Thursday, October 29, 2009

Winter comes calling

It was not until the night of 27th that I noticed a nip in the air and the hitherto cool breeze now having turned a tad cold.

That evening, on my once-in-a-while-solitary-walk-in-the-park, often the moment in time for deep reflection, I noticed a different hue in the night sky, layered in shades, rather gradients of gray and black, dotted with pulsating twinkles of stars, several light years away, yet powerful enough to make themselves visible to the eye - one of the many paradoxes of life itself, in the connotation that what one sees is not always where one arrives at! 

If you have listened to A Change of Seasons by Dream Theater, the musical marvel where one remembers "a time when the frail, virgin mind watches the crimson sunrise and imagines what it might find", you know that "life is filled with wonder and the feeling of the warm wind blowing, with an inherent need to explore the boundaries and transcend the depth of winter's snow!"

That "I'm much wiser now, a lifetime of memories that run though my head, those that taught me how for better or worse, alive or dead, I realize there's no turning back and that life goes on the offbeaten track!"

I'm forever in awe of how intricately woven life is, changing with times and seasons, maturing the living with every single passing moment, constantly adherent of its purpose!

And I'm wondering, "Where am I going today?"

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Road to Self-Realization

There is neither in this world nor the world beyond, happiness, for the one who doubts

-- Srimad Bhagavad Gita

The road to self-realization is laced with some of the most effective deterrents, I believe, often playing it hard on the people who choose to traverse it! It is an ongoing process, quite like living life every day anew until the end, and hence should not be confused with a destination one arrives at, after a length of travel.

I had the good fortune to visit The Ramakrishna and Sharada Math, last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed the call, trying to understand at first hand the people who were part of these illustrious associations and their austere lives engaged in a perpetual and undeterred quest for self-realization!

Perhaps the most difficult thing, for someone such as me, is to renounce material possessions and worldly comforts in the pursuit of spiritual excellence. Therefore, to see people younger than me, having already done so and embarked on such a fruitful journey was unsettling yet promising!

If anything, it is the mind, which is the chief constituent of any decision making exercise, that needs to be reigned in, in order to make free will differentiable from acts as a result of cause and effect - or so I believe!

Leaving these splendid places and returning to the humdrum of my routinated life, having savoured moments of unequaled comfort and solace, the lesson was certainly not lost on me that the knowledge of the self and its realization are known to the one who thinks of them as the unknowable and not to the one who thinks he knows!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Asterix

By Toutatis! The sky hasn't fallen yet, and, along with your friends in Gaul, you continue to fascinate me. I first read your adventures while in class IV, 1988 to be precise, the first of them being The Magic Carpet, a marvelous account of your travel to my country - India!

What a way to begin, eh?

Now, having known and absolutely loved you for 21 years, which is a sizeable portion of my lifetime, I wish you a very happy birthday.

May you find a lot more of those greeny legions to paf away! Many more scrunchy-muchy mouthwatering boars to eat and many wonderful places to go to!

And in the words of your creators - nothing less than excellence… and fits of laughter! That's what you truly are!


My tribute to the late René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, whose vivid imaginations created an iconic character who continues to be idolized and adored by young and old!

Biographies of the authors as stated by the official website.

Image Courtesy - The Official Asterix Website

Image Description - The evolution of Asterix, titled Evolution, from the evolution series

Asterix - The wikipedia entry

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A time to remember

Diwali eve was a get together time of wonderful sorts. My good friend Sourin invited me over to his home to partake in his daughter's 5th birthday celebrations! An accomplished singer and a music exponent, I've told you about him and his band sometime before.

This time around, I was witness to his usual exuberance in expression of warmth and bonding that comes so easily to him and his family, always forthcoming and readily able to come together with people, even at first meeting!

A little after I arrived, some of his friends, hitherto unknown to me, aficionados and experts in music and matters of the world, presented themselves! Usually taking sometime to break the ice, I found myself amidst a group of friends with an instant sense of connect - one like never before!

After a round of introductions and talk about each others' lives, fellow-guests, and the host, many a passionate pursuant of music in one venue, broke into momentum enthralling the rest of us with verses of Tagore in the voices of Kishore, to mention a few that is!

Not many of us feel happy in the pursuit of something that is non material, but it is imperative to understand that true happiness can and will be a result of intangible quantifications! Also important it is, to know that to connect with people, one requires an open mind, the ability to establish relationships - worthy in themselves, and the good sense to appreciate the other in a measure that is of true recognition!

As for my expression to summarize the evening, I feel appropriate to render it in the words of the famous American humorist, Will Rogers, that "A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On the road not taken

For a thinking mind that reasons well, it is fairly easy to discern right from wrong! But to decide upon choosing among two rights, one is stupefied beyond reason to make an inevitable choice and can only safely do so in choosing the larger or broader right of the two - one that is for the sure purpose of the larger good! It is a situation akin to facing crossroads, knowing not which way to head!

Quite similar has been my predicament over the past couple of weeks! Torn between two rights, I have come to crossroads and remained to make an inevitable choice, one that will forever change the course of my life, the ramifications of which I cannot comprehend at this point in time!

Some of you are aware of my Mom's ailment, which continues to be in milder measure, thankfully. However, her inability has taken her away from home in Ooty and thus rendering Dad all by himself for the past several months, alone to conduct the proceedings of his business!

As this situation furthers, I feel it is my solemn duty to offer an unconditional and responsible hand of support and relieve him of his strenuous and demanding schedules. Now, this means my relinquishment of a position that I currently hold in an organization that has employed me over the past year and a half, something that I will be grateful for all my life!

So, after battling emotions for long, and having arrived at a decision, I walked up, two weeks ago, in a somber mood, to my boss and discussed the subject and tendered my resignation! It was perhaps one of the most difficult things that I've come to do, for severing an association, however short or insignificant, isn't by any means, an easy act!

I find myself swiftly reminded of Robert Frost's lines in The Road Not Taken!

That "I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Let there be light

We meditate on the glory of the Creator; Who has created the universe; Who is worthy of worship; Who is the embodiment of knowledge and light; Who is the remover of all sin and ignorance;
May He enlighten our intellect!

-- The Gayatri Mantra (chant)

Wishing you a very happy Diwali, one that, I pray, will usher into your lives unending prosperity, immeasurable peace, true happiness and a state of togetherness and belonging that shall never come apart!


Image courtesy - Google Images

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Mighty Heart

Dear Mariane

I trust this note of mine finds Adam and yourself doing well.

I'm not sure if I should ascribe my reading A Mighty Heart on Danny's birthday to an act of coincidence!

Every once a while, there come people, who call upon themselves, mustering unseen courage, to show the world the elements of truth and choose to be the exponents of this powerful virtue! One can gather in such an illustrious league the names of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, who lost their lives while relentlessly pursuing the Godly mission of upholding the values of truth and educating the world about it.

I believe Danny is part of this list of people-extraordinaire, someone who saw it as his job, not any extraordinary mission, to bridge a gap between fiercely opposing cultures and their people.

Your day by day account moved me a great deal while making me recall the early days of 2002 when I relied on the BBC to bring me the news of Danny’s release, which I believed was imminent. Extremely pained by this senseless killing, I comforted myself in the belief that heaven is certainly a better place, now that he’s gone up there!

Above all, he was himself, doing what he did best and martyred himself in the tedious and painful process of constantly demonstrating unity and togetherness to a world that calls itself civilized yet remains glaringly devoid of peace or the very understanding of it!

Like the millions of those who have read and understood the courage and sacrifice of A Mighty Heart, I want you to know how grateful I am to you for bringing this chilling account for me to read, which under ordinary circumstances would have been safely cast away in a mourning mind!

Today, we continue to celebrate Danny's life as an epic moment in history, one that has had many good associations and causes attached to it, and in doing so emphatically tell the perpetrators of terror that while good people and their bodies can be destroyed by their meaningless massacres in the name of religion - not once, ever, can they destroy the will of the spirit which is higher than any cause or effect!

Nothing will give me more pleasure than to see Adam grow up to fulfill his father's prophecy of being able to change the world!

I pray that you, Adam, Danny's family, friends and colleagues find renewed courage and strength to further your lives in living the legacy Danny left behind.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo



The Daniel Pearl Foundation

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Misery in South India

News from the southern Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh has been depressing! Incessant rains over the past several days have resulted in a number of regions being inundated and the loss of lives has been enormous and tragic!

It is estimated that over 200 people have lost their lives in the calamity and close to a million people stand displaced. The state of Andhra Pradesh has estimated damages due to heavy rains and floods at a staggering Rs. 12,225 crore!

One can only hope and pray that the prolonged suffering, which has reached unbearable proportions, will come to an end!


Image Courtesy - NDTV

Image Description - A woman cries after failing to enter her submerged house at Garlapadu village, about 180 kilometers (112 miles) away from Hyderabad, India.

NDTV's photo account of the floods in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh

Monday, October 05, 2009

Books & Bliss

Nothing is more fun than reading a good book, to me at least! Known for leading a very boring life and being very happy at that, you can well imagine my joy when over the last weekend, I splurged generously over of a dozen titles from Crossword - quite a collection indeed, to keep me going for a while!

Already having planned the merriment, I hurriedly watched the much talked about produces of Quentin Tarantino and Ayan Mukerji, back to back, and lost little time in hastening to Crossword next door!

The comforting quiet, enthusiasts milling about and soft instrumental melody playing ceaselessly through overhead speakers made a welcome and relaxing ambience - one I chose to settle down in the cozy confines of, beginning a long and enjoyable hunt for what I'd soon make mine with a joyous, rather elated sensation combined with the immense sense of pride and privilege of being able to own them!

About two odd hours, a dozen books and a sizeable sum later, I walked out of Crossword a very happy man and with good reason to be!

Was it not Oscar Wilde who said that "It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it?"

Friday, October 02, 2009

Saluting the Mahatma

An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it

-- Mahatma Gandhi (October 2, 1869 - January 30, 1948)


Image Courtesy - Wikipedia

Image Description - Mahatma Gandhi on Juhu Beach, Mumbai, May 1944

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Helmet Campaign

Fellow blogger Shahid Mukadam and I had a conversation on facebook recently on some nuances of blogging when he ventured to tell me of a tag he was creating! Not a fan of tags, I told him of how minimal tags should be part of ones blogs as they often do not elicit a good response, besides deter the reader from taking good note of the content, or so I believe! But, minutes later, when he told me the subject of his tag, I gave it a serious thought, enough to create a post out of it!

With over 1.3 lakh road accidents India tops the world accidents list! Here are some ominous facts pertinent to two-wheeler accidents in India:

Head injury due to two-wheeler accidents is the sixth leading cause of death in India (one death every 4 minutes).

120,000 head injury deaths occur annually in India, from two-wheeler accidents alone.

5 to 10 million of the population have had head injuries.

70% of head injuries are preventable, and occur due to negligence and ignorance.

Statistics never reflect the agony and misery faced by the individual family when the breadwinner is critically injured or dies.

Studies have shown that when helmet use is voluntary, it is used by 40-50 %; when compulsory, it is almost 100 %. Only 8% really have objection to using helmets - others don't use it because it is "not compulsory."

Two-wheeler riders are five times more likely to be killed in an accident than car or bus passengers. This probability goes up by 100% if one is not wearing a helmet.

Rs. 2,500 crore (1% of Indian GDP) is the annual loss due to road accidents.

So, any of that is enough reason to wear a helmet, if you are riding a two-wheeler! Nothing precedes the importance and value of your life!

And to lighten the tension, me being a non-rider, will rather wear one to prevent the thundering blows of my wifey! So much for the poor, meek husband! :)


Road Accidents in India - A database

Image Courtesy - Asia Injury Prevention Foundation