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).