You Are Enough

Occasionally, there is one message that surfaces on Whatsapp that staves off the deletion of the app from the phone! This video below is one such. It got me thinking. Reflection lead to journaling. And on a long haul flight, I typed this out in my personal journal. With warts and all that. And on a whim, am posting it on the blog. It has an interesting theme: You are enough.

We live in a world where there is a constant strife for more. Even as that cancer scrounges everything that the Earth has and more, there is one more (worse) cancer that has seized us all. That is the feeling that we somehow are all ‘inadequate’. That who we are, as we are, is not enough. Where we seek something to complete us!



The seeking for something to complete our own feeling of inadequacy is cancerous. Can we ever get completed by a material object? If so, how long? It is a silly song playing on your shiny new phone on a loop mode. The song that the soul needs, you will catch yourself humming when you are exerting yourself doing something worthwhile.

Does that mean, we should not strive to get better? No. That’s not the point. The central theme is this: Completion happens within. Completion begins with the belief that I am complete! Completion begins with accepting myself with my warts. Completion begins with me changing as a person. That change comes about through conversation, having multiple experiences, reflecting on these experiences. And changing over a period of time. Completion is not available for home delivery. No, it’s not in the store down the road or on the internet to download.

Completion is not the end. Perhaps its a recognition that there is no need for any completion but to live in the moment. To just be. To reflect and adjust sails to get better at ‘just be’. The power to begin the internal change starts with recognising that there is nothing to fix. There is nothing broken.

But a morphing to something is inevitable. And as the morphing happens, the opportunity to shape the change and morph is present. Not beginning with an inadequacy but a desire to get better as a living being.

Change happens all around.  The world changes to adapt to the change. Everyone changes with time. Some more. Some less. Sometimes consciously and at other times, otherwise. To remain conscious and stay light can keep us going towards living richer lives.

Lives where I don’t need material objects to complete me. Where the seeking for change is not from inadequacy but from the shaping of an inevitable: Change!



These chaps, they used to be regulars at the garbage dump near home. So much so that if they missed a day, it showed. On the garbage dump.

At first, nothing seemed abnormal to the mind. One day, perhaps when the eyes were really ‘seeing’, a question popped.

‘What do these chaps eat in a garbage dump’ ? A dump that was a collection of discards from middle class housing board colony ! Old magazines and discarded report cards. Perhaps old love letters and recent bills.

Or maybe it was the worn out dress with fresh designs, left by the milk that went sour. And such else.

And in a short while, the bigger question popped up. Since when did horses start feeding on garbage !

It took some intelligent souls to let my primitive brain know that these were not exactly ‘horses’ but some sort of ‘crosses between horses and donkeys’.

Ok. So ?

The answer trail didnt lead anywhere. Infact the trail stopped right there. ‘What’ they ate, ‘how’ they ate and ‘how come’ they ate garbage, didnt occur to (m)any !

In a typical worldly way, It was satisfactory to all that lived there, that some work on the garbage happened. So, this unanswered question still stays unanswered.

And i wondered, what other beings live off garbage.

Quick realisation dawned, about that being a very tricky question. If you include metaphorical references of ‘species living on garbage’…well, the entire world will have to get mentioned.
Isnt it ?

All the mega serial and news channel followers. Of all the political analysts who will comment on TV about your cat, if you call it Cabama ! Of all those that hurtle after those wierd material stuff. As wierd as as a Rs.11.00 lacs ( Approx $23,000) pen in the name of Mahatma Gandhi !

The list is endless. And ofcourse, includes the writers that dish trash, and trashers that dish out blogs.

So, leaving out such metaphorical references, what else have you seen live off garbage !?!

But then, who defines what is ‘garbage’ !?! For example, these half asses must think of me to be a complete ass, to label their principal source of sustenance & living, ‘garbage’ !

And, so must the others.


Collateral Damage

You have been reading the papers too. In the hurry of the morning minute. Somethings register. Many things dont. But today you are in the market. The missus has brought you here. By force. It doesnt take long for you to realise whats been lurking in the dark corridors of the mind.

That you are far removed from the reality of the real world.

You wonder if you are part of the burgeoning numbers of escapists. Not for long. For you know. Educated. Desk worker. Working out of cubicles cleaned by contracted organisations to the sound of noiseless air conditioners.

Lost in a mirage filled canopy of busy ness. In perpetual quest of aggrandisement of self-importance. All under the garb of work !! Attending meetings, making presentations, sending mail, seeking approvals and giving feedback ! ofcourse, all over many cups of tea.

Today, you hear the missus bargain with the vegetable vendor. In marathi. For obvious reasons, you feel safe in her company. You hold the bag. She bargains. Brinjal. Cauliflower. Onions. You hear the prices. And baulk.

You remember reading in the papers about inflation and such else. But arent quite prepared for this.

You remember going to the market as a young boy. Shopping for the family. At these prices, you think you could have bought out every chap out there. You are still reeling from the surprise. Of the prices.

And, you realise, what irks you more is how distant you are from the masses.You follow the missus. Shop after shop. Carrying that bag. Wondering, how people make a living at these prices.

The security gaurd who perhaps would make as much as your monthly grocery bill. The chap who cleans the car who perhaps would make half of that. The maid who mops the floor. The shop boy who fetches the product. You wonder.

The weight of the bag of vegetables isnt as heavy as the thoughts that run past you. You wince.

That night, long after your trip to the market, you are in bed. A book in hand. Reading lamp on. The book that usually sets some thoughts afire is miles away from a strand of a spark. Restless thoughts still roam the market that you went to.

You realise how fortunate and cocooned you are. You make resolutions about sharing. About awareness. About staying light. You feel better. Slightly.

The missus senses something amiss. You sense she has sensed something too. The air stays quiet. Interrupted by honks and wailing sirens faded by the distance. This city isnt called maximum city for nothing. Making a living despite all odds is what gets you by.

She clears her throat. And says, ‘you know in some time we can apply for a new loan’. You sit up. Half in trepidation. For you dont know where this is headed. ‘I have the collaterals ready’.

Your ears perk up. Like a deer who hears the rustle of dead leaves as the cheetah gallops towards it. “In some time the collateral will have enough value to make the bank chap sit up” …..

In the silence. You sit up. Half a tremor seeps through as you mutter ‘and what is that’

‘Two bags of cauliflowers. At current prices….’. Her voice trails.

You smile. Close the book. Say your prayer to the lord up there. And thank him for his large mercies.


There has been a new wind that’s been blowing at home. And the wind is about losing flab. In fact, cutting flab dramatically !

Before you say, ‘oh no, not again’, stay with this post. The flab fighting on the body isn’t headed anywhere close to a photo finish. Its a lost cause. A non-starter. Lets move on. The quicker the better.

This post is about the house. The house, you see, has accumulated flab. Over the years. Possessions galore. ‘Possessions galore’ can seem to be a pompous boast of a vain man.

Only here, the possessions that are being talked about are not exactly ones that a wealth manager smile. So.

What would this wealth manager say, if he was shown cupboards of books, files, magazines, folders, paper clippings. etc.

Some dating twenty years. From the days of Narasimha Rao and Ronald Reagan. Old magazines. India Today. Time Magazine. Business Today and the like.

Artifacts picked along the way. Like, the odd stationary bill from a store that’s since been gulped down by a mall that intimidates by the sheer size of its parking lot !

A menu card from a fancy hotel. Flicked to rekindle in an unforeseeable future, the memories of a special evening with special people !

Overhead projector sheets from the first corporate presentation made, which seem today to be almost the time when the dinosaurs hatched their 11the egg.

Discussion notes from organisations organisations who helped pay the bills in an earlier time. Copies of mails. Approvals and such else. Heaps of study material. ‘Extra reading’ printouts . Notes from training programs that have long been forgotten.

Wedding invitations of friends who have now progressed to attend Parent-Teacher meetings and now organise dinners based on the tuition teacher’s calendar !

Bus tickets. Train tickets back home. Travel pamphlets from Bangkok to Bombay. Shimla to Sivakasi ! And beyond !

Books & small artifacts. Some picked specifically as memorabilia. Others accumulated in intense lazy stupour. Of course, each pregnant with a story of its time and place. As the hand ran a cloth to drive the dust away, a million memories got dusted too.

Four racks in the cupboard were emptied with the ferocity of Bruce Lee felling opponents in ‘Enter the Dragon’ ! Strange noises et al ! The remnants of the tearing, throwing and mowing remained on the floor for sometime.

Not very later, gunny bags of the ‘old newspaper’ chap held them. With grimace and glee ! Twenty odd years of accumulation. Carefully clipped newspaper cuttings. Innocently flicked menu cards. Carelessly kept old bills. Study material from a different age. Reviews. Publications. Occupying four racks of the cupboard. Moving along the many houses. City to city.

All gone. It required two trips on a bicycle like this. In a four hour span. They were gone.

We live an age were Google is a verb. Space is a perpetual constraint. Dust beats the Gods in omnipresence. And of course, the daily day offers new possibilities for life and living, much unlike any time before. Perhaps, the nimble mind, without baggage will soak it all up well. So is the case with homes ! That logic beat nostalgia’s seductive presence !

Net result : All gone. You would have expected the missus to have jumped with joy. Happy she was. But, she was a tad upset too.

For all of this yielded her a mega sum of Rs. 129/- ! The care with which these were preserved and the 20 year time stamp on some, seems to have had her imagining something like an inheritance from Bill Gates or someone !

‘Rs.129. Huh’. Was all that was heard.

So much for flab !

A – 1 bliss

Take a look at this snap.

Those green chillies hanging like a string of wall decoration are sure to catch the eye. In some time, they will be dipped in flour, fried in oil and served with a flourish. Chilly Bhaji ! And as this is getting written, the ‘mouth watering’ phenomenon sees new levels of inundation.

Those are for another time though. Take a look at the name of the Tea – Stall : ‘A-1 tea stall.’ Now, that is something, isn’t it !

This must be a hybrid of two superlatives. ‘A Class’ and ‘Number One’ ! Both ‘A’ and ‘1’ by virtue of being the first off the starting blocks of their respective series, take pole position as they say in F-1 ( notice the ‘1’) races !

The modern day world has no time, money and patience for that is B grade ( or C or D or anything else for that matter). Similar is the case of positions 2,3…etc !

There is a vast array of products. That are sold as ‘A-1’ quality. ‘A-1’ leadership position. ‘A-1 taste’ and so on. A double reinforcement of sorts !

The effort to belong to / be SEEN on top of the heap is mind boggling. And after all that effort, how must it feel to continue to be, part of the heap !

As the mind masticates that thought in a way that would make a cow hang its jaw in bitter shame, inundation due to the mouth watering are a swallowed tale.

This shop, is set in the chill of Kodai. Serving chili bhaji, tea and coffee. The chill of the hills, offset by the heat of the bhaji and the aromatic milk laden, sugar soaked tea, (re)defines ‘bliss’ !

So ?

You see, this A-1 tea stall, indeed attracts crowd. How much of it was because of they calling themselves ‘A-1’ is a question that begs no answer. At its supreme best, all that the question can get, is a smirk from the missus.

Of course, when the servings redefine bliss, whats in a name. But, would it make a difference if they called themselves ‘B-2 Masala tea’ ?!?

Perhaps. Perhaps not! There is something that has no ‘perhaps’ to it here : The bhaji and masala tea.

Well, that taste…that’s bliss. Perhaps its important say it properly. …’bliss of A-1 quality’ !

3 boys and many potholes

7.40 AM. Mumbai

Three boys. All seemingly of different age groups stare at me through the windshield. In between their animated chatter. Two of them in football costume.

The goods van in which they travel hits a pot hole. And another. In a short while my tyres hit the same potholes. I wince. And then let out a yelp as the spine feels the shock offered by the pothole.

I look ahead at the boys. They don’t seem to bother. With all of steel flooring of a good vehicle for a seat, and a metal ledge as a support to hang legs…well.. can be pretty painful. Especially, given the size and strategic battlefield like location of these potholes.

I look at the boys ahead. They seem to be discussing something of importance. I cant fathom what. More importantly, i cant fathom how such potholes dont evoke a flicker of the eyelid!

They smile. They chatter. The one boy that sits on the ledge holds a string that hangs from the roof. Occasionally. Almost by reflex. That’s the only sign that the goods carrier didn’t have superior shock absorbers.

And as each pothole approaches, my heart skips a beat. Most for them. Part for me. The goods carrier hits the pothole. They don’t flinch. And when it comes to my turn, it hurts.

Is it age? Is it youthful exuberance? Is it the joy of company? Is it passion ? Is it football ? Is it joy? Is it holiday season?. Hypotheses galore !

I wonder how it would be to preserve this spirit for a lifetime. To face life’s potholes. And they go their way. In some time i stop. But seems that i have taken them along with me. That moment. The car. The joy of living in the moment.

I don’t know if they made it as ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ in their football game. But they sure did make my day.

Pretty Woman !

I wrote this on our family blog. A letter to my nephew, introducing my dream woman ! I am just compelled to post it here by a strange force ! She was was a tremendous influence on me. And i am just telling the world !

Dear K !

Someday, I’ll talk to you about her. I need to.

For you ought to know that this was the lady that made me. And she had grown her ears. Gusty, fearless, compassionate, beautiful, wealthy, steeped in values and of course, ever loving. Those could be the traits of a dream woman. That she was one, i have no doubt. She also happens to be your great great grandmother !!

She told me stories. Of another time. She spanked me when i lied. She hugged me when i cried. She put the fear of God in me. She held me when i trembled at the distant sound of thunder. She urged me to stretch. She taught me to love and to laugh. She walked a fearless walk. And when she talked, the neighbourhood would rumble.

And of course, she fed me ! With a silver spoon !!

A lady with such class, that class would show, when she showed up ! Ever immaculately dressed. Notice all the jewellery in the photograph (clicked in her younger days ) ?!! I have seen them all, on her !! She always moved with great poise and dignity.

There is a story in the family that her husband whisked her away in a horse carriage to tie the knot !! ( In my time there weren’t horse !!)

Would you believe that she was the first woman in the family to fly ! And no i am not kidding. She flew in the 1930s i am told. Taken to see her city from air, by a husband whose wealth and stature is talked of to this day !

And then, one day, this day, many years back, she passed away. There are a few people who continue to live despite them being long gone away ! She is one.

I somehow feel that she watches over us. Listens to every word that we speak. And to the words that we don’t as well. She didn’t grow her ears for nothing !!

And so when you step out into the sun, do so confidently. For a gusty, fearless, compassionate, beautiful, wealthy, loving dream woman is watching over you as well.

“Be bold, my boy. Do your duty. And The world is yours”. That was her most favourite line. That sounds valid till date ! Doesn’t it !?!

( The ‘Road Series’ continues from the next post on )

Going Home.

The plane taxis off the runway & kisses the clouds. From up above, i see the Mumbai skyline. I am far close to the sea than i can imagine.

The plane continues to climb. The low cost airline has not been low cost exactly. But it did take off on time. And it did soar into the sky. There is a pilot with a distinct kerelite accent, asking announcing that we should be landing on time.

I peer through the window. And see the receding skyline of the city that i call home now. In about a hour and a half i will be touching down in Bangalore. A city that i used to call home until a year and a half back. For ten odd years.

The books that i have picked up at the airport lounge invite some browsing. Some habits stick. Most, like this one, make the missus sick. But she isn’t here today with me. So.

I am lost in my own world. Memories come rushing back. I think of the next few days. And i have so many things to do. Discussions to have. And just be present. The sun beats down the other side of the plane. God is kind. I think.

And look at the big mountains that appear far too small. Far beyond. Far below. There are announcements for refreshments. I can hear only parts of it. The other i leave it to conjecture. The handlers from Pakistan did a better job, i think. Of speaking into the phone, that is.

Refreshments are served. And charged too. This is a low cost airline. The middle class me, loaded with the guilt of having bought books, keeps me restrained. In the row, just ahead, a family sits. They order sandwiches and juice. Sandwiches and juice and hand, the air hostess announces, ‘thats Rs. 510/-, sir !’ The plane shakes a bit.

I look through the window. Into the mountains. Into a dried river in the distance. I think of the next few days. There is happiness. Anxiety. Purposefulness. Hope. And resolve. The pilot is back again. Announcing something. I hear parts of it. And don’t hear most of it. The air hostess is having a word with the passenger in front of me. In a distance, i see greenery.

Frankly. Nothing matters. For i am flying home. From the new home of Mumbai. To the old home of Bangalore. And then, home ! Home to Madurai.

Home. To amma and appa. Today, nothing else seems to matter. The sun continues to beat down. The other side of the plane.

Kala Ghoda Festival ’09

The Kala Ghoda Art Festival of Mumbai beckoned. Kala Ghoda ( Black Horse ) is the name of that area. (Named after a statue of Prince Edward astride on a black horse, which incidentally is long gone) .

Read the details of the festival here.

A festival, to my mind, is a swarm of people, a riot of colour, a ring of happiness, sounds of cheer, loads of music, tonnes to see, and of course leaves you with a ring of joy. That’s what happens at the Chitrai festival in Madurai.

That’s what happens at all festivals. That’s something that was abundant at the Kala Ghoda Festival too. Make no mistake though, each has a different character and ring to it !

Here are some pictures from the Kala Ghoda festival !

The Entry Arch !
Art out of bottles, buckets and such other ‘water carriers’ ! The amount of plastic and waste that we use seem to be going sky high !

We seek to look upto the sky for some answers !

This stall both educated and appealed to the people with toilets at home. And sought to remind that there are many without that facility. And what a way to do that ! This one stayed with me.
The stage backdrop

A clothes stall with puppets in front.

Of course. The symbolism was hard to miss. As i stood outside, looking at other sights, the missus was inside !

A flute vendor

I wonder why they don’t give some flute lessons along ! The chap plays flute so well, that you are tempted to buy it with the hope that the magic is in the flute. And that you too would be able to pull off such mellifluous music from thin air.

Alas. When the flute comes to my lip, all it could produce was a vague gust of air and some strange sound that was almost like a fire alarm.

A wire made man walking a narrow strips !

Art from metal was captivating ! And captivating was just not the word. I stood there for a long while. Just to revel in the ingenuity of the human mind. And wondered why we seem to go in tangents so very often.

There are faces on the wall. They seem to be saying something. And that’s there on all walls of the world ! Aren’t there !?!

Empty well arranged bottles that had a people squinting, jostling and keen to look at what was inside ! And all the jostle had more people jostling to take a look ! Curiosity value gets some takers ! But this Osmosis was quite a sight !!
A kathak performance that we watched. Enthralled. Standing. Jostling. Yet, eyes rivet ted on the synchronous movement of legs, arms and body, to create a delight for the eyes and the ears.

And when we walked away at the end of it all, there was no mistaking the thrill that was there in our hearts !

One morning at Mahabaleshwar !

The still chill morning air of Mahabaleshwar was inviting. Inviting enough for me to ensure i won a battle with slumber and was out on the road that you see here. Of course with the camera slung across the shoulder and wife in tow !

We marvel at the birds chirping. In the silence of the morning, many new sounds come alive. Like a distant rustle of the undergrowth. The swoosh of the shaking tree, long after a bird left its perch. A dog urinates in a distance with gay abandon.

Today, there is just nobody on this road. Just me. My wife. My camera. And a great passion to soak up that morning spirit and perhaps capture as many images as the camera would allow and perhaps have simple conversation.

We walk. And walk. And walk. I notice we talk less.

I spot a bird sitting right up on a tree. In complete serenity and comfort. I take aim. A few snaps later, i zoom in. Suddenly his head pops up. He looks in all directions and with a great hurry flies off. I wonder why. The camera was silent. So was my I. So was the misssus. Then ?

We continue our walk. I see a unique flower in royal splendour. I try hard to get all of it on the camera. With a focussed mind, arched back, squinted eyes and a mild tremble in the hand.

And then I begin to hear movement. Some rumble. At that moment, up ahead where the road curves, i spot two men jog towards us. I shake my head. ‘Ah. The fitness types.’ I think.

And return to look at the flower by the road, through the lens of the Canon.We hear a dog bark. A loud bark. The beauty of the flower overrides the ferocity of the bark. I continue staying where i was.

Click. Click. Click. As though moving an inch here or there would cause the flower to wilt !

And then i hear engines. A distinct slow yet steady engine. Engines. I look up from the flower, wincing at the noise. I notice that the stick in my craw, happen to be the two gentlemen who are jogging towards me, followed by two monstrous Land Cruisers at a steady trot.

With a sardonic wince at the interruption to a quiet morning, i go back to the beloved yellow flower. Only to be disturbed by louder barks. Boww Boww Boww ! The barks go.

Now i am alarmed. I look away from the flower. And then at the two men running towards us. Followed by those oversized white vehicles on this narrow road. I still am looking for those dogs.

At that instant, one of the two men, a big burly fellow, shouts. ‘Boww’. ‘Oww’. ‘Boww’ ! I am now really alarmed. I pay real atttention to the two men now.

The one running ahead is in a red tracksuit. Goggles. et al. The big burly fellow is in a safari suit. At that instant something strikes my infantile mind. I look at the chap in the red track suit with a lot more intent to identify.

Anil Ambani !

Ah. I think. In a few seconds, he passes us by in brisk pace. Followed by the big burly gent in a safari suit, shouting like a dog. At 6.15 in the morning.

And then, the first big car passes us. And then, the next one does. A few pairs of eyes look at us from within. An egregious air permeates what was pristine, just a few minutes before.

With a vengeance i return to my beloved yellow flower. My mind still with Anil Ambani and his safari clad mimicry artist. “Who does he think he is ? The world is not his. Where is equality ? ” and such other sundry questions race to the forefront.

And then i look in his direction. By now, I can only see the backs of those big cars. And think of his life. How must it be to have a truck load of guns following you when you go for a morning walk, i think.

I pity the man. Not that he has asked for any. And not that he will have any value for it. But this is what i feel. I wince through the lens. The yellow flower is shaping up well.

And then i think, ‘what does he have that i dont?’

Well other than, those mimicry artists, huge cars, billions and a mention every other day in every other news paper worth its name, nothing much. Ofcourse, thats not including a fueding brother and a saddened mother!

Click. Click. I get the yellow flower. It looks pretty good.

I wonder if i would like to trade places with this gent.

Not that his place is on offer. Neither is mine! I vehemently shake my head. Of course not. “mera pass ‘peace of mind hai’ ! ( I have peace of mind) !

Anil Ambani and his entourage must be far away. I dont hear them. And where the road takes another curve, there is a new flower i spot. With a dew drop tethered to it by sheer magic. My sentient camera readies.

I am glad i saw him. For suddenly, i seem to relish the dew drop more.