are a million worthwhile issues in this world, that people are dying everyday of hunger, disease, hatred--- that many people are without jobs, without dignity, without hope. My situation in life is a lot better than that of many people on this earth. In this enormous universe, where billions of galaxies are born and annihilated every moment, what's the big deal about the salary hike of someone living on a small speck called earth?

I wish i could think of all these and stay calm. I wish i could brush all of this aside and stay unaffected. I wish i were a saint--an enlightened person. I know that i'm not all these -- i'm just human.

Feeling a bit depressed. Will be fine soon.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Did you see that.....

I'm on the net, when a friend calls up. 'Come out and look at the eastern sky,' he shouts. ' There's a flying object'.

The object is a faint ball of light that's moving very fast-- hovering around in circles, behind the clouds. We are naturally excited and fascinated. It can't be an aircraft or something man made. Nor could it have been a torch light focussed on the clouds at night. There must have been something that was moving at an extraordinary speed and agility. Because it was behind the clouds, it wasn't visible accurately.

We wait for the clouds to disapper so that we can have a clearer picture of this strange object. After a while the clouds clear up, but now the light isn't there. Meanwhile i call up friends and urge them to locate it in the sky. Some speculate that it could be a torch light, which could only be focussed on clouds and hence wasn't visible now. But i don't think so. Torchlights leave behind a trail from the ground upto the point where they are focussed, that too on an overcast night. There's no such trail here.

Ten minutes on, the sky is overcast again. The object has reappeared behind the veil of clouds.

Today's newspapers report that someone had focussed a powerful beam of searchlight into the clouds. Excellent! I'll drop dead the day our intelligent, rational media accepts something like this for what it is with an open mind and investigates further. Those guys have answers for every damn thing in the universe.

What actually came into picture behind the clouds last night remains a mystery. Like all other mysteries, maybe it's a challenge for our stunted minds to awaken and reach out towards them.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Silence...everywhere.

It's a small park with tall trees shading it all over. A few morning joggers walk around leisurely. At a distance, on another bench an old rag picker is lost in a deep sleep. There's still ten minutes before i can get up from here and rush towards my office.

A friend has had a mighty fall. I know him from the past 20 years and knew that something like this would happen. At one time when i was going through a low phase, he was on a high and i'd wonder how would it feel to be in his place. Now things seem to have turned topsy turvy. I shudder to think what i'd have done or gone through if i were he. Hope he comes out of the bitterness as quickly as possible, corrects his mistakes and makes a new start.

What alarms me all the more is the fact that i'd had actually wished for it, if not emphatically, at least in some remote corner within. As i think of him, a number of lessons become evident. That you can't sleep through life and expect things to be the same. That you have to pay the price of false pride and arrogance. That you can't impress people for too long with your show of bravado. That those around you somehow see through all your masks and give you the respect or lack of it that is due to your real self.

When the green goblin says to spiderman:'People love a hero, but they also love to see him fall', he's speaking for most of us, if not everyone. My friend is no hero, but a small part of me is enjoying his downfall. That troubles me.

I'm in close proximity with nature today.

Early morning, i leave my house 10 minutes earlier, stop at a park on the way and sit under the shade of a few trees, on a stone bench. The cool breeze...I seem to like this place all the more because just a few feet away the traffic rushes past yet this place is so serene and calm. It's like an ideal i've set for myself-- be in the centre of activity yet be centered and peaceful. I do nothing for a while, then pick up a favourite book.

It's mid-day. I've to rush to another place, 10 kms away. The sun's scorching above, the dust and heat off the road is all the more oppressive because you've come out of the comfort of an aircooled room.

Evening--the skies have opened up. The friend on the pillion pleads you to stop somewhere until the rains stop but you just ignore him. The drizzle is steady but soon it becomes a downpour. You are shivering up to your bones but still this is enjoyable. You are reminded of childhood days when you'd walk back home from school in the downpour. Water makes you become crazy again.

Nearing midnight. The rains have just stopped. This weather is so enchanting, i have no words to describe how it is or what it makes me feel like. Many memories rush through, some clear but many unspoken and subtle.

Who doesn't enjoy becoming the agony aunt? I've unwittingly become one on numerous occasions. May be it's a part of a social obligation--you share your woes with others and at times you become the one with whom others empty themselves.

Yet there are occasions when you restrain yourself from offering free advice and unintentionally act patronizing. Maybe you don't know what to say---you know that it's better to shut up. It happened here. Nothing earth shattering but still for the person going through the subtle confusion and despair, it's a mountain to climb.

My best wishes are with Jen........

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

All things on a Saturday evening....

Laughing a lot these days! Sometimes it's silly but we laugh out loud for the most trivial jokes and pranks at home. I was supposed to get a pay hike this month, but it didn't happen. I vented out my dissappointment and helplessness at family members, who naturally cajoled, and even teased me around for being stupid. After sulking for a day or two, when i go to office on monday morning, there's a mail from the boss informing that the hike will be given!

Some of my colleagues were planning to jump ship if the hike wasn't given and were dusting off their cvs and honing up their interview facing skills. Now the poor guys are in a fix. Nobody knows how much will be the hike, and whether it's appropriate to wait until the amount is announced and then take a decision or just start applying now. And nobody knows if the hike will be given at the promised time or will there be another postponement.

Their bewildered faces keeps me laughing and actually smile through the tough assignment at work.

Saturdays are supposed to be a days of relaxation and laziness, as far as i'm concerned. But off late, it's not so. I'm more busy and occupied on Saturdays than on any other day. There will be at least a dozen small tasks which will be waiting for their turn for saturdays. And before I notice, saturday fades away and a new week starts. Sunday vanishes and Monday stares down your face.

There's a concept that Time is not a reality, it's just a fiction of your mind. Don't think it's true---at least now.

For me, time is very real and very very fleeting. It's also the most precious and most wasted commodity given to me. I can have all the resources available to carry out a work but if i have no time or less time.....

When Mystics say that, in higher planes time moves slower and in the highest realm, there's no time, I wonder at the magnitude of this idea. Without time!!! How's it possible?

Read this long piece on Sephia mutiny some time back. Should have linked up much earlier. It's such a moving and powerful piece, all the more significant because the author isn't someone anonymous but a well known face in the blogworld. Remember Nick wrote a similar but gut wrenching episode from his life here. Such personal episodes have that magical quality of reaching your heart directly. These narrations are no doubt dark, but they reinforce the idea of rightness in us more forcefully than anything else. They also remind us that no matter what happens in your life, you can always smile and come through it.

It was somewhere around 1988 that our ex-president, Giani Zail singh passed away. He wasn't shot dead, or blown apart, as it happened to some of our national leaders, but i feel, his was one of the most unfortunate deaths. He was hospitalized for nearly a month and I remember how this was the topic of hot discussion everywhere---when would he die and how many days of holiday would the government declare. What if he died on a sunday--someone quipped? No--it wouldn't happen. Bets? Okay, how much...!!Never was someone's death awaited and wished for by so many people. Ultimately, when he gave up, it was on a Sunday! Still, the government declared a week of national mourning and we had leave for 2 days.

Pramod mahajan's death brings up this incident from memory. Now the government policies have changed and no such holiday is declared, else, many would have wished for a similar thing. His death also brings in a flood of thoughts and paradoxes----That you know much more about a person in death than when he was alive. That life isn't just black and white; there are only grey areas, unlike in movies. A good guy with dirt beneath the surface? An arrogant, streetsmart politician with exceptional organizational, motivational skills? A mass leader, a charismatic personality who couldn't win the hearts and loyalty of the people who matter most--family.

There were some who speculated that Pramod's death was the result of some personal equation he had with his brother's wife. I personally know someone who is of a similar type. What i can't understand is this: How will the people around such a person view him? How will the children relate to their father knowing fully well about this aspect? And how can such a person look into the eyes of his wife and children?

Riots and killings, everywhere--- in gujrat, in kashmir, in far away afghanistan where lunatics behead an innocent man. In other parts of the world, this seems to be an everyday ritual. From a human perspective, these are worrying and terrifying episodes that foretell even hazardous chain of events. We are closer than ever to a mass annihilation. It's amazing how people lose their sense of perspective-dignity and behave like wild animals in extreme situations.

Whenever we come across moments of great churning ( world wars, revolutions, fight for independence, globalisation), a negative element emerges along with the positive and life-supporting one. There will be darkness and destruction, but the dawn is just behind, somewhere beyond the horizon, already arriving. This can be evident at the individual level when, faced with great danger and moments of intense turmoil, we suffer for a while but once we come out, we're different, stronger and wiser. Spiritually i believe and know that we are headed towards an extraordinary future which is beyond our wildest imagination at the moment. But for the rational mind which demands proof for everything before accepting, there's no proof to be given. The mind will know the light when it sees the light. Until then, suffering in darkness is our lot.

Riots also brings to my mind the work of one of the greatest fiction writers india ever produced--Saadat hassan manto. I've read a few of his stories and this one is particularly relevant in these times when people are killing and burning each other in the name of some god forsaken religion.

Fear and love are exact opposites. They don't exist in the same place. What you love, you don't fear. To be fearless, be filled with love.

Who said this?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Out of the woods

( I almost shout---'I'm BACK'. The TV is on in the living room and i hear jennifer lopez drawl--'Who gives a shit!' so i hold back myself).

How could I forget this? When you are stuck up, stop struggling and let go for a while. Things tend to work out on their own. I used to pick up a pen and a piece of paper and scribble out everything that was welling up inside. Bring out what's hidden within and you see it clearly. In a strange way it worked for me. And it's working even now.

The summer heat is oppressive. It saps out all of your energies and you're left empty by the end of the day. Add to this a kind of stagnation and a bit of recurring headache....

I stand in the shower for 10 minutes. The coolness descends from the head to every cell, to every pore...

The power's gone. It's midnight. Archana can't sleep. Her body's changing day by day. At times she feels uneasy, sensitive, nauseated. A new life is growing inside her....as if a new flower is blossoming out....as if a new star is taking birth in the womb of creation....Woman.....Divine mother....Only she can create and give shape to life!

My blog is no longer anonymous. Friends have access to it. I wonder how personal i can get here. Most of what I write is personal stuff--No journalistic pyrotechnics or creative asides. How much of my life can be revealed here?

Archana hasn't told her close friend that she's pregnant. Her friend is from bhopal and one of the thousands affected by the gas leakage from the Union Carbide plant in 1984. Everytime she calls up, she says,' Please pray for me'. Two years back she had been pregnant and was on cloud nine. After 2 months she goes for a check up and the doctor says,'The foetus has no heartbeat'.

Listening to Archana's narration brings a lump in the throat.

Watched 'Syrianna'. Blogchaat has a good review here. One scene remains etched in memory. CIA agent George Clooney is standing before an Arab prince in the middle of a desert...he wants to reveal something, and doesn't know that his bosses are watching him via a satellite. A button is pressed, a missile is released 3 miles away...the Arab prince recognises clooney...a moment later, both are blown up into cinders.

Going through Zen masters by Osho. 'Power of Now' is yet to be finished. So is 'The Magus of Strovolos'.

Purity!! Where do you search for it? Look into the eyes of a baby.

Another day. It's nearing midnight. Soft music weaves around--Sounds of nature, waterfalls, chirping birds. 'Moksha' is a channel on Worldspace where you can listen to spiritual and healing music 24 hours a day. Out of the 40 odd channels we have access to, this is our favorite. As i type this, the humming notes of the piano....soft petals dropping on dew drenched grass...

Fearlessness! What's that? How do you feel when you are fearless? Thinking. Feeling it.