Bothered Day

There is something that really bothers me about the culture from which I hail.  It is often near impossible to have a conversation with someone who is a generation above you and is related to you.  The thing that you hear most often is, “zaban ladata(i) hai!” which means someone is talking back.  Talking back is not allowed.  So, the older person can go on blabbering irrational nonsense, endlessly, but the younger person is not allowed a defense or a justification of their stance on any matter.  The younger person isn’t allowed to tell the older person how to do things better, how to live better, dress better, just be better.  This has always bothered me.

Earlier today I reached the end of my rope.  Pushed to the edge of my patience, I realized that a peaceable relationship with this person was no longer possible.  The relationship needed to morph into one of indifference for my own sanity.  In a nutshell, I have had it.

I remember an interview with Candice Bergen once.  I believe she was 60 at the time of this interview and she indicated that what she loved about being this age was that she didn’t need to give a damn (she used more colorful language but I am square and I don’t) any longer.  I have a long way to go before I reach that wonderful age but I am definitely at an age where this should apply.  I have always felt the weight of caring about what people will say, or how they will react to what I do or don’t do.  I want to shrug this weight off.  The movement I need is most definitely on my shoulder.  Take me as I am or go away.  I am tired of smiling at inanities or tolerating things that don’t deserve my tolerance.




Spring has sprung

This annual event makes me so happy.  In one instant I shed the winter blues as my brain becomes abuzz with plans.Spring

Restarting Blog

I need to restart this blog.  It has been awhile. I haven’t had anything to say but hoping putting one word in front of another will get me somewhere.

I spent the last couple of years being dedicated to restoring my health, dropping pounds, turning vegan, trying running, earning a Yoga teaching certificate, and trying very hard to be extremely disciplined about saving more than spending.

I think about all the things that disgust me about myself; the way I don’t see things through, the boredom that sets in, the continued lack of motivation and ambition, an inability to make close and proximal (not virtual) friends.  I have friends all around the world.  Many of them are close and very dear to me.  But no one lives in northwestern New Jersey.  I can’t call on anyone just to shoot the breeze.  No hanging out/eating out buddies.  Sob, sob, poor old me! But I only have myself to blame for this isolation.  I have never really made an effort, never been able to sustain a connection.  I am preoccupied with this thought now as the years march along.  A normal person would know what to do having realized what’s lacking in their lives.  They would take some steps.  I am clueless.  I will wake up friendless again tomorrow morning and do the same things I did today.

There is something to be said for sameness.  It doesn’t get its dues.  It gets pooh-poohed.  Imagine getting a new day and a completely different set of circumstances to sort out each day? That would be a nightmare.  Life is messy and if the universe is leaving you alone in placidity, with minimal messes to sort, perhaps you should thank your lucky stars.

Tired and bored of myself

I used to really enjoy writing. I used to be so upset when I felt the onset of writer’s block. Now I never write and never complain about any blocks. It is as though I don’t care anymore. What could I possibly say that hasn’t been said before?

There are no variations to my days. There is a farm near us. On pleasant, sunny days the cows come out to graze. They are black with a white strip running down and around the middle. Every cow is identical. No genetic variation there. My days are like these identical bovines in every way.

Get up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head, go downstairs, drink a cup…fire up the computer. That’s it.

I am not complaining. There is a lot to be said about themes lacking variation. If one wished for variations one could get a deluge of unpleasant ones. Who needs that!

Just wish each day was just slightly different from the rest.

Nasadiya Sukta – Song of Creation – Juan Mascaro translation

The reason why I am an agnostic Hindu.
“There was not then what is nor what is not. There was no sky and no heaven beyond the sky. What power was there? Where? Who was that power? Was there an abyss of fathomless waters?

There was neither death nor immortality then. No signs were there of night or day. The ONE was breathing by its own power, in deep peace. Only the ONE was: there was nothing beyond.

Darkness was hidden in darkness. The all was fluid and formless. Therein, in the void, by the fire of fervor arose the ONE.

And in the ONE arose love. Love the first seed of soul. The truth of this the sages found in their hearts: seeking in their hearts with wisdom, the sages found that bond of union between being and non-being.

Who knows in truth? Who can tell us whence and how arose this universe? The gods are LATER than its beginning: who knows therefore whence comes this creation? Only that god who sees in highest heaven: he only knows whence comes this universe, and whether IT WAS MADE OR UNCREATED. He only knows or PERHAPS HE KNOWS NOT.”

Wow! An ancient religious text encouraging agnosticism! This really is as good as it gets.

Like Water (thoughts triggered by David Bowie tributes)

Live like water.
Flow over, across,
Around and through
Always moving, changing.

Skin and flesh and bones
Are crumbling, sagging,
Stretching, creaking

Even at an illusory best
When they feel like home,
When nothing hurts or stalls,

Find a crevice,
Seep through.
Travel through the mirage
The oasis is around the bend.


As a child I had a keen sense of melody but I always ignored time. Time was just something percussive in the background that I took for granted. When the radio played a favorite song the lyricist and the composer got credit. No one talked about the drummer. If the song was in a faster tempo the words were closer together, if not then you stretched them out. That was all I understood of music and of life itself.

There was a sense of the seasons changing. My birthday fell in the hot summer months. Mangoes were consumed by the bucket and we slept on the roof, counting stars and listening to the stories grandma told. Exams were always at a certain time of the year and how the heart felt before and after the exams was tied to a season as well. The spring months made it difficult for me to breathe and autumn brought with it a certain lightness of being. Winter clothes looked better and peanut brittle tasted divine while basking in the sun.

That was how the year was divided into stretched out segments of pain or pleasure. The allergy season went on forever, the wait for the summer months seemed endless. The groans were long and loud at train stations or movie intermissions when an adult said the wait was thirty minutes to an hour. An hour felt like an eternity. Nothing was over in a blink of an eye except play time.

I spent some time learning music at a later age. It was no longer possible to take rhythm for granted in the tutelage of enlightened musicians. Melodies were never meant to be unchained, I learnt. They had to lock step with the rhythm. There was a structure and an architecture that needed to be understood and followed. There were pillars and foundations that one had to acknowledge, these bare essentials demanded respect.

I spent some time learning about life at a later age as well. Summer vacations, pleasant winters, work deadlines, commutes, eating, sleeping, showering , paying bills and buying groceries divided up each day, each month and each year into discrete pockets of time that got consumed at the pace of junk food during a movie; equally mindlessly.

As a child I moved with time although it never made its presence felt. I breathed the air all around me without telling myself I needed to inhale or exhale. Now I stand still while time moves all around me in swirls and eddies and I consider exercises in mindfulness of each breath.

I stood right here wishing everyone a happy new year, I blinked, and I find myself wishing everyone a happy new year all over again. The past, the present and the future are all standing hand in hand chanting:

Ring Around O’ Roses…

The Core

Everyone who knows me well knows how fascinated I am with the aerial view of our planet, the view an astronaut gets to see -Barbareek’s view: just beauty, so much beauty that one cannot help feeling overwhelmed and shattered in many ways. One does not see the ugly divisions the boundaries, the bombs exploding, the hatred, the strife – one sees idyll.

Closer to the surface discontent reigns.

Wiser minds have stated that there is something within us that stays unchanged, untouched as we go from believing that our physicality and mental acuity powers our existence forward to realizing that in the end we are just dragging this battered dead weight forward the best we can. The thing that was deluded and the thing that came to a realization of sorts is the same core. It grew, it evolved, it made itself ready for whatever comes next.

That essence is what reveals itself from an aerial perspective that tends to strip away all detractors.

That same essence also shines through in the performance art of someone like Marina Abramovic who talks about it here.  People took turns sitting across from her at MOMA and just staring at her, making eye contact, nothing else.  So many people wept.  No words were spoken, there were no distractions and tears flowed.  And then Ulay, her ex, came and sat across from her, she broke protocol to hold his hands.

This gesture, to me, was so similar to the aerial perspective.  There were no detractors, nothing skewing a situation where a person was simply gazing at another, making an attempt to look inside, to find that core and connect.  Tears came when there was a glimpse of this core followed by the sense of connection.

Marina and Ulay, in all news reports, are embittered exes.  One is suing the other.  Marina has been blamed for her ambition, her fashion, her success that torpedoed ahead of Ulay’s – all manners of things that skew and obscure relationships on any average day in our lives.  But when they look inside and through all their strife they find, even for a brief moment, the thing that allowed a connection in the first place.

We are all collectively enclosed in this cocoon we have created around ourselves, the way a spider secretes a web.  We are spitting out a web of religion, politics, borders, exploitative traditions all around ourselves.  The walls get taller, the webs get thicker and somewhere inside is this cowering self ready to thrill to the touch of a gaze – aerial or up close.


There is contentment in solitude

There is a fondness for the inertia within which it exists.


I am younger, more resilient perhaps. If there are several layers of thought within the brain then this is the predominant thought in this superficial layer, the thought that insists I am younger, more resilient and not as distraught; stronger, not requiring support but capable of providing it. 
Then there are these other deeper layers where thoughts of loss reside. I remember standing there on the Lake Cazenovia pier, watching the July 4th fireworks shooting up through the sky, dissipating into blackness. There was some foreshadowing there, a thought that I kept rejecting.  
On July 5th I walked around in several loops around our residential complex while reciting the words of a mantra that a punditji had had me memorize after my car accident in May of 1989. This mantra, one is told, keeps one safe and alive. I didn’t question it then. I have been reciting it without fail every time I take my steering wheel in hand.
So, on July 5th, I walked and recited and walked and recited, aiming for several multiples of the magic 108 number while keeping his visage in mind. But, unbeknownst to me, things had kept worsening during that night. I left for Canada that afternoon.  
The next seven days were about to become the last seven; the part of the music that says “rit,” [ritardando] underneath the last few measures of a lifelong performance that had stunned audiences over several breathtaking movements.
Since then I think of his eyes, sharp till the end, giving us hope because there was no listlessness, no dullness. I recall his unstated need to take both of mom’s hands in his own during his last few hours. 
At no point during five of those last seven days did I feel as though there would come a time when he would cease to exist in a physical form. On the sixth day the doctors came around with their talk of comfort, trying to convince us that it was all that could be done. My tears came unbidden then, like a reflex, while nodding at whatever the doctor was saying. But hope remained. Hope digs in, it makes itself a home until it out stays its welcome.
I think about this mantra now, the one I believed was intended to keep us safe and alive, and I realize how deluded I was about the intent behind these words. I have only a rudimentary understanding of Sanskrit but I now believe it is intended to facilitate the transition out of a physical existence and into the realm of pure consciousness. It is a prayer for an easy dissolution of all ties that bind as one moves on – urvarukmiv bandhanan mrityormokshiyamamratat.
The ritardando we witnessed had been a conscious effort by him over a few months and not just during the last few days. He was giving away his clothes, minimizing his intake of sustenance, withdrawing from all old interests, very consciously trying to exist in just a sliver of space, urvarukmiv…
The music slowed down and stopped. He takes up no physical space now, just the one that fills every corner of our minds.
I live through my days in a “normal” way, appearing sanguine, addressing all matters of importance that I need to address because I am still taking up space, taking in oxygen and sustenance. We share memories with each other and tell each other of our vivid dreams where he appears to bring us wisdom and succor. Then I look around my home and think of the brilliance of his efforts to minimize, to make his footprints smaller, to make all his ties tenuous. 
It is a thought that mesmerizes and sticks around.

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