Sunday, February 18, 2018

A day in the life

"For the mind is very restless, turbulent, strong and obstinate, O Krishna. It appears to me that it is more difficult to control than the wind." - Bhagavad Geeta (Chapter 6, Verse 34)

Part 1: Morning

The shabby advertisement in the newspaper jacket reminded him that it was 14th of February, popularly celebrated as Valentines Day. He, after his usual morning routine, sat down on his table but got a huge resistance from within to further open the newspaper. The content in the newspapers had offlate been depressing and it seemed like every news in the newspaper had a hidden motive to sell something. So instead he chose to pick up the book he had borrowed from his friend and started reading it. He realised that he hadn't read and traveled much last year and that reading more books and traveling more places were few of his silent new year resolutions this year.

Part 2: Afternoon

The day in the office was not turning out to be well. He had suffered lot of last minute cancellations and rejections to his sales funnel. The thought that he would not meet his revenue target for a consecutive fifth month made him feel disappointed and lonely.  He packed his bag and informing his boss that he was heading for a sales meeting, he headed to the sea beach. The sea had always pacified him.
The beach side was hot and sunny, so he chose to sit and read in a nearby cafe. Although a non-profitable customer, he had been a regular visitor to the cafe. Every time he visited he would just order a coffee and spend good hours till the sun reached closer to the horizon. He liked spending time in the cafe because of the friendly staff and the literary aroma it had.

Part 3: Evening

The sun was about to set and he headed to the sea which had a low tide today. It was a crowded evening at the beach today with lot of couples buying and a lot of vendors selling roses and ice creams. Love was in the air and what made him happier was the sight of old couples celebrating their relationships which had withstood the destructive nature of time. He bought an ice cream for himself and even for some children who were selling flowers to the couples. The smiles of gratitude on their faces added to the beauty of the sunset around. 

Part 4: The night

He reached home contented and happy and switched on his music player. He was reminded of his ex-girlfriend who had once told him that when one is happy, one focuses more on the music of the song and when one is sad one focuses more on the lyrics of the song, to which he had responded that he was perpetually a sad person. To his response she had smiled and kissed him on his forehead. The music in the room and the view of the moon from the window provoked a strange feeling of sleep inducing contentment which was stemming out from discontent.

In his sleep, he dreamt of being in the hills and running a small book cafe.

He woke up smilingly to realise that the music was still playing. Jagjeet Singh in his soulful voice was singing

"Hazaaron khwaishein aisi ki har khwaish pe dam nikle 
Bahut nikle mere armaan phir bhi kam nikle"
 (I have a thousand desires, all desires worth dying for
Though many of my desires were fulfilled, yet I yearn for more..)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Musical walks of life

Part 1: Bombay

As he left his office at 11pm, the security guard at his office gate gave him a pitiful farewell smile. He was getting used to these smiles from everyone: friends, flatmates, colleagues and at times he (turning into both the watcher and the watched) would also end up giving himself a commiserating smile. Hanging his bag with a laptop and a book, he crossed the foot-over-bridge and began walking on the marine drive stretch. Everyday walk on the marine drive listening to his ipod playing old hindi songs helped him calm his restless mind.

The background music from his ipod, the aesthetic settings of marine drive and melancholic feeling of being a corporate slave gave him the perfect setting of being a protagonist from some art movie (the kind of movies which stir our minds instead of our wallets). Then he walked upto the Church Gate station and took on the fast local train to Andheri, where lived with his 3 flatmates in a tiny apartment. Everyday, he enjoyed standing on the gate of the train with the wind gushing on his face, it added on to that art movie feeling. Then after getting down at Andheri station, being denied by several auto guys he started to walk towards his home. And in that very walk, from the railway station to his home, every day, he passed through several vendors, some who sold tea, some who sold footwears and all these vendors were oblivious of his presence while he kept walking like a protagonist acting in his own soulful art movie.

And when he entered the lift of his building, his attention fell to the apt lyrics of the song playing in his ipod:
"Gham aur khushi mein farq naa mehsoos ho jahaan,
main dil ko us mukaam par laata chalaa gaya,
main zindagi kaa saath nibhaata chalaa gaya" 

Part 2: Delhi

It was a charming Delhi winter and he left his office early and boarded the local metro. Unlike the doors of the local Mumbai train, the doors of the metro would shut and that made him feel claustrophobic. He got off from the Green Park metro station and started walking towards his home. The pleasant weather was conducive for a walk. He took out his mobile phone and ear phones to listen to the FM radio to aid his walk. Somehow he always needed a background music for his walks. The thought of his stolen ipod  came to his mind, it had been one of his closest friends during his Bombay days; sadly it had been pick-pocketed in the crowded Delhi metro.

And in the walk from the metro and his home, he stopped by to eat a plate of steamed chicken momos. He enjoyed the idea of eating under the open sky and he knew that those momos tasted well only in this set of ambience because once he had got them packed for his flatmates and when they ate it there, momos didn't seam tasty at all. So today he ate his momos, paid his bill, thanked the vendor and started walking to his apartment listening to the RJ playing a soulful song which was serendipitously his most played song in the old ipod:

"Barbaadiyon ka shok manaana fizul thaa,
barbaadiyon ka jashn manaata chalaa gaya,
main zindagi kaa saath nibhaata chalaa gayaa"

Part 3: Bangalore

He shut down his cafe doors at around 11pm and after having dinner with his team, he walked back home.

Bangalore weather was really pleasant for good long walks but sadly the roads weren't (contrary to delhi where earth was conducive and the sky was not). And as he walked, he didn't want to analyse much as to where he was going towards in his entrepreneurial journey, all he knew was that he had walked away from the mediocrity of corporate life. And at times walking-away was more crucial than walking-towards.

And then amongst the tiny drizzle falling across the yellow street lamp, a sudden thought of his past travel to the hills came to his mind and the pleasant nostalgia brought relief to his mind amidst so much chaos and pandemonium. As he reached the gate, he smiled at the security guard of the apartment and exchanged the regular well-wishing pleasantries with him. The security guard, having found someone to share his happiness with, took out the recently bought second-hand mobile phone and proudly navigated him through some of the already installed apps like Uber, Whatsapp and flipkart, for which the guard had paid extra money. He even played some of the music from the songs which might have been downloaded by the previous owner of the phone. One of the songs triggered very strong emotions in him for the lyrics were:

"Jo mil gaya, use muqaddar samajh liya
jo kho gaya usko bhulaata chalaa gaya
main zindagi kaa saath nibhaata chala gaya"

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Strangers

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion"- Albert Camus

The Guy 

This is a story about a guy who was completely carefree. He was as free as a freebird, no one ever saw him worried and his attitude was truly devil-may-care kind.  Some liked him, mostly hated him, but he didn't care. Elderly men suggested him to start caring about his career, elderly women suggested him to start caring about his relationships, but very few suggested him to be the way he was. He did not care about any of their suggestions and continued to be the way he was.

One fine day he met a girl who asked him why-are-you-the-way-you-are. He answered in his typical . idiosyncratic manner I-am-the-way-I-am. But then when he saw her eyes in detail, he saw beauty, a raw black and white beauty. He saw that rare kind of beauty which offered him the glimpse of eternity that he wanted to stretch out over the whole of time. She being a sensitive girl noticed the change in him having seen her beautiful eyes.

The Girl 

This is a story about a sensitive girl whose life was a perpetual pendulum swinging between her strong mind and her fragile heart.  An outsider, she felt that she never belonged-to nor could fit-in anywhere. Life felt like a movie to her and everyone except she herself felt like a character from a movie. She was just one spectator watching the movie from outside the frame. One fine evening, a friend of her told her about this completely carefree guy who didn't care and that she, who had a thing for "different", should meet him. Initially she was reluctant but then lot many people had told her that he was actually "different". So she decided to meet him and ask him why-was-he-the-way-he-was.

The Guy and The Girl 

This is a story about a guy and a girl who fell in love with each other. It all started when he saw beauty in her eyes and she found a companion in his indifference. It all started when he felt her presence and the worship of her eyes, and then his heart had turned to her in quiet sufferance of her gaze, without shame or wantonness. No, it all started when the girl first heard about the guy being different. Ideally, by that logic it all started when he (or she) was born. But then it was love, logic didn't apply there. The Guy started caring and the Girl stopped feeling like an outsider. Both stepped in the frame of their own movies and thus their unfettered love story began.

                                                                                                                                                                                           Picture: Close Noir Art by Quibe
                                                                                                                                                                         Inspiration: Albert Camus and James Joyce

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Of the hills and the seas

Blessed is he, for the hills are his family and the seas are his friends...

Hills are his family

Unsettled in every city, departing from every gate, it is in the hills he finds his home. Isn't he, the free bird, expected to make a home above all those abysses?  Hills are his bright home, supportive family and the omnipresent teacher. Hills taught him to possess less for he who possesses little is so much the less possessed: praised be a moderate poverty.

Up there, the food is pure, the air is fresh, the people are pure. The trees sway, the flowers blossom, the birds chirp for he, their own, is back in his physical self.  He liked to lie here where children play, beside that oak tree, among thistles and red poppies.

The outsider feeling evaporates when he is wandering in the hills. They bless him with the messages of humility, the joys of giving and to embrace the peaks and troughs of life.

And thus he has become the river, beautifully carved into the landscape, nourishing all the plants and trees passing by...

Seas are his friends

Still is the bottom of his friends: who could guess that the sea hides its loyalty and trustworthiness beneath it. Imperturbable is their depth: but his friends glitter with swimming riddles and laughter. Well, you don't choose family but you choose friends. He didn't even had to choose friends, he just swam with the tide and they chose him.

"He" and "him" converse often and as they say that the friend of a hermit is always the third one. His third one is the "sea". The sea was there to listen to him, to calm him. It was dependable and above all it was non-judgemental. He would sit by his friend and observe the large heartedness of it. A true friend is one who gives you a background to the frame you walk in.

This friend supported him in his voyage of an outrageous, scornful and untroubled life. And with his friend he shared the greatest events; for they are not our noisiest but our stillest hours.........

Blessed is he, for his family are the hills and his friends are the seas...

(Inspired by Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Demonetization Story

Like many others, I was informed of the the demonetization move by Narendra Modi to tackle the black money problem through one of the Whatsapp Groups. Immediately, I checked my wallet and I was relieved that I didn't have a single five hundred or a thousand rupee note. I wouldn't have to go to the bank and stand in the long queue.

Next morning I was driving to my office. Oh wait, let me tell you about my interesting drive to office. While driving from my home to the office, there is one big traffic signal which comes on the way and everyday or rather most of the days, I meet this young girl who would come begging for money. Most of the times, I gave her some money (usually in the range of one rupee to ten rupees, maximum I gave was hundred rupee on the day of the festival Holi). I am not this usual beggar giving guy but this girl has so much positive energy in her that I could never resist giving her money. On the festival of Holi, she came with this color bowl in her hand and I gave her hundred rupees to which she asked me to step out of the her car, applied color on my face and made me meet her family (her sister, her brother and her mother). Everytime she took the money, she would come and talk to me and in the end uttered her rehearsed line"bhaiyya aapko bhagwaan khush rakhe" (Brother, May God keep you happy). I was not sure how much did God listen to her but somehow she did pass on some of that much needed positive energy to me.

Now, lets get back to the my drive to office on the next day to the demonetization announcement. I stopped at the same traffic signal I told you about. As I stopped my car, I noticed the begging girl excitedly running to me. I asked her to why was she so happy and ecstatic. She took out a five hunder rupee note from her pocket in the torn dress she was wearing. She told me "ek bahut acche sahab ne aaj pehli baar diya" (One very good gentleman gave me this for the first time). I was sure that she was not aware of the announcement that the five hundred rupee notes had been banned and that it was a mere piece of paper. She was so ecstatic at receiving the large currency that she even blessed the man infront of me "bhagwaan unko bahut khush rakhe" (May God keep him very happy).

I realised that I had little time to explain her about demonetization and then it would depress her. Instead I told her that if somebody saw that large currency with her, he will assume that she had stolen it from someone. And thus I took five of the hundred rupee notes from my wallet and asked her to change it for that one five hundred note she had. She was surprised as to why I did that but then I had built an image of a nice guy, so she agreed.

She then asked me as to where was my share of alms to her. I thought to tell her that I had given my share of alms to her by exchanging the notes but I took out my wallet and took out a 5 rupee coin and gave it to her. She looked at me and ran away saying "bhagwaan aapko bhi khush rakhe" (May God also keep you happy).

I  drove to office with my mind smiling at the idea that yes, that man who had given her the larger currency actually needed more blessings than me.

And befittingly the radio in my car played:

Maanaa apni jeb se fakeer hain, phir bhi yaaron dil ke hum ameer hain,
Mitte jo pyaar ke liye woh zindagi, chale bahaar ke liye woh zindagi
Kisi ko ho naa ho hamein to aitbaar hai, jeena isi ka naam hai
Kisi ki muskurahaton pe ho nisaar, kisi ka dard mil sake to le udhaar
Kisi ke waaste ho tere dil mein pyaar, jeena isi kaa naam hai...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Stories of wander

Picture clicked at Angkor Wat

“We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way, begin no day where we have ended another day; and no sunrise finds us where sunset left us. Even while the earth sleeps we travel. We are the seeds of the tenacious plant, and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of heart that we are given to the wind and are scattered.” 
                                                                                                            ― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

I am sure you would not have realised that I have been suffering from this writer's block. While I was able to weave ideas in my head, even narrate stories to my little cousin, but when I tried to write them on paper, it did not make much sense.

Last night I narrated a story about one of the serendipitous experiences of a well traveled woman. The story starts with the woman discovering a breathtakingly beautiful mosque while strolling around in Yousmarg, Kashmir. The mosque was so beautiful that it triggered a strong urge in her to witness the mosque from inside. But then, she noticed a board in Urdu which mentioned that women were not allowed in the mosque. She was remorsing over the idea of women not allowed in mosques and about other basic discrimination against women, that she saw a man (traveler looking) stepping out of the mosque. She reached out to him as to how mosque looked from inside. He also affirmed that the mosque was one of the most beautiful one he had seen, truly a hidden gem, ten times more beautiful than the ones in Istanbul or Iran. He showed her pictures (in his phone) of the murals and the engravings in the mosque's walls and ceiling. She realised that the mosque was really beautiful but the man was a bad photographer and he had not done justice to the beautiful mosque. Her craving to witness the mosque and click pictures increased multi-folds. The man, seeing her sad face, advised her that she could really sneak in; as there was no one inside the mosque.
The woman finally overcame her fear of being spotted by someone and sneaked in the mosque after he also agreed to come along her. She was overwhelmed with the beauty of the mosque and the artists who had created it. While she took out her DSLR camera to click pictures, one of the imams of the mosque came in. The imam calmly asked as to what was she doing inside as women were not allowed. The accompanying man (gave an expression of oh-is-it-women-are-not-allowed) told the maulvi that they did not notice any board outside to which the girl (also giving an expression of oh-is-it-women-are-not-allowed) nodded her head. The imam smiled at the girl and said that "I think females should be allowed in the mosques but lying shouldn't"....
And by then my cousin had slept on my lap and looking at her fairy like sleeping face, I thought of putting  the story on paper... .

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Story: Biography of a monk

A very revered monk once called his favourite disciple and informed him that his soul was going to leave his body (he was going to die) in a couple of days. He briefly gave the instructions of his last rites to the disciple which the young and the humble student sadly listened to and agreed to follow.

After the monk died, lot of people from various walks of life visited the funeral. It was a very modest funeral and there was a sense of calm throughout the last rites. It was during these rites, the disciple of the monk noticed that it was a woman who appeared to be saddest. Almost all people were sad (that their favorite monk had died) but then the woman's extreme sadness was quite conspicuous to the disciple.

Few months after the funeral, a famous biographer from Germany arrived at the monastery and sought cooperation from the disciple for he wanted to write a book on the monk. The disciple agreed to help the biographer with all facts about his favourite teacher. He also informed him about a woman who had arrived at the funeral and that she might be having something really special for the biography. Finally both the disciple and biographer searched for the woman and finally got to know that she lived in the mountains with her adopted family. The two people finally went on to meet her at her beautifully decorated house. But sadly, the two could not get anything from her as she blatantly told them that she was like yet another disciple and she used to follow his sermons on TV. The biographer and the disciple sadly left the mountain house with nothing from the graceful woman.

After few months, the book about the monk released and it became a best seller across continents. It also went on to become the second highest book to be sold across the world after the holy Bible.

Few months after the book's release, the disciple gathered himself and pondered over the teachings of the monk. His favorite teacher (monk) had taught him to follow the path of truth , sensitivity and curiosity. Thus, true to his teacher, the disciple left in search of truth to the woman who once had appeared to be the saddest to him. When he reached her house, she was angry to see him again. But he persisted and politely asked her to make him her disciple. She initially asked to go away as she was no teacher but then the disciple was persistent and adamant. He just asked her that he would stay with her and observe her. That would be the greatest learning as his monk had taught him that to observe a great soul is the biggest lesson one could undergo in life. The woman gave up to the persistence and agreed to keep him in the house. As the days passed ,the woman started developing sentimental ties with the kid for he reminded her of the monk.

Finally she told the monk's story to him:

Long back, in a very conservative town, the woman and the monk loved each other madly. Frustrated with the society, the monk constructed the idea of eloping with the woman to a distant land, which the woman reluctantly agreed. The monk charted the entire strategy of eloping and just gave one simple instruction to the woman to reach the railway station at a certain time. And like you guessed it, the woman didn't arrive and the monk had to leave the town alone.

The monk got dejected and assumed that the woman had chosen her family over him. He rushed to the mountains and took a vow of monkhood.  The monk also started undergoing the rigorous course of a monk. But after few months, the woman arrived looking for him and told him that she had missed the train. The monk got angry and asked her as to how can one miss the train of the lifetime. She politely reminded him of how casual she was with time and asked him to forgive her and leave monkhood for a happy marriage. The monk refused and said that he cannot take back his vow for monkhood.

The woman angrily left him with words of "Go to hell". Later they exchanged a lot of letters between them where the woman kept cajoling him as to leave monkhood and join her for a life rich of marital joys. She wrote to him that he was not meant for this boring monkhood but exciting bike trips, treks, hikes, building their own house, family and gardens.

Later, the persistent monk started becoming famous (in the world of monks) for he was a smooth talker and could heal souls with his long soulful speeches. His sermons were being attended by global thought leaders and lot of thesis on his teachings started being written by philosophers and spiritual leaders.

The old woman keenly followed the monk's speeches and teachings. She wrote him a letter as to how she found his teachings to be bullshit and mere crap. He replied her that he also agreed that they were bullshit and crap but lies and crap are what heal. He even wrote that all other religious teaching were equally crappy.

After the disciple heard the story, he asked her to show the letter where he stated that whatever he preached were bullshit. She agreed to show the letter to him.

Later the disciple left and wrote a book on the monk as the story of the bullshitter. This book went on to become the best seller, even beating the bible as the most sold book of all times.

But beyond everything, this book also marked the beginning of the revolution against all the religions and religious practices and thus an end to all the religions from the face of this world. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A story: Madness of healing

Once upon a time, on a beautiful journey, I was passing through a dense forest, when I heard a sad sobbing sound of a crying woman. I followed that sad sound and finally saw a middle aged woman sitting and crying under a tree. She appeared to me as one of the saddest persons in this world but also her sad  tearful face was the most beautiful face I had ever seen in this world. Her face was angelic and truly heavenly and I was deeply mesmerised by her face which glew due to the sadness on it. The sadness in her heart made that ordinary woman glow like a Goddess. I could not resist but sit there and continuously look at her. The woman kept on crying and crying exhaustively. She even fainted crying. I ran to the nearby stream and brought water to sprinkle on her face and also offered her some to drink which she reluctantly obeyed.

She came back into senses and I could notice her beautiful and tired eyes. I tried to calm her but then out of anger, she shouted and asked me to just run away from her face. I  obeyed her and sat under the next tree and looking at the beautiful tree, a thought came to my mind. The trees are so selfless and giving in their nature. They continue to give shade and oxygen to human beings irrespective of who they are (even to the man who cuts their branches). Sitting under the tree, I started memorizing the tree: its leaves, its barks, the trunk, everything. It had a calming effect on me.

The sad woman sitting by the next tree fainted again. I obeyed my heart, ran to her and sprinkled some water at her face. After she woke up, I offered her some fruits which I had plucked on my way. She picked them from my hand and threw them away out of anger and asked me to just run away. I told her that I could not because I chased beauty and she (due to her extreme sorrow) was the most beautiful person I had ever met. She shouted at me that I was mad and that her husband and son had died in an accident and thus she was angry at God and crying. I told her that to me: she was my God and that her face was a God's face. She shouted again at me and even hit me and asked me to run away and not show my ugly face again. I humbly obeyed and left her and sat by the tree I had memorized so deeply.

The sad woman didn't stop crying and due to lack of energy, she fainted again. I got up, sprinkled water on her face and offered her water to drink. This time, my persistence worked and she drank some water. Her face was glowing with grief and anger and I was feeling blank by her beauty. She asked me as to why I was so kind to her to which I replied that I was not kind, I was just being spiritual and serving my God (that was her).  She shouted that I had lost my mind and I was mad. I laughed and offered her some fruits to eat. She took one and threw it far. I knew she (my God) was angry at her God.

As the time passed, she gave in to my spiritual persistence which she thought was very mad. She ate the fruits offered and drank water I had brought from the stream. She started gaining her energy back. Later, she gathered the energy to stand and walk up to the stream. After months of serving her, I left her affirming that life was back in her.

I continued on to my mad journey of chasing beauty....

Thursday, January 14, 2016

That joy..

That joy of writing
Your thoughts on paper
Thoughts taking shapes
Some circular, some linear
Some unfinished, some drunken
All perfectly moulded, elegantly jotted
Without that care of being misunderstood
Neglecting the imperfect vocabulary
Well, that joy of writing..

That joy of travelling
To the far distant land
Across smiles, across hidden forests
To everywhere and nowhere
That wind kissing your face
That sea wave caressing your feet
Starlit skies, rolling wheels
Well, that joy of traveling..

That joy of dreaming
Through time, through space
Through metaphors and ironies
All craziness and haziness
Dancing through the mess
Ignored corners and melting flakes
All magical and divine around
Well, that joy of dreaming..

That joy of loving
Unconditionally, without possibilities
Sparkling in that completeness
Moments of togetherness and timelessness
Transgressing all other joys
Well, that joy of loving..

That joy of living
Slowly, lightly
Humorously, purely
Well, that joy of living..