Saturday, September 29, 2007


The playful Child self,
More alive than Life itself,
It goes away
When the playground is empty
Of companions.

And when it does not return
Through the open door,
Death creeps in,
Dark vapor, swirling,

And floats up to the ceiling,

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Give me your hand

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Salaam, Nemanja!

"...It is getting really hot now.Summer is coming and it will bring a lot of heavy experiences i'm sure. Like yesterday a new stomach infection for me...some new life growing in my body or maybe grooving inside me."

:) :)

The second time we bump into Nemanja Rebic, Serbian guitarist, he refuses to eat anything other than curd rice. We are all rolling with laughter listening to his terribly funny renditions of endless bad food episodes in India ("You refuse to eat our kababs? You are insulting my country, man!") and the dramatic results thereof.

Sensitive tummy apart, he was having a wonderful time in this country learning Carnatic Classical Music and meeting fabulous people. We had just heard him play at the all-night music event organized by Fireflies, under a huge banyan tree surrounded by a natural amphitheatre. No one who was there that night is likely to ever forget his soulful Macedonian and Serbian songs and his guitaring - and his immense easy warmth.

Listen to this fabulous piece - Guru Ji in here -

It made my day. It is one of the most energizing positive-feeling, happy-making pieces I have ever heard.

Groove on, Nemanja! Wishing you all the very best!

Friday, September 21, 2007

We stay

Morning drive to work. Man sitting alone on bus stop bench talking loudly to himself, gesturing wildly. Labourers with blank expressions standing silently in the back of trucks coming into the city, packed like sardines. The lostness of empty faces in plush cars at traffic signals.

O Siddhartha, we too see what you saw, daily, but we do not go away in search of the Answer; we stay and try to forget, and worry about the rising price of real estate and the impending loneliness of old age.........

I passed this way

The Ideal

This is where I came from.
I passed this way.
This should not be shameful
Or hard to say.

A self is a self.
It is not a screen.

A person should respect
What he has been.

This is my past
Which I shall not discard.
This is the ideal.
This is hard.

James Fenton

Until only the mountain remains...

The birds have vanished down the sky.
The last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and I,
Until only the mountain remains...

Li Po, 'Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain'

Li Po (701 – 762):


In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let go,
to let it go.

Mary Oliver

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Zen Moment

The squirrel thief who regularly comes in through the windows and the open balcony door, in spite of all our efforts at scaring him away. We have reached such a stage of familiarity that he now walks in when you are sitting on the chair a few feet away from him, drinking your early morning tea.

He climbs on to the dining table, picks up a groundnut from a badly closed packet, jumps onto a tin for a better vantage point, holds the nut in his hands and quietly gnaws away nonchalantly, watching you.

He seems to say - "Look - you got no children, and all the young ones you looked after and fed at this table so fondly have gone away. So why don't you just share your food with me? Aren't I like a little child anyways? And I won't ever go away, will I? I got no dreams to chase, nothing to prove to anyone, my life is plain and simple. I''ll keep you company all my short life."

He's got a point there.

You continue drinking your tea looking away out of the other window at the sky turning lighter; while the groundnut packet empties on the dining table, and the apple basket awaits it turn.

In the early morning half-lit house, a Zen moment of acceptance and peace.

Blessed Space

A friend gifts you this string of Tibetan prayer flags for your birthday. A most thoughtful gift, you are moved. It is now hanging on the window above the dining table, though it is supposed to be hung in a big open space, in the wind etc etc. But you don't have a space like that.

At that table, you have served and fed so many good friends, and people from so many countries, people you hardly knew - people of so many temperaments and talents and various kinds of niceness and strangenesses. Much great conversation and affection and laughter and sorrow has been shared across that space. Many children have spilt curry on it, many toasts have been raised, and many broken hearts mended with listening and hot food.

It is in all rightness that the prayer flags hang behind it like a blessing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Time the Preserver

"...For our own past is covered by the currents of action,
But the torment of others remains an experience
Unqualified, unworn by subsequent attrition.
People change, and smile: but the agony abides.

Time the destroyer is time the preserver,
Like the river with its cargo of dead negroes, cows and chicken coops,
The bitter apple, and the bite in the apple.

And the ragged rock in the restless waters,
Waves wash over it, fogs conceal it;
On a halcyon day it is merely a monument,
In navigable weather it is always a seamark
To lay a course by: but in the sombre season
Or the sudden fury, it is what it always was..."

The Dry Salvages
Part 3, The Four Quartets
T.S. Eliot

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Empty your boat

"O Bhikshu, empty your boat! It will go faster."

Yoga stresses a lot on the act of exhalation. On emptying. On letting go.
For we tend to exhale less efficiently than we inhale.We want to keep, to store, to hold.

We think possession, owning, keeping - spells safety, security, happiness.
And we learn, again and again; that it does not.

Dec 13, 2006


Every evening it does not rain, the sun shines in a way you had never appreciated so much. You resist the urge to go down on your knees in gratitude, by the big glass window through which you can see the liquid light reflecting on the skyscraper coming up next door.

But you do not remember the last time when you breathed to your lungs' content. Will the approaching winter help, or will it find you yet again in the doctor's room breathing through machines? What do you know.

But today, you are breathing enough to stand by this window alive, to watch the beautiful beautiful sunlight yet another day. You cannot ask for more.

Let's take this one day at a time.

To cut a broad swath...

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. . . .

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms."

Henry David Thoreau

Monday, September 3, 2007

Watching the rain

Sudden heavy afternoon rain. You cannot sit still. You open the only window you can open in the air-conditioned 6th floor office you work. The wind rushes in, like all that you have kept at bay, but has not really gone away. Cool. fresh. Down below in the flooded school playground, boys are playing football in the rain, wild, happy. You would give half your life to be there with them. You are so happy.

One of the boys in another team comes to stand by you. All that you know of him is that he is in the football team. You point out the boys playing in the rain. And he starts talking about memories of playing football in the rain with close friends back home. Back home, where you could be Just You, not someone you are required to be. Deep Nostalgia, freed from the bonds of office etiquette, the unwritten rule that you do not speak to people from other teams. You stand and listen, surprised, yet not surprised at the sudden openness. You are used to this, people telling you the deepest of things, without warning. He goes on, looking down, dreamy-eyed, and you visualize the whole football-in-the-rain happiness.

We stand and watch the rain, in all its wild gay abandon, through this little gap in our cloistered, regimented lives.

The rain makes friends of strangers, dissolves all the stupid boundaries we make between ourselves in our so-fragile lives. Which could be snuffed out, on the most ordinary of days. Just Like That.

This could be you


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go, so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the
Indian in a white poncho lies dead
by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you, how he too
was someone who journeyed through the night
with plans and the simple breath
that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness
as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow
as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness
that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day
to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye (1953-)

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