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.