Humbled

My friend sent me a very insightful article a few days back. The writer had nicely captured the essence of difference between routine and ritual.  When we were chatting about it, my friend remarked, “I wish I could write like that. I can’t write because I can’t think so well’. She is an extremely talented person. She paints, she creates beautiful artifacts, and she does visual design as her profession.  I would happily trade my meager writing skills for her kind of skills. I tried telling her that she thinks through her paintings and her creations. But she wasn’t convinced.

So I thought, why does she say that?

A scene unfolded in front me. Pandit Kumar Gandharva was singing.  He wasn’t singing, the gods were singing through him. The audience was in raptures. It was many many years back, but I still recall what happened to me vividly. A feeling of complete abandon came over me. It was as if I was there and i wasn’t there. Nothing mattered. I felt so small that I existed only to feel it,

When read Henry Miller’s Rosy Crucifixion, and his Tropic of Cancer I felt the same way.

When you watch a sublime straight drive by Sachin, with seemingly no effort, you feel the same.

I had a thought. What you experience when you read a well written passage,  listen a beautiful melody, or see a nice painting you experiences  years of hard work, practice struggle, efforts to overcome setbacks  in one final grand culmination. Everything has come together. Everything is perfect. It is God like. Mo matter who we are, we as individuals are frail and imperfect. Therefore we feel small. We feel humbled.

It is an exquisite feeling.

Not Kicking up dust… Swachh Bharat Day

wpid-img_20141001_174121251.jpgI hate dust. But I hate kicked up dust more. This was coming in way of my practice of ‘cleanliness is god’ principle. The vacuum cleaner which I purchased decades back is gathering dust due its tedious ways. So cleaning means you tie a hankie around your nose, hold the breath and dust (up).

If you are a mad runner like me who runs on roads, you know how to negotiate obstacles -broken tiles (if their are footpaths), owned and unowned dogs, dog poops( always by owned dogs), electric, telephone, and TV cables, broken bottles, and the sweepers. Dogs and the sweepers mean you need to try the other side of the road.

I always sincerely thank all those who sweep our roads every time I see them, but I also need to make sure that I don’t inhale dust that sweeping kicks up and start sneezing. Most of us are allergic to dust with effects ranging from sneezing (my case) to choking to sever reaction.

My discussions with my friend on the subject of dust held a promise of some simple solution to cleaning -a microfiber duster. I bought one from a shopping site and put it to use immediately swiping anything I took fancy to. I didn’t wait for 2nd October.

For first two days had my hankie tied around my nose, not trusting the technology yet. But seeing that some dust does stick to the green duster, I got a little braver today, on a Vijaya Dashami Day. I didn’t tie the hankie while microdusting away. That was some minutes before I sat down to do this post. I sneezed and I have a slight sensation in my throat which tells me that the technology needs improvement. Also I can see that it does not entirely clean the surfaces. It does get rid of say 90% of dust. So there is nothing better than the damp cloth, yet.

The filth and trash that we see in our public spaces are certainly not due to lack of efforts. Their are two kinds of efforts here -those by people throwing things here and there all the time and those who clean things up. You know who wins. So far.

Enter PM Mod with his Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. He has won many a battles. I am sure, he with our support, will win this war for cleanliness. As a part of this I hope there comes easy technology in the form of dusters, swipes, and mops which doesn’t kick up dust.

#SwachhBharat

Reflecting on Teachers’ Day

It is customary to remember teachers’ contribution in one’s life on the Teachers’ Day. I did remember my teachers on the  Guru Poornima day,  but today I record my thoughts.

The earliest teacher in my memory is my teacher who taught us in 1st and 2nd standard. After my exam was over she visited our home to have a talk with my mother. This was common in those days. She had a question to my mother, “Why did he write just three lines in an essay on Ram (of Ramayana). He is capable of writing much more” Since my mother had no clue, I was hauled out of my hiding and was confronted. ” Write between 10 to 12 lines was in the paper. There are just 3 lines between 10 and 12 : 10, 11, 12″ I explained while counting solemnly on my fingers! My stunned teacher actually patted me on back and went away smiling. She gave me good marks. (was allowed those days).

I don’t recall my mother and my father really teaching me anything in particular, though my mother would shout for me to come home for studies from my play and she would make me study.  She gave up after I think I reached my 8th standard. But her passion for education remains etched in my mind.  I think of my mother’s and my father’s life -their hard work, honesty, persistence, striving for excellence in even mundane tasks, their gratitude for whatever they had, and their willingness to help others – were my silent, undemanding teachers. The best ones I ever got.

There were also some school teachers who inspired me to read more and think and discuss. Unknown to me they planted seeds of love for languages in me -first Marathi, later English, and then, yes Sanskrit too! I learned Sanskrit well enough to be able  translate into it from Marathi! Sadly, no one was there to bring to me the sweetness and courtesy of Hindi those days. Blame it on the silly text books and also on our Hindi teacher who was more like some politicians of these days -arrogant and uncouth. It took the beautiful music and sensitive lyrics of Hindi film songs penned by Sahir, Majrooh, and Neerja and many others  and later the oratory of Atal Bihari Vajpayee to learn something nice about this language. But I never took to reading it.

Somewhere before all this, reading -reading anything – had got me hooked. I don’t know who inspired me to read or how it all happened, but on this Teachers’ Day I think with gratitude of this unknown person(s) and all those books which I have been reading. Some of these books changed my life.

This love for language and expression stood me in good stead in my academic and professional career of science and engineering, balancing out dry and harsh logic with feelings and understanding and sensitivity. More importantly, it taught me how to reflect.

There wasn’t much of science in our secondary school though had the subject every year. Well into the IIT, we had this text book for Physics written by Resnik and Halliday. This book was my true teacher. It taught me not just the subject but it also taught me how to think scientifically. ( I think I should have included this book in the list of books which changed my life).

I can not thank enough and pay enough respect to my Brahmavidya teachers( a system of spiritual breathing exercises and meditation based on Yoga). I will not say anything more on this truly profound subject.

My drums teacher has more faith (and patience) in me than I have it in myself! To call him just a drums teacher is unfair because he a great guitarist and a complete musician. It is difficult say which is his greater passion: playing music or teaching it!

Then there are many many others from whom I have learned – like the one who taught me swimming without actually teaching me much (he wasn’t  even my teacher) and like some who helped me with my running. There are many people whom I met professionally and who have left some nice things with me like how to care for people and how to build confidence in others.

But there were also some teachers who really didn’t seem to enjoy teaching. Most them me left me alone to learn, which helped me greatly. Sooner or later one has to learn to learn.

I salute all my teachers.