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.