Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There



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.



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.

Only disappointment

It is only disappointment. Alas, it dessicates the life in your spirit. If you let it, that is.

Thankfully, like many frustrating things, disappointment comes with a choice. You either let it devour you, or force it to lift you up on its shoulder and let you climb on to the other side of the seemingly insurmountable wall. Easy? Hardly. Continue reading

Only disappointment

It is only disappointment. Alas, it dessicates the life in your spirit. If you let it, that is.

Thankfully, like many frustrating things, disappointments come with a choice. You either let it devour you, or force it to lift you up on its shoulder and let you climb on to the other side of the seemingly insurmountable wall. Easy? Hardly.  Continue reading

That Special Thing

There are some things you experience in life which enrich you beyond your understanding. That feed your soul even when you think it is hungry and parched, only for you to of a sudden realise that you were only being forgetful — help is at hand. Even if you’ll have to search real hard for it.

Dadiji and Dadaji (my father’s parents) are a couple of such people, who coloured my life in ways it is difficult to put in words. Memories can be narrated, but what they do to ones heart and mind, and how, is a thread that gets fogged with every attempt at an explanation. But I am going to try it.

Dadiji with the new-born me.

They had seven grandsons from their five sons before Dadiji became desperate for a Dubey granddaughter — a girl to carry on her family’s name. She prayed for a girl throughout my mother’s pregnancy. Her prayers were answered. When I was born, needless to say, she rejoiced. And showed a figurative tongue to my mother, who was certain it’d be a boy. That is, however, where her overt expression of a wish fulfilled ended. Never again did she show through her actions or words any preference for any of her grandchildren. Not so my Dadaji. He very clearly showed his love for my brother, Shonu. A man of meagre requirements and a strict routine, he didn’t quite agree with celebrations and parties, but he did insist for a big third birthday party for Shonu. How people behave and change, how their expressions differ from time to time is such a mystery, is it not?

Our meetings with them were fixed for at least once a year, when we went to Jabalpur for summer or winter holidays. We’d first go to Rajnandgaon, where my Nanaji and Naniji (mother’s parents) lived and then go for a longer stay at Jabalpur. Dadaji decided to shift to Jabalpur in a huff. Though his roots were from Raipur, he vowed never to return to it because of the strange ways of the people there. He was one of the first from his community, perhaps the first, to go out of the country and spend time in England. The people around him weren’t interested in his achievements, but in the fact that he’d gone and maligned the sanctity of their society. Perhaps eaten meat. Even touched a white person. Perhaps he drank alcohol and smoked foreign cigarettes as well? Blasphemy! So they sort of ostracised him, sure that he’d come and apologise to the powers that be. Dadaji didn’t think such a people worth his time and life, so he decided to remain in Jabalpur after he retired.

The decision was the most trying for Dadiji. Even though she’s spent most of her married life outside of Raipur, she’d looked forward to returning back to her people. She loved gatherings, gaiety, food, fun. Well, Jabalpur wasn’t going to stop her from enjoying all of that! She had friends in Jabalpur, too. Dadaji didn’t have any money to make a house, though. A well-feared collector, he often neglected the fact that he would need a place to go to after his retirement. Spending money on property was just not his game. No, he wasn’t a miser. Only a little impractical. But Dadiji came to his (and her own) rescue. She got a house built with the jewellery she had. It got completed just in time to welcome them after Dadaji retired. This house is where many of my childhood memories wander.

Dadiji with my mother, brother and a cousin with his newest pet

She had diabetes ever since I can remember. Though it made her life a little less than comfortable, I don’t remember her complaining. What I do remember is her grumbling that everyone took the doctors too seriously and denied her her two favourites — mango pickle and rice. She got her way with rice somehow (that’s a different story for a different time), but the pickle was never much of a hit with her sons and daughters-in-law, who continued to prohibit her from eating it. But little did they know, she had a comrade-in-arms. Me. I’d sneak in after lunch or dinner to the pantry, fish out a few pieces from the huge pickle jar, wrap it in layers of paper after sufficiently removing the oil, and hand it over to her. I knew how she felt, because it was my favourite, too. What’s more, she was alert enough to remove the evidence from under her pillow before someone discovered it. I can still remember her cataracted eyes twinkling with joy whenever I succeeded in getting her the loot.

My reward was more time with her skin. Wasted muscles  and vanished fat had left her with bags of skin in her upper arms. I could spend hours touching, squeezing, caressing the soft folds. And then moving my hand down to hers. Such a difference between the two! Hers was gnarled with time and hard labour. The skin pushed into the skeleton, embossing the green-blue veins. And yes, I could spend hours tracing the veins, trying to straighten her unrelenting fingers with my young, keen ones. Is there always a need for a reason for one to be fascinated with uncommon things? I don’t know, but I was fascinated without ever waiting to find out why. For years, I couldn’t bear to straighten my fingers as the hands joined for the school prayer. “But didi can’t do it, so how can I?” So mulish was I, raps from the PT master’s cane didn’t budge me, and the fingers promptly went back to being bent.

Dadaji and me. He has my favourite toy in his hand. But I probably have all eyes on my brother's birthday cake.

Dadiji wanted to marry me off soon as I turned thirteen. “But I won’t survive until when she grows of age! Get her married. I want to see her as a bride!” She’d try to reason with my parents. She knew she’d not have her way, but she tried. If my dreams of when I was thirteen were to be analysed, it’d become clear that I’d have supported her wish if anyone had bothered to ask me. I wanted to get married, dress up in beautiful sarees, wear vermilion. Like her, I didn’t think of the added baggage — a husband. “But you can always do the gauna (a child bride stays with parents until she becomes mature, then is sent to her husband — the event is called gauna) when she’s done her college!” Such wisdom. Or so I’d have thought then.

College was a time when I was busy wondering what I was doing anyway. Confused about future, boys, career, pimples and cellulite, I didn’t have time for anything less important. So, my letters to Dadaji became less frequent. He’d been alone for almost 4 years after Dadiji’s death, and had become more insistent about getting his letters. He still wrote back. He was nearing 96, his words on the paper were like determined prints by a magpie with inked feet. It took us minutes to decipher them, but we eventually did. This was a welcome project we were given at least thrice a month.

That day, he asked me on phone whether I’d written to him. I mumbled a guilty no and promised I’d write that day. He laughed. And said, “What’s the use now?” He died the next morning. His housekeeper said that that morning, he went out for his walk after weeks, came back and demanded a glass of milk. Joked with him the housekeeper and told him to make paranthas for breakfast. Paranthas? He’d not eaten them in years! But then there’s always some room for change, he said. Sated, he went to his room, lay down, and must’ve gone and met his Ram sometime in late morning.

I don’t remember how Dadiji died, and I am not interested in asking anyone. Was it at home, or in the hospital? Did she suffer? I don’t remember. What I do remember is that I immediately thought of how she would miss my wedding.

There are so many memories of them, so many ways they make me feel warm and cared for — even today. I suppose this is what you call enrichment.

I wish for an awareness of beings in people. I wish we noticed life more. How I wish I am able to write letters to my grandchildren when I am 96 without my written words turning into magpie footprints more than they already have with lack of use forced by a weak will and a stiffness caused by endless hours at the computer. How I wish my children and grandchildren are better than me in being patient with the limitations of age, that ill-mannered slurping of Bournvita milk because the lips are losing their grip, that frightening smell of old age. That they know the value of that glint of an eye, that slap on the thigh with sheer amusement, the love.

The picture on top is Dadiji, Dadaji with one of their great grandsons.

For months now, I have been wanting to write about people around me, who make a small difference. Some make small, almost invisible differences in their own lives, some in those of the others. All, however, make this world a better place — the one in which laughter has a place, and so does love and security. I kept postponing this post, because there were so many other things I wanted to talk about, too. I kept telling myself: “Next time; they’re not going anywhere.”

But for me, this post is now never going to be the same – whenever I write it – because one man I wanted to mention in it died this morning of a heart attack. He was 55, and raring to go.

Vinay Mama, one of my mother’s four brothers was a man of his own principles and sense of honour. He was a man of indescribable compassion and care. He meant to us children of the family much more than just an uncle.

Leaving the traditional (and safe) path of a salaried job, he decided to cultivate the land of his forefathers. That was two years back. Today, his farm is teeming with bananas and vegetables. He had got it going, despite the warning of most. People try to tell you it can’t be done, because they cannot do it themselves. Mama was among the few, who proved them wrong. Juggling between a job and farming wasn’t easy, but he did it. The bank he worked for officially released him for retirement yesterday. He was now going to have all the time in world for taking care of his dream. But it was not to be.

Vinay mama.

To him I dedicate this day. To you, I introduce a man, whose story I shall tell when I come back to blogging. Until then, please keep loving, and showing it. And pray for a soul, who could have given a lot more here on earth, than many others put together.

Vinay Mama with his wife, Rashmi Mami -- proud owners of this banana farm. This photo was taken last July on a monsoony morning.

A Jumble of Excess

I have an indefatigable sweet tooth for supporting the underdog.

Take, for instance, stem roses. No, they’re not the underdogs. They are the underdoggers. Other flowers almost never get a chance on the edgewise, what with the well-known popularity of these cornucopias of divinity. And this has almost always helped me indulge my sweet tooth mentioned above. But that’s not all — I didn’t think much of roses, especially the ones that make it to the bouquets. Until very recently, that is. If roses were people, I thought,  the very elegant stem rose would be a classy, beautiful, snooty, vain, middle-aged woman. Not my type. (Except the middle-aged bit — middle age is a necessary evil, I’ve realised with time. But I digress.)

You must understand that it makes me uncomfortable to choose anything. It might be because this essentially neutral brain of mine feels alarmed at choosing one over the other. It is actually over the other that discomfits me. In the case of roses, I have found a comfortable position.

Climber and wild roses are, to me, like that person who brings in life wherever they go. My special liking for these varieties helped me begin to see a stem rose-person in a different light. When I look at it now, I realise that the snootiness I see there is, in fact, none of my business. I can just choose to not be around it, because I have life-bringers to choose instead. So, after all these years of mind-rallying against certain roses because

a. I want to support the underdog instead

b. these certain roses aren’t my type

I could stop the spinning caused by choosing over, because I am choosing instead. It was just a matter of one word, and there is now an indescribably wonderful sense of peace in some tiny corner of my mind. I can even see the classiness and elegance sometimes, instead of the vanity.


But not so fast! Most of this strange mind of mine is still on a continous spin of choosing, not choosing, supporting, rejecting. It buzzes frantically for the longest time,  and then short-circuits, my poor mind. And then all you can see is a Jumble of Excess.

Superior beliefs

Is there anything like a superior belief? Belief, in my definition, is interchangeable with faith. And faith, for all sensible creatures, should build and create peace. As long as it does that, its superiority is self-evident. To believe that the tangent of your faith is the only superior one is a folly. And, sadly, our world is seething with it. The religious, economic, social anarchy in not just my country, but yours, too is a proof of just this one apparently small mistake. If I look closely, I am on the verge of following this erroneous path of self-promotion at least a dozen times everyday. I quail at the thought of the sheer number of people sitting in all corners of this world, believing that theirs is the mightiest — a dozen times a day. No wonder people lose their minds and then go on to produce peace-annihilating bombs in their kitchens, run governments, control religious institutions, harp about human rights, and make monetary policies.

If God, financial robustness, or social harmony were to be acquired by the belief of one self-promoting sect, we would have reached Utopia in the Middle Ages.

The Lovable and The Lovable

Moti, our peace-loving dog, isn’t aware that people fight to protect what’s dearest to them. He likes to protect his territory, but looks askance if he’s faced with aggression that’s willing to bare its sharp teeth at times.

Bulu, our assertive dog, likes to play as long as it’s not yet time to retaliate to a challenge. When faced with even the slightest bit of aggression or threat to his territory, he knows and sees nothing but a fitting reply to it.

We love them both, of course. But differently. Bulu’s boisterous play time is our time of joy and heart-overwhelming love. Moti’s gentle licking or companionable pawing is for us an assurance of life. To choose one over the other would be difficult, but to not choose one instead of the other for what they’re best at giving would be impossible.


Turkey invented the Turkish towel, havalu, to indulge a rich bride before her wedding day. The Ottoman Empire knew how to luxuriate in the finest of things, as those of us who have used these pieces of fine craftsmanship know already. Such softness, such absorbency. Such weight, such thickness.

The Indian sun is enthusiastic most of the time, in most of the places, so the thickness of a Turkish towel wouldn’t be much of a problem — most houses don’t have laundry dryers, the sun ‘s heat, which is aplenty, does the job beautifully. (And oh, the divine smell!) But absorbent? The Indian towel, known as gamccha in most Hindi-speaking parts, is handwoven cotton, without the piling. It absorbs, and then dries quickly, even in monsoons. Where does the thick, piled, heavy Turkish dream stand? Well, to me, nowhere. But not to most, only because it is said that the Turkish towel is the ultimate in luxury.

To decide whether to choose or reject one of the most important pieces of cloth on the basis of fashion and trend is nothing but the wretchedness of an indiscriminately absorbent mind.

Act with reserve

India has held its head up high through centuries of organised division of people on the basis of their birth — caste to be exact. The head has remained high despite all evidences against the pertinence of this system initially started to categorise with the intention of delineating the professions, privileges, and responsibilities on the basis of skills and expertise, and not birth. For hundreds of years now, the caste system has become rigid, intolerant and downright nonsensical. But apparently not for long.

In 1993, a mandate proposing educational and social equality of the ‘backward classes’ was implemented. The Mandal Commission was met with enthusiastic jubilation by the said classes, matched only by the outrage of the ‘upper’ ones. The Commission is designed to give reservation of educational seats and professional jobs to the classes that have received little or no educational, professional and hence social facilities over time — just on the basis of their caste.

It seems justified on paper. These people have had enough of discrimination, it is time the discrimination moved in their favour.


I could go on with all that’s churning in my head, but I am going to wait. I am going to wait for a wild, or climber rose to show me I can keep my sanity amidst all this involuntary spinning of thoughts wanting to oust the vain, and the snooty. Oh, and also the blind.

Dismissed too soon

Years ago, I read a tale of an old man, who gave his sons a lesson of a lifetime — the lesson of the four seasons. He sent out his four sons to look at the same pear tree in different seasons. Needless to say, they all had a different report to give. One talked of the promise of spring, the other the devastation of winter, yet another the abundance of autumn and the youngest spoke of the newness of summer. “It is but vital for you to see, notice, acknowledge and appreciate a being in all its four seasons,” advised their wise father.

Recently, when I related this story to a friend — the context was the obvious, common difference in the ways deaths of people in their spring and that of people in their winter are treated. There is natural despair at an untimely death, the death of a young, blossoming person and then there is sometimes an almost eager, relieved goodbye to an old, ailing one — he asked me to write an etheree on it. I have written two. As if that suffices.



‘Twas my tree.

Winter iced it.

I forsake it, though.

For I smell nothingness.


‘Tis Spring. There, my blossom tree.

Life ate it to death with malice.

Tears are not enough for the loss.

For life’s departed into nothingness.

 ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~

Leaves and blossoms gently nurse springtime fruits.

Life’s giving life — unsated, joyous.

Ah, the lovesome delights of spring!

Days perfume eternities.


White lights come in, laming

Eternity so!

Disown fruits now?

 No. Look, life




An etheree comprises of 10 lines. It begins with a one syllable line, increasing one syllable per line until the last line of ten syllables. The syllable count of the entire poem is 55. The syllabic structure, therefore, is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, and is unmetered and unrhymed.

Only love

Generations in a family love and hate. Usually, it is the love that makes it to photo galleries.

It is only love. Or is it? I would never say ‘love’ and ‘only’ in the same sentence. Or allow ‘only’ to come any closer than two paragraphs. Never. Because — it is an emotion that punches you at a point (still unknown to science, philosophy, religion, and whatever else likes to blow its trumpet)  with such heart-numbing, heart-stupidifying precision that you see stars, feel winded enough to wonder whether you had ever in your life breathed at all, smell heaven from wherever you are, cry bitter tears, and sweet too, see hell everywhere else, or right here — all at once. An emotion like no other. Only? I am not off my rocker.

Why in the world am I writing about it, then? Something that can’t be quantified, judged or in most cases, expressed in words? No, not because it is Valentine’s Week, as the retail market is wont to call it. (Today is Promise Day, by the way.) Perhaps it is because I feel obligated to continue the sequence of emotions I have promised myself to cover in this category. And probably because I love. And so do you. Same pinch. (Or punch).

But I confess there is no purpose, no message to give, no angst to release, no thoughts to share. At the end of this post, you will be right where you started. Some things still have to be done, however. So, for all these reasons, and my love for sparring with the undoable, I am going ahead.

Our dogs' love for killing the grass takes precedence over our love for a breathtakingly green patch. Such is life.

The beauty and horror of love could spin us around a million times over, and back. In fact, it has! Heartaches float invisibly, acting like catalysts to give birth to music, paintings, photos, sculptures. The Wheel, even. And there are even more healed hearts to revolutionise art and science and sports and religion. And the retail market, as we all know. Haven’t you noticed how they fuel all of our planet’s existence, demise and rebirth?  Isn’t it justified, then, to think that it is so, so very empty to try to express it through a card, send in chocolates or big diamond rings? And yet – surprise of all surprises! – it is so meaningful to express it through a card, send in chocolates or big diamond rings. Whatever the choice.

The horror begins when things come to choice, actually.

You simply love biking. And you love your spouse and children, who’d rather sit in the garden and count the bushes. You love counting the bushes and you love them, too, of course. But you have to choose. Bike or Bush. (The latter with your family thrown in as a bonus). Choose both? Choose one? Choose none and run away with a tattoo-maker? Like everything else in the 21st century, there are options galore! (In fact, I suspect it must be for the love of things and misery that we’ve decided to inundate our closets with options. And throw the skeletons out. We have evolved, Darwin.)

So, back to love options. They do cause hyperventilation of all kinds, don’t they, now? And yet we go on. It is a many-splendoured thing, after all.

A tacit understanding of trials and past glories could be love, too. My brother's fascination for sharks must have come from his belief that he was on the Titanic in his last birth and was eaten by a shark on his way down. I believed the same, except I thought I had drowned. We discovered our common belief much later, when we were adults and found it all right to share our hitherto hidden nightmares. After we'd talked about it, the words 'shark' and 'drown' never had the same meaning for us again. And though there is no glory in being eaten by a shark or in drowning, there was love in the understanding.

It is the phenomenon that makes people understand without having to use language. It is the energy that can make a person rise up and say, “I am alive, because I love. And am loved.” It is the lovesome succor for the soul that makes people get up in the morning to make bed tea for their loved one. Or do something else that is their cup of tea. Love, not surprisingly, needs no words to understand. And yet, surprisingly again, words make so much difference. Or gestures. Perhaps love cannot survive without a carrier, regardless of what it is.

The splendours of love. Who’s to count them? And how? And more importantly, why? As long as love for one is there, floating through the mists of life, at once illuminating and relaxing, never tugging at a love for another, there is hope.

Loving, and how.


I discovered Etheree at Dan’s blog a few days back. It is a concept so beautiful, I am still in raptures. And the name? Etheree. Wow. To make matters more delightful, Dan’s poem added such calm, petal-like softness to its already simple beauty. Perhaps this is what encouraged me to write an etheree myself and see if I have it in me to make it a regular in this blog’s Poesie category.



the cup

and come here

closer to us,

me and the fire bright.

Walls are warm, my heart too.

Close that door behind you, do!

Look, the fire’s ablaze with the wind

the door’s let in oh-so shamelessly.

Come now, the cup overflows so, my love.

An etheree comprises of 10 lines. It begins with a one syllable line, increasing one syllable per line until the last line of ten syllables. The syllable count of the entire poem is 55. The syllabic structure, therefore, is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, and is unmetered and unrhymed.

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.

That’ll be all, thank you

Lend this post a little patience, and read this excerpt

That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it.

“You appear to be astonished,” he said, smiling at my expression of surprise. “Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it.”

“To forget it!”

“You see,” he explained, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”

“But the Solar System!” I protested.

“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently; “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”

Mister Sherlock Holmes must’ve startled not only Dr. Watson, who was to become his trusted friend later, but also the readers of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book called A Study in Scarlet. When I first read this as a dreamy-headed school girl, I was amused at the thought of someone choosing to not know information thrust at him. Someone after my heart, he seemed to be. But I wouldn’t have the audacity to tell my Maths teacher that algorithms and calculus were of no use to me, would I? So I just allowed myself a chuckle or two. Coming back to Mr. Holmes’ philosophy, let me tell you that after subsequent re-reads (and there’ve been many), I began to see some logic in what he has so succinctly put (Forgive me if I mention him as if he did walk this earth) -“…for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before…”

Fast forward to today’s world, where I maintain three e-mail accounts, one for business, two for pleasure (!). The latter ones are inundated with forwarded mails promising good cheer/awesome knowledge/memorable laughs/unmentionable humour, and several other things that could easily put Mr. Holmes’ spartan mind-room in a spin. And I receive a good amount of them on a daily basis. How will my poor room look like with all the clutter? The pink kittens waving at me, mewing that the world is beautiful; the world’s swankiest hotel rooms telling me I’ve earned zilch; the lovely maple trees in Canada reminding me I love red autumn but will probably not see it today. So much information. Such temptation for a curious mind. It is difficult to handle. Much like a supermarket full of mouth-watering food, or that onslaught of mean reminders at school that probably eating 650.5 calories per day will make me look like whatshername. I’ve been tired of these various suns vying for attention for some time now. Suns that tell me to revolve, just for this one moment.

I open these mails and text messages, not read them and go back to the Inbox to open another. This routine is mainly because I do not like unread mails and I do not wish to read forwards.  Since I do not wish to delete them either, I keep them in store for a rainy day when I might need good cheer/awesome knowledge/memorable laughs/unmentionable humour, and one of the several other things. During this routine, however, someone’s solar system does come within my radar’s sensors, and I add a furniture or two to my not-so-spartan mind-room. The room had to protest. It had to happen. One such promised keep-up-with-the-world forward broke my camel’s back today.

It was a video of mama elephant delivering baby elephant in Bali zoo. How splendid the work of Mother Nature! Despite foreboding of something unpleasant about to come, I kept watching the mother struggle to get the baby out. It did finally come out, along with ponds full of its mother’s body fluids. The presenter was in awe. He had to be, he’s an elephant watcher. But what was I doing, watching the video? I did feel a certain sense of awe, being privy to Mother Elephant’s personal success, and her patience and concern, but why, really should I watch a recorded video of elephant delivery? That is when the back broke.

Information overload is another in the list of immoderate indulgences we face on a daily basis. And like all other things, we notice it only when it is time to consult a  commercial guru. No one else is equipped to handle such blatant imbalance. At least that is what the gurus tell us. Don’t you think it is like having an invisible hand controlling your own and forcing you to eat, eat, eat? All along it is your own hand, actually. But you have to go to someone to help you beat the stars out of the invisible hand so that you can control your own. Phew. So much work will make any self-respecting 21st century citizen say “I’m beat.”

Just a little help from Holmes will be enough, though. I said ‘No!’ to algorithms and calculus back in school and am walking with my head held high, regardless. I might have had the experience of watching an elephant birth while I’d rather have not stared at my computer screen. But I’d like to say now, “That’ll be all.”

Of relationships, onions, boats and negligence

Boats are a lovely concept. Besides being a useful one. Much like relationships. And a little like onions. How, you ask?

Onions are

a) useful

b) hardly lovely

c) enhance your experience (of food)

Boats are

a) useful

b) mostly lovely

c) enhance your experience (of work, leisure, sea/lake/pond/river-faring)

Relationships are

a) useful

b) generally lovely

c) enhance your experience (of life)

Sunken opportunities…neglected and defunct

Amazing as it is, there can be more on the list of similarities and almost-similarities. Consider this.  The various layers these concepts comprise are quite uncanny in their likeness. What layers? Onions, with their proverbial layers, need no more explanation, I hope. Otherwise I’ll have to consider banning you from reading my very-intelligent blog. (If you continue reading hereafter, you are herewith not-banned.) So then, relationships have layers too. The layer of genuine love covering that of reluctant resignation, perhaps covering that of deep fear. I don’t know. Relationships come in all sorts of layers, trust me. And a little unlike onions, they are usually very, very unpredictable sheaths of really unmanageable stuff. I mean, you can handle a little tear flow with the onions, right? How about exploring, chopping, uncovering the layers of a relationship? So, very difficult to predict. And copious amounts of tear-jerking.

And then take the boats. It’s a little difficult to see the connection, I know. Let me help. If you know a little about boats, you’ll know anyway. I know practically nothing about boats, but I know. See, the basic structure of the boat is shaped around the hull, which is the part that keeps the boat afloat. If you google the structure of a hull (which I did, to make my case stronger) you will see the intricate, sometimes layered pattern of this crucial bit that keeps these amazing concepts afloat. In this case, the sheaths, layers (also called backbones or ribs) are precision-based marvels, designed to succeed. Predictable, sometimes unpredictably prodigious, but layers nevertheless.

In my opinion, boats, relationships and onions are quite an awesome combination to prove that anything you consider trying your hand at, you better not underestimate it. Throw apathy out of that window you keep staring out of (or perhaps choosing not to stare from, because the Windows (of a plausible version) in the other line of sight keeps you busy enough). So when the connection is established between the three, consider this as well:

You neglect:

your onion – your food is devoid of the lovesome nutrition, taste, wholesomeness it provides

your relationship – your life is devoid of everything*

your boat – you are devoid of your life.

*well, mostly.


When it is time to move on, you feel this eager nudge. Strangely, the direction of this nudge differs from situation to situation.

When it is time to leave your adamant son in his new flat in a big, mean town, you feel the nudge to run back to him and give him a hug (or maybe slap him hard on his back and then hug; whichever he deserves more), hoping the tactic will guard him against all odds you fear await him.

Or consider the nudge you feel when you are sitting in an overcrowded train, commuting to save your life, financially or socially or just-ly. The nudge that nudges you to get out of there RIGHT NOW and find a place that doesn’t make saving your life such a bore.

Nudges are important, you see.