Sunday, October 12, 2008

A City to Remember..

Last Thursday was a holiday. I took a leave for Friday as well. No specific plan, I just wanted to get some sleep.

But on Thursday morning, I forgot about the holiday and almost got ready when Kuhoo reminded me. “You are becoming mechanical day by day”, she said. “We are going to Pondicherry for a couple of days. You can carry your laptop if that is must”.

That was considerably generous announcement but I tried hard to find out something to abort the plan. “It must be hot there. I don’t want to travel that far. We need to get hotel reservations”. I failed to understand what is so special in Pondicherry; must be another beach city, madly crowded and dirty. “I am tired of leering at wet babes”.

Kuhoo was unmoved. I had to agree to drive 330 Km each side. We started late in the morning and reached Pondicherry in around 6-7 hours. We did check-in a hotel by evening.

Friday morning, I got up early and went to the sea-side (there is no sand beach in Pondicherry). I was walking on the stones kept along the sea-shore. I saw a middle aged (age around 40 something) person sitting on the stone and staring towards the horizon. “He must be doing some Yoga”, I thought.

As I approached near, he looked at me, smiled. “Good morning”, I said. But I did not stop. I did not want any lesson on Yoga etc. I kept walking.

I slowed down ahead when I saw a beautiful girl sitting on the stone and doing the same thing. She sat without any movement, without noticing the world around. I stopped. I looked around. I found another 20-25 people doing the same thing; all staring at horizon, waiting for dawn. I came back.

At breakfast in my hotel, I saw that person again. I felt caught when he greeted me again with smile. I went near him. “Who are you”? He asked.

“I am Manish”. He repeated the question. I gave my full name, my job details, my hometown etc. He kept repeating the same question. And then I received the message.

Well friends, it may not be sufficient to mention what all I discussed on the breakfast table that Friday morning. But I must tell you, most of us need to discover ourselves a lot more. We are indeed becoming very mechanical and self-centered. For last two days in Pondicherry, I have smiled and said ‘hello’ to almost everyone and have got that back almost every time.

Pondicherry is - the city of Meditation. It’s a place to be.

My new found friend was from Auroville, around 14 Km from Pondicherry. It’s a small township of people from around 40 countries, who do variety of research activities (including Yoga and Meditation) for human peace and unity. Herewith I am sharing with you some of the snaps that may describe the mood of the city.








Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Addictions...

Last week Mampi tagged me to write about my addictions. Thanks friend, it’s so nice of you. You made me think.

Actually I never thought I am addicted to anything or anyone. But when I understood the definition of ‘Addiction’, I guess I have too many. Herewith I share with you some those sit at the top.

1. Bridges

I too believe that some words have physical meaning not just meaning; depending on how they sound or conjure up in mind. To me, a bridge is one such word.

Bridges always attract me. I have photographed hundreds of bridges (added below a few).









Bridges connect, physically and mentally. It connects places and it also connects people. It also connects time. A bridge called ‘memory’ connects me to my past; a bridge called ‘dream’ connects me to future. (For those who have read - Bridges on Madison County; a bridge called Robert Kincaid connected Francesca to her childhood dream).

If two may construct a bridge in between they become friends; and if they are ready to cross to other side, it’s love.

For a person like me who has always wished to connect to as many number of people as possible, bridges have a strong presence inside.

2. Time Dilation

Well, in class 8, I came to know about the concept of ‘Time Dilation’. And since, this concept has amused me the most.

Consider, you are traveling with (or near to) the speed of light. (This will happen in years to come, for sure some day). And that day friends, time dilation will show. I will see your and my clock showing different time !

Read this link: http://www.nasa.gov/worldbook/relativity_worldbook.html

“…Consider two spaceships, A and B. The ships are moving relative to each other at a speed close to c. There is a clock in each ship. Both clocks keep time accurately, and people in both ships can see both clocks. Strangely, the people in the two ships will read the clocks differently. The people in Spaceship A will observe that the clock in Spaceship B is running more slowly than the clock in Spaceship A. But the people in Spaceship B will observe that the clock in Spaceship A is running more slowly than the clock in Spaceship B.

Time dilation actually occurs at all relative velocities. But at everyday velocities, even the most sensitive instruments cannot detect it. Thus, people are not aware of time dilation as they go about their normal activities….”

If you have interest in time and space, please open an account in http://www.nasa.gov/ and you will amazed to see the articles, photographs, research notes there. This is an amazing world. This is my other addiction.

3. Being among the hills
I am very fond of traveling. And I am at my best if the destination is a hill.

It’s strange, as I see myself born and brought up in the plains. I have sat for hours on a hill top. Perhaps on a hill you are nearer to the God.





Before I die, I will tell my son to throw my ashes somewhere among the hills. May be, if God gives me another life, that time I will grow among the hills.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Romeo must not die..

My first crush was a girl who used to attend the preparatory course sessions I was doing for Company Secretaryship in the summer of 1996.

Competition was high. Our group has a dozen others who vied for her. And, of course I was not the smartest of the lot, but I used to score high, most of the times in course reviews.

But I was shy. Our friendship was limited to ‘good morning’ or ‘hello’. Answers were known and did not help much. Everyday I used to prepare myself for situations like - she sits next to me, she asks for a coffee, or she just asks ‘how are you’.

Days passed by, and the hope.

One day I reached a little late. Class has started. I stepped towards the last bench and sat. “How come you are late today”, I saw her sitting next, and smiling.

For few moments I forgot to breathe. All my practice of weeks forsook as I tried to get my composure back, ‘I got caught in rain’.

Results were declared that day; I had scored the highest once again. She has passed too, except that she couldn't do well in one the subjects. We discussed that during the day and shared notes.

Light rains had started by the time the class got over. As usual I came out and stepped towards my bike. My eyes went wide when I saw her again, standing near the gate.

‘Can you drop me at Bailey Road’?

God, this is unfair. It was too much for me to handle in a day. Hurriedly I wiped dry the back seat and tried to start the bike.

The bike did not start.

It had rained heavily that day. I cleaned the spark plug; I kept the choke full, I prayed God, I did everything I could, but the bike did not start for strange reasons. Finally I said ‘Sorry’. We walked from the course center to Bailey Road, side by side, as the drizzle turned into a rain.

When we reached the Bailey Road, she told me, ‘I think, I like you’. I had heard this is the way; girls tell ‘I love you’. I was gasping for words as she continued telling me 'why'; she said I was simple, honest etc. I wasn't hearing much actually. But I saw her taking an auto rickshaw and going with an oh-so-lovely smile. I came home soaked by the rain.

I could not forget the day. The whole night I stayed awake. I kept thinking, planning, smiling. Felt like I was in love. That day, I forgave the world. No complaint whatsoever with anyone. I lived in the perfect world.

World changed back to real at the end of the session, I had cleared my Intermediate Level. But she couldn't clear on aggregate. She came and congratulated me. And before she left, she said she is going to get married next to next month with a CA in Delhi. My perfect world and love had deserted me.

I decided I will never fall in love again.

Inevitably I got married. Inevitably I fell in love again. And I also fell in love with this life, with the wilderness of the night, the long autumn distances, the ancient evenings, and everything else..like I'd never been hurt before.

But I fight with my wife. I disagree on kind of furniture we purchase, on kind of food we eat, on kind or extent of in-laws participation, on several other things, once in a while.

But despite those disconnects, I love her, no matter what, no reason why.

So am I in a perfect world or in a real world?

I guess, ‘I exist in both the worlds', perhaps it just depends on the state of mind at a point or period of time.

See the following picture:



Nobody is perfect until you touch the line of love.

We all are logical people; we all have our own ways of seeing things. Our mind generates the logic that gives us bread to survive. Unfortunately it also generates lots of non-productive logic that keeps us differing with each other, if our survival is not the question.

And Mind sometimes creates illusions.

For example: ‘If someone tells you, ‘I think, I like you’. It is for sure, it is not from heart, it is from mind. Mind thinks and Heart can only feel.

Another example: ‘If someone tells you, ‘I like you because you are honest and simple’. It is only a minds work. Love can not answer ‘Why’?

When I look back, I realize, the girl who met me during Company Secretaryship never actually loved me.

When I see today, the girl who keeps fighting with me, feels very lonely and uncomfortable when I am not around for sometime.

I belive she does bring to me, the real as well as the perfect world. Every time we believe in each other, we touch the perfect world, the world of love.

Let us learn to believe. The Romeo inside must not die..

Monday, August 11, 2008

To the Silent Ascetics...


                                                                                                                   (Section 7: Impressionist)

Don’t remember the exact age when this happened. Guess those were the days of the primary school.

I was running across the rooms chasing my brother. That was the first day of our summer vacation. We had plans to go to Granny's place same week. We were playing and mummy was busy preparing 'gulab jamuns'.

The chase stopped soon. I had hit the center table of sofa.

That was perhaps a time to cry. But I was very happy, I didn't want to cry. I looked at the bruised toe and tried not to cry. It hurt badly but I decided I won't cry.

I started deceiving my pain. I tried to smile. I managed to smile and kept it.

My brother looked at me and he knew what exactly I was trying to do. 'It will be ok soon', he said slowly and stood beside. Mummy came running as she heard the thud. I saw her face, she was confused but without wasting any time she cleaned and did the bandage.

I could keep the brave face that day. And for that I got an extra gulab jamun. My brother also gave me one from his share.

That night, the pain returned. I 'watched' that my pain carefully. I tried to withstand it and finally slept. That night I had tamed my mind.

25 years have passed since. When I got up today morning, Adi came running to me, sat in my lap and closed his eyes. It was a bit strange.

Kuhoo rushed in the room. There was panic on her face. “He has hit the door chasing his car”, Kuhoo almost cried.

I looked at Adi. He had kept his eyes closed. I saw him fighting with the pain. I knew what he was doing but this time I felt that pain. It was unbearable. After 6 years, today, I could understand the pain those silent ascetics of the Doon valley have suffered over a number of decades.

It was 26th January 2002, a holiday for those on a project site at Dehradun. We had decided to trek to Mussourie.


We had hired a car to reach the start of the trekking point, known as "Shahenshahi Ashram" near Rajpur. It was an open morning after a rainy evening, day before. We had kept a pair of clothes, water, first aid, chocolates and chewing gums and a flask of tea.

After half an hour we were crossing the dense forest that surrounds Dehradun. I enjoyed those long 'bulbul' trees blooming with tiny yellow flowers, birds in their celebrative best and the early morning sun rising behind the hills and rays perforating through the trees.


We reached the ‘Shahenshahi Ashram’ and started our trek. Early morning mountain winds greeted us. The terrain was new to us.



Eventually we lost our way. But there was no hurry; we enjoyed being lost. I was, at home.

The climb got steeper and the trees denser. We were getting tired. We ate all the chocolates and finished all the water we had brought. It was when we were deciding to come down, we saw an old shepherd. We ran to him, asking about the trek-way to Mussourie.

That old shephard took us through a mountain stream. The sound of water echoed as we approached the more greener side of the valley. On the backdrop was a lovely range of the Shivalik hills.

We slowed down as few cemented steps came ahead. Among the scattered rocks and dense trees I quivered with a kind of presentiment and started watching around. I felt the silence of those trees and hills; as if they were trying to keep something within.

We went near to that shepherd and asked him about that place. And he told, "There was a limestone mine at that place a number of years back. Thousands of workers lived and worked there, almost cut off to the whole world. They were simple people and were totally dependent on the earnings from that mine. Those cemented steps were built by and for those workers to climb up to the mine".

"There was a massive landslide one day and a number of workers died that day". That old shepherd was one of those survived the tragedy.

We were numb as we looked around. I saw the remains of the mine, the water system, and old truck road, and the mark of the huge slide, everything.

Today, I felt how those trees and mountains felt. I understand their silence. We all have learnt to bear our pain, but bearing others pain has been so difficult.



May you have the love to feel others pain, and the strength to withstand it. God Bless.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hello Happiness

hello happiness
its long time..

its long time,
since you crawled at me,
like you did
every time I crawled to mummy..

do you remember
the days you toddled
to hold me
when I fell on the floor..

and the days you ran
when I ran
to catch those
colourful kites..

that walk in the woods
when you smelt
with the moist soil
and fresh green leaves..

those nights we spent
among the mountains
with the bracing wind
and the bonfire..

its long time..
i miss you so often
froze in crowd..
lost in plans..

hello happiness
please come back now..
we still have a tryst
with the autumn calms.
.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sheel Vardhan Singh's - A Runner's Story**

As a child, I would play in the afternoon. There were no structured games; life was just a merry dance for us children for we were not even worried about the evening. Behind the old cottage where we lived, there was a garden full of wild flowers that acted like a buffer or rather a transition zone between the well-kept vegetable beds attached to the cottage and the woods beyond. Chasing butterflies in the garden was what life was all about.

As an adult, I often wondered if running was all about chasing rainbows. A fellow senior runner, a regular like myself, once told me that running is about being always fit enough to realize one’s dreams and, yes, if one falls down, it’s about being able to get up, limp a little if in pain, and then start running again.

Youth is that stage in life when all possibilities look real. I ran, and I ran after my dreams that looked so clear, three dimensional and concrete! Life moved on fast - forward, each day I ran with specific, measured, scientific dreams for money and power. My knees hurt but the dreams looked so real and close to a rainbow I could catch only if I ran a little faster. At the end of the day, I was tired but my eyes shone at the sight of brighter lights.

Each morning I ran like a man possessed - on beaches, hills, riversides, busy streets, highways and empty dirt tracks. I ran as a child runs after butterflies. And when the first signs of a slowing down appeared, I ran, chasing my youth that ran ahead of me, faster than me.

One day, tired and exhausted, I paused and heard a rumble behind me. I turned around and saw a storm on the horizon. It made me uneasy, anxious. It was a baffling storm, dark clouds, mingled with bright ones, there were demons and angels in it, there were flowers and thorns.

I was afraid of this storm. I started to run faster. The storm steadily approached me. I saw the senior runner and leveled up to him, running alongside. I told him about the approaching storm; he smiled. Was he not afraid? He said, “The storm has already overtaken me”. I asked again, “What is this storm called?” He smiled and told me, the storm is called “life”.

The storm hit me with a vengeance. Thrown off balance, I fell. I got up, walked a few steps and fell again; but stubborn as I am, I decided that come what may, I’ll run.

It was a foggy winter morning. As I ran up the hill, I saw the line of trees in the distance with the fog gently entangled in them. Effortlessly the sun rose in the horizon and the fog melted. The distant hills, the blue sky and the trees became clearer. The world opened out before me. The essence of the happening around me was effortless grace. The grace that comes with acceptance and giving, that very moment the understanding and healing in me had begun. In the light of the sun, I found my running become like the natural flow of water, all pain was lost and legs languidly followed the lie of the land. The morning sun lit up my face. The storm had overtaken me.

Now, as I run, I always see around me the garden full of flowers and butterflies. There is no youth running away from me in the distant horizon, nor anything following me.

All around me is the garden. I sometimes stand and, like a child, want to catch the butterflies but, somehow, just watching them is a dream come true.

And, yes! When the quiet of the morning knocks my slumber and when the world is asleep, I run. Quietly and at peace, I run.

**(Speaking Tree)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Half-lived Life

It was going to dawn. Adi had made a movement while sleeping.


‘He has learnt to dance like a bear’, Kuhoo told me last night. He had slept when I reached back home.


I looked at him for sometime. It’s a fantasy looking at a sleeping child. I saw the peace and the energy he had on his face. I don’t remember when I slept like him last time. It must be long back.


I got up finally and stood near the window. It was drizzling outside.

I remembered my small home town. How difficult it became walking on roads during rainy season; and those green trees and the color of sky. I don’t see those trees these days, and the sky, perhaps never.


Our life today is filled with immense opportunities and responsibilities. Today we all have a target to run against. When I was in school, I toiled to score good marks in board exams to get admission in a good college. Reached a college, but then someone told me not to pay much attention towards things those look interesting. Got a job, but then I had to work hard to learn ‘how to work’. And since then I am learning. The ‘target’ still eludes me.


During bygone years of ‘meeting the target’ I have lost track of sacrifices and of that much I already missed.

‘Pappa’, I heard. Adi was sitting on the bed and smiling. I spread my arms. He stood up and starting dancing. The bear dance.

He was very happy. He sees me everyday. But still he was happy just seeing me. I don’t think I will ever do that seeing anyone. I don’t think I will ever be happy like him either.


I decided I will follow Adi today. I decided not to see the clock. Not to pick up any phone. Like him I will look at every thing for a few seconds more than I normally do.


Rain has started. Adi was looking outside with increased interest, occasionally stretching his hands. ‘Don’t let him get wet’, Kuhoo spoke changing sides on the bed.


I came out with Adi. We stood near a small verandah. We could see and hear the splatter of raindrops. Adi was talking to me in his own words. Perhaps he was trying to convince himself that he doesn’t want to go out. But I surprised him. I left him free. He stood ahead of me for sometime and looked back.


‘Go ahead’, I smiled. He stretched his arm and started stepping ahead. Seeing that I am not stopping, he lifted his face started his bear dance in the rain. I kept looking at him. He giggled, danced and frolicked.

Most of us don’t know what we want. And those who know still keep themselves in shackles. Actually I too wanted to enjoy the rain like him but did not want to get wet as well. ‘Does it make any sense anyway’, I tried to reconcile. But finally I decided to follow Adi.


Stepping out, I too faced the raindrops on my face.


That was the moment after a long long time I found myself gripped with nostalgia of my childhood fun days. I too danced. Though, Adi was still the better of the two.


When we stopped, we found Kuhoo standing at the door and looking at us in disbelief. We had a small lecture session on why should we avoid catching cold, but we, the partners of crime only smiled looking at each other. Soon we were treated with an affectionate hug and hot soup.


That day, I watched my son through out the day. I realized what I miss everyday.


Indeed friends, most of us live a half-life without even realizing that there is just one life for each one of us. And there is nothing wrong or right, logical or illogical, stupid or wise till the time you don’t hurt anyone and are true to your emotions.

Be yourself.

** Kuhoo and Adi