Sunday, April 24, 2016

Musings from my Facebook page

Meditation is like cycling

I have not been meditating for nearly a year, not since I allowed myself to be sucked into the pretentious world of social media. It was one of the reasons why I stopped. Talk about priorities, or lack of it. Sunday morning I sat down to meditate on an impulse and it worked like a tweet. There I go again! I didn't want to stop and that's a good sign. There was just one problem—as I sat with my eyes closed, my mind was filled with all sorts of ideas for a status update, a tweet or two, a blog post. It didn't bother me. You are supposed to let the thoughts, whatever they be, come and go. Be a silent witness to your thoughts, say the mystics. Meditation is like cycling. Once you learn to ride a bicycle, you'll never forget your balance. Whether your meditation helps you to balance your life is a different matter.

Show me the way

Weekends should have extended hours so that we spend less time at work on Mondays, and on all other days. I spent an hour or two watching all kinds of videos on YouTube—from President Obama and Jim Carrey on David Letterman (Obama is witty) to tsunamis in Japan, from acceptance speeches to zebras butt-kicking lions in the face, and from poltergeists spooking hotel guests to Peter Frampton belting out Show Me the Way. The highlight was Rowan Atkinson's nineties live show, particularly one where he is a priest and compares Jesus to a magician and another where he plays the devil and welcomes people, including lawyers and fornicators, to hell. All quite hilarious. Bean wasted Atkinson. And I wasted my time.

No paper for purists

My morning paper is a flap, a semi false cover. I have to flip the flap to read what's beneath. Usually it's another ad. When you finally get to the front page you're thrown by some of the headlines, like the one which read, "Engg courses galore, but no data on how many engineers of what kind."

"Of what kind"? That’s not a headline, that’s colloquial. The copy desk is just a desk, I think. And "galore"? How I hate that word, spoken or written. Clearly, Thesaurus is a forgotten word-hero.

Fast-food for the pigeons 

© Prashant C. Trikannad


Kabutarkhana on Hanuman Road, Vile Parle East, Mumbai: fast food for the pigeons. "Three multi-grain burgers. No extra cheese. Flyaway!"

OCD in the 7.45 local

A commuter getting some well-needed shuteye suddenly gets up from his seat, moves his bag from one end of the rack to the other, steps into the aisle, and stares at it for half a minute. He then goes and stands near the door from where he keeps an eye on the bag. He's going to need a collar very soon. I feel like tapping him on the shoulder, "I think your bag just moved!" Who am I kidding? We are all neurotics in some form or other. It's what keeps us sane and mentally agile.

Thank god for the school bell 

© Bill Watterson
If ever anything sounded like music to my ears in school, it was the final bell. Whoever rang the bell for ten years has my gratitude.

‘You don’t like my sister?’
© Hodder Dargaud

This used to be such an Indian thing. In fact, it still is in some communities. Bollywood thrived on the protective brother. Here, an eyeballing Corsican is letting a Roman soldier have it in Asterix in Corsica even though the poor optio wasn't even looking at his sister. The expressions on the faces of Uderzo's characters in Asterix are brilliant; as was the late Goscinny's script and dialogue, translated superbly by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge, who incidentally also translated all of Georges "Hergé" Remi's Tintin. Feeling low? Read the comics and snap out of it.

Dilemma of rewarding honesty

One evening, as I got off my Batrickshaw (as I like to call the black-and-yellow autorickshaws), I gave the driver a hundred rupee note instead of fifty rupees and walked off. He promptly called me back and returned the note. I gave him the correct fare, thanked him, and walked away, I saw a don't-I-get-a-reward-for-my-honesty look on his face. Frankly, I didn't know what to do. If I gave him a little "baksheesh," wouldn't it be tantamount to bribing him for honest behaviour? Besides, how much would be good enough? He probably wouldn't have cared as long as he made a few extra bucks. I know he deserved it but I didn't think it was right. The thing is, honesty is more than being honourable, just as Gandhi's ahimsa was more than being non-violent. Both go far and beyond mere acts of good conduct, however noble and righteous they may seem at the time. Talk of moral dilemma.

A little perspective

I read my first book at age eleven. I was doing nothing up until then. And I wonder why he has such deep pockets and I have gaping holes in mine.

Noises in the 6.38

"Next station Marine Lines. It is dangerous to travel on the footboard or lean out of a running train. Next station Churchgate. It is dangerous to travel on the footboard..." Imagine hearing that repeatedly in three different languages, all the way to your destination and back every single day, Monday through Friday. I'm almost tempted to play it in my car! And then you've the ridiculously silly jingles that are, quite frankly, embarrassing. All this cacophony, courtesy Western Railway, has screwed up my reading. I have been flipping back and forth pages 180-181 since morning. I mean you can't possibly read about murder by arson to jarring noises about condiments.

Relative matters

Our parents' generation: Cousins! We were 45 of us, brothers and sisters, and we lived happily together in one big house. "Hey, my mom's calling." "No, that's mine!"

Our generation: Cousins! Yay! Five on one side, six on the other. We used to have so much fun, didn't we? We didn't need friends.

Our children's generation: Cou...cous...cousins! Mom, do I have any? We do! Where? How many? Oh!

Their generation: Cousins—the children of an uncle or aunt. Now almost extinct.

Body count
© Prashant C. Trikannad

The local train comes to an abrupt halt outside Santa Cruz and the motorman bears down on the horn, once, twice, thrice. Looks like someone pulled the chain. Minutes later you see a railway constable, four porters and a stretcher ambling past the window. Someone has come under. Minutes later they walk past again, a figure in green lying prone on the stained stretcher, the policeman scribbling in a long book. A few curious faces crane their necks for the morning's breaking news. The rest are oblivious. Some instinctively look at the time, ticking off seconds and minutes of their own existence.

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Just saying

Writing is like a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs. You never know where you are going next. Sometimes you close your eyes and miss the thrill of the ride. It's like missing the plot in writing. Open your eyes and enjoy the ride — enjoy writing your story.