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.