Friday, December 28, 2007

Exotic Menu

We are a group of content people, self sufficient in almost every way.
In our society there is neither religion nor caste; neither politics nor diplomacy; neither competition nor greed. To us, nature is everything. We would be happy to be left alone.

But life has been very unfair to us all the way.
People from another community seem to have taken us for granted.

Just a few hours after I came into this world, I was separated from my mother. They did not bother to tell us why. I was allowed to go near my mother only sparingly. I used to be hungry very often but with time I realized that I had to be content with a little milk that I drank whenever I was with mother.

They barged into our midst one day and took my father away to work in the fields. They sold him to a rich guy who whip lashed him all the time. He was going to be their slave forever.

I was crossing the road to reach the other side of the fields and I was hit by a speeding truck. I was badly bruised. I was moaning and groaning with pain. No crowd of people gathered around me and there was no first aid. The culprit just drove away and the cops did not have a problem with that.

The atrocity reached it’s peak last week. They tied the limbs of my mother and slaughtered her. I believe somebody was willing to pay for her flesh. They did not even try to soften her pain. She was neither given anesthesia nor any pain killer. Her wailing and weeping was heart rendering.
A tiny needle prick hurts so much! Oh! What pain and suffering she must have gone through, as they severed her body parts one by one!
She bled to death in front of my eyes. They flayed her skin and tore her into pieces. They roasted her on fire and devoured her with a smile on their faces. The gory scene is still fixed before my eyes.

There was no funeral. No last respects were paid. Nobody weeps over her death.
Life goes on as I wait for my turn.

What have we done to anyone?

I, the protagonist of this story am a cow. I could be a sheep or a pig or a chicken. The story still remains the same.

A glaring cruelty is screaming for attention. Will someone help us please?


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dwarf On a Giant

Whenever I heard the well read people talking about our great philosophers and ancestors like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle in total awe and with great respect, I deduced that these people must have been larger than life. Almost anyone who had heard about them or studied about them seemed to hold their wisdom in absolute sanctity. So did I. I thought that their works must be very complex, profound and therefore incomprehensible by the ordinary minds.

When I started reading about these men and their works, I wondered what was so great about them. I found most of it very simple and ordinary. In fact I took pride in being able to criticize their works. Some writer seemed very cynical. Someone was preaching negative philosophy. Someone had written about something that is a matter of common knowledge. Some writing was totally hypothetical and not based on evidence. I concluded that most of the people who sang praises of these great men either had low standards or lacked any discretion of their own. They were blind patrons who would worship any person because the textbooks wrote about them or because they were told to do so by parents and elders. They never did an evaluation of anything themselves but simply did what hundreds of thousands of others did.

Consider Newton’s laws of physics.
The law on inertia says “An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

This simply means that a tumbler or a spoon when kept on a table will sit there until and unless you push them or move them elsewhere. Why did it require a Newton to say this? Even I know pens, spoons and tumblers don’t walk about.

All Socrates did was ask questions. “What is life?”, “What is success?”, “What is courage?”, “What is virtue?” and so on. He never bothered to answer any of those questions but left his students wondering as to what the answers were. As I can observe, all children between 2 and 3 do the same thing – ask a lot of questions, leaving the parents perplexed. Why? Socrates was even described as a fly(a gadfly) because of his irritating nature. He annoyed people by first asking them questions and then arguing both sides of those questions.

Aristotle, the Greek philosopher established the peripatetic school: peripatetic – meaning, walking or traveling about. Aristotle used to walk around and have discussions with his students, in the mornings and in the evenings. Now, how different was that from what my grandmother used to do when I was a child and refused to have food? She would walk me around and tell me stories from Panchatantra.

One of the creations of Aristotle in the field of logic was syllogism. I found it too complex to memorize. How ever it goes like this. Syllogism is an argument the conclusion of which is supported by two premises. The major premise contains the major term that is the predicate of the conclusion, and the minor premise contains the minor term that is the subject of the conclusion. Common to both premises is a middle term that is excluded from the conclusion.
It means, if A equals B and B equals C, then A equals C. Was it this theory that made Aristotle a great philosopher?

I wondered thus for a very long time. Were all these men really great or was it exaggerated by those who wrote history? But an experience in the recent past opened my eyes.

It was suggested to me by someone that I should think out of the box in order to be creative or innovative. Every time I tried to think out of the box, I concluded that everything that could have been discovered had been discovered. Everything that could have been invented has already been invented. Our scientists with their telescopes have explored the mysterious skies. All planets, stars, asteroids and comets have been identified and given names. We have sent our guardian angels to fly across the skies in the form of satellites and space shuttles. Our submarines have penetrated the abyss and touched the rock bottom. They have stolen from the ocean her pearls and precious stones. The continents have all been discovered and inhabited. There is no virgin land where you will not see the flag of some nation flying high. Land, air and water have all passed through the dissection and scrutiny of human microscope. So, whenever I began to think of something, some idea or concept which had never occurred to a human being in the history of mankind, I failed miserably. The maximum I could do was come up with an idea that was a mere improvisation of what already existed.

That is when I realized that it truly takes a genius to think of something that has never been thought of before. These men whose brilliance I was skeptical about had done just that. A seed of thought had germinated in their minds. This thought was passed on from one generation to another. Each generation assimilated the idea while contributing to its growth. The seed has grown to become a huge tree. It provides shelter to all of us. Sometimes, we take the tree for granted and forget the seed or even worse laugh at its miniature size.

In the year 1903 the first plane of the Wright brothers flew for as long as 59 seconds covering a distance of 852 feet only. But that was the origin. The Boeing 757, the MIG’s and fighter planes of today are mere improvisations.

In 1876, Graham Bell in one room used a liquid transmitter to speak to his assistant Watson in another room. It was this telephone that revolutionized the daily lives of ordinary people. The cordless phones of today, the mobile devices with their blue tooth and infra red are mere improvisations.

Various branches of mathematics like arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry calculus, logic, probability and statistics have converged to construct the modern civilization. This civilization would not have been possible but for the Indian who invented the zero.

Thus, the man who gives birth is superior to all those who nourish the baby. The man in whose mind an idea germinates for the first time contributes in greater magnitude than his numerous successors who improvise the idea or the concept.

A river in her place of origin is a small stream, a narrow brook, trickling down a rocky hill amidst herbs, shrubs, creepers and climbers. It takes hundreds of rivulets to contribute their waters to the river to make her a Ganges. From her origin in the Himalayas all the way to her confluence with the ocean, she is fed by melting snow, ice from glaciers, tributaries and rains from the heaven. But it is the river in her origin that is held in religious sanctity. Millions of pilgrims travel all the way to the zenith of Himalayas on a rough terrain to worship that tiny stream, not the rivulets, not the glaciers. Such is the importance of origin.

Most of the times, we believe that we are wiser or smarter than our predecessors. We believe that we have made more progress in the field of science and technology; that we are more advanced in every way.

But the truth remains that we are mere dwarfs. We see farther than the giant, not because we are taller than the giant, but because we are dwarfs seated on the shoulder of a giant.

When we come into this world, we inherit 2500 years of philosophy, science, logic, mathematics, politics, poetry and music. And if you are an Indian, you inherit 5000 years since ours is the oldest civilization on the planet.

On this day, which is a very special day, like every other day, I ask each one of you to join me as I remember with gratitude, all those great men, to whom we owe our materials and our morals, our equipment and our etiquette, our mind and our matter, our principles and our philosophies, those Socrates - Aristotles, Platos, Wright brothers, Graham bells …. And most important of all, the Indian who invented the zero.

Desiderata - Max Ehrmann

This piece of writing was given to me by my father a good 15 years ago much before this was available on the internet. But I happened to read it only recently when I found it between the leaves of an old book. :-)

"Desiderata" (Latin for "desired things", plural of desideratum) is an inspirational prose poem about attaining happiness in life. It was first copyrighted in 1927 by Max Ehrmann.

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be
greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career
however humble;
it is a real possession in the
changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you
to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit
to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham,
drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Monday, December 17, 2007

As Perennial as the Grass

As I walked through the forest of life in search of the perfect flower, the first flower that I chanced upon was the rose. It was exquisite and elegant. It was rich and charismatic. It was delicate and charming. It was not meant for the ordinary. It was made for someone special. This is the flower I had been looking for all my life! My heart soared to great heights. What more could someone ask for. It could not get more perfect than this. It was my first love.
Day and night, I wove dreams of togetherness with this love. The thought that I would possess it forever made me so happy, I thought I was becoming insane. My search had come to an end.

As I moved closer to it, the rose eluded me. I eventually realized that the rose was not made for me. What a disappointment it was. How would I live without it? I wept in grief at my loss. I wept for several days. I had loved and lost.
It left behind a void in my life which no one else could ever fill. First love is never forgotten. I would never love again with this intensity for no one else could be as perfect as this one. It was the only one of its kind…

Holding on to my dream with utmost tenacity, I continued walking through the forest, not caring to notice my surroundings, but imagining that I would find the rose again. I said to myself consolingly “The rose and I have a future together, for otherwise, the encounter would never have happened”.

After several miles of journey, when my memory of the rose had faded, when my wounds had healed, when the blood had dried, I met another flower. The Jasmine. The fragrance of it permeated the air, filling the surroundings with a sweet scent. Yet it did not stand out, but merged in perfect harmony with its environment. I was drawn towards it.
It contained enough sweetness in it’s womb to diffuse it’s aroma throughout the forest, and yet it practiced a quiet reticence. It could afford to be loud and proud but it practiced such humility, lending itself as a string of flowers to a youthful maiden who would decorate her hair with it and at the same time, offering itself in innocent submission to a priest, who would place it at the feet of a deity in a temple. I had not known anyone so modest. I was in love again.

How mistaken had I been in thinking I would never love again. Not only did love happen but the intensity was the same this time. I knew, for I had experienced it before. My heart soared once again. It could not get more perfect than this. It was the only one of its kind. My search had come to an end this time.

But as I moved close to it, it eluded me. I moved closer and it was gone. My heart bled. It hurt with the same intensity, but this time it was a familiar pain. I had gone through it before. Ah! What a tantalization! There is no greater cause of distress in life than the cause of unrequited love. My faith in the permanence of my hard luck was restored. I would never love again for no one would replace the love of jasmine in my heart.

I moved on. It was a tiring expedition through a rough terrain of thorns and shrubs, creepers and climbers. There was no sign of respite, no fountains and no springs. As I walked, I saw a flower the name of which I do not know. It was a wild flower. There was nothing remarkable about it. It was neither rich in colour not did it have a fragrance. It simply existed in a natural uncultivated state. What I liked about it was that it did not care to defend its position. It did not try to give a justification. It had an untamed, undomesticated, unbashful disposition which I found very intoxicating. It was simple, candid and uncomplicated. Living in abandon, carefree as the winds, it drew me towards itself.

Now I was annoyed at myself for feeling this way about something so primitive and uncultured. What had happened to my taste? Was it desperation that led to this feeling? Should I settle for something so unrefined?

When I look back at the journey, I am surprised at myself. When I began my journey I was looking for something spectacular, I was looking for aristocracy, exquisiteness which I found in the rose, but as I moved on, I valued the humility and modesty of the jasmine. I was impressed with the care freeness of the wild flower. Have I lost the very purpose of the search that I had begun? Have I become less choosy or have I matured as a human, and has my perspective changed?

I became introspective. I looked back in retrospection. A realization was the outcome of my contemplation.

On an impulse when I compare the rose and the jasmine and the wild flower, I observe, not that one was better than the other but that, each one was as perfect and as complete as the other. Loving one was as ecstatic as loving the other. The loss of one was as painful as the loss of another.

The roots of my beliefs are now shaken. They say that love happens only once and they say that first love is never forgotten. I believed them. But now I wonder. Is there any truth in these? Perhaps they are nothing more than seeds of thoughts implanted in the society by wise men with ulterior motives.

There are no wounds that time cannot heal, nothing that cannot be forgotten. Time does not forgive anything or anyone.

Perhaps the only truth is that love is unconditional. You don’t need a reason to love. You don’t need a perfect flower either. It never really is the last time. For the heart is an inexhaustible resource of an endless supply of love. It needs to bestow this love upon someone. If it contains or withholds this love within itself, then it suffers. It dies under its own weight.

I now stand disillusioned.
The heart will soar and plunge again and again. It will explode in ecstasy, weep in despondency, go through silent suffering, rejoice in fulfillment, wriggle (squirm) in desperation again and again not because the flowers of the forest are irresistible, but because love itself is perpetual, like the seasons that come and go, year after year.

Love may elude you once but it will beckon you again. Do not be cynical about love for it is as perennial as the grass. It can happen to anyone, at any time and many times. And every time it is as fulfilling, as refreshing, as perfect as it was the last time. You will love the rose, the jasmine, the wild flower and many more cause love is perennial and perpetual.

Love prevails as long as the journey. You cannot define it’s boundaries. You cannot describe it using parameters. You don’t know when the search began and you cannot say that it has come to an end. For all you know just around the corner there may be that special flower waiting for you.

As I continue my walk through the forest of life, I now find myself standing before the sacred Lotus in the midst of sparkling waters!
My heart soars once again. Even though I try hard not to, I cannot help believing that this is the most perfect of them all. This is the flower I was looking for. It is unlike anything I have seen before and there never will be anything like this ever after.

My search has come to an end and I find myself moving close to it!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I beg for forgiveness

Forgive me
For I blushed at the thought of someone
And flushed at the sight of someone

Forgive me
For my heart skipped a beat
And my pulse raced
As I caught him stealing glances at me

Forgive me
For I stood before my reflection
For many hours
Grooming myself
In silk and chiffon
Choosing pearls and crystals
For embellishments
So he would not take his eyes off me

Forgive me
For I dreamt
Of togetherness with him
Whenever the full moon
Filled my courtyard
For I yearned for his company
When the cool breeze
Carrying the smell of jasmines
Blew against my face
For I wept in his longing
When the first showers of rain
Drenched my body
For I burned in his separation
As I walked by the sea shores alone

I beg for forgiveness
I should have been that drop of rain
That descends upon the ocean…
Sent from the heaven,
Pure in her form
She is intercepted by no one
But the ocean Himself
Fie upon my choice to flow through land
In the form of a river
Only to be fed by tributaries and glaciers
Only to be received by kingdoms and empires
Even before her wedding with the ocean

I should have saved all of myself
My mind and my soul
To offer to you,
The God of my dreams
For it was your prerogative
To initiate love in my life

But rest assured, my last love
There shall be no one after you
In this lifetime

I have thrown away the flowers of wilderness
That I had once gathered
For my search has now come to an end
With the finding of the Sacred Lotus


Smruti - A Sanskrit word. Meaning, memory. As I write this, I recall the memories of a good friend. A friend in need and a friend indeed.

A project assignment took me to a faraway land in the recent past. We were a team of people who went there. Certainly, we were not birds of the same feathers. Needless to say, we did not flock together.

To my good fortune there was one colleague who kept me company throughout my stay there. I shall refer to this colleague as Friend.

I am told that every relationship is for a reason or for a season or for a lifetime.

When Friend came into my life, I thought it was for a reason, because Friend came into my life at a time when I was away from home, friends, near and dear ones. I was in a land where there was an abundance of consumer items, shopping malls, electronic goods and cars among other things. But there was a scarcity of people.
As I mentioned before, we, the team, were not birds of the same feathers (although half of them had very weird feathers and kept me quite entertained for three months).

Just when I had started to worry about how I would live for 3 months all alone, Friend placed a hand on my shoulder, gave a warm smile and said “Main Hoon Na”(meaning, “Don’t worry, I am there”).

My face lightened up at once. And the journey began.

From then on, we were together in everything we did.
We used to take long walks in the evening. We would have conversations about subjects covering a whole spectrum. Food, drinking, music, family, marriage, destiny versus freewill, project work, confused managers, child psychology, parenting, west versus east, astrology, mind reading and the art of listening among other things.

He would chop vegetables everyday very religiously and I would cook.
We would both relish what we cooked and praise each other for possessing such culinary skills. Over a quiet meal we would continue what was left of the evening conversation or start a new conversation.

We would listen to music for hours till late in the night; Ghazals, melodious old songs, the new releases depending on my mood. I say my mood, (not our mood) intentionally because Friend was very considerate and being a few years older than me, allowed me the advantage of being younger.
I, being short tempered and stubborn would be difficult at times. But Friend was most patient with me, putting up with my tantrums, pacifying me, consoling me and advising me.
And then both us would loose it, argue and sometimes fight. After a few hours, everything would be alright again.

As days passed, I began to think that this relationship started with a reason but lasted for a season.

As our conversations progressed, I began to realize how wise, sensible and thoughtful Friend was! The following are some of the pearls of wisdom I gathered from my friend, philosopher and guide.

1. Nothing unites a group of people better than a common enemy. If you see such a group of people where there is no true cohesion but there is unity because of a common hatred, then beware of such a group. If YOU happen to be the common enemy, then get out of their way, and the group will break immediately.

2. The greatest learning in life is to unlearn whatever you have learnt so far. From time to time, format your system and start afresh.

3. When someone you don’t know very well is talking to you about someone/something, then, listen carefully. Do not pay attention to what is being told. You can always ask them to repeat it later. But try to judge their motive. That will tell you if you should believe them or not.

4. Life presents battles before you every now and then. Fight the battles. But once a battle ends, throw away the weapons immediately. If you carry the weapons, then your struggle will never end and you will be your own opponent.

5. All those people who are finicky about minute details, the perfectionists, this is for you.
“If it is GOOD ENOUGH, then it is GOOD ENOUGH”.

6. It is very important to have a high level of self esteem. If you want to succeed in life, raise your self esteem. All the people who are struggling to make an impression, eager to please others are lacking self esteem.

7. Whenever it is important to win an argument and prove that you are right, talk less. The chances of misinterpretation are less. When you talk less, your opponent will find it most difficult to argue with you. When you talk more, you are giving your opponent more time to prepare a counter argument. Also, by divulging more information than necessary, you are giving your opponent several points any of which he can counter. Narrow their option by talking very little.

8. Most important of all learning was the Law of Attraction – you can get all you want in life. All you have to do is ask for it earnestly. When you want something genuinely, the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it.

9. Take a sheet of paper. Draw 2 small concentric circles at the bottom of the paper. The inner circle represents all that you know. The out circle represents all that you know you don’t know. The rest of the empty space on the paper represents all that you don’t even know that you don’t know!!!! First thing, be aware of this. Next thing, try to increase the circles in size, such that, the empty space on the paper outside the circles, becomes less and less.

The day of departure arrived. Friend left to India.
Today, I have returned to India too. I and Friend are together once again.

I am hoping this relationship which began with a reason and withstood a season, will last for a lifetime!

Thank you Friend for the Smruti. Thank you for giving me a friend, philosopher and guide.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Counting my Blessings

Soon after I returned from my trip to the US, Melvit, my roommate hugged me, cried and said “Don’t ever leave me and go again”. It is so wonderful to be loved. And to be missed!

I attended the Toastmasters club after a long time. But I managed to win a ribbon for the best table topic speaker. My communication skills are sharp enough even though I have not been speaking for a long time now. I can handle impromptu speaking with more ease and less struggle than before.

I met Garima, after so long. She said every time she has a bleeding heart, she thinks of me. It feels so good to have strong shoulders on which people in distress can lean.

I feel young at 28. I was eagerly photographing every tall building in Seattle. I also pictured every tree in Seattle that had fall colours on it. Barbara saw this and she calls me a kid in a candy store. I have kept the child in me alive, long after the effervescence has died in other people my age.

Melvit once called me “Alice in Wonderland” for she saw the same excitement and effervescence in me. Manju who is four years younger than me once said “I wonder sometimes if you are younger than me”. I have been laughing so much.

My problem of hair loss has gradually subsided and I keep looking at my long lustrous lashes in the mirror all the time. My skin feels better too.

Insomnia is no longer a cause of distress in life. Those nightmares don’t haunt me anymore. I sleep really well at night and wake up in the morning feeling fresh.

I keep good health for most part of the year. It has been ages since I visited the doctor. Touchwood.

Everybody said I would never find the man of my dreams for such perfect men don’t exist in reality. Just when I was about to let go of my dream, I met Justin. Now I know such men exist. My dream is alive. I am alive.

On the 2nd December 1998, in the innocent town of Mysore, I met Srikumar for the first time. Recently we celebrated our 9th friendship anniversary. He says “It was worth the relationship”. That brings a smile on my face. I fondly think of those days and of how we nurtured and nourished a friendship. It was a smaller world and we meant a lot to each other. Times have changed today and we are in different worlds but I am happy we came as far as this.

Eight out of ten people like me. It is a good score. I am happy. The remaining two are either jealous or intimidated. I am happy about that too!

I took part in a singing contest. I did not win but everyone loved my voice.

I can prepare wonderful rice and sambhar. I can also prepare tomato rice, vegetable rice, rasam, dhahi puri, mushroom curry, aloo and gobhi parantha, yummy vegetable upma, curd rice, Dal Roti, pasta, noodles, Dosa among many other things. My guests in California relished what I cooked. I make sure people around me are well fed. Cooking is a talent and blessed am I to possess it.

Poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, epidemics, dowry deaths, female infanticide, permanent widowhood and scarcity are things of the past.

They say a huge comet or meteor will collide with earth and destroy most of life. Water will become a scarcity! Global warming will cause sea level to rise and coastal cities will submerge. Radiation due to mobile phones will begin to cause genetic disorders. But these are things of the future.

I live today. An age where there is an abundance of food, a profusion of clothes, toys, electronic gadgets, cars, houses and money among other things. I live in an age where women have become empowered and men are becoming sensible. Society is permissive. It allows you to choose how you want to live your life and almost everything is nobody’s business. How convenient!! It seems like this is the right time to live your life. What a perfect timing!

Everybody complains about Bangalore traffic. They swear all the time. I feel emotional when I look at the state of Bangalore. I don’t feel angry or frustrated. I feel emotional. I am very pleased with my compassionate attitude.

I have made a decision. Not to buy a four wheeler. I have decided to use the public transportation system. I firmly believe that one man cars are solely responsible for the state of Bangalore roads. And as a responsible citizen, I will not drive a one man car. I believe that I can make a difference. Yes, I believe. That makes me one among those who don’t just talk, but act.

I used to be such a cynic just a few years ago. Now I am an incorrigible optimist. All the blue in life has turned green! Don’t know if life has changed or my perspective!

Had been hearing about it forever from people all around me. The big Indian dream of going to America. Recently I visited America myself. Finally.

I received very good feedback for my performance in the Legacy Modernisation project of Blue Shield of California. I did the kind of work I always wanted to do. I had the opportunity to work with subject matter experts having twenty years of experience. The fact that THEY were impressed with me proves that I am not a success among the mediocre. I am a success among the successful. I see my career progressing. At last. The biggest uncertainty of my life is removed.

I traveled all alone to the beautiful Yosemite valley, the tall and giant redwood trees of California. I visited Seattle at the right time and caught beautiful fall colours. I saw sunset over waters of the Pacific. I saw lush green vegetation at the foothills of the snow covered Mount Pilchuck near Seattle.

I am in a happy state of mind for no particular reason. Unconditional happiness.

I am at peace with myself and at peace with life. I declare that Life is beautiful. There is a lot in wanting but I don’t complain any more.
There is a prayer on my lips and gratitude in my heart for all I have and all I am going to receive. I am fully aware of how fortunate I am.
In summary, I count my blessings. And the good thing is, I can’t use my fingers for counting. I don’t have that many fingers!!!

An Autumn

Whenever autumn is referenced in Indian literature, music, poetry or any work of art, it is always in the context of a tragedy. Never in any other context.

The lush green fades into a pale yellow, then a brown and then grey in colour. The leaves detach themselves from the branches and bury themselves in the soil below. Forever.

When a man grows old and regret takes the place of hope, he uses the phrase “the autumn of my life” often.
When two people in love get separated even before uniting, they say “The autumn arrived even before Spring”. The autumn inspires poetry in many a poetic soul; poetry carrying the sentiments of despair, gloom, desolation and despondency.
Nobody looks forward to the arrival of autumn. Such are the connotations attached with autumn in India.

But there is a land, faraway, beyond the horizon, at the other end of the diameter where autumn is the most beautiful of them all. The green turns in to a brilliant yellow, then to a sunset orange to crimson to a flaming red. Forests and forests are embellished with colours as if celebrating the departure. The autumn of this land inspires poetry too, but the sentiment carried is so different. The contrast is unbelievable!

There is no farewell on earth as grand as this one.
There is no man on earth luckier than he who has seen the maple during the season of the fall.

Find more pictures in their original size at Fall in Love with the Fall

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Seattle - Snoqualmie Falls


Seattle has very scenic surroundings. Mountains, rivers, waterfalls, forests and so on…. The Snoqualmie waterfall is a beautiful one. It is just as high as 270 feet. The Jog is three times higher than this. Nevertheless, this waterfall is very well maintained. There are hiking trails to the base of the fall and several vista points. There are plenty of maple trees in the vicinity. The long drive to this place from Snohomish where Barb lives was very beautiful.

Check out more pictures in their original size at Seattle - Snoqualmie Falls

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Seattle Day 2 – Riding the Duck and Downtown


The DUCK is an amphibious World War II vehicle that will show you Seattle from both land and water. You get to see downtown Seattle, Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, and then, splash into Lake Union for a spectacular view of the city skyline, luxurious yachts, and Seattle Houseboats!
The popularly pronounced DUCK is actually DUKW. It is a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck that was originally designed inside General Motors Corporation during World War II for transporting goods and troops over land and water and for use approaching and crossing beaches in amphibious attacks.

The designation of DUKW is not a military pun - the name comes from the terminology used for military vehicles in World War II; the D indicates a vehicle designed in 1942, the U meant "utility (amphibious)", the K indicated all-wheel drive and the W indicated two powered rear axles.

The experience music project is the weirdest structure I have seen in my life. It is a museum that houses rock music artifacts and such exhibits. The museum presumably takes the shape of a crashed/smashed electric guitar. This was built by Bill Gates’ right hand named Paul Allen, also the co founder of Microsoft. The building was described by Forbes magazine as one of the world's 10 ugliest buildings. The building cost him 240 million dollars!!

The space needle was awesome. What a view you get from a 500 feet high observation deck! Never before has a 360 degree view been so perfect and so full of beauty. The space needle looks futuristic and will always look so.

The tall buildings of Seattle never ceased to fascinate me. I photographed almost every building. Barb called me “a kid in a candy store”. I like that title.

Pike’s place market was interesting, bustling with people and activity. Much talked about was the fish market where the salesmen throw fish and the other salesmen catch them. It’s tradition. It definitely requires skill to catch these fish, given the fact that they are so slippery, slimy etc…

View pictures in their original size at Seattle - Ride the Duck....Downtown and More....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Seattle - Mount Pilchuck

mt pilchuck and more

19th October 2007

This was my first visit to Seattle. I say this not because there has been a second visit but because I found this place and it’s vicinities so beautiful that I know I will visit this place again.
I was enjoying the hospitality of Barbara and Pamela. Two of the sweetest people I have known in my life who made my visit to the US very very memorable. I love you and I thank you both.

The first day of my stay there (I stayed there for 3 days), we visited Mount Pilchuck. I have no words to describe the beauty of this place or I may say that I have too many words. The pictures will speak for themselves.

Do visit Seattle - Mount Pilchuck for pictures in thier original size.

Yosemite and Muir Woods

Inspiration Point

The western slopes of Sierra Nevada mountain range.
3000 square kilometers of tranquility
Strength of enormous granite cliffs
Power of glaciers
Grand meadows
Deep valleys
Giant sequoias
A vast wilderness



I also visited Muir woods which is a shrine of tall, ancient redwood trees of California.

Muir woods

Enjoy all the pictures ......

Do visit
Yosemite and Muir Woods for pictures in their original size...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Pacific Beckons


The highway one runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean all the way up to Mexico. The thought of it was exciting. India is a peninsula; covered by the Indian Ocean on three sides. I have seen a lot of ocean in my life. But you can never tire of water. Right? I started one morning to see a new water of a new land.

There are so many beaches and so well maintained. But a very few people. The pacific is VAST. It’s enormous. So enormous that it overwhelms you. It humbles you. The blue beautiful water is so enticing, so tempting. You move towards it, bend down and touch the water. You suddenly stop. The water is sooooo COLD! The sea breeze is cold too….. It hurts like a 100 needles poking your body. I simply stood there helplessly, wanting to indulge in the waves but unable to do so. What a waste of beauty! It was like standing before a wicked man with a sadistic sense of humour.

I was also told that there are sharks not very far from the shores. Many a dangers lurk beneath a beguiling, inviting ocean. It allures you and eludes you at the same time. That is what you call “Dangerous Innocence”.

I cannot help comparing the Pacific with the Indian Ocean. The water is warm. The breeze is not too cold. The atmosphere is so pleasant. The Indian Ocean is a lot more welcoming, a lot more hospitable. You can find so many people indulging in the waves. There is harmony between man and nature; a cohesion between the people and the waters. Just like the cohesive spirit that defines the Indian society. In one of his essays Tagore observes that in the west, man and nature are always in conflict and seldom in harmony unlike in the east. I can understand what he was trying to say.

As I think of the cold waters of the pacific and the man on the shores who is just a bystander battling with the cold breeze, I can feel the hostility between the two. I can feel the distance which is more than just physical. The divide is obvious. I can feel that lack of a cohesive spirit that binds man with man and man with nature.
I always thought the western society was so segmented, so fractured, lacking that cohesive spirit. Everything in the west is well DEFINED. The boundaries are always clear and never obscure. There are as many territories as the number of people. They call it personal space!

Perhaps the ocean has it's space too which it does not want to share with the people!

Did the waters learn from the men it engulfed or did man learn from the nature that surrounded him?

To see the pictures in their original size do visit
The Pacific Beckons

San Francisco


San Francisco. It was when I visited this city on the 13th of September that I got my first (true)glimpse of AMERICA. My room was on the 11th floor of Grosvenor suites. I walked into the room and pushed the curtains behind and LO BEHOLD! The sparkling, sterling, scintillating skyline of San Francisco loomed before me. I could even hear the background music in my mind. The chimes and the piano! Oh! It was larger than life! I stood before it for long. The enormity of it slowly sinking in! Who says you easily tire of manmade cities but never of nature?? I will never tire of this city’s skyline. It will strike me as awesome every time I look at it. The symmetry, the perfect finish, the flawless design, the engineering marvel behind every brick that was laid, the strength of those foundations that support their weight, those men who envisioned these colossal structures, the perseverance, persistence and persuasion that must have gone into the completion of such initiatives……every building has pride and dignity….standing tall, defying gravity….. against the winds and in spite of the rains……their glitter and shimmer redefining beauty………..long live mankind that created the impossible! Long live it’s tenacity…………….

The pictures will speak for themselves…………………………..

Also visit San Francisco for more pictures in their original size.............

Tuesday, September 04, 2007



To the common man, it is an Indian name. A beautiful one.
To the astronomer, it is the name of the most beautiful star in the night sky known in English as Aldeberon, which is a red giant.
But to me, it is music. It is the name of a raga, in Carnatic classical music ; the most captivating of all ragas.

Oh! That feeling I feel when I listen to compositions in this raga! It is so difficult to express that feeling in words…..I have tried my best here……..

As the notes unfurl, I recline in my chair, rest my head backwards and look above, facing the sky. There is a faraway look in my eyes as if in a trance.
I am elevated to a higher mental plane. I become philosophical. I am both happy and sad at the same time. All the flamboyance is gone. The mask wears off. The present is forgotten. The circumstance does not matter anymore. I am true to myself. I am in touch with myself.

A gravity acts upon me almost instantaneously. The effervescence suddenly disappears and there is a sense of settlement. A feeling of detachment engulfs me.
For a moment, all fetters are severed. The restless mind is relieved of all that it dwells upon……….. At once I let go of everything that I cling to, of all those things that cling to me.

The fall of notes to a low pitch the most entrancing of all………..
As the notes fall to a low pitch, my blood pressure drops, my pulse slows down, my heart beats slower. Literally………..
It is as ithough
The flooding sea has receded at once as if responding to a summons.
The storm has calmed at once as if paying attention to the falling notes.
The fluttering leaf has finally touched the earth below. The frivolousness of it submitting itself to the gravity ……the same gravity that is acting upon my soul…..

It is the raga which has been chosen for the recitation of Vedic hymns. The “Om”, which is the beginning of every hymn, every prayer is recited in Revathi. Now I know why. There sure is something really divine about this raga…

You will know when you listen…..

Unfortunately it is not often sung because it is considered the raga of poverty. But at least once in a day, I listen to a composition in Revathi.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I, Solitude and The Jog


Everyone loves water. But why do I feel nobody loves water as intensely, as immensely as I do? Why do I feel I have a monopoly over this love?

It has been raining adequately this season. It has been like this for the last few years. Thank you almighty for your mercy.

The Sharavati has overflowed after 12 years. The jog falls are no longer four different falls. They have united to become one water fall. Vast, enormous, colossal and gigantic. The pictures being shown everywhere are breathtaking. I cannot resist my urge to abandon this mundane life and seek refuge in the shadows of nature.

On the 11th of August, I packed my bag and traveled to Jog. The journey was 10 hours long, but I was too excited to feel tired. The journey after Shimoga was a pleasure. Truly, Malnad is beautiful. The road is flanked on both sides by lush green fields. You also find mountains at a distance with tall windmills on them. There are coconut farms, villages, open spaces and water streams. The air is so pure. How true it is that the destination is not very important, but the journey is!

I reached Jog at 5 PM. I could not wait to see the falls.
When I was face to face with the falls, there was a stretch of thick mist that made it impossible to see anything clearly. There were a thousand people waiting to get a glimpse of the falls. There was a slight breeze that carried the mist away with it and the waterfall revealed itself in heavenly splendour. Everyone cheered and clapped in joy………….
And then the mist covered it again and the wait began. Beauty was playing hide and seek.

It was getting dark already. I settled for the night in the youth hostel close by. The next day was going to be one of the most memorable days of my life. You will know what I mean when you see the pictures………..or may be if you visit the place yourself.

It was a Sunday. There were so many people! I stood before the falls for sometime trying to behold the view that was so elusive. The mist refused to melt in spite of the sun. But there seemed to be no conflict. All elements of nature were in perfect harmony. I found myself asking “How?!!”

It was time to begin sight seeing.

The Sharavati valley close by was glorious. The river, that was plunging aggressively from a thousand feet, just a few miles ago, now flowed calmly between the two hills. That’s what you call dangerous innocence.
I saw the power plant that brings light to my home! It was situated at the base of one of the hills.


After this, I was taken to a spot that is one of the most mind blowing places I have ever seen in my life. This was the place, the height from where the river falls fearlessly to an abyss thousand feet below.
This place is replete with rocks that look directly down at the depths below. They form the edges of a vast precipice. They entice you. You know no fear, you move to the edges to see below. The view is so awesome that you cannot resist. You move further to the edge. But you move an inch in the wrong direction, and there is no salvage.

From this place, you get to see a confluence of the three falls: The Raja, the Roarer and the Rocket. On its way down, the water collides with rocks that surface the valley. Each drop upon touching the rock is transformed as if by magic into a cloud of mist. If you are lucky you may see a rainbow, not across the sky but in the valley below. I have captured one.

I was positioned precariously, looking below at the same picture again and again, not being able to get enough of it.
At this moment, my own world seemed so insignificant. My life, my career, my desires, my dreams, my future. Fie upon my narcissism! How can I love myself so immensely when there is so much nature, so much beauty in this world to be savoured? What a waste of time! What a waste of life it is to be consumed in mundane worries!

I would love to jump if only I could fall for ever. For it is not the fall that hurts but the sudden stop.

After spending close to 3 hours, I retuned. By this time, I had found a group of friends.

I had explored the heights. It was now time to descend to the depths. The steps that lead you down are slippery, sometimes steep. As we went down it began raining. This was not rain. This was the effect of the fall of the river. All the water that was transformed by the rocks to splinters and scattered across the space was now descending again. Gravity never seems to fail us.

It started raining in sheets. We were soaked. The winds blew with so much force that the raindrops felt like a hundred needles poking us. But we were determined to reach the bottom. In fact we were enjoying the adventure. The rain was blinding by this time. We could not see the steps below nor each other. We were groping our way down. We reached the river at last, waded through the waters, and settled on a rock.

No other single day in my life has been as fulfilling as satisfying as this day.
It was worth enduring all the struggle that has gone into twenty years of this existence just to spend one day in Jog.

No matter where I go, what I do, I will return to this place…………

May it rain some more……
May it rain like this every year……..

Check out the link
The Jog to see more pictures in their original size..........

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


For more than two decades
This soil has not seen a drop of water
Every time a cloud passes above
I go down on my knees
Arms wide open
There is a silent prayer on my lips
And gratefulness in my heart
For the respite given to my burning soul
By the benevolent sky at last
Eager to absorb every drop of water
Ready to devour every drop of the showers
I close my eyes and wait…..

But each time
The clouds just pass by

My eyes follow the clouds as far as the horizon
Hoping beyond hopes
That the winds will change direction
But the clouds drift away to another land

If they do not intend to rain
Why do the clouds manifest themselves above me?
Raise hopes in my mind
Only to disappoint me?
Why this tantalization?
Have the elements of nature
No morals or ethics to follow?
The Sun, the rain,
The winds and the clouds
Are they not answerable to anyone?

Oh destiny! Stop this cruelty at once
For there is no greater cause of distress,
No greater cause of sorrow in life
Than the cause of unrequited love


A small stream began
Her journey as a narrow brook,
Trickling down a rocky hill
Amidst herbs, shrubs,
Creepers and climbers

From her origin in the mountains
All the way to the plains
She is fed by melting snow,
Ice from glaciers, tributaries
And rains from the heaven
Like a maiden full of youth
Fed by dreams and fantasies,
Desires and aspirations
Welling and swelling
With every passing year

Relentlessly marching
Through rocks and thorns
Dancing her way through
Kingdoms and empires
She flows perennially, persistently
Perpetually and persuasively
To attain fulfillment
To achieve completeness
That comes with the possibility
Of a confluence with the ocean

But the ocean is oblivious to her search
He beckons her to unite with him
And eludes her at the same time

She has waited long enough
It has been a tiring journey
A journey through a rough terrain
A journey of solitude
The maiden needs to unite with her man
She has traveled a thousand miles
Can’t you take a step towards her?

Appear before her, where ever you are
Engulf her with everlasting love
Appear before her, where ever you are
Embrace her and help her attain Salvation

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dangerous Heights

I was 17 when I composed this poem. I had hit the rock bottom of my life(my life so far). I feel surprised at my pessimism, my cynicism. After this one, I have not composed a poem so far.

Read on.......................

All my castles built in air
Came crashing down to earth
I lost those battles fought with dare
Fought to prove my worth

Standing alone on a tall tower
I had really felt so proud
Above the mansions, above the mountains
And above all the world

From there I told the world below
To wait and watch in wonder
How I solved impossible mysteries
How I made records in history
I had promised myself the moon above
About my strength I had talked aloud

But crumbling down came all the bricks
Of the tower on which I stood
Along with it came all my dreams
Drenched in tears of blood
Wounded lay I amidst the ruins
Helpless as I could

I’d soared high to reach the stars
But barely touched the clouds

The wreckage tells of the past glory
Which is now lost beyond recovery

The honoured queen of a vast empire
Merged with common and ordinary folk
Her splendorous majesty, grace and beauty
Made and the people laugh and joke

Silently disappearing into indefiniteness
She left behind only footsteps
Tongues of flames shooting upwards
Engulfed her who was sinking downwards

The higher you dream
The greater the depth below
The faster you run
The sooner you’ll get slow

She is always looking up high at the sky
The stars of her fortune may someday shine
Inspiration from an unknown source
May come to her in showers of rain

She’ll rebuild her tower great and tall
Never to crumble never to fall
She waits and longs for her turn
While the world awaits hr return

A struggle to conquer destiny

I was 17 when i composed this.........
Today when I read this, I can't believe I was so cynical once upon a time.....................

Read on.......................

Happiness is only an illusion, a mirage
Which one can in dreams alone envisage

Life is so unsteady and uncertain
Man proposes God disposes often
Death is the ultimate truth of life,
Sorrow the ultimate truth of joy,
Separation the truth of every encounter,
Disappointment the truth of every hope

And still are liable to carry on
Not daring to look back at times bygone

You are committed to carry your burden alone
For all the others have wagon loads of their own

For cries unheeded, quests unanswered
Trust the creator, the unseen, the unknown

Imposed human limitations and fetters
Are in number very few
Determination and courage besides
Will give you perspective new

But you’ll never break free from these
Limitations natures imposes on you
Past cant be obliterated, time cant run backwards
And what the future holds is concealed behind curtains
You’ll never overlook these bonds that disable you
Nature’s law of bridling you

Even the most victorious shall taste defeat
The most advancing shall once retreat

Remember it will not pay to protest
Nor will it be of any use to resist
For the episodes of life are all predestined
Sorrow is inevitable for it’s preordained

We are puppets pulled by unseen strings
We are caged birds with clipped wings

I believe

This was my project 2 speech in Toastmasters. TM does not allow topics related to sex, politics and relegion. Although this topic has nothing to do with relegion in my opinion, I was apprehensive that the evaluators would percieve it that way. I therefore did not do this project in my club but chose The Smedley Speakers Society whose members are my good friends :-)

Read on..........................

It all happened. The journey to the heights of Kedarnath on a rough terrain. A holy dip in the Ganges that was near frozen. A tour of all the temples in the country that were specimen of architecture. But……….. my proximity to the zenith of sacrosanctity did not do to me, what it did to the others. It did not evoke in me any feeling of devotion.

The doubt still remains as to the existence of an almighty. I do not know if it was my inability to connect to the divine or a lack of knowledge that led to skepticism. To call this doubt blasphemy would not be right. To call it a product of a rational thinking mind would certainly not be wrong.

When I tried to apply my analytical skills to understand the existence or non existence of a supreme power, I did not arrive at any meaningful conclusions but my endeavor gave me an insight into human psychology which I wish to share with you.

This understanding is a mental dichotomy, that is two arguments coexisting in the same mind. Let me start by presenting before you the argument of skepticism.

When do people go to GOD? In adverse conditions, unfavorable circumstances. People become more religious as they grow old. Old age is when helplessness and desperation creep in. Emotional insecurity gets the better of your self confidence. Uncertainty and unsteadiness of life become a preoccupation of the mind. Fear of death starts haunting. In short, these are times when people need a source of comfort.

When you drill down deep into the issue, when you sit down and try to think about when people go to God, how frequently they do it and what their circumstances are, you will discover that God is more of a psychological need, more of an emotional necessity than anything else. Necessity is the mother of invention and since the thought of a supreme being is definitely very comforting, it would not be wrong to say that God is an invention of man.

The thought of a GOD primarily came into existence because of so many questions that we do not have the answers for. The thought of a universe that began in eternity and would end in eternity was something that the human mind found difficult to comprehend. People are not comfortable with questions for which they have no answers. A hypothetical GOD is better than no answer and a lot of confusion.

Another reason for skepticism is too many contradictions in the world of theosophy. SIN for example. Were it not for the existence of sin in this world, all human beings would have believed in God, the same way they believed other people.

Listen to these questions carefully.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able to? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able to prevent evil, but not willing to? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then where does evil come from?
Is he neither able nor willing to prevent? Then why call him God?"

The greatest paradox of all times is that all the bloodshed and crime in this world happen for the cause of GOD. If people did not believe absolutely in some particular GOD, there would be unity in this world and no discrimination at all.

Saying prayers is another contradiction. You believe that there is a destiny, that all episodes of life are predestined, preordained. But when you pray, for good, for betterment, for whatever cause, you actually expect the laws of the universe to be cancelled or re-written for the sake of a single devotee who is nothing but a spec in this universe”.

Now let me present to you the other argument, the argument of belief.

It may be that GOD is the product of a psychological need, but just look at the actual consequences it has on peoples’ lives.

Parents often do a good job of upbringing, when they implant this fear of GOD in the minds of their children. When the child lies, the mother tells him, GOD will punish you. This trick often works and as we grow up to become adults we carry this belief along with us. Most of us abstain from wrong doings and even when we do stray from the correct path we feel guilty because of a fear of GOD that was instilled in us during childhood.

What I am arriving at is, if this fear of a hypothetical God can stop people from doing the wrong things, compel people to choose the correct path in life then… I have no objection to the existence of such a hypothesis.

There is one thing that keeps the world going. It is not money, it is not power, nor science, nor economy, it is not even gravity but it is a strong belief that works like magic.

Faith and Hope. There are people in this world who do not have enough to eat, who starve to death. People who don’t have clothes to wear. People who lose their near and dear ones in accidents and calamities. People who suffer from ailments from which they never recover. The deaf, the dumb, the blind, the lame. Some of them see improvements in their conditions, some of them don’t. But all of them have one thing in common. Tenacity to life. The will to carry on. The hope that they may see a better tomorrow. A faith that whatever happens, happens for good.

This faith for most of the people is not just faith in life, but faith in a supreme power, faith in a GOD who is believed to be the silent listener to every conversation, an uninvited guest to every meal, an arbitrator in every dispute who will see that no evil goes unpunished.

Why I am telling you this is, if this belief makes people go on in life despite their troubles, then I would not want to validate the truth of this belief. I would not verify the correctness of it, because the belief in itself is not of much concern. But the consequence it has on people’s actions, their approach towards their problems is what really matters.

Now that I have presented both the arguments, you must be wondering what is it that I believe in. Am I a theist or an atheist? Have you heard of this third category called agnosticism?

Agnosticism is a school of thought in which it is believed that the question of whether a higher power exists or not is unsolved and insoluble. That is an agnostic is someone who simply does not know for sure whether God exists or not. And I, am an agnostic.

There may be a God, there may not be a God. I don’t know. All I know is, if there is a God, he does not have great expectations from me. He only expects me to be a good human being, be devoid of vices like jealousy, cruelty, pettiness…….. He would not expect me to visit temples everyday, say my prayers regularly, perform rituals and rites, but he would expect me to be compassionate, generous, helpful and kind. And that is what I am trying to be.

My skepticism comes from a conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith.
My skepticism comes from a commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human problems.

To choose to question the existence of a GOD is also a matter of personal convenience. People do such unbelievable and difficult things in order to seek the blessings of the supreme power. They go on fasting, starve for days and weeks. They travel to distant places of pilgrimage, walk bare feet on burning coal. Punish their bodies to free themselves from sin. Abstain from marriage, self indulgence and other pleasures of life, spending most of their lives controlling and enslaving what should be really free. Human emotions. I do not have to do any of these things.
Thank God, I am an atheist!!!

This Desert Had an Oasis

This was my project 4 in Toastmasters. The project 4 speech requires you to use figures of speech like similie, metaphor, alliterations. The speech is expected to create vivid images in the minds of listeners. I wrote this speech for a contest conducted by the Garden City club. I had not yet completed my project 3 in TM but won the first place for this prj 4 speech.

Read on.......................

Being in the software profession requires you to be flexible in terms of traveling to places that are not necessarily picturesque like Switzerland, beautiful like Australia, lucrative like Dubai, historical like London or hospitable like Bangalore.

5th feb 2004
I was asked to go to Chennai. All the horror stories I had heard about the city came to me in vivid images. Shortage of water. The three weather conditions namely hot, hotter and hottest. Scorching heat throughout the day. And no survival without a knowledge of tamil.

14th feb 2004
I was driven down the East Coast Road by the cab, from where I had a continuous view of the sea since the road runs parallel to the sea. I was taken to the guesthouse. It was a beautiful independent bungalow, spacious, well furnished, air conditioned and boasted of lovely breeze all throughout the day since it was very close to the sea. The tiled roofing only served to enhance its appearance. From the terrace I could get a direct view of the sea, a vast blue eternity, a feast to the eyes. The garden was well maintained and had plenty of flower bearing plants. The lawn in front of the house fringed by yellow daffodils was the best part of the place. On the whole it was anybody’s dream house, which evoked poetic thoughts even in those who did not have a poetic soul.

Since the guest house was a mere 200 meters away from the sea, the inevitable happened. I ran to the shores at the first opportunity. It was dusk. The time of sunset and moonrise. I stood before the waters with my eyes closed for a few minutes.

I then opened my eyes and Paulo Coelho’s words came to my mind. When you want something desperately in life, the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it. And at that moment I felt the whole universe had indeed conspired to help me achieve my want; my want of pure bliss.

All the eternities of the universe had come to a meeting at that point so I could behold the spectacle and be mesmerized and enchanted. Ahead of me, the endless sky was in union with the vast ocean at the horizon which in itself was an eternity. Above my head were countless stars, below my feet, innumerable sand grains.

Men may come and men may go but I go on forever…………
The mystery of the never ending tides, the music in the cool breeze, the mischief in the wind that played with my hair and the magic of the moon light, held me in rapture. “Living in abandon” was a phrase I had come across so often. But I understood the meaning of it only at that precise moment.

If someday I fall in love with someone intensely, and he were to ask me “how much do you love me?”, then I wouldn’t know how to answer that question. I am confused. Should say love you taller than the skies, or should I say deeper than the floor of the ocean? Should I say brighter than sunshine or should I say love you more than the number of stars in the sky? Which one is greater in magnitude, no one knows and no one will ever know.

That’s probably why my grandfather used to say whenever your accomplishments in life make you feel proud, when you start believing that you are a very important person, when your ego and self esteem get the better of your modesty, humility, you must come to the sea and simply stand there before it. The vastness of the ocean will at once bring to you a realization that you are very insignificant, a spec in this universe and even without you everything in this world would go on perfectly well.

After a year, the same ocean awakened from the depths of its sleep. All the anguish it had been containing in its womb for god knows how long, assumed a ferocious form of sky high waves, invaded the shores of the city, and engulfed its people, leaving them no room for escape. Before people could act or even realize what was happening, the waves had receded carrying back with them, thousands of innocent lives, and years of their effort that had gone into the making of their small worlds. A part of earth submerged in the waters irrevocably forever, because the sea had receded but not completely, thereby, redefining a nation’s boundary at it’s free will and as it pleased. It will take people humungous effort and a very long time to rebuild their worlds, the scars will probably remain for ever but the ocean lies there, calm, serene, tranquil, pretending that nothing happened at all. Now I understand why the expression “dangerous innocence” is used to describe the ocean.

With a lot of effort I had to pull myself away from that confluence of infinities because the more finite and less immortal creations of mankind were calling me.

Thousand year old stones carved into horses, elephants, chariots, warriors, shilabalikas, majestic pillars and splendid Gopuras. I was in a land of temples, a land of culture, a land of music. Not to visit some of these temples would only have been a waste of my stay there. To build a temple more majestic and with more grandeur than the previous king built, was the only ambition every king nurtured and nourished in his lifetime and he dedicated his entire life for this noble cause because those were the days when religion was the opium of people.

Many of these temples were built by kings of the chola dynasty. These structures appeared so gigantic from a distance but when examined closely, they revealed such fine, intricate designs, yet so symmetric, so perfect. It is rightly said that the Chola artists conceived like giants and finished like jewelers.

Hundreds of figures that bejeweled the walls surrounding the sanctum delighted visitors as a storehouse of murals and sculpture. Both the interior and the exterior walls were replete with images depicting incidents from the lives of people from that era.

Many of the huge sculptures were monolithic, meaning, carved out of a single rock. I was left wondering as to how such huge rocks and boulders weighing tones and tones were elevated to such great heights at a time when there was no technology that people could depend on for help.

These were structures that stood tall and proud, defying gravity. They had withstood the onslaught of time and elemental forces of nature. I don’t know if such endurance can be attributed to the sculptors who erected them or the god in their sanctum who was protecting them.

These temples had become an inseparable part of peoples’ lives. This I realized only when I entered my office. One day while in my seat, I smelt some strange smell, the kind of smell that does not normally linger in air conditioned offices. I looked all around me in an attempt to identify the source of the smell. I then realized that the smell was emanating from the hair of a lady sitting right next to me who was wearing a small garden of assorted flowers in her hair. This fragrance of some unique flowers mixed with the aroma of coconut oil that nourished not only her hair but also the back of her neck and a part of her forehead was quite an experience to me who was not used to it. Added to this was the conspicuous vibhuti on foreheads, the jingling of glass bangles and the tinkling of Payals. But for these sounds, people there walked quite noiselessly. I didn't even hear the occasional tip toeing sound of the high heels. The reason being the fact that, people came to office, left their footwear under their seats and walked around bare feet. Very comfortable indeed!!! Although I was baffled and amused in the beginning, I had to convince myself by saying, this was a world away from glamour, glitter, grooming and style. People here preferred to be closer to the soil than to the stars.

Finally after five months of staying in Chennai, the day of departure arrived and it was time for retrospection. All the horror stories I had heard about the place were absolutely true. In spite of all that, I had enjoyed my stay there. There are two things in life you can do when you are in a situation you don’t like to be in. You can go on cribbing and complaining about things you cannot change or you can simply change your perspective and make the best of what is available.

Businessmen should mind their own business and not the business of the country

In December 2005, the Garden City toastmasters club conducted a debate competition. The opinion of the house was "Businessmen should mind their own business and not the business of the country". This was in response to the entry of Ambanis and other business men into politics.

I had to argue for the topic because Kanikraj has chosen to argue against it. The 2 of us represented our club and won the first place. Read on.................

The other day I was reading the entertainment section in the Times of India. There was a piece of writing about Oxymorons. An oxymoron in English is a word or a phrase which is a combination of two words which contradict one another. Some examples are Rap Music because rap is not musical at all. Junk Food, because if it is food it cannot be called junk, if it is junk, it cannot be called food. American culture because America does not have a distinct culture of it’s own. Government organization is an oxymoron because the government is so disorganized. The list goes on…. Deafening silence, mournful optimist, dangerous innocence, which is often used to describe an ocean. One particular oxymoron which I clearly remember was business ethics, which means Business people supposedly do not have ethics. For all the business men seated here who are giving me angry looks, let me tell you the article was meant to be a humorous one. Nevertheless, I seriously believe that business people should keep out of politics.

The government can be thought of as a non profit organization. It is therefore necessary that we have as a ruler of the nation, a person who can think beyond profit and loss. Ours being a mixed economy which is a combination of socialistic and capitalistic economy, it is extremely important that we prevent accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few, and ensure uniform distribution of wealth.

If a business person enters politics, it is most likely that he will use his power to manipulate law so as to benefit his business. For example the famous Dhirubai Ambani used his political connections to manipulate the income tax policy in such a way that minimum tax was levied on goods which his business produced. He did all this just by being a businessman. If he had been a politician too with all the power in his hands, you can imagine the extent to which he would manipulate law and the system in general.
In December 2005, the Garden City toastmasters club conducted a debate. The opinion of the house was "Businessmen should mind their own business and not the business of the country". This was mainly in response to the entry of Ambanis and other business people into politics.

I had to argue for the topic merely because someone had already chosen to argue aginst it. The two of us represented our club and won the first place. Read on....................................

The government gets it’s money from the taxes that you and I pay. At this point how can we be ignorant of the fact that most of the tax evasions that happen are because of businessmen? Can one such businessman who is reluctant to pay his taxes, set a good example for the rest of the citizens? No.

For all my opponents who claim that a business man is a superior candidate for politics because of a business degree from Harvard University, let me tell you about a princess who went on to become a queen. When her minister told her that people in her kingdom did not have bread to eat, she asked very innocently, if they don’t have bread, why don’t they eat cakes? Most of the businessmen I see in politics today are people who were born with silver spoons in their mouths. We need someone who will be able to relate to the common problems of people like sanitation, drinking water, education, electricity and other basic amenities. Not someone who would be required to step into their shoes, but someone who has already been in their shoes.


My passion for public speaking brought me to this forum called "The Toastmasters Club", dedicated to making effective communication a world wide reality. The first project (speech) is called the "Icebreaker". I delivered this speech 3 years ago.

Read on..................................

She stands tall. She is fair. She is beautiful especially on a moonlit night. She casts a spell on everyone who gets a glimpse of her. If you are all thinking that I am talking about myself then you are absolutely……………….wrong.

I am not talking about myself but I am talking about something that is very close to my heart, my person, my existence. I am talking about the Taj Mahal, in the city of Agra , where I was born and spent the first 2 years of my life.

I can’t explain, just like you cannot explain so many things in life, but there is a strange connection between me and the monument. I visited the place twice later when I grew up.
Each time I was left mesmerized, hypnotized by that colossal beauty, and returned with a heavy heart, with a craving to go back to a world of another time.

Incidentally, this place where we meet every Wednesday evening, is also called the Taj.

That brings us to the reason as to why we were in Agra .
My father was a manager in Canara bank. It was a transferable job. Every two or three years we would be transferred. When we were just becoming close to one soil, getting adjusted to one culture, learning one new language, we had to leave to another land far and strange.
While the others would have complained about the pain of having to shift every now and then, we thoroughly enjoyed it. The best part of the whole thing was, we got to taste different variety of food. I love food. I have taken to my father when it comes to this.

My dad also loved traveling. It is only because of him that I can boast about having visited almost every state in the country. I can never forget the heights of Kedarnath, the confluence of the Ganges with the other rivers. I can never forget the way I felt when I saw Pakistan border at Wagah.

Coming to my family, we are a family of four. My dad. My mom who is a housewife. My brother who is still studying. We hail from a small village called Hulikal. We never stayed there but my dad was born and brought up there. Although he has traveled a lot, although he has been all over the country, seen a whole lot of palaces and resorts, he still loves his old village.

He says, no matter where we go or what we become, we must never forget our roots. We must always have our roots firm in the soil. A man’s worth is estimated not by how tall he is or what heights he has reached but by how deep his roots are and how proud he is of his belonging. This is a part of a strong value system he has attempted to impart to us.

Regarding my education, I completed my BSc, and then my MCA. Through campus recruitment, I got into Cognizant Technology Solutions, and I work there as a programmer.

My hobbies. I love painting. I love poetry. I love music. I love traveling. I love reading. Procrastination loves me.

Some of my poems which were composed at moments when I felt extremely intense are “Love understands and therefore waits”, “ Dangerous Heights ” and “A Struggle to conquer Destiny”.

I have always believed in broad acquaintanceship and selective friendship. Because of a nomadic life that we lead, the concept of a childhood friend remained unfamiliar because the set of friends changed very often. I have had a very few friends but very loyal and very close friends.

When I was a student, I thought money was very important. Like most of the girls, I wanted to buy the best of clothes, accessories, cosmetics. The possessions of these I thought could make you very happy. Once I got a job, I did a lot of shopping. I bought a lot of things with enthusiasm and excitement. But very soon a realization followed that material happiness/possessions cannot satiate a person beyond a certain extent. True happiness in life comes only through people and relationships.

Since all my close friends were geographically distributed, I did not have anyone to talk to everyday. I felt tongue tied. There was a void in life and a search began. A search for people. People to whom I could talk to and share ideas with. Someone like me who was looking for fine people and sensible talking, could not have found a better place than the toastmasters club. The search came to an end.

Regarding my aspirations, I aspire to become a well read person someday. I aspire to study Sanskrit. I aspire to learn Music. I aspire to kill procrastination which has been a faithful companion in all my endeavours.
I am not particularly ambitious, but no matter what I do, where I go, I want to make a difference. To spend all my life in dark shadows, without being noticed is one thing I certainly do not aspire for.
To be honest, my aspirations revolve more around my personal life and less around my professional life. It becomes very difficult when you have a lot of love inside to bestow upon and there is no recipient at the other end. I am a person who treasures the best of my resources /possessions for people who deserve them the most. Be it my time, money, gifts or my love. I do not squander them here and there but withhold them and patiently await the arrival of the right recipients.

If I can find this right person who will add music to my poetry and turn it into a song, who will someday share with me those moments of magic when we behold together, the Taj Mahal, then I will consider it, a life well lived. And then I will be able to say that I have stood tall, I have been fair, I have been able to cast a spell, not on everyone, but on that someone special.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Emerging from the Dark Tunnel....

Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds you down or polishes you up depends on what you are made up of.

I have known this girl called Sanjeevini for more than 3 years now. She was my colleague in my previous company in Bangalore. A kind of natural chemistry in between brought us close. Being in the same project or on the same floor was merely coincidental.

She came across as sweet, docile, friendly and nice. She was most of all that. As days passed, we got closer and she began to share with me all, that she had buried deep inside her chest. I have always thought that a common pain, a common sorrow or a common cause of distress binds people stronger than common happiness, or common hobbies and interests.

There was so much bottled up inside her.
An ache, a yearning, a longing to be loved has been a faithful companion to her since her childhood to this day.
She had an elder brother who was her parents’ favourite. He was dominative, rude and very uncaring.
A brother who would beat her up when they played with other children in their neighbourhood. A brother who threatened to kill her if she spoke to this guy she had befriended in college.
He fought against her decision to take up engineering because he declared she was not intelligent enough for it. He refused to help her with the GRE entrance exam (which both had planned to take up), since she was his competitor and she might do better than him.

Now that both of them have come of age, both are getting marriage proposals. The family prefers a girl from a middle class family. Recently when she received a proposal from a rich guy, her brother fought against it. Since he was going to marry a girl from the middle class, she should not marry a rich guy!!!

This was not all. There have been many incidents of unrequited love in her life. Whenever she loved, she did so very quietly. Her tranquil surface did not betray the turbulence within. These men blissfully unaware of her feelings would one day leave towards their destinations, without even saying goodbye; and she would live with a bleeding heart for months and years after that.
If she did not express her feelings how in the world would a man know how she felt?

She was not happy with her job either. Neither were the appraisals good, nor the salary hikes, nor any opportunities to go abroad. The nature of work was also hopeless. Her colleagues were political and the boss was partial.

I don’t blame her fate entirely. Even God helps those who help themselves.
She wants to be loved but will not express her love. One moment, she wants to break free from that family which has always given her nothing except pain. But the next moment, she says she cannot leave everything and come to me like that. After all it was her family. One moment she wants to quit her job and the next moment, she can’t, because she does not have anything good on her resume to market herself. She is convinced that she will never find true love and will never get married. This way, she has constructed a wall around herself and at the same time struggling to break free from it. She is weak, needs help but she is too egoistic to admit that she needs it.

How many times has she used my shoulder to cry on and how much I have tried to show her the silver lining behind the dark clouds!

When I tried to introduce her to a friend of mine who I believed would motivate her, help her or at least give her company, she called me up asking me to mind my business. She said, “I don’t need anyone. I am happy the way I am. I don’t need the support of strange people”.

She would yell at me on phone and the next day she would call me up to say,”I have no one in this world except you”.

I have had to be most patient with her, not letting my ego come in between us, empathizing with her all the time and supporting her in whatever little ways I can.

My recent visit to her place in Hyderabad completely changed my way of looking at her predicament.

I got to meet her parents. After a round of sight seeing, we went to a sari shop since she wanted to buy me a Kanchipuram sari. After a little bit of dilly dallying, I picked a sari for myself. Although it was not planned earlier, her mother ended up picking one for herself.

All of us came out of the shop and there, for the first time in my life, I saw a woman in the ugliest of forms possible. It was my friend Sanju. She started yelling at her mother for picking a sari without her consent. She was screaming because her mother had the audacity to spend her daughter’s money without her consent. All the people around us on the street had stopped and tuned to look at us. She shouted at the taxi driver. Once inside the taxi, she did not stop. She abused her mother continuously till we reached home and that too in a language the driver could understand. She was in tears throughout this ugly episode.

The next day, we went for another round of sight seeing. And once again I saw her in that ugly form. It was after the Char Minar and after the Birla temple. I tried to cross the road hastily and she exploded. In a pitch that could be heard a hundred meters away, she shouted and yelled as if possessed by some evil spirit. All the feminine grace, dignity, elegance, poise and etiquette that adorn a woman abandoned her at that moment. After five minutes of abusing me, she declared she did not want to go anywhere with me. I could go to hell or wherever I wished all alone. She stopped a taxi, got into it and sped away. How could she do this without even worrying about my safety? What if I had lost directions in a strange unsafe city?

An angry mind cannot think clearly. Therefore for a few days after that episode, I refrained from thinking about her. But now as I write this, I pity her.

Time does not necessarily heal. Sometimes when life inflicts upon you one wound after another, these wounds accumulate beneath the surface and conspire to spread an infection throughout the body, mind and soul.
A slight bruise on that surface and you erupt like a volcano. All the lava bottled up inside comes oozing out, burning you and everything around you.

Even after the humongous effort I had made all these years to support her, to console her, she had lost it. She had lost the battle of life. She had succumbed to her injuries. She had allowed her problems in life to make her a bitter, quarrelsome, vehement, abusive person ready to pour out venom at the drop of a hat. The harsh realities of her life had got the better of her. The sweetness she had when I had met her for the first time had been lost somewhere. The fragrance had been carried away by the winds.
Now, the flower has withered. All that remains is a bunch of thorns.

All of us grow up believing that good begets good and evil begets evil. When that belief is shattered, we stand disillusioned. We feel betrayed. We feel that life has not kept her promise.
When her goodness did not bear fruits and life was so cruel instead, for no apparent sin of hers, she became a rebel without a cause, seeking revenge from life, seeking revenge from people around her.

I am forced to look back at my own life in retrospection. My life was not very smooth either. As far as I can travel backwards in the memory lane, my life has been no less than a struggle. A conservative family, a suspicious father, a mother who had no say in any matters, created an atmosphere that often caused suffocation. My aunt and her family made unrelenting efforts to cause rifts in relationships. There always was a silence that was uncomfortable.

I could not procure a seat in engineering. I started doubting my abilities. I had to settle down for a BSc. I was consumed in self pity. My parents as if to seek vengeance had curbed all my freedom. No watching television, no visiting friends, no participating in extra curricular activities. Due to such unnatural pressures, I became adamant and over assertive. Oppression only made me defensive. I became a rebel and wore an armour to protect myself from all the cruel people out to get me. The manifestation of all these made me a dominative person. I was able to impress people and make friends but could not sustain them. Friends started drifting away for no fault of mine (seemingly). I was lonely.

I turned into a cynic, which could be clearly seen in my poems and writings. I loved tragic endings in movies. Mukesh was my favourite singer for years. I had almost turned into a masochist, enjoying my own pain.

But I did not stop looking up at the sky. I believed that someday it would start raining. For ten years, I was on my knees, with my arms stretched. I kept the dream alive. I kept the hope alive.
Before I finished college, I got a job.
One day, I broke free from all the fetters and set out to discover LIFE.

It was not roses and roses overnight. But the thorns started disappearing. Slowly but certainly, autumn passed and spring arrived. The conflicting forces within began to retreat. Life has been reasonably good. I am at peace with life and at peace with myself.
There still is a yearning. The thirst for love is yet to be quenched. But everyone cannot have everything in life. I am happy for whatever I have today. I am content enough to declare that LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. Thanks to life and thanks to people around me.

Today when I recollect those moments when I lost my composure, yelled and screamed angrily at people and their unfair ways, I feel that the struggle that you see outside is a struggle within yourself.
What you perceive the world to be is a reflection of what you are.

Both I and Sanju have a similar past. Both of us traversed the same path for a long time and then stopped for a while where the path forked into two. She chose one path and I chose the other, not knowing that the two paths lead to two different worlds.
I shudder at the thought of what would have happened if I had chosen the path that my friend has chosen.

We both came into this world and soon entered a dark tunnel. After years of groping for direction and hoping to see light, we emerged from the dark tunnel. But when we came out we were two completely contrasting personalities. Did the tunnel treat us differently or did we treat the tunnel differently?

Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds you down or polishes you up depends on what you are made up of.