Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A ‘basic’ post card from Koh Kwang

‘Tuck me in’ – is what this town must have said to the lush mountains and the ocean as it came into existence. Imagine being greeted by the tropical scents, the deep green mountains on one side and the clear blue waters of the Andamans on the other. This place (like a few others) makes you pause, pause to take a deep breath at the wonder this life holds for each one of us. A wonder that many of us see virtually, some of us as we dream, and a few of us who engulf themselves in the reality of it.

As I took my pause, I realized the significance of ‘being basic’ yet again, the dimensions to which were multiple - much like the beautiful shades of blue that the ocean seduced me with. I began with feeling fortunate about the decision to drive instead of flying. More importantly, I stopped to fulfill an important need of a long drive – to pee. No debate on how basic this is…

The experience of this drive elevated me to a level that no flight ever has or will. Here’s why - the ‘vibe’ of the place was calm, was comforting. All that there was, was a couple of two wheelers passing by every ten minutes. I have no recollection of seeing the ‘4WDs’. For as far as I could see (and remember) – all that there was ,were maybe 11 people. This when I could see 500 meters of the road I had travelled on, and a never-ending one that I could be on, ahead of me. The mountains on my left and the ocean on my right, of course were constant companions – all this on a narrow road.

Done with my ‘chore’ – an exploration to eat the street food began. This 53-year-old lady was making and selling ‘rotis’ popularly known as ‘crepes’ – fresh off the pan. Alongside was another stall that sold local, ‘on the spot made’ drinks. I had a version of ‘bournvita’ made with cold water, loads of ice and condensed milk thrown in a ‘garnish’. Cliché as it sounds, the two items are on top of my ‘memory list’ for this trip. Upon chatting a little more, I realized that the lady running this stall was a single mother - her husband had passed away a few years ago.

In peak season, she would make 7000 Thai Bhat/month. That’s a mere 200 US dollars. With that she ran a life, a home, and the responsibility of bringing up 3 kids. As one her daughters came out to make the drink, there was an infectious happiness she brought with her, much like her mother. ‘Ah! Child labour’ I thought till I was told she was 22 – yes 22! Maybe the divinity came from the fact that this soul took birth in Mecca – something the mother shared with a lot of fondness and pride.

On the outside, the family did not have a lot of you and I do – a sizeable income, a complete family, just ‘one small’ car, an internet connection or a mobile – nothing. But what they had instead was eternal – an office with a view almost none of us will ever have, and a sense of ‘unconditional happiness’ that all of us ‘must’.

As I left, cherishing the 30 ‘most soulful’ minutes of my life, what travelled with me was this …maybe its more about ‘what’ I make of ‘how much’ I make’.


…basic, isn’t it?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sundown-Ocean-Music-Shack

Sundown, Ocean, Music, Shack - has to be a great evening, turned out to be one.

Something's missing -let's do this again. Sun down, Ocean, Music, Shack --- Moonlight, Ocean, Music, Shack - yes now that seems complete! People (and the ones I love) are a given for company - what I articulated were the 'fringe benefits', which don't seem as enchanting without the core - the ones you love, the ones I love, the ones we love - in a way we see, define, perceive this 'so talked about / thought about, felt about' emotion.

With no workout scores on my report card for the last 5 months, wearing just about 'anything' was not an option. A brilliant disguise was needed to camouflage the somewhat visible difference I had been 'vocally' reminded of. Wonder if people forgot that  my visual senses were still at play, and effectively at that! 

Seduced by the idea and the setting of the 'evening to be', we all landed well in time to see the love affair in all its splendor - an enigmatic interplay between the sun and the ocean. As if failing to resist its charm, the sun seemed to give in to the call, its own desire, to be eventually consumed by the unending depth and want of the ocean. And if the color of the sky was any sign, one can just about imagine the intensity of the 'blush' the interplay left the lovers with. 'Eternal', one would think - for this affair and display of romance happened every single day.

The music (as if keeping pace with the heartbeat and the intensity of the romance), picked pace. And so did the spirit - both internal and the external (a stimuli if you will). Growing as rapidly as the indian sub-contient does, the shack before one knew, was a hive of people - lots of them (almost) stuck together, dancing, drinking and enjoying the sound and taste of the same music. I kept hopping in and out of the crowd until I found my sweet spot.  

I turned into a bigamist. I cheated on the sun - for I found my sweet spot on the beach under the starry full moon night. That night I had a 45 minute 'dancing affair' with the ocean and the moon. 

Nothing mattered - I was in a state of trance. As the water and the wet sand touched my feet, my skin - I sunk. I sunk in to the spirit of music, I sunk into the enigmatic beauty of the moonlit ocean, I sunk into the 'hide and seek' game the moon played with the patchy clouds in the night sky. I sunk - I sunk to feel liberated, uninhibited and free. 

Free till I was called back, free till I had to walk back. As I walked back, I smiled. For all the effort I made to look good/ cover up that evening - I found love in, and through the most 'effortlessly good looking' beings of life, sources of life. 

Wonder if I could ever be the sun, or the moon or the ocean. And surprisingly its not about being 'effortlessly good looking'. 

For that night, the celestial bodies helped me find acceptance - unconditionally! 









Monday, December 31, 2012

Mumbai, Me & 2013

This spot that I am seated on, is my 'current' vantage point. I see half of mumbai (well almost), moving at a pace which is so not 'in character'. The other half seems mysterious  -lost beyond the winter smog, the sunlight somewhat piercing through it, as if teasing you to give a glimpse of what may lie beyond. Mystery - the desire to know the unknown, like all of you, seduces my mind too - like it has and like it will!

The physical, the 'semi-animated' forms of life - the trees, ocean and the buildings - seem untouched. The breeze and how it invisibly touches you, brings back the same emotion and smile; makes me wonder how one can preserve their beauty, in a world thats ever changing - almost every second.  So what's changed, is the question. Numbers - the date, the time, the month, and yes the year - 2012 on to 2013. I think deeper and I say, its not the numbers either - its just the order in which we sequence them that changes every moment. But maybe there's more...

As if symbolic of the sunlight on my face, the year gone by has been a mixed bag - moments that were enticing, full of warmth and moments where I've waited to bask in the same light.

I have, like most of you who're reading this, had a ton happy moments this year -and yes mine started on the 1st of Jan too, like they will again - tomorrow! A fatter pay check, a new job, capturing silhouettes by the beach, doing a treasure hunt with the one you love in your own house - the sunny side has also, and always been the most simplistic! And it's the lack of this 'simpleton' moments that bring in the shades - some grey and the other that fall aptly under the 'color me bad' variety.

Come to think of it, there was and is a little bit of everything in every moment - and what all moments have had for me is a purpose. A lot of it that is recognized, and a whole lot that needs to be discovered.

For now, it seems like I am at a 'calendarized' crossroad - leaving behind another year, reaching out with hope to the other, to the new.

Mumbai and me feel alike - a little bit of smog, a little bit of calm, a little bit of mystery. A little bit of.... complete!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Date As I Drove...


Every time, yes almost every time I drive - I see, I feel and I hear the magic life holds for each one of us. I see magic in the morning sky and in the twinkling stars, I feel magic in my smile that appears at almost every sight I see and I hear magic in the music that plays in my car, and more so in the rythm that this music stirs in my heart.

This morning was as magical till I saw this girl walk by (hold on - this is not what you think you've read and thought of a million times before). She looked lost in a happy way, and the light that seemed to play hide and seek with her beautiful hair, somehow managed to pass through the tiny little spaces, to land on her face. I could not help but peep out of my window to look back as I drove forward - wish I had experienced this in slow motion. She looked beautiful.

As I drove along, the smile obviously stayed longer and the strumming of the acoustic guitar (as if playing somewhere far away in the background), continued to be my companion. The almost divine experience lead me to ask this question aloud - 'You exist everywhere, don't you?" And no, I wasn't thinking of the girl - but talking to god at that time. 'Yes' came a voice from inside, to which I said - 'Well then, have a conversation with me'. And for the next 45 minutes as I drove around with the morning breeze kissing my face, I had no mental maps. What I had instead, was a date with divinity. 

Divine of course it was, but through this experience, we shared our joys, some of my 'not so happy' experiences ('coz god only seemed to have happy ones), thoughts around what the larger purpose of life is, and people who we love and care about. In bits and pieces - I also shared with god, my experiences of the mad after party I went for in Barcelona. Strange how we discussed just about everything...

At the end of those 45 minutes, the pleasantries happened and we decided that we will meet yet again - sometime soon, whenever I wanted to. 'How unconditional' I thought - my date was ready to meet me WHENEVER I wanted to!

While there were a lot of things my divinely beautiful date left me with, what he made me realise (yet again), was that he has and always will be a part of me. Strangely enough, he seems to think that I don't take him out on as many dates as he deserves to.

And just so I start doing this more, here's hoping I see those pretty faces more often, and the next time hopefully in slow motion!

Jokes apart - if my inner voice could be GOD just for those 45 minutes today, maybe there is god inside each one of us.

After all, I am only as human as each one of you...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

And After The Bagel Shop...


So life happened yet again, on my last trip. This time I was in Mumbai for the weekend catching up with my best buddy who I hadn't met for over 3 months.You know, when one is that close (like how I am with my best bud), 3 months can seem like a lifetime. Funny how then, when people live for a healthy, long 60 years, and finally go up above, we end up saying ' poor guy, he wasn't that old after all' This brings me back to my belief of how everything in life is relative and more importantly its about HOW you live your life instead of HOW LONG you life it for!

Saturday afternoon, and we were catching up over brunch in this lovely, quaint little place - The Bagel Shop. Love how Mumbai has so many different characters and contrasts - be it from a noisy street, to taking a left turn 10 meters ahead, to enter a shop like the one above. Think about people? - well you find all kinds - from a common man, to a celebrity munching on the same thing in the same shop. So different, yet so similar, isn't it? - it surely is a place that binds people in someway or the other.

So we wrapped brunch at around half 1, when my buddy decided to go do a meeting, and I decided to catch up on this friend who I had not met in a while - yes, I was busy catching up. Little did I know, that meeting with her would result in what I am writing right now and you would read in sometime!

A little background - I have know this friend for almost a couple of years, and if any of you want to find her, do not WATCH out for her, but 'HEAR' out for her. She is all of 4'11'? ok... 5 feet and full of life. So before you can see her, you would hear her. Why? She had an energy that is infectious, confidence that is unmatched and a smile that would put an uneasy soul to rest in a second! She is someone who has the ' I don't give a FU&^' attitude and is forever happy. So yes, this was the person I was going to meet. Who I discovered that day turned out to be nothing close to this, but at the same time a lot more endearing. Yes, this is what happened, After The Bagel Shop....

This was a new house that she had moved into, and the house warming party which was originally planned, never happened. What happened instead was me getting a lot of time with her, which was brilliant. The new house was small, and had a very warm vibe to it - strange how the owners look for themselves when they look for houses! I gave in to my temptation and became a temporary smoker (eventually) over our chai and sutta sessions. Let me also share, that most of what I had seen of dinku (not the real name), was her in her workspace. So this truly was the first time we met per se..

The conversations started over the customary 'what have you been upto', what each of us thinks about bollywood, how relationships have become so transactional etc etc. So while the topics were visibly (and audibly) diverse, the GOOD constant factor was the ginger tea. Finally round 3, is when I agreed to make tea, which is when dinku and I got talking about things about us - me about me and her about her. Trying to be the chivalrous man that I want to be - I let her take over and do most of the talking. Our steps outside of the kitchen, led us to her little verandah, which opens out to a lovely tree with shades of green, red and maroon leaves. As we stood there and spoke, it was as if dinku shed her inhibited side, just like how the tree had shed all its leaves. Or maybe on second thoughts, I saw in dinku, the new colorful leaves, which she had been trying to hide for so long.

Dinku that day, spoke about her life, what she is passionate about etc. As she spoke, I gradually saw the fun side in her giving way to the thoughtful, contemplative person, which I now believe lives inside each one of us. Dinku looked into the open sky up above while talking, as if looking out for divinity to help her find some answers. This fun person who I had known all this while, suddenly, I realized was also a person who had been hurt very deep. No prizes for guessing it was a man and yes the impact it left on her was similar to how you and I would also feel - hurt, betrayed, scared to open our heart out and not feel like a 'teenager' when one is in love. What made her different (in my mind), was how she handled the last 8 years since then. She chose to be the stronger one and 'TAKE CHARGE' of her life, her career, her job, herself.

In the process - WOW! she turned out to be this person who you would take an instant liking to and want to know more. So the last 8 years (outwardly), had been happy. Inside, dinku was a classic dichotomy. She had a mind that was crowded and noisy (more than all the mumbai chawls put together), a heart that was beautiful but scared, and a soul that wanted only love, but also ran away from it, by not giving in as much.

By the end of it all, while I saw a different person in her, I also realized that she was similar to all of us. Similar in how she got hurt, how her heart was also dented and bruised like ours and how she wanted love all over again, but was scared of it at the same time. Its really strange, how what we call ' A MAJOR' heartbreak, or a relationship that makes only 10% of our overall lifespan (mathematically), impacts us so much. So much, that we overlook every other thing, person and soul around us.

Dinku today is on the crossroads of life and turning a new leaf - she quits her job to travel without a plan, and more importantly she thinks (only thinks) that she is ready to love - all over again. While its taken almost 8 years of her being in a shell, not loving and chasing the wrong people to realize this,and start living and loving her life - hopefully most of all the other people I know and some of you who are reading this wont take that long!

So dinku and to a few of you who are reading this - here's to you and you discovering life and love all over again - CHEERS!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Someone Somewhere


If nothing else, the one thing that has been a constant in my life for the last 1 month is travel. While I would have flown in 1 month, what an air-hostess does in 6, I have been sensitive enough to not ask for a salary (from the airline people) to fly this often.

You know, this world... when you look at it from 39,000 feet above the ground, looks the same - I mean the clouds, the stars, the ground, the buildings - everything. And both species who apparently own all of this are the only ones who are not visible - us humans and god!

So anyway, on my way back from Jaipur to Bangalore yesterday - as always, I was sitting on my window seat - contemplating about life (and i feel like I am 50 when I do this - and considering I have been doing this for a while now, I have been 50 for at least a decade!), when a thought came to my head. What are the things that could possibly be happening at this moment as I cover my distance to get closer home. What unraveled was the following, and hence the name - 'Someone Somewhere'...

Someone somewhere's playing a song...
Someone somewhere's pulling along

Someone somewhere's just woken up
Someone somewhere's AGAIN woken up, says he - 'I have woken up, I have woken up'

Someone somewhere's looking into the open sky
Someone somewhere just looked at god (again) and questioned him 'Why'

Someone somewhere passed a friendly 'hi'
A lover looked at his own somewhere and said there will never be a 'forever' goodbye

Someone somewhere's feasting on a meal
Someone somewhere's trying hard to heal

Someone somewhere's trying to hide
Hey look at this other, his heart is beaming & swollen with pride

This other I met, just got hired
Someone somewhere oops! just got fired

The guy next door just got in
The girl close by - looked at him and gosh had that 'lovey dovey' grin

Someone somewhere's making love all night
And look at these other 2 lovers - would they never unlearn to fight?

Someone somewhere's just given birth to a life
Someone somewhere's just completed the circle of life

Someone somewhere just learn to walk
Look at my baby, she said (the other) - he just learnt to talk

Someone somewhere just got the fuzziest hug
Damn! a poor guy in NY - he just got mugged!

2 lovers just met after years of staying away
Someone somewhere just said to their lover - stay, please stay...

A priest in church just started a mass
Someone somewhere defined god in class

A couple somewhere just got wed
Ah! Look at those faces - they look so red

Someone somewhere just won a fight
Someone somewhere again failed to have the insight

Someone somewhere uttered a lie
Said in the same breath - 'i promise to love you till i die'

Someone somewhere just got hurt
Asked himself - did that have to be so curt

Someone somewhere's seeking god
Not by seeking him within, but by reading holy scriptures and chanting out aloud - 'Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord'

Someone somewhere is crying tears of joy
Someone somewhere's only seeking joy

Someone somewhere faked a smile
Someone somewhere just won a smile

Someone somewhere is falling in love
Someone somewhere's seeking love

Someone somewhere is running late
Someone somewhere's got all the time - hence he only meditates

Someone somewhere's walking all alone
Someone somewhere's trying to get out of the 'bloody' heavy traffic zone

Its morning somewhere's and the sun is shining bright
Someone somewhere's just kissed 'em all good night

Someone somewhere's playing along
A lot of the others, well they are just holding on...

Someone somewhere's looking at the stars
Trying to talk to the healing scars

And on a lighter note...

Someone somewhere will read my blog
and say in admiration - 'Wow, Oh my god! oh my god!'

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Circle Of Life


I have often wondered and asked myself this question - How would it be if the circle of life was to be turned around, and the end of our life was actually what we know as the beginning today. In simpler words - our life would actually end by us going back to our mother's womb. Just the visual of the security, warmth, love and care of that zone makes me want this so badly right now. Picture this - us going back to being babies who are a mere 25 centimeters long, sucking our thumbs, surrounded by all the TLC of the 'mother zone', when we die. Awesome, isn't it?

So let's explore, imagine and create a world like this for ourselves and be that person, who (for example sake), happens to be the only one to go through this 'reverse circle of life'. And before we proceed any further my dear reader, let's JUST be imaginative, and break out of the shackles of trying to 'LOGIFY' this deeply emotional and hopefully a wonderful thought.

Let's start by knowing that if you are a man you would be born at the age of 70 and women at the age of 80 (per a latest survey that i read online, that's the average life span for the respective genders). What we surely don't want to explore or imagine is this - 'how on earth could our parents have conceived us, with us being like this'. All we are focussing on is you, me & 'US' being born at at the age of 70/80. And to make this thought divine, let's also consider that we were like this gentle leaf floating all over mankind, till god assigned us to our respective parents, for us to be taken care of and brought up (maybe brought down in this case?).

Key things that stay a constant with this reversal - the joy of us coming into this world would still blossom (hopefully), our teeth would still be missing (most of them if not all) and we would need a lot of love and care at that age still (Ogden Nash rightfully calls the old age 'The second childhood' stage).

Let's brace ourselves now and get into this fancy world to imagine WHAT WOULD CHANGE. Fathom this - we would be born as people who would have had their own experiences in life (already). So the phrase 'Born Free' in that sense would not be applicable to us. If you are wondering why, let's pause and think. Take yourself to be where you are in your life emotionally right now. Are you as free spirited as you were, when you were born as a kid(in the normal circle of life)? Do you still do things you want to do, completely oblivious of the people and the environment around you? See what I am trying to say? But yes, the upside to this, with experience comes knowledge and with knowledge comes wisdom. So to summarize we would be be 'BORN WISE & SORT OF FREE' - doesn't sound that bad after all.

As we age or rather grow younger, following is what would happen - Instead of working towards building a career, we would start with one, instead of walking into kindergarten in our formative years, we would walk into a swanky cabin, instead of wearing the bubble gummers we normally walk around in, we would be sporting Prada's, instead of us being pampered by our parents with the 'Johnson & Johnson' cosmetics, we would garnish ourselves with the MACs and the BVLGARIS of the world, instead of wearing diapers, we would start by sporting the Calvin Kleins and the Victoria's Secret, & for the majority population that is sexually 'normal', we would not be born as virgins!!! - Crazy isn't it?

In a nutshell, we would be born with everything we desire to have (in our current lifecyle). Things that we would die for today (by the end of our lives in the current cycle), are things that we would be born with and die without, if the clock were to turn. Which if you were to think of is one of the most amazing things to happen - let me show you how.

Go back in time and replay the following - the first 6 months of the relationship that you are in right now, the first 30 days of your first job, the first drive / ride you took all by yourself when you learnt to do it, the first time you 'made love' to the one you love / loved - sweet,cherished, fond and happy memories, right? The commonness in all of this is 'FIRST' - a word that signifies inception, freshness, a new beginning, a new start. Now link this to what you were reading earlier and think - you would by the end of your life, actually come closer and go back to the 'start point' of life. The finish line of your 100 m race would be the line where you now take guard. And yes, you won't cover this running it down like a bullet train. You would crawl, pause, notice a few things (maybe a lot), and then reach the end point. You will for sure take more time, and for sure, you would enjoy it more. And by the time you finish this race, complete it and win it, u wont be the 'BIG GUY' (phrase, nothing to do with gender). You would have turned into this 25 centimeter long person that we earlier spoke about, and as against the usher standing at the end of the line with the flag, you would go back into the womb that you come from today, with your mother waiting their with all her love for you. Wow, what a way to end life - perfect!!

Zooming back into reality (as I 'sort of' lye on my bean bag), I can't help but connect to the feeling / reason that triggered this thought in me. I am for sure a young, successful, richer, maybe a good looking guy too. Nothing can take away from the fact that I am happy with how my life is as well. But you know, with all of this, what I have also become is conditioned, opinionated, suspicious, wary and in that sense closed. You see, while I was 'Born Free' I wonder if I would 'LIVE & DIE FREE' too (in a true sense). So what makes me want to reverse the 'CIRCLE OF LIFE' is the desire to be FREE again. Freedom from my conditioned mind, the conditioned people & the opinionated world. Funny how I want to go back to start point, when with each passing day I know, we all come closer the end.


Knowing very well that this so can't happen, what am i going to do? Well, you must have figured by now, that like all of you, I was born free too. And the only for me to 'DIE FREE' and make the most of me being 'BORN FREE' is to 'LIVE FREE'. So while the circle of life may not turn the other way, the drift surely will.