Tag Archives: beginning

Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There

Play

Being

You now, do.

Windows open,

Closed doors say, “Come, do.”

But just sit there, and breathe.

In, and out. Out, then in. Life.

Talk to the breeze hugging your skin.

Listen to Time travelling for you.

Rejoice! Relax. Be very you. Now. Here.

jh

___________________________________________________________

I could claim credit for the title, but I can’t, even though I might have thought of it. Alas, Osho thought of it before me.
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Of birds, pinks, and full circles

My parents came over to visit us for a week and a little more. During my occasional walks with them, I remembered I’d been wanting to take pictures of the numerous birds that inhabit our neighbourhood and show them to you. The desire is like that of a child saying, “Look, I can see that! Can you?”

A few days back, I did take the camera, but was able to manage only a few pictures that are postable here. Perhaps I’ll ‘win’ some more in the subsequent days and post them, too.

A family living close to us has placed these earthen vessels on their wall for the birds to feed and drink water from. Mornings and evenings, a huge flock of parrots comes and satiates itself. This picture is only of one of their kind, but you get the picture!

Right next to this parrot haunt, there’s a silver oak tree (it looks horrifically chopped because people chop off the tops in winter — it helps the tree, and provides firewood for homes). This big guy was looking down right at us, we thought. My mother told me to take a picture of him, too. I had my doubts that it’d come. Backlit setting and all. But she insisted, I took the picture and lo, we can even see his eyes!

Ready to move on, I saw this dried vine with its gourd-fruits. We use the dried up innards as loofah. Do you? I thought it’d be interesting to show you. My current loofah is about to say adieu, but then I have a spare one, otherwise I’d have been aching to climb up the electricity pole and get a couple of them. Climbing is such fun, I’d have done it without any fruit at the top. But then, sensible people would stop me. For all of these reasons, I took a picture instead.

Talk of sensible. This one had his back to us and didn’t show any intention of turning around, but then my father said something and he turned!

And gave us and eyeful, too! Sensible indeed.

This bird has been intriguing me for two years now. My internet search tells me it’s a magpie robin, but his call doesn’t match the recorded calls I downloaded. Whatever the bird, this one is elusive.

I had to walk around the tree to get more than his butt for you.

Here’s another, sitting on one of their favourite perches. I wonder why, when there are so many beautiful ones to choose from.

Isn’t it amazing how the most incongruous of things can flourish together? This never ceases to amaze me. Of course they don’t always succeed in coexisting, but whenever they do, it is nothing short of a miracle of effort, I feel.

I itch to know names of things. Animals, birds, people, flowers, plants, even microbes. I look at these blossoms and remember I don’t know what they will turn into. Pears? Plums? Peaches? Apricots? And then I remind myself that it doesn’t really matter.


As long as I can continue to look at their glory, and enjoy it, it probably doesn’t matter.

Especially when I go closer to the tree to take a close-up, and the family’s dog fails to feel welcoming.

As we walked on, my parents kept showing me this and that. Things I know I’d have overlooked. Birds I’d have ignored. Like these pinks without double petals.

Or these beautiful finches. They’re finches, I think. But then, what’s in a name? My father kept whispering “look at these pink ones here! Look! No here, on the hibiscus bush.” They were so far away and so difficult to see, I’d have missed them. 

Or missed this raven, whom my mother pointed out and said, “Why ignore him?” Why indeed?


Some associations remain for life. Like this woodpecker. We’ve learnt to call him Woody Woodpecker because of the story my father used to tell us when we were children. Whenever we see this bird, it’s always, “Woody!”

We were nearing home after a longish circuit of the residential colony, when we spotted parrots again.

Not just parrots, but a whole colony of them. Chattering, preening, jibing. These are a different variety. They have rosy heads. But they talk the same language. At least I think they do.

The sun was getting ready to set. But it would take at least an hour before it did. Thankfully, its light lit up the tree and the parrots just right to give us a beautiful picture.

Now that they have left, and I look back on those ‘walks’ I’ve walked with them, I feel grateful for all of those sights they’ve shown me. It is uncanny how parents have the power to show in the most tacit of ways. As I prepare for a little one of my own soon, I realise the baton is getting passed on. Or duplicated. For parents never really stop giving, do they?

Of old lessons

Originally posted on 30 September, 2010

When in doubt, run to friends. Their station in life or the grades they got in school regardless, they will come up with responses that light up your life. Serious, concerned, pertinent answers or witty, in-your-face humour. Years back, I ran (virtually) to friends, implored them to help me remove the cobwebs in my head. I take life too seriously, you see. It becomes a humongous task to not analyse my contributions in my own life. This particular situation arose from the doubt that I was probably being too impatient with humanity in particular and myself in general. So, I did what I feel most comfortable doing. I wrote. And sent mails to a few friends who I knew would be honest. The following is an excerpt.

“I am introspecting again… It’s like spring cleaning…. I need your feelings on this. It may seem strange, but I’d like to know my faults/weaknesses/what have you. I am terribly uncomfortable with saccharine praise. Is it possible for a person to do things and not make ANY mistake?… There needs to be a not-so-nice bit in people somewhere.  All this praise makes me feel unnecessary conceit… I look for validity of all that we see around. I want to believe. In compliments, smiles, expressions of approval. And try as I may, I don’t see any validity. It’s a lonely place to be in.

…Cynicism makes me dizzy with fear. I am alone here in this world, usually. Loneliness is the last thing any of us chooses, right? I fear spending my time peeping at the world from behind a veil made of cocksure I-am-okay-by-myself attitude. … that loving is a lonely thing to do. And it is such a sorry plight. I am scared, because I have stepped into this threshold of accepting loneliness as the only way out of an insane desperation in search of something that is so wonderfully wholesome, that it overwhelms you for the rest of your life.”

(You must grant me bravery. Now that I am reading these words after a gap of seemingly zillion years, I admit I must’ve been quite a character back then. Who spring cleans the nice bits? Why analyse when you can live? Whatever. It was back then.)

And they wrote back. And lit up my life. Good Samaritans, all.

Don’t lose your spirit trying too hard!

OK just don’t sound so cocky when you answer calls. You might scare people away.

Forcing humility or self-evaluation has no value attached to it.

Conceit is not a problem as long as it is not apparent.

Talk because you want to, because you want to share. And there shouldn’t be the feeling of wanting to say the right things to get approval.

Each one’s emotional investment in a relationship can never be to the same degree as yours.

You simply have to be able to open your mind and speak.

I honestly believe that even though we lend power to everyone for the way we feel..at the end of the day we believe in ourselves through other’s eyes because it’s convenient. It’s easier to blame others than one’s own self.

Try doing things for some one else. Unless that coincides with what you want  to do too, it’s a strain, you have to push yourself, things don’t go right, everything is generally miserable because we are trying to go against nature.

…..and you definitely don’t need their (people who don’t know better) adulations.

Anything they don’t understand, they just idolize and antagonize.

I see the shelves at bookstores crammed with books on improvement, and how to live a better life… everyone seems hell bent on trying to teach the world how to live and how to improve (and wonder of wonders, the reviews point out that it actually works for people!!) I say this again – I’m not evolved enough to understand how I can improve by accepting parameters set by people whose views on life, and whose beliefs are probably poles apart from mine.

What we have to learn is  that every minute we live is important . Everything we do, think, see, taste, smell, blah, blah is important.

Look for peace within you. If you are not calm , no amount of love from the outside can be a balm. You are your own disease and your own medicine.

Well, phew. That’s a lot of lessons in a short time. Begone, unnecessary ‘introspection’! Reading and re-reading this (and all the other stuff they wrote) reminded me of the importance of simplicity.

We spend our times wondering whether or not we did the right thing. Or whether we received what we deserve. It can become an overwhelming whirlpool. Getting out of it requires much more than the knowledge of swimming. And some don’t even know that.

In such situations, skepticism may become necessary. Cynicism, however, is just hogwash.

(Skepticism – it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.)

(Cynic is one who “shows a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions, and is wont to express this by sneers and sarcasm.”)

My leanings towards a lonely road of disappointment at the moral and emotional inadequacies? They were curbed.

I have believed (and thankfully still do) in living and letting live (one friend did point out some enlightened souls like Mr. Axl Rose who believe in living and letting die). In the path of leading such a seemingly indifferent life, I may and do encounter times when I want control. Control things for the sake of love or self-preservation or both. But as long as my own harmless existence is not threatened, it is suicidal to want to be in control. As long as I remember to sip from my own wellspring of soul-wisdom from time to time, things normally turn out just fine!

Intent is everything.

If I can get up in the morning with a feeling of excitement about much to do, I know I am doing good. Many times, the much-to-do is unexciting in more ways than one, but if I can accomplish the difficult task of seeing beyond the unexciting and looking at the consequence my action is expected to have, I will be able to still feel that very-welcome excitement. For even the most unpleasant tasks, if done with the right intent in mind, (seemingly) magically result in something pleasant.

A total recall

I have been thinking quite a lot about the land of the Bhils and Gonds – the tribals of the region of India I have my roots in. A long time ago, it seems, B and I visited a section of it, and fell in love with the greens and the browns and the blacks of the place. I’d love to, someday, write about it. But today, I am so full of the memories, that all I can do is post some pictures and reload the page over and over again through the day to keep looking at them. Why post them and not see in my personal gallery? Well, posting it in the blog has an added advantage of pretending I am storing it in a diary. And I was a religious diary-writer as a kid.

Besides, I always love to share what I think the world deserves to know. So, here goes a collection of memories from a land that has not seen ‘civilisation.’

The creek that gushes close to where we stayed.
A reservoir close to Bhoramdeo, the place where we stayed for the night. The red soil turns all waters into remarkably dirty-coloured entities. But all is beautiful, still. The fisherman promised to keep a fish for us to take home. We couldn't go back to him after our little jaunt at the hills. Our loss. The cow bells came with me, though. In the mind. I can still hear the sweet sound.
The dragonflies, blurred in the foreground were the stars of the season. It was summertime, the worst time to go there. If the worst time offers such beauty, the best should be just that, no?
This kite flew down to perch on the distant guard rail. As if to pose, it stayed there only as long as we clicked pictures. Quite a celeb, eh?

 

Moti of the Baiga tribe. The man we went to meet because people from the world over come to meet him, to seek cures to their ailments. He claims to walk the darkest of forests with tigers and elephants for company, make medicines to cure anything ranging from constipation to multiple scleroris. He claims to have eaten a herb for the duration he didn't want children. Natural contraceptive. 🙂 Pointing at my spectacles, he said, "I can get these off in one day". I'll tell you the outrageous cure, someday. Suffice it to say, I am chicken-hearted. And they make stylish spectacle-frames these days. All the tongues-in-cheeks aside, he has remarkable eyes. I couldn't meet them for long. He kept looking into mine, deep and deeper. It was unnerving.
Child-mothers, all. The local weekly market is quite a draw. People come in throngs from distant villages to buy several things. My favourite among them? The circlet around the girl's (on the left) neck. It's called a sarota. Pure silver, awesome weight. I got myself one. 🙂
Leopard kitten (a leopard cat is a wild cat, but not a leopard). A domesticated devil at a local village. I'd have taken him if the people weren't so attached to him. Such fire in his eyes.
A lotus pond at the Shiva temple at Bhoramdeo. The temple itself is so mind-numbing, I was slightly scared to click its picture, so I took its companion's instead.
This classy lady is off with her bargain of the week - the mahua. A local wine made of mahua flowers. The blossoms fill the forests during the summer season with their heady fragrance. Lotus-eaters would find these a much bigger challenge. People have been known to have fallen asleep the moment they came too close to a tree in full bloom. Or have been attacked by bears who wish to claim their share. Mahua. A heady, fruity, sweet brew.
Not a great picture. Doesn't quite capture the beauty of the fall, but it is important to post it here because a couple of ten minutes after this, as we trekked along the dirt track, we were to have a memorable experience. Since the track was a narrow one, we were walking in a straight line. The leader was a spirited dog we'd found close to the creek posted above. It wanted to come with us, or lead us rather. He was followed by our guide, then B and then finally, me. After a few minutes of walking along, we heard a rough grunt that reverberated not only through the hills, but within our heads and hearts as well. A growl followed. And then a yelp. By the time we'd trundled to the place, all had already happened. The dog was cowering, the leopard was gone. Yes, there had been a leopard ahead in the path, probably sleeping. Our leader was the only one to sight the cat. A rare example of a dog cowering in front of a cat, perhaps. At any rate, the leopard was gone before we could say Dog. All we had left of his presence was the memory of the inimitable growl (showing disgust, probably at the intruders) and the unmistakable big-cat smell. I can still feel the adrenalin. Our leader deserted us immediately thereafter. We never saw him again.

This outing, just a weekend, was an important one. I grew up very far from all these visions and smells and experiences. Despite the lack of familiarity, I somehow felt a part of it all, as I walked these roads. A feeling akin to home. B; a child of lands much beyond these, lands of tall mountains and great lakes, with people so different yet not quite; also, for some strange reason, felt one with the land. I know no better pleasure. Bhoramdeo is the place that brought me closer. To what? To life itself, I daresay.

There are angels, after all

The grand-whistler

A little while back, a beautiful black and white bird came unannounced. And stayed, much to my delight. We notice it everyday in the mornings and afternoons, flying to various corners of our garden and calling out in its sweet, oh so sweet voice. I don’t know its name. But I do know I wait for it everyday.

Among the chorus of several other birds, this one lets out a honey-coated whistle that permeates deep within. It is like a reminder of goodness in despair, path-finder in celebration. Simply put, I am in absolute love with this bird.

It first came at my home office window when I was struggling with a particularly dull piece of text for translation. Uncannily, it looked at me (or so I like to think) and whistled. As if telling me to get a move on already. I did manage to finish my work, drudgery forgotten. You could call me a silly fairy-chaser. Or an impractical fool because I look for symbols, preferably natural ones. This bird has come as a blessing. For I  like to think of serendipity and angelic messages in the same breath as doing dishes.

The window where it all began

Sure enough, the little whistler was there just a few minutes back, when I, for the umpteenth time, considered sacking my extremely unhelpful house help. (Unfortunately, this time I am not sure whether it is encouraging this decision or sending signs of warning that I am going over-the-board with my disapproval. More about that in another post).

So, regardless of dubious advice, I am quite fond of this little honey-stirrer. It livens up my daily life, giving it that extra bit of sweetness that is always appreciated.

Exploring neverlands

Flowing with, but not quite

Guchhupani. aka Robber’s Cave. Go there, if you think you have the “IT” to face the impish jokes of waters chuckling at your ineptitude. Or if you are not shy of floundering as her rush engulfs you, only up to your calves maybe, or knees, or thighs (I don’t know your height, you see), but engulfing you nevertheless. In her impatient hurry to meet the yet-unknown fate, she rushes on. Or perhaps you are the kind with the “IT” to wade her waters against the flow, you who can appreciate her power. And while you are doing so, look up. The sky peers in at you from between just an itty-wide gap between giant crags. As you walk in this tunnel from heaven-hell (especially after an almost unprecedented monsoon), if you are me, you will feel an urgency to soak it all in. The weathered rocks on two sides, the blue sky amidst a shock of green, oh-so green life high up, and she – the stream, laughing under your feet. Not shy of their being, they aren’t.

So the earnest B, and I, his fanciful wife took it upon ourselves to road ourselves a little on an exceptionally aimless day. When we want to ‘road’ and the day is exceptionally aimless, we set out to Mussourie to sit in our favourite Clock Tower cafe for some black coffee. So, we set out. Halfway on the Rajpur road, a tug of guilt nudged us to remember that  we hadn’t seen much of Doon. The place that housed us, and so very well at that. We took a quick turn. To where, but? We didn’t know yet.

Guchhupani. Had it been Facebook, my dying addiction, I’d have added a cute smilie. But it is not. So I won’t.  But the name still brings a smile. Why? Well, I am a sucker for awesome.

This cave, as it is surprisingly called (I didn’t see any) was Sultana’s cave. Grapevines are a little entangled, but what the most popular ones claim is that Sultana the Robber (aka Sultana Daakoo) was a Robin Hood of sorts of this region and a big-pain-in-all-parts for the British. If you can read Hindi, here’s an article on him. Since I am deviating from the original awesomeness, I’ll pull myself back to it. Some other time about the said robber. We grew up reading about him in Amar Chitra Kathas… Well, whatever.

Let’s move on to the matter at hand. Robber’s cave used to be one of his many hideouts. I can see why.  Most sensible people will say thanks but no thanks and either walk away, or sit under one of those thatched huts they serve Maggi noodles in, and wonder at the world’s foolish robbers. But, if you are foolish (even if not a robber, Robin Hood or otherwise), you will imagine walking up the stream. Sure enough. You will go  towards the collection of craggy, humongous rocks. There you will see that the stream is flowing out of those crags. Here, you will need to be much more than fanciful and foolish. You need to  belong to a clan of die-hard explorers. You will pull up your jeans legs (if you are foolish enough to wear anything longer than shorts to such a place. We can be excused, we were aimless), remove your shoes (or wear strap sandals aka floaters in the world I live in), and wade in the almost-fierce waters. If you are bare feet and have cracked soles, this is the best pedicure ever. Trust me.  I never lie about these things. The relentless rubbing of smooth, round pebbles on your soles that sometimes turns into a jagged shock is a great way to turn those paws into good-as-new kissables. So. You move on, ever grinning with pride derived from your clan of relentless hopefuls. The water is now deeper, reaching up to your calves, sometimes threatening to sweep you off your feet. Up ahead, the mouth of the ‘cave’ looks almost inviting. The grey-green water is almost pool-like, you can see the mouth narrowing back again on the other side. Adventure beckons, as you insist on prolonged pedicure.

As you reach the other side of the mouth, ready to flounder into the belly, the sky opens up. Well yes, it was still above you when you last saw, but this is beyond something else. Tall walls of grim rock reach up to the sky, but before they do, they make room for some trees. So, your vision includes, what seems like a kilometer of rock elevated upwards, the green, oh-so green brush, and the blue sky. Just an itty bit of blue line. Juxtaposed with the golden of the sun… Water trickles down along the face of the craggy ‘cave’ sometimes escaping the surface and falling down on you in rain-like elixir of cool, cool water. If you forgot the chuckling stream below your current vision, come back, because it is getting nastier. Deeper water, faster speed. And this goes on until you reach what? The belly? No! The source of the water. And the sound! Listen to it. It’s the best ever celebration of freedom towards unknown, unchartered lands. You, if you are me, will soak it all in and wade back towards these very lands. This time along with the chuckling, impish stream. Wading with the flow. And by the time you reach the place where you pulled up your jeans, your pedicured, kissable soles will be ready.

P.S. I didn’t see a cave doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

P.P.S. Though the picture above shows wet jeans legs not-pulled-up, the fact remains that I had some sense of fuss to pull them up. They rolled back to meet the waters, much to my relief. For I am, after all, fanciful.

Of old lessons

When in doubt, run to friends. Their station in life or the grades they got in school regardless, they will come up with responses that light up your life. Serious, concerned, pertinent answers or witty, in-your-face humour. Years back, I ran (virtually) to friends, implored them to help me remove the cobwebs in my head. I take life too seriously, you see. It becomes a humongous task to not analyse my contributions in my own life. This particular situation arose from the doubt that I was probably being too impatient with humanity in particular and myself in general. So . I did what I feel most comfortable doing. I wrote. And sent mails to a few friends who I knew would be honest. The following is an excerpt.

“I am introspecting again… It’s like spring cleaning…. I need your feelings on this. It may seem strange, but I’d like to know my faults/weaknesses/what have you. I am terribly uncomfortable with saccharine praise. Is it possible for a person to do things and not make ANY mistake?… There needs to be a not-so-nice bit in people somewhere.  All this praise makes me feel unnecessary conceit… I look for validity of all that we see around. I want to believe. In compliments, smiles, expressions of approval. And try as I may, I don’t see any validity. It’s a lonely place to be in.

…Cynicism makes me dizzy with fear. I am alone here in this world, usually. Loneliness is the last thing any of us chooses, right? I fear spending my time peeping at the world from behind a veil made of cocksure I-am-okay-by-myself attitude. … that loving is a lonely thing to do. And it is such a sorry plight. I am scared, because I have stepped into this threshold of accepting loneliness as the only way out of an insane desperation in search of something that is so wonderfully wholesome, that it overwhelms you for the rest of your life.”

(You must grant me bravery. Now that I am reading these words after a gap of seemingly zillion years, I admit I must’ve been quite a character back then. Who spring cleans the nice bits? Why analyse when you can live? Whatever. It was back then.)

And they wrote back. And lit up my life. Good Samaritans, all.

Don’t lose your spirit trying too hard!

OK just don’t sound so cocky when you answer calls. You might scare people away.

Forcing humility or self-evaluation has no value attached to it.

Conceit is not a problem as long as it is not apparent.

Talk because you want to, because you want to share. And there shouldn’t be the feeling of wanting to say the right things to get approval.

Each one’s emotional investment in a relationship can never be to the same degree as yours.

You simply have to be able to open your mind and speak.

I honestly believe that even though we lend power to everyone for the way we feel..at the end of the day we believe in ourselves through other’s eyes because it’s convenient. It’s easier to blame others than one’s own self.

Try doing things for some one else. Unless that coincides with what you want  to do too, it’s a strain, you have to push yourself, things don’t go right, everything is generally miserable because we are trying to go against nature.

…..and you definitely don’t need their (people who don’t know better) adulations.

Anything they don’t understand, they just idolize and antagonize.

I see the shelves at bookstores crammed with books on improvement, and how to live a better life… everyone seems hell bent on trying to teach the world how to live and how to improve (and wonder of wonders, the reviews point out that it actually works for people!!) I say this again – I’m not evolved enough to understand how I can improve by accepting parameters set by people whose views on life, and whose beliefs are probably poles apart from mine.

What we have to learn is  that every minute we live is important . Everything we do, think, see, taste, smell, blah, blah is important.

Look for peace within you. If you are not calm , no amount of love from the outside can be a balm. You are your own disease and your own medicine.

Well, phew. That’s a lot of lessons in a short time. Begone, unnecessary ‘introspection’! Reading and re-reading this (and all the other stuff they wrote) reminded me of the importance of simplicity.

We spend our times wondering whether or not we did the right thing. Or whether we received what we deserve. It can become an overwhelming whirlpool. Getting out of it requires much more than the knowledge of swimming. And some don’t even know that.

In such situations, skepticism may become necessary. Cynicism, however, is just hogwash.

(Skepticism – it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.)

(Cynic is one who “shows a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions, and is wont to express this by sneers and sarcasm.”)

My leanings towards a lonely road of disappointment at the moral and emotional inadequacies? They were curbed.

I have believed (and thankfully still do) in living and letting live (one friend did point out some enlightened souls like Mr. Axl Rose who believe in living and letting die). In the path of leading such a seemingly indifferent life, I may and do encounter times when I want control. Control things for the sake of love or self-preservation or both. But as long as my own harmless existence is not threatened, it is suicidal to want to be in control. As long as I remember to sip from my own wellspring of soul-wisdom from time to time, things normally turn out just fine!