Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

161. Queue

“Are you in this Queue?” he asked.

“Yes and No” I answered.

He frowned. At least I thought so.

Today I was in Nasik.  Even before we started our work, people asked me whether I wanted to visit Tryamabakeshwar temple. Someone called me from Mumbai and suggested me to do so.

I have visited this temple many times and it is one of my favorite places. So, in the evening at last, people were able to convince me and thus we were there.

There was lot of crowd. One of the trustees was visiting temple then and so there was much more discipline than what is usually observed. As always, local people tried to arrange for some kind of special treatment for me – that in most of these religious places means avoiding standing in the queue. I don’t like to break the queue when so many people are standing there. If I want to visit temple, I should follow the standard procedures. If I don’t have time, well, no God needs me.  We have a mutual understanding about not needing each other.  We respect each other and let live other in peace.

I told the people around me not to bother about breaking the queue. I added that one should approach God by leaving aside material achievements – because they do not matter in the relationship with God. As the security guards did not allow ‘special entry’ today, people around me had no option but to follow the queue.

For last two days I had overworked. Lot of travel, no food on time, many challenges in the work I was supposed to monitor and had to be very patient to make people understand the next steps that were essential. I was completely exhausted and needed time to relax and refresh. Looking at the length of the queue, I said, “Ok, it looks like God does not want me to visit him today. Let us go back.”

On my casual remarks, the team around me panicked. They immediately started searching for some higher authority of the temple, with whose permission they could get me through easily. I had no energy to discuss rationality with them. My views on God are bit weird and it needed special efforts from me to communicate those to others. I realized that if I don’t stand in the queue, these people will continue to feel uneasy and they will keep on trying some or the other way to take me inside by the shortest possible way.

The only option for me to stop them was to stand in the queue as if I was really willing to visit the temple. It was hypocritical of course, but at times I have to be so – not for my own wishes, but to satisfy others.

So, I was in the queue physically and was not there at all emotionally or spiritually. Hence this:  ‘Yes and No”.

And then I kept overhearing others. Two people behind me were discussing some Rural Development Scheme of Government and were sharing secretes about ‘how to get included in the beneficiary list’. A woman standing in front of me was reading an English book but her 10 year child was not allowing her to concentrate. A woman in her 30s was chanting Shiva stotra – she broke suddenly and shouted at her 8 year daughter for some kind of misbehavior. A group of youth was planning about what they should eat in the evening. An old lady was explaining her knee-ache to other lady.   A young man was looking dreamily at some tree in the temple courtyard. A girl in jeans and sleeveless T shirt was sentimentally watching her plate in which flowers and other material for worship was kept. A group of children tried to bypass the queue and got a big scolding from elders. One elderly gentleman started his sermon on how the next generation is getting worse. I was wondering why nobody is using mobile and clicking and realized that mobile phones and cameras were not allowed inside temple premises.

The queue kept on moving. As it was a zigzag queue on every turn I had different people on my left and on my right.  I kept on hearing different versions of life – mostly material.

Nobody in that queue was willing to give up material aspects of life even when they cherished to see the God, even when they were in the presence of God.  I was not different from them as like a sponge, I was taking everything that was around me.

Was I in the queue?
Not really.

“If you are not in the queue, you are not in the queue”, again he spoke.

I was surprised.  Then I smiled.

I said, “This remark is very absurd, specially coming from you.  It is more like Zen.”

“Well, if you are not in the queue, sometimes you are also in the queue,” he added thoughtfully. I cannot imagine him smiling, but I guess he was smiling.

“Decide for yourself,” he said and disappeared.

I am still tired.
I have yet to get some nourishing food – simple but nourishing.

Who was he? What did he say? Why did he say it to me? Did that conversation really happen or as always I was just dreaming with eyes open? Why it always happens to me? Is there any seed of truth in what he said or the fatigue is getting over me? Why can’t I stop thinking?

Lots of questions. There is sort of queue of questions.

Yes, somehow, I am always in one or the other queue.

(Nasik, Maharashtra)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

160. Search

I could not help smiling even though I was little stressed.

The reason for stress was simple – Air India pilots went on strike  - once again – and though the reports said that they have joined duty – I did not know whether my flight scheduled today afternoon will take me to Delhi or not.

But anyway, there is no point in thinking too much about things which are beyond my control.

So, I was taking my breakfast with leisure.

The restaurant was such that I could overhear conversations around without any effort. The usual tourist conversations are not very interesting – so I was not paying attention to those.

Then a large family appeared. The way they came in different pairs attracted my attention. One of the pairs was a woman in 70s and a young man in 20s.  The other family members had already started their breakfast and this pair had arrived little later. They probably were grandmother-grandson.

“What would you have grandma?” the grandson asked obediently.

“Nothing” declared grandma. Then on a second thought she said, “Just bring me a cup of tea.”

Then she probably heard other members talking about various dishes available on the buffet counter.

By the time the cup of tea arrived, grandma wanted a piece of toast.  She said that as she had to take medicine, it was better that she ate something first. Initially she wanted plain toast and  then she ordered for jam. The moment the jam was offered to her, she wanted butter too.

After a minute or so she said, she won’t mind a piece of paratha and then of course she wanted some pickle with it. When pickle arrived, she asked why curd was not served. The curd came.  By the time I left the restaurant people around her were telling her how good the puri-subjee was and I am sure that would be the next order of grandma.  

I was smiling.

I guess the behavior of that grandma was not unusual. We all do the same on various occasions. All new- year resolutions are of the nature of grandma’s resolution of ‘not to have breakfast.”

Why do we get tempted? Why are we not sure about ourselves? Why do we get influenced by what others are doing? Why can’t we take decisions for which we have enough capacity to practice those? Why can’t stand to our resolutions? Why do we get carried away by our desires?

We all search for these fundamental answers. Those who get it, cross the barriers. Those who don’t are caught in the same net again and again. We never know when the search would be over. The key is to keep on searching.

(Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh) 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

159. Not Enough

When I entered Mumbai office, the first thing I noticed was that poster. Nobody remembered from where it came from, but it was there.

A young man was jumping from a hilltop into the deep sea and the poster said, 'One Life is Enough.’

I liked the poster.

People around me thought that the poster gave a contradictory message to what the organization and everybody around stood for. They wanted to remove it and I stood for it.

My teammates believed in re-birth. My team argued with me about this ‘One Life’ concept. Well, I don’t mind dreaming that in next birth I would be this and that. But I know: then I won’t remember this birth. So logically, in each life there is only one life. We should live this life fully as if it is never going to come again and that is why I liked that ‘One Life’ approach.

Moreover, I do not know anything about ‘Life after Death’ or that ultimate ‘Truth’. Many scriptures and saints have said so much about that ultimate Truth – I do respect them. However it is their knowledge and experience they are talking about; until I have that experience, I cannot talk about Ultimate Truth and series of life etc. – though I know many theories.  I am not ashamed of declaring that ‘I do not Know’.

We kept on arguing. Once when I returned from a week long tour, I found that the poster was removed and was replaced by something else.

Well, majority wins – almost always wins.  In democratic set up, one can argue and one can try to convince others, but one can’t always win. Fair enough.

Days, months, years passed by.

Now-a-days I feel that life is moving too fast. There are many things which I need to do and need to learn, but there is no time.

I would like to study Mathematics again. If time permits, I would like to spend some time on excavation site. If I get some time, I would resume my association with flute and/or harmonium. If I have some spare time, I would like to read many books. There are places to visit and there are people to converse with.  

I have an ever-growing ‘to do list’ and somewhere deep within I know that I won’t be able to all that in this one life.

Indeed; One Life is not Enough!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

158. Protest

Protest I must now, with all my powers;
The silent suffering stretched beyond limits
Has shattered me into pieces,
I wake up to the reality with tremendous confusion.
To this shameless situation, I must Protest.

All your customs and traditions, smiling an inch hypocritical;
Attack aggressively every minute.
I look at them affectionately,
But even for a moment, I refuse to be caged by a single one.
You misunderstand, misinterpret, mis-construct the truth;
Your authority I must Protest.

The mighty wings have a great potential to migrate
(Like I did in the past)
But surprisingly I prefer clinging on to this Earth
-        ----   Aimlessly, just by habit
To my inaction, inefficiency, desire binding me to the world,
I must Protest.

With all unguarded actions-reactions, meaningless at its core;
The world is created again and again, to which I do not belong.
The sharp sword of latent wisdom separates every moment from other.
I do not know why this alienation scares;
To this fear, I must Protest.

Of course, you are always there; with your tender and  loving heart;
However, you seem to be unaware that like a breeze and joyous rain
You are triggered by distant realities (I have nothing to do with them).
There needs to be a vacuum within me to attract you.
This ‘proactive’ness to seek you my dear; I Protest today.

Written sometime in October 2004 (Delhi)