Friday, December 30, 2011

'ENNUI'

This 'ennui' at last overcame me and I was dead this afternoon to the happenings around and inside. but it is when it leaves, rather releases, that one feels the full impact of the flood of thoughts, that have been waiting, having been warded off, to pour inside you, to leave you gasping for breath. it is when one is afflicted with nostalgia. Does it not make you live in the past, to revel over your achievements and brood over your failures.
Don't you wallow in self pity and disappointments. We talk of sweet memories, the faces of loved ones, a whisper that is now old and hence lost.

All that is past is lost. The more we live in the past, the more are we lost to the present and this present lost will become a past we never knew.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

DREAMS

DREAMS


I have been having these dreams on a consistent basis every night I go to sleep. I have had no nightmares, but I dream of places and people I have never come across in my life, apart from people I know and recognise and places I have known also appear . At times I find myself flying with ease from place to place. It appears that I am living another life in an alternate world and experiencing an alternate reality.

Freud says, “a dream is a disguised fulfilment of a repressed wish. The interpretation of dreams has as its object the removal of the disguise to which the dreamer's thoughts have been subjected. It is, moreover, a highly valuable aid to psycho-analytic technique, for it constitutes the most convenient method of obtaining insight into unconscious psychical life”.

While Carl Jung says, “I have no theory about dreams, I do not know how dreams arise. And I am not at all sure that - my way of handling dreams even deserves the name of a "method." I share all your prejudices against dream-interpretation as the quintessence of uncertainty and arbitrariness. On the other hand, I know that if we meditate on a dream sufficiently long and thoroughly, if we carry it around with us and turn it over and over, something almost always comes of it”.

I find Jung more truthful in his approach and I find him more acceptable to my view of life. Freud’s calling that a dream is a disguised fulfilment of a repressed wish is not always correct. When I find myself flying in my dreams I may accept that it is the fulfilment of a repressed wish. When I dream about people I know and the places I recognise it may be due to association with my present life. But what about faces I have never come across and places I have never visited? Is it due to an association with an alternate world or reality or is it due to a recollection of a past life? I know I am not mentally sick or schizophrenic, I do not remember the exact sequence of events of these dreams when I wake up, but do remember that they are not from my present past. A smile on the lips of a two month old child in its sleep cannot be the manifestation of a repressed wish or thought. I wonder what is making it smile.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

PARENTING

Parenting


Parenting was not so difficult as it is today. It is done by the book rather than through our natural instincts as a parent. My children tell me as to how to bring up a child, forgetting that they are what they are today and they have not done badly in life so far. They are affectionate, a trait they retain due to affectionate parenting. Affection cannot be learned or taught through books. I may be a old fogey (not so old really), since I am a grandfather now, but I can still instinctually feel what a baby wants. So I find it really funny and at times annoying, when you have to refer to a page in the book on how to bring up a child to understand what the baby is feeling at the present moment. I understand that with the pressures on working parents to adhere to schedules, they do not have the time to sit and watch the baby grow. I also understand that with the tremendous advances in medical science, infant mortality has drastically come down and medical advice is readily available to take care of ailments. This is an aid available to us and should be immediately used in case of sickness. But trying to understand the mind of a child through reading books written by various psychologists, each expressing his own view will not alone help in building up the character of the child as he grows up.

We now start in a denial mode –‘ do not allow the child to suck its thumb or fingers, this is habit forming’. If you watch the infant growing up you will notice that it naturally takes its fingers to its mouth. No one has taught it to do so, it is a natural instinct at that stage of its growth. As it grows older we ourselves discourage this, lest it turns into a habit. By denying the baby its natural instinct in the initial stages itself, when it is not able to understand, we are only denying its comfort. I do not think there is an infant that has not sucked its thumb, we all have. The fact we no longer do it is that we do not need it at this stage.

Everyone wants his child to grow up as an excellent human being. This is true of all the parents, they want the best for the child. It is a competitive world and the knowledge levels are growing at an increasing pace. You now have the best educational facilities and naturally you want your child to do very well in life. There is tremendous pressure to do well in studies, and rise up to the expectations of the parents. This also is natural. But for the child to grow up as a decent intelligent human being and I place this above rearing up your child as the most intelligent person in the world, our own attitude matters most. We pass on to the child our behaviour patterns.

When I was working, I have counselled my employees to be punctual in office. I have told them not only am I watching them as their superior they are being watched more importantly by their own children. Their diligence and punctuality at work would also determine as to how their children fared in school or college. Not only do you pass on your positive but more importantly and undesirable you pass on your negative traits.

Employers now do not go by the intelligence of the candidate alone but lay stress more on his emotional intelligence. This is the capacity to perceive and manage one’s own emotions but more importantly be receptive to the other person’s emotions. It is the degree of empathy that one is able to develop, which will determine the success of his relationships in life. After all, that is what life is about. Are you as a parent, emotionally intelligent, have your relationships been successful? Ask yourself that question. May be you will find an answer to the success of your child in his life.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

MEDITATION

MEDITATIONS


I walk inside my daughter’s apartment here. Outside it is getting colder and moreover outside it is only apartments and not the right place for a long walk. Broad and clean roads, too many cars and too little people. May be a walk in the Forest Park would have been invigorating. But it is not near. My daughter had taken me there earlier and it was beautiful with Fall colours. It is true that a walk outdoors is a great relaxation. I used to walk along the Tiruvanmiyur beach in Chennai in the morning, though there was a crowd of people walking there ( some very early birds ), it was a great experience just observing each one lost in their own thoughts, or overhearing a bunch of older people walking in front of you discussing and analysing the latest happenings in the city and the country. On the other side, the sea set its own rhythm with the sound of the waves. If you are early enough you could catch the sun rising as it changed from a mellow red to orange to gold in all its splendour. I have watched some very old couples sitting and watching the sea and the sun, a certain serenity on their faces which comes from having a lived a life together and having seen the various travails of life, now at peace with themselves. Many times I have felt like getting my camera and capturing these various moods. I may do it one day when I am back in Chennai. A walk outdoors is a meditation, where you are an observer of all the things around you, maybe as time goes on you may achieve a state of merging with the Absolute. However that would depend on the state of your awareness within.

But like I said, I started walking indoors not out of choice but due to constraints that I have outlined earlier. After my surgery I was forced to walk inside my house for at least two weeks, as I was advised against going outdoors for fear of catching infection. The walking space in my living room was adequate. I used to walk for about forty five minutes mentally measuring the distance I would have covered during that time, which was adequate for post surgery activity. Later when I was better I ventured out and later did all my walking inside the Marundeeswarar temple which was next door literally. Inside the Temple the path around the sanctum sanctorum was paved and quite long enough for a good walk. This was another experience as I was doing the rounds around the sanctorum absorbed in my thoughts and chanting the prayers I knew ( very few of course ). I always used to do this and continue doing even in my walks indoors. Each cycle would last about six minutes and I would have covered about half a kilometre. I used to do this even in Ahmedabad when I was in a better physical shape and used to jog covering about seven kilometres in an hour. My walk inside the temple brought in a more religious and spiritual element.

Now here in Saint Louis my walks have become more internalised. The apartment being large enough, I am able to walk at my normal speed without any disturbance as people here wake up late, of course the only exception being my wife who is up before me and in the kitchen. I would like to do it earlier before the sounds and smells of cooking from the kitchen distract me and my silence. Yes, here within the quietness of the apartment where no external sounds permeate, I take a walk within myself also. It was during one such walk that I awoke to the fact that this was meditation. Physically I cover a good three kilometres in forty five minutes, which I guess is good enough for my repaired heart. But it is this internalisation that has spurred me in my reflections.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In Pursuit of Happiness

IN PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS


True happiness cannot be pursued. It just happens and is entirely subjective. So why look for definitions and other people’s views on it. It is that moment when all other thoughts come to a standstill and you are immersed totally in that moment of joy. It happens to different persons at different moments and these moments pass by. It is only when one has attained total internalisation and is at peace with himself does perpetual happiness occur. This is for each individual to experience and pass from one state to another to everlasting happiness ( as you may call it ), Ananda is the final stage of SatChitAnanda. This is what you will in find in Indian Philosopy. You can only pursue internalisation in a quest to understand your Self . Perpetual Happiness is the end..



For me, these moments of happiness ( please note ‘moments’ ) occur when I-



Gaze into the eyes of a child

experience the pure innocence reflected there

Feel the smoothness of its cheeks,

and see the smile on its lips.



Watch the sun rising

while taking a walk on the beach,

With the sound

and the rhythm of the waves.



Experience the colours

of the Fall in all its glory,

And see the paintings

of Monet in the nearby gallery.



Marvel at the beauty

of Rebecca in the Salarjung Museum,

And speak

to the roses in the garden.



These are certain moments and they pass me by,

They remain etched in my memory, as I try

To understand what is my quest,

To perpetuate these moments ,try my best.

For these are goals that move away,

Before I can rest and have my say,

And hope everyone finds happiness

On his way.


gssubbu



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

FALL IN SAINT LOUIS

THE FALL


My daughter took me on a ride through the University area and the Forest Park where I had my first glimpse of the Fall colours. It was beautiful looking at the various shades of green, red, yellow and brown. I was lucky to catch the Fall before the leaves fell. As an added incentive there was an exhibition of Monet’s paintings in the art museum in the park. We did not have time to go in and my daughter promised to take me there before the exhibition closed.

‘The Fall’ by Albert Camus has always had a great impact on me since I read it more than three decades ago. Stripping oneself bare, exposing ones own hypocrisy and then rejuvenation. As I watched the leaves falling of from the tree near the balcony, once green then golden yellow, brown and now on the ground. The tree now barren stripped waiting for winter to be covered with white, with snow, rejuvenation in spring and glory in summer, to once again The Fall. And the circle continues. Is’nt it very similar to the processes we undergo during our lives. Then would winter signify the hibernation we undergo after death to be rejuvenated and born again during spring? An interesting introspection as I sit enclosed within the apartment.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

SALVATION

SALVATION


From the hustle and bustle of Tiruvanmiyur to the quietness of my daughters apartment in Saint Louis was a transformation physically, the silence interspersed by the cries of a child, my grandson. As I gazed into Moksh’s eyes, the pure innocence reflected there and the peacefulness on his face when he went to sleep spurred the transformation within. I have never sat down near a new born baby after my second daughter’s birth. Then it was pure joy gazing in to the eyes of your own daughter, now looking at Moksh it was one of pride, my daughter’s son. But now may be I was finding what I was searching all along – pure innocence and peace, a feeling I got when I first looked at the portrait of Ramana Maharishi and the feeling of oneness when I sketched his portrait. Maybe Moksh is my salvation

Monday, September 19, 2011

LIFE WITHOUT REGRETS? - contd. CHOICES

Coming to the question of choice, we spend our entire life making choices. We have to accept responsibility for whatever we have chosen. Any choice would entail the exercise of your individuality with its accompanying risk and commitment. It is also true that in our present times we suppress a major portion of our individuality in order to avoid conflicts. We choose to conform with our external world. Looking to the larger picture of a world without conflicts this would seem a necessity. When we talk in terms of not hurting others in the conduct of our lives, it is easily said than done. If we talk about being helpful to others it is a question from an ethical viewpoint. Where there is suppression of individuality in the first case, the second is a result of resolution of conflicts within oneself and the choices we have made is an exercise of our free will. May be then we shall be able to live a life without regrets. Because you are really sorry for actions that have hurt others , you feel sincerely committed to responsibilities that you have undertaken (which is still a choice).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A LIFE WITHOUT REGRETS?

A Life Without Regrets!




Today I read this interesting write up in the Times of India’s Sunday supplement ‘Times Life’, by Vinita Dawra Nangia. While it ends on a very positive note stating that “Choices distract but if we sincerely follow our heart and resolve not to hurt others along the way, we are unlikely to have any regrets”.



I feel the title would have been more meaningful if it had ended with a question mark rather than an exclamation. The key words in the above statement are- choices, sincerely and resolve. What is it we choose – something in conformity with the others way of thinking and living their lives, thus avoid conflicts and therefore no regrets. How do we sincerely follow our heart? And resolve is compromise.



The above statement, to me appears indirect contrast with what is stated elsewhere in the write up “one must never do anything that goes against one’s grain. Be faithful to the values you choose to believe in so that atleast you followed your principles and would do the same all over again”. You are never going to resolve anything and avoid hurting others if you sincerely follow the callings of your heart.



I appreciate the fact that the write up has been done in an objective manner, our relationships with the external world and how to cope with life, without conflicts and hence no regrets.



But let us accept the truth that our life is also subjective “the world as I see it”. Here I quote from Gabriel Marcel “ No two beings, and no two situations, are really commensurable with each other. To become aware of this fact is to undergo a crisis”. This awareness happens to every individual at some point of time in life. The choices he makes in life are a result of the experiences he has undergone.



After all when does regret occur? Only when comparisons take place and this can happen only in the objective world. So it would be very difficult for an individual not to compare himself with another, unless he has himself understood and resolved the conflicts within himself. And this I guess will take us to another realm of discussion. Let us accept the fact that the Individual will always carry with him the anxiety of conflict between the objective world and his own inner self.



The write up by Vinita affords a very simple solution. But is it really feasible? That is why I said the title should end with question mark—‘A Life Without Regrets?’.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NOSTALGIA (contd)

NOSTALGIA (contd)- At IIT KGP


A cold winter night, I stand on the balcony watching the sky. The moon has hid herself behind a misty veil but she appears more mysteriously enchanting in her half exposed beauty.

A knock on the door, I open. It is Murali hands in his pockets and a muffler covering his ears.

“ let us go and have some tea at chhedis” he says.

“whats the time”

“One thirty a.m”.


I lock the door and we wander off along the corridor. The light is burning only in Ranga’s room in the wing. We knock, but no response. I say “the guy is fast asleep, but he would like us to believe that he is studying hard”. I know that if we had kept on knocking he would wake up and open the door whistling some tune (out of tune of course).


We go down the stairs and reach the hostel gate. Two furlongs away we could see the light from Chhedis hut. There warmth awaited us . There is nothing like a hot cup of tea(Chai), at 1.30a.m on a cold winters night, that to inside a hut in the midst of wide open spaces. One could let ones fantasies fly as high as the moon.


“ I got to put in another hour to finish my sessionals . What about you, what were you doing” asks Murali.

“ what would you say if I told you I was looking at the moon”, I replied.

“ I would say you are loony.If you dreamt less and worked harder at your studies it would serve you better”.

“well spoken and like a topper”.


We sit inside sipping our tea under the light of the petromax lamp, immersed in the warmth of the hut. We talk of infatuations, imaginary loves and frustrations. We reach the moon and stay there, as we return to the hostel. Murali goes into his room promising to wake me up in time to attend classes. I know that he would stay awake to finish his sessionals and that he would wake up at 6.30a.m in the morning.

As for me I stay out in the corridor, in the darkness, for sometime, filling my lungs with the surrounding stillness. Back in the room I strum my guitar softly and sing. In the stillness of the night, each note, each chord seem to conjure up a thousand images before me. I feel at peace as I drift slowly in to that world of dreams.


I still remain a dreamer.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

HINDUISM - A WAY OF LIFE

Hinduism is the name which has now been given to our system, but its real name has always been Sanatana Dharma or the Eternal law. It does not date from a particular point of time or begin from a particular founder. Being eternal, it is also universal. It knows no territorial jurisdiction. All beings born and to be born belong to it. The eternal truth that fire burns does not depend for its validity upon our allegiance to it. If we accept the truth so much the better for us. The law is there, immutable, universal and eternal. That is Sanatana Dharma. As per this a true Christian or a true Muslim are also part of Sanatana Dharma, that is why there are no conversions.



The statement that Hindu and Hindutva ( I don’t understand why they have been clubbed together) believe in many Gods shows a lack of understanding of ‘Hinduism’. The ultimate Truth is only Brahman It is the quest of every soul (atman ) to ultimately merge with the Absolute. The many Gods in Hinduism that one keeps on hearing is only on account of the fact that that this is a religion which has allowed the concept of a personal deity. You have the freedom to choose and still remain a Hindu. As per Hindu thought, a worshipper of Idols and many Gods is at the lowest rung of the ladder leading to salvation. The goal in life is to transcend these stages and reach perfection as a result of becoming aware of and merging with Brahman or the Ultimate Reality.



Not all are endowed with the intelligence that some of us seem to have, to question ( which of course is welcome and necessary) and to judge( which of course exposes our inherent insecurity ). Fanaticism is a religion by itself comprising not only of Hindutvas ( frankly I do not like the word and wonder why this keeps on coming up) rather I would call them as Hindu fanatics, Islamic fundamentalists and Christian fanatics, but also of what I would like to term as fanatical atheists, agonising agnostics (agonising not knowing what to believe). Why does anyone want to get labelled as an atheist or an agnostic? After all I perceive the World in my own way and live my life, why should it be true for anyone else ? What am I trying to get across to the other person, that he is wrong and I am right?


I quote from Socrates. When he was accused of heresy, he said, “I do believe that there are gods, and in a higher sense than that in which my accusers believe in them”

To break down the images of gods we worship is not always an act of disbelief: It is the announcement of a higher sense of God.


It does not matter what we think about the ultimate nature of Reality, God , Allah, Christ or whoever or whatever it is. Are we prepared to do the proper thing in the conduct of our life? What do we mean by the “proper thing”? I guess that as life is something certain and definite, it would concern striving towards perfection in our relationship with the world around us, a frictionless and a harmonious world. May be one can find answers in “Karma Yoga”.



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

FROM THE DIARY OF AN ORDINARY MAN contd.

The other day, as is my habit , I picked up one of my old books and skimmed through it. That is one of my ways of travelling down memory lane. In this case thirty years back in time when I had first read Carl Jung’s “ Memories, Dreams, Reflections “. May be, he was always in my mind, my subconscious. For what was it that prompted me to pick up this particular book at a time when I had sat down to chronicle my life story.



Replying to a request to set down the memories of his youth, Jung wrote: “when we are old, we are drawn back, both from within and from without, to memories of youth. Once before, some thirty years ago, my pupils asked me for an account of how I arrived at my conceptions of the unconscious. I fulfilled this request by giving a seminar. During the last years the suggestion has come to me from various quarters that I should do something akin to an autobiography. I have been unable to conceive of my doing anything of the sort. I know too many autobiographies, with their self deceptions and downright lies, and I know too much about the impossibility of self portrayal, to venture on any such attempt.”



I have written earlier that “I have always thought that its easiest to write one’s own story, but now I have found that it is hard to expose what you have hidden so long. Also it is tough when you have nothing spectacular that has happened in your life. You have had an ordinary life.” I guess that is where self deception and downright lies come in.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FROM THE DIARY OF AN ORDINARY MAN


I am just an ordinary man,

I do just what I can,

So let me be

As you can see,

I am one of those who also ran.



You cannot say I do not care;

Of love and dreams, I have had my share:

Of pain and pleasure,

In no small measure,

Though now I stand alone and stare.



I am sixty. So what? Anyone who is not dead by then will also be. I have retired. From what? So what now? Too many questions. I have been asked “So, what do you intend doing now?”



That was ten months ago, my intentions are still not clear. My friends and colleagues were sure that with my talents and varied interests I would never be at a loss to keep myself productively occupied. The problem is that I took them at face value and am now seriously trying to find out where my talents lie and what my interests are.



It has been a long standing ambition of mine to write a book and what better than to write one’s autobiography. I have always thought that it is easiest to write one’s own story, but now I have found that it is hard to expose what you have hidden so long. Also it is tough when you have nothing spectacular that has happened in your life. You have had an ordinary life.



An ordinary life, yes, I have lived, I have loved and I shall one day die an ordinary man.

Friday, February 11, 2011

NOSTALGIA

NOSTALGIA

Something stirred,
Swept away
Three decades of dust.

Bygones had comeback,
To stay.
That same stare,
Reminded me of
The roses in the garden.

Where were you,
All this while,
Leaving me
Searching for your smile?
Groping for words,
That would’nt flow;
Time that would’nt wait.

Where were you,
When I cried ?
Now you come back,
When my tears have dried,
To stir up once again,
All that love,
That was once in vain.

Leave me, let me be,
Content in my phantasy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

ENCOUNTERS - contd.

AT THE HOSPITAL

An eternity,
An hour, two had passed,
He sat watching the lizard
On the wall,
Crawling, creeping
Towards its prey.

Outside,
The footsteps stopped,
The door creaked,
The doctor came
And pronounced the end.

He stared at her face ,
Into space,
Onto the wall.
The lizard had gone,
And the prey.

The wall remained
A silent grey spectator.

And they came,
One by one, and more:
And they left,
One by one, and more,
With folded hands,
And bowed heads,
And some with tears.

And he sat,
As the numbness grew,
Waiting,
For the lizard on the wall
And the prey.

The grey wall remained,
A silent grey spectator.
********************

In the other room,
The old man lies,
Waiting to expire.

And here we sit,
Laugh and shout
Till we perspire.

And the old man is deaf.

The shadows in the room lengthen
And blind his vision,
And he groans to feel,
He is still alive.

*********************

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ENCOUNTERS - RENEWED

ENCOUNTERS - RENEWED

Today I return to my blog after spending the entire 2010 in silence. Was it intentional, like I have said previously that I lapse into periods of silence? No it just happened. However a lot of other things happened also – I retired from my job, moved to my own house and got my younger daughter married. All during 2010. I have been told that as now I am free of all my responsibilities I can do the things that I have always wanted to. Well one is never free of responsibilities, add to that, I am not really very sure what I want. For a start however I wanted to break my silence. So here I am sitting in front of my computer, the time being 12.15 am, doing exactly what I wanted. Good is’nt it?

I continue with my encounters,
Like silence,
in the midst of all this sound,
A blank page,
In the midst of all these words,
Nothingness,
In the midst of all this Being.
********************

He crossed the road,
In front of my car,
At the pedestrian crossing:
Well groomed, well dressed,
A pleasant look on his face,
He walked at a brisk pace:
A purposeful stride,
To reach the other side.

And he had no hands.