Sunday, 23 December 2012

A crying shame

As we approach the end of another year and look for reasons to celebrate new beginnings, the horror of the past week is relayed to us with each passing minute. A young girl struggles for her life while the perpetrators of a heinous crime ask to be hanged with false bravado. This is only one incident, horrific and shameful, there are such happening everyday in every village town and city. Acid attacks, rapes, molestations, crimes against women are on the rise. There are those which are committed against young boys, perhaps the percentage is less, the figures are not important. What is important is that we as a society are slowly but surely slipping into an abyss of moral degradation.

Why are children not safe with "uncles" who look after them? Why are they sodomized so that it leaves a permanent scar on their psyche? We have to look at the reasons for these and other crimes like female foeticide, female infanticide to see what then leads to other crimes. We live in a society which is considered religious spiritual and perhaps because of these, moral..... but the very sorry fact is that those same men who pray to Goddesses and worship them with reverence do not care a whit while doing dastardly acts. Where have we gone wrong? We live in a male dominated society, with women even now covering their faces amidst their male counterparts. In an age when there is progressive thought all around, the unfortunate fact is that this has not seeped down to the smaller towns and villages where even the male is considered the more powerful and the female counterpart is kept under severe restrictions. Without going into specifics, there are pockets where a female child is most unwelcome,and instantly killed at birth... and these are the ones which are brought to light, the norm is that the the birth of a female child is not welcome. She is considered a burden while the male child is considered auspicious because he will carry forward the family name, be the one who will perform the last rites, considered so sacred to the 'Hindu'. Are we governed by our religious leanings and traditional way of thinking so much so that we cannot even consider gender equality and respect for each and every individual and break through this mire of  dead thought? Why have we fallen so such abysmal depths where we cannot see that a country can only reach its optimal progress when each and every individual regardless of gender is given equal opportunity. Why is there even now so much backwardness in remote areas ? Why, in small towns even to this day are women considered safer when they are at home. Why do we have this very 'protective' attitude toward the 'weaker sex' ? Look at yourselves, are you protecting the women of your families from others or from your own selves? Around you in cities where women are considered more emancipated , however much that may be, there will always be a male who will dominate. Is it about the male ego and the power which he wields over the female? Are we giving wrong signals to our children at home, in schools where we nurture them?  Why is the female population less in percent to males? Are we teaching our coming generations to become beasts or can we instil in them the humanity which is so sorely needed?

What of police action in the last two days? Does a peaceful protest require brutality? Where did the lumpen elements come from .. and this is not a question which needs much thought... there is political backing ...people are sent to break any kind of uprising and then there are those who want maximum mileage out of the anger which is seething within the general public and this is not for any one stray incident... it has been brewing for long, it is now making itself felt and is shouting in the many voices of young India for justice. Justice not only for women but in the larger sense justice towards each and every issue which plagues our society.

Let us just consider a small issue of making a complaint to the police, filing an FIR, it is not easy, most of the time it is not done at once, in many cases specially in remote areas where there are crimes the police does not even care to listen to the victims as they as there is connivance between them and the powers that be in that area. How can justice be meted out to the normal law abiding citizen when those that are considered to be protectors of law and order do not abide by the very law they protect.?

Then comes this whole social issue of how a woman is tainted when a crime is perpetrated on her. When we consider the female to be the weaker , in need of protection  and societal pressures make it difficult for a woman to even come out and speak up for herself. What kind of society is this which allows for the victim to hide and the criminal to roam free with his head held high?  Where are we heading in this endless race for power in this deep unending pit of corrupt practices. Is this the result we get from the many years of fighting for freedom? A country can only be free when its people are free to express with rational thought, where reasonable and quick action is taken , where criminals are not protected by the powerful who are as corrupt as them, where values taught in childhood remain until the end and do not get caught up in the quagmire of  a system which decries honesty.

Until then we will cry ourselves hoarse when the next big issue comes up, and we will never ever be able to come out of the rut of our old ways and move towards a a really democratic society.

While the young girl ' Nirbhaya ' struggles for her life ... there is another crime happening elsewhere. How many more 'Nirbhaya's' are we going to create. We have to create a climate which is abhaya, a fearless society where there is mutual respect where one can walk with head held high with pride. I do not see this happening so soon but the seeds have been sown ...... it takes time for a tree to grow and bear fruit. I am waiting for the sprouts to show themselves so that I can be assured that with proper nurture the tree will grow strong.



Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Dialogue with myself

I go to sleep exhausted and wake up tired, its been happening for months now, today I decided to actually think about the reason, to sit down and take a long hard look at myself.

I have been going through my daily routine like an automaton, whether it is work or duties at home or watching a film or play..... I do not have any enthusiasm for anything. I have a sense of disconnect with everything around me. The world moves and I move in step with it, but my pace is slower. I find people around me fired with passion and I envy them. I have no real goal which I want to achieve, no mountain to climb, no song to sing. My life has had as much happiness or sadness as the other person, with a little variation in degree.

Since I was very young I used to do self analysis, which some have said is not the best thing to do. It helped me to understand myself better and while this was happening I found myself understanding others better, so if anyone chose to throw a barb at me I would look at him or her and try to reason why it was thrown. The barbs and the arrows flung at me always hurt but never very deeply and in time I learned to let them not hurt at all. I once tried to see whether they could be deflected without touching me, but then I would have lost the pleasure of feeling anything at all. Ah !!! Feeling!! Feelings of pleasure, of love, of joy and sorrow... I have had all those but somehow those feelings have not ever had passion. It was not always like this. When I started out with my working life or even before that in college or school there was a certain will to live and succeed. I seem to have lost it , this will to live so I continue to do what I do without any real feeling of happiness or sadness. I just continue to exist in a world among a millions of others and do not really know what I am doing here. Why can't I like so many others feel happiness deep down inside of me? Just the other day for example, when I was at a wedding of a relative, looking around I found people so alive, and I felt a certain lack in me. I was all dressed up like the others for the occasions but a sense of weariness was all I felt. It was as if I had wrapped myself in the trappings of socially acceptable behavior, all I could feel was a sense of complete detachment from it all.

I had been asked to take 'sanyas' two decades ago, but at that time I had not agreed , my thought was for my parents, I thought that I could be a support if I was around them. Perhaps I was wrong, for life continues with or without another, they would have had each other for support. Looking back always gives you a better perspective, if I had made a different decision then, perhaps this sense of disconnect with what is around me would not have been.

I wonder if given the opportunity, if I could ever love with abandon , work with unbridled enthusiasm, laugh with glee or dive into the depths of sorrow. I have felt all those, but where I am now I seem to have left it all behind and stand alone among crowds seeking a meaning for my very existence as it were.

I do not know why I am here, nor where I am going. I feel as if I am slowly giving up, I wish I could leave this mortal body, but not every wish can attain fruition, I will continue to live until then, with a show of enthusiasm for the world around me, much like the finery one wears for some occasion.

I look for answers but cannot find any.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Stanley Road Chronicles

It is an imposing structure for a home, but to me it was a place full of warmth love and laughter even in the bitter December cold.

I was introduced to its grandeur when I was nine months old, it had always been Mom's 'maika' and it was there that she went when Dad had to go on a foreign tour. There are some photos of my much older cousins looking at a baby, taken to keep my father updated of my well being. Those are photographs of other people's memories. My earliest ones are of reaching Allahabad station by train, to be received by a waiting crowd of cousins all older, and my masi who used to come there for the vacations from Benaras during her school break. A short drive and we were there, at the Gothic entrance, running into the cool haven of the high roofed house. Book shelves line one wall and on the other side was a grand carpeted staircase which led up to the room we stayed in. It was the room where my grandfather liked to stay ... with a study one one side, and a dressing room and huge bathing area on the other. The balcony attached to the room looked on to the lawns which were at two levels. The easy chairs must have been the ones in which he relaxed on a quiet evening.

Chameli would come running to meet my mother, she had looked after Mom after both her parents died, attended to all her personal needs when the young child girl needed tending  and care. Chameli was always happy to see the children of the one she had tended to with so much care and we were happiest to run to her quarters in the servants quarters and play with the children there, there were many... those of the driver, the cook , the games and simple, hopscotch and seven tiles were favorites.

There is an 'imli' tree which is right in the center of the huge courtyard where we used to spend hours throwing stones to enjoy the sour fruit. Just outside the huge drawing room is a smaller garden, where my cousins used to fly their kites... I wanted to be part of the exercise, and was handed over the spool much to my disappointment. After badgering them to let me fly a kite, I was finally given one which was one tenth the size of the normal one, much to my dismay.

Summer nights in small towns in those days were always spent sleeping outdoors....the charpais were laid out in a long row with the mosquito nets and after dinner and play we would retire there, the elders would come much later. Night sounds would be all around us.. the "siyaars" who we were told took away small children if they did not sleep early. One night I found that this true at all, although they came quite close and I had my eyes tightly shut with fear.

Meals were an event in Stanley Road .... a table for twelve could at times be too small for the number of people dining there. There would be ten at the minimum and the number would increase to fourteen or more when more cousins or aunts and uncles came there. But let me start with the breakfast first. There is a takhat  in the passage which goes around the bedrooms the steps of which lead to the courtyard. As children we sat on the takhat and ate our breakfast ... the kitchen was a good 100 meters away at least , shouts of 'Khansama.... toast le aao"  Khansama... fried egg banao".. my older cousins at their gracious best. The toasts would arrive crisp but cold having traipsed the distance from the western kitchen. I have since then always loved cold toasts!! I don't really remember any elder sitting there with us, perhaps they were in the dining room and possibly that was the reason for the temperature of the toasts.

The evenings would spent be in the "Gol kamra" or the round room, where uncles and aunts would sit together on another takhat  playing cards. A white cloth was spread to mark the start of the proceedings. We would watch with great enamor, each child attaching himself or herself to one as a lucky mascot. The mock anger and the shouts were amusing and great fun to witness. The game of cards was only abandoned when dinner was served and sometimes when the game was continued well after that. Most of the time though, everyone would sit and chat and then retire to the many rooms.

One thing which always bothered me as a child was the number of doors which led outside, each bedroom had a door, the bathrooms had a doors, the main entrance, the dining room, the entrance to the drawing room, there must have been someone to make sure all the doors were secure before leaving for the night and handing over the keys to the last man out, but I don't remember this very clearly, children normally are not concerned with the technicalities of how household are run.

My birthday used to fall in the winter vacations I remember a table placed in the upper garden laden with goodies in the evening. The party in the evening was for the other celebration but we used to watch from the "gol kamra" and wait for the wonderful dinner afterwards. What a feast it was, with the best of western and Indian food on the table, both kitchens must have been overactive since morning for this generous well laid meal.

The summer vacations were the longer ones, we would run to the "amrood ki bagiya" to buy the fruit for 5 naya paisa or was it 2? The shaded glade was like heaven in the heat of the afternoon. The dining room had a corner which had two pails filled with water in which mangoes were kept to cool, and while running around paying tag many a mango would disappear in the blink of an eye.Some of the games involved hiding and we would go upstairs and climb a rather small wall to reach the tiled roof used to be almost an adventure to climb up to the sloping tiled roof and balance oneself while pretending nonchalance.

The only restaurant was "Kwality" then and we would go there for a meal or an ice cream,all bundled into one car, the taste of the 'softies' still lingers.

There are so many memories attached to this almost home, a place which will remain dear to me for all the happy memories which make up my childhood. It is not really possible to put them all down,perhaps another chronicle will do the job.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Random thoughts.

The term existence has been on my mind since I last wrote about it. I do not know the answer to the question of why I am. Some of those I spoke to said that we are here to be be joyful, others were of the opinion that we are here for strengthening of ties be they familial or of friendship all which are loving and caring. The wiser ones have said we are here to spread love.In the last century, the decade of the'60's was the one where the flower children were selling the idea of  "Peace"  " Spread love not war" . The familiar peace symbol was a rage even in the '70's. These concepts became jaded as later in the '80's we saw a cataclysmic change in all manner of things. Peace and love gave way to commerce and competition, but that is not what is really on my mind now. So while love was spread thinly over two decades, a new breed of youth were emerging, who were very cool with love and peace and what have you but lets get on with our bread and butter shall we? The invigorating atmosphere of commerce and the lets get it done attitude was what made the cash registers roll and the freedom of living worth the hours of work put in to enjoy it. Freedom is a very easily used word, freedom from penury, from spouse, from stress can have all kinds of it. The thought that comes up here is that are we really free? We live our lives, for most it is a monotonous daily task of earning and then we want to be free for a few short days to enjoy the fruits of the labor. We are forever moving in concentric circles to be free from the circle we deliberately moved into. It gives meaning to our lives, this unending movement, this wanting to do something, be somebody, be the best perhaps in whatever we do. Most of the what we read today talks about excellence ... to excel in whatever one is doing. If everyone excelled would there be enough room at the top?Why can't we accept those that may not as somebodies too? We all want recognition to be that somebody, but aren't we already somebody ? If we do not get recognition do we cease to embody what we are already? And what are we really? All made up of flesh and bone brawn with a bit of brain thrown in? An efficient machine which runs with the help of the little brain. Our physicality is the similar to the other, give or take a foot and some inches.Inside us, we function in a similar way directed by the little grey. Similar physically but different because of the impressions that are left on the very same grey matter. Is our existence then what is impressed on to us, is it only the reaching of the heights of excellence, is it our wanting to be somebody which becomes the sole reason for which we really live? Or is it that which the greats have said... love peace and the spreading of joy the reaching of bliss. Are we born for achieving our goals (setting one's goals has gained prime importance, as has the interest in football ), and once we achieve them to aim for higher ones,to leave a mark for posterity to be remembered for the next few generations? Do we exist just for this?Is there anything higher than our own self gratifying needs, for whatever we do is for self gratification. Work, good deeds, prayers, happiness with friends,love for family ...even negatives like violence, corruption, all add up to the gratification of the self within us, the self within us which is untouched by what we do for its satisfaction.

I was told that we come into this world to realize the supreme truth. All that we do leads us towards this , our work, our pleasures our joys and sorrows, our relationships our searches and researches. In all of this  we are seeking that truth, that indelible supreme truth of realization.We search for galaxies, go to the moon, build houses on the earth, till the land...  all to find that which is the reason for which we are born. Some meditate to reach this, others do hard labor, very few find. We do what we do so that we can get something from what we do. With due respect to all those who meditate for bliss and joy,who sing joyously the songs of God, who pay devoutly to the Supreme, are we not doing everything for some gain?

Inside me there is a hollow, an emptiness which neither my breath nor my thoughts can touch... is this what I search for? The empty shell of my body covers it, the world weaves a web so sweet that it all but encompasses it, the emptiness remains, I embrace the hollow within.


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Almost Silence

The silence of the night is upon me once again, an occasional honking on the road below me breaks the cocoon of the almost peace around me,an almost silence,an almost stillness. It will be much later that the still night will once again be calm and quiet the noise almost non existent in a city which never sleeps. Only the tapping of the keys and the sound of thoughts will break the stillness.

Just a few hours sitting in the midst of commerce I was surrounded by the noise of blatant activity. Movement of all kind, an expending of energy quite like in any normal day. I sat at my table and watched the dance of activity. The eyes looking outward could perceive the intensity of this energetic activity. Sounds which made up the day.... so varied but so similar in substance. People going about their daily chores, shops opening up to a new day, students on the way to school, screeching of brakes of an enthusiastic biker, haggling over the price of vegetables, the hum of the elevator. All of it part of an energy which is without and within, an energy which allows us to be a part of what is but which keeps us apart from what is. We are that which surrounds us all hurtling toward some unseen unknown goal, almost like the planets revolving around the sun, we revolve with our energies around our own limited suns, most of which are what we perceive to be our goals for a better existence. What is existence really? Is it just life which we live everyday with our emotional needs our physical wants our searches for perfection our spiritual leanings or is there something else? Why are we born , why do we give birth, why does this never ending cycle of birth/ death continue. What do we seek and why in that search for our center do we look around us sometimes with happiness and at other times with pain. Do we need to look within us more to find that we search for without?

I hear the cacophony , the noise we build up almost to counter the silence which is in us, almost as if we are afraid of facing it. We are social beings and so must interact , we must have music,literature, science commerce, at our disposal to make us whole and rounded beings . We must have the warmth of relationships the comfort of a home, the satisfaction of self sufficiency the happiness of nurturing. We need all these to assure ourselves,almost as if without these we would be inadequate, would we really ?

I search for a meaning for this existence, the more I search, the more silent I become, noise seems inconsequential , the almost silence becomes a haven.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Silence/ Words...

There comes a time when one has to put one foot down and acknowledge to oneself that enough is enough, to oneself and to those who have to be told that the last straw on the camel's back has broken and it is time they heard what is needed to be said.
Perhaps the better way is immediacy of action on the perpetrates of the act so that the matter rests and is not carried forward until emotions reach a point that there is no better way than to have your say.

Silence has many advantages, it is considered golden and if one reflects on this shining aspect of this quality one cannot doubt the veracity of the glow. In the midst of noise, silence is a haven. Often when many are together and there is loud talk and louder laughter, I have tended to withdraw or switch off my hearing capability so that what is around becomes useless sound, useless not to those that make it but to me most definitely. There is a space in everyone where which is quiet much like the calm waters of a lake in a turbulent river. Many see this, just as many swim in the turbulence and enjoy the challenge. Neither is good or bad , the lake or the flowing river, but if the turbulence is constant and unceasing it may be detrimental.

I had been told once by a certain 'Guru' that the first step towards spirituality is control of the tongue. Having been quiet most the time, it did not take me long to understand the meaning of what was being told to me. I have listened more than heard, seen more than looked, reasoned at people's behavior and understood that we react to certain things without thinking, almost with the instinct of an animal. We behave in a certain way because our past (however much we claim to live in the moment) interactions make us what we are today. There are those I have come across who are envious without any reason to be so and try to play the game of one- up-manship.They have their reasons,and if seen in the perspective of their history, they are perhaps legitimate in their envy. I leave them to it.

Yesterday was one of the days when I went against what was told to me and lost control of the little muscle in my mouth.I said what needed to be said and said it with force, I had been quiet for too long and heard what the other had to say for many years. How long can one take injustice meted out to oneself? There comes a time when the dam bursts and one can say what one has to with conviction. I had come to that point and had said my say. I realized much later that it must have hurt the person who was at the receiving end of my outburst, but I reasoned to myself that I had borne injustice for too long. Failed again... for I reacted with emotionality to the barbs and little arrows which had been aimed at me. They had never really hit me I has always believed but unknown to me they had left tiny wounds, the scars of which had healed, but it was the final little arrow which reopened the wound and made me react to what I was hearing. I was wrong ... I put myself in front of me and reacted to the barb which was aimed at me. My self importance overrode my self and in that moment I remembered why one needs to control one's tongue.Silence will always be golden.... what one considers to be injustice to oneself becomes of different aspect when weighed with silent consideration.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Free Bird!

I am the one that got away!!

Once, as children when we were being driven by Papa I announced to the world that I would have twelve children when I grew up. There was much tittering from the front seat. I have always loved little children but that is not the only reason one decides to get married. Love,companionship and giving a finality to a relationship which two people share play a role too. In a country where arranged marriages are the norm it is very natural to assume that ones parents will choose the right partner. As a child and later in my teens and a young adult I attended many weddings which happened very regularly in my rather large family. All manner of cousins seemed to be getting married at yearly intervals, these were some of the best moments of my life, when about two dozen cousins along with aunts and uncles would stay under one roof in the "shaadikhana" and there would be much revelry and fun,for five or six days until the ceremonies were finally over.

Unlike my cousins I did not tie the knot. I had decided very early that I wanted to work. There were two of my aunts who were 'spinsters' although I have never seen them spin a tale leave alone a yarn. They were both teachers but unlike them I did not want to teach although at the time when I graduated teaching was considered the best profession for young girls. I started working soon enough and thoroughly enjoyed it.In the meanwhile my cousins continued to join themselves in wedlock. It became apparent quite soon that I would not follow suit. It did not bother me at all, on the other hand I quite enjoyed my freedom. There were the odd moments when I missed having a hand to hold, when I saw young lovers or a married couple talking softly to each other or a happy family on an outing, but they were fleeting and I did not give them too much importance.As time went by I enjoyed the time I spent with my young nieces and nephews, they filled the void of having children, without the trouble of taking care of them constantly.

My parents were happy to have me around the house, in fact Mom once said that I was a moral support to them in their old age.I started hearing stories of unhappy marriages, many were happy but in just as many there was dissatisfaction, divorce was on the rise and many of my friends had been through this trauma. When I heard of these incidents I silently thanked God for my 'singledom'.

I have been alone now for almost ten years now and there have been times when I have despaired because it has been too much to handle. Most things are multidimensional, if there is a negative there has to be some positive too.I love my freedom to be able to do whatever I want, I can up and leave for a holiday, cook if I want to or order out when I don't, go out with friends whenever they call, in Mumbai terms I would be called 'vela'. There are times when one has to deal single-handed with the carpenter, plumber, electrician, painting of the house, but I feel it has made me stronger, maybe it was latent in me, this talent of dealing with them. I can do what I want to without asking anyone, but sometimes when I have only myself to rely on I have made some decisions which have not worked in my favor I have felt that if I had someone to rely on it may have been wonderful.

Some years ago I was told by several soothsayers that at a certain age someone older would come into my like and it would be a start of a beautiful lifelong relationship.I was also told that this was the trend which was showing in my 'stars' but that I would have to wish for it too(they have to play safe). That particular time went by... its almost four years now... no Prince Charming came riding out from the horizon and if I have to be very frank perhaps I would not want it now, however romantic the idea sounds.I am quite content with what life has given me, each one gets their share of joy and sorrow. I am okay with the fact that there has been no one around when I am burning with fever and happy that that I have been able to face those moments stoically. People around me have been very kind, I have all the space I need, my life is good, my relatives and friends are there when I need them perhaps more than I can be for them. There are times however, when it all becomes too much, when there is so much to do that despair takes over and there is physical and mental exhaustion,and those are the times I wish that I had actually wished for PC,he will not come of that I am sure. So I continue to make the best of what I have, with more time for fun and less for recrimination.

A long time ago someone told me to get married because he had seen women who became bitter with what had been meted out to them. At that instant I decided that whatever the circumstances, I would not let travel that path, and by the grace of God and the benevolence of my Guru, the journey thus far has been varied with happy colors, the few clouds I have encountered have been blown away with the winds of hope and the love I have received from people around me. The sun has shone through the darkest of nights.

I have no regrets with my life, alone and splendid, but at the same time I tell my nieces never to follow in my footsteps. A family translates into warmth and caring,sharing ones thoughts.....

Monday, 27 August 2012


Last night we were all twittering away friends from across the globe, when I decided it was time to retire. One of them for whom it must have been early evening said goodnight and with a promise to meet again tomorrow. In levity I told her that we would definitely meet provided I was alive until then. Said jokingly but taken very seriously by a few people.. the instant response was "SHUBH SHUBH BOLO" of auspicious things. The talk of death or dying instantly elicits this response. I have heard it time and time again and have been quite bemused by this statement....being a person who constantly questions and tries to find reasonable explanations for any belief I encounter, I have come to some conclusions that may not be to all but seem utterly reasonable to me. What I have seen and come to believe is that we are so conditioned by our beliefs which are learned as we grow, that we do not ever stop to think if they are right or not, we just continue to believe. Superstitions, behavior patterns thought processes are all the conditioned by the particular historic patterns of our species.

When my mother once told me that homes should never be swept in the night after sundown because for some odd reason Lakshmi would run away. I asked her where THAT came did not need a degree in rocket science to understand that it must have been from the time when there was no electricity and sweeping the homes may have led to a clean sweep for the one sweeping. Or that Friday the 13th is inauspicious, we all know the basis of that belief, the Sunday after that was very auspicious and to say that all Friday 13ths after that day are not good would be carrying it a bit too far.There are many superstitions which can decried if thought about with logic and reason. Many may have been apt at some point of time but cannot hold true for generations to come.

To get back to where I started from( pardon me, I have been accused of digressing needlessly once I get started), the twitter interaction made me think of this issue of why we our concept of death is anything but auspicious. The one certain truth of life is that it must end. Everything does, nothing which is born can stay alive forever, whether it is a blade of grass, a snowflake an animal. Why,then must we consider it to be inauspicious, if we consider living not so. We celebrate life in its myriad forms, are we then so fearful of its end that we cannot think about it and shut our minds to it. We are not afraid to live are we, with all the uncertainties we face? On the other hand we take up the challenge of living, many a times not giving up when defeat is imminent.

In my personal opinion and many may not agree, what we are afraid of is not the fact that we will not last until eternity for we well know that this shall not be. Our emotions which connect us to all who we know,is what makes us afraid, for the person who goes has gone, we mourn really not for them, they are not there... we mourn for our associations, our memories of them and perhaps when we bury or cremate the body of the one we love, some of them take flight with the soul which is no more(memories have a habit of becoming dim with time). It is natural to miss a person one has lost to time, and remember them but it is also natural there has to be an end to any beginning. Then should we rejoice the living and call the end of what we have rejoiced inauspicious? Do these words really have any meaning other than what we make them out to be?

We have descended from the apes and we have kept up the descent, not really

ascended into thinking beings.Animals are slaves to their instincts,we on the other hand apart from our intellect we are governed by emotion. We distinguish right from wrong, good from bad, beautiful from ugly, but then is anything really right or wrong, bad or good? It is our perception of anything which makes it so, perhaps which makes us unique too, but if we look beyond perception there is no element of good or bad or right or wrong of the just and unjust.

We are and have always been sentimental, we hold on to memories, we keep little things which remind us of our loved ones, why we even display our own pictures proudly by our bedside.... which is perfectly justified, but when we get perfectly attached to these things that make up our world is when our vision falters.We cease to look beyond our world and become embroiled in the pettiness of emotive thought.

When every religion talks about eternal life why are we so concerned about dying? Perhaps if we leave aside perceptive emotion and perceive without judgement, see rather than watch, listen more than we hear, be quiet rather than be heard,we may start taking small steps to that life eternal. The cacophony of life prevents this.

Diwali will be here soon, I MUST remember not to give clothes or any gift to the Dhobhi,the poor man has been happy to live with this burden since Ramrajya.. must follow tradition.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


Independence day has come and gone.It was a few days before the 15th August that I remembered him again. I wanted to write this on that august day, the feelings were too strong to write objectively. Now that the day has gone,the feelings a trifle dulled and thoughts more objective, but can one divorce feelings from thoughts when one thinks of a super hero who gave his all for his country. It is difficult to be objective when that hero is your own uncle.

I first saw Mamu in Delhi on our holiday at Chahchji's house. Television broadcasting had just begun here, watching tv was a novelty, we were watching a movie in a language which we did not understand, Mamu and us kids on chairs and all the other children sitting cross legged, all of us enraptured by the images on the screen, without understanding a word of what was happening. At some point in the film there was a funny scene and Mamu made it even more by his comment and action. I was floored by this tall man with his humor who had all of us rolling with laughter at a film which was gibberish.

The second time I met him was in Bundi,a small town in Rajasthan where my much older cousin was to be married and all the family had gathered for the occasion. A familiar face when we arrived and who told his daughters, my cousins to accompany us to where we were to stay across the road. Instant friendship ensued,with just a years difference between me and the younger one. One morning we went to inspect the place where the baratis were to stay.... it was a palace not very far away, the baraat was to arrive the next day and we had to see that all the arrangements were in order and be ready to receive them the next evening. Normally when the baraat arrives they are greeted by some of the people from the bride's family with a daawat which is called amad ki daawat or the greeting on the arrival. We were waiting for them to arrive for quite a while when Mamu declared ... HERE THEY COME... all of us ran out to the porch and there was nothing...HERE THEY ARE..THE SAMOSAS HAVE COME!!! Laughter all around before we got down to more serious business.
For children weddings are a twenty four hour party . No responsibilities, just try and find the coca cola crates and guzzle as many as possible, watch the festivities enjoy the moments of fun with adults, look at the peacocks which came very close,walk down the shaded roads when there is a lull, dress up during the functions,an idyllic holiday.Mamu was there with us,sometimes, as a playmate in some of our silly games.

We came to the then Bombay in 1971 and I soon joined my new school.It was the start of the new school year and my first day there. My parents had told me to come back home by the school bus. It was a half day at school which I was not expecting, all the girls seemed to know where to go... I too went towards the bus but there were so many of them, I did not know which one to get on to, so I decided to walk home. I was vaguely familiar with the route, asked people on the road for directions and reached home at two thirty in the afternoon much to Mom's surprise and later horror when I told her that I had walked home. That evening Mamu and Mami came over to meet us, my father still a bit upset with my 'bold' behaviour, told him what I had done and Mamu looked at me and said... she's a lioness.. SHERNI HAI!I loved this tall uncle of mine with my life. My cousins were in boarding school and Mamu and Mami would come often.. I would wait for his Renault to arrive with anticipation, he would often join my brother and me in our games.

This idyll lasted but seven months. In December of that year a war broke out with a neighboring country. One night the sirens rang out loud and tracer bullets went streaming through the sky, I thought we were being attacked and the tracers were bullets going in the direction of the harbor. I screamed with fright thinking of my uncle.He left soon for battle soon after that day,set sail to protect our territory. He did not return. The call came on one dark night.. the ship had sunk, torpedoed by an enemy submarine and we knew that this was the end.

The newspapers were full of the stories the next day and for many days after, in all languages talking about the brave captain who went down with his ship. The sailors who were rescued told my aunt about how he had saved some of them, one who was afraid to jump in the waters was given a peremptory kick on his behind, another who could not find his life jacket was given the one which Mamu himself was wearing, while roaring out orders for all to leave the ship into the safer waters. Many saw him then go back, this brave man sat on his captain's chair calmly and went down with the ship. In the best tradition of the navy, with honor and pride.

He left behind a young beautiful widow and two daughters shattered but as strong as him in their bereavement.
My mother went to see films over again just to see the documentary film which was made about him and the event which led to his sacrifice.
I mourned quietly for my beloved uncle who had made me once feel brave.
A life well lived.

On days like these I remember my special super hero, with his small smile and large heart, his humor and bonhomie.When the flag flies high I think of him with pride. We take our safety for granted, conduct our businesses with ease, do we ever think of all those whose job is our security. Their valour is exemplary.


Saturday, 18 August 2012

A Revisit

The rose garden had vanished, the wicker gate lost to time. There were no snapdragons by the side of the driveway. The tall bamboo trees next to the gate had turned into baskets. Where was the lush green hedge and the greener than green garden, the fruit trees?

An older woman looked at the young girl child playing on the lush lawn as the sprinkler watered the grass.They stared at each other for a moment,the child turned,calling her brother and his friends to join her play,running away into the lawn at the back as the woman watched them. She looked at the house again, her home for a few years, the better part of her childhood, now running into the lawn away from her. The structure itself had changed, nothing of the original home was left, the garage was in the same place but not much else. Through the open gate she saw the desolate garden, without the border of colorful flowers or the trees which bore luscious mangoes, plums and peaches. The grape vine behind the kitchen which her mother had lovingly nurtured with the gardener's help must have long gone.

The unkempt garden and the silent walls of the house smiled slightly at the grey hair and wrinkled skin, akin in their destiny. Their childhood left behind, their youth striding into a mature adulthood slowing down to the almost placid middle age where the grey and the patchy grass merged.

She glanced back, the child came running out followed by two bounding cats. The child stopped short and they looked at each other for for a long moment, the child at her future, the woman her past.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Janam Ashtami

There is the sound of revelry all around. Last night precisely at 12am we brought in the birth of Krishna our beloved God. Krishna the playful boy, the innocent baby teasing his mother, the boy-child playing with the gopis and his friends while taking his cows for grazing.Krishna a loyal friend, kind of heart, brave warrior, the knowledgeable and knowing, whose words ring true even today in the form of the 'Bhagvad Geeta'. Krishna my beloved, who has kept me alive spiritually, whose words have meaning above and beyond any other.

There is revelry all around, joy at his birth and men are breaking the pot tied at the top of a rope, forming pyramids to reach it and share the goodies in it, imitating you when you as a child stole the butter hanging in the pot above you. An image which is so innocent and sweet.

Come soon Shri Krishna so that the joy is real and so that all that is wrong is once again made right. This is my fervent prayer to you.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

To take up from where I left , we are always rushing nowadays, and while I do the same I stop and question it sometimes. We were never in a hurry or saw any of our elders in a hurry in the days gone by. People worked then, they do now, what had changed is the pace perhaps because of the innovations and discoveries in the last few decades, or maybe people actually believe that the world will end soon. The former should hold true , the pace at which technology, for example has grown and keeps growing is one such example. As children there were no washing machines, no televisions, no computers and no cellular phones. We did very well without them and perhaps because of them we had a much happier childhood full of innocent joys.As technology came into our space to make our lives easier, we accepted it and with our growing years, so that the first ever TV program to be viewed at age nine was wondrous but when it became a daily activity (closely monitored by parents) it was not such a big deal. Nowadays children will not know the wonder of watching a black and white screen for the first time. They will not know how watching Edwin Aldrin landing on the moon, screened on a cloth screen in a square in the market place looked so awesome, because now there are so many space endeavors that it is just another piece of news to be discussed for a while and then move on to the next.

Technology has made so many changes in our lives. It has made living easier but has cost mankind dearly. We are careening at a heady pace on some path, a path which has no end, the turns and the twists of which we ourselves do not know but we want to get THERE and in our hurry we have lost a lot. We have degraded nature, have become selfish as now what matters is ourselves and not those who matter to us.

We watch news stories which upset us, but they are just another piece of news.Discussions ensue but they remain just that and never proceed to action. While children keep falling into open manholes, one such is just five paces from where I live next to a school. No action will ever be taken, unless there is an accident. Cynics all, selfish and inert.

I have traveled out of the country but thrice, the difference is stark, there is commerce there too,but along with that there is a civic sense which shows that people care about the other and their community. Why do we lack this? My personal view is(it is open to debate) that the inhabitants of this largely agrarian country have the attitude of a person residing in a village..... we may have become city dwellers but have not left our rural background behind, so small cities and bigger ones too where the influx of people continues become large unkempt villages in the shape of towns.

We call ourselves the human race but in the race to be the best we are losing what is most the most essential part of us, the human being.

We hear stories of violence,we watch wars on television we see happiness of victories the instant they happen, we are concerned about the changing climate, we connect with people like never before, the world has shrunk before our eyes,in this shrinking world somehow we have lost our very concern for that which sustains us. We pray to trees but cut them without blinking an eye. We pray to Gods and Goddesses who are accompanied by animals as their 'vahan' (mode of transport for lack of any other phrase),and we mistreat those very animals. We pray to Mother Goddesses but we have don't want girls as children. In a land where there in ancient times learning was venerated, the uneducated population is shameful in the extreme.

While we assert ourselves and strive for excellence in all fields, let us just step back and think about what it has cost us.

This shall continue... as the picture is not so bad, there have been social and political changes which have made for a more confident population.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The last time I posted whatever came into my mind was not what was meant to be posted. I actually wanted to write about how times have changed in the last half a century but it became something other than what it was meant to be. I shall make another attempt. So help me God.

Unfortunately one sees with ones own eyes most of the time, to perceive through the others is not easy. Thus whatever I or anyone else writes most certainly or at the best of times have a personal element even when written with respect of a larger canvas. Fiction poetry plays et all. The author will always emerge somewhere.

There is a obvious change from childhood to adolescence until adulthood and then old age. I have seen such around me not in people but in the larger social, economic and political scenario. Seen how people change with times, how aspirations become larger, and how scientific progress is so fast that to keep pace with it one has to per force adjust to the climate of change. When I was young ( personal anecdote begins!) we used to just drop in at someone's place unannounced or they would at ours, and if it was close to a meal time, all would eat together, share the luck of the pot, things were easy, life was simple, commodities of course were always expensive and everyone complained about the rising prices.... one thing which has not changed one bit.If now a milk carton is Rs 63/- compared to Rs 50/- a few months ago we cringe, then if it went up from RS 4/- to RS 6/- we cringed too. All in all the days gone by were easier and the happiness quotient was more. This is not to say that now people walk about without smiling or that life is so difficult that everyone ponders about their state of being but by far things have become a bit more trying.

Difficult to continue now as I have to rush to work... will do so in a few hours, bear with me....

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

A Few Reminisces

Memories are sometimes what we make of them, they may not true in the exact passing of events, they mostly are what we remember of some circumstances which we have encountered seen with the eyes of an adult. However, true those events were, our perceptions of them change with time and the passing years add to the romance of what were just mundane or at best normal day to day existence.

Having said this, I will try to be as true as I can to the snippets of the last half a century.

When I see the teeming traffic on the road on the road below my balcony, my thoughts go back to the days when we actually came here. The roads were so quiet, there were fewer cars, the only noisy times were when there on the immersion days in the days of the Ganapati festival,and boy that was noise. Closed windows and doors were no shield against the joyous celebratory upsurge of sound. One could not then help but participate in it by watching from the safe confines of the fourth floor. The point I was making was of the increase in traffic which is apparent everywhere now. Much earlier as a smaller child in Chandigarh, cycle rickshaws were the norm (as they are even now) they took us to and from school, cars were very few. Ours was one of them. I have some very fond memories of going to the lake in the night after dinner, our family and one other, elders sitting on the grass while we ran around and played until we were tired out. There used to be no other people there, very rarely perhaps another family or two. Quiet calm waters and plain grass waiting for the feet of running children, well lit in the dark. Last year I revisited Chandigarh again, the change hit me in the face almost like a slap.There was activity commerce, food stalls ,crowds where once was a haven of peace.

As children the main agenda is play, next comes study, it is the opposite for parents. Our holidays were the main highlights of the year, the long summer vacations and the shorter winter/Christmas holidays.I longed for them with a longing that was lasted long. The short car trip to Delhi or the long train journey to Allahabad were awaited with so much joy almost as if those were the only times which had any relevance at all. As a child I saw very few movies and those that were seen were the ones which were recommended by Mom and Dad or one or two which the school took us to. 'Tora Tora Tora' 'Ashirwad' 'Ab Dilli Door Nahin' and some other war movies spring up instantly. Dad of course always took us for the 'good' movies and Mom for the fun ones, something which remained until we started going out with friends to see what we wanted to. Films remained my second love, reading always had the gold medal. So we saw movies like 'Garam Hawa' 'Ashad Ka Ek Din' and much later 'Ankur' interspersed with 'Mary Poppins','Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' and 'Aradhana'. There were many war movies too, but for the life of me, although some scenes replay before my eyes, the names elude me.This could due the distaste I have for violence and thereby war.

I look at children nowadays and wonder sometimes if they have fun at all, knowing full well that the concept of fun changes with changing times. So if I consider lying on my special branch of the mango tree to read a book or swinging higher and higher on the swing trying reach the sky or throwing snowball at my brother in Kufri
or running through Mamu's house chasing six other kids or flying a rather small kite which my elder cousin bought for me or just holding the spool while they flew theirs,my idea of fun,a child nowadays would think of these ideas as strange and alien. I see children going to various classes....dancing,singing, gymnastics for an hour or two a week and this seems to be fun for them.The only time I indulged in these was in school, now there is serious training for cricket, we played hockey in school as part of the sports in school. Nobody thought in terms of training, our coaching was in school and we were happy with what we had. Children must be happy nowadays too but the reasons which give them are different now. We played with abandon fought and laughed with such too. One thing my mother taught me from when I was very young was to fight my own fights. Once when I came crying to her to tell her about some fight with some other child, she wisely told me, both of you are the ones fighting, you will have to sort it out. It was so disappointing to not get her support, but it was just this which was made me face situations head on and not turn to anyone for support. I see today many Moms arguing with other Moms on behalf of their children and I remember Amma's wisdom.

Times have changed and with them concepts, some remain but many change which is good because in a static climate the ice of ideas would be never melt, ideas would cease to flow.

This has been a personal snippet, I will try and write about how times have changed in the other contexts in my personal view. Later.

Webs We Weave (2)

I was in a state of wonderment or was it wonder at the tail end of my last post. Fortunate for me, because I had something very different to attend to so my brain had refreshed itself.

While wondering at those points, I must readily admit that opposites exist, if there is someone who pulls, there will be one who pushes, in this tug of war there will but necessarily be those that fall and those that triumph. What bothers me whatever we are today is a result of what we were yesterday. All of it, whether it is language, science, industry, art,traditional customs modern behavior , ALL of them have been devised by us and us alone. Some would disagree and say that it is the play of God, his "leela" which makes this happen, but we won't go into any spiritual treatise here. The fact remains that our species have reached to this stage where all that we do is due to what has been specific to our species from the time homo sapiens started inhabiting the earth. We have learned to act in certain ways and have given up certain other behavior which became non relevant. I have seen animals behave in a certain way specific to their species without being taught by anyone.Little puppies and kittens or small monkeys, certain behavior is not learned but natural... which has led me to infer the same about humans.

If we have given up irrelevant behavior patterns or other such to 'evolve' into what we are today, so have we discarded the physical remnants which had assisted us before. I am disturbed by what I see today. People continue to kill other people in the name of war which seems right to them, we kill animals just for our own petty greed, we tread on each other so that we can get ahead, we turn to anger and violence as a resort to resort our insecurities. The picture is not so grim. We do manage to have our fun and games and laughter and all is not lost. The fact that we have not yet reached the summit of evolution is apparent in the this very fact. If we were evolved we would not react in the same way that our forefathers did. Wars would be something which were read about in history books and nature would not be tampered with, but then it is said that history repeats itself, so although we learn of it we don't learn from it, we never do, and this is what makes me wonder again.

The webs we weave become more intricate and once woven the weaver of the web leaves it to spin another until he is enmeshed in what he has himself has woven. There are some lucky one's who break through these fortunate and enlightened are very few and come very rarely.

With my humble respects to my Guru who has surpassed and who until today pours his blessings and by whose grace I have seen the God's grace, although he has taken Mahasamadhi, his love and grace are present whether I reach out or not.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Webs We Weave

We are all ultimately a product of our genetics and environment.The human species has gone through a evolutionary and revolutionary process to reach where we have today. This is not the end,of course, we will evolve even more and reach some other point, whether it will be better or worse one cannot say. Only time will be witness as time has always been, a mute spectator to the vagaries of itself perhaps amused at what has transpired and what shall while it watches silently.

We are products was were the first few words I wrote. This supposition is possibly due to the increased commercialism of our thinking. The stage where we are today seems to be the pinnacle our progress but that is true of any given era,at any time point of time whether it was man discovering fire or landing on the moon,at that time was most progressive. Progress will always be a progression of putting our minds/thought to what we have at our disposal a any time be in any age. And ultimately we become the products of our own progression, caught up in he web which we have so meticulously woven, the web of progress with the parody of time. The more we weave the more we get entwined and we are not dissatisfied to be within this,we are happy and live our personal lives within the gamut of this ever widening all encompassing fine and intricate piece of artistry. For this is what life is all about is it not? To be born,to grow to earn to live among our peers and within society with goodwill, to be a productive part of the economy, in short to live a good life and perhaps be remembered by our near ones when we are no more for some time and then be obscured by time, the amused silent seer.

I often wonder then, why we are so determined to assert ourselves,why we want to be better than the other,why our own progress is always at the cost of another,why one man's meat is another's poison?

Will comtinue...

Sunday, 29 July 2012


As a child I had had the experience of seeing two wars with our neighboring countries, well seeing would not be right, experiencing is the better word, hearing bombs being dropped close by and tanks rolling through the city, planes flying low. I wondered much later at the futility of it all. But to get back to idealism , from a young age I was idealistic and wanted to change the world, wanted the world to be a place worth living in for each and every living being, Utopia would be nice, thank you. I had some very intelligent friends who were quite cynical( too much intelligence does that), and it made me cynical for a while, but we are ultimately shaped by our own personal experiences,so my idealism prevailed.To make matters worse the school motto had been changed from "Play The Game" to "Others" just about the time I entered the new school.Serious stuff... Others.

I somehow knew I had it in me to bring about some change,it may not be earth shaking but perhaps would have a rippling effect, but I did not for the life of me know what IT would be.

During my early working years I was as never before exposed to corruption, scheming, lies, and all that one requires into trying to get ahead in life more smartly than the other. I did not ... get ahead, although I was as ambitious as anyone else, perhaps a bit more. I knew I had it in me, but the system does not allow for people to be forthright,truthful and straight and disillusionment came faster than I expected. I plodded on nonetheless not without a lot of struggle. I had to be told ever so often to hold on to my job. Maybe I should have listened to my inner voice, I never fitted into the gossipy women brigade or the corrupt practices many others indulged in, but I survived. For many years. Sometime when I look back I am amazed that I actually did. During all this time my idealism was crushed underfoot, the world was not turning out to be as I had thought it would be. I grew up.

Around me the world was changing at a frantic pace, materialism had made its inroads and commercialism was everywhere. Everyone was in a hurry to get THERE.I sometimes wondered what the hurry was, one DID have the rest of one's life to get there, but this thought could be put down to the disillusionment with my working life.Be that as it may, what I noticed that although people were getting on and getting there, something else was happening alongside.Tagore's dream for true freedom was in shambles. Everywhere I looked I saw people who had become pygmies in within their "narrow domestic walls". Caste and creed was more important than being human. The relevance of age old norms were not being questioned, blind following in the name of tradition and culture was the norm, and if anything was questioned it was quickly shushed down. We were progressing, the country was important in the international arena, our voices were heard globally, but as a people we were mired into a quicksand of beliefs from which I for one could not see any way out. I have always been an avid reader, I turned to Indian authors to fathom their thoughts. As a city person, reading about the horrors which exist in villages even today saddened me to an extent which I cannot start to explain. I cried bitter tears at the degradation of this land. Helpless bitter tears, helpless because I could not do a thing about it, only assuage my guilt with some miserable giving to charity. There were people out there working for change quietly and making it happen too. Why was I so helpless? Was giving to some charity or other all I could do? Was I helping at all? I knew I was not... working towards my own comfortable life and like most people turning a blind eye to the child at the signal selling flowers or the young girl washing dishes in somebody's house or the many incidents of dowry deaths reported in newspapers or the apathy of the bureaucracy or the corrupt police force or or or.... the list is endless. Why had my idealism turned into apathy and where was that 18 year old who wanted to change the world, change the way people thought so that the "clear stream of reason" made for an enlightened and progressive society? Had my reasoning and thought been crushed so that all I could do was watch and weep for my motherland? I did not think so but that WAS the reality. I told someone much wiser (than I could ever hope to be) that I wanted to actually work with people who were less fortunate, be the change as it were. I was told that I was already doing that, that by working at my job and giving some of the proceeds for those that needed them, I and so many others like me were actually giving of our toil. I accepted what I was told,accepted it, but my fervor did not die.

A strange restlessness has been brewing within me for the last five years or so. And now the time is coming to do do my bit to fulfill Tagore's legacy,his dream for an enlightened and free India, an India which at its pinnacle gave us our Vedas, the Bhagvad Geeta and the Upanishads. An India which was accepting of all faiths and because of which her cultural heritage is rich and vibrant. An India which shines not in pockets of the rich but in the smiles of the downtrodden, an India for which our forefathers martyred themselves, a freedom which is attainable if only each one thinks with clarity and acts with the conviction. It is a mammoth task but then even the cloth I wear now was once a cotton seed.

It won't be long now.


Where The Mind is Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow
domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought
and action--
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

-- Rabindranath Tagore

I had read this poem when I was in the ninth class, it was a part of the English curriculum. It had an instant effect, a deep connection almost to the very soul. Teenage is a time when the mind is the most impressionable,ideas surge forth and the personality slowly starts its very own assertion. I read it often and each time
it touched me more deeply.

When one is young one's worldview is limited, it is the view of a child/adult one who has to yet step out, one who is protected by the peripheries of ones family and school. There is much to read,more to enjoy with friends and family and an awful lot of study to do. I too went out for movies, plays, holidays and did a bit of study in between. Our head was always high, we were truthful to a fault, we strove for perfection in our own ways, not necessarily in the ways our parents and teachers would have wanted but that makes another story.Our minds were not without fear, many of us had mortal fear of the various tests and exams and the results which followed.Knowledge was not free but then there has always been a tuition fees, after all we were modern young teenagers, not living in Vedic times weren't we? So then why was Tagore praying for a freedom which we had already attained. I mulled over this often and could not come up with the answer.

In time I forgot about the poem,it remained in some corner of my mind but did not surface again.

Graduation happened and the search to find a job. Another goal which was achieved after some struggle. That was when the real growing up began. It was not as if I had lived in a cocoon as a child, the difference was that now we were the part of the young work force with ideas and opinions which, of course, were always right and which we passionately discussed and put forth.

Slowly but surely the world around me became more apparent with all it inequalities,the dead habits" which I remembered hazily showed themselves, and the ideal picture started dissolving into a larger canvas of corruption inequality disparity. The idealistic bubble however refused to burst.

To be contd... tonight most probably.

Friday, 6 July 2012


This is an apology to all those who commented on my posts. I have inadvertently managed to delete all the comments. The loss is mine. Very sorry about it.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Morning Visitor

The Mynah bird screeches squawks
I have not seen him very often
of late I hear him
He shows himself today.
Shouting on the railing
Is he asking for food?

They came a few months ago
Several of them
Arguing on the branches
Outside my balcony
After a gap of three decades

What a surprise it was to see them
in the midst of only crows and pigeons
and the occasional parrot.
The sparrows have all but gone.
I see one sometimes in three months.

Welcome my little mynah bird
Would that you could survive the towers
the small sparrow
gave up long ago.

Monday, 14 May 2012


Just the other day I was talking to my nephew in Delhi ans he said the dust storm blowing all around was threatening to leave inches of dust inside despite the closed windows. Took me back in time, this seems to be happening a bit often nowadays.

We lived in Chandigarh when I was a child until Dad was transferred to ( the then ) Bombay. An idyllic life, as most small town lives tend to be. Nothing much ever happens, as a child you go to school ,play, study, go for an outing to the lake or the market at the center of town, which is the MOST happening place, where nothing ever happens; and of course the occasional movie.

The innate charm of Chandigarh most decidedly is that it is a well planned city and nature is as visible as man made constructions. The homes have well kept gardens, and parks for children to play are abundant.

Weather changes have been occurring all over the world and it must be the same in the town of my childhood.
As a child I was unaware of these. There were the three main seasons summer winter and the rainy, it was never the monsoon then. One hot , the other freezing cold when electric heaters were the norm and the rains which were gave much needed respite from the summer heat.

Then there were the the storms. There were many towards the end of summer, most of these accompanied by gale force winds often but not always rain cooling the atmosphere with the suddenness of their arrival.

One afternoon Mom came on the porch and yelled "KALI AANDHI, GO INSIDE! " It was the middle of the afternoon. Mom suddenly remembered the mangoes, they would have been ruined in the rain, so we all made a dash towards the trees, while the help ran upstairs to collect the drying clothes. The wind was blowing stronger and we were collecting as many mangoes as was possible before the downpour. It was getting less bright and Mom pointed out the scene to us. At the far horizon it was DARK and it was coming closer, striding running almost sprinting to cover the entire town. When Mom had shouted the warning, I had instinctively understood the urgency in her voice but not what the content of the words, having never experienced a black storm.  And my word! Within minutes the wind-speed increased to frock raising, tree swaying levels, the latter almost bent from the effort of protecting themselves from the unnatural onslaught. The bright afternoon light changed to evening then twilight to pitch dark all in almost a blink of the eye. The darkness which was evident in the far horizon overtook all the houses. And then it started raining. Incessant impenetrable sheets pouring down in the night / afternoon. No thunder or lightening, just darkness and rain.Then as suddenly as it appeared it stopped. The garden and the porch waterlogged and the atmosphere cool.We were inside with candles lit in the face of the darkness, as the electricity had gone as usual, the rains and the winds had played havoc with the electrical system.

The darkness remained for about a quarter of an hour, and as suddenly as it had showed up, vanished into the blue. From light to dark and back to light in a spate of a few short minutes. Incredible!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Ambition and Aspirations

I am content with my mediocrity.

When I observe people around me wanting to be the best, wanting to be someone special in a world which says that one just has to excel, has to be noticed, has to leave their stamp, I wonder if I am a complete misfit.
There world's population has reached to the point where after a while we may be treading on each others toes while we standing. Most people are born live their lives and then die unsung, remembered by a few of their dear ones for a few years. That has been the case for eons, for every Ceaser there were thousands of the citizens of Rome, for every Gandhi they were the freedom fighters who gave up their lives but have been lost to time.We remember those that made a difference, who shaped history,but the common people who were as necessary for history to be made are long forgotten.

I see my maids cooking or cleaning for me, their lives have relevance and if I can make them smile or laugh, give some respite to their hard lives, I feel a sense of achievement, if not that then at least momentary fulfillment. I see people walking on the streets on the way to their work, a part of the multitude who have to labor just for the preservation of their family and their lives. There are children who beg on the roads and are seemingly happy with their lives, they must be as happy or sad as anyone else. They do not seem to have any other aspirations. Its not the same with the maids though.They earn a living and definitely have ambitions, not so much for themselves as much as for their children, they are not literate but want the next generation to do better than them. As people go higher up the economic ladder, ambitions and aspirations are bound to rise too.

A comfortable childhood would necessarily lead to the same in adulthood or then even better under some circumstances. I had one. There was no reason for any discontent but then there was never pressure for being excellent like there is nowadays.If I was within the first ten in my class of forty plus I was happy, if among the first five it felt better. There was only one time when I dipped to thirteenth and that was the bluest day of my life. Then there was one time when I came first and my happiness knew no bounds.But again there was never any innate need to repeat this.

Much later as a young adult, I wanted to change the world, which  now I see was nothing extraordinary, youth have this kind conviction and we really think we can make a difference at that stage. It is only when we start working and get caught up in our family lives and just get on with living, that these convictions take a back seat and personal ambitions take over. It was the same with me, but about that a bit later.

Just as an aside, on weekends sometimes we used to go as a family to visit temples. I remember visits to Mumbadevi, Mahalakshmi and Babulnath clearly. The crowds of people praying and the asking for some wish fulfillment, I would stand there bemused seeing all those people, what and why were they asking all the time? And for quite a while after that I became an atheist, could not understand we had to always beg for mercy pray for favors. It changed much later.

So to get back to my personal ambitions I did see quite soon that I quite keen in my grasp, maybe a trifle more compared to my peers, could get to the crux of many issues and find solutions quite easily, the logical part of my brain helped a lot. I also realized that I was ambitious, and wanted to get somewhere. Soon enough it dawned on me that it was not up to me at all.People don't like other people who may be a bit more intelligent specially if they are competing for the first place.And then I also understood that what I lacked was the killer instinct, and the lack of interest to make a dedicated effort toward excellence. If I had had that perhaps it would have been different. I still strive for perfection and when I see that I have not done as well as I could it bothers me. Over the years I have come to terms with the fact that I will not be going any further. Perhaps that has resulted in looking at the younger generation and giving them some tips, and it has given me even greater satisfaction when they go ahead. If I have played a negligible role in someones progress that is enough for me. A compromise perhaps but worth the effort.

I also know now that I am just another person among millions, not among the top ten percent of the achievers but the ninety who live their lives their lives simply and die quietly. What amuses me is that there are so many in this category who in their little groups or cliques still want to be noticed looked at and generally be 'top dog',have some power over the few people that they know and revel in it. Another expression of ambition perhaps and of the self definitely, because we consider ourselves important to ourselves and therefore to others so we MUST have some way to have a hold over them and make ourselves feel better.

Right now all I aspire for is someone to come and help me clean my cupboard.Don't really want to make an effort.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Still Searching.

The turmoil returns again, it tears up my very being. I dither between reality and imagination. What is happening around me is reality but my imagination of the reality, is itreal or just a story made by my restless mind? I get a sock in the face whenever I confront it, don't want to believe what I imagine to be true. Return to practical reasonable thought and be what I am in normal circumstances.But reason fails and once again the soul is tormented. Is it coincidental or just a natural progression of events, I will never know. I try to find answers in the sequence of occurrences. The turn of events shatter self belief.

The bonds we share the relations built over time, will they all come to naught? They will, of course in the end when we leave the body. One hears of soul mates and marriages made in Heaven, all ordained by some higher being. Do we then have no say in the events because it was already written by 'the moving finger' which 'having writ moves on'. And we are left to transcribe and play out what it wrote, helpless in the face of  circumstances over which we have no control.

Why does this turmoil continue to torment my soul? I try to find the answers but sometimes reason becomes unreasonable, as I watch what happens around me. And does the entire responsibility rest with me? I don't know but I am determined to find the answer, I may not, this I am aware of . It requires calmness of mind and now the mind is not of this, it requires reasonable thought but the reigns of the mind have been let loose and thoughts gallop so fast that control becomes impossible.There has to be clarity but a fog of emotions surround me, clear thinking recedes. It will come back soon but the turmoil shall return too. Memories will erupt from the depths of brain and conscious thought will wrestle with reason once again.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

इनायत ए ज़िन्दगी बेशुमार इतनी
महसूस किया तो रोना आया

दोस्तों की दोस्ती छु गयी इतनी
दुश्मनी को देखा तो दिल भर आया

ऐसा क्यूँ समझते हैं की हम इश्क के काबिल नहीं
मोहोब्बत हमने भी की बस उनको एहसास ना आया

तरन्नुम यादों का गूंजा हवाओं में
भूले से भी उनको कभी कुछ ना आया

Sunday, 25 March 2012

There have been cats all around me since childhood. Cats of all kinds. There has beeen only ONE Kali. The cat.
Kali my beautiful ugly. The first cat to be born inside the house, a little black blob entering our world and making it beautiful.

As she grew there were yellow specks all over the black ,not many but enough to make her look a bit ugly. As cats go she was pretty, and as smart and intelligent as her mother Billo Rani.

We had an old Fiat car at that time and Kali loved sitting on the parcel tray at the back and being driven around, what she loved more was the attention she got from the passing motorists. After receiving her due share of it she would settle down to snooze during the drive.

AND the dogs in the apartment were terrified of her. She would run up to this black one and look him straight in the eyes nose to nose and the poor thing would just back off. Everyday. By this time she had stopped staying at home, happy to wander around in the premises and just come home for meals.And by then we had progressed from a Fiat to a Maruti 800. Kali loved it although it did not have a parcel tray. She was older and perhaps wanted a living,dining ,bedroom to herself.She decided to make it her home, we had no say in the matter. When I came home from work she jumped in and then did not jump out.SO! Food for Kali to be served in the car please. And please leave the windows open,dear... I plan to sleep here too.One window was left open all night for her come rain or sunshine. The neighbors were surprised when they saw my car open all night but Kali was a favorite so they quite understood.

When the kitchen was being redone she would come up as usual for her meal at night and then go around and inspect the work of the day. Give her catapproval and then go back to her car bedroom. When it was finally done she loved the new setup and came up more often.

Years later, there was some other major work being done in the house, my father was unwell and almost bedridden, when one day the car cleaner ran up and told me that Kali was lying on the sidewalk without moving.Fortunately it was my day off from work and I rushed down to see her lying there unable to get up. There were some paw marks so apparently she had dragged herself onto the sidewalk and collapsed with exhaustion. She had been possibly hit by a car earlier on and had broken a bone. I carried her upstairs and called the vet. After the x ray was taken he said he would not be able to do much except give her medicines for pain and antibiotics and that she needed to rest completely and would be better in a month. Kali and rest did not go together. She found every opportunity to get out, She could not walk or run, just hop like a rabbit and she was faster than a rabbit can ever hope to be.Several times there would be three people running down the stairs to get her back home, and it was quite a chase.She healed soon enough and was back downstairs to her car abode, but not before going to my father's room and showing him that she was well enough to go downstairs.

On normal days she would come upstairs and Mom would give her the evening meal and she would go back downstairs after eating.  One day when I came home really late from work, Mom told me that Kali had been sitting with her for three hours since about 5pm. Very strange behavior indeed when usually she would run away fast because of the other cats.

My mother died that night.Kai knew, but how? I shall never know. People say some animals can sense when the end is near specially of those that they love a lot. Kali my smart intelligent ugly angelic beauty sat with Mom at the table just to be with her in her final hours.

Miss you my black beauty!! You and Mom must be together up there along with the other cats and watching over us. Love you forever!!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Morning Mantra.

Blushing pink rays against the trees
Carpets flying against soft breeze
One merges into white
One disperses out of sight
Timeless bursts of light
Distant hours of flight
On the trail of dawn
Soft footed, sure the morn.