Live n Let Die !

We all sooner or later reach a station in life where we get bogged down with pressures of managing our past or present relationships, business/job, health, feelings of redundancy or irrelevance. I say, insert a twist in the tale…spit out the unsavoury, ignore the unwanted, begin dancing to your own tunes, wink at yourself remembering peccadilloes in Piccadilly/Pan Bazar or Police Bazar, raise a toast to yourself, and sing at the top of your voice Dr. Alban’s “It’s my life”. Let your hair down, love yourself unapologetically, and be a harmless hedonist. Cheers to the free spirit…flowing or otherwise. Live n let die*.

(*the sad feelings)

 

Right or Wrong!

The well-meaning agencies caution us against paying child-beggars, but we wish to help them out of pity or to assuage our own guilt feelings; the mind forcefully argues against riding on the dignity and drudgery of the old rickshaw puller, but his plight tugs at the heart to allow him to earn his bread….

In situations such as these, where the heart pulls in one direction and the mind pushes in the opposite, can we, as humans, ever sit in judgment over what is right and what is wrong?

Right or wrong, in the conflict between the conscious and the conscience, I am inclined towards the latter.

OF CLUTTER & DECLUTTER

Decluttering is in vogue, decluttering is the buzz-word, and a fad!

In the name of decluttering, anything and everything in the house……appliances, books, stationery, clothes, shoes, bags, bedding, mirrors, furniture, repair items…..either almost new or old but functional, are thrown out or sold to kabadis.

Thus, we merely transfer the clutter from inside to outside. Whereas we waste resources (read money), it costs the environment its sustainability.

Rather than acquiring only the essentials in order to not to clutter our lives, we first surround ourselves with the clutter and then we mindlessly follow the wise counsel of some “Decluttering Guru” situated in a different world coming from a different context.  

What is required is decluttering our minds, to realize that 3Rs- Reduction, Reuse and Recycling are the possible solutions to give us space as well as to protect the environment from our onslaught: reduce unnecessary acquisitions (buy one less than a dozen pair of shoes?), reuse (use blank side of the written pages, use the carry bag again n again?), recycle (food waste into compost?).

In that sense who is more responsible, modern minded and eco-friendly: the traditional housewife who practices “reduce, reuse and recycle” day in day out, or the fashionable ones who first throw money to amass things and then throw those same very things away?

THINK !

Where we are and where do we go depends a lot on where we come from!

Where we are and where we go depends a lot on where we come from!

Where we were situated at birth, decides to a large extent and with some exceptions, what we are today and where we are situated now. Not to belittle one’s own achievements, the exceptions merely prove the rule.

Those of us born with a silver spoon in mouth, have the shining polish on nails, boots n manners; go to that international school and the ivy league college; get into a great job or inherit the ancestral business. And life is a serial party, a picnic under the hanging garden.

Someone born in a poor family spends entire life trying to fend for self and the family. Children, if at all lucky to be in a government school, are forced out of it sooner or later as more working hands are needed for survival. Even if there is an earning eked out of drudgery, it is so meagre that all of it is spent on few morsels and medicines. The threshold, the inflection- point to break out of the vicious circle of abject poverty and misery is rarely crossed.

Just as wealth begets wealth, poverty begets poverty. Just as birth in favourable circumstances gives a kick start to life, birth in poverty tends to keep one in perpetual penury for generations.

And we have no role to play in where we are situated at birth. It’s accidental whether we are born in a CSS, a R K Marble or an Ambani household, or in the family of a beggar, a bootlegger or a grave-digger.

The arrogance then, which comes from one’s status or station or so-called success or sense of self-importance, is laughable.

In a lighter vein:

Commented someone with pompous humility “whatever I am today, I owe it to the family”.

My remark: “why blame the family?”  : )

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Life by Death ! Live by Death ! And Death by Chocolate !

Hi, my following piece on life and death is not intended to make you feel pessimistic or doomed, but to put the greatest fear of our lives, i.e., death, into perspective and leverage it to live by our values…..by what really matters.

When any near and dear one dies, we become philosophical and our values transcend to exceedingly good, and the importance of love, empathy, selflessness and so on suddenly dawns upon us. In those deathly moments we ask ourselves: does it really matter- this pettiness, this selfishness, this anger, hatred, ego, this one-upmanship, this attention grabbing and status seeking ? In the face of death, we realize the futility of it all, and the ultimate truth hits us hard:  I may not exist next moment and nothing will matter once I am dead, not to the “dead me” at least !

But these transformational thoughts are temporarily caused by death of some one close and evaporate soon. Therefore, does it make sense to make the temporary permanent ? Is it wise to think of death consciously and continuously, so that we remain transformed, so that we are naturally good…not artificially or by design, so that our values are not blurred in the hurly burly of life and we can be in command of our priorities? Remaining forever conscious of death may not be such a bad idea after all….. not in a forlorn, despondent, or pathetic manner, but in a life-defining, positive and reinforcing way.

In those few moments when we are aware of death, we let go of the superficial, the shallow and the sinister. This awareness then allows us to embrace the good, the beautiful and the worthy. Therefore, it logically follows that keeping knowledge of death as our constant companion, even if in the subconscious, simplifies and untangles everything…..from owning responsibility for “what a mess my life is” to ridiculing and rebuking myself for my sense of selfish entitlements, from accepting failures and rejections to allowing myself to be at peace with myself and others…warts n what not!

Change is the only constant and death is the only certainty. Our birth too was not a certainty…it could have been or would not have been…depending on so many factors. But once we are born,  death is a certainty….the only absolute absolute in life…and it comes at a time and place of its own choosing.

We can appreciate life more, live life more by being aware and accepting of death. Once we come to terms with our death (which is inevitable), we can let go of our fears as well as false values, dogmas, anxieties, and stupid sense of self-importance. It lifts us up from being mean, narrow and petty. That’s life in its true sense and in its magnificent glory. Death takes our lives away, but its knowledge makes our lives worthy by making inhuman humans humane !

So, shall we be in cahoots with death always while being alive ?

Yes ! if all that’s written above is true, then it is also true that:

Meaning of death gives meaning to life !

Death therefore define us, our values !

Death become us, for in death alone we live honestly and honourably and we do not become living dead !

Let’s not be in denial of death then, let us not lose sight of our destiny defined by death !

In this game of life n death, life is by death….so live by death !

And try Death by Chocolate…to sweeten it : )

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WALK OF LIFE !

Parijat

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My walk outside takes me Inside !             

My walk defines me, my life. It gives me my identity in relationship to others and to the world. It is my mirror…concave and convex….mirroring my soul and the world within. 

My walk has become my search, my quest…..to find meaning, to understand relationships, to know myself.

It makes me reflect, induces my thoughts, gives me ideas. It allows me to peer into myself, look at others closely, and dwell upon my relationships with people, places, events, the world and the nature. It provides me perspective for my life and times. Each walk becomes a journey of life and takes me down the memory lanes. It rejuvenates me… It heals the soul, cleans the mind, repairs the body.

I began walking with physical fitness in mind but along the way walking became incidental and thoughts began to creep in and it became a ritual of contemplation, of reflection, of thoughts…good, bad n ugly.

I have been walking for as long as I can remember. And as I walk, words form incessantly  in my mind and turn into thoughts. And the thoughts overflow….as if my thoughts have suddenly got legs and they run ahead of me uncontrollably, and I am always in the catching-up game.

When I walk, I am one with myself and also one with my family, friends, the world. My walking thoughts take me to places near and far….i think of things, people, places, of relationships, of happenings…. in the recent past or from the deep recess of the past, of times forgotten. Memories come flooding….. Nostalgic memories of love and separations, of laughter & tears, of joy & tragedies, of solitude and togetherness, of times happy and sad.

Walk takes me to my past. Walk travels with me to my future. Walk walks with me in my present. Questions come in floods…what I was, what I am and where am I going….

While mind is on its own journeys, the fresh cool wind caresses and invigorates my body, touches me tantalizingly. When the soothing first rays of the dawn touch me, John Denver sing for me “Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy…”, and I sing along. Chirping birds, dancing butterflies, many splendoured sky with myriad hues….  the sights, the sounds, the smells…so enchanting, mesmerizing. Oh….how nature touches, teases, teaches !

And the music while walking sounds so heavenly.… paradise lost  is regained by listening to a Beethoven, a Mozart, a Chopin…

My walks also take me closer to the finest minds and the beauty of their written words, their ideas. The greats such as Russel, Huxley, Shakespeare, Hemingway and many more.

In childhood we used to recite: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Well, my walk has compelled me to open my eyes early and helped me in controlling my weight, but neither am I wealthy nor wise. The early bird is yet to catch any worm. In fact, I have seen and known many wealthy persons who are perpetually late and lazy. Considering my credentials as a ‘Walker’, I wonder whether I will qualify as brand ambassador of “Johny Walker” and get unending n uninterrupted supply of this famous Scotch Whisky.

When I walk, the mind makes resolutions, action plans…some I act upon, mostly are forgotten. I wonder whether I ‘walk the talk’ or it’s all phantom fantasy of the “ghost who walks”. In my “walk of life”, there is ‘action’, and there is ‘motion’, but not of “Dire Straits” kind : )

Thinking of the people petty and hypocrite, my mind asks them to ‘take a walk’….but never with me. Love the wit of Noel Coward : “I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people I dislike”.

I observe other walkers and joggers and try to fathom what must be going on in their minds. I look at the dogs on the leash and imagine what if human beings were on the leash held by the Dog….. the scenarios from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”.

I dwell upon the news…..the news about racism, the killings, the rapes, the political buffoonery and chicanery, the climate change:  and how the world is divided over every thing…matters which matter and matters which do not matter: makes me sad and I think about the future of the country, the world and its people. And I think about the fake news… its repercussions….how it poisons our minds and by repeating over and over again how false becomes the truth and truth becomes a lie. Reminds me of a quote I read somewhere: We were all humans until: Race disconnected us, Religion separated us, Politics divided us, Wealth classified us…”

And while I walk, at times I observe the poor, the old and the young… …cold and shivering, hungry and thirsty…..homeless, hopeless the helpless…and I think of the ever-increasing divide between the rich and the poor and why the successive governments have not been able to do something for them. I think of the good samaritans who selflessly extend a helping hand…by a kind smile, by giving food to the hungry, medicine to the sick, blanket to the cold.

And I think of revolutionary ideas, to bring about change in the world…and feel so useless, unworthy and ordinary. 

And I ponder about myself, my world, my being, my body, my mind, habits, wants, desires, role, my failures…but not about success because i have none. I reflect upon the time lost, opportunities not taken…what could have been, what I could have been…

And I reflect on the relationships, …parents, children, wife, siblings, friends…..and the fragility and strength of these. And I think of human nature, its kindness and meanness, the trust and the treachery, and how time heals…slowly but surely.

And I think of life and times, of separation and of death. I think of the people so very dear who drifted away, the people who were close and passed away….my relationship with them, how they influenced me, what I meant to them.

Walking Mind plays strange tricks on my psyche and forces me to think of my death, of my near and dear ones…what will life be without them. I feel utterly sad and miserable. And I wonder whether they think of their own death, and how they face each other, or will face me or each other while facing death. Had written about “Morbid Thoughts” on this Blog earlier. 

And I think of my disagreements, arguments and fights with my dear ones…and end up having a guilty feeling most of the time as to whether I did not do enough for them. At times I feel…I did my best and they are responsible for their lives…..conflicting thoughts indeed !

And in these walks, I imagine what if one very close to someone and always walking hand-in-hand- metaphorically and literally, turned treacherous? What if the good turned into bad, and beautiful into ugly? What if the fragile “Parijat” they admired together and smelt together and gave a handful to each other wilted, because the treachery of the one wilted their love? I recall Longfellow’s: The leaves of memory seemed to make a mournful rustling in the dark…. .  So true indeed !

Parijat

I think of human evolution and importance of walking in it, how we walk, how we differ from apes, in walking and otherwise. This thinking, contemplating walk encompasses all the dimensions of human evolution and existence: physical, biological, anthropological, historical, mental, psychological, philosophical, social, cultural, individual…. The microcosm of the whole world is with me when I walk.

Every day I walk, and every day it is the same…same sun, same trees, same paths, same people, same sights, smells and sounds. Yet every day it is different, every day it is changing…everyday everything is changing. And times are a’changing.  Same is so different and different is so same.

Walk connects me, walk disconnects me. Walk takes me to the people I love and walk takes me away from some of them as I recall their treachery……but does it take me away really…? I feel my walks compel me, push me against my will into the vicinity of their  thoughts..dark, gloomy, vicious.  

And after a walk, I sit on the park bench and close my eyes and control my breath…a sort of very basic meditation where I try to drive all my thoughts away…though I succeed very little…this is the time when I feel at peace with myself and with the world. After this ritual, I tell myself that I am doing my best and there are things which are beyond my control, and very often remember this quote of Reinhold Niebuhr:

“Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

Whereas walking excites the mind, meditation calms. Walking generates plethora and procession of thoughts, the purpose of meditation seems to be to rein in the thought process. In walking the breath runs faster, in meditation breathing becomes very slow. The effect of the two is opposite, but for me both are interlinked and important. One leads to the other. In a way both the rituals compete as well as complement each other, but complete me and my identity.

I fight myself when I walk and I love myself when I walk. I am despondent and desolate, I am ecstatic and exuberant.

The solitude I experience during my walks, then, shapes my attitude towards life and times, about people and places….and myself, my being. And the mind always walks an extra mile.

Walk breathes life into me, it takes me closer to death!

My walk is Walk of Life…everyday, yet I cannot fathom life…What is here and now?…What is beyond and tomorrow ? The search is never complete, the journey never ends, as penned so beautifully by Rainer Maria Rilke:

“My eyes already touch the sunny hill,

Going far beyond the road I have begun,

So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp….”

Parijat

 

Of Ageing n Ceding !

Tortured souls they were…my friend (who is many years older than me) n his wife whom I met recently after ages. They have one son, married…both husband n wife highly educated and in good jobs. Life should have been hunky dory for my friend couple, but they were miserable. As they opened their hearts, I was appalled by the attitude of their daughter in law and apathy of their son who remains mute spectator to the spectacles of disrespect n insults thrown at his parents.

Why is it that many educated and well versed in manners and etiquettes throw their civility to winds where parents are concerned ? Why even a harmless n well-meaning question concerning  their or their children’s well being or whereabouts is thought of as an intrusion and interference in their lives ? Why the parents are shouted at in reply ? Why are they misunderstood…intentionally and by design ? Why are they made to feel low, bad, a burden….unwanted and unwelcome…by words spoken n unspoken, by sarcasm nuanced or pronounced, by gestures…in your face or subtle ?

Why is it that in the sunset years, the parents have to suffer the humiliation n disgrace, ignominy n indignity ? They create and provide everything for their progeny…..willingly n happily cede time, space, ground, authority, money, assets..…everything, except the responsibility…..which they continue to shoulder on n on n on. Yet, they suffer, and are hurt. Whereas the so called uneducated n fossilized have no ego and are the ones to apolozise first and always..…mistake or no mistake, many of the so called modern don’t even have the courtesy of being polite, forget the apology….their  methods n manners crude n atrocious.

Wrote this in anguish, hurt by the injustice and unfairness, the shoddy n the shabby treatment meted out to my friend. Story could be the same in some other homes…more or less ! But I am not sitting in judgment, nor am I trying to point out to anyone in particular, or paint all with the same brush stroke. Am sure this is one of the isolated cases. There are good and bad exceptions every where and in every age group. And there are shining examples of love n care, grace n graciousness !

Can there be some soul search ? Can there be little generosity to allow them some dignity to sit atop their disability ? That will be reason enough for their happiness n contentment. They neither need nor want anything more !

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Morbid Thoughts: The Final Moments- Tryst with the Unknown ! (As immortalised in Anand- “Maut, tu ek Kavita hai….”)

On the edge of Age…
On the cliff of Life…
On the brink of Death…
On the end of the beginning and beginning of the end….
When darkness has devoured the light and spark has gone…
When all seems to be lost forever in the abyss of nothingness…..
When time has timed out and space has shrunk ….
Mind drifts and dithers, confused and confounded,
Desperate to capture life’s journey in few fleeting moments !
Life….a kaleidoscope of colours n myriad hues,
But now all in black n white…nay Grey !
Life….a parade of people, places n peccadillos,
All that is left now is fragile vanishing memory !
Mind lucid no more…..now conscious, now unconscious…incoherent,
It tricks, it teases, it plays games !
Flood of Illusions, deluge of delusions !
A constant subliminal struggle !
And the matter matters not any more !
People loved n loving but are images hazy n distant !
Echoes come calling from far away shores,
But fade away in inaudible whispers !
It’s a different world out there……frightening but mesmerizing n enticing,
Blackest of the black hole !
It beckons, it calls, it tempts, it shepherds….
To the oblivion n beyond !
To keep the tryst with the unknown !

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING CSSite AND WHY I AM IN LOVE WITH IT ! A Tribute to my Clan…..

“CSS”…..Have we seen a Clan so Smart n Suave ? Oh….what Style, what Substance…be it men or women, girls or boys ! CSS…lo behold…..here we belong ! CSS….the name unfolds history, centuries old genesis, legacy of the illustrious ancestors ! CSS…the name brings nostalgia and  many a maudlin moments !  CSS…where the relationships are unfathomable ….as very deep they go, and defy distance, age n time ! CSS where it is not incongruous to find uncles often offering exotic wine n cousins Assam tea : )

CSS…where life is celebrated every moment, at every turn…not to speak of colourful events n vibrant wonderful weddings ! Ohh CSS…when we all meet the joy intoxicates, happiness overflows and the back-slapping camaraderie enthrals.! CSS…where we have immortal iconic Gola, where gatherings are gay, and festivities galore! CSS… where the light- hearted banter, the jokes, the leg- pullings, the odd sermons, the pics of events in our lives…. shared in person and on the App keep us anchored ! CSS…where concern by all for all in the clan is genuine, love unpretentious and warmth abundant ! CSS….where the ancient family tree has grown humongous and branches spread out far n wide…but roots keep us rooted, united ! CSS….how blessed are we, for the family here is friend !

CSS…where gaiety rules, fun never ends, and laughter never dies !  CSS…where there is drama in real life and life is lived king size ! CSS…where, songs are songs of life and dance is spirit of freedom ! CSS…where there is pride, but no prejudice…..where proximity breeds care, not contempt ! CSS…where bonding breeds bonhomie n belonging brings bliss ! 

CSS phenomenon….eyes light up at its mere mention.…It’s Rare, It’s Infectious, It’s Crazy, It’s Beautiful, It’s Magnificent !

Cheers !

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ARE WE MODERN ??

Divorced from our own thought process…

mindlessly following what is fashionable, what is in vogue, what is in….

to be with it….to belong…

to say it first, to show it first….

only to be slightly ahead of others in point of time !

Craving for appreciation from known and unknown…

Judging ourselves in the light of others’ judgments…

Attempting to impress with inanities,

N easily impressed with the banal…..

too eager to laugh at vapid and the tasteless ,

 simply to seem to be enjoying with others….

suppressing individuality for the admiration of the contemporary crowd !

Being modern is to apply one’s own mind, or mindlessly follow the herd mentality ??

I quote Bertrand Russel in lighter vein:

“ The belief that fashion alone should dominate opinion has great advantages. It makes thought unnecessary and puts the highest intelligence within the reach of everyone…..”

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