Light Bulb Moments

Hits or Touches ?

And there is this lady. Who inspires with such inspiring accounts of personal courage, resolve and a passion to set things right. Driven with love and care. Her blog is here.

A couple of weeks back, she put a message up on her blog. About a free give away of a novel. To anyone who asked. And i did. Only half believing that a book will land at my desk. We lived many seas apart, you see.

Yet, in a couple of days, the publisher wrote. And last week, the book arrived. Roxana Robinson’s COST. Its proving to be an insightful and touching story.

It causes me to wonder about the number of people that i connect to on Kavis Musings ! The happiness that permeates, and the love that comes forth from readers and friends are just beyond measure.

And then, there is this gentleman. A simple soul with a large heart. Who lives in the UK. His blog is here.

The other day, he called. And we spoke. For about an hour and a half. Overseas call. He called. And we spoke about culture. About our pasts. Our families. Our histories. Our likes. And dislikes. Our people. Our surroundings. And so on.

Peels of laughter. Gasps of surprise. Shouts of joy. As we caught up with each other. Under normal terms, this would fit any conversation between friends. Old classmates, co-workers and others, who have gone their ways.

Or perhaps like the lost brother from the Indian cinemas. Yes, the one who got separated at a temple festival, only to reunited by a handkerchief or a song!

It was another matter though, that it was the first time, i was speaking to him.

He left this comment on this post asking for a contact number. He called from the UK. And we spoke. Insightful and impacting conversation. And i realise that good and goodness reside all around us. If only we are are more aware !

I for one, never could imagine that this blog has touched people across so many countries. And shores. And brought a wonderful array of friends and family together.

And i realise, i am often dumbstruck when some one asks me ‘why’ i write. The truth is difficult to state. But here it is : ‘i don’t know !’ It is beyond loving writing and sharing. Or photography. Or technology. Etc.

Like a man or a woman, who is dancing to music that seeps out of an ipod plugged to the ear, unmindful of an audience thats there or otherwise…i just am in the moment ! And thats exactly what happens when i compose a post here !

Having said that, I am ever greatful to readers who have flocked back again and again ! Like Shobha, Rush, Aleta and others who have stated it so. Lou and Balaji just tipped that feeling into a full fledged meandering post ! And there is a new wind in the sails, to get a bloggers meeting going on again.

There is so much life on planet Earth. Wonderful people. Stories of struggle. Wins. Losses. Passion. Persistence. Love. Joy. And just a feeling that we are all in it together. So, go on, keep those posts coming !

One more thing. Frankly the number of hits a blog gets isn’t big deal ! That’s a number that doesn’t matter. If lives are better off, and living is easier, and the soul is soothed, well, the numbers really don’t matter.

Hits are about numbers. Touching the soul is about life.

Whizz Theory !

There. I stand close to the door of the train. There is one another gent standing right at the door. A polite request to have some more space to click a few snaps has just been met with a stern silence and a sterner look.
‘What audacity to ask. I came here, first’. The look seems to suggest.

The sun beats down the other side of the train. I keep this door open. And I stay here.

And watch. As everything whizzes by. Everybody whizzes by. Women walking to work. Men lazing around. And the other way. White fences of the Indian railways. An old man standing by a puddle.

Ducks going about whatever they do in water. Still lakes. Lakes that were. Stiller mountains. Far away songs. A revving engine. Old men beneath coconut trees. Children in the green fields. Barren lands. All of them whizz by.

An ‘Abandoned’ railway shed. Fences. Platforms. Station masters. Pictures of Laloo Prasad and a few others. Some green and red flag holding gent. All of them whizz by.

Everything whizzes by. In super speed. I keep clicking.

I wonder at the speed at which life whizzes by. And then, it strikes me. Actually, everything else stays. Its actually the train that i am in, whizzing by ! All else stays put. And just because i am on something that whizzes by, i think of all else as whizzing by !

‘Can this be some grand theory ?’ I wonder. ‘At least a corollary or whatever they call it?’ As i keep clicking. ‘Whizz theory’ I tell myself.. Or may be ‘the theory of the moving train!’

From somewhere, the missus turns up. She has just had her tea. She sights the camera in hand. “you are at it. Already?’

All other thoughts including the whizz theory whizz away! ‘hmm’ I say.

‘Whats on your mind’ she says.

And i think of the Whizz theory. I look at the watch. Its not even 7.00 am. Its way too early to start the day on that note. And tell her….

‘ Actually, i think hmm… actually, you know, i wonder why would the railways want to differentiate by more than 50 % between taking a bath and…’ as i click this picture.

She sees the writing on the wall! Face palms. And gets started. About me. My mind. About water. About conservation. About men. And habits.

I wonder where the conversation would have gone if i had started out with my whizz theory. I know for sure it would have gone somewhere.

I wonder..I wonder what i would do without her.

Egg Yoke ! a.k.a Pedal Power – Part -II

Its peak traffic. Buses hoot. And supply some free soot. Cars compete with each other, with a buzz about them, that it seems that they are girding their loins for the Nano. The policeman swears. This time, cursing the sun. The signal stays red. 

From the confines of his car, he sees a tower go by, on a bicycle. 

A tower of eggs ! Balanced neatly by a middle aged man, with rolled up trousers and a run down bicycle. He too awaits the signal to turn green. The signal stays red. The sun beats down. 

From his car, he looks intently at the big tower of eggs on the pillion. Each egg seems well ensconced. Smug. And unaware of whats coming its way. Perhaps the eggs were enjoying the sights. And of course, all sights are different, when there is elevation ! 

“Mass produced eggs”, he says aloud, to himself. The still air in the company devoid car soaks up what he speaks. “Eggs that are shorn of love but rich in protein and cholesterol and such else ! Eggs that are produced for the sole purpose of consumption ! Eggs that would disintegrate into an unrecognisable form upon being dropped or broken open !” 

Today, those fragile eggs seemed to sit pretty in the security of the pillion, the balance and the sun !  The sun continued to beat down. The signal stays red. 

In the blurr of the heat, he continues to stare into the Egg Tower. And suddenly, he sees his apartment complex in that egg tower !  And he smiles. Yes, he says. 

All eggs. All proper eggs ! 

The B-School type, the diamond trader type, the ex-army types, the corporate type. And all their families.  He sighs. He recalls watching children swear at the security gaurd, in front of their parents.  And ofcourse, he turns away, when a corporate type throws garbage in the alleyway. He stood perplexed when he caught his neighbour steeling his morning newspaper. 

Proper eggs.  He thinks.  He rewinds. And replays.  

Mass produced eggs. Eggs that are shorn of love but rich in protein and cholesterol and such else ! Eggs that are produced for the sole purpose of consumption ! Eggs that would disintegrate into an unrecognisable form upon being dropped or broken open ! The sun continues to beat down. 

And then, the signal turns green. That tower of eggs makes progress and moves away. 

‘Proper Eggs’, he says again.  This time, he includes himself.  

He looks in the rear view mirror and purses his lips as his alter ego tells him, that his yoke is his silence. It makes him culpable. He thinks so.   

In some time he hits a clear stretch and accelerates. That egg tower on the pillion is gone. But his yoke tower seems to stay with him. With a felt presence. Clear stretch or otherwise. 

Break Down Tale !

So when your car has a break down, it gets towed. And that’s not the only time it gets towed. It also happens when you park in the wrong place. Or when a inventive car thief spots your fancy car. Or when you run out of fuel. And such else.
But that’s besides the point. For whatever reason it has to be towed, towing brings to my mind, a large truck or such other vehicle which pulls. That’s my understanding of towing !

But, what you find below, is another form of towing. A very Indian innovation. For Indian readers, this is a no brainer that is seen every day ! The vehicle that’s ahead is the one with a break down !

The ‘technology’ is pretty simple. The power from the autorickshaw in the rear, gets transferred to the one at front. Through that outstretched leg and the Mumbai air. And of course, using that big toe. ( I am told by knowledgeable sources that it requires some skill).

So, maybe this is ‘toeing’ ?!? Of course, This indeed is ‘Toeing’ !

So, the next time, somebody is going to ask me to toe his or her line, i wonder if its that big muscular hulk pulling from the front, or is it that toe that’s working on my behind !!

Huh ! So much for a break down !

On The Tree : Full Circle !

So there. So much for balloons. You have them in many varieties. In so many different shapes, sizes and colours. And of course, the ‘balloonwala‘ of my childhood time used to carry a rich paraphernalia of multi hued balloons and all sorts of contraptions that made noise !

He used to announce his presence with a sort of a whistle. And to every parent in the neighbourhood, that was like a medieval battles conch, announcing the commencement of war !

But those days are passe. The modern times that we live in of course have balloons that fly you ! Hot Air balloons they are called. The only heat in the balloons that i am used to is the one coming from my own breath !

There is one memory thought, that is evergreen. It was kindergarten. My class teacher brought a set of balloons to class, and set a raving cat amongst feisty pigeons. A fight ensued over a particular balloon of bright red colour.

And she separeted us saying , ever so sweetly, ‘its not the colour of the balloon that gets you higher. Its whats inside’ ! And was i floored !

I didn’t make much of it back then. But that conversation stayed. And many years later, made much sense. Of course. Of course ! That was a profound statement.

And then, the MBA happened.

On a hot summer day, after a listlessly ‘hot’ case study discussion punctuated with ‘it depends’, the prof remarked,

‘Gas will get you only so far. You need something else to get any further…like some colour ‘ !

I stared at him. And thought of my Kindergarten teacher. Life seemed to have come full circle !

This post concludes the three post series titled ‘On The Tree’ !

To Come Back !

To continue imagining. To move. To be moved. To continue. To accept a hand in support. To support. To write. To learn. To listen. To move. To pray. To look. To soak up each moment. To laugh. To cry. To reach out. To hope. To renounce. To accept. To come back.

To stay renewed. To run. To Walk. To pause. To feel new wind. To absorb a new thought. To see new people. And their thoughts. To continue seeing ‘old’ people. And their thoughts in old and new light. To stay confident. To take on new responsibilities. To take on. To stay true to old values. To roll on. To come back.

To drive. To stay driven. To fix flats tyres. To wipe tears. To work out. To sweat out. To rediscover. To push. Yourself and others. To see a new day. To stay optimistic. To weather out old storms. To discover weak links and broader shoulders. To see discover new friends who stand by. To see new hope. To come back.

To reach out to elders. To read the lines. And between them too. To develop. To stay rooted. To reach for the stars. To discard. To pass out. To see the silver lining. To wince. To smile. To jump. To slouch. To click. To tweet. To look back. To create. To destroy. To exercise choice. To return. To stay renewed. To infuse new energy. To come back.

So much to say, that i am back.

Regular posts commence shortly. To all the voices of support, be it through inquiry, gentle nudges, screaming & massaged messages, a big thank you ! The world is still a beautiful place with beautiful people. Will catch up !

It feels nice. To think that tomorrow is going to be better. Of that there is no doubt. But it sure does feel good. To come back !

Yes Our Can !

Visiting a family that i often visit, i have to use the toilet a.k.a washroom in ‘developed’ circles. Marveling at the body’s engineering processes, which somehow sense proximity of clean toilets, to alert the urges, i enter !
It was a super clean and neat place. It continues to be so. To this day ! And there, just as i am using the pot, in a corner is this green can. ‘Castrol’ it says ! (You know Castrol dont you?) And of course, it is filled to the brim with water and apparently, part of mainstream usage !

Surely, Castrol didn’t pay this family for strategic brand placement in the washroom! It is just another can that was being put to the best of reuse and recycle ! Millions in India do this.

Every rural morning sun sees people walking the fields with cans that say ‘Castrol’ or “Servo’ or ‘Asian Paints’ *** etc ! They held lubricants, oil, paint when they moved out of the factory. But in their recycled avatar, they are usually filled with water. And comes in handy for porting water…you know…for all what water comes in handy for.

Sometimes they help in porting garbage. Cleaning Autorickshaws. At other times they are cow feed carriers. At yet others for brewing illicit hooch!! And of course, they are used by the Public Works Department in perennial road building activities as well !

And why not….

I presume these cans are made to the strictest Seven Sigma quality ( Six Sigma standards + one sigma extra for all the noise made about Six Sigma ). Made by the best of engineering minds, out of the best material possible and sport colour combinations chosen by brand consultants ! And of course, come to production only after exacting quality checks !

I turn to the green Castrol can in the corner. This time around, i look at it with higher respect. And i wonder, how my reactions would change, if i worked for Castrol. Would i run my finger affectionately on the can, and say, with a Obama like thud, ‘Yes ! Our Can‘ !?!

I finish up what i came into the toilet for. And then, i cast one last respectful glance at the green Castrol can and with imagination running riot about a mob of Castrol users shouting ‘Yes Our Can’, i look at it a little more intently.

I spot a sticker on it that reads : ‘Its more than oil. Its liquid engineering’ !

It all comes together ! A light bulb glows somewhere. Suddenly, brand placement seems appropriate ! Pot on !

(*** Castrol, Servo and Asian Paints are common examples going by my mind share and corresponding assumptions of visibility in toilets / washrooms. They are not quoted here out of personal association / spite / liking etc. Ok !?! )

Yes We Can !

So, a new history is being made out there. And a new history is being created for the world ! I have watched in great awe as the US Presidential election unfolded. And what a magnificient canvas it provided ! This blog has stayed away from politics. Well, atleast, has attempted to. But this post is not about policies or politics. This is about the what resides within us : human beings.

I for one, cant fathom what runs in the veins of an ordinary man, causing him to raise so meteorically. Combating a stiff headwind. One after the other. In the name of race, religion, powerful people et al. And to be a complete rookie, yet ooze confidence that befits a seasoned veteren, and most important : pull it off !! Thats a tall order.

So it is, a tall order. To be 72 years old. And take to the rigours of campaigning. Day in and day out. With a vigour that is eclipsed only by the power of a campaign that can be described as some kind of a mass movement ! A campaign who knew that the cake was baked much before it was ordered and yet kept the battle on, right till the last curve. Thats a tremendously tall order too.

As much as i winced at the acerbity of the contest, today I marvel at the grace of the acceptance of the victory. So too, the elegance of conceding the defeat. As much as i am sure of machinations that would work at a furious pace beneath the surface, what i see, moves me. Beyond a point.

Colour. Caste. Creed. Age. Resources. Education. History. Family background. Etc. Etc. Two men, as different as chalk and cheese on each of the above, just seemed to believe ‘all things were equal’ ! And carried it to the finish line.

Personally, that sets a new contour. A new context. That indeed it is possible to climb mountains. And scale them, even when there is a strong headwind. What perhaps is more important is a steady clinical resolve to keep going !!

Only one made it. But two men showed that it is possible to fight. To disagree. Yet accept, hold hands and move on. There have been very few moments in recent times that stood on the precipice of hope and possibility as this one. And suddenly it does seem we as a race will make it.

The networks dont call before its over. But i am no network. Suddenly, ‘Yes We Can’ seems to take a new meaning.

A dilettante rants

I sit in the balcony. Looking at the moving clouds. That’s fast becoming my hobby of sorts. Book in hand, music to suit, a breeze to buffet thought, some home made coffee and of course, the clouds up there.

The clouds take many shapes up there. Of a cauliflower. Of a bathtub. Of a layer of paddy. And as the sun sets behind, the colour adds to all the glamour. It switches from a sepia tone to a crimson red. The building that occupies the foreground stays firm. The coating seems to change though.

I sit there and watch intently. The shape of my life, my times and my future seem to be best exhibited by the clouds up there. These are some snaps from that evening. Sitting at the same spot. Aiming at the same sun. And the same clouds. With the same buildings as the foreground. Time, they say, has many hues !

PS: Special thanks to all those readers who have been urging me to start a separate photo blog. That puts a spring in my step. An amateurish dilettante like me cant ask for more ! A delight to note that people indeed want to have more from me.

Well, that was the thought that i would have liked to raise a toast to. And then, the missus popped a question. ‘Are you sure ?’ Those are tense moments. Its like asking a ransom caller, if he dialled the right number !

‘Perhaps it is just that people have had enough of your writing and out of politeness suggest that you start a photo blog..’

Her voice trails off.

This post ends right here i say !

‘Un’common Wisdom !

At 7.50 in the morning i wait at the lift. Press once. And for a full 3 minutes and change, the lift remains stuck at the previous floor. There is substantial anger that is seeping in me.

I think of ‘sensitive’ people-experiences that i have had in the past. ‘Husband-gets-in-keeps-the-lift-open-for-wife’ types ! Those kinds are numerous in the complex where i stay ! My chest swells with anger. Today, i resolve, i am going to have a few things to say to such ‘sensitive’ husbands and wives, i decide.

The lift opens. There is a lady, with her two children there. The children, all decked for school. Except for the hair. The little girl’s hair is still getting combed. The lady looks up at me, and says, ‘we are sorry’. ‘They have the bus to catch’. My anger dissipates.

I smile. And say, ‘thats not a problem’ !

The lift arrives at the ground level. I point to the door, and say, ‘ after you ‘. She herds the kids out, looks at me and says, ‘thank you’ !

It feels nice. I wonder where my anger went. A few minutes later, as i drive i reflect. Common courtesies are so rare these days, that the most simplest of them : Sorry and Thank You, are so rarer than honest politicians !

In the high rise that we stay in, there are educated & well endowed folks ( with money et al, just in case you thought of something else), who reek perfume and drive mega wheels. And there are the others who would like to belong to this set !

While ‘everything else’ is present in abundance, Common courtesies seem to be in short supply !

To be able to say ‘hello’, to smile, to give way to the elderly, to say thank you & sorry !are simple things to do !

I wonder why the arrival of money dispels courtesy ! I wonder. Thats some thought for the day.

I think i value and practice a fair degree of courtesy. By corollary : I cannot have money and mega wheels right ?!?

Ah ! Now, i know why i cant make that money ! Atleast now, there is a reason !

This morning, wisdom arrived through the lift !