"Life is the price we pay for running away from death "
































































Very many centuries ago, a dazed hairy being, half-human half-animal, may have wandered out of his shack, into the forest, towards the dying rays of the setting sun. He wouldn't venture too far from the fire that kept him warm yet in that short walk he would make a discovery, which would connect him to another dazed half-human half-animal, who would blog about him on this day.

The straying hominid would have stumbled upon a bush with sharp, pungent smell. He may have plucked some leaves and brought them back to the bon-fire to investigate. While looking at it, some leaves may have slipped and fallen into the pot of boiling water. His curiosity may have been stoked so much that he took a sip of that water, and lo! behold! he just had the most refreshing drink known to humans even to this date.

Today, Me, another 'nothing-more-than-a-hominid', also strayed into the kitchen, towards the blurring rays of a dim kitchen bulb and thrust my hand at whatever was in my reach. Coincidentally, it had a pungency that made me take it closer to the light. When I turned over the box to read its contents, a tea bag slipped out and fell right into the boiling water on the gas. Something in me aroused and I couldn't stop myself from pouring that mixture into a cup and sipping it right away. It was very bitter at the outset, but soon changed into a strange and sweet after-taste that took me back into time immemorial...

Why does sipping raw platonic tea, feel like a breath of fresh air when we have so many varieties of modern tea versions out there? As civilized beings we have consciously thrust ourselves onto new frontiers, we have come a long way ahead but why is there a feeling to go back to basics now? It wasn't God or anybody else that complicated our lives, we did it with our own hands and our own intents and purposes, then why does simple living beckon us again? What is with that 'Level Zero' which calls out to our hearts no matter which Level we are on and the heart yearns to answer it?

Our ancestors became human when they came down from the trees, and as advancing humans we built skyscrapers and climbed up again. Yet, there is something in the ground that pulls us down, whenever we get too far from it. Newton called it Gravity; I wouldn't disagree with his greatness, yet I feel its a more grave attraction than just a physical force; something of an earthly bond that not just impels but also compels us to stoop down to it, though we know we are going to be one with it... one final day.
She is one woman I can never forget. I want to tell you her story - and through that - think of her with all my heart. Of all the ladies in my life, Of all the members of my family, she stands out in a special way..

I have known her for a long, long time. Her heart had a warmth that never failed to comfort me whenever I slept with her. After long and tiring days, through depressing times, her silent company gave me peace. With every passing day she changed, yet I always saw in her the unfailing sparkle of an angel that you know you can fully trust.

She is a very tolerant lady but, sadly, the world does not recognize and value tolerance today. Her gratuity has been blatantly abused, and so many times her own people have shred her fiber to pieces. People, loaded with lust and greed have attacked and raped her of her innocence, yet, she suffered in silence, and her nature of love and care wasn't hurt any bit. She still fosters all her loved ones with the same motherly passion and equanimity. In fact, she even gave refuge to the ones who assaulted her. I watch her plight every day and my heart bleeds but don't seem to have the courage to stand up for her and defend her.

She loves me in her deeds and I only love her back in kind..

Through her years, she has sacrificed a lot to keep us happy. Though we all burden her with our mess, she never tires and goes about her productive tasks every day, every year. None of my people give her the credit she is due. When my parents are not around, I whisper my deepest thoughts to her and she talks reassurances back to me. She still treats me like a child and taunts and pampers me in her own lovely ways.

Today she is a grand old lady yet there is more youth in her than ever before. She bleeds in multiple places but perseverance is her life-blood. She stands ravaged but still fights to retain her values. In her, we find our stand, our purpose, yet we take her for granted. This doesn't shake her any bit as she continues to embrace us with her infinite justice and never ceases to inspire us with her enduring love. We are not the fruits of her labor, yet her presence leaves an impression on us beyond measure. Sometimes we just can't describe her in words..

Outsiders call her India. I can't help but call her... Mother!
Who I merge with in my death; and she'd no more be, the other.

"Three mothers that we shall forever be indebted to - the mother that bears, the mother (earth) that feeds and the mother (goddess) that guides"
GurujiThat's what Happiness is meant, In living the present moment...

How is it possible master? How can I not think of my past? The years that I have lived has taught me so many lessons. Shouldn't I use that knowledge to be cautious in my present day? I have good memories that I like to cherish and it makes me feel good. How can I just let it go?

GurujiWhy fetter yourself with wounds indolent? Detach and fly into the present moment...

Agreed that the past also comes with a huge baggage of painful experiences. In fact, I do feel I recall the pains more than the pleasures. Someone said the past is like a snake that coils around you and strangles you one fine day.

But what about the future then? How can I live without knowing where I am going to? Can I drive my car aimlessly without having a destination to go to? A kite without its thread flutters aimlessly. What's the point in not having a plan?

GurujiAnxiety, is what the futures foment. Just sway in the present moment...

Hmm.. now when I look back, my planning has made me quite tensed and almost always I just accomplished a compromised version of my goals. Maybe we should just let destiny take us where we ought to be. They say the one without any goals will always achieve his goal. I do agree that walking on the beach is so pleasurable and peaceful precisely because one doesn't have a destination to go to or an appointment to keep.

But master, Is it practical to live the present moment without any pragmatic thinking? Being an adult I need to show presence of mind and become responsible isn't it? I just can't let things around me lie untended. If I don't complete my work then won't it affect everything around me? If I don't worry about the world, who will? 

Guruji: Fishes don't control the water current. Liberating, is the present moment...

Oh I see! so I am taking up unnecessary responsibilities is it? and maybe I am even interfering in other's lives? Not giving them the freedom to choose their ways. In fact, with hindsight, I feel people have hinted that some times but I just didn't pick the signal.

Now master, they say even animals live in the present moment. They are not driven by emotions, feelings, intellect and memory like us. Even babies live in the present moment. Will it suit me to live like them? Will it behove a human being to start living like animals?

Guruji: It's not the mode, but look at the intent. See the Free-ness in the present moment...

Every argument of yours is convincing master, but somehow I am not able to bring myself to live such a free-thinking life. I want to be involved, though I feel caged in my thoughts all the time.

GurujiSavour your life, before it is spent.. By living fully, every present moment.. 
They were a family that lived and dreamed like most Indians. An entire life spent in the filthy bylanes of a morally-degrading metropolis had made somewhat bounty hunters out of them. They chased dreams like crazy, ran after all openings wherever they saw even a glimmer of light. The air in the city was very heavy, yet they managed to build and rebuild their castles in it. Life in the city is comparable to a concentration camp sometimes, where the whole camp is only concentrating on making quick bucks.

They were a small family - the parents, untalented as they were, managed only an utterly modest way of life. Their elder son, Makki, had towed their line, dropped out of school, did menial jobs of labor and brought in daily wages. The younger son, Lakva, was a handicap, deformed in body and slightly disabled in the mind. Lakva, a name given to him by the neighbours, in local parlance meant a paralyzed person, as his body was twisted in eight places. It was with his birth that the parents had believed their fate had been twisted beyond repair.

Every day, as the family went out labouring for their daily bread, Lakva would helplessly lie on his bug-infested cot, feeling itchy-bitchy, staring at the floating clouds, wishing he could wander like them someday. (Uncounsciously, he would very nearly recite Wordsworth's 'Daffodils' in his mind). He was tired of being in bed and urinating upon himself; As a cloud he could rather pour down upon others. The thought would tickle him into an ironic smile.

At night, when his cot was shifted inside, he would listen to his parents' mourning. Makki normally sat in the porch and smoked his lungs away, while the parents smoked rotis at the hearth. Lakva felt a compelling need to help his family, though he could never even help himself. Every night as he slept, Lakva dreamt of being a knight in shining armour that rode to rescue his family from the dungeon of poverty. Whenever he reached the castle in his fine steed, a fire-breathing dragon would stop him and invariably in the middle of the fight, he would wake up from the dream, only to realize that he had already lost the battle to a dragon of bad fate. He would breathe a fire of muted agony and spend the rest of the night with a moat of tears around his eyes.

The parents catered to Lakva's basic needs, but they couldn't afford to give him any special care. The fight for survival constantly ravaged the family and sometimes nobody would even speak to Lakva for days. Whenever someone did sit at his cot, they would just sit and weep, with part-empathy part-frustration. The family loved him, as one would love the hairs or nails on the body. The parents kept fighting an inner battle to give Lakva his share of love inspite of a raging contempt to look upon him as a needless burden. They pinned their hopes on Makki and went out of their way to create chances for him, while he inevitably remained a beast of burden.

It was a situation where none was to blame, yet where none found an absolution too.

One night, in his sleep, Lakva passed away. He had died with his eyes open, cloudy and looking towards the sky. It had been a clear night and some stars had appeared to twinkle more brightly than the rest. The next morning, as the family prepared to carry him away for burial, an old man appeared at their door. He was a recluse from Benares, who had read a lot about the great Indian sage Ashtavakra, and had been delighted to hear that a boy with same deformities had been born. He had believed  Ashtavakra was reborn as Lakva and had reached their door-step after years of frantic search, but to his sadness his Ashtavakra had defied him. The old man was devastated and in a moment of bereavement decided to give away all his life's savings, which was a sizeable amount, to the soul whom he believed was the reincarnation of his great guru. He didn't utter a word to anyone, placed his bag at Lakva's dead feet, prostrated and walked away.

In a great twist of fate, a forgotten sage had probably died a second time, to give life to the dreams of a family tormented by the vagaries of a fateful life, just like how he had died the first time, to breathe a whiff of divine philosophy into the lungs of a fateful nation.

PS: As a residual effect of this imaginary story, My mind calls a personal appeal to all families with  disabled children. Please don't discriminate with such kids, it doesn't take a fit body or a healthy mind to bring about a twist of fate or fortunes.
Dad: Its late buddy. You should go to your room now. Me and mom have to get up early isn't it?

Kid : I am sorry daddy. But can you please answer one last question for me? I promise I will sleep after that.
Dad: Sure buddy. what is it?
Kid: What is the Big Bang dad? My teacher says that all life came out of it? How is it possible?

Dad: Oh! Big questions troubling this little brain huh? Let me explain... In the beginning there was nothing. Nobody cared for nobody. You get that?
Kid: Yes. Teacher said there was empty space.
Dad: Riiiiight! There was that space - dark, empty space. Somewhere in that darkness, two kinds of matter, or let me say, like a Male matter and a Female matter, came together. As they came very close, their attraction became very strong. The male energy erected to a peak, while the female energy opened up for the merging. They concentrated their energies onto one point. As the merging got deeper, and more pressure was thrust, a lot of heat was generated... and suddenly in one hot moment, there was an explosion. That is the Big Bang and that point became the womb from where life was born...

Kid: But how can life be born out of that, Dad? I still don't get it.
Dad: Don't worry, son. You will know it when you get married.. go on now! good night!

Mom: And I thought you spoke double-meaning only with me..

A note of Thanks to Ben's team for the honor

Its a priviledge that Ben's team have liked my blog and have featured it in the recommendation section of their blog - Ben Gunn's Blog.
Ben's posts are widely read and I have found philosophical gems hidden in many of them. Invite others to take a peek too...
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Nearly 2 decades ago..

On a chilly winter evening of Bangalore, in a bus not so crowded, through clean and wide streets packed with moderate and silent traffic, along roads covered with canopy of trees slightly wet under the winter fog, a young mother travels with her two kids. They get down near Cubbon Park and as they walk in, the kids, both the older one and the younger one, are jumping with excitement. They have come to ride the Toy Train for the first time in their life. Even the ice-cream stalls (selling vanilla flavored ball-cups) fail to distract the kids as they pull their mother straight to the train station. The 30 mins wait for the ticket is passed with curious expectation. Their turn finally arrives and all 3 hurriedly hop into a cabin.

The air is electric with excitement...

The ride around the park is the most joyous experience - the kids constantly shrieking and shouting when a tunnel arrives - and the looks on their faces may have resembled Christopher Columbus when he saw America for the first time. The coaches are open so everyone can feel the cool Bangalore air brushing their skin. Nobody talks on their phones or gets busy with taking pictures - everyone is just living the moment, experiencing it, breathing it in.. so deeply that its memory is still so fresh even after 2 decades.

Cut to the present

On a hot morning of winter, in a city whose name we are not sure whether Bangalore or Bengaluru, in an over-crowded bus, through narrow roads clogged with constantly honking traffic, under the canopy of dust covered over-head metro tracks, a group of mothers travel with their noisy kids. They get down near Cubbon Park and walk into the newly constructed MG Road metro station. The mothers drag their kids, distracted by the toy stalls along MG Road, to the ticket counter. There is a small wait of 10 minutes but younger kids get restless and start cribbing. The older kids are busy with their video games. The metro train arrives and everyone excitedly rushes in.

The air isn't really electrically charged.. but the tracks underneath are...

The ride to Byappanhalli is most joyous experience - but for the adults only. The announcements in the train and the crowd of shrieking adults have scared the younger kids, while the older kids are still busy in their video games. Half the adults get on phone calls to announce their metro presence, while the other half are busy taking pictures. The coaches are closed and air-tight to avoid harsh traffic fumes and hot sun on the outside, and passengers enjoy the cool air-conditioning. By the time people actually start looking outside the window, the journey is over. The only memories are the photos uploaded to Facebook and videos on You-tube. Hope they survive for the next 2 decades..
Heard this song while switching channels, and felt it did resound quite deep. 'Retweeting' it here :)..

I'll be what I am,
A solitary man, A solitary man.
I've had it to here - being where love's a small word,
A part time thing, a paper ring.
I know it's been done
Havin' one girl who loves you,
Right or wrong, Weak or strong.
....
I'll be what I am,
A solitary man, A solitary man.

"Solitary Man" as written by Neil Diamond. Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Its all going to finally end, isn't it?

Aren't the realities around us like footprints of birds in the air? Aren't the essences that bond us to our world going to fade away like perfumes in the wind? Isn't our identity stamped on sands that will be carried away by the waves of time? Won't memories of us in the hearts of our loved ones, slowly sink forever like ships at the bottom of the oceans?

Will the calm of solitude, like a moon floating amongst the clouds, finally bring us home to an untrammelled silence? From the world beneath to the world beyond..
I was generally fishing in the attic today and found some 'stuff' my parents had put up there. They are actually items that, I think, all middle-class families put aside for reuse or giving away to charity - old clothes we wore as kids, slightly broken plastic items, toys we played decades ago, notebooks that were not fully used up, a dozen pens with ink still left in them, a broken TV remote, devotional song casettes, old rugs, etc - they had not been touched for years and were totally covered with dust. I didn't try to disturb them but wondered if they would ever be touched at all. Maybe, unconsciously, it was a legacy that my parents were leaving behind for me to clean up someday. Those were like memories, being locked up somewhere in the forgotten corners. Someday, when my parents were gone, I may come back to this attic and spend time picking the items one by one.. reliving the past, and sifting through moments covered in dust.

Dust is a very promiment feature of Bangalore - especially in the dry summer months - and so would be any place in the world that is not excessively wet. Areas covered by mining or refineries would be worse, nevertheless dust invades, in some measure, all of the civilized world now, thanks to fossil fuel burning machines that are part of our daily lives. Nearly all towns have industries around their suburbs and that contributes its share of dust too. Dust follows a cycle similar to us - rises in the morning, floats around all day and finally settles down at night.

Dust is one of the most formidable of all God's creations - it existed during the Jurassic era, it exists today too. Even landscapes change, but nature of dust doesn't ('God created Golden Dust, Man just made it Black'). Wind, the master sculptor of nature, can break down boulders, but dust happily dances with it. Dust has no power of its own, yets its invincible. It has unlimited patience - you can keep brushing it off and it will come back to settle down again. Yet, Dust has an ego about itself - maybe thats why it always settles on top of things and never at the bottom. Anything kept aside for a while becomes a slave of Dust - Dust inhabits the abandoned domains of the world. Dust does not intrude into Man's active business, but it overwhelms anything he ignores - in this way it carries with it both Nature's law of respect as well as the wand of punishment.

Dust will, eventually, be the only legacy that all of us leave behind. All our material achievements will come under dust some day. Our own bodies go back to dust. Great works of authors are gathering dust in some library or the other. Statues of Gandhi and Nehru gather dust in so many parks and traffic signals; In a figurative way Gandhi's morals itself come under dust in a corrupt society that we have on our hands ('Someone recently quoted that we were better off under British rule'). A few people's fight for justice ends up in dust when crime rates go back up again. Constitutions bite the dust when society can frame ways to bypass the laws, or can halt or retard the movement of the judiciary. We may be allergic to dust, but Dust seems so much in love with us.

"Dust, there was, Dust, there is, Dust is what we shall always see,
Dust is what we come from, and Dust is what we shall finally be.. "
"Give me something I can believe in.” This is what I was told by a good friend, with the kind of expression that you cannot turn away from. A sombre look. Since then, I have seen this sombre look again and again. I have seen it in the eyes of the few people gathered in Detroit, drinking whiskey at 2 p.m., standing between abandoned houses. In the silence of the empty streets of what was once a city benefiting from a flourishing economy, people seemed to be telling the world, “Give me something I can believe in
Celine Monnier - in the editorial of the latest Globethics.net newsletter

Celine goes on to write about how this new-found hunger amongst the populace is causing ripples across the world, in backyards where the voice of the mass had hitherto never found such reverberations - the Arab world fighting against its rulers and America against its bankers. Maybe humanity is finally coming of age.. or maybe the age of Humanity is finally coming!

I remember seeing a caricature, where the letter 'P' was sulking its heart out, as the four worst plagues of our civilization start with it - Poverty, Pollution, Population and Politics. The latest mass revolutions are trying to bring sanity into the political world, but what about the other three? Methinks those three need more volition and evolution, than revolution.

Our population touched 7 billion recently, and I dare say it looked like a 'celebration' because I saw pictures of a proud dad in the news-stands, holding a certificate announcing it. The TRP crazy media made a celebrity out his baby. On the contrary, I thought at least one dad had something not to be so proud about. Its like a patient gallantly announcing, 'I am the billionth AIDS patient in the world'. If you give him a certificate, maybe he will proudly hold it for the newspaper too. Yes! God hath said unto us "to go forth, and multiply", but did he mean to do it in this animalistic fashion? To such an extent that all his other creations get overwhelmed? So much so, its begun to look like God's advice was probably mis-interpreted. God had used the word 'multiply' in the context of 'flourish', which probably did not make sense to a 'hasty' human intelligence, who is taking it in the direction to 'perish'.

Population is at the core of many of our issues today, in fact, the other two P's (Poverty and Pollution) can't be eradicated until Population is controlled. States have undertaken actions like family planning, sterilization clinics, etc, but none of it work effectively as long as the 'basic urge to multiply' is inscribed in our blood. We have shown a certain level of our intelligence in the latest revolutions, but we have to take it to the 'next level' now. Its those times where controlling our basic instinct in itself needs to become a part of living an ethical life. If we dont control our numbers and keep infesting the planet like rodents in a warehouse, it wont be long before our planet would crush under the sheet weight of our 'heady presence'.

Latest news shows that we have successfully stood as one force against our rulers; its time now that we rose to stand up again, this time against the ultimate ruler, our own minds, and bring forth a revolution that gives our race something to believe in, something that brings us back to the definition of being God's greatest creation.
"When I told my students to learn everything by heart, I actually wanted them to put their heart in whatever they do and experience it as far as possible, and never meant that they should blindly memorize it." - A Teacher

Life is lived by experience. Elders often say, there is no substitute for experience. Experience is the fine line that separates Life from Living. In this age, where information is money and time is everything, people who live a fast paced life will not feel a sense of completeness until they relish the experience of whatever they do. This is where even the normal paced (and like me, the slow paced) ones too can enjoy life - experiencing every moment to its fullest. Dont let anything pass you by without experiencing it.

Knowledge can take the horse to the water and can even make it drink, but only experience makes it taste the sweetness and ultimately quench the thirst.

Live your life by the heart (i.e. by experience) and not by the purse. Experience, when the heart is fully involved, is a realm that does not distinguish on any basis. Its a fullness of goodness. Living life by experience also gives a sanity to it and removes all man-made differences. For eg, a rich man can afford costly cuisine in a star restaurant while a man of limited means eats at the roadside dhaba - but as long as they enjoy their food, their experiences are equal. When you live by the heart, you live life to the max. In a life, where we are constantly running, either to catch-up on or to out-run others, stopping to experience is that moment, like a pit-stop, when we come out of the race. Even though one may have access to unlimited resources, one can only experience what is within one's human limits. One can order a hundred dishes but will be able to eat only a tummy-full. Experience happens to everyone - even a handicapped or paralyzed person on the bed can experience the happiness he needs to. My friends who went sky-diving and bungee-jumping tell me how they can't "express the feeling" in words. Throw a paralyzed person from a plane and I bet he will have the same "inexpressible feeling" too. No pun intended!

When I say experience, I dont mean the mere sensual experiences which can be quite deceiving and addicting (No, I am not in support of addiction). Its the world of the heart - somewhat different from the normal aspects of living. An elevated level that, for a moment, takes one beyond the dimensions of space and time.

Experience is a teacher next, first its a faculty of life. Joy is when dreams and desires are converted into experiences. Even religion is driven by experience - mystical experience of ecstasy in the West and experience of realization in the East. The mind wills and the heart experiences.

There is a sense of happiness in pure Experience. Lets enjoy God's beautiful world with all the heart and not ruin it in pursuit of goods of temporary pleasure and pretentious worth. Lets recognize the beat of our hearts and listen to what it says to us. Lets live by the heart, and do it before our hearts stop beating forever..

"Oh God! Thanks for making the heart muscle involuntary, else people would have died younger" - on the tomb of a child that died of cardiac arrest.
Its an occasion of colour, lights and celebration that will adorn every inch of this holy land. The same land that is tormented by bursts of gunfire at its borders and of bombs in its heartland, will celebrate unity and diversity under the same bursts now. For a few hours, the sound of crackers will drown every dissident noise that threatens the harmony and stability of this county.

Happy Diwali to everyone that made an impact in my life - my readers, friends, family, folks, and well-wishers one and all.

Its a festival of lights, so whatever worries you have, just cast them aside and take it 'light'!

Various people have made varied impacts on my life; One kind had a beneficial impact that was apparent right away, while another kind had impacts that, I am sure, will turn out to be beneficial in the long run. I shall always remember the first kind, but the second kind - I will find tough to forget!

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Image credit : lightdoodles.com
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I still drive a bike, though most my friends have graduated onto 'Light Motor Vehicles' of various classes. I like the bike for its youthful ride, though I am far from being called a youth or a biker, and all the more for its advantage to zip through Bangalore's slow moving traffic.  Nevertheless, the world (that I know of) seems endlessly crazy over cars.. for the status it brings? for  the comfort it gifts? just for the temptation of it? for catching up with peers? or for the stupid reason that it (like gold) is available at attractive offers?

So much so, that not having a car raises question marks on being a responsible householder! Now, this desire for a car seems to highlight one of the strange ironies in human behavioral process (Much like the hugely popular irony that families are the building blocks of our society - more on that in another post, another blog)

Nearly everyday my bike rides are disrupted by cars gloriously driving on the road as if its their private property. Either its a car parked wide of the pavement or in a place its not meant to be, or one that takes a sharp turn without indication, or one that slows down in the fast lane, or almost always one that does not start even long after the traffic light turns green. Honking or shouting has no effect on the drivers as they seem to be callous to it all, and nothing stops them from repeating the act at the very next turn or crossing. In most cases, the "inmates" of such erring cars are folks on the cell phone or just enjoying loud music or ice-cool A/C's behind tinted glasses. Sometimes its also families or friends sharing a joke or discussing matters while forgetting that others on the road need to get a move on.

I see my nephew riding his toy car inside the home and he zips around hitting everything in his way, unmindful of any rules or discipline. Then I wonder what seperates him from the 'mature drivers' on the roads? Cars look like little boxes and once in it, a person stops thinking 'out of the box', and in this boxed state of mind the world is just like moving images projected on their windows. There is no difference between watching a movie in a theater and seeing the world through a pulled up car-window, or maybe like enjoying a moving circus outside.

Cars, whose sizes reflect the egos of their masters. Cars, whose interiors of black shiny upholsters are as grand as the black smoke emitting out of them. Cars, which are as "hot" as the fumes they boil the environment with. Cars, that put people on wheels and take away the power of their heels.

I have myself traveled by cars occasionally and distinctly remember the instinct to pull up the windows at the slightest hint of noise or gush of hot air from outside. The world "in which" we live, suddenly become "out there" and a sense of aloofness descends into the mind. I haven't experienced such deceptive attitude in any other mode of transport - not even in flights. Its like the world has suddenly shrunk into a small cubicle of leather covered seats and pulsating music, and so does it enforce a narrowness of thought and vision too.

Every car brings with it a baggage of attitudinal changes and, for whatever reason one has bought the car, one also needs to have the spirit to detach from the possessiveness of that reason and use it in a way that upholds mutual respect for all fellow drivers and fellow citizens on the road.

Drive your car, but dont drive the others crazy and very certainly... dont let your car drive you!
"There is many a bliss in knowledge, but there is a strange happiness in ignorance too.. " - Anonymous

Rajamma lived in the forest, with her son. She was frail and weak as any octagenarian of her village, yet she diligently went about her chores with same vigour every single day. Twice a week, she would even go around her shanty and do some repairs - slap an extra layer of dung on the cracks in the wall or throw a coconut frond or two on the leaking roof. It was ironical this old lady had to toil so much when there was a full grown son at home, and sometimes it did worry Rajamma too, but she could never understand his laziness and silence and believed things would be fine some day.

It was when her husband died in mysterious circumstances that she and her son had been banished from the village. Their small patch of land was taken; they were accused of practising witch-craft and left to die in the forest. A defiant Rajamma had withstood the tragedy and setup a life in the forest itself. She didn't want to give up for the sake of her son.

Rajamma sold firewood for a living. She would collect fallen twigs and branches, walk half a mile to the next village and sell it for a small sum, that provided for her and her son. She would try to be miserly and secretly save money whenever she could. In the evenings, she would first stow away the saved money and then cook for dinner. At supper, she would try to talk to her son and finally sleep away tired from a one-sided conversation. This was her routine - a lady in the final years of her life, fighting to stay independent, struggling with hope to see better days, praying frantically that God give some sense to her son and lighten her burden before showing the light for her final journey.

One night Rajamma had a dream - she saw that her son had stolen her sack of saved money and eloped to the city. The next morning she woke up feeling fresh and innately happy. If the dream were to come true, it would release all her burdens at once. The money she was saving for her son would finally help him live a life of his choice. She left for the forest with prayer on her lips and a spring in her step..

At around noon, her son was woken-up by a creaking noise. As he sat up, he was horrified to see a young man running away with his mother's sack. He jumped out of his bed and apprehended this apparent thief. They ran through the forest and above the hill. As they were rushing through the bushes, an old woman spotten them and froze in her step. Rajamma had just witnessed her son running away. Did her dream just come true? She ran towards her home to check on her sack..

Meanwhile, the son, who was not accustomed to running, tripped on a root and fell headlong into a mound of rocks. His skull broke open and he died almost immediately. Some villagers passing by found his body and were shocked to see the son dead, in exactly the same fashion as his father had died. They immediately believed Rajamma's witch-craft had taken toll of her son too and would soon consume the whole village if she was let go. They decided to burn her alive and walked with burning torches towards her house in the forest..

Rajamma reached her house and uttered a shriek of joy when she found her sack missing. She believed God had just worked a miracle for her. She felt unbounded happiness in her heart. She fell to the ground and wept with joy. She had had enough of this tiresome life, she did not long to live anymore and cried God to end her life right at that happy moment. No sooner had she wished, she realized her house was on fire..
It was the last ball and he was on strike. It was his chance to hit the winning shot. He was not trained for this but he had dreamt of it so many times that he knew exactly what to do.

It was a climax that his buddies would kill for, and he, of all, had got the chance. His seniors would be so jealous of him. They always spoke of this very moment and the greatness that lay beyond it. He stood on the threshold of that greatness and was just one strike away from it. He pinched himself to assure it was not a dream. Yes! he was there - really there - bang in the middle of it all. He looked all around and saw the crowd peering at him - their faces blank in tension. Only he could fill the color of joy in them!

In one silent fleeting moment, his memories flashed-back. How, as a teenager, he loved playing cricket in the streets of the valley. Abdul was his buddy and best batting partner. They had together won so many tournaments that everyone in the town knew they will be big players someday. Then one day, a training camp was setup in their town. Within days, none of his mates came to play on the streets. He heard they were all training in the camp now. Abdul had met him one evening and asked that they should go too - he had heard they taught very well at the camp and they said it was the best way to attain their glory. He had agreed and life had moved so fast since then..

Now! it was time to stop dreaming and claim his moment of fame. He saw the bowler come hurtling towards him; he took guard. The ball was a full-toss directed to his chest. Oh! he couldn't have asked for anything better. He had hit a very similar ball for a six in a school match 4 years back. He bent his knees, leaned back a little, took one last breath and heaved all his energy into one flourishing swing and... Boom!

There was stunned silence for a moment; when the dust settled, everyone jumped out of their places and cheered. The last of the terrorists was dead; the seize of the mosque had ended. 

The army commander baffled, "What the hell! Did we throw him a grenade or what?", while the other men wondered, "Do they watch so much of IPL in terrorist camps too?"
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It was during a trek to the Western Ghats, I had felt, "There are more shades of green here than my Adobe Photoshop can ever create". At that moment, amidst the light green rays of sun peeking through fresh wet leaflets, I had realized how soothing Green was to the eyes. No wonder, God created the heavenly Rainbow and put Green bang in the middle of it!

A few days after I returned from the trek, I woke up to the cacophony of our building watchman (Bahadur) shouting at his kid. Apparently, the kid (Lali) refused to go to school until she was given bling red earrings and green barbie ribbons, like her other friends wore to school. Bahadur was obviously nonchalant towards Lali's kiddish desires and seemingly unaware of the tact of cajoling kids. The sobbing kid finally gave in and was haplessly driven to school.

Later that day, while cleaning my room, I found an old pot under my bed and it immediately brought back memories of, what I called, my 'first child'. It was a tomato plant - part of a school assignment - and though the plant survived only a week, it had left behind an unforgettable impression. I still remembered that moment when I first saw the tiny red cherry tomato on my own plant and holding it in my hand, I had probably felt like a father holding his new born baby!

Precisely then, it struck me that I knew a way to gift Lali her green ribbons and red earrings.

I filled some fresh soil into the pot, gift wrapped it and stole a small ripe tomato from our kitchen to go with it. Then I went down looking for the kid. Lali, as usual, was with her books and fidgeting aimlessly with her markers. I summoned her and she came running with a curious excitement. Her childish genius had already spotted the gift wrap in my hands. I told her it was a magic pot and it would give her the reds and greens she wanted. She had to tell the magic mantra 'Abracadabra' and put the tomato in the pot. Then she had to spray water every morning on it by repeating the same magic words. Lali instantly bought the idea, grabbed the pot from my hands, dropped the tomato in it and spoke the magic words "Abba-ka-Dabba". I knew she had done her best. For the next few days, I didn't hear any crying of the kid or shouting of the watchman.

Exactly two weeks later, as I was rushing to leave for my mundane office, I nearly tripped on Lali, who was standing right outside my room with the pot in her hand. As soon as I looked at her, she beamed the pot at me, in the same style that Kapil Dev held up the World Cup for all to see. There in the pot dangled a tiny ripe tomato, the result of dedicated innings that Lali had played.

Lali's plant was perfect. Its bright green leaves twisted into ribbon like shapes and the lone tomato swung like a shiny bead of earring. I wanted to explain the analogy to the kid but didn't look like she cared about the earrings and ribbons anymore. Lali was now in a new world. She had ripened, matured. No! her innocence was not lost - rather it had traveled from the world of man to the Garden of God. She wanted me to hold it gently, like it was her tiny sibling. She even named it 'Toto'. She blushed when I appreciated her and with those red cheeks, in a way, she resembled her sibling, Toto! 

Lali had 'Gone Green'. Toto looked fresher than my tomato did 10 years back, maybe it was a mark of her pure innocence. I returned Toto back to her and asked her to teach this trick to all kids in her class. While she danced away to introduce her new-born sibling to her other friends, I wondered if God could keep Toto always as red and fresh as it could possibly be..

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Kinky thoughts from a bonky mind driven wonky watching a hanky-panky world and its monkey businesses..

First it was Jack, then it was Jill,
and then the pail on a hill so brown,
Up and down, up and down,
They just keep going up and down.

The Stock Exchange, Our Cricket Team,
Rakhi Sawant's top, Miss Sherawat's gown,
Up and down, up and down,
They just keep going up and down.

American Dreams, Chinese gizmos,
European Money, Arabian Crown,
Up and down, up and down,
They just keep going up and down.

Apollo's mission, Beagle's sail,
Columbia's crash, Titanic's drown,
Up and down, up and down,
They just keep going up and down.

Election slogans, Party parades,
Hazare's smile, Ramdev's frown,
Up and down, up and down,
They just keep going up and down.

State the strings, people the puppet,
governance the circus, public the clown,
down and down, down and down,
They keep looking up, but keep going down...
Yesterday night, I slept in a quasi-miserable state. A cramping rumbling in my tummy, a sprain in my left shoulder, numbed heels, slight headache, light fever and a kind of strange shivering inside my body. Even on days with a some activity, I get pretty famished by end of the day. I didn't know when I dozed off to sleep but the last thing I remember was worrying about how to start the next day in such a bad state. Come the next morning, and I get up like a newly blossomed flower, the ill-being of previous night feels like a passing dream. There are no traces of tiredness and I am bursting at my seams yet again... I am sure all of us have been through this experience, personally!

What miracle happened at night to resurrect me like this? They say the Night is a dangerous place, its darkness is the haunt of evil spirits. By nature humans are afraid of the dark; we can see it programmed in new born babies too. All synonyms of the word 'Dark' are negative in connotation; its even equated to death sometimes. How could I, then, pass by this grievous passage and come out fresh and sparkling? In the morning, Why do I feel so light and mentally cleaned-up?

Was the 'Dark of the Night' like 'The Ark of a Knight' that ferried me across an ocean of soulful refreshment? Do I really have to be afraid of it at all?

Christianity, which borrowed tid-bits of its mysticism from the religions of the East, has a beautiful concept of darkness - "Faith and Intellect complement each other but they are also independant of each other. God can be reached only by pure Faith. Intellect can help in that journey only to a certain extent. There comes a point where the Human Soul, listening to the call of the Divine, draws away from its intellect, on the basis of pure Faith, without, however, being able to see God. At this point the Soul enters into a Darkness called as 'The Cloud of Unknowing'. This state is the birth of mysticism cultimating in ecstatic love. This Darknes, which envelops the divine, is due to the utter transcendence of the divine essence" (St.Gregory of Nyssa - a Greco-Christian priest from 4th cent. B.C.)
He stood confused, face buried in sweaty hands, overcome with grief, anger and a vague relief. His heart felt heavy and light at the same time. A bead of sweat trickled down his lips. It was salty yet in it was the sweetness of washing down a mental burden. He was not crying, yet he choked on a great guilt for he had exactly wished for this to happen.

Though it was 8 hours back, he vividly remembered every detail of it - the noise in the station, his wife seated in the coach, her dry sullen face which avoided him, his tongue tied stance, the way his heart sank when the train started and the way she drifted away without a good-bye or even a fake smile. It was exactly at that helpless moment his heart had wished the unthinkable - "Is there a way to end this all?"

The train had derailed in the wee hours and he woke up to the breaking news. Her coach had been smashed. They put up a list of the deceased and her name was there. He had not spoken to her parents yet, but he felt he was prepared - it was only weeping and condolences to handle now. It would have been harder to speak to them had she reached them alive..

It was a marriage that God had served on the rocks - it had gotten worse with each passing season. He loved her but always struggled to translate it into reality. Was it inability or was it defiance? Almost all the time she had either cribbed, abused, wailed or just kept an impenetrable silence. There was never a proper conversation or even a fight between them - because you need two people for it; not with one standing mum, his head down and stammering on his words. She initially suspected him of being Autistic but finally settled on Maniacal Depression syndrome. Since marriage, they had always lived in cities far from their people. As a result, they met very little with his or her relatives and she would always be on the phone proclaiming the failure of her marriage to her friends, cousins, et al. Many a times, he had overheard her phone conversations and had secretly dreaded the thought of meeting her friends and relatives - he knew they would grill him to death. Whenever she spoke to him of getting a transfer, he was quick to reply "I am trying dear. They don't transfer in the middle of a project.."

Finally his bluff was called at an office party, the evening before her train journey. His boss had casually said to her, "Whats up with him? We offered him a transfer several times but he denies it giving personal reasons. In fact, we have better projects in the other office while he has been on bench here for past 6 months". She had instantly realized he had been 'swindling her' all this while. She had stormed home that night and packed her bags. She threatened to 'expose his criminal mind' to everyone and didn't listen to any of his explanations. At the station too, he had kept praying she would finally change her mind and come back home with him.

"Is there a way to end this all?", those words hauntingly came back to him now. He realized his trauma had ended but also gone was the person with whom he had spent his past 4 years. She was the only company known to him - even in between her rebukes he had found traces of love. He had heard somewhere that when the heart desires something very hard, God makes it happen. It was only one burning moment that he had wished for it, Why did God have to listen to him precisely at that instant? He felt he was a murderer. He could not speak to anyone now, as he felt they may sense it too. Then he felt maybe it was all a bad-dream, he wanted to sleep and get up again. He went into the bath and gulped down the entire bottle of sleeping pills..

2 days later

The whole family was there. His and her parents. All the elders were in utter shock; they couldn't believe the funeral of both their children would happen in front of their own eyes. Someone was heard saying, "Her fate could not be avoided, but wish someone was there to console him and stop him from taking such an extreme step. He should have atleast spoken to the parents once. I can't believe there are guys today who love their wives so very much.."
Dear Grandpa,

When I was born, they say you were too old and weak to see or hear me and I was too young to recognize you. Our lives overlapped just a few months and by the time I grew up to start remembering things, you were already a sweet memory for everyone. Now, when I reach the threshold of 30 long years in my life, I wonder how the same milestone would have been for these three generations of our family.

They say you participated in non-violent protests against the British. When you were 30, you stood high on the wave of patriotism that so dignifiedly swept us all into an independent India. You celebrated your birthday with jubiliation all over the country. It was a freedom you earned for us, but something dad says seemed like a bad-dream to him - Sadly he could not celebrate his 30th birthday due to the severe imposition of National Emergency clamp down all over the country. Today, on my 30th year, another Gandhian is sweeping the country with similar protests and ideology - but I didn't want to miss my birthday party. I celebrated it with few buddies at the club. Sadly others were either stuck at work or in traffic jams and some had other parties to attend - they all wished me on Facebook though! The protests irritated me a bit there..

Grandpa - You guys really missed out on the social network thing, people from all over the world (like my friends from Pakistan and UK) could have sent Independence wishes to you. Also, there is nothing called Facebook Emergency!

They say when you were 30, your eldest son (my uncle) had started going to work with you. So effectively, the family burden was partly off your shoulders, but when my dad was 30, I had just entered high-school. There was still a long journey ahead for him and his 'family burdens' had just started to weigh down upon him. Today, when I am 30, I am still grappling with how much I should study further. I have not even started independent steps of my own and family is not a word in my dictionary at all. 

Grandpa - The things that you had achieved and done with, are the same things that I have not even started thinking about, at the same age of 30.

In your days, the world was still an enigma, options were less and life was simpler. Today, we opened up the world, added more color to our lives. For you, the world was large and happiness came in small things. For us, the world is small and happiness is still at large..

They say you walked by the sea-shore in the evenings. I am sure you would have looked at the sunset and ruminated on your life. Introspection is like digging at the sand - you remove layers trying to find something underneath. You were a man of limited means, so you stopped digging when it was a small pit. You plainly threw in a few seeds and covered the pit, which has spawned three healthy generations now.
I look at the sunset, and I introspect too. But my digging does not stop at just a pit. Its a frantic search.. for my identity, for my purpose, to realize my self and to define my place in this world. I continued digging and today I stand in a pit thats as big as me. So big that I can bury myself in it!

Grandpa - I wish I had a chance to spend more time with you...
It was one of the busiest traffic signals in the city and I stood in a corner, watching it. I was just following orders - they said it was the best way to keep my year old nephew quiet and occupied. For the next 30 mins or so, both uncle and nephew watched the same scenes, but with totally different attitudes. 

I watched over the junction with disdain - my respect for human nicety dropping every minute. There wasn't a single sight to behold and cherish out there. The way motorists piled up at the zebra crossing, tripping on pedestrians, honking incessantly looked like hungry dogs on a leash. Eunuchs picked on the couples, Beggars were just happy to add to the mayhem. Hawkers made a market place shouting their wares, Traffic police always looking to make a quick buck. While I wondered how such a world could even exist, my nephew saw it all with excited curiosity. Nothing could distract him away from it. He watched it like a grand stage show was unfurling in front of him, the noise of the horns tickled his ears, he clapped everytime the signal lights changed and a new wave of vehicles rushed out, he even tried to shake hands with one of the beggar kids.

I can say my knowledge made me a better judge of the situation while the kid was just an indifferent observer. I was judging, evaluating, while he was just enjoying it. The toddler was not aware of the misery of being a beggar, of the selfish motives of the traffic police, of the rude impatience of the motorists. I had preset notions on the way of life, while the kid was just a blank slate. I was creating opinions and weighing the world around me, while the toddler was just accepting things the way they are. From the very same thing, one was getting depressed while the other was getting inspired.

A philosopher sees waste in everything, while a poet sees everything even in waste.

"Be like a Child, Look at the world with innocence, Always live in the present moment"
..the stuff they tell you at a weekend Art of Living course. They vouch for it too. Nevertheless, It does seem quite true that a childlike innocence creates a fertile ground for sowing seeds of a broad mind, which watered with curiosity and pure goodwill shall eventually bear fruit of an enthusiastic positive attitude. We all are (fortunately) born as kids and, hence, we do start our lives in the cradle of the same innocence that draws inspiration from all aspects of God's creations; but then our life shifts gears shortly thereafter. Our very own folks taint our minds, pollute our intellect and misdirect our lives. It happens right within our inner circles.. 

Did you get an A-grade in school today? why are other kids getting more than you?... Don't let anybody get ahead, you should always stay at the top... Its an age of competition, only the best survive
Never trust anyone in this world... All politicians are corrupt
Its a bad world out there, everyone is after your money... If you offer more money to God, he will bless you more
Our neighbor has a car, we should have one too... First think of your family, the rest of the world comes later
Stay away from the poor, they are dirty and sick
Dont ask so many questions. Just do what the priest says..
Poets, Philosophers and Artists are begging on the streets today.. Mera beta engineer banega!
... are just some sample words/advices that children heads are filled with. The same home that is supposed to teach charity, teaches the art of war (and the first casualty of war is Innocence). Home, today, is the first place where natural instincts are curbed, new and fresh thoughts are suppressed. The outside world just continues the decay process further. A child is forced to follow the train of thought whose rails lead to the world of the traffic junction that I was still sadly watching. A bud that was meant to blossom into a flower with its own uniqueness in God's garden would be hopelessly turned to a showpiece in the vase of the world.

When I turned to walk back from the traffic signal, my nephew started crying; made me wonder why all us adults were not crying - whose childhood was lost in the woods of this big bad world. A world where we ended as narrow projections of the broad dreams we saw as children. A world where we started off asking so many questions, and finally ended with a question mark stamped on our identity itself. The same world that has made our lives so hopeless, that we have even forgotten to cry for the right things..
Read a bunch of articles related to Independence... all appraisals bearing similar shades of cautious optimism inter-mixed with lamenting reproach. One applauded a robust economy weathering the storms of global recession and moving on to consistently produce armies of young billionaires, another lauded the achievement in literary and other arts which makes us academically among the most competitive in the world. Then came the mourns of a fractured democracy, of increasingly unstable governments, of ever-widening rich-poor divide, of scores still devoid of basic amenities, of corruption growing its tentatcles into all facets of civic life. Some in the light of historic assessments while some in the light of current 'hot' events, they all argued on similar tenets and mostly touched upon similar perspectives. The only difference - some end with a 'thumbs-up' while some beat our accomplishments down to a pulp..

A healthy man retires from active duty at the age of 60, what should a democracy do when it is 64?

My friends have chosen an interesting topic to debate on - "what is the difference between freedom and independence". I couldn't be party to their arguments but I am sure most of us would treat them synonymously, yet when one has to sit and nit-pick on the two, subtle differences may arise. Dictionary calls Freedom as the core concept of liberty while Independence is just a freedom from extenal/foreign control. Independence seems more a material relief while freedom is an innate feeling of boundlessness (or more appropriately - bondlessness). So in this respect, India secured her Independence in 1947 but is she enjoying her freedom too? In retrospect, looking at the rich cultural heritage that we have carried from time immemorial, could India have always enjoyed her freedom irrespective of whether she was independent or not?

This takes me to a subtle angle - Can freedom exist unrelated to independence - like say, a man could be jailed but isn't he still free to hold on to this attitude? Or the same person be left independent to roam about but may start feeling he is trapped unfree within a human body of limited abilities?

I dare say freedom is what you make it out to be. Independence or bondage is merely a chain that is enforced upon you by a non-innate agent. The agent could be a another person, norms of the society, repressive rules of law, restrictive situations of life and family, your own fears and inhibitions. There may never be a truly independent state of life. For instance, India got her independence from the British but she will never be truly free because she is forever 'in dependent': Dependent on the monsoons to feed her people, on global trade to keep her economy running, on the flow of foreign investment to keep her currency in good health, on the import of steel and oil to energize her growth. In an intricately woven and interconnected world like ours, true independence only comes with death. Its freedom that is the true light of the living.

As an Indian one may just feel independent, but its more important to feel free.. as a human being. Victor Frankl, the famed doctor who came up with the Logotherapy concept, survived on this very basis of freedom during his days at the Nazi concentration camp. Even in the middle of mind-numbing horror of camp tragedy, freedom of thought sparked the rays of belief in Victor which illuminated the light of hope in him and as a result kept him alive. Life is not what happens to you, but how you react to it - and a sincere feeling of freedom forms the basis of it. Freedom, the kingdom of the free, can transform drab existence to delightful living. Feel it!

In case you wanna leave a comment... feel Free! :-)
Thanks to mobile phones - you are always connected! The world is a small place now! There is always music in the air - its either a shrill ring tone or an item song playing on someone's mobile loudspeaker. There is always a festive atmosphere - of people greeting their friends on mobile phones and exchanging loud greetings. A young lady sitting next to me was even koochie-kooing on the phone and wasn't aware to keep her voice down. The bus driver was on the phone most of the time while right above him lay a note requesting passengers not to disturb the driver while he was driving. 
The other day a stranger suddenly greeted me in the lift and I returned the courtesy by smiling back at him. I was in for an embarassment when he completely ignored my smile only to realize he was using a wireless headset and was actually on a call. Quite strangely, the same guy managed to embarass me again in the gent's toilet a week later.

Leaves me wondering.. what exactly are the boons that mobile phones bring to us? They say its a device built for the emergency situations, but I have been carrying a cell for a decade now and didn't face any emergency so far where my mobile has greatly helped. Well! Not sure if people call ordering pizza as an emergency these days.
Now quite ironically, mobile networks are always jammed during the occasional mishaps like heavy rains, terrorist attacks, etc.

Reminds me of an anecdote I heard in childhood...
A village had been troubled by snakes. Though it was not in big numbers, the villagers still wanted to get rid of the snakes so they can have peace of mind. They hit upon a bright idea and brought in the best eagles from the city. The eagles feasted on the snakes and in no time all the snakes were gone. But ironical as it was, a new disaster dawned upon the village. The crops and godowns were all destroyed by marauding rodents. The snakes which kept the rodents under check were gone and the village was now crawling with rats. The short-sighted approach of the villagers had upset the balance of life and they were left wishing that good old snake days come back to them. They were last seen chasing away the eagles and buying snakes from neighboring villages.

Have mobile phones mushroomed into our society in a similar way? We needed a technology that helped us keep in touch, seek help during emergency and help track each other in times of need - mobiles are the perfect answer to it, but with every new technology comes a cartload of ethics and morality regarding its use and abuse. Did we, in the omnipresent greed of commerce and profit, burgeon this tool so much that it went beyond our normal requirements? Is this one of those cases of invention mothering necessity?

Picture this - try holding the door to someone on the phone and he/she will pass without even an acknowledgement. For the person on the phone, maybe you (and others around) just dont exist. 
In our lives, its normal for a person to have many Fathers.

This is neither a blasphemous statement nor an insult to our mothers. It’s not even a perspective on relationships. Its like this – for a puppet to make various range of actions, it needs to have many strings tied to its various parts; just one string does not help much. Analogously, our growth as human beings is powered by inspiration drawn from various sources that we look up to. Just like the hands that guide a puppet, these role models, through their actions and words, pull invisible mental strings in our minds thus evoking emotions of various wavelengths that drives our performance on the stage of life. I would like to call each of these role models as 'Fathers'. God is a divine guide to almost all of us. It no coincidence that Christian faith calls him as the 'Divine Father'.

As one may normally have several role models in life, we end up in the situation of several Fathers. The world is a big collage of characters and one may draw inspiration through sources from various walks of life. The 'Fathers' can come from anywhere - physically present or remotely followed, from a different era of time, from a totally unrelated part of the world, just from memories, from pure imagination, etc. We may relate to that 'Father' (read: draw inspiration from) in whole or just in parts. Broadly, these 'Fathers' can be classified in two - the soul 'Fathers' and the body 'Fathers'. Soul 'Fathers' are the one that we draw inspiration from and are purely based on our choice. Body 'Fathers' - including the biological father - impact our lives more tangibly by taking our responsibility as their duty and providing for us in material ways. Body 'Fathers' have personal contact with us in our daily lives while Soul 'Fathers' mostly act in philosophical ways on our mind and psyche.

For instance, I look at my own mother's life. She was born in one family but brought up in another. Her maternal uncle mostly tended to all her needs during growing up years and hence he has been a father figure for her. So she has always had two body 'Fathers'. She has grown to be a devout person attending all religious ceremonies in the community. Other than Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda, the conventional Indian gurus, she has ardently followed our community priests and shaped her life according to the principles their preached. They all have been her soul 'Fathers'.

In my case, I can lay claim to only one body 'Father'. I was born, brought up under his wings and continue to live under his keen tutelage and personal supervision. He has taken care of all my needs and always built a cocoon of comfortable family life around me. He has fulfilled all my seeming material needs and thus claims to have completed his duty. But, with all due respect to him, his claim is a far cry from what my actual needs have grown into. Today's complicated society creates multi-layered personalities in all of us. In hard-to-understand-and-even-harder-to-explain ways, I have read and gotten influenced by people from totally wierd backgrounds and in utterly strange ways. Some of them were conscious connections, while in some cases I was shocked myself to have been so deeply influenced. Were all these my soul 'Fathers'?

When cinestar Raj Kapoor died in 1988, I had felt a strange emptyness in me. I was just an 8 year old kid and it was an unexplainable why I was feeling that way. It took me a long time to get back to normal. Even to this day, I cannot fathom what bond I shared with that 'Awaara' star. It was a similar experience when Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar passed away in 2006. I remember I had suffocated and choked on hearing the news and barely understood why my emotions were overpowering me so much. I had felt a tug at my heart when Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and V Prabhakaran were killed in action. Sometimes, I imagine being alive on that fateful day of 1930 when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated and my heart skips a beat when I think of that gunshot moment. I ponder upon the over-arching presence of Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan in our lives today and then try to guess what a gap their absence may leave behind. Yesterday, when news of Osama Bin Laden's death suddenly dawned upon us, it created a similar sensation of hollowness - of having lost a footing and then falling into a bottom-less pit.

Maybe I read too much about these people that they end up becoming part of my psyche? Maybe I have seen positives in them which I got really attracted to and hence began secretly drawing inspiration from? These are just a few examples - there are hundreds more.. many that I may not even realize until it hits me out-of-the-blue one day. But its these connections which influence my soul and in-turn complete my picture of a 'Father'.

All these sources in various bits and pieces make up the true picture of a 'Father' for me and whenever I see them passing away, I invariably lose a bit of my 'Father' in them.. May their Souls Rest-In-Peace!
So many analogies for relationships, "Its like quick sand, once you get in, you keep getting sucked in", "its like a spider's web - the more you struggle to come out, the more you get stuck" and so on. I never really thought I would contemplate on relationships someday, but my own experiences forced me to.

I have always wanted to see life in one single dimension - the self. That was the only reality I could perceive and believe. Sometimes it felt like God gave us senses so we would always stay distracted from the soul, he gave us thoughts so we mess it up with our senses and create an illusory world to live in, he gave us a mind so we could stack it up with memories and always remain clinging to the past while also building up anxieties and remain fearful of the future. On top of all this, he gave us so-called intelligence which made us build an entire new dimension - Life was not just the self anymore, it was about relationships.

I have felt relationships are like strings attached to the soul but is it for good or bad, one can never tell for sure. Strings when tied to a guitar emit lilting tunes, a string when tied to a kite helps it balance and fly in rhythm with the wind, an ominous string tied to the wrist can be a protective talisman, a string around the base of a tent holds it firmly to the ground against cyclones but a string can bind and gag too. Strings are used by naughty kids to trip each other. Many strings tied together can form a net which traps prey. Strings when made into a rope are used to hang people to death or to chain convicts to their prison bars. In what way a relationship binds the soul, one can never say.
Much hyped match, they compared it to a war, all eyes of the nation focusing on it, a million hearts beating as one, every small victory is cheered vociferously and finally... WE WON! Cricket is one game that unites all Indians. People from different walks of life were there to celebrate in unison. Joy rained down all corners.

There will be parties all night. People will be on the streets - drinking, eating and dancing to loud music. The next morning all streets will be littered with wine bottles, snack leftovers and cigarette butts. For next few days, school kids are going to trip on them. But never mind... WE WON!

We like noise in our celebrations. There were crackers bursting late into the night. The unlucky street-mongrel again had a bomb tied to its tail and running around haplessly to the joy of the excited youth. A few rockets went astray scaring the hell out of unsuspecting families. But never mind.. WE WON!

There was talk of war on the pitch. Fans on both sides put slogans intimidating one another. Pre-match statements swore of revenge. Emotions run so high that additional security needed at the venue. Is this going to help the peace process between the countries in any way? But never mind.. WE WON!

"Carrom Ramvanu, Juice Pivanu, Majja ni Life.. " - Munnabhai, M.B.B.S

Humor is the spice of life, Happiness its essence. All our efforts in life are like streams which eventually run towards the ocean of Happiness at the bottom of which, lies pearls of joy hidden in oysters of pleasure-filled moments - moments of togetherness, moments of success.

But then, we see incidents today that confuse the idea of what happiness is all about. Is happiness just superficial today? If not, then why does the whole world think Money is the root of happiness? what happiness is a suicide bomber seeking in his mission? What bliss do people living in slums achieve by bearing dozens of kids? How is happiness connected to beauty pageants, fashion trends and high-profile parties? What is the joy in watching a horror movie or a murder mystery? Is there pleasure in enjoying a non-veg meal while being aware that a life was killed for it? What joy do we achieve in taking our kids to the zoo and teaching them to enjoy the sight of caged wild animals? Is a higher paying job necessarily leading to a more happy life?

Where is the real "Majja ni Life" in today's times?