Kavi Arasu

Some Quiet Between He & She

I found this gem on Fiona Tribe’s (@white_owly) twitter feed. So much so that I have been sitting with this for a bit now, seeking some quiet.

Our lives and our times are often bound by what goes in our head and what we think goes in another’s head! Its a deadly combination.

As I type this, I wonder what you think!?! 😉

I tell myself, ‘Perhaps it is necessary to quieten down a bit. In the mind. Especially, of what other people think.’ I reason, I will have reduced the chatter by 50%. While that is impeccable logic, I am immediately present to what would happen to my chatter about me if it others werent involved in it.

You see, whats the point?

Amidst all the noise, I think the way to get to quiet is to not start with an ideal picture of what quiet is and go after it. Perhaps let quiet evolve.

After a while that begins to make sense. I invite quite by being present to noise.

It makes sense to me.

Secret Destinations

Secret destinations are not so secret if you are not solely focused on the destination you came after. Martin Buber stitched travel to my heart with this immortal line.

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware”.

Martin Buber

We all go on our journeys. There is a said destination that a contented traveller gets to. But a real traveller goes far beyond. Because the destination is not the end point. Several story(ies) start after you arrive!

There are elements like what else you discover in a journey. Like the lay of the land and markers in its evolution. Like this glorious temple of a 1000 years. It’s historical undulations. Some scripted in stone and other new tales that are spun to suit today’s skies. The internet tells you about this land’s past glory, the minerals beneath it and the flow of the water across the hills and much else. You can drink all of it in like a voyeur with no skin in the game or like a lover who is immersed in her love.

The rich air tells you a few stories, only if you are ready to stop and take in a breath without necessarily being coveted by the dull lure of THE destination you came after. Sometimes, I infer my lessons by looking at the people and their ways. Their quick stride, the simple ways, easy smiles, the quite common afternoon snooze under the neem tree and the collective bath by the lakeside.

At night when I peruse my random notes to realise, secret destinations are not so secret if the focus is on curiosity and possibility beyond what is apparent.

Today, I make my notes sitting in the shade that the Sun and a 1000 year old wall come together to offer.

There are two others men there. Animated in conversation.

One tells another a story from history about the king and his valour. He speaks as though he has seen it first hand. Passionate. Lyrical. And filled with energy. I am hooked. The story meanders.

And suddenly, he looks into his watch and remembers that they have to be somewhere else by this time. The other agrees. Their destination interferes with a story that was building up well. Both of them get up, dust themselves up and move.

Leaving me with their incomplete story. I let the king stay within me whilst shuffling my feet and wondering what new secret destination awaits the king. And me.

Arrivals and Departures

I have been on a break and taking the time to examine the life I lead. Between quiet times, copious notes and filter coffee, unvarnished truths strut around. I hope to write and post some thoughts, ideas and “notes to myself” here. This post ‘Arrivals and departures’ is based on some notes I scribbled sitting at a roadside coffee shop.

Many moons ago, English August by Upmanyu Chatterjee gave me an unforgettable line. A line that I have used many times over now about arrivals and departures. It goes like this.

“The excitement of the arrival never compensates for the emptiness of the departure.”

Arrivals are filled with joy and celebration. A birth in the family. Joining a new organisation. Starting a new account. Buying a new car. Or a phone. Arrivals are joyous. Departures in contrast are quiet affairs. Sometimes, happening without a trace with a hint of “let’s get done with this quickly’. At other times, they are solemn. With a muffled tear, a hint of sadness or a full throated wail.

The ceremony of the arrival and departure obscures the time in between.

Arrivals and departures through the lens of learning and change

I view every new learning is an arrival of sorts. There is an aha moment and a flicker of bright lights. A new piece of information or skill brings a heightened moment of possibility filled emotion. There is a genuine happy emotion of discovery. An arrival that is filled with excitement.

But change is a different matter altogether. Change requires a ‘departure’ of a way of living or working or being. It requires a letting go for the letting in to happen. That is not an easy act. The excitement of picking up a new skill does not automatically translate to change happening. That is a long boring process by itself.

Every departure is its own arrival. And every arrival, a departure. To learn hard things quickly, you must focus intensely without distraction. To learn, in other words, is an act of deep work. If you’re comfortable going deep, you’ll not only win now, you will also develop the foundations for future victories.

If you instead remain one of the many who skim the surface, for whom depth is uncomfortable, life will be on the hamster wheel.

My current challenge levels at work have gotten me to stare at a new horizon. A horizon that spans newer geographies, greater scale and an incessant complexity that redraws the ‘Normal’. It’s a good problem to have for it reveals areas that I am out of depth in!

To discover new depths I have to depart from my old ways that have brought me success (and comfort). And for that, I have to depart from where I have been.

Arrivals and departures are inevitable part of our lives. When we live our lives consciously, we chart a plan to live by. In more than one way, it makes the journey worthwhile!

Good Design

The Netflix docu-series Abstract: The Art Of Design has been quite something. One of my favourites there is the one that features the Greek photographer Platon.

Perhaps it is my fledgling interest in photography (that has resolutely stayed fledgling). But, I would like to think that it is more than that. I think, it is at the core, the philosophy of design that that I deeply resonate with.

At the end of it, I asked myself ‘what is good design?’

Here are some sponataneous thoughts that emerged.

Good design goes beyond aesthetics. It is a seamless weave of form and functionality. To get to get to awesome design, you sure need imagination and a certain courage to go beyond immediate feedback.

But at the very core, design to me, is about how much you care.

Design manifests in subtle and obvious ways, when deep empathy and listening beyond what is said is the norm. Good design is often mistaken to be an outcome. It actually is a way of thought. Sure, it looks pretty and feels good. But if you look deeper than that, you would find that the designer ‘cared’!

I liked a couple of lines from the episode with Platon.

“Before a shoot I am not thinking of how can I get a good picture, but what can I learn from this person.”

“Taking a picture is very technical, but 99.9% of it is the connection that allows me to reach someone.  And through that connection, there’s just a chance you’re going to feel something too.”

Great design is about connecting with other people. That is something that I am inspired by and try to practice. Every single client interaction and consequent solution design is about care and empathy. At least, that’s my endeavour.

There is another widely held belief that good design is a function of awesome tools that you have. Sure, tools help. Heres my opinion: design that is purely a function of the tools at hand is a lazy mind at work.

Good design brings out the human in the other. It evokes an emotion. That’s a function of connections. Be it a photograph, a costume, car or a workshop, good design is a function of how much you really care.

That’s why good design is rare.

The Many Pleasures Of Reading

Last month a dear friend gifted me a book. A physical one. With smells, sounds and good old paper. It has pages that I can dog-ear. And write my notes. Circle. Underline. Etc.  And so, have revisited the pleasures of reading a physical book. It has done wonders to my reading. 

It didn’t quite start that way. When I unwrapped the gift to see books, the first thought was, where do I keep them? Skirmishes at home about my books and the space they occupy have been persistent. Peace has been wrought by sticking to the kindle. Until these books arrived.  

So, I left these books on a side table. I had to figure out how to get back to caressing a book while devouring what it held. Perhaps in the hesitating was a fear of falling in love with the physical book again. 

One of the books seemed to tug at me.  Chandrahas Choudhury’s “My Country Is Literature”.

 The back cover had this.

“A book is only one text, but it is many books. It is a different book for each of its readers. My Anna Kareninais not your Anna Karenina; your A House for Mr Biswas is not the one on my shelf. When we think of a favourite book, we recall not only the shape of the story, the characters who touched our hearts, the rhythm and texture of the sentences. We recall our own circumstances when we read it: where we bought it (and for how much), what kind of joy or solace it provided, how scenes from the story began to intermingle with scenes from our life, how it roused us to anger or indignation or allowed us to make our peace with some great private discord. This is the second life of the book: its life in our life.”

Those lines were enough to shed my romance and dive into experiencing the sensuous pleasures that only a book can kindle. Sorry about the stupid pun.

Anyway, I have read been devouring with great relish. This book is a collection of literary criticisms on the works of an esoteric set of writers. Perumal Murugan. Orhan Pamuk. Sadat Hasan Manto. Nehru. Junichiro Tanizaki. Manu Joseph. And several others.

I have been slow reading. Rereading. Fast reading. Beginning all over again. There is no bar at the bottom of the page that tells me I have finished 43% of the book. The volume of fresh pages on my right palm are inviting by their weight and crisp edges. So I go slow. 

A Library Of Emotions For The Pleasures Of Reading

In the middle of all this, another dear friend sent this message on whatsapp.

“I think Emerson wrote somewhere that a library is a kind of magic cavern which is full of dead men. And those dead men can be reborn, can be brought to life when you open their pages.

Speaking about Bishop Berkeley (who, may I remind you, was a prophet of the greatness of America), I remember he wrote that the taste of the apple is neither in the apple itself—the apple cannot taste it- self—nor in the mouth of the eater. It requires a contact between them.

The same thing happens to a book or to a collection of books, to a library. For what is a book in itself? A book is a physical object in a world of physical objects. It is a set of dead symbols. And then the right reader comes along, and the words—or rather the poetry behind the words, for the words themselves are mere symbols—spring to life, and we have a resurrection of the word.”

Borges, Jorge Luis, from his book This craft of verse

My mind right now is like a meadow sprouting all kinds of green after a luxurious spell of afternoon rain. And as dusk falls, birds and insects chirp away. Strange calls and uncommon sounds seem to festoon the night ahead as I look at the pages ahead. A strange set of emotions that are beyond the stuff in the common library of emotions.

That’s what reading a book does to me. How I love “what have you been reading lately?” to bibliophiles like Manu!

The many pleasures of reading are best left unexplained. For explanation does it more harm than good. I can say that with certainty after writing all this.

Enough

A while ago, I was a meeting with my Financial Advisor. Frankly, it wasn’t a meeting I was looking forward to. Enough said, he was an affable chap but my finances had become a problem pile under the table. Packed away and relegated to that space every time the topic came up.

The Financial Adisor was a solid man. His affability did not come in the way of his plain speaking.  

He is a well meaning chap and he is also in business.  He told me that I have to factor for inflation, key life events and my aspirations.  And to maintain a decent lifestyle, I would have to put together a tidy sum.

It ensured sleepless nights. The tidy sum was one part. The bigger part was looking into the future and picturing how it would all be.

The whole conversation got me thinking about enough. 

Amongst all things I became present to, I could clearly see how my goalposts shifted over the years. With every passing year, ‘enough’ has hardly stayed stable. I jotted some random thoughts that morning. I pull them out now and then. Last week I was reading them after hearing Morgan Houssel speak.

Eleven reminders

Here are eleven specific points from those notes.  Syncopated. Keeping dive in mind! It’s only February. 🙂   

1. Innocuous temptations are the first steps to the grand palace of avarice. It is important to begin staying mindful to where it all begins.

2. To add is easy. To remove from the list is tough. Buying is energising. To prune, is necessary action.

3. To add emotion to a material possession is dangerous to mental health.

4. Cultivating simple habits, routines leading up to an affordable life is as important (if not more) as building a corpus.

5. Meaning and purpose that comes from service and purpose provides immense energy and push.

7. Buying for need trumps buying because it is possible to buy! Or that it will be delivered in fifteen minutes. Or ten.

8. Taking good care of material possesions is important is key. Just thinking of what it took for an object to get shaped into something of value, can be a mind boggling discovery!

9. Engaging relationships, people and community bring great joy now and over time.

10. What is enough needs an early and firm decision. Something that will not move.

11. The single most important possession is the body and mind. To keep the first one safe and the other, sane is comes before all of the above.

Rich stuff

I remember infinitely rich conversations with people who did not let their material wealth intrude their ways of life and relationships.

They were curious about the human mind and its many dimensions. The horizons they sought to discover were often at the edge of their own comfort zones. Their offices were spartan and neat.

That is my aspiration.

On a subsequent meet with my financial planner, I told him about my aspirations. It was his tun to look at me with bewilderment.

Enough has not been said about enough. Or has it been? Whichever way you think of it, enough is always enough. At least that’s what happened I learnt from my financial planner.

He never saw me again.

A Man For All Seasons

Vivek Patwardhan is a quintessential gentelman who through his life, exemplifies the phrase ‘a man for all seasons’! In a quiet, unassuming yet definitive way. He has been that way since the time I met him first.

Let me spare you the effort of looking up “A man for all seasons”. While it stands for someone who is talented and successful in many areas, the origin of the phrase interests me. Robert Whittington, wrote this of Thomas More in 1520

“More is a man of an angel’s wit and singular learning. I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness and affability? And, as time requireth, a man of marvelous mirth and pastimes, and sometime of as sad gravity. A man for all seasons.”

[ From that line comes the famous play (& a much awarded moved later on) on Thomas Moore, bearing the title : “A Man For All Seasons”].

Vivek Patwardhan has been many things to me over the years. I won’t write them all down here for the words do not do justice to the depth of what it means to me. Besides, this post is not about me. It is about a book Lulu Duologues. His book.

Lulu Duologues

Vivek has been an intrepid blogger (amongst other things) for several years now. Sometime in his blogging journey, Lulu started chirping in. The delightful chirping brough gave voice to silent thoughts and unvoiced questions that dont surface in regular conversation. And in doing so, Lulu has been a treat to look forward to and a treasure to cherish.

Lulu has been chirping away for 11 years now. I was more than delighted when a book emerged. A compilation of all Lulu blogposts over several years. (Re)Reading them brought both nostalgia and new perspective.

As I read the book, I realised that most events are transitory. The questions that such events evoke stay for far longer. I must say that this book has held insight way beyond its easy chirping.

I will be chatting more with Vivek Patwardhan over the next few weeks and bringing alive new insights. As a starter, I dropped a few questions into his inbox and the responses came faster than the speed of light.

Here they are. My questions. And answers. from the man for all seasons. By the way, here’s something that I wrote about him in 2009

What propels you to write and share? It is not easy to do it on such a sustainable basis?

I always wanted to write. But there were no opportunities in school where one could do it. When I enrolled for the science college, I had moved from Marathi medium of instruction to English. The college required us to attend tutorials in English. The tutor often praised me and appreciated my writing. She used to give assignments in creative writing. I used to cringe at the praise because I knew my English was poor. I mentioned it to her often. But the tutor often told me not to think of the grammar and focus on the story.

When I started editing the Company’s Marathi magazine, I had no choice but to write regularly. A few of my editorials and articles earned appreciation. The highest point of appreciation came when Dr Narendra Dabholkar (Read about him here ) called up to ask my consent to publish my article, originally published in Company’s magazine, in ‘Sadhana’ a highly reputed Marathi magazine. (I do not know whether my article actually got published, perhaps not, because another commercial magazine published it, probably before Sadhana!). Mr Suneel Karnik, who is a renowned editor of Marathi books has encouraged me time and again, and he still does!

As I moved to a new role in the company, international travel became frequent. So I wrote travelogues some of which were published by Marathi magazines. At the Rotary Club I was asked to interview and write short introduction of members. I found life story of each one interesting; the exercise gave me tremendous insights in how people handle success, conflicts and relationships in general. There was so much to think and write about. I must have read more than twenty biographies as my interest in the lives of people developed.

Experiences, our own as well as those of others, become food for thought. When I wrote, some were reflected in my writing. It is difficult to say how or which got reflected, but I know that the source of my writing was people, their relationship with self and others, and the way their lives were shaped by their relationships with the world.

I worked in Human Resource Management arena. You see how people behave individually and collectively.

I began to see so much drama in all events. Real life is unimaginably different and stranger than fiction. Art is imitating life, as they say, but not adequately enough. Let me tell you what I discovered last month. Please recall the scene in the movie Sholay. Gabbar Singh asks Hema Malini to dance over broken glass splinters and threatens to shoot Dharmendra is she stops. Now here is the true story of Dr Edith Eger. In 1944 she was a 16 years old ballerina and was sent to Auschwitz – she was a jew. She underwent terrible experiences, one of which was that she was made to dance for Josef Mengele.( Read about him here ). He was called the angel of death, he performed deadly experiments on the prisoners of Auschwitz. And Edith survived the holocaust, went to USA and became a very well-known psychiatrist. I am reading her book ‘The Choice.’

I am amazed at the people’s ability to engage in actions of extreme cruelty; and I am also amazed at people’s ability – which Edith demonstrated – to make a life-positive or life-assertive choice.

All this becomes the material from which some thoughts emerge for writing.

Now the next part of the question: you said, ‘It is not easy to do it on such a sustainable basis.’

You introduced me to blogging and that was in 2008. Blogging permits you to do ‘Self-Publishing’. You can write whatever you wish and publish it at will, of course, as long as it conforms to certain norms of writing and publishing. I retired in mid – 2009. In that one year, I realised the full power of blogging.So much so that I had five blogs running at one stage – one for my English blogs, one for HR related blogs, one on which we wrote limericks, one was a photoblog and one on which my Marathi articles were published.

If you put together all the work, and exclude Photo blogposts, I have published more than 1500 blog posts! That works out to one every three days! The count of Lulu blogs alone comes close to 200.

Coming back to what propels me to write and share? I write as I introspect. Writing is my way of introspection. I have been writing ‘morning pages’ for twelve or thirteen years. Writing is helps me take an objective view of an event or experience. And sometimes the pen takes over and writes something which you had no thought at a conscious level! Those can be epiphanies. Though it happens only once in a while, I have got ‘addicted’ to it. The probability of finding some deep meaning in an event or experience is higher than finding a diamond in a mine!

What have been some moments that stay in memory with Lulu, over the years. (When did you start out, how many have you got so far, what’s the best public response, what were you surprised by, what has not been so nice etc)?

The first Lulu blog I wrote in May 2009, on the verge of my retirement. At that juncture you look back on your life. My mother’s death, it was a euthanasia, has stayed on my mind. Time may have blunted the pain a little bit, but it still remains a bleeding wound.

I was copying Behram Contractor (Busybee who published a daily column ‘Round and About’ in The Evening News of India and then in The Afternoon Courier and Despatch)in style.) He used to speak to his dog Bolshoi. Yet Lulu was not invented. And then one day I started writing blogs as dialogues with Lulu, my parrot.

I was also inspired by VishramBedekar’s autobiography ‘Ek Zad ani Don Pakshi’. He refers to shlokas in Mundaka Upanishad, the meaning of which [as explained by Bedekar] is that two birds are perched on the tree of life. One eats the sweet fruits but is sad and weak, and the other does not eat anything but he is strong and analyzing looking at the first one. Bedekar’sautobiography is written as if the second bird is talking about the author, in other words, it is written as a third person account of the author’s life, with his thoughts and reflections on the events in his life. That was certainly another source of inspiration.

Public response has been interesting and varied. At our HR group meetings people often asked about Lulu. Some referred to me as the creator of Lulu. And believe it or not, many persons actually asked me if I kept a parrot as a pet!

I also discovered that people enjoyed a conversation or a dialogue more than an article. Perhaps they imagine they are also a party depending which side of the issue they are, or quite simply they are amused.

I have always found this interesting. For fifteen years, I travelled by Mumbai’s ‘local’ trains. The journey would take at least forty minutes, sometimes longer. I used to observe people. The number of persons who eavesdrop on the discussion between two unknown persons is shockingly high! They usually do not interrupt, but you can see the reaction on their faces when a joke or story is told.

This may be not a very respectful to my readers, but all of us like to eavesdrop on conversations. That could be a reason why a blog in conversation form is more attractive!

About criticism, many friends told me that I ‘reveal’ too much. The ‘Mother’s Day” blog, another one about my reaction when my father was leaving for hospital are some blogs where they felt so. But I write for ‘Svant-Sukhay’ as they say in Sanskrit, or my own pleasure. I feel deeply held emotions should be expressed to lighten your soul, and writing is my way.

When I published Experience and Explanation in which I mention my surprise at the surreal experience of my wife, I thought I was trading a thin line of public acceptance. It was a true experience. My wife comes from a very orthodox Brahmin family and you don’t expect her to be touched by some power in a durgah! But it happened!! I am sure it must have happened to many, but when it comes to Hindu-Muslim terrain, it takes a political turn in our country. Surprisingly nothing like that happened. A friend who is a celebrity and a devout Muslim actually appreciated and said he would discuss such experiences with me when we meet.

There is a child in me which tests the acceptable levels of boundaries of any subject. I have done it in the case of Kasab too, but not in Lulu format. What I have learnt is that individually people of all religions are magnanimous and to a large extent inclusive. But things change dramatically when they make a group!

As I mentioned earlier, I have written almost 200 Lulu blogs, and there is enough to write about.

If Lulu was to come in front of you, what would it say? What would you say?

Lulu is my alter ego, so in a way it will be like looking in the mirror. ‘Mirror Gazing’ as they call it. When we look into the mirror we rarely look in to our eyes. We see our dress, our appearance. Looking in to one’s eyes is not easy; it can be discomforting. It requires self-acceptance. Meeting Lulu will test my self-acceptance. You are asking me what would I say if I meet Lulu. I may not say anything, I may not even challenge his statements, yet it can be a disturbing and yet a revealing meeting.

In my blog on my mother, he accuses me of being a hypocrite giving ‘being busy’ as a reason for not meeting my mother often. In my blog on my father,Lulu accuses me of ‘not being authentic’ in interacting with him. I am unable to refute those allegations. Meeting Lulu is unnerving, yet cathartic!

What would you tell the average Lulu Reader about how to read the book. Especially so, because it is written for a different medium quantity of consumption (blog length) versus the chapter length in the book?

These ‘chapters’ can be read in any sequence. I have often exceeded 750 words which is the recommended length of a blog post. But those chapters are also not too long, any chapter can be finished in three minutes. A friend advised readers not to read more than five to seven chapter in one go. His point was that the issue or dilemma of discussion often touched the reader’s heart and it was godo to stop and reflect.

As much as you have shaped Lulu, I think Lulu would have also shaped you? How have you changed over the years, when you look back?

Yes. Repeatedly writing Lulu blog posts is exploring my own mind, and publicly so! I have learnt that purpose, empathy and reason are the three aspects of our everyday action. Those must be consciously practised. I am making every effort to do it. It is a process of learning. I have to discard my typical responses to any question or information. I have to check whether all my response conform to the three tests of purpose, empathy and reason.

Like all people I have changed, or so I would like to believe, and changed very gradually for people to notice. I believe that my responses today to everything have a higher ingredient of empathy, reason and purpose. My response to criticism has changed. I feel my self-awareness has gone a few notches up.

And I have to ask my wife if my statements are true!

How has the book been received?

The book is received well. Many friends called up and mentioned. Reviews of the book are also good. Some reviewers have liked that format, meaning dialogue with a parrot, a very interesting way of writing. A few friends said that the cover could have been better and more attractive. Some readers liked the wide range of subjects covered in duologues. One reader called it a mesmerising experience to read the book. I am aware of the sale of this book in UK too. All liked that idea of conversations with a parrot. So overall a happy experience.

What are your plans ahead?

I will keep writing for my own sake and use blogging with Lulu as a tool of introspection. Lulu blogs have unleashed creativity. I am dabbling in photography, street photography in particular. It is fascinating! I make one sketch a day. I am better at sketching than painting, so I intend to work on my watercolour painting too. In October 2021 I went to London and stayed there for three months. I started Travel journaling. In other words, I have lost inhibitions and I am experimenting with anything that holds my interest.

My plan is to influence the younger members of my family, my grandchildren in particular to experiment with all art forms and learn some at maestro level. And do it without any inhibitions.

I am also a trustee of an NGO called Aroehan. It works to bring about sustainable change in tribal communities. We are working to ensure all children go to school, and they are not malnourished. We want to halt migration of labour. We are working on livelihood issues. I am pained to see how society has ignored them. I intend to my little bit for the cause.

Clarity Of Distance

A photograph clicked on Christmas Eve, 1968 reminds me of the stellar virtues of clarity of distance. A clarity that helps see far more than whats on display.

“You got a colour flim Jim?
Hand me that roll of color quick, would you..”

Thats the simple conversation that preceded the spectacular snap. A conversation that was commonplace in an era preceding the digital camera era.

The result, a spectacular picture that later came to be known as Earthrise. A picture of the Earth, captured by astronauts Wiliam Anders from the surface of the moon.

Here’s a line from the wikientry for Earthrise: On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission in 2018, Anders stated:

“It really undercut my religious beliefs. The idea that things rotate around the pope and up there is a big supercomputer wondering whether Billy was a good boy yesterday? It doesn’t make any sense. I became a big buddy of [atheist scientist] Richard Dawkins.”

Over the years, the photograph has become iconic for it reminds me, amongst other things, the fraglity of Eath and the need for us to take care of it. When I see it used by conservationists, I remind myself that the picture that spurs us into action on the ground beneath is taken thousands from of miles away! In fact, it comes from the surface of the moon. Talk about disatnce!

The Clarity of Distance

The busy humdrum of everyday life gives us little opportunity to think about how we are living it! Over the last few months, one of the most imporatnt lessons I have learnt (again) is the relvance of going inwards and the power of silence. Distancing ourselves from our everyday life helps us see it in better light.

Silence.
Observation.
Reflection.
Conversation

All help. Importantly, they help bringing about clarity on the life we lead. That’s how it

Silence brings awareness of paterns. Both of the promising and the disturbing variety. Whenever I speak of silence I notice how initimadating it is for people. It needn’t be. I am not speaking of Viaasana but the act of conscious reflection by going inwards.

When we do, we become present to whats happening within. We become aware of shifting contexts.

For the last few months, I have also had other elements to help with the silence. Those have been writing, walking and pursuing activities device free.

All have left me with a bunch of thoughs and ideas. And a reinforced belief in clarity of distance.

Even as I state this, I am well aware that action is deeply entrenched in our daily life as a default preference. It is prized and celebrated and any suggestion of silence and reflection invites quizzical looks if not downright dismissal. I can unequivocally state that action guided by reflection and silence has substantially augmented strength.

Try.

Commentary

I can’t write about Earthrise, and the clarity of distance it brings to me, without Carl Sagan’s commentary on the Pale Blue Dot. By the way, If this isnt powerful enough to set context for the time ahead, I don’t know what will. 🙂

Let’s Dive Into 2022

Its been a while and this is a fresh dive. Over the last few months, I vowed myself into silence on most platforms and friendships. The focus was on how quiet I could become and stay silent. Searching for meaning and purpose as we dealt with change, losss, awareness.

Perhaps, implicit in that search was a fond hope that at the end of it, there will be a renewal of sorts. A pot of gold, if you will!

September. October. Novermber. December. Each month came. And went. Like passing clouds. Somewhere I drew a line in the sand for the silence. 2021.

Every passing day of 2021, the quiet, the work and deep private conversations have left me clutching new ideas and plans. And just like that, 2021 ended. And it is 2022.

Happy New Year

For the past several years I have put out a word of the year. Last year I sat down to reflect on the year gone by, my own aspirations for the future, talked to people and then chose one word. Adding meaning and structure to something that was more whimsical earlier. And then, the year took over. I never got to post it. So much for planning!

This year, I hope to do better. On all fronts. And perhaps there is an ounce more of energy powering that statement. (Does this count as a renewal?)

Previous posts are here and here.

Dive

Yes. Dive. Thats the word of the year for me for 2022. The dictionary states that dive is “to plunge into water intentionally and especially headfirst”.

Well thats a pretty accurate verb for my aspirations for the year.

There are ever so well made plans that need focused execution.
There is work and research to deep dive into.
Yes, the water is cold and God knows how I will land, but then, I won’t know until I dive!

Shel Silverstein is a personal favourite.

He says it like no one else.

You’ve been up on that diving board
Making sure that it’s nice and straight.
You’ve made sure that it’s not too slick.
You’ve made sure it can stand the weight.
You’ve made sure that the spring is tight.
You’ve made sure that the cloth won’t slip.
You’ve made sure that it bounces right,
And that your toes can get a grip
And you’ve been up there since half past five
Doin’ everything… but DIVE

And the little miss..

The little miss adds a twist or two that completes my thoughts. She has never failed to do so. Not this time either.

She painted those fun dolphins, when I spoke to her about Dive.

And according to her, the best way to dive is to do it with friends.
And then, you always come up refreshed after a dive!

Plus, Dolphins are fun to be with and intelligent beings. “You are intelligent, arent you?”, she asks. Some questions, I leave for another time. This one belongs to that category!

For now, I am staying focused on ‘Dive’! Thats good enough! 🙂

In the spirit of diving, I hope to be more regular here. Let’s dive into 2022

Happy New Year people.

Teachers

Teachers make a difference. Chief amongst all the blessings I have have had is having good teachers in life. Kind giants, if you will, who lend their broad shoulders for me to clamber on.

Many have been teaching me formally. That is their task. They get me to understand concepts and ideas. But where they stand much taller, is that they have made me a seeker long after they have moved on to other students.

There are others who didn’t / don’t have a formal role of being a teacher. Yet, by their way of being, humble and curious, they stay profound. They shape me.

Teachers take other forms. Friends. Team mates. Help. Mentors. Teachers. Coaches. Partners. Clients. Colleagues. Managers. Professors. Family. Kids. Etc.

As I toggle my memory today, I realise that the teachers who have been getting me interested in whatever I learn have been the ones that are primarily interested in me. They have prodded and nudged. Sometimes pushed and shoved.

Always helping me stretch far beyond where a point that I would have stopped without them doing so! Most others times, my teachers have made it interesting for me to take one more step. Without judging me on the outcomes I had to show for it.

My father, sat me down one day, decades ago and spoke of Gibran. I remember a setting Sun and strong filter coffee as we discussed these lines

No man can reveal to you aught but that
which already lies half asleep in the dawn-
ing of your knowledge.    

The teacher who walks in the shadow of
the temple, among his followers, gives not
of his wisdom but rather of his faith and
his lovingness.    

If he is indeed wise he does not bid you
enter the house of his wisdom, but rather
leads you to the threshold of your own
mind.   

The astronomer may speak to you of his
understanding of space, but he cannot give
you his understanding.
.
.
For the vision of one man lends not its
wings to another man.

And as we sat with those last lines, I remember him talking about the need to be ready to receive. But to stay present to the responsibility of building my own wings.

That is exactly what every teacher who has been part of my life has nudged me to do. In their own ways.

On a rained out day like today, I sit and ponder how many lifetimes it would take to repay the generosity of my teachers.