Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Blooming Flower

So new year is just around the corner. I am very eager to step in the new year 2014. The very feeling of having a new year around is lifting my spirits. It is making me feel optimistic. Rather I am feeling excited. It has brought a new hope for me. There are many things which I want to do. I am very excited with regard to my new work. I am very happy. I am exhilarated. I can smell the fragrance which the new year is carrying with it.

Ironically I am the one who believes that time and space exist only in imagination. But then too like a pregnant woman who loves  her child even before it is born, I am loving you my new year even before your arrival.

Though there is no any connection between the two, the new year has also brought a feeling of gratitude. Gratitude towards everyone - my family, my friends, my teachers and many other wonderful souls from whom I have imbibed something or the other. I am grateful to existence as well. For  it provided me with an opportunity to develop my self, a chance to blossom. There are many who also have the potential. However, the same is never ignited by a strange force, which some choose to call destiny. The seed is always there, but it is never sprouted for want of conducive atmosphere. I thank the existence for providing me with an opportunity to bloom. The changing atmosphere was not always pleasant. But then too I adapted to it and my soul flourished and transformed into a beautiful, sweet smelling flower, which also gives happiness to the onlookers and which enjoys looking towards the new sun on the horizon. Thanks to you all and wishing you a very very happy new year.
 

Monday, 26 August 2013

My Life and Dil to Pagal Hai


Dil to Pagal hai is the bible of my life. The film has had a great influence on me. I can relate to almost every character in the film. Like Nisha I too loved my best friend, but she never realized it. Rather even though she realized it, she ignored me. She hailed from a rich family. I was always there with her in all her thick and thin. But unfortunately she never realized it. Like Rahul she has never ever remembered my birthday in the past 13 years.  I felt she had only got sympathy and nothing else for me.

            Like Rahul I also did not believe in marriages. However, now my views are changing. I am about to say yes to someone whom I know, but do not love.  She loves me a lot. Like Anjali my friend keeps on warning me not to go ahead with the marriage, as I do not love her. I am ready to marry her only because she loves me and I do not want to hurt her. My friend advises me not to commit the mistake of marrying a person on sympathetic ground.

            It is said that Karisma Kapoor’s role was earlier offered to Juhi Chawla, Kajol and Urmila Matondkar.  However all of them refused the same.  The same happened to me. My school teachers always ridiculed me underestimated me. I had got distinction in my first year of five year law course. Only two students in the university including me had got distinction. One morning our college peon told me that the Principal had summoned me. I thought I was going to get firing as that was the only reason why I was being called in my school. I went into his chamber bit hesitantly, afraid with what future had in stored for me. My Principal was on a look out for students who will argue in the state level moot court competition which my college was hosting. He had offered the same to some of final year students but they had refused the same as they were reluctant (afraid) to perform in the home ground in front of the entire college. My Principal offered me the same.  He clearly told me that he did not expect me to win in the very first year, but thought I would be seasoned by the time I reached my final year. I happily consented. A final year student who happened to be Ex Chief Minister’s grand daughter was to be my team mate. She played lot of dirty politics to ensure that I was not getting the proper guidance.  She exhibited jealous feelings in the same fashion as Nisha did towards Puja.   I decided to quit. My Principal fired me and said whatsoever may be the reason I cannot back out at this stage.  Like Puja I told him I cannot do it. I was in just second year. During the first two years of five year law course only social sciences are taught and the laws begin only from the third year.

I worked very hard, carried out extensive research and rehearsed n number of times before all my teachers including Additional District and Sessions Judge who was a visiting faculty. My team mate refused to rehearse and cunningly copied all my research. Finally the D day had come. We were listed second last. I did not eat anything. It was at about 3p.m. our number was called out. I was tensed, but I argued confidently. I satisfied all the queries put by the panel of judges. After our arguments got over I stepped out of the court room. All my Professors including my Principal and my college mates were staring me like an animal in the zoo.  I wondered what had got wrong. I felt like locking myself in the loo. One of my seniors Abhijeet, a final year student came to me.  He congratulated me. “That was a great performance. Your confidence has increased. All of us are expecting the prize,” said Abhijeet.   Two students from some other team approached me.  “How did you prepare for the competition? One of them asked. “I am a second year student. You are in your final year. How can I guide you?” I replied. “Oh! You are just being humble” he said.

            The valedictory session started. My heart started beating fast. The Chief Guest stood upright holding the results in his one hand and adjusting the mike with another he said, “And the runner up is…… N. S. Law College.” We had won. I had created a history by winning a state level competition for the first time in the forty years history of my college. I clapped loudly and went to the dais, along with my team mate to receive the trophy.  My team mate also got the Best Advocate prize.  After the function I visited my Principal to seek his blessings. “Congratulations!  From day one I knew you are the one who can do it! Keep it up! You lost the best advocate prize only by one mark.” I was very disappointed. My team mate had copied my research and she had won. “It was not in your destiny. She comes from a politician’s family. Let her play her games, you have a bright future,” told one of my lecturers with whom I shared my grief. “This is just the beginning, there is much more to come!,” said Additional District and Sessions judge. However, it pinched me that someone else had won at my expense.

            Like Rahul my Principal was on a look out for someone who will fit the bill and according him I was the perfect choice. Karisma got National Award for her performance and her career rose to new heights. I was nominated as a member in the “Litigation free village Committee” chaired by the Hon’ble District and Sessions Judge.  At eighteen, I was the only member under forty in the said committee.  A car with red beacon used to escort me for the venue. Indeed the moot court competition and Dil to Pagal Hai continue to be very special for me and mark the turning point of my life.
P.S. Lolo your blog and page on facebook makes me repost this only for you. This post was earlier published on my rediff blog which was lost in transit to the new system due to technical problems on rediff's part.


Sunday, 25 August 2013

My father's death

It was Thursday night. The week end was long with Friday being a holiday. I resolved to relax, which included getting up late. I watched Kismat-Love- Paisa- Delhi on T.V. and slept after talking to my mother over the phone.

 I was abused physically, mentally and emotionally.  Now, after a long time,  I had gathered the courage to live life on my own terms. Even, you have a right to live your life, I told myself as I slid into the quilt in the cold night of January.  I got up again and kept my mobile phones in the hall. I did not want to be disturbed with promotional calls and other calls that may steal my late waking up, which is a quintessential of a holiday. All the happiness was mine and it was my right to enjoy all the fruits in the God’s garden, I told myself and went to sleep.

But early morning my phones started blaring. In the silent hours of early morning the ringtones were wild enough to fall on my padded ears. Having no option, I reached to the phone. It was five in the morning. The call was from my mother.  My father was dead.
I called my colleague who lived next door. I packed my bags, as he arranged for a vehicle. Three more office colleagues dropped in and accompanied me to my home in my town more than 500 kilometers away.

Throughout the journey I kept on messaging and calling my friends to tell them about the fateful event.  I was calling my mother to enquire about her every fifteen minutes.  For the rest of time I was visualizing my father’s astral body and praying for his peaceful departure to the other side.

My father had only one elder brother. He kept on calling me every hour. Not to console me, but to ask how much distance I had crossed.  He wanted to leave from Pune accordingly, so that he would reach at the same time as I would. The elder brother did not wish to reach a few hours earlier and stay with his sister in law. His constant calls kept on irritating me.  My father’s body was kept in a morgue. I called my aunt Asha, not my real aunt, but a woman who was treated like a daughter by my grandmother. She had liberal reformative views. I told her that no evil practices like breaking of the mangalsutra and wiping of kumkum should be done.

I reached my home.  There were people in crowds near my home. Why do crowds assembled for a funeral have a peculiar identity? People gather otherwise also and chitchat. But people gathered near a house of dead person can be easily discerned.  With heavy legs I walked the hallway, which I had walked since I was a child.  I entered the house and hugged my mother tightly.  The body was brought from the morgue and kept for a moment in the hallway.  Knowing my reformative views, my father’s aunt asked me to do the funeral rites as being told by the priest and take a call thereafter for other rites. Interestingly, she had told her only daughter that she did not believe in any rites and none should be performed on her own death. I garlanded the body and moved my hand across his cold face. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I knew there is no such thing as death, but still I was going to miss his company at least temporarily. Someone asked whether the mangalsutra was broken and a piece of gold from it was placed in my father’s mouth. My aunt covered up saying that an amount equivalent to the gold would be donated to the Brahmin later on.

I got into the hearse that carried the body to the ghats. We waited for the wood to be brought. I spotted a diesel cremation furnace. I expressed my desire to cremate my father in diesel cremation furnace. But it was turned down with a scornful look. My father slept with folded legs on the pyre. The priest told me that though my father had died at an auspicious time, the cremation was carried out an inauspicious period. So, he placed three dolls made up of dough and placed them on the pyre. He tried to light a torch with the kerosene. The torch did not catch fire immediately. “That kerosene is provided by government.” He cracked a joke and few laughed. He handed over me the torch and I lit the funeral pyre. The flames consumed my father’s body with few crackles.  The care taker at the ghats asked for chai pani. After cremation while I was returning home, one of uncles asked if by any chance I knew the judge of the court in his tehsil, where his case was pending.

On returning home I had bath. All the relatives dispersed. My mother’s five sisters left, saying that the custom required them to stay for the next 10 days, if they stayed back. Only my uncle and aunt stayed back.  I wanted to be with my mother that night. But as my aunt was unable to sleep on the floor she slept next to my mother on the double bed. I slept on the floor in the hall. An earthen lamp was lit. Silhouettes of the T.V set, chairs flickered across the walls making the atmosphere uneasy.


The next day when my few other relatives arrived along with the priest. My mother handed over his charges Rs.1000/- and also the morgue charges. They broached the topic of rites to be performed on 10th, 11th,12th , 13th and 14th day. My mother told me that let all those be performed. I asked my mother to come out as the plans were chalked out. 

“Let her stay inside. We will decide.”  My uncle said. Interestingly it was me and my mother who were going to shelve out the money. But we had no say. At that moment my friend Ashish called me and offered to take up the entire responsibility of last rites if they were performed at Narsobachi vadi.  His uncles were into the same business at the holy place. I told about it to the gathering. However, my proposal was unanimously turned down by all saying it was not convenient to them. The solution of hiring a vehicle to travel to the holy place was also not accepted. “It will be inconvenient to us. If the rites are performed at any marriage hall in Miraj, we can come and go as per our convenience”, said my father’s aunt. 

They went on to decide the menu. My father’s aunt wanted both Kheer and Laddu on the platter and was in no mood to settle a hall that did not charge the highest rent and price for the menu. My uncle had brought a priest who also was a relative and was performing puja at my home for many decades.  My aunt left for Pune, as my uncle stayed back for immersion of ashes. They stated that she desired to stay back but had to leave because their son had stacked huge cash at their home and the same cannot be deposited in the bank until the holidays were over. Now, exactly none of us knew what my cousin did for a living.

I had asked my friend to get a cook for the next ten days. However, as we were only three people in the house, the plan was dropped and I subscribed to a Tiffin services. In the evening my uncle left for a stroll. He asked me if I wanted something from the market. I told him I had forgotten to bring my tooth brush and asked him to buy me one. He returned home after an hour minus the tooth brush.

The next day was immersion of ashes. We went to the crematorium.  Some ashes were picked up in an earthen pot.  I was asked to carry the remaining ashes in a gunny bag and throw it into the river.  The road to the river was a steep slope with dirt including human faeces.  I was made to walk with naked feet across the filthy sharp stoned slope.  “This is a good exercise. You will feel hungry.” The priest with idiotic sense of humour said, as I made three more rounds to the river.

Thereafter we headed to the Sangam. The sangam was still murkier. The water was black and the spot was actually confluence of the river and sewage. My uncle said that all others would prostate only from a distance and I alone should step into the water to immerse the ashes. Every one stood on the banks and I stepped into the dirty water and emptied the contents of the pot.

I returned home and rang the door bell. My mother opened the door. She was alone in the house.  I felt very bad for her. I carried black foot prints into the home. My uncle followed. After his bath, my uncle told me that he was leaving for Pune and would return on the 10th day.  

I and my mother were alone at the home. I had to step out for procuring death certificate, getting a picture of my father framed, bank work and many trivia including buying a tooth brush. All the acquaintances I met on the way wanted to ask hundred and one questions.  I half heartedly rushed through the chores, the other half being left with my mother.

Numerous people dropped in to offer their condolences. They had so many questions to ask, including whether we were selling our house. One lady also requested to offer her a right of preemption if we were selling it.   My mother complained of chest pain. She asked to call the doctor.  As I was calling the doctor, all the people who had come to offer condolences left. My friend Vidya dropped in immediately. We took my mother to the nearest doctor, as the doctor asked us to bring her to the clinic in order to take a cardiogram.  Vidya, being a woman, entered the room where cardiogram was taken.    
I was waiting out as the doctor had told me that he would summon me. Every minute appeared eternity. After 17 minutes the doctor called me and told that he wished to keep my mother under observation for the next 72 hours. As he had no hospitalization facilities, he referred her to another doctor.

We took her took the referred hospital. A junior doctor checked her as I rushed to register her name and get the case paper done. My mother fell asleep as Vidya,  my friend waited next to her.  I waited at the counter for her name to be called out. My father’s uncle came to the hospital. As we were waiting he asked me how much salary I was drawing. I told him that I was in no mood to answer any of his questions.
Vidya knew a sister in the hospital. She came to know that no rooms in the hospital were vacant.  I was worried how I would manage if my mother was kept in the ladies ward. Vidya offered to stay overnight if my mother was admitted in the ladies ward.

Finally, we were called in. By now my mother was feeling better. The doctor examined her and asked to get a thyroid test done. He prescribed some antidepressants and told us there was no need to admit her. This was a great respite.

We returned home. The Tiffin was waiting at the door. I fed my mother and gave her the medicine. She slept deeply. Every five minutes, I checked if her breath was intact by placing my finger near her nose. Yes, she was breathing. She was alive. Needless to say I was unable to sleep the whole night.

I was very unhappy with those who called themselves to be my relatives, those who simply dictated the terms under the name of religion and customs, without offering any help. I asked my mother whether it was fine if we donated the eighteen thousand rupees, the fees of the priest for the 10th to 14th day rites to charity.  I also offered to keep a bhajan on the 10th day followed by lunch for everyone. She said she was in a quandary and approved both the options.

There were incessant phone calls enquiring about the venue of 10th day rites. My mother told all to ask about the same to me. When my Mama called up, I asked him whether he would stay back for a few days after the rites, as I had to leave thereafter and my mother had to stay for the pension work. He said that even he was in dearth of leaves.  When another aunt of mine called up, I made a similar request to her. Even she said she wanted to make it for the 10th day at any cost and could not stay back as her husband would starve.

By the evening this hypocrisy of my relatives was taking my nerves. I was suffering severe headache. My aunt, mother’s sister and her husband visited us, empty handed. Even her husband doubled as a priest after his bank hours. Even, he enquired about the 10th day. He told if the same was not performed the soul would remain unsatisfied and trouble even the generations to come. They left only after  accelerating my headache. I told my mom that I was going to our family doctor for a checkup.

Dr. Sharad Gadre was our family doctor. I have literally grown up before his eyes. He is a very spiritual man and delivers sermons or pravachans. “Please, check my blood pressure.” I told him. He monitored my BP, but did not tell me the reading. “Nothing to worry. We will chit chat for some time. That should work.” He said. Now I was unable to control my emotions. I started to cry profusely. “Doctor not only I have lost my father, I am losing my town as well.  May be I will never see you again for my parents were the only reason to come to Miraj.” I narrated him my being in an abusive relationship and the societal pressure to perform the last rites. He opened a thick book of Tukaram’s abhangas. From the index on the rear side, he opened the page containing lines saying that if you do not feed your father during life time, there is no use of giving pinddaan. 

 “See your views are endorsed by religious texts as well.” He paused only to continue, “Mahesh, I was born in a very conservative, religious family.  All the customs were scrupulously followed. We had strict rules as to sanctity. When my father passed away, I gave a contract to priest, what your generation calls package deal. I had to simply shelve out the money and all the arrangements including the food, eleven Brahmins and even barber for shaving the head would be made by the head priest.”  

I was still crying. “First I was made to sit for shaving my head. The barber reeked liquour. I felt offended, but kept quiet.  Some pindas were made. I offered three. When I turned, I saw the same barber carrying other pindas in the cloth which he had kept to collect the hair. There are many situations in life when you feel enraged, you know a wrong is happening, but you are helpless. I kept quiet.  We went to feed the Brahmins. There were eleven plates arranged, full of the delicacies for shradha.  Only three Brahmins were sitting and all other plates were unattended.  The chief priest asked to take a sankalpa. I asked him, how I could take up the sankalpa to feed eleven Brahmins, before all of them were present. The chief priest told me that getting Brahmins physically was very difficult and this is how they worked. He assured me that dakshina or fees of each of the Brahmins would reach to them. Mahesh, that day after returning home, I told my wife and son that on my death no rites should be performed on my death. So when this thought crosses my mind, the mind nourished in an orthodox family and a mind of earlier generations, it is not surprising that such thoughts crop up in your mind. I will tell you two more stories, rather my experiences and we will stop. There was one old man of lingayat community. One day he did not wake up. I was called. I examined him and declared him dead. In lingayat community the last rites conclude on the third day. So this man’s last rights were done. In spite of it, the sons felt that something was wrong somewhere. They went to a Brahmin. He took out the almanac and checked for the date on which the old man had died. He told them that they were lucky that their father died at the right time. If he would have survived for few more minutes he would have been a jinx and brought bad omen for all of you.” 

The doctor gave a smile, which I was acquainted with since I was a child. The doctor did not speak much and was of a very reserved nature. He would not even reciprocate a smile when he crossed his patients on a street. But he was always friendlier with me, may be because I was a child. “Now, a person who tells you that you were lucky that your father died in time or he would have brought bad omen to you should be fogged in public.   Let me turn to another experience.  There was an old lady who lived with her grandson. Her daughter was separated from her husband and lived with her mother. But she passed away. As a result the old illiterate lady stayed with her grandson. One day the old lady died. I was called again.  Doctors witness many deaths.  That was the day of anant chaturdashi, the day of Ganesh idol immersion. Latter, I learnt that few days earlier the old lady had asked to her grandson as to how many logs of wood were required to cremate a person.  The grandson replied twenty-five kilos. ‘When I die bring fifty kilos and also put double the kerosene, but when you lit the pyre and turn your back, do not even return to immerse my ashes. That is my last wish’, said the old woman. So the grandson followed his grandmother’s last wish, as after his mother’s demise she was the person who reared me. But till date on the day of Ganesh immersion, he feels something missing. He buys a bag of puffed rice and feeds the fishes in the river for hours together. So my dear what you feel is most important.  In Hindu scriptures there are three modes of performing last rites. First feed the Brahmins. Secondly,if you can’t actually feed them, give them the grocery. If someone is so poor that he cannot perform any of these, the scriptures say that he should face to the south and raise his arms and say to the departed souls that they are remembered.  The scriptures clearly state that none of these modes are superior or inferior to each other. All of them stand on the same footing. So my dear the scriptures support you.”

“But what should I tell to all those calling and asking for the venue of dash kriya?”
“You abscond with your mother. Go underground. Go to your place of work and tell everyone that all the rites are performed. There are scriptures. They give rise to customs which become more dominant over a period of time and completely eclipse the scriptures. Lying to these ignorant, rather misguided souls would not be a sin.”

I returned home. The headache had vanished. I had a word with my mother. She too agreed to come along with me. I booked the tickets. However, I did not approve going underground or going uninformed. I called the family priest and told that as there was no one to look after my mother I was taking her to my work place and would perform the last rites there.

 “But you will have to pay the entire amount that was agreed.” He said. The priest who was my relative, who was performing puja at my house for decades was only concerned with money.  This decision showed his true colours. 
“I will pay you but not the entire amount.  Even marriage halls do not forfeit the entire amount. They just take a cancellation charge.” I told him.
 “But I have prepared the laddus.”

“There are six more days for the dashkriya. Are you going to feed my father stale laddus?”
 “You will have to pay the entire amount. I am coming to your house in the evening.”
“My mother requires complete rest. I will send you the money. Please don’t come.”
 “I will keep coming to your house until you pay the money.” He said.

I called up my father’s brother and told him that I am going to perform all the rites at the place where I work. “But who will come there?” He asked. “Those who feel for my father would come. Other’s wont.”  My father’s brother had never even bothered to feed a morsel to my father. He had a love marriage with a wealthy advocate’s daughter and had become a henpecked husband. “What about those relatives who have booked tickets to come for the dashkriya?” My aunt took the charge of the phone. She told me how much the soul suffers on leaving the body and asked me to perform the rites.  She expressed her apologies for not staying back and again persuaded me. “But I have booked the tickets. I have decided.”

The same day evening the priest came along with three other priests, who looked more of goons than holy men. They raised their voices. Demanded money, argued, fought and did everything they could. I negotiated with them, handed them over one thousand rupees as cancellation charges. They tried to extract the entire money.  Sensing I would not budge, they offered me to perform all the rites in a single day, that too as per my convenience. I told them I was not interested.

“You opened my eyes today. Are they priests or goons?”  My mother asked.
The next day morning we left for my work place. I called up Yogoda Satsanga Society of India. My father’s name was kept in Guruji’s (Paramhansa Yogananda) room. I sent them eighteen thousand rupees for providing medical facilities to the poor. On the tenth day I prepared pindas of rice and kept it in my court yard. A famished bull arrived and gormandized on it.

Dr. Niruma says that how can your forefathers who strived hard, at times starved themselves to make your lives better, bring bad omen to you on their death.  According to her Pitru dosha is nothing but merely a money making tool.  Even Yogananda says leaving a body is just like walking from one room to another. Interestingly, case studies performed by Dr. Brain Weiss confirm the same. 

Moreover, if a deceased person brings ill omen if all the rites are not performed, the same will be received by all my relatives, including the priest. Why any of them did did not step forward and perform all the rites at their expenses. By this theory only Hindus have a ticket to heaven. Where do souls of other religion go, if souls have a religion. What happens to our tribal brothers who belong to no religion?

My father had died. I was paying for his last rites. I at least have a choice, a say in performing his last rites, haven’t I?

Friday, 2 August 2013

Abandoned

I have abandoned that house which merely provided shelter devoid of any warmth.
I have abandoned that morsel which gave food but no satiety.
I have abandoned those relations which were pinching chains in my legs.
I have abandoned those relatives who are merely titular and who did not provide me any solace in troubled waters.
I have abandoned that sex which is only physical intimacy without any passion.
I have abandoned that religion which is only babbling of indiscernible texts.
I have abandoned that life which means security, learning only for earning and which is devoid of any scent of the soul.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Warmth

“Shall we go to meet Sumit?” asked Rajani.
“But, for what?” I asked her.
“Simply, I am missing him.”

 Rajani and Sumit both were my classmates at my Junior college. As Rajani and me went to the same senior college, we somehow remained in touch. Sumit went for a different course, hence a different college. Though we lived in the same town, we hardly met and lost touch. We completed our graduation and buried ourselves into our busy work commitments. Yes he was my friend on facebook and we liked each other’s pictures. But we had never met in the last eight years.

 For a very long time, I had not met any of my friends just for the sake of meeting. We mostly met at some social gatherings like marriages or birthday parties. Even Diwali was spent alone gorging on the mithai boxes which I got from my clients. I sent sms and 3D e-cards to all my friends. I called up my business associates and wished them a very happy Diwali. But I never thought of calling my friends just to share homemade sweets and chitchat. Neither did they. Advertisements and special features on the news channels ensured that I spent more. Diwali comes only once in year and you should spend a fortune for shopping, they proclaimed. I had simply forgotten that I could simply drop in my friend’s house to chit chat over a cup of tea. Formalities should not creep into friendships.

I thanked Rajani for reminding that I could meet friends, simply for the sake of meeting. Both of us went to Sumit’s place. Even he was surprised to receive us. The same night both of us went for a dinner on our bikes to a far away dhaba, as we did in our college days. We returned late. There was chill in the air, but warmth in our hearts. 

Midday meals

Though in the mist of controversy, we must admit that, the midday meal programmes ensure that many poor children do not remain hungry. India is still a poor country. There are many poor countrymen who are unable to feed their children. They send their children to school so that at least one meal of the day will be assured. There are many famous food chains like Pizza hut, Mc Donald etc. working all over the world. If these MNCs can run chains without any complaints, can’t our government try something on these lines so that the midday meal programme can be implemented more effectively? In today’s era, we can definitely put cooked rice and dal on a pupil’s plate, which has been untouched by human hands, thereby ensuring hygiene. Scrapping the programme cannot be an answer. You must have heard about some children from the poorer strata, which refuse to eat these meals. But at the same time it should be pondered over as to why they do so. The past experiences have molded their beliefs. The constant media coverage about the adulterated food served at schools has made them skeptic. At the same time, it must be remembered that these children are in the minority. For many, eating these meals is the only mode of quenching their hunger and ensuring non-starvation. Instead of getting into the controversy of what kind of development have we achieved in sixty independent years, where millions of poor still sleep without any food, we must accept that they do exist. Acknowledging it will put us in the proactive mode, where we can think of improving the system, rather than just criticizing it. But criticism is all that the majority of the population does, that too while sipping their morning tea and munching cookies in their well furbished drawing rooms.

Meditation

I sit in a lotus pose, on my meditation seat, with my legs folded. My meditation seat is a folded woolen blanket, where I have meditated for many hours. Masters say you should meditate in the same place. I pray to my Guru for spiritual progress. I concentrate my attention on the point between my eyebrows, which is the seat of the soul, your awareness. I observe my breath. Air comes in. Air goes out. There is a pause when air comes in, before it is exhaled. Again there is a pause before inhalation. The latter pause is longer in time. I like it the most. It gives me immense peace. Within few minutes I am calm. I go for reverse counting and enter into a deeper state of meditation. I am alert, my spine is straight, but I am very relaxed as in sleep. The state is so blissful that I do not wish to move my body even by an inch. I feel I am frozen. I continue to concentrate on my breath. My breath count drops. Surprisingly, even when I am not meditating and doing daily chores I observe that my breath count has dropped drastically. There is a sense of peace, serenity all the while.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Illusion

I have hundreds of friends in my facebook window
But I do not know who lives next door
I daily upgrade my profile pics and receive many likes
But I do not know what I really like
I use the latest operating system
But I share every online superstition
Many people I follow
But inside I am so lonely and hollow
I receive many birthday wishes on my wall 
But there are no claps in my hall
I am dead long back
But I am virtually alive 24 X 7
Likes, comments and shares
Turn me into a pseudo achiever
Alas! In my grave
I become a celebrity
Albeit only in my illusive eyes

Enriched

Tired in the evening
I am on my way to home from office
I trudge along a familiar path
The path that I trod from school to home
and my office bag dangles like a water bottle
Serendipitously I discover a treasure
A peacock feather, an empty matchbox
and a chocolate wrapper golden in colour
all covered in the dust of time
I see a spotted mongrel with her pups
I take home one in my cups
I return home enriched
with a value addition to my portfolio

Dawn




In the stark darkness of night
your body radiates light

I touch your silky skin
causing ripples on its sheen

I run my fingers through your lustrous hair
It appears a fragrant fanfare

After feeling your halves which are curvaceous
I am embarrassed of my slender habitus

By the dawn
darkness mixes into light
and day mixes into night

You and me become one
and beautiful like you
I have become

Beauty and the beast - Media

The media constantly bombards us with dapper men and women with chiseled features, toned bodies, problem free hair and skin and radiant smiles. This creates a constant pressure on the viewers especially the young. One doesn't realize that unlike the commercials and movies there is no perfect script, lighting and make up in real life. Real glow in real life comes from within and not outside. Eat properly, meditate earnestly, be free, be weightless in your spirit and you are a free happy soul spreading happiness and attracting millions wherever you go.

I am alive

Competitive spirit! I have lost it long back. I started my career serendipitously twelve years ago. I was in the number game, but never rated the number one. I must admit that it gave me sleepless nights. I have been working nonstop, trying my hands at different things, that too quite successfully. Number ones have faded away in the reel of time. But I am still going. So it hardly bothers me who is doing which project. I am happy doing the things that come my way. I am happy simply sitting, doing nothing but staring a tree from my window. I am alive and that matters the most. I know satori is just around.

Melt in love

Heart is a candle. Love is its flame. Flame is the breath of the candle. And heart beats only to the tune of love. No matter how much light a candle produces, whether it illuminates the whole room or just a quiet corner, it is candle’s nature to produce light. No matter how others respond, it is the religion of heart to love. If your love is responded, you have got cupped hands to protect the flickering flame of love. If not, you have lived a life that was meant for you. No matter if you melted in love, for if you were never burnt, you were never alive. So melt in love.
MAHESH SOWANI

I am happy

Feeling like I have drenched in all the bright colours. I am a butterfly that is flying in joy. A butterfly that has come out of the coon, to emerge as a magnificent youth again, ready to take all the happiness under its wings. I am happy. 

Friday, 19 July 2013

The thief

We reached Howrah Railways Station at about 4 p.m. Although the train was departing at 6 p.m. we reached two hours in advance to secure a seat in the general compartment. We had booked our tickets in advance. But thanks to Durga Puja celebrations in Bengal, we were on the waiting list and our tickets were not confirmed up to the last moment.  We had been to Kolkota to participate in the Inter University Moot Court Competitions.  I was accompanied by my teammate Rajni and Prof. Mrs. Sinha, our team manager.
We entered the general compartment. Although all the seats were occupied (read both by passengers and their luggage), after some persuasion (better word for brawl), we managed to accommodate ourselves on the upper berth near the entrance. Rajni and I had three bags each.  Our paraphernalia included coat, gown, bands in one bag and the other two had our books and papers. Surprisingly Mrs. Sinha had only one handbag during our journey to Kolkota. However, on the return journey she had four bags all bulging with Calcutta cotton and silk sarees. We dumped our entire luggage in the space beneath the seats.
The train left at sharp 6 p.m.  When the train was about to leave, a beggar entered the compartment and sat into the passage between two seats. She had a young baby in her lap.  She appeared to have lost in her own world. The young child on her lap was merrily smiling.  “Now we have to be extra careful!” said Mrs. Sinha rolling her eyes towards the beggar.  The very thought of her sarees getting robbed caused lot of emotional turbulence to Mrs. Sinha. It has been a mystery for me why ladies of all ages are so emotionally attached to their apparel especially sarees.  I bet, if a woman is on her death bed, the panacea to save her, is to tell her about the saree sale that has just arrived in the market. She will run to the market on her own legs.
As we were travelling for a long distance, my father had put a chain and a lock in my bag, so that I could lock my bag in the night. “Please let your chain pass through the handle of my bag as well” requested a worried Mrs. Sinha, as I was locking my bag into the metallic chain. I pushed the metal hook into the socket of my suit case, gently took it out of Mrs. Sinha’s bag’s handle and locked it. The young beggar was perusing my whole exercise. Mrs. Sinha was now much relieved. Her face started glowing in the same way, as it glowed when she relished delicious fish in Kolkota. The beggar appeared to be disappointed. She must have been unhappy as she had lost a big catch, I thought. Indeed one person’s elixir is another’s poison.

I was about take my seat pondering over what would have been the reaction of Mrs. Sinha in case her sarees would have been stolen. “Oh Sahib!” My reverie was broken by the voice of the beggar. I nodded my head looking at her. “You haven’t locked the chain properly. The lock is open” she said pointing the lock by one hand and gently patting the child in her lap. Mrs. Sinha gave me an ugly look for not locking the chain properly.  I locked the chain again, although I felt there was no need of doing so!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Theory of Karma

      One of the most famous theories of Eastern philosophies is the karma theory. In simple words it means as you sow so you reap. Unfortunately karma happens to be the most misunderstood term. Even the author of spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi says that Karma theory should not be given much importance. In my opinion God or existence, whichever way you term it, (I prefer the latter nomenclature) is not any guaranteed return investment plan. So if you give Rs.100/- to a charity, do not expect for the law of karma to work and bring multifold currency notes in your wallet.  Dr. Brian Weiss has documented past life regressions of many persons. His case studies do not support Karma philosophy, as understood in the conventional sense. Darwin traces evolution of man from unicellular organisms. His theory says that every single cell progressed gradually to finally evolve into the most intelligent species called humans. Similarly, according to me, the existence gives us many opportunities to evolve spiritually. So in many lives we have been rich and in many we have been poor. We have been men, women, beautiful, ugly, virile, childless, white, coloured, educated and uneducated. The sole purpose of this entire exercise is to understand life, to understand that we are part of this existence and the existence throbs into every pore of our bodies, irrespective of colour, caste, creed, status and bank balance.
          I am not saying that you should not be virtuous or not perform good deeds. All that I am saying is that good deed by itself does not guarantee enlightment or satori. While mediation keeps you aware and alert, zen asks you to be in every moment to the fullest. You cannot be fully in a moment unless you are alert and aware. Both philosophies suggest the same. The most interesting part is that as you become aware in meditation, you become more virtuous, kind, loving, generous and less tempered, less greedy and evil.
          So the question is why Karma theory has been formulated. When you are in class one, you cannot be taught syllabus of class ten.  It takes numerous years to progress to class ten from one. Similarly it takes numerous years to walk on the path of enlightment or even the quest. So for these beginners Karma theory is just an induction programme. If you cannot be a seeker atleast become a virtuous person.  Greed and fear make the stock market surge up and go down, because these are two predominant human emotions. Karma theory proposes to use these compelling forces to bring humans on the virtuous track. The purpose of this write up is not to defame Karma theory but to promote the good doers to the next stage of spiritual development. Let peace be to all.