Monday, December 15, 2014

2014 gains N going forward

Chris is a walking friend on the Eliots Beach and he said this for a gem,” Sathya, I am growing old. I don’t know why I should waste the resources on my decaying self. Young people have greater claims.” That left a deep mark on my mind cubicle. Nature bestows us with a lot; even for the simple rice to come to my table it needs rains, sun and a farming community. And if you stretch this idea further of being a consumer you’ll find an embedded message: Make your lives worthwhile otherwise you are squandering nature’s munificence.
            I have never arrogated myself or thrown my weight around. I am diffident by nature for I am highly consciousness of my infirmities. The diffidence is a blessing in my case for it has helped me grow. If you know you are at 20 then it is easier to put in efforts and make it 22, ninety per cent of the people just don’t know the starting base. Since I know my head is a small vessel I consciously try filling it, no drop too tiny to ignore.
            So whether it is my Writing or Vipassana or Vedanta there’s been humility built-in. Before you write a page is blank and after you write there is so much work to do! Vipassana is again one hour of squatting and the back starts to pain. There is lot of effort involved in training the mind.
            2014 has been an exceptional year though I have not advanced one step on the uncertainty surrounding a job. In these eight years I have not learnt to settle in a job – both my bosses at India Cements and Adline Advertising were manic runaways from an asylum than human. I don’t blame myself at all except destiny. They were utterly ruthless and brutal, I suffer no guilt walking away. Both these jobs stretched my patience to levels I have not been before.
            So as 2014 draws to a close let me draw the areas I need to focus on.
            Get a sense of purpose to life: It was in Abu Dhabi I realized that I must have a sense of purpose to the day or even some abiding interest to latch on. Being on one’s own is so crushing to the morale.
            I must be regular on 15 minutes of Sandhyavandanam a day and an hour of Vipassana. I want to transcribe “Bhajagovindam” in 2015 apart from the three annual talks of Swamiji. These are very modest goals. I would like to chant Rudram without the book. On Vipassana I would like to attend a 20 day and serve on a 10 day in 2015. I enjoy going to weekly sittings on Sundays at T – Nagar so I’ll have a goal of 25 visits in 2015. I am one of nature’s worst lazy bone and so let me get a discipline at least once a week.
            Just don’t crib: I won’t starve in 2015 as Abu Dhabi savings would see me through. So let me not crib where and when I am going to get the next assignment. It has been 7 months at home now but let me not settle into dud jobs. In the last 9 years I had 10 employers: eight I walked out and twice I was sacked. Let me respect these odds and not sign in a hurry. I survive despite being idle for over 50% of the time. Writing and Vipassana would not have developed had I compromised to be an office slave. I don’t want to earn mortgaging my self-respect.   
            Editing: I must edit spiritualsathya for typos and copyedit Damien bosses in 2015. It will be cakewalk if I take one post when idle and then this would be a breeze. And if I were to allocate a fortnight or a month then it would be arduous labour and no fun at all.
            New interests: Guitar and swimming. I am too much of a couch potato and so let me hit the pool if I get an opportunity. Besides with arthritis walking is becoming a drudge.
            Lastly allow life to flow without spoiling it with my agenda: I am by nature one of the least ambitious persons. Getting into WWM was destiny, Vipassana was destiny, Abu Dhabi also came without my steering the boat. Life is a flow of good and bad and there’s no choice there. So for 2015 I have no writing goals at all.
            2014 started with a mild depression and then five months in Abu Dhabi. I wasn’t exactly jumping with excitement. I came back to Chennai with an enhanced self-esteem. Mohan Natesan at Adline Advertising was worse than any barking dog; I doubt whether any doctor would even diagnose him a homosapien.
            I had reconciled to just being a content writer until the last three weeks improved my self-image. Working on Damien bosses posts felt so alive and kicking. It made me realize I am good in capturing what’s happening around me. So I pray for interesting times than interesting writing.
            I also don’t have to work 12 months a year on a 9 to 5 unless the salary is so attractive or I have friends at work who bring cheer and banter. Ideally I would love to work in a concern that respects me as a person and the skills I bring to the table. Otherwise I don’t wish to hang around for more than 6 months. Each month I earn, let me save for another idle month but on no score I want to be terrorized at work.   
          Courage is the answer: One of the benefits of old age is knowing you have survived many storms. Your worst nightmares have come true and yet you are fat and sturdy on your toes. I am 45 and only now I am getting a whiff of this truth: We are much stronger than we think and we give ourselves much less credit than is due.  So whatever the day brings, courage must be summoned almost immediately. For that having faith in oneself is paramount. I have always tried to ape my school friend Vinod on self-faith; he has so much of it to intimidating others. Courage and self-faith will be the nice words to remember in 2015.
            2014 to me was an outstanding year: 38 transcriptions on spiritualsathya and 50 posts on Damienbosses. If I net a good employer then it should move my vehicle a lot forward in my quest for peace and tranquillity.  And importantly let me follow some discipline and not waste the natural resources as my friend talked about.          

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November images

This one post-a-month ramble is good discipline for me. It records my days in the sun for later reading. Writing adds perspective when you are honest enough to observe and record. A human mind goes through so many fluctuations in a day; a mind has a capacity to hold contrary views and even contrary emotions at the same time. This is getting a bit abstract, let me focus. At Abu Dhabi, even six months back, I only thought about Mohan and Adline team for 90% of my waking hours. Now I don’t waste even a second, time in its run adds and subtracts many things. Your life flows in directions and paths you’d never imagine!
            2014 has been a good year. One word strikes the mind, workmanlike. I came back from UAE at the end of May knowing fully well that it would months before I would get another job offer. So I went on Vipassana retreats in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolhapur. Those were real gains. The hours of meditations have definitely eroded my negative emotions of fear and depression substantially. I feel a lot tranquil and less rebellious about my lot.
            Then those transcriptions on I added over 30 posts this year. Believe it or not, in the last six months fourteen strangers across the world have written to me applauding my efforts.
            Earlier I would transcribe just three posts a year: Swamiji’s talks on New Year, Sivaratri and Gurupoornima. This year I worked on Sandhyavandanam and Bhagavad Gita summaries. I resolve to take one topic each year apart from these three special talks. 2015 should be Bhaja Govindam. This is a small thing but look at the sense of purpose it gives to the mind.
            2014 would have ended an average year but for getting active again. I have done very little creative writing this year. But each time I get those creative juices going I feel alive and kicking. 14 posts so far and I plan to add at least 30 more before the clock heralds the New Year.
It is not that everything I write I jump with joy. Out of hundred things I write, may be only 5 or 6 would fill me with pride. Last year I loved the eight part Nagarjuna Sagar series. It flowed without perspiration! This office humour series is short 500-600 words range; it needs vivid mental imagery and deftness in crafting. Besides I am not labouring for a smart line or a laugh in the end. I am more than happy if a tale is nicely told. And that’s never easy!  
            My father’s ceremony was on 7th November and mother and sisters attended. This is only time in a year we gather. My relations with both my sisters are cordial; we don’t gush but neither do we turn our faces away. It is unlikely they would help me when hospitalized or when my money runs dry. Neither do they force their issues on me. But when we meet we smile and engage in small talk and that suits everybody.
            I met Ranga after three months and had a wonderful time at Maris. It is a bar and that’s where we quench our whiskies. I was cribbing about my loneliness to Ranga. The wise man reasoned: It does not matter whether you live in a family of hundred or you are alone. You can always be popular when you are willing to talk on other’s terms of reference. Like you may want to talk about Led Zeppelin, while they insist on talking about Billy Joel!  Sathya, you talk on your frame of reference and that’s not a bad start. Besides not all people who live in close-bound families relate with one another, this gave me some solace and food for thought.
            I asked Ranga another question: you are such a wise person and why do you interact with chaffs like me?  I was having a dosa at the restaurant and Ranga explained: look, you have got to pay for this dosa now or later but there is no avoidance. Similarly when any situation or people are thrust before me, I consider them as God’s will. I don’t avoid them; if I do then I have to pay the bill at a later time. I try to do my best in all honesty. I really fortunate to tap into this level of wisdom; Ranga is a university or those large banyan trees that never run of knowledge and shade.
            Ranga recommended me “Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell”. This is my first read of 2014 and the book helped me revisit some of my past notions. Simply put, a person is a factor of so many things like family and also opportunities that nature sets along in the way. It is a sequence of dots and there is wonderful rationale to it on hindsight. I enjoyed the book.
            Six months of unemployment is butterflies in the stomach. The mind feels washed out. I wrote to Zaidi my IMT batchmate for assistance. He spoke to me from Tokyo and followed by a mail: Sathya, we are this job hunt together. I will access all my contacts and even people I don’t know on the cause. Then he writes: Don’t you realize that the world is existent only for YOU and everybody else are stage-managed and a prop. What a liberating thought.
            Right now, my attention is on those posts. I have extensive notes of the times when Mohan grinded us to the ground as a betel crusher. I still have more than 30 anecdotes to capture. Writing is so whimsical a whore that I have often felt my mind go blank. Creative writing needs a state of mind; fresh, daring to experiment and in a mood to have fun with words.
            I end this month’s rambling with my Sunday Vipassana sittings at T-nagar. Arvind Dikshitdar is truly a dhamma brother. He said,” Sathya, come regularly and be a partner. Please come early and help me set the sound system.” I have known him since my Vipassana initiation in 2008. I get affection each time I see him.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The penny drops

Some title to start a line of thought!  A belated realization after a prolonged confusion is what the phrase means. There is a reason why I hunted for it.
            I am the most diffident creature among the bipeds. Being in and out of jobs and staying alone and managing a house on your own steam for decades is not likely to make anyone spray and of good cheer. Such an abandoned wastrel of an existence feels a noose round the neck.
            The weather in Madras in the last three weeks added to the mind’s gloom as hell. This is the start of the North-East and the season of storms and cyclones. The skies get almost pitch dark throughout the day mandating electric lights to be switched on. Besides in this blessed city it rains right through without taking a break to a wretched monotony. So sitting at home, a bit of cold around the knees and arthritis, the wet clothes that don’t dry, the mind is prey to melancholy.
            The grey thoughts in the mind burgeoned like poppies before I realized; I have been on my own since I stepped into adulthood and I have not come worse off. There is only person who saw me through all the plights – my story reads such a tragedy that even Greek epics like Iliad comes a tame whimper -  and yet I stand  sturdy and on my feet. I should give that person a lot of respect and love. In fact worship that person and sing his tales. That’s when the penny dropped. I must treat myself a lot more regally than the habitual self-pity and put me downs. The spin-off is this; if you have to go through a painful stretch of experience then why add sadness to it and make the monkey heavier on the shoulder?
            Such ennobling thoughts don’t jump on you at random. This might be the result of my monthly Vipassanas for at least 40 days of 4:30 to 9:00 pm schedule sitting cross-legged and watching my breath. Then I fill up the day in Besant nagar with these Bhagavad Gita transcriptions. The Gita starts off with this thought: The intensity of sorrow is directly proportional to the intensity of dependence. Grieving over expectant pleasure in the future not coming to fruition in the present is just as bad as one-sided infatuation. Then I got into this mode of thinking – I am as strong as a bull chewing the cud as the storms are emptied out. It is a picture of stoicism and not even bothering to take cover. Have I not outlived my storms too?  I respect my resilience. And if this is the lesson I have learnt in this five months of unemployment it is well worth such idleness.
            2014 has been an excellent year; the first half in Abu Dhabi and the second half in Chennai. Did the rich supply of money make me happy? I don’t think so. The mind felt a lot insecure having to cope with a mad buffalo like Mohan Natesan at work. And even on holidays and after office hours my mind would be plunged in sorrow. .
            I remember telling the waiters and other friends at Al Naeem quarters when they enquired about my family. I learnt to say this with a straight face,” I have a wife and two daughters back at home.” I had to hide my embarrassment and pinning insecurity on my sleeves in a foreign country is never a wise thing at all. Now four Vipassana retreats and 38 posts of transcriptions of Swamiji’s talks later, my mind is growing in mental strength. My mouth is a lot quiet and the heart does not feel a raging fire. I feel a lot tranquillity and stillness.
            There are three people I am obligated to in these times when the clock seems as stretched for a wanderer lost in the desert. My sister calls every day; Manisha for her mails and Vivek who calls frequently to enquire,” What’s up, Sathya?” This inclement weather and dark skies forbid any walking jaunts to the Eliots or the Theosophical Society. I must record Manisha’s mother’s optimism. Whenever I feel my sorrow flows like a raging river I speak to her for solace and she calms down the fears every time. It is a genius mind who can offer a balm to me. This time she said,” Sathya, you are such a fine writer. Yesterday I was watching Sri Sri on television and I couldn’t help recollect your story on spiritual gurus and their over promotion and marketing. I read your book from cover to cover and you are very talented. Just have patience and the Lord will show some way. It won’t remain the same. I am sure you’ll go back to UAE to a better job and better work environment.”
            I might have spoken less than half a dozen times to her and now I know where to go when the nerves are bubbling up as in a pressure cooker. Of course I have to thank my cook, the ever wise and reliable Thangam too. She has been this pillar of normality for me as she presents herself at 9:00 am on the dot at the kitchen to a friendly word and cheer. 
            I feel a lot better as November gets under-way. In fact I have not hunting for a job with any fervour. Moreover editing and content jobs they have their own recruitment process time. It also needs someone batting for me unlike other jobs. So I buzz old clients and friends for reference and try to get a toe in somewhere. I am firm too on this score: I hate to work for any ass and moron. More than money I need respect at work and humourous colleagues. My skills are first rate, in the last 7 years every client or manager I encountered had nothing but lavish praise on the merit of my work.  Most realize I am in a different orbit altogether. I have never doubted my abilities even for a microsecond; I know I just need a good work environment and my train will run smooth on the rails.  
            Dr. Rajaram is excited with a word I tossed around last month. So each time we meet he’ll say,” Badonkadonk”. I chanced this word on an American channel and since then we bandy it across. By the way this is an American slang for a woman with a voluptuous back and so you can imagine the amount of fun we squeeze. Badonkadonk sounds great as you roll it off your tongue.
            Come 7th November it will be the 25th shardham of my father. I have lived for a quarter of century without people and without festivals and without anyone fussing over me. My mind is still young and willing to learn despite the regular storms, hurricanes, depressions, cyclones, tornadoes and more.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Kolhapur knockout

Writing wise September was a productive month for me. I posted 15 posts on Spiritualsathya and three in thinksathya. I can’t trace back to a time where I worked so determined and hard. I was racing to complete the Bhagavad Gita summaries of the last 7 chapters pending since 2009. Transcriptions are only a clerical chore, meaning hard physical labour, and my mind was feeling the pressure of idleness and lack of purpose. I feel the worthlessness of my dreadful existence. Continuing with my one Vipassana course each month resolve I signed on to a centre in Kolhapur as it was recommended by a co-meditator in Bangalore.
            I took the Dadar Superfast on 30th September at 6:50 in the morning bound for Solapur and I found engaging conversation with an overzealous Christian girl. She was pursuing her PhD from IIT Madras and she was selling me the Jesus the Saviour line. Paradoxically that chance conversation got me a lot of clarity to my mind: we repose faith in God only when we feel our life a blessing and family is the only blessed thing we have on earth. A physical attraction between a man and woman grows on to embrace a family for bonding and care. Destiny has stripped me bare of this nature’s blessing. That conversation got me to realize how vacuous the forces of God had been in my life. A derelict feels no savior and no prayers ever answered.  By the time the train pulled in to Solapur at 10:20 in the night I was a confirmed atheist. The connecting train was at 11:35 and bound for Kolhapur.
            I reached Kolhapur at 6:00 in the morning, almost 24 hours of travel from Chennai. Dhammalaya is nestled among the mountains besides a huge Jain temple. The construction of the main Dhamma Hall and the pagoda to a circular design along a sloping terrain is some architectural feast for the eyes. There are lots of wild grasses and trees filling the circle. The men and women quarters come on either side of the circumference. 
            I saw others troop in the afternoon. There were 65 participants and I was more observant after expending my vocal chords on the train. Maharashtra is a huge state, there are distances of over 600-700 kms travel within cities. The weather was agreeable and a bit chill in the mornings, south west is in the last leg for slow downpours in the evenings and nights.
            They served from a Marathi menu and every dish was unknown to me. They don’t have a sambhar or rasam instead pack a lot of sweetness and blandness in food either in liquid or solid form. A couple of dishes seemed like rubber pieces to me. There is one red liquid that seems like thick blood without any vegetables but basically is North Indian menu without spice. There were 70 people in all; 69 Maharashtrains and one idiot from Besant Nagar Chennai. The Marathis include jaggery, they mix turmeric powder and jaggery with milk for a drink that clear the throat. My creative mind had a free run; palak panneer looks like cow dung. And there is a dish in Kannada that looks like fried steamed horse prick with balls! In the evening we are given two glasses of lemon juice. 
            As in every meditation your face learns to observe those around. I saw an American with matted hair like Bob Marley’s strands, and then there was a very savvy fifty year old man who spelt opulence and grace even from a mile. They had put a list of meditators at the pagoda for the cell numbers and every name read a Patil, Suryavanshi. Chugle. Kimble, Kate, Manwadi, etc. This is rural Maharashtra and every name was from the Marathi gene pool. The Marathis are a very accommodating race. Everyone speaks Hindi as good as their mother tongue, even the alphabets of Hindi and Marathi are similar. In the evening discourse 60 people opted for Hindi language and just four for English.
            I loved this aspect of the centre; it is far way from a city. I feasted my eyes on the night skies for stars, planets, and the moon. I had forgotten all about the astral world since my schooldays and it was here I would stare at the skies and memorize a few star formations. In the meditations in the day my knees stood the test but somehow I felt my back sag so much. Since Kolhapur is the hometown of the Kalyani family, my very reliable friends, I thought about them in the initial days. Kolhapur from a Chennai eyes is pure air and wonderful weather and away from the maddening noise of a city.
            Each day went without stirring any new thought or strange emotion. If there is one relief I have expended all thoughts and energy of the Sindhi long time back - it was 10-90 relation, I got 10% of bliss for 90% pain for an absolutely lose-lose transaction. Neither are there negative imprints of Panneer Chelvam nor Mohan, my last two bosses. If there is one aspect I felt I could improve is get my rooms at Besant Nagar swept and mopped more regularly (this house opens out to the main road where vehicular traffic is heavy and dust formation is daily nuisance). I also thought I should stock fruits, casual eats in the house. I also resolved to get a few carpentry works like fixing the cot and get a dining table replaced. In short get some aesthetic in. 
            On 11th October the vow of silence came to an end. I restricted myself mainly to David the American and the suave man, later learnt that he runs a few management institutes in Pune. We were the only men attending the English discourse in the evenings. I wished a few pleasant faces that I happened to witness in these ten rigorous days of meditation. On 12th October I accompanied Kusto, from Orissa to the famed Mahalaxmi temple. Visited Manisha’s uncle’s place and they treated me to an hour of discussion on politics (Maharashtra is going to the polls this week) and music. The uncle’s family’s hospitality and respect was standout. They came to pick me up in a car at the landmark “Victor Palace” and later dropped me at the bus stop for Pune. That was a five hour journey and I kept talking the whole time wearing myself out with Kusto. The bus reached “Svargate” (the bus terminus at Pune) and waited for an hour to be picked by my cousin. My father’s last brother has been a Pune resident for 30 years and they invited me warmly over the phone once they learnt from my sister that I was in Kolhapur.
            Meeting my uncle, his wife and two sons was a revelation. My uncle never earned much but he got fortunate marrying a virtuous woman who squeezed every penny to ensure the best quality education for her sons despite penury earnings. Now both the children are well placed. Rajesh is the campaign manager of a NCP candidate and he’s already making a mark in Maharashtra politics even at just 22. His elder brother Kishore is in a software firm and earns astronomically compared to his dad’s paltry. That family smelt close-bound and they treated me as royalty. Sankari Chitti made payasam and wadai and treated me to a feast. I was there just for two hours but I will carry the memories for long as Kishore dropped me at the Pune station at 11:30 for a midnight train to Chennai. All of them said,” Next time please come and stay for a week. Two hours won’t do.”  
            I came home and my mind kept playing the memories of Manisha’s uncle’s family and my own uncle’s family. Both were a good spectacle and advertisement of a good family. I came home to an empty house and felt miserable coming to an empty apartment. I don’t think I will give God a natural death. Earning money is the easy part but staying alone is not something a human being is programmed for. I have never felt a stronger death wish coming from a Vipassana course. Or is there any more turns in the script of my life? 
         Somehow this "27th April" syndrome scares me; sharing a birthday with Dr. Arunachalam Kumar my maternal cousin (he writes ten times better than me; he is a Scientist, Anatomist, Painter, Wildlife enthusiast and yet his suffering is of a colossal scale. Mine is greater for I suffer alone; what is worse I don't have his brains or energy). This is death layer by layer; agonisingly slow. Or is suffering the starting point for liberation? Why has nature chosen me; both my sisters have it easy in life and so does anyone I know. More questions and no answers yet only waiting has been my lot
          Bloody hell with waiting. I am always game for another fight, another battle even if it is against my destiny. I may bloody lose but I will stand my ground. I must love myself, trust myself, encourage myself, support myself even if the solar system and milky way is against me.  
        I will pour unconditional love to myself; I will be my only friend. What if I don't have a family, I have me and that's more than enough. I may be knocked down a thousand times but I will get up each time even as the count starts. Each time with more love and sympathy for myself. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ageing rockstar

I feel uneasy if I don’t get a blog post in, that’s my sign of living I guess. Lot of thoughts float in the mind before I zero in something. Who the hell cares if anyone does, I certainly read my old posts!
            Robin Williams death shook me; for a genius to commit suicide at 63 and then you realize that’s not a stupid at all. Maybe that’s nature of 2014 living. I have seen life change upside down in my own 45 years; the rules of the game that held society were jettisoned one by one as this feudal society turned insanely greedy, consumerist, and a bastard where only money and youth counts.
            I will show you how my naivety changed to callousness over the years.  As a young boy of 7 years old I shrank from fear when a man hung himself from a fat sturdy banyan tree near my school. There was a pool of blood that stained the road for days, we were scared stiff to tread anywhere near in the night. Our elders said that people who are so desperate and snap to end their lives end as ghosts. Of course four decades later I think it is normal business! 
            I was reading an article in an American paper on William’s death, it made some telling points. You never commit suicide (that’s such a terrible word, let me make it palatable with “self-deliverance”) in your 20s or 30s or 40s. Give life a chance and there is always a chance of life straightening itself out. But once you cross 60 then hope of getting ever better diminishes rapidly. What’s why geniuses like Hemingway, Kodak, Carnegie and now Williams reach out for the gun and blow their brains out. In my book that’s fair and square. By that reason I still have 15 years to get my life in order. Ample time.
            As things stand today I am mighty pleased where I am today. I had the worst possible start to life with a sick mother. She‘s so sick that my career as a writer only started when I was 38, thanks my sister’s charitable disposition. She offered to take care of my “mom” and since then I dug deep. I have grown both as a person and as a writer since almost to an unrecognizable measure. Some old friends shake their heads in disbelief,” Have you done a brain transplant or something? You sure have grown matured over time. It’s a devil turning saint”. Well almost! I love the devil side in me to let go fully.
            I don’t know whether music taste influenced my attitude to life or not but I am a rockstar, if there were was a natural rebel in creation then that’s me. What else do you expect of an individual growing in a family in which the mother was mighty sick and father simply out-of-depth? I ploughed my own furrow from the age 20 and after twenty five years I still stand on my feet and alive in one piece. Sufficiently miraculous for me to earn my own keep; that too as a content writer in bastard India!
            I was having an interesting conversation with my sister. I had to make a WILL of the apartment since I have no legal heirs and that got those death thoughts more to the surface. I was bitter lamenting,” Bloody hell I never got my career straight. I am a better writer than any Indian columnist on view and yet none have suffered half as much. I feel like jumping a noose.” She said,” Sathi, if a cat has nine lives you have already had eighteen lives. You always find something; even in a India Cements job you found stories for your blogs. So stay put.” She also adds,” You are a tough nut to crack. Even when you go to pieces, you know how to pick yourself up each time.” I enjoyed this rare vote of confidence from one who has seen me since the nurse yelled out that a jackal was born in 1969. (A writer's touch, you know!)
            So I ask myself this question: How would I like to be remembered? Sathya the writer, or Vipassana practitioner, or Vedanta follower or a lousy guitar player! 
            Couple of regrets intrude and the biggest being my writing career never took off even as a content writer. I loved Abu Dhabi but I am cursed with some planet in a terrible position that’s just as determined to topple my applecart. That fellow, that naughty planet, again did its mischief with my romance quotient. I fell in love with a woman whose morals were beneath a hooker. But let no one accuse me of pusillanimity, I have stayed alone in a two bedroom apartment on my own for over seven years. What’s more with honour and respect of my neighbours and friends at the Eliot’s.
            Consider my litany of angsts: I fuckin never seem to settle in a job; Abu Dhabi is a classic case. I loved every aspect there: food, housing, friends, social life, salary and yet I ran into a bulldozer of a boss who strangled our necks. 
            Adline Advertising, Abu Dhabi, is one company where “I loved my work, my boss appreciated my skills and contributions, colleagues felt I was a cool guy.”  What made the wheels come off where the daily warfare between Mohan and Sabeesh and I was trapped in a 8ft x 8 ft for a daily dose of two hours of verbal fury. Though the words of abuse and threat were not directed at me, there was still no solace. My heart simply caved under from those high decibels.
            I tell my sister” My problem is I have lived far too long after my heart surgery 16 years back.” Then I seem to hit the nail. My heart surgery got me disinterested in money and career, my spiritual education got me disinterested in women as an anchor to life and I just kept experimenting with what came my way in rockstar fashion. Now how do ageing rockstar die? I guess not in their beds but from gunshot wounds.
Or is there another twist to the plot? I would love going back to UAE, I would love to fall in love (never compromise on that; your every atom in the body and mind must scream with certainty: THIS IS THE ONE). But such dream scripts are a million-to-one odds against in the current flow. More likely I might end up like Robin Williams in fifteen years time. Pause to consider: a normal man is supposed to go into old age with caring sons and daughters and narrating tales of Tarzan and Rama to his grandchildren. For a man who is standing vigil alone, he makes his own rules. Yet you wish and demand a miracle from somewhere. No one wants to deny even a sadistic God his perverse pleasure of a natural death.
            I am simple chap really. I just wanted to write like PG Wodehouse, I would have settled me for a columnist in stupid neighbourhood magazine. Yet I scrounge and scrap, the devil is up too many tricks in my case. And you realize that more than money and status and creature comforts it's the love of a woman that gets the engine of the train moving. On that score I failed abysmal. And if my reminiscences were to ever read no better than just being a 2007 winter collection of a morally corrupt woman, for that shame alone I need to pull my holster! 
            Let no one mock my fortitude. I have been transcribing Swamiji’s talks on spiritualsathya. I did two Rudram commentaries, now Sandhyavandanam which is a ten part series long enough to fill a fortnight and more. But my mind is still far away for creative writing. I have in my drawing board so many things pending. I have in my mind a post on “Abu Dhabi memories” (I met some wonderful people there) and I also wanted to do a post on “Vivekananda” (I was reading a book that get my tear glands to open up times without count). I also wanted to give a final touch to a second manuscript that Writers Workshop promised to look at with respect (my first book “O my darling India” was published by them and they loved the feedback they got apart from few sales). I wanted to write humour pieces of my AUH manager on Damienbosses (I have more than 30 tales that can fetch a laugh anytime anywhere to even a morose person).
And when my suicide 15 years from now – I am that patient – it would read: Done in by India! None may be blamed but fuckin almighty who slept as my life kept slipping into the abyss. That asshole God did not lift a finger, lazy bag of bones. But seriously and soberly, waiting for the tide to change.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Life’s like that as August gets underway

There are some good blog posts and mostly also-rans. The best ones are those that are descriptive of a place or events while the also-rans are analysis. This one I am serving is unfortunately the latter.
            I am past the midway point of my earthly innings. I feel in my bones that death would suit me better in the present timelines. I would be mortified to be around to blow my fiftieth birthday candles in five years time. I have lived a whole life already.
            I started my life in the early seventies being an absolute moron born in an indifferent family where love and bonding came hard and miserly, not even drips of water of a faulty faucet. My mother is a prized idiot more to be pitied than censured. That meant I grew up on the sidewalks of life in a sewage pipe as it were. 
            The first twenty years of life were ignorant years. I was standing in front of a canon but I did not know it. Ignorance is such bliss! It was only when I slipped into adulthood I knew at once the damage the mind was steeped in. I knew my case needed a serious look over and I need to rely on myself and myself alone for rest of the trek. That requires a man’s heart and I had those in large quantities. Some glorious lessons unfolded as I learnt the virtues of patience, humility and forgiveness as the years filed past.
            This is a long somber and even morbid introduction to the things I had in mind when I started to pen. Let me waffle no further:  2014 has been one of those good years in which I find the life lessons served more congeniality rather than at gunpoint as most of my previous lessons were. 
Gratitude: First I owe my living to any person who cooks my food. For last seven years I am blessed with cooks of great characters: Meera was a friend who cared, Thangam is more an aunt who blesses. I feel privileged to have known both of them. I would even wish them to be my mothers and sisters in my next birth. I keep telling my eldest sister,” If I had such a mother, I would have done something meaningful in life than the wastrel I have turned out to be.” Both these humble souls are endowed with such a family orientation that they know how to build a family.  
Meera has a son and he probably earns more than me as a Vaidika bramin. Thangam has three daughters and all of them are either technologists or engineers. It is the sacrifice of the mothers that the family pyramid is built on. My mother had a good fertile ground to construct but she let it pass. Meera and Thangam got terrible odds but their children are engineers and graduates (they have single-handedly ensured that their family got into the next higher economic layer). Hence I sing their paeans all the more.
But if I were to be indebted to one person in the last 25 years then it is my dad. But for his largesse of this Besant Nagar flat I would croaked and died of penury a long while back. Having a rent free house, and such a beautiful one as this, has been one solid stabilizing factor. I can’t thank my father enough, someone I think more often these days. Ajit, a friend, said,” Home is where I am” but in my case it is “home is when I am at Besant nagar.” I have many things going here.
The third person I am grateful is my eldest sister. We fight like cats and dogs, I have my crosses to bear. She never taught her sons to respect me, she never invites me to festivals (these two aspects grate me) but she looks after me daily with a telephone call. She looked after my savings and the house when I was away in Abu Dhabi. We fight every other month promising not to bother with the other but each time after a week our hearts melt. I also realize that we live in such selfish times that one should not set his/her expectations high. Take any warmth that comes in the flow and that leads me to the next lesson.
Forgiveness: As the years flew past and as my body gets more ready for the grave – I heard it is better to arrive at the ghat worn out than fresh and I certainly am decrepit here – this forgiveness is a dimension I am proud to discover in me. Not many people have wronged me for I live alone and well. My last two bosses were from a circus band: Panneer Chelvam at India Cements took malicious pleasure running me down for no better reason than amusement. Then Mohan Natesan, Adline Advertising at Abu Dhabi was more a demon and asura than a human being. The way he went after Sabeesh Yemmay would give me pain in the coronary regions for days on end. I did not linger more than a second to forgive these sods.
At home Kaushik, my nephew, took a crack at me saying,” U idiot” in a sms over a forgettable trifle. I really took a fancy to this kid but after this chagrin my affections dried up. Now I do converse with him keeping arm’s length distance. He has already clocked two years at TCS, he’s preparing for go to US for higher studies and even spends weekends teaching English and Maths to slum kids for a NGO. Last month I told him,” I am getting to be so forgiving that I am even talking to you.” He has the grace to smile and say,” We can’t undo it now.” 
Writing: When I started creative writing as a career in 2007 I had dreamy visions of penning masterpieces and public acclaim. I was such an idiot that I would prepare acceptance speeches in my mind such was my optimism and belief in my skills. Now my mind is purged of any creative urges for writing. I have so many creative ideas that I don’t even develop for my blogs. I have taken an easy way out here, I am more a content writer for blogs, social media, newsletters etc. I am past the stage of marketing my writings or chasing newspaper and magazine editors. I finally realize that their daftness is more solid than rock.
Music gets me going, I still love my Campbell, Joel, U2, Springsteen, Carpenters, Dire Straits, Mercury, Jackson, Rodgers and the list is very long indeed. Of late I am beginning to enjoy the classics of a Beethoven or the virtuoso of a Izhak Perlman. In fact I love my music more than the written word. I strum my guitar more like a mad man but these are harmless pleasures.
My sense of people and events have never been better. T H Iyer is a friend of over 16 years, he has watched me grow over the years. I like the affection I get out of him. Dr. Rajaram is the one I meet rarely but each time he gets out my best humour (I am surprised at the frivolity that exists in the cranium). Ranga is one I count as a friend who'll dash down and get me admitted if I ever were to suffer a heart attack. Then Prabhakar who makes me discover my inner reservoir of humour. Then a good doctor in Saharanpur, another in Lajpat Nagar
I was telling Manisha, another reliable friend,” Didi, I have lived to the full with my stories, music and people around.” It would be nice for me to return to the gulf and maybe get my guitar going once again. That would be a complete cure and till then I can congratulate myself for keeping afloat.
What makes me heroic is I have been at it for over 7 years now. On my own as a writer in India. What can be worse than that! I barely managed to earn my expenses and stay in this place. Something of a world record on a Usnain Bolt scale you might say. 
 We learn our lessons not in the comforts of our drawing rooms but in the tumult when the heart churns in anger, fear, pains and more. And if I talk of death it's the fatigue of fighting too long. But the magic of living is such that you get hooked when your train slips back on rail. Waiting! As American civil rights activist Bernice Johnson Reagon says," Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they are supposed to help you discover who you are." That is the spin I give myself now. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Goodbye AUH! I'll be back

May: I loved Abu Dhabi from day one. I loved the winter months of January to March before the sun began to feel a nuclear fusion. I loved the Corniche, Grand Mosque, and more. The roads were clean and orderly (spic and span from the eyesore that I see in India where any public place is reduced to a toilet and filth). Best of all are people there – I would befriend rank strangers from random encounters at the restaurants. The next best thing was a fantastic salary. The positives keep piling: guitar, friends, shopping, etc
            Five months in paradise but it had a villain too. My office manager was a thug, so gross as to sound as a construction contractor or a mason shouting at the indentured coolies. I would wake up each morning resolving: Shut up and put up, an earning of over Rs.6,000 a day is something I have never ever seen in my career. I am a writer and we are a penurious community who never earn enough to file an income tax. So a salary of over $3,000 here is something I would have cheerfully sold my wife to the first bidder (I can say this tongue-in-cheek for I am bachelor!). But daily emotional wear and tear of this monster boss was getting to a point of stretching my endurance no further. Once I started experiencing persistent pains in the coronary region, I knew I can’t afford to work up a heart attack even at such dream incomes. So I quietly exited.
            I have earned sufficient savings and at least next two years expenses from Besant Nagar base. So why put with this stubborn heart pains? Rather I thought: Destiny has taken me so far and it will open up somewhere. I have a tendency to take the road less travelled and I almost always find a new thread somewhere to join the thoroughfare. I must thank a few people here: Pandian at Sangeeta Restaurant who offered me even a month’s single room accommodation for free (here the rents are exorbitantly high for a single room grosses over Rs. 50 k) in AUH so that I could try for jobs. I had little appetite for that kind of frenzied search. Pandian is a waiter and he lives with 8 to a room. I felt so happy to have instilled such affection for me. Robert is my AUH's most favourite character who defines gentleman. His heart is large enough to help anyone in a spot of trouble. And Sabeesh for his warmth friendship. I’ll never forget our outing to the Bateen beach where we exchanged our life experiences for over three hours facing the sea, starry skies, and windy open. He exudes a charm under such dire that he wins my respect straightaway.
            I came to Chennai by end of May. June saw me absolutely drained till a Vipassana retreat put a lot of new thoughts and purpose. I promised myself more outdoor pursuits. I am so recluse and fixated to a computer and sleep that I am entirely comfortable going about my affairs without sighting any human beings for weeks. June got me thinking, Abu Dhabi showed I had some gumption for travel. You get to meet new places and new people; always of interest to the observer in me. I even thought: let me get a bike or something and motor to a Pondycherry or Yercaud or some such crazy thing. Arthritis too has improved but not to such an extent as to join a trekking expedition.
More outdoors would give a free run to my nature. More than a writer I have a mind to soak - there are so many stories and tales lying on the roadside that my mind gets drawn too. The more I mature as a person the less I feel an impulse to write. You want something to inspire you to an obsession that the mind can chew and get its adrenaline ticking. So any new situation or people would get freshness to the mind and possibly some insights to stumble upon. It’s a natural development of a mind. What writing did to me was “it opened up my mind”.
            There was another gain of Abu Dhabi on my mental imprints. I used to judge myself harshly on my ability to make new friends and prone to getting bored too quickly. AUH showed that I could walk into any room and people would hover around me. I realized I had a friend making ability that overrode my natural diffidence. So many people come to me and narrate their life stories almost helplessly. That’s a nerve I never gave credit till even the monster manager said,” Sathya, you have a way of attracting anyone around you.” Coming from that discredited source I knew I had to revise my self-assessment. I am now even veering to the view that I might even have some charisma left in the bank.
            I went to Hyderabad for a week in July and I found another side to me! I was volunteering for a Vipassana course there when my mind was floored by a woman (thunderbolt lightning of Godfather intensity). She was dainty - interesting how a dictionary furnishes the meaning. It says: delicately beautiful or charming, excessively genteel, delicious to taste and smell! - and my eyes kept straining to see. I can only think of three occasions in the last 5 years when my heart leapt to the sight of a woman. All three had one thing in common – there were feminine to a devastating degree. God, this girl’s gait, her clothes, her voice, her natural charm was something I devoured to the full. She was a tender little thing, probably less than 25. I didn’t wish to get entangled. From the look of things it did appear that she too found me arresting. Her eyes shone bright and her glances towards me had that faint sheepishness to it. But I thought: not one so young. Besides a Vipassana centre is a terrible place for self-introductions and make passes.
            I realized that I am NOT looking for a wise, intelligent, fair, beautiful, good skin texture, amazing dress sense or even an understanding partner. I want my women to have a feminine charm that could grace a royal court as a queen. They are very few in numbers and that’s way I should go in the future.
            I am 45 and having the best time of my life. I am glad of the lessons that come my way. My mind is still excited with the adventure of living. There are few dull moments but on the essentials I remain an incurable explorer.
            Life is a voyage in space and time and I have had more than my share.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Life’s like that, April times

this is my view! N my guitar! (living king-size)
It’s 8:40 on a Friday morning. I sit looking at the French window tinted glass from my chair. What I meant by French windows is that one side of the room is glass panes and I get a full length view of the road. Never mind I am sitting or standing, the outside is visible to the eye. The three lanes becoming five near the signal. In Abu Dhabi the road divider is fat in the middle with palms but as it approaches the signals at the crossroads it gets thinner to accommodate two additional lanes. One to turn left and another the free right on the outside. It’s gets engaging to spend at least an hour daily watching the flow of cars, pedestrians, municipal workers in yellow or pink jackets with a measuring tape, or a Lavajet person in green attire picking debris from the road with a fork. At times I get to watch school children engage a taxi (don’t forget, I am looking over them from the fifth floor of a glass tinted building) for a bird’s eye-view.
View from West End of the room, Fatima Bint Road
The Sheikha Fatima Bint road meets Hamdan road at a traffic signal and that’s were all these spice of life unfold. Further ahead I catch a sniff of the sand dunes as the roads end and the skies meet the desert. There is a stream too but those are too far for the eyes to be definite about. This is the centre of the town and as fine an observatory of the streets from inside a tall building and AC comforts for an idle armchair lounger.
I see the pavements more than 60 feet in width at the edge of my nose. I get to see the faces of pedestrians from my vantage height. Filipinos women in tight jeans and hair hung out. I usually see them with sunglasses, sometimes Indian women too in sarees, or early morning bikers on their way to deliver the day’s newspapers. Or the yellow school buses and the grey taxis and so many things that keep ticking in the day of a modern city.
I have an empty day in front and a blog post to fill, Fridays are a heaven compared to six days of work under a dog’s collar. Mine has been an unusual life, so many life’s lessons tumble down on me without asking.
Learning is not about knowledge gained from books or mouthing someone’s words, it is your own experiences as life dishes out. Lessons are always for the emotional mind and not the rational intellect. And the mind is so dynamic, a throbbing cauldron, few can claim a mastery over it. So when I serve these lessons it is with a humility and an awareness that I may not have the strength of will to follow all of them all the time but I have no doubt to their soundness. We take ourselves far too seriously for starters. Nothing is permanent and nor your troubles, you are passing by as the cars lining up behind one another outside my window.
Lesson one: MONEY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR HAPPINESS. Your happiness is not defined by the money in the wallet. I stumbled on this fortunately from my interactions with Balakanth in 1990. You need money to buy groceries, eat three times a day, have a roof to sleep and anything more is an excess. This money, property, shares and mutual funds never held the slightest attraction to me. There is an intuitive revulsion to a consumerist mindset. I have always seen MONEY as a dead-weight; that's more important is an investment of happiness and joy and it takes a lot of learning to get there. 
Lesson two: DEFINE YOUR OWN IDENTITY. My father’s death in 1989 served a powerful lesson that changed the way I run my life. Being a slave from 9 to 5 for 35 odd years, being married and nagging kids was a no-no to me. Instead I view living as an adventure. I allowed my writing to flower at its own pace, attending spiritual classes since I was 23 gives perspective, chanting classes I chanced on, Vipassana has been an efficacious medicine. What I'll do next is something I leave to the normal run of life. But no plans to remain in status-quo! 
Lesson three: DESTINY IS YOUR ALLY, you would be a fool to fight it. It is easier to shift mountains or change the course of a river then fighting, rebelling, resisting, cribbing about what’s happening to you at any point in time. Besides they don’t get you anywhere! A fool would rail, “why things are not happening my way.” Living is about uncertainty and I have healthy respect and appreciation of it. I would be suffocated if every event in my life is preset and planned; I would hate myself in a heaven with 24 hours of singing hosanas and bored with Ramba and Urvashi's company all of the time. 
Though my father’s death was tragic in 1989, it got me started on my inner growth, heart surgery liberated me from career expectations reinforcing my natural drive for a bohemian existence, and a solitary existence ensured I value people of culture. Destiny is invisible and its writ runs large. In fact it is the last word and knocks all your carefully laid plans. It does takes after your long term interests even if the daily pinpricks and heart burns feels like turtling the boat.
Six months back I never knew such friends existed: I met Arun Kumar in an interview in the last week of November, 2013. He said,” I read your blogs and your Linkedin page and you are an intellectual. If only I could write like you.” Since then he has been a good friend. Issaias cares for me as a brother, I learn guitar from Tom Manning, I only met him last week. Roberts, Shafeek, and others too. As a jiva, as Swami Paramarthananda would say, we’ll be boxed around in a merry go around. Uncertainty is a part of existence and part of natural evolution. Take it with a smile every time you are thrown out of orbit. 
Lesson four: DEVELOP RELATIONS. Destiny can set the outward situation for you but you need a smartness to know which relation to sprout and flower and which to nip. My friend’s list reads some of the best names in the city: Ranga, Sarada Mami, Kalyani family, Rajaram, T H Iyer, Ramakrishnan, Vivek. I don’t waste a second in turning my back from the gross, boorish and self-obsessed. Solitude is a good medicine and a time to watch your mind and make sense of the events of the day. What is the best medicine for the mind? Just love your mind with its thoughts and emotions even it leads you to a sewage hole of rats. Mind is the ONLY tool we have as a human being and make it your best ally. 
So many insights come rushing unsought in the course of a day. A healthy mind is one that takes a long time (and enough provocation) to get hurt. A mind is healthy when it knows how to snap out of it, recover from the bruises of the day as quickly as possible. It’s okay to lose your composure once in a while but you should back to a semblance of normality as fast as possible. I have an obsession to observe my mental content: what sets it off, blind spots, prejudices, what makes it happy, what makes it still. After all, mind is a tool for my use, but it still uses me as a slave but with less of a hold than before!! 
Lesson six: DON”T BUILD A TIMELINE OR STACK A LIST OF WISHES. The past is but a thought in the mind, the present is what we go through in our waking day (offices, bosses, clients, deadlines, humourless colleagues, laundry man taking his sweet time) but future is just a thought you create and scare yourself. Silly. Having a wish list is another stupidity I have never subscribed (nice house, curtains, furnishings, a woman rushing to hug; car etc). I am forever content with my middle-class comforts. Maybe I am spoilt from staying in Besant Nagar. so close to the beach that I DON'T NEED to make a list and tick them off. 
Living is a miracle for this reason alone: you don’t need know what lies in the next corner. But this much I affirm: no one can be your best friend than you yourself. Two, having a tranquil mind helps. A calm mind gathers while an agitated mind leaks life energies. Three, LOVE yourself more than any FEARS arising out of a situation or people around.  Four, be gentle and compassionate to yourself every day and every moment of your life. Let no person ever snatch that from you even if it was an angel in black tights and pink tops. 

(I wrote this blog in the morning and in the time between writing and posting I got a news from my sister: Sathi, my mother-in-law passed away late last night unexpectedly. Life is so precious. Our time is limited and why squander it in worry, anxiety, and fears of the future. All roads lead but to the grave! Surrender your troubles, fears, aspirations to the uncertainty of the day). 

My deck of cards in April: April is the month of wear and tear of daily living. I was shifted from Al Naeem to Marina Plaza on a temporary basis as a doctor’s wife came visiting from Kerala. That created some uncertainty on office provided accommodation. The progress on the magazine has been tortoise pace, finally it moves to the studio. I purchased a laptop and a guitar this month. Summer is getting to be scorching hot on the scalp. Ramakrishnan, Manisha, T H Iyer, Vivek, my sister continue to write and talk. I am introducing fruits for a respite from hotel food at least two dinners a week. Tomorrow I turn 45 and still more a rock star in attitude to living than a normal Joe. There's been no one quite like me in my family; I don't know why I chosen to be so different than a placid Tambrahm existence who place a premium on job stability, income, and one arranged marriage, two children and both studying in IIT. 

(My office gave me a wonderful surprise yesterday with the cake-cutting and all that. The team got together and we enjoyed a free-flowing banter and bonhomie. Srinivasan in Karpagam Garden called from Chennai and so did my sister. I spoke to Ramakrishnan, Manisha's mom, T H Iyer. It felt nice, so many took the trouble)....28/4. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Whiffs in March

January saw me diffident; new place and “doubting me” mind frame from a mild meltdown. I was timid to hail a taxi or even visit a grocery store in the initial weeks before the mind got a bit stronger. Thanks entirely to Vipassana and breathing exercises. February saw me fall in love with Abu Dhabi - Corniche, Qasr, ADNEC, Shaikh Zayad Grand Mosque got the mind a new breeze of confidence and optimism. As I see it now, the time flew quickly in January and February. As to March the clock is back to its normal mundane course – time does not hang heavy nor is the whirlwind of a honeymoon
            Opening a bank account with Emirates NBD was the last stage of documents after my residency, labour card, and Emirates ID was processed. Having that ATM/Debit card meant normality and I stopped viewing myself as a foreigner here. The office supplied me room curtains and key to my room in 104 after a prolonged chase. As my room got filled, I smelt a psychological belonging here. The mind felt a good approximation to Besant Nagar; a home feeling is a place you don’t wish to be somewhere else. I belong here, period. It feels good when strangers ask you of an address and you are able to assist them.
            Sangeetha and Ever Green restaurants, I frequent for my three squares in the day, make me glow – I get affection at both places. It was raining last week throughout the day and the night before, Pandian a waiter at Sangeetha said,” Sir, I have never seen such long rain spells here in the last 8 years. But since you are here, it is a raining miracle.” I made a humour of it. Sachin at Ever green says,” Sir, you only come for breakfast. On Monday we serve Paratha and our Friday lunch is a specialty.” These people have seen my face for over 75 days yet they are not bored; I am surprised. Am I turning an angel from the cast away devil? While I am either at Sangeetha or Ever Green my self-image blows up – my humour, sparkle in the eye, banter, smiles flow naturally.    
            I realized the worth of two friends this month. Issaias is a man who cares. I complained of heaviness in the chest on an occasion, poor man kept inquiring through the week,” Sathya, take it easy man. Learn to cope with office stress better.” Ashok is a visitor I see at Ever Green at breakfast time. I keep pulling his leg,” Ashok, you won’t get leaves at your office to go home to Chennai. You are a key resource here.” The “Key Resource” humour can be milked for a laugh anytime as he would say,” don’t increase my stomach ache” in Tamil (this is idiomatic as vaitharchal kalpardango). He was the one to suggest I try Sangam and Saravana Bhavan to complete my knowledge of South Indian Vegetarian hotels here. Now I can write a newspaper column on the subject! Another occasion he said,” I just had my haircut. So I don’t wish to come to your apartment.” Such sentiments feel like Besant nagar here. Besides these two, I smile readily at Jaffer, Sharif and Roberts reserves a kind word for me. Living on your own and in a new city, you need every ounce of a smile and a greeting. Trust me, these are as important as oxygen and your next meal.
            In March I never ventured out for sightseeing. Swamiji lectures transcriptions or even blogs took a back seat. Office became out of bounds on Fridays, which means I am in a speed rush to a laptop purchase at the earliest. I have been postponing the buy the last three weeks. I get the damn thing this week so that I start April with a clean slate and nothing in want.
            It is only in the office I learn my lessons.
a)      Don’t do anything that would weaken or threaten your job security (I remember my momentary foolishness with RWD and that alerted me to this genetic defect my creative side brings)
b)      When a person goes sledge-hammering you with words, it is better go docile. Reason is no communication option to a person who is sitting on the frying pan, they only end up adding more fuel. Better to burn one side of the toast than your side
c)      The mind needs to be tranquil for this reason alone – when you speak slow, calm and with poise and a gentle smile the world treats you likewise. Fear and nervousness and a racing speech are a bad advertisement. Can’t afford in a society you are just implanted
d)     Lastly I have realized how to harvest each of the four colleagues at work. Better to invoke their best side or ignore than rattle their cages.
I went to Al Raha Mall in the first week of March. I left at 6:00 in the morning and that road took me on the Dubai highway. I was scared to see signpost like “120 kmph” speed levels and a city bus that did not stop for forty minutes except accelerate at over hundred kmph. I got down in the middle of a desert called “Al Bunder”. I was feeling queasy and a whiff of panic before another co-passenger gave a taxi booking number. I was waiting in the bus stop for this taxi before another empty one passed my eyes. He stopped as I flagged it down and my first query was,” Is this my taxi booking?” He shook his head to indicate otherwise and fortunately just then my taxi came. This driver told the other,” He is a real gentleman to wait for you.” A small incident but it made my day.
            I still dream of a column in a newspaper; destiny sucks for I am better than most I read in the UAE or Indian newspapers.
            My eldest sister, Ramakrishnan, T H Iyer write in regularly. Manisha too is communicative over mails; I made a regular practice to call the trio each time I get a salary cheque. I got a couple of nice mails from Arun of Kaar Technologies. 
I went for Pradosham yesterday and it opened a door to new friends with similar interests. Seeing a gathering of over two hundred Tambrahms in a hall got me feeling like being in a Mylapore market. As I grow older, I feel more a sense of identity as a tambrahm – it is wonderful community of academicians and hardworking souls and an intelligent gene-pool.
            This is a story against myself. I am a sucker for promotions that I purchased body lotion, mouthwash, face cream, hair cream just because a convenience store was offering them on a sale. I went and blew over 100 AED on a whim. And I did not feel bad; let’s see if I can ever make grooming a part of me?  
            I revise ten idioms a day – I jot down in my home (after that explanation in the second para!) before coming to office. Then I explore them over usage and meaning and context in the office computer. Words give me a secure feeling. When Roberts said,” Sathya, it is terrible to live alone. Find a woman.” I said,” I am happy as I am”. There are certain things in destiny’s territory but adding a woman baggage is not one of them. Being in Abu Dhabi for three months I am basking in my good fortune. The 2007 Sindhi was a 100% loss transaction for me. And this painful experience had dug deep into my subconscious with a chisel on a rock: no more foolhardiness. There are times I feel sad: we had a good bonding and should have built on it. But she just kicked it away with disdain (so trivial as to list romance before below grocery purchases like tomatoes and electricity bills and look out for rentals) and now my heart sees no fun in that direction. 
            What then has March taught me: augmenting my savings remains top on the column. Go slow and easy on yourself, have friends to laugh, and keep your mind healthy. I have learnt long that contentment in the here and now than seeing anything rosy in the horizon.  For a man on the threshold of a 45 birthday, the best days are in the rear view mirror! But as a writer I am only now beginning to soar. April and a new laptop should add to this belief, hopefully.