Saturday, 28 January 2017

Driven by Perception

Confusion abounds. Horns blare and screams surround. It is the middle of the night, but the queue of the pick up vehicles at Mumbai International Airport is the picture of an early morning fish market buzzing with frantic activity. I wait for my turn to reach the token vending machine when a cab driver in a mega rush accelerates, halts and then rams into my car. I swerve to the left in the nick of time to avert a major accident. In the process, however, I almost ram into an XUV and now there are two more voices added to the din. 

The XUV driver is livid with me and cannot wait to tell me how women should not be behind the wheel but in front of a cooking range. I am furious with the cab driver for having dented my car and am trying to scream across to the XUV driver that it's his fellow male homosapien who is the cause of this clamour and clash. The XUV driver is in no mood to listen; his argument being that to save myself and my car I have no business of harming him and his precious chariot. But while my car on wheels has taken some blow, the dainty XUV has been able to hold on to its makeup and grooming despite what it's owner wants to believe. So I am unable to understand the reason for the rage spewing from this totally irrational, possessive and obsessed master of the car. Surprisingly, as the two of us are at loggerheads, the man responsible for the hit, twist and mix tale is sitting inside his vehicle and staring at the two fighting idiots with a "get over this episode" expression on his face.

His complete nonchalant and in-oblivion expression makes me ready to want to chew his head off. Wanting to settle the score, I  knock on the window and ask him if he has any explanation for his mad haste. The man looks at me as if I am the one who is totally insane. His world view is simple; he is just trying to cut into a faster moving lane and as it is his birthright he had made no error whatsoever! Oh Goodness, how I wish I can step out and haul him out of the cosy cocoon that nestles his sorry being! But before I can even think of the suitability of actioning my thought, three airport parking attendants have suddenly appeared. They are staring and assessing the situation. I want the cab driver's taxi and licence number. I am adamant. I am now asked to park on the side and wait till the three men in charge can lodge a formal complaint. And welI their speed is just a 180 degree opposite of the one that has caused all this drama!

I don't have the time. Mother may be out in a few minutes and I am not letting her wait. So my only option is to drive away, letting that never to be allowed on the road sample of mankind, off the hook. His good deeds have saved him today and in a cooler moment I acknowledge, so have mine. 

I park the car and walk up to the arrival gate, buy myself a coffee and start penning this post down. Suddenly I am reminded of another accident, another cab driver and another incident that happened just two days ago. 

I had boarded the cab from work and was eager to get home and enjoy a cup of hot ginger tea in the late evening of a cool breezy Mumbai winter. I was engrossed in clearing my mailbox when the driver said, "cops are so unfair. One just extorted 2000 rupees (USD 30) from me and it was not even my fault! The other cab driver came and rammed into me, broke his headlights and then started screaming at me. He and the cop, both Maharashtrians started talking in Marathi and the poor me was left as an observer. Ultimately he asked me to pay damages of 2000 rupees. I promise that I made no mistake but then why am I being singled out and punished?" 

He did not end this conversation but instead broke into an inconsolable bout of bawling. It was strange to see a grown man cry and ask for justification for being discriminated and bullied. It was heart wrenching to hear a hard-working man robbed of his earnings and dreading to go home empty handed towards the end of the month when finances are already stretched. It was unpleasant to acknowledge that humans have fallen to levels where the world beyond our own nose sometimes could not matter more than the speck of dust on the ceiling. 

At the end of the journey his queries were unanswered. I had no reasons to his whys. I had no idea of how to react. I had no clue if I should just pay my fare and leave or should I let him vent it all out. Tarrying in this indecision I took out my wallet and gave him some money, slowly I asked him to keep the faith and finally gave him to flowers to offer at the temple ahead. I walked out hoping I had helped. 

What contrasting interactions with two people of the same profession! What contrasting attitudes of two individuals each dealing with a stranger! What contrasting reaction of the stranger driven by a perception of reality!

The driver tonight could have been preoccupied with some concerns at home. The driver the other day could just be a great actor who made a fool of a gullible passenger. I perceived reality using my framework, and reacted completely differently in both situtations, based on my analysis which was done using my tainted or tinted lenses...

And so, as I wait for mother to clear immigration and then collect her bags and come out; I am thinking of ways in which I can clear my preconceived notions, collect my thoughts before I act, and come out of every interaction with a better balance between rationality and emotions. 

Will I be able to achieve it in the near future? Will I be able to handle every situation keeping these parameters in mind? Will I find out if my perception of their realities was accurate? 

Questions abound. People and their chatter surround. It is a reflective post that now has to stop as I can spot mother walking out.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A weekend with winter

Up close and personal, I stared at the gentle wafting waters of the Ganges as the boatman waited patiently at the pilgrim dotted bank that was alive with the smell of incense and the glow of earthen lamps. Far away at the horizon, the pink and orange hues of the setting winter sun smiled at the swaying yellow mustard that caressed the soft and bright green fields. And submerged between these two distinctly different and equally beautiful banks, lay the wishes, dreams and prayers of a million hopefuls who had braved the winter to come to this proclaimed center of the universe. 

As the morning bloomed, the aromas of ginger and cardmom tea engulfed the air while the hot and crispy lentil and vegetable fritters fought to attract the rightfully due attention. As the afternoon approached, the saffron and dew laden milk froth tickled the sweet buds of the salivating greedy tongues. As evening dawned,  citrus and mint were the flavours that dominated and danced. All the flavours of the winter had burst into action, seemingly, all in one day.

At night, the warmth of the melt at touch Jaipur quilt kept the freezing cold air at bay. The baby touch like silk added to the fashion and glamour during the day. And as the orange and pink began to appear at the horizon, the drama of winter threatened to restart; but then wool and fleece began to display their might. The many textures of the varied textiles made the winter sojourn special.

And yes I still say I am wary of the winter season. It still may not be my favourite time of the year. But this weekend, a tryst with this season, brought to attention why it always deserves and commands a special mention.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A Lesson in Love

And yes love exists in the real world; more vivid, stronger and brighter than the love written or sung about. In this day and age where economics and material gains seem to be the dominant motivators for many, I witnessed pure and unconditional love that is the raison-de-existance for one man.

Early morning, as I was finishing my prayers, a gentleman walked into the sanctum sanctorum. He sat down on a side and offered his prayers post which he started to offer flowers to the deity. After offering just one orange marigold, he gave the entire basket of flowers to me and in sweet Gujarati asked me to offer the flowers to the Lord. I was stunned and shocked; all devotees pride themselves in making their own offerings! Did he not want the blessings for himself?

Out of respect, I started offering the flowers one by one . Two yellow marigolds later the gentleman started speaking to me again. "I am a Jain and so don't know how these flowers should be offered. My wife is a great Shiva devotee and it is for her that I am offering these flowers. She is no more, she is with her Shiva now. But for her love I would like to continue to come to the temple as long as I can and offer these flowers."

My hands stopped midway and I was just looking at the beautiful soul. No words came to me, and no expression seemed fitting to acknowledge the lesson he had just imparted. Sending a sweet smile my way, the man slowly got up, bowed and walked away. 

I finished offering the flowers but kept sitting for a while thereafter. The slightest of movement would have destroyed the sanctity of the moment. The words kept coming back to me as I sat alone and let myself be. My eyes drifted to the lamp. It's  light had a new glow to it. My senses became alert to the aura  around me. It felt happier and more harmonious. My mind smiled at what I had just witnessed. The day had just begun; and yes it seems that today is most definitely a new day. It's a new start of a renewed belief. 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year

After years of ushering in a new year together, 2017 walked into our lives in three different cities. Bonsai, Sequoia and I; three peas of a pod were in our respective now home cities for this year's crossover. We were all with those who care tremendously about us, but the missing joy of a tight warm hug from my two angels and heart-warmers did leave me craving as I went to bed.
The gratitude for the joys of the gone year was foremost in my thoughts as I woke up to a bright first morning of this new year. Every month of 2016 has left a memory that brings a smile on my face or has me thankful for all that life has blessed all three of us with. So whether it was January when the three of us spent a fortnight together or whether it was September when Bonsai and I shared moments of change; it was a year of joyful togetherness.
As I look back at my life, reflecting on my journey so far and contemplating the road ahead, my heart swells with affection for the friends who have been there at every step of the way. Appyrichvictor, a name that comes again and again in my posts, has held my hand through the toughest times. The Harried Porter, an individual who I was once in awe of, has shown me the errors of my way in the most loving manner. Busybee and Omegta, the two or should I say four shoulders, are always there for me despite the distance of seven seas in all matters - tiny, small or big. Spectacle, he who has never been judgemental, has always been a source of encouragement and moving ahead. And then there is Calvin, he may not be there but he is always there. And he is always the one to bring me pleasant surprises. My world and my life are so much happier and richer because of these beautiful souls. 
There are those I do not mention - including my parents, my guiding forces; not because they are less important or dear, but with the hope that they understand without saying how much they mean to me. They have all helped me become a better individual day after day. I could not have handpicked this warm, fuzzy and loving lot, had fairy Godmother granted me that wish herself! 
Just as I am about to close this post, my mind wanders to a call I received last night. The Farmer, as I would like to call her, has spread cheer every time the team has needed it. Her infectious laughter was palpable over the call last night and when she wished me, without knowing, she echoed what was on my mind. She is that - knows me, tempers me and indulges me too. How she came into my life, I don't know. But I am glad she is here. 
And so on that note of happy walk-ins and a surprise visit of my grandmotherly neighbour who has come to bless me for the new year, I start my posting for 2017. May this year bring in winds of change that sprinkle stardust of love, peace and harmony. May the next twelve months ooze fragrance that fills every pore with health, vigour and optimism. May the new year bring in a new equilibrium where every life has balance, stability and prosperity. 
Happy New Year.