Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Random memories...

In the middle of a cold winter evening, we're sitting in a small room and chatting, when he arrives. It's a close-knit extended family, consisting of uncles, aunts, daughters-in-law, grandchildren.... When he enters, everyone gets up automatically, show him to a warm corner, wait until he settles down and then they all sit. It's a simple and natural response but the gesture is truly heartwarming.

Months later, I suddenly remember this and ask his daughter about it.

'Everyone in the family have a high regard for Dad. It's because he respects others and hardly interferes in their affairs--so they have the same love and respect for him'.

And I don't remember him waiting for this response from others; he never seems to bother what others think of him. Reminds me of one of Hugh mcleods dictums 'The best way to get appreciation is by not wanting it.'

I've had my share of solitude and loneliness. While Solitude enriches, Loneliness kills your spirit. The difference between the two could be subtle at times. You're away from human company in both--in solitude you wish to be away and your focus is turned inwards, you are in communion with your deeper self, either in contemplation or in silence. Not worried about past or future, you're savouring the present moment. The opposite is the case with loneliness. You feel uncomfortable for not being with others, and crave for that association.

Anna's posts on Solitude makes me ponder about the desire we all have-- to enjoy one's aloneness amidst a never ending barrage of human association. And also walking the delicate line of not allowing it to slip into loneliness. Balancing!

A magical morning. A hazy drizzle. Misty air. I want to stay in bed a bit longer but it's already 9 . I send a message to my team lead, tell him that I'm not well and will arrive a bit late. I laze. Drink tea leisurely, play with my son, read randomly, go out and pay a bill or two, drink another tea at a roadside hotel and finally reach office at noon.

Fayaz asks,'How're you, what happened?'

'A minor headache' I blurt out and wonder a bit later if that was a good enough excuse.

The bewildered look on his face will remain in memory for long.

One of my most loved books in childhood was Mahabharata, written by Kamala markandeya. A huge book of 600 odd A4 size pages it was thoroughly entertaining and rich in detail. My love for reading and an interest in mythological tales must've been watered well by repeated readings of that book. So it was a matter of surprise and delight when I stumbled upon a similar but diverse rendition of another Epic--The Ramayana, in a blog. This is a four part review of Ashok Banker's Ramayana. Well worth a deeper look.

He's a small boy--barely an year old. Untouched by the pretense and diplomacy of the elders in the house. When he gets angry he shouts. Fearful and hurt, he wails. Bored, he ignores and goes off. Maybe he laughs silently at the demands made on him by the elders.

'He has crossed one, yet he doesn't walk independently.'

'Not enought if he just blurts Daa-daa. When will he learn to speak?'

His granny brings her face close to his, asking him to plant a kiss on her cheek. He gets irritated and whacks her. Gestures wildly to be left alone.

'Arrogant fellow,' she retorts. 'You don't know about granny. Wait, I'll show....'

Reminds me of similar incidents in my childhood, when I too wanted to whack people, wanting to be left alone. Such small incidents, such tiny gestures have a subtle impact. Like, 'What's so great about his smartness? Even my son used to do these, when he was much younger...'.


We want him to grow up strong, unhurt by these retarded gestures. Allow him to be joyous and playful inspite of a hundred unconscoius impacts on his growing self. Give him an atmosphere of Unconditional love and freedom to explore and learn. Not force him into any mould we think best suits him, not push him into retardness, narrowness, confirmity. Not to put any obstacles in his path to become the person he's meant to be, he wants to be.


'We'll see how you bring him up....'

A strong and nagging thought hits again and again-----everything that's happening at this moment is perfectly fine---no problem at all. It couldn't have happened in any other way. I'm here and at this moment I'm supposed to be here and doing what I'm doing right now(noting down these thoughts--no problem with that). Life is perfect and in a wonderful harmony. There ain't a bloody need to worrry, to fret, to pull out one's hair in exasperation....

If I'm unenlightened as yet, that's fine. If I've to spend the best hours of the day, funnelling all my energy into a job that appears utterly meaningless, that's fine. If I'm far away from my wife, son and family, keeping them company only for a couple of wakeful hours everyday, that's fine too. If there's non-awareness and pain, no problem, it's perfectly acceptable. What's more, not being aware of all these, not having this feeling of 'Fineness' is also okay. Nothing wrong with that!

I know that this thought will not stay forever, and with that, the sense of peace and carefreeness will also recede soon and will be replaced by anxiety or forgetfulness. Even that's fine. Accepted.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Seven deadly sins....

Val tagged me with an interesting meme; To express seven random/strange things about oneself. While I can write a hundred quircky things about myself, these are the seven that pop up, immediately:

* I have a random belief that enlightenment is just around the corner, for everyone. Given that we all have to make efforts to qualify, to positivise, to shift awareness but my gut says, it'll happen, in a click, any moment. Suddenly things will explode and the next thing is that...we're at a different level of consciousness. How this correlates with making efforts to reach enlightenment, I don't know!

* I became a better son after becoming a Dad. Not that I was irreverant earlier but suddenly there was more openness, more communication between me and my parents. And this happened, as if out of nowhere once my son was born.

* Years ago, for a period of seven months, I smoked like crazy. Cigarette dangling from the lips, pen in hand, eyes looking nowhere--this was my ideal of a genius writer. One afternoon I burned nearly 25 cigarettes, one after the other and got so nauseated by the smell that I left it, for good.

* A girl was my classmate for nearly 11 years, right from class 5, all the way to graduation. In these 11 years I changed school/college thrice, and coincidentally, she too joined the same school/college, same class. We both were shy, reserved and probably spoke to one another, only once, in all those years.

* Movies fascinated/still fascinates me, like good fiction. But the influence nearly went over the top, when, in early adolescence, after watching a few action movies repeatedly, I got so hooked up that I decided that I'd become a mafia hitman once I grew up. Joined a gym. Got enrolled in karate classes. Responded to an ad in a local newspaper for a revolver.

* Right from childhood, I've always felt awkward expressing emotions. The only time I forgot this awkwardness and wept aloud in public was when my favorite pup got killed in an accident.

* Death is a fascination on top of being scary. I've veered close to the edge, maybe half a dozen times.

Now I'll extend the invitation to :

Nick, Edu, Jen, Karan & Anna

....and request them to pass the meme to seven of their friends in turn.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Zen .....

From Sunbeams

Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment. This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath.....

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pay attention...

Walking around near the parks in the evening, after a bout of hectic work, I come across a groundnut vendor. He's in his late 40s, maybe. Stands near his push cart and fries peeled groundnuts on a small stove. And once they're fried, he transfers them to a small hotcase, fills up the container on the stove with raw nuts and begins to fry them. I stop, buy nuts for 5 rupees which he packs into a small paper role, and continue my walk.
He stands there, almost all day long, doing the same thing--fry, gather and store, fry, pack, fry... Since months on end. Battle weary face.

Dramas happen almost all the time and it's very rare that I stand away, a bit far away from the dias, to observe how things unfold, how deeply I get stuck in the dung yet never smell anything bad. A guy calls up and chats. Discusses nonsense. I want to shut him up. Tell him to f*** off. Yet I pretend as if I'm amused, as if his blabbering and joking is good humour. Put up a show of modesty, of good behaviour. What'll happen if I speak my mind? Tell him that he's not the hilarious hunk he thinks he is but a pathetic loser.....

'Relax. Don't carry it ahead.' Fine. That's a good payoff---bear and avoid discomfort.

Or it's like I'm too close to others around me. It's rare that I offend anyone, consciously. Seeing them in discomfort creates the same feeling within. Maybe I'm not offensive just to not feel uncomfortable doing that. And if sometimes I'm the cause of that uneasiness in others, it gets all the more troubling. Many times I've gone out of the way to make the other person feel relaxed, make him less apprehensive, less fearful, more at ease. And invariably the strain occurs.

When I see this 'treat others like shit' action in others, it's amusing. I want to do that. Blast someone, not worrying about anything. Of course, do it justifiably and not in a sadistic way. Do it without feeling a bit of strain, without getting hurt within. Have that basic detachment first.

Midnight! Well...an hour or two past midnight. I'm supposed to be sleeping yet I sit here, scribbling, made aware of the cold wind that creeps through the open window(the damn thing can't be closed--the cable wire runs through it). The gale is furious one moment, violently shaking the coconut branches. And then it falls silent for some time. I wait for it to howl again. How's it supposed to behave? Who sets the rules? And whose rule is it that I should be sleeping at this unearthly hour and not sitting huddled in a blanket, scribbling unbridled thoughts in the dim-light streaming from the nightlamp?

A few minutes ago I read The lazy man's guide to Enlightenment--of course, the first chapter. And one concept stands out--that this physical reality is a game we've chosen to play at this moment in time. And that it's a joyful play. Mmm....This pricks. It may take sometime to remove this thorn or to come to terms with it. Until then, it bleeds.

A mild uneasiness. It grows, starts gnawing at my being(how's your meditation....nill.....and no guilt...Mmm?). And then, a sudden burst of realization. A feeling of calm descends on you when you suddenly know everything, when you realize the truth, when all the loose ends are tied up conveniently, when everything is just in your grasp--you only have to open your fist and have a look. That's it.

But you don't have it yet. No. You realize when the chaos returns, almost immediately.

One such moment of clarity comes when a thought arises--that I'm living through several dramas, all at once, participating in all of them, and all these occur within the boundaries of a bigger drama--Life. Such innumerable big dramas before and more of them coming my way but I'm aware of only the current one. And yes, all the shorter sub-dramas within this....!

The family drama(or dramas). The one with friends. The drama of self-realization(or the attempt of it). The drama of writing. Of blogging( a mini world in itself). The drama of career and its growth. Innumerable plots swirling in the head all the time--in the form of thoughts and day dreams. The drama of being a part of the society. Of being a husband. A son. A father. A wage-slave. A friend. A layman. A writer. A disciple. And the drama of self--what I think I am.

What happens when all of these collapse? What if there's no such drama, no stage, no part, no story, nothing? You aren't fragmented into different roles, enacting numerous episodes, getting bewildered and lost every moment, searching for meaning and sinking deeper with every struggle....suddenly you want to just watch things as they are. You want to stop everything and just sit back. Observe. Breathe deep.

Words. Not the reality. Not the actual experience. Just concepts floating here and there. Not the real hunger but the fantasy of not eating. Real hunger sinks in deep and wakes you up. Fantasies don't.

Waiting for the hunger.

Occasional jolts remind me of the temporariness of everything, the fragility of everything. A colleague who worked in product development, with whom we had bitter sweet fights and reconciliations(workwise) for over two years comes up and shakes my hand. 'Got a job in Hyderabad. This week's my last here. You're invited for lunch tomorrow at.....'

Tejas is one year old. Now getting up, walking, learning syllables, shaking hands, responding in his own way, learning mischief, catching our jokes and reacting, guffawing out aloud, wailing and asking to be given attention. The soft, cuddly, cute infant, he ain't anymore. Up on his feet and stumbling toddler. When he was in my arms I thought it would be permanent. Or, never thought he'd leave the warmth of my lap and jump out....

What's wrong with temporariness? With the fragility? If temporary, so be it. If not strong, if not permanent, if fleeting and gone in moments, so be it.