Friday, December 1, 2017

Observesathya gets momentum

I have six active blogs. Spiritualsathya is transcription of Swamiji’s speeches, thinksathya is my showpiece where I get my best writing done, dauntlesssathya is freewheeling and current issues, I am so proud of Damienbosses which has tales of office terrorism, writersathya is basically defunct but if there are any published pieces then I might as well post here.
            Observesathya started as a second blog in 2008 and I love the Yercaud tales that I posted here. Sadly it was the blog that went super heavy on the Sindhi imbroglio as it unfolded in 2009 but now for the last 3 years I keep it pure: only posts on VIPASSANA and now MINDFULNESS. Most of these are transcriptions and I do them with an attitude of GRATITUDE and also a service. As a writer, the only way I can contribute to society is by words and maybe someone will benefit from these is a motivation. Besides I also like to keep my reading material on the internet medium and use it as my personal library.
            There are 30 talks of Psychotherapy Summit and these really shook my mind at a base level. So it is such a pleasure to make notes of them and post it here. December is one month I have to get all those in; which means the next 10-12 posts are on the way. I am certain that many would amble in here and find ambrosia as it were. For me MINDFULNESS is not a THEORY class but PRACTICE, it has turned my life upside down for the better. Maybe it caused the turnaround maybe I even owe it my existence. So I would like to see these posts here.
            2017 is perhaps the best year of my life. it started tamely. I had Abhiyan Digital for a home based assignment. My writing was so poor that I barely had strength to do these assignments. The first 3 months of this year was the Theni phase of “I am going to die next month” mindset. My road to recovery started in Feb when I took to Louise Hay’s AFFIRMATIONS in a big way.  Those led me to MINDFULNESS by April and May and from then, there was no looking back.
            I started blogging in the middle of June and since then have added 0ver 80 posts in one of the best writing spells ever. Even if you take away the transcriptions, there are over 50 posts which average to 2 posts a week. This is breakneck speed for me. I personally loved the PORTRAIT series in thinksathya and PERSPECTIVES in Dauntless. I don’t think my writing has ever been this smooth and free-flowing. Ever!!!
            Since July I had to scout for a source for earnings, except for a couple of freelance assignments this was a dry search. Meaning even I had lost zeal hunting for them and that’s when Ramesh advised: Sathya, have an alternate income source and how about communication workshops? First I rebelled against the idea feeling that I was not up to it but this rationale prevailed: waiting for writing assignments in Chennai is the height of stupidity. It is like waiting for a train in a desert.
            So I started working on CONTENTS in September and by October I was in a position to conduct them. My content is 100% original. I advertised in the local papers, hired a corporate venue and my first class as a mentor began on 5th November. I was nervous as hell but I kept at it. Two friends pitched in: Prithvi enrolled his son for what can be described as an act of kindness and Ramprasadh – the man who sent me to Abu Dhabi and I did not have the courage of face him since that failure – enrolled his employee. So many friends came out of nowhere for an encouraging word or even a selfless act. Krish Seshadri’s affections is something I cannot forget, he has the heart for the underdog and he goes out of his way to encourage them. Arun for his Diwali gifting of a T-shirt; it feels so special that I have not even worn it once. Manikandan came with Diwali sweets and both these were acts of grace I will never forget in a while. Then of course my regular friends like Vivek, Manisha, Ranga etc.
            And T H Iyer mama is one person who at 85 is one consistent face of friendship in 2017. He came back from Australia in April 2017 and he has seen me turn it around since then. He says: I have never seen you so confident and so serene. He has known me since 1998 when I first started to walk in the Theosophical Society Gardens.
            I love the training part. I have just 2 students and both of them love me after 7 classes and so I am doing good for starters. I am starting batch-2 on Sunday, 3rd December. Actually I had 6 vacant slots of the venue for which I had already paid and so I am trying to fill with this batch. My goals are modest: if I get 4 students which will be 100% improvement from batch-1, my day is made.
            2017 was the year I re-wired 48 years of faulty circuit. I see clearly how my mother trampled on my infant mind and how sick it had reduced me to. I fought this battle of moodswings for more than 25 years and finally finding a healing. I feel like a warrior who lost every battle of life but finally winning the war. As Einstein says that when God made the ass, HE gave him a thick skin. These communication workshops are also in a way a brand new start for a career. Maybe I will go back to UAE as a corporate/soft-skills trainer is a small dream I aspire. And falling in love is out of the question really but certainly I am in love with myself as a spiritual practice. Maybe life will dish out some wealth and health in the years of come.
            The blessings many: reliable friends for starters, Eliot’s Beach, music, guitar, and of course my writing. I don’t know what 2018 will bring but what the hell, I lived 2017 and it has been a privilege so far. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Too many crooks

:(Sukumaran, mattress. Kannan)
I am no sucker. Though many feel I am one.  I have a heart for the poor and when any beggar says, “I did not have a meal today,” he stands a good chance to get a Rs. 10 note from me.
            First the knee treatment: I paid Sukumaran 10 k for 12 herbal dressings – we came to 8 dressings before the man shunted me out by doing a disappearing act. My knees were definitely getting better under his watchful eyes but for some reason he did not take my calls and I also lost interest. He has done me a lot of favours in the past and so I did not feel overtly disappointed. But one part of the mind screamed: This is not fair. I am being taken for a ride. So this treatment came to an abrupt end in the first week of October with the knees still needing expert care. I thought to myself: let me earn enough and try Sparcc. That would mean exhausting every possible treatment route. But at least they are in some shape for daily walks to the beach and his treatment worked and did me some good.  I still believe Sukumaran is extremely gifted healer but he lacks consistency to see it through. But I will have no more patience for this attitude.
            Straw mattress episode: It was the middle of October when this happened:
            I work from a desktop from a window of the drawing room for a view of the balcony and the main thoroughfare where the buses motor past in fourth gear. Seventh Avenue is a broad road – must be 80 feet – and the traffic accelerates with new found freedom.  I saw a family take shelter in the trees lining my side of the road. Most of the travelling lot like traders or gas delivery boys use the empty pavements and tree cover as a place for lunch as they unwrap the boxes. No one minds it a bit for the poor too must survive.
            I saw a family – two men and women – rest for lunch. I saw they were selling straw mattresses and plastic chairs. I went down and showed interest in the mattress. A woman who appeared for a tribal lineage with her saree in gaudy trinkets attended to me. She said, “One mattress for Rs. 500.”
            I said, “Rs 350” without a clue as to the cost
            She then found me an easy goat and went for the kill, “We carry this on the road, there is little money for us. I will give you two mattresses for Rs. 700.”
            I am bachelor with no need for a second mattress but she kept persuading and importuning and fell for it. I paid the money and when Thangam came the next morning I showed them. She said,” This is not worth more than Rs. 150 apiece,” which meant that I paid over the double the market rate. It does your morale no good that a tribal woman sold you a dummy. What was sad was even as I was paying Rs. 700 I asked her, “Do you have enough margin on this or is it a distress sale?” My lesson from this incident was “never buy a good without knowing its market price” and “don’t be a saint” – for everyone has it tough for them. Suddenly these two mattresses felt like sore eyes and I told Thangam, “Please take one of them, each time I see them it reminds me of my foolishness.”
            Monkey business this: Losing Rs. 700 on a worthless purchase happens to the best of us but it takes a special fool for fall for this. There was a Facebook character who is a small time film director, I invited him home and this tale was sadder than mine. Kannan came to my house around the same time, say mid-October.  He told me of this grim tale,” My wife divorced me 14 years back. I was a millionaire running ten businesses but the divorce got me so depressed that I lost one entire decade. That brought me to the roads; I lost my influence in the film world, my enterprises crashed with a lot of help from ungrateful friends. I had reached a point of suicide. I used to love my little daughter whose custody too I lost.”
            That tale got him a meal from me as I entertained him at Vishranti. Then a week later, he calls, “Sathya, I am having typhoid. I have no money at all. I am dying.”  I said,” I can spare you Rs. 500,” he immediately jumped on the offer, came to my place for the dough.
            Next week, he comes to my house and I tell him about my communication workshop. Kannan says: I know friends all over. I can easily get you 3-4 students with just a couple of phone calls. Which of course makes me happy! I have been on the road selling this monster for a month with only Prithvi’s son and Ram’s employee to show for those selling efforts.
            Kannan sucks me in by being extremely useful. He make a flower pot of an unused plastic container in the kitchen for a plant that I got visiting the real estate exhibition, he gives his dumb phone in exchange to mine but this comes with a memory card that came in handy in recording the Psychotherapy talks. 
Each time Kannan comes, I lose money. I did not see the pattern until it happened every single time.
He looks at my Samsung galaxy 3 smartphone that fails to boot saying, “This is a software problem and I will have it repaired for Rs. 500.” I give that money and couple of days later he comes to my place and says, “Actually the repair is Rs. 850 and do you want to still repair it.” I answer by doling out another Rs. 500. Later in the day he says, “The screen has some problem and it will cost you another Rs. 400 and so the total repair is Rs. 1450, “and I say foolishly, “Go ahead, “and give another Rs. 500. There is a lesson hidden here: next time attend to all mobile repairs or similar errands yourself, don’t entrust it to others. Don’t entrust anyone to purchase for you even if it is technical things like an electric switch or RCP or some such nonsense.
            Kannan attends my third class of the WORKSHOP and made a video recording with my digital camera. They revealed so many things about me: I speak too fast for one, a bit loud too. I thanked him for these priceless lessons before Kannan pulled another fast one, “My friend is a ADIDAS dealer and he is closing down. He is selling sneakers at cost price Rs. 750 which the market sells for Rs. 2500.”
            I fall for his bait as I dole out Rs. 1000. Next visit he says, “There is one model for Rs. 1750 and I have booked them for you,” which meant another Rs. 1000 is slipped into this man’s hands.
            One part of mind felt that this guy is robbing me blind. I reasoned thus: “A new smartphone will cost at least 10 k and if I can repair my Samsung for 1.5 k and if it were to last me even 6 months at least I am spared of those expenses now. On Adidas I knew that their range starts from 3k so if someone promises me a 4 k shoes for 2 k , it is a very smart purchase.”
            Kannan keeps promising, “Sathya, I have told all my friends about your WORKSHOP. One fellow is the Head of Visual Communicaton in Loyola. I will organize a talk for you. He will assemble all the students in the hall, you can make a sales pitch of the course content and hundreds of students will enroll.”
            By now I realize this man is just hot air and I was being ripped off – no repair of the Smartphone and no Addidas. I realize that this man has sucked me dry of Rs. 4, 700 in stages with an expert cheating streak. And no seminar sales pitch at Loyola!
            I was telling Thangam, “Already I am in bad shape and I allow a person to rob me in broad daylight. I now realize the maxim that money and fools are so parted.”
            She said, “You have a kind heart and besides you are such a recluse that you were just not equipped to handle such tricksters. It is a lesson for you to be on guard and not be carried away by other’s sob stories.”
            I have lived alone for a decade and no one has touched me this badly. I am sucker alright but I never lost on financial transaction. Of course I have had so many clients who commissioned me to work on their projects and not pay me which is an occupational hazard. But no one has tricked me like that tribal woman on straw mattresses and this failed film director. I said maybe I am getting softer with MINDFULNESS and so let me a little hard-skinned when anyone serves a sob story.  I consoled myself saying: If I get one EXTRA student for my WORKSHOP it would compensate for this patented foolishness. As for the lesson, it’s priceless and now no beggar on the streets gets that 10 rupee note when entreating on his starvation. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

27 November 2016

One year on. And I can never forget those times.
            Let me keep this as simple and to the point. My life was a disaster at birth. My mother was hopelessly sick with not a grain of love in her genes. So as infants we never knew motherly affection until we grew old enough to understand Nirupa Roy’s portrayals. Let me tell you this with all the conviction at my command: any individual who has not experienced his/her mother’s love ends up as dregs of society or in a lunatic asylum or gangster. A puppy does not need its mother so much; give it food and shelter and it will grow to a happy dog without psychological deprivation. But a human being, NO WAY
            Nature does not intend babies to grow on a diet of HATE and FEAR without damaging the neuro-circuitry.  Nature does however create mothers in the animal kingdom that makes a meal of its offspring. But these species are rare. Even in the wild, animals tend to their young with a lot of care and protection.  We digress and let me come back to my tale.
            I discovered that I had Bipolar when I was 21 during my MBA days. Since then I have always treated myself as a second class citizen. I never aspired for love and romance, marriage never contemplated. I did however have a modest goal which was to earn and feed my tummy.  To my achievement, I have managed that feat for 25 years.
            When nature gives you a problem it also gives you flickerings of solutions now and then. My first act of grace I perceived was “heart surgery” at 29. The nurses looked after me well and for the first time I felt a human being take my BP or change the wet cloth on my forehead for I was dying of a high grade fever. These little acts of human touch got me healed a great deal; such was my deprivation.
            The second act of grace was Swamiji’s weekend spiritual lectures and walks in the Theosophical Society but the greatest gift of nature was the “gift of writing”. I went to Bahrain where I got a bit worldly-wise thanks to a human hound called Ajit.
            The first miracle of my life was Manisha who came into my life when I was 37. I was in the grip of the darkest depression when a psychiatrist walked into my life and treated me with the concern of a sister. For the first time in my life, I felt a deep well of gratitude and this emotion lasted for the next three years. The second miracle turned out a flash in the pan. I fell in love with PW and she was everything I ever dreamt in my fantasies. No human being ever gave me so much hopes and happiness and rich hues of dreams than this romantic interlude that lasted 6 months. But then, I was dumped with a callousness that even hardened criminals would shy from.  PW was beautiful in most ways; but she set such high standards for a man that it felt I was appearing in an exam every day for the madam’s approval. I felt a genuine connection, pity is she did not either feel it or kicked it away. This took a while in healing and I was 40 when I added these scars to my childhood ones!!
            I knew from my deepest gut in every atom that my life-force cannot go on to old age. I was hopelessly left alone. Mother continues to be emotionally fragile and still spewing either fear or hatred. Both my sisters never cared for a moment for they were wired so strongly for a belief that once married,  they wash their hands off the previous family. It wouldn’t surprise me if my dead body is dumped to a hospital for use in an anatomy class of a medical college. The most charitable I can take of their point of view is they too grew in the same hostile environment but they somehow managed to be on the right side of the equation of life. So I knew that I HAD to plan my exit. I can’t place my fate to God and wait for HIS agents to take away my breath. Even in Abu Dhabi when I was earning almost 2 lacs a month, I never felt an ounce of joy or hope. Loneliness does all that mischief and more!
            So when 2015 dawned I knew my day of reckoning had come. I had to consume those barbiturates that I had carefully hoarded. But it is never easy – thoughts of dying is one thing and actual dying is something especially for a person who has had over 2 decades of Upanishad teachings.  So I did the next best thing: I kept postponing. I told myself: DIE WHEN YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO FEED YOURSELF. Till then, it is fair game to be alive even if you are HOPELESSLY alone and not one soul to turn to.
            I slipped into a depression in April of 2015 and for the next two years, not one hour of the waking day passed without this macabre thought: should it be today or tomorrow. I didn’t wish to die in Besant Nagar and so I went to Theni, 500 km away.
            I befriend Govind Raj a car driver in October, 2016 when I went on a three day trip to Swami Omkarananda ashram. I met Govind Raj who was very friendly and I marked him as my man. We spoke over a month before I left for Theni again and this time to enlist his help in dying.
            I spent one day convincing him. He even spoke to my sister and then he said, “Sir, I agree with you. You have reached the dead-end and I will help you end this pain. I clearly see that you have exhausted every avenue to living; if you linger longer you either go to an asylum and so this is the best course for you.” Any mental disorder with no family support is something even an illiterate car driver can arrive at.  He then said, “Sir, I know a person who does this thing. He has an injection and you come to sleep immediately and never wake up. I see you are desperate and my expenses are 6 k.” I happily paid that money and wrote a “suicide letter” so that he was absolved in every way possible.
            Govind Raj’s was a man of action who believed that there should not a trace of my dead body. He said, “We will inject you this fatal drug and immediately take you in a car to a deserted farmhouse for a quick cremation and no one will be wiser.” The date was fixed for the next day, 27th November.
            I did not sleep a wink on 26th night. I felt a strange emotion. On one hand my entire mind relaxed knowing that my troubles were coming to an end. I wasn’t scared of karmic punishments for no one would have been a more loyal devotee of the Lord than to plod through 47 years of “unloved and uncared” existence.
            The next day Govind Raj came to my hotel room at 1:30 pm with his hack doctor. One look at the gigantic man and my mind did a somersault.  I said, “Give me the drug. I don’t to die today.”
            We argued to and fro for an hour. He said, “I have invested monies on logs and fuel to burn your body. You have no choice but to go along with these arrangements.” One part of my mind wanted to die but another said, “I don’t wish to die so unloved and uncared.” I was firm, we even got to blows. He was heavily drunk and I pushed and threw him on the floor. Govind raj refused to give me the vial but I was more relieved that it was my decision that prevailed. I took the first bus out of Theni at 6:00 in the evening and reached Chennai the next morning at 4:00.
            All my life I wanted a peaceful death and when someone offered, I dithered and got cold feet. Instead I went back to Lithium tablets and anti-depressants!  Vivek Banerjee is a true friend and he was truly shocked to hear of my Theni escapades. He arranged a writing assignment with his brother-in-law. That gave me money and something to work during the day. 
            In February, I went back to Louise Hay’s affirmations. I used to hear her talk for 4-5 hours a day and make notes. I used to get up in the morning and do the “mirror work.” My only friend in the day was Chris who I used to meet at Eliot’s Beach in the evenings.  Working for a small firm in Gurgaon had a lot of advantages: the work never took more than an hour’s time and I was growing stronger. And then MINDFULNESS happened.
            I first heard Jon Kabat-Zinn in April and that led me to Eckhart Tolle in May. Iyer mama came from Australia in April and he was steadfast in his concerns and affections. I was still working my ideas on AFFIRMATIONS and MINDFULNESS poring every energy and over 4-5 hours of dedicated study. My mind for the first time saw something bigger than death and dying, I soon learnt about energy fields (which was my "aha" moment) and childhood trauma. And then another miracle happened: I got my writing back as I wrote my first blog in 30 months in the middle of June.
            Once writing is in, the other aspects of life followed. I started to attend Swamiji’s class and then went to monthly “amavasya” tharpanams that I had abandoned for 2 years and slowly kept adding my usual routines bit by bit from dusting my guitar and playing it or blasting rock music that even my neigbours said, “Sathya, when you shout you sound just like AR Rahman.” By July and August I had never felt so calm and serene in my entire life. I learnt about “loving myself” and “Self-compassion”. By now I was reading and hearing podcasts of Jack Kornfield, Dr. Kristin Neff and Tara Brach where I learnt the science of healing.
            The rest of the story is easy. Friends chipped in. Ramesh said, " Sathya, do a communication workshop.  I will support you.” Then Shyam chipped in saying,” I will bear the cost of the venue.” And when Arun gifted me the T-shirt for Diwali and Mani came with sweets, I knew my healing was complete. When the mind is serene, people around you notice and beam at you and offer a hand to shake. I suddenly made a lot of new acquaintances at the Beach. I found some IMT classmates read my blogs and that revived old ties for a morale booster. My go to man any time I feel like talking is Vivek; he is by far my best friend. Manisha too chips in with regular mails. Thangam is a pillar of support.  Iyer mama is steadfast in his affections. I get a lot of attention and friendships at the Eliot's Beach. 
            It has taken me less than 6 months from my initiation to MINDFULNESS in May. My healing was slow and steady. I changed every toxic thought pattern that was hurting me. I learnt to treat myself kinder, I told myself, “If my parents did not parent me, no problem. I will parent myself. “I never knew that one can love oneself, all my life I was seeking love and acceptance from the outer world. Now that I was practising self-love with mirror work and regular affirmations, I believe these led me to MINDFULNESS and that’s when I stayed healed.
            With growing mental strength I re-organized my life. The first casualty was my eldest sister. She was only giving me negative energy of abandonment daily and so I put an end of her phone calls for a great insight: It is better to be alone than to lean on a cardboard chair. She was sort of an emotional crutch and once I gave that up, I rapidly grew stronger reminding me even more intently that “I am on my own” and “I have to love myself more.”
            I also evaluated PW a character my mind had fogged those memories that felt from another age. Those were healings as I realized: I don’t need to give up on myself even if she had. I also realized she herself was mighty sick: she had grown disrespectful of love after many past failed relations. Such a suspicious streak, she will drive angels and Mother Teresa (s) away. This thought was another liberating thought as I was growing into more and more open space in my mind and beginning to feel a lightness and freedom I had never felt before. The proof that so many were suddenly opening up to me: Arun, my cousin connected in Facebook. I was making new friends almost every week at the Eliot’s. And would you believe it, even stray dogs started to leap up in affection sensing some kind of tranquility. And when I got into occasional tiffs with anyone, my blood never boiled for earlier even a chance remark would lay me low for weeks. I knew I could be provoked to the extreme but I learnt to recover to base in 10 minutes!!! 
            By June, I knew I had turned the corner. Doing those blogs was therapeutic. With each passing month, I knew I will survive. I will earn my bread, no problem. My knees are in terrible shape but I am exulting: If I can crack bipolar I can heal just about anything.
            Less than a year, I paid a man to kill me. And a year later, I am in an eternal love affair with me. I learnt to trust and honour myself and believe me, it came easy, And more importantly, I stay healed.  And how do you know you are healed? You are comfortable in your own skin and others around you want a piece of you.  And after such a close encounter with death, I consider every day of living a bonus. Destiny keeps me alive for a reason and it will unfold at its own pace; sufficient unto the day I concentrate on my communication WORKSHOP and MINDFULNESS blogs that keeps piling up. 
Post Script: Look, I never came clean on BIPOLAR in eleven years of blogging and now I do it for a casual reference. It is easier to talk of a problem of your past than when the wound is still live for another insight. When you overcome a chronic condition, one feels a freedom and no shame attached. Rather it serves as an inspiration to others that you can dig yourself from the pits of hell and I will verily show you the way. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

"Sounds True" & the rest

I am loving this phase of life. I have been listening to at least 3 hours of “Psychotherapy & Spirituality” talks that “Sounds True" organized from 31st October. Each day 3 speakers are featured and the recording is available for 24 hours and so I put everything aside and solely concentrate on these.
            I find these talks fulfilling my heart’s desire. I have been searching to address my own childhood trauma and these talks have not just given me optimism but a conviction that I am already healed.  The premise of these talks is the wisdom gained from combining Eastern philosophy and Western rigour in Psychotherapy. 
            The speakers are mostly PhD's from an Ivy League College or practicing at the most renowned medical centers or best selling authors – it is a whos whos of the best therapists in America. I got acquainted with jargons like Depth psychology, spiritual by-passing, ayahuasca ceremony, enneagram for personality types, healing of parts, and more.
            Eastern traditions like Buddhism and Yoga have a great tradition of training the mind and this when combined with over hundred years of psychotherapy of the West yield amazing results. Say Buddhism addresses issues of sorrow that stem from sickness, old age, death and emotional states for anger, lust, animosity etc but they are not equipped to address modern age trauma issues of childhood abuse (am I not prime example of this!!), low esteem, sexual abuse, drug overdose and things like that. The West has a tradition of healing the mind through visiting childhood memories and an expertise to release the fears and other toxic emotions of the mind that was abused in one’s infant years. I had a great time listening to masters like Stan Grof, Dorothy Hunt, Jack Kornfield, Richard Schwartz, James Hollis, Thomas Moore, A H Almaas, Gabor Mate etc.
            Listening to 30 of the best therapists in America is something you can reschedule your regular activity. So from 31st October to 9th November I was hooked on these talks. I made notes and these will be posted on OBSERVESATHYA in November.
            I learnt a lot of things, most of these ideas were just the food the mind was actively seeking. Like “controlling the self-critic” in you to “ leading an agenda-less life” and healing the traumas gently and smoothly by observing them rather than fighting or suppressing those. 
          One lesson I learnt in the last 6 months is that any resistance multiplies suffering, observing in a loving presence is transformative. Hearing these people I couldn’t help a gushing gratitude: had I met a therapist of this quality, my 2015-2016 years would have been salvaged.  I languished in self-pity and depression for nearly 30 months and very close to the edge. Had I come across such therapists, I would have taken less than 4 sessions for a complete healing and less than a fortnight’s time. That’s the quality and class we are talking about, and so it was no surprise that I relegated everything else to the backyard and just focused my attentions here.
            Reading the transcripts would not have made a dent to the mind but watching them speak in real time felt real and very reassuring. I have no words to express my Sukran Jazillan - thanks a million times - to "Sounds True." 
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Latha’s son’s engagement came and went. I did not put in an appearance. I did feel sad that as siblings we never learnt to fix this relation. Both V and L were CALLOUS to a staggering degree and an idiom for APATHY when my boat of life was burning. They just watched from the side-lines, they never lifted a finger to help me. Both symbolize the total breakdown of the family structure – such a toxic level of SELF-CENTREDEDNESS bodes no one any good. 
             Their crimes are many, chiefly they never bothered to include me in any festivities since dad’s death 28 years ago. Not even a phone call of greeting on Diwali or birthdays or Pongals or Ganesh Chaturthi. The second reason was “we have gone so distant that I felt that they would not even come to the hospital even when I would be fighting for my next breath in a ICU”. They have a mindset only for rituals and make a show of affection in a relatives gathering. 
            One feels sad that such specimens are your sisters. We all were victims of a diseased mother but these people have gone on to build happy families for themselves but they never spared a thought for me. They job description never included a brother grappling with bipolar and its attendant loss of career, poor health (even my heart surgery in 1998 merited no great show of concern) before Theni in 2016 and Prakash’s death this year showed that the clock had passed for any reconciliation. My heart had hardened and I wasn’t going to be anyone’s fool any longer.
            You don’t shut your door for 3 decades, wake up one fine morning to say “My son is getting married and you are invited.” Actually Latha was very upset with my portrait of her in THINKSATHYA, Viji is breathing fire and brimstone over my description of her. As for me, I really don’t care for these opinions are not new. I always aired them in person for decades and my final revenge was these written posts for a closing finality and that kind of penetrated those thick skulls. There is a lesson here: when you have a speck of virtue in you and someone rails against you; you listen and may even course correct. But most of humanity are assholes. They read any criticism as a threat for a rush of adrenaline and close the circuit. Suits me fine, even better. 
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The communication WORKSHOP started on 5th November with Prithvi’s son Rishi and Karl Marx (who came through Ramprasad, another friend and well-wisher). I have taken two sessions so far and I am loving the experience. I am doing well because on both occasions I was dropped to my residence.
            I break-even with 3 and I am still hopeful that I might reach that number. TRAINING is a new door of opportunity of my career and anything is better than being a CONTENT WRITER. If I get this right, I might even get an opportunity to go back to UAE as a trainer than a writer and it’s such a liberating thought.
            The course content is entirely mine and I dig deep to source content – mostly from my life experience – that best serves the class. I will get better as a teacher with each class; Prithvi attended the first and he was gushing in appreciation and for the second class Iyer mama observed me. He gave me a huge thumbs up. So this feels a right course for me, I am hoping and praying destiny co-operates. Ideally I would like to organize 10 such workshops a year, this activity wins a lot of friends and mentally less taxing and no sadistic bosses to tow.
+          +          +          +          +          +          +          +          +          +
It is the time for North- East and Chennai is fast drowning in the deluge. But Besant Nagar is the best place to be. This is level ground and no water logging. We may drown from rising water of the Bay of Bengal rather than a 200 mm rain in 24 hours.
            I have been regular to the Beach whenever there is a respite from the showers. I am making new friends at Eliots. I keep rankling Raman, a IIT professor, saying, “ Buddha is advanced version of Adi Sankara.” I also find a 90 year old Raghuraman absolutely inspiring for Saranagathi. Surrender to the Lord comes easy to Vishnavite genes. He said today, “Sathya, there was a time when I knew owners of Hindu and Indian Express intimately. I would love to have seen you as a columnist. But now no one will listen or even know me.”
            I have not asked any favours from anyone and when he learnt that I was a writer from a common friend, he expressed such a heart-warming sentiment. I feel truly blessed. Life denied me blood relations but has enriched me with such well-wishers. Then there is Sathyan who loaned me a mobile phone handset for recording. In all, I feel an enveloping sense of bonding and protection.  These are definitely good days. May I build on them with a bit of a helping hand from destiny. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

October unforgettable moments

I live alone, except on morning walks I hardly meet anyone in the day. So I really treasure moments of connections that any human interaction generates.  October has been a bumper harvest for unforgettable moments
Ramesh: He was one who suggested that I conduct a workshop as he reasoned: In today’s world one needs two or three streams of income. For you to sit at home and await freelance content assignment is being unproductive and optimistic to the extreme. I dithered for I am more a man of words than speech, Ramesh reassured, “ Sathya, I will market the course. We will find a venue.” And after that there was no looking back as Ramesh helped me with the design of the workshop poster and he actively markets it in his contacts circle. I ran the course content with him as he exulted, “ Sathya, this is good stuff and once we get started this will have many re-runs. It is reasonably priced and the content is fantastic.” Another common friend Prithvi writes in, “Ramesh has thrown his full weight marketing this workshop. Sathya, things may get delayed and not derailed.”
            I contacted my ex-clients, ex-colleagues, ex-friends and anyone in the contact lists in gmail on marketing the workshop and no one responded. When I told Ramesh, “ This looks a non-starter,” his response serves as a motivation, “ Sathya, when my wife started the Montessori School for kids, we had two kids enrolled in three months of marketing – my cousin’s daughter and then my own daughter. Only after three months we found takers for this school. Once you run one WORKSHOP then word of mouth gets around and till then it is only friends and relations to the rescue.”
Prithvi: I met Prithvi last year when I was battling depression at AVG clinic where he had come to grow hair on his scalp. Prithvi is younger by three years but on looks and energy he looks a decade younger. He saw me at my own worst and yet when I announced the WORKSHOP he responded like a dream, “ Sathya, I am enrolling my son. I want him to be your first student. I am certain that you have in you for mentoring young people.” He transferred 6 k to my bank account as fees and reassures me, “ Sathya, my son will also try to rope in couple of friends. Don’t worry about the delay. We will aim for at least 10 people and we’ll settle for 6 at the least. I am positive that you will find your feet in training.” This WORKSHOP was supposed to start on 8th October and I feel guilty that I kept postponing with just Prithvi’s son’s enrolment. As for the man he is least bothered on delay, “Sathya, I want you to train my son on communication on par with yours.”  Prithvi is a cheerful optimist and his positive energy spills over. After any interaction with him I feel energized and redouble my efforts – he sure is a hero material in Indian films whose favourite heroine is Anushka Shetty! This is a pet domain we get our laughs for a conversation opener. 
Krishnan Seshadri: Actually I was introduced to Krishnan and Prithvi around the same time by Sukumaran at AVG Clinic. Krish is a software engineer working on US projects and one of the best human beings I have met in life. He has such a large heart for the underdog. I was at my worst last year and Krish would exhort, " Sathya, you are such a brilliant writer. Why don't you start a writing course? " or "I have a lot of friends. With your writing prowess, I will try to net people on drafting their resumes. With your expertise, you can make any resume shine?" 
              Krish connects with others at a deep level, his rapport and concern for others is legendary to a folklore level. When in trouble, he is the kind of bloke you will rush for rescue and he would do his best to get you off the river. Now he is in America and I miss the interactions. But he left me with such wonderful memories of the best in human nature. 
Shyam: I sent a PPT of the WORKSHOP to half a dozen contacts and Shyam called last week saying, “ Sathya, if you don’t mind I want to sponsor the venue costs. This will give you more time to put your efforts in enrollments and take some weight off your shoulders.” I said,” Thanks, I will take your help.”
            Shyam has been a great friend and well-wisher in the last 4-5 years. He used to say, “ Sathya, I feel sad each time I read your blog posts. People with one-tenth your abilities earn ten times more.” On another occasion he rang up to compliment me on my Damien bosses posts saying, “ I came to office in a dreadful mood. I read these posts and within 10 minutes I was rolling in laughter.”
Arun:  He called me on Sunday and said, “ I will meet you tomorrow at your place in the evening on my way back from work.”  So on 16th Oct, Arun lands at my place and hands me over a gift. It is a T-shirt just bought at Reliance TRENDS. I am floored and lost for words. I refused to take the gift as Arun insisted, “ You stay so alone that I had to give you a gift. Actually it makes me feel better.”
            Arun works in Ramavaram which is 20 kms from Besant Nagar and his residence is in Tambaram and again 20 kms in another direction. So to gift me this T-shirt he spent 30 minutes at my place and over 4 hours on the city roads in peak traffic on my account.
            I met Arun in a job interview at Kaar technologies in 2013 where he was the interviewer. We shook hands and his first response was, “ I read your Linkedin page and you write beautifully. I wish I can write 5% of your level.” Since then we have been friends. He calls me on weekends as a concerned well-wisher of a terrible recluse. And talking to him is a breeze given his intellect and humour and above all, concern. Seriously for me Diwali 2017 memories will always be this T-shirt gift.
Varadan:  I meet Iyer mama and Varadan on my daily walks at the Beach. I told them a week before Diwali, “ I hate to be alone on Diwali with all the festive noise. I am planning to go somewhere and escape this noise.” Varadan immediately suggests Pondicherry saying, “ Sathya, I know those people and they have a fantastic guesthouse.” Not only that, he booked a room against my name. On 17th October I get a call from him saying, “Sathya, when did you reach Pondy? Is the room comfortable?? Did you get the food coupons??”  That call left me feeling nice about myself that I am wanted and cherished in my very limited circle of friends.
               Then there is Bala I turn to advice on “Whether I should sell this apartment or not?? Or at what possible price?? Manikandan says: I have posted your COMMUNICATION WORKSHOP on a HR forum. Anyway I am meeting you this week with Diwali sweets. I know you stay alone and you have not tasted these goodies.  I also lapped up to Ashish’s message on my Facebook: Happy Deepavali Satya dear. May you continue to light up the mankind with your insightful writing. Loads of happiness and wish that you have not a single dark moment in your life. Safe travels my friend and look fwd to hearing back from you soon. 
                 Truly friends lighted up this Diwali for me with these unforgettable memories.  

Monday, October 9, 2017

Portrait lessons

Profiling “people” who left their mark on me was something that came intuitively. Actually it was in May 2006 when I wrote a profile of 14 characters that convinced me that writing is one vocation I should pursue no matter the returns at the box office.  Writing is a lot of fun activity for me and so any money it fetches for a middle-class existence is okay.
            All I was striving for was to paint these characters on a palette but since nature has not endowed me with any skill with the brush, I used words as tools. I tried to capture the mood of the person, the circumstances and the times in which they lived. Then a funny thing happened – the more I thought about them the more I was finding an insight about me. This bears repetition: The more I contemplated on each of these characters, the more I was learning about me. Truly every person who comes into our life is mostly not our choice but they come to teach life lessons. Destiny is infinitely kind and looks after you as a mother to a new born kid. Everything happens in perfect time, space and sequence and where none of your silly fantasizes and wet dreams need apply.
            I am making this post for another reason; I have over 65 Portraits and I want them in one page.  So here we go:
Portraits (Family); There are two posts of my father (Appa and Appa's greatness), one on Amma, and siblings. Writing on Viji and Latha were difficult – they were not considerate to me but theirs are hugely successful lives as they have built wonderful families for themselves. So even as I wrote on them, I was more than conscious that their stint on earth has more meaning and depth than mine. This family section also pays homage to dead members: Paati, Rajamani, Durai, and Prakash. I have not left myself either with “Being Sathya” and “My Upanayanam Images” of a bye gone era.
Portraits (Bahrain): There are four posts that captures one of the shortest, sweetest time period of my life. Ajit made me worldly wise, Mona and Mariam were two Bahraini women who made a strong impression in my mind and Usha of course was a jackal of a manager. But those three months – September, October, November of 2003 – were indeed rich and memorable.
Portraits (Friends); Here again I pay homage to those who passed over: Ravi of my school days, Brig. Mehta was perhaps one of the most complete human beings who I was fortunate to chance in my walks at Theosophical Society gardens and Sarada Mami without doubt a human being with a lot of compassion and a mind as sharp as a scalpel.
            Working on Ishita blog taught me one thing rather reinforced my stance. PW was both a ANGEL and a DEVIL and where she failed was in the morality department. Serious to god and no sour grapes, you can live either with a ANGEL or a DEVIL but you can’t live with one who waxes and wanes like the moon, Slippery character this. Jekyll and Hyde types. 
           P Whorewani (2009) and Endless Suffering (Jackal) in June 2017 are posts that capture my thoughts on this very devious sub-human. A PhD with 25 years in social sector and history will remember her as a dubious character from these writings is sufficient punishment.                
            There are friends like Balakant, SDP, Dr. Rajaram, Mani, Vinod and Priya for loud banter and lots of fun moments. They made me feel young without a care in the world. Then there are reliable friends who held an umbrella when the storm got intense like Ranga, Vivek, Manisha, and T H Iyer Mama.  I also did blogs on Thangam and Meera who helped me in the kitchen for a decade. Seriously they served me daily and on sheer utility rank on top of the heap.
            Now I am left with Dauntlesssathya posts. There are 36 posts here. The difference between thinksathya portraits and this is not the intensity of familiarity but these are mostly profiles of people who came to my life and exited for a short duration – mostly office colleagues and bosses, distant relations, school teachers kinds. I don’t scorn at these posts rather take as much pride in them and the efforts that went into Thinksathya ones. I divided these profiles into three categories:
Sattwic: Fr. Kadavel, Lucas Indra and Mark  from my school days at St. Patricks, office acquaintances Desikamani, Badri, John Kuruvilla and some truly memorable encounters with Navneet at IMT, Vijay and Parvati Mami at TS, Meena at distant China and Krishnan who is a sailor and a terrific person on zest and humour. And my chanting guru the venerable Venkatakrishnan Mama
Rajasic are those characters who did not particular leave me with fragrance but they were moments and this is mostly the bosses crowd: Vijay Iyer, Narasimhan, Sriganesh, MinnieSonny, Umita, Bimal Nair, Karthik, Devarajan and one with a slight romantic possibility in Lakshmi.  Friends like PR Venkateswaran and family relations like  AthaiVisalamRajamaniRamani, Srinivasan and PozhichalurAnd finally Tamasic ones who brought nothing but sorrow and turbulence as in Sanjay in Triton, Krishna Kumar at Percept, Ramesh and Swami
            I still have a list of over 20 profiles pending on Dauntlesssathya which I will attempt to complete before 2017 draws to a close. I take these portraits damn seriously, more than looking out of the window they show up an aspect of me.  
         I also learnt an important lesson: you don't come down with a hammer on your friend's foibles at times. You learn to grin and bear them when there is still a long term projection to it and this leads to another breathtaking insight: You treat yourself kindly and also the people who matter regardless of wrinkles and creases. Oh, the mind can play such tricks though you may be blessed with the wisdom of a Solomon - truly destiny as a factor in my life has been a towering shadowing presence. Not complaining, just observing. And waiting for it to write a better script.

Friday, October 6, 2017

My Ortho troubles - Part 3

One of the disciplines I bring to blogging is LABELS so a story can be added to existing ones without background explanations.  But let me do a prĂ©cis here even if you miss the LABEL at the bottom of the page:  In May 2017 my knees had reached the outer limits of endurance and went on strike. I consulted an orthopaedic and he gave me no satisfaction jumping to “Total Knee Replacement” for a solution. I hate surgical options and I am certain that I would refuse one even if my existence depended on it; I had one heart surgery in my life and that is more than my mind can go through again. The second part of “My Ortho” post described my experience with Dr. Ramnarayan who recommended a simple daily chore of “hot water dabs with Volini thrice a day” with a promise that my knees would dramatically improve. That was towards the end of June, 2017. Now we are on track for Part-3 as the story progresses on the timeline. 
            July and August I went through the regime of “hot water dabs thrice” with a discipline of a soldier. On most days, I would get it on par but even on lean days, I never went below twice. This exercise became as regular as daily baths and three square meals. I knew that I cannot take a day job or if fortune knocked at my doors with a Dubai job; my knees were not up to it. So I had to address this crippling arthritis with a sense of urgency and purpose.
            The daily dabs with Volini got them alright. There was a marked improvement and I could move about a ONE kilometre distance without much discomfort. But by the end of August, I instinctively realized that I needed something more.  Enter Sukumaran.
            I have known Sukumaran, a master healer, who uses acupuncture, Ayurveda and Siddha for healing stubborn ailments and even chronic ones.  I first consulted him when my depression was at its peak last year in June and this man really cared treating it with an unmatched dedication. What’s more he did not even charge me a penny for his expertise. 
            Now a year later, I called him with no higher motive than a simple thank you: “Sir, how are you? I am still alive and kicking. I feel healed of those nagging depressions in decades thanks to your efforts and my chance discovery of Mindfulness.”  I met him with sweets in the last week of August, 2017 and an excited self-congratulatory ring when he observed, “Sathya, your knees are really bad. I will treat you but this time on cost basis. “ Sukumaran had recently rented a new premise for the clinic and he needs money to pay those bills. 
            He explained, “There is a herb which must be plastered to the knees. I guess in ten sittings you will be able to run and spirit.”
            I said, “Perfect.”
My only irritant is the distance for Annanagar is in other end of the city. As for his expertise, I knew he is a healer without comparison, nonpareil. How many times have I seen, right before my eyes, treat cases successfully when the surgeons mess-up at Apollo Hospitals? Sukumaran is a third generation healer in traditional medicine; his solutions are always simple – like using turmeric or basic herbs or acupuncture points – and he gets amazing results. He seems to have two or three options for each disease.
We started in the end of August when his assistant Ibrahim – another character I am well acquainted from the 2016 phase – said, “Sathya, the medicines will cost Rs. 7 k a daily massage at Rs. 300.” I knew these rates were very reasonable and I did not waste a second signing up. 
I said, “Sukumaran Sir, I will pay 10 k straightaway. Please see to it the course of treatment fits into this budget. I really can’t stretch beyond this.” I had a retainer sort of arrangement with a Delhi firm and it was so frustrating that I walked out in the middle of July despite the uncertainty. Point is, financially I am down to my knees, whatever little drizzle of earning even that had dried out. 
So effectively the treatment began in the last week of August.  Ibrahim was the person who handles the timings and appointment and I was livid when the appointment on 1st September for my third session was cancelled. It is like this: for a 4:30 pm appointment I have to start at 3:00 pm and the bus would almost do a pradakshina of the city. One trip to Annanagar and your day is gone; you come back home dog-tired and an exhaustion that spills over to the next day.
I even thought: Why all this way to Annanagar? Recently Sparcc Clinic was opened in Besant Nagar and they have built of a reputation of successfully treating stubborn arthritis. So my mind always tossed around: Sukumaran at 5 k was alright but at 10 k meant that Sparcc was closed to me. My savings were wafer thin and I had already spent over 30 k on the water motor and knees in the July – September time period.
I spent that week most miserable debating in my mind whether I should ask Sukumaran for the advance back. Always a dicey thing considering how much of a support he had been last year.
But when I met him on Monday, 4th September, I was convinced that he is the one who can set my knees right. The treatment consists of massaging my underfoot with an electric massager and it tickles the hell out of me. This part is usually done by Ibrahim while Sukumaran would mix a herb after it has been grinded to a paste and wrap a bandage once it had been smeared in the knees. I came back much chastened and congratulatory that I did not erupt.
There is something about Ibrahim that sets off a human mind to explode. They cancel the appointment and he’ll put the blame on me!!! “Sathya, you should have called before starting out.”  
But one of the gains of MINDFULNESS is that I am able to recover after an emotional hurt and I am also able to hold my anger than burst out. But seeing Sukumaran’s cool demeanour the next day, I warmed up immediately.  Later even S agreed, “Ibrahim is  a pain and every patient complains about him.”
I said, “Be careful Sukumaran Sir. One fellow like that and that's more than enough to drag your name to dust.”
The following three weeks were regular- Monday, Wednesday and Friday- I would take a bus from Besant Nagar and visit his clinic near Anna Arch. It is a squalid neighbourhood in one of the busiest junction points of the city.       
I would leave home at 3:00 pm, reach the place at 4:15 and spend half an hour on the polymer bed there for a massage and a herbal paste wrapped over tightly on a cloth, back to the bus stop at 5:00 and back home by 6:30. I HAD to rush to catch a bus before 5:30 for once the evening peak hour office crowd starts then the journey is not 90 minutes but over two hours and choc-o-block. In India who is not used to being crammed worse than sardines packed for export?
We got friendlier too in these sessions. Sukumaran is very quiet person and uses his words carefully. He is one of those chaps who speaks each word as though they are charged on a word basis over a telegraph line. He is friendly but a bit intimidating too like one of those military men. But we get along. Those days I was super heavy on documentaries and I would bombard him with tales of Alexander the Great or on China. He is all praise for me, “ Sathya Sir, you come from Besant Nagar so punctually that it is a treat to have you as a patient. Very rarely have I seen a patient who complies with every instruction and is always ahead of me for the consultation.”
Besides "herbal bandages" I was taking those herbal tablets thrice a day – four in number each time – and my knees were growing strong. I started to visit the Beach on alternate days and even friends at Eliot’s assured me that my strides were getting a lot straight and firm.
Three weeks and 9 sessions went without a scratch. I would have a coffee or a samosa bite on the way. I was pleased with the way my knees were coming around until 22nd September. I reported to the clinic and it was locked. I called Sukumaran and he instantly apologised, “I completely forgot about you. I am taking my kids for Dusherra holidays and going out of town. Can you please come tomorrow?”
I was too upset to respond, instead said, “I am too tired now. Let’s meet on Monday.”  Twice in the course of this month I was bitter and mentally railing against Sukumaran for cancelling the appointment abruptly. 
The next two weeks Sukumaran never came on the line despite half a dozen calls. I even thought: it’s is okay even if the treatment has reached a dead end. I have definitely profited. Sukumaran even prescribed allopathy medicines for a patch of white skin on the face and a potion for my swollen finger.  Both the face and the finger showed dramatic improvement. So in every which way, this was a satisfactory transaction though I would have wished for a better end.
Sukumaran called yesterday, 4th October, at 6:00 in the morning, “Sathya Sir, can you come today at 10:00 to the clinic?”
I went.
There are some people you can never take offense to.  He treated me and I did not mention this two weeks unexplained break. Sukumaran also advised me on my tooth problem too, “it may need a cap. I will put you on to my contact at Savita Dental College and they will do a free treatment.” S’s personality is such that the moment he smiles at you, you forget these inconveniences of missed appointments and missed calls and ready to make peace.   
I came home yesterday and this thought never left me. Sukumaran is 1976 born which makes him seven years younger to me. I wish I can develop such a personality – he is too composed and tranquil and he deals with the world on his terms. Once he said, “This clinic is just to pander to my hobby and help people. I don’t make anything at all.” He has a day job as a pharmacist and he says, “I earn a salary of 55 k and I don’t want to operate this clinic full time though I am sure I can earn much more.”
I advised, “We live in times where a stable source of income should not be put in jeopardy. Two hours in the evening should be fine to pander to a hobby.”
To anyone reading this blog, I can attest: Sukumaran can treat any ailment in the body. I have seen him do wonders. What medical science cannot do, he cures them with consummate ease. I have seen him handle women’s issues and stubborn knees and even set right a damaged neck. He is a natural healer with three generations skills in his blood.
On a rare moment Sukumaran became human and cribbed, “I cured a patient who spent 12 lacs in Apollo Hospital on a damaged liver. I treated him and now he is up and running. My whole treatment cost 38 k and even then some people find it hard cough up.”
I tell him, “Sukumaran Sir, you are still young. If I was any good as a marketing man, I would have built a chain of hospitals for you. But still, I am sure someday someone will.  You are a genius healer.”
As for me, my knees are almost back to 70% operational efficiency. S tells me, “Take those medicines for 3 months. We only have couple of bandage sessions more and in the meanwhile do some thigh strengthening exercises. I am sure you will be back to your jogs before the year ends.”
All I can say is INSHALLAH. I have no doubt in my mind that my life is blessed considering the quality of people who engage and befriend me. From mercenary Dr. Velayutham in May or human Dr. Ramnarayan in June and a genius in Sukumaran in August, God's grace does seem to have a linear pattern.