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2.26.2007

Who am I?

A child I was, sitting alone
"Who am I", did I ask
A little girl so young so true
I am my parent's child

A girl I was, walking around
Experiments with life
"Who am I", did i ask
A blank look, silence passed me by

A lady soon, married and well
"Who am I" did I ask
His wife I am, his family mine
A future new and vibrant

A family now, two children grown
"Who am I" did I ask
A mother of two, a parent now
The future in my hands I hold

A career so great, money flows
"Who am I" did I ask
A lady strong, ambitious for sure
A career woman unfolds

The world claps, applause in my ears
"Who am I" did I ask
The greatest for now, a celebrity
The world praises my achievements.

The bones ache, life passes me by
"Who am I" did I ask
My daughter's success, a proud parent she made
My children's mother am I

Lying on my bed, the last breaths of life
"Who am I" do I ask
Oh lord, a blind woman was I
Now with a wasted life.

P.S. Inspired by a question we all ask when young but fail to answer with every passing moment of life.

2.20.2007

Shivaratri - A night to remember




















The dust had finally settled and all turmoil in the mind seemed to subside. Srinivasan, raced back from work to get to the showroom. Srinivasan felt strange about himself. His folks were not around for his people had gone back. There was really no one left to show his new car to.

Yet it didn’t bother him, Srinivasan loved automobiles and felt it was money well spent if he purchased a car he would want to drive. Srinivasan didn't have too much time. It was closing in on sunset and he had yet to start his worship.

At the showroom, the car was brought forward, and all papers were handed over. Srinivasan looked up to the sky and then to the sales man who was performing the final puja before this gorgeous automobile hit the road. He took off his slippers and watched the flames catch on the camphor. He watched the fire (arti) go up circling the car warding off all evil. The kumkum was smeared over his head and at various points of the car, the bonnet with the logo and the driver’s steering wheel. He smiled to himself thinking…Strange, that even a very modern mind was all to happy to have the traditional fire of enlightenment bless and protect his car, a gift of his well earned money on the road now.

With four lemons squashed under each car wheel, the automobile was now blessed for a new journey on the road – new safe journey on the road.

With the car now, feeling this luxury on the road, Srinivasan headed home trying to catch up with lost time. His worship started in the next hour after all his preparation. The house went into darkness, and the lamplights made beautiful patterns on his polished marble floor. He began his recitation, his mind concentrating and his heart overwhelmed and heavy. He had wanted a good day to bring his car home and he didn’t manage to find any from the panchangam his grandmother had looked up. The Lord had decided the day. It couldn't get better. Srinivasan smiled, the car was finally home, on the night of Shivaratri, a gift for himself, a gift from the Lord.

The prayers rolled on, in rhythmic beat with the lamps burning even brighter now glowing in his heart. Each verse fell out in amazing clarity, the voice grew stronger and the sound echoed through the house. The mind was at rest, the peace enveloping and the world was now plunged into silence. Srinivasan opened his eyes and stared at the Divine icon, the Linga, and then at the Trishul in the light of the oil lamps. This Shivaratri meant a lot more to him.

Srinivasan felt no pride, no sense of achievement; no feeling that he had made another mark in his life, or crossed another milestone. He felt free, free in the mind, free in the heart, free from all human bondage, free from appreciation, free from ego massage, free from any kind of human approval. The car was his love for driving, the car was his love for automobiles, the car was his symbol of freedom, the car was his small luxury and he was happy to have it. Nobody else mattered, nothing else mattered. The night of Shivaratri left him sleepless, thinking about life and the Lord's strange ways of telling him how valuable he was. A wish was fulfilled, a gift from heaven had come home this divine evening - unplanned.

Om Namah Shivaya

2.14.2007

Jogeshwar temple



(Click picture to enlarge)

The drum is the soul
that wakes the rhythm in the mind
the sound hits my senses
and calls for the dance
the essence hits the walls
and bounces back around
a tremor felt
to shake up the heart

The stones respond
the essence touched
the echo around
this stony corridor
the foot forward
an arched back holds
the flowering fingers
for the lord to behold

Love in my eyes
a sweeping sound
a rhythm calm but enveloping
as all winds stop
a performance unknown
a stretch of the self
to reveal through the body
grace unfelt

These stony walls
so close together
hidden presence
within the air
the reverberating sound
the multiple reflect
emotions so powerful
deep within the self

Music reveals for all to feel
a world beyond
a world unseen
sound the only way
to gather the truth
that cannot be understood
but needs to be felt

An arrangement in stone
so neat so precise
to make the rhythm elevate itself
to resound around
these vast walls of life
and bring out the aesthetics
of the hidden self

The heartaches again
the mind yarns
helplessly locked
within the cage
the mind so strong
Oh help me god
to get out of this body
my prison today.


Photo courtesy: Joshi Uncle

2.07.2007

Dude Cool Laloo


Chennai: Felicitation of Sri Satya Sai Baba.

It was during the auspicious days when Sri Satya Sai Baba landed in Chennai for his felicitation on the event of bringing waters to Chennai – the completion of the Telugu Ganga Project. In the Chola period they would have built a temple town and called it Gangaikondacholapuram and given food to the poor, these days they give speeches and ask for more money and more water.

The esteemed podium was honored with the presence of the Chief Minister and his battalion of loyalists each giving speeches honoring the Great Man and hoping he would do more for society or give them his money so that they can try and do it with least effect!

This was a shower of speeches rather tongue in cheek making the audience smile on and off over each ones witty statements on how today's government is run. In the middle of all this sat one man, a milkman from the north who had done very well for himself I should say.

This man, originally a possible milkman, subsequently chief minister of one of the most ancient rich lands of the sub continent and now Railway Minister has done more than his fair share to puzzle the world. Speaking in broken English and even more polished Bhojpuri, he is probably the only not so well educated man who stormed into an audience of IIM graduates (paradise mind you) to give a discourse on his success story, leaving a world of superior intellects speechless.

The same man walks up the dias, shared equally by Tamil intellects to give his speech on Sri Satya Sai Baba...

Starting his speech in broken English and subsequently rolling off in Bhojpuri to a Tamilian audience (he couldn't care less) he claimed to have been an atheist all his life. But something has moved him about this Great Man and today he feels deep in his heart that there is a supreme being somewhere and Baba seems to have shown him the way. Today he believes in him strongly and has been moved by this Great Man's presence in his life. Having said all this in a very elaborate animated way, Laloo walks up to the Great Man and touches his feet with reverence. The Tamil folk on the dias just look on...

Now for the other side of the story. They say this man was not invited (well he was not part of this project); he came because he wanted to meet the Great Man. He came like a common man, equally happy should the organizers have given him a seat with the common folk playing audience. He was invited to the dias since he held a high post in politics. He walked about the stage, pranced around like it was his living room not caring for the speeches reeling out in the background. He hit the restroom when he wished and walked around with an air of simplicity. His purpose was fulfilled. Having bundled his ego up for a short while, he came visiting Chennai because he wanted to meet Baba and not because he wanted to make his presence felt in Tamil Nadu politics.

I tell you, I like him, when I see him in new light this guy is simply cool.

Photo courtesy: The Hindu Online.


2.01.2007

Mamallapuram: a world so new
















Shore temple, Mahabalipuram:

It was another routine visit to Mahabalipuram, taking my NRI relatives to this very ancient site! As I reeled out the history, my mother continued to entertain the battalion of children we had brought along with us.

Sitting along the green grass carpet of a now well-maintained shore temple we watched all the others who had shown up to this temple on the fateful day before New Year. Shore temple looked even worse than Kumbh Mela, with all of India's population coming to visit these ancient beauties. And we had plenty of variety.

It was interesting to see the groups who came there. To start with we had a very lost-out Italian tourist group who were groping in the darkness of a vast history lying in front of them and trying hard to wade their way through the current Indian population.

In all the garbled language that fell out I heard "Andare turistico per favore".

We watched another group go by, rather uncouth, numbering fifteen guys of what I call - Local Tamil Romeos, who were definitely not there to understand Indian history...they were there to have fun and completely misplaced in this audience.
Hooting around, spilling all the Tamil slang one could hear of in a single day, this group marched on carelessly.

Soon we had another family coming by and sitting next to us. This was a Punjabi family, with a sardarji boy holding a recently bought shankh (conch shell) in his hand and attempting very hard to blow it. What rolled out was a troubled grunt, warning the young sardarji boy and everyone around him that he was not doing something quite right. Instantly his father took the Shank and blew hard, giving the most perfect sound that resonated through the air! My excited mother jumped up and said "yes! That’s the way, you got it", leaving the elderly sardarji completely excited about his accomplishment. What resulted was a series of enthusiastic sounds, now having no reason to stop, leaving my mother wondering why she even went saying "Encore".

Following suit on the green grass was a Kannadiga family who sat down right next door, watching the temple, turned away saying:

"Idu yedu chennagilla. Thumba 'simple' ayiththu. Hampi Vijayanagara thumba chennagiththe".

Ma was not too happy with the comment, for she had the instinctive urge to tell them that for the period this temple was built it was a fantastic accomplishment. She wished she could educate them that what they have back there at Hampi is a mature version, the prototype of which stands right here. She wished they could appreciate everything instead of bringing in regional comparison.

Back at the temple, my cousin and I happened to see a very spiritual group descending from Meghalaya/ Manipur with exceptional devotion. They removed their slippers and threw coins into the Linga Pitha of a now dead temple, where even the Shiva linga was missing in the smaller shrine.

While my cousin tried to wade his way through, we noticed another family from the north, maybe UP, well dressed and decent walking out of the temple, saying:

"Murti pata nahi hai, magar mandir achcha hai"

Another group that showed up was Red clad from Melmaruvattur. These were a group of 20 women, all dressed in red and going about a Shiva pilgrimage, worshipping the Lord in every form possible. Well "the women in red" pranced around in a hurry, speaking garbled Tamil into the air, rushing up to the temple to take a glimpse of the Lord long gone.

I sat back reflecting on this country and its people, who display their faith in more ways than one, so different from each other and yet so united towards a single deity.

Om Namah Shivaya.