About Me

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Hi, this is somebody who has taken the quieter by-lane to be happy. The hustle and bustle of the big, booming main street was too intimidating. Passing through the quieter by-lane I intend to reach a solitary path, laid out just for me, to reach my destiny, to be happy primarily, and enjoy the fruits of being happy.

Monday, October 18, 2021

The puppy-touch of unconditional love

 If one fish can spoil the entire pond, can a single lotus do the same from the side of beauty? Well, it serves a big purpose if we believe so. Let’s believe that an ounce of goodness is enough to counterbalance tons of evil. This belief itself serves a big purpose. It keeps the hope alive for love, joy and compassion.

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It is so easy to react on impulse to the instincts driven by hate and revenge, and so difficult to postpone the very same, think coolly, and take calculated measures and respond. Our success and standing in life is decided by the time gap between raw impulse and cool deliberation. As we move towards lessening this gap we take a firmer grip on the wheel of life. There comes a time when impulsive reaction and cool deliberation merge into one. Then you are in the driving seat and this mind your servant. In that position, you create, you become a creator. You are no longer a piece of mere creation. 

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A stray puppy licked my hands...its tiny tail wagging with loads of greetings. It was so friendly, so pure and honest. The puppy feels far more loving than so many smart humans having super-egos who just love to hiss and bite...hiss and bite....hiss and bite! 

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Dark is the poor sidekick of light. It just exists to provide a canvas on which the multihued colors of light get painted in dazzling arrays and patterns.

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What is the difference between love and infatuation? Infatuation is that glittering fake jewel that glitters like most of the modern things in design, pattern and finish. Love is the real gold, smiling unceremoniously with its subdued colors and toned-down purity. And all of us are jumping over the barbed wires of infatuation, our emotions bleeding, to reach the compound of love.

Maradona

 The archetypal distressed genius, Maradona, who wrote the shimmering lines of his life with his left foot (and left hand), died on November 25 at the age of 60. He always courted skirmishes on and off the field. Beginning as a cheeky burglar involved in daylight robbery, the destiny catapulted him to become the audacious marauder playing tricks with feigns, passing steps and acceleration and stops and side turns. It flummoxed the opponents.  

He had a tendency to steer around the normal as much as he veered around the defenders. To him the world itself looked like he was in a stadium, sidestepping over social norms and sometimes even the law. No wonder, he remained a pleasant, unbridled, obese trickster even long after he hang his boots. An unfettered and effervescent spirit, we may say.

The stocky paragon of Argentina pride inspired a fierce devotion. To the millions of his followers, it was a quasi-religious experience. You could love him or hate him, but you couldn’t ignore him. His innings on this planet has turned out to be a eulogy to a life in tantalizing excess ranging from superstardom to drugs to domestic abuse to guns to cocaine to involvement with organized crime: A lotus out of the muddled tumult of muddy waters. Or we can say, it was an awe-inspiring darkness coupled with the silver-lining of his genius.

He flirted with football with an impetuous cunningness. Moderation and discipline wasn’t in his dictionary for it was a testimony to excess in all he did and thought. A banner sums it up: ‘It does not matter what you have done with your life, it matters what you have done with our lives.’ He was indeed a heady rock star who commanded the stage.

‘I am Maradona, who makes goals, who makes mistakes. I can take it all, I have shoulders big enough to fight with everybody…’ He gave enough credit to his vaunting words through his Aztecan sorcery with football at the Mexico stadium.    

From winning the 1986 world cup indisputably single handedly to be unceremoniously kicked out of the 1994 event on doping charges, he dribbled between glory and ignominy. God was with him through ‘the hand of the god.’ At one end of his excellence, he is credited with the goal of the century. But then his gluttony for goals in life included food, alcohol and drugs also. In fact, Maradona and moderation never fitted in closely. From a lithe demigod of an athlete, he went on to turn into a sniggering puffed up drugs addict. From holding the world cup, and the consequent slaloming into countless hearts, to barely holding his life in his fist after a cocaine-born heart failure twenty years ago, he had hit crest and trough of life without injuring his reputation.

The ‘Hand of God’ punching the ball into the English net during the 1986 world cup quarter finals. His ruggedness was pinching but his playing style was far more bewitching. In his football mad home country, he was the quintessential ‘Golden Boy’. Like he out-jumped the England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, almost twice his height, feigning to head but hoodwinking the referee by patting the ball with his left hand, to score the ‘Hand of God’ goal, he jumped over literally all norms to score goals and lead life the way his free-will dictated.

Who can forget the goal of the century!? Just four minutes after the ‘hand of god’, he hoodwinked all realistic expectations even from normal geniuses. His 44 strides in 11 seconds involving 12 touches gave us the greatest goal of the century. The 1986 Mexico world cup belonged to one man only. He madly burst into boxes. He crazily brushed off defenders. He maniacally squared off the ball towards the net. He magically outmuscled his tall and giant-type markers. His stinging left footers would be drawn to the net even from the toughest angle. Like a farmer ploughs through soil, his flicks and dribbles scythed through a slew of defenders and hapless goalkeepers. The blast of raw energy through his stocky bundle of animalistic muscles left him an autocrat on the turf.

Polarity melted in the photogenic blizzard of his dazzling runs. He was an angel as well as a devil, a rogue and a genius in the same vein. He was too far from the singularity of existence and very near some unpredictable multitude. He was reckless, brazen, desperado, sublime, elegant and graceful in a space of few minutes between the ‘Hand of the God’ to the ‘goal of the century’, the latter almost divine in terms of its guts and audacity. He gathers the ball to his side in the stadium, swings and opens up two defenders, blazes on like a bursting comet, chest puffed out, his tongue leering and jeering and cutting across like a knife through butter, cutting the moorings of a posse of 7 English defenders to romp home to glory. This mesmeric run is unsurpassed. Those 11 seconds, and a run of 60 yards, beginning from his yard to the final romping home after rounding the English goalkeeper, involving stepping on the ball, setting right, left and forward thrusts like a brute steam engine, the opposition scattered in disarray, he creates history. Just four years after the Falklands Islands war, where his country lost to the opponents on the turf now, he had given enough to the entire nation to forget the bruise and celebrate victory on the playground. The sweet redemption, almost a kind of salvation for the millions of souls.     

The stocky and strangely built spiral of life from a small shanty town to superstardom had glorious twists as well as dark knots of drug addiction in his stormy flings with life. He flirted with death with as much ease as he did with the ball, the crazy behemoth.

As the supernova preparing to die out with a dazzle, the tantalizing little giant had to be lifted out of his seat as a bloated behemoth during a world cup match in Russia in 2018.

Imagine his hold on the psyches of fans across continents. A band of Egyptian bandits freed a group of Argentine tourists after coming to know that they were from Maradona’s country.  A hero for the disadvantaged and unprivileged, his pics on T-shirts boosted the morale of those who were born in slums but had stars in their eyes.

His moves, both on the field and in the larger arena of life, were sublime, uplifting, farcical, even tragic, all mixed in an out-of-normal concoction. His outspoken tongue gave a good company to his magical left foot in expressing the bulging life and spirit in him. No wonder he was a salvation to an entire generation of Argentina.  

His casket lay at the state presidential palace draped in national flag and his famous number 10 jersey displayed before the final rights. Three days of national mourning becoming that of a head of the state. Here lay the almost singular hope of the country throttled by the military junta, economic backwardness and defeat in the Falklands war. Such full of life men come once in a rare while. Rest in peace brother Maradona!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The best flower

 Treat of the day! The tiny sadabahar in the crack of the wall bears a flower. There are hundreds of bigger flowering plants on the ground having dozens of petalous smiles. What makes this little flower exceptional? An entire season’s rains slipped down the wall. It’s not in mother earth’s lap where she stores water for her kids. It just has a hairline crack in the plastered wall to cling to its moisture of survival. Thousands of water drops slip away and then just an ounce of water may be clings to the narrowest root space. Fed like pampered children, the garden has hundreds of flowers. But this solitary flower high on the plastered wall is special. Blossoming is no slave to the conventional parameters of height, weight, the soil around roots, nutrition, the amount of rain or any other circumstantial fact. It’s only about giving the best with what you have. Given its tough conditions, this tiny flower grew in millimeters, while the rest of the more privileged flowers on the ground grew in inches. Their life might be measured in feet and hundreds of flowers. But what is exceptional about the fact of their existence? They are the happy-go-lucky types. Their smiles stand on mother earth’s piety. This but is a brave flower. It clung to survival, just staying a couple of inches of a fragile sapling high in the wall in the hot sweltering summer heat. It waited and waited with patience for more rains and when they came it added a couple of more inches to its height and there comes the flower. It’s basically about reaching home and fulfilling your destiny irrespective of the circumstances. What we get isn’t in our hands, but what we do with what we have is surely our calling. The smile of this flower is worth hundreds of lesser mortals in the garden below. It’s a proud flower, no wonder it’s there high in the air above the rest. 

So dear friends, please avoid the mistake of cribbing about your circumstances of life. A lot many things definitely lie beyond our control. It’s better to accept certain facts. Take it as destiny. But that’s just half of the story. With what has been given to you by the quirks of fate, you are in the driving seat and juggle your pieces to make your own destiny. Like this little plant does. It blossoms a flower in the toughest of a situation and completes its journey, fulfils its meaning of being a flower. You too can blossom your flower with what you have been given. So forget about what you don’t have, just make use of what you have. You too are up for a flowery reward. Best wishes!



A butterfly by the fireside

 I am all for animal rights and against people using them in street circuses. Still I cannot help but feel the pining nostalgia of the monkey charmers during our grand old days in childhood. Those were the only well-behaved monkeys. Nicknamed Ramlal, Dharmender, Basanti, etc., clad in baby frocks and shirts, they were almost the devatas of the simian world. Holding a stick on his shoulders, Dharmender walked on two legs to bring his wife Basanti from her mayaka. And Basanti would say no to come back. He would then dance and put on goggles to woo her back. The little street show would proceed without even a single piece of the simian mischief! Why are people looking for the eighth wonder of the world? It already has been witnessed by so many of us.

Well that was past. The times have changed. Do you remember the terrace pole overlooking the open bathroom below in the house having four adolescent farmer girls? The crow’s favorite perch point. A monkey thinks why should the crow have all the fun. So it has grabbed the pointed hot seat and is hanging at the top end. If the motive is the same as that of the crow then it almost falls within the criminal jurisprudence of the humans because the offender is very near to us in inclinations and gene pool. The stalker has to be brought to justice. On my part, I am praying that the pole’s top end itself does justice where the peeping tom is trying to settle its red bottom at the moment.

A monkey has to drink water but then it has to topple the vessel holding the water as well. You wonder, was drinking just a side effect and the main motive being to topple it to raise a blasting noise. A clay pitcher makes a muffled thud. Unfortunately it gives this sound only once. My stock of clay pitchers is over. The monkeys have had a lot of fun with them. They seem to be furthering the interest of the pot-makers. This is a kind of use and throw fun game for the monkeys. Now the metallic ones are doing their service. Here the monkeys face a slight bit of inconvenience. The metal utensils make a sharp clattering sound and the funster has to run away with its impact after the lewd dose of rufianism. It’s better to turn an applauding spectator to their follies. What is the use of boiling blood with no effect?  

Just now another monkey is doing its best to derive some fun in the most unorthodox manner. There is a house under construction. On the terrace is a half-finished pillar having naked iron bars at the upper end. It’s trying its level best to turn it into the thorniest crown in the world. It must be very confident about its red bum bearing up with the risk. It’s within its rights to do so but I find it pretty foolish even by their standards. Some immature girl monkey may applaud his feat but the slightest mishap will turn him the laughing stock of both the human and simian worlds. Organizing its fickle mind in an unlikely way, it manages to sit right on top of the iron bars and looks with a kingly attitude and royal majesty. Maybe sitting on the iron bars testing the strength of the bum from below gives a totally different view of the world.      

The season is changing at long last. There are faded traces of autumn. In late morning, when the sunrays have gentle warmth, the kittens sprawl for the laziest sleep on the windswept terrace among the neem windfalls. The house crickets, the brown denizens of the nocturnal chorus, also sleep under the items they deem immobile and safe for the day. I just love disturbing them. Shake the covering off and they hop around sleepily and take a vow to drill more holes in the clothing where they can sneak in for better sleep. The winters will come after all.

On vintage autumn nights, tremulous dew-stars kiss the seasonless silence spread over the lips of darkness. Someone’s exhausted sobs and ceaseless moans now dive forever into the measureless serenity of the slumbering eternity. A peasant woman has been crying late into the night. There has been a loss somewhere. The high tide of darkness swallows the star. And the gloom adds to its invisible shades to the far.

A cow has been lowing throughout the night to get a mate. She is in heat and the farmer will surely get up with a smile in the morning because it means the prospects of fresh milk for his children. It’s definitely good news even for the village bull who hulks around looking for such chances of the fresh milk arriving at the house of the farmers.

A drunkard farmer had to be slapped first and then thrashed nicely by his tired wife late at night after he won’t stop his acrobatics at the village square. He cannot do much as of now and bears up with the punishment. But a hard kick prods out a slurred threat that he will see her in the morning. ‘In the morning my brothers will arrive to beat you even harder,’ she tells him. Then he allows himself to be dragged into the house. I have information from very credible sources that even after all this violence outside, they have pretty busy lovemaking session right after.

Reading all through the night is fun sometimes. Try it sometime. You share the night’s little mysteries and welcome a new day like a kind host. The day smiles in gratitude. Across the misty, cool, dewy horizon, I feel a new sun, a new fireball with blessing warm rays.

It’s a beautiful morning. The humid restlessness of the rainy season is gone and the autumnal ease now assuages the spirits. A dragonfly is resting on a sadabahar flower. Its wings stretched to perfect horizontal. It has slept late. Did it go for a type of night revelry? I tease it for its night fun and tickle at the pointed back end of its slim body. It isn’t eager to get awake and just pulls it into a kind of yawning morning-time curve. Her wings are but too precious to her. Try touching them and it is wide alert and flies away for a busy day. A butterfly, a common mormon, is also sleeping late on a cluster of night blooming jasmine. The Parijat tree is a veritable shower of beautiful, fragrant white flowers. They drizzle down with the rise of the sun. All around her there is a scented drizzle of little flowers. May be it’s a boozed up butterfly who had extra fun among the night blooming jasmine flowers and is now sleeping late in the morning. A chatty tailorbird but doesn’t like the late risers and awakens the butterfly with its exuberant vocals. The butterfly flies away to make the most of the few days that mother existence has given in its kitty to fulfill the purpose of its life.

The song of the birds picks up its tempo. Three pigeons fly with a friendly banter; five ducks fly in a slanted line (there aren’t as many as would allow them to form a V pattern because the water bodies have vanished and so have the visiting ducks); a lone heron flies slowly with the unhurried pace of an old gentleman; a few house sparrows dart swiftly; the dainty and handsome Indian magpie robin hops on the parapet wall (seems happy, maybe got a lover and is now joyfully silent after singing love songs in plenty for almost a week). The morning has picked up nicely.

The sky is relieved of its duty of bearing the clouds on its back. Having shed all that it had to give, it now looks fresh and light. Two peacocks are also feeling very light after shedding their plumes. The weight of love is gone. Of course, love is a very weighty issue these days. They are now pecking and preening themselves pretty freely. They are quite friendly to each other because now there is no competition for winning love in their favor. I think the life of singlehood is quite light and one can be at ease like they are now. They can fly for more distances as well.

The village has seen a lot of development around it. It has now canals and roads all around it. It is good. We need canals for water and roads for speedier movement. They did a fantastic job and at a great speed as if they are in a hurry. They have been very busy in making roads and missed quite simple things such as water drainage system and culverts to allow the rain water go down south and fall into the seasonal distributaries of Yamuna. So the ancient natural waterways are choked. Since we have had excess rains this season, the surrounding farmlands and the village got filled up like a water bowl. They now use big water bumps to take out the excess water. We humans know how to be busy almost all the time. We are very serious about creating problems and then we get onto finding solutions for the same very diligently. And that keeps us very busy. It’s good to plan development but we shouldn’t run to develop. I think a leisurely walk to development will do better because we retain our common sense while doing so and don’t goof up to commit silly mistakes. Rampant development leaves many loopholes and then we have to spend a lot of energies in finding solutions for our self-created problems.

When I hold my three-month-old niece in my hands, I somehow feel fulfilled with love and care. It’s a privilege to stand by her as she fights her way out of multiple complications. Her one smile is enough to make one forget thousand miseries of life. That’s what I try: Make her smile. And when it comes, that pure smile, I feel like hitting a treasure instantly. She scans the cloud patterns as I hold her in my arms, curious to know the strange ways of this world. May be till they are infants, they see angels in the skies above.

When things around appear too complex, I pick up Bond Sahab’s book. Immediately the layers of complexity peel off and you see simplicity and purity of a world that all of us have the option to view. His books train your mind to view life in simpler terms. Iranian movies are Bond Sahab’s cinematic equivalent in taking you to a little world of simpler facts of life. The Willow Tree but seems too serious for an Iranian movie. There is a kind of drama that is typical of our movies. A professor gets his eyesight after 40 years. There is a chasm between his feelings and what he wants to see. He wants to make up for the lost decades and wants to see more and more of life. The face of his wife, the angel who held his hand during the dark days, now appears too ordinary in comparison to the beautiful women around.

Ranna’s Silence again is a beautiful little story. Little 5-year-old Ranna stops speaking after someone steals her hen, Kakoli. So loved her hen so much that hearing fox or wolf alarm beats in the fields, on the way to her school, she would run back to ensure the safety of her hen. As she lost her hen, she disowned her smile and beautiful words also. Well, she was instantly the same girl as of before as the thief realized his mistake and returned the hen. Watch it if you want to feel how small things can help us build a peaceful, simple world around us.

Hardeep comes to visit and shares the life lesson given by his father. ‘Never go to Delhi if you can manage it at Sonipat, the nearest city. And never go to the city if you can manage it at the village itself,’ he says. Well, I think it’s basically an injunction about unnecessary loitering around. As an adolescent boy he became very curious about Delhi and bunked school to wander around in the Delhi crowd for the day. His father came to know. He asked his mother to prepare a very tasty sweet halwa. Hardeep ate to his full thinking he has been rewarded for possibly becoming the family record holder who reached Delhi at the youngest age. So he ate to his full and took happy burps. Then his father very affectionately put his hand on his shoulder as they walked to their field by the canal. It was a grove of fruit trees and handsome flowers that was enough to uplift anyone’s spirits. There was just one oddity in all this. There was a terribly prickly plant in between. His father made him stand by the prickly plant and tied a rope bringing the boy and the plant in good bonhomie. Then he whipped him with a rope and made him shout ‘I will never go to Delhi’ 1001 times. ‘He saved me from doom, my kind father,’ he says. He is a trucker and a farmer now who tries to avoid bookings to Delhi even if they pay him extra.

We had a little hawan for our angel. Panditji’s son missed on most of the Sanskrit slokas. He seems very good at eating choicest delicacies served by the host though. He is very cute and one can see the effect of the hosts’ offerings on his chubby self. He made the mahamritunjya mantra sound like some Latin hymn. He looked very apt for eating copious food after the rituals but mastering the slokas is, frankly speaking, not his domain. The old Pandit looked helplessly and then took it upon himself to somehow salvage his honor. The goodwill for him will at least see his son getting good charity for his mispronounced half-slokas. It’s basically about respect. Out of the custom of respect, we would accept wrong slokas as well. What is wrong in that? Even the wrong slokas chanted with good intentions will serve its purpose.                     

Treat of the day! The tiny sadabahar in the crack of the wall bears a flower. There are hundreds of bigger flowering plants on the ground having dozens of petalous smiles. What makes this little flower exceptional? An entire season’s rains slipped down the wall. It’s not in mother earth’s lap where she stores water for her kids. It just has a hairline crack in the plastered wall to cling to its moisture of survival. Thousands of water drops slip away and then just an ounce of water may be clings to the narrowest root space. Fed like pampered children, the garden has hundreds of flowers. But this solitary flower high on the plastered wall is special. Blossoming is no slave to the conventional parameters of height, weight, the soil around roots, nutrition, the amount of rain or any other circumstantial fact. It’s only about giving the best with what you have. Given its tough conditions, this tiny flower grew in millimeters, while the rest of the more privileged flowers on the ground grew in inches. Their life might be measured in feet and hundreds of flowers. But what is exceptional about the fact of their existence? They are the happy-go-lucky types. Their smiles stand on mother earth’s piety. This but is a brave flower. It clung to survival, just staying a couple of inches of a fragile sapling high in the wall in the hot sweltering summer heat. It waited and waited with patience for more rains and when they came it added a couple of more inches to its height and there comes the flower. It’s basically about reaching home and fulfilling your destiny irrespective of the circumstances. What we get isn’t in our hands, but what we do with what we have is surely our calling. The smile of this flower is worth hundreds of lesser mortals in the garden below. It’s a proud flower, no wonder it’s there high in the air above the rest.

So dear friends, please avoid the mistake of cribbing about your circumstances of life. A lot many things definitely lie beyond our control. It’s better to accept certain facts. Take it as destiny. But that’s just half of the story. With what has been given to you by the quirks of fate, you are in the driving seat and juggle your pieces to make your own destiny. Like this little plant does. It blossoms a flower in the toughest of a situation and completes its journey, fulfils its meaning of being a flower. You too can blossom your flower with what you have been given. So forget about what you don’t have, just make use of what you have. You too are up for a flowery reward. Best wishes!           

The twilight lands after a hectic day. I am preparing cow-dung fire for my evening pooja ritual. A butterfly staggers nearby and swerves around on the ground. I think it is perhaps a butterfly that has forgotten it is a butterfly and takes itself to be a moth and now would love to burn itself to death. Thankfully that’s not the case. It sits quietly on the ground a few feet from the ambers. Its wings shut together in vertical, it looks a tiny sailboat in stormy waters. Possibly it feels cold and has come to enjoy a bit of warmth by the fire.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Half-baked services and lost smiles

 The three words in the name of oriental magpie robin do full justice to the beautiful, handsome, dashing black and white bird. It’s a flirtatious dandy and imitates many birdie voices when it’s just looking for fun. When it wants to convey its strength, it gives a chhrr-chhrr-chhrr heavy sawing sound. But its real beauty comes when it falls in love and gives sonorous, high-pitched notes of chew-chew-chew for a considerable time to woo some lady. His love call scores over rest of the birds among the trees around the house. Flings are very easy these days but love is something one has to strive for very diligently. Since the birds cannot just have casual flings like we humans, he has just one option of deep love and this means continuous love notes as the tired monsoonal clouds retreat in blue skies. If we leave humans apart, the rest of the species are into it full hearted, there being no half-hearted effort be it love, war, fun and playing or committing to parental duties.

The white wagtail is a small passerine bird that sways its longish tail with attentive rhythm as it picks up ants and little insects on the ground. It’s a beautiful sight to watch the birds walking. There is a captivating grace behind their little steps. The white wagtail looks an elegant well-bred lady as she walks on the ground picking up her breakfast.

The Indian rockchat also loves snapping out insects from the ground. Its looks are very modest with its pale coffee unichrome. Its fur misses some distinctive patterns or designs. It’s a plain looking bird but it makes up for all this by being very talkative. Listen to its pre-dawn gossip session. They have plenty of things to gossip about before setting out to pick up breakfast.

The oriental magpie robin is busy with his love notes. The Indian robin and the white wagtail are walking with ease to pick up ants. The wire tailed swallows are darting in the air picking up airy food in the form of fleas, dragonflies and mosquitoes. A solitary pair of parrots goes flying. There aren’t many seen these days. A few bee-eaters are diving and turning expertly to complete their breakfast before the late morning turns to full noon. The sun is bright and the noon hot so they prefer rest during the hotter part of the day.

Huge cloudy wagons float lazily in the sky. They don’t seem to have any purpose anymore and loiter around, almost directionless, here and there. A room with a window with some natural view is special by default. The upper room window opens to more trees than housetops. I just have to look out and the banana leaves greet happily. Inspired by this greeting and the busy birdie world with a song on its lips, I try to give my best to what attracts me the most. Not too much guess for this, it’s reading and writing.

Try to give your best even in the worst of a job. Even with very little success so far I take my writing very seriously. There is a scope for perfection in every nook corner for all ranging from the fortune 500 CEOs to the bathroom cleaners. I have seen beaming bricklayers, stonemasons and sweepers and cribbing, frowning CEOs in the costliest cars. What is the use of hitting too big and lose your smile. Hit only that much high as would not rob you of your smile.

My smile is encouraged by the languorous hand-waving by the banana leaves as I look over the tree tops from the terrace window. One sip of the view outside and one of the book in my hand. My smile tells me that life is really good. Then I read something and I turn serious. This is no smiling matter. I read that scientists are trying to revive the Siberian woolly mammoth that became extinct around 10000 years ago. From the skeletal remains sufficient remains has been retrieved to clone an embryo. This is disturbing. Why dig up the past to this extent. I think the best thing is to use genetic engineering to extricate the genes responsible for anger, hate and greed from the Homo sapiens. That would make our earth livable, not reviving the woolly mammoth. In any case, the Siberian snows will vanish in a few decades so where will the big animal stay. Probably they will have to repeatedly shave its wool to help it feel a bit less hot.

All these musings backgrounded by the birdie songs scamper back into a corner. If you have a huge tractor bellowing its powerful engine at the best of its capacity and still louder music blaring out of the big speakers there is no need to go near a fighter jet to test the capacity of eardrums. The young farmer is bursting with his ebullient hormones. The bellicose tractor and rowdy music are a tool of his adolescent revolt. And the revolts have their victims. The monkeys run away. They don’t stand any match here. The birds fly to safer trees. I cannot hop over the roofs like the monkeys, nor I can fly away like the birds. I use the faculty of discretion to fall in love with this portable discotheque now pounding the air in the neighborhood. So I assume that I like this music and engine noise and sway my head to the tunes. The Haryanvi desi songs are a war cry even at their gentlest best. But the raunchy ones would suitably provide a fitting background music to the real third world war if it happens. Combine it with the massive heaving guffaws of a big tractor and it turns something unbelievable or unheardable. Even at your loving best you cannot afford to like it the least. As I shake my head to the war-music, the initial symptoms of headache surface. I give up. It’s better to hate it outrightly. Never commit the mistake of complaining because in that case he will teach you a lesson for your intolerance to his youthful spirit and continue with the music and tractor noise with even more volume and till the time he feels pacified that you have been punished sufficiently.

The bird of peace has been shot down and I have to think of doing something else to keep my smile. I am mellowed down completely and surrender the spirit of protest for my legal right also in its wake. Which legal right? Ok, telling this now.

An hour ago I received a call from the courier operator from the nearby town. I have been waiting for an important communication.

‘Bhai sahab your letter is lying with us. Come and pick it up from our office!’ he straightaway commands.

‘But we have paid for its delivery to my door. Won’t it be nice if I get service for my money,’ I sheepishly protest.

‘We never deliver to the villages. You have to pick it up from us otherwise I will return it by 4 in the evening!’ he is even louder and iron-willed.  

‘Kindly tell me, if you don’t deliver to the villages why was the booking allowed in the first place?’

‘That I don’t know. That guy who booked your parcel made his money. Now as per company policy I can only deliver it within the town. So I will return it. You don’t worry.’

‘Your company name is DtDC. Door to Door courier. And please listen my door is at least 15 Km away from your office. What kind of service is this? I am recording your conversation and forward the issue to the courier company.’

He is very pleased to hear this as if I will do him honors. ‘Please do it. As a franchise I am only following the company policy. If you complain, the booking guy in the other city will be questioned, not me. So please complain.’

I had decided to escalate the issue and force them to deliver the service to my doorstep. But the tractor-cum-discotheque stabs my enthusiasm and I decide to leave the scene and make the most of the time by travelling to the town and pick my important document. So there I go riding my two-wheeler. It’s a swashbuckling new road, a national highway that sucks speed out of even the most lethargic vehicles. Cars, buses and heavy trucks zoom past with hair-raising speed. There are so many accidents and many people die but progress and development swiftly jumps over such minor road-bumps. This road was a small, peaceful district road during our childhood. There were massive century-old trees on both sides and we recognized distances through huge banyans, peepals, sheesham, mulberries, acacia and eucalypts. Then it was converted into a state highway to be finally changed into a brutally asphalted national highway. The trees vanished. The entire countryside looks changed without those trees. I ride sullenly trying to spot any tree that I can recognize. Not a single old tree is left. Construction is still going own. The air is foul and plumes of dust hit the helmet screen like tracer bullets. Throughout my life I have seen roads getting built, one after another and still we are short of roads. I think finally all that will be left is roads and we will stay on the roads always on the move. I am further beaten in spirits by the time I reach the courier office. It’s a tiny establishment, a single room. An old Tauji is cooling his paunch under a water cooler. I introduce myself. He remembers the phone conversation and seems offended for having raised my voice for my right.

‘People are very lazy these days. They cannot move even on vehicles. During our days we used to walk this kind of distance on foot without cribbing,’ he chastises me.

‘To me, not delivering a service for which you have been paid is cheating,’ I retort.

‘If you want to fight for your right then allow me to send it back,’ he seems very confident of his case.

I mull over it and think it wise to take the parcel. I sign and pick up my article as he looks hostilely.

‘And for your information, the courier name is Desk to Desk not Door to Door,’ he chides me.

‘But uncle my desk is in my house, not here,’ I try a counter punch.

‘Ok, no problem. If you still think that way then let me return it,’ he lunges for the thing in my hand.

I literally run out to save it from his old crooked hands and forget my helmet at his counter. As I plod back like a defeated old soldier, I can sense that my loss is more than what appears on the surface. Then I realize that the helmet is missing. I sheepishly go there and ask for my helmet.

‘See, your fight for your rights would have cost you even your helmet,’ he chides again.

I rest my case and ride back sullenly, more for the loss of huge majestic trees than the half-baked service.

There is crowd by the side of the road. A drunkard has died. His body is put half on the road and half on the side.

‘Actually he died there at the end of that field. That field is mine. But we have brought him here to pass it as a death on the road so that his poor family gets some road death compensation,’ a simple farmer informs me.

I move on and recall two drunkard pals in my village. They died in contrasting temperatures. One was left by the drinking group under the open skies in the fields after he passed out. It was a frosty January night and he was found frozen to death next day. The other was left in similar circumstances in a field on a boiling hot June noon and was found baked to death late in the evening.

‘They should have used some sense like these farmers and put them on the road to get something for their families,’ I think and move even more sullenly.

As I reach the farmlands outside my village, I see Ranbir trying to maintain his steps by the road. He is drunk most of the time. People call him gunman. Well, he never had a gun in his hand. Actually, his right hand got crushed so severely in an accident—he was a good driver who drank less and drove more to earn a decent living—as to leave a crooked twisted mass that curves to the side of his stomach like a policeman holding his sten gun. People gave him the honorary title of a gunman. Now he drinks more and drives not at all. One has a special corner in one’s heart for the former classmates. He was my classmate from class 1 to metric at the village school. The soft corner for your classmates with whom you grew up is almost permanent. You smile when you meet. He laughs and I smile and then turn sad as we move on with him riding the pillion.

‘An elephant jumps on its heels to raise unnecessary dust; a lion jumps on its paws to hunt majestically,’ he is saying this loudly. I don’t have any clue to the origins of his exclamations. He repeats it many times till we reach the village. I help him get down at the place of his choice. He waves back with a smile as I look back. The vanishing trees, the undelivered service and the portable discotheques lose their meaning as I think about his wasted life.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Slipping lovemaking doves and jumping monkeys

 Tired, fatigued, pale sunrays kiss the treetops like a very old person blessing a young life with a kiss on the forehead. And the evening twilight arrives with its peaceful delight. It brings a sense of completion, of reaching home, of ripening, of getting into the sunset of joyful old age and happy retirement.

The evening twilight is usually very calm unless we rock the time’s boat with our misadventures or the atmospherics get bored and unleash storms and rains. A tired day retires leaving the post vacant for some time. And the vacancy brings a kind of naturality, a sort of assurance that all is well, that the journeys get completed and the destination is likeable after all the trials and tribulations on the path. The trees seem to take a pause as the branches hang silently. This brief zone seems free from the day’s busy humdrum and the night’s eerie depths in the dark.

The twilight is at its best. Then there is a storm. Peace is forever under the risk if you have rhesus monkeys in your locality. They don’t throw just pebbles into the pond of serenity, they catapult big boulders. The pebbles are no match for their raucous spirits. The banana tree in the garden has its first flower, a beautiful big dull maroon cone hanging like a chandelier, the little banana fingers holding a tight first like a newborn baby, promising a fruitful future. The first flower and the fruit, like first love, is a momentous event in the life of a tree.

When a monkey jumps onto a tree, criminalized fun is the basic motive. Eating something to survive is far down the list of priority. The beautiful flowers and the tiny fruity fingers are slain. The marauders screech in triumph. I have a suspicion that they have started to think and calculate their nuisance. It’s no longer an instinctual outburst of crazy fun and frolics. I run to the terrace to scare them away. They jump into the yard below and tease me. I come down and they get onto the roof again and shake the trees with extra devilry, staring at me with their hideous kho kho. This isn’t mere instinctual behavior. They have a significant mind but it’s severely unestablished as of now. An unestablished mind is very troublesome. Anyway, the banana tree has lost its first offering to the world. It has been wasted. The only outcome is some fun for the monkey who seem to draw one more feather before it’s completely dark. The twilight scampers away in a hurry. One has to learn to live with the monkeys, there is no other way. Of all the species that have been beaten into subjugation by the mankind, the monkeys still have the capacity to impose their will on us.

The potter’s wasp had completed its task on the dining table. It was a very cozy little mud house. It really was. The mud is scattered and the tiny infant wasps inside are missing. A monkey did his share of business on the table while I was away for some time. Possibly this is the peanut version of the teatime snacks for the monkeys. He peeled away the mud covering and enjoyed his waspy nuts. One has to accept one’s fate at the hand of the monkeys otherwise the burden of life increases manifold. The wasp, the banana tree and I all three of us stand in acceptance of this fact.

Well, I think the wasp was at fault here not the monkey. You cannot include the monkeys in the discussion about right and wrong. They will commit a wrong infallibly. So the right or wrong concerns the wasp only. Firstly, he shouldn’t have felt too bold to start grabbing property under the nose of an unknown countryside author. Arrogance skids away basic precautions. Arrogance, pride and vanity are nothing but ill-fate’s charity. Just because there are many options on a broad plain, we cannot ignore the little corner that is most suitable for us. A potter wasp should have its business below the table, not above the table. But if it takes liberty with a struggling author then let it do at its own risk. One should learn to rule out unsuitable things even if they come free. A price not paid now is usually some bigger price paid later.

The day has been good. A potter wasp’s house and the first banana flower and fruit getting undone by the monkeys isn’t too big a loss. I would still consider it as underperformance on their scale of villainy. It’s basically the male monkeys who plunder the peace in the neighborhood. The females are too heavily burdened under the duties of raising countless babies. The male monkeys consider senseless mating and endless mischief as their primary duties. And they take it very seriously.

A stroll in the countryside in the afternoon fetched a few peacock feathers. When you come across a peacock feather during your walks in the solitude it feels like coming across treasure in the dust. It’s such a beautiful piece of creation. You just bow down to the ultimate color master and the designer of things. The peacock must have danced very happily, a case of requited love I suppose, for there were many feathers. It’s better to have happy and joyful people around because even you may be the recipient of the leftovers of their joy, like I now receive the remnants of their joy. There is something marvelous about peacock feathers. We need not go into a discussion about it. All I can say is that if you come across a peacock feather, consider yourself lucky and keep it in your house. You add something substantial in your journey.

Usually the pause fetched by the forties of age sees me spending my days very meaningfully in my own ways. If I find something missing, a kind of heaviness of life, I pick up some Ruskin Bond book. His writing is so uncomplicated and lucid that life seems a beautiful all goody-goody dream. It heals. You learn how to take things very lightly in easy spirits. Bond Sahab has the divine faculty of spotting only the peaceful and joyful among the apparent chaos of our surroundings. He just filters the nice things, ignoring the more sophisticated stuff. And when he presents his filtered version of reality, it takes you into its peaceful folds. You feel relaxed and assured of the still remaining chances of peace. I read a couple of pages of his books at a time, at various stages of the day to keep the light-hearted momentum going on. In between I write, read other authors and manage my chores that are unavoidable on the path of survival. 

The mother cat of the kittens arrived after a month. She had cleverly left them under my step-motherly care. The cats are far more intelligent than we think. She could very well sense that this lone struggling author will be a tolerable stepmother to her kittens even at his worst. She had literally starved herself to death raising these kittens. I am sure she hardly ate anything during those initial days. She would just dump the prey in front of them as they ate almost endlessly. She was a mere skeleton as a consequence. She kept fasting, eating the bare minimum, till they were grown enough to survive on the milk bowl, grasshoppers, tiny frogs, leeches and crickets in the yard. Then she stopped coming and probably lived for herself. Today the kittens had gone out, even the lazy one can you believe it, for some greener pastures. She sneaked into the empty house as if to check. What a transformation. She has put on healthy weight after eating for herself for a month. A very dashing Mama cat she looks now. But then this prettiness itself will get her into troubles again as some aspiring cat Pa will seek some brief moments of pleasure, to be followed by months of onerous duties by the Mama. It reminds me how weary most of the Mamas are, heavily laden under the duties of raising kids. Hand over some of the kid-rearing duties to the Papas and they will have lesser time for wars, aggression, attacks and noise. The males busy in parenting is a direct boon for mother earth.  

More than normal rains may not be good for a lot many things, especially not the old houses because they get more cracks. More cracks leave the doors hinges a bit out of symmetry. The door latches don’t fit into their sockets as a result. Presently only the bathroom’s latch is working properly—and that’s the most important thing—leaving the rest of the house free for movement. In any case the locks are only for dogs, cats and birds. And for them even a closed unlocked door is as good as a locked one. The human beings take locks as simple irritants only, in case they have some unfriendly designs to sneak in. My biggest treasure is my collection of thousands of books. And they are a strict no takeout item for most of the thieves, so that is not a big problem. A person who steals books to read is the sweetest thief in the world and such a person is always welcome, lock or no lock at the doors. Just like the best worm is the bookworm, the best thief is a book thief (the one who steals to read, not sell it as trash, the latter I would say is the worst thief).

But more rains are definitely good for the tiny sadabahar sapling that has been trying to blossom in the crack of the wall. Here the parameters are totally different. Most of the water slips down. It has a mere crack to survive. For many weeks it did its best to stay alive. It stayed alive although new shoots won’t come. It couldn’t laugh but it kept its feeble smile. Then the rains poured more regularly and in the watery abundance, despite all the water slipping down, it still had plenty of water to fulfill its dream of becoming a bigger plant. It now has added a few inches to its height and looks a very happy plant. It can afford a laugh now because it never lost its smile. Hope it will grow tall enough to bear flowers. Well, there is a lesson here. When the things seem the worst, it’s advisable to give one’s best even if it means surviving at the basis minimum level. Then the rains come more regularly and we get rewards for our persistence and patience.  

The frogs have run out of the yard to make bigger, louder show of life. The lads and lasses have to jump higher and croak louder. That’s life. One little frog seems to be inspired by this solitary writer. He still stays indoors. The pitcher has a tripod stand and a few drops fall on the floor. It’s a highly minute leakage somewhere for the rate of drop fall isn’t more than two in an hour. It leaves a small damp patch on the floor. And there stays the little frog cooling around its sea. Everything is about drawing lines to our perception. It seems contended with its tiny few inches of damp floor and that’s its sea. A couple of drops every hour is its thunder-storming rain. What’s wrong in this if it feels happy this way? Those who are running to swim in the sea of bigger ambitions are within their right to do so. But they can at least stop judging people who are less ambitious and are happy with the less.

A dove pair, freshly in love, tried lovemaking on the sloping, slippery solar panels. They slipped down and almost fell before they took to their wings. Falling in love seems very slippery because the slope is very steep. The emotions are wet and the hormonal storms leave it more precipitous. No wonder many of us slip like the dove pair. It’s better to become loving instead of falling in love. As a loving person you walk better. Good relationships are the normal outcomes in the life of people who walk on good terrain. Stability has many avenues for smiles. And smiles sow the seeds of love.  

The weird attempt at cooking a mix-veg in an offbeat way has borne good results. I relish the simple supper. There is always a simpler way of doing things. It becomes very simple to do many things if we spare the doing from becoming a tool to appease our ego only. Then we do only the needful. And doing the needful is very simple and uncomplicated. I am enjoying my supper now. A fully drunk farmer is trying his best to break open his own door. The loudest bangs and the foulest abuses at his own family hit the night air like a loud firecracker. His family is hiding inside, fearing a physical assault tonight. As an addict you turn your own worst enemy, otherwise why would you kick at your own door and try to beat your own wife and children. The monkeys appear far too civilized in comparison to the alcoholic farmers because the simians rarely beat their own kids. They love them so much and wage a continuous war of survival among the human society.

A lone loaf of cloud is flashing light. The rest of the sky is clear and the stars twinkle gently. The lone light-flashing cloud makes it appear as if the victorious rainy army is ceremonially retreating with its last parting shots. The starlit bluish dark distances ogle eagerly. A half moon looks sidelong and pale. A very tired moon it looks. It’s an old moon and shouldn’t mind this age related fatigue. Didn’t it dazzle brilliantly with its milky light during its youth? It did. The shiny Venus is unperturbed by the cloud’s battery charge. The lightening excitement of the cloud soon gets spent out. It pours out its extra energy and then slowly melts away into the darkness.

Love and loss in misty valleys

 Anger should mellow down a bit, and melt later to turn sorrow, then change into forgiveness, followed by acceptance. And maybe then dear readers we can afford a gentle smile. And welcome a new day. And remember the past with a painless nostalgia. And move on. That's how we must proceed on our journey.

**

Loss, longing and love brewing a mist in the morning forest. I walk on a lone path. Then the sunrays streak in. Everything turns into love. Loss and longing glide away with misty vapours. Love is nothing but all the lesser emotions sublimated fully.

**

There might be many sins listed in the dictionary of judgments but being unhappy is one of the few serious ones. Not only we suffocate the bud of life and prevent it from blossoming fully, we hurt others also. Hurting others comes very easy to an unhappy person. Like the broken finger aches wherever you put it, unhappiness gives equal pain to ourselves and others. Let's avoid this sin at least. Let's do something to undo our unhappiness first. The externals are simply the effects.

**

Life isn't just sailing in composed waters. Mostly, the waters are stormy. Overall our character is defined by the manner we captain our little boats to enter peaceful waters for a time. Sailing in calm waters is not the reality. Calm waters is just our expectation. A dream. Continuous cosmic turbulence is the law. The so called peace is simply a flimsy series of brief pauses on the ever-changing and evolving cosmic highway. The storm lurking over the horizon is the reality. It's what makes our life meaningful. How we brace up to meet the lurking storm determines the extent and meaning of life. So keep an eye on it as you are cooling your heels after the last battle. Braving the stormy patch and keeping an eye on the next one is the formula to become a successful captain of your life.

**

Money does indeed buy happiness! But only when it lands up in the palm of a really needy person after freeing itself of the predatory clutch of an overstuffed wealthy hand. Guys help money in buying happiness. Buy happiness for the people whose littlest joys are stalled by tiny sums of money. There is always that much surplus with us which we normally squander away in pizzas, movies, cakes and coke. But there are millions to whom this tiny sum might turn out to be a life savior! Just like the real adventure of life begins once we move out of our house. Similarly, the real meaning of life begins to unfold once we cross the boundary of the self and look over the fence to spot miseries and pains of others.

**

This is your day. This sun shines for you. It's eager to fill your heart with warmth. How will it do it if you are unwilling? It needs your attention and a bit of receptivity. The time is your kind brother. Its hours go calculatedly to manage your things in the best possible manner. You just have to show a trace of respect to it. Great are its blessings in return. This breeze is for you to delicately whisper the best wishes for you. Allow it to do so and don't be a naysayer, cribbing miser. This sky is for you to fly majestically. Come out of your self-inflicted confines and chains. Accept the open invitation to fly freely. This cosmos is for you; you are its sovereign and subject both! Command where you need; and follow when suitable without pride's greed.