Wednesday, December 31, 2008

height of helplessness

A visit to Tiruvannamalai always begets stories of the Gurus and their gopis.

The non-believers who are pulled in by the Mountain against their conscious choice, are continuously aghast at the goings on. It's fun to hear them talk.

Sample this from an English school teacher, who now runs a restaurant, Manna Cafe, in Tiru.

'If I put you in a corner, and make you sit down, and pray to you, waving lights in your face, you will start glowing in a week.'

'Yes, I suppose so. But what is your point?' I ask.

'This fellow, Nithyananda, must be secretly amused by all the women going ga-ga after him, falling at his feet.'

'Why?' I ask.

'Because he is a nice fellow. I saw him in town the other day. He has a nice smile.'

'Doesn't he?' I smile.

'Aw, shut up!'


And this German fellow who has now become a guru of sorts, giving talks informally.

'Its nice to sit with you.' I say to him.

'Yes, I am always sitting with myself.' he replies. We all laugh.

'Did you hear of how Yogi Ram Surat Kumar left his body?' he says, after a while.

'Wasn't he in coma?'

'He was Unplugged!'

'Oh! By whom?'

'By his disciples!'


'Yes. They waited till Maha Shivaratri! They put a spring under his arm and the spring went up and down as the devotees came to get his blessings. The poor fellow was in coma, giving blessings to his devotees by a spring! And on Maha Shivaratri they Unplugged him!'

'Disciples are heartless!', says the almost guru, revealing his deepest fears?

'Its the height of helplessness, isn't it?'


'We are not going to Tiru again!' wails my hubby. (About a week before we end up in Tiru).

'It's always Tiru, Tiru, Tiru! You are demented! You cant see any other place in the whole world. God made lots of other nice places to go to. He didn't make only the Mountain. The kid needs more exposure, I need a change, I need a break from Tiru.'

'Ok, ok. Calm down. Here, have a glass of water.'

He drinks water.

'Mountain se mera sir pak chuka hai.' (My head is cooked by the Mountain).

'Ok. So where do you want to go?'

'You agree?' he is incredulous. 'Yipee!'

'Where do you want to go?' I ask.

'We can go to Gokarna beach. It's a cool place.'

'Sure. But Christmas is peak time. Make a booking first.'

'Ok. ' A few calls later, he gives me the deal. ' Swiming pool, fifteen hundred per person, per day, so it will be three point five k for three days. Perfect.'

'Fifteen hundred per person? We are three of us. So that is three point five into three k. And swiming pool? In December? Who swims? You want to learn swiming?'

'Ok, I will make more enquiries. I have to go out now. I will call you.'

In half an hour, he calls.

'We will go to Tiru only.' he says.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Barefoot in dreams?

I'm trying to remember whether I dream about wearing footwear, and I don't think I do. I think I'm just barefoot as normal in most of my dreams. Do other barefooters dream barefoot as well?

And with this thought foremost in my conscious mind, I shall go now to sleep.

Dream fairy, please don't give me a nightmare that I am wearing uncomfortable shoes. Let me dream of walking, running on wet meadows, lakes, clouds...yes, barefoot.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

New Year Resolution

I know its not new year yet, but I want to practice this resolution for a bit before I make a resolution and fail immediately. Because that would dampen the spirit and the strength of the resolution.

My resolution is the hardest I have ever made. All my life, I have been a late riser and a procrastinator. Somehow, I feel these two are related. So I have decided to wake up at six am every single morning, for at least one continuous month, January 2009.

So I went and bought myself a Christmas gift: A Brand New Alarm Clock.

It has the following features:

  • It is bulky, so it cant be kept on the bed, and so it wont get switched off by hubby (which is what he does to my mobile every morning).
  • It has an alarm that goes on and on till I hit it on the head, after which it gives out a cheerful 'good morning'.
  • It does not have the snooze option.
I am going to keep it in the other room, so that I will have to get out of bed.

Another effort that goes in to transform my tamasic nature: I am going to practice getting up and out of bed immediately after hearing the alarm clock, as suggested by this very interesting piece of advice on how to get up early.

This article basically suggests that we should get into bed with mosquito net, nightie, et all, during the day and set the alarm for ten minutes later. As soon as it goes off, smile, stretch, and get up. Repeat everyday for as many days as required for you to get your mind trained to do this in the mornings too.

The scientist who claims to have succeeded at this experiment, says that after an age-limit, no amount of self scolding works. The only way to make a habit out of something is by getting into the habit consciously, only when you are awake.

If it works, as an experiment it is a great secret to master.

Besides, it is a little weird. So I have to do it.

So this is why I bought the alarm clock today, so that I have a few days practice. Now you know how I am going to spend the Christmas holidays, get into bed, listen to the alarm, get out of bed, an hour later, get into bed...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

sound bytes from Tiruvannamali

I wish I had a camera when I went to Tiru for the weekend. Actually, I did have a camera when I went to Tiru.

Here are the pictures:

Walking barefoot with thousands of devotees around the mountain, the grace flowing continuously in the form of water from a big water tanker ahead, washing and cooling the road.

Swami Nithyananda doing a namaste to the Mountain. Tilt down to Swamiji's feet. No, he wasn't barefoot.

A tired devotee sitting on a cement on Pradakshina road bench with eyes closed.

Devotees lying on plain mud, fast asleep by the roadside, exhausted from the dancing and singing and walking miles barefoot.

A big open space just in front of the rear most end of the mountain (more about this later), people getting plastic chairs to plonk themselves, reserving their spaces hours ahead of the master's talk.

Reporter-devotee too tired to sit under the sun. She goes to the book stall and settles on a chair with a book.

An hour later, reporter-devotee finishes entire book, and when she thinks noone is watching, walks away from stall with chair and joins the masses.

Two hours later, Nithyananda swami makes entry. Crowds go wild. Old ladies fall off plastic chairs (on which they were standing).

Devotee looks at mountains rear end and wonders if the mountains beauty is stone deep. (There are too many trees from this angle, and devotee does not feel the familiar 'oh so beautiful my mountain'). So much for the greening movement.

Another two hours later, stage comes to life. Swamiji's school headmaster is garlanded, etc. Talk begins. The topic is, 'The Bliss that is Arunachala.' The language is Tamil. There is no translation.

Suddenly, two words pop out from the Tamil as meaningful. Spiritual Incubator. Followed by the bliss factory. Arunachala.

How to have a happy holiday

Question : Why is a vacation more stressful than normal peaceful days?
Answer : Because people who go on vacation think the world is going to come to a grinding halt without them !! indispensable.. .ha...... realize that everything goes on....just as it is supposed to.... we are the audience ..we come n go...

So chill guys, have a ball.
Merry Xmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Deep mood

'You are in a deep mood since afternoon aren't you?' he asks, across the table, looking up from his laptop.

'Yes. How did you know?'

'Shakal se hi lagta hai, bara baje hai.' he replies. (Sorry, this is not translatable.)

This always happens to me just before I set off for Tiruvannamalai. I think of all the reasons I shouldn't go, then I convince myself that I am not going, after that I barely manage to not cry.

And then, I go.

This time, the pull is double power. Swami Nithyananda is going to walk around the mountain on Sunday, with an expected number of twenty thousand devotees.

I missed going to Tiru for Deepam for this pradakshina.
I have even got my white suit stitched.
Just because hubby and kid are ditching me for a village trip somewhere, should I not follow my own star?

The problem is, there is no question of should or shouldn't here. The problem is, I am free to go either way. The problem is, I will miss the family when I look at the Mountain.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

If only my mother had thought like my husband

It has been a long evening. I am especially irked because Papa did not help with the kid's homework. After Pavan is safely tucked in bed, I crib.

'You know, Papa, I would be really grateful if you take some interest in the brats education.'

'Whose education?'

I give him a look. 'Your sons!'

'I don't think that's a good idea.' he says.

'And why not?' I demand an answer.

'Because I fear for the poor fellow. If I teach him seriously, I will do some irreparable damage. Let him be a gavaar. At least he will be happy. He can always take adult education classes when he grows up. That will be cheaper than a life long shrink.'

Monday, December 15, 2008

Birds and bees

'You know Ai, the ear drum is only two centimeters inside the ear.' said my little boy at the dinner table this evening.

'Really? I didn't know that.'

'Yes. My teacher only told. And, therefore, you should never never put a stick inside the ear because the eardrum will break and it will be very painful.' he shudders for effect.

'Yes, you are right. Your teacher is a smart lady, she knows so much, na? What else did you learn in class today?' I am impressed at his ability to recall and vocalize all these details.

As usual, I get impressed too fast.

'And a little girl can have a little baby. A very small baby.' He shows his palm.

'No, Kiddo. Little girls cant have babies.'

'My teacher only told. You don't know, Ai. Its there in all the body parts. Its very small in a little girl.'

'No, Pavan, little girls cant give birth.'

'But my teacher told...'

'Your teacher told you wrong! Or you learnt it wrong, more likely.' Why was I shouting? Thankfully the phone rang and he ran to answer it.

Leaving me alone to ponder on an important parenting step.

Was it Dr. Spock who said that a question must be answered when it is asked? When it is so difficult to get him to understand phonetics of spelling, I am at a total loss as how to explain about the birds and bees.

Should I pass on the job to Papa?

Wouldn't it be better to do it together?

Oh, boy, we are going to have to prepare for this class. Anyone out there have any idea how to explain the facts of life to an eight year old?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Silver and Carbon

I have decided, I am going to sell all my gold ornaments and buy silver ones. This is the silver decision.
And, I am going to burn all my rotis a little bit, and not scrape off the black from a toast ever again. This, yes, you guessed right, is the carbon decision.

All because I met a chemistry professor today who told me the benefits, and healing properties of silver and carbon in day today life.

She told me she makes carbon capsules which go a long way in helping gas problems on long distance flights. Carbon is very good for the stomach. And silver is good for skin problems. So she makes creams with silver powder and is doing research on different patients with skin problems. Till now, she has succeeded 100%, with 30 to 40 patients. She goes to hospitals in search of patients and doctors use her silver cream.

But she doesn't want to get into the messy business of mass producing and selling and all that. But just remember that silver and carbon are very friendly fellows so lets make friends with them.

In fact, I suddenly remembered the structure of carbon. It has four hands, so it is really very friendly.

This lady has taught chemistry for thirty five years, and is now retired, but she is not done yet.

I love such people. They are a perfect mix. They live life completely.

May I give her the PROXIMIDADE award, Smita?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Amle ka Murabba : a simple recipe

Almost as much as I miss her, I miss my grandmother's cooking. If I ever eat something that tastes like her food, I get tears in my eyes.
For my grandmother, food was equivalent to love. Food had to be hot, it had to look colourful, and the person eating had to be hungry. This, she would say, is the secret to good food.
Till she was alive, I believed her.
Now, I know better.
The secret to good food?
My grandmother's touch.

This particular recipe is my father's discovery. The amla is not boiled, so he claims that the vitamin content must be ten times more. In fact, he wanted to patent it so I called him and asked for permission to publish.

Here it is.

Kacche Amle ka Murabba:

Buy 2 or 3 Kg's of fresh amlas, they are available right now. (You don't have to buy less for trial, this wont go wrong.) Stuff them in the freezer overnight. Next day, they will have gone soft. Remove them from the fridge, and after an hour, cut them into halves, and take out the seeds. Put it in a glass jar. Mix in some sugar or organic jaggery, till the amlas are totally drenched in the sweetness.

Shake the bottle, keep it in the sun for a day. Your nutritous, yummy amle ka murabba or amle ka jam is ready. No need to boil the amlas, or the sugar.

Try not to overeat, too much vitamin C can give you a cold. This is also a remedy for constipation, so you can imagine the result if you overeat. Me talks from experiance only. :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A pat on my back

I got this award from Smita, the book lover blogger.

This award is given to a blog that invests and believes in PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.
I am not sure I fit the bill. Some of my friends accuse me of being an obsessive, addicted blogger.
I lack consistency in style, subject, and object of my obsessions.

On the other hand, I have some fans too. My father thinks my blog should be published, like a book. ;)

Me thinks these awards are like comments, self generated, albeit a nice compliment.

An award is an award, and so, thank you, Smita.

I pass on this award to :

Banno : A fellow FTIIan, I feel closer to her as a fellow blogger than I ever did before.

Insane Mama Blogger : Whenever motherhood overwhelms me, I escape to this blog and feel, phew, its not as bad as this. I like her music too.

Nehas blog: My hubby knew her before he met me. She was my first inspiration. So I should actually call her my blogging guru.

Johnathan's blog : I must admit I cant get myself to read all his posts. But I knew him before I met my hubby, so he has to be included. :)

FTIIians sad childhood blog
: Maybe its because I have a weak memory, that I find it very difficult to relive my past. Or maybe it is spiritual progress that keeps me in the present moment.

Jabbaa's blog : Now you know what I call him. He is here for the record, I don't read him either. :)

Best friend's blog : Her I cant read often enough. Problem is, she has a shortage of ink in her pen. She has also designed the cover of my novel.

Homeopathic doc : His first posts are very cute and honestly written. In fact, I used one of them in my writing class. I asked the students to edit it and they just couldn't. :)

Mad Momma: In spite of myself, I cant get over this addiction. Her posts are far too long, she hogs my time, but she is good. She is a one-way friend in absence.

Keep writing, guys.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Meditate on your way to the office!

This is for the city dwellers, those who do not, cannot walk around bare foot, or otherwise.

Those who have to travel amidst pollution almost everyday and feel miserable about it.

Those who love moving their bodies for no reason. (For ex, my wiggling toes, thinking that they are typing.)

Please try this and let me know if you get it. I remember a very clear image. A bus. Me and a cousin, just into teenage. We were sitting on the last row of seats. The cousin smiling impishly, and moving his body along with the jerky movements of the bus. It somehow looked rhythmic, almost like a dance. He was also tonelessly humming along, which means his breath was also co-ordinated with the movements of the bus.

This, by the way, is the first step. Swamiji will take you higher, I assure you.

Flying with her feet

Just read about this lady with no arms, flying an airplane with her feet!

And to think we use ours only for walking.

An epitome of beauty

Weekend Meditation in Bangalore

This is an announcement, for a weekend meditation camp near Hebbal lake, in Bangalore.

Its called Life Bliss Program level 1 - ASP

Understand and energize your chakras –

get the keys to a life of bliss

LBP Level 1 - ASP

Did you know a secret of life? The true nature, the core of you is BLISS. Then, why are you caught in the sea of emotions – the high of love followed by the low of jealousy, the high of confidence collapsing into the low of worry, …?

We have seven chakras or subtle energy centers in our body which are responsible for all the powerful emotions we go through. LBP Level 1 - ASP is a program where you can learn what the chakras are about and how to use them so you can lead a life of joy.

Schedule: Saturday, 13th December, 9 am to 6 pm and Sunday, 14th December, 9am to 6pm.

Contact: Chetna at 08023532656

Cost: Rs. 1000

This course is designed by Swami Nityannada. You will learn meditations that are inspired by different religions and sects in the world.

I have posted my personal response after attending this course here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

a song for the barefoot Ram

This morning I saw two sadhus walking in the opposite direction.

'Jai Ramji Ki', one of them said, smiling at my bare feet.

'Ram Ram bhai,' I smiled back, thrilled to have something in common with a sadhu. It was such a beautiful moment, to feel connected to someone with a free spirit.

I wish I could have sung aloud this song to them.

To walk down the town,
'You don't need no food to eat,

All you need is two bare feet.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Gym out on the road

Doesn't this look simply fabulous? Isn't this too good to be true? That this fellow is walking to his office, inside a grass wheel, and that too barefoot?

I want this grass wheel. I wonder how to turn it, though. Or how to maneuver it through heavy traffic. Even if I cant take it out, I want it. I shall sit in it and read my book. Or rock in it. I feel as if I could spend half my life inside this wheel.

I wonder how to water the top part. It has to roll, no?

I got this here, by the way.

P. S. Pavan, my eight year old genius, just saw this post and these are his comments:

It will go very fast, you will have to run fast, and then you will bang into something.

But you can control the speed by going back words.
But you might still bang into something.

I will make for you another design. You will have a break, and wheels and a seat. Like a car!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Benefits of Bare footing

Those of you who are intrigued but not yet convinced about bare footing, please read my article here.

It explains why bare footing is a Naturopathy healing technique, how babies don't learn to walk wearing shoes, the precautions and care for feet that walk bare, and the least harmful footwear for the barefoot community.

Btw, anyone knows how to get in touch with M F Hussain? No, I don't want to talk about bare footing with him, I just want his blessings that my book sells.

I was actually trying to upload an image of my child's bare feet, but the mountain has come to mohammed!

This is Pradakshina road, and it is kept clean by the pilgrims because they walk on it barefoot.

Goes to say that if more and more people walked bare foot, we would have cleaner roads, healthier feet, and happier (if a little hippier) public.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

mumbai, my mother

I am a runaway from mumbai. Just like I have run away from my own mother dear. Which is to mean that I don't love either any less for it.

Mumbai was the dream and nightmare rolled into one for me. I remember being frightened of the city when I shifted there post FTII. I remember sitting on the sea front at Marine Drive, looking at the tiny light holes of windows from buildings at across the deep blue water. I felt that all of us are ants, living in ant holes.

My struggle, was not very intense. I was too lost within the inner world to be too affected by the rat race. I was robbed and cheated, but I survived. The freinds from the Institute became too busy with work, and I remember saying to my mum, 'I wish I had a boyfreind,' when I had to shift from one rented apartment to another.

My relationship with Mumbai, the city changed dramatically when I met Ramesh Balsekar. Local trains were fun because they took me to his house. I remember singing, standing on the door of the train, holding the pole, the sun on my face.

I fell in love with Mumbai, however, only when I met Baba. We called him Fakruddin Baba, he sat on the wall next to Jahangir Art Gallery. Baba used to have a weighing machine on the roadside, and he charged one rupee. Adults got their weight, children got a false note with their weight written on it.

Sitting on the wall, next to Baba, sipping the constant cups of tea, and watching mumbai rush past. The elite, the artists, the working class, the drug addicts. On sundays , more children, with their mommys, walking towards Gate way of India. To see the Taj Hotel. Our own Taj mahal of Mumbai.

During one of the occasional times that I have ventured inside the coffee house, I saw Jaya Bacchan and Shah Rukh Khan. Jaya was chilling, Shah Rukh was walking. Fast, like a mumbaikar.

I wondered where Shah Rukh learnt that walk. I thought only the train catching public walked like that. Or maybe we all learnt that walk from him?

As I blog to mourne Mumbai, I just read of a bomb blast in Assam.

I have been to Assam too, once as a kid, and once to shoot a documentary film.

I wonder now, how many more bombs will blast before we become an emergency state, before we declare that we are in war - but with whom? If we war with Pakistan, how do we deal with bombs bursting in Assam?

This morning I chatted with a friend in mumbai who is hit where it hurts. Her film is released recently, and she is scared it is going to flop because people are too scared of going to theaters. I told her I will pray for your film.

And then, I got a call from my sister, who lives in mumbai. She said that a couple of terrorists may still be on the lose, so should she go for a peace rally or not? I said wait for a week, stay at home please.

If this split can happen to me sitting in Bangalore, I wonder what is happening to the spirit of mumbai? How many times can a city stand up after being raped? Doesn't she need to take a break, to heal herself?

Are there more people in temples, in meditation camps, in psychiatrist's clinics? Are the drug peddlers making more money than usual? Are estranged lovers making up? Old friends calling each other after years and years. Old people getting visits from the youngsters. The beggars getting more money in the traffic lights. I wonder if a cyclist in Bandra is singing on top of his voice? Are scriptwriters fired with imagination and writing more violent films?

If I were in mumbai now, this is what I would look for. This de-clutching from the fast walk.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Utha dheere dheere,

I know I am becoming a professional bare footer these days, because I have started taking my eyes off from the road directly ahead. And noticed, in the evening sky, a hauntingly beautiful triangle these days, of two bright planets and the slim curve of the moon.

If only I could capture on my camera. Better still, lets just enjoy nature and let it go as we sleep.
If any of you guys have an ounce of romance left in your souls, do look west wards tomorrow evening, for these guys in a triangle up there do not twinkle.

I have no idea why the moon has so gone out of fashion. Maybe because there are too many lights all around our cities.

Here is a moonly song from Chori chori. It stars Raj Kapur, Nargis, and the moon.