Some Things That Never Change

As I sip my evening tea, seated next to the window of my drawing room, I notice a group of children playing in the adjacent car park. This group, comprising of boys of all ages and sizes, and also two girls, indulge themselves in sports, such as, football and cricket.

The chattering group seem to enjoy playing, running hither and thither, cheating and fighting; bring forth every bit of the innocence that is common to kids and which, everyone had undergone in their own childhood.

Although much of today’s generation is indulged in electronic gaming, with their little heads almost dipping into their hand held devices, it was a refreshing feeling to see these kids playing in the Sun. I felt if I could join them for a game or two, but then, a momentary worry caught my attention. Not that whether they would include me in their sport, but, I was feeling uneasy, because, all my playful emotions have now been surpassed, and I felt I would not be of my enthusiastic self.

I believe childhood is one fantasy, which we spend like a beautiful dream and enjoy at best, and which exhausts so suddenly that all memories of it is lost in a way, that we no longer will be successful to stitch together, the now scattered dreams.

I faintly remembered my childhood at that instance. Every summer vacation, we used to travel to Mangalore with a cricket bat. My cousin brother used to wait for us for hours, and as soon as we reach home, I used to brandish the bat in the air, showing him the bat, and immediately we used to play cricket in our verandah, even without bothering to change our clothes. The occasion used to be vociferous, aggressive and joyous. And play, we used to, from dawn to dusk, and the next day till our vacations were finally over that we did not care a dime for other earthly activities.

Then, there was our house owner’s son in Hyderabad, a big bully, who used to boss at almost everything that he wished for. During Sankranthi, almost the entire city used to fly kites. The big bully would have his own arsenal of kites and would swear at us that he would rip our kites, if we were not going to help him in smearing powdered (tube light) glass on the kites’ chords.

Sankranthi was also a war of sorts between kite fliers of neighboring buildings and also a rare occasion when the big bully used to gel with us. It was usually a battle between kids of our building and the neighboring buildings. On such occasions, allies are formed and strategies discussed. He used to be our Don Quixote and I was his personal squire Sancho Panza (I mean, to hold the chord as he used to fly his kite). There was excellent camaraderie and chivalry, as we used to fly our kites. We used to cheer as we cut through the other kites and used to moan when our kite went down. The entire locality used to thrive with kids, flying their kites and running to catch the kites that were cut.

It was gladdening to see that these emotions are inherent to kids of even this generation, irrespective of whether there is an electronic equipment or gaming system that would steal away these top memories of their childhood.

Even during our time, we had the ‘Idiot box’ or the Television set. Apart from the normal kiddo cartoon episodes, such as, Spiderman, Jungle Book etc., we also craved to watch good serials, such as, Mr. Yogi, Vikram aur Betal etc. Although, my parents were strict with the timings to allow us to watch the TV, I (who was scared to switch-on the TV set myself) used to secretly indicate to my kid brother using my eyes about the start of a serial. My innocent brother used to switch-on the TV and face the brunt of my parents, and I used to escape.

But despite this interest in watching the TV, we were more keen to play in the outside. It is, of course, the encouragement of our parents and the same seems to happen even now, indicating that certain things do not change despite the changing times.

If nature has given us such a beautiful dream called ‘Childhood’, then, let us understand that the child should be allowed to enjoy it, to its maximum. By allowing them to play in the sun and the wind, roll in the dust, we should be the driving force of tomorrow’s children so that they live this dream.

The Phobic: A short story

It was dark in the room, and Nathan Callaghan was tossing uncomfortably in his bed, cuddling within the purple bed sheet. The sliding window beside his bed was wide open and the cool wind was good enough to put someone tired, into a deep sleep.

Suddenly, Nathan heard a voice. He first thought that he had imagined it, but, he heard that again. It was a gentle whisper. Reluctantly, he concentrated on that voice. It was calling his name “N.A.T.H.A.N”. That paralyzed him and he could not move a limb. He could now hear the whisper close to his ears. “Come to me” it said, and whatever it was he was not going to look at it.

Fingers now seemed to probe and stroke him, and it seem to pull him from his bed with an unimaginable force. Nathan was being dragged from his own bed and he tried to grasp the corner of the bed with his hands. “One mighty resistance would do”, he thought, but no. It seemed to pull him to some unknown space. He was being dragged with such a force that he began to shake heavily. It was then, when he opened his eyes, to see his room-mate and friend, Dirk Grant, waking him up.

“You had a bad dream, mate?” Dirk enquired. Nathan was relieved it was a dream. He smiled back at Dirk. Nathan suffered from Phasmophobia, and he had never told his friend about it. He hated consulting a doctor, and had relied on self-care techniques to avoid the phobia possessing him. At the same time, he knew that his techniques were only good enough to outclass a few of his fears. Yet, he wouldn’t consult a doctor. He barely knew that the phobia was slowly controlling him.

Both Nathan and Dirk worked in the same firm and shared the two bed-room apartment. Their room was in the 17th floor, with one corner of the room facing the busy down-town street below.

The radio was playing Early Morning by A-ha. Dirk increased the volume. Both were fans of the 80’s music, and Nathan, now partly cheered asked Dirk, “How are we going to celebrate the Sunday?”. Dirk quipped, “Welcome back! And am I pleased to announce that you clocked your best time in returning from your slumber. As a mark of appreciation may I present you with this memorabilia”. He handed Nathan a Philippines Chiquita banana. Dirk can be daft at times, but, Nathan knew his best bud and would never mind. “You grant my wish!” said Nathan, kicking Dirk’s buttocks.

“Post lunch, let us head to the mall. We shall watch a movie” Dirk said. The mall was across their apartment.

After the movie, the two men decided to take a stroll in the mall. They saw a Polo store and checked-in to purchase casuals. As Dirk were busy checking the clothes, Nathan walked towards the classic collection section. It was lonely, and at the same time he felt somebody was staring at him. He turned his head in that direction. It was a mannequin. He thought, “No, not here please!” But, the mannequin seemed to smile at him. There was a bead of cold sweat falling from his brow. A heavy hand fell on his shoulder from behind. “Nooo!!” he screamed. “What?” questioned the sales guy, who was taken aback by Nathan’s sudden outrage.

The store was partly empty, but, whoever were present was staring at him and Nathan felt embarrassed. Dirk came running to check if something went wrong. “Something wrong, buddy?” asked Dirk. “Er! nothing, I was lost somewhere” said Nathan unconvincingly.

They left the store and both did not speak until they reached their room. Dirk knew that something was wrong, but, he did not dare to ask. So, both retired in their own beds.

It was a bad day for Nathan. “It’s slowly becoming a routine now and everyday could be just so similar” he thought lying in the bed. He could not stop clouding his mind with these vivid thoughts, which seems to overpower him at most times. He could partially understand that his mind was playing a farce, yet, he could not stop these things from happening. Despite his best efforts, he was falling, becoming a prey of his own sub-conscious mind.

Nathan had an unusual childhood. He had lost his parents when he was very young, and was raised by his distant aunt, Mary Stackpole. Now, Mary was a good lady and she was a widower, who took good care of him, as if he were her own son. He was a silent candidate and hence, often bullied by his superior school mates and others. When he was an adolescent, he found a job in the local super market, where he was doing well. One night, his aunt suddenly died out of heart-attack, leaving him low and dry, as there was no-one on this earth who would be considered as his own. He was a loner again.

Often, in nights he would dream of his aunt speaking to him, caressing him, and he would cry late in the night, all alone. Once he had also felt, he had seen someone stooping over his bed side and looking at him. He was scared, but, he could not do anything. Maybe it was aunt Mary. It was evident that the phasmophobic self has creeped into his adulthood. What could he do apart from crying?

It was until four years back, he had moved to this city and be-friended Dirk, and both decided to share the room in this apartment.

The next day, Dirk decided to speak to Nathan. “I presume you are in some kind of a trouble, which you do not wish to share with me. I respect your privacy, but, my intention is to help you. Perhaps I could do something to soothe your worry”. Nathan coughed. “No, mate. It isn’t that. I often face a fit for an anxiety disorder. I was worried whether that would cause any discomfort or inconvenience in our friendship”. He then explained the problem.

After listening to Nathan’s distress, Dirk thought for a while and began to dial a number on his iPhone. A couple of minutes passed with Yes and Okay from his mouth. After the call, Dirk informed Nathan, “I know a good doctor. He is a Psychiatrist. Maybe we should consult him. Perhaps he could be of some help?”. Nathan felt uneasy, but, he could not deny at that moment. “Fine with me”, he said.

In the evening, they went to the doctor’s clinic. It was empty. Nathan looked tensed and felt as if he was the only patient with a mental disorder. The receptionist carelessly handed them a token and with half interest asked the visitors to take their seat. Dirk looked at Nathan and giggled. Before they could take their seat, their token number flashed on the display screen.

They went inside the doctor’s room. He was a middle aged man. Dirk introduced “Hello! Dr. Chandra. This is Nathan Callaghan, whom I was referring to”. The doctor shook hands with both the guys, “Nice to meet you”, he said with a thick Indian accent and offered them their seats to sit.

The doctor listened to Nathan for the next few minutes. He then requested Dirk to leave them alone for sometime. After 15 minutes, Dirk was called inside. He saw Nathan lying in a bed, with a device plugged on his forehead. He then explained Dirk, that Nathan’s irrational fears could be controlled, using sleep medication. If properly followed with physical exercises, he could very well return to normality.

The doctor handed Nathan, a prescription for anti-anxiety medicines. Both thanked the doctor and left the clinic. The next one month passed calmly and Nathan seemed to respond positively.

One night Nathan arrived very late from his office. He parked his car in the basement, which was dead isolated. A slight urgency seemed to force him to rush towards the lifts. All four lifts were randomly placed at different odd numbers and the closest one seemed to be at floor seven. The wait was an agony. Nathan began to scan the area from the place where he was standing. He was in Basement 2 and all the cars where neatly placed in their sections. The fear of the unknown was beginning to grasp him again. Ting said the lift and he got into it and pressed number 17. The lift began to move. “Come-on, come-on, faster” he began to think. He turned back to see his own reflection in the mirror at the back and shuddered. “No, I’am not a spectrophobic”, he thought. He leaned against the mirror ensuring that nothing would grab him from behind.

Another Ting indicated him that he had reached his destination. He opened the door and looked at the lengthy corridor. Not a soul was in sight. It was a long walk from the lifts to his room, which was at the far end of the corridor. He walked unsteadily. Was something following him? he began to wonder. He started to assume voices of light footsteps from close proximity. One of the lights on the ceiling was blinking crazily. Nathan felt like making a dash towards his room, but, he decided to walk swiftly instead. Then he heard it “N.A.T.H.A.N”. “What the…?” he thought, and ran towards his room like a wild thing, without turning his back. Upon reaching the room, he rang the calling bell. “Come-on Dirk, open it” he thought. The footsteps or whatever the noise was, was approaching him fast. The door opened with a click with Dirk wearing only a boxer. Nathan rushed in and closed the door from behind.

“I heard the voice, I heard it say my name, Dirk” Nathan said. “Whoa! Hang on, there is nobody mate, it’s just you and me here” said Dirk. It took a while for Nathan to regain his consciousness.

The next day, they decided to speak to Dr. Chandra about Nathan’s latest fit. The doctor again spoke to Nathan in private. The doctor later assured Dirk that things would return to normal this time. Before leaving, Dirk asked the doctor, ‘Will there be any harm to Nathan?”. The doctor replied, “Hopefully not”.

After a few days, Nathan was on his way to aunt Mary’s old house. The cab dropped him at the doorstep. Ever since Nathan had moved to the city, he had locked the house and given the keys to a caretaker. The caretaker was an old man named John Crawford.

On seeing Nathan at the door step, the old man crackled “How are you doing mister Nathan. It’s been quite a while you’ve been at your aunty’s lodging, ain’t?”. Nathan smiled and thanked John for taking good care of the house, and requested to leave him alone for a while.

Aunt Mary’s house was a small, two-storied, old wooden cottage. It was surrounded by thick shrubbery on one-end, whereas the other-end opened to a small melancholy moor. As he walked towards the door, he knocked a discarded can of beer. “The old man had been drinking on duty” thought Nathan.

As he approached the door, a puff of wind blew from nowhere and his fears seem to spread rapidly across his body. With pounding heart he opened the door, his hands trembling. The room was dark, so he opened the window blinds to allow fresh air and light. In front of him was aunt Mary’s huge photograph. He admitted his aunt was not the prettiest and she looked like an ogre.

By default, he went to his room where he had spent his childhood. He was pleased to see all his items, his cot and his books. In the corner, there was aunt Mary’s picture hugging the little boy Nathan. His heart pounded once more. But, this time Nathan was not afraid and he was too busy exploring.

He could feel that he was not transfixed, and automatically went to the first floor, to his aunt’s room, where she had breathed her last, whilst he was sleeping in his own bed.

The door opened. The air was still. No voice or noise whatsoever. He went to his aunt’s bed and looked around. He could now see his aunt everywhere. His heart was filled with sorrow and he wept. He went to her bed and laid down on it. Deep sleep began to overpower him and he slept.

When Nathan woke up, he was surprised to see Dirk and the doctor seated beside him, along with the old man.

Just after Nathan left to his aunt’s place, the doctor and Dirk had followed him to the same destination. The doctor knew that the only way he could cure Nathan of his troubled mind was to expose him to his very fear. It was an experiment, as a part of exposure theory. Nathan loved his aunt, but his timid nature never had the courage to express the gratitude to her, for all the affection showered by her. So, when his aunt expired, he was locked between the reality of his aunt’s death and the imaginary world of his aunt’s presence. This transfused into his adulthood and the fear of the unknown, only became bigger.

Nathan is rehabilitating faster than expected. He dreams sometimes, for instance, his aunt tickling his ears. But he is not afraid and he continues his sleep peacefully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Trodden Paths

Kannur or Cannanore, is a coastal town in the Southern Indian state of Kerala. I was born there and hence, I hold a special attachment to that place.

Kannur is known for its handloom industry and its various traditional rituals, still prevailing in modern times, and giving us a feeling of how small towns are a tad slow to be intimidated by the modern world.

While most Indians jest Kerala, as being a land of lungis, I have seen a transition in the mindset of young Keralites, who now prefer Denim Jeans and Corduroy trousers over the easy wearing lungi (despite its new avatar of Velcro and Pocket lungis) and therefore, adding the lungi clad men in the list of endangered species.

Speaking of the place, Kannur is home to several age-old temples, such as, the Kadalayi and the Parassini-kadavu temples.

I had been to the Parassini-kadavu temple with one of my friend, a Bengali, and who was so keen to visit the small towns of India that I took him to my place on our next visit. It is a famous temple, whose primary deity is Muthappan, a widely regarded, powerful God in Kannur.

Although, I’am a Malayali (native of Kerala) by birth, I do not know much about the local traditions, because I was brought-up elsewhere in India. Hence, me and my Bengali friend were total strangers in the temple. My friend was the most affected (as the traditions of North India varied by the extremes) and was a perplexed lot by the strange customs. He even had difficulty when the priest offered him the holy vermilion. It was a comical situation. He protruded his head forward, expecting that the priest would smear the vermilion on his forehead (as customary to the North Indian temples), but, that did not happen, and both seem to stare at each other, questioning their stance. I later informed him that most temples in Kerala, offered the vermilion by hand, rather than smearing it on the fore-head.

We had come at a good time, as the temple was performing a Muthappan Theyyam, a ritual involving Muthappan, who is a representative of Lord Shiva, and who is believed to fulfill the wishes of the devotees.

Muthappan is home to the people of Kannur alone, and is worshipped only at the Parassini-kadavu and Kunathoor  Pady temples.

The Parassini temple is special, as it is the only temple that offers non-vegetarian offerings (Dried fish and toddy) during the festival season. Legend says that Muthappan was always accompanied by a dog and therefore, the temple authorities has sculpted an idol of a dog at the entrance of the temple. We saw dogs wandering inside the temple premises and it is said that, till date, there were no attacks caused to human beings by these creatures.

I had witnessed the Theyyam, on a couple of occasions. It is a part of the local tradition and is conducted only once, at a specific time of the year. The start of this ritual commences after the Pooja at Kotiyoor temple and the last Theyyam is conducted at Kalarivathukkal Bhagavathy temple.

It is believed that the Kalarivathukkal Bhagavathy derived its name from the ancient martial art form Kalaripayattu, as the Goddess Bhagavathy was considered as the mother of this martial art.

While the Muthappan Theyyam is dedicated to Lord Shiva, there are other Theyyams, dedicated to other forms of the Lord, and which are not conducted at the temple premises, but, at a Kavu (a piece of land as sacred as the temple premise).

The ritual is performed from dusk till dawn and is attended by numerous devotees (including Western tourists), who spend their time watching the performance.

Kannur is lustrously green, in fact, almost the entire Kerala belt is a vast-stretch of green carpet. You could see wild shrubbery all around (peer your eyes and you could find more greenery) and the walls are still covered with lichens. This greenery coupled with the monsoon rains is a real treat for people from the city. The tiny droplets of water falling from tree-tops, tiled roof-tops; the red muddy channels of flowing rainwater on roadsides, children playing in muddy puddles; the occasional peep of the sun and then, the rainbow introduces an euphoric experience to one and all.

A little mention on St. Angelo Fort, one of the well preserved forts of the country. Built by the first Portuguese Viceroy of India, Dom Francisco de Almeida, it portrays the glory and the charm of an old European citadel. I like this fort, because it faces the vast Arabian Sea on one-side and you could actually walk on its ramparts and enjoy the warm sea breeze. This fort is protected under the Archaeological Survey of India.

I had been to India’s longest drive-in beach, the Muzhapillangad Beach. This beach in Kannur is about 5.5 kms in length and is considered amongst the top six beaches in the world for driving. Once could see many bikers enjoying their evenings, performing stunts and taking snaps with their crazy postures. There is also one Dharmadam Island, just across the beach. At low tides, people could walk in the knee-deep waters towards the island.

There are other notable beaches in Kannur, the most famous one being the Payyambalam beach. But, I prefer the calm Chaal beach. It is a pretty little beach, always isolated, and I last went there with my wife, my brother (cousins included) and the Bengali friend. Upon seeing the beach and its serenity, the youngsters immediately removed their shirt and trousers, and hurled themselves in the sea for bath and sport, whereas, me and my wife had a long walk.

We all know that Keralites love their coconuts and majority of their cuisines are prepared using the coconut oil. Coconut oil is well known for its digestive abilities and is also considered good enough to be consumed by an infant.  The dish I like the most is fried Sardine or Mathi and I’am a pampered lot by my in-laws who treat me with my favourite dish and many others, on each visit. I think being in Kerala, you are treated with the best fish dishes in the world for that matter.

There is much to explore this beautiful town and I shall write more about it after my next visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I Flew…

I’am chicken-hearted when it comes to travelling by aeroplanes. The mere mention of flying would send waves of shivers to my spine. I had flown before, on two occasions, both domestic and short distance travels. But, this time it was different. I was supposed to travel to Dubai on work and that only meant a long distance travel, and on my nemesis.

I was thrilled from the outside that I was travelling to a foreign land. But inside, it was the opposite. I had my own fears.

Since I’am not a frequent flier, I knew little less about the formalities that one had to follow at the airport. So, I had one of my colleagues write and send me an email about it. To my surprise, he mailed me a detailed (procedural) instruction on what one needs to do during departure and also on arrival at Dubai. I was mighty pleased and immediately took a print out of the instruction sheet (A two page manuscript it was).

Although I was busy most of the days, my primal fear of flying somehow seemed to creep in from nowhere. My fear was a plane crash and I know it is a dreaded thought, even as I write this.

I stopped reading newspapers or watch the news for the rest of the days, in the fear that there would be news on some kind of an air crash which would demotivate me. To make things worse the TV aired the movie Neerja. On any other day, I would have watched such a good movie, but now, the story of that movie was an add-on fear.

My fears kept haunting me and I finally decided to speak to my wife and mother about it. With the best choice of words, I explained them that I was scared of flying and the fear of me dying in the event of an air crash was bothering me. That was comical and silly at the same time, and they both roared to laughter.

They assured me that nothing of that sort would happen as flights were one of the safest means of travel and if fate has destined such an occurrence, then, we cannot change it. This assurance somewhat alleviated my fears and I was back to normal, partly though.

The day of my journey finally arrived. I ensured that my instruction sheet was tucked in my pocket. I remembered to pray God and promised Him that I would visit the nearby temples on safe return. That was one way of assuring myself that I would return back safely. That done, I got into the car and almost forgot to wave at my mother.  My wife as always, was confident, and seeing that I decided to curb my fears. Maybe they were right after all that I need not fear that much. I decided to surrender myself to fate.

Luckily for me another colleague of mine were travelling in the same flight. I called him and he informed me that he would arrive at the airport on time. A company is always good in such occasions.

As I arrived at the airport, I took out my favorite possession and studied the first instruction. It said ‘Show your passport and ticket to the policeman at the entrance’. The instruction was word perfect and things went exactly as it was scripted. I was beginning to feel like a mercenary with a mission, as in movies.

The second instruction read “Go to the designated counter and submit your passport and baggage. Receive the boarding pass’. I was about to search for the counter, when an airport security staff asked me to go to the security counter to have the baggage scanned. This step was missing in my instruction sheet and I lost my faith on it.

After the baggage check I went to the counter and received my boarding pass. At this point, I decided to wait for my colleague. What if I had to undergo another unknown process which was not listed in the instruction sheet.

My colleague arrived on time. We shook hands and I remained calm. I made sure to show-off that I was not referring to any instruction sheet and informed him in a confident voice that I had collected my boarding pass. To my disappointment, he did not for see anything and went to collect his own boarding pass.

Post immigration control we sat at the gate for infinity. I was beginning to feel nervous again, so, I called my wife who gave me another dose of assurance. But as the time was nearing to board the plane, my fears were starting to become more immune to any form of assurance.

The announcement was made to board the plane and we walked towards it. I looked at my colleague just hoping that he too was nervous, but, he just smiled back at me.

Inside the plane, me and my colleague were offered different seats. He was seated somewhere in the back where I could not run and reach him on an event of any danger. To add to my already worse situation, I was given a window seat.

A fat lady sat beside me, squeezing her bulky frame in the seat. Helpless I sat quietly in my seat. Finally, the plane moved and I started my prayers. I closed my eyes and clenched my fists during take-off and once in the air I just glanced outside the window. It was a scary sight, to look at the landscape below. The earth circled around in front of my eyes and I decided to pull the shutter of my window, but, the fat lady was already peering through it, almost over me. So, I decided not to close it as it might offend her.

This was a day flight and if it was this scary, I began to wonder how it was like flying in the night.

My nerves calmed once we were above the clouds. By now I had no fear or any sort of feeling. I was numb. I began to wonder if I were already dead. I looked beside me and the fat lady was munching on some cookies of an unknown brand.

Admist all the chaos, I was experiencing this new found sense of calmness. From where did that come from? Maybe it was the aftermath of fear. There was a growing sense of pride, because, I thought I had overcome my fear, and why not, I was thousands of feet above the ground with nothing but the airplane’s base separating me and the ground below. A sudden turbulence would then bring me back to my apprehensive state.

Time began to crawl and since I had nothing to do, I decided to take a nap. The next time I was awake was when the flight attender announced to us that we were reaching Dubai. I woke up and looked around as if to assure that I was still in the plane. Everyone were peering outside their windows. I gathered some courage and looked outside and it was an awesome sight. The towering buildings and the modern landscape was wonderful to look at.

We finally landed (safely for me) and I bid adieu to my colleague. I chuckled at the thought that all the while my colleague hardly knew about this fearful disposition of mine. I slung my backpack and walked outside the airport where another colleague of mine were to receive me.

It is still laughable when I think about it, and as of today I have somehow overcome my fear to a certain percentage. Perhaps there is nothing to fear after all.

 

A Tryst with Nature

It had a been a long day for me. As I head home in the bus, I notice a series of natural wave patterns created by the sand being dragged by the hot summer wind on the jet black tar road. It was a wonderful sight, to see how these art forms were being created – Nature at work.

Suddenly, the pattern is disrupted by a speeding car. The beautiful patterns, now converted to dust smoking in the air and I start to believe, that is what humans are – born to disrupt the nature’s way of working.

The human vermins, and their ever inflating desire to be lords of their own world, had never paid any heed or even respect the very nature where they breed or on which they are depended on. In the name of modernization, they have been ravaging the earth for years, scavenging on every useful material that is available to fulfill their desires of domination.

The result – the crisis of global warming seems to be on a rise. For example, India has seen a spike of 0.6 degrees in the last 110 years. Not only that, the previous decade (2001 to 2010) was supposed to be the warmest when compared to the last four or five decades. The death toll due to the abnormal high heat waves was estimated to be over two thousand across the country. These statistics are alarming and this is just one country. What about the rest of the world?

We have heard much about melting glaciers in the Arctic and Antartic circles. A recent news injected fresh fears, stating that the melting ice could expose (so far) dormant viruses into the waters. These ancient viruses, which were thought to be eradicated over a million years ago could now spread across the world in a matter of time. We talk proudly about our achievements and advancements in science. Well, is our science prepared to counter such a sudden pandemic attack?

These are just a few references of (mostly man-made) calamities and we know there are many more. I cannot blame humans entirely for their modernization. We have created wonders for the benefit of the world. When I say ‘man-made’, I would also like to bring forth a wonderful creation by man, the fantastic 48 mile waterway that interlinks the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, which is called the Panama Canal.

So, if we can create something as beneficial as the Panama Canal, we should also focus our creations to conserve the nature, for our future generations.

Just look around us and the diminishing natural wonders. If we do not preserve them today, there would be hardly anything for our future generations to witness and enjoy.

One such natural wonder is the Green Lake in Tragoess, Austria. It is just another beautiful park, but what enhances its beauty is something you could never imagine. Every year, the ice from the Karst mountains melts and the water submerges the park to form a beautiful lake. You could actually dive and see the underwater landscape. Walkways, bridge and even a bench could be seen in the crystal clear water.

All these could just vanish, if we do not handle the nature with care. Maybe we are more used to the catastrophic instance of being submerged under water. Well, lets us not allow that to happen.

Let us remember that nature has to be preserved with extreme care, as if it were a box of items made of glass. If we have plans for our survival, then, nature has to be nurtured with care and caution.

It is heartening to see what is being done at various levels now. Governments and other organizations are taking initiatives to encourage people to plant saplings in their surroundings. It is a good initiative, and if one locality takes the first step, it is likely that the same will infiltrate into other localities and maybe we could have a greener environment after all.

Rivers considered almost dead are being revived. For example, Art of Living’s (AOL) initiative ‘Jal Jagruthi Abhyan’ has successfully helped revive two rivers in the state of Maharashtra, with the help of volunteers and the support of villagers.

These are noble examples of how we could together contribute to the nature, to uplift it and then, to preserve it.

Let us not just say that the Earth is a better place without humans. Maybe we can disprove it and instill faith to fulfill our dreams of a greener, cleaner Earth and preserve the many wonders for our future generations to see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brimful of Geordie

Prologue

I borrowed the title (of this story) from the, then famous, Cornershop song “Brimful of Asha”. That song was dedicated to Asha Bhosle, whereas, this post is all about me being a Geordie. Infantile humour! you might think of, yet, I want you to continue reading…

The idea to write this story came from not long ago, after I had a friendly argument with one of my mates. It was the usual tete-a-tete on Facebook, when we hit upon sports. I knew he was interested in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), but, was unaware that he was its mighty fan. So, I randomly asked him what made him so fascinate about that sport. In reciprocation, he questioned what fascinated me in my club, Newcastle United?

There was a momentary pause between me and my sparring partner and both knew that a message was conveyed to my sub-conscious mind. That message made me glad and inconclusive at the same time. Inconclusive because, I was unsure whether I was really passionate about my club and if yes, by what periphery?

2014-15: The Beginning

It was in the winter of 2014, I watched a movie called “Goal! The Dream Begins” on TV. The story revolved around a young lad from Mexico, who would travel to England to fulfill his dream to be a footballer and who eventually ends up being a superstar with Newcastle United.

The story and its soundtrack (since it mostly played songs of my favourite band Oasis) had an overpowering effect on me, that, there was an instant decision made to be a Geordie.

Now to tell you, Geordie is a native of Toon (or town [here Newcastle]) or in general, my club fanatic.

Next, I researched and did much to know about the club and its players. I was happy to see the heavily tattooed, well-built and physically fit players of the club (reminding me of Mutton Ka Dukaan as mentioned by Johnny Lever in one of his movies). I could now boast with my mates.

The English Premier League season had started by then, and I was soon watching my club play for the first time. I was now one amongst them and my fascination grew skywards.

2015-16: Height of Madness

As my liking to this new found passion grew, I also changed my profile name on Facebook by prefixing “NUFC” (for Newcastle Football Club) to it, something like Rupesh ‘NUFC’ UK. I see many cretins in the fan base do that, hence, my desire in doing the same.

I enjoyed studying banters hurled between different club members on the fan sites. Mockery it was, but all in good sense.

I came to know that my club had a healthy rivalry with another club called Sunderland. Tempers normally flare up during derby matches and the banters usually end up being nasty. Somehow all these made me believe that club rivalries turn fan bases into cliques.

In between, I asked my brother to order a club hoodie, as it was not available in Bangalore, and I had to ask him as it was easy for him to purchase the merchandise from U.S.A. Seeing my situation, he also bought me a name plate that had our (sacred) ground’s name engraved on it. I still have it displayed on my Facebook profile.

But despite all this fanatic fervor, the club ran into bad times as if someone had cast a spell on it. Problems took turns and it started to loose derbies and eventually dropped the pecking order to be relegated to the Championship.

To make a honest confession, the club became a mid-table team since I became a fan, so, I sometimes wonder if I were the curse. I shudder at that thought.

2016-17: The Resurrection

Upon relegation, I did not lose heart and by some astral influence the club played really well in the Championship and they bounced back to the Premier League, at the first time of asking (a rarity for teams taking the plunge into the chasms of the Championship).

Now, to make things worse for our rivals, they were relegated this season. As fans, we only think it was Karma that had be-felled on our arch rivals to get relegated (as opposed to their banters).

Epilogue

So, the happy news is we are back in the Premier League (and secretly eyeing the Champions league spot this time).

Howay the lads!!!

A gig and meditation

My wife and I were eagerly awaiting for the 13th of May, to celebrate our beloved Guruji, Sri Sri Ravishankar’s birthday. On this day, the Art of Living (AOL) foundation was organizing a “World Meditation Day” event, which webcasted, would see a participating bean count of millions across the planet.

We were more elated, when we received an open invitation via Facebook from a certain organization, to attend Sumeru Sandhya, a musical program to celebrate Guruji’s Birthday at the Sharjah Expo Center.

Now, it was an exciting moment for me as this was my first musical event. I was always fascinated by the rock bands of the West and their gigs, but, this one was special.

I call it as “Special” because of my bondage with Sri Sri. I was a reluctant lot (nah, may be naive!) before joining Sri Sri’s foundation, but, then you might all have experienced certain miracles that have had happened in your lives, which paved your way to happiness.

Back to our elated moment, we planned our trip to the Expo Centre. The Expo Centre, which usually has, a running calendar of events, was bustling with people for the three-day Consumer Electronics Fashion (CEF) event that ran simultaneously with our event. By the time we arrived, a sizeable crowd was already present in the neat conference hall, witnessing a list of cultural programs that followed soon after. There was a variety of programs, such as, song and dance, which then concluded with a Chanda melam (Kerala’s traditional drum artist’s performance).

The presenter then announced the start of the Sumera Sandhya program, which we all were waiting for. The chief invitee of this show was one Master, Sri. Manikantan Menon, who was an AOL teacher and a great musician. The master arrived with his retinue and the stage was set for the musical extravaganza.

Lights now dimmed across the hall and the only visible light was the one focused on the centre stage. The hall was silent apart from the mild cacophony of children playing in a corner. The master then started to sing songs praising the Divine or Bhajans, and requested everybody to join him. All clapped and sang. Since, I was not aware of the lyrics, I ended up tapping my hand on my thighs instead. My neighbour started to hum the tunes, perhaps he too was not aware of the lyrics himself. After a couple of melodious songs, the master sang a crowd favourite. My neighbour became delirious and started to sing loudly.

The fact that I want to highlight here is that admist all the singing of this cohesive unit, there was a blissful atmosphere that had formed, and one could actually experience the positive energy floating in the hall. You could see, this crowd was enjoying the moment!

This was followed with what I had not expected at all. Meditation.

The master guided us in a step-by-step procedural manner on how to perform the meditation. I have always noticed the similarity on how the masters of AOL guide us to this blissful form. In between, the master would play his flute which brought tranquility in the air. It is a proven fact that whilst meditating deeply, one would always hear the divine sound of lord Sri Krishna playing His flute and perhaps, that was what being conveyed in the moment.

I usually have the concentration of a gnat while meditating and I was searching for ways to overcome it. But today, I could actually connect with my soul while meditating in this congregation. It was energetic, peaceful.

The master asked us to slowly open our eyes. He then asked us how the experience was, and we all replied with a big thumbs-up symbol. True to its name, meditation has its own unique and unknown power.

There were more songs and people were requested to dance this time. The song and music began to play from the Bose sound system and people danced in delight. What a night!

In the end, the master cut the cake, followed by the meeting with the master. Several photographs and selfies were being taken by the attendees. My wife, an ardent disciple of Sri Sri, rushed to the front and was glad to receive the master’s blessings.

The crowd slowly dis-assembled and we came back home, happy with this mystical experience.

We now gear up for the World Meditation Day program and to celebrate Guruji’s birthday.

Jai Gurudev!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviving my long lost interests

Pencil Sketch

To start with, let me say that I was always good at art. “Pencil Sketch“, I would proudly tell my family and they would agree to it, mostly by default.

That was aeons back, and for some reason I did not continue sketching or maybe I could not, because, the ever demanding expectations and the strict way of upbringing me, lead to gradually lose my interest in art, that, I never gave a thought about the fact that it would be extinct from my life.

In short, I never sketched again for the next 25 years, until last year, when I visited one of my wife’s cousin in Sharjah, U.A.E. The fellow (a novice at art) displayed his wonderful oil paintings. That instantly stimulated my brain and from nowhere it reminded me of my own creative instincts.

All I did next was to purchase a note book and some graphite pencils for practice. That said, I’am glad to say, I could still draw and with a certain ease that was made up of a renewed interest.

Blogging

In 2006, I developed a new hobby of blogging. I used to write on many interesting topics for the sole joy that it would be posted on the Internet.

I even wrote for a Cricket website. I was excited as my article used to be posted during an innings break, that is, I used to cover both the innings LIVE and post it during its break. Boy, I was an excited lot then.

The interest in writing molded me into a professional writer, but, strangely, the interest for blogging suddenly subsided.

Although, I did not make a serious attempt to restart my blogging interest, I was never far away from reading interesting blogs online.

I feel I should start my own blog posts, hence, this second renewed interest dawned in me.

God Speed to my interests!