Monday, May 15, 2017

Just remembered this anecdote...

  There's a lady, a bit aged. And her husband was still older, bed-ridden, in his final days perhaps. We went to see him--me and Him. The lady ushered us in, her eyes brimming with gratitude and love. And as we entered the room, the old gentleman saw G from his bed, and became overwhelmed with emotion. His feeble hands rose up in a pranam, his voice quivering, tears rolling down as he kept repeating, "You have come all the way here, and I'm unable to get up and greet you." G assured and calmed him with soothing words, sat beside him for a while and enquired after his health. The old man was at a loss for words. For him, this visit by G was undoubtedly nothing short of a visit by God Himself. The whole atmosphere was surcharged with immense love and gratitude. It was very humbling to sit in that room and be a witness to this.

The old man passed away peacefully a few months later. What remains striking is the solace G offered him in his final days...with nothing but His presence. No words. No philosophy. No gifts. No action. Just pure presence.

He embodied that presence so effortlessly, triggering transformations, awakenings and love towards life in those he met. Looks unbelievable that we were with Him just a few years ago. And he also sowed this thirst in us--a thirst to embody a similar divine presence. To embody divinity, to hold light, to carry a powerful presence which would melt away all resistance to life within us. To embody a presence which would radiate out and touch other lives.

A lamp lighting other lamps, spreading warmth and love and joy.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Tame this beast...

 He is an upright officer administering a few villages surrounded by dense forests. The girl he loves is married to someone else. And a tribal girl is secretly in love with him but he brushes off her affections as juvenile infatuation. He has bigger battles to fight everyday. The jungle is home not just to cruel beasts but also to greedy mafia who'll stop at nothing in eliminating anyone in their way. He is in their cross-hairs but he just doesn't care, and goes on about his work with a single minded determination. So the mafia first get the tribal girl;they eliminate her...

 There's a song that roughly translates to this:
  This a marketplace of happiness and sorrow
 Each one in the crowd walks a lonely path
 Everyone nurtures his own dream
 Every soul is pulled by his own destination

 Then, there's a sensation. The fan is running at full speed, and the air rushes past your face, caressing your locks.


The above three are enmeshed and entwined in a divine embrace. Trigger one, and the other two materialize! It takes the air from a fan at full speed to hit my face, and immediatly, the song arrives, its meaning explodes into my consciousness...and along with it, the story of the officer facing impossible odds, his struggles, desperation, loneliness, sorrows and triumps....all of it comes totally alive.

The officer and his struggles were a part of a TV serial I watched as a 12 year old kid. One summer night, as I lay watching an episode, the nearby fan was running at full speed, the air from it gushing against my face, and soon enough, the credits started rolling and the theme song began to play. The emotional impact of that character was still raw within me, his desperation and helplessness strongly imprinted...and soon I fell asleep. Unknown to me at any level, perhaps a strange connection might have forged between totally unrelated ideas. And this connection would come alive multiple times across the years. Without any rhyme or reason!

 Many songs trigger things. A fragrance brings alive a memory. A touch, a clasp of a hand, and I recoil. A restaurant brings alive a memory of fear and rage, of helpless frustration and sorrow. A road invokes a story. A wide sky opening up in all its vastness triggers something else.

 Where do we exist without memories? How does one get rid of them? to smile at them and move on?

Monday, August 15, 2016


 His name was KC Balakrishna--KC for short. My best friend in school days, probably at an age where my son is right now. I think we shared every damn thing. School gang fights--he would be my side. Lunchtime, we would share food. Comics, Yes. We probably got beaten up by the same school bully, got punished together at the same time by a strict teacher, etc. In the school pic over the years we stood side by side. But there was just one instance where my friendly instinct got over-ridden, and I let him down.

And the reason for that was a piece of chocolate. Cadbury's 5 star chocolate. I just loved it. And a good bar cost a few rupees. I had saved up the amount over a few weeks leading up to August 15th. The plan was to finish the Independence day celebrations in the school, then get the 5 star bar and walk home munching the delicious chocolate.

So the day arrives, the drill and flag hoisting and singing is done, and we're off home. KC comes running to me. In the sweltering heat of August, an icecream vendor is doing brisk business in the school premises. KC doesn't have money but knows that I do. He perhaps needs 50 paise or something, for a small icecandy bar. 'Get me one,' he says.

That's the most horrible lie that I utter. 'I don't have money,' I say, even as my heart sinks. He is disappointed but more than his crestfallen face, I remember the conflict raging inside me. I'm torn between my love for the favorite chocolate, and the urge to give away the money so that he could enjoy his ice-cream. 'Hogli bidu,' he says and departs. I have my chocolate bar, and I walk home eating it, but the chocolate doesn't taste that good. It tastes bitter. KC's dissapointed face haunts me with every bite I take.

The incident was soon forgotten and we were back as usual. Then, as we shifted to a new house, I changed schools. Went back once to see my old friends...and then, it was a yawning gap of 8 years before I met KC...just once. And we got pulled away in our own tidal currents of life.

Independence day celebrations today...and KC comes up from memory. His disappointment and my guilty bites off the chocolate bar. I love the bar to this day. Wondering...where is he now? Does he remember this incident the way I do? It's strange, the way people reside in us, as a part of our memory, our being. Or the way a part of us remains in all those we come across.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


 had this colleague....we both joined my first IT company on the same day. He was, in one word, 'irreverent'. A kind of don't care person. There were shitty bosses who bullied us, and we would squirm uncomfortably. Not this fellow....he was just cool around them, as if their bossyness didn't affect him one bit. It was interesting to see how he gave no shit to their pressure tactics. Or say, there's this girl who thinks she's a super-charmer and tries to act funny, and everyone's going gaga...and this fellow...he would talk to her as if she were a nobody, and put her in her place. I would think, Wow!
He carried the same attitude everywhere, dealing with people on the road as if they were lesser mortals. His fearlessness was kinda inspirational to me because I would be awkward showing rudeness to a stranger. I would wonder how he could do this. I wanted to learn it. And if there was a small function in the office cafeteria, this guy would coolly walk on the stage, grab the mike and sing a lovely song...and then engage the audience asking which other song they wanted to listen to. He was totally in his skin, super cool and comfortable, in front of an audience
He had, however, one mortal fear...and when I realised what it was, I was dumbstruck. He was petrified of Dogs! Terribly scared and shivering to the bones. Sometimes I would drop him off on my bike, and say, there's a small Pomeranian puppy at a distance...and this guy would start trembling and squirming from a mile away. He would be on tenterhooks until we passed by that dog! " I was bitten by a dog when I was a kid," he would explain. And then would go on at length at how people die of rabies and how life is uncertain etc etc. I would laugh at this irrational fear of his--maybe because I never feared dogs--and I would think, this guy is super confident of so many things that make me anxious, yet here he is, mortally scared of something which I'm totally comfortable with!!!
I unfailingly remember him whenever I contemplate 'fear'. This fear...any fear, I think it holds a key. What we're scared of, what makes us tremble, what gives us sleepless nights, what stops us in our tracks and dictates our also carries something, some message, something unresolved deep in our marrow and cells. The usual thing we do is to push it away and pretend it isn't there until it shows up in our face, and then we have no option but to start shivering and see how we can escape it. We carry it throughout our lives, sometimes, not bothering to resolve it and get to the other side, and see what paradise(or hell) it leads to.
Everyone's fear is different, maybe because everyone's story in their cells is different. But I have no doubt, with my own triumphs over a few small fears, that this Fear---is a beautiful doorway to a more enriching and rewarding existence, right in this moment.
And the only way to claim such an enriching experience, is to step right in the direction of the fear...not away from it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Two scars

  'Show me,' she says. I raise my leg and place it on the small stool. Just above the left ankle. Two marks. She examines it keenly. 'Does it pain now?' 'Yes...a bit.' She presses the area around the marks, slowly. An imperceptible shiver in the leg. Don't like it.

 'How did you allow it to happen? I mean...were you not careful?'

 Of course...I wasn't careful. I was mesmerized and lost....watching the aggression, the ferocity. Thinking that no matter what, I wouldn't be harmed, I wouldn't be hurt. the other. A strange amorous feeling... even in the midst of the attack. Careful not to hurt her further even after she sunk in her teeth. Wondering...whether to save myself first...or save her from my survival instinct which would kick in any time soon. Scared of my own aggression that's seething under the surface.........  I don't tell all of this. Just smile. The doctor must be 25 but acts as if she's a senior surgeon with decades of experience. A bit arrogant. Looks good on her.

'What do you normally do when there's a bite, doctor?' Addressing her as 'doctor' looks silly. As if she's a matron or a senior lecturer. A small badge near her left pocket...rayirath. I look up before she catches me reading her name. She's multi-tasking...attending a phone call, instructing(yelling) to a nurse, signing some papers, listening to me (catching my eyes all along). Restless, and focused. Sharp, sensual eyes. It must be the dark kajal...she looks like one of those models from Coskun Cokbulan's black and white pics(minus the nudity, of course).

'The anti-dote isn't available in all hospitals. Only a few stock them...the supply is less, and you need to change them every six months after keeping them in deep refrigeration. So not panic....tie a cloth just above the bite, tightly...' she examines the marks again. 'Ya...tie a cloth. Then go to any nursing home and get precautionary injections to prevent the spread of venom. Then rush to the hospital that stocks anti-venom medicine.' She's already instructing the duty-nurse about another old lady with a heart-attack, her weeping young daughter outside.

'!' I tell her my name. 'Ya...see...normally its advisable to kill it and bring it to the hospital so that the doctor can see if its venomous or not.' Impractical! Tamaashe na? 'Our place is teeming with these things, doctor(a small pain down there, like a nibble). We lost a dog recently.'

'Ok...take this chit to the counter and get it billed. And then the nurse will administer the injection. Come again on this and this day. You should be fine.' She turns away...and I catch her first name from the badge that swings along with the coat.

Crazy life.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016


 Alex. He wrote about Alex. Most of the time. The antics of Alex. His Cat. Sometimes I'd get bored reading about the cats adventures. And then slowly I discovered(my assumption, dunno). This old man, living alone in a city in US, blogging almost everyday, commenting on each and every blog post of mine....this old man was terribly lonely, perhaps. With nothing but his cat for dear companionship. I would wonder about his life, about his friends and family and others, about how he lived there in the land of plenty, yet hungry for human companionship, away from his near and dear ones...

Loved his jest for life. His witty comments full of love and compassion. Subtly guiding sometimes. Blessing me on important occasions. Writing about his past and opening a window into a beautiful, eventful life. Of course, writing about Alex and his other cats, subsequently.

Then I lost touch with his blog and got busy in my own world for a couple of years until Karthik pinged me one day, and asked me to checkout his blog. Nick was in deep poverty, suffering from neglect and bad health. A few of us gathered some money and sent it across to him. He was immensely grateful and ecstatic. A few hundred dollors of long could it help him? What else could we have done, from here?

Then it was all downhill. Ill health. Cancer. Obesity. An operation and loss of ability to walk. Isolation in the hospital ward. Perhaps the biggest blow...being cut off from Alex and other kittens. Yet....except for the last couple of months, his joy towards life and optimism was intact. He regularly posted on facebook about what was happening to him and what he looked forward to.

I sincerely wished for his 'passing on' a few times, praying for a peaceful end to his suffering. And it has come about, a few days ago. Nick has moved over.

Heck...this passing over, this continuing the journey....sounds good to hear. Except that, those who continue their journey, they don't send back a post card from their new land. You're completely cut off from them and can access them only in memory. Wish it wasn't so. Wish you could connect to them at will. Wish....

 Can't be detached about it. Terribly missing Nick.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

On a shore without footprints...

‘Where are you?’ asks Madhavi. ‘She wants to see you.’

I can’t attend the function—full busy. But post lunch I can meet. ‘illa…she will not be here by that time. And she’s been asking everyone about you. Baroke aaguttha? Try mado…’

Aaagalla. A twisted feeling within. I feel like dropping everything and rush there but… And the next two hours, I’m floating in and out of the past. To a particular time period. For some reason, that part of the history is popping up again and again. As if it holds something to be healed, to be revisited and sublimated.

Teacher’s pet. I had no intention of becoming one but from day one, I went deep into studies. And the next three years, there was only one goal. To excel in studies. To be the very best. To score the highest marks, higher than anyone and everyone. A bit of football. Karate. And studies, studies, studies. Nothing else.

She was a gentle lady. Our class teacher for the three years of high-school. In the beginning of the term, when the first test results were out, I had scored extremely well. And after that, I started sucking up everything that was taught, as if I was a camel away from an oasis. Loads and bundles of appreciation from the teachers. Particularly from this lady who handled the English classes.

She was affectionate…loved by everyone. And when someone is a class teacher, you have an additional dose of belongingness towards them. Like you’re in a big joint family, and this woman who’s in charge of you all, she’s your Mom. An invisible, almost intangible feeling of warmth that flowed between her and the entire class, for the whole duration of three years.

High school ended. And we flew away. I went back just a couple of times to my school after that, to invite all the teachers to my sister’s marriage…and another occasion. Saw her once and she had a big grin. Enquired after me. ‘The world is competitive, you have to work hard to succeed,’ she would say. 

And then…it’s been almost a quarter century until today.

I go in the afternoon and meet up all the classmates. No…she isn’t there. A high school teacher…she must’ve seen thousands of students pass through her gaze, her teaching, her nurturing. Like a rock which bears witness to the flowing river across eons. I get sentimental thinking of them. A fine bonding lasting just a few years. Then more children…again they pass out. You embrace them for a while…and let go. How many faces do you remember?

‘But she remembers you…she repeatedly asked everyone about you.’ I see her in the photo, aged and frail. There’s warmth within…to be held in someone’s memory across decades. Wish I could meet her. Maybe I should’ve. Just dropped everything and rushed.

There’s this passing fear…that she wants to see where I’ve reached, for all the promises I raised in those years. And I have nothing earth shattering to show. Will I be a disappointment? Will I falter before her, in my hesitation and awkwardness? Or…is it just to look at me as I am, without expectations, with nothing but a gentle affection towards a once shy, stammering, studious guy? I would love to believe it’s the latter.

I may not meet her again. Or I may. But today brought the beautiful gift of remembrance towards a long forgotten soul, and also a satisfaction of knowing that I’m still being remembered. A gentle bow!

Saturday, May 28, 2016


The count is three !!! Today he butchered and killed the third snake. A full grown cobra. I think he has taken birth to hunt down snakes, liberate them and send them back to their source. That's his purpose.

His ferocity in greeting strangers is also increasing. Even the morning walkers get cautious when they spot him approaching.

And his playfulness and joy in interacting with us is on an upward swing. Mock an attack and he lies down in surrender, only to spring on you when you step back. Loves the human touch. Scratch his head and neck ...and he gives the most pampered satisfied expression.

Gentle towards his beloveds....ferocious towards enemies. Thunder!!! He needs a new name...something that accomodates both qualities.


While I'm about to post the above...eeshu comes running to say...that Thunder is lying near the gate...frosting at the mouth. The snake might have bit him in the fight. He is no more.

Such a brief association...a few months. Intense and intimate. His eyes...the innocent love gushing forth from them...unable to shake off the memory.

Friday, May 27, 2016

on the threshold

‘Ok tell me, how are kids born?’ he asks.

I’m not yet familiar with the human anatomy and the biological processes although I’ve had a small inkling about the desire part. But I’ve watched one hell of movies…and I blurt out, ‘Nodu….on the first night, there’s a glass of milk. The man first drinks it and then gives it to his wife. When he drinks it, sperms are released from his mouth into the milk…and then when the wife drinks the rest of the milk, the sperms go into her body and meets the egg and….’

He was already on the road, laughing his guts out and I was staring at him wondering what on Earth had I blabbered to evoke this reaction!!! After a while he composed himself and then gave me a substantial account of the process and procedures. I was like…umm….good, is it? Ok, etc. First sex education session. I was in Class six at that time.

His name was parikshit…we called him porke. Terribly naughty fellow….he kedsd the entire class with his naughtiness…the girls drooled over him, and the boys, they learnt things from him. Before he arrived, we all were bhai-bhai, girls and boys, laughing and joking and sharing things together. Baddi maga…once he came and began tutoring, everyone became self-conscious…became aware that they were biologically different species. Something like Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit. He brought the forbidden fruit. The very first sex guru. Mini Osho.

Maybe the wet-dreams and fantasies started around that age. The urge to release. But something else arrived simultaneously. The first stirrings in the heart. Purely platonic. Untouched by a physical desire...purely romantic. Overshadowing the lust. Entwining lust and elevating the primal desire by a small notch.

There was Angel. And there was another one who arrived like a whirlwind, mesmerised with a hundred dreams and crashed out, leaving deadly deep scars of humiliation and shame that would take a decade to heal. The scars that were deep enough to push one into a shell, unwilling to open up to the beautiful song that was playing very close by in all those years.

Adolescent years. So magical. So fucking brutal.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

 Mom and dad built their house 30 years ago. At that time, dad brought four coconut trees from his native village and planted them at the four corners of the house. Two perished and the other two...they grew into tall trees giving shade, rustling in the wind, providing coconuts for years and years. Soon many houses were built around our house and the concrete jungle pressed that much closer to these two beings. When our house was being rebuilt 10 years ago, an excavation machine was brought to dig up the earth so that pillars could be added. It was then we saw how deep the roots had gone--perhaps deeper than the foundation of the surrounding houses and encompassing the earth underneath. Mighty roots which would create cracks in the compound walls, and sometimes break through the hard concrete. Falling coconuts breaking things underneath, creating tensions with neighbours. Minor irritants but...

Now, the time has come to say goodbye to them. They will be cut down tomorrow. It's difficult to imagine our house without these two guys, standing tall like guards, like companions, like friends. I wonder at them, at their emotions, at how they feel--to be felled. Do they weep? Do they feel sad at this sudden decision to cut short their lives? Or do they have a sense of resignation and acceptance? Maybe they'd have survived if there was a bigger space. Do they feel pain when they are cut? I'll miss their murmur which would greet me every time I climbed up the terrace. The sky, watched through the green leaves, will be poorer now without them.

But yes, their 30 year association with us, with our house ends...and there is a deep gratitude and an immense love towards them amidst the lingering sadness at their impending departure. I wish I could talk to them. Yes I can but I wish I could listen.

Kokkre the name that comes to mind everytime I watch kokkres(white storks) on my evening walks. Elegant birds, walking around cautiously, quick to peck at insects and lizards, ready to take off and fly. Kokkre belluru is famous for these migratory birds flocking around in thousands. Want to visit. And RanganaThittu!!! Travel....Travel...Travel...lots and lots of it. I'm waiting for something to explode into this aspect.