Tuesday, January 31, 2006

One sun and one sea

The posts are raining in on me by the dozen. Though they are not serving any particular purpose, they are cropping up phenomenally fast.

What if I had never let you go,
Would you be the man I used to know,
If I'd stayed, if you'd tried,
If we could only turn back time,
But I guess we'll never know...

It rings true, doesn't it? Okay, okay... I'll crib about something else for a change. My time seems to be not of any value any more. The whole world is busy with something. While I? I am supposed to be whiling my time away, I suppose. Everybody is worried why I am not doing anything. How can I be content, being the semi-educated, unemployed, out-of-tune, tactless person I am right now? It's like this dry, itchy, lump stuck in everybody's throat! And here I am neck deep in work (read trouble over an about to be missed deadline) !

While I am at it I might as well crib about people who do not reply to my sms (or is it sms's?). The whole point of sending an sms is instant communication. I always reply, sooner or later. Then why doesn't everybody? They just eat up the messages! It causes me so much unnecessary distress.

Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa to nahi, shikwa nahi, shikwa nahi,
Tere bina zindagi bhi lekin, zindagi to nahi, zindagi nahi, zindagi nahi.

Achievement of the day was that I cleaned my bathroom. Got a bottle of sulphuric acid (Mum started screaming on the phone the minute I told her this... but its a good stain remover... really!), and cleaning fluid and brushes and cloth and old chappals. It took me the good part of an hour to do it but now it looks sparkling clean. Then I had a cold water bath! Rat-a-tat-a-tat.... my teeth are still chattering. Aaatchooo! Sniff!

I had bun and cheese for brunch today. Got another `nay' from a place I had applied to, for a job. Chatted with S, S and S. While S told me about his first day at the new job, and S told me about what I was or was not allowed to do in my condition, S was appalled by my brunch menu! In the meanwhile, I am beginning to get a delicious story idea. I'll let it simmer inside my head for sometime I guess.

Don't these look divine? One sun, one sea and yet they combine to give birth so many magnificent hues. Beautiful reminders of a life altering journey...

Sunrise at Pondicherry Beach
Sunrise at the Pondicherry Beach
Sunrise at Marina Beach, Chennai
Sunrise at the Marina Beach, Chennai

Aap ka gam jo is dil main din-raat agar hoga,
Soch ke ye dum ghut ta hai phir kaise guzar hoga,
Kaash na aati apni judai, maut hi aa jaati,
Koi bahane chain hamari rooh to paa jaati.

Ik pal hasna kabhi, dil ki lagi ne na diya,
Zeher bhi chaha agar, peena to peene na diya.

Fighting rigor mortis

So it starts... or so it ends? One of the two. It's 1:20 a.m. and I am still working. Why? It is the only way I have to keep my head occupied. Everybody seems to have had it upto here with my crying. I have been asked when I am going to go back to being happy.

I think I am going to flip the happiness switch on and try to stop being a fanatic from now on. There is enough work to last many days, and so I'll be suitably overworked. I kind of like the sleepy stupor in which I am writing this post. It gives me a feeling of being under the influence of an aphrodisiac (which goes on to show my experience with aphrodisiacs of any kind).

I've been very slow today. Everything seems to have become sticky, coated with a gooey syrup of incomprehensibility. For example, I cannot understand why anyone would go to the other corner of the world to start a life, when everything one likes is right here. I cannot understand why does the most stupid of all questions seem the most pertinent - How am I concerned with all this? I know I should not meddle in such affairs. I must not meddle. It only adds to the general state of confusion already prevalent around me.

Something bittersweet happened on Sunday. My friend of five years, S, left for his new job. Dressed in his quintessential chappals and torn jeans, with dense cigarette smoke hiding his demure countenance, S has a heart of gold. He's the only person I know who has more trouble saying `no' to anyone, than me. I've known S, worked with him day in and day out, even scolded him at times in my assumed states of grandeur (even though he's a year or two elder to me). I have seen him get married, and survive the ordeal. I can personally vouch for a brilliant mind behind his droopy eyes, and an excellent taste for all varieties of cooked food (I've never caught him eating anything raw, though I cannot be certain). All through Thursday, Friday and Saturday I worked with him to help finish his thesis. Finally when he was getting on to the auto, I could not help but hug him. I guess S is not very used to other men hugging him, and hence I'll pardon his quite visible surprise. Now that he is gone, I am once again reminded of the need to move on. Something tells me the time is quite close at hand.

Ah, but I must thank somebody before I conclude this post. Thank you, for sharing a piece of the sun with me. It felt so warm. I can at least try to go back to being happy now.

Say Cheese!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Veiled insanity

The past week has been a blur. I am still stuck in a time warp. Afraid that if I move a muscle my soap bubble will burst. Yet and in spite of me, the world continues on its own. It's most surprising really (and annoying) how the world around me manages to get back to being itself. People, who one thought would be forever the same, being the most transient of the lot. I, for instance, have never been so afraid before.

When the world shrinks into a two room apartment and all time squeezes into one afternoon, the mind thinks of things one would have usually thought over a lifetime, over one weekend. I, in my supreme naivete always believed that to love was the easiest thing to do, and that one only needed another one to love one back. I thought that was pretty much all it needed. I guess I must have invited the spite of someone up there, for He seems to have looked down, smiled and made sure I got the full import of the four letter word.

He's made me see love in all forms over the past few days. Earlier I could stand in front of a idol of Krishna for hours, and not do of anything. Not pray for anybody, not ask for anything and not think of anything at all. I could just shut my mind off. It felt like I did not need my mind anymore. And all this time I was never overtly concerned with religion. It was there, as some part of my life and that was just it. I was not an atheist and yet I had never analyzed what I believed. I was firmly placed within the bounds of logic and reason. Somehow, mathematics seemed a safer bet. Then, She happened!

And She brought with her beliefs, questions and faith, so strong and so pure in their innocence, that I was swept off my feet. She forced me to think about what I believed in, and all this while He smiled. For He knew the answers I would find. He knew that I would see His love for all life, equal and pure. He showed me that He is the same for all those who seek Him out. He showed it to me on the same journey I undertook to seek Her. And yet He knew, the very answers I'll find, will take me away from Her. He gave me the capacity and the reason for infinite love, and then He took the reason away. And now I cannot stop loving. Now I know why I always felt I should have stayed with mathematics.

What becomes of all this I have no clue. I am beginning to get more and more convinced that left to myself, I'll probably go mad. I like my work too much to compromise on what I do. To do it really well I have to move on, and I cannot move on unless I cut myself away. He seems to have distanced himself for the moment, for He's not offering me any answers. I have always somehow thought that another hand would hold mine when I step out into the world. Since I do not have that hand as my anchor, I am quite sure that if I let go and let my work take over my life, I'll not stop till I burn out.

Perhaps, I'll find some peace in the flames.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Silent screams

Innocent desires made mute,
Lost amongst wails of want,
Iron-clad reasons refute,
Claims of an idiot savant.

Unsaid truths hide in sight,
Cowering at any lambent touch,
Surrender preempts the token fight,
Preserving quiet intact, as such.

Manifest in the briefest pause,
Between breathless lines,
Entwined in passionate claws,
Serene, divine designs.

Broken flows quell a final roar,
Submerge in a quivering still,
Malady cannot any medicine cure,
Confined alone, weakened, free will.

After the touch and go ends,
The dust in the air settles in,
The silent wall, alive, mends,
Passive cold grows within.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Searching across India - Part IV

How can anyone love somebody whom one has never met? I have been confused over this ever since I've known her. In spite of large distances which separated us in space, every instinct I ever had said is out loud. That she was perfect. That she was the one. Even though I could not fathom what I felt, I knew it was unlike anything I had ever felt before. I had seen her picture, chatted with her and even spoken to her on the phone. And all that remained was meeting her.

Sometime last year I had decided that I'll talk to my parents about you and that I would come to Chennai to meet you in person. Exactly the next day you told me how you felt about us being together. If I had never known a greater joy than loving you, I have also never known a more searing pain than letting you go. I would have fought with the world for you, only you did not want the fight in the first place.

Star-crossed fates of two lives, brought close and yanked apart. She fit my jigsaw perfectly to the last piece. Unfortunately, I did not fit hers. I went from feeling wronged, to being bitter, to hating myself, to having no feelings at all. All over a very important period of my professional life. I worked, day and night, and in the process built walls around my heart.

In the meanwhile, she found a fiance. Someone whom she loved a lot and got engaged to. I found in myself a new strength. The strength to accept the inevitable. The strength for unconditional love. I was happy because she was. A strange calm enveloped my heart, and I knew that He was showing me the way of true love.

I have been told by a few people that whatever I felt was just an infatuation. That I tend to romanticize things beyond what they seem, and I might have believed them for a teensy-weensy second. But then you opened that door...

Standing behind a half open door, your head tilted to the side I saw you smile. Everything fell into place. Every feeling I had ever felt, every emotion I had ever fought back, every thing I believed in, everything was true. I wanted to hug you the minute I saw you, and yet you were not mine anymore. You never were.

I walked into your house. In a simple black top with pink and cream embroidered flowers along an asymmetric neckline, and a plain dull cream skirt, you looked divine. I had walked into a single girl's house, a girl I desired from the depths of my heart, for the very first time in my life, and I was not shy. Neither was I awkward. It felt so right to be there. It felt like home.

As I followed you around the house, to your bedroom and sat on the chair I was wondering, "How did I ever know it was you from so far away? How is it possible that I found you, and lost you? How was I ever going to survive after letting you go?" You offered me chocolates and I remembered the hundreds of times we had exchanged virtual chocolates before. You sat on the bed, in front of me and as the amber light played off your hair, we talked. Neither of us said what was in our hearts. I could not bear to peer deep into your eyes. I wanted to ask, "Why?" But I already knew the answer. I wanted to plead with you to reconsider, but I did not budge a single muscle. I remembered my promise that I'll never ask you again.

Then you got up to heat up the food. As you stood there, stirring the chana and chicken curry, I leaned against the kitchen door imagining a life I would never have. I wanted to embrace you and hold you in my arms. We talked about your fiance and you showed me the your engagement ring. A small, elegant ring and I could see why you liked it. I could see why you liked him so... yet when I touched your hand for the first time, to have a look at the ring, it took all the strength in the world to hold back my heart.

You being the fantastic cook that you are, obviously the lunch was superb. You ate less than I did. When you asked me when I wanted a spoon or would I rather use my hands, it did not take me a second to decide that I'd rather use my hands. It was so natural, being carefree with you around... and yet I felt the air around us bound in chains lest it blow in a direction you did not want.

We spoke about many things - our parents, our futures, your new life and the adventure it was going to be, how your parents found your fiance, how I was unsure of where I would be after this and how miserable I felt watching that sunrise alone on the Pondicherry beach. That was the closest I came to talking about myself in relation to you. You only said that I'll find somebody, someday and then I would not be alone anymore. I doubt I have enough strength left in me to do this again. After lunch, I had piece of your mother's Christmas cake.

I had coffee, while you had tea. We sat in your verandah on blue and red chairs and I remember gazing at your face, trying to imprint it on my mind. I remember snippets of Bangla I spoke to you and your childlike, gleeful laughter which erupted from time to time. I remember looking at your lips and turning my head away, when it reminded me in turn, of a conversation we had once about kissing. I saw you put the leftover food into the fridge, and carefully clean the kitchen slab by wiping it with a cloth and collecting the spilled rice and curry in your palm.

Then we went back to the bedroom again. I had been carrying the book I wanted to give you all this time in my backpack. I finally handed it over. It was my book, one I had bought for myself but I wanted you to have it. It spoke of a man whose intensity inspires me, and like whom I may burn out some day. But I would have given some warmth and joy to a few people before that happened, and I hoped you were one of those people. Inside the book was another of my incoherent letters. I asked
you not to read it then.

You showed me your portfolio. A few pages into it I realized what immense talent you had and how amazingly gifted you are. You were too modest when you showed me all this. Maybe I did not deserve you. You deserved someone so much more better than me.

Then it was time to leave. You had to go meet a sick friend, and so I had to leave early. I got up and as I walked out, you asked for a hug. Your outstretched arms were a sight I had so longed to see. I hugged you. In those few moments I wished that time would freeze and that I could hold you like that forever. I could feel my eyes brimming with tears, and I knew I had to pull away. I knew if I broke down and cried it would make it harder for both of us.

I walked out of your door knowing I would perhaps never see you again. I loved you more now, than I had ever done before. But it was also true that you were not going to be with me, not ever again. When He gives us pain I guess he gives us the strength to bear it too and so I walked away, took an auto and went back to where I came from.

The next morning I boarded the train back. In the train all I remembered was you, from the first thought when I woke up to the last thought before I fell asleep. The tears kept threatening to overflow and yet I kept them in check. I got home, wrote you a mail and then when I was alone in my bed, I let them flow.

Did I find what I was searching for? I must say I did. I also found that I could not hold on to it, even though it meant suffering a lifetime of loneliness.

I will never ask you to change. I love you for what you are, the whole of you, from the tip of every strand of your hair to the last inch of your toenail. I just want you to know that I love you, and that He guides me on my path as much as He guides you on yours. I am happy now that you have found your calling with someone you like, and I will forever pray that he loves you more than I could ever have. May all your fairy tales come true.

And so ends my search across India. I am back home now, and nothing seems to have changed here. I had to post this, because I wanted to preserve it for posterity. I pray that everybody who searches thus find what they search for, and that unlike me their find marks the beginning rather than the end...

Searching across India - Part III

All residents of Chennai should and must visit the campus of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. It is so overpoweringly beautiful, so naturally pristine and so peacefully quiet. I was put up with three other boys from Mumbai, while U was put up in the girls hostel. Y and V joined her the next day.

The conference is not quite the point of this post, so I'll stay away from relating tales about it, even though I was hijacked into giving a totally unprepared presentation! The IITM campus is just beside the Guindy National Park. Thick wooded it houses five species of deer, with the Blackbuck being an endangered species. The animals roam around in the campus in tandem with her many human occupants as if it is the most natural thing to do. I saw a mongoose family cross the road - four of them, in a straight line following each other tail, in decreasing order of length. If looked so delightfully funny. The campus has a lake, and many species of birds and many monkeys.

I was having the time of my life till I agreed to accompany U, V and Y to T. Nagar. That place eats, breathes and lives on sarees and gold! Hour after hour of Kanchipuram silks and Pochampalli cottons. They entered one shop, and I tagged along. The whole floor of sarees and women on the buying side of the counter and men on the selling side. I was the odd man out!! U actually bought two sarees I selected, which actually is due to my eye for colour and print combinations. And Y five dress pieces, and V just moved from one counter to another. Then we got out and they decided to enter another shop. I just stood outside this time and had two huge bars of mango-vanilla ice cream!

U has an unending enthusiasm for adventure and so she made us walk to the Guindy Snake park the next morning. It houses many species of cobras, pythons, vipers and other sinuous reptiles. It also has an assortment of monitors, crocodiles and turtles. All in all, a very fascinating place - as long as you got the see them from the other side of their glass walled cages. I saw a cobra up close with his hood raised and it looked so royal in its demeanour. I also saw a python open his huge mouth wide open and yawn.... it was spine chilling to get a peek inside its jaws.

That evening we made a trip to the shore temples of Mahabalipuram (or Mamallapuram as it is also called). Unfortunately the temple gate closes at 5:30 pm and we reached at 5:35 pm. So we could only look at it from the outside, but we more than made it up by climbing over the precarious rocks which line the beautiful shore line. V and me went all over the rocks, up to the very edge of the water, balancing out sandals, our cameras, a purse and a backpack and came back with all our bones intact. The sea seemed different here from the Pondicherry beach, but I have learnt the sea is different whenever you see it from a different place or at a different point of time.

The next morning, we got up at 5:30 am to catch the sunrise at the Marina. U got hold of a fisherman somehow and coaxed him to give us a boat ride. Then she coaxed us to take the boat ride. A very small boat out in the very vast waters of the Bay of Bengal, with the sun majestically rising at the even far away horizon. We got wet, splashed all over by sea water, and still had enough nerves to take pictures on the boat. I felt the enormity of the earth envelop my tiny self in an all encompassing embrace of magical proportions. After what seemed like an eternity in the open sea, We came back to the shore, and made our way back to the campus.

I was still waiting for what I had been waiting through out this trip. My first and only chance to meet her. When I stepped out of the campus and took an auto toward her house, I remembered the lines from the Alchemist: "When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true." It was coming true now.

Continued in the next post...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Searching across India - Part II

We left part of our luggage at the IITM hostels, and started for Pondicherry. A three hour bus ride along the Eastern Coastal Road on the Pondy Express will get you to Pondicherry. The speeding bus braked suddenly on the way, and U fell down her seat and got a nasty bruise on the bridge of her nose. As she cuddled beside her husband for comfort, I gazed out into the night sky, at the shining stars with the cool sea breeze blowing into my hair.

We reached Pondicherry at 9:30 pm. An auto ride got us to the Aurobindo Ashram where we pleaded for two rooms. We got them in the New Guest House of the ashram. Every room in the guesthouse has a name like Dignity, Freedom, and Integrity. My room's name was Miracle. Providence?

I had to perform surgery on a mosquito net at 1:30 am, to escape the mosquitoes. Other than that, the night passed in calm sleep until U's call woke me up at 5:30 am and her impatient voice asked me to hurry to the beach to catch the sunrise. I walked down to the beach, and the sea greeted me with her silently roaring waters. As the sky slowly turned from black, to blue, to myriad hues of yellow and red, I could hear the ocean speak to me. It spoke of the countless millions it touched everyday, in peace and in pain. As U and S walked ahead, I walked with a handycam trying in vain to capture the beauty unfolding in front of my eyes. Then the sun peeked out of the horizon mists and world turned a magical shade of golden red. I felt frozen in time and in space, all alone, forever. It was as if all the melancholy on the earth was distilled into those few rays of sunlight, which shone on me. Such sights are not meant to be seen alone, and yet here I was, condemned to witness this mystical painting of the astral skies all by myself. The sun rose into the morning sky, and we took a walk on the wharf which extended about half a kilometer into the ocean. From there the promenade and the typical skyline of a French-influenced Mediterranean settlement looked fascinating.

We checked out of the guesthouse at nine and boarded a bus tour run by the tourism department. In what still remains of its French connection, there is a uniqueness that makes it different. As a fellow French traveler on the tour bus informed me, "It is different here, outside it is India again, but here it is different." What I believe instead, is that this also, is India and there in lies her beauty. The tour began at the Aurobindo Ashram, which houses the samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. This was followed by a visit to the Manakula Vinayakar temple, which has about 45 forms of Ganesha worshipped in and around India. Then it was onto the Pondicherry Museum, which had sections on archaeology, which displayed remains of Roman amphorae and coins excavated from Arikamedu. It is the first place known to have made small, drawn (cut from a tube) glass beads. I never knew that the Romans traded with India so early on, and that bead making was an industry on its own.

Then we visited the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As other people went around clicking the magnificent gothic architecture and the French girl lit a candle, I sat down on the front most pew. As I bent my head down and prayed, I felt a strange calm fill me from within. I prayed for someone, who I know loves Jesus in a way I do not understand. And even though I have never prayed in a church before, I found what I have always known in my heart, to be true. That God hears... in all languages, in all faiths, from all beings, at all times and in all ways. That is what makes Him the same for all of us, and makes all of us the same to Him. I prayed that she finds boundless love in her life and peace in her heart, and that He always stays with her, holding her like His own child. I know He heard.

This was followed by a visit to the Botanical Gardens, where we all went on a toy train ride, giggling like little children. It was fun to be on a five-minute train ride, while everybody clicked photos of everybody else. After this, we had a sumptuous South Indian lunch at restaurant. After lunch, the first event was a boat ride in the backwaters, at the Chunambar water sports complex. The last attraction of the tour was a trip to Auroville.

As the Auroville charter says, "Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity." On 28 February 1968, some 5,000 people assembled near the banyan tree at the center of the future township for an inauguration ceremony attended by representatives of 124 nations, including all the States of India. The representatives brought with them some soil from their homeland, to be mixed in a white marble-clad, lotus-shaped urn, now sited at the focal point of an amphitheatre. In the center of the township, one finds the Matrimandir. On the outside, it is a large golden sphere, while the spacious Inner Chamber in the upper hemisphere of the structure is completely white, with white marble walls and white carpeting. In the center, a pure crystal-glass globe suffuses a ray of electronically guided sunlight, which falls on it through an opening at the apex of the sphere. There are no images, no organized meditations, no flowers, no incense, no religion or religious forms. It is the symbol of the Divine's answer to man's aspiration for perfection.

I quote the Mother:
"Let it not become a religion. The failure of religion is... because they were divided. They wanted people to be religious to the exclusion of other religions, and every branch of knowledge has been a failure because it has been exclusive. What the new consciousness wants (it is on this that it insists) is: no more divisions. To be able to understand the spiritual extreme, the material extreme, and to find the meeting point, the point where that becomes a real force."

The tour bus dropped us at the bus terminal, from where S took a bus to Bangalore, while U and me returned to Chennai.

Continued in the next post...

Searching across India - Part I

Even if the world was entirely full of maidens of unearthly charms and the only man left was me, I would still be alone. About two weeks earlier, before I left for my first venture south of the Vindhyas I was unsure of this, but now I know it for sure. Ah! But I am jumping the gun here. I must start from the start and end at the end. I have been traveling - from Delhi to Hyderabad to Chennai to Pondicherry to Chennai and back to Delhi. The official reason for the tour was that I was attending two conferences, one each in the two state capitals. The frivolous reason was that I was free and wanted to travel. The personal reason... well, that will come in due time.

On January 10, 2006, I boarded on the A.P. Express with three 21 year olds. Though all three call me "Sir," they act as if they will pull a fast one on me the moment I turn my back. For the first time in my life I was on a train, which went across the Vindhyas, to the Deccan. Agra, Gwalior, Jhansi, Bhopal, Nagpur and finally Secunderabad. My pals had all packed heavy meals with them and we ate to our fill, while the sleeper compartment brought in the special flavour of every city the train cut through. India is so incredible. The more I see of her, the more proud she seeps into my being. Beyond her chaotic cities of dirty streets, heaps of garbage, petty squabbles and dry rivers. Even beyond her pristine villages of simple lives, wandering, lost cows and flooded fields. Beyond all these are her people. People, who I believe are good at heart. People, who will help you if you just care enough to reach out. People, who are my fellow countrymen. This journey was about people more than anything else.

We played cards in the train; all four of us perched on two upper berths until 3 am. Finally, only half hour later than the scheduled time of arrival we reached the Jewel of the Deccan. For a railway platform in a metropolitan Indian city, the Secunderabad station platform was amazingly clean. But I guess the same cannot be said about auto rickshaw drivers - they are the same everywhere! After some haggling over fares, we finally coaxed a taxi to take us to our destination: IIIT Hyderabad. From there, after a quick dinner, a jalopy of an ambassador transported us and our baggage to the Hyderabad Central University hostel, where we were supposed to stay. The driver assured us that we will go `hallu, hallu' and that there was nothing to fear. This was our first brush with the typical Hyderabadi dialect. A mixture of Hindi, Urdu and Telugu - spicy like the city's cuisine and regal like its history.

Early next morning, we got a breakfast of Mysore Bhajji at the mess. Then we were hauled to the conference venue. We were transported to the IIIT campus. I will not talk much about things I did there other than saying that I was supposed to present the work of all my colleagues to some very, very smart people, which is a big responsibility and I did it quite well. After the presentation, I single handedly coaxed the boss to treat us all to Biryani - which was an even more marvelous feat. After two days, the conference got bigger and shifted to the Taj Krishna. Two more of my colleagues joined me, U and Y, who were in turn joined by their husbands, S and D respectively. An evening trip to the Golconda fort, with a light and the sound show, singing the tale of Bhagmati and the treacherous betrayal of fortunes of the fortress in battle brought forth an eerie, yet royal past of the city. Nights at the hostel were marked by card games, and midnight walks in the HCU campus to the `under the tree tops' canteen for coffee. I have not laughed so much in so long that I literally rolled off my bed, with tears in my eyes, when N played the queen of diamonds, making sure that nobody won the number of rounds they had initially bid for and all four of us got a zero!

After U presented her paper, our tourist genes kicked in. We took a boat ride in the Husain Sagar lake in the heart of Hyderabad, in the middle of which is a monolithic statue of a calm, majestic Buddha. Then we climbed up a bustling, narrow alley to the glowing white Birla Mandir for a touch of the divine. The next day we stood in a long serpentine queue, in sweltering heat, to see the exhibition of the Nizam's jewels at the Salarjung Museum. Glittering infectiously at a brilliant 184 carats, the exquisite Jacob's diamond at the exhibition made me realize what is it about diamonds that drives men crazy. I have never seen so many pearls, rubies, emeralds and diamonds in my entire life. The tour across the 40 rooms of the museum was a virtual walk through the annals of history, which left me feeling suitably in awe. The Charminar is a cauldron of human activity, much like the Chandni Chowk in Delhi. Here we went pearl and bangle shopping at the Laad Bazaar. The last stop was the Mecca Masjid. It was my first time at a mosque and I prayed. All these trips were generously punctuated with Dum Biryani and Kebabs.

At 8:20pm on the 16th, I boarded the Charminar Express bound for Chennai, with U and her husband S. Sharing the compartment of six seats with us, were an elderly Tamil couple. It was as if somebody up there wanted me to know that the language of humans does not bind the workings of the heart. None of us knew Tamil, and yet communication was perfect. The train, however, spoke the language of the Indian Railways, who were industriously at work near Nellore, trying to repair a broken track. Restricted to a single track, the train was 5 hours late. We were scheduled to leave for Pondicherry from Chennai Central. Instead, we changed our destination and landed up in IIT Madras.

Continued in the next post...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

I submit

Words. Words of wonder. Words of love. Words of prayer. Words that I never knew I had. Words I never knew I could say. Yet, I did say them. In poetry and in prose, weaved into crooked lines, giving form to my fumbling attempts at expression.

A year marks an end, and a beginning. Does it? As time flows by in gleeful laughter, mocking my mortal attempt to chart its path, I find my very existence anomalous.

It is bereft of any purpose. It is as if no colour in this universe can complete the painting I chose to draw. When the impossible of impossibles is taken away, what remains is not the possible, but just a void.

Belief in the pure and the innocent. How does it survive, when all I see is an illusion? Perhaps my sight has become weak. Or perhaps I do not posses the strength to bring the illusion to life. Today, I let go of all that which binds me to this illusion.

I submit.

Without question, nor with any haste,
Nor seeking calm amidst stormy seas,
Not jealous of another life,
Not wanting anything as mine,
Walking to the edge of the cliff,
And a step more of eternal faith.

Crying tears of the others joy,
Yet never the light shone so strong,
Neither fear nor hate remains,
No beginning, no middle, no end,
Giving it all, every breath, every drop,
I submit myself to love again.