Monday, October 22, 2007

darkness spilled out?

this phrase caught my attention recently in a fairly depressing book i was reading (the piano teacher by elfriede jelinek).

we are all familiar with the phrase 'light spilled out' but not 'darkness spilled out'. this implies that light moves into areas where there is no light and drives away darkness, so to speak.

darkness can never drive away light. darkness cannot survive where there is light.

the same is also applicable to knowledge.
- knowledge drives away ignorance.
- ignorance cannot survive with knowledge.
- knowledge spreads ... not ignorance. (though rumors tend to spread like wild-fire :-) i believe rumors are a version of the truth!)
- we are never comfortable with ignorance (though we do say ignorance is bliss!)... knowledge never feels like a burden.

and now when you apply this to happiness,
- whenever the cause of sorrow is removed we become happy... it shines forth from within us.
- sorrow departs from within us and what remains is happiness.
- sorrow can be spread but you don't find any eager buyers for it. happiness can be spread and nobody turns it away.
- and happiness is never a burden... unlike sorrow.

according to vedanta, knowledge and happiness are aspects of our true nature. and anything which is our true nature will always come naturally to us. we will never shun it... it is never a burden.

Monday, October 15, 2007

a day in mumbai with less than 100 rupees

i don't know about you, but there have been many occasions when i have found myself in situations with less than 100 rupees (a little less than 3 dollars given the rate at which the rupee is strengthening) in my wallet!

in the reckless days of my youth this could be attributed to my pecuniary condition. but in the recent past it was only because of the fact that i was caught unawares (my wife would be more precise and call it 'carelessness').

but i am sure it is possible to survive a day in any city, like in mumbai, with only small change in your pocket. it is quite a novel experience actually and i would strongly recommend this adventure to most of you who haven't tried anything like this in the recent past.

here's what you could do with to 100 rupees and still survive in mumbai -

1. have bun-maska and chai (bread, butter and tea) for breakfast at any irani restaurant - Rs. 10

2. bus ride to office - Rs. 5

3. thali at local udipi restaurant - Rs. 35

4. cutting chai - Rs. 3

5. sandwich or bhel at roadside stall - Rs. 10

6. auto rickshaw ride to train station - Rs. 15

7. train ticket (second class) - Rs. 5

8. auto ride home - Rs. 20

i know, i know... it adds up to more than 100. i happened to have some loose change in my wallet!

but the point i am making is that many of us lead a protected life-style where we never manage to experience the other side of the city. and the majority of the people are on the other side. over time we get too far detached from the sweatier side of our daily lives. and we also protect our kids from this 'other side'.

i think it is a good idea to occasionally expose them to the other side so that they can appreciate whatever they take for granted in their lives. take them out by public transport (bus, train, auto, etc.), let them play in a public park, let them visit the local vegetable market, eat out in a small udupi restaurant, and all that.

apart from teaching them valuable lessons in life, it can be a fun-filled, memorable adventure for the entire family.

try it out!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

music mania

the most natural form of expression of joy in man is said to be dance. but the most expressive language for communication of this joy and all other emotions is music.

the universal language for emotions is music. and there is no person on this earth who can say that music does not touch her. if it doesn't then she is either dead or soulless.

wikipedia defines music as "Music is an art form consisting of sound and silence expressed through time." but one of the best definitions of music i have come across is here - basking in the light - IV.

have you noticed how we identify with specific songs/artists/lyrics/music? it reflects our moods and our growth. our favorites change over time. and sometimes we keep going back to the same songs even after ages.

and some songs catch the imagination of an entire nation/ age. they literally become anthems for the generation. whether it is 'hotel california' by the eagles or 'we don't need no education' by pink floyd or 'chak de india'.

i remember when i was in school and college, i used to get deeply moved by some songs which would reflect my state of mind at those times. especially when we are going through confusions or phases of infatuation or frustration. (they mostly used to go hand-in-hand :-) )

the beatles used to be one of my favorites in school. and i used to feel that they used to have a song for every mood that i went through. they even had one when i had a bad toothache - 'here i stand with head in hand, turn my face to the wall'. though i am sure that's not what they had in mind when they wrote the song :-) but that's the point. we see our thoughts and feelings getting reflected in certain songs and we identify with them. we feel as though the song was written specifically for us at that point of time.

but i also cannot understand how some people who like music get so focused on a particular genre that they are just not able to appreciate any other. and many of these are people who have a far subtler sense of music appreciation than people like me. even among indian classical music enthusiasts, i am sure you have met purists of hindustani or carnatic who just cannot stand the other form.

i think such a person's heart is just not large enough!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

office picnic to matheran

this must have been the first time ever that we went on a trip over consequtive weekends. last weekend we went to jaipur with friends (trip to jaipur). and this weekend we went on our annual office picnic to matheran.

many of you who have been to matheran know it is a popular (and therefore overcrowded) weekend getaway from mumbai and pune. and chances are that 7 out 10 people you meet in matheran are gujjus! (thanks to the gujjus!)

but our team of more than 50 people from office had one of the most memorable annual trips in the recent past. and the reason for this was the adventure activities and games that we had organised for the first time.

i personally did rappelling, valley crossing and jhummering (rope climbing) for the first time. and so did my wife and prasann (my son).

here's a link to the few pics that i managed of this trip.

so, all in all, a very enjoyable and fun weekend was had by all.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

trip to jaipur

we went on a weekend trip with friends (the majumdars and the punaters) to jaipur, the pink city. the color might have been pink when the maharaja had originally ordered everyone to paint the city pink (i am sure he must have meant red) to welcome the prince of wales in 1853. but now most of the buildings along the main market avenues look more orange and various shades of red, than pink!

what struck me more than the color pink was the sheer variety of modes of transport : elephants, horse carts, bullock carts, camel carts, bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles, cycle-rickshaws, auto-rickshaws (2 versions), cars, buses, trains, planes, etc.

we did the usual tourist haunts including - chokhi dhani, hawa mahal, city palace, and amber fort. and we indulged in gastronomical sins of the highest order by pigging out at chokhi dhani, rawat mishthan bhandar, lakshmi misthan bhandar, etc.
the city does give you a sense of the royalty and grandeur that was prevalent in the past. you also notice that, for its age, the city was a very well-planned city as compared to most of the other cities in the north.
nett-nett, we had a fun-filled, relaxing and yet tiring weekend (if you know what i mean) in jaipur. (but i wouldn't want to do it again anytime during the summer months).
here's some pics of our trip to jaipur.