Measurement of Life

February 2, 2009

 

On a Sunday night there isn’t a cloud in the sky. I sit on the stool outside the coffee shop opposite the apartment where I live. Street is deserted and I am the only visitor to this low cost coffee shop at this odd time. Night is pleasent with cool breeze and over a  hot tea , i am into deep thinking totally insane. As usual.

 

It is difficult to understand how a person’s life measured? Some people tell it is measured by the way you live your life. Some tell it is measured by the way you die. Some tell it is measured how you are glorified or criticized after your death. Some tell it is measured by the ones left behind. Some tell it is measured by the faith you had. Some people tell it is measured by your deeds. Some folks tell life has no meaning at all. 

 

For many, faith is everything. I look up the sky again.  It is clear and dark with stars glittering bright and illuminating. But I am not able to promise myself that I will know the secret of Life.  I differ from many and am not the one among them. 95 % of the people around me believe they know something that I don’t. They call it faith. 

 

I honestly envy people who have faith and just I am not able to get my head around it. We have been through 100s of these discussions and every one of them heads the same wall. Is there a sugar pump fairy or not? And nobody has ever got over that wall.

 

I ask myself, what do I believe in? I can only answer, I resist all these. What if I am wrong? I love to be wrong. If I am wrong, I win. I will know the secret of The Life.

 

I believe there is no need for a measurement. We live we die. I read Alexander, The Great, died eyes closed and two hands stretched open, holding nothing. 

 

Unlucky Disciple

December 13, 2008

 

‘I don’t think he should go ‘ said my grandmother .

‘He is too small and he should not while his father is alive’, concurred Chachu patti my granny’s best friend in the village. ‘And you know it is against the norms for children to visit a funeral house.’

I said nothing. I sat on the footsteps of Mitham, a part of the long stretching traditional house. I preferred to conceal what I was thinking and kept my face straight. My Vedic guru and friend lay dead a few houses away across the street. I cribbed going to his house on any other day to learn Ruthram & Chamakam– hymns in praise of Lord Ruthra. Every day I had to sacrifice my evening play and was unhappy with my father for forcing me to take lessons in Vedic chants. He was my third teacher. But today I wanted to visit him to pay my last respect. I didn’t have classes for a week since he fell sick and was very happy to play kiti pul, a local game, in evenings after returning from school.

I was determined to visit the funeral house. Some had tried to fuss over me but had been discouraged by my silence and aloofness. The more understanding of them, my mother, kept her distance. My father who was supposed to reject the idea said no word. Guru was my late grandfather’s friend who struggled hard to make ends meet after his son moved to city. I think my father felt some closeness with him and wanted to give him a monthly pocket money in some form hence he forced me to be his only disciple in the village. He was happy to teach me and eagerly waited every evening for me. He was always seen alone on the sit out or in the temple and I enjoyed the chit chat we had after the lessons. Every evening without fail, he sat on the sit out outside his house with eyes glued on bus stand to confirm if I had returned from school. I never knew if he had any grandchildren. None visited him during summer. At times fondly he would recall the mischief he and my grandfather did during their young days as well as how mischievous my father was. It was exciting to hear the stories about my grandfather and father but I never shared it with any one at home.

As I walked with my mother to the funeral house with a curiosity and respect to see my guru’s dead body, I heard scattered words of condolences passed back and forth ‘ such a strategy!… Has his son arrived…… None realized how serious it was….’ The house was full of people. I felt that everyone who mattered in the village was present. For first time I saw his son, daughter in law and grand children. Every one stared at me and murmured as I went to a funeral house breaking the orthodox convention of the village.

His mannerisms were funny and all boys made fun of him while he came to the river for a bath. He was dark and bulky with heavy breathing like an elephant. He carried plenty of nick names but he was never annoyed when made fun with any of those. A humorous man with jokes and stories to tell was lying dead in the hall. I didn’t feel sad on the death of other two teachers. He was not just a master but a friend to me. Together we used to chant Rudram and chammakam in the temple during pooja time and at times we had bath together in river on holidays. It was he who taught me the basics of swimming. Many commented on our friendship, a friendship between an old man of 70’s and a young boy of 7 years. I stood silent beside his wife without knowing how to mourn for her loss as well as mine. She pulled me to her lap and tried to console me ‘You should not cry, your guru is with God and will be your guardian angel’. I felt she reassured herself by telling this.

Some of the able-bodied men lifted the body over the open sarcophagus and carried it to the grave yard for the final rituals. As I walked out with my mother, I heard a few women screaming violently and that scared me. It was neither a cry nor a shouting. It was violent and scaring. I didn’t know where the burial ground was located in the village and wanted to go to which my father did not agree. It was one prohibited place for children to visit. I stared from the corner of street as the small procession passing through the street silently and quickly carrying my friend and guru’s body. I was curious to know what they did in the burial ground. I knew the dead will be burnt to ashes but wanted to see how they did it. I was almost ready to sneak my way to the burial ground but was frightened by the horror stories I had heard about the grave yard.
I waited until everyone had gone, and then left to join my mother at the river for a bath. While walking back home half dried and half wet, I stared at the funeral house which remained in grave silence. I felt sadness creeping within me. I didn’t find my guru sitting in sit out calling me this time. I knew his wife will also leave the village to live with her son far away in city and may never return. It dawned on me that I wouldn’t have any more lessons from him and there would be no one to tell me the stories about my grandfather and father.

I came back home sad and sick. As I walked to the back yard to wash my legs, Chachu patti was still there telling my grandmother ‘Your grandson is unlucky. Whoever teaches him rudram attains the feet of god’. On realizing I was behind her she turned compassionate and told ‘ you are brave, don’t worry we will find you a new teacher’

‘I don’t want to learn rudram from any one any more ‘I said fiercely and ran with tears rolling down my cheeks that I had been withholding till then.

Spell or Hex

February 5, 2008

In life at one point of time irrespective of age every one emotionally involves with opposite gender. How ever be, every one will fall under a magic spell. That enchanting spell will control our thoughts, actions and speech. We would tune to his/her emotional prerequisite and behave very differently to please them. When we grow emotional over a person we lose the ability to be logical and act in foolish ways we would never do other wise. We will yield to their emotional affection and tend to possess each other when we encounter this magic charm. I am talking about the phase when we walk on the line to possess the person and relationship with a subtle love for them which we won’t be realizing. If we walk on the line for long time, we surrender to their will or they will surrender to ours falling into something deeper and deeper until one day when we realize the intimate emotional bond vanished leaving only bruises and hurt in heart. The surrender will either bring eternal ecstasy or curse upon our self.

The sensational feeling mostly buds in the form of beautiful friendship. Initial spell will trigger the friendship but moment the fascinating charm brings emotional attachment, dependency and the willingness to share every moment of our daily life it urges us to spend more time with them through all medium of communication. We will sneak our self from the hectic work schedule to spend time in each other’s company attempting to make ourselves understood or understand them. We will do late night talks over mobile, start the day with a call to or from them, rush back to desk after quick lunch to chat through net in between the work time so as we don’t miss an opportunity to share every moment of our day. Though we will be cherishing the blossomed beautiful intimate zealous platonic relationship, subtly our mind which is usually preoccupied with our own concerns now become filled with thoughts of other expecting them to think about us the way we think about them. Our emotional attachment, dependency and the thoughts of the other person that filled in our mind & heart will aspire to carry the friendship into a different relationship with a desire. We always want more in everything like the PEPSI tag line “Yeah Dil mangaey more”. The desire for new bondage will cast a power full spell of possessiveness possessing us. The mutely penetrated extra special feeling over them can be perpetual or ephemeral. How ever it is, we will enjoy living in the spell which enchants us giving a new experience of indescribable feeling

When we are caught up in this want more feeling , we are pliable and emotional. We will be constantly influenced and manipulated to talk what they want to hear, to do what they feel good and just as often tune to their needs. Falling for this special feeling and willing to capitulate is not a matter of magic but of psychology. We suddenly feel haven in their emotional warmth and overwhelmed by them. We will pray the new found emotional warmth doesn’t sever but may not know how to handle ourselves when we have the desire to keep it eternal. This kind of special feeling, one step before love is a two edged knife. It can sprinkle eternal ecstasy or can leave us vulnerable, confused and lost.

People are dying to be overwhelmed to let go their usual stubbornness and enjoy being vulnerable.

When our heart is subjugated with the thoughts of other we try to express our emotional feeling or keen to know their interest. The fear of being ignored or rejected or judged urges us to find other’s feeling towards us in subtle way as we will not dare to sever the intimate platonic relation we enjoy till then. This is the feeling that carries the relationship into love. Lucky are those who are gifted to walk across the line creating a bond of love, but most of the time the emotional involvement walks us through the line demolishing the existing relationship and challenges the equation of the intimate emotional bond of friendship. Because most the time we eat more than what we can chew. The love towards a person will peep into our heart sidelining the love towards the relationship that exists mutually between us. Till the spell was casting a friendship bond we would have been sharing and enjoying each other’s company accepting the other as they are and loved the emotional bond with no expectation and prejudice. Moment we want more out of a relation ship we cross the line bringing an expectation into our heart making us fragile to get easily hurt. When situations fail to assist in leading the relationship further, we inflict a hex upon our self. The duality of the charming spell, hex, is so cruel that it will leave you completely naked, susceptible and lost. After a few incidents of hurts and humiliation, we will realize how foolish we behaved. We will start to feel we are taken for granted as well as we would have taken other for granted. We no more speak with open mind and the urge to share our emotions in a way we used to do deplete. We turn indifferent when our self pride is challenged and will try to inflict pain on each other through silence. Our self defense mechanism develops an invisible wall to avoid further hurt and humiliation by not expressing our emotions creating a distance and separation. We start to hate being vulnerable with them which at one time we are willing to be. We bring a stalemate in the relationship now but don’t know how to revert back and maintain the earlier enjoyed intimate emotional bond of friendship. We often lay and travel over one way traffic lane in relationships whether it is friendship, love or husband – wife. We expect from others but not ready to full fill their expectation. Our one way behavior would have gone beyond our control with plenty of disappointment yet will yearn to have the initial zealous friendship though by this time we would have walked over a long distance in the one way lane.

The major reason for our inability to hold on any relationship after a few ruffling is we are not receptive to others. We want our need to be served but don’t bother to full fill others emotional need making them very vulnerable. At the extreme vulnerable state every one is insecure and afraid of loosing a relationship. When one is insecure in the relation, we fail to reassure them that we are there for them. We leave them with no reassurance due to our immaturity of taking them for granted or for our selfish concerns. We want others to be receptive and wish to hear regularly from them that we are valued, cherished and given importance in their life but we fail to reciprocate. We want others to reach us at the time of our difficulty with out being asked or judged but we fail to reach them when it is needed. Because, most of the time we walk in one way traffic lane. We want them to surrender to us but we don’t. We stop to share our emotions but expect from them .The intimate enchanting relationship gets under siege then. Everything perishes in one sided process. A single hand can never do a hand shake. During the siege, our heart will be filled with the thoughts of loved one more than what our mind was filled with during “yeah Dil Mangay more” enthralling stage. More we dwell in their thoughts more we want to reconnect with them yet mind urges us to avoid fearing the humiliation or hurt would repeat. We would have lost the wonderful relationship because we forgot the basic rule that sharing and expressing our emotions nurture the relationship. We develop an ego and avoid each other in a false hope that it would make us stronger but deep inside we will yearn to reconnect with them but wont know how to because we are egoistic and not ready to give away. The magic spell will create opportunity to get back the intimate friendship but we would be sarcastic to worsen it further. Most of us believe once the intimate emotional feeling is developed, there is no need to spend time with each other to thrive it forever. Every plant needs regular watering; nourishment and attention to have it blossom with flowers and fruits even if it has grown as a tree. The same is true with all relationships whether it is friendship, love or any other. Regularly reassuring the care towards each other is vital in any relationship other wise it will turn to be a malnourished child and will decompose one day.

When the hurt is inflicted time doesn’t heal the wound. Silence or distancing doesn’t solve the purpose. It only aggravates the hurt and sows the seed for deceitful interactions creating an aversion over them on long run. If we win over our worthless ego and ready to forgive our selves & other, find time for each other as we did in the initial stages, talk openly venting out the entire suppressed wrath with no self justification and courage to accept the mistakes, we can retrieve the zealous enchanting relationship that existed before. If we do so, the relationship will be stronger than ever before even if we had inflicted pain to ourself and others. It is no concern as we will be looking to win back the earlier fervent friendship that existed with intimate altruistic emotional care and passionate support towards each other keeping us in high sprit & cheer bringing a positive vibes and strength in our life.

Or the wonderful zealous, enchanting, emotional friendship will be just a past memory turning the once intimate friends to known strangers.

A stupid thought

February 2, 2008

Many uneducated / less educated young and middle aged woman from the rural Indian village migrate to IT savvy metropolitan city taking up a profession as house maid with well balanced time management skill with no special training from any corporate workshop, earns around Rs. 700-800/ house / month from more than a couple of employers, is far richer than a IT professional who work for one employer at a given point of time for a huge pay cheque in the fast developing Indian cities. This was a thought, that occupied my mind last evening. The house maid is far better-off assuming she has a non alcoholic, responsible husband who respects and values his wife. She has no worries like those of her employers who are better off in social status and life style. Of course she will yearn to live in the consumerism world like their young employers yet in my opinion she is far better off.

The average IT professional couple whose combined income would be around or even over a Lakh / month and that is a lot of money in India apart from the yearly incentive and international assignment which is another way of having incentives. But then they end up paying huge amount as tax to government with aversion and reluctance during financial year end. They will have a life with less time to spend with their family, parents, in-laws and friends. They will have a moderate/luxury car in their parking lot, big flat screen home theater exhibiting their status in drawing hall, most exquisite enhancing wall hangings, Italian designed futon, Persian carpets and some eloquent decoration giving a pleasant look and atmosphere of hotels lounge with the kid’s room full of adorable soft toys. Affordable couples will have a full time maid / cook to run the house with their kids educated in one of the prestigious schools having a brand and quality bringing a satisfaction to themselves that they are providing the best to their wards which they were not able to avail. Not to neglect the huge EMI to the car loans, to their latest assets that they booked in the well sophisticated new modern uprising self sufficient village at outskirts of the metro by a popular real estate promoter of the city. Don’t forget atleast 2-3 credit card bills that had pilled up during the latest shopping of designer wears & holidays during summer vacation.

Considering all these they are poor couple in real terms because there are so many expenses they have to deal with and more than that they will be deprived of time in their life. Their bank balance is appalling amidst their huge monthly earning. Infact they are continuously in the red and hard put to make ends meet each month to find happiness in their life. So what are they really worth ? But compared to them , the house maid for example how ever be her social status she out of her meager salary from each employer possibly have a wonderful happy life at home with her children educated in corporation school. Assuming her husband is responsible and a regular money earner, they can jointly have a decent happy living with a bank balance swelled to a good sum after few years of working. They will have cash in the bank and don’t need to owe any money to any one and can be happy in the government PATTA lands with plenty of time to devote in upbringing their offshoots.

So are these low earning, low social status people richer in many ways than the harassed high powered executives. This thought set me thinking and have never thought it this way at all.I began to ask myself, are we young generation consumer oriented youth tending to become all show off and little substance. Why would any one need so much electronic equipments that get outdated every 2 months, unnecessary designer dress that will be repeated once in 30 days ,purchases , expensive evening dinners, outings , holidays and beauty parlor treatments over skin, hair , nails etc ?. Do we really need half the things we buy and do ? Most of the things we do is just to keep up with neighbors, peers , colleagues and others to show off our life style among our known society. Are we victims of extreme consumerism? Sadly that is the way we seem to be going. Why have we suddenly become a nation of show off in past 5 -7 years? Is there something lacking in our character? These thoughts were crossing my mind as I relaxed in an expensive Marylyn coffee shop relishing my new favorite Japanese Green tea at a cost 10 times the normal tea. The low earning people spend the night in dreams of educating their kids in computers so they could have a life style like their present memsahibs and my generation goes to bed with a dream to manage a PR in western world to experience higher style of living and extra expensive comforts.

But what we need is a set of values. I see this latest trend in me and my generation of youth is to get rid of the invisible inferiority complex which compels us to be ostentatious. In real fact majority of Indians except the northy, the metro Bangalorians, Mumbaites, Hydrabadies, madrasy live in a modest way. In specific South Indians who were once referred as Madrasy by north Indians are generally reputed to be simple, humble, polite & gentle people with no show off. We don’t like to be pushy or fond of boasting or show off except exhibiting the pride of being one of the oldest race of human and speakers of the oldest classic language -Tamil one of the non Indo-European language in India which is mother of many other languages in Dravidian plateau.

Oflate we often attempt to submerge our sense of inferiority complex by displaying the expensive life style so that others will be impressed. In fact we also enjoy doing that for our ephemeral material happiness. How can we grow up and be convinced that material things will not make us a better man. The worth of a man is in his knowledge, character and simplicity . Most Indians are generally polite, humble and modest compared to other part of theworld. But how do we take advantage of these intrinsic characters and grow up shining without loosing them in the lure of being stylist by engrossing into the unnecessary consumerism for the heck of it.

I felt silent for a while and then rose to go home saying good night to the pleasant looking coffee bar attender. Well while riding my bicycle ,was insisting myself to own my first car – Ford icon soon. In fact car is no necessity to me as of now. Yet…..just to show off…..

Disguised Freedom

January 2, 2008

Mayan is typically a contradicting youth at thirty’s with an open mind and closed heart like his country, India, an open country with closed mind. He has a profound thinking but follows a confused pattern. He never quit asking “ Do what I’m doing have meaning?’ He believes life is a journey in search of heart’s desire. His favorite philosophy is that liberation from stereotypic life leads to salvation. 

He grew up and left home at early age to explore life. He got a good job in one of the fortune 500 companies. He climbed the corporate ladder making a name for him. He occasionally visited home and spent more time with friends capitulating to the ephemeral pleasures. He made friends from all walks of life and believes friends bring meaning to life. He never felt enough of traveling, meeting people, tasting diverse foods and felt happy about broadening his cultural knowledge. He discovered Internet as the gateway to the vast world and gradually penetrated the mysteries of cyber world. He registered in different communities to voice his opinion. In his blog he shares his thoughts, opinion and photos he makes during his travel.  Years passed. Mayan felt he was not following his family norms and rules of social life. He constantly looked for adventure. In a moment of self-analysis he discovered he is flowing like a river with no defined course and definite purpose. On his journey, he underwent painful moments making him feel worse than being dead. He was not himself and yearned to flow free again with no bonds. He realized what he experienced in the journey of life is nothing but the beginning. He wanted to explore new lands and escape from the haunting memories of past.

He made his way to foreign land and now starts to feel the magic of being in foreign country. Mayan is free man  but what now? What should he do with his freedom? He is caught between the past and future. He writes poems, stories reflecting his thoughts and makes photos.  He posts them in his blog and sends them to his friends. He wanted them to know he is happy. But is he really? Does his freedom giving him happiness?  

Months pass. He is falling into the routine of new life. Wakes up, watches news in television, goes to work, tries to justify his salary. Talks to colleagues, cracks jokes, goes to lunch alone, returns to his house, makes his dinner, sits before the television, his only companion, watches news and movies and goes to sleep late night praying past don’t live in his dream. He enjoys his weekend doing nothing. He has time and courage to do nothing. He writes to keep him balanced but the truth is, he doesn’t feel any real excitement in the newfound freedom. He wants to share his feelings, opinions with his old pal like before. He is always treated with affection, adored; liked, envied but lately he realized others have no time for him. Mayan missed to understand they too have their own concerns and priorities. He misses his friend who was his anchor. He tries to free from the devil’s temptation, expectation.

Another year pass by. Sun is ready to set and rise. He can do what ever he wants but right now he does nothing. He enjoys his loneliness, and his freedom. Mayan is sad, free man trying hard not to get into self-destruction. . He asks himself ‘ Do I live my life according to hearts desire?’ He can change his flow however he doesn’t. He wants to flow freely in it’s own course experiencing the pain and happiness with smile. He knows he is not happy though feels free. He knows his present freedom is merely an exile in disguise but celebrates it. He reassures himself that this is another phase in the journey of life to enjoy and live. His reflection smiles and wishes him a happy new year 2008 while he reassuring himself.  

 Mayan is a contradicting person with a confused thinking pattern.                          

Departure hall

December 31, 2007

With loads of sleep still in eyes, he is waiting at KLIA arrival lounge to receive some one from India he has never met. A friend’s friend. Airport workers are yet to get busy and it is too early for it. Every one has left over sleep in eyes. Behind the barrier there are bored drivers with their little signs, placards and notice boards waiting for their guest to arrive. A couple anxiously waits for their son or daughter whose face is suddenly going to appear before them, slowly pushing a trolley, smiling, ready to give a hug and kiss. Home coming for Christmas.

As he sips the hot coffee at a bistro away from the barriers and drivers, he watches for the longest time, the beautiful lady behind the counter and the Europeans coming fresh off the plane with a jet lag. Organized travelers find their hotel drivers immediately. A group of tourist wanders in front of the barriers looking for their tour operators. Back packers and others struggle to make a connection. Some find the way to taxi stand and others flock to tourist information counter that proudly advertise ‘Visit Malaysia 07’ ‘Truly Asia’.

The arrival hall is pretty interesting but departure hall is more interesting to him because they have interesting stories to tell. Departure halls at all airports have stories that can touch millions of heart. There is something else he feels, trying hard not to.

Some time back but not long ago, on an evening just before winter they were at airport. It was difficult to judge if they were just friends. There existed a grave silence getting them lost in the feelings towards each other. He had come to send her off. She had no luggage except a handbag. She was traveling light but with loads of heavy feelings in heart. After the initial inhibition they embraced each other and there was a strange feeling in their moist eyes when they said good-bye. Their throats were chocked and spoke through eyes. He felt sad to see her go and she had no mood to go. He waved to her right up until the time she disappeared. He turned his back to the glass door and stood motionless trying to avoid crying. The air was filled with emotions and departure hall silently watched another parting. He wandered the terminal, reluctant to go back. Departure hall heard him murmur that they alone heard.

Across the world departure halls witness many such moments and are always filled with heavy air unlike lighter moment of arrival halls. It remains as silent observer of many such moments every day. ‘Hello’ just happens at arrival halls with smile but never a good-bye at departure halls.

A sweet voice announces the landing of Indian airlines. He rushes to the arrival hall and stand among drivers holding a placard to welcome a unknown friend. Quickly he brings a nice smile and ready to say a cheerful hello to a stranger with left over sleep still in eyes.

Departure hall waits silently to tell another story to some one who is ready to listen.