Monday, July 23, 2018

Hotel Transylvania 3 - Movie

In the run up to see Transylvania 3, we had to watch T1 and T2 before which we duly did the week before and I was familiarised with a Jeeves like Dracula, his daughter Mavis, his pals Frankenstein, Mummy, an invisible man, a werewolf and a blog of glob. In the earlier movies Mavis, who is a monster like Drac and pals, falls in love with a human (whom they are supposed to hate).

The human, Johnny, a DJ type of fellow with no aim in life, marry and produce Dennis, a half human half monster. In this 3 rd edition, Mavis decides that Drac needs a vacation and the entire bunch of monsters go to the Bermuda Triangle on a cruise vacation. Unknown to them they are being set up by the Van Helsings ( a family who has vowed to exterminate monsters) and Drac and Johnny save them by playing some good music. Macarena is the winning song!

In the end, evil wins over good - or what we think is evil, wins over what we think is good.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Column in The Sunday Hans - The Backbenchers Are Taking Over

It's happening everywhere - the backbenchers are taking over!

Enjoy reading.

http://epaper.thehansindia.com/1745799/SUNDAY-HANS



/SUNDAY-HANS#page/13/1

Friday, July 20, 2018

A Gang of Fast Bowlers

A rare meeting. Suresh threw a party for his MBA mates and invited a couple of cricketers - Ehtesham and me and Rajesh Yadav. Now what we did not know was that Gavin Soorma, who was Suresh's classmate at the Osmania University College of Commerce and Business Management back in 1988, was also in town. It was a nice reunion of fast bowlers - Rajesh, Gavin and me. Of course Suresh and Ehtu were premier batsman of that time.
Rajesh, Gavin and me
(The garland was some quirky welcome by Suresh and I decided to sport it all evening)
Rajesh and I played much junior cricket together - from the Under 19 to 22, 25, Buchi Babu, Ranji. Gavin was slightly junior to us and probably came in as I was fading away. Rajesh went on to play over 70 Ranji games. I played 7 and Gavin said he played 1.

I remember Rajesh plucking out Randolf Carroll's middle stump with a pacy inswinger and it went flying towards the wicket keeper and one furious bouncer he bowled to Namdev Phadte of Goa, an accomplished batsman who could not handle the heat. He was easily the best of the lot. Gavin had a slithering run up and generated tremendous pace and nip off the wicket. The season he got picked he got many wickets. Though he did not bowl bouncers, he was a handful, with a pacy outswinger. His long sleeves flapping about his wrists, Gav was a smiling assassin and I remember his six wicket haul against Kerala in an Under 22 game at Bangalore.

We met Gavin after 30 years. He looked exactly the same. After cricket, he went into flying and was a commercial pilot with Kingfisher airlines. He was involved in one belly landing and after that he stopped flying and went into IT. He is now in Australia and is pals with Arjun Raja, who played Under 15 with us at the zone level and Universities at the zone level too. Rajesh  dabbles as a match referee with the BCCI and as a bowling coach.

Looks like we cricketers are all stuck forever.

Thought for the Day - Energy and A Sense of Well Being

A sense of well being is a decision. It's not the money, the success, the beauty - but the feeling that you have it all anyway (even if you don't) that gives one a sense of well being. This sense of well being is certainly related to simply feeling that all is well. One just has to believe, or as my friend, AP once told me, 'hallucinate' that it is, and it is.

I can. It will. I know.

Once you feel that way, the little decisions get taken (or not taken - but mostly taken). No more dilly-dallying over things and feeling bad about this or that. I am doing this. I am not doing this. A decision taken is energy saved. Nay, energy multiplied. If you want to experience it take a decision - something that pushes you over the comfort zone and see how it kicks in that energy, that sense of well being.

Now this sense of well being, this feeling allows one to take risks, to take life less seriously, to smile, laugh or cry more easily - or just to live more fully. It is attached to a high energy that naturally seems to follow that state of well being, of high or good energy.

From whichever angle you approach it, this state of mind also seems to be a decision - in the mind.  It is the cause, and not the effect.

Like anything else, it could be practiced perhaps.

Scare in the Park!

One of those sights that one does not want to see or expect to see in a bustling park filled with morning walkers and joggers is what we saw yesterday. A group of four friends carrying the unconscious body of a friend of theirs who suddenly fainted. It took us all a while to register what happened. A huge group collected around and after some hither and tither an auto rickshaw came and they bundled him away. There are hospitals less than ten minutes away and all will be fine mostly but it was a sight that scared everyone. More so because most people come to this park to prolong their lives more than anything else - it's an elderly bunch.

In the next five minutes the park emptied out almost - the ones on the other side did not even know what happened and continued normally. But those who were there slowly went back to their families earlier than they had planned, the thought of their own mortality suddenly near. The few who stayed were no more vigorous in their exercise. It was almost as if he just took all of life along with him while fainting.

I heard snatches of conversation. Two old men talking of how they never saw him before. One telling the other that people should meet and greet each other and then we will know who they are (and where they live!). One other, a friend of that person, was hurrying to the other end. He had heard about the incident rather late. And the scared look of a slightly overweight young man asking a know-it-all - 'Is it because of high blood pressure?'

But what I cannot forget is the stricken voice of his friend who was carrying him, fear and worry writ large on his face and pleading with him to wake up. Or to not die.

'Arrey Joseph.'

Orientation Lecture at the Department of Dance, SN College, University of Hyderabad

I enjoy orientation lectures because they allow me to put all that I teach in a nutshell and hopefully provide some clarity to the students to better use their time and energy. Thankfully the Department of Dance has also been kind enough to offer me time to speak to the students on the first day of their course for the past two years. Dr. Sivaraju invited me to speak to the 17 first year students of the 2 year Masters of Performing Arts Course along with the senior students.

Goals - Why are you here?
The first part was about goals, aspirations and dreams. If their goals are not clear or big enough, it will compromise their action. So apart from 'doing the course' and 'learning' and 'doing well', we decided to start with a 20-year goal. A big goal and a big timeline that knocks out all excuses. Some specifics were involved as in giving the picture some detail (eg. the best-known expert in dance or a performer of the standing of a well-known performer like Smt. Shobha Naidu etc). The idea of specifics, time frames, role models to help fill in the picture was conveyed. they all were told to write their 20-year goals. Then they could work backward and establish a 10-year goal, a 5-year goal and a 2-year goal. The key to this activity was that our action or preparation gets kickstarted depending on the goal we set ourselves.

What Stops Us From Getting There
Second, we looked at the gap between us and our goals and dreams and what normally blocks us from reaching there. We discussed fears and apprehensions, doubts and misgivings that maybe it may not happen after all the effort we put in.

Two Paths to Handle Doubts and Fears
As always when doubt comes up against our dreams, we choose in favour of one or another. Path 1 is for those who choose doubt over the goal. This is the path of blame and excuse which pretty much ends the story before it starts. Path 2 is to look at the goal, then look at where one stands, look at reality, look at resources in hand and plunge in and work at achieving it. Your resources being time and energy at hand and a dream to achieve.

Everyone Is at the Starting Blocks
Here,  I stopped the story to say that everyone who joined the class is equal as on date. No one is greater or lesser, despite their past accomplishments. What they will do now in these two years and in the coming twenty years will decide what will actually happen.

The Growth or Learning Mindset - The Mindset that Can Change Your Life
Now, since we are up at the starting line, I gave them the tool - the mindset to adopt - to make their dream come true. Quoting from the book 'Mindset' I told them about the Fixed and Growth/Learning Mindsets and how these mindsets can make or break a career. Your success is not limited by your intelligence, talent or luck. In fact, all three grow as we use them more. To illustrate the mindsets and how they can mess with a person of reasonable achievement, I gave them the example of my story. How I did well at first-class cricket, stopped working and hoped things will happen on their own, did not realise that I needed to put in more effort and lost my performance. I slunk into the fixed mindset and did not ask for help nor did I put in effort and slowly faded away.

Fixed Mindset
In the fixed mindset a person desires to look smart, avoids tough challenges, gives up easily, gets defensive when asked about performance, sees effort as fruitless, ignores useful negative advise and feels threatened by others success. This person paints himself into a corner on the simple premise that smart people should not work hard (they should work smart). He does not believe in effort or saying I don't know and can someone help. Many a career has gone down the drain with this mindset including mine.

Growth Mindset
In the growth or learning mindset, the person desires to learn and grow and does not want to prove that he is smart or talented or anything. Consequently, he embraces challenges, persists in the face of setbacks and does not give up, seeks help to find ways to improve, sees effort as the path to mastery, learns from criticism, finds lessons and inspiration from others success.

Clearly the fixed mindset person, despite maybe better talent at the starting point, will plateau early and achieves less than full potential. The learning mindset person will reach even higher levels of achievement, and as a result as gets close to potential.

How to change from Fixed to Growth Mindset
To change from fixed to growth mindset the keys are 1) ask for help 2) do small things that change things 3) work on beliefs and mindsets 4) get process orientation 5) get over the-world-owes-me and denial syndrome, and I-am-perfect syndrome.

How to become an expert - 10000-hour rule
We briefly looked at the concept of how to become an expert and the 10000-hour rule. The importance of good teachers and mentors, how perfect practice makes perfect, of routines and performance indicators, were discussed.

700 hours at the University
We split up their time at the University into 600 working days and looked at a person who puts in 10 hours a day versus someone who puts in 5 hours a day. The gap between 7000 hours and 3500 hours is just too huge.

We ended on the note of looking fro mentors, seeking advise and help from the available facutty, getting to know the process, fixing routines fro their dance, practice and performances. All of this with an underlying learnng mindset, with loads of energy and enthusiasm and they cannot go wrong.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Development Ahoy!

Our colony is a small two lane thing. The roads are decent. There are good, sturdy footpaths. There is a small park protected by a little wall.
Shortened wall and iron bars
People can and do jump over the park wall and night to enjoy the act of breaking rules, commune with other nocturnal animals and consume some beverages of alcoholic nature. Nothing serious so far and all is well.
Mud on the walking track - as people walk it gets compacted and distributed 
A few weeks ago, our colony committee went into a development drive. The footpaths were pulled out, all the tiles lying like extracted teeth by the side of the road, the wall was knocked off to shorten its height and long iron bars erected on top and much activity. I was fine with the iron bars - keeps out wall jumping activity and also allows for better view of the park (though I am not a huge fan of seeing bars in open spaces). However I found the footpath work rather curious. Having extracted all the tiles, they proceeded to lay them back again and cemented it, replacing the broken ones in the process. I mean stuff that they broke while removing them that is. What were they thinking? Anyway, tiles were taken out, and put back in place involving several workers and perhaps a few lakhs of rupees work.
The footpath outside my home - same tiles out and back in, except two or three that they broke 

At the same time, I found that the nearby park had also gone into overdrive in terms of development. The tiles along the footpaths were extracted there as  well, fresh mud was strewn about on the walking track which was doing quite well thank you, the boundary walls height increased, the little lake dredged and cleared and for best effect, the lake bund half painted.
A nicer view of our new bars - we can look in from the outside, the park looks out from the inside
Can't argue with development but seriously, half these activities are purposeless and merely causing inconvenience or spoiling what is already there.
The park walkway stripped of some innocent tiles that had done no wrong
None of the people I spoke to had any clue about it and nodded sympathetically. Anyway, the monsoon budget has been spent in things productive and non-productive and we moved on. Some pictures to remind me of development in a developing country. Or are we fully developed already? 

Anjali - You Can Find It Inside You

The talk was about some talents of ours - in complete jest of course. Somewhere singing came up and Shobha joked and said 'Anjali, that's one talent I do not have.'

Of course, fact remains that even we do not have the singing talent either but we are completely shameless about it and sing at the top of our voice.

Anjali was as usual sympathetic.

'You also have all these talents amma,' she consoled. 'You just have to find them inside you.'

The moment passed but I was wondering at the profundity of it all. Many times one gets the feeling that some vitalcog is missing in oneself. I get this feeling quite often. And then we realise that it's not something missing, but rather a matter of finding it inside ourselves.

Like they say, all that's without, is within. One must look inside and find it, give it love and there it is. Thanks Anjali.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Gambit - Movie

Absolutely delightful. What started out as a well-planned heist by Michael Caine to steal a valuable sculpture soon goes haywire thanks to certain things not going the way he planned out his operation. But luckily for him, he has Shirley Maclaine, a showgirl whom he has roped in to play a crucial part in the heist. She infuriates him with her questions and her ways of going off tangent but he gradually realises that she is dishing him out of trouble each time.

Lovely little movie.


Everest - Movie

Based on Jeff Weather's book 'Left for Dead: My Journey Home from the Everest" the movie takes us on a disastrous and terrifying journey to climb the Everest in 1996 in which 8 members of the expedition were caught in a blizzard and died. That year had as many as 15 casualties on the Everest and raised questions about the commercialization of scaling Mount Everest which caused and steep increase in traffic and endangered lives. Jeff, along with the other members of the group belonged to the Adventure Consultants expedition. The chief guide for Adventure Consultants, Rob Hall, died along with Scott Fischer, an experienced guide of Mountain Madness, another expedition. A good sense of how it is to scale the Everest!


Friday, July 13, 2018

The Great Railway Bazaar - Paul Theroux

Described as Paul Theroux's greatest work 'The Great Railway Bazaar' is grand in its conception and execution. Paul Theroux travels from London to Istanbul to Iran to India to Burma to Thailand to Japan and heads home via Russia covering as much distance as he can in trains. I do not remember if he mentioned the number of days - but even if he did not, the journey is quite interesting as he meets several interesting characters who show a glimpse of the lands they come from. I had no problem till he reached India and then I suddenly realised how judgmental he was about Indians. The characters, every single one of them is a one-sided interpretation, mere caricatures and not full-blown people, cut and pasted to suit his copy. And then I wondered, if he could do this with India, there is no reason why he should not paint the entire book with his prejudices and judgments. Maybe he did or maybe he did not, but what started out well, certainly dragged on in the end and I was as glad as he must have been when he got off the train. I was even gladder when he got out of India after all his constant cribbing.

But to start at the very beginning, he boards the 1530 from London to Paris to catch the famed Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul. The train traverses through France, Italy, and some other countries and reaches Turkey. On the train he meets one Dufill who gets left behind on one Italian station (dufilled) and Molesworth, and seems quite happy in their company. In Istanbul, he takes a few days off, meets a few authors, perhaps even gives a lecture or two, which is what he does throughout the journey. From Istanbul, he boards the Lake Van Express to Lake Van which deposits him on the border of Iran. He meets a bunch of hippies who have vague ideas of traveling to Nepal or India and one who has definite plans of going to Auroville and staying there. The hippies are an interesting lot, high on stuff and life, making out under the sheets.

In the Teheran Express, he meets a conductor whom he has to bribe to get his due (Oh my god!) and Sadik a rich businessman who does not want to go to Mecca because he has to make promises he does not want to make. Sadik keeps him company and Paul Theroux has no problem with him. In Teheran he meets American oil men and women in a club. He then takes the Night Mail to Meshed a holy city 100 kms from the border of Afghanistan. From Medshed there is no train so he takes the bus, spends a night on the border with a couple of hippies because the customs office is closed, travels through Afghanistan on bus and plane because it has no railway, and reaches Kabul. In Kabul he tries to free a Canadian who is trapped in an insane asylum - and fails. Also in Kabul, he is disgusted by the sight of some Pathans who kill and dismember a camel that collapses. Poor animal - he says. All the animals Paul Theroux must be eating, are probably not 'poor animals' so I don't understand why this sudden disgust at the Pathans. He is already showing shades of himself.

He takes a bus to the top of the Khyber Pass, at Landi Kotal, from where he has a train to Peshawar, the 132 Down. The train travels through the Khyber Railway with thirty for tunnels and ninety-two bridges climbs to 3600 feet and is well guarded. On the way, he passes a town called Jamrud - must be the place after which the theatre in Abids must have been named. In Peshawar, he wonders how the Buddha was conceived - and mocks a bit at some pictures he sees about immaculate conception. I thought that was a Biblical idea so I wonder what his problem was. Onward to the Khyber Mail to Lahore where meets an Indian who to Theroux's great delight is shown his place by the conductor and evicted from first class - he had a second-class ticket and he spoke up for himself. You can clearly make out Paul is quite happy that the man is evicted. In Lahore, he seeks the Punjab Club for some entertainment, finds pimps who solicit some business and he is perhaps upset at how these guys sell their women here. Anyway, I don't think he got any action or even if he did, he did not mention it anywhere in the book.

From Lahore, he takes two taxi rides and crosses over to Amritsar.  He notices signs of separation on the signboards and likens it to a caste system.  On the train, he meets a drug addict Hermann. and quickly makes up his mind about Indian society based on the signs he has read - (Third Class Exit, Second Class Ladies Waiting Room. First Class Toilet, Sweepers Only). He is shocked at people bathing on platforms. Mostly he meets Indians who are caricatures out of a Hollywood movie - they are not the Indians we know. I sensed the same prejudice and judgmental tone in Naipaul's writing in his monumental bore 'An Area of Darkness' - and got bored to death. Paul Theroux finds it very difficult to get a ticket and everyone tries to help him but their efforts are not to his lordship's liking - wonder why he did not go and stand in a line and get his ticket instead of judging everyone's effort. Once again he makes fun of some Indian English and their pretenses at culture but all the while taking in stuff that the Indians give him. He meets a  yogi, wants him to bring someone to life, mocks at the whole system of course being the scientific man he is and who knows everything and then moves on with a bad taste in his mouth. I knew right then he was not going to have a good time in India.

On the Rajdhani Express from Delhi to Mumbai, he is appalled at finding people on yatra to Madhura living on the railway stations instead of the towns. He next makes fun of a fat boy from Dehradun who tries to explain to him how the chain system works - wonder why anyone wasted their time on this chap. In all likelihood, he would have asked him questions. On the lecture tour in Mumbai he meets Mr. Deshmukh who has written thirty novels and made no money but wants to write 108 because its an auspicious number in the Hindu religion. Dude, that was a joke. He was humoring you.

The Delhi Mail to Jaipur where he makes more fun of Indian English which is not to his liking, and of one Gopal who cannot guide him at the level he wanted. On the Grand Trunk Express to Madras we have to deal with more of his insights into the black and bony Tamils who constantly speak and brush their teeth with neem twigs. There are beggars, train halts, he looks for a beer at the Sirpur station in Adilabad and ventures out to get some. In Madras, he is constantly meeting drivers who offer him girls and even visits a brothel where he meets underaged prostitutes.

Next comes the local to Rameswaram which stops ninety four times enroute and on which he meets an unhelpful Buddhist monk. He takes a steamer and heads out to Ceylon and I hope he stays there but he comes back to India. I am already tired of Paul Theroux and his ideas of India and am hoping he will leave as quickly as he can.

In Lanka, he takes the Talaimannar Mail and quickly Theroux finds that the Lankans are not excitable people because it has something to do with their starvation. Then he comments on the stinking meal of one of his co-passengers. Some more people offering him girls and then we are off. Wonder why he gets offered girls so much! He is surprised that thirty people showed up for a seminar on American Literature while people were dying of starvation. Back in India, he observes people would be eating and reading in trains but here in Ceylon they were just sitting (no food to eat). I wonder what they do in America?  Back to Madras and the Howrah Mail to Calcutta on which he meets an Englishman who has a problem with the way Indians eat their food - their food runs down their arms. Of course, the American also had an Indian girlfriend and was running away from her. He finds Biharis hurling themselves into the river for their Chhat festival and other such horrors in Calcutta. However Theroux is pleased with the Bengalis whom he views as more civilized than the est. Gave some lectures in Calcutta and then was off.

Was I glad he was off India.

Next comes the Mandalay Express from Rangoon to Mandalay. He is beset with his usual problems. He wants to go to Lashio which many say is off limits. On the train he meets a Mr. Bernard who is described as a Jeeves, so he is happy to be in civilization again. He gets escorted to Lashio in the Lashio Mail. From Bangkok, he next moves by the Night Express to Nong Khai. There he meets an American who wants to make 30 k a year and finds girls who are actually men.

On the International Express to Butterworth Theroux meets Mr. Penascola, an intriguing man who reveals little but who seems to be very resourceful. He is also like a Hollywood film star - killing people on war, making loads of money, doing this and that. On the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur Theroux stays put on the wooden balcony between the carriages and who does he meet - but two reptilian like Indians pronouncing Vs like Ws and Ws like Vs. Turns out they are Bangladeshis who have no knowledge of family planning but are attending a family planning conference. Theroux is clearly upset at their lack of command of their subject and his disgust shows. On the North Star Night Express to Singapore who does he meet but another Tamilian and thankfully a couple of planters. The Saigo Bien Hoa Passenger Train is the worst train in the world someone says but he takes it. Vietnam was the place where the Americans left many children and women keep offering the children to him to adopt. Some 'Deer Hunter' types of scenes and we move out of Vietnam.

Then into Japan, and aboard the Hatsukari Limited Express to Aomori. In Japan, he buys stuff for his cold Trans Siberian journey, observes the culture of the Japanese including how they collect dog poop. He goes to see some plays and finds them full of sex and violence. He peeps into the comic a young girl on the train is reading and finds it full of sex and violence. For a brief moment, he longs for Indian Railways, hassled by the Japanese efficiency. On the Ozoro Limited Express to Sapporo, he meets Chester, an American. Here it appears that Theroux lost interest or got fatigued by his journeys and the writing also becomes rather desultory. Or perhaps he did not find Indians and got bored. On the Hikari Super Express to Kyoto, he meets some Professors and they have discussions on prostitutes and stuff like that. He takes the Kodama to Osaka and appears fine with the Japanese and their English. A lecture or two and he takes the long journey on the Trans Siberian Express through Russia back to London. Through Vostok, through Rossia, again meeting a man with a disgusting lunch and manners and finally off. I was glad. He must be glad. It was just too much to bear Theroux on such a long journey.

The idea of the Grand railway journey is a fine one and the execution by Theroux admirable. But his judgments and his opinions make caricatures out of people. I don't know about others but the Indians he described in the book are all one dimensional - the dimension he chose to paint them and that's no justice to anyone. Anyway, I am not too impressed with the supercilious Theroux nor have I been with his pal Naipaul and hopefully this is the last I read of him. However, for the experience of the Great Railway Bazaar, I must thank him. It was an interesting journey.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Nice Cover Version of 'Bhare Naina'

Thanks Chandrakanth Bhave for introducing me to this cover.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bov0mdvAxNs

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Bang On The Door - Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

It's been there for ages - this slim 100-page book. I finally picked it up. Nice stuff. As with all masters, I can do nothing more than quote them. So I will do the same here as well.

"The search for unity, the unifying factor, is the real spiritual journey. Unfortunately, the so-called spiritual journey has divided human beings and torn apart the whole society."

Religion is the banana skin and spirituality is the banana. People have thrown away the banana and are holding on to the skin.

Everything is changing except some centered point in you. Stay with that. It is the same principle that is beneath the entire existence.

There is a definite difference in the quality of perception that brings unification with the object of perception. That is why saints through all time have spoken of uniting with the ultimate, uniting with the source, uniting with the rhythm.

Success in life is attending to this source, inquiry of the course and living in that joy and unconditional love. 

Our feelings have simply become words. They are not coming from the source. The innocent person of long ago simply had to observe creation to feel and experience beauty. The inner chamber could open very easily.  Gratefulness and gratitude could flow very easily. 

Bang on your inner door. See that there is no dearth of love in you, there is no lack of anything whatsoever inside you. Bang on the door with full force. Just knocking will not help.

Think only one thing; everybody is one - one person, one life. More innocence, more good, more love.

Grace is that gratitude that can remain all the time. When there is gratitude, complaints disappear. Ungratefulness is the lower journey. Gratitude is the middle. Grace is the higher journey.

For a question, we seek an answer. For wonder, we don't seek an answer.  Question is related to sorrow. Wonder is related to joy.

The purpose of knowledge is to make you realise how ignorant tyou are. "I don't know!"

Talking about what you know may be creative but definitely less creative than when you talk about something that you don't know.

Gratefulness is essential. When we recognise our helplessness we need to put a distance between ourselves and what is happening - a distance from every action.

As our intelligence grows we become crooked. Maintaining innocence in spite of intelligence is wisdom, is enlightenment. Ego is nothing but being unnatural. Naturalness is being home, feeling cloe to everyone. Distance is ego. 

Blessed are those who are confused. Confusion means your previous knowledge has broken down.

The beautiful "I don't know". That is what is needed today. Innocence. And that is love.

Words are inadequate to express the truth. Language is always found to be limited. Truth cannot be captured by words.

The sweetness in you blossoms when you realise that you are part of the whole, a part of existence.

This body is not my flesh. This bread is my flesh. This flesh is my bread. Know the difference betwen the physical body and the flesh, and this entire world becomes your body. That is cosmic consciousness.

True intimacy is one sided and nonjudgmental. It starts from the inside. The test for truth is to kick it. If it comes back it is true. Coming back to the source is the nature of everything in creation.

True intimacy is nonjudgmental. It is not looking at whether the other person loves you or not, whether the other person treats you well or not. That is none of your business. When you doubt whether the other person loves you or not, then your love goes down.

There is no way you can know the love of another person. Someone may say "I love you" and if you think they mean that and if you think someone who doesn't say "I love you" does not really love you, then you are mistaken.  In true intimacy, you stop looking at the act and you start being in love. So if you are determined to love somebody, do not even think whether they love you or not. You love them. That is enough.

True love s coming back to the self. That is true intimacy. Take it for granted that everybody in creation, everything in creation loves you because everything has come from love and goes back to love and remains in love. In creation everything is intimate, everything feels, expeiences intimacy. Oneness with existence is intimacy.

If you doubt whether you are being loved or not, your capacity to love goes down. You will stop loving. If you feel you have been contributing enough, loving enough, then you are not loving enough, because in love you always feel inadequacy. Any amount you do, you feel that it is inadequate.

When this gets turned around you say - I have loved enough. What did I get in return? I have loved so much. What did I get? I have not been cared for.  In true intimacy, there is dsapassion. Dispassion is that delicate balance beyond pain and sorrow.  The highest wisdom that can ever be achieved on this planet is dispassion. The moment you become dispassionate, there is nothing but love. There is nothing but intimacy. There are no two.

All work happens through intention. Desire is that intention becoming a feverish thought inside of you.

If something is there, it is there. If something is not there, it is not there. So what? In your trying to give something up, you are holding on to it even more. Nothing is yours and everything is yours.

Your needs will be met. Relax. When you have relaxed so completely, not possessing anything in the head or wanting to possess anything in the head, you will see the substace comes before the need for it arises.

When the need is there, what is needed will come.

Longing comes out of gratefulness and love.

Grace and knowledge can cut the bonding of karma. To cut the root of suffering. 

First, the physical body is purified through hatha yoga. Then silence purifies speech. Meditation purifies the mind. If you are aware and are centered, you can burn the karma.

Be totally helpless.

If you know you are a human being, and if you are just Being, you are already enlightened.

You cannot love with your effort. You have no control over love. It is the other way around. Love controls you. When there's love you are pulled. You are drawn towards it. Love governs your life. You can't govern love.

You are very small. Love happens to you. It is beyond your manipulation. All you can do is drop your stresses and all that is blocking the flow of love and being natural. If you are natural you are allowing love to flow through you. Anything unnatural blocks love. Distress blocks love. Eliminate the root cause of tension and it flows through you. 

If you can see divinity in everyone, then all your relationships are relationships with god. 

Love is what you are made of. The consciousness in you is love. When you become love you dissolve. You go beyond. 

Simple and powerful stuff. To find the Source and tune into it. To be one with everyone and everything. To know that I will get what I need. To know that to love is but to be natural and release all stresses. To just flow.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Fazal Abbas - An Old Team Mate Moves On

Fazal was a soft-spoken, well mannered and reserved boy who had a ready smile and an unassuming manner. He was a good batsman who favored the square cut mainly as I remember, and a brilliant fielder. I first met him when we were both selected to play for the Hyderabad Under 15 side in 1982. He must have come on the back of some strong performances because he was an automatic choice to bat at Number 4. We went to Bangalore and he immediately registered his presence with a swashbuckling 160 against Andhra, and along with Vidyuth, helped our team score some 400 plus runs. We won the tournament beating Karnataka in the final. Masood was our captain then and D. Srinivas, Srinivas Chakravarthy, Chetan Joshi made up the seven who went to Calcutta to play for South Zone. A long train journey, days away from home in cold weather and a sudden cyclone drew us all close together, literally. Then we went our ways until the BCCI organized a South Zone camp at Bangalore where we all spent a whole month under the coaching of Mr. Baig and honed ourselves physically, mentally and skill wise. We stayed at the KSCA, walked to Cubbon Park every other day, walked along Brigade Road every evening. It was a whole month of fun and learning. Others in the squad were Harish Holla, Boris Mascarenhas, Srinivas Maruvada, Vijay Kumar, Appadurai, Pavan. Hariharan, Haldankar. Boris is in touch on Facebook, now a famous oncologist in the US.
Fazal Abbas 
When we returned to Hyderabad I realized I did not have any team to play because the college I joined for my Intermediate course, St Alphonso's Junior College had no team. When Vidyuth asked me where I was playing the next year, I told him I had no team to play for and might not continue playing, and he immediately got me to sign up for Marredpally Cricket Club. It was an A1 division league team, something I could not have dreamt of playing for, led by the charismatic and larger than life ML Jaisimha. MCC was a happy bunch of Sunday cricketers then, enjoying Sunday games in the company of old friends. Aravind Rao, Santosh Reddy, Govind Raj, Suresh Borgaonkar, were the senior players. Raghu, Sudhir, Hari were in college. Fazal and I made up the juniors in a year where we rarely made an eleven. Fazal would do a lot of running in the outfield, manfully covering the entire cover region, as the seniors were too old to run. I hardly helped him, but I did my bowling well enough.

Fazal played that one year with us and the next year, for some reason, I don't know if he left voluntarily or if the sudden influx of talent in the form of Vivek and Vidyuth, Venkatapathy and Srinivas Chakravarty, Sunil Phillips, Imtiaz, Pavan, Sanjay, and others in MCC made it difficult for Fazal to be in the XI. Apparently, he went on to play for Saleemnagar.
The South Zone Under 15 team that won at Bangalore -
Muzaffar, Mallikarjun, Sanjay, Me, Kishenlal, Abdulla, Vijay Kumar, Aijaz, Affeff(standing)
Srinivas Chakravarthy, Chetan, D. Srinivas, Prahlad (Manager), Masood, Fazal Abbas, Vidyuth Jaisimha

I lost touch with him after that. A few years later I met him again in one of those crazy private tournaments where we played opposing sides in a tense final watched by a big crowd supporting two local teams. Fazal was batting well with a half-century, they were close to a win with 4 runs to get, plenty of overs in hand but only the last man to keep him company. I was given the ball in a make or break situation. Fazal was on strike. Two balls he defended, and on the third, I found the perfect length and hit him on the pad. It was a fifty-fifty decision I felt and the umpire raised his finger. All hell broke loose.

Apparently, the other team had the support of a violent local faction and a huge posse of their supporters descended on the pitch. Our team supporters sensed danger and two cars screeched on to the ground urging us to get in. We hurriedly got in and the cars left in a cloud of dust in true filmy fashion. The irate supporters beat up the umpire I heard while we escaped through some small routes and got to Bidar late at night to attend a winning party. I wonder what Fazal went through then. This was just after my engineering days - 1987-88.

Years later while working at IDBI, I bumped into him at the coffee shop opposite our office and we caught up. We must have been 35 or so then - twenty years since our Bangalore tryst. He had become quieter. Life somehow does that to us as we grow older and some illusions we harbored fade and we find it difficult to adjust. He had put on some weight but he was as sweet as ever with his famous smile and his kind eyes. I asked him what he was up to and he said he was into real estate. He did not look too happy about that but we promised to meet each other and moved on.

Last week we got a message form Masood, our captain on that Under 15 trip from the US. He had heard that Fazal had passed away due to a cardiac arrest. Several of our cricketer friends had passed away in all these years. Arjun, Dinesh, Shahid, Sridhar and so many more. It's a large community and we somehow always connect at the level we connected during our playing days - however successful or not we finally are in life or in cricket. Skippers remain skippers for life, mates remain mates. The Under 15 trip was a huge growing up stage for all us and I was quite shocked to hear the news. I checked with Masood if he knew where Fazal lived. He directed me to Ifti and Ifti directed me to Shuja and Shuja got me Fazal's brother's number. I spoke to him over the phone and told him I would come to meet.

Yesterday, along with Ehtesham, our school captain and someone who played 45 Ranji games including the winning team against Delhi in the 1987 Ranji season, I went to meet the family. His brother told us that Fazal had a stroke in 2002 and he slowed down after that. He put on a lot of weight as an after effect. He had been suffering from two months and was hospitalized. One by one his vitals failed until he passed away ten days ago. He is survived by his wife and a 12-year-old daughter.

Ehtu told his brother to trust in God above. His brother was very appreciative of the fact that we took time to meet him. I felt I needed to do this. For my long-haired, handsome, teammate, the smiling, sweet, quiet young boy who prowled the covers and hit those sweet square cuts and cover drives. Someone with whom I shared some fine memories. I showed Fazal's brother the pictures on my blog of cricketing memories, of our Under 15 days and he was very happy to see that. We bid goodbye and came away.  I wondered why we had never kept in touch. At least to say hello, once in a while. But despite that, we never forgot you Fazal.

Rest in peace Fazal old friend.