Rain!

I am at NCPA (National centre of performing arts), Nariman Point. I sit in a seat, completely drenched. The coolness moving from the top of my head, free flowing in it’s path and tingling in it’s effect. Coolnesss enveloped me completely and left me rapturous. Thanks to existence.

Rewind to childhood when I am in the transit bus, journeying towards school. Each bus had a couplet written by ‘Thiruvalluvar’, the Tamil poet. Saint ‘Thiruvalluvar’ lived more than a 1000 years ago. He is credited with having written on of the most versatile pieces of literature that I have come across. He has written 1337 couplets spanning subjects covering the entire gamut of human existence. The interesting part is that these couplets, like any other piece of art, reveal themselves only to the trained eye. What seems, will change when you experience it.

One couplets explains that when in the family, the wife remains faithful to the husband in the truest sense, then she would be capable of commanding rain to fall down on earth as and when she wishes. Now, I have read this long time before and it seemed unbelieveable. When I asked my elders, they said it is spiritual and the likes.

It took me bloody 15 years to understand it.

I went for a concert by an orchestra composed of international performers, being held at NCPA. I was late for the concert. Good for me, cuz I kept discovering. Quite fittingly, one cannot enter the performance between a performance. One has to wait for the performance to get over before entering the auditorium. I had to spend close to 15 minutes, standing near one of the entrances, listening to music trickling through the slit between the doors. It was a piece called ‘Requiem’ by Mozart. I started listening and listening some more. the music was so different. The notes were distinct. I could literally listen to different instruments and flit between them as I wished. I could step back and listen to the confluence of different instruments too.

The piece was soon over and I stepped in to take my seat. I looked around and was about to hurl myself into an analysis of my surroundings. I somehow restrained and decided that I will only be an observer. The clarinet blew into my ears like the delicate breeze a few hours before a heavy shower. This was a piece by ‘Tchaikovsky’. The music started to lull me into a gentle sway. I allowed the music to pull from my mind, instances called to the forth as reflections of the music playing on my ears.

Any crescendo reminded me of people who get increasingly agitated over trivial matters. Notes which flew up and down reminded me of someone dear moving over a didactic conversation, peppering advice with humour. Notes which flew downward reminded me of people moving away from me through series of misunderstandings and skirmishes. Slow notes reminded me of my mother stroking my hair as I lay on her lap. The climax reminded me of the continuum from a gentle breeze, gathering strength to become a strong breeze with the gentle pitter patter of drizzle followed by the refreshing thunder showers in the midst of a hot summer afternoon. The rain soaked me from head to toe and left me drenched. I was happy and I realized that this is rain, the rain of happiness.

Now I know what ‘Thiruvalluvar’ meant when he was talking about fidelity of the spouse in a family and the ability of such a spouse. He was referring to the state of affairs in such a family where the spouse confers happiness to such an extent that it is like the rain, which revives, maintains and confers life.

And I was soaked, and thankful. Thanks.

60 and he rocks

Listen!

I had a very different experience. I am an employee with a drug marketing firm marketing medications for cardiologists, AIDS specialists and skin specialists. I am right now active with with the last class of doctors. I am also a doctor myself. Sounds pretty complicated in the overall scheme of things. That,..is besides the point.

I am having lunch with a colleague in the canteen of the firm. Ordinary day,…just like them all. Get the picture?

Ok.

I look to my left and see a person from the highest level at the firm moving in my direction with his eyes set on me. Not surprisingly, he takes the chair next to me and starts on a very jovial note. The conversation steers to a seemingly general question, …”How do you find your assignment?” I took it as one of the generalities that are exchanged in office. I gave him a ‘suitable’ answer which I think was as general as the question itself. I told him,”I find it interesting”.

His face changed to one of aversion and told me that I hadn’t understood his question. I immediately picked up the thread and tried to justify my statement. His reaction to that made me realise that he was talking at a much deeper level. He wanted to know exactly what I think of my assignment in the last ten months that I was there.

I started to get into an explanation of my job in the last ten months, and my take on what I have done and the resultant state of mind. He surprised me by saying that I haven’t understood his question. Now, I was surprised on two counts, the first because he had been listening really well and two for my apparent lack of concentration in listening to him.

He then went on to explain his stand about what he really meant. This spiralled into a debate about the difference between two different concepts which are at play in the workplace. I stood firm to the extent that I did not make him seem trivial. But things took a sudden turn when his intentions started spilling into the conversation. The conversation which had simmered with a few bland ingredients suddenly took on a different character with oil, spices and a blend of spirits thrown in.

He looked at me in the eye and asked me why I had done things in my professional life the way I had. I was not listening to him properly as I was only looking at the logical and factual part of it. My body turned warm with his accusations spewn all over. I took my time to listen him out and then explained my point of view. But the mistake I had made was that I was not looking at the emotional shade to the whole conversation.

His face froze in the moment when he was anxious, not angry, when he was concerned than accusational. I realized what he meant. He was not egotistic as I had asumed him to be. He said that I was doing shit in the firm. He said that I was overqualified for what I was doing in the company. He, through many words, demonstrated his respect for doctors and strongly felt that I should be doing my job, of helping people.

Now, I was torn between thoughts of diplomacy and reactive rhetoric. I wanted to tell him that I agreed with him. I was doing shit and I feel the call of duty. But I couldn’ tell him. Rather I chose not to.

At 60, this chap has told me things which very few people, actually very few people would have the guts and conviction to say. I mean, a guy who is moving out because of circumstances, thinks about a guy who is quite new on the job, and tells him in the face that he is doing shit. I mean how many people have we met who can tell that impassionately and with conviction.

This guy rocks,….amazing man!

Buddy

I look back,…n paths r so worn out,…don’t know who went in which direction, the sands keep changing,…I cannot see you,…I look at the patterns drawn by you and redrawn by the wind,…and I wonder if the lines on the dunes are the same as those on my hand,…wonder if I will ever know where I missed the crowd,…

You are the one with the wry smile. The lines have changed with the play of the mind and the body taking turns in shaping your torso. The crowd is taking control of our time. Deeper and deeper we delve into the trivialities of the crowd. I look down on the ground and look up in the direction of the sky. I search for you in between.

Shadow of life in the wake of time. Mahamaya!

Where are you buddy?

Day-5, Madurai

We were now on our way back to Chennai and stopped at Madurai to meet up with my cousin sister’s family. Her name is Selvi. Selvam is Tamil means wealth and the name is derived from that root. She is my father’s elder brother’s daughter and she is married to a person from the village adjoining my native village.

Names are meant to be a sign of hope in my place, I guess. Hope that the child will live up the name. Most of the names in Tamilnadu are names of the Hindu Gods. Hindu Gods are in plenty to signify different costructs making up the Hindu society. Some mean creation, some would mean destruction and some more would mean wealth, knowledge, arts among other things. Symbolism is so deep rooted in the Hindu psyche.

Selvi’s house was a quintessential middle class home in India, characterised by a narrow lane having wires running a few feet above the feet in every conceivable directiona dn with every possible purpose. They could be electricity wires, cable wires, ropes to hold political paraphernalia and what not. The house were tightly packed with no space between hem and there was teeming humanity which spilled into the street. There were children playing their last games before they were due to do their homework for the following day of school. Oh, those days.

Selvi’s house was on the ground floor with a narrow door leading into a small house which shared stairs with the first floor.The walls were stained with use. The typical scratches of toddlers with crayons and pens at two to three feet from the floor. Stains from the palms just below the switchboards. Little bits of furniture which cramped up whatever little space there was. It might come in useful someday in the future, or so my mother used to say. Our attic is full too. The familiar calendars with pictures of deities from so many different temples. Unfortunately, Selvi was not there and we soon had nothing to do after the familiar diplomacies. Selvi’s husband had a hotel and he oofered to get us food from his hotel. I flatly refused and wanted to visit his hotel.

We went to his hotel which was situated in a crowded by-lane in the commercial centre of Madurai, which was crowded with labourers who were having their dinner after a hectic day at work. Selvi’s hotel was crowded with the same lot. The hotel was small,…about 10″ by 10″ and had four tables which could accomadate 4 members each. My father and myself took a seat at the first table on the left. Our host offered us a ‘Kothu parotta’. This is a delicacy made with specially prepared pancakes which are then shredded and minced with scrambled eggs thrown in with a bit of pepper, salt and coriander leaves. Oh my God! The dish disappeared in 15 seconds flat.

After that we had a ‘Veechu parotta’. This was made with the same pancakes which are spread thin as paper. This dish disappeared in equal haste too. What was more important satisfying to me than the tasty food that we had, was the fact that our host was overjoyed that we had relished food at his hotel which was in direct contrast to his expectations that we would feel bad about his hotel which was small and cramped, in his perception. For me, it was the genuine concern that mattered.

I left with a smile on my face and contentment in my heart. Thank God for people!