Glowing Drums

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When a Tambourine
Does not click with the sound
It clicks with light
Creativity transforms

It is a long story. We could not pick-up the Dafli(Tambourine)  we ordered at Dehradun. We went looking for one in gullies of Jaipur. Going from one tiny house to other, looking at instruments that are being made was quite an experience. A hidden musical world of artisans. However, Dafli we purchased did not stay sound for long. So we forgot all about it after reaching Bangalore and it stayed in a corner waiting to see the light of the day. Today while experimenting with ink,  my dear friend got it out and we started playing with colors.  Now it is on its way to becoming a wall lamp shade. The kick from creativity continued all day long…Who knew Tambourine had its own journey!!

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State of consciousness

On the day 
when you are breathing love
and your heart
overflowing with gratitude
Lakes reveal their soul
And reflect
Mountains of bliss

I have heard from Osho about the law of effect and cause. That says if you create the effect, the cause follows. The day you are filled with joy, beloved comes!! I had chance to experience this at Dharali, a village in Uttarakand. For no reason I was feeling love and gratitude when I woke-up that day.  Then someone suggested I could hike up the the lake. Clear sky, fresh snow-fall, blue water, …,    This was perfect gift ; I screamed with joy reaching there and that made my day.

 

It rains love

Dharali cloud

Strange are some pilgrims
A lady is talking to herself; loud
sounds like a conversation with God
she seem lost
Lost in her world; oblivious to surroundings.

First saw her on the road, she was walking up; not too far from the a temple by the river Bagirathi. A few kilometers from the village Dharali.

Much later
She appeared at a restaurant where I was having my lunch
All by herself; she chose to sit
on the other corner of sofa I was sitting.
Blank eyes, harsh voice with the manager and staff
She is here yet not here.

I was talking first with a friend of mine and then with bunch of bikers from my state. Only when my chit-chat with bikers turned to the topic of ‘peace and spirituality’
did her body language and face showed some recognition
Perhaps; her world is not without a bridge.

She asked about how Gangotri is. That is the famous  pilgrim town I walked down from
she wants to know what transport is available.
It is snowing up there. I just walked down twenty kilometers
for the transport is sparse and unpredictable.
It is off season now. Even the temple is closed.
But I tell her about occasional share jeeps or road construction trucks

I am back in my room after the lunch.
But she stayed
in my mind.

Lady who knows where she wants to go;
But utterly lost from the world around.
How do they end up in such places; I wonder…

Many hours later
Rested well; I step out for a tea.
It is starting to rain at Dharali.
Roadside shack; warm cup of tea in my hand. Standing looking out at the road
I see her for the third time on that day.

She is sitting on the stairs of an abandoned building. Her body curled to protect from the cold. She does not have much of a warm clothes to protect her from cold at these altitudes. She has same lost look; staring at the ground in front of her. I do notice her shivering a bit from the cold. Her presence there and not usual for this village.. I can tell from the ‘stares’ of some of the passing-by villagers.

My tea is finished quickly. Warm tea always feels good in cold whether like this.  But tea was way too sweet for my taste to order the second one. I continue to stand there watching the road and the rain.

Clearly, she does not belong here. Nor is she in her senses. What is wrong. Is it some kind of trance or is she spaced-out simply? It will be night soon. It gets dark early on a day like this in a village surrounded by mountains. What she is going to do. Definitely it is too late to look for vehicle to Gangotri and find accommodation there. Snow mountains and rain making it really cold and lady seem vulnerable.

Normally I would walk-up and inquire or ask if she needs any help. But in this case, I feel it is not right to do so. This is a village I just came in and hardly know anyone. Moreover, the lady has a look on her face which says “leave me alone”.  Finally all thoughts could be my judgments and inferences only. When someone is in sensitive space, you would not want to interfere. What do I do ? What do I do ? I am feeling helpless with the urge to help her.  I decide to just stay with the feelings and thoughts I am having totally and just watch myself and see what happens.

Must have been fifteen/twenty minutes.  My heart is not ready to move yet. I keep watching the cloudy sky, the road, villagers winding up for the day, lady staring at the ground across road, and the rain. I continue to stand there witnessing my feelings and my helplessness.

Suddenly, my attention goes to the road coming from the white peak. I hear some sound. There is a speeding vehicle approaching and that comes to halt right in front of the tea shop. Many people rush to the share-Jeep. I notice the lady getting up from the steps and running to the Jeep as well. She is gotten inside now and shouts name of a place she wants to go.

What a relief. After all she has a place somewhere in this no mans land. She wont be spending night out on those steps shivering and vulnerable.
As the vehicle continues,  I feel the relief, I feel the expansion. My eyes start to fill faster than the rain-drops. I move finally from the tea shop. By the time I reached my room at the guest-house, I am crying; almost loud cry and uncontrolled. First time in a long time…

World apart

With Kids and
Child-likes
Who dared to venture-in
to catch
the orange evening sun
Ocean played along…

Touch and go
Feel and reveal

Wet rocks, running crabs
and look !
a shiny black beach appears from nowhere;
the crazy happy playground
In the end, it was Ocean who hid the sun.

~

While grown-ups
Sat-up; uptight

Staring at the steps, rocks
roaring ocean and setting sun.

“low tide but black sand”
some murmured
walking home
after the sunset ritual.

 


Note: Based on a true story 🙂 at Tithal Beach (Valsad).

A lake that heals

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Suddenly there is a scream.

A traveler says something; rather shouts standing on a concrete platform on the edge of the lake. Totally animated and full of emotions. He points his hand repeatedly to a stick.

All I can hear is “But why; why did you point that stick to me”. Holding the stick and with a couple of tin boxes placed on the platform is a local vendor. There is a heated argument between the two. Local vendor tries to explain and foreign tourist with dreadlocks is clearly enraged.

Priests, hawkers and and a couple of other local people intervene. They reason out and most importantly they try and separate the two.

It is a very pleasant otherwise on a hot summer evening at Pushkar. I had just swam in the ‘healing lake’ and my friends are still in the water. The water is dark green from the moss but clean otherwise. We are at one of the main ghats – the official bathing area. Lake, small bathing ponds by the side, temples and ghats, all well organized to accommodate pilgrims. This is off season which meant very few tourists and hence place is pretty empty.

My attention shifts back to the dread-locked tourist. He is walking away from the platform where the argument had started. But he still telling something to the people who intervened. Just when I think it is all over and he is going to away away up the steps of the ghat, he picks up something from the pile of construction waste.

My god!. It is a big plank of wood!!

“You, come Now; see I also have a stick. You think you can point stick at me. I will show you how it feels”

He is not the one to let go easily

The locals do not allow him to come close. “ok, ok, peace peace” they want him to cool down and go.

The vendor is explaining in the other corner to someone. He seem confused with magnitude of reaction. He is saying something about purpose of stick in his hand being mis-understood.

I try to put together pieces. Vendor must have warned the tourist about being on edge of the platform or having shoes on but having stick in his hand meant aggression to the traveler. Just one incident saying a lot about childhood, surroundings and the experiences the tourist has lived through in life.

The tourist now going around the ghat for he is not allowed to come on the steps with the shoes on. The big wooden plank is intact in his hand. Is he afraid or is he angry or perhaps both; I wonder.

A few minutes later, I see him farther, towards another side of the temple. His body language shows he is ready to walk to the vendor from the other side. He is still raising the plank and inviting the vendor for a fight. He goes on and on.

There are no locals on that side to stop him. For a moment I worry and wonder if they would get into physical fight. Vendor is also watching him for a while. Then he lifts gathers his two metal boxes and with stick still in his hand he walks. He has to pass the very same path tourist is walking on.

But this time, vendor does not seem interested. He slowly walks and I see tourist turning back and checking on him couple of times still murmuring something. However, as if nothing happened vendor ignores completely walks and walks past the foreign tourist and takes the path to the town. The tension in the air disappeared just like that.

While I tried to grasp what just happened; the lake told me this mythological story about Pushkar:

Once upon a time there was a demon called Vajra Nasha (The Diamond Destroyer). He lived in the vicinity of current day Pushkar. He was a brutal king who troubled the mortals and devas (gods) alike. As it always happens, the rivers dried, forests destroyed, humans and animals suffered a great deal in his kingdom. When grandmothers told story to young ones; they took name of Vajra Nasha to scare them. They told jokingly “he did killing for living”. But one could see there is an element of truth in it. If it is just the sentinel beings or angels suffering, no one might have thought much about him up there. We all have habit of getting used to the brutality of rulers especially when there is no choice. But Vajra Nasha was a direct threat to the gods and godliness.

Hence his name came up when all three supreme gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva met together. As we know Vishnu has been making too many trips down here to earth and destroying violent rulers. Even Shiva has been down here recently. Hence this time around, they decided it is for Brahma the creator to deal with Vajra Nasha. Not that Vajra Nasha had any great tricky boons which gave him immortality or something. But he was growing powerful day by day. Much of the area around his kingdom (present day Rajasthan) had become desert; such was fire of his anger and violence.

Vajra Nasha, came to know about the meeting of supreme gods through his sources. He was a bit disappointed as he was hoping Vishnu will come and wanted to take revenge for all the previous tricky defeats and war crimes towards his ancestors. Nevertheless, he boiled even more. Gathered all his rage on the designated day and roaring he waited for Brahma to come with his might. No tricking around this time, he was going to crush Brahma or whoever peeked out of clouds once for all.

But; What did he see at the peak of his rage ? He saw a white swan descending from the sky with a lotus flower in its beak. White swan ? Symbol of peace ? Gods must be crazy. He looked on with disbelief as swan came to him with a message of peace and blessing.

It is said that Vajra Nasha was so at the edge, energy boiling ready to explode that this sudden appearance of swan and lotus transformed him completely. The rage, the anger and the violent ignorant self died in that very moment.

So unique was the moment that a single petal of lotus which fell into the ground created a serene lake. Because the lotus was meant to heal Vijra Nasha of his ignorance, even today they say pilgrims who bathe in the lake get healed.

When the healing lake of Pushkar finished its story, the temple bell was ringing; perhaps evening pooja (worship) is happening. I could not help but to remember how Angulimala was transformed from being brutal murderer to a monk in a single interaction with Buddha. Wind was cool and pleasant. My friends were already out of the lake and were ready. I was somewhere in the half-dream, half-awake world trying to internalize the stories that happened somewhere in mythology and today right in front of my eyes. We all walked together, slowly climbing the steps and through the temple gates back into the world we know.

 

Through the fault-line to the core of a being

tibet prayer flags

Only because she goofed-up, made a mistake;
She opened up completely and became vulnerable

Because she was real and vulnerable
When she came to apologize,
All we saw was the light of the being
and not the fault

Only because we saw the being in her,
She smiled a
Smile from the very core
When we were leaving that restaurant

Because she smiled the way she did
We experienced true love
and walked out
with utmost fulfillment

Fault-Vulnerability
Real being-light-love
Glimpse-Fulfillment

That was taste of Tibet at a restaurant named Lhasa


Many a times, as long as everything is running smooth we only encounter the orderly mind-programs. Running smooth and flawless as it is designed to be but it is just interaction between mind-programs. Then something happens, some chaos, some mess, some mistake and there is an opening. Our usual reaction is to become defensive and protect the ego. Rarely there are beings who fall back to their heart and come forward to apologize with all openness. And that is what we experienced at a Tibetan restaurant in Dehradun.

After all, mistakes are not bad. It opens door to real connections that is if we avoid falling into the automatic reactions of frustration, anger and ego. One not staying somewhere up there and forgiving others mistakes. Point is lost even then. One just have to be present without barriers and open heart.
How many times in our lives dinners get spoiled, evening turns into a mess, and even relationships fall apart with slightest of provocations and goof-ups at restaurants. We are too eager to throw away happiness at the very first opportunity. But here a small mistake got turned into a beautiful opportunity. And we are glad it happened.
I could not help but to remember… In contrast, other day our car was stopped by Delhi traffic police. Friend who was driving was checking directions on GPS and cop thought she was on a call. Anger, heated arguments, chaos… finally when police did let us go there was so much tension in the air. I clearly remember, the other cop walking by as we were leaving and saying – “Please do understand. Hot summer sun, we have to stay out and work all day and mistakes do happen.”
Sadly; I was not a in position to really open-up to him and appreciate sincerity that was there in his work, and his voice.
But tone of his voice did live inside me for a many days.

We don’t have to save ourselves always. Mistakes do provide good opportunity to let go of the ego and open up. When I am on other side of the table, I try and remember the Thai attitude –  “Mai pen rai”  (everything is okay).  By and by, everything does turn okay in life.

Life saving itself

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Young american seeker was my neighbor at an Ashram in Gangotri. Both being completely immersed in our peace and space, we hardly talked. Heavy snow was just perfect for a retreat. Three full days that is.

Today, finally bit of sun. Both of us wanting to go down to Dharali and end up at the square together. There is only a pick-up truck which came last night but would not start due to snow related blockage.  So we decide to walk down towards Dharali.  In between the walk and occasional hitch-hikes on BRO (Border road organisation) trucks, he shares this beautiful incident. And I knew that the journey together was not accidental.

“I was walking in the snow yesterday.  Close to the temple on the other side of the river. No one around. Even few workers are cozy in their hut.Earth movers left right on the riverbank gives the feeling that the town is abandoned. There is fresh snow everywhere. In that cold, suddenly I come across a little puppy.

It is all drenched and shivering. I go close and manage to pick her up. She does not resist, may be she does not have energy to do so. For a moment I am clueless. There is hardly anyone in the town, let alone a vet or a shelter. I am holding puppy up in my hand and looking around.

Interestingly, I notice little footprints. Footprints of puppy is still intact in the snow. Where did she come from. Intuitively, I follow footprints in the opposite direction that is. After walking some distance, I come to a shelter. There! I notice mother and few other puppies.

Gently I release the puppy from my hand and it stumbles and walks to the mother. They are united. And she won’t die in the snow abandoned”

Then he tells me what is most interesting.

“Do you know what. This is very unlike me. No this is not me at all. All I can say about the whole incident is that the Life worked through me to save itself”

I absorb depth in those words. I can’t help but to remember a Sufi story called Holy Shadow  about a mystic who did not want to know when good things happened through him.

The clear himalayan stream by the side, deodar trees, puppy with her family, young american seeker, angles and ancient Sufi mystic – on this journey down from the source of Ganga, my heart is nurtured.

Picture: Mike Gifford @ Flikr  Creative Commons;  Some rights reserved

Gangotri: Beauty, compassion and mystery

Early April, Gangotri temple is not open yet. A single restaurant, single guest house and an Ashram is all you have. Bunch of Sadus who have spent winters in isolation and now rejoicing some warm tea, Sun and human company.

A friendly math professor turned Sadhu tells his story while I eat some Parotas. Here everyone talks philosophy. Chai-wala talks about unpredictability of climate and earnings  and declares satisfaction, not the profit being the most important thing in life.

So true. if something beats life in its surprises and sudden changes – it is mountain weather. The sunny arrival climate changed quickly to cloudy and then the snowfall. Twenty four hours non-stop and by next afternoon entire town and mountains were covered with snow.

Very young man showed up at the Ashram. Not much of warm clothes, not even shoes with him and when Ashram keeper asked about ID; he did not have one either. Ah..even if you go to the places where sole purpose is to free ourselves from ‘Identity’; you still need to carry one these days. Unless you are in orange and hair looks dirty enough to indicate u are a holy man of mountain variety.

Everyone was worried about this boy. However by next morning, it was amazing to see how he was taken care. Ashram keeper let him in anyways out of compassion. Someone sold him an cheap old shoe so he could walk around.

Isn’t it that way. Even when it seems reckless at times, we are all taken care of. Call it compassion, call understanding, call it mystery.  Soaking myself in that mystery for three days, I continue my journey down…