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Rather “some walks remembered” when I made a short visit to Kolkata this month.

 

On arrival, I inhaled the scent of the city instantly feeling the ecstasy of meeting an old friend, one whom you lose touch with, but don’t need more than a few seconds to start off on a long and intimate conversation. One that transports you to the “good old days”. I believe each city/ place has a unique scent, a distinct character that cannot be described in words. I love to soak in the culture of the place, and make it a part of me, so that I can retrieve all the senses from memory when I meet the “old friend” again. Pity unlike sight, sound, & thought, science has not advanced enough to store smell and tasteJ.

 

I expected some changes to take back after the three year gap of visiting the city. Quaint and beautiful, Kolkata is the same paradox it was 3 years back. Of course, more hoardings, more cabs, broader roads, more traffic – probably the effect of a booming India and confused West Bengal ideologies on globalization and business. Pollution, humidity, roadside jaal moodis, puchkas & pav bhajis, elite social clubs, sports fanatics, pizza eaters, music buffs, rosagollas, Rabindra Sangeet, discotheques, commuters stopping buses and taxis to run across the road coolly waving their hand, beedi smoking taxi walas, road side settlements, pleasant water bodies, and confusing one-way rules. At the appropriate times of the year – Durga Pujo, a bejeweled Park Street celebrating Christmas, and mid night party bashes to welcome the New Year with a hangover! That very briefly describes the Kolkata I remembered, and that it still turned out to be J.

 

Though I had time for the streets only for a couple of hours during my weeklong stay, those memories are now appended to the train of memories that I have of the city.

 

My “walk” started with the cab dropping me off at “Minto Park” (maintained by the Belle Vue Clinic, hence called the Belle Vue Park). Surprise! The Park was much cleaner than I remembered – sidewalks enhanced, lawns inside the park were better maintained, and there was more seating area for people seeking a quiet retreat in the middle of the city. Minto Park is actually a water body surrounded by lawns and pathways for walkers. I was also fortunate to see the fountain display, which started a couple of minutes after I entered the park. The smooth ripples of water created by the wind, the orange-azure mix of the sky against the setting sun, the rising and falling sprays of the fountain, the contented look on a (random) young couple, and walkers too busy to notice any of these. Wow! I remembered the times when I used to frequent the park for walks with friends/ alone.

 

From Minto Park I walked to Wood Street, where the “chummery” was my home for quite a while. The home away from home, the meeting point of friends, a joint for gossip, fights, time pass, broken promises, and shared dinners. I went inside “22 Camac Street” mall on Camac Street/ Wood Street, a regular hangout for jobless   people with well paying jobs. I recounted the numerous Pizza Hut dinners, Chinese dosa at Bombay Shiv Sagar, the million music cassettes I used to buy from Planet M, and hajaar raids that I frequently conducted of Pantaloons and Westside. Now of course I firmly pushed my purse in, lest I forget that I have not earned by first post-MBA salary, content imagining my past exploitsJ. One minor change I noticed was, Planet M was selling I-pods tooJ

 

The next destination was Park Street. I passed by Flurrys, and the Satyam I-way browsing centre from where I used to send mails to my Chennai friends when I missed them during the early days of my employment. (I did’nt have a mobile phone then!) (Guess missing friends, finding new ones, missing them again is as eternal as “The Brook”. Communication stops mattering for some friendships; while some friendships cease; then some are revived; and then some are not. Sigh!)

 

Having completed my very brief trip down memory lane, I took a cab back to Lansdowne, trying in vain to store the scent of the city. 

Nuggets (1)

Nuggets (1)

 

1)      There is a big difference between tolerance and acceptance. If you are tolerant, you put up with people’s behaviour, sometimes do a thing or two for others, you may seem to be patient with people. But if you carry the memories and/or the associated pains it does not help at all, as it will all come out as a volcano at sometime or the other. Acceptance of people is unconditional. It arises from unconditional love, and understanding of the person. It will not keep memories and pains in storage for later retrieval. Acceptance will help forgive, forget and build.

 

2)      We like to change the people we love the most – because it is “good” for them. We take liberties with people close to us only.  In the process of effecting the change, we shift from acceptance to tolerance to intolerance. How can you love a person unconditionally if you want to change him/her constantly? Leave him alone, and he will change on his own in order to make you happy. If you meet my expectations, I like and love you, else I will try to change you. Sounds shady? It is!

 

3)      It is okay to expect love in return, but don’t expect it to be shown the same way as you would show it.

 

4)      The loudest voice may win an argument, but may not get the best result.

 

5)      The greatest gift spouses can give each other, or parents can give their children – is the trust that whatever decision you take, you would have exercised your rationality, and would think for the best of all concerned. The trust that if things don’t go as planned, you would still have done whatever you could have in your capacity. That you would not let me down when I need you the most.

 

6)      A distinction between true love, and love arising merely out of responsibility – say of parenting or marriage, “What I want to get done”, rather than how do I get him/her to do “What will make him/her truly happy”

 

7)      Finally, experiences (own or vicarious) generalized make philosophy J

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A self-made cocoon

I have increasingly come across people pitying and sympathizing with – themselves. Maybe such people were always to be found, and I am just realizing it late – maybe I am one of them – I don’t know – but I’ve begun to identify these “type” of people recently. I hate stereotyping people, and putting them into boxes, it is this omnipresent quality that can be seen in people that I want to stereotype.

 

Living inside our problems – comes naturally to us. We see our problems as major obstacles that prevent the greatness in us from manifesting. The problems could range from the most grotesque to the most silly – what is difficult for one can be extremely trivial for another J. Let me vent out a few examples: –

 

If I failed an exam, I would make a life and death situation out of it, whereas for the rag picker kid who has not touched a pen except the discarded – it is a non-issue. If I failed in a relationship, it is God’s punishment for my karma, why did I deserve this? Am I not a good person (rather the best person God ever created!!) whereas there are millions who live without anyone to call their own – let alone suffer heartbreak. I did not land my favourite job…to hell – there are people as talented as me if not more – who could not rise up in society simply because they did not have the opportunity

 

When we have a problem, we live inside it – meaning we refuse to see the world outside; people who are suffering several times more than us. We think God has been unfair to ONLY us, and to hell with the rest of the world. The more we live inside our problems, the more we get sucked into the cocoon, and giant spider webs that our mind creates. The negative energy that this creates can only worsen matters. We become insensitive to others – those worse off, or even better off – but deserve a shoulder nevertheless. Self-pity is selfishness.

 

But while we are busy sympathizing with ourselves, there are a bunch of angels (friends etc) who can see things a bit more clearly and try to make us focus on solutions. Those in the mood to help themselves would grab this rescue boat, and get ashore. Others happily absorb even the angels into the self-pity vortex.

 

Some situations are inherently – hopeless. Nothing can ever change them. So will pitying oneself and relentless cribbing change them? Doubt it.

 

My unproved theory is that this self-pity compounds with time and age. The more negative experiences we get, the stronger becomes our negative energy, and greater the power to generate more negativity!!!

 

Just keeping my fingers crossed that even when I am blinded with my own problems, I would at least have the sense to recognize angels when they are sent!!!

I am losing someone

I am losing someone

I don’t know who

The only thing I do know is that

He/ she is an integral part of me and my life

That it is like flesh torn away from my flesh

More than that in fact

It is like my heart being torn away

A part of my soul leaving me

Leaving a void which can never be filled

The void that people leave, cannot be filled by another

We just forget that there is a void

And try to go on with life as if it will all be the same

Telling ourselves that time is the best healer

That people are transient

And the only reason that they came into our lives in the first place

Was to give us some experiences that only they can give

And anyway, time, people, relationships are transient

But no, the memory of a relationship lingers

Though the pain and exultations are no longer feelings but only memories

“I remember that I was pained and that was a bad phase in my life,

But I do not feel the same pain anymore”

But does that really mean that people are transient?

Have the voids created by people in my soul ever been filled up?

Or the punctures remain as potholes making me bump and trip

In some experiences where I would not otherwise bump and trip

Then I would have a punctured soul, not capable of taking on this world

Where I revel in past relationships and people

Are people really transient?

Some people cannot be

The void that they create will remain, from a lone corner a voice will cry out

“Fill this space…fill this space”

But no, it can be filled by no other similar person

Nay, it can never be filled by even the same person

There is no “same person”

Time carries away parts of people known to us

And the known become unknown, strange after time

It comes to the same thing

The same void can never be filled –

Not by a stranger,

Nor by the same human body, whose mind is now a stranger to me

So am I bearing a punctured soul, and just afraid to look at the number of holes?

Is there a puncture mender somewhere whom I am seeking?

If I cannot mend the puncture, can someone else?

I know I am losing someone

I don’t know who

Strong yet despondent

the-thinking-man.JPG

This is a photo of the famous sculpture – the Thinking Man. The heavily built body, the well formed muscles, the square face – a picture of strength and masculinity . But it is a strange posture – the right elbow on the left knee, and face touching the hands – signs of deep thought. The Thinking man is not just thinking he is also troubled in his thoughts. The muscles of his body are tensed, and so is the expression on his face.

The Thinking man is strong yet despondent.

I wonder what is a sure sign of strength? Surely it cannot be physical prowess alone. What is mental strength is the right question…

Does one’s strength lie in his ability to solve ALL his problems himself? Is that person invincible who has built up so much strength within himself that he does not take help from others? Is personal independence a mark of mental strength?

Or does one go the Stephen Covey way viz…Personal effectiveness is the 1st step, and Inter personal effectiveness the final mark of success of a person. Then individual mental strength alone will not do. There is a further interactive process whereby a person “shares” his individual strength with those less endowed in that respect. Taking help is not seen as a sign of weakness, and hence neither is giving seen as charity.

Final question, is the mentally stronger person necessarily a happier person?

The picture only makes me ask questions, I don’t know the answers.

Another post without the “picture making me speak” ? There’s a reason why there’s no picture….I have tried several times and failed miserably – trying to take the picture of a mirror:) Every time I try, the mirror dutifully reflects my image also, and it is no more the “picture of a mirror” 🙂 Not being too techie a person, I gave up – trying to photograph the mirror – but not my attempt to understand it.

Here is a chat with my elusive mirror…

Mirror dear, you are like a flattering ‘friend’ – you show me what I want to see…if ever you refuse to abet my narcissist tendencies, I turn you away; for this friend has a specific role to play – to praise me when I look good, and turn a blind eye when I don’t. (By looking good I mean the beauty of my soul of course). Alas my friend, that is not real friendship, you will crack with the pressure of succumbing to my wishes too often, and too soon, and will be forever charged with the guilt of not bringing me onto the right path when I needed you to. You can only be a good friend if you know when to be there for me, even when I don’t know it myself.

But supposing I allow you the liberty of doing your job of reflecting always….then what happens ? There…we have entered murky waters…

My words, intentions, & actions need not be aligned in this big bad world…but you catch my reflection – which is the final metric of my integrity. One sure test of personal integrity is whether one speaks his mind, and acts his thoughts. Even if two of these don’t match – the absolute standard of integrity fails…there is NO standard than the absolute for integrity isn’t it? 🙂

So, I am actually just a bundle of my thoughts, and words…you truly reflect what I actually mean…for there is no meaning in what I think or say unless it gets reflected outside. You do not just discipline me my friend, you also give me the courage to be true to myself.

That is what I want from you, my mirror friend, help me see myself as I am, and not how I should be.

For those not familiar with the Mahabharata – Karna was a war hero, born out of illegitimate means. He was endowed with a “Divine Armour” – a golden “Kavacha” during his birth gifted by his father. The Kavacha protected him at all times against the greatest of weapons, and essentially made him invincible at war. That Karna gave this precious inheritance away to charity because his enemies exploited his inability to say No is another matter.

Every human being has a Kavacha, which I call “An Envelope of Love” that surrounds him/her. It forms and strengthens with the good wishes, prayers, love and positive thoughts fed by not just that person alone, but by his family, relatives, friends, well wishers and most of all by people who have benefited from some random act of kindness shown by the person in the past. This Envelope forms a “protective ring” around him and gives him divine guidance when he needs it the most, and prevents/ alleviates the effect of mishaps that might otherwise be catastrophic. Similarly, acts displaying insensitivity and unfair treatment meted out to people reduce the intensity of the Kavacha, exposing the person more to the elements and leaving him to fend for himself.

I firmly believe in the “Invisible Hand”…not the one propagated by Adam Smith, and the followers of his market theory, but of Divine Intervention. There are some signals given by the Envelope of Love/ Divinity/ Providence/ Intuition – whatever one may choose to call it. The spiritual maturity of a person lies in his ability to perceive these signals. Highly evolved are those who heed these signals and accept the guidance offered therein.

Listing out evidences in support for my theory is unnecessary for the Believer, and of no consequence anyway to the Skeptic 🙂 , but I can emphatically say that the events and experiences of my life reinforce my belief- that “good always comes to those who are and do good”. It may be a question of time for the Kavacha to garner strength, or for us to become mature to heed its advice or to act upon it…. but the Envelope of Love that a person unconsciously and unconditionally fosters is a Potent Armour that will protect him for sure.