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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Arunachala from a temple


Those of you who want to visit this mountain, start planning. Deepam, a festival of ten days after which the top of the mountain has huge ghee lamp on it that can be seen from the pradakshina road, has started.

It's the loveliest of times to be in Tiru.

Mashallah ka spelling

This started as a comment on Mad Mommas blog and it became so long that it has become a post.

Both me and my hubby are going crazy trying to teach our kid spellings. Last night, after we put the boy to bed, we were watching Chocolat, which had a boy with a too strict mum, hubby had tears in his eyes.

'Aren't we being too strict with him?' he asked.

'Yup. It's the computer age. Her doesn't need to know his spelling s perfectly.' I offered.

'Have you seen his spellings?' he asked.

'Well, I don't need to. I have been trying to get the concept of vowels in his head now for more than an year .'

'Lets see if you, or your computer, or the one who wrote them, can make out what these words are.'

1. vaega

2. yung

3. commande

4. fretent

5. roste

6. corke

7. sartenle

8. permmstes

9. pretes

10. Dapchre.

As I write in these apologies for words, Pavan is biting my shoulder. Any teachers out there, or parents, please help.

My first bare foot busride

With the reluctance of the lazy suburbian, I ventured out into Bangalore city. I had to get print outs of the cover of my about to be published novel, A Grasshopper's Pilgrimage, select the best version and pack it off to the publisher in Delhi.

Since there was no way to delegate the job, I got ready. After weeks of bare footing in Yehlanka, I put my feet in two black prisons and got on the bus. I stumbled as I climbed it, I lost my balance twice inside. And after that the whole afternoon my feet complained, they were feeling too hot and stiff.

Pavan and I both chose the cover with a grasshopper sitting on a mountain that is floating in the sky, held up by a peepal leaf. The back cover has a woman's pallu spiraling above to become a cloud, while she stands barefoot on top of the mountain. The grasshopper is bare foot too, btw.


Then we went to a DTDC courier and kissed the envelope goodbye.

And then, as soon as we got into the auto, I opened the gates to freedom. My toes wiggled happily.

'Aai, you better wear the sandals for the bus, ok?'

'But why, shona?'

'You may get hurt, no.' he cautioned.

'Don't worry, tukru. We will take a bus that is not so crowded, ok?'

'Ok, but be careful, ok?'

'You will protect me, no?'

'Yes Ai. I will protect you but then you must listen to me. You cannot do cheating and run ahead.'

'Promise.'

There is nothing much to write about what happened after, as it was uneventful. No one noticed, the bus conductor did not refuse us entry, we got off at our stop laughing and when he saw his crazy mom enjoying bare footing, the kid also removed his sandals and skipped along homeward, nange pair.

Friday, November 28, 2008

the place I am standing is holy ground,

and so I walk bare foot. This is my answer to a friend from London who wrote to me that India is not fit to walk bare foot on, not since the vedic times.

I would like to remind my friend that vedic times are still on. My mountain stands tall. Satsangs still sit and sing. Initiations happen over and over again. (At least in my case). And cows are still beautiful.

So if a cow has dunged on the road, I wouldn't dodge my step. It's all organic, babe.

Jinhe Naaz Hai Hind Per Woh Yahaan Hai

Will there be singing in the dark times ?
Yes there will be singing, there will be singing of the dark times.

by Safdar Hashmi

Dear friends across India and the world,

We're all feeling the shock of the awful attacks in Mumbai. All our hearts go out to the victims and their families.

The attacks were aimed at our people, our prosperity and our peace. But their top target was something else: our unity. If these attacks cause us to turn on each other in hatred and conflict, the terrorists will have won. They know that hatred and chaos feed on division. They also know that as radical extremists, their only hope of winning is by turning the rest of us against each other.

Let's deny them that victory. We're launching a message to extremists on all sides and all our political leaders, one that will soon be published in newspapers across India and Pakistan. The message is that these tactics aren't working, that we're more united than ever, united in our love and support to each other, and determined to work together to stop violent extremism. If millions of people sign it, our message will be unmistakable, click below to sign it and please forward this message widely:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/india_undivided/98.php/?cl_tf_sign=1

It's time to speak out, let's do it together.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

a prayer for the terrorists and the terrorised


all the pain you have known,

all the violence in your soul,

all the wrong things you have done,

I will take from you when I come.

for I am to mother you.

P. S. Here is a website that gives details of how you can help the victims.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

thank you for breaking my heart,

thank you for tearing me apart.

Now I have a strong strong heart.



This is a beautiful, tearjerker thankyou song, it addresses everyone, I guess. Sister, mother, father, lover.

I found this video because I was missing my hubby. (He is in Delhi again.)

He introduced me to Sinead O' Connor during the courting days. And he won me over by singing this song.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

my dirty happy feet


Barefoot walking started during the ASP course. No, it wasn't part of the meditations. But I have a feeling Swami Nityananda had something in mind when the only place to keep the footwear was far away from our classrooms. Walking bare foot on bare earth does get you inside the body in an instant.

Like washing clothes, I have always loved bare footing. But like you all, I was also proud of my pretty, clean feet. In fact, one of my friends once remarked, 'clean feet indicate a good character',
after noticing how clean my feet were. Even my beauticians didn't have to do too much mehnat while giving me a pedicure. So I was faithful to my Bata dr. scholls, combined with the fitness shoes combined with the acupressure chappals.

There were only two things in the world that could get me to discard the separation from mother earth: one was god, other was dance.

When I came back from the ashram, I missed the bare foot experience (meditation I have continued) and started walking to the temple barefoot. The sai temple near my house has a chunk of road around it that is full of stones and red earth, no tar.

And, for the first time in my life of err.. lots of years, I started feeling like a whole person. Like, top to bottom I am one. Like, all connected. During meditation, my feet start dancing (in my head of course). When I wake up in the morning, the floor says good morning.

So I started going grocery shopping bare foot. On tar roads, wet and dirty, my feet enjoy the tickling. Even the ouch moments are fun. I work from home, so I don't have an office to go to everyday. But any excuse to get out of the house, my feet have become walk happy. As if they have just learnt to walk.

Then I researched on google and joined a bare footers group. Trust me, this is a community of hundreds. There are guys out there who walk in snow and claim that the feet warm up after ten minutes. A lady mailed saying she recently climbed a mountain barefoot , she was slow, but she had a great time.

They face their own set of problems. Like this (frequently bare foot) lady who went to a shoe shop without shoes on and was told to get out. And this fellow who has gotten a new job that he hates because they force him to wear shoes.

One chain of mails with the subject 'wimp' argues on and on about how hypocritical is it to go all over town bare foot and take out shoes from your bag and wear them just before entering a fancy restaurant.

I asked their advice as to how I should avoid getting cracked feet. I was told to clean and moisturize my feet daily, to not bother at all, because conscious bare footing is different from those who walk unaware.

I have stopped insisting that my kid wears shoes and socks to school. He is happier in his sandals. And when he was practicing for a running race in the evenings, I used his sandals to mark the hundred meters marks. He ran bare foot in the race, and he came first! Guess what he won? A golden coin full of chocolate.


Here is an interesting e-book that covers all doubts about bare foot looseness. It's called, the barefoot hiker.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Love on T V



I watched this 'T V Interview in Seattle' video twice. Once for Swami Nityananda. And the second time I couldn't help falling in love with the interviewer.

To begin with, she is such a contrast to the Indian swami, with her cropped hair and blusher and her awkwardness and her questions. But what was so cute was to see Swamiji's magic work on her. She is smitten, bitten, kitten.

She tries her best to talk smart, but her emotions just gush out.
Especially when she says, 'What does one think about all the sufferings of the world..the babies dying, the old dying,....What do you think of it all?'

And in the end, she just looks at camera and sighs something unintelligible, 'Looking into his eyes, all that love was so incredible...'

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Delhi wallas, this is for you

This is an appeal to Delhi wallas.



For complete home grown vegetable plants with roots, to be planted and hung up in tokris, on top of a bamboo canopy, something like a big umbrella.

This canopy will have a tea stall under it.

You might wonder why. Why plant vegetables on top of an umbrella?

Urban street kids, are totally unfamiliar with the process of growing food for themselves. When there is no place for them to live, where would they find the earth to grow vegetables?

There are chai shops on every nook and corner. We plan to get a chai walla in a place like Chandni Chowk, to use this structure as a tea stall. There is a rope ladder that will take the kids up the roof of the canopy, where we have hung thirty two small round baskets in which vegetable plants will be grown. The chai wallah will ensure that the kids do not vandalize the plants. That the plants are regularly watered. In return, he gets a fancy tea shop.

This is an effort to introduce street kids to play with wet soil, to sow seeds, to watch vegetables grow and finally to eat them. Kids being an impatient lot, we first want to show them the final version, that is, vegetable plants grown in the tokris.


So, if you or anyone you know is into growing these vegetable plants at home, please donate.

Spinach, Tomato, Peas, French, Beans, Brinjal, Chilli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Mint Peppermint, Tulsi, ADHATODA ZEYLANICA (ADULSA), Aloe Vera, etc.

Your help will be appreciated and acknowledged. We will number every plant and send you a record of what is happening to it. For ex, plant number 15 fell down the canopy, but was rescued by Sanju, and now it is growing well.

We need home grown vegetables, by first week of December. Ideally, we need about ten plants of each variety, but whatever is available, is most welcome

My husband, Prayas Abhinav is doing this Public Art Project, as a part of city spinning. He has blogged about it here. The white shirt kid on the canopy is my son, Pavan. This canopy was the first prototype that we put up in Bangalore last month. We are working right now on a sturdy design that will stand by itself (this one needed to be dug in) and easily bear the weight of five kids at a time.

Contact
email: prayas.abhinav@gmail.com
Telephone : 09902591198
Address : B 7 /1 A, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi

To make it easier for you, we will send one of the boys to your house to get the vegetables.

If you know anyone who might be interested, please spread the word.



Water colours by M F Hussain

Monday, November 17, 2008

You are so sweet, ji

We always hear ' the rules '
From the female side.

Now here are the rules from the male side.

These are our rules!
Please note... these are all numbered '1 '
ON PURPOSE!

1. Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat.
You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down.
We need it up, you need it down.
You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it
down.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want.
Let us be clear on this one:
Subtle hints do not work!
Strong hints do not work!
Obvious hints do not work!
Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost
every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving
it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.


1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an
argument.
In fact, all comments become Null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are.
Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and
one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one

1. You can either ask us to do something
Or tell us how you want it done.
Not both.
If you already know best how to do it, just do it
yourself.

1 . Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say
during commercials..

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and
neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default
settings.
Peach, for example, is a fruit, not A color. Pumpkin is
also a fruit..
We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say 'nothing,'
We will act like
nothing's wrong.
We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the
hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to,
Expect an answer
you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you
wear is fine.... Really .

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless
you are prepared to
discuss such topics as Motorcars
or Football or golf, or Darts etc.


1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

1. Thank you for reading this.
Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight;

But did you know men really don't mind that? It's
like camping.

Shridi Sai's dhuni

I have a sai baba temple nearby. I like to walk barefoot twice a day, so I visit the temple. These days the lights go off at precisely seven to eight, so I take my evening walk at the same time. Walking past the temple, I love looking at the flickering lamps against the dark night.

During the ASP course I attended a few days back, we were introduced to a meditation technique that opens the ajna chakra. We sat in the dark, eyes closed, concentrating on the point between the eyebrows. After a few minutes, we opened our eyes and looked at a flickering lamps flame. Then we closed our eyes again.

Nityananda says there is not a single religion that does not have a technique to open the ajna chakra. And I remember the dhuni, the continous fire that Shirdi Sai Baba used to sit and stare at, all his life.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

kissing is bad for health,

if you are wearing lipstick. In fact, lipstick itself is bad, but when you kiss, it gets pushed in, and you (and your unsuspecting partner) end up eating the lead.

Here is the reason, proof, all that:

Something to consider next time you go shopping for lipstick......
This comes from someone who works in the breast cancer unit at Mt.SinaiHospital, in Toronto.

Lipstick contains lead. Lead is a chemical which causes cancer.
The lipstick brands that contain lead are:
CHRISTIAN DIOR
LANCOME
CLINIQUE
Y.S.L
ESTEE LAUDER
SHISEIDO
RED EARTH (Lip Gloss)
CHANEL (Lip Conditioner)
MARKET AMERICA-MOTNES LIPSTICK.
LAKME
The higher the lead content, the greater the chance of causing cancer. After doing a test on lipsticks, it was found that the Y.S.L. lipstick contained the most amount of lead. Watch out for those lipsticks which are supposed to stay longer. If your lipstick stays longer, it is because of the higher content of lead.

Here is the test you can do yourself:
1. Put some lipstick on your hand.
2. Use a Gold ring to scratch on the lipstick.
3. If the lipstick color changes to black,
then you know the lipstick contains lead.
Please send this information to all your female family members and to those husbands who cares for her wife. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Dioxin. Carcinogens cause cancer, especially breast cancer.

When I was an eight year old, I got spanked by mother dear for sharpening her lipstick with a pencil sharpener!

I must have guessed, somewhere deep down, that a lipstick is as good as a pencil....:)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Meditate, u busy people!

Meditation has a deeper impact on busy people. Tension is banging open a locked door. Meditation is opening the same door with a key. Says Swami Nithyananda, my favorite youtube star.

Islam means Peace

So said Sayeed Mirza since a long long time, before terrorism came to stay in India. This news article in today's Hindu says it again.

They have issued a fatwa which states that a terrorist is not a muslim.


Hyderabad: In a significant move, about 6,000 ulema and Muftis from different parts of India on Saturday ratified the fatwa against terrorism issued by the Darul Uloom Deoband, the renowned seminary and Islamic academic centre.

“There is no relation whatsoever between Islam and terrorism. The two are poles apart.” That is the message the ulema sent out at the two-day, 29th national session of the Jamaiat-Ulama-i-Hind, which began here on Saturday. Jamiat leaders heading different State branches affixed their signatures endorsing the fatwa issued by grand mufti Habibur Rehman.

Read rest of the article here.

Wednesday

This is not a review. I am simply chewing the process of film watching.

During the weekend wash we were told that blessed are they who live without a TV. I not only not have a TV at home, we live miles away from the theaters. So the only option is the occasional CD/DVD.

The reason that moving pictures are bad for us, we were told, is because anything more than 6 frames per second, the brain cannot process. It goes directly into the subconscious. It is like dream state, without awareness.

One way of getting out of the dream is to take a break every ten minutes of movie watching.

Another way is to blog a review after every film I see, whether I liked it or not. That way I at least get to know what went in.

Wednusday is a kadak movie. A common man becomes a terrorist. Well, not quite. He punishes only the deserving, not the public. Not through trial, but by a neatly planned blackmail strategy, in which the baddies are bombed.

Looking at it blogicaly, it does not seem the politically correct thing to do. We are a democracy, everyone deserves a trial. This is a basic human right that should not be questioned.

But when I was watching the film, I wanted the common man to succeed, I wanted to see them vilians all dead, and the common man to go scot free.

I, who blogs about 'talking to terrorists,' when I heard the terrorist introduce himself thus : 'Gujarat 2002. Fakr hai!' (I was a party to the violence in Gujarat in 2002, and I am proud of it.), I wanted him dead. Then and there. I had no desire left to talk to him.

However, we are talking about film viewing here. I wouldn't pull the trigger on a real man. Or would I?

More important, what effect will this film have on my child? I put him off to bed immediately after the film got over. Next time, I should ask him what he understood from a film.

Indeed, we are blessed that we don't have to worry about this everyday.

Having said all this, Wednesday is a chakachak movie. Naseer has done a brilliant job, as usual. His transformation from the terrorist to the common man holding a plastic bag full of vegetables is effortless. The adrenalin rush was non-stop.

But yes, I do feel like seeing a Shahrukh singing to a kajol.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How to stop smoking - chakra logic

This is very simple, if you really care for the effect.

To stop smoking, we need an alternative cigarette. Or, an alternative to the cigarette.

So why do we smoke? Forget the chemical logic, nicotine high, etc. If you are stuck on logic, read the post below.

As I mentioned in the post below, spirituality is a physical fruit. Spiritual logic is experienced in the physical realm.

Yes, so why do we smoke? According to my brain wave, we smoke to 'feel' our throat. In fact, all addiction substances, give bliss (temporarily). Smoking gives bliss through the throat, which is the seat of the vishuddhi chakra.

Here is what they explained about the Vishuddhi chakra:

The visuddhi chakra is the sense of uniqueness that all of us have. A well developed Vishudhi gives rise to poetry, performance, excellence, art.
A jealous attitude, born out of constant comparison blocks this chakra. Competition among school kids is no good for vishuddhi.

What is more relevant here, is that Vishuddhi is also the tap to the cosmic reservoir of energy.

If you have ever been on a long trek, or a walking pilgrimage, you might have seen old people who had knee problems, and did not walk much at home, also walking. Right to the top. With all the youngsters. Ever wondered where they get the energy from? God gives it to them, yes. But from where? From the Visuddhi chakra!

And they don't talk or sing, at the most they chant repeatedly. Which means, their attention is not diverted to meanings and words of songs or chatter, but to the rhythm of their breath. And, whenever we are stressed physically, the throat constricts slightly and our breathing deepens. All for the tap opening of the Vishuddhi.

The ultimate result? Thoughts slow down. Bliss.

So if you want to stop smoking, try this experiment. Next time the hand moves to the packet, start deep breathing, and put all your attention on the throat. If this doesn't work, do some spot walking, then spot running, without taking your mind off your throat, never mind the others. And if this still doesn't work, do an ASP to get the real feel of what I am talking about.

Truthfully speaking, though, I stopped smoking from the time I got his hug. My very own Mountain.

Monday, November 3, 2008

weekend wash

I have always enjoyed washing clothes. Specially white bedsheets, and thick towels. In the Institute they used to call me a dhoban, because I made such a splish splash about washing my linen. Water is such a lovely and sensuous playmate.And the highest water experience was standing chest deep in the strong flow of the Narmada. If there wasn't the fear of being drowned, I might have left my mother's hand and gone for a toss.

But why am I talking about water as a lover?

Because I feel very clean today. Like a car taken to the garage for servicing feels after the strong shower. No, that's not correct. A car is washed only from outside.

I feel cleaned from inside.

Spirituality is a physical thing. It is an apple. It has to be bitten into, to get the juice.

Ok, I just attended a two days meditation course at Nithyananda Meditation center. It's called ASP, short for Ananda Spurna Programme. We were given a notepad and I scribbled everything I could. But today I am too clean to open the pad. SO I will just give you some tag words, if you ask I will go into details.
Chakras, why some chakras don't work, which attitude will make them spin, seven meditation techniques for all seven chakras to balance, mahamantra, humming, stretching, spot walking to spot jumping (this one was incredible), making friends with darkness, gibberish, TPS - thoughts per second, etc.

We were twenty of us, and the teacher was a beautiful man who talked non-stop for two days and neither of us got tired. It never ceases to amaze me how someone can go into the basics with a fresh, crystal clarity.

Here is an excerpt : Anaahat chakra, everyone knows, is near the heart. And Heart is synonymous with love. In all languages. Unconditional love expands this chakra. And what is the opposite of that? Its attention seeking. When attention is equated to love, (something I do all the time with hubby), the heart chakra diminishes.

When a person feels a lack of attention, which she interprets as lack of love, over-eating can happen, to fill the vacuum. So attention sucking is what blocks the anaahat chakra.

Another Excerpt:

Ajna chakra, between the eyebrows, is the seat of the ego.There are three kinds of egos's
1.that which is born out of wealth
2.that which is based on intelligence, logic
3.the spiritual ego.

Money ego is easily dissolved, for money is the most ephemeral.
smart ego is much harder to bend.
and the holier than thou will never take the dip.

And so, it is the perfectionist who blocks her ajna chakra by doing everything right.
And the sloppy ones get away scot free.

Blessed , therefore, are the meek, the dirty, the stupid, the flexible, the idiots, the infidels, the happy-go-lucky, .....

But what is so delightful is the lightness of being, the clean and soft and supple breath that makes me feel like a new body and a new mind.