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.

Its in the eye !

Three quarters of the legendary ‘big fat tyre’ just beneath the chest is not only because of a sedentary life style or whatever else that the world will have us believe often. A good vision with a pinch of a vivid imagination can be as potent as well !

Now, you are either taking umbrage or laughing away at the nadirs of emptiness in the mind that i have reached. hmm Well, seriously… Take a look at this.

Here are whats called ‘murukku‘ in Tamil territory.

Not much technology here. Infact, age old recipe. Plain old flour coming from grain, going through different moulds to create basic designs. Of course, deep fried in oil or sometimes in mouth watering ghee !

There you go. Petals. Whorls. Plain surfaces. Labyrinthine mazes. A sight to the eye. All hoarding calories like a glutton engulfed with additional greed !

Invariably its the eye that spots these. The whorls and patterns draw the eye like parched land to rain !

The mind and imagination then kick in their work. The imagined taste of each of these awaken the slumber of hidden taste buds resting in the tongue.

The ears hear the crackle of the ‘murukku’ against the teeth, the melting of the ghee and the after taste after the murukku is long gone into the deepest recesses of the tyre !

( Yes, the mind allows thinking of the tyre to seep in only after the snack sinks into the alimentary canal ) !

And even as the mind is thinking of all of this, the eyes induce the hands to declare independence. The wallet comes out and in a while the rest of the world hears the crackle : the crackle of the murukku as the teeth work on them !

The rest is history !

Ah ! The eyes !

Thank God for ‘spell check’ !

To me sub-standard work is a reflection of your attitude to the reader. Be it spelling errors or grammatical errors or atrocious abbreviations” So wrote a friend. ( It was not directed at me. Really).

As the words registered, a shudder went through the spine that, could have been felt in Greece. Obviously it wouldn’t have registered with the residents of Greece for they seem to other problems to solve. But for sure, my hair stood up. Reading the friend’s note.

Now, I must say, i have the highest regard for you. For you. Yes, you. You who is reading this sentence. For reading what i dish out. On an even keel i have the greatest regard for the chap who thought of ‘spell check’ !

For, If only it weren’t for ‘spell check’, my not getting lynched for mis-spelling would have been a function of the intensity of my prayer and great kindness in readers like you.

Having confessed to fundamental deficiencies, somehow seems to give me liberty to cock a snook at others in boats like mine !! Something like Afghanistan talking about India not being a safe place. Or India whining about Chinese cheap imports. And the Chinese preaching Human rights !

What can i do ? Blessed with a roving imagination and a compelling need to expend energy on things ‘that wont earn two rupees’ (as the missus puts it), the mind wanders to possibilities that mis-spellings throw up !

Like this one.
Seen outside a road side shop that fixes a punctured tyres. “TYRE PUNCHER” ! It screams. (Spell check couldn’t have spotted that). But then, imagine a Mike Tyson just ear away ( yes.. a ear away) from you, punching tyres with ferocity that befits a Evander Holyfield. Wouldn’t you feel insecure ?

Phew ! And there you are, having to fix a punctured one yourself ! That must be some predicament. Would it not be ?

Or take this example.
Spotted near the much advertised and spanking new Bandra-Worli sealink. If you keep to the left of the road, and pass Lilavati Hospital, you will of course come to a church. For many years, its been known as the Mount Mary church.

Until the time some men thought it fit to change Mary to merry ! Some deprived soul, must be. Or perhaps someone who was so much into merriment…! Or perhaps someone with a girlfriend called Mary… ! Possibilities abound, you see !
Of course, these are not big pearls of wisdom in this post.
With Hyderabad having so much of bandhs and shutdowns, i guess someone walked away with a vowel ! Nevertheless, just wanted to write in, saying a sincere word of thanks to readers like you. For coming back for more! And prodding me to venture into unchartered territory.
But seriously. What would i do without ‘spell check’ ! Phew !

One for the road

The sights are so many. The sounds are ear numbing. The mind tries to absorb all what comes by. The eyes are focused on the road. The heat is omni present.

The car’s air-conditioner is at work. As much as it can. Its some years old now. And it shows. The suns heat has been there forever. That shows too.

Its having an impact. All of this. To compound an already clouded mind. Clouded with work and its facets. Family and its facets. The home and the broken faucets.

The mind sows the seed for a head ache to take shape. The head is fertile ground. For such sowing. Tiredness germinates. Its becoming clear as to where all this would lead to. Beeps go off somewhere within. Auto triggered alarm bells within the confines of the mind.

Adding to the clamour.

That’s precisely when the sugar cane juice vendor is spotted. He pushes sugarcane into heavy machinery. Those wheels by the side, move with precision. Out flows concentrated juice. A slice of lemon. And some ginger. And some ice later, the drink is nursed.

As it sinks into a parched throat, the mind seems to be affected. The noises quieten. He sells more. A Small costs Rs.3/-. A large costs Rs.5/-. He can almost sense that the throat is parched enough for more. And proposes a ‘Jumbo’ for Rs.7/-.

In some time, what was grown in some field somewhere, rests in the glass at hand. The throat is a lot less parched. The mind seems to be a lot less noisy. Was there a connection ? There is wonder. As usual.

In satisfaction, the eyes roam. And spot the large tender coconuts sold. Just some distance away. The parched throat is no longer parched. The mind is still in its quenched trance. Yet, the tender coconuts beckon.

There are memories of having tender coconuts. In fields. Roadsides. Travel. With special people. With strangers. All alone. Lows. Highs. A million thoughts rush back. Its almost as though the tender coconuts beckon for re-living of those memories.

He is doubtful of any sale. For he has seen the Jumbos getting gulped with a ferocity of a ravenous glutton.

For only a fleeting second. ‘”The one with water'”, escapes the throat with almost quaint insult to the Jumbo glasses of Sugarcane juice. He gives a wide grin.

The mind seems to rise in protest. Somewhere, that protest is quelled with one statement : ‘This ones for the road’.

A sigh escapes. A smile uses the same escape route too. The mind is quiet. In some time, so is the air-conditioner in the car.

Trunk To Trunk !!

So have you been taken for a ride ? On an Elephant ? On the roads !?!

The resounding bells that used to hang by the sides used to announce the arrival of elephant and the mahout into the neigbhourhood. For a small fee, one could get a ride. And for a smaller fee, the elephant would touch your head with its trunk, as you bowed in deference and devotion. and the world around you would say that you were now blessed !

And then came National Geographic and the likes. Where the rest of the world saw elephants as exotic species. In safaris and through the lens of some of the best photographers of the world. And all you could hear was a groan escaping your lips.

It didn’t strike you as big deal ! You grew up seeing the elephant. He was your God ! You saw him every other day at a temple. Or the next street. Or at a wedding reception! Touching human heads with the huge trunk and collecting that small fee !

“We have been seen as a land of elephants” , lamented a young software friend. Fresh with an accent and a whiff of perfume and scent of drying ink on his passport. And quiet obviously there was some discussion.

“New age imagery of India may be something, but please’, i told him, ‘please find a way of including the elephants into your scheme of things. Perhaps name a piece of software in its honour. I mean, look at Java and Maya !!’ The elephant is a large majestic being and you cant wish it away ! With all your might !

White Elephant, they scream at something that cant be put to use. A heavy person is affixed a tag : Elephant. Of course ! And as much as these are cruel to people, well, i want to say, spare a thought for the elephant as well !

With the power of quick wishes that have super quick freeze into inaction, i want to start a movement to bring back the majestic elephant to the forefront ! ‘Majesticity’ doing a disappearing act before metaphors of expense and weight….well, that’s not done !
The streets of Mumbai and other big metros don’t see the elephant. As much. Perhaps that’s why, i thought !

And then, i spotted one. In the traffic bustle of Powai’s main road. Striding majestically. Amidst commuters waiting for a bus. And those big German engineered cars with three pointed stars or three alphabets for a name, and the puny efficient cars of the Japs & Koreans , the Indian wannabe cars and the rest of those that are fighting bankruptcy, all keep a respectful distance.

Almost seeming to bow in deference to this big one. Each stride, majestic. Each wave of the trunk an artistic beauty. This was not bumper to bumper traffic. This perhaps was trunk to trunk traffic. Nobody cared. Size matters. I realised. Always.

And then one day, i saw that same software friend at a temple. Bowing in deference. As an elephant ‘blessed’ him with his trunk.

Perhaps that ink on the passport was drying. I thought. The elephant didn’t seem to care. These thoughts were for small minds like mine.

Conditioning !

Its been some hard busy and trying times. Keeping track of all thats happening on the work front and balancing act on the home front has kept me on my toes ! Dealing with ‘difficult’ people who believe in shouting, swearing & lay a great emphasis on ‘doing’ rather than ‘doing it right’, has been an experience by itself.

As stressful as it has been, it has also brought about good levels of understanding ! I was reading Freedom by Osho, during a journey, and a strange connect got reinforced ! People behave the way they are conditioned to behave !

“It is said that when you tell an Englishman a joke, he will laugh three times. he will laugh the first time – when you tell it – to be polite. he will laugh a second time – when you explain it – again to be polite. That is the training of an Englishman, always to be polite. Finally, he will laugh a third time in the middle of the night when he wakes from a sound sleep and suddenly gets it..

People behave the way they are conditioned to behave, the way they are brought up to behave, the way they are expected to behave…” how true ! And when somebody behaves in a way i have been conditioned as ‘wrong’, well therein lies the rub and problems in reaching out ! Well, well, well, culture !

The weeks been hectic. Wife’s birthday came and went. She tells me she is happy with the way the day came and went ! I believe that. Or rather, i am conditioned to believe that ! Or rather, after its gone, i am a condition to believe that 🙂

The week ahead stares at me with some travel and loads of work. And i make a mental note to be better at keeping the momentum in this space !

Conditioning. That’s the word !