Musings

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!

 

Annual Sunset

It’s the same Sun that will pop out of the east tomorrow morning. Yet, today’s sunset helps us keep score that one more year has melted. It’s the 31st of December. And this is the ‘Annual Sunset’!  Sunsets are amongst the most enticing of reminders that one more block of time is gone for good. The annual sunset on can be sentimental. Partly, because the world seems eager to be done with it and embrace the shiny’, ‘new’ year!

So, its time to change the printed calendar that hangs on the wall. I have to take care to write ‘2018’ instead of  ‘2017’ on the cheques that I sign. Other than that, nothing changes. Of course, tonight some folks will move in the name of dance, to random noise that’s called music. Everybody will wish each other ‘Happy New Year’ and then go about living their lives with renewed fervour.

By the 8th of Jan, 25% of resolutions “have fallen by the wayside”. “And by the time the year ends, fewer than 10 percent have been fully kept”, says a piece in the New York Times. Thats a colossal underperformance by corporate standards, won’t you think? (Do give the piece a read. Very good pointers )

That of course, is a limited view. Thank God!

What would we do if there was just no chance in hell that we could begin all over again? Even if we knew in the innermost recesses of our hearts that it is the same Sun that will show up tomorrow.  That it’s sinking into the west doesn’t sink with it our warts and wiggles. I wouldn’t mind it taking along with it the credit card bill, the lump of fat on the hip and the sinus in the head. Alas! That said, the new year is special. For it is the chance for some energy into starting all over again.  That is priceless. It fills us with hope and courses a new energy in our fraying minds.

An uncle of mine used to say that this energy would take him through “March – April”! “If you get a few solid wins in this time, who knows, the momentum can take you into June-July”. I find this enticing today.

It makes sense. Once it is July, you are already looking at beginning the countdown to end the year and make a new beginning.  In early October, the uncle would say, ” we are going to end the year”. Looking forward to it like a kid walking with his dad to buy a promised lollipop.  The ‘looking forward to next year’ saw him through the last three-four months.

In one way or the other, he had to wade through pestilence laden waters of ‘what is the meaning of my life’ and such other desultory questions for about five months.  Right in the middle of the year. Those months could seem to have a slower pace to them.  A few other ways to work those months would help. Perhaps breaking the year into smaller bits. Maybe having other special rituals for renewal.

But right now, the Sun is just about downing its shutters for 2017. The mid-year ‘sulk months’ seem a good distance away. Those months will happen when they happen. To make them ‘happening’ is after we take care of this evening and the next few weeks.

I have on my agenda a few must-dos.

Meet friends.

Make white spaces.

Plan well and yet create the space to plan as you go.

Spend time with the little miss. Grow up with her.

Walk. Run.

Take care of the body. And the mind. That’s the best way to take care of the bank account. (“Fixed deposits are best in the bank. Spare your hips”, said a wall scrawl in Madurai ).

Eat vegetables.

Write.  Travel.

Dream.

Do meaningful work.

Shoot the breeze.

That’s the best part of beginning again. For some irrational reason, it fills the heart with hope. As this sunset sinks its teeth into the year’s neck, the fleeting gasps of the setting Sun remind me of the promises that I need to keep. No new promises. Just keeping the old ones is good enough.

That’s as good as it gets. The aim is to go through to the end of March with it. A running coach once sat me down as I shuddered thinking about how I would ever do a 42 KM run. The trick he said, “is not to think of the full 42 KM. But to have a target like “until the end of where the eye can see”.  With the run soaking up most of the energy, my line of sight was often a just a hazy patch. It helped me finish!

So, here is what I am going to do. Soak up the Sun and look forward to the end of March. Maybe, April. Before the blink of the eye, it would be July.  And then, it would be next year.

For now, go dance. Sing. Love.

That’s all there is to it. Besides saying “Happy New Year”!

There are two pigeons that dart on to my balcony. Tilting their necks and looking at me with an odious ‘oh not again’ look. I want to prove them wrong and start somewhere, even as the bright arc of the orange Sun is reduced to crimson splash on the horizon. I pull out my laptop and start typing. “It’s the same Sun that will pop out of the east tomorrow morning. Yet, today’s sunset helps us keep score that one more year has melted. It’s the 31st of December. And this is the ‘Annual Sunset’!  Sunsets are amongst the most enticing of reminders that one more block of time is gone for good. The annual sunset on can be sentimental. Partly, because the world seems eager to be done with it…”

Of cows and independence day!

The little miss, as is her wont these days, has been shooting me a heap of questions. There is not a thing that passes the attention of her senses that just passes by without a question popping up. Be it an earthworm, a snail, a ridiculous honk from an autorickshaw, the neighbour’s loud movie screening, the sartorial choices of her mom (& dad ) etc etc. You get the drift right?

Me and the missus have had to work overtime to ensure that we engage with each of her questions and give her answers. Most of the time she ends with a ‘whatever’ look. Especially when I attempt to answer. The missus fares better.

The ‘whatever’ look is what I remember my physics teacher reserving for me, in school.   She would ask a question and her eyes would droop so much that they would be waiting to roll down her cheek if I was late by another moment. Her shoulders would drop and a smug smile would lurk at the corner of her lip. Her whole body language would seem to be so much waiting in expectation of a ridiculously inept answer. I guess I met her expectations every single time. I would dread those classes.

It is kind of dreadful to think that the little miss reminds me of that time. The only difference now is that the little miss forgets the inept answer in a jiffy and moves on to some easier stuff at the wave of a hand. Like, ‘Can I go touch that cat Appa?’ Or even, ‘can we go say hello to the rain drop appa’? Now, these are like lifebuoys to someone in a cesspool. We survive with her kindness and love.

She has been excited about the Independence Day for over a week now.

“Appa, when are you buying me a gift?”

“A gift? But why?”

“It is India’s birthday appa!”

I realised that thats how Independence day has been positioned in her mind.  Gandhi, Nehru and the freedom struggle can come much later.  For now, if there are some festoons, cake, pizzas and a gift to boot, all is well. Fortunately, the gifts that she has demanded haven’t yet gotten to meaningless stuff that pops a hole in the pocket. A national flag was all that was desired this time around and was dutifully bought too.

So today, on the 70th anniversary of India’s independence, after the flag hoisting ceremony in the apartment complex where we live in,  came another string of questions.

“If we hoist a flag for India’s birthday, why didn’t you hoist one for my birthday?”

Patient explaining ensued.  Of India having a flag and it being a country and that individuals don’t have a flag etc. Inept answers, I can guess. With drooping shoulders she proclaimed, ‘Appa, once we go home, I am going to draw my flag. You have to hoist it for my birthday”.

I demurred in agreement. “My flag will have a cow and a cat in it Appa”.

“A COW?” I spluttered.   The nation would want to know now.  An involuntary muttering of ‘Holy Cow’ under my breath reached her sharp ear.

“Not holy cow Appa”, she said. “Just one nice cow”.

Silence ensued. And then with a momentary pause she asked, ‘what is a holy cow Appa’? I didn’t know where to start. Or end, for that matter. And then, she threw me a lifeline. Actually two.

“If you don’t like the cow, let’s just have the cat in the flag Appa. It is easy to draw the cat “.  A huge sigh of relief clung to the air as Lata Mangeshkar ruled the Independence Day sound waves of the apartment complex.

And then she said, “Can we go to the play area and slide Appa?”.  She was on her way to the play area and shouted out a changed plan.  “I have been on the slide for sometime Appa. Today can you push me higher on the swing?”

“Of course”, I said. “Of course”

 

The Pink Pony

Days turn into nights. And nights lead to day. The repetitive patterns that lead to the next day, the next week, the next month and the next year form a beautiful facade that keeps in obscurity the years that speed by.

Then the years reveal themselves. Sometimes the mirror tells the story.  As a stray strand of grey morphs into a lock of plentiful grey. When a parent passes away, the realisation is stark. When a friend passes away, it is pronounced.  The parting of the beautiful facade, often comes in a reality check, happening in sorrowful environs.

Sometimes they do in moments of pure joy. Especially, if you have a little daughter like mine.

So the little miss has been going to school. She enjoys it and has had a great deal of fun thus far. One day in the last week, after a long and tiring day, I creep into bed.  Long after the little miss’s bed time. As the silence beckons me further into slumber, she wakes up. Realising that I have crept in and wakes me up too, demanding that the lights come on.

She is all excited and she wants to show me her ‘Pink Pony’. She opens her palm to reveal a small piece of plastic. I see the effect of her clutching it hard are showing on the palm too. The Pink Pony spread some pink to her palm as well.  She obviously has been waiting to show me. ‘Aryan gave it to me papa’ she said. In sleep soaked excitement. I gave her a bear hug ad asked ‘was it his birthday today?”

PP1

“No Appa”. She says. A tad disappointed and perhaps surprised at an antiquated line of thought.

“He gave it only to me”. She says with emphasis on the ‘only’.

“Ah”. I say.

With curiosity dripping out of every word I ask , ‘That sounds like fun. Tell tell me, tell me more’

“Because I like pink colour Appa”.  And that was that.

With those words she slips back into sleep. Clutching the pink pony and happy that her little secret was no longer just hers. I stare at her for a while and switched off the lights.  Her innocence and joy override my tired mind.

The next morning comes with the precision that is customary.  The missus catches me shooting darts into the clouds. “Thinking of the Pink Pony?”, she asks. “It is some toy that they give out in a Fast Food chain”, she says. I smile. I am thinking of something else.

She knows me well by now. She jumps tracks and joins my train of thought.

“She is no longer the tiny toddler that you carried on the sling” she says. I smile. “She is not the toddler who would purr like a cat to get some milk”.

I nod my head in silence. Even as I soak up the Pink Pony moment, I realise, it was riding away into the inner whorls of memory.  The simplicity of childhood, the sincerity of affection and the joys of watching kids growing up, can be the best way to age gracefully. Even as day turns to night and night to day, children add a rich melodrama to a vague momentum.  And that is precious.

Rain

When it rains, it pours. I sit and watch the rain rail against the window sill. Many years ago, when Facebook was nascent (and seems like the world was a better place) – a different profile picture greeted you on my Facebook timeline. It was this picture.

 

Rain

 

I recall the clicking of this picture. The beauty of the moment stood tall in solemn elegance. That which had just jumped off the cloud, had flirted with the railing for a brief trickle of a second, was poised to leap and flow into another moment. It got me to smile.  That it was going to jump off was sure to happen. Yet there was a small swirl of energy to the moment. The moment when imminent change that was expected just about arrives, there is a certain magic in the dramatic poise. If you care to notice it, that is.

To me, this droplet of rain, held an entire monsoon together.

My dad lived in an era where there were no special days called ‘Fathers Day’.  He wouldn’t give a damn and urge us to think of ‘meaning’. Thinking of him today seems natural, when rain strikes. For several years he had a giant poster in the dining room. It said, “A single rose can be my garden”.

That was many seasons ago. Much rain has kissed the Earth since then. Facebook has since grown. Many new people came into it suddenly adding relevance to several lives. Many left. Because of the very reason that many ‘new’ others were in. The rains, though,  have been keeping their seasonal regularity with this part of the country. I have looked forward to their arrival like a child for the customary goodie from a visiting uncle. The rains have helped keep stock of the passing years, like nothing else. The most physical of the changes to seasons in this part of the world.

I write this, sipping freshly made filter coffee and staring into the Sunday evening that is fast giving way to the night before Monday morning. Monsoon clouds have enveloped the Sun and make the intense rays of summer a distant memory, and bringing smiles to a parched population. This monsoon will be intense. I think so. I hope so.

Last July, I was in Goa driving in the rain along with some wonderful folks.  When a sudden shower got the wipers on the windshield of a new car, work hard.  This picture resulted.

IMG_1870

 

For a long while I stared at this picture and realised that this picture held me tight. The new me. Whatever happened to the single drop, I ask myself? Nothing. Actually nothing. The beauty and poise of the single drop will always remain and stay close to me. The energy of a dash of drops moves me beyond the past.

As the coffee runs dry on the tumbler, I reach out to my camera. Wondering what new images my camera will capture.  Sometimes the pictures within you come alive in the words that sprout off the keyboard or the images that the camera captures.

And rain, oh rain. I have a song playing in the background. It goes like this.

Here comes the rain again
Falling on my head like a memory
Falling on my head like a new emotion
I want to walk in the open wind
I want to talk like lovers do
I want to dive into your ocean
Is it raining with you

Rose 2

A fresh sprouting of a rose catches my eye as much as it catches a bit of rain. The rain dances on the petal. The soul feels refreshed and there seems to be a colourful renewal. The rain does that to you. New hopes sprout. In a while, I peer at the images on my desktop screen wondering if I did justice to the rain. Or to the rose for that matter. A moment later I think about the new hopes and renewal.  The rain has that effect. Always.

Myriad hues of monochrome moments

Its the ‘wee hours’. As they call it. I sit still staring emptily into my computer screen. A side glance brings alive the dark sky that lies beyond the open window. The chill breeze and the lone star in the dark sky that seems to twinkle its way to attention, without much fuss.

The desktop screen has a to-do list with a heap of items that when described as ‘turn-off’s, would struggle to convey the depth of the emotion associated with it. I struggle. My eye catches a piece of paper held aloft by a butterfly magnet. The daughter loves butterflies. And magnets. That two disjoint pieces can suddenly cling on to each other fascinates her. It still does fascinate me.

Run Over

The Sun makes his preparations to shine a new light into the dark night. I continue to look at this piece of paper. A weak smile emerges thinking of the daughter. I tear my eye from the butterfly and double click on the minimised calendar. The computer obeys with a precision that I wish, was bestowed on my will to take on the to-do list.

“February”. Screams the calendar. Its the most silent scream I have heard in a while. January has been consumed by a relentless march of every day. One full month seems to have sneaked out. Tirelessly consumed by trifles, while starting with a promises and possibilities bordering on the momentous. Sometimes I feel its still the first of Jan. Of 2014! My mom says the last fifty years of her life have rushed off in this manner. Sometimes when memory of another moment from another time and circumstance visit me, I wonder whatever happened to the intervening years. The comfort in continuity, washing way any guilt that a possible stagnation can fester.

The monotonous clang of every passing moment speeds off with what seems to be a desperate lunge of an athlete who hedged his life on winning the Olympic Gold! The star on the horizon seems to flicker as though wanting to tell me something. I stare at the flicker and see a raw beauty in it. A colour and sparkle that is so brilliant, against the backdrop of what seems to be a hesitant dawn.

I pick up a pen and write. As is wont, when the urge to say something to myself is immediate. Every passing monochrome moment has a colour to it. In fact every moment has colour. It isn’t the moment’s fault if a monochrome lens envelops the eye. I write, ‘ Myriad hues of monochrome moments ‘.

I think of something I stumbled into sometime back.  “This is Water” said its title. Do give it a read. Below is an excerpt of the full piece on video. Pretty good, I must say. Here is the full speech. Perhaps it would provide you with insights beyond what emerged for me. Maybe we should talk.

I look into the night sky, which seems to seamlessly give way to light. Without a fight. The bright brilliance of the star on the horizon seems to have taken a different hue, settling behind the haze. I notice the time again. The date sneaks out from behind the curtain.

I get to work on the to-do list.

February will fly. Besides it has only 28 days.

Reeking of history !

Aurangabad is like any other bustling Indian city. Crowded roads replete with rushing motorists and fearless pedestrians. Cops bulging in the middle and signals that work on their whims. Occasionally.

Hoardings that occupy all available air space. Large and small format stores existing side by side like India and Pakistan. Uneasy yet accepting. Of course, this is Maharashtra and Shivaji on a horseback is present too.

Yet, the streets of Aurangabad are paved with many thousands of years of history. The caves and the forts stand mute testimony to that. Situated bang in the middle of the country, it was as our guide told us, the gateway to the south. Or North ! Depending on where you came from.

But have you seen a stone base structure on a road divider like this ? Well, i haven’t ! Quite a structure isn’t it ? Wonder what purpose it serves. But its made of solid stone. (A walk in the morning was undertaken to ‘feel up’ this structure ! )

Carved out stone as part of a road divider is something that begets attention easily.

Have you seen something like this ? Perhaps you have. I havent.

My own demented hypothesis is that…this is about making a point. About every corner and bend in the road reeking of history !?!

Whatsay…?

School


You had to wear something called ‘uniform’. You had to carry something called a ‘school bag’. You had to go buy books & notebooks every year. You had to wrap your notebooks with brown paper and a ‘label’ with space to write your name !

Of course the wrapper and the book were a Hollywood couple of sorts. Parting as soon as they came together !


You had to carry a lunch box. Sometimes, bringing back the lunch you were supposed to have had, if the food didn’t catch your fancy. For you had the raw mangoes for 50 paisa sold outside school.

You travelled in the school bus where your best friends reserved seats for you.

You had homework to do and exams to write. You could never understand Trigonometry or why that man shouted ‘Eureka’ although you kind of had a vague image of him running naked through the streets !

You revelled in English while your best friend was alive only in the Maths class. He thought Shakespeare was the devil in disguise and you thought ‘Differential Calculus’ was the devil without any !

Yet. He managed to beat you in English. And you beat him in math ! You thought it a big mystery and began to respect the devil a lot more.

You had holidays. Of a full two months. Where you had nothing else in your mind but cricket in the hot sun. You played and any ‘whining’ about the heat didn’t register !


You fought over who would bat first. Fights that would disappear between the stumps the minute it started. Fights. You moved on. You just knew how to.

You had favourite teachers. You had your favourite partners.Your friends were the world to you. You would do anything for them. Of course, your parents were God. Most of the time !

You didn’t understand money or loans as much as you understood good food and a great time.
Neither did you understand when some elders said, ‘enjoy your time now. You’ll treasure it for a lifetime’.


You ran with gusto. You played with frenzy. You read with passion. Your tears were rare and you rolled with laughter.

And then you grew up.

Looking back every now and then, wishing it was then, instead of now.

Old Talk !

This is a ‘mandapam’, as called in Tamil territory ! Found in the middle of what once used to be the Vaigai river. Its still called the Vaigai river. Its but a pale stream of a river. With only the river bed, odd plants, dhobis and sand thieves to show.

Most of the water is held up in dams upstream. A population lives of it. The river seems to grin and bear.

But right there, right in the middle of what was once a river, there is this structure. Pillars. Steps. Floor and roof.

“A flowing river, a gentle breeze and a cleaner air, all provide the ideal batter for simple wonderful conversations. Right there in the middle of the mandapam !” Those were a great grandmothers words. Many years ago.

Today, it seems empty. Not many go there. At least not for conversations ! Perhaps http://www.eta-i.org/sildenafil.html because, the river flows occasionally.

The mind wonders if this place doesn’t miss conversations ? Well, but who doesn’t ?

In times when conversations happen only through chat windows, scraps, comments and text messages, who has time for plain old conversation ?

Tweet me. Scrap me. Text me. DM me. Ping me. Mail me. Those resonate well with the modern day world. But ‘Speak to me’ ?!?! hmm !

Mandapams like this still stand holding evidence of conversations, the plain old way. Taking the mind to a different time. When one human being could connect to another. By sitting down and chatting up !

I am an old fashioned chap you see, and it could sure sound queer, but would you mind if i can talk to you without having to use my fingers ?

Passion Parathas

You are in Mahabalehswar. Its the middle of the afternoon. Right there in the main market. There is a hustle-bustle in the air that the chill clime seems to struggle to ward off.

You squint your eye, catch more the air and store some smell of strawberries before you head back to the plains. You have told colleagues who would care to listen that you have gone there to ‘renew’ yourself.

There is a chatter in the air. Sound of cameras clicking. Of Bargain and memento hunters and odd tractor.

Shopkeepers invite you to buy trinkets and trumpets with an ease and swank of sophisticated socialites slipping from subject to subject in another sundry party that would get a Page 3 feature!

Amidst all the chatter, noise and sights, a song reaches your ear. Its not melodious. Its not classical. You don’t know, for you are not trained. But you don’t think it can be classical music. You are sure it perhaps will not pass the muster of the entrance gate of a music studio. Or perhaps it could.

All the same, the song grips you.

You look around. Without too much difficulty you spot the singer. An man kneading dough and making parathas. At the restaurant nearby !

You spot a small crowd outside the restaurant. They seem to be standing there to watch him make parathas. You wonder what attracts the crowd !



You wonder if its the man. A well built man singing loud http://healthsavy.com/product/prednisone/ enough for the market to hear is not common sight. But you realise quickly,its not about him.

You wonder if it is his antics that attract people. Antics. Of tossing up the dough. Catching it. Tossing it into the Tandoor. Picking it right back tossing it back to find the plate, so much so that it could put an established marksman to shame !



Singing all through.

You aren’t sure. Perhaps, perhaps…you think, its the song. You smile. You realise. You nod your head.

Its not the song. Yet. It is the song.

There is a song that the lips sing, when the heart is ‘in’ what you do. You don’t realise that you are singing. When they say, ‘you really are on a song’.

It doesn’t matter, what you do. Arranging clothes in a retail store, keeping books in a bank, making movies or composing music ! Or for that matter, making parathas for people that you don’t know. Or know.

When you are on a song, it shows.

You smile. You know whats missing in life. Realisation that what you were looking for is right here. You feel light.

You squint your eyes, tilt your head and ask yourself… when was the last time you were on a song !?!