Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bharath - 15000 not out

The title is a refer back to the Manyavar ad featuring Virat Kohli. Virat ends the ad by saying "India, 70 not out". As you can see, I changed the title. India to Bharath and 70 not out to 15000 not out.

For good or bad, mostly the latter, our identity has somehow been fixated with the period the British ruled us. So when we say India, we somehow associate it with 1947+. But the attainment of political independence is a significant event and must be treated as such.

But Bharath has existed as a nation for a duration that can only be called timeless considering our lifespan. (The exact duration is immaterial for this discussion). As countries in other parts of the world split or unify based on sameness criteria, this land challenges all those notions with mind boggling diversity and still stands as one.

Personally, this land is significant because it gave me my spiritual master. This land and the culture this land forged have always had seeking as the basic premise for as long as we have known. This thread of seeking, while not always actively present on the mindscape of its citizenry, has been working in the background. This is true even when they are seemingly lost. There is an invisible thread from the core on which we are hanging. Here and there, there is a tug which produces a centering amid the chaos.

Now, after all these years, I fear we are beginning to lose it. Our mass media have given many labels for various factions, but I would simply like to call it abuse of the so called freedom of speech.

We need to remember that this nation is beyond who is ruling us now or who ruled us then. The culture of land is replete with people who always placed their own lives secondary relative to what they were seeking. Their people for kings, freedom for freedom fighters, their Guru or their ultimate liberation for spiritual seekers. Now, we want to rip off this tapestry at the earliest signs of discomfort?

Let us be clear, a phenomenon like this nation isn't happening again for another eon. The language we speak, the color of our skin, the person who sits in our parliament or the religion we practice do not define us. We are products of this kaleidoscopic crucible which forged us from its heart through the arc of time. 

What makes this nation is what we put into it. What makes this nation now is what has been put into it over eons. We have now been making heavy withdrawals and very flimsy deposits.

The baton is with us now. I will start with pride for this nation. This land is my physical and my spiritual home. I am honored that this nation chose to have me here and now. Through thick and thin, let us please stick together and see what we can put into this nation and see what we can do for Her people.

Bharath - 15000 not out! And an existential miracle!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Choose your words wisely

Words can be weapons - this is an oft encountered message for me, in varying forms and phrases. After all they're just sounds. How can they be so powerful? Even if they have some impact, can't the impact be reversed?

I try to come up with some concrete example of this. Let us say a couple adopts a child from its infancy. The child grows with them as their own child for all practical purposes. Then one day, when the child is 16, in a fit of rage, the father calls him an "orphan".

What is the impact of this statement? Perhaps, the right thing for the child to do will be to fall at the feet of his ex-parents as a token of gratitude for bringing him up all these years and then move on out and away from their lives.

Is there an undo for this action? Thankfully, Bollywood has always been one up on dramatic situations like this. To see a dramatic enactment of this scene, watch KKKG (Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gum).

In this particular case, that one word setup an exclusion. Someone who was part of the family was ousted in a jiffy. Words are indeed powerful.

I know I am speaking in metaphors. This is a pointer to something I am currently going through myself, but on a subtler level. What it is isn't really necessary to say. My intent was to jot this as a pointer on my timeline.

Ironically, I am fine. 20 years ago, perhaps I would have been devastated. By fine, I do not mean fine the way Ross Geller was. I am really fine. Sad but fine. Sad because I couldn't have envisioned this happening in any shape or form.

As Murphy says, if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. Or as James Clear says, entropy is the existential law. Go figure!

Note: If you know me personally, don't second guess the incident. You will most likely be incorrect. If you don't know me, the title of this post is the message. My personal reference can be an interesting anecdotal reference.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Dhyanalinga - The 18th

Nothing explains the possibility and the privilege of being there better than the source. I have not experienced specifics of the possibilities outlined here. But hearing them tingles me with goosebumps.

On this day, 24-Jun-2017, I had the privilege of being there. Walking through the sanctum, watching Patanjali, Sadashiva Bramhendra, Sadhguru, His Guru, the prostrating Yogi and the Dhyanalinga Himself, it was a referback to everything this culture stands for. Standing on the shoulders of giants cannot be more apt.

This wave of spirituality that started eons ago, had somehow wound through the maze of time and space and is present here in rapturous density. Sitting there in the sanctum reminded me of the privilege of being there and being part of this glorious culture. And the gratitude kept spilling as tears.

Friday, December 16, 2016


In terms of imprints in my system, Patanjali is among the strongest.

I do not remember when and how He got so firmly anchored within. It is certainly before Isha. And almost certainly Osho would be the culprit. Like Krishna or Buddha, it should be obvious I don’t have a direct experience of Him. This debilitating impact on me is due to what is pieced together of what exists of Him and His work.

Another interesting perspective: One question that was asked of Osho regarding Krisha: How do we know Krishna is not a figment of imagination of this culture? How do we know that the man actually existed and is not made up? (Question comes because someone like Him is too magnificent and too surreal to be true). Osho said (paraphrased) - “I don’t have to go digging for historical artifacts. I know there exists the Bhagvad Gita. Looking at it, I know the consciousness from which the words have come out. The fact that the book exists is proof that there was a person of that caliber in the past”. Batman is fiction. The Blue Man is not.

The same observation can be made of Patanjali. The fact the Yoga Sutras exist are proof that the person existed. I also have verbal confirmation from the greatest beings I have experienced. I am not submitting a thesis or anecdotal proof for the Nobel Prize. My concern is my growth. Some very unbelievable observations about Patanjali. (all paraphrased - I am not attributing sources)

Looking at the body of work - its depth and diversity, “scholars” concluded that it could not have been the work of one man. It is humanly impossible. But I am telling you, it was the work of one man. That was how He lived.

His brain must have been the size of this planet. No single person could have such mastery over so many different areas.

Patanjali is an unbelievable combination. He is a mystic, a scientist and a poet all rolled into one. Never before has it happened and never again will it happen.

You look at the greatest scriptures of the planet, take out their most intricate parts and look back, Patanjali has already said it. You think up something absolutely brilliant and look back. Patanjali has already said it. Patanajali did not leave anything for anyone to say about life. He just said it. It’s not fair really.

In the world of Buddhas, Patanjali was Einstein.

He is nothing less than Shiva Himself. It is just that he came later.

Okay, this last one was said by Sadhguru. I read the Tamil translation in Isha Kattuppoo. Given my already existing awe for Patanjali, the words had an explosive effect. I later had an opportunity to ask Sadhguru about this. He denied having said it and said it could be an error in translation. (I believe it. As much reverence as Sadhguru has for Patanjali, he probably would not compare two beings like this. And definitely not with AdiYogi) And as these people go, He realized I was too eager to hear Him shower accolades on Patanjali and made sure he never did that.

Ok, the man existed and he really was as great as people make him out to be. So what? For me, it is untold reverence and inspiration. It is just that, if you imagine all the great things you could do in your life and scale a thousand peaks, you will still be looking up at Patanjali and He will be a small speck a million miles away. Reaching His heights is impossible. But just the thought of the Man revs up the intensity within so much. Yoga is to kick the but. And this is such a kick for the but and the butt.

Since “…And now Yoga!” from Patanjali is beaten to death, how about these:


Remember, when Patanjali says something, he is not inspiring you. He is stating facts based on how the human system works. The inspiration comes from the depth of observation and the fact that you can implement what he says as a working process.

Above all, my greatest blessing is that I get to look at Him everyday and have a reminder of what it means to live like a waterfall of Grace and Intelligence.

Final note: If you wish to read a proper interpretation of His Yoga Sutras, you can start with Osho: “Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega”. Spans multiple volumes. If you want to read a similar interpretation of Bhagvad Gita, head to Paramahansa Yogananda’s “God Talks with Arjuna”. Again spans multiple volumes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tharai Thappattai

One of the songs I am repeatedly listening to is the theme music from Tharai Thappattai. Some facts I can tell you are: The situation for this theme in the movie is annihilation. The theme music is mostly done using tharai and thappattai. As for the quality of this song, my words fail me. Read the story below.

After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull's eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot. "There," he said to the old man, "see if you can match that!" Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain. Curious about the old fellow's intentions, the champion followed him high into the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a far away tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit. "Now it is your turn," he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground. Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target. "You have much skill with your bow," the master said, sensing his challenger's predicament, "but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot."
The analogy from the story is not one to one. But the competency demonstrated by the master is similar to the one demonstrated here. So many similar analogies keep whizzing past my head and it is very hard to contain emotions when listening to this.

That this musical piece came and went and there was no bedlam in the city makes me scoff in disbelief. My Thamizh notes on this piece.

"In shallow men the fish of little thoughts cause much commotion. In oceanic minds the whales of inspiration make hardly a ruffle." —Yogananda

Monday, November 28, 2016

The power of the void

I am currently reading recently finished reading Airframe by Michael Crichton.

I am about 40% through. It is fascinating so far. One aspect that stood out for me was a conversation between characters where one describes to the other how airplanes fly. That is, what makes them lift off the ground. I obviously read the physics of this through school and college. But it all went through my head into the exam paper and finally into my degree certificate. That was that.

What happens is that the curvature of the wing creates a suction at the tip. Not just the curvature, but the speed at which the aircraft is traveling and the shape of the wing as well. So air rushes in to fill the suction and lifts the wing up. The wing is strong enough to support the fuselage and thus lifts the entire aircraft up.

I am reminded of what Osho said about this. He said existence never likes vacuum. So the moment it sees a suction spot air rushes to fill it in. It is inevitable and there is no choice involved. *Scientists create vacuum states consciously with elaborate setups which is a different matter.

Incidentally He has spoken about this as well. There is such a thing as a Spiritual vacuum. If you manage to create one, Divinity has no choice and has to rush in. The Guru Pooja is a way of doing that. In a different context, He says there are only two ways to meet Shiva. Either you meet Him on His terms or you make yourself a zero.

Meeting Him on His terms means phenomenal competence, tenacity, endurance and strength. I am not sure how many people can fathom what this is, let alone possess the faculties to undertake and complete the journey. Making yourself a zero is creating a Spiritual vacuum within yourself. The path of devotion.

Aircraft takeoff to devotion. Spirituality is indeed science!

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

thirty seven banana peels #27 - sibling wars

For children born before let us say 1990 in India, we can take it is a given that they have at least one sibling. Nowadays, one child per couple is becoming very common (something I am very glad about). That has spawned debates about whether the child is missing the camaraderie of having a sibling and whether he or she grows up ‘lonely’.

While population is a genuine concern, that last point has a certain validity to it, drawing from my personal experience. Unlike now, I wasn’t burdened with saving the world. I had a brother and that was it. We were 18 months apart, so we were practically the same age.

While I am supposed to recall fond memories, jokes, banter and everything else that points to picture perfect nostalgia, my first big picture of our time growing up is always the fights. We fought all the time. Verbally, physically. It did not get bloody, but it was vicious from our point of view. I will say 80-20 in my favor. The fights almost always ended with my brother crying and my mother stepping in to ‘resolve’ the fight. She had a one-size-fits-all solution, which was to thrash the guy who wasn’t crying.

What triggered the fights? You name it. Who gets to read the comic first, who gets to play the video game first, if we did play a two player game - the bickering and the cheating, cricket fights, food fights. Looking back, I note all this with amusement. I presume he will look at it with amusement too. I think it is fair to say at that time these fights were a big deal.

We also had our friendly moments. We were confidants for our secrets. I recollect after we went to bed, we used to chat for long about trivia of our lives those times. Occasionally, our parents would catch wind of our tête-à-têtes and come to our room to ensure we sleep like the good boys we were supposed to be.

We never had deep bonds. I was never the go-to guy for him and vice versa. If I had met him in school or college, he probably would have been an acquaintance or may be even a friend. We wouldn’t have been close friends. Our relationship was the consequence of two lives juxtaposed in the same living space for 20+ years.

But I can assure you - it was never short of liveliness and drama. His relationship added a certain richness to my childhood growing up. It would have otherwise been lesser than what it was, and is.

Friday, August 05, 2016

thirty seven banana peels #26: Another "My Story with Isha"


Reading the stories has been positively uplifting. What a great demonstration of taking up a negative situation and turning it on its head! My heartfelt thank you to all who have come forward and posted.

Unlike others, my story is not that dramatic, laced with huge benefits. But I should list out the little I have received from Isha.

* Was suffering from major depression for 4-5 years more than a decade ago. At that time, I couldn’t recognize it for what it was and couldn’t articulate it properly. Let us just say I suffered a lot. The pranayam did not help manage it. It uprooted it from my system. That depression is just a memory now. Until today, the pranayam and the meditations form the singular fulcrum upon which my sanity and well being are rooted.

* Has helped me become a subtler person from a more gross existence. My receptivity to little things and my ability to appreciate them is clearly different and better from before the Yoga practices.

* I am filled with constant gratitude towards my mother - this blue planet. I am able to genuinely bow down to Her. Still working on bowing down to others!

* Helped me come out of some major limitations. Specifically, I am more of a people person now. This statement will possibly bring out a grunt of disbelief and disapproval from my wife. But I was positively awkward before!

* I have become devotional. I understand what it means to be truly devotional, even though they’ve just been glimpses, only because of Isha.

* My general outlook towards life has become light and playful, tinged with a background of humor and laughter (I won’t have trouble getting my wife to vouch for this).

* I’ve understood what it means to offer your time and effort to others in a caring way without expecting anything in return.

* I’ve understood what it means to stand up as a solution when you are surrounded with problems without becoming a problem yourself. #MyStoryWithIsha itself has been a stellar demonstration by the Isha community at large.

* I used to eat a lot of ice cream and chocolates earlier. I still eat a lot of ice cream and chocolates.

* Above all, it introduced me to a person who walks the talk of being an ideal role model in *EVERY* aspect of life. Intense involvement, care and love towards others, intelligence, handling complex situations, multi-dimensional talent, unbelievable articulation, humor… and I would still be scratching the surface. When it comes to spiritual aspects, I can only get started. My qualification to comment ends there. I mean, he has been unwavering EVERY MOMENT I have looked. He has been this reliable and unchanging inspiration action wise, insight wise and energy wise!

If this “ad” has been like other ads, too good to be true, do not worry. There are a few heavy disclaimers. Cliche but necessary.

* All of the above are my personal experiences. No one coerced me to write them. I know - bummer!

* The above was written using a body housing two working kidneys.

* I can smile and laugh wholeheartedly*. 

(*No N2O required)

* No force to take up monk hood. The man who forces everyone to tonsure their heads blessed my marriage with my then wife-to-be.

Finally, a friendly note to the media houses:
What I am recommending is an advanced aspect of journalism. I don’t blame you if your existing team of journalists do not carry this competence, probably because they just did the initial training. It is called basic fact-checking. Equipping at least 1-2 people in your team with this vital tool can set you apart from your competitors. Who knows, in the near future, people might start trusting what you write. Good luck!

Monday, July 04, 2016

thirty seven banana peels #25 - Dhyanalinga

The recently passed 24-Jun was Dhyanalinga’s 17th consecration anniversary. Much like how it was designed, He works like a towering presence in the background not taking any credit for anything but remains responsible for everything. Sadhguru is in the limelight because of his activity. Devi takes most of the fanfare. Dhyanalinga is the energy towerhouse in the background which is the basis on which everything is setup.

I did my first program in 2003. Visiting Dhyanalinga didn’t happen until 2006. And the house ceiling didn’t come crashing down after the visit. The 13 day program was responsible for some receptivity when I entered the temple. Otherwise, the only thing that did not keep the memory from fading was how I held him in my mind. Thereafter, after the advanced programs, Pancha Bhuta Aradhana and many other instances, I came to glimpse the unfathomable potential of this space.

There are two instances which clearly remind me about this. One evening, I was depleted energy wise. I could have gone on with my work and all. Nothing outward. The situation was more like a battery that has almost gone out and the music now is intermixed with crackle and static. I decided to go to Dhyanalinga. Thirty minutes later I was crackling with vigor again.

Another instance I was emotionally down. At work, I asked to be relieved for the day so I could go and sleep. They instead suggested I visit Dhyanalinga. I really wasn’t upto it but I couldn’t say no. So I visited the temple anyway. Again, thirty minutes later, the canvas was all erased and I was a fresh slate again.

These two instances were where there was a certain polarity setup so I could see the difference clearly. There have been instances, and these are the majority, where I am fine by myself. But visiting Dhyanalinga takes me to a higher peak. Crossing the Patanjali statue is a humdinger in itself. Then the prostrating Yogi. And finally Him. He is the same towering peak at all times. It is just that your receptivity may not be attuned to Him. Sadhguru says the true potential of Dhyanalinga will take two or three generations to manifest. I can infer what he means. If every person who spends fifteen minutes here becomes a seeker, well because he or she has no choice otherwise, what will happen to the society in two or three generations?

Monday, December 28, 2015

thirty seven banana peels #24: Paramahansa Yogananda

Many pivotal moments in my life. The really transforming ones were - Meeting Osho, The first tear drops from Ilaiyaraja’s song, meeting my Guru. Then “Autobiography of a Yogi”.

When I read that book, I had already met my Guru. But there is one chapter which is my experience-sake. Paramahansa Yogananda tries to run away from his Guru. In the process he meets the sleepless saint who makes him realize the stature of Sri Yukteswar, His Guru.

I didn’t really run away from my Guru. Not even remotely. But I sort of got settled to his presence. I began taking him for granted. Like how the motor noise in the background becomes inaudible after some time. I needed a fierce kick in the butt. The kind of kick that jolts you awake and keeps the pain on for a while.

This book gave me all that and more. Mainly, it introduced me to another towering presence. You would be fooled into thinking he was just a humble devotee who did by his Guru’s biding going by the book. He was a peak of consciousness who trod the planet during one of its most difficult times.

I can’t and won’t say thank you to these people. I keep them in my heart. There is no gratitude sufficient enough to repay them.

Friday, November 06, 2015


TL;DR - just see the infographic at the bottom

Years back I was mulling about this: If the world went vegetarian, the grains that are grown to raise livestock can be used to feed our population. Poverty can be eradicated in one stroke.

Two things I did not account for in this simple logic:

- I was a diary consumer then. “Vegetarian” included diary. I did not realize that livestock has to be raised for diary as well.

- We have enough food for our population right now. It is not reaching people who need it for complex political and economic reasons. If the right people make up their mind, it will be solved right away.

BUT - the biggest revelation in this documentary was just HOW MUCH land and water is getting consumed for livestock production. The amounts are staggering. It is even more in the face when the entire volume is distilled in terms of one big mac or a quarter pounder burger. It runs in the gallons!

The other revelation was that the activist groups were maintaining a carefully calibrated blind side towards this fact. They are content asking us to switch out light bulbs and sign petitions for keeping placards at movements.

However, as the movie was going on - I kept asking myself: If the movie insists on calling a spade a fucking spade, why isn’t population being addressed. Eventually after an hour, the movie touches upon it. But the core focus still remained livestock. The population aspect should have been addressed with much greater force. As we reach towards 9B, the existing livestock problem is going in increase manifold. We are asking people to make lifestyle changes, we need to tackle this aspect head on as well. We don’t need to set targets. I think ONE CHANGE we need to ensure is that, the net population should be a decrease and not an increase. If that happens, in the next 30, 40 or 50 years, we can go from 7B to 5B. We need not assume the population will inevitably increase.

With that minor point out of the way - the movie shows resounding integrity. If we can’t even confront facts head on, how are we going to get towards the point of making changes? With the last dietary change I made a few months ago I was able to watch the movie without guilt. However, I don’t want to associate myself with the V word even though I technically qualify for that term.

For one: I feel people can eat meat if they really want to - provided it is done with respect and integrity. I respect the guy in the movie who raised his own ducks and culled them for meat when the time came. I respect him as much as the main character in the movie who tells himself — If I can’t kill it myself, I can’t eat it. Both show as much integrity. It is just that the current meat industry (including sea food) generate the meat with so much impunity, disdain and disrespect for the animals, it is nauseating to just think of being part of this engine. I wished the movie had signaled with some warning that the duck slaughter was coming up! Even then, one aspect which I noticed amazed me. The dying duck wasn’t flapping, struggling or throwing up a tantrum. Those final pre-slaughter moment, it seemed to be aware and at peace with what was going to happen to it. It probably had to do with how it was raised until that moment. Contrast this with what the animals are going through slaughter on the factory assembly line.

Two: I don’t necessarily believe vegan = compassion. I belong to the school that taking plant or animal life is equally cruel no matter how much you hedge this with words. There is no one who can authoritatively claim plants don’t suffer when we eat or kill them (for cooking). It is just that, this is as close we can come towards making an eating choice that produces minimal visible suffering within natures design for sustenance. I salute those who have made this choice because it takes one foundational decision to make this choice - ‘I AM WILLING TO CHANGE’.

But eating = taking life. I just want it to be done with respect and gratitude towards those laying down their lives for your nourishment. But given the current planetary requirements, and given corporations tendencies to go to any end to push their bottom line a tad higher, I think V is the way to go.

Three: Some, not all V’s seem to have adopted a holier-than-thou attitude towards non-V’s. They aren’t helping the cause. It is one thing to lay down facts. It is another thing to blame or judge. If we want people to look at situations with an open mind and want changes, we need to stick to facts. Hard facts are ok. Brutal facts are ok. Judgments are not!

One example: Someone mentioned humans are the only species that drink the milk from the species of another animal. May be in the wild! Because animals can’t milk another animals, and animals do not need milk from other animals. They follow nature’s design. I know for a fact dogs are quite comfortable drinking milk because we fed our dog milk for years. In fact he loved milk so much he stopped drinking water. He never drank water to my recollection. We know cats drink milk. I loved how the doctor in the documentary put milk’s role: However you look at it, and whether you make it yogurt, cheese or whatever, milk is calf growth fluid. It is designed to take a 30 pound calf and make it into a 400 pound cow or bull as soon as possible. It is not easy for the human body to take this fluid without making major changes. But we know the body adapts. It is a fact that the body of majority of milk drinkers (barring lactose intolerant) produces lactase to digest milk. Frankly, from personal experience, I haven’t noticed a health impact drinking milk all these years. Neither have I noticed a major health benefit going without milk. Either way, this is change I am happy to have made because I don’t want to support an industry that treats animals with disrespect and impunity.

I think we need to stop asking people to swap out light bulbs and close dripping faucets. I can’t think of an analogy ridiculous enough to portray the situation. The damage is a billion fold elsewhere and we are asking people to switch off lights here.

Bottomline - The movie was an eye opener on the strain livestock raising was putting on the earth. (WOAH!). Also stunning was the fact that the activist groups were maintaining a blind eye to the fact. Given the constraints on our planet and the ridiculous larger than life lifestyle of our people, stopping consumption of animal products is the way to go if we need to have a chance at redeeming earth as we know it. I just wish the movie had put much more emphasis on human population reduction as well. It seems to take the trend as inevitable.

Monday, October 05, 2015

thirty seven banana peels #23: pranayam

For over a decade now, the Shakthi Chalana Kriya and Shoonya practices have been pivotal. They are the singularly significant guiding forces for my health, well being and sanity. No exaggeration!

When I was in my mandala period, I finished 38 days, twice a day. Then the resistance within became too much and I skipped them. I was overcome with guilt, but I must also confess some relief!

I was talking to one of my colleagues, who was my senior and also someone I looked up to. He had done the program as well. He was in a particularly hectic project. He had come to have a juice at 8:30pm. We chatted up a little.

I asked him how he finished his mandala period given the nature of his work. He nonchalantly replied that he did the practices after he reached home. I knew he started from office at 10pm or later.

“What time do you do your practices?”

“10:30pm or so…”


“After that”

And all this was just matter-of-fact. No pride or accomplishment-feeling. It was the best surge of inspiration I could have had at that time.

So I restarted my mandala period. I won’t lie - the resistance cropped up again, but I was able to ward it off for forty days and it was downhill after that.

It was at this time that I could clearly feel the pranayam taking root. It provided the additional impetus to keep going. Another two months or so, the Shoonya took root.

Now, I wonder, how I ever did without them. They saved my life!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

thirty seven banana peels #22: facebook

I have had a genuine lovehate relationship with facebook. As innocuous sounding as the name is, this social network has grown ginormously steadily and along with it its controversies. Really, my gripe is with MZ. Several decisions that the network made showed that it was really not trustworthy. But the severe beatings it has taken have shown effect.

Now it has gone out of the way to explain privacy and security settings to its users. It is still slimy at heart but there are sufficient controls to protect yourself.

I was very active once, then the series of blatantly arrogant atrocities flipped me out, so I committed social suicide [i did not coin the name]. Just before, it displayed a list of cute photos of randomly picked friends and told me “so and so will miss you”. I also proudly displayed the “not on facebook” badge on my blog. That is an old story.

I then needed facebook for my official work. Like it or not, it is necessary evil. I also missed the easy way of being in touch with my friends and acquaintances. EVERYBODY was there. And now my family has joined the bandwagon as well. Blistering barnacles - my mother is there! So I am back again. And treading carefully with bitten feet!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

thirty seven banana peels #21: dabbling with alcohol

I am a teetotaler. That is not to say I have never tasted alcohol.

During one of our project parties, one of the ‘dares’ was for ‘fruits’ like me to taste alcohol. I took two sips of Kingfisher beer. But I did not like it at all. In fact I wondered how people managed to get addicted to this.

But just to show off, I and another of my fruit-friends took a picture of us holding beer bottles and showed it to my mother and my aunt. My mother was quite sportive about this. But my aunt became very bitter and advised me saying that it all usually started like this.

There was a grain of truth in what she said. That coupled with my own observations and the fact that the first impression of alcohol was bitter (unlike say coffee) made sure I stayed away.

I had a small stab with nicotine as well. Well, not really! Read here:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

thirty seven banana peels #20: the first Kalabhairava Karma

The first time I had the opportunity to perform Kalabhairava Karma was when a close relative passed on. Kalabhairava Karma as a process itself had touched me deeply. When one of my grandmothers passed away, the kind of rituals we had to endure were mind numbing! For one, the person conducting the ritual was drunk. And add to it, we have made wailing a ritual as well. The entire scene was a cacophony. I was terribly sad that time, that my grandmother’s final farewell had to happen that way.

Fixing just that aspect was good enough, because the way it is conducted at Isha is with tremendous integrity. I have no words to express my gratitude to add to the fact that the process is happening with a real energy basis and constructed by someone who understands the mechanics thoroughly.

Now the person who had passed on was my blood relative, so I could do the process. But we weren’t necessarily close. I knew her well though. Just as me and my wife were approaching the Linga Bhairavi temple, I had a tremendous sense of premonition of epiphany regarding what was about to happen to this “being”. Just one sight of the Devi and I burst into tears - because she was the one who was going to make this happen.

The Swami who was to conduct this ritual came. Looking at him, I could sense an aura of integrity emanating from him. I am not making these up. So put together, I had terribly mellowed down. My insides were like pulp.

What followed were instructions regarding the process and then the process itself. As the process was going on, there was one “moment” where I knew exactly that what was supposed to happen to this “being” happened right then. And right then I burst into tears. But these tears weren’t an emotional response. They just happened. I was looking at this Swami with a lot of gratitude. Once he finished the process, he just did Namaste and left. No words, no air of superiority, no  pretentious humility. Just Namaste and he left.

Later, we went to the Bhairavi temple. This Swami was there and for a moment there was eye contact. I burst into not tears, but a wail and fell at his feet. I swear, this was not for my relative. It was just gratitude that a real possibility  like this was open for people now, and that people like him were making this possible. He lifted me up, pointed to the Devi and left.

After this, a flood gate sort of opened and I was wailing all the time. I lost awareness of my surroundings, but I knew I would be attracting the attention of people there. So I left with my wife from there. All the while when we were walking I was wailing. It was beyond myself. I was half wondering what my wife was thinking.

An hour later, we were back at the Devi temple. When we went near her, to take ‘prasadam’, a small boy had come for his Vidyarambam. The Ma gave him a small slate with chalk. Ordinarily, I would have just beheld the scene with amused admiration. That day, I was heady with Devi and the fact that this boy was going to start his education in front of Her struck me with too much tenderness. I burst into tears again.

Later on my wife told me she thought I really lost my mind. (In her head it was “You’ve got to be kidding me man!”)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

thirty seven banana peels #19: friends

During most of my school and college, I’ve had friends. Ok duh!

My consolidated experience of having a “best” friend was in the eighth grade. Me and him were inseparable. Yes, my crush was also my good friend but he was my best friend. This was when I was technically a teenager as well. So without knowing I invested so much of my time, emotion and my sense of belonging on that friendship.

We were together in school and away from school we were on the phone. I still remember his six digit phone number. That time, when I started eighth grade, there was no pulse for calls. That is, if you spoke for one hour or two, you paid for one call! Those old days! Suddenly in the middle, they brought in pulse. And I got an earful from my parents at the end of that month.

Somewhere in the end of the year, I had a feeling I was being manipulated by him. But I tolerated it for a long time. In the end, I couldn’t take it and I confronted him. The rift split us apart. We became bitter and went out of talking terms. It broke me emotionally and it took quite some time to recover. Our friendship never recovered.

We did try to patch up things once or twice. But I was the more adamant one. He later moved to another state. He tried to maintain contact, but I went out of my way to avoid him. Nowadays, we are good acquaintances [if that is even an expression!]. A memory of that friendship is still there, but that emotion and bonding has gone.

In college, we were a gang of four. We walked from college to the nearby bus stop daily. This was about 2 kilometers. At the end of the walk, we always had a juice and then boarded the bus to the railway station. Then we traveled 40 minutes to our respective stops. So we chatted endlessly. Cricket, academics, movies and girls [or the lack of them in our lives] were frequently discussed. During weekends, we hung out at each other’s homes and played cricket. We went to movies together. We were this way till end of college. Then time slowly took us apart. We had our fights and patches but essentially our friendship has stayed on. Nowadays we just maintain occasional contact, but we remain good friends.

I now have no best friends. But a few close friends. I often wonder how to qualify someone as a ‘close’ friend. It can either be how close I feel towards them. Or how close they feel towards me. In the end, I think the definition that makes sense for me is how much someone is willing to trust me is a measure of how close they are to me. I consider them a ‘close friend’. Of course, none of this is verbalized, which makes it subjective and beautiful at the same time.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

thirty seven banana peels #18: all in a moment's notice

A moment is when all things change. Situations go upside down and the dynamics of a person within change with it as well. I had this experience a few months back.

Some masonry work was going on and I had to move the Yantra to a side. She was residing in a spot where some work was happening. She was resting on a 6 inch raised pedestal and she is all of 160 kilo grams. A heavyweight all right! When moving, I was foolhardy enough to try and move her alone. To my defense it was 11pm and I had to leave early next day. My heart didn’t want to leave her transport to unknown people.

Thats when it happened. She came off the pedestal and landed on my middle and ring fingers. The moment of scene change! Instinctively I did what any sane person would do. I pulled my hand off before some conscious decision making usually happens. The body is wise that way.

I saw peeled off skin, and two bloody fingers. The middle finger was pressed in like it had been compressed. Both fingers had blackened at the nails. It was the most unnerving sight especially because it was unexpected. I looked at Devi and said ‘sorry ma!’. Then the pain started sinking in.

My first thought was to call the emergency number at the clinic. But I didn’t have the number. It was 11:20pm at this time. So I called my friend to get the number. Luckily he picked up. Then I called the emergency number. The doctor picked up as well. It turned out I could hear him but he couldn’t. He cut the call! I called him again, he cut the call without picking up! OMG! I looked at my fingers. They were clotting now but the pain was stinging. The peeled skin was truly unnerving still. I didn’t know if the bones were ok though. I called him a third time asking him to pickup with grinding teeth. He picked up.

I explained the predicament. He asked me to go to the clinic. Fifteen minutes later I was in the clinic and a nurse came there. Her reaction on looking at the fingers was interesting but she confirmed there was no fracture. She asked me to remove the peeled off skin myself. Like I would do that! But she said it would be better if I did it myself. My fingers were involuntarily shaking now. I asked her why. She said it was a reflex from the accident.

Together we removed the skin. She then applied tincture on the open skin! I swear… The funny thing was as she applied it, a piercing pain shot through my fingers and I started laughing. No idea why. She looked at me and asked “Is it paining?”. Through the laughter I said yes.

She then bandaged me up. Gave me a painkiller injection. Also gave me some pain killer tablets and asked me to come the next day. I was relieved about two things from the event:

* She fell on my fingers instead of the ground
* I got an extra day holiday because of this!

Eventually I found out that both fingers had contracted multiple micro fractures. The bones “burst” was what the doctor at Coimbatore said. The fingers healed for well over two months and are still not 100% normal. All in a moment indeed!

Thursday, August 06, 2015

The man with wings of fire

I had perhaps taken refuge into Higgin Bothams’ cool store to escape from that noon’s heat about fifteen years ago. I came upon this book titled “akkini chiragugal”. This was a translation of “Wings of fire” written by Dr Kalam.

Kalam had been in the background, not of my mind, but of my overall worldscape at that time. Just like Andre Agassi or George Bush was. I had no particular reason to follow him or know more about him. It was a typical teen’s luxury to be ignorant of what doesn’t interest him then.

But it has been life’s way of pointing out things to me. My most significant moments had just shown up accidentally. It was how I discovered Osho, Ilaiyaraja and Him. This book begged to be picked up. The back cover had this written (in Tamil obviously): His hands never forgot to play the Veena even after eighteen hours of focused research. A member of the EU parliament had this to say about Kalam: Statesman, Poet and Scientist. This is absolutely unique! I knew I had to read that book.

I am not against Tamil (au contraire, I love it). But I am of the opinion that a translated voice loses some impact. The fire beating in the heart of the writer doesn’t always get transferred to the translator’s heart. So I wanted to get the English version.

Reading “Wings of Fire” was an enlightening experience. The man isn’t a great orator. He doesn’t pack the power and charisma a skilled orator does. He states things plainly without sugar coating, even blandly. What he lacks in oratory skills, he makes up for it and some more with his sincerity, conviction, vast life experience and above all, humility. This was reflected in the book.

It was also reflected in his passing on. So many little little things that somehow integrated themselves during his passing on.

* He passed on doing what he loved. He was addressing students. The more I think about it, the setting was just an excuse. I think it was pre-decided that he was going to leave then. He had barely spoken a few words before it happened. It was life’s final tribute to the karma yogi! I am reminded of how Paramahansa Yogananda left his body - just after a fiery ode to India.

* The last thing on his mind was to ask the students ideas about how to remove the deadlock surrounding the parliament. What a shame! A man of his mind had to think about how to make happen what ought to be already happening. These are the leaders who block federal work and enjoy life out of taxpayers money!

* He had thanked a security guard personally who had stood for hours on the convoy vehicle guarding him.

* The most gratifying for me - the entire nation rallied together as a tribute for him. As I traveled, all along I was able to see posters and banners exhibiting sorrow or gratitude for him. These weren’t politically sponsored or because of vested interests. My social media pages were filled with Kalam as well. These were a direct demonstration of the impact the man has had on all. I found it very difficult to hold back my tears. I wasn’t prepared for this kind of farewell.

He doesn’t need to come back. He will live on if we keep the inspiration of what he stood for alive. Kalam is an overwhelming positivity of inspiration, humility and hard work.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

thirty seven banana peels #17: expletives

I’ve come full circle with expletives. For most of my adolescence I was a “good boy”. I never used expletives. And I would go out of my way to avoid using them and not be around people who used them. I look back and see I used to be the class “fruit”.

This continued well into my college - probably until the end of year two. I don’t think there is an exact moment where things changed. The prudishness wore off gradually. I don’t even remember the first time I used one. I’ve noticed Tamil expletives caused more jitters inside me because they felt, and still feel “raw”. In English, it was invariably the f-bomb.

I used them often once I started working, with a close group of friends I was comfortable with. Then they came casually when I had fights with them. I think all this was like a rebound effect of trying to bottle them up for the first twenty years of my life.

Now, it would be an overstatement to say I’ve transcended them. But they don’t bother me as much. I hardly use them. Once recently I used the f-word unconsciously - to myself - and realized it wasn’t a good sign. In general, expletives are perceived “cool”. The image of Keanu Reeves or Matt Damon chewing gum and using them conjures an idolatry situation. I certainly don’t think it’s cool anymore, but they add cathartic value in stressful situations.

In general they’re not good - because more than the word itself, the intent behind determines the ambiance of the situation. But in today’s society it seems inevitable that someone needs to come full circle with expletives.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

thirty seven banana peels #16: Ilaiyaraja

Many times in this space, I’ve tried explaining the impact he has had on my life. One more attempt.

In “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” there is once scene in the climax. When Harry is surrounded by the Inferi and his death seems imminent, Dumbledore summons his last ounces of strength and conjures up a powerful fire which force the Inferi to retreat.

His music is the fire that keeps me falling into depravity and hell. And for a decade and a half now, he has still been holding up this fire for me. There is no way to repay this with gratitude or other means. Once, in 2006, I got into a very big fight with him. I decided I would no longer be in talking terms with him. But I still ended up going back like a puppy that goes that back to its mother. I don’t have any other choice.

There was a question that was asked of Osho. They asked him to pick the top ten people who were instrumental in the transformation of human consciousness in the planet. He picks ten people which included those like Buddha, Mahavira, Patanjali and so on. The questioner then asks to pick nine, eight, and so on. At every step, Osho would cut down one person and tell the questioner exactly why he cut them down. Finally the exercise stops at four. Osho picks Buddha, Patanjali, Gorakhnath and Krishna. He says he cannot cut down further. That would be violence.

Similarly in my life, if I pick people based on their impact on me and do the cutting down exercise, it would finally end with three limbs. Ilaiyaraja, Osho and Him.

Once you taste the exalted subtlety of emotions arising from his music, it is very difficult to turn to perversion. Even if they raise their head, they retreat back. It is like an invisible net protecting the empty spaces inside below which you cannot fall.
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