Thursday, May 29, 2008

My world

'What's your motivation?'

The question arrives as I stare out at the darkness all around. Fresh darkness.

Amidst endless channel hopping, I stop breifly at Sanskar. Swami sukhabodananda is lecturing on living a stress-free life. Continous flow of words, expressions, stories, gesticulations.....of all the modern day swamis, gurus and teachers I personally find him to be the most irritating. The moment I see him on Tv or hear his voice on Moksha, I revolt....'but what has he done to you?' she protests amidst admonishes of not to utter expletives in front of the kid and I have no answer. I just can't stand him, that's it. Watching his theatricals, a question springs up, as if out of nowhere.....what motivates him to sit in front of an audience(and a bigger audience through television) and blabber on and on about stress, breathing, prana, mind, watchfulness.....! What on heavens motivates this person to clown around? From where does the inspiration arrive? Why do people do what they do?

A phone call. It's a far-off relative. He informs that one of my distant uncles passed away in Mumbai. I don't know how to react....I don't know this uncle, I haven't seen him at all. 'Is it....? Oh...' I stammer. Keep the phone. Inform Dad about it. Ponder a bit.

People depart just like that. A middle aged lady whom we used to meet in our weekly meditation classes, who used to be a bit of a bother with her quirks---she's run over by a truck and....It's bloody shocking. I drive to my office, covering nearly 25 kms a day, and hardly a day goes by without me approaching the 'edge' at least a couple of times. Vehicles whizz past and they have no eyes, no feelings, no sense of life or death. You're always on the edge and you never know when the balance tips. Cynical! And we always thought this drama would never end, would go on and on and on.....

The death toll in the Chinese earthquake is staggering. A Couple have lost their only son when his school building collapsed. The relief worker is holding the lifeless body, and the parents are putting on new clothes on the body of their child before sending him.....the anguish, the pain on their wailing brings a lump in the throat.

There's a cricket player on TV-- he's a batsmen for the Chennai team. I remember this bloke because I played with him once, long back, maybe 6 years ago. That was the period when all of a sudden I decided that my future would be in International cricket. I purchased a brand new cricket gear and joined a cricket club, at the ripe age of 25, when most players would be peaking at the highest level and beginning to wither away. Of course, the madness lasted for an year, but before that, there was a match against a team from chennai and this guy played for that team. A few years younger to me, his name was peculiar; Vidyuth. Meaning 'Electricity'. Who on earth would name their kid as Electricity? Why not Hydro electricity? Or nuclear power? Anyway this kid smashed us to all corners of the field in that match and that was it. Six years later, one day you switch on the TV what do you see but this guy playing in the Indian Premier League, smashing bowlers of international repute out of the stadium... and you can't help but admire the persistence, the tenacity this guy has, the passion that sustained him so long when everyone else who played that game six years ago are no where in sight, cricket wise.

We quarrel. My son gets irritated and shouts. As if he senses the ugly vibrations.

We stop at an evening restauarant and order two milkshakes. Overcrowded. A Sunday evening relaxed atmosphere pervades everywhere. A bunch of youngsters eat noisily. A shy couple at a distance. Another couple with an one year old kid. The chubby kid picks up the menu card and begins to play, much to the amusement of a lady in the next seat. She gestures and the kid smiles. The father plucks the menu card, gestures a hit at the baby and pulls him over to his lap. A young waiter watches the crowd, searching for any table that needs cleaning. The couple get up and the waiter walks over with his tub, cleans the table, removes all leftovers and goes back to his place. Stands there and watches again. Tired eyes.

A kid next door. His mom slaps him and he wails, 'What did I do.....Pappa come fast, Mom is beating me....!'

A new team leader arrives at Work. He's short statured, a bit low on the technical front but looks good in people management. A bit hesitant, trying to win the loyalty of a new team, balancing between bossing and understanding, getting bewildered by the aggressiveness of the senior management, pretending not to be listening when we make fun of his predicament...

A chunck of unstructured time arrives. Archana and Tejas are away at Nagpur visiting her sisters'. I take a week off and stay at home. Suddenly there's an abundance of the most scarce commodity in my world---Free time! Empty room. All the time in the world to give life to my dreams, to plan, to do, to stare at new horizons....and what I do is just while away my time in laziness, mindless reading and daydreaming. At the end of the week I sit up and ask, 'What happened?' No answers. And No judgements too. It's okay to laze, to stay relaxed, to let go and do NOTHING!

Suddenly I tell Mom. 'We'll be leaving in another 2 years.' She is worried.

Petrol prices are about to go up exhorbitantly. There's a suggestion that fuel could be rationed. Then? 'Can you ride to your office on a bicycle?' I imagine it for a minute. Not improbable. 'But what office are you talking about? What if the IT industry collapses?' ... What if fuel prices go so high that very few can afford it? What if oil reserves become empty? Will we go back to horse carriages, bullock carts?........ The first signs of days to come!

'When the human order collapses, a divine order will replace it immediately. We'll never be left alone.'

In this I trust. We will wake up to that tomorrow. You and Me. All of us.

Early morning. I channel the light. Just before hitting the bed at midnight, I channel it again. 'This light is God. It will transform this world. Spread this message everywhere, through websites, emails, blogs....Tell your friends. When a large number of people take up a simple act, it gains enormous strength and builds up a revolution...Do it. Tell others....'

Yes, I will.....

Friday, May 02, 2008

No Reflections, No lessons....

We lived in a rented house for nearly 7 years before moving to our own house. The construction activity lasted nearly an year, during which Dad juggled between his office and monitoring the construction work-- a herculean task, given that he had to do it alone. I was about 10 then and was all excited about moving to a new house. What I never reckoned was that I'd be leaving behind a host of friends and playmates whom I'd known closely all along, moving away from an environment which was very familiar and intimate since my childhood.

Venu was one of those friends, studying a class above mine, who belonged to an austere, pious family, which was very particular about tradition, values and orthodoxy. We'd spent countless afternoons and evenings, creating and inhabiting an astonishing world where we lived multiple roles. We were the fishermen, bus drivers-conductors, police-thieves, cooks-waiters, movie heroes-villains, and much, much more. He was my best friend. He was thin and dark complexioned, but over the one year period during which our house got constructed, he grew to become plump and fair skinned. Kinda chubby. When I asked Mom, she said,'He has brain tumour.' I didn't ask what it meant.

He left school and stayed at home, invoking terrible jealousy in me because school was nothing short of hell for me. He'd borrow my comic books/story books and read them all day long. 'Lucky fellow,' I reflected while dragging myself through the never ending chore of books, study, homework and exams. One night, his parents put a cot outside the house in the garden, and made him sleep there. 'Why?' and Dad said,'Some custom.' Later they moved him back.

We shifted our house in the early hours of a Sunday morning. We woke up early, got dressed and hauled all the furniture and other belongings onto a tempo. Venu's parents had once again made him sleep on the cot, outside the house. They were standing outside and waving us goodbye from a distance.
As the tempo started, Dad said, 'Venu passed away last night'. Those words hardly got registered amidst all the excitement and trepidation of leaving behind an old world and entering a new one.

Transitions are easy, even desirable, when you're a kid, but somewhere on the way to adulthood you lose the flexibility. You tend to become rigid, unmoveable, brittle.. The very thought of change brings uneasiness.

Maybe 10 years back. I was journeying from Mumbai to Bangalore on a second class train compartment. A man in his late 40s opposite me was reading 'My days', by R.K.Narayan. After resisting for a while I broke through my reticence and borrowed the book. He was a seniour executive in an investment firm, carried a guitar, smoked endlessly, and soon I got familiar enough with him to borrow a couple of cigarrettes from his pack and begin puffing. Another guy joined us--a young man my age, an autorickshaw driver from bangalore. We made an interesting trio--A seemingly refined gentleman, sophisticated and successful; a rustic struggling to make ends meet, but jovial and carefree; a young student, bumbling and unsure. We chatted like close friends, shared cigarettes and fruits, joked silly and filled up the compartment with spiralling smoke----looks like an improbable scene from a stupid movie.

What keeps this incident fresh in memory is the dirty looks I received from a couple in the same compartment. Especially the girl, who had a horror stricken expression, who constantly glared at me for having picked up bad habits at such an innocent(?) age, for having the audacity to smoke in public . Not the elderly man, not the autodriver but me! They could do it but not someone my age, someone with my appearance and from my background. It was as if I was murdering someone right there; what might have caused them serious greivance was the fact that I gave no shit, totally ignored their concern and continued to burn the endless hours into ashes.

A slight apprehension about 2012, when our earth enters the photon belt on the 21st of December. What could possibly happen? Will we survive? Or will the man made systems survive? When I think about my savings and future plans, I tend to keep this date in mind. Will civilization collapse? Or, as a few survivalists argue, is the system already crashing? Are we in the crash, right now?

'I want to become enlightened, before any such thing happens.....' he said. 'I don't want to exist in that turmoil, the way I am right now.'

'So what's the plan? How do you get enlightened....?'